Speakeasy was not so easy for me this week…

A flash sparked across the sky. Within minutes, there was pounding and kicking of feet against the outside of the door. She was paralyzed with fear. What would happen if that door gave way? Would that door give way?

For the past day and a half, she’d pounded and kicked on that door from the inside until the fatty pads on both her fists and the balls of her feet were so swollen and bruised, she couldn’t bear to think of doing it again. She was certain her left shoulder was dislocated too. She knew they’d been out there, peering at her panic through the peephole. She’d heard their mumbled grunts and snickers through the old vents overhead. One of them had yelled once for her to shut up or he’d put one bullet through the steel-encased door and the next one through her. By the tiny holes of light that spilled through, it looked as though that wouldn’t be the first time a bullet had hit that door, which meant she hadn’t been the first one brought to this stink hole out in the middle of this abandoned city area. She wanted so badly to be able to climb up to the boarded, vented spot that looked like it had once been a window; but it was too high. She couldn’t scale block wall.

What had her brother done to get her into this mess? She knew it had something to do with him; with the people he’d chosen to hang around since they’d gotten to this God-forsaken country. He’d been getting into trouble since the day he was born – and she’d always been there to take the fall for him – or run. Why should this time be any different? After all, he’d talked her into coming there with him; said they could take care of each other. She’d been so starved for love since all other relationships had blown apart, she’d foolishly agreed.

Speaking of hunger, her stomach had growled for the past several hours in protest to the 36 or so before that since she’d been locked away in this drab, mildewed concrete box. Dark would be coming again soon. The vented openings afforded her this knowledge, as did her cracked wristwatch. Her lips also cracked as she tried to salve them with what little remaining saliva was stuck to her tongue. She’d slid her back down the length of the cold metal door whenever her butt had found a resting place on the colder concrete slab. She’d closed her eyes, eventually resigning herself to another night, more miserable than the first – except for the fact that she was done screaming to herself…and they might not allow her to live through another one. What did they want, anyway?

She’d wondered if she even had an audience anymore. She hadn’t heard anybody stirring outside for hours. They’d probably run out for Chinese, if you could get that out here. She wondered. Her lip snarled at the thought, a little fantasy of where she might jab a pair of chopsticks if given a fighting chance. Those two monsters who’d snatched her off the bus, in front of a handful of in country citizens who weren’t willing to come to her aid, gave a bad name to gorillas. Okay, maybe they’d said guerillas. But she hadn’t doubted their animal instincts for a minute, particularly because of the way the one had bent her fingers back until they felt like they’d been yanked out of their joint spaces. She’d cried for him to stop, to let her go. Truth be told, she’d never been that brave; and she’d always been adverse to pain. Yet, the unfairness of this situation had her angry enough not to care anymore. She wished she could get her revenge and seal both those mongrels up in here permanently – as an entombed memorial to their dirty deeds.

With nothing more to do as she’d become ensconced by the darkness, at some point, she’d succumbed to sleep. She hadn’t been aware of what time it was, as she couldn’t read her watch in pitch blackness. But at some point in the night, she’d heard the automatic weapons being discharged, closing in more tightly around her. She’d slid over to the far corner of her hollow concrete box, as far as possible from the door, remaining low while covering her head. Her body had involuntarily shaken from the mixture of cold and fear, as she’d heard groups of men shouting out low, baritone calls. Suddenly, the high vented barricade had splintered into pieces, flying inward and showering her with wood, plastic and small shards of metal. She’d bitten into the inside of her mouth and winced quietly, too afraid to cry out with the shattering pain that had accosted her.

Thereafter, everything had become deadly silent. Slowly, she released the cramped squeeze on the muscles encasing her eyes. With blurred vision, she glanced up towards the gaping hole, still full of frustration that she couldn’t scramble up that wall to reach it, but also knowing she’d be too scared to go out there, even if she could step right through it. That’s when she’d heard the blast, like a missile being launched; then she’d seen the flash. Strangely, it had reminded her of a family fireworks show she’d once had with her brother, where one of the cans had tipped and sparks had gone flying. Her brother had steadily held his place, un-phased by the danger, smiling in satisfaction over the chaos; while she had run away, crying.

A round of bullets took the doorknob from its place. She covered her head in fear once more. Someone yanked the metal barricade unsteadily from its encasement and stomped through the opening. “Found her, sir!” The cry went down the alley, as the sound of boots scuffing the walk obviously approached in a hurried fashion. She peered up to see that same un-phased grin from her childhood.

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This one was for the Speakeasy #100 at yeah write

Except…I made it a 1,000 word post like last time before seeing that it was limited this week to 500 words.

Yeah, yeah. I’m a teacher & a mom. Shame on me for NOT READING OR FOLLOWING THE DIRECTIONS!!! Lesson learned…

I’m limited on time this week for rewrites as there’s a dastardly dissertation chapter with a self-imposed deadline on it, so…I’m not going to link it up to the challenge grid, but I’m going to post my story and keep this badge up, in case any readers want to know how to link up and participate. (As I recall, the linking deadline is tonight.) Peace, -jody

Geo-splashing

The smell was noticeable – undeniably so. His nostrils tingled from it, as sharp as his mind had been as a young boy when he’d first encountered it and learned to thirst for it. It caused the hair on his arms to stand, as if they were rejoicing together in chorus. He took three steps and looked up from the middle of his barren field, into the heavens. When the first ping splashed off the deep crease in his forehead, he tilted his head back and closed his eyes, spreading his calloused hands as wide as the smile on his face, to catch the next few that followed. A sweet minty smell lingered, then the musty odor of geosmin throughout the damp earth rose up the moment his knees hit the ground. Behind shaded eyelids, his gratitude reverberated in a dance that kept time to the cadence of the rainfall. He envisioned lush green shades of certainty surrounding him, regardless of the direction he turned, replacing the dull, dried, cracking brown of a less embraced reality. He sucked in a deep, meditative breath to cleanse his parched soul.

“Alvin! Alvin!” He heard the familiar cry of his name, repeated again and again, as it resonated first from the porch, growing all the way to the field. “Al-vin!”

He didn’t open his eyes and look up at her until he felt her approach lightly disturb the soil. That is, after all, how he had processed everything that he held dear for his entire life – according to its interaction with the earth. He was a farmer by blood and trade, after all.

“I know, Bertha. I know,” he smiled, watching as she waved the television remote control around in her hand. “I heard it too. The weatherman said there’d be no chance of it today…or tomorrow…or for weeks to come for all he could tell.”

“He was still swearin’ by that, too, as my feet hit the porch, Alvin. Says there’s no sign of rain in sight, maybe for months to come. What if it’s just…?”

“Shush, now, woman,” he chuckled, pulling her down next to him, as though they were as young as the day they first came out into this field together. Of course, the corn stalks were much higher and better at concealing their secrets in those days. “Let’s be careful of the voices we choose to hear, what say?”

He was discerning enough to recognize that a couple of splashes trickling down his wife’s face were warmer than the rest. He smelled their saltiness, too, as he nuzzled in and kissed both her cheeks while she stared up at a large cloud cover sitting squarely on top of them, with a deluge pouring down from the heavens – in just the right amount. The floodgates that opened weren’t so heavy to swamp their field; and they weren’t so spate to prevent the ground from soaking up the refreshing nourishment.

“Oh, Alvin. I’m so ashamed that I didn’t come out here with you today, especially after comin’ all those others. It just got to be…so tough, day after heat-filled day, to watch our crops drying up, with nary an answer on the horizon. But you…you remained faithful…”

“Didn’t I always tell you I would, woman?” His good-natured laughter lit up his leathery face.

“Yes, but…oh, you know what I mean!” She pushed against his chest in a mixture of flirtatiousness and embarrassment.

“It’s the exact same thing, Bertha – as with you and me. Don’t ya’ see? We’ve had our dry spells – but that didn’t keep me from comin’ out here every single day and doin’ what had to be done. And we’ve had our times of plenty – but that didn’t once cause me to go searchin’ somewhere else to spend my time than right here where I was meant to be. When I promised to be faithful to you…to us…watchin’ over and workin’ this land was all a part of that deal.”

“But I promised to be by your side. And I wasn’t today, was I…when your prayer got answered? I was inside, givin’ up; listenin’ to what some stranger had to say ‘bout the matter; believin’ him instead of what I promised to do – to be faithful.” She hung her head in shame.

He lifted her chin and gave her nose a playful tweak. “Ah now, woman, you weren’t too awfully far away, were ya’? I could still smell your gardenias out by the front porch. And I could smell that apple pie you were bakin’ in the kitchen. Beyond that, I caught a whiff of your chickens in their coop just before I felt that first drop of rain. Oh, and you left your laundry on the line….”

He pulled her back towards him as she looked towards her clothesline in distress. “Relax. We’ll gather it all up later, like we always do.”

“Do you ever miss a thing, Alvin? Anything at all?”

“Just one, Bertha. You – when you’re not around. But, I swear I believe I could hear ya’ callin’ my name all the way from two towns over if you needed me. You’re that much a part of me, woman. How much more faithfulness could a man stand?”

“Well, now that we’re soaked to the bone, would you care to come in and get some of that apple pie that’s coolin’ by the oven?”

“That’s what I love ’bout you most, Bertha. You’re such a temptress. And now that you smell like a mix of my God-given earth and this life-givin’ rain, I swear I won’t be able to resist anything you’re willin’ to offer.” He lifted his eyebrows twice over the twinkle in his old, gray eyes.

Bertha giggled like a school girl when she said, “Alvin, do you recall the first time we ever came out into this field together?”

“Forget that apple pie, Bertha. Let’s work us up a recipe for some mud pies instead…”

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I ran across this site in my blogging travels and decided I needed to try it on for size. The size is 1,000 words (or less), which this post is exactly to the word count. (No, I’m not OCD. Okay, maybe a little, but only on specific occasions, when I’m not being ADD or any vast number of other in vogue acronyms.)

This challenge features a dual prompt which includes, for this week, a picture of a remote control and a first writing line that must read (I’ll bet you can guess this): “The smell was noticeable.” Other than that, I just know it has to be posted between Tuesday and Wednesday and must be either fiction or poetry. As is my custom, I never allow myself to read others’ work before submitting my own, so I’m uncertain as to the types of submissions to expect here. Nor can I guarantee that it falls into the category of being “more interesting than what’s on basic cable,” as “non-reality” television and Dateline repeating the same murder scenarios with different names has long exhausted my own interest. (Did that sound TV-snobbery enough for a writing community? Boy, I hope so! Just kidding!) 😉

So I’m thinking, let’s give this thing a whirl, what say?

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