Under The Clock Towers – Flash Fiction

clock tower

Circus Lane, Edinburgh, United Kingdom by Omar Yassen

Shafer nursed his pint of Guinness at the worn bar under the Clock Towers that sheltered the old tavern. The pub had been there so long the wood bar was dark and greasy from years of dirty palms and spilled drinks. Dents and gouges marked the wood giving it character and a sense of presence to the smoky interior. Old men of a certain age sat huddled in groups, round tables or in the hard wooden booths. There was an air of silent comradery to the mumbled conversations that filled the pub with a hum that had neither a beginning nor an end. It was as it had always been, ever since Shafer was old enough for his first pint.

That was long ago; though not so long that he was ready to join in with one of the groups of men. That and he was still a loner. Always had been. Maybe it was his occupation that kept him from joining in. He knew too much about everyone there. He knew who had been unfaithful to which wife, or who owed so much on their bill at the pub. He dealt in information, using it like currency. Though he never used it for favors. He was, at best an honest dealer.

People came to him for information, he gave it to them, and they paid, leaving happy with the news, or at least, satisfied, albeit disturbed at times. But he couldn’t help how people took his information. He never promised to sugar-coat it. He was blunt and to the point. If people didn’t want to know the answer, they shouldn’t ask the question.
Despite what he knew, people still treated him with a modicum of respect. He supposed it was because they were afraid he might report any illegal activity to the authorities, which he could have done numerous times. But he had a reputation of discretion and he liked to keep it that way. It was bad for business if you were a snitch.

The door to the pub swung open and an icy blast of January cold blew in through the door, biting at the heels of the charming woman who stepped in hesitant and unsure. She quickly shut the door behind her as some of the patrons emitted growls of displeasure at the cold surrounding their old bones

Shafer watched her as her eyes adjusted to the gloom. She was as lovely now as when she had come to him two weeks ago. Dressed in a long, forest green wool jacket, buttoned up to the neck with brass buttons, she looked very prim and proper. And so out of place in the pub that Shafer decided to be nice and rescue her from her fortress of uneasiness. He tapped his glass creating a slight ring and her eyes flew towards the sound. He saw a smattering of relief in her eyes as she recognized him and made her way around the tables to the bar.

Normally he would have met her in his office, but the walls there had ears, especially with the information he had found out. Here, at least, no one cared that much about secrets. Beer had a tendency to loosen the tongue and nothing was ever taken seriously.

“Mr. Shafer,” the woman greeted, her eyes darting around the room.

“Mrs. Ballington.”

“You said you had some information for me?” She questioned as if unsure of the message he had sent her telling her so and where to meet him.

“I do. Would you like a drink?”

“No. No, thank you.” She nervously moistened her lips

Shafer sighed. He hated to do this with such a decent lady.

“Could you just tell me?” she nearly whispered.

“Yes. Your husband is having an affair. In fact, he’s having three.” He sighed again as he saw the way the words hit her and she started to crumble.

 

Wow. So I don’t normally finish a piece of fiction thinking, “wow,”, but this time I certainly did as I read this on Saturday at my writing group. D and I sat there and I just knew it was a good piece.I want to finish it, but I’m not sure how, or where I’d go with it. But with the word prompts of clock towers, forest green, and Guinness, I went from being totally uninspired an hour prior, to being super excited at the end. I’m loving this flash fiction moments that hit. They are really inspiring.

I sort of saw this as a piece that could take place at any time, though with the coat the woman wears, I think steampunk. A long green jacket that goes almost to the floor, with those brass buttons that I picture as being shiny. And I see the woman as an auburn haired lady with her hair up almost Gibson girl style.

I do hope you enjoy and I’ll see if I can make this go further.

Kate

Morning in Prose – Poetry

Winter DaysI’m not awake as I wait for the coffee to perk, my dog trying to make sure I love him with head-butts nd snuffles since he is why I’m up; he knows I wanted to sleep in as we now sit crashed on a sofa, him under my old baby quilt, fast asleep and cozy while I’m bleary-eyed waiting for the only thing that makes the mornings tolerable, while outside the sun shines warm, trying to beat back the cold north wind of a blustery March day, trying to be spring as winter hangs on with sharp, clutching nails, though the violets seem oblivious to the cold as their warm, sweet scent floats up, mocking the cold.

Now the mountains are shrouded in mist and cold, a wild needle-like wind bites and sinks into the skin, and I feel like I’m back in January while the calendar says spring is moments away, or years, or just days…. Only the weather seems to know what the mornings shall bring…..

 

Just a bit of prose, I think.

Kate

What Are We – Poem (and more)

What Are WeI swear, I have written more ‘good’ poetry in the past week than I have all year. Sometimes one needs a focus, and right now, I have one. (on a side note, I’ve been watching too much ‘magical-ish’ type things as I’m thinking of ley lines and focuses for magic) But as writers, we do need a focus. Be it a song, a picture, or a person. Everyone needs their muse. My muse is a person right now. Frustration runs supreme with him, but it makes for some of my best work. I honestly wonder if writers can actually be happy. Maybe they need the unhappy in life to write the happy. Because I can say that I write best when I’m in a depressed mood. Not like seriously depressed, but when I’m not my perfect giddy self. When I’m giddy, I just want to absorb life. When I’m down, I write to escape life. I focus on the gritty of life. I write poetry and I get my hands dirty. So to speak.

So, as you can see, my frustration is hitting my poetry. And I’m listening to the most amazing playlist and it works with my mood. Check out the playlist here, Great Northern Campfire Vol. 5. 

Maybe you can play it while you write. Maybe it will inspire you during this cold time of year. While the nights come too soon, and the new year is here.

Kate

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas deariesMerry Christmas, readers one and all. My dearies who have held up under my very random, but Christmas inspired 25 Days of Christmas.

I hope you all have a wonderful day. I’ll be taking a few days off through the weekend to just relax a bit and hopefully write some posts for future dates. I’ve been doing these blog challenges and I love ’em, but man, they require a bit more foresight that I don’t seem to always have. Especially towards the end. I still have a Toolbox post in the works. A Writer’s Path (Ryan, I think)  knows what I mean since I commented about his blog and his toolbox… I’m rambling. Anyways, I have ideas in the works. I still need to attempt more flash fiction, but it seems to have escaped me this month. Ironically since I want to write Christmas flash fiction! I had this thought about being snowbound at Christmas, a la Hallmark-y film with the Bing wallpaper that was the other day’s…..SJMountainCabin_EN-US11195673674_1920x1080 I just have ideas I need to work on!  Now that I don’t have sewing projects, I might be able to finish or start some writing things.

So, I hope you all are having a great Christmas wherever you are. North, south, east and west.

Kate

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

merry christmasJust a short post today since it is Christmas Eve and I’m sure we are all traveling somewhere, or are with our friends and family for the holidays.  This year it is very quiet for my family and I. We didn’t go to any friend’s house for eggnog and cheer… though we did do it a couple weeks ago and hot buttered rum was the specialty of the day…. That was incredibly good and I’ve since made the recipe and we have enjoyed that immensely.

My grandparents are way down south, along with my girl friend Jules (Mrs. Austen) and Boris is down under…. As in Australia.  (pssst…. I wish I could have gone with him. I’d love to go to Australia. And well, to go with Boris… who has someone drive him to his hotel. He doesn’t drive himself. I swear, it’s like Edward from Pretty Woman….)

There is snow on the mountains here in CA. A fast moving storm blew in and dropped a bit up in the peaks… And made it incredibly cold. Brrr.  Not a white Christmas per say, but close enough.

So, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! (don’t forget to hang those stockings and put out the milk and cookies.)

Kate

I Smell Snow

Tonight, it smells like snow.  Or December.  I think December has a very distinct smell that reminds me of The Carpenters, John Denver‘s “Aspenglow” song, Columbia, California  and clearly Christmas.  It’s this woodsmoke and cold, mountain air. It’s misty cold from the pines. It’s pines.  It’s the smell of Christmas trees and old candy canes.

Snow smells. People that don’t get snow wouldn’t understand, but snow has this metallic, slightly dirty smell. Like damp dust.  Only it’s cleaner and fresher. And colder.  I know it sounds strange to say snow smells like dust, but every snowflake is made from a speck of dust.  you would not have snow unless you had dirt.  Sounds even stranger.  But seriously, melt snow and the water isn’t very clean at the bottom.  And it tastes weird.  Definitely dirty.  I like to eat snow, but even it doesn’t taste like clean water. Yet you think it is because it’s white.

So, tonight, it smells like metallic cold pines and woodsmoke.

Tonight I smell snow.

That being said, I don’t know if it’s going to snow, but it might be in the mountains. All of California is getting much needed precipitation of some sort.

Kate

Winter Haikus

I was inspired recently by C.B. Wentworth‘s post on haikus, The Haiku Debate.  Her article was quite interesting and I urge you all to go take a look.  I liked how she talked about traditional form and non traditional.  The 5-7-5 rules and how Japanese haiku was never written in three lines, but one long line. I figured that out from reading Liza Dalby‘s East Wind Melts the Ice (a personal favorite book of mine).

 

I actually really like haiku, though I don’t read much of it.  It’s rather soothing, short and says a whole lot in a very little space. I’m very wordy, never get my point across quickly, and ramble. So this is like a breath of fresh air for me. So, haiku is this cute little package of poetry. You can jot it down on a small piece of paper and it doesn’t take up any room.

 

So I pulled out my Haikubes the other night and used them to come up with two wintery haikus. I just picked some keywords and added in what I thought fit for the time of year. Here is what I came up with

 

 

 

Winter promises

English: Flying geese over Marsh Farm Marsh Fa...

English: Flying geese over Marsh Farm Marsh Farm campsite http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1396185 has lots of fishing lakes to attract birds, these seem to live on the site full time apart from when they all take their evening flight. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Grand icy traveling

 

Fire warms any heart

 

 

 

And

 

 

 

Flocks of lofty geese

 

Flying giant arrow vees

 

Wind over water

 

 

They might not be quite right, but I liked the thought.  And it’s practice. I feel I should probably read Basho’s book on haiku, but I’ve not gotten around to reading it yet. I only have so much time for poetry and I have a lot of poets I follow now.

 

But I want to thank C.B. for her post because it was the inspirational kick I needed.

 

What do you all think? And do you write haiku?

 

Kate

Eve and Noel – Flash Fiction

green-velvet-bow-long-sleeves-1950s-vintage-dress blue-velvet-short-sleeves-1950s-vintage-dressEve and Noel, identical twins in almost every way. Born only a couple minutes apart, Eve on the 24th, and Noel on the 25th, they were named after the holiest of days. Serene and elegant, both women were lovely to look at and calming to be around.

They both attended the Christmas Eve service with their parents. Eve wore a forest green, velvet dress, the skirt full from layers upon layers of tulle, with one of the layers edged in delicate silver, giving a glint as she walked. Her heels were matching velvet, with silver glitter on the four inch heels, twinkling as she walked. She kept with the theme of forest green on her nails, and a huge emerald and silver ring on her middle finger. Silver and green like a diamond Christmas tree, said her father. She had giggled in delight. Every year a specific color stood out for the holiday season. Last year it had been cranberry red, the year before, silver, black, and red.

churchatchristmas_2772351b 6332648515_fbf297138e_zWhile Eve was resplendent in green, Noel was in shades of sapphire blue. They set each other off perfectly with their red gold hair, similar to Rosemary Clooney’s in White Christmas. They were a statement as they walked into the little chapel, arms linked as they made their way to their favorite pew to the delicate strains of “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.”

Heads turned as watched the two women. Neither of them were proud, but it was impossible to ignore the stir they made.

“Our girls look like models,” their father remarked as he and his lovely wife followed behind their daughters; and it was true.

 

Okay, I wrote this piece of flash fiction last year on Christmas Eve. There wasn’t much of a plot other than velvet dresses and Rosemary Clooney. Enjoy

Kate

Trees

2013's Christmas tree at the home of Kate's Bookshelf.

2013’s Christmas tree at the home of Kate’s Bookshelf.

It is the first of December already. How is this possible?  Wasn’t it just July? Wasn’t it just hot?

Normally by this time of year we would either have a. purchased the Christmas tree from a tree farm, b. already had the tree up, or c. it was in the bucket of water waiting to go up. None of those apply this year. We have yet to get our tree even due to relying on a friend to cut down a tree from the National forest and bringing it to us.  Where we live, we can get a lovely tree for only $10 if you get a permit from the Forest Service and go out into the forest and cut one down.

There is nothing quite like having a fresh tree from the forest.  They are spectacular, bugs included because yes, they come with bugs. Or spiders.  I mean, it’s from the forest. What do you expect? Sterile and sprayed with chemicals? I don’t think so. And I don’t do artificial.  Last year we were getting our permit from the forest service and the two young guys working there, rangers, were discussing the fact that one of them only has an artificial tree and sprays it down with pine tree scent so it smells.  What The!!!?  I mean, come on. You work for the forest service. You know where the trees are. You know that the forest is filled with too many trees. (and people that live in the city and are liberal, don’t try to tell me we are running out of trees. that is a pile of crap. A huge load of hog crap [why hog? because it smells worse than cow])

I love having a Christmas tree up. Usually it is up for a good two months. Yes, just when people are thinking about Valentine’s Day is when our tree is finally coming down.  Sue me. I love Christmas.

So, I am anxiously waiting for our tree. Not quite ready to figure out the rearranging of the living room to fit said tree, but well, that’s part of life.

So, when do you put up your tree?

Signing off

Kate