Wednesday, March 28, 2018

word ...

Words for Wednesday is a weekly writing prompt designed to get creative juices flowing.  The weekly prompts can be used in any way ... all, some, or none of the words. The idea is just to become inspired to write...anything...poetry or prose, fiction or nonfiction, sci-fi or fantasy.  I've been continuing with characters that made their first appearance in January ... This month's words have been provided by Delores at Mumblings, and they are engine, thunder, rolling, blast, ancient, boulder and or misstep, ponder, volume, crib, split and brilliant.

Percy watched from the shadows of the forest as the train engine rumbled past him like rolling thunder.  Just then the engineer let loose a loud blast from the train's whistle and he stepped back farther into the woods wondering if he had been seen.  His contact was to meet him on the other side
of the railway, in an ancient cemetery that was near an abbey built into boulders on the side of a mountain in Salzburg, Austria.  It was a popular tourist attraction, and he was hoping that the cold and rain would make it less of an attraction than some of the other beautiful churches in town that offered an escape from the weather.

The information he had been given about his contact didn't give him much to go on, and he wondered if this had been a misstep of his superiors.  If all went well on this mission, it was to be his last, a concept that often caused him to ponder whether or not he could heal the hurt he caused his wife and daughter when he had disappeared from their lives.

The volume in his earpiece crackled as lightning struck nearby, and he whispered into a small microphone built into the collar of his overcoat.

"You're sure this thing won't turn me into a lightning rod?"

He could hear muffled laughter in his ear, and then his supervisor's voice barked at him.

"Shut it and focus on the mission.  We can't afford to lose this contact.  You remember the code word to verify that it is him, yes?"

Percy winced at the loud voice that felt like it was going to split his head in two.

"I'm to ask if he knows how to play crib, right?"  He smiled wryly, knowing that his response would further set his supervisor off.

"Cribbage!  How many times must I tell you?  Cribbage!"

"Right.  Right you are.  Brilliant game that cribbage is.  Only for the aged, is it?  No wonder I can't recall the name."

He could hear crashing and cussing as his supervisor must have pulled off his headset and thrown it to the floor of the van parked near the abbey.  Grinning he stepped out of the shadows and crossed the tracks.  He'd better get this final mission right or his supervisor might just make his death official rather than faked.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

what day is it?

Time seems to fly when you haven't been sleeping well.  Days all rolled into one ...

The original Words for Wednesday was begun by Delores and eventually taken over by a moveable feast of participants when Delores had computer troubles. It has now come full circle. The aim of the words is to encourage us to write, a story, a poem, whatever comes to mind. These are this week's words: configuration, blame, jaundiced, spend, destiny, blank, cornflower, dusting, minced, tasty, afterward, and plump. 

Percy glanced up from the configuration of zeroes and ones that scrolled across the computer screen as a sound outside his office door suddenly became louder and louder.  The alarm clock in his bedroom was going off and he realized he had been daydreaming about his and Ivan's childhood again.  He stood and walked into the bedroom through the adjoining door and turned the alarm off.  

When had he set it?  He couldn't remember.  Sleep had been evading his grasp for at least a week, and he had no one to blame but himself.  He'd been taking on not only his responsibilities but that of his superior when the man had unexpectedly become jaundiced and needed to be hospitalized.  The doctors had told him he would need to spend at least a week in the hospital while they ran tests to determine what had caused the condition.  Percy suspected it was his superior's drinking and hard habits caused by the stress of the work they did, although others thought perhaps he had been poisoned.

He stretched his arms and thought again back to those days when he and Ivan would pretend to be secret agents and wondered if they had suspected at that young age that they were setting their destiny.  If they had known what the blank future held, they might have chosen to play other games.

Stepping to the window he looked out over the azure-colored waters with the cornflower blue sky above it.  The temperature was expected to be near 100, with the humidity almost as high.  What he would give for just a dusting of snow to remind him of home.  He wondered what his wife and daughter were doing, and whether or not they would ever forgive him for leaving as he did.

He had missed them the most during the past holidays.  Eleanor's minced meat pies in the oven had always made the house smell warm and comforting.  She had teased him more than once that the only reason he had married her was due to her tasty baking during the holidays, and leaning back in his chair at the dining room table afterward he had always patted his plump stomach and laughed in agreement.

The memory of his mother's holiday pies and baking came to mind, and he once again drifted back in thought to that day his father had walked out on them, never to return while his mother was alive.  The unexpected end of her marriage and the abrupt departure of the man she had adored crushed her and she was never the same after that.  Many years later when the two boys had become men and were pursuing enemies of the government around the world, they had discovered that they were actually following in their father's footsteps.  

The fight, divorce, and disappearance of their father had all been a sham created to distance the danger between his work and his family.  It had been a decision made by the powers that were in charge at the time when news of the break-in at their home had been revealed.  It wasn't a random act, but a targeted plan to search for information the enemy suspected their father was keeping at home.  Finding out that their father had been working undercover for the government had been a shock to them, but they had been unable to share the information with their mother.  She had died of a broken heart when they were at university.

Now Percy had been forced to make the same decision for his own family, and it was one that he deeply regretted.  He, at least, had been given the option of a faked death over a painful divorce and abandonment.  The thought of saying and doing anything to hurt Eleanor even more than his death might have was not something he was willing to do and he had put his foot down quite fiercely when his superior had told him there was no other option.  He remembered the hurt and confusion that he and Ivan had carried well into their 30's, wondering if something they had done caused their father to abandon them.  He refused to lay that guilt on his daughter.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wednesday's Words

The original Words for Wednesday was begun by Delores and eventually taken over by a moveable feast of participants when Delores had computer troubles. It has now come full circle. The aim of the words is to encourage us to write, a story, a poem, whatever comes to mind. These are this week's words: caper, sharper, (oops!) scarper, trash, bedlam, seams, penny whistle and/or glum, charmed, pork, glossy, pride, trench.

When they were younger, Percy and Ivan would pretend they were secret agents.  They would create an imaginative caper to spy on their parents and scarper to find hidden treasures.  The games they played made their investigative skills sharper and by the time the brothers were in middle school, they knew they wanted to become real secret agents when they grew up.

One weekend while they were looking for clues and secret messages in the household trash, they found copies of a draft divorce settlement agreement.  They knew their lives would never be the same again.  Agreeing to not speak of what they found, the brothers bond grew even stronger.

Weeks after their unsettling find they returned home from school to find the house in bedlam, and their mother in tears on the floor, the seams of one of her dress sleeves torn apart.  Rushing to her side they managed to calm her enough to tell them what had happened.

She had been walking their dog, Ralphie, as she usually did at that time when he escaped from his collar and wouldn't come back to her when she called.  She had gone back to the house to get the small penny whistle they used to call him.  When she walked into the house, she found the kitchen drawers turned upside down on the floor, and pictures pulled off the walls and smashed.  Hearing a noise upstairs, she found a strange man rummaging through her dresser drawers looking for something.  Startled, she screamed and he had grabbed her dress sleeve as he ran from the room.

The boys called the police and stayed with their mother while she worked with a police sketch artist to try to identify the man.  When their father finally came home from work with a glum look on his face, he didn't even ask what had happened.  He just went into the den and closed the door behind him.  Their mother had burst into tears again and ran upstairs to their bedroom.

Stunned at their father's behavior, the boys had quietly knocked on the den door.


Percy opened the door and entered cautiously.  "Uh, Father, did you want to know what happened to the house today and why the police were here?"

"I heard about it already.  The police came to the office at an inopportune time.  My boss was charmed that they interrupted a sales pitch to a potential client.  Needless to say, we didn't get their business, and it is highly unlikely that I will get the promotion I wanted.  I really don't want to discuss anything more about it.  Do you know what your mother is planning for dinner tonight?"

 Ivan shifted his feet nervously.  "I believe she has a pork loin in the slow cooker."

"Lovely.  I hate pork.  That will put just the right glossy shine on the day.  Let her know that I will be eating dinner out tonight.  Again.  You can leave now."

The boys looked at each other and backed out of the room, closing the door as they left.  This behavior from their father was completely new to them and they weren't sure how to react to his prideful indifference.  As they walked towards the stairs to comfort their mother, their father grabbed his trench coat out of the closet and slammed out the front door.

Ivan looked quietly at the door then to Percy.

"We need to find out who that man was and what he was looking for in mother's room.  I think father may have had something to do with it."

Percy nodded quietly as they walked upstairs.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Wednesday's Words on Thursday

The original Words for Wednesday was begun by Delores and eventually taken over by a moveable feast of participants when Delores had computer troubles. It has now come full circle. The aim of the words is to encourage us to write, a story, a poem, whatever comes to mind. These are this week's words: tarmac, whine, lobby, vestige, dither, spark and/or enormous, jitters, dangle, stumped, bellicose and mangle. Oh, my!

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Percy stood on the tarmac in the early hours of sunrise, listening to the whine of the airplane's engines as it powered down.  He could have waited inside the small airport's lobby where there were lights and air conditioning.  But since he had long ago lost all vestige of hope that he would see his wife and daughter again, he wasn't going to waste any more time dithering about whether or not they would want to see him.  He had always held onto some small spark of faith that this day would come but had kept it in the farthest reaches of his mind.  The work he had to do was far too important and enormously dangerous to let that thought come forward at an inopportune time.

Standing in the shadows, watching as two women departed the plane, he was surprised to realize that he had the jitters although whether it was from nervous apprehension or excitement he could not tell.  One of the flight attendants stepped to the top of the stairs from the small private jet and called to the women while a sweater dangled from her hand.  The smaller of the two women turned and stumped back up the stairs to retrieve it.  He could hear her laughter as she complained about being stiff after the long flight, and his heart skipped a beat at the sound of his daughter's voice.

As much as he had regretted leaving them when he did, he knew that if he had not, his bellicose for the work he had needed to do would have been compromised.  He walked slowly towards the lobby where both women were now hugging and laughing with his brother, Ivan.  His mangled leg ached as he walked, a wound from one of many battles he had fought since he last saw them.  There was once a time when he thought he would never consider taking a "desk job" but his most recent injuries made the decision for him. 

At least, he would be able to finally be with his family again.