Nothing Personal

The man in the military uniform shoved me through the doorway and pointed to the lone chair in the middle of the otherwise empty room, motioning for me to sit. I sat down and he proceeded to bind my hands and feet to the chair. Then he told me to stay put. “Your quite taciturn, aren’t you?” I said.

“Huh?” he grunted.

“You don’t have much to say,” I responded. He ignored me and left me alone in the room.

After a few minutes, a short, sinister-looking man in a business suit walked into the room and shut the door behind him. I looked up at him and sarcastically said, “I love what you’ve done with the place, Boris. It’s quite opulent, don’t you think?”

“Who are you working with, James?” he asked.

“Seriously, Boris,” I responded. “No small talk, no clever banter. No how’s the family? How very disappointing.”

Boris leaned in close to me, his face inches from my own, his sour breath fouling the air. “Answer my question, James,” he demanded. “Who are you working with?”

“Boris, Boris, Boris,” I said. “You know I only fly solo.”

“I find your wit strangely quaint under these circumstances,” Boris said, “given that you’re unlikely to leave this room alive. So let me ask you yet again, James. Who are you working with?

“Unlikely to leave this room alive?” I said. “Are you going to tell me next that it’s nothing personal and that it’s just business?”

I’ve always liked you, James,” Boris said in a mocking tone, “but if you don’t tell me what I need to know, I think you will find what happens next will be quite personal and even more painful.”

At that moment the door was pushed open and a flash grenade was tossed in, filling the room with smoke. By the time the smoke cleared, Boris was lying unconscious in front of the chair.

A woman came over and untied my hands and feet. “As usual, Natasha,” I said, “your timing is impeccable.”9B3987E6-81FF-461D-955C-7CB87951E06C

Written for these daily prompts: Scotts Daily Prompt (stay), Word of the Day Challenge (taciturn), Your Daily Word Prompt (opulent), Daily Addictions (solo), Ragtag Daily Prompt (quaint), and Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (personal).

3TC — Leftovers

6089801C-407D-4916-93D1-D6BE10ACFE38“What are we having for dinner, Momma?” Toni asked.

“I’m making homemade pasta tonight, sweetie,” Monica said.

“But what are you doing now?”

“I’m using a cheese grater to shred some parmesan cheese to put over the pasta.”

“How long before dinner will be ready, Momma?”

“Maybe an hour, honey,” Monica answered. “Why?”

“I’m hungry now,” Toni said. “Can I have a Snickers bar to tide me over until dinner?”

“No you may not have candy before dinner,” Monica said.

“Why not? I’m hungry!”

“First of all, it will spoil your appetite,” Monica said. “Second, you’ve been eating way too much candy lately and you know that sweets are bad for your teeth.”

“But Momma,” Toni pleaded, “I’m really hungry. I can’t wait another hour to eat.”

“Okay, fine,” Monica said. “You can have some of your father’s leftovers. They’re in the Tupperware container in the fridge.”

“But, Momma, I don’t like daddy’s leftovers,” Toni whined. “He tastes way too gamey.”

Written for today’s Three Things Challenge from Teresa. The three things are candy, teeth, and grater.

Message in a Bottle — Redux

Fandango’s my One-Word Challenge today is “bottle.” As I was contemplating what to write for the prompt, it occurred to me that I’d already written a post about a bottle in August last year. So, being that it’s a lazy Sunday, I decided to recycle that post. I hope you don’t mind.

IMG_2483William is a diligent, responsible individual who takes his job seriously. And he’s very good at it, too. He works from home, and that morning, like every weekday morning, he got up, brewed a fresh pot of coffee, and sat down in front of his computer.

He read the few dozen emails that had come in overnight. He checked his calendar and saw a handful of phone calls and a few web meetings scheduled throughout the day. He poured a cup of coffee and prepared to get to work.

William looked out of his home office window. Despite the early hour, the sun was shining brightly and the skies were already a deep blue with nary a cloud to be seen. Although still a little nippy out, the day’s forecast called for a gradual warm up by early afternoon. How long had it been, he wondered, since he’d taken a day off?

What happened next was so unlike William. He made a conscious decision to play hooky that afternoon. He’d be as productive as possible in the morning so he wouldn’t feel too guilty when he stepped away from his computer later in the day.

Shortly after 1 p.m., armed with a large beach towel, William hopped on his bike and rode the 3-mile trail through the park to the beach. He secured his bike to a bike rack, removed his shoes, and stepped onto the fine sand, already warmed by the bright, early afternoon sun.

William found a nice, quiet, semi-isolated spot, spread out the towel, and sat down. For the first time in a very, very long time, he was disconnected from the world. No iPhone or laptop. Just nature.

He watched people frolicking on the beach with their dogs, throwing tennis balls or Frisbees. A few surfers in wetsuits were attempting to catch some waves, but the waves on that day, with only the slightest of breezes, were rather small.

As William was glancing around, enjoying his untethered, relaxing afternoon, something in the water caught his eye. Whatever it was, the afternoon sun, which was slowly working its way across the cloudless sky towards the far horizon of the Pacific, shimmered off of it.

The object was bobbing in the shallow surf. William rubbed his eyes, wondering if the shimmering object would still be there when he looked again. It was.

He stood up and gazed in the direction of the flashes of light. Something was definitely floating in the shallow water. He looked around to see if anyone else had seen it, too. But either no one had, or it wasn’t anything they felt worth investigating.

He walked to that point on the beach where the surf kissed the sand and stepped into the shallow, cold water. He is reached out and grabbed the bottle. It was clear glass, a wine bottle, although the bottle’s label had long ago washed away. A cork was pushed into the bottle’s mouth and inside the bottle was a rolled-up note. Seriously, a note in a bottle!

Maybe he was being pranked. He looked around to see if someone had a camera or a smartphone and was creating a video to post on YouTube, but he didn’t see anyone paying attention to him.

He ran back to his towel, and, with unbridled excitement, yanked the cork from the bottle top. He tapped the bottom of the bottle and the note fell into his lap. Who wrote it? When was it written? From what distant shore was it sent? What would the message say?

With mounting anticipation and shaking hands, William unrolled the note. Shock overcame excitement when he read the message printed in all caps and bold italics from a laser or inkjet printer. It read:


A Life In Ruins

0B2F934E-FA4D-49E2-BFB8-305EEE2EB749My life is in ruins, he thought.

His life, a life he’d worked so hard to make successful, was, indeed, in ruins. As he drove along the road that skirted the ocean, he couldn’t quite fathom what had led him to this place, this sense of desperation. He was tired. And angry. And, most of all, he was sorry. Sorry for all of those he loved. Sorry for the disappointment he knew they were feeling.

No, it wouldn’t be disappointment. It would be shock. No one could have predicted this. It would be like when they interviewed people on the news who have just found out that their neighbor is a serial killer. “I can’t believe that he could have done such a thing,” they’d say. “He seemed like such a pleasant person. I would never have imagined….”

We all have secrets, he told himself. Some bigger — and badder — than others. But what he did was truly unforgivable. He couldn’t stick around to face the shame and the humiliation. Those he left behind would be better off with him being out of the picture.

And so he got in his car and left, heading where even he did not know.

(200 words)

Written for Sue Spaulding’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt. Photo credit: Anurag Bakhshi. Also written for the Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver prompt, which is “ruins.”

The Roulette Table

3EA12377-CC5F-4D12-96CB-47A73F53E41A“You seem a bit anxious,” Jack said. “Is something bothering you?”

No, it’s just that I’ve never seen a casino as posh as this one,” Stephen said. “It’s beautiful.”

“Well, I don’t know that I’d call it posh and beautiful,” Jack said. “More like glitzy and tacky.”

“To me it’s amazing.” Stephen said. “It has a carnival-like atmosphere, doesn’t it?” Then pointing to a section on the other side of the casino floor, he said. “Hey look, a roulette table. Let’s go play.”

“Do you know how to play roulette?” Jack asked.

“I think you bet on a number and when the guy spins the wheel, if your number comes up, you win,” Stephen explained.

They headed to the roulette table and Stephen put his chips on number 18. “Why 18?” Jack asked.

“Because my birthday is January 8th, and so one and eight, or 18,” Stephen said.

“Let’s hope that that will be a fortuitous choice,” Jack said.

When the spinning roulette wheel came to a stop, the little ball had landed on 18, much to the surprise and delight of Jack and Stephen.

However, as is usually the case, the house ended up winning and, after a few hours, the two men left the casino with empty pockets, their brief victory short-lived.

Written for Daily Addictions (anxious), Ragtag Daily Prompt (posh), Word of the Day Challenge (carnival), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (number), Your Daily Word Prompt (fortuitous), and Scott’s Daily Prompt (victory).