Write The Story: A Strange Request at a Piano Bar

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Recently I got a new journal with writing prompts called “Write The Story.”  My goal is to share at least one of the stories I come up with a week until the end of this year. I sincerely hope you enjoy what I come up with and let me know what you think in the comments below. If you decide to join me in creating a story using the same prompts, include a link to your story in the comment. 

Here’s the very first story I came up with:

A Strange Request at a Piano Bar

Include the following in your story: carnival, sprained, mask, oxidation, awkward, apple, juvenile, controversy, twirl, sassafras.

piano_music-512.png

Dona sipped a drink of sarsaparilla and gin while walking towards a man playing the piano. The playlist of juvenile songs reflected his age; he must have been a teenager. The awkward piano covers of catchy pop songs did fit right in with the atmosphere of the place – a small town interpretation of carnival. The dingy piano bar did very little to decorate for the occasion, aside from the patron’s masks.

The aromatic scent of the sassafras in her drink caught the pianist attention, he loved root beer. Dona twirled as she approached him, drunk and careless.  She peered at him through the plastic Venetian mask and ran her fingers up his neck.

“Who are you?” she said.

“I’m the piano man,” he said, cracking a smile.

“That’s cute, are you going to play me a song?” she smirked and pulled his head back by holding on to his polo’s collar. “Boy, I’d say you’re more of a piano boy,” she said, getting very close to kissing him.

The teenage musician composed himself and nervously glanced at his mother sitting on a nearby table. Dona chuckled at the sight of his mother scowling at her direction. The boy tried to rearrange his sheet music, but got distracted by the flakes of golden paint coming off the rusted metal sheet stand.

“I knew your dad,” Dona whispered at the boy’s ear. “It’s been a while, but I knew him from high school,” she said louder, causing the boy’s mother to hastily get up and gather her things to walk towards the piano.

“Really?” the boy said, still picking at the rust from the stand. “Do you know my mother too?” he said avoiding his mother’s stare.

His mother walked so fast and enraged that she tripped and sprained her ankle. A man wearing another one of those Venetian masks hurried to her aid, but she waved him away. Her own mask fell halfway through the trek across the dancing platform to the piano. She clutched a flimsy rail that divided the sections to avoid falling, and once again gave Dona a dirty look.

“Can I help you?” she said, limping her way between them.

“You don’t remember me, do you?” Dona said, pulling her mask up to get a closer look at the mother.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t,” she replied.

The boy continued to pick on the loose flakes of golden paint caused by the oxidation of the ornate stand. His mother grabbed his hands to stop him, but never averted her gaze from Dona.

“I thought you said this was an old heirloom,” he said pulling his hands away from his mother. “I always thought it was made of gold.”

“Of course it wasn’t gold. It was much too heavy to be made of gold,” she replied to her son while still looking at Dona.

“You really don’t remember?” said Dona, getting so close it made the mother recoil.

“No, I don’t. I’d appreciate if you went back to the dance floor. Colin here is only fifteen years old, a prodigy for his age, and is playing in public for the first time. I’m afraid you’re making him nervous,” she said darting her eyes between Dona and her son.

“Oh, I’m making your teenage son nervous?” she said pretending to be outraged.

Dona pulled back and laughed. She walked away and signaled the bartender. She never took her eyes off the mother.

“Hey, can I get a nice red apple?” she said to the bartender. He furrowed his brow and showed her a popular apple liquor bottle.

“You mean this? Apple liquor, a cider?” he asked pulling his own mask up to get a better look at the woman making the request.

“I said an apple. A fresh, bright red, school teacher round, apple,” she said grinding her teeth when she said teacher.

The bartender paused for a second, considering the request carefully, then he lifted his finger and dove to check the cooler under the martini glasses. He pulled out a dark red apple, normally used to make garnishes for apple martinis.

“Will this work?” he said.

“Perfect,” she replied, grabbing the apple and tossing a couple of bucks at the bartender.

The boy was playing an upbeat tune that Dona vaguely recognized as a Katy Perry song. She sneaked past the mother and wrapped her hands around the boy. The top part of her blouse was unbuttoned and the upper part of her bare breast touched the back of the teenager’s neck. He missed a few notes and looked back at Dona, stopping all together when he noticed her cleavage.

“You know, I also knew your mom from high school,” she said taking a bite off the apple. “It’s hilarious that she’s all bent out of shape about me talking to you, considering how she met your dad. It was quite the controversy,” the boy couldn’t take his eyes off her and Dona buttoned up her blouse in response.

“What do you mean?” the boy asked, turning his body completely to face Dona.

“Stop it Dona, you’re a grown woman now,” his mother said trying to once again get between them.  Dona recognized the woman’s expression, she remembered.

“Your dad used to be my boyfriend back when I was as old as you,” she said tousling his hair. “Your mom,” she said glaring at the mother, “Well,” she paused expecting the mother to intervene, “I used to bring her apples from my dad’s orchard. She was our teacher.”

The boy appeared stunned and the mother speechless. Dona gingerly tossed the apple at her former teacher and walked away.

 

The end.

Flash Fiction Challenge: Ossuary

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Here’s my piece for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: One-Word Titles.

Ossuary by Wil Redd

“A room,” said a bulky man with a five-o-clock shadow.

“It’s a room?” Jose replied from across the commuter train table.

“A room, just a room,” the man responded dragging the word “room” like he was trying to make them sound like far away waves.

“I don’t get it,” Jose knew this man; he sat across him almost every day during his daily evening commute.

“Come to think about it, do I even know this guy’s name? I’ve only started commuting a month ago. He could be having an episode or something,” he thought.

Jose waited for the man to respond. Instead, the man pushed the book he was reading towards Jose, turned it, and pointed at a word in the middle of the page. The thin tome looked unremarkable and worn at first glance, but after staring at it for more than a second it gave him goosebumps.

A little girl walked by them with an Easter bunny plush toy and started to cry. Her mother came running to grab her. At that point, her daughter was wailing at the book. The woman, red faced and sweating, started to pronounce the word “sorry.” However, the whole word never came out of her mouth, because something about the book made her gasp instead. She walked away, glaring at them until she was out of sight.

“What is this?” said Jose, darting his eyes between the man and the book. “Page 235,640,916? What the hell?” He didn’t touch the book, but the book touched him.

Jose felt a force shocking him and pulling him towards the edges of reality. The book itself pulled him to those seemingly black contours on the edge of the page.  Jose looked away, momentarily distracted by a long row of cypress trees and a makeshift shack full of camping equipment. “I’ve never noticed that before,” he thought.

The ephemeral break only made the unfolding events more difficult to comprehend. When he blinked, everything around him disappeared except the man and the book. The book floated in front of him, and spewed something resembling ink. When it stopped, the book rested on an antique table. When the book fell on the wooden surface with a muffled thud Jose noticed he was in some kind of cave.

“A room. Well, maybe  not just a room,” the man said, turning on a gas light above them.

It took Jose a minute to adjust. The experience clouded his short term memory. “How? When? How long have I been sitting on this table in the dark?”  When he identified what he saw on the walls, he began to hyperventilate.

“What the fuck? Who are you? Where am I? Why?” Jose screamed as he hesitated to touch the walls made of human bones. “Are theses real? Holy fuck he’s a fucking necromancer or something.”

“It’s an ossuary.  You asked what ‘ossuary’ meant. I guess technically it could be a chest, box, building, a well –“ said the man closing the book just before Jose interrupted him by letting out an exasperated scream.

The man shoved the book in his jacket pocket and extended his arms towards Jose to calm him down. When Jose opened his eyes, they were on the train again. The table between them seemed out of place to him now.

“Come on now, don’t you like magic? I thought you said you moved closer to the city to learn magic?” said the man while patting his jacket. “My name is Jack, I’m a magical scribe.”

“What the fuck? I asked you, not really expecting an answer, if you knew what an ossuary was because I –“ Jose hesitated, stuttered, and then lost his voice. He’d indeed moved closer to the city to experience the recently uncovered magical underworld, but today was his first real contact with it.

“You seemed cool enough, and I can tell you’re not a bigot. I figured; why not give him the whole show,” Jack said, changing his demeanor from jovial to anxious in a split second after seeing Jose’s reaction.

“Holy shit, I’m sorry. You’re a what? I’m sorry. Look, I –“ Jose struggled to form coherent sentences. “Maybe next time you do this to someone, give them a little warning.”

“They never believe me,” Jack replied.

“What if I’d ask for the meaning of ‘galaxy’ or’ black hole’ or ‘red dwarf star’?” Jose relaxed and both of them chuckled.

“I don’t know, let’s find out.”