Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 23

Welcome back to Friday! Thank you for taking the time to be a little writerly here with the FF community. Stick around — I’m pretty sure you’re going to fall in love with them, and vice versa. 

For today’s prompt, we’re going back in history a year or two. On this day (for you time travelers just joining us, today is May 16) in 1929, the very first Academy Awards took place at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. Winning the first-ever Best Actor award was Emil Jannings, who was so prolific he received the award for his performances in two different movies (The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh the latter is, by the way, the only Academy Award-winning film of which there can be found no copy; read its synopsis and shake your heads with me at this exquisite irony). 

If The Way of All Flesh doesn’t get a Muse or three chatting at you today, we’ll fully refund your entry fee.

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Today’s judge, Pratibha Kelapure, could tell you a thing or two about Muses if you asked. And the human psyche. Or is that human psychos? Oh dear, now I’m forgetting. But one small letter doesn’t make much difference, surely? In any event, your judge today relishes digging deep into the human mind. She dares you to defy flash fiction skeptics by showing them just how deep one can dig in only 150 words.

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Awards Ceremony: Results will post Sunday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own unbalanced writings sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays “just for fun.”   

Now let’s get to it!

Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Sunday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word unless instructed to do so, e.g. “include the word “amygdala'”):

comeuppance

(comeuppance)

***Today’s Prompt:

 

Emil Jannings in Berlin. Creative Commons photo Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-07770.

Emil Jannings in Berlin. Creative Commons photo Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-07770.

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81 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 23

  1. Charlene’s Victory

    Charlene is my stepsister. Her father married my mom, and rescued us.

    But between Charlene and I, it was always a competition. What Charlene wanted, Charlene got. Anything I wanted, Charlene got that, too. She was five years younger than me, and spoiled like chunky milk.

    But mama was happy, so I could live with it.

    I took a job at the bank, doing light secretarial. The boss’s son dropped in often. He became my best friend and my first crush. Five years later we were working closely together and still best friends.

    My life was perfect. Then he hired Charlene as his secretary. She was younger, prettier, thinner, flirtier and manipulative.

    She became his favorite, and when he was slow to propose, she became pregnant.

    Her trap had caught the man, and soon she would find out about his gambling, his womanizing, and that he is a mean drunk.

    I couldn’t stop smiling.

    @CharlesWShort
    154 Words

  2. It Should Have Been Me

    I was the star, the number one box office draw.

    The winner.

    But did they recognise that, give me the statue?

    Hell no; They gave it to some old human!

    I survived the war, travelled round the world, made a whole new life, and I never snapped once. I never even growled. You ever meet those Hollywood kids? There’s a reason why they keep throwing them down wells and mines, let me tell you…

    But the old guy… Who even remembers him now? Nobody, that’s who.

    But the Academy figured they couldn’t give the first award to a dog, so they gave it to him instead. Maybe I wouldn’t have made much of an acceptance speech, but his wasn’t that great either…

    Still, I sat like a good boy while he waved and smiled and thanked them all.

    And then he went and sat back down in the little “award” I’d left on his chair.

    From Rin-Tin-Tin: My Story (unpublished).

    160 words
    @Karl_A_Russell

  3. The Bouquet

    Idiot! How did he talk me in to this—That goofy smile plastered on his face.
    It won’t happen again. I refuse to play this silly game of his. “It’s for the gifts,” he says. Hah! “Microwaves, coffee pots, towels, and the sheets… Gladys! Just think, all those lovely, heavenly sheets…”

    Stark raving mad is what he is. “Do it for me, just this once. I promise, I won’t ask again.”
    So now I walk, head high, laughing like the fool I am, carrying the bouquet, sneezing my brains out.

    The taxi waits ahead, the gifts loaded, ready to charge away into the night with the count and his lady. Charley is at the wheel, engine running and door open.

    Charley’s cigar lands on spot. The bouquet sails into the crowd, firing them up as the door slams and the taxi speeds through the fog, this time with only Charley and me—to Hotel California—clean sheets at last.

    @marthajcurtis
    159 words

  4. That was a fun read, thanks Charles. I also appreciated your skilled sentence construction and loved the “spoiled like chunky milk” simile. Your story has kept a smile on my face too.

  5. Leading Ladies
    (158 words)

    You became a movie star. I took over my family’s shop. I couldn’t love my wife after loving you.

    You called, one day, just out of the blue. Your voice made my stomach flip even though I’d heard film after film of it. You said you had run into a bit of trouble. I said I’d do anything.

    I tell my wife, and she turns into a silent movie: her mouth is full of melodrama but I don’t hear her words. She enunciates her taciturn fury while her arms wave like a drowning woman’s. I expect she is saying I’m a fool. I expect she’s asking how I could do this to the kids.

    I’m at the motel you told me you were staying at. I speak to the woman at the desk whose lipstick has leaked into the tight cracks above her mouth.

    ‘She’s gone, already,’ she says. ‘Another mug beat you to it. Paid her bill’.

  6. Pretty Girls
    (155 words)

    Mamma always told me I’d do well for myself. “Girls with big eyes and a soft smile always land on their feet.” It was her catch phrase. Sitting in front of the dresser when I was just a little wisp of a girl she’d comb my blonde curls and repeat that phrase.

    I guess she was right because here I am, arm in arm with a movie star, an award winning movie star no less. I’m surrounded by people who see him, and in turn see me with him. They see my wide smile and happy eyes, and his confident wave as he holds me tight.

    What they don’t see is the bruises on my arm from last night’s drunken fight. They don’t see the fake in my smile or the pleading in my eyes. It’s my recompense for being beautiful. He’s a movie star and I’m the pretty girl who landed on her feet.

  7. Lord of the Pies
    Ian Martyn @IBMartyn
    158 words

    Max stared at the picture, as he had every day for thirty years, with tears of regret clouding his vision. Once they had laughed with him, now they laughed at him. Once he had climbed the heights of fame, now he could hardly climb the stairs to the bathroom.

    It was the final scene of ‘Lord of the Pies’ before the biggest custard pie fight in cinematic history. And he was the ‘Lord of the Pies’. The custard pie in the face was his invention. The crowds loved him for it. ‘Pie Society’, ‘Reach for the Pies’, ‘Seven Pies for Seven Brothers’, each breaking box office records, with him the undisputed star. It went to his head. He forgot that the public’s fickle adoration was based on an endless flow of yellow crème patisserie and short crust pastry. He’d tried to leave the pies behind. He had discovered culture and there were no custard pie fights in Shakespeare.

  8. Metteur En Scene

    The camera obscures my face from hers thankfully. The last time I saw those curves was when they walked out of our fleapit apartment on 25th and Main. Bringing the curtain down on a romance forged by a casting director and his notion of “chemistry”.

    Chemistry that inevitably became biology. Each night in bed we mirrored the lovers we played on stage.

    Romeo and Juliet.

    Till her finest performance, the “its not you its me” eulogy. Fluttering eyelashes, damp eyes, masking the truth that her ambition to be a star had outgrown us.

    Bags packed she moved on, seeking that lucky break. Never getting it in a city stacked with sirens.

    Still you got to admire her. Muscling to the front, hugging the guy in the uniform. Working the lens with a face no picture editor could resist.

    My Juliet, rolling the dice on finding fame.

    I gently pan the camera ten degrees to the left.

    @imageronin

    156 words

  9. Her laughter echoed, attracting the attention of all around her. It tinkled off of chandeliers in New York and it cascaded over hills in Germany. Once we were on a train heading into Chicago and I swear to you the whole Windy City paused as her laughter echoed down the streets and hugged each and every man, woman and child.
    That was the thing about her. She hugged every man, woman and child. Non-discriminatory love. She touched the bell boy’s arm, she leaned against her seamstress’s shoulder. Always flirting with everyone, connecting and loving each soul she met with this instantaneous, shameless passion.
    So I made her something no one else could touch. I gave her what she deserved. A comeuppance she never saw coming. I made it so no one else would ever have her.
    And that train rolling toward us that night had a whistle that echoed louder than the laughter it squelched out of her on those dark tracks.

    by Katrina Ray-Saulis – @kraysaulis on Twitter

  10. The Sweet Smell of Victory
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke or margaretlocke.com)
    145 words

    They never knew what hit them.

    Standing there with their exuberant grins and flashing eyes. They thought they were on top of the world. Honeymoon in Berlin, the adulation of the world.

    I showed them. She couldn’t steal my husband from me. Not for long, anyway.

    What did she have that I didn’t? Brilliant teeth? Perfect gams? I may have packed on a few pounds over the years, but it was I who bore him four sons. Not her.

    The floozie acted like she loved the old fat fart.

    I knew better. I didn’t love him, either. I just loved his money.

    Let her clutch those flowers as closely as she can, I’d said, cackling from the crowd. Let her inhale the sweet smell of victory.

    I was invisible to them. I didn’t mind, this one time.

    The cyanide powder did its work soon enough.

  11. “Ain’t That Something”
    Steph Post @stephpostauthor
    159 words

    Alice had heard you could put rattlesnakes in their beds. Men.

    “That’ll shake em up, let me tell ya.”

    This from Scarlett, her husband’s mistress, teetering on gold high heels from one too many highballs.

    “This girl on the chorus line with me, she said she put a rattler under her boyfriend’s sheets once. Said he never ran around on her again. Ain’t that something?”

    The circle of wolfish men, including her husband, had thrown their heads back in raucous laughter, their mouths as wide as manholes, and pressed in even closer.

    Alice, sitting three stools down, keeping her eyes on the empty martini glass trembling between her fingers, had wondered where the hell you could find a rattlesnake in Chicago. She had almost dared to ask, when they had found themselves eyeing one another the powder room’s mirror, but Scarlett had winked at her first.

    “Corner of Knox and 53rd, honey. Just knock once and ask for Vinny.”

  12. Women’s Work

    She had shown him the script with great pride. A year’s worth of work packaged up in 90 pages of cinematic promise.
    He took it from her with a patronizing smile and pat on her butt as he asked her to go bake him some cookies.
    Weeks went by without him saying a word about it. She was crestfallen until one day she saw him in the newspaper describing his hot new script and even hotter new star. He was called a genius.
    She could feel a flush of rage sweep up and over her face.
    She confronted him about it and he said, “Sweetheart, nobody wants something some dame wrote. This is for the best.”
    She smiled and went into the kitchen. She baked him a decadent lemon merengue, with extra cyanide.
    As his fat smug face slammed into his second helping of pie she smiled again.
    She was thinking of a new script now, called “Just Desserts”.

    159 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  13. No Happy Endings
    by @JMnumber6, 155 words

    BioTime LLC had a unique hook. Pick an enemy from the past and see their death. Business was booming. Descendants of families wronged by others paid through the nose to travel to see the deaths of those who wronged their families. Schadenfreude was king.

    Until the founder of the bankrupt HappyTime Ltd. somehow got through the screening process. His company having been put out of business by the darkside model of BioTime, he asked to see his enemy’s death, which hadn’t happened yet. Lawsuits were filed, politicians debated, but the contract was clear. BioTime had to fulfill the request.

    That date was only seven months in the future. BioTime’s founder committed suicide after the politicians outlawed time travel entirely and he was rendered penniless. Whether he killed himself because he knew he was going to kill himself is a matter of contention among physicists and philosophers.

    Historians remember it as the “No Happy Endings” tour.

  14. The Way of All Flesh
    By Laura Carroll Butler
    149 words

    They say no good deed goes unpunished, but what of the bad ones?

    It was my dream job, film preservation. The opportunity to preserve art for generations to come, stories told to those who did not know the world before their grandparent’s birth. In a way I had the power to create my own propaganda with the actions I chose. I don’t regret them. After all, his propaganda films supported the regime that stole the lives of my grandparents, my cousins, my aunts and uncles and, indirectly, my parents, who would not grow up whole and healthy. As I held his film in my hands, the film that brought him worldwide acclaim and made him a legend, I remembered the other films I’d studied in college. The films promoting hate. I’m sure the obnoxious odor of burning film is not nearly as horrid as the smell of burning flesh.

  15. Which One.
    I don’t know which one I despise more, him or her. Or which one I loved more.
    I move closer through the crowd, raising the bulky camera.
    He once told me he adored me as he kissed and caressed and fired my senses. She said the exact same thing as she beckoned me to her bed.
    They don’t recognize me in my disguise. Look at them, basking in the crowd’s accolades, gazing heavenward as if accepting the gods’ applause. Now that they’ve discarded me, I am certain their eyes would flick past me even if I weren’t disguised.
    I am close enough. I thrust the camera out as far as my arms reach, with the vague thought that I might escape.
    Another thought: which one do I hate most and which do I love more?
    I press the button and listen for the explosion I’ll never hear.

    @rfmaraz
    147 Words

  16. In The House Of The Rising Sun
    157 words

    There was much that he remembered about that day.

    He remembered the sound of laughter on the air, the feeling of vitality and life that thrummed through the crowds as they accepted everyone in an open-armed embrace that screamed their joy to the heavens themselves, yet none of them had a single word for the boy with no-name…just as he had none for them.

    He wore his silence like the dirty clothing that covered the scars on his back and the fragile curl of his ribs.

    He was an orphan who had been born to the wrong parents and they punished him for sins he could not comprehend but they would have their comeuppance.

    There was much he remembered of that day but most of all he remembered the lone scream that echoed through the house when the visitors did not wake the next morning.

    He remembered the scream and the silence that followed best of all.

  17. Encore
    by @JohnMark_Miller, 157 words

    The crowd was cheering so loudly, that no one heard me curse. Bile stung my throat as I watched my countrymen fawn over the American actors like blue-ribbon swine. The foreigners shrieked with laughter, so spoiled by riches and fame…and so oblivious.

    It was ironic, really, that these masters of the stage were completely unaware that they were acting at this very moment. Playing an assigned role.

    It was time for every one of them to get their comeuppance. Time to show the people of Berlin that the frivolous Americans were not their deliverance. That nothing, and no one, could deliver them…but me.

    With a wild cheer, I threw my hand into the air, releasing the knife.

    The American froze in pain, and I exchanged my plastic smile for a genuine one.

    Soon the crowds would fawn over me alone as their savior – their deliverer – Adolf the Merciful!

    See? Americans aren’t the only ones who can act.

  18. Dead White Girl

    The crowd was amped. Charged with an energy sourced from an antiquated interpretation of true justice. They demanded a pound of flesh tonight, or in the case of Donald Boone, 167 pounds of black flesh. They waited impatiently for the flickering of lights. Blood for blood.

    The horde of salivating pale skin ignored the backstory. The judge with an agenda and a noon tee time. The unprepared and lethargic public defender. The dubious evidence. A jury that was socially programmed to convict black defendants when a white princess was murdered. A verdict rendered from decades of false assumptions and simmering emotions. A reckoning.

    The chemicals raged through the killer’s veins, a thirsty liquid bullet. His name was scrawled in a ledger. The mob roared with delight, their anger supplanted by glee. They began to disperse and head back to their life of privilege while the killer was still on the gurney. The fluorescent lights illuminating the husk of a former human being.

    Chris Milam @Blukris
    160 words

  19. The Things I Would Do
    (155 words)

    I stare at the picture in the paper and let it fuel my rage. How could you pick her over me? After everything I did for you? All the gifts I gave you, the love I showed you and the things I was willing to do for you?

    And now I am alone, smelling your scent in your sheets, walking alone in your halls, eating alone in your kitchen because you dared to love another. My heart is broken and my spirit crushed.

    I hear your car roll in to the drive and I just know that you have her with you. I roll the paper back up and put it back right where I found it. Then I slide silently into the closet, hidden from view. I pat the revolver that weighs heavily in my pocket.

    There was a time I would have died for you, but today I will kill for you.

  20. A Whiff Of Cordite
    155 words
    @TinmanDoneBadly

    Emmaline had stolen him by unfair means, such as her slimmer figure, longer legs and better taste in hats.

    Martha was bridesmaid, meaning “runner-up, but with free cake” and it was while planning the day that the idea had come to her.

    Emmaline was allergic to lilies, so Martha laced the bouquet with them, like olfactory arsenic. Now she smiled grimly as her ex-friend threw back her head as a prelude to her first sneeze.

    The earth would certainly move for Emmaline tonight.

    Emmaline sneezed once, explosively, then, as is traditional, threw the bouquet. Since Martha had ensured that it was huge it travelled just a few inches, hitting Martha full in the face.

    She instinctively caught it (she was a spinster, after all, and you never know) and smelled peonies, her own allergic affliction.

    As Martha’s eyes ran and her nose began to burn Emmaline threw back her head again, this time in laughter.

  21. Before He Cheats
    160 words
    @chinchinunicorn

    There she sits in the corner of the bar with red-rimmed eyes and pouty lips. Her dress falls off one shoulder, but she can’t be bothered to fix it as she lights up her cigarette after taking a sip from her amber drink. She glances up when I approach.

    And stares. “You’re married.”

    I slip that ring off and hide it in my pocket. “Not anymore.”

    The elevator’s progress is much too slow when my hands itch to do more besides grab at my suit jacket. She whispers, asking me if this is what I want. A glance down at the silk brushing her naked thighs makes up my already-decided mind.

    “Yes.”

    It’s my hotel room because I’m here on business, but she takes it over. There’s a confidence I didn’t see before. Her shoulders strong. Her eyes dangerous. Her lips red. But most of all, I don’t expect the flash of metal and her words, “Your wife says goodbye.”

  22. Carve Her Name In Stone

    Oh yes I laughed with them. Threw back my head and rejoiced in the accolade bestowed on him, not only best Actor, but best Director and Playwright as well.

    And the answer came to me, just like that. Payback.

    Whilst his hand squeezed my backside, he lapped up the praise and grinned for the camera flash lights.

    ”Carve Her Name In Stone” had out sold anything, yes anything, ever written and produced before.

    The people loved him.

    And they loved my story as well. But let him have his moment.

    I pulled the bouquet of Daphne the idiot had given me closer to my chest, careful not to crush the berries or let the sap leak while I mused over recipes.

    They would be carving his name in stone sooner that he, or any of them, could ever imagine.

    @RosNazilli

    Word count 144

  23. Independence Day
    (140 Words)

    Oh, the celebration!

    America’s most recent purchase from France has arrived and all the world has turned out to see. Dignitaries from across the globe have front-row seats for this momentous occasion. The Queen of England with her entourage sits next to the Prime Minister of India with his.

    The crowd cheers as the president is led to the platform. For all he has done for America, our esteemed president will be the first.

    Everything is in place, the tracks are greased, blade sharpened, equipment tested, only the basket is missing.

    The crowd grows silent in anticipation of the release.

    Whoosh…Thud!

    The president’s head rolls at my blood-spattered feet as the crowd thunders.

    “Best seats in the house.” I wink at my husband as more politicians are brought to join the growing line.

    America has declared her independence once again.

    @CharityPaschal2

  24. Pride comes before the fall
    160 words
    @okiewashere

    This gorgeous diva finally comes into town and – I am grounded. Freddy used to be my best friend. Until yesterday evening, when he broke a window, telling my aunt that I was the culprit!

    And I know exactly why he did it: He wanted to meet the diva, get an autograph and perhaps even steal a kiss.

    When the actors left the theatre, Freddy stood in the first row of the cheering crowd, wearing his finest suit and the most dazzling smile. He was a looker, indeed.

    The diva and the leading actor scanned the crowd, then they waved him over. He couldn’t believe his good luck. He approached them confidently, aware of the admiring glances from the girls in the crowd.

    The diva smilingly handed him a rose and asked him his name. He started sneezing. One of his buttons even flipped against her coat.

    A reporter took a shot and published it. “Freddy, the unhappy allergy sufferer.“

  25. Behind Every Successful Man…
    157 words
    @ozmodiargh

    Hours after the European premiere he stumbled back into their hotel room, soaked in sweat and schnapps and another woman’s perfume. What could he do? He was a star, and they loved stars in Berlin.

    His American woman sat neatly on the edge of their bed, smoking a long cigarette. She reminded him of the day they met: back when he was a nobody, a man out of luck and prayers.

    She handed him a stack of telegrams. He read them with horror.

    “All gone?”

    “Every reel, burnt to ashes.” She exhaled.

    “But we had a deal!”

    “My part of the deal is done, dearest. You had your fame. You had your—fun,” she spat. “And now, it’s gone.”

    “Oh, hell hath no fury!” he cried.

    “Honey, you have no idea,” she snarled, and in a burst of smoke he was left with only the smell of ash and the sight of the Berlin cinema in flames.

  26. The Senator (153 words)

    I lie on my cot and stare at the institutional green paint on the walls. It’s streaked and globbed and probably cost $10 a gallon.

    It’s like nobody takes pride in doing a good job any more.

    Now the paint in my house cost $100 a gallon and was worth every penny. It’s smooth as a baby’s ass. Every detail of my house was carefully planned from the two gourmet kitchens to the mini bowling alley in the basement.

    Of course, I had to re-mortgage it to pay my legal fees after the Feds got me on corruption charges. Not that it did me much good. I spend two million and still got eight years for conspiracy, fraud, and misappropriation of senate funds. What crap.

    Well, all I can say is they can kiss my ass. They may have taken me, Senator Jack Marshall, down, but they still don’t know how to paint walls.

  27. The Wardrobe Mistress

    Throughout months of filming, it’d been him and me.

    Sometimes I tore the clothes right off him! (But I sewed them right back up.)

    And yet it was his wife who would get to stand with him at the final photo shoot, laughing, and hugging flowers.

    She’d always known about us, I’m sure. No-one else emphasized “mistress” rather than “wardrobe” when referring to me. I guess she just knew that once filming ended, so would his interest in me.

    I’d served my purpose, I realized. I’d only ever been a removable accessory to his fame.

    I prepared him for the photo shoot with calm, professional dignity. Fixing his tie; lowering a carefully chosen trilby onto his head. And then, without making a fuss, I turned and walked away.

    So I never got to see the moment when he tried to get that trilby off his head.

    That was one accessory he was going to be stuck with for a while.

    160 words
    @Donnellanjacki

  28. Retribution
    (142)

    See this picture? It’s one of my favorites.

    They look happy. Don’t they?

    Smiling faces surrounding them. Laughter and congratulations on a job well done.

    Why do I like it? Well, that’s not a smile upon Lorraine’s face. Despite security, I managed to slip ragweed into her bouquet, knowing she’d break out into hives during the award ceremony. One that, by rights, I should have attended as leading lady, not her.

    I heard she choked and flopped like a fish on the red carpet as her throat swelled from the allergic reaction. Wish I could have seen it, myself.

    I’m told she nearly died.

    Pity she didn’t.

    She spent a few weeks in the hospital, but the director says she’s even better than ever after dealing with the near-tragedy.

    Oh, well. Next time, I’ll put lemon in her tea. That’ll teach her.

  29. “Lesson Learned”
    157 words

    The wind pounds against my ears, like hundreds of desperate fists once had on bank doors. What were bloody knuckles when your future had been traded and drained to nothing?

    How far away the days before the crash seemed. 1929. Back when shoes shined and flowers bloomed. When my wife smiled so wide I thought her face might freeze. But that was before I lost her family’s money to a Tuesday blacker than any mourner’s garb. They say money isn’t everything, but it sure seems important when you can’t afford a loaf of bread.

    I could have stopped, I could have kept something, anything, out of the market. But my greed outfoxed my moderation and my wits. I did not understand then what I do now: that the higher you climb, the farther you have to fall.

    I will not repeat that sin. I have climbed high enough, and this time I do not fall. I jump.

    ~Taryn Noelle Kloeden
    @tnkloeden

  30. Whiteface
    @brett_milam (160)

    Diligence and a steady hand were required. There was an art to applying makeup; a mirror, some light and memories of my father – stage name, Cido – were all I needed. He showed me how to become someone else. But I became him.

    Not anymore.

    Hollywood big shot was expected to be amongst us commoners today. No longer would I be a bozo, relegated to the carnies, fetching pity dollar bills from cotton candy-stuffing fat kids. Like Cido.

    Out amongst the jejune crowd, in full garb, a redheaded kid stepped on my shoes. I shoved him off; he skinned his knee. Boohoo.

    Then I saw him. Gaudy, grandiose and grinning to his fans. I grinned, too, as I managed within five feet of his Hollywood musk. He locked eyes with me.

    Laughs subsided, but infamy subsisted forever.

    I had a toy gun and a gun to toy with for this moment. Bullet chambered.

    Our kind, we’re a dying breed.

    Not today.

  31. The Wedding Night Surprise
    by A J Walker

    Justin Littlejohn felt like the luckiest man alive as he stood next to his beautiful Adele. His heart swelled as he looked down at her. He’d no friends to speak off but he had his prize. Winning a lottery he hadn’t even entered.

    When Jeremy Littlejohn had passed away and left his nephew the house with tenants, Justin had still been in his teens, but his life had been moulded. Money came in for nothing. It just rolling in. Eventually he bought another property, and another. He became mean when he had to be. Some said nasty, others evil.

    Justin was now the richest man in the city. Loathed; sometimes envied. But now, for the first time, he was happy.

    Adele.

    On his wedding night she whispered to him who she was. How he’d heartlessly thrown her out of her home with her brothers and mother; their comeuppance planned for fifteen years. She’d take him for every cent he had.

    (160 words)
    @zevonesque

  32. So, for Rebekah, I did read the synopsis of “The Way of All Flesh,” but I decided to go historical for this first entry in a different way. You see, the Academy originally wanted to give the first Best Actor Oscar to Rin Tin Tin but didn’t think the awards would be taken seriously if they did so. Emil Jannings was the second choice. Didn’t you ever wonder how that made Rin Tin Tin feel? I did. 😉

    Take That, Emil Jannings

    It seems a lot of fuss, you know, for a statuette just over a foot tall, which isn’t even solid gold, but it’s the very first one ever awarded. How will people react when it goes to a foreigner? There’s no doubt he’s got talent, a lot of it. I hear he got a big send-off back in the old country—flowers, crowds, cheers. His movies, though, how schmaltzy. Good thing they’re silents, ‘cause when this guy opens his mouth you can’t understand a word he says. That accent—too much. He won’t make in talkies, that’s for certain.

    The pictures I made, I had to run around a battlefield and avoid real explosions, and I learned my part to perfection. No one had to bribe me with a treat.

    What’s he— He’s trying to scratch my ears. Well, I’ll just lift my leg and show him I, Rin Tin Tin, should have gotten the first Best Actor Oscar.

    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    160 words

  33. Someday, My Prince Will Come

    Such a happy day, our wedding. I thought I was so lucky to have landed such a gentleman, so kind and generous, thoughtful even. I thought maybe it was because he was older than most of the gents I’d been seeing which made him so considerate and caring. I mean, he never tried any funny business, you know. Just a peck on the cheek. He even blushed when we held hands. Like Momma said, “Estelle,” she said, “youse kissed a lotta frogs, now youse got a prince. Don’t lose him.”

    Things were grand for a month; then, my honey came home a little tipsy. Dinner didn’t suit him. I was dressed like a slut, but I needed to be more lively in the sack. It just got worse from there.
    I was stuck, though. Momma said, “Youse made your bed, youse lay in it.”

    So, I waited until he passed out good before I soaked that bed in gasoline.

    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    159 words

  34. Oh, most generous Dragon Lady, uh, Queen, uh, Mistress, uh, Rebekah, to make sure Momma is consistent in the story above, could you change her last line of dialogue to “Youse made your bed, youse lay in it.” You can even fix the fact I misspelled your name in the intro to the first story. Thanks. 😉

  35. Cheese and Onions

    This was a man who knew what he wanted, ordering before sitting down on the plastic-topped stool. “Bowl of chili, cheese, onions.”

    I flipped the rag off my shoulder and wiped down the counter. “Can do, friend. But first, I’ve got a story.

    “You see that guy up there? On the TV?”

    “Yeah. Everyone knows him.”

    “He was in here earlier today. Just like you, bowl of chili. Man loves his chili. Eats it before every big speech, to show off his ‘intestinal fortitude.’”

    “Yeah?”

    “Just watch.” The man on the TV was getting warmed up, his arms beginning their familiar gesticulation. The sweat on his brow, however, was unusual.

    “Man like that makes some deals, makes some enemies. Some of them sell chili.”

    The man on the TV was visibly discomfited now, panic setting in on his face. Suddenly, he turned and darted from the stage.

    “Still want that chili?”

    The man on the stool smiled. “How’s the meatloaf?”

    @drmagoo
    160 words

  36. “What They Don’t Know Will Hurt Her”
    @patrickjstahl
    156 words

    The senator’s dress rustled as she laughed, a deep, throaty laugh that forced her head back like a howitzer. She clutched a bouquet of flowers with one arm, her beaming husband with the other.

    The surrounding crowd feigned cheering at the banal parade lurching by. They were more focused on their senator than the line of trumpeters marching down the street. Love cascaded from their eyes as a flood.

    I retched among the boughs of a nearby tree. The people knew so little about precious Senator Gilfried it was sickening.

    But I knew the truth as if she were my lover. My eyes yet burned with the image of my dying father, murdered by the senator personally. After three days, a spot of dry blood was still visible on the bridge of her nose, even through my rifle’s scope.

    I let Senator Gilfried inhale one more whiff of her flowers before I pulled the trigger, smiling.

  37. The Sequel

    He called me the sequel, an inferior attempt to recreate the magic of the original. It was true. We may have looked identical, but I did not inherit his confidence or charm. When Mother died he locked me away, afraid I would steal his attention. That was fine with me, I was happy with my books.

    Until that fateful mistake. He burst into my room, panicked. His agent had double booked him. There was only one way he could be in two films at once.

    Remembering the script was easy. Acting like him was much harder. He was pompous, arrogant and loud. He taught me well though, he knew how to pretend to be someone else.

    I did so well we won an award. He tried to lock me back in the room, but I was him now. Imagine his surprise when I knocked him down.

    It’s my turn outside, my time in the spotlight. Time to collect my prize.

    160 words
    @todayschapter

  38. THE DECREE

    “Citizens of Pleasant: we have been successful. The pest has been exterminated!”

    Cheers echo in the streets.

    “Here, here!”

    “My children will be happy again!”

    “Justice is served!”

    “This calls for a celebration! Champagne. Your best flowers!”

    —-BEFORE—-

    “Ma’am?”

    She stares.

    “A minute, that’s all.”

    “Not a chance. Forty-five seconds.”

    “You have brought bitterness to our town.”

    “And?”

    “You are cold-hearted.”

    “So?”

    “You’ve shown no interest for your fellow citizen. Attend no required events.”

    “Your point?”

    “You make little ones cry, grown men tremble—“

    “Thirteen seconds.”

    The councilman takes breath, closing his eyes.

    “The Pleasant City Council has decided the solution to this problem is your elimination.
    You will never be permitted to walk the streets of Pleasant again.”

    A yawn.

    “You’re kidding, right?”

    A blink.

    “You wore out your welcome long ago.”

    An expression of pure granite.

    “Pleasant will be much more pleasant without your presence. Your train leaves at noon.”

    @WHealyWrites
    154 Words

  39. Comeuppance
    [156 words — and my deepest apologies in advance for this groaner of a story.]

    Last night had been a little too strong. He smacked the alarm clock. It clattered to the floor.

    His head swam as he tried to sit up in bed. Like his ex-wife, brown liquor made a habit of coming back into his life at inopportune moments.

    With the election so close, a man of his stature and aspirations had appearances to keep. From Oktoberfest celebrations to County Fair pie-eating contests, his people booked him anywhere with fried food and half-decent hooch.

    Today was the biggest day yet: Election day. Time to appear and motivate his constituency. He noticed the time on the shattered face of the alarm clock. “I’m late!”

    He scrambled to dress. Starched shirt. Silk tie. Argyle socks. His double-breasted overcoat lay draped across a chair.

    Jelly doughnuts take their toll. He huffed and puffed, and tugged. Fabric stretched and seams strained to their breaking point against his rotundity.

    “Come on. Come up, pants!”

  40. Okay, it’s been a while, so please bear with my rusty attempt:

    Hero’s Uprising

    “On my count now!”

    The muscles in my cheeks tighten, tugging on my lips as a flash bursts over the select few close enough to be included in tomorrow’s featured shot. Another cheer swells as Gabriel Brant waves to his adoring fans.

    And really, who wouldn’t cheer? Gabe is beloved here, in the town that raised him up and now bends over backwards to propel him higher.

    No one counts the coursing rivers of sweat, tears, or blood — the skeletons don’t matter here.

    Sycophants.

    The secrets of rulers don’t matter to idolaters, incapable of seeing beyond expertly manufactured facades. But truth gathers behind the dam of delusions, awaiting its moment.

    “Just the Brants, now,” the photographer calls over the unstoppable chatter of those gathered.

    Obediently, I step out of the way, and glance at my watch.

    Three…Two…

    (137 words; @AriaGlazki)

  41. GARDEN OF CRIME
    Placing case #28-1929 on the computer’s central processing unit, crime scene investigator Dell fervently watched the digitization for the three minutes it took to complete. These old unsolved cases drew Dell in like insects to a bare-bulb porch light (although, now in 2229, three hundred years after the fact, light bulbs no longer existed).

    Pulling up old court documents and photos, Dell diligently poured over the mobster Vito Delmonico’s miraculous courtroom upset. He had squeaked out of a death sentence three times but died mysteriously in front of the courthouse. Dell measured the perturbations of the individual people in the crowd photos. Vibrations were all within normal limits until he scanned Vito’s girlfriend. She was never a suspect, so Dell used old school observation techniques. The girlfriend wore gloves and carried a bouquet of Brugmansia-floggingae. However, Vito was holding the Brugmansia-f. when he dropped dead.

    Dell’s research revealed the following: Brugmansia-floggingae, all plant parts toxic to the touch.

    Case closed.

    160 WC, exclusive of title

  42. Comeuppance

    @SVBookman 151words

    They waved proudly and strongly to the crowd. Society loved them and they reveled in it.
    Politics was swinging back their direction and they really felt they could help in spite of how they had grown up and some of the more distasteful things they had done. Perhaps, the world was forgetting and moving on at last.

    He walked slowly up the back fire stairs to the top of the apartment building. The bag was heavy, dragging on him with each step. When he reached the top, he dropped the leather sack on the roof, took out the .308, adjusted the scope.

    Taking position facing the pair, he sighted the man’s heart. He could almost see it beating. 450 yards was quite a distance, but he could manage the shot with this light breeze, the sun at his back. He took aim; he had not forgotten; they would pay their dues.

  43. The Man and the Cat
    (160 words)

    Emil’s penthouse was comfy, but with the hotel nearly vacant and himself lonely, he wandered. Once before dawn he rose; slipped on pajamas, and walked corridors barefoot, trying to dispel his dream about being pursued in a similar hotel by a talking cat.

    His great discovery that morning was the assembly hall. Now, this was truly vacant—tarps over old stage equipment, and musical instruments heaped into a mound of dulled brass.

    “Quiet!” he said to nobody. Laughing, he dragged props about. He planned a show with a large, beaming cast, then got hungry and took the lift up to his suite, where he ate fish at a small table and pitied himself.

    “Any messages for me?” he asked at Concierge, later.

    “No. Though someone’s outside.”

    Across the street, for blinding sunlight, Emil strained to see the man who bellowed laughter and entertained a table of men and women. Clear enough, however, to see his moustache shooting out like whiskers.

  44. Smile and Wave (158 words)
    @thenightisdead

    Rebecca walked through the crowd, cradling a bouquet of flowers in her arms. Charles stood at her left, a broad smile plastered on his face as he eagerly waved to the crowd. Rebecca had to uphold her joyous exterior despite the disgust she felt toward the man standing next to her.

    Charles was a business man at the prime of his career, just starting to make the big money. The people adored him. They knew Charles as the kind man who would always have their backs, not realizing that he was reaching into their wallets to fund his drinking.

    Rebecca loathed the man. She couldn’t wrap her head around why some people worked hard just to put food on the table when others did nothing and got luxury cars and estates.

    “Just a few more minutes,” Rebecca thought. “Then it’ll all be over.”

    Rebecca didn’t bat an eye when the gun went off, dropping Charles onto the pavement.

  45. Shades of Grey

    The Gray Lady stood in the background fuming. She swore she would get even with the technical team: there was no way this was an accident and it had made doing her job that much harder.

    People didn’t want boring ‘facts’ they wanted to see, no… feel history as it was, and how could she get that when everyone avoided her? They simply didn’t understand that she needed to be accepted not pushed to the side.

    In the control room Chuntaz smiled and shook the technical team-leader’s hand.

    “How ever did you get her to stay out of things and just observe?”

    The team leader smiled, feigning innocence. He knew she’d get even with them, but for this moment, the mission had been a success.

    “Do what?”

    “Keep her from appearing in all the photographs?”

    “I guess no one told our trainee that the period pictures– well… that they hadn’t invented color photography yet.”

    @mishmhem
    154 words

  46. {{Posted on behalf of William Goss}}

    The Last Dragon in the Family

    My daddy was always happy and jovial. He was never lost for a smile or wave, a man of many talents. Like the time he received an award for the Gidden’s Tractor television commercial. He wrote and starred in the commercial. The commercial went “Come by, Come buy, Come by and buy.” It was funny, clever, and people loved it. He sold a lot of tractors.

    Daddy had two faults, no passion and fear. He wanted to be a writer, a hero of words; but, he was afraid to take a chance. He was afraid to be a dragon breathing a fire of words.

    My two brothers are the same. Both born with a growing defect in their amygdala, they lost the fire of their words. Living castrated by their anxiety without passion, they are jesters posing as kings.

    I’m the last dragon in my family. I hope my fire is strong.

    152 words

  47. Ellen Staley
    late entry, not qualified but wanted to give it a try anyway

    Silent Truth
    word count 141

    Vermin. That’s what he is. Soaking up the praise and adoration that’s rightfully mine. I tip my bowler further down my brow, confident the thick glasses and bushy eyebrows disguise my identity. I set my lips in a false grin, and stare him down. But he’s clueless. Probably thinks I’m fawning over him for being seen in his presence.

    I stifle a laugh.

    Out of the corner of my eye, I watch my partner. So effective he is with a movie camera.

    Right on cue, I push the fake German newspaper into his hand, his photo face up to him. His smile broadens as he peers over his picture, gesticulates with his hand. Turns the newspaper over, sees the headline and freezes.

    AMERICAN ACTOR ADMITS TO STEALING MOVIE SCRIPT FOR ‘THE WAY OF ALL FLESH!’

    I find silent movies delightfully loud.

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