Prompt: I bought a random ticket to ____________.
sometimes you have to get away, and you’re not too particular where you end up.
Linda had said the magic ‘divorce’ words, and i’d agreed. i left her everything i couldn’t fit into a suitcase and a backpack, she let me pull most of the money out of our joint account.
i went to the airport, the American ticket desk. i carefully avoided looking at the screens with their lists of arrivals and departures … destinations. i told the young lady at the desk, “first plane leaving for anywhere’.
lucky i had my passport.
didn’t know what i’d do when i got there, but that was fine. eight years married to Linda, working for her father’s firm, no vacations … i deserved a break.
i was surprised to see a driver, holding a sign, “Mr. Lyle”.
“are you waiting for Thomas Lyle?”
he drove me to the Shanghai Imperial. i went to the front desk, and discovered i didn’t need to get a room – there was a suite already reserved for me.
and a thick manila envelope with my name on it.
Prompt: a little risque
so, Paula had been inviting me to her Friday night parties for months.
nothing against Paula, or the friends of hers i’d never met, but after a week at work, my idea of a perfect Friday night was drinks at Duke’s, my favorite jazz club. i sat and drank, enjoying the music, until my back and neck relaxed, and then i’d go home to sleep until whenever the hell i decided to wake up.
being social, with people i didn’t know? i’d pass. i had my standing date at Duke’s.
but it was her birthday, and she’d batted her eyelashes, and i’d said yes.
i’d heard her refer to her love of tequila, so i picked up a bottle of Patron as a gift. finding my way to her house was trickier than i’d thought it would be, so i was late.
the man who answered the door was in latex, head to toe, mouth zippered shut, and hobbled by a two-foot spreader bar between his ankles.
“is this Paula Sanders’ home?”
he nodded like he was having a seizure.
beyond him, in the foyer, there was a man in a Victorian-style night shirt, and a woman wearing less than nothing – it looked like she was dressed in gauze, completely covered from neck to wrists to ankles.
I’ve never seen anyone more undressed than she was.
Prompt: i remember every face
i remember everyone who was there.
arrogant pricks didn’t bother to hide their faces when they beat me. seeing who they were, knowing who their parents were? even if i talked to the cops, nothing would happen … aside from another beating.
the way the evening was going, one was going to be more than enough.
the six of them weren’t drunk, or high, they were just hateful, and free to exercise that hatred.
i’d shown up on their victim-radar by daring to smart off to Evan, our high school’s star quarterback. he’d fumbled out a wrong answer to one of our history teacher’s questions, and i’d said, “i play foo’ball’ in a dumb voice.
so i was paying for my humor.
no chance at holding in my tears, the first boot in my nuts had made sure of that, so i was sobbing while they sneered at me, working me over.
next morning i woke up on my own front porch. i’d peed myself the night before, and they’d peed on me, so i was covered in blood and piss, in pain everywhere, when i unlocked the door and staggered in.
mom saw me first. i think she’d assumed i was upstairs in bed.
Prompt: the mermaid of Neptune
she was meant to look as if she was made of marble, accented with gold leaf … by the time i saw here again, she was clearly plastic and flaking gold paint.
but my daughter, she was five, she fell in love with her. Patty saw the sad, wooden-handled, plastic-headed trident at the mermaid’s feet, and said, “Daddy, she must be King Neptune’s favorite!”
Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, sure, why not Neptune’s favorite mermaid?
“I guess she is, hoeny. now, wave goodbye, let’s go to our room.”
Kingdom of the Sea Motel and Aquarium, Seamount, Texas. when i was a child, my family stayed there on our way to and from the coast.
this many years later, the magic was gone for me. the Grand Aquarium was empty, the glass cracked.
that night, eating supper in the motel’s cafe, Patty wondered at the marvels they’d kept there.
glowing sea monsters? miniature whales? singing lobsters? mathematically-inclined octopi?
the next morning, as i was checking us out, i realized Patty had found the magic i’d lost.
Prompt: last day of summer
fuck the calendar – summer ended the last Sunday before school started up again.
lots of folks wax nostalgic about going back to class. no matter how much i enjoyed seeing my friends again, and my favorite teachers, no matter how much i might enjoy my classes … going back to school was going back to prison.
of course, the architecture didn’t help.
our school’s weren’t Temples of Learning. they were Institutions, where we were expected to be Institutionalized.
rules and regulations, don’t talk, don’t run, the peculiarities of teachers, the militarism of coaches, the horrors of the cafeteria … nothing i’d ever look forward to returning to. even before the internet, there was no knowledge in school i couldn’t find in the far friendlier environs of the town library.
summer’s end was was bitter, and all the glowing, virginal school supplies in the world couldn’t add a sugar cube’s sweetness to the prospect.
the gates were opening, and it was back inside with the rest of the prisoners.
i looked at my fellow inmates who were giddy and grinning, and realized they’d been brain-washed so thoroughly they welcomed their shackles.
listening to: season 2, ep 1 of ‘babylon 5’