A mathematician once said that “together forever” lasts a fortnight and after a passionate two week fling Tess had to agree. Visions of bridal gowns and corsages danced across her mind. She could get a job here and give up her boring office existence for sun, sand and sangria. Life could be a beach….couldn’t it?
“Ladies and gentlemen we have completed our pre-flight checks…” intoned the nasal air steward. Tess rubbed the sand between her toes and smiled ruefully. Her “forever” had finished.
I wrote this for a writing challenge as follows….Choose a scenario (or invent your own) and write a poem, a short story, a vignette, a scene, or flash fiction based on Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.
The Nighthawks by Edward Hopper 1942: Public Domain
“You! Whaddaya want?” the bartender barked. “Can’t ya see I’m busy here.”
Real busy, she thought, looking at the other two customers in the place. The two men were sitting at either end of the bar wearing identical dark blue suits, ties and grey fedoras with a black band around the rim. The each nursed a mug of dark coffee. They looked like a couple of gangsters. They studiously ignored each other. Neither one had looked up when she entered the bar. She could use a drink right now, but it looked like the most exciting option here was going to be black coffee.
She slinked past them in her brand new, red silk dress. It swished becomingly around her calves and brushed against her sheer seamed stockings. Cute black heels and a patent black belt broke up the red. Her hair clashed gloriously with the dress; blue eye shadow and thick kohl eyeliner completed the look. The whole ensemble had cost her her savings. Not even a flicker from either of them. “Coffee, doll. Make it strong.” She perched next to the second suit and reapplied her fire-engine red lipstick using the back of a spoon as a compact. The curved surface allowed her to get a better peak at the man sitting on her right. She had a good view of his friend across the bar.
Her thick ceramic mug was plunked down gracelessly in front of her. “You spilled a bit doll.” The bartender glared at her until she put her coins down on the counter top. She scrambled in her purse and found some bits and pieces and slid them into the pool of coffee. The bartender wiped the spill and the coins off the bar with his rag. She carelessly lit a cigarette. “Gotta light hon?” She asked the suit.
He reached into his suit pocket and slid the metal lighter wordlessly across the bar, still not even looking in her direction. She was looking though – she now knew that he wasn’t carrying a piece. Not a gangster then, or a dick. She regarded his twin through the cigarette smoke and sipped at the strong coffee. She leaned both elbows onto the bar in a deliberately provocative gesture and exhaled slowly – the smoke curling around her lips and creating a grey halo around her red hair.
Sammy had told her to watch, take mental notes. People opened up to women. Men opened up to women dressed like her, or at least took them to a seedy motel where she would be able to go through his wallet. She didn’t like dressing like this but she liked to eat. She had been instructed to dress “nice ya know, look the part kid”. She was to sit and wait for one of them to approach her and make conversation. What happened after that was unclear, but she understood the implications.
This gig would pay her rent for the month and for some of the dress! So far she couldn’t see anything particularly note-worthy. They were just two guys having coffee late one night in “Phillies”. Neither of them seemed remotely interested in her, so there was nothing to report back on. Actually scratch that – she started making a mental list. Suit number 1: smoker, no gun, nicely manicured nails. Drank his coffee black. Slim build – the suit wore his suit well. Not the same for suit number 2: suit buttons straining a little, but hadn’t bought or been able to afford a new suit. There was a sugar bowl and milk jug next to his mug so obviously had a sweet tooth. Supported by the fact that there was a flash of gold in his mouth from having teeth filled in. She couldn’t see any point in being here. As long as she still got paid that was the main thing!
I thought I was starting at the beginning but it hasn’t worked out that way at all. After my first burst of inspiration for beginning a novel came in Venice, my next came on a trip to Pembrokeshire and a walk at a glorious beach called Barafundle Bay. Continue reading →
I wrote this after a gig – it struck me that musicians have a special relationship with their instruments.
He held her in a loving embrace. She was taller than him by a good few inches and leant back into his shoulder nestling into his neck. They curled elegantly around each other. He tweaked and played with her, stroked her neck, slapped her side. The crowd were transfixed. They felt like they had stumbled upon an intimate moment. The rest of the musicians were oblivious – they each had their own love affairs going on. The beat picked up and the slapping continued. The audience roared its approval.
Musicians and their instruments
As the set carried on the music rocked and rolled and rocked again to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. The boy leant in close to his double bass in the slow numbers and murmured into her neck and flung her out with a spin when the beat quickened.
The finale saw a majestic pirouette then as quickly as the boy had been to stroke and caress his bass, he let her go and lay her down on the sticky pub floor.
The boy’s girlfriend came up to help clear up. She held the double bass’s cover up to throw over its’ head. The boy took it from her hands, kissed his girl on the cheek and said, “I’ll do that,” and lovingly tucked his bass away.
His girl stepped aside and just stared at them. Her eyes gleamed in the stage lights. As the boy zipped up the bass’s case his girlfriend glared. She felt jealousy bubbling up inside her.
The boy put his arms around her and whispered in her ear. “Thanks for coming tonight.” She smiled and de-clenched a fraction – there were some things she could do which his double bass couldn’t. Her smile froze. He let go of her and picked up his bass to carry in both arms.
She frowned again. The three of them left together.
This is another writing challenge which I started for the Daily Post and has ended up being a slightly spooky image of a fairground. I have always found fairgrounds and circuses to be rather odd and intriguing places.
The challenge was to use five nouns from the following list: The lake. The night. The crickets. The ravine. The attic. The basement. The trapdoor. The baby. The crowd. The night train. The fog horn. The scythe. The carnival. The carousel. The dwarf. The mirror maze. The skeleton.
The skeleton danced at midnight with the melody of the carousel reverberating through his hollow bones. He yearned to touch the carnival animals again and jest with the dwarves. His life of skin and flesh had been full of colour, light and music and how had he loved it!
Skeleton Danced at Midnight
The crowds spun through the circus screaming with laughter and candy-floss induced mania. It was a sugar-spun world. The fat lady solemnly ate her way through fifteen courses; the bearded lady combed her hair and the iron man lifted trucks to practice his art. Animals preened in their cages and the big top shone like a beacon in the night sky.
The carousel had been his creation with the pretty horses with their painted tails flying. How he loved their graceful motion. Up and down and round and round. They never stopped their flight until that fateful day when he lost his footing and fell under the painted horses’ hooves. He lost his flesh to the carousel but honoured it with his bones.