Hi! I'm just getting started in writing, and I'm posting some of my experiments and other short stories here. Offline, I'm working on building my "rejection slip collection" with other stories.

Please enjoy the short stories and writing experiments I've posted here. I always enjoy constructive criticism.

I'm very interested in improving my abilities as an author, and I like to experiment with different genres and story ideas when I write. A lot of what I'll be posting here will be somewhat unfinished, I figure I'd rather post and learn what I can than have something never get written because I fret too much about how it will turn out.

Thanks for coming!

06 September 2014

Frijoles (Working Title)

Prose Draft#1, 2nd
    Cold, hard eyes surveyed the crowd in the church. Cold hard eyes surrounded by a soft face, passionate, caring, concerned. As the priest gave his sermon, his eyes caught the uncomfortable shifting of several members of the congregation. He placed a mental note in his mind of each of the faces. After the sermon, he approached a man.
    "Hello, there, Dave! How are you, my friend?"
    "Oh, hello, Nathan," Dave said, rolling his shoulders back. "Mmm, can't complain, I guess." Nathan nodded.
    "I understand." Nathan paused to watch a young woman walk by with a baby in her arms. "Good sermon today, wasn't it?" Nathan flicked his eyes towards Dave, then quickly away.
    "Oh, I dunno. I've heard better. I don't like how he always harps on sin. You know?" Dave lowered his eyebrows and shrugged, then looked to Nathan.
    "Yes. I noticed that, too. Always, 'Heaven is a perfect place, only to be gained by those who dedicate their entirety to God, the Almighty.'" Nathan turned his head to look disparagingly at Dave. Dave nodded.
    "Yeah. Always, 'Do, this,' and 'do that.' No looseness. Can't relax."
    "Yes. God doesn't want us to become stressed from serving Him. He wants us to enjoy life. Relax. Take breathers occasionally. Wouldn't you agree?" Dave stuck his hands in his pockets and stretched a leg out.
    "Yeah. That's exactly it. I mean, God does want us to enjoy life. Why be so strict?" Nathan put his hands in his pockets, nodding gently.
    "Yes." Nathan stared off into space for a minute. "You know what? I get together with some people occasionally. We just relax. But, oh gosh, you're so busy, Dave. You probably shouldn't."
    "What? Relax?" Dave tilted his head back. "I could get into that."
    "Oh, we do some questionable things, though. Our priest wouldn't like it much. I mean, you need to focus on your job and family."
    "Yeah. The family," Dave said. Nathan raised his eyebrows. "Getting to be a little too much. Wife is always on the verge of hysterics. It would be good to get some R and R. What exactly is this get-together that you do?"
    "Oh, gosh Dave, I don't know. Relaxing is a little over-rated. You really shouldn't. Your wife wouldn't approve." Dave laughed.
    "What could possibly be so bad that my wife would hate it?"
    "Hey, Dave! Glad you could come!" Nathan smiled at Dave and reached out his hand. Dave grinned and grasped it, giving it a hard shake.
    "Me, too, Nathan. Me, too." Dave relaxed his facial muscles. "So, where can I get some of this relaxation?"
    "Soon enough, Dave. First, come meet some of the others." Nathan placed his hand on Dave's shoulder and guided him out of the hallway of the front doorway. They walked past a set of stairs leading into a brightly lit hallway lined with doors, past a closet door, then finally into a living room. There were several men and women sitting on a couch and several recliner chairs that Nathan had placed in his living room.
    "Hello, everyone! This is Dave. He's going to be joining us tonight for our 'questionable' activity." Everyone in the room chuckled. Nathan smiled, led Dave to an unoccupied chair. Nathan walked over to a wooden chair and sat down. "So, how is everybody?" A soft hubbub began to fill the room as everyone began describing their day. Most started off describing their work, others talking about how their children were doing in school. Nathan listened and nodded, a slight smile lighting his lips. Soon, jokes began to fill the air as men compared bosses and women shared hairdresser stories. Nathan stood up and walked out of the room. Within a few minutes, he walked back into the room carrying a platter with several glasses filled with warm, greenish water. He walked to each person, allowed them to take a glass, then carried the platter back into the room from which he brought it. When he returned, everyone in the room was laughing loudly, giggling, yelling in excitement.
    "And that pastor!" Dave's voiced floated above the rest. "Always, 'do this,' 'do that!' Man! It wears on me! I mean, I am a good person. I don't need people to tell me what to do. My kids are great, my wife's great. It's those other people that need a talking to."
    "Quite right," Nathan said. "Most people aren't as good of people as you all are. You're some of the best people I've met, in that respect. Always doing the right thing."
    "Yeah," a woman piped up. "I mean, that pastor should be talking to, what's his name. Tall man, kinda fat. He's always eating too much. Pastor needs to tell him to stop eating so much. He needs to be told. I'm surprised his wife isn't controlling what he's eating." Nathan smiled a sad smile.
    "Yes. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could help people make the right decisions? Guide them down the right path?" Nathan sighed. "But, people are so close-minded to such things."
    "Well, why couldn't we tell them what to do?" one of the men said.
    "Ah, you see, my friend, people don't like being told what to do. They feel like they're being pushed around," Nathan said.
    "But it's for their own good. I'd be for an idea if it was for my own good."
    "Yes, but you are an intelligent individual. Most people aren't such. They wouldn't see it that way."
    "We should make them see it that way. For their own good, you know," Dave said.
    "Yes. Wouldn't that be nice?" Nathan chuckled lightly.
    "So, what did you think of our little gathering, Dave? I hope we weren't to rambunctious for you," Nathan said pleasantly.
    "Nah. Not at all. Very good enviroment. Relaxing. Easy to talk to people." Dave paused, looking somewhat hopefully at Nathan. "Would it be possible if, well, i dunno."
    "What, good friend? Say what's on your mind. It won't offend me."
    "Well, I was wondering if I ould come again. You know, next week or something."
    "Ah. Well, you lead a very busy life, Dave. Are you so sure? Your family might miss you-" Dave's shoulders stiffened.
    "Pfah," Dave said. "They can live without me occasionally. It's not like the world will end of something. C'mon. When will you get together again?" Nathan smiled.
    Dave stepped out of his car and walked over to his front door. He rustled around in his pocket for a minute, pulled something out of his pocket. He fiddled with thie door knob on his door for a minute, then opened the door. A squeal of, "Daddy!" filled the air. A small girl bounced over from a nearby door and over to Dave.
    "Hey, honey!" Dave reached down and scooped the small girl up into his arms. "What's up?" The little girl looked at Dave, then looked at the ceiling. Dave chuckled. "I walked right into that one, didn't I?" The little girl nodded.
    "Dave?" A thin, worried looking woman wandered into the walkway.
    "Hello, Martha. How was your day?" The woman threw up her hands, then let them fall limply to her sides.
    "Been worse, I guess," Martha said. "How was the business meeting?" Dave smiled upon recollection.
    "Good. It was good. Boss wasn't angry this time." Martha bobbed her head.
    "Would you like some dinner?" Martha said as she walked back the way she had come. Dave set down his daughter and followed his wife.
    "That would be good. What did you guys have?" Martha muttered to herself.
    "Talissa wouldn't eat anything. I think she's sick," she said out loud. "Read somewhere that all healthy children eat lots of food all the time. Isn't normal to be 'not hungry.'" Dave nodded and took a seat at the table next to the kitchen. "Growing girl. Needs lots of protein. She's so thin, though."
    "She's fine, Martha, dear. She's just going through a phase." Martha muttered something about an awefully long phase.
    "And then, this guy! He just walks up to me and says, 'What I do is my own business. Don't go preaching to me, man.'" Once again, several men and women had met up at Nathan's house. Voices filled the air, chittering about what a stupid man that man was. He should listen to the smarter one.
    "You see, my friend? Such close-mindedness fills our time," Nathan said. "He should have listened to you. I think you had a good point. In fact, do you have the gentleman's phone number? Perhaps you could call him right now and discuss it?" The man shook his head, muttering about just what he thought this 'gentleman' really was. "Come, now. Let's not be like that. Approach the man with reason." Nathan leaned forward in his seat. He looked directly in the eyes of the man who had been speaking. "You should call that gentleman. In fact, if you know where he lives, we might just pay him a visit. We could teach him about open-mindedness." Nathan smiled softly, watching the man nod slowly.
    "Yeah, yeah. We should go see him. He's my next-door neighbor. Hey, why don't we go see him now?"
    "Why don't we?" Nathan said. He stood up and was soon followed by everyone in the room but Dave.
    "Should we go talk to that guy now?" Dave said, shifted in his seat. "I mean, you sound ticked. Maybe you should let things sit a while. You know, cool off?" The man glared down at Dave.
    "'Cool, off?' My head is clear and focused now. I'm going to go give that guy a piece of my mind. If you don't want to participate, fine. Be my guest." Dave nodded.
    "I should go home, then," Dave said. "I'll see you all later."
    That night, Dave woke up to the sound of sirens. He sat up. Martha moaned beside him.
    "Go to sleep, Dave. They're not coming for us." Dave lowhttps://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#inboxered his eyebrows, thought for a minute, then rolled back over and went to sleep.
    The next morning, Dave listened to a radio report of a near-by shooting. A group of people had come to the door of this man, the news reported informed, yelled at the man when he came out, then one man by the name of Barry Roedin shot him. Neighbors reported surprise and grief at the murder. Barry had never seemed like the type of man to use a gun, they said. Always so calm and soft spoken as long as he had lived in that neighborhood. They just couldn't believe it. Now he was in jail, serving time. Dave reached over and turned off the radio.
    "Death, murder, dispair," Martha muttered. "Doesn't anything good happen in life?"
    "Nope!" Talissa, Dave's little daughter chimed. Martha threw her a dirty look.
    "Talissa, timeout." Martha barked. "Go." Talissa hung her head and moped over to a corner.
    "Martha. She was joking. C'mon. Don't be so harsh on the kid." Dave turned to Talissa. "Go on, honey. Go ahead and play with your dollies." Talissa popped her head up and bounced out of the corner. Martha rolled her eyes and turned to a bowl she was mixing.
    "Your softness will come back to haunt you, Dave." Dave nodded and picked up a nearby magazine.
    "I don't know, Nathan. That shooting last night. That wasn't good. What are you going to tell the police?" Dave said to Nathan later that afternoon.
    "We told them we were having a friendly argument when Barry pulled out a gun and shot the man," Nathan said, raising his palms upward. "We did try to stop him, but he just wouldn't listen to reason." Dave lowered his eyebrows.
    "You know perfectly well that Barry was under the influence of that drug you put into the water. He wasn't in proper control of his emotions." Dave pursed his lips. "If fact, it almost seemed like-seemed like..."
    "Seemed like what? Dave," Nathan said, his voice hardening. "Do say what's on your mind."
    "Well, you were the one who suggested we go and talk to that man."
    "No, Dave. Barry had made up his mind to go and see the man before I said anything. I was simply repeating what he had said." Nathan stared hard at Dave. "I thought it would be a good discussion with that man. A learning experience for him. How was I to know Barry had a gun?"
    "I just don't think that it was right to talk to Barry like that when we were, well, high."
    "What are you going to do, Dave? Will you tell the police that Barry was high? They'll want to know how you knew. And what will you tell them then? That you were high, too? And that's how you knew the symptoms?" Dave looked downwards. "Well, Dave?"
    "I'm not going to come to your get-togethers anymore, Nathan. I'm sorry. It just doesn't feel right."
    "You'll be sorry you chose that, Dave. You'll miss the relaxation." Dave gritted his teeth.
    "I'll manage."
    Talissa woke up to screaming. She rolled over, hugged her teddy bear close.
    "Mommy?" she whispered. A louder scream eminated through the house. Talissa whimpered and slid out from under her covers. She stood shivering for a second, straightened her covers, then slid under her bed. She heard footsteps pounding down the hall way to her door, saw a light flick on, then watched as her bedroom door was flung open. She watched feet walk around her bed, then walk back again.
    "Nothing in here," a masculine voice muttered. "Great. I'll tell Nathan." Talissa watched as the feet turned back towards the door and walked out. She listened as several house doors slammed, a car door slammed, and then an engine started. She listen for several long minutes as gravel crunched, a car acelerated away, and silence consumed the house. Talissa gripped her teddy bear tightly, then climbed out from under her bed.
    "Mommy?" she called softly. "Daddy?" Silence. Talissa walked to her parents bedroom door. At the opening of her parents' door, Talissa saw a puddle. Talissa turned around and ran away. She ran to her neighbor's house. When she reached up to knock on the door, the handle turned, the door opened, and a man stepped outside of the door. He looked down.
    "I need to call 911," Talissa said. The man nodded.
    "My telephone is on the stand next to the door. I'll go check on your mom and dad." Talissa nodded and hurried into the man's house. She picked up the phone. Talissa listened to the phone ring, then was greeted by a cool female voice.
    "I think my mommy and daddy are dead. Can I have some police officers come and check?"
    Talissa sat on her patio and watched as several emergency response people carried two stretchers out of her house. Her neighbor was talking to a police officer. She had just finished answering a few questions herself.
    "Well, sweetie, we know who killed your parents." Talissa turned around to face a police officer behind her. "He was very sloppy. Left a lot of identifying finger prints. We'll get him in jail. And," the police officer knelt down to Talissa's level. "Just between you and me, but I think we can get this guy a death sentence for what he did to your parents." The officer grinned. "Sweet revenge, right, sweetie?" Talissa nodded. She smiled slightly, then turned away. "We can keep you at the station until some of your family comes to pick you up. We have a TV and a bed in a nice and quiet room you can use. Would you like that?" Talissa nodded. She sniffled. The police officer rubbed her shoulders. Talissa turned to the police officer with tears in her eyes. She leaned forward into the police officer's chest, sobbing quietly. He hugged her, patting her softly. "There, there," he said.
    Eventually, Talissa's aunt came to pick her up.
    "Ah, there you are, dear. Come on. Let's get out of here." Talissa's aunt stretched out her hand. Talissa looked up from her teddy bear to the hand. She traced her eyes along the length of the arm, then up to the face. It was a hard face, wrinkles cluttering the once smooth lines, clambering over each other, vying for space. Talissa shook her head. Her aunt raised her eyebrows.
    "Darling! Yo can't stay here." Her aunt narrowed her eyes. She leaned forward and put her hand next to her mouth. "The cops are watching us right now!" Talissa frowned, turning the corners of her mouth down.
    "No," Talissa said. Her aunt groaned and grabbed Talissa's arm.
    "Come on, you little brat," she hissed. "Time to go." The aunt ignored Talissa's screams and hollers as she hoisted the small child under her arm.
    "Let me go, you wicked witch! I'll make them melt you!" The aunt rolled her eyes.
    "Yeah, yeah. Just be glad I'm taking you home." She marched out of the room, out the door, and over to her car, Talissa screaming the whole way, struggling vainly against the rough hold that her aunt had around her middle. When the aunt opened the car door, Talissa increased her struggling and began yelling at passers-by.
    "Help! Help! Rape! I'm being raped!" A man walked by, eying the child with the look one gives to a moldy loaf of bread found under one's old shower cap.
    "She doesn't know what rape is," the aunt explained. The man nodded and hurried off. "You little monster. The whole town is looking at us now. So," the aunt reached across the child to buckle her in, got kicked for her trouble. "I will now-" the aunt reached for the glove compartment door, opened it, grabbed a sock out of it, then stuffed it into the child's mouth. Talissas sat in stark shock, her eyebrow twitching slightly as she considered this new turn things had taken. "Shut you up," she finished. "Now stay quiet." Talissa's aunt walked around to the other side of the car, opened the door, climbed in, then drove away.
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