#284 – A Letter to the Editor

Dear editor,

We have your daughter.  Do not contact the police.  Her safety is in your hands right now.  If you ever want to see her alive, you will do exactly as you are told.  You will drop off $15,000 at the location marked on the map provided by 3:00am or the next time you see your precious Melody, it will be piece by piece over the course of the next six months.  This will be your only warning.

Just kidding.  It’s dad.  Just wanted to make sure you were still coming up next weekend.  Your mom wanted me to remind you to bring up those pants you wanted hemmed.  Talk to you soon.

Love,

Dad.

Behind the Random: ‘Nuff said.

#150 – The People Who Will Live in Your House…

…after you move out.

Susan looked out the car window at the three-plex.  The last unit on the right was there’s now, just off a major city road.  It was kind of a strange location, but it was available and affordable right now which made it very desirable.  “Alright guys, welcome to our new home.” She said, trying to sound optimistic.

Matthew sat slumped in the passenger seat, a sullen look on his face.  He barely replied more than a grunt anymore.  The divorce hadn’t been easy on any of them, but it had torn Matthew apart the most.  Susan knew that the teenager had idolized his dad and when he’d walked out on them, it was like his entire world had shattered into a million pieces.

“Yay!  New house!” A more chipper voice piped up from the back.  Ashley bounced up and down in her seat excitedly.  If she was hurt at all by the huge changes, she hid it well with her childish antics and bubbly personality.  “I wanna pick my room out first.  Then, I’m gonna go exploring.”  Ashley’s demeanor was contagious and Susan couldn’t help but feel better about it.  However, it made Matthew sink more into his seat.

“C’mon Matt, it’s not bad.  It’s just a change.  This house will…” Susan said, trying for the umpteenth time to break his funk open.

“Suck.” Matthew muttered, finishing the sentence for her.  “It will suck.”

“You don’t know that.” Ashely said, “It’s going to be fun!”

“Yeah right.” Matthew crossed his arms, his jaw set in that same way that his father’s would when he was deadset on hating something.  Susan just sighed.  It was going to take time, but hopefully Matthew would come around.

For now though, this was the start of their new chapter.  Like it or not.

Behind the Random: Not much to really add to this.  This one was really just an exercise on capturing three different characters going through the same situation with different perspectives.

#36 – The Talk-Show Host

It was a night of controversy for talk-show host Richie Barnack when he dropped a expletive during his monologue last night.  In the middle of his piece, there appeared to be some kind of disturbance or feedback with his earpiece, causing him to cry out in surprise and dropped the F-Bomb.  The program, which is filmed live, had no choice but to continue on.  Barnack apologized several times throughout the program and it was made light of by both himself and his guests throughout the remainder of the show.  When asked about it later, Richie told reporters, “It was unfortunate, but these things happen.”

However, several groups have taken up arms about the unfortunate gaffe, insisting that Barnack face fines for his choice of language.  A spokesperson for Morality on Television said, “Mr. Barnack is supposed to be a professional and prepared for any problems that arise during a live program.  The fact that he joked about it later just shows that he has no respect for his craft or his audience.”  This isn’t the first time the MoT have attacked the show for it’s antics, often citing it’s satirical skits as politically incorrect or insulting to various life choices.

Thomas Farbank, the producer of the show spoke out in defense of Barnack.  “Richie is a consummate professional, but he is still human.  He was caught off guard and reacted as a human would.  I know Richie feels terrible about his slip up but he handled it with the same humor and grace that someone in his position should.”  He continues on, enforcing that the show has always been of a more mature subject matter and was never intended for a young audience.

Many of fans of the late night show have spoken up on the internet, some applauding Barnack for his recovery over his mistake and others demanding actions be placed on him and the show.  As to whether he will face any consequences remains to be seen.

Behind the Random: I’ve always been entertained when groups raise alarms about morality on television in their never-ending battle to make all shows follow the same guidelines.  In my opinion, it’s a ridiculous endeavor.  I have always been of the mind that, if I don’t like something or find something out of line, I don’t watch or listen to it.  Case in point, I’ve never cared for South Park.  So I don’t watch South Park.  But I know a lot of people who love the show to death and I would never want to take something that they love away from them.

#82 – An Estranged Mother and Son…

…who haven’t seen or spoken to each other in more than twenty years meet in line at the post office in December, arms full of packages to be mailed.  What do they say to each other?

Son: Uh, hello.

Mother: Hello.

Son: Well, this is awkward.

Mother: It is.  I thought you’d moved.

Son: I did.  I’m back.  Uh, last month.

Mother: Oh.

Son: Yeah…

Mother: Are you still with Ver… (pauses)

Son: Vanessa.  Yeah.  We’re still together.

Mother: That’s good.

Son: Yeah.

Mother: You’re father is fine, in case you were wondering.

Son: I wasn’t, really.

Mother: Right.  Well, you know now.

Son: I guess I do, yeah.

Mother: Yeah.

<long awkward pause as they move up the line>

Mother: Who are you sending those to?

Son: Friends, mostly.  One to grandma.

Mother: Oh?

Son: Uh, yeah.  Nothing big.  Just a John Wayne movie.

Mother: She does love her Duke.

Son: Yeah.

Mom: Yeah.

<another awkward pause as they move some more>

Son: Uh, so…

Mother: Yes?

Son: How’s the…uhm, anything, y’know, interesting to anything happen?

Mother: Uh, no.  Not really.  Nothing you’d really care to know.

Son: Probably not, I’m just…

Mother: Yeah.  I know.

Son: Making conversation.  This is insanely awkward.

Mother: Small world, right?

Son: Very.

<both chuckle nervously as they more up>

Mother: So are you…?

Son: What?

Mother: Are you still working….?

Son: For Arnie?  No.

Mother: Oh, that’s good.

Son: No, I’ve moved up since him.

Mother: Oh?

Son: Yeah.  It’s been…it’s good.

Mother: That’s good.

Son: Yeah.

(finally, they reach the head of the line and finally part ways)

Mother: It was good to see you again.

Son: Thanks.  Uh, you too.

Mother: Thank you.  Would you like to say anything to your dad?

Son: Uh.  Yeah, sure.  Hi I guess.  Merry Christmas, maybe?

Mother: Ok.

Son: Same time next year?

Mother: Uh, yeah.  Okay…

Son: It’s a date.

Behind the Random: If there’s a guy who knows what an awkward conversation feels like, it’s this guy.  This pretty much sums 90% of the conversations I have outside of my wife and friends.  And I don’t even have reason to, unlike these two fictional family members.

#310 – A Never-Ending Breakup

“I can’t do this anymore, Tyler!” Rachel fumed, throwing her hands up in the air.  “Every week, it’s the same damn promises and the same damn lies.  Every goddamn week.  When are you going to grow up and stop being such a child?”

“When are you going to pull your head out of your butt and get off my case?” Tyler yelled back, his eyes wide and jaw set for a fight, “Maybe if you didn’t hassle me so much, I wouldn’t have to lie to get you off my back!”

A look of outraged disbelief crossed Rachel’s face, “Oh really?  And if I don’t ‘hassle you’,” She throws up quotations signs with her fingers in a sharp sarcastic manner, “then all you’d do is sit around drinking beer, smoking weed, and playing your damn video games.”

Tyler reflexively opened and closed his hands, trying to relieve the growing stress in his arms and shoulders.  “I work 10 hour days earning money for this house.  So if I want to enjoy my time off, that’s my business.  What do you do with your time all day, huh?”

A dangerous look cross Rachel’s face, a flash of pure hate crossing her eyes, “Oh ho ho, don’t you even get me started on that.  You think I have it easy here, cleaning up after you and Dyson without any help from you at all?  You come home covered in filth and just expect me to pick up after you?”

“Then get a job and we can hire someone to do it for us!” Tyler countered, “Nobody asked you to be a stay-at-home mom.  You choose this.”

“I only agreed to that because you promised you were getting that promotion.  Do you remember that?  Now it’s been three years and you’re still right where you started.  Just a shiftless loser who can’t stay sober enough to pick his own son up from daycare when I need you to.”

Tyler pointed a accusing finger at her, “You know what, Sabrina was right about you.  You’re just a stuck up crybaby who’s never happy about anything.”

Her eyes shot open in shock, “You’re talking to Sabrina again?  You sleeping with her too?  Didn’t get enough from last time?”

A sharp bark of a laugh erupted from Tyler as he shook his head, “Oh don’t act all high and mighty.  I know you’ve been bumping and grinding with Vic, so shut your mouth.”

“At least he knows how to treat a lady, unlike my caveman boyfriend!  When’s the last time you even said anything nice about me?” She practically shrieked, her face going a bright red color.

“Ha!  I guess he’s never met a lady before then.” Tyler threw back at her, a cruel grin on his lips.

Rachel picked up a plate from the counter, completely consumed by anger and rage, “Oh I hate you!” She screamed as she hurled the plate at Tyler.  It happened so fast, he could only stand there and watch as it hurtled towards his head.

Suddenly, time began to slow then eventually stop competely.  The plate hung in the air as both Tyler and Rachel remained frozen where they stood.  Silence filled the entire universe for a moment, then a cracking sound louder than a thousand rockets tore through existence and everything went white then faded as time reset itself.

“I can’t do this anymore, Tyler!” Rachel fumed, throwing her hands up in the air.  “Every week, it’s the same damn promises and the same damn lies.  Every goddamn week.  When are you going to grow up and stop being such a child?”

“When are you going to pull your head out of your butt and get off my case?” Tyler yelled back, his eyes wide and jaw set for a fight, “Maybe if you didn’t hassle me so much, I wouldn’t have to lie to get you off my back!”

Behind the Random: Imagine being in the middle of some terrible situation that just repeats itself for all eternity.  Just doing it over and over.  Of course, I suppose it would only be hell if you were actually aware of the repeat…

#64 – Your Favorite Moment in Film

Jack ignored the pain wracking his body, forcing his arms to push him back up.  The taste of blood was thick in his mouth as muscles screamed at every movement, but he still he would not relent.  With some effort, he managed to stand back up on unsteady legs.

The four very large men standing around him watched, visibly impressed that Jack was able to get back up after the vicious beating he’d just taken.  “What’s the matter, Jackie Boy?” The leader, Franco, asked, “You too stupid to die?”  Behind him, John could see Becca watching from where she was sitting, still bound to the chair.

“Stupid or crazy.  Jury’s still out on that one.” Jack replied, wiping the blood from the corner of his mouth, “Now let’s get this party started.”

Franco smirked and stepped back, gesturing to the other three men.  “Beat this man within an inch of his life.  Then go that extra mile.”  Determination crossed each of their faces as they attacked as one, like a pack of dogs attempting to take down their prey.

As the first one reached Jack, he turned and delivered a quick jab, connecting with the man’s jaw and forcing his head to snap back, then snapped a sidekick out into the stomach of the second guy forcing him to double over.  Both stumbled back just as the third slammed into Jack with a holler.  Thick arms snaked around Jack and lifted him into the air with ease.

As  the arms tightened around Jack, he let out a grunt as he could feel the air in his lungs being forced out.  The man grappling him laughed in his face as he applied more pressure, “Not so tough, is he?”  The others laughed as they stood around watching, each rubbing their respective injuries.  Jack gasped something inaudible, struggling to get a breath of air but could only squirm in the man’s grasp and feel the world go dark and numb.  “What’s that then?” The man asked, tilting his head as if to get a better listen.

Jack gritted his teeth and managed to spit out, “Tic tac?” then slammed his forehead down hard on the thug’s face, connecting with the bridge of his nose.  There was a loud crack and a spray of blood erupted form the man’s face as he let Jack go and fell back, crying out in pain.  Jack landed and sucked in a greedy breath, but didn’t let the man recover as he lashed out a kick into the thug’s knee and sending him crashing to the ground.

His chest wheezed as he took another deep breath, trying his best stay upright as the remaining two rushed at him in hopes of capitalizing on his weakness.  Together, the two grunts swung and kicked at Jack who did his best to dodge and block them, but the two were wearing the already worn out and beaten man down.  Jack managed to get in a few shots, but paid for each one as fists and feet connected painfully.

Finally, Jack managed to get his hands on one thug’s foot.  He ducked a wide haymaker from the other than twisted hard on the ankle.  There was a vicious snapping sound followed by a scream of agony as the man tried to break free, but Jack just held on.  As the other man stepped in again, Jack fell to the ground, pulling his captive with him who landed with another scream.  Surprised by this and commited to his swing, his attacker stumbled forward just as Jack lashed out with both legs, smashing his feet into the man’s knees and sending him to the ground.  Adrenaline pumping through him, Jack got to his feet and delivered another kick to the man’s face, knocking him out cold.

Jack paused letting out a slow breath as he looked at the three injured men sprawled around him, making sure none of them would be getting back up anytime soon.  A slow clapping sound grabbed his attention and he turned to find Franco standing beside Becca.  “Impressive.  Very impressive.” He said, as he pulled a pistol from his coat and pointed it at the back off her head.  “For a dead man.”

Jack’s fists clench tightly, white knuckles contrasting brightly against the blood that trickled from them.  His veins throbbed and his head pounded.  “I ain’t even gotten started yet.”

Behind the Random: It’s one of those cliched moments in action movies where the hero is beaten and bloody but somehow finds the power to stand back up and fight again.  It always thrills me, even though I’ve seen it a thousand times before and I know it’s such a cheesy cheap move, because I know there’s about to be a-whoopin’ coming.  One of my favorite come back moments is from The Rundown with Dwayne Johnson.

#240 – The Art of Love

Love is like art, in that there are so many ways to appreciate it and it means something different to every person.  To some, it is elegance and beauty and classical while to others it’s bold and intense and fascinating.  Some, like me, don’t completely understand what makes it is what it is only that it exists.  It can be strange and different and sometimes confusing or even frightening.  I love and have been loved, but I don’t fully get it.  This has led me to a realization:

I don’t know love, but I know what I like.

Behind the Random: Part of me thinks that I pooched this one, but then I remind myself that the whole point of the prompts is to stimulate inspiration.  So if I write anything at all about the topic, I suppose it could be considered a success. 

I’m not much of a love person.  There’s a piece of me, beneath the ice and cynicism and terrible jokes, that is a hopeless romantic but it’s only a fraction of who I am.  It’s enough to care deeply for my wife and those I see as important in my life but beyond that, I don’t have much to give elsewhere.  I’ve been accused of being a hateful guy in the past, but I disagree.  To hate something is akin to loving something.  You need passion to fuel that emotion and that’s what I lack.  I hate some things, sure, but probably as much as I love things.

And I’m fine with that.