Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

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Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: chance

61 responses to “Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. “I was feeling down and out when I suddenly saw Lady Luck smiling benignly down upon me. I hesitated, but, ‘Take a chance’, said she.”

    “So how is that working out for you, buddy?”

    “I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, but so far everything is coming up aces.”

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    “Chance? Don’t know if I believe in chance.”

    “Why not?”

    “There I was minding my own business and I found myself in the right time & place to save the lives of thousands of people. That Can’t Be Just Chance!”

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      “Must be heck when you go on vacations”.

      Chucklingly he replied, “That’s why I’m not sure about it being chance. The only vacation where trouble happened where I was resulted in me meeting my wife-to-be”.

      “What?”.

      “Yep, there I was relaxing when these Rogues started trouble. Just as I was about to take action, this sweet lady in a fetching two-piece swim-suit started punching them out. Well, after I joined the fun and allowed the authorities to deal with the Rogues, she and I enjoyed the rest of our vacations getting to know each other. Been married thirty wonderful years now.”

  3. “Chance is the foolish name for fate. Give me a name for chance and I am a fool. Fate is a foolish thing to take chances with. I am a fate to take foolish chances with. Chances are that fate is foolish. Fate is the foolish thing. Take a chance.”


    Ten thousand and fifty words!

  4. Roger Ritter

    The tinker looked at the kettle. He asked, “A dragon did this?”
    Mrs. Evers replied, “Yes – the dragon wasn’t attacking, just walking through the village. One of his claws holed it. Can you fix it?”
    “A claw hole, yes. You’re lucky. If the dragon had melted it, not a chance!”

    Fifty words exactly, and a tribute to a bit of baseball history.

    • Love your story. Write more of it please!

    • Dorothy Grant

      “But… if the dragon was walking through the village, how did the teapot end up in the road?”
      “What?”
      “Where was the teapot when he walked on it?”
      “Oh! He didn’t walk on it, he holed it when he flung up a paw to keep it from hitting him dead center between the eyes. See, Mrs. Carter has a deadly aim for thieves, and she had some pies on the sill cooling…”
      “And she threw it before she saw who the thief was?
      “Before she remembered to care.”
      “And… your village is still standing?”
      “Oh, yes. They apologized to each other, and he assured her she was a fine old dragon, protecting her horde just like his own dear mam.”

  5. The next two weeks pass with an odd sort of blur. An and Beh use a portal to get to England, where they will be working with other Servants to set up the various identities on their end. On Tuesday, there’s a Skype call and a “job interview” and Adam Taylor sends me a relocation and preparation payment to get my end ready for the move to New Jersey. By Fedex First Early Morning delivery.

    Oh, and the employment paperwork.

    I have to bounce a few times over to London myself, as Adelaide needs to do some things like get a new passport, go to the US Embassy to get a First Preference Employment visa done with her parents, make a few visits to build up references, that kind of thing. Adam (i.e. Father) and Beatrice (i.e. Mother) have a lot of paperwork to do as well, and the investment firm that Father is employed by (which they didn’t even know they had been employing him about a week ago) has a lot of paperwork to get filled out as well.

    We, as the newly created Taylor family, go to see grandfather’s (Father’s father) grave. Michael Taylor was A Character, one could say. Probably one of the last generation of coal miners in the area, when he was laid off he swore that his only son would never have to worry about having a job anymore. Raising his son after his wife died young alone…there was always a whiff of brimstone around Michael. Somehow, in four years, he was running a major trucking and shipping company in the area, and making money, lots of it. And, the rumors followed Michael Taylor around-never anything to make the papers, God forbid, but there were always stories about Michael. About how quite a bit of the heroin and the cocaine and the guns in the area moved because of Michael. Nothing anybody could prove…just like they could never prove a dozen or so people that were “problematic” ceased to be a problem-or to appear ever again.

    His son Adam went to school in the area, did well, and got into the University of Leeds for an accounting and MBA degree program.

    Six months prior to Adam’s graduation, Michael died of a massive coronary. Two days later, the offices of his shipping company burned to the ground.

    What stories there were would never be told by anyone.

    After that depressing visit (after the rumors started, Father’s mother’s family disowned his father and he had no other relatives), we spent a few days in London and waited for the US Customs and Immigration Service to be harangued by several lawyers and a Senator from New Jersey to get our paperwork processed quickly. Had my medical exam (my first as a girl, and it was creepy, especially the speculum exam), got all my vaccinations done, and got a chance to “explore London” with my parents, and hit all the spots a fifteen year old girl would want to hit. Explored a few museums, went to Camden Lock to hit the sales, and explored the vintage shops and the high-end shops for some new things. Father “gave in” to a suggestion of mine and I spent six days learning how to properly apply makeup through a combination of assistance from Charlotte and a lady from Art Of Freelance Makeup whom gave me a great deal of useful advice and suggestions. Charlotte was the practical one and Jean (the lady from AOFM) was a bit more fanciful, and the two of them tag-teamed each other on my makeup efforts.

    (I learned later that Charlotte and Jean were seriously flirting with each other after my lessons. Charlotte…loved love, and Jean was willing to find love with anyone. Very passionate two weeks, but Jean was dedicated to making London work for her, and Charlotte was dedicated to me… I offered to work out a shuttle service for her, all Charlotte did was smile, hide her tears, and say, “Thank you, but it’s wrong for me to lead her on.”)

    By the end of the week, I could put my makeup on like a professional, from professional subtle to sexy to “night out on the town”. I actually had a wardrobe, three dozen professionally fitted bras, enough panties to count as a gold medal in a panty raid, and more shoes than I cared to think about.

    And, I was discovering how different things are thinking with a girl’s brain.

    Anybody that says “there’s no difference between the sexes!” is someone that one day I will forcibly gender-swap to their opposite for a week. It isn’t just the differences in height, gait (I had to learn when and when not to strut, as according to Father and Charlotte, I would do so without a moment’s hesitation), or how people respond and react to you. I was able to multitask very easily but my ability to really focus on a task went to hell for a month, which required me to very doggedly retrain it. And, one of the reasons why women pay more for their clothing is that they can feel so much more from the sensations of the clothing they wore.

    The sensory inputs are different, and the few times that I’ve been sensual as a man don’t even compare to sensuality as a women. Sweet things are much sweeter, textures on your tongue are easier to detect, and your sense of smell is so much different. Combined with the body control that my magic circuits allow, it’s astonishing how much different the world is when you’re a girl.

    Do you get treated poorly and sometimes patronized? Oh yes, but I can say this, having seen it from both sides-first of all, men get treated poorly by other people roughly about as much. The style tends to be different than what women get, which is true. Second, women (or more accurately women’s brains) tend to pick up more on the social nuances of human interactions. Things really do fly over men’s heads, ladies, and just reviewing some interactions that I’ve had in the past with a girl’s brain causes you just facepalm along the lines of “what the hell was I thinking when I was there?” way too much.

    (This doesn’t excuse men not picking up on social nuances-we’re just not as good at it and we’re never really trained on it. But, in our defense, we’re not really trained, women tend to use nuance as a way of hedging their bets, and sometimes women use men’s poor ability in social nuances as tools to manipulate them to do what they want and still keep their hands clean.

    (And, I understand now the obsession with shoes. Even more than guys loving the inside curve of your calves as you walk by, heels clicking. Everybody ultimately cares about what you wear, even more so than men. So, if you’re not wearing the right shoes, the artwork of what you’ve been trying to create with the right dress, the right earrings, the right necklace, and the right bracelet just falls apart like a house of cards in a tumble dryer. This, of course, gets into decision fatigue, because you have to figure out every day what you’re going to wear, and what goes with it and everything else.

    (Personal tip? Learn your company’s dress code, and plan out your outfits a week ahead. Most places, you can get away with a good skirt, a good blouse, the right heels, and only a few accessories. Don’t wear the same thing the same day within a month after you’ve done laundry, and as long as your outfit isn’t massively distinctive, nobody will know.)

    And, yes, guys will look at you. A lot. So will girls. A lot. Unless you’re wearing a burqa or a shapeless sweater, people will look at you and comment and sometimes even make uncomfortable or inappropriate comments around you. This is not a “grow a thicker skin” piece of advice, it’s more “why do you care what the local yobs think about you?” advice. Let them chatter, it’s probably the nicest thing they will see all day. And, they will never have what they see, which is the best possible revenge.

    For the occasional groper on a crowded bus or Underground train? Block heels and a very good aim works wonders. Make sure to add a “oops!” and act like you stumbled when you put your heel right into the ball of his foot to ensure that you have material for your alibi. And, if you have magic like I do, taser underwear is a great surprise and you get to have a little giggle when the groper gets shocked. The groper can’t exactly go to the police, can he?

    I won’t say that I got away with murder during my time in London…but, being cute is a massive force multiplier. And, I never tried to get something for nothing. There was one shop in Camden Lock that had this perfect necklace, and the owner wasn’t willing to sell…but, I asked nicely, accepted his decision with grace, left just long enough for him to ask me to come back into the shop, offered a reasonable price, and I gave him a huge hug after he had wrapped it and I had paid for it. And, said “thank you, may Allah bless you” in Farsi as I left, which made him blush like a schoolboy that had just been kissed for the first time.

    And, courtesy is another force multiplier. Social interactions of any sort have massive amounts of friction-and courtesy is a vital lubricant. “Please” and “thank you” works wonders, especially if you can say it in someone’s own language. Don’t lose your temper at people that are just trying to do their best, especially store clerks and such. I may have made a friend for life at a vintage store in Soho, because she was helping me and this very rude girl that wanted everything yesterday. I waited patiently and let the rude girl be rude, and every time I got something I said “thank you.” She showed me some stuff after the rude girl left that if I was interested in ‘70s mod couture, I would have fallen in love with. And, I did buy three perfect Little Black Dresses from her, so that was nifty.

    So, nearing the middle of May, we had gotten all the paperwork done and CIS had cleared us for an H-1B visa with the goal of getting a Green Card, Father’s work had celebrated his new employment in the US, the security team (lead by Ian Davies and his team of specialists) were already getting settled in, and we were about to take a seven hour flight on a Gulfstream G650 from Heathrow to Teterboro, entirely on the company’s dime.

    Of course, hilarity would strike after everything had been working out so perfectly.

  6. Here’s the transcribed story of the violence that moves out with the first lunar colonists, and the story of a man that moved with it.

    I’m that man. Matt Dillon, Luna City Marshal. The first man they look for and the last they want to meet. It’s a chancey job – and it makes a man watchful – and a little lonely.

  7. Equestriaverse — Good story stuff.

    OTOH, I have worked retail. I only wish that women were careful about how clothing feels on the inside. You know that saying about “You must suffer to be beautiful”? A lot of women only care about how their clothes look and hang, or how they feel on the outside to the target guy.

    Their feet are stuffed into shoes that don’t fit, and that is just the loadbearing damage; because also their bras do not fit, their blouses are too tight, and they are basically living in the smallest sizes physically able to cover their bodies with cloth. You get young customers with decent shapes, but who have already ruined their toes, hurt their backs, and given themselves all kinds of chafing injuries.

    OTOH, your character seems to be buying clothing in better stores, which means that they will be better constructed, are available in more shapes with more tailoring, and thus will be more comfortable. Linings for skirts, for example, mean that clothes will last longer, but they are also comfy. If your character is getting properly fitted, and not fighting to wear clothes wrongly, he can maybe remain in blissful ignorance of the ever more prevalent idea that women’s clothes should be a terrible experience.

    • Her tutors are fashionable, thoughtful, considerate, and already have a hit list of every “fashion expert” that is out there that suggests that you have to suffer for your beauty. There’s a difference between “working for your beauty” and “hurting yourself to try and fit someone else’s mold.”

      I’ll have to give you a Charlotte quote that I’m must use now, “Find your beauty, mon trésor. Within the dictates of practicality, law, and custom, of course. Find the right shoes that fit properly, the right bra that rests on you and is what works, and the right blouse that has the right cut. Find the right dress, the right panties, and the right makeup. And, make it yours, nobody else’s.

      “Let me help and tell you what the proper fit is, and a properly made and done corset is a joy to wear, not a punishment.

      “And, if that putain salope of a ‘friend’ tries to turn you into a poorly dressed fashion doll again, we shall have words. And possibly pistols at dawn.”

    • Oh, and Adelaide did get the “joy” of poorly-fitted clothing when she had to get her school uniform…

      The first shop had both availability and the time, and we were able to pull in and get in easily. The shop was a old clothing boutique with the wear of time on it in Greenpoint. Father rang the bell, and an ancient woman with unkempt grey hair and a dress that smells of mothballs came up, unlocking the door. Her perpetually pinched, sour expression reminded me of Mom’s father so much that I was having PTSD flashbacks of the man, and she said, “Oh, you’re here for a uniform?”

      “Yes, I am,” I replied after I shook myself back into awareness, as Ian and Mother were standing behind me. Ian smiled one of his bland, “absolutely harmless, ma’am” smiles and kept his hands in his windbreaker.

      “Just her,” the old woman said, pointing at Mother with a single arthritic finger. “Don’t need a man in here, being a distraction.” She opened the door and locks it behind us as we come in. “Are you staying in the dorms?” she asks, looking at me.

      “No, we’re going to be moving into a new house near the school,” I reply. Hopefully, I thought. I had looked at the list of things I needed and said, “I have my measurements…” before the old woman grabbed me by the ear, and tugged.

      “Over here,” she ordered and made me stand in the middle of a spot in the room. From a pocket she whips out a tape measure and starts to take measurements. “The adulterers and the lesbians and the pedophiles will try to make you into an object of sin, when you should belong to your husband,” the woman muttered. “You will get a proper measurement here.”

      She took some measurements, muttering angrily about how I had been measured to turn myself into an object of sexuality and sin and vice. I ignored it and she tottered into the back and I looked over at Mother. “This,” I said in a soft voice, “does not bode well.”

      Mother switched to High Imperial, and I knew things were bad. “She cannot be anything but what she has been taught to be over the decades. It is her sole point of stability.”

      I sighed, and the woman came back with a dress, a shirt, bra, underwear, stockings, and shoes in her hands. “Try this on,” the woman muttered. “You can change over there.”

      “Over there” was a screened off area. I went over, got out of my dress, and changed into everything. And, I hated it instantly. The bra the woman had chose was perfectly designed to give me back problems, scratchy on my nipples, the underwire dug perfectly into my chest in places guaranteed to cause blisters and skin tears, and couldn’t fit even remotely comfortably on me. The panties were cotton and uncomfortable, and the stockings were just a bit scratchy on my legs, even though I could keep them clean without shaving by body control. The blouse fits so loosely that I almost wonder if she got one two sizes too large.The dress comes on and zips shut and it rests like a gunny sack on my body. The black tie that I need to wear as a freshman student looks odd and I can’t tighten it at all. And the shoes are Mary Janes designed to raise blisters the size of a monster truck tire if you walk in them for more than twenty minutes.

      When I stepped out, the old woman gave me what had to be a smile, even though she was wearing horribly-fitting dentures in her mouth. “Now, you look like a proper Christian student, not an object of sin,” she pronounced.

      I reminded myself, very firmly, that if I set this building on fire with the woman in it, it would be murder. “This has to be off,” I said firmly. “I think I need at least a smaller size in the blouse and the dress…”

      “No!” the woman snaps. “You are a Christian student, and not an object of sin and vice. If you try to dress as one, you will not be a suitable student for the school.”

      I looked at the woman, and just kept working through all the conjugations of verbs in Japanese to keep myself from saying anything. “Ma’am,” I said, very calmly. “Thank you for your time.”

      I go back into the dressing area, change, put everything back neatly on their hangers, and come back out. “Mom,” I say, “can we go now?”

      “Do you let your daughter make these kinds of decisions,” the woman snapped instantly after I asked. “She cannot be allowed to act as a Jezebel.”

      Mother looked at her and said, “Ma’am, my daughter is very important to me. And, as I care about her very much, I will not let you insult her. We are leaving. Now.”

      Mother walks to the door, and rattles it. “Open this door, please.”

      The old woman grunts, “You are allowing your daughter to fall into the sin of the Pharisees,” and does not move.

      “Ma’am,” Mother says with exaggerated calm. “If you do not open this door in thirty seconds, my husband’s security officer will blow a hole in that wall,” and she points to one of the walls facing an alley, “and we will leave that way. Your choice.”

  8. Bredon felt too weak to move a finger, but not at all sleepy. He glanced at Fritha.
    “I suppose your timing was because there was no chance earlier?”
    Fritha giggled. “You would not believe the complaints we’ve already heard, about how we waited for the last moment.”
    “Would,” said Bredon.

  9. “Don’t you see?” whispered Florio. “This way, we have a chance.”
    Rosine blinked.
    “Yes, she will hate us forever, but the royal governor can give some powerful protections to those who serve him well.”
    Rosine did not want to argue, but she thought that the governor was just as dangerous.

  10. When Rick Wilson saw the girl walking over to him, he knew instantly that something was up. He knew he wasn’t an ugly man, and he’d been told he was an approachable fellow. But a girl with raven’s-wing hair, a body like that, and a four-of-a-kind ace aura? No chance.

  11. Donald Stephens

    “We’d be chancing the farm, Lar’, if you pull this cart far enough.”

    “I know, Kella, and that’s a hard thing even to think. Eight generations this has been our freehold, and we’ve older bones. To lose it to a moneylender -”

    Larum set his face and shoulders, composing himself. Kella waited, knowing more would be said.

    “But there’s this. I think of your uncle each time I’m on that road. I know it seems I’m pushing you, speaking of him, but think it I do. Only one wagon any of us can take to town, and two days it needs. We can’t even lay in the extra cabbages you thought of, for it’s too slow to get them down. The way it’s always been.”

    “The way it always will be, I thought. Until yesterday, and that boatman. If we could – all of us – if we could make this canal thing work, the boats would come up here, and we would never have to send our wagons down the cliff-road again.”

    “It will will take money, Lar’, lots of it.”

    “Aye. It will take silver just to write to this engineer” – he stumbled over the strange word – “Galdri Barumh, his name is, just to find out how much his book costs, and more to buy it, before we know if we can do this, even.”

    “We cannot decide this tonight, husband. There is much to think and speak of.”

    “That is true, my wife. It was my duty to speak it, though.”

  12. Lieutenant Willingham calculated the odds of a hit at about one in five hundred, but the odds of surviving a miss were precisely zero. “Greer,” she called, “do we have a lock?”

    “As close as we’re going to get. Missile’s loaded, set, and ready!”

    A deep breath. “Fire!” she yelled.

  13. Jane Meyerhofer

    The peeler slipped and my finger started bleeding over the potatoes. “The price for dreaming of Brien,” I told myself. “An unlucky chance but he’s worth it. Once.” I smiled to myself but concentrated on peeling carefully after I had bandaged the three parallel lines that oozed red. Just as well because when the idea hit I would have cut myself to bits if I hadn’t been taking care.

    The mysterious fingerprint had had those same lines on it. The arches and whorls were too difficult to see and no one had anything to compare them with. But those lines, so mysterious, were suddenly clear. And I had seen the fingers that had also been peeling vegetables with a super sharp instrument. That had also cut themselves. I had given my extra peeler to Cody but she had passed it on.

  14. analytical-engine-mechanic

    “But there is so much chaos loose in the world, My Lady,” she said. “So much disruptive chaos and unwelcome change.” And looked again out over the sea, at the low waves breaking at her feet. Still not quite all here in this world, with me, despite feeling the mist on her face and the wind in her hair. Still probably too used to seeing the world around her, like so many of her contemporaries, mostly through the narrow window of a palm-sized piece of glass, made strong enough to keep her and the world behind it quite unbreakably apart.

    But she was learning. Barely more than two dozen summers in “the world” as she’d known it, less than half a dozen moons in the world she walked in now, still she was learning well to see, with the stronger eye, this wider world.

    As so many had before her, right back to the days of the Great Ice. Loath as so many would be to admit it now, so much of what it means “to be human” was born between fire and ice: between the ice that came and the fire they made.

    I couldn’t help but smile. “But that has always been the way of the world, dearest daughter.” (And so she was… for all my many daughters and sons are and must be equally dear.) “They still say change is the only constant, yet there is often little constant about that, too. Even the warmth of the sun ebbs and flows in its brightness; not only as the seasons turn, or the Earth circles nearer or farther, but as the sun itself waxes and wanes as it will.”

    And I remembered Greenland, and the warm springtime years of plenty and mirth, and the long, cold, hungry years that had followed, fall turning to chill dead wolf-winter for them all.
    And yet for their own part, the Inuit did well enough there, and still do.

    It’s all in how deeply you see, and how deftly you walk.

    She looked up at the cloudy-day sky, slow-shifting brightnesses behind murk, hiding always perfectly the bare rock beyond. (For this was not Midgard or any part of the MIddle World, far less her physical “the world” she’d known; here it was the deep Lowerworld, what a Breton Frenchman had once glimpsed in a dream and later half-fancifully called the Lindenbrock Sea.) “I’ve been learning about that, and the orbit cycles, and how climate change has been there just about as long as there’s been climate to change.” And looked down, again, at the shore of sand and gravel, tossed in the waves ever-breaking at her feet.

    “But it all still bothers me, and I don’t know how not to let it. So much seems to be nothing but the most chaotic happenstance, the most random chance.”

    “There is such a thing as ‘mere’ chance, of course, there has to be,” I said. Now we were down to the reason she’d come here to talk. “There are ripples of one thing affecting another, trivially, haphazardly, without context or connection.

    “But those are the surface, and beneath them is always the deeper meaning, the stronger connection, the surer foundation, even the inescapable depths. The meaning, the depths of orlog, of Fate itself, is always there. You can lose sight of it, sure enough, but you can never lose it, and it will never lose you.”

    We were speaking the right language for all this, her Islenzka, the nearest of all living tongues to the old Norse of the ancestors. But still I hunted the words.

    “Yes, there are waves of chance. Sometimes calm ripples, sometimes harsh stormy waves, sometimes another kind yet. And still the water lies beneath them all, like always, and the waves are in the end nothing but more water.

    “And the water all those waves of chance move in is always the Fateful water of the Well of Wyrd.”

    I smiled a self-mocking smile. “But I won’t keep going in that vein lest I go all Buddhist on you, neither will I quote that bit of Egil’s saga everyone does.”

    But behind my smile was certainty, harder than the diamonds this world casts in its depths and then casts up for its people to find and enjoy. Inexorable as the dawn or the turning of the world that lies behind it. Or all the long ages that have been.

    I should know, for the name of this Earth is only a small variation on my own.

  15. James MacKenzie

    Some people believe in luck, where I see Fate. Glancing through the new client’s file, I felt her touch. Of all the former gangbangers in the city, somehow I drew the one who had killed my best friend?

    I smiled benevolently. “Jorge, I can help you find just what you need.”

  16. “Hey, Liz, my uncle just gave me a bunch of his old music CDs he thought I might enjoy. You interested in some?”

    “Like how old? And who?”

    “It’s weird groups like Tangerine Dream, Mike Oldfield, Anonymous4, Iron Butterfly, stuff like that. ”

    “Sure, why not? I’ll take the chants.”

    ****
    50 😉

  17. Christopher M. Chupik

    “That’s not the strangest thing about the Artifact, though.”

    “What is?”

    Dr. Jensen touched the alien dodecahedron on three sides. Suddenly, it turned green and Lisa heard a half-familiar 20th century pop song playing.

    “Honey I’m still free/take a chance on me . . .”

    “That is.”

  18. I actually have a plot bunny that fits this prompt, but it’s waaaaaaay too involved to even be close to a vignette. Can I share it anyways?

    • Glances at some of the novella-length contributions this page …

      Why not? Such excess doesn’t seem to deter many others. The vignette length of fifty words is intended, I suspect, more as a target for those interested in the exercise than a hard limit.

      But be aware that a) fair warning of length is appropriate and b) some readers may eschew your contribution as overly long for the reading time they are willing to spend. At worst you might be ignored by most but few will criticize on grounds of length … although some will possibly offer constructive advice and a few may well cede praise.

    • Fluffy is looking interested, so I advise you to.

      After all, we all call a big scaly dragon Fluffy because that’s what he wants. (Also because he does BBQ.)

    • NOTE THE FIRST: This is gonna be long. Consider yourself advised of this fact.

      NOTE THE SECOND: This is NOT a Miami Vice fanfic. However, the protagonist does share his surname (coincidence) his love of a particular make of Italian sports car (coincidental, at first) and nickname (not at all coincidental: he insists on being called Sonny) with Don Johnson’s character from said show. So with that said…

      “Mister Crockett, my people tell me that you have a taste for fast, expensive cars. Ferraris, specifically.”

      “Yeah, so what?” Crockett replied, not moving his hand from the butt of his holstered automatic. Charles Robert Arthur Lockwood IV slowly reached into his pocket, withdrew a key fob, and held it up for Crockett, letting it dangle on its little chain.

      “Do you know what this is?” the banker asked.

      “Looks like a key fob for a new Ferrari,” Crockett replied.

      “Indeed. Specifically…” Lockwood snapped the fingers of his free hand. The two attendants standing beside the enclosed auto transport trailer parked on the street in front of Crockett’s house immediately lowered the trailer’s ramp and stepped inside. Seconds later, the unmistakable roar of a twin-turbocharged V8 engine came echoing out of the trailer, and the technicians carefully backed the car out onto the street.

      “…that Ferrari,” Lockwood continued.

      “That’s an F8 Tributo,” Crockett noticed.

      “That’s correct,” Lockwood said with a smile. Crockett thought his grin looked like it belonged on a hyena that was trying to sweet talk a gazelle into going out for dinner. “It’s brand-new. Only ninety-one miles on the odometer. I bought it and had it shipped down here. And it’s all yours.”

      “Awfully generous of you. What’s the catch?”

      “I think you know what ‘the catch,’ as you so crudely put it, is: you give me what’s mine.”

      “I think you’d better clarify that last bit. ‘Cause I’ll bet your idea of me giving you what’s yours is [i]very[/i] different than mine.”

      “I want Celeste Nicolosi. And I know she is inside your house as we speak.”

      “Yeah, no chance in hell,.”

      “What?!”

      “You heard me.”

      “Mister Crockett–”

      “Charlie, it wouldn’t matter if you offered to give me every single Ferrari ever made, ever. My answer would still be the same. Pound. Sand. Asshole.”

      The predatory grin slipped for a split second as Lockwood’s rage begain to boil over.

      “Come now, Mister Crockett. Be reasonable.”

      “Oh I think I’m being more than reasonable,” Crockett replied. “You show up on my doorstep, announce your intention to kidnap and rape a woman you’ve been actively stalking for over a year, and try to buy my cooperation with a f***king sports car. Far as I’m concerned, ‘reasonable’ would have been gut-shooting your on side, dragging you over to my neighbor’s farm, and feeding your to his hogs.”

      “Crockett,” Lockwood snarled, “I am warning you…”

      “Pigs are nature’s garbage disposal,” Crockett continued, deliberately pretending to ignore Lockwood. “They’ll eat [i]anything[/i]. Flesh, bone, hair, you name it. Hell, they wouldn’t care that you were still alive when I tossed you in the pen!”

      Lockwood’s smile slipped again, this time because he realized that Crockett might actually be serious: he’d passed a field full of pigs on the drive in.

      “Look here, Crockett.”

      “No, you look here, Charlie.”

      “My name is Charles!” Lockwood screeched like a petulant schoolboy. “Charles Robert Arthur Lockwood the Fourth! And you will address me such!”

      “I’ll call you ‘Dick Breath’ if I feel like it,” Crockett retorted. “Now get the hell off my property, and stay the hell away from Celeste.” The ‘I will hunt your down to the ends of the earth and then feet you your own heart if you so much as get within a mile of her,’ went unsaid, but both men understood the implication loud and clear.

      Lockwood glared at Crockett, his rage now boiling and white-hot. Crockett coolly glared right back at him, silently daring the banker to give him an excuse to kill him. After a moment that stretched almost to eternity, Lockwood abruptly spun on his heel and stalked back to his waiting Rolls Royce.

      “This isn’t over, Crockett!” he screamed over he shoulder.

      “For your sake, it had better me!” Crockett shouted back.

  19. “And there’s the pitch by Bentfang.”
    “Gorebash swings and hits a bounding grounder.”
    “Bighands Smallhead chances the “ball”, catches it, tags the runner out at second, throws to first where Dragknuckles tags Gorebash out for a double play! The Orkin Orcs win the series! And the crowd is going wild!”

  20. “After my election I have more flexibility,” said Donald

    “Hah!” snorted Dmitry. “Hillary has electorate in hand bag. Your election? What is chance of that?”

    Twenty-five words. Twenty-seven, including those. Okay, thirty … uhmmmmm

  21. Why me?

    I used to ask myself the same question and nearly in the same crying, whining, complaining tone of voice as yours when you cry “Why you?” and pretend you’ve some claim to power.

    Why me? Because I’d stubbed my toe on the box, slipped on the ice, and landed on my ass? Because I picked it up and with it the fate of the world? How did that make you my responsibility? Why was I forced to pay for you, to atone for you?

    You, mighty and righteous demand to know who died and made me God.

    I’ll answer you, that.

    I did.

    And now you must simply become accustomed to being left ruthlessly alone.

  22. Tara leaned forward, interest piqued. “So the development of telepathy genemods in this world started with Ed Mitchell’s experiments on Apollo XIV?”

    “Not exactly.” Juss considered how best to explain the convoluted politics of Cold War biotechnology. “Ed Mitchell’s own results were hardly better than chance, but he wanted to believe that difference was statistically significant. So when he left NASA, he created the Institute to study psychic phenomena, and ended up gathering a lot of enthusiasts who weren’t that careful about separating wishful thinking from actual results. But Appleton considered them a useful maskirovka to hide their actual work with psi genes, and sent their best genemod clones to the Institute retreat house for training even as they paid debunkers to take down the claims of the most prominent psychics and make the whole concept of telepathy look ridiculous.”

  23. “Chance.”
    “Brenda.”
    The silence continued long enough to become awkward. The things screamed into their phones last night still echoed between them. Neither had expected to see the other today, at the Stop-N-Go of all places. “Chance, I…”
    “It’s okay. I know you didn’t mean it.”
    “Actually…I did. Every word.”