Wrong Place, Wrong Time
“Shitake mushrooms! I’m cutting it close again.”, thought Charlotte, shrieking into the parking lot. She tried her best to get there for 8:20, but never quite got there until 8:27. She and her supervisor both began work at 8:30. He usually came in 5 minutes after she arrived, but she didn’t want to stroll into the office 2 minutes later than the person who evaluated her.
Once inside, Charlotte sprinted for the restroom. She burst through the door, throwing herself into a stall, narrowly avoiding wetting herself. After she finished, Charlotte stepped toward the sink, then froze; Jeremy from Tech Services and some guy from Accounting were staring directly at her. She scanned the room: stalls, sinks …urinals??? “Dear Heaven, it’s the Men’s Room!” she realized, embarrassment setting in. “How do I get out of here?”
Choosing the “I did this on purpose” route, she pulled her gold compact out of her purse, holding it to make it look like a badge. “Health Inspector. Bathroom Division. There’s adequate toilet paper in the stalls, but I need to check the soap dispensers.” Walking toward the sinks, she pretended to inspect the urinals. “What’s that round thing in the urinal – Jeremy?” “Its air freshener.,” quipped Jeremy. “Shouldn’t you know that, ‘Bathroom Inspector’?” “ I just got the position. It’s like a ‘Secret Shopper’ thing., “ explained Charlotte, washing her hands while avoiding eye contact.
Jeremy stared at Charlotte as if she had grown antlers. “Did you drink the 32oz. black coffee? What’s wrong with …hold it. You ran into the wrong bathroom, didn’t you?,” he laughed. “Damn. Just say ‘excuse me.’” Charlotte turned dark crimson as she tried to reply. “It was not…I wasn’t…This goes on my report! There is gray film in this sink. There could be mold we can’t even see!” “Riiight.,” said Jeremy. “The Ladies Room is totally germ free.” “Its fancier.,” said Accounting Guy suddenly, causing Charlotte and Jeremy to whip their heads around. “My mom took me to the Ladies’ Room with her when I was 4.”, he said, suddenly bashful. “ Before the toilets, there was a room with a couch, a mirror, a coffee table with flowers. It was like a little living room.” “O.K., Vance. That was educational. Let Charlotte finish inspection.,” snorted Jeremy as they left.
Charlotte relaxed for ½ second before hearing a stall door click. Her supervisor, Mr. Bancroft, appeared, expression unreadable. “Ms. Cantrell, It is now 8:38. This makes you late for work.” She inhaled sharply, wondering if she would get a bad evaluation or a dock in pay. “I disapprove of your tardiness, but approve of your creativity in handling the situation. If you get to your desk in 5 minutes, you can avoid being marked tardy. Pretend this episode never happened.” Charlotte whispered a thank you and briskly stepped to her desk in 3 minutes.”I’m setting the alarm half an hour earlier,” she vowed, slumping into her chair with relief.
The GOLDEN SHOVEL POEM was invented by Terrance Hayes.
Here are the rules for the Golden Shovel:
- Take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire.
- Use each word in the line (or lines) as an end word in your poem.
- Keep the end words in order.
Two Golden Shovel Poemsby Christopher Maher
He took the covered pistol and
When brothers slept, all freshly drunk,
Shot jealous rounds into the
Heads of charismatic men who'd milk
The closely guarded fortune of
A lonely man in Paradise.
What nights I'm robbed of sleep! Oh!
To grapple with such restless ghosts as I
See nightly, no man should be so burdened. For I have
Forfeited my youth to love affairs and slipped
Under the curse of age I'd fled, while the
Lofty hope that life, so formless, surly,
And short, would fold beneath the steely bonds
Of love collapsed as fortress-castles wrought of
Stone one day must crumble down to lifeless Earth.
Zhongs (a six word micro-story)
by Christopher Maher
As I struggled to get a sense of where I was, I heard a voice like sandpaper. “Kid! Kid! Wake up!” I looked to my left and saw a dwarf standing over me with a bucket of water. “Good. You’re awake. You okay, kid?”
“I’m not sure. Oh, thanks for waking me up, I think. What happened?”
“The boss showed you his new prop for the act. You passed out on the spot, so I guess
you’re not crazy about the idea.”
I looked straight ahead about 50 feet and saw the largest cannon I had ever seen pointing toward the roof of the tent. It was painted a patriotic red, white, and blue with the words “Capucelli Circus” emblazoned on side. The dwarf helped me up and led me out of the tent. He had a friendly, if craggy looking, face, so I took a chance that he might be willing to help me figure out what was going on.
“Shmuey. I do not work at a circus. My name is Lynn Gazetic. I am a happily married,
part -time accountant, full-time mother of 2 girls under the age of 5. The most exciting
part of my accounting job is when I get to change the ink cartridge in the printer.
Motherhood has a little more excitement, especially with my oldest, but still not the
level of being shot out of that thing!”
“Boy, you must’ve really got hit hard. C’mon, we’re going to see the doc.”
I was led to a first aid trailer, where I was given a brief exam and x-ray. The doctor found no concussion, but gave instructions to stay off my feet for the rest of the day. He also said my memory loss should go away by the next day, which was nice, except I didn’t have memory loss. I had a perfectly fine memory of where I should be, which was at home with my family, not in a clown outfit about to be shot out of a cannon. I started to explain this once again to Shmuey, when the stomping of boots and a booming voice came from the next room “How is she? When can she rehearse?” Shmuey leaned over and informed me of our situation in an excited whisper. “Ok,” Lynn Gazetic.” You may be an accountant with 2 kids, but Cosimo Capucelli, owner and ringmaster of this circus is about to walk in here. He is a very demanding man who expects things to go a certain way. So for now, you’re going to fake your way through being one half of the team of Sunshine and Shmuey, an acrobatic clown act. Here he comes! Follow my lead!”
Capucelli, the most intimidating ringmaster I ever saw, strode into the room with purpose. “How’s my favorite acrobatic clowns?” “We’re your only acrobatic clowns.,” Shmuey muttered under his breath. Capucelli pumped my hand up and down in greeting. “Sunshine! Glad to see you back up and alert! I know the cannon must seem daunting, but it’s the best way to up the stakes in your act. The crowd goes insane for Sunshine and Shmuey’s death defying flips through the flaming hoop. Stakes need to keep rising or the interest fades.” Please tell me this man isn’t going to make me jump through a flaming hoop right now, I silently begged Shmuey. “Don’t worry, Boss.,” Shmuey piped up. “She just needs a little rest, and she’ll be ready to try that cannon bright and early tomorrow morning, right?” “Uh huh.,” I responded, trying to project enthusiasm I didn’t feel at all.
I spent a restless night trying not to picture myself being shot through the air at 100 miles per hour. The next morning, Shmuey gave me a crash course in the basics of circus cannons as we made our way to the big top.
“Cartoons always show a fuse being lit before a cannon goes off. We have one, but it’s just
for show. It’s a rope with a sparkler at the end.”
“Nah. We just use compressed air and a few bungee cords. You’re going to open the hatch and
squeeze yourself into the sled. Once I close the hatch, make sure you’re in there tight, because
3,000 pounds of weight is gonna come shoot you into the next galaxy. The sled stops at the
mouth of the cannon, you don’t.”
I tightened my helmet and prayed that I would be able to survive the blast off. “Don’t worry.,” Shmuey laughed with a rasp. “There’s a lot in your favor. The wind speed is good, there’s no obstacles like guy lines or tree branches. Best of all, you’re a lightweight. Easier to accelerate and deaccelerate.”
“About the deacceleration. What am I deaccelerating into? Am I deaccelerating into something?”
“There’s a 50 by 25 feet, 25 foot thick airbag at the end of the field. Should be plenty of padding. C’mon! Let’s show the boss a trial run!”
Capucelli watched as I climbed into the cannon. Shmuey whispered one last “Break a leg, Kid.,”
then shut the hatch door. I felt the chamber begin to shake as I counted backwards from ten. 7…6…5…4…3…2…1… There was an earsplitting explosion as I felt myself thrust upward at what must have been 1000 miles per hour. As I hurled toward what I hoped was the airbag, I yelled out what sounded like “AAAAARGAGAHELPMELORD!” I started my downward plummet when….
I gasped for air and shot straight up in my bed to hear the sound of my Maria, my 18 month old, half sobbing, half shrieking.
Oz, my husband, sat up and rubbed my back. “Hey. That must’ve been some nightmare. You’re shaking.” He nodded toward the baby’s room. “Want me to get her?” “That’s ok. I’ll take care of it.” Maria greeted me with a soft “Mamamamama.,” “It’s ok, sweetheart. Daddy is taking you and me and Carrie to the circus tomorrow, and we’re going to see elephants, and acrobats, and funny clowns, and have so much fun.” Helping her calm down helped to calm me down as my shaking finally started to decrease.
Oz had arranged to meet a special friend at the circus’ pre-show meet and greet the next day. We walked past elephants, jugglers, and face painters as we tried to locate Samuel, an old friend of Oz’s side of the family that I’d heard about but had never met “Do you really have an uncle in the circus, Daddy?,” asked Carrie, my very excited 4 year old. “Sort of. He’s not my real uncle, but he’s a very good friend who helped Grandma and Grandpa when they moved to this country from Croatia. He’s known me since I was tinier than Maria.” I was about to ask who we should be looking for when we heard a hoarse “Hey! Oz! Oz! Ozvald! Over here!” I saw Oz bend over to hug what I thought was I child when I heard him say “Uncle Shmuey! You look great!” No. It couldn’t be. I pinched my arm – I was awake. The circus is Ringling Bros., not Capucelli. No cannon in sight, so that was a relief. It couldn’t be him. As Oz moved aside so he could introduce the girls, I saw a familiar, friendly, craggy face. “Uncle Shmuey, these are my girls, Carrie and Maria, and my wife, Lynn. Ladies, this is circus performer extraordinaire Samuel Drake. Otherwise known as Uncle Shmuey. “It was my dream. It’s a first meeting. We’ve never met. Weird conincidence.,” I said to myself as I smiled and held out my hand. “It’s nice to finally meet you Uncle Shmuey.” In return, I received a slow smile. “Nice to meet you too, Sunshine.”
Self realization – your character thinks he is good at something, but he isn’t. Something happens that makes your character realize this. What? What does your character do about it? Write the story.
“Bring them in now,” he barked. “I’m taking off early today and I need to be done here right after lunch.”
Gina strode into his office. She was dressed casually but somewhat conservative. Richard didn’t get too picky about dress code, since the office was typically only populated by him and Gina. And Gina had worked with him for so long, they had a familiar rapport. Not always friendly, but definitely familiar. She was the only person who could call him “R.M.”, his first two initials, and get away with it.
Gina grabbed the checks. “R.M., he did tell you about this. You’re just forgetting.”
by Andrea Heingarten
By Lisa Herrington
Greer travels extensively as he covers the southern territory for his boss. He only sees his co-workers, from the North, East, and West Regions whenever he’s summoned to corporate and therefore on his own for long stretches of time.
The next appointment is at a retirement community that he’s frequented five times already. “Tough month.”
As he nears the townhouse door he sees a little girl pointing at him, “L-L-Look Mommy.”
“Good! So you’ve finished the samples?”
Babette looked puzzled for a moment and then turned around.
“Are you trying that dating site again? Didn’t work out so hot last time, did it?” Her roommate looked over her shoulder at the screen. “Ooo! That one looks like a hunk, though. You gonna reply to him?”
These submissions were from the September 12th BWC meeting. Enjoy!
I Hate Shots
D.M. LaVoy 6 Sep13
The doctor pulled the stethoscope out of his ears and said, “OK, Mr. Smith, everything sounds good up there. Let’s lie back on the table and I’ll palpate your abdomen, check your liver, spleen, things like that. That’s it. Let’s just hike up your shirt here… Whoa! That’s some scar you have there. Appendix?”
“Uhhh… Yeah. I was about three, I think. Guy must’ve been a real butcher.”
“I’ll say! Well, let’s go ahead and check you now… I have to say, an abdominal palpation is so much easier on someone with so little body fat like you. What is it you do anyway?”
Smith grunted as the doc probed his spleen with stiff fingers. God he hated doctors. “Ungh…used to be military.”
“Ah, that explains it then. And the other scars too I guess? ….. OK. All set. You’re in great shape! One final thing. You need a flu shot.”
“Oh, I really think you should. This year’s strain is extremely virulent. You really need a flu shot.”
“I hate shots. I mean, I really hate shots.”
“Oh, come, come Mr. Smith. It’s just a quick prick on the arm. Why wouldn’t you want to protect yourself?”
I stared at the doctor for a couple beats, then said, “You’re not going to believe this, but I was part of a secret bio warfare experiment. I had a lot of shots, I mean hundreds of shots. And something went wrong, really wrong. Instead of fighting off the bugs, my body just made them stronger. Oh, they wouldn’t hurt me, but if somebody else caught that superbug, they were goners. You’re using a live vaccine, right? Yeah, well, you see, if you inject me with it, you could have a super-flu epidemic on your hands.”
His expression registered skepticism. Close-cropped greying hair over a round face, watery blue eyes amused behind steel-rimmed glasses, and one corner of his mouth ticked up in a slight smirk: “Well, that’s a new one, but…”
“But the worst part is that, if they find out– and believe me, they will find out–they will be forced to… shall we say ‘suppress’ any linkage back to them. Any linkage. And that is why I cannot get a flu shot today.”
Smith held him in an unblinking gaze. The moment stretched out uncomfortably. The doctor’s smile slowly melted into a thoughtful pout, while the gray eyes slowly went from a bemused crinkle to a slight frown. He blinked, once, then again twice more before he cleared his throat and looked to his clipboard. He stood and walked stiffly to the door. “Well, then. I guess we’re all done. See the nurse at the desk on your way out. Good bye, Mr… ahh… Smith.”
Works every time. I really hate shots.
I arrive at the parish library to pick up my passenger and quickly swallow my beer. A young girl about thirteen jumps into the back of my taxi and says, "You see that Mexican restaurant across the street? In about five minutes, a man is going to come out of there, and I want you to follow him."
D.M. LaVoy 6 Sep13
“But, Gran, I can’t do that.”
“Of course you can, Amy Dear. There’ll be plenty of other young women there. Nobody’ll notice.”
“Yes, but they’re mostly there helping their moms or grandmoms, not playing.”
“Some play too. They do! I just want you to get as close to her as you can to watch how she’s doing it.”
“How do you know Miss Edna’s cheating at all, Gran? Maybe she’s just plain lucky at bingo.”
“Oh, she’s cheating alright! I know it in my bones! And she’s not going to get away with it no more! I’ve tried to catch her at it, but you can’t stare at someone very long without getting obvious about it. I want you there because your young eyes may be able to see something I missed.”
“But where will you be?”
Gran leaned in conspiratorially and looked sly. “I’m gonna be outside the window with your Gran’pa’s old binoculars watching that biddy like a hawk.”
“Oh, all right, but I don’t feel right about this. And the VHF hall is a double wide set upon piers. How are you goin’ to get high enough to see in the window?”
“Oh... Well…. Well I’ll just use a stepladder. Yes, I’ll use a stepladder.”
Bingo night. The hall held about 25 comfortably plump women, mostly older, each with multiple bingo cards spread out on the tables in front of them, each with an ink stamp ready to mark the number being called by old Mr. Middendorf, the VFW Treasurer, sitting at the front of the room.
Amy had taken a seat one row behind and two seats over from Miss Edna, who had, indeed, won two of the first five rounds, but so far, Amy hadn’t seen any signs of her cheating. Amy checked the windows nervously. She hadn’t seen any sign of her grandmother yet, and she hoped Gran was smart enough to stay back from the room
light streaming out into the dark. Amy was getting nervous.
Suddenly, she saw the ghostly top of a step ladder appear outside one of the windows,
followed by a wobbly grey head. Gran raised the binoculars to her eyes and peered into the room. Amy stiffened and looked around the room furtively. No one had noticed yet.
She rose from her seat. She had to get outside to get Gran out of there.
Outside, Gran was realizing that one of the ladder’s legs wasn’t firmly planted. At that moment, Charley Ferguson came around the corner. Now, Charley was Edna’s
husband, and you might ask what he was doing sneaking around the back of the VFW hall that time of night, but we’ll never know because he saw a shadowy figure on a stepladder where it shouldn’t have been and yelled out,“Hey! What d’ya think you’re doin’!”
It is never a good idea to startle an old lady on top of a wobbly step ladder. Gran dropped the binoculars like a kid caught reading a racy magazine, reached out to steady herself, and what she grabbed as she went down was the shutoff lever for the main electrical panel.
Inside, all went silent dark for a few heartbeats. Heart rates increased. Mr. Middendorf called out, “Don’t panic!”, but the uncertain waver in his voice was like a match lighting a slow fuse in a fireworks factory. There was a murmur or two, the sound of a folding chair being scraped back over the linoleum floor, then the metallic clatter of another being overturned, then a muttered, “I’m getting out a’here”, then three thousand five hundred and twenty seven pounds of panicked humanity was rushing for the exit, scattering tables and bingo cards, all trying to squeeze through the single door at one time.
Through the grunts and screams a voice rang out, “The back door!” and half the thrashing mass detached itself and headed in the opposite direction, crashing through what remained standing of the furniture.
For some reason, Charley Ferguson never mentioned the mysterious figure on the ladder. In the confusion, Gran got away without anyone figuring out she had been there at all. But neither she nor Edna Ferguson every played bingo again.
She barely had breath left to speak. Her chest heaved in and out heavy with the adrenaline running through her body. She tried to choke out the words, “I think he’s a terrorist.”
I Hate Shots