Hugo Duchamp lowered his foot onto the first step and realised he could go no further. Though he deplored the use of the word ‘literally’ he felt for the first time in his life it was quite appropriate. He was literally frozen to the spot. From behind him he heard an irritated ‘tut’, and then another. Still, despite his own silent cursing and chastising himself, he was unable to move his feet in a forward motion and despite his best intentions, he was, at that point, not very hopeful of being able to step forward anytime soon. Yes, he appeared to be literally stuck. He inhaled deeply, the intoxicating smells caused him to start, the air mixed with hundreds of different scents flowed around his body, filling his lungs and causing him to hold his breath.
‘Excusez-moi monsieur, je suis pressé’ came the first voice behind him. He glanced over his shoulder at a middle age grand-dame. Her lips were pinched tight and her eyes had narrowed into two pins encased in a harsh kohl outline. He opened his mouth poised to offer some response, but as it appeared that his day was now to be a combination of disappointment in himself and blind panic not even a low groan escaped his dry throat. How could he explain it to the coiffured lady when he could not explain it to himself. An English man behind her had the bright idea of nudging her with his shoulder hoping for a domino effect that would surely push Hugo onto the platform. The grand-dame spun on her heels and fixed
“This is so exciting,” Nora exclaimed, as she pulled her jacket coat tight around herself. “A real Viking Festival!”
“I’d say it’s a pretty major deal,” Tina Scott said. “The committee has been trying to make it happen three years in a row, but something always came up.”
Nora had set up her stall early that morning, by the Crystal Lake’s meadow, where the fair was scheduled. She’d worked hard the week before, making sausages and kebabs from fresh ground meat and spices, preparing the batter for her crepes, and learning to make authentic Lefse–traditional soft Norwegian flatbread made with leftover potatoes, flour, butter, and cream.
Now, her stall was among the first ones up, a festive purple, with silver ribbons spiraling up its poles, and a large placard displaying photos of the goods.
“Mmm,” Tina took a deep sniff and smacked her lips appreciatively. “I tell you, Nora, you can chuck my paycheck and just start paying me in food. These Kebabs smell divine. It’s like my nose has found a new reason to live. I’m trying to tear myself away from it all, and I just get drawn to it.”
Nora laughed. Tina’s words made her think of old-timey cartoons, the black and white kind, where a character wandering around the street would suddenly inhale a fluffy white cloud, and then get pulled by his nose to drool over the display of a bakery or restaurant.
“You’ve been a great help, Tina. I would never have been able to set up the stall without you. I might not even have participated if you hadn’t pushed me to,” Nora smiled up appreciatively at her new friend.
“Oh. It was the least I could do. To be honest, I felt genuinely bad about the way some of us treated you when… when the whole Raquel thing happened.”
Joe B Parr
The gun in his hand was still warm, his feet stood in a pool of blood that had expanded outward from under the body. His face reflected in its smooth surface, distorted, almost unrecognizable.
His nose filled with the copper scent. The room swirled and shadows danced as his mind consumed the scene around him. His pulse pounded in his ears as he looked down at the man he hated, the vacant eyes, the open mouth, the gaping wound in the middle of the chest.
For a moment, he was calm as he thought about the carnage this man had inflicted.
You got what you deserved, bastard.
The satisfied smile evaporated as the sound of sirens growing louder jerked his head up. He froze in place and stared at the inside of the front door willing the sound to fade. Tires breaking hard on the pavement dashed those hopes. His heart rate jumped and his chest tightened. As if some revelation was hidden just out of sight, he looked frantically around the room. He found none, only metal shelves crowded with industrial parts, boxes and junk.
Car doors slammed, footsteps and voices filled the air outside. He saw shadows stretch across the dust covered blinds.
What do I do? They won’t understand. I have to get out!
He breathed so hard that when he looked at the gun in his hand, his eyes could barely focus. On autopilot, his hand shoved it in the pocket of his hoodie. He turned and ran for the back door. Barely able to control his movements, his muscles twitched as he stumbled over a step and banged into a shelf. Junk flew in all directions and metal crashed to the ground, tripping him down the short hall.
“It’s here!” Maddy squealed, jumping up and down.
In her hands, she was clutching a large brown package stamped with signs from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. “This is it, Nay-Nay! We’re really doing this!”
Nora gave a squeal of delight–the kind of squeal a girl only makes with her best friend. The kind of squeal you give when the dream you’ve been working at steadily for ten years is finally coming real. She grabbed her best friend and danced around with her, the two of them laughing and talking in short, frequently interrupted sentences.
Raquel Madden, dressed in a baggy red sweater with dark navy tights, her hair pulled up in a messy bun, still managed to look every bit the rockstar that she secretly thought she’d one day become. She finally dropped the package on the carpet and sat down in a yoga pose. Nora, dressed casually in a boat necked t-shirt and jeans, dropped down beside her.
“Ready?” Raquel asked. She rubbed her hands together. “Ready for the beginning of the rest of our lives?”
“You sound like you’re proposing to me, you know,” Nora laughed.
“Marriages aren’t always forever,” Raquel laughed, “This will be.”
“Let’s give it a few years first,” Nora said, but there was a huge smile plastered on her face. At this moment, she felt invincible. How could she not? It was finally all coming together–the bank loans, the delays, the messy construction work, the necessary permits–she and Raquel had climbed over every hurdle together.
Mark James Miller
Looking back after so many years, I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner than it did. Tom always was a guy full of big ideas.
He’d had big ideas before, but never one that would cause so much trouble.
It came upon him out of nowhere, striking suddenly, the way a chubasco strikes in the Sea of Cortez: He stopped, clapped his hands together, and turned so he stood facing me.
“You know what I’m going to do?” he cried. “I’m going to climb to the top of that smokestack!”
“You don’t mean the smokestack on top of the old power plant, do you?” I asked.
“That’s the one,” he affirmed, grinning excitedly and wagging“That’s the one,” he affirmed, grinning excitedly and wagging his big head back and forth. “I’m going to climb all the way to the top and shout so loud they’ll be able to hear me over in Hawaii!”
“You’re crazy,” I said, giving him my-you-can’t-really-mean-that-look, the one I reserved for moments when he came up with his most outlandish ideas. “I always knew it. Now I’ve got proof.”
Mel RJ Smith
Chapter 1 – Sunday 23rd September, 8.00 am
“I say, I’m so awfully sorry,” a female voice said.
Gerry tried to focus on the voice but his vision was blurred as he lay there, stunned.
“Daddy’s going to be so angry with me,” the voice said.
As Gerry lifted himself onto one elbow, the image behind the voice became gradually clearer. In her mid to late twenties, she was an attractive young lady with serene blue eyes, soft skin and brunette curls that fell beneath her cloche hat. That’s the next thing Gerry noticed – her attire. The pale green frock, stocking legs and golf shoes gave her not only an elegant, classy look but also reminded Gerry of a 1920s flapper.
She looked down at him, lying helpless on the damp, late September grass.
“I – I didn’t see you,” she said. “You seemed to appear from nowhere. I did shout but it was too late.”
Gerry winced as he probed the bump that was forming, a reminder of where her ball had hit.
“It’s fine,” he said. “Can you help me up?” He extended his arm towards her.
“Oh, of course. I’m so sorry, how rude of me,” she replied, helping Gerry to his feet. “Daddy is going to be so angry,” she said, once again.
“Why?” he asked. “I’m Gerry, by the way.”
Gerry stared at her as she replied. She seemed familiar to him but he couldn’t place her.
“Eloise. Eloise Ponsonby,” she replied. “Daddy doesn’t like it when I play. That’s why I started early, before any of the gentlemen arrived. The other gentlemen, I mean.”
“Oookay,” Gerry said, bemused with her concern. “So why are you dressed like that? Is it a fancy dress competition?”
“I beg your pardon?” she replied, looking Gerry up and down. “One might just say the same about you.”
Disappointed by his comment, she turned her head to one side, then added, “Mr. Bumble Bee.”
“Bumble bee?” he said sharply. “I think my knock was a little more than a sting.”
“Of course but you do look rather bright,” she said with a smile.
Gerry looked down at his own attire and was shocked by what he saw. A two-tone pair of Oxfords, yellow and black argyle socks, checked plus-fours and, to top it off, a yellow and black striped pullover vest. His brand new tailor-made golf clubs had also been replaced and, lying at his feet, there was now a canvas bag containing a set of well-used hickory clubs.
“What the heck?” he said.