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About 2200 words POET IN RESIDENCE By Ken - Page 17 - Public Member Blogs - Posted: 25th Sep, 2016 - 10:16am

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The Writer - Fifty-two Stories Project - Short Stories
Post Date: 7th Aug, 2016 - 1:01pm / Post ID: #

KenGreen Blog - Page 17

THE SKIRMISH AT MISKEL FARM
By Ken Green
The sun was just peeking over the hilltops as Captain Henry C. Flint led his five companies of 1st Vermont Calvary along the wooded lane to Miskel Farm, as quietly as their three hundred horses could carry them. On this day, the weather seemed to favor the Union side: the light rain seemed to muffled the hoof beats and occasional nickering of the mounts.
“Captain,” Lieutenant Stansby gushed, “This day, April first, 1863, will go down in history as a day of glory, the day that you captured that bandit John Mosby…”
“Stansby,” Flint sighed, “It amazes me that you can ride a horse and kiss my ass at the same time. I swear, if you could swing your saber half as well as you use your tongue, this war would be over by now.”
“Sir?” Stansby asked, looking hurt and confused.
“We’re not here for glory,” Flint said. “We’re not here to write history. We’re here to arrest a traitor and his merry band of horse thieves. So shut your damned mouth, Stansby. We might catch these sister-screwing rebel bastards by surprise this time.”
Flint had reason to be impatient. Major John Mosby and his self-styled raiders, had been tying the occupying Union forces in knots, with their campaign of sabotage. People were even referring to Virginia as ‘Mosby’s Confederacy. The man was making himself a legend, giving the rebels hope. To break the South, and bring this war to a close, Mosby needed to be stomped on, and stomped on hard. What other fate does a snake deserve?
They were drawing closer. The informant, a loyalist neighbor of the Miskel’s, had provided detailed directions, and sure enough, as they rounded the final bend, a farm came into view. Flint smiled when he noticed the gate was open.
“Well, look at that,” he said, “This must be some of that southern hospitality I’ve heard so much about. Maybe you’re right after all. Maybe this will be a day of glory.”
The troopers paused to form up their ranks. Stansby reached into his saddle bag and produced a trumpet.
“Stansby,” Flint growled, “If you put that thing to your lips, I will shove it up your ass.”
From behind came the sound of a horse at full gallop. Flint turned in his saddle. “Who is breaking ranks?” he demand, “Some damned fool…”
A rider flashed by, not in uniform, a civilian!
“Somebody shoot that man!” Flint screamed.
But it was too late. The rider bolted through the gate, drew a revolver, fired it into the air.
“Raiders!” A shrill voice cried out, “Awake, the Yankees are at your doorstep! He fired two more shots.
“Draw sabers and charge!” Flint screamed, kicking his horse to a gallop. Stansby blew his trumpet. Rebels, some half-dressed, boiled from the farmhouse and the barn, their navy revolvers blazing as they rushed to their mounts.
Union horses surged through the gate, churning the farmyard into a muddy morass. Men shouted, horses screamed, guns barked, sabers flashed in a wheeling, frenzied chaos. Flint, who had always prided himself in leading from the front, led many of his men on their final journey as he was the first to die.
#
“A day of glory, a day of glory, a day of glory…” Stansby kept repeating, lying on the cold ground, staring at the midday sky.
“Not for you, it ain’t,” said an unattractive little girl who walked into his field of view.
“What happened?” Stansby tried to get up, but his limbs didn’t seem to work.
“You probably shouldn’t try to move, Mister,” she said, “You fell off your horse.”
“The battle, girl. How did the battle go?” He was able to turn his head. He saw dead horses, and a few dead men, some in uniform, some not.
“The battle. Well, it wasn’t much of a battle. Your boys rode into the yard, a bunch of you got shot to pieces, and the rest turned to run away. Mosby’s men chased them off, and captured a whole bunch of prisoners.”
“I can’t feel my arms. Or my legs.” Stansby said.
“Yeah,” the girl said, kneeling. “Ma says you might have broke your back. When you fell, you didn’t land right.” She tilted his head and put a tin cup to his lips, gave him a sip of water.
“What’s your name, girl?” he asked.
“Sally Miskel. But everybody calls me Possim.”
Looking at her, Stansby could see why. She had a narrow, pointy face, with wide-set eyes.
“Well, they shouldn’t,” he said, “That is very cruel.”
Possim shrugged.
“They don’t mean anything by it, that’s just what they call me. I used to cry about it, but that didn’t change anything. They don’t do it to be mean, they just think it’s funny.”
“I shall address you as ‘Sally’. No. I will call you ‘Miss Sally’, as you are a proper lady.”
She smiled a sad smile, brushed the hair from his forehead, and kissed him there. She glanced down toward his legs, then quickly looked away.
“Is it bad?” he asked.
“I ain’t goin’ to lie to you, Mister. You got shot up pretty bad.”
“I don’t feel anything,” he said, “I just feel cold.”
She stroked his hair and gave him more water.
“I know I’m supposed to hate you, because you’re the enemy and all,” she said, “But you seem like a nice man. I’m sorry you got hurt.”
“What’s going to happen to me?” he asked.
“I heard the men say something about a prisoner exchange. I’ll sit with you until they come get you, if you want me to.”
“I’d like that,” Stansby said.
She shifted position, rested his head on her lap, and sang songs to him until he died.
End.



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Post Date: 14th Aug, 2016 - 6:56am / Post ID: #

Blog KenGreen

CHANGE OF ADDRESS
By Ken Green
“Are you sure he’d hide it down here?” Mother asked, “Why would he keep it in the basement?”
“He spent all his time here,” Veronica Davenport said, “This was his workshop.”
And what a workshop it was. Uncle Milton was a man of diverse interests, and, since he invented the M-drive, a man of immense wealth. Uninterested in the vulgar trinkets that other rich people sought, he spent money indulging his scientific interests. His workshop was as vast as a warehouse, and filled with an amazing array of tools and machines.
“Well, it’s creepy down here,” Mother said, although the place was clean and well-lit, “Hurry up and find the damned will, so I can get what’s mine.”
“I’m trying, Mother,” Veronica said, “Just give me some quiet and let me think. Let me work out the puzzle.”
“This is just stupid!” Mother shouted, turning to Mr. Simmons, Uncle Milton’s lawyer, “You drew up the will, you know what it says. Just tell me what I get!”
“I’ve already told you I can’t do that,” Mr. Simmons said, “I have to honor my client’s last wish.”
Uncle Milton’s instructions were as precise as they were bizarre. On this appointed day, exactly a week after his death, Veronica and her mother were to enter the house. Within an hour, a specific action had to be performed. Only then would the contents of the will be revealed. If the action was not performed in time, the whole of Uncle Milton’s fortune would be forfeit. The only catch was, Veronica had no idea what the needed task was.
“Obviously, we need to find the will,” Mother said, “Let’s just search the house, top to bottom. It must be here somewhere.”
“This house is immense,” Veronica said, “It would take days to search it. Ransacking it will give us nothing. Just let me think.”
Veronica relished the task. The summers she had stayed at her uncle’s estate had been adventures of the mind. He parents would frequently drop her off at the upstate compound so they could go jet setting off to Europe. Not content to be a mere babysitter, Uncle Milton cultivated Veronica’s intellect, teaching her calculus, physics, Greek, and Latin, just to have somebody interesting to talk to.
“You’ll find it, Miss Ronnie,” Louisa, the live-in maid, said.
“Nobody asked you anything,” Mother snapped, “Who are you, anyway? A servant, nothing more. And not that for much longer. As soon as this nonsense is over, you can get yourself to bus station and go back to Mexico where you belong. You don’t have my brother around to support you anymore. What did you do for him, anyway?”
“I was his maid. And his nurse. I took care of him for twenty years.” Louisa said, tearing up a bit.
“Oh, I’m sure you took care of him,” Mother said, “What else did you do for him, you taco belle?”
“We didn’t do the hokey-pokey, if that’s what you’re asking,” Louisa said, “Your brother was a good man.”
“Well, before you leave this house, I’m going to search you,” Mother said, “To make you’re not stealing the silverware. Because that’s what you people do.”
“Mother!” Veronica shouted, “Stop it! You’re being horrible. Louisa is a good woman and a better mother to me than you ever were. Now just be quiet, and let me figure this puzzle out.”
She went to the workbench, to see if any tools were out of place. None were. She checked the equations on the whiteboards for errors.
“Oh, my God,” Mother cried out, and pointed, “What is that thing?”
Veronica went to look. Mother had found an office chair inside what appeared to be a roll cage, surrounded by computers, wires, and other devices.
“Oh,” Veronica said, “That’s his teleportation machine. He never gave up on that.”
“Do you think it works?” Mother asked.
“That’s where I found his body,” Louisa said, crossing herself, “That devil machine killed him.”
“I don’t know, Mother,” Veronica said, “Maybe it does. Hop in, we’ll fire it up, see if it sends you someplace.”
Mother shook her head and walked away to wander among the shelves. She came across a casket-sized shipping crate standing on end against the wall.
“Hey!” she called, “Maybe it’s in here!”
Veronica and Louisa turned.
“Oh, no,” Louisa said, “You don’t want to open that.”
“I do now!” Mother shouted, and flung the lid open, and then she screamed.
Inside the crate stood a very attractive Asian woman with a stunning figure, wearing a slutty evening gown.
“Who the hell are you?” Mother demanded.
“I am Honey Lovejoy, a fifth-generation gynoid,” the robot said, with a big, big smile, “And I double as a Wi-Fi hotspot.”
“Gynoid?” Veronica asked, “Uncle Milton had a…”
“Hokey-pokeybot,” Louisa said, “I made him hide her when you came to visit. Children shouldn’t see such things. Neither should adults.”
Honey stepped out of her shipping crate, walked past Mother, and approached Veronica.
“You must be Veronica, Milton’s niece,” she said, nodding and smiling, “He thought very highly of you. I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you,” Veronica said, “Wait. Do you mean he talked to you about me?”
“Yes,” Honey said, nodding and smiling, “He loved you very much.”
“This is all very touching,” Mother said, walking back to the group, “But it isn’t making me any richer. Time is running out, Veronica. Where is my fortune?”
“I don’t know, Mother,” Veronica said, “Give me a minute to think.” Again she looked to the workbench, and the whiteboards, but they offered no help. There had to be something, but whatever is was escaped her.
“Think faster, girl,” Mother said, “I’ve been waiting for years for this. Find my damned money!”
“I’m trying Mother, I really am, just let me think.”
You seem tense, Veronica, Milton’s niece,” Honey said, “I could give you a massage. Would you like a massage?”
“Get away from my daughter, you robot whore!” Mother shouted, then turned to Louisa, “And you can go pack your bags. I ought to have you deported. You’ve been leeching off my brother for twenty years, but the gravy train has just left the tracks. You can go to Juarez and do donkey shows…”
“For God’s sake, Mother!” Veronica shouted, “Shut up! Every time you open your moth, something horrible comes out of it, so please, for the love of God, stop talking. I’m begging you, Mother, please just shut the hell up!”
Mother stood, stunned, speechless.
“Thank you,” Veronica said, gathering her dignity, “Now in the minutes I have left, I need to solve this puzzle.”
“Actually, you don’t,” Mr. Simmons said, “You have just fulfilled the conditions of the will.”
“Wait. No, I didn’t,” Veronica protested, “I didn’t solve the puzzle. I didn’t do anything.”
“You did the one thing your uncle wanted,” Mr. Simmons said, “You told his sister to shut up. There was no puzzle.”
“But…” Veronica was crestfallen, “I thought I would match wits with him, one last time…”
Never mind that,” Mother said, “What does the will say? How much money do I get?”
“I’m happy to report,” Mr. Simmons said, turning to Mother, “That you get nothing. Not a cent. The entire estate, the vehicles, the fortune, the patents, all go to Veronica.”
“All of it?” Veronica asked, “But what about Louisa? What does she get?”
“I’m sorry,” Mr. Simmons said, “But, under the terms of the will, Miss Diaz gets nothing.”
“Nothing?” Louisa said, “Nothing at all?”
“No,” Veronica said, “This is wrong. She gave him twenty years of dedicated service. She raised me. She gets nothing?”
“It’s okay, Miss Ronnie,” Louisa said, “I grew up poor, I’ll manage somehow.”
“No! It isn’t okay!” Veronica shouted, “It’s obscene! If this is my house, I can do what I want with it. I can give it to you.”
“Don’t you dare!” Mother hissed, “This house is worth millions! You can’t give it to her…”
“You have no say in the matter,” Veronica said, “In fact, you have no say in anything. You can see yourself out, Mother. Go back to Manhattan.”
“Of all the nerve!” Mother stomped out of the workshop.
“I can do that, can’t I?” Veronica asked the lawyer, “Can I just sign it over to her?”
“No, Miss Ronnie,” Louisa said, “It is too much. What would I do with such a big house? I have no children to fill it with.”
“Then take the guest house. Will you accept that? Or the cottage by the lake? You’ve earned at least that much.”
“Oh, Miss Ronnie, you are too generous…”
“Please, Louisa, don’t make me beg, you know I will,” Veronica turned to Mr. Simmons, “Can I do that? Give her the guest house, and a pension equal to her salary?”
“It would be unethical for me to advise you,” Mr. Simmons said, “As you are not my client.”
“Fine,” Veronica rolled her eyes and pulled her wallet from her pocket, “I have…thirty-two dollars. Will you accept that as a retainer?”
He pocketed the money.
“Yes,” he said, smiling, “I’ll have the paperwork ready for you to sign first thing tomorrow. I had hoped you would do something like this. So had your uncle.”
Honey Lovejoy coughed politely.
“What happens to me?” she asked, “Who do I belong to?”
“Under the terms of the will,” Mr. Simmons said, “You belong to Miss Davenport.”
“Very well,” Honey said, smiling and nodding, “I will change my settings to lesbian parameters.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Veronica said.
“Update complete,” Honey said, “Hey, Ronnie, let’s go buy some flannel shirts, and adopt a whole bunch of cats.”
“Maybe later,” Veronica said.

End.



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Post Date: 21st Aug, 2016 - 9:25am / Post ID: #

KenGreen Blog Blogs Member Public

THE TEMPTATION OF LILY BARNES
By Ken Green
“I’m not sure I understand,” Lily said, “Are you asking me to take my clothes off?”
“In order to sketch you, yes,” the renter said, “For my paintings. I’m willing to pay.”
“But, I’m just here to clean the house,” Lily said, backing toward the door. Widow Gilly had hired her to take care of the Rose house. She hadn’t said anything about whoring. Widow Gilly was a proper woman, and would not tolerate such things.
“I’m willing to pay generously, Miss…” he said, showing her the bills in his hand.
“Barnes,” she said, too quickly, “Miss Lily Barnes. I mean, Missus Barnes. I’m married, I’ll have you know. To Mister Paul Barnes, my husband. Who I love very much. So much that I married him.”
Keep babbling, idiot. You’re making a fine impression.
“He’s a very lucky man, I’m sure. And I am Henri DuPont, at your service. The offer still stands.”
He’s mocking me. He thinks I’m stupid because I can’t talk all high and fancy like he does. Damned city folk. Just because you’re better than me, it don’t make it right to be cruel.
Lily stood, staring at the money. The bills in his hand would easily carry her family through the off season, when the oyster beds slept and the people of the village found what work they could. The hungry months of summer.
“What would I have to do?” she asked, surprised that she hadn’t already run out the door.
Why am I asking? This is mischief! This is sin! He’s buying your soul!
“Just pose for me,” the renter said, “Like this.” He turned to the couch and showed her a folio of prints. Art pictures. Wondrous paintings of women, nymphs, goddesses.
“Did you make these pictures?” she asked, wiping her hands on her apron before touching them.
“These? No, these are lithographs,” he said.
Litho-what? Another word I don’t know. How he must despise me. He’s not even supposed to be here yet. I should be airing the curtains out now.
“These women are beautiful,” Lily said, flipping from one print to the next, “Why do you want me?”
“Because you are a beautiful woman,” he said.
Liar.
Lily laughed. She knew how she looked. When she was a young woman, she had been passably pretty, fair enough to turn heads, but years of constant work, sun, wind and frequent hunger had made her lean of body and sharp of face.
“It’s kind of you to say it, but I’m no beauty,” she said.
“You suffer from a woman’s blindness,” he said, “You can see other things clearly, but you can’t see yourself.”
Such a charming liar. The devil is one, too, from what I’m told.
She looked at more of the prints. They were like something from another world, a world of beauty. How could such beauty be the result of sin? Sin was ugly, hateful to God. But the women in these pictures were creatures of light, spiritual beings.
Could I be one of these? Is he that good a painter? Could he make me beautiful?
“And that’s all I have to do?” she asked, “I don’t have to…touch you or anything?”
“Just pose,” he said.
No. This is wrong. But… that money will feed us all summer. I could even buy something nice for Olivia. She worked so hard this season, she deserves something nice.
“Nobody in the village can know,” she whispered. Have I damned myself?
“They never will,” he promised.
“How do we start?” she asked, her voice small.
He rummaged through a steamer trunk and handed her a dressing gown.
“You can get undressed in there,” he pointed to the other room.
The other room was the bedroom. Of course it was. The rental cottages only had three rooms: a kitchen, a living area and a bedroom, scarcely wider than the bed itself. She closed the door behind her.
“Lily Barnes, are you truly going to do this?” she asked herself.
Not hearing an answer, she turned to the mirror on the wall and untied her bonnet. Dropping it on the bed, she ran her fingers through her hair, fluffed it out to form a wavy auburn mane.
Well. You look like a proper harlot now, don’t you? She couldn’t think of a time when a man other than her husband had seen her with her hair down. And he’ll see more than that, won’t he? It’s not too late to stop this. I could climb out the window…No, that’s no good. If he complains to Widow Gilly, I’ll lose this job, and I won’t find another. Not one that pays as well as this one. All the good summer jobs are taken already.
She undid her apron, folded it, and laid it on the bed. Sitting on the bed, she took off her boots. Other garments followed, until they were all neatly folded, and she was nude.
This is what he’ll see. Will he still think I’m beautiful? What if he doesn’t? Will he send me away? What could be more humiliating?
“Will you be much longer?” he asked, calling from the other room.
“I’ll be right out!” she called back.
She held the dressing gown up to examine it, truly a thing of beauty, emerald silk with broad floral pattern, with just a hint of rose perfume.
From the last woman who wore it. She frowned. What did you expect? Did you think you were his first? He’s a rich man. He’s probably had a hundred women like you.
She shrugged into the gown, and the thin silk glided on her naked skin. She gasped. The sensation was electric, like being kissed all over her body.
Oh, my goodness. Is this how it feels to be a rich man’s toy? She closed the gown and tied the belt, cinching it tight. Again, she turned to the mirror. The flowing robe softened her outline, hid her work-hardened angularity. With her hair down, her face looked rounder, less severe.
If I squint, I almost look like the women in the pictures. A blind man might think I’m pretty.
She looked to the door.
I can’t stay in this room forever. Time to face the hangman.
She opened the door, threw her shoulders back, and made her entrance.
Startled by her transformation, his only response was a sharp intake of breath.
She smiled as bravely as she could.
“Is it good enough?” she whispered.
“You look wonderful,” he said.
Please. I’m doing what you want, you can ease up on the flattery.
“Where do you want me?” she asked.
He pointed to the back door.
Like a condemned woman, she walked out into the garden. She blinked in the bright sun and took a deep breath, again smelling her predecessor’s scent. What was she like? Was she dark-haired and mysterious? A virginal blond? Were they lovers? Did he seduce her? Will he do the same to me? Or will he just take what he wants?
“By the bench, please,” he said, coughing.
At the end of the garden, a weathered bench lay before a sheltering hedge, a leafy grotto. She stood with her hands at her sides.
“Like this?” she asked.
“I’d like to start off with a simple contrapposto,” he said.
“I don’t know what that means,” she said.
“Stand with all your weight on one leg, and relax the other,” he said.
“How do I do that?” she asked. Nobody had ever told her how to stand before.
“Like this,” he said, and demonstrated.
She laughed. It looked like a very silly way to stand, but for what he was paying her, she’d be willing to attempt a handstand.
“How’s this?” she asked, trying to duplicate what he was doing.
“You have the idea,” he said, “Could I see it without the robe?”
Huh? “Oh, of course,” she turned her back to him, and untied the belt. She took a deep breath and turned her face to the sky. Father, forgive me. Forgive me for being foolish. Forgive for being weak. Please, forgive me. I’ll have to go to the church in Crab Cove to confess for this. Father McGinnis would never understand.
She opened the robe and shuddered. She paused a moment, then eased it off her shoulders. Her breathing had become ragged.
For God’s sake, Lily, you’re a grown woman. Stop acting like a child.
She let the robe slip down to her waist.
“That’s enough for now,” he said, “Just stay like that.”
She turned her head to the side.
“We struck a bargain,” she said, “You’re paying to see me naked. I won’t cheat you.”
“You’re doing fine. Just sit on the bench. Stay facing away from me, keep the gown around your waist, and just sit comfortably.”
She sat, staring at the shrubbery, blinking tears back.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “I’m sure you think me a very foolish woman.”
Instead of an answer, she heard the skritch, skritch, skritch sound of charcoal on canvas.
“Was it hard to learn how to do all this?” she asked, “You know, drawing and painting?”
Skritch, skritch, skritch.
“I wouldn’t say it was hard,” he said, “But it took a great deal of practice. And some of the instructors were tyrants. I studied at the Sorbonne.”
“The Sorbonne,” she said, careful to pronounce the word as he had, “Is that in Boston?”
Skritch, skritch, skritch.
“No,” he said, “It’s in Paris. In France.”
I know Paris is in France, Mr. High-and-Mighty. I’m not some stupid Mick whore. She glanced down at her bare breasts. Or maybe I am.
“Is that where you live? Paris?” she asked.
Skritch, skritch, skritch.
“No,” he said, “I mostly stay at the Manhattan townhouse. On holidays, I’m allowed to visit the mansion in Westchester, upstate. I spent last summer at the cabin in the Catskills.”
Three different houses?
She turned her head.
“How many houses do you own?”
Skritch, skritch, skritch.
“Me?” he laughed, “I don’t own anything. I’m the fourth son, with the heir and two spares ahead of me. I stand to inherit nothing. Could you turn your head back the way it was?”
“Sorry,” she said, turning her head back, “So, this is what you do? Travel, and draw pictures? You don’t…work, or anything?”
Skritch, skritch, skritch.
“Well,” he said, “I imagine Father would buy me a railroad or something to run, if I showed any interest or aptitude. But even if I tried, I’d just make a hash out of things. So I’ve chosen the life of a dilettante, and allow my family to support my excesses. It’s cheaper for them than bankruptcy, and far less embarrassing.”
Dill-uh-tant. I wonder what that means.
“So, you don’t work? You just…play for a living?”
Skritch, skritch, skritch.
“The light has changed,” he said, removing the canvas from the easel, and putting another in its place, “I’d like to try a different pose. You can cover yourself now.”
She stood, still facing the hedge and pulled the robe up and held it to tightly closed. She half-turned to see what he was doing.
He stepped from behind the easel, went into the house, and came back with a thick quilt and a pillow. He went to the bench and arranged the quilt on it, folding it to make cushion, and placing the pillow at the far end.
“I’d like you to lie on your side, your head at that end,” he pointed.
She took a deep breath.
“Do you want me facing you?” she asked.
“You don’t have to,” he said, “You can lie with your back to me.”
“I want to face you,” she said, “I think I’m ready now. Thank you.”
She lowered the robe, exposing her chest to him, draping the gown around her hips. Moving as if she were made of glass, she lowered herself to the bench and lie on her side, propping herself on her elbow.
“How’s this?” she asked, her voice small.
“You’re doing fine,” he said, “I’m going to make a small adjustment.”
He moved the gown so it draped over her hip and spilled to the floor, exposing her thigh.
Apparently satisfied, he went back to the easel and began sketching. Trying to look serene, she relaxed into the pose and studied his face.
Is this the man I was so afraid of? Should I even call him a man? A man works for a living, raises a family. He’s not a man, he’s a man-sized child, a boy playing in a garden.
“If your family lives in New York, how did you wind up in Paris?” she asked.
Skritch, skritch, skritch.
“By crossing the English Channel,” he said, “When I was fourteen, I did something scandalous with a chambermaid. So she was quietly paid off, and I was sent to a boarding school in England, where I did something even more scandalous with my roommate. And the cricket team. And the debate club. That was an amazing year.”
“Good heavens,” Lily said, “What did you do?”
Skritch, skritch, skritchity skritch. Skritch.
“I’d like to adjust your pose,” he said, squeezing more paint onto the palette, “Try resting your head on the pillow,”
“But if I do that, I might fall asleep,” she said.
“Do you talk in your sleep?” he asked.
“No,” she said, “I never do that.”
“Try resting your head, then,” he said.
She did as she was told, and sure enough, she soon dozed off, only to be awakened by someone shouting.
“Hullo? Hullo?” a man’s voice called out.
Panicking, she bolted from the bench, grabbed the robe and threw it on as a workman walked into the garden.
“I knocked on the front door, but nobody answered,” he said glancing about the garden, his eyes fixing on Lily’s chest. He smiled a lewd smile.
“Oh!” she gasped, and pulled the robe shut.
“Good morning to you, Mam,” he said, tipping his hat.
“Never mind that,” the painter said, “Why are you here?”
“I’ve got your delivery from the market,” the workman said.
“Oh. Of course, I’ll go unlock the door,” Henri said, and disappeared into the house.
The workman lingered.
“I see you landed a fine summer job,” he said, winking at her.
“How do you know I’m not his wife?” she asked, trying to sound haughty.
“Because I have eyes in my head,” he said, taking her hand and pressing his fingers into her calluses, “These aren’t the hands of a rich woman. You’re coastal trash, same as me.”
“Don’t you have work to do?” she asked, snatching her hand back.
“I imagine we both do,” he said, letting his eyes linger on her, as he walked away.
“Is everything alright?” the painter asked, calling from the back door.
“Everything is fine,” she called, heading for the door, “Wait up, I’ll put the groceries away.”
“What was that about?” the painter asked, as she came to the kitchen.
“He’s a townie, I’m village,” she said, “It means nothing.”
“I’ll have a word with the store owner…”
“No,” Lily waved the idea away, “It’s nothing. Not worth a man losing his job.”.



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Post Date: 28th Aug, 2016 - 9:25am / Post ID: #

Page 17 Blog KenGreen

About 1400 words
THE HARD GOODBYE
By Ken Green

Even in the middle of the day, Grand Central Station was busy. Owen waded into the sea of milling people: commuters, tourists, school kids on field trips.
Young men of draft age, like him, most of them alone, some kissing their sweethearts goodbye for what might be the last time.
You can do this. After four years in a white high school, a tour in Nam will be a cake walk.
He reached into his pocket and fished out Kathy’s photo, cupping it in the palm of his hand so no passerby could see it. It was a habit born from necessity: Back home, just having a picture of a white girl would have been enough to earn him a beating, maybe a lynching if the weather was nice.
“I’m sorry, Kathy,” he whispered. He joined the line to buy tickets. He thought back to the night he had met her, at a peace rally in Central Park. Stoned out of her mind and reeking of pot, she invited him home with her. He followed her to a dirty little apartment, figuring she was good for a quick lay and a place to sleep.
He hadn’t figured on falling in love. He hadn’t counted on being swept up in the sheer torrent of love that flowed from Kathy, of burning in the inexhaustible fire of her passion. More than a woman, she was a force of nature. He had no idea what she saw in him, but she had latched onto him with a devotion that bordered on fanaticism.
After an eternity, but far too soon, he reached the counter.
“One ticket for Clarksville, Tennessee, please…”
He staggered and was smashed into the wall as 110 pounds of angry Irish womanhood blindsided him with a flying tackle.
“What the hell are you doing?” Kathy screamed, straddling him.
“What?” he asked, dazed, “Kathy?”
She threw a wad on paper at his face, the note he had left her.
“Don’t do this,” she sobbed, her eyes as red as her brassy hair, “Don’t go. Don’t leave me.”
“I have to go,” he said, “I told you, I’ve been drafted.”
“Hey!” yelled the woman behind the counter, “Are you going to buy a ticket?”
“No!” Kathy screamed, “He’s not going anywhere!”
The next man in line stepped up to the counter and made a purchase. New Yorkers don’t wait for anybody.
A transit cop waddled over to the happy couple, his thumbs hooked in his belt.
“What are you two doing?” he asked, looking down at Kathy’s tight jeans and tie-dye top, “Is this some kind of protest?”
“Yeah,” Kathy said, shifting her weight as she turned to face him, “That’s exactly what it is. We’re protesting the illegal, immoral war against the people of Viet Nam. We’re dangerous radicals. You should arrest us.”
“Sure you are,” the cop said, “Play time is over. Get up, and get out of my station. Come back when you’ve grown up.”
Kathy narrowed her eyes.
“You know, I can see that you’re talking, but all I can hear is ‘Oink, oink, oink.”
“That’s enough out of you, lass,” the cop grabbed her arm and hauled her to her feet, “Get out of here before I run you both in.”
Kathy offered Owen a hand up.
“You heard the man,” she said, smiling, “We have to go.”
“But,” Owen said, appealing to the transit cop, “I have to buy a ticket…”
“Out, I said,” the cop put his hand on the nightstick clipped to his belt, “Out before I brain you. And tell your girlfriend to wear a bra. She’s going to put somebody’s eye out with those things.”
Kathy took Owen’s arm and led him out of the station, into the midday Manhattan sunlight.
“What do you think you’re accomplishing?” he muttered, as they joined the throng walking along the sidewalk.
“Saving your damned life,” she said, “Buy me a soda. You have all my money.”
“I only took it so you wouldn’t be able to follow me,” he said, stopping at a hot dog cart. He pointed at a can and handed the vendor two dimes, “How did you get here, anyway?”
“I ran sixteen blocks, you stupid bastard. Did you think I wouldn’t? I’d run to the moon for you.”
Owen nodded. She would. She’d run until her feet were bleeding, until her heart exploded. She would die saying my name. I don’t deserve her. How could I think this could be easy?
He stepped away from the cart, crossed Park Avenue, led her to a bench by the post office.
“This changes nothing,” he said, “There’ll be another train tomorrow, and one the day after that.”
“Fine,” she said, “If want to get on a train, buy two tickets. To Montreal. Canada doesn’t extradite draft evaders, and they don’t have miscegenation laws. We could get married. We could start a family.”
She’s serious. She’s stone cold serious. She just proposed marriage to you. She would leave America, leave her whole world behind. Leave the cause.
“What would we do in Canada?” he asked, “How would we live?”
“I don’t know, we’ll figure it out.” Kathy said, blinking through her tears, “I’ll find work. I’ll beg on the street if I have to. Maybe we can find a place in the county, join a commune, a farm or something. I don’t care what I have to do, as long as you’re with me. I want to walk down a street, with your arm around me, my head held high. I want the world to see us, and know that I’m yours.”
He tried to picture her farming, driving a tractor with one hand with a baby on her tit. Churning butter while quoting Karl Marx. Teaching their herd of children how to roll joints.
“You’re dreaming,” he said, “We’d never make it past the border. The FBI is watching the crossings.”
“They’re watching the land crossings,” she said, opening her soda, “We could take the Blue Chip.”
“We’re not stealing your dad’s boat,” Owen said, “That’s his livelihood.”
“We’re two nights from a new moon,” she said, staring into the distance, “We’ll run without lights, once we’re clear of the harbor. We’ll be as good as invisible. We’ll make landfall in Nova Scotia, start a new life. Don’t you want that?”
He took a long look at her. A week ago, the idea of marriage to any woman would have seemed ridiculous. He was a young man, with a life ahead of him. How could he shackle himself to one woman when there were so many he’d never met? But looking into her red-rimmed eyes, he knew there was only one woman for him, this half-mad girl who was willing to risk everything, her freedom, even her life, just to be with him.
“We’ll have beautiful children,” she said, her voice soft, “We’ll teach them to love, and to be strong, and brave, and they’ll build a better world.”
He tried to imagine a life with her. A life of waking up to her smile, of raising a family together, a life going to sleep with her next to him every night. A good life.
But not his life.
“If you go with me,” he said, “You’ll be an accomplice to a felony. We’ll both be fugitives. We’ll never be able to come back to America.”
“Why would we want to?” she asked, “What has this country ever given you, other than pain and hate?”
“It’s given me everything,” he said, “It gave me you.”
“No,” she said, “I gave myself to you. I looked at you, and I saw a good man, a man worth getting to know. Was I deceived?”
“I don’t know what you saw,” he said, “All I know is that my country needs me.”
“Why?” she begged, “Tell me why. Why are you willing to die for a country that despises you?”
“Because it’s my country,” he said, standing, “I’m going now.”
“Go, then,” she said, looking away, “And don’t bother looking back. You won’t see me mooning after you.”
He turned, went to the crosswalk, and crossed the street. When he reached the station’s entrance, he stole a glace back. She had left the bench and was halfway down the block. Looking small and defeated, she walked back the way she came, never looking back.
#
End.



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Post Date: 4th Sep, 2016 - 7:54am / Post ID: #

Blog KenGreen

THE BIBLIOPHILE
By Ken Green
“Is all this mine?” Natsuko Tomoko McKenzie gazed in wide-eyed wonder at her new habitat unit. It was so big! She stood in the middle of her living room and spread her arms. Stretching as far as she could, straining till it almost hurt, she could barely touch the walls with the very tips of her fingers.
“Actually,” Susan Campos, who insisted that Natsuko call her Suzy, the lady from Social Engineering, said, checking her datapad, “Your job classification qualifies you for a luxury unit. Would you like to look at one of those?”
“Oh, no,” Natsuko said, “I couldn’t possibly.” She had been raised as a proper New Reformed Buddhist, and eschewed displays of wealth. She stood on tiptoe and stretched her arms toward the ceiling. She could just barely touch it with her palms.
“I’m afraid I’ll get lost in here,” she said. She glanced toward the far corner of the room. The toilet/shower unit had a privacy curtain! The wall facing the sleepshelf had a fold-down counter, an ultrawave oven, and a built-in chiller. Such luxury made her blush. She made a mental note to pray extra hard that night, before she tucked into her sleepshelf.
“I’m glad you like it,” Suzy said, smiling her big warm smile and tapping her datapad, “If you’ll just thumb here, you’ll be all set to move in.” She handed the pad over, and Natsuko pressed her thumb to the screen, then handed it back.
“Well, we’re all done here,” Suzy said, still smiling, “I’ll come collect you at Oh Eight Zed Zed tomorrow, and we can tour your work area.”
“Eight a.m., got it,” Natsuko said, tapping her the side of her neck to key it into her subdermal, “See you then.”
“And after your tour,” Suzy said, as she turned toward the door, “I’ve scheduled a little meet and greet with your co-workers.”
“Oh.” Natsuko said, her lips pursing up as if her mouth was trying to disappear, “That really won’t be necessary.”
Suzy stopped in mid-turn, narrowed her eyes, and stopped smiling.
“Of course it’s necessary,” she said, “You’re going to be working with these people. They’re all eager to meet you.”
“Well, that’s very flattering,” Natsuko said, taking a step back from Suzy, “But, given the nature of my job, I won’t actually need to interact much with other people. Back on O’Neil, I hardly ever saw my colleagues. I mostly just sent them text reports.”
Natsuko was an industrial apiarist, specializing in microgravity beekeeping, and although she’d never admit it, she was an absolute wizard at it. She had bred a strain of bees with the insect equivalent of bulimia, and in microgravity and an oxy-rich environment they grew to the size of sparrows. Her bees produced honey by the bushel, and fertilized crops the way the Vikings fertilized Europe. Natsuko loved working with bees. They never asked awkward questions, or pressured her to date, or asked when she’d start pumping out grandchildren.
“Well, I don’t know how they did things over at O’Neil colony, but here, in New Chicago, we take care of our people. If you’re not willing to make friends voluntarily, I’ll just have to assign you some. You’ll also need a dating partner. Do you have a sexual preference?”
“Yeah,” Natsuko said, blushing, “I prefer not to.”
“What?” hearing that, Suzy dropped her datapad, and had to scramble to recover it, since the habitation ring was spinning at .95 G.
“I’m sorry,” Natsuko said, “I just…I mostly keep to myself. I’m just not a social person.”
“Miss McKenzie,” Suzy said, through gritted teeth, “Your social and mental well-being are my responsibility. A healthy sex life is essential to that. Therefore, you are going to date, and you are going to like it. So tell me, what do you like? Boys or girls?”
“I don’t care,” Natsuko said, “Flip a coin if you want to.”
“Flip a…that’s it, you just bought yourself a course of mandatory counseling. Now, I’m going to ask you one more time, and I want a straight answer. Do you want an innie, or an outie?”
“Fine,” Natsuko said, “Put me down as hetero. But tell him not to get his hopes up. You can’t force me to put out, no matter how well the job pays.”
“Uncooperative,” Suzy noted on her datapad, “I’m sure your therapist will find that interesting. I’ll see you at eight tomorrow. Try to have a better attitude.” She opened the slidey door and let herself out.
“Namaste,” Natsuko said, to Suzy’s retreating back, not really meaning it. She unfolded her sleepshelf and sat on it, absently kicking her feet in the air. Why can’t people be more like bees? Bees never scheduled mandatory counseling for Natsuko. They accepted her for what she was. She sighed and reached down to her box of books, pulled out her dog-eared copy of Fahrenheit 451. She held the book to her nose and took a deep breath, smelling the musty pages.
“Talk to me, Lover,” she whispered, and opened the cover.
#
Morning came, and so did Suzy, appearing at Natsuko’s door at eight o’clock sharp. Natsuko greeted her. Wanting to make a good impression on her first day at work, she was wearing a brand new papercloth jumpsuit.
“Is that what you’re wearing?” Suzy asked, running her eyes over the shapeless, bulky outfit.
“I’m a beekeeper,” Natsuko said, “These are my work clothes. I actually have a bikini on under this.”
“You do?” Suzy looked puzzled, “Why?” She led the way, and Natsuko fell into step with her.
“Bees work best in warm weather,”” Natsuko said, “I keep the apiary around 34 C. So I tend to strip down when I’m working in there. Back at O’Neil, I used to work naked, but the interns complained. So I bought a bikini. I got one with flowers. The bees seem to like it.” She unzipped the jumpsuit to show Suzy her floral swimwear.
“So, you don’t have a problem with nudity, but you don’t like boning?” Suzy asked.
“Please,” Natsuko said, “I don’t wish to be difficult, but I’m not comfortable talking about…” she shuddered, “Boning.”
“Make sure and tell that to your therapist,” Suzy said, as they reached the elevator.
#
“So you’re the famous bee girl,” Matt, the senior agronomist, said, looking Natsuko up and down in an unnerving fashion. He had a scruffy beard and intense eyes.
“Oh, I don’t know that I’m famous,” she said, “I just try to be good at what I do.” Why am I always ‘the bee girl’? I’m an adult. I have a master’s degree. Why can’t I be the ‘bee woman? Are you the ‘plant boy?’
She looked around the break room, just to avoid those intense eyes. Somebody had gone to a lot of trouble to set this all up Some poor intern had been detailed to decorate, hanging paper streamers, a banner, and even balloons. Natsuko wanted to crawl under the table. Why did people need to make such a big deal out of everything? There were cupcakes, even. What could be more mortifying? Everybody was looking at her.
“Stop being modest,” he said, “I’ve read your papers. You’re amazing. I had to call in a lot of favors to get you.”
“Actually, my girls do most of the work,” she said, “They’re eager to get started. I’ve been looking over the pollination schedule…”
“We can talk shop later,” he said, “Let’s get to know each other first. After all, we’re going to working together pretty intimately.”
“What do mean by that?” she asked, picking up one of the cupcakes, and holding it in front of her face as if trying to use it as a shield.
“Your bees, my plants,” he said, “It’s going to be like we’re having sex by proxy, all day, every day.” He winked at her.
Why does every agronomist feel the need to bring that analogy up?
She smiled as politely as she could.
“Yes, she said, “I guess that’s one way to look at it.”
#
“I’m just going to say this up front,” Allen said, “I have a breast feeding fetish.”
It’s very hard to gasp when one has a mouth full of food, so Natsuko merely stared at her assigned date. The evening had started out so nicely, too. She had decided to make an effort, and used some of her recruitment bonus to buy a new synthosilk blouse that complemented her best black kilt and her Mondrian go-go boots. Allen had escorted her to Piranha, the hottest café on the promenade, and the salmon sushi was simply fab. Then he had to ruin everything by talking.
“I don’t know that I can help you with that,” she said, after she swallowed.
“Why the hell not?” he asked, “You’re obviously a mammal,”
“Yes,” she said, looking down at the evidence, “But not an especially good one, equipment-wise. Besides, wouldn’t I have to be pregnant, in order to lactate?”
“You could get injections,” he said, “Hormone shots. I know a doctor who will write you a prescription.”
She thought about it, watching the people walk by on the promenade. New Chicago’s park area was quite extensive, and really captured the feel of an outdoor area. If it was any more realistic, it would have been terrifying.
“That’s more of a commitment than I’m willing to make,” she said, “On a first date, at least.”
She poked at her sushi with the chopsticks. She didn’t feel like eating anymore.
“Well, that’s a disappointment,” Allen said, “As a scientist, I expected you to be more open minded.”
She put another slice of sushi into her mouth to avoid having to answer, and considered what he had said. As a New Reformed Buddhist, she had been taught the virtue of generosity. Was he really asking for so much? He had already bought her a nice dinner, shouldn’t she at least try to reciprocate?
She swallowed.
“I’ll think about it,” she said.
“If you don’t want to do it, just say so,” he said, his voice getting angry.
“I said I’ll think about,” she said, and took a sip of tea, “I’m thinking about it now. I might have an idea.”
They finished their dinner in tense silence. He paid the bill, and stood to walk her home. On the way, she suggested that they stop at a store.
“What, we’re shopping now?” he snapped.
“Trust me,” she said, “I have an idea.”
She headed to the back of the store and grabbed a quart of yeast-grown soy milk, (Real cow milk costs a fortune in orbit,) a baby bottle, and a roll of duct tape.
Yeah. It’s the twenty-third century, and people still use duct tape. Deal with it.
“What are you doing?” Allen asked her, as she was paying up.
“Being open minded,” she said, forcing a smile.
When they got to her hab unit, she unfolded her sleepshelf and told him to get comfortable. Then she set the ultrawave oven to 37 C to warm the milk, and unbuttoned her blouse. When the milk was done, she poured it into the bottle spilling some on her hands. She shrugged and wiped the excess on her belly. Then she tore off two strips of tape, took off her bra, and secured the bottle between her boobs, pointing down.
Huh. I’ve never wondered what I would look like with three boobs, and now I know.
She made a brave face, turned around, and asked, “How do I look?”
He was naked. Sprawled across her sleepshelf like he was posing for a calendar, there he was, naked all over.
“You dropped something,” she said, pointing at the pile of clothes on the floor.
“You said to get comfortable,” he said.
Fair enough.
“Well, shove over, let me sit down,” she said.
He moved, she sat, and he arranged himself so that he was resting on her lap, his face between her breasts.
“Bon appétit,” she said.
He licked his lips, wrapped them around the rubber nipple, and started sucking like a starving toddler, or a French rock band. He closed his eyes and settled in, rhythmically slurping and moaning.
Natsuko glanced around, thought about hanging pictures, checked out her manicure, mentally composed a grocery list, then reached under her pillow and fished out a novel.
“Hey,” she said, “Do you mind if I read?”
He pulled away and swallowed, soy milk rolling off his lips and onto Natsuko’s kilt.
“Why aren’t you stroking my hair, and telling me what a good boy I am?” he asked.
“Sorry,” Natsuko said, “I didn’t know I was supposed to.” She shifted her grip, held the book one-handed, and put the other hand on Allen’s head.
“What are you doing?” he asked, glaring at the book.
“Well,” she said, “We’re not talking, and I have a free hand, so…”
“No, you do not,” he said, glancing down at his nether region, “Little Allen needs some attention.”
Following his gaze, she looked at his lower region. He had a raging hard-on.
“Yeah,” she said, “I don’t think this relationship is working out. Get off me.”
“But…I’m not finished yet,” he said.
“Actually, I think you are,” she said, giving him a push, “I mean it, get off me, and get your clothes. I’m sorry, but…just go. Please.”
He stood, got his pants on, shrugged into his shirt, and stormed out of the hab unit.
That is going to cost me.
She stood took two steps, and closed the slidey door. The only sound was the drip-drip-drip of the rubber nipple, as it leaked onto her foot.
Oh, the joys of motherhood.
She went back to the sleepshelf, folded her blouse, took off her kilt, folded it, and placed both in the wall niche. She set the baby bottle next to them. Then she bunched up her pillow and lay down. She opened her copy of “The Halloween Tree” and began to read.
“Oh, Ray, why can’t more men be like you?” she cooed, “You always know what I need.”
Presently, she realized she was thirsty. Out of habit, she reached for the chiller, but it was too far away. She glanced up to the niche, at the baby bottle.
“Eh, why not?” she said, and reached for it. Holding the book in one hand, she put the nipple to her mouth and began to work it with her lips. Surprisingly, she enjoyed the experience. It wasn’t even remotely sexual, but she found it oddly comforting. In this fashion, she read herself to sleep.
#
“So, how’s the dating working out for you?” Tracy, her appointed therapist, asked. The walls of Tracy’s office were lined with books, but they were fake books, holographic projections, and the pleather couch smelled funny. But Natsuko was obligated to be there for the next fifty-three minutes, so she resolved to make the best of it.
“I think Suzy’s deliberately setting me up with freaks,” she said.
“That’s a pretty strong accusation,” Tracy said, “Why would she do such a thing?”
“Well, obviously she’s punishing me,” Natsuko said, “I told her I don’t like sex, and that doesn’t fit her world view, so…”
“Wait. Back up,” Tracy said, “What do you mean, you don’t like sex? Everybody likes sex. Not liking sex is just weird. Stop being weird.”
“That’s your advice? ‘Stop being weird?’ What kind of advice is that?”
End.



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Post Date: 11th Sep, 2016 - 11:09am / Post ID: #

KenGreen Blog

FOR THE GOOD OF US ALL
By Ken Green
“And that’s the last of the helicopters, sir,” Corporal Mendoza said, gazing at her datapad.
General Stieglitz took a moment to study his aide, who he had only gotten to know recently. Recruited fresh out of high school, young enough to be his granddaughter, she exemplified everything that made a good soldier. Standing at the brink of oblivion, she showed no emotion other than the desire to fulfill her duty.
So young. So full of potential. Such a damned waste.
“Then let’s get the last of the senators to safety,” he said. Not waiting for a response, he started walking toward the chopper and she fell into step with him. Overhead, meteors blazed across the sky, as if to remind them the deadline was near.
Soon, within days, a week at most, the meteors would be too many to count, and the sky would burn, making the Earth’s surface uninhabitable. When that day arrived, the population of the United States would drop to less than two thousand.
The Homestake mine, in the South Dakota foothills, would be the site of America's sole hope for a future. The area had been quickly nationalized by an act of congress and cordoned off by the military. Although the underground complex was vast, it could accommodate only the tiniest fraction of the American public. The nation's lawmakers were faced with a terrible choice: who would be saved? In the end, they all agreed on the only possible course: they chose to save themselves, along with their families and mistresses.
Stieglitz and Mendoza reached the helicopter as Senator Shoat, of Georgia extracted himself, with some help from his entourage. The porcine politician grinned as he saw the soldiers, and snapped a quick salute, using the wrong hand.
Stieglitz returned the salute.
“Senator,” he said, “If you follow us, we’ll get you to safety.”
Shoat’s smile turned into a frown as he glanced down at the state of his thousand dollar shoes.
“Why is it so muddy here?” he bitched.
“The meteors have been warming the atmosphere, sir, adding more energy, It’s playing hell with the weather,” Mendoza said, then blushed, as she had spoken out of place, “That’s what the scientists are saying, anyway.”
Unseasonal rains had soaked the mine site, and the tires of innumerable supply trucks had churned the mud into a morass.
“Science,” Shoat scoffed, “Look what good that’s done us. That tired old ‘climate change’ hoax is probably what brought these damned space rocks down on us. Still, it’s not all bad. At least the apocalypse will solve the race problem.”
“Sir?” Mendoza asked.
“No more races, no more problem,” the senator laughed, “The future will belong to those who deserve it.”
“Let’s get you underground, Senator,” Stieglitz said. They made their way toward the entrance, followed by aides and interns carrying luggage. As they reached the gaping mine head entrance, they were joined by an honor guard of Stieglitz’s senior staff, who accompanied them to the huge personnel elevator. They all boarded, the elevator descended one level, then stopped.
“Aren’t we going all the way down?” the senator asked.
“Not just yet,” Stieglitz said, “We have something special planned.”
The elevator gate opened, and the general lead the procession to an enormous equipment depot that had recently been converted to a reception hall. There, the rest of the senate stood and mingled with the feigned camaraderie of a class reunion. Stieglitz’s men stood by, ready to serve as waiters.
Eagerly, Shoat wandered into the crowd.
“If I could get everybody’s attention,” the general called out, his voice even more commanding in the vast chamber, “Dinner will be served shortly, but first, we need you all to line up for a group photo.”
It took some doing to get a body of officials that had made their careers by not cooperating to line up properly, but eventually the lawmakers were assembled into an orderly, tight formation, with their backs against the far wall.
“That’s very good,” Stieglitz said in his relaxed but commanding voice, “Before we proceed, my men would like to express their respect for all of you.”
“Could we just get on with it?” Senator Shoat called out from the crowd.
“It’ll all be over soon, I assure you,” the general said, with a smile. He gestured, and even more of his select men, men who had served with him for years, some for decades, strode into the chamber, dressed in full battle gear, their rifles at the ready. They formed up in an orderly line facing the elected officials.
Stieglitz glanced at his men, beamed with pride, and thought about the ones that weren’t there. Men and women who had served under him, and had paid the ultimate price, dying for a country they had believed in. Soldiers he had sent into battle, knowing many would not return, battles and wars waged not for honor or country, but to further the careers of those who would never know the fear, pain, or deprivations war.
He felt the terrible weight of debt settle on him, and vowed that this day he would begin to pay it. He took a deep breath.
“Present arms!” he bellowed.
Moving as one, like the parts of a finely crafted machine, the select troops brought their weapons to bear.
“Fire!” Stieglitz ordered.
The cavern was filled with the cacophony of automatic rifles, firing until their magazines were empty. In mere seconds, democracy died. Standing next to the general, Mendoza, staggered, struggled to remain upright.
“Steady, soldier,” Stieglitz put out a hand to support his young aid. She looked to him, eyes wide with horror and incomprehension.
“What…what just happened, Sir?” she asked, her voice cracking.
“The second American revolution,” he said, “When you look back at this moment, when you tell your grandchildren about it, know that I did this for you.”
She shook her head, still struggling to put it all together.
“But, Sir,” she said, looking to the dead and dying senators and quickly looking away, “You killed them.”
“All nations are born in blood, Mendoza.”
Before she could reply, Stieglitz turned to address the families and staffs of the slain Senators, who cowered before troops now watching them.
“To all the civilians assembled in this room,” he said, in his calm, clear voice, “I offer the following choice: Either swear fealty to the new order, or join the esteemed senators in eternity. Those of you with useful skills will be asked to employ them for the benefit of the community we will be building. The rest of you will be used for labor, or for breeding stock, as needed. I won’t lie to you, you will not be considered full citizens, nor will you be treated as such. Not until you have proven your loyalty and utility.”
He paused, giving them a moment to process what he had said. When some of them showed inquiring looks on their faces, he spoke up again.
"Each of you has an hour to decide. Know that, if you swear loyalty, you are signing up for a lifetime of service, and the duration of that lifetime will depend solely on your good behavior, as will your quality of life. These terms are non-negotiable and subject to change. Once you've decided you can make your decision known to any of my officers, and receive either your housing assignment or a bullet. The choice is yours."
He turned, left the room, and Mendoza followed, their boots echoing in the now empty corridor as they walked back to the elevator.
“Are the hydroponic farms on level five operational yet?” he asked.
“Almost, Sir,” Mendoza replied, consulting her datapad, “The engineers are still stringing the LED lights. But, Sir…”
“Is the power supply up and running?” he asked.
“Yes, Sir, they had a hell of a time getting it down the shaft, and they’re running it at two percent capacity, but that will more than meet our needs. And since we’re pumping the cooling water to the cistern up on One, we’ll have all the hot water we’ll ever want, for showers and stuff. But, Sir…”
Stieglitz sighed.
“What is it, Mendoza?”
“Sir, we just killed the senate,” she said, fighting the tears back, “And enslaved their families. Is that even…constitutional?”
“No,” the general said, “Nor is it right, or moral. But it’s what has to happen. When the main body of rocks fall, American will burn, and America will die, along with the rest of the world. Our only hope, and it’s a thin hope at best, is that she can be reborn. For that to happen, a select group of Americans must survive.”
He gestured to the vast, dimly-lit tunnel that enclosed them.
“To survive like this, with limited resources, and no hope of resupply, for fifty or more generations, will require, courage, sacrifice, and discipline. Do you think men like Shoat possessed any of those qualities?
“No, Sir,” Mendoza said,” I guess they didn’t.”
“Men like him would do nothing but consume resources, and complain when the life support systems broke down, instead of fixing them. They would probably set up courts to sue each other until the air ran out.”
Mendoza stood mute, still grappling with the enormity of what she had witnessed.
“Men like Shoat will not inherit the Earth,” Stieglitz continued, “Your descendants will.”
“Mine, Sir?” Mendoza asked, “What about you?”
“I’m only the midwife of the new order,” he said, “I have no place in it. My last task is to go back to the surface and send down more troops, the youngest and the fittest, to fill the ranks and build the new world. And then to dynamite the entrance, sealing it from desperate survivors.”
“Please, Sir,” Mendoza begged, “Stay. Lead us. I…we need you.”
He shook his head, reached into his jacket, and withdrew an envelope.
“These are my final orders. Give them to Colonel Barret. Serve her as well as you have served me, and I’ll know the future is in good hands.”
“I will,” she vowed,” I just wish…”
He opened the gate of the huge elevator and stepped inside.
“Mendoza,” he said, reaching to touch her cheek, “I never married, but I would have been proud to have you as a granddaughter.”
“I would have been proud,” she said, fighting to control her voice, “To have been…anything you needed me to be.”
She saluted him one last time, and he returned it. Then he pushed the up button, and the elevator carried him toward his destiny. He had a debt to pay.
End.



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Post Date: 18th Sep, 2016 - 6:09am / Post ID: #

Page 17 KenGreen Blog

FOR THE GOOD OF US ALL
By Ken Green
“And that’s the last of the helicopters, sir,” Corporal Mendoza said, gazing at her datapad.
General Stieglitz took a moment to study his aide. Recruited fresh out of high school, young enough to be his granddaughter, she exemplified everything that made a good soldier. Standing on the brink of oblivion, she showed no emotion other than the desire to fulfill her duty.
So young. So full of potential. Such a damned waste.
“Then let’s get the last of the senators to safety,” he said. Not waiting for a response, he started walking toward the chopper, and Mendoza fell into step with him. Overhead, meteors blazed across the sky, as if to remind them the deadline was near.
Soon, within days, a week at most, the meteors would be too many to count, and the sky would burn, making the Earth’s surface uninhabitable. When that day arrived, the population of the United States would drop to zero.
The surface population, that is.
The Homestake mine, in the South Dakota foothills, would be the site of America's sole hope for a future. The area had been quickly nationalized by an act of Congress and cordoned off by the military. Although the underground complex was vast, it could accommodate only the tiniest fraction of the American public. The nation's lawmakers were faced with a terrible choice: who would be saved? In the end, they all agreed on the only possible course: they chose to save themselves, along with their families, closest friends, and mistresses.
Stieglitz and Mendoza reached the helicopter as Senator Shoat, of Georgia extracted himself, with some help from his entourage. The porcine politician grinned as he saw the soldiers, and snapped a quick salute, using the wrong hand.
Stieglitz returned the salute.
“Senator,” he said, “If you follow us, we’ll get you to safety.”
Shoat’s smile turned into a frown as he glanced down at the state of his thousand dollar shoes.
“Why is it so muddy here?” he bitched.
“The meteors have been warming the atmosphere, sir, adding more energy, It’s playing hell with the weather,” Mendoza said, then blushed, as she had spoken out of place, “That’s what the scientists are saying, anyway.”
Unseasonal rains had soaked the mine site, and the tires of innumerable supply trucks had churned the mud into a morass.
“Science,” Shoat scoffed, “Look what good that’s done us. That tired old ‘climate change’ hoax is probably what brought these damned space rocks down on us. Still, it’s not all bad. At least the apocalypse will solve the race problem.”
“Sir?” Mendoza asked.
“No more races, no more problem,” the senator laughed, “The future will belong to those who deserve it.”
He turned toward the perimeter fence. On the other side of it, civilians clamored, begging for their children to be saved, held at bay by security troops.
“That’s right, you losers,” he screamed to the crowd, “You’re all going to die. I’ll be eating caviar while you burn to death. Serves you right, for being born poor!”
“Let’s get you underground, Senator,” Stieglitz said. They made their way toward the entrance, followed by aides and interns carrying luggage. As they reached the mine entrance, they were joined by an honor guard of Stieglitz’s senior staff, who accompanied them to the large personnel elevator. They all boarded, the elevator descended one level, then stopped.
“Aren’t we going all the way down?” the senator asked.
“Not just yet,” Stieglitz said, “We have something special planned.”
The elevator gate opened, and the general lead the procession to an enormous equipment depot that had recently been converted to a reception hall. There, the rest of the Senate stood and mingled with the feigned camaraderie of a class reunion. Stieglitz’s men stood by, ready to serve.
Eagerly, Shoat wandered into the crowd.
“If I could get everybody’s attention,” the general called out, his voice even more commanding in the vast chamber, “Dinner will be served shortly, but first, we need you all to line up for a group photo.”
It took some doing to get a body of officials that had made their careers by not cooperating to line up properly, but eventually the lawmakers were assembled into an orderly, tight formation, with their backs against the far wall.
“That’s very good,” Stieglitz said in his relaxed but commanding voice, “Before we proceed, my men would like to express their respect for all of you.”
“Could we just get on with it?” Senator Shoat called out from the crowd.
“It’ll all be over soon, I assure you,” the general said, with a smile. Stieglitz gestured, and even more of his select men, men who had served with him for years, some for decades, strode into the chamber, dressed in full battle gear, their rifles at the ready. They formed up in an orderly line facing the elected officials.
Stieglitz glanced at his men, beamed with pride, and thought about the ones that weren’t there. Men and women who had served under him, and had paid the ultimate price, dying for a country they had believed in. Soldiers he had sent into battle, knowing many would not return, battles and wars waged not for honor or country, but to further the careers of those who would never know the fear, pain, or deprivations war.
He felt the terrible weight of debt settle on him and vowed that this day he would begin to pay it. He took a deep breath.
“Present arms!” he bellowed.
Moving as one, like the parts of a finely crafted machine, the troops brought their weapons to bear.
“Fire!” Stieglitz ordered.
The cavern rang with the cacophony of automatic rifles, firing until their magazines were empty. In mere seconds, democracy died. Standing next to the general, Mendoza, staggered, struggled to remain upright.
“Steady, soldier,” Stieglitz put out a hand to support his young aid. She looked to him, eyes wide with horror and incomprehension.
“What…what just happened, Sir?” she asked, her voice cracking.
“The second American revolution,” he said, “When you look back at this moment, when you tell your grandchildren about it, know that I did this for you.”
She shook her head, still struggling to put it all together.
“But, Sir,” she said, looking at the dead and dying senators and quickly looking away, “You killed them.”
“All nations are born in blood, Mendoza.”
Before she could reply, Stieglitz turned to address the families and staffs of the slain Senators, who cowered before troops now watching them.
“To all the civilians assembled in this room,” he said, in his calm, clear voice, “I offer the following choice: Either swear fealty to the new order, or join the esteemed senators in eternity. Those of you with useful skills will be asked to employ them for the benefit of the community we will be building. The rest of you will be used for labor, or for breeding stock, as needed. I won’t lie to you, you will not be considered full citizens, nor will you be treated as such. Not until you have proven your loyalty and utility.”
He paused, giving them a moment to process what he had said. When some of them showed inquiring looks on their faces, he spoke up again.
"Each of you has an hour to decide. Know that, if you swear loyalty, you are signing up for a lifetime of service, and the duration of that lifetime will depend solely on your good behavior, as will your quality of life. These terms are non-negotiable and subject to change. Once you've decided, you can make your decision known to any of my officers, and receive either your housing assignment or a bullet. The choice is yours."
He turned, left the room, and Mendoza followed, their boots echoing in the now empty corridor as they walked back to the elevator.
“Are the hydroponic farms on level five operational yet?” he asked.
“Almost, Sir,” Mendoza replied, consulting her datapad, “The engineers are still stringing the LED lights. But, Sir…”
“Is the power supply up and running?” he asked.
“Yes, Sir, they had a hell of a time getting it down the shaft, and they’re running it at two percent capacity, but that will more than meet our needs. And since we’re pumping the cooling water to the cistern up on level one, we’ll have all the hot water we’ll ever want, for showers and stuff. But, Sir…”
Stieglitz sighed.
“What is it, Mendoza?”
“Sir, we just killed the Senate,” she said, fighting the tears back, “And enslaved their families. Is that even…constitutional?”
“No,” the general said, “Nor is it right, or moral. But it’s what has to happen. When the big rocks fall, American will burn, and America will die, along with the rest of the world. Our only hope, and it’s a thin hope at best, is that she can be reborn. For that to happen, a select group of Americans must survive.”
He gestured to the vast, dimly-lit tunnel that enclosed them.
“To survive like this, with limited resources, and no hope of resupply, for fifty or more generations, will require, courage, sacrifice, and discipline. Do you think men like Shoat possessed any of those qualities?”
“No, Sir,” Mendoza said,” I guess they didn’t. But…”
“Men like him would do nothing but consume resources, and complain when the life support systems broke down, instead of fixing them. They would probably set up courts to sue each other until the air ran out.”
Mendoza stood mute, still grappling with the enormity of what she had witnessed.
“Men like Shoat will not inherit the Earth,” Stieglitz continued, “Your descendants will.”
“My descendants, Sir?” Mendoza asked, “I thought I was supposed to go topside. To die with the rest.”
“No, Mendoza, you are going to stay down here and survive. That’s an order.”
“What about you, Sir?”
“I’m only the midwife of the new order,” he said, “I have no place in it. My last task is to go back to the surface and send down more troops, the youngest and the fittest, to fill the ranks and build the new world. And then to dynamite the entrance, sealing it from desperate survivors.”
“Please, Sir,” Mendoza begged, “Stay. Lead us. I…we need you.”
He shook his head, reached into his jacket, and withdrew an envelope.
“These are my final orders. Give them to Colonel Barret. Serve her as well as you have served me, and I’ll know the future is in good hands.”
“I will,” she vowed,” I just wish…”
He opened the gate of the elevator and stepped inside.
“Mendoza,” he said, “You’re a good soldier. I never married, but I would have been proud to have you as a granddaughter.”
“I would have been proud,” she said, fighting to control her voice, “To have been…anything you needed me to be.”
She saluted him one last time, and he returned it. Then he pushed the up button, and the elevator carried him toward his destiny. He had a debt to pay.
End.



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Post Date: 25th Sep, 2016 - 10:16am / Post ID: #

KenGreen Blog - Page 17

About 2200 words
POET IN RESIDENCE
By Ken Green
The’95 Neon threw a rod just outside Crab Cove. As soon as she heard the first bang, Angel turned the wheel to guide the car off the road. She parked it on the leaf-strewn shoulder as it pounded out its death throes, the engine noisily tearing itself apart.
“I’m sorry,” she said, as she grabbed her backpack and stepped out, “You deserved a better owner than me. You should have had a family that loved you.”
With a heavy heart, Angel shouldered the backpack, went to the back of the car, opened the trunk, and grabbed her suitcase. She dropped her keys on the ground: she’d never need them again. Turning toward the road, she took a moment to look around.
“This place looks like a theme park,” she said, in hushed tones. The dense forest, so bright and green, the fresh, narrow, asphalt road, and the too-perfect blue sky made her feel like she was in a Disney movie.
“Creepy,” she said, and started walking. It was a nice day for it, the soft breeze made fragrant by wildflowers, with just a hint of the sea. Despite her situation, she felt her spirits lifting. It was hard to feel gloomy in such a quiet, pretty place.
But then the police car showed up.
Coming the other way, it slowed to a halt. The window rolled down.
Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. Angel stopped in her tracks and kept her hands at her sides.
“Are you lost, Miss?” the driver called out to her.
“Do you mean physically, or spiritually?” she called back. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Don’t be clever with cops. Cops don’t like clever Mexicans.
“Would you mind stepping over here, Miss?”
“Not at all,” she muttered, and walked to the car.
She stood while he looked her up and down.
“Could I see some ID?” he asked.
“It’s in my jacket pocket,” she said, keeping her voice steady, “I’ll have to reach for it.”
“Go ahead,” he said, waiting.
She reached into her jacket, wishing she hadn’t worn her low-cut top. Fishing her wallet out, she found her driver’s license and handed it over.
He read it.
“Thank, you, Miss Mendoza,” he said, “This won’t take long.”
He turned and typed her information into the car’s laptop.
She stood, dreading what was about to happen.
“Miss Mendoza,” he said, still looking at the screen, “You have a colorful past. Possession, shoplifting, solicitation for purposes…”
“Please,” she said, “I did my probation. I’m clean now. I’m trying to do right. I even got a job…
“Step to the front of the car, and put your hands on the hood,” he ordered.
“Please,” she said, “I just…”
“Do it,” he said, “Now.”
She did as she was told.
It’s okay. Don’t fight it. He has a gun, he has a badge, he’s going to do what he wants, and you can’t stop him. Do what he says, give him what he wants, it’s better than a bullet. Even if he hurts you, it’s better than a bullet.
He stepped out of the car, leaving the door open.
He puts his hands on her, frisking her.
“You’ve come a long way,” he said, his hands under her jacket, “All the way from Texas. Texas to New York. What is that? A thousand miles? Why, Mendoza? Why did you come such a long way to my sleepy little town? What’s in Crab Cove that you want?”
“Nothing,” she said, “I’m trying to get to Lookout Island.”
“Lookout Island?” he said, taking his hands off her, “Wait. Are you the new Poet?”
“What? Yeah, I won the contest, that’s why I’m here, what does that have to do with anything?” she asked.
“Seriously?” he asked, “You’re the Poet?”
“I can show you the letter if you want. Can I turn around now?”
“Yeah, sure.”
She turned to face him and produced the letter.
“ ‘Dear Miss Mendoza,’ ”, he read aloud, “ ‘We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected as the new poet in residence…”
“I’ve already read it,” Angel said, “A lot.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you were the Poet?” he asked, “The whole town has been waiting for you!”
“They have?”
“Get in the car,” he said, “I’ll drive you to town.”
“Okay,” she said, “Do you want me in the front or the back?”
“The front seat, of course,” he said, “I’m not arresting you. Arrest the Poet? That’ll be the day. I have to live in this town.”
He helped her with her bags, tossing them in the back seat. She sat in the passenger seat, and he drove her to Crab Cove’s town square. She gazed at the quaint little town. It looked like a 1950’s utopia, with its white clapboard shops and litter-free streets. They stopped at a grocery store.
“We’re going shopping now?” Angel asked.
“You’re going to need supplies,” Sheriff said, getting out of the car, “Besides, Flo is dying to meet you.”
“She is?” Angel asked, “Okay, sure.” I’ll try not to disappoint her.
The bell, a real bell, dinged as they walked in. A large woman looked up from behind the cash register.
“Flo,” Sheriff said, “Meet Angel Mendoza, the new Poet.”
Flo’s face lit up like a little girl who just got a pony for Christmas. She bustled out from behind the counter, and hurried toward Angel for a closer look.
“Oh, my goodness!” she said, “You’re so pretty! You just stay right there, I’ll get you all set up!”
I’m pretty? When did that happen? Set up for what?
Flo grabbed a cart and headed for the toiletries aisle.
“Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap…” she threw items into the basket, on an ecstatic shopping spree, “Q-tips, cotton balls…” she paused, and looked at Angel, “Do you need special shampoo? I know black girls have special shampoo. Do I need to order Mexican shampoo?”
“Whatever you have is fine, I’m sure,” Angel said, not sure what to make of Flo.
“I can order anything you need,” Flo said, “You just tell me, I’ll get it.”
She went back to her task.
“Toilet paper, these for your monthlies…” she went to the next aisle, “Cookies, candy, in case you want to snack at night, coffee, tea…”
She went on like that until the cart was overflowing, then, with the help of a bagboy, started bagging everything up.
“Wow,” Angel said, gazing at the enormity of the unexpected bounty, and reaching for her wallet, “I don’t know that I have enough money for all this.”
“Money?” Flo looked at her brow furrowed, “What are you talking about? You’re not paying for this.”
“What?” Angel said, “That’s crazy. Let me see how much I have and…”
“Put that wallet away,” Flo said, “You’re the Poet. You don’t need money. Not in this town.”
“But, okay…” she put the wallet away. Flo and the bagboy finished bagging everything up, then with the Sheriff’s help, they hustled the groceries to Sheriff’s car. When Angel tried to pick up a bag, Flo slapped her hand.
What? The Poet doesn’t even carry her own groceries? This is insane. Who died and made me a princess?
They had everything loaded up when Flo announced that she had forgotten something and rushed back into the store, telling Sheriff not to leave yet.
“Sheriff,” Angel asked, “Why did that crazy lady just give me half her store?”
“That’s the deal,” Sheriff said, “You protect the town, and the town provides for you. Food, clothing, shelter, everything.”
“Wow,” Angel said, “I thought I just got free housing. Wait. What do you mean, ‘I protect the town’?”
Sheriff was about to answer when a brand-new Jeep Cherokee pulled into a nearby parking space. A quartet of girls piled out. Angel had no idea what their names were, but she knew exactly who they were: the bitch brigade. Every school has one, a small cadre of rich, pretty, popular girls who rule for some reason.
“What do have there, Sheriff, did you catch an illegal alien?” Asked the apparent leader, a pretty brunette with an ugly attitude.
“Whitney,” Sheriff said, “This is Angel, our new Poet.”
Flo emerged from the store, another bag of groceries in her arms.
“I didn’t know what kind of ice cream you like,” she said, “So I got you one of every flavor.”
Whitney strutted over to Angel, cocked her hips, and gave her a long, appraising look.
“Poet, huh?” she sneered, “She doesn’t look like much to me. Show us something Poet, let’s see what you’ve got.”
“Back off, Whitney,” Sheriff said, “She’s the Poet, and she doesn’t need to prove anything…”
“It’s okay, Sheriff,” Angel said, “Whitney’s right. If I’m going to call myself the Poet, I should able to back it up.” I might not know anything else, but I know one thing for sure. If I back down before this bitch I’ll be paying for it as long as I stay here.
Angel rolled her shoulders back, and leaned forward until her face was inches from Whitney’s.
“Do you want to see what I’ve got?” she asked, her voice low and deadly.
“Yeah,” Whitney said, “Impress me.”
Angel narrowed her eyes, took a breath, found her beat.
“Little girl, in Big Sis’s clothes,
Walking ‘round, looking’ down your nose,
The things you say, they ain’t right and or fair,
But you got nothin’, you’re full of air.”

She stood, waiting for Whitney to jump in with a stanza of her own. But Whitney just stood there, bewildered. Come on, Whitney. Fight back. Isn’t that how this works?
Still, Whitney said nothing, just stood there with her mouth open.
Fine. Stand there and take it.

“You think you’re the queen of this whole town?
Then I’m the empress, and you’re going down.
I’ll knock your castle to the ground,
You’re no queen, you’ll be my hound.”

Again, Angel waited. Again, Whitney said nothing. Instead, she dropped to the ground and crouched on all fours. The other girls all took a discrete step away from her.
Okay, that’s weird. I don’t understand this game, but I think I’m winning. Might as well finish her off.
“That’s right, you cower at my feet.
Use your tongue to clean this street.
Better yet, lie like a rug,
Pray I don’t crush you like a bug.”
Whitney flattened herself onto the pavement, shook, and cried.
“Please,” Whitney begged, “Please, Poet. Don’t crush me. I’m sorry.”
“We’re not with her,” the other girls, Whitney’s former companions said, taking more steps away, “We don’t even know her.”
“That’s enough, Poet,” Sheriff said, “Let her go. Please.”
Whitney continued to cry and grovel.
“What are you talking about?” Angel asked, horrified, “I’m not doing this.”
“Yes, Poet, you are,” Flo said, “Your rhymes have power here. Don’t you know that?”
“I don’t know anything!” Angel said, “I don’t understand any of this!”
“When you speak in rhyme, or sing, things happen,” Flo explained, “Your words work like magic spells.”
“My words?” Angel asked, “That’s crazy. You’re talking about magic isn’t real.”
“It’s real here,” Flo said, “And you have the gift.”
“No,” Angel said, “This is impossible. I don’t have any power, I’m nobody.”
“Are you?” Flo asked, and gestured toward Whitney.
“Please, Poet,” Whitney begged.
“Are you going to do something about that?” Flo asked.
“Of course,” Angel said, then squatted, touching Whitney’s shoulder.
“It’s okay, Whitney, you can get up now. I release you, I guess.”
Whitney stayed on the ground, still shaking.
“Not like that,” Flo said, “You bound her with a poem, you must release her with another one.”
“Right,” Angel said, “That makes sense.”
She stroked Whitney’s hair. The girl shied from her touch, sobbing gently.

“Whitney, girl, get off the floor,
No need to cry, not one tear more.
I punished you with heavy hand,
Forgive me, I didn’t understand.

Let us put this in our past
Let’s make a peace, and make it last.
Let this rift betwixt us end,
Shake my hand, and be my friend.”

Angel reached down, offered her hand.
“On the ground is not your place,
Stand up where I can see your face.
Wipe those from your pretty eyes,
Get up on your feet, arise!”

With one last sob, Whitney accepted Angel’s hand and stood. She wiped the dust from her hands.
“Are we good here?” Angel asked.
“Yeah,” Whitney said, swallowing hard, glancing at the spot where she had been, “I won’t give you any more trouble. Ever.”
She turned and walked away. Her friends went to comfort her, but she waved them off. She climbed into her jeep, and they followed.
“Oh, no,” she said, “You said you didn’t know me. You can all walk home.”
She started the jeep and drove away. The others shrugged and walked away.
“Well, that was…kind of weird…” Angel said.
“You could have killed her,” Flo said.
“And you could have included more information in the acceptance letter,” Angel said.
“If we had, would you have come?” Sheriff asked, “We couldn’t take that risk. We need you.”
End.



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