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The prompt for #WOW555 this week deals with the timeless nature of death and I took a far different tack than I normally take. This week, I wrote about a condemned prisoner getting ready to die. He has become comfortable with the inevitable nature of death and finds humor that others don’t. I also used poetry as the way to convey it – even though it’s non-rhyming…
Ready for Forever
Staring at the wall
Gray, flat, boring.
I sit on my bed and wonder
“Is there anything more?”
Some never know
Some see him come
“Which would be better”
I thought with a smile
“How could we compare?”
And then I frowned and pondered
“What if there’s a place to do that?”
I started laughing
Lightly at first
But then enough to annoy
And the guards came running
To see what I had done
They saw me with a silly smile
And scowled at me.
“Hey boy! Whatcha doin there?”
They wouldn’t understand
They couldn’t see him like I could
They would be surprised
I’d be seeing him soon.
I didn’t fear him anymore
I was at peace
Funny that I would be
And they would be so troubled.
It’s funny how
Makes it easier to accept
While ignorance breeds fear
“Then stop the laughing!”
They broke into my thoughts
I turned to them and smiled
They recoiled as if in danger
“I know,” I said
“I’m meeting death tonight.
While you have no clue
When you will too.”
Death takes all
He is not biased
No matter the color
No matter how good or bad
I would soon have
And be introduced
Face to face
I wonder if
I’ll slip away
And be welcome
At the party forever
This week’s #WOW555 prompt was write from the perspective of a character who is not free while others are celebrating their independence and, at the same time, they somehow become reunited with someone unexpected. Especially given the recent discussion on the Confederate Flag issue, my thoughts were drawn to the Confederacy. Let’s be honest: I grew up in the north. While not seeking to absolve the north of racism, because we had plenty of it, when I moved to the south and saw Confederate flags (before the internet mind you) they were usually on bumper stickers that said, “The South’s gonna do it again!” or some other such language. All I could think of was, “What? The South is gonna fight a losing war for a horrible idea again?” (To those who would argue the concept of “state’s rights” for this issue, let me refer you to this link.) The setting of the story is some southern plantation in March 1861 after the Constitution of the Confederacy was adopted.
That being said, I had a very difficult time with this story for many reasons; not the least of which was my use of language that I abhor. It was used because of an attempt to be as authentic as possible for the setting of the story.
“Oh Clyde, more wine. My guests’ glasses are almost empty and I’d like to make a special toast,” my master said.
I nodded demurely and quickly refilled the glasses. Years of self-preservation had taught me to avoid revealing my emotions, so the anger didn’t show. “Yes Marse Johnson,” I said.
He looked at me and sniffed contemptuously. “Gentlemen! This day will live in history. Today with the adoption of the Constitution, you will be able to tell your grandchildren that you were here at the birth of the Confederacy. To freedom!” He raised his glass and drank deeply. They all applauded.
I kept my feelings in check. Anything else could have brought me a severe whipping – or worse. James, who had held my job previously, got whipped because he didn’t look happy enough when he was serving Marse Johnson dinner one night. The next night, I had the job. I made sure that Marse Johnson thought I was happy.
I had missed some of what Marse Johnson had been saying. “…now take Clyde here…” he said.
“Yassir?” I asked.
Marse Johnson looked me, disgusted at first and then he laughed. “See what I mean? These niggers can’t understand how to get along in day to day living. If we freed them like the Yankees want they’d be in a sorry state without us. Ain’t that right, boy?” He stared at me, waiting for an answer.
“Yassir,” I said, glad that my skin hid the shame I was feeling. “Thank you for taking such good care of me, sir,” I added. I hoped they wouldn’t note my sarcasm.
Marse Johnson didn’t think I was capable of sarcasm. He smiled smugly. “That’s a good boy. I’ll take care of you, boy.” He looked at the others. “The cheapest way to get more niggers is to let them breed among themselves.” He turned back to me. “Clyde, I’ve bought you a wife.” He motioned towards the door as a frightened black girl less than half my age was shoved through.
I recognized her. I fought my emotions. Marse Johnson went over to her and pulled her head up roughly so that she had to look at me. “I’m gonna call you Tonya. Look at your new husband, Tonya. I want you to have lots of babies for me.” He laughed.
Her eyes widened as she recognized me. My look warned her to be quiet. She was so young that she hadn’t developed any defenses yet.
“Well, Clyde, what do you say? Shall we show your new bride off to my friends?”
I knew what he had in mind. “Sir, she’s new. I would hate for her to embarrass you. Please allow me to train,” I almost slipped, “uh… her so that you may present her properly.”
Marse Johnson smiled. “Good sense for a nigger, Clyde. Go ahead. My friends and I will talk so we don’t need you right now. Take your bride to your room and start the training.”
“Yassir,” I said, trying to avoid trembling. I walked away holding Tonya by the elbow. As soon as we were out of earshot I whispered to her, “Never tell anyone that I’m your father. I’ll figure something out!”
Of course, I don’t know of anything like this actually happening. That being said, the horrendous way families were broken up in the slave trade, I can imagine this being possible. I can even imagine that something like this could have happened without anyone recognizing it.
This week’s prompt is designed to show joy. Specifically, “to provide some expression of joy.” My main character this week experiences joy in the “normal” everyday experiences in life. Some back story is needed – but I’ll wait til the end for that. In the meanwhile, look for the voting to go live on Saturday morning!
There was nothing more that John enjoyed than playing with his grandchild; well his wife’s grandchild that is. He held the two year old up in the air and smiled at his squeals.
“Put me down, pawpaw, put me down!” he laughed.
Finally, John gave into the demands and put him down. He was glad to be able to play with Freddy while Mary was out. “Mary,” he mused a bit and then laughed out loud. Only the family knew who Mary really was; it had taken a lot of name changes for her and the family to feel safe. Finally, life was normal.
The tug on his shirt brought him back to the moment. The two year old’s blue eyes shone brightly as he looked up at John. “Play hide n seek!” he insisted.
John laughed. “Ok. You go hide. But stay in the yard!” Freddy always hid in the same place when they played. He covered his eyes and counted out loud to ten. “Ready or not, here I come!” He looked around the yard as if he didn’t know where Freddy was. The giggles gave him away.
Then he saw three suits. He hoped they were Feds. They wouldn’t do anything in front of Freddy. Freddy didn’t realize that there was anything wrong. John picked him up and gave him a hug and kissed his cheeks. He turned around, displaying Freddy to the suits. He hoped that if they were mob they would respect family.
He’d been expecting this since he had heard that Morelli was singing. He had hoped he was safe, they found him anyway. While he was displaying Freddy, one of the suits pulled back his jacket to show his gun. Feds. They didn’t want him to try anything. He breathed a sigh of relief.
He sat down still holding Freddy. He motioned for the Feds to join him. “How can I help?” He asked, wondering which murders they were going to pin on him. Then he looked at Freddy and said, “Freddy, go play in the sand box for a few minutes.”
The lead Fed smiled as Freddy ran past, then she got serious. “Aldo Rossi, we want to question you in the murder of Frances Johnson.”
“You do?” he asked with a smile. He knew that Mary would be home any minute now. She would finally learn this part of the truth. “Freddy!” he called. “Come on back! Let’s go inside and wait for Nana.” Freddy ran to him. He turned to the Feds. “We’ll be more comfortable inside. Besides, you need to meet my wife.”
The Feds looked at each other and shrugged not understanding why Aldo was enjoying this so much. They followed him inside and sat down. “My wife should be here soon.”
The car pulled up in the driveway and Mary carried two bags of groceries in the door. She stopped when she saw the suits. “John?” she looked at him with a raised eyebrow.
“They know my real name, Mary. They just don’t know yours. Introduce yourself to these agents.”
She looked at him and he smiled and nodded. “Hi, I’m Frances Johnson. And you are?”
They would have a lot to talk about later.
So, the back story: John, aka Aldo Rossi, is a retired hit man. In fact, his wife Mary, aka Frances Johnson, was supposed to be his last contract. (Why would be a whole nother story.) While he was researching and preparing for the kill, he began to realize some of her fabulous qualities. He couldn’t make the kill and so decided then and there to get to know her personally and find a way to save her. Thus, the marriage, the name changes, and retirement from the hit man’s union. Imagine the amusement of John when the Feds want to talk with him about the murder of the only contract he didn’t fulfill; the person whom he actually married.
Ok, less than two hours to go to vote for your favorite story. What? You haven’t read them all? Well go to Write on Wendy’s and read all four stories, then vote for your favorite. Let’s make this #WOW555 voting one of the best turnouts ever!
The time to vote on the weak moments story theme is upon us! Please head on over to Wendy’s place (Write on Wendy), read the 5 stories and then vote! All the likes here are appreciated, but your votes over there count! 😀
So, after a week when I couldn’t come up with anything for the #WOW555 contest, I came up with something. How good is it? Well, that will be for you to decide! For this week’s prompt, your story must feature a strong woman in a moment of weakness. Check here for the latest updates, stories and the opportunity to vote! Please note that liking my story here will not count as a vote! You must go to Wendy’s place (see above link) and vote sometime between 8:00 Saturday morning and 6:00 Sunday night.
Mary hated cleaning. She looked at the mess and sighed. She’d need a while to clean up this mess. “Oh well,” she thought, “better get started. Then I can get out of here.” She looked under the kitchen sink and found the cleaning supplies. The worst stain was in the living room and she attacked that first. She started scrubbing and realized it would need to soak so she headed back to the kitchen and spot cleaned the drips on the kitchen floor.
She rinsed her rag and headed back into the living room to finish cleaning that stain, then stood up and grabbed at her back. It was a bit sore from the cleaning and she still had more to do. She headed towards the hall closet. The vacuum cleaner was ready and waiting. She pulled it out of the closet and turned it on. She almost didn’t hear the phone ring over the roar of the vacuum cleaner.
She turned off the vacuum cleaner and headed to her purse. She looked at the number on the phone and grimaced. Some clients were just so impatient. “Yes, John. I’m finished. All I have left is some cleaning.” She rolled her eyes at his response. “All I can say is that you’re the one calling me. I should be able to meet you in an hour so you can pay.” She tapped her foot. She didn’t like wasting time. If she had known he was going to be this much trouble, she would have charged double. “Of course I’ll let you see my handiwork. You’re dealing with a professional.” She stifled her laughter. “No, you don’t want to get me mad, that’s right. See you in an hour.”
She looked at the phone in disgust and went back to vacuuming. This place looked like it had seen a fight. That wouldn’t do. She vacuumed and straightened up as she walked through the living room and kitchen. Finally, the apartment was cleaned to her satisfaction. She carefully placed the cleaning supplies back under the sink. Then she took the vacuum cleaner and emptied it into her garbage bag before putting it back in the closet. She hated having to take the trash with her, but it did prevent complications.
“Now, to make final arrangements,” she thought. She looked at John’s former business partner sitting quietly on the couch. She looked around the area and smiled; nothing made it look like he had been dragged across the floor and placed there. She pulled the note out of her purse and looked at it, trying to find the best place to put it. Then she gasped. The note was written by a left hander. She had forgotten that he was left handed and shot him through right temple. She blinked back the tears that began to appear unbidden. She swore at herself. “All that work,” she said out loud. “All that work and they’ll know right away that he didn’t kill himself!” She picked up the trash, stomped out the door and headed to her car. She wouldn’t have time to stay in the city and savor her kill this time.