Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tuesday Prompt


Stock photo via stock.xchng


  1. "I get here early, and all the good seats are always taken! Darn the luck!"

  2. My first thought was, "Where am I going to put my kool-aid?"

    Then I realized we'd all be downing it so quickly there would be no need to awkwardly maneuver my drink, purse, and whatever else, while still attempting to mingle and shake hands.

    I sat down at a rickety chair in the back. So much for broading my social circles.

  3. Walt - you are way too funny for your own good! hehe

  4. “Next slide, please.”

    The machine whrrrrr’ed softly and the view changed. The class whispered and mumbled to each other as they stared at the screen on the front wall.

    “Any ideas?” asked the instructor.

    “Dirty bomb?” said one girl.

    “Good guess, but no,” responded the instructor.

    “An artist conceptualizing the lack of student intellect presence in a classroom.” This was a statement rather than a question. It came from a classmate of the girl’s. The boy spoke in a mock-serious tone. A few students snickered.

    “Nice try, Garretson, but no, again - although you are a bit closer to the truth.”

    “I know what it is,” said another fellow in the class.

    “Yes, Terry?” asked the instructor.

    “It was the seats where an orchestra – or rather, a small musical band - once played. It was - ” Terry’s voice faltered slightly.

    “Go on.”

    The students all became silent. After a little cough, Terry continued.

    “The musicians were playing a concert. In a small field somewhere in Auschwitz. Their captors – the Nazis - had organized the group to play for their own entertainment. On this one afternoon, one of the officers commanded them to play a song which he had written himself which ostensibly glorified what they – the Nazis, that is - were doing – and the band refused. The musicians were all shot.”

    There was a collective gasp from the classroom.

    “Ummm, you are quite right, Terry – but tell me: how do you know about this photograph? Have you seen it somewhere before? It’s only recently come to light, you know.”

    “I know,” said Terry. “The photo, and ones similar to it - yes, there are several, actually – were taken by a camp officer. Chances are, he was fairly proud of his work, too, given the general tenor of things back then. The event (this Terry said with growing angry sarcasm) happened near the end of the war. The photos were only recently released by some family members to the museum. For historical purposes and research.

    “And something else: if you could zoom in closer on this photo, Mr. Taggert, I believe you probably can still see traces of bloodstains on some of the chairs.”

    The classroom was dead silent. All eyes were on Terry. The instructor repeated his question. “But how do you know about this photograph?”

    “Because the camp officer who took the pictures of all those empty chairs was my great grandfather.”

  5. Amber - welcome - and great story! Kool aid? Brrrrrr,

  6. "Quentin said there was this place...a way station. Do you know of it?"

    The old codger wiped his hands in his haggard beard, a thoughtful swipe. He stared at me for a brief eternity, wondering if my question was an interrogation.

    "Well, you know Quentin," the Keeper began, "said a lot of wild things. Said we was goin' to hell. Always drummin' up some noise about this here rapture."

    "What do you know of this...rapture? Do you believe?" I continued.

    "Don't know what I believe. Ever since the Creed was declared, I ain't been sure of nothin'."

    "But what is this place then? All these chairs.
    Quentin spoke of this too. That this was..." I was interrupted by the old man, completing my thought.

    "...this was where the angels came? Quentin was censured by the committee. Shouldn't have been speakin' his mind like that, I'll tell you!"

    "Why do you just sit here old man? What is your purpose?", I asked, making the first query of interrogation.

    "I am just minding my mind" he replied. "You sought me out, Intellectual! "

    He saw it. Through my wrapping and gilding, the Keeper saw it. The Intellectuals were the first to depart. Quentin was an Intellectual. Our ilk
    posed a threat. The geezer knew.

    "Did I miss it?" I asked of the rapture.

    The Keeper's grin was ominous. His laugh hideous. I simply grasped his cloak to establish control. His neck snapped with the slightest of pressure.

    Quentin always spoke the rapture; of us going to hell. I propped the limp shell of a man into one of the chairs, and prayed we weren't desolate.
    For I was not sure if we were too late for the
    exit, or bound here to this hell. Either way, I was screwed.

  7. Walt - you are a master of voice! Excellent! I got a chill reading your story.

  8. Thanks RJ. As I've said earlier, I'm finding a new voice here and it is scary and satisfying in the same breath. The first attempt was a quick caption, but the second is what that photo said to me. Just wasn't sure how to put it into words.

  9. BTW, RJ, I loved your story as well. My family is originally from an area in Poland called Oswiecim-Bzerzinka (German names: Auschwitz-Berkenau). The tragedy plays out too well here. Riveting interpretation.

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  11. Walt - I think you have an uncanny way with the words and the voice you give to your poems and to your prose. Just when I think I've gotten who you are as a writer, you turn around and show another side of you, which is really intriguing to me (both as writer and as reader.)

    I too had family from Poland, Austria and Russia. The borders have changed over time however, and what was once is now something else, as I'm sure you know.

    An aunt and a sister of my grandfather both died in Auschwitz. I wasn't around for it obviously, but the nightmarish imagination-memory of it haunts.

  12. Yeah...no...I'm bowing out today. Walt and RJ set a mood that I can only spoil. Well done, guys. We're not worthy....

    I'll go play with one of the old prompts that had no comments again... maybe the banana one.

  13. Wendy - you are too funny. Well, if you do write to an earlier prompt, please post which one you used at this date's space, so we can all go and visit you there.


  14. Oh... I already posted on September 26th. I think Walt has been posting on prompts he missed also.

    (That totally sounded like I was narking on Walt. If you'd like, you can imagine me saying it in a snarky voice.)

  15. Nice snark. Sounds good on you! Now I've been busted. Does that mean my poetic license gets revoked?

  16. No, it means you have to go fess up to all the places you've posted. (Sticks tongue out.)

  17. Well, I just thought we didn't cut the mustard if we didn't catch up! My bad form!


    Submissions were posted by me on the following:

    Oct 13: You're here, you already know that!
    Oct 12: Nostradamus knows I was there.
    Oct 11: "Were you bitten...
    Oct 10: ...in response to the apple pic.
    Oct 7: Good Luck
    Oct 6: 3 Word Dinosaur Salad
    Oct 5: "Back to Haunt You"
    Oct 4: "One Seat Left"
    Oct 3: Crazy Saturday
    Sept 22: Picture Prompt

    In that time, I consulted my thesaurus twice, visited the rest room between 116-120 times (discrepancy due to vacuous gaseous emission), had 9 sandwiches (6 fat-free turkey, 2 fat-free ham, and a PBJ, I think), and approximately 397 cups of caffeinated coffee. All future disclosures will verify all other missing posts.
    I have a caning scheduled for 3:30, after which I should be square with the house. Thanks for the prod Wendy. I've been a bad boy!

  19. Hey hey hey. No cutting of the mustard without a warning, please. That's just rude. Gah.

  20. The mustard's fine. Worry about the cheese!

  21. Every night I have this dream, Doc. Well, every night that I can remember. There's this field, Doc, and all these slatback chairs. Just sitting there edging off into the distance toward a high chain fence. Or maybe a bridge. I can't tell Doc, but the chairs are vacant like everyone was disgusted with the performance and walked out Doc, like no one wanted to be there for the bows. And I know if I could see one single chair turned on its side or a footprint in the mud or, or even behind me I would know what everyone is running from. Because you don't leave chairs in a field without a purpose, Doc, you don't. I used to run a theatre house before I joined up Doc and chairs are expensive, ya'know. What does it mean, Doc? What are the empty chairs about?

    do do doo The number you are attempting to reach has been disconnected or is no longer in service. Please hang up and try again. do do doo . . .


  22. “Have a seat,” the sign said. The chairs were haphazardly arranged. There was no defined space, no lines or boundaries. Just chairs, dotting here and there across the ground to the horizon.

    Turk scratched his head underneath his wooly cap. He checked the back of the sign. It was blank. A thin stick of wood with a cross-shaped base to hold it upright. He inspected the nearest chair. It was made of wood, damp with the fog. It smelled of mildew. His buttocks clenched at the thought of settling on that soggy, chilly seat.

    He started walking. The chairs changed, though not uniformly, varying in size, shape, and composition. These were mostly metal and plastic, like a public school classroom. He saw one lonely wooden chair and an overstuffed loveseat which was suffering badly from the effects of exposure.

    There was another sign. He walked until he was on the other side of it. It read, “If all life is a stage, where is the audience?” Turk frowned. The hand-written message looked the same as the other sign. He picked up this one to carry it back and compare them. Something nudged his ankle, and he shouted.

    The wooden chair had come up behind him. He stared at it, clutching the sign.

    Another cardboard notice had been hung on this chair. “Please Be Seated. No Outside Food or Drink.”

    Turk looked in every direction, but all he saw was the rolling heath and the endless chairs. Overhead, the lowering sky hovered, swirling with non-colors, white on white on white. He set the sign down, adjusted his jacket, and carefully settled into the chair. It was strangely warm.

    The chairs all faced one direction on the horizon. Took watched and waited, waited for the show to begin.

  23. BN - didn't see that coming. Yikes. No time for sergeants, eh?

  24. Oh man! I've been at work for what? a few hours and this place has EXPLODED with amazing stories and witty, although at times disgustingly revealing, dialogic exchanges.

    RJ, I bow to you and your story. As I do quite often.
    Amber, B., Walt, Scattercat...exceptionally good stuff! I was caught up in the atmosphere that each one created. Beautiful.

  25. Jake hated working in his mother's restaurant. It wasn't like he got paid. Not really. His mom said that the restaurant put food in his mouth (ha) and clothes on his back, so he should be respectful enough of the family business to help out.

    'Family business.' She owned the place, he worked there. Jake bussed tables, he washed dishes, he put away deliveries, he took out the trash...the restaurant kept him busier than school did. At least he got credit for the work he did in school.

    The last few days, Jake had been in heaven. The restaurant had been closed down because of a fire. When one of the waitresses dropped a tray of fajitas - the kind delivered to the table while on fire - and it ended up doing enough damage that the carpet had to be replaced. To Jake's mom, new carpet meant new drapes, new tablecloths, new silverware...

    The insurance people took their sweet time assessing the damages. Meanwhile, Jake's mom picked out all the new stuff the restaurant just *had* to have. Jake just sat back and enjoyed the first few hassle-free days he'd had in years.

    And then the carpet people came and they needed the tables and chairs moved out of the way. And Jake's mom just happened to notice him lounging around.

    He'd helped move stuff around, alright. Right out the door and strategically placed throughout the field behind the restaurant.

    Jake hoped it would rain on his mother's precious restaurant furniture. He hoped he'd get fired from the job he never wanted.

  26. Wow! I was really curious to see what kind of flash pieces this prompt would inspire and you didn't disappoint! Great stories everyone!

  27. Cari - wonderful! What a great take!

  28. Chairs Forever

    I'm a chair, brown and small
    I used to sit against a wall
    with one like me and a table between us.
    You wouldn't remember us if you'd seen us.

    But one dark night we heard the call
    chair and chair beside the wall.
    A siren song set us in motion
    to throw ourselves lemming-like into the ocean.

    In the sea at dark of night
    stars pricking through their needle light.
    We floated free without a care
    sea and sky and chair and chair.

    Until we fetched up on a shore
    flotsam damp and rather sore.
    The call was stronger more a cry
    and drew us to a field to dry.

    We sat upon the new mown grass
    gazed down at sea now calm as glass
    within it floating to the shore
    a hundred chairs or maybe more.

    I'm a chair, brown and small
    I used to sit against a wall.
    But now I sit amongst my friends
    chairs together without end.

  29. Fantastic poem, Michele! It's strangely touching to think that the chair escaped to go find friends. I feel sentimental for some reason.

    Great story, Cari--very non-fiction-sounding fiction.

  30. Banana! You came to our party too! So cool! And what a wonderfully atmospheric, emotional poems!

    Claps hands.