August 3-9 – Let’s Write a Story Together

typewriter

Let’s Write a Story ~ August 3-9

Let’s Write a Story Together August 3-9

A Rose for Shiva

Mordecai put the final touches on the arrangements and carried the four large vases out to the van parked in back of the shop. “This is it,” he thought to himself, “My big break.” There would be dozens of fabulously wealthy people at the party tonight and when they saw his flower arrangements, he would be “sitting in butter,” in the gauche Midwestern vernacular of his mother. Tonight’s check would pay the rent on the shop, but the connections he’d make would have him on easy street forever. Perfect timing, too, as he just maxed out the last of his credit cards (the Caletheas alone had set him back two-hundred dollars!) and he was living on fumes.

Mordecai was sweating with excitement, even though the shop was so cold he could see his breath. He kept it cold for the flowers, not to mention his inclination toward Italian cashmere sweaters, of which he had a modest collection. Image is important in the flower business and Mordecai refused to look like an American.

Mordecai’s phone rang. It was Skip.

“What’s up?”

“Come to the Scotch Bar!” Skip was drunk.

“I can’t. I’m making a delivery.” He closed the rear doors to the van.

“Travis is here,” said Skip.

After a brief pause, Mordecai said, “I’ll be there in an hour. Keep him there.”

He climbed into the van and placed the card with the address on the dashboard. It was a simple card, just the address to the penthouse apartment and the one-word name embossed in the middle: Shiva. Mordecai thought the single name was a bit pretentious, but had no problem taking the man’s money. He popped a Madonna CD into the player and the phone rang again—Skip could be persistent when he’d had a few. He picked up the phone and saw the name “Vera” on the screen.

“Hey, Mom,” he said. “I’m just about to make a—“

“Don’t go,” she said.

“What?”

“I’ve had a premonition. Massive devastation. Tornadoes filled with flowers.”

“Did you eat a cream pie for dinner again?”

“Well, yes, but that’s not—“

“Mom, I have to go. Feed Penelope for me.”

“We’re out of possum chow.”

“Give her some pie. I gotta go.”

“This is it,” he said out loud as he put the van into gear.

He gunned it down Main Street and took the corner on Stone a bit too fast. He looked to check that the vases were still upright, and as he turned back to the front, he saw someone standing directly in the middle of the street. He slammed on the brakes, stopping inches from a woman dressed as a Geisha: white face, black hair up in a bun, and a flaming red kimono. Her narrowed eyes, only a few feet in front of him, burned into his soul. He wanted her almost as much as he was repulsed by her.

She came over to the window. “Where are you going?” she said.

“Claudine. I was going to call you. I swear.”

“Nice sweater. What does something like that set you back?”

“You got it all wrong. I got this great gig. I’ll make the rent payment just like I said.”

“Don’t make me regret making an arrangement with a florist.”

He looked at her heavily pancaked white face and the small, drawn-on lips and he wanted to take her right there in the street, or run away screaming. He was also thinking it would be nice to have maybe a cinnamon Pop Tart, because he missed lunch.

She turned and walked away, making tiny little steps.

He pulled the van into the loading zone in front of the apartments and gathered the arrangements on his cart. On the sidewalk were two pimpley-faced teenagers wearing matching leather outfits and holding handmade signs: “Plants are People Two” and “flowers are innosint!!!” Mordecai loaded the flowers on his cart and began wheeling past them. “Plucker,” said the young man. Mordecai had dealt with the flower protestors before; it was best to just ignore them. The young woman came up and dumped a small vase of water on Mordecai’s leg.

The wind suddenly came up and tore the signs from their hands. Mordecai barely made it into the foyer before a heavy rain began pouring down. He imagined the teenagers’ wet leather outfits shrinking on to their bodies.

It seemed strange that a nice place like this had no doorman. In the elevator, he pressed the Penthouse button and the doors closed. Nothing happened. He pressed it again and waited. He pressed the Open Door button. Nothing. He noticed three lit spaces and a small keypad next to the Penthouse button. He tried 1-2-3. Nothing. He thought of the card that Shiva had given him, now sitting on the dashboard of the van. He searched for a call button or an alarm button or a camera. He began to sweat. There seemed to be no air in the elevator car. He sat on the floor. He thought of Travis.

Being a florist, Mordecai knew his religions; everything you needed to know was in the Florist Handbook. Shiva. Three-eyed Hindu god. Seven day mourning period in Judaism. He stood up and tried 3-3-3, then 7-7-7, then 3-3-7 and 3-7-7 and, for good measure, 3-4-7. He screamed. The elevator moved.

Mordecai wheeled his cart into the penthouse foyer. A set of double doors opened and there stood an extremely tall, dark-haired man in a terrycloth bathrobe with a large, white snake wrapped around his shoulders.

“Hi,” said Mordecai. “That elevator—is there a code or—“

“This way,” said the man.

“Nice place. Where do you want the—“

“Over here.”

“I brought some business cards.” Mordecai reached into his pocket and turned toward the man, who had reached into his robe and was holding a large, curved knife.

“That’s certainly a big knife,” Mordecai said.

“It’s a Wüsthof,” said Shiva. “Super sharp. Just FALLS through tomatoes.” He reached into the pocket of his robe, pulled out a tomato and demonstrated, the two halves falling to the floor with a sickening plop. “And florists,” he added.

“Hey, wait,” said Mordecai. “I’m just trying to make a living here.”

“You disgust me,” Shiva spat. “You lily-killing, stamen-snapping, dandelion-poacher!”

“Listen man,” Mordecai begged, “the huge snake, the knife, the implied nudity with the whole terrycloth robe thing—can you pull that closed, man? This is way too Freud for me, ok? This is Freud on poppers. This is poppers-Freud backstage at a Prince concert. This is Prince dressed as Freud on poppers, you get me? What have I done to deserve this?”

“Die, Plucker!” Shiva came at him with an overhead strike. Mordecai ducked under the tall man’s swing and ran into the penthouse.

Mordecai leapt over a crystal coffee table and landed atop a white tiger-skin couch. “You don’t understand! I’m an activist, too! I’m saving my earnings to launch an International Talk to the Animals Day. Like for your snake there. For reals. Ask my possum.”

“Your knee-jerk categorization of flowers and snakes as masculine-phallic is part of the reason why what I’m about to do is necessary. The snake is a long-standing feminine symbol, its shape in the global consciousness veers as easily into a circle as it does as something upright at attention,” shouted Shiva, who lunged across the table at Mordecai.

Mordecai dodged again and circled past the maniac. “THE WOMB IS TEMPORARY! THE PHALLUS IS AN ILLUSION! GENDER IS FOR COMMUNISTS!” He dashed back out into the foyer, and realized he was trapped.

Shiva smiled and made his way slowly toward Mordecai. “How does it feel, Plucker? To see the harvester coming?”

Mordecai felt a little pee come out. Then there was a ding and the elevator door opened. An arm clad in a flaming red kimono reached out and pulled him inside.

Mordecai swayed backward and fell to the elevator floor. Shiva lunged forward and slashed the knife wildly in front of him him, screaming, “I’ll get you Plucker!”

The elevator door closed on the blade. And Mordecai looked up at Claudine. “Wow – that was just like in Terminator 2!”

“You’ve pissed your pants,” she said.

He looked down. “That’s the problem with khaki. How did you know I was here?”

“Lucky guess.” She punched at the buttons. “How do you get this thing to work?”

Mordecai got up and screamed and the elevator descended, snapping the blade off the knife, which fell to the carpeted floor. Claudine bent down quickly and tucked the blade inside her kimono.

There was nearly a foot and a half of water on the street and it was still coming down hard. They dashed to the van through the pouring rain and Mordecai started it up. Claudine’s white makeup had nearly washed off and her hair fell down across her shoulder like a rope made of wet, black ferret. “They’re calling it Hurricane Guilermo,” she said. “It came up very suddenly.” Mordecai thought she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. He was also glad that his pants were soaked, leaving no indication of his recent bladder malfunction.

“To the Scotch Bar. Fast,” Claudine said.

They drove, or boated, through the streets until they came to the familiar blue neon sign in front of the Scotch Bar. Mordecai was exhausted, but he had a score to settle with Travis, if that was even his real name. They dashed through the downpour into the dark, smoky interior and there, sitting across from Skip, was Travis.

Mordecai coolly slid into the booth next to Skip, whose face was resting on the table, eyes closed, a string of drool hanging from the side of his mouth.

“Long time no see,” said Mordecai as he stared into Travis’ eyes.

Claudine slid in beside Travis. “Now, Mordecai, there’s something you don’t know,” she said.

“Oh, really? Is it that good old Travis here has been stealing my customers and undercutting my prices?”

“That’s over,” said Travis. “I’m out of the flower game. I got something better, and I want you in on it. In fact, you may not know it, but you’re already in on it.”

“Oh, yeah? Well guess what? I just about got killed a little while ago and you know what I learned? Life is precious. I don’t give a damn if I never make another dime. Screw the flower shop. What’s important are friends,” he put his arm around Skip, who belched, remaining face down on the table, “and true love,” he stood and bent across the table, puckering his lips and leaning toward Claudine, who looked at him quizzically until he sat back down, “wherever it may be.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone showing the screensaver picture of his mother and Penelope the possum. “And family.”

Claudine waved at the server. “Three Scotches,” she said. “Mordecai, you’re going to need a drink when I tell you this next bit.” She reached into her kimono and pulled out the blade of the knife from the elevator. She took it in both hands and wiggled it back and forth like a stick of gum.

“It’s fake!” said Mordecai.

Travis smiled.

“But I saw him cut the tomato—“

“It was already cut. The fake knife was part of the contract,” said Claudine.

“Contract? What contract?”

“Three Scotches,” said the server, and set the glasses on the table.

Mordecai pulled a quarter out of his pocket, bounced it off the table and into his glass, then picked up the glass and drained it. Skip popped his head up, looked around once, and lay back down on the table.

“This is the gig I was telling you about,” said Travis. “We had an arrangement with Mr. Shiva.”

“It’s just Shiva,” said Claudine.

“Are you sure?”

“It’s like Cher or Madonna.”

“Oh, you mean like Prince?”

“I think he’s The Artist Formerly Known as Prince now.”

“No, I’m pretty sure he’s back to just Prince.”

“Oh.”

“So, anyway, Mordecai,” said Travis. “There are people in this town who have certain ‘needs’ that I help them with. Mr. Shiva—“

“Just Shiva.”

“—Shiva likes to role-play a homicidal flower protestor. It’s perfectly harmless.”

“Perfectly harmless!?” Mordecai fished the quarter out of his glass and bounced it into Claudine’s glass, then downed the Scotch in one gulp. He leveled his eyes at Travis. “I was nearly killed.”

“Never a chance,” said Travis. “You were perfectly safe. It’s all in the contract.”

Mordecai picked the quarter out of Claudine’s glass and Travis covered his glass with his hand.

“Could we get three more?” Claudine said to the server.

“And some Pop Tarts,” said Mordecai softly, his eyes still fixed on Travis.

“And some Pop Tarts?” added Claudine. The server nodded.

“So what do you say?” asked Travis. “You want in?”

Mordecai shifted his gaze to Claudine. “Are you in on this?”

She nodded.

“So the geisha outfit…I suppose you were involved in some bizarre sexual—”

She reached across the table and slapped him, then leaned over and gave him a long, wet kiss with lots of tongue. She sat back down and wiped her mouth on the sleeve of her kimono. “Why does everyone think that geisha are prostitutes? I just served some tea.”

Mordecai was reeling. Tonight had been too much. He was on sensory overload. “So you prey on people’s desires and capitalize on them?” he said to the two of them. “You should be ashamed of yourselves. That’s not the American way.”

“Think of it as therapy,” Claudine said.

“It’s a public service,” said Travis. “We’re helping people.”

“You’re sick,” Mordecai said.

“I understand,” said Travis. “Well, no hard feelings. Here’s your cut for tonight.” He reached into his shirt pocket and set down a check, made out to Mordecai, for ten thousand dollars.

Mordecai stared at the check. Skip gurgled. The wind and rain outside had stopped—the hurricane was either over, or they were right in the center of it. He thought of his mother and Penelope, and International Talk to the Animals Day, and Claudine’s lips, and a closet full of Italian cashmere sweaters and the smell of warm cinnamon Pop Tarts.

“Therapy, you say? Therapy’s a good thing.”

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53 thoughts on “August 3-9 – Let’s Write a Story Together

    • “Travis was not a fan of the heat, the heavy humid kind this summer had dumped on the city. His closet was filled with flannel, denim, and corduroy and he had not been out of his midtown apartment in nearly a month. His friends had pretty much written him off, including the only gal he had been obsessing on since the snow melt. She had called him twice with an invite to the beach but had probably moved on. He listened to her voicemail twice a day with regret…”

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Skip Miller is seventeen years old and lives, in the present, with his mother, father, and younger sister on a rural property outside La Pine, Oregon. He comes from a traditional logging family whose work opportunities have dwindled and his father takes odd jobs to supplement their income. Skip is an anomaly to his family’s heritage of rugged physiques, he’s slight, unassertive, and he’s a good student and while most before him did not finish high school, Skip wants to go to college.

    Skip’s father, like his father and grandfathers before him, insists that sons leave home upon turning eighteen to make their way in the world, which historically meant joining a logging crew. Even though that opportunity is no longer viable, Skip’s father, who doesn’t relate well to his studious son, feels his Skip will be forced to toughen up and insists he leave home after his upcoming birthday that occurs in a few months during January of his senior year. His father is also looking forward, in a practical manner, to having one less mouth to feed. His mother is overwhelmed keeping the household together on a shoe-string budget that fluctuates monthly. His only other relative in the area is his grandmother who lives by herself on a property nearby

    Skip’s will be forced to work, house and clothe himself in the harsh winter and can’t do that and complete high school, apply for student aid, and attend college, unless his father allows him to finish school.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. a character: middle age, son, second gen immigrant Pakistani; parents opened Halal food wagon, but the parents only wanted him to focus on education. He is now a prosperous insurance agent, but he’s not satisfied with his career. He’s wondering if he should surrender his career to help his parents? Except he knows nothing of the food industry AND he’s an extreme germaphobic. He’s also obsessed with Madonna of the 80s.
    OR there’s unnamed guy, white, 20ish, sitting in row 32d and unnamed elderly woman who is sitting in row 32e. He’s on his way to his 30th professional skateboarding competition; She’s white, 50s, retired first woman pro skater on her way to judging. Her left hand shakes due to Parkinson’s. He immediately puts his earbuds on. She orders vodka on the rocks.
    OR there’s a European 18-year old model in a blue suit, standing outside of a boutique off of Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. It’s 95 degrees with humidity of 90%. Of course, he can hear women and customers from the next door deli, giggling at him, as he uses a water hose on the surrounding shrubs. He doesn’t understand why people (like his parents), they don’t understand this is what he wants to do. He WILL be the next rising movie star, or TV series star. Then we’ll see who’s laughing at whom.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Make Writing a Habit | Ponikaa Girl

  4. Rebeckah just rounded the corner on 30. She has been a hairdresser at an upscale salon in a ski resort town for close to a decade, and bartended, underage, before that. She shares custody of her 12 year old son with her ex, who just built a house with his third wife and buys a new truck every other summer. Moving for the 4th time in 3 years, she unpacks a large-ish statue given to her by a free-spirit boyfriend a long time ago. A prospective housemate and cultural anthropologist notices it and tells her it’s Shiva, the Hindu deity also known as the Destroyer and the Transformer.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Mordecai Mobius had a serious uncontrollable problem. He could not stop himself from staring at good-looking women. This in and of itself was not the problem. The problem was that Mordecai was married and was compelled to stare even when his wife was at his side. He took to wearing dark sunglasses to try to disguise the compulsion. That worked until his wife spotted him craning his neck to watch as women passed him by. He even installed those rear-view mirrors in the corners of his sunglasses that enable you to see behind you without turning around — gag glasses that kids wear pretending to spy on others. His wife told him she would leave him, despite 20 years of marriage, unless he would seek counseling for his problem. Mordecai reluctantly agrees. After three months of counseling, which includes advice from the therapist like “simply close your eyes when you see a beautiful woman nearby,” Mordecai declares himself cured. His wife, however, wants to put Mordecai through a test. So she arranges to bring him to a party at which she knows some exceptionally gorgeous women will be attending. She tells Mordecai this so he can be prepared. Mordecai begins to sweat. He wonders if he could benefit from some more counseling before being put through the test. He desperately tries to arrange one session before the upcoming party to alleviate his doubts and anxiety. “After all,” he tells himself, “I love my wife and don’t want to lose her.”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Penelope was a possum living in Boston and her mission was to establish an International Talk to the Animals Day–a holiday where people got the day off if they agreed to talk (and listen) to the animals for an entire day. She had built a sizeable vocabularly roaming about various campuses around the city, despite a slight lisp, she was prepared to make her pitch and plea. If only someone would give her a chance–take her seriously enough to let her be interviewed on the news or for the newspaper. She’d heard about social media but keyboard skills had never been a priority and wifi was hard to access when scurrying between barns and garages, fleeing from trash bins, and tracking down ticks and insects to keep her strength up. She wished for someone–anyone–just one person with a heart–to listen.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. He is an urbane, polished, handsome, sophisticated kind of guy with a penchant for Italian shoes and starched collars. He and his wife are known for their entertaining dinner parties and he takes an active part in that, arranging flowers and cooking. He can be humorous, is well liked and cares about doing the right thing. Lately he is often moody and depressed at home with his wife. He is well aware that his wife is very unhappy. He hasn’t always been this way, but since leaving a large firm and attempting to be a consultant on his own, he has not been successful. He is spending money he doesn’t have, using credit cards, and will protect his image at all costs, while hiding secrets all at the same time. An arrogant superiority and anger surfaces often, covering up his fear of being discovered. More and more frequent supposed business trips occur, which are actually the times he is meeting with his boyfriend in another city. This is the 80’s and coming out is out of the question, as he knows that this would destroy the structure of the nice home in an affluent neighborhood, the wife and daughter, and the right church that all are his cover for his life built on sand.

    What is wants is to find a way out of the vise that is tightening around him. His wife is threatening to leave, the boyfriend doesn’t even know he has a wife and family, and his daughter is away in college and has no idea about what is going on. Financial disaster is just around the corner as he has refinanced the home more than once.

    What is in his way is his lack of courage and fear. His attachment to his self-identity is so total and powerful that it will not allow even an imagining of a life lived in the light, a life that would allow him to be who he was. He was a prisoner in a cage of his own making.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Crick was a tired hippy from the 70’s who now resides in San Francisco after being born and raised in the Midwest. He had seen and done it all by most standards. More concerts and drugs than even Hunter would advise. He started to lose that handsome, athletic look that he was so well known for due to recent life changes but still glowed that smile that said, “Hey, I’ve got a great fucking idea!” which more oftentimes resulted in at least one regret. Crick’s only regret was not enjoying that perfect night of quarters. You know, that perfect evening when one never misses even on the double downs. He’s relieved of this burden by great memories of group story writing at a popular scotch bar during his undergraduate days. Crick lives forever!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Vera is a 75 year old widow. She hasn’t exercised a day in her life and it shows. She cares little about the pull that gravity has taken on her body over the years, her breasts limp, sagging nearly to her waist, her ass and thighs like clumpy, dripping candlewax. Despite the pantyhose she has worn every day of her adult life that bring her chronic bladder infections (she loves sweets, specifically hard fruit candy and cream pies) her legs painted strands of purple from varicose veins. Its 1993 in a farming country in Kansas. She’s Catholic and she goes through the motions of going to church and bake sales, but that’s only because that’s what old people are suppose to do in her community. She has another side to her that she has kept secret her entire life. She is highly psychic and sees and hear things that others don’t. She mainly senses other beings and has visions of future occurrences. One day driving home after grocery shopping on Main St. she receives a devastating vision. There is a grey darkness to the streets. The small town has been pummeled by a tornado. There appears to be no survivors. Its a horrifying scene that leaves Vera feeling numb and cold. She has seen her town five days into the future. She wants to tell the mayor her vision, but she knows all too well the town would never believe her. If she did speak up she risks being ostracized from the community she has lived in for over 50 years.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I keep this short as it is late and I see you have already quite the few comments:

    Kurt vonAppen, born and raised in Gottingen, Germany, wants to establish a drive-thru water refill station in Ashland, Oregon. Kurt is 53 years old, and he came to the USA as a highly renowned researcher from the Water Diplomacy Consortium of the Hague Institute of Global Justice. He is tall, slender and exudes an air of pessimism. Mostly gray hair, well shaved, always dressed in a shirt and long pants – even on hot summer days, as he refuses to look American. He despises the lack of culture in America, as he despises the lack of entrepreneurship and vision in France – a country he lived in for 10 year while he was married to Claudine.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Mordecai gunned it down Main and slowed just barely enough to take the turn onto Stone without rolling the van, but then…He thought he was hallucinating or he’d overdone it on the lilies. But it wasn’t the scent that sped his heart up into a full-blown tachycardia; it was the sight of six Geisha girls. He slammed on the brakes just in time and the van came to a halt mere inches from the tallest girl in the flaming red kimono. She narrowed her eyes at him. Was he dreaming? He got out of the car, his heart still pounding but the look on the face of the beautiful woman in the red kimono was not what he’d dreamed at all. She burrowed her eyes into him in a way that felt as if she knew exactly the right path to reach his heart–perhaps even his soul. His heart responded, in a flutter like the wings of a hummingbird, exceeding his arteries’ limit. The last thing he remembered before his face slammed into the gravely asphalt was the way the streetlight hit the rage in her pale green eyes.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. He arrived at the apartment, the sweat cooling beneath his sweater. He thought it odd there was no doorman, stepped into the elevator. When he hit the button for the Penthouse floor the doors closed but nothing moved. He pressed the Open button but nothing. He was trapped. A light was flashing beside the Penthouse button, and there were three spaces for a code. But the card hadn’t included a code, just the address and this mysterious “Shiva.”

    Hindu God with the third eye? Jewish period of mourning supposed to last seven days? He knew his religions, he had to as a florist. He had the sense that someone was watching him but when he looked into the upper corners of the elevator no cameras suggested a security system. He punched the Open button again, and again nothing.

    He looked at the three blinking spaces on the tiny electronic nameplate beside the Penthouse button. Maybe it was a math problem. He pressed 3, then 4, then 7. The screen went red, the elevator jumped. Nothing. The doors still woudn’t open and he had the feeling it was growing hot. He was trapped. He tried again 4 + 3 = 7. And again red, the sensation of a rising temperature. His sweat bleeding into the sweater. The lilies he was carrying had a sickening scent. He tried a third time, 734. Then 743. He was sure he was on to something. It had to be a code, something in the word Shiva. Gah, it was so hot in that elevator. 337.

    Shit! He had hit the wrong button, but this time the elevator jerked. He was rising. He had the feeling that whatever met him on the other end had been watching and waiting, and the lilies seemed to agree. They were wilting slightly in his arms.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Mordecai arrives at the address of the penthouse to deliver the flowers to Shiva. In the lobby there is a security desk and they ring the penthouse. There is no answer. Mordecai is now stuck unable to leave to meet Skip and see Travis. This is raising his stress level even more, in that the last time he saw Travis there had been a huge misunderstanding and harsh words. What to do? Wait, seems the only answer in that he cannot jeopardize the job and the money he will be paid, not to mention the good exposure to potential clients.
    In less than 15 minutes the desk tries again and this time there is an answer. He loads the elevator with his flowers, and at the top floor the door opens to an entrance foyer and a double door a few yards away. The doors open and a very tall distinguished Indian man dressed in robes beckons him inside. After Mordecai has carried in the flower arrangements, the man closes and locks the door, and slowly pulls a knife out of his robe.

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  14. “This is what?”

    “AAAHHH! Holy crap, you scared me half to death!”

    “Yes, well, I had to get your attention, and you keep that shop so damn cold. Although I see you stay nice and cozy in that fancy sweater. What’s a garment like that set you back?”

    “Look, Penelope, you got it all wrong. I got a great gig tonight, going to make the payment just like our arrangement.”

    “Uh huh.” She wasn’t there for money, but she did want something from Mordecai tonight. Penelope, aka, The Possum, knew all about hiding out, keeping quiet, playing dead. She knew this this petal pusher was too loud to stay out of trouble. But he might just be the jonquil jockey to bring her back to life.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. “This is overdue you lily-killing, rose-smothering, status-snapping, dandylion-poacher. You think this is a gig? Ha! Surprise!”
    “But wait, you don’t understand. I’m not what I look like on the surface. I’m… it’s…I just do all this for…Penelope–my possum–and her cause. I’m saving all my earnings to launch a global campaign to start International Talk to the Animals Day. A guy like you with a snake and all, you gotta get that, right?”
    “Ha! Dude, you’re hilarious. Standing there swimming in cashmere, smelling like dying gardenias? Yeah, like I’m gonna believe the likes of you.”
    “No really. Just ask my mom. She’s feeding pie to Penelope as we speak. Call her.” Mordicai said, opening his hand to expose his cell phone. He was hoping snake charmer would put down the knife, take the cell, and make the call and forget about his cutting plans. But before any of that could happen, the snake lunged at the cell phone as if it was a rat offered up for a snack. The snake gulped at the phone, which lodged awkwardly in its throat. Its eyes sagged as if disappointed in the catch. It looked for a moment like the snacking snake might reverse its decision and heave the thing but then the phone began to ring in its throat. It was the ringtone for Claudine.

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  16. As the knife appeared, Mordecai froze in astonishment and at the same time heard laughter and strange music coming from somewhere in the penthouse. As the large man came closer, the laughter grew louder and Mordecai turned frantically to find an escape before he could knew he was going to pee in his pants. Suddenly another door opened in front of him and a room full of crazily dressed, masked revelers laughed and danced wildly. One white faced geisha-like woman ran to him, grabbed his arm, pulled him into the melee, closing and locking the door behind her.

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  17. “Listen man,” Mordecai begged, “the huge snake, the knife, the implied nudity of you being in a terrycloth robe, a cart of tumescent flowers, this is just too Freud for me, ok? This is Freud on poppers. This is poppers-Freud backstage at a Prince concert. This is Prince dressed as Freud on poppers, you get me? What have I done to deserve this?”

    “Listen, plucker,” said the tall and dark-haired implied nude and be-knifed dude, “your knee-jerk categorization of flowers and snakes as masculine-phallic is part of the reason why what i’m about to do is necessary. The snake is a long-standing feminine symbol, it’s shape in the global consciousness veers as easily into a circle as it does as something upright at attention.”

    Mordecai, desperate, howled, “THE WOMB IS TEMPORARY! THE PHALLUS IS AN ILLUSION! GENDER IS FOR COMMUNISTS!” He had no flipping idea what he was saying but it was loud and sounded cool and knife was still un-buried in his precious kidneys. “Oh shit,” said Mordecai, looking closer at the deadly blade. “Is that a Wüsthof? Nice.”

    “Nice,” the man agreed. The snake was currently sluicing down the collar of his terrycloth robe and it freaked Mordecai out. “Just FALLS through a tomato. I love it.”

    Liked by 4 people

  18. Somehow, I feel he has a yearning to make it to the Scotch bar [with Skip and Travis] and return to “being in butter” and in Italian cashmere sweaters. Sounds rather sensual, like the curve of a petal.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. As Mordecai swayed backward he fell to the elevator floor. Shiva lunged forward and lashed the knife wildly before him, slicing up the air into tomato puree while screaming “I’ll get you Plucker!”

    The elevator door closed on the blade, and the protruding phallus, clearly not an illusion, invaded their space until the elevator moved downward and snapped the blade cleanly from the handle. The emasculated shining silver bounced on the floor beside him.

    He looked up at Claudine. “Wow – that was just like in Terminator 2!”

    “You’ve pissed your pants.” She said.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Here’s an entry that Jay sent me:
    So I’m imagining the tall man leading Mordecai into a dark, high-ceilinged, candle-lit hall where there is a ceremony in progress. Low, droning music seems to come from all directions, and there is an indecipherable chanting going on as well. As Mordecai watches, the man approaches the center of the room, where the candlelight is brighter, lets his robe drop to the floor revealing that his body is covered entirely in intricate tattoos. The man is holding the knife in one hand and the snake’s head in the other (snake still draped over his shoulders). Four robed figures appear and approach Mordecai and collect the flower vases from his cart. He tries to peer into their faces but they are shrouded in darkness, the candles providing only enough light to see shape and movement.

    Suddenly, as if flooded by a burst of oxygen, the candles flare brightly and Mordecai can see that the room is ringed by a dozen or more hooded figures, arms held high like a Y, all facing the tattooed man at the center of the room.

    The man takes the knife and thrusts it into the bone-white flesh at the underside of the snake’s jaw. He slides the knife swiftly down the length of the snake and as the snake squirms around him entrails and blood pour out to coat the tattoos on his shoulders and chest. The candlelight is glaringly bright as this happens, and the chanting and droning music has reached a crescendo. Mordecai puts his hands to his ears and squeezes closed his eyes against the din.

    Suddenly it all stops. Mordecai is shocked, too shocked to even move. His eyes are open but he can see nothing, hear nothing. Just as he begins to panic, a hand gently takes his elbow, and he is led through the darkness until he sees a crack of bright light and is escorted back through a doorway into the entrance of the suite.

    The person at his elbow is an attractive conservatively dressed woman in her early thirties. She has an air of efficiency.

    She addresses Mordecai.

    “Right then” she says in a neatly clipped British accent, “We’ll be needing another delivery just like the one you brought today. Next Tuesday. Can you have it here by 11:00 AM?”

    Mordecai finds that he’s nodding an affirmative. He tries to speak, but it’s as if he’s lost the power of speech. Like he’s never even known how.

    The woman flips open a small, black finely-tooled leather portfolio and retrieves what looks to Mordecai to be a standard business contract. She flips it to the last page, pulls a pen from her inside breast pocket and hands the pen to Mordecai.

    “Sign here please. The standard form you know. We like to keep everything on the up-and-up.”

    Mordecai’s right hand comes up, takes the pen, and he signs on the line marked “Vendor.”

    The woman slips the contract back into her portfolio and flips it closed before tucking it under her left arm. With her right hand she reaches forward and pushes the single button on the elevator panel. Immediately the doors side open and Mordecai steps in, once again his body is acting on its own. As he turn, and just before the elevator doors slide shut, the woman smiles at him and says, “And feel free to keep that pen as a reminder of our agreement. Good day, Mordecai.”

    Like

  21. We need to know more about Travis. What’s his deal? It sounds like Travis owes Mordecai money. Maybe M and Claudine pull off some sort of heist to recuperate the money M lost w the flowers. They could go to the bar to meet them and Claudine could pose as a flower seller. So she’d ask all the men to buy flowers for their little ladies. When they get to Travis, she could shiv him with the uhh castrated knife and take his wallet.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Here’s some feedback from Annemarie:
    I find Claudine fascinating, and I wonder if she isn’t the key to the resolution. For what does Mordecai owe her money? Why the Geisha get-up? She clearly is powerful (need I mention her effect on the knife?)

    Liked by 1 person

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