Category Archives: slice of life

That Dog Won’t Hunt! for Uncle Bill #fridayflash #amwriting #fiction

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Thank you for stopping in to read my #fridayflash. Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community for more great flash fiction by outstanding authors!

That Dog Won’t Hunt is rated PG by my standards. Please note: there is no specific reason the dog’s name is the same as my dad’s, it’s just what came to me.  🙂

For Uncle Bill, who loved his dogs, and a good joke

Annie, Uncle Bill's dog
Annie, Uncle Bill’s dog

That Dog Won’t Hunt, by Deanna Schrayer

“I told you Mabel, that dog won’t hunt! It ain’t gonna do you a bit of good to ask him to go get your newspaper. The darn thing is lazy!”

Ralph growled.

“Now James, he’s a good dog and you know it. Why, he always does what I ask him, watch this.” Mabel rattled the treats in her pocket and looked down at the old basset hound, “Ralph? Ralphie? You’re a good boy ain’t ya? I know you are.” She bent down and ruffled the fur around his neck, glanced at James to make sure he wasn’t watching before she took a piece of bacon out of her pocket and waved it under Ralph’s nose. She stood back up, “Okay Ralph, go get Mama the paper.”

Ralph took off down the walk, his floppy ears slapping the concrete and his tail wagging with pride.

“Humph” James said.

Ralph returned to Mabel, holding the paper perfectly in his mouth, just sideways enough to keep his slobber off of it. She stooped down and patted his head, took the paper and gave him the treat, “That’s my baby,” she crooned, “You’re mama’s boy, ain’t ya? Yes, you’re such a good boy, yes you are.” She went further and further into the baby talk until James couldn’t stand it any longer. He stood and stared at his wife, incredulous.

“How in the world do you do that?” he asked her, “He won’t do a darn thing for me, but he’d kiss your butt in a coon’s eye.”

“I’m just good to him, that’s all,” she replied, “You gotta show him you appreciate him James, just give him a little love.”

 “Come on boy,” Mabel told Ralph, “Let’s go upstairs and leave ole’ grouchy Daddy alone.

“Humph,” James grunted as he walked out of the basement.

Ralph followed his real master upstairs to the kitchen, growling his frustration along the way. He imagined himself standing on his hind legs and wagging his paw in James’s face, “Well of course I won’t hunt for you, you grouchy old man. Why don’t you try treating me like a human being now and then, huh? Would it kill you just to give your faithful dog a treat every once in a while? Darn right I won’t hunt, not for you, no how, no way!”

“Here you go sweetheart,” Mabel sat a plate of biscuits and gravy down at the table and Ralph jumped up in his chair and put his bib on.

“How long we gonna keep this charade up anyway Mabel?” he asked her, “Don’t you think we need to tell your old man I’m not a dog, that I’m really your cousin that didn’t truly get lost in the woods that day? Quite frankly I’m getting tired of fake bacon.”

“Now Ralph, you know his ole’ heart couldn’t take that kind of a shock. We can’t tell him and you know it.”

“Well I’ll tell you one thing right now,” Ralph replied, “I don’t care if he ever did start treating me better. As long as he goes on telling everybody and their brother I won’t hunt, then I won’t, ya hear? I won’t!”

Ralph and Mabel both jumped when they heard a boisterous thump! They turned to the kitchen door to see James sprawled across the threshold, his normally beady eyes bulging from his sallow face; he was panting and pointing a long bony finger at Ralph. 

“Ahahahaha,” Ralph hooted, “Guess I won’t have to worry about hunting for that ole’ grouch no more now will I? Ahahahahaha!”

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The Protector: A Middle of the Night Excursion #fridayflash #amwriting #fiction

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Thank you for stopping in to read my #fridayflash. Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community for more great flash fiction by outstanding authors!

I have been working on a group of short stories about the adventures – and epiphanies – I’ve experienced in the middle of the night [throughout my life]. When this particular memory came to me last week I felt it would be more fun to write it as a flash piece rather than the creative nonfiction the other stories have been.

I hope you enjoy this Middle of the Night Excursion: The Protector, rated PG, according to my standards.

 

The Protector, a Middle of the Night Excursion by Deanna Schrayer

My two younger sisters and I shared a bedroom and though each of us had our own bed – a bunk bed and a single – I preferred sleeping against the cool glass of the bay window, sprawled across the sill with only a sheet wrapped around my skinny legs. I needed to feel the dark of night, to watch the moon as it made its way from one side of the charcoal sky to the other, (though I was usually asleep before the corner of the moon was chopped off by Iron Mountain). But there were also the times I’d awaken to find the moon was not there at all.

Instead, heavy threatening clouds hung from the sky, wrinkles of gray fog slithering through the pines on the mountaintop like startled snakes. These were the nights I slid from the windowsill and crept outside, quiet as a midnight cat. I tiptoed out of our room, cracked the front screen door just enough to squeeze through, and inched my way around the trailer to stand beneath our bedroom window, somehow feeling that I was protecting my sisters from the coming storm.

There was a hitch on this end of the trailer, (our home was stationary but designed for mobility, in case we ever felt the need, I guessed, to latch onto a passing truck and take off). I climbed up onto the hitch and stood with my feet perched firmly on either side of the rails that formed a triangle pointing south.

I heard the wind rustling through the full summer oaks before it lifted my stringy hair and tickled it across my sun-burned cheeks. Then the wind stood still, calm, before nearly jostling me off the triangle with its heady rush.

Just as I spread my arms to brace myself, to steel my body for the sting of the slashing rain, I heard it. And the power behind it was stronger than any storm I’d ever faced.

“Savannah Leighann! Get your hind-end in this house right now!”

I hesitated only long enough to glance up and telepathically tell the vast sky goodnight before jumping from my pedestal and dragging myself inside to face the wrath of my momma.

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Hunger: an encore #fridayflash #amwriting #nashostomo #flashsense

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Thank you for stopping in to read my #fridayflashTo celebrate NaShoStoMo (National Short Story Month) the Friday Flash Community is hosting a senseless challengeEach Friday throughout the month of May we’ll tell a story related to one of the five senses; this Friday is taste week. 

I’m cheating a bit with this one – Hunger has been slightly rewritten so I suppose it can’t be called a true rerun but it was first published in August, 2010; it’s also nonfiction. I hope you’ll forgive the liberties I’m taking with this week’s #fridayflash and, most important, I hope you enjoy Hunger.

To celebrate the 4th anniversary of #fridayflash (which astounds me, that we’re going on four years old) there is a Blog Hop going on through the end of the month, so be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community to discover more great flash fiction by outstanding authors and join in the fun! 

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Hunger, by Deanna Schrayer

Every nook and cranny sparkled and the only thing left to do was mop the ceiling. So I did. When I was certain all cob webs had been mutilated I took a shower to rid myself of the grime. It was a sweltering ninety-five degrees out, with ninety percent humidity, and I was so big I had to twist every which way just to fit inside the bathroom door. I thought the shower would coax me into taking a nap, but if anything it did the direct opposite. 

After inspecting the apartment again, (and not being able to find a thing to do), I decided to head out to the garden and pull some weeds. I knew I shouldn’t be out working in such heat, but I had to do something, and no restful activity was cutting it. I donned a pair of Capri’s and a tee-shirt, grabbed my garden gloves, the trowel, and a basket, remembering to put my floppy straw hat on as I walked out the door. 

As I stepped outside, the phrase “It’s like walking from a refrigerator into an oven” came to mind. Within seconds my face was dripping with sweat. But it felt nice. Even though I’d been miserable for the past three months, I had always welcomed a warm summer with open arms, and I wasn’t about to let my ridiculously large condition ruin that happiness now. 

I waved to Mr. Edwards across the street as I walked to our garden. He was in his garden too. (He was always in his garden; even if you’d never seen him in his garden, the bounty of his vegetables was all the proof you needed). 

I shook my flip-flops off at the edge of the pepper row and sunk my toes in the dark dirt. There’s just something about digging your feet in the earth that generates comfort like nothing I’ve ever known.

I dropped the basket and trowel and, with great effort, lowered myself to my knees in front of the first jalapeno plant. Although I’d picked every single pepper off this same plant yesterday, it was full to bursting again already. We had given so many jalapenos away people were starting to close their doors and hide when they saw us coming.

I pulled several peppers from their stalks. When I reached up to wipe the sweat from my eyes I barely remembered in time that I shouldn’t touch my face with the juice of these hot peppers on my fingers. I swiped above my lips with the back of my hand and tasted dirt. Good, solid, (spicy!) earth.

It was delicious.

All I wanted at that moment was a giant spoon. But with Mr. Edwards out and about, I didn’t want to look like a weirdo. As I picked more jalapenos, I also shoved a handful or two of dirt into my basket.

Back inside the kitchen I filled a large cup with ice water and grabbed a spoon. I placed the peppers in the sink and commenced to eating the dirt as if it would be my last meal, washing each spoonful down with a hefty drink of water.

It didn’t strike me as odd that I felt the need to eat dirt. Nothing I did lately struck me as odd. The zest the earth had gathered from the peppers was apparently just what my body needed, though I’d taken my vitamins and eaten quite well; I drank a full gallon of milk every day and ate spinach and pasta like it was going out of style. None of that tasted as good as the dirt. 

I washed the peppers and stored them in the fridge. I was still hungry for that earth, but my basket was empty and I was too embarrassed to go outside and gather more.

And I was tired, finally. I felt like I’d scrubbed ten houses instead of our tiny apartment. I lay down on the couch and was asleep in an instant, not even thinking of the dirt being transferred from my knees and feet to the furniture I’d just scrubbed spotless.

I slept as if I’d never slept in my life. Hours later a sharp pain in my abdomen awoke me. I sat up fast and tried to find my breath. It had left me completely alone. This was the heaviest pain I’d ever felt.

I wollered around on the couch, trying to find a comfortable position, still looking for my breath. I never found the comfortable position – it hid itself away better than my breath had. I ended up on my hands and knees, rocking back and forth, willing the pain to leave and my lungs to return.

My husband opened the front door and froze, one hand still on the doorknob, looking like he might want to turn around and go back to work. The sun pouring through the window shone directly on his face and I focused on his ever-widening blue, blue eyes. He said not a word.

I stared, nodded, found that elusive oxygen. “Yes, it’s time.”

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Fireworks by The Lord – #fridayflash #amwriting #nashostomo #flashsense

Thank you for stopping in to read my #fridayflash. To celebrate NaShoStoMo (National Short Story Month) the Friday Flash Community is hosting a senseless challenge.

Each Friday throughout the month of May we’ll tell a story related to one of the five senses; this Friday is sound week. Be sure to visit the Friday Flash Community to learn more about this challenge and to discover more great flash fiction by outstanding authors!

A great big Thank You to both Steve Green of The Twisted Quill and Estrella Azul of Life’s a Stage for presenting This Side Over Yonder with the Liebster Award, and thanks to Estrella for the Sunshine Award!

 

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I am quite late in accepting the award from Steve, for which I sincerely apologize. Both the Liebster and Sunshine awards require a bit of thought, hence my belatedness – ha! In any case, I will post formal acceptance soon. Thank you both very much! And now, my “sound” #fridayflash, Fireworks by the Lord, rated G according to my standards.

Fireworks by the Lord, by Deanna Schrayer

All the way down the road Timmy had whined about not getting to play Halo with his friends, and on a weekend no less, just so his parents could buy a new vehicle. So unfair! He dragged himself into the dealership office behind his mother. “Timmy, I don’t want to be here any more than you do so just straighten up right now.” His mom leaned into Timmy’s face and bit the words through bared teeth.

“What did I do?” Timmy yelled, drawing all eyes towards them.

“Shhh!” his dad this time, shushed them both. The salesman, Ken, cleared his throat and led the family to his office, (which was no more than cheap fiberboard slapped up haphazardly between the break room and restrooms). “If you’ll just have a seat,” Ken said, waving his hand with a flourish, as if presenting a leather couch for their comfort, rather than the once-orange plastic chairs they were, “we’ll just sign a couple of forms and you’ll be on your way in your new Tahoe!” He smiled brilliantly.

Lee and Mary McDevon sat as instructed and Mary reached under Timmy’s arms and lifted his stout body, pulling him towards her lap. The boy scoffed, squirming out of his mother’s grasp to slide down onto the floor where he lay grumbling. He was seven-years-old, he certainly didn’t need his mother to hold him!

Lee put his hand to his forehead as if feeling for a fever and released a heavy sigh.

Ken, being the veteran salesman, lifted the lid from the candy jar sitting on his desk and sang, “Ah-ha-ha-ha, what do we have here?” He pulled out something that may have once been a peanut-butter nugget, the concoction now melted into the plastic containing it. He offered it to Timmy who stuck his lip out and scowled at the man. “Well then,” Ken said, setting the candy on the edge of his desk in front of Timmy. He sat and took several sheets of paper from his printer, placing them one by one on his desk; the printer continued to spit out more and more pages. “We’ll just start with these,” he said and handed both Mr. and Mrs. McDevon a brand new pen with the company’s logo and byline imprinted on them: Drive away today! the pens screamed.

“Ummmm,” Lee uttered, “what’s all this? I thought we only needed to sign a couple pages since we’re not using your finance department.”

“Oh, well,” Ken laughed, “you know how it is Mr. McDeveon, they won’t take your first born, or even your car, as long as they have your signature all over the place.

Lee sat back and grunted.

Timmy whined, “Can we go now?” He was still on the floor, now lying flat on his back and mopping the dirty tile with his head.

“Not yet honey,” Mary said, “We have to sign some papers.” She scooted closer to the desk, inadvertently scraping the chair leg across Timmy’s shin.

“Owwwwwww!” Timmy yelled.

“Sorry honey, I’m sorry,” Mary flung her arm towards her son as if to comfort him. But she didn’t touch him.

Lee sighed again.

Ken cleared his throat again. “Now,” he said, “If you’ll just flip through these and sign and date on the line at the bottom of each page we’ll get you out of here as quickly as possible.” He flashed the brilliant teeth, smiled, smiled.

“Ouch!” Mary yelled. Timmy had scratched her leg. She flung her arm towards her son again but this time made contact, smacking his bare leg so hard the noise echoed through the room.

Timmy began crying at a low pitch, almost you couldn’t hear it. But the intensity of his complaint gradually grew louder and louder until the cry was like a screech owl that’d lost his mate.

Lee tossed his pen on the desk and scratched his chair across the floor, the squeal of which threatened to drown Timmy’s performance. “All right,” he said, “Let’s go, we obviously can’t do anything if that boy has to be with us.” He stood up and Mary grabbed his arm, urging him to sit back down. “Come on honey, we need to do this now, we won’t have another chance for a while.”

Lee planted his fists on his hips and nodded towards his son. “Can you make him stop?” he asked his wife, raising his eyebrows in challenge.

Timmy’s wailing only grew more incessant. Ken threw his own pen down now and sat back in his chair, defeated.

Mary stood and grabbed hold of Timmy’s wrists, attempting to pull him up but only succeeding in tripping over his feet and almost falling on top of him, making him scream even louder.

A clamorous BOOM rang through the room, piercing all their eardrums. They looked at one another in astonishment and time seemed to stand still. But after only a second they all ran towards the door, rushing to find the source of the cacophony which seemed to have come from outside the dealership.

“Oh my God!” Ken cried, and ran for the phone.

“Wow!” said Lee.

“Oh man, cool!” Timmy squealed, running for the door.

“Oh no you don’t,” said his mother, reaching for her son as if she were made of elastic and pulling him back to safety.

Mary held tight to Timmy’s wrist as they stood staring out at the flames dancing above the telephone pole. Apparently a transformer had blown.

“Fire truck’s on the way,” said Ken as he joined the family at the door.

After a moment of complete silence the salesman took advantage of the situation. “Should we sign the papers now?” he ventured.

“Sure,” Mary laughed, “Now that the Lord sent fireworks to hush everybody up maybe we can get through this thing.”

Timmy placed his hand over his mouth as they walked quietly back to Ken’s office. *

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