Tag 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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On a Rainy Tuesday Afternoon #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!

On a Rainy Tuesday Afternoon is more of a character sketch, (or two-character sketch I should say), than anything.  It’s an excerpt of a short story I jotted down ages ago and have recently picked back up. I’d like to know how interested you are in learning more about these two. On a Rainy Tuesday Afternoon is rated PG-13, according to my standards. Enjoy!

Original photo courtesy of NYPL Digital Gallery
Original photo courtesy of NYPL Digital Gallery

On a Rainy Tuesday Afternoon, by Deanna Schrayer

The young woman nearly fell into Johnny’s restaurant, soaked by the torrential storm slapping the converted brick bungalow like a toy sailboat, her red-gold curls stuck to her face and streaks of mascara pouring from her cat-green oval eyes. She stood panting inside the doorway, bent at the waist and holding on to her knees, gasping for breath.

It was mid-afternoon, only one customer at the bar – Harry the Hobo he was called – and Johnny was polishing glasses behind the bar.

“You all right?” Johnny said, looking at her as if she might be a mirage.

“I’m….I need….” She struggled to find that elusive breath. Johnny stepped out from behind the bar and walked towards her, slowly. He had the illogical feeling if he approached her too quickly she may lash out and belt him a good one. He stopped a couple feet from her and asked again, “Are you okay?”

She looked up at him, straightened, and drew in her lips. She frowned and stared at Johnny as if trying to decide whether or not to trust him. “I…I just had to get out of the wind, it was blowing me all over the place.” She laughed as if the thought delighted her, but it sounded forced. He could easily imagine the wind tossing her about though as she wasn’t as big as one leaf of a willow tree. But something about her demeanor told him she could withstand many storms, that she had already withstood many storms.

Johnny nodded to the drenched girl, “Sit down over here, I’ll get you a drink.” He motioned her towards the only red vinyl bar stool that wasn’t torn.

“Oh, no, thank you but I…I think I’ll just stand here a few minutes, until the storm blows over. Thanks though.” She turned and gazed out the window as if looking for someone, biting her fingernails.

“Naw, now, you get on over here and sit down,” Johnny said, returning to his place behind the bar. She turned and took a tentative step and he sat a full glass of dark liquid on the bar and said, “Drink’s on the house.”

She carried a well-used backpack and wore a thick velvet peasant’s shirt the color of ripe grapes, the soaked material clinging to her slight frame and riding up her torso to reveal a flat belly, and jeans that sported several holes horizontally slashed down the thighs. Johnny couldn’t decide whether the denim was artfully torn or if she’d recently crossed a mad cat. She looked, to Johnny, like a princess who had carelessly stepped away from the palace to follow a rabbit down a hole and couldn’t find her way back home.

She walked slow but steady to the bar and sat down. “Thank you,” she said as she tipped the glass back and greedily sucked down the drink. She sat the glass down hard on the bar and sputtered, “What is this stuff?” she said, shivering.

“Brandy,” Johnny told her, “It’ll warm you up right good.” His broad smile revealed crow’s feet that, along with the silver tufts of downy hair framing his ears, told her he was old enough to be her father.

“Whew, I’d say!” She picked the glass back up and laughed the most infectious laugh he’d ever heard.

Johnny offered his hand and introduced himself. “Johnny Diamanté,” he said, and nodded towards the end of the bar, “That there’s Harry.” The hobo glanced her way and nodded his head, a camo baseball cap concealing his eyes. He raised his own mug of beer in salute.

Johnny detected a hint of fear in her eyes. She was slow to take his hand. When she did he was surprised at how warm her hand was. “I’m Stormy,” she said, and smiled, “Stormy Lassiter.” He wondered if she’d plucked the name from the rain that had ushered her inside.

Since that night Stormy was at the bar every evening. She didn’t drink much and she rarely ate, but Johnny didn’t mind as the simple fact of her presence seemed to pick up business. She soon became sort of a mascot of Diamanté’s Bar and Grill, floating around and socializing with the customers, men and women alike. Stormy would often leave with a couple or a group of girls, but never with men alone, which Johnny was grateful for; (he certainly didn’t want the place getting a reputation for that kind of business).

Stormy may return that evening or she may not, but she was always there the next evening, alert and ready to do it all over again. It was like having a free hostess. Often Johnny would nearly force Stormy to eat something in order to mask the guilt he felt for not offering her a paying job. He’d have the cook make up a plate of appetizers, and Johnny would set it down in front of her and say, “Eat.” When she tried to protest, pushing the plate away, saying she wasn’t hungry, Johnny persisted, holding her eyes hostage, pushing the plate back towards her and giving his head one sharp nod, “Eat.” She’d let the food sit while she talked to the patrons, giving it a cursory glance now and then, and finally Johnny would see her sneaking bites here and there, as if she was afraid of being caught.

It would be several years before Johnny recalled that look in her eyes, the shock of catching it a second time reeling him into a past he wasn’t sure if he was glad had happened or not.

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Ah, the memories….. #fridayflash #Christmas #holiday

Image by Deanna Schrayer
Image by Deanna Schrayer

I love to flip through memories as a way to relax during this hectic time of year. As I reflect in my essay, There are Stories to be Told, if we don’t capture the myriad memories of our lives by writing them down, they could too easily fade into the distant past and be forever lost. Had I not jotted down the conversation [below] with my youngest son, Noah, eleven-years-old at the time, I may have forgotten it. I stumbled upon this from a past blog and just had to share, again. I hope you get as much of a kick out of it as I have.

Conversation between mother and son, Christmas time

Noah: I want a power scooter for Christmas, and that’s all.

Noah: I want a skateboard for Christmas, and that’s all.

Noah: And I want swords like Tyler and Skyler, and that’s all.

Noah: I want a flashlight and batteries to make it work, and that’s all. That’s all I want for Christmas.

Me: Do you know what I want for Christmas?

Noah: What?

Me: I want all my family to be happy.

Noah: *rolls eyes*

Me: And I want tickets to see Bruce Springsteen, and tickets to see Keith Urban, and tickets to see the Tennessee Vols play football, and a new car, and someone to remodel my house, and a new wardrobe and a make-up artist, and a hair dresser, and a new bathroom, and a mud pit, and…

Noah: I’m sorry, I don’t want to listen anymore.

Me: But I didn’t say that to you.

Noah: That’s because I was done!

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During that same time, in 2010, I wrote a Friday Flash inspired by something my oldest son had said when he was four-years-old. I hope you get a chance to sit back, relax and enjoy the story Christmas is Over!, on my former fiction site The Other Side of Deanna, here.

I wish you all a blessed Christmas and fantastic New Year!

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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.

The Protector-innocent

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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! 

hunger

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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