Flash Fiction – Day Three

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I wanted to take a minute to thank my usual readers for sticking with me through this week of a bit different sort of blog post.

I’m not going to lie to ya, this challenge has been a lot harder than I expected. I compete in contests where we have 48 hours to write a thousand word story, and even then, the time feels tight. I’ve been producing the stories this week in around five to six hours.

I’m pretty pleased so far. They all could do with more time and distance to allow for extra editing, but I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve written so far.

I hope at least a few of you are enjoying reading them as much as I am writing them.

My goal for this week has worked. I needed to shake things up to get back into my blogging head and it’s working. I’m looking forward to getting back into my groove next week.

For now, here’s Day Three’s story.

Today’s randomly generated is: representation

Top O’ The World, Ma!

by Karen Fayeth

Alex was on top of the world. Six months ago, he’d been promoted to Senior Director of Sales and he was rolling. He was the fair-haired boy employed at one of the fastest growing companies just shy of Fortune’s top 100.

Yesterday the Executive VP of Sales had called Alex personally to congratulate him on landing the biggest client in the history of Jackflash Software. The ink was barely dry on the deal.

Alex and his boys had properly celebrated the victory.

After just two hours of sleep, Alex now looked at himself up and down in the mirror because he knew he looked good. Not just “hey, that’s a nice suit” but “damn! You look GOOD in that Prada suit” sort of good.

Even his hair looked good and his eyes weren’t the slightest bit puffy. A little chin stubble told the tale, but hell, that would just make him look a little rugged today.

If asked, he could say he was up all night on an overseas call. They’d buy that.

This morning he had a date with the CEO of Jackflash, Bob Jackson. The invitation had come quite a few days before the new contract had settled and had been somewhat vague as to the agenda.

Jackflash was still a pretty small company, so meeting with the CEO wasn’t entirely unusual. Maybe there was another big deal in the works? Or maybe there was even a big bonus coming his way. He smiled at the thought. Oh so many toys like boats and cars he would buy…

Alex looked at himself in the mirror. “God, it’s a great day to be me,” he said to his reflection.

Turning from the mirror and picking up his car keys, he felt the burn from lack of sleep around his eyes. Unacceptable, he told his wavering body.

Revving the engine of his brighter-than-the-sun yellow Porsche, his first stop on the way into work was a 7-Eleven. Two Rockstar energy drinks should do the trick.

Alex was guzzling the second Rockstar when he parked and walked into the office. Burping loudly from the fizzy drink and tossing the can in the trash, he put on his winningest smile when he saw people in the lobby turn to look at him with nods and waves.

News must be out, he thought. But not everyone was smiling. Jealous, probably, he thought to himself.

He smiled and made like a politician. If there was a baby in the room, he would have kissed it.

After all the schmoozing and stopping by to talk to friends along the way, it took him a half hour to get from the front door to his office. His heart was trip hammering in his chest from all the caffeine and he couldn’t sit still. He glanced briefly at email and ignored the flashing message light on his phone.

A note was taped to his monitor. Terry, his boss, wanted to see him as soon as he came in. He checked his watch, 9:45. Terry was probably already in the day’s meetings, but he figured he’d give it a try.

Alex walked so fast to the elevators, the back of his jacket trailed out behind him like a little woolen cape.

“Hey Susan! Is she in?” Alex said, putting on his charming voice for Terry’s admin. Susan wielded all the power in the organization, including whether or not Alex flew first class, so he treaded lightly.

Susan looked at Alex with a face drained of blood. “No, Alex. She’s gone.”

“Gone? You mean meetings?

“No. I mean gone. Fired.” Susan whispered the last word.

“Fired? What the hell?”

Susan shrugged.

Alex checked the Rolex on his right wrist and noted he had five minutes to get upstairs to meet Bob.

“Ok, I’m going up,” Alex said, pointing toward the ceiling, the company recognized gesture to indicate Bob’s office on the top floor.

Susan was VP of Sales. If she was gone, and with Alex coming off such a huge victory…well, the writing was on the wall. He was going to get promoted again.

Alone in the elevator, he did a little “yes!” fist pump dance/jig sort of a move.

When the elevator doors opened, he was met by Bob’s Admin, Charlene. “He’s here,” she said into her boss’ open office door, then with an out of character syrupy voice, “I believe Bob is ready for you. Go on in.”

Alex walked into the office with his head high, but faltered when he saw Ellen Banks, VP of Human Resources and Stan Ingersol, Jackflash General Counsel already seated at the conference table.

“Hello Stan,” he said, shaking the man’s hand, “Ellen,” he said, nodding. “Bob, how great to see you! You heard about the Techtron Telco deal, I assume?” Alex said, all smiles and sales training in his demeanor.

“Yes, I’ve heard. But that’s not what we’re here for. Alex, why don’t you have a seat?”

Alex was still grinning ear to ear when he sat down at the head of the table.

Alex drummed his fingers on the table impatiently and looked at Bob who turned instead to Stan. “How about you take the lead on this meeting?”

Stan cleared his throat and shuffled through the stack of paperwork in front of him. He found the page he needed and held it up.

“Alex, this is a copy of the resume you submitted when you applied to Jackflash.”

Alex leaned forward to squint at the document, then nodded.

“It was your representation at the time you were hired that you both attended and graduated from Yale School of Management. Your hiring manager failed to do a background check before extending the very generous offer. During a routine audit, Ellen’s team found the lapse in procedure and conducted the appropriate check.”

Alex swallowed. He knew what was coming next.

“Son, you never even graduated high school.”

Alex closed his eyes.

Visions of Masaratis stopped dancing in his head.

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“Top O’ The World, Ma!” by Karen Fayeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Flash Fiction – Day Two

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Today’s word from the random word generator is: disgust

Owen’s First Hunt

by Karen Fayeth

Owen squinted his left eye in a perfect imitation of his father, and with his right eye, he looked down the sights of his brand new .30-30 Winchester rifle. He didn’t see anything yet, but he wanted to be ready, just in case.

Holding the butt of the rifle to his shoulder then squinting down the scope didn’t feel natural yet, and so he kept practicing the move.

He absolutely didn’t want to mess this up.

His dad was lecturing him on how to spot deer, how to stay hidden, how to stay downwind and Owen was listening, but also practicing. He knew that his chance to shoot his first deer would come quick and he needed to be ready. His dad was counting on him and he was counting on himself to be that kind of guy. The man who can confidently get a shot off in a hurried situation.

At twelve, this was a key day in his life and he knew it.

Owen turned his head and looked at his dad, decked out from head to toe in camouflage, smelling of the doe urine he’d applied to cover up his human scent, breath reeking of Budweiser.

There was no one in the world Owen looked up to more than his dad. He wanted to be just like him when he grew up, from the day old stubble to the low rough voice.

Owen wasn’t the only one who looked up to Hal who was a born leader and natural teacher. Hal was that guy everybody either wanted to be or be friends with.

“Ok, now, stay quiet and don’t move,” Hal instructed in a low voice. “We got what looks like a three-point buck headed into this meadow. Get ready, ok?”

Eyes wide, Owen looked where his dad pointed. Sure enough a tawny deer came into the clearing, foraging in the grass, oblivious to the fate that awaited him behind the brush.

“Real easy, son, make sure you look careful down that scope. What you are looking to do is drop that buck with one shot. Do you think you can do that?”

Owen nodded, yes.

His insides wobbled, no.

He couldn’t stop his hands from shaking as they held his rifle, which now seemed impossibly heavy in his hands.

He braced the wooden butt of the gun up against his shoulder. Immediately his muscles tensed in anticipation of the kick that rifle would deliver when the trigger was pulled.

Owen took in a long quiet breath, willing his muscles to relax.

“You see it, son?” Hal asked quietly.

Owen nodded.

“Ok, now, you get it in your sights, right behind that front leg. You’re aiming for the heart, got it?”

Owen whispered, “yeah.”

He carefully found the area on that deer that he was pretty sure his dad was talking about. He tried desperately to keep his hands still and to focus.

“When you’re ready,” Hal whispered, “Just do it like we practiced. Take a breath in and then let it out slowly. Stay calm and squeeze that trigger.”

Owen gave a small nod and focused. He drew in a breath and exhaled. About halfway through the out breath, he put his finger on the trigger, giving up a silent prayer that he did this right.

He imagined his dad congratulating him on his first deer. It was a rite of passage. Today he would go from little kid to a man.

Owen was ready. He couldn’t be a man fast enough for his tastes.

The buck moved a little bit, turning his side more toward where Owen and Hal were well hidden. It was a perfect shot and both man and boy knew it.

Owen changed his aim to the left just a little bit, tried to relax, took in another quiet breath and began to let it out.

“Go Owen or he’s gonna get away!” Hal said in a sharp whisper.

Startled, Owen pulled.

Then he pulled again, because nothing happened the first time.

The only sound was the click of an empty chamber.

“What the hell, son?” Hal whisper-shouted.

With knitted brows, Owen looked at his rifle. Suddenly he was scared to death the shell got caught in the chamber. That could be very dangerous.

“I don’t know dad!” Owen wailed, holding out his rifle. The sounds of running hoof beats echoed down the canyon.

“Goddamnit!” Hal now shouted, a look of disgust washing over his face. He snatched the gun from his son’s hands and pulled back the bolt to peek inside.

“Owen, why isn’t there a shell in this rifle?” Hal asked not keeping the sarcastic tone out of the question.

The boy’s face turned a hot red.

“Well ok, then give me one out of your pocket, let’s get this loaded and try again.”

Owen reached into the pocket of his Carhartt and found a used kleenix and a rock. His face turned even redder. The blush washed from down at the bottom of his feet up through his scalp.

He’d woken up early, before anyone else, and was so excited to go on his first hunt that he secured everything in the truck so they could head out. He packed everything carefully, including his box of shells, but completely forgot to put any in his gun. Or his pockets.

“So let me get this right, you left camp with a gun but no shells? What the hell were you thinking, boy?”

Owen paused. Then burst into tears.

The look of disgust quickly drained from Hal’s face at the sight of his young son in complete meltdown.

“It’s ok, Owen,” he said, and wrapped his giant arms around the boy. “We’ll get one tomorrow, ok? Let’s get back to camp. Wanna go into town for an ice cream?”

Owen stopped crying and nodded.

The boy was not yet a man, but the man still remembered what it was like to be a boy.

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“Owen’s First Hunt” by Karen Fayeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

And now for something completely different…

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So lately I’ve been impossibly busy with work, life and all the joy that long summer days bring to my easily distracted brain.

As such, I’ve had the attention span of a gnat and have been really running to catch up on my blog.

In reading over posts from the past couple weeks, I feel like I’m starting to be derivative of my self.

And, well, that’s ass.

I had a long talk with The Good Man about maybe taking a break from blogging, or quitting entirely.

In fact, I considered it seriously.

But then again…I’m up to 939 posts over three years, and there is a part inside of me that *really* wants to top 1,000 posts on this blog.

So I dug deep inside and asked myself if I wanted to stop blogging.

The answer was clear. No. I don’t want to stop.

I love blogging and it’s done amazing things for my writing and editing skills on the fly.

And so….

I’m going to keep on keeping on here on the blog. But to keep things interesting, I’m going to try something different this week.

I shall dub the week of June 21 through June 25 as Flash Fiction and Fables Week.

On Monday through Thursday, my blog posts will consist of a no more than 1,000 word fiction story or essay, thus the very definition of Flash Fiction.

As the impetus for each day’s story, I will visit a random word generator and use the first word that is presented as the foundation for the story.

I will have to keep an eye on myself for no cheating! No hitting refresh until I get a word I like.

I have no idea what the stories will be about as this is all a fluid process.

I hope you are willing to come along on this ride, as it will be harder than it looks, I can assure you. This is really a task in pushing The Muse to produce. And sometimes she doesn’t like that.

Here’s a representative sample of her cranky face.

Four days writing a totally new Flash Fiction story each day may be tough to accomplish. We’ll see.

And then Friday will be a special day. On Friday I’m going to present a “Fable Friday” selection. This is a story I’ve taken from one of a couple books I have of fables and folklore. I will read the story aloud complete with funny voices, if necessary, and will also post a link to a scan of the story if you’d rather read it yourself.

This was inspired by a great night at a friend’s house reading fables and folklore aloud. It was a fun and touching night and I’m experimenting with making this a regular item on the Oh Fair New Mexico blog.

After my week of Flash Fiction and Folklore ends, I will likely go back to my regularly scheduled stream-of-mind posts that I’ve done for the past three years, hopefully with a renewed sense of creativity and verve.

Verve…what a great word.

Anyhow, do join me and give feedback on the stories if the spirit moves you.

Personally I’m both excited and scared about the week, but I’m also raring to go!

Wheeeee!!

Country Mouse

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Oooh wee! Today I was a big girl.

Today I was, like, a professional and everything.

I had a rather important work related meeting with some very high level people.

The address of this adventure was simply, One Market, San Francisco.

Now, if you are familiar at all with San Francisco (I know you are, Natalie), then you know that One Market is where the ubiquitous Market (akin to Main street in Any Town, America) meets the Embarcadero at the Ferry Building.

If you are unfamiliar with San Francisco, Market Street is a major avenue that cuts diagonally across the length of San Francisco, ending at the edge of the Bay.

Ends at the very old and beautiful Ferry Building, where, oddly enough, you can catch a ferry. The building is both a beacon and a landmark.

So this morning I put on my best suit of confidence and made my way to the City by the Bay.

I acted like I knew what I was doing the whole time. I drove in, got parked, and walked with my head held high. I heard my high heels click-clack on the polished marble floors and hoped like hell I wouldn’t slip and fall.

I rode the elevator up to the offices and pretended like I was all that ‘n then some.

Once badged up, they led me to a conference room that had a spectacular view of the Bay Bridge.

As I waited for the Vice President of this very successful and well-known company to come to the room, I wondered how this desert rat of a girl ended up here.

I hummed “Oakie from Muskogee” while I waited.

As soon as the executive entered the room, I put away all those thoughts and stopped humming.

Then I acted like a lady, a professional, a woman in command who knows exactly what she’s doing.

Weirdly, they bought it.

The ol’ fake it ’til you make it really does work sometimes.

It was a high point to my week, actually.

But for all my high steppin’ in that beautiful City, I was also glad to get in the car and drive back home.

Once home, I tucked into dinner and a glass of something nice and smiled over the rim of my glass.

I love it when I can use my Aggie ingenuity to pull one over on the big boys.

Whoa

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If asked to give a one word review of the Kris Kristofferson/Merle Haggard show at the Mountain Winery last night, that would be it.

Whoa.

I bought tickets to the show only to see Merle. You see, Mr. Haggard is part of the essential soundtrack of my life.

Recall my earlier discussion about the task my best friend and I have undertaken? Creating our own version of “The List” for her kids (my godkids)?

We are compiling what we consider to be the music of our lives, music my beautiful godkids need to know as it tells the story of their family.

Yeah. Merle’s on that list. More than once.

So the chance to see Merle live was too much to pass up.

Kris Kristofferson was just part of the ride.

The show started with Kris. Now look, I’m not actually a big fan of Kris as a performer. His voice has always been a bit warbly to my ears. However, I do acknowledge that he is one of America’s premiere songwriters. His name is on many, many of the classics that help make up the tapestry of American music (“Me and Bobby McGee” is only scratching the surface).

So out strolled Kris with and acoustic guitar and a harmonica. Alone. And he played a healthy portion of his own catalog in one hour’s time.

Kris seemed uncomfortable and nervous, but I found his performance immensely intriguing. He laughed when he forgot the lyrics to songs he wrote himself. He rolled his eyes when he hit a bad note on his guitar. And he laughed. It was a really engaging thing to see.

At the end he thanked the crowd for their energy.

Ok, look. Kris Kristoffereson may have just won me over to his side.

Oh, lest I forget. Before Kris left the stage, he invited up a friend. A man by the name of John Prine. Now, I was not familiar with Mr. Prine, but a quick Google led me to volumes of information about the man.

Mr Prine is also a prolific songwriter and responsible for a lot of the heart of folk music. He’s also one of the writers on the song “You Never Even Call Me By My Name” made swaggeringly famous by David Allen Coe.

God, I love that song.

After Kris and John had played a tune, they invited up another friend.

A lady by the name of Joan Baez.

Yeah, look, I’m neither hippie nor baby boomer, but I was still in awe of the talent standing there together on the stage.

It was truly unforgettable.

At the break, there were ladies crying in the restroom, sharing stories of what the music of Joan Baez and John Prine meant to them.

It was less of an emotional thing for me, and more of a “whoa…I’m so proud I got to see this.”

And then…

Oh and then…

Merle finally took the stage. I couldn’t believe it. I might have started to cry a little bit myself.

I kept saying, “I can’t believe I’m here, eight rows away from Merle Haggard!”

Ol’ Merle is 73 years old and survived the removal of a malignant tumor on his right lung a couple years ago.

So he started out a bit slow, and the voice wasn’t quite there.

But he warmed up nicely. Soon enough, he was bringing the heat to songs like “Momma Tried” and “Big City”.

Merle started out the night with “Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star” and sailed through his own songbook, ending with “Oakie from Muskogee.”

He invited Kris, John and Joan to come up and join him for that last one.

As The Good Man and I first got to the venue and we had to navigate all the Mercedes driving, wine sipping, self-entitled looking Northern California people, I texted my best friend that it was times like this where I question why I ever moved to California.

By the end of the night, looking at four legends of American music on one stage, I remembered. Back in my growing up years in New Mexico, it was unlikely we’d get a show like that. I moved to California for the art, the music, the creativity that runs through the Bay Area.

The kind of place where Joan Baez is just sitting in the audience and is casually invited up on stage.

So ok.

I used The Good Man’s iPhone to capture about 30 seconds of video. The image is terrible but the sound is all right. This is the last 30 seconds of the show, Joan, John and Kris are gathered together at the left. Merle is in the middle.

They are all warbling and off key and Joan’s mic is too loud…and still…it’s a beautiful moment in time….

(may have to double click the box below to get it to play, click again to stop)