Friday, February 26, 2010

Gone Cruising

Be back in a week! Have a great one.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Brevity 32: Elane Johnson

Absolutely, stunning piece. One sentence can say so much. Go read.
Brevity 32: Elane Johnson

Friday, February 12, 2010

Painting Murder

This was how it always started. The familiar scent of paint, wet paper, compliments and then a jarring plea for help. Micha Mason lay a wash of blue and gray paint across the top of a sheet of cold-pressed paper, moving the sable bristles in soft curves creating a storm filled sky. Cindy Lowen stood permanent as a fire hydrant, waiting for her answer. Mica frowned, apprehension rounded her shoulders, tightened her grip on the paintbrush. “Hire a real investigator,” she said as she rinsed her brush.

The woman shook her head. “Daddy has an investigator, some creature who comes and goes, or so I hear. I want you to find out why. It’s like Daddy doesn’t want me involved.” She wobbled back and forth, her plump little feet spilling from the sides of her expensive red Italian heels.

“What about your brother?”

“Not talking to him either.”

Mica shrugged and looked down at her work. “I think I’ll stay right here and you need to leave. I can’t concentrate.”

The shapes of leafless trees appeared under her rapidly moving brush in the drying blue color. They faded into the glaze of cerulean giving the illusion of being in the far distance. Then she added a touch of alizarin, and ultramarine generating a hint of mountains. She felt the coolness of the painted sky on her skin, caught a slight whiff of fallen leaves, then realized the coolness was coming from the drafty window, and the smell from rotten garbage wafting up from the alley bins five stories below. She jammed the window closed with a palette knife, and stirred a bowl of potpourri that rested on the sill.

Mica concentrated on her work, steeling herself against the burn of her friend’s worried eyes, and then her heart cracked with compassion. Resolve fell into the crevice created and she carelessly dribbled water, like falling rain, onto the painting in front of her.

“If your Dad really needs help.” Her mind reacted like a cut to turpentine as words emerged from her mouth. She slapped a hand across her lips, too late to stop the unleashed words.

“Please go. I trust you. I wouldn’t ask if Daddy wasn’t acting like a man with a mess of bad moonshine.”

Mica knew when Cindy lapsed into her mountain dialect she was worried. She looked at her artwork searching for an answer. Rivulets of water ran like tears down from the beautiful mist-shrouded mountains she’d created. She frowned, turned the ruined painting over on the table, then looked up and smiled gently at her friend. Someone was going to die.

“Maybe I better go,” she said as her mind switched from the creative right side to the analytical left

Friday, February 05, 2010

Hunters in the Mist

Hunters in the Mist

Melissa Myer didn’t give much thought to the new foxhunting fixture, nor listen to the Master’s words of caution, the need to stay with the group. Today, her mind focused instead on her new mount, a young, bright chestnut horse. He floated above the ground when he moved. His gaits felt magical and she relished the promise of being transported into another realm when on his back. The group of fellow riders barely registered on her radar.

This was her first mistake.

They, about thirty horses and riders and twenty couple of hounds, started early from the trailers, and before Melissa had time to get her bearings, what with the new horse and all, she found herself in an old, “trees with roots big enough to hide Hobbits” unfamiliar forest. There was something slightly off center about the area. A spurt of fear ran up her spine like an adrenalin injection. She attributed it to the antics of her inexperienced thoroughbred and the fact that she’d stayed up way to late reading The Lord of The Rings for the umpteenth time. Her horse, Runaway Joe, three months off the track, danced.

As the hounds and the riders trotted deeper into the woods, Runaway Joe developed a sudden talent for spinning in circles.

Out of the corner of her eye Melissa watched the horse in front of her disappear around a bend and then her attention whipped back to the thousand pounds of whirling dervish beneath her.

The horse showed no signs of tiring of his new game and though Melissa was an excellent rider, his antics made her dizzy. The sound of the huntsman’s horn faded in the distance, hardly audible over the blowing and stomping of her mount. She began to worry.

Damn, it would be nice if someone had hung around. A new horse, all alone, in unfamiliar surroundings was asking for trouble. Buck up, she told herself and reached down deep in her muscles for some hidden strength. She needed to stop Joe’s pirouettes, before she threw up.

The horse snorted, slid sideways and then at the persistent urging of her quiet hands and calm voice, came to a trembling halt.

Once she had Joe standing still, though ready to bolt at any moment, Melissa let out and sucked in a deep breath. They moved around the bend. The road forked ahead of her and the hard packed earth gave no clue as to which path the hunt had taken. Last, in the long line of horses when they left the trailers this morning, so that Joe would not be tempted to kick a hound or another horse, she’d been doing the right thing. It was absolutely taboo for a hunt horse to kick, especially kick a hound, and she knew better than to put Joe up front. That thought did little to assuage her feelings of stupidity for not listening to the Master’s warning.

She had no idea where she was or where the rest of the field of hunters had gone. Used to riding up front with those who liked to race and chase, Melissa always had the hounds, huntsman, or at least the sound of the horn in her reach to show her the way, but not today. In front, the sound of pounding hooves and snorting of over-excited horses closing in tried the patience of even the most seasoned hunt horse. Joe had a hard enough time handling the slower paced group of non-jumpers, know as hilltoppers, and would probably have dumped her if she had pressed him to handle the first flight, those that jumped and moved at a sometimes eye-tearing pace.

Running a finger under the chin strap of her velvet-covered helmet, Melissa shook her head. Nothing to do now but pick a trail and hope it was the right one. She’d catch up soon enough. Joe moved forward with a gentle nudge of her calves against his heaving sides.

No runaway now, he took a hesitant step, flicked one pricked ear in her direction as if asking if this was what she wanted. She clucked softly and urged him to move on.

Soon, he picked up his normal long-strided walk, stretched out his neck and lowered his head. A deep rib-widening sigh lifted Melissa in the saddle and she grinned, felt the black woven straps of her helmet bridge the dimples in her cheeks. She echoed the sigh. It signaled to her Joe had decided that this wasn’t so bad after all and she wanted to assure him she agreed. At this pace it would be doubtful they would catch up to the hunt field, but the forest, quiet and enclosing like a deep green comforter, made for a pleasant trail ride.

The belief that most horses, if given their head, will find their way back to the barn or trailer, is well known among riders. Melissa decided to give it a try. Her Timex sports-watch told her she had at least twelve hours before darkness. That should be plenty of time for Runaway Joe to find their way out of here. She looped the reins, or as she told her students, let a horse have a little room between your hands and his mouth.

“Okay, Joe, you pick which way to go.” The horse took the left fork.

They crested a hill and a mountain, vague as a long ago dream, appeared in the far distance. Melissa spied movement in the distance. Hounds in shades of black, tan and white weaving a tapestry through a green canvas of old forest, and a stream of horses, steam rising from their backs, shrouding their riders in capes of gray. She squinted and then rode toward them.

This was her second mistake.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Things Happen when my Husband Isn't Here.

Okay, so it's raining. No big deal, right? Wrong.

Went to feed horses, got them in and all cozy and hopped on the Gator to take hay to the run-in shed. Had my rain hat on, gonna make a quick dash. Shouldn't get too wet. Then, what do I see? A snow drift blocking my way! I live in the South, we aren't supposed to have snow drifts. My husband is out of town, everything happens when he's gone, so I'm getting a sneaky suspicion he's conspiring with the Gods. He wants me to miss him.

This drift is from all the snow sliding off the barn roof. Hmm, I say. I won't let this stop me. Revving the engine, I slam the Gator into 4-wheel, lock the differential, and gun it. Up we go on top of the snow and there we sit. It's stuck, it's pouring, and I'm screwed. If my dear Hubby were here, he's big and strong, he could push me out of the drift. But, like I said, he's gone, to sunny Florida no less.

I put the Gator in reverse. Wheels spin. Try forward, again. Nada. I step off into the drift. Ice water enters my shoes, pours down my neck from the roof. I use the manure shovel to dig out the tires. My husband could do this in two scoops. Me, it takes twenty. Try again. Nope. The belly of my mechanical beast is suspended on the mountain of white.

Frustration kicks in. I stomp the gas. Snow, ice and mud covers me from head to toe. I twist the steering wheel, try again. Now, manure joins the mess. I drag out mats, wedge them under tires, rock and roll the Gator. We move an inch. Okay, I'm missing my husband.

Soaking wet now, I lug the hay by hand out to the run-in shed. My dear husband always carries it there by hand. But, like I said, he's big and strong, and in FLORIDA.

Horses look over their stall doors, nice and cozy, but curious as to what the idiot is doing. I lose a shoe in the mud, find it and watch muck ooze out as I re-insert my foot. The Gator, I think, is watching me. It's motor idles, as I've left it running and in gear, hoping it would do something like leap off the drift. It sits, still as its Southern namesake, on the bank. Have you ever seen one of those things move? The ones with scales live in Florida, where my husband is.

Thirty minutes and ten pounds heavier from water soaked clothing I win! The Gator is free and back where it belongs. I feel like a champion.

When my husband calls tonight and asks about my day I will tell him this. I climbed a mountain, slogged through a swamp, wrestled a Gator. Things happen when you're away. I won't ask him how's Florida. He'll just say the sun's shining. I will tell him I miss him. After all the Gods are on his side.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Why I Write - Page 7 - Editor Unleashed Forums

My work is three up from the bottom on page seven of the "Why I write contest. I guess I was wrong on the voting. It doesn't start until after noon today.
Why I Write - Page 7 - Editor Unleashed Forums