The Comely Cannibal

My entry in the latest Angry Hourglass Flash Frenzy contest. Your story had to be inspired by the photo below and the word count max was 360. I had a lot of fun writing this story and I received an Honorable Mention this week. The judge this week, Nancy Chenier, left some very detailed comments on all the stories, and you can read her thoughts on my tale at the end of this post.

10710789_580645482062293_8336764312618692816_n2 photo by Ashwin Rao

Keep waving your hand, buddy. I see you. Yes, I’m ignoring you. Don’t fret, somebody will snatch you up. That snazzy suit of yours will help. Sorry, this cab is trawling for the pretty things with razor smiles.

She was standing on the corner, same as always. A body like chilled custard, firm with the proper amount of jiggle. She had the kind of face that required future alimony payments. Her painted nails flagged me down. I tried not to swoon.

“You want a blowjob?”

“Do what?”

“Do you like your job?”

Damn. “It gives me some freedom, so yeah, it’s okay. What about you, you work?”

“I eat men.”

“I bet you do. How does that pay these days?”

“I could throw out numbers, but it would sink your heart. If you had made a better career choice, maybe I’d eat you, too.”

“I ain’t gullible, lady. I ain’t that easy.”

“No? That’s cute. What if I opened my coat and gave you a little glimpse? What would you do then?”

“I’d look, that’s what I’d do. Might even let my eyes linger, take a mental snapshot. Doesn’t mean I’d fall in love, sweetheart.”

“Is that why you drive by my corner like a yellow stalker everyday, ’cause you’re not easy?  I’ve seen that look of yours before, I see it a hundred times a week. I own you, I own them all.”

“Boobs and a vagina, lady, plenty of those around. Fish in a barrel.”

“Yes, you drive a taxi for a living. I’m sure your social calendar is busting at the seams. I’d wager that you have an OK Cupid account. Am I right?”

She was right. “Please, that’s insulting. My bed squeaks on a nightly basis.”

“That’s hilarious. This is my stop, and your last chance at rapture. You want a teaser before I go? It might inspire you to be more successful.”

“Maybe next time.”

“How much I do owe you, mister lothario?”

“No charge. Have a nice day.”

“Thanks for the meal.”

I cranked a tune by Hall and Oates as she glided away, her backside swaying like a deserted boat in a typhoon.

Judge’s comment: The Comely Cannibal—The hard-boiled Chandler-esque figurative language seduced me, irresistible lines like: “chilled custard”, “the kind of face that required alimony payments”, “deserted boat in a typhoon”. That last one all the more delicious because she went away alone (“deserted”) despite her professed meal—the MC didn’t take the bait (yet). I loved the confusion over “blow job”—by the end we’re not sure if the cabbie misheard or she was really taunting him. The voice had me hooked despite the fact that we have two rather unsympathetic characters—well-played.

Caretaker of Bones

My entry for week two of the Luminous Creatures Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness contest. The photo below was your prompt, and the word max was 500. There was also the optional theme of magic/supernatural for possible inclusion in their anthology. Admittedly, I struggled with theme, as it’s not a genre I read or write very often. But, sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone if you want to improve as a writer. Hope you enjoy.

cemetery photo by Brady Wedman

The gardener finished buttoning his charcoal uniform, grabbed his copper pail, and headed out to the cemetery. His eyes took in this land of polished granite and muffled sobs, its manicured carpet of luxuriant grass, its well-travelled footpaths. He inhaled the night air, an old friend that tickled his throat, and nodded at the mute stars, which reciprocated his silent hello with a subtle twinkle. A reunion of sorts, once a year on this exact day.

With much to do, Morris began his journey with familiar steps on the sacred lawn. As he approached the etched markers of lives extinguished, he mumbled a concise string of rehearsed words, then reached into his bulging pail. With the flick of his wrist, he tossed his batch of modified fertilizer across the shamrock-green terrain, like a croupier dealing a hand of blackjack. After three hours, there wasn’t a lone blade of grass untouched by the granular substance of renewal that he meticulously spread with a focused pride.

The gardener sat on a bench, a mug of coffee perched next to him, as a golden, breathing fog hovered above the ground, its viscous lungs heaving its gift to the residents napping in eternal solitude.

Six feet below, an unseen architect was ripping the dirt apart with the brutish effeciency of an invisible bulldozer. Caverns were gashed open, revealing tunnels of shimmering quartz and veins of liquid glass. Walls of soil became billowing silk curtains, spindly roots morphed into incandescent lanterns, their chartreuse glow illuminating the burrowed world of renewed encounters. Worms were transformed into the slithering conductors of a maudlin orchestra. Heavy casket lids began to shift.

Fleshless bodies, unleashed from their slumber, began to walk amongst their brethren, greeting one another with the clack of a skeletal handshake. Parents were reunited with sons and daughters, some adults, others mere infants, a tiny bundle of bones exchanging lipless kisses with mommy. Husbands and wives gazed at each other with ardor in their hollow eye sockets, their unhinged jaw bones snapping desperately in an attempt to mouth forgotten words of affection. Obedient dogs found their masters again, their furless tails lashing against the welcoming scent of their owners tibia. Soldiers patted their band of brothers on the spinal column, then saluted their former lieutenants with a properly stiff carpus. And two dashing skeletons, one wearing a red fedora, the other a lavender scarf, danced their yearly waltz on the anniversary of their shared expiration date. This city of lively dirt was a place of rebirth, an underground villa of love reignited.

Above ground, his eyes boring into the pair of towering, ivory tombstones in front of him, Morris, the gardener, the son of conjurers, tapped his foot on the vibrating ground, as the music of his youth played on. With his promise to his parents fulfilled for another year, the caretaker of bones was spent. He stood and began to shuffle home, a flaming grin on his face, a soft goodbye on his lips.

Hands of a Charlatan

Week one of the Luminous Creatures Press Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness contest began this week. The photo prompt below was your inspiration and the word count max was 500. You could also incorporate magic in some fashion to have a chance at being selected for a future anthology.

My story received an Honorable Mention and is featured on the Luminous Creatures site. You can read it here https://luminouscreaturespress.com/hands-of-a-charlatan-by-chris-milam/

Cs-clock-300x300 photo by Christian Miller

Three Line Thursday

My entry in this week’s Three Line Thursday contest. You’re tasked with penning 3 lines of poetry inspired by the photo prompt below. It’s more difficult than it sounds, but it’s a blast to participate in.

week-6-bev
photo by Bev Flynn

This tunnel of seething wounds we built,

Its walls splashed with combustible ache,

A breathing inferno of codependency

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Blue Notes

I would characterize the last couple of weeks as being a tumultuous journey through some kind of greasy haze. The darkness of depression, or as David Foster Wallace once opined, the great white shark of pain, took root in my mind and snuffed out the azure flame of peace that I had been experiencing previously. That’s what depression does, it knocks you to the ground with the violent swing of a concrete bat. Everything is groggy and unfocused, and your body is nothing more than a smoldering husk of deadweight, a dying ember of skin and bone. Your depraved mind latches on to every negative synapse firing in your diseased brain, explores it, dissects it, until you convince yourself that you are incurable, you are nothing. You’re just taking up space, mi amigo. You will get intimate with your couch and try to sleep away the fog, a silly ruse to numb the ache. But the shadows don’t play fair, they don’t peruse a rule book before inhabiting your everything, they will hammer you into submission without remorse. They will hover over you like a blanket of avenging vapors, haunting you, spooking your frayed thoughts. They will turn off the lights. It’s a joyride, I highly recommend it.

Hopefully, when you’re in this state of rapid deterioration, you don’t have any other issues floating around in your head, because the great white shark doesn’t like to swim with the other desperate residents splashing around inside your splintered cranium. For example, if you covet something or someone, if you have this pulsating desire to immerse yourself in this thing you must have, it probably won’t end well for you. See, the depression will mock you, berate you, nudge you to reveal yourself in all your demented splendor. Do it, man. Do it. And when things fall apart, when you plunge recklessly into a fool’s gambit, the black cloud will laugh maniacally at your weakness, your insignificance, your acrid stench of failure. And the object of your misguided and delusional attempt at some form of twisted acceptance might chuckle at your grandiose naïveté as well. Like I said, a joyride. A frightening one. Close your eyes and grab the safety bar with all your strength, white-knuckle that steel fucker.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a music post. On a brighter note, depression will eventually dissipate to the point that you can stay upright, stay functional, and begin to put the carnage in the rearview mirror. Whenever you enter a battle against the well-armed force of negativity and self-loathing, you won’t escape completely unscathed. You will wear a coat of wounds for what seems like an eternity, but you will survive. You will wipe your brow and notice that the pain has been vanquished, you will feel okay. And that’s where I’m at currently, I feel better and somewhat optimistic, if not a bit humbled. Plus, I have some cheesy breadsticks in the fridge, and that’s a good thing. (Dream small, folks)

Below are a few songs that soothed me as I tried to claw my way out of the hole of nothingness, or a couple of tunes that pushed me further down, a pile of lyrical dirt on an exhausted shovel. Take a listen, yo.