Sunday, October 25, 2015

Read ’em and weep

This is the result of an exercise that required using no modifiers. You cant blame the Internet Writing Workshop for inciting this nonsense, though it is for one of their practice exercises.


Jack Jackson wiped foam from his mustache, and he smiled the smile of a winner. Or a cheat. “Read em and weep, ladies,” he said as he slapped his cards one by one on the table, which shook with laughter that bounced off his gut. “Jack, Jack, Jack, and Jack. Don't I just love that name? Oh, and a deuce of no use.” Jack reached and scooped the scattering of twenties and fifties, the hopes and prayers and cash for groceries and rent and uniforms for football for the boys and shoes for Sally all disappearing in a miasma of smoke from the Cohibas Jack had smuggled out of Havana. Wives were going to have husbands sleeping on the couches, and apologies wouldn’t suffice worth the kettle of beans my girlfriend burned on the stove a month ago when she stubbed her toe and I had to drive her to the doctor. No babies were about to begin their journey into the world that night, not from us losers.

I couldn’t bear the agony. What would I tell the Missus? She’d weep, then scream words she saved up just for times like this, then ricochet a skillet off my cranium as her eyes glowed like rubies heated in the depths of Hades. No adjectives or adverbs could save me, and by midnight I’d lie in a pool of blood on the linoleum on the floor of the kitchen. Then I expect she'd wipe her prints off the weapon, call 911, and blame it on an intruder.

Fearing such an outcome, I drew my .44 and put a slug in Jack. I guess it got him in the heart, because his shirt blossomed there like a rosebud in June. His mouth gaped like one of them flytraps from Venus, but he was through gloating like he'd won the lottery or laid my wife. The rest of us split the pot and went home.

I am at the gallows where I will hang for the murder of Jack Jackson, but I don’t mind. It was either this or the skillet.

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