writer prompt….Ruby Red Poison

This week’s writer’s prompt is brought to you by the emotion: Disgust. Other sponsors include Laura, who provided the emotion and Borderlands 2 for providing the background music!


The bar was crowded on a Friday night; the band playing covers of old songs while couples conversed over drinks or danced in the small area designated as the dance floor.

Ben had come to this little bar three years ago seeking isolation.

Four years ago in a dusty town in Iraq, he had lost his entire squad to the woman who was currently coming through the wood door.

Three years ago he ended up in another dusty town outside of Lubbock, Texas. Trying to reconcile what he’d lost with what he’d allowed to happen. Slowly, he had started to piece together some sort of life for himself.

He signaled to Gus, the old bartender with a scar from Vietnam and an attitude from Brooklyn. Without a word, Gus poured another few fingers of whisky into a glass that was about as clean as Gus’ language and plopped it down.

It might have been a long time since he’d ever had the need to be on high alert but what was ingrained in him wasn’t going away, not even in three years. It allowed him to always stay one step ahead of everyone.

Everyone but himself.

That’s why he didn’t need to see Gus’ eyebrow quirk and his thin lips turn down to know exactly who was behind him.

“I’ll have what he’s having,” a voice like velvet said behind him.


Though Gus’ tone said very little, he could read the old man like a book. Gus didn’t like strangers but he wouldn’t turn a paying customer away. It had taken Ben a good two years before Gus spoke more than two sentences to him.

What Gus was asking was if the woman behind him was welcome.

Ben shook his head slightly and with a nod Gus walked down to the other side of the bar.

“That wasn’t very nice.”

He didn’t want to turn around. Didn’t want to pay any attention but if he didn’t, she wouldn’t leave. She still smelled the same, a strange mix of lilacs and jasmine.

It made him want to puke.

Turning, his eyes roamed over her tall lithe body. “You look the same,” he said blandly.

“Still alive.”


As she moved to the side of him, she smiled her patented ruby red smile. It was meant to entice him. All it did was make his head hurt and his intestines burn.

With fingers as graceful as a pianist, she stroked back a lock of his brown hair, frowning as he moved away.

He felt as if a thousand tiny spiders had crawled over the spot where she had touched him.

Though his heart was beating a million miles a minute and his muscles were tensing with the need to shove her away, he maintained his composure, calling upon years of service training to control his movements.

“What do you want?” he said calmly.

He knew whatever it was, he wouldn’t be doing it. She was prettier than a picture but as dangerous as anthrax. Besides, she was a stone cold killer. Even he had his standards.

“I need your help.” She said softly as she moved closer. Her perfume clogged his nostrils and he slammed back his drink so he didn’t gag.

“You don’t need anyone.”

“I need you.”

He curled his lip and stood. If she had been anyone else, with her silky black hair and come-hither body, he would’ve heard her out.

As it stood, he wouldn’t give her the time of day.

“You need to leave.”

She shook her head, a curtain of her hair falling over her face. “I can’t.”

Ben looked at her closer, certain her act of helplessness was exactly that. An act.

To an innocent bystander, she looked a little lost, a little scared, a bit vulnerable. To him, he caught the glimmer of excitement in her cold brown eyes. She was anything but vulnerable.

That’s when the memory hit him, hard and with no warning.

His men running around the compound, pulling out the innocent and rounding up the bad guys, while she laughed like a maniac. Knives in her hands that moved like ribbons. Blood spattering her cruel but beautiful face, her legs and torso kicking and twisting as she killed those that had bombed a small school. To her, they were nothing. To him, they were bastards but he didn’t need to be the one who killed them.

He called her by the name she had given him, but she didn’t answer. When the bastards were down, she moved on. Speaking in a language he didn’t understand. He understood the movement of the knives, the sound of gunfire, and his men falling to the ground.

She had betrayed them and then she had slaughtered them all. His men and the innocent. Whoever got in her way, she had cut them down.

He couldn’t move as she came closer to him. Her eyes lit with an unholy glee and her ruby lips turned up in a smile that seemed better suited on a pumpkin.

She spoke again in that language he didn’t understand as she placed a bloody hand to his cheek.

“Remember.” was all that he head before the knife entered his lungs.

As the memory receded and the sound of music and laughter again reached his ears, he smiled at her. A smile that made her eyelid twitch.

“I’m leaving. You don’t get to follow me.”

“Ben.” she said his name with a reverence that rang false.

It made his skin itch and he ached for a shower.

“You’ve got three minutes before I call the sheriff and tell them an internationally wanted psychopath is standing in Gus’ Saloon.”

Her smile returned and she saw the relief flash briefly on her face. “Do you really think some Podunk sheriff can take me down?”

Blood rushed to his ears as his stomach began to violently beat against his abdomen. Ben shrugged and signaled to Gus he wanted another one.

“No. I don’t. I do know that if you hurt one hair on anyone’s head and then it’s me you’ve got to face. I reckon I don’t have too much to lose.”

He didn’t wait for her answer or her reaction as he hurried past her to the men’s room, saliva filling his mouth with the unpleasant burn of bile burning his throat.

He didn’t hear the voices asking if he was ok as he emptied his stomach into a toilet that had seen better days. No, all he heard was the sound of crying. And the high pitched laughter of a woman who had gone over the edge.

early writer friday: Bullet with his name on it

This is a free thought writing prompt that I wrote about a year ago. I don’t know what prompted me or what I was reading at the time to think of such a story of revenge, but I liked it. So I kept it. With a few edits, I present to you my untitled vignette of loss and revenge.


The Big Combo trailer image


When I was thirteen years old, I witnessed my first murder.

Susy had been eighteen and gorgeous. Or at least that’s what I thought of my older sister. Blonde, clear blue eyes, flawless skin that would only break out in pimples during her time of the month and curves that made her boyfriend Scott smile like an idiot.

Despite being pretty and well-liked, Susy was nice. To everyone. Including the weird smelly kid down the block, to my Mom’s bastard of a boyfriend and to the three legged cat that camped out on under our front porch with a predilection to scratch and spit.

Most importantly she was nice to me.

I don’t have any illusions about what a little shit I had been at thirteen; angry most of the time, obnoxiously sarcastic all of the time and a thief some of the time, I was not a poster child for all that was good and sweet in adolescents. In fact, I had been threatened with boot camp, Catholic school and juvie enough times that a normal kid would’ve known to quit while she was ahead.

I wasn’t a normal kid. Neither was my situation.

But, if I knew then what I knew now…well, I would’ve changed. I wouldn’t have pushed buttons, wouldn’t have pushed people away and definitely wouldn’t have opened the door to the man who killed my only ally.

In hindsight, through therapy mostly, I realized that the weeks leading up to Susy’s murder she had become withdrawn. She was constantly sick and moody, the nice Susy, the cheerleader and valedictorian had been replaced by crazy Susy. The Susy that cried herself to sleep at night, who weeped while brushing my hair and would suddenly become quiet when I entered a room.

To say that Susy was my sister would be to cheapen our relationship. Yes, she was my biological half-sister; the product of my father’s first marriage.  Our Dad had died when I was three and my mother, our father’s second wife, had taken in Susy and for the first few years had raised us like the normal kids we should’ve been.

It was only when I was nine did shit hit the fan.

Susy was like my mother. She took me to school, helped with my homework, wiped away my tears, fought for me and fed me. She was the only person in the world I didn’t want to disappoint.

She was the only person who loved me.

I let her down when I opened that door.

Jerry Thomas Willis was six foot three, blonde and dark eyed. He was two hundred and eighty pounds of muscle and had an attitude that was fueled by booze and vitriol. He loved two things, Jim Beam and my mother Janet Berk. The two J.B’s in his life, he would joke as he smacked my mother’s ass.

Janet hadn’t always been Jerry’s whore. No, she had been a paralegal who had graduated near the top of her class and held two degrees. When my Dad had been alive she had affectionate, if slightly distracted. With her long black hair and grey eyes, my mother had captivated my father with a look. Or at least that’s how she told it. I think it might have been the fact she was pregnant with me.

As Jerry’s girlfriend, Janet went from an intelligent and beautiful woman to a weak willed shell.

The smacks on the ass had turned into smacks across the face which then migrated to beatings.

They evolved into a familial thing.

I was twelve when Jerry broke my arm.

He gave me a few more bruises and scrapes before my mother finally kicked him out and taught both Susy and I about gun safety.

You can never forget the smell of gun powder and freedom.

Susy had always remained unscathed. Scott, though only five nine, had squared off with Jerry a few times and Jerry, though a drunk, was not stupid enough to go after Susy.

Except for that Friday night in October.

Jerry, stumbling drunk and pissed off beyond measure had come to our back door. Janet had been at an AA meeting, Susy was babysitting and Scott was at school.

Pissed that I needed a babysitter, pissed that I was stuck in a backward town in a decrepit ranch house with only one tv and no cable, pissed that I was thirteen and alive; I opened the back door and in came Jerry.

For years I beat myself up over that; He hadn’t needed to even knock on the door, I just let him in. It took many years of therapy to realize that no, I hadn’t let him in, he had pushed me aside so hard that I had bounced off of the wall and onto my face. I still had the bump in my nose to prove its brokenness.

Whatever happened after that will always remain a blur. I remember hearing shouting and a loud crash. Then the sound of flesh against bone and a thud, and then the screaming. That sound still wakes me up at night. It’s the sound of pure terror.

To this day, I can’t tell if it was her or me that was making such an awful sound.

There had been pleading and begging and shouts for me to run, to get away.

I remember that the song playing on the radio was “Tainted Love”.

My memories play like a dream when I think about how the order of events happened. The radio blaring, the sound of the radiator kicking in and Susy crying and pleading that he leave her baby alone.

My thirteen year old self thought she had meant me.

I just know that before the absolute quiet hit, I had reached into the freezer where my mother kept my Dad’s .38 special.

If I think about it, I must have slipped the safety, stood behind him and pulled the trigger but if you put the same gun to my head, I wouldn’t be able to swear to that. All I know is that the screaming had stopped and the radiator stopped kicking and I had squeezed the trigger, the recoil knocking me backwards, smacking my head against a protruding brick from the fireplace we hadn’t used in five years.

Darkness, sweet blissful darkness came after that.

When I came to in a hospital, a smiling nurse at my side and a sobbing Scott on the other side, I pretended to be asleep. Something about the tension in the room made me wary about waking too soon. It was only when I heard the third voice near the foot of my bed, Detective George Marster from the Greene Sheriff’s department, that my sister, my beloved sweet sister who I had called a bitch when she hadn’t changed the radio, was dead.

I was also told that Jerry Thomas Willis had survived the gunshot wound to his chest.

It was days later, when I was being settled into Scott’s well used Chevy that he told me that Susy had been pregnant. They had planned on getting married and taking me with them to Boston.  He loved me like a little sister, he had said with his voice tripping on unshed sobs, and he was still moving to Boston and I was more than welcome to come with him.

Susy would’ve been proud of me, he had said as tears finally fell from his eyes. He had aged at least ten years in the past few days and I knew that I didn’t look like a young kid anymore.

My Mom didn’t fight me when I packed up my stuff.

Scott’s the only family I have and we’re both still haunted.  We rattle around the house and make all of the appropriate noises that living people do. Every once in awhile we even have fun.

But then one or both of us gets quiet.

I’m not sure what he’s thinking but I know what is bouncing through my head. I know what I can never tell him.

I know where Jerry Thomas Willis is. I know his schedule, his patterns, his disgusting habits and the fact that I have to close this particular end.

Not have to. Need to. Taking a life for a life, that’s the only thing that will satisfy this living breathing blackness that has taken residence in my chest.

I need to do it for both of us.

Which leads me to now.

I am 30 years-old and I will perpetrate my first murder.

writer friday; from the dame’s point of view

Today’s Writer Friday, albeit a little late, is a special one. The writing prompt is the emotion/state nervous with the added bonus of written in the noir style. This is brought to you by Chuck M, an old buddy of mine who has exceptional writing chops (especially in this genre) and who I hope to have on this blog at some point. I’m not that great at this style, not without reading more Hammett and whatnot but here goes nothing.

Let’s dip the bill Chuck, next rounds on me.

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart

It was dark when she approached the opaque glass door but there was enough light to highlight the name broadly painted on the door; Dash Marlowe, Private Dick.

The name alone was enough to stop her in her tracks. But she was in an honest to goodness jam and despite the profession, or because of the profession if she was honest with herself, she needed Dash. He was an honest jobbie who played fair and square with his clients.

He wouldn’t involve the coppers and he wouldn’t endanger any dame even if she was guilty. She knew that. Knew it without a doubt.

It didn’t make any of this easier.

She swallowed against the dryness in her mouth.

She didn’t want to do it; didn’t want to knock on the door to face the man inside. They had too much…no, they had a lifetime of history and she didn’t have the gall to face the shamus inside.

“You can do it Nancy,” she murmured to herself as she smoothed sweaty palms over her pink wool skirt, she adjusted her matching  straw hat and took a deep breath. She could do this. She had to. It wasn’t a matter of wanting to. It was a matter of life or death. If Elizabeth wasn’t found by Friday…she bit her rouge stained lips and tried to block the mental image of her sister being tormented.

It would be the big sleep for her baby sister.

Despite the butterflies in her stomach and the bile rising in her throat with each passing minute; despite all that, she had a duty, an obligation, to make sure her sister was brought back in one piece.

Shivering in the dim hallway, she steeled her spine. Her parents were dead, her brother was trying to marry into money in London and the only person she could trust, she had kicked to the curb a year ago.

She had no one.

Except for Elizabeth.

Though she was the moll of Frankie Abruzzi, the leader of the local trouble boys,  Lizzie was still her baby sister and Nancy couldn’t just let her get caught up in shenanigans that could kill her.

No, she had to forget Dash’s kisses, his tenderness, his broad shoulders that could take on much more than hers ever could and just focus on the means to an end.

Dash was the best. She needed the best.

Opening her eyes, she licked her lips. Professional. Yeah, she had to keep this professional and distant.

She could be cold. Dash had accused her of that many times.

A bubble of laughter spilled out of her mouth as she reached for the door knob. Dash might be the best flatfoot in the business, but he wasn’t terribly observant when it came to his personal life.



Pushing back her errant thoughts and the feeling of wanting to be sick, she turned the cold steel knob.

She could absolutely do this.

She had to.

fear, panties, and wolfberry pop-tarts

DT as 10th Doctor


The other night I was up late, due to sleeping issues, and an idea came to me. Ok, not an idea so much as a revision of an idea and I couldn’t get it out of my head for the life of me. Every time I dozed off, the images and dialogue popped up in my head like an old drive-in movie and I couldn’t shake it away.  Usually this is a great thing. I crave these moments like dragon-chaser craves that ultimate vivid high. To me it means my muse has once again deigned to grace me with her presence (oh muse, you fickle fickle thing).

It also means that sleep will continue to elude me until I write this stuff down.

So, being the good little insomniac that I am, I arose from my bed with nary a clatter and stumbled half-sleeping into my living room, grabbing my white board and a marker before plopping down on the couch. Turning on the television, I turn the channel to the Food Network/Cooking Channel (which is another subject for another time) and write by the light of the Iron Chef.

I erased everything that was on my white board which had Story Idea A on it and started on Story Idea B, which in my opinion was better and more suited to my style and taste. The problem with SI A was that I was never sure if I needed to make it First Person or Third Person. I tend to write in the Third Person focusing on two characters at a time (meaning two POV switches only) and First Person when I am writing a short story or vignette.  The fact that I was vacillating between the two gave me pause and stopped me from writing more than three pages. I wasn’t sure where the hell it should go and how it should be voiced.

That’s an indicator that something is wrong.

Also, the story felt too contrived and it was hard for me to get to the points I wanted to get to. I don’t really have a logical plan when I start writing. I have bios and characteristics and I have a synopsis and points that I want to hit; it’s more like a blue print rather than an itemized list.

Anyway, back to the story.

So, erasing everything and writing down the SI B, I feel really good about this story and I can’t wait to write it. I mean I’ve already visualized the important parts and dialogue; all I really need to do is just write it down.

That’s when it happens.


At first it feels a little like how you feel before going to a party by yourself and you don’t really know anyone. And they aren’t serving alcohol.

Then you take a few breaths and mentally mutter “I can do this” but it doesn’t sound as convincing as you thought it was going to sound so you pause and wonder how are you going to do this.

The nerves turn into anxiety.

What if I can’t do this? What if it is all going to turn to crap and then I’m going to end up never writing anything and it will end like crap and I’ll keep repeating myself until my fragile ego needs to be coddled and soothed like a mewling infant?

This is when the awesome numbness slips over you and you can’t do anything but stare at a group of people trying to make wolfberry poptarts FTW!

I suck.

That’s the only thought that I had at that moment. That I really and truly just suck.

I took to Facebook with my feelings of inadequacy and a few people responded that I should pretty much put on my big girl panties and push on.

On anything else I would completely and wholeheartedly agree.

But when it comes to something that is such a part of me and is such an expression of vulnerability, I can’t help but listen to the” I can’t do this, this will be awful no matter what”, portion of my brain (that treacherous bastard).

I think I need a new pair of big-girl panties.


writer friday. look ma, no hands!

I’ve been having some serious writer’s block lately. I think it’s because I haven’t been stimulated my brain but that’s hard to do when you’re in the house all day and you’re only means of intelligent conversation is a goldfish and two finches.

To combat insanity, every once in awhile I post a plea on Facebook for a word or phrase or emotion to start writing. A writing prompt if you will.

This is a repeat of one that I did a few weeks ago. It was sent in by my MIL and the emotion was Despair. Enjoy.



She stood stock still in the middle of the sidewalk, her shoulders rigid and her left hand still clutching the active cell phone. The sounds of traffic faded away until all she could hear was the roar of her blood in her ears. Her heart, the thing that she had tried to protect at all costs, was broken.

The news wasn’t unexpected but it still hurt.

A bump to her shoulder sent her cellphone to the sidewalk and reality crashed back into her. With adrenaline and fear guiding her body, she grabbed her phone and put it to her ear as she started walking. “Is there anything I can do?”

“Where the hell did you just go?” the voice on the other end, at once familiar and strange, barked. “This is what I’m talking about. This is why this is happening. Just…”

She was sure he continued his tirade but she couldn’t listen. Her life was shattering into tiny pieces and her mind was desperately grasping at anything she could gather and rebuild. “Why?”

A deep sigh echoed through the phone and she couldn’t help but picture his face. He would be rubbing his eyes and looking down as his exasperation took over.

“Tell me what I can do to fix this. Please?” she heard her voice break and belatedly winced at the pathetic note in her voice. She shook her head as she heard him shifting on the other end. “Please?” she whispered, the adrenaline winding down and her eyes burning. “Tell me, I’ll do anything. Anything. Please.”

There was a pause, a moment of delay that gave her hope, a big beautiful bright ray of hope until she heard him clear his throat. She knew that sound, knew what he was gearing up for. The burning in her eyes escalating until she couldn’t breathe.

“Joe, please. Please! Don’t do this.”

“I have to. I just…we aren’t the same people we were ten years ago. I…love her.”

Someone sobbed, a high deep sound. ‘Me,’ she thought as she staggered to a stop in front of a building. “How? Why?” It was meant to be an inside thought. She had been taught to never ask a question she didn’t know the answer to.

“I’m sorry.”

She laughed, a maniacal sound even to her. “You didn’t break a dish Joe, you’re leaving me. Sorry doesn’t even cut it.”

He cleared his throat again. “I thought I at least owed you enough to tell you in person. The papers should be at your office in an hour.”

Oh that’s right. Lunch. She had been grabbing a bite to eat when her phone rang. Numbness settled into her bones as she leaned against the warm brick of the building. “Owed me?”

“Yes,” irritation crept through the line and she found that she couldn’t care. Couldn’t dredge up a single iota of empathy.

“Your sense of noble gallantry has been filled Joe. Thanks for the call.”

“I -“

A sliver of fire ran through her as her stomach roiled. “Fuck you.”

Disconnecting the call, she sniffed and rolled her head back. Ten years of marriage and all it took was ten minutes to end it. There was no bargaining, no begging, no strategy that she could employ that could save the life that she knew; that was comfortable and safe in. No, ten years of marriage and she was leaning on a building with absolutely no idea what the hell to do.

Blinking, she let the numbness slide over her. “Fuck you Joe. Fuck you.”