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!

Enjoy!

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.

“Ben?”

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.”

“Pity.”

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.

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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.

Professional.

Cold.

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.

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.”