Tag: Float

FLOAT: The Flower of Gower Gulch By Mike Cecconi

Word: FLOAT
Word count 500
The Flower of Gower Gulch
By Mike Cecconi

In east Hollywood, at the corner of Sunset and Gower, there’s a strip-mall called Gower Gulch. Not everything is glamourous there, of course, most of the people are just trying to get by, not trying to “make it” in pictures, just trying to make rent. There must be strip-malls for them too, even in Dreamland.

In most ways, it’s a normal strip mall, Starbucks, a Baskins, Rite-Aid, a Denny’s left to float alone in the parking lot, protected by wide eaves from the cruel California sun. Fitting the local mythology, however, are walls festooned with faces of old Western film stars and across from the Denny’s, a vintage medicine wagon with the phrase “Gower Gulch” painted in broad yellow letters upon it. The sort that sold fake patent cures to bored frontiersmen, knowing they didn’t do anything but buying from them anyway so that the show would go on.

There’s no gulch there, never was, not even back before the oil-men ripped up the trains to put in the highways. It was just a conceit born of half-marketing and half-sentiment, blending into each other over the decades.

In its heyday, however, there were multiple studios there that focused on Westerns and while they’d film the actual pictures in LA’s rural outskirts, their offices were at the corner of Sunset and Gower. They’d do the writing, the producing there, they’d shoot interiors at adjacent lots, they would do the casting there too.

They’d advertise in the papers for extras and bit-players in their oat pictures, telling them there was bonus money for performers who’d wear their own authentic costumes or bring their own horses, saving producers money. Pretty soon the urban area was inundated with actual cowboys coming in from the hinterlands with their dusty ranch-wear and actual horses, leading locals to dub it as “Gower Gulch”. It was a confected imaginary ranch that had become, in a sense, real.

Many of the Western stars were discovered there, lured by cash to transition from real cowboys to fake ones in the movies, John Wayne, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, expatriated to the imaginary at Gower Gulch. It became an in-joke in film, naming more than a few fictional places after it. In one Porky Pig cartoon he sang “The Flower of Gower Gulch” about the prettiest girl in a small Western town who wasn’t that pretty at all, it was just that she was one of the few women in the town. Their running gag became real and even now there’s a little strip-mall to show for it.

People go to there to make their dreams real, even if they fail and end up working at a Denny’s or on a bus back to Des Moines from whence we came. Real ranch-hands went there to make a quick buck and ended up imaginary cowboys forever. It’s where the fake goes to become real and the real goes to become fake, sublimating between waking and sleep, reality and dreams.

I miss it, sometimes.

FLOAT: The Deed was Done By Sally Madison

Word: FLOAT
Words: 499
The Deed was Done
By Sally Madison

The deed was done. Alexandria called out, “Alma, Kolya, Natalia! It’s time! Come quickly!

Natalia stripped the officers of their uniforms and trimmed their hair like the local peasants’. Alma came with a wheelbarrow and collected all the armaments. Kolya brought a horse into the dining room, and all four loaded the dead, naked bodies onto blankets for the horse to drag. Kolya led the horse down by the marsh, where he had tilled the ground and dug a shallow grave. Alma hid the armaments behind a false wall they had built in the barn. After covering the shiny metal armaments with a dark blanket, she began placing the final stones on the wall.

Alexandria scurried through the castle, collecting the maps and all other evidence of the officers’ presence. She charged into the barn, breathless; interrupted Alma, and added her collection to the pile of armaments.

Kolya rolled the bodies into the shallow grave and covered the humanity, first with the blankets, then with rocks, to avoid the floating. To distract any man or beast attracted by the impending odor, a couple dead woodchucks were buried near the surface. He had only a few hours left. He worked feverishly, swishing the ground with pine boughs, to cover the horse’s tracks. “A little rain tonight would be a blessing, Lord Jesus,” he prayed.

Alexandria left a note on the dining table, where the maps had previously lain, and ran upstairs to get one of her most prized possessions, her rosary. She returned to assisted Natalia with the burning of the clothes. The ashes were swept into a pile and more wood was added on top, to rebuild the fire. Alma returned to the kitchen to see the two ladies spreading onion and garlic soaked water on the kitchen floor. All three carried jugs of water and dry bread to the dungeon, as well as, more valerian and St. John’s Wart, to drug the horses.

Kolya wrapped the hooves with leather, to prevent any prints on the floors, then led the drugged horses into the kitchen and down to the dungeon.

The horses were led to the straw that had been prepared for them. Alma and Natalia gently stroked the animals, while offering them more tainted water and feed. Alexandria sang softly to calm the animals as they slowly went to sleep.

Suddenly, they heard the noise from above. They sat, praying that the deception had worked. “Lord Jesus, please defend and protect us in our hour of need.” The only sound from the dungeon was of the horse’s snoring, which was muffled when Kolya gently placed his blanket over the horse’s head. Closets were ripped apart, cupboards were trashed, tables and chairs were torn away from the walls. Down the stairs came one of the soldiers. Grabbing the bars of the dungeon, he shook with all his strength, against the lock. The fugitives held their breath, and gently stroked the horses in hopes they would not startle and awake.

FLOAT: Moment of Truth By Sharon Collins

Word: FLOAT
Word Count 468

Moment of Truth
By Sharon Collins

Shadows darker than death lurk in the nightshade. Their hungry eyes float, fluorescing green in the waning firelight. My courage sputtering and flickering with the flames, like the moonlight is nearly gone. My Judgement has begun. The presence of a dozen clansmen waiting in the forest pines, does little to relieve my fear as the fangs are closer now than they. I will not die it, but I will suffer. Believed to be the Headsman’s child, neither my complete failure nor full Justice will be allowed. This privilege angers me. I would rather die than be his. Another bitter benefit of Mother’s deceit I am forced to bear, like the crumbling necklace of shattered shell. The yellowed shells have gotten sharper with age and cut into my neck with each trembling breath.

After Mother’s death ceremony, I tried to destroy the shameful thing. Intending to send it back into the sea, I climbed the very cliff Grandmother climbed that day she invented the New Way to harvest the juicy sweetness of the clams. Trickster-Gull must have needed a laugh that day because he did not warn me. With the wind in my eyes and the surf in my ears, I did not see or hear the approach of the Headsman’s First-Wife, who had come to harvest the clams herself. She, and only She, is allowed to use the New Way of Harvesting. Dropping her basketful she snatched the necklace from my hand just as I was about to fling it far into the waves. Slapping me over and over, she dragged me before the Elders…again.

‘Twice in the same Moon,’ I think and smile to myself as I draw close the dying glow of the embers. ‘Even the Headsman’s true son has never been sent to the Elders twice in the same Moon.’ I am a thorn in their side and I am glad of it. My first disobedience was creating that sewing tool. Of course, the Headsman’s Wife discovered my invention and complained. She demanded Judgement and hoped for Justice, as she had done to my Grandmother. I would have been sent to the cliff-edge, but Mother left us that very night, and I needed to sew her death tunic. Since I was already half done with the one I was making, the Elders bade me finish quickly, despite tradition. A daughter’s last duty, it took less than one sunrise and sunset to complete, even with the tears in my eyes. Mother wears it now on her journey, and I have not been allowed to use the sewing tool again. The Headman’s Wife has it.

Barely, I hear their soft footpads despite the pine-needled, forest floor. I can almost feel their hungry breath…rising to a crouch, I grip my spear as the light goes out.

FLOAT: Early Cocktail Hour By Peg Scarano

Word: Float
Word Count: 462

Early Cocktail Hour
By Peg Scarano

Summer days were the best. The pool was truly a worthwhile investment on those hot, humid, sultry days. The only drawbacks were the various degrees of swimming skills of, not only my kids, but the neighborhood children as well. Lifeguarding was the antithesis of the warm, relaxing sun and cool water.

My best friend and wine-drinking pal lived next door. Her oldest and mine were a year apart while her youngest and my middle child were inseparable, born only 6 weeks apart. The older two had enough swimming skills to allow us to feel comfortable taking our eyes off them for small moments at a time. The younger two, while very confident in themselves, had not yet instilled their confidence in their moms. They had no fear and we were constantly on high alert.

As moms and friends, Joanne and I had a lot in common. We both enjoyed reading, walking, comparing notes on childhood adventures and, of course, drinking wine. However, I loved swimming and Joanne…well, not so much. She enjoyed swimming in bath water while I liked to swim to cool off. This one lifestyle difference certainly did not affect our neighborly relationship but did limit Joanne’s time in the pool – to practically no time at all.

So the sunny afternoon was passing peacefully. The children were swimming, diving and playing Marco Polo and making normal childhood water racket – usually pretty deafening. For just an instant, the noise dropped a decibel. Joanne and I looked at each other – looked in the pool and at each other again. Her daughter, Erika, was silently floating face down on the water while the other three, oblivious, continued with their antics.

Joanne sat up and called her name. “Erika.” Pregnant pause. “ERIKA!” “E-R-I-K-A!!” Joanne flew from her chair fully clothed and dove into the cold water that she so hated. As soon as she hit the water, Erika’s head popped up and she screamed in her little girl squeak, “MOM! What are you doing?” Choking, Joanne gasped, “I thought you were drowning! You weren’t moving. You weren’t breathing! You didn’t answer me when I called your name!”

In her sweetest little girl voice, Erika, squealed in delight, “Yes! I did it! I did the perfect dead man’s float! Aren’t you proud of me?”

I never saw Joanne get exasperated with Erika before – only her son. She quietly swam to the ladder, her clothes and hair drenched and her body shivering with the wet coldness. She calmly walked over to me and her chair, wrapped herself in a dry towel, sat down and whispered, “I believe it’s time to start cocktail hour.”

The swimming skills had obviously improved significantly and I recalled my dad saying, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!” I went and got the wine.

FLOAT: MIDNIGHT IN THE YARD By Nan Ressue

Word: FLOAT
Word Count 499
MIDNIGHT IN THE YARD
By Nan Ressue
My father’s idea of a vacation had only one option; a fishing trip of course. Two of his three weeks of vacation was spent on fishing trips with his male friends. Mementos of these numerous trips over the years were marked by a bone china teacup presented to see who awaited his return. As the cups accumulated over the years, they were referred to as the Pacification cups. Sometimes, probably when the air was particularly tense, a Spode teapot and some Royal Daulton toby jugs joined the teacup collection and became family treasures.
The family fishing trip consisted of the alpha fisherman, two small daughters and a wife who was a non-swimmer and terrified of water. The first rule laid down by the father was that if you were going to fish, you had to pick your own worms. Preparations required a full day of watering a large backyard with the hose and sprinkler, which the little daughters dutifully moved around the yard during the day so that the ground would be saturated. The earthworms would surface to escape drowning
Worm picking happened at night and required sharp eyes, quick fingers, and a flashlight… Additional equipment included boots, a coffee can half full of coffee grounds and a slime rag. Long, brown red bodies were stretched out nearly full length in the short grass with their tail end still in the ground so they could quickly retract. The process involved bending over, shining the light on the wet grass, spotting your target, pouncing with lightning speed, pulling that sucker out of the ground and plopping him in you can. Mucus accumulations could be wiped on your rag or on the seat of your pants.
We each had our fish pole, a leader, a hook with a sinker, and a bright red float so you could tell where your worm was waiting for “the big one” to swim by.
Probably twenty years went by before I learned you could buy fishing worms for a penny a piece. Little did we know that learning to pluck chickens was on the horizon.

FLOAT: Let Your Spirit Float By B.A. Sarvey

Word: FLOAT
Word Count 500

Let Your Spirit Float
By B.A. Sarvey
The sun grasped for purchase in the sullen sky, waking Luna. She roused the others. Subdued conversation conveyed trepidation, elation, wonder. Yesterday’s shock lingered, but Luna resolved to find an answer.
At mid-day, approaching Guff’s adopted home, Luna worried, “What if Meme cannot help us?”
“She will,” Guff assured her, leading the way to Meme’s dwelling.
Meme looked up from her mending. “Son! Give your old Meme a hug.” She rose as he came forward, put her arms around him.
Guff coughed. “I didn’t realize how much,” he faltered, “how much I missed you.”
“Go on,” she chided. “And all growed up in a moon-span.” Releasing Guff, she turned to Luna and Howard. “Welcome back. Humble thanks for turning the invaders.”
“I recognize you!” exclaimed Luna. “You shared biscuits and cider, the first day I camped here. I thought I was well hidden, but Guff says you spotted me?”
“Food first. I’ve been expecting you. Again.” Meme dished up hearty brown bread and fish chowder thick with potatoes, carrots, and celery. For the moths, a saucer of honey-water. “I see things,” Meme began. “Well, you know that. My third eye sees what others overlook. Delves into what will be. The trail betwixt reveals the why.” Meme sighed. “I have known of you longer than you have been on this earth. Not all the particulars, mind you. But enough. I can teach you the way.”
“Right now, I just want to find the way to my family.” Luna related her tale of abandonment and vanishings.
Meme nodded sagely. “Your village is right where you left it. Truth, happiness, kin—all there.”
“But I…everyone saw nothing where my people should have been.”
“It was your feeling of abandonment making them invisible, creating a reason for being left behind. It hurt less that way.”
“But what of everyone else? Why didn’t Guff, Howard, the moths, see it?”
“You transmitted an image of a village vanished. They believed you. Yes, even before the moths entered the clearing.”
“How do I bring them back?”
“See with your third eye. Let your spirit float in that half-dream/half-awake moment. Recapture what is yours.” Meme’s ample hug enveloped Luna. “Go find your people,” she murmured. “Then come back to me. I will teach you your purpose.”
“I quiet myself,” said Luna. “I see what needs doing. Is that my third eye?”
“Partly. Much learning remains.”

Dusk and fingers of fog were settling over the area where Luna’s village should be. She drew her cloak tightly about her small frame. Howard and Guff reached out to her. “No. I must do this alone,” she whispered. Closing her eyes, she centered her thoughts on her parents, pictured them laughing with a silver-haired girl. Her spirit, elated, floated past the trees. 
“Luna,” Guff interrupted. “I hear laughter.”
Leaving her dream-state, Luna clapped, then sprinted forward. “Mother! Papa! I missed you.”
“What a dreamer,” her mother said. “You got lost, didn’t you?”
Luna nodded. “And found my destiny. Meet my new friends.”

FLOAT: Float By Anne Nassar

Word: FLOAT
Word Count 468
Float
By Anne Nassar
It was the wrong place for a meal of mercy. You had to walk through the bar to get to the private banquet room, and the bar was jam packed with drunken rednecks. As Ella made her way through the crowd, someone pinched her ass. Ordinarily, she’d have an emasculating comment for the offender, but it wasn’t an ordinary time, so she held her tongue. She had the idea that a mourner ought to be stoic and unconcerned with the trivialities of the world.
She made it to the room where her mother’s friends and relatives were gathered. She stood with her hand on the doorknob, took several deep breaths, and tried to work up the courage to enter. At least half of the people were strangers. Panic-stricken, Ella scanned the room for her sister, and to her relief, caught sight of her sitting at a table, presiding over a heaping platter of chicken bones.
Sophie got up and waved.
There was a loud thump, followed by gasps and shrieks. A tiny, skeletal old woman was lying on the floor with her knees drawn up. She was clutching at her throat with both hands and making a retching sound. Everyone stood back, staring.
Ella grabbed the woman up by her sweater. She hardly weighed anything at all, and she offered no resistance, floppy as a rag doll. Ella flipped her over, slid her arms under the woman’s ribcage, laced her fingers together, and squeezed. A chicken bone came flying out of the woman’s mouth in a neat arc and landed on the carpet.
The crowd of people cheered and applauded. Ella let the woman free.
The woman didn’t thank or even acknowledge Ella. She staggered back to her seat and sat down and picked up another chicken wing.
Helen, you imbecile, her tablemate said, put down that chicken wing.
Sophie was suddenly there at Ella’s side. She put her arms around Ella’s waist. Ella could smell alcohol on her breath.
You’re a hero! Sophie said.
Like Lassie! Ella said.
Just like Lassie! Way to make an entrance! You know who that lady is?
The lady I saved?
Yeah. That’s our grandmother.
Ella looked at the old woman. She bore very little resemblance to her daughter. She was chewing with her mouth open, hunched over her plate, licking her fingers between bites. It seemed impossible. The old woman felt Ella looking at her. She turned her gaze onto Ella and the contempt and malice in it sent a chill up Ella’s spine. Helen looked her up and down, and then dismissed her, wrote her off completely, by looking away.
Ella whispered into Sophie’s ear, That was the filthiest look ever given!
What is her problem? Sophie said.
Who cares? Ella said, I’ve got an appointment with a floating worm.