Tag Archives: flash

My New Gig [fiction]

Highway lights at night

It was 1987 and I was flying high. January first I went to a potluck and a dude there offered me a gig for fifty gees. His name was Tumbleweed, and I didn’t ask why. Over a plateful of macaroni salad and Swedish meatballs, he said he needed a driver for a couple months, and I told him I was free. Jimmy Bluenose whispered a word in his ear, and that was that. No, I didn’t have a résumé with me. As if.

Tumbleweed went out of the country for a week (I did not ask where) and gave me a jingle on the tenth.

“Be at Magnolia and PCH five ayem.”

OK, the dude wasn’t much for small talk, but I wasn’t about to complain when he was paying me fifty big ones just to drive people around. I put on my monkey suit, slicked my hair into a neat ponytail, and off I went.

I picked up a man with two blonde girls and drove them to LAX. They were silent the entire drive, so I played an ABBA tape. If they wanted something other than “Dancing Queen,” they only had to speak up, but the trio stared straight ahead.

We made LAX in good time. Finally, the last blonde out of the car said, “I liked that ‘Waterloo’ song.”

“I’m glad,” I said. “Have a nice trip.”

She just rolled her eyes like I was an idiot.

The second she shut the door, Tumbleweed buzzed me. “Wait there. Black guy in a green suit needs a ride at noon.”

Noon? I had almost six hours to kill. I went to a coffee shop nearby and sat next to a redhead in black spandex. She was eating French toast with bacon.

“That looks good,” I said, motioning for the waitress to fill ‘er up.

“Fifty bucks,” the redhead replied.

I glanced at her plate again. “For French toast?”

“Yeah,” she smirked. “For French toast.”

Oh. I guess I’m a little slow. I had scrambled eggs and coffee, and then “French toast” in my car.

“Look,” the redhead said. “I like you and all. But next time, please… no ‘Mamma Mia.’”

“Gotcha,” I said, ejecting Abba and slipping in Bruce Springsteen.

“Much better,” she said. “But I have to get going.”

I still had some time, so I went to a bookstore and picked up a couple Mickey’s I hadn’t yet read. Sat on a sofa there and read half of one before it was time to get the black guy in the green suit.

He opened my door at one minute after twelve. I was already loving this gig and the prompt, considerate customers. Or whatever they were.

In the back, Green Suit opened a briefcase and began rummaging through it. I couldn’t see what he was doing because the lid obscured my view.

Finally after ten minutes I asked, “What’s our destination?”

He peered over the lid, looking irritated. “Las Vegas. The Flamingo. And we need to get there by four sharp, so I suggest you move along.”

Jesus! I floored it to Vegas, praying I wouldn’t get stopped for a ticket since there was still that little matter of my probation, and the road gods listened because we made it there at four twenty-five.

Green Suit exited my car without a word. Immediately my phone buzzed. “Pick up the brunette in the yellow dress outside the Embassy Suites and take her to Newark.”

“Newark… New Jersey?”

Click.

I guess he meant New Jersey, since I didn’t know of any other Newarks. I drove over to the Embassy Suites and sure enough Yellow Dress stood under the canopy.

“You’re late,” she announced, showing a lot of leg as she slid into the front seat next to me.

“Sorry honey.” I grinned at her. “I had to pick up milk for the kids.”

She lit a cigarette. “You’re hilarious.”

“Thank you, my dear.” I pulled onto the main drag.

“My pimp’s after me,” she replied. “He’s armed and dangerous.”

It was 1987. I was on cruise control and headed for a wall. Should have gotten out while I was young.

~*~

Image from Pexels.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Running [fffc]

Couple jogging lake

“I’m glad we’re exercising together today, sweetie,” Justin said as the couple began their run. “There’s something I want to–“

“Going all around the lake will probably make us hangry,” Holly interrupted. “It’s over seven miles.”

Justin smiled. “True, it does tend to do that. But we can go to that fun retro diner afterwards, the one enclosed in the mini-mall with the souvenir shops. Anyway, what I wanted to say was–“

“The junior VP really liked my presentation,” Holly announced. “I hope I get better assignments from her now.”

“I hope so too, honey! So, I’ve been thinking–“

“I wonder how many phones are at the bottom of the lake?” Holly mused as she began to jog faster. “My brother dropped his in here yesterday while he was fishing.”

“Holly, wait up,” Justin panted. “I really need to discuss something important with you, but all you want to do is ramble on about meaningless stuff.”

But Holly was too far in front of him now to hear and the wind grabbed his words and flung them away. Soon, Holly was running so fast that she became a blur and disappeared around the bend.

~*~
Image from Pexels.
Written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Aflame [repost]

aflame

As the rest of the team began gathering up their belongings, Lori couldn’t resist toasting one last marshmallow over the dwindling bonfire.

“Hey, Lori.” Dave, her supervisor, touched her shoulder. “Having fun on your first company retreat?”

Lori nodded as she prepared her s’more, layering the gooey marshmallow over half a chocolate bar between two graham crackers. She offered half of it to Dave.

“It’s been a great experience,” she said.

“Thanks, looks delicious!” Dave bit into the s’more. “Mhrhtsfrfrst like that flmnshnt.”

“I’m sorry?” Lori laughed.

Dave swallowed and smiled. “Sorry. I said, my heart’s on fire for you just like that flaming sunset.”

Lori dropped her treat. “What? I mean, no. You can’t say that!”

“Why? It’s a line from a song that was just on.” He grinned. “Now you’ll have to make another s’more.”

Lori didn’t believe him about the song. “I think everyone is leaving now, so I should help clean up.”

Dave tried to grab Lori’s arm as she walked past, but she was agile and avoided him. When she found her backpack, he said, “It’s not that complicated to do well here and get a raise, if you know what I mean.”

“I know what you mean,” said Sylvia, the CEO, who had come up behind them. “Dave, you’re fired. I’m tired of your shenanigans. Also, I’m divorcing you.”

~*~

Written for The Daily Echo.

Image from Sue Vincent (RIP).

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Elephant [fss]

elephant safari africa

As soon as she stepped into the room, she realized that something was different. She glanced around at the familiar furniture, the knickknacks, the paintings. It wasn’t any of that. She simply couldn’t put her finger on it, but she had a definite feeling that something was out of place.

“Hey, Amanda.” Her husband Josh waved the TV remote at her. “You’re home early.”

“I have cramps,” she told him. “And I couldn’t deal with that glut of paperwork on my desk. But what’s going on here?”

Josh frowned. “Nothing, why? Oh, the cable went out for a few minutes, but it’s all good now. I only missed a little bit of Bankruptcy for Dummies.”

“Would you like some wine, Amanda?” Josh’s mistress Melody called from the kitchen where she was cracking eggs into a bowl for a cake. “I’ll open a bottle, but I can’t have any because I’m pregnant again. I just took the test.”

“That would be wonderful,” Amanda said, putting her coat and purse in the closet.

The twins came downstairs. “Mom, we both failed math again,” one of them said. Maybe it was Zoe, or was that Zelda? Amanda couldn’t tell them apart. “But don’t worry, the weed shop hired both of us full-time, so we dropped out of school.”

“That’s great, honey.” Amanda walked over to the armchair where a baby elephant was napping. “What’s Mikey doing in the house? I told you guys he had to stay outside!”

“Calm down, sweetie,” Josh said. “It’s chilly today and—“

Amanda put her coat back on and grabbed her purse. “I’ve had it with you people!” she yelled as she ran out the door.

Melody shook her head. “She’s so intolerant.”

“She should smoke some weed,” Zoe or Zelda said. “All the other moms do and they’re totally chill about elephants.”

~*~

Written for Fandango’s Story Starter.

Image source unknown.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Surveillance [fffc]

“That’s her,” I said. “With the red umbrella.”

My boss glanced at me skeptically. “The pretty girl with the little dog? You’ve got to be kidding.”

“I’m not,” I insisted. “I’ve been watching her every day for a week. I didn’t believe it at first either, but she arrives at precisely ten o’clock and makes the deposit at ten-fifteen. And I followed her back to her apartment house yesterday, which is the same one the last guy was living in.”

“So they’re using the dog poop trash bins as a drop off point?” He shook his head. “I don’t buy it. She looks like that actress your ex-husband married.”

“That’s ridiculous!”

“Really? Well, I think she does. And I think your judgment is impaired at the moment. I’m going to recommend you for a vacation. A long one.”

“I don’t need a vacation. I’m perfectly capable of doing my job. Thanks anyway.”

He tossed me a wry smile. “It’s not a favor. It’s an order. Starting now, you’re off the case.”

Fine, I was off the case. I decided to spend the first day of my “vacation” walking in the park after breakfast. Nothing wrong with that. The park was lovely this time of year with the leaves turning gorgeous colors. Today it wasn’t raining and the autumn air was pleasantly crisp.

There she was again, sans umbrella. I followed her to the bin, staying a discreet distance behind, though I did snap more pictures with my phone. These were good, I thought, saving them to a special file. When I searched in the bin though, there was nothing but actual poop. She probably did that to fake us out. I’d return tomorrow.

Tired of the park, I took a shortcut down a maintenance path. Just as I was about to emerge onto the sidewalk, I felt something cold and sharp press against my neck.

“You’ve been following me,” she said in a gravelly voice. “And I know why.”

~*~

Written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge.

Image credit to Leonid Afremov at DeviantArt.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Flip-Flops [repost]

flip-flop sandals

My secretary left me for my husband, but still I wore my charcoal Theory suit and Gucci pumps to work Monday because it’s important to keep an image going.

“Sorry about Laura,” Hobson said. “I need a copy of the Canary contract.”

I looked for it in between checking the fourth quarter projections and trying to convince my mother to go over to my house and change all the locks. My feet hurt, so I took off the Guccis and shoved them in a drawer. Laura wasn’t answering her phone. They were probably lounging around in bed all day, assuming I’d support them. It’s true I’m almost too busy to bother hiring a divorce lawyer. Not to mention a tax accountant.

“Maybe I could write them off,” I said to Hobson.

“That’s funny,” he replied with a tight smile. “Have you found the contract yet?”

So at lunchtime I drove over to Laura’s apartment. It was right at the beach, of course. My husband likes to surf. Second floor. I clomped up the stairs in my Guccis and snagged my stockings on the railing. The air smelled of coconut oil and rotting vegetables. Laura opened the door. She wore a lime green camisole, pink shorts, and turquoise flip-flops with sequins on the straps.

“Oh,” she said. “He isn’t here.”

“No, no,” I reassured her. “I want you. I mean, I need you to tell me where you put the Canary files. Please.”

I didn’t like to beg, but this was business.

Her head tipped back as it does when she’s riffling through the card file in her brain. Laura has a photographic memory, which is one of the reasons she was such a great secretary. I knew then I’d miss her more than I’d miss him. Her sequined feet winked up at me.

“In storage cage twelve,” she said. “Unlabeled. Sorry.” She glanced away.

“It’s okay,” I told her. It really was. I didn’t have time for a husband. Tomorrow I’d hire a new secretary to type up the labels. Everything would be fine.

I clomped back down the steps to my Audi. As I beeped open the door with my electronic key, a seagull pooped on my four hundred dollar shoes.

“That’s when,” I say. “That’s the moment I decided to dump the partnership and open my nude portrait studio.” I wiggle my toes in my ten dollar flip-flops. They’re tan and have little seashells glued to the straps. I swirl my brush around the peach paint and gaze at my subject.

“You do seem much less stressed,” Hobson says as he reaches for the grapes.

“Perfect,” I say. “Stay just like that.”

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Label.

Image from Pexels.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Lunch at the Lake

Grey clouds reflection lake water

“Did you see those latest pics from NASA?” Nessie asked her boyfriend Yeti as they shared a romantic picnic beside the lake.

Yeti nodded his abominable head. “I did. They’re all fakes just like the other ones, honey. No way did people walk on the moon. That’s ridiculous!”

“I know it,” she replied. “Those dummies keep getting lost at sea and falling off the edge of the earth. We’re supposed to believe they found their way to another planet?”

Yeti laughed as he peered at the cloudy liquid in his cup with green foam on top. “Are you sure this water is safe to drink?”

“It is,” Nessie assured him. “I know you’re used to pure melted snow, but this lake water is totally fine. There’s no fluoride in it.”

“Oh good. You know humans put fluoride in their water just to turn everyone into zombies.”

“Yep. Oh hey, there’s Elvis!” Nessie waved madly.

“Where, honey?” Yeti looked around. “I don’t see anyone.”

Nessie pointed at the trees. “Right there! In his turquoise spangled suit!”

Yeti finished his sandwich and said, “I’m worried about you, Ness. You keep seeing Elvis whenever we get together, and I hate to break it to you, but…”

“No!” she screamed, flipping her tail. “He is not dead and don’t you dare say so. He’s working with JFK junior to expose all the liars. You don’t think JFK junior is dead, do you?”

“Of course not.” Yeti rolled his eyes. “But let’s not argue about humans. They’re so unimportant in the scheme of things.”

“That’s true, sweetie.” Nessie took a Tupperware from the picnic basket. “I made turtle cookies this morning from real turtles, not a box mix with all those scary preservatives. Want one?”

“Ooh!” Yeti grinned at his girlfriend and grabbed a cookie as it began to climb out of the container. “They look delicious and fresh. Thank you.”

~*~

Written for today’s MLM Challenge.
Image credit to Lynn McKenzie.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Room Service [fss]

Woman offering ghost spirit

“Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference between heaven and hell,” I say to my wife on the phone.

She laughs. “Don’t tell me you were driving your new Mercedes down the dark desert highway! You know how that area affects your judgment.”

“You’re right. I swear I saw dancers in the courtyard when I checked in, but I’m sure it was only a twist of light.” As we chat, I wish I’d taken the longer route to my client’s place, especially because I’m back at the same hotel where all the weirdness began.

“Oh honey.” She sounds disappointed in me. “Is that strange woman Tiffany still there?”

“Yes, but don’t worry,” I tell her. “I ordered room service this time. No way am I ending up in that tub full of pink champagne on ice again.”

“I hope not,” she says. “You have only one kidney left now.”

I hear a knock. “My food is here, sweetie. Talk to you tomorrow.”

As I open the door, I hear a mission bell. The waitress holds out a tray of covered dishes and steely knives. “Your dinner, sir.”

~*~
Image source unknown.
Written for Fandango’s Story Starter 5.
Inspired by the Eagles’ “Hotel California.”

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Northern Lights

northern lights

How did I come to be living in a tiny house at the frozen edge of nowhere? I’m glad you asked! It all began with my impulsive profile on a new dating site. I know, I know. I promised never to do that again, but I felt naughty after a few glasses of wine, lonely on Valentine’s Day, so I went ahead and joined. I set my filter to show me only men over 50 who liked to read. I didn’t want to be too picky, but I had to pare down the possibilities and begin somewhere. Immediately, I was presented with a menu of candidates to choose from and clicked “like” on several promising prospects.

None of them contacted me though. Instead, a man from Alaska wrote to me telling me how special I was. He said he loved books and had bought all of mine (and he left reviews!!!), so naturally I was intrigued. He showed me pictures of his beautiful location, so quiet and peaceful ~ perfect for writers! Then he sent me plane tickets. Since I’m retired and have no pets or commitments, I figured what the hell and flew up there. We had a really nice time, taking romantic walks under the flashing night sky, reading poetry to each other in front of the fireplace, and eating juicy mooseburgers. It was all so cozy and sweet, but it was too soon to decide whether we should stay together, so I tried to book a flight back.

But I wasn’t allowed! The war had begun and all passenger planes had been commandeered by the military. We were safe for now up in the cold wilderness, but our supplies would run out. The wolves somehow knew we would soon be easy pickings and started to move closer, like the trees in Macbeth. Each night we heard them, howling and hungry, until one broke in and perched on my chest, yelling in my face.

Oh, it was only Gatsby, my cat. What a weird dream! Thankful not to be breakfast, I got ready for work.

~*~

Written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge

Image from Google Photo Frame.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.

Terms and Conditions [repost]

Rory wants to know the story behind this interesting picture and I don’t blame him. It all began long ago and far away…

demon guarding books

“I do love this house,” Giles told the agent. “Such a large yard and private too. But I’m afraid it’s out of my budget. I’m on a fixed income, you know.”

Samantha nodded. “Yes. They want a retiree. Someone to appreciate the books and art. And to agree not to change anything in the library. They’ll slash the price in half for you.”

“In half!” Giles grabbed the contract from her hand. “Do you have a pen?”

*

A month after moving into his new home, Giles felt restless. Insomnia had never plagued him before, but now he found himself wide awake several times a night, unable to sleep properly. He prowled the rooms, abiding by his promise not to touch anything. Except for the kitchen and master suite, which he’d been allowed to fix up to his own tastes, this was becoming a burden.

Faces in old photos on the walls stared at him, some quite hauntingly familiar. He dared not turn them over to check for info, for he had signed in writing he wouldn’t. But surely he could read a book from the study and put it right back in the same spot afterwards? Giles opened the door.

It was so musty in here, due to the lack of cleaning no doubt. He really shouldn’t have agreed to such ridiculous terms. The place needed a thorough mopping and airing out. Giles spied a frayed book on the history of witchcraft sitting on top of a shelf, not even tucked away. He picked it up.

*

Samantha let the widow peek inside the library. “The seller is willing to reduce the price substantially if you will agree in writing not to touch any of the books and art. He fancies that he lives on in them.”

“Oh, I understand,” Carol smiled. “Artists are so quirky.”

“They certainly are,” Samantha said.

~*~

Image source unknown.

©️2021 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon. Thank you.