“The Bat and the Penguin”

He looms over the edge of a window frame, 35 stories above the City; clad in black, an urban bat on a precarious perch. Salt, swept up in a cold November gust, sweeps his cape, hits his face, his nose. His broken nose.  Bleeding. He tastes blood on his lips. A slash cuts across his abdomen, but the blade that made it only nicked his skin. His knees teeter on collapse, but he plants his feet hard on the rim of the frame.

He’s been through worse.

He leans over to get a better look at the waters of the Sprang River. Its waves lap up. Hungry.

He turns around, steps over an umbrella and top hat, passes columns and exposed wires. . . and the only piece of furniture in the room: a torn, red love seat. He ignores the grunts and spits emanating from it.

Instead, he makes his way to the other side of the floor, his steps reverberating through the peeling walls. The warehouse is empty, abandoned years ago when his father moved the Wayne Refrigeration Company to Metropolis.

He picked a sentimental hideout, he thinks of his prisoner.

On the opposite end of the room are more windows, except instead of a river racing at the bottom, it’s cars. No one in sight.

A straight fall to the concrete or the water? he contemplates. It’d be easy to toss his prisoner over. A quick kick straight to the ground on one side, or a roll over the edge and into the river on the other. The outcome is the same either way: this particular bird doesn’t fly.

He sweeps around, back toward the center of the room; only this time, he doesn’t ignore the grunts and spits. He walks toward them.

Another man, lithe and stoic, stands in front of the love seat. Their prisoner, a rotund and heavy breather, struggles to break free. His long, aquiline nose reaches toward the ceiling. He mouths something to the young man, and it triggers a reaction: a tight grip around the prisoner’s throat.

But the night is over, the signal faded from the sky, the bad guy tied up. The bat hears a crack underneath his foot: the monocle that sat over his prisoner’s right eye.

A police car siren starts as a whisper, then barrels through the street. There’s no throwing anyone off anything, as much as he’d like.

“Get off the Penguin, Robin,” he sighs. “It’s time to go home.”

***

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Major Bedhead challenged me with “Get off the penguin. It’s time to go home,” and I challenged Dara with “Include the following in your story: a teenager, a painting, a cab, and a Salt-n-Pepa song.”


An Afternoon Pick-me-up

An “I-wish-I-could-be-there” moment caught by Sophie Windsor Clive and Liberty Smith. I’d love to hear just the lap of the waves, the flutter of the birds’ wings, and their laughter without the music. Even so, it’s very beautiful and inspiring.

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.


“Indecision”

He looked comfortable in the big-boned wooden seat, making some sounds I tried not to understand. He snatched up the papers as the waiter placed our drinks in front of us. A latte for me, a double espresso for him. Check please, I said.

He slid the sugar packet holder towards him, tore open two Sweet-n-Lows and circled his spoon in the tiny cup until the clinking silenced the room. I heard his words clearly then.

$50,000 a year, two weeks paid vacation, 6 personal days (sick days, he said, and religious holidays). Medical, dental. There’s a flex spend account.

It was supposed to be a six-month assignment that took me months to find. Six months to catch up on bills and refill the savings account. Six months I thought would end today, when I asked him to catch up over the usual afternoon coffee break. I needed to go back to some folks I’d met a few months ago. I’d go back to visiting them in the morning, and they’d tell me their stories by midnight.

But now there’s the promise of an always-fed savings account. It meant more mornings answering calls from London, more afternoons making Excel spreadsheets for sales leads, more dinners with clients. Weekends possibly spent alone inside a gray cubicle.

I listened, and listened, until the waiter placed the check on the table. My eyes wandered to the black ink swimming on a wet spot. My coffee was $4.75.

***

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Kat challenged me with “Create a story or poem inspired by a line in a Charles Bukowski poem: ‘some suicides are never recorded [title of the poem is “The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth],'” and I challenged Lisa with “Dinner with an ex. S/he tells you s/he is getting married.”


Freedom

Freedom, Zenos Frudakis

Every once in a while, I need a reminder of how important it is not to conform, not to settle, not to fit into a certain mold. Today I have to thank the sculptor Zenos Frudakis(and admittedly Facebook) for reminding me. His sculpture, ‘Freedom,’ found its way onto my wall and I wanted to share.

Whether on the page, on the canvas, on the floor,or in life – leap, dance, break free. Be you.


“Spring”

This week’s Indie Ink Challenge comes from Wendryn. The challenge:

“Vignettes: the difference between ‘in love’ and ‘love'”

I really liked this challenge, and I think this might be a jumping off point for a longer, more intricate piece.

Please feel free to comment or leave feedback. Thanks again to Wendryn for the challenge.

***

I spent the morning decorating the living room, stretching up to spots on the wall that my wife couldn’t reach. We picked out the “Feliz Cumpleanos” and “Happy Birthday” banners. We always sang both songs for birthdays, why not both banners, she said. I tied up matching, bilingual balloons to the chairs lined up against the wall. She walked in and out of the living room, fattening the table with armfuls of chicken, rice and pudding on metal trays. She didn’t need help, she said, just finish decorating the room.

The guests started coming as I placed the last blue streamer across the ceiling. Cousins, co-workers, even women from the park she told me she despised. Las detesto, she said, but she had to try to like them—Joshua would grow up with their children.

Two men showed up.  One was a cousin’s boyfriend, a new guy I only heard about, who preferred art galleries to baseball games. The other I had never met before—he was married to one of the women from the park. He held his blackberry tightly in one hand, a beer in the other. Make conversation, she said, I want you to get to know them.

As the hour passed, I made sure to disappear among the five-year olds and thirty-five year olds that cluttered the designated party area. I thought of sneaking into my bedroom, but that could start an argument later. I ended up in the kitchen, with the extra supply of napkins and paper plates and chips and iced tea. I cracked open a beer, and peered out the window at the cloudy sky that set over the backyard. Leaves had gathered on the empty swing seats. I took a few sips before she walked in, too prematurely for me, and asked me to help her serve the food.

I let her lead the way and she passed the front door when it opened with a screech.

I caught the scent of Eva’s perfume before she ever stepped inside.

They gave each other a kiss hello, and Eva apologized for the traffic. They said things to each other that I can’t remember, and Eva handed her a large plastic-covered tray. She walked away with it, towards the living room. I heard Joshua shout her name, and he ran towards her, grabbing a hold of her legs. He tugged her jacket, asking for a kiss. She bent over and held his face, leaving a red cloud on his forehead. She looked up at me, her voice suddenly quiet.

“Hi Tom.”

I nodded and I think I said hello.  Joshua grabbed her hand and they drifted towards the living room.

I headed back to the kitchen, and grabbed my bottle of beer. I tossed about half of it down my throat in one gulp. I peered out the kitchen window, at the empty swing set and see-saw. They swayed with a creak under that cloudy mid-November sky.

She still smelled like Spring.

  ***

Be sure to check out Mike Wordplay’s response to my challenge. Want to join in on the fun? Click here for more info on the Indie Ink Challenge. Thanks for reading, and happy writing!


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