Tag Archives: fiction

“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.”

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“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.”


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