Sunday, October 12, 2008

Portrait of Words #2

Well here we are, time for the second installment of the POW writing challenge. I'm considering doing this twice a month in the future. A month seems like a long time in between to stay energized about it. I also wonder if it would give you all an opportunity to write stories more often if you choose, or give you the choice to join in when time permits without feeling like there is only once a month to do so. I do know that I don't want to make it a weekly feature. There are already dozens of these such weekly goodies floating around the blogsphere and I know that some of you currently participate in them. My goal for this writing challenge is to keep it creative and fun, not something we feel like has to get crammed into an already busy life. What do you think on the matter? Monthly or twice a month? Please let me know in the comments.

For anyone new to this challenge here is the quick run down on how it works. I supply a variety of photographs along with corresponding categories for them. (Main Character, Backdrop, Purpose, Item and Wild Card) From these five prompts, we weave stories as our imagination dictates. If you'd like the full blown details please click here. For all of this month's current photos, please click here.

If you're considering joining us...please do! Everyone is welcome to participate.


"The Alibi"

There I was, sitting in the airport terminal casually reading the days paper. In a couple of moments I'd get up, fold the paper, neatly tucking it under my arm, grab my bag and make the short walk across the isle way to the men's room. Once inside I would find an open stall to occupy while I waited for the incoming call.

Meanwhile, back at the cafe things were unfolding just as we had planned. Tessa walked in and was greeted by Frank who was dressed in his usual attire: hounds tooth pants, white button up the front uniform shirt and a soiled apron that barely tied around the girth that was his mid section. She was also met by the aroma of Frank's gravy simmering away on the stove in the corner. If you were the average patron, this co-mingling of tomatoes, garlic and Italian sausage would likely beckon you in all the way from out on the sidewalk, but for Tessa it had absolutely no appeal. She knew all too well where some of the ingredients came from for Frank's homemade sausage. After all, they didn't call him "The Butcher" for nothing.

Sitting there waiting for confirmation in my makeshift office wasn't exactly the most comfortable place, but I knew it'd be in my best interest to receive the phone call away from the prying eyes of the ever present security cameras outside.

Frank gave the gravy a gentle stir and asked Tessa if she was hungry. He of course, already knew the answer to the question, but couldn't resist asking anyway. As expected, Tessa politely declined his offer and asked if she should wait for him in the back room. With a wink Frank said, "Be there in a minute sugar." Christ she hated his sexist remarks.

Tessa made her way past the empty tables just as the linen truck pulled up out front. She managed to suppress a smile as she heard Frank mumble, "It's about time." Stepping into the store room, she was greeted by two of Frank's boys. Neither of the men spoke, but one did pull a chair out for her indicating she should sit down. Hearing a buzzing sound coming from her denim bag, she reached in and grabbed her cell phone. Holding it up she asked, "Do you mind?" Almost in unison they each extended out one hand motioning her to take the call.

"It's occupied!" I shouted, "Damn!"

From the other side of the stall door I heard, "Sorry."

No sooner did our exchange of words take place, then I chuckled. "If you're going to have a guy scare the shit out of you, what better place than the crapper for it to happen?" I thought. Come on phone, hurry up and ring!

"It's Pauly." Tessa said while looking at the text message displayed on her phone. "He's just making sure every thing's on track."

Neither of Frank's goons gave it a second thought. They were used to their runners communicating with each other before a big drop like this, in fact, Frank insisted on it. Tessa fired back a quick text that simply said, "WE'RE A GO." Although she did show the guys the outgoing message, neither of them bothered to verify the number she was sending it to. If they would have been a bit more observant, they'd have realized it wasn't going to Pauly at all.

The guy in the linen truck outside had no difficulty in receiving the message though. This was his cue. Without hesitation, he brought in the weeks delivery and took out the bags from the previous one. Frank let him go about his business and stepped into the back room carrying a silver case. He set it down in front of Tessa and proceeded to barrage her with detailed instructions on what to do and the consequences that she would meet if she deviated from them in any way. She and the two men had heard this speech numerous times, but not one of them dared interrupt Frank during his lecture. Instead the men stood on either side of Tessa totally void of emotion, while she nodded in agreement with everything that was said to her.

Once Frank was satisfied that Tessa understood both the instructions and more importantly, the threats, she was on her way. As she made her way to the front door she noticed that the linen truck was now gone, but a lone green cloth napkin was draped over the parking meter where it had been moments before. She knew this meant that more than just clean linens had been delivered this afternoon.

The clock on the wall above the mirror in the bathroom showed a few seconds past three-thirty in the afternoon. Unless something had gone terribly wrong, my phone would be ringing any second.

Tessa knew she only had a matter of minutes until Frank's boys would be out the door. He always sent a detail to track his investment to its destination, but he also liked to delay them slightly in case anyone else was following. He figured this way if that happened, he could follow the follower. Rather than continue down Central, Tessa turned the corner and ducked into the 440 Club, a noisy neighborhood bar with a couple of pool tables in the back. She wasn't here for the cocktails or the games today. All she needed to do was to make a phone call.

She picked up her phone and dialed. --RING-- I answered my phone and heard only one word from Tessa, "GO!"

Time was of the essence now. Without answering I hung up and immediately dialed the number.

Three loud beeps sounded from within the stack of freshly laundered table clothes at the cafe. "What was that?" one of the men asked. All Frank was able to get out was, "Oh Shit!"

The explosion rattled the building a block and a half away where Tessa was. Pandemonium broke out as everybody flooded out onto the street to see what had happened. Well, everyone but Tessa that is. She had one more phone call to make.

--RING-- My phone rang a second and final time. This time I heard two words from her, "It's done!"

I removed the SIMM card from inside my phone and flushed it down the toilet, then wiped the phone itself clean and deposited it into the trash can as I exited the restroom. I then walked back into the airport terminal in full view of all the surveillance cameras and proceeded to the bar. I ordered a whisky straight up and made sure I paid with a credit card baring my name. This was an airtight alibi if I'd ever seen one!


Akelamalu said...

WOW fabulous Jeff, that had me gripped! You really should be writing novels you know!

Mine's up too.

A POW once a month is enough for me. :)

Lanny said...

Very good! Nothing like a rusty van to bring out the criminal element eh? Looking forward to reading every one's.

One a month, is all this procrastinator can handle for assignments!

CrazyCath said...

Oh wow! Fabulous stuff Jeff. You had me on the edge of my seat. And isn't it uncanny how we both had the main character as needing an alibi?

As for monthly or twice weekly - I am easy either way but like you, would not want weekly. I almost didn't post this week because I simply could not get going. This was quite a challenge for me, to write from the male perspective. I also left it until last minute which didn't help and just did it in about 3 hours last night! If it had been fortnightly I might have chickened out. However, a monthly write does mean you kinda put it away and forget about it and need to get the momentum up again.

So pros and cons for both - I'm easy either way.

CrazyCath said...

That should read "monthly or twice monthly..."

It's still early here...

Mel said...



*whew* Kept me guessing til the last sentence!

Very nicely done, sir!

B. Roan said...

Great story! In my head, I heard Humphrey Bogart telling the story in his Philip Marlowe voice. BJ

B. Roan said...

Oh, and I vote for once a a month. I would love to be able to say bi-weekly, but life is hectic here. BJ

Sandi McBride said...

VERY WELL DONE! Altho Frank's gravy left an odd taste in my mouth, lol...what a wicked imagination you have!!! Mine is up and ready for perusal!

Jeff B said...

I'm off to work early this morning. I'll be sure to comment back here and read all your stories this afternoon/evening when I get back in.

Looking forward to them.

Sandi McBride said...

I forgot to mention that I too feel once a month is enough for everyone...especially you...too much anxiety over picking the pictures for more than you do now will cause burnout!

Lu' said...

Jeff that was really good. I enjoyed it. Best part, the special sausage :)

katherine. said...

jeff...that was a great read...I wanted to know more...from before and after.

I have no preference on once or twice a month...I'll play whenever I can.

Ron said...

BRAVO Jeff!!!!

DAMN, had me thinking ahead of the words and wondering what the hell the ENDING was going to be!!!

And by the was a freaking fabulous ending!!!

I'm with Akelamalu....your a natural born NOVELIST!!!!

Thoroughly enjoyed this, buddy!

Cherie said...

Excellent story. I take a perverse pleasure in bad guys going after other bad guys. There really is no honor among thieves, is there. lol

As far as the frequency of the challenge, I probably would only be able to participate once a month, but yes, procrastinator that I am, having a quicker deadline might be a better motivator for me.

But really, what you're doing now is great. I think that you should be entirely selfish and do exactly what would be best for you. We can adapt. :)

Jeff B said...

Man oh's been a long day...

Akelamalu- You are too kind. From reading the other comments, once a month seems to be the general consensus.

Lanny- BTW you link is invalid. You accidentally put a "c" at the the end of it. did you do a story this month?

Crazycath- I thought that was interesting how we had the same thought there. Too many episodes of Law and Order for me perhaps.

Mel- Glad to entertain.

BJ Roan- Why thank you Shweethart.

Ha, I love when a particular story creates a specific voice in my head.

Sandi- When I read the to Lisa (full blooded Italian) she groaned. I figured it was a winner.

Lu- I could send you a recipe if you like?

Katherine- It was fun to write, thanks. You playing this month?

Ron- i wish I had more time to sit and write. I'd like to explore it more, even though the publishing process is a bit intimidating.

Cherie- Ya, they deserve what they get. I'm good with once a month and that seems to be the direction the others have pointed to as well. Off to read your story now.

Matt-Man said...

Pretty damn good job, Mr. Man. Keep it up, Jeff. Cheers!!

Dr.John said...

So crime against criminals does pay. Great story I really enjoyed it.

Raven said...

Oh, no! My attention span isn't what it used to be. I forgot all about this! I'll see if I can pull my brain together and get something done by tomorrow. Yikes. I'll come back and read yours after I have written (or not) my own.

Anndi said...

I won't read it now because maybe I'll be able to write something for this one.

San said...

Marvelous building of suspense, Jeff. And you have a good feel for drawing character too. NICE!

nitebyrd said...

Another winner, Jeff! One day, soon, I hope, I'll participate.

Starrlight said...

That was awesome =)

Vodka Mom said...

I"m too damn tired to think, or write. Dammit. However, YOU are good. Are you writing for money??? You should should be.

Jeff B said...

Matt- I'll keep at it my good fellow.

Dr John- I guess it does, but who knows if an untimely demise is in store for Tessa???

Raven- I hope you're able to swing it. It's always a treat to read your stories.

Anndi- As i said to Raven, hope you'll be able to join in.

San- Why thank you. I actually wrote this story on the morning I posted it, so I didn't give it as much attention as I would have liked to.

Nitebyrd- One of these times the pictures will just speak to you and a story will be born. Until then I/we appreciate you reading.

Starrlight- Cool beans. Any chance you'll give it a go sometime?

Vodka Mom- No $$$ at this point. I appreciate the encouragement though.

Starrlight said...

I'd love to I just need to have a break in my schedule!

Merisi said...

Oh my goodness, what suspense!
Gripping story, indeed.

Thank you for visiting my blog,
and the kind comment you left! :-)

Dianne said...

I vote for once a month too. How's that for chiming in after the fact with the popular opinion! ;)

I always have to finish my story before I come here otherwise I'll get distracted by the others.

My story is posted now.

So - you have a creative criminal mind! And a liking for secret sausage and hanging out in men's rooms. You're a complex guy. ;)

I love it. I had to read a second time to decide I knew what had transpired. Very cool suspense.

Raven said...

Well, I'm just to politics and foliage obsessed to have pulled it off this month. I enjoyed your mini thriller, though, and will try check out the others.

Jeff B said...

Starrlight- I understand.

Merisi- It was a pleasure getting to know you. Hope you'll make it back by again.

Dianne- Complex may just be another way of saying a nut case. hehehe

I was hoping I could pull off writing two parallel character stories at the same time without making it too hard to follow.

Raven- No worries. New pictures will go up on Friday for next month. Maybe you'll give it a go then.

Travis said...

Well done!