Rom-Com from the NYCMM global flash challenge

Hello fellow writers,

The entry below was my first foray into romantic comedy, as assigned during an international competition. Hope it gives you a giggle.

Cheers,

Anne 

http://redroom.com/member/anne-maclachlan/writing/bets-and-blades

Bets and Blades

1

From the New York City Midnight Madness 48-hour International Flash Challenge. Category: RomCom; object: a blade; location: an attic; word limit: 1K. This story landed in the finals of the competition.

******

“Bugger bugger bugger bugger buggerBUGGERBUGGER!” Gwen slashed the butcher knife down hard with each word, soaking the tiled kitchen backsplash. The dog was barking frantically. Gwen rounded on a sudden noise, knife dripping red.

“Gwen?” her roommate Lisa paused next to the kitchen door, two wine glasses and a bottle in hand. “Why are you home already, and what’s with the tomato slaughter?”

Lisa’s eyes met a cold-blooded stare.­­

“Oh. Didn’t go so well, then?”

“If you ever… If you EVER set me up on a blind date again, I’ll splatter you all over this kitchen.”

“I thought you Brits were the icy ones. Come on, Shakespeare, tell me the tale before Richard gets here.”  Gwen, still in a fury, was only half paying attention to her. Lisa cautiously entered the kitchen, poured them a glass of wine each and pulled a tall chair over to the counter, just out of arm’s reach. 

“Your friend’s brother. Turned up. Soused.”

“Swassed?”

Gwen resumed the vegetable massacre without touching the glass. “Drunk. He showed up completely – ” she leaped at the sound of the doorbell.  “Oh, do let me get it. If he’s followed me home, I can photograph the before-and-after crime scene.”

“Um,” protested Lisa. Gwen darted over to the door, banging it open against the foyer wall, and raising the knife in gory salutation. 

“Good evening, Ma’am. I’m Richard, and I’ll be your investigating officer this evening. Want to put down the weapon and call off your dog?”

“Oh, come bloody in.” Gwen ignored the badge her colleague presented and stalked back into the kitchen, the dog trotting happily along as Richard scratched him behind the ears. 

Richard surveyed the mess with a raised eyebrow. “Some backsplatter. Who started it? Hey, Lisa – what’s the difference between a backsplash and a backsplatter? A crime scene.”

“That’s in dreadful taste. Tell me you don’t need me or my camera right now,” Gwen resumed her attack on the tomatoes.

“Well, we have a situation and Tim could use some of your expertise. Maybe you’d like to change? And you,” Richard swiped a kiss on Lisa’s lips, as Gwen marched into her bedroom, “don’t ever change. I came over as soon as you called. Tim’s setting up in the attic now.”

“Lucky her date called me to ask where she disappeared to. Maybe you won’t have enough time. Maybe Tim will be so nervous he’ll blow it. Maybe you’re completely wrong about her crush. Maybe your bet isn’t safe yet, honey. Hah, I should let her take that knife with her.”

Richard leaned on the kitchen counter and grinned, “Maybe you know you’ll lose this bet - it’s just a day earlier than we planned it. And I see you’ve already decided to cook me dinner. What are you serving me?”

Gwen reappeared, cool and lovely, with the slightest touch of makeup and perfume and her hair elegantly tousled.

“Dog food.”  Lisa watched her roommate breeze out the door with her camera gear.

“Wish me luck!” Richard grinned, “I’ll be back for dinner in an hour.”

The mood on the drive to the incident was cool, and Richard suspected Gwen was composing herself. There were bets going all over the office over who would get her out for dinner, and they were lining up just to be shot down in plain public view. She did it so well. But Tim, another crime scene photographer, had unwittingly cracked her surface, and everybody knew it. But although Gwen had been completely civil to Tim, he’d never asked her out and she had no idea where he lived.

They pulled up to a large Victorian house, dimly lit behind massive trees.

“Richard …?” Gwen glared at him intently, “What’s going on here?”

Richard took a deep breath, knowing she could have his badge if this didn’t go well. “It’s upstairs.”

“Where are the cars? The lights? The tape?”

Richard mumbled something about “no time,” running ahead of Gwen, through the unlocked door and up the darkened stairs.

“If you’re lying to me, so help me – ”

“I’m not! I swear it!”

There was soft lighting in the attic. “She’s here,” Richard announced, as Gwen stepped into the doorway and took in the scene, expressionless. Candles lit the gabled room. Against one of the cushioned window seats stood a beautifully set table, and Baroque music gently filled the cozy space.

Tim was on his knees, camera next to him, placing white outline tape around a soft red object. The look on his face, of utter embarrassed innocence, was priceless.

Gwen took a step forward and gazed at the scarlet cushion in the center of the tape outline; Tim reddened.

“It’s my heart,” he stammered.

Richard took one look at Gwen’s softening face, realizing he’d hit his mark fair and true, and called out “My work here is done! I’ll get the door,” as he leaped down the stairs and secured the lock. He broke a couple of traffic laws getting back to the apartment.

“I won, I won!” he cheered in delight, sweeping Lisa up and kissing her properly.

“I know, I know,” she grinned, indicating the dinner table, with the promise of a juicy steak at her setting and a crystal bowl full of dog food at his. “Listen, Mr. Policeman, that was criminal, what you just did to Gwen and Tim.”

“Wasn’t it?” Richard grinned wickedly. “Well, at least I didn’t lie.”  

“I wouldn’t count on that to save you.” Lisa removed the crackling hot steaks from the oven and placed them on a cutting board. “Just in case you get smug,” she lifted the freshly washed butcher knife from its customary place, smiled sweetly, “How does she say it?” and brought the knife down on Richard’s steak, “Bugger, bugger buggerbuggerbugger!”

“Sore loser,” Richard surveyed the carnage on the cutting board.

“What if she’s back in the next few minutes?”

 

Richard looked up and chuckled.  “Wanna bet?”

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It's Time

for the Timeless.

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"She Is Not Really Beautiful But Only Looks That Way": About Seemingly Good Ideas

 

She is not really beautiful, but only looks that way! I heard this statement from a friend of mine years ago in order to introduce its inherent paradox. Still we agreed that it did make sense. Sometimes, in first impression,  people seem to be beautiful—. Yet  if we look a little closer, we realize that they may be symmetrical, or have a good figure,  but beautiful they are not. This is a matter of aesthetic preference, I don’t  refer here to the opposite case when upon knowing the person we grow to view them as more or less 

beautiful. But it was an interesting point to observe and discuss.

In a similar fashion, there are some ideas which  at first seem quite great, and only later when we  analyze the consequences we understand that, although they had some merit,  they  were never good.

After living several months in Iowa City my husband Tzvi and I decided that it was time to buy a house. Since it was Tzvi’s first year at his job at the university and I was home with the baby, it was up to me to find us the perfect home.  And then Tzvi  announced:  “I don’t need to see any of the houses which you consider,  it is entirely up to you.  If you don’t take it, then there is no need for me to see that house, and if you do I shall see it enough once we live there." It sounded  like an empowering and efficient idea.

I spent quite a bit of time with  the realtor, we knew that we didn’t want to buy an expensive house. After being poor students in graduate school we finally had some money  and  we wanted to be able to enjoy it rather than spending it on a big mortgage

Finally I found us  a  3 bedroom, no nonsense ,modern, and efficient house. It was within  our budget , in a nice neighbourhood near the park.  We even  had a good friend  living down  the street. In short, it was  perfect..

Only that it wasn’t, as we moved into to that house I realized that it was a huge mistake.I never liked that house and  grew to dislike it even more.

 Since it was only I who saw the houses I tried to look at them through Tzv’s eyes, I searched for one which will suit him best. He was an  engineer, thus I found  us a highly functional house, but it was  boring and lacked charm, Tzvi wasn’t. I somehow reduced his wishes  into a schematic notion that in his reality didn't reflect the taste of either one of us. It would never have happened  had we looked at houses together. 

 

On the surface, Tzvi’s idea made a perfect sense, but it paralyzed me and took away my creativity and the ability to express myself. Tzvi himself  later confessed  that he never liked the house because  it was so unlike me.

Three years later we moved into our second house which we chose together, and  there we spent the rest of our time in Iowa City.

Of course Tzvi is not the only one to come up with perfectly logical ideas that in reality turn out to be quite terrible. Times of war make me wonder about those. 

 

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The Party

First arrivals fall from the sky, uninvited but welcomed.  They'd not be permitted in the house.  We would go outside, onto the covered porch out back, to visit with them.  Low growling sounds like heavy metal barrels being dragged across rough cement had been visiting with us for an hour before.  Thunder, we knew after puzzling over who was moving what.  The thunder assisted us resolving its identity by acquiring a godlike voice.  Lightning bolts snapped sky to earth.  The answering thunder frightened many.  But the other guests arrived and the party began.

She's eighty-eight and her legendary dark red hair is instead a white helmet.  You'd need to go back twenty years to see the redhead.  Twenty years, the year after she moved up here after her husband, her love, died, the year after meeting many of her guests for the first time.  All the rest are retirees, California refugees from Mountain View, San Francisco, Sunnyvale but none had met until relocating their possessions to unassuming little Ashland, trapped in the valley where the Interstate descends from California into Oregon.  Eighty-eight years old, she talks with such delightful, impish energy, a small and lithe person with memory gaps from yesterday and this morning.  Twenty years ago is very clear.  Forty years ago are sharpest.  She shares tales about moving from the city to Sunnyvale to raise her children and her husband's delight in discovering a neighborhood of teeming children screaming, chasing, running, laughing.  She tells about her black 1950 TR3 with its red interior and popping one of her sons into the seat to drive down into the city to show her art, the son sitting beside her at the party, listening and smiling, so much taller than his mother.  Others had TR3s, they discover, five of them in this little group, white, red, yellow, black.  All tell about how they loved dashing across the Bay area in the little car, attaching and removing side curtains, wearing heavy coats to compensate for the meager heaters.  Such joy glows from their faces as they remember the cars, recall meeting one another, revisiting other parties along with the characters they've known on the way, the ones who have moved on, either following a tunnel to the light or off to Portland, Florida, Hawaii. 

I'm a newcomer to this group, connected to them through my wife, the social half of our relationship, and I'm jealous of these friendships and memories.  It's raining and thundering, with lightning flashing, but a swath of sunshine cuts across the mountain on the valley's far side and a fuzzy rainbow struggles against the old pewter sky.  We eat grilled chicken, potato salad, grilled corn on the cob, black bean salad, appetizers and chips.  We drink beer and wine and toast our birthday friend before lighting the candles and singing happy birthday.  Then we eat store bought chocolate cake with Umpqua vanilla ice cream.  Lights are turned on as the storm fades to soft dripping.  A cool breeze gathers us in.  We smile in remembrance of what's been created and what's to come.

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