Photo Prompt August 2014

This prompt will last through the month of August. From the stories submitted I will select the 3-Paragraph Story which I find to be exceptional in areas of originality, description, emotion, paradox … and which strikes me as damn fine writing. And, I will take into account comments made by other writers to the stories. The winning story will be posted on a separate winner’s page. Writers may submit more than one story.

There is no need to rush to be the first poster, so please take your time and edit, edit, and edit. I want your best story posted when you have honed it sharper than your severest critic’s tongue. No edits will be permitted after your story is posted.

If you know of a writer who might like to participate, please send them the link.

Jeff

20 thoughts on “Photo Prompt August 2014”

  1. Trust
    Juanita has been providing for her family in Jalisco for the past three years. Her excellent work as a housecleaner in the luxurious homes in Pasadena was always an asset, and allowed her to gain full confidence of the families she served. She found Americans to be a very sympathetic people, once she had established their trust. She was usually ready to make a hit after just six months or so. Mr. and Mrs. Henderson were no exception. Mrs. Henderson wasted hundreds of her rich husband’s dollars on mountains of clothes and closets full of shoes. Because of this, Junita felt very little guilt about her plan. She learned that they were leaving for a month long stay in Paris, and so would not discover what she had done until they returned. By that time, she planned to be long gone. This one would be her last caper in the U.S., providing her with enough money to return to Mexico permanently.

    Mr. Henderson always paid her for her services with a check from a fat leather checkbook in the lap drawer of his large oak desk. His signature was a messy scrawl that she could easily duplicate well enough to fool the greedy people at the Check Cashing Store near her home. Those people charged ten percent to cash her checks, so she had no love for them either. She had gained enough of Mr.and Mrs. Henderson’s trust over the past seven months to be routinely left alone in their spacious home during the three hour cleaning sessions she performed every two weeks. This time, after Mrs. Henderson drove away in her white Lexus, Juanita slipped into Mr. Henderson’s office, and opened the lap drawer. She pulled the checkbook out and carefully tore five checks from the rear part of the book. It will be months before they figure out her ploy, she thought. She put the check for three hundred dollars that Mr. Henderson had left for today’s work down on the desk, and using his own ballpoint pen, copied his ugly handwriting and signature. Juanita wrote five checks in the amount of nine thousand dollars each, all payable to her. She quietly slipped out of the house after completing the cleaning job, and left Mrs. Henderson a small note wishing her well on her trip. It was the little things that count.

    The check cashing clerk was a teen-aged simpleton who didn’t flinch at converting her five checks into cash, and ringing up four hundred-fifty dollars in fees for his boss. Juanita was secretly pleased when Mrs. Henderson texted her two days later, and asked for her to come by for a final cleaning job the day before they left. An extra three hundred would come in handy when she headed for home.On the appointed day and time, Juanita pulled up and parked her old van across the street from the stately house. Mrs. Henderson had informed her that the back door would be open. Juanita didn’t notice the two plain clothes policemen walking up behind her, but she clearly saw the patrol car that wheeled in front of her truck, blocking her way. Detective Walker showed Juanita a security camera photo of her entering the Check Cashing Store. As he spun her around to apply the handcuffs, she glanced up at the house, and saw the Hendersons looking down onto the scene from a large window on the second floor. She expected to see anger, but saw instead intense looks of deep sadness.

  2. anonalana said:

    My Love

    The tattoo inked on her puffy arm says “Bitch” in scrollwork interwoven with thorny rose stems without petals. The letter “i” is dotted with a heart. Not red but blue. Her humor fascinates me.

    I love to pull her nicotine-stained fingers to my nose and nibble them with my lips. She keeps her nails bitten to the quick.

    When we make love she insists on using a condom. I don’t.

  3. anonalana said:

    The Lookout

    Butch smacked me when I said I didn’t want to do it, but before he burned my other cheek with the back of his hand, I submitted. “Just watch for the cops,” he yelled. “Even a stupid bitch like you can do THAT. Right?”

    So here I stand, listening to some tunes. By now he’s pulling his .38 from his pants.

    I hear the .410 fire once. Then again. Butch didn’t hear me call the owner with a heads up. As much as I want to smile I don’t.

  4. Mama said get a job. She’s babysitting Jamie. Mama said don’t do what I did. I got Jamie. She never said nothing about no kids. So now I have a career, and Jamie, and live in my car. I don’t see my baby much, but Mama pushes the stroller to town, and they sit in my car out back, and I visit on my smoke breaks. I share a smoke with Mama; she can’t afford ciggys. I pinch Jamie’s cute baby fat, and she chews on my Marlboro hard pack.

    Jamie’s that peckerwood’s kid that lives in his car next to mine. He’s cool. I’m wearing his name, listening to his music, dreaming of tonight. We stay up late, talking, dreaming, fucking under the streetlight. I pee, he lights my way with his lighter, behind the store. I ain’t gonna end up like Mama. Welfare and all that crap. I’m going someplace and I’m taking Jamie and her peckerwood daddy with me. He says he’ll go when I go, but then, we eat Subway sandwiches he steals from work, and I wonder if he can give up his security. I like his meat. I don’t know if I want to give up on that good bread either.

    Mama said she heard once that you should follow your dreams. I’m dreaming big. I put my application in at the A & P store downtown. It was one hella walk, blisters between my legs when I got back. I can move up. Maybe have my car towed to the A & P’s back lot close to the loading dock. I’ve been told I can sure unload an eighteen-wheeler in nothing flat. Mama’s gonna be proud!

  5. Celia was little more than a child when she came to the United States, scrambling under the border fence in the dark of night with her young boyfriend Jorge. Their journey had been a long and difficult one, from Oaxaca, in southwestern Mexico, up through Guadalajara, Monterrey, and across the Rio Grande into Laredo, Texas, more than 900 miles. They had expected to work the fields in Laredo, but when they found there was little agriculture in this large port town, they began working their way east. Doing whatever menial work they could find, they made their way to Needville, Texas, a tiny community near Houston. Here the climate was cooler than in Laredo, and they began looking for work on one of the large sugar plantations in the area, willing to do anything to live the dream that had been with them from the time they were children, listening to the men of their village tell of the money to be made in America.

    Celia had found work as a maid at the Bar H racehorse breeding ranch near Needville, while Jorge did whatever work he could find in this area where few crops were grown for agriculture. At the end of the day he would wait near the corrals for Celia to get off work. He found he loved the horses, and seeming to sense that, the horses were drawn to this gentle young man. It became obvious that Jorge had a talent with these high-strung animals, and he was hired to clean stables. Suspecting that this young man might have a special way with these beasts, the ranch foreman let him work with Amiga, a young colt that the ranch had little hope of ever racing. Jorge’s charge began to show promise under the young man’s tutelage, and the bond between horse and man was a joy to behold. When his boss recognized Jorge’s ability with Amiga, he decided to let him begin training her. To everyone’s surprise, Jorge and Amiga began to show promise long before she was old enough to race at three years.

    It’s the day of Jorge’s first race as a full fledged jockey, and Celia is proud of what her young husband has accomplished in the last three years, but she’s also terrified of the unknown in racing’s unfamiliar environment. Someone has loaned her a portable radio so she can listen to the race announcer from the little community where they have made their home. Since her grasp of the English language is still limited, Celia struggles to understand what the announcer is shouting about. Suddenly she understands. “And the winner is Amiga of Bar H in her very first race, with jockey Jorge Ayala, who has just won the first race of what promises to be a great career.”

  6. Every time she saunters in to my small community market to buy three packs of Marlboro Lights, I wondered if she listened to anything I had to say. Cigarettes are an expensive habit. I know. I know. I used to smoke three packs a day. I even drove out of Albuquerque to buy my cartons at the Indian reservation. I could buy a carton for five bucks. Back then, there were no warning labels on cigarettes; no billboards tabulating the number of deaths due to cigarette smoking posted along the highway; no links to secondhand smoke. Looking back, I have to chuckle to myself. How stupid people were. Really stupid. We never bothered to consider that inhaling smoke into our lungs just might cause some problems. We were cool; the edgy women who dared to smoke when we couldn’t even wear pants to work. I remember the ads on television showing a woman smoking a Benson and Hedges who gets the end of her cigarette caught in the elevator door. It was a long, thin, elegant cigarette, and the ad was enticing. Well at least it caught my attention, I smoked Benson and Hedges for a while. I experimented with numerous brands and flavors, but I was a dyed-in-the-wool Marlboro woman. I know about smoking – having a cup of coffee with a cigarette was a ritualistic morning routine. Having a cigarette with a piece of apple pie was the American way. Having a cigarette in the dark after a sweaty sexual interlude was the best. But when I read the warnings, suggestive at first, eventually adamant, my strong-willed personality grabbed the reins. A damned crushed up weed rolled up in paper – I feared dying, and I took control. I kicked the three packs a day habit cold turkey. Never looked back or longed for another one.

    I told her my story. She is poor wearing a torn t-shirt every day. She has six kids to feed and raise. I know she needs an escape, but does she really get it that the escape is death. Where will her children go? Who will raise them? Who will give them a hug and kiss at night when they go to bed. She seems to be a good mother. I recall that my grandmother used to lecture me daily saying, “Beverly, if you knew the real story of the person in line at the grocery store, we’d speak differently to one another.” Maybe I need to know her story to temper my disgust. I don’t even know her name, but I often watch her in the late afternoon balance a one-year old on her hip, herd a toddler out of the street, and try to pay attention to her four older boys playing soccer in the street. As I close the store each evening, I have noticed her leaving the apartment and waiting at the bus stop. By her dress, I assume she works nights cleaning office buildings downtown. Occasionally, I watch her leave during the day in a cleaning woman’s outfit. Probably a maid to one of the wealthy families in our diverse community. But observation of a person’s life might contain assumptions that can cause faulty beliefs about that person’s life and motivations.

    Entering my store, she quickly approaches the counter asking, “Three packs of Menthol Kools, please.

    “That will be $16.24.” As she hands over the wadded up money, I catch just a glimpse of regret. One day’s worth of meals, burnt up at the end of the day. I open the cash register drawer to give her change. She thanks me and turns to leave. I slowly close the register’s drawer and hang my head. Maybe I should make a bigger, bolder sign for the window.

  7. Karen
    A powerful message, well written. If only people would heed the message. I don’t know if the Cancer Society has a publication for stories, but it’s worth checking out.

  8. Three days left for August Photo Prompt story postings!

  9. It’s time to vote for your favorite August Photo Prompt Story.

    Voting is open to posted authors only, 1 vote per author, not per story.

    Email your fave to photovotes@gmail.com. (Don’t post votes here)

    And, yes, you can vote for your own story if you think it the best.

    Voting is open through midnight CST Friday, September 5.

    In case of a tie I’ll cast a vote.

    Thank you for participating.

    September photo prompt will post Sunday the 7th

  10. The August photo prompt story is posted in Photo Prompt Winners

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