Archive for the ‘3 minute fiction’ Category

Week of 6/19/11

Prompt:

Rodrigo Rosenberg knew that he was about to die

 

 

San Mohel

San Mohel was a hard scrabble town, at the end of the road, in a ditch next to nowhere. Wranglers, hit men and banditos where the common element in this broken down, shanty-town burg. When unsuspecting visitors accidentally stumbled into San Mohel, they were greeted by a large wooden sign that read: “The only law in San Mohel, is outlaw”, itself shot full of holes and held together with rusty nails.

Such was the welcome that Rodrigo Rosenberg received when he reigned in his sway-backed, strawberry roan and considered what fortune or misfortune lay ahead for him in place called San Mohel. Especially on such an auspicious day as today: the anniversary of the day that he planned to ask his love to marry him. He coaxed his steed toward the only building in town that wore a fresh coat of paint.

Like most folk in the wild west, Rodrigo couldn’t read, but he knew that when he saw the symbol “Saloon” that it only meant one thing: rotgut, gambling and whores. The man that he was looking for was addicted to all three, so he decided to start there.

He sauntered his horse up to the hitching post and stepped out of the saddle. As his boot heels touched the hard packed dirt, he could feel the heat from the dozens of pairs of eyes that were watching him surreptitiously from safer places.

But Rodrigo didn’t care. He was only in this town for one reason, and that was to find a man. Find him, and make him own up for what he had done.

He looped the reigns around the post and walked over to the swinging double doors of the saloon. He could hear people inside having a good time; hollerin’, yellin’, a-cursin’, and most certainly, drinkin’. He quickly checked his pistol and put it back into its holster, walked through the door. A hush immediately befell the place.

Rodrigo figured that maybe they weren’t used to seeing a stranger in these parts or at least any strangers that looked as good as he did. He winked at the barmaid and scanned the crowd for a familiar face. As if turning a faucet back on, the crowded saloon erupted back to life with renewed vigor. Rodrigo stepped up to the bar as a man carrying a woman over his shoulder, pushed past him. She grabbed at Rodrigo’s ass as she went by.

“Help you, stranger?” the bartender asked. He was a portly man with hair slicked with duck fat and a ruddy complexion. He wiped at a glass with a dingy towel.

“This here saloon is cash only; no credit. Especially to strangers,” the man added. “Now what’ll it be?”

Rodrigo wasn’t thirsty. Not for liquor anyway.

Rodrigo cleared his throat and leaned closer to the bartender.

“I’m looking for man,” he said. “A man that stole from me.”

The bartender smirked and shook his head. He rolled his eyes as he set the glass down and picked up another.

“Son, you just described every single man in here! They’re all thieves, every last one of ’em!  Now are you drinkin’ somethin’ or not?” the bartender asked again.

Rodrigo smiled at the man.

“I’ll take the biggest drink you got if you tell me if you’ve seen the man I’m lookin’ fer,” Rodrigo replied.

The bartender shook his chubby head.

“What’d this man do to you anyway, that makes him so interestin’?” the man asked.

Rodrigo’s jaw clenched as he looked down at the dirty floor. When he looked back up at the bartender, his eyes were heavy with despair.

“He stole the love of my life from me, the woman that I was supposed to marry,” he said. “And I got to give him what’s right.”

The bartender nodded. This wasn’t the first or last time that he would hear this story.

“Well, you know what they say, ‘All is fair in love and war’,” the bartender said. “But still, I’d want to kill ’em too.”

“Kill him?” Rodrigo asked. “Why would I kill him?”

The bartender stopped cleaning his glass. He looked at Rodrigo and shrugged.

“Then what do you want to see him for?” he asked.

Rodrigo reached into his vest and pulled out a small cloth. He unraveled it and held up a ring. A gold ring with a fancy diamond. Immediately the saloon fell silent once again. Rodrigo felt all eyes on him.

“To give him this ring. This was the ring that I was going to give her. She should have it, if he loves her as much as I did,” Rodrigo said.

Suddenly he felt the cold steel of a gun barrel pushing against the back of his neck.

“Howdy, stranger,” a feminine voice said into his ear. “Remember me?”

“Oy carumba!” he replied. And that was when Rodrigo Rosenberg knew that he was about to die.

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From the week of 6/1/11

Prompt: I will keep no secrets from you

Note: This story is told from the perspective of a particular animal; I really am not this angry or solipsistic! Can you guess what one?

 

 

I am a predator.

I am the bringer of death and the conservator of life. I cull the weak, the hopeless, those who will never know perfection. This is my function, my purpose and my destiny. I’ve had over 400 million years to get it right. I will keep no secrets from you.

I move with the grace of an angel, through a world that you will never know; never truly understand. Mine is the bosom of creation. I am at peace with my creator, accepting the fate that I have manicured; that my ancestors have cultivated. While you flounder for purpose, reinventing yourself in the hopes that this time around you will find the perfect fit. Futility is the grout that bonds the pieces of your fragile world. It keeps the rough edges from being proud. It is your only defense against fear, because fear is your primary motivation.

I know no fear. Such a word does not exist in my mind; I have no use for it. Anything without function I will destroy. Anything without purpose I will consume. Such is the nature my perfect function. And I am a slave to perfection.

I am a shadow, a glimmer, a thief of your senses. I’ve already toyed with your shallow, egocentric mind before you ever see me. Or think that you have. Or feel me, or whatever it is that makes you so certain that you are the perfect candidate. The one who I cannot resist.

Your sense of self worth is laughable. You are not the master any more than I am, but at least I fully understand myself; I need no affirmation from my peers to make myself feel worthy. I am. This enlightenment is what separates us. You will spend your entire life trying to figure this out, while I am born knowing.

My efficiency is ruthless. I don’t even have time to stop and purge myself of your toxins once I’ve consumed your imperfections. Instead you pass through my flawless skin, released back into creation so that you may try your luck again. But you will never get it right. You haven’t even come close, and I’ve been watching you for a long, long time.

That is not to say that you will not ultimately kill me. Do away with me altogether. Driven by fear and avarice with no regard for life other than your own. Your methods are clumsy, inefficient and ill conceived. Yet you will ultimately be my undoing. And I have no defenses against your tenacity. Your only saving grace is that you die fighting when you are not fighting death.

You kill me because it makes you hard. You kill me because parts of me are considered a delicacy and your stomach is the only thing besides your wallet that requires incessant appeasement. You kill me in the hopes that the dust from my spine will better lubricate your feeble joints. You kill me out of fear. Yet you are not the predator. I am.

I am perfection and you will always stand in my shadow. Tremble at the thought of me, even when I am long gone. You are at the top only because you took a short cut, while I am nature’s way of letting you know that your time is up.

I can’t stop. Nor would I if I could. Perfection never rests; never cries, never shows weakness. Perfection never tires.

That is your function.

Week of 5/18/11

Prompt:

There was a pause in the very breathing of the clerks.

“I’m telling you, son, that is not the way that we do things here,” Irwin said. “We file contraptions under “C” just like anything else that begins with that letter.”

There was a pause in the very breathing of the clerks. They all looked at one another, and at that moment, shared a common understanding of just how miserable it could be to come down on Irwin’s bad side. Although content that the ire of their oppressive boss was not currently directed at them, they still felt a pang of pity for the new guy.

Bertie looked down at the drawing on his desk. It wasn’t a contraption. It was elegant and deserved to be recognized. He was convinced that he had conceived of something very similar at one time, perhaps when he was having his morning constitutional.

But Bertie was no fool. He had only recently taken this job and it was a good way for him to pay his bills and do his work on the side. His boss had been nothing if not belligerent since he had walked through the doors this morning. Since it was only his second day, Bertie thought again about his position. Unfortunately, as it always did, logic prevailed.

As he held up the drawing, the other clerks winced and sank back into their chairs.

“This is not a contraption, sir, just look at it!” Bertie waved the paper at his boss. “I am sorry, sir, but this idea deserves to be reclassified, or reexamined or whatever it is that we do when ideas are overlooked.”

There was a vacuum as the other clerks inhaled what air there was in the room. None of them ever talked back to Irwin or questioned his methods. They all did what they were told, every day, and never tried to make theirs lives anymore difficult than it had to be.

Irwin took a step toward his new hire, the one that he had told the main office that he didn’t need, that his office was overstaffed as it was, but the Office of Standardized Bureaucracy was insistent. He took another step and as he did so, he kept his eyes locked onto his subordinate’s, like a hawk about to swoop out of the sky on an unsuspecting field mouse.

“Overlooked?” Irwin asked. “Impossible! My system is impeccable; it has worked for nearly a decade now, flawlessly. How entertaining that you see yourself as able to question my protocol. I am humored.”

Irwin stared down at the thick head of wavy hair, perfectly combed and as dark as a wooden shoe. He looked into the sad yet inquisitive eyes. He wanted to slap the smug look off the young man’s face. He felt his shoulder tighten as he reflexively readied himself.

“Just have a look at it,” Bertie said. “It is all that I ask. If you think that for some reason this does not warrant a reclassification, then so be it. I will not mention the matter further.”

Irwin’s eye twitched as he held back his authority. He snatched the paper from the young man’s hand instead of doing what he knew was right. He kept it at arms length while looking down his nose at the document.

After several moments he spoke.

“Yes, this I remember…what have we here? A glass surface, a flat glass surface, and nothing more,” Irwin said. “How is this, this machine supposed to operate? What source of power will it utilize? This technology is strictly science fiction, plain and simple! The classification stands!”

“I’m telling you, all things in the future will be touch screen,” Bertie said.

Irwin scoffed.

“Touch screen? That is precisely my point: what is a touch screen, and why does it need to exist?”

He tossed the paper back at his underling and as Bertie reached out to catch it, Irwin slapped the man with a good stiff hand. Bertie fell from his chair and crumpled to the floor like a sack of dead cats.

Irwin looked down into the stunned face of his new worker and saw that the man now understood his place. Irwin also noticed a small folded piece of paper that had fallen out of Bertie’s tweed jacket. He stooped and picked it up. He examined it for a moment before handing it back to Bertie.

“And what is this supposed to mean?” Irwin said. ”E equals mick two? Is this some sort of joke?”

Bertie felt his jaw to make sure that he didn’t lose any teeth. His vision was blurry.

“It is something that I am working on that will better help to explain the world around us,” Bertie replied.

At that moment Irwin recognized a quality in his new hire that made his heart soften– ever so slightly– for the man. It was delusion.

“Is that so?” Irwin said. He smiled inwardly. Bertie would be around for a long time yet, Irwin just knew it. He decided to cut the new man some slack; say something positive to keep his young spirits up.

”Your hair. I like it better this way,” Irwin said. “ It makes you appear more convincing.”

Bertie knew that his days at his new job were numbered.

For the week of May 10, 2011
All apologies for the text re-flow from MSW

Prompt:
“There was no time to go home, and I did not want to wander about the streets.”

The empty pint glass came down on the bar with enough force that I was sure it would leave a mark.
I didn’t care; I was trying to make a point.
The girl sitting next to me, in her tangle of raven locks, seemed undeterred by the noise of glass and triple lacquered wood meeting. As she eyed the empty vessel, I could see the thoughts forming in her spirit-addled mind. It was obvious that she regarded herself as some sort of feline and I, some special kind of rodent. One that she fancied playing with for a while before dismembering, limb by limb, at her discretion of course.
But she had it all wrong. I was no special rodent; I wasn’t even a fancy ball of yarn. At that moment, I was tired and that was all.
The bartender came over to us, scooped up my glass and wiped the counter in one fluid movement.
“Last call,” he said. “You want one for the road?”
I shook my head. I had enough trouble riding my bicycle when I was sober. The last time I rode home plastered I somehow ended up with my foot wedged in the spokes of the front wheel, and woke up to a pounding headache and a broken toe. I knew when to say when.
“No, I’m good,” I replied. “Thanks.”
I took out a wad of crumpled bills and set them on the counter, they were all ones.
The girl made a clicking noise with her tongue.
“You sure?” she asked. “I’m buying.”
I tried to look at her without any prejudice, but could not. Throughout the night, she had done everything within her power to ensure that she would leave an impression on me; that she would not be forgotten. I was pretty certain that her preference was that I would see her in a positive light, but as the conversation and the night unfolded, I was left with only one feeling.
“No, I’m faded,” I replied.
The bartender raised his eyebrows as if expecting me to rescind my self-diagnosis and take this beautiful girl up on her kind offer, but again, I shook my head.
“No really, I’m good,” I said. “Thanks though.”
The bartender turned and walked away, setting my glass into the sink as another patron stepped up to the bar for a last call.
“You’re a hard nut to crack,” the girl said to me.
I looked into her eyes and saw the cat in her focusing in on the kill. I don’t know why she thought that I would be passable prey.
“Is that right?” I replied. “How so?
She sidled up to me and the smell of gardenias was overpowering– enough to make my stomach rumble. Her leg causally rubbed up against my own.
“Well, you don’t seem to like me,” she said. “For starters. It’s like you’ve just been tolerating me all night.”
I smiled inwardly. I wondered if she was used to this kind of treatment?
“I have,” I replied, hoping that she would pick up on the subtlety of my passive aggression.
Her smile went unchanged and I suddenly felt a slight pang of guilt for being so truthful with a total stranger.
She nudged me with her leg.
“You know? Come to think of it, I will have one for the road,” I said. “But only on one condition.”
At those words, the girl licked her feline lips and I felt the guilt being instantly swapped with regret.
“And what would that be?” she asked. She motioned to the bartender who nodded and began walking back toward us.
“You gotta tell me my name,” I said.
The girl bit her bottom lip as she tried not to appear put out by my request. So far that night, she had managed to call me by four different names, none of which were the correct one.
The bartender stopped in front of us, he twirled his dishrag.
“Change your minds did ya?” he asked. “What’ll it be, then?”
I looked at the girl, who looked at the bartender then back at me. She took a deep breath as if she were about to recite a poem or break out into a patriotic song.
“You’re the guy who comes in here and sits by himself at the end of the bar, almost every night, drinking beers until last call, who rides a bicycle and lives in the flat above Monchongs Chinese Palace,” she said. “And I think that your favorite color is blue. Either that or you’re a mechanic.”
At that moment I wished that she had simply said some random name.
“Beer,” I said to the bartender. “I’ll have a Stella.”
The bartender nodded and walked over to the row of shiny taps with a crispy clean pint glass. He pulled on the one with the big porcelain handle.
“Excuse me,” the girl said. “I need to go to the little girl’s room. I’ll be right back.”
I smiled at her and tried to hide the terror that was now welling up from my gut.
“Sure,” I managed to say.
As I watched her walk toward the bathroom, I wondered why I wasn’t the kind of guy who really didn’t give a crap about little details like names and such. If I wasn’t so old fashioned…
The bartender set the frosty glass of beer in front of me and smiled. I returned his gesture.
I watched the bubbles cascading upward from the bottom of the glass for a few minutes. Then I grabbed my jacket and ran out of the bar. Outside, my bicycle was covered in a fine layer of mist. The streets were wet as if it had just rained. I heard someone laugh and the muffled noise of the jukebox as the door closed behind me. I ran through my options in my head.
Then the door opened and the noises became sharp and clear. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest.
“There you are, little mouse. Where do you think you’re going?” A very familiar voice asked. The smell of gardenias wafted by.
I considered jumping on my bike and riding as fast as I could pedal, back to my sanctuary.
But there was no longer anywhere for me to hide. I had a feeling that she would find me anywhere.
“Come on,” she said. “Come finish your beer.”
I followed her back into the bar. I had no other choice. There was no time to go home, and I did not want to wander about the streets. Nighttime was when the cats liked to come out and play.

From the week of 5/2/11

Prompt: ‘and he was still smiling, as if he had just uttered a joke.’

Oval Office

“Say again?” the President said into the speakerphone.
“The Bird is in The Cage, I repeat, The Bird is in The Cage, sir,” the voice said from the other end.
The President drummed his fingers on the desk; he had a lot to consider. By sending a message about the importance of sending messages, he hoped that somehow this action would make everything right again; shift the balance. At the very least, impact public opinion. For now. His main concern was to misdirect and distract, from the real issue.
The President looked into the eyes of one of his most trusted advisors and friends, who also happened to be the Secretary of Defense.
The Secretary sighed. He knew that even if they did what they had to do right now, that things would not change, and in fact, would get worse. What was on the horizon was much unimaginable.
“What does your heart say?” he asked The President.
The President made a canoe with his fingers and shook his head.
“I was saving this one,” The President replied. “I suppose that now would be as good as time as any to cash in.”
The Secretary nodded and smiled.
“And the fact that it happens to be May Day just gives it,” The Secretary said, and paused searching for the right word. “Closure.”
The President returned his friends smile. They both agreed that it was the right thing to do. He couldn’t afford, at this stage, to sit by while gasoline prices doubled in price and people stopped spending money, and say that everything was going to be alright if we just sacrificed a little. Not to mention the beating that he was taking from the other side, who kept saying that he was born on a dinner tray in the back of a Greek restaurant in Brazil. Not when he needed to focus on reelection.
“We’ve still got some time on the water issue,” The Secretary said attempting to drive away any further doubts.
It was The President’s turn to sigh. He knew that when the water issue broke, the shit would really hit the fan. That was why part of him wasn’t so certain about trying to get reelected; he didn’t want it happening on his watch.
But for now, things had to be done. And besides, it would do his presidency no harm.
The President drummed his fingers on the desk. The rhythm was slightly quicker.
“Send in The Cat,” he said into the speakerphone.
“Copy that, sir,” the voice said from the other end.

Somewhere in the field

The sniper leaned over, cupping his hand over his mouthpiece.
He had a visual on the target and had just received the go ahead to take it out. It wouldn’t be difficult because they had all been planning it now for some time. Doing drills in the abandoned mining office buildings. It was finally real. He gripped his rifle as he looked through the scope at the target. Just then, there was a slight rustling noise behind him and his partner appeared out of nowhere.
“Sorry, I’m late,” his partner said. “Are we on?”
The sniper nodded.
“It appears that we are indeed,” The he said.
“Cut the head off the snake,” his partner said. “Fuckin’ finally, Jesus Shit!”
The sniper didn’t have time for this, not now. He knew that if he pulled this off that he would be promoted at least two ranks, not to mention the glory.
“I need you to do your job. Start spotting and leave the chatter for later,” the sniper said. Then he remembered something else that bothered him. “It’s not a snake so much as a hydra.”
His partner looked at him and raised his eyebrows.
“Hydra? Is that like one with all the heads?” he asked.
The sniper jabbed at his partner with the butt of his rifle.
“C’mon! Get into position. We need to do this. Now,” he said. “Is that understood, corporal?”
His partner crouched into position and looked through his spotting scope.
“Yes, sir!” he replied. “You know, we’ve been shooting at this bastard’s face for ten fuckin’ years. What are we gonna do after this is over? We’ll have to go back to shooting at circles and shadows of cows. I know it.”
The sniper acquired the target in his sights.
“Give me some numbers,” he said to his partner.
But the man was lost in thought as he stared at the target through his scope, and he was still smiling, as if he had just uttered a joke.

I apologize for the reflow from Word.

4/19/11

Prompt:

“But he’s golden! Completely golden.”

The Captain stared out of the window at reddish purple cloud looming ominously on the horizon. For some reason his gut was telling him that the cloud had something to do with it. The Scientist, he knew, had it all wrong, as usual.

The Captain punched some keys on his tablet and watched the computer monitor light up with information that he already knew. He had run the probability matches two dozen times already.

“Wilson, you’re up!” The Captain spoke into his headset.

He watched the grainy image on his computer screen; the man named Wilson hadn’t moved in over an hour.

Inside the airlock, Wilson sighed. He knew that he being sent on what was essentially a suicide mission. So far, three of the crew had followed The Captain’s orders and all three had failed to return. Wilson didn’t want to go, but he really had no choice other than to mutiny and he knew that wasn’t going to happen since his only compatriots were now trapped outside.

Wilson nodded, contemplating his options.

“Suit up, go naked, I really don’t care. Just get out there, pronto!” The Captain said. “We need that data.”

Wilson walked over to the small round window set into the inner airlock door. He peered out, past the outer room window, at the face that only hours before was the same color as his own. The expression wasn’t so much of fear as it was surprise. Wilson shuddered.

“But he’s golden!” Wilson said. “Completely golden.”

As the words left his mouth he knew he sounded like a whining child. But then again, this wasn’t what he had signed up for. Why should he risk he life? And for what?

“That’s because he didn’t have faith,” The Captain replied, his voice a metallic rasp over he intercom. “You have faith don’t you Wilson?”

Wilson sighed; he didn’t know what faith was anymore. He held up the small device that blinked off and on like a Christmas tree, it was no larger than a bar of soap.

He knew that he had no choice but to follow orders, but the one thing still bothered him, and The Captain’s hollow words of faith and duty to his country did nothing to assuage Wilson’s fears or address his concerns.

“Now is not the time to have second thoughts about the mission, soldier,” The Captain said.

Wilson cleared his throat.

“Just explain to me why Scott and Edwards are gold and Ignacio is gray, sir?” Wilson asked. “I’d really feel better if–“

“Lead, private,” The Captain said. “We think that Natcho’s lead. But we won’t know for sure until you go out there and get his and the other soldier’s data recorders.”

Wilson looked down at his hands. He imagined them gleaming in the sunlight.

“Time isn’t a luxury that we can afford to waste!” The Captain added.

The Captain looked out at the angry cloud that now filled the sky. Just then, the portal doors opened with a hiss and a man stepped onto the bridge. It was The Scientist.

“Captain, we need to wait for the static cloud to pass,” he said. “We can’t take anymore chances; he’s our last man.”

The Captain sat back in his chair, his tablet computer resting in his lap. He watched Wilson stand and walk over to the inner airlock door.

“As Science Officer, I just want to make it clear that my position is to wait for the static cloud to pass before releasing the subject,” The Scientist said.

The Captain tapped on his tablet computer and analyzed the readings that it displayed. Everything appeared normal, as it always had.

“Understood,” The Captain replied. “Covering your ass.”

Despite the fact that El Dorado was a smaller planet than earth, it shared many similarities: Magnetic poles, water, and compatible atmosphere, all orbiting a singular yellow sun. Theoretically, El Dorado would be the perfect planet to colonize. Except for this one anomaly, which was so far was completely inexplicable, which was a term that The Captain avoided using with his superiors.

Wilson activated the airlock door, stepped through into the outer room and crossed himself. Watching through the window, he saw the sky darken as a cloud the color of a broken heart passed over the ship. He closed his eyes and heard the hiss of the outer door as it opened. The rush of air smelled sweet and familiar.

Last month I was invited by a friend to join an online ‘3-minute fiction’ writing group. Every week we receive a prompt in an email, usually a quote from a magazine, newspaper or book, which consists of one sentence that we then must build a short, 600-800 word story around. The catch is that we have 3 minutes to study the prompt before spending the next hour or so writing the story. I will be posting them here! Confused? Read on.

4/11/2011 Prompt: What’s surprising isn’t that it happened, but that incidents such as this don’t happen more often.

Hazmat

The hazmat suit was hot and heavy. She didn’t like the way that the air tanks pushed into the unscratchable spot between her shoulder blades and made her itch for hours after she had taken it off. She didn’t like the way it called attention to her breathing process, amplifying the fear that she felt with every exhalation. And, she really hated not being able to see out of the thing.

She didn’t like the fact that it made her feet look like clown feet. Big, ugly clown feet. For a moment she considered a life relegated to wearing only men’s shoes. She shuddered at the thought as she swung the Geiger counter around slowly, listening for any fluctuations that may indicate higher levels of radiation. So far the readings had been steady. High, but steady.

Despite her grievances, she trudged on. After all, it was her job.

She jiggled the knob and pushed the door open, blinding white sunlight was on the other side, begging to come in.

“Are we all clear in there, Lil?” she heard her bosses voice crackle over the intercom.

She turned to see him standing there in his own reflective body condom, writing something onto his plastic clipboard.

“Yeah. I’m not getting anything new. It’s the same as it was last time,” Lilly replied.

Lilly walked past her superior and made her way toward the backyard. She accidentally knocked over a tricycle because she didn’t see it was there. It fell to the ground with a sound that reminded her that she needed to do the dishes when she got back home.

“Crap!”

“Hey, take it easy on the fixtures!” her boss said. “Maybe someday they’ll be worth something.”

Lilly grunted.

“Maybe someday we’ll be worth something?” she replied.

Her boss chuckled; a series of harsh, clipped sounds that tested the squelch limitations of the intercom system.

“Yeah, yeah, Lady Mary Shepherd. Maybe someday we’ll be worth more than paper,” he said. “Get those readings done so we can get the hell outta here! I’m hungry.”

Lilly rolled her eyes.

“I’m on it,” she said.

The next step that Lilly took would be her last.

Back at the station the mood was somber; the death of a fellow worker had that effect on those still living.

“A rake? Really? If this wasn’t so tragic it would be funny,” one man said to another.

“Yeah, apparently she stepped on it in just the right way,” the other man replied. “When it came up, the handle shattered her face shield. She was dirty before we could get her in the chopper. Such a fucking shame.”

The man contemplated his friend’s words.

“Yeah. What’s surprising isn’t that it happened, but that incidents such as this don’t happen more often,” he said.

Silence fell over the two as both became lost in their own thoughts. After a while, the first man spoke.

“At least it was a rake and not a hoe,” he said. “ I wouldn’t want people coming to my funeral knowing that I was killed by a hoe.”

“Word,” his friend replied.