(actual) nice guys (don’t) finish last

The doorbell chimed and woke Bea with a start. She slid from the couch to the floor, adjusting her blanket cocoon. (A blanket cape gave her more mobility.) She wiped sleep from her eyes and ambled to the front door. Not bothering to check the peep hole, she unlocked and opened it.

“Hey…?”

Bea couldn’t blame her confusion on her waning fever. A vaguely familiar gangly guy stood on her front porch. His name escaped her (or had never been committed to her memory).

“Hey Bea!” The disheveled hipster thrust a cup of melting ice cream into her hands. “I knew you were craving it, so I thought I’d stop by with some.”

Her eyes widened. “Are you psychic?”

“You tweeted about it this afternoon.”

“Do I know you?”

Ice cream dripped from the paper cup onto her hands. Her fingers stuck together as she gripped the cup tighter.

“I’m Miller. We met at The Cults show a couple weeks ago?”

Bea squinted and cocked her head.

“Your line was when you asked if I was named after the shitty beer –”

“Oh. You’re that guy. For future reference, that wasn’t a line.”

“Sure it was. You were negging me.”

That was your justification to stalk me on Twitter?”

“You wouldn’t give me your number, so you gave me your Twitter handle.”

“Being hammered makes me pity assholes like you.”

“Why am I an asshole? I brought you ice cream because you’re sick!”

“I mocked you at the bar because you were quizzing some poor girl wearing a Toro Y Moi shirt –”

“I just wanted to know if she was a real fan or –”

“–just a poser? How old are you, fourteen?”

“Twenty-seven.”

“Get out of my house. And take this with you.” Bea threw the Coldstone cup at his car and cheered when it splattered on his windshield.

“What the hell is wrong with you?! I was just trying to be nice –”

“That’s the problem with guys like you, Miller –”

“Guysplural — like me? I’m one of a kind! Women don’t appreciate men who treat them well –”

“– you say you’re nice, but are incensed when a woman won’t fuck you because of your niceness.”

“I never said I was –”

“Your creepiness says it for you.”

“So because you’re not interested that makes me a creep?”

Exactly!

The door slammed behind Bea. She locked and dead-bolted it. Disgusted, she shuffled to the kitchen and scrubbed her hands clean.

The Heist

A little boy pedaled his rusted red tricycle down the sidewalk toward Venice Beach. The street was deserted. Surfers, vendors, and street performers weren’t awake, much less at the boardwalk at sunrise.

Brakes screeching to a stop beside a No Parking sign, he slipped off his backpack and retrieved a bike lock. A chill ran down his spine. His mother always cautioned him about his overactive imagination. It was impossible to hear an irritated, whispered conversation when he was the only person on the boardwalk.

“This is bullshit.”

“It’s part of initiation –”

“Hazing. It’s part of a hazing ritual.”

“If you can’t handle a simple task, then –”

“– I’m not daring or scary enough to haunt with you. I know the rhetoric.”

“How can I be your mentor if you won’t let me ment?”

“That’s not a verb.”

“Quit stalling, ghoul.”

“What is it with ghosts and puns?”

“You’re also a fool.”

“Whoomp, there is it!”

“Ford.”

“Nixon.”

“The compatibility test was inaccurate. The Head Haunter appointed you as my mentor because we both had the misfortune of being named after terrible American presidents.”

“Can you be serious for one minute?”

“Who assigned our Fright Crew to haunt Venice Beach? These assholes just think their hallucinogens are extremely potent — they never get scared.”

“It’s a weird gig, but someone’s gotta do it.”

Nixon motioned for the younger ghost to follow him. Nixon and Ford hovered behind the suspicious little boy. He locked the back of his tricycle to the No Parking sign. Beaming, he sat on the curb and rummaged through his backpack for his iPad.

“The kid’s got an attention span of a flea.”

“You’re not gonna be able to spook him by rattling the sign or something. Get creative.”

Ford sighed and circled the little boy closely. The boy shuddered, but remained focused on his Candy Crush game. Ford dove and snatched the front wheel from the boy’s tricycle.

The boy gasped. “Hey!” He grabbed fistfuls of air, but Ford evaded him and dangled the wheel above his head.

Nixon smiled at his protégé. He cocked his head toward the hills, where the Haunting Headquarters cave was hidden. Ford flew past, tricycle wheel held above his head triumphantly.

“Kids these days –” Nixon snickered.

“– they should know better than to improperly lock their bikes, lest some ghosts steal their wheels.”

 

*Note: this story was inspired by this photo I took while in California last week.

Writing Process Blog Hop

Robert invited me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Hop. He’s a fellow writer whose blog From a Clogged Mind features poignant poetry, exciting flash fiction, and occasionally, music videos for songs he enjoys. My favorite of Robert’s works are his flash fiction stories — action-packed with an air of mystery.

The rules:
1. I must answer the four questions below.
2. I must link back to the person who invited me to this Blog Hop.
3. I must name four writers who will continue this Blog Hop and notify them.

Questions:
1) What are you working on?
Aside from what I’ve been posting here, I’ve been outlining a romantic comedy trilogy. It may or may not be based on my hilarious female friends’ adventures in dating. It’s definitely based on how as twenty-somethings, all of us are trying to figure out how to be adults while still having fun.

2) How does your work differ from others in the genre?
With my poetry, I have a signature punctuation style — I use parentheses, don’t typically capitalize titles or within poems, and use dashes rather than ellipses. My short stories are dialogue-driven (sometimes, the story ends up being completely comprised of dialogue), which probably makes them read more like a play. I’ll get back to y’all on the novels once I’ve hammered those out.

3) Why do you write what you write?
I’ve kept a journal since I was four. Writing is my stress reliever. It’s the way I cope with and sort through my emotions. The reason I’m going to write those romantic comedies is that the genre is one of my favorites and there are too many cliched and unrealistic series out there. I wanted to write a rom-com series that was relatable and not rehashing what we’ve been forced to read, for lack of a better selection.

4) How does your writing process work?
Like Robert, my poetry is usually inspired by whatever music I’m listening to, or in my case, my mood. For short stories, I have an idea for a funny conversation or situation and write without planning it. For novels, I brainstorm, outline the characters and plots, then write (and continually revise).

Look for the Blog Hop to continue next week at these sites:
Author Miranda Stone
Miranda is a fantastic author. Her poetry is moving and has extremely vivid imagery. Her short stories have unique characters who don’t typically do the right thing, yet you find yourself sympathizing with them anyway because you’ve glimpsed why they’re flawed.

Little Steps
Dean is an expat whose life was turned upside down once she became a mom. She shares her stories and photos about the “little” triumphs (and struggles) of motherhood, as well as photos and stories from her travels with her family. She features other parents on her blog, as well.

The Lovely Photog
LeSha is an amazing photographer. She showcases her photos, gives helpful tips to newbie photographers, reviews beauty/hair products, and shares stories and photos about her family. Her blog is a collection of everything she loves.

Unzip These Lips
Vic is a youngin’ (a high school senior), but is mature for her age. Her blog features evocative poetry and prose posts about her budding relationship. She also reblogs feminist and LGBTQ articles, as well as other bloggers’ works that she enjoys.

I’m going to cheat and mention one other blog for y’all to check out, which I recently discovered:
Benjamin’s The Breakdown of Taboo – his poems are uniquely structured and thought-provoking.

Throwback Thursday: three birthdays ago

Shaina, me, & Andrea. Atlanta, Georgia. 02.26.11.

Shaina, me, & Andrea. Atlanta, Georgia. 02.26.11.

Three birthdays ago, Andrea, Shaina, and the Wolf Pack celebrated my twenty-third birthday with me in Atlanta. We stayed in a hotel in Buckhead (down the street from my office, where I didn’t work at the time). After dinner, we went clubbing in midtown.

The night ended with us ordering an obscene amount of food from a diner that didn’t deliver. We were too drunk to go pick up our order & passed out. The next morning, we woke up to several messages letting us know that our food was ready.

A guide to safely raving

“I’m too sober for this.” Polina sighed.

“I’ve got an extra hit if you want it.” Vanessa presented a tiny ziplog bag with a powder-filled pill.

“I’m not taking molly that you bought from some rando ginger kid in the parking lot!” Polina scoffed and sipped her water.

“I wasn’t gonna buy it from that dude with meth teeth!” Vanessa chugged the rest of her water bottle.

The Quad was packed. Strobe lights flashed in unison with each song, frenetically changing colors when the bass dropped. A cloud of sweat hovered over the dancing crowd. Flux Pavillion manned his turntables. He pumped his arms to direct the sea of people — jump higher.

“Gonna run to the bathroom.” Polina squinted suspiciously at her best friend.

“I’ll stay here!” Vanessa smiled innocently.

“Damn it, V.”

Vanessa was crowd surfing. She laughed and waved to Polina. A guy in a Gumby costume and a girl dressed in a wolf headdress with a furry bikini pulled her onstage. Polina stuffed her hands into her pockets, nodding and swaying with the music.

“What the hell?!”

Polina pulled a tiny ziploc bag out of her pocket. Vanessa must’ve dropped it into her pocket before she went to the bathroom. She glanced around, popped it, and drained the rest of her water bottle.

***

“V — the universe is giving me a hug!”

“Isn’t it beautiful, Pol?”

“Colors are even brighter. Everything is in focus.”

“I can feel my skin breathing…”

“Is it weird?”

“It’s peaceful.”

“I never wanna eat.”

“If we had water gallon jugs, I could easily drink one right now.”

“Me too! Heat waves are rolling down my spine.”

“See? And you thought that ginger kid was sketchy.”

“I take back what I said. How did you know his shit was legit?”

“He lives with his grandma.”

“She finds high quality drugs for him…?”

“No, he said that she always tells him to do his best in everything he does, so he would never sell anything subpar.”

“God bless ginger kid’s grandma.”

“Amen.”

What we got left is just me and you

“I’m the worst.” Gemma sighed, her shoulders stooped in defeat.

“Should I guess what you did while you wrestle with your guilt?” Adelaide locked the door behind them and sat on her couch.

“Isn’t that what best friends are for?” The taller girl flung herself to the floor.

“Are your theatrics warranted this time?”

“Yes.”

“Last time, you just shrank that cardigan you wore every day freshman year –”

“I lost my car key. Clicker too.”

“Don’t you have a spare?”

“Lost it last year. Instead of getting another made, I swore I’d never lose the original.”

“Where did you last have them?”

“…”

“Gem.”

“Ade, I had half a bottle of tequila –”

“– and lost your car keys in Chad’s pants.”

“Chad’s apartment. Or somewhere between the street and his apartment. I’m not really sure.”

“Call him so he can find them.”

“I dunno know where my phone is.”

“Use mine.”

“Don’t have his number memorized.”

“Y’all hook up whenever either of you need drunken ex comfort sex!”

“I took your advice and started using technology more — I had his number saved to my iPhone favorites.”

“Facebook message him.”

“He’s not on Facebook.”

“Being a Luddite is yet another reason that asshole should be denied your time and pussy.”

The doorbell chimed.

“You should get it, Gem.”

“Your house, Ade. I’m your guest who’s comfortably laying on the floor.”

“You’re closer to the door.”

Fine.”

Gemma didn’t bother checking the peephole before swinging the door open.

“Chad.”

“Gemma.”

“I’ll be in my room avoiding this awkwardness if you need me!” Adelaide left the non-couple in the doorway.

“You forgot your keys and phone when you bolted this morning.”

“How’d you know where I was?”

“You and Adelaide always go to each other for help. Or to talk shit about us terrible dudes.

“We don’t talk shit –”

“…”

Okay, we do — only when it’s well-deserved.”

“I know I messed up before, but I meant it when I said I was sorry.”

“You apologized for hurting me. Really, you just felt bad that you got caught fucking someone else.”

“But –”

“Don’t call me –”

“What about –”

“No drunk texts, no stoned smoke signals, or no sober letters sent by carrier pigeon. It’s over.”

Five minutes later, on Facebook:

Gemma Johnson: The greatest part about losing my keys & phone was witnessing a grown man(child) sprint away from my “menacing” best friend as she threatened to punch him with brass knuckles. 

44 likes, 1 comment

Adelaide Jacinto: #badgirlsdoitwell

For the sake of efficiency

“You stole the last jalapeño popper.”

Ed turned slowly to face his accuser. “Pardon?”

The petite woman frowned. “You snatched your sixth one before I could even try my first!”

“I couldn’t help it — they’re addictive!” He held his hand in front of his mouth to hide his enthusiastic chewing.

“Good.” She smiled. “‘I made them.”

“Ed.”

“Nisey.”

“Short for…?”

“Denise. My lil’ brother couldn’t pronounce his d’s, so he called me Nisey.”

“One of the many joys of being an only child — no siblings to give you nicknames.”

“In your case, I’m sure the bullies at boarding school did the honors.”

“How did you know I went to boarding school?”

“Just a hunch.” Nisey drained her solo cup and shook it, rattling the ice cubes.

“I owe you a drink.”

“Good thing drinks are free at potlucks. Kay’s goin’ on a liquor run soon –”

“Which is why we should walk to the pub down the street. She’ll buy the shitty stuff since the party’s winding down.”

“You’re real slick.”

Ed offered his arm. “Shall we?”

Nisey narrowed her eyes and looped her arm through his.

***

“I’m too old for this!”

“For what?”

“Neckin’ with my friend’s husband’s cute friend.”

“So you think I’m cute?”

“Wipe that smirk off your face! Would I be straddling you on your couch if I didn’t?”

“You could just be using me for sex.”

“Who said anybody’s gettin’ laid tonight?”

“I didn’t assume — just trying to lighten the mood!”

“Ed, I’m forty years old –“

“You’re smokin’ hot.”

“– thank you, but I’ve been divorced for a couple of decades. I’m good at being alone –“

“Nisey, I’m thirty years old. I’ve been divorced for a decade. I’ve dated a lot of women since –“

“A lot, eh?”

“– and I know right away whether I like someone or not. I like you.”

“I like you, too.”

“Since neither of us wants to waste our time –“

“Amen to that!”

“– what’s the harm in enjoying each other’s company, as the feeling is mutual?”

“Speakin’ of savin’ time…where’s your bedroom?”

****

“This was way better than either of our first weddings.”

“We should advise any youngins who wanna get hitched –“

“What’ll we tell them? If you meet someone at a friend’s party, marry the person a year later?”

“No, dumbass. We’ll tell them to save the money they’d use on a wedding and put it toward a downpayment on a house –“

“They don’t buy houses — they buy lofts or condos these days.”

“– get a friend to marry them, and go out for margaritas and nachos afterward.”

“The kids we know don’t have friends who are judges.”

“They’ve got friends who’ve bought marriage officiant licenses on the internet!”

“You can do that?”

“Yes, you old man.”

Your old man.”

“Your sappiness is embarrassing.”

“C’mon — gimme a kiss, missus.”

“Fine. But only ‘cuz I expect wedding night action when we get home.”