Tagged: stories

Not a crock of gold

“What is this thing called, Love?”

“Are we playing that game again?”

“What game?”

“You give me the first line of a song and I have to answer it with the start of another song.”

“No.”

“What then?”

“I want to know what this thing is called.”

“What thing?”

“That coloured thing coming out of the tree, Dumbo. What thing do you think I mean?”

“I don’t know. It would probably be easier if I could read your mind.”

“Yeah – what a tale my thoughts could tell.”

“Okay, we’ll do it your way. Red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and blue.”

“Why are there so many songs about rainbows?”

“Maybe it’s because…”

“Gotcha! You aren’t a Londoner.”

“That’s not what I was going to say. Maybe it’s because the colours of the rainbow will show the world to you.”

“Oh, very good. So you think I’m an ignorant savage and you’ve been so many places?”

“Is it true that at the end of a rainbow, you’ll find a pot of gold?”

“You’re not looking forward and you’re not looking back.”

“You’re right. We are going nowhere fast. It’s a rainbow.”

“What’s a rainbow?”

“Do you want a short answer or a proper one?”

“Yeah. I know your proper ones. Give me a short one.”

“What’s wrong with my proper answers?”

“They’re okay last thing at night; help me go to sleep, they do. Look. I don’t need detailed, scientific information. I just want to know what a rainbow is, how it’s formed and what it’s for.”

“And you want that in a couple of short, pithy sentences.”

“Of course.”

“Okay. What is it? It’s an arch of colours visible in the sky. How is it formed? It’s caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere.”

“See? It’s easy.”

“So now you know and understand it?”

“I didn’t say that, did I? But I don’t want you to tell me what refraction and dispersion are, either. So what’s it for?”

“Does it have to have a purpose?”

“Everything has to have a purpose, otherwise why’s it there?”

“Duh! It just is?”

“Don’t buy that. Nothing just happens.”

“Okay. Some people believe that there was once a great flood that was sent by God. When he stopped it, he put that bow in the sky as a sign that he’d never do it again.”

“So there haven’t been any floods since?”

“Of course there have. But not one covering the whole planet.”

“The whole planet? Is there even enough water for that?”

“Who knows? We’re talking about ancient beliefs that are based on stories that may, in some cases, be more illustrative than fact-based.”

“Best not get into religion, though, eh?”

“No. Best not.”

“So why don’t we have rainbows? Is it because we have a don’t have the same god?”

“Take a look around. How many suns can you see?”

“Oh! Where’s the other one?”

“That’s the thing. This world only has one—”

“Which is why everything only casts one shadow?”

“Precisely.”

“Thank Vrag for that. I thought I’d lost one of mine.”

“Come on, my lovely. Time to fly.”


I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 200, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.

Kreative Kue 200

Kreative Kue 199 asked for submissions based on this photograph:
John W Howell is the author of the John Cannon trilogy of My GRL, His Revenge, Our Justice and Circumstances of Childhood, co-author of The Contract, and blogs at Fiction Favorites.

The Square by John W. Howell © 2018

“Okay this is part 24B so why doesn’t it fit in slot 24?”

“You sure you read the instructions right?”

“I did. The next step is to fit part 24B into slot 24.”

“Why is the part so short then? Slot 24 is a foot bigger.”

“Yeah, that has me puzzled as well.”

“I have never seen such a confused mess in my whole life.”

“What do you mean ‘confused mess?’”

“Just look at this thing. Half the parts are not the right size, and it seems some are missing.”

“I checked all the parts before I began and they were all here.”

“Then why do you seem to have run out of material?”

“If I knew that I would have this conundrum solved. I called you for help not for stating the obvious.”

“Okay. I get it. Let me look at the plan.”

“It’s over there under the coffee cups.”

“Let me see. I just love these Ikea directions. I have a mechanical engineering degree and feel underqualified.”

“So what do you think?”

“For starters did you look at the picture?”

“No. Can’t say I did.”

“If you had you would realize this is supposed to be a square.”

“A square? I didn’t buy a square. I bought a rectangle. The foundation is for a rectangle.”

“You better look at your order then. You have a square. Did you get this at the Ikea store?”

“No, I ordered it online.”

“I think you better return it. You will never have enough material to finish a rectangle.”

“Look at my order. It clearly says the measurements are a rectangle.”

“All the better. It is their fault then. Wait what is this message in red?”

“Please check your order carefully before you begin assembly. No refunds or returns once assembly has begun.”

“Looks like you are screwed.”

“What if I order another square?”

“Humm let me see.  If I measure the sides and multiply by two. Yes, that will work.”

“I’m going to do it right now.”

“Just your luck you will get a rectangle.”

“That will work too.”

“Just think of the money you saved by ordering online.”

“Dark sarcasm in the classroom.”

“Yeah, sorry.”


Meanwhile, my effort was:

The Granny Annex

I don’t want to hear you grouse,
This will be your brand new house.
Its construction will bring you much fame and glory.
There’ll be room for all you need,
From restrictions, you’ll be freed
Even though it only has a single storey.

Do I look like I’m a prat?
I can never fit in that,
Though I know my height is somewhat short on inches.
Even my small bed won’t fit
And there’s no place to have a s**t,
And where can I put my gilded cage of finches?

I care nought about your birds,
Even less about your t***s.
You can stand because the roof has quite a pitch.
There’s enough room for your bed,
Just as sure as my name’s Fred.
For the rest, you must accept that life’s a bitch.

Fred is surely not your name.
You have always been the same.
I’ll move out, because I know that’s what you’d rather.
You really needn’t worry;
I will go, though I won’t hurry.
But I still say that’s no way to treat your father!


Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before 6pm on Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries, with links to your own blog or web site, on Monday.

Kreative Kue 199

Kreative Kue 198 asked for submissions based on this photograph:
John W Howell is the author of the John Cannon trilogy of My GRL, His Revenge, Our Justice and Circumstances of Childhood, co-author of The Contract, and blogs at Fiction Favorites.

Das Boot by John W. Howell © 2018

“Kapitan. You should take a look at this.”

“Move aside Fritz and let me see. Mein Gott, what is that thing?”

“It looks like it might be an enemy ship.”

“Ja, but look at the color.”

“Maybe they like to decorate their ships for Halloween.”

“Don’t be a dummkopf. It would take months to paint that thing.”

“Why do you think they use such a color?”

“I can’t imagine. Maybe some sort of way to hide it.”

“It sure stands out against that jetty.”

“Prepare the bow torpedoes.”

“You aren’t going to sink her are you Kapitan?”

“That is what we are here for Fritz. What is the matter with you?”

“For one thing I don’t see any guns on her.”

“So?”

“Might be a non-combatant.”

“Yes, this is true.”

“And for another, our torpedoes haven’t been launched in a long time.”

“So what? We have gone for a long time before.”

“Finally, my arthritis is acting up again, and I don’t think I can punch the launch button.”

“Now that is a problem because I can’t straighten up enough to reach it.”

“Kapitan?”

“Yes, Fritz.”

“We have not had a message from the vatherland in how long?”

“Since September of 1945 Fritz.”

“And this year is 2018.”

“Ja.”

“Maybe we ought to retire Kapitan. War is a young man’s game.”


Meanwhile, my effort was:

The captain

“Can you give me any more speed, George?”

Isaac Williamson, Zak to his friends, was owner and captain of the fishing vessel Golden Maid. She had left harbour on the west coast of the island six days previously, headed for the rich fishing grounds to the southwest. The fishing had been good. Better than good, in fact. A normal trip, if the word normal can ever be used in relation to deep-sea fishing expeditions, involved two days out, three days’ fishing and two back. This time, the holds were full after only two days on the nets. Having been able to cut the trip short, Zak was keen to get back as quickly as they could manage – he had received a message on the ship-to-shore that Ellie, his wife of nine years, had safely delivered their first baby whilst he was at sea. Mother and baby were doing well, the message said, but it was important that he return as soon as he could. No reason or explanation was given, just that Ellie and the child were under observation in the hospital’s maternity ward and that his presence was urgently required. Naturally, Zak’s emotions were all over the place: elated that, after years of trying, he and his wife finally had the child they so wanted but worried sick as to the nature of the problem that called for his speedy return.

“I’m doing what I can, Zak,” engineer George Hanson replied over the ship’s comm system, “but if I push her any harder the old problem might come back.”

Zak didn’t need to be reminded what happened last time he made George push the Golden Maid too far. It had started with a minor misfire on one of the cylinders – just a gentle cough every so often – but, in the end, a couple of core-plugs blew and they needed to be towed to the nearest port for a major engine refit. That repair, coupled with the cost of the tow and the loss of a complete catch, had cost Zak a lot more than he could afford and set his plans back by a year or more.

“Just do what you can, George, eh?”

“Will do, Captain.”

The rest of the crew were on deck sorting and cleaning the catch and loading the landing baskets in preparation for offloading. This was always their favourite part of the trip. It was a job they’d done so often it was pretty well automatic. They didn’t need to concentrate on what they were doing, so it became a time for chatting, exchanging stories and jokes, and occasionally singing. Sea shanties? Hardly. This was a group of hard-working young men and women, not old-time sailors. Their songs were whatever was current. One or two would even leave their work and perform some rap numbers. Zak never complained about that, just as long as the work was completed before reaching port. There was something romantic about coming home under a setting sun, too. Somehow it always resulted in an amount of light flirting amongst some of the crew. Again, as long as it didn’t interfere with the ship’s readiness at port, Zak never objected to this although George, as the senior man and something of a father-figure to the crew, made sure that it never developed beyond flirting. What had to be avoided at all costs, was anything that could impact on the smooth running of the trip, so if ever George saw anything that veered towards romance or sexual tension he stamped on it swiftly and decisively. The crew knew this and respected the restriction.

“Can we get his done quickly?” Zak asked George when the Golden Maid was secured to the quayside bollards.

“You go do your thing, Zak,” George replied, “I’ll see to this.”

“Thanks, George. You have control.”

“I have control, Zak. Now GO!”

Zak left his ship in George’s capable hands, hailed a ride and asked the driver to make best speed to the hospital. The driver took him literally and, despite more than two decades at sea, Zak was feeling a little queasy when he arrived at the hospital. He made his way to the maternity suite and asked the duty nurse where his wife and child were. She pointed to the half-obscured door at the end of the public ward. “In the private ward,” she said, “good luck.”

I wonder why she said that, Zak thought as he approached the door.

He pushed down on the handle. Nothing. It was locked. He knocked on the door. “Who’s there?” a man’s voice said from behind the door.

“Isaac Williamson. Is my wife in there with my child?” The click told Zak that whoever was inside had unlocked it. He opened the door and stepped in. Ellie was propped up in the hospital bed.

“You look tired, Lover,” Zak said. Ellie started to weep. “Whatever’s up?” he asked, “You okay?”

Ellie took a few deep breaths As calmly as she could, she said, “Did you ever find anything out about your birth parents, Zak?”

“Well, no. You know I didn’t. The adoption people always said the records were lost or incomplete or something.”

“So you don’t really know who… or what you are?”

“What do you mean, what I am?”

The doctor left the room and came back, carrying their baby.

“Look at it, Zak. Just look at it,” Ellie said, weeping again. The doctor uncovered the baby’s face. Zak looked at his child and blanched.

“My God,” he exclaimed, “What is it?”


Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before 6pm on Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.

Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries, with links to your own blog or web site, on Monday.