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As promised, I’m sharing three short-shorts as a freebie. These have never been published, and were basically a result of writing exercises I did a couple of years ago. I spent all yesterday polishing them up. I can’t believe how much my writing ability has improved over the years. After reading the original versions I’m glad I didn’t snag an agent before. I just wasn’t ready.
Writing is work. Sure, you can rip off pages upon pages of plot. Get it all down on paper. But does your writing engage the reader? Or just spit out facts, keeping your reader at arm’s length? There are so many things you don’t learn in English class or even in Creative Writing. Things you can only learn from interacting with other authors. If you are a budding writer, just be aware that it takes time and practice before your writing is ready for the world. It will happen. But patience and education is the key. Have faith! Feel free to contact me on the Dear Julie tab for writing tips or advice. Us writers have to stick together!
So now for my first short-short. This is a silly tale about some silly fellows who are in way over their head.
Benny drummed his fingertips on the armrest of the van while it backed up to the rear entrance. This was an important job. If they didn’t get the goods, it could be the end of him…literally.
He swung open his door and signaled for Don to stay in the driver’s seat. He had to check first to see if the coast was clear. Don was a loudmouth and if a security guard was within earshot, it’d be over before it started.
Benny tiptoed to the large gate and slid behind a bush. He removed his gun from his holster and attached the silencer. The idea of killing made his stomach churn, but if it meant leaving no witnesses, he’d do it. The layout of the grounds was pretty simple. Three rows of eight enclosures. Their target was only two enclosures away, which meant less exposure, and less chance he’d have to use his gun.
Snaking his head through the bars of the gate, he checked for a visual. It was eerily quiet. No signs of security. He jogged back to the van and tapped on Don’s window, mouthing, “Let’s go.”
A smile sprang to Don’s lips, and he pushed open the van door as if he were about to see Santa Claus. He waddled after Benny, his short legs moving at toy-dog speed, in attempts to keep up with Benny’s long strides.
Thwash Thwash Thwash. Benny stopped in his tracks, causing Don to step on his back right heel. He turned around with a finger pressed against his lips. “Shhh.” His gaze traveled down to Don’s legs. “What the hell are you wearing? Jogging pants?”
Don shrugged. “I like the elastic. They’re comfortable.”
“Wonderful. I’m glad you’re comfortable. Now keep ‘em quiet.” Benny heaved a sigh and continued forward.
Thwash Thwash Thwash. Benny stopped and pivoted. “I said be quiet, Don. What don’t you understand?”
“I’m tryin’, boss.”
“Then try harder.”
Thwash Thwash Thwash. Benny whirled around again with a growl. “That’s it. Take off your pants.”
“Huh? You want me to take off my pants? It’s freezing out here.”
Benny’s lips turned into a snarl. “If you don’t remove those pants, I’m gonna have to kill someone, and it won’t be a security guard. Got it?”
Don gulped and immediately wriggled out of his pants. “What am I supposed to do with them?”
“Throw them on the ground. Throw them in a trash can. I don’t care.”
Don let the pants slip from his fingers, and he continued after Benny. They reached the gate, and Benny put his hand out. “Bolt cutter.”
“I, uh, left it in the car.”
“For cryin’ out loud, Don. I seriously don’t know why the boss still keeps ya around. You’re a complete buffoon.”
“I’ll go get it and be back in a jiffy.”
“Yay, and then we can all sing Kumbaya around the campfire.” Grumbling, he turned his attention to the padlock. Amateur stuff. It was so thin, it could have come from a bubble gum machine. He glanced through the bars at the concrete enclosures. Of course, no one in their right mind would want to break into this place.
Heavy breathing behind him announced Don’s return. Benny grabbed the bolt cutters and snapped the lock like it was a wishbone. Slowly, he pushed the gate open, being careful not to make any noise.
The two slinked their way up to the enclosure with the word “Zebra” on it. “Here it is,” said Benny. “In and out, real fast like. Let’s grab the zebra, then hightail it outta here. Got it?”
Don nodded, a jovial smile breaking out on his face.
Benny shook his head. Imbecile. After snapping the lock, and entering, Benny withdrew a harness from his pocket. “Here, zebra zebra. Come to Papa. I know a little girl who’s just gonna love you.”
Benny tightened his grasp around Don’s neck through the cold, steel bars. He didn’t care if he squeezed the life out of him.
Through clenched teeth, he hissed, “Your mother embroidered your name on your pants?”
The Cricket Matchmakers
Molly pushed the carrot through the mesh of the wire cage. “Here’s a little treat for you, sweetie. Don’t tell Jane.” The rabbit sniffed the carrot then started munching with impressive speed. Molly grinned. “I bet that tastes better than that boring ol’ food Jane feeds you, huh?”
The bell over the door tinkled and Molly looked up. Trevor Dean stepped inside, glancing around the pet shop. What was he doing here? Okay, just act natural, Molly. Don’t make a fool of yourself. Of course, the fact that she’d had a crush on him since second grade didn’t make things easier.
His cool blue eyes caught her own, and she froze in her currently bent over position. She forced herself to straighten up and blink a couple of times.
“Hey, I know you.” He waved in her direction.
Molly turned around to see if anyone was behind her because he certainly couldn’t mean her. Not that anyone else was in the store.
He laughed. “Yes, I’m talking to you. You’re Molly, right?”
Wow. He even knew her name. “Uh, yeah?”
“I’ve seen you sing at school. You’re very good.”
Molly’s face warmed as she thought of her recent solos with the concert choir. A jock who came to school concerts? That was a new one.
Trevor must have seen the surprise on her face because he added, “My little sister plays flute in the band. My parents kind of make me go. You know, to support her and all.”
“Oh, okay.” She teetered on her heels. “So, uh, can I help you find something?”
He scanned the shelves to her right. “Yeah, I need some crickets for my frog. He’s running low.”
Molly couldn’t help but shiver. She loved animals and all, but the idea of an animal eating another live animal gave her the heebie jeebies. “Sure, they’re right over here.” She led him toward the back corner. This was the hardest part of her job; catching the little buggers. And now she had Trevor as an audience. Great. Just great.
She retrieved a container and opened the lid of the plexiglass case. Cringing, she reached inside and tried to grasp hold of one of the crickets. Just when she thought she had one cornered, it jumped over her hand. She followed the pesky cricket’s path with her fingers for a minute with no luck.
“Let me try.” Trevor placed a hand on her shoulder.
The warmth of his touch penetrated her lightweight shirt and seared down her arm. She hated to break away from his grip, but stepped aside to give him access. In the process, her foot snagged on her shoelace. She wobbled, attempting to regain her balance, then bumped against the cricket case, sending it crashing to the floor.
“Oh no!” Molly clasped a hand over her mouth, unbelieving of what she’d just done. And in front of Trevor Dean, no less. At least a hundred crickets bounced off in all directions. She scrambled to put the top back on the case before any more could hop out.
Goodbye Trevor. No one would stick around for the major clean-up job she had ahead of her. If the crickets were hard to catch when they were contained, this would be near impossible.
But Trevor didn’t leave. Instead, he grabbed a container and lid and dropped to his hands and knees.
“You’re helping me?”
“Of course. What kind of guy do you think I am?”
An awesome one. Molly joined Trevor on the tile floor and the two crawled after the tiny fugitives. Every time she got close, the crickets would hop away. She just wasn’t fast enough.
“I got a couple,” Trevor called out. Well, that was a couple more than she had.
She glimpsed a gang of crickets heading toward the front door. Maybe she should just let them outside and pay Jane for them? It would be a whole heck of a lot easier than trying to catch them.
Molly crawled after the crickets, her eyes focused on their hopping brown bodies. Slam! She reeled back on her heels and rubbed her forehead. Through squinted eyes, she saw Trevor sitting across from her, mirroring her actions. Heat rushed to her cheeks.
“Oh my God. I’m so sorry,” she said. “Are you okay?”
He waved her away. “I’m fine. Are you?”
“Yes.” She looked around and let out a puff of air. “Not sure how we’re going to catch all these guys though.”
Trevor suddenly burst out laughing. “Well, you’ve already caught one and don’t even know it.”
Molly wrinkled her eyebrows. She hadn’t caught one.
“You have a cricket in your hair.”
A chill ran through her body. She batted at her hair, and screamed, “Oh, yuck. Get it out!”
Trevor reached over and flicked the invader from her curls, then let his hand linger on her cheek. “You sure know how to liven things up, don’t you?”
She looked into his eyes and tried to slow her racing heartbeat. The sensation of his skin on hers made her feel like she was floating. Say something, idiot. Coming up blank, she let out a pathetic giggle.
“Would you like to go out some time?”
Would she? Was he serious? “Yeah, I’d like that.”
He glanced down at her still untied sneaker, then winked at her. “You may want to wear slip-ons though.”
(Story below is for older audiences)
The Tell-Tale Shirt
Jordan peered out from under the crumpled white sheet, admiring Marissa’s bare shoulders. He couldn’t believe he’d spent the night with Marissa Long, the varsity football coach’s daughter. She was off-limits to anyone on the team. A roll in the hay with her could get him kicked off the team, but hell, with her body, it had been so worth it.
The alarm clock read six twenty-two. Maybe he could get in one more round before he had to head home. He’d told his parents he was sleeping over Joe’s house. They wouldn’t be expecting him for hours.
Marissa sighed and rolled over to face him, the sun’s rays enhancing the sparkle of her green eyes. Grinning, she said, “Morning, Lover.”
The word “lover” made Jordan’s heart rate chug, and he beamed. Yes, he was her lover now, wasn’t he? He imagined himself as Casanova, sneaking into girls’ rooms and giving them pleasure while their parents slept just on the other side of the bedroom wall.
“Morning,” he replied. “When are your parents going to be home again?”
Marissa craned her neck to see the clock. “We have about four hours. Their plane comes in at ten.” She reached down and felt his growing lump. “Why? Are you thinking naughty thoughts?”
Chills went up his spine as she grazed her fingernails over him. For a moment, he lost his train of thought. “Uh…uh…”
“Uh, I think you’re at a loss for words, aren’t you?” She giggled. “Don’t worry. What we’re doing doesn’t involve a single one.”
Jordan gulped as she suddenly ducked underneath the sheet. He felt her satin hair blazing a trail down his chest. Thoughts of what she could do with her mouth excited him beyond belief. He squeezed his eyes shut in anticipation.
Slam. Marissa popped her head back out of the sheet, her eyes wide. “What was that? It can’t be…” She sprang out of bed and looked out of her window toward the garage. “Oh. My. God. My parents are home!”
Jordan’s breath caught in his throat. He was a big guy at sixteen, but didn’t relish taking on a man with the nickname “Wall.” Not to mention losing his spot on the team. Maybe this was a stupid idea after all.
Scrambling out of bed, he shoved his legs into his jeans, while hopping on one foot. He stuffed his socks in his pockets and threw on his sneakers, then scanned the room for his jersey. Where was it?
“Hurry, hurry!” squealed Marissa. “They’re almost inside!”
“I know, but I can’t find my jersey.”
The two scurried around the room, looking for the bright purple and yellow shirt. “It’s not here! Just go without it. Use the kitchen door in the back. Hurry!”
Jordan bound down the stairs two at a time, perspiration forming on his forehead. Just as he entered the kitchen, he heard the front door open. Quietly, he tiptoed across the linoleum floor, unlatched the back door, and slipped through. Safe.
He rushed across the grass to the house next door, glancing over his shoulder every few yards. As he approached the back door, he stopped to calm his breathing and slow his pounding heart. He took a deep breath and opened the door. His mom sat at the kitchen table, a mug of coffee in her hand.
She looked up, surprise showing on her face. “You’re back early. And shirtless?”
He glanced down at his bare chest. “Oh, yeah, I lost it in a bet.”
“Jordan! Coach is going to kill you.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.” He gave his mom a peck on the cheek and hurried out of the room. He had to see what was happening next door. Grabbing his binoculars, he opened his window shade.
Every muscle in Jordan’s body froze. Across the way, Coach Long stared back at him with angry eyes, his yellow and purple, number twenty-two jersey squeezed tightly in his fist. Mom was right. Coach was definitely going to kill him.