Friday, December 18, 2015

Free Fiction: Holiday Delight





“Hot sauce one?”


“Hot sauce two?”


“Chicken wings?”


“Secret ingredient?”

Phillip sighed. “You know, other people make cookies for the holidays. Not hot wings.”

Oscar paused in his reading over the handwritten recipe he had tweaked through the years. The pencil marks were faded, some ingredients were written in, others scratched out, and the paper’s corners were soft, bent, or missing, but the recipe still remained viable. “Other people are silly and sentimental.”

“But that’s what Christmas is—“

Oscar held up a hand. “I do not hold with that sort of frivolity. Spicy chicken wings are what is called for at this time of the year. Not gooey cookies, not fudgy pies, not figgy pudding, or whatever it is that everyone makes.”

Phillip rolled his eyes in an exaggerated manner. He heard this every year. It was getting to be almost a set play. Oscar wound himself up, making his protests grander each year, until he sounded like he made proclamations. Phillip loved playing the part of disbeliever and devil’s advocate. “But everyone loves cookies.”

“Everyone will love these wings. Now,” Oscar said. “Secret ingredient?”

“Check,” said Phillip. “Shall I stay and be your sous chef, or do you want me to leave you to your own devices in the kitchen?”

Oscar placed a quick kiss on Phillip’s cheek. “Stay, of course,” he said, breaking his pompous attitude down into his naturally warm personality. “Keep me company.” It almost seemed as if his eyes twinkled before he reverted back to his puffed up posture. “And gaze upon the magnificence that will be created.”

“Oh, brother!” Phillip said.

“Now, where’s the ceramic mixing bowl? I don’t think they turn out as well when I use the metal one. Something to do with the acids, I’m sure.”

“Right here.” Phillip opened a cupboard and pulled out the bowl. Before handing it over he leaned out his cheek. “Pay up first.”

Oscar bestowed a soft kiss on the corner of Phillip’s mouth. “There.” He took the bowl. “Now, where is the whisk?”

Phillip grinned. “That’s gonna cost you more.”

Saturday, December 12, 2015

oh youth, you are impressive

This past week, I was just so impressed by some younger people. I had occasion to sit at a dinner table with some 20-somethings, and the conversation ranged all over the place -- from making hard decisions on finding yourself and defining goals, being brave enough to have really tough conversations with parents, to some fun and esoteric science topics, to current events in the world where they had thoughtful positions and knew the news to back up what they thought. It was entirely enjoyable! I also had occasion to see them joking and joshing each other, which would have made them seem immature and silly, except that it was plainly raucous good fun.

It was an excellent reminder to me that when I write younger characters that I can give them extraordinary depth, and not just rely on some shallow concept that they haven't experienced enough of the world to form thoughtful convictions.

Also, it made me very hopeful for the future. There's often sentiment floating about how the newer generations just aren't good enough, or are ruining things, or whathaveyou, and I'm sure that's true of certain delinquent individuals, but overall, I think the younger generation is going to overwhelm us all with their intelligence, perseverance, general industriousness, and warmheartedness.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Free Fiction: Lunch Chat

I'm not at all sure where I'll go with this, but I think these two have a lot of conversations in them. :)

Ivan finished his walk over to the cafeteria, checked his cell phone and then put it securely away in his pocket. His stomach rumbled slightly. He’d skipped breakfast and his body wasn’t happy about it. Being hungry, he grabbed a full sandwich, a side of fries, an apple, and a pudding. The apple he might save for later, if he needed something in the afternoon and didn’t have time to get out of his cubicle.

A few of his co-workers sat at a round table near the window, and one or two looked up as he put his tray of food down, but most kept their eyes glued to their cell phones. Two played brightly colored games, two checked the news, and the rest seemed to be texting or e-mailing. After the first initial nod of greeting, nobody looked up from the screens except to locate a morsel of food.

Ivan took a bite of his sandwich. He itched to get his own phone out, but he’d promised himself to have a few minutes of downtime from the screen. His ophthalmologist had warned him to give his eyes a break during the day. So, Ivan focused across the room. Nothing interesting was going on there. He looked at the people at the table. Half wore wristwatches. All but one wore jeans. All the women had earrings. Only one person had red hair. This game was very boring.

Ivan took another bite of his sandwich. He allowed his gaze to float randomly across the room. Most of the people in the cafeteria were on screens of some sort. A few had laptops open and were tapping away, some scrolled across reading devices, most stared intently at their cell phones. One guy smiled when Ivan looked at him.

Ivan started to track away, about to catalogue the color of the carpet, but realized he’d been smiled at and checked again. The guy gave him another smile, looking directly at him. He motioned to the other people seated at his table, who were all busy staring at their devices. Then he brought one hand up to his ear, pantomiming a phone, and then made a dramatic frowning expression. He shrugged. Then he pointed to his food and then to a nearby empty table.

Ivan nodded yes. He collected his tray and walked over to the table, meeting the guy there. He’d seen this guy around a few times and was pretty sure he worked one floor below, possibly in accounting.

“I’m Ivan,” he said. “I work upstairs in logistics.”

“Joel,” said the guy. “Accounting. Want to have a real conversation?”

“Sounds weird,” Ivan joked, “but I’ll give it a try. I might be rusty.”

“Just like riding a bike,” Joel said. “Once you start, it all comes back to you. Want to start off with easy topics?”

“Sure. I like eating lunch, and the traffic this morning was a bit congested.” Ivan dunked a fry in the little puddle of ketchup he’d squirted into a little paper container. “I really like ketchup.”

“I approve of ketchup,” Joel said. “And I agree, traffic was congested. I’m considering asking for an alternate work schedule so I can get here early and leave early to avoid the worst of it.”

“Alternate work schedule,” Ivan said. “Is that on the list of approved topics?”

“Only one way to find out,” Joel said. “Just keep talking.”