OLWG #183- When Time Stopped

This week’s prompts  are at the bottom. The words below are just practice. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

I’ll never forget where I was when it happened; when the clocks stopped, and everyone froze in place. I was in Saline County, driving west from Wilber, where I had just knocked over the Farmers & Merchants Bank on Main Street. I was heading home.

For the job, I had parked my car about a block south of the bank, at the Subway.

Before I entered the F&M I unzipped my black canvas gym bag and placed it behind a trash can in front of the bank then I pulled my ski mask down over my face. Only my eyes showed, and of course, my pistol. Everyone in that bank saw the piece, I made sure of it. I was carrying a newly purchased blued Cimarron .45 LC single action revolver with a 5.5” barrel and walnut grips, that I had bought on-line. It had room for six rounds, but I had only loaded five. I didn’t have to do much more than flash the Cimarron to get what I wanted. I made my way to the cutest teller and handed her a white canvas sack. She put in all the money from her drawer and, I motioned her to pass it on to the next teller. It took less than three minutes for six tellers to empty their cash drawers into my bag. I got it back full, backed to the front doors and ducked outside. Grabbing my gym bag, I headed west on Fourth Street and cut across the big yard surrounding a modest-sized house on the corner of Fourth and Wilson. Behind an outbuilding nestled in some trees, I put the canvas sack, with the cash, my .45, and my Army Field Jacket into my gym bag. Then I hopped the back fence to run diagonally across the yard of what might have been a farm equipment repair business. Back on S. Main, I slowed, took five steps along the sidewalk and was at the Subway lot where I’d parked.

Hitting the button on my key fob popped the boot of the car, and I tossed the gym bag in, shut the lid and meandered over to the shop. I ordered a foot long ‘Spicy Italian’ and was informed by the high school kid working the counter that there was a special, “buy one foot long and get a second one free.” The kid had an acne-scarred face, freckles, and red hair with a cowlick that stuck straight up in the back.

“OK, I’ll take two,” I told him. He and I discussed the weather and what kinds of condiments I wanted on my sandwiches. I took spinach, red onions, black olives, tomato and an oil and vinegar dressing. At the register, I got a large iced tea and a bag of Lays classic chips to go along with my sandwiches. I ate the first sandwich sitting in my car watching the police race by to the scene of the bank robbery about half a block up. Finishing my sandwich, I headed west on 41 and right before turning onto Hwy 15 it happened. Traffic was light, and I was waiting in the turn lane for an oncoming pickup when he seemed to lose control and run off the road. I decided not to draw attention to myself, and as there was no other traffic, I made the turn and continued south. I was heading to my Momma’s house in Western.

Western, is not a large town, maybe 250 residents, but it was clear that something weird had happened. There were a couple of cars crashed their drivers slumped over the wheels. Three or four people were lying on the sidewalks, and there was no activity on the streets at all. At Momma’s, the radio was on in the kitchen. It was playing some country song that I couldn’t recognize, playing over and over on a loop. Momma was sitting at the kitchen table. She had The Observer spread out on the table, open to the obits, and a ceramic mug of coffee cooled next to her hand. Momma looked peaceful, she wasn’t breathing and I couldn’t detect a pulse but she had a slight smile on her face.

I turned on the TV and it seemed that the networks were all broadcasting. Back outside I knocked at the Nogales’, next door, no answer. Same thing at the Whitakers, across the street. I glanced around, no traffic. I tried the Whitakers front door. Gina and her mom were watching TV in the den, surrounded by light wood panelling and bookshelves. I found Mr Whitaker in the back yard laying in the grass behind his lawnmower, which had shut down when he let go of the handle. Back inside I sat on the coffee table and studied Gina and her mother. Just like my own mother, neither of them appeared to be breathing and no pulse was detectable. Gina was only a couple of years younger than me. She still lived at home and made the 40-mile drive to Southeast Community College for classes. She had been studying to be a Radiography Technologist.

I thought about what she had been like as a kid, always pestering my friends and me, following us around. I remembered how excited she had been when she’d turned sixteen and gotten her driver’s license. How she grew aloof and unapproachable when she graduated from high school.  I thought about unbuttoning her blouse and taking a peek but quickly discarded that idea.

I lifted myself from Mrs Whitaker’s stone-topped coffee table and made my way back to Momma’s house. I figured I oughta stay there until I figured out what had happened, what was going on.

This week’s prompts are:

  1. she just gets it
  2. she lies
  3. all done with mirrors

OLWG #182- Power Bird

This week’s prompts (only two) are at the bottom. The words below are just practice. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

Art by Miguel Avalos
Pen and Ink drawing by Miguel Avalos

Discarded citrus bleeds in the snow

cast aside by sated travellers

crow keeps an eye from power lines

he’s never had too much to eat


This week’s prompts are:

  1. couldn’t hardly breathe
  2. Oh Boy
  3. I got tired

OLWG# 181- The Commute

This week’s prompts are at the bottom. The words below were written for practice.
Practice makes perfect.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

A long time ago I would hitch to my job downtown. I stood at the base of an on ramp on I-10,

I’ve been known to journey by motorcycle a short way down the coast to SLO.

I toiled; driving through thick Redwood forests from my house on the coast to the Silicon Valley.

I remember slogging the streets of Kitsap County in rain and other types of inclement weather.

I paid my dues motoring next to the River Thames from my home in Marlow to my office at the marina.

I used to ride a bicycle from Salt Lake, in Honolulu, to the Sub Base.

I navigated my way, with all the other grinders, through the mazes of gridlocked Southern California freeways to make a living, but only for a time.

I have traveled from Surf City through the artichoke fields to the home of J. Steinbeck.

For a time, I would voyage down the slopes of Mt. Faber to my job in Telok Blangah every day.

These days I go to the Malpais, but only a few days a week.

Why? Because that’s what I do.

This week’s prompts:

  1. bluegrass
  2. the center of my world
  3. seeking Amrapali

OLWG# 180- Road Trip With Mom

This week’s prompts are at the bottom. The words below were written for practice.
Practice makes perfect.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

Crystal was in the laundry room. She was unloading the dryer and separating clothes after doing a mixed load with her stuff and some of her boy’s. She heard the front door open and close. She recognized her mother’s familiar gait coming into the house.

“Mom? Is that you?” she yelled over her shoulder and studied a pair of yoga pants that she had pulled from the ancient appliance before adding, “are you getting hungry? I don’t think there’s anything to eat in the house. I think we need to go out and get tacos or something.”

I don’t remember these yoga pants, she thought, I wonder if they’re Moms.

About that time, Nancy stuck her head in the laundry room door as she walked past, “Hey,” she said, “I’m back. Tacos sound good to me. Think we should go to ‘El Jardin’ and get takeaway? I like their chips and salsa.”

Crystal pumped her fist in agreement. As an afterthought, she said, “Mom are these your yoga pants?”

“Not mine, I don’t recognize them,” Nancy said, “must be yours.”

Wonder when I got these? Crystal mused I must like them though, and I just laundered them, which means I probably wore them recently. I oughta pack these for the trip. She finished sorting the laundry and carried Bradly’s clothes back and put them on his bed. As she began putting away her clothes, she thought about what she needed to pack for the drive back to her mom’s house in Colorado. She already knew she was taking the yoga pants. She began opening dresser drawers.

The first drawer she opened contained nightgowns and the like. Oh, look at these pyjamas, green ones with a llama print. I can’t believe that these cute jammies are right on top; she pulled them out and sat them with her yoga pants. As she continued to put away laundry, she kept finding more clothes that she had forgotten or not seen for a while that would be perfect on her trip. She piled them all on top of her yoga pants and pyjamas; she found blouses, tees, a cute pair of skinny jeans, and a sweater for the evenings. She found shorts and a couple of house dresses. By the time she had the laundry stowed, she only needed to collect underwear. She was packed.

“Mom, do you need to do any wash?” Crystal hollered again, “Are you packed yet?”

“No, but I don’t have a lot to pack. I’ve only been here for three days, and I’ve been living out of my suitcase.”

“Why don’t you finish up here then, Mom? I’ll go pick up the food.”

This week’s prompts:

  1. playing a poor hand well
  2. not a sound for miles around
  3. like a poem without words

OLWG# 178- Fix Up

This week’s prompts are at the bottom. The words below were written for practice.
Practice makes perfect. I got the numbers right this time, I’m pretty sure.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

A Weekday night, about 7:30

The phone rings and caller ID informs me that it is my mother. I let it go cause I’m busy playing Sudoku on the internet. I finally win the game, and the app tells me that 99.6% of all the people who have played this particular puzzle are faster than me. Disgusted with myself, I listen to the message from Mom.

“Winston, it’s your mother. Call me back as soon as you can.”

I hit the button to do as she requested and after a couple of rings, she answers.

“Winston? Is that you?”

“Course it’s me, Mom.”

“Winston, you need to come to dinner on Friday.”

“What’s up, Mom?”

“Nothing’s up. Your father and I are having some friends from church over on Friday, and we think you should come. That’s all.”

“What are you making for dinner?”

“Your father wants to have fried chicken. I think he should barbeque steaks.”

“Steaks? Mom? That’s pretty extravagant. Who are these people?”

“They’re just people from church. The preacher and his wife will be here too. I think you need to come, and you should wear something nice and shave before you come over.”

“Jeeze, Mom. What are you trying to do? You’re up to something. Can I talk to Dad?”

“Your father’s watching TV. It’s bowling. I’m not going to interrupt him. I don’t think you should either. I’ll see you Friday at 5:30.”

She hung up the phone. I knew I had to be there. That Friday, after work, I stopped at ‘The Cork’ and sprung for a $7.00 bottle of Rosso. It’s dry and pairs with white meats, but it’s red so it should go with beef. My mother wouldn’t know the difference, and the price was right.

Turns out that what mom was up to was that she wanted to introduce me to the daughter of a new couple from the church.

“Winston, this is Marguerite. Marguerite St. James. You met her parents when you came in. They just moved here from Southlake. Marguerite is going to start at the JC next semester. Why don’t you pour her a glass of that wine you brought?”

“Uhm, sure, Mom. Nice to meet you, Marguerite. Let me find a corkscrew to open this. It might be a little dry. That OK?”

She nodded and waited on the patio as Mom and I made our way back inside.

“Damnit, Mom, this is another setup.”

“I’m only thinking of you, son, you need to meet a nice girl. I worry about you being all alone.”

“Jeeze, Mom.” I shook my head, grabbed a corkscrew to open the wine, snagged a couple of plastic glasses that my parents kept for occasions like this, and I headed back out to the pool to entertain Marguerite.

Marguerite turned out to be a delightful girl, and I was getting ready to whisk her away to a place where we could have a good dinner and some much better wine when I saw Herchel coming in the front door. He looked around the front room and went over to pay his respects to my dad. He and Dad shook hands, said a few words, and laughed. Not just polite laughs either, these were manly belly laughs. My dad was fond of Herchel. Dad pointed Herchel in my direction and clapped him on the back. Herchel is my guardian angel. I don’t think Dad understands that relationship. He thinks we’re just old friends.

Anyway, Dad went back to his discussion with the preacher’s kids, Herchel started making his way towards Marguerite and me.

“Shit,” I say to Marguerite, “here comes Herchel.”

“Who’s that?”

“He’s an old friend, and my guardian angel,” I manage to warn her before he arrives.

“Winston,” he greets me, “who’s your friend here? Wait… you must be Marguerite” he lifts his eyebrows and smiles at her. He pulls me aside by the elbow, “Don’t do it, dude. That chick is bad news.”

“You don’t even know her, Herchel,” I say, “I think she might be kinda OK.” I glance at her. Her face is all screwed up; with a WTF expression.

“I’m telling you, man, she’s a liar, and she’s mean.”

“You don’t know that, Herchel.”

“Yes I do, and she’s also manipulative, selfish, inconsiderate, and whiny, complaining about everything. Always upset about her job, her friends. You’ll never treat her good enough. She’s not that interested in sex either, and not very good at it when it happens. Everything is a drag for her, and she’ll tell you about it, she will, and she’ll do so over and over again.”

I turn to Marguerite, “Can you excuse us for a moment?” I ask. She nods her head.

I take Herchel by the elbow and walk him over where my mom and dad are. “Thanks for the invite, Mom and Dad,” I say, “I can’t stay though, there’s an emergency at work. Herchel and I have to leave.”

This week’s prompts:

  1. call him out
  2. a matter of magic
  3. the carousel only makes you dizzy

OLWG #176- Making Things Up

This week’s prompts are at the bottom. The words below were written for practice.
Practice makes perfect.
Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

I waited by the gym and hoped to spot the new girl, Amanda Taylor. She was new in school she was beautiful. I wanted to get to know her. I saw her leaving the building from the English Wing, but she was walking with Donna Rouse.

Shit, this won’t work. Why is Donna there? She needs to leave. I can’t talk to Amanda if Donna Rouse is there.

I stood still, tried to blend in as I watched the girls. They walked together towards the front door, and when they got there Donna said something to Amanda, and Amanda said something to Donna; then Donna peeled off and went back inside the building, Amanda Taylor was walking towards me. She was alone and wearing a regulation skirt (2 inches above her knees) and a tight ecru sweater.

Don’t look at her tits. You’ll get a boner then you won’t be able to talk to her. Look at her legs; yeah look at her legs that’ll be better. NO, don’t look at her legs. That’s not gonna be any better. Look at her face. That’s not much better but, I gotta look somewhere. Think about something else think about baseball. Think about that pitcher for the Dodgers. What’s his name? Koufax, that’s it, Koufax. Here she comes. Fall in step slide right in next to her.

“Hi,” I said, “You’re new here, huh?”

“Yeah,” she replied. She brushed her hair behind her ear and gave me a sideways glance, a lopsided grin. Oh man, this could get embarrassing.

“Are you walking this way?” I asked, “I walk this way. I walk this way every day. Mind if I walk with you? For a little while, at least, I won’t bug you. I mean, I’m not a serial killer, or a weirdo, or anything. I have a sister who might qualify as a weirdo, but not me. I saw you in Chemistry today. It looks like we have that class together. My name’s TN. I heard that you are Amanda.”

She pursed her lips and blew out a long breath.

Sandy Koufax, Sandy Koufax, Sandy Koufax; I shifted my books, thinking it might be better if I carried them low and in front of me.

“Yeah,” she said, “I’m Amanda. Amanda Taylor. I guess I’m the new girl. My dad got transferred here from Washington.”

“Washington state or Washington DC? Your dad must be in the Army, huh? Is he like a General or a Admiral or something? How’d you like Washington? I’ll bet it was pretty cool. I think that a lot of important people live in Seattle. Do you know how to sail? I bet you do, huh?”

She stopped, and I kept walking as she stared into the back of my head. I took about four or five steps before I realized I had lost her and I looked over my shoulder, A couple more steps and I managed to stop too.

“What’s up?” I asked her.

“Man, TN,” she blinked her eyes a couple of times, “you gotta slow down. You are one of the most spatid people I’ve ever met?”

“What’s that mean?” I asked her, “What’s spatid? Did you just make that up? I don’t know that word.”

“It means you are very talkative.” She smiled.

“Oh, sorry, I smoked a doobie with Long Gone and Jim right before I ran into you. I’m pretty buzzed.”

Her smile got even bigger and brighter. I was glad my books were where they were. She looked down at the pavement. “Got any more?” she asked.

I’ve been thinking about what to write all week. I think it was Monday when I decided I wanted to make up a word. This evening, after dinner I settled on the word spatid. Then I had to come up with a definition, and maybe some etymology. I made a lot of stuff up at the last minute for this post.

Definition of spatid adjective

1: full of excessive talk: WORDY
2: given to fluent or excessive talk: GARRULOUS

Other Words from spatid
spatidiaciously \ (spə-​ˈti-​di-​ā′shəs-ly) adv
spatidiousness \ (spə-​ˈti-​də-​ŭs-ness) n
spatidiacity (spə-​ˈti-​di-​ās ′ĭ-tē) n
Synonyms & Antonyms for spatid
blabby, chatty, conversational, gabby, garrulous, motormouthed, mouthy, talkative, talky
closemouthed, laconic, reserved, reticent, taciturn, tight-lipped, uncommunicative
Latin spatax (genitive spatacis) “talkative,” from spat “to speak Compare French spatouace, Spanish spataz.

This week’s prompts:

  1. the observable universe
  2. good ideas will survive
  3. love during the pandemic

OLWG #176- In Bernalillo (A Haibun)

This week’s prompts are at the bottom. The words below were written for practice. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

When I finally got my courage together I asked Constance out. She agreed; had some conditions though. I wasn’t allowed to pick her up. We had to meet there. Not a dinner date. Not a show. No drinking. It had to be casual so, no dressing up; nothing formal. She wouldn’t agree to a double date. Only the two of us. On a weekend, during the day – Saturday or Sunday, after church. We agreed to meet for lunch, at 12:30, on Camino Del Pueblo. I was there at noon, Constance at more like 12:45. Inside, I ordered the blue corn relleno. She just had desert.

I dined with Constance
She had to have a cream puff
at the Range Café

This week’s prompts:

  1. what I write
  2. rising tides lift all boats
  3. I’ll be at the Black Horse Tavern

OLWG #175- The Girl From Oscuro

This week’s prompts are at the bottom. The words below were written for practice. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

Elle Cabra settled in New Mexico sometime in the mid-‘90s. She came here from southern Louisiana but told me that she was originally from Puerto Rico. According to local stories she may have also been a Rougarou. Legends tell us that the Rougarou primarily prowl the forests and swamps of Acadiana. They have the body of a man and the head of a wolf or a dog; sometimes a cat. They ambulate on all fours.

One story tells us that if you don’t observe the strict rules of Lent for seven years in a row; you’ll turn into a Rougarou. Other stories tell us that the inflexion is the result of a curse cast by a witch. Some say that you can change by doing nothing more than looking into the eyes of an existing Rougarou. Once turned, the monster develops a taste for raw meat and will suck all the blood from the bodies of its prey.

When she first arrived in New Mexico, Elle travelled the state for a couple of years before finally settling outside the town of Oscuro, in Lincoln County. She kept to herself for the most part and that was about the time that we started hearing all the tales of ‘cattle mutilation’ and the like.

Elle was a beautiful girl with shoulder-length dark hair that curled up at the ends. When the sun shone from behind it almost seemed as though she wore a halo. She was sleight of stature and had a smile that would outshine the eastern sky on a crisp October morning. She had high, sculpted cheekbones, fair skin, and full red lips. Yet she chose to live by herself in what she described as a small adobe house in the high desert of eastern New Mexico. No one could understand why.

I met Elle in 2010 when I came across her walking north on Highway 54 just above the town of Tularosa. I stopped and asked her if she needed a ride. She accepted and thanked me for what she called, my “kindness and generosity.” I have seldom been accused of being kind and generous. It made me a little nervous. I tried to change the subject and I know that most people like to talk about themselves.

I asked her what her name was.

“Elle,” she said, “Elle Cabra.”

I asked her where she was going.


I asked her where she was from.

“Puerto Rico by way of Louisiana.”

I asked her how long she had been in New Mexico and what had brought her here.

“A couple of years, only,” she said in lightly accented English. “I came here because of the Rougarou.”

“What’s a Rougarou?” I asked her.

“Nothing,” she answered, “just an old French ghost story.” She smiled when she said that, but you could tell that it was something she didn’t want to talk about.

We talked about the weather, and the desert, and trucks, and tourists from Texas for the rest of the trip. She asked me to drop her at the cut off that would take her west to Oscuro. I told her that I’d be happy to take her the rest of the way but she wouldn’t hear of it.

“I’ve already imposed enough.” She said as she got out of the truck.

I tried to argue with her but finally watched her waving goodbye in my rear-view mirror as I continued north.

Over the years I wondered about the mysterious Elle Cabra. I even went back to Oscuro looking for her but I could never find anyone who would even admit having heard of her until last week; when I went to a bar in White Oak. There was nobody there ‘cept me and Martha, the bartender, and an old cowboy nursing boilermakers at the end of the bar. Being the gregarious sort I began to strike up a conversation with him. I found out that he was from Oscuro.

“I met a girl from Oscuro once,” I told him.

“Aren’t too many girls there,” he smiled and I could see a single tobacco-stained tooth in the front of his mouth, “what was ‘er name?”

“She told me her name was Elle Cabra,” I answered.

He sat his drink down and stared at me, “There’s nobody there by that name,” he said then he stood while simultaneously signalling Martha for his check. Before she could move down to his end of the bar, he threw a wad of bills next to his mug, turned and left. I got up and followed him out.

“What’s up, mister?” I asked, “Why won’t anyone talk to me about this girl?”

He paused next to the door to his pickup, “You didn’t hear this from me,” he said, “there was a girl in Oscuro named Elle, but her last name wasn’t Cabra. It was Chupacabra.” He climbed in his truck and started the engine and rolled down the window. “Was she a small girl, medium-length dark hair that curled up at the ends?”

I nodded my head.

“You’re lucky to be alive, Mister.” He said, and then accelerated quickly out of the lot throwing gravel from his back tires.

I went home and looked it up.

From Wikipedia…

The chupacabra or chupacabras (Spanish pronunciation: [tʃupaˈkaβɾas], ‘goat-sucker’; from Spanish: chupar, ‘to suck’, and cabras, ‘goats’) is a legendary creature in the folklore of parts of the Americas, with its first purported sightings reported in Puerto Rico in 1995. The name comes from the animal’s reported vampirism—the chupacabra is said to attack and drink the blood of livestock, including goats.

Physical descriptions of the creature vary. It is purportedly a heavy creature the size of a small bear, with a row of spines reaching from the neck to the base of the tail.

This week’s prompts:

    1. the dog in you
    2. rocking chair
    3. night-time is the best time to work

OLWG #174 Tanka, Lune, and Variant of Same

This week’s prompts are at the bottom. The words below are written just for practice. Practice makes perfect

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

Cravings- A Tanka

I want a ripe peach

they have skins of languid pink-

and taste sweet as a

Alabama cornbread cake

with brown sugar and pecans

Sentenced- A Lune

twenty-five to life

may be OK

Lest the devil calls

Sentenced- a Lune Variant

twenty-five to life

lest Satan calls me home

wait for me

This weeks prompts are:

  1. the world breathing
  2. it ain’t gonna be pretty
  3. lust or love

OLWG #173- Too Much

This week’s prompts are at the bottom. The words below are written just for practice. Practice makes perfect.

Here’s how to play along, if you are unsure.

No one ever called Cally a petite girl.

She was big; not big boned – big,

Broad muscled shoulders,

Her arms were strong. Her legs were stronger.

She wore a thick plait of blonde hair down her back that touched just below her waist.


When her folks passed, Cally took over the ranch


She worked too hard.

She smoked too many cigarettes.

She drank too much.

She cared about seemingly everything.

She loved too much.


Cally and I had two children together before she joined her parents.


The state got the ranch

I got Les and Carol.

And I got that picture of Cally and me

It was taken at twilight one evening; we were at the overlook, smiling and standing by the truck.

One of those tree shaped air fresheners was hanging from the rear view.


For the life of me I can’t remember who snapped the shot.

This week’s prompts are:

  1. throw it in the gutter
  2. learned in school
  3. long term