Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The New Assignment (three word Wednesday - depart, ignite, rotten)

This is an effort to weave a few of my past three word Wednesday stories into one. Characters featured in this piece are derived from earlier stories "The Bargaining Chip," "Meeting Savannah" and "Maid In Columbia."

“You wanted to see me?”

Ed rose from his office chair and adjusted his suit coat. His dark slicked hair and thin features ironically gave him the appearance of a Hollywood mobster. He extended a handshake to his subordinate, “Thanks Brian for coming.” Ed departed his office and gestured for Brian to walk with him. Walking alongside his stern boss was intimidating. Brian was by no means short, but still had to crane his neck upwards to acknowledge Ed. He was not surprised in the least about the various trophies and merits Ed displayed in his office from his basketball days at LSU. Ed rarely requested a one-on-one meeting, and it usually occurred in the privacy of his office. Walking the hallways only implied to Brian that Ed’s great new idea would be something rotten.

“I’m placing you on the Cortez case.”

Here we go, Brian thought. He held his reply and did his best to appear indifferent. He could feel Ed’s gaze anticipating a response. Ed continued, “Our involvement has intensified with some recent leads. We need more man power for this case. We are closing in on our target.”

“Santino Cortez?”

Ed shushed Brian immediately, “Let’s save the specifics for behind closed doors.”

“Isn’t the CIA more equipped to deal with an international case?”

“Cortez has moles in the CIA. This case has been placed in our hands by the higher ups of the CIA themselves. We have reasonable evidence supporting the counts of kidnapping and human trafficking.”

Brian rubbed his chin, “What about Agent Arlen?”

“She is still on deployment.”

“She’s a big girl. She cannot handle this herself?”

“We cannot compromise her position Brian. We have her doing everything she can.”

“I take it I will be partnered with her then?” Brian questioned with fleeting enthusiasm.

“Actually, no.”

“Which agent will I be working with then?”

“Not an agent…”

Ed halted before a closed door. Brian stared at him quizzically. “What are you trying to pull Ed?”

“We have acquired a skilled resource offering us full cooperation in the case.”

“He’s not an agent?”

Ed chuckled at the notion, “Heavens no. I believe his interests are in line with our mission.” Ed pushed the door open and entered. Brian followed. The room was a simple interrogation scene; bland walls and cold tile flooring, furnished with a small table, a pair of chairs on each side, a trash barrel and a one-way mirror. One chair was occupied with a balding middle aged man of sharp physique. His elbows rest upon the table, displaying the handcuffs on his wrists. His lazy posture became astute and his tired face ignited with a desperate urgency as Ed and Brian entered. He spoke in a begging tone, “Please, I told you I will do anything! No prison, anything but prison! I just want my daughter back! We are wasting time sitting here! I will help you, but we need to move on it!”

Ed swung himself around dramatically and placed a hand on the frantic man’s shoulder. “Brian, I would like you to meet your new partner, Raul Thomas.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Player (three word Wednesday - ebb, negotiate, random)

“Eric I admit at first that I didn’t have faith in your product… but you’ve really proven me wrong.” Mr. Parker changed his volume to address the rest of the board meeting. “It’s no secret our active accounts have declined, the ebb of our income has been partly slowed due to Eric’s contribution. It is a good step, but it is not enough. If we look at the graph over the last six months…”

An Asian woman across the table from Eric rubbed her nose after catching eye contact with him. Eric responded to her tease with a playful glare. He imagined lunging across the table, throwing her glasses to the floor, and cleaning the back side of her teeth with his tongue while Mr. Parker played the background with facts and figures. Her reciprocating gaze told him she could read these thoughts, and were not repulsed by them.

“Jen?” Mr. Parker infiltrated their eye intercourse and awaited a response.

“Sorry Mr. Parker,” she tuned in seamlessly to the boss’s prompt, “Our programmers and designers are working many hours to make sure our product will be complete for mid-June.”

Mr. Parker scratched the top of his hairless dome, “I know that June was the discussed deadline, any way to push it up to the end of May?”

Eric swallowed hard. The end of May? Releasing a game expansion even by the June deadline would involve a miracle! He was well aware the industry of MMORPGs (Massive Multi-player Online Role Play Games) moved quickly, but Mr. Parker’s request was outright absurd. Eric admired Jen’s ability to remain cool throughout his request, “I will negotiate with the engineers and push for an earlier release.”

The boss smiled with confidence. “Excellent. It is imperative we are ready as soon as possible. That is all I have for now. You are dismissed.”

Eric stepped into his office and retrieved a loose sheet from the second draw of his desk. He brought the sheet to the fax machine, when he found Jen at his doorway.

“Your little invention is quite successful,” Jen spoke with a subtle detection of a Japanese accent. Eric’s claim to fame was the introduction of an account identification “authenticator” that plugged into a USB port and served as a physical password for an MMORPG account. Sure each account had its own account name and password securities, which initially was cause for the skepticism behind his invention, but this second checkpoint provided an impossible firewall that key loggers and hackers could not do anything about. Joshua from the security department informed in the meeting that account hacking had been on the rise, and Eric’s product found itself quite popular rather quickly.

“People put a lot of time into our game, and everyone likes to feel safe…”, Eric beamed.

“How did you come up with it?”

“Why don’t I tell you over dinner,” Eric winked. Jen’s sparkling teeth smiled in flattery. He thought again of cleaning the backside of those glistening teeth. “That sounds great,” she spoke warmly.

“Fantastic! I will meet you in the lobby in a couple minutes, I just have to finish up something here.” Jen bowed upon dismissal as she would have back in her home in Kyoto. Eric completed operation of the fax machine, peered up and down the hall outside his office, and shut the door. He flipped open his cell phone and selected a fast dial option.


“Hi Greg. I just sent you another twenty five.”

“No authenticator on these?”

“Nope. I made sure. None of them have purchased one.”

“They don’t all know each other like last time right? I gotta say that was funny watching ‘em all blame each other…“

“No Greg, these are all random accounts. Take them to the bank. You know what to do.”

“Fax is coming through now. Don’t worry, I’m on it. Consider ‘em hacked.”

“Good. I will check in later, do not call me, I have a dinner date.”

“You got it amigo. Peace out.”


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Everyone Deserves A Vacation (three word Wednesday - brash, lubricate, saint)

At any given hour, O’Hare traffics travelers from across the globe with amazing efficiency for an airport of its grand size. Planes arrive, dock, are serviced by pit crews that could rival NASCAR teams, and depart into the skies from which they came with a new cast of passengers. People of all sizes scurry beyond one another; each could tell tales of exotic places from which they came or are going, if one had the time to listen. Staring out the window of the waiting area in terminal C25 a plump old man in a tropical shirt observes a pair of young men filling the plane’s tank, lubricating the axles of the landing gear, and marking a clipboard with their progress. He slowly lowers his girth into a plastic seat designed for people much thinner than himself, lowers the brim of his hat and releases a depressurizing sigh. He retrieves a newspaper from a carry-on bag resting against his ankle.

“You have a long beard,” a small voice from the seat to his right catches his attention. He lowers sunglasses to the tip of his puffy nose. A girl no more than six gawks curiously at him, her long pigtails the color of hay. Beyond her, an embarrassed mother tugs the girl’s arm, hoping the child’s simple observation did not come across too brash.

“Kyleigh, leave the nice man alone…”

“It’s quite alright ma’am,” the earnest smile slightly elevates the long white beard. “I love children. Their innocent words can’t help but make you smile.”

“Are you having a baby?” Kyleigh pokes his soft stomach, causing him to chuckle loudly. The mother turns the color of sunburn.

“Ho ho ho… no Kyleigh there’s just a lot of me.”

“I’m sorry sir,” the mother lowers her head, “she’s been rambunctious since she left her favorite doll at the last layover. She’s just bored…”

Kyleigh’s face displays a terrible sadness with her mother’s reminding words. “I miss Kiki Belle. Mom says I can see Kiki Belle again when we are home.”

He frowns sympathetically, “I know it’s no fun travelling without your friends. Maybe Kiki Belle doesn’t like airplanes, and is hiding. Maybe you just didn’t look hard enough for her.” Though the man speaks in a promising tone, Kyleigh’s mother is disturbed that he is filling her daughter with false hopes. She is certain the doll had been left behind, and Kyleigh will only be more distraught after failing to find it again.

“Kiki Belle likes planes,” Kyleigh states in protest.

“Do you?”

“Yes. Do you?”

The man chuckles again, “Planes are amazing, but not the way I prefer to travel if I can help it.”

Kyleigh looks the man up and down, “You look a lot like…”

“That’s enough dear,” her mother prevents further embarrassment. Kyleigh retracts in her chair and begins to hum ‘Deck the Halls’.

He smiles and looks up at the intercom announcement. “…Mr. and Mrs. Kringle please report to the gate for check in.”

“Oh dear that’s me,” the old man makes eye contact with an elderly woman at the check-in booth that could only be his wife. He rubs his nose and raises his sunglasses as he squirms to a stand. He grabs his carry-on bag, “Orlando, here we come!”

Kyleigh’s mother wears a puzzled look. Did they just announce Kringle? That man could certainly pass for Saint Nick… but Kringle cannot possibly be his real name…

“Mommy!” Kyleigh bounces beside her, “Look Mommy look!!” Her daughter pulls a rag doll from her pink backpack, the unmistakable Kiki Belle’s button eyes stare back at the girl.

Her mother watches the elder couple depart down the umbilical to the plane, his jolly voice booming, “Woohoo! Spring break!!”

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Washed Hopes (three word Wednesday - deviate, identify, saturate)

“Those are our numbers,” Rhonda shouted in disbelief, “We’ve WON!”

Bruce sprung gleefully from the computer chair and hugged his wife. “We’re rich honey! The jackpot’s one hundred and ninety three million! I can get a Porsche like the one we saw on the highway last month!”

“Let’s buy a mansion on the coast!” Rhonda burst, hardly able to control herself.

Bruce surged with excitement. He stared again at the numbers. Bruce had three rituals every week for the past twenty years. Never miss the Sunday paper. Always visit the butcher on the way home every Friday to pick up whatever the deals were. And, always play the same lottery numbers. Only a vacation out of town or an act of God would cause Bruce to deviate from this routine.

Rhonda danced blissfully, “You DID buy a ticket this week right hun?”

“Of course I did! What kind of question is that? Marty at the convenient store said to say hi when I bought it. He’ll be excited to hear we won. Don’t the stores get money for selling the winning ticket?”

Rhonda was lost in thought, “California or Florida? I kinda like the Gulf side…”

“Why not both? We have one hundred and ninety three million dollars coming!” Bruce chuckled while Rhonda stomped and flailed in bliss once again.

“Oh honey let’s see the ticket! I want to hold the golden ticket!”

Bruce reached for his wallet. Not there. “Oh yeah, I put it in my back jeans pocket.” He searched the dirty clothes pile of the bedroom for the jeans. Not found. Bruce rubbed his chin and for the first time since the wonderful news, he was not smiling. He abruptly left the bedroom, ran down the stairs to the kitchen, slid across linoleum in his socks, down the stairs again to the laundry room in the far corner of the basement. He examined a pair of laundry baskets, nothing identified as his jeans of yesterday. He kicked and pushed articles of clothing with increasing fervor, to no avail. He sighed and ran his hand through his balding hair. A shiver of terror ran up his spine as his eyes fell upon the washing machine.


He flipped open the lid and delved into a mesh of saturated clothing sticking against the walls of the inside drum.

“No… no… no…”

Bruce pried the damp blue jeans from the reluctant jumble.


His hand returned from the back pocket with chaffed shreds of paper. The numbers that weren’t washed off entirely were blurred beyond recognition.

“NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” Bruce collapsed against the washing machine with his hands on his forehead.