Sunday, August 4, 2019

Janet Flash: Together

by Michael Seese

The Duchess Of Yowl, the feline queen who dismissively refers to Janet Reid as "Thumbs" discovered there was a new movie about cats. 

Big cats. In Africa. I imagine you get it. So in honor, Janet created the Purrfect For Your Weekend flash fiction contest

Our mission...

To use: 


And to compete for the Steve Forti Deft Use of Prompt Words prize, you had to use the PHRASE: "demented serenity."

I wanted to do something different with "lion," so I searched up words ending in "li" that I could put before "on." I found a lot of cool words, which gave me some ideas. But then I hit upon "annuli," and "Together" fell into place.

I knew, more or less, what I'd find when I got there.

The heat up "way too high," Dad’s <i>de rigueur</i> kvetch.

Lester Holt, talking to an empty couch.

The dining room table, once host to countless Sunday dinners, now a bed-sheeted ghost.

An unwashed crockpot sullying the sink, evidence of Dad's oft-stated hatred of scrubbing.

Finally, the two of them in his car, hands clasped, dashboard lights glinting off the scratched—but never tarnished—annuli on their fingers. Dad remained bravely beside his "pride and joy," even through her demented serenity.

I turned off the ignition, and dialed 911.

So sad. I actually know someone who did that.

On a happier note, my family and I ran the OROC 5K today. I placed 11th in my age group (old guys) and 317th overall.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Janet Flash: Under The Big Top

by Michael Seese

Feeling down in the dumps last Monday, Janet Reid eased back into the workweek with a LippLibs contest. Finish the sentence, "I knew I would find my joie de vivre, but had no money on ... "

I read about it early in the morning, but didn't have an idea "right there." Then work happened, and I forgot. 

"Flash" forward to Friday, and Janet posted a contest, with a wrinkle. Take one of the entries from Tuesday, and use that as the opening or closing line of your 100-word story. Three different LippLibs caught my eye, but ultimately it was Just Jan's sentence that led me to "Under The Big Top."

I knew I would find my joie de vivre, but had no money on under the big top dressed as a clown.

Winter feasts on the homeless. Just as January relented, releasing its icy grip, February blew through and bitch-slapped me. Seeing countless friends frozen drove a renewed desperation to escape the streets.

The paper stapled to a pole reeked of suspect salvation.

"Fun! Laughs! Oversized shoes! A red honking nose!"

I passed the audition with flying (trapeze) colors, and settled into the unexpected.

Thus began my career as the man-toy of a plus-size contortionist with an Emmett Kelly fetish.


Poor Ringling Bros.

As an aside, if you have never seen "The Greatest Showman," you should. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

It's Alive!

by Michael Seese

From Twitter last week:

I don't know much about Bakka-Phoenix books, other than they are "Canada's oldest Speculative Fiction bookstore, founded in 1972."

But they are now my second favorite book store, behind the Fireside

So The Extraordinary eTab Of Julian Newcomber is now officially for sale in Canada. The U.S. release date is early June.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Janet Flash: Cleanup On Aisle 3

by Michael Seese

Trying to accentuate the positive, I suppose...

Friday, Janet Reid lamented a pending public works project.

My normal subway is the L.
The L goes under the East River.
The tunnels were damaged during Hurricane Sandy.

Now they're going to fix them.
And that leaves 300,000 people in a fix.
Cause how the HELL are we going to get to work?

Looking for a silver lining, she turned it to a positive, with one of her flash fiction contest. Write 100 words using:


I wanted to find a good way to break up sandy into something fun. That led me to "Cleanup On Aisle 3."

As a child, Tony the Tiger scared the hell out of me. Ferocious beasts should snarl, not wax poetic about glorified Corn Flakes. And don't get me started on Cap'n Crunch, whose eyebrows weren't affixed to his head, but rather, hovered mysteriously in front of his hat. But I dealt with it.

Until that bird ogled me with its googly toucan eyes.

I snapped.

Grabbing my official Red Ryder air rifle, I took aim and Pollocked the kitchen walls with its flavor-bursting reds, oranges, and yellows.

Thus began my runaway train ride into the dark tunnel known as cereal killing.

Yes, it's the word bad joke, ever. But I thought it might brighten her day.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Janet Flash: "Pearls"

by Michael Seese

So I was busy, or lazy, or something and didn't get a chance to post this a few weeks back...

Earlier this month, Janet Reid blog regular Julie Wearhers posted:

I dreamed about Janet last night. It involved sending her a strange, but awesome gift. And now she gives us a strange, but awesome, gift.


"You did what?" Virginia gasped. If she'd had pearls, she would have been clutching them."

 Janet loved the "pearl" sentence so much, she built a contest around it. Contrary to the use-these-five-words format, she asked us to write story around the gist of the line. I came up with "Pearls."

“Always marry for love. But it's just as easy to love a rich fella.”

Young me clutched Mama's pearls of wisdom like a drowning rat clinging to a chunk of driftwood.

Mama sure played that matrimonial maxim into a winning hand, trolling the casinos, all tits and eyelashes. Poor Henry. Never knew what hit him.

I do.

Ball-peen hammer.

At least she considered me worthy of living in “her” house.

Another Mama maxim comes to mind.

“If you can't beat ’em, join ’em.”

I'm going to miss Mama.

But this string of pearls sure goes with her favorite blue dress.

It didn't win. But it did get a shout out:

It says absolutely nothing good about me that I laughed out loud with this from Michael Seese
Poor Henry. Never knew what hit him.
I do.
Ball-peen hammer.

And she posted a new contest yesterday, so expect to see something here tomorrow.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Janet Flash: Tilted **

by Michael Seese

Another week, another contest.

After two unsuccessful attempts to foil the brilliant Steve Forti, Janet is crying uncle, throwing in the towel, going belly up, and giving us a "normal" contest, the "slightly uneven, off kilter, write your way back to normal flash fiction contest."

She challenged us to use:


in a 100-word story. Wishing to do something fun with "kilter," I came up with Tilted**

“Hey, MacLeod! Your balls are showing. You ought to get a better slip.”


Kilters always hate it when you insult their tartans. 

Sure, my trolling bordered on juvenile. But I needed him off his game. Rumor had it a buyer was coming. 

Then she walked in. I nearly flipped. A definite A-lister.

“Nice,” she cooed, touching me, pressing all the right buttons, ringing my bells. “Very clean. I'll...”

She saw him and lit up. Like we did, once.

“Funhouse may be a classic. But Highlander was my favorite. I spent hours playing it. Sold.”

Story of my life.



** the reason I added asterisks is, much like last week, all too late I realized I goofed. Last week was a missing dash, which she forgave me (and others) for. This week, I didn't quite nail the ending. The now all-too-obvious last line should have been "Tilted again," a play on "Jilted Again."


We'll see what happens tomorrow.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Janet Flash: Day One

by Michael Seese

If you were here last week, you read that Janet Reid crafted a contest specifically to foil her word-play nemesis, Steve Forti. His entry, clearly, shot her out of the sky. So what did she do this week?

After being summarily vanquished last week, you'd think I'd retire from the field.

But NO!

So we were tasked with putting the following words:

get-go **

into a 100-word piece.

I really wanted to come up with something that played with the words like a previous one I wrote, "Against The Lawn." But an opening line I could not resist entered my head, and "Day One" fell out of my fingers.

The GetGo 99-cent breakfast burrito trampolining in my gut threatened to pogo back up to the pavement. The super-sized slug of vodka fortifying the Slush Puppie didn't help. I trudged onward, officeward, my wake reeking of regret. Inexplicably, my shoes had gained a few pounds since last night. Beneath them, the sidewalk sighed, saddled with the weight of my world.

I arrived to find the switchboard lit up like the heavens, and pushed the button blinking the loudest. A shaky voice beseeched.

“Hello? God?”

A far gone conclusion. My first day on the job would be less than divine.

As my friend Bill used to say, "Don't stand too near me. He might just send one lightning bolt to get both of us."

** We'll have to see how it goes, as after I had copied the word list, she added  "Yes, you need the hyphen."