Sunday, April 12, 2015

Flash: Thrown

by Michael Seese

As threatened promised yesterday, below is my latest Janet Reid 100-word story. Our charge: to incorporate:


Get out your hankies, folks. Here is "Thrown."

It had been a long day. Paul felt like talking anyway.

"Cordelle sure worked you over today," he said to Violet, buckled in the back seat, eyes closed.

"The first time she threw you, I wondered if you'd get back on that stupid horse. The second time..." He took a deep breath. "I called home. Mom's meeting us there, OK?"

Violet didn't answer. And she never would. Paul didn't need to talk to his daughter. But pretending that his 15-year-old "baby" would wake up again was all that kept him between the lines on the long ride to the hospital.

And let me know what you think.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Flash! Friday: "Amazing Disgrace" and "Spare Change"

by Michael Seese

I'm not sure what got into me this week. 

I wasn't too happy with my last two stories. I think part of the problem was that I focused on the "word prompt" (meaning, the part that said to make the character a janitor, or the setting a parking lot) at the expense of the photo. So this week, I didn't even read the prompt until I thought about what the picture said. On that topic, here is the photo.

Then I read the character had to be a spy.

Hmmm. That made it kind of tough, considering what I had concocted for "Amazing Disgrace," below. But I forged on.

My cup is empty. Hardly surprising, considering how often in my previous life I let it runneth over. Like my tin companion, I am a hollow vessel, cast to the fringe, cursing a past so full of wanton waste that nothing could save a wretch like me.

The others, the blessed ones, can see me. But they don't, really. I now am a mere shadow, blended in with the background, like a mole in some spy thriller.

A man's fall from grace is hardly a plummet. To be (painfully self-) honest, it's not even a slide, as sliding implies a loss of control. No, it's a series of steps, steps taken willfully despite, or in spite of, the ever-steepening grade that I tried to convince myself was not a decline at all. But it was. So I lied, and reassured myself I was treading on level ground. Then one day, I awoke to find it all gone.

In speaking of Purgatory, Dante said, "My son, here may indeed be torment, but not death." How cruelly true were his words. They burn in my brain as I sit "here," just outside the Pearly Gates, while those on the other side toss me orts of divinity.

And laugh at my plight.

Then I came up with "Spare Change."

"Oi! Mister! Spare some coin for a mate who's down on his luck? No? Nothing? Well, God bless, Mister."

The Book of Luke says, "Give, and it will be given to you... For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." One man's opinion, but it seems humanity's yardstick has shrunk a bit since that one was penned. Going further, I'd say a lot of the "rules" have fallen into disrepair of late.

Adultery. Stealing. Coveting. Once taboo, and now glorified by a generation that prays on the altar of the Internet which, incidentally, I would say runs counter to "You shall have no other gods before me."

Here comes another. Let's see if he's more charitable.

"Sadaiaf?" Nary a nod.

I suppose I could discard my disguise, and present myself as the artists portray me, as the authors describe me. But then it wouldn't be a fair test, would it? If they saw me for who I am, I imagine they'd behave differently. They might even act as if their afterlife depended on it.

Which it does.

It's nearly quitting time. Soon, I will sit down with my counterpart, and divvy up the souls. Those who gave, He can call His.

The others...

"Oi! Mister!"

 I'm just waiting for the lightning bolt. Let me know what you think about either story.

And check back tomorrow for my entry into Janet Reid's latest contest.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Castle: Habeas Corpse

by Michael Seese

Sorry this is late; we were soaking up some Caribbean sun last week.

Gloating complete, I'll say you gotta love any show any show that features the line, "I'll make the law your bitch." The latest Castle, "Habeas Corpse," was that show. Funny, clever, intricate, and (in the end) touching. What more could we ask for?


A plot trick that I thought was very clever -- and perhaps a first for Castle?? -- was having one suspect "alibi out," and then turn out to be the murderer after it is revealed he bribed his alibi. For that reason, I didn't "call it." But I did notice it. (End self-satisfied, sing-song voice.)

When Beckett first spoke to The Hammer in the hospital, he said (paraphrasing), "I didn't kill Richie, and I didn't steal his files." I immediately said, "Wait a minute. It's not like Beckett would have told him about the files."

A few other points of note:

- I thought "Lightning" Bolt was a great character. "Lightning don't strike twice." Plus, he did put an awesome spin move on Espo.

- I enjoyed seeing Espo and Ryan rehearsing in the interrogation room. I was so looking forward to the competition, which I was sure they'd show. So BOOO! to the writers for not giving us that.

- And Lanie gave me my lividity fix, as, "Based on the lividity, I'd say it happened between 12:00 and 2:30."

"Habeas Corpse" gave us so many good lines.

Beckett: "She [Alexis] would make a good lawyer."
Castle: "Yeah. As if I don't lose enough arguments to her already."

Ryan: "Ha-ha. Back to reality." (If memory serves, that came in response to Castle's first boast that he and Beckett could best the boys.)

Ryan: "Why am I the only one who has not seen that commercial?"
Esposito: "Because when you're not moonlighting, your honey-milk sipping ass is in bed by 10:00."

Beckett: "Can we talk for a second? Over there."
Castle: "I knew she was going to say that."

Beckett: "Can we get back to the dead guy?" And I LOVED the way Espo pinched Ryan's lips shut as he tried to tone down the wager.

Castle: "Given how unwieldy it is to carry a body... That's research, not experience."

Beckett: "There's a reason why Captain Gates doesn't get up on the stage and have fun."
Castle: "I just always assumed it was because she was genetically incapable of it."

That's about it. Next week, more of the mystery behind Castle's missing months.

Feel free to share your thoughts on "Habeas Corpse," or on life in general.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Flash! Friday "Out Of Time"

by Michael Seese

I wasn't thrilled with this one. Of course, we were on vacation in Puerto Rico. So I had an excuse.

For this week's Flash! Friday, we had to incorporate as the theme a blunder. This was the photo.

Here is the appropriately named "Out Of Time," submitted literally one minute before the deadline.

I want to scream, "Fools! You're running out of time." But they'll never listen to me. They never have. Life is a series of slippery slopes. A single misstep may not matter. But too many can quickly cascade downward, giving birth to an unstoppable avalanche.

A young mother facing abandonment pleads for him to stay, even though she knows it – he – is a mistake.
A child facing punishment pleads for another chance to behave, even though he knows he did "wrong," whatever "wrong" is.
A teen facing facing the fury of his drunken father's fists pleads for the beating to stop, even though he knows the alcohol is in charge.
A terrified woman facing the barrel of a gun pleads for her life, even though she knows the bullet is coming.
A man on death row pleads for forgiveness, even though the ones left behind want him to burn.
A world facing the cancer known as mankind pleads for relief, for an end to war, greed, deforestation, pollution, population, fossil fuel infernos, global warming.

As I – the last grain – spilled to the lower globe, I'm sure they thought, I'll just flip the hourglass over, and start again .

Not this time. Not this time.

Oh well. Better luck next week.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Funny Foto #66

by Michael Seese

A little humor to start your April Fool's Day....

The other day, I looked at the end cap from a can of frozen cranberry juice.

I love the precision of the date, two years away. So apparently, if I find this in my freezer on January 15 -- two years from now -- I'd better err on the side of caution and toss it. (My Mom would.)

Have a good week.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Flash Friday! At War

by Michael Seese

This one did not come easy. Perhaps my timing was off. On Fridays, I go to the gym at lunchtime, and usually write a lot of my stories there. (I have no idea why.) But my son felt sick at school yesterday morning, and I had to go get him.

Also, I do recognize that the picture didn't "jump out" at me. Sometimes, I look at the picture and just know what I want to write. Then once I get an idea from the picture, the story pretty much writes itself. But I didn't decide on the story line until around dinner time. 

No matter. I got it done. We'll see what the judges think.

We had to build upon the conflict of man (gender non-specific, of course) versus himself. And this photo:


(Incidentally, it's a picture of the first all-woman jury in the U.S."

Here is "At War."

Aiden stared at the faded photograph, ruing that he could touch her skin in sepia only. How he longed to return home and hold her once more. But now, lying there with a hole in his belly, such a reunion would have to take place in his dreams. Or the afterlife.

"The war needs me," he had told her when he said goodbye.

"Your war be damned," Maggie spat back. She only cursed when her passions were truly inflamed. "I need you."

He promised he would write every day. And he remained true to his word. At first, he waxed poetic about the glory of the fight against tyranny. About serving the cause of freedom. But as reality set in, his letters sagged under the weight of frustration, anger, fear.

And pain.

Her missives read like paeans to indefatigable love. To her belief in him. To admiration of his nobility. But the last one cut deeper than flesh.

"Please give this up. If not for me, then for our child."

He blinked back phantom tears, tears which would not fall from his parched, sunken eyes.

A familiar face appeared outside his cell. "You ready to give in Aiden? Call it quits?"

"No, warden. The hunger strike will continue."

Thoughts... good, bad, indifferent?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Castle: At Close Range

by Michael Seese

"It's Ryan Time!"

I liked "At Close Range," though I didn't take a lot of notes. Perhaps I was too busy enjoying it. The opening pulled us right in: a bloodied Ryan staring into, then punching, the mirror. Then the "6 Hours Earlier" jumpback. They've used that technique before; though, if memory serves, the opening teaser scene winds up being near the end, instead of pretty much at the beginning, as it was this week. (I have to say, a pox on the folks who developed the trailer shown at the end of "Hong Kong Hustle;" I vividly recall the emphasis being on the scene where a bunch of cops draw their guns and order Ryan to drop his, making it look like he did something.)

And, as I have said on other occasions, I enjoy shows which focus on one of the non-Caskett characters. As an added bonus, we got to meet (as far as I remember, it was the first time) Ryan's sister. 


This one returned to the tried-and-true formula of "Is it suspect 1? Or 2? Or 3? No! None of the above." They kept us guessing right up to the end.

Boasting aside: I somewhat called it. As soon as I saw Lopez and Carolyn together, I thought, Affair. When Beckett called Ryan from the hospital to say she died, I announced, "They were having an affair, and he wanted her dead to clean up his act before the Presidential run." So I had it half right.

Picky aside: Like last week, I thought the motive was kind of sketchy. "You were going to dump me from your staff, so I killed your girlfriend."

And while I'm at it...

Picky aside #2: The gajillionaire Carl Shelton said in the interrogation that he funds a lot of groups, and can't know the people behind them all. That makes sense. So why was he talking to Chambers? Especially since, he would have had no way of knowing Chambers would be there, since he (Shelton) wasn't the one who arranged it.

Oh well. I still liked it.

Before finishing up here, I wanted to take a second and call out the scene where Beckett goes through Carolyn's purse. I just liked the way she waxed poetic about getting to know a woman's life by way of the contents of her purse.

The lines (not a whole lot):

Castle: "Ryan, is it One Direction? You'd tell me, right?"
Esposito: "They're in Hong Kong." (Nice back reference, BTW.)

Beckett: "You texted Castle and not me?"
Ryan: "Well, when you have a crazy theory, you don't tell the voice of reason."

Your thoughts, dear Castle devotees?