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?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Castle: Hong Kong Hustle

by Michael Seese

In hindsight, I guess I wasn't all that impressed with "Hong Kong Hustle." Though I did not dislike it, consider:

- We watched it Thursday night.
- I didn't have time to write my review the next day, because Flash! Friday called. (And my entry, incidentally, was named first runner up.) Weekends can be busy as well.
- As I sat down to write on Monday, my first thought was, "Who was the murderer?"

After probing the depths of my brain, I remembered. And then...


... I thought, "Why again did she do it?"

If memory serves, the victim was going to pay off the debt of, thereby freeing one of, her slave waitresses. (If I have this wrong, refer back to the first sentence.)

Let me see if I got this straight. You're afraid you're going to lose ONE of your girls, so you kill the guy who is going to free her. Now you're going to jail. Let's do some mental math: get another girl, or kill the guy and risk prison. Yup. Option 2 sounds like a winner.


Oh well.

I have to admit, the subplot of Beckett's (good natured) jealousy of Zhang was funny. And it gave us our best lines.

Beckett: "No, Castle. She's just like me. Only better."

Beckett: "Oh my god, Castle. I haven't felt like this since I had pimples."

Castle: "That sounds like something Zhang would say. Are you quoting her?"
Beckett: (pause) "No."

A few other standouts.

Castle: "Who is Ensign Klemp, and why hasn't he changed his name?"

Ryan: "She told him [the witness] to run. He probably set a personal best."

Castle: "Henry took something of value from the inside. That's what the assassin was trying to retrieve from his pocket."
Beckett: "And said stolen item was?"
Castle: "Cold fusion technology. Genetically engineered supervirus. A secret, unpublished Harry Potter manuscript."

Castle: "So you mean to tell me she got both of your guns."
Ryan: "Hey, you weren't there."

Castle: "Ryan, this is my third marriage. I think I know what I'm doing."

Let's see what At Close Range brings. Feel free to share your thoughts on "Hong Kong Hustle."

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Flash! Friday: Bulls-eye

by Michael Seese

Here we are again...

Quick aside: Castle review coming soon.

So I was lazy yesterday, and ONLY wrote one story.

This week, we were tasked with marrying this picture...


... and a parking lot setting. I contemplated for quite some time. Then the first line came to me, and I wrote the rest in about 15 minutes. Here is "Bulls-eye."

Uneven and rutted.

My life is this parking lot.

Asphalt can be patched. But the fractured foundation remains, lurking, hidden. Aching to crumble again. To truly fix things, you need to start all over.

The weight of the gun surprises me. This has been the week for surprises. I still can't believe she moved out. I thought we were strong, stable. Apparently she felt my apologies were just cold patch.

The parking lot is deserted. Just three cars, belonging to me, her, and her manager, who always stays ten minutes more to close up.


She leaves the store. I get out, and walk toward her quickly. I want this over with.

"Gloria," I say. She jumps.

"Ted? What are you –"

"I have something for you," I say as I pull the gun from my pocket. I hand it to her. "I know it was your Dad's."

She laughs. "Yeah. I'm probably the only girl in the world with a sentimental attachment to a firearm. Thanks. Listen, I... Thanks, Ted."

She gets in her car and drives away without asking why I wore gloves in July. And won't she be surprised when she learns that her precious Colt, as of 20 minutes ago, officially became a murder weapon. 

Please share any and all (clean) thoughts.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Flash! Friday: Two Girl's Names

by Michael Seese

I didn't set out to write two Flash! Friday stories with girl's names as titles. It just happened. Though I suppose it's not surprising considering that the character prompt was the "girl next door." Then we were given this picture.


Remember, though, the photo only has to serve as an inspiration. I came up with the first two lines of the story below, and originally titled it "She Is Guilty." By the time I finished, though, it was "Eve."

She is guilty.
                 She is just a child.
She is amoral. Loose. Wild.
                 She is free.
She is a temptress. A harlot. A whore.
                 She is giving. Nothing more.
She is evil in the flesh.
                 She is wholesome. Apple pie. Pure.
The serpent used the apple as a lure.
                 What about her scares you so?
Wisdom does not fall from a tree. Wisdom must be earned.
                 And so you cast aside all she has learned?
She is Purgatory. Or worse.
                 She is the Heartland. Cornfields. A white picket fence.
Beware of implicating yourself through her defense.
                 Are you now putting me on trial?
A trial suggests a jury.
                 I don't understand your concern. Your worry.
We are not afraid of a naif.
                 Yes. She strikes fear in you. She threatens your ivory tower.
You'd be wise to realize who holds the seat of power.
                 Bigot. Hater.
Lies! Lies! LIES!
                 Honesty is her only vice.
Hold your tongue! You're dancing on thin ice.
                 Open your eyes. You'll see the light.
Revolutions begin with a spark.
                 You cannot live forever in the dark.
Playing with fire is never safe.
                 She holds the key to untold riches.
Guilty by association. We will burn two witches.

Then came (fairly quickly) "Molly."

Molly's the best babysitter. EVER! When she comes over, she always brings M&Ms.

"Ssh!" she says. "Our little secret."

We play checkers. But she's so bad at it. I ALWAYS beat her. We play superhero. I get to be the superhero. She's just the President, calling me for help. Molly says she'd like to be the President some day. She also lets me watch anything I want on TV and play games on her phone when she's upstairs. When she kisses her boyfriend goodbye, that's our little secret, too.

Last night, Molly told me she has to go away soon.

"Are you going to learn how to be the President?" I asked.

"Something like that," she said. She was crying when she said it.

I'll miss Molly.

I wanted to see her before she left. I wanted to ask her what a whore is. I'm not sure. But it didn't sound like something good, the way her Dad yelled it at her. I also wanted to ask her what pregnant means.

But I won't be able to ask Molly anything. Ever.

Superman is faster than a speeding bullet. I wish I was Superman. That way, I could have flown over there in time to stop her Dad.

Originally, the narrator was going to be a grown man waxing poetic about the neighbor girl as he watched her grow from an infant to a young woman. (Don't worry... it was going to be completely non-creepy.) Then the final line would have been something like, "All I could do was dial 911 after I heard the shot."

But I came up with the line "Superman is faster than a speeding bullet," and immediately I started writing from a child's POV.

What do you think?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Flash! Friday: Beauty Captured

by Michael Seese

I need to stop spending so much time at It's affecting my flash. This week, the theme was aspiration, and the photo prompt was:


And here is "Beauty Captured."

The cerulean swirl around his ankles mirrored her eyes. Though his forte lay not with the artist's tools, destiny told Serge that he must make her immortal. Such beauty deserved nothing less.

Days, he would slave, splitting wood shakes with one brutal cleft. Nights, he would apply his raw talents as he aspired to capturing her.

The pursuit of perfection is a lonely quest. Hours spent in painstaking practice. Though he longed to sprint forward and savor the ever-elusive end, he accepted patience as his ally. He could not afford to err, as the materiel was priceless to a man of his means.

For years, each time he passed through town he would pause and study her face. He committed to memory every curve, every tinge, every shadow. Now, working by candlelight in his studio, he broke her essence down, bit by bit, inch by inch.

His heart nearly burst when he completed his labor of love.


She would never age, never fade, never face the declination which eventually consumes all egos.

And she would not be forgotten.

The unfortunate soul who happened upon Serge as he washed the pieces of her down the river would have to join her in immortality.

Such is the price of art.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Funny Foto #65... What Do They KNOW?

by Michael Seese

If you want a funny example of targeted ads gone awry....

The other day, I was searching the Internet for a pronunciation of the French expression vin de pays.

The website I settled on featured an amusing ad near the bottom. 

In case you don't know, to save you the lookup, vin  de pays means "country wine."

Are they trying to tell me something?