Saturday, October 3, 2015

Flash! Friday: Events Triggered & Collections

by Michael Seese

For this week's Flash! Friday, the novel prompt was Macbeth. So of course, my story HAD to feature a death, or two.  In case you'd forgotten all the details of the Bard's classic tale of treachery, here are the elements we had to incorporate.

* Conflict: man v man (not gender specific, even though pretty much all the women in this play DIE)
* Character (choose at least one): an ambitious general, an overly ambitious wife, a soothsayer, a doomed king, a drunk porter
* Theme (choose one): ambition, dangers of power, fate vs free will
* Setting (choose one): a battlefield; a castle; a cavern; a mysterious forest

Here is the photo we could have used. 

I came up with the idea for the second one below first. But I knew it would be more metaphorical. (Or maybe it's allegorical.) And I wanted a concrete, straightforward story as well. That led to "Events Triggered"

It wasn't supposed to end like this. Of course, when naïveté and firearms are thrown together, things rarely go as planned.

For years, my husband begged me to come along on a hunting trip, despite my professed incompetence – no, clumsiness – with guns. Finally I tired of the badgering and relented.

He decided I should learn "in the field," rather than on a shooting range. He tried to coach me, to reassure me. But my hands wouldn't stop shaking. The second I pulled the trigger, we both realized this whole thing had been one big mistake.

Screaming for help was no use. Couldn't call 911, either. Zero bars.

Then the other hunter stumbled upon us. He saw my husband lying there, bleeding. "Let me get help," he said, pulling out a satellite phone. The bullet between his eyes made me a double murderer. I hated taking an innocent, but he would have ruined my plan, my perfect plan. I should be living the life of a rich widow now. No, it wasn't supposed to end like this.

"Does the condemned have any other last words?" the warden asked.

"Yes," I said. "Please tell your executioners to hit my heart. Quick deaths are so much more humane."

Since the scene with the drunken porter is one of my favorites, I tried to think about how to base a story on him. I started with the first stanza you see below. Then while cooking dinner, I brain-wrote the rest of "Collections."

Knock, knock, knock! Who's there,
i' the name of Beelzebub?

I rehearse my favorite Shakespearean line as I push my luck down the street in a rickety shopping cart. The daily migration of empty human casing scurrying through life circumnavigates around me. Insanity, I have found, is a comforting buffer against humanity.

I derive a certain twisted amusement from watching them, and contemplating the inherent irony in knowing that they prefer their lives, their demons over mine. The devil you know, I suppose.

I collect whatever tickles my fancy. One man's trash is another man's pleasure. Into my cart go the unpunished good deed. The occasional good intention, which comes in handy, as my road desperately needs paving.

And souls. The people in this city rarely use them, and won’t miss them.

Until Judgment Day.

But by then, it will be too late.

Knock, knock! Who's there, in the other
devil's name? Faith, here's an equivocator...

Faith is a funny thing. People ignore it, then manage to lose it, like spare change in the couch cushions. They vow to find it. Some day. But the devil is in the details.

And walking down the street in their midst.

So which is your favorite play by Shakespeare?

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