Flash Fiction Friday: The Mystery of the Road Apples

Image result for road apples

Sam and his buddy, Randy, jogging on the rail trail, came to a road crossing. They stopped, looked left, then right.

“Woah, what is that?” Randy pointed down the sidewalk to their right.

“Is that what I think it is?” Sam wrinkled his nose.

They took a few steps to their right.

Sam’s eyes widened. “It is! Those are road apples!”

“Yeah, but what are they doing there?”

“Hey, what’s all the commotion?” Four guys they’d never seen before joined them.

“Ew, what. is. that?” One of the guys stared.

“Who are you?” Randy raised an eyebrow.

“I’m Justin and this is my brother, Brandon.” The tallest boy spoke and motioned one at a time to the others. “The two behind us are John and Brian, our cousins.”

“I’m Randy and this is Sam.” Randy made their introductions.

Sam noted the group’s Polo shirts, black skinny jeans, and the Vans on their feet. “You guys aren’t from around here, are you?”

They all shook their heads as they stared at the mess on the sidewalk.

“Well, here in Lancaster County, we call them road apples.” Sam glanced at Randy, who grinned.

“You mean you eat that?” Justin’s face paled.

Sam chuckled. “No way. Road apples is our name for horse poop.”

The new guys made disgusted noises, and Sam thought Justin was going to toss his cookies.

When they had regained their composure, Brandon piped up. “Do they ride horses on the sidewalks around here?”

Sam and Randy shook their heads.

“Then what are those doing on the sidewalk?”

Randy stepped forward. “That’s what we were trying to figure out. Are you up for helping us solve this mystery?”

John and Brian each put an arm out, took a step backward, and shook their heads.

Justin asked, “What do you have in mind?”

Randy shared his plan. “Well I figure this wasn’t a prank or it’d be in front of someone’s house.”

Sam, Justin, and Brandon looked at Randy with raised eyebrows.

“I figure this happened while some Amish boys were out one Friday night on their rumspringa. So we come back here Friday night and watch for them. See what they’ve been up to.”

Brandon and Justin looked at each other and shrugged. Brandon said, “So Amish boys are the ones that dress funny, wearing suspenders and straw hats. Is that right?”

Sam and Randy nodded.

“So, what’s rum schpringer?”

Sam laughed out loud.

“That’s rumspringa.” Randy explained. “When Amish kids become teenagers, they are allowed to go out and pretty much do what they want on weekends. They do some crazy stuff.”

Brandon and Justin looked at each other and nodded. “We’re in.”

Randy grinned. “So, we’ll see you two back here Friday night as soon as it gets dark.”

They all shook hands.

Friday night Justin and Brandon were already at the designated spot when Sam and Randy arrived. The boys squatted in shadow, back from the sidewalk a few feet.

They hadn’t been there long when they heard girls giggling—a group of Amish girls. They were talking and laughing.

The traffic along this road had slowed down. The five o’clock rush had ended three hours ago. The boys watched the Amish girls cross the street and stand in a huddle at the end of the rail trail. They stood gazing up the hill, so the boys did the same.

“Here they come!” One of the girls shouted and pointed up the hill. The other girls squealed and stared in that direction.

Randy, Sam, Justin, and Brandon stood up and took a step forward. They looked up the hill and saw two horse-and-buggies careening down the hill side by side, neck-and-neck.

“They’re racing!” Sam bounced from one foot to the other.

When the buggies were about fifty feet from where Sam and the others stood, a car turned up the road and headed right for the buggy that was on the wrong side of the road!

The buggies shifted, forcing one to clamber onto the sidewalk. It looked like it might tip over, but it righted itself once all the wheels were on the concrete.

As the buggies passed Sam and his friends, the horse on the road dropped some road apples, and the horse-and-buggy on the sidewalk inched ahead and rattled off the corner of concrete, back into the street and pulled to a stop. The buggy that had been forced onto the sidewalk had won the race!

Justin and Brandon looked at the road apples in the road. “Glad it wasn’t the horse on the sidewalk this time. They’d have dropped right in front of us.” They wrinkled their noses, and Sam and Randy laughed. “I guess that solves the mystery of the road apples.”

Flash Fiction Friday: Love at First Sight

                                            

As Finn waited for the elevator on the tenth floor, he checked his watch—2:30 p.m. He ran a hand through his blonde curls, sighed, and tapped his toe. He had to be across town in just thirty minutes. The elevator door opened and a stack of books stepped out—a stack of books with very shapely legs and a milk chocolate brown eye peeking around the books. The corners of his mouth twitched.

“Here, let me help you.” He reached to take the top eight books from the stack, revealing a young woman’s face with olive skin, glistening red, bow-shaped lips, and not one, but two of those milk chocolate brown eyes. Her crowning glory, the waves of chestnut brown hair cascading to her shoulders.

She smiled and let out a little puff of air. “Thank you. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to my office before all these books fell.”

“Your office?”

“Yeah. C’mon, follow me.” She stepped past him and he followed her down the hall, through another office doorway, down another hall, and through a door into an office with wall-to-wall bookshelves, a paper-scattered desk with padded black leather chair behind it. There were two overstuffed chairs in front of the desk. A nameplate on the desk read “Bernadine McMillan”.

The woman set her stack of books on the desk and turned toward him. “You can set those next to these.”

As he placed the books on the desk, he noted the title of the top book, To Kill a Mockingbird, one of his all-time favorites.

“Thanks for your help.” Her words pulled his attention back to her.

“Have you read all of these?” He should be going. He was going to be late, but something inside him didn’t want to leave this beautiful woman.

She smiled and nodded. “It’s necessary for my sanity. After reading the manuscripts of wannabe authors, I need to read some well-written books to remember what good writing is.”

“The manuscripts are that bad, huh?”

“Oh, I do find a rare pearl among them from time to time. That’s the best part … finding the ones worth publishing and getting out into the world.” Her eyes sparkled as she spoke of finding worthy manuscripts.

“So, you are a publisher?” He raised an eyebrow.

“Actually, I’m the head of the acquisitions department for Bradley Publishing. My name’s Bernadine McMillan, and you are?” She reached a hand toward him.

He took her hand, lowered his head, and placed a kiss on the back of it. He really wanted to kiss her glistening lips. He straightened and met her gaze. “I’m Finn. Finn Johnson, lawyer. Listen, I’m late for an appointment, but could I see you again … take you to dinner?”

“I’d like that. Any evening after five.”

“How about tomorrow, say, six-thirty?” He backed toward the door, unwilling to break eye contact with Bernadine.

She nodded, grabbed something off the desk. “Here’s my card, so you can contact me.”

She smiled, and his heart skipped a beat. He turned and practically ran out the door of her office before he lost his head, grabbed her, and kissed her.

The next evening he knocked on her apartment door five minutes early. When she opened the door, his mouth went dry and his palms began to sweat, as he took in every curve in her clinging red dress and the hint of cleavage revealed by a v-shaped neckline. Again, her lips glistened red. Her hair was pinned up in a French twist, with a few wavy tendrils framing her face. The style revealed her slender neck, and Finn found himself longing to kiss the tender spot at the base of each side of her neck.

“I thought you might be late.” She grinned at him.

He chuckled at her teasing and offered her his arm.

They talked all through dinner of their careers and their childhoods. Finn didn’t want the evening to end. As they stood outside her apartment door, he held one of her hands, and with his free hand ran the backs of his fingers down the side of her face.

“I’ve never felt such a connection to any woman before.”

“I know what you mean.” Her voice, nearly a whisper.

“You feel it too?”

She nodded.

He lowered his face and placed his lips on hers. As he deepened the kiss, he pulled her into his arms, and she moved her hands up around his neck.

When they broke the kiss, Finn ran his hands from her elbows up to her shoulders. “Bernadine, this is going to sound crazy.”

She didn’t respond but continued to gaze into his eyes.

“Bernadine, will you marry me?”

“I’d love to.”

Finn’s heart leaped in his chest, then they were kissing again.

©Kelly F. Barr 2019

Armed for Travel

Amelia Merchant sat on her bed reading the last chapter of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. When she finished, she closed the book, sighed, and touched her lips remembering d’Artagnan’s kiss.

Would she travel to another place in another dimension again, or was that just one freak incident?

Amelia didn’t know but she’d better prepare for the possibility. She couldn’t expect there to be a handsome man ready and willing to protect and help her in another dimension. Grabbing her purse and car keys, she scooted out the door.

Amelia eased her little VW bug into a parking space and walked into the sportsman’s shop..

The brawny, bearded man behind the counter smiled. “May I help you?”

“I hope so.” Amelia’s eyes scanned the array of weapons. “I need a couple of items that are small and easy to conceal. I also need a good compass and some simple instructions on how to use it.”

“Here’s a compass that is popular with the ladies because it resembles a compact.” He opened the small square case and Amelia noticed there was even a mirror inside. The clerk also explained that it came with a DVD that fully explained how to use it.

About an hour later, Amelia left the sportsman’s shop with the compass, a handgun and holster to strap to her belt  that would enable the gun to lie against her back , and a boot knife that would fit nicely in the calf of her favorite boots. She felt much better equipped for anything she may encounter in another dimension, or, at least, she hoped so.

The next day, Amelia took her gun to the local shooting range to practice. When she was getting into her car afterward, her cell phone rang.

“Hello.”

“Amelia, this is Kim. Stacey and I are headed to the library and wondered if you’d like to join us. We’re planning to see what guys are there, select a couple of books and then go for pizza. So, you wanna join us?”

“Sure, I’ll meet you at the library in about twenty minutes.”

She stuck her handgun in the glove box and locked it. When she parked at the library, she also locked her car. She joined Kim and Stacey at a table, hoping she wouldn’t disappear into another dimension before going for pizza.

“So, have you been here long enough to notice who’s here?” Amelia sat down across from her two friends.

The two offered mischievous grins before Kim said, “Jackson Winters is here.”

Amelia’s heart skipped a beat. “Are you sure?”

“Mm-hmm. Skylar Bennett and Hunter Graham are with him. Can you believe that?”

“No way! Have they seen you?” Amelia had been hoping for months that Jackson would ask her out, Kim wanted to nab some time with Skylar, and Stacey wanted to hook Hunter’s interest. The girls knew all three guys were on the basketball team but had never seen the three hanging out together before.

“I’m going to check out the classic literature. I’ll be back when I find my next read.” Amelia headed to the classics section.

A few minutes later Amelia was walking between two rows of bookshelves already engrossed in a good book. She was headed toward the table she shared with Kim and Stacey.

When she heard the giggling of female voices, Amelia looked up and found herself surrounded by young women in long gowns with white aprons. They were staring at her, whispering to each other and giggling. She looked down at her shimmering pink blouse, skinny jeans and brown leather boots and groaned.

“Ah, hello ladies. Could you please tell me where I am and what year this is?”

Many of the young ladies stepped back looking frightened, but one bold woman stepped forward. “You are in the castle of the Sun King, King Louis XIV and the year is 1668.”

“And this is France?”

“Oui, mademoiselle.”

“I don’t speak French, so please continue in English.”

“You are dressed very strange. Where have you come from?”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Can you just lend me some clothes and take me to a room where I can change?”

That evening Amelia attended a ball in the castle. King Louis the XIV was known for his extravagant balls and parties. She stood along a wall with many of the other young women servants and helped to keep the refreshment table stocked.

However, she couldn’t help notice a very handsome gentleman dressed in white pants, black boots, a white shirt with a front ruffle and a red jacket. She watched as he danced with several of the elegantly dressed ladies, and then his eyes met Amelia’s as one of the dances ended. His eyes were so startlingly blue, Amelia’s breath caught in her throat and she could not break eye contact.

He approached her as the music and the next dance began. He stood just a foot in front of her and bowed. Then his eyes met hers again.

“May I have this dance?”

Amelia put a hand to her throat and tried to find her voice. “I’m sorry, but I am simply a Lady’s maid. I don’t think I’m allowed to dance.”

“Under ordinary circumstances, you cannot dance, but at my request, you simply cannot deny me. You see, I am Phillipe, brother to the king.”

With that he led her to the dance floor where they stood across from each other in lines among others and participated in a very proper dance.

*****

Kim began to panic when she couldn’t find Amelia in the classics section of the library. Jackson, Skylar and Hunter would be joining them for pizza.

After a frantic search, she apologized to Jackson and the group exited the library.

*****

At closing time, one of the librarian’s walked through the library to do some last minute straightening and in the middle of the classics aisle found To Dance with Kings by Rosalind Laker lying open on the floor.

 

 

New Improved Flash Fiction Friday: Swords and a Kiss

Where am I? Amelia stood in a dusty street. Tall buildings lined either side. She heard voices and noticed some kind of commotion happening.

There were four men in boots, pants, shirts, vests and large hats with feathers upon their heads. They seemed to be arguing. Amelia sneaked closer and stood between two buildings.

Two of the men drew their swords, while the other two stood to one side. The two with drawn swords began to fight.

However, before they hardly begun, a group of guards arrived and tried to grab the two.  The two, in the wings, moved forward and the four fought the guards in unity.

Amelia didn’t know who the good guys or bad guys were, but she kept her eye on the one who appeared to be the youngest. He was extremely good looking with long black locks hanging to his shoulders. He carried himself quite straight and appeared self-confident.

Amelia watched as the battle continued. She gasped as the swordsmen she rooted for lost his sword. He continued to dodge his opponent’s sword artfully while trying to get to his blade where it lay on the ground.

Without a thought, Amelia ran from her hiding place, grabbed the sword and called, “Hey!”

All the men stopped, staring at her. She tossed the weapon to the young man and ran back to her hiding place. All eyes followed her and when she was safely tucked between the two buildings again, the men resumed their battle.

It was then she realized how out of place she looked in her skinny jeans, hot pink t-shirt and red canvas chucks.

The battle continued until several of the guards had fled and the young swordsman disarmed his opponent and sliced the man’s side. It was a serious wound.

As the remaining guards carried the wounded and fled, the four original men shook hands.

“Well, d’Artagnan, there may be room for you as a Musketeer of the Guard yet.”

d’Artagnan? Musketeer? Did her ears deceive her? She had just begun to read about them when she ended up here.

d’Artagnan’s gaze fell upon her. He approached slowly.

Amelia stood on shaky legs. She felt her face growing warm.

d’Artagnan stopped in front of her, his dark chocolate eyes scanning her from head to toe. Then he bowed, and when he stood, a slight smile tipped the corners of his mouth.

“Milady, I do not know where you came from, but I owe you a debt of gratitude for retrieving my sword for me.”

“No problem.” Then realizing he wouldn’t understand, she said, “Think nothing of it, sir.”

“Your clothing are quite unusual. I wouldn’t let the king’s guards see you dressed like that or you may be arrested and hauled off.” He winked.

“Yes, I will be careful. I . . .”

Before she could finish her sentence, d’Artagnan took a step closer, put a hand in her long, blonde hair, and placed his mouth upon hers. His lips were warm, soft and moist, and the kiss tender.

When d’Artagnan drew back, Amelia was breathless.

“Is there some way that I can be of assistance to you, milady?”

“Um, I’m not exactly sure, but I need to find  a way to get home.”

“Where is your home?”

“In the United States.”

“I’ve never heard of that place.”

“Yes, well, it’s a long story. Don’t worry about me. I’ll figure something out.” She sounded more confident than she felt.

“I’m not comfortable leaving a lady in distress. Maybe I could, at least, get you some suitable clothes.” d’Artagnan took her arm and led her down the street.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, one of the librarians at the Manheim Township Library retrieved a book from the floor, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.

A Note About Flash Fiction Friday

Hello Everyone,

I appreciate those of you who come and read my posts and “like” posts or leave comments. I apologize that I have not written a Flash Fiction post for today, but I am taking some time to read some Flash Fiction and to read some information about writing Flash Fiction in an attempt to improve my Flash Fiction posts.

In addition, I need to come up with some ideas for some Flash Fiction posts. I seem to have a writer’s block in this area currently. However, I hope to have a new and improved Flash Fiction Friday post here next week.

If you have any suggestions for my Flash Fiction posts, please feel free to put them in the comments.

Flash Fiction Friday: For the Love of Dogs

I took my two dogs and walked on the rail trail. I had my phone and was texting a friend when my arm wrenched as the dogs strained at their leashes.

I raised my eyes to find a beautiful blonde with emerald eyes and a quiet yellow labrador retriever by her side. She was eyeing my dogs as she and her dog were trying to pass us.

She met my eyes. I smiled. “Hello.”

“It appears your dogs need some training.”

“I’m sorry. Yeah, they won’t hurt you or your dog. They’d like to greet the two of you.”

She raised an eyebrow. “I don’t think so.” She frowned at my dogs.

She hadn’t stopped moving and I was now facing the opposite direction than I’d been traveling, looking at her back.

“Wait. Can I at least get your name? Are you married?” Other people were now looking in our direction.

She glanced over her shoulder and I began moving toward her.

“No, I’m not married and my name is Amanda.” The corners of her lips twitched.

I jogged a few steps to get closer to her. “Can I take you to dinner?”

“I don’t think so.” She grimaced at my dogs.

“Seriously? You’re turning me down because of my dogs?”

“You can actually tell a lot about a person by their pets. But also, I’m not a fan of Boston Terriers and I don’t think your dogs and my dog would get along.”

“If it’s that important to you, I’ll get rid of my dogs.”

“Now you’re being ridiculous. You don’t even know me.” She turned and began walking again.

“Look, Amanda, okay, I know I may sound crazy, desperate even, but you are the most beautiful woman I have ever met and I just can’t let you get away.” I knew I was groveling, but I was tired of being alone.

Her lips twitched again, and then broke into a wide smile. “That’s definitely the most original pickup line I have ever heard. What is your name?”

“My name, oh right, my name. I’m Jason. Jason Walters.”

“Well, Jason Walters, why don’t you get your phone out of your pocket and I’ll give you my number.”

“Really?” I began digging for my phone.

“My name is Amanda Reynolds.”

I typed furiously.

“My number is 555-4202.” She waited as I typed. “Got it?”

“Yeah, I got it. I’ll call you soon.”

She smiled, turned around and walked away.

It was then that a terrible thought niggled its way into my brain. That’s probably not her real last name or her real phone number. Do you really think she’d give you her real information as foolishly as you acted.

I hated it, but that thought was probably more accurate than I cared to admit. I guessed I’d find out soon enough.

 

Flash Fiction Friday: Battles of the Heart (Part 2)

“What is your name, lass?” The soldier’s eyes searched her face.

“Alita Washington.”

The soldier stopped and stared at her. “Not the daughter of Sir Washington? Sister of Gabriel and Jaxson Washington?”

“The very one! You knew them?”

“Aye. Gabriel was my best friend.”

“Yet you still serve his murderer?” Her green eyes sparked and flashed.

“Murderer? Miss, your father and brother, Gabriel were killed in a battle just like this one.”

“And Jaxson returned home maimed. But it was Sir Wallace who pierced my father through and left Gabriel to die on the battlefield.” She raised her voice.

“Anyone engaged in a battle can lose their life or sustain a permanent injury. Surely you can’t hold Sir Wallace accountable for actions in battle.”

“I can, I do, and I will. Now I think it best if we stopped talking and you simply lead on.”

“I’ve just one more question.” His steady gaze met hers. “How many have you killed or left on the battlefield for dead in your quest to find and kill Sir Wallace?”

She stood, her mouth hanging open, but uttered no sound.

He watched as her face crumbled, tears began to pour from her eyes and sobs racked her body. She began to sway and he caught her in his arms before she landed in a heap on the ground.

He held her and stroked her hair. “Ah, you poor lass, revenge can destroy the avenger. I know you’ve been hurt. You’ve lost loved ones and you’ve been grieving, but killing Sir Wallace won’t bring your loved ones back.”

Her sobbing subsided but he didn’t release her. He simply put a finger under her chin and tilted her face up to his. He wiped her tears with the thumb of his other hand. “Where is Jaxson and your Mum? Do they know where you are?”

She shook her head violently. “My mother died giving birth to me. Jaxson is all I have left, but he’s broken. He limps around and does what he can with his remaining hand, but he hasn’t found a way to earn any money. I don’t know what’s to become of us.”

As she looked into his eyes, he lowered his head toward hers and once again claimed her lips in a kiss. This time the kiss was long and passionate. She felt her knees go weak and put her arms around his neck and clung to him, returning his kiss.

When the kiss ended, they both stood trying to catch their breath. Then he looked into her eyes. “Marry me, Alita. I will take care of you and Jaxson.”

She gasped and stepped back. “But I’ve only just met you, and you say you were Gabriel’s best friend. How is it then that you left him on the battlefield to die? You were there, weren’t you?”

His eyes grew watery. “Aye, I was there. I tried to get to Gabriel when I saw the large soldier he was fighting gaining the upper hand, but I couldn’t reach him in time. When I did get to him, it was too late. I held him in my arms as he took his last breath. I didn’t leave him on the battlefield to die. I left him on the battlefield already dead.” Tears spilled from his eyes and he hung his head.

Alita stepped forward, put her hands on either side of his face and pulled his face to hers. She kissed him tenderly. Then she offered him a small smile. “You have asked me to marry you and I do not even know your name.”

“My name is Bertram Weinhold.”

“Well, Bertram Weinhold, I will marry you.”