Sunday, February 28, 2010

Daniel O'Shea's Flash Fiction Challenge: "The Original Rainmaker"

Daniel O'Shea has a flash fiction challenge and he said, "Is it flash fiction time again? Yes, says I, so I’m throwing down the gauntlet. And would you look at that, almost Ash Wednesday. In this lovely Puritanical Republic of ours, the ancestral home of Jimmy Swaggert, the Bakers and buggered altar boys (well, OK, maybe we can’t take credit for inventing that last one, though they damn near perfected it out Boston way, I’m told, and, damn it, televangelism? We OWN that) it seems your local house of worship is the perfect setting for a little malfeasance.

You with me? 1000 words max, set wherever good folk hit their knees. Let’s say March 1. If you’re game, lemme know and I’ll add your name to the dishonor roll."


Here is "The Original Rainmaker," and it's a sequel of sorts to "A Sheep In Wolf's Clothing."


Madison, Brandi, Candi and Taylor sit at the bar, happily counting their money and gleefully bumping shoulders. Some NBA player from a European country they’ve never heard of just came by and spread his wealth in here, one of the few strip clubs in West Fayetteville, Arkansas. No one knows just why he chose to spend his cash at this particular establishment, as his accent was nearly indecipherable to everyone. The bartender understood the word “vodka” and the girls understood Washington, Lincoln, Jackson and Franklin.

The owner Lamont Hubble, trudges wearily out of his office. Business has been down lately, after the initial upswing that followed after this place was robbed. With the novelty of the crime forgotten and the economy being what it is, Lamont is worried that he might have to start watering down his drinks, and it’s not the beauty of his girls or the club’s atmosphere that make the customers choose the Candy Shack over all the other places.

“It was Windowpania,” squeaks Candi.

“It’s Lithuvia,” affirms Taylor, who actually knows a thing or two about accounting because she took a class in it. She still doesn’t geography from her brown eye.

“Who cares what country he’s from? The boy is rich and clueless,” Madison chortles. “I never followed basketball before, but you best be sure that I’ll make sure to watch all of his games, I’ll be looking him up. Nobody told him that when you make it rain, that you’re supposed to use only singles.”

“Making it rain” is when one showers strippers with one dollar bills. Lamont pours a drink and allows himself a smile. “I was the original rainmaker, ya know?”

“Oh, c’mon, Lamont,” says Brandi. “How are you gonna lay claim to that?”

“You best believe that as sure as the four pounds of saline on your chest, that I was the first to make it rain.”

After several moments of silence, the surgically-altered beauties lean forward…with the botox in their faces making them look more serious than they are. Lamont takes a deep breath and tells them his tale.

“I was twelve in 1978, when we moved to Elmwood, Louisiana. My father was a sergeant in the Army and he was transferred to Fort Polk. I was an average kid, average height, was average at sports, and I should’ve fit in, but I didn’t. Hell, I even had a twang, just like everybody else, but I was the only new kid.

“This gangly kid that was a whole head taller than the rest of the class decided I was the one that came up with the nickname ‘Mantis’ for him. Apparently everyone had been calling him that since the spring before, but this was his chosen excuse to pick on me. He told me he was going to kick my ass at lunch time, and every lunch time thereafter, until Christmas vacation.”

“He couldn’t have stood a chance,” squeals Candi, “I’ve seen you threw out all three hundred pounds of R.J. out on his ear.”

“Well, I was different back then and I had to man up…and man up real fast. I asked for permission to go to the bathroom. I went out the classroom door, then out the school’s front door and I kept on going. I wandered around Elmwood aimlessly, trying to figure out just how I could get my father to put me in another school.

“A lit cigarette went right past my feet, and I looked to see a Catholic priest exhaling smoke on the side steps of a church. Father Fidel was his name and he said, ‘what are you doing cutting school, young man?’ as he took a sip out of his flask.”

“I knew that he was a holy man, but that’s about I knew about Catholics. I told him about my situation and he gave me some advice. He said, ‘tell Mantis that you’ll fight him after school in at 20 Henderson Street, and make sure to say in front of at least four people.’ Then he gave me a ten dollar bill.”

“That wouldn’t be the first time a so-called holy man approached a kid with some money,” sneers Brandi.

“No, it wasn’t like that at all, though he did whisper the rest in my ear and that part made me uncomfortable, until I realized that he being what he was, didn’t want any of his parishioners to hear that.

“I ran out after school, and I got to 20 Henderson Street about five minutes ahead of everybody else, which was perfect. I put that ten dollar bill down, got what I needed and there was about fifty kids waiting for me when I got outside, along with Mantis. He was pacing back and forth like a tiger at the zoo, winding himself up to break out.”

“He waved those long arms of his and said, ‘are you ready to get your ass kicked?’ I told him that he had that all backwards and that he would have to go to the doctor’s, to have his head removed out of his own ass. I ducked under his first punch and I gave him an uppercut, with fist holding a roll of quarters. He flew backwards in an explosion of coins and by the time he hit the ground, three kids were already scrambling for the money.”

“Mantis was woozy and tried to get up, but he was knocked back down by the swarm for the money. He was elbowed, kicked and even punched during the scuffle. When it was over, Mantis was colder than a mackerel, and there were quarters everywhere. I was top dog, and everybody was rich.”

“’Rich?’ You can’t buy anything for a quarter!” jeers Taylor.

“Well, candy bars only cost fifteen cents back then, so that bought me a lot of friends. Father Fidel went through the exact same situation and someone gave him a five, so he used nickels. Well…maybe was he was the original rainmaker.”



The End

15 comments:

David Barber said...

I loved that Cormac. A great story suberbly written. It's good to see something from you. :-)

Pamila Payne said...

What great voices! I've been clickering around over here now and again looking for something new of yours, this was worth the wait. Love your turn of phrase and hardboiled wit.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh, good. No snakes just a mantis. Great job!

Cormac Brown said...

David,

Thank you and yes, I've come out of retirement.

Pamila,

Thank you for the high praise.

Patti,

I was confused about the snakes, but I'm reading Sandra's story now. Thanks, and a long reach can be everything at that age.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Fantastic- Cormac at his most Cormac-esque. Top lines like 'The bartender understood the word “vodka” and the girls understood Washington, Lincoln, Jackson and Franklin.'made my day.

sandra seamans said...

Nice one, Cormac! I loved this vision of all those kids scrambling for quarters!

Dana King said...

The quarters were a nice touch; breaking the roll was inspired. Great story.

Eric Beetner said...

I think all the best stories are told in strip clubs.

MRMacrum said...

Excellent Cormac. Not only did I like the pacing and the plot, your character names made me chuckle. Lamont Hubble - what a great name.

With my background as kid growing up and attending 12 different schools before I graduated high school, I could really identify with the "bully" aspect. I cannot even remember how many battles I had to wage to secure myself at least as someone they did not want to mess with.

Glad to see you putting pen to paper again.

Chris said...

Great job. Loved the subtle nod to the "church" theme by having the priest as a supporting, but critical, character.

Evan Lewis said...

Fine storytelling. Made me take present tense and like it.

Joyce said...

This is great, Cormac. A sort of slice of life thing. Really well done. Loved it.

Dottie (My Blog 2.0-Tink's Place) said...

Great work, priests know all the ins and outs don't they? Poor Mantis never stood a chance.

Dottie

Jimmy Callaway said...

Shit. I wish I'd come up with that plot device. I love when people get beaten with currency.

Cormac Brown said...

Paulie Decibels,

I'm just glad that I found a home for those first two paragraphs. They've been gathering dust since I finished "A Sheep..."

Sandra,

Thanks, I wish I could've done more with that part, but the story is exactly at 1,000 words.

Dana,

Welcome and you should see the looks I get at the bank when I get quarters. I don't get them hip to the fact that they are for laundry.

Eric,

Absolutely, if only real strip clubs were as interesting (besides the obvious titilation).

MRM,

Thanks, it's good to be writing again. "Lamont Hubble" comes from some comedy or show/movie that exaggerates Southerners. I can't remember which, though.

Chris,

Welcome, and I didn't have a choice, as I've only been to church a dozen times in the last decade.

Evan,

Well, I'm glad that I bring you into the present. Though, just like you, I mostly prefer the past.

Joyce,

Thanks and coming from you, that's high praise.

Dottie,

Welcome, and it's always wonderful when someone who has been there, can impart sound wisdom (for lack of a better term).

Jimmy,

Welcome, thanks and nothing is better than knocking someone into next week, with the root of all evil.