penpusher: (Trump)
Interviewer: Today, we’re having a discussion about the state of the nation, and we wanted to ask an Average American what they think. Pardon me sir?

Average American White Guy (doing something on a smart phone, glances up and then looks at the camera) Oh, hey.

I: What’s your name?

AAWG: Why do you want to know?

I: I don’t mean to be intrusive.

AAWG: Sure, you did. That’s what all you so-called (makes “air quotes” with his fingers, still holding his smart phone) “newscasters” do.

I: We’re live by the way.

AAWG: In that case let me say to all my peeps out there a big fu—

I: I WAS TELLING YOU - I was telling you we were live to PREVENT you from saying something inappropriate for broadcast.

AAWG: I was only wishing my friends a fun day. What did you think I was going to say?

I: Let’s get to the question.

AAWG: No. First, I want you to say what you thought I was going to say when you interrupted me.

I: I believed you were going to say a word we couldn’t broadcast on television.

AAWG: And that’s why, ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem in this country. The media assumes wrongdoing before it even happens and they base what their reactions and what they show on their own biases.

I: That is a little bit unfair.

AAWG: You came up to me to talk. Then you assume that I’m going to say something wrong? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

I: Let’s get to the question. How are you viewing the country today?

AAWG: First I’m thankful for those that serve in the military. The constant sacrifices of those families is what keeps our country strong and proud. Don’t let what the unpatriotic say and do stop you. Stay strong. America is getting great again.

I: Specifically, what do you see is wrong with the country right now?

AAWG: Mostly it’s the liberal media portraying the president as either somebody who’s evil or somebody who’s stupid. Where was that when we needed it during the Obama administration?

I: So you believe that the Obama administration was evil and/or stupid?

AAWG: I believe that the media never challenged it because they thought they’d be considered (using ‘air quotes’ again) “racist” even though there were hundreds of things they did that were illegal or at least immoral. Call a spade a spade!

I: Can you give some examples of what you’re talking about, either from the Obama side that you think were not reported or from the Trump side that you think are not fair?

AAWG: Come on. You call yourself a (using ‘air quotes’) “journalist?” If you don’t know what these things are, it’s not up to me to educate you. There’s plenty of proof online if you would ever even bother to look.

I: What sort of job do you think President Trump is doing?

AAWG: He’s doing a lot better than anyone is willing to give him credit for. He named a great Supreme Court Justice. He’s building the wall to help keep our border safe, two things he said he would do, he’s got the economy going great and he would have gotten rid of Obamacare if Congress and Mitch McConnell hadn’t screwed it up.

I: How do you blame Congress for that issue?

AAWG: They were the ones who voted to stop it. If they didn’t, Trump can sign off on it and it’s over.

I: And you don’t believe that Trump treating John McCain like something other than a war hero had any effect on McCain’s vote.

AAWG: That’s what I’m talking about. The media ALWAYS wants to blame Trump. Why should Trump be punished for calling it like he sees it?

I: Let me ask you this. How do you feel personally, about your own life and how things are progressing and what you see for the future?

AAWG: I’ll be honest, I’m concerned. Everybody is out to get white guys these days. It’s clearly the worst thing you can be in the United States.

I: No, but seriously…

AAWG: I’m being serious! It’s like being a dirty word or something. You can’t have a march, you can’t be critical of anybody without somebody saying “white privilege.” Let me tell you, I’m not privileged. I had to work hard for everything I got.

I: You do realize that the word “privilege” doesn’t mean you didn’t have to work for what you have.

AAWG: I don’t care what it means to you. I care what it means to ME.


I: I’m just saying...

AAWG: You’re constantly (‘air quotes’) “just sayin’” and nobody is ever really doing. (glances at his phone screen) Look at this, my phone is blowin’ up! Thank my friends for helping your ratings.

I: Speak a little bit more about what your fears are all about.

AAWG: I don’t want to say I side with the Nazis or White Supremacists or anything. I’m not about that in the least. But let’s be honest. They do have a point.

I: Are you really…

AAWG: Now hear me out! Hear me out. When you look at how white guys are treated in this country? It’s like THEY are the illegal immigrants. All the criticism, all the anger is directed at us, and Trump is kind of the lightning rod for that. He is the Average White Guy, and we’re seeing all the hate from everyone who is not. That’s why people hate him. He’s just the white guy and people hate white guys right now. We can’t say a word. We have no voice.

I: Do you really believe that Trump is the Average White Guy?

AAWG: Well he is a white guy, but no, really, he’s better than average. And he’s helping to give us our voice back. You read his tweets. You know what he talks about. This way, he’s going right to the people to tell them his thoughts. They aren’t getting filtered and censored by the mainstream.

I: What would you like to see; what is your best case scenario?

AAWG: I hope that Ginsburg and Kennedy croak so that Trump gets to appoint two more justices to the Supreme Court. I hope that people start holding the people who really are responsible for the problems in this country responsible, like the illegal immigrants who should be kicked out of the country as soon as they’re found, the welfare cheats who are a major tax burden to the hard-working people of our country, the people causing the violent crime who need to be locked up and taken out of our society permanently, and that people like you, in the media, will finally stop poking into areas that nobody cares about. How many times can people ask to see those stupid taxes? How many times can people claim Russia is involved when there is no proof?

I: And what do you think the final result of all of that would be?

AAWG: Making America Great Again! The idea was to go back to a time when America stood for something, when men were men and weren’t afraid to act like it, where women were women and weren’t competing with the men who are working to support them. Where we aren’t flaunting our sexual deviancy for everyone to see. Where we don’t punish a business owner for making a moral decision between their faith and their need to obey a law that is wrong. Where we all stand for the National Anthem. Where we protect against illegals and support those in charge. That’s MY kind of America. And that’s Trump’s America. Welcome to it, unless you don’t belong here.

I: As you can tell, there are strong feelings on both sides of the discussion. And clearly this is how some of America…

AAWG: MOST of America.

I: (using ‘air quotes’) “MOST” of America is feeling right about now. Back to you in the studio.

//

This piece was written for LJ Idol using a prompt from Week [23] of this season’s competition: Backing The Wrong Horse.
penpusher: (History Channel)
It was very warm that May of Eighteen hundred and sixty-four. Unpleasantly hot, truth be told. But the temperature still was not as hot as the hotheads who made that wager.

You’d think that neighbors would get along well with one another. ’Specially those that have so much in common. Jebediah Jehosaphat and Rory Calhoun. Two gentlemen farmers, they were. Each had a spread, parcels of land, acres and acres next to each other and they’d farm cotton crops, and they each put up soldiers as them troops moved through the area, usually north to the front lines, but sometimes south with their wounded and dead.

Let me tell you, these two? They were the cream of the Confederacy. They might have won the war if they’d’ve teamed up and joined the fray. Too busy fightin’ each other, I s’pose.

Oh! But as I were sayin’, that May of ’64, there came this heatwave like we hadn’t had in a long spell. Crickets were chirping without a stop, bullfrogs were looking for ponds but all they found was mud about a foot deep, where there was mud. It was the blazes, even at night, the air was like a wool blanket in a furnace.

I don’t know what got into those two one evening but they must’ve been drinking some rum and chasing it with corn whisky because they started in with their measuring. This one had the largest cotton field or that one had the biggest kitchen. But you could always tell things were about to get agitated when they started measuring each other. It always started with who had the purdyer wife. But this time it turned to who could satisfy, with her womanly attentions, her man.

Maybe Rory said something first, about how Jeb’s wife couldn’t stand the stench of the stink beneath her husband’s male saddlebag, maybe it was Jeb who said Rory’s wife was losing her eyesight from trying to find her husband’s staff, then one of them said something about how the only thing the other one’s wife pricked her finger with was her stitching needle.

Somebody had had enuf, and a challenges were issued. There were some back and forth about it, how to do it and what be the stakes and whatnot, but Jeb, a lawyer by trade, decided to write it all out, legal-like, and they made it official with witnesses watching ’em sign the document.

They agreed to a race. It was gonna be two laps around both their properties. The winner would receive one Confederate Dollar. And the loser would die.

In the week leading up to the race, you could tell, there was pride on display. Word got around to the nearby counties and people started coming to see this big event. You would’ve thought the Circus come to town the way the people were clamoring. Most anything to take their minds off of the war, which tw’ern’t goin’ so well.

Come the day of the race, and a crowd of people showed up in the heat. A lotta folks wanted to be near the finishing line to see the results first hand. But others preferred to be out of the sun and found some shade along the course with some trees. And that were important because of the rules.

There were parasols for the ladies and a drinking gourd was by the well so that the viewers could wet their whistle. It was time to introduce the competitors.

“Hello, everyone! My name is Rory Calhoun, and I am the proprietor of the Calhoun Plantation!”

The crowd applauded mostly to get the air moving.

“My name is Jebediah Jehosaphat, and I am the owner of the Three Js Plantation.”

More applause.

After the speechifying, there came the moment, the two men who would race each other got to lay eyes on one another.

“Hammer?”

“Jesse?”

“The winner of the race will get a week off from their duties, as a part of the prize!”

“The race is two times around the property and the person crossing the line first is the champion!”

The crowd cheered, hoping to cool the air down in any way, most of ’em. And examining the competitors, there was a question whether some of the ladies in attendance were swooning only from the heat.

The two slaves, Hammer for Calhoun and Jesse for Jehosaphat stood next to each other, each shirtless and already glistening with the dew of their bodies. Anyone could see they were evenly matched in height, weight, and muscle tone, each of them valued members of their masters. But that was the thing. Hammer and Jesse were brothers.

“Are both ready?”

The two brothers looked at each other, then looked back and nodded.

“Go!”

And go they did! It was a speedy start as they both took off, keeping stride for stride as they disappeared around the first turn. And that was about when I got involved.

See, I knew there were a bunch of people watching the northern side of the land to make sure these two weren’t gonna run for freedom, so before they got that far, I ran through the brambles and bushes and met them.

“Stop, stop!” I waved them over to the side of the road and I told them what I knew. That the loser of the race was gonna get kilt.

They didn’t want to believe it, at first. But why would I lie, I told them and I told them about the wager. Then it became what to do. If they tried to escape, they would be recaptured and then they’d prob’ly be tortured before getting kilt. And they both got babies born since the war started.

It was Hammer who said “Let’s finish the race in a tie.”

“What’s that gonna do?” Jesse asked. “Won’t that mean we’ll just have to race again?”

“What else is there?” Hammer asked. “Besides, this is just some contest to see who is best. If we both tie, then maybe they’ll see that don’t make no nevermind.”

“Yeah. I guess you right, brotha.” Jesse answered.

Just then, about a thousand yards away, I could see some movement up ahead. One of them spotters was peepin’ down the road. I dashed back through the brambles and they went on their way.

I got back to the house before they crossed the finishing line the first time. Hammer had a slight lead but Jesse was close enough to touch if he fell down. That’s when Jehosaphat brought out his whip and cracked it on Jesse’s backsides. ‘Jesse moved in front in a matter of steps, while Hammer was moving too fast for Rory to do the same. They dashed off out of sight and again toward the northern part of the course.

I couldn’t help but wonder what they were all about. Did they talk on the way? Did they consider trying to make a break? Did they think maybe their women or their babies would suffer because of it? In a way, I started to hope that they did try to get away, ’cause this would have been their best chance to make it.

At the finishing line, I saw that a man was setting up some large contraption. It looked like some sort of picture frame with one big glass eye in the middle of it. I could overhear the man explaining it was to capture a likeness of the end of the race. It kinda looked like some sort of cannon to me.

We waited for them to come around, and I looked to see if their families were around. I was thankful that they wasn’t cause I didn’t want to see they faces.

I could hear shouting. And here they came, around the bend! Both Calhoun and Jehosaphat ran up and started whipping Hammer and Jesse as they started to come down for the final yards. Calhoun would whip Hammer and he’d inch ahead, then Jehosaphat would whip Jesse and he’d move up.

The four men, all running to the finishing line, the two masters flogging their property until the last minute when the masters moved out of the way of the picture maker. Suddenly a flash of white light and the two racers continued past the line, breathless, battered and bathed in their own sweat and blood from their open wounds.

Who won, everyone wanted to know. Many on the inside of the track saw Hammer cross the line first. But the folks on the far side thought Jesse made it first.

The referee said it looked like it was a tie. He couldn’t tell.

The masters decided to wait to see about the picture, so it took a couple of days more, but even the picture had both Hammer’s and Jesse’s feet crossin’ the finishing line at the same time. They did it! Hammer and Jesse did the tie!

Later that day, both masters brought Hammer and Jesse’s families out to the backyard of the Calhoun estate, took them away from their daily chores and had them sit down on chairs. Then they brought out Hammer and Jesse who were busy at work themselves. Then they brought out all the slaves from both plantations to stand behind and view the presentation.

“We had a wager,” Jehosaphat said, “and there was no resolution.”

“We had hundreds of guests to view this race,” Calhoun said, “And there was no winner.”

“So, for that,” Jehosaphat said.

“We now have this.” Calhoun said.

Both men drew revolvers and fired at each other’s slaves. Both Hammer and Jesse screamed a single time before they fell, both hit the ground at the same time, bleedin’ the same blood.

The two slave owners stood over their bodies as they squirmed and watched the last bit of life oozing out of them, frowned up, then caught a glance of each other, lookin’ at the other. Then, they started to chuckle and laugh, before shaking their heads, then doing some backslaps and hand clasps. They waved the rest of us back to our tasks, the mamas trying to hush up their babies, still crying from the jolt and sound of the pistol fire.

After that, the rivalry between those two never much amounted to nothin’. But then again, neither did the Confederacy.

//

This story was written for LJ Idol using a prompt from Week [17] of this season’s competition: Nevermind.
penpusher: (Trump)
Feardeal Academy was a Boarding School in Massachusetts where many of New York’s well-to-do families sent their progeny for their undergraduate studies. It was an institution that taught discipline and obedience but also gave students skills and understanding. It also allowed those parents the ability to have some time to themselves for the bulk of the year at least until June, when there were three weeks between school and the start of Summer Sleepaway Camp season. But it was really about the learning that these second-generation future leaders and future absentee parents were getting that made it worth the exorbitant cost.

By all rights, Tronald Dump probably should not have been permitted to even apply to the school. His parents net income from their real estate business was barely passable at the time of his enrollment. But thanks to Tronald’s father, the real estate developer, Tred Frump (there was a name change along the way, let’s not dwell on it), who got a couple of Feardeal’s board members some commercial property in Manhattan, young Tronald found his way in to the school.

Early on, Young Tronald was quiet and pensive, content to remain an observer, based on how his father demanded he be when they were together. But soon, Tronald was becoming a voice to be heard and a force to be noted. He began becoming a notable classroom commenter and forming coalitions with his fellow students. After a few semesters, the name of Tronald Dump was known by every administration, faculty and student body member.

One day Tronald and some of his pals went to a local eatery, as they would do on a regular basis, taking a Saturday to spend some time off campus. At some point after the crab cakes and before the bananas foster, the conversation turned to the topic of ethics, which was one of the points of discussion on an upcoming exam.

“What is ethics, really?” Tronald asked the collective. “Is it a system of ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ or is it an obstacle to success that we must move beyond to reach a greater truth?”

His friends sat silently, mulling over the concept. Dump jumped in again.

“I think it’s the ladder,” he said. “It’s the way of climbing over and beyond to succeed in a way no one has done before, and in a way no one has thought to try before.”

One fellow was about to reply, when Tronald continued his musing.

“Ethics is something that other people need to deal with in their daily lives. It’s the rules that they have to follow because they don’t know any better!” Dump smiled and sliced into his tenderloin, the blood still dripping from its center and daubed a bit of A-1 Sauce on it before popping it into his mouth. “That isn’t us. That isn’t us. As the future leaders of this country, we have to be able to explore everything. And because we have the money, the intellect and the know-how, we do.”

At first the others remained still, but then a couple began to nod, until all of them were in agreement.

Tronald smiled as he speared a succulent piece of lobster and dipped it into some butter sauce.

“Let me ask you this one, gentlemen,” Dump continued. “We’re starting to see the Negroes getting more vocal. The Negroes of the nineteen-sixties might be trying to get special privileges from the government. Maybe they’ll be moving into your neighborhood? What do we do? How do we handle this?”

Again the rest of the table remained silent as they all thought about the question.

“I’ll tell you what we do,” Tronald said. “We just continue to make and support laws that are to the benefit of those in charge, because that is how we can continue to keep an advantage.” Dump shrugged as he first glanced, then looked deeply into the eyes of the others, making sure he didn’t see any twinge of doubt coming from them.

“I’m glad to see you all are in agreement,” Dump said, finishing off his last savory bite of steak. “To me, it’s important to have a coalition of right thinking, same thinking people who can accomplish a lot. It’s necessary to have that kind of a group because anyone who isn’t thinking the same way is thinking differently, and that gets in the way of getting to the same place, you know what I mean?”

“My father was instrumental, in-stru-men-tal, mind you, about making sure the laws that are on the books are there to help the people they need to help and to not help the people we don’t want them to help,” Dump stated. “My father gave me a lot of good advice as well, and that includes a lot of things that only we should know,” Tronald smiled as he looked around the table at his supporters.

Still later, after the meal was over, Dump had a few more points to make.

“Lads, and I mean this with a great deal of respect, You are a great part of who I am. No! I mean that. Whether you know it or not, you inspire me, you motivate me, you help me. And because of that, I want you to always be a part of my Inner Circle.”

Trump was glowing as he pointed at each of them, until they each broke out into a grin.

“You guys are going to stay with me, because you understand and appreciate me. And I know that many times, many times after graduation, people lose track of one another, or don’t really have time… I’ll always have time for you. I’ll always support you and I’ll always be there for you because you have always been there for me.”

The waiter walked over to the booth with the check, then wordlessly turned and walked away.

“The only thing you guys don’t ever do is cover the bill!” Tronald laughed and went for his wallet. “It’s okay. I’ve got this.”

“We are definitely on the cutting edge. We are on the way to this new decade and beyond,” he winked.

The waiter came and took the bill.

“You can keep that.” Trump called as he stood up and straightened his school uniform, which he wore, even on a Saturday, and waved again to the waiter.

The waiter waved back. Despite his lack of stature relative to the high schooler, the waiter couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for Tronald Dump, who always came in, just as he did today, always to dine, always all alone.

//

This work of fiction was written for LJ Idol using the prompt Going forward
penpusher: (Trump)
Young Tronald Dump’s father, a man named Tred Frump (there was a name change along the way, just go with it) was, early in his career, a modestly successful businessman and real estate developer. He wanted to instill in his son a sense of what is right and wrong, a sense of what is good and bad and how to act and react to any circumstances, both in the world of business and in life.

One day, Mr. Frump had a real estate deal to handle. It was a big project, potentially worth millions of dollars to his company, which would translate to a huge boost for his personal pocketbook.

The deal wasn’t “a sure thing.” In fact, Frump thought that maybe there would be trouble. So, he decided to bring eight-year old Tronald along to his meeting for two reasons. The first was he wanted to indoctrinate his son into what a business negotiation was all about, to give him an understanding of the process and a clear concept of what that meant for the life of a company and their family. But he also was hoping to manipulate and distract the negotiator with a cute kid and maybe get a better result.

Frump tramped in, with his little Dump, behind.

“Sorry. My babysitter went to summer camp!” he said brightly.

Young Tronald climbed into an overstuffed chair next to his father, wearing a serious face just as well as he wore his Brooks Brothers suit.

“You might as well have just sent over a messenger,” came the reply from the attorney representing the project. “This deal isn’t going forward. We’ve decided to go another way.”

“You’re crazy!” Frump harrumphed. “This will provide beautiful homes for all the returning G.I.s from World War II. Well, not ALL, just the white ones, of course.”

“Mr. Frump, you have done other deals with other people, most of them in New York City proper, but here on Long Island, we have our own way of working. I’m sorry to tell you, the Lovitt family has brought in a contractor that they simply preferred in this case and they will handle everything else in house. Good luck in your future endeavors.”

Frump frowned. “Is there nothing I can sa...”

“Please. Don't embarrass yourself.”

After a single glare, a grab of his son and a march toward the door, Mr. Frump walked into the hallway, got down on one knee, straightened his son’s tie and jacket and looked him in the eye.

“I want you to remember what just happened in there,” Tred said to Tronald. “When someone treats you badly, you be sure to treat them just as badly.”

Frump stood and walked over to a phone booth in the lobby and fished out a five-cent piece from his trousers.

“Showing me up in front of my child.” Frump muttered, sticking his finger in the rotary dial and turning. “Hello, may I speak to the Office of Urban Planning?” A pause. “Yes, I have a complaint about an upcoming project that is scheduled to begin later this year... yes, I’ll hold.” he covered the phone receiver’s mouthpiece, chuckled and gave his son a wink.

A few weeks later, during a lavish breakfast, Tred Frump was in a particularly good mood. He put down the business section of the New York Herald, with the headline: Lovittown Deal Inked With New Contractor.

“My son, my son!” Frump called as Tronald wandered into the dining room. “Wonderful news today.” Frump pulled out a chair for his son to sit upon and got him a plate of pancakes, eggs and sausage. “Not only did the company that beat us for the Lovittown project lose their contract, the great people at the Federal Housing Authority have backed our plans for our new urban buildings!”

Tronald sat quietly and listened attentively through bites of his egg.

“Always support the people who supported you. They are the people you can trust,” Frump enthused. “Loyalty, above all else. That’s something that you can’t buy or trade. When loyalty comes along, stick to it like glue.”

Tronald mulled over the concept as he sipped his orange juice.

“Be loyal to those who are loyal to you,” Tronald Dump said. “And cut off anyone who is disloyal.”

“No, no.” Frump corrected. “Listen to me carefully. People being ‘loyal’ are all very well, and you will have employees and tenants and sycophants who are going to be ‘loyal.’” Frump continued. “They don’t matter.” Frump paused a moment to let that thought come through.

Frump continued, “It’s the people who have power, who actually do something to help advance your career, help you achieve what you wanted to do, help to increase your finances that are the people you need to remain loyal to, through thick and thin.”

“I see, Father,” Tronald responded.

“Always remember that, son.”

“I swear, I will.”

Tronald Dump shook his head and blinked out of his reverie. He blankly stared at the TelePrompter with the opening remarks of a speech in the lobby of Dump Tower.

“My fellow Americans.”

Dump read ahead and noted the speech was to do with some violent attack by a White Nationalist group and the death of a protester against that group. He decided to ad-lib.

“Let me say, that we condemn violence of any kind, especially as it relates to humans. But let me say that we condemn all violence from every direction it comes from. EVERY direction, not just one.”

“We know that there is guilt,” he continued, “And we know that this guilt must be shared equally among all the participants.”

A reporter in the crowd shouted, “Are you actually saying that the protestors of this hate group deserve to be blamed equally for the violence that occurred?”

“They were there, weren’t they? Hey! If they did not go to the rally, they would not have been there to be a part of it.”

Several reporters began to shout.

“Buh-buh-buh. Now you shut up with your fake news and your twisting the story stories,” The Tronald demanded.

“Is this to do with the fact that a lot of your voting base were these so-called White Nationalists,” another reporter called.

“Next question.”

“Sir, you haven’t answered…”

Dump glared at the reporter. “I’m not here to answer your fake news questions. You people are always out to get me! You people are constantly harping on every word I say.”

“You don’t get it. I’m here to help this country in every way possible!” Dump stated. “By continuing to criticize me for the little things you think are important, you are preventing me from my vision. Don’t you see how you are the ones that are wrong?!”

The crowd went silent and in that silence, Tronald Dump could see the spirit of his father, smiling up at him. And in that moment, as he remembered the lesson of the Code of Honor he was taught all those years ago, Tronald Dump smiled down on his father as well.

“I’m doing this for you.” Dump said to his vision.

“What was that?” a person in the crowd yelled.

“I’m doing this for you, the American people!”


//

This work of fiction was written for LJ Idol using the prompt Fatal flaw
penpusher: (Playboy)
Previously on “The Fixer…”

Joe Fixadore was booted from the LA Police Force and set up shop as a Private Investigator out of his mother’s basement.

His first client, Gary (who The Fixer insists on calling “Driz”), owner of a literary agency, was being blackmailed by someone using a phony picture of him in a tête-à-tête with a Playboy Playmate as leverage. After being run off the grounds of the Playboy Mansion and losing his car to the LAPD, The Fixer and his client now proceed on foot to meet likely suspects that want to punish Gary for his past actions.

--- )
penpusher: (Playboy)
Joe Fixadore was a policeman in the City of Angels, booted off the squad for a violation he swore he didn’t do those thirty-two times.

Now, he’s an ex-cop with a chip on his shoulder and a grudge to settle and he is determined to even the score and get back on the force.

Joe kept his badge and he kept it highly polished, though he was supposed to turn it in with his uniform and his pistol. He taped over the number and told everyone he knew, and even some people he didn’t know, that he was a “freelancing plainclothes enforcer of the law.” When nobody bothered to contact him, except his former Captain demanding he return the shield, he quickly changed his phone number and started running ads on the back pages of the paper:

ARE YOU IN A FIX? Better get THE FIXER!


Who said you couldn’t give yourself a nickname? That was his nickname: The Fixer. You know, because of the last name. He considered going with an additional slogan – “You’ll ‘Adore’ The Fixer,” but he thought that would be too easy for the cops to figure out it was him.

The Fixer set up operations... )
penpusher: (Pen)
When something was wrong, the thought, the concept that most people had was to fix it. Simply start by correcting the problem. That assumes you know what the problem actually is.

If you are in a circumstance where you do not know what the problem is, you have a preliminary step: that of discovering the problem. But discovering what the problem is requires you to actually be interested in the problem and what issues it is causing.

Enter Christoph. Yeah, he used to just be “Chris” and yes, he could have gone with Christopher, but he figured this way he’d sound more cultured, more downtown. Christoph usually liked to solve problems. He had a bunch of apps on his phone that were problem solving games, where you would maneuver pixelated versions of wood planks so that a particular wood plank would move safely across a screen. Or where you had to get a bunch of similarly colored objects in a row to make them disappear.

But Christoph wasn’t supposed to be playing any of those games right now. He had work to do. Serious work.

Still, there was nothing like the rush of getting a new high score, or better yet, posting it where others could see. Everyone had to like a new high score (meaning more media for the social media) and nobody liked it more than Christoph.

Of course, there was a job to do, first. Can’t sit around all day playing with the phone when there was an issue to resolve. What exactly was the problem? The sooner this started, the sooner he could get back to crushing candy or helping famous cartoon characters from a particular movie studio get across the road.

Okay, let’s focus. Here we are. It seems like there is a person, or entity of some kind, and they are setting off some kind of display or action. Is this being done from a home or a business? Impossible to know. What neighborhoods will it involve? Perhaps this one, since the call came for him to attend here.

It was a highly populated part of the country, with both a standard urban skyline and a lot of smaller residential units just beyond it. But why were the people who summoned him so urgent about the issue? There didn’t seem to be any imminent problems. There didn’t seem to be much of anything at all.

But first, he had to check that signal on his iPhone. WHAT?! Coco just topped his high score in 2048?! How was that possible? Coco, of all people, who nearly always stuck to higher math problems and programming issues somehow decided to play and beat his high score. How many tries did it take? How much did she beat his score by?

It didn’t matter, really. Okay, it totally did matter. And he would take care of that as soon as he took care of this.

So, looking at the information provided, and looking at the area affected, this should be easy. Simply search for the controlling program and shut that down, then go back and find the entity that was using the program and dispatch some authorities to pick them up. It would be easy.

So easy, in fact, that it meant there was time to go back and reassert the high score. Christoph glanced at his watch. 23:25 local time. He could do a quick spin, get the high score back and still have time to complete the task in a matter of moments.

But, for some reason, Christoph was having a problem. As soon as he was getting close to Coco’s high score, his phone would reset. What is this?

After doing a quick examination of the phone itself and then the connection to the app, it seemed that Coco planted a naughty little bug that caused his phone to shut down as it was approaching her high score! That little devil!

Now it would take an extra ten minutes to resolve her minor worm before getting the new high score posted. Won’t she be surprised to see how quickly her score will go away!

Oh, but first, this other issue. Yes. Priorities. What was going on with all of this? Some hacker messing around with something in this neighborhood. What was going to happen? What was the goal? Shut off the water for the area? Cause problems with the power? And who do we think is bothering to do any of that? Some high school kid with too much free time.

Time to run a diagnostic on the grid system while the removal of the phone hack was going on. Concurrent jobs meant success, twice as fast!

Christoph sat back and waited. Whichever finished first would get the attention, first! He had to admire Coco, though. A worm that shut down the phone as the high score was about to go. Why didn’t he think of that? Borderline genius, if he admitted it.

Aha. It was ready to examine. The game app was a minor issue, really, which is how it got resolved so quickly. And really, it’s all about the quick.

A few simple keystrokes, a new code program and done! And sure, he could just send Coco the worm back, but only a lower level gamer would do something like that. And really, Christoph could also insert a ridiculously enormous high score total, but that would not be authentic. And it would be too easy to check. If he did do something like that, it would be a reputation ruiner.

No, the old-fashioned way was the best way. Time to rack up an impressive score in a hurry and to see what else had to be done.

Okay. Now it was time to look at this… what. What’s going on here?

It looks like some sort of object. What sort of object would be moving towards this area? And why was it moving now?

It was a projectile traveling at a very fast rate, and the source was unidentified. Christoph set off to examine the information as it came in, and it appeared as if the object was a rocket or a missile of some sort. But that couldn’t be right. Why would this area be some sort of target? Or why wouldn’t the people that contacted him tell him this was a likely part of the scenario?

It looked like the impact might occur in ten to twelve minutes, depending on wind speed and trajectory.

That left enough time to contact the authorities. Should there be an evacuation? Or could the rocket be stopped. Or did it have to be stopped? After all, we don’t really know what this is. Maybe it was a drill or test case of some sort.

Oh this was bad. It was very bad. Coco had immediately beaten his new score in the interim! But, okay, what about this issue. He probably should ask around to find out who knows anything about a rocket or missile. Calling it a rocket sent less of an alarm out than referring to it as a missile, and there was no need for panic when there was no call for danger.

It did appear as if this was a missile. Maybe this incoming text would answer everything.

“HA. HA. HA.” wrote Coco.

Grr, that will have to wait a minute or two. Maybe this wasn’t some high school kid. Maybe this was more serious? But there still was no reason for this area to be the target of anyone. There were no valuable interests like gold or oil. There were no government entities or other organizations like the United Nations nearby. Who would want to cause any problems here?

It was clear now that it was a missile. But what could be done? Roughly five minutes. If it were a nuclear device, it could devastate a region of ten-thousand hectares in the initial blast. But there didn’t appear to be a nuclear signature coming from the missile.

Still, it might help to know where this was being sent from, to forward that info on to people who might need it. From the looks of it, this was launched remotely and using a somewhat familiar set of intel.

Now Christoph had to actually do some work, triangulating the signal that the missile was receiving and tracing that back to its source. Wherever this thing was going to land, it could create some pretty severe devastation, no matter what.

Christoph checked to see if there were any other messages from Coco. Nothing.

Could it be reprogrammed to go back where it came from, or to detonate before impact? Continuing to scan, it looked like there was not even any explosive on board the missile. That would keep the danger relatively small.

Christoph noted that there was only about two minutes until impact, but as it appeared to be a non-explosive device, now it didn’t matter quite as much. Time to work at that high score!

With just thirty seconds to go and with Christoph right in the middle of his game, his phone activity signal went off. Begrudgingly, he looked his Snapchat.

It was a GIF of Coco smiling, winking and holding a sign that read, “It's Midnight. Looks Like I Got You!”

Christoph disgustedly logged off of the service and tossed his phone back on the desk, just as the roof caved in.

//

This story was written for LJ Idol, using the prompt: Lethargy
penpusher: (Pen)
“Hello there!”

“Hello.”

“And who might you be?”

“My name is Angela.”

“Angela. Is that it?”

“My mom taught me not to give out too much information, especially to adults I don’t know and in threatening situations.”

“I see. Do you feel like you’re being threatened in some way?”

“Actually… um… no.”

“That’s good then.”

“So wait. Who are you?”

“Don’t freak out when I tell you this. But I am an angel.”

“My mom named me Angela because she said when she saw me, I looked like an angel.”

“That’s a lovely thought, Angela. Thank you for sharing that with me.”

“But, I don’t look anything like you.”

“Yes, well, your mother had never actually seen an angel at that time.”

“And, I’m not a guy.”

“No, but you see, angels aren’t actually gender specific because, obviously, we don’t reproduce.”

“Well, you *look* like a guy.”

“We’ve found that humans tend to respond more readily to authoritarian figures who fall into the spectrum of male. If you find this thought sexist, I apologize.”

“So, you’re actually an angel?”

“Don't make me repeat it, Angela!”

“Oh. So, what’s your name?”

“Peyton.”

“Like Peyton Meyer, the guy who starred as Lucas from ‘Girl Meets World’ on Disney Channel. I cried when I heard that show got canceled.”

“Or like Peyton List, the girl who stars as Emma on ‘Bunk’d,’ also on Disney Channel!”

“I never liked that series.”

“Tell me how old you are?”

“Thirteen.”

And how do you currently feel, Angela?”

“I don’t feel… bad. I don’t feel anything.”

“Would you characterize the feeling you have as… numb?”

“I guess so, I mean, I don’t know.”

“You aren’t feeling too cold or too warm?”

“Not that I’m aware. And I’d have to say that normally I would be completely bored if I wasn’t watching something and texting or tweeting about it. Somehow, sitting here and talking to you, it’s strangely okay.”

“I’m glad to hear that, Angela.”

“So, are you like MY Guardian Angel?”

“Me? No. That isn’t my role at all.”

“Oh. Kay. So, why are you bothering with me?”

“Hm?”

“Why are you talking to me, if you aren’t my Guardian Angel?”

“Guardian Angels never speak to their charges. It would only complicate matters in ways that would likely create many more problems than it would resolve.”

“Yes. We established that you aren’t my Guardian Angel. So why ARE you talking to me?”

“Let’s come back to that question a little bit later, Angela.”

“Are you trying to hide something from me?”

“Hide? No. I can’t hide anything from anyone. But the mind needs time to understand and process, so we have to take things slowly.”

“Oh and where are we, anyway? This definitely isn’t my room, and it’s not any place I recognize.”

“Would seeing things that you would recognize be good for you, Angela?”

“Yes. I guess it would, Pey-ton.”

“Don’t be mean, An-gel-a. I’m here to help.”

“This looks like the main lobby of my Junior High School.”

“Yes!”

“How dull. How about this.”

“Alright. Times Square. Certainly not the first time I’ve been here.”

“It's weird that the whole place is empty.”

“That’s because it’s just the location, not the people in it.”

“It seems kind of sad with no one here.”

“Sad? Well, we don’t want that. What if we changed it to the porch and lawn part of your backyard?”

“Fine, I guess.”

“There. That’s more like it.”

“So, is this later, now?”

“Later?”

“So I can find out why you’re bothering with me when you have a whole universe to take care of, I mean there’s probably someone in trouble you could be helping.”

“Oh. That.”

“Or granting someone’s wish! Or, I mean answering their prayer?”

“That’s not exactly how…”

“‘You seem to enjoy being cryptic.’ That’s a quote from my therapist. But it also applies to you.”

“I don’t mean to be cryptic, Angela.”

“I just realized, I’m being a terrible host. Would you like something? A snack?”

“Angels don’t eat in the same way as humans do.”

“I see. I was going to get a glass of iced tea but I’m suddenly not thirsty at all.”

“I understand, Angela.”

“So, there’s more to this backyard than just the porch. Off to the right is about a hundred acres of woodlands. Now that I’m thinking of it, you can suddenly see it over there! Sometime deer come out and sit on the grass. We even saw a trespasser bear one time.”

“That must be fun to have happen!”

“It gets pretty old. Especially when the deer start to eat flowers my Mom planted. She throws a fit. And my dad had to scare the bear with a cherry bomb. Out there, is Dad's little driving range and mini golf set of putting greens. Oh, here’s my dad, now!”

“Angela, there’s something I should tell you…”

“Why is he running in slow motion? And there’s Mom running in slow motion behind him. Even for a dream, this is weird. Is this a dream?”

“Angela I’d like you to listen carefully to me.”

“There’s one other thing in our backyard that makes us the envy of the block. Our Olympic sized swimming pool!”

“Yes. About the pool…”

“Take a look! Isn’t it great? We had it installed during the Rio games last year and I only got to start using the diving board this year! Hey. There’s somebody swimming there, without me!”

“Angela, please listen to me.”




“Angela, do you see that person in the pool, the one your parents are slowly running towards?”

“Of course, I do. I was the one to say someone was in the pool.”

“That someone is you.”

“No, it’s not. I’m here, talking with you.”

“Yes. You’re talking with me. Peyton the Angel.”

“But if that’s me, how could…”

“Did you notice the expressions on your parents’ faces? If not, don’t look.”

“Are you saying that I’m…”

“Here’s the thing. You are at a crossroads, Angela.”

“That sounds ominous.”

“You have a choice! Not everyone gets this sort of choice, especially so young.”

“What are the choices?”

“You can either rejoin your family back here or you can come with me to a new existence!”

“So, what are the catches?”

“Catches? Do you believe I’m out to trick you into some sort of steal your soul bargain? Our side never pulls that kind of guff.”

“I didn’t mean to imply you were trying to trick me, just that usually there’s some elements that come attached to any decision that might make someone consider that choice more carefully.”

“I get it. You’re a highly intelligent being.”

“Am I going to be brain dead or impaired if I stay?”

“No, you should make a full recovery.”

“And what is this ‘new existence’?”

“I can’t tell you anything about it, just that it’s very different from this place.”

“Well, how am I supposed to decide which way to go?”

“I will say this. There is incredible beauty and overwhelming joy if you come with me.”

“But my Mom and Dad will be sad for the rest of their lives if I chose that.”

“It’s not like you’re going to see them. I mean, take inventory. How are you feeling now?”

“I’m okay.”

“So, you’d be okay with leaving them behind.”

“But THEY wouldn’t be okay. They’d be sad, or feeling guilty that I drowned in a pool that they wanted to help make me happy.”

“What if I told you they wouldn’t.”

“They wouldn’t?”

“That they wouldn’t be sad or guilty about this.”

“I wouldn’t believe you.”

“Have I lied to you before?”

“I have no idea.”

“Do you think that angels lie?”

“I… I never thought about it, but if I had to guess it would be no.”

“Then, what seems to be the issue?”

“Maybe you aren’t an angel?”

“Not an angel! Not an angel! I don’t understand how you can say that.”

“You're playing games with me. You are offering me some other existence. You are saying my parents won’t care if I died.”

“I’m trying to help you, Angela, but you have to let me help you. You need to make the correct choice!”

“I thought you said this was my choice! Now, it’s starting to feel like you’re practically forcing me to go!”

“Just release. Fall away. Come with me! Please hurry!”

“I… whoa… blur…”

“Angela?”

“Blur, glub, club, lub… skaaz!”





“cough-cough-cough-hasp!”

“She’s breathing!”

“Thank you, God, she’s back. She’s back!”

“Honey, are you alright?”

“Ca-caa-ahea-ah.”

“I’ll get the car. Let’s get her to the clinic.”

“My beautiful angel. You’re okay! You’re okay.”

“M-Mom.”

“Yes, Angela?”

“I’m… sorry.”

//

This entry was written for LJ Idol using the prompt Turn Back or Forge Ahead.
penpusher: (Pen)
“There’s nothing more terrible than being in trouble, being unable to accomplish the task to which you have been assigned,” stated Tom Higgins, realtor, junior class for Homestead Properties as he spoke to the company's monthly newsletter. “But then, there’s nothing more wonderful than getting your first ever sale!”

Higgins looked out from the windows of the employee lounge. The skyline of Midtown Manhattan never looked so great.

“There’s a certain feeling that happens when you put someone right where they belong!” he exuded. “It’s that distinct response when the person and the property are a perfect fit. My client, Eve was just that person.”

Higgins scanned the blocks, finding first the Seagram Building, then tracing a finger along the glass north and east to the block where the property was located.

“Eve is a woman who needed a change in life, and who had the opportunity to move up. I’m really pleased I could help her.”

“Homestead just acquired a building in Turtle Bay,” Higgins continued. “Fourteen units! And it really was ideal for my client who was really in need of some alone time. Sure, she could have gotten a larger place, say in Inwood, but her commute would have included a bus AND a subway. Here, this charming one bedroom means she doesn’t have to deal with anything but a delightful stroll from the East Side. Unless it’s raining, then hop a cab!”

“What I really loved is how connected and receptive she was throughout the process,” Higgins continued. “It was like we were on the same page the whole time!”

“The very fact that she didn’t know where she wanted to be, that’s where my expertise came in,” said Higgins modestly. “I have been hitting the streets for nearly a year now, and during that time, I’ve worked the pavement from the Hudson to the East, and from the Battery to Grant’s Tomb. I’ve run into the cast of “Law and Order SVU” more times than most New Yorkers have been to Katz’s Deli!”

Higgins paused to reflect. “But that’s why we do what we do. We are here to help our clients find the place that is going to make them happiest. And you know something? A lot of the time, they think they know what that is, but they really don’t. It’s up to us to show them!”

“Yes, sometimes the client will flirt during a visit to a listing,” Higgins bragged. “But the idea is to remain professional at all times. In this case, I know she was interested in more than just the property, but there is an element of decorum that must be maintained at all times. The client isn’t ALWAYS right!” he winked.

“Still, we have to stay on topic, and that means finding the right place to be. And really, when you’re in a great space, that’s in a great place, the rest of your life kind of falls into place, especially if you have a great face!” Higgins nodded. “I’m sure Eve will acquire a whole harem of guys based on her apartment alone!”

“The beauty of New York is that it is a playground, a place where anything can happen, and where everything does!” Higgins stated. "And if it doesn’t go right, that’s what the ‘Missed Connections’ section of Craigslist is for!”

“I use a three-word mantra that gets me through; certainly, it got me through my first year with this company even when I wasn’t closing.” Higgins solemnly said. “It’s something that is so simple, yet many people overlook it. I’m sure you want to know what it is. What three words could allow you to survive in this city?”

Higgins paused for dramatic effect, then broke into a broad smile. “Life is good!”

//

This piece, written for LJ Idol, was created for the phrase: "Location Location Location"

I am teamed with [livejournal.com profile] xlovebecomesher who wrote on the topic "The Distance Between Us" and I hope you give her piece a read as well!

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