This Show Case features three pieces submitted in response to our tenth Writing Prompt: Jangling. You can see responses to each prompt in the drop down menu for this page. Try an item. They are all delicious. We hope they stimulate your mind, spirit, and urge to write. Maybe they will motivate you to submit a piece for our next prompt, which you can find on the Show Case home page.
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Jingle-jangle on, my friend. I’ll miss you forever.
by Mimi Speike
Maisie was a character. I never met anyone I was more in sync with.
Neither of us was in a ‘relationship’. Neither of us had any wish to be. In my case, I’d just come out of a sad situation. All I wanted was to be left alone. Maisie early on had decided the life of a Kansas mouse-wife was not for her. She told her mother, “Me popping out brood after brood? Don’t count on it.”
Her mama always said, “You’ll change your mind when you meet the right male.”
She always replied, “I won’t. I know I won’t.”
Her mama didn’t believe her. I believed her. Same thing happened with me. Neither of us had the maternal instinct.
I was leery of marriage. I viewed marriage as a quicksand. You got stuck in it, unable to pull free. Like what (I observed, surmised, was horrified by) had happened to my mother. As for Maisie, all she wanted from life was to dance. Most of all, she wanted to get the hell out of that cornfield. (Maisie, for those not acquainted with her, is a mouse.)
When I met her, her glory years were long past. Water under the bridge, was her attitude. You pays your money and you takes your chances. She did not anguish over her fall from grace.
But she hadn’t lost her distain for the life she’d been expected to lead back home. (Her inclinations did not go in that direction anyway. Read the book to learn more of that.)
Maisie and me, we loved our martinis. One-two . . . three, sometimes. I’d yak about my childhood in Florida. She’d slam Kansas. And she’d sing to me. She’d climb on ol’ Hoss, the beanbag horsey I gave her for her birthday, and she’d squeal one cowpoke ditty after another, for hours.
Back in the Saddle Again, Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie. Let’s see . . . what else?
She loved–we both loved:
Drink that rot gut, drink that rot gut, drink that red eye, boys;
Don’t make a damn whereso we am, the red eye is our joy.
Drink that rot gut, drink that red nose, when you get to town;
Drink it straight, early to late, while this mean world goes round!
Coma ti yi youpy, youpy ya, youpy ya, coma ti yi youpy, youpy ya.
This refrain wasn’t part of ‘The Cowboy’s Drinking Song’, but by the time we were on our third martini, we hitched it to anything we sang.
I’d forgotten this one–until Sue gave the prompt. Thank you, Sue!
I’ve got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle
As I go riding merrily along
And they sing, oh, ain’t you glad you’re single?
And that song ain’t so very far from wrong.
Maisie added her personal refrain:
Oh, mama mine! Oh, mama mine,
to be popping out th’ young ‘uns is no part of my design.
I’d add mine:
Oh, mama dear! See here, see here.
To be beaten down as you were is my very biggest fear.
We always went at that one a good while. We made up a bunch of alternative lyrics. They don’t come to mind at the moment. This old brain ain’t as nimble as it was.
Those were the days! When you had Maisie for a friend, you laughed all the time. She taught me to yodel! (Many a cowboy song back then incorporated a yodel.) Once I’d got the hang of it, I yodeled anything and everything. Silly stuff, the sillier the better. I cracked myself up with my nonsense.
The other residents of my building, when we met on the narrow stair, I’d yodel “mornin’, folks.” They’d stiffen and hug the wall and let me pass. That cracked me up too. Everything seemed to crack me up in those days. The decade I lived with Maisie (she passed over in 1988), I was never depressed. Those years were the best years of my life.
Jingle-jangle on, my dear, dear friend, wherever you are. I’ll miss you forever.
A Love Story
by GD Deckard
In the beginning, there were only a few. But their numbers grew. Inevitably. New people continued to be born and died and the dead soon outnumbered the living.
“Five percent?” Riley hadn’t been paying attention to the new doctor. He was sitting in the hospital room with his dying wife. The unexpected woman standing by him wore a name tag, Dr. Lorelei Jangles.
“Roughly, yes. That is all we can sense. Everything on Earth, everything possible to observe with instruments, adds up to less than 5% of the knowable universe. The rest is dark energy and dark matter.” Doctor Jangles smiled kindly at him.
Something about the woman with the kind smile and the white coat irritated Riley. And he didn’t understand what she was saying or why. “How does that help my wife? She will be dead soon.”
“Converted. Life is a fundamental property of the universe. Life cannot be created or destroyed.”
Riley regarded the doctor as if she were a simpleton.
She nodded as if to encourage Riley’s understanding. “Your parents did not create the life in you. They only passed life on to you from their own parents.”
“What kind of a doctor are you?”
Doctor Jangles shook Riley’s hand. “Astrophysicist.” With her other hand she pulled up a chair. “When your wife converts,” she leaned in close, “Would you like to go with her?”
“Uh.” Now that Riley saw her up close, he found her quite unattractive: A bulbus head, not enough hair, skin the pallor of old tennis shoes, a nose obscured by nostrils, lips thin as a razor cut, and crossed eyes which she managed to individually animate by twitching her brows at random.
“I can make it happen,” Jangles winked.
Suddenly nervous, Riley averted his stare and stood. “I wish to be left alone with my wife just now, thank you.”
Jangles stood, a motion that seemed awkward, as if moving her limbs failed to give her balance. She rose to her full height, a few inches taller than Riley, and teetered. “Very well. I will take a seat in the hall in case you change your mind before it is too late.” With that, she turned, and muttering something about physics and gravity, she fell towards the door, managing to open it at the last moment to complete her exit without incident.
Riley turned and took his wife’s hand. “That woman was getting on my nerves.”
Orlana smiled up at him. “I believe her.”
“Believe what?” He’d always loved holding her hand. The hands, he knew, connected to a disproportionately large portion of the brain’s sensory input. Riley could not imagine never sharing her hand again.
“That I’m not really dying.” Orlana had the same look on her face as when she propped herself up in bed on one elbow to tell him something in earnest. But she lacked the strength for that now. “Come closer.” He leaned to her. “Come with me.”
“What do you mean, love?”
“I think she can do it. Send you with me, I mean.”
“Well, yes, but….”
“Good,” he heard Jangles say from behind. Had he heard the door open? Riley whirled. “What the devil!? Get out of here.” Just as suddenly, he felt his flare-up fade. This was no place for anger. He waved a hand dismissively, “Just go.”
“But I understand her. I was married once.”
Numb, Riley could only ask, “What happened?”
“He died. I put him in a box and called a freight company. Shipped him back to his ex-wife.”
That did it. Riley exploded. “Get the fuck out of here!” He glared at Jangles. “You may be a woman but if you keep acting like … like death gone crazy, I will throw you through that door!”
Lorelei Jangles returned Riley’s glare. “Why does everyone assume death is a man?”
Stunned, Riley barely felt his wife’s hand squeeze his. But she knew him. He felt her squeeze tighter.
“Hear her out, dear.”
“I mean, why can’t women meet a woman death?” Dr. Jangles looked about for a chair and sat. “Excuse me.” She breathed deeply and settled in. “I never will get used to this physical universe. But look, I’m not the cause of death. And everything in this damnable universe has to have a cause, doesn’t it? I’m a facilitator between existences and I’m here to help you with your transition, Orlana. And you,” she locked eyes with Riley, “You’re one of those close couples. You’ll follow her in a short while, anyway.”
“I believe her.” Orlana whispered.
“Where?” Riley wanted to know. “Where are you taking her?”
“Somewhere in the other ninety-five percent of the universe. The realm of the dead. I can’t describe it.”
“The dead outnumber the living, huh?”
“By far. Obviously. And no, I can’t describe being dead to you, either. We don’t share words for that.”
Riley didn’t want to die. But he was not going to let go of Orlana’s hand. “How does it happen?”
“Well, you get the reference to my first name, don’t you? Forget my last name. It was assigned. But I chose Lorelei because of the legend that the sirens lured sailors to their death.”
“Sailors are known to have questionable tastes in women.”
“They rarely love the way you love her, Riley. Orlana’s your siren. Listen to her.”
And he could. The feel of her hand spread through him like a song. Something happened. But there are no words to describe it.
by S.T. Ranscht
Sitting waiting not
for his master’s voice but when
keys jangle heart leaps
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