Archive for January, 2008

Microfiction – 028/365

Monday, January 28th, 2008

What is this about?

Nosedive

The plane had crashed forty-seven feet away from where Cooper had been standing. He was pretty sure it was a twin engine Cessna 340. Maybe the more powerful 340A. What the impact didn’t destroy, the explosion and fire finished off, reducing the house and aircraft to a smoldering mess that also consisted of the four bodies of those people who had been flying as well as the young couple, who’d just moved in last month.

He’d told the FCC investigator that he’d heard erratic low flying back and forth across the airspace over the neighborhood for about a minute before the crash and had come from the study to the east-facing window of the dining room to see what he could see, which wasn’t much. In fact the only thing he actually witnessed was the Cessna’s final two seconds when it came into view inverted and nose-first and very fast with only about a 100 feet or so before impact. If it hadn’t shown up just then Cooper would’ve stepped outside and pretty much would’ve been killed. Instead he had just enough time to hurl himself down to the hardwood floor and pull into a standard duck-and-cover a moment before his house shook as if in the midst of an earthquake or tornado and all the windows on that side blew inward in a ghastly invasion of heat and noise and pressure.

And now in the aftermath he stood again at what was left of the window and pondered why things happen the way they do and how easily it might’ve been him and his house smoldering instead.

Ooooh, Mercier Mercier Me…

Monday, January 28th, 2008

 

Since the new singlespeed freewheel and caliper brakes aren’t going to be here until tomorrow, I’ll probably bring her home tonight all packaged up and wait until Tuesday evening to de-box her and commence assembly.

A stop at Orange 20 Bikes might be in order for some cabling and cable clamps.

I’ll be aiming for a Thursday inaugural ride, but there’s a chance it might not be until Friday’s first RIDE-Arc of the year.

King Of Spain

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Wow. That was weird. I’m out $15 and a couple hours sleep because of it.

The doorbell rings. Ranger barks. I’m awake. The clock reads 3:51 a.m. On the one previous occasion where we’ve been awakened by visitors at such an unsociable hour it’s been the cops and they did a whole lot of pounding and yelling incorrectly thinking I was the owner of a car whose alarm had been going off for hours.

I think: what now?

I pull on shorts and a shirt and approach the foyer. Susan follows me and watches from the livingroom. Through the glass in the door I see a solitary figure standing there, head bowed. The black jacket makes me first think police, but the heavy white sweater and the scarf the man wears beneath the jacket knock that down.

I open the door and immediately the guy in thickly accented English tells me his name is Juan Carlos and launches into a convulted story involving a truck with a broken transmission, something about his wife being away with the baby and his credit cards, and he only has $75 and the tow truck guy needs another $25 before he’ll do anything.

And I’m all huh?

He goes on to tell me that he’s a neighbor having just bought the “big place on the corner.”

“The red house?” I ask.

“No, the big place.”

I figure out he’s talking about the recording studio that once was a Pacific Red Car maintenance facility. Sure, it received a paint job a few months back but I hadn’t even seen so much as a For Sale shingle for that multi-million-dollar property.

Inside I’m skeptical, but outside I’m unable to just say no and slam the door. Instead I ask him why us and he says something about his next door neighbors not being home. I tell him that I don’t have $25 cash, I have $10, maybe $15. He counters that obstacle by saying that’s fine, whatever you have… anything.

I’m not stupid. Half asleep maybe but not a total idiot. Warning bells are ringing inside my head: the convenient story of woe; the “neighbor in distress” angle made more implausible by unlikely and apparently recent home purchase; the needing $25 but being willing to accept a lower amount. It’s all adding up to appear like a strange new waaaay-too-early residential version of those tweakers who’ll hit you up in supermarket parking lots needing gas money to get them and their children back to El Segundo.

Even so, color me the sucker: I still retreated to my wallet and returned with $15 that I handed over to him. Why? Maybe because it was easier way to get the guy gone than just saying no. Maybe there was a part of me that admired the balls it took to walk all the way up the stairs to wake a stranger up and ask for money. Maybe a veeeeeeeery small percentage of me believed he was telling the truth.

Whatever my reason, he was grateful and shook my hand, telling me “My home is your home” and promising to have the cash back to me under the front door mat later on in the morning.

Since I’m doubtful that’ll ever happen I should’ve told him to keep it and apply it to a AAA membership.

Survey Says! Click here to vote chump or champ?

Skull-diggery

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Found on the front of Monkeyhouse Toys store on Silver Lake Boulevard (click to triplify):

wallart.jpg

Microfiction – 027/365

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

What is this about?

Reinforcements, Part II

The copters swept in low over the mansion and nightsun lights momentarily lit up the study. Harris briefly surveyed the corpse before him then leaned against the desk, grabbing Sheridan’s Blackberry.

Up and out of the room, Harris looked through a window at the end of the hall and saw one of the helicopters touching down on the motorcourt. The second one he guessed was landing in the back. Almost tripping over the body of one of Sheridan’s men, he knelt down and recovered a Mac-10, still warm. Rifling through the goon’s clothes he found a tin of Macanudos, a Zippo lighter, but no extra mags, dammit.

Bouncing on his good leg which made his wounded shoulder hurt all the more he made his way down the servants staircase to the kitchen where he saw four men running from the airship in the backyard toward the house. At the same time the front door crashed open and loud voices sounded. All he could do was dive through the basement door, half falling in the dark down the winding, narrow staircase to the floor. Pain from the gunshot wounds was excrutiating and he squatted on the concrete floor for a few moments trying to will the sting away.

A snake like Sheridan had to have an escape route, Harris thought while footsteps pounded up the stairs. Then the backdoor smashed open and cab held his breath, aiming the barrel of the machine gun at the top of the stairs, but the quartet of killers thundered through the kitchen ignoring the basement. For now.

Taking a deep breath, Harris prayed that there had to be a tunnel of some sort. Pulling the lighter out of his jacket he flicked it, waving it back and forth in a desperate search of the chamber’s walls. Swinging around in a half circle, the Zippo’s flame suddenly illuminated a tiny pair of bright blue eyes that blinked back at him wide and afraid.

Heart leaping in surprise and shock, he reached forward and slowly peeled the dirty gray duct tape from the mouth below the eyes that he instantly recognized.

“Daddy!” his daughter cried, and as if the result of some sort of operant conditioning, tears fell from his eyes upon hearing the word. In the flickering flame light, he was staring at his little girl. Quickly unbinding her hands and ankles, she leapt up and threw her arms around him, blowing out the flame.

“They told me you were dead, Daddy!” and they just held each other in the darkness.

“They lied to me about you too, Siena.”

A yell came from upstairs and footsteps suddenly pounded down the main staircase. This was no time for a reunion, He held his daughter out at arms length and reignited the Zippo.

“Siena, listen to me. Do you know if there’s any way out of here?”

Almost too calmly she walked beneath the staircase and into the darkness as footsteps thundered back into the kitchen and stopped. Harris let the room go dark again and heard safeties being switched off and heavy breathing and pictured all of Sheridan’s second wave circled around the basement door.

A latch clicked and her daughter whispered, “This way.” Diving under the stairs he pushed his daughter into the dank, narrow opening before climbing in on his hands and knees. Reaching back to close the door, he heard the bounce and clang of something coming down the steps. He had a good idea what it was and turned away from the door.

“Fire in the hole!” came the yell from above, and Harris filled the crawlspace and braced for the explosion.

The Wright Stuff

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

flw.JPG

Last opened to the public 16 years ago, you can bet when I heard a couple weeks ago that a tour was being offered at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Millard House (aka “La Miniatura”) in Pasadena I didn’t waste much time getting two tickets for Susan and I today to see this remarkable piece of Southern California’s architectural history.

Photographs weren’t allowed of its extraordinary interior, but I snapped away on the outside. Flickr set viewable here.

Microfiction – 026/365

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

What is this about?

Reinforcements

Sheridan tried to sit up again and speak, but was overcome by his lungs slowly filling up with blood and succumbed to a horrible series of coughs. From somewhere behind that terrible sound came that of a helicopter — maybe two — coming into range, and getting louder.

“Ah,” Sheridan sighed with a crooked smile, “reinforcements.”

“The police?” Harris asked, and Sheridan chuckled.

“Hardly,” he said and with some pained effort rolled himself to his side and propped himself up on an elbow to look directly at Harris. “You fought your way in here very well and very effectively. Killed eight of my men —.”

“Don’t forget the dog,” Harris said.

“Ah yes,” Sheridan let loose a wet, hacking cough and wiped blood from his lips. “The dog, too. But in the process it looks like we’ve left you with a couple of parting gifts, as well.”

Harris shifted and winced when his wounded shoulder balked at the move.

“They might hinder your effectiveness now that you’re going to have to fight your way back out.”

The sound of the copters, definitely two, indicated they were close.

“Pity I won’t be there to see you die.” Sheridan offered.

And Harris thought of Jessica, slipping from his grasp on the Vincent Thomas Bridge. And Ross, his best friend, dying under the wheels of the Metro Redline. And his daughter Siena. All dead, and all because of Sheridan, and he refilled with a rage that allowed him to sight his gun right between his father’s beady little eyes.

“Make that two dogs,” he said and pulled the trigger.