Hospital White (Ronovan Writes #13)

I wrote this for Ronovan’s Flash Fiction Challenge #13. The directions include:

Take your favorite quote from a movie and use it as inspiration for your entry this week. If you want more direction, make it the last sentence in your piece. (REQUIRED) OK I may have used a book quote, but who knows they may have made it into a movie.
Word Count of 500. (SUGGESTED)

“Hospital white”, it was everywhere I looked, including the ceramic tiles on the wall, the curtains separating the patients in the semi-private rooms, and the food trays wheeled down the hall to patients who had no interest in the flavorless food.

From in the hallway, I could sense the grief of my family. It was as if they shared one thought, one heartbeat while watching the heart monitor. The synthesized sound that mimicked the bouncing flashing lights had been muted. Captured scientific notations printed on strips of papers that bled silently into a waiting basket.

They were alone in the room witnessing his final breaths.  The nursing staff maintained a distance to allow them to witness his final moments. They would only intervene if needed or requested; no one expected any miracles to occur. Any silent prayers made were for a pain-free exit for him and relief for those sharing this final act.

I waited in the hallway, leaning against the wall like an extra in one of those sad black and white movies. I could hear my mother calling for me, but I couldn’t answer. She would have to rely on my sister’s strength to see her through this event. I had been gone for a long time and she had taken over my role in the family.

My father had been a strong man, who did not ask for favors. He worked hard all of his life and expected his children to do the same. He expected me to work hard and replace him later as the man of the house as he had done for his father. The tradition was strong in our lives, as the family pictures on hallway wall reminded us.

My father worked as a mechanic but he was much more. For us and most of the neighbors, he was a “fixer”. He was the one everyone turned to get things to run. He had a magical touch when it came to the worn tired machines we and the neighbors had. He could grease and massage our “treasures” back into life when pulled from the trash of the people who lived on the other side of town. He was a magician that waived a wench and wove electrical tape and bailing wire into intricate repairs. He was constantly repairing bikes, trikes, and wagons for the neighborhood and the children loved him for it. I was proud to be his son.

The nurse walked past me into the room; apparently some piece of equipment attached to him indicated the end was drawing near. She reminded everyone to expect labored breathing and he might struggle for air, but it would pass quickly as his body relaxed. For the moment, he was resting quietly. My sister held onto my mother’s hand and sobbed quietly.

Ten years ago at dad’s retirement party he spoke to everyone about how he wished I had been there. He told everyone how we had rebuilt a car together and how I had rewired the ignition without any help. He said I had been so proud of that and how we loved to go together for rides in that old car we rebuilt together. Dad cried when he went on to tell the story of my death a year before.

I heard the doctor tell the nurse, “it will be over soon, call the priest.”

When I saw Dad coming out of the room to greet me, I reached into my pocket and grabbed my keys. “Dad, let’s go for a ride.”

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “All stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.”

-Clarence Holm

The force that holds us
Can bridge distance between us
-Our love works that way

-Clarence  Holm


Within The Sounds of Silence

Prompt For Ronovans Writing Challenge #11
Use the first line of one of your favorite song and begin your story with that line.
Maximum 300 words.

Within The Sounds of Silence

-Clarence Holm

“Hello darkness, my old friend!” I said to myself while drinking the smooth aged whiskey poured over the rocks. The ice cubes clinked when I set the glass down. Then I emptied my cash and pocket change on the bar, grabbed my hat, and headed for the door.

“Hey, you’re a buck short!” called the bartender. “Keep it!” I said as the door closed behind me.

I squinted in the afternoon sun as I trudged to my second-floor office in a brick building, just two blocks away. The building has been home to a number of main floor businesses, including a real estate office and a pawn shop.

Today none of that would matter.

The door to my office was visible from the top of the stairwell. What use to be a frosted glass now featured unfinished plywood and the broken deadbolt lock had been switched to a steel hasp holding a large padlock. Unfortunately, I’d found over the years that the lock’s bulk didn’t matter to my night time visitors. That’s why the office only contained a few items, a desk, two chairs and a couch – nothing of value to the neighborhood punks, who had long since stopped breaking in out of disappointment.

But none of that bothered me today.

I unlocked that door and switched on the overhead light. I sat down at the desk covered with a coffee cup and food stains left from over the years. I reached into my shoulder harness and pulled out the snub-nosed 38 that was my constant companion. I had only used it twice in business and both times I had missed, but both times that had been good enough.

“Today would change that.” I thought as I pulled the trigger.

Small Town Living (Fiction)

(Flash fiction character introduction)


Boudoir Elite

In 1965 they were the city’s true blood establishment, past faded winners of local beauty pageants, and now resplendent in their disdain of all things deemed inferior! They were the old vipers who use to meet at the coffee shop for their morning swig of caffeinated venom? They had hair that was teased into a bouffant and doused in spray lacquer. Their blood-red lipstick smeared on their coffee cup and their crooked smiles.

Smoke drifted from their mentholated Kools that seemed permanently stuck between yellowed fingers. The only thing that smells worse than the stinging smoke lingering around them, was the fetid bath waters they soaked in.

Their only purpose in life was to make sure they had it all. Unfortunately with no understanding, much less an appreciation of the effort required to produce anything, they could only consume. They were like the sows in the pen, mindlessly eating anything in their trough and defecating on anything else.

To someone willing to patronize and feed them, they were the perfect tools of destruction. All one had to do was to heard them in a direction and watch them devour the designated target. Yvonne Gregoire, wife to the mayor and President of Cities Fine Arts Council, knew precisely how to drive this sounder of swine.

-Clarence Holm

A flash fiction exercise in character development, comments or suggestions are welcome.

(Any resemblance to real people is coincidental and certainly not caused by a slightly vindictive memory.)

RONOVAN WRITES Prompt Challenge #3 –Friday Fiction

This is the first time I have ever tried writing a piece of fiction to share.  I am understandably nervous about the prospect of rejection and ridicule. Luckily I am emboldened by the feedback I have received from previous postings about family memories, poetry, photography and Ronovan’s Haiku challenge.  So nothing gained shall be my mantra.

“Number 26”

-Clarence Holm


For two days, the 757 has occupied the runway, commanding the attention of the world. The great Rolls Royce engines stood silent, yearning for the sky. Camera lenses capture the unmoving exterior of the plane, the stillness broken only by the sudden drop of a body to the tarmac below the cargo door.

The latest body was identified only as “Number 24” “Number 26” by the press, continuing the two-hour cycle between killings.

To the outside world, it seemed so surreal. The rear exit door would open and a body would tumble out. A few minutes later an armored vehicle would approach, towing a steel canopy allowing medics to retrieve the lifeless corpse under metal cover. It was an intricately choreographed dance preformed without words or music for a captivated national television audience.

Oddly there has been no contact with the hijackers, no list of demands, and no proclamation of a righteous cause. It was a silent picture, punctuated by rhythmic death.

Unseen by the public were the 200 remaining passengers and flight crew. Mixed in were the 6 hijackers who brandished weapons and bombs planted by a confederate who worked for a catering company, providing pre-packaged passenger meals. They had waited till the plane was airborne before retrieving their automatic weapons. Once armed, they rounded up the flight attendants and brought them to the closed cockpit door and began shooting them in their knees, within sight of the locked door. The sound of their screaming could be heard throughout the plane. Only than did the hijackers demand to have the door opened or they would kill the wounded attendants, one by one.

After the sounds of two more shots, the cockpit door opened and the pilots surrendered. They were given orders to return to the Dallas airport to await new instructions.

Upon landing they taxied to the middle of the runway and shut down the engines. Then the first of the two attendant bodies were thrown from the plane, followed by the second, two hours later. The next four victims were chosen at random every two hours, with no attention to age race or sex. Then the hijackers added an additional cruel twist. They threatened to start killing children unless the passengers themselves chose each new sacrifice to their unknown cause. So it had gone for the next 36 hours.

I was one of the remaining prisoners who could easily be chosen to be executed next. I could be Next! I remember our decision to place our names and seat numbers into a bag of potential sacrifices. In exchange we were given a promise from the hijackers to allow the 25 children under 16 to not be included in this macabre lottery.

Each succeeding lottery brought the same sense of terror, relief and shame. Terror that I might be chosen, followed by relief that I wasn’t, than shame at my realization that someone else had been selected and was about to die.

As the time approached for the next lottery, the cabin of the airplane was calm with soft sobs filling the air. The remaining untreated attendants who had been shot, had long ago passed out from blood loss and were tossed into the galley where they awaited their almost certain death. The smell of their blood was in the air. It reminding me of the butcher shop our family lived above in our small town in North Dakota. The salty sweet smell reminded me of the pleasures of youth, but at the same time caused me to be repulsed at the senseless slaughter of these innocent humans.

I thought to myself if I were to die it should be for some noble cause, but these people had not given us a reason for their actions. It appeared they were soldiers following orders from some barbaric group. Perhaps if I thought they were avenging some atrocity it would make more sense, but no words were exchanged as the next name was drawn.

They called out a seat number and a name and I thanked God it wasn’t me. Then a young woman screamed “No!” and buried her head into her sister’s shoulder. The hijackers came down the aisle and grabbed her by the hair. A big white bearded male dragged her to the back of the plane and she continued to scream until a shot rang out.

The rear door opened and “Number 25” fell from the plane.

I and a number of people vomited from the horror of the show. It was not the first time I had thrown up and I was sure it wouldn’t be the last. My mind went into a type of shock; friends I had known in childhood surrounded me. They offered me comfort as I drifted with the memories of the old school yard. Rodney and Paul spoke to me for the first time since their death in that car/train accident on the way to the junior high game. They told me I would be okay, that this was only one part of me.

I fell asleep for the first time in over forty-eight hours and dreamed of my parents.

I woke from the deep slumber as I heard my name and seat number called. I was confused, was I still dreaming? The big white man grabbed my shoulder and pulled me to my feet and shoved me to the rear of the plane. I fell to the floor in front of an open cargo door. and as I looked up to see his gun posed in front of pointed at my face then it went off and he smiled at me.

“Number 26” fell from the plane.

Flash Fiction – The Opossum

Thought I would try my hand with a new medium. I have been reading quite a few of these flash fiction efforts and like the way ideas are presented, like personal glimpses of a bigger story.

I am definitely interested in everyone’s reaction to this story

She seemed unsteady tonight. The opossum rubs up against my leg, just as she had for the last two years in this camp. When I reached down to pick her up, my hand came away covered in pus from a wound on her back that had erupted from my touch.

I instinctively knew she would be dead soon, the victim of her primordial urge to fight others of her own kind. Their razor like teeth had punctured her skin and had become a breeding site for the infection that now doomed her to a horrible death within days. With no medicine or antibiotics at my disposal, the only way to help the animal would be to end its suffering quickly.

She had stumbled into my bunk during the first week of my internment, just a small scared animal seeking the warmth and comfort of a bed. We were alike, each lost in our journey, each trying to survive in a new reality. Both of us are ejected from our pouch and now prisoners of this war.

-Clarence Holm