Throwing Rice

THROWING RICE Flash Fiction by E.A. Cook

Troy didn’t like to be rushed. Didn’t like that the paparazzi was all over the place on this one. But he was a free-lancer, so it came with the territory. He prefered close-up work, but his employer wanted a distance shot at a celebrity wedding. So he waited from his balcony.

He’d been enjoying the purrs and moans of a raven-haired, well endowed beauty when the call came in to his Manhattan apartment. They needed the shoot done today. In Malibu. He had three hours to catch a flight, the ticket would be waiting for him. Everything he needed would be waiting for him at the Hilton, across the street from the church where the wedding was taking place.

When he arrived and checked-in, the hotel manager welcomed him to California, and handed him the promised equipment bag. When Troy got to his room, jet lagged and grumpy, he checked to make sure the bag contained the right lens for the job, and took everything to the balcony, found a cushioned wicker chair, and started assembling the tripod. Nothing to do but wait now, and watch below as hundreds of guests crowded around the church, cameras flashing all around them. It was two in the afternoon and Troy coudn’t help but wonder why people were using flashes at all. Amatures.
Looking through his lense, setting the focus on the doors of the chapel, he grumbled inwardly again at the distance.
The groom was the celebrity, the bride was a studio executive who had finally netted her meal ticket. Troy had a chance to catch up on the event with a People magazine on the flight over. He didn’t watch T.V., and had never heard of the actor getting married. He was thinking that the bride’s name rang a bell, something from his past, when the doors of the church opened.
It was Mandy on the groom’s arm. Troy had heard she’d been married, and had taken a new last name years ago after she had left him. Mandy was his Red Cross nurse in Kosovo when he’d been shot in the leg doing merc work. They had a two week affair, but in the end she left him saying they had no future because of the way he lived. Troy had never heard from her again.
Setting his cross-hairs on the grooms head, he squeezed off the shot. Blood and gore covered Mandy’s beautifull white dress as she screamed and collapsed unconscious on the church steps.
Packing his equipment, Troy wondered why she was wearing white. Wasn’t there some rule about wearing white if you had been married before?

‘The Breeder’ by E A Cook

Parasitic

I was raised in northern Minnesota. Until I was six I was an only child. My mom married a man with four children, and suddenly I was the youngest of five.

They were already a unit. I was an add-on.

I didn’t know much about my father, except that he had abandon us when I was eleven months old, and that he was never heard from again. As I was growing up I wondered from time to time why he left, and what he was like. I got a hint once when I did something wrong and my mother said, ” You’re going to be just like your father.” As I spiraled downward though my teens and twenties my need to know just what stock I came from became more and more urgent.

I married when I was twenty-one. When I was twenty-six we had a son in the midst…

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‘Salt & Pepper’ by E A Cook

Parasitic

Minneapolis-1983

     Chris was my road-dog. We’d hitched to New York and back earlier in the year. The warm weather was running out. A harsh Minnesota winter was lurking near-by; time for a road-trip.
     We made our plans, and shared our weed, with a couple of other guys from our circle of survivors. We were going to The Big Easy. The other two guys, Tooth and Mike, wanted to come with us.
     Tooth had just done a two year bit in some joint back-east somewhere, and was road material. The other guy, Mike, was a large, pasty faced queen who just jiggled at the thought of going to Nawlins- Land of the Drag Queens. Me and Chris shared a ” Oh, HELL NO!” look at the thought of the four of us on the side of the road.
Trains. It was the only way. And Mike was Tooth’s…

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COOP

October 5th, 1976

Coop died last monday. I met him the day before in a tramp-camp by the railyard in Grant’s Pass. I had just dropped out of an open box that I rode up from Klamath Falls, and headed straight in the Hobo Jungle in search of some wine and a roll-yer-own.

Coop was sitting on a log by the fire when I “Helloed” the camp. He had wine and tobacco but no papers, I had the papers and a union of souls was born.

He was older, so I listened to him tell his tales of living on the rails for five years. He was a west-coast-tramp, never riding any other line but the north/south BN and UP railways. He liked the west coast and said he never wanted to leave.

He never told me how he ended up on the skids…but I know now. He was larger than life to me. When he spoke, his education was obvious as was his toughness. He had a great sense of humor, but occasionaly got quiet and morose as we drank wine, smoked and enjoyed a night around the fire. Two other tramps wandered in the camp, but saw that we were tuned into eachothers rap and eventually they found another place to land.

It was after midnight when we polished off the wine and we were both getting ready to lay out our bedrolls. ” I’m all done, son.” Coop mumbled, then he handed me a map.

“It’s a treasure map, boy. Believe me when I tell you, that treasure has been a curse to me. Ruined me. I can’t go home to my family becuase of it, and without them what have I got? What have I done?!” He mumbled something else and turned his head, and I could see by the rise and fall of his shoulders that he was sobbing quietly.

I took the map, and without looking at it, I put it in my pack and passed out on my bedroll. I was stone drunk and so was he and I didn’t think much of it. Tramps drink, tell stories, and pass out. It’s what we do.

When I woke up Coop was gone, but all of his gear was still around the camp. It happened alot. Some road dog would wander off drunk in the middle of the night, but they always came back for their gear. I stoked the fire, made some coffee in a soup can using a clean sock for a filter, and smoked the stub of a cigarette while I waited for it to boil.

I wanted to leave, but I didn’t want to leave Coop’s stuff for the vultures. I got up and followed the path out to the yard, hoping I could catch sight of him. I did, and I was horrified. What was left of him was on both sides of the fast rail that trains blew through town on. He had done it on purpose, I was sure of it. I thought back to what he said before we passed out, and I knew he had ended himself.

I had to get out of the area, not wanting to answer any questions from the local law. I went back to camp, removed the map he had given me from my pack, and looked it over. It was simple and well made, and explained well how to get to a spot in the hills east of the I-5 about two miles. He had marked the spot with an X.

It took me all day to get there, over rough country and two streams. Behind a thick grove of Ponderosa Pines grown up on the side of a hill, I found a small cave barely 3 feet high and eight feet deep into the hill. Using my lighter for a torch, I crawled to the back of the cave and found the “treasure.” It was a small duffel with a mother of pearl tie pin attached to the handle. Inside was stacks of money!

I scrambled out of the hole and sat on the pine needle covered forest floor and began counting. $123,000 dollars and a newspaper clipping from 1971 with the headline: MAN JUMPS FROM COMMERCIAL AIRLINER AT 30,000 FEET. I read the article and grinned. I was going to miss D.B. Cooper.

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