Holiday Short Story 2016!

Hello!

Every year I like to do a creative thingamabob for the holidays. It started with short stories and now it’s kind of going in the direction of an open mic. (It’s a mix you see?) It’s one of the few traditions I have here at Flobito.com. Check out some of the past entries.

2011   2012    2013    2014   2015

This is a short story I call “With Prejudice”

 

With Prejudice

 

   The wind was especially harsh this evening.

I glanced at my watch and realized I had been waiting at this park bench for almost two hours. What started off as a fun diversion turned ghastly, as the temperature felt as if it were falling by the minute.

   New York’s Central Park truly is an oasis in the concrete jungle. Even though the majestic scenery by day gives way to the unknown by nightfall, there was still a magic about literally sitting in history. Surrounded by steel and glass on three sides, I peered into the unknown on the far side of the park. It would be only a matter of time now.

   I used to be the kind of guy who loved Christmastime. As I got older, I was more likely to equate the bitter cold and long lines at shops to the holiday more than gingerbread men and Santa Claus, but I was more or less the cynical sort. Still, I waited on this park bench for someone I hadn’t met before. I suppose optimism wasn’t completely lost on me yet.

   About six months ago, my law firm corralled all of us in the room to say that we were having our best year ever. Truthfully, a lot of that had to do with me. Intellectual property wasn’t our firm’s forte, but it was mine and I was damn good at it. I took on (and won ) a whole string of cases while creating a whole new revenue stream for the firm. I was riding high, to say the least. Anyway, back to that meeting in the summer. My boss says that due to our tremendous growth, they’ll be promoting one person to partner.

   Let me tell you, had they promoted me this story would be over.

   Instead, the promoted Jensen. A cool guy surely, but I had a deep feeling in the pit of my stomach that the upgrade should have gone to me. When I pressed my boss he made an excuse that since we were a firm that “gave back” and I had no community involvement to speak of, this promotion wasn’t mine to take. Did you get all that?

   Devoting myself to nothing but my job cost me a promotion. Seriously.

   I spent the next couple of weeks looking at ways I could plug that hole. Sure I could throw money at a bunch of charities and call it a day, I instantly fell in love in an organization called the Pepper House. Named after my neighborhood in Pepper Hill Brooklyn, the charity paired “successful professionals” with at-risk youths for mentorships. I figured, how hard could it be? An hour a week for six months and boom, objectives met right?

   I was paired with a six-year-old boy named Henry. Besides the fact he reminded me of myself, I admit I quickly took a shine to him. Maybe it was because he was honest, or younger than the other kids in the program, or–like me– didn’t have his father in his life, Henry definitely turned the chore of community service into something I looked forward to doing every Saturday afternoon at 1 P.M.

   It was just this past Saturday when I took Henry shopping in on Liberty Avenue  just two days after Thanksgiving. On a day devoted to patronizing small businesses and shops, I wanted to give Henry a bit of a watered down, belated Black Friday experience, especially since his mom avoided that catastrophe like the plague. On an abnormally balmy November afternoon, we were just a couple of guys walking the strip with ice cream. It would be incredibly manly had it not been completely adorable. Anyway, after taking a bite out of my cookie dough cone, I asked him:

   “So, are you excited for Christmas?” I tried at the sort of veneered smiled single people tend to throw at children.

   “Yeah,” Henry said. “Christmas is my favorite holiday. Well, usually.”

“Oh?” I said. “Usually?”

He frowned. “This morning I told mom what I wanted for Christmas. She said she’ll try but…”

   “But?”

   “I think I made her sad.”

   I had known Henry’s mom was going through a lot, but I never quite knew what exactly. While I wasn’t one to get involved in other people’s personal matters, I can tell you this afternoon felt different. Maybe it was the holiday spirit or maybe it was the manly ice cream coursing through my veins, but I got myself involved.

   “I’m sure your mom wasn’t sad,” I said to Henry. “What did you want for Christmas, anyway?”

   His eyes lit up.

   “Oh my gosh,” he said. “There’s the brand new Silverstreek action figure with the actual working Skygear and alternative ‘Nightfall’ armor and…”

   “Hold on, hold on,” I said. “Silver what?”

   “Silverstreek!” Henry smiled. “He’s the best comic book superhero ever! And he flies, too! Skygear makes him soar!”

   It started coming together. “So you want an action figure of a superhero that actually flies?”

   He nodded enthusiastically

   “That actually sounds pretty cool,” I said. “I can get you one of those for Christmas, no problem!”

   I zipped up my jacket as I sat on that bench in the park. A peeked at my cellphone, looking for a text message or an email. Nothing. Rubbing my hands together, I silently wished I took the extra moment brought a pair of gloves. I shook the idea from my head. Being out here was my penance for keeping a promise I almost couldn’t keep. The Silverstreek action figure was apparently the “hot toy” this year. Stores have been sold out of the figure for months and I had a sinking suspicion Henry’s mother knew that. Not that it mattered now, it was my problem now. I found one online on auction site earlier tonight. Rather than risk the guy shipping the figure through the mail and hoping it arrives on time, I requested a local pick up. Central Park seemed like the best idea at the time. Hindsight is 20/20 they say, because now if I had the chance I would’ve opted for a coffee shop. Yet here I sit. Waiting for my chance to be a hero.

   I must’ve gotten lost in my thoughts because after what felt like seconds after my last memory, a burly, bearded man stood over me holding an opaque plastic shopping bag.

   “You BigKnicksFan82?” He snarled.

   I nodded as I stood. This is my guy. My version of Santa Claus looked like he would be more at home at an antique bookstore more than the North Pole, but there were more appropriate times to be judgmental, surely.

   “Yup,” I said. “CrossBronxToys?”

   He nodded.

   I dug into my pocket and pulled out a wad of cash. It was $150, our negotiated–and 500% marked up–price for the figure. Wrapped in a rubber band, I handed the wad over to him.

   “Here you go,” I said. “Let’s see it.”

   Instead, the bearded merchant stepped away.

   “On second thought,” he said. “No deal!”

   I grabbed his shoulder as soon as he decided to turn away.

   “What do you mean ‘no dead’?” I fumed. “You had me waiting for you out here for over two hours. I got a kid that’s been counting on me to score that doll for him. Man, count the money, it’s all there!”

   He smiled. “You know, I wasn’t quite sure when I arranged the meet when I saw your profile picture, but I know you.”

   Uh oh. The last thing I wanted to hear at night in Central Park is a complete stranger saying that they ‘knew’ me.

   “I had my toy shop for a couple of years,” he said. “Even taught myself how to run the business. I made a mistake and got tangled up with a bad supplier that put unlicensed merch on the shelves. Didn’t matter that it wasn’t my fault because the copyright owners hired YOU to find me guilty! Spent so much on penalties and legal fees that I had to move my whole operation online!”

   “Hey look,” I stammered. “I’m sor–”

   “Save it,” he said with a sigh. “Look, I guess I should be glad you’re not some obsessive collector and that you were getting it for a kid. So here, take the Silverstreek. Keep the money too, you probably earned it by ripping another shop like mine.”

   He handed me the shopping bag. Taking it out, it was the bona fide edition of the action figure I had been looking for. A superhero encased in plastic, smiling in all his glory.

   “Merry Christmas asshole,” he huffed as I watched him disappear into the night.

Holiday Haiku (2015 Holiday Story)

Hello!

Every year I like to do a creative thingamabob for the holidays. It started with short stories and now it’s kind of going in the direction of an open mic. (It’s a mix you see?) It’s one of the few traditions I have here at Flobito.com. Check out some of the past entries.

2011   2012    2013    2014  

Like a Hess truck, this year I’m morphing the format and trying Holiday Haiku! Take a read…

[Thanksgiving Haiku]

Celebrate Excess

Overeat. Over indulge.

Like no tomorrow.

[Christmas Haiku]

Christmastime Is Here

Bundled up and ready

Snow angels and Gifts

[New Year’s Haiku]

Few resolutions

The sun always shines brighter

When you have big dreams

Thanks for reading and check back here next year!

True Story: ‘Stretch’ Was Amazing!

This article originally appeared on Moviepilot.com.

 

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A film that seems to be forgotten when discussing director Joe Carnahan’s catalog, “Stretch” is something that I find myself defending more often than not.

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“Stretch” is about a guy (the titular character) who works in the city of Los Angeles as both a failed actor and as a limousine driver to the stars. While anyone who is an Uber driver can relate to that, “Stretch” takes a turn from the pedestrian to the insane.

With cameos by Hollywood stars like Ray Liotta and David Hasselhoff, you’re lulled into a false sense of security as to the kind of movie Stretch is supposed to be. Personally, I had seen enough “trying to make it in Hollywood” and “sarcastic main character deals with quirky people” flicks to last a lifetime, but like a sporty automobile, “Stretch” switches gears.

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At its core, the “Stretch” is really about earnestness. Whether it is about following your dreams, making sure you try your hardest with a fare to earn a massive tip or being honest in your dating life, being true to yourself is almost always the best course of action.

I raved about “Stretch” so much already, you’ll probably wonder why it is in the So Bad, Its Good (#SoBIG). category Well, let’s take a look at some of Joe Carnahan’s other films and how they were marketed:

  • NARC: Psychological cop/crime drama (and one of this author’s favorite films of all time)
  • Smokin’ Aces: Teams of assassins descend on a single target with a casino theme? Sign me up!
  • The A Team: It’s the The Freakin’-A Team!
  • The Grey: The guy from “Taken” plus WOLVES!

With “Stretch”, you’ll have a harder time explaining what it is exactly.

  • Is it an action movie? Not really but there are awesome action scenes.
  • A Mystery? Not officially, but things do raise some questions.
  • A Romantic Comedy? Not totally, but it is an important subplot and through-line.

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“Stretch” is a mash of everything, but is also none of these things. It’s a fresh idea (which could be seen as a satire of Hollywood in of itself) but it takes so long to get to its point, that it squarely puts it in a “you have to watch the whole thing to get it” territory.

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That may work for horror movies and serial dramas on TV shows but that may have been too much to ask of an audience at the time.

But to heck with “audiences,” it’s great!

Holiday Short Story 2014

It’s that time of year! Where I give a story in time for the holiday season. Check out past editions:

2011

2012

2013

This year, I’d like to try poetry. It’s still be a yuletide tale, matey… #ChristmasPirate

A Special Gift

Through the canyon

The canyon of people

Clusters of families

All around the promenade

Sits the jolly man himself

King of the North pole

He’s the one

The one that rules with a candied fist

Red and green lives with

Blue and White

Black and Green

Black and Green can come too

For the man with the beard

He sits between

Flanked by menorah and kinara

Alone on the throne.

For the masses believe

Believe in something else

Their eyes are locked

Locked into rectangle screens

Halloween Short Story 2014! #amwriting

Hey everyone!

It’s that time of the year! Halloween! You know, the best candy…the best costumes…the best sales the day after! I mean, how could you NOT like it? Of course, if trick or treats aren’t your thing, you can have pumpkin everything. But what’s All Hallow’s Eve without a little bit of fun? Check out a little flash fiction/short story bit I did to celebrate the holiday for 2014.

Hate Potion Number Nine

 

“I don’t think you heard me,” Marci said as she slammed her fist on the oak counter. “Do what you can to make it happen.”

Marci had taken her lunch break to head downtown on a mission. Entering a small, hole-in-the-wall watch repair shop, she sprinted towards the main counter. On the other side stood a graying, spry man in his fifties wearing a blue baseball cap with yellow stars on it. On the counter between them sat a wooden nameplate that read “Hon. Harvey Tratch, Wizard.”

“I don’t think you understand the kind of establishment I run,” Harvey said, fiddling with his cap. “I specialize in home remedies. Everything else you’ve heard is just that. Hearsay.”

“Don’t waste my time,” Marci said. “I know what goes on in here and before you ask, no I am not a cop. I need one of your potions to get me out of a jam. Am I understanding what you do, now?”

Harvey sighed. There was no used to fighting the bespectacled woman in front of him. He surmised by her dress that she worked in a conservative business field. He determined her forward nature was a product of her personality, mixed with a foolhardy adherence to regimented daily schedule. In short, time was money and he was wasting hers.

“Okay,” Harvey relented. “What do you want?”

“My assistant and I had a…well, you know,” she said. “I need to break it off with him, but he’s completely attached. If I break his heart, he’s one water-cooler conversation away from ousting me at my job. If I play along, someone will find out and I’ll still be in trouble. I need something to erase his memory.”

Harvey shook his head. “Oh, I’m sorry I can’t do that. Memories are something you just cannot alter. Anyone who says that is absolutely lying to you.”

“Well,” Marci said, tapping her heels impatiently. “What can you do for me?”

Harvey stepped away from the counter and opened a cabinet that was on the far side of the shop. The walls were littered with antiques, and he used this to pass off his business as a watch repair shop, but today he once again was dealing in the dark arts. He knew better than to still toil about in his side job, but passion always finds a way of pulling you back in to what you love. He took out a small jar about the size of a saltshaker filled with a blue liquid and returned to the counter.

“This is the best I can do,” he said. “It’s a split up spell. For it to work you have to splash it on both you and your target. I got you the blue one because the split will be amicable. The red one makes the other person hate you.”

“Great,” Marci said. “How much?”

“I’ll give it to you for free if you forget where you got it from,” Harvey said. “I’m not in that business anymore.”

 

Marci drove as fast as she could back to her office. She had about ten minutes to spare until her lunch break was over. She had to act fast. Looking out into the area populated by cubicles, she waved her assistant over. Soon her forbidden lover, tall, lanky, and sporting a gap tooth smile walked through the door.

“I need help with something,” Marci said. “Can you come over here?”

He obliged. When he got close, Marci sprinkled half of the blue potion on his shirt. She then just as quickly doused herself with the rest of the bottle. Marci instantly felt warm, as both she and he fell to their knees, quivering.

Pools of blood instantly formed around them, as patches of their skin, burst open. Their clothes were instantly soaked through, unable to dam the constant blood flow. Marci eyed the dozens of gashes all over her body, each of them getting larger by the second. As her assistant yelled for help, she tried dialing the police from the smart phone that was in her pocket. The screen, now drenched with the deep vermillion of her essence, did not recognize her touch.

“Split up spell,” Marci said, before blacking out.

 

Boooooooooooo! *takes off bed sheet* Happy Halloween everyone!

Cutting Room Floor: The Heat

Hey y’all!

Sometimes I shelve projects when I don’t feel they are where I want them to be. I usually come back to it in some form, but I have been known to cast away a project or two.

This is a poem I created for my “Mass Transit” collection called “The Heat.” It didn’t make the final cut (but so many great poems did!) so I posted it here.

 

“The Heat”

The race is on

Some call it pressure, others the game

For when the sun goes down

There can only be one

 

Millions of eyes

All looking forward

The events of the day

Fade from memory

 

The lights caresses the skin

It’s warm, unforgiving

A trial with no judge

But millions on the jury

 

A lifelong dream

Being front and center

The word on the lips

Or the lash of the tongue.

 

 

–Flobo

Free Sample: Showtime

Available in “By The Ounce And Other Tales

“Showtime”

The routine has been rehearsed

The attitude is positive

Because the ego is in check

A mile a minute

Your work is their leisure

Remember that

Success is in your mind’s eye

Failure is too

They battle for dominance

Time speeds to a crawl

The microphone is in hand

It’s show time!

Just like that it’s over

Nothing but a memory

Nothing but a dream