overrated

May. 23rd, 2008 07:19 pm
phinnia: sky and moon, with 'is it safe?' as the caption (is it safe?)
For [livejournal.com profile] paradoxhorizon, a random Josh-and-Danielle drabble set during the jewel thief years.

Paris.

They had a small apartment in the fifth arrondissement; second floor walkup and the water took its sweet time getting hot in the morning. Danielle failed to cook, as usual, seeming to exist entirely on chocolate croissants, tiny cups of nuclear-strength coffee and pho. Josh wasn't set on women in the kitchen - a good thing since Dani would have whipped his ass to hell and back again had he ever mentioned it - but he was getting kind of tired of the selection.

"There are some of the most amazing restaurants in the world in this city," he griped, "and you want to stay in and eat vietnamese takeout for the hundredth time. Don't you want romance?"

"Shut up, asshole, I'm playing Quake. Besides, I'd have to get dressed up." She looked down at the knee poking through the hole in her jeans, her hands still dancing over the keyboard. "I'm comfortable. Get your own romance if it's so goddamn important."

"Perish the fucking thought you should disconnect from the goddamn internet and look out a window that doesn't have a title bar attached to it."

"I'd go through withdrawal. Toxic shock. Could be fatal, you don't know."

"Can't have that. You're toxic enough already, bitch." Josh rolled his eyes and stomped down the stairs, slamming the front door so hard it rattled the second floor windows and the dog next door started howling again. Fortunately none of the neighbors even bothered to look anymore, even the nosy old woman across the street.

He walked through cobblestone streets, turning at random corners, winding his way down alleys. He dodged stubborn Peugeot drivers who were dead certain they had the right of way and millions of piles of dogshit.

The Seine was dotted with rain, the Tour D'Eiffel was half blacked out and the only couples he found were arguing.

When he got home she was half asleep, a tangle of naked skin, her back a graceful curving arch half-covered by the duvet.

"Hey." he murmured, running his fingers through her hair.

"Hey." Danielle's voice was thick with sleep; she buried her head further under one of the pillows. "You find your romance?"

"Nah." He kicked off his boots and stretched out on the bed next to her. "Overrated."

"Went out." she yawned. "Got dinner. Leftovers in the kitchen. French food's not all bad."

"You went out? Did the place have wireless? Are you okay?" A small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "Feeling faint?"

One hand emerged from the nest of blankets, flipping him off. He chuckled and left her to sleep, heading back toward the kitchen. Half a baguette was wrapped in brown paper, smoked salmon spilling out between its fat, curving sides. Danielle's characteristic scrawl staggered across the wrapping.

Here's your romance, asshole. I bought dinner. Eat it and shut the hell up.

He grinned and took a bite, staring out the window at the city lights bleeding into smears the rain.
phinnia: a woman with a butterfly and kanji characters over her face (butterflyface)
A few more of these. Dani & Josh - jewel thieves. Love them.

jetsam

They tossed aside identities like napkins, dying their hair in hotel bathrooms where their neighbors rented by the hour and their fake ecstacy was clear though paper walls. It was all part of the job, and most of the time Josh thrived on the quakes of instability in his gut.

But sometimes he woke gasping from sleep and groping for his real name, some portion of his true self to tie on to.

Next to him, Danielle slept on.




replacement

Underneath, her hair was brown, and so were her eyes; she wore wire-rim glasses crooked on her nose, had short nails and a quiet, oval face. Just another girl, wholesome and clean-scrubbed.

When not on a job she layered color on top like a chameleon; dark cherry with a twisted streak of blonde, contacts that stained her eyes deep amber. Anything to be striking, to be noticed, not to be ordinary; to throw some grit on the wholesome exterior.
+ four more )
phinnia: smiling dolphin face (Default)
Every year when I was growing up Uncle Dan and Aunt Marian would have a huge fourth of July party. Me and my mom and dad, my uncle Mike and aunt Maureen, uncle Dan and aunt Marian, and all my cousins. It was about ... a dozen or more people? Yeah. My uncle Dan had this ranch just outside Missoula - seriously, barns and corrals and the whole nine yards, it was really something. Well, he didn't have any horses or livestock or anything ... but he had all the stuff. Uncle Dan was a great stuff collector. You know. Cowboy hats, chaps, guns. Lots and lots of guns.
But yeah, I was talking about the fourth of July.
Every year we'd have food - buckets of food, macaroni salad, fried chicken, burnt things on the barbecue. Uncle Dan, of course, being chief grillmaster, because it was his grill. Of course, my aunts had to do all of the rest of the work, and he got all the glory - my mother spent her time as far away from uncle Dan as possible. I remember once she ended up driving halfway to Helena just to calm down.
I think that was the time he wanted to know when she was going to quit her job and 'do what women were supposed to do'. Whatever that was. I think he meant stay at home and raise kids ... but I also remember being about thirteen at the time, so it didn't really make sense.
Of course, neither did uncle Dan.
But I was talking about the Fourth of July.
Continued. )
phinnia: smiling dolphin face (dharma wheel)
When I was growing up, my father never talked much. He still doesn't. I don't know why. Maybe it was his reaction to being the youngest in a family with loud mouths and strong opinions; I'm not sure. But an entire day would sometimes go by without him saying more than three or four sentences. He just didn't bother speaking without a good reason, saving his words like water on a dayhike - only when necessary, never spilling even one.
He had other ways of getting his point across. He didn't need to speak when a simple smile would do just as much; he could cram more disapproval in one look than my uncle Dan could choke into a thousand hours of incensed drunken raving.
I always knew he loved me though. He never said it, not in ways most other people could detect; but he did, and I knew. All the little stuff he did for me, and my mom; there were always fresh flowers on the table, the kitchen was always clean. Sometimes I'd open my desk drawer and find a package of those cream filled chocolate cupcakes inside, or a mysteriously appearing twenty dollar bill.
I always remember turning around to find him standing behind me eating a cookie - sneaking it really, my mother was always on him about spoiling his dinner with cookies, but I never saw it happen. Really, I think it started to be a game they played after a while, because my mother was the farthest thing from a nag you'd ever hope to find.
There was an unspoken covenant between us about those cookies. I never said anything, and he always made sure to steal an extra one for me. He was just always there, you know? Not in an annoying way, but a comforting way, like gravity or the brick foundation to your house. On spring days when we spent weekends at home in Evanston I'd look up from doing algebra homework and he was already outside with the basketball - and I'd close the book and we'd shoot some hoop.
It's a little eerie, thinking about it; it's like he's tuned into some higher frequency, that he'd exchanged his words long ago in a pact with some unseen being for the ability to read peoples' minds instead.
phinnia: smiling dolphin face (Default)
Another great word from [livejournal.com profile] 15minuteficlets is back here. )

Josh woke up from his nap to the sound of someone trying to sniffle back tears and not doing a very good job of it. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he tried to follow the trail of mysterious tears, which stretched all the way from the pink and yellow bedroom through the tiny pink office to the pink and white living room.
He wondered idly why it didn't bother him that he was living in Barbie's Dream House these days, and decided that was to be set aside for future meditation. Kaatje was sitting curled up on the end of the sofa, surrounded by half a hundred wadded up tissues and wringing a piece of paper between her hands.
"Sweetheart?" he touched her gently on the shoulder. "What happened?"
"A tragedy, a great tragedy, one of epic proportions; a veritable catastrophe, woe and desolation!" she sniffled, blowing her nose with a tissue and tossing it somewhere in the general direction of the trash can. "Woe is me, I have been crushed like a delicate flower under the cold and heartless wheel of life!"
"What happened?"
"I am destroyed, I am utterly despondent! A failure, a wreck; my very soul is ripped to shreds and pounded upon the rocks!"
Josh sighed and gently removed the piece of paper from her hands, trying to piece it back together. "Your latest story got rejected."
"Verily 'tis true."
It was to Josh's credit that he didn't bat an eye at the use of 'verily' in a sentence. He simply got up off the sofa (which was white, with pink pillows) and went into the kitchen (not pink, although the roses on the wallpaper were) to retrieve a small pint of ice cream and a spoon.
Somehow, between the tears and the dramatic exaltations, he managed to pop a spoonful of the stuff in her mouth. And another.
"What flavour is this?" She dabbed her eyes with another hanky, lip trembling.
"Something called Di's Candy Drawer. It's new." He put another spoonful between her lips. "Chocolate and peanuts and rice crisps."
"And caramel." She opened her mouth like a small bird expecting to be fed.
"Looks like it."
Kaatje lay still for several minutes, chewing bites of ice cream thoughtfully, her hand over her eyes. "This iced cream doth have magical restorative powers, truly."
"I thought you might say that. More?"
"Indeed, yes." Sitting up, Kaatje took the rejection letter from his hand, spit on it dramatically and tore it to shreds. "Stupid bastards wouldn't know good erotic fiction if it bit them." She took the small container from him. "Did you want some of this, or can I finish it?"
phinnia: smiling dolphin face (dharma wheel)
Every year my dad and me and my uncles used to go up to the fishing cabin on Port Gardner Bay - where I'm living now, as a matter of fact. Technically it was my parents' fishing cabin, but I don't think my mom darkened the doorstep of that place since the day they signed the paperwork on it. It just wasn't her thing. She prefers the urban jungle to anything you'd find in the back forty.

Not that she would have been welcome anyway. It always ended up being a weekend with 'just us guys'. It was okay, I guess. Uncle Dan and Uncle Mike would always make noise about fishing one of these times but I don't think I ever saw them even pick up a tackle box unless it was in the way of the beer cooler.

Dad was different. Or 'weird', depending on who you listened to. But he was always the one that took wilderness stuff seriously. He was an Eagle Scout. So was I, actually. God, that was a long time ago ... would you believe I still remember some of that stuff? The knots come in handy. But it was dad that taught me about fishing and hunting, to follow something by its tracks in the snow or the mud, the little signs it made as it travelled through the woods. He taught me how to use a slingshot and a bow and arrow.

Dad didn't believe in guns. He said they made people careless and caused too many accidents. But he could hit a rabbit from a hundred paces with an arrow. And clean it, and use pretty much everything in it - always eating the meat or drying it, cleaning and using the skins properly. He made my mom a really nice pair of rabbit skin mittens one Christmas. And his rabbit stew recipe is really tasty.

He always taught me to live lightly on the land and to respect the trees and animals. To listen to nature. Not to kill wastefully, but to use everything you can. Which is good advice. I didn't realize how good it was at the time, but I'm starting to.

The other day I was clearing up and I found one of the feet from one of the rabbits he killed. Stuck it in my pocket with my St. Jude medal.

Here's hoping for a little luck, I guess.
phinnia: smiling dolphin face (dharma wheel)
Kennedy said 'we have nothing to fear but fear itself.' Oh, no, never mind. That was Roosevelt. Kennedy said 'Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.' I get them mixed up, sometimes. But I always liked that saying, about fear.

So did my mom. She was a die-hard democrat in a family of republicans that in some cases were so right wing they made Rush Limbaugh look positively liberal. My uncle Dan, for example - three hundred pounds of baby-seal-eating bigoted conservative right. I remember family reunions: my mom, who's five-three and about one-thirty soaking wet, would get into it with uncle Dan and she'd leap to her feet and jab her finger into his face like it was a legitimate form of punctuation. He just laughed it off - she was a woman, which meant in his mind she was really only good for making babies and lunch - but I remember. Mom went to Wellesley, she was captain of the debate team. And a hell of a lot smarter than uncle Dan.

He never scared me, but in retrospect he should have. My aunt Marian walked into so many doors when I was growing up I lost count. Probably because I was his favorite son - even though I wasn't, strictly speaking, his biological son. He had two little girls - Rachel and Kaylie - who were both younger than me. But he was big with manly men things. Watching ESPN and drinking beer and eating cheetos and trying to see how many multiples of his own weight he could bench press. Thinking about it now I can't believe I was so damned ignorant of the whole thing, the way he was and how twisted his thought processes were.

He would never have voted for Kennedy, of course, or FDR. Even though the whole family's Catholic. I guess religion doesn't always soothe political divisions. But my mom did. She saw him give his inaugural address and cried her eyes out.

Now that I think about it, she was always trying to tell me the same thing, that I had nothing to fear but fear itself.

The difference is that now I'm trying to listen.

Homecoming

Aug. 8th, 2004 11:49 pm
phinnia: smiling dolphin face (light and shade)
[livejournal.com profile] 15minuteficlets picture #14 here. It's not /exactly/ as portrayed here, but there are common elements. What can I say, it's late, and my mind wanders. :-)

The morning was quiet and the fog was just barely coating the surface of the lake, seeming to rise off of the water - or perhaps the water was descended from the fog itself. It was hard to tell.

He dipped his paddle in the water and pushed the small boat forward, trailing a silvery chain of wet beads behind, breaking the silence.

There had always been a certain ritual quality in the crossing. His uncles would bluster about and make noise about how much of an idiot his father was for not taking the Range Rover around the winding lake road, through the dark sentinel pines and down the dirt path into the hidden cabin. But his father stubbornly stuck to the crossing every year; his packs in the center bottom of the boat, hugged by the swollen center ribs of the canoe; himself sitting in the stern with his paddle across his knees, water trail kissing the surface and leaving dozens of overlapping concentric circles in the delicate waves of the lake.

His uncles had never understood. He had never truly understood, as such, not really, not until he'd hopped the back of the SUV one year and taken the easy way out, leaving dad to paddle across alone and all the while thinking he was getting away with something by skipping out on the long and torturous trip across the lake.

But all that week something was missing. Some connection with the water, with a higher power, with something beyond his understanding. Whatever it was, it led him to take the canoe out on a morning not too unlike this one, dim and silent and foggy, and cross the lake both ways. And then, somehow, it was all right again. He still didn't quite understand, but wasn't about to argue with it any more.

He was mostly there now; he could see the shadowy figure of the fishing cabin through the fog and trees. Carefully, he dipped his paddle back into the glassy lake, pushed against the swirling currents of water and time, drawing himself that little bit closer toward home.
phinnia: smiling dolphin face (dharma wheel)
[livejournal.com profile] daily15 word #100 ...

It's a great word, too. )
phinnia: smiling dolphin face (Default)
The shower room was thick with steam and echoing boys' voices and instututional pink soap. Josh shed his sweaty gym clothes and left them crumpled in a careless pile like a damp and used-up exoskeleton, stretching the kinks out of his muscles and ducking behind the sticky plastic shower curtain into one of the stalls.

Damn thing wouldn't close all the way. He jerked at it irritably for a moment, finally managing to ease the ragged teal plastic most of the way across before turning his attention toward the taps. It was always tricky to get the right water temperature in these gym showers; they could be either blistering hot or bone-numbingly cold, depending on the time of day and the phase of the moon and whatever the hell else made the plumbing work in this place. Maybe some kind of deific dice roll.
Lead on, MacDuff. )

Change

Apr. 22nd, 2004 10:58 pm
phinnia: smiling dolphin face (Default)
(The second part, shortly following 'Tempus Fugit': this is more a series of semiconnected scenes around a period of time as opposed to a structured narrative. And he's being pissy about telling them, too, but that's another thing again. Characters. Can't live with 'em, can't write without 'em.)

It was a rainy day ... again ... )
phinnia: smiling dolphin face (butterfly)
It's very interesting what you can find in a bookstore these days. ([livejournal.com profile] non_plot challenge #1 - Epiphany).

A troubled soul yearns to unburden itself ... )
phinnia: smiling dolphin face (Default)
Ah, I love playing with Kaatje. She's so ... dramatic.
My, this got long. )
phinnia: smiling dolphin face (temporal chaos)
(crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] drabblemania)

"Hey, Anthony, come on in."
Anthony generally feared the times when he went into his brother's studio and found him playing with rope.
Fortunately this time Fabian had his clothes on, so he decided to venture beyond the doorway. Sipping his coffee, he perched on the arm of the paint-covered green and grey sofa, a bemused smile on his lips as he inspected what seemed to be a snarl of string, bows, and God knew what else. "What exactly are you doing?"
Fabian looked up, face covered in a veil of his blonde hair. "It's for an installation project I'm working on. You've got the manikin, see? And he's tied up, right? And gagged, because no one wants to hear you talk really ... and these are the different kinds of bonds we have in life. All symbolized by different kinds of things. See? Nylon rope, hemp rope, ribbons ... there's an actual tie in here somewhere - corporate bonds, right? I even cut off some of my hair and made it into a braid and put it in."
"You cut your hair?" Anthony replied, mock-suspiciously. "What the hell have you done to my brother? Who are you? Fabian never cuts his hair willingly. It's a law, or something."
"The price I pay for art." he sighed dramatically. "Besides, it was only a little bit. At the back, underneath. You can't see it. I braided it in with some of Audra and Jakie's hair."
"Marriage bonds?"
"Zackly. And over there is a rope made of dough... for Joshie, y'know. A pretzel."
"Right. You and your powder milk biscuit obsession." Anthony rolled his eyes, taking another drink of the sweet, milky coffee. "Looks like interesting stuff. You having a problem with that, there?"
"No, I'm fine." Fabian replied, wrestling with a particularly recalcitrant piece of nylon camping rope that he was trying to tie to a piece of velvet ribbon. "I can do this. I was a boy scout once."
"No, you weren't. I was a boy scout." Anthony chuckled. "You got pissy when they wouldn't let you wear the same uniform Audra was wearing in Girl Scouts and threw a hissy fit and uncle Jack had to take you home. Remember? Let me see that." He took the two strings and looked at them thoughtfully, inspecting the other parts of the sculpture. "Looks like you've used pretty much all the same knot all the way through. The one you use to tie your shoes with. You know, I thought that someone with your ... interests ... would be better with knots and bindings?"
"Oh, most of the time Audra does that." Fabian replied with a shrug, getting to his feet.
"Right." Anthony looked a little pained. "I suppose I did ask, didn't I."
"Well yeah."
"So let's see ... I think you can loop this rope around like this ... and then the other one around like this ... and ... apparently have it completely fail to work." He made a face. "What am I doing wrong here?"
"You almost had it." A voice commented from the door. Anthony turned and saw a familiar dark-haired presence leaning in the doorframe.
"Hello, breakfast." Fabian grinned, raising an eyebrow.
Josh, for his part, blushed and coughed slightly, taking the two ropes from Anthony's hands. "You were about to do a thiefknot ... but really you'd be better off doing a sheetbend, like this." He gracefully turned his wrist, and suddenly the two ropes were tied as he stepped back to inspect his handiwork.
Anthony and Fabian stared at him.
"Eagle Scout." Josh replied, a slight, depreceating smile on his lips.
"There's so much I just don't know about you, Joshie." Fabian ducked under the remaining pieces of binding, putting his arm around Josh's shoulders with a naughty sparkle in his eyes. "Why don't you sit down and tell me all about these knots. Maybe a demonstration would be nice too. I'm such a visual learner."
"I'll ... just leave you to that, then." Anthony replied, a long-suffering yet faintly amused look on his face as he shut the door behind him.
phinnia: smiling dolphin face (temporal chaos)
And yes, I did do this in fifteen minutes. Go me. :-)
(In case you're wondering, I'm still percolating on the longer pieces. These are just stretches.)

Cut me here )

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