Saturday, September 19, 2009

FOILED AGAIN - short fiction

This short story is in response to
Click on the above link to join in or read other entries.

How it works: Raven supplies two sets of words (or phrases) to use in a piece of writing. One can choose the ten- or five-word challenge ---or combine both into a fifteen word mega-challenge.

Mega challenge:
dangerous, engine, sullenly, bespoke, evergreen, bauble, medicine, freight, destined, tinsel, carbon, feelers, outright, ballet, fizzing
(Words from the challenge are in bold face in the story.)

* * * * *

You’ve met Matty and her new neighbor Clem in a previous post, “Foiling Her Adversaries.” The following continues their story.

With his three-day growth of beard, her new neighbor Clem was a little scruffy looking. Matty knew if he were famous and on TV it would be called ‘designer stubble.’ On Clem, it just looked like he didn’t take care of himself.
But Matty could excuse his looks, because Clem understood her so well. He knew the FBI and CIA were trying to steal her thoughts ---and his, too. He told her he had been prescribed medicine to keep his so-called delusions at bay, but he knew the pills would just make him let his guard down, so he didn’t take them.
Clem was convinced that he was destined to invent in impenitrable brain-wave blocker. He stole engine pieces and other auto parts from the garage where he worked, hoping they might be useful.
Matty and Clem had spent their evenings, for over a week, applying aluminum foil to Clem’s apartment walls and windows. While he was on a ladder, Matty danced around him cutting the foil and handing him duct tape. They worked in perfect sync, almost like a choreographed ballet.
They discoveredd they were much alike. They were both afraid of the freight elevators in the building and had refused to use them when moving their furniture into their apartments. They loved the smell of evergreen and cleaned everything with Pinesol™. Neither of them could stand carbonated beverages, because the fizzing reminded them of radio static, which they knew was really the government listening in on them.
They knew Clem’s apartment would be dangerous until the aluminum was up, so they wore construction helmets lined with foil. Clem devised long antennae from coat hangers which he had covered in tinsel. He said they would work like feelers on a bug. Wearing them, he and Matty would be able to sense when someone was trying to steal their thoughts.
Clem was outright the best cook Matty had ever met. She only ate frozen dinners, canned spaghetti, and bags of munchies in her own apartment, but Clem cooked Cajun, Italian, and Chinese food each evening while she sat on the floor covering the lowest parts of the walls and the baseboards. Once he had everything cooking on the stove, they would work together until dinner was ready.
Clem liked to cook, but eating put him in a bad temper. Around nine o’clock, after they had worked for several hours, he sullenly ate what he had cooked while Matty delighted in every bite. Her plus-sized jeans were already feeling tight.
Clem’s indifferent eating habits bespoke the depression that would fall over him after dinner. Unable to talk him out of his gloom, Matty would leave for her own apartment. She worried about his lack of appetite. He was already extremely thin.
But the following evening, Clem would show up at Matty’s door bearing some bauble or other for her in apology for his sulky behavior the night before. Matty collected them in a shoe box she had covered with duct tape.
Clem had looped silver washers on a chain to make a necklace. He had twisted colorful plastic-coated wires together for a bracelet. He created two little metal helmets from welded scraps of aluminum for her cat, so that she didn’t always have to make foil ones that the cat could tear off with his claws.
But her very favorite gift from Clem was special. He had cut a slice of pipe, drilled holes on one side of the cylinder, filed off the rough edges, and polished the metal with emory cloth and steel wool. Then he superglued pebbles from a broken windshield’s safety glass into the holes. One fell out, but he had a tin can full of them, so he had more to glue into the ring if she needed them. It was better than a diamond ring, because diamonds would have attracted the government monitors. Glass didn’t block them, but it didn’t attract them either.
If Clem could make all of those beautiful things, Matty was convinced his brain-wave blocker would be a technological and financial success. And just having Clem in the apartment across the hall made her feel less vulnerable to the radio signals which had been scrambling her thoughts. And, besides, her cat looked so cute in his new helmets.

(©2009, C.J. Peiffer)


Reston Friends! said...

Whoa! So incredibly creative. I can feel the shining stuff all around as I read the description!

I like this story so much -- but it is really hard to go from the black background to the white comment screen. Actually hurts my eyes when it shifts...

Dr.John said...

This was so good I forgot it was a wordzzle.
You are one very creative writer.

Argent said...

Oh, I just loved this! I'm really glad you revisited these two interesting characters again and hope for more.

Raven said...

They're such a sweet, sad pair. Well done as always.

Fandango said...

Well written . Your two characters are really taking shape and we can see the cat with his little hat.It looks tasty.

Melissa B. said...

AWESOME! I read every word, and sure did enjoy it. Thanks so much for sharing...

CJ said...

Reston firends: Sorry this is a problem for you.

It would be a tremendous task to change colors, because I use different colors in many posts (for links etc.) and if I change the black I'll have to change almost every post so the colors will stand out on the new background.

I suggest you put your cursor over "post a comment" then close your eyes, click on the link, wait a few seconds to open your eyes on the white comment page so it isn't such a jolt to your senses. If that doesn't work, just skip reading mine.

I have very bad eyesight, but it never bothered me. I only have a problem when the background color and text are so similar that there is little contrast. As far as I can remember, I've had only one other complaint.

Stephen said...

I liked your story, and I'm glad that Matty and Clem are still getting along. The ring looks nice, and I can picture the cat in it's new helmet. I hope things continue to go well for them, and I hope we get to see them again.

Regarding the page colors, I'm afraid I also have difficulty reading with this setup. I'm not asking you to change the colors, and I can understand that it would be very awkward to have to redo everything. I also realize that you've put a lot of work into making things as they are, and to try to make the blog look nice.

Perhaps the problem is even partly on my side. My monitor is an old and inexpensive 17 inch CRT model, and your blog may be easier to read on better monitors. I'm not color-blind, so that's not a problem. However, for almost all my life I've worn glasses to correct an astigmatism problem, and the last decade or so have gone to bifocals (I'm 56). The glasses do pretty much correct my sight, though. There was even a time when I used to do a lot of programming in DOS, with light letters on a dark screen, but they were large, thick letters.

The problem here is that the letters are small and thin and pale and tend to be overwhelmed by the black background, and with some colors the words practically disappear. I generally drag my mouse across the post to highlight it, so that the background is white and the letters dark, and then I can read it a lot better. I don't mind the comments page, because it's easy to read. It also has an option at the top to redisplay the original post, which it does in black letters on a white background, though it can lose some formatting in the process.

I'm sorry. It's not my intent to sound critical. I'm just giving the situation from my perspective, and offering some support to others who may also have this problem, so they know they're not alone. If it's any consolation, I also have trouble reading magazine pages that have white letters on a black background or across a picture.

As I said, I did enjoy your story.

Stephen from Scottsdale, Arizona, USA

CJ said...

I've changed the size of the type in the main story. I hope this helps those who are having trouble. And, as Stephen pointed out, you can click on "post a comment," then on the top left click on "show original post." You can read it there in black on white, although the formatting is not the same as on the original post.

Argent said...

As a partially-sighted person, I love the white on black text of your blog. There is an easy way for others to have the letters turn our black on a white background. You can use the Windows magnifier (instructions below)

From the Windows Start Menu, select All Programs
Select Accessories.
Select Accessibility
Select Magnifier.

You can set the magnification level to 1 (no magnification).
You can check the Invert Colours checkbox.
The magnifier window is at the top of the screen and you can drag it down to make it bigger.
When you're finished reading, you can close the magnifier from the taskbar and get the regular colours back.

You can also change the Windows theme to inverted colours too but I think this way is easier.

CJ said...

Thanks, Argent. I hope that helps some people. I have a Mac so I can't try it myself to see how it works, but I hope your instructions help others.