Thirty Days of Genius – Day Five

Pirates, in general, are not known for their generosity.  Whether referring to Blackbeard or some fifteen year old kid downloading the lastest blockbuster with Bittorrent, the statement is the same.  And so it is for Mike Gordan, a teen-aged pirate all grown up.

The acne is gone and the social skills have improved a bit, but deep down, he still considered himself a pirate, a rebel.  However that part of him is slowly being killed off by a mediocre job as a shoe store manager, a pregnant wife, and a mortgage.  It’s hard to be any sort of pirate when you have a mortgage.

His days of scouring the internet for the latest and greatest illegal goods are long since over but some part of him still yearns for the thrill.  He frowns when his wife buys movies and music, wishing that he hadn’t decided to become a responsible adult.

Life is somewhat boring these days for poor Mike, which might explain what happened next.  One day, a perfectly ordinary Tuesday by any account, Mike left for work and never came back.  The bank account was emptied and his car was found outside of a motorcycle dealer.  All of his credit cards had been maxed out on cash advances and then abandoned.  He just disappeared.

Becky, his wife, was devastated.  For all his quirks, she truly loved Mike and never, ever expected him to abandon her.  His debts became her debts thanks to the community property laws and she had to sell her house and move back in with her aging parents to stay on top of it.

Two months before the baby was due she hired a private investigator, though she could barely afford it.  The trail came back cold.  Mike had completely and thoroughly vanished.  Still she persevered, thinking he would return.

After little Jacob entered the world, Becky found she didn’t have time to dwell on her missing husband any longer.  Being a single mom–even one living with her parents–was rough.  Her days were filled with feedings and changings and baths and naps and getting a few minutes of work in whenever possible.  She was lucky that her boss at the newspaper was so compassionate.

She filed for divorce on grounds of abandonment when Jacob was one.  It was a legal quagmire but she had a friend of a friend helping her for free.  The divorce was granted and suddenly she was something she never thought she would be–a divorcee.

When Jacob turned four she had saved enough to move out, though her parents assured her she could stay.  It was weird being on their own, just Jacob and her.  It was quiet and lonely, though she fought to keep Jacob from seeing it that way.

At Jacob’s sixth birthday party she met Vick, the father of one of Jacob’s friends.  He was a widower and his little girl Beth was his world.  They hit it off, both single parents just struggling to get by.  He invited her out for coffee.  She accepted.

Writing prompts:  pirate, shoe, generosity

Thirty Days of Genius – Day Four

She watched him from across the room as he moved from group to group, fake smile firmly in pace.  She knew he hated these events, even as he was forced to attend.

“Why should I go to some boring ballet that benefits some new cause trying to save the planet?  It’s a waste of time,” he had told her last month when she brought it up.

“It’s good for your image,” she replied patiently, used to his harsh attitude.

“It’s trivial, that’s what it is,” but he sighed, resigned.

She knew he would go because he always did.  However he always hated it.  As his personal assistant, it was her job to make sure his image remained sparkling, no matter what she knew to be true.  In actuality, he was a demanding, demeaning, spoiled, chauvinistic pig, but not many people got to see that side of him.  It was her job to keep it that way.

She sighed into her champagne flute and wondered how she had fallen so low as to keep a spoiled little rich boy looking like a competent CEO.  She had basically been acting as the CEO for the last two years but without any of the fame and fortune; just more and more responsibility.

The job was demanding but also occasionally rewarding, such as tonight.  She got to see the Nutcracker ballet and rub elbows with the city’s best and brightest, or at least richest.  Plus one of her favorite causes was getting a hefty donation from her incompetent boss.

Suddenly bright green eyes set in an attractive face invaded her line of sight, breaking her out of her thoughts.

“Miss Andrews, I believe?” he inquired politely.

“Yes.  And you are?”

“Nick Knight at your service.”  He took her extended hand and instead of shaking it, he bowed with a flourish and gently kissed the back of her hand.  She raised one eyebrow.

He laughed.  “That’s pretty much the response I get every time.  Can’t a man be a gentleman these days without rousing suspicion?”

“What can I do for you, Mr. Knight?”

“Well, I’ve come to sweep you away from Mr. Reynolds and into the waiting arms of Am Corp.”  He continued quickly at her skeptical look.  “I’ve heard that you’ve been quietly running Mr. Reynolds company for him for the last year.”

She looked at him suspiciously, wondering where he got his information.

His smile was charmingly mischievous.  “I have my ways,” he said with a grin.  “Your skills are being wasted on Reynolds.  Come work for me and you’ll be on track to be my interim CEO in less than six months.  Honestly, I need a break and I can’t leave unless I”m sure my company is in good hands.  I believe that is you.”

“Your investors won’t ever sign off on it.  I don’t have a business degree and I have no recorded history managing a company.  I’m just an assistant that keeps the CEO on the straight and narrow.”

“So if my investors agree, you’ll take the job?” he asked slyly.

She looked at him again, wondering why Knight and Am Corp were ringing a bell but was unable to come up with anything.  It was a dream job, which immediately put her on edge.  If it was too good to be true, it generally was.

“I’ll think about it Mr. Knight, but I think you need to keep looking in the meantime,” she finally replied.  She needed to do some serious research and soul-searching to see if leaving her currently crappy but steady and well-paying job for a chance in the dark was really worthwhile.

“Welcome aboard Miss Andrews!”

“What?!  No!  I never agreed to any such thing.  I merely agreed to think about it.  And now I’m kind of regretting even that.”

He just winked and drifted away.  “I’ll have my people call you to work out the details,” he tossed over his shoulder with yet another infuriating grin.

She ground her teeth as he disappeared into the crowd, firmly clamping her mouth shut to prevent her desired retort from escaping.  Nick Knight didn’t know it yet, but he’d met his match.  She’d show him, one way or another.

Writing prompts:  trivial, ballet, planet

Thirty Days of Genius – Day Three

I glared at Jenny over the top of my book, daring her to detonate the camera flash in my eyes again.  She grinned slyly and I  knew she was going to do it.  My eyes narrowed just as the flash exploded into my vision.  That ought to be the perfect picture for the family album, just my eyes visible and narrowed in annoyance.

I wasn’t sure why I had been dragged along on this stupid trip anyway.  I had certainly voiced my displeasure at the idea both loudly and repeatedly.  I was summarily ignored by both my parents and my siblings.  It appeared they were becoming immune to my dramatics.  Perhaps I should up the ante.

Before my thoughts could turn to plotting and revenge, we arrived.  The engine noise of the boat died away like the last peals of a death toll, somber and final.  The island was in the middle of the lake and it would be our home for the weekend.  Yes, we were camping.  As a family.  I suppressed a shudder.

I looked longingly at the distant shore and wondered if I would drown before I made it.  Perhaps it would be worth it.

Writing prompts:  family, camera, boat

Thirty Days of Genius – Day Two

The dry heat of the desert was making him dizzy.  He’d been out here for three hours already, on a fool’s quest.  The animosity he felt kept switching between the weather gods and the man who had sent him on this particular run.

It was supposed to be an easy snatch and grab.  However, the general forgot to mention that he would need to get past a squadron of heavily armed terrorists first.  He shook his head again at the faulty intel.  After radioing in the new info, he was told to hold position and wait for orders.  That was two hours ago.

The sun beat down on his back as he observed the camp.  Somewhere in there was the hostage he was here to rescue.  He had yet to see her, so she must be in one of the tents.  As if his thoughts had summoned her, he saw her being dragged, kicking and screaming, from one of the tents.  Her red hair and fair skin glowed in the sunlight, a stark contrast to the darker features of her captors.

“Command, this is Alpha One Niner Seven.  Target is being moved.  Twenty-five reds visible.  Please advise.  Over.”

“Alpha One Niner Seven.  Hold position.  Repeat, hold position.  Over.”

‘Damn,’ he thought, ‘they’re going to let her get moved.’  He sighed.  Orders were orders.  “Roger, WILCO.  Out.”

Writing prompts:  heat, dizzy, animosity

Thirty Days of Genius – Day One

The first thing I noticed about New York was the noise.  The city that never slept also never shut up.  Growing up outside of Canyon, Texas didn’t prepare me for this.  As I closed the door to my apartment, better known as a large closet by most standards, I again wondered why I had left my beloved small town life behind.

The job offer was decent and the lure of the big city was great, but really, if I was honest, I had left to follow a man.  My feminist side howled in protest but it was true.  Ryan was perfect.  Tall, dark, and handsome plus a gentleman to boot.  Or so I thought.

After three months here in New York, he decided to “move on” and kicked me out of our apartment.  The breakup was messy but I couldn’t find it in me to care about the things I said.  He deserved even more, especially after I found him with the blond bombshell while getting the last of my things.

I looked up at the sound of children’s voices raised in joy.  I was approaching our park–an empty lot between two run-down buildings that housed an ancient swing set.  The swings were long since lost but the slide was still functional and the neighborhood kids loved it.

Today a game of tag was being played on, under, and around it.  I gasped as a little boy jumped from the top of the slide to the top bar of the swing set.  His hands were just able to grasp it, keeping him from a nasty fall.  He swung his legs up and hung sloth, taunting the person who was it.  I laughed as he nimbly swung down and landed in the dirt.  There is nothing like the fearlessness of youth.

I had been contemplating returning to Canyon with my tail between my legs, telling my parents that they were right, but now something had changed.  Seeing that little boy’s leap of faith, confident he would make it, had stirred something in my soul.

I liked my job here.  My apartment was tiny and nearly in a slum, but it was mine.  I needed to stop dwelling on the past and move forward.  Take a fearless leap of faith into the future, confident in my ability to make it, instead of doubting myself.

I tried to catch one last glimpse of the little boy that changed everything but he was already gone, moving on to some new adventure.  I would do the same.

Writing prompts:  New York, Texas, Slide