THE STAR SPANGLED Banner finished and the crowd now heard, “Runners, on your mark.”
The cannon’s booming crack sent hundreds of men and women bolting across the startup line. Old, young, streamlined, even portly, running outfits’ casual or to the nines, they ran. Each one displayed a prominent identifying number.
On West Street they put on a show, gathering cheers for favorites and listening to heady, frantic calls from the crowd. Some smiled and hammed it up. Others…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on October 1, 2016 at 7:05am — No Comments
ONE OF MY earliest memories is one in which my grandmother sat at her little sewing table and mended clothes or darned socks. People did that in bygone days. You know, the old Yankee way. Buy it new, wear it out, fix it up, make it do. Drawing a stitch in time saved a lot of work later.
I’m thinking this old saying is much older than America. It makes me wonder where it came from. Did it arise in a number of places instead of just one? What an interesting thought.
Added by Richard O. Benton on September 24, 2016 at 5:08am — No Comments
“THEN WE WILL be dead, and the message will not get to Brad. We don’t operate that way. If your discipline is anything like ours, you won’t take a chance on shooting us and sweeping it under the rug. First, I’m sure there are others behind us who would have heard that first shot, and they will want an accounting of why you fired it. Second, the message we have might stop all this useless warfare, and you wouldn’t be averse to…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on September 17, 2016 at 5:37am — No Comments
“EASY, ROD. I called to you.”
“Hey! Couldn’t hear you.” He recovered quickly and smiled at his friend.
“Yeah. That yellow thing you have to get rid of. It advertises you, and this isn’t the place for it.”
“Yeah, I know. All I could find,” he replied.
“Here, put this on.” Jon pulled a black parcel from under his dark, non-reflective cape.
Rodney glanced at it. “How did you know?”
“I was no…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on September 10, 2016 at 8:18am — No Comments
THE FINAL CONFLICT began in 2020. It lasted two days. In that time America had been decimated by the bombs of its enemies and had in turn destroyed beyond repair the hopes of the gentle peoples of the world. Only a few locales, widely separated by thousands of miles on different continents held pockets of humanity. They struggled and most failed. This is the story of Waterbury in the former state of Connecticut, as unlikely…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on September 4, 2016 at 5:06am — No Comments
A WIDE STAGE, festooned in red and black, curtained in some dark, heavy material, formed a backdrop for four luxurious and ornate plastic chairs, two facing two. In their center, slightly behind the chairs, stood a podium. Lights glared into the scene from an intricate network of steel and wire at a lofty height. At the podium stood the game show host. The TV cameras were rolling.
“Now contestants, we enter the final phase of our program. Mark and Annabelle have lost the last round…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on August 27, 2016 at 8:47am — No Comments
This is a repeat of a story I released in May of this year, except for the ending. The test was, did the tone of the story change with the ending. Which did you like best? You decide.
HARRY SAUNTERED DOWN Brooklyn’s Spencer Street with his hands in his brown corduroy pants pockets. His new blue shirt felt a little scratchy under his parka, but it looked super. That’s what Mama told him. One of the tails of the shirt hung out a little. Mama said…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on August 20, 2016 at 5:57pm — No Comments
I glanced out the window on Amtrak’s D.C. run, my thoughts on other things. I’d switch trains in Baltimore and then cab-dash into the district to be there by five p.m. I saw rolling fields of early corn that stretched all the way to the mild hump of horizon. Gray hills continued into the distance. The fields shimmered with June heat.
My pen hadn’t made many marks on the pad I held in the last hour. I became aware of a crick in my neck. I wish I’d bought that cheap laptop I saw at…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on August 13, 2016 at 2:01pm — No Comments
I HAVE ONE hand in my pocket. The other holds a stick slung over my shoulder. A blue polka-dot kerchief filled with all I own bobs at the end. I whistle something out of tune, but it’s happy and that’s all I care about. The road I travel is dusty and today's going to be hot. I’m on a lane with overhanging trees and their green leaves slap me gently as I pass. I don’t know where I am or where I’m going; I just know I’m free. Free to make my own choices. Free to succeed or fail and it’s all…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on August 6, 2016 at 3:57am — No Comments
MY BREATH COMES in gasps and I might have been running forever. My legs are rubbery with exhaustion and the fire in my lungs with every breath I take hurts so bad I don’t think I can go on. I have to go on. I try to turn my head and look back. My head won’t turn. Is it gaining? What is it? I have to get away. That’s all I know. It will kill me if I don’t. I duck down an alley.
Where did these houses come from? I’ve been running in an open field. I smelled alfalfa before. I sniff…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on July 30, 2016 at 6:58am — No Comments
ABBY'S SCREAM OF rage snaps Mama’s head up and she nearly impales an eye with her scissors. She drops them quickly next to the mailer, alongside the packaging tape that lay on the table.
“Abby, what’s wrong?”
“Mama, Fluff ate my sandwich!”
Mama peeks into the living room and sees the cat on his rump cleaning his paws. He looks satisfied and distant from the commotion. Similar things have happened before and neither “child” seems to have learned from the past.
Added by Richard O. Benton on July 23, 2016 at 1:49pm — No Comments
A TONGUE CAN cut like a knife and bloodlessly eviscerate the soul.
She speaks. “Okay, so I’ll go and get my haircut, then I’ll drive over to Kate’s to get my nails done. On the way back I’ll stop at Stop and Shop and pick up a few things. You’ll be ready to go when I get back?”
“Uh-huh.” I’m taking in every word. I think about how focused I am on my wife’s plan. Just then it occurs to me that the door I painted and left downstairs should be dry by now. Better remember to bring…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on July 16, 2016 at 12:52am — No Comments
I STOOD IN the front hall and stared at the closet door under the stairs. How many years had it been? Hesitantly, I turned the key to unlock this particularly distressing part of my past and opened it. I reached around a jumble of old coats and boxes. I pulled the light cord.
With a flash that dazzled me, the old bulb burned out. The shock sent my body reeling. My head hit the hallway wall and sudden pain radiated into my eyes. I gasped, got control and leaned against it, more than a…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on July 9, 2016 at 8:36am — No Comments
I’d been talking with Georgie Handly. I’m Duane Brownley. Georgie’s a guy from my hometown of East Percer. We went to high school, had a few classes together, hung around in study period throwing an occasional spitball and played some football after school. Now we hang at the Torchlight some nights and put down a few, play some pool, and talk about deciding what we’re going to do in this sorry ass town we live in. Jobs aren’t good or much, but the pressure’s on.
What I mean is;…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on July 2, 2016 at 7:13am — No Comments
The helmsman’s ear caught a faint lapping sound from the bow as the ship moved with virtual silence through the black river water. Directing the cumbersome ship held his attention. He must pull the tiller against all eddies as he felt them to keep the vessel straight and it made him weary. The shore, twenty feet to the right remained a barely discernible darker night presence.
Watchers at the bow strained and tried to pierce the blackness. The moonless night made seeing any darker…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on June 28, 2016 at 3:07pm — No Comments
From my office in another part of the house I heard a great thump. Maybe it didn’t shake the house, but my wife gasped and I heard that well enough. The thump must have sounded much louder where she sat on the sofa facing our big picture window because Mr. Red-bellied Woodpecker had just slammed into the glass.
My wife immediately ran to the window and stood peering down at a rumpled mass of beak and feathers.
“Oh Dick,” she cried, “it’s our beautiful red-bellied woodpecker. Is…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on June 18, 2016 at 8:09am — No Comments
Most people would have thought we were out for an idyllic walk. I thought we were out for an idyllic walk. We had beautiful weather, not too nippy for the second day of September, not for the middle of the Adirondacks.
My wife and I decided to walk along route 114 in the minuscule resort town of Blue Mountain Lake, NY both for exercise and to see what we could see. We try to make it a point to balance our vacation dissipation with as many walks as we can manage. It’s for…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on June 11, 2016 at 5:47am — No Comments
My wife of three weeks and I were on our honeymoon. Our cruise ship, a small, intimate liner run by Coster Cruise Lines headed into a gorgeous fiord, a place called Glacier Bay. We loved the beauty all around. Alaska needed no intro for me, but I’d never been to this long, deep, glacier created watercourse before.
We both looked at a waterspout churning in the distance the Captain had just announced over the PA system. People ran from all parts of the vessel and crowded the rail to…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on June 4, 2016 at 3:13pm — No Comments
“What’s in a year?” she asks me.
Strange question coming from nowhere. I look up. She’s young, not that young, but younger. And pretty. I’m not dead.
Everybody’s younger than me, seems. She’s wearing jeans; designer, naturally; and a tight tee shirt accentuates her jut points. She’s a bottle blond. Oh well.
I think all you need to become common is do what everybody else in your crowd does. Wonder if she knows that.
It’s late in the day, the sun about to set, and…Continue
Added by Richard O. Benton on May 28, 2016 at 8:18am — No Comments
Harry sauntered down Brooklyn’s Spencer Street with his hands in his brown corduroy pants pockets. His new blue shirt felt a little scratchy under his parka, but it looked super. That’s what Mama told him. One of the tails of the shirt hung out a little. Mama said he should hurry, but the nice day with blue sky and a few white puffy clouds slowed his steps. He could see the boys playing catch or something way down at the end of the block. They looked like little sticks, like ants.
Added by Richard O. Benton on May 21, 2016 at 8:40am — No Comments