W.E. Competition Round #5: The Rendezvous

Photo by K.S. Brooks

Your character waits beneath the streetlight as per the arrangements. The hour grows near for the meeting. Is the rendezvous with a lover, a blackmailer, or perhaps an informant?

In 250 words or less, tell me a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until 5:00 PM Mountain Standard Time on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012.

On Wednesday morning, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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Photograph by K.S. Brooks, used here with the photographer’s permission. Copying or reproduction of any kind without express consent is prohibited. All rights reserved.

For a more detailed explanation of the contest & its workings, please see the post called “Writing Exercises Return with a Twist” from 12/24/11.

By participating in this exercise the contestants agree to the rules of the contest and waive any and all further considerations or permissions otherwise required for any winning entries to be published by Indies Unlimited as an e-book, showcasing all the photos and with the winning expositions credited appropriately and accordingly.


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19 thoughts on “W.E. Competition Round #5: The Rendezvous”

  1. The soft glow of the streetlight was comforting as my mind carried me back to the last time that we met. I can still see your face with the worry lines etched deeply on your forehead and the dark circles appearing as if they were painted on.

    I had listened to your plea for help but now feel I was really not there for you. You had sought me out to guide you through an impossible situation and I found myself inadequate to give you the help needed at that time.

    Now – I have another opportunity to prove my love for you – don’t blow it Bud! Thinking over what I might say, “I do love you Pat and want you to know I’ll always be here for you.” Is that really going to be enough?

    Before I could think another thought I saw you coming down the street toward my solitary street light. Your pace was graceful as you approached me and my anticipation was reaching new heights. Should I run to meet you, or hold my position until you moved into this glowing circle of light? It was a magical setting and would be the perfect place to take my stand for you.

    I hadn’t noticed the guy beside you in the darkness as my eyes were fixed entirely on you. You reached my glowing circle of light and said, “Bud, I’d like you to meet my fiancé, Fred. Thankfully he has filled that deep void left by you.”

  2. Still there, our old beacon. I’m glad. So many memories, some tender and happy, some bittersweet. That was so long ago, during the big war.

    I picture it as it looked then. There used to be a bench under it. Glen would sneak away from the barracks to see me. I’d be waiting on the bench. He’d slip out of the shadows from behind the maple on the left. It’s so much bigger now. When I could make out his face it always wore that grin, the one that said “Ha ha, I’m too smart for them”. So infectious I had to grin back. The only times he missed were during blackouts. Then he stayed where he belonged. So did I.

    The first thing he would do when he saw the coast was clear, even before he kissed me, would be to climb onto the back of the bench and turn out the bulb. Wouldn’t do to advertise our relationship. I almost laughed aloud at the memory.

    I reached out to touch the old post, transported back.

    He’s gone now. Soon I will be, too. The doctor says maybe a month. So, against their advice, I've come here once more, to say goodbye to where we began. Forty-five years, three children, 6 grand-kids. A good life. Goodbye old lamp. Will there be a lamp to meet him under where I am going? I can feel him smile with me now. I’m coming, my love.

  3. Not a soul anywhere. Nightfall smothers the day. Carl Langston leans against the stone of the archway, twitching the joint in his chubby fingers. He scans the overcast sky yet again and frets that it just ain't good flying weather.

    Could the dream have been a false precog? He'd had vivid abduction dreams since childhood. Never before had his space family offered to beam DOWN to the farm: they'd always just wooshed him up to the ship! This time it wasn't gonna be no dream – or would it?

    If only a witness could be nearby. Anyone to look him in the eye over a Miller later on and say, "Buddy, I got yer back." Not likely in this beady-eyed neck of the county. His overworked heart keeps fluttering. Carl takes an extra deep toke and holds onto it like it's his sanity.

    Five miles away Officer Perkins is speeding along a lonely wooded lane, trying to keep up with that damn blinking thing in the sky. He's got his handset ready but those lights are confusing. Three big round lights underneath each wing? That's no air force plane.

    The craft starts slowing down… until it's hovering right over the Langston property! Should he call this one in? The cop can't bring himself to press the speak button. He's gotta find out more, first. A LOT more.

    Softly he shuts the patrol car door and steals into the trees.

  4. She wished for the sun to set faster, to bring dusk, when the streetlamp would flicker on and he would be here. A fallen leaf skittered down the street, running from the autumn chill. A stranger hustled by, then hesitated. She shrunk against the brick wall of the candy store but there were no shadows to hide her.

    “Are you lost, little girl?” She shook her head and the stranger walked on.

    She let out a breath and looked up again at the dark streetlamp and the sky beyond it, now streaked with purples and reds and white wisps of cloud. She wished she had worn her mittens so he could hold her hands in them like he did to make her feel cozy and special and safe. She shivered.

    “Candy!” She heard her name and turned, relieved to see her mother rushing toward her. “Thank heavens I found you! What are you doing here?” Her tiny hands clutched his poem to her heart, protecting the words they had read aloud every night. “Oh, sweetheart,” her mother said, then encircled her in her arms, and she was warm.

    Look for me in our favorites spots,

    In the books we read, in the candy shop.

    I’ll be with you when you start to school

    On the autumn wind, in a new found friend.

    Look for me, and there I’ll be

    In the flicker of light when the day turns to night.

    I’ll be there with you always.

  5. Press waited beside the historic hotel with its street light glaring like a beacon out at sea. Even here, several miles inland, you could smell the salty air.

    His confidential informant had agreed to meet him here. Their agreement had been on-going for exactly a year, and Press didn’t like loose ends. Whatever his CI had to offer, he was certainly willing to wait and weigh it on its own merits. Any homicide cop worth his badge would do the same, he thought as he pulled the collar of his leather jacket up around his ears. The late December night had become frigid once the sun went down.

    He heard the crunch of gravel and turned to see her come up the path toward the hotel. Her hand was tightly wrapped around the handle of a mid-sized overnight bag. He knew she was up to no good.

    “Detective,” she greeted him in her whiskey-toned voice. The light from the lamp above them made her hair shine a coppery red, and her heavy-lidded eyes stirred him as she came within inches of where he stood.

    “Well, I didn’t expect this?” He took in every inch of her provocative attire. “Did you bring the package?”

    “Oh, yes,” she answered as her hand ran up and down the closing of the soft leather jacket he wore.

    “Happy anniversary, Detective Andrews!” Special Agent Andrews whispered, thinking of the black silk nightie he’d had delivered to her office that afternoon.

  6. The perfume of impending rain clung to the crisp night air along with the gentle fog of his breaths. He should have worn a heavier jacket before leaving the house, but it was such a rare opportunity to get out the door without one of the kids. Tonight was boy’s night though. Tonight was the one night a year that he got to pull away from his ketchup glazed toddlers to see Hal.

    In the old days, he and Hal would watch the game and get drunk on the cheap stuff. He could still remember the metallic tang of Hal’s favorite gas station beers and smiled. Maybe he should have brought a pack, just for shits and giggles.

    The streetlight glowed dimly above him. He and Hal always met here. The lazy shit refused to walk very far from his car and the light post was equidistant from the bar and a parking space.

    He swallowed and wiped the moisture from his eyes when he saw Hal at the base of the light pole as he did every year. Hal’s memorial picture was weather worn and tearing at the corners.

    He stood for half an hour talking to his old friend, though he knew Hal wouldn’t talk back. When he finally started home, he knocked on the metal pole as if patting a friend on the shoulder and muttered softly, “I’ll see you next year.”

  7. That light! Mostly shadow. I’m listening…half-listening to a wistful lick from a trombone. It’s Duke Ellington’s brass man; it makes me think of a guy. He used to listen to it very hard, and then go crazy over it. It turns out to be a saxophone. He would have gotten mad and told me I shouldn’t even turn the record on if I didn’t listen anyway. How could anyone possibly get two instruments mixed up?

    Some woman’s singing “What is the Blues?” He always sat there on the other couch and was in a world all his own. He wouldn’t look at me, and he wouldn’t move. His eyes concentrated on this blue pitcher I had, only not really, because he was lost in the music.

    Then the music would stop and he’d come back raving all over the place about the singer and I’d try to share that with him. Only I could never say anything sharp because I hadn’t been listening in the first place—I was watching him. Then, just like now, I’d call a sax a ‘bone or I’d call some woman singer, a man.

    We did have time for each other in the same world, but it was at night after the music wasn’t playing, after the phonograph would click off. Then he would hold my hand and we would share that in the silence. So here I am now, sitting alone, looking at my blue pitcher and listening to some horn or something.

  8. Katy tilted her head and looked up at the light. The dusky sky behind it was beginning to brighten as she dropped her gaze and peered down the street again, looking for Max. Where was he? She tried to keep herself from feeling anxious, but today wasn’t the day to be running late.

    Her heart skipped a beat as thoughts of her test crept into her mind. Having spent the last two days on the tarmac, she imagined herself back out on the course. Her instructor’s voice was a calm reminder in her mind, guiding her through the exercises. Eyes up… look into your turn… watch your mirrors.

    The sounds of sputtering and clacking valves interrupted her thoughts as she turned to notice two dim and yellowing headlights bouncing toward her. Finally, she thought. Checking her watch, she told herself she had plenty of time, but she would need to hurry.

    As the rickety old truck came to a stop under Katy’s street light, Max shouted his greeting, “Sorry I’m late Katy, but this old gal just didn’t want to get rolling this morning.”

    As Katy climbed on the bumper to get her bundle of papers out of the back, she answered, “That’s okay Max, I’m going to make it, but I don’t have time to chat today!”

    Max smiled knowingly. He was proud of his young carrier. Not many fifteen year old's can boast of earning a motorcycle endorsement while saving their newspaper money to buy their first motorcycle.

  9. Street Light, Lonely Night

    The fog hangs thick and heavy, and the smoke from her cigarette curls through the mist, shading the glow of the street light to tanish-brown. Sounds of fishing boat fog horns blow their arrival, and the sunset glitters a distraction of blue, orange, and red in the evening dew. I’m here, and this is my last cigarette. Now where are you? Where is It? I think I'm late. The street light is already on. Hopefully I'm not too late. Hopefully I didn’t miss you. Or it. My cigarette is almost gone, and you’re still not here! And neither is It! The horns are quiet now. The night is too quiet.

    This is our spot. We meet here every week just before the street light turns on. But you 're not here—It's not here. What does this mean? Have I missed you? Have I missed It? How I miss you both. This is our place. This is our time. We have not missed one week since we discovered It. Did you get here earlier? Did you see It?

    As the light of the sunset surrenders to the glimmer of the street light, anticipation gives way to concern, and concern leads to a cold, dampening realization. Did you see It without me?!? Did you share It with someone else? Are you hiding It from me? Are you here hiding somewhere with It? Who am I kidding? Tonight, It is only the street light, my cigarette, and me.

  10. Passage

    In the summer evening, languid and thick and lazy, the pastor’s daughter sways on a creaky porch swing. Cloudy, with bits of pulp floating, a glass of lemonade sits untouched. With an eye to the street and a gentle sway, her nimble, quick fingers tat thin strands of silk.

    On the narrow road, neighbors pass. They are heading to where the church bell tolls. “Good evenings” are exchanged, along with a wink and nod.

    The girl will stay behind to rest with her lace. She is pale and prone to fainting. For just this afternoon, while picking wild flowers behind the Hall of Christ, she had fallen, fallen deeply.

    And once the evening prayers begin, the lace will be forgotten. Her restive fingers will find other things to do. She’ll loosen the ribbons from her hair, reach for him, and never let go.

  11. I was told it might not happen, but I was to wait under the street light. Only this street light and no other. It was mid-winter; heavy winds were blowing the snow sideways, and it was all I could do to keep this old, worn-out, tired body balanced. As I tried to comprehend why this night of all nights they said it would happen, I wrapped my hand-knitted Alpaca scarf around my neck trying to stay warm and calm.

    I was very nervous and I didn’t understand why it had to be done in such secrecy. Why couldn’t justice be carried out the right way? If justice mattered at all, I wouldn’t be standing here, waiting and wondering if it was going to happen. But I was the only logical choice until my son returned home from the war.

    A squeal of delight sounded behind me. I quickly turned around. They were walking towards me, then the oldest started running and it was all I could do to not start crying. Justice was partly on my side this night, but it wasn’t helping us against the woman who called them their mother and abandoned them; left them with a friend and ran to another state after getting caught shop lifting in a department store.

    The site of seeing my granddaughters coming to stay with me until my son came home was overwhelming and I began to ball like a baby as I scooped them up into my arms.

  12. I have suspicions, but the note is clear. Meet me under the street light in front of Micklin’s Books. There I will receive the item I have so desperately been seeking. A number of people know what it is I am after. Several have warned me it might prove more dangerous than helpful. I am willing to take that chance.

    They need to pay. They have destroyed me. Taken my money. Promised results with no intention of delivering. They have been untruthful, playing at fulfilling their agreements but only producing tripe and weak efforts that have damaged me and my efforts to distribute my products. My family is ruined. The funds I have wasted are almost all we had to live on for the rest of the year. These charlatans have stolen them. My wife is gone. She has taken our two children with her. My irresponsibility, she has explained to me, is beyond forgivable.

    A cold rain is falling as I approached the light. I care not. The rain hides the tears that fall as I remember the beautiful faces of Gina, my six year old sweetheart, and Paulie, my three year old tiger. Smiles for me all the time. Warm hugs filled with love. Happy laughter and bountiful curiosity. It echoes in my head. Flashes behind my eyes. Brings an emptiness. Drives my anger.

    I see her approaching. Carrying the parcel. The glow beneath the paper tells me it is indeed what I have sought. They will pay.

  13. Under the flickering fluorescence of the streetlight, Buzz shifted his weight nervously. He had tried to find a professional to handle this problem on his own, but he had eventually had to reach out to his former associate, Carter Blake, for help. Carter had an extensive network of political allies and the resources to contact a professional for just about anything.

    “The other clowns in this state are jokers. You want someone who’s gonna get the job done- no matter what- you call this guy.” Carter’s voice was gravelly, rumbling praise and warnings alike through the phone. “You don’t call him though, unless you know you need him. His price is not negotiable, Buzz. Not ever.”

    Buzz shuddered as he saw the darkened figure moving towards him and the light. “Speak of the devil” he whispered to himself. The man came to a stop in front of Buzz and flicked his cigarette off into the darkness before speaking.

    “I left my tools in the van.” he hissed, smoke spilling out from between yellowed teeth. “I require payment first.” Buzz took the invoice from him, hand trembling as he unfolded it.

    “Five thousand dollars.” Buzz read aloud. Carter Blake hadn’t lied, this guy was expensive. Buzz nervously cleared his throat before continuing. “They say you’re the best.”

    “They’re right.” the reply was acidic.

    Buzz cursed himself for taking streetlight repair as seriously as he did, and signed the invoice before handing it back.

  14. He stubbed his cigarette out and immediately lit another. He looked up at the light just as it came on. Seven O-clock, every night, far more trustworthy than her watch had ever been.

    He hated coming here.

    It was love for his son that brought him. Undying, relentless love.

    The judge said neutral locations for both parties was preferable because it cut down on tension. So for years he had shown up at quarter to seven every week and waited patiently for the light to glow. Gradually, as the years passed the evening rendezvous became more sporadic.

    He never mentioned the lost time, knowing he was the only one that cared. She certainly resented the obligation, and his son was slowly becoming a stranger. Time was against him.

    The truth was he had been replaced. He wasn’t ‘Dad’ anymore. It started slowly. First came the new man. Then bicycle lessons and catch in the backyard. Later came cell-phones and ‘R’ rated movies he had not allowed.

    He promised himself that when his son grew up the truth would come out. Purchased favoritism meant nothing next to a fathers limitless love.

    He lit another smoke, crushing the now empty pack. He only smoked here. At sixty years old, he should give them up. His son would be forty now, and hadn’t shown up at their light in twenty seven years.

    He reached up, removed the light’s glass dome and unscrewed the bulb. The darkness closed in and kindly concealed his tears.

  15. A moth kept batting against the light, completely distracting me. I needed to be on the look-out, but was too sketchy to ignore the bug. Korscheltellus lupulina, probably, the common swift moth. My cat loves to chase them, leaves one wing on my nightstand whenever he gets them.

    Must stay in control!

    Thoughts are running a mile-a-minute, and I can't stop them. I have to make sure no one sneaks up the fire escape while the deal is going on, but that moth keeps beating himself up with the light. Tap. Tap. Tap. My left eye starts with its tic, and I hug myself tight. Gotta stay in control. Boss won't ever let me be on look-out again if I screw this one up.

    I pace towards the corner, wishing for a cigarette. Or a bottle of Coke. One of those nice glass ones, from Mexico, where they sill make it with sugar. It would cut the cottonmouth, make it easier to swallow. The heavy weight in my hand would feel more like a weapon, would make me feel a little safer in this back alley full or garbage and piss.

    And I could throw the bottle at it when I finished.

    Picking at a fresh scab on my wrist, I wonder what the moth thinks he's going to find in the light. Why do any of us try to get into the light?

  16. She sat in the same place she felt like she’d always sat, cans and bags of forgotten supplements around her, as the air only grew more still and stifling and the day grew older. The light above her flickered on, and she was alone. She touched her empty stomach and sighed. The giggling of a little girl skipping by with her mother jolted her out of her inner abyss, and she eyed the pink eyelet lace, the bouncing curls tied up in ribbons. Surprise tears wet her face and she was confused. How had she gotten here? The smell of sharp alcoholic waste was around her. A runner went by with his dog in tow, a shop owner was re-arranging his magnetic sign, and a bicycle built for two went by with a happy tittering couple on board. Summer is here. She realized. Where did February go? She touched her empty stomach.

    With thick, watery eyes she took one last look around and returned to her dry-mouthed complacency. She had almost settled back into her unthinking daydreaming when his face appeared in front of her. He touched her matted hair and she flinched, growing angry. “Come home,” he said. She touched her empty stomach. “We can try again, or we can never think about it again. Just come home.” She yelled out in agony. Her baby was gone, and she would never feel at home again.

  17. I backed around the corner and leaned against the building, hoping some little heat might be trickling down from the dim street light above. There wasn’t any. I turned up the collar of my jacket and stuffed my hands in my pockets.

    Four gang-bangers were walking down the opposite side of the street, smoking and laughing. I tried to shrink into the building, hoping they wouldn’t see me. They were almost across the intersection, when one of them spotted me. He stopped and pointed. The others stopped too. They abandoned whatever mission they were on and started walking toward me.

    I wasn’t going wait any longer, I didn’t care how angry he’d be. I stood up and started to walk in the opposite direction. One of them yelled something at me. I couldn’t understand what he said, but I could hear their footsteps echoing off the building. I picked up the pace, the footsteps behind me followed suit.

    I saw three figures coming out of the gloom in front of me and I started to panic. But as they came into focus I breathed a sigh of relief. It was Uncle Billy, Eb, and Hank. “Where the hell have you guys been?” I gasped.

    “Eb forgot his bowling ball and we had to go back and get it,” said Billy. “Who the hell are those guys?”

    I turned and saw my pursuers walking away.

  18. "He should be here by now," Rolfe muttered to no one in particular as the drizzling rain collected in pools upon his rough canvas cloak. Once in a while one of the puddles would spill down onto the cobblestone street as he shifted to stay warm.

    A noise down the boulevard caused Rolfe to stir. Someone was headed his way, quickly. He quickly reached inside his cloak, drawing his dagger. Peering into the gloom, he tried to distinguish the approaching figure through the fog. Then the figures appeared, black shadows against the grey light of morning. It took Rolfe a moment to realize there were more than the one he had been told to meet.

    "That dog!" he said, cursing the man who had hired him for the job. Rolfe was supposed to slit the throat of whoever showed up and leave quietly. He glanced down at the knife in his hand which now felt grossly inadequate. "One, fine. Three, no way."

    As Rolfe turned to retreat silently into the night, he felt the familiar, and unpleasant, prick of a rapier pressed firmly against his throat. He looked up to see the skinny, rat-faced man who had given him the job. The man was dressed identically to the three approaching from down the street. The reason for the assignment suddenly became clear to Rolfe. The rat-faced man just smiled as he saw the realization in Rolfe's face.

    "Give my regards to the Goddess," he said, raising his sword.

  19. There was no moon tonight, which suited Kara just fine. She preferred to stay in the shadows. Out in the woods she felt safe, but this close to people made her nervous. Kara had promised Ethan she would wait here under the streetlamp while he gathered supplies, but she longed for the comfortable feel of her pack mates. Only her overriding need to be with Jacob kept her here.

    Until she had found him, bleeding and near death, Kara hadn’t realized she needed human companionship. Maybe it was the eyes, or the soft way he spoke to her as she nursed him back to health, but something awoke in her. Perhaps it was the way he accepted the wolves that had been her only companions these last eight years. Could he hear them the way she could?

    Footsteps approached and Kara ducked into the shadows, as skittish as a young wolf, ready to bolt. Relief flooded her as she recognized Ethan, and her heart began to flutter with something more.

    “Ethan.” she said, a wolfish whimper slipping into her voice.

    “I’m here, Kara,” he said, “now and forever.”

    She stepped back into the lamp light and looked up into his brown eyes, longing for his touch. Shivers ran up her spine as he brushed a hand across her cheek. Kara nuzzled into his chest and felt his love telegraphed through his beating heart.

    He was hers, and she his…for life.

    It’s the way of the pack.

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