Someone is Soon to Arrive

The room is ten by twelve.  The walls are freshly painted in a flat ivory latex.  The floor looks like wooden planks but is actually a laminate that does not stain, chip, or peel.  There is one window that has white plastic miniblinds.  One light is embedded in the ceiling.   A single bed is made up with white sheets, one pillow, and two flannel blankets, one olive green and the other navy blue.  Someone has drawn a picture of a face on the ivory wall.

34 responses to “Someone is Soon to Arrive

  1. The young man stared for a long time at the crude painting on the wall and at the words scratched into the paint below it. His English wasn’t very good yet. He’d have to work on that. He certainly had time now and no excuses for not studying.

    Every morning for the next two decades, the man woke up to the crude drawing and every day he wondered what the words beneath it meant. He had long since mastered English, as well as many other languages, but he could not understand the meaning of those words. Sometimes he thought it was in code, or–in his less fanciful moments–a little known colloquialism.

    The paint was peeling, the mini-blind had been removed shortly after he was put in the room. The so-called indestructible laminate flooring didn’t have a chance against the elements here and he’d long ago scraped the cracked stuff away.

    Finally came the day he was turned loose. They came for him, put him on a boat, and escorted him to an airplane when they reached the mainland. A few soldiers surreptitiously wished him well, but most remained silent. He was still considered a dangerous man by many, and people weren’t sure if they should be seen talking with him.

    The crude image on the wall of that room never left his mind. He had many visitors in the weeks that followed, and he asked each one what the words meant, but none knew.

    At last he was visited by an ambassador from the United States. “Tell me, please, ” said Nelson Mandela, “What does ‘Kilroy was here” mean?”

    • Well, this one begs to be rewritten. Another example of what I call “post haste.” Dashed it off before I went to bed at an ungodly hour this morning.

  2. I love the image of Mandela staring at Kilroy. The things you come up with in the wee hours of the morning and so quickly too. It takes me forever to write anything. Good one.

  3. galelikethewind

    Ralph’s wife was stunned when Dr. Harbort suggested Electric Shock Therapy for his deep seated depression. Images of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest jumped to mind.
    “This is the twenty first century, not 1950 ! “ she exclaimed.
    “Actually EST is quite a bit different today, even from just a few years ago.” said the doctor, “We provide drugs that minimizes the experience for the patient entirely. In fact, many patients have no recollection of the treatment at all, once it is over.” He went on to explain details of the process, and after consulting Ralph’s sister, Evelyn finally agreed to authorize the procedure. Anything will be better than the status quo, she thought to herself. Ralph’s near success with a suicide attempt last week had resulted in her calling 911, and to his admission into Scripp’s Institute, about ten miles for their home.
    “Another side effect of the treatment,” said Dr. Harbort, “is that Ralph will more than likely have a short term loss of memory for a few weeks after the session. So don’t be alarmed.”

    Ralph awoke from what seemed to have been one of his deep afternoon naps. Where am I? He looked around the room for clues. Everything was white, except for the colored blankets he was semi-swaddled in. As he wriggled his way loose from the wool covers, he noticed a drawing on the wall next to the bed. It was obviously done in his hand, and was one of his typical caricatures, a very beautiful woman. But who was it? He had no idea. He turned as he heard sound of the handle moving on the stark white door, and he stared as that same beautiful creature entered the room.

    “Why darling, you’ve drawn my likeness on the wall. Whenever did you do that?” asked Evelyn.
    “I haven’t the foggiest idea.” stammered Ralph, “And who the hell are you ?”

  4. The smiling woman squeezed her hand as she led her into the small room. “And here’s where you’ll sleep.”

    Lorena was momentarily blinded by the brilliant whiteness of the space as the early evening sunlight bounced off the walls. She sucked in a deep breath and coughed.

    “Oh, I’m sorry; we just finished painting it this morning when we heard you were coming. The smell will go away soon.” The lady hurried across the room, raised the miniblinds, and slid open the window as wide as it would go. “We’ll just air it out while we have dinner.”

    Lorena stood staring at the starkness of the space. A single bed with navy blue blanket hugged the wall. The floor reminded her of the doctor’s office she’d just come from.

    “Tomorrow we’ll get a dresser, a rug, and a pretty bedspread with matching curtains. And some new clothes, too,” the lady said looking at the shopping bag clutched in the girls arms. “You can leave your bag on the bed while we have dinner; it will be fine.” Lorena hugged it to her chest protectively. It contained all her possessions.

    Out of the corner of her eye, Lorena spotted a small drawing on the wall by the head of the bed and she stepped closer to inspect it. Dora the Explorer–her favorite cartoon character. She’d had a Dora the Explorer backpack once, but it had been stolen. Or maybe her mom had sold it to buy more drugs. She didn’t know.

    “Oh, my daughter Mandy must have snuck in here and stuck that on the wall for you. It’s a peel-off sticker, so you can take it down if you don’t like it. It’s Mandy’s favorite cartoon character. She’s anxious to meet you.”

    Lorena heard a quiet meow and turned towards the door. A blonde girl her age stood smiling at her shyly, holding a white kitten in her arms. “Do you want to pet Snowball? She’s my new kitty?”

    “Lorena, this is Mandy. She has the bedroom right next door to you.”

    “Do you like Dora?” Mandy asked.

    Lorena nodded. “Si.”

    “You want to come see my Dora stuff?” Mandy asked.

    Maybe living in a Foster Home would be better than living with her mom and the different men who came to their place each night–the men she hid in the closet to escape from.

    Lorena smiled, set her bag on the bed, and followed Mandy out of the room.

  5. To FigMince:

    Regarding your latest e-book, Wendy Gets a Life, the one you mentioned a prompt or two ago, I just finished Ch. 1 and reached these conclusions:

    1. You used up your lifetime allotment of hyphens on page 1.
    2. Your protagonist is a loose cannon.
    3. Your medications need fine-tuning.

    On to Ch. 2. Are you aware of anyone else reading this far, or am I the first?

    I know you live on an island off Australia’s eastern coast. Are you free from the dangers of the wildfires?

    PS: Nice to see some favorable reviews at Amazon.

  6. To Fig again:

    Oh, yes, I forgot to mention:

    4. You changed Darla’s name to Wendy.

    • I’d bought the hyphens in bulk, Gully, and had to use them before their use-by date. In fact, I employ them to make reading less confusing. For example, to my mind, ‘he over hyphenates’ is less immediately understandable than ‘he over-hyphenates’. Not unlike your hyphenation above, where ‘Your medications need fine-tuning’ works better than ‘Your medications need fine tuning’. I guess it’s a matter of personal style, of which I have little.

      As for other readers, ‘Wendy Gets A Life’ was available free for a few days before Christmas, and was downloaded by 500+ people, but so far there have been no reviews good or bad.

      The fires are a long way from us.

      • I was teasing about the hyphens. When the first page showed up on my Kindle, in the larger size type I chose, it looked like every word was hyphenated. And, yes, I agree with your hyphenating. Makes more sense. Anyway, I’m enjoying the book, but, boy, that Wendy is a handful.

        Actually, I soon started seeing this as a screen play–a horror movie in which the author desperately tries to control his characters run amok, something every writer can relate to. By chapter 14, I changed it to a comedy. That;s where I left off early this morning–ch. 14. Love all the author’s interjections into the plot.

        Glad you’re fire-free. Wildfires, that is. The reviews I read were for Love, Peace etc., I guess.

      • I have purchased your ebook and found it quite sufficient. I propose the following Amazon review, should it meet with your approval.

        This is a wonderful tale of two fictional characters and their fictional relationship. It’s also a fictional tale of their relationship with the (fictional?) author, the details of which are best left undisclosed to those who have not yet purchased the book.

        Things I’ve said about this book;

        “A superb translation from the original English.”

        “It makes me happy I can read!”

        “This eBook is heavy enough to keep my iPad flat.”

        Highly recommended. Next Christmas, everyone in my family will be getting the ebook, “Wendy Gets a Life.” That is, unless the movie is out by then.

      • Love it, Gary, especially the ‘translation’ line. Thanks for the response.
        And Gully, well picked up. It actually started out life as a sitcom nobody wanted to know about, with Wendy arguing with an off-camera director.

  7. A single bed with one pillow. Odd thought the Inspector. Doubly odd was the fact that the pillow was placed at one end of the bed and not somewhere in the middle. To the trained eye of the Inspector, this demonstrated a lack of randomness that could only mean the pillow had purposely been placed in that exact spot. He was obviously dealing with someone capable of cold calculation.

    Then, there were the blankets. Why were they on the bed? They could be anywhere in the room, but they were on the bed. And, not just on the bed, they were arranged in symmetrical harmony with the bed itself. This, thought the Inspector, is the kind of thing one sees only in magazines.

    Of course, it was not just the position of the blankets that intrigued the Inspector. He noticed there were two blankets, and they were of different colors. This was certainly a misdirection ploy. A single bed with one pillow having two blankets? Brilliant, he thought, having gained a new level of respect for his foe.

    But then, what of the colors?

    Before the Inspector could answer that question, his keen olfactory sense lead him in a different direction. The room had a strong odor. It was an odor he had experienced before. But, where? Was it Chateau Marmont? No, no, that was a much different smell. This odor brought with it a recollection of a strange and somewhat magical event.

    Then, it hit him. Color. This smell occurs when things change color; just as his office had last spring when the men in overalls were about.

    It was clear to him now. He was in a place that was not as it appeared; at least not as it appeared in the recent past.

    A good Inspector knows that clues are left in the tiny out-of-the-way places that are seldom noticed, seen, or cleaned. He kicked at the floor with the tip of his shoe.

    Perfect! Wooden planks. He knew without doubt; evidence could easily be obtained from the nooks and crannies of the floorboards.

    Yet, despite his considerable skill with a knife and magnifier, ten minutes work produced little, and his knife had become shockingly dull.

    Feeling as though he had all the information he could digest in one day, the Inspector decided to return to his office. As he turned off the light and closed the door on the tiny room, he wondered what his adversary might look like. If only he could know that, the case would be solved posthaste.

    • Sounds like Inspector Clousseau (spelling?). A lot of nothing adding up to a lot of nothing. Ha!

      • What I was going for was the keen attention to insignificant detail that takes in everything except the self portrait the of the wanted man on the on the wall. I’m not sure I closed the deal on that.

  8. Isn’t it interesting how some prompts work better than others? All four of the above responses are great, yet from wildly different points-of-view. Well done, everyone.

  9. I’m the face on the wall. I drew myself here. You figure that out. It does give me a certain omniscience since anyone who can draw their own self has a certain ultimate power, don’t you think? What I can’t figure out is why I gave myself such a boring room to look out onto. I guess I do have limitations after all. Now that I think about it, I have quite a few. I can’t move on; I can only watch what goes on in this little room. My expression is fixed; no speaking either.

    This is boring. I’m going to conjure up some inmates. One man, one woman. Let’s see, I don’t want to go all Adam-and-Eve here, but there are possibilities in this. I could have brought in two women, after all. But no. More dynamics this way. Okay, folks. Let the fun begin.

    “I’m Hans. I think we’re supposed to wait here. Who are you?” He turns to the woman. He’s polite, anyway.

    “I’m Rhonda. I’m happy to wait. I have no idea what’s going on, but everyone has been very nice so far. You sit on the bed. I’ll just plunk myself down against this wall.”

    “I would sit down, but there is a face on the wall, and I don’t want it behind me. Did you see it?”

    Rhonda peers at me, rubbing her lips with the fingers of one hand. “It looks a little like the man in the moon. Kind of there, but not quite clear.”

    Hans licks his lips. “He has a look on his face like he can read my thoughts. He makes me nervous.” Well, I should! I conjured him up, after all.

    “Maybe if we talk to him,” Rhonda suggests. “Maybe he knows something; maybe he can help us understand why we’re here. Hello, Mr. Face. What are you thinking? Can we do anything for you?” If I could blink; I would blink now. But I can’t. I wait.

    “I think he blinked,” says Hans. “I think he’s nodding. I think he’s a good face.”

    Too easy! I decide to have a thunderstorm. Full bore. Lightning. Thunder. Power outage.

    “Oh no,” says Rhonda. “I think we made him mad. Think of some way to please him. Quick!”

    “Oh Face,” says Hans, bowing slightly and pulling Rhonda over so she has to bow too. The lights flicker on, but the rainstorm continues. “We’re sorry. We just want you to help us and understand that we know nothing. We’re here waiting. We don’t know what to do.”

    That’s more like it, I think. I may be just a face on the wall, but to these two, I’m in charge of events. So many possibilities.

  10. No, but it sounds like I better download a copy!

  11. I still don’t know what happened. Or how. One moment Rhonda and I were having sex in a motel, then suddenly we were in a white room somewhere, buck-naked.

    I was quick. Whatever was going on, we had to keep our secret. For all anyone knew there could’ve been cameras somewhere. I caught her eye.

    “I’m Hans,” I said very formally, as if I’d never seen her before. “I think we’re supposed to wait here. Who are you?”

    She understood. “I’m Rhonda,” she replied. “I’m happy to wait. I have no idea what’s going on, but everyone’s been very nice so far. You sit on the bed. I’ll just plunk myself down against this wall.”

    Huh? ‘Everyone’s been very nice so far’? I didn’t understand that bit, but she was certainly playing it very cool.

    There was some kind of face drawn on the wall. We stared at it. And suddenly all hell broke loose outside, wherever outside might’ve been. Thunder, rain, and then the light went out for maybe a minute or two. And when it came on again, there was something different about the face.

    “Hey, look at that,” I said. “The face has changed.”

    Rhonda came to my side and looked. And yelped.

    “Oh God,” she whispered. “It’s, it’s Harry!” She huddled herself behind me, peering over my shoulder. “Hans, that’s my husband Harry’s face!”

    “No,” I whispered back. “It’s Helen. My wife.”

    The lights fizzled and we were in darkness again. Then they came on again. No, it was the flashing glow of the big ‘Holiday Inn’ sign outside the window. We were back in the motel room.

    I rolled away from her. “Um, listen,” I said. “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea, y’know?”

    I needn’t have bothered. She was already pulling her clothes on.

    “I don’t know what just happened there, Hans,” she said. “But I don’t think we can ever see each other again.”

    ‘Yeah,” I said. “I think we might’ve just looked into the face of guilt.”

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