Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Goodbye Daddy Part Two, A Saturday Centus

Jenny Matlock

Centusians Assemble! 

And with that rallying cry echoing out across the planet, the Earth’s mightiest short, short story writers converged once again to put their literary skills to the test against the evil forces of verbosity, superfluousness and the nagging discomfort of logorrhea. 

Disguised as a mild-mannered writing blog, Jenny Matlock’s off on my tangent was also the super secret domain where the Mighty Centusians, those brave and crafty wordsmiths whose fertile imaginations could propel a reader into unimaginable realms of wonder, would come each week and devise ever-elaborate creative stories and poems using a maximum of only 100 words.   

As quickly as 60 words per minute they were there, at the Centusian secret compound, waiting for their instructions for the week. 

“I heard she was going to have us write a fake obituary for someone we really can’t stand,” said Synoptic Chick.

“Ha ha!  That’s cool!” chuckled Laconic Lad.  “Someone told me she was going to have us write a 100 word essay from the perspective of the proverbial fly on the wall, only the fly is supposed to be at your crazy neighbor’s house.”

“What’s this I hear you say about a fly on the neighbor’s wall?” Captain Concise asked as he floated into the room, his cape gently falling to his side.  “Why, that sounds like a hoot!”

“I know,” Laconic Lad laughed, “It’s just the sort of thing that Jenny….er, I mean The Fantastic Fictionist, would think up.  She’s so crazy creative sometimes it makes you just want to split infinitives for no reason.”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, LL,” chimed Synoptic Chick.  “You are still not out of the doghouse for those dangling modifiers from week seven.”

They all laughed and then waited as more of the Centusians arrived and took their places around the C-shaped table.  Captain Concise greeted them all briefly, as that was his way.

“Good to see you, Succinct Scribbler!  Welcome back, Epigrammatic Girl!  Hello again, Compendiary Kid!  How’s it hanging, Abbreviated Boy!  Condensed Chronicler!  Pithy Prose Man!  Welcome, welcome! 

Oh, it’s you again, is it Baby Chopping Dude?  Hmmm.  Oh well.”

One by one they entered and sat before the huge video monitor on the wall waiting for it to hum to life with this week’s challenging meme assignment.

Well, except for Anecdotal Arnold.  He wasn’t really a part of the group.  He just cleaned up around the place and told amusing stories about his cat, Nuisance, and the funny road kill items it would bring to bed with him.

Suddenly there was a crackle sound and a flash (as you know good internet service is so hard to get in some parts of Arizona) and before them rose the ten foot tall, thirteen foot wide face of their fearless leader, The Fantastic Fictioner! 

“Greetings fellow Centusians!  And thank you for joining me so quickly.  I have this week’s assignment to pass along to you, but before I do, I wanted to ask you a question.  Do my pores look alright to you?”

She asked the same question each week and every week the Centusians answered in the affirmative.  In all honesty some were getting kind of sick of it and were to the point that one week very soon they were going to spring an answer on her that she wouldn't like at all just to get back at her.  Some even fantasized about her reaction with much delight.

“Blackheads?  Dry scaly skin?  Enlarged pores?  Auuuugghhhhhh!”

Fortunately they were in the minority and most were perfectly happy to tell her that, yes, she had lovely skin.

“Centusians, I am proud to say that the enemies of Centusland are in retreat!  The evil Lady Tautology and her nefarious partner in crime, Lord Loquacity, have fled rather than tempt us to go over the word count with our 100 word essays.  It is a very great victory for us and for short, short story writers everywhere!” she exclaimed.

“Good riddance to bad Tau Taus,” quipped Baby Chopping Dude, though, as usual, no one laughed.

“Here is this week’s assignment.  You are to take a previous Saturday Centus story, one that either you or one of the other Saturday Centus writers wrote, and write a continuation of it including the original story with your post.  There is no prompt, no special title and no extra rule other than the usual keeping it to no more than 100 words total.  Just link it to this week’s meme post and we will stop by to read it and comment on it.  You got that?”

A hand rose up from the table.

“Yes, Impossibly Short Short Story Guy?  You have a question?”

“Ummm.  Yeah, FF.  I was wondering if rather than do a continuation, if I could do a prequel.  You know, because at the end of my stories everybody always dies.  And I’m not comfortable working with zombies or that genre.”

Now it must be mentioned here that not all of the Centusians were blessed with that spark of brilliance that made their stories flow like a mountain stream through a verdant redwood forest.  For Gilbert, who had picked out his own name, Impossibly Short Short Story Guy, his stories flowed more like a teenager on a rollercoaster – apparently after taking LSD.

“No.  Just deal with it,” was FF’s brief reply.

“I’ll expect your stories within the week.  Remember, 100 words!  I’m looking at you, Master Supercilious!”

A few loud groans could be heard from the group.

“And remember…it is of the utmost importance that we keep our secret society a secret.  If other people knew that Centusians were super creative beings, and had a clue about our true identities, then the world of short, short fiction writing would be in great peril.  Do you understand me clearly, Baby Chopping Dude?”

“Yeah, whatever,” came the impassive reply.

OOPS!  Did I just hit the Publish Post button?  Oh darn it!  Sorry about that Jen…er, I mean FF!

Here is my Saturday Centus contribution for this week.  It is a continuation of my very first Saturday Centus endeavor from way back in week two.  (Ahh, I was such a bright and promising Centusian back then.  I wonder, what happened?)  It was some poetic verse I called “Goodbye Daddy.”  I’ve included the original in italics as well as my continuation.  I hope you like it.

Goodbye Daddy (Part One)

Back home.

I walk the dirt path I’d known as a child.

Memories rush forth,

filling my senses like so many vivid dreams.

The smell of barbecue hangs heavy in the air,

mixing with the dingy air of poverty, rusted

factories and cotton fields.

Daddy’s life and love had been the river.

Oh, the times spent catfishin’, daddy singing

the blues to music flowing from a nearby juke joint,

or playing his harmonica.

Damn, but the man could play.

I look back over my shoulder, 

squinting into the late afternoon sun,

gawking with stunned alarm

at the broad rolling muddy waters

of the Mississippi,
wondering if daddy is up there in heaven now,

smiling and listening to his delta blues.

The tears flow.

Goodbye Daddy (Part Two)

That he will be missed,

there is no question.

I’ll remember the gleam in his blue-gray eyes

as they sparkled in the pale moonlight,

and his gentle, loving voice as he calmed my fears

as we visited Mama’s grave.

I’ll miss the roar of his laughter,

His crooked smile as I’d catch him cheatin’ at cards...again.

But my tears are his tears today.

To never again hear the whippoorwill call,

watch the herons glide across the dusky sunset,

nor see them steamboats churnin’ that muddy water

That he loved so much.

Oh the Sunday fishfrys he’ll never know,

drinkin’ Pabst Blue Ribbon,

Eating his favorite biscuits with red-eyed gravy,

and singing the delta blues.

As far as Daddy was concerned,

He was already in Heaven.

Jenny Matlock

Join The Centusians!  
(Unless You Are Tom Cruise)



  1. Loved this Tom! Little did you know, you were describing my Daddy. Right down to the PBR. Beautiful, seamless transition between the two stories. I felt like I was sitting on that river bank with you. Perfect. And as always, your introduction left me speechless (and that takes some doing, just ask DH) It's so much fun to be part of a secret society :) Kat

  2. This is a wonderful, sweet piece with beautiful imagery, Tom. It all flowed together very nicely - except the pre-piece part when Anecdotal Arnold took things off track. Good job reining him in.

  3. I really enjoyed this, it was filled with such wonderful imagery.

  4. That you manage to get 1000 extra words in most weeks with your prequel to the week's theme always amuses me. This week more than most. Brilliant opening.

    Loved both parts of the actual Centus. There's a bit of the poet in you just trying to peek out.

    If you want short, try Friday Flash 55 (yep, 55 words) or Sunday 160 (160 characters including spaces). I'd love to watch you go slowly insane. Mwahahahaha!

  5. "watch the herons glide across the dusky sunset"

    I like images like that.

  6. BRAVO! You've done it again! And as for Tom Cruise--blehh!

  7. Let join in with another BRAVO! AND dangling modifiers are UNDER appreciated.

    Let them dangle.

    It's all in good fun.


    hee hee

  8. I still remember that first Centus and how great a writer I thought you were and still are. I always look forward to see what you'll be up to, you never disappoint. Good job.

  9. Nice job! Now you'd better ask for the prompt early so you will get the next one in on time. :)

  10. aww how sad but lovely to read. im not sure if you were talking from a real story or not but it really touched me.

  11. Trying to read this post without laughing out loud. Darn that barista that gave me caffeine in my 2 pm coffee.

    I almost skipped over this tonight fearful that I would awake Mr. Jenny from his snoring slumber.

    I'm with Viki here. The first time I read your post, I thought...ummm.... why is this guy here? Obviously he should be busy on his current book tour.

    I suspect that as I keep reading your amazing work I will continue to edge closer and closer to bi-polar tendencies.

    I laugh until my stomach hurts at your intro...and this time I ended up teary eyed at your sequel.

    Tom. You are really a wonder.


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