#noirwednesday: the halfway house

Picture by: Stephen Tanham

If you would take a hot air balloon ride with me over the intermountain valley, the geography below is like a crazy quilt wafting on a clothesline. Bright colours of villages; special patterns of different crops; shades of woods green; aqua of lakes. The cross-stitched thin line of fences, embroidered spider web of roads; lattice work of canals and rivers. The activities of man against the backdrop of a still existing natural world.

As we take our ride, birds salute, farmers’ wives and children wave, wind carries us close enough down to smell the wildflowers. Below us a cacophonous kaleidoscopic landscape. Except for what would appear, in this metaphor, as a 1/2 white 1/2 black square exactly in the middle of our quilten land.

That square represents the Half Way Coffee House – halfway between heaven and hell where God, Satan and their minions meet to discuss matters concerning man.

Visitors from Hell feel at home with the steaming espresso makers and acrid coffee grinds. The hissing and pounding perfect ambience.

Guests from above appreciated the whipped cream Frappuccino’s; slim soya milk lattes, the “do something good for the world posters”

Soft coaches and chairs covered in a discreet black and white check are scattered around the room.Tables are set up for games such as cards and chess as they really do play  for the souls of the dead and all that.

From the out side the Half Way Coffee House crumbling customs house when, in medieval times, the town was two municipalities. The idea was a man in trade going to check on his shipment would pay for the privilege to cross over without getting wet, and pay the same upon return, or only duty stamps that ran in the rain would be affixed. In those days of climate change, it rained a lot. And since money is the root of all evil; giving the way to grace, when the building became available Satan and God signed a monthly pact concerning ownership, behaviour, devils or angels nights out, renting to death metal bands or choirs.

As for that unwitting tourist now that folks from beyond the mountains or visitor from another municipality or burg, enticed by the aroma of coffee wanders in, it all depends upon the door they enter as whether their prospects are looking up or down. It is said only those with a pre-determined date can smell the chia latte macchiato, and go in.

As we float our balloon, just that much closer, I smell . . . is that a caramel Frappuccino?

I need to thank Michael Grogan for creating Wayne and Greg, his denizens of heaven and hell. You’ll find their hilarious stories at his blogsite: Morpethroad. I riffed heavily off his idea! And to Chris de Burg for Spanish Trains and other Stories. And, special thanks, of course, to Steve Tanham for hosting #noirwednesday.

© tale weaver phylor



Childhood. Yesterday — Microfiction challenge #1: Childhood

1280px-Alwin Arnegger_jpg

Alwin Arnegger

I allow myself the luxury of a yearly membership to the Met.* Cheaper than a therapist on this grey grizzly February afternoon, and early access to special exhibits. “Childhood. Yesterday.” Running through several galleries, the paintings depicted childhood at various points in artistic (and societal) history.

The exhibition rooms seemed extraordinarily hushed. An exhibit on childhood should be boisterous, or whiny, or well, not quiet, I thought.

I stepped into a niche to allow some rare visitors past. Glancing at the painting there, I saw myself – the two long thick braids; the low left-sided part; the barrette, now sitting in an antique dish on my dresser, to hold back the bangs I’d tried to cut. Even the single red ear bauble – my mother’s – that I now fingered in wonder. I didn’t know the boy – sailor suit and smugness. I only knew the imagining of me, the sadness, hiding tears of grief.

I sat on the nearest bench, attempted to clear my head, then reexamined the painting. In 1915, I sat for a childhood portrait. Maybe this year, I should have invested in a therapist, I thought. (192)

* Metropolitan Museum of Art; Membership

Imagined for Jane Doughtery Writes Microfiction Challenge #1: Childhood.

Jane writes of her new challenge:

Microfiction is what you’d imagine—very short. It can be as short as you want, but for this challenge I’d like you to set yourselves a word limit of 200. . . .

Please join in and leave a link to your blog post in the comments. If you would like readers to leave critical comments, just say so. We’ll see how that works out. And pass the word along—the more the merrier. I’ll do a round up next Thursday and post a new theme on Friday. Have fun!