November 5, 2010

TRDC: Dump Your Junk


We're borrowing this week's Red Writing Hood prompt from NaNoWriMo Prompts, a blog dedicated solely to National Novel Writing Month.

Here's your prompt:

"Your protagonist empties the contents of his/her pockets, purse, and/or backpack onto a table. What all was dumped onto the table?"

But, we're going to ask for more than a list of contents...this is merely a jumping off point.


"There! That's everything in my pockets. Are you happy now!?" The spittle converging at the corners of Chuck's mouth as he ranted was not doing him any favors. He already looked completely disheveled and he had a liquor stink-bubble surrounding anything within five feet of him.

Anna, breathing through her mouth, watched impassively as one of his nickles rolled off the kitchen table and landed at her feet. She was mildly amused by the fact that it landed head's up. Tonight was apparently full those.

Her first head's up had come hours earlier. She was just settling in to watch some of her DVR shows, the ones that Chuck hated, when the phone rang.


"Anna, this is Gary...from Chuck's office?"

"Hi Gary, how are"

"I really didn't want to get involved here, but someone needed to tell you. He's being so blatant about it"

"Gary, what are you talking about?"

"Chuck. He's at Ride 'Em Stallion and he seems to be getting a lot of attention from one dancer in particular. I don't know how to say this but...they um...well, they went to the back room."

Anna had been raised to be polite at all costs. So despite the fact that she wanted to cry, scream and throw up all at once, she graciously thanked Gary for telling her and gently hung up the phone.

Hours passed without any recognition. Anna simply sat at the kitchen table, clutching a long gone cold cup of tea and stared. She would occasionally think, "I knew this was coming" or "I've ignored so many things, maybe I should let this go to." She had been leaning that way, in fact, until Chuck stumbled in reeking of booze and boobs.

She demanded, in a completely steady voice, to know where he had been. She couldn't believe how calm she sounded. Of course he made up some ridiculous story about wooing a new client. And again, in the calmest tone possible, she asked where he had been. She further explained that while wooing a client was something that men did on occasion, it was very infrequently the temps who did the wooing.

Chuck had been out of work for months, and had only just started working as a temp at a software company in town. There was little chance that he would move up or be hired permanently, but it was a least some money in the door. And given the fact that most of his day was spent filing or fetching coffee, there was little chance he would be asked to woo a new client.

The apparent slight to his manhood, to his ability to provide for the family, was the breaking point. Chuck reached into his pockets, threw the contents onto the table and yelled, "There! That's everything in my pockets. Are you happy now!? Maybe you can Dr. Seuss where I was!"

Clearly he had meant some combination of Dr. Watson and Sherlock, but Anna didn't bother to correct him. She was mesmerized by the contents of his pockets. They were spread on the table like a museum exhibit. There were all the things you would expect; a wallet, change, keys, and a cell phone. But there were also some very odd items too. There was a broken cigarette, a suspicious amount of dollar bills, a book of matches from the Ride 'Em Stallion, and a drugstore receipt. And every piece of it was covered in flakes of tobacco. It looked like a tiny tornado had ripped through Chuck's pocket leaving everything shrouded with debris.

She paused a moment over the broken cigarette, Chuck didn't smoke, he never had. That was curious. And then the receipt caught her attention. On the back in a bubbly 'I dot my I's with hearts' kind of hand was the name Vixen, a phone number, and a kiss in garish, red lipstick. Anna dropped the receipt as if it had burned her, as if it would burn when she peed just from having touched it. It fluttered to the table and landed face up.

3 Items Were Purchased, it said. As Anna scanned upward she saw Pringles (even cheating scumbags need a snack), mouthwash (to get rid of the Pringles breath she assumed), and at the top of the list, in black and white, Trojan Magnums. She grabbed the receipt to make sure she had seen that right, chancing the additional penicillin she would no doubt need from the extra contact. And a heartbeat later she was snorting, then giggling, then all out, hunched over howling in laughter.

That was not the reaction Chuck had been expecting as he paced nervously watching her sort through the contents of his pockets. "What? What are you laughing at?" he timidly demanded.

Anna, gulping for breath finally managed, "Of all the things I thought were horrible about this thinking you need Trojan Magnums is by far the most tragic."