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These are workshop writing exercises which may or may not be turned into a short story or a novel at some later time. They’re just here for fun. For more information, please go to

Fiction Samples

Darrell L. Hill

Page 1

The Widow Greta shuffled to the worn wicker chair on the porch where she had sat almost every night for the last 52 years when the weather was reasonable. About two years ago, she’d slathered a coat of rich azure paint on the woven surface of the chair hoping the paint would hold it together like glue. She flinched whenever she thought of throwing something like that old chair away. The piece of furniture, plaintively creaking as she sat on it, announced to her it would not last much longer. The old woman took a swig of the clear liquid direct from the quart Mason jar that Old Xavier had given to her when she traveled to Constantine earlier that day. She tried to pay him for the hooch, but he would not take it. Old Xavier shrinking away from a dollar. She shook her head at the thought.

She studied the sun slipping behind the mountains that surrounded the flat wasteland of the desert basin. This is where she had sulked away her adult life. Greta knew the sky in the west would soon display exotic colors. Purples, red, and oranges as if they were reflecting the colors of tropical fruit bowl. If she looked east, she would see the approach of a dark sky speckled with crisp dots representing stars in a style that only a desert could render. As she swallowed a generous amount from the jar, she felt alone but not afraid. The tilt of the land allowed Greta to see a car threading toward the house on the dusty road as far as eight miles away to the north and five miles to the south. The hostile weather stunted the short scrub that dotted the basin floor. No one coming toward the small house could cloak his approach. Besides, she had her shotgun. She was alone, armed, and not afraid. The years had taught her to find comfort in that.

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The Shrink "This is my first time to see a shrink," George Braverman said. "Oh sorry. I hope ‘shrink’ isn't offensive." "Hmmmmm," said Dr. Smythe moving his pen on the pad of paper perched on his knee. "What brings you here?" "Well, I'm starting my fourth job in three years. I can't seem to stick to anything. I lack confidence. Ya know, it's like I start something and then become very concerned about doing a good a job. And I worry about it so much that I eventually feel paralyzed. Then I don't accomplish anything. Ya know what I mean?" "I'm not sure," replied Smythe looking up briefly from his pad. "How long has this been going on?" "I can't ever remember feeling very confident about anything." "When did you first notice it? "Well, I played basketball in high school. I wasn't very good. In fact, I sucked. My damn coach was the sort of bastard that would remind me that I sucked every chance he got." "I'm going to ask you a question, and it may not seem relevant at this point, but try to answer anyway. Alright?" "Sure," said George. "Let's get this ball rolling." "What did you wear when you played basketball in high school? Describe it thoroughly for me." "Um... Okay. I wore a blue t-shirt under a white tank top with blue stripes on it and some blue baggy shorts. And some high top sneakers. Why?” "Patience, my dear man. I have a surprise for you." "Uhh...Okay." "Were there cheerleaders at your games?" "Of course. That's pretty standard in high school." "And your favorite cheerleader? What color was her hair?" "That would be Maxine Haskell. She had red hair." "Very good," said Dr. Smythe.

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"Yeah, I had such a crush on Maxine. I asked her to the homecoming dance. Of course, she said no. I asked at lunch and then I saw her go back to her table with her friends and all the girls at the table looked over in my direction. They all laughed. I was humiliated. I wanted to leave that school and never come back. Then-" "Stop," shouted Smythe. "What's a matter? What? What happened?" asked George. "It's time for your surprise," said Smythe with a giggle. "I've always wanted to be a caricature artist at the pier. Anything to get me out of this dreary office with all these sad people. Look. I made you something." He turned his pad around presenting a drawing in black ink of a stick figure wearing baggy shorts and a t-shirt and shooting a basketball. The face was two dots and curve for a smile. Beside it was a stick figure wearing a skirt with almost identical facial features but with a crown of curly hair. The word "Red" was written to the side of the girl-figure with an arrow pointing at the squiggles where her hair was supposed to be. On the top of the page between the two figures was a Valentine heart. "This is for you," said Smythe tearing the page from his pad. "Take it home and put it on your refrigerator so that you can remember our day together. I hope you enjoy it."

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The Mongrel The mongrel sniffed the cornerstone of the bank that had been standing guard over the alley entrance forever. He lifted his leg to tell trespassers he had been there. Once he marked his territory, the mutt loped down the alleyway. Light dappled the passageway like spotlights on a stage. The dog preferred skulking in the dark until he was sure there were no humans lingering in the brick canyon. The humans resented the stray for upsetting their garbage cans in his search for food. When caught, he received kicks and projectiles for his trouble. He found comfort in the shadows while he reconnoitered the scene. The winter wind stabbed the dog, and at the same time carried smells that excited his senses. Here rotted anything the humans no longer wanted. Clothing, paper, cardboard, food... The staff of Flannery's Steakhouse filled their cans with bones that had morsels clinging to them. The mongrel separated the beef smell from the others and concentrated on it. His nose told him there was a banquet waiting for him tonight. A Studebaker swerved from the street lighting the alleyway. The dog crouched and watched as it stopped. Men exited the car, removed something from the trunk, reentered the car, and left. What remained was a smell that caused the dog to tilt his head. He didn't recognize it. His curiosity triumphed over his hunger, and he followed his nose to the smell. Besides, the smell might represent food. The men had deposited a human. Shadows hid the body. The dog approached sniffing and creeping, all the while prepared to escape should he need to. That it didn't move gave him the confidence to study it. Had he lived with humans, he might have known about corpses. Had he accompanied a human to Flannery's Steakhouse, he might have known that this was the corpse of Jim Custle. Custle used to be a waiter.

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Bloated Formality Being an early adopter of things technological, the man ordered the new Kindle Fire HD months before the devices were actually available. He bound to this order a leather cover which was included at an additional cost. But time presented evidence of other choices regarding similar tablets but with diverse purposes and affiliations. Instead of a tablet strongly affiliated with Amazon, he decided that in the service of his trade, the one affiliated with Microsoft was largely more suitable. Adding to the evidence against choosing the Fire HD, the man confessed contentment with the earlier nascent Kindle Fire that was already among his possessions and provided all that he needed for simple reading. In addition, this earlier copy was, in fact, still in superb condition. Many weeks prior to the expected date of the delivery of the Fire HD, the man received an electronic missive from Amazon stating that a confirmation was needed in order to finalize the transaction. The missive also offered the alternative of inaction in order to quit the purchase. Having previously determined that he would not own the Fire HD, the man adopted inaction as his means of action. On an otherwise uneventful Monday, upon checking the postal delivery the man found a parcel among the letters and bills. In the parcel was a leather cover of the size and the shape that was singularly appropriate to the Kindle HD. This leather protector of Kindles was priced at an exorbitant $45 and could not be utilized except on a Kindle HD. There was nothing to consider. That man determined he would return the cover without delay. He, however, felt it was a mild assault on common sense that Amazon would send the cover while cancelling that which was to have occupied the cover. Adding to this mild insult was the vexing exercise of packaging and delivering the undesired cover to a carrier for return to the corporation.

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Fiction Samples