Desert Island Shaves

This is the fictionalized account of my “Desert Island” week.  I stuck with one set of shaving gear for the week, as if I were stranded on a desert island, and didn’t change anything until the end of the week. The original manuscript was in the form of a short story, but I lost the notebook that it was in, so I created this little piece to take its place.  Enjoy.

Day 1

I’m stranded on a desert island thanks to a helicopter tour gone wrong, but it’s not all bad.  My Ogallala Bay Rum, Limes, and Peppercorn soap and my Body Shop Maca Root shave cream are here to remind me of civilization.

I wet my face from the shallow pot of water that I have heated over my small campfire and begin to lather up using my elegant, but robust Art of Shaving Fine Badger brush.  The slowly setting sun gleams off of its ebony handle as it effortlessly applies the superlather to my face.  I inhale the spicy, yet subtly green fragrance of my lather and am silently thankful for the little things in life.

I strop my vintage Union Cutlery 5/8 full hollow square point straight razor on a small leather travel strop while admiring its ivory scales and stainless steel bolsters.  When it’s set, I bring it to my face and marvel as it slides effortlessly down my skin.  Three passes later my face and neck are clean, smooth, and soft.  I feel better than I have all day and all it took was a shave.  I lay back and watch the sun dip bellow the horizon. And I wonder when they’ll notice that I’m still not back…

Day 2

My tarp is desalinating more water this morning and I spend some of my time trying to carefully work out a ration schedule for my dried food.  Once I figure out how to make it last a week, I begin to do my best to capture some of the crabs scattered across the beach.  I manage to get two small beasties and toss them into the slowly boiling slat water for my lunch.

As the day winds down and there are still no indications of anyone else living on my small island I settle down to perform my calming ritual by pulling out my shaving gear.  I smile as the creamy lather slides across my face and revel in the feel of quality badger hair as it caresses my skin.  Tonight I may still be stranded, but my skin will feel free.

Day 3

My spirits are starting to flag, my tarp is still doing an excellent job of desalinating water, and I have enough dried food and crab to last a while, but I was hoping to see a rescue plane by now.  I’m only an hour off shore, but it may as well be the other side of the world.  These islands are so rarely visited and so spread out that it could be weeks before I am found…if they’re even looking for me.

I do my best to put those thoughts out of my mind and begin to strop my razor in preparation for my shave.  These shaves are the only things that can quiet my mind enough to allow me to sleep.  As I guide the 5/8 blade across the leather I become mesmerized by the gleam of light off of the polished mirror like edge.  My mind calms and I relax into a smooth, three pass shave.

Day 4

I’ve explored my tiny island a bit today, but there is depressingly little to see.  A small palm, banana tree, and brush forest with a few critters here and there are the only living things besides bugs.  There are rocks everywhere and my beach could best be described as jagged rocks with patches of sand in between.  I couldn’t have picked a more unpleasant island to be stranded on if I tried.

When I close my eyes I can still see the crazy look in the helicopter pilot’s eyes as he shoved me out of the door and then took off.  Luckily for me, he was hoovering low enough for me to fall safely.  Even more lucky was the fact that I was planning on hiking some of these islands, so I just happened to have my hiking pack and some supplies with me when My pilot decided that I was an alien who had come to steal his “juices”.  I should have known not to trust him after I saw his garbage can filled with redbulls and Mexican diet pills, but he was cheap and seemed steady…until he wasn’t.

Tonight I am feeling tranquil and take my time to run my AoS Fine Badger brush across my hand before lathering up.  I smile at the soft feeling of the badger hair and enjoy the solid feel of its handle.  I pull my pot of freshly desalinated and boiled water from its cooling spot and get down to business.  My lather is as good as ever, it continues to transport my olfactory sense to another place while leaving my skin feeling new and unburdened.  I only do two passes today and then lay back to plan for the next day.  The subtle scent on my skin reminds me that there are better things waiting for me, somewhere out there across the water.

Day 5

I catch the glint of what must be a plane flying across the horizon and wait all day long for it to reappear, but it never does.  I don’t know if it was a rescue plane or just some passing jet, but it destroys my spirits and sends me into a deep depression.

I pull out my gear, but I can’t bring myself to lather up.  I take a few deep sniffs of  the Ogallala soap and let its spicy scent fill my nose before I pack it back away.

Day 6

I spend the day gathering dried palm fronds and logs for a larger signal fire.  By the time the sun is fading I have a bonfire going and I feel as if I have actually made some useful progress today.  I feel tired, but hopeful and sit down to begin my shave.

Today I focus on the green, slightly sharp scent of the Maca Root shave cream as I create my superlather and imagine myself using this same set up back in my home bathroom.  I smile as my Union Cutlery blade shines in the deep orange of the setting sun and I do three passes, which leaves my face clean and smooth.  Afterwards I feel refreshed and ready to face another night alone, but strong.

Day 7

I am rescued!  It happened somtime around midday.  A plane dipped its wing as it flew over my little island and then a few hours later a helicopter landed and whisked me away to freedom.  I was told that my pilot was found two days ago, staring blankly at Godzilla movies and babbling about throwing aliens out of his helicopter.  Someone went over his itinerary, put two and two together, and sent out rescue parties to try to find me.  I am grateful to finally be headed home.

Once I am safe in my own house again I sort through my gear.  A few rocks and shells managed to get stuck in my tarp and I smile at my unintentionally collected souvenirs.  I pull out my shaving gear and prep for one more shave.  My Ogallala and Maca Root lather fills my senses and makes me think of the setting sun.  My AoS Fine Badger brush has a lingering smoky scent from my many camp fires and feels like silk as it paints the superlather onto my skin.  My Union Cutlery straight razor gleams in the light as it gently slides across my neck, removing hair and grit.  Tomorrow I will rest, but today I will shave and will allow the memory of my ordeal to slip off of me along with my whiskers.

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Statuesque

She gazed over at him with a subtle look of longing in her eyes.  The florescent lights shining down from the ceiling subtly accented her pink lips and illuminated the blonde highlights in her hair, making her seem as if she would always look perfect no matter where she was or what time of the day it happened to be.  Every day she stood there wearing the latest dress or the newest and most attractive tennis outfit and beckoned to him with her gaze, the look in her eyes seeming to beg for his attention.  Every day her pouting glance locked onto him as he stood across from her, dressed in the best suits and the most expensive and perfectly polished shoes and never even once glancing her way.  She wore the most expensive and bright accessories and never had a hair out of place, and sometimes his beautiful face would angle in the hint of a glance–calling out to her like a siren, but he would never truly acknowledge her, even with the most subtle of glances.

In the mornings, after her outfit was picked out and her face was made up perfectly, she would be brought out to stand and wait for him to take his place in an almost mirror position to her, but always out of reach.  Then, just before the store would open, the girl from the perfume counter would come over and spritz her with a light fragrance and throw her a mischievous wink as if to say, “Maybe today will be the day,” but it never was.

The music that constantly projected out from hidden overhead speakers was always a sweet melody of love that would float down and land upon her ears, but never managed to touch her heart.  How could such joyful music possibly hope to move her when the object of her longing gaze stood forever just out of her reach?  There she lingered, staring, but never acknowledged.  She stood a mere six feet apart from him, but without any hope of ever being able bridge the gap.  The distance between them was an infinite divide that she would never be able to cross.  The aisle that divided the men’s and women’s departments would forever be the barrier separating them as they stood in their perfect poses and shined under the constant glare of the florescent lights in their perfect plastic bodies.

Friends In The Night

I’m sitting at the bar in a dive of a jazz joint somewhere just south of nowhere when a band that I know all too well finally decides to take the stage.  A trumpeter, two trombonists, a drummer, bass player, and singer all manage to cram themselves onto the tiny space that has been set aside for the stage without having to maneuver or readjust too much.  All in all it takes them maybe ten minutes to set up their gear which is pretty quick considering the fact that it’s well after midnight and they look like they might have had a drink or two too many.  The entire band is dressed in 1930s garb—spats and dark suits for the guys, slinky dresses and old style starlet hairdos for the girls, which works perfectly for a be-bop jazz band no matter what year it might happen to be.  After a quick sound check the dark haired lead singer, her dress clinging to her body like a second skin, throws me a wave and a wink before announcing that The Blue Notes are ready to play.

The house lights dim and a slow steady beat begins droning out from the bass in an adagio sort of tempo.  The drummer kicks in on the bass drum with a steady marcato beat, her arms jumping up and down in an exaggerated emphasis of her playing.  The lead singer begins to sway from side to side with the beat, smiling seductively out at her audience, drawing all of us into the pull of the music before the horn section suddenly explodes in a wall of sound and slams us all back into our seats.

The Blue Notes are up and jumping, setting the pace for the rest of the night.  The band members slide and slink around the stage as they flow from song to song without even a brief break in between.  The music is fast paced be-bop and swing and the audience is showing their appreciation by flying around the dance floor, laughing and enjoying an afterhours party that looks like it belongs several decades in the past.  We all know each other, the local jazz scene is pretty small, and we’re all happy to be there, supporting our friends on stage and putting our real lives on hold for a night.

The band pauses for the first time of the night while they drag a guy from the audience on stage to sing a number.  This gets everyone’s attention and we all lean forward expectantly.  The horns dive into a sloppy and hollow sounding rendition of “Minnie the Moocher” while the new singer begins a Cab Calloway walk toward the mic.  I cringe as I listen to a slowed down and poorly rehearsed version of one of my all time favorite songs.  The beat keeps switching up without warning; the singer could make a deaf dog howl in pain with his off key warbling and poor timing.  It is easily the lowest point of the evening, but the band plays on.

The band’s set jumps along with ups and downs in the music; a well played (if a bit odd sounding) cover of Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)” here, a poorly played but lively version of Louis Prima’s “Oh, Marie” there.  Overall it’s a good set of tunes.  The band might not have hit the mark on every one, but what they may have lacked in presentation was made up for in enthusiasm and enjoyment.  Every song makes you want to get up and dance, every instrumental is a showcase of talent.

At the end of the night the lead singer sits on a stool and sings a slow soulful crooning of “Somewhere Beyond the Sea”.  The melody is accompanied by a quiet bass and a softly drummed beat and as the tune floats through the air we all say our goodbyes.  The lead singer belts out the ending with passion and wishes us all a goodnight before shuffling off the stage.  As I wander out the door the last notes continue to echo in my mind.

It’s almost 4am by the time I pull out of the parking lot.  The breaks on my bike squeak a little too loud and I swear a half hearted curse into the night.  I remind myself that I have got to make time to get into the shop before I end up as a messy stain on the asphalt.  It’s just another reminder that I shouldn’t have even been here tonight.  I should have been at home using what little time I have in between a full load of classes and a full time job to study for tests that seem to pop up every time I turn around, but what good are deadlines if they can’t be ignored?

I glance around a few times before I notice the lead singer sitting on a bench, staring at me with an amused look on her face.  The sequins on her dress seem to shimmer and dance in the bright glare of my bike’s headlight.  I turn off the ignition and lean forward, appreciating the sight.  Her eyes sparkle as she looks up at me and smiles.  Without a word she stands and slinks toward me, a smile on her lips the whole time.  When she gets to me she stares into my eyes as she slides her dress up her long legs and then slips onto the seat behind me before kissing the side of my neck.

“Well big boy, it’s about time, I was beginning to think that I was going to have to walk.”

“Babysnakes, I would never abandon you.”

She looks at me sideways before shaking her head and sliding her arms around my waist.  I feel her head rest against my shoulder and a smile crosses my face.  I kick the bike back to life and we race down the long road home.

Flash Fiction

I’ve always been a fan of flash fiction.  You take a single idea or situation and expand it into a very short story.  It’s sort of like a double concentrated version of the traditional short story format.  If you have an idea rattling around in your head a piece of flash fiction can get it out and onto paper in just a few minutes.  With flash fiction there is no excuse for not writing, either you do it or you don’t.  The dishes can wait for five minutes, you will survive with five minutes less  sleep, and the kids can keep coloring on the wall for another five minutes…but that idea that’s begging to be born may just disappear forever if you don’t grab hold and wrestle it into existence.

I happened to stumble upon a flash fiction piece that I wrote for a small, now defunct, on line zine a while back.  I took it out, did some minor editing, and giggled, so I figured that I would share it with you fine folks.  Enjoy the story and don’t forget to take hold of your own ideas, all it takes is a few minutes and a little fantasy.

Jack

Jack had been on the phone all day long trying to find someone, ANYONE who could help him with his…problem.  From the very first moment that he saw that THING growing in his back yard he knew that he was going to have a bad day.
 
Jack had been, admittedly, slightly drunk when he had made the trade, but it had certainly seemed like a good idea at the time.  When would he ever get another chance to barter a lame old milk cow named “Bessie” for some genuine, fast growing, magical Beans?  These weren’t just any magical beans either, no, these beans were Uncle Wiggly’s Magical Beans.  Name recognition means quality in the magical beans market and everyone knows the name Uncle Wiggly.  How was he to know that they would actually grow into that…thing?  He had a mind to sue Uncle Wiggly’s Inc., after all the bag did say for entertainment purposes only.
 
If Jenny, his wife, came home from her job at the fairy dust factory and were to see that damn bean stalk growing out of their back yard and into the clouds he was done for.  She would KNOW the story that he had told her about cattle thieves running of with Bessie in the night while he was on his way home from the “church fund raiser” was a lie.  He had gone on and on about the theft.  He wondered aloud about how scandalous people were these days, and where his tax gold was going to when ruffians could wantonly accost a God fearing man returning from a hard day of fund raising and spreading the word of whatever religion they happened to belong to these days (he had lost track of just which religion that was a few years back, but he was fairly certain it had something to do with wine).  If Jenny realized that his harrowing story of cattle thieves was a lie then she might find out that he had, in reality, gone to the tavern.  If she discovered that he had gone to the tavern then she might begin to ask uncomfortable questions about why he’d brought a cow to a bar.  Uncomfortable questions that only had uncomfortable answers…
 
Jack’s only hope was to spray the bean stalk with so much herbicide that anything green within a hundred miles would scream and pull up its own roots in order to flee in terror.  That was the answer, lots and lots of herbicide and prayer.  He had been praying to whatever god he believed in (he was fairly certain that his name was Fred or something holy like that) that he would be able to find a wholesale industrial strength herbicide distributor and that after the bean stalk was dead and gone that who ever was making that incessant Fe-Fi-Fo-Fumming noise would stop.

The End?