In this series, I will take the Word of the Day from Dictionary.com and craft a short piece of creative writing around it. My goal is to embrace the meaning of the word in some unique way, all the while trying out different styles, rhythms and characterizations. It is as much an exercise in creativity as it is an exploration of grammar. Enjoy!
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By Alex Seise
“Take it all, just like good old times, Ricky Boy,” she croaked in a singsong mockery. A mostly burnt cigarette smoldered between her fingers, dangling precariously over the coffee-stained shag carpet below. It’d been white, once, but the fibers had gradually taken on a paisley pattern of disuse and grime over the years trapped beneath Lucille Jandreau’s pink, hole-ridden slippers.
“The photos, here, they’re yours now.” Her hands were veiled in veins that disguised Lucille’s deft strength, a force that was revealed only when she thrust the album into the man’s lap. He winced as it slammed into his crotch.
“And… And these, these things?” She spun around to face the wind chimes that dangled among the tangle of cobwebs over the hearth, reaching to rip them from the hook in the ceiling. She never let the cigarette in her other hand so much as droop. “Go on. Make music, go make beautiful music with them, you son of a…” The woman paused to throw the ornament at the man, who shielded his face with the book of photos. “You son of a gravy mixer. That’s what your father did, you know. He mixed beef stock and goop and chemicals in vats as big as your own ballsy ego, all day, every day, for forty some-odd years.”
The woman coughed, but the rattling of her lungs did not stop her tirade. “This house, the Chateau de Gravy. The mansion that fat drippings built. Casa de Condiments. Ha!” Her cigarette burned out, and she chucked it toward the door. The dirt pattern of the old carpet was punctuated with burn marks and loose gray ash in that area. It was far from the first cigarette to land in its vicinity. “All yours, you Prince of Thickened Meat Juice. Shall I bow to your majesty?” Lucille feigned a curtsy, steadying herself against the rocking chair’s wobbly arms. She nearly fell, but didn’t.
“Look, here, Ricky Dicky,” she said, swaggering toward the mantle mounted above the hearth. An old model ship, covered in spider webs and a pad of thick, brown dust, sat at a jaunty angle. One of its supports had snapped years ago, but Lucille never bothered to fix it. “A royal barge for the Prince of Pan Scrapings. The, heh,” she laughed with a deep, husky resonance. “The Gravy Boat, if you will.” She threw the ship at her son’s feet, watching as it splintered.
Lucille looked up at her son, the fire in her corneas burning hotter than bacon fat in a black skillet. “All this is yours now, you little jerk. All this crap, this inglorious rejectamenta. The dirt and the dust and the ditties that crawl among it in the night.” She waved her right arm ever so slowly, as if unveiling a masterpiece. “Your inheritance from the King of Canned Sauces, all the treasures you see before you. Meanwhile, I get thrown away like an old hamburger wrapper, tossed into some God-forsaken…” She searched for the words. “What did you call it? Oh, that’s right. Assisted living facility.” Lucille laughed, sinking into her chair. Along with the side table, it was the only thing in the room not coated in dust. “Call the warden. Phone them so they know that a queen will soon be chained and shackled in their midst.” She rolled her eyes, the fiery anger freckled with desperation and sadness.
Rick set down the photo album and tangled chimes, then stood. He carefully stepped over the broken pieces of the model boat and looked his mother in the eyes. “They’re expecting you and your attitude, your Highness.” He hissed like a viper poked with a birch walking stick. He’d taken abuse for a long time, but now, her reign was over. “We don’t want to keep your new court waiting.”
With that, the front door opened and two burly men in white coats rushed at Lucille. Her face washed alabaster and she gripped the armchair in defiant surprise.
Long live the queen, Ricky thought.