I challenged my friends to “send me a one word or first line prompt and I will write a story about it.” Fellow pen wrangler, Guy, suggested a plethora of awesome words including "inveigled," "wainscoting," and "cassette," which I have totally butchered in this story. Here you go, Guy. I had initially written this about two days ago but I haven't gotten a chance to read it after or post it until now.
By Joy Bernardo
Part I: Inveigled
Rachel turned to Ashley. “Okay,” she started. “So you’re playing The Game. You, along with everyone else in the world, always is, always has been, and always will be playing The Game. You might never know it and you probably never wanted to but you are. It’s pretty simple. Every time you think about The Game, you lose. Loss is temporary because as soon as you forget about The Game you stop losing. The object of The Game is to forget that it exists.”
“That sounds lame,” Ashley said rolling her eyes. “So you can’t REALLY win.”
Rachel smiled, “Well, you can…”
“Lame,” Ashley interrupted. “Still sounds lame.”
Rachel pouted. “You sound lame…”
Ashley put her arm around her shoulder. “Honey, look around you. We’re going be in a fantastic club that is filled to the brim with attractive men that want to get into our pants simply because we have breasts.” She looked into Rachel’s eyes. “Please don’t play your silly game in there.” She patted Rachel on the head. “In other words, please stop being a dork.” She turned her attention towards the club and leered at the line in front of them. “Hmm…” she said. “I’ll be right back.”
Rachel watched as Ashley sauntered up to the front of the line. Her short skirt fluttered in the breeze. She didn’t have a plunging neckline like the rest of the women in line, however her shirt did appear as though it was painted on.
Once at the front of the line, she sized up the two bouncers and chose the heavier set one as her target. The other was an athletic, shaggy haired beefcake. He watched intently as she tried to seduce his friend. She whispered into his ear and rubbed his arm. She motioned toward Rachel, who waved awkwardly and smiled. The bouncer whispered something back in Ashley’s ear and sent her back on her way.
“What happened?” Rachel asked.
“He told me that he’s gay,” Ashley replied.
“Let me try,” Rachel offered.
Ashley scoffed. “Honey, no offense but if I couldn’t get us in, I don’t think that you can.”
Rachel looked down at her frumpy sweater and short black skirt. She pushed her glasses back up her nose and pouted. There was an awkward silence as Rachel looked at the long line that wrapped around the building. She took a deep breath. The air smelt of cigarette smoke and urine.
“I’m sorry,” Ashley offered. “I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just sayin…” her voice trailed off as she realized that there was really no way to fix it. She motioned toward the bouncer and took Rachel’s spot in line as Rachel stepped out onto the sidewalk and brushed off her sweater. She walked up to the front of the line and smiled sweetly at the bouncers. The both smiled back. Rachel talked to the one that Ashley had paid her attention for a few minutes before finally leaning in and whispering something in his ear. As she did, she took a gander behind him at the other bouncer and the door. He nodded, looked up, and motioned for Ashley to come to the front of the line. Rachel waited for her and took her hand, leading her into the front door.
The club was hot and packed. The inside of the building smelled of sweat, hooch, and stale air. Rachel wasn’t sure what was worse, breathing inside or outside. They made their way to the bar.
“How’d you get us in?” Ashley finally asked.
Rachel smiled at her.
“Did you offer him drugs?”
“Of course not!”
“Money? Babes? Boys? Toys?”
“I told him that his bouncer friend was checking him out while you were flirting with him.”
“Did you really mean that?”
“Did you really mean what you whispered in his ear?”
“At least mine was true.”
“Is that all you told him?”
“I also told him that you’re really a man dressed in drag, and that when you get plastered, you like to hook up with heavy set men in hawaiian shirts.” She met Ashley’s unimpressed gaze. “And that in about an hour, he could take you in the alley and do…whatever it was that you whispered in his ear.”
“I thought you said that you didn’t lie.”
“I didn’t. Can I buy you a drink?”
Ashley gave her a dirty look.
“Well, then, can I buy you a drink?” asked another voice.
“Aren’t you a bit overdressed for a night of clubbing?” Ashley asked the man.
He was a well dressed man in a tailored business suit and sunglasses. “It helps me pull off the mysterious persona.”
Ashley grinned. “What’s you’re name, Suit?”
“If I told you, I’d have to kill you. So let’s just start with me buying you girls some drinks.”
Part II: Cassettes
“Good morning. My name is Agent K and I am enlisting your services for the length of my next operative. Included in this box is a couple red dresses, a pocket knife, a roll of duct tape, a confidential file containing a detailed description of our mission, and a plane ticket to St. Petersburg, Russia. While, it is not imperative that you put on the red dress at this particular moment in time, it is rather important that you read the documentation in the box. I will send a suit to your door momentarily to take you to the airport. Your cooperation is non-negotiable. This tape will self destruct in approximately five seconds…”
Rachel stepped back from the box as the tape began to sizzle in the cassette player. The box was addressed to Ashley so she probably should have been the one to hear those instructions.
“Ashley!” Rachel called from the hallway. “Someone left a box here for you…with an exploding tape in it…”
Ashley ran to the second story banister and looked down at Rachel. “What’d it say?”
“Um,” Rachel thought for a second. “You don’t have to put on the red dress…”
“What?” Ashley scratched her head. “What else did it say?”
“I don’t remember,” Rachel admitted. Ashley shot her a dirty look. “What?” Rachel wined. “I haven’t had my coffee yet…”
“Well, then play it again,” Ashley snapped.
“But it’s an exploding…” Rachel looked over at the box, which was now engulfed in flames. “Um, nevermind.”
Ashley rolled her eyes. “I’m going to jump in the shower.”
Rachel ran to the box. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.
Part III: Wainscoting
The room was spinning when they came to.
“Morning, ladies,” Agent K said.
“Where are we?” Rachel asked. She tried to make her eyes focus but the only thing she could make out was the strange man in front of her. “Oh, wait, I remember you…” she said to him.
He leaned down to look at her eye to eye. “Oh, good.” He smiled. “I’m glad that I had made an impression on you.” He turned to her friend, who was tied to a chair next to her. She was trying desperately to shake loose of her bonds. “Don’t struggle too much, Darling,” he said to her. “You’ll wear yourself out before you can become any good to us.” He stood up tall and stretched. “Besides, you’ll shake your towel lose.” He walked towards a table at the far end of the room.
Rachel looked around at the bare room. It was a clean room. Like someone’s spare bedroom. With sea foam green walls and white wainscoting. The only things in the room besides her semi naked friend and Agent K was the desk at the other end of the room, which held a couple of small cardboard boxes and some files.
“Since you decided to burn the box that we sent you, we had to come up with a different wardrobe and some new documentation.” He sat down on the desk and looked at the girls from across the room. “Now, you have to promise me that when I untie you two, you won’t do anything stupid.”
The girls looked at each other and then back at Agent K.
“Stupid?” Ashley asked. “Stupid like what? Slug you? Shank you? Shove those damn sunglasses up your bum?!”
“Yes, stupid like that.” Agent K smiled.
“Why would we do anything stupid like that?” Ashley screamed as she flew into a rage. She writhed around in her seat, trying desperately to loosen the rope that held her wrists together behind her back. But the only thing that she succeeded to loosen was the towel that kept her naughty bits under-wrap, which promptly fell on the floor.
Agent K grinned as he watched her wriggle around.
“You’re a perv,” Rachel accused Agent K.
“Hey!” K pointed toward Ashley. “I gave her a towel! What do you want from me?” He walked over and tried to drape the towel over her. All the while, Ashley stared him down.
“What do we need to do?” Rachel asked.
He thought for a minute. “If you want the abridged version… We’re going to fly you into Russia where you will sneak into the Kremlin and deliver an envelope. After which, we will fly you back home like nothing had happened and you must never speak of this again.”
“Can’t you just mail it?” Ashley spouted.
K shook his head. “Noo.” The girls stared at him. “It’s complicated.”
“Is it a bomb?” Rachel asked.
“No,” he stated, very matter-of-factly.
“Is it drugs?” Ashley asked.
“I don’t want to be a terrorist,” Rachel wined.
“You’re not going to be a terrorist.” K said, rolling his eyes.
“What are we delivering?” Ashley asked.
K froze. “One of the stipulations is not to ask any questions about…”
“What are we delivering?!” Ashley commanded.
“These documents are top secret and you are not to ask questions. Just accept your assignment and once it’s completed, you can…”
“I want to go home,” Ashley interrupted. “Untie me now.”
K rolled his eyes and looked over at Rachel, who had been strangely quiet for some time now.
She shrugged her shoulders. “She won’t shut up before she gets her way. I know. I live with her.”
K took a deep breath and untied Ashley. She wriggled free and stood up. As she wrapped the towel around her she turned to her friend. “Come on,” she said. “Let’s get out of here.”
K turned to Rachel again, who smiled sweetly at him. He untied the rope around Rachel’s wrists. Suddenly they heard the pitter patter of Ashley’s bare feet against the hardwood floors. They both turned in time to see Ashley picking the envelope off the table.
“You can’t open that!” K screamed. But it was too late.
Ashley tore open the envelope revealing a sheet of paper which simply read, “You just lost the game.” Ashley looked up at Rachel, who was smiling like the Cheshire cat.