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Mini Sledgehammer February 2020

Laurel Roger’s February Mini Sledge winning story is a wonderful, detail-laden scene. Congrats on the win, Laurel!

Prompts:

Character: Politician

Action: Sitting in a rocket, waiting for liftoff

Setting: Underwater

Phrase: “I still left early.”


Rocket Powered
by Laurel Rogersthumbnail_IMG_6168

Her over-processed blonde hair reflected the brassy Florida sun with a glint that made the admiring men around her glad they had donned their Vuarnets and Ray-Bans. Cloaked in dark glass, their eyes tracked her breasts as they bounced gently with every stride of her long, tan legs.

Blonde or not, she wasn’t stupid enough to be unaware of their stares, but today she was too busy to bother with her usual sly tip of her head and knowing smile of her hot-pink lips. Today, she was on a mission–just like the men who would be sitting and waiting for liftoff in the rocket that rose in full phallic spectacle from the sandbar they called a cape. The boys and their stares would have to wait, even if she was more than a little pleased that her bra size was still larger than her age, even if the two were getting dangerously close the same.

Determined, she yanked hard on the handle and the heavy glass doors opened with a swish of cool air. She shivered from the contrast of temperature inside and out. Or was it from the thoughts in her head?

Her heels clicked across the terrazzo floor until the security guard and a velvet rope halted her progress.

“Badge?” the guard asked.

“Don’t you know who I am?”

Just to be sure, the guard looked her over, head to toe with a brief stop at her chest. For security purposes, of course. “Nope, sure don’t,” he replied finally. “Step to the desk.”

She went where he waved, and what seemed like a perky 12-year-old greeted her with too much familiarity. “Welcome to NASA. Do you have an appointment?”

“I don’t need an appointment. I’m Mrs. Lefterly.”

The receptionist started to reply her usual “appointments are required for everyone…” but wisely stopped herself as her memory kicked in. “Ohhhh. Lefterly. Lefterly? THE Lefterly?”

Estelle Lefterly just stared at the poor girl as she struggled to collect herself. When the girl finally gave up speaking, Estelle replied quietly, “As I said, I don’t need an appointment.”

“Y-y-y-yes, yes, of course, I’m so sorry, Mrs. Lefterly.” The girl tried to hand Estelle a visitor badge, but Estelle had already started clicking her way across the lobby to the executive elevators.

“George, I know we’re already underwater on this mission. But we can’t just….” The elevator doors only had to open an inch for him to see who was inside, and he knew what he had to say had no more value.

George turned around to see what had so derailed Bob’s thought. His eyes widened, and his body tensed. As the elevator doors finished opening, George inhaled and willed his body to relax as he lifted his most practiced Southern smile to his face and flashed his too-large teeth too-largely toward the once-bombshell. “Estelle! Sweetheart! It’s been too long!” He took the manicured hand she presented coldly and tried to warm it with a brief kiss.

“George, you’re sweet as always, but you know why I’m here, and it’s not to listen to you blow sunshine up my…skirt,” Estelle replied. Then she turned slightly to Bob. “And who’s this?”

“Ah, right,” George answered. “This is Bob. He’s the chief engineer of…”

Estelle cut him off. “You know I have no interest in that engine stuff.” She waved her hand at the meaninglessness of Bob’s position while emphasizing the importance of the hefty diamonds clustered on her fourth finger.

Bob squirmed and turned away toward some suits over by the floor-to-ceiling windows. Unable to flee with grace, George had no choice but to see to Mrs. Lefterly. “Well, Estelle, how about we just step over to my office and have ourselves a little chat.”

“Oh, I don’t think that’s necessary,” she replied with a saccharine smile. “There’s just one thing I want, and that’s my boy up there on your big rocket tomorrow when it lifts off.”

George feigned an understanding chuckle. “Well, Estelle, darling. Oh, you know I’d like nothing more than that, but Johnny is still in rotation for next time. Of course if we need him as a sub for this mission, he’s first in line for that. But this isn’t his turn.”

Estelle looked hard in George’s eyes, then scanned the room. She nodded her head to a few of the suits and shot a knowing smile at a couple more. The room grew quieter as some of the most powerful politicians from Washington and their wannabe counterparts in NASA shifted uneasily from foot to foot.

She knew George was watching. She knew he knew the power she actually had. She knew he knew she held the same sway over him. So she just let him think about that for a moment, before she leaned in close, her pink lips almost touching the soft peach fuzz of his earlobe, and whispered. “My boy, on that rocket. Tomorrow, George.”

Then she pulled back and smiled warmly at him. “You look a little pale, George. You need to come out to the beach house sometime soon.” With that she waved and turned back to the elevator. As she climbed in and the doors began to shut, she overheard Bob begin his thoughts again.

“George, seriously, the launch is tomorrow, and this is about safety….”

© 2020 Laurel Rogers


Laurel Rogers was surprised to win her third Sledgehammer this month. When she’s not playing with fiction, Laurel is busy providing content strategy, writing and editing to a variety of clients throughout the West Coast. Her blog and podcast are underdevelopment at theclockstruckmidlife.com.

Mini Sledgehammer January 2020

January’s Mini Sledge is another fabulous piece from Jeremy Da Rosa. Congrats, Jeremy!

Prompts:

Character: a secret friend
Action: going into labor
Setting: a coal mine
Phrase: “It’s just a word.”

Jeremy Da Rose_thumbnail_IMG_2824Untitled

by Jeremy Da Rosa

I checked my watch. My haircut was already an hour in. The electric clippers kept popping the fuse and she’d grab a pair of black handled scissors, open them, and stab at the red tab in the middle of the socket the way my mother used to poke at possums playing dead in our yard. Everyone once and a while I’d realize I was holding my breath, and I’d exhale. After three of these, she shook the clippers at me in the mirror.

 “Why are you sighing? I’m the one doing all the work!”

 I felt my skin turning hot, and before I could answer she sneezed. It sounded like someone threw a bucket of water balloons into a coal mine.

 I sighed again. “Bless you.”

 “Thanks sweetheart. I swear, I’m going to grab a box of those nurse masks the next time my younger sister goes into labor.”

 We made eye contact through the mirror. She raised her eyebrows. “Every two years her and her husband have another baby. No protection, those two,” she winked at me. “Or TV I guess. I’m getting to know the delivery room folks pretty well. They’ve got those masks just lying around.”

 “They don’t provide you with any here?”

 This time, it was her turn to sigh. She placed her hands on my shoulders, and the index finger of each hand brushed gently against my neck. I felt a tingle in my groin. If her grip had been a little bit tighter it would have been full on arousal. My cheeks grew hot again. “Baby, this is Supercuts, not Air Emirates.”

 “Anyway, you know who’s expecting? The president.”

 I jerked a bit in the chair, and her hand pressed me into the seat. “The president?”

 “Yep. Can you believe it? We’ve been waiting all these years for a female president and what happens when we get one? She gets pregnant a year into her term.” She grabbed a small black brush and cleaned the clippers.

 “I guess that’s to be expected though. I’d want to christen the place if I made it in too!”

 She frowned at me. “Honey, you sound like my sister. I’ll tell you what I’m looking forward to: can you imagine what a female president will do for maternity leave? Rumor has it it’s going to be three months paid, mandatory. Don’t matter what job, as long as it’s full time. Paid for by the government.”

 I blinked at the mirror. “Paid?”

 “It’s just a word I heard on the street. But I’ll tell you. It’s been a long time coming!”

 She’d switched to the black-handled scissors, and was vigorously clipping around my head. I wasn’t even sure if she was cutting any hair, but she looked to be in deep concentration.

 “So what about you? You married?”

 I started to shake my head, then caught myself. “Nope. Not yet.”

 “I see. A secret friend, maybe?” She winked at me again, then shivered slightly and let out another colossal sneeze before I could answer.

 “Bless you!”

 “God, I’ve got another year or so before she’s due for another visit. Guess I’ll have to buy some of my own.”

© 2019 Jeremy Da Rosa


Jeremy Da Rosa is a writer and teacher in Portland, Oregon. Like everyone else, he’s writing a novel