Six Sentence Story: Press Gang for a Bull

Press Gang for a Bull. Drawing by Ford Waight. February 2021.


I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given. This week’s cue word is Rodeo


Press Gang for a Bull

The rodeo clown chased me through town, his oversize clothes flapping in the wind, his shrieking laughter echoing about the deserted streets.

What a fool I was to get so drunk while on shore leave, to abandon my crew mates and walk alone in a strange town in search of adventure; yet, Lord, how could I have imagined to be so cursed as to cross that rodeo clown.

Finally he cornered me in a dark alley, and I bunched my fists to smite that crooked smile from his painted lips… but the last thing I remember was him clubbing my head with an iron bar.

Next thing I knew, I’m waking up at the rodeo, can feel syringes pulling out from my arm, and that clown telling me “Fella, all ya gotta do from now on is throw them skinny cowboys in the air and put on a show – who knows, maybe one day we’ll make ya champion.”

And as he led me out into the arena, I caught my reflection in the mirror of a Ford pickup truck, and, Lord, I was a bull – eighteen-hundred pounds of muscle and hide on four legs ready to buck, and that sonofabitch clown still telling me “Yes sir, you’re our prize Brahma now, and will go by the name of Lone Sailor.”

These days I’m treated like a star, and I put on a real good show for the folks who pay their dollars to come watch me throw cowboys in the air; though, Lord, I must confess, when I see that clown distracting me from making good a gore, I hunger for my old sailor fists to smite that crooked smile from his painted lips.

***


Words and drawing by Ford Waight.


Editor’s note

My story Press gang for a Bull concerns just one of the many events featured at a typical American style professional rodeo – namely bull riding, which has been called “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.”

In Press gang for a Bull I wanted to explore the idea of a sailor transformed into a prize rodeo bull by the will of a magical clown. I was also interested in turning on its head the idea of someone in naval service being ‘press ganged’ into an alternative service. To press gang is to take men into a military or naval force by compulsion, with or without notice, and was a practice used by European navies between the 17th and 19th centuries as a means of crewing warships.

1780 caricature of a press gang. Scanned from Vaisseau de Ligne, Time Life, 1979.

In this instance, my unfortunate sailor is press ganged into ‘becoming a bull’ and is renamed the ‘Lone Sailor’. He must now endure the rest of his days as a revered creature to the crowds, the judges, and the cowboys who try to ride him at the rodeo.

The rodeo clown

I based the clown of my story on the original rodeo clowns who back in the day were crowd entertainers who wore makeup and oversize clothing. As bull riding became more dangerous with the introduction of Brahma bulls in the early 20th century, the need for someone to act as distraction for a bull attacking a fallen rider fell to the rodeo clown. In the late 20th century, the term bullfighter began to replace the name rodeo clown, and in 2003 bullfighters in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) organization traded their traditional rodeo clown makeup and outfits for sport gear with corporate sponsor logos.

The job of the modern day bullfighter involves bravery and strategic team working to place themselves in the path of a dangerous animal to protect the rodeo rider. The valour of famous modern day bullfighters like Frank Newsom, Shorty Gorham and Jesse Byrne was something for me to behold while I was studying video clips when making research for my story.

My drawing

I made it in pencils based on a photo of the bull rider Antonio Aguilars Charros riding a Brahma bull in Mexico circa 1975, although my story is set earlier than this.

Here are two digital renders of my original, as I wanted to see some colour  and texture ‘popping’ in the scene.

Press Gang for a Bull. Digital render in colour by Ford Waight. February 2021. Version 1.


Press Gang for a Bull. Digital render in colour by Ford Waight. February 2021. Version 2.

Thanks for bucking with us 🙂

Dinner with Diana – Chapter 6/6


I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Mark


 

Editor’s note: This is the final chapter of a 6 part story started by fellow SSS writer Reena Saxena and continued by myself. Today’s chapter may be read as a standalone, or if you would prefer to read the entire story then chapters 1 to 5 are reprinted at the end of this post.

Let’s go! Allons-y, Alonso! It’s time for…

DINNER WITH DIANA

CHAPTER 6

THE WOMAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (by Ford Waight)

Shhhhhh, and there fell a dreadful hush upon the world as every single one of Earth’s satellites ceased to signal – save for an unidentified sole transmission; and in state offices of the world’s presidents and prime ministers there fell the same hush; and the world media stared in shock at its screens usurped; and even Inspector Robert felt the same dreadful hush as he glared at his phone: the sole transmission… it was her! 

Inspector Robert listened as the transmission Shriek-Shriek-Shrieked like a screaming newborn baby clamouring for milk and oxygen, heralding its intent, clutching all potential in tiny balled fists.

TRANSMISSION: “People of the world. I am Dr. Diana. And you will bend to my will.”

And the world harkened with pulsating ears and dreamy eyes, and the continents glazed over, and oceans became still, and the clouds robbed the sun, and the stars above became slaves in the plotting of new constellations, and planets called in their moons to bed, and comets tucked in their tails, and auroras made marks of religious sentiment across their dusty multi-coloured heads, and the Milky Way wept and sent distress signals to the cosmos – who did scramble to assemble all armies and mercenaries to fight the mightiest campaign of its life, as Dr. Diana went on: “In a short moment you will hear a song. And you will begin to feel sleepy. And after, you will do every goddamn thing I tell you.”

Meanwhile, back at the asylum, the three political prisoners known as Mr Sapphire, Mr Opal and Miss Amethyst, were busy at work configuring the sound system freshly built into the warder’s office: a small but grand-looking machine, a 1920s gramophone of all things – its horn burnished and swirled like a magnificent sea shell washed up on a shore, gloriously trumpeting its melody wound forth and blasted from each window of the asylum for the whole world to hear.

And as the song played, Dr. Diana spoke directly to Mr Sapphire on his phone, and she said: “Plan Louis Armstrong is in full swing. Now get me the President of the United States of America on the line.” … and somewhere, in space, a rogue satellite twinkled into life, and a call exchange was made to the soundtrack of the end of the world as everyone once knew it, and it sang, sang, it sang, it sang: I see trees so green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and you, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

***

Fin?

Jacques Poirier journal and magazine illustrations.

Need to find out how this story ever got into its state of being? Then read the previous five chapters below…

As always, TVTA cannot promise answers, but will guarantee questions…

And, in the spirit of collaboration, if anyone else wishes to continue this tale…

Continue reading

Dinner with Diana – Chapter 5/6


I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Zip


 

Editor’s note: This is chapter 5 of a 6 part story started by fellow SSS writer Reena Saxena and continued by myself. Today’s chapter may be read independently as a standalone story, or if you would prefer to read the entire story so far then chapters 1 to 4 are reprinted at the end of this post.

Let’s go! Allons-y, Alonso! It’s time for…

DINNER WITH DIANA

 

Be Yourself. By Ford P. Waight. Collage, acrylic paint, digital colourization. Published by Palooka Magazine. 2014.

CHAPTER 5

ASHES TO ASHES (by Ford Waight)

ZIPPPPPPPPPP was the zipping sound the zippers of the body bags made as Inspector Robert stared at the corpses of the three escaped political figures: Mr Sapphire, Mr Opal, and Miss Amethyst, unzipped to the chill of a dark night in a dark forest in dark times.

“It’s them alright,” Inspector Robert said to the forensics officer, “no mistake, and now they’re dead, and we might never learn who instigated their escape from that damn asylum, let alone who killed them.”

Especially as you allowed Dr. Diana to escape your custody while being questioned, thought the forensics officer, and especially as your judgement is under scrutiny since you foolishly admitted you believed you were inexplicably dressed as an elf, when it was plain to see on the cameras you were wearing your usual suit and tie, and was, most likely, under the influence of prescription drugs or alcohol. 

Had he been a mind reader, Inspector Robert may well have told the forensics officer in no uncertain terms that he was no addict, but had instead been subjected to a cruel hypnotism by that witch Dr. Diana; instead, Robert simply gave the order: “Have the coroner report back to me as soon as the causes of death have been established.”

Meanwhile, back at the asylum, Governor Armstrong was making himself comfortable  in his new office, but then Armstrong was a man of comfort, and completely comfortable in his own skin – except it wasn’t really the skin of Governor Armstrong he was wearing, for this new governor was a chameleon unto the eyes of all who beheld him, while unto others – a select few indeed – he was simply Mr Sapphire.

And downstairs, sashaying through the hallways of the asylum and up the spiral staircase to Armstrong’s office, came the new doctor and PR specialist recently hired, and these two were also chameleons, and unto many they were established professionals with backgrounds and CVs to be jealous of, but in reality – unto the select few indeed – they were Mr Opal and Miss Amethyst, and as they waltzed along the corridor to Mr Sapphire’s door, the two were a-whistling a-jovially à gogo the tune: Zip-a-dee-doo-dah zip-a-dee-ay, My oh my what a wonderful day. 

***

Jacques Poirier journal and magazine illustrations.

Thank you for unzipping with us 🙂

Read on for the previous chapters…

Continue reading

Micro Story: The Dog Dilemma

I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Distance


The Dog Dilemma

The sorrowful little creature had been following Bruno for the past hour at a cautious distance, as Bruno made yet another unsuccessful hunting trip through the forest on a bleak January morning.

At the path to Bruno’s home, Bruno waited for the creature to catch up, and when the creature came he gazed into its sad eyes and whispered soothing words: “Hungry, eh? Cold too? Better come home with me, where it’s warm.”

Bruno’s partner, Belle, was furious when Bruno arrived home accompanied by the sorrowful creature, and her words cut through Bruno as icily as the wind in the January forest: “You can’t bring that thing in here,” she said, “it stinks, it might have fleas and goodness knows what diseases, we don’t even know who its previous owner is, and it might be dangerous, Bruno… have you lost your senses entirely?”

“Take pity on it,” Bruno said, “the creature is cold and exhausted, and looks like it hasn’t been fed in days.”

But Belle was in no mood for pity nor for another mouth to have to feed, and she snarled: “Either it goes, or I go.”

Bruno led the creature back out into the January morning, and then he opened his jaws and bared his sharp teeth, and his ears drew back against his head, and his tail struck an exclamation mark to the report of his growl, and then Bruno lurched forward and chased the creature away, until the sorrowful little human fled back into the forest from where she came.

***


Words and photo render by Ford Waight.

Dinner with Diana – Chapter 4/6


I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Change


 

Editor’s note: I’m placing my notes at the top of this week’s Six Sentence Stories because some context is required before you read my entry.

Let me introduce you (if you don’t already know her) to one of our fellow Six Sentence Stories writers Reena Saxena who during three SSS challenges in November and December wrote an intriguing trilogy set in a mysterious asylum. I remarked at the time how elements of Reena’s trilogy were in parallel to the novel I am writing currently – also set in a mysterious asylum. Reena asked me if I wished to carry her story forward, to which I replied “Don’t tempt me!” 🙂

So here we are. And it’s a pleasure indeed to carry on the work of one of my writing peers, but also a revelation – for I was struck by two things: One, the synchronicity of individual themes able to meet unexpectedly. Two: the action of Reena offering me to carry on her trilogy mirrored a major plot twist in my novel. And here I was stunned – real life meets writing life meets common themes. I won’t elaborate because of spoilers for my novel, but what happened was pretty wild!

My aim is to carry on where Reena left off with her trilogy with my own trilogy, plus a title to catch it all. Will it provide answers to the mystery? You’ll have to read on to find out.

I’ve copied and pasted here Reena’s trilogy in the order it was made, then added my continuation after. Links are also provided. Thanks, Reena, for starting something 🙂  Thanks also to Denise for inspiring us with the weekly SSS challenges 🙂 And thanks to everyone else for reading 🙂

And so, let us go to the main event…

DINNER WITH DIANA

 

Jacques Poirier journal and magazine illustrations.


Continue reading

A micro story: Sent to Bridges 


I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Menu


The Persistence of Memory by Dali. Image: Wikipedia

Sent to Bridges 

And to think it all began with a meadow and a songbird and a clear blue sky on a September morning as bright as a memory tacked to a wall… when the disc arrived hidden under my doormat in a brown envelope, and when I inserted it into my device and was presented with a menu overlayed on a poorly pixelated image of Dali’s The Persistence Of Memory, and a voice in my head saying: Man, you been doing this shit since 1929?

  • Option A: DREAM
  • Option B: DREAM WITHIN A DREAM
  • Option C: DREAM OF A DREAM

The risks were great: virtually entering a world such as I was about to but with both feet still planted in the real world of a surveillant society cracking down on coveted subscriptions to the principles of joy, pleasure and pain – subject to beatings, fines, imprisonment or simply becoming ‘vanished away’ based on the seriousness of classification (and sometimes whims) of an out-of-control government eating itself from within.

ZAP CLICK FLICKER as I pressed Option A, and all at once I saw myself at my desk staring into my device, and I was turned inside out and upside down, my guts and organs pulsating in the sac of my skin upon which hung the frame of my dithering skeleton, and I wished to scream in agony but no words parted the grim and deep orifice of my mouth, and I could only despair at the foolishness of what I had done as my finger bones pressed urgently at Option B.

ZAP CLICK FLICKER and I was transported to a winter forest and was set upon by all the dogs of the world: guard dogs, police dogs, army dogs, rescue dogs, sniffer dogs, the yapping and annoying little inbred dogs, the vicious cannonballs of raging Pit Bulls, Dobermans and Rottweilers and Blood Hounds, and the dogs that shit on your doorstep, and the dogs that piss up your car, and the dogs which we eat and the dogs that we dress in clown costumes and hats, and the dogs for the blind, and the dogs rabid and foaming with every madness known to humankind, and the devil dogs of Satan himself digging up graves in the non-stop search for bones, and the dogs dogs dogs coming at me just coming at me straight at me at me at me… oh… I hadn’t gone to the dogs… the dogs had gone to me.

ZAP CLICK FLICKER as my finger hammered at Option C and I was out of the forest and back at my desk, the right way round and the right way up, the dogs long gone, and I was no more the fool, and I thought I was safe, until, ah, BANG BANG BANG  and I could hear the cops breaking down my door with steel rams and decorated shoulders and an appetite for blood, and how well I could anticipate the hornet sting of their tasers, their boots at my ribs, their sticks in my face, a cold van, a cold cell, a cold sentence, cold, cold, cold… quick… ZAP CLICK FLICKER and my finger once more tapped Option A in that never ending search for my meadow and songbird and a clear blue sky on a September morning as bright as a memory tacked to a wall.

***


Words by Ford Waight

Song: Sent to Bridges written and performed by FLAW5 (Ford Waight)

Video edit by FLAW5 (Ford Waight)

The False Oasis


I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Oasis


The Desert Constellation. Photo and digital art render by Ford.

The False Oasis

Our city is an oasis in the middle of the desert. You can see it from the dunes – all glittering at night like strewn about jewels tossed from the fists of princes and warlords in the midst of temper tantrums as wild as the wind.

Our dear oasis city in the middle of the desert, liberated from tempestuous sands and scorching heat, the freezing nights, the quicksand, the snakes, the scorpions, and the promise that the sun will strip you of your meat and bleach your bones if you dare to wander from our city home for too long and too far and too wide.

We fine men of our city, we finish our work for the day and catch buses back to our air conditioned homes, to obedient wives and sons and daughters who will follow without question our oasis city traditions. See how full our bellies are, as we recline in plush furniture stuffed with the bills agreed upon by Western handshakes, oil and weapons and luxury apartments in London – ha! see, children, see, another oasis city, yet surrounded not by desert, surrounded by sea!

Now shush, children, shush, the news is about to begin; it’s a very important statement from our esteemed chancellor, once more promising us the earth from an oasis city, and in a tongue still wet from dinner taken in his ivory tower.

***

The Desert Constellation (2) Photo and digital art render by Ford.


Words and photo art by Ford Waight.