I've tried different experiments here on La Bloga, usually to no effect. My crossword puzzle being a prime example. I got absolutely no response to that. In any event, I'm still trying to come up with something new for the folks who check out this column on Friday, a relatively low traffic day for La Bloga. Here's my latest wild hair: I give you the first page of a story, and you give me (and the readers of La Bloga) the rest. Send me your finish to the following and I just might publish it. I'm the judge, jury and executioner, so there is no mercy, but if you give me something that moves me, you're in, and you get all the fame and fortune that La Bloga can provide, plus you exercise your writing chops. This challenge goes out to my comrades here on La Bloga, too. And if you don't like this beginning, hey, change it, re-arrange it, let's see what you got. Send your stories to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cold wind mercilessly whipped the old house. An occasional groan from stressed rafters carried through the high, dusty rooms. Loose windows rattled rhythmically. When the rain started to fall the roof surrendered and muddy, greasy water puddled on the floors.
I closed the blanket tighter around my shoulders and shivered by the smoky fireplace. The fire was slow and lazy and eager to die but I stoked it back to life with old newspapers and magazines. The stacks of yellowed pieces of paper had surprised me. My grandmother had always loved to read, in Spanish and English, and the fifty years that she had lived in the house were more than enough to stash, pile up, stow away, collect.
I thought I wanted to hear the music of José Alfredo Jiménez or maybe Robert Johnson but neither was an option just then so I hummed Stardust and let it go at that.
The last of the tequila from under the sink was gone and I had eaten the final cold french fry from my stop at the fast food drive-through. The drive earlier that day from Denver, south on I-25 over Raton Pass, was a fading memory. I huddled in my grandmother’s abandoned ranchito in the secluded cañon in northern New Mexico and I wasn’t sure why I was there.
I reached for a mildewed, wrinkled scrapbook to add to the fire. A photograph floated through the musty air and landed near my feet. I studied it and smiled. A thousand days and nights swirled and jostled my balance. I dredged up half-eaten tamales and potatoes dipped in vinegar to cure head colds and naive boys in nylon caps that covered ringworm. I recalled blood gushing from my brother’s elbow because he had jumped over the front porch railing, and I remembered my mother’s constant grief and tears.
A shadow moved across the photo. I looked up but I was too slow.