Countdown

Welcome to Friday Fictioneers!  We are a community of writers from around the world who post 100-word stories every week, based on a photo prompt from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ blog.

This week’s photo by Madison Woods reminded me of a story that was in the news earlier this week. Two reporters were taken into custody during the Ferguson protests a year ago, shortly after police shot and killed Michael Brown. They were eating and working at a McDonald’s a couple blocks down the street from the main protest group. 

They were released without charges–until this week, when charges were finally pressed a few days before the one-year statute of limitation deadline. Needless to say, the reporters and their news organizations were outraged. They believe the charges are over-reaching and indicative of a desire to limit press coverage. This is particularly concerning, given the new protests that have been engaged over the last week.

What follows is fiction. I hope it conveys the spirit and the feeling of the journalists’ experience, but it is not intended to be a factual account. Real names of the parties involved are not used in the story.

Photo Copyright: Madison Woods

Photo Copyright: Madison Woods

Countdown

by Jan Brown

“Five.”

Rex quickly unplugged his chargers, his phone and his two laptops. He swallowed the last bite of his McChicken.

“Four.”

Jared started stuffing his computer equipment in a duffel bag.

“Three.”

The SWAT officers looked at each other, nodded, and turned their watchful eyes back to the two journalists, who were recording the officers on video.

“Two.”

Rex and Jared understood the intimidation tactics that police officers used to control crowds. But they had never seen these tactics used to harass reporters.

“One.”

Five seconds just wasn’t enough time to pack up and clear out.

“You’re under arrest.”

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For more information about the actual events that inspired this story:

Article in politico.com August 2014

To read other Friday Fictioneers’ stories, click the link below:

Carrying the Light

I’m late with my Friday Fictioneers contribution this week. The photo prompt, as some of you may know, is published Wednesday morning. I contemplated the ornate light fixture in the photo and copied it onto my hard drive, as usual.

Photo Copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com

Photo Copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The photo reminded me of some lovely chandeliers I’ve seen in churches, but I had no idea what to write.

That night, I procrastinated and scrolled through my twitter feed instead of writing. I came across breaking stories from various news media and was horrified to learn of the vicious hate crime in Charleston, a mass shooting at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The cold-hearted shooting of a church prayer group…how do we reconcile the irony, the inhumanity?

The historic status of the church and its founder, Denmark Vesey, was mentioned in the first two articles I read. This church has suffered unthinkable losses in the past. The church was founded in 1816 by black congregants who left their predominantly white churches over issues of discrimination. It was burned down in 1822 when its pastor was convicted of planning a slave revolt. When the laws of that era prohibited all-black churches, the members had to meet in secret. The church survived all of this and was rebuilt at the end of the civil war, only to be destroyed by an earthquake in 1886. In the twentieth century, the church was the site of seminal civil rights speeches and demonstrations, including a mass arrest of more than 900 protesters in 1969.

Now they have suffered more unthinkable losses. As I read the articles and watched the news videos, two questions gnawed at me: 1) Why are we the only advanced nation to have mass shootings on a seemingly regular, if not frequent, basis; and 2) Why, in a country that has the most ethnically diverse population of any country on Earth, do we still have racial hatred? The answer to the first question is fairly obvious.  The answer to the second is so complex as to be incomprehensible, but I’m sure we’ll hear many sociologists, psychologists, journalists, pundits and random internet trolls try to break it down for us in the coming days/weeks/months.  I welcome that discussion with open ears.

Meanwhile, the only answer I have is love.

I try to wrap my head around the so-incredible level of love and forgiveness displayed by the families of the victims at the shooter’s bond hearing. No one said it better than Alana Simmons, the granddaughter of one of the victims. She spoke directly to the shooter, saying, “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, everyone’s plea for your soul is proof that they lived in love. Hate won’t win.” (Source: NBCNews.com)

Mother Emanuel will be open for Sunday services today. The light they carry into the world is witness to God’s love and to our human potential to love, rather than hurt, each other.  I hope my little poem reflects that light.

Photo by Stephen Hyatt http://photos.thechurchesoftheworld.com/Charleston-SC-Churches/Mother-Emanuel-AME/

Photo by Stephen Hyatt
Source: photos/thechurchesoftheworld.com

Carrying the Light

by Jan Brown

Why do churches have such lovely chandeliers? Perhaps…

To remind us there is something irresistibly beautiful, something higher and more permanent than our imperfect selves.

To remind us of the beauty that can shine from just one beacon, even in a world otherwise devoid of light.

To focus the still-bright light of  our lost loved ones, so that we will not flounder in the dark.

To infuse love, the kind of love that shines on every living being, the kind of love that will never falter, never flicker out, never discriminate and never be darkened, no matter how deep the night.

shooting victims

Source: NBCNews.com

Mother Emanuel’s light shines now, this very moment. I pray that everyone will let it in.

Amen.

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Friday Fictioneers is a lovely community of writers from around the world. My blog this week was a departure from the usual form. Normally we post 100-word stories based on a photo prompt provided by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. To read more stories of every conceivable genre, or to post your own, click here.

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A Field of White

Welcome to Friday Fictioneers!  Rochelle Wisoff-Fields leads our international band of fictioneers by providing a photo prompt to inspire us each week. Writers from around the world post 100-word stories, based on the prompt. You can see them all here, and you can post your own story, too!

Many thanks to Sandra Crook for this week’s photo.

Photo Copyright: Sandra Crook

Photo Copyright: Sandra Crook

A Field of White

by Jan Brown

Michael woke to the sound of men’s voices out back. He looked out the window, only to watch in horror as his daughter’s frail form swung from the old cottonwood tree. He rushed to her, but she was already gone. He hefted her naked, bloody body from the noose and sent his son to fetch the undertaker.

After the funeral, Michael cut down the tree as it shed its soft white buds in the spring breeze. The field was as white as the Klansmen’s robes. But the blanket of cottonwood could not cover the precious blood that was spilled there.

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NaPoWriMo 29 – Fox News and the American Dream

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem including the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects” developed by Professor Jim Simmerman. You can see the list of twenty criteria here. I found the prompt extremely challenging, but a lot of fun.

Enjoy!

 

Fox News and the American Dream

by Jan Brown

◊◊◊

The American dream is a rainbow:

multi-colored, fleeting and visible only under perfect conditions.

◊◊◊

The Coulter construct of logic welcomes you

like Satan smiling at recent arrivals in Hades–

a smile most beautiful, cloaked in skinny sensuality

that, when touched, evokes a jagged edge.

But watch…it’s an empty smile, devoid of soul.

It’s empty talk, containing neither logic nor compassion,

like the clanging cymbal of 1 Corinthians 13.

◊◊◊

“Jan is just jealous!”

Can you see it in her eyes?

That stagnant-pond-water green….

She obviously longs for skinny sensuality

sustained by a steady diet of drivel.

Ahhhh, sookie sookie now!

◊◊◊

“There is more cholera in American than there is racism.”

Really, Ann???

My God, that means there are tens of millions of Americans

suffering from cholera!

Who knew?

Cliven Bundy probably knew….

When I smell cattle manure, I see his face.

Does that mean he is full of bullsh*t?

At his last news conference, his prize bull joined him:

“Cliven, when are you going to let us eat something other than this free range crabgrass?

It tastes like dandelion wine and bitter herbs.”

But it was a black angus,

so Cliven ignored him.

◊◊◊

Oh, mon cherie, Fox News!

You have that je ne sais quois, that I don’t know what!

No, I don’t mean you have a mysterious, attractive quality.

I mean I really don’t know what is wrong with you.

Perhaps it’s a nano-virus, spread via digital signal,

that turns your news into mindless twaddle

and your hosts into giant-headed blowhards.

◊◊◊

May you always be with me, Fox News,

for you will bring me untold laughter for all time to come.

Amen.