Friday, June 20, 2014

Face Off Writing contest!

I was lucky enough to get a second copy of FACE OFF on Monday, so clearly the publishing deities are in the mood for another flash fiction contest! Prize is the copy of FACE OFF! (haven't heard of it? Here are the deets)

Contest has the usual rules:

Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

The story should contain these words:

The whole word must appear le in the story. It can be part of a larger word: child/children but not divided: finder's keepers but not fin dermabrasion.

Post the story in the comments section of THIS blog post.
If you need a mulligan, a do-over, delete the comment and repost.

ONE entry per reader.
International entries are allowed.

Contest will open today June 20 at 9pm (Eastern Shark time)
and run for 24 hours.

Contest closes Saturday June 21 at 9pm.

Late entries are sneered at and not considered.

Early entries are scoffed at and not allowed.

If you have questions, tweet to me @Janet_Reid

NOT YET! Contest opens today at 9pm (Eastern Shark time)

Rats, too late. Contest now closed.


Craig said...

Legend says that the Parker Rose was doomed to be the thing that cries in the night because she won. Such things happen when you war with the heavens. Her passing created the Age of Prophecy and one dealt with her return.

The biggest problem was that her return would cause the Second War of the Heavens. Never the less every male child spent their first birthday upon the Mountain of Sorrow. It came to pass that a Finder of the Way was found because Heart Berry began to bloom proving that his tears were from compassion and not fear.

Joel Freiburger said...


One thick stripe of cranberry on the headstone. No-frills burial, surname only: Parker. Cheap as a stepchild’s. Freshest grave of the lot, hazy green in my scope’s viewfinder. Night vision changed the game for a cemetery caretaker like me.
Welcome to the fucking 21st century, grave robbers.
Rustling in the shadows. A cupped flashlight beam.
I stayed back until a shovel broke ground.
“This corpse had scleroses,” I said. “Gotta cut off the fingers for the rings.”
Scared the chocolate out of him. But he knew the deal.
I marked each new arrival, he did the harvesting. 50/50 profit.

Carolee Noury said...

His parents named him Blaze, apparently sensing the nature of their newborn child. A stray poison berry lodged in the family garden of morality.
The guys called him “Parker” as in “keeper,” because he was exactly the opposite. The girls who knew him wanted him far, far away.
Not Rose. She tumbled into him one night at a show and hadn’t let go. Love at first sight, she explained.
In catching her, he was caught. He wanted to run from her almost as badly as he wanted to deserve her.
She played a dangerous version of Finders, Keepers.

Michael Seese said...


“Finders, keepers.”

I hated it when she said that. It was so childish.

“Where did you find it?” I asked.

“Over there. By those wild blackberry bushes.”

“You’re not going to share?”

“No. Find your own.”

I sat down heavily and pouted. That always worked.

“Fine. Have some.”

“Please. You go first.”

“You're such a gentleman, Parker.”

We took our turns at the jugular, draining its blood until it resembled a withered rose.

“That was delicious.”

“It was.”

Over time, we’ve found it’s much easier to stomach our meals if we talk about them as “its,” rather than as people.

kregger said...

When a spider injected Peter Parker with radioactive venom, crawling through his Aunt Rose’s basement window at age seventy was an infinite impossibility. Since his spidey senses have gone awry and his web-juice has dried up--after his prostate grew to five times the normal size of a jack-o-lantern--Peter spends his days searching Spider-Finder on the web. Someday he’ll find Mary Jane--who cares if she married Doctor Octopus. Today, the eviction notice arrived; Peter has thirty days to move in with Berry, the Goblin’s toothless son.

Peter googles “Black Widow.”

“Hmm,” he wonders. “How do spiders commit murder-suicide?”

Kelley C. said...

The children loved to run through the gardens late
in the evening when the Finder was inside napping,
oblivious to their mischievous deeds. They'd pick as many
berry-colored roses as possible, then run off to see who
had collected the most. It was a game played every year.

Not everyone knew better than to play the game. Whoever lost
at the end would have to eat the poison rose. I knew children
year after year who lost their lives to this stupid game.
The last one to die was Parker Phillips.

And now it’s my turn.

Alec Breton said...

Rose Berry's first job ever is as nighttime backup car parker for the Southside Chop House.
Sure, she's only paid in tips, but she gets her free pick of steaks sent back by customers.
She's proud to help feed her family.
A patron pulls up and hands her a key with a key finder.
"You make sure there's no scratches.
"Yes, sir."
Rose throws it in reverse and crashes the Caddy.
The patron grabs Rose's arm.
"You pay to fix this or I'll tear your face off."
Rose blubbers.
"What do you expect. I'm just a seven-year-old child."

wolfman141 said...

“How long has your daughter been missing?”
“Two days.”
“Child’s name and age?”
“Parker Finderman. She’s fourteen.”
“Fourteen, huh? And how old are you?”
“Twenty nine.”
“Kee-rist. --Distinguishing marks?”
“She went and got a rose tattoo on her butt.”
“Her outfit?”
“Cut-offs, a berry-colored tee.”
“Did you two fight?”
“I grounded her for giving me lip. The fuckin’ mouth she has on her.”
“Was she into drugs?”
“She better not be.”
“You contacted her friends?”
“‘Friends.’ Nobody knows nothin’.”
“What. You think she ran away?”
“Didn’t you ever run away?”
“Sure, but my mother was a total bitch.”

Jennifer D said...

Parker jolted up in her chair.

My voice faltered. “What?”

“I just figured it out,” she said. “You actually believe the shit you’re saying to me right now.”

“Of course I do!”

She laughed, child-like. “Oh man, a Finder that actually believes this shit.”

I opened my mouth to protest but she stood. “Come with me. I’ll show you.”

I stared at her hand, calloused and strong, then up at the little lines branching from the corner of her eyes. Rosy cheeks, berry lips…all imperfect, unlike the smooth faces back home.

I reached out and took her hand.

Steve Forti said...

Parka, not parker. Not everything I say is with a Boston accent, you know.” Sandra rifled through the closet until she spied the rose colored coat, then dug through its pockets. “And where the hell is my snozzberry Chapstick?”

Della smirked and puckered loudly, the slim tube caressing her lips. “Finders, keepers.”

Sandra dove across the room and tackled her sister off the bed, wrenching the balm from her.

“Ow! Don’t be such a child.”

Sandra shrugged. “You are what you eat.” Zipping up her parka, she slammed the gingerbread door behind her and trudged out into the snow.

River Cameron said...

He found her. Again.

He imagined he could smell her: roses…no, vanilla. Taste her: salt and strawberry. He salivated as he pulled out his camera. Not taking his eyes off her he screwed on his telescopic lens and looked through the viewfinder. He hit the shutter again and again and again.

“Hey Mister, take a picture of me!” The child grabbed the hem of his coat and tugged.

He turned and applied the smile painstakingly practiced over years.

“Parker, leave the nice man alone.”

He turned back, raised the camera to his eye, but she was gone.

Sandra Cormier said...

Rose bent low over the berry bush, plucking the fruit as if they were diamonds from a bracelet. Her child played nearby, digging in the dirt with a stick.

"Mister Parker will love these," she called out to the boy, as if he cared what Mr. Parker gave a damn about.

Somewhere beyond the shrubbery that separated the field from the border, a shimmering light grew, and Rose blinked.

Shit, she thought. I've gone too far.

The Finder vaulted over the hedge and filled her vision.

Save my baby, was her last thought.

Unknown said...

(I'm not Unknown. I'm Michella.)

My father was drunk when he discovered Parker’s Comet—named after himself, obviously. He cracked his finderscope’s lens.

If I’d been a boy, maybe he would have already fulfilled his egotistical need to name a child after himself.

Or, there would be a comet named after both of us, but mostly him, unless the comet was Parker Jr.’s Comet—in which case it clearly would have been mine. Or maybe it would have been Parker Jr. Jr.’s Comet, in which case the comet would feel like it had its own rosy identity.

The celebratory strawberry cheesecake was laced with liquor.

Gabby Gilliam said...

He rose from the ground, face and fingers stained blackberry purple. A drop of juice trickled from his chin onto the collar of his shirt.

“Parker!” The shrill voice of a mother who has lost her child cut through the bushes, and his head perked up.

His image blurred in the viewfinder as he ran toward his mother’s cry, and Jason missed his shot. The SP-5 cartridge buried itself in the soft ground beneath the berry bush while the boy ran to safety, oblivious to the near miss.

Jason cursed under his breath, and sought a new target.

SiSi said...

I counted the child’s breaths as his chest rose and fell, inhale, exhale, strong and steady. He was safe with me. I was strong and steady. He squirmed, a slight frown marring his sleeping face, and I forced myself to relax my grasp on his fragile arm.

I tucked his well-loved bear under the blanket with him after deciphering the faded blue letters on the bear’s collar. Mayberry. He wrapped his arm around Mayberry without opening his eyes. The boy didn’t come with a name tag so I called him Parker, after the place we met.

I smiled. Finders keepers.

Dan said...

The fair-haired child placed the rose atop the cop's grave. Her chubby hand curled around my fingers, sticky from the strawberry she had at lunch, discovered in our garden.

The rose had also come from the garden, where we had been happily puttering when the cruiser pulled up, bad news riding shotgun. Forget that old line about finders keepers. There were only losers and weepers today.

Officer Parker Selby was dead. This little girl was all I had left of him. Together, we would survive. And in 19 years, three months and six days, we would have our justice.

robynarrington said...

The Finder slid his fee across the mahogany table. He leaned back and eyed his clients. Parents of runaway children could be so…unpredictable. The mother, Mrs. Berry, opened the creased paper.

“$400,000? But you didn’t recover both of them. I only see Parker here – where’s Rose?” she demanded, angry about the bill but not her daughter’s absence.

“There’s a complication with Rose,” the Finder answered.

“Such as?” Mrs. Berry asked.

“She requested emancipation.”

Mrs. Berry gasped, turning ashen immediately.

“That’s impossible!” Mr. Berry argued.

The Finder shrugged. “I assure you it’s quite possible. She works for me now.”

Head of the Class said...

Dames. It’s great wakin’ up to ‘em, especially ones like her -- leggy and blond. But not when my face is planted on the desk, my mouth tequila-fuzzy.

“Are you Detective Parker?” Sizzling voice, too.

I shrugged. My experience is more what you’d call a looker than a finder.

“My children have gone missing!”

I sat up. “Description?”

“Rose, she’s six. Brown eyes. Berry’s got the cutest little tail –

Dame’s missing her dogs? I was gonna send her packing. I need a nutcase client like I need another margarita.

Then she crossed those legs.

What the hell. “Description?”

Grumpy Llama said...

Parker thought he'd be ready when the Finders rose. But he wasn't. No one was. They were cornered now, him and the child he was sworn to protect. The one who held the secret to ending the Finders' reign. Unspeakable horrors awaited her if she fell into their hands. He smiled down at her as he dropped berry after poisonous berry into her mouth, saving just enough for himself. Maybe he'd be able protect her in the After.

Stoich91 said...

I used to listen to the wind rustling through the roseberry leaves, wishing I was a child again so I could hide amidst the briers and watch the blood-red berry juice dribble down my fingers. Now not even a host of roseberries could hide me. Already the detectors have located my planet. Lt. Parkert is not as old as we’d hoped!
Farewell. We all must go sometime, and being found by my past is infinitely better than wallowing lost in the certain dreary darkness of my future. They have won and, as the old saying goes, finders keepers, losers weepers.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

That I, Tony Soprano should drip blood on dirt, instead of concrete, is fucking unbelievable. Here I am surrounded by rose bushes and layin’ in blood-mud like it’s berry juice. I got a hole in my coat the size of the Lincoln Tunnel made by some child-sized Pine Barrens car-parker wearing a dumb-fucking hat. Here comes the little shit again.
“Where’s the ‘wabbit’?” He says.
It’s Elmer Fudd. I pull the dead rabbit from inside my coat.
“Finders keepers Fudd, you shot the silly ‘wabbit’ instead of me.”
Fuck Fudd, I wanna see if Bugs tastes like chicken.

James Ticknor said...

I’m a detective, and my coworkers nicknamed me ‘the Finder’, because I find extraordinarily odd cases. Take Lisa’s case, for example. Lisa looked like a fourteen year old child, but she was really one-hundred-and-sixty-four. I believed her because she never lied to me about being dead. We met at the supermarket. When I popped a berry from the produce aisle in my mouth, she threw roses on the floor, and an employee (her nameplate read Ms. Parker) blamed me because she couldn’t see her. As I paid for the roses, she begged me to solve her murder.

Mister Furkles said...

Berry Rose, child of the Parker Foundation's experiment in genetic perfection, stepped gingerly from Amtrak's first class car. He patted the Finnis Finder in his vest pocket. And, disdaining the sweaty hoi polloi in the under-track tunnel, he strode across the rail yard toward the Rococo station. Berry paced each stride with the confidence of one who knew the world would stop at his convenience.

Unfortunately, 'stop' was not in the coal train's vocabulary. But 'splat' was. Oh yes, the 2000-ton freight knew that word.

Rena McClure Taylor said...

"They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm." Dorothy Parker's words assault as I first glimpse the child. A rose lies across her chest. Her hands are berry-stained. "Finders-keepers," I say, hardly able to breathe. I brush back her gold-spun hair, touch her forehead with my lips. Then I wrap her up tight in the blanket and move toward the blackened sky.

Anonymous said...

Parker stared at the body. She was young, not a child, but close. Though the air was warm her lips were a slash of blueberry. Heroin?

He rose from a crouch and crossed to the jogger waiting by the path. Some of these guys, you think they’re waiting for a finder’s fee. This guy just wanted the hell out of there.

“This the way you find her? Under the bush?”
“Yeah. I was taking a walk break and there she was. Didn’t touch her.”
“Funny it’s always joggers finding the bodies.” He cocked an eyebrow.
“Yeah, I’m never jogging again.”

Calorie Bombshell said...

It wasn’t quite the reunion show the late Dick Clark had envisioned.

“Axl Rose is in Paradise City until November. Rain forest jungle retreat.”

“What about Chuck Berry?”

“A definite no. Said Clark would be rolling over in his grave.”

“Who are you going to call next?”

“Ray Parker, Jr. Sang “Ghostbusters.”

“Tell him to wear the proton pack and bring some marshmallows. Look, you’re the brainchild of this Rock’n Roll Death Match. We need someone who doesn’t mind getting a little bloody.”

“How about Alice Cooper.”


"Long hair. Makeup. Rips heads off chickens."

“Perfect. A girl. Go finder.”

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

Rose Parker, a child born to two urbanites, but raised in the backwoods, was known as the best huckleberry-finder around, of which she baked blue-ribbon pies at the County Fair Pie Baking Contest. But on this day, she fell ill, and couldn’t give her baking her utmost attention. But as many predicted, Rose’s pie won, and all were curious as to the secret ingredient? She didn’t know. Once home, she tended to the kitchen mess, and in the blender, caught in between the blades was a webbed foot. She could only surmise it belonged to . . . a frog!

ShaunaJ said...

Parker hugged the frightened toddler while the cursed berry vines surrounded them, grasping and murderous. Rust-red stains on the grass showed they weren't the first to underestimate the woman smirking at their terror. Roses were sweet flowers. A witch named Rose was duplicity itself. He jerked away from the thorn stabbing his ankle bloody and boosted the girl up on his shoulders. Not that height would save her. Malevolent, unnatural vines the thickness of his thigh crawled over the smaller tendrils, keeping them trapped. The child whimpered, "I'll never play hider and finder agai--

Christina Seine said...

Mama always rose to the occasion. “Child,” she said. “You shut your mouth.”

It was true, though. Josiah Parker had a thing for her, and everybody knew it. I popped a fat blueberry into my mouth. It split, bled purple on my fingers and the Apartment Finder open on the kitchen table. I ate another one.

“You’re a mess,” Mama said. “Besides, best we move.” She rubbed her temple; the bruises had faded yellow. “It’s too soon, anyhow. It’s suspicious.”

“Ain’t,” I said, and grabbed another. Stains don’t bother me none. Enough bleach, you can clean away anything.

Or anybody.

Greg Mollin said...

The child had been missing since Thursday. I got a call Saturday morning from the police chief in Parker, Arizona. One of the corpse finder dogs sniffed him out in a wild rose patch off Highway 95. I took his father for the ID that afternoon. The desert had been cruel to his little boy. His skin was a map of lesions and welts. His remaining eye bulged under a crimson lid like an over ripe berry. The father howled and pounded his fist into the cold steel slab. I clenched my teeth and stifled a scream of my own.

El El Piper said...

After the sun set berry red, she slept curled around the rose planted in the rubble. Darkness had halted her days-long quest. At first light she saw the next rose a short distance beyond, a living cairn in the dust.
She climbed, seeking silent footholds. Miles of wreckage, no people. Another rose trembled on top of the next mound.
She looked down upon a vast plain of burned-out cars. Incredible. A lone child sat on a blackened hood, clutching a rose, legs swinging.
“I lost my mom,” he said. “She went to parker car. Can you help me finder?”

Colin Smith said...

Joe took Miss Parker's hand as she led him to a chair.

"Now, child. A dark-haired man you say?"

"Yes," said Joe. "H-he killed Sam Berry. T-took a knife and..."

"Here, have some rosehip tea," said Miss Parker. "It'll calm your nerves. Works wonders for my arthritis." She smiled, handing Joe the teacup.

The door slammed. Joe gulped a mouthful of tea in shock.

"It's him!" he started to say, but couldn't get a breath. The dark-haired man made a move toward Joe, but Miss Parker stopped him.

"No, Finder," she said. "The cyanide will take him soon enough."

Anonymous said...

Dave Parker rose from his seat. The open window beckoned; a viewfinder to his sweet release. The sounds of the traffic below soothed him. I’m going to do it this time. He imagined a head first dive, better than that standing on the ledge childishness. The wind rushed in, bringing with it the bouquet of the berry scented candle that sat beneath the window. He tensed, ready for the jump.
“Are you going to do it today?” his wife yelled from the kitchen.
“Do what?” Dave replied as he ran forward.
“Get a fucking job!”

Anonymous said...

“I’m the Mastah Parkah!” He chicken-danced around the minivan squeezed into a motorcycle’s spot.

“Dad, talk normal. Parker.” I hid underneath my square, cardboard cap as we walked toward the stadium.

“My rosey-posey is all grown, but Dad has more fun.” He planted a wet raspberry on my cheek and I twisted away.


“Honey, leave her alone. We can wait ‘til they call her name.” She flashed him a look and they both smiled.

I groaned, spotting a vuvuzela in Mom’s purse. More like my parents were the master-finders of ways to torture their only child.

David Bowman said...

The clackety clack of the inter city train marks the soundtrack of our journey from Munich south down to the mountains. We look at one another askance, our purposes known, finder’s fee on our minds. Approaching the first tunnel, I unholster the gun discreetly. Parker’s hand rose as quickly as mine. The fraulein with the drinks trolley rolls towards us, one wheel wobbling uneasily. My hand trembles. A child walks past with a strawberry ice. The train goes dark as we roll into the tunnel. Echoing against the walls - clackety clack. Clackety clack. Clackety clack.

jennifer said...

I mixed up the colors on my palate; berry for the lips, rose for the cheeks, ice blue for around the eyes. I was careful, dipping the tip of my brush into the paint, using soft, even strokes on the porcelain face, drawing in the lips a little fuller and smudging the color on the cheeks. The doll was beautiful, a keepsake for any child. As the finder, Parker had done his job well. He had found me the perfect canvas for my opus. I fluffed her ruffles and spritzed her with perfume, covering the scent of the embalming fluid.

Dena Pawling said...

“Shark!” Captain Ahab rose abruptly, shoving Parker aside like a small child and cranking the wheel hard to starboard.

“I'll get him, sir.” Parker regained his footing and readied the harpoon gun.

“No, you idiot!” Ahab fought to control the boat in the turbulence. “I only get a finder's fee if I take him alive.”

“Alive? … Are you insane?”

The shark bore down, ramming the port side with tremendous force. Parker fired. The boat shuddered, then disintegrated.

Parker bobbed to the surface, surrounded by a berry-colored stain.


A fin circled and closed in.

Lenny Liang said...

"I was told there'd be a finder's fee."

"Depends on what you find."

The young man opened his box. Inside was a single Parker House roll and a small bunch of wild strawberries.

The shopkeeper's eyes opened wide.

"For this, my friend, you get a Rose." He snapped his fingers. A large, muscular man carried out a little girl.

"NO! NO!" the child screamed.

"Will this be adequate?"

The young man merely smiled. He grabbed the girl by the hair and dragged her away, still screaming.

The shopkeeper picked up a strawberry and sank his teeth into it.

"Mmmm. Delicious."

french sojourn said...

He stamped his feet a few times and got into the old Mercedes wagon. He fired up the diesel, and a sooty cloud rose in the cold winter dawn.
The pathfinder app on his blackberry led him straight to her house. He parked and got out. The parkerized finish on his Mossberg 500 was worn, and rust danced on the slide assembly.
What started as a childish argument online, had elevated into a feud. Who ever got the last word in; won. He was going to have the final say about this.
Civil discourse was a thing of the past.

Nikola Vukoja said...

Blueberry pancakes and home made rosehip jam; that was Nana, that and her wild stories. With my brothers and me safely tucked under one of her hand knitted blankets sipping hot chocolate with dollops of vanilla ice-cream, she’d create monsters and dragons and wizards.

I remember her smell, her hugs and her jokes, which were funny because they really weren't, and how she’d shout, “vearr da Parkerrr.” Laughing, we’d say, “its P-A-R-K-A Nana,” and grab our coats to play childhood games of Finders Keepers or slosh in puddles, making muddy pants and galoshes.

Your stories live on,
Love Nik.

megan said...

As it turns out, even a Parker pen can penetrate muscle and bone if you stab nib first.

A pen’s not my weirdest weapon so far. Once, I polished off an under-bed beastie by slamming a bouquet of thorny roses into her bulging eyes, berry-bright blood spilling over a child’s airplane carpet.

They exist, of course. Under-bed, wardrobe-bound, plughole – all those monsters you knew were lurking in shadows after bedtime.

The dumbass curtain-dweller surprised me halfway through Calculus homework, and bled out all over my worksheet. Typical. I’d have to redo it. Daily hazard of being a Finder, I suppose.

D. B. Sundstrom said...

“You look weary child,” Miss Parker started. “As weary as a shaded rose in July.”
Margaret studied her pricked finger, her eyes fixed on the strawberry hued blood. “Why does Jesus let us pick for Mr. Smith? Why does Jesus let him scare us?”
“Jesus will teach him honey. Come. I've got something to show you.” She led her to a burrow three rows down. “Found this this morning.”
“There’s – there’s a jar of silver coins.”
“Shh,” Miss Parker begged. “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that somebody hid in a field,” she laughed. “We are the finders.”

Mr. Christmas Closet said...

I’m a finder, a parker, child watcher, rose giver. An imposter. Name’s “Hal,” concierge at Stork Inn, where ain’t nothin’ never happen, except twice: when I took this job and tonight.

Skinny-J bellhops through the wallpapered lobby. Some broad fisted him a brick to rescue her “Pookie-Bear.”

“Dog’s in the prickers, by the zappers,” Skinny, my former cellmate, says. “Go.”

Under the zappers, a blueberry branch slaps my face. Juice splats my cheek. As I wipe the remains, I see my twin’s skeletal feet, under the prickers. Hal was the good one, had a clean record and a respectable job.

Alyssa Carlier said...

She’s twice a widow, but still a summer child.

They say she’s cursed, she killed her husbands. Fanciful lies; she is perfect in his eyes, a rose to be plucked, a berry ripe enough to crush, the juice sinfully sweet on his fingers.

She wed once for gold and once for love, but she marries him for blood. She wails cluelessly when he plunges the knife into her instead of himself, her lover’s murderer and first husband.

Finders keepers, he thinks. He soaks her greedy grasping hands in Parker’s fluid, and serves himself revenge on glass.

Anonymous said...

Roseberry Parker, child prodigy, waited in the Secure Room, hundreds of feet below Capitol Hill.

Her guard said, “Does it work?”
Roseberry rolled her eyes, “Duuu-uh.”

Her fingers hit several keys rapidly. FINDER, the program she developed, began extrapolating terabytes of data.

The guard said, “Does it take long?”


Roseberry said, “It’s done.”

“Impossible! They’ve been at this for years!"

“Well, someone better call the President.”

“You kidding? Call the Malaysian Authorities. If your program can find this, it can find anything!"

The result on the screen was undeniable. Dates, times, and most importantly, a name.

Lois Lerner.

Charley said...

There once was a dicer, a drunken enticer,
Who rose with the dawn seeking new ways to spice ’er
Existence. A loser, so many insisted.
“A finder,” she cried, and their insults resisted.

While thinking of ways to ferment every berry,
She pondered, considered, wove garlands. And nary
A day dribbled but a child, teen, or hag
Made disparaging cracks ’bout the scent of her swag.

Then one day, invention—an alcohol bliss!
To town as a driver, a parker, a mys-
Tery run through the taverns. A haggle, a hiss.
A deal. “But linger.” She pilfered a kiss.

Anonymous said...

"For real your name is Finder?" Asked Parker.

"Yep, my adoptive mama Rose was out pickin' and found me under a berry bush. She didn't want to name me in case my real mama ever came back. As I got older I tended to wander and get lost. Mama Rose would holler to her pack of sons, 'Where's the child? One of y'all go find 'er!' After awhile they just called me Find'er. I leave out the apostrophe cuz it's confusin'"

LynnRodz said...

"Find 'er," ma said.

I was a child. I hid under a bush. The earth was cool and damp on my tummy. I heard my sister's giggle and her boyfriend's "shh" before I saw 'em. They undressed. I watched.

Groans - then nothing. He rolled off her. The blood between her legs was as bright as berry juice. He killed her, I thought. The scream in my throat stagnated there when Rose opened her eyes and smiled.

Money had fallen out of Parker's pants. I reached out and grabbed it. Finders keepers, I thought, as I skipped home to tell ma.

AMY said...

Rose was always the beautiful child. Here she was on this golden summer afternoon, sunlight playing in her golden hair, strolling through the colourful rows of the strawberry field with her friends, with her perfect golden puppy, Parker, frolicking at her side. I was the ugly one. Dark clouds over my frizzy hair. Always alone. I looked at Rose through the viewfinder of my camera. Click. As I walked away I knew I would always treasure that photo, of what I wanted to be.

Lisa Bodenheim said...


The child paused. Then continued dabbing rosewater on her face; Grandma's rosewater.

He stood back, tilting his head. Lipstick. She wore lipstick for church. Tiptoe, he scrabbled around her dresser top.

A breeze blew through the window, lifted flimsy curtains then sucked them against the screen.


He glanced at the door. Still shut.

Finding the cylinder, he twisted the red tube up and delicately painted her lips. Her eyes stared ahead.

He grabbed the camera and looked through the viewfinder. Just as he snapped, the door popped open.


Rats. Dingleberry had found him.

Al said...

Roseberry Parker, Child-Finder Extraordinaire, couldn’t find her keys. Or her wallet. Her hands still crumby from feeling up the couch’s most intimate crevices, she plopped herself down on the floor and dialed her son for help. He wasn’t home, meaning, that’s right, she couldn’t even find her own child. And she was about to lose her lunch. She was ten minutes late for the ransom handoff.

“DONT KNOW HOW U DID IT BUT THANK YOU” the text came in while she was on the floor. Guess the kid escaped. Good news. Now where did she put that ransom?

Vanessa B. Bernard said...

After Finder’s funeral, Parker took my hand.



“You okay?”

God…how to answer that. There were so many things. The farm, our family name. I shrugged.

“Yeah…just. I don’t know.”

He frowned. “What don’t you know?”

I closed my eyes. “Just…like…how does a child take their father’s place?”

And Parker squeezed my hand. Then he placed a loganberry in my palm. “You don’t replace them” he said. “You build your own.”

Then he kissed my cheek.

And I started to smile.

Amanda Capper said...

Closing my eyes didn't help. Nothing would.

“’Parker, Parker, give me the news, I got a bad case…’”

It wasn't his voice causing the headache, the guy could sing.

I opened my eyes. “Huey, it’s ‘Doctor, Doctor’.”

He smiled, and put his hand over mine. “She’s not here right now, Berry. Why don’t you sing with me? ‘Finder, Finder, give me the…’”

Someone nearby started their own song. “…and give my toes to Rose…”

John. Now a child. Running my palms down the front of my long white coat, I felt my frustration ebb.

Glory days. They pass you by.

Carolyn Haley said...

Only because she was a Nosy Parker did the child find the berry-shaped ruby that was hidden under the rose bush. She received a finder's fee from the person who had lost the gem, and thus began what would become her lifelong career.

Kate Outhwaite said...

“Finders, keepers. Losers, weepers!” taunted Billy Price, dangling his prize a foot above Rose Tomlinson’s reach before legging it towards the caretaker’s shed.

The lunchtime supervisor, Miss Berry, was nowhere to be seen. I pushed off from the wall and moved past the knot of younger children.

Behind the shed, Billy was dismembering the plastic pony key-ring.

He glanced at me. “What do you want, Parker?”

I twisted my ponytail round my finger and moved closer, running my tongue over my gap-tooth, pointy smile. The last words he heard were “I’m thirsty, Billy.”

I was naughty. I kept the key-ring.

Ernesto Oporto said...

I was walking my child in our garden; I didn’t want to be like Spencer, who had no time for his son.

I treasured every moment I had with him; they grow too fast, and I took every opportunity to be with him.

My wife loved roses and Andrew berries, so I had planted different color roses and berry bushes. She would enjoy finding them at the peak of their bloom and would cut them for display in our dining table. Andrew would pick his berries, and I would watch him, I was in heaven.

Barbara Garren said...

"Why do you gain such notoriety, such clamorous fandom and following?"
"I'm beautiful, Berry, full of mystery and glamour."
"Am I not beautiful?"
"Yours is the beauty of a child. A small, sweet concoction devoured by the finder in one, swift, bite. Your beauty does not last."
"And you, Rose? Your beauty is so much greater?"
"It is. I am sharp of wit and sly of tongue, as the great Dorothy Parker for whom I'm named."
"Well, that explains why you're red," said Berry, turning to sun her backside.
Rose did not reply.

Steven said...

They just dismissed me as cliché and formulaic, derivative and sun baked, pretending I can no longer swoop in to provide effective diversion; as if they’d have a career if not for me. These young NYU graduates, trying to impress their equally hip and cutting-edge agents, have recycled me to the ilk of children’s detective books, to be regarded only with rose-colored glasses. Funny, I wasn’t too hackneyed for Christie, Bradbury, or even Robert Parker. Eventually, they’ll come crawling to this discarded trope, but they’ll need a state-of-the-art fish finder, because this strawberry red herring is retiring to the Bahamas.

Maple and Baobab said...

Ms. Child spied Daisy on her knees beside that bush filled with rosehip berries. Her sensibilities sat down the elderly clients, and off she trudged down the hill. She bent down to reassure Daisy when she saw the body of Clem Majors, a small brass pipe jammed in his temple. Kenneth Fernie in slippers inhaled deeply staring down the hill.
Detective Vincent stood in sweats and vintage sneakers, and through his finder he focused Parker stamped on the corroded pipe. “Dave, we've got him. Book Fernie. And let the Parker family know that Arthur can finally rest in peace.”

Laura said...

I crept over the darkened lawn, beyond our tenth anniversary rose bushes, beneath the berry-painted portcullis, into the unlocked house. Only silence, only moonlight. I slid past the dreaded marital door and held my breath. I had been holding it for years.

I entered her room. There she was, my girl, my angel, limp in bed, drunk on dreams. I peeled the electronic finder from her scalp and scooped her into my arms. Parker had warned me against this, as any good divorce lawyer would, but finally, finally - my child was mine again.

I exhaled.

Terra's Treats said...

Rose basked in the sunlight of another warm summer’s day. Strong and full, it grew far above the others.

It was good to be Rose.

Child burst into the tranquil garden, a song on its lips as it began shoving berries into its mouth.

The garden hushed, waiting for the monster to leave.

Then it saw Rose.

“Finder’s keepers,” it said, and it’s horrible claw reached for Rose.

“This is it,” thought Rose.

“Parker!” a voice called, and Rose breathed a sigh of relief.

“Coming,” Child yelled.

Then it plucked Rose and skipped away.

Peace returned to the garden.

Anonymous said...

A Swan Boat is, for reasons of privacy and grace, the best place to issue a death threat. The threatened person usually sits, trapped in childish propriety, until the end of the ride.

Joe Parker did not. Instead he rose, leapt from the boat, and started wading ashore.

"Where the hell are you going, Joe?" I called.

"Away from you!"

A kid stopped throwing raspberry candy at the ducks, and gaped at me.

"He took the finder's fee," I told the kid, "But he didn't find anything."

"You gonna kill him?" asked the kid.

"Don't eavesdrop," I said, "It's rude."

Amy Schaefer said...

Jeopardy! was starting when my hearing aid registered the doorknob click.

I rose. I froze. I eased back down.

The gun shook as Mellie pressed it to her heart, the pearl handle gleaming under the fluorescents. “Parker’s dead.”

Mellie ran through boyfriends like Depends – the curse of all old ladies. “Poor Findergast.”

“A child. Eighty-six.” Her nose was a ripe raspberry.

I whacked her hand with my cane. The gun flew and Mellie toppled into a chair.

She sighed. “This place gets to you.”

I pressed a whisky into her hand. We drank, and watched Trebek do his thing.

Alden Webb said...

"Finders keepers."

"Don't be a child," I say

She sticks her tongue through strawberry colored lips.

I'm losing my patience. But damn, those lips. "C'mon, Rose. Give it here."

Why'd you leave the piece where she could find it? I ask myself.

Oh, yeah. The same reason you got sidetracked from doing your job.

"Are you gonna kill someone with it?" she asks. Playful.

"Maybe so," I say flashing the grin she couldn't resist last night.


How the hell does she know . . . .

Set up hits me about the same time as the bullet.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

The farmer’s market closes. On one table, Sarah piles the discounted produce. Bruised. Battered. Like those who can now afford it.

“The child’s coming.” Hal tucks a ripe strawberry under wilted romaine. “She’s alone. Again.” He hides another.

“Don’t be a nosy parker. We can’t help everyone.” Sarah’s words pierce like a rose’s thorns.

The girl’s fingers, scuttling like bone spiders, nervously settle on a berry. Neither of them belong.

Hal offers an empty bag. “Finders keepers.”

Then, a plump tomato. A brilliant red pepper. A perfect peach.

“Where did those…?” Hal starts.

Sarah studies the receipts, smiles. “Finders keepers.”

Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

Karen McCoy said...

Rose hobbled through the yard, searching for her lost rose trimmings. She’d happily exchange her failing mind for a fresh one. A child’s maybe. The back door opened, making her jump.

“Your son is here,” the nurse said.

But the berry-shaped man carrying a laptop was unfamiliar. Rose’s arthritic fingers shook. “You’re not my son.”

He and the nurse exchanged a smile. “I’m Parker, remember? We talked about this.” He held the screen for her. “Click Finder and open the Living Will.”

Rose grabbed the laptop and shoved it into the refrigerator. Inside were her lost trimmings, crisp and cold.

Michael Field said...

At the corner of Parker Avenue and Main Street, sat a yellow house with faded blue shudders. Beyond that house was a rather large backyard, lined on either side with rose bushes and maybe a berry bush here and there. Americana defined.


Under the yard. Beneath the grass and sod. Deep within the soil. A secret was being unearthed by a child named Daisy and her golden retriever, Chance.

The adults running toward them were too late. Daisy knew this. Once Chance got the scent of death, there was no stopping him. He was her little finder.

Aniko said...

”Such a sweet child,” he said, wiping the sweat off his forehead.

Child. I looked at Rose who stuffed a handful of berries in her mouth, leaving a red halo around it. I guess it was kind of a gamble guessing her gender.

When I heard her battle roar ”Parker! Pahrrrkehhhrr!” it was too late. Her tiny teeth left a mark on his wrist.

He gave up after that and left me to pay the bill. Rose climbed in my lap and blew berry puree in my ear.

Some said she was a lost cause. I was her finder.

Lance said...

He rubbed the chest and stretched skin between fingers. In a powerful, single motion, he thrust the sharpened base of the long stem rose between the fifth an sixth ribs. Full stop. It penetrated ventricle and atrium on the right side. Blood like a berry stain. No more. He should have dethorned.

“Enjoy your rose, you two-timing whore.”

The medical examiner rose and turned to Detective Spenser, “Just like you see. Single rose stem to the heart. Never saw that childlike surprise before.”

“Hey, Chief Parker.”

“Who’s the finder, Spenser?”

“Chief, you’re bleeding. How’d you scratch your fingers?”


Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Mrs. Parker had cuts on her hands; he noticed when they lit their cigarettes. "I never wanted children," she said.

"Haven't found the right woman." Too involved in his work, they always said.

"Is that how you became a people finder?" Missing toddler, dropping temperature. The golden flag of Drift's alert. The berry bramble tore up his arms when he lifted the little girl out, cheeks rose red.

"I guess."

"Will she be okay?"

Not with you, he thought, finishing his cigarette, stubbing it out. "You'll have to ask them."

When he left, she was still out there, smoking.

Anonymous said...

Jason's hands shook as he continued to work the ancient sparker, its flint long-eroded and impotent. In the valley below, the search party hacked through thick mulberry with Jimmy Lightfeathers as pathfinder.

Jason shivered. The kerosene soaked his skin, filled his nose and stung his eyes.

They were coming to save him, to take him back to a life that no longer existed. Not for a man who had failed as he had. Not for a man who had watched the life bleed from his child's eyes.

The striker stuttered, then sparked. Jason smiled as the flame roared.

Anonymous said...


Parker's lips were as red as a rose. I stared down at the baby resting on my legs. Just three days old, she was honestly the most beautiful child I had ever seen. I might be biased since she's mine, but damn. She was really beautiful. I just hoped she would be a finder, like I am. There was no guarantee, though, since her father isn't a finder, but my father wasn't a finder and I became one, so who knows? She had the berry mark on her belly that was common among finders. I had one in the exact same spot, actually. We wouldn't know until her third birthday, though.

Brig said...

The child of Parker and Rose was a finder. Sometimes an unripened berry, sometimes a shiny rock. The day with the snake was an interesting one.
His pockets were lined with mementos of his travels, cataloging moments missed by those busy Googling mindfulness.
The specialists said he had autism. That he didn't know how to relate to the world around him.
The autumn leaves did not concur. It was he who noticed their dance from the treetops, and he who willed them on their journey to their final place of rest.
Later, he remembered them.

MVB said...

Parker came from a long line of finders. Nothing would stop him from unearthing the legendary diamonds hidden in the hills. He and his mammoth JCB would systematically rip the landscape apart, cubic yard by cubic yard, to reach them.

She was a child of nature. She cherished every leaf and berry. Parker offered her his prize rose diamond.

“I’ll never marry you,” she pulled the trigger in contempt.

Parker collapsed backwards into the last hole he’d dug.

A diamond ring flashed past him into the pit below.

The JCB growled relentlessly as she filled in the hole.

Katherine Hayton said...

Rose stood at the side of the stream. She poked at the dead transvestite with a stick, then looked around to see if anyone had spotted her. She didn’t know why she had to be the finder of such awful gifts. Charlie Parker had once found a bag full of knives. Now that was a gift you could get some use out of. She poked the body again, the berry-coloured dress dimpling with the motion. Her mother’s face would turn a similar colour when she told her, and she’d have to. She was only a child, after all.

Naomi said...

"How did you ever--?"

"A service called DirtbagFinder."

I spread strawberry crème anglaise on my Parker House roll. It cost me plenty to bring you here, more than I ever earned modeling before your agency closed for abusive practices and you fled to Brazil. Have you forgotten how you kidnapped me from Ukraine and starved me, kept my arms and belly as thin as a child's?

"What are you going to do?" you can't resist asking.

I top my roll with rosehip jam.

"I'm gonna eat my FACE OFF." The dogs are led in. "While they eat yours."

celeste said...

Flash mob

@Our_Child_Missing. Rose never came home from school today. Last seen wearing strawberry print dress, carries a satchel. Finder's reward for our beautiful little girl. Whatever it takes. Plse help and retweet. 17:05

Strawberries are red
Violets are blue
I have her with me
Now I want cash from you

@Our_Child_Missing. Man arrested on suspicion of abduction. Our baby still missing. Pray for us. 20:16

@Our_Child_Missing. Rose found safe in the mall, thanks to thousands of retwts & phone calls. Sick creep who tweeted fake abduction just released by cops. His name is Parker. His address is...

Jed Cullan said...

Jack glanced at his enemies -Parker, Finder and Berry-The Shark Gang."I may only be 5'2", a child to your eyes, with stunning black hair, rose-red cheeks and a winning smile, but I fight like a 6'8" muscular blond who can out-jump Oprah on a sofa."

Sweat dripped down their foreheads. One visibly gulped.

"Three of you. One of me. Either leave, or between you suffer four broken legs, two broken arms, a punctured lung, twenty broken ribs and a bad case of eye-dangling-from-socket."

He smiled his winning smile.

"Your choice."

CHLamb said...

Ben looked up from his precinct computer, opened on People Finder software and eyes widening, felt his jaw drop.
The borderline child-prostitute standing before him had a wand-like body showcased in berry-red knockoff satin and matching spiked heels, her breasts like little oranges under the tight fabric. She sashayed closer, and Ben caught the whiff of cheap rose perfume.
‘I think you’ll be lucky you’re undercover.’
‘Five women missing all from that corner and no one but me cares.’
And I love you, he thought, because you care. ‘Come home safely to me, Officer Parker.’
‘Same goes, Detective Parker.’

Writer of Wrongs said...

The ships landed every hour, disgorging outliers who sought anonymity in the back alleys of the capitol. Here, whores called their marks parkers—louts with certain appetites who liked to dawdle between the legs of beautiful creatures.

I’m a finder. Colloquially? I bring the berry to the bear.

While they disembarked, I identified my mark and approached; a child bartering for her mistress. He spit on me, but followed. Prick.

I delivered him through the door. Locked it.

Inside, she rose from her pallet. Regal. Dangerous.

I remained outside, I’d seen it before.

Dragons’ appetites are different than men’s.

nightsmusic said...

Everyone in the small town of Somewhere, LA, commented what a sweet child Parker Finder was. Twelve years old and such a gentleman. Helped the elderly in town all the time, toting and fetching. Even picked old lady Simon’s berry patch for her after she’d broken her ankle. Everyone commented alright. Right up to the minute they found Parker Finder standing over old lady Simon, just smiling away like the sweet child he was. He’d beat her to death with the baseball bat he’d earlier hit three home runs with that hot summer day.

Yup, just kept smiling.

Sweet child.

KariV said...

Rose stared desolately into the mirror. She was just a child. "How had it come to this?" she wondered, as she adjusted the raspberry beret on her head. She tilted it forward, studying the look. Like the song, she wore little else, and her small body radiated the innocence that would soon be lost.
A knock at the door. Parker entered and looked her over. “It’s time.”
The man behind him leered at her, his every intention revealed upon his face. The image remained captured in her memory forever, frozen in time like a picture from a camera viewfinder.

R.A. Cahill said...

Swirling winds spit cold hard rain against the windshield. Rose Berry stared through the scarred glass willing the movement, shadows, to lock into her memory. She glanced at her watch dial. Nine. She only had seconds to save her child, Parker, from her mistake.
Her world had come apart. She had to place the pieces back together. She had spent her life as an investigator, a finder, but no longer. Flames, mayhem, tires screamed as her car slid around a corner, then slammed into a fire truck. Leaping from the car she grabbed her son from a fireman. Alive.

Jay said...

Rose. Berry. Child. Parker. Finder.

These are the clues resounding in my mind as I hunt the lunatic wreaking havoc in Sharkton. And let me tell you sister, does havoc wreak!

Rose, berry, child, parker, finder; roseberry, childparker, finder...

That's it!

The child is buried in the park by the roses! Find her!

Frantically I dig up every bush until I uncover cloth. The child is a doll long lost by the lunatic who I now lure to the waiting white coats.

Just another day in Sharkton.

Join me in a bucket o' Chum anyone?

ashland said...

Roses are red
A berry is blue
When Parker raped me
He said 'fuck you'

Years later he enters the club. I was a child when it happened, so he doesn't recognize me. When I tell our bouncer Shaun to let him know he's won a free ten in the champagne room, his eyes light with excitement.

Three minutes into 'Cherry Pie' I whip out the switchblade.
Two slashes crisscross his throat.
One long moan escapes.
Zero professional finders will ever locate his body.

Roses are red
The sky is now blue
When it was over
I said 'fuck you'

Debbie Dorris said...

The dark of night hid fourteen-year-old Julia Garvin from the searching eyes of Boise's child finder. The rose she clutched caused droplets of blood to mar her pale fingers. Crouching behind a dumpster that oozed with rot stench, she bit he lip, praying the finder would move on.

Her mind whirled. "Maybe I shouldn't run away with Sam. Maybe I am too young. If I'm caught I'll be thrown in the labor camp."

She hightailed it toward Golf Park where her father's a parker. She ran past the entrance to the berry festival and straight into her father's safety.

Wangari said...

Welcome to NSA! Relax. It’s short for Nairobi Speedy Adoptions. Why so morose? Almost over now. Soon you return to America. Take off your coat. Turn off your blackberry. Enjoy the breeze. Say again? Ha! Yes, you’re correct. Smells like shit. Forget breeze. Now if you can take this Parker pen and sign we can finish. Sign where? There. On top of line that says: “Child’s Adoptive Parents.” Wonderful. Now as promised here is photo of toto. What? Missing finders? Say again? Oh, I see. Me? A liar? See contract. It says toto hana vidole. Means baby has no fingers.

Rob Sitter said...

“Finder’s keepers, Parker,” the child said to her brother as she rose from the strawberry-patterned car seat. The red plastic viewfinder on the floor of the car was sticky and smelled like cranberry juice, but Rose didn’t want Parker to have it because he had a tendency to lose things. The picture reel had images Parker’s favorite literary character, Thomas Berryman the Fantastic Finder of Ancient Artifacts, whose clumsy nature and signature lapel rose made him stick out like a sore thumb wherever he went.