Fifteen Minute Ficlets (#15MF) is a weekly Sunday writing challenge hosted here on The Literary Phoenix. Based on a single word, write a short story in fifteen minutes. The word count is irrelevant. Just write your heart out for 15 minutes and be inspired by the word. You never know what you’ll end up with!
1. activity that supports or provides active encouragement for the furtherance of a cause, venture, or aim.
2. the action of raising someone to a higher position or rank or the fact of being so raised.
Hattie sat in the waiting room, her fringed 1920s style flapper dress temptingly revealing a bit of knee. She tapped her fingers on her leg as she watched the cheap clock on the wall beside the door tick, tick, tick. The small four-paned window revealed a bright, sunny afternoon with clear blue skies. Hattie only glanced at it sideways, half-wondering what film was being projected.
The secretary sat at his desk, busily typing on an old-style computer. It was one of those one in early 90s films, with screens so clunky it took two people to carry them. He hadn’t looked at her once, not even when she checked in with him. He had just waved to the uncomfortable chairs in the corner and Hattie took the hint to wait.
“Howdy partner,” a cheeky voice floated over her shoulder. Hattie looked up, then planted her chin on her fist, scrutinizing. Jack was dolled up in dungarees and a wide-brimmed ten-gallon hat. She rolled her eyes.
“You don’t think they’re sending us to a spaghetti western, do you?” She hated those old films, with their meek mannered women and racial injustices.
Jack just grinned down at her and shrugged.
She tapped her foot on the floor and stared at the door. The secretary stood straight up , his shoulders back and stiff. “You can go in,” he told them.
His eyes watched them as they walked by. Hattie turned the door handle hesitantly, but Jack flung it open and grinned. The Boss sat behind a grand polished oak desk, free and clear of clutter. The only embellishment in the tight office was the shelf behind the desk, with housed a number of well-aged Oscars. The room seemed so desolate and lonely, Hattie had no idea how he could stand to sit there all day in a place so devoid of joy and comfort.
“Have a seat, have a seat,” the old man waved his fat hand at the two chairs in front of his desk, identical to those in the sitting room.
Hattie sat down demurely, trying to appear polite and agreeable. Jack twisted his around and sat on it backward, resting his forearms on the high wooden back. Hattie felt her cheeks flush – he was so comfortable everywhere he went. Too comfortable.
“I’ll get right down to brass tax,” the Boss said. He wasn’t one for small talk or games. “There’s a promotion available in the organization for a well-functioning team.”
Jack’s eyes lit up. Hattie waited patiently for the catch.
“It’s not field work -” there was the catch! “-but it’s training work. John, Harriet… you have always shown exemplary teamwork and improvisation. We’d like you two to consider the job.”
His gaze rested on both of them, as though he didn’t see them as individuals, but as a functioning whole. Hattie glanced sideways at Jack, but he was already scrutinizing the Boss. “No thanks,” he pursed. Hattie relaxed. “As obliged as we are, I think I speak for the both of us when I say we’d rather be doing field work.”
The Boss leaned back and folded his hands across his belly. “I thought you might say that. In that case, I am assigned two apprentices to you. They’ll be your responsibility.”
He waved his hand at the door. Jack and Hattie shared a quick look, but Hattie found her voice first. “Thank you,” she said while standing up.
A couple of rubes, is what she thought as she followed Jack out the door. Whoever these kiddies were, they were only going to get in the way.
Hattie and Jack are two film agents who travel through the old reels, catching the runaway actors and making sure everything runs smoothly. They comes from Beyond the Silver Screen, one of my favorite pieces to write because they travel through 80 years of hit films, chasing Hattie’s best friend who has decided she’s tired of being an extra.
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