Okay, since this is the first Monday Muse, I wanted to give you guys an idea on how these posts will look. After that, anything above my sign-off won’t be in future Monday Muse posts. So! Let’s get started!
First, I’ll have the prompt itself as well as the source of the prompt (right now I’m pulling from a book called “The Pocket Muse.”). Next is my own writing sample based on the prompt above.
Note, I will spend no more than thirty minutes to an hour on each piece of writing, so many of them are incomplete, and that’s totally okay. When you do your own piece, you can take as little or as much time as you’d like, but I like having flash fiction pieces. Not only does this almost always guarantee they’re short enough for a blog, but then I don’t get burnt out or stressed it it’s not perfect. Remember, this is just a prompt! And it’s just for fun.
Alright, sorry! Let’s get back to this, shall we?
”Write about someone who is pretending to be someone or something that he is not.”
– The Pocket Muse
* * *
Peppered salami and seared fish teased his nostrils. Darius’s nose twitched once, twice, as he tried to ignore the rumbling in his stomach. He slowly, carefully looked over the display, taking in every detail like it meant something more to him than a meal on the table. The butcher busied himself sharpening a knife–something he pretended was a normal routine instead of a subtle threat to thieves whose fingers were itching to wander their way onto his supply. Darius ignored him. He did not ignore Darius.
“What’re you hungry for?” The butcher’s voice was deep, gravel grinding against the dry and smoky walls of his throat.
“I’m not sure,” he said.
The butcher grumbled a nonverbal response. Darius made his way down the table in calculated, meticulous steps. The cured and cooked slowly transitioned into ground, and from ground to cold cuts and raw slabs of marbled beef propped on icy display. Insects buzzed, drawn in by the strips of fat discarded on the floor behind the stall. Flies occasionally dropped onto a steak, but they didn’t linger long.
They preferred rotten flesh, and this butcher was the best on the Street Market. He didn’t serve dog, rat, or pigeon, and he definitely didn’t serve spoiled goods.
That’s what made him so expensive. Darius had only been lucky enough to barter for a few smalls strips of jerky once. That was before he knew how important it was to be confident when you were buying, instead of looking desperate.
No matter how hungry you really were.
“Where do you get your cows?” Darius asked.
The butcher looked up at him and stopped sharpening his knife. He thrust the blade into his belt and grabbed the towel tucked into his waistline. He wiped his hands as he said, “Ranch outside of Edison.”
“Are they butchered on site?” Darius leaned over the table to look more closely at some of the cold cuts. He didn’t have a way to cook them, but that didn’t really matter. “Or do you bring them into the city?”
“Slaughtered on site,” the butcher grunted. “I cut ‘em up here.”
“Here” probably meant in his home. He was one of the few patrons of the Street Market wealthy enough to have one he actually owned.
“Hmm.” Darius stood straight again and walked back down the table toward the charcuterie. He admired a bundle of glazed, smoked, and sliced ham. “It’s not bad.”
“Yeah.” Darius shrugged. He pulled a wad of bills from his pocket and flipped through them as though this was something he did often. He furrowed his brow, threw down a five. “I’ll take it.”
“That’s half what I’m asking,” the butcher growled.
“That’s what it’s worth,” Darius said.
The man crossed his arms and watched Darius through narrow slits. Darius sighed and gestured to the ham with an open palm. “It’s discolored at the edges,” he said. “Doubt it’s as fresh as you say. Don’t know how clean you keep things. Flies around here compromise it.” He shook his head. “Not worth a dime over five and you know it, especially not if I just puke it up later.”
“Are you tryin’ to insult my work?” The butcher leaned forward, slapped both his steak-sized hands down on the table across from Darius. His bald head beaded with sweat from the smoker behind him. Darius’s brows furrowed. A few bystanders stopped to listen in.
“No, sir,” Darius said. “I’m just trying to get a fair deal.”
The butcher considered Darius for a bit longer. The fact was, not one of them down here at the Street Market could afford to pass up money when it was offered. Instead, they tried to up their prices when they felt like they could get away with it–and when they felt like they had the upper hand.
Darius hoped his stomach didn’t growl now. It was hard to have the upper hand when everyone knew you were starving.