The Artiste


Today’s writing prompt over at The Haunted Wordsmith is the image below.

Would this train ride never end?


William stared out the window at nothing much, just as he’d been doing for days. He knew travelling from New Jersey to San Francisco by train would be grueling, but he was not prepared for the monotony of Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, ad nauseum.

And then there was the smelly brat and its ridiculous gum-popping mother sitting directly across from him. The child looked to be around six or seven and was not yet potty-trained. Either that, or it farted an awful lot. Occasionally the mother put down her Dirty, Filthy Secrets magazine to take it to the restroom, but not nearly often enough. The only thing that kept William’s sanity in check was knowing his beloved Solange would be awaiting his arrival at the train station in San Francisco. And then they would be married.

It was love at first sight for both of them. Well, almost. William became smitten with Solange nearly a year ago, on their first date. He’d taken her to Dante’s on Pier 39 for dinner. There were a million things that endeared her to him: the way her hazel eyes sparkled when she looked at him, the way her long black hair swirled down her back, her refreshing independence and self-reliance, dry sense of humor…Solange was everything he’d dreamed of in a woman.

It took a bit longer for Solange to fall for William, but he chalked it up to her playing hard to get, being cautious, or, perhaps it was simply part of being an artiste. He still wasn’t quite sure what exactly her art was, but no matter!  William just thanked his lucky stars that his boss kept sending  him back to San Francisco every month.

William stopped a crew member who was passing by. “How long ‘til we reach San Francisco?”

The man calculated in his head. “You got about four hours to Los Angeles, from there, you got probably another 10 hours.”

“I see, “William sighed. “Thank you.”

Less than 24 hours!


The next day in San Francisco…


Will this guy never finish up?


Solange was employed at one of the city’s most prestigious brothels, Le Chat Château, which catered to the world’s most prominent men. As such, Solange considered herself more of an artiste than a courtesan since she had, after all, raised her profession to an art form.

Finally, her client’s session had come to its natural conclusion, and Corina took a break with her friend and fellow artiste, Yvette de la Sol.

“Got a light?” Yvette asked with a Gauloises dangling from her plump magenta lips.

Solange lit Yvette’s cigarette and then her own. She inhaled deeply and blew the smoke out slowly with a sigh.

“Is something wrong?”

“I dunno.” Solange shrugged. “You ever get that weird feeling like you’re forgetting something?”



Susan Marie Shuman/ SusanWritesPrecise

An Interview with Thunder Turtle!


Good morning, folks! Today we have an extra-special treat for you: an interview with that remarkable reptilian super-hero: Thunder Turtle! Let’s get started.

Me: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Mr. Turtle.

TT: Please, call me Shelldon. That’s my real name, Shelldon McSnapper. I didn’t become Thunder Turtle until I grew up.

Me: Okay, Shelldon, it is. Now, how did you get started as Thunder Turtle.

TT: Well, it all started when I was a youngster and belonged to a particular bale (group) of hatchlings. You know how kids are, there’s a bully in every bale. Anyway, one day I saw a group of thugs picking on a special needs hatchlings who also had a speech impediment. The bums were flipping him on his back, spinning him around, and writing “I’m a T-T-TURD-le” on him in black permanent marker. I thought to myself, If I don’t stop this, who will? If not now, when?

Me: Wow! Weren’t you afraid taking on a bale of bullies by yourself?

TT: Not really. I’ve always been big for my age. Besides it was the right thing to do.

Me: So what did you do?

TT: I stood up on my back legs and ran toward those thugs, hissing and grunting as loud as I could. Now, keep in mind, turtles can’t hear. We can feel vibration though and let me tell you what; those wieners tucked their empty little heads into their shells but fast. Then I stopped Tyler (the special-needs kid) from spinning and tried to rub the black marker of off him with salt water. Those thugs never bothered him again.

Me: You made a friend for life in Tyler, didn’t you?

TT: Oh, yeah. I see him around every so often. Usually during mating season.

Me: You are the first reptilian super-hero I’ve ever met. Tell me, do you have a motto?

TT: Sort of, I guess. “I may not be fast, but I’m Bad Ass!

Me: I like it! It’s fitting.

TT: Now, I don’t wear a cape like Superman or have a Bat Mobile like Bat-Man, or even a special amulet.

Me: And why is that?

TT: Well, for starters, turtles don’t wear clothes. Who has time to shop? We don’t drive nor do we have fingers for rings & such. So, what you see is what you get.

Me: It sounds to me like you don’t need anything else! So, what other kinds of things do you do to keep the reptilian world safe from evil forces?

TT: I spend a lot of my time making sure other turtles stay out of the street. They have a bad habit of wandering into traffic and getting killed or causing accidents. Then, when it’s time for the sea turtles to lay their eggs, I escort the ladies to make sure nobody bothers them as they come out of the water and find just the right spot to drop off the kids. Then, I wait around until they finished and escort them back to the water because by then, the girls are exhausted.

Me: You certainly sound like a busy guy!

TT: Yeah, I guess. But hey, somebody has to look out for amphibians.

Me: One more question if you don’t mind. What’s your take on the Teen-Age Mutant Ninja Turtles?

TT: I think they’re funny. It’s a great show, but pure fiction. Real life ain’t like that. Don’t kid yourself.

“Well folks, that about wraps up our interview. Thanks so much, Shelldon, for your time, and be safe out there!”

TT: You betcha!

Written for The Haunted Wordsmith Daily Writing Challenge November 4.





Susan Marie Shuman

Photo Credit : George Grall, National Aquarium