Wednesday Write-in #27: Red Rouge Kaleidoscope

Wednesday Write-in #27 @ CAKE.shortandsweet

Prompts: oedipal  ::  intervention  ::  core  ::  pepper  ::  rouge


Blake liked to make quick work of a bottle or a bag and then do the same to motel rooms. He called them installments. He liked 50’s era motels for his work because he felt that the retro styling fit his motif. “It’s the American dream and the interstate system and voices from the periphery,” he sometimes said. So his brother Troy was hardly surprised when he got a call from the folks at the Sandy Shores Motel requesting that he come down.

Blake had completed another project.

Troy couldn’t miss the motel–it had one of those large signs where “Sandy Shores” runs horizontally in yellow, uneven patchwork lettering and “Motel” runs vertically in blue block letters on a solid white background. It was midday and the heat was dry and the air was dead. There were no police cars. The manager was understanding–he didn’t want trouble. Only compensation.

“It happens from time to time,” said the manager on the phone. “Weird scenes in the rooms. But he needs medical attention, I think.”

The manager showed Troy to Room 521. The door was ajar and Blake was sitting on the corner of the bed wrapped in the floral patterns of the bed comforter. He was still.

“Original wallpaper?” asked Troy. The manager nodded grimly. Carpet and drapes too, he thought.

White desert sunlight was spilling in through the window and throwing the room into relief. It had red all over. Red bell peppers were smashed and strewn about in one corner, others sliced neatly and on a plate at the desk where Blake must have dreamed it all up on whatever strange night this all started. There were cores from half-eaten red apples here and there and another half-dozen uneaten and stacked in the far corner, perhaps strategically placed as part of the piece, perhaps coincidental byproducts of the need for sustenance during the kind of razor blade benders that Blake liked to go on (“installments!” he would insist the next week, still bedridden).

“Blake. Hey, Blake,” said Troy with a gentle hand on his brother’s shoulder. “It’s me.” Blake looked up at his brother as if he had just been stirred from a deep sleep, his eyes empty and searching.

“Get them to take pictures with a Diana, Troy. A cascade of my crowning achievement. My crowning crown that cost me a thou.” He chuckled and turned to the manager. “How about a crown and coke old sport? I’ll give you a thousand dollars.”

“Okay,” said Troy evenly. He turned to the motel manager. “Let’s call the paramedics.”

On the walls Blake had written the word “oedipal” over and over again in red rouge, sometimes in cursive writing, other times in totalitarian block lettering. The discarded plastic lipstick casings were distributed about the room at the various composition points, some standing on edge, some on their sides.

“A kaleidoscope effect,” Troy said to Blake before the stomach pump. “The lipstick casings are perfect.”

“Exactly,” he responded with a wry smile. “Exactly what I was going for.”


Filed under Featured Content, Flash Fiction, Wednesday Write-In, Writing

16 responses to “Wednesday Write-in #27: Red Rouge Kaleidoscope

  1. I’ve enjoyed reading this. It has a strong opening sentence that pulled me in straight away. I’ve read the piece several times now, and I get a little bit closer to something (what?) each time. This is the kind of fiction I like.


  2. Elaine Peters

    Quite disturbing, the line between creative genius and madness. Unlike Patrick, I don’t visualise a great artistic installation, more like a mess which Blake thinks is great. Troy seems very kind to his brother and doesn’t resent having to get him out of these situations.


    • @Elaine

      You describe their relationship very well. It’s one of the tragic things about situations like these, when someone’s vision is obscured, or even completely distorted, by their behavior or their addiction or by whatever else.


  3. First off, the title is great!
    I love the creative madness your story tells of, and the creativity you’ve used to invent the goings on in Room 521. Your words paints a great, clear, and weird image of the situation Troy has found his brother in. I leave the story happy and impressed by what Blake has done, but sad for his and his brother’s reality.

    Just one thing to nip at: the words ‘throwing the room into relief.’ didn’t quite sit right with me.


    • @kiwirebecca

      I’m glad that this story can work in those ways — I think you describe its inner workings well.

      Point taken about my phraseology — it was, to be sure, a conscious decision, so I’ll have to live with how effective (or ineffective) it may be. I appreciate your close reading, really do.


  4. Emmaleene Leahy

    I really like this. It’s intriguing and feels like the start of something longer, it reading draws on the reader’s curiosity. I reminds me of the opening of a novel called “I know this much is true” by Wally Lamb, where the narrator has to go rescue his twin brother from a similar situation. You might enjoy it if you haven’t read already..


    • @Emmaleene

      I’ve never come across any work by Wally Lamb. “Let the Great World Spin” by Colum McCann has a similar brother-rescue-brother narrative as well. Thanks again for the read and the recommendation.


  5. That’s a great description of Blake’s installation. I visualize a great piece of art and I hope a photo was taken. But all very sad and impacting on the lives of quite a few people. I liked the motel manager being understanding; not all that many people would respond in this way. Gripping. Intriguing.


    • @patrickprinsloo

      Thank you for the kind feedback.

      I wonder about the manager too. Maybe this scene occurs in a place where hotel managers and people in general would rather settle scores on their own than have to deal with the police.


  6. I really liked this. What a unique story! I’ve read it a couple of times now and see something new each time. The only thing that jars is the sudden change to the first person narrator right at the end – is this Troy talking? I couldn’t make that out, but otherwise I thought fantastically written.


  7. Surreal. I think there’s is something just under the surface squirming away from my understanding – but I like that feeling.


  8. Elaine McKay

    I really like the whole feel of this. It’s off-beat and interesting. Their relationship is great. There must be a lot of pain there perhaps related to their mother.


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