Everyone has needs, a little love, a little hope a little faith.  Maybe they want a cigarette or money for a coffee or breakfast, but traveling through Union Station every day you are sure to hear this week's prompt at least a few times a day.

The Judge

_ This week's judge is a #MotivationMonday Veteran equally comfortable in front of a set of weights or high tech gadgets and video games, he's also a heck of a writer.  The inimitable Rafe B, please take a moment to check out his website and show him some love.

The Prompt

Help a brother out?

The Rules

  1. The story must start from the prompt.  This means the prompt must be the first words in the story.
  2. No more than 500 words (not including the prompt).  No less than 100 words.
  3. Any genre (in fact an unexpected genre will get you more points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted by Tuesday Noon EST
  5. The winner of each week's competition will be invited to judge the following week and post the winner's badge similar to the one on the right.
  6. Have fun!

2/5/2012 08:22:34 pm

By Wakefield Mahon

"Help a brother out?"
I sighed heavily. I missed my old job. At least country living offered me an occasional week of peaceful solitude. Couldn't I have a day where they left me alone and I didn't have to hear their pitiful cries? I searched his eyes trying to determine whether he deserved my assistance. This wasn't the first time I'd seen this one. I shook my head, tired of the whole situation. Even when you do try to help them, they never change.
Yes, I realize it is "my job" to help them but the routine always ends up they same way. They waste every chance you give them with their reckless lifestyles. Besides, have you seen them? They are so scrawny. It makes you wonder when they last had a decent meal. Not to mention, they smell like something from a farm or zoo. Their stench makes me want to wretch just coming within fifteen yards of them.
"I don't really know if I should," I said. "Didn't I just see you last week and the week before? Has it ever occurred to you that you might want to do something else with your life instead of hanging around here getting into trouble all of the time?"
"Come on man don't be that way."
I stopped a safe distance away from the 'man' if you want to call him that. You never really know how these things might turn out. "How do I know you won't do something stupid if I help you? You need to learn how to help yourself. You can't rely on our assistance for ever. Your kind is all the same. They need to make a law banning you from this area."
He started to cry. "I understand that you think you're better than me. You can't think what you want but please help me. I wouldn't be begging for your help if I didn't need it." His hands trembled as he reached toward me.
I sighed before grabbing his hand and yanking as hard as I could, apparently just in time. The branch he'd been holding on to dropped to the canyon floor, too far down for even my keen eyes to discern.
"This is the last time I telling you 'brother'," I said. "If you want to go rock climbing, do it back on your own planet. The soil here is much too soft to hold your piton and your harness is entirely inadequate. I can't always be here to save you.
"Thank you ranger, I'll will remember. You won't have to rescue me again."
I licked my paw, hoping to clean the human stupid off and praying it wasn't some sort of contagious disease. My mothers were right. I'm not cut out for this. I should go back to being a Sirusian Worm farmer.

473 words

2/6/2012 12:29:22 am

“Help a brother out?”

I leaned on the moss-slicked piling, ankles crossed, listening to the tide lap up against the dock. At night, the lake was inky black, hiding most of the garbage steeping in it. Not all of the refuse – I thought I saw a dead cat floating by – but most of it.

Down in the water, Danny wriggled. One had to give the poor bastard credit for staying afloat even this long, trussed up as he was. But there he was, just bobbing up and down like a dutiful little human buoy. I flicked my cigarette at him and it ricocheted off his forehead.


He went under for just a second as a small wave crested over his balding head. ~Keep your mouth shut; don’t know what you might suck in.~ “Money!” he bleated as soon as he came up. “Money. Lots of money. Just, just pull me out! My card is in my wallet we can go to the bank- ” Blup! Another trough drew him under.

It was tempting. I was going to be turning fifty this year. All I would have to do was reach down, pick up the chain, and pull him out. Wouldn’t even have to unlock him – just let him lay on the dock like a landed fish. Someone would find him eventually. Depending how much this bribe was, maybe I could hop a boat and sail off into the sunset. It would be just me and forever in the tropics.

One little problem with that was when you went back on a job, you became “unreliable.” Which meant you became a liability. Pretty much a guaranteed pink-slip to hell. I took a lot of pride in my work, such that it was, and usually didn’t even dither this long. I ~was~ getting soft.

I reached for the chain and picked it up, swinging the block on the end. Not overly heavy, but add into that the weight of the chain and sodden clothing, and Danny would stay down easily enough. “Sorry.” I meant it.

He gave a high-pitched scream as the weight hit the water, then there was nothing but silence again as it towed him under. We were far enough from anywhere populated that no one would have heard it.

I turned to head back to the car. A sudden rush of pain blossomed in my forehead, severe enough that the world spun around me and drove me to my knees. I found I couldn’t stop the sideways tilt of my body and I hit the dock on my side. I’d heard nothing.

Heavy boots appeared in my fading sight. One of them came closer, nudged me, then gave a harder shove. As I rolled into the water, officially retired, I took a moment’s solace in knowing at least I’d be found before Danny.

Nancy P
475 words

2/6/2012 01:24:17 am

Help a brother out? How many times will I read these words and not be affected by them? The first words of my brother’s suicide note crush me every day. Every day I have to read them and be crushed. I let him down. I read the note but let him die.
Back during our teenage years he was the daring one. Me? Cowardly. Yellow. Timid. The only description I would offer if asked. Tomas rode his bike across the busy roads. I stood at the lights and walked over. Tomas smoked pot. I sucked on candy. Tomas screwed girls. I am still a virgin. Tomas begged me for money for his last fix. I ignored him. Tomas stole money from the local store. I reported him. Tomas killed for drugs. I cried and walked away. So when his last letter came asking for me to help him out, I chose to save money on the stamp and not reply. Again I received another letter with the same request; Help a brother out?
After the inquest it was reported he had suffered endless male rapes and beatings. I went home and unscrewed the last letter received and read the whole thing, not just the first four words.
What I read was a nightmare memoir of his time inside. Of how he had become the plaything of one of the most influential inmates. Of how he could not carry on and wanted me to find someone to help him. To believe his story. To help the reformed character he had become. I only saw the first four words and was his judge and jury. He slit his wrist with broken glass. If only I had read beyond. Help a brother out?

290 words

2/6/2012 05:09:04 am

sorry typo fixed with this one
Help A Brother Out
“Help a brother out?” the man asked as I rolled down my window.
The man sprawled at the curb in the grocery store parking lot was bedraggled. His hair might have been brown once but was now gray and matted. He had jeans that had seen better days as they had holes in the knees. His cotton jean jacket covering him couldn’t have kept him warm and it was a cold bitter winter day with snow falling. His running shoes were stuffed with newspaper He was emaciated and looked like a wind would blow him away. My heart turned over but I had been fooled before by people who had lots of money and still pan-handled. Was I being had?
I stared some more hesitating
“Please I’m hungry and cold can you spare enough for a sandwich and a coffee?”
I scrambled to find some cash. I had a five so I passed it through the window to him.
Five minutes later as I pulled away I saw a police officer roust him cuff him and put him in his car. Before I’d even thought about it I was beside the police officer asking
” Why are you arresting him?Isn’t that just a ticket?” I asked
“Yes I guess, but I better not catch this one panhandling again.”
“What am I going to do? I was hoping to get enough to eat and sleep tonight.” the panhandler said to me as the police officer drove away.
We sheltered at my house I gave him food, drink, new clothes, an old coat and old boots We ate and I offered him my spare bed. The next morning I woke up and he was gone .I was worried about him. I drove to the grocery store parking lot but he was where to be seen .I asked around but no one had seen him. I went home dejected worried about this man who was a stranger yesterday and knew I’d found my calling helping those like him. I tidied up the bedroom he’d used and to my astonishment under the pillow I found a note.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” please take this money and help the needy.”
I had found my calling helping a brother out.
499 words

2/6/2012 11:28:50 am

"Help a brother out?"

Andy was already having a bad day; he didn't need panhandlers asking him for money. Usually, he would have walked past beggars without even looking, but he was feeling different today. This morning, his truck had died and his credit application for a new one had been rejected.

Today, Andy could identify with the homeless a lot more than he could yesterday. He had just paid five dollars to enter a raffle as maybe the only way he could possibly get the new truck he needed. Without the truck, he couldn't do his job. Without his job, he wouldn't have money for a truck, rent or even food. The events of this morning made him identify much more closely with the man now standing before him.

"Here you go, buddy," he said, handing the guy five dollars.

"Hey, thanks, man! God bless you, sir," said the beggar, turning around and limping away.

That left Andy with only just enough money for the taxi back to work and, for later, to go from work back to the raffle site. He KNEW he would win. He HAD to.

He did.

On his way home after the raffle, however, his new truck skidded onto an unfinished bridge and Andy flew out of the truck and into the river.

It was a day of double tragedy in which Andy's trucks had been the bookends. The next thing Andy saw was a very bright light.

This was different from the light and tunnel so many people have described. This was just bright and blazing and hurting his eyes. He closed his eyes tightly for a while, then opened them again. The light was still there.

"Good! You're still with us!" The hospital-room lamp was turned away from him and a nurse's face appeared. "Mister Overholt, are you able to hear me okay?"

"Y-y-yes," he struggled, attempting to use his elbows to lift himself up.

"Don't worry about trying to move too much right now, Mister Overholt. You were in a very bad accident and it's amazing you're alive. You don't even appear to be paralysed."

"Wh-wh-what happened?"

"From what the paramedics have told me, a drunk driver veered into your lane and crashed into two other cars. You turned your truck out of the way but wound up on a part of the bridge that was being repaired. Since you weren't wearing your seatbelt, you were thrown through the windshield and you wound up in the river."

H-H-ow did I get here?"

"Well, the first responders had no idea you were even in the water. They searched for a little while, but had to deal with the other victims who didn't make it, anyway. It was Sergeant Richardson who heard your splash and pulled you out."

Andy turned to see the wounded Iraq veteran to whom he had given the five dollars earlier and who had been living under the bridge.

"God bless you, sir," said the Sergeant.

497 Words

2/6/2012 09:48:42 pm

“Help a brother out?”

The hopeful look on his face was enough to make Fred want to slam the door in his face. “One, if I were to take your words literally, you’re not my brother and second, you’re not a person of color. On the principle that I know what you usually get up to. No.”

Bernard made a face and opened his mouth. “It’s just a saying, and I’m not trying to be politically correct. Its bla-“

Fred held up a finger. “Shut up or I’ll let Rochelle deal with you. You remember Rochelle, don’t you?” She smirked at him. “And she likes when people use the correct words.

He paled a bit and gave a panicked look around. Not that she could blame him. Rochelle was a six foot six dynamo and that was before the three inch heels where on. A gorgeous head of hair and a body to pull of the clothing that she made herself. Svelte and bubbly was words that could be described to use for the woman but she didn’t take any crap from those who held exception to the fact that she was also one of the best drag queens in town. She used some very colorful scarves to hide the Adam’s apple. She was one hell of a Hexer as well.

“She’s not here yet but that’s the term that she prefers to use and I’m going to honor that request. If you value your family jewels, it’s in your interest for you to do it as well.”

Bernard cleared his throat and gained some color back in his face. Last time he insulted Rochelle, he had a rash in a very tender spot and nothing would give any relief. “Please, I don’t know who else will take the job. The local coven said that if I came back, they’d make sure that my children’s children would feel the pain. And I don’t even have any kids yet.”

Fred waved a hand. “What did you do this time?”

He shifted on his feet and glanced around, tugging at the collar of his tee-shirt. “Umm…I might have gotten some pictures. Of an important city official. With someone other than her husband.”

Fred slapped a hand over her face. “Better come in, I think I’m going to need a lot of coffee. Have I told you how stupid you are?”

“Not in the last ten minutes, at least.” He cackled, a nervous response as he skittered into the building like a cockroach and sat on the well-worn chair in front of her desk. “You can help me, right?”

“I’ll see what I can do but I’m not making promises. And it is two fifty, up front.” She wished she could add in something extra to her coffee but she didn’t think that was going to help the situation.

476 words

2/6/2012 10:21:05 pm

“Help a brother out. I gotta get my truck.”

“Sir, you’re going to need to stay still.” She caught his shoulder as he listed dangerously sideways. Thank the Goddess she wore leather gloves. She could always burn them later. Especially with all the alcohol oozing off him.

Aliandra dug a penlight out of her coat pocket and shined it in the drunk man’s eyes.

“Hey, dude, what the fuck?”

“Please hold still.” She tightened her grip when he tried to jerk away. She glanced up at Sheriff Boulderson. “No sign of concussion, but he’s too out of it to tell right away.” She focused on the drunk. “I’m going to check your limbs for damage. Anything hurt?”

“Yeah, man, my ass hurts from sitting on this frickin’ sidewalk. I gotta get my trunk and drive home.”

“You won’t be driving anywhere. Not in my town,” Bruce rumbled.

“Frickin’ pig! I don’t need you to tell me what to do!”

Aliandra chuckled. “Wrong species. What’s your name, sir?”

“I ain’t telling you with the pig around.”

Sheriff Boulderson rolled his eyes and held out the man’s driver’s license. “Anthony Henner.”

“Dude, it’s Tony the Tiger!” Anthony rolled his head toward Aliandra and leered. “Rawr.”

Aliandra ignored him as she ran her hands over his lower limbs. Nothing felt broken.

“Hey, you can feel me up a little higher, sweetheart, I don’ mind.”

She’d been so frustrated with Drake’s determined ignorance of her presence for the last few days, she was tempted to smack him in the crotch. She reminded herself she’d taken the Hippocratic Oath and could not intentionally do harm.

“He’s fine to move. I think you can take him to the cells and have him sober up. We’ll deal with him tomorrow when he’s coherent.”

“Hey, baby, that’s all you’re gonna do? I was just gettin’ warmed up.”

She growled low in her throat, but stood up without kicking Anthony in the balls. “He’s all yours, Sheriff.”

“Come on, Mr. Henner. Let’s get you a nice, concrete cell to sober up in,” Bruce said, jerking the man to his feet and dragging him off to a squad car.

Aliandra hobbled off toward her car, slipping and sliding on her heels, grateful she could go somewhere warm. Hopefully, the car hadn’t cooled off too much while she dealt with the drunk on the pier.

Her foot hit a patch of black ice and slid out from under her. She gasped and fell, bracing for pain.

The scents of rich coffee and pine trees enveloped her at the same moment someone caught her, halting her fall. Heated breath warmed her face and she instinctually grabbed her rescuer.

“I’ve got you, Aliandra.”

Drake’s voice seeped into her awareness, bringing comfort and relief with it. She wanted to snuggle into his arms and never let go.

<i>If only I didn’t have to.</i>

She inhaled slowly to take his delicious scent with her before she pulled back and let him go, forever.

495 words (continuing the scene from #MenageMonday)

Ryan Strohman
2/6/2012 11:14:31 pm

“Help a brother out?”

Tom ignored the filthy vagrant as he passed, thinking only of food. It was past 8 PM, the night sky had turned dark long ago, and he hadn’t eaten anything all day. The smell of food was overwhelming, and as he entered the establishment, he subconsciously licked his lips as he approached the counter.

The staff was quick, and in less than a few minutes he had his grub and was back through the door, pocketing his change as he exited.

“Man, I see you got some change. Please? I need help.”

The man was always there, panhandling, and while normally he wouldn’t bother, getting harassed twice in such a short time was too much. He pivoted, cast a pudgy finger at the man, and yelled, “Get up off your ass and get a job.”

As he began to turn to walk away, he saw the man beginning to stand up. He appeared older by the gray in his hair and the grime-laden wrinkles on his weathered face, but he was spry enough to spring up without much effort.

“Hey, kid, you should watch who you are talking to like that.”

Tom looked back, and the man had begun to follow him. He quickened his pace, heading in the direction of his dorm, where safety awaited.

“Hey, I’m talking to you, kid.”

He’d never been much of a fighter, and he certainly wasn’t tall or athletic. As he kept walking, peering behind him every few steps, he could see the homeless man gaining on him. Realizing he’d never make it back to his building in time, he spun around and put his fists up, readying himself for the confrontation.

The man stopped and scoffed. “You think I want to fight you, kid?” He had a strange look in his eye, like that of a wise sage or a mentor teaching a lesson.

Tom lowered his fists, though only slightly, and asked, “Why are you following me, then?”

“To give you this.” He slapped his small coffee can on the ground, the coins rattling inside. He then turned and walked away.

Tom watched him go, debating on whether to resume his flight back to his dorm or inspect the can. Curiosity got the better of him, though, as he stepped forward, first peering inside from afar and then stooping and picking it up.

Inside were a handful of quarters, dimes, nickels, and a few dollar bills, but also a folded piece of paper. He pulled it out, unfolded it, and began to read:

“We all need a little help from time to time, but it sounds like you need more than I do. Take this and remember the words you said to me. I could tell you that I’m an unemployed, disabled veteran with two purple hearts, but does it really matter what I am? Remember me the next time you need help, brother.”

He looked up, horrified at his actions, but the homeless man was gone.

500 words


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