Three days after the fire, the survivors gathered near the restaurant’s still smoldering ruins. “We rebuild,” Anton argued. He smacked his fist into his palm. In his broken English, he tried to explain. “We do not put it back up, then who wins? Huh?”

The men and women who had worked in and owned this building shifted under his gaze. Joshua gave voice to what the others were thinking. “But Chaz died.”

Anton spit. “That’s more reason, not less.”

Joshua said, “Merrin ought to lead the decision. He was her husband.” Murmurs of agreement met his statement.

Merrin looked at the ground. “You know what they call this place?” She looked straight at Anton.

“Yah.” He didn’t flinch under her gaze. “Hell Cafe.” He spat again. “They are not all.”

“No,” Merrin said. “But there are people who are just as happy to eat our food as see us burn. The commune is a radical departure from their way of life.”

“So . . . what?” Anton held out his hands to her as if in supplication. “The police see a dead man, they maybe listen.”

Merrin said, “I’m torn, but I know what Chaz. . . .” She seemed to struggle with her husband’s name. It rolled out of her mouth with a hiccup. “He would have said,  ‘Dig in’. He’d be pissed if we gave up now.” Tears ran down her cheeks.

“You want to rebuild,then?” Joshua asked.

Merrin nodded. “We have to.”

“Yah!” Anton leaped into the air and pumped one fist. The others gathered around Merrin, and then he came too. They joined hands in a circle around the young widow. Joshua started to sing. “I’m gonna lay down my burdens, down by the riverside.”

One by one, they raised their voices, even noisy off-key Anton. Together, they stood at the site of their own personal war, singing songs of peace and hope.


We’re getting all radical this week at Trifecta.



For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Cameron at http://camerondgarriepy.com gave me this prompt: The Hell Cafe.

I gave SAM at http://frommywriteside.wordpress.comthis prompt: A woman finds three sacred objects


About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Radical — 30 Comments

    • Thanks Tara! I always worry when there are intense ones that I’ve pushed something too far, especially when I’m doing the actual writing waytoofast like tonight.

  1. You made this hopeful and positive with no schmaltz and zero sentimentality. It was REAL.

    I ;love the last two lines. and the dialogue is aces.

    This is just excellent. Great work.
    Hop over and visit Lance’s recent post ChangesMy Profile

    • It was the very first thing that popped into my head. I saw the prompt and immediately, I saw the survivors around the ruins. But I’ve been playing with how to make it work all week, and then today was the day for writing, but life happened instead, so I had to wing it more than I wanted to.

  2. Damn, I read the bit you emailed out and I think I read it 4 times because I couldn’t find “radical” ANYWHERE! I was freaking out 😉

    Great story Jessie. I really like how it flowed and the sense of resilience and determination.
    Hop over and visit Carrie’s recent post Grey SkiesMy Profile

  3. You definitely captured the emotions. I could feel Merrin’s pain while at the same time feeling the sense of community the cafe brought with it despite the condemnation of those who didn’t understand.
    Hop over and visit SAM’s recent post Sugar and SpiceMy Profile

  4. You’re definitely a talented writer. The words flow here, and I agree with whomever said the dialogue is top notch. Great job with the prompt. Thanks for linking up in a hurry.

  5. Pingback: Weekly Roundup: September 7 – September 13 | scriptic.org

  6. Awesome. I read this initially in my inbox where it stopped abruptly. Clicked the link and you finished it! You have a story here. A book. Why are they always being burned down? Who are “they” that’s doing the burning. I love reading your words, even the occasional rant elsewhere 😉
    Hop over and visit Marie’s recent post RadicalMy Profile

  7. Loved this story, the idea that starting up again, not backing down, is the way to go. I’ve seen places come and go from fires, etc., but nearly all chose the same.

    Now, the Sister Rosetta – LOVE HER to death. She of the soul and the guitar and the gutbucket style, like the Holy Spirit threw a tornado in the room. Great choice of clip! Peace, Amy
    Hop over and visit Sharp Little Pencil’s recent post Black Sheep (a tale of three sisters)My Profile