Nighthawks: A Writing Project

I first saw the painting Nighthawks when I was a kid. It was a featured poster in the new shop in the mall, where you could purchase an image of Spuds McKenzie driving a Porsche, or Monet’s ‘Waterlilies’ framed in black plastic while you wandered down to Orange Julius for a smoothie.

I fell in love with Nighthawks immediately, and later, with Edward Hopper in general. Hopper’s use of light and architecture speaks to me in every painting and sketch he’s ever done. Nighthawks, with it’s counter full of strangers, sipping coffee, caught for a moment in a light that was both indicative of the Retro Era, and also ancient and timeless, became a touchstone for me. Who were these people? Why were they sitting in this diner, in the dark, dressed to the nines?

12986947_1113554338712282_4936778188313512086_nIn my writing series Nighthawks, I imagine the stories of people as we see them, and as they see themselves, in one brief glance through a window. These character sketches are vignettes, post cards, poems, and the creation of people.

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Hurricane Season

The wind cried “Mary.” It cried “Joseph” and wailed “Samuel” and “Sloan.” It whimpered about a King and bemoaned the one true lost love that was a pirate, or maybe a privateer, the wind couldn’t remember and probably never knew the difference, but the wind had loved him, more than anyone.

The land rolled its metaphoric eyes, and thought the wind might be a bit of a drama queen, especially when the wind had been hanging out in the Islands. It was always this way, with the wind, this time of year. A spinning cyclone of howling regrets and a flood of memories and she’d be gone again, leaving the locals to clean up the mess.

I got ROYALTIES!? Go me!

Know what’s amazing? Getting a text from Amazon Kindle that I’ve just had ROYALTIES deposited in my account. ROYALTIES. Ok, it was two bucks. But thanks from the bottom of my heart to whomever just bought me coffee!

I wrote ‘The Temp Job’ late on evening, when all the humans I lived with had gone to bed, but my internet friends, they were still awake. I was looking for some inspiration and asked on my Facebook page for story prompts.

Mita, my darling friend from California whom I met for the first time at deserted train station in the Mojave after she gave me a plane ticket to fly to Vegas, suggested I write about the beach.

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The Beach where Ben and I grew up (JohnSalemme)

Ben, who grew up in the same beach resort town I did, suggested I write about the band ‘Monster Magnet. I know exactly one Monster Magnet Song: Space Lord,  which is the tale of an interplanetary despot who for some reason has a show in Vegas.

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Click here for the Video. Mom, turn your speakers down.

I mashed those two concepts together in my brain and came up with the story of Diana, who is covering the duties of a sister witch on maternity leave. It was late. I was tired. I finished the piece in a couple hours, published it to amuse my friends, and went to bed. Years later, I needed something quick, and above all, done, to test out my new kindle publishing account. I pulled out The Temp Job, dusted it off, and slapped it up on Amazon, to the delight of my family and six other people. Thanks to everyone who has read it, and I’ll post something .. else… soon, I promise!

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Temp Job by Hillary Peatfield

Hummingbird in a Crow’s Nest

He was the sort of person who collected the feathers of hummingbirds each night when he filled the feeders with sweet syrup.. They didn’t seem to mind him, buzzing around his head in the dusk, ignoring the long tweezers that plucked daintily only the loosest down, ready to shed anyway, no harm done, and thank you. He liked to think it was his aura that instilled the trust of these wild, quicksilver birds, but when asked he’d admit the winged beasts were most likely drawn frenzied to the syrup, not him, as he’d perfected the color to a true, hibiscus red.
By the end of each summer, the antique salt cellar on the window sill was full of fluff, tiny things that could have built another bird, one that would fly off to warmer places with it’s companions. Feathers so small they could hardly be seen one at a time, but that had propelled their wearer thousands of miles, at a dozen beats of the wing each second.
When the first frost came, he took the salt cellar full of treasure to the garden, and shook it. A thousand tiny feathers flew in to the wind. Three or four would stick, though, each year. Those he brought back inside.
Just after Halloween he’d start the season’s boat. Rigging would be unspooled, and tied with the same tweezers, under a magnifier, in to perfect knots. Sails would be hung, and laquer would be applied in careful layers, evermindful of the beauty of the wood grain.
In the spring, the boat would sail on the pond. And because he liked a joke as much as anyone, each year there would be a crows nest, no matter if the ship, historic in all other respects, would have had one or not. A proper crows nest, properly scaled and woven and sized.. and lined with just a few, soft, tiny feathers.