If Wishes Were Horses, Jailbirds Would Fly

Acknowledgements: As Loki Renard pointed out, Callie has been waiting with bleeding knuckles (see Make a Wish) for over a year now. I appreciate her patience, and her participation in the dance this series turned into. 🙂
Thanks to Tenth Muse Top, the best beta in the world. (Okay, she’s also one of the best writers and tops in the world, and certainly the best…*cough*…er, nevermind. *g*) Point is, that’s only one of TMT’s titles, but her suggestions made even a tiny story like this much better.

If Wishes Were Horses, Jailbirds Would Fly

by Alyx

Callie closed her eyes and held her bowed head between two trembling hands. Think. She had to think calmly and clearly. The fish had just dumped a pile of turds in her lap, thinking it was treasure. But okay, what was done, was done. Now she had a choice to make.

She lifted her head and gazed around at the cemetery surrounding her. It was so peaceful here. Birds were chirping, the sun was hot against her skin, puffy white clouds were sailing by in a blue sky as if nothing momentous had just occurred, as if Callie’s world hadn’t just tilted a bit on its axis.

She had finally said her goodbyes to Josie, had finally gained a sense of peace in that deep pocket of her heart where she never thought peace would reign. And now, with one outrageous stunt, Loki had ripped her peace away, before she even had a chance to enjoy it. She glanced over at the fish, who was pretending to read tombstones while she waited for Callie to say something. She was striding around casually in her trench coat and fedora like an extra in a bad film, but the way she was chewing on a fingernail betrayed her inner tension.

Callie leaned back against the tree, letting the feel of rough bark through her thin blouse be a grounding sensation, something real in the midst of this crazy day. She tugged at the grass with her fingertips as she weighed the idea of life as a free woman again. It was almost inconceivable. What she could conceive, was living in constant fear. Always looking over her shoulder, never able to trust anyone or settle down in one place for long. Always waiting for the net to drop down over her head and drag her back to Yountsville Women’s Minimum Security Correctional Facility. Was that the life Josie would’ve wanted for her?

Then there was living the rest of her days in the Bucket. The routine, the constant noise, the lousy food, the petty fights. Everyone around her looked years older than they actually were, and she wasn’t vain enough to think she was any different. She’d spend her days surrounded by criminals and punks – some of whom were the guards themselves – and sad, desperate women. Was that what Josie would’ve wanted for her? Was that what she wanted for herself?

But there were also some nice women, like Velda, her inner voice reminded her. And they had movie nights, they had dances. They were even talking about teaching them some real skills one day, like secretarial work. Which brought up another problem – how in blazes was she going to make a living out in the real world? She hadn’t had to earn a paycheck in years!

Hell, she wasn’t young anymore, like Loki. It was fine for the fish – she had a skill. A skill that was going to end her up back in prison, but that wasn’t any of Callie’s business anymore. She nodded to herself as she made her decision. Loki was a free bird, but Callie was a caged one, and that’s the way it was meant to be.

“I’m going back, fish.”

Loki whirled around, her eyes full of disbelief. “NO! You can’t be serious!”

Callie stood up slowly and dusted herself off. Loki braced herself for the charge that might follow, but Callie was calm. She looked directly into Loki’s eyes and spoke slowly. “I’m perfectly serious, you little idiot. Did you think someone like me can just change her stripes overnight? I’m too old to learn a trade, too rough to fit in with polite society….I’m certainly too slow to compete with youngsters like you out here. The bottom line is…I wouldn’t be happy.”

Loki’s expression grew sullen as she took in Callie’s words. The near-pout on her face reminded Callie of the first time she’d met the youngster, and Callie’s tone gentled.

“I know you were trying to help me…thanks for that, okay? Your head is up your ass, as usual, but your heart was in the right place. I’m just not the Robin Hoodlum you thought I was, and I’m not the type to go sprinting off across the country with you. I’m sorry about that, I really am. But thank you for trying, and….we’re even, okay? Our debts are square, and I wish you the best.”

Callie put out her hand to shake, the knuckles still bleeding slightly. Loki took it slowly, squeezing so hard it made Callie wince.

“Okay,” she said somberly. “If that’s what you want. Let me make a few calls, and someone will come pick you up again. I—” she broke off suddenly and stared. “Hm…that wasn’t supposed to happen.”

Callie looked over to where Loki was gazing, and her blood froze. There, cruising slowly through the cemetery, was a marked police car. The red lights weren’t flashing, but the uniformed officer inside was clearly searching for something as he drove.

“Oh shit.” Callie’s reaction was instinctive. She ducked and ran to hide behind the largest tombstone she could find. She didn’t even drag the fish along…Loki was on her own. As she crouched down against the grass she could feel the blood pounding in her ears. Sweat broke out everywhere, and even under the hot sun the breeze blowing cooled her perspiration into icy patches on her body.

Seconds ticked by, and when she didn’t hear any shout or siren, she lifted her head to look around cautiously. Where the hell was the fish? And then Callie saw her. She was striding down casually toward the parked police car. The saliva dried in Callie’s mouth. What the fuck was that idiot doing?! She was going to get them arrested and dragged back to the Bucket! Even worse, she was going to get them SHOT, because Callie sure as hell wasn’t waiting around to see what would happen when the cop recognized her. She lifted into a crouch, prepared to make a run for it.

Then she noticed Loki pointing as she chatted with the cop. Pointing in the other direction. Was she actually managing to throw him off the scent? She watched with a dizzying sense of relief as Loki laughed and waved, and the cop drove slowly on. She was going to kill the brat…she was absolutely going to kill her.

Loki was heading back in her direction, looking around in puzzlement. When Callie was certain the police car was far enough away, she stood up again.

“Oh, there you are!” Loki flashed a triumphant grin. She was high on the adrenaline coursing through her body after chatting with the cop. A part of Callie wanted to smack the cocky look off her face, but the greater part of her still felt weak-kneed and shaky.

“You threw him off the trail?”

Loki shook her head. “He wasn’t even looking for us! He was looking for his grandmother’s grave, but he was in the wrong section. I told him to try over there.” She jerked a thumb over her shoulder. “Nice how we taxpayers are funding his visits to granny!” she snorted.

Callie swore softly. She was definitely getting too old for this. Still, the encounter with the cop had shown her something very important. When she had thought she might go back to jail, her first reaction had been utter rejection of the idea. She might be old, and she might be making a big mistake to throw her lot in with a hothead like Loki. But deep down inside, she wanted to be free. She took a deep breath.

“Okay….I’m in.”

Loki stared, unsure if she had heard right. “You serious? You changed your mind?”

“Yeah, damn it. I’ll probably regret this later, but what the hell. Life’s too short.”

The grin on the brat’s face was the biggest Callie had ever seen. “Awesome! I’ll take good care of us, you’ll see.”

“Just one thing, though,” Callie growled warningly.


Callie leaned down and picked up the packet of documents that had fallen on the ground earlier. She smacked it against Loki’s midsection and held out her hand for Loki’s ID instead. “I’M Charlize Brown, and YOU’RE Millicent Lemon, got it?”

barbed wire divider

The End

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57 Responses to If Wishes Were Horses, Jailbirds Would Fly

  1. disneydykeke says:

    This is a very funny chapter. I loved it. But… The end? It’s a good end though. Maybe a sequel then. 🙂

  2. Mil says:

    The end is brilliant! I can just imagine Loki reading that 😀
    I like this series a lot.. you can really sense the fun between you and Loki.
    This – “Callie leaned back against the tree, letting the feel of rough bark through her thin blouse be a grounding sensation, something real in the midst of this crazy day” – gave me shivers.

    • Alyx says:

      Aw, thanks, Mil. Yes, it’s a bit like a tennis match between us. Or maybe more like Hot Potato. *g*

      Glad you liked that sentence…it was something I added after TMT told me I should be more “sensory.” 🙂 We all need an editor!

  3. Loki Renard says:

    Wow! For a short story that sure was a twisty tale, I loved Callie’s struggle with the proposition of freedom vs incarceration and I’m glad she won’t be living out her days lifting weights to work off chocolate pudding.

    There were so many brilliant little moments in this story but what shone for me was how human and vulnerable Callie really was in the face of such chaotic events – and how brave she is too.

    Lovely storytelling as always, and very glad to see you back on the old writing bicycle. 🙂

    – Ermigarde Snoot

    • Alyx says:

      *LOL* “Ermigarde,” eh? You know, your ability with a witty phrase is nearly surpassed by your ability to come up with godawful names!

      Thank you, Loki. The last chapter you wrote was just brilliant, so I’m glad you liked my little tag-on. You threw me as big a challenge as Loki/Ermie threw Callie, so it’ll be interesting to see what becomes of them. 🙂

    • Theresa McCarthy says:

      have to say Loki, this series is what got me into your books. I now have nearly all of them.

  4. Fizzy says:

    Definitely worth the wait. 🙂

  5. Yea , fizzy is right . It was worth the wait.

  6. kiaigrrl says:

    Love it! I could actually feel Callie’s struggle with emotions and fighting with herself. What a great story to wake up to! Thank you! As always, your writing put a smile on my face 🙂

  7. Peach says:

    Wonderful Alyx. Loved it! Thank you for the treat.
    Yay for the ending. What the heck, life’s too short indeed. Let’s wing it babe lol
    It also means the dance HAS to go on right? 🙂 I mean you and Loki can’t just leave these two in the cemetary for another year. 😉

    • Alyx says:

      I’m glad you liked it, SP. 🙂 And I think it’s safe to say there will be more for these two. But who knows when it will come? Definitely after chapter 2 of YOUR tale. 😉

  8. Pixie says:

    Simply, Thank you!

  9. sparrow says:

    Loki’s curve ball seemed to hang in the air for months.

    Finally, Alyx swings and the ball lobs toward center field. The center fielder’s glove fails to shield the sun and the ball is bobbled and retrieved but not before Alyx is already approaching third base. The ball is fired toward third base. Too late! Alyx has cleared third and is heading for home! The third baseman drops the ball, picks it up, then fires the ball to home as Alyx slides in on her belly, shirt pushing up, dirt filling her bra, shorts splitting, and outstretched fingers touching homeplate. The umpire yells, “Safe!” and the crowd roars! Alyx stands and grins as she shakes the dirt from under her bra.

    The score is tied and the sides change.

    Loki approaches home plate. She stands a moment with hands on her hips, cap in hand and eyes on the ground. Then she dons her cap and spits on her hands,wipes them on her tight buns. She picks up some dirt and rubs it between her palms. She selects a bat. A pregnant silence envelops the field. The umpire yells, “Batter up!”

    I’m going to get a hot dog, a bag of peanuts, a cold root beer and hope the game continues before it snows.

    • disneydyke says:

      “… as she shakes the dirt under her brat”.

      Oh you cool wordy birdie you! I don’t really understand baseball but it seems quite fun. You americans have some interesting sports.

      May I have some peanuts?

    • Alyx says:

      My goodness, Sparrow. Your literary talents are impressive indeed. Might they be better served in a new story from you? I’m sure many people would love that! 😉

      (*LOL* Dirt in my BRA?? How do you know it’s not filled to overflowing as it is! *g* And if I was sliding in that way, wouldn’t my shirt drag down rather than push up? Enjoy your root beer and hot dog. 😀 )

      • sparrow says:

        I imagined your blouse rising up as you threw your arms up, reaching to touch the base, and the overflowing of magnificent mammary pulchritude creating an inviting v-shaped funnel into which the dust curled, traveling along the soft curves of the lovely orbs straining against the lacy fabric barely able to contain them.

        I was just so carried away with the happiness of another chapter in the Bucket series, and so distracted by the images that your leap for home plate had formed in my mind’s eye, I lost my ability to adequately describe my salacious imaginary vision. 😉

        • Alyx says:

          *ROTFL* Okay, that was an enjoyable mental picture, even though it’s nowhere near accurate. *bg* But thank you for that day brightener, Sparrow. 😀

  10. Basketball Girl says:

    Yay! Nice way to jump back on that horse! Glad Callie got to change her name. Maybe Loki can create another identity with a different name, if they make it out of the cemetery. Millicent Lemon may be the oddest name I’ve heard and I’ve seen some interesting names (Orange Juice, Chlamydia, and my all time favorite: Shit).
    Did you leave them still hanging out in the cemetery?

    • pao says:

      For real, ‘Shit’? I know an Apple..a Xenthony..a Wiiky and met someone named Seven *LOL*. I feel like I’m in a video game.

      • Alyx says:

        Wow. Was Seven’s middle name “of Nine,” Pao? 😀

        • pao says:

          *LOL*. Maybe? He was in a Japanese restaurant so maybe he changes his name everytime he nicks a thick slice of tuna belly sashimi from under his boss’ nose. And when he gets caught he returns to Zero or Nil.

          • Alyx says:

            Hmm…I think if he’s nicking the toro (“ahi” to us in Hawaii) and his boss catches him, his name is more likely to be one of those Basketball Girl mentioned! 😀

    • Alyx says:

      Basketball Girl, those names are FAR odder than Millicent Lemon! Who would name their child such a thing! They ought to be caned! *shaking head*

      Thank you for your good wishes. And yes, they are still in the cemetery. A good place, I think. 🙂

  11. I love the classic American-ness of The Bucket series… That authentic, dusty, growly Steinbeck-y feel of it, which is amazing to me since it is written by a Hawaiian* and a New Zealander! You have each landed us right in the middle of the grit, the struggle, the unblinking harshness of the prisoners’ lives, but then added your individual humour and softness, to catch the breath and make the reader care what happens to these characters. (The kink is just icing on the cake. *vbg*)

    Loki threw you, not just a plot twist that Chubby Checker** would be happy to groove to, but a beautifully turned story of craft and quality that was mouth wateringly good and you have responded brilliantly.

    To go back to the Steinbeck comparison for a moment: there is a line in ‘Of Mice and Men’ which goes, “As happens sometimes, a moment settled and hovered and remained for much more than a moment. And sound stopped and movement stopped for much, much more than a moment.” – I love how you gave Callie that moment, breathing in the silence, experiencing for the first time in years, a world without walls, but with fear crowding in on her too. Nicely done!

    Thank you for the credit for beta-ing, but really, it’s a pleasure and not exactly *work*, Sweet One… Besides you hold your own titles, which would use up all the asterisks that I’m allowed, lest the words themselves got me into trouble! *g*

    🙂 ~ TMT

    * I know, I know, Hawaii is in America, and Hawaiians are American, but you know what I mean? Aloha is as far from Yountsville Women’s Minimum Security Correctional Facility as Aotearoa!

    ** No really, I am not kidding – Here’s a vid of the two of you illustrating the finer points of batting individual episodes back and forth, while keeping smoothly in step with each other –

    • Alyx says:

      Wow. I am humbled by that comparison, TMT. Thank you for those lovely words, and that hilarious vid as well! Those two really know how to move, but that family that looked like stuffed mannequins really made me laugh!

      And yus, we Hawaii residents are special Americans. 😀 *smooch*

    • Loki Renard says:

      Aw TMT, what nice things you have said, thank you very much! I also love the video. I call dibs on the suit, Alyx can wear the pumps and skirt. 😀

      (I haven’t read any Steinbeck, but I believe he had an epic mustache, which is high enough praise for me.)

      • Well, if the ‘tache fits, Loki (and it does) then twirl away, Grrrl! (There may be a bun fight with Alyx about the suit, but I think you could buy her off with just the shoes. )

        Seriously – I really love the Bucket series and am just blow away by how you two manage to keep your creative synergy so effectively coherent – for the reader it is seamless – and maintain such a high standard of writing and characterisation.

        Looking forward to the next bit… no pressure then. *vbg*

  12. bystander says:

    loved it, thankyou 🙂

  13. sandy1984 says:

    An excellent ending to an outstanding series Alyx, thank you for taking the time to write it (and TMT for editing).
    Have a feeling that Callie and Loki will do fine on the outside…they’ll take good care of each other!
    Maybe you could try and coax the real Loki out of retirement long enough to do a sequel…that would be impressive!
    Take care Alyx.

    • Alyx says:

      Thanks for the compliments, Sandy. I think you’re right about Callie and Loki too. 🙂

      Now as to Loki the author, she’s far from retired! You know she’s regularly updating her Lesbia series, right?

  14. pippin says:

    Oh my, I’ve been so behind in my reading. … This was a fun read, Alyx! Thank you. I loved that last line with Millicent Lemon. *LOL* (I initially read ‘Millicent Melon’. *ahem* )

  15. EP says:

    I have read all of your work here and as much as I have fallen for the Nicky & Cassie series…..this one stands out in my mind. Possibly due to the fact that I have never come across such a story line as this one anywhere else. I love the evolution of Callie & Loki’s relationship….from strangers to cellmates to top & brat (for protections sake) to that of a reluctant friendship in the end. I am indeed curious to find out where the pair go from the cemetery….and how they make in the world on the outside. Thank you for the many hours worth of entertainment! I cannot recall the number of times I laughed so hard I had tears down my face or the gasp of “Oh my god, she just did NOT do that!” or simply shaking my head at Loki’s antics.

    • Alyx says:

      Loki is quite a character, isn’t she? As is the real Loki. 😀 But she’s also a talented author and this series we wrote together is one of my proudest accomplishments. I have my own ideas of what happens to them outside of the cemetery, and one day we will all find out for sure. 🙂 Thank you for your comment, EP.

  16. Melissa says:

    Love this series! Is this it for the series, or is there more coming?

    • Alyx says:

      Welcome, Melissa! Thanks for you comment, and I’m glad you like the series. There will definitely be more to come, as we do still need to find out what happens to our two intrepid heroines, do we not? The mystery is, who will write it? 🙂

  17. Mimi says:

    Delightful ending! Loved the series 🙂

  18. cj says:

    Wow Alyx and Loki what a great writing partnership! An excellent game of hot potato, yet you both stayed true to all of the characters. I guess sometimes coming late to the party gives you an advantage of getting to read such wonderful works together instead of waiting. 😏

    Thank you both for sharing your unique and superb talents. I feel very lucky to have found such a wonderful collection of stories.

    • Alyx says:

      Hey CJ, thank you for those kind words! I agree it was an amazing collaborative effort, all the more so because we each wrote our pieces separately, without planning or discussion. There actually wasn’t that much waiting for original readers either…surprising especially for me, who writes at a glacial pace. 😀 But yes, you’re lucky you’re coming across it now, when there’s no waiting at all.

  19. wookie says:

    Hi Alyx. I am new to this site and I’ve just finished reading this series from yourself and Loki. I just wanted to say it was amazing to both of you. It’s incredible how you both kept the story flowing brilliantly. Thank you both so much for a fantastic read. You are truly talented. I am currently looking at all the other stories and sites you have listed here and I am so happy to have found your site. Thanks once again.

    • Alyx says:

      Hi Wookie, welcome and thank you for the nice comments! 🙂 I have to agree that the chemistry and flow when writing that went really well, and contributed to an amazing series. I’m glad you enjoyed it and I hope you will like the other stories and blogs as well. Feel free to visit us in the Global Village and meet some of the characters. 😀

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