Friday, July 25, 2014

2 minutes. Go!

Hey, writer-type folks. Every Friday we do a fun free-write. 

You can write whatever you want in the comments section on this blog post. You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play. 

I'm not interested. I'm not satisfied. You stand your statue stand, I'll go someplace where pigeons won't shit on me. I'll watch the puffs of pollen explode with each lick of wind. I'll double check the box with every letter I send. Sure, I've never lost one - but it ain't about making sense, it's about sleep. It's about those moments where I am tugged from it - yanked back like a near-drowned, rip tide surfer. Back into the waking world, shaking in the dark.

I don't fear the big things. Cancer. Death. Poverty. I fear the small assassins who live in public restrooms. I fear the things I said 20 years ago and I await my comeuppance. Tuppence. Feed the birds. There is nothing in this great wide world impresses me as much as a bird. They seem free. Maybe I'm wrong and there's some great bird hypocrisy, flighty autocracy ... but I doubt it. 

Thanks for stopping by! See you next Friday. 

92 comments:

  1. "This is all so very decent and civilised, isn't it?"

    Angela nodded, taking in the splendour of the gardens, enjoying the Englishness of it all; the hard angular reassurance of the wooden chairs offsetting the soft susurration of the lawn sprinkler and the constant soughing off the trees' leaves, the temperate mildness of the weather; sufficient that you could never imagine yourself to be anywhere other than in the island nation and the contradictory melange of urban and rural; as the call and response of pigeons merged with the basso rumble of heavy transport struggling with the hills in the distance. She could so easily imagine that this could have been the life that she was destined to live; a closeted existence far from the reality that they'd fought to forget for a few precious hours; a world where money and duty gripped them tightly, refusing to be ignored.

    "It's almost like were born out of our time and place and that we've been pulled out of our proper lives. I can imagine that somewhere there's another couple, just like us, enjoying this instead of us."

    "Good for them, I guess. But not so good for us, eh?"

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    1. Ugh. Just spotted the typos! ;)

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    2. Okay, now that my mind is blown I'll have to regroup awhile. I'm probably going to be working my head around this one for sometime, Mark. Thanks for the mental exercise, my brain has been getting a bit flabby for too long ;)

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    3. Gosh. Thanks, Ed. I take that as high praise from you!

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    4. This is brilliant. And typos are encouraged on Friday. ;) I love this piece. Even though I was young, this took me RIGHT back to the UK. Such a perfect description.

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    5. The Englishness - perfect descriptions. Love susurration :)

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  2. Sausage sizzled fat and sticky in the pan. Pin dots of grease spotted my forearms in bullets of heat. I didn’t remember the last time I’d made sausage, or why something told me to buy it the last time I shopped. I didn’t even like it. But it was the only thing I remembered that he liked, and the sad gray wither of his face as he threw himself down into a kitchen chair had me pulling out old actions, old reactions. Finally I slid the plate in front of him. He glanced at me like I was someone he knew once, someone he could no longer categorize. Then he moved his gaze, narrowed from the early morning glare, out the window. As if she would be out in the parking lot, the answer to his two thousand mile trek across the country. She wasn’t there. All I could do was fry sausage, and mouth the right words, and wipe the grease from my arms.

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    1. Wow. This is so good, and my heart hurts. Bravo, lady.

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    2. Frying sausage sleeveless is a modern civilized form scarification ceremony. Eating it a socially acceptable form of suicide for guys who want to be manly to the bitter end (when we cry like babies and beg for angioplasty.) You describe the rituals beautifully.

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    3. Wow. I feel like there's so much more to these characters that I'd like to learn. That you convey that kind of depth in one short paragraph is brilliant.

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  3. The flesh rips from his cheek, mangled pink muscle sticking to bone like hot bubble gum on asphalt. They circle overhead, damn them, the bastards. Leave me be, let me eat in peace.

    I poke at the eyeball, slurp the ooze that spews forth, nibble away at the orb, once blue, now grey, soon gone down my gullet. Delicate, delicious, it gives itself to me and I swallow it with glee.

    A flurry of black feathers and cawing beaks surround me, wings slap at my head and talons claw at my back. I retaliate, cover my treasure, scream as loud as my aging voice will let me. They do not waver. They come harder.

    I do as I always do. I back away, spread my wings and lift off, but get only half as high as in my youth. More sore than soar. And below, the young ones devour my dinner.

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    1. That's my ode to David's Crow Highway. Though I have no idea where it came from or why. Now I'm not hungry...

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    2. Me neither. Laurie had just raised my appetite as well...

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    3. This is an awesome tribute, but it's just plain brilliant as well. Outstanding imagery. Love it.

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    4. I love the imagery, the way it strikes the eye on its way to the heart.

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    5. "More sore than soar" -- love the wordplay.

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    6. We never know where the crow is from. ;)

      Very nice, by the way. In the spirit of the crow, for sure.

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  4. “Could you please move that thing up a little? That sucker’s starting to dig in.”

    The swarthy kidnapper jabbed the gun barrel in a little harder, giving it a further twist to increase the pain. This abduction was not going how he’d hoped it would go, the target refusing to respond as he’d hoped. Maybe it was time he upped the game a little.

    He nodded to his colleague. “Maybe you’ll change your mind if we use the gun on your daughter? Not like this, of course. No. Perhaps we should shoot a finger off first. See how you respond to that.”

    Candace’s sudden quick breath told him he had gauged her correctly. He was going to have some fun after all.

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    1. This is an evocative piece. Tense. This seems like the start of something bigger to me... Great stuff, Mark.

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    2. Way to take the gloves off!

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  5. My job that summer was to take care of the pool. I didn’t mind so much. In the evenings, I longed for an excuse to escape the silent, guilty dinners and check the chlorine level of the water. Put in the right kind of chemicals, even though the sharp tang and scratch of the diatomaceous earth made me cough. But the frogs. Frogs thought the inground was some sort of weird pond, I guess, and they hopped in to their deaths. In their rigor mortis, they looked like amphibian supermen, caught in the act of a leap over a tall building. Poor Super Froggy never made it to save his distressed damsel, though. As I scooped each one out, I said my own kind of prayer and set it in the woods as a warning to his friends.

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    1. I LOVE this piece. The voice is so good. I hear a longer story calling... :)

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    2. This has the ring of misspent youth truth, one of those coming of age things that few have lived through and even less speak of. Once again, you deliver the goods.

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    3. Voice, nailed. Good stuff, ma'am.

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    4. I even felt that chemical tang. Love it, Laurie.

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  6. The soft tolling of the bell rang out across the church yard, the congregation all white-faced and dressed in black.

    “We are gathered here in the sight of the Lord,” the minister began, his voice dry and passionless. “To commit to your presence the soul of this dear man. A father, brother, friend and colleague of many but also a man of God. A man taken before his time. A man who will be sorely missed. A man who..

    “Is a liar and a cheat!”

    The crowd parted to admit the widow, her mascara smeared and her hair wild and disheveled. This wasn’t going to be a funeral anyone forgot.

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    1. The bell tolls ... This is another great piece, Mark. Reminds me of something I wrote a long time ago. Based on an experience very much like this one. I'm hoping at my funeral they say nice things and someone jumps up and yells, "He was an ASSHOLE." ;)

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    2. I'd just be happy if the mourners outnumber the coffin bearers...

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    3. I love it! I don't know what anyone would say at my funeral, but this is why people die. So they don't have to hear it. ;)

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    4. I've picked my funeral music already. Wild Cherry: Play that Funky Music.

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    5. I'm dying to know what happens next! Er, wait -- not *literally* dying...

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    6. So many of these could so easily become something more, couldn't they?

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    7. Yup. That's why I love this kind of stuff and pushed it so hard when I taught. Because you gotta sharpen the blade. And, bonus, sometimes your blade spits out astounding things if you keep it honed. ;)

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  7. EYEWITNESS

    It was a story not worth the telling. It got a slew of good men killed, men who asked too many questions when it would’ve served them better to save their words for a rainy day instead of leaving last words up to preachers to recite on dark rainy graveyard mornings.

    He’d witnessed a murder. Why couldn’t he mimic the victim by keeping silent? Why did he embroil himself in the lives of those who swore vengeance? Lots of whys don’t add up to change a pot of stew. And the stew day by day grew thicker until the killer, boiling in his own anger, weary of multiple murders to hush the unhushable, put an end to the storyteller. Into that stew pot he tossed a raw side of justice.

    End of story.

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    1. Wow. This is awesome. Sal, you can turn a phrase like a magician. So glad you came by, brother.

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    2. A carefully and skillfully cooked metaphor, served at the perfect temperature and with just the right seasoning. Compliments to the chef.

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    3. Yeah, multi-levelled and poetic. The echo of slew in stew, for instance.

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    4. The more I read this, the more I think of characters stepping out of stories, into real life, and murdering us all. I love that kind of scare. Great job, Sal!

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  8. Whittling is an art form. Lots of folks don't know that. I had me a split back whittler. Real nice one. And old Case I'd picked up for a few bucks from someone with less teeth than sense - which is saying a lot.

    Three blades, and they all have their purpose. I keep them sharp as razors and they know their jobs. The big wharncliffe for the long cuts, chunks. The pen blade for fine detail. The clip blade - no one except me knows what the clip blade is for. Let's just say it's important.

    Outside, the evening was coming alive with cricket song and fireflies. I couldn't see it, but I knew. Even down in the basement, the world outside never changes. I sure wish it did.

    I cleaned the knife and oiled the blades. Slipped it back into the pocket of my dungarees. Removing the heart is an art form. It had taken me the better part of two hours. I stacked it on the pile of organs, straightened the skins on the line so they'd cure properly.

    I chuckled to myself and scratched my beard, thinking how well that whittler had served me. A damn sight better than the woman who was disassembled on my workbench.

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    1. This is my kind of story, but then you knew that. You know I would never underestimate you're ability to disassemble a story or a victim if either is in need of an autopsy.

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    2. Nice little twist there at the end. I'm all creeped out now.

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    3. I love this, Dan. This is the kind of writing you're SO good at!

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    4. You should write more horror, brother. This is excellent.

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    5. Ooh nice! I like the way the horror unfolds so quietly, you don't see it coming. Brilliant. And I'm especially jazzed that you used "dungarees" instead of "jeans."

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    6. Oh, creepy... "someone with less teeth than sense."

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  9. "Share a Diet Coke with Amber," the soda bottle suggested.

    Marcy frowned and put it back. Then, almost tentatively, she reached for the bottle again and weighed it in her hand.

    "Share a Diet Coke with Amber."

    She and Amber had been best pals. They rented adjoining apartments in the same old house. They shared eggs and milk, and secrets, and pans of brownies when a relationship went sour.

    Then Amber took up running -- to lose weight, she said, although her weight was already perfect. She ran a lot. She ate almost nothing. She started getting scary thin.

    Marcy suggested maybe she should ease up on the running. Amber shut her out. Confused and feeling helpless, Marcy could only watch as her friend got thinner and thinner.

    Then one day, Amber's parents came to get her and move her back home. They strong-armed Marcy, saying that Amber needed to get well, and to do that, she needed to stay away from all of her old friends.

    "Even the ones who tried to help her?" Marcy asked, but got no answer.

    "Share a Diet Coke with Amber."

    Marcy took it to the register. Maybe Amber had found one that had Marcy's name on it. Maybe Amber had made it out alive.

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    1. I LOVE this piece, but it is epically sad. I have been the friend trying to help, and it was heartbreaking. Awesome depiction!

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    2. LOVE it. Sad and lovely and poignant.

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  10. The plugs went into his ears and the headphones went on.

    “Can you hear me in there,” the technician asked.

    The guy nodded, biting his lower lip nervously.

    And then the serious business started, the collar and clamps engaging into place, the dull clunks and bright clangs of the clips snapping shut sounding like nothing he’d ever heard. He felt the pressure of them across his shoulders and against his head and knew he was in it now for better or for worse. The soft swell of the the bulb in his palm took on added significance and he swore he was man enough to take this.

    “We’re going to start now,” the voice came, sounding remote and underwaterish. He looked up through the face mask, seeing her there in the control room, her thumb raised. The periscope optic gave him a limited view and he took a quick breath. Steeling himself.

    The first tones began, like a guitar riff, sounding like the first blows of Page’s pick in ‘Communication Breakdown”. Only continuing on and on, his head ringing with the noise. As though he was entombed inside an amplifier, the anodes of the tubes directly in series with his brain. Ringing out. Getting louder. And never stopping.

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    1. Wow, this is amazing, too! In fact, I think this is a pretty incredible piece and you have inspired me to do another, brother.

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    2. They say you should use everything. And this was a huge thing and couldn't be ignored.

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    3. They're right. Use everything. And invent more.

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    4. I do that too. Like the three time's I got time off work for my parents' funerals...

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  11. A Writer's Lament

    My muse has gone missing!
    She just up and left.
    Abandoned, alone...
    I'm confused and bereft.

    I've searched high and low,
    But she's nowhere to be found.
    Dagnabit! Why did my muse
    Have to hide underground?

    The situation is serious—
    I'm utterly verklempt!
    My house is a mess;
    Even my hair is unkempt.

    If she doesn't return soon,
    I'll be at a loss.
    For in most facets of life,
    My muse is the boss.

    Oh! She's just turned up,
    Yawning and tired.
    Though bleary and rusty,
    A wee poem she's inspired.

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    1. This is awesome, Maggie. Reminds me very much of Shel Silverstein. Which some might take as an affront. Bear in mind, Shel is one of my favorite writers of poetry, songs, and brilliance.

      More please! :)

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    2. Thanks, good sir! Shel Silverstein is one of my favorites too. :)

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  12. The knife was always kept between the mattress and the wood, a sickly yellowed pine that still oozed sap. She could see it there, the blade chewed ragged like a saw. She did not want it sharp. It did not serve her purposes.

    "I'm not going to tell you again, you lazy little shit!"

    She did not move. The big shit was too lazy to climb the stairs, and he'd give up soon. Or pass out. Maybe they were the same thing.

    Her fingers were thin and nearly transparent, she hid from the sun. The other kids called her a vampire, and she didn't know whether to cry or smirk. She wished Twilight had never been written. She wished she never had to go outside.

    There was a loud thump downstairs. She recognized it. It was the sound of a bottle hitting the hard, wooden floors. She stood slowly, looking out her small window into the woods behind her house. She locked her door, and the anticipation made her quiver. They were alone now. Finally. She could already smell the blood, feel the cold curtain fall ... one more performance. Unless someone yelled 'encore'. Or 'little shit' for that matter.

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    1. Another strong piece. You're on fire today, Dan!

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    2. Only cause you keep killing it. Gotta bring my A game. ;)

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  13. They called it blowing a kid up. If you really knew a resident you could do it with a threatening look, a causal phrase, or even just a word. Like Arthur Brown. All it took was the words, “I'm going to take your shoes.” Arthur would go nuts. He would become violent, loud, and dangerous. Flip Billy Noble the bird and he would get angry and start calling everyone a dirty bitch.

    It was a warm summer night, and I was working a minimum security ward in the Heath building. Hawthorne had just passed out eight pm meds and started mopping down one of the three long hallways on the 99 bed admission ward in the May building. New patients came there, were evaluated, and the hopeless ones stayed while the rest moved to one of the other buildings with the best going to one of two cottages.

    I went up the fire escape to the end of the third hallway. I could see Hawthorne all the way across the ward from me. His back was turned toward me as I quickly ducked into Arthur's room and stole his shoes. As I left I saw a head banger absently tapping his head against the wall. A little shove cased him to bang his head hard enough to feel it and he went ballistic. Arthur came in his room, and started running down the hall screaming. “Where's my fucking shoes,” he demanded. As I ducked back through the fire exit using my key I flipped Billy Noble off and he started calling everyone in sight a dirty bitch. “Dirty Bitch, Dirty Bitch,” he yelled setting off a chain reaction that would lead to fifty some residents turning Hawthorne's quiet shift into a nightmare of stat Thorazine orders and incident reports. I strolled back to my ward to watch a little TV in the day room. I always hated Hawthorne.

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    1. You've made this so real. I can almost smell the urine, disinfectant and over-cooked cabbage.

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    2. Word. This is an epic piece, Ed. Casually cruel. Chilling.

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    3. I was right in there the whole time. Bravo, Ed!

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  14. Part two - continuing on from above.

    Time passed. He lay motionless either watching the technicians in the control room or the steady rise and fall of his own chest. The tones stopped and then restarted; this time pulsing more rapidly, the table beneath him vibrating in time. His lower lip felt fat between his teeth and he started counting in his head. Trying to gauge the time.

    Minutes passed. Maybe fifteen before he felt the table moving beneath him, his arms brushing against the ring carrying the magnets. The technician returned, her smiling face reassuring and calm. He felt her take his arm and then the cool stroke of a swab as she disinfected the entry point.

    “You’ll feel a scratch now. I’ll move the bulb into your other hand and then we’ll finish off. Only another five, ten minutes.”

    He felt the scratch and then her fingers kneading his flesh, hurrying the dye’s passage. He visualised the alien liquid suffusing through him, merging with his blood. The table moved again, pulling him in. More tones, sometimes in pairs, their pitch separated by a perfect fifth. Power chords. How cool.

    It continued, his eyelids drooping into a meditative state. He could do this. It must be almost done.

    And then everything went quiet. The table slid out again and he was alone with his own breath. And with his unbitten lip still fat between his teeth.

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    1. Wow. Again. I love the power chords, but this whole piece(s) is SO strong. Excellent.

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    2. I'm playing to my strengths here. I have to use this shit somewhere! ;-)

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    3. You need to use this shit LOTS of places. You're on it.

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  15. Agoraphobe

    Everything’s wrong. I’m terrified and can’t see a thing between the gray fuzz and static noon whiteness. Over the roar of blood pounding in my ears, I hear their garbled murmurs and laughter. And I am jealous. They move with purpose and ease all around me, brushing me here, bumping me there. I must get to safety. My legs and arms pump frantically, while my lungs inflate and deflate with air I cannot feel. This is no nightmare. This is supposed to be the one thing to which all easy things in life are compared. But they don’t know what it’s like living in this broken mind. A walk in the park? No, thanks.

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    1. You kill it every time. I love it. No one approaches this quite like you. And that is 100% a good thing. ;)

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    2. Aw thanks, man. Felt like it came out sideways, but sometimes it just be like dat.

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    3. Nails it. The way "other people" become muted and blurry and movements almost carry tracers, like bad acid trips. Uh. Feeling this.

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    4. Thanks, David. Or should I say...sorry? lol

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  16. "Hey, JT, will you and Tom help me pick up a couch?" Steve said, more as an answer than a question. "Sure, dude. My truck is kinda cramp, but I'll ride bitch. You're taller than me, and Tom's driving." I told him, and we headed down the road. Thirty miles later, after winding our way through the lonesome forest we came to an intersection and Steve got out to take a leak. "Grab me a beer on your way back in." I shouted out the open door. He handed me a PBR as he plopped back into the truck and we pressed on. A few miles later we came to his sister-in-law's house. In the basement was a hide-a-bed couch. This thing could have been an anchor for a battleship. It took the three of us twenty minutes to wrestle it up the stairs and into my truck. "It's a good thing you brought a twelver, dude." I quipped. Road beer in the Yoop is necessity. Don't leave home without it.

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    1. I thought you weren't gonna make it, brother, and I'm glad you did. I love these little snippets of life. A lot of people can make dramatic shit interesting, realism is tough. (my cap is doffed, beer opened)

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    2. I've been stinking short of time lately. I only had a chance to briefly peruse through today's entries. You've got one hell of a cool thing going here, man!

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  17. Closer to 5 minutes than 2, but here it is:

    The blood on my hands makes the steering wheel slippery. Good thing there isn't any traffic this late at night.

    I remember when she used to sleep in an old shirt of mine. She said it made her miss me less while I was gone.

    There is the faint sound of a siren. Slowly growing louder.

    We would splurge on a large pepperoni pizza once a week. I'd go pick it up to save having to tip a delivery driver.

    Some blood transferred from my hand to the cigarette. I can taste it with each puff.

    We'd eat the pizza on a fold-out sofa bed while watching Love Boat and Fantasy Island.

    Blinking lights loom in the rear view mirror.

    My shirt sticks to my chest. Hot. It hurts to breathe. The siren hurts my ears, the lights hurt my eyes.

    I can't pinpoint when she stopped wearing my shirt. When she stopped caring.

    Getting woozy. Pull onto the shoulder of the road. Foot off the gas; on the brake. Can't seem to push hard enough to stop completely. Let it drift 'til it stops moving. Somehow get the gearshift into “P”.

    I gave her time when time was all I had to give, when it was everything I had. Eventually she wanted more.

    “Keep you hands where I can see them!” He sounds scared. I can't even raise my hands out of my lap now.

    She went from loving, to tolerating, to hating. From playful slaps, to clenched fists, to knives clenched in fists.

    I see him approach out of the corner of my eye. He's still screaming something at me but I can't hear what it is. The gun is extended in his left hand. His right hand reaches for the car door handle. I never even felt my body hit the pavement when he opened the door.

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    1. This is a great piece. Very taut. I like the jolt of each break. You need to get Christopher Walken to read this. ;)

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