Friday, November 21, 2014

2 minutes. Go!

Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON'T IDENTIFY AS 'WRITERS' - all are welcome here. Every Friday we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom!

Write whatever you want in the comments section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! 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. 

The sky is falling and winter's calling and there's still that smell coming from the basement. You're going to have to deal with that. It's not going away and all the Christmas decorations and "presents" in the world aren't going to change that.

Look in the mirror. Look at the dark holes of your eyes, sunken, shipwreck-scattered, flotsam, jetsam, you can't focus and you break the mirror.

It's like you're living three lives in four different dimensions - it's getting confusing, and the neighbors are getting more curious. Someone TP'd the house, but it could be just kids, but it could be just kids testing...wondering...

You just have to get rid of it. Stop putting it off. You have to exhume everything you want to hide and the revelation will set you free, put you back in the safe cage where you used to be - cozy as a mongrel-flea. That place was made for you and me, with one state-issued Christmas tree.

Thanks for stopping by! I will be in and out all day but, rest assured, I'll be reading everything and commenting as I have time, so check back.

BTW, if you enjoy reading all the cool pieces by the authors on here, check out their work. Many have written and published amazing things. Trust me.

273 comments:

  1. whoa..... THAT is fabulous: "...put you back in the safe cage where you used to be - cozy as a mongrel-flea. That place was made for you and me, with one state-issued Christmas tree."

    Tis the season. I'm off to don my gay apparel.

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    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierNovember 21, 2014 at 8:33 AM

      There are almost too many possibilities for a story here. Wow - need to think on it for awhile. The inmates don't even have to escape the asylum anymore - not since they let them all out -and seems they want back in. .Again, really like the rhyming.

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    2. Nancy has the right of it. This has so many layers and different possible interpretations. As usual - brilliant.

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    3. "...that smell coming from the basement." Yup, gotta deal with it, one way or another. Nice!

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    4. That whole thing had a Seussian-cum-John Wayne Gacy feel about it. Loved it. (I am having JD DTs and had to just get a taste of 2 minute Friday. And now I must leave... WAH)

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    5. Thanks folks. I do like me some layers. Specially in the wintertime. Keeps the chill off.

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  2. Off to a great start this morning, JD. :)

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    1. Thanks, G. I like to write the first one before I'm fully awake. Sometimes it works out better than others. ;)

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  3. He walked into the house. Something was off, and he knew it before he even flipped on the lights. The table was clear. Like empty. Like Kathy never left it. He turned on the light. The music collection was the next thing he noticed. The gaps in the stacks of CDs looked like an Appalachian grandma's smile.

    Her side of the closet was empty, too. He knew it was coming, but he thought he had at least a couple more months, to try to work things out. He stripped his clothes off. Maybe a shower would help.

    It didn't. When he got out, he saw he had a text from Jeff. "Hey bud. Not workin out 4 me. C ya round."

    21st century America. Get dumped by the wife and the boyfriend on the same Saturday night. FML.

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    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierNovember 21, 2014 at 8:35 AM

      Well, that really messes up the weekend.

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    2. I love the tryst twist. And again, you describe a relatable and real thing many of us have experienced, but it still stabs so deep. This is brilliant: "The gaps in the stacks of CDs looked like an Appalachian grandma's smile. " Well in!

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    3. Yeah, that was my fave phrase, too. And the twist was brilliant.Didn't see that coming.

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    4. What Nancy said, lol. Nice twist.

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    5. Ouch, ouch. Again, what they said.

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    6. Thanks and sorry for all the pain...

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    7. Bleak. And a heck of a great twist. I wonder why Kathy left...

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    8. That Appalachian Grandma line is so noirish I could almost hear Bogart saying it. Nice.

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  4. Let's get it fucking going. We will attack in red and black! Fucking coat this city in the bile of our latent discontent. All the slack-jawed, grey suit flunkies will shrink back and cower. At least that's how it seems when you're seventeen. Now, I know - they just smirk and feel superior, but that don't change the intent.

    You need to see the forest for the trees, but there's also something damn important about seeing that ONE fucking tree. Could be big, could be small, could look just like the rest, but there's something about it and, if you don't see it, you're missing a lot.

    This isn't a battle of violence or ideals. This is a communication between the ages and ex-communication hasn't worked for so long. Let's all hold hands and sing. You think I'm joking? Not one fucking bit. The revolution will be a rainbow, and if you're stuck in the black and white world you're gonna miss it.

    There's plenty of grey. Suits and ideas. Brilliance. And there are the kids in red and black. They'll always be there, and they got shit to say if you'll listen.

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    1. No, not joking, it's the only way.

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    2. One guy seeing one tree -- that's what starts it off. ;)

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    3. "The revolution will be a rainbow, and if you're stuck in the black and white world you're gonna miss it." Oooh.

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    4. I believe the revolution has found its poet laureate. That line alone, rainbow, stuck in black and white, and missing it.... that line alone sets my heart afire. Thank you.

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    5. Thank you. #2minutesgo is a lot of things and a beautiful rainbow is right up there. And I'm grateful. Way I got it figured, we ALLwrite these things - call it collective unconscious or gumbo, it's a potent mix...

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    6. Dan's the Peoples' Poet. Nuff said.

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    7. Thanks, brother. I'll take it. :)

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    8. R&B, brother. Word. And you even spell grey the right way, too! ;)

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  5. I've seen the best minds of my generation, twisted by a new world that no one understands no matter what they claim. They stumble through trash-clapped alleyways and no one notices until something blows. Beat the drum and hope they'll come, but shit - ain't there something on Netflix worth watching.

    The best minds of my generation? They're creating worlds that we don't understand that will come to rule our lives. Their art is a numeric labyrinth.

    I've seen the sly ones, taking homes from their neighbors. I've seen the idealists - doing hard jobs for shit money and all the sly fucks think it's funny.

    I've seen the world change and our minds deranged, derailed, assailed - pinholes in the brain and jaw-clench madness, these are the curtains of our time. But there's Red Bull to drink and Snap Chats to have and who needs a dark cafe anyway?

    Sometimes, I sure wish I had a time machine.

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    1. dark cafes... we need more... and yeah, this is the story of our time... heavy sigh.

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    2. Those numeric labyrinths already rule our lives. I had a handle on DOS, man... And yes to the rest. But a time machine wouldn't help, I'm afraid. It's been like this for a long, long time.

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    3. Wonder if we could somehow have both. Not greedy, but idealistic, lol.

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  6. What's with all the books and TV shows that are so popular now. So few have any characters I even remotely like. They are self-serving, nasty, aggressive and deceitful. And that's considered OK now. Where are we going, that we can no longer find normal good people in our entertainment? What does this say about the way we live, think and feel? I still love a hero, a flawed character who is basically good underneath, who makes mistakes but keeps trying and triumphs in the end. Not the Disney happy ever after, just normal life with good, real relationships that include some love, some redemptive behaviours, some normalcy. Why has the amoral antihero become the new fascination. I refuse to believe that we can no longer identify with characters, heroes who have some true nobility in their souls, who know the difference between right and wrong and attempt to do what's right.. Am I wrong? Am I getting old or is there still room for some goodness and morality in this world? If not, shut me away and turn off the lights. I don't want to be there. I don't want to see it.

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    1. I'm right there with you, Yvonne. Good stuff.

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    2. RIGHT there. Well said, lady.

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    3. The worlds changed. And it ain't right.

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    4. Couldn't disagree more, but I love and respect the way you articulated it, Yvonne! I don't think a single thing has changed that way.

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    5. Sounds to me like someone needs to meet Matt Stark...

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  7. Black Friday. Every year, when all of civilization descended on the shopping malls, Ben drove to the country, to this trail head, and he hiked. He hiked for hours to the same spot. Killer view. This year there was snow. That year, there was, too.

    He shouts, HELLO, and hears the echo, hello, hello, hello... but there is only his voice and its reflections.

    Black Friday was black for Ben in remembering, in hoping, in weeping for the friend he lost on the ice field that year. Christmas would never come again.

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    1. Aw, man. You punched me in the gut. ;)

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    2. Punch. In the face. Love the echo.

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    3. I feel punched all over. All over. All over. Great piece, Leland.

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    4. Thanks... I swear, though, I'm generally non-violent...

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    5. I know that feeling. Been there, done that...

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  8. 63 years old, and he's followed the same ritual for the last 35 years of his life. Christmas Eve. Go to the basement. Find the box. Carry the box up the stairs. Say a prayer of forgiveness. Open the box. Take out the first tissue-wrapped parcel. Lay it on the table. Unwrap it carefully. Feel its weight. A knife. A switchblade. Put it on the table.

    Take out the second parcel, also tissue wrapped. Picture frame. Two guys in their twenties, in motorcycle leathers. Arm wrapped and hamming it up for the camera. Set it on the table.

    Then bring out the last parcel. A tiny silver box. Real silver, not foil. Remove the lid, inhale the scent, fearful that this will be the year the last molecule of scent will fade. Hold the lock of hair for 30 seconds, no more, no less. Return it to the silver box. Kiss it.

    Check the knife blade for sharpness. Its sound as it flicks out still startles you, as it did that night. Fold it again, and wrap it in the tissue paper. Gaze into the eyes of the two men in the photograph in the frame. Return it to the safety of the tissue paper.

    Put the lid back on the box. Wonder why it was him.

    And this year, stumble down the stairs. Crack skull. Be done. Be complete.

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    1. Time to move on -- one way or another. Nice job, Leland.

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    2. This one stabbed me right in the heart. You excel at that...and you make me like it, dammit! :)

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    3. Wow, that was epic. So rich and emotive. You do stab well and accurately, amigo. I REALLY dig this one. (And not just because it's got a switch in it).

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  9. The cigar smoke stings your eyes and make you want to puke, so you lie and tell your grandfather that you need to go to the bathroom. Of course he does not protest or go with you, and with his steel-sharp focus trained on the field of horses, he waves you off with a wrinkled hand. You remember your polite-young-lady lessons, smooth your dress, and excuse yourself into the aisle, counting the rows so you can find your way back through the women with hats and mothball-reeking men in plaid shirts, puffing away and yelling to each other in Yiddish. You pick out a few words and they are not nice ones. As you’re looking for the little drawing of the stick figure in a skirt, a froggish-looking man with a piece of paper clamped in one hand cocks his head and gives you a smirk. “Hey, little girl,” he says. “What’s your favorite horsie?” You blink at him. The horses are pretty and you liked the sound of their names, like music, as the announcer called them off. You remember Bluebird, because you once saw a bluebird on your window and it reminded you of Disney movies and happiness. Because that’s what people say about bluebirds, and you want to be happy and not have to smell cigar smoke and mothballs anymore. You tell him. His smile crooks at one corner and he scribbles something on his sheet of paper and hands you a piece of hard candy wrapped in cellophane. Polite-young-lady lessons demand a thank-you, and you do not disappoint him. But the candy wrapper is slick with sweat and also stinks of cigar. In the bathroom you flush it down the toilet, watching it swirl and wishing you could also disappear that easily.

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    1. I love how much emotion you can convey when you're not even talking about emotions. And the way you always manage to pull me into a scene.

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    2. Wonder if Mom knows that Grandpa's taking her to the track. :D

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    3. Wow. How do you evoke so many memories in so few words? This is awesome stuff! If you were going to extend this into a novella or a novel, imagine this scene at the beginning, and a similar scene near the end, but it's not grandpa, and it's not hard candy, it's heroin... and imagine all the story in between...

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    4. It also evokes such a complete cultural picture. well done.

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    5. Really good stuff...so much sensory going that it completely envelopes you.

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    6. Yeah, this is pretty astounding. So many ways to read it, both for meaning and rhythm. And yeah, what everyone else said. I'm a dittohead.

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    7. This one hits home, although my Grampa never made it as far as the track, just the bookie's. You capture that childhood thing. the bewilderment and vulnerability and threats to innocence.

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  10. A chance meeting. A shared smile. A word, a touch. This is how it begins.

    They part, leaving the future up to fate or chance, wondering if they will ever meet again.

    Spoiler alert: they do. But things don’t play out the way they thought and dreamed.

    They don’t fall in love. They don’t settle down and raise 2.5 kids in a house with a white picket fence.

    Their story is bigger than that.

    Their chance meeting leads them both to other things, to other people and places. To finding their callings. And when they meet again, they are changed. Different, better, happier. And grateful. They laugh and talk and hug goodbye, and, as before, they leave the future up to fate.

    It’s worked out well so far.

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    1. I love this... and I love the reminder that there ARE stories besides the bodice-ripping romances... bigger stories even, as you said. Beautifully done!

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    2. Wow. That is so right one. It's life in a nugget of beauty.

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    3. Absolutely love this. The spoiler alert is awesome. Brilliant piece.

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    4. By avoiding romantic cliché, this embraces the truly romantic. Nice job.

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    5. This sounds very familiar. I love how you worked this. It made me smile, a lot. Thanks hon.

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  11. In his dreams, he has wings, huge raven wings that let him soar high above the world. In these dreams, he often skims over the endless waves of the ocean. Sometimes he flies in moonlight, and others in the midday sun.

    He wakes from the dreams shaking and sick, dizzy, horrified, his body aching. They are worse, in their way, than the other dreams—the ones about pain and blood and tears. At least when he wakes from those he knows he isn’t actually a bloody, sobbing mess, though the sense of loss is the same.

    When he wakes from the flying dreams, all he knows is that he knows nothing at all…and it’s better that way. Ignorance may not truly be bliss, but knowledge can be dangerous. He’s better off not knowing.

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    1. "All he knows is that he knows nothing at all." Great line, Laura. :)

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    2. Me, three. And my Brother Raven, who walks with me nearly every day, agrees.

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    3. Yup. Love this one. I think a lot of us can relate, too. This is a dope piece. "All I know is that I don't know nothing" - OpIvy Lyric - intentional reference or no? Either way, spot on. You're killing it.

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    4. Not an intentional reference. In fact, I've no idea what you're talking about. :D

      And thanks. :)

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  12. Sometimes stuff overflows: the gutters, the toilet, the oatmeal in the microwave. Or the volcano. Or the emotions.

    Sometimes that's a good thing. Emotional release can be cathartic. So can a lava flow. Or a roof laden with too much snow, if what's under the roof is something you didn't want anymore anyway.

    Sometimes, of course, it's a bad thing. But getting rid of stuff paves the way for something new. Something better.

    Sometimes, you just have to start over.

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    1. Love this, especially the positive spin. :)

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    2. Starting over... I like it... it's good. Thank you.

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    3. Yep, sometimes that's what you have to do - and sometimes that means walking away first.

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    4. I love this piece, the optimism that blooms from life's hardships and catastrophes, big and small. Lovely. Simple. Beautiful.

      I'm gonna have overflowing toilet nightmares tonight, but I have those a lot. ;)

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    5. Made the word "unburdening" bloom in my head like a hopeful flower!

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  13. (Apologies for the length. My timer seems to be stuck today. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.)


    Bad enough the wind, roaring for three days straight, fuzzled up her thinking. But now she had to make the list. She dreaded it, put it off until the last minute, until the crowds were so thick and intimidating she contemplated calling the whole thing done and ordering takeout for Thanksgiving. Yet onward she trudged, feeling the weight of guilt from generations of women before her, from her late husband’s family, from miscellaneous siblings, cousins, great aunts and such who depended on coming to her house for dinner. She hadn’t yet found the strength to tell them no more, that someone else would have to take the mantle next year. She sighed, made more coffee, and sat down to scratch through the items she would need. Butter, because there was never enough. Canned cranberries, for that one cousin’s boyfriend who refused to eat sauce he couldn’t slice. Brussels sprouts. She stared at the two words, feeling her eyes burn and a catch in her throat. He was the only one who ate them, yet she couldn’t bear not making them or even writing them on the list. With a long, deep sigh, she called the task done and grabbed her purse and coat.

    Halfway to her car, the wind kicked up harder, and before she realized it, the list slipped from her fingers and skated off on the breeze. No, she thought, starting after it. “No!” As if her voice alone could stop nature. But up it floated, lodging between the branches of a tree. And she stared, feeling helpless, feeling the bite of the cold air against the open collar of her coat. She would never remember everything. She’d forget the flour, the butter, the canned cranberry sauce…the Brussels sprouts.

    “Can I help with something?” a man’s voice said. A small yip confirmed that this was the man who’d moved in down the block a few months ago and often passed by her house with his handsome spaniel, the two carrying on a private conversation.

    She gestured with a gloved hand as if that could explain it all, from the effort it had taken to write everything out to the phone calls coordinating who was bringing what to the emptiness of the house she’d shared with one man for seventeen years.

    “Brussels sprouts,” she said on a sigh, unable to tear her gaze from the bare branches that held fast to her slip of pink notepaper.

    “Oh, you’re out?” he said. “You should come by our house. My sister makes enough of those for an army. I’m sure she could spare a few dozen.”

    She turned then, and smiled at him. “I might just do that.” She thought of the throng of people who would be ringing her doorbell in a few days. And realized that no, definitely no, she did not want them there. She’d have to suck down some pride, but that would be better than putting up with the memories.

    “Hey,” he said, at the same time the spaniel brushed against her leg. “Are you all right?”

    She shook her head at the same time she attempted to force a smile, and his eyes were so kind. “Apparently not.”

    He seemed to take her in for a long moment before he said, “Tell you what? Grab hold of Daisy’s leash for a sec, and I’ll see about getting that thing out of those branches.”

    “Thanks, but no. The tree can keep it.”

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    1. <3

      Never apologize for anything related to a story this awesome.

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    2. what LB said... wow. This line gives me goosebumps: She gestured with a gloved hand as if that could explain it all. Beautiful.

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    3. I love this. It says so much - about traditions, obligations(real or imagined) and about finding new strength.

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    4. Simply beautiful. You do it so well.

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    5. Breaking my heart was, but then... hope there was. Beautiful, this is.

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    6. That was beautiful. I don't know how you mix despair and hope together perfectly, but you do it a lot.

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  14. There wasn’t wranglers this side of the Rio Grande could match horse wits with Johnny Black Feather. And if ya tipped your hat or gushed out some low- or high-falutin’ praise his way, Johnny’s angus-black eyes would bite the dust and his face ramp up a deeper shade of red. He’d say, “Heck, ain’t a hill of alfalfa ridin’ them ponies.” There ya have it –– Johnny Black Feather, modest as a preacher’s daughter.

    Once I asked, “It a fact yer daddy was a chief?”

    “Medicine man. Chief Tall Oak was his brother.”

    It was a dang mystery to the rest of us cowpokes why Black Feather with so much goin’ for him turned his back on the tribe, raised a cloud of dust and hoof beat it outa there.

    “Sam, horses all the medicine I need. We been pardners since we was colts.”

    That’s how he explained his life: brother to the Palominos, the Pintos, even them wild Mustangs he broke that seem to reckon he meant ‘em no harm.

    Johnny Black Feather loved the joy of saddlin’ up, jumpin’ astride, man and beast ridin’ like spirit mates in and out the sunsets and sundowns of this here lone-star state.

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    1. Cool ... The vernacular makes me smile... and "horses all the medicine I need" would win you about half of my friends as readers... thanks for sharing!

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    2. I get a feel sense of the reciprocal relationship with the horses, too - the horse whisperer.

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    3. Yeah, I love the intimacy hidden in the vernacular. A beautiful sentiment, and, well, I love this kind of stuff. You had me at Rio Grande. ;)

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    4. Vernacular's hard to do well, but you nail it here. I love its rhythms.

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  15. It was the weekend before Thanksgiving. Through the living room picture window, he watched his neighbors return from the grocery stores with turkeys and bags of all the trimmings for their holiday meal. Not for him. Not this year.

    On Sunday, he watched all of his neighbors struggle with the strings of outdoor Christmas lights, the front yard fiberglas structures of Rudolph and Santa and Frosty. He watched the wonder of the children's eyes when their moms and dads plugged the lights in to test them. Not for him, not this year.

    Thursday. Thanksgiving Day. He walked the icy sidewalks of the neighborhood and could smell turkeys and sweet potatoes and stuffing. One neighbor saw him and invited him in. He declined. Not for him, not this year.

    Friday he watched them racing to and from the stores, bags and boxes. Black Friday. He shuddered. Not for him, not this year.

    Monday, he gathered his passport, his one bag, and a book. On to the airport. Gone for a month, maybe longer. Christmas, in Africa. Not for him, but for the children. This year. Dr. Perlmutter smiled.

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    1. Me, too. "For the children". so cool.

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    2. Had to show that I can write some happy fiction... well, kinda happy.

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    3. Totally happy. The journey and the destination. Great piece.

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    4. I love how it's all revealed in the very last line. Not quite as fond of having George Michael et al. singing "Do They Know It's Christmas?" in my head. ;)

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  16. For anyone who can recall one of the pieces I posted last week, here is part two. I tell youse, there's a story in here somewheres. ;)
    ___________________________________

    As if reading her mind, Laura asked, "More coffee?"

    Ellen placed her hand over the coffee mug and held the woman's gaze.

    "Someone's looking for me."

    Laura blinked once, twice, and her smile flickered for the first time.

    "Is that in a good way or in a bad way, sweetie?"

    "I don't rightly know." A single painful sob escaped her like trapped air leaking from a diver's lungs.

    "Scoot over." The waitress put down the carafe and sat beside her in the booth. "Talk to Auntie Laura."

    "You're kind, but there's not much I can say. I know my name—it's Ellen—and I know I'm in a town called Hokum, thanks to the sign out there, and I even recognized a song on the jukebox, but that's about it. My memories are … lost …" The warmth of Laura's presence melted the last ice grip of her control and she let the tears fall. She cried for some minutes and Laura stayed beside her, warm, steadfast, like an RN in a trauma ward.

    The diner was quiet—a young couple urgent-whispered in a booth across the way, an old man in a trucker hat nursed a coffee at the bar, a man in a suit poked at his iPhone—so no one complained about the indisposed waitress.

    "Maybe you forgot something you needed to forget."

    Ellen grabbed a wad of napkins and wiped her ruined face. Through the blur of tears and the even blurrier window, she watched a state police cruiser pull into the gravel lot. She felt something change in Laura's posture, a slight stiffening.

    "Maybe I should …"

    "Honey, if you're thinking you want to talk to this cop, I'll be straight with you here. Don't. Just don't. I can't say much more than that, but this police officer is no good. Please trust me on that. Yeah?"

    Ellen nodded. She wanted to trust Laura very much.

    "You staying somewhere near here, hon?"

    "I don't know. Wait." She reached for the purse on the cool pleather seat beside her and rummaged in it. She retrieved a key—The Pioneer Motel. Room 111. "Bingo."

    "That's real close. Up on Trapline Road. Easy to get to. You driving?"

    Again, Ellen dug in her purse and produced another key, this time with a leather Toyota fob, flourishing it like a neophyte magician before an indulgent audience.

    Aside from the cop car, the lot contained a battered old Ford pickup, a newer Subaru, a black Lexus, and a cream-coloured older model Corolla. The two women smiled.

    "Guess we don't need to be rocket detectives to figure that out, huh?" Laura's laugh lightened both the room and Ellen's heart.

    Then the door tinkled and the cop walked in.

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    1. Now I want to know much more about Ellen - and the cop. There's a story here for sure.

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    2. So do I! This is a story that you HAVE to expand... it wants to go places!

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    3. Yeah, if this story doesn't keep going, I'm gonna throw poutine at you. Love it, brother.

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    4. Keep going, please. I want to see where this goes!

      Also "rocket detectives" is a win.

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    5. I'm terrible at plotting and usually run up against a road block. I hope this keeps going, as I like these people! Thanks, all, for the encouragement.

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    6. I hope it keeps going too. And my favorite like is the one about the RN in the trauma ward. That kind of made my night, actually. If I can plot (or do my bastardized version of plotting) you can try :) Or at least keep it going on here. Cause I want more.

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  17. I’ve had a lot of crap jobs in my day, but this one is the worst. I’ve traveled all over, spent a ton of time in Greece in the old days—those were the best gigs. Anymore people just don’t have it the same. Now with the computers and the “platforms” and the “branding.” I could go on and on but it just makes me sound old. Which I am. But I don’t need to sound that way. I even caught myself complaining about today’s music to a co-worker the other day. He works for one of those “boy bands” that are so popular. The Beatles…now THAT was a boy band. But the ones today…sheesh. He agreed. And kept drinking.
    I better get going. That book isn’t going to write itself, especially by that author. And especially without her Muse. I need a flask. Damn I miss Emily Bronte.

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    1. LOL! I love it! Spare a prayer for the muses of the world... and I miss Miss Bronte, too.

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    2. This is so good. Awesome and I love this: "I could go on and on but it just makes me sound old. Which I am. But I don’t need to sound that way." Great piece.

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    3. Ha, I love the tone of this especially. God, Wuthering Heights is awesome.

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  18. Continuing the bar story...

    ---------------
    Try as she might, the woman couldn't hear any of what Boston Dave was saying to the boor who had been seated next to her, so she had to settle for watching their veiled exchange. The big barkeep appeared to be making his point with the jerk, whose side of their heart-to-heart consisted of looking at his feet, punctuated with an occasional grudging nod when prompted.

    A blinking cell phone on the bar caught her attention. Her curiosity piqued by the readout on the tiny front display, she slipped her hand over the phone and swiveled away from the conversation. She smiled to herself after a quick perusal of the phone’s menu.

    “Hey Dave,” she said, twisting back to face him, “do you know of anyone named Kevin Butcher in this place? His mom’s really trying to get hold of him.”

    A crimson-faced ‘Devon Bouchard’ stormed over and reached to grab the phone, his smooth facade gone, but the woman closed her grip.

    “Funny thing, there were no calls—incoming or outgoing—at 7:04. For future reference, pretending to verbally bully a woman isn’t really a very good way to pick up another one.” She opened her hand and he snatched the device, hurrying away without a word.

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    Replies
    1. Indeed. I'm digging this. Especially now that I don't drink anymore. We need more bar stories. :)

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    2. Ha ha! I laughed. Great name tweak. And yeah, who's his role model, Julien Blanc? :D

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  19. After it all came down and we knew the fires burned most everywhere, we cowered in our various holes and waited out the worst. But the worst kept on coming, so some of us lifted our heads in the oily air and, timidly at first, stepped back into silent streets that had once screamed our gaudy dominion.

    Almost silent. In those dark canyons, between the edifices we once called skyscrapers, high rises, their very names dripping with hubris, flapped the occasional bird that had found new places to nest. Pigeons, hawks, more and more crows. At night, the bats came instead. These buildings, especially the older, more organic stone and masonry types, had become strange cliffs, home to small creatures, looming shabbily above quiet streets dotted with abandoned or burned-out cars: yellow cabs, tourist buses, once-black power rides gone charcoal with dust and debris and the shame of recall.

    The hollow silence of the streets, punctuated by the lazy flap and echo of some baffling new bird, both awed and frightened me. That we'd been brought this low. That while we'd thrust and bellowed, our Achilles had been sliced. And behind it all, the greater silence of the East and Hudson rivers, absent their ghost freight, and the even louder silence of the shocked continent, everything from sea to gunmetal sea rocking back and forth like psychosis.

    It was about this time I first saw you. Despite the grime that clung to your clothes and hair, the dust and human stink, you were a tarnished apparition, a stained goddess to me.

    I held out my hands in supplication; you side-eyed me and moved away.

    The next time I saw you, all of history was being reduced to the echo of a long howl, our planet's geometry incised by lines of brilliant sun fire and blackest shadow, you and I alone in a dwindling penumbra where all nuance was leaching away, taking all hope with it.

    I was brokenhearted. You were stern. Then angry. And finally exasperated.

    "What is it with you?" you screamed at me. "What the fuck do you want?"

    I thought about it and we locked eyes—me inconsolable, you incandescent, all else irreparable. For all I knew, my answer, moving no god to pity, yet a human cry to match the avian shrieks and screeches, was the last prayer ever uttered in this condemned place.

    "Place me in a bright house on a shining hill under cerulean skies and with views of a luminous bay. Return to me the fresh, inchoate world."

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    Replies
    1. Jesus CHRIST man. This is so good. You pluck words and images from the branches I can't even see.

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    2. Oh, and after the baroque-ness, this fucking KILLS: "I was brokenhearted. You were stern. Then angry. And finally exasperated."

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    3. Means a lot from you. And you do so see them! This one came partly from a dream. And apocalypse anxiety. And headfuckupness. :)

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  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  21. Eleanor screamed.

    It wasn't a loud scream; she was too young, too small and too long screaming to manage much above a loud wimper, but it was heart-breaking nonetheless. The fireman reached through the broken window to try to calm her but it was a useless attempt doomed to failure. It'd been too long after the crash for her to react any other way.

    The car was unrecognisable. It'd once been an unimpressive hatchback but now was somewhat less. A wadded-up mass of plastic and steel, like something that'd been discarded. It'd been a miracle that she'd survived, the child seat had disengaged from it's moorings and it'd ricocheted a couple of times before coming to rest on its side leaving her in full view of the window her rescuer was now reaching though.

    With luck, it'd be a day she'd never remember. Although she'd never live to forget its effects.

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    Replies
    1. Wow. This is intense and terrifying. Really excellent work, Mark.

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    2. What Dan said.

      Gave me the shivers.

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  22. tick...tick...tick

    Time to get up.

    tick...tick...tick

    Time to go to work.

    tick...tick...tick

    Time for another boring, useless meeting.

    tick...tick...tick

    Time to punch out and sit in traffic.

    tick...tick...tick

    Time to go to bed.

    tick...tick...tick

    Time to get up again.

    tick...tick...smash!

    No more clocks. It's island time, motherfuckers. I'll send you a postcard.

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    Replies
    1. I like it... the simple, annoying repetition did EXACTLY what it should... it annoyed... and then came island time, FREE!

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    2. Thank you. :) It was inspired by being stuck at work. :P

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    3. This is dope. I love it. Cool concept and well executed. And my postcard better be a goddamn open invitation. ;)

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    4. Ha ha! "Smash!" made me laugh out loud. :D

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  23. Just another hollow-eyed freak, staggering along the high street, dressed in clothes bought for another, never knowing when he'd ever be held in an embrace again. Unless it was the community police, dragging him back into the rear of their van for questioning. To the casual shopper, he was less than nothing. A negative non-appearing occurrence in their day. Immediately forgotten, apart from the shudder of revulsion they still had rebounding up from the flagstones paving their retail experience. Maybe he was a father or a brother or even someone's son but nobody thought that, not even the cops. To them, he was just another 1302, an unlicensed vagrant; not even legitimate as a beggar.

    Even the woman whose life he'd saved five years ago walked past him, unseeing.

    But nobody recognises a face you only saw briefly behind a paper mask. Or one that's covered in dirt and a dozen days of beard-growth.

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    Replies
    1. Wow. The kicker at the end...awesome.

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    2. Damn. This one bleeds, man. It is so very good and right up my alley. Literally and metaphorically.

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    3. I like the 'dark ones'. Even though I've a smile on my face, there's always a hole where you'll never see.

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    4. Another one that hits home. Or hits homeless. Truth bomb, this.

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  24. You weren't ever in my corner, and I don't know whether to be mad or sad - the corner wouldn't have been as scary if you'd been there, and it wasn't such a bad place regardless. You might have liked it. We'll never know.

    It's all floodwater under the bridge now, but it's also like a phantom limb. A room sucking elephant mind fuck. What would it have been like? Hell if I know. Different.

    It's like this. Things got fucked, and I didn't understand it. I didn't have the capacity to understand it. I just sat as still as possible and tried to disappear into my lonely corner, and absorb it all so it didn't ricochet and hit someone else. And I made it less lonely with daydreams and stories and jokes that made me smile.

    You didn't see it, and now it's gone, and that's the biggest joke of all. One of those jokes that's not funny. The kind that digs in so deep it makes you groan involuntarily. You know all about that. Funny, eh?

    But at least I wised up enough to know you can fill your own corner; you just gotta let the people that want to hang out inside.

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    Replies
    1. <3 Parts of this sound all too familiar. But the last line...that's gold.

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    2. Man this takes me back. LB is right though, the last line kills it. Great stuff hon.

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    3. Feeling this too. Half a lifetime of real learning here.

      Okay, everyone, you can put my damn heart down now!

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  25. His head bowed low over his guitar during the opening chords to the song. He wasn't watching his hands, or being dramatic. He simply did not want to look up and see her there, sitting calmly at the bar, her eyes cold on him while he burned for her.

    His head came up, orienting on the mike, then he closed his eyes and began to sing. The song was for her, even as he couldn't look at her. There were feminine sighs in the audience at his manner -- they thought he was terribly romantic. The truth was that he was burning inside, torn and bleeding over the one woman he wanted and couldn't have.

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    Replies
    1. <3

      So much said in so few words. Love it.

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    2. Wow. Yup. And so very real. This is an awesome piece of writing.

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    3. It pulls you in and reminds you of your unrequited love. Great stuff.

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    4. It is... performers fall in love, too... we get to see the fans fall in love all too often... thanks for the reminder that there are humans up there on the stage, too.

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    5. Yeah, everyone else said it. Real nice.

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  26. Let’s blow this play dead, shall we? Let’s call a statute of limitations on the stupid things we did when our brains were not fully developed. Let’s make a truce now, a blood oath, all those things they do in movies when they want to mark the deal with sealing wax and spit. I want it done. I need it over. Because apparently you’re still fanning these flames, and it’s not good for your health. I will not have the explosion of your heart on my hands; I already broke it once and that was enough for one lifetime. So let’s slice each other’s palms and shake on it and walk away. Please.

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    Replies
    1. Hells yes. This is the awesome.

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    2. Very raw and in your face-ish. Not what I'm used to from your writing. It's a nice change, though. It works. :)

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    3. Wow. There is some serious power behind those words.

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  27. "I've never been fishing," he says. "I've never been hunting either. Well, I've only hunted humans. I've killed humans, but not animals."

    She knows he's referring to his time in the armed forces, but it sounds strange worded that way: hunting humans. She thinks this says a lot about him, about why he has such a hard time existing in the normal world. About why he feels the need for certain crutches to prop him up.

    She wishes things were different for him, that he could he whole. But she knows she can't save him--he has to save himself--and, finally, she's wise enough to know not to even try.

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  28. The ringside announcer finished the introductions. The two old men had retreated to their corners. The bell rang out with a resounding clang, and the crowd went wild.

    The man with the scraggly hair came out first, snarling and growling. "Damn it, can't you hear what they said? It was all there! In the damn song! The Beatles told me what to do! I did it! I fucking did it!"

    The other man, palsily shaking as he walked, "Zibboppibeebob! No reason to use that kind of language. This is nothing a game of buck-buck can't solve." His nearly hairless head, bobbed as he scrunched up his face in what he must've hoped was cute, but really made it look like a chocolate-covered anus.

    "GAAAAARRR!" the first man screamed, his face wrinkling and contorting until the small swastika that was carved between his eyes was nearly spinning. "You shut up! Shut up! You fucking nig-"

    With a speed that belied his age and infirmity, the other man pulled something from the waistband of his shorts. Like a brown lightning bolt, the object impacted the screamer's left eye and he fell to the ground.

    "Helter-skelter that, you doody-head!" He yelled in triumph. "You're just lucky I left my roofied Pudding Pops in the freezer. Bobbizipboppity-do-dop-bop!" The man spit on the prone form, who's limbs were spastically jerking. He raised his arms and started to a victory lap of the ring, smiling and bopping along, when suddenly an artery in his brain burst. His body kept going a few steps and tumbled through the ropes. His head hit the cement floor of the arena with a satisfyingly resounding crack.

    The crowd roared.

    And so ended the Great Pay-For-View Event in the History of Broadcasting.

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    Replies
    1. I'm laughing so hard it hurts, it hurts....

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    2. Holy shit, Rich. This is fucking amazing. I don't even know how to say how amazing it is, but you wrote the shit out of this. Brutal. Fucking perfect.

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    3. Read it again. I want to laugh, but can't. You just fucking reached inside the ether, man.

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    4. I think I just fell in love with this, Rich. You are amazing. And how dare you make me laugh this hard when my sinuses hate me :)

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    5. "...scrunched up his face in what he must've hoped was cute, but really made it look like a chocolate-covered anus..." has affected me in a visceral way. This is cool. I think you must expand it into a novel.

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    6. Oh, man. This is insanely cool.

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    7. Oh my, so wish this karma fight were real. Ha ha!

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  29. Even from across the field she can see that the dog is happier now, with land to roam and children to herd. There’s a jaunt to his step, joy radiating from ear to tail, and she smiles, but she can still feel the ache in the pit of her stomach for the reason she had to let him go. She couldn’t give him the life he deserved, and she was too selfish and broken to realize that at the time. To think she expected him to save her from loneliness and a man who did not love her. That’s simply too much pressure to heap on an Australian shepherd, even a hardy one. The woman who owns the farm whistles and calls him by his new name, one that suits him better, and he comes running. He pulls up short in front of her. Sniffing at the legs of her jeans, her battered sneakers. He looks up. A sweet whimper escapes his throat, eyes so big and brown as he presses his body against her calf. Like he remembers her. Like he remembers that it was not her fault and feels badly that despite the chunk he attempted to take out of the man’s leg, he was not enough to run him off. “Can I visit for a while?” she asks the woman as she kneels to scratch behind his left ear. And the woman pats his head and tells her to take all the time she wants.

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    Replies
    1. Goddamn, Boris. Just goddamn. In a good way.

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    2. <3 (because there are no words)

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    3. Now THIS punched me in the gut. This is beautiful. And you made me cry.

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  30. She sits in the corner of the bar, silent. She is beautiful, but there is a ferocious intensity that leaks from the corners of her eyes. No one will come near and that's the point. Just part of the bar - like the peanut shells on the floor, the big man at the door, the lawyers drinking gimlets, so glad that they're not poor.

    She's drinking her check away and imagines the dollars caught in dust devils, smiles briefly - who the fuck cares? She'll come back and there will be a way to make money and the way to make money will birth the blanket that paints the lurid walls black.

    It's not even a fresh refrain. Too many times around the track and you don't give a fuck anymore. That's what she tells herself. Inside, there is a small girl crying, clutching at a rag that means everything - a snatch of fabric that everyone tries to grab.

    And there's been lots of grabbing. So many rough hands, but it's a badge of honor. She tells herself. And she believes it sometimes.

    It's like a seesaw. Too much and she'll get maudlin. Too little and her brain fires so fast it's fucking scary. But if you can get the balance just right - hell, that's good for one more night.

    The bar will close and her eyes will, too. They'll both reopen to nothing new. And time will scrape it's bloody fingernails along the wall - and time will make her stoop and crawl. It's a cliche, it's stupid, it's genius, it was HIS fault, she asked for it, no one fucking asks for that shit - one more hamster running in her brain. Time for another dose of pain.

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    Replies
    1. This. Is amazing. Beautiful pain.

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    2. I can't stop re-reading the last paragraph. Wow.

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    3. Wow. This one reeks of pain, denial, anger, sadness - all hiding under the umbrella of alcohol. I can relate to a WHOLE BUNCH of this one, my brother.

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  31. I heard it all before, and I want to hear it again. I listen to the song, stop half-way, restart it and swear I'll listen to every word this time. Again. Again. Again. It's happening, and there is no stopping it once it happens. It starts with a pain in the right temple. Then, the world gets drunk and can't stand straight. Horses at the starting gait. Or is it gate? Let's get that straight. Word play's a weird way to masturbate.

    I'm looking in your eyes, and I see lies and lies and lies. I wonder how you can meet my gaze when I can't meet yours. Meat. That's what it's all about. Not dead animals, substance. So many substances and so many ways to refer to them. So many codes, so many sly hand-shake transactions, begging traction. Tie this off and cauterize it. Jump out from the dark - surprise it! You might get smacked and you might get tweaked. It could last a minute or a week. Who's keeping time? I want some back.

    There is something wrong and it's not the song, it's not in the folds of a fake sarong. It's not in wool, soft like water. Why'd God have a son and not a daughter? If I was God, and I existed, I'd never give up my kid - but if I did? It wouldn't be a man, no way. Unless that man was bright and gay.

    And it begs the question no one asks...with what small part was Mary tasked? Teehee, you're pregnant and had no choice, and we'll take your boy and use his voice! Nope, don't make a lick of sense - that's my two cents.

    Women heal the world, and maybe that makes me a dick. But having one, a dick I mean, I've seen the things that men have seen. It's been an awful tricky ride - a fucking whacktown, bonafied.

    I wish I was God - no I don't. Cause he'd do things that I just won't. I don't judge and I don't care - we're all breathing the same air. If I was God, things would be weird. We'd all adopt orphans, and we'd all be queer.

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  32. The world seems weirder these days. There are times when I think we cannot possibly keep going the way we are, but how many times have people thought that, and we're still going. Things are getting harder and messier and more violent and the envelope keeps getting pushed further back, and it has to stop somewhere. But some of these changes are good and too long in coming. I don't think I would change the world, even if I could, but there are times when I think we just outsmarted ourselves.

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  33. Once upon a time things were very different. We have come so far, technologically, but strayed so far in other ways.

    There are laptops, tablets, e-readers, and MP3 players that can hold thousands of songs. There is internet radio, and kids really do have virtual homework. I can carry most of the material things I value in a few bags.

    But the flip-side of this is what we lost. Bosses don't care about employees like they did. You could be just a number. Cashiers and customer service agents have no idea what customer service is. I've seen the "customer is always right" mentality tossed out the window in a service industry the minute that attitude affected the bottom line. There are no pensions anymore. Bonuses are given more grudgingly and for the wrong reasons. One person is expected to do the jobs of five people. We'er all either stressed out, bored, or both at work.

    I have no idea how these things tie together, or if it's just a massive coincidence, but I do know that when a computer could barely fit in a 10 x 10 room the workplace was a better place and I got service with a genuine smile.

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  34. She sat there, staring into space, and wondering what magical thing would change her world and make the earth shake, when she saw him. The guy was plain, and a bit on the dorky side -- skinny, glasses, messy hair, and some band T-shirt paired with holy jeans -- but he was carrying this cool book that she'd just finished and she just had to ask him how far along he was and what he thought of it.

    There was no lighting bolt. There was no earthquake. No light bulbs appeared above any heads that day. Two people from two different worlds struck up a conversation, that was all that happened.

    When they got married five years later she would swear that the earth moved, and he'd tell anyone who asked that he'd been hit by lightening that day. But the truth is that one small, quiet moment can change a life, or maybe two.

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    1. I love this. Especially the bit about altered memories.

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    2. Beautiful. Too many people are looking for that lightning bolt or that earthquake. One thing about lightning and earthquakes - they're all over in a flash. Then whaddya got? If you don't have that common bond (like a good book shared and discussed), you ain't got shit.
      This one moves me, Erin. Good on ya.

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  35. He sat on the edge of the wall, watching all of the silly little humans stream into the Academy. Caleb took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He heard someone clear her throat, and knew instantly who it was.

    "If you have something to say, sister dear, just say it," he said.

    "You can't keep doing this at the beginning of every term," his sister, Angelina said. "They will always come back. Get over it. We need them here. You know this."

    "Yes, yes, symbiotic relationship, tolerance, allies make us stronger. I got the flyer, thank you," he grumbled.

    "Then stop acting like an angsty teen aged human and for the love of the land stop pouting like a two-year-old every time they come back here every five months," she shot back at him.

    "First of all, I am supposed to be a teenager, remember dear? A five-hundred-fifty-two year old teenager," Caleb said with a smirk. "Second, they will never stop being less than us. They will never stop being cattle. These pathetic beings are a necessary evil, I will agree with that. But they are still contaminating my home. I will tolerate them, but that is all I can promise."

    He spun and hopped off of the wall. Angelina watched him walk away and shook her head. She wondered if he would ever learn that there was no such thing as better than. She liked the humans. They kept things interesting.

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    Replies
    1. I like seeing the other side of this whole thing. Interesting. :) And the difference between the siblings is nicely done.

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  36. Man, that old Stratocaster was singing to me. I wasn't even thinking about what I was playing - I'd managed to detach myself so completely that it was like my very emotions were flowing through my hands, into the strings, down a length of cheap copper cable, into that beat-to-hell Bassman. Somehow, like it had a mind of its own, that old tweed amp was able to articulate what I couldn't say with my words in a million years of trying. Beautiful, seductive sounds slithered around me in vivid 3-D. I could see the tone, feel the melody, taste the groove...
    Then the conscious me kicked the door of my mind in, and as quickly as it had appeared, it was gone...

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    1. Trying real hard to keep it at 2 minutes - that's a lot of the fun of this for me! I could probably do better if I'd take some time to actually think about it. Then again, maybe not...

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    2. Yep...that sounds like the creative groove, finding it and then inadvertently shutting it down. Been there, just not with music.

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  37. O’Shea leaned sideways against the door frame, half his profile bathed in 4 p.m. sun while the other glowed eerily green in the half-light of the motel room. Lena studied him.
    “Funny,” she said.
    “What’s funny?”
    “You sure don’t look Irish.”
    “I was adopted,” he baritoned without turning.
    “Oh.” Lena dropped her eyes from his profile to the revolver tucked at the right hip of his brushed sateen chinos. She thought she should say something about how being adopted meant he was definitely wanted and that she was never sure her parents had really wanted her. But she couldn’t put it together right and so dropped it. He turned to her.
    “You know all your lines, right?”
    “Yeah.”
    “Sure you don’t want to practice?”
    “I’m not a complete idiot.” Just dumb enough to land myself here.
    “Speaking of which, don’t try anything stupid. I’ll be right next door in the adjoining room listening the whole time. If you so much as think about leaving here with him, I’ll kill you both.”
    “Aw, now I thought you liked me, O’Shea.”
    They eyeballed each other a full ten seconds. O’Shea turned his profile back to Lena before answering.
    “Like is like, baby. But business is business.”

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