Friday, December 5, 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. 

We're cooking with gas now, baby. Ain't no getting off the train between stops, folks will grab you like you're crazy: you can't get off the train here, man! The hell? Maaaaan, I can get off this train anytime I want, grab a passing tree, swing like a hopped-up orangutan.

The memory is parasitic, it steals from you. You wander through dark streets, clutching at snatches of neon and moon splash, alone, bereft. You're drowning in all these people and no one will even notice. Bounce down the aisles of a late night convenience store, drink the bright colors deep inside you where they'll add weight to the skinny nightmares which shroud your face.

I am memory, and I am the truest lie you've ever heard.

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.

133 comments:

  1. Oooh. Love this. And this: "drink the bright colors deep inside you where they'll add weight to the skinny nightmares which shroud your face."

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    1. "I am memory, and I am the truest lie you've ever heard." <-- truth. Great piece.

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    2. "The memory is parasitic, it steals from you." oh yeah

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    3. Beautiful piece of writing, man.

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    4. Gorgeous writing, and drinking the bright colors and skinny nightmares... genius....

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    5. More poetry from the Man.. Terrific!

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    6. Yep, that's one train that never lets you off - until you become senile - but then you don't get to choose the stops.

      Love the images.

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  2. As Eugene ambled up the broken, bluestone path that led to the cottage he and his daughter had shared for the last fifteen years, he sensed something wrong about the place. Not about the house per se; the repairs the neighbor boys made to the shingles and gutters and such over the early fall were holding tight; some brave, late-season geraniums shivered in the window boxes. No. It looked...sort of sad, although he couldn’t put his finger on why an inanimate object should express an emotion. Maybe when he had his coffee and set down to painting, he’d work on that.
    “Miri?” he called out as he maneuvered his bent body and walking stick through the storm door.
    “In here, Dad.” The sound came from the kitchen, along with the scent of coffee and bacon and the sizzle and clatter that accompanied both. But her voice…it didn’t have the usual cheer. It made him frown, and feel that unnamed sadness coalesce in his belly. Bacon…that wasn’t right, either. She hadn’t made bacon for him since…
    At the moment that thought overtook him, he spied the suitcases in the hall. A deep breath lifted his sternum before it sank again. She turned the corner, still holding the spatula, grasped in one hand like a beacon, and her face fell as she saw him doing the mental calculations. “I’m… Joey and me, we’re getting married, Dad. I just can’t…another winter here. I’ll lose my mind, I swear. I’ll send Trudy around to collect up the rest of my things.”
    He nodded. Surprised, in a way, that it had taken her so long to leave. “I’ll be in my studio,” he said, pouring himself a cup of coffee. Now, the sadness had a context. Now, he could paint.

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    1. The sadness had a context? Wow, that's so simple and perfect. This is an awesome piece. You never cease to amaze me.

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    2. What Dan said. I love how you weave in little, non-vital bits of detail without knocking people over the head with description. Love the way you bring fiction to life.

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    3. I just can't...another winter here either. Damn, seems like a scene lifted straight out of one of your novels. Real people saying real shit. You're really really good.

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    4. Hate to be a dittohead so early in the afternoon, but yeah. Brilliantly poignant is your wheelhouse, Laurie.

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    5. Wow.... I'm almost on sensory overload from the beauty of this... pain, and joy, and reality.... well done.

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    6. Laurie this is just perfect. I can sense exactly what he feels sentence by sentence.

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  3. He stumbled over the rocks - slick, brown boots sodden with the recent rains. The branches of the trees were saturated - dark green testaments to rejuvenation, to life, to everything. He didn't care about the rocks, though. They all looked the same and that wasn't helping. He looked at the agate sky and felt paranoia in the marrow of his bones. He ached with it. His mind reeled, chastising - stupid, fucking stupid.

    Birds sang, and the sound triggered some memory, some longing long forgotten. He doesn't understand ... the wires are crossed and it's all fucked up. He wants things he does not even know about. Fucking stupid - goddamn.

    The killing had been easy. He knew it would be. He knew the cold, white place would be waiting when he needed it. And it was. It was automatic. The plan was airtight. And it had worked perfectly. Then, he'd returned home, opened a beer. Reached into his bag to get the bloody shirt, the gloves. He'd found one glove. That meant that one glove was still out there in the woods, waiting to lift the veil.

    If all the rocks didn't look the fucking same. If only he'd paid fucking attention, but he hadn't been planning on a return trip. He downed his beer and looked into the slow mirror. Let his gaze wander out the window - his neighbor waved and he lifted a cold hand.

    He had to find that fucking glove.

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    1. The last sentence just sent a chill down my spine. How often in life in general, but especially after an otherwise routine contract killing, do we realize we forgot a detail that could come back to bite us in the end.

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    2. ;) Happens to me all the time. And I can never find my keys either.

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    3. The neighbor's wave killed it...if you'll pardon the expression.

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    4. Woah! The neighbour waving - nice touch.

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  4. It all happens so fast you can't process it. You swear you said stop. You swear you said you had to leave, but, somehow, you're still here. You're still looking into his eyes and he's still hurting you. Your thoughts are too fast and too slow. You want to scream: 'FUCKING STOP FOR A SECOND AND LET ME THINK!" There's no stopping though, the momentum builds and you realize there's nothing you can do. Or there are so many things you could do that you won't do anything.

    It won't hit you for a few decades. You'll brush it off until one day someone touches your arm and you flinch and they look at you with a sad, knowing look and you want to smack the recognition off their face. You want to tell them to go to hell. Don't make me look at it. Don't dig up the grave. Let it rest.

    Bruises heal. Even bones. There are places inside you that can never heal, though. They can be dealt with, but the wound will never close.

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    1. ahhhh.... so much truth, in so few words.

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    2. But you become numb and lose the ability to think.
      Those wounds - oh yeah.
      That's what I love about your writing. You get it when so few do.

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  5. The night train bounced along the track from Boston to Albany. She tried not to think about the transfers she’d have to make once they stopped – two buses and the half-mile walk up the steep, dark hill to her grandmother’s house. Instead, she filled her mind with the taste of pecan pie, not gloopy sweet like the restaurant’s version, like the one that resulted from the recipe on the label of the sticky golden syrup, but the one her sister taught her. More pecans, less sugar, a healthy dose from the fancy carafe Mom kept in the cabinet she though too high for the girls to reach. Her dreams of crunchy, Drambuie-infused pecans were interrupted by the wails of a child, winding up like a fire-engine. By instinct she reached into her pocket. The little low-tech illusion, the Jumping Gems, was more than a set of ebony sticks with colored rhinestones attached. Its magic was in the routine’s almost hypnotic ability to calm a screaming child. Many a parent and passenger had thanked her for the public service. But aside from the receipt for her ticket, her pocket was empty. Immediately she grabbed her phone and relayed her distress to the one person who might have an answer to her dilemma. “I don’t know where are,” he replied. “Maybe you lost them.” But then she knew. He’d lifted them from her pocket when he’d hugged her goodbye at the station. She thought he’d been hanging onto her a little longer than usual. Her emergency cash had also vanished. Bastard. So she settled back into her seat and enabled the recording function on her phone. Instead of memories of her grandmother’s cooking, she now enjoyed the promise of revenge, thanks to a little modern technology.

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    1. Very sneaky, subtle, and clever. Almost demonic in a spy verses spy kinda way. I hadn't thought of golden syrup since the last batch of ANZAC Biscuits.

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    2. Ohhh.... sweet revenge, almost literally. My mouth is watering for that pecan pie, AND it's watering for ANZAC biscuits!

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    3. Yup. Put the ditto on my head. Awesome piece and I will now crave Pecan Pie for weeks.

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    4. Perfect slice of life piece, topped off with the sweet schlag of revenge.

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    1. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooo..... ;)

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    2. You would think by now I would know the difference between a reply and a comment. Just commenting on that. No need to reply....or comment.....oh crap...

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  7. Last night I dreamed we were all art students with final projects due. Then I woke up and realized that we are all art students with final projects due. The night before last I dreamed we were all falling through space at an incredible speed. After I had my morning coffee and thought about it I realized that we are falling through space at an incredible speed. Do you ever wonder what dreams are telling us if not restating the obvious? Are they dreams or just close caption broadcasts for the awareness impaired?

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    1. Interesting questions. But I never have dreams like that - unfortunately. :D

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    2. This is a really cool piece. Edgy, but contemplative. I love this: "Do you ever wonder what dreams are telling us if not restating the obvious?" - most of my dreams are about toilets overflowing, but...

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    3. I think somewhere Freud just choked on his cigar.

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  8. Jeremy turned the corner at the end of the hall and walked down the marble steps to the landing between floors. The echos of his leather soles hung in the cavernous stairwell for an instant before dying only to be replaced by the beat of his heart. He could feel the muscle pulsing against his hand which was pressed tightly to his chest. As tight as he pushed his hand against the throbbing, warm liquid still managed to leak between his fingers. He was spill his heart out, quite literally. The walking couldn’t be that good for his health. Looking back up the cold white steps he’d just descended he saw the trail of his life force. “Damn I hate High School,” he said weakly as he collapsed to his knees.

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    1. I am howling... and I went to that high school!

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    2. Too often this is too real. Well done.

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    3. Wow, this is a great piece. The sound of one set of footsteps in a hallway, man, that resonated so strongly. I hate that sound so much. Well in, brother.

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  9. O’Shea quickstepped inside the room and shut the door. He made for the door that joined their motel rooms, stopped in front of Lena and said, “Remember, baby. No funny business.”
    He said it to the grimed-darkened carpet then disappeared behind the two doors. Lena watched him go in the murky light and wondered if she should turn on a lamp or stay put on the bed. She silently rehearsed her lines one last time. She almost made it two last times before the knocking made her jump.
    Lena took a deep breath with each step and covered the four-foot distance in record slow time. The knocker was impatient. Lena thought, If only you knew.
    She opened the door. A sad looking corner-bought bouquet greeted her. It was symbolic. She was supposed to love the giver, not the gift. How could she do this to him now?

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    1. Ooh, wicked. I like this one. I read it a few times - this would be a great piece to expand - so much here and so many ways to go. Well done, G.

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    2. Thank you! I just picked up where I left off two weeks ago. I don't know what these three are up to yet but I'm curious enough to let them drag me along.

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  10. Ever meet a critter fond of takin’ what advice he gets and turnin’ it inside out? Nobody fit the bill like Jefferson Monroe. No, that wasn’t his real name. His daddy was a reservation Cherokee what named him ‘Wild Hare,’ but Jeff he hated that. Said more ‘n once one day he got a wild hair of his own and marched his mocassined feet to city hall and changed his name.

    Jefferson Monroe walked tall ‘n proud, claimed to the unawares he was a direct descendant of two presidents, and by golly, he wasn’t about to let anybody here or in tarnation get the best of him. “Don’t bother yer head tryin’ to change my ideas,” he’d say. “My mind’s set good and proper.” We on the ranch did our darnest to suggest he keep that mind of his open a crack, but it was easier convincin’ a turtle to come out of his box and gettin' his scaly face fanged by a copperhead.

    Last I heard of Jeff he was off to Washington to take the seat he won in a Senate election.

    “I can’t do no worse than a barrelful of them monkeys. I know what smells like rottin’ fish ain’t gettin’ my vote. Two reasons,“ he bragged. “I’m a grandson several great-greats down from them two presidents. And I got me Purchases and Doctrines up the kazoo just bustin’ to be pushed into law!”

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    1. Nice play on identity. They say we become our parents. I suppose Jefferson wasn't content with that.

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    2. Agreed. I like this kind of tall tale/campfire vibe a lot. It works really well and is deceptively complex. Nice one, Sal.

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  11. He shuffled forward one more space.

    It was a long line and he'd been for waiting over an hour now and he was almost at the counter. Just two more people to go.

    “Hey Mister, what you got in your bag?”

    Nameless looked around comically and then down, the timbre of the voice a big give-away. “Hi, bud,” he said to the check-shirted kid scuffing his shoes up against the skirting board protecting the wall. “What do you think I've got?” he asked, swinging his hessian sack above the boy's head. “Take a guess.”

    The kid pulled his lower lip between his teeth, studying the bag closely and then reaching up towards it. “Can I take a feel, Mister?”

    “Nah. What'd be the fun in that?” Nameless flicked his arm higher still, pulling the mysterious sack even further away from the boy's questing fingers. “You gotta guess!”

    “Is it a gun?”

    “Nope.”

    “Is it a telescope?”

    “Nope. Too heavy for that.”

    “Is it a car jack?”

    “Nope. Nothing to do with a car.”

    The queue had moved forward again and there was now only the bald man that'd been in front of him all the time, already speaking to the cashier, pushing a pile of clear coin-filled bags through the arch-shaped hole for counting and then depositing into his account. The cashier studied them closely, arranging them all so she could check that they were all either filled with silver and copper coins and then dropping them all one by one onto the scale pan, noting the value of each in turn.

    And then it was Nameless' turn.

    The shabbily-dressed man grinned disarmingly. “I'd like to withdraw some money,” he said, raising the bag and pulling the blued-steel snout of his abbreviated shot-gun through the material. Fifty or sixty thou – or more if you've got it. And all used notes, if you please.”

    He was intently watching the cashier collecting the bundles of notes ready to place them all in his sack when he felt a tug on his sleeve.

    “Mister?” the boy asked, looking confused. “I guessed right and you lied. Why'd you do that? You cheated!”

    Nameless turned his head, keeping one eye on the busy bank employee but still managing to grin back toward his disappointed new friend. “Take this as a lesson in life,” he said. “All people lie. But bank robbers... they're the worst!”

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    1. Build me up, let me down, then POW right in the kisser... well done!

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    2. I suppose there are such things as kind lies. ;)

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    3. You got me with that one. Nice and unexpected. Loved the kid, too, with that naive courage.

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    4. I just wrote this one. Even I was surprised by the ending!

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    5. One of the marks (no pun intended) of a good writer is that s/he listens to the characters... as you obviously did...

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    6. Yeah, I'm digging this piece. I was ready for carnage at the end, but you danced the jovial line well brother.

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  12. I close the door quietly, then open it again, just as quietly, to look in. Moonlight, transformed by gauzy curtains, shines on my two boy’s faces, lost in slumber already. Dreams of frogs and tadpoles and Legos and puppies and hope.
    I smile to myself, and I worry. For the fourth time this year, we’ve had to talk about things that eight- and eleven-year-old boys should never have to think about. Things scarier than monsters in closets, than ghosts under beds. Things more terrifying than wearing uncool shoes, first kisses, and math tests.
    They’ve heard about hell in church; along with justice, peace, faith.
    But the talk we had tonight was about none of that. It was about survival. What to do, how to act, what to say in case of a very specific emergency. What to do if a policeman says anything to you, stops you.
    Bow your head.
    Be respectful.
    Keep your hands in plain sight.
    Say as little as possible.
    Call the policeman “sir” or “ma’am.”
    And I realize, I’ve just taught my children the beginning of how to be good slaves. Because I want my kids to live. Even if their dignity is stripped away from them. I just want them to live. So that maybe their children will not know such fear. So that they can fight injustice. So that the color of their skin really won’t matter. So that “emancipation” will be more than just a word.
    I close the door again, and I try to cry as quietly as I can. My freedom fighters need their sleep.

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    1. Wow. Such great writing, Leland.

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    2. Thanks... I wish that it weren't inspired by a friend of mine who had to have those four talks with her boys...

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    3. The truth of this writing is beyond price and deeply sad.

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    4. So powerful because it's so true. I'm speechless.

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    5. Leland! I thought a lot about this this week. Parents do have to have these kinds of talks - heartbreaking, but true. I was gonna write two minutes about it later, actually. You nailed it.

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    1. It was premature commentation... I posted it above! :D :P

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  14. A man, weary of his century, left the city and made a home in the wilderness. He learned the language of the animals. A bobcat. A buffalo. A coyote stopped by when he got a thorn in his foot.
    But the raven, the raven claimed the man for his own. He listened to the hermit’s words and repeated them. He followed the man along the trails that also hosted elk and deer.
    The man took to calling the bird “Brother Raven.” The man grew older, his walk grew slower. The bird mimicked less and talked more.
    “Brother Raven,” asked the man, “What is your name?”
    “Good Fortune. My name is Good Fortune. Buena Fortuna.”
    “You speak Spanish?”
    “I speak all languages.”
    Another walk. Another conversation.
    “Old Man, what is your name?”
    “I am no one. I am everyone.”
    “You speak in riddles?”
    “I speak in no languages,” said the man.
    The man grew older. The raven seemed never to age. The walks grew shorter. And one day, the man slipped and fell.
    The raven came down to sit on his arm.
    “Brother Raven,” the old man asked, “What is your name?”
    “My name is Death.”
    “You said your name was Good Fortune.”
    “Both names are correct.” And Brother Raven plucked and ate one of the old man’s eyes. “I go by another name, too: Patience.”

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    1. Thanks.... I'm kind of toying with the idea of a small collection of small stories like these, based on animals... kind of a totem talk, I guess...

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    2. Love this. The play on language is so clever.

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    3. This is awesome. You should totally do a collection like this.

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    4. "A man, weary of his century..." Love that start. And it just gets better. Definitely a collection. :D

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    5. Thank you.... i appreciate that!

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  15. “Look Jack, nobody blames you...”

    “Really? You mean its not a sin?”

    “Sin?” The angel allowed himself a short chuckle. Jack felt he was holding back a full on laughing session complete with tears. He smiled and Jack thought he saw a twinkle in his eye.

    Jack spoke his next thought quietly, after all you never know who might be able to hear this conversation. “Then why are so many people angry when someone does...you know...what I did?”

    The angel’s smile disappeared and he looked at Jack with an expression that left no doubt that he was completely serious. “Jealousy,” He stated confidently.
    Seeing that he had only confused his new friend the angel’s smile returned. “Look Jack, you’ve probably heard that no man may know the hour?”

    Jack nodded, then said, “But I thought it was a mortal sin.”
    The angel couldn’t control it any longer and burst out laughing hysterically. Tears rolled down his angelic cheeks as he doubled over in convulsions. It was several minutes before he could regain his composure enough to continue speaking. Even then, he was somewhat breathless from the exertion. “Don’t get me wrong, Jack. We frown on what you did. It is indeed a sin. If we stopped letting everyone who sinned in here, this would be a lonely and extremely boring place. People feel you somehow cheated, took the cowardly way out. Fact is, no matter how you go out...out you go. The coward thing is just a projection. Okay, some people will be pissed because it hurts to lose a friend or family member. Those people will call what you did ‘selfish’. Projection again. Its the hottest game in mortality.”

    Jack was relived but still had his doubts. “You mean I’m not going to hell for killing myself?”

    “That would be rather redundant Jack. You just came from there!”

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    1. You are on a roll... this is great! and the line "the hottest game in mortality." is good stuff!

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    2. Oh, exactly. "You just came from there". Perfect.

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    3. Yup, I was gonna cite both those lines, too. This is dope.

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  16. Do you all remember the Disney movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? My kids loved it. It has a song in it that I was reminded of yesterday when I registered for Hootsuite. "Toot Sweet, Toot Sweet - the magical musical treat - or something like that. It's a catchy tune, as all Disney tunes are.

    But, you may ask, (I did) what has that got to do with Hootsuite. Well, really it was just the sound of it, you know. Unfortunately that's where the comparison ends. Computers and I have a testy relationship at the best of times and a down-right antagonistic one when I am learning something new. I've known for a long time (over a year) that I likely needed to learn how to use Hootsuite, but fear and loathing of all things computer-speak kept me shrinking back and wrapping my procrastination blanket over my head. Now I can procrastinate no longer. So, last night I dutifully dove in. I was not disappointed - or rather I was. On the very first page, where they say you can add three streams of media, it refused to connect with my google+ page. It says I don't have one. "I do, I do," I told it, petulantly jumping up and down. I even told them what the url was. Nope. Hootsuite says I don't exist at Google. So I'm left with a mystery. Who the heck is that person on Google that keeps posting in my name? Do I have a ghost clone on a phantom page? Oooooooo, eerie. "Toot sweet, toot sweet, the magical musical treat .....

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    1. I LOVE this, Yvonne. I know the feeling, and you captured it perfectly. Witty and tight - this is an awesome reflective piece.

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    2. I need a closet full of procrastination blankets! Nice!

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    3. "procrastination blanket" is fantastic! and so is the rest of the story.

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  17. Do you see the boy in the corner? No one else does. Flurries of apathy and acidic confusion drift by, flakes falling in great clumps, but he lets them accumulate - the weight is not insignificant.

    Do you see the boy in the corner? He's got one foot out the door, face flinch-ready - he's waiting for the starter's pistol and, when it fires, he's going to run as fast and as hard as he can. He'll run through briars, fists, love and kindness with equal abandon. He won't let any of it touch him, he'll run so fucking fast.

    Do you see the boy in the corner? Maybe not. Norman Rockwell never painted that picture.

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    1. Ah, but that boy in the corner.... he's gonna save us all. Norman Rockwell should have been paying attention.

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    2. Damn good point. Norman never painted all the story. He depended on Paul Harvey to mix his paints in those days and you know how Paul loved to leave some colors out.

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  18. We got caught in a dry draw, night falling fast in the small valley at our backs. A ragtag bunch of fugitive daughters and sons and their long shadows, befouled refugees alongside the mockery of refugees.

    Where a creek once flowed, some vegetation followed, scabrous and mean, this dry gulch a seam scrawled by a child holding two antitheses of green pencil. To our left, looking skyward, a narrow fan of grey scree, a trod-upon bridal veil.

    "We oughta head for higher ground." Lucas had already begun scrambling the scree slope, heavy pack be damned. The dry spray of stones behind his boots was the sound of agitated bones, a charnel house desecration.

    I saw if we went further we could still climb, more gradual, mind, and then loop back around, come out in the same damn place, so that's the way I went. Three of our group went the same way, two others clambering after Luke. As we made our own slower course, rejoining our party in time, we heard the others excitable in the hushed gloom.

    "We found ourselves a cave!"

    Was indeed a darker smudge on a short cliff face, reminiscent of a cavemouth. We seen it before we reached it. Then we reached it.

    Before, we'd come up through what was once fruitful pasture, irrigated by man in defiance of an arid climate, now returned to truculent desert itself: cacti, sagebrush, greasewood.

    Never could we figure out what happened, fully.

    Whatever it was had done for the honeybees and for most of the butterflies, whether through the air or by way of the water, some subliminal thing or a hot toxin, a mite before the unspooling of men's minds. Most went utterly mad. Madder even than usual on this misbegotten earth. Could be some had wandered in pointless circles and fell forward, bashing their loved ones with cast iron pots or digging tools, over and over, while those had bashed right on back till all were crimson pulp on the thirsty ground and no one soul stood anticipatory no more. Except us few, our own exemption a puzzlement even to us.

    "That ain't no cave. It's a long abandoned mine. Silver or nickel I'm surmising." Luke was already peering into its impossible blind depths.

    "What if something got here before us?" Colette was beside him, also squinting.

    I looked around the entrance in light that had near emptied from the world and saw no scat or leavings, human or otherwise.

    "Think we're good," I said.

    I ran my hands over the rock inside the black maw of the mine and felt the striations and boltholes where posts and beams once gave spurious comfort to the subterraneans inside. Made my nerves dance like heat lightning and my mouth dry as the desert we'd done walked, but with crazies down there roaming all ways to hell and back we hadn't been able to light fires too often, and maybe we could have ourselves a pot of coffee a ways inside the tunnel. Searing hot as the days got, nights could freeze your bone marrow; even a small fire might lift our spirits.

    We all seemed to reach a similar opinion without needing words, because everyone up and moved as one inside the darkness, and a couple of us still had batteries back then, so our way was preceded by two dim swordplay beams.

    Which was how we first discovered the mutants.

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    1. Goddamn, you're good. I got lost in the dialect in a few places, but Jesus you made the words dance. And the painting is stellar as usual. You do subtle writerly things so well. Assonance, repetition, pace, rhythm. Makes me glad I can read. "Where a creek once flowed, some vegetation followed..." - brilliant.

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    2. Your words, your rhythms, your story... wow, wow, wow... I can't give you a copy and paste of my favorite lines, because I'd be re-posting 90% of the story... good, good stuff.

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    3. 99% of the story and the rest would be punctuation which you do as well or better than anyone. But yeah, what Leland said.

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  19. There are times when it's scary as shit, but they are rarities - usually caused by some dumbass who has yet to find out that 70mph is fast as fucking hell. Most of the time it's like being plugged into an electrical socket. It's like a nine volt battery on the tongue. The tires stick and maybe they skitter a little if the turn's too sharp, but you know the science, you know the bike - you keep yourself plugged in and you'll be alright.

    Sometimes, it's bad though. There's no denying that. Sometimes a dark car goes by so fast and so close that you can see the glow of the cell phone screen and you want to drag the fucker out of his car and beat him senseless. Then, you realize the anger doesn't help and you just want to get home. You promise that tonight will be the night you write the letter the girls aren't supposed to open unless you die. The one that says all the things you want them to hear, but might not be able to tell them.

    Most of the time, it's good. So, you don't have to look at me like I'm crazy. I've teased death for almost 40 years now, and I don't aim to quit anytime soon. I AM going to write that letter though. Just in case. Just in case someone pulls the plug out.

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    1. Oh someone's been wearing off the chicken lines on their tires have they? Good stuff for a biker, need to keep you head on a swivel, have all those skills rehearsed, and pray to the heavens everything on the bike is tight and right even if you've checked it fifty times. Kind of like writing, isn't it?
      Which makes me wonder, should all writers have donor cards?

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    2. It IS like writing. And yeah, I just put new tires on. ;)

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  20. Baby, I got the good shit. I got the boom bip badap. Shit's gonna open your mind so wide your head splits. You'll see stuff you never believed was possible. You'll live a million lifetimes and die a thousand deaths. You'll see it all, from the first gasp of life to the last dying breath.

    Yeah, it's a library card, so? You gotta put some shit in that brain of yours. Stop snorting the world through syphilitic twenties and shove some knowledge in your brain. Don't look at me like that, makes you look like a towny. I'm not interested in your tits - of course I'm interested in your tits, but that's not the point - look, I'm trying to be serious for one goddamn ...

    Fine, use the card to cut the shit. Make mine a big one.

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    1. Strangely deep mixing of metaphor and blow. Mind blow, yeah ... I'll do a line or eight.

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  21. The woman turned to her drink, trying to get back in the right mood following the abrupt departure of a creep whose pickup attempts had gone from smarmy to threatening. A minute after Devon-who-was-really-Kevin stormed out of the bar, another ginger martini appeared beside the first.

    "This one’s on me. I have never been so happy to see a customer leave," Dave the bartender said. “Hope you don’t mind me pullin’ him aside back there. You okay after all that?”

    “I’m fine,” she assured him, “and I didn’t mind at all. In fact, I appreciated you intervening. It was very chivalrous. And thank you for the drink, by the way.”

    His reply consisted of a smile and a nod as he wiped down the bar.

    The huntress finished her drink and started on the second as she used the mirror behind the bar to survey the scene.

    Among the dozens of contestants competing for attention, she quickly spotted the most intriguing prospect, a solidly built man who still possessed an air of confidence that was beginning to slip in many of the others. She turned, caught his eye and smiled, then her gaze dropped as he started to make his way across the room. Yes, it was a nice package indeed—one she’d like very much to unwrap.

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    1. If anyone's wondering... I know it's kind of cheesy. That's what I had in mind for this little adventure. ;)

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    2. I love the ongoing saga of the huntress!

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    3. Really great scene setting. The way women think is terrifying to me. This is my idea of a horror story.

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    4. This IS fun... I am somewhat familiar with how guys "hunt"... it's fascinating to see from the female perspective!

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  22. Just one more. That's how it's got me. At first I thought I'd not be afffected. But here I am again. Okay, it's a great group of folk and it's all good fun. Some of it innocent. And some of it not. That Mader guy, he's the ringleader. He's a soul as dark as the inside of a murderer's head. At night. Or at least that's how he writes sometimes. Forget all the cute pictures of his daughter. Least, he says she's his daughter...

    Anyway. He drew me in here. Befuzzled me, saying I was dope, or something. Who's the dope now? Me. Just typing words like these. Maybe there's some sense in this. Or maybe it's just the man in my head calling out for attention. Who knows...

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    1. You documented the strange trip I'm on brilliantly. Nice to know that I'm not alone where I not in fact alone. At least we know who the dark taxi driver on this evil ride across the week to the weekend is. I wrote down his license number, but his picture looks nothing like the person behind the wheel.

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    2. I disavow any knowledge of anything related to this social experiment. That said, the first taste is always free, I'm just slow. I'll start charging in the new year. ;)

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  23. Joey stretched his big frame across the front seat and popped the door open for her. “Hope you brought your bikini, hon.”
    Miriam snorted a laugh. She hadn’t worn a bikini in decades. “You could have come in, said hello.” He also could have helped her with her suitcase. She struggled to find a place for it among his things in the back seat. Ridiculous, she thought. How much does a guy need for a week?
    “Yeah.” He swallowed, peering toward the cottage, what little of it one could see from the street. A stooped shadow moved across the window. “Already hates me enough as it is.”
    “I hope he’ll be okay.”
    “That tough buzzard?” Joey rammed the battered car into gear, a smirk pushing up a corner of his raggedy mustache. “He’ll outlive us all.”
    Miriam’s throat tightened as she watched the shadow move, lift a cup to its lips, set it down, pick up a paintbrush.
    Joey wrestled the car into park and leaned back in his seat with a huff. “You want to stay.”
    “No, I…”
    “You’re entitled to have a life, Miriam. Crissakes. The plane tickets are non-refundable. And I already bought you a ring.” A ring. She turned to him. He ducked his head, color flavoring his cheeks. “Okay, it’s not a big ring. But it’s something.”
    It was something. She hadn’t left her father’s house for more than a few days at a time for the last fifteen years. And she wasn’t getting any younger. She had friends who were already sending her pictures of their grandbabies. “Let’s go,” she said on a sigh.
    As the car rattled away, she gripped her fingers into the upholstery to keep from looking back. She knew what she’d see: a curl of smoke rising from the chimney, an old man pacing across his easel, a cup of coffee growing cold.

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    1. Beautiful portrayal of the caretaker, finally, breaking away, if only for a short time. This is beautifully poignant, and a scene that plays out more and more as we boomers age...

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    2. Poignant indeed. Leland used the perfect word to describe this piece which is rather more like a portrait than a collection of words. It reads like a painting or perhaps a symphony. It reads like life in 3D

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    3. Word. Sometimes, I'm surprised at the number of stories in my head. Yours must be like a circus on acid. In a good way. I'm so glad you share.

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  24. When the proverbial hits the fan, you are glad you learned how to improvise. You remember a rainy afternoon crowded into your brother’s living room, fingers poised over his keyboard, afraid of hitting a wrong note, of doing it wrong, of being wrong. He shakes his head and quotes Miles Davis and hands you a beer. But it’s not the beer, after a while, it’s you, and you’re flying over the keys while he nods and shimmies with the bass, and you forget about being perfect and being wrong. Now you are glad, because you can roll and shimmy on your own, you can make up the rules as you go, you can spin and tap your feet and make up new languages, new sounds, new symbols. And if you ever forget, you try to remember that rainy afternoon, the colors of the sound, the flavor of the melodies, the shiver that zoomed up your spine and into the smile that he returned. Then you can function again, making it up as you go, knowing that you can, and even if you get it WRONG, it’s the best in the goddamned arsenal at the time and you dare the world to do it better. Miles-fucking-Davis better.

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    1. I want to learn how to play after reading this... so much good here... "you forget about being perfect and being wrong." "you try to remember that rainy afternoon, the colors of the sound, the flavor of the melodies, the shiver that zoomed up your spine and into the smile that he returned." AND last sentence... "Miles-fucking-Davis better." DO NOT LOSE this piece... this piece is genius and needs to be included in something longer... it's magic.

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    2. I know that feeling, I've been in those rooms, and took those flights without reservations or baggage. You got it exactly right!

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    3. Yup. I'm no musician, but I got there a few times. Well done.

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  25. Cottontail froze, heard the quiet rustle of the branches. Bobcat! Cottontail knew he couldn’t hide. He flew to the nearest tree and leaned against it, before Bobcat saw him.
    Bobcat looked at the apparently unafraid cottontail rabbit in surprise. “What are you doing, Brother Cottontail?”
    “I’m holding this tree up because the tree holds the sky and if I let go the sky will fall.”
    Bobcat considered this. As far as he knew, the sky had never fallen. But perhaps this rabbit had been holding up the tree for a long while. “How long have you been here?”
    “A very long time. I need to go get something to eat. Would you hold it just for a moment for me? I’ll be right back.”
    Bobcat decided this work was important and curtailed his own urge to eat. “Very well. But hurry back. I, too, am hungry.”
    “I’ll only be a minute. I can smell carrots in the human’s garden. Here, just lean right here against the tree. Got it?”
    “I do. This is hard work. Go.”
    Cottontail ran as fast as his feet would carry him and laughed only when he was very far away.

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    1. I couldn't stop, and went on with the story:

      Bobcat was growing tired. Felines were not intended for this sort of work. Eat, sleep and play, these were Bobcat’s reasons for living. He longed for a safe place for a nap and was beginning to drowse off when he heard a noise. His tufted ears and his active nose told him Coyote was near. Coyote was not Bobcat’s friend. Coyote had eaten Bobcat’s cousin. Still, Coyote was not stupid. Once she understood the importance of holding the tree that held the sky, she would be peaceful. Or so Bobcat hoped.
      Coyote’s nose revealed itself from the tall grasses. Her eyes opened wide when she realized that the story the scent told was true. There was a Bobcat, unafraid, within bounding distance. This was not how the game was supposed to be played. There were rules to be followed, and Bobcat was not playing by these rules of old.
      “What are you doing?” asked Coyote.
      “Very important work. I’m holding the tree that holds the sky.”
      Coyote looked at the sky, then at the top of the tree. Yes, all connected. “What happens if you let go?”
      “If I let go, the tree falls, the sky falls, and the world ends.”
      Coyote tilted her head and pondered. It made a sort of sense. “How long have you been doing this?”
      “Only a short while. It’s Cottontail’s job, but he was hungry and needed to eat. And so do, I am starving. I don’t suppose…”
      “Don’t suppose what?”
      “Would you hold the tree just for a little bit? Just long enough for me to find a packrat or other morsel?”
      Coyote decided this work allowed rules to be broken and agreed. She pushed against the tree exactly as Bobcat was doing. “Don’t be long. I need supper, too.”
      “I promise. Either Cottontail or I will be back quickly. Thank you.”
      Bobcat loped out of the riverbed and began his hunt. He laughed when he realized he didn’t have to go back at all. Munching on a large mouse, Bobcat curled into a ball and slept.
      Coyote was reasonable, but she was getting suspicious. Why had neither Cottontail nor Bobcat returned? Why did the weight of this responsibility fall to her? Didn’t she have enough to do, trying to keep her pups fed? She looked up at the tree top again. Winter-empty branches touched the sky, but did they hold it? What would happen if…
      Just as she considered this, the clumsy footsteps and the unclean smell of Man entered her reality. She should run. Still, Man had built a house. Surely he knew the importance of keeping the sky from falling. So Coyote waited.
      Man jumped back in amazement. “Brother Coyote, why do you not run?”
      “I am performing a very important task. More important than any fear I have of you.”
      The man rubbed his chin. “What is this task?”
      “I hold the tree that holds the sky up. If I let go, the sky will fall.”
      Man laughed. “That’s silly. The sky will not fall. It is not held up by trees.” He laughed more.
      Coyote grew incensed. “Silly human. You leave it to us animals to hold the sky? You will not take your turn?”
      “Animals?”
      “Yes, Cottontail, Bobcat, and I have all taken our turns. Now it is your turn so I can get food for my pups.”
      “Very well,” said Man. “I will hold it for a bit. Until Cottontail, Bobcat, or you return.” He placed his hands on the bark of the trunk. Coyote raced to find dinner for her hungry children. Coyote didn’t laugh. Coyote was glad to be free of the burden.
      Man looked at the sky and appreciated its blue. Man looked at the tree and longed for its summer foliage. Man laughed at himself for listening to Coyote. What if…. And he let go of the tree.
      And the sky fell.
      And the blue of the sky spilled into the lakes and the oceans. And Coyote never trusted Man again.

      864 words in 15 minutes may be a new record for me...

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    2. Loving this. A bit of Aesop, a lot of Leland.

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    3. When I was in college, a lot of people said my short stories were kind of like parables or fables. They always said this apologetically. I always wondered why. People don't say that anymore. Whatever. This is dope. I love fables. Just a thought, this would make an AWESOME children's book. I'm gonna read it to the girls tonight. I'll report back.

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    4. Oh, I'd LOVE hearing their feedback! Thank you!

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  26. The Painter, Part 3;


    Immersed in capturing the visuals of sadness, Eugene worked the paint into his canvas until he felt a chill in the room. He almost called out for Miriam to stoke the fire, bring him more coffee, until he remembered that she had gone. He set his brush in the old tin can and wandered the rooms they shared. He stopped in her doorway, conscious of paint splatters that might be on his shoes or clothing. More than once she’s complained, politely as was her way, of paint on her bedspread or furniture.
    Call it a legacy, he’d joke to her. It’ll be worth more when I die.
    Some days she found that funnier than others. Not much, though, lately. She looked older than her forty-three years, so much like her mother in her later days. Haggard, people would call it now. Lines forked the space between her nose and chin, gray sprinkled through her dark, silky hair. She was a healthy girl, zaftig, as the neighborhood gossips said, had been since childhood. A tragedy in her adolescence, the extra weight was now protecting her: cushioning her bones, saving her lovely face from premature wrinkling. Or at least it would have been saved if not for her tsuris over him. He tried to picture her with a baby. A baby, at her age, with that Joey character, practically a baby himself. He shook his head and trolled toward the kitchen to make another pot of coffee. If he could only remember where she kept the filters. He supposed he’d have to remember a lot of things now.

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    1. I'm really liking this story, and the characters... thank you for introducing me to the word zaftig... This story has legs... let it walk or run wherever it will take you, and us!

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  27. Everything is packed into it - all the weird missed kisses and dark, heartbroken nights - all that shit is there, waiting for you. You can tap into it, but you can't always turn the tap off and you start to feel redundant and there's nothing worse than that. I mean, there are worse things.

    Not everyone gets famous last words. Pancho VIlla said something close to: "Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something."

    I hope I don't get any. Whatever takes me, whenever it takes me, I hope it doesn't give me the chance to open my mouth because I'll just put my foot in there. I can't handle that pressure. Shit, Pancho Villa couldn't suck that up.

    I'll go quickly and quietly. Or loudly with much complaining. So be it. Buenas noches, amigos.

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    1. And that may be the best set of last words I've ever heard... "Buenas noches, amigos."

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  28. She rolled the beer around on her tongue. Bitter hops and a hint of citrus.
    "So," she began. Then wished she hadn't. Now she had to go on. "How was work?"
    It was a lame start, but something had to break the sodden silence.
    "Fine. You?"
    "You know. More of the same."
    Another silence. He stirred his coffee, staring at the swirling liquid as if it held the answer to an unknown question. She tried again.
    "Do you want to do anything this weekend? I think that new movie is coming out."
    "Sure."
    Another silence. She sighed and wished she could slip a Zoloft into his coffee.

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    1. Ouch. I think I dated him. Good realism.

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    2. Ha! I think a lot of people feel this in some way or have. Really deftly rendered. I especially like the phrase 'sodden silence'. This is real, also crafted very well. Cheers!

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  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. This comment was deleted because it was intended as a reply, but the author of said comment was clearly inept and unable to follow the simplest of instructions. He regrets any confusion that may result from this deletion.

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