Friday, February 27, 2015

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. 

She sits in a web of her own broken promises, trying to fit pieces - jagged edge to jagged edge. She feels the emptiness like a whisper in a crowd, it tugs at her and goads her, but it never tells her anything. Nevertheless, she knows the voice, she knows the score, and she will sit, fingers entwined, creating more lies to wrap herself in.

It started innocently. She lied because it was easy. She made promises she knew she would never keep - because it shut him up. And he was so shy, so innocent - a small pup of a man who used her untruths like a chew toy, worried them until the worrying supplanted the intent. To a point.

She smokes long, tall cigarettes, sending the smoke upward where it is chopped mercilessly by the ceiling fan. She looks out the window which looks into her neighbors' apartment. They never notice and they never do anything interesting. She watches flies circle the ceiling. One day, she finds the key that fits the leg shackles and smiles.

Now, there will be more interesting shows to watch.


Thanks for stopping by! I'll be out a lot of today but, rest assured, I'll be reading everything and commenting as I have time, so check back. Post your pieces on your blogs, telephone poles, passing pedestrians, etc. if you like...it's a fun web o' writing.

#2minutesgo

166 comments:

  1. “That kid Frankie has got to go,” Luanne said, ashing her cigarette into a crude clay ashtray. “I always thought he was a little sketchy, and I just got confirmation that he’s a fuckin’ fed.”

    “For real? He seemed aight to me.” Tim was also smoking, and sipping a Bud tallboy, behind the house. He knew Frankie, or at least he thought he did: a real chill kid from Benicia who loved metal, 40s of St. Ides, and ghetto Asian girls. Frankie made his share of runs and never tried to dick anyone over. But when Tim thought on it further, he wasn’t that surprised that Frankie was a narc.

    Luanne’s deep brown eyes seethed with an abiding rage that Tim found a bit fearsome, but also sort of sexy. “He’s a fuckin’ mole, and we got to take care of him,” she told him in a low, chillingly even tone.

    Tim lowered his voice almost to a whisper. “You mean kill him?”

    “No, I mean make him some fuckin’ soup when he’s sick. Yeah, we got to ice that motherfucker. You in? Jacob, Mateo, and Tosh are, but I’d rather have everybody on the same page so nobody’s trippin’ off that shit.”

    “If you say he’s a mole, I believe you.”

    Agent Frank Perretti thought everything was copacetic. A baby-faced 24 year old rookie fresh out of academy, he jumped at the chance to infiltrate a notorious domestic terrorist organization. Although he was a bit dismayed by the reality; he thought it was going to be more like a James Bond movie or an undercover police show. In reality, he was hanging out in the ghetto, across the bay from San Francisco, with a bunch of teenage squatters, who, apart from being armed, didn’t seem all that threatening. They were a rather insular group, though. He had to spend weeks on the streets, participating in several robberies and running a series of drug-related errands before they afforded him any meaningful level of acceptance.

    However, he was mistaken. One fateful Wednesday evening, he was hanging out at the squat with his new friends, and he had come to think of them as his friends, when the music went quiet, and after a lively, fascinating discussion of a planned act of terrorism, Tim changed the subject. “Oh, Frankie, speaking of which, there’s something I wanted to bring up, with you.”

    A very slow, creeping foreboding oozed through Frankie’s mind, as Tim continued, “Ya know, speaking of feds… I’m just gonna say it: we’re on to you.”

    “The fuck you talkin’ about, man?”

    “We know you’re a fuckin’ narc.”

    Sweat started beading on Frankie’s forehead. “Are you trippin’? I ain’t no fuckin’ narc, man! Who the fuck said I’m a narc?”

    “Luanne checked you out, she showed me the docs, Frankie. Or should I say, Agent Frank Perretti?”

    “Bullshit! She’s full of shit, dude!”

    “I, we, all trust her more than you. Right?”

    Mateo glared at Frankie, dragged his thumbnail across his throat, and agreed, “Snitches get stitches, you queso-eating hijo de puta.”

    Tim and Jacob forcibly pulled Frankie from his seat and dragged him out back, the others following. His pleas fell on deaf ears. Outside on the rough concrete, he was forced to his knees and blindfolded. The last thing he heard was Mateo telling him, “vaya con dios, motherfucker,” and pistols cocking, before he died.

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    1. Still really authentic with the voice. And there is a lot of story here as usual. These pieces are going to come together into something very interesting. I can't wait to see it.

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    2. "Queso-eating hijo de puta" for the win!

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    3. You share my fondness for Spanish vulgarities, eh? I hope to later find an opportunity to use the sentence, "yo pago tu abuelita chupar mi pito, porque ella no tiene los dientes."

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    4. So many real things and textures in this! Wow! I want more!

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  2. I like that a lot... and the smoke, chopped by the ceiling fan... genius. Also, "a small pup of a man who used her untruths like a chew toy, worried them until the worrying supplanted the intent. " Well done!

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    1. Yes, well done! I can practically hear the flies buzzing above the hum of the ceiling fan.

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    2. Love the description here. Great stuff.

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    3. I'm late to the show, but both of these pieces are awesome!
      I really liked this: "She sits in a web of her own broken promises, trying to fit pieces - jagged edge to jagged edge."

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  3. In Antwerp, in Belgium, there is a cathedral. Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal, Cathedral of Our Lady, in English. Near it is a restaurant, appropriately named In De Schaduw Van De Kathedraal, in the shadow of the cathedral.

    Legend has it that this establishment has been there some five hundred years or more, slaking the thirst for beer and other hungers, beginning with those who worked on the cathedral. There were women, and some men, who made their living catering to those hungers. Now, too.

    The American sat at the tiny corner table, ordered a beer, and wondered which vice would be answered first. If he were a betting man, the tall blond gentleman two tables over would be coming over to say hello just as the beer was delivered.

    The bells in the cathedral's steeple struck 12. The American waited. So did the blond man. And the shadow from the cathedral fell across them both.

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    1. This is such an awesome scene. I love little snapshot pieces like this. The flow is spot on, too, and the tension. Well played, brother.

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    2. I love that tension you create here. Left me wanting more. Nice!

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    3. I cry "Too short!" I mean understand the whole "Always leave 'em wanting more" but I think this is taking it a bit far Mister Leland! Lol! I loved it!

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  4. Jacob finally understood what his father was on about, all those years ago, once he had witnessed, and been party to, a certain amount of bloodshed. As a naïve little boy in Hunters Point, Jacob looked up to his old man the war hero, and wanted to join the Army like he did. His father told him, “hell no, you ain’t joining the Army when you grow up.”

    He poured himself another glass of bourbon and continued, “Your mama and I don’t bust our asses tryina save some money for your college so you can go get your fool ass killed. I been there and done that, son, three years in Afghanistan, two in Iraq. There ain’t no glory in goin’ to war so some ol’ white man can keep getting richer. It’s a crock of shit, and I ain’t having any of my kids go through that. You’re staying in school, and you’re goin’ to college.”

    Ron and Liza Rodgers had high hopes for their kids, that their lives wouldn’t be so full of drudgery and hardship, but neither lived to see them realized. Tormented by the physical and psychological scars of war, Ron drank and drugged himself into an early grave, turning up dead with a needle still in his arm. Two years later, Liza suffered a fatal stroke. The closest they got was seeing their oldest off to college in Chicago, but with both parents dead, their younger two children were on their own for a while. Little Luanne and Raymond fled the family home, fearing what might become of them if they became wards of a state that they knew didn’t give a damn about them. After days on the streets, they found an abandoned house in a desolate block of West Oakland. It was even more unpleasant than the rundown duplex they lived in before, but it was shelter. Raymond walked downtown to panhandle for food every day, while Luanne carted things in from their old place on BART and tried to clean and fix the place up, uprooting the dirty, neglected ‘for sale’ sign on the front lawn. It was a big house, occasionally used as a crash pad by crackheads, but before long, they met their first real friend: a skinny little white boy named Tim, about Luanne’s age, obviously not old enough to drive legally, but living in a car, which he moved around the neighborhood to avoid getting citations.

    It took a little while for them to become at all comfortable with each other, but they became friends, out of necessity if nothing else. Tim gave Luanne one of the guns he appropriated from his parents’ house, back in Elko, as assurance that he meant no harm, and readily helped her with chores that she couldn’t do on her own, or didn’t want to because she thought they were “boy stuff”, like killing spiders and trying to fix the plumbing and electrical; he stole a book about home repairs from the library, but eventually returned it. And he was very protective of his new friends, aggressively fending off the crackheads and perverts with a big mouth and a loaded Beretta.

    When Jacob came home from college, he was also initially suspicious of the white boy who had apparently befriended his little sister and brother. But they became fast friends, when Jacob learned how Tim had been helping and looking out for his siblings. They bonded over shared experiences: Tim’s father was also a veteran of the War on Terror who, after leaving the Army, still battled with post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse.

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    1. Very engaging and timely, and your dialogue is spot on. Do you have a web space for these longish creations? I don't always get a chance to read everything here on Fridays.

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    2. Thank you! No, I might could make a Tumblr for them, though...

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    3. Let us know where ya sticks 'em so we can go reads 'em. :)

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    4. Wow Danimal that was really well told! Awesome!

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  5. There must be a thousand ways to die. Boredom was the least attractive end as far as he was concerned. He was a climber. Had been since he was two years old. Climbed out of his high chair and nearly gave his mother a heart attack. Cell antenna towers were next. The challenge there wasn’t so much the climbing as getting past the alarms and fences. But today, today he was to reach the apex of his career.
    He laughed at himself. Apex. Good one.
    The Eiffel tower. Designed by a man who also designed brassieres. In the city of light. The air pollution was heavy enough today that it made the sunrise look like a Monet watercolor.
    He cracked his knuckles. Time to begin his ascent.

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    1. This is lovely piece. The first sentence. BAM. Reminds me of John D MacDonald who is one of my heroes. He was so good at simple, beautiful statements that fan out into infinity. You're good at it, too.

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    2. John D. is hella company to be in... almost as good as JD Mader. Thanks for the kind words.

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    3. I guess I'd rather die of fright than boredom, so falling off the Eiffel is probably a better way to go. Fun piece!

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    4. Mister Mader's right! That first line! You had me at "...a thousand ways to die." :)

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  6. He closes his eyes and waits for it. He knows what's coming and he can already hear the lip-smack slobbering - the soft animal sounds that send shivers down his spine. His stomach clenches and he waits.

    There are places he visits during times like this. Places that he can rely on, memories, invented pastures, quiet places where the breeze is the only thing that pushes the air.

    He hears whispers in his ear and grimaces. He thinks: I hate you. I wish you'd fucking die. I hope you suffer before you die. You motherfucker.

    The door opens and a shaft of light falls into the room. The other one. Goddamn it. But then there is shouting. Gunshots so loud he can't even hear himself scream. And then there are hands touching him. Smooth, soft leather gloves. They are asking him questions but all he can do is cry. Mouth the words: Thank you. Oh, thank you. Jesus, Christ ... thank you ...

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    1. Ahhh... powerful... the memories of a hostage, rescued, I think? The shaft of light is a beautiful metaphor.

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    2. Wow, man. Score one for the good guys. Bravo!

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    3. Wow. This one was a sock in the gut. Thank god for the calvary, but damn if the calvary isn't late sometimes.

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    4. Wow. This one was a sock in the gut. Thank god for the calvary, but damn if the calvary isn't late sometimes.

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  7. "Welcome home. You accomplished your mission far better than any of us dared imagine."
    "I'm so tired."
    "Yes, you must rest. I've arranged for a century--I know, you deserve longer--of time off, to recover."
    "I want to be on a moon, with no transponders, no communication of any sort. Just my brain and poetry and music."
    "I think that can be arranged. But before you go, do you think they had any idea that you were in fact an alien?"
    "One may have suspected it. James Tiberius Kirk."
    "We'll keep an eye on him. In the meantime, Spock, rest. There will be other missions."

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  8. Allison had been dreading this conversation for weeks. She had to take a shot of vodka just to get her nerve up. She sat Tim down in the dining room, because she didn’t want to do this in public, but she was a little too scared to do it in private. Her other housemates had grown distant, but she thought they would try and stop Tim if he got violent with her.

    Tim expected something bad, anyway. The way she asked to speak to him reminded him of being lectured by his mother and adults at school about his mostly-benign boyhood mischief. But he was still taken aback, when Allison told him, “I’m moving out. I’m really sorry, but I can’t keep doing this. I’m just not in love with the cause, or whatever. I want to grow up, have a career, kids.”

    He glared, trying to mask his hurt and disappointment. “Whatever. There’s someone else, isn’t there?”

    Allison hated to admit that he assumed correctly, but he did. “… yeah, okay, fine, there is someone else. His name is Kyle, he’s a mobile app programmer, he’s super sweet, and funny…”

    Tim snorted, nostrils flared angrily. “So that’s that, huh? You’re walking out on me, on everything we have, for some fucking brogrammer yuppie trash? I knew you were a spineless whore, but this is a new low. How much is he gonna pay you for this girlfriend experience? Are you gonna let him fuck you without a condom if he pays extra? Fine. Go be a consumer zombie. Just get the fuck out of my face with that shit. I need you like tits on a steer.”

    The reaction wasn’t as bad as Allison feared, but worse than she hoped. She would have liked to think there would be more sadness to it, that he’d try to convince her to stay. This is why she put off the conversation until the day she actually could move out, put all her things in a van Kyle rented and leave, hopefully never to return. Tim wasn’t really a bad guy, she’d miss some things about him. But he wasn’t particularly mature either. The longer she stayed after that, the more unpleasant he would become.

    At least he didn’t press her for info: she had no doubt that the more Tim knew about Kyle, the more likely he was to kill him. And Kyle was, especially compared to Tim, a softie; the kind of person that Tim would jump for his iPhone and cash on the street.

    That was just what she was hoping to escape by moving into Kyle’s small, well-appointed flat in North Beach. The physical and emotional struggles; the constant fear, dodging the cops, the violence, the hunger, sex work being her most lucrative source of income. She was only 19, but her youthful exterior belied a sense of being prematurely aged; she felt like an arthritic, world-weary 70 year old woman trapped in a nubile young body.

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  9. I don't have your talisman, man. I don't own any dreamcatchers - not the kind you're thinking about. I eat gluten like it's going out of style. I smoke just for the carcinogens. I fill the landfills and laugh. I rev my engine for no reason, spill gas when I fill up, chuckle.

    I don't give a damn if my chicken was raised in a tiny cage or in Eden. I don't vote, but I got complaints. I want my soda bigger, with more sugar and twice the caffeine. I want to get all them Muslims. I've never met one, so they must be evil.

    I want to watch my TV. I want to sip this mile-long beer. I want to eat this bag of chemicals. I want the orange dandruff on my fingers. I want to huff black mold and chew on insulation. I want to feel my teeth rot and cringe.

    I want so many things.

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    1. Now see, THIS will sell! It's a piece 99% of the populace can identify with, and the other 1% will laugh at. This oughta be made into a movie. And I love "orange dandruff."

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    2. Ehh, I can identify with some of the spite. When asked why, one of my favorite responses is "because fuck you, that's why."

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  10. "Stand here. Right there."
    "ANOTHER photograph?"
    "This one matters more than all the others. Your left arm is in what used to be West Berlin, and your right, in old East Berlin."
    "Really? right here?"
    "The Brandenburg Gate. Bach wrote concerti about this place. And lesser mortals built a wall. People died trying to get from one side to the other."
    "From East to West?"
    "Mostly, but some going the other direction, too. To be with family."
    "Is there anyone you'd risk dying to see again, if there were another wall?"
    "Only you, Liebling. Only you."

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  11. You bring the polish, I'll bring the spit. We'll lather it thick like chicken shit. We'll chew a while and, then, we'll sit, eyes cast to distant shores of wit.

    I ordered a bag of words, they ain't come yet. When they do, look out, the first row WILL get wet.

    My ankle got it twisted, my mind is sprained. I tried to help a brother out, but you just straight complained.

    Head sharp and elbows in, no one loses, no one wins. You take your chance and honor the choice - the needle makes the whole world spin.

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    1. I totally white-girl rapped this in my head. Reminds me a little of Soul Coughing's song "Down to This" - but in a good way (I love that song). Noice!

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    2. what you do to rhyme, it's a magical thing...

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    3. Thanks y'all. I white-girl rapped it in my head too, Jen. ;)

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  12. It was in the air – a vibration that permeated his parka, his new brown suit and dress boots. It forced itself through the pores of his skin and into his bloodstream, and made his hair jump on his scalp. As he was absorbed into that vibration, he became aware of an odd metallic tang on the back end of his tongue. And then a spear of heat pierced his spine between the shoulder blades, traveled down slightly and to the left. He knew this was the trajectory because of the tiny explosion of red down feathers that met his face as he looked down at himself.

    He tried to ask the obvious question, as most folks might in his position, but all that came out was a strangled “Whuh,” and it was only as he pitched forward in impossibly slow motion that the view behind him was revealed in the mirrored glass front of the bank he was about to enter. He fell, still clutching the keys with which he’d been entrusted for less than twenty-four hours. His first day as a bank manager would be his last, and while was proud to have made it exactly that far in an otherwise loser life, he now deeply regretted the path he’d taken to get there.

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    1. Wow! such strong images in two brief paragraphs! An angel bank manager... you know you've read something good when you accept that contradiction and want more!

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    2. My interest is piqued. Moar.

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  13. The loss of any good man or woman should be mourned the same, but that isn't the way it works. Every loss is different. The death of a good friend, a grandparent, a beloved cousin, a favorite aunt, an ex-lover from whom you've been long estranged, a parent...all of these losses touch you in different ways. Each is a unique kind of hurt, chipping away at the heart.

    There are other losses we mourn, too. Love affairs that don't work out. Dream jobs that turn into nightmares. Friendships that fade with time, distance, responsibilities...and new relationships. The loss of youth and that entails.

    All of these hurts gang up, conspire to chip away at the heart until there is nothing left but an empty shell of flesh and bone, devoid of all that makes a person a person.

    But these hurts, they don't know so much about the heart. They don't know that it isn't a static, brittle thing like a slab of marble that can be worn away bit by bit. They don't know that it's malleable, mutable, that all those chips they take away can...not be fixed completely, in some cases, but can be replaced or inexpertly mended, depending on the nature of the break.

    Love, laughter, friendship, and hope are some mighty amazing healers, after all.

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    1. Amen. Those four elements have gotten me this far, and helped me over some pretty amazing obstacles. Thank you for this!

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    2. Yep. Without 'em, we'd all be walking around dead. Nice piece.

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    3. Agreed. Something I've ruminated on many times. Well played.

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  14. “I think it’s best we don't see each other anymore, Joel,” Marina said, looking him the eye and then back into her coffee mug.

    “Oh, okay,” Joel replied, grinning his stupid grin that Marina once found endearing, but now recognized as definitively just stupid. Nevertheless, Marina hoped for more than this response her pronouncement. She wanted to see

    “That’s it? Just ‘Okay’?” she said, once more glaring through Joel with what hence called her “hot chocolate eyes.”

    “Well sure.You made it very plain my obsessive behavior where you’re concerned made you quite uncomfortable and I guess I’ll just have to live with that. Have you already found somebody else?” Joel said. For the third time since they sat at the table, he sorted the little packets of sweetener. This time in sequences of white, blue, yellow and pink.

    “Somebody else? There was never an Us to begin with for there to be a Somebody Else. And yes, I have found someone. Someone who’s not a lunatic like all my friends have pointed out to me.”

    “I remember you once called us soul mates. Do you remember that? That had to come from somewhere,” Joel said.

    “Yes, it came from me being lonely and vulnerable and I guess seeing something I wished to see. But I was wrong, so very wrong. And the only reason I’m here is because you called me here and you once meant something to me…as a cute and funny friend who shared interests with me, but just a friend, nothing more…and I felt I owed you a face to face explanation of why I don’t want to see you anymore. Please stop that.” Marina said, grabbing Joel’s hand as he reached for the sweeteners.

    “It really is okay, Marina. I understand. I’ve kinda found someone else, myself.” Joel said, pulling his cell phone from his jacket pocket. Marina stared slack-jawed as Joel pulled up a black and white photograph on his phone of an attractive young woman obviously from another era. And then he flipped through seven more of the same woman.

    “This is Maude. Maude Fealey.,” Joel said. “She’s an actress. Or was. Isn’t she beautiful? She may have the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen. And yes, I understand I may have transferred my obsession for you to a turn of the Twentieth Century actress, but I don’t want you to be jealous. You have nothing to be upset about, just as you said I have nothing to be upset about in our not seeing one another anymore. It just is.”

    Marina scraped her chair back from the table, tumbling sweetener packets from their holder. Joel ignored the pastel pile of have-to action waiting to happen and continued to flip and stare at Maude Fealey. Maude in a flower garland hairpiece. Maude in virginal white robes. Maude dressed as a newsboy. Maude in a high-necked Edwardian frock.

    “What the hell’s wrong with you? You do understand this woman is dead, right? That you can have no relationship with someone who was long dead well before you were born. That, even if she was alive, would probably never know you even existed,” Marina said.

    “Oh yes. I guess you could say I have an unhealthy obsession with this woman, or at least her image. But, that said, she will never reject me as you have, never say mean things about me as you have, never judge me solely over my obsessions and compulsions. I know she could never love me and I don’t love her. Not the corporal Her. Just the spirit, you might say, of my ideal woman. And, yes, I guess you could say she looks a little like you and I imagine has a voice like yours, but that’s all,” Phil said, his face splitting into his stupid grin.

    “Phil, she’s dead.”

    “Yeah, and so are we, Marina. So are we,” Phil said, placing the phone back in his pocket as he rose to leave the coffee shop. “Bye, Marina. Be seeing you.”

    And with that, he tapped his fingers against his chest.

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    1. Ah, this is a beautiful insanity. May Phil and Maude be very happy together.

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    2. It really is. I love the way the dialogue swirls around the anchor image of the sweetener packets. Really well done.

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  15. He was bred for responsibility, for serious, weighty things, for the solemn gift of the saving of lives. Not this. Yet he would because she asked him, not with words but with the sparkle of her green eyes and the toss of a curl and a smile. He stood on the grass where she commanded, squared his hips because she put her small hands there, held the tri-colored juggling scarves the way she showed him. It’s easy, she said, but insecurity fluttered his stomach. Of course it looked easy when she did it. She was grace and light and purity; his DNA had blessed him with a surgeon’s steady hands and a certain delicacy of touch, but he felt tainted by his past, a darkness that held him fast to the ground. Just try, she said on the edge of a musical laugh, a tease at his expense, and, flushing at the dare, he lifted one unsteady hand and released the silky banner toward the sun.

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    1. I have often credited you with musical writing... and now I see that ballet is part of your repertoire. This is beautiful in its simplicity, in its love.

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    2. Agreed. This is a beautiful piece, Laurie.

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    3. I'm always inspired by how you poignantly convey such fully fleshed worlds, lush with inhabitants, in so few lines. Beautiful writing, indeed.

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  16. Rutherford sits at the window and stares between and beyond the hospital bars. The grounds, empty except for spring grass, he envisions populated with ghosts that pursue him, drive him crawling into tunneled dream holes, down the sewers of Baltimore, under a ceiling of cobblestone streets.

    Oh, he knows them well, these ghosts drooling a paleness of blood remembered. He knows their fleet steps as they juggle the memorabilia of his tormented life, a horrid collection of reminders conserved against his will. All those shiny crimes against his sanity.

    “Those ghosts,” he tells Dr. Sang, without shifting his eyes from the parade on the grass.
    “They’re real. They won’t go away.”

    Dr. Sang pats him on the shoulder. He smiles to defuse Rutherford’s fear. “You are safe here, Jim.” Then he offers Rutherford water in a white paper cup half full. Into his palm he places several meds of different colors. “Take these,” Dr. Sang gently orders him. Rutherford pretends to ingest the pills he locks in his hand. He gulps down the water.

    Outside, a teeming April rain drives the ghosts scampering for cover against the stone wall.

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    1. Man, I like this piece. Fractured imagery to match the mind state. Crazy or no? Aren't we all? Brilliant, Sal.

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    2. This is so filled with beautiful contradictions... "paleness of blood remembered..."Shiny crimes against his sanity." I really like it.

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    3. If you write, you're nutso. If you write flash fiction, you're wee nutso. Hey, I don't mind. Holding on to sanity means holding on too tightly to the imagination balloons. Take away my pen and keyboard and I'm sailing on the Seine again!

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    4. Beautifully done! That all his hauntings are based on memories.

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  17. Raymond spent weeks honing his rhymes, before he recorded them. Even onto Mateo’s cheapo rig: a stolen Pro Tools interface, hooked up to a late-model MacBook. But Mateo programmed a raw, stripped-down drum-and-bass groove in, and hooked up a mic to the interface, so they took turns spitting rhymes:

    “Yeah, what’s good y’all, we comin’ correct on the mic y’all…

    “Yea, comin’ rugged and raw, from tha durrty streets of Oakland.

    “First things first, yo, I’m a lover not a fighter, but I run with a rough crew….

    “No joke, I’m up in this piece, reppin for ol’ Mexico…

    “Yo, we got El Verdugo, the butcher, reppin for Sinaloa….

    “Damn straight chico, I’m representin’ for my vatos, from the Mission to Pico Rivera, to Sacramento, to Chicago, to Miami and New York!”

    That part was improvised, to keep an easy, casual flowing beat, before they started dropping the rhymes that were more rehearsed:

    “Yo, just keep it quiet, when I’m on the mic! Cuz I’m the young up and comer, sellin the blunts and the vics…

    “And I got the steel, puto, if you wanna pick a fight. My posse’s tight, and we runnin’ the game…

    “I see how you represent, yo, and it’s a shame…

    “Bougie-ass rappers better watch they step…

    Jeanette had been hanging back, letting the boys warm up the mic, before she spit a few bars:

    “Cuz Jeanette’s on the set and I’m comin’ correct, so don’t disrespect this boss bitch, comin’ straight outta Oaktown, and my set is straight down for whateva, we flow like forever and a day, and we don’t give a fuck what you gotta say about it…”

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  18. Must comment on the Mader opener. Brilliance.

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohhh... you surprised me, and I think the last line is genius.

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    2. Yeah, the last line is genius. Took me a minute ... in a good way. This is an awesome piece.

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    3. Sorry for the deletion. I decided to enter the piece in a contest and it can't be published anywhere, even on a blog.

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  20. As the sun dipped below the horizon, the inky twilight wrapped the world in intriguing shadows. Overhead bats began to swoop attacking their unseen pray. The sent of warm earth and evening fragrant plants tickled in Marie's nostrils. It was in this time between night and day did she feel most alive. Truly she was a edge witch. Dancing between what was good and bad, wrapping the experience around her like a cloak of protection. This evening was like no other, this evening she was going to take things to a whole new dimension.

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    Replies
    1. Beautiful... and I want to keep reading to know what sense "new dimension" is intended... you hooked me in!

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    2. My heart did a happy little flip when I saw you had posted! And then I actually read what you wrote...such lovely, evocative descriptions. Love this. <3

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    3. Ditto! Good to see ya here. And I'm digging the piece. Take things to a whole new dimension, lady!

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    4. Aww you makes me blush.

      This is going to be a start to one of the ghost stories I am writing for Tales from the beyond 2!

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    5. How lovely to read you here, Kristina! Looking forward to reading more of your ghosties.

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  21. "Welcome back, old friend." Tyler's face veiled the pain he felt in his feet. He'd been pacing for an hour waiting for her and just as she arrived his soles reacted as if he'd walk the Camino de Santiago overnight.

    "Who are you calling old? You're the one that looks ancient Ty. Haven't you been keeping up with your meditation and nightly swims or maybe you've given up on sleeping with much younger woman."

    Her smile was coy as she appraised him. He knew what she was looking for. Was there a hint of the desire he'd once felt for her? A better question might have been how long would it take for them to rip each other's clothes off.

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    1. This is sweet... comfortable romance is the best of all...

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    2. I really like the playful banter. And I agree with Leland. :)

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  22. For some reason Yvonne Hertzberger can't post. This is from her:

    First the monuments toppled, one by one, pieces flying, chunks spewing ancient dust. The sledges worked their destruction with wanton alacrity, not caring where their heads met the ancient faces. With each blow the pain was felt world-wide, as cultures and history died, wound by wound, memory by memory. Then came the books, millenia of wisdom, history, ways of understanding our universe silenced by flame and smoke. Can you hear the cries of those ancient souls? Can you hear God weep? This is what Hell is.

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    Replies
    1. Heartbreaking, and sad that is a reflection of the news... "wanton alacrity" is my favorite phrase....

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    2. Yeah. This is a piece with some serious weight to it. I like it. Broad, but focused like a laser. The last two sentences are STRONG.

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    3. You put into words what my heart was feeling!

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  23. The reactor cores were as cold as the methane snow that covered the USS Malika. Beyond the mile-deep drifts, Saturn filled most of the sky; its rings like a planetary peplum shirt, whirling around its waist, almost edge-on when seen from Titan.

    QP1D toggled the monitor back on, studying the crash site from above: the orbital satellite's superconductive alloy circuits still managing to eke out a steady trickle of power from Cassini's solar sails. The once-manned lander was on emergency power now, running on its hydrocarbon conversion plant; the service droid needing no energy-hungry life-support, and the millennia-dead pilot no longer being an issue – even to the most hopeful of automatons.

    Huygens had had a good run though. QP1D – the recommissioned Venus orbiter droid - had served him well, paring him away piece by piece until only his brain remained, the rest of his body being used as the last choice fuel for the bio-cells that had kept him alive. But even that most final resource had been finite and now that last precious part of him was gone, leaving the ship and its sole officer alone and stranded – yet another victim of Man and his failed battles against Nature.

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    1. This is good stuff... I like the idea and the execution. Are you going to expand it? And you taught me a new word today: Peplum. thank you.

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    2. Thank you, Leland. My knowing 'peplum' probably says more about me than you... but every day's a school day, right?

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    3. If it isn't, I'd better be dead :-)

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    4. Yeah, I'm digging this, too. Partly because I couldn't write something like this, mostly because it's good. :)

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    5. Awww, shucks, Dan. You can write anything, I reckon.

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    6. You're gonna swell my head, brother. ;)

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  24. The cold was acid to him. It ate away at his bones, his insides. For weeks he'd been cut off from the world by the blizzard, by the failure of his internet. He didn't really mind at first. He'd read almost fifty books. Plenty of firewood. The food should last twice as long now.

    The cold should keep the body from smelling for now, but he needed to figure out what to do with it when spring thawed everything. He plunged his hand into the bank of snow, felt her solidness beneath. When he pulled his hand out, it was covered in crystal diamonds.

    It was a shame, really, that she was so good at Scrabble.

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    Replies
    1. Wow! I love this piece. I was reading along, feeling it, then you kill it with that last line. Now I am jealous. ;)

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    2. Nice writing! And a timely subject for this winter. It gave me a chill in more ways than one.

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  25. Yo, I got two fists, but they ain't made of iron and steel - they're rather delicate things, not much padding, small, thin bones. These fists grind into tired eyes. They clench, unclench - ache for no reason.

    I'm not a lover or a fighter, I'm a back room, nervous nail-biter. But I got these fists, see? They feel like parchment - it don't matter, mindless chatter.

    Put your fist up and let it mean something. Or let it swing, a gentle pendulum. Break the cycle. It's not right that you should flinch just hearing the word, just imagining when other fists blocked out the light.

    Saying it's your job don't make it right.

    Boss.

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    Replies
    1. Interesting interplay between the physical makeup and the use/abuse of the hands, and the psychology behind that use/abuse. I even get an overtone of slavery in the emotions, the play of the words.

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  26. Friends, relatives, and neighbors filled the yard as horse and buggies framed the spring blossoms of wild cherry trees and crocus. A young boy with a hand woven wide-brimmed hat sat sharing a bale of straw with a kitten. Women lined the tables with platters of cold beef, coleslaw, pepper cabbage, prunes, applesauce, and cheese. Behind them in the center is a red barn with an oak tree leaning toward the cupola. It reaches out its long limbs attempting to protect it from time and age. Barns were the heart of the community. One felt the heartbeat of a farm by the outward and inward appearance. Today the barn was full.

    The last time so many gathered was after the fire. Rumshpringa some said. Sweat dotted Samuel Beiler’s brow and a lump in his throat made the truth more difficult to swallow. Rumshpringa, was a chance to experience greater freedom. A tipped over outhouse, meeting a few English girls, but ultimately determining between the worldly and the church was everyone’s final decision to enter adulthood. Was this the effect of independence?

    Grasping onto the wooden pegged ladder leading to the hayloft, each step rekindled his fires of shame. Most would have been shunned for running away. Youth and innocence protected young Eli from fault and judgment.

    Secrets held the guilt and heavy main supports of the rafters. Nevertheless, every barn has a mouse or two that sneak in and hide underneath the hay. A few are expected to be present. After all, it is taught to turn the other cheek.

    Walking outside, a horse neighed a warning. The Bishop stands off to the side with the Book of Tobit in his left hand. He lifts the sweet bread with raisins and says, “Pour out thy bread and thy wine on the tomb of the just, and give not to sinners.”

    Looking upward a stubborn gray cloud casts a shadow over the cedar shingle roof. Pine planks were of perfect craftsmanship, six sides outlined the animal stalls, and a small cabinet shop jutted from the southwest corner. The community of brethren took eleven days to rebuild the massive structure. It could be seen from miles away and a curiosity had developed from the English neighbors.

    Was it curiosity that led those astray?

    Questions of honesty and answers of deceit laid the foundation that would protect and bring order to the community. Feeling like the freshly planted rows with seeds waiting to sprout, all join together in a circle.

    The brethren nurture and protect as a breeze of sweet grass fills the air providing peace, nourishment, and security. That is what one always hopes for. Peace. A final peace. No one is perfect except the good lord above.

    Yesterday it only took eleven hours to piece, sand, and line with paper the six sided pine box. Extra care was given to add two pieces with hinges that fold down and open on both sides to allow for easier viewing.

    No one had seen the wheat colored Western Union telegram that the policeman delivered. It burned as quickly as the barn had last year. The black typed words are etched into memory forever like the dark knots in the grains of wood. The United States Army regrets to inform you that Private Eli Beiler was killed….

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    1. Ginger, this is FANTASTIC... the symbology and the language... wow! and I'm really glad you're here!

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    2. This IS fantastic. And the first time we've had an Amish story, I believe. My folks live in Amish country. I love the feel of this. Very authentic. The ending twists the heart.

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    3. Amazing, Ginger. Quite phenomenal. You're one heck of a writer.

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  27. Who are you trying to call? They won't answer, they will ignore the ringing for as long as it takes. So much easier than owning one's mistakes. Glue it together, but it still breaks - you'll be shocked by how long it takes.

    Who were you looking for, they can't tell. They like your look, but can't stand the smell. They peep lost eyes from the dark-earth well. So many trees we need to fell.

    We'll rustle them words, you know we will. Some we'll publish, some we'll kill. And we'll keep trying, trying still ... and you still won't give two fucks.

    Look for the words, they'll fall like dead ducks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You now have my mind working in rhyme... this one is especially good....

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    2. Thanks, brother. I don't know why they sometimes rhyme. My mind likes rhymes, I guess. ;)

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    3. Reckon so. I've written a LOT of lyrics. Somewhere, Pat must have a closet stuffed with old wrinkled papers. ;)

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    4. Some day, I want to hear the story behind those songs... I listened to "And then he kissed me today" and was amazed... but that's true of everything of yours that I've listened to, so far...

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    5. Thank you kindly, brother. :)

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  28. You stood there in the half- light blowing monkey kisses and elephant hugs.
    The moon is my witness, you were there.
    You smiled with a love so rare, pure, though I glimpsed an unfathomable sadness in the depth s of your soul.

    I reached out to you, outstretched arm and fingers but I couldn’t quite reach.
    I was drowning in my perspiration, my back pushed into the mattress by an invisible force.
    I shouted your name but you didn’t hear me in the silent storm.

    An ethereal glow surrounded you, made you golden.
    You reached for my hand, we almost touched. A few inches more…..they might as well be miles.
    A frisson, blue lightening, it’s not enough….then you’re gone. I press your monkey kiss to my cheek…..

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    Replies
    1. Goosebumps all over... this is good! "The moon is my witness" is brilliant... and a perfect title for the collection of your poetry and short stories... you also used one of my all time favorite words, "frisson."

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    2. Yeah, this is magical. Love it. And, this has nothing to do with this piece, but has anyone else but me noticed the 'half-light' phenomenon? I've used it. I see it all the time. Not a criticism at all, I just find it interesting. It's a phrase so many people use, but I've never heard anyone SAY it. ???

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  29. Hoops, hoops. All of us jumping through hoops hoops.
    Got to get that credit up, get a mortgage, own the dream. Nobody whispers it ain’t what it seems.
    Answer the questions, pee in a cup, hoard seeds for survival and never give up.
    Except meat, carbohydrates caffeine and fat. Jump through the next one and the one after that.
    Fill out these papers, sign here and there. Give us your thumbprint and never look back.
    Take your prescriptions if you don’t wanna die. Smile at the terror and never get high. The judge and the jury ain’t made of your peers.
    And all the hoop holders got no time for your fears.
    Don’t get nostalgic and don’t live alone. Background checks are now required; pay the fee or just get fired.
    Love is the answer but yoga’s better.
    Sum up your wishes in a tweet, not a letter.
    Text me your troubles; scroll down for the answer.
    Sign the petition and hope for the change
    And the hoops just get higher to measure your pain.

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    Replies
    1. a beautiful summary of a sad situation...

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    2. I LOVE this. It's like Dr. Seuss for thinking adults. This line especially: "And all the hoop holders got no time for your fears." Awesome, lady.

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    3. This is effing brilliant! Brava!

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  30. The cat was staring at the door again. It blew my mind. She did it every day, Monday through Friday, between 6:30 and 7 pm. She just sat on her brisket on the back of the sofa and stared.

    I had tried petting her. She would chirp at me, squeeze her eyes, and go back to her vigil. I tried coaxing her with treats that she would look over to acknowledge, then turn back to the door. I'd toss the catnip toys that jingled to get her attention. LAl to no avail.

    At some point during her vigil, she would tense. She would sit up and paw at the air as though something hung there near her head. She would chuff and chirp and purr. It wouldn't last long, maybe 30 seconds. Then she would hop down from the sofa and come bug me for that treat I had offered.

    She had been Mark's cat before the cancer got him. She greeted him as he came home from work every day of his life, and his spirit every day after, until she passed through the veil to join him.

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    Replies
    1. Oh wow....this is a cool story... and a completely unexpected ending... big emotional impact and well written!

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    2. My cat did that. Waited for me every day. I never thought about what would have happened if I'd gone first. Really like this piece.

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    3. Oh wow. Was not expecting the ending. Beautifully illustrates the relationship between a cat and her person. <3

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  31. What drove us east from our coastal home in the late fall near got us ensnared in the mountains that winter. But we stumbled on the last clear pass with days to spare, vindicated though much depleted. Descending the lee side of that great range, scanning an impossible horizon, we accepted our reprieve with some grace.

    "What now?" you said.

    "We find some place and hunker down till spring, if there is a spring. We might be in the rain shadow, so the snows could well spare us, but don't bet on no easy ride."

    In time we came to a place of flat light and echoless sound—a place so dead it seemed haunted not by ghosts but by its lack of ghosts. Cold, absent, god-abandoned. Remote as a deviant comet and more pitiless.

    Clapboard walls, roof of tar, thin aluminum windowframes, yardless and forlorn on a treeless plain, its eggshell walls its own piteous windbreak—stoic before the baying lupine gales of endless prairie nights, and patient for morning.

    Which did arrive.

    A dilute lemon sun struggled through a vaporous sky, the wolfpack howl dispersed by the voluted mists, the only sound now the iron clang of crows at a forge without shadows.

    You smiled for the first time in weeks. I took your hand and held it, marveling at the avian bones.

    "We have a little food. Dry stuff. And water," you said.

    I tried to smile too, but my face was a mask.

    "And I have you," I managed.

    We rested up a fair while, weeks even, and what our bodies regained we paid for with disquieted minds; what replenished our thirsty blood only drained our ruined spirits, helped untether those thoughts best left stowed and tied.

    My heart is an alloy; it loves as well as it might but is shot through with something igneous, something ferrous. Only the blast furnace of your own heart will distil the purity of it, forge of our union a thing less friable, less ephemeral. O our savage steelbound hearts.

    While the timid sun tried each morning to revive the world, we sensed the tireless chill of the future as it unearthed our trail at last and began slowly to track it. What manner of thing is this? What is its essence? It's the story's ending, doubling back, heedless of narrative arcs, avid and greedy in its zealous moment, wanting to finish, wanting it done, desiring to end this thing now.

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    Replies
    1. Damn. I just...damn. That's all.

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    2. Double damn! This is an epic piece brother. A masterpiece, even.

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    3. Yeah, what Laurie said... I thought "Cold, absent, god-abandoned. Remote as a deviant comet and more pitiless." would be my favorite part until I hit the last paragraph. Wow.

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    4. Dilute lemon Moon? Crikey. I'm dreaming of the Donner party. Awesome!

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    5. Exactly, precisely what Leland said. "a place haunted not by ghosts but by lack of ghosts" is such a great descriptor. Awesome piece.

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    6. Whoa. *bows down at your feet*

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  32. I can’t fix this. I can’t fix you, I can’t fix me, I can’t fix the disaster that seems to befall humanity when the two of us are shoved into one small place, jagged little borders sparking together. Even MacGyver, with his duct tape, twine, and Krazy Glue can’t put poor Humpty together again, can’t make whole what now lay in shards around me. I sit among the broken pieces, their clean edges twinkling under the lights, and letting my vision blur I start to see patterns, new ways pieces can be arranged to form if not perfection at least something more habitable than the tender shell that used to house my heart.

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    1. But .. but he's MacGyver ...

      Sorry, bad joke for an emotive and powerful piece of writing. I really like the pop culture pop outs. Mac, Krazy Glue - those details. You're so good at it. If you'd written 'super glue' or 'epoxy', it would change the whole piece. That says a lot.

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    2. I like it... and I like it even more when I read it aloud...

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    3. Love the touch of humor with MacGuyver and his duct tape. Love the hopefulness at the end, too.

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    4. Another beautiful piece of writing.

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  33. We walked the path together for a time, you teaching me what you thought I needed to know, me humoring you because I thought I knew it all already. The birds sang and the flowers nodded in recognition; the clouds ran across the sky, leaving blue in their wake. And each time I walk the path you are by my side, your voice guiding me, laughing at a joke we once shared, teasing me out of an old resentment, telling me it never really mattered, anyway. But it all mattered, mainly because I can’t get that time back. Even in my dreams it’s nothing but the misfiring of brain cells, dissipating the moment I wake, feathery waves of nerve ending fibers reaching for each other across their synapses but never touching.

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    Replies
    1. Wow, this one starts off at such an easy pace and ends with such gentle ferocity. That last sentence....

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    2. All of it is poetry, but especially this: "...feathery waves of nerve ending fibers reaching for each other across their synapses but never touching."

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  34. "We got us a log jam, boys!"

    They heard it all up and down the line. They knew what it meant and that it was supposed to be funny and it sharpened their hatred to a razor edge. They sweat through their aprons, the sweat leaked down their foreheads, escaping the hair nets they never got used to. Because he bought the cheapest kind. Of everything.

    "LOG JAM!"

    They did not work faster. They did not work slower. They wondered again why it was that he was there at all. What function did he serve? And how in God's name could they be expected to stand and sweat all day for $9 an hour when he drove a German car and always looked fresh out the dryer.

    No matter. It was not for them to question. They worked, licked salt from their upper lips. Felt their backs seize, grateful that later they'd be too tired for hate.

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  35. the promises we made
    under quarter-moon light
    those many years ago
    waves lapping from the lake
    at our bare feet
    stars touched your eyes
    a meteor fell as I kissed your eyelashes
    I should have known then
    that a falling star
    harbors no good will for love

    I stand now
    at the same lake
    a ring of gold in my hand
    you gave it to me
    one Christmas
    the ring
    you gave my hand back
    too
    on Independence Day
    you never got the joke
    that we broke apart on
    Independence Day

    I fling the band of gold into the water
    I expect fireworks or
    the hand of the Lady in the Lake
    instead it plinks
    and the mirror water ripples
    touching yesterday today and
    maybe tomorrow

    I am single
    but I am not alone

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    Replies
    1. There is so much strength in this piece. I love the language, too. This: "a falling star harbors no good will for love"? - BAM!

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  36. RIP Spock....inspired by Leland...:)

    “Members of the Council, as you know, we have reached a critical period. And events across the galaxy in these troubled times have demanded that we re-evaluate the context and goals of the “Prime Directive.”

    Representative Walker piped up from the front row. “The Prime Directive? We don’t need no stinking prime directive. If I can handle a hundred thousand protestors and gut higher education, I can handle terrorists all over this crummy galaxy. He turned to the assembly. “Am I right?”

    Sit down, Walker. You’re not a candidate for a seat on the high council yet.
    “But the New Yorker said—“
    “Mr. Walker!”
    “Okay, okay, I’ll sit.”

    Another, more feminine hand, rose from the audience. “Sir? Is the Prime Directive the one about doing unto others and turning the other cheek?”
    “No, it’s the one about…”
    Another hand shot up. “I know! I know! The right to bear arms, right?”
    “No—now if you will just….”

    “No Taxation without Representation!” Cried another. “But Sir, with all due respect, do you have any idea at all how the price of Dilithium Crystals has gone up since the Federation’s inception? You can’t run an outfit like this on cow chips, you know. Somebody’s got to pay for it.”

    “Equal rights!” The representative from Klingon rose to a towering height. “And hypoallergenic uniforms! The directive must be revised to include duplicates of the cloaking device for individual personal use. I have a licensing deal presented to me by the lobbyist from the Harry Potter empire and she says…”

    “Shut up!”

    The head council inhaled deeply. “Mr Kahn. Can you refresh our memories as to the exact text of the Prime Directive?”

    Kahn arched a delicate eyebrow and bowed to the assembly. “I don’t ordinarily do this, but,“ he added with a flourish of his cape. “:The Prime Directive expressly says: Kill them all and let your pitiful God sort them out.”

    “Time is running out?” The budget director rose from his chair. “I say we revise the Doomsday clock. According to my calculations…”

    From a corner, the Empath raised a tenuous hand. Sweat beaded on her brow.
    “Could somebody interpret, please? Lady Gaga? Gaga rose and clutched the Empath’s hand. Her soaring soprano echoed through the hall.

    “She says: For the love of the godhead, Interfere with this civilization, aliens and anyone. And all ye who venture here. We need all the help we can get’.”


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    1. THIS IS BRILLIANT! LADY GAGA, HARRY POTTER, AND STAR TREK! I have died and gone to heaven. Well done.

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    2. This is absolutely amazing! Socio-political and pop-culture and humor and barbs. Completely awesome.

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  37. You gotta get you some sun, son. D vitamins. That's the shit right there. You take your D vitamins, you get some sun, ain't nothing gonna get you. Not cancers, no flus, no sneaky heart malfunctions.

    You're pale, boy. You look frightened when you're pale. That ain't good for you either. Get out there. Just stand in it. Let it wash over you. Jesus, do something. You smell like fish oil. I told you, just take them D's.

    You sit there like a stunt trout, boy. All gapey-mouthed and slimy. Sun'll burn that slime off. You get out there in that sun. Get them D's. Me? Shit, I don't need nothing I don't already got. Answers, boy. See? I got the ANSWERS.

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    Replies
    1. all you gotta do is LISTEN and DO AS YOU'RE TOLD... Yeah, no. And you make the point brilliantly.

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  38. "Oh, I'm not actually a human, sir."

    "... I beg your pardon?"

    "I am a robot designed to simulate a human, an android, or rather, gynoid. Custom-built, based on a Model GT-5000 reinforced titanium chassis. Here, stick your finger in my mouth, I don't mind."

    The shapely young woman opened her mouth and stuck out her tongue, as if so a doctor might inspect her tonsils. Cautiously, the man stuck his right index finger into her mouth, almost to the second knuckle. Her mouth felt soft and warm like a real woman's, but much drier. She gently sucked for maybe a second or two, before pushing his finger out.

    She smacked her lips and said, "You had samosas and chutney for lunch. The fabric from which the pockets of your pants are made are 20% polyester. You have about 59 cents in change on you," she smirked, "and you didn't wash your hands after you last urinated."

    The man gaped, amazed, as the gynoid added, "I have chemical analysis sensors in my oral cavity. I can also shrug off most small-arms fire, and," she giggled, "If you get me real drunk, I can balance a car on my nose."

    ReplyDelete

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