Friday, March 20, 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. 

The garbage truck doesn't care about you, doesn't care if you're tired. The driver might, but he might not - he's probably tired, too. Sure, it's easy to look around you and see 'just miss' flashes of mystery; it can even make you question your sanity. It will all wash out in time, that you need to believe - not because it's true, but because life is too hard not to believe it.

Today is a day for smiling into the moment, filling every space you see with cheer; whether it's real or not, you owe it to the world. Not every day, but today. Because one day is something you can wrap your mind around. Like basic arithmetic. It doesn't have to be hard unless you make it hard. And that's a lie, too, but today is a day for letting the world smile and lie to you. You ask me? The world throws back pretty powerful reflections. 


Thanks for stopping by! I'll be out MOST of today (working, no computer) 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

151 comments:

  1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierMarch 20, 2015 at 7:26 AM

    Love your concept Dan....and sometimes "one day" is all we have, so make the most of it.

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    1. I love this too. It genuinely made me stop and think. Mader, you going all self-help guru on us? Seriously, though, this is exquisitely put.

      (I'll be back later to read everyone's pieces.)

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    2. I love it, too... and "not because it's true, but because life is too hard not to believe it," touches my heart... thanks for this.

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    3. Yep, those of us that can avoid looking too far into tomorrow are better equipped to smile today.

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    4. Brilliant piece. Love this so hard.

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    5. and perfectly put for the first day of Spring!

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    6. Thanks guys. Wrote this when I was barely conscious. I was hoping I'd come home to find it made some sort of sense. ;)

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  2. I don’t have to tell you.
    I could just slip away
    and I doubt you’d notice.
    But I’m leaving. Hell,
    I’ve already left.
    No, don’t say anything,
    whoever the heck you’re
    s’posed to be.
    I know what I’m doing.
    I’ve done this a dozen times
    before and the world
    kept turning.

    It’s not you, it’s me. Okay,
    it’s a little you, too.
    But you haven’t done anything.
    You’ve just done…nothing.
    And so have I. That’s why
    I’m burning us down,
    to finally do. Just watch
    this space. Or don’t.
    Either way, our world
    keeps turning.

    Dammit, the world still turns.

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    1. Ahhh.... "the world still turns." Beautiful and painful. Thank you.

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    2. How many little good-byes, little deaths we face.

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    3. "Just watch this space. Or don't." Love this.

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    4. I love the line Laurie mentioned, too. The whole thing is dope. That last line kills. Awesome.

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    5. Agree with everyone else. No histrionics, which I think always works better.

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    6. lots of little understated gems in this.

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  3. Nancy DeCilio GauthierMarch 20, 2015 at 7:37 AM

    Gather around children, free lessons today and maybe only today. You hear people talk - it gets under your skin. Don't let it - as my father used to say: what do you care what they think, they don't pay your rent. Then there's the kids coming home from school dealing with bullies: always, always let them know it means they have something of substance that the other kids are jealous of. Your kids have love, have discipline, have consistency, have a logical approach to life taught by you. Those bullies, have selfish parents more concerned with name brand clothing than giving their kids something of substance that will last a lifetime while the jeans and sneakers are rotting away in a landfill. When someone scoffs that they don't believe in love at first sight - just smile and embrace your long loving marriage or relationship and try not to pity them too much. They will never understand the depth of loyalty you and your partner share. Kill someone, your lover will help you bury the body and give you an alibi - ditto you for them. March with courage into the passage of time and embrace the good memories, honor the bad memories as learning experience - just LIVE and do it well.

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    1. I love this... and the power of love that shines through. Now, tell us where you buried the body. :-)

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    2. Yeah, this is excellent. And dropping the 'murder' in there works so well. Loving this piece.

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    3. Yeah, I was lulled into a false sense of security and then I read the part about killing and my face was all like *you have to imagine it, no emoticons on here*

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    4. I really like the immediate implication that these lessons may have to be paid for at a later date.

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    5. Nancy DeCilio GauthierMarch 21, 2015 at 4:02 AM

      Thank you everyone !!

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  4. In her mind, the potholes in Newark just kept growing, their edges crumbling catastrophically, the mad relentless traffic never allowing a single moment for city crews to go about their patch work. She swore she would never drive in Newark again, and funnily enough, it came true.

    ***

    I am a girl from the valley with a penchant for espionage. I sit for hours in a wan little Chinese restaurant, waiting for the ruination of the world, and I eavesdrop the customers. There is little food left now, but some rest here from habit and consume litres of jasmine tea while faking normalcy. A younger woman sits with an older man. I don't know their relationship, might take a stab at therapist and patient, but I can tell there's a mutual respect and platonic love even, passing between them like a subliminal eyeblink memory of something better.

    The waitress brings fortune cookies, a signal they must leave soon.

    She breaks hers open and sighs. He breaks his and reads, and winces.

    He says, "This would be a good fortune if I had anything other than nightmares these days."

    She says, "What does it say?"

    He reads: "Your dream-maker is making your dreams real."

    "Ouch."

    "What does yours say?"

    "Nothing."

    "Huh?"

    "I don't mean it's blank. I mean there's no fortune in there at all."

    "You've been shortcha—"

    And that's the moment the doors blow inward and the bedlam arrives at last, to annihilate us all.

    ***

    Many times and in many places an old man sits on a porch to watch the sunset and listen to the crickets, and this time is no different, except this night there are no crickets. It's a quiet scene,the gold warmth in the window a contrast to the cold blue-green of the porch light. Daubs of bloodred dimming in the darkening west, and out on the dirt road an ancient GMC pickup idles, its presence betrayed by twin pencil beams and the grainy lines of its own hunched and reptilian profile. It came here from some other place, from swamp murk and levees, from out of an industrial night blue-black as tumultuous domestic secrets. And its lone occupant is biding his time. The old man smokes and waits too; he's not going anywhere. They await full dark for the end game.

    ***

    We all stood around on the boardwalk, feeling the gravity waves of the ferris wheel at our backs, no longer sure of our place either here or in the world itself, and then he came striding from godknowswhere, some feeder street, an open car door, some grim nest, polished brogues on sanddrift wood, his jacket lifting behind him like dark wings, his gaze though never lifting, his pale Siberian eyes locked on our timid huddle like a sidewinder tracking heat.

    ***

    Green things no longer grow. All is stark now. In the muted forest shroud, perched amid blackened needles and withered leaves, the crows make their rasping judgments in echoless puppet calls. All is lost.

    ***

    She approached the hunched thing by the roadside. It was a dog. And whatever fires had stoked its core were now cooled to naught, all its heat diffused in the chill night, along with all its loyalty and love.

    "Bless you," she whispered, and then she cried for a long time.

    ***

    The gods are not gods; they are ghosts we've given too much responsibility. They long only to return to former haunts, where things are simpler and they can be left alone once more, to haunt themselves for eternity.

    ***

    In the beginning there was New Jersey and the Manhattan skyline. Yes. Good. I've told the last story now, and there's nothing more to be said. This was the dry road I was walking down, and that was the wide shining sky.

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    1. Oh, apologies for the length of that; I should have put an excerpt on here and linked to my blog. I didn't realise how long it was until I saw it on this page! It just kept on unraveling.

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    2. Wow.... this feels like a novel waiting to happen. "feeling the gravity waves of the ferris wheel at our backs" and "The gods are not gods; they are ghosts we've given too much responsibility," are my favorites. Thank you for the gift of your words!

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    3. Nancy DeCilio GauthierMarch 20, 2015 at 10:54 AM

      Wow = no fortune at all, shortcha...cut off and the doors blowing in. Whole scene tells a story.

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    4. A quiet apocalypse? I always love you imagery and your way with words.

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    5. Holy crap, I love this. End of the story? NOOO!!!

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    6. I'm loving this style you're playing with. And this: I am a girl from the valley with a penchant for espionage. - so good. And well, I appreciate the Stark shoutout. ;) Seriously, though, this form is awesome.

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    7. Thanks, y'all. Yeah, would be nice if I had any clue how to tie all these into something longer. You novel writing types don't even know what a rare ability that is! (I hate you. No I don't. Okay, a little. lol.)

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    8. I really loved this. Everyone is right, who says it's a novel. Maybe "to tie" it together is the wrong imagery for you. How bout sewing it like a patchwork quilt?

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    9. That's a good reframe, Lily. Matching sides with common themes, maybe? Thanks for your comment. :)

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  5. Brian skulked down the street in his holey jeans and hoodie, Raymond in tow, hanging on his every word. They were looking for a car to steal: one nice enough that the chop shop would pay decently, but cheap enough that they could get away with it. “Naw, are you trippin, boy? Don’t even fuck with a brand new Benz, that shit’ll get you popped, it ain’t worth it. If you paid 60 grand for a new Benz, wouldn’t you get a fuckin’ alarm system and LoJack and shit on that?”

    “Ahhh, this is the shit we like, eh.” Furtively, Brian jimmied the lock on the 2003 Honda Accord, while Ray watched his technique. Once he was in, Brian took the driver’s seat, and let Ray in the passenger seat. Again, Ray closely watched as Brian hotwired the ignition: first he used a small prybar to get into the ignition interlock, then twisted wires together to start the engine. “Oh, shit, that’s my jam, boyyyy!”

    The engine idling, Brian rifled through the owner’s CDs, and tossed most of them out the window, dismissing them as “bullshit, bullshit, pussy shit, wack jams. This motherfucker got garbage-ass taste. Let’s bail.”

    Brian drove the car about two miles, from downtown to the chop shop, by the docks. He tried to haggle for more, but the dude would only give him a grand for the Accord. Still, not too shabby. He cut Ray in for two hundred, and cautioned him, “Don’t tell nobody how you got this money. Your brother and sister, they probably don’t want me teaching you how to steal cars and shit. But it ain’t gonna hurt you none to know how, eh?”

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    1. Wow, this is so real. I can picture it in almost any town or city.

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    2. Heheh, thanks. Paragraph three is an homage to "Set It Off"; Queen Latifah's character did that whenever she broke into a car.

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    3. So real I want to LoJack my old Japanese sedan. Nice.

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    4. Cheers! But, not really worth it, unless you have some sentimental attachment. As I understand, the most commonly stolen cars aren't your fancy German luxury cars, or exotic Italian sports cars, but regular-ass Japanese and American sedans, because that's where the demand for black market parts is. Since those cars aren't worth all that much to begin with, it's not worth putting a lot of effort into finding them; if you have comprehensive insurance, they'll just write it off and cut you a check big enough to buy another serviceable used car. If you don't, tough shit for you.

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    5. This is a dope piece, D. Super authentic and evenly paced. I really like the distaste for the music, too. You killed it with this one.

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    6. Yeah, the CD part made me laugh. Not sure my own music taste would pass muster.

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    7. This whole thing made me laugh too. I think I've met this guy.

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    8. I would kinda hope not. Brian Segersen does have some redeeming qualities, but he is a high functioning sociopath. He does know enough about cars to get a job as an apprentice / assistant auto mechanic. But if he particularly hated his boss, he'd tolerate it until a good opportunity arose, and then commit some subtle act of sabotage that would maim or kill said despised boss.

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  6. I held the envelope in my hand as I stood at the blue mailbox. Did I have the guts to mail it? I’d been up half the night writing it, editing it, tearing it up, rewriting it. Finally, bleary eyes and writer’s cramp convinced me it was as good as it was gonna get. I took it as a sign from the gods that I had a stamp to put on the envelope, a stamp of exactly the right denomination.
    I held the little flap thing down, ready to put the envelope in, the pit of no return. But the hand that held it was paralyzed. I jumped when I felt someone touch my shoulder.
    “Young man, are you going to mail that or not?”
    My face flushed red as I turned to see who was speaking. A wizened little old lady, with blue hair and twinkling eyes.
    “Um, I’m trying to decide.”
    “Only two kinds of letters are worthy of that much ‘deciding.’ Love letters and ‘break their heart’ letters. Which is it?”
    “Um…”
    “A love letter, then. Good. Not enough people write those any more. I still have everyone that my dear Gerald wrote me during the war. World War II. Still read them, too. He’s passed on, but when I read those letters, I feel like he’s talking to me.”
    “I’m sor—“
    “Sorry? Don’t be. The only thing you’ll have to be sorry for is if you don’t mail that letter.”
    Another sign from the gods. Mail the damn letter, they were saying. My hand regained the ability to move, and dropped the letter in. The satisfying clump let me know it was done.
    “Thank you,” I said to the lady, who didn’t make a move.
    “Aren’t you going to look, to see if it went down?”
    I pulled the flap again. The pit of no return was empty. The envelope and my heart were now safely in the hands of the US Postal Service.

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    1. Love this. The little lady is such a wonderful touch - it has the feel of Magic Realism.

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    2. Oh, this is wonderful. "The pit of no return..."

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    3. Nancy DeCilio GauthierMarch 20, 2015 at 2:44 PM

      Never ignore the wisdom of little old ladies.

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    4. Thanks :-) and I never have, Nancy...

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    5. Yeah, this is awesome. I agree with the magical realism touch. Not that it is, per se, but it feels like magic. Just lovely.

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    6. Thanks! That magical realism feel keeps coming up... I must like it

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    7. Really enjoyed reading this. The last line was killer.

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  7. She claimed she had always loved him, but how did she define “always”? To everyone who knew Hilda ––hardly a year since the good scientist Dr. Wilhelm Hertzog married her –– she seemed to have dropped out of the sky or suddenly appeared in the silence of a wish and the snap of his fingers. They wondered what he meant when he told them that her near perfection was unwittingly his concession to humility. What did he mean?

    “Talipes equinovarus,“ explained Hertzog. “Clubfoot. Seems unfair, doesn’t it?“ to which they shrugged uncomfortably. “Not one blemish to detract from her beauty, except,“ he whispered, “the distorted leg she drags.” They suspected his enormous disappointment, admitted humility notwithstanding. They knew he wanted more than anything to change fate, somehow balance that blond goddess on two sturdy, shapely legs.

    What the family, the neighbors, the onlookers did not know would have caused a domino effect of heart failures, leaving all of them grotesquely open-eyed dead. Hilda was not what she seemed. The good doctor had failed miserably at love. One after another the women came and the women fled from him. He swore he’d find the perfect woman, but his search proved futile. No woman alive could love him. Was it his diminutive
    stature? His hooked hawk nose? The paunch he carried before him? Perhaps all of the above.

    I know what you’re thinking. Hilda is a clone of some woman whose heart he could not win. No, Hertzog did not wish a rejection from the first rejection’s clone. He had had more than his share of humiliations.

    Over the years he had saved his cousin Victor’s notebooks, not because he believed in their science; after all, he considered Victor a crackpot. He saved them because he delighted in reading the rantings of a madman who claimed to have raised a man from the dead. So desperate Hertzog, referring to the baron’s how-to notes, decided in a mad moment of his own to try the experiment himself.

    Several nights after the sudden death of the young streetwalker Honey Childe, he exhumed her body, loaded it into the trunk of his black Mercedes and then carried it down to his basement laboratory where finally he was able and fortunate enough to raise Honey from her last sleep.

    How did he not notice her clubfoot? Did he himself cause the deformity, the electrical power charge too potent? No matter. From the moment life zapped her awake, she loved him. What’s a clubfoot in the grand scheme of things? he decided.

    “Would you like a glass of Jägermeister, dear Wilhelm?”

    “Of course. A sweet digestif, ” Herzog said, nodding yes to her from across the dining room table. Nodding yes to everything new life had brought the two of them.

    #



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    1. Fascinating.... this is actually quite lovely. And the last line, the last line is best of all.

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    2. ... you mean people other than disgusting frat boys drink Jagermeister? I heard they used to use it as cough syrup.

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    3. This has such an air of mystery. Well done.

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    4. There are so many ways to access this piece. I agree with Leland. Your pieces always leave me wondering how you do it.

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    5. Cousin Victor! That made me smile.

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    6. Nancy DeCilio GauthierMarch 21, 2015 at 4:05 AM

      Yep, as soon as I read "cousin Victor's notebooks" I knew what was coming - great piece.

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  8. Snowmelt trickled through last fall’s leaves as I followed the rustle of Luke’s footsteps. With a sweep of his arm, he held back the whip-thin naked branches, letting me pass through. “Where are we going?”

    He shot an I-ain’t-telling look over his shoulder before continuing along the path, a clearing so thin you could only tell humans—or deer, perhaps—had passed through by the slight depression of the detritus on the forest floor. The trickle grew louder, blending into the huff our breath as we climbed over some rocks. I wish I’d worn something warmer; an undercurrent of chill air swirled around my legs and up my body. We’d been on our way to Cooperstown; a visit to the Hall of Fame and probably dinner somewhere was all I’d expected. Luke hadn’t told me a hike was on the agenda. “My grandfather used to own this property,” he said. “Just wanted to show you. You know. Since we were practically passing right through.”

    A full-on blush flashed up to my hairline, and I was glad to be behind him. His sister-in-law had told me about the day Luke’s brother had taken her to see the property, despite the fact that it was technically trespassing. She hadn’t known about the trip before either, and the pair had been dating for a year. That was where he’d given her the ring. Oh, hell. I wasn’t ready for this. My heart revved and suddenly everything looked clearer, sharper. A trick of adrenaline, I told myself, defining the veins of each fallen leaf, puffing up the scent of the moss-covered rocks, the glittering snowmelt now a torrent battering my ears. I could barely focus on keeping my footing, especially when he pulled back some foliage to show me. A fracture in a cliff spilled a waterfall into a deep, dark pool.

    “Oh…” My fingers flew to my parted lips and he grabbed my elbow.

    “Don’t go falling in, now,” he said with a chuckle.

    “It’s beautiful.” He was so close I could sense his heartbeat, even through his jacket. “Why’d he give this up?”

    Luke shrugged. “Lots of things. Hard times. Taxes. Grandma missed her family.” He snuck a hand into his pocket. I damn well hoped it was just because he was cold.

    “Hey! You there!”

    The booming voice snapped me to attention, my feet in their inappropriate little boots scrambling on the rock, and I would have lost my balance if Luke hadn’t grabbed me.

    “You there, this is private property!”

    I saw him then. A scruff of silver hair and a mound of warm clothing, legs poking out beneath like sticks too thin to hold him. And he carried a rifle, which he swung to his shoulder.

    Luke’s grip tightened around my arm. “Mr. Anderson. It’s Luke. My grandfather used to own this land.”

    The man didn’t move. “I don’t give a flying goddamn who you are. This is my land and you need to get off it.”

    “But…”

    The air exploded around us. I jerked backward; a thick branch caught me tight around the waist, taking my breath, saving me. But the scramble of Luke’s feet on the ledge was the last sound I heard. Until the splash.

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    1. ohmigosh.... you wordmeister you. You pulled me in for a nice romantic story and then... and then.... well done. Very well done.

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    2. What an unexpected twist. Well done - oh, yes.

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    3. Nancy DeCilio GauthierMarch 20, 2015 at 2:49 PM

      All I could blurt out was an expletive that sounded like OH Chit. Never expected that. Did she pull herself together long enough and fast enough to grab the rifle end and swing the old man down after Luke.

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    4. Wow, Boris. This is a really, really intriguing piece. The end, so unexpected, but your deft foreshadowing - that's what's gonna get you kneecapped. By Leland. Not me. No. I'm not the jealous type. Maybe Antrobus. ;)

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    5. Nice! A bona fide full story, told so well and so succinctly. Sure I'm jealous. (Except I don't really do jealousy.)

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  9. My buddy Justin and I played with dolls. Except, in the sixties, boys didn’t play with “dolls,” they played “war” with GI Joe dolls. Dolls. But we never said the word out loud.
    There were other words we didn’t say out loud. Somehow we all knew them, though, and we had vague idea of what they meant.
    One time I asked Justin why GI Joe didn’t have nipples. He scowled at me. I didn’t ask again.
    “I’m gonna grow up to be just like GI Joe. I’m gonna work out till I have muscles like his. I’m gonna be a Marine.”
    We grew older. He dated. I didn’t. He went off to boot camp. I went to college.
    One summer, we were both home. We went to the lake, drank a beer, and didn’t say much. The sun grew high in the sky and it was hot on the sandy beach.
    “You did it,” I said.
    “What?” he asked.
    “You look like GI Joe. You’re a Marine.”
    He stretched and pulled off his t-shirt. “Yeah, but I still have nipples.”
    And then he wrapped me in his arms and kissed me.
    “I’m glad.”

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    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierMarch 20, 2015 at 2:52 PM

      Just goes to show you, even Marines have depth and love.

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    2. Man, I love your love stories.

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    3. This is the second of yours today, Leland, where my first response was literally, "sweet!"

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    4. Thanks everyone! I'm practicing for some love in my work in progress... and Nancy, I can vouch for that firsthand!

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  10. Ballet toes are not for the faint of heart; you cringe when you see them on her tender feet. The bruised toenails, the blisters, the already deforming joints like bonsai trees forced into teacups. She smiles with shy pride as she shows off her battle wounds. You see her at twenty, forty, sixty, walking tall with the habit of grace, and only a select few knowing the horrors that lay behind her placid face and beneath her fashionable shoes.

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    1. And this is truth, in addition to being well-written.

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    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierMarch 20, 2015 at 2:54 PM

      I always wondered about ballet shoes.

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    3. Been there seen that. Great imagery...And yet have known the ballerinas who didn't make it, and still claim the image? Like a Victim without a cause...

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    4. What Leland said. AND, "the already deforming joints like bonsai trees forced into teacups" - holy crap. SO good. And I've seen it, too. You nailed it.

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    5. I can so see that "habit of grace." Lovely.

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    6. I know what you mean; well written. Fortunately, I was on pointe for just 2 years so I don't suffer from that horror.

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  11. You drift out of your houses and into the street like survivors of the zombie apocalypse, the only ones left standing after the movie. You shake your heads at each other, secretly counting bodies to affirm who has made it through the winter. Three children. Two dogs. The cat. The roof, not so much. Bits of shingle have blown off and stab into the dry remaining snow like black daggers. The old evergreen near the swing set another casualty. You hold up the broken branch, the sharp tang of sap piercing you. You loved that tree. The towering strength of it, the birds lighting on the branches, the tiny pine cones that tapped you on the head while you sat on the swing, letting your thoughts drift. A neighbor crosses through the backyard, offering a beer and a smile, a hand on your shoulder. You think about his woodstove and his chainsaw, and know the tree will not have given its life to this winter in vain.

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    1. I love that opening scene. And I'm glad the tree will bring joy one more time.

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    2. This has such a hypnotic flow to it. Well in, lady.

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    3. For you guys back east, spring really *means* something. I can hear that in this piece.

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  12. Another crazy driver! What was it with this place today? Hortense jerked her wheel quickly to the left, nimbly dodging the sheer face of the four-wheeled drive weaving to the left and right, its driver flashing his headlights AND sounding his horn. Such an inconsiderate dolt! And him with a pair of children in the back!

    She sighed, finally locating a space, wedging her Camry into position between the trolley park and a beat-up traders' van.

    Grabbing the hand-hold near the roof, she hauled herself clear of the seat, sticking first one leg and then the other out through the open door. Dandling herself up and down a moment, she managed to bring her weight down onto her feet on the asphalt beside the car, using its roof for support as she crabbed her way around to the trunk where her support frame was waiting.

    “And what do you think you were doing?” the apoplectic red-faced man snarled, pushing his face directly in front of hers. “Didn't you see the arrows?”

    Hortense's face crumbled, her hand groping to find the lanyard hanging around her neck. “Young man,” she said, bringing the longette up before her face, “without these, I'd struggle to even see the Indians!”

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    1. The name "Hortense" told me a lot about her before you even described. There is art in selecting a character's name! And what a lovely word, longette... curse the dictionary for making me google it, but thanks to you for teaching it to me!

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    2. I love obscure words! The English language is such a treasure trove, isn't it?

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    3. It is, indeed, rich with words... many of which were stolen/borrowed from so many other languages... I approve of such thievery.

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    4. It's easier to steal than to make up your own. Like 'veranda' and 'jodphurs', we've a long history of absorbing others' words but, if it ain't broke, why not use it yourself!

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    5. Agreed. This is awesome. And that last zinger is so good. Nailed the landing. Hell, the whole thing.

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    6. Which dictionary are you guys using? I couldn't find the damn word anywhere. But yeah, agree with everyone else.

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    7. I googled it, and it came up in images...

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  13. Centering herself Charlie inhaled then stretched her arms out from her body on either side in what was nearly a perfect straight line from her shoulders. Lifting her right leg, she quietly marveled at her ability to stay balanced with only a minor quiver when the sole of her foot grazed her inner thigh. Two weeks ago that hadn’t been possible.

    Taking another breath she brought her hands together as if in prayer. She held the pose for thirty seconds before taking another long deep breath. Then bending her leg while simultaneously adjusting her foot so it rested on top of her leg instead of her thigh she sat on the air beneath, exhaling into the pose. Her stationary foot wobbled in such a way that she focused all her attention on not moving any part of her body at all. Holding her breath until it stopped she took in another deep breath, filling her lungs to capacity, when she suddenly felt the cat rubbing it’s furry body around her standing leg in a slow, repetitive motion. It wasn’t exactly disturbing, but she was still annoyed that she’d forgotten to close the bedroom door. She decided to ignore it and focus again on absolutely nothing but holding the pose as well as her breath while she stabilized. She almost got there too when she heard the tinny sound of the Marimba coming from her Iphone downstairs.

    “Damn.” She said rolling her eyes at her stupidity. Not closing the door also meant she could hear the phone when it rang. Maybe she could tune it out like she did with TV commercials.

    The harsh twapping of the door knocker overpowered the sound of the ringing phone and laid that idea to rest with a finality that brought Charlie completely out of herself. Coming out of the pose, she stood tall dropping her foot to the floor with a thump that barely missed the cat’s tail.

    “Oh just fuck it.” She muttered, stalking down the stairs.

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    1. I feel that way so often - finding some peace can be so frustrating.

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    2. If only the universe could leave us alone for a little while! This, by the way, is a wonderful description of the feeling the dancer has... though I've never done ballet, you've made me feel it... thank you!

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    3. Are you in my head? I LOVE this piece. What a great concept, simple and relatable, but you make it sing. And the closer, absofuckinglutely perfect.

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    4. Yoga saved me, so I especially appreciate this.

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  14. This is the first day of spring. The word is music to me ... spring. It conjures up sweet images of pale green branches, pastel blooms, birdsong, and the tips of the firs blades of grass poking through last year's brown. Not all at once, mind, but each taking its turn to delight and surprise. And the scent, oh that fresh earthiness that tells me everything is alive, is feeling the urge to emerge, to be reborn in all its best finery.

    Reality is different. I see snow two feet deep covering all the lawns and gardens, dirty, cold, ugly. The wind whips through coats and scarves with no regard for the date. Neighbours bend forward, heads down, their dogs' fur flattened with each new gust.

    But, there, in my flower bed, a tiny patch is bare. In it stands a clump of snowdrops, not blooming. Not yet. Maybe tomorrow. I smile. Spring is a promise.

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    1. Beautiful descriptions...I can almost see, almost smell them... thank you for this gift.

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    2. I love this. "Spring is a promise." Yes, indeed. The descriptions and the juxtaposition are both well laid out, but that final paragraph is the payoff. Awesome piece. :)

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    3. Nancy DeCilio GauthierMarch 20, 2015 at 3:02 PM

      I remember when I saw the first crocus pop up through the snow in our NY yard - it was a magical moment - and the yellow forsythia buds about to open.

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    4. "Spring is a promise." Just beautiful. The whole shebang. Fantastic writing, Yvonne.

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    5. I'm sure it will be worth the slight delay. As with Laurie's piece, I can hear your pain.

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  15. All I ever could muster were shy glances at them, my muddy eyes unworthy to look into her turquoise and lapis treasure rooms into which all the boys I could never be sought audience.

    Whenever I saw her in the hallway, I would drop my attention to her shoes, knees, what color hosiery she wore that day. I'm sure I came across as some mumbling fetishist whenever I was in her presence. Floor tiles and I had the eye to eye relationship I dreamed of having with her. Hell, the one I wish I had with the whole world.

    But one day, as I turned the hallway corner, my nose pointed to the furthermost frontiers of my footsteps, she and I collided in a mélange of arms, legs and parts hitherto unknown to my virgin, clumsy touch. The whole world turned topsy-turvy. Shamefaced, head-down, I skittered to my knees, gathering books, papers, purse contents and a view of blue tights I’d only previously seen on clotheslines.

    I looked up to see her staring into my eyes. Since I’d picked up everything off the floor and nowhere in my hands could I find a pile of courage, I concentrated on the bridge of her nose. Eight, nine, ten freckles’ worth.

    “You really should keep those cute brown eyes up when you’re walking, Bashful. And from now on, especially when you’re talking...to me.” she said.

    Twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fift...

    That's what it took, you know, when I was fourteen going on fifteen. I had to turn the world upside down to see things as she did, as they probably should be, as they eventually would be for the next thirty years with my blue-eyed treasure.

    That was the day when all my looking down began looking up.

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    1. I can't tell you how beautiful I think this is.... truly, it melts my heart. "Floor tiles and I had the eye to eye relationship I dreamed of having with her." and "That was the day when all my looking down began looking up." are my favorites... but the whole thing is just wonderful.

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    2. Wait! Posted and it didn't post What;'s with the effing BLOG???

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    3. Teresa, take a Valium. ;) Brother, this is outstanding. Humbling. "I'm sure I came across as some mumbling fetishist whenever I was in her presence." I would steal that line if I wasn't cursed with ethics. I have been there. You have either been there or you have a REAL good imagination. So much truth, here. Really, quite brilliant.

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    4. Love it. Love this so much. This: "I looked up to see her staring into my eyes. Since I’d picked up everything off the floor and nowhere in my hands could I find a pile of courage, I concentrated on the bridge of her nose. Eight, nine, ten freckles’ worth."

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    5. This is fantastic. Touching, and although it's a familiar tale, somehow startlingly original.

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  16. “Really, it’s just not fair.” The voice verged on whining.
    “Yeah, I know, but what can we do?” A man’s attempt at accepting the unchangeable.
    “But why would they do this to us? I mean, look at me. My figure is voluptuous. I’m perfectly proportioned. I have practically no waist at all! They got that part right.”
    “Oh I hear ya, I’ve got broad shoulders, perfect pectorals, and I’m always well-dressed but…”
    “Do you think it’s just us? I mean, do the others have…”
    “Hey, what kind of guy do you think I am?”
    “Well, you’ve seen Joe naked, I’m sure.” Her voice dripped with a brittle jealousy.
    “Maybe once or twice in the showers at the gym but…”
    “And? Does he?”
    “No.” The man sounded disappointed and she noticed.
    She put her arm around him. “I guess it’ll be okay, Ken.”
    “Oh, Barbie. I just don’t know why I’m so handsome if we’re not anatomically correct.”
    They wept together, but GI Joe wept alone.

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  17. REALLY so effective. Paints that picture so well!

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  18. A boy had been her undoing, and wasn’t that always the way, a boy with sandy blond hair and eyes like mountain springs, a boy who picked buttercups from the field and waved them under her chin, a boy who dared her to catch frogs and climb trees and race to the end of the street and keep his secrets safe. No longer a boy, he stands in front of her all cleaned up but fumbly-fingered, doing battle with a cummerbund and bow tie, and she helps him.

    “Is that why it’s called a bride and groom?” he asks, mountain-spring eyes tracking her nimble moves. “Because she’s already kinda got it together and the guy’s the one who has to get all groomed?”

    “Yeah.” She bit the inside of her cheek to keep her burning eyes from spilling tears on her ugly, ugly maid-of-honor dress. “That’s why.”

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    1. Ho-Ly Shit. This should be carved into marble with the words, "this is how your write flash fiction" right above it.

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    2. Yeah... this is the stuff good flash fiction is made of. Good fiction of any length, in fact. You got it.

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    3. Ditto, y'all! Heartbreaker of a tale.

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    4. Nancy DeCilio GauthierMarch 21, 2015 at 4:15 AM

      Bet this happens more often than we can imagine..

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  19. Empty of words, just like the garden. Waiting for the seeds. I tried the Holy Chuch of Goggle. I tried a string of spring cliches. I have heard that in the right place at the right time on this day, The Equinox, an egg will balance perfectly on its end. I will try that, too. And let you know if anything happens. I am the egg (wo)man. But not necessarily the Walrus.

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    1. Oh man, I love this. That last line. And, as someone born on the Winter Equinox, well, damn, those last two lines. Like it wasn't good enough before. ;)

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    2. This is like *meta* flash fiction!

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    3. This should have music written to accompany it... seriously, this is GOOD.

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  20. It's a motherfucking miracle, man. It's like, you were all just like, you know, standing and shit. Then, BAM, and all of a sudden it's in your hand and you just stare at it like WOAH, dude, what the fuck. This is some seriously magical shit. I should buy a bean stalk or eat an apple from an old creepy lady or something.

    Then, just when you're all, fuck me dude, what the shit? Out of the sky, KAPOW, eight tons of epiphany fall on your head and then you stand there gaping at it like a dumb kid with too much sugar in their system and the whole thing spins all the way around and you're like, yo, where the fuck is my sandwich. WHERE THE FUCK IS MY SANDWICH?!?!

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  21. You think princess dreams started with Walt Disney? No, he only cleaned them up, made them frilly and fused our knees together, sanitized for our prevention. Good girls don’t have power, pretty princess voices are only good for singing along with the birds that flutter over our heads cleaning our kitchens. Good girls long for happily ever after, for some poor schmuck to swoop up in white armor and rescue us from saving our own asses. “I want the fairy tale” plays in endless loops in our programmed brains, and where is Prince Charming? Looking for his own damned happy ending. Probably with Barbie in her dream house. She might be a little stiff, but she owns her pink world. Owns it like a boss.

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    1. Wow. I don't know how you do it. "sanitized for our prevention"? Perfect. Asses, happy ending, pink world. If that was an accident, feel blessed. If you're really that good... ;)

      Seriously, love this.

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    2. Damn, I need to pay closer attention: I totally missed those phrases Dan highlighted, and I *still* liked this piece.

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    3. It's all perfect, but this is more perfect to me: Probably with Barbie in her dream house. She might be a little stiff, but she owns her pink world. Owns it like a boss.

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    4. Thanks. I had so much fun writing this.

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  22. I don't have a bandaid big enough to cover up the truth. The truth, of course, is that you're an asshole. Not just a regular old asshole, though. You are an asshole of epic proportions. People dance around you because you can float the scent of sentiment even as you prod with your prodigious assholery.

    But it is what it is and people are what they are and curse words will always offend people and you'll always taste bile when you smile at the wile and deceit that leap from the assholes lips. The kind that sink ships. But in the cubicle, you just hold on tight and hope the asshole doesn't fuck it up before your dental insurance kicks in.

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    1. Good and gritty... Dental insurance.

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  23. Molly was a woman bound by expectation. Salvation. She could not embrace chaos and, therefore, she was lost in the world, trying to bind a hurricane. Smell of bleach on the wind. Send the message you can't rescind. It all works out the same way in the end.

    You think this is prophecy? This is a ham sandwich that has been sitting in a journeyman's cooler. This is a sermon where the Pastor whips it out and dangles it in front of your Aunt Gladys and you just think, well, hell, I've never seen anything like that before.

    So, you rub one finger on the smooth, worn wood and think and think and think...

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    1. Oh, love that second paragraph especially.

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    2. Yep... and the last line is Zen...

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  24. “I’m thinking I’m going to cave Sandy. I’ve sent my script to every director, producer, and agent I could find a mailing address for. This is just too hard for me. I can’t stand all the waiting around while also waiting on tables. It’s like some horrible redundant nightmare. I know it’s not rational but the loop feels crazy to me cause it’s always the same. I’ve gotta break out of it.”

    Sandy looked out to the horizon, trying to think of what to say. She liked this spot. Whenever they could get a break from working the counter at the Ghirardelli Ice Cream shop they’d run down through the square and the park, down to the little patch of beach and talk about things. Today it sounded a lot like Gabe was trying to give her bad news and she wasn’t sure how to handle it. The thought gave her a chill and she shivered. Maybe a change of subject . . .

    “You cold?” He said sliding over the stone steps they were sitting on as if getting closer would warm her.

    “it’s just the wind. It’s almost spring but it’s only 62degrees here, that means the water is pretty cold. Can I ask you a question without it seeming racist?”

    “Try me.” Gabe started blowing on his hands as if he suddenly realized it was a little nippy. The extra work his cheeks put in made the skin under his freckles redden.

    “Well you see those guys swimming out there?” They both turned to look. There were five or six adult men swimming freestyle in separate areas of the cove.

    Why is it that’s it’s always white guys who go out when the water is freezing like this?

    Sandy looked back at him. Her dark eyes were wide, questioning.

    “You think I’m being mean.”

    “No . . . no actually you’re right. I was just thinking I never do see brown people doing that kind of stuff.”

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  25. Timothy Callahan liked to think it wasn’t all his own fault, how he turned out. His childhood was mediocre: could have been worse, but it could have been a hell of a lot better. His father, Sam, was raised Mormon in Ogden, Utah; he was distantly related to John Moses Browning, the legendary engineer who designed the Colt M1911 pistol, among many others. His mother, Tiffany, was a near-pathologically normal girl from San Dimas, California. They met, courted, and married in Southern California, while Sam was stationed at Fort Irwin. Tim was born in Barstow, California, but mostly grew up in Elko, Nevada. After leaving the Army, his father worked in a gold mine, and his mother served cocktails at the Stockmen’s Casino.

    He would describe his upbringing as working-class: poor, but not destitute. He and his little brother, Terry, grew up in a manufactured home in a trailer park about a mile and a half from downtown; nicer than a trailer, but not really a “house”. If pressed, he would admit that his mother’s death in a methamphetamine lab incident was traumatic, especially compounded by his father being arrested for his suspected involvement. He was vaguely aware that Sam was involved in some shady stuff, but not nearly the full extent. If you were to interview Sam, in the visitation room of Ely State Prison, he would swear up and down that his wife’s death was caused by saboteurs, employed by the Mexican cartels who were dissatisfied with his performance as a meth cook.

    By the age of 40, Sam Callahan was mostly a sad, broken man, resigned to eventually die in his dry, dusty cell in a Nevada state prison, locked up for a crime he didn’t commit, never again to see his sons, or visit the grave of his beloved wife. He only suspected that Timmy would try and make it west to California, and presumed that Terry was in a foster home, or a state institution.

    Given his father’s struggles with substance abuse, Tim considered it inevitable that he’d meet a similar fate. Surrounded by the grime, poverty, and despair of the big city, he couldn’t imagine a more viable salve for his suffering than heroin. He and his new girlfriend, Allison, would spend hours in the messy squat they gradually came to share, listening to music and watching movies and getting wasted. When they couldn’t afford heroin, they smoked pot, or drank malt liquor and store-brand whiskey.

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  26. As usual, I am amazed by you all! Thank you.

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    1. Thanks for reading along, Judy!

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    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierMarch 21, 2015 at 4:21 AM

      Thanks Judy - glad you enjoy it all.

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