Friday, April 3, 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. 

Look at that cat, he's a humdinger. Light drips on hair shine, and the world seems so fine - goddamn, that boy can't be stopped. 

Check out that smile, it should be insured. Me, I'm inured to the wiles of the little turd. Watch him move, but don't get caught up in the swerve. He'll knock you down and you'll stand up turned around. Listen, can't you hear that sound? It's the sound of a million moon balls bouncing. 

Watch out for that man, he's not part of our plan. Look at the way he dresses, check that farmer's tan. 

Go to the funeral out of respect, it's more than the least they can expect. See if you can summon up one of them smiles. But it don't matter. 

It's a stacked deck.


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

182 comments:

  1. She stood against the wall, eyes half-closed, calculating. Stained-glass rivers poured through the dank bar, making saints of old men drinking pension checks. You had to pick carefully, she knew that. Some of them barely got enough for a six pack. Then, there were the fat boys. They sat differently. They had eyes with white still in them. They were ripe for the picking if you got there soon enough.

    She heard a loud voice shatter the morning. He was wearing a pair of slacks, no fraying at the seams. His hair was combed and he looked happy. She wondered how he'd look in a few hours. She wondered how she'd look in the heels she'd had her eye on.

    She adjusted her push up bra. Looked scared. Laughed inside - so fucking easy. Like taking candy from a baby.

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    1. Powerful images... and this, "Stained-glass rivers poured through the dank bar, making saints of old men drinking pension checks" will be with me all day long. Well done!

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    2. Plays like a movie. Mmm, that line 'wondered how he'd look in a few hours' is full of secondary meaning like a thriller. What is she going to do to the guy? Good or bad? Love the last line too.

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    3. I love the play between her perception of them and the return of focus to herself.how he'd look in a few hours...how she'd look in those heels. REALLY Nice.

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    4. What they said. :D Pulled me right into the scene, and love the descriptives. Great piece.

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    5. Love this. And this line: ...making saints of old men drinking pension checks...

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    6. Like both the stacked deck and the picturesque stalker of fat boys with white still in their eyes immensely.

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  2. Luanne was having a better time than she expected, relaxing on the terrace of a spacious loft on yet another aggressively pleasant, sunny day in Los Angeles, with her friend Angela Monroe. They first got acquainted over the Internet, through their mutual interest in direct action. Angela wasn’t really involved with doing the dirt; she was one of the more privileged sorts, the daughter of an LA Laker and a French-American fashion model, born and raised in Brentwood. Hence she lived in a spacious loft, despite being only twenty and a communications major at USC.

    Luanne and Tim arrived the evening before, after a tedious six-hour bus ride from Oakland. They knew Angela wasn’t a grubby squatter like them, they’d seen the photos. She was a svelte, pretty mixed-race girl with dark blonde curls and designer threads. But they were a bit surprised when Angela picked them up in a shiny Volkswagen Eos convertible, and drove them maybe two miles to her loft. Tim wasn’t particularly trying to play cool. As soon as they entered the loft, he blurted, “dude, this is swanky as fuck!”

    Tim tossed his rucksack to the floor behind a suede sectional, hastily tugged off his sneakers, and threw himself onto the sofa. “Oh, gurl, your couch is comfier than my bed!”

    Angela chuckled, and he continued, “Can I just live here, with you, from now on? I was raised by bored-ass Nevada tweakers, I know how to clean. I will keep this place so clean, you could make soup in the toilet!”

    Angela just casually replied, “Naw, dude, it’s cool…”, but Luanne corroborated, “It’s true, I’ve seen it. If you give him a few Adderalls and appropriate supplies, he will clean like, well, a tweaker.”

    Not only that, but after maybe an hour of decompression after that bus ride, Angela also treated her guests to dinner. Nothing fancy, they just hit the Fatburger in East Hollywood, but neither of them had had it before; the one Fatburger in the Bay Area was out in the suburbs, and it was only open for a few years.

    The next day, Angela and Luanne sent Tim out with a small wad of cash to buy groceries and liquor from the Von’s on Alvarado. While he was doing that, they reclined on the terrace, sipping iced tea and smoking a blunt. Luanne sort of expected Angela to come off more snobby, but that was not the case, as she took a long drag, passed the blunt, and asked, “what’s up with your boy Timmy? Y’all hittin’ that?”

    “Naw, he got a girl. Why?”

    “Mm, he’s kinda sexy. I used to fuck with this dude who kinda looked like him, back in high school.”

    “Yeah, he’s aight. I’ve known him since I was like 13, when me and Ray first bounced out the HP and started squatting in Oakland. He’s a sweetheart, but I can’t fuck with him, he’s a little too into drugs. Like I wouldn’t have trusted him with all that cash if I thought he knew anybody he could score from down here.”

    “For real?”

    “On the really real, girl,” Luanne puffed on the blunt, “he and that stuck up white bitch always be holing up in his room, doing heroin and listening to the Smiths and shit.”

    “Ooh, that’s like, kinda gross, but kinda hot. I dunno, I’m from West LA, I’m used to angsty white boys. You fuck with white boys?”

    “Uh, I wouldn’t rule it out completely. They don’t really try and hit me up, and I ain’t gonna jock ‘em or nothin’.”

    “What’s his girl like?”

    “Eh, she is kinda hot. Tall, kinda skinny but not like bony, brunette, very suburban white girl. Turns tricks sometimes, but she tryina get a bartending gig in SF. I don’t give a fuck, if you wanna get with him, go for it. I ain’t sayin’ shit.”

    Angela took a long drag off the blunt and replied, “Ya know, maybe I will.”

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    1. Perfect snapshot. Comes across as utterly real. And you know how women talk about men. Not every guy does. Are you a guy?

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    2. Yeah, I really like this piece, D. Aggressively pleasant. Awesome.

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    3. Yes, though it's not unusual for folks to think I come off kinda effeminate for a heterosexual guy. And I generally find it fascinating when women forget I'm there and get real.

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    4. Love this. Yeah, what JD said: aggressively pleasant. Grabbed me from the start.

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    5. This made me smile many times throughout. It was "swanky as fuck."

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    6. And if you've ever been to Los Angeles, you know what I mean. The weather is usually, well, aggressively pleasant: warm and sunny, but if you're anywhere near the beach, you get a nice bit of breeze. Whereas in the San Fernando Valley and Inland Empire, it's just hot and smoggy and gross. I'd rather live in South Central than the Inland empire.

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  3. There are places you walk into and you know them even though you’ve never been there before. Sometimes a café, sometimes a mountaintop, but you know them, know them like the lines on the back of your hand. You know not to speak of this knowing to others, because they don’t understand this gift you have.
    There are people you meet and you know their stories before they utter a word. You read their stories in their eyes, in the wrinkles of their foreheads, in the tilt of their heads.
    There are times you wish you didn’t have this knowledge. But there are other times you are grateful, for you can mix the places and the people and their stories and write happy endings for them in your little notebook. And you can hope that some of the endings come true.
    Sometimes you worry that you know these places and people because you’ve written about them, invented them, before you’ve seen them.
    Sometimes you worry that you are God in their paper universe.
    And then sometimes they teach you something you never knew. If you are a god, it’s best you learn to be humble, and to listen.

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    1. I like this. I have those deja vus a lot. Or somewhere seems more familiar than it should be. And the narrator is a writer, I think :)

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    2. I think you might be right... and I think a lot of writers have that deja vu...

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    3. Beautiful and we've all been there. That moment when you think, Didn't I just write this?But it makes it hard to get away from the idea that we really DO CREATE experience with our thoughts, doesn't it?

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    4. Agreed, you captured this really well, Leland. "Sometimes you worry that you are God in their paper universe." That's the shit right there.

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    5. I love this whole thing SO hard. Most of us have been there, yeah. But that last line is pure gold. Thank you for sharing.

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    6. "God in their paper universe." Indeed the shit. And I love the rhythm.

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    7. Especially love the last two lines. :D

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    8. Put as lovely as I've ever heard it put "You know not to speak of this knowing to others, because they don’t understand..."

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    9. And I love your kind words! Thank you!

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  4. Life on the street, there’s no happily ever after. There’s just now and when do I get to eat again. Yesterdays blur together, shelters and handouts, I don’t even look in their eyes when I beg any more. I just say a prayer as I stare at their shoes.
    Shoes. That’s something the average guy don’t think of. I mean, he thinks of which pair to wear, but he doesn’t think what’d it be like to have holes in the soles all winter long. Or holes in the soul, either. Average guy, his belly’s full, or overfull. He’s looking for the next big thrill.
    Me? I’m just lookin’ for a burger, maybe enough cash for a hit of booze. I wear my sad face like the guy wears his shoes. Plenty of sad for me, plenty of shoes for him. But sad don't need no polishing.

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    1. I'll give you a burger. There's gotta be some nice angel of a person coming around that next corner. Fave line is the end one. Ker-ching!

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    2. This piece rolls so well. And I love the shoes. I think you can learn a lot about people from their shoes. And that last line is a killer.

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    3. Poetic and yes the last line is a killer only slightly more than what leads up to it.

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  5. I met him in the corner of a tavern, a corner so dark the light was afraid to enter there. He’d said I’d recognize him by his tie, and he described a pattern of Mickey Mouse as a stockbroker. I didn’t need to see the pattern. He was the only guy in the place with a tie.
    “Joe?” he asked in that tentative first-timer’s voice.
    “Yeah,” I answered, balancing bored and interested.
    “Can I buy you a drink?” The guy spoke without contractions. Like a writer. Like a guy with money and no time on the streets.
    “Sam Adams.”
    When he came back from the bar, carrying a bottle for me and another for him, he set the bottles on the stand-up table and looked down at the floor.
    “Hey,” I said, putting my finger under his chin, lifting his face up so I could see his eyes. His eyes were as silent as his mouth. His mouth, with lips that looked kissable. I leaned in, and kissed them. What the hell.
    “I am supposed to pay you before we start, right? So you know you are not being ripped off?”
    I could feel his pulse, his nervousness, his excitement coloring the air around him. The flush of his cheeks fluoresced in the dark corner. “Yeah. I’d like that.”
    He pulled out a money clip with more than my life savings from his pocket.
    “Um, don’t do that in public. Never flash your cash.”
    “Oh.”
    Lord, I didn’t know they made them this innocent any more.
    “Let’s go back to my place.”
    He looked tentative. “Are you sure?”
    “Yeah. I think I can trust you. A guy with that much money, I can trust.”
    That night, the guy with the tie got an education, and I got a bankroll. They won’t find the body till next week when the maid comes to clean the room.

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    1. I like my stories from the seedier side of town with a softness as well as their "it's in the water" grit. You delivered, Leland. Felt like I was the eavesdropping bad angel on that escort's shoulder.

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    2. Thank you kindly! If you're a bad angel, you are a good influence!

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    3. NO! I didn't see that coming. Guess he was Mickey Mouse.

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    4. I can't say it any better than Joe. Awesome piece.

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    5. Oh, holy crap. Awesome piece.

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    6. Loving this hard Leland. More please.

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    7. Did not see that last line coming. Well played.

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    8. Sometimes the dark angel wins...

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  6. Dutch had been sweating away the past two years in this burro fart of a whistlestop just knowing his old partner, Cade Roberts would come looking for him after his release from Yuma prison. Cade was to serve a hard five for a robbery the old Dutch committed before he found Marisol and Jesus.

    “Hmmph, maybe he died in there and I got nothin’ nothin’ to explain to him anymore. Or maybe he got religion and was saved like me and come to forgive them’s what trespassed against him,” Dutch said to no one but himself and God. He entered the old mission church and pushed aside the curtain to Padre Dominico’s confessional.

    As he had every Saturday night for two years, Dutch knelt before the woven screen, crossed himself there in the soothing but not-quite anonymous darkness, sighed in faith and recited, “Bendíceme padre, porque he pecado ... que ha sido una semana desde mi última confesión.”

    When he heard the click of the hammer and a voice from the other side of the screen say, “Go ahead, I’ve been waiting five years to hear this confession, mi hijo,” Dutch fired absolution from the Colt he always pulled in the dark. After a quick Hail Mary, he made the Sign of the Cross and stepped out of the confessional with the relieved smile of someone saved by the Church.

    His guilty waiting was over.

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    1. WOW... this line: "Dutch fired absolution from the Colt..." blows me away! Well done with the stunning contrast of absolution and sin!

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    2. Yeah, I agree, and for me it was also a darkly comic moment in the way it was written - the quick Hail Mary and sign of the cross, as if it would forgive him everything.

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    3. This is just beautiful! This is REALLY how people actually think in certain burro farts of whistlestops in certain parts of the world! Kudos jefe!

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    4. This is so rich but spare in the right places. Fantastic piece. I agree with Leland about the Colt. The dialogue is perfect, too. Ace.

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    5. What they all said. Sorry I'm late to this party.

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    6. Spare and mean, in a the best way. Loved the idea of a "soothing but not quite anonymous darkness..."

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  7. They were fourteen that summer, that summer of dandelions and dreams. These woods and this tiny lake belonged to his grandfather then. Now, his arms embraced one particular tree, a tree the two of them sat beneath back then, sandwiches and sweet tea, stolen kisses, too.
    He remembered the day he’d carved their initials into this bark. His fingers traced the scar, like a lover rediscovering the skin of his beloved. The heart scratched around the letters was even, but so had been their love, lopsided and lyrical.
    Who knew then, other than Cupid, that they would be together for 53 years, through carelessness and kids and karma, in sickness and in health. Sickness. That was what finally had separated them. A cancer that grew near her heart, in the breasts he had loved, in the breasts that nurtured his children.
    It seemed fitting that the tree, too, had succumbed to death. Its neighbors sported the green of spring, the hope for summer, but its limbs remained bare and brittle.
    He released the tree from his arms, said a prayer, and picked up the chainsaw.

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    1. nooooo! don't cut down the tree of memories! that's the saddest part. Love the scar in the bark and the images of their lopsided love.
      I wanna go save that tree!

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    2. Have him use the wood to make his own coffin! No. Wait. I must not write other people's stories. I mustnotwriteotherpeople'sstories,I must not write otherpeople's...But hey, on a brighter note. If I didn't love it, I wouldn't have even wanted to!.

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    3. Yeah, I love this one, too. The ache of it. God, Leland. You're going to break my heart.

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    4. So sad, bittersweet. So touching.

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    5. Lovely. The tree might physically go but it clearly won't matter.

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    6. To me, the cutting down of the tree was...letting go. Accepting loss, no matter how much it hurts or changes things. I think it's beautiful.

      And Teresa, I'd have him use it to make _her_ coffin. I'm a romantic like that.

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    7. Thanks... it makes me proud that such good writers like something I've written... y'all make my day more often than you know.

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  8. Maybe you had to be there. The memory plays like a song on the radio. And you feel it, don’t you? The way it makes you want to weep or sing, knowing you had a soul. And silvery shards of thought go flying in all directions as that feeling whispers its direction, treacherous, purplish prose. You know again how moonlight smells and the silky darkness of the water, the exquisite cool in the heat of that night. You listened to your heart, never knowing it could lie. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, sweetness and magic and light and lust. The memory comes and leaves and leaves you gasping; powerless to explain. So you pick up the pieces of your incompleteness, thinking that bastard was right. April is the cruelest.
    Maybe you had to be there, but I went there alone.

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    1. Oh... this is good. You evoked so much with so few words... and the borrowing of a word or two from each lyric... genius! The last line is exactly what it needs to be. Thank you!

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    2. TS Eliot, no? April is the cruellest month?
      Love this. very expressive.

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    3. Dang, this is good. So evocative and rich - really interesting and compelling construction, too.

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    4. I will always crave to know how moonlight smells after this. Very rich indeed.

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  9. On his eighteenth birthday, Devon’s aunt had given him a new wallet with a crisp twenty inside. For luck, she said. Halfway out the door, one last check to make sure he had everything he needed for a day of classes, he discovered the bill was missing, and he had a good idea where it had gone.

    “I would have given you the money if you’d asked. All you think of is yourself, you don’t—” Devon froze, clutching his empty wallet, words he wanted to reel back still hanging like a bitter cloud around his head. Lee was stuffing a handful of clothing into a knapsack. “Where are you going?”

    He didn’t answer.

    “Tell me you aren’t going back there.”

    Devon’s younger brother shrugged, casting his eyes around the tiny bedroom they’d been sharing since their aunt and uncle took them in.

    “I forbid you from leaving.”

    Lee merely smirked. The tactic didn’t work when they were kids; why did he think it would work now? “Still think you’re the boss of me, huh. Elder brother, get a life.”

    “Just be careful,” Devon said. “Please.”

    “I’m always careful. Besides.” Lee shouldered his pack, flipped down his shades and flashed his brother a charming smile. “I have your lucky twenty, don’t I?”

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    1. And again you nail it... we don't even know where he's going, but the story keeps writing itself in the reader's head... well done.

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    2. Ah, he's so selfish. Does that mean Devon will run into bad luck and Lee be protected? I wanna know!

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    3. Gaaah. I want the whole story. The backstory the rest of the story. I want to know more about these two.

      Evil woman. :)

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    4. I DON'T want the rest of the story. You balanced this perfectly. It's awesome. And sad. And too familiar - I've known them both. Bravo.

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    5. So real. It's such a familiar scenario. Yes, I want to know the whole story, but in a way I think I already do. Now THAT's writing.

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    6. Believable and sad. The clarity of your treatment makes it compelling.

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  10. Though he called it a hobby he enjoyed, we suspected he was a sad victim of obsessive-compulsive behavior, the way he was driven to fill notebooks of lists, each page left-columned with numbers from one to whatever, penned with a slow hand.

    “Here,” he would say, flashing one of his books, “is my list of the movies I have seen
    from childhood to the one yesterday. My favorite is number 452 –– Psycho, which inspired me to keep a list of all the books I’ve kept near the bathroom shower far back as I can remember, and colors of shower curtains, and all shapes of toothbrushes.”

    Then he would pull down one more notebook from his bookcase library and read from its pages of lists with so much pride it scared us to the bone.

    “This is my hobby,” he’d tell us. “It makes me happy to list the things I’ve seen and done and lost, even those I’ve numbered among them: family, friends, Herbie my Retriever whose gold dimmed in old age –– all numbered in my books!”

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    1. Ahhhh, but what a beautiful thing this is... and "Herbie the Retriever whose gold dimmed" is a stroke of genius....

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    2. That's so sweet. I just to keep a book of the books I read. :)

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    3. This is a brilliantly nuanced piece, Sal. I love it. My Grandfather kept little books of the things he did during the day. Nothing special. Just a log. I always loved him for it.

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    4. Hunting, in a way. A hobby that isn't really, but fills a deeper need.

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    5. This was awesome cause it was so scary. Or maybe scary cause it was so awesome.

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    6. Why does he keep these lists? Why must he record what he has read, where he has gone, the people he could not keep? I suspect we all have our own way to hold on to the slippage of time. We may not keep notebooks. Perhaps our memories are sharp enough to cut through the fleeting moments assigned to us, and we can reach out and grasp those loving ticks and tocks long enough before they vanish again. Or does he keep the notebooks because he has not learned the joy and wisdom of enjoying the moment as it is lived, right here in the present?

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  11. It’s the tune, they said. The thing you play. The song in your head, it just keeps on playing. Spindling along, blowing up clouds – drama, tears, laughter. Avoiding pain at all costs, but stumbling into it anyways, becoming lost. The maze keeps creeping in, the walls closing in, darkening. There’s a pathway in between. It eels between things, cheats you, throws you a lifeline when you’re not looking. Keep pretending it doesn’t matter, that nothing matters, that you’ve reached the end; the end of things. Yet the maze still hides you. You keep your eyes closed, but that won’t make you invisible. You’re still here. Still fighting. It’s bringing you down, this world, but you’re still here. Still breathing. The end turned its back on you and the beginning just re-began.

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    1. I am in love with the last line... it's all beautiful, but that last line is brilliant.

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    2. Thanks, Leland. I was on a downer today - one of those days - and it came out of that.

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    3. I had to google ourobouros & then realised... I have a necklace depicting it!

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    4. Wow. "It eels between things" - that will stick with me for a while. The whole thing is amazing. There's something about that phrasing, though...

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    5. Yeah, the eels got me too. Well done.

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    6. Reading this felt cathartic, like getting air outdoors after being stuck inside all day. I suspect it was the last line that did it for me too.

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  12. Lost

    They say there is nothing
    To be said
    Yet there is always
    An essence of something
    I count to two and keep on
    Writing what comes
    In a flash
    A splash of blue
    The rest of you
    So here it is
    This mind confusion
    Of mine
    This silvery net we cast
    Gathering all we are
    Setting each one apart
    Yet so much the same
    I hear you talking
    See your lips move
    Not listening
    Your ideas fail to mean
    As you stand there
    Saying your bit
    Peering at me that way
    Words so worthless
    A disconnect from the real
    Where the world spills
    Its lousy heart
    Like liquid streaming
    Trickling between cobbles
    Washing them clean
    Only to vanish forever
    Below the streets
    Where nothing lives.

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    1. Man, I imagine that there is a well that you dip a bucket into - pulling out these beautiful strings of words. Fantastic.

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  13. The hitch-hiker

    No time like the present
    She said

    Wished yesterday revolved
    Wishing upon the thing
    As the oil spilled forth
    Dark and rich
    Congealing in her hands
    Like sin

    The time was for the taking
    The day eaten by the night
    A still, arched moon
    Breathed
    Against the howling wind
    Like a curse

    She stood guard over it
    Her own body
    And the soul caged
    The remnants
    As the car turned
    Like a hearse

    “Are you going my way?”
    She asked the profile
    Flicking a smile
    Opening her hands
    Clean, so bare
    Like innocence

    Twisted is the way
    I am
    She said
    Not so long ago
    To the last passer-by
    Like a game

    This one has a crazy air
    A dark wildness
    He flicks back his hair
    Spits in the dirt
    Curses this old life
    Like a reject

    In her hands she carries it
    All, despairing
    Slipping into the car
    Too close to him
    Offering a smile
    Like a child

    But the demon inside her
    Rages hot and cold
    Eager to howl
    Translucent as this moon
    In a moment she’ll snap
    Like hell itself

    No time like the present
    She said

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    1. Day eaten by the night? Writer's envy on that line alone.

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    2. So good. I can't even think of how to explain how much I like this piece.

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  14. Penny shivered, clutching her arms to herself.

    “You’re cold? Maybe you should wear a few more clothes. You’re going to give that boy of yours ideas, dressing like that!”

    Her father nodded. “Only he’s no more a boy than I am. I’ve seen him looking at you. He’s trouble, I say. You stay out too late too. You should have been home hours ago!”

    “No, you’re both wrong!” Penny threw herself back onto the sofa, its feet grating across the floor. “We were only talking. It was cold on the porch. I dress like everyone else does. Fashion changes; no-one dresses like you used to now.”

    Her mother sighed, seeming to relax. “You know we only want what’s best for you, honey. We were young ourselves once. You have to remember that.”

    “I know.” Penny leaned forward. “It’s just that you’re so much older than me. However can you know how I feel?”

    “You’d be surprised.” Her mother nudged her husband, winking at him, saucily.

    “Ewww, Mom!”

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    1. This has a "been there, done that" feel to it, Mark. Very true to life feel to it.

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    2. My kid just came home from college for spring break with ass-high skirts and a nose pierce. On her WORST day she's WAY more conservative than I EVER WAS. Help me keep that a secret, Okay?

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    3. The ending is the kicker. Nice piece.

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    4. Well in, Mark. Relatable and subtly painted. A scene we have all revolved around in some way, fresh.

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    5. lol, that last line says it all. Love it.

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    6. Ahhh Mark, this piece is on point and relatable is right, esp the ending.

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    7. You romantic, you... this is good!

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  15. In the crush of the elevator, 16th floor, wedged into the corner, I feel the warmth glowing off that girl from Audit's body and the air around us bursts in my head with the heat and sweat of blatantly reminiscent proximity and recharged perfume.

    Ms. Bevilacqua, yeah that's her name, steps back and bumps her rump against my thigh and I felt like the first time I'd gotten the courage to dance with Her, heart clanging against her nascent breasts at the touch of clutched fingers full of rings behind my neck. Between my uncool gasps as I breathed the aroma of Her hair that night, we shared no conversation other than my choked, "Thank you. See ya Monday." But I saw Her staring at me from my bedroom ceiling for the next two nights.

    -DING-

    The elevator doors open again as three more employees enter on 12, and Ms. Stacie Bevilaqua is pressed tighter to me now. I'm sure my face is as red as when I would linger with my head upside down "searching" for a book under my desk, but actually watching those to-you perfect legs hang from saddle shoes toe-tapping the floor and hoping for a spoonful of thigh for the starving teen should She turn to her girlfriend in the seat behind Hers.

    -DING-

    You think you forgot after forty years, until that bump, a brush of skin, a whiff of might-be echoes of Charlie perfume. Theres the sinking feeling again...probably just eight more floors of elevator drop. So you open your eyes and Stacie is shyly smiling up at you, but the elevator doors are still open, and -DING- you just can't help but smile back and whisper, "Thank you. See ya Monday," when she gets off on 3.

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  16. Note: After watching Leland post about this for so long, I've decided to come over and give it a shot or two. I'm rusty, but I'm trying to get the machinery working again. Just sayin'...
    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Digger can feel the morning chill fading away as they walk. The sun isn't high yet, but it's strobing through the trees as they move, flashing on and off like a thousand papparazzi cameras. He has no idea where Robert is taking him, he's only following along. The underbrush scratches at his legs as they pass; he wishes he'd worn long pants instead of shorts, the hell with how hot it's going to get.

    Robert takes a turn and they start walking on an uphill slope again. The extra effort makes him start to sweat, and Digger wonders if it's not too late to tell Robert to forget it and let's go back and crack open a couple of brews. But no; that's not really an option anymore. He sighs. Probably won't be one for a long time to come, after this.

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    Replies
    1. It's good to see you here! And I really like the feel of this, and how you leave us with questions at the end...

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    2. I love how you pulled me right into the scene...and left me hanging at the end. Nicely done. :)

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    3. Yeah, really deftly played. And the strobe image is killer. Please continue to come share your words with us. :)

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    4. I loved that strobe image , too. I often think of trees that way when I'm in the car. Good one.

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    5. Very nice imagery and cool name: Digger. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. Pretending a calm he didn’t feel, Nate sipped water from a red Solo cup and let his gaze move slowly around the room. So many beautiful women, all dressed to the nines. Tall, short, thin, curvy, blond, brunette, redhead, peaches and cream, mocha latte, tawny, and porcelain. And they were all his for the asking.

    Unfortunately, most of them were either drunk or well on their way to being drunk.

    Once upon a time, being surrounded by tipsy or trashed but hot-as-hell women, any of whom would be his at the snap of his fingers, would have been a dream come true. But that was before. Before his big brother had fallen down the rabbit hole.

    The rabbit hole had been long and deep and scary as hell, and Jen had taken his little brother along for the ride. It’d given Nate a strong distaste for drunk and disorderly.

    He sipped his water again and then slid into his stage persona, letting his shoulders slide back slightly and one corner of his mouth turn up in a cocky grin. He pushed away thoughts of his brother and the past, focusing instead on getting through the next few hours. He could do this. He had to.

    “Show time,” he said to himself, and strode into his own personal hell with a smile pasted on his face.

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    1. You put me into the shoes of that performer... and really, of all performers. What we as "watchers" demand of them is to be something more--or at least different than--what they are. Thank you.

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    2. Yeah, the Solo cup really nails the scene. Such a simple thing, but it sets the whole piece in motion. Awesome piece, G.

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    3. Love this. The tension is palpable.

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  18. "May I light your cigarette?"

    Joon looked up at the question. Eyes dark as night and filled with sin met hers. Between them was a lighter she barely noticed. Automatically, her hand raised the cigarette to her lips.

    The lighter came closer, flame bursting suddenly to life. She inhaled the heat, the tobacco and paper lighting without hesitation.

    She blinked. The eyes were gone, along with the lighter. Taking a drag on the cig, she glanced around. There was no sign of the gentleman or his lighter.

    Odd.

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    Replies
    1. Ah, just a bit of the macabre... I like it! And I really like the way you bring the flame to life!

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    2. I love the descriptives. And this is nicely weird. :)

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    3. Agreed. There is a shift in balance for the reader and the darkness is just dark enough. Really intriguing work.

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    4. Thank you, gang, for the input! :)

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  19. “The stories are true, you know,” he said as he stirred the campfire.
    “And what stories would those be?”
    “The fairies and goblins, slipping through a tear in reality on midsummer night.”
    She cackled. “Sure they are.”
    “You don’t believe?”
    “If you’re trying to scare me into sharing a sleeping bag with you, it’s not working.”
    “Have it your way then.” He didn’t say much after that.
    When at last the flames died down, she yawned. “I’m turning in. I’ll see you in the morning.”
    “Sleep well. Beware the fairies and goblins.”
    She laughed again as she headed to the trees to perform her evening ablutions.
    He found her there, the next morning, her body covered in tiny knife wounds.
    “You ought to have believed me, lassie. The goblins bite, but those fairy swords are poison.”

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    Replies
    1. Wow. I'm not going to count the words, but there aren't many and you conveyed so much here. That last line ... awesome.

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    2. Thanks! that's an honor to hear!

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  20. The number came up on his monitor. Random call number 23. He listened for the pick up.
    Hello? He hesitated. She sounded nice. Maybe in her forties. Probably had cats. If they sounded nice, he never said it, never looked at the script he’d recite from memory. He’d said it often enough and done pretty well. But not if they were nice. He wasn’t that kind of man. Not yet.
    Hello? The woman said again. Click. He stared at the phone, thinking about her cats.
    He hit the button, it dialed again, somewhere in Maine. Daddy? Is that you? God, I didn’t know who to call. It’s Mom, dad—she’s in the hospital. Dad? Dad? I don’t know what to do!”
    Click.
    It wouldn’t be that one. Too bad. He could tell was young. And pretty. And scared. He wondered if they knew all the things he knew about them. Like if they were sick or got lucky the night before. The smokers and the drinkers; the late-night thinkers. The stressed out singles and stay-at-home moms. Just by the way they answered a phone.
    He twirled his finger in front of the touch screen as if he might conjure the right number next. His commissions were down; his quota was up. Something needed to happen.
    He heard it ring;half a world away.Georgia, it told him. He wondered what it looked like, imagine mountains and some green. A lake where children played and people laughed in the open air. He would go to America, someday soon. He would see the people and greet them shyly. And they would never know that had spoken; that he knew them from the phone. The phone picked up, making him jump.
    “Yeah? Whaddaya want?”
    Bingo.
    “Good morning sir.” His accent was perfect with a just a hint of the Queen’s English. “My name is Julian James and I am currently employed by the Microsoft corporation. Unfortunately, we have had it come to our attention that your email account…uhhmm. Let me see, DapperDons@gmail dot com?
    Yeah, that’s me.
    Sir,regrettably your account has been hacked.
    Jesus Christ! I do all my business from there! My ads, everything!
    I understand, sir. There is a virus, you understand. But with your permission, and for a fee…”

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    Replies
    1. ohhhhhh.... way too close to truth! This should be classified under "horror"!

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    2. Loving this. And this "Maybe in her forties. Probably had cats." is perfect. The cadence, the effect. Perfect.

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  21. “They’re called ‘lupine,’” the deep voice behind her announced.
    “Why? Why named for a wolf?”
    “No one actually knows. Some say it attracts wolves, others say it repels them.”
    “A flower. Why would a wolf care for a flower, one way or the other?”
    “Wolves care for many things, ma’am. They have noses that can smell 10,000 times better than yours and mine. They appreciate the moon in its fullness and sing to it. When was the last time you even looked at the moon?”
    She nodded. She’d become an indoor girl over the last couple of years.
    “Look, there rises the full moon now,” he said, placing his paw upon her shoulder.

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  22. Debbie feigned sleep while Raoul showered. While he made his coffee and smacked his lips over breakfast and started up his tricked-out car. Only when the garage door closed did she get out of bed and begin her own day. She didn’t even clean up the mess he’d left behind - the wet coffee grounds and the crumb-spattered plates and the knife and counter smeared with peanut butter. It didn’t matter anymore. She already had the files she needed, loaded onto two thumb drives, one to take with her and one in the safety-deposit box she’d never told him about. For a price, a beauty salon just out of town would keep her secret. So would a new credit card and a new name. She was tired of the jokes that refused to die, the copies of the old video that showed up in her mailbox, the sly looks in the supermarket. And Raoul, who took too damned big a cut and rarely delivered what he’d promised. No. She’d find a new city, a new job, a new way of life. Debbie would no longer do Dallas.

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    Replies
    1. Holy crap. That last line. Awesome Boris.

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    2. f'yeah.... this is killer... and what Dan said... the last line is perfect.

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    3. This is just priceless. :)

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    4. You had me hooked and then sent me somewhere I was not prepared to go. Great work!

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  23. The world is yours and you don’t know it yet. You only think that other people have the keys, that other people make the rules, but it’s all being held in custody for you, all ready to roll out like bright and shiny ribbon, the future crooking its fingers for you to follow. Maybe now your feet are small and your strides fumbly, but that will change. You will grow strong and sure and take those first steps, holding a hand at first but soon on your own. Then you’ll turn around and wave one last time and claim your path. It might twist and turn and fork or even double back on itself while you choose another, but it’s yours.

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    1. This is a beautiful gift... to all who are innocent, whether child or not... I really like it!

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    2. Oh, that aches - that gap between parent and child that can never be bridged.

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  24. This damned roller coaster has no end. Once on, there is no stop, no getting off, not even for a short bit. It keeps going - up and down, up and down. You may say I imagine it but I swear the ups are slower, lower, and the downs slide faster and go deeper. The in-betweens, where there's supposed to be a lull, a rest - well, they're getting shorter. No, don't try to convince me I'm being paranoid. Don't tell me it isn't so. They don't even give me time to catch my breath any more.

    I can see it in your eyes. You look away, try to hide it, deny it, but you know I'm right. You're on it, too, as stuck as I am.

    You know, I don't even remember getting on. I hate roller coasters. They make me sick, give me headaches. Remember?

    You meet my eyes, a sad, slow nod. Yes, you feel it, too. There's no getting off - not until the end - the end we know is inevitable but can't see - don't want to see - yet.

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    Replies
    1. Brilliant piece, Yvonne. Such a strong feeling of connection, and I love the idea of not remembering.

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    2. Ahhh... a relationship with an inevitable but unwanted end... I've had one or two of those, and you describe it perfectly.

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    3. Love this, the metaphor, and that third paragraph.

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  25. She didn’t understand it. There was no rational explanation for it. Jarod’s family, there were just so many of them. And they were so . . . so nice. She and her mother had been alone for so much of her childhood; she never felt lonely but instead felt the shelter and shield of a twosome. After her mom died, she went seamlessly into living arrangements and the waiting arms of Cliff, her first serious boyfriend.

    So it felt strange that Jarod’s father and brothers were so cool to be around and had seemed to wrap her under their protection like a valid member of the tribe. His sister Grace too had treated her as if she were already a loving jovial sister, sharing clothes and confidences with the same guileless sincerity practically on the first night they met. Most odd, was Jarod himself and how he was when in close proximity of his family.

    Jarod, whom she thought might be the warmest, most perceptive, and generous man she’d ever known had a subtle change of countenance the moment he crossed his father’s threshold. Slightly cold, slightly distant, Jarod suddenly seemed to have a titanium force field surrounding him. It was noticeable and it made her feel leery in the face of his father’s graciousness.

    Worse yet, she suspected if she weren’t there then Jarod might not have come either or been even more withdrawn if he did. That made the least sense of all since he couldn’t possibly expect to use their fledgling relationship as a buffer with his family. What they felt for each other rose and fed quickly like brushfire. But could it bear the scrutiny or trials of bitter or messy family squabbles at this stage?

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    1. The complexity of character here is really impressive. There are so many things at play here. The set up is stellar. People are complicated. You nailed it.

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  26. It wasn't me. I didn't take it. You can keep saying it, but the world took it - it's just easier to blame one person. But easy doesn't mean right and right is a questionable word at best. Best left to rest.

    I am not the dark form of your nightmares. I am the reflection of your paranoia. I am the soft hint of carrion stink on a warm summer evening. You resist, hold back, give too much, feel too deeply. You are the one who needs adjustment.

    The colors fade and the trumpets blare on the promenade. I sit, watch. You are killing us both. Your truth is made of lies. Wrap yourself. Dab some of this under your nose. Damn the stink of the rising tide.

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    1. Kinda grabs me around the throat.

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    2. Me, too. Kind of icky sad. But it grabs me.

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    3. Grabbed me, too. And suddenly, I smelled Vicks VapoRub under my nose. Never mind the two carrion limit.

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  27. It's hard to see, I have to say. You shouldn't have to relive moments like that. You shouldn't have to see faces that hurt you. You shouldn't have to relive the moment and smile and think, "well, I guess it never mattered anyway."

    You took so much, and you did it with such cavalier bravado. And I've lived with it for twenty years, trying to bluff it off because it couldn't have been THAT bad, right? I mean, I was a boy and you were a girl. Such a silly world. Double standards hurt twice as much, two decades passed.

    The truth will out, though. And someday, the piper will get paid.

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    Replies
    1. True, on all counts. So much in so few words.

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    2. so much honesty, so well presented. And that piper is hungry for getting paid.

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  28. I'm a happy guy, see. Look at the flash in my mocha eyes. I would never tell you lies.

    I don't think negative thoughts. The world is a beautiful flower.

    Sure, some folks got it rough, but God has a plan.

    I'd never tell you how to live your life, never judge your choices.

    Look Ma, no cavities.

    Ain't it grand?

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  29. You cut through the heart strings and wonder why the SNAP SNAP SNAP. I went to Paris and all I got was the Clap. Fuck a witty t-shirt, I'll take days inert, static - I am inertia and the laws of Newton don't got nothing to do with figs.

    You look at me with those big, soft eyes and all I see is one long surprise. The gasp when the scalpel bites. The promises that get you through the long, black night.

    I've cut too deep and too many words came out. Now, I gotta wrangle 'em. And it's a tough job for a city slicker, ain't no doubt about that. My mind is a rat trap. A bludgeon - a hobo's sap.

    Look at the sky and wonder at the brilliance of the dance. Close your eyes and remember when you thought you had a chance.

    I hear birds and big rigs. I remember so few happy gigs.

    But blah blah blah and fuck it, suck it, let it be the drip-blood bucket. It is what it is and what it is is meaningless. I'll check the bank balance, you start the car.

    Don't worry, we ain't going far.

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  30. Say what you will about capital punishment, whether you believe in it or don’t, when it’s happening to you, the debate is over. There’s nothin’ to do but to say your prayers.
    So yeah, I stole a few things. Who knew that stealing from one of the rich guys would piss them off? I mean, who’d even think they’d notice? But they did.
    Two other guys got it, too. Another thief like me and a crazy man. Seriously, they kill you for being crazy? I know a lot of politicians who might make sure they don’t turn their backs on anyone with a weapon. Crazy.
    So there we are. Other guy’s makin’ fun of the lunatic. Mocking him. Finally I tell him to shut up. We’re gettin’ what’s comin’ to us, but he should leave the crazy guy alone. It’s just not right, makin’ fun of him.
    I try to break the tension. “Hey buddy, see you on the other side.”
    He smiles at me. “You, my friend, I’m taking with me. You’re my right-hand man!”
    “Yeah?” I ask. “Where we goin’”
    “We’re going to Paradise my friend. We’re on our way to Paradise.”
    The ground shook, and we were on our way. Who knew a crazy man could tell the truth?

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  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  32. Jacob gestured at his wrist, as if pointing at a watch, and hissed, “tempus fugit, nigga, let’s go!”

    Ray was nervous enough already without his brother pressuring him. They didn’t appear to have attracted any attention in breaking into the tony suburban home off Mount Diablo Boulevard, but no doubt they had tripped a silent alarm, and had maybe a few minutes before the cops showed up. Then they’d probably have to shoot their way out, which nobody wanted. Tim had already lugged the big flat-screen TV out to the truck, and was loading up a big backpack with fine china, sterling silverware, and high-end small appliances.

    While Ray was gathering small electronics like laptops, tablets, and phones, Jacob was tossing the master bedroom for cash, jewelry, and other valuables. After maybe three minutes of frenzied looting, the three young men darted back out the front door with sacks and armfuls of the Fieldings’ valuables, and into the Chrysler minivan their homeboy Brian stole specifically for this job. As they headed for the freeway, the sight of the cop cars speeding toward the crime scene filled them with a mix of dread and exhilaration that came out as an uproar of nervous laughter. By the time they were back over the hills in Oakland, they were blasting “Fuck Tha Police” over the van’s stereo and rapping along, talking about how they were going to fence the loot, and what frivolous things they’d buy with the cash.

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    1. I don't know how you make burglary hilarious to me but you do. Could easily see their precarious balancing act. Them coming out clean was a surprising and nice touch.

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    2. I like it. The soundtrack is a nice touch. ;)

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  33. She pads into his bedroom, silent as her aging cat, Mr. Marbury. It isn't proper, and if her mother finds out, there will be hell to pay. What was expected at age nine is taboo now that she is nineteen, but she doesn't care. It isn't as if he sees her as a woman, anyway, even though she is now. She's still just "Little Bit." Most times, she wishes it were different, that he saw her for who she'd become instead of who she'd always been. But tonight...tonight was different. Tonight she needed to be "Little Bit." She needed him to feel brotherly. She needed him to let her snuggle beneath the blankets and tell her silly stories until her nightmares faded enough to let her sleep again. Daylight would see a return of her longing and his indifference, but tonight, in the still darkness of the witching hour, they could be children again, the best of friends, not hobbled by the bounds of polite society. It would have to be enough.

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    Replies
    1. That's so sweet. And so familiar. Great story telling.

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    2. Yup, really well played, Laura.

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  34. "Biting into a challenge instead of being shimmering piece of fluff isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there's just too much fight in the world. I for one am sick of being pissed off. Give me one day where the chariots aren't riding wild and rough like warrior transports to hell and that will be a day where I can honestly tell you I got some damn sleep. And if that’s too much to ask then I can and will keep up but I don’t have to like it and I don’t have promote that shit either. Just give me a piece that won’t blow up in my hand and I’ll be there. When I’m dead you can apologize for being shortsighted."

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    Replies
    1. Man, I want one of those days, too. I like this piece, Lily. You thinking of expanding?

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  35. “I just wanna say FUCK YOU. FUCK you and your entire goddamned family. Fuck you and the sorry assed ground you walk on. Fuck you and the rotten, putrid air you breathe. After today, I'll never speak to you again. If , and it better be a huge damned “if...” if I never see you again, ever see you again in life... it will be too goddamned soon. You rotten, thieving, lying, no good bastard.”

    Valerie, shouting to the her empty surroundings, slammed cabinets, threw dishes against the wall, scattered remnants of food from the refrigerator to the floors of the apartment in blind, raging anger. Feeling an immense pleasure at the slimy feel of the crushed grapes and strawberries, smashed and smeared across the marble floor and thick piled white carpet. If only it had been his head, either of them. She'd had it, had never been so angry in life. All she could feel was the urge to hurt, the way she had been.

    Pulling out drawers and emptying their contents to the floor, she rammed everything of value, every piece of jewelry or cash he thought he'd hidden from her, into the gaping opening of her small backpack. The larger, designated for clothing, stood ready for departure by the wall adjacent to the front door.

    Finally, one more look around and a quick rush to the bathroom, one to vomit away her anxiety and the other as necessity, Valerie was ready to leave. She paused at the odd  gurgling sound coming from the back of the toilet and reluctantly stepped back into the room to investigate. Lifting the lid, she jumped back at the swollen black object that popped up, to float at the surface. On closer examination her fear turned to astonishment and she danced around in excitement. The urge to plunge her hands in the water and grab the bag out was staled by her OCD and her reluctance to touch anything gross.
    Using the hook handle of the shower brush to fish the plastic bag from the water, she carried the dripping mess into the kitchen, stuffed it into a dry garbage bag and then into a reusable grocery bag before stuffing it into the backpack. She grabbed her belongings, practically ran from the apartment, without looking behind her or shutting the door. With good luck that had never been with her one single day of her life, she made it to the bus stop and jumped into the approaching bus. She took it as a sign life would be better from then on.

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    1. Love it Ey. Just loved the whole thing. Particularly "if only it had been his head, either of them" and the "stalled by her OCD and reluctance to touch something gross". So looking forward to these ladies.

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    2. Ey. SO GOOD. God, the heartbeat in this. I agree with Lily. I want t know more.

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    3. Thank you both. The Valeries as I have been calling them, pops their heads out at the oddest times.
      Laurie, at the moment I don't know anything else about this particular, Valerie. I saw the post in Tools and came over here.

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    4. Agreed. I really like the intimacy of the passion here. You can feel the anger. And the OCD touches are really effective.

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  36. He walked home, wishing that it was raining, or even snowing. Something, anything, to match his mood. He was walking home, for God sake. From his job. As a houseman. A fairly bad houseman. Two years ago he hadn't know what a houseman was. Hell, two months ago he hadn't. Not really.

    This wasn't his life. It couldn't be his life. He'd been personal assistant to the king, to a god. He'd made people quake with fear. He'd been someone. Now he skulked in hallways. His job was to not be seen. To be invisible as he got the rich and powerful what they wanted and needed. He was nothing.

    This wasn't supposed to happen. He had only borrowed a little bit of petty cash. He was going to put it back. But even so, how could they all turn away from him? His friends had forsaken him. His contacts had disappeared into the ether. He was making a fourth of what he had been, and he had no power.

    He'd thought that the power was in him. Not in the position. As it turned out, he was just wielding it for as long as he had the title. Now he was just a random guy walking home after work.

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    Replies
    1. Brilliant little piece. Insightful. And --dare I say? -- powerful.

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    2. I agree. There is a ferocious frustration here - it is indeed powerful.

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  37. Well, ya did it, again! So powerful that I couldn't read them all last night so I could digest what I HAD read.

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