Friday, April 10, 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. 

Just step on up, boy - toe that line. There's only so many allowed on the other side, but don't go grousing about it, check your ticket number, you memorize that shit. It's gotta be like your middle name - you gotta be ready. See, folks are strange. They get here and they get bored and then they get to eye-wandering around and it's a big clusterfucking mess. Sure, there's pretty birds in swaying trees. Sure, the air smells like honeysuckle and your allergies don't matter anymore. Sure, bud, sure. Just don't go staring at limpid sunsets and miss the bus. We got a room for folks that miss the bus, and you don't want to be in it. 

I hear ya, pal. You're tired - things are rough down there. I understand. The desire, I mean. It's tempting - there's a whole world here you'll never get to see. Pretty girls in sun-dresses so thin they make old men shudder. There's a thousand kinds of sunshine and, if that's too much, the shade smells like cinnamon. Doesn't matter - you got something even better coming, I reckon. Long as I don't catch ya staring for too long. Sure, it don't make sense. Did you expect it to? Hell, we got protocols just like everyone else. Now, get in line for the delousing.

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

167 comments:

  1. It was a muggy, warm Thursday evening, when Tim and Jacob were walking, well, half stumbling home, drunk on Pabst and Jim Beam from a barbeque. They shuffled past the old man’s house, when he called to them, “Ay! Fellas! How y’all livin’? Come set on the porch a spell. Y’all look like you could use it.”

    They knew that guy. A leathery, bald-headed old white man, who’d lived in the neighborhood for years, scraping by on contract work, inherited wealth, and sheer cussedness. These days, he mostly just hung out on that weather-beaten front porch, with an old white pit bull and a lever action rifle, rocking in his chair, sipping whiskey and stewing, listening to the baseball games and classic rock on an old transistor radio.

    The two young men let themselves in the front gate and climbed up to the porch. They were in no big hurry, and sometimes he was funny. He was kindly and affectionate like a grandfather, but rough around the edges: he drank, did just as many drugs as either of them, swore like a sailor, loved to gamble, and hated everyone more or less the same, calling anyone who annoyed him by whatever vile slur came to mind. He would call Jacob’s little brother an “unruly little niglet”, take a slug from the bottle of Rebel Yell, and in the same breath call Tim a “cracker-ass fuckin’ faggot”. Jacob couldn’t really get mad at the bitter old man, and his caustically dysphemistic language was offset by a generally praising tone: “yeah, I know how you do, son. You’s a bad-ass gangsta-ass nigger. A hustler. I respect you, kid. You hustle harder than my slack ass ever did. You out there getting ya paper. I played by the rules, and look where that got me. It’s fuckin’ bullshit, kid. Fuck the law, fuck the status quo, fuck the expectations. You get yours, because nobody’s gonna get it for you. And that goes for you too, honky,” he turned toward Tim, “if you’re hanging out here in the ghetto, odds are you don’t have a gleaming white future either. Make yourself useful and go balls deep in the cause.”

    Jacob ultimately just wrote him off, as sad, lonely, damaged, evidence of how society even chewed up the more privileged; even white men didn’t necessarily get the good life. Tim took it to heart: the crusty old man, whose closest friends were a dog, a gun, and a bottle, reminded him way too much of his grandfathers, uncles, cousins, his own father. He couldn’t decide if he wanted to be that, or wanted to be the opposite of that, if and when he got to be that old. But that was a long way off, Tim supposed as he took a hit from the old timer’s dual-chamber bong. “You still fuckin’ with that Allison chick, Timmy?” He asked as Tim passed the bong to Jacob.

    “Yeah, why?”

    “Just wonderin’. She is some piece of ass, huh? If I was twenty or thirty years younger I’d put it to her in the front, the back, and all over her tailfeathers. But she ain’t cut out for this kinda life. You feel me? She ain’t no ride or die chick. I can tell just by lookin’ at her. She’ll fuckin’ bail on you as soon as she can snag a dude who’s got some money, so don’t get real attached. Now that Luanne, she’s somethin’ else.”

    Jacob cocked an eyebrow. “Watch it pops, that’s my sister.”

    “Yeah I know, I’m just sayin’, she ain’t none too hard on the eyes either, and she’s hella fuckin’ chill. Now THAT’S a ride or die chick.”

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    1. Interesting switch with the old man. The distinctions and class commentary work well, too. Rebel Yell? Brings back some (vague) memories.

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    2. very rich characterisation. Kept seeing the young ones as echoes of the old.

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    3. That dialogue says it all. No more description needed. We see it.

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  2. The fog clung to every branch, every blade of grass. It wrapped the bridge rails and stuck to the pavement between them. I had heard people say they couldn't see their hands in front of their faces and never believed them. I believed them now. I stretched my arm as far as I could reach and it swallowed my fingers in a white, palpable swirling soup. It wasn't green, but the old saying "pea soup" was apt. So it didn't surprise me that it ate sound, too - at least to human ears.

    The slip at the top had taken me to mere feet from the edge of the ravine. I dared not move lest that estimation was incorrect and sent me plummeting into its fast flowing spring depths. Though I couldn't see it, I knew by the pain that my leg had broken.

    I shouted every time I saw a pale ghostly glow of light that meant possible rescue. No one heard.

    I smelled it first, the rank musk of wild animals. By the time I saw the red gleam that represented eyes they were upon me.

    I run with the pack, now. Four legs are much faster then two. I wait for the next fog, wait for my turn to join the hunt.

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    1. Cool twist! I love the personification of the fog in the beginning. Sets up the rest so well. Great piece, Yvonne.

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    2. I really enjoyed this one. Could become something longer. I like the image of the fog eating sound. And then the end how he runs with the pack - it's just written without any drama so it becomes more dramatic. If you know what I mean?!

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    3. Oh wow! I did not expect that ending. It's great!

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    4. I love this... and Angelo approves, too. Four legs are better than two. And a tail is good. So is this tale.

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    5. Spooky, nice fog imagery, and unexpected ending. Very cool.

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  3. VIVA ZAPATA

    Diego Shapiro loved his roots, especially his mother’s that harkened back to Mexico. In fact, he had claimed a direct bloodline back to Emiliano Zapata Salazar, the village leader and infamous (Diego called him “famous”) fighter of the Mexican Revolution.

    “I thought ‘Zapato’ meant ‘shoe,’” said Herschel Levi, his friend since childhood. They had met at yeshiva, two young boys heading towards manhood at thirteen. Being a few steps slow, Herschel was still heading there at seventeen. The Hebrew prayers that would declare him a Bar Mitzvah eluded him.

    “My ancestor was Zapata.”

    “Zapato. Zapata. What’s the difference?”

    Diego threw his hands into the air the way Rabbi Davidson did when he prayed or when exasperation got the better of him. “One’s a shoe; the other’s my mother’s great-great grandfather. Herschel, you are one taco-wacko hombre,” said Diego who delighted in dropping Mexican food words, the limit to what he could speak in Zapata’s tongue.

    Herschel would not be silenced. “I thought you was Jewish like me?”

    “I am,” Diego said. “On my father’s side. I’m Mexican, a Roman Catholic on my mother’s.” He wanted to add, “Thirteen days old, baptized at St. Elizabeth’s, and Bar Mitzvah’d at Bethel El at thirteen years old,” but he knew that was too much information, the kind that would rattle inside Herschel’s head and elicit more questions whose answers Herschel Levi would not understand.

    “You gotta pick one,” said Herschel.

    “Nada chance, Amigo.”

    “Pick one, Diego. Catholic or Jew. Which is it? I don’t get how you can be both.”

    “Nacho business, Herschie. It happened. Here I am. Viva Zapata. Long live King David.”

    Diego put his arm around his friend’s shoulder. “Let’s go eat. My Mamasita’s cookin’ enchiladas.” Herschel made a face. “Don’t worry. She makes it kosher. You’re gonna love it!”

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    1. The back and forth in this piece is done really well. Excellent piece, Sal.

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    2. When I read your stories they always take me somewhere else. Like they have gravitas or something. I'm not sure how to explain it. But I travel.

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    3. This is excellent. I really enjoyed it. :-)

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    4. I love the story... and I love the rhythm of the language.

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    5. WONDERFUL. Clearly this is a guy who KNOWS his Mexican Sephardic Jews! And WE are so vain as to consider ourselves a melting pot! I have stories...so do you! Bravo!

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    6. Neat. A kid who clearly knows which side his bread is buttered on and how to keep it that way -whatever it is.

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    7. Very well done. Great characterization in simple expressions.

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    8. I appreciate all your comments. I thank God for this site where we can flash to our hearts' content, inventing stories with characters we come to know and want to keep.

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    9. Salvatore, I live in a remote part of Colorado: The San Luis Valley. A number of years ago, there was a startling discovery. This oldest, most Hispanic, and very Catholic part of Colorado, home to the oldest Catholic church in the state, had a secret connection to the Ashkenazi. The Smithsonian magazine has a nice write-up of it online: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-secret-jews-of-san-luis-valley-11765512/?no-ist
      Your story resonated all the more to me because I knew of that story. Thank you.

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  4. It’s the things we do, the things we abuse, he said, that make us what we are. I stared at the wrinkles creeping into the corners of his squinty eyes. Felt him wink at me. Are you an abuser, son? I shook my head, knocking back the trembling current seeping into my limbs. Or are you the one being abused?

    He cocked his head. Stared. Those great brown orbs of his burned into my soul and still I didn’t offer a reply. He’d only suck it in, twist it this way and that, and spit it out again.

    Edwin was like that, like himself – one of a kind. They buried the mould deep underground where no one could find it, my grandma always told me. I resisted the urge to smirk. It would only egg him on to say something more and I wished him to be silent, to stop, to end with the talk.

    Son, he said, I worry about you. I cocked my head back at him, still as quiet as the fallow field spreading beyond us. I worry you’ve not a word worth saying in that head of yours.

    I nodded. I wanted him to think so. Then maybe one day he’d stop telling me stuff that I didn’t wanna hear. Scuffing my boots in the dirt and shoving my hands ever deeper in my jean pockets, I gave a half-smile, turned my back and placed one foot in front of the other. I hoped he was too bored of me to follow. Until the next time.

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    1. This piece is so strong, Vickie. I love it. And this line is wonderful: "It would only egg him on to say something more and I wished him to be silent, to stop, to end with the talk. "

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    2. Thank you! I need to get writing more prose. Out of the two I'm finding the boy the most interesting. I see him about 14. The guy about 48. And I feel a crescendo coming.

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    3. The understatement resonates in this powerful piece. It's wonderful.

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    4. Yes, understated and beautiful. It's like you've given us a coloring book with all the outer lines there, but it's the reader's job to color within the lines... well done.

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    5. So much between the lines. Good stuff.

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  5. For the picking

    I keep picking at them,
    These dead words;
    Every single one of them -
    Dissecting, reducing
    Until the colour drains out.
    Like blood it oozes,
    Staining every finger of
    My too curious hands

    Bare bone words -
    What meaning have they
    Upon losing their grandeur,
    Their gloss, this floridness?

    I speak of things
    I do not understand
    Seeking meaning
    In this rhyme
    Spinning pretty words
    Without reason
    Bereft of thought
    In this lost world of words.

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    1. Love this one, too. Especially the spiral at the end.

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    2. Thanks! I forgot to put in punctuation at the end! Yay, it's given me some writing today. I'm at home with painful sciatica. This cheered me up today!

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    3. "Spinning pretty words - Without reason..." Nice phrase!

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    4. I like this one too. Another wordsmith's lament.

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  6. It's the silence

    It’s the silence at the end of the world she wants, where the edge spills into nothing. A void as fathomless as it is wondrous. A place so still that everything will stop. No sound, no words, no colour. She imagines it grey. Neither black nor white, for those two opposites hold no meaning.

    Only grey tells the truth and casts a mirror up for all to see their flaws, their holes, their beauty – who they really are deep inside. For when the world finally rolls upon its side the only thing worth knowing will be the grey. The only thing left to hold.

    She dips her hand into the river and spreads her bony fingers wide, letting the water drip, drip, drip… away.

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    1. Awesome. And I agree, grey tells the truth.

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    2. Thanks. It contains everything :)

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    3. Poetically beautiful... and "Only grey tells the truth" is the best truth of all... that phrase will stay with me for a long while.

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    4. I imagine a woman with fathomless eyes and a knowing that comes only from the spirit. Love this.

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  7. You don’t have time for this shit. Fifteen minutes, that’s all the sisters give you for basketball, and you and the other guys are just getting a good rhythm going when the car pulls in. Rich-looking car. Drive-through salvation, probably what they’re looking for. You see it every once in a while, more around Easter, folks comin’ in to toss a few bucks around, get a blessing, and back on the highway, probably off to drink or snort or screw or whatever brought them there in the first place. Quick and easy and you’re done, right? Yeah, that’s what you thought, at first, when you started coming there. You just don’t like other people taking advantage. And it’s the first nice day in forever and you want to play ball.

    “The hell,” one of your buddies says, when the door opens and a lady leans out, holding a plastic bag in front of her like she’s gonna puke. “She got the ebola or somethin’?”

    “Dunno.” She doesn’t look rich. The car is kinda old. So’s the lady.

    You all stop, shoot guilty glances around. “I ain’t goin’ over there,” Freddy said. “I don’t want puke on my shoes.”

    You give him a pop on the arm. “Had puke on more than your shoes when you first dragged your sorry ass in here.”

    His shoulders sag and he wings the ball at one of the other guys. “Whatever, dude.” Then he lopes over to the car. “Hey. Hey, lady. Need some help?”

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    1. Love it. The tone and the redemption - or the opening for it. Dope.

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    2. There's lots in there. Not sure what the relationships are, so it makes you look again. You can really picture the young guy and his swagger, trying to act more grown-up and wised- up than he is - or it might be how I'm seeing him. And the woman, I want to know where she fits in. Where he's gonna go now.

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    3. You know, sometimes I think the universe invented words just for you... you use them so well... you use them like a chef uses contrasting flavors... balancing, placing them in juxtaposition so their contrasts can be tasted simultaneously... "puke" and "lope" are a perfect example of this in this wonderful story.... well done.

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    4. You paint a scene so expertly, Laurie. It's a beautiful thing to behold.

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    5. And when don't we all have that moment where our compassion struggles with our natural distaste? NICE!

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    6. Yes, redemption and atonement. Well done.

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    7. Everything everyone else said and more. Very cool.

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  8. Yeah, this is your living room and you got expectations, but I'm gonna build a cabin here in the corner, cool? I know we talked about the air mattress and house rules and all that, but I think I'm just gonna bust this big ass cabin. Cool?

    Yeah, I know it's your house, but it's gonna be my goddamn cabin, see? Everyone's gonna look at the cabin and be like: "woah, some deep ass motherfucker must live in that cabin."

    So, I'll start construction soon, I figure. I'm quick on the trigger. I'm a squatter and my eyes glow because I don't sleep. But this cabin ... it's gonna change everything. Sorry if it throws off the flow of the room. Badass? I mentioned the badass part, right? Gotta cover my bases. I want you all to see what a real badass (and his cabin) looks like.

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    1. "Your authority is not recognized by Fort Kickass."

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    2. funny. he's a funny loser-type guy. lost and really wants that damn cabin to give his life true frigging meaning! Love the last line. Hoot.

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    3. It isn't often you see 'badass' and 'cabin' go together so effortlessly. ;-)

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    4. Home really is where the heart is, Mader. You definitely captured that.

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    5. This kinda plays with my head -what's delusion, what's real, what's his, and what's bigger than him.

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    6. Agree with Yvonne. I spent most of it wondering who the heck IS this guy? For the record, that means I loved it.

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    7. "The Thing that Would Not Leave"! Dig it.

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  9. Love the opening piece, Mr. Mader. And that last line...

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    1. Yeah, I loved it too. Delousing? You're a funny guy. And a super talented storyteller.

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  10. It was a cool, damp Monday afternoon, when they heard about what happened to the old man. A quiet evening in, for most; Tim, Jacob, Allison, Luanne, Ray, Tosh, and Mateo were sitting around watching TV, eating pizza, drinking tallboys, and smoking fat conical joints. The TV was one of the only nice things in the house, lording over the shabby living room that surrounded it, in its sleek black housing. Three of the boys burgled it from some house in the suburbs, one of the few things they kept, as opposed to selling for the food they were eating, the beer they were drinking, and the weed they were smoking. It was a bit of a bother to procure a vehicle and drive out there, but they reckoned folks in nice neighborhoods had more nice stuff to steal, and were less likely to fight them over it.

    It was all over the news: a hostage crisis at the federal courthouse. When the anchor named the suspect, they realized that none of them really knew his name. They knew him as “the old man”, or more specifically, “that crusty old fucker who lives over on 21st Street and always hangs out on his porch getting faded”. But they all recognized the photo of the old man’s pale, craggy, grey-stubbled face. The lady behind the desk reported, “Around 2:45 this afternoon, a lone gunman stormed the Philip Burton Building in San Francisco, shot the US Marshals guarding the entrance, and has holed up in a courtroom with… sixteen hostages, including two federal judges. Police are on the scene, trying to negotiate the release of the hostages. The suspect has been identified as fifty-eight year old George Abramowitz, a former Berkeley political science professor.”

    The young squatters watched as the scenario unfolded: casualties added up, as tentative attempts by police to break the standoff failed, costing the lives of law enforcers and provoking punitive executions of hostages. George went there prepared, with a pistol, shotgun, and rifle, a backpack full of ammunition, food, and enough methamphetamine to stay alert for days on end. But ultimately, after a tense six hour standoff, he was cut down by SFPD SWAT officers.

    The copy of his manifesto that he carried on his person was too soaked in blood and sweat to be legible, but a later search of his house turned up the original: a well-thought-out, if slightly unhinged, diatribe explaining his actions and their reasoning. It turned out that he suffered from terminal lymphoma, and wasn’t expected to live beyond a few months. With no children and a wife who died in a car accident years before, his intention was to strike a symbolic blow against what he considered an unacceptably corrupt government, in hopes of inspiring others to do the same by martyring himself.

    He knew his demands were unrealistic, and didn’t really expect them to be met. He just wanted to send a message: the power rests with the people. “Remember kids, if a grumpy, sickly old man can make them shit their britches like that, think of what you can do with your strong young bodies, sharp minds, and your passionate hearts. You must give up the body and put everything on the line, to earn the greatest victories.”

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    1. I like this twist. Very interesting. And the flow is nearly flawless. Which means I will point out the one little nit picky thing that grabbed me. :) "Burgled" seems a little formal. Maybe it's just me, but the tone is so consistent (and the word choice is important for authenticity) figured I'd mention it. Strong piece.

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    2. Cheers! Funny you should say that, because if anything, I chose that word because I think it sounds funny. Maybe just because it rhymes with "turd", or because I've occasionally heard poor people referred to as "dirt burglars", because when you're really poor, you even have to steal dirt.

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    3. Interesting to know what happens with the old man. It's funny this guy exists in so many other places. My daughter met him in Pk Slope abt a year ago. He was memorable.

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  11. You open your eyes, but the smell got there first and you think: "oh hell ... fucking Rachel!" It's always Rachel. You're always telling her to eat something. 151 was not designed for anorexic stomachs. Shit will strip you raw. Pull everything out of you - leave it on the carpet.

    But you can't be mad because Kai just died and that kind of gives everyone a free pass. Jake left days ago and no one knows where he is. Probably sleeping in the woods. Being tough. He'll come back with four rashes and a parasitic infestation. Fucking Jake.

    But now there is vomit on everything. You're glad you have your shoes on, protection from the broken glass. You'll get it. Wondering how the days pass.

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    1. I'm laughing and knowing that I really shouldn't! And on second reading it's more poignant.

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    2. Now THAT is authenticity. And I wanna get to know this Jake guy.

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    3. "Pull everything out of you - leave it on the carpet."
      Great line, my brother.

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  12. She kicks off her neat shoes and pouts and then, realizing there is no one there to see the pout, she reels it back in. Her mind is shouting:

    I don't WANT to be polite to all the grown ups. I DON'T think this dress is pretty, it's stupid and I wish I never even saw it. I don't think this will be fun. I DON'T THINK THIS WILL BE FUN!

    Downstairs, the guests titter and giggle their way into tempests. She will return. Near the end of the party. Kiss cheeks. Shake hands. Until then ...

    She pulls a bottle from the cupboard above her desk and pours three fingers of Vodka. Three fingers of vodka for her and one finger, bold and beautiful, for the lobbyists sullying her veranda.

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    1. Love that final line. Entrapment! First of all I thought it was a girl at her birthday party, but nope. A grown-up with that same sense of where the/who the F am I?

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    2. Lobbyists! Can't no one blame the poor lady for hitting the vodka. ;-)

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    3. I've HAD dates like that! Gret how the INNER Child sometimes knows best....

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    4. I'm with her... I hate despoiled verandas (I really want the plural to be "verandi" but it's not). "Giggle their way into tempests" is a beautiful phrase...

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    5. Very nice. Loved that I thought you were talking about a toddler at first.

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  13. Circles


    Shivering, he drew his coat tighter around him.

    It came full circle: the end in the beginning; the beginning in the end. Don’t start what you can’t finish, his father always said. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Don’t play with your belly button or it will pop. But Jay Senior did that all the time. And he always started what he never intended to finish, like his engagement.

    A bastard was what Jay was. Not that he cared, or anyone else for that matter. Half his friends were class Bs. It was a word signifying nothing bad nowadays.

    Tears fell in the rain.

    A memory of his mother in the tumult, barefoot, wearing a thin white dress. Hair drenched, writhing like snakes in the wind. Waiting. She was always waiting, until the day she decided no more. That’s when Jay’s life shifted. The grey city became green fields. He gained a new father. He went to college. The sun shone and the rain evaporated.

    Jay Senior talking with his mouth full seemed a lifetime ago, when little Jay stood so high, not even reaching his father’s chest. Today he stood over him, looking down as he threw a handful of dirt into the hole in the ground.

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    1. Wow. I just got done sweating and cursing at my motorcycle or I'd add more. I agree with Teresa.

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  14. “And this is why we have rules. To prevent unfortunate…”
    “I’m sorry, all right? I mean, I didn’t think there really would be a problem…”
    “Did you get the welcome packet? Didn’t it include the Summary of Rules and Obligations?”
    “Yes, but…”
    “Do you think I wasn’t young and new once, too? Of course I was. I wanted to push the envelope, see what would happen if I bent the rules, but I never did anything like this. Never.”
    There was a pause in the lecturing and excuse making.
    “What will happen to them?”
    “Now you ask that. Wouldn’t it have been better if you’d asked before you set this all in motion?”
    The penitent’s head hung low.
    “We’ll have to put an end to it. Of course, we’ll try to make sure they feel no pain, but there’s no guaranteeing that.”
    “How?”
    “I suspect it will have to be a war. Natural disasters have fallen out of fashion. Yes, I think a war. Perhaps we’ll start it…. here.” The elder didn’t use a finger to point at a map of the Middle East. He used the very last feather of his very white angel wing.

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    1. Yeah! I love it when you get the magical in with the realism. Awesome!

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    2. The danger of too much power couple with too little wisdom - scary. Awesome.

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    3. Nice use of dialogue to tell a searing tale.

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  15. “He wanted to be just like you, you know.”
    Nothing.
    “He wanted to run as fast as you, shoot as good as you, be smart as you…”
    One tear.
    “He thought that you were God.”
    Two tears.
    “And now…”
    A drip from his nose.
    “And now he is dead.”
    A sob.
    “Because he couldn’t make out with girls… like you.”
    A scream.
    “I wish you’d told him you were gay… that you were covering.”
    Sudden silence.
    “I wish I’d told him.”

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    1. Oh, man. Makes you think. Sometimes secrets aren't meant to be kept.

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    2. Word. If grey is truth, secrets are your grandma's glasses.

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    3. Secrets are your grandma's glasses... that's brilliant.

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    4. I AM grandma's glasses...and you can't trust because, sooner or later, I ALWAYS tell...:)

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    5. LOL! ::making notes on Teresa's address card so I remember::

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    6. Yes, secrets - and if only. Sad. Awesome piece.

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    7. Very sad. I like your economy Leland. It's rich storytelling.

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    8. Thank you for the encouraging words!

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  16. When David got back from the game, he’d expected Naera to be tense and ready for a respite from grading papers all afternoon. He’d been trying to think of the best place to have a quick bite before they caught a movie at the Pintsize Quad Cinema in town. He needed a shower first though. That would help clear his head.

    What he didn’t know was Naera had other plans. She was propped against the back of the couch waiting for him when he opened the door. Standing there in what he thought of as one of her school marm outfits: a button down, slightly sheer pink shirt with the sleeves rolled up, a slightly flared navy blue skirt to her knee and ballet slippers. Her hair was out of the typical ponytail, the layered tresses framing her honey kissed face. The only jewelry the Timex she always wore with the rust colored band the same color as her shoes. Damn, it was ridiculous but he was already aroused.

    She grabbed the ball out his hand turning to place it on the floor and giving him an all too brief glimpse of the back of her taut thighs. He realized he now had nothing to hide himself with.

    “Nae . . .?”

    She shook her head in the negative very slowly, seemingly unaware of or unconcerned with his predicament.

    “No, David. I’ve got a surprise for you and there’s no changing this afternoon’s events.” Taking his hand, she pulled him down the hallway skipping forward a pace or two, then turning back to him and smiling coyly.

    She stopped at the bathroom door and dramatically pushed it open. The bubbles in the bath were so abundant they scaled the tile walls surrounding the tub and scurried off its edges like they were afraid of water.

    “I’m going to be your Geisha David. You are always so hot and sweaty and tired after your pick up games, I thought you might like to relax and let me wash you up. Then if you haven’t fallen asleep, we’ll see what we want to do with the rest of the afternoon.”

    David liked his sleep – no, he loved it. Sister used to say they could have a full court brass band in his room and it wouldn’t wake him up if he was in the sleep zone, which she believed was most of his waking life. Yet David couldn’t think of any time he felt less like sleeping then at this moment.

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    1. I can't think of a way to say this, but the clinical tone - teasing - works so well here. Awesome.

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    2. I agree... a well-balanced point between detached and lecherous... well done!

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  17. Taking a deep breath and pursing her lips, Tanya depressed the accelerator. Straight it would be.

    Straight away from her lifetime home. Straight into the unknown. Straight onto the longest bridge in the world—ironic for someone panicky about crossing bridges, but that was how desperate her situation had become.

    After discovering his great-grandmother’s “collection,” Jesse had immersed himself in the dark arts, over time morphing into a scary and paranoid Doppelganger, the very opposite of the man she had married.

    When Tanya confronted him, he claimed it was all in fun, that the bizarre rituals he performed didn’t really do anything. But she knew better, on both counts. The last straw came when she found him, trance-like, mumbling an incantation over their wedding photo. Tanya waited until he’d left, then packed the car and headed for the bridge.

    Her fear lifted as she drove. She felt ready to start over, comfortable facing the unfamiliar.

    All too soon, however, the “other side” began to seem familiar. Frighteningly familiar. Spotting a Piggly Wiggly store just like the one at home didn’t unsettle her, but seeing the identical twin of their local diner next to it did. An exact replica of Pontchartrain Elementary three blocks away sent her into a cold sweat. Tanya haltingly followed her usual route, dread growing with each well-known landmark. She parked and sat in terrified silence, staring at her house—and Jesse out front, expecting her.

    “Welcome home, darlin’,” he drawled, his eyes gleaming red. “Welcome home.”

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    1. This story won the Indies Unlimited flash fiction contest this week. :-)

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    2. Congrats, Maggie! it's a great story!

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    3. With good reason, Maggie. It's awesome!

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    4. Terrifying and sweeeeeet. Congrats. Well deserved accolade.

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  18. “Nancy told me today Sasha’s coming to visit her tomorrow, so I’m going over to see her, my savior,” Lacey said in a tone as pregnant with hope as her belly, which was in its second trimester with our child.

    I sighed long and loud with the memory that a year and a half earlier. Lacey had engaged in an affair with Sasha, who Lacey’s statement implied had saved her from me, or the me from three years before Lacey and I met, when I was head over heels in love with Sasha, who was utterly irresistible to everyone, knew it, and was comfortable with it.

    “Sorry, that was just me being selfish and stupid…I told you I’d never be that way again, and I haven’t been…I mean really, right?”

    “Then trust me,” Lacey said, rolling herself up to kiss my cheek, then rolling back and closing her eyes, an angelic half-smile on her face.

    I rolled over, too, facing the wall, and didn’t sleep the rest of the night, thinking about her.

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    1. The push and pull of the narrative is so riveting, Joe. I really like this piece. The last line is perfect. Not overplayed. Confident writing, for sure.

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    2. I agree... confident writing indeed. It seems to me in the weeks and months I've seen you write here, you've grown in that confidence, and that is a beautiful thing.

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  19. Enough. You fling your body out the front door: no coat, no shoes, just pajamas and thin, white socks. Don’t care that it’s cold and spitting rain. The first gasp hits like a slap across the face. You want him to come after you, say something that sounds like love or at least understanding. You want to have this out in the thick, milky night so you don’t have to do it in the house, where the children are sleeping, a place you’ve made your calm sanctuary, paint colors and décor chosen for their healing properties. But he doesn’t move from the sofa, and the lies spewing from the television don’t waver. Arms tight across your chest, you keep walking, down the driveway, broken asphalt biting into the soles of your feet. The pain is good, it’s something you can feel. Road blends into grass into trees into sky into homes. Doesn’t anyone stay up late anymore? Then you see a light, a door open, a face smile up at you and then soften in compassion. He reaches down, unclips the leash, says a few words under his breath, and his therapy dog bounds up the driveway, blanketing your cold, wet feet with his warm body.

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    1. I love this. You do mood so well. And truths like this: "The pain is good, it’s something you can feel."

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    2. I like this too. The frustration of "doesn't anyone stay up late anymore" was something familiar to me.

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    3. I love this even more the second and third time I read it... and not just because of the dog.

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  20. I moved through a torment of blackflies, following the pendulum swing of her hips. She was the rebuttal to everything dull, to all meaninglessness. Even amid the world's incoherence.

    "Wait up."

    "Keep up."

    How I loved her, and yes, in the biblical sense too. We were the last pairing, the omega couple to poor overgrown Eden's alpha duo. She used to laugh and say I wore the Mark of Abel. I'd laugh right back and say, "If that's so, honey, I'm last in a long line." She was a goddamned walking revelation. The fulcrum of her pelvic sway my only true church. Each switch of those exquisite hips a second-by-second countdown to doomsday.

    I yearned to be her trickster. A jester for a queen.

    The rot of the world became everything. I used matches to cauterize the inside of my nose so I could stop smelling the putrefaction that dripped from the very trees; no more sap, only pus and watery, infected plasma. Everything emitting heat and decay, the glutinous earth waking to a fever dream after an illusory life. Crows with gluey wings plummeted from the pulsating sky; cloud waves throbbed and roiled, dripping black mucous that stank of blighted tarsand and ancient fishguts. And death, of course. Like everything else. A hamstrung carnival, a dark mirage, distorted by heat, hoarse, shimmering, moaning to the horizon, reeking of the looming extinction.

    And the machines, skeletal, their last keening forever quieted.

    Lost opportunities.

    I'd wanted to learn the faces of all the insects. Discover islands that sang. Hunt down the world's most melancholy killer. Share a beach fire with a demon. Vandalize a monument.

    What malfeasance brought us here? Spare me a month and fill my belly, friend, and the full story is yours. Courtesy of the world's last wordsmith.

    Wading through a river of offal, I caught up to my uncrowned monarch.

    "What was the worst thing you ever saw?"

    She glanced back, that single arched eyebrow snare-drumming my heart. Saw I was serious as genocide.

    "A baby born shrieking in terror." Her serious answer.

    "Yeah, okay, works for me."

    Somehow we'd found our way into a Scandinavian black metal album, is all I could think. At night, even the wolves and coyotes, blind and emaciated like abandoned lepers, growled and shrieked in guttural orgies of self-mockery and grim maledictions.

    "Where now?" I asked.

    "All the way to the end," she answered, like she always answered.

    Helen. Helen Earth, I called her. Not my best joke, and the truth is she never laughed once. Never with me, although usually at me. At my Mark of Abel blooming like grey cumulus from my ruined head.

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    1. Hello darkness my old friend! Welcome back! :)

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    2. Wow.... The Antrobus is back. I feel like i just took a really literary hit of acid... well done, well done.

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    3. lol. Leland nails it. So much beautiful word play. God, man. And I love this: "I yearned to be her trickster. A jester for a queen."

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    4. Welcome back, and what they said. :D

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    5. I missed you guys! Yeah, I actually found some words again this week (albeit strange trippy ones). I've been reading, and I love so many of your pieces I might not get a chance to express that individually, so collectively ... I love you. :)

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    6. Damn, David, you're allow to go away occasionally if this is what you bring back with you. So many gems very hard to pick out only one. Loved it.

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  21. The place was a cliché, really. The walls were white, the gate was pearly, and there were orchestras of harps playing in the background. Walter Hinsdale the newly deceased writer groaned at the utter lack of imagination as a man wearing white robes and a floating halo entered the area.
    “St. Peter, I’m guessing?”
    “Yes, Walter. I am. And before you criticize the décor, you should know it all came from your imagination. Frankly, I hate the costume changes.”
    “So this is heaven?”
    “Not precisely. More of an entryway, a sort of waiting room, while we finalize things. And make you a final offer.”
    “That sounds intriguing, St.—”
    “I’d prefer you call me Pete.”
    “Very well, that sounds intriguing, Pete. You can call me Wally.”
    “Well, the clock is ticking. Let’s get started.”
    Pete waved a hand over a part of a wall and a nice Samsung flatscreen appeared.
    “We’ve instituted this fast track triage to determine the heaven or hell route since there are so many billions in the waiting line. Not quite as extensive as the old testing regime, but it seems to be just as accurate.”
    Wally nodded.
    “Two tests, then. The first is about your brother Roy.” The screen lit up with a picture of Roy and his evil wife Maureen, and their three ugly children. “Should he live or die?”
    Without out a pause, Wally answered, “live.”
    “Excellent. Even though you are not a fan of his wife, his second son Eldred will grow up to be a renowned doctor and save millions of lives.”
    The screen changed. It showed Adolf Hitler and a bunch of goose-stepping soldiers.
    “And for the second test, should Adolf Hitler be killed before he reaches adolescence? Oh yes, we can travel backward and forward through time.”
    Wally didn’t hesitate this time either. “Kill him.”
    The screen went black. There were a million screams outside the room, echoing through the universe.
    “What was that? What did I do?”
    “Well, you saved the world from the horrible war, and you saved the lives of a great many who would perish in the dreaded German prison camps.”
    “But why were there screams?”
    “Because the war was never needed, never fought, and all those GIs that met and fell in love with the German and French and Belgian wives, well, they didn’t meet, and their children were never born, nor were their grandchildren. And that includes you, Wally.”
    As Wally disappeared screaming into a cloud of pink smoke, Pete shouted, “Next!”

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    1. Agreed. And a damn brave piece, Leland. You pulled it off. Not many could.

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    2. Wow. Brilliant. Powerful. Damn.

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    3. Thanks... it's fun playing with cliches.

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    4. This is fabulous Leland . . . unexpectedly funny. My favorite kind of funny really.

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    5. You are wonderfully kind! and yes... I think funny, too. I know God has a wicked sense of humor!

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  22. Black woman on the cell phone got an opera of complaints. Her aria of outrage soars across the parking lot as she loads up her groceries . Somebody wants her cart and she flips them the bird and flips her hair and never stops that singing in the sunny April air. About her mama’s blood pressure and da bitch that did her weave; the kids that drive her crazy and the man who won’t come home. Or leave.

    Seems like nothing’s any real good and nothing ain’t enough, but don’t you worry sweetheart, her mama raised her tough. She got the faith, she got the gospel ; Jesus is her friend. And she roars out of that parking lot before I hear the end.

    I have a lazy intuition, spring flowers in the yard. Something whispers without words but nothing feels hard. Yet her anger makes me smile. Like some ancient song that makes you remember you’re a part of something larger that maybe hasn’t happened yet. Old hippies play the air guitar in International competition, miming the past to life. And somehow change is gonna come, born on the voices of the everyday prayers that rise up in the parking lot on an April afternoon. Born on the silent fingers of air guitar dreams.

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    1. This is a lot of fun, and really well done, but that last line, that last line is fine!

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    2. I love everything about this and I would tell you all the things, but I LOVE EVERYTHING. I especially like the opening, though I want "she loads up her groceries" to read "she uploads her groceries" :)

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  23. Elizabeth lay in darkness listening to the wind howling beyond the walls of the Manor house. She was thinking of her beloved and whispering a prayer for him as she had done every night for the past two years.
    It was four months since she had received her last letter from him shortly after the end of the war and the top brass in the army had assured her he had survived operations and left Germany safe and well. He had travelled to Dover with his men and from there arranged his own passage home to Yorkshire, yet he still wasn’t home and no one knew where he was.
    She had waited through the hot summer months and made endless enquiries as to his whereabouts, to no avail. Her mother looked at her each day with that smug look, the one which said “I told you so, he was never good enough for you” and Elizabeth wished she could slap her for it.
    The next morning the storm had abated though a fierce chill remained in the autumn air. Elizabeth decided a brisk walk in the grounds would blow the cobwebs off and bring clarity to her trouble mind, so she wrapped herself warmly and strode out along the gravel path.
    The war had brought such heartache to so many, it was a horrible to live through though she was one of the lucky ones, coming from a life of privilege. She had enrolled as a nurse wanting to help all she could in the war effort. The last time her skills were called for was when a spitfire had crashed just over two miles away and sadly the pilot had died in the wreckage. Rumour had it he had been carrying a passenger but because no one else was ever found, it remained just a rumour. That had been about four months ago and since then all she could do was wait for news of her man.
    As she walked she surveyed the damage the high winds had caused the previous night. The grounds surrounding the manor were littered with debris and broken branches were strewn here and there. She could see the stark oaks bordering the land were practically bereft of their leaves.
    She continued towards the back of the property where the biggest oak tree stood tall and strong and was their favourite place for a secret tryst. All summer it had a lush green canopy and yesterday it had still had a full foliage though its leaves had been a stunning variety of copper, red and gold.
    Elizabeth rounded the corner to directly face the tree. Her hand flew to cover her mouth and a strangled scream gurgled in her throat as she sank to her knees.
    Barely a single leaf remained on the massive oak but high up in the grasp of its thick branches, hung the remains of a man entangled within a silk parachute.
    She knew at once it was her darling, her Clarence.

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    1. Ah, man. You got me. I even saw it coming too late and you got me. This is an awesome piece that wants to be bigger.

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  24. Nancy DeCilio GauthierApril 10, 2015 at 3:15 PM

    (short today as I will be going out)....

    As the train of life moves on ever so slowly, I look eagerly forward to each stop along the way. Who knows where we'll be tomorrow, or what fate awaits us around the very next bend, Each station is one of joy or sorrow, continuously on until the end.

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    1. Awesome. I think I may need to make this my new alarm clock.

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  25. TWHACK! Max’s arms shook off the reverberation as his weapon, a three-foot long dowel shaped stick with yellow gaffers tape around its length, clattered across the floor. Glenn hadn’t hit it very hard with his own stick but he’d caught Max in the middle of turning his wrist to attack him in a different direction. Now that he’d been schooled Max had to think quickly because Glenn was still armed.

    Pushing off the balls of his feet, Max leapt into a roll, making his body small and heading in the direction of his weapon. All the while, the thwacking noises continued as Glenn chased, parried, and repeatedly swung his stick down towards Max usually a second too late so hitting the floor instead.

    Max reached his stick and grabbed it. Then taking a deep breath he jumped into a kip -- landing on his feet, his back to Glenn. Surging forward Glenn raised his weapon above his head to strike. Max turned deftly, simultaneously twisting his legs together like an intricate yoga position (or a pretzel) and lowered his body to the floor. Then sweeping the stick in front of him as if it were an extension of his arm, he hit Glenn’s ankle squarely and hard. Hard enough that Glenn went down with a powerful thumping sound that knocked the air out him and some right out of the room as well.

    Max wasted no time; jumping onto Glenn, he used his knee to keep him still and in place, while holding his weapon a few inches from Glenn’s eyes.

    Glenn slapped the floor and called out, “Time.”

    Max rose and offered a hand to his friend to help him up.

    “You know if you didn’t have the body of a contortionist that would have ended very differently.” Glenn said, bending over to pick up his weapon.

    “Yes, I’m well aware that what I gain in flexibility I lose in brute strength. So far we’ve been evenly matched but heaven help me if you decide to start stretching regularly.”

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    1. ha! Love the last line. Great piece. So much movement and really well done. I have a lot of trouble writing movement like that.

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    2. I envy your ability to write graceful fight scenes. This was good! And yeah, the last line relieved all the tension. Good stuff!

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    3. Thanks gentleman. I used to be a dancer and I briefly dated a sensei. Writing fight scenes is like choreographing with words.

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  26. Sherry turned the envelope over thoughtfully in her hand. She wondered what it could be about. There was no name just the computer generated label that said “Operation Blue-Force Support. She slit opened the envelope expecting to find a computer printed form letter of some such. Instead, she found a handwritten letter.

    “Dear Sherry,” The letter began. “I don’t know if you’ll even remember me after all these years. Gosh it really has been a long time. Anyway, we met several years back at Bidmurth College…

    https://tainiwrites.wordpress.com/2015/04/10/a-surprise-letter-a-2-minute-write-story/

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  27. The sweat or earwig is halfway down your back and you don't give a shit which one it is because of the man. The man is sweaty and red-faced, he is a beacon of hatred. There is spittle in the corners of his mouth and he is waving the gun.

    God, just stop waving the gun.

    Your jaw is clenched so hard you can feel your teeth breaking, but you do not move, do not provoke. You do nothing. You watch the man steam in the slant-dark shed where the sun cooks everything.

    The man will keep talking and you will die. When? That's up to you. It doesn't matter to him. He's going to do it. And he's going to keep talking.

    To you or your corpse.

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    1. You took me right there... and I felt my heart rate increase. I hate earwigs on my back.

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    2. Tight and cynical. A good combination.

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    3. Thanks! Oh, you were talking about the story? Thanks twice! ;)

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  28. Really, I didn’t mean to stare.
    It was Friday afternoon, and I was sitting at the bar a few hours earlier than most, but hey, it was almost the weekend, and the door opened. Like in the old westerns, the late sun silhouetted the man who opened it, golden light wrapped the man in a halo that belonged on an angel. He looked around, then let the door close behind him. In the now dim light I saw he was wearing jeans as tight as if the 1980s never died and a leather jacket that told me bikers had been resurrected.
    He maybe glided, maybe sauntered, maybe walked up to the bar and ignored me as my eyes raked him up and down. I’d bet my paycheck if I had one that this guy had never seen the inside of a gym, that those muscles came from a ranch somewhere, or maybe a farm. As I inhaled, I detected the sweet summer hay riding like a raven on a blue wind.
    When he ordered, I heard all of Wyoming’s wind rush through his lips, a loud whisper from someone who spent a lot of time around animals and expected to be heard. “Jack Daniels,” he said. “Straight up.” One side of his mouth raised, and one stayed in place, like a man who didn’t trust himself to smile.
    When the eyes gold as sun turned to me, the other side of his mouth completed the smile. “Afternoon,” he said, his hand reaching to tip a hat that wasn’t there. “My name is Angel, what’s yours?” And then he stuck his hand out and I felt the hot calluses of a man no stranger to work touching the chilled office-pink hand of my own.
    “To strangers,” I toasted him when Caleb served him his drink.
    “To strangers,” he replied, as he threw back the whiskey. “I’ll be right back. I need to wash up.”
    As he walked toward the men’s room, I watched that part of him that only saddles and cycles and Wranglers had known.
    When he came back, I knew how Adam must have felt the first morning after the long night, grateful that the sun had returned to the skies. He smiled at me, I blushed.
    “I don’t believe anyone but my mama has ever stared at me so hard and so long,” he said.
    “You know this is a gay bar, right?”
    “I was kinda hopin’.”
    Thirty-two years is a long time, but I still catch my breath when he opens a door, when he starts his motorcycle, when I see him in his leather and Wranglers.

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    1. I love your description of the cowboy/rancher Leland. "When he ordered, I heard all of Wyoming’s wind rush through his lips" is one jewel among many.

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    2. Thanks! I dunno what it is about those cowboys and bike riders and Marines... once you get past the delicious stereotypes, there is such amazing grace and goodness...

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    3. This is a really sweet and romantic piece. You do these characters so well.

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  29. "Wow, Monty! Did ya see the new Star Carrier movie?"

    "No, Fred," I said as we walked. "I haven't had a chance yet."

    "Oh, man!" Fred said with glee. "You're going to love it. Remember, the way they said Harvey Starmonger was the son of Darius Credence, the Galactic Ex-Checquer in Episode III?"

    "Yeah, but I haven't seen the new one yet." I increased my pace a bit as we neared the corner.

    "Well, he's not." Fred hurried, frantically flailing his arms around. "He's the son of the last Endorphin Knight! Wow, you should've seen that photon blade battle at the end where Harvey gets his left arm cut off by the Combat Master. It was so awesome!"

    We got to the corner and waited for the light to change. "Well, I guess I don't really have to now, since you just told me everything." I grumbled as I watched the 4:20 express come barreling down the road.

    "No, no, you really gotta see it, man!" Fred continued, a wild look in his eyes as he stepped in front of me. "I mean, who would've guessed that the Exchequer's butler was actually the Endorphin Kni-"

    The last syllable turned into a scream as I pushed Fred out into traffic. He was completely in mid-air when his body flattened against the front of the express bus. The force of the collision knocked Fred high into the air, landing in the open top of a garbage truck that had stopped down the street. The two sanitation workers hadn't noticed, what with the street noises, and pulled the lever that compacted the load as they drove off for their next pick-up.

    As the bus screeched to a stop, I watched the walk-light come on and calmly walked across the street. "Fucking spoilers..."

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    1. LOL! You slay me. I only wish my timing was as good as the narrator's... never a good express bus around out here in the sticks when you need one.

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    2. hahahahahahahahahahahahaha....(that means I like it A LOT)

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    3. Awesome. Although that 420 express might have taken some of the sting out of it. ;)

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  30. We couldn’t tell at the funeral that he’d be the next to go. It wasn’t in the look of him, though it was hard to see beyond the general pain. So you hugged him, your brother, and met his new lover and we said our speeches and scattered her ashes. Maybe you didn’t notice he didn’t make a speech. All he said was, “I loved her, too.”

    Sure, maybe he was a little high, but you couldn’t see what it had done to him, losing her. You didn’t realize until later all he’d wanted was her approval. You couldn’t see around the corner of what it would cost him, that need that never got met. He thought loved so unconditionally, yet put his conditions always on her. See me, feel me, touch me, heal me. But she was only his mother, not his lover.
    And when she was gone; there was no one left to blame. No one left to ask, no one left to approve.

    Four months later, he was gone. His best friend told me : ” When she wasn’t around to pray for him anymore, maybe he decided he wasn’t worth it, after all.”

    Or maybe he decided that some things don’t get solved in single aha! conversation,. Life is not therapy and forgiveness, hard as it is, sometimes brings us nearer to God than we care to be.

    I cannot say. And I’m not sure who God is. But when I Pray? They hear me….and that’s good enough.

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    1. oh... you did this so well... so beautiful, so true... and this, "Life is not therapy and forgiveness, hard as it is, sometimes brings us nearer to God than we care to be." That is a gift.... thank you so much for writing this...

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    2. I gotta ditto Leland. Great line. Awesome piece, T.

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  31. She stood at the side, waiting for her time to dance. Always late to the party. Wrong side of the tracks. She would have rather been fishing or playing in the mud.The ill fitting party dress just made her feel more out of place.

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    1. You made me feel her angst in so few words.... really excellent descriptions! And I agree... mud is more fun.

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    2. I love this. This is how I always felt except I was wearing the kind of cheap slacks that come with a reversible belt. ;)

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  32. You all make my weekend great. I have finally learned to pace myself rather than devouring all your works at once. Thank you!

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  33. I knew before he even got close enough for me to smell him that he was an accomplished boozer. The shuffling gate that was on the brink of off-balance was the first indicator. Then he stepped into the shaft of light from the naked bulb swinging on a cord above and I saw the milky, rheumy eyes. That was the real tell - those eyes. I suppose most people look into those eyes and just see the gallons of cheap hooch that it takes to make a pair of eyes look like that. Most of the time, that's what I see, too. This time I saw something different. Something bone-jarring. Something frightening.
    I saw years of broken promises. Years of disappointment. Years of excuses. Years of apologies. Years and years of being beaten down by life and not knowing how - or caring enough - to fight back. Years of wasted potential - potential that has withered away until it's barely discernible, if it's even there at all any more.
    I take a clumsy swing with my right fist, and the mirror shatters...

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    1. "There, but for the Grace of God, go I..."

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    2. Derp - this is "last week's" already. Dammit. I'll copy and paste it to the current break the blog!

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