Friday, April 24, 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. 

Let me hear you say it. Let the words fall from your lips like gentle atrocities. Cities will crumble. It doesn't matter because you know everything is relative. We're all related, brothers, sisters, distant, dirty cousins - so, don't sugarcoat it. We're family. 

I feel like you started talking before I was born and you'll be the last one at the funeral. Not because of any sense of duty, loss, decency. It will be all about you. And you might even wonder at why it's like that - justify it - isn't everything about the self?

Just out with it. We've danced around it long enough, parried sufficiently - it's time to thrust. I'll be OK, and you'll be OK. You feel cramped now, but the room will seem a lot bigger once the elephant is gone.


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

149 comments:

  1. Luanne had been dreading this for ages. From the first time she saw Tim stumbling around, higher than a giraffe’s asshole. She knew immediately that he wasn’t just tired or drunk; he was on heroin. She tried to gently discourage him, but knew that trying to make him stop would only piss him off and waste her time. He knew that shit killed her father, but she also knew better than to take it personally when that didn’t stop him. Luanne didn’t know where Allison was, and right then she couldn’t give a shit. What she gave a shit about was how Tim was unconscious and unresponsive; usually he’d at least try to get up if she shouted about food.

    Fortunately for him, Luanne was prepared for such an eventuality. She never touched heroin, generally didn’t touch hard drugs at all; she drank very moderately, smoked weed and cigarettes fairly regularly. However, she associated with enough junkies that she was prepared to deal with an overdose. If it was Allison, she might not have bothered. Just let the bitch die and make like she had no idea. They were friends more by circumstance than actual affinity; Luanne mostly appreciated her company because, even if she was kind of stuck up and useless, she was a girl in a house full of dudes.

    Even so, Luanne wasn’t panicking. She watched Tim’s shallow breathing and thought, “fuck, I probably should give him the shot.” She went to the makeshift first aid kit, mostly used for minor household boo-boos and the occasional knife or bullet wound. She and Jacob cobbled it together mostly by shoplifting from CVS and sweet talking employees of free clinics. Hence it did include a few doses of naloxone, a drug that blocked the effects of opioids, minimizing the effects of an otherwise-lethal overdose.
    After hastily washing the rig Tim had just used to shoot up, Luanne carefully drew a dose of the naloxone into the syringe. She abruptly felt a lot more nervous, though, when she was sitting by his makeshift bed, trying to find a vein. Thankfully, he wasn’t a hardcore junkie who’d already trashed his circulatory system mainlining into every possible vein, but he did have a few faint track marks, and she didn’t want to waste the drug. After a few minutes of searching, Luanne thought “fuck it, that looks like it’d do,” and carefully stuck the needle in and injected the naloxone.

    Within a minute or two, Tim stirred and groaned, barely lifted one eyelid enough to glance at Luanne. “aw, dude, did I fuckin’ pass out and sleep through dinner? I don’ care, I couldn’t keep it down right now anyway.”

    “Er, yeah, I’m pretty sure you OD’ed, I just gave you some naloxone so you wouldn’t die.”

    Tim heaved an arm up to cover his eyes with his hand. “God damn it…. So embarrassing. I wish you let me die, right now.”

    Luanne just smiled and watched him try to go back to sleep, with no luck. He sat up, stretched, then mumbled “oh Christ”, grabbed the wastebasket by his bed and vomited into it. For a good few minutes, what looked like some very uncomfortable dry heaves, as well as all three forms of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Even though he did this to himself, Luanne couldn’t help kind of feeling bad for the boy. He clearly felt physically awful, and would probably feel emotionally awful soon, and for days if not weeks.

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    1. ...if not forever. Aw, this one hurts me. There is a sad authenticity to this piece. I really like it, but it hurts. Well tempered. And I love this phrasing: "They were friends more by circumstance than actual affinity..."

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    2. yep... this one hurts... and its honesty is almost too much to bear. Well done.

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  2. "Gentle atrocities..." wow, wow, wow.... those two words blow me away, but the rest is great!

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    2. I feel this. I feel this so hard. Thanks, JD.

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  3. “Bobby, try to stay within the lines.”
    “Do you have a red color?”
    “Sure, here you go.”
    “Thank you Mrs. Johnson.”
    “What are you doing? You can’t make the tree red!”
    “Why not?”
    “Because the tree isn’t red! It’s trunk is brown and the leaves are green!”
    “How do you know?”
    “It just is.”
    “But that’s not what I see.”
    “Here, you can use the brown over the red, it’ll make it interesting.”
    “So I’m supposed to stay in the lines?”
    “Yes.”
    “But the trees don’t have lines.”
    “Are you arguing with me, young man?”
    “No, ma’am. Just trying to figure out if I’m supposed to color ‘what is’ or what I see?”
    Mrs. Johnson sighed. This child was going to grow up to be a philosopher or a writer.

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    1. lol. This is great. I read the whole thing thinking, man, I hated teachers like that. Guess I was destined to be a philosophic writer. I try to get my students to color outside the lines as much as possible.

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    2. Somehow I KNEW you were that kind of teacher

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    3. Nancy DeCilio GauthierApril 24, 2015 at 8:41 AM

      That was great Leland and yes, we all knew teachers like that. Only in my childhood, those teachers were nuns with rulers to crack you on your elbows if you didn't color in the lines or didn't do your script penmanship to their standards. But, I still grew up sometimes coloring outside the lines - LOL.

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    4. I found this a highly irritating read Leland, which means you nailed it. Also like that it was mostly all dialogue which lent itself to the tit for tat air about it all.

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    5. LOL. I shall strive to be more irritating ;-) Thank you for the kind words!

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    6. A philosopher, a writer, or an expressionist painter!

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    7. "Trees don't have lines..." Sigh... love this. COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES!! :D

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    8. I'm glad you liked it, Laurie... you inspired it with your status about the blanket fort

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  4. I'm not going to talk about me. I'm tired of it. And you could argue that I don't ever talk about me or that there is no me or that arguing is futile - you can ignore it. Fuck commas, too, while we're at it. What's with that look? What? This isn't Thanksgiving dinner.

    I hate the questions. What do I do? Shit, I do lots of stuff. It makes me want to be a smart ass fifteen year old. What do I do? I breathe. I eat. I shit. I, sometimes, am so sad that I can't see the world clearly - everything becomes grey and not even your sly smile can turn the wheel.

    You want the questions to pin me down, but I'm not your macabre butterfly collection. I am not a specimen. Do I have any plans for the weekend? Naw, I'm done planning things. I've got my ace and that's enough. The rest is dandelion fluff.

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    1. "I've got my ace and that's enough." That line stopped me. What's the angry speaker talking about, I wonder. That fascinates me.

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    2. That was a magic line for me, too... and macabre butterfly collection was another winner.

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    3. Yeah macabre butterfly collection got me too. I don't think I've ever read a voice quite like yours Dan and that's wonderful.

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    4. Thanks so much. It means a lot coming from y'all. :)

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    5. Dan'd voice is da bomb. Sort of like honey filtered through whale balleen. Okay, only sort of. But yes, your voice is truly unique, bro, which is a huge thing for a writer.

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    6. "The rest is dandelion fluff." Gotta be one of my favorite lines.

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  5. When we walked, I always buried my fists in my pockets, barely looking up from the pavement before us. To truly see you, eyes focussed upon eyes, to ever actually touch you that way, were beyond hope.

    Wind blew cold past these ears warmed by your voice, and silent visions played on the far side of my consciousness.

    Behind this window today I watch breezes smooth the grass and ruffle feathers. In this wind, near-dead images rise like whitecaps, spraying memories of warm fingers in flannel, eyes focusing on the imaginary, on some someday poetry.

    I don't hear you anymore, can barely remember your face, but the cold never-to-be of Us remains just one capital letter away from the pen clenched in this warm fist.

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    1. Wow.... the tactility of this is awesome... form the fists in pockets to the pen in the fist.... and "one capital letter away" is brilliant. Truly gorgeous memories and pain.

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    2. Sadly "but the cold never-to-be of Us remains" that part tied it all together and I felt it deeply.

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    3. Yup, I'm with Leland and Lily. And awesome images. I love this: "Behind this window today I watch breezes smooth the grass and ruffle feathers." The juxtaposition - so good.

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    4. I especially hear the lingering yearning in the "behind this window ... in this wind ..." symmetry.

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  6. What do you say to a pile of freshly turned earth, no matter what's underneath? That's what I was thinking. That, and how stupid. How you would have laughed. Me, eyes dripping, staring at the dirt. You'd be laughing. Dude, I'm fucking fertilizer now! Yeah, and I get it. Just doesn't seem funny.

    But it doesn't seem sad, either. It feels like a surprise party that got queered. Because no one's surprised, we've been making guilty, internal bets for years. I didn't give you enough credit. I thought you'd be long gone by now.

    I will stand forever, staring at the dirt, everyone else in some reception hall eating soggy bullshit. You'd probably want me to piss on it, but I'm not that juvenile. You'd say 'fuck it' - go get wasted. I don't do that anymore. I won't do any of the things you want anymore. But I'll stand her and wonder, because that's what friends are for.

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    1. I love this... and I love that the narrator is still standing, still with us.

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    2. In a way, every death is "a surprise party that got queered," and I love how surprising that phrase itself was.

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  7. Nancy DeCilio GauthierApril 24, 2015 at 8:52 AM

    You're fifteen, you make up poetry in your head while walking in the rain. You are young but glowing with self-confidence. You have friends - yes - but they don't really understand you. That;s okay, you understand them just fine and can live with that. You have non-friends too (we didn't call them bullies in those days). They are the ones who drag you into the girl's room at school and insist you tell them what brand hair dye you use to get you hair so shiny black like silk - you laugh and say: 'god's hair dye, I was born with this color'. They get wet paper towels and run it all over your head to try to prove you are lying. You see, in those days hair dyes, especially for black hair were inferior and left the hair looking like fuzz and rubbed off. You laughed again when the wet paper remained pristine. They also wanted to know what kind of make-up you use to cover up blemishes - lord, bless 'em - but your skin is zit free - also from the good lord. They wipe your face - gee - they were angry when they saw clean paper again. You smiled that Mona Lisa smile and strolled out of the girl's room. They never bothered you again, just grumbled.

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    1. Lovely... that Mona Lisa smile says so much.

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    2. Yeah, this is an awesome glimpse into a private world. Really nuanced and well balanced work.

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  8. Word quickly spread. Brian ribbed Tim callously, “aw, what’s the matter, little baby do a little too much dope? Sissy.” The others mostly just hoped the experience of a near-fatal overdose would dissuade Tim from continuing to use heroin. They didn’t pressure Brian like that, partly because he admittedly had a very high tolerance for drugs. He would get drunk and high, but rarely even lost his lunch. But also because no one really liked him that much, so they wouldn’t exactly be crying in their beer if he died. They tolerated him because he was often useful, and sometimes even fun to party with, but he wasn’t exactly a nice person. Whereas Tim was tribal in his fierce loyalty to his friends, equaled only by his aggression and cruelty to his enemies.

    Luanne glared at Allison, as she effusively doted over Tim on coming home and learning that he’d ODed. Allison was the one who turned him onto the heroin in the first place, and this hoe was probably going make like it wasn’t that big a deal. “I swear to God, if I catch her cooking him a hit again, I will fuck her up,” Luanne thought. She even visualized it: walking into that room and seeing her tie his arm off, going “Oh HELL no! Bitch you must be up out your goddamn mind!” Swatting the gear out of her hands and finding out if it’s possible to slap the white off someone, like how, when she or her brothers misbehaved, their mother would occasionally threaten, “I will slap the black off you if you don’t cut that shit out!”

    She watched and fumed, nursing a can of lukewarm Steel Reserve. “Fucking connivaho. She thinks shit ain’t no big deal because she can just go home to mommy and daddy if shit gets too real. We out here on the struggle. Does she think we took her boy to the fuckin’ ER? If I wasn’t prepared for that, he’d probly be dead. And she was off somewhere, probably fuckin’ some other dude, yet she has the balls to make like she cares, like she loves him or some bullshit.

    “Oh, fuck, really gurl? Are you starting to feel feelings about him? That’s fucking nasty… yeah. Goddamnit. Feelings. I oughta fuckin’ know better than to have feelings, especially about him. Isn’t it obvious you’re not exactly his type? Besides, between the heroin and the hoe-ass girlfriend, he probly got hella diseases and shit.”

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    1. Yup. Authentic. Conflicted. Very, very real. The word 'sissy' threw me a little. I would have expected pussy or something more severe. The fact that one word tripped me out so much means you're NAILING this shit though. Great stuff, D.

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    2. Cheers! Chalk it up to Canadian politeness.

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  9. In the garden of marble angels, fresh dirt is turned. The black shiny limos have left, and the wind whispers through trees bare of leaves as the sun goes to rest beyond the horizon.
    Mists rise in the darkness and an owl questions who.
    “Where am I?” a muffled voice calls. “Where am I?”
    One tendril of mist answers another, “You are here, and there, and everywhere you wish to be.”
    A screech from the rusty iron gate pierces the night. Red metal on red metal makes for an awful pain. A flashlight and footsteps find their way to freshly disturbed sod. Knees touch earth, and a moment later, salty tears.
    “Can he hear me?”
    “No.”
    “Can he feel me?”
    “He always does. You are here, and there, and everywhere he goes.”
    Lightning lit the sky for a moment. Thunder surrounded the marble angels.
    A young boy whispered, “I’m afraid, Mama. I’m so afraid.”
    Saltless tears from heaven were the only reply.

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    1. I love the atmosphere of this piece, Leland. Like mist. And this is phenomenally beautiful in its simplicity: "In the garden of marble angels..."

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    2. Wow. The darkest of fables. It feels almost Poe-like!

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    3. Now that's a compliment! Thank you!

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    4. Love this too Leland. There's a mystical optimism in it that I really enjoyed.

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    5. Thanks Lily! I like that... mystical optimism....

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  10. He woke and looked up into a husky's eye cerulean sky and saw only the long fingertip of a conifer, upraised as if to call some temporary halt. Fir? Spruce? He wished he'd learned the names of trees and sought out secret things. But what was stopping him? He lay on his back, warmth on his face. The flat scaly leaves of the tree—cedar? Yes, he thought so—were moving strangely, waving and undulating as if underwater. Was this the ocean? Not unless he'd grown gills; he felt and could see his chest rising and falling, and the warmth had to be the sun.

    There was a strange ticking echo, like tiny pebbles trickling down a mountainside, then the music of water as if from a small fountain and a faint spray. This was a peaceful place. A Tibetan sanctuary. A Japanese garden.

    So why did he feel so odd? Like winter's ice was breaking into the hot vault of summer.

    A red bird sang in the topmost branches of the tree. Why did he not know the names of birds? What was wrong with him? He'd never heard a bird with such a deep song, as if it were played at the wrong speed.

    There was something wrong with his eyes. He thought of his photo editing tool and the words edge blur came to him; the bird was flying now and he could see every crimson feather—cardinal?—but the tree to one side was blurring.

    He thought of random things: carjackings, jade figurines, terraced riverbanks, lotus flowers, a woman's hands, beach kelp, heart murmurs, spreadsheets, Viking funerals, hammerheads, fretless bass riffs, smoky suburban nights, two fingers of Laphroaig in a tulip-shaped glass.

    Another sound now. Familiar. Rhythmic. Shoes on pavement; people running. Running toward him. Again, he felt that chill and closed his eyes as if, like a child, he couldn't be seen if he could no longer see. But he could hear, and the owners of those urgent feet were nearby now, pulling up after running hard, and he smelled trauma, a hot metal tang.

    A woman screamed then.

    And, in the sluggish voice of a fairytale troll, a man said, "Oh my fucking god, don't move him."

    Someone moaned appallingly, and he realized it was him.

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    1. Thank you. How I miss your writing when you're not here, and how I love the brushstrokes of language you use when you are. This is ethereal.

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    2. Agree with Leland. This is a pretty amazing piece. The structure makes it for me. That uncertainty and the dialogue at the end. And this: He thought of random things: carjackings, jade figurines, terraced riverbanks, lotus flowers, a woman's hands, beach kelp, heart murmurs, spreadsheets, Viking funerals, hammerheads, fretless bass riffs, smoky suburban nights, two fingers of Laphroaig in a tulip-shaped glass."

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    3. Thanks, you two treasured stalwarts! I ended up calling this piece "Heist" on my blog, thanks to the image of winter breaking into summer's vault, but I think I should have called it "Edge Blur," no? (I obsess over titles, lol.)

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    4. I rather like "Heist"... so you don't lose the non-photoshoppers...

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    5. Oh... I love this. I kept copying sentences to paste here and gave up. But especially this: "He thought of random things: carjackings, jade figurines, terraced riverbanks, lotus flowers, a woman's hands, beach kelp, heart murmurs, spreadsheets, Viking funerals, hammerheads, fretless bass riffs, smoky suburban nights, two fingers of Laphroaig in a tulip-shaped glass." Man. Love it hard.

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    6. Thanks, Leland. Maybe I did make the right call.

      Laurie, the great thing about being a writer is that we can spill the haphazard contents of our random heads and not get carted off to the pysch ward. Or hopefully, at least! :)

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    7. Actually David a fair amount of writers do get carted off I suspect but I doubt most of those unfortunate nut bags could have written this. Yes I loved the random things especially too. But truthfully the slow escalation of coherent thought made the whole thing a wonderful journey. I just loved all of it.

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  11. The first daffodil is always a broken promise, the promise of spring. The garden tools migrate from the back of the garage to the front, only to be pushed aside again for the snow shovels.
    So, too, the first kiss. You think it’s love everlasting, the stuff of romance novels, and then you discover his wife, his boyfriend, his friend-with-benefits.
    The real story of love doesn’t begin until the 37th kiss. Spring doesn’t happen till the first peas come from the garden.
    And we never fully appreciate the love nor the garden till winter steals them away.

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    1. Ah, I like this one, my friend. You're killing it with the opening phrase today. "The first daffodil is always a broken promise.." Bam!

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    2. Sigh... And once again, Dan tags my favorite line. So beautiful.

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    3. I don't know I think my fave was the 37th kiss. This reminded me of a Frost poem from beginning to end and that makes it a beautiful thing.

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    4. Thanks! I thought about 42nd, but then I figured people would go to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and that wasn't where I wanted them to go!

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  12. Charlie had finally had enough, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He hadn’t been keeping precise count, but it was about the one thousandth time that Mike Pullman whispered “faggot” to Frank D’Amato as he passed on the way to the front of the room, just loud enough to be heard by Charlie and their immediate neighbors. He snapped. He turned around, went back to his desk, reached into his backpack, and pulled out a gun. No one even noticed until he stuck it in Mike’s face and loudly asked, “The fuck did you just say?”

    The whole classroom recoiled, Chrissie Nickson screamed. She was always high strung. Mike was paralyzed, just stuttering as Charlie demanded, “Did you not just call me a faggot, again, Michael? Huh? Tough guy?” He pistol whipped Mike across the face, the front sight of the pistol lacerating his cheek. “It’s not that I care if you think that. There’s nothing wrong with being gay. But I’m sure you know that in our culture, those are fighting words. And you just came empty handed to a gunfight, motherfucker, I could end you right now if I felt like it.”

    Mrs. Henderson, the fiftysomething third-period history teacher, entreated Charlie, “Charlie, please, put the gun down. You don’t know what you’re doing.”

    Charlie rolled his eyes in true adolescent fashion. “Whatever. Y’all can just chill. I have no beef with the rest of you, this is between me and dickless here.”

    Frank echoed the sentiment, but Charlie pointed the gun at him and replied, “You’re next, bitch.”

    Gratified by the look of terror, Charlie lowered the gun and told Mike, “Final warning, Pullman. Don’t fuck with me again unless you’re tired of living.”

    He wasn’t surprised or angered by his summary expulsion. He considered it his induction into adult society, a bit early at sixteen: a society that loved to blame the victim and break its neck looking away from the transgressions of the privileged.

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    1. Great close. And the details like this: "the front sight of the pistol lacerating his cheek." work really well. Even keeled. Very interesting piece.

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  13. From the stories you imagined your great-grandfather to be a larger man. Larger than your small suburban life, certainly larger than the path you trod each day from school to home and back again. You begged for those stories, of how he escaped the Cossacks, swimming across a river with bullets boiling the water around him. Even the mean ones, of the cruel father he’d been, tossing his sixteen-year-old son out of his new wife’s household to live on the street. Even those heartbreaking stories enlarged the mythic glow. Fatigue pinched your mother’s eyes with your questions about when, when, when he was coming. You lay your small body across the top of the couch so you could watch out the window, see the exact moment when Grandpa’s old Cadillac arrived. And finally…it chugged up the driveway and the old brakes squealed to a stop. Tough old Grandpa with his tough old rhino hide from his own heroic adventures scurried to the back to help his father out. And he was…small. Too small. Hunched and white haired and frail as the saplings in the yard. They’d all lied to you, you were sure of that now, because it made no sense that this diminutive curve of a man could have been a hero, a rebel, a monster. It made no sense at all.

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    1. And from these few words, you've told me so much about the great-grandfather, and about the great-grandchild.... this is really rich and beautiful.

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    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierApril 24, 2015 at 3:34 PM

      So much truth in this. What we imagine and what is reality.

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    3. Man, this one resonates with me. I love how you can take a fairly universal experience and make it so personal and intimate and unique.

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    4. An entire world in under two hundred and fifty words. Brava!

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    5. Dan's right. You do give the gift of intimacy in your writing and it doesn't matter who you're writing about. Quite wonderful.

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  14. Sitting in my bed on a cold rainy night. Feeling irked at a condensating moderator who says my writing consists almost entirely of sentence fragments. As I employ my own punctuation,-x*€>
    Pissed she claims that isn't acceptable either. Too effing deep for conventional standards. Holding Library of Congress copyrights, don't ya know. Besides, saw it used by Sarge in Beetle Bailey. Qualifying it for me to use.

    Waiting for the sycophantic accolades to pour in. For they are wont to do. While waiting, rubbing my nose. As it itches,-x*€>
    Mumbo jumbo, gobbledygook, Beelzebub and rhubarb. With other deep thoughts and shit running through my mind. Did I mention I'm deep?

    Feeling frustrated that my genius isn't appreciated. Instead getting condensation from that uppity bitch,-x*€>
    Drifting off to sleep now, thinking of my greatness. And deepness. As my thoughts are deep. Thinking deep thoughts about deepness and thoughts. And condensation.

    * Note to moderators: Please do not interfere with my personal style, or add, remove or alter any tags. I'll expect the story to be approved for posting immediately upon submission. And if you dare score my work as anything less than perfect, I will report you to the site administrator as a troll. Thank you.

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    1. Beautiful in its irony, in its self-certainty... I'll try to be less condensating in the future ;-)

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    2. Also, I love Beelzebub and rhubarb... and think you ought to have a book named this.. or a band...

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    3. It is very rare that I read a piece of writing and think, wow, this is something unlike anything I've ever read. Risky piece. The risk paid off. I love it.

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  15. O’HARA

    He was hearing things. Words in a gruff delivery Adam assumed were either not of this world or emanating from his cancer-riddled brain. Nothing stirred in the bedroom. It was so quiet he could hear the ticking of the alarm clock on the dresser. On the carpet beside his bed lay O’Hara his Irish Setter, constant companion, loyal friend, hunting partner that raced beneath the summer sun, panting, catching golden beams like dew on his long-haired coat.

    Adam heard it again. First, he gave the room a glance-over, then tapped his head as though the move would prod the words to shake loose from the diseased recesses of his brain. The house was empty. Deena was shopping. She wouldn’t be long. “I hate leaving you by yourself” and he said, “Go, I’ll be all right,” but now he wasn’t sure. Where were the words coming from?

    “I’m right here, Lad,” said O’Hara from the side of the bed, raising his huge paws and resting them on Adam’s chest. “Top o’ the mornin’.” O’Hara’s dark muzzles’ lips moved as the words played out. “There’s no leprechaun hidin’ under the bed speakin’ for me, Lad. I do my own talkin’.”

    If Deena comes home and hears O’Hara…

    “Dogs can’t speak,” Adam said, but O’Hara laughed. “If humans can squeal like pigs and howl like wolves, we dogs sure as hell can speak. You don’t hear us because you don’t want to hear. I’ve been spittin’ out words since I was a puppy, but you been too busy takin’ the time to listen.”

    “What can you tell me, O’Hara? I’m dying, you know.”

    “Cancer. I heard, Lad. Doctors been wrong before. I had an uncle the vet gave one week to live. The vet died before the week was out and Paddy’s still huntin’ the big bad fox.”

    Adam inhaled and exhaled deeply. “I’m scared, Boy,” he said.

    “Don’t call me ‘Boy’; I’m O’Hara, remember? Look, I’m no doctor, but one thing I know for sure. We got each other. Through thick and thin. As long as we’ve got breath in us, we’ll make every second count.”

    Adam and his dog heard the door slam. Deena was home. O’Hara sat again on the side of the bed. He raised his head and whispered, “Mum’s the word, Lad.” Then he raised himself on all four legs, wagged his golden tail, and barked.

    “Happy to see me, Boy?” she said, patting O’Hara.

    O’Hara barked again.

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    1. I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this.... truly a beautiful piece, and I can hear O'Hara in my head... thank you! and Angelo my Border Collie thanks you!

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    2. Agreed. This is lovely. Sad, beautiful, hopeful - so much life in this piece about dying.

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  16. The smell of ash and burnt wood and death were so overwhelming it threatened his ability to carry on a normal conversation without retching. During his life there were not a lot of things that could easily make Glenn Sparrow lose his equilibrium – his girlfriend Myra, his late grandmother, and fire. He appreciated that his appetite had gone on sabbatical that morning and he’d only had coffee before leaving with Danae for the hour long journey to Sullivan County.

    Neither of them were morning people. Together they said no more than twelve words for the entire trip. Besides, he knew what her worries were and he knew that she’d brought him along partly in hopes he’d assuage them. She also knew he’d tell her the truth even if it was bad.

    The moment they left the car and he got his first whiff he knew. Then he laid eyes on the wreckage – a pyrographic message leading to the death of two young souls. He exchanged glances with his friend, letting her know without words it wasn’t just bad. If what the authorities thought was true it was worse than bad. It was diabolical.

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    1. ohhhhh.... if this is going to be longer, you've definitely got my interest. But it's also perfect in this form... and the last sentence... diabolical, in all its connotations, sends shivers down my spine!

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    2. I don't usually do this, but Leland pretty much took the words right out of my mouth. So, I will add only that if this expanded I would not be disappointed. :) Great piece.

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    3. Such a powerful ending, yes. Agree with the two dudes above me. ^^^

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    4. Thanks gentlemen. I'm thinking it's the beginning of something I'm working on too. Glad it had your interest. Don't you just love the word diabolical. Don't get to use it nearly enough in my life.

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  17. “Take you home?” The question hung in the summer evening while the convertible purred, while the breeze tossed his pretty blond hair, while all the warnings meted out at her mother’s knee quivered in the face of a blue-eyed guy with a crooked grin. So much like her first one. She swallowed, slid her damp palms down the thighs of her faded jeans. Things happen for a reason, she thought. She hadn’t expected to go out that night. Hadn’t expected a guy who looked like sex in a blanket would even talk to her, let alone follow her out when she left early. He leaned back in the seat and worked that smile like a hand between her legs. She licked her lower lip and reached for the door handle. Triumph lit his eyes as she settled into the seat and belted herself in for the ride. As they slid off into the dusk of no return, she anticipated the thrill. The first kiss. The slide of her stiletto. The money in his wallet. And the pretty blond hair that would soon join her collection.

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    1. "Who knows what evil lurks beneath the beautiful writer? The shadow knows!" This was delicious in its wicked turnings... You hooked me.

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    2. This is awesome. "He leaned back in the seat and worked that smile like a hand between her legs." Fucking dope. And sex in a blanket? Kapow!

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  18. Love your opening piece, btw, Dan. "Let the words fall from your lips like gentle atrocities."

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    1. I have to say I love it too Dan, very much. "I feel like you started talking before I was born and you'll be the last one at the funeral"

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    2. Yup. They're right, my friend. :)

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  19. He held her hand all the way to the diner. There were no hidden meanings in his grasp. At least she didn’t sense any, other than him wanting her to keep up. He had a long, purposeful gait she gave in to, instinctively aware he knew where they going and she didn’t have to worry about it.

    He’d given her the whisper of a half-smile when he asked to take her for a cup of java and she’d said yes immediately, her adrenalin still pumping. That was it – no more – except for the fact that they’d just met ten minutes ago. And if he hadn’t been present at her acerbic breakup with an utterly imperfect boyfriend, this would be a normal excursion with a friend.

    As they got closer to the corner the light changed and he slowed his pace. When they stopped to wait for the light she dared a sideways glance and noted despite the jeans, the immaculately white tee, the electric blue converse and the hint of a tattoo on his right arm, he didn’t appear at all gauche to her. It could be the circles she’d been traveling in since she got here but so many American boys, whatever their race, seemed to be uncouth versions of their arrogant fathers.

    A wave of unremitting cravings made her wondered suddenly if he smoked. Sighing she brought her eyes to the front again hoping he didn’t. She was dying for a cigarette but had quit two weeks ago and if he had one she’d ask for a puff. She wouldn’t be able to help herself.

    The light changed.

    Why weren’t they moving?

    She looked up into his face and was about to ask the question aloud when he spoke first.

    “I wonder what you were thinking just then.”

    “Why? Does it matter?” She said, checking the light again.

    “Yes,” he said, grasping her hand tighter as they stepped off the curb in unison, “but I can wait.”

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    Replies
    1. Ah, a delicious beginning... of a story and a relationship.... such wonderful realities in here... "uncouth versions of their arrogant fathers." is so good... and I love that he believes what she is thinking DOES matter, but he's willing to be patient. Thank you for this!

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    2. It's making it very hard to comment WITH LELAND STEALING THE WORDS FROM MY BRAIN! ;) I concur. And the fathers line got me, too. Big time. Awesome piece.

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    3. Hey, I only steal words from the BEST brains...

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  20. It’s not like there ever existed a moment for me, that spot in time where definitive presence existed. There was a before and an after, but that present moment ever eluded my consciousness. I envy you who can hold onto what still remains my ungraspable.

    A moment for us never happened either, just anticipation and memory, with the “what was” tipping the scales for the longest time. Through the years I see it fading into balance with
    the “what might might have been.”

    Perhaps that is why I push so hard into this paper, to gouge a permanence of the momentary, something I might find in an as yet elusive present.

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    1. well said... "gouge a permanence of the momentary" will be with me all day... and beyond.

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    2. "Perhaps that is why I push so hard into this paper, to gouge a permanence of the momentary, something I might find in an as yet elusive present." Wow. Fabulous.

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    3. Yes, Leland and Dan, now you stole my brain too!

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    4. Yeah ^^^ what they said. Definitelty.

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  21. This is all you have left of a man you’ve never met: a set of coordinates on a GPS system and a piece of paper that gives you legal right to do with it as you will. When the voice announces you’ve arrived at your destination, you can’t help but wonder if you’ve been punked. Because all that sits in the litter of leaves and fallen branches is a stove-in, rusted pickup truck. Then you see the house. Or what’s left of it. Set back from the road, half buried in years of deciduous autumns and moss, is a mustard yellow shack. You grab the machete that the lawyer gave you, which you thought was some kind of fucking joke, and hack your way toward it, through the sumac and pokeweed and ivy. It had a front porch once; you can see that now. What hadn’t been sheared off by a fallen maple caved in from its own rot. And why your first impulse is to knock on what’s left of the front door makes you laugh. Habit…the habit of announcing oneself on someone else’s property. Yours now, but still. Your throat tightens at what this place had once been. Uncle Teddy’s refuge. Where, family legend goes, he escaped Aunt Ida’s nagging and smoked cigars and swilled whiskey under the guise of going hunting. A home away from home that you’ve often desired. Yours, now. Or what’s left of it. You kick in the remaining wood planks of the door and take in what’s left. Not bad. Not bad at all. Still solid. Still the happy part of a fifth of Jack on the counter. After a good cleaning, you might even put the porch back up. But that would only invite visitors. Uncle Teddy didn’t like visitors.

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    Replies
    1. Sweet... not only a room of one's own, but a cottage. This jewel of a phrase stood out for me: "...half buried in years of deciduous autumns and moss, is a mustard yellow shack." And I like Uncle Teddy.

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    2. Love this one. The last sentence ties the whole thing together perfectly.

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    3. And here I thought all the parts of the fifth of Jack were happy ones! Great work! :)

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    4. Loved this one too from the very first line. It's the dream isn't it, Uncle Teddy's refuge? "You grab the machete that the lawyer gave you, which you thought was some kind of fucking joke," made me laugh out loud.

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  22. “You've changed,” she said, and not in a sing-song “Oh, Sugar, look at you!” southern lady kind of “You’ve changed,” as the reunion well-wishers filtered away from the bar to the circular dining tables.

    “Yeah, well since the last time you saw me I came out, lost thirty pounds and I’ve written two books, all pretty heavy things to carry around for twenty-five years,” I said, sort of smiling my new sort of smile.

    “Well, doesn't that make you the special one,” she said in the same tone she’d use when I was one of the peripheral satellites, a confused speck of space dust really, in the high school galaxy she centered. She was always a black hole for attention and adulation.

    “No, I just grew up and found something in me, a truth I guess, that made me feel good about myself, not relying on everyone’s acquiescence to my capricious whims for validation,” I said, grinning with each Latinate rocket I fired over her head.

    She shook her head, waved at the table of once-upon-a-time teen Sun gods and goddesses in the middle of the banquet hall and brushed past me. “You’re still a jerk…you’ll never change,” she said.

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    1. This is great.... and I know her, and he has a lot of me.... and I admire him. You have given her a very authentic voice in this one... I like it!

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    2. I love the way you write, Joe. I'm just going to put that out there. "...sort of smiling my new sort of smile." - jealous of that one.

      And my 20 year high school reunion is coming up. I wouldn't go for a thousand dollars. :)

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  23. Pulling her fingers through her hair, she surveyed the bar. The man buying a round of drinks was obviously not for her; he was too tall, too shabbily dressed and every drink on the tray was a pint glass. He was obviously out on a guys' night out. Okay, they'd probably go on to visit a strip club but the worst thing likely to happen would be that he'd end the night incubating an STD. She pulled her mouth into a moue, hoping his wife would give him hell when she found out and, not wanting to waste her time on a inconvenience, she moved on.

    The well-dressed man at the table in the booth was much more likely. He'd been there a while, there were already three identical sets of glasses there. Tumblers for him, shot glasses for her. They were both developing a buzz that could lead to so much more. Dana reached into her bag, pulling out her phone. Time to take a surreptitious shot or two while they were still acting candidly.

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    Replies
    1. Good scene setting... are we going to find out what happens next?

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    2. Yes, I must know what happens!!! Strong writing, Mark.

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    3. Again, agree with the others. The word "incubating" in this context made my stomach lurch!

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  24. I'm a flawed, awesome, hot mess. I learned a long time ago that it's okay for people to not accept that, because I'm not going to change. It's the way I am. Sure. I could fake it for awhile, but in the end, the hot mess rears her beautiful toothy grin and comes bounding out from behind the fake façade...and you're left with this awesomely flawed individual. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

    The journey to self discovery hurts. It's painful and enlightening and joyful and draining and sad and heartbreaking and purposeful and never-ending. There are a lot of past hurts that rear their ugly head and when they do, I've found that facing them head on is the best way to deal with it. Even when you double over in pain because the images knock the wind out of you. Even when you feel that you have no tears left to cry or can't possibly laugh any harder.

    It's sometimes broken promise after broken promise. Promises made by you and for you...promises made by others that will never know what their broken promise meant and how it affected you.

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    Replies
    1. I'm feeling this piece. I like the concept and the execution. Really well done. Who are you? And please come back next week. :)

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    2. I'm a friend of Laurie...we met on a BLOG site and it was love at first blog post. She's always posting about this and I finally pulled the trigger...fears be damned.

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    3. This piece made me feel many feels. Really nice.

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  25. Sure, we'll go back. I said we'd go back didn't I? I'm not a liar, right, so we'll fucking go back. You do this shit all the time. If I say we're going to do something, it's gonna fucking happen isn't it?

    You're not gonna say anything? I get it. Sure, you wanna be butthurt because I missed the game, right? Cause I said I'd be there. But I gotta work, don't I? You like eating don't you? Sleeping inside? Your stupid ass video games?

    Now, you think you're a tough guy - calling me out. Old Dad's a liar, right? Because I missed a few games, a few dinners. You just don't understand. It's not fucking lying. It's called being an adult. I don't have the luxury of ...

    OK, fine. Leave. Go text your fucking friends about how your old man's a liar. My old man beat the shit out of me. You got it lucky.

    We're not done talking about this either. But I have to make a few calls...

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    Replies
    1. Oh, ouch to the last line.... and I fear this is closer to truth than fiction for far too many.

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    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierApril 24, 2015 at 3:41 PM

      I'm on the side of the father - kids just don't understand obligations. Yeah, those work days and phone calls are important - as long as they are real and not excuses to blow off the kids.

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    3. How can anyone be on the side of the father? Fuck that. Met too many kids who had parents like this—bullies and deadbeats—and the result can be heartbreaking. Sorry to be a note of dissent in a happy place, but shit, you know?

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  26. It’s easy to say that things are changing. They talk about the rapture and the aliens, too. But them that preach aren’t stuck behind the asshole at the grocery store, too dumb to figure out how to use his goddamned debit card. The sweet old lady using recyclable bags. You can’t find the future dreaming, chump. That dream was stolen, haven’t you heard? Snatched out from under while you weren’t looking, chasing some romance in a sheer summer dress. Or speeding toward freedom in a second-hand car. The dream was taxed when you bought that lottery ticket. You slipped on it like a banana peel while the smart guys stuffed their pockets and charged you interest for your pains. The software spies of social media stalk your heartbeats; eating your mojo like an afternoon snack. You’ve got the power, but you won’t use it. Maybe if they gave you a little bit of sympathy; some reassurance that it isn’t what you see. Maybe then, there’d be a reason to find something better. But trust in the end is just too risky. Settle the old scores, fight all the old wars. You need a money back guarantee. Not for you the suckers and dewy-eyed dreamers. You’re busy making payments to cover your payments, secure in the safety of what you believe.

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    1. POWER. Damn, I love this one. Preach lady!

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    2. SING that truth! Shout it from the rooftops!

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    3. Don't you just love twenty-first century America? ;) (Don't worry, twenty-first century Canada ain't much different.)

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  27. Trying not to be a hit and run this week. Gimme couple hours... Whew!

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  28. "Mom, I don't want to wear the dress."

    "But the dress makes you look PRETTY. Don't you want to be pretty?"

    "..."

    "The other girls will be wearing dresses. Don't you want to be like the other girls? You dress like a boy and I don't say anything. You'd think for once ..."

    "I just don't want to -"

    "YOU don't want to. You ungrateful bitch. This isn't about you. This is Jenny's party. You think she wants some lesbian fucking thirteen year old - "

    "I'm not a lesbian."

    "You're something. Something that's not normal. Goddamn. You make me say such ugly things. Don't you see that this reflects on us? Our family?"

    "Mom, it's a party at a bowling alley, it's not -"

    "That's not the fucking point! Don't play stupid. You know there will be boys there. You know that people will talk. You know as well as I do -"

    "I don't care."

    "You don't care? You don't care. You bitch. You better start caring. You're going to grow up and who's going to take care of you. Who?"

    "I can take care of myself."

    "Like you did last summer? You almost died! And I had to be the doting Mom or I'm a monster. Because they don't know you're just a dramatic little brat. And I'll be explaining those scars forever."

    "You don't have to explain anything! This has nothing to do with you!"

    "I'm your mother, for Christ's sake. How can you even say that?"

    "I know. About the adoption. Dad told me."

    "Oh, and I'm supposed to feel bad for you, huh? Little suicidal princess. Tell me. What do you want?"

    "Really?"

    "Really."

    "I want to go back in time and tell that poor girl to have an abortion. And I want out. I'd leave now, but I can't do that to Dad."

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    Replies
    1. ohmigod... this is so visceral, so real... my stomach is in knots... you nailed this one.

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    2. Jesu Christo...Dude. You know daughters SO well. Doesn't matter between the girl and her mom, adopted or not. Kids Always bring the conflict down to their terms....Youch!

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  29. Strike the chord that calls them to attention. Bang the gong or do whatever you have to do. You got trumpets? Blare them fuckers. This is gonna be a humdinger of a humdinger. People will talk about it for years. Folks will come from all over. Hell, they'll beg to see it. Come on down to the lion show. Just ask Christian, I ain't lyin'. Best show in town. I'm a roaming man, I go where I want, do what I think right. Put em in the ring and watch the fight. You think I'm wrong? I'll sell you the whole goddamned circus for a song.

    You want to see em? Come on down to the Colosseum.

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    Replies
    1. This hits so many levels that Shakespeare would be proud... we have puns, we have blood, we have a circus... roaming man/Roman man is my favorite... Poor Christian...

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  30. Poppa got a pop gun. Gonna put your eyes out.
    Not so little any more - let the mighty mountains roar.
    I got small hands, but I don't mind.
    I got a small mind, but it comes in handy.
    Like me some pussy. Like me some candy.
    Shit's all over the street. More than enough to eat.

    Bubba got a bat club. Gonna go all bat shit.
    I fucked a whore and got a sore, but I don't think you'll catch it.
    And it ain't like you got a choice.
    Sister got a lesson, but it weren't about her voice.

    Brother, you think you're so smart?

    Sure, I dropped out of school, that shit dropped out of ME. Now look at all the thinky, smarty-pantsy things we'll see.

    You just gotta close your eyes and smile.

    I'll be along in a little while.

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    Replies
    1. MaderRap(™) goes poetry.... good on you!

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  31. They'd thought that imagination was just that. Flights of fancy in the realm of the imaginary. They hadn't fathomed the latent potential of dreams, once brought down from the astral plane. All of a sudden there was feasting on "pie in the sky" right before their eyes. All the subconsciously conditioned constraints on what could be possible vanished into clean air. There was no longer a box outside of which to think.

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    1. Ah, the last line is genius... boxless thinking!

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    2. Thank you, kindly, sir Leland! For better or worse, I'm presently typing this response into a text box viewed on a square monitor screen, framed by the infinitude of squares that surround my/our existence. Worry not, I shan't be boxed, hemmed, corralled, confined... bold box breaking equals fresh thoughts escaping! Be well! :)

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    3. There is a delightful old poem by Edwin Markham... maybe it works for boxes, too:

      “He drew a circle that shut me out-
      Heretic , rebel, a thing to flout.
      But love and I had the wit to win:
      We drew a circle and took him In !

      From the poem " Outwitted”

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    4. Touche, Leland! Fits like an intentionally amorphous mitten! Thanks for sharing. :)

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    5. I can't make comments since Leland always says exactly what I was going to say, so ... *inarticulate appreciative noises*

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    6. Yeah, ditto here, too. Great piece. And Jonathon RIchman would be proud. :)

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  32. Claudette got lost in thought, bored as she peered through the scope of her rifle. She wondered how she got herself into this situation, entwined in the ever-escalating sociopolitical turmoil of America. After all, what did she care? She did her time in the French Marines and was honorably discharged. She could easily have just returned her weapons and equipment to the armory, caught the train back to Marseille, and gone back to a regular life. Maybe she didn’t fancy the comfortable tedium of the working class provincial life: realistically, she’d probably end up working in a factory, a café, or a stultifying dull clerical office job.

    She supposed she was there partly because America’s global influence meant she had a vested interest in its politics, but also just because her military service only intensified her adrenaline addiction. She was only so bored because she was sitting on the roof of a building, waiting around for a clear shot of the correct person to shoot. Once that happened, it would be so easy. Claudette was an expert markswoman, with dozens of confirmed kills made with that model of Sako sniper rifle. And while the only demerits on her personnel record were insubordination for refusing orders that would have resulted in more civilian deaths than combatants, she had no qualms about pulling the trigger on enemy combatants.

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  33. As usual, I am bedazzled by all of YOU! Thank you!

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