Friday, May 15, 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. 

You've never heard this story before ... you want to hear it? Naw, you never wanted to hear nothing true, nothing real. You've got your head up an ostrich's ass - you always have - guess you like the view. Me, I like my darkness to be wrapped in letters, smells better.

So, I won't tell you the story because it's too evil. Too goddamned representative of the way the world is. Shame, 'cause there's beauty in the story, like this: "He sat in the dust-devil madness, cackling, spitting wonder and lost Bible verses into the voracious wind." 


You don't want to know, I know.

It tastes bad. Talking to you. That doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's true. It hurts the back of my throat, makes me swallow some kind of bittersweet frustration. I'd beat the story into you with a bat, but I think you could resist even that. God, it's a shame. It's not a happy story, but it's a good one. 


You would have liked it.

Thanks for stopping by! I'll be out some 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

258 comments:

  1. Wonderful, just wonderful JD. So many good things hard to pick just one thing to point out. I know I for one wanna hear the story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wanna hear it, too! and yes, this is good suspense-building.

      Delete
    2. "It tastes bad. Talking to you. That doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's true." Poetry in every dimension.

      Delete
    3. "I'd beat the story into you with a bat..." Love it.

      Delete
    4. I ALWAYS wanna hear a story I never heard before! (grins)

      Delete
    5. [I don't know where my comment went, so I'm posting it again. If the original turns up, well, that's fine 'cause I meant that shit.]

      I just adore your poetic rage. After my extended absence, I really see your talent getting even sharper and deliciously dangerous. Fucking beautiful, man.

      Delete
    6. Thanks, lady. :) I'm glad you're back!

      Delete
  2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierMay 15, 2015 at 9:32 AM

    Now you know you have to tell it !!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The moon rose cold and silver that April night, the night of my memories. As the month could not decide whether to be spring or winter, so my beloved could not decide whether to be in or out of love.
    I’d brought my tent and backpack, food to last a week, and a notebook, and nothing else. I had escaped to the safest place I knew: The wilderness. There was a valley, with a hot spring and a creek, and with silence broken only by creatures who did not know my name. My grandfather had discovered the place some decades ago, and swore me to secrecy before he showed it to me.
    Though the hike was not a hard or long one, I was tired. Perhaps more weary than tired, but my eyes grew heavy as I tended the embers of the fire on which I had made dinner.
    My eyes searched the heavens for the constellations my grandfather had taught me. Sirius and his dog. The Big Dipper, pointing to the North Star. And through the middle of it all, the ribbon of stars we call the Milky Way. The nearly full moon continued its rise and its bright light washed the lesser stars from view, though I knew they still were there.
    At last, I threw the remnants of the water I’d used to wash my dishes onto the fire, and listened to the sizzle of the embers and the water on the stones. Though I’d pitched the tent, I decided to sleep outside, not wanting even a thin veil of fabric between me and the skies, the starry skies, of this place.
    My eyes closed almost as soon as I had crawled into the sleeping bag. A dream of my grandfather came from somewhere, of the times we’d spent in this place, of the stories he’d told. In this dream, though, he seemed unable to speak. His mouth moved, but no words came out; a fact which seemed to surprise him. He sat by the fire, gesturing for me to join him.
    As soon as I escaped the confines of the sleeping bag, I heard his voice.
    “Ah, that’s better. Now you can hear me, yes?”
    I nodded, my own voice now lost.
    “I’m glad you came. This place needs you as much as you need it. It needs tending from time to time, and appreciation.”
    He stirred the coals, red again, though I was certain I’d put the fire out, just as he’d taught me.
    “This girl, this woman you’re seeing. Would she not come to this place with you?”
    Still mute, I could only shake my head.
    “That might tell you something, my grandson.”
    He was right. How could I spend my life with a woman afraid of sleeping on the ground? I nodded.
    “Those who compromise themselves for what they think is love, they kill themselves.”
    Ah, Grandfather.
    “Like that poor guy over there.” Grandfather gestured to an old-fashioned sleeping bag I hadn’t noticed before, or wasn’t there. “It’s not just the mind that dies with over-compromise. It’s the heart. The soul. Even the body. Look at the death in his face.” He waved and the zipper on the bag unzipped enough for me to recognize the face.
    My blood ran cold, cold as the moon. You see, the face was my own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leland, LOVE the magical realism. And I used to camp in the desert quite a bit. This took me right back there. Great piece.

      Delete
    2. Nothing like a delicious ghostly tale around the campfire. Excellent.

      Delete
    3. Thank you both... I appreciate it!

      Delete
    4. Ohhh...this got me at the end. Mesmerizing.

      Delete
    5. I am you and you are me and she is he and we are all together...Smirk....

      Delete
  4. The light perpetual shines down upon me as I walk the path through the forest. The path slopes down, and I know it leads to a river, not because I’ve been here before but because I can hear the laughter of the waters. The trees of the understory are ghostly, wraith-like. They slap against my bare skin, flagellating the penitent. As the unseen water grows to a roar, I run faster, ignoring the black flies that desire a piece of my flesh, of my blood, of my soul. I know that if I can make it into the water, I will be safe, washed clean of all evil.
    I burst through the brush, and there it is… the tiny waterfall, and the river running below it. But the water is not turquoise as it was in my dreams, nor blue like the ocean. It is black as night, and the stars are trapped below its surface. My body, against my will, leaps into the water and is swallowed by the darkness.
    All sound is silenced as my head sinks below the surface.
    This river is patient. This river waits for many. But the river is relentless. It is not always fast, but it is insatiable. The River of Madness calls out to and eventually claims its own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I love this one. The laughter of the waters? That's beautiful. And would make a good name for a short story collection...

      I was there, black flies and all. The stars in the water - lovely.

      Delete
    2. Thank you! and speaking of short story collections, Brother Raven and Other Tales from the Middle of Nowhere is being released next week...

      Delete
    3. Water has always spoke to me, this is a great telling of the eternal conversation between water and human that passes through all generations.

      Delete
    4. Holy cats, this is marvelous. I'm with JD and Ed, and I've always resonated with water.

      Delete
  5. A lone Nebraska cottonwood reaches its arms to the sky, its roots toward an aquifer far below. It shelters the memory and the body of one who died beneath its branches some hundred years ago. The coins of sunlight that permeate its trembling circular leaves caress the ground beneath which lies a man who wandered the prairies alone, in search of truth, in search of serenity.
    He walked through rain, unfazed by lightning; through blizzards, unaware of the cold. Relentless, fierce, and foolish in his journey. His fire and passion frightened even wild animals, not even the rattlesnake would cross his path.
    What did him in was not madness, was not failure, was not fear. What killed him was the honesty for which he searched. When he found it, he learned its name was “Love,” and it wore the body of a cowboy. When one man’s love meets another man’s fear, one or the other must die.
    And here, beneath a lone Nebraska cottonwood on a windswept prairie, lies proof that love does not always win.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another one knocked out of the park. "When one man’s love meets another man’s fear, one or the other must die. " Wow.

      Delete
    2. Brilliant and thoughtful. This one stays with you...

      Delete
    3. You guys say the nicest things... thank you!

      Delete
    4. What they said. Right in the heart. "When one man’s love meets another man’s fear, one or the other must die."

      Delete
  6. “What are you doing here?”

    “Looking at you.”

    “Bu. . . but. . . you’re dead.”

    “Yes.”

    ’Don’t tell me I’m dreaming.”

    “I won’t.”

    “Why the hell not? Shouldn’t you be explaining yourself or begging me to follow you, so I’ll leap out a window into oblivion and your waiting arms or something?”

    “I don’t want to lie to you.”

    “You know I hate riddles. Wait a minute. I’m not dreaming?”

    Silence.

    “Am I dead?”

    A nod, a pause, and then a smile.

    “How the fuck did that happen? I don't remember anything.”

    “Do you really want to know?”

    “Hell yes.”

    Another pause.

    “Well maybe I really don’t want to know.”

    “Look baby. . .”

    “Don’t call me that.”

    “Why?”

    “It’s distracting and . . . and you always use pet names when you know I’m wicked piss at you.”

    “I see.”

    “Sure you do.”

    “I do baby.”

    “So, how. . .how. . .”

    “Did you release this mortal coil?”

    “Don’t be funny.”

    “I thought it might lighten the mood.”

    “I’m not going to spend another eternity arguing with you.”

    “Could be fun.”

    Glaring.

    “Okay so you want to know how you died.”

    “Yes.”

    “In your sleep.”

    “Well that’s anticlimactic.”

    “I used to pray it would be that way for you.”

    “Lovely. You couldn’t pray for me to be blissfully happy on a beach somewhere?”

    “I use to pray for you not to suffer.”

    “You take the cake you know that.”

    Smiles all around.

    “What are you thinking ghost?”

    “How much I love talking to you. How much I missed it.”

    “Well then maybe the silent treatment is in order.”

    “Whatever you say lambchop. We’ve got time. I can wait.”

    Glaring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is awesome, and told almost exclusively in dialogue... well done!

      Delete
    2. Agreed, this is an amazing piece. Such strong dialogue. I love this: "I’m not going to spend another eternity arguing with you.” Awesome.

      Delete
    3. Amazing dialog piece, love to see it acted out on stage.

      Delete
    4. I agree, like one of those after hours shows after they done strutting and fretting their hour upon the stage.......

      Delete
  7. The master and the student sat by a still pond. In the folds of the old mans robes he concealed a small collection of different sized stones. Purposefully, he selected a small stone from his cache and tossed it high in the air, lobbing just right to splash in the center of the pond which it did without a splash. As quickly as it disappeared under the surface ripples began to spread out in every direction. As the boy and the old man watched the ripples slow and fade to reveal once again a mirror like surface the old man addressed the boy. “Every pebble represents an emotion, can you guess which?”

    The student thought for a moment before choosing his reply. “That stone represents happiness, because it doesn’t disturb the surface but rather causes a pleasant ripple of positive energy which spreads evenly and calmly through every molecule of the surface. When it has passed, everything is as before.”

    The master smiled at his student in appreciation. Next he took a much larger stone which was irregular in shape. He tossed it in exactly the same way as the first. When the stone struck the surface of the water it produced a small geyser and many ripples spread rapidly over the surface of the water. Each ripple so close to the other as to give the appearance that the surface of the pond was being roiled. It was as if the clear waters were being boiled by a unseen fire below the center of the pond. Even after the ripples had finished, the water was muddied from silt. When the master asked the student this time about what this latest stone represent the boy again paused in thought before answering.

    Finally the student gave his guess. “I think this stone must represent a very strong emotion like hate, or even love?”

    The master smiled at his student in sympathy and merely said, “Grief.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was this week, Leland.

      Delete
    2. Wow, this is beautiful. Mystical. Love it, Ed. The last line subverts the readers expectations perfectly.

      Delete
    3. It is.
      I thought the emotion was going to be anger.
      Makes sense the water is still muddied with it - the way grief moulds itself and leaves traces, sometimes unwieldy.
      I love the happiness one - the ripple of positive energy :)

      Delete
    4. Ed... love this. And missed your writing.

      Delete
  8. I can still smell the locker room tang - old sweat and liniment. Decades of scent, generations of mold - whole civilizations. And I had the KEY to the place. New kid may not be worth talking to, but new kid can put you on your ass with pads on. He doesn't like it, per se, but he doesn't hate it either. New kid has spent his whole life learning about violence, but not believing in it. Never participating. But if it's part of the game? Hell, new kid will hit you so hard every bully in every school flinches.

    I remember the smell, and I remember one afternoon like it was yesterday. He had been my roommate at camp, and I looked up to him. He was the only one I trusted, so I let my guard down. Stupid me. I thought, 'hell, maybe there's a chance this place will be different - maybe I've earned my stripes ..."

    So, I let it happen. Duped, I blamed myself.

    When the darkness abated, there was laughter. All eyes on me and laughter so hard it twisted my insides. God, it hurt. And when you live in a world of hurt, new pain is hard to come by.

    I stood in the dark for hours, crying. He even tried to make it alright. Tell me how it was just a joke. Just messing around. Just an initiation.

    Just messing with ya, new kid.

    I looked off into the distance and decided, once and for all, that I would never trust anyone ever again. Never care. Always hate. Make my insides into steel and start hurting myself on my fucking terms.

    I didn't go home until the poker face was fixed. And I wondered why it took me so long to learn the lesson.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This breaks my heart... and brings back so many memories... thank you. Beautiful writing.

      Delete
    2. The poker face is a weapon that deserves careful practice. It should require a license. Good stuff, Dan.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, it's really heartbreaking. He's so alone. As a kid you fix that poker face and pretend it doesn't affect you. With age, you scream it out :)

      Delete
    4. "when you live in a world of hurt, new pain is hard to come by" GREAT!

      Delete
    5. So beautiful...and punches in the face. I kept highlighting words and choosing new words and... I just loved it. Really feel the new-kid-ness poker-face-ness.

      Delete
  9. BEWARE THE RUSTLING LEAVES

    Beyond the perilous safety of his foxhole, he can see the enemy approaching in the distance, soldiers stealthily advancing like dark shadows against the flash of artillery light. With him in the hole are the dead. West and Triano and Smythe and… They lie in their tangled death poses, arms and legs akimbo, their eyes wide open, blind to that final glimpse of what toppled them from life, what stilled the race of their breathing and their hearts.

    Corporal Mark Jameson is alone. For the sake of his sanity, he pretends he has come upon some abandoned wax museum or has taken the wrong turn in some Roman catacomb. Still, he knows he is alone, the only surviving soldier hanging on to an evaporating life.

    “Triano,” he says to the bloody half face of his closest friend, “save a seat somewhere for me.” And to West, “If only we could’ve…” but there isn’t much to wish for now. He can only wait for the advancing enemy to grow larger as they advance and finally fire away, propel his dead body on to the pile so far spared this last assault. He can only hope it will set his soul free to find its way to a warless land where they can all laugh fearlessly at death and the battle that claimed their young lives.

    War with a twinkle in its stormy eye sets landmines because it knows the march of soldiers, how they tramp on sloshing mud and puddling blood and the soft green under which one day they finally rest. And so it goes: the kaleidoscope of battles, weak treaties penned by time’s brutal hands, the amnesia that incites men to forget the serenity of peace and declare senseless war again.

    In their proximity the guns roar loudly. Jameson knows he should close these final moments with prayer, but instead he remembers an excerpt from a poem someone somewhere wrote and he recites it aloud:

    “Oh, beware, beware the rustling leaves
    in peaceful gardens, the howling wolf
    stretching its snarl to bite the solicitous moon.”

    Day is closing. Darkening skies conceal the falling sun. Jameson dies waiting for it to reappear from behind sailing clouds.

    #

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is stark and brutal, but wonderful writing. And a good depiction of why I could never go to war. Great piece, Sal.

      Delete
    2. Yep, that starkness and brutality... and beauty in it all... a denial of reality to enable facing reality... The colors and the scene you set are extremely well done.

      Delete
    3. Sal, are you published anywhere? I think I'd like to read more of your writing.

      Delete
    4. Leland, he sure is. On the Zon. :)

      Delete
    5. Chilling, realistic scene.

      Delete
    6. It's really good. You can feel being there. I also thought it was going to rush out with his gun - didn't suspect the ending.
      Fave line -- “Triano,” he says to the bloody half face of his closest friend, “save a seat somewhere for me.”

      Delete
    7. you;re right there with him. Excellent job.

      Delete
  10. Brother, you speak to me of sin, but you forget the sins of pride and hypocrisy. You forget that the one you call Savior was a radical revolutionary who threw the moneychangers from the temples. The god you call your ally lives only in the selfish reality you’ve created.

    How comfortable would you be at tonight’s dinner party? We’re inviting tax collectors and whores and cons and gay soldiers and people with incurable diseases. Think your god would be down with that? Think you’d be down with that?

    Yeah, I didn’t think so. I’ll give Jesus your regards when I see him. And I do, see him, I mean, every day. While you’re counting your money and your lucky stars.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, this is a powerful piece. Deadly spot on. Well played, brother.

      Delete
    2. They say you haven't preached til you've preached to the choir. Amen my brother! Amen.

      Delete
    3. There's a really confident voice in it. I notice a lot darker bits of writing :)
      I'm an atheist! Made me laugh.

      Delete
    4. The day is dreary and rainy here... that always makes me darker and drearier, and by extension, my writing...

      Delete
  11. I won't hurt nothing, I'll just be careful. Touch it soft. Hold it in my hands gently. These were the things I thought, and I thought I believed them, but that didn't ring so true through the crash and the rending of sensibilities.

    You told me never to touch it. But you told me never to hit anyone either. While you were hitting me.

    You can't put something like that there, tell a boy not to touch it, and expect him to listen. The pull is too strong.

    So, now it's broken. It's fucked. It's over. But I know where the gun is, too. And I'm not supposed to touch that either, but, by the time you've found out, there won't be any punishment to dole out.

    Not for me. Not anymore.

    You can punish yourself now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. Gut punch. And a full-on indictment of the hypocrisy of adults. Yeah, this is good.

      Delete
    2. Perfectly executed brother. Like that one perfect hit with the hammer when half the nail sinks almost silently into the yielding wood.

      Delete
    3. Noooo. You can see what's coming without seeing it. He's gonna get it and the young guy's life is screwed, but it already is.

      Delete
  12. In a sylvan glade, between the hours of darkness and dawn, a man lights a fire and the fog draws back, as if angry that its power is not almighty.
    The smoke intercedes with the fog, making peace with what the fire has offended, and the pops and crackle from the log catching fire sound like gunshots. The man flinches from their sound, but remembers that he is in a place of peace, a place of repose, not a battlefield.
    As the fire grows in its stone ring, the man removes his coat, then his shirt, and finally his jeans. The buckle clanks against a stone. The man stands, hypnotized by the flames, cleansed by the smoke of wood not quite dry, and dreaming. From deep within him, there is a vibration, a sound that rises to his throat. There are no words, not yet, only humming. His feet begin to move in forgotten patterns, patterns he never knew. The patterns grow to a dance, the hum to a song… faster and faster he moves around the fire, the words come loudly now in a language that isn’t his, but the language of the universe and all within it.
    A wolf watches from behind a tree. A cougar flicks its tail in time with the man’s feet.
    An eagle watches time unfold from far above the fire and the man.
    The sun crosses the horizon, and it is tomorrow, and yesterday, and maybe, and mostly, and joy, and sorrow.
    They say some dance to remember, and some dance to forget. But this savage, naked man dances to discover what was and what may yet be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love this piece, too. The personification of the elemental in the beginning sets the tone so well.

      Delete
    2. Seems about balance in nature and joining in the larger cosmic dance. Excellent piece to read before a meditation and almost a flash prompt in and of itself. Brilliant.

      Delete
    3. I'm honored. Thank you! and yes, definitely about the larger cosmic dance...

      Delete
    4. I think of him discovering who he is as well.
      Me too, liked the character of the inanimate.

      Delete
  13. You know that girl that never smiles? I'm gonna make her smile. I'm gonna grin at her until she has to laugh. I'm fixing to show her. A girl that beautiful deserves to know that someone notices. That not everyone stops their appraisal at the thrift store dresses and vinyl shoes.

    The other girls are mean, but the boys are just scared. If they weren't, they'd be lining up outside her house, fist full of flowers. They're scared, but I'm not. Everyone has their crosses to bear, I'll help with yours, you help with mine. Everything is gonna turn out just fine.

    They call it love and they pretend it's all kinds of things, but we don't need a fancy word for it. I see YOU. I see the sweetness, the beauty.

    In the land of the awkward blind, the one-eyed boy is King.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beautiful... I love a happy ending... especially when it involves a couple of misfits... because misfits RULE.

      Delete
    2. Nice connection to the 4th or 5th century : "In the street of the blind, the one eyed man is called the Guiding Light"

      Delete
    3. The girl has this sadness inside and he's gonna pull it out. Love it. Agree with the misfits thing. They're mismatched matched. The last line was my favourite too.

      Delete
    4. They call it love and pretend it's all kind of things...I'm stealing that...somehow...

      Delete
  14. It wasn’t exactly beach weather, with needles of ice raining down, but the climate was a hell of a lot more welcoming than inside with his sneaky-eyed family. If he had to answer one more question about what he was going to do with the property, Matthew was going to punch someone. Probably that uncle he hadn’t seen since his eighth birthday, when he caught the dick trying to cop a feel off his mother. So after one more damp hand-clasp from one more distant relative, who hoped the next time they saw each other would be under better circumstances, he’d grabbed another beer and disappeared outside. He slipped off his shoes and dug his bare toes into the cold, damp sand. I own this now, he thought, staring off into the line where lumpy gray sky met lumpy gray sea. The concept felt so foreign to him, so wrong. How do you own a geological feature, a piece of a planet? There were fish in the ocean, birds in the sky, crustaceans tunneling beneath the sand…did he own them, too? Or did they own him? They’d owned this place first, and were only laughing at his puny, human construct of needing a piece of paper to justify his existence. Knowing that he lived here at their pleasure. One good storm could flick the house from the shore’s back; one big wave could sweep him into the ocean’s depth. But there was something about that he liked, he respected, and in that moment, he decided to sign the papers that told the world of lawyers and government officials that for now, at least, he would serve as the custodian of this piece of Earth, for as long as she allowed him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah... thanks for that walk on the beach... and for that defiance! Beautifully written, as always, with not a word out of place.

      Delete
    2. Yup, totally agreed. You can feel the sand in the toes. Spot on, Boris. Love it.

      Delete
    3. One good storm... Yes, awesome piece which combines the inner and outer storms in our lives that flick our 'houses" back into the depths of family histories, deeds, and trusts.

      Delete
    4. I too, love that it isn't this idyll. It's stark and REAL, so much realer than the ritual that goes with it.

      Delete
    5. God, it's good to read your words again. This piece is perfectly visceral and cerebral. Love it.

      Delete
  15. Late night promises and last call love, they oughta come with a label, best if used by sunrise. Quality guaranteed if used as directed. Side effects may include loss of wallet, self-respect, and itchiness.
    See, you wanna get outta the bar before the lights come up. Deception is easier in the semi-dark. Barkeep has a jar filled with tips from guys like you. You drink for confidence, for fantasy, to remember, to forget. And that one, over there… the one stealing glances at you? She just told her friend she thinks you’re cute, but she won’t sleep with a drunk.
    So tonight you go home empty-handed, promises unmade.
    You may not find love, but you put a bartender’s kid through Stanford. He’d kiss you if you’d let him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This place doesn't exactly sound like Cheers, yet some how it fits in the American pantheon of hope spring from hopelessness. So brilliantly done in so few words.

      Delete
    2. Agreed, this is great atmospheric piece. And that first sentence would make Hank Williams jealous.

      Delete
    3. If Hank liked it, I'd be honored if he sang it Come to think of it, I'd be honored if the great JD Mader sang it, too. Thanks to both of you.

      Delete
    4. Hmmm, I might have to do some recording this weekend... :)

      Delete
    5. That would be a wonderful thing....

      Delete
  16. “Come on out of there!”

    “I’m trying!” came the grizzled reply.

    “Anyone would think you liked the view.”

    “I don’t like the view one ziggit! This is all your fault!”

    “How is it my fault?” Pid protested, not knowing what on Earth to do, if that was the correct word for it.

    “It’s your fault because you were driving,” said Hak. “Now if you’d let me do it…”

    “That’s what you always do. Hog the controls when we travel, the map, the robot remote – just about everything. Even my orgasms, if I ever have one, are when you feel like making magic.”

    “I fail to see how making magic has anything to do with my present predicament. How is this remotely romantic?”

    “You, romantic, in a zillion light years?!” Pid scoffed, resisting the urge to storm off.

    “Wait until I tell that Gorry you go all wibbly over, with the big…”

    “Now let’s not get personal, Pid.”

    “Personal?“ demanded the ostrich, having heard far too much and feeling rather sore. He turned his head to glare at the small, green woman standing on the grass with purple bits sprouting from her body in all directions, reminiscent of a funky
    centipede. “Mister Hak, you’re the one with your head stuck up my ass! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to bend a little and do my best to accomplish the most enormous fart. Hopefully that will resolve this issue to the satisfaction of both of us.”

    The wiry woman from Planet Skivvy scratched her head with three tentacles and tried not to giggle out of all three of her mouths. “You have my blessing.”

    And the prompt was from JD's original story -- You've got your head up an ostrich's ass - you always have - guess you like the view.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I cannot stop laughing... well-played!

      Delete
    2. thanks!!! I'm glad I made you laugh. I've just landed at home after work, wrote two and gonna eat now. Got everyone's to look forward to reading! That ostrich line just got me. As soon as I read it I could see it! Euuuwwwww

      Delete
    3. I don't know if I can't stop laughing at the story or its the feathers tickling me nose.

      Delete
    4. haha! Get your head out right now Mr Ed!!! It's not that cold today!

      Delete
    5. lol! This is awesome, Vickie. I'm cracking up and everyone is looking at me like I'm crazy (as opposed to ... hell, they always look at me like I'm crazy). ;)

      Delete
    6. haha! It's the little green man with purple bits that's crazy :)

      Delete
  17. One

    I’d walk a million miles to feel it
    To be at one with you
    In the endlessly dizzy hours
    Never becoming day or night
    We’d exist as one
    A murmur in a space in time
    A figment of our imaginings
    Except you would be so real
    Inviting me to be myself
    Beside you
    Beside me
    Here we’d talk ‘til breathless
    Treasuring the other, surreal
    In the moment captured
    Linked, connected, submerged
    I’d drown in this sensuous sea
    Without boat or anchor
    Drifting to the heart of me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such truth... "inviting me to be myself"... the mark of true love, in my estimation! Thanks for sharing!

      Delete
    2. You're welcome!!! Had to kindle up the old memory for that one! haha! I remember how moments become timeless and wanted the reader to feel that.

      Delete
    3. Quite like a dream this one.

      Delete
    4. Agreed. A dream. A memory. Hope. So much in here. Hell, there's a million stories in the first line!

      Delete
  18. The elfin-haired woman caught my eye. “Is this your first time, darling?”

    I nodded, feeling a little overcome. “Yup. First appointment for us today. It's...”

    “...been so hard?”

    I nodded. Again. Normally I'd be more bothered about seeming dumb but today was different. Very different.

    The hollow-cheeked woman took my hand, giving me a super-nova smile that I felt rather than saw. “It is hard,” she said, “but it does get better.” She sat beside me, her weight scarcely disturbing the cushion of the mismatched utilitarian chair. Think of it as a test,” she continued. “A trial that'll prove your worth. You'll struggle at times – we all do, sometimes – but I can tell you'll come through this. And you'll be a better man too. Tempered. Proven.”

    I choked back a lump, forced a smile back on my face and nodded. “That what doesn't kill us...”

    “Exactly.”

    ----

    “Babe, I'm all done. We can go home now.”

    I looked up, saw my wife's outstretched hand and took it, giving it a reassuring squeeze. “That's good. No problems?

    She shrugged. “No. Nothing worth mentioning. You okay?”

    “Yes.” I laughed. “I can't complain. I was just chatting to someone. She's...”

    “Gone now?”

    I glanced around, seeing no-one else but us and the oncology reception staff. “Yes,” I said. “It seems like that...”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow ... this cold I caught is really making my eyes water. Made it difficult to read. Just a silly cold. The final dialog is sweet. Very sweet.

      Delete
    2. I think it's probably hay-fever. It is the season for that!

      (And thank you, Ed!)

      Delete
    3. Man, yep. Damn hay fever. This one hits close to home. Really well played, Mark. You got the balance perfect. No small feat!

      Delete
    4. yep, you walked the tightrope well... I like this a lot.

      Delete
  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  20. The cafeteria was almost ready to close and the tired E.D. team who had worked so frantically just minutes before now sat solemnly around a long table trying to replace calories spent in sweat and fast thinking. All to keep a young woman alive just long enough to get to the O.R. where what was left her as a person would probably cease were it not for the arrogance of one man. That man sat at the end of the table in clean scrubs, sweat free, and regally holding court over what he considered his fawning minions : The Emergency Room nurses, techs, interns, and residents.

    The woman’s skull x-ray looked like a comic book sketch. A dotted line marked the bullets trail of fragments to where it impacted on the posterior cranial wall and exploded into a mushroom shaped mass. She had killed her three children, all below the age of five and the youngest a newborn, before turning the gun on herself. It was unimaginable, yet somehow sadly human. Unlike the monster at the head of the table.

    “I don’t think I could save her, even if I wanted to,” he said as the over head speaker paged him to surgery. That one sentence still sticks with me to this day. I wanted to scream at him, grab him, shake him, and tell him that we don’t get to decide who we do or do not want to save. We try to save them all. That is our job. The woman was a tortured wreak of a woman who committed an unspeakable crime and became her own executioner. The neurosurgeon, well he was just an asshole. I can’t hate that poor wretch any more than I can understand her. Its not my job to judge. But after five terms of Human Anatomy, I do know an asshole when I see one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, that last line is so good. Man, this is a wicked powerful piece, Ed. The arrogance of the doc is so repugnant. And the counterpoint of the tragedy. Epic writing, brother.

      Delete
    2. Ahhh... the interesting conundrums of medicine... and the last line is perfect.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, the last line made me laugh out loud. You don't see it coming, that middle section. You assume she's the victim of an accident - not a deliberate decision and after murder. It makes the surgeon the same as she is. It's still tragic, even though she's a murderer.

      Delete
  21. Her gossamer butterfly wings fluttered at hummingbird speed, scattering blue and purple light across the sun-dappled rocks. She was beautiful in her anger. He'd always thought so, from the first time he'd seen her. Sometimes he went out of his way to irritate her, just to see that beauty.

    "Is it true?" she demanded.

    He sighed. "Of course it is true. It isn't as if Naderia could have lied, now, is it?"

    Her wings stopped fluttering, drooping down behind her. Her anger vanished just as quickly, replaced by a blank mask. As one of the Fae, she was good at hiding her emotions.

    But as one of the high Fae, the elite, a Sidhe noble who should never, ever have fallen in love with a mere sylph, he was good at seeing what others wanted to hide. Her pain felt like a steel knife in his heart.

    "Would did you think would happen?" he asked as gently as he knew how, which, admittedly, wasn't all that gentle.

    "What I thought doesn't matter," she told him, forcing herself to stand straight with her head high. "What is, is."

    "Davinia," he said, reaching for her.

    She stepped back, her gossamer wings whipping up and out to steady her. "What is, is, and what isn't, isn't. And we aren't. Not anymore." She fluttered upward, hovering so that she looked down at him. "Go and marry your Sidhe princess. And when she poisons your mind and heart, when she makes your near-eternal life eternal hell, remember--remember that you had a choice, and that you chose poorly."

    He reached for her, but she was lightning fast; her wings beat faster, and she rose beyond his reach in between one heartbeat and the next. His hand stroked empty air, his fingertips inches from Davinia's bare foot.

    "So close," he whispered, looking up into her eyes.

    "But not close enough."

    She turned and darted away, her gossamer butterfly wings beating hummingbird fast, throwing blue and purple light across the sun-dappled ground. It seemed to him that she took the light with her. And she never looked back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the blink an eye you create a complete world. Rich descriptive prose and you had me with a name. Davinia... Lovely.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, agreed. This is beautiful and so rich. A relatable experience elevated through fantasy. Really brilliant.

      Delete
    3. It is magnificent... and does what good fantasy does... it puts us in a new world that seems entirely familiar to us... and yet lets us see who we are in new ways.

      Delete
  22. The minute the bearded dude collapsed onto a stool and grumbled out his order—handcrafted ale and a bourbon back—Eric had a bad feeling about him, and he was in no mood to play therapist.
    “It’s a myth, you know.”
    The dude looked up from the shifting sea of fresh foam atop his glass. “Uh, what?”
    “Bartenders. That we’re just sittin’ here waiting to solve all your problems.”
    “I didn’t—”
    “We got our own troubles, you know? On our feet all night. Cutting people off when they need it. Watching everyone else get the girl.”
    “I wasn’t going to—”
    “Sure.” Eric waved a hand. “You know you want to. That’s why y’all sit at the bar, right. Lotsa tables out there, but you chose to stay here, with me.”
    “But I can’t see the game from—”
    “Likely excuse. Everyone’s got a freakin’ TV. Hell, you can watch it on your phone, you can watch it on your wrist.”
    “Buddy, ease off. I just wanted to get out of the house—”
    “Problems at home?”
    “No. Uh…well, kinda.”
    Eric smirked. “And I bet you’re gonna tell me all about it.”
    The dude threw back his shot. “Nope.” He gave Eric a flat smile and tossed a bill on the bar.
    “Aw, come on, dude. I got three more hours in my shift and this place is dead.”
    “Jeez, I wonder why?”
    “Look. I’ll pick up next round. Make it two. Just…hang out. Watch the game. Please?”
    The dude eyeballed him a long moment. “You’ll let me talk?”
    Damn. “If you need to.”
    “And you won’t…you know, use it against me?”
    Eric backed up a step.
    “And if I toss enough money on that bar, you won’t tell anyone I was here?”
    A couple of words might have squeaked out of Eric’s mouth when he noticed the spatters of blood on the dude’s tan pants.
    “And you’ll let me clean up in the back room?”
    Eric nodded.
    The dude grinned and retook his bar stool. “All right then. Another draft, please. I got a story to tell.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Woah, this is so good. Honest chills, lady. Damn, so good. One thing, bourbon with beer back? Or is the reversal intentional. Or does he drink weird? (It doesn't matter, this story kicks ass)

      Delete
    2. dammit... now YOU are promising a story like JD did in the first story... stories about stories that aren't told ain't fair... but this is a great prelude!

      Delete
    3. So much truth should come with a warning label. Nice.

      Delete
    4. I like the way it builds and suddenly normality isn't normal any more :)

      Delete
  23. We always said if we were still haunting this earth a decade on, we'd meet at our spot like a Linklater couple, at the place where we learned—like movie fan neophytes—that love can encompass place and lighting and mood every bit as much as touch and taste. We weren't to know then that changes wrought by our kind's cold-eyed rapacity would render that decade the longest, slowest death rattle ever, our world's understated expiration.

    Yet I am here amid the wreckage, and I wonder whether you are too. Or did you get waylaid, along with the billions of others, somewhere between the comfort of sleep and the dawning unease of emerging wakefulness? Will you appear out of the brown air, through the oily miasma of a new atmosphere, as I sit waiting for you, patient as an ancient cedar counting the centuries before the arrival of the first antlike bipeds with saws? I have nothing else to wait for, other than the obvious oblivion awaiting us all, awaiting everything. This awfulness that's happened has stripped the flesh from the bones of truth, revealing a white unlovely thing: we are here to simply bide time before we die.

    Will you make it? I am here now, in the warm ambient remnants of dark wood and soft lighting, this womb-cave once rumoured to be where silent movie stars came to die. Can you hear the low susurrus of conversation and the clink of glasses while "Enjoy the Silence" bleeds prettily from hidden speakers and we get gently drunk on extravagant caesars? We must use our imaginations like weapons turned inward. Nostalgia is the spirit's suicide. Can we—ought we to?—still imagine the waiters and bartenders and diners huddled at tables, and see beyond the broken leaded glass to a street where once we watched people park cars in the tightest spaces—now rusted cockroach frames on crumbling pavement—where we smiled at the joy of dogs, and where hope glittered on the wave tops in the bay instead of lifeless toxic things?

    We once believed the fabric of our lives were woven from threads so fine that no one could unpick them, yet unraveled is how we've become in the merciless onslaught of reality. The lonely face looks out to sea. We were once on the sands, the surf growling like a feral pack. Now I'm alone in a shell of a building, gazing at petroleum waters.

    You're not coming, I know; there will be no sequel. No redemptive beauty will emerge from the beige air. Your blacks, tying you to a past run aground and the barren oilspill of blighted hope, truly crackle and drag. The world is turning the mirrors backward, opening the nozzles on the cold stove, and covering the gaps in the doors with towels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Woah. So much power here. This might be my favorite sentence ever: "Nostalgia is the spirit's suicide" - the tone of this piece makes it for me. Your writing is always stellar - there's something about the understatement here - killer piece, D.

      Delete
    2. yeah... whoa, indeed. Escritoire noir, and powerfully done. My favorite sentence: "We once believed the fabric of our lives were woven from threads so fine that no one could unpick them, yet unraveled is how we've become in the merciless onslaught of reality. " Angelo says he appreciates the "joy of dogs" and reference to "pack." Tell me again when you're putting out a collection of your flash?

      Delete
    3. You went there, camped out, and wore the t-shirt.Nicely done.

      Delete
    4. I like. Has the same nihilistic feel of your previous one of the woman walking across the earth, like the end was nigh. Lots of energy and imagery. And anger. Love the world turning mirrors backwards.

      Delete
    5. What everyone else said. I am drunk on this piece and running out of adjectives. My favorite sentences are the ones Leland and Dan already selected. YES!

      Delete
  24. Misguided Fortune.

    It's something everyone has experienced at one point in their long and pointless lives.

    Except me.

    My life hasn't been guided by anything of fortune to even be called misguided. Some people think I am the Devil. Then the others think that I am a god.

    Me though, I just think I'm a kid that lost everything when I was arrested for a crime I did not commit. A crime that even the toughest kids in my neighborhood would never commit.

    Now I am sitting here in this cell wondering if I will ever get to see my family and friends again. Wondering how I will survive the prison system...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of my worst fears. Seriously. I can do a lot of things, but prison would break me. No doubt. You captured that fear and despair. And the "Except me" is such a great touchpoint. Sets the rhythm for the whole piece.

      Delete
    2. Its also one of my worst fears and yet I had to spend 5 and a half years in the juvenile prison system for something I didn't do. Writing is what helped me get through the long 5 and a half years I spent away from my family and friends.

      Delete
    3. It's good writing. Fave line is 'My life hasn't been guided by anything of fortune to even be called misguided'.

      Delete
    4. I think the lines that followed Vickie's favorites were the most interesting. But yeah, paying for something you didn't buy into is a bitch. Especially when your paying with a finite currency like years.

      Delete
  25. You can look at me with those milk-white eyes, it don't matter. I got nothing left. Nothing to give you. I can't even muster the strength to lie. If you can call hope a lie - which it sure as hell seems to be. I can't ask you to close your eyes, but they're killing me.

    I crush the pills on the tile with the back of my grandmother's spoon. The one with the flowers - you always did love that spoon. I wonder if you'll be able to taste it - god it looks like a lot of powder. I add more sugar and figure you probably won't think twice.

    You haven't noticed much for a while now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ahhhhhh. Sad And the grandmother's spoon :(

      Delete
    2. I imagine her feeding him with it when he was a kid.

      Delete
    3. The cruelty of kindness, perfectly captured.

      Delete
    4. Yep... rich in symbolism... and poignant...

      Delete
  26. Never did I think I'd have to kill someone just to find my calling in life.

    Never did I think I'd have to go to some foreign land and fight in a war that seemed pointless.

    Never did I think that my life would be turned upside down when my best friend was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting on our way home from an after-school program.

    And never did I think I'd be sitting here in this hospital room as my wife and new born son slept.

    But that was how my life was growing up in one of the worst neighborhoods in East L.A. I grew up in a world torn by violence. All the temptations to join the gang was always there, right in front of me as I saw my older brothers get pulled into it. My mother tried to raise us up to be gentleman but it was hard for her to do by herself since our father left after I was born and my mother had to raise four growing boys by herself.

    I've seen too much violence in my life but yet I joined the Army when I was eighteen to get away from East LA. Only to be sent off to another country to fight in a war that didn't make sense to me or anyone else in my platoon. But we followed our orders and shipped out.

    By the time I got back to the States, most of my friends from before I joined were either dead or in jail. My older brothers all ended up in prison for a gang-involved shoot out with LAPD.

    My mother finally moved out of the neighborhood thanks to my help in giving her money from my enlistment bonus I received. She now lives in a small out-lying town just east of San Diego.

    As I sit here watching my wife and son sleep, these were the thoughts I had racing through my mind. That I grew up around violence, only to join the Army to fight in a war that seemed pointless, and now to end up here in this hospital with the two people in my life I went to war for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An epic story... and one I've seen lived out more than once in friends' lives... well written, well done.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Leland. This one I might just add to my growing collection to be released in my first book, "A Collection of Stories from a Young Man" due out sometime soon.

      Delete
    3. A hostage exchange, trading one battle ground for another, wining the war and rescuing one family while starting a new one. This is heroic on many levels.

      Delete
    4. Ditto the guys. There's a lot in there and a lot of food for thought, and the circular ending :)

      Delete
    5. It'd be a good addition to that, Gary!

      Delete
    6. Agreed, the juxtaposition works really well. And it is a tale that plays out just like this too often. I love the staccato intro and the transition to the newborn.

      Delete
    7. Thanks Vickie :) I am definitely going to try and expand on it in my book to give the readers more. And Leland, I have already added it in. Just going through my whole book editing and then I will eventually add more to this one as well as the others as I am editing.

      Delete
  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  28. The young man was slight of build but long on nerve as he walked into the saloon in El Paso on a hot dry day in August and ordered a ginger beer.

    Manuel had joined la familia as a small boy. The only way out was up, and he had risen up through the ranks quickly by doing whatever it took.

    “El gringo’s drinks are on me,” Manuel told the bartender. He was barely able to conceal a smile which was translated by the barkeep as a smirk since Manuel never smiled. Unless he was carving his initials into someone’s chest before cutting out their heart as it still beat.

    “Thank you, but I can buy my own drinks,” the clearly clueless young white boy said in a shaky vibrato.

    The room became silent as all eyes turned to Manuel and the frail rider who just showed up clearly where he did not belong. Manuel’s face grew darker, his brown eyes smoldering as he said slowly, “Do you know who I am, Gringo?”

    Clearly the young gringo had a death wish. His voice had found a kind of false but almost convincing bravado as he said, “Look, I’m not here to socialize. Are you going to let me drink my drink in peace or should we step outside and settle this ‘mono y mono’.”

    The room was now as quiet as a tomb. The stillness lasted only seconds when it was broken by Manuel’s laughter and the obvious absurdity of the boy’s statement which was literally translated “Monkey and Monkey.” Manuel put his arm around the lad and said, “Amigo, I want you to come work for me and from this day on your name will be pequeño mono.”

    That, according to the legend, is how the now feared duo of el pequeño mono and el gordo mono came to be. The monkey and the fat monkey went on to rise to the top of all law enforcement wanted lists but even more impressively feared by the locals to the point of blind, unquestioning loyalty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beautiful! Had me imagining one of those old western bars.

      Delete
    2. Great and hilarious at the same time. You could be on to something here, expanding this into a full story. It's full of character snapshots - deceivingly simple when giving the reader a lot. Monkey & fat monkey is hilarious. And I love the opening - slight on build, long on nerve - and the drama of him walking in.... only to order a soft drink :)

      Delete
    3. I like it... a western with a modern flavor... and the meek truly DO inherit the earth...

      Delete
    4. Agree with all the above. You know I'm a sucker for a saloon. :) This is an intricate piece that could go so many places.

      Delete
    5. Love it. The idea that legends are born of sill mistakes...

      Delete
    6. Thanks everyone, I was nervous to post this one because its so, well, stupid. But it amused me in my mind, and like Mader I like saloons ;)

      Delete
    7. What a silly mistake... (ducks) ;)

      Delete
  29. Snare

    They hide inside, tucked away from the light. It isn’t to cheat the night or mimic the struck day, or anger the stirrings of the life in between. It’s a way to walk without motion, a means of cheating the time that can never come while the stale taste of life ekes out its path in a wintry hate. A dance upon the ashes of the men who never were. And so they hide.

    It’s a chance awakening bringing them here, where the sands have long trickled out their last, lying to the waiting who urge the ending to be final. If time were to bend and hollow out, and repeat itself like a joker’s word, who could stand it? This unravelling would be the final straw, the end cut of film spiralling into flames as the players left the stage. I would hold the lighter and laugh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "This unravelling would be the final straw, the end cut of film spiralling into flames as the players left the stage." Holy crap that is good.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Ed. Thank you! Honoured :)

      Delete
    3. Yep, Ed picked my favorite line, too... tremendous visual!

      Delete
    4. Ditto. I like the whole piece, but that ending is KILLER.

      Delete
  30. At first, Ray didn’t really feel like making a big deal about his birthday. He was prematurely jaded for a kid who was just turning fifteen, but he was also just modest. His siblings and friends, however, insisted on seizing any occasion for a party, especially on such a pleasant summer day: bright and sunny, not too smoggy, warm with a cool breeze off the bay. They were all broke, so Ray’s birthday gifts were all either inexpensive or stolen: small sacks of weed, knockoff kicks and bootleg jerseys, a new Android phone and laptop with the serial numbers filed off, and the like. The nicest, though, was probably the Glock that Brian gave him, as an upgrade from the little snub-nosed .38 Ray stole from his father’s closet, right after the old man turned up dead.

    The real gift was the party: they invited friends from all over the Bay, a diverse motley crowd united by The Party, a deep abiding love of the bacchanal, the short-lived respite from the pressures of being young in a time and place that tended to treat young people like they were disposable. Turning up empty-handed was frowned upon, but guests generally arrived by the carful, and they all at least pulled their own weight: they would come knocking on the door, or just letting themselves into the back lot, with cases of beer, bottles of wine, whiskey, vodka, tequila, and rum, and lots of food. Jacob manned the grill, improvised from a big metal drum, a couple of door hinges, and a section of steel grate, most of the time, and he never wanted for anything to cook: ribs, sausages, chicken, burgers, corn on the cob, et cetera.

    And when Jacob wasn’t grilling, he was trying to help get his brother laid. Ray would have been sort of bewildered by even the modest amount of female attention he was receiving, if he didn’t know that. He was used to his tall, lean, handsome older brother getting all the girls, while they treated him like, if he had balls, they hadn’t dropped yet: sweet and pleasant and all, but not exactly a MAN. But that was exactly Jacob’s thinking, to give his brother a boost toward ‘becoming a man’; his only actual material ‘gift’ was a three pack of condoms, casually tossed at the recipient first thing in the morning, with the advice “wrap yo’ shit, dogg, hoes be scandalous.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I REALLY dig this piece. Super smooth. Vivid. And the closing dialogue is perfect.

      Delete
    2. Have to agree. Very smooth and includes all my major food groups for a well balanced reading feast.

      Delete
  31. Courage is something you see in the movies or on a television screen when your favorite movie or tv character came on and beat the bad guys. Nobody thought that one mans courage would save the lives of an entire neighborhood as he stood his ground against the Mob as they tried to move in and take control of all the mom and pop shops. He stood his ground against them and ended up paying with his life for it. But not before he was able to get the Mob to back off and leave this small community alone. That was my grandfather who gave his life to protect my mother and me from being subjected to the violence the Mob brought to any community they took over....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like this piece. One man's stand. Sometimes, that's all it takes.

      Delete
    2. I like your take on this. Strong yet real.

      Delete
  32. Rust

    She feels it. Tin. Cold and hard, a perfect curve, the top frayed with crumbling, sticky rust. Tasting of life run out. Her fingertip traces the edge, round and around as it pushes in, seeking to enter her flesh, create a rip in time. The sting comes quick and she breathes it in, relishing the expression. A sensual kiss almost, this pleasure of feeling when her day had been plagued by numbness, akin to drifting. Drift wood. Floating.

    An image of herself: a sleepwalker in her own life, sweeping through, being careful not to touch the furniture unless a parent caught her spoiling something. Spoilt. She smiles at the word, gazing, transfixed by the red dripping from her fingertip, the ring like a wedding band, pressing, pressuring, controlling the pain.

    With a sharp intake of breath, she lets the tin fall to the floor and pushes her finger beneath her tongue. The taste of metal clouds her senses, hard and unrelenting. Like me, she thought. Like me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This beautifully rustic and yet it caught my attention right away. Great work Vickie. I'd love to see more of this and where it could go.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Gary :) She's doing it to try to wake herself, but she's lost at the moment.

      Delete
    3. This is a really dope piece. I'd also love to see where it could go although it totally works as a flash piece, too. Well in.

      Delete
    4. That is really intense and intensely real. Damn nice work!

      Delete
    5. the taste sensations blew me away....

      Delete
  33. With all the magnificence of modern technology, with all the inventions that condense space and time and wisdom, all you want is a switch: one that will sweep through your past and turn off the arguments, the terrible things that happened, and let you select a default mode of pleasant memories. Not of the day when thunder rumbled and rain drenched, but when lightning struck and the rainbow stretched across the backyard. Not of the weekend spent avoiding each other’s disappointment and stewing in old resentments, but the stock of that bouillabaisse: what brought you all together and the good in the old man’s heart. When you look around the rubble, you want a new program that will let you turn straw into gold, shards of glass into a mosaic, failure into opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That switch! Really like this piece. Vivid and dense and deceptively complex. This is an idea that could go anywhere.

      Delete
    2. Oh I so want a switch ... Nice piece, Laurie!

      Delete
  34. They gathered together, them born-again Buddhists. They met in a church downtown that used to be some kind of Presbyterian. But see, them Presbyterians believe in pre-destination, so they didn’t make too much of it when they went broke and hippies took over and started blaspheming about us being gods and inner peace.

    I never had no use for ‘em, not really. But I did that yoga and all the meditation. But it was way beyond me. It was a place to get a sandwich after service Sunday morning; coffee and applesauce donuts, too. Better chow than when the Presbies had it, that much I do know. On Wednesdays, you could get off the street for the special yoga hour, so I showed up there in winter when things got bad. I had to snicker up my sleeve watching fat Faye trying to stretch them short, Minnie Mouse legs. And that still small voice within of mine laughed his ass off when I saw that white-haired dude getting a boner for some other guy’s wife. I don’t care about your religion friend. Comes to that we’re all the same. But sometimes it’s good to be with people, y’know? Even if you got no more in common than dogs and fleas.

    It was real interesting how they’d hold hands and chant a funny language, to raise my vibration they said. They lived with intention, whatever that means. The Reverend’s name was Wally something and when he got up in front on Sundays? He had the power to make you wonder. He had long white hair all piled up to Jesus in a bun and a matching Ford Escalade. Sometimes, you could tell he was hungover so bad his eyes looked like a jello salad and that skinny little vegan woman of his hung on for dear life when he’d stagger down the stairs. He’d preach a sort of sermon about his days of Ego, how he wallowed in corruption before he went within. Not the first time I saw anybody testify; did some time in the Program myself. But he was trying, anyhow. I’d give him that much. Talking about ascending and making yourself free. I’d give him credit but I’m not someone who cares too much for what they call the higher planes. I take my comfort out here, on the street.

    I got to know Michael a little, he was one. Some kinda stockbroker till his daughter OD’d. He let me clean out his garage once and gave me 20 for my trouble. And Artie was a Chinaman who took me to the library and showed me how I could take college for free. I never told him I never went back there. The do-gooders want to help and I always let them think they do. That’s how I got by this long. No point in hurting feelings. Take what you can and shut up about the rest.

    Then there was Lily. She was the one who made that quinoa slop. She had curly hair and always flinched a little when we had the hug at the end. I didn’t blame her. Not much of a hugger myself. You could see in her eyes that she was running out of chances for self-improvement and wasn’t quite enlightened yet. It hit me hard when she went with ‘em. I don’t think she was ready to go.

    They found them all together, somebody told me. Spiritual seekers in a mass suicide. Caused quite a stir in the local papers. I didn’t need no cops sniffing my shorts about it, so I hopped a Greyhound and headed south. There’s a little beach off the coast of Carolina. So pretty you’ll forget about going home. The tourists are always good for a dollar and God’s maybe someplace above that lazy ocean and sometimes, when I’m out there? I almost believe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh man, I love this piece so much. "his eyes looked like a jello salad" - fucking A. Awesome writing, T.

      Delete
    2. Oh man did this hit me in my Presbyterias. Home run of a piece.

      Delete
  35. It’s just a work-study job, minimum wage to wear a stupid armband and carry a walkie-talkie and a clipboard. You troll from dorm to dorm, up and down the stairs, the moldy polymer smell of curing concrete in a damp climate invading every piece of clothing you own. And check fire extinguishers. That’s bullshit work, you learn later. You learn it all from Barry. You’d been angling to get partnered up with him for months. Word is he gets why we’re really doing this job - not to verify the inspection certificates of fire equipment, but to be visible in places where potential trouble could go down. He’s been awarded citations for ferreting out minor criminals. How he knows to be in these places is something you don’t want to think about but secretly fascinates you. So does the idea of a four-hour shift with Barry, who has blue eyes and black hair and a smile that could set off all the fire alarms on campus. The luck of the roll finally partners you, and for the first half-hour, your mouth is not able to form words, except for eye-rolling little grunts as you shake a fire extinguisher and he makes a notation on the clipboard. You’re halfway through the first building when he knocks on a door.

    “We’re not supposed to be…”

    He flashes you a calm-down smile and you’re ready to do whatever he says. “Gotta make sure these parties are legit, you know?”

    Any minute, you think you’ll get caught. But nothing happens. He shows you exactly how much beer you can get away with drinking, how much pot, when to tuck away your armbands, what to fudge on the time sheet, how you’ll cover up the various evidence before you return to dispatch. It’s so easy that you forget you could lose your job, so easy that you let him stop at another door at a different building, then another. Three hours into your shift, you’re sipping your ration of beer at a party when Barry pulls an older guy out from a back room by the collar.

    The next day, the two of you are awarded a citation for busting a drug dealer. He breaks out his fire alarm smile for the newspaper, and as the two of you are walking across campus, you dredge up the nerve to ask him what happened. He leans so close to your ear you think he might kiss you. “Can’t have the townies undercutting me.” He slips a plastic bag into your pocket and says, “Nice working with you. Maybe we’ll get to do it again.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, you're KILLING today. This piece is so good. I want more of it. MORE!

      Delete
    2. Nice little slice of good campus cop bad campus cop. Enjoyable reading.

      Delete
  36. Her name was Tiffany, and you always thought that was a stupid ass white girl name - you were right. Who the fuck names their kid Tiffany? Sounds like a cross between a girl scout and a stripper. Fucking Tiffany. She'd have kept her mouth shut, it wouldn't have been an issue. She wasn't good at keeping her mouth shut.

    You were slapping the top of your head, new cornrows - man, that shit itched. Tight. You looked over and saw her giggling, poking her friend in the elbow. Her friend was probably named Claire or Betty.

    She looked at you, eyes getting wide at your approach. It was a little funny, but you didn't laugh. She was straight frozen. Couldn't move. And you leaned down close to whisper in her ear. All eyes on you. Felt good.

    You told her where her boyfriend's birthmark was and she went even whiter. You laughed as you walked away, throwing words over your shoulder.

    "See, Buffy? We have more in common than you'd think."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Buffy, Tiffany, Saltine... a rose by any other name ... Good stuff Dan

      Delete
  37. I stood on the porch just after dawn and a lone goose, silent, with gentle flicks of his great gray wings, glided directly over my head, descending in a flat angle toward the empty surface of the pond beyond the pines.

    It troubled me to spy this lost piece of a greater puzzle, this misplaced symbol of the power of one in many and many as one.

    I wondered if he thought he saw the image of an approaching comrade upon the mirror of water, before he shattered its glassy calm into hundreds of spreading circles, each containing diamond pieces of that figure.

    The sun now fully risen, I left him to his rest and returned inside, where I passed the framed photo on the wall of Sharon—the smiling portrait from before she got sick.

    And there upon its glass I noticed the reflection of my face—my cheek to hers—and I said, “Good morning, babe,” and didn’t feel so lonely anymore, at least for that day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the pastoral pathos of this piece, Joe. Really simple and beautiful prose.

      Delete
    2. The imagery ties together a beautifully sad story of loss and acceptance. Touching piece.

      Delete
  38. Brian Segersen was not, really, a nice guy. Intelligent, yes, fairly. Easy on the eyes, definitely; a lean, fit young man standing six foot two, who usually left his straight blond hair shaggy enough to obscure his eyes. That and his shabby-retro fashion sense, faded holey boot-cut jeans and metal band shirts, made him look, despite being born in the early 2000s, like an archetypal 70s stoner rock dude. To the occasional dismay of some of his friends, he also had the aggressive attitude. The penchant for drinking heavily, smoking cigarettes, and picking fights: “The fuck are you lookin’ at? Ya fuckin’ queer. Take a hike, faggot, before I kick your fuckin’ face in.”

    His damage did make a lot of sense, though, to those who knew what his background was like. Like his pal Tim, Brian was more or less trailer park trash. They both grew up in working class households that perpetually verged on impoverished, and were raised by people who drank heavily and abused drugs. To his benefit, the trailer park Brian grew up in was in the suburbs some twenty miles from Vancouver, British Columbia, where his parents mostly collected benefits and did odd jobs for their liquor and drugs. To his detriment, where Tim’s parents used methamphetamine mainly to bolster their productivity at work and stave off depression, Brian’s mostly drank to try and drown their demons, but often wound up taking it out on him.

    Brian rarely spoke about the abuse he endured as a child. Not because the memories were so painful, but because he didn’t like to portray himself as a victim. He learned from a young age that he lived in an almost-literally dog-eat-dog world, and the last thing he needed was to be pitied. Pity wouldn’t fill his stomach, line his pockets, get him wasted, or suck his dick. He’d rather be a victimizer than a victim, any day you care to name.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Edgy character study made totally real in the context and back story. All accomplished in three paragraphs. Very impressive, very strong.

      Delete
  39. "I don't want to play with them anymore, Mom." Deborah tightly wrapped her five year old body within the dusty material of the drapes. "They say, I'm a thief, and I'm dirty." The thickness muffled her voice, but couldn't smother the sound of her weeping. "I never take their things. I wash myself hard, every night, but the color never comes off."

    Jane paused, her motion frozen by the words. Where she was thinking to comfort a little girl suffering from a childhood misunderstanding, she was now lost for words at the implication of what she'd just heard. Was she jumping to conclusions? Was it possible that her little girl was facing her first taste of racism? Reaching for the drapes, she was surprised at the frantic struggle from the child. "Honey, come out. Let me talk to you."
    "No, don't touch me. The color will rub off on you. Then your friends won't play with you either."
    "Sweetie, come on out. I don't care about my friends. If they don't want to play with me, I'll find new friends who will. We'll find you new friends."
    Jane reached for the tiny hand clinging to the folds of the drapes, intertwinig their fingers. Long, trembling, thin white fingers, squeezed between plump, brown, damp with tears, baby ones. Bending over, she pressed her lips to them. A tradition of comfort, since the day Deborah was adopted and brought into the home. "You are a queen little Deborah and don't you ever forget that. Anyone who sees you differently is blind, mean and jealous."
    "I'm a queen, Mom?"
    "You will always be a queen. Those little girls are just jealous." She peeked behind the curtain and whispered. "They're too mean to even be princesses."
    Deborah giggled."And you don't care if I'm dirty?"
    "Only if you're covered in chocolate. Then I'll have to tickle you and lick your face all over."
    Pulling the little girl from her hiding place, Jane tickled the little girl until she fell to the floor and they rolled around laughing joyfully, trying to forget the hurt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Soft description of a hard life. The contrasts between the hater and that hated, or is that the fearful and the feared? The healing touch of real love. Top of your game stuff, Ey.

      Delete
  40. Charlie wondered what the fuck he was doing, hopping a freight train. It seemed like his best bet, at the time. He was sixteen, expelled from school for pulling a gun on a bully at his well-regarded high school in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. While he wasn’t criminally prosecuted, his father disowned him and kicked him out of the family home in Plano. He wasn’t too bothered about that: he virulently hated his father, and wasn’t a huge fan of his mother either. His conservative-libertarian Texan upbringing backfired in that way; he was raised to be stubbornly individualistic and self-reliant, and reckoned it was high time he started acting like a man and taking care of himself.

    So he gathered a rucksack full of his things and headed for the train station. He didn’t have nearly enough money to buy a train ticket anywhere more distant than Oklahoma City or Austin; maybe if he panhandled diligently and got lucky, New Orleans or St. Louis. But instead, he stowed away on a freight train headed west. Rufus, the scruffy looking mixed-race kid from Mississippi he met at the station, reckoned it would at least take them to Lubbock or Amarillo, and from there they could hop another train toward Albuquerque. Charlie was scared, being on his own with almost nothing, but the freedom of riding the rails was exhilarating.

    ReplyDelete
  41. After about five years, Tim was really starting to miss his brother, Terry. That whole time, he made a point of never coming back to the state of Nevada, because if he got picked up by the cops, they would probably send him to the same foster home, which he presumed was horrific. But as his eighteenth birthday neared, he decided enough was enough. He hatched a plan, and let all his friends know: he was going to take the bus to Reno and turn himself in, then once he was reunited with his brother, he’d call on them to help extract the Callahan boys.

    Tim wound up spending a brief stint in the Washoe County Jail, but since he was still legally a minor, he did ultimately get reunited with his brother: Terry had been living with some nice, straight-laced Methodists in northwestern Las Vegas. Even though Tim mostly grew up in Elko, it was a little weird to him, to think of people, especially such quiet, old-fashioned folks, actually living in Las Vegas. But it was the biggest city in Nevada, the greater metro area far outstripping the next biggest city, Reno, four hundred something miles north. So he wasn’t that surprised, on being reunited with his brother, that little Terry was a fairly typical suburban skater kid: he was on the honor roll at Arbor View High School, smoked ditch weed and drank PBR tall cans, and avoided cops like the plague.

    So he was already somewhat prepared to be liberated. Within days of Tim’s arrival, three of his friends from Oakland showed up to collect them. He endured a painfully boring eighteenth birthday with these herbs, but once he was legally an adult, he reckoned he had some legal and ethical right to claim custody of his younger brother. So when Jacob and Luanne pulled up in the stolen Ford Aerostar, late one Tuesday night, the Callahan boys quietly piled in and left. Once they were all in and heading back toward I-15, Tim handed his brother a pistol and said, “Welcome to the real world, kid.”

    ReplyDelete

Please leave comments. Good, bad or ugly. Especially ugly.