Friday, May 22, 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. 

There is a stain on the ceiling that looks exactly like your grandmother, a big amorphous blob. The stain also looks like a space shuttle - sometimes it look uncannily like a cartoon head. It all depends on the light, the night, the things you did which changed your sight. 

You take deep drags of a stale cigarette, and your mouth tastes like a warehouse. No matter. You bathe the stain in cumulus puffs. 

This is all you have, and that sounds sad, but it's enough. The stain can't love you, but at least it never leaves. It can't hold you on cold nights, but it never yells, never raises a hand. The stain doesn't care if you go to work, get laid, get paid - it doesn't give a fuck. 

As far as the stain is concerned, you can sleep all day.

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

245 comments:

  1. It was a ballsy move, on the part of the President, banning the Republican Party. Several influential Congressmen, and a couple of Supreme Court Justices, urged him to reconsider. He curtly dismissed them all, more or less the same way: “Whatever, fuck you. What are you gonna do about it, tough guy? You ain’t slick. I got all your dox on file. I will fuck your whole life up. Freeze your assets, air out all your dirty laundry, destroy your reputation. You can’t fuck with me on that, because I’m an honest man. Everyone already knows about my indiscretions, and they respect me for owning my shit. Whereas you’re a two-faced pigfucker and nobody will miss you if you disappear. Maybe you wonder what became of Senator Olson’s boy? You wanna go hang out with that snot-nosed little fuck? The setting is alright, but you’ll be wanting for oxygen.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not entirely sure where this went, but major props for language and accurate assessment of SCOTUS.

      Delete
    2. I like this piece a lot. Interesting concept. And the language is really strong and accurate (well, accurate within the context). If politicians were honest things would get real weird real quick.

      Delete
    3. I'm not sure if honest politicians scare me more than dishonest ones or not... both types are drunk on power, and this is a good piece to illustrate it.

      Delete
    4. I'm loving it! But not in a nice warm fuzzy way. In a kinda bring it on, mofos kinda way...

      Delete
    5. My feeling is the current president would do not only America but the world a favour if he banned the Republican party! lol

      Delete
    6. I think the Tea Party has a better chance of eliminating the Pubs but then this is a parallel universe, is it not?

      Delete
  2. Yep... sometimes we need those stains as anchors in our lives... well in, as always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't much to say. That his is a very relate-able, emotive piece. A good start to this week's 2minutes.

      Delete
    2. Love it. Love this line: "You bathe the stain in cumulus puffs."

      Delete
    3. Love the stain, how it doesn't care. Inanimate and proud :) Ace.

      Delete
    4. I loved the line Laurie loved.

      Delete
    5. JD, you're a weird guy. I love that about you. "As far as the stain is concerned you can sleep all day." You had me wanting to meet the stain.

      Delete
  3. Shortest #2minutesgo I've ever offered:

    "Engagement ring, worn once. $50 OBO."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you'd go 25 and I wasn't already married we'd have a deal.

      Delete
    2. LOL... for you, Ed, I'd give it to you for 25. I was playing with six word ficiton... the one that Hemingway allegedly wrote inspired me: For Sale: Baby's shoes, never worn.

      Delete
    3. I love the riffing off the Hemingway piece (whether he wrote it or not, I have always thought it was rad) - this is a really cool variation. Well played.

      Delete
    4. Tee Hee. It needs an infomercial. Next time Leland.

      Delete
  4. Nice one. My Grandmother did look like a space shuttle... Amazing imagery.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Forty-seven years she’d known him. Only twice had she seen him cry. Once, when he had to put his dog down. Once, when he was following the hearse that held his eldest son’s body.
    That funeral had been the end of him smiling, too. Did he think that her dreams for their son were worth less than his? That the planned grandchildren left smaller holes in her heart?
    They did not speak. Where once there was companionable silence, there were cold shoulders and echoes of what might have been. He smoked more; she drank more. Near the end, he could barely breathe, and she could barely stand.
    “Dr. Louis will see you now,” the receptionist’s voice said. He stood, pushed her wheelchair into the examination room, and wished he could light a cigarette. And she? She wondered what it would be like to see him cry the third time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, man. This is EPIC. I love it, Leland. The smoke/drank/breathe/stand is so good. And the ending is anticipated but still surprising. Perfectly constructed.

      Delete
    2. What they said. That last line packs one hell of a punch. So very good.

      Delete
    3. Gratitude for your kind words...

      Delete
    4. Wow. This is so good. What everyone said. Companionable silences, cold shoulders, echoes of what might have been - my favorite part.

      Delete
    5. I hope URK is good thank you so much.

      Delete
    6. I could see them Leland, through all of it. Sad.

      Delete
  6. There was something about Jeff that women just, how to put this ... Jeff couldn’t get laid in a brothel with a fist full of hundreds, okay? Its not that he was ugly, though he was not handsome either. Jeff was just Jeff. He was honest, clean, thrifty, brave, and whatever else went into good scout material. But sex appeal was not part of the boy scout oath. Jeff was not gay. As far as anyone knew, Jeff had no sexual preference at all. Jeff was virgin and no one batting for either team had any desired to change that status except perhaps Jeff. Poor Jeff.

    I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, I went to school with someone like that.” No, you didn’t. Jeff wasn’t metrosexual, he wasn’t androgynous in appearance. He was just Jeff, and Jeff put out something like anti-pheromones till the very end. And beyond. Poor virginal Jeff

    They found Jeff in his bed, alone of course, after he had failed to come to work and his boss sent some poor slob by his place to check up on him. The coroners report had only two findings: One, he died of a congenital defect in the vessels which supplied blood to his brain. Two, although he had passed away days before being found there was no insect larvae present in his body. That’s right, even female flies wouldn’t land on Jeff’s rotting corpse. Poor dead Jeff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. awwww... poor dead virginal Jeff... fun concept, well executed. The story, I mean, not Jeff... not that he was executed.

      Delete
    2. I like the return/echo to poor Jeff a LOT. This is a cool piece. Love this: "Jeff was virgin and no one batting for either team had any desired to change that status except perhaps Jeff. Poor Jeff." Agree with L, cool concept and really well done.

      Delete
    3. Aw, Poor Jeff. Love the concept, and the motif.

      Delete
    4. Yes, I was going for a cows with guns kind of vibe, thanks. :D

      Delete
    5. Ha, it's really darkly comic! And the flies!!!!! :)

      Delete
    6. Ouch! Black comedy, sure, but also massively lonesome. :(

      Delete
    7. I LOVED this as I do anything that makes me laugh out loud. Just wonderful.

      Delete
  7. Life's not static. Life is not unkind. It's not that simple, even in your simple mind. Life is a huckster's last stance, you bluff and bluff and try to blow the house down. Everyone has a different house in mind, but the idea remains the same. Life is a spastic eight year old, ready to throw a rock or save a drowning kitten. Ready for anything. Game.

    You are not a player on a stage. Don't believe that old bullshit from English class. The world ain't a stage and no one tells you what you "merely" can be. That's some bullshit. You can be what you want - as long as what you want is the shadow of chaos. Because that's all we can guarantee you.

    Your thicker skin application has been processed. They will begin the grafting process soon, but you'll feel uncomfortable in it - even if it is "yours."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know I love the MaderRap(™) style, but this phrase is more awesome than the rest, I think: "in the shadow of chaos." Beautiful.

      Delete
    2. "Life is a huckster's last stance, you bluff and bluff and try to blow the house down." Its like a zen thing, this writing of yours.

      Delete
    3. "Your thicker skin application has been processed." LOVE it. All of it.

      Delete
    4. Ditto on the rap. Fave line - It's not that simple, even in your simple mind.
      Fab.

      Delete
    5. "You can be what you want - as long as what you want is the shadow of chaos." The light's dying yet the birds are still singing here, and this line keeps echoing inside my empty head.

      Delete
  8. She’s waited for this day for a long time. To hear his voice again. To see his face light up with joy. To feel that giddy rush that she hasn’t felt in far too long.

    She’s counted down the days—not the 281 days since last she saw him, but each of the forty days since she found out when she’d see him again. As today drew nearer, she began to cross the days off on the calendar. As big red Xs filled the page, her heart began to soar, and now it is floating somewhere high above the Earth, circling around with cosmic dust and broken satellites.

    She dresses with care, choosing and discarding outfit after outfit until her room looks like a department store exploded inside of it. She doesn’t care; the end is justified by the means. She chooses just the right earrings and necklace, paints her eyes and mouth. Smiles at the result.

    The time has come. She drives downtown to her rendezvous. She hadn’t thought her heart could beat any faster, but it does, a violent hummingbird trapped in the cage of her chest. Her hands have gone cold with the thrill of anticipation.

    She makes her way inside and waits. She’s down to counting minutes, but they seem to drag by more slowly the days did. Her attention is torn between watching for him and watching the clock on her phone; there is none left to spare for the other people around her, or even for the angry hummingbird that is her adrenaline-drugged heart.

    Finally, finally, she sees him. He’s hard to miss, since he’s up on the stage, spotlights shining on him, soaked up by the leather of his jacket and glinting off the shiny finish of his Les Paul. Around her, the crowd cheers, the sound nearly deafening, but for her, there is only him, only her, only this long-awaited moment.

    He strikes the first chord, sings the first note, and the wait is over. She closes her eyes in ecstasy and lets the music wash away the past 281 days: every ounce of pain and disappointment, all the loss and hard times, each early morning and long night, and—most of all—the heartache. His music transports her, as only his music can, and for a short while, she is free, she is safe, she is home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beautiful building of suspense and hope and despair, and you took it in a totally different direction than I was guessing, and it made me smile. Well done. And thank God for musicians.

      Delete
    2. You write about music like you are playing music with the written word. Beautiful to read.

      Delete
    3. Ed, I think that may be the best compliment I've ever received on my writing. Thank you so much.

      And thank you, too, Leland. And yes, thank God for musicians. <3

      Delete
    4. Oh, so nice. I was with you all the way. Love the hummingbird heart and the anticipation building.

      Delete
    5. Agreed all around. The three images that grabbed me hard were the hummingbird, the exploded department store, and the broken satellites. Dope piece.

      Delete
    6. Strumming my pain with his fingers...singing my life with his song.
      Killing me softly with his song....
      Your piece made me finally figure out what she meant...

      Delete
    7. It's lovely. She looks forward and dresses so carefully for a personal date, you think, and it's with music. Not personal but even more so.

      Delete
    8. Teresa! Nailed it. Because first Laura nailed it. :)

      Delete
  9. He sits alone in the dark, the fireworks glow of the TV on his weathered face. Old Tony watches the 2:00 AM programma on the Italian language cable channel. Nancy always hated waking to that green light and his fidgeting when he watched in bed.

    She never learned Italian. Never ever even thought to like soccer, even though Tony learned English and about stupido gladiatorial American football for her.

    Just before dawn he thinks for the thousandth time of his Mama's visit and how the ancient pensionata stayed up all night to play cards with Nancy, even though neither had any idea what the other was saying.

    Tony remembers smiling at how their loud and pained attempts at communication woke him. Once they became so quiet he stumbled from bed and looked in on them as his Mama sounded like she was struggling to explain something about what sound like a recipe for crayfish.

    “Si, Mama. Yes, il cancro,” Big Nancy nodded and repeated. Then Mama crossed herself and Nancy wiped a hand across her eyes.

    Tony turns off the cooking show and heads to bed. Cancro fra diavolo,dammit. Devil's crayfish. Why couldn't Nancy tell him? It didn't even have to be in English.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my gosh... it took a few minutes after the end of the story for me to realize what this was about.... the fact that you held my attention beyond the last word tells you how good the writing is... and then BLAM when it popped into my head, you got me in the feels. Nice time-delayed response. Good story.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Leland. Sometimes I get too cute for my own good. Maybe I can make this work better in some revision...if I ever learn to revise. 😉

      Delete
    3. nooooo... I LIKE feeling those responses... It's like when I saw the movie The Sixth Sense on opening day, and though, huh, what's the big deal.... and then three days later I sat up in bed and thought, THAT"S WHAT I SHOULD HAVE NOTICED.

      Delete
    4. Great feeling and scene setting. I felt the characters like I'd been part of la familia.

      Delete
    5. Yup. Totally agree. Man, revision or no revision, you kill it every time. Such complex writing, but it doesn't read stiff. Really enjoy your stuff, Joe.

      Delete
    6. Ditto. It makes you think too. I wasn't sure if he'd eaten the crayfish or her. I'm still not sure :)

      Delete
    7. Wow. Yes. Aside from the slowburn that hits you later, the deft use of tense is a standout.

      Delete
  10. He was born in the shadow of a mountain; he was raised in the shadow of a man. He vowed never to leave the sunlight when he left this place. When the time was right, he moved to the city, went to school, got drunk, made love, got a job, and got fat. He grew old in the shadows of the city.
    He wondered about his father, and the mountain, and returned. Wyoming was a lifetime ago.
    The skeleton he found in the bed, in the house, in the shadow of the mountain, had no stories left to tell. He never went back to the city. Better to grow old in the shadow of a mountain, than to become a shadow of a man.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That first sentence is poetry and a story in its own right, Leland.

      Delete
    2. What Joseph said. Love this piece.

      Delete
    3. I think that first sentence may be used again... I love it, not so much the rest of the story. thanks for the kind words!

      Delete
    4. Yes, that first sentence is awesome. Powerful image and poetic back story combined.

      Delete
    5. Yup, agree with Joe. Making me write another song, are ya? You and I should move to Nashville.

      Delete
    6. You get me to Nashville, and we've got it made... Angelo got a fan letter from Dolly Parton... Thanks so much! (and I LOVE your songs, JD, so yeah!)

      Delete
    7. Perfect.
      I went to Nashville last year. Loved it.

      Delete
    8. This is like an incantation. Feels elemental to me. The whole piece, not just the first sentence.

      Delete
  11. “She’s been scribbling away on a sheet of paper she’s been hiding from us for three days now, Doctor, and even after I take the pencil away from her, she finds another somewhere,” Nurse Cindy Nichols said.

    Dr. Warren Fulbert tapped away at his tablet, scanning Eloise Silverman’s charts for the recent history of her latest regime of medications, therapies, diet and behavioral analyses. He said, “Everything seems the same as it’s been since she was committed before her trial, Cindy, so get her a crayon, five milligrams of Haloperidol IM, and let’s keep a close eye on her so she doesn’t hurt herself or cut up someone else's…oh, and bring me that drawing or whatever it is.”

    “She’s due for group in a few minutes, so we’ll flip the room and get her a new sheet of paper and crayon while she’s down in therapy,” Nurse Nichols said.

    After rounds, Dr. Fulbert returned to his office, where he found a gray sheet of paper on his desk. Attached to it was a sticky note from Cindy Nichols.

    That’s when Fulbert looked closer at the paper and realized it wasn’t merely shaded gray, but rather was covered edge to edge in the same sentence, written hundreds and hundreds of times, one atop the other. They all said, "My darling Peter, why won’t you come?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You conveyed a deeply sad and insightful story in just the last two lines. Well done.

      Delete
    2. Oh, man. I like this piece a lot. It's so solid and then that last line. The image. I knew it wasn't going to be just grey, but this one ends with a thump to the heart, brother.

      Delete
    3. I like it, a lot. And I want the rest of the story.... thank you!

      Delete
  12. Everyone came to Adam for advice. He was that kind of person. He’d been an orderly since the hospital opened its doors, but everyone knew that one day he would be accepted to the medical school high on the hill above. He was too bright, too driven, and too sincere for them to not see the doctor he would become someday. But alas, he was also getting too old. Adam was in the middle of his thirties and despite awesome MCAT scores, he had applied twice before only to be turned down. Working on his third or fourth college degree, Adam worked as an orderly to pay for school and to show the interview panels his dedication to medicine.

    Being the new kid, who never worked in an acute care facility before, I naturally sought Adam’s advice on the thing that frightened me most. Codes or cardiac arrests. It was our job to respond to all codes both on the floors, in the units, and the emergency wing. We were only there to provide chest compressions and though I was CPR certified there is quite a difference between performing on a doll in a class and a human being in front of doctors and nurses.

    Adam simplified things for me in his own succinct way. Afterwords, I could make sense of any situation I walked into. Any chaotic scene which involved an ambubag, heart monitor, and endotracheal tube.

    “Look, it’s like jump starting your car,” Adam explained. “First you use the jumper cables, then if it won’t start you check the fluids. Got gas? Check that, add some if needed, and try jump starting it again. Still not starting, check more fluids and top off anything that low. If after checking everything out and fixing the obvious causes the car still doesn’t start its a goner. Got it?”

    The next code I attended I pretty much understood every blood gas order, every IV medication, and defibrullation . Adam would have made a great doc. Maybe that’s why after nearly a decade of trying to get into med school, he went into the financial sector and made a killing. His clients? Oh they are mostly doctors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love Adam's explanation of codes/CPR. Great stuff. :)

      Delete
    2. This is a really interesting piece and I love the car analogy. I feel like this is bigger. Or maybe I just want to read more. Awesome.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, I liked that bit a lot about the gas and the fluids. It's funny. Also funny and how true that he left to get a job that paid more!

      Delete
    4. I want to read more, too... and I want to know Adam.

      Delete
    5. Adam had a way about him. Natural teacher that guy.

      Delete
  13. Hang around Emergency Rooms enough and you get an infection which is hard to cure. The infectious disease is sometimes called gallows humor, but in the advanced stages (Tertiary GH) the affliction turns into a kind of acid test for inappropriate commentitis - the afflicted party blurts out the first thought in a sick mind which only equally sick minds find funny. Another aspect of most urban ERs on a Saturday night is the proverbial foreign body stuck where it was difficult to visualize without an x-ray. Some were too dangerous to remove and resulted in an immediate trip to the OR. Champlain glasses were almost a cliche by now. Boringly common and the fast trip from X-Ray to OR made them the fodder jokes in poor taste by another department.

    Around 11 pm a young man presented with a FB up the gateway to the colon which proved exceedingly difficult to remove. Several different nurses and the proverbial doc-in-a-box (Resident on duty) had a go at getting the slippery object out, but its shape and the enthusiastic use of lubricant previously had made removal problematic. It was a vibrator designed for travel primarily in the up direction. The night nurse arrived at 23:30 and after getting report on the patient in triage bay two went to have a go at removing the anal missile.

    “Okay,” Said the veteran medic turned nurse, “so do you want us to remove it, or just change the batteries.” With a slap of the glove and the deft skill of someone quite rehearsed in the procedure he removed the device much like a street magician might pull a coin from a child’s ear. The applause was deafening.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is sheer brilliance --"The infectious disease is sometimes called gallows humor, but in the advanced stages (Tertiary GH) the affliction turns into a kind of acid test for inappropriate commentitis - the afflicted party blurts out the first thought in a sick mind which only equally sick minds find funny."

      I find this entire vignette highly amusing. Well told.

      Delete
    2. Yup, Love this one. For some reason the 23:30 just rocketed me into the ER. Good pace and humor. I want more hospital stories. And I never, ever, ever want to work in an ER. ;)

      Delete
  14. Apologies for the length. Just couldn't stop. And my timer broke. Yeah. That's it.

    ---------


    She wondered where the water was coming from. It hadn’t rained in weeks, the town had banned the burning of yard waste and drought warnings threatened, yet a trickle of runoff burbled its way down the culvert ditch that cut beneath the base of her driveway. Her mouth tightened, and she stuffed the day’s mail back into her box and decided to head upstream. The water gurgled, cutting over the remains of winter grit and the thin grasses brave enough to sprout in the dip alongside the road. She passed house after house—no activity, no lawn-watering, no car-washing, nothing to indicate an unnatural stress upon their aquifer. But as she climbed the hill, beyond the empty Cape Cods and redbrick boxes and by-the-numbers McMansions, the trickle became a stream and the rush of the water grew louder.

    The only house left before the dead-end was the Patterson’s colonial, and as far as she knew, Dr. P was on sabbatical and had taken the family to some country she couldn’t pronounce on an archeological expedition. That was definitely water she heard, though, as she approached the property. And a bottle-green VW bug she’d never seen before sat in the driveway. A housesitter? What the hell? Mrs. P didn’t believe in them, wouldn’t trust a soul with her precious Hummels and Danish modern furniture and Baccarat crystal. She didn’t even let anyone take in her mail.

    “Hello?” she called out, thumping on the front door, but the rush of water was coming from beyond the house. She followed, inching through the not-as-tidy-as-usual grass. And then she saw it. The giant, inflatable pool. The garden hose, which apparently had been employed to fill it, had slipped out and was now turning the side yard into a swamp.

    She huffed and stabbed her fists into her hips when she saw the apparent owner of the Bug, apparently asleep on a floaty chair in the middle of the outsized kiddie pool, wearing only boxers and a contented smile. The waste infuriated her, plus the fact he was the kind of man who was so model-gorgeous that he probably felt the world owed him, him and that designed-to-be-devilish curl that fell into his eyes. Her sneakers slipped and sucked mud and soggy turf as she dashed to the side of the house to turn off the faucet, but then had another idea. She grabbed the hose and aimed it straight at the man’s six-pack. He only managed a wide-eyed gasp before capsizing his SS Minnow, and came up sputtering while she twisted the nozzle tip closed.

    “What the hell, lady?” Now standing in belt-high water, he shook his loose brown curls like a dog.

    “Drought,” she snapped. “Climate change. Waste. Do those terms mean anything to you?”

    “They should. I’ve been working the last three days putting out that wildfire up on the ridge.”

    “You’re…”

    “Yep. Firefighter. They called us up from Connecticut to help. My uncle said I could crash here between shifts. Was filling up the pool, guess I fell asleep.” He yawned, then gave her a slow once-over. “Hey. You look like you could use a dip, douse some of them flames shooting out your eyes.”

    She readied the nozzle at him. He held up his hands. “Kidding. Jeez. I’m sorry. I should have been more careful.”

    “How’s the fire?” she asked, dropping the fist clutching the nozzle to her side.

    “Mostly out.”

    “Thank you.”

    His smile picked up speed but flagged when she narrowed her eyes at him. “Hey. Didn’t mean any harm. I’m just saying, hot day, pool full of water, and Uncle P has the makings for a pitcher of kick-ass margaritas. It’s not every day I meet such a cute environmentalist.”

    She aimed the nozzle at him; he cringed and covered his face. When she didn’t shoot, he lowered his hands.

    “Is it cold?” she asked.

    “Your reception? A bit frosty, yeah. Maybe you want to work on that.”

    “I meant the water.”

    When he grinned, a little more humbly than before, she turned off the faucet and kicked off her shoes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If a broken timer means we get fiction like this, I'm mailing you a hammer to make sure that timer is never fixed... well done... and now I want DETAILED descriptions of Mr. Firefighter.... and exactly WHERE his secret tattoo is... this is good stuff. And this phrase "the empty Cape Cods and redbrick boxes and by-the-numbers McMansions" describes the whole neighborhood perfectly... absolutely perfect.

      Delete
    2. Beautiful descriptions, as usual, but what I love is the gentle reminder to not jump to conclusions. :) xo

      Delete
    3. This is awesome. I agree with Laura. You build that outrage and deflate it so perfectly. And they should use this sentence to teach people how to write: "The water gurgled, cutting over the remains of winter grit and the thin grasses brave enough to sprout in the dip alongside the road."

      Delete
    4. Love it. Great descriptive prose as always along with a deep sense of compassionate pragmatism.

      Delete
    5. What they said. Evocative! I'm WAAY too tired for further words...

      Delete
  15. When you tell people your hometown is called Desolation, you get one of two responses. The folks from out of state wonder why anyone would name their town such a thing, and the other folks, the folks from Texas, give you a long look of pity, because they know why.
    You want to explain, that even in a place so named, there can be a little hope, at least in the scant hours between promises made and promises broken. You want to tell them about the tree, the only tree for miles around, the tree that grows on the grave of Boots Lonagan. But you don’t tell them, because they wouldn’t believe. They wouldn’t believe a story with such honesty, with such pain, with such remorse, with such redemption.
    You hold the image of that tree in your mind. You remember the story your daddy told you, and his daddy told him, about a cowboy loner who walked into town and bought a glass of whiskey and fell in love. You remember imagining the shootout just as you heard the story, about how they had one night together, and how a jealous man killed Boots the next morning.
    And you remember your duty, to water the tree, the tree that grows on the grave of your great-granddaddy, Boots Lonagan, and to tell the story to your son when you have a son.
    Desolation, Texas. A town with at least one heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. GREAT closing. This: "...a cowboy loner who walked into town and bought a glass of whiskey and fell in love." is so good. Reminds me why I like westerns.

      Delete
    2. As a country boy at heart who grew up near a town called "Friend" I find this piece totally struck a chord.

      Delete
    3. Oh...this is so good. And the close. That kills me. (BTW, I grew up in Hopewell.)

      Delete
    4. Friend. Hopewell. Nice, uplifting names... no wonder you are so wonderful! thanks kindly for encouraging words.

      Delete
    5. Perfect again with your full-circle endings. You're on a roll today :)

      Delete
    6. We have towns here in BC named Hope and Merritt. Everyone says "Beyond Hope and past all Merritt." So yeah. :)

      Delete
  16. The card-catalog rolodex search engine in your brain wants answers, but in your heart you know there are none, just a sad old man who wishes you’d never found out he wasn’t perfect. Wishes you’d never found out about the women and the money and the lies he told. Better or worse, you’d promised all those years ago, but you were too young to know any better, and of course by then those you loved had probably lied to you, probably weren’t the people you thought they were, but you were more resilient then, or it mattered less to you, and you were dewy and optimistic enough to bounce back from that. Not now. Now you are brittle and your mind wants to make neat piles of things, connections. A points to B points to C and therefore D. You are both the same age, so why did this thing happen to your brain and not his? Why did yours demand more black and white and his slouch toward shades of gray? You’ll craft a study, perhaps, formulate some hypothesis and design an experiment, what happens in the brains of male and female mates over time, over lies, over disappointments and disillusionment and disaster? Will it change anything to have what you already know proven out? Probably not. So you share the same coffee you’ve been having for the last forty years and construct a new experiment, one of forgiveness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good grief, you write beautifully... and you give hope as an answer to the question of despair... thank you.

      Delete
    2. Agreed. This is a sad, real, and beautiful piece of writing, Boris. Which, to my mind, makes it about perfect.

      Delete
    3. "The card-catalog rolodex search engine in your brain wants answers" if that isn't straight out of neuro-psychology text books, they need better books.

      Delete
    4. Awesome Piece! Given my week? I may need to tell you a private story.. :)

      Delete
    5. Gorgeous and resonant. Pretentious as that sounds. lol

      Delete
  17. SAVAGE CREATURES

    He turned the tap and stared at the rushing current washing over his bloody hands, then into the sink where spidery red inked the porcelain like the Rorschachs Dr. Martinson would lay before him. “What do you see here? What comes to mind? What do these ink figures signify?” And Forrest would squint his eyes out of focus, seriously looking for whatever secrets hid behind the innocent stains beyond the obvious butterflies, frogs, galloping horses. “A butterfly,” he told Martinson. “A frog. A galloping horse,” to which the psychiatrist frowned. With an exasperated hand he swept back the long-gone hair on his bald head, removed his eyeglasses, blew fog into them and dried each lens with his monogrammed handkerchief.

    Richard Forrest noted it all. Details. I may be crazy, he thought, but I am not stupid. I see it all. All your degrees. Your medical volumes. Your presumptuous claim that you can put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Oh, you egotistical fool! Let the fallen lie.

    “We need to reach the root of ––”

    Forrest nodded. Almost inaudibly he said, “I know.” But it wasn’t easy diving into oneself, knowing rock bottom was not calm waters but tumultuous whirlpools infested with savage creatures gnashing razor teeth. Creatures that could and would exact a deserved punishment by tearing a madman apart.

    The sink was clean again. Not even a scintilla of red or pink or eggshell white. Clean again. Clean again. His hands too. Mary Beth’s blood lodged under his finger nails, in the furrows of his palms, up and down the shafts of blond hair that rose along his brawny arms like high stalks of grain –– all washed clean.

    “And this?” asked Martinson. Not another of those ink-spot mind benders, Forrest thought, but a black and white photo of his teen neighbor Mary Beth’s mutilated body. “What do you see here, Richard?”

    Richard Forrest did not avert his eyes from what he regarded his handiwork. Like a zombie he stared unblinkingly at the artistic way he arranged Mary Beth inside the shallow grave he had dug. Her hair, a diadem of spokes radiating from her crushed head. Those blue eyes that pled for mercy. The begging words he saved in his derangement, now swallowed by the late winter wind.

    Forrest smiled now in remembering her alive. “I liked her. Believe that? But I heard… I heard the voice again. My calling, you know. Art imitating death imitating art. That inner voice driving me to create.”

    “Commanding you to kill?”

    He felt the reminiscent tingle buzz through him. In a manic rush he mentally arranged the sculpture, the layout of dominant color, the facial horror, the spurt of last words spilling out in blood.

    He leaped from his chair, extracted from the scabbard strapped to his thigh that same hunting knife with which he brutalized the girl next door, and in one blurred advance buried the blade through Martinson’s throat.

    “What do I see, Doctor? A field of white daisies. A bright yellow sun.“

    He withdrew the blade and relished the gushing blood warming his upturned face. Laughter shook the laboratory walls.

    “It’s spring again.”


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deliciously dark piece. Totally got lost in it and longing to read the next 800 pages...

      Delete
    2. Wow, Sal. Damn. This is so, so good. So many incredible images. Painting. I'm kind of at a loss for words. It's so good, I'll stick to the one thing I might revisit. The end violence. I don't know. But the dialogue after is so good, I'd hate to see it go. You absolutely nailed this one. The thing that sticks out amongst the gorgeous imagergy? “What do you see here? What comes to mind? What do these ink figures signify?” - the rhytmn of that line - perfect.

      Delete
    3. Love, love, this so much. And try as I might, crafted as this is, I can't find the seams.

      Delete
  18. The prodigal dreams you put away as a nine-year-old have come back. Fuller, deeper, brighter colors than they had some fifty years ago. You can feel their texture. Horse muscles rippling under your hands. A hoped-for first kiss. Sunset on a prairie. Dandelion wishes floating on kaleidoscope air. A hand holding, being held by yours. Whispers of in sickness and in health.
    What is the sweet old lady saying? Something about Al. Altz. Old Timer’s. You close your eyes and you dream her young and you ride off together into a Utah sunset with tomorrows all in orange spread out in front of you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beautifully described paradox of a sad, sad aspect of aging.

      Delete
    2. Yep, beautiful imagery, Leland. I really like the idea of prodigal dreams, too. Really solid, brother.

      Delete
    3. Sad, lovely, and maybe should be a poem?

      Delete
  19. "Come on, Roger. I just needs a bit of earth from the minister's site. Won't take but a moment to bag it and go." He slapped two gold pieces down on the table between them. The old man who kept night watch at the Three Sisters Cemetary had a snug little shack, and the two men were seated at his tiny table dickering.

    "I dunno, Clancy," the old man replied. "What are ye going to do with summat like that? Feels evil to me."

    "Not evil, just business. You know I sell it to thems what ask fer it. They pay good, too." He pointed at the gold. "There's yer proof o' that."

    The sound of a bell chimed clearly in the night in spite of the wispy fog hanging over the grounds.

    "You'll have to wait," the old man told him. "We got us another dead ringer out there. Gonna have to find 'im and dig 'im up afore his head goes sour."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice, the image of a 'dead ringer' brought (forgive me) to life vividly. Brilliant.

      Delete
    2. I like everything about this piece, but I'm especially impressed with the dialogue. It works so well, and it's hard to pull off - you nailed it. Really brilliant piece.

      Delete
    3. Ditto. *is a dittohead* :)

      Delete
    4. "Watch were you are throwing all the dirt Herbert!" The young man dodge the shovel blade and ducked the dirt flying over his head.

      "Keep your voice down, you fool" The older of the two young men hissed through clenched teeth as he threw another shovel full of dirt out of the grave. Another step on his blade and Herbert heard the familiar thump of pine."Hurry up and get the pry bar Sean and be quite about it."

      Sean clambered up the ladder and rummaged through the roll of tools to get the pry bar. He turned to hand the bar down to Herbert and stopped in his tracks at the sound of a bell.

      "I told you quietly..."Herbert hissed again trying to be quite but get his point across. Herbert reached up and grabbed the lower end of the bar, pulling Sean closer to the edge.

      "Wasn't me......I didn't even know there were bells here......we gotta go....."Seans' voice was cracking as the tremors began to set in.The lantern light did not give much light in the fog and the moon was hiding among the clouds.

      Delete
  20. Size eighteen wedding gown, never worn.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Free: Nearly new hangman's noose.

    (HA! five words!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm tempted to advert : Free: My ass!
      and say, "Ha Ha, three words."
      at this point...

      Delete
  22. I don't want to put my hand in there. Why the hell would I want to put my hand in there? I don't give two shits about your natural history and your stuffed bobcats and your interactive exhibits - shit's filthy - like I'm gonna put my hand in it...

    Don't give me that look. I told you before we left I didn't want to go. I like my animals moving. I don't want to see a monument to man's selfish legacy - and I don't want to get scabies just to find out what it "would really feel like."

    I'll just wait outside. There's birds out there that fly. They explode into the air in spray-paint blasts. They tear the sky with their song. Why the hell would I want to see a stuffed condor? No, you stay. I'm going to go huff some DDT in the parking lot. Fair's fair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I don't want to see a monument to man's selfish legacy - and I don't want to get scabies just to find out what it "would really feel like." Brilliant! There are so many examples of such moments around us, by giving a more blatant example you've got me thinking of all the more subtle selfish legacies that are worshiped by the greedy and the powerful. Lots of dimensions to this piece, you're like a sip of ethos concentrate.

      Delete
    2. A beautiful and brutal juxtaposition of living and dead... Favorite line: They tear the sky with their song.

      Delete
    3. Love the birds exploding in the air in blasts of colour.
      It's very funny - you wonder where he won't put his hand.
      And then there's the deeper meaning. Preservation for what?

      Delete
    4. I like the contrast between the speaker and the companion, and the obvious differences in viewpoint concerning fauna. This hints that the companion is a "green liberal" and the speaker is not are very subtle to one who has suffered similar conversations.

      Delete
    5. Got a weird Norman Bates hit off of this. And yeah, "tear the sky with their song" is gorgeous.

      Delete
  23. A new beginning! Invitation only.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Drop the A and you're down to FOUR words! a new record!

      Delete
    2. Check. Revision: New beginnings! Invitation only. ;)

      Delete
  24. Yo, Moms got the fucking steaks, alright? Show some fucking respect, hermanito. You never change. It's always a competition. My steak will be bigger than yours. And I'll offer to switch and you'll consider - naw, cause yours is cooked better. Life is so hard, hermanito. Pobrecito.

    And what did you bring? Another fucking potato salad and another flaca whore with too much make-up who has no business making a baked potato let alone potato salad. I know you brought a case of beer, but you'll drink them all. Big man.

    You could step outside to smoke your mota. But you won't. Because you like it. The 'ay, dios mio' and head shake from a woman who's spent her hold life shaking that head for you. Straight miraculous that shit hasn't fallen off.

    Life's not fair, hermanito. It never has been. Never will be. And it was never about you and me.

    You've always been half right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Subtle use of the Spanish "little brother" for me set this piece in motion. In one word, you provide context and describe relationship. Sometimes, English is not enough.
      "...another flaca whore with too much make-up who has no business making a baked potato let alone potato salad." Again, the subtext as a headliner. You skillful describe la mujer as well as character describing her in one sentence. This kind of economy of words is admirable.

      Delete
    2. If you'd had a visit from your brother, same as I had a visit from MINE? This would be immortal!

      Delete
    3. I concur with Ed above. You stuff a lot of information into a few choice words.

      The irritation of the older sibling is so real it makes me glad I'm an only child!

      Delete
  25. Baron Ransome surveyed his creation proudly. "It's a Way," he declared. "A route for riders of WayCycles."

    His stooped man-servant nodded nervously, knowing what was going to come next. "I presume," he said. "I presume you wish me to demonstrate it. The WayCycle, I mean."

    "Of course." The Baron pushed him toward the large fizzing steam-powered unicycle. "I wouldn't think of asking anyone else. You live for adventure while I'm a more pedestrian type. In all manners of the word."

    Henderson eyed the contraption warily, feeling like a rock climber surveying a difficult overhang. The pistons were idling at the moment but would spring into a blur of motion when he pulled on the initiator levers. Where could he put his feet then? And how could he make his way up to the rider's saddle without burning his thighs on the copper barrel of the boiler?

    "Could I ask for some protective leathers, please?" he asked. "And maybe a tube of soothing unguent for later?"

    The Baron nodded, his grin almost splitting his face in two. “I anticipated your need,” he said, motioning toward a hanger bearing a suit made up from patched pieces of hide. “I had my own master tailor made this up for you. He estimated your sizes: I've no doubt he'll have got it right for you. He always manages to get my clothing right first time.”

    Henderson studied the riding suit for a few moments, drawing the fine leather between his fingers, gauging its thickness. “It'll make me look like I'm unclothed,” he quailed. “And it'll be so tight that I'll not be able to wear anything else beneath it.”

    “Well, it's just as well you're well equipped,” the Baron quipped. “There was never a man more suited for the role of man-servant. You never know, you might catch the eye of an eligible maiden. In more ways than one...”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Transported me right into the realm of secret avenger and his able companion, man Friday, and Jeeves all rolled into one. The Baron is made his best choice when he chose Henderson.

      Delete
    2. It's just pure fun. And steampunk offers so many opportunities for mad science and risque humour!

      Delete
    3. It is fun. I dig it. There's so much you could do with this world, too.

      Delete
    4. This IS fun... it's a genre I've not played with or read much of.... but I like the way you handle it!

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

    ReplyDelete
  27. Johnny Fung leaned back in the doorway, out of the cold drizzling rain, smoking another Marlboro 100. He would expect such impunctuality from the black guys in West Oakland, but he was a little disappointed that Toshio would do the same. Only a little, because he was raised to be wary of the vicious, underhanded Japs; his wizened, ancient great-grandfather still had scars from Japanese bayonets and bullets, and no shortage of horrifying stories of the atrocities they inflicted on his hometown, Nanjing, near the coast in eastern China.

    At least Toshio was only about twelve minutes late, when he approached the inexpensive Chinese restaurant, owned by Johnny’s uncle, Louie, carrying a briefcase, with a scruffy-looking white boy carrying another.

    ReplyDelete
  28. “So what’s up with this girl you’re seeing? What’s her name? Is she smart?”

    “Er, yeah, she’s smart.”

    “Is she on the honor roll?”

    “…. Yeah, she’s on the honor roll.”

    “Fuck yes! Well done son!”

    “Dad, please don’t put that stupid fucking bumper sticker on your car. I don’t even brag about my sex life myself, I don’t need you doing it for me.”

    “Are you kidding? I’ve been waiting for this since before you were born!”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My son didn't date your honor roll student - he beat a few f them up (in karate class).

      Delete
    2. This is why I should not have kids: I'd be way too keen to rock a "My kid had sex with your honor roll student" bumper sticker. I'm enough of a hippie to think that's way cooler than "my kid beat up your honor roll student." I mean, if your kid beat up my honor roll student, s/he's probably a little turd, and you're probably an even bigger turd. If your kid is fucking my honor roll student, maybe they actually like and care about each other.

      Delete
    3. I can relate. My effin' father... oh boy. Great dialog that tells a complete story as subtext.

      Delete
  29. I'm late to the party... 22.48pm here and I'm drifting, so here goes my brain when it's sweeping into sleepy...

    Ocean light

    This night is one I make, hear, lose. Emptied of my anger, the ocean carries me far. To play upon a lost star, the dark challenges. It conjured me here in the depths of my despair, oft emptied and stamped upon, until I can almost feel the souring blanket of sand envelop me, dragging me down into this endlessness where I can be nothing.

    These waves flicker at the edges of me, peeling back my skin, flaking in the wind blowing so chill, sweeping across my face like a lost bird.

    I ache here. My anger long faded, I ache still. The heart knows and my scars feel it. Ahead I can see it all. The dark blazes like the morning shine and so I am no longer lost. I creep inside myself, this knowing in the ending, the spiralling, the trickle of it all. And so I am small. And so I am sublime. In balance it will subside and the ocean will forever turn. In turning, I can too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Man, you have a way with words. This phrase "I ache here." hits like a sledgehammer. So good. After the intricacies that come before. Awesome piece, Vickie.

      Delete
    2. I agree with Dan M, its the little concise jabs like "the heart knows and my scars feel it." Just brilliant.

      Delete
  30. Time

    I can peel it back. Time, my old adversary. He who stagnates so solitary in the corners, idly studying me from beyond his web. The dusty, silken lengths hang the things in life that mattered. The items we lost and won, the ones we treasured so dearly until they lost their shine, outlasting their worth or meaning. Now and then it was boredom cutting them lose. I slink from the memory.

    He strays beneath the flickers of the lamp. Without seeing, I feel him, ever near, encroaching on the distance between us. Mindless. Cruel even. I wonder how long he will remain still. Can he be still?

    Something darts, my eye follows and the light disperses. I follow yet the thread spins with me, hooking on to my arms, all my limbs, tugging me back from my curious self. Laughter. It is he. I stagger, caught in the net, plagued by my belongings and the things I let slide; the people and ties I discarded on the endless journey to here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's like you have to read these pieces twice. Once for the meaning and once more just to enjoy the music in it. Wonderful.

      Delete
    2. You have a talent for making the abstract concrete and reality psychedelic. Great quality in a poet, that.

      Delete
  31. She stifled the urge to run full tilt down the promenade. That first layer of panic was pure embarrassment. The hyperventilating would come after – soon though, if she didn’t get hold of herself. When that happened it could end in only one of two ways: a seizure into a dead faint or an ugly hiccuping tear fest.

    Either was likely to shock anyone near enough and make her a target of sympathy on the touristy river boulevard. Hence the desire to run. Unfortunately she wasn’t dressed for aerobics. Besides this felt more like the beginnings of a sudser truth be told. It was her life story that she didn’t have any tissues handy either.

    Loneliness wasn’t an emotion she parked in unless someone showed a hint of kindness or said a tender word. Even then it had to be the right person. For some reason the writer had touched a nerve. THE nerve. The one that wrapped around inside and squeezed the organs lightly as a reminder before letting go.

    Perhaps she could make the hotel before everything felt apart but only if she changed the trajectory of her thoughts. Heel toe, heel toe, heel toe. What a world. Focusing on her feet actually helped.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is such a cool piece. You get swept up in it so quickly. And I LOVE this line: "Loneliness wasn’t an emotion she parked in unless someone showed a hint of kindness or said a tender word."

      Delete
    2. What Dan said and also the last paragraph is a great example of how grounded your writing in this piece is while at the same time communicating on multiple levels. A lot of moving parts in this piece.

      Delete
  32. Regrettably, I was declared brain dead at 2:15 this afternoon. Without my notice or conscious consent, I have successfully edited my brains out, snorted prose like cheap cocaine, shot up a million words, my drug of choice, until I fell,face down, in a shallow pool of things I could not say.
    And so I enter the silence, give my fate to my guardians. And float on the hope that their prayers or their choices will free me or leave me to heal.

    Or let me rise again.
    I am some burnt-out Bobbi Kristina, some sad-faced guy with a gun. I am your dog's voice in your head, whispering murder, the one that keeps saying run, run, run.

    Spare me your need to make me a miracle.
    Whisper your prayers where I can't see.
    Sometimes we need a moment that's just silence and God.
    And nobody knows what is said there save him
    and quite possibly, me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is awesome. The beginning so winsome and light and then you take us to the heart of it at turbo speed. Really impressive.

      Delete
    2. "I am your dog's voice in your head, whispering murder, the one that keeps saying run, run, run." That is so good its scary, literally terrifying. The opening is hysterical, the middle terrifying, and the end provocative. Short fiction can't get much better or at least I couldn't ask for more. But I will ...

      Delete
  33. The buck stops never. The hunter determined ever. One runs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will have to get a ouija and explain that one to Harry Truman. I'm thinking Bess will get it though...

      Delete
  34. If I wish

    If I wish upon a thing
    Can I have it?

    Where the world turns
    Upon a gesture,
    Will it stop if I ask
    To tell a tale upon a whale
    Fill a goose with red jelly
    Wander lifeless in a daze
    While the ocean roars at me?

    Do tell
    Where I can find
    The thing I wish upon

    As I eagerly snap the thorn
    Of this budding red rose
    Suck the dripping blood
    So wrapt in thought
    While my imagination swims
    In time I will mention
    This one time I asked

    When I wish upon the thing
    You’ll so freely give me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a slick and emotive piece. I really like it. The sleight of hand transition is so smooth.

      Delete
    2. You remind me of an old German saying, roughly "its not what we want that makes us fat." The implication of that saying is I think somewhat answered in your poem. A really thoughtful and touching poem it is.

      Delete
  35. One rainy day when you tired of Monopoly and Crazy Eights, you were searching for a new game in the closet when Danny Malone spied the your mother’s giant yellow quilt on the top shelf. It made a perfect fit, spanning the length and width of your four-poster bed with enough left over to make the walls, and the stitching was loose enough to allow light and fresh air to filter through. Yellow light, like the sun, which was almost as good as playing outside. You snitched cookies from the kitchen and made up new games and told stories. He wanted to build things one day, and you were certain he would because of the way he knew how the quilt would fit over the bed. His father called that “spatial relations” and you liked how it sounded, like you were going into space to see family, and you said the words over and over. You said you always wanted a blanket fort, but every time you tried to build one, it fell down; he said he’d always wanted one, but his mother didn’t like him messing around with the linens and stuff. You declared that this would be your special blanket fort and gave it a name and made rules. All comic books and candy and secrets had to be shared, especially if they were Archies and Junior Mints and gossip about the other kids in school. “I have a secret,” he said one afternoon, his face shaded by the light cutting across the edge of the quilt. “Wendy Sampson kissed me behind the sliding board at recess.”

    “That’s not a secret,” you said, pouting, because everybody saw.

    “The secret is that I didn’t like it. Because I wanted it to be you.”

    You tapped a fingertip to your chin. “Is kissing against blanket fort rules?”

    “I don’t think so.” He grinned, his cheeks turning pink, and that was when you decided that Danny Malone would be the only boy you’d allow in your blanket fort. Ever. Even if he wore shoes and forgot the Junior Mints.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, man. You're so good at these. The build up to the junior mints line is so deadly. Awesome, sweet piece.

      Delete
    2. If our mothers only knew...

      Delete
    3. Adorable, sweet, and completely believable... Thank you for this... it's wonderful! And the last paragraph is perfect. Well, really, the whole thing is.

      Delete
  36. The air is leaden with the humid reek of late human occupation, the grim post-industrial night splayed like a grizzled corpse on a mortuary slab, fluids seeping and pooling on stainless steel, insufferable as rolling iron and cattle cars. Factories crouch and belch on far endless horizons, dreaming of grainy couplings under gouting coagulates of oilspume.

    The sky is never black but a dark firebrick red, like old blood, stinking of iron and rot.

    This is the third night her daughter has been missing. The woman clings to shadows in her search, avoiding arc lights and flame spigots, anyplace that might distinguish her from a shadow, from a desperate thing of more than two dimensions.

    Three nights prior, after checking the trashed, excoriated rooms, they'd holed up in a ruined motel, listening for predatory gangs where once guests had lain awake listening—when the winds were right—to the muted roar and rush of the rigs on the distant interstate, a sound like the hoarse and reluctant breath of a giant come to regret his own birth.

    Somewhere in the night, the girl had wandered, and the woman has little hope of finding her, though she will never quit trying. In a way, she almost hopes she's dead, for death is tender when set against the grim spectacle of an encounter with the feral gangs.

    She thinks back to her life before, and it seems bereft of any meaning, like they were spitting moonshine into a campfire while lunatic clowns capered hidden in the unlit trees.

    How she misses her sweet child. Feels her absence like the great plains once missed the warm bison fug in the morning of the world.

    A shape passes before her, silhouetted against the refinery night. Animal. She stills, and slows her breathing almost to nothing. It passes before her again. Coyote shape, tail held level, ears keen. It stops and raises its snout to test the air, then swings its delicate head to look at the woman, as if needing to learn what type of profane being is culpable in this great outrage, what obscene biped straddles its appalling root.

    What passes between their eyes moves beyond language and enters a realm for which myth itself is too tangible. For the woman, it is something like a debridement. For the wild dog, it's the tailend of a fretful tumble amid the burned-out obstacles of voiceless grief, the eerie quiet that always follows an act of violence, before the blood's relentless urge to keep moving, to return home and replenish its squalling young.

    The woman watches as the animal passes from sight, and presently she too moves on while the night moves not one iota and nothing else of any significance changes anywhere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. You finally did it. I have nothing constructive to say except this is incredible, D.

      Delete
    2. Really captured the despair, the helpless hoping and grasping at straws that goes with such a situation as this. Hyper-realism.

      Delete
  37. This encounter gives me chills. Uses one of my favorite words, excoriate. Love this bit: "It stops and raises its snout to test the air, then swings its delicate head to look at the woman, as if needing to learn what type of profane being is culpable in this great outrage, what obscene biped straddles its appalling root." You do the post-apocalyptic slide-to-doom so proud, David.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops, this ended up in the wrong place. I didn't break the blog. The blog broke me.

      Delete
  38. I don't know I, I didn't talk to her. Besides, you're just fucking her because it pisses her dad off and that's not cool, man. I mean, she's cool and all, but she's got nothing in common with you except that you both hate her dad and -

    No, I'm not gonna stop. It's messed up, man. Both of you. It's fucked up. It's childish, too. This isn't high school. You're supposed to fuck people you genuinely like, not people who you can use to make a point. Yeah, I know she's using you, too. It's fucking gross.

    He'll never react. You know that, right. You might kill him, but he'll never give you the satisfaction.

    I know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carefully measured out man. Perfect. You have a kind of thought dialog thing you do better than anyone I know.

      Delete
  39. The witching hour, when kind bass come to play. When the air smells of fish and white herons glide through the cattails. This is the time, this hour of butterfly colour and flower scent. Your skin bristles at the chill off the water and your back aches, but damn it, it's not bad. It's not bad at all.

    The sound of bees is loud in your ears, but the wind carries it all away, the thoughts, the fears, the clouds of flies that sit on rotting piles of garbage. This is an oasis, molested though it may be. It is in the grey hour when you can step back and think, well, hell, it's still pretty if you keep looking up.

    Try and pretend that you don't worry about where your girls will find their oasis. Somewhere in a 'wetlands' made of 1's and 0's - a place where ospreys cannot visit, but man has yet to destroy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nothing like a quick fishing trip to contrast to the matrix, eh? Nice piece. My favorite passage being the last : a place where ospreys cannot visit, but man has yet to destroy.

      Delete
    2. This is beautiful.... a paean to those hidden oases that we all crave, that we all need. 1s and 0s are not enough.

      Delete
    3. Gorgeous...love the oasis and white herons and I can smell it.

      Delete
  40. She sat in the night and cried. Surrounded by men who cared deeply for her, one way or another, she found that each had his own reasons for not wanting to se a woman, any woman, but especially her, cry. They couldn't handle it. So she sat alone on the sofa while they were all somewhere else and wept.

    The tears stung her eyes and cheeks as traced hot lines down her face. Sobs tored form her, promising that she would have no voice in the morning. Frustration and grief poured for the with those tears. It was something those men could nver understand. This was a cleansing.

    Her tongue flicked out to remove a tear from her lip. It was so salty it stung a little.

    Eventually she wore herself out and crawled back into bed. She was so wring out she didn't even have the drive to wash her face.

    When she woke, it was with a lighter heart. She reached up to rub the sleep from her eyes, encountering a crustiness that she gently brushed away. Remembering what had happened, she immediately went to wash up.

    The skin around her eyes began to itch, then burn slightly. she looked into the mirror to see the damage. Her tears had been so hot, so salty, so pent up, they had left chemical burns on her eyelids and chapped lines down her face.

    Apparently even catharsis had it's price.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Jeanette’s cheap Bic pen stabbed up her notebook, feverishly, like her words were food poisoning, uncontrollably flowing out of her. She hunched over the shoddy old desk in her bedroom, headphones pumping classics and deep cuts in her ears, as she tried to articulate the rage, the fear, the anxiety, the ambition and braggadocio she felt: a teenage girl, born and raised in the Oakland ghetto, scraping by in the shadow of San Francisco’s wealth and prestige. She learned more on the streets, and her own recognizance, than she ever learned sitting in a classroom, and she knew, from the first time she heard NWA pumping out a box on a neighbor’s porch, that she wanted to be a rapper. She was always involved in the poetry club at McClymonds High, as an organizer and performer, and strived to wow her audience with her intricately woven, eloquent, but at times risqué or coarse, rhymes.

    ReplyDelete
  42. It was like a recurring toothache, all over his body. Tim was ten days clean off the heroin, and starting to jones in a major way. He missed it more than his mother, sometimes catching Brian fixing in the bathroom, or all the warm, comforting, intimate times when he used to boot up with Allison. She was a little older and more experienced with the junk, so he usually would help her get her hit first, then she’d try and help him get his. Sometimes she’d fuck it up, and he’d either end up fixing himself, or just skin-popping.

    But after he ODed and almost died, he was more determined than ever to stay off the heroin. Allison had fucked off and bailed on him for some fucking brogrammer, whereas Luanne gave him the shot of naloxone that saved his life. So Tim knew, at least, which side his bread was buttered on. So he did his damnedest to resist the demons inside him. Sometimes he would sit, curled up in a ball, swaddled in hoodies and blankets, for hours at a time, because he didn’t trust himself to go outside without trying to score. Even his friends didn’t have much time or motivation to take care of him, but they did what they could. Brian would sometimes toss him a sandwich from Subway, and when his withdrawal anxiety got particularly bad, Luanne would roll a blunt, fire it up, take a long drag while looking him right in the eyes, and put it to his lips. Sometimes Tim would waffle about smoking weed, but Luanne gently, but firmly, insisted, “nah, nah, nah, it’s all good, just chill, chill, you trippin’, boy, just hit this blunt and chill….”

    ReplyDelete

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