Friday, June 26, 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 say it's going to be fun, but I see that look in your eye. That sly smile wrapped around a pretty lie. My nose twitches, and I smell honeysuckle. I look at the dumpster flies and wonder, 'What the hell?' People smell weird shit when they're having a stroke. Right? I'm pretty sure that's right. God, I hope that's what it is. That's what I'm thinking. But then I smell a different smell. One that promises of slow, dark rivers and one more piece taken out of the life puzzle, slivers.

So, it'll be fun. Maybe. It'll be something. What else is there? Fucking hang out down by the reservoir, stare at the strip-mined misery that surrounds it. That card has been played so many times, hell, I've run out of rhymes. Smooth lines. There are no new girls, no new cliffs to climb. Pretty soon, we'll be out of time. It'll be fun or it won't or it will be nothing, but it could be something. There's only one way to find out, and the answer ain't down at the Rapid Roy Car Wash.


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

157 comments:

  1. HARDBOILED

    “I’ve always been an aficionado of crime noir. The tough gumshoes in their long tan raincoats and gray fedoras. I envied those heroes. They had smarts, know what I‘m saying? How they solved murders, found missing art –– did whatever had to be done to balance the scales of justice.” He took a slow sip from the mug of steaming hot coffee that Graham offered. He smiled. “A good cup of joe to clear away cobwebs up here,” he said, tapping his temple.

    Graham took a drag of his Lucky Strike and asked West, “You read a lot?” Barney West nodded. “All the time,” he said. “It kept me sane in those days. Chandler, Hammett, Spillane. I could go on and on. Hardboiled crime fiction, not that sunny-side-up crap about love and happy endings.”

    “Here,” said Graham, and West took an unfiltered Lucky from the pack. “Cancer stick, ain’t it? A lung buster.” Then after a long drag, West said, “Sure as hell don’t matter now.”

    “Learn anything from those hardboiled guys?”

    West let his lip curl like a man preparing to close himself up, say nothing, let the tiny room fog up heavy and gray as a dream. Instead he said, “Learned plenty.”

    About how crime doesn’t pay?”

    “It pays,” said West, “if you know the ins and outs of the game. If you study up on them. Yeah, Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe. They were my teachers. They knew how to track down their killers. They showed me what to do to sidestep you guys. How to get away with murder.”

    Now it was Graham twisting his thick lips into a sneer. “Like you, West?”

    “Yeah, like me,” he said but it rang unconvincingly, like a bell with a softened clapper.

    In the ashtray Graham tamped out the orange glowing head of his cigarette. Into the intercom on the small table he said, “Parker, we’re done here.” In less than it took to say “Mike Hammer. Private Eye,” the other detective entered the room and began to lead Barney West back to his cell.

    The handcuffed West turned to face Graham. “My old man said reading was dangerous. It gave a kid wild ideas. He didn’t know crime noir from a hole in the ground.”

    #

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    1. This is a cool piece, Sal. I like it a lot. The play on vernacular especially. So much story hidden in there, too. Well in, my friend.

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    2. I know I said I'd come back later to comment, but I couldn't resist. I love this meta fiction piece, partly because I love noir too, but it's so perfectly weighted.

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    3. I'm the dittohead today... this is awesome... and full of wonderful self-reference, and nods to the masters. Well done!

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    4. Such a great piece. Definitely worth several rereads!

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    5. I Love the whole idea of being a kid and kind of--basing your identity on what you read in books. This guy picks up noir. Somebody else picks up Asimov or Leguin, yet somehow that whole experience FORMS who they become. Wild, HUGE, idea. Tremendous potential.

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  2. NOTE! :) My sister in law just had a baby! I am an uncle for the second time. I know I haven't been around as much the last few weeks. That's gonna change. But probably not today. I'll bust a few pieces this morning and I'll be reading and commenting, but it might be late night. BREAK. THE. BLOG!!! :)

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    1. wooot! Uncle JD... good deal...

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    2. Cool. I'll be around at various times today, but as you know, that takes me away from *editing.* ;)

      Congrats on the uncledom. Unclehood?

      And sorry about fucking up the blog already with misplaced comments. I already deal with misplaced modifiers, so I ought to know better. :D

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    3. Congrats!!! waaaaahhhhhh! (getting you in training)

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    4. Congratulations to you all! And writers never need to sleep anyway...

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    5. Uncledom! That's like a dad once removed. Cool! All the privilege without all the responsibility. Like being a grandma! (Please Dear God, not yet! eek! Let 'er get through college first!)

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    6. Woooot! Congrats, Uncle JD! :D

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  3. Dan, an amazing start to the Friday! Well done... "strip mined misery" says it all...

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    1. Thanks, brother. I liked that one, too.

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    2. haha, I'm laughing at the friggin car wash. Black comedy.

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  4. The old black and white television buzzed. Gray eyes watched from under gray hair. He struggled to hear the words on the news.
    ““In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”
    He closed his eyes. In his memories, he was joined by his buddy William. Together, that Saturday morning, more than four decades ago, they’d stood against the city’s finest as they refused to give their names or IDs to the men in blue. A night of turning tricks to get the money for breakfast and maybe a bottle of booze if they could persuade someone to buy it for them.
    They stood in the park, across from the Stonewall Inn. William became a demon when he saw that the cops were trying to round up the patrons in the bar… the bar owned by the Mafia… the bar that usually paid the police to turn their heads.
    He opened his eyes to the present. The little screen had more words.
    “Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
    He took a swig from the little bottle of Jack Daniels. He raised the bottle in the air in a toast. “To you, William. You fought the good fight but like a damned fool, you died before the victory.”
    When they found him in the morning, he had a smile on his face, and he clutched an old photo to his chest, a photo signed “William.”

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    1. From a sad monochrome opening to a triumphant rainbow, essentially. Moving piece, Leland. And well done, America.

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    2. Oh, man. This one has mad power, Leland. Made my chest tight. Really emotive and strong.

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    3. Thank you kindly.... and thanks to the Supremes for choosing this day, the day before the Stonewall anniversary, to make their landmark ruling.

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    4. Wow, yes. SCOTUS really came through this week!

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    5. Ah, I read your other story first and made a comment about the news today. And you wrote this about it! Fab. It just shows how society changes. We like to think good will prevail in the end and injustices overturned. Equality becoming more than just a word.

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    6. It's brilliant when it happens!

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    7. made me teary. Lost a brother before he could get here and know that dream. But he's dreaming bigger where he is and I'm sure William and the rest were working their magic to make it happen.God bless them and us, every one!

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    8. Amen! and I feel sure your brother is celebrating today, Teresa...

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    9. <3
      (You've left me without words.)

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    10. Writers without words? Now I feel guilty.... thank you kindly.

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  5. Strip-mined misery! No surprise, but I like that phrase, brother.

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    1. Damn, you have a good ear for phrases... that was my favorite, too.

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    2. I genuinely didn't see your comment as I didn't refresh after getting distracted then posting! Funny, huh? I probably broke the blog already now, with my random, scattershot comments. :)

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    3. But I should post mine now and then get back to editing. I'll be back later to read!

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    4. I'll just hang out here... watching, waiting, for the glory of words to appear upon the MaderBlog....y'all have fun editing and working n stuff.

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  6. I was home for Thanksgiving that year. Both the weather and my family’s reception were cold as hell.
    But we all pretended that everything was the same. My brother and Dad and I went out for our annual pheasant hunt. The rest of America could have their turkeys, we would have wild game.
    “Your mother says you and she had a talk last night,” Dad said as he settled into the blind.
    My face burned hot.
    “She says that you told her you don’t like women.”
    My brother grinned and laughed. “I’ve got a fag for a brother?”
    “Shut up,” Dad said. “You’ll scare the birds.” The silence was uncomfortable. “I wish you’d told me first. How long have you been this way?”
    “All my life, Dad. It was always the cowboys, never the girls.”
    “It’s not natural,” my brother offered.
    “Shut up,” my father said again. “Have you… have you been with another man?”
    “Only when I was a kid.”
    “Someone abused you?”
    “It wouldn’t have mattered. I knew I was gay before he…”
    “Who was it?”
    I didn’t want to answer. “It doesn’t matter, Dad.”
    “Who was it?” he repeated.
    “Dad…”
    “He’d lie about it anyway.” My brother just couldn’t shut up.”
    My eyes were on the field, as much to avoid my father’s eyes as to watch for the pheasants. “Look!” I whispered.
    Three pheasants coasted to a landing. A hen, a rooster, and a white bird.
    “I’ll be damned. An albino. I saw one of those the year you were born.”
    My brother was sighting his shotgun on one of the birds already.
    “Remember. Only the rooster. Leave the hen. Leave the albino.”
    My brother may not have been the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but he was a damned fine shot. The explosion of the gun in the blind surprised us all. The pheasants, too. Only the albino lay on ground.
    “I told you…”
    “I guess I missed.”
    Dad looked at me. “Was it family?”
    I thought for a moment that he was talking about the pheasant, then realized he was asking who abused me. I nodded.
    “I thought so.” He turned to my brother, “Are you gonna go get the damned bird you killed or not?”
    My brother’s face was white as he left the blind to retrieve the bird.
    My father squinted along the barrel of his shotgun as he sighted something, though I saw no fowl.
    “It was him, wasn’t it?”
    “Yeah, but if it hadn’t been him, I still…”
    His shotgun was as loud as my brother’s.
    We only got the one pheasant that morning, but we bagged our limit of justice.

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    1. Holy fucking shit, Leland! This one gave me chills. So many layers here. (Please excuse cursing.)

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    2. If something I write can wring a curse from your lips (or your keyboard) I am deeply complimented indeed. Thank you!

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    3. Ha! This is an exemplary piece of flash horror, and so much subtlety and economy. Surprising too. I love it.

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    4. Yeah, I didn't see that ending coming. I was feeling bad for the albino as I saw that coming. And all the way through I knew it was him. Kapow! I didn't imagjne the father capable.

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    5. For my future biographers, depending on the distance, the shotgun blast may or may not cause fatal or even life-threatening injury.... up close though....I leave it to the reader to determine the other son's fate.

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    6. 'the limit' being the clue. a-ha!

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    7. LOL.... non-commital endings are so vexing, aren't they?

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    8. Wow. Just...wow. You are on a roll today, Leland.

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    9. Holy cats. Definite shivers here. Fine, fine work.

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    10. Thanks! it was a good day for writing...

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    11. Yeah, this is really rad. Love how spare it is.

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    12. Thank you, sir! Your ambien-fueled comments are delightful :-)

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    13. I like Dad; he took care of business!

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  7. Oops, didn't refresh and obviously had the same thought as Leland! lol

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    1. Great minds think alike... and so do we.

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    2. Y'all are confusing me. ;) Kidding. Thanks!

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    3. It happens a lot more, but usually I read the comment first and just say "ditto," lol. This time I didn't see your comment, but yeah.

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    4. Brother, I've confused myself even more, I swear. Later. :)

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  8. What is this thing that seems to sew our differences together? Can we capture it and make it serve us yet? I watch in awe as it follows the white ridges of the northern peaks, impervious to the chill, and meets with the bright cry of morning. As we will meet one day in some form or other, in the throat of the dawn.

    Wherefore Tatiana of the Desert in her robes of thorn? She who rode the terrible column of death in its roiling fungal glory and wrung its corded neck so we could live again. In my memory, the last broadcasts called her the Jesus of the Mojave, although that might have been a fever dream fuelled by apocalypse-mind. Messiahs live only in tales, I fear, while actual plagues still roam the actual land.

    We come to a field in Iowa where mists lap at the weighty heads of sunflowers like the breath of the dead, where carefully signposted detours off the interstate take us to dreadful happenings behind barn doors and in root cellars, ravagements and heinous slaughter under big and lovely skies.

    Much has been lost, too painful to be recalled even in sleep. Glimpses nonetheless. Blue glaciers. Windmills turning slowly in a small sea of tulips. Ambient metal. The curled yawn of a kitten. Zydeco wheezings on the bayou. Guinness on tap near the Liffey. Ferris wheels and tilt-a-whirls. Triassic dragonflies stitching the summer air. Mint juleps. Hardbitten investigators and shrewd, sultry women. Steaming tamales. A volleyed ball into a waiting net. Library cool. Cathedral hush. Blood-red lampshades. Flags and logos. A white boat coming up the river. A chalk-marked cue ball on green felt. Tiny neon fishes through thick glass. Antipasto. Dreams of star quests. The stem of a wineglass. Outdoor applause. Elegance. Sage bundle smudges. Yule logs. Exuberance. The howl of a storm through ruins. All my relations.

    In the safety of the shade, an old man speaks of secret fires, reaches for a melody, but nobody's daddy is alive, wound steel and nylon are but memories, and the song dies on the scorched and windless air.

    In the heat mirage, immense yellow machines with great burdened heads work the surface of the blacktop, rusted and vast in the early light, seeming to float like tawdry echoes of the giant lizards that once roamed this world of sorrows.

    Tar pits await us all, she said, the world is mostly a grave. And she was right.

    Ours was fashioned from fear and greed, aided by inertia, and assembled by weak men feigning strength. First they came for the honeybees; then they came for the birds; then the butterflies. Small things, inconsequential to men who counted in real estate deals and fairway handshakes, men whose mouths said development when their makeshift hearts meant plunder.

    In the sounds of patent leather on hardwood, amid conference call maneuvers and the market stall barks of commerce, they missed the sudden silences of the trees, the places rubbed shiny and threadbare like an old discarded toy. They desired the whole cloth but ignored when the stitching came apart. And not even Tatiana with her needles of thorn could sew it back right.

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    1. My God.... this is a beautiful despair and hope and memory and... and it's amazing. The paragraph with blue glaciers and windmills... one of the longest stretches of the language I've read without verbs, and yet filled with vibrant action.... well played, sir... well played.

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    2. I was a little hesitant to go full dark, but what the hell: this is the stuff that's currently asking to come out, so who am I to deny it? Thanks, my friend, I'm happy you enjoyed it and felt all those feels.

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    3. And yes, I don't actually think of it as dark: there's mourning, sure, and rage, but also beauty and, however forlorn, a kind of hope, as you said. So thanks for hearing that.

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    4. It's good stuff... what you write just about always is. It takes me places I might not go on my own, but it makes me see the world more clearly... and that's what good art, especially good fiction, is supposed to do.

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    5. A world of influences... I'd love to see inside your head, David!

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    6. You're going deep, man.
      I like the imagery of stitching and mending, and trying to keep the parts together as the world disintegrates and the framework and the people. I liked the list of things in the world - it didn't jar or was too many things. They worked. I liked the way they ended with 'The howl of a storm through ruins. All my relations.' - I linked the two things, thinking there's a back story coming there. And then the bees and the butterflies - the men in power need to wake up cos they're gonna lose it all.
      Lots of food for thought and very good.

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    7. Gulp! Clears throat, coughs. Beautiful! The stitching and restitching and yes, my brain is MUSH. but what is the myth where the woman UNravels the thread, and leaves the trail through the labyrinth that guides the hero to his quest, even though the monsters come and the losses, too? This takes me there, to that myth.

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    8. the labyrinth with the Minotaur. Not sure of the woman. Not Nirvana but something similar sounding?

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    9. Was that Ariadne? Speaking of influences, it's weird how we can be very conscious of some influences yet we miss other obvious ones even in our own work.

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    10. But thanks, y'alls. Vickie, thanks for that especially! I wondered how long to make that list; I could have added to it all day and all night, lol. But I wanted it to have a rhythm too, like a song of lost things or something, a poem even.

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    11. Yeah it's Ariadne... the spider one... :) I read all of Ovid's Metamorphoses...

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    12. What Leland said. You're giving me the vapors, dude.

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    13. Are the vapors (or vapours) a good thing, though? ;)

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    14. Damn. This is wonderful. All of it is, but I love this as a piece of a piece:

      "In the safety of the shade, an old man speaks of secret fires, reaches for a melody, but nobody's daddy is alive, wound steel and nylon are but memories, and the song dies on the scorched and windless air."

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  9. You don't need another pair of shoes. How many feet you got? You don't need that brand new phone, you never wrapped your brain around the old one. And you don't need an SUV unless you NEED it. You live in the Alaskan wilderness, go for it. You live in Pasadena and drive it to the mall? Enjoy your pointless wars. Oh, and wash it. The drought is surely exaggerated.

    I hear you. I know I don't need it, but it makes me feel good. New shirt to greet the weekend with, what kind of shit is that? Heroin makes you feel good, too, but there's a downside. You think your crutches are so different. We all hide behind different walls. We burrow into different foxholes to avoid the shrapnel.

    I'm not judging anyone. I'm just sad. And I don't do heroin. Gotta go. New shirts to buy.

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    1. And there is truth, in three paragraphs...

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    2. Yup. You can feel the sadness behind this, the impotent sorrow, even before the narrator tells us he's sad.

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    3. The voice of the people. Always in touch and ever eloquent!

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    4. The materialism of our age :) Brilliant.

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    5. When we can't reach the BIG joy? We reach for the small. But we reach for some joy, and even that's important. Isn't it?

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    6. Everything is important if you think about it enough. ;)

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  10. The paper rippled before me and my character stepped out from the page, shrugging the manuscript aside with an irritated flexing of his shoulders.

    “Well?” he said. “What's it gonna be? Am I going to get with this woman or not?”

    I sat back from my desk, discomfited by his appearance. “I... I rather... I'm not sure. I don't usually write romance. You're a direct manifestation of my thoughts: you must know that. You do, don't you?”

    Carter arched his back, his vertebrae and ribs settling into place with a clunk. He'd seemed to have grown larger and more solid too. “I do know you've been making fools out of both me and Rhapsody with your ineffectual writing. I'm a decisive man and she's clearly been in lust with me since chapter one.” He hammered his gauntleted fist on my table. “It won't do. We'd never behave like this. Get to the point, man.”

    “But I'm an action and adventure writer. I don't do 'feels'. Every time I try to make my characters express their emotions they seem affected, not affectionate.”

    My hero rubbed his chin, the rasp of his perma-stubble loud against his glove. “I've an idea,” he said. “You can manage a little dictation, can't you?”

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    1. Oh yeah, now THAT is what being character-driven really means! This is a cool piece... well executed and well imagined. Thank you for sharing!

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    2. Thank you, Leland. What can I say? Maybe I had a little help writing this!

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    3. haha, I love it, and reminds me of struggling over writing a love scene in an 'action' book. I bow down to romance writers! I'm not worthy!
      Carter rocks.

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    4. A character who takes things in hand and maintains a firm grip on things is one to reckon with...

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    5. It's like they say, life is stranger than fiction. Can what we write be exact? Do we fanny around when in real life the character would get on with it. Interesting question :)

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    6. I guess Hemingway's 'truth' would be the distillation of all writing but rather than being one sentence, you'd write the truth of the characters and their reactions to the situations they were encountering. It'll never happen though; we all find our own truths when we write and they're all different.

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    7. Ha, nice one, Mark. This is a fun exercise and you do it with great poise.

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    8. Mark, this is made of awesome. I wish my characters were that decisive and pro-active. :P

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    9. Ditto. Really cool dance man.

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  11. “Faggot, faggot.”
    A country school. Rural Nebraska in pre-internet America.
    Dick and Laura Petrie couldn’t even sleep in the same bed on television.
    Where did B hear the word? And why did I know I should deny it?
    A school with eight—count them, eight—students. I was in kindergarten; B was in fifth or sixth grade.
    Our nearest neighbors were rattlesnakes and antelope. I walked to school a lot of days, and no, it wasn’t uphill both ways, and I didn’t walk it in snow. It was about a mile and a half from where I slept at night.
    But even more puzzling, how did I know the word applied to me?
    B, the truth is, you were cute. Handsome even, and I knew that even when I was six. I especially liked that red gingham shirt you wore, usually on Fridays. I liked the way you smiled.
    If I could travel back in time, do you know what I’d tell you?
    I’d tell you that if you were nicer to me, I’d kiss you.

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    1. Sweet. The antelope made me laugh and the subject is cute. I guess you would know at six. I remember being 'in love' with a boy at school at that age. We wrote 'love letters'!! I walked to school too, in pre-internet England. It was a different time. Effective opening.
      And now you have gay marriage - I loved that news headline today.

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    2. There are miracles that happen... thanks!

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    3. We were talking about it at work today. One of my female friends is married to her partner, also female, and they have a baby. It's so cool. The world needs to wake up to the fact that it's 2015 and we are all meant to be intelligent people.

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    4. Can we ditto "amen"? If so, dittoing it.

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    5. Ditto's are good for everything except "I love you."

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  12. We are
    Frightening to the stars
    As we are

    Sketched far too quickly
    Coloured in at angles
    Lines without form

    A fearful beauty in layers
    Flickering still photos
    A montage unsought

    We are
    Brightening these days
    As we are

    Morning seeks us out
    Alone and naked
    Unformed, unkempt

    Yet others understand
    Being the same inside
    In glorious difference

    We are
    Unique to ourselves
    As we are.

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    1. A fractured kaleidoscope of frozen time. Terrific.

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    2. ahhh... I so like this! the "We are..." repetitions set it afire... well done!

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    3. Thanks, Mark - I have a collection called kaleidoscope - it's a great word for the gathering of life :) This was the first thing I thought of when I sat down and clicked on to this website - 'We are' - and I thought what are we? Really? Which is what we all write about! :)

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    4. Thanks, Leland! I think maybe I should've started writing before I ate and drank a Pimms! :)

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    5. Keep going as long as you can!

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    6. I'll try :) I missed a couple of weeks.

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    7. Lady, you had me at the first two lines. "we are frightening to the stars." Knockout!

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    8. Yes, that line grabbed me too. But also I love "un-" words: unformed, unkempt, etc. They sound like something I can't quite express.

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    9. Thank you, Teresa and David :)

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    10. Nothing left for me but ditto. Brilliant.

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  13. Cold comfort

    She hasn’t called since Christmas, but I know the game. I’ve played it far too often over the years and this board bends under the negative energy. I can tear the pieces off the walls, ripping the coloured squares into nothing. A room bereft of this. I need circles – endless curves of possibility.

    My skin prickles. This shower of emotion can stagnate in the corners, creeping beyond. I will sit here and read this book, my mind never wandering to the phone, wondering where she is or what she’s doing.

    I can hold out longer. I have done before. I think the last record was a year. It’s a control thing, but I know her gameplay, know it by heart.

    Like a chess master, she’ll keep her silence until the loss grows like a seeping wound and I’m beaten into submission. Usually the guilt will sway my hand. But these days I’ve come to terms with guilt and looked it in the eye, and we came to an agreement. It no longer kills me.

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    1. And oh, how we need to remember that guilt can be convinced not to kill us... this is a wonderful piece, documenting manipulation and at last, redemption... well done!

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    2. Thanks! People can really use this emotion to bend or break others, and they really shouldn't. And it's usually the 'giving' people who are most affected by it, I think. I guess it's something you learn to say no to with experience. Just say no! :)

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    3. Ha, "we came to an agreement." That's good. I was raised Catholic, so I hear ya. ;)

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    4. God, if I had a pound for every guilt trip!

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  14. Listening

    Turning the glass against the wall, he listens,
    Pulling life through this cold stone boundary;
    It’s a separation he denies in thought,
    Yet it’s only in his mind alone, his alone.

    The couple talk so trivial beyond the wall,
    Making him smile, curse, dream a while,
    Pondering on the loneliness that is his -
    The journey that led him to this waiting.

    The man will leave in just an hour’s time,
    Always the same, a habit on the dot -
    Driving the same blue car to the road,
    Heading east to the factory downtown.

    He knows this stranger’s every movement,
    Having watched, followed, taken it all in;
    Even the usual café he frequents for lunch,
    Even the times he breaks for a cigarette.

    The laughter rises and falls beyond the wall,
    Happiness suspended fruitful in mid-air -
    He catches it in his mind, turns it over, enjoys,
    Knowing he will savour a part of it in turn.

    He glances at the black rucksack by the door,
    Eager for the chime of the clock on the hour,
    Marking the time when the husband will leave,
    Marking the time when the wife will be alone.

    Nine hours, nine long hours, he will have -
    Time enough to extinguish his rapt curiosity,
    Long enough to imagine a life with her
    Before the moment he chooses to wring it out.

    Then he’ll return with her, quiet and immobile,
    An object to treasure in the comfort of his home;
    He will take her heart as her smile stole his –
    A beauty so perfect that it surpasses perfection.

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    1. Oh wow.... I don't think I've ever read a poem that ended in murder.... chilling and well done!

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    2. Thanks. I wasn't sure of the flow. I've written a few about murder now. But I'm really normal, really... :) !!!

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    3. I believe you, really. No dead bodies anywhere to be found, right?

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    4. Agreed. And I really like the flow and rhythm a lot. Reminiscent of a time past.

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  15. Cheryl rifled through her purse yet again, racking her brain to figure out what she had forgotten. She felt certain there was something. Cell phone, check. Wallet, check. Keys, check. (Well, duh. She couldn’t have driven to work without those, now could she?) Gym card, check. She opened the wallet and confirmed (reconfirmed — no, actually, re-reconfirmed) that her driver’s license, cash and credit cards were all present.

    With a sigh, she started to punch in Steve’s number, but slammed down the receiver of her desk phone before reaching the last digit. No, she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. Not after what he’d said last night. What was it he’d called her? Oh yes, "pathologically scatterbrained." Nice, huh? True, she’d been a bit distracted lately, but she wasn’t cuckoo for cocoa puffs, as he obviously thought.

    She closed her eyes, determined to recall the item she’d left behind on her own, even if it meant replaying the entire morning step by step. It would come to her eventually — it always did — and Steve would be none the wiser. He didn’t need to know about every little thing, after all.

    Louise arrived in the next cubicle with her usual medley of clatter and chatter.

    "Aren’t you the lucky one, able to sit here and meditate. So hubby’s home with the baby?"

    Cheryl opened her eyes and stared at her coworker.

    "What?"

    "Well, I just dropped Isabel off downstairs at the day care, and your Christopher wasn’t there, so I assumed he must be with your husband."

    "Oh, yes. Actually, he’s just going into work late today. In fact, I’m supposed to meet him in the parking garage in a few minutes, so I’d better head down there. Thanks for reminding me!"

    Hopefully the baby would still be sleeping when she got to the car so she could drop him off at the day care without anyone asking prying questions or, heaven forbid, wanting to talk to her husband.

    He didn’t need to know about every little thing, after all.

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    1. Yikes! but sometimes we do forget the most important things, don't we?

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    2. I've heard of people doing this for reals! Nice job building it slowly enough for there to be tension, especially given the length parameters.

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  16. The things untold. I counted on a tomorrow I will never see. I lived a past I am too ashamed to tell. Can these things be untold?

    I cast my aspirations into the flitting flames, watching them twist and snake in the hearth. The darkness in the centre is I. All around is you.

    I am the person once whole. Can you lie in waiting for me forever? Can you never let me go?

    In the spring of our lives we made promises the other could never keep, wished upon things the other would never give. We are equal. We walked out of the fog. It is now winter and you still find me - how?

    My past is yours, your creation, your undoing. You made me. I am your reflection in the dust. The thing you changed to be more like you. And now you hate us both, I must accompany you? How do I wake you to see?

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    1. and in this one, you had me at the Last lines. Great JOB!

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    2. Ahhh... a story told in questions, rhetorical and otherwise... well done, and an interesting technique!

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    3. I love how pensive and nonjudgmental this is, despite some pain.

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    4. Thanks, guys! Thanks for your compliments, Teresa :) You know how you scribble and you're not sure it makes any sense to anyone?! I like pensive. I think I write a lot of pensive! And questions, Leland - I like the way they weave.

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  17. Maybe I will open this old wound, like a scar that pains us only when it rains.
    maybe what I’ve said before I need to say again.
    I try to remember that kind of September, immortalized in song
    That perfect weather, that certain future, the love that wrote that song.
    I have no stomach for nostalgia
    A different day comes to my mind.

    When I had to choose between the life of my child. Or my husband, that day those towers went down.
    She was at her school crosstown; he was on a train. Headed for the end of the island it seemed. Never to be seen again.
    They had the children in the church, like some scene from a Hitchcock video. I stared at a nun the size of thumb. She told me: “We’ll keep her. Go.”
    It’s a long walk downtown, and the zombies kept coming, waves upon waves of them, covered in ash.
    It’s the apocalypse; it’s Stephen King
    It’s the Rapture and it’s the Ring.
    It’s the moonscape; the end of the world, and in that helplessness, I watched my world
    Come down.

    But high overhead, what the newsreels erased,
    were those doomed in that nightmare, high above
    turning to another and showing their love.

    They held hands as they jumped from the towers to earth.
    And I have never been, seen or written or imagined any greater God than
    A spirit who will turn to another person at such a moment and say:
    “You are not alone. Take my hand.”

    Yes, I got my kid back and my husband too, Covered in ash. I am grateful; we got to live.
    But while we wave our various flags and cry: “Never forget!”
    I carry in my heart the silent silhouettes of falling angels; a nameless courage which goes unspoken, falling toward the light.
    Call it memory retrograde.
    Heroes, you know, are not always obvious.

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    1. Ahhh... that is goosebump material. Well done.

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    2. It's very beautiful and I like the changing rhythms. There's a lot of images, it's very evocative. I'm not religious at all, but I don't think you need to be to appreciate those sentiments in it. I had the feeling of jumping in and out, swaynig to and fro almost.
      These are my favourite lines because I love the rocking rhythm -
      It’s the apocalypse; it’s Stephen King
      It’s the Rapture and it’s the Ring.
      It’s the moonscape; the end of the world, and in that helplessness, I watched my world
      Come down.

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    3. Two hundred jumpers. Yes, we need to honour them. This is lovely.

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    4. I love this: I have no stomach for nostalgia

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  18. On the hundred-twentieth day of the drought -- I know this because I kept X’ing them off on Mama’s 1892 Sears-Roebuck calendar -- I watched big old storm clouds stack up against the distant mountains and heard my Pa say, “Shit, we’re in fer it now.”

    “Whatcha mean, Pa...don’t ya think those rain clouds are coming our way?” I said full of a wide-eyed ten-year-old’s belief in miracles.

    Pa worked up some juice in his mouth and spit it into the dust that barely held up the dead-dry and stunted corn stalks stretching like pale corduroy toward an east Colorado sunset that turned those hope-filled clouds a right royal purple.

    “Son,” Pa said, kneeling down and taking me by the shoulders, “Theys that tell ya ‘Where there’s smoke there’s fire,’ never seen clouds like those, what’ll not bring us rain, but prob’ly Satan’s own hunger.”

    I thought better of asking Pa what he meant again, but found out that night when those heaven-sent clouds of mine passed over our place, dropping not rain but lightning on our fields, burning my innocence as black as that quarter of our crop ol’ Satan ate for supper.

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    1. oh wow... and yeah... I know those clouds from when I grew up on the plains... and I know the terror of a wheatfield on fire! Well done!

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    2. I'll probably hear the phrase "Satan's own hunger" in my nightmares tonight. Brilliant. I think. ;)

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    3. Yup. Sorry to ditto, but David took mine. That phrase is fantastic. Great piece.

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  19. What did Icarus see, when the sun kissed his face? Was there a moment when, wings beating a little faster, the majesty of the dancing solar flares transfixed him, taught him new languages, inspired a desire to fly home and create a masterpiece? Or had he already flown too high, drops of melting wax marrying the writhing solar soup? Did they evaporate upon contact, like his tears of joy? What if Icarus had forged his fragile appendages with a tougher compound? Was that his last thought? Next time, asbestos?

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    1. Contemplative... iconic.... and funny. All in such a short piece. Nicely done

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  20. The world has taken its best shot at this man—sun, wind, work, years—and you can count the joys and sorrows in the fault-field of lines etched into his face. He pulls the brim of his John Deere cap tighter over the startling pinpoints of his blue eyes and surveys the angle of the sun, the moisture level of the clouds, who the hell knows what he’s gleaning from that measure of the distance. Air rushes from him as he jabs the shovel into the ground, turning deep, rich soil. After a few rounds he pauses, leaning on the handle, a frown deepening the road map of his time on this side of the earth. From your perch on the back deck, your work no heavier than lifting an eyebrow or constructing a sentence, you imagine the seriousness of his task, that he is a master of fixing things, of digging paths for repairing infrastructure, improving drainage, tending to the unsung undersides of things that make life more comfortable for people who don’t have dirt under their fingernails. A door slaps open and a woman steps out, solid woman, wiping thick, red hands on a dishtowel. Leaning toward him, a fist now on each sturdy, baby-spread hip, one side of her mouth curls up. “Almost ready,” the man says. He straightens and gestures with the hand not wrapped around the shovel. “Now, where do you want the begonias?”

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    1. a wonderfully descriptive ode to a team of gardeners... and this phrase is awesome: tending to the unsung undersides.... just beautiful.

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    2. Respect. For honouring these characters and for "sturdy, baby-spread hip."

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  21. Can I do it. Yes, I can. Why can't I stop the fucking record. Goddamn, and the needle's broke, but I got eight taps that will take away the sound of buzzsaw locust, if only momentarily, and I will hold hot match heads on my arm and, God, if that doesn't almost work.

    I will lay at wake at night and hold my breath. Longer every night. Absurd. Pain that tears at my chest, but there is a moment. A birth of light. Some Northern Light that lives inside your mind. And sure, now you know the science, but back then it didn't matter. It was about the pain and the shimmering edge of everything.

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    1. Tactile and painful... but that last line... that last line is some kinda magic... the shimmering edge of everything deserves to be used some place prominently! Maybe even a title....

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    2. Thanks brother. I think you're right.

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  22. Look at her and smell her. Feel the creep of her gaze across your skin. She is cold and empty and that's part of it. She is a vessel, ready to be filled with whatever you provide. They'll judge you. Once everyone finds out. They'll talk about you and the news people will come and your neighbors will shake their heads, but that's a long ways off. That's a distant rampart. That's still coming down the pike and right now the important thing is the notebooks because without them you're fucking lost. But you'll find them. Or you won't, and it won't change shit except stealing your joy and stepping up the schedule.

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    1. Eerie, well-written, and a great use of rampart... creep of her gaze is another great turn of phrases... well done!

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