Friday, July 10, 2015

2 Minutes. Go!

Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON'T IDENTIFY AS 'WRITERS' - all are welcome here! Every Friday, we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom!

Write whatever you want in the 'comments' section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play. 

I get there late and Joey's straight twitching, eyes all bugged out and ruby red. I smile because it was a long car ride and, well, there's no rules to the game. Not really. So, I talk to Joey in a low voice, grumbly-like, all serious - tell him that we got robbed. His money is gone. It just comes out, and then it sits there so we can both look at it. Walk around it and kick the tires.

You didn't get robbed. The look in his eye is like an ice shower. I smile, mind running like a gerbil's heart. Joey is reaching for his back pocket, and I notice there's someone in the corner. Too dark to tell who it is, but it's all bad. That much I know. My mind is slow and I need it to be fast. Fast. I was just kidding man, we're good.

I say it, and it feels like a lie in my mouth, jagged edges. Joey's hand is still behind him, and we stand perfectly still - I know he's weighing the options, but I also know he doesn't really have any.

I may be a lying piece of shit, but I'm the one who knows the man.


Thanks for stopping by! Gonna be a busy day, 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

138 comments:

  1. ohhh.... that went somewhere I didn't expect... in a good way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJuly 10, 2015 at 10:56 AM

      I could picture it Dan. Hanging on the edge.

      Delete
    2. Intriguing... "...it feels like a lie in my mouth, jagged edges." Love the rhythms here.

      Delete
    3. And "ice shower." This is mint, to use an English term. :)

      Delete
    4. I'm a big ditto-head. Mind you, I think I'm improving and then I read this. Way to go, Maestro!

      Delete
  2. Things not to think about when you are a sophomore in high school. When you are in gym class. When you are in the shower. When the guy next to you is a senior named Tony Brady.

    Do not think about how you notice the dark hair under his arms. Do not consider how it would smell or taste. Do not deliberate on how you notice just a few hairs growing around his nipples, hairs that shout “Notice me! Notice me!”

    Clench your eyes against the possibility of seeing his belly button, an innie, wrapped in muscle from the hundreds of sit-ups you know he does because he wants to join the Marines next year. Ponder not the small trail of fur that leads downward from his belly button to… No, don’t even give it a name. What kind of pervert are you?

    “Hey, can I borrow your shampoo?” The god’s voice interrupts your not-thinking. You gurgle something that might have been “sure” if your tongue were not daydreaming about following that furry trail to where it leads. You hand him the bottle. You turn around so the water runs down your back, not because you want to see him from the corner of your eye.

    No. Of course not.

    You watch the creamy liquid from the bottle of shampoo drizzle onto his hand, watch his other hand return the bottle to you. His fingers are long; he should play the piano. You fail to grasp the bottle in your not-reverie. It falls to the floor.

    Tony Brady bends over to pick up the bottle and a forbidden vista opens. You are not checking out a senior’s ass. No, you are not.

    Multiplication tables. Five times five is twenty-five. Five times six is thirty. Five times seven is thirty-five.

    “Here. Sorry I dropped it.” His perfect lips, his yes-you-are smile.

    “Thanks,” you croak.

    He applies the shampoo to his hair… lathers it up. Arms behind his head. Biceps on display for your nearly closed I’m-not-that-kinda-guy eyes.

    Eleven times eleven is a hundred-and-twenty-one. His hands bring some of the bubbles from his head to his armpits. Will the hair there have more body, more curl because of your shampoo? And then, his fingers go to where you really, really want to go but your this-is-small-town-america fear keeps you from believing that’s even a possibility.
    His hands linger there, even as he tilts his head back to rinse the shampoo from his head. His eyes are closed so you think it’s safe to look a moment longer. You think you see him growing there in the warm water but hey that happens to everyone in the shower, right? Oh god it’s happening to you, too, but not just a little. You turn away from Tony and you grab your shampoo, turn off the shower, and start to leave so you can cover up your shame with a towel when…

    His cool wet hand touches your shoulder. “Hey, don’t be so afraid.”

    “Thanks.” You nervous-smile back at him, pretending he’s telling you not to be afraid of something in gym class but you know he knows your secret and you wonder if he’s okay with it and if he wants to explore too and you remember twelve times twelve is a hundred-and-forty-four and you hope you make it home before you explode with hope and fear and dreams and not-being-so-afraid and the memory of Tony Brady’s long fingers on your no-I’m-not-gay naked skin.

    No. You will not, must not, can not think of this. But you do. And thirteen times thirteen is one-hundred-sixty-nine and that number makes you smile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJuly 10, 2015 at 10:59 AM

      At least you got a lot of practice with the multiplication tables - LOL.

      Delete
    2. Wow... I love the sensual details here. And the math.

      Delete
    3. Awesome stuff. Ditto what Laurie said about sensual details.

      Delete
    4. I really like this piece. So innocent, but fraught with tension. Really well balanced. And the math works perfectly. I'll trust your answers are correct. ;)

      Delete
    5. Thank you so much! I'm practicing that second person writing...

      Delete
    6. So hard to make second-person work, but you do it so well, Leland. Love this piece. And yeah, a hundred sixty-nine? Who knew?

      Delete
    7. Thanks... and the multiplication tables are a "gift" from a guy I knew who did porn... he said that you'd be surprised at the number of porn actors who can do multiplication tables as a way of, um, distracting themselves...

      Delete
    8. And all these years, I've been thinking about baseball...no wonder I suck at math.

      Delete
    9. LOL, yeah... that can work, too... but those baseball players look so HOT in their uniforms... at least to some of us...

      Delete
    10. I can so feel this, Leland. It's like I'm in his head... ummm.

      *shrugs*

      What the hell, beauty is beauty whatever shape it comes in!

      Delete
    11. Thanks, Mark, and yeah... it is!

      Delete
  3. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJuly 10, 2015 at 10:53 AM

    I took this assignment because I thought it would be an easy one. Just spend some time on this awesome plant and render my verdict - almost like a paid vacation. Ok, let me back up and fill in the blanks. My home world was always looking for a new planet to take over. We needed the resources - especially the water and a climate within our boundaries was a perk. This one was too too perfect in all aspects. But, our strict sense of morality wouldn't allow us to just purge and take. No we had to send scouts (like me) there first to gauge if it was worhty of saving, or if we could just jump in with impunity and wipe out the population (humanely) and take it for our own. Well, as I said - a piece of cake. It was riddled with wars, hatred, pestilence and starvation - even with all it's resources. They just didn't like to share. The humans who inhabited it just were too damn aggressive. My supeiors always allowed a minimum six month stay for a scout to make a final determination. Which for me meant a nice working vacation. Our moral sttictures not only covered the superior beings; but also any animals that inhabited the place. I was so looking forward to us grabbing this jewel for ourselves. After the first few months, it came home to me. Ins spite of their shortcomings, fhere were enough good deeds done to give me pause. Not only on a grand scale (all those firefighters running INTO a building that was doomed); but also on a one to one basis. People donating blood and organs for the betterment of their fellow humans. But the final determination that got to me - actually made me sit down and weep - was the totally unselfish life form that lived alongside the humans and somehow made them better. I knew my final report would be - leave this jewel alone. It was the dogs - the darn dogs that tipped the scales. Gotta' love the loyal, furry creaturs. They saved the Earth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love this concept! Really really cool. And Angelo approves.

      Delete
    2. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJuly 10, 2015 at 11:02 AM

      I think I wrote this for Angelo and you of course - LOL.

      Delete
    3. Agreed. Really cool concept. The human world is for the dogs.

      Delete
    4. Ha, I love where this ends up.

      Delete
  4. I could do this.

    I gripped both hands around the closet rod, squeezed as if enough pressure could transform the cheap wood into diamond, and leaned my head into the mass of hangers and clothing. The fabric smelled like cigarettes, like I thought it would, but also of printers’ ink. Damn, that stuff had a half-life that would outlast us all. My own closet—the stuff I never wore anymore—held the same secrets. The circumstances of how we’d met. And made me wonder again why I’d come. She had family close by. A daughter, a son-in-law. I’d met them once. Gray-faced, thin people, mouths set in tight denial when the fact of me surfaced, when they’d surmised that the extra toothbrush in the bathroom wasn’t for scrubbing grout. But that was years ago. What was the statute of limitations on disapproval, on human decency, on stepping up and not being an asshole to your own mother’s memory?

    I came because she’d asked me to. I didn’t want to at first. I thought we were done, thought the last argument and cold front meant the severing of ties, but I guess the cancer scared her into cobbling together a few knots and tugging me back. “They’ll throw it all out in the trash,” she told me, her voice mostly gone. “You take. Take what you need, give the rest to the women at the shop.”

    She meant I should go back there. Pay my respects, show my gratitude to the people who’d taken me in and given me a job when I had nothing but bruises on my body and fear of the next time he’d disapprove of the way I made his dinner. She wanted me to see all those women again, reminding me of what we’d gone through. When all I wanted was to push it away, move forward, keep swimming forward for fear the darkness was closing in.

    I turned my head and my cheek was cradled by the thick shawl collar of a pink sweater. Her work sweater. It sat across the back of her chair for when the print shop floor got too chilly. It smelled like her. Cigarettes, ink, perfume she bought from the Avon lady. And I only imagined that years ago, it might have held the scent of my own shampoo, from all those days I’d run to her for comfort. Damn it. The dark was already catching up. In the depths of my ink-stained heart, I knew the only way to truly be free was to go back, to give history its due.

    I started yanking items off hangers, not even folding them in my haste to make this right. But that pink sweater? I eased it around my own narrow shoulders and hugged my arms tight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From the first sentence, I knew what "she" was doing. But the details --the why and the how and the going back to move forward--those are what makes this piece different and beautiful and real. <3

      Delete
    2. ohmigod... Laurie this is so real and painful... as I sit here crying, the first drops of rain are falling, too... this is seriously beautiful. And the printer's ink is a gorgeous detail. "Mouths in tight denial" is perfect. So is the rest of it.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, agreed with everything above. This is a perfect example of sentiment in fiction. Not sentimental, real with ache.

      Delete
    4. Nancy DeCilio GauthierJuly 10, 2015 at 12:00 PM

      I think we all, or someday will, be obliged to empty the closet of a loved one. The memories of each garment hitting us with emotion. Always a sweater too. That was the one thing I kept of my mom, when I had the task. You flooded me with memories Laurie.

      Delete
    5. Wow, truly heartfelt yet restrained enough to have maximum impact.

      Delete
    6. Terrific stuff! I love particularly how the reader is drawn right in by the scents. Great job!

      Delete
    7. Tremendous, Laurie! A model piece of flash from a master. (Or is that a mistress?)

      Delete
  5. "Did I do anything stupid?"

    He says it and you'd laugh, but you're shaking and there's blood on your palm - half moon slices from ragged nails. You used to have time to take care of them. Now, they're weapons, but they only ever hurt you. Just like he does.

    "Everything you did was stupid. The fact that you don't remember is stupid. What am I going to tell the kids? What the hell am I going to tell our friends? This isn't fucking cute anymore. It never was, but now it's scary."

    "C'mon, you're not scared of me ..."

    "YOU weren't there last night. I was scared. I am scared."

    The air in the room is thick and you can tell the hangover is awful. Sweat beads and slick-mouth regret. But there ain't no complaining about that. He better not say a goddamn word about it - not a fucking word - no pity. That's what you're thinking. Last straws and stands.

    "You mad at me?"

    The air in the room is thick and sweet, sticky. There are tears somewhere waiting, but they're tired of it, too. You think about it, and realize you're not mad. Not at him. Not at the booze. You know what to say, but you can't meet his eyes. You don't want to see them anyway, they tell a story you've read too many times.

    "No. Sadly enough, I'm mad at myself for putting up with this shit. And I'm done."

    There is silence afterwards. Long, fat minutes of it. And then years, decades, eternity.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mader. That last line is like a punch in the guts.

      Delete
    2. Ahhhh.... A story so painful. A story almost all of us have been on one side or the other of.... and four words, four magical words summed it up beautifully: "Last straws and stands." That sir, is proof of astonishing skill and talent. Thanks for sharing.

      Delete
    3. --"No. Sadly enough, I'm mad at myself for putting up with this shit. And I'm done."--

      <3

      Delete
    4. I could say the exact same thing as I said for Laurie's last piece. It's the restraint that packs a bigger emotional punch. You and Leland rocking the second-person today!

      Delete
  6. You stand in the open door. The gentle breeze carries a promise of rain. You see the bridal veil extending below the dark cloud. What was it your mother called them? Mares’ tails. No, that wasn’t quite right. The rain evaporates before it kisses the ground.

    The dog hears the thunder before you do. What must it be like to have such hearing, such a sense of smell? He takes off at a gallop, barking his lungs out at the roaring sound from the threatening sky. He knows lightning brings thunder. An astonishing leap of faith. How can an animal understand cause and effect better than you?

    Your own lightning is in the past. You gave it your all. You threw your heart and soul and muscle and tears into it. Now, you waited for the thunder, if there was to be any. Or maybe no one would notice.

    You know you can deal with rejection. You hope you can deal with success. But what you can’t bear is silence, being ignored, being unnoticed.

    The dog comes back to the door in which you stand. He looks up at you expectantly. He whimpers.

    You tear off your jacket, your shirt, and you run with him, just as the sheets of rain crash down, mares’ tails no more. You and the dog laugh and dance and you fall into the muddy stream. You stand up, astonished that the rain can wash you clean so quickly.

    And then, it’s over. The sun comes out. You feel foolish, shivering outside. The dog leans into you, and looks for your instruction.

    You walk through the door. You check email. There is nothing. And while you worry inside, you miss the rainbow that the dog was trying to show you all along.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a beautifully rendered piece, my friend. I love the controlled prose. And this: "You know you can deal with rejection. You hope you can deal with success. But what you can’t bear is silence, being ignored, being unnoticed." - simple, yet so much power. Well in.

      Delete
    2. Thank you... that means a lot.

      Delete
    3. So gorgeous, Leland, and haunting. And that was exactly the sentence I was going to highlight.

      Delete
    4. What Dan and Laurie said, but also: all of this leads so perfectly (in a rhythmic, pacing sense) to that awesome payoff.

      Delete
    5. I really like how it's over before it's over--and the dog trying to show him the rainbow that was there all along. And yeah, terrific pacing start to finish!

      Delete
  7. The hour of the wolf, and the light slips away like a guilty lover. You stand, arms spread, inhaling the scent of honeysuckle and dog shit. Your mouth is so dry that it wants to fold in on itself. Your cheeks hurt. The night sounds are coming - a chill, ever so brief. Then, you jump.

    The jump is impulsive, but it's been building for years. You've been looking at this building for years. Wondering. Now, the wind lashes by and you wonder where exactly you'll hit. You imagine the splash, the wetness covering - how much - how far will your jump's shadow reach?

    And, then, there is shock and frozen awareness. Your heart clutches and you pull with your arms as hard as you can. Break the surface. You'd always wondered why the Johnsons never use their pool. Shivering now, the answer is obvious.

    Still, you look up at the roof, now impossibly high, and you smile. The night will come, and you won't have to wonder any more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That opening sentence.... KILLER. and the whole thing... microseconds expanded into palpable sensory gifts... and nobody dies at the end. Awesome. But that opening sentence... just wow.

      Delete
    2. Really good. Ever see the movie The Swimmer? Like, that good!

      Delete
    3. Thanks! And nope, never seen it. I'll put it on the list.

      Delete
  8. I don't want to do it - wake up, brush teeth, eat cardboard frozen bullshit because it's easy. I don't want to find a shirt I haven't worn in a while. I don't care whether it's Tuesday or a fucking dream because it's everything now. Sleep is no longer an escape. It's a playground for anxiety and pain.

    I don't want to say good morning when it isn't one. I don't want to smile because it's expected. I don't want to sign off on things I don't believe in. I don't care about your bottom line - I care about sleep and peace and justice. Or I used to. Maybe I will again. But not today.

    I don't want to be the guy who sits and stares at walls, frowning. But, goddamn, I hate the wall.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, no dissin' cardboard. It's high in fiber. But back to the writing... the despair in this is real and tangible.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, I hear despair but also weariness, a weariness of the endless days with their endless expectations.

      Delete
    3. You've hit on something really important, I think. Simply that for a LOT of people nothing is more soul-sucking than that endless repetitive routine of the workplace.

      Delete
    4. Thanks y'all. Routines. Some we depend on, and some kill us slowly, eh?

      Delete
  9. Tommy Pail gibbered, his marshmallow thighs muffling his tears. Tucking his licoriced fingers into his palms, he shuffled further away from the ovens, wary he might melt.

    Elsewhere, closer to the sweets’ vat, Janvier Splatt had already devoured his hands and was thrusting his forearms deeper into his chocolate-smeared maw. Surrounded by creased purple foil, he was shamelessly naked; more intent on licking, chewing and guzzling every piece of himself he could reach, already having snapped off and gobbled down his feet and much of his legs below the knees. Similarly unconcerned, Tasha Gout’s tongue was slithering across her palms, her face contorted as she shuddered with each taste of the soured lemon barley-sugar her hands had become.

    Of course Wilhelm Askew was there too, standing beneath the flashing neon sign declaring ‘You are what you eat!’. “How much obvious could I make it,” he said, shaking his head ruefully.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I fucking love this one. It's like a bad acid trip at Willy Wonka's. This is a cool piece. Put this one in your cool ass piece folder. :) Well done, Mark.

      Delete
    2. LOL, Dan said what I was feeling... it really IS cool ass....

      Delete
    3. Thank you, guys. What can I say, this was such fun to write! :)

      Delete
    4. Trippy! And there's something generous about using such awesome names in a free piece of flash.

      Delete
  10. Traffic moves like blood cells, and grainy smoke filters everything. Forest fires blaze afar. The ardent pack gathers by the edge of the cliff face and we sense it's time.

    I'm watching the burning edge of the sibilant bush and waiting to see how this will evolve, whether a spike-heeled lover will emerge or a stone-cold killer in work boots, one releasing its feminine musk or the other hissing its unfathomable rage.

    Scorched orange. Knowing grimaces. A bright fury. A drop into oblivion. Wait a while and the truth will squirm in calico kitten ecstasy at your feet, reveling in its freedom to broadcast the words no one thinks they want to hear.

    "Speak to me," you say.

    Right. I want. I would spend a full day worshipping at the hot moist core of you, O my woman.

    "Is this speech?" I ask, and you damn near moan—blooming, dreamy, anticipatory.

    You almost understand me; I almost think I get it. Deliver to me your brimming, shimmering chalice. Grok me, absorb me, breathe me, drink me. Which is something rare enough to stop me in my tracks.

    "It says good things, and for that we should revere it," you say.

    Yes. Yes. You are serpentine. Oceanic.

    I hate how narcissistic I sound. You not me are godlike. You glisten while I merely listen. I said I want. How respectable are we? Are we mortal? Confused? Intoxicated? Horny? Ghostlike? Puzzled, alien, and acrid as raccoon tears. Thirsty for salted rims and the sour wild tang of margaritas. Following highways and negotiating solemn guards. Blackish humourless sentinels. Brackish and hidden wonders hearing mordancy in salt flats and tasting the loosestrife arpeggios of minor chords. May we relax and feed brown-paper dime-bag peanuts to fat and homey prairie dogs, while both Dakotas—recent domesticates, and therefore diminished—wheel around some troubled and tawny fulcrum?

    Could it be love? Could it? It's possible.

    "What will survive of us is love," said the long-dead poet, adding, “Irony is the song of a bird that has come to love its cage.”

    We stumble over arcane tales of love dreamed and recounted by flapping garments on clotheslines in purple alleyways at dawn.

    I follow the ragged, steaming pack up through the dry, gap-tooth foothills and into the precipitous drop-offs, snorting their glorious life-death and crotch heat. Keen as goat trails carved into precarious ridgelines. Portentous as a ledge of desecrated nests. All braced for a holy war.

    What are we, that we believe absurdities? What do we know? At what point do atrocities begin? Perhaps where we admit—as was once spoken aloud in Cambodia—"To keep you is no gain, to destroy you is no loss." Perhaps where our loving and kindly neighbours are now named inyenzi. Inexplicable enough to shred the hardest of hearts.

    After we shake our heads, releasing the dust of bewilderment, what in fact do we know? Perhaps only this: that awful things will arrive in the blackest hour of the night to utterly annihilate our lives.

    And one other thing we also know, another desolate thing: "By iron, iron itself is sharpened." — Proverbs 27:17

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Damn. This is awesome, D. The way you create webs to navigate, truly impressive. And every piece is like a Genesis. Your pieces keep writing themselves in the reader's mind. Mine at least. I love this:

      Yes. Yes. You are serpentine. Oceanic.

      Mint. ;)

      Delete
    2. Ha, mint! I get so tired of the same old superlatives.

      And thanks, brother.

      Delete
    3. I always, always read your offerings at least twice... and I'm always glad I do. The first read, I allow myself to just enjoy the texture and the color and rhythm of your gorgeous language... and the second time through to see the form and the function of the words. This is beauty:

      "May we relax and feed brown-paper dime-bag peanuts to fat and homey prairie dogs, while both Dakotas—recent domesticates, and therefore diminished—wheel around some troubled and tawny fulcrum?"

      Always an honor to read your words...

      Delete
    4. I like this one: We stumble over arcane tales of love dreamed and recounted by flapping garments on clotheslines in purple alleyways at dawn. Whew!

      Delete
    5. Oh, that last comment was to Leland!

      Teresa, I think that image comes from a painting I once saw. I think I have mild synesthesia!

      Delete
    6. The particular artistry of your words is a rare and wonderful thing. The mix of mundane and sublime here is aces.

      Delete
    7. Thanks, Laura. :)

      I love that mix of the ordinary and the beautiful. Sacred and profane. Or as you put it so well, the mundane and the sublime.

      Delete
    8. I love the 'trippiness' of this, David. Everything examined and seen afresh. There's nothing mundane about any of your writing, man..

      Delete
  11. Shina Iwahara seethed with latent rage, almost all the time, it seemed like. And folks were always surprised, taken aback even. They saw her big brown eyes and smooth skin and thought she was all sweet and harmless, some dainty little china doll. But deep down, she was even meaner than her big brother Toshio. He didn’t seem as deeply affected, when their parents, Japanese-born academics, were taken away for criticizing the US government too sharply, but he was fifteen, almost an adult by then. Shina was barely twelve when they took her parents away to some god-awful camp in the desert, and she would never forgive, or forget. Toshio had looked after her ever since, but she took an aggressive stance on learning to look after herself; God only knew when Toshio might get himself killed, or incarcerated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really tight character study. Good stuff.

      Delete
    2. Agreed. And I feel like this one has serious legs. You gonna keep it going?

      Delete
    3. She can, and should, be a part of the greater narrative. She's got a bit of a Gogo Yubari thing going on.

      Delete
  12. “Aren’t you tired of playing by the rules?” he asks.

    She looks down at the toes of her ballerina flats. One has a scuff. She resists the urge to wipe at the scuff, polish the toe until it shines again.

    “Rules are there for a reason, though,” she tells him, turning her attention away from her scuffed shoe. “I mean, aren’t they?”

    “Sometimes. But sometimes they’re just there to make sure we all march to the beat of the same drum, and how boring is that?”

    She contemplates conformity for a long moment as she studies him: pressed and creased slacks, grey sweater over white Oxford, blue and grey Windsor-knotted tie. Conformity looks good on him. Or maybe it’s the defiance in his eyes, the messy hair that’s just a little longer than the school’s grooming guidelines allow, and the dirty, scuffed trainers he always wears untied—all the details that mark him as an individual.

    “I guess maybe it’s okay to break some rules, some of the time,” she concedes.

    “Good,” he says. “Good. Because I had this crazy idea for this summer…and it’s not much fun being crazy all alone.”

    She sees the light fill his eyes, a mesmerizing mix of joy and mischief and hope, and she knows she’d follow him on any crazy adventure he might propose, even if she didn’t think he had a point about breaking rules.

    Pushing past the bubble of fear that’s always enveloped her whenever he’s near, she takes his hand in her much smaller one.

    “Cool,” she says. “Sounds better than spending the summer babysitting my bratty brother. What did you have in mind?”





    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like joy, mischief, and hope. This piece is so controlled. Not a wasted word. Although what is it with you Americans who keep spelling grey our way? lol

      Delete
    2. I want to see where this mischief leads... and yeah, anything's better than that babysitting stuff.

      Delete
    3. I've always spelled grey that way. Gray is a name, not a color. And thank you. :)

      Leland, I'm seriously considering writing more about this. I've had it in my head awhile. We'll see. :D

      Delete
    4. Dan spells it with the E too. I'm noticing it a lot more with US authors. Merriam-Webster will be mad at you guys. ;)

      Delete
    5. I can see why you have them in your head. They're pretty vivid in mine!

      Delete
    6. Hey, I had a british accent for a while. And gray is ugly. ;) Awesome piece. You know what strikes me the most? The importance of one word. Trainers. So important. All the details, but that one zoomed me in. Dopeness.

      Delete
    7. There's also the Greyhound Bus Company who will be getting a visit from those notorious wordsters Butch Merriam and Kid Webster.

      Ha, right. Trainers. I missed that. *Also* British. What the hell's going on? A new British Invasion, lol?

      Delete
    8. "trainers"was because I"ve been re-reading the Harry Potter series (UK version).

      Incidentally, I discovered the HP series and fandom when I was about 26, and that is what started me down the road to becoming a published writer. :) (But I've been using "grey" instead of "gray" since forever.)

      Delete
    9. Insanity demands company - otherwise it all goes to waste!

      Great writing, LB! Everyone's on cracking form tonight!

      Delete
  13. Over the din of the television, I turned toward my girlfriend and mumbled, “I got lost the other night.”

    My girlfriend--having muted the TV for a commercial--said, “What do you mean ‘lost,’ like you forgot your way home?”

    “No, I knew my way home…it was just…never mind…just a guy thing.”

    I took a deep breath and recalled how the noise of life subsided that night, how confusion and joy mixed in the warmth of a certain smile, how in that moment I felt free of being who I was and suddenly realized who I am.

    As the volume came back up I closed my eyes and I think I might have grinned as I walked back down that dark path, getting lost again, leaving home…for home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, something elusive and dreamlike about this, in a good way.

      Delete
    2. Getting lost... sometimes it's a really good thing. And this is a good piece.

      Delete
    3. Agreed. Part of me wants answers, but that would weaken the piece. Brave, confident writing. I'm with Antrobus. And Leland. And Teresa. (That's what you call a fancy 'ditto' :) )

      Delete
  14. A white sun beat down from a white sky onto the alkali landscape, where the only primary colors to be seen for miles were the dust-covered blue uniform and bright pink face of Lieutenant Barrow Bigbee.

    “Think they’ll have fresh horses for us at this Gonzalez Station, Zeiter?” Bigbee asked Mule Zeiter, his scout and guide to his first posting here in Arizona Territory after graduating 80th in the West Point Class of 1872.

    The alkali-coated Zeiter turned in his saddle, scanning 360 degrees of horizon, never taking his eyes off the bleached distance. and said, “They sure as hell better, Lieutenant Sonny Boy, or we’ll be hub-deep in the shit pile should some Cibecue Apache boys decide to have us for lunch with their afternoon tizwin.”

    “Am I to believe your magical Apache warriors can stalk and hide in ambush for us behind this stuff?” Bigbee laughed, pointing at the barren white landscape, broken only by a wide scatter of scrub creosote bushes.

    In that instant, the pure whiteness of the scene was marred by the blood spattered from Lt. Bigbee’s head after a .50 caliber bullet from an unseen Cibecue’s Spencer carbine passed through it and into the shoulder of Mule Zeiter, who spurred his spent gelding for all he was worth, hissing in answer, “Yes.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Fantastic. Your stuff here is so versatile.

      Delete
    2. I envy that versatility... and the scene of the blood against the white alkaline desert.... wonderfully gory and colorful!

      Delete
    3. Thanks, guys. Versatile and unpublishable. ;)

      Delete
    4. You just published it. ;) Agreed. This is a great piece and your writing is always interesting. Fresh. I particularly like the repetition of 'White' in the beginning. Works really well. Tried for that in my first piece with the building/building. Didn't work as well.

      Repetition is risky. It paid off. Stellar opening.

      Delete
    5. Good point about repetition. Some will see it as careless and no amount of "but I meant to do it" will convince them. That's the thing with flash, though: we put thought behind every single word. It's more akin to poetry in that way.

      Delete
  15. I'll be back later folks--maybe. I'll go seeking random inspiration, but man, I ain't got much today...:(

    ReplyDelete
  16. My response: Back In her Life: http://wp.me/p4P1hJ-bB

    "What's Up??" Roger asked Molly a few minutes later when he was able to get a few minutes alone

    "What do you mean, 'What's Up' "? Molly asked giving him a sideways glance

    "I don't know...." Roger sighed, "You act like you can't stand to see me or something."

    Molly let out a cleansing breath, "You totally disappear for months. No contact, no word on what's going on.... Nothing... And now you show back up in my life like nothings happened."

    "Molly, I'm....." Roger started

    "Dammit, Roger, I loved you. I cared about you."

    Dammit, she hadn't intended for that last part to slip out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like this one a LOT. It's subtle and seemingly so direct, that last slip up packs a whallop. Good dialogue. I'm repeating myself, but a lot of the pieces today have an air of assurance that is really potent.

      Delete
    2. Such a powerful piece. I wish I'd have written it... It's so very in tune with me. Deceptively awesome!

      Delete
  17. Craig is from New Orleans. You know this before he says a word, before he tells you. You know this because New Orleans guys have bedroom eyes like no one else has. Craig’s eyes are violet. The only other person you’ve ever heard of that has violet eyes is Elizabeth Taylor and you’re pretty sure that she didn’t really have violet eyes but claimed she did for publicity.

    Craig does not need publicity. Craig has a smile that somehow disrobes you and makes you feel glad being naked. Craig has shoulders that are wide and strong. Craig has dark brown hair on his head and on his chest. You know this because your eyes are staring at the base of his neck where the hair flows over the top of his white undershirt, worn under his very proper blue button-down Brooks Brothers oxford.

    Craig should be in movies. Craig should be a model. Craig should be a self-centered, smug, egotistic asshole.

    But he’s not. He asks you your name, and offers his. You shake hands, even though you both feel naked in this room of strangers, this party your friend has thrown in honor of some other friend’s birthday.

    Craig’s voice is quiet, deep, and certain. His words flow like the wisteria blossoms pour from porticos of antebellum plantation houses. Perhaps he lived in such a house. His violet eyes look into your soul, and then at the foyer. You both look around for the host. You despise that eye contact has been broken but feel the echoes of that ocular touch resonate and echo some place deep inside, maybe near your heart.

    You both make your excuses to the host, who eyes you up and down, as if appraising the suitability of you for Craig, and Craig for you. He renders his judgment and places his hand in the small of your backs, lightly pushing you toward the door, toward the future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, that ending is awesome. As is the rest. I can't think of a way to say this without sounding like an dumb asshole, so here goes. I love your pieces and especially ones like this. The romance. And, as a hetero dude, I've always wondered what makes men attractive - beyond the obvious - the subtle details. I've never read anyone who can portray it the way you can. It is making me a better writer. And making me hope someone looks at me that way. Just lovely.

      Delete
    2. That, sir, is a high compliment... and I appreciate it. And you know what? I bet a lot of folks look at you that way... especially your charming wife. Ask her .

      Delete
    3. Such beautiful use of language: "His words flow like the wisteria blossoms pour from porticos of antebellum plantation houses." and "the echoes of that ocular touch resonate and echo some place deep inside, maybe near your heart"

      And of course the ending is just perfect.

      Delete
    4. I asked. "(thirty seconds of blinking and head shaking)" "You've got a good shaped head. That's the first thing I noticed about you. You have good posture when you're standing. And you walk very fast." ;)

      Delete
    5. LOL... Man, she loves your heart and brain and soul n shit. That's even better, 'cause everything else is gonna sag and go to hell.

      Delete
    6. lol. True. I do walk hella fast, though. ;)

      Delete
  18. He wondered what it was all about. Life, love, hate, what was it that drove him on each new day?
    He often thought of the universe, the cosmic expanse of which he was a part, as being a huge brain.
    A consciousness if you will and his life as a passing thought in this mysterious entity. In the same way the people he saw each day passed fleetingly across his mind, in the imagined scenarios he placed them in, did he too find himself to be the random musing of a brooding intellect?
    If this was so, why had this cerebrum decided in all its sagacity condemned him to love someone so completely unattainable?
    He could no more catch the wind in a storm than hope she could love him. She was chaos before the calm and he would fall over the event horizon of her eyes.
    She knew him from another time when she had met him in her reverie.
    After considering him and her notion of him, she dismissed him from her thoughts.
    We think, therefore we are.
    We dismiss, therefore we are not.
    Just a thought……

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. I'm looking for phrases to highlight, but everything is so fucking good, Audrey. This is a stellar piece. Really, really impressive.

      This will stick with me for a while. I hope forever. It's wonderful: She was chaos before the calm and he would fall over the event horizon of her eyes.

      Delete
    2. Dan stole the phrase that will live with me for a long while, too... truly beautiful...

      Delete
  19. I hear the clack clack of the wheels over sidewalk ravines - I can see it. Probably young, pants low-slung. Things ain't changed all that much in 20 years. Except that they have. But that sound, fuck, that sound is a time machine.

    There's something about it. Transportation, flow. Kind of like writing except it hurts more when you fall. And there's shame in that. Never good enough because it always hurt too much. Writing hurts, but in a different way. And the clack clack is more like tickety tick tick tick tick. Ad infinitum. At least I hope so.

    So, let the kids skate. I was never good at it when I was young, and something tells me it's not like riding a bike. I like the sound, though. Someone's going someplace, and, hurt or not, at least they're moving.

    Tickety tick tick Clack.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love how you paint a picture and then turn it into something more. And that one line, "Someone's going someplace, and, hurt or not, at least they're moving." That one line says so much in so few words. Awesome. :)

      Delete
  20. Billy sat with his head bowed eating his breakfast of Fruit Loops in silence. Every now and then he risked a glance at his mum from under his lashes.
    Her face was blotchy from crying and her left eye was swollen shut. Bruises in the shape of his dads fingers fanned the tops of her arms. She winced when she bent to get dads flask from the cupboard.
    William J. Walker sat opposite his son at the table. When Billy chanced a look at his dad, he winked at him and said, “You’re coming out with me today son. You’re big enough to help your old dad and that wall in the north field won’t fix itself.”
    Billy heard his mum gasp but didn’t dare acknowledge her, Instead he held his fathers steady gaze and replied, “Yes sir.” He had never felt such hatred for anything in his life before like he did for his father that morning.
    They left a short time later but not before his dad had grabbed his mother by the hair and whispered obscenities in her ear. On impulse Billy red maan and hugged his mother briefly and followed his father out into the cold morning.
    They walked for more than a mile to reach the north field where part of a stone wall had collapsed during a storm. His father rambled manically during their trek, informing him that a woman like his mother needed a firm hand. It was for her own good, he said. She just didn’t listen to him and she was his wife and if he didn’t teach her a lesson then who would. He grabbed Billy by the shoulders and told him if he told a single soul about what he’d done to his mum then he’d have to teach him the same kind of lesson. Folks just wouldn’t understand, that’s why their women were out of control.
    Billy nodded in agreement and dad cuffed him round the ear and laughed, “I’ll make a man of you yet, Billy lad!”
    The wall comprised of a double row of big stones built in the old way, without mortar.
    They piled all the fallen stones in a huge pile to one side. His father bent to show him how it was done. The ancient art of dry stone walling. “You fetch me the stones as I need ‘em and watch and learn, fella,” dad said.
    Billy hefted the first few stones and his father laid the base. He knelt in concentration as Billy stood holding the next stone. He looked down at this man who was his father and images of his mother, broken and bruised filled his vision. The stone he was holding was heavy and his arms ached. “Right, bring it down lad,” his father said.
    Billy brought the stone down hard onto his fathers head. Warm sticky blood spattered his face as the force split William J. Walkers skull open.
    Billy worked for the rest of the day fixing the dry stone wall. His dad would have been so proud of him. It was perfect and a fitting memorial and his fathers last resting place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This one hurts, but the ending ... yep. Visceral and powerful writing, lady. I keep rereading the end. Just a thought ... what if you ended it here: "“Right, bring it down lad,” his father said." Let the reader see it for themselves?

      I don't know. I like the violence of retribution ... ah, conflicted! :) Regardless, great piece.

      Delete
    2. oh wow.... I gasped out loud.brilliant concept and really good execution!

      Delete
  21. Find the differences. You keep counting on conformity to save you, and you're gonna die lonely. I don't want a perfect lily. I'll take a busted pine cone covered in sap. Shit sticks with you - pretty flowers come and go.

    All the things you feel like you should do? Don't fucking do 'em. The things you want to do? Get at that shit. Procrastinate. Get drunk if you still can. Watch a stupid movie. Write that novel. Learn to paint. Make a pie. Shave your head and put on a fucking mini skirt. Bonus points if you're a dude.

    Or be beige. I don't care. Don't mean shit to me. I'll be spinning like a rainbow colored dreidel singing Muskrat Love as loud as I can. Lifted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A heady anthem if ever I've read one... seriously, this is great advice and well-written...

      Delete
  22. Take these pills. They might help you. And there's only a 15% chance that you'll go blind, experience nervous seizures, lose your sense of taste, choke on your swollen tongue. The chance that those chemicals might take the edge of life? Hell, that's gotta be worth risking a limb for.

    Or you could just fucking relax. Life's hard. That's the point. If life's easy, you're doing it wrong. You need to get your hands in that shit, smell the blood. Slip in the pools of humanity's dainty disaster.

    Whatever you do, make sure you do it loud. Ain't you been paying attention? That's all that matters nowadays. Believe that? Of course you do. Dumbfuck.

    It's cool. Really. Future generations will thank you. When all the other jokes have been retold too many times, they'll still be able to look back at smile. What kind of smile? That's not up to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pills are the answer... wait until they perfect the facelift pill. Then we'll know what kind of smile... the kind of perpetual smile that results in a forever slightly surprised look, even in the midst of ennui.

      Delete
  23. I am so sorry. I could not heal you. I am so sorry you did not hear.
    Did you ever see the Empath on that episode of Star Trek? Who would take your disease and make it her own? She trembled and wept and nearly refused and sent her silent message over light years of miles.
    I cannot help you, she whispered. I have not the cure.
    Yet she would lay her hands upon you and eat all your sins
    And , mute, turn away, alone?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ohmigosh... this is beautiful... and that star trek episode is one of my all time favorites. It's called The Empath. Wow. I can' believe anyone else remembers it, and evoked it so beautifully.

      Delete
    2. Yep. This goes right to the heart.

      Delete
  24. This is what you do the night before.

    You empty the backpack out onto the bed, and look at your checklist one more time. The sleeping bag, check. The tent, check. The tiny camp stove, water bottles, the pocketknife your uncle gave you. Matches. A lighter in case you run out of matches. Clean underwear. Extra socks. The pocket Bible, in a plastic bag, to protect it from the weather. A rain poncho. On and on.

    At last you are sure you have everything you can need and yet carry. You slide down to the floor. You hold your head in your hands. You wonder how it came to this.

    You try reframing. It's worked so many times before. This will be a new adventure. This will be exciting.

    But the words ring hollow.

    You hope you didn't forget anything. You hope nothing gets lost.

    You hope you do it right. You hope you survive. Tomorrow, you are without a home. There are no second chances.

    ReplyDelete
  25. And one slightly morbid, slightly funny offering:

    Our town’s name gives away everything about it, though it might sound just slightly optimistic: Despair. Despair, Nevada, Population 5, the sign said. Well, when the sign was put up, it said 12, but as the residents died, some enterprising soul drug a step ladder out to the pockmarked highway and crossed out the number, subtracted one, and painted the new number.
    This year, it was Carolyn’s turn. Mighty fine woman, that Carolyn. Always a helping hand for them that needed it. A little food, a shoulder to cry on, and flowers. How that woman got her garden to grow in this dessicated landscape was a mystery to all.

    And when the funerals came, she made flower arrangements for all of ‘em. Carnations and roses and mums and ones we didn’t even know the names of. Purty they were.

    Sad thing, though, when it was time for her funeral, there wasn’t a single flower blooming, not one blossom. It was like the earth itself mourned her passing. None of us’d dream of silk or plastic flowers for our Carolyn.

    It was a great surprise, then, when as the eulogy was about to be preached by the reverend Paul that the doors of our little rattletrap church opened and four dozen American Beauty roses were delivered by some guy who removed the card from the envelope.

    “Well, it’s highly peculiar, but go on, young man, read the card.”

    We all leaned in, wondering who would do such an extravagant thing.

    “With the gratitude of the people of the United States, we mourn the passing of Carolyn Jenner, once known as Bradley, husband to or wife of Caitlin, once known as Bruce, neither of whom have been known as Kardashians.”

    After a “Praise the Lord for that!” the reverend Paul passed right out, and so did the Widow Miniscus.

    The population number ain’t been changed yet. It’s none too clear if we’ll be down to 2 or to 3.

    The Lord works in mysterious ways.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Finally finished these wonderful pieces; thank you all SO MUCH!
    Now, on to todays' masterpieces.

    ReplyDelete

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