Friday, August 28, 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'd think there wouldn't be much for me to do in the museum, being blind and all. Folks don't understand. See, if your eyes work, the museum is a feast of color and texture and all the other stuff y'all go on about. For me, the museum is a symphony. I hear old folks with their walkers rolling along. I hear groups of school kids running, shouting. I hear people laughing and babies crying. And then there are brief moments when everything is still. The sound of that stillness is like a tidal wave building. The tension is so thick, it chokes me up.

Sometimes people sing. You'd be amazed the way some people can sing. For instance, Hazel, who cleans up sometimes. She always says 'hi' to me, then she goes about her business, humming, singing little scraps of song. Just doodling. And it's beautiful. By God, it's so pretty sometimes I can't breathe.

I ain't saying I don't appreciate the sentiment, because I do. But while you're feeling sorry for me, I'm feeling sorry for you.


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

127 comments:

  1. Ah, I love this... and you are amazing in your ability to get inside your characters' skin and heads... well done!

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    1. Agreed, not only get inside them but create such fascinating ones.

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    2. I love how you get into the senses. I can almost hear Hazel singing. Nice!

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    3. 'Sometimes people sing' stuck with me. Happy and sad, and all the in between.

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    4. and the way you imply, but never actually say how other senses become so much more acute when one is not available. Beautifully drawn!

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    5. Ah, it looks like I can comment from here! I can finally say: Good job! :)

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  2. That summer, he walked in the company of sunflowers. At night, his streetlamps were stars and the moon—when she was not otherwise occupied. He fingerpainted his name with creekmud on bridges he’d never cross again.

    Somewhere in Kansas, a great shadow of a dog began walking alongside him. Whether a spirit or alive, he did not know, and it did not matter. She liked walking, too.

    He began speaking to her at the imaginary line that separates the Sunflower State from Colorful Colorado. At first it was one side of the conversation that travelers are familiar with “Look at that flower over there.” “Looks like it’s going to be another scorcher today.” Eventually it metamorphosed into a soliloquy about where he was born, went to school, the loves he had known, the sorrows.

    Just outside of Denver, before the suburbs, he was out of words. He looked into the dog’s golden eyes. “And I guess now you know more about me than anyone.”

    The dog tilted her head, as if weighing his words, his many, many words. “You speak a lot, but you say little.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “You tell me what you’ve done, whom you’ve known. What you are running from. But what are you running to?”

    They did not speak again for a thousand miles. Sometimes the best part of travel is letting strangers be strangers.

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    1. Really strong images set the scene so well. Dogs are great listeners, which is a tribute to them considering what they often have to hear. Yet somehow they remain raptly attentive.

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    2. Oh. This snuck up on me. So powerful. And exactly what Ed said.

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    3. Nice job, Leland! The depictions, the journey, and that punch line! Well done!

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    4. Ditto Ed, and loving the magical realLeland. As always.

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    5. "What am I running to? I'm not supposed to think about that..." ;) Good stuff!

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  3. Just getting from Dallas to Los Angeles was pretty interesting, and that was only the beginning of Charlie McAuliffe’s journey. After that fateful blow-up with his father, he gathered a rucksack full of his things, and his mother quietly slipped out and drove him to the train station in downtown Dallas, giving him a hug, slipping him two hundred dollars, and urging him to stay safe. There, he stowed away on a freight train headed toward Lubbock with this scruffy, wild-eyed, mixed-race kid named Rufus. The two boys spent hours cooped up together in that half-empty train car, watching the prairie fly by, until the train stopped. By then, it was dark out, the big West Texas sky studded with stars, lit only by the scant few lights of the Lubbock train station. Charlie had fallen asleep for maybe an hour or two, but woke up to Rufus jogging his sneakered foot and hissing, “Yo, git up! The bulls gonna be here any minute, kid!”

    Hastily, Charlie gathered his things and followed Rufus in jumping out of the train car. Rufus whispered, “Keep ya head down, these niggas come strapped. They’ll shoot yo’ ass in a minute if they catch you slippin’.”

    Charlie didn’t tell Rufus that he was strapped too: he managed to hold onto the Remington .45 that got him expelled from high school, and still had a couple magazines worth of ammunition. He didn’t tell Rufus that he had any money either; he didn’t doubt that Rufus would steal it given the chance. He held his typically-honest tongue as he and his new friend skulked through the Lubbock train yard. Rufus asked, “Y’all ever been to Lubbock before?”

    “Naw, never been west of San Antonio.”

    “I know a spot we can chill, c’mon.”

    Rufus led Charlie away from the train yard a bit, to a patch of desert scrubland lit by oil drum fires, and the orange-red of the impending sunrise. A contingent of fellow transients had pitched tents and made camp there: someone even had a small generator running to power a boombox, but Charlie’s nose could easily tell which way the privy trench was.

    As they approached, a rangy, grimy-looking white youth with facial tattoos smiled and called out, “Ayo! Who the fuck is y’all?”

    “We just chillin’ ‘til the next train west, bruh!”

    As Rufus and Charlie approached, the face-tattooed young man narrowed his eyes, then smiled, “Oh shit! Rufus! How the fuck you livin’, my ninja?”

    Rufus returned the congenial smile, leaned in for a hug and gave some skin, before replying, “Oh, you know how I do, cuz. Never sleepin’, never stayin’ in one place for long, I bounce like a bad check. We hadda duck the bulls, probly missed the jump-off to ABQ.”

    “Yeah? Y’all headed west for the winter?”

    “You know it boy. I ain’t gonna freeze my ass off this time. I’ma spend this winter chillin’ in a park in LA, smokin’ blunts and eatin’ outta the dumpsters at Whole Foods and all the fancy restaurants in Hollywood.”

    “Nice! Who’s this lil tenderfoot?”

    “Charlie, met him at the station in Dallas. He’s cool, he ain’t got nowhere else to be.”

    “Welcome to the wasteland, Charlie! I’m Slicer, c’mon. Y’all hungry? Want a drink?”

    Realizing he hadn’t had anything to eat in hours, Charlie readily took Slicer up on his offer: a hot dog, a bun, and a segment of an old wire hanger, on which to roast it over a fire. While Charlie roasted the sausage over the fire with one hand, Slicer opened a quart of High Life and put it in the other. Caught off guard a bit, Charlie blurted, “oh, thanks, uh, what do I owe you?”

    Slicer just chuckled and replied, “Nothin’ cuz, we lifted like three cases of these off a truck this morning. Easy come easy go, right?”

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    1. Really interesting characters you've created there. Damn, this looks like a fun ride!

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    2. Yeah, this is a really well constructed piece, D. I like it a lot. The dialogue is dope. And it makes me want to hop a train.

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    3. Yep, me too! I'm right there with them.

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    4. Sounds like Charlie's in for quite an education. Good stuff!

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  4. Charlie leaned back against an old wheelie bin, tried to relax and enjoy his slightly-charred hot dog and quart of beer, watching the other transients as they drank, ate, and tried to enjoy their meager lives. It was alright for now, but he didn’t want to do this longer than he had to. He listened to Rufus and Slicer having a side conversation:

    “What’s up with Charlie? He your little Angelina?”

    “Fuck you. I ain’t no faggot, ask your old lady. He just fresh meat, we been kickin’ it ‘cuz he happened to be going the same way.”

    Charlie watched the sun rise, and the party turn increasingly debauched: when he smelled something odd, and asked Rufus what it was, the reply was “Yeah, those fools busted out the tina.” When Charlie gave him a quizzical look, he clarified, “They smoking meth.”

    Most of the others were dozing in their tents by the time the sun was up. Charlie had dozed off for an hour or two, again, but woke up to a girl shouting, “back the fuck up off me! Stop it!”

    He glanced over, and saw a girl, no older than himself, on the ground, trying to scuttle away from the three grubby, horny tweakers grabbing her ankles and trying to yank her dusty black jeans off. Equally repulsed, and simply annoyed at having his sleep interrupted again, Charlie muttered, “oh HELL no.” Rufus was still asleep some ten feet away, so Charlie stood up, drew his gun, and quickly checked to make sure it was in the same condition: safety on, seven in the magazine and one in the chamber.

    That confirmed, he walked purposefully over. They didn’t notice him, because he walked quietly and they were so intent on their prey. So he touched the muzzle of the gun to one of their heads and asked, in his most authoritative tone, “Excuse me, but what the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

    That was a rhetorical question, though. He didn’t bother waiting for an answer. Well, he waited maybe one second before he pulled the trigger, splattering brains onto the scrubland floor, and others around him. The others were just startled, scared, and Charlie couldn’t think of a reason not to, so he summarily executed the other two, one bullet to each head.

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    1. Again, complex characters with implied epic backstories drawing the reader in with dark promise that are obviously meant to be kept.

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    2. Yup agreed. Although this one quells my hobo ambitions ...

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    3. What JD said. I'm revising my opinion on who's going to get an education...

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    4. You missed; he thumbed off the safety.

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    5. I had such a sense of foreboding reading this. Well done!

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  5. Demarco Parker sits alone in the dark living room of his paid off ranch style three bedroom in Northeast Portland. On the coffee table in front of him sits an unopened bottle of Vodka. Next to the bottle is his smart phone which is displaying 7:15 pm. His attention is split between the only two items before him on the table but in his mind the table is much more cluttered. Lt. Parker. Portland PD Homicide division. Retired as of today. A long career of pretty much worn shoe leather and patience. Years of consoling family and making promises that were nearly impossible to keep yet, Demarco kept as many as he could.
    Underneath all the years on the job were the memories of the cost to his personal life. The irony is that one of the things that made Demarco so good with the survivors of tragedy was the fact that he was such a miserable failure at handling his own losses.
    He could feel the old familiar pain rising up in his soul once again. Almost like an old friend by now, Demarco only knew of only two remedies for it. One was the bottle in front of him. To get drunk beyond pain and stay that way for days on end. The other was to get sober and stay that way for years one day at a time. He reached into a pocket and took out a chip. Turning it over and over in his hands with the practiced skill of a magician he rose to his feet, switched on a lamp, and grabbed his phone. After pocketing the phone and the chip, Damarco put the Vodka back in the kitchen cabinet behind a bag of Chips Ahoy cookies. It was about a ten minute walk to the recreation center and the meeting was at 7:30. As he closed and locked his front door he swore softly under his breath. Letting himself back in he said aloud,“Almost forgot the cookies!”

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    1. I love this. The forgotten cookies takes the heat out of it just the right amount. Awesome portrait. And I love this: "To get drunk beyond pain and stay that way for days on end. The other was to get sober and stay that way for years one day at a time."

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    2. I really like the bio you've painted of him... and those forgotten cookies made him human. But I'm missing a point here... what sort of chip are we talking about? poker chip is my best guess? or a memory chip? Sorry, sometimes I'm dense!

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    3. Yay, he's going to have tea, not vodka :) Love it.

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    4. Leland, its a sobriety chip. ;). Do you think I should have given that away. Kind of liked letting it hang that way... and your not dense. The reader who said it was a potato chip, now HE is dense.

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    5. I like the chip. It's mysterious to some but not those who can relate. Adds a cool chipside. ;)

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    6. of course! I should have known that! I always think of them as for a period of time... a 30 day chip, a 1 year chip... I really should have picked up on it...

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    7. Aw, I love this guy. Nice job.

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    8. Damn Leland, that would add a lot. Now I've got to think what year chip the guy should have. Anyone here in AA? Oh, wait, Anonymous... never mind. :D

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    9. I've spent some time (okay, all my life) around 12 steppers. I think you'd want it to be more than a year since you said "years" ... I'm feeling around five years... here's a place where you can buy chips (aka coins or medallions) http://www.my12stepstore.com/medallion-years.html

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    10. Thanks Leland, I've made amends and just made it a Bronze colored chip which could be any number of years, but over a year anyway. Not all AA groups give them. Sometimes they are purchased for a friend, there is no set code as far as color. I think my guy would have like 10 or more years sober, but I'll let his actions speak for his sobriety. Lets just say that unopened bottle has been in the Kitchen Cabinet quite awhile. :)

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    11. ...I thought it was a poker chip...but then I couldn't figure out why he'd be flipping it (heads, vodka; tails, life). Just call me clueless. ;)

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  6. 2 parter---
    But he wasn’t the only one, that summer. Dicky Chase was next; his passing sent a shockwave through the town that reverberated for months, like some terrible secret people suspected but couldn’t imagine what it was.

    Yet his passing off Sweeney’s Point on a hot July afternoon wounded us all in some unspoken way. It wasn’t just that two more boys had succumbed to the draft and Irene Mason’s only son lit out for Canada. That summer, the high school girls still hung around the magazine racks and the fountain at the pharmacy, wearing bright pink lipstick and tight dungarees. But something had changed, you could feel it. An uneasiness mirrored in their nervous expressions as they smiled and flirted, trying to command the love of the boys who were left. But Dicky—the football captain and champion debater. The one with the scholarship and the easy laugh. In middle age, he might have made some sad cliché, but in youth his going made us doubt the kind of God who allowed such things. As if that heavenly power had suddenly turned greedy, snatching away our sense of the future and leaving in its place a nameless dread. After the funeral, I more than once crossed the street just to avoid having to look his mother in the eye. We didn’t know the half of it yet, you see. We didn’t have the answers. Dicky’s dying brought that stark truth home.

    Sweeney’s Point lay a couple of miles from the edge of town, hidden deep in the state park off the highway. It was named, they say, for the original Sweeney, a drunken Irishman who fell off the cliff in the dark. You crossed on foot from the road into a tangle of wooded green, only to emerge on a high rock formation that hovered over the north end of Devil’s Lake, a glacial souvenir whose true depth has never been determined. The lookout provided a stunning view and the cliff a natural attraction for foolhardy kids with nothing to do. It was the kind of a place made for legends--a forty foot drop into the swirling, root-beer colored waters below. A place where you almost had to be a kid to be stupid enough to make the jump, assured in that way that only teenagers can be of your own immortality; fueled by a six pack of pilfered lager and the grin of the girl who came in on your arm. But they did it anyway, in an endless display of cannonballs and somersaults and swans.

    He’d made the dive a hundred times, his friends said later. This time wasn’t any different. He’d stepped up right after Bill Newsome who was showing off an inverse tuck. He’d even flashed Bill a thumbs-up after making sure he’d surfaced and was well out of range. A shy girl named Cindy Dawson tagged along that day, hauling an enormous transistor radio and the Troggs were blasting Wild Thing loud enough to frighten the birds. Dicky backed up, made the Sign of the Cross and took four long running strides to make the dive; arms extended, back straight, legs in position.

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  7. Then somewhere in mid air, it all went wrong. He bent double, Bill Newsome said: “Like somebody snapped a twig.”Then he started flailing his arms and pumping his legs, trying to steer himself back on course, away from the rocky bank—back to the deep water. Then, the witnesses said, he just—stopped, hitting the water like a rag doll while the rest of them could only watch from high up above. Cindy Dawson was too timid to watch any of it. But she insisted to the Sheriff that she saw a flash of light from the ridge to the west just after Dicky went off the edge. “Could have been anything,” he told me later. “Sunspots, maybe. A reflection on chrome from a passing fender.” He didn’t even bother to mark it down.

    Our Sheriff is a decent man with two sons of his own. He does a fine and thorough job of upholding the law, but death often operates by no law that we know. I cannot help but wonder if he thought of his own sons that day as he pulled Dicky from the drink. He’d been carried some distance by the spring-fed current and the rains that year brought down branches and boulders along its path. Dicky’s body was pretty beat up by then, from the photos. There was no autopsy, either. It was enough, he told me for the mother to know it had been an accident, giving her the sad consolation that at least it wasn’t some overdose, or worse, suicide.

    They never saw the puncture deep at the base of Dicky’s neck—never pulled the slim triangular metal dart from where it had embedded in his flesh, just below his longish hair.

    We did not know then, what we know now. For all of our fears, no one dared imagine the truth. Or any of the victims to come.

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    1. Oh my, but this is good stuff. Set in my era too! Do continue...

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    2. Yeah, keep going! This is awesome. So solid. And the rootbeer water? Perfect image.

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    3. Oh, what a twist! The scene setting is well done indeed... the transistor radio was a perfect prop to do that... Is this going to be a part of something larger? I wanna read more!

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    4. Full disclosure: It's occurred that a lot of these flash fic, small town vignettes I seem to be so fond of here might make a novel, so I'm experimenting with a sort of supernatural mystery where the "omniscient" narrator weaves them all together to tell the story, only isn't really "omniscient" at all but functions more as the witness--a kind of Greek chorus. How'm I doing? any thoughts? Much appreciated!

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    5. I like that concept a lot... it's going to be tricky to pull off, but you have the skills to do it... play with a plural first person narrator (kinda like you did here, with the "we did not know") or singular, and see which is most effective... also play with whether the reader gets to know at the end of the story who the narrator is, or whether that remains a mystery... It'll also be interesting to see how you sequence and connect them... are they like dominoes where one ending triggers the next beginning, or are they more free form? Like I said, I think it's a great concept, but don't bamboozle yourself into thinking it will be easy... be prepared for some rewrites until it feels right.

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    6. Da... da... da.... can see the cliffhanger music spilling out at the end of the episode :) I like the scene-setting of the teenagers' lives and how they kind of dance with death, not caring, not fearing anything. Like they have eternity and they're invincible.

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  8. The prayer droned on, in a language that flowed in Jude’s blood but which she’d never bothered to learn. It had been irrelevant to her daily life, to the running of her businesses, to the raising of her child. The man in the box at her feet would have felt the same way, and outrage rose in her chest that these words were being said over his body. He had told her so, the last time they woke up together, one of those lazy Sundays in bed where, naturally, thoughts turn to end-of-life decisions. Actually, he’d started the conversation, an echo of melancholy following the death of a mutual friend.

    “Is that why you called me?” Jude was already out of the blankets. “A fear of your own mortality?” He’d tried to explain otherwise. He’d tried to charm her. It almost worked, but then she reminded herself why she’d divorced him in the first place. That was the last time she’d seen him, but now, all arguments were forgotten, forgiven. Except for one, which she would need to take up with a higher authority. That of all the men she’d married, why did she have to lose the only one she’d ever loved?

    “Mom.” Ethan’s nudge broke into her thoughts. He pointed toward the rabbi, who was handing her the shovel.

    She shook her head. “No,” she said, and then said it louder. “This is not how this is going to go down. This is not what he would have wanted.”

    Later, she knew she’d have a lot to answer for. The scowls on the faces of his grieving parents, for one. But they didn’t know Lev anymore. Had barely spoken to him since he left the fold. This was a rite for them, an obligation.

    Jude did take the shovel from the rabbi. But she stabbed it into the ground at her feet like Moses’ staff. “We are here to celebrate the life of one of the best men I ever knew.”

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    1. Excellent. To those of us who have suffered an orthodox funeral this is a celebration of freedom from the pessimistic dogma of so called "bad luck" and the rending of garments. Thank you.

      By the way, am I the only one who has hit sign out when they meant publish and felt too stupid to mention it? Yeah, I thought I was... Now if I could just quit hitting comment when I meant reply ...

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    2. Wonderful! The whole conflict between the ritual and the man and the relatives? Of who wants what? GREAT!

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    3. Heartbreaking and beautiful... this line is definitely going into my "I wish I'd written that" file: "That of all the men she’d married, why did she have to lose the only one she’d ever loved?"
      Thanks for sharing!

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    4. And Ed, I'm having issues too... When I look at the page in Safari it's taking forever to load after each posting, whether comment or reply. I changed to firefox and all is as it should be.

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    5. This is such a strong piece. I have never experienced it, but I can feel it. Leland grabbed my favorite line. Well in, G.

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    6. I love how Jude takes over the service and makes it just as Lev would have wanted it to be.

      And Ed, you're not the only one who signs yourself out instead of posting. :/

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  10. “I would have thought you'd be wanting to take me home soon,” she said, dabbing at her lips with a napkin.

    Alexander pushed his shoulders backwards, studying the woman beside him. Slim, purple-lipped and with an indefinable guile about her, she'd joined him at his table, appearing there while he'd been busy about some other business. Of course, she'd been sitting on the chair opposite then but that'd been a couple of vodkas and mixers ago, and he suspected the friend that had stood her up today had never known she'd been expecting him to meet her. Or that he even existed.

    “You're a very forthright woman,” Alexander mused, conscious of the warmth of her thigh against his. “But I could have been waiting here for someone. Had you thought about that?”

    The woman turned and tilted her head back, gazing at him speculatively but still keeping her eyelashes seductively low. “You could, I'll admit, but you never once looked at your watch in the whole sixty minutes I was watching you. Or looked up when someone walked in from outdoors. That's not not the behaviour of a man meeting a friend. Or a business contact.” She raised her hand to her mouth and drew one grape-coloured nail along her lower lip. From left to right and then back again. “Not at all.”

    “No. That's true.” Alexander stretched upward, turning so as to avoid jabbing her in the chest with his elbow. His face sagged for a moment. “Maybe I came out to be alone in company. To swim in the sea without needing to be part of a shoal. Letting others flow past, not needing to be part of their lives. Both inert and dissoluble.“ He smiled as if he'd forgotten the trick of it; as though it were a conscious act he'd not practised for some time. Then he shrugged. “People-watching.”

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    1. Ohhh... what a scene you've painted... and beautiful word choices all... "inert and dissoluble" is delicious, and so is the picture of her drawing her nail across her lips... now I want to know what next... is he a serial killer? Is she? Do they go home together? WHAT WHAT WHAT?

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    2. This is one I'm certainly following up on. Watch this space... coming very soon!

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    3. Yeah, I need to know. You know what I like the most (it's all dope). The penultimate bit of dialogue seems so wooden. Constructed. Then you throw in People-watching and it turns the whole thing around. REALLY cool effect, brother.

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    4. I think he needs to run :) It's cool.

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    5. I'm with Vickie, the dude needs to beat feet. Still, I'm guessing he won't and it will be more fun for all of us. Watching in anticipation.

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    6. He's either a writer or an actor, with dialogue like that last paragraph. :D It will be interesting to see what happens next.

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  11. Smoke

    Grey smoke lists
    Twists in the echoes
    Of an endless night

    Moments of indecision
    Breaking under pressure
    Until life pauses
    Offering itself alive
    To be savoured

    He sees her as she is
    In tunnel vision
    Soft as the sea’s roar
    Penetrating his shell

    She seeks and finds him
    Here in the dawn
    A blanketed man
    Raw in his openness
    Hopeful of high heart
    Aching to know it all

    He senses
    A reflection drawn
    And set apart
    Yet completing him
    As she lifts her head
    To utter a kiss

    She saves his smile
    A treasured thing
    So fragile and fleeting
    To keep her warm
    On the journey back
    To herself.

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    1. The "I wish I had written that" feeling has never been stronger than this last stanza :
      She saves his smile
      A treasured thing
      So fragile and fleeting
      To keep her warm
      On the journey back
      To herself.

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    2. Thanks, Ed. It's about two people who connect, but have to part. That part took me the longest. I wanted it to be bitter sweet.

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    3. Aww--sigh, Vickie. So beautifully done. Enough even to give a crusty old broad like me the goosebumps!

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    4. It's all beautiful, but I'm with Ed... the last stanza is perfect... well done!

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    5. Yup. I'm dittoing Ed again. And this is gorgeous.

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    6. Thank you! I was trying for romantic :)

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    7. "To utter a kiss" - I wish I'd written that. Nice job. :)

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  12. Anger boiled up from within, eating at her happy mood like flames running through autumn leaves.

    The coffee pot smashed into a million pieces in the sink. The little dog went flying across the floor. The front door was flung open and random items were flung out, sailing up and over the porch railing. She didn't care where they landed.

    Spittle flew as she cursed and raged. A torn fingernail began to bleed. Two toes began to darken, the pain of the broken bones unnoticed.

    Like a dervish she raced through the house. A cat lay like broken doll. Cushion foam from the Italian leather sofa littered the floor like confetti.

    Nothing was safe from the rage, the tearing, shattering, killing... the whirlwind of emotions gone insanely unchecked.

    She slammed into a wall, knocking her head against a door-jam. She slid to the floor, semiconscious for a moment. When she regained her senses, she looked around.

    It took a moment for the damage to sink in. The little dog cowering away from her. The cat dragging himself across the floor to find some shelter. The rearrangement of her life in bits and pieces and tatters all around.

    The scream brought the neighbors. She could not speak, only cry in great wrenching sobs.

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    1. God, what a scene! And SO nice that you let her actions, all those details do the talking and never once "explained". Good job!

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    2. Rage... so well and deeply portrayed. Well done!

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    3. Yup. I was going to say exactly what Teresa said. Really deftly played. And it made me anxious ... which is good. Super strong.

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    4. Pure violence made real. Good job!

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    5. Y'know, writing coaches always say not to use the passive voice, but this is the perfect situation for it: "The front door was flung open and random items were flung out..." Like it's not her wreaking the havoc, but something outside of her. Awesome job, Ann. :)

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  13. "Is it wrong that I don't regret anything?"

    I stopped dragging my forefinger through the sweat from my glass and looked at Gigi. We had been at the bar for a couple of hours, and I had carefully built a pleasant after-work buzz for myself. Her mood, however, had apparently slipped over the edge toward moroseness. Morosity? I couldn't remember which was correct. Maybe I was drunker than I thought.

    "What do you mean?" I asked, forestalling any closer examination of the level of my inebriation.

    She had slumped to one side, the hand holding up her chin at about a 45-degree angle to the table. Her other hand played with the tiny straw in her drink. "I dunno," she said, her words not nearly as slurred as I expected them to be. "But you know how they say you shouldn't die with regrets?"

    "You're not dying," I said with a laugh.

    "That's not what..." Her face scrunched in annoyance. She sat up straight and took a swig of her drink, one manicured finger cocked to keep the straw aside. "What I meant was, people talk about regrets like they collect them or something. 'Oh, I'm sorry I never did this,' or 'I wish I'd never said that.' You know?"

    I nodded, thinking of my own carefully-dusted closet full of emotional baggage. "So you don't regret anything?"

    "Nope."

    "Not even Ivan?"

    She checked the glass halfway to her lips and sputtered a laugh. "Ivan was a disaster."

    "Of course he was." Ivan was a classic narcissist and a master at gaslighting. I'd talked Gigi off the ledge, figuratively speaking, countless times in the year they dated. "But don't you regret getting involved with him?"

    She stared at me. "Is that what they mean by regret?" At my nod, she said, "Why would I regret that? It got me into therapy. And now I know how not to be taken in by a guy like him, ever again."

    I doubted the last part. I'd been bamboozled by a few fast talkers myself over the years, and their resemblance to one another usually only became apparent in hindsight. Still, I said, "I guess that's one way to look at it."

    "See?" she said, pointing her dripping straw at me. "That's what I learned in therapy -- how to look at things differently."

    "Mind games," I said, shaking my head.

    "No," she said, with drunken conviction. "Not mind games at all. Everything happens for a reason. You just have to figure out what the reason is. Then -- poof! -- all your regrets are gone." She threw her hands up, and the little straw went flying. We dissolved into giggles, and I flagged down the waitress for another round.

    Later, my ears still buzzing in the quiet of my apartment, I thought about what Gigi had said, and wondered whether my own carefully-tended baggage closet couldn't use a closer look.

    Of course, I forgot after I sobered up. And later, of course, I regretted it.

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    Replies
    1. Ohhhh... you're evil, leaving us hanging like that! This was beautiful... and I totally believe in the characters... well done!

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    2. Really love this! How these characters walk that line between in vino veritas and illusion...

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    3. This might be perfect. I was going to say really fucking great, but that last line. Talk about sticking the landing.

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    4. Really believable dialogue. You got it sucked. Even when inebriated :)

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    5. Like Vickie said, you don't feel its fiction while your reading it. It is that real.

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    6. Thanks, you guys. It felt like the beginning of something when I wrote it.

      I wanted Gigi to bang on the table when she said no, but then the straw would've flown off too soon. :D

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  14. The sky glowed apocalyptic orange by the time the man and his daughter had set up camp in the mountains of northern New Mexico. As the sun sank behind its rufous horizon, the campfire was lit, and there was firewood enough to last at least two days.

    The man watched his daughter’s face, wondering if she understood.

    “I’m scared, Daddy.”

    “Nothin’ to be scared of, sweetie.” He scooted over on the log that was their bench by the fire and put his arm around her.

    “Then why are we here?”

    “We’re having a camping weekend, so it’s time for just us to talk and be together.”

    “I don’t even have signal for my phone. I can’t text anyone.”

    “Yep, like I said, just you and me.”

    A wolf howled in the dark distance, and the man put his hand on his pistol, still in its holster on his belt. He should have brought more ammo, but hell, it was heavy, and food was worth more than ammo, at least at the beginning.

    “Marcy said…”

    “Who’s Marcy, honey?”

    “She’s the new girl in school. She said things are going to get scary.”

    “Well, I wouldn’t put much stock in what Marcy says. I’m your daddy, and you can trust me. No matter what, I’ll protect you.”

    “Promise?”

    “Cross my heart and hope to die.”

    “No dying. Then you couldn’t watch out for me.”

    “Okay, then, I just promise.”

    The fire cracked and sent a stream of sparks into an indigo sky. In any other decade, it would have been just a little girl leaning her head against her daddy. She half-closed her eyes and then opened them wide. “Look, Daddy! A shooting star!”

    “You gotta make a wish, shooting stars are good luck!”

    “Do I tell you what it is?”

    “No, it’s like a birthday wish, you gotta keep it a secret or it won’t come true.”

    “There’s another one!”

    And so it began. The man guessed the re-entry curve of the ICBMs and silently bid farewell to Los Alamos Laboratories, to Albuquerque, to Colorado Springs.

    “Shooting stars are pretty, aren’t they, Daddy?”

    “They are, punkin’. You just keep up with the wishes.” And he held her just a little tighter.

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    1. Oh MAN! Oh, you didn't! You did! Very brave! I once got kinda drunk with a woman whose cousin was on one of the hijacked planes 9/11 with his 8 year old. and we wondered.They didn't make it. And then we agreed. "I hope he lied."

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    2. It's a tough call... kids can always tell when you're lying, but how do you explain crazy to them?

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    3. Wow. I love this. I cannot think of anything else to say. “Okay, then, I just promise.” - perfect

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    4. It's great. Even better cos I only half get it. It could be going in a few different directions and it rings true.

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    5. Yeah, you made the reader tell the story he thinks you are telling. On one level it works. On the other, it works. Win, win writing by creating a elephant in the forest and letting it just walk around messing with our psyche. Devilishly good.

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    6. Thank you sir! I appreciate that!

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    7. Ooh, post-apocalyptic! I hope you got them far enough away from ground zero, Leland. Although I wonder how Dad knew to get them away...

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  15. "Johnny, get the fuck off the chair! Johnny, the neighbors are gonna call the cops. Stop fucking crying. Stop it! There's nothing to cry about. I can't take it anymore - my ears hurt. My fucking ears hurt! You're driving me crazy. I love you, but you're driving me nuts. Johnny, please. Shut. The. Fuck. Up."

    ...

    "They'll put me in jail! You know that? Your Dad's gone, what are they going to do with you? You're not going to like it, so quit making a federal case out of everything and just stop making noise. Please, Johnny. I can't abide it."

    ----

    The cops found her alone in the apartment. No kid. No toys. Young woman, dirty. Now, she's clean as snow. Surrounded in white. She don't hear nothing now.

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    1. oh yeah.... just oh yeah... those white padded rooms are very quiet.... You amaze me, with the economy of these words, with only a one-sided dialogue, and the story is complete and evocative... well done, sir!

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    2. Fck. It's like my head just wheeled. Brilliant. Pure energy and slap at the end.

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    3. I know this, I've been dealt this, I don't like it but it is authentic as a heart attack, its reality and its wack, its jacket is tied down in back.

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  16. The shadow of an osprey passes and he looks, wonders how he always knows where to look without thinking about it. The position of the sun? Doesn't matter. Practice? Who knows. Can't find the ketchup when it's right in the front of the fridge, but got the bird shadows knocked.

    Beneath the shadow, there is a smattering of scratches from rock lizards. There is water, of course, and it pushes itself against the stone. Insinuating. He smiles, cocks his head. Wonders when his neck started hurting - wonders if it will ever stop. Probably not.

    But it's alright. He's got this spot. And this spot can be found almost anywhere if you know where to look.

    And care.

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    1. I was going along paragraph by paragraph and going, good, good, good, and then I hit paragraph four and thought GREAT. Those two words rock the story. Thanks for sharing!

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    2. I like this one. Like the style and images, and the clash of things. The incongruous ketchup amid the shadows. Cool.

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    3. I don't know what those fancy writing analysis computers told you but I'm telling you now : you write like the love child of Joseph Campbell on acid and Gertrude Stein on crack. I think you threw every archetype known into three paragraphs and bent a have dozen minds in the process.

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  17. Billy boy never even went to war, cause he ain't no boogey man. He ain't your whore. He stayed home silent while his Daddy swore. "I ain't even gonna call you son no more."

    It wasn't being scared that kept him home. He was sure as hell scared, but he wasn't alone. Scared ain't nothing but a broken bone. No, Billy just didn't like the movies they'd shown.

    So, Billy grew up and they called him yeller. They said, "Billy Boy's an awful queer feller." I did my time, and you did, too. Billy's a pussy through and through.

    But Billy Boy stayed because of you.

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    1. I love when you wax poetic. The rhyme and meter flow like water. My mind keeps wanting to put this to music.

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    2. Thanks so much. I've written so many lyrics my brain is doing this 75% of the time, to be honest. When it keeps repeating the SAME phrase, that's a problem. :)

      But thanks, sincerely. I feel like these pieces are almost silly, but I like them, so I'm glad you do too!

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    3. And then he went all Lenny Bruce on us. It was Friday and we loved it.

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  18. Inspired by JD's line this week, 'Some people sing', which stuck with me.

    Sing

    Some people sing -
    It’s a sentiment I crave
    Like the desolate moon
    Drip-dry of felt.

    These waves run to black
    As I weave this rolling pattern
    Shimmering to the fore
    Where we forget this,
    The rhythm of the day,
    The luster of the sky
    As it blazes down here.

    A purse lined with nothing,
    Scabbed knees praying low
    While the blackbird sings
    To waken the dead silence
    Seeping in a spiral of stars,
    Edging into the mind
    Where everyone forgot
    How to.

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    1. I read that last literally on the screen :
      Where everyone forgot
      How to Reply

      The reply part seemed nearly implied by the subject of the poem. Absolutely brilliant timing. To waken the dead silence. That one line is the one that will stick with me. Put it together I've got "Some people sing to waken the dead silence" which is quite a take away. Thanks Dan and Vickie!

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  20. Bryan’s confession writhed on the floor like a wounded animal, all howled out and waiting to be put out of its misery. Caroline stared at the space of carpet between them. He tugged in a long breath, and she knew what would follow. Regret. Recriminations. Promises that would evaporate the next time he had a few with a client out of town. The first syllable escaped his throat and she raised a hand as if warding off a blow.

    The door slapped behind her. At least her husband had sense enough not to call her name. The night was thick and warm and she’d only made it a few blocks before her lungs protested, but she’d rather collapse on the damned sidewalk than skulk back to him to collect her asthma inhaler.

    Gasping, she wheeled around, searching out a safe place to rest. Then she saw it—the twinkle of the chain link fence surrounding the community pool. And one of the lifeguards had left it unlocked. She slipped inside, cringing at the clank of the metal latch, her fingers shaking too hard to control gravity, and huddled into one of the lounge chairs. Soon the impending attack subsided, but she couldn’t go home.

    Not now…maybe ever.

    The water looked cool and inviting under the moonlight, the answer to most of her problems. Barefoot now, she tiptoed to the end of the diving board, the gritty surface biting into the tender flesh. Her imagination put Bryan’s body at the bottom of the deep end, hair floating in the current, arms extended as if waiting for her to walk inside them. She closed her eyes. One step. That was all she needed. Then she could stop thinking. About him with her. About him with any of them. About—

    “Carrie? Is that you?”

    She flinched at the man’s voice, her eyes flying open, and she couldn’t right herself fast enough to stop from falling into the water. Caroline screeched. Cold. Cold pummeling her body. Arms closed around her. For a second, she thought it was Bryan, reaching for her from the depths. She punched and kicked to escape, but the hold only grew tighter.

    “Hey. Easy now. Holy shit, you’re stronger than I thought.”

    The voice comforted her enough to give up the struggle. He eased her over the side, and he followed, a broad hand returning to her back. “Dave,” she gasped. “What are you doing here?” Stupid question. He lived next door. Front-row seats for every argument.

    “Thought I’d go for a walk, although I hadn’t planned on a swim. Feel like answering the same question?”

    She shook her head. As it came back to her, what she’d tried to do, her chest tightened. Her hand went to it, as if to provide comfort, and she turned toward him, eyes widening.

    “Looking for this?” The inhaler, and some white spots, danced before her eyes.

    She grabbed it before asking why, how. As the medication soothed her breathing, he said, “Bryan thought you’d need it.”

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    1. ohhhhh... OUCH! Killer twist! and brilliant buildup....

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    2. The record will show that one this day, with this one story, Laurie Boris killed me. That is all...

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    3. Augh! And here I was all ready to make Bryan the total bad guy in the relationship. You meanie! ;)

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  21. Holy shit, he's a hell cat comet. Jacket wracked in bile and vomit. Don't he strike a striking figure? Don't let the composure kid ya. Maybe he's been all night whoring. Maybe drinking someplace boring. It don't matter when ya get right to it. He's got an ass, you've got a shoe. Fit!

    There's something though, it's stopping you. Some weakness taints you through and through. But you think you're strong. You think you're tough. And you think that that will be enough.

    Listen brother, judge your druthers. I ain't a cop, and I and your mother.

    I'm just the juggler.

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  22. Replies
    1. lol. That's what the inside of my head sounds like.

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    2. Street Seuss... I like that... awesome.

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  23. There are strange things done in the midnight sun cause that's shit's made for tweakers. You can see the skin flesh, crawling, seeking out the crusted beakers. Homemade mayhem's an American right. A blessed thing, kept out of sight. You can do so many things, you see, if you believe in the land of the good and free.

    A promise made is a debt unpaid, but debtors don't no bullshit. I owe no man, I've got no plan, but broke is somehow workin'. Now the timer is running out, and that shit will make you nervous. And you know that Fucking Leland knows that you're straight ganking Service. And others too, I know a few, my Grandpa always liked him. And I don't know much about old Uncle Sam, but I talk shit just to spite him.

    Time.

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    1. So that's really two minutes? Good job! I don't even set a timer anymore...

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  24. Jilly Jill from Safron hill is a saucy little beast. She walks the town and looks around, smelling of sour yeast. She's a treat for the eye, but many's the guy who knows the girl's true colors. Still, on a cold night, when you're out of sight she'll help you quell the dolors.

    I knew her once, and I knew her twice. She gave me herpes and genital lice. And apparently, I've gone off the rails, telling awful stories, bawdy tales. But it is what it is, don't question it. I'll deal with ya, ya silly git. But first I must reflect, rest sit.

    Shit. John Wilmot could always blame the monkey...

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  25. As usual, you ALL have made my day. As I said before, I used to rush through them but now I savor each one for the gems that they are!

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