Friday, October 16, 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 can't stop once you've started. Momentum. It's like Sisyphus lost his grip and now he's chasing that boulder, screaming wildcat curses. Gotta get the boulder back. And all the while, he's trailing this fear-sweat smell that never leaves. Gotta get up that hill, brother. Maybe someone got it on video. Maybe you'll go viral. 

You never know about these things. Some kids are born with the taste of silver in their mouths. Some kids get stuck with a plastic Spork. But the important thing to remember, the real ace in this pile, is that it doesn't matter where the boulder is. That's what no one seems to get. It's not about the boulder.

Time is a weird pacemaker. Inconsistent. Fickle. There are boulders all around us. Some are small and some are huge, but Sisyphus don't never change. He's clomping his way left and right now, but it's still part of the grind. And, though he may not realize it, he might be nothing without that struggle.

ATTENTION, I WILL BE GONE MOST OF THE DAY. BREAK THE BLOG FOR ME! AND GIVE ME SOME STUFF TO READ WHEN I GET HOME! Get 'em! :)

89 comments:

  1. Ah, Sisyphus... your lesson is true. The struggle is all there is. I really like this.

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    1. I love the imagery here, especially the spork!

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    2. The struggle is what defines Sisyphus. Too true!

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    3. Yeah the spork in the mouth was key. And yes where would Sisyphus be without the struggle?

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    4. Great piece. Love the spork. This is making me think all sorts of deep thoughts, but I'm not really sure what to say about any of them, because I suck like that.

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    5. I absolutely adore when writers get beyond the myth, It's like meeting the man behind the curtain. Excellent!

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  2. The air was full of eddies, that morning, that day so long ago. Leaves of gold rained from the sky, glad for rest at last. She ran. She ran as fast and as far as her weary feet could carry her and the baby in her arms.

    He said he loved her. How many times did he say he loved her in five years? He said they didn’t need the paper to prove their love. God sees us as husband and wife, esposo y esposa. Who cares what the governor thinks?

    And now… he told her he was leaving her. Leaving her, to marry a woman of “position.” A woman of money.

    Her tears blurred her vision… the creek was rising from her tears. The trees wept their own tears of gold. The water was up to her knees when she knew what she had to do.

    Her abuela’s voice came to her ears, telling her of La Llorona, the weeping woman. A woman also scorned, who drowned her children in the river, and then drowned herself. Now La Llorona haunted children who did not obey, illicit lovers, all wanderers. What was her name? Maria.

    The same name as hers. She shivered. Did she feel the weeping woman’s touch? She ran again. Her tears trailed behind her… night fell and still she ran, praying with each breath, with each footstep.

    And a light came from the sky. The wind increased. She quaked in fear.

    The sound was not of weeping. It was a sort of La Llarona of the twenty-first century; one that spoke broken Spanish: “Alto! Immigración!” The helicopter punished the tops of the trees.

    A moment later, a boy and his mother were touched by the ghost of the weeping woman; when their hearts stop, her tears carried them away.

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    1. Powerful and poignant. I have only recently learned about La Llarona, myself. I think you modernized her ancient concept, while maintaining the plight of the poorer class woman who is timeless, quite well.

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    2. Thank you... she is fascinating, isn't she? a legend that has survived more than 600 years...

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    3. I'd never heard this legend. You did a good job updating it to have relevance today.

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    4. I never heard of it either but I enjoyed the pathos of both Marias.

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    5. I Know her, you captured her. and you done GOOD!

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    6. Magical RealLeland at its finest. "the creek was rising from her tears" - awesome piece.

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  3. The Fates are watching. They are timeless creatures, being able to move freely and view what they want, who they want, when they want. Man is restricted to linear time, never able to go back or forward in his own limited little space on the line, only marching pedantically along during his short lifespan. The Fates have no such limitations.

    They find giants depressingly slow, and starfish even shorter lived than man.

    The Fae, however, are a nice diversion. They live longer than a blink of an eye. They are quite amusing in their antics with magic and politics and manipulating one another. When they war, it is spectacularly bloody and twisted.

    Oh, yes, the Fates do adore the soap opera afforded by the Fae in all their myriad sizes, shapes, and colors.

    "Todhchaí, my dear!" Láthair called to a sister. "You simply must come and see this! The little Fae are at their scheming again, only this time they are bringing children. Human children!" Láthair tittered her airy laugh. "This will be so much fun to play with!"

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    1. It felt all warm and fuzzy... and then their true intent came through... nice!

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    2. Hmm, I wonder what the Fates have in mind...

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    3. Yikes. Methinks something wicked is afoot.

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    4. Oh my god. I love this so hard. Fates and Fae. Interesting.

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    5. Nice and twisted. Just the way I like my fantasy...

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    6. I concur with all of the above. Really cool piece.

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  4. HAPPY HALLOWEEN

    Hands down, when it comes to trick or treating, Grandma always loves the tricking part. I say “always” because as far back as the merry old ancient Celts, she’s been out there in her princess costume carrying her goodies bag and traipsing door to door looking for treats, of course, but tricking whoever answers the door to please step outside and bare his or her neck for the old two-puncture kiss.

    Halloween is Grandma’s favorite festivity. Why the bag? It’s old burlap thick as rhino hide and sometimes she gets so excited she loads that bag with what she calls “red nectar” and saves it for a slurping snack later on before the sun lifts its sleepy head.

    Don’t get me wrong now. I tote a bag just like it. I wear a pirate’s garb and I too have a belly rumbling to be filled. Yet, out of respect for dear old Grandma, I trail behind her for sloppy second suckings. What joy! We howl like wild wolves in the night. We whistle away, even sing songs that once stirred the blood of our valiant ancestors. With one eye peeled to the fading moon, the two of us go about our vamping. “Trick or treat! Trick or treat!” is the open sesame to every door we approach.

    “Isn’t this fun?” asks Grandma. “When it comes to Feast or famine, hands down I’ll take feast anytime!”

    Looking down into my burlap bag, I am so glad to see the sloshing treat half full.

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    1. ohhh... this is creepier than the average Halloween tale... but such a NICE grandma!

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    2. Thanks, Sal, now I'm going to think of this every time the doorbell rings on Halloween. ;)

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    3. Sal, you are one of a kind my friend. Awesome twist on a twisted tale.

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  5. The girl with her hand casually
    placed under her blue dress on Atlantic Avenue
    looked bored.
    I see your white cotton underwear,
    but you don’t seem to mind.
    I don’t think you even really mind
    The itch you decided to scratch
    in public.
    On the street corner.
    I sense you’re somewhere else today or
    maybe you are secure in
    the knowledge that your panties are
    spotless.
    The guy you’re with seems preoccupied too.
    He squats
    close to you in deep isolation
    with his appropriately named iPhone
    attached to his ear.
    Or maybe that’s where you want him.
    Are you sensing that I’m intrigued by
    your ascendancy?
    Perhaps.
    I keep on stepping though
    since D’Angelo
    beats out my steps authoritatively in my ear
    and lunch awaits.
    Still girl,
    you had my attention.

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    1. An excellent story in verse... and I saw it all, through your eyes... thank you!

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    2. The girl had your attention, and you had ours. Well done.

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    3. Gorgeous narrative. You leaving the reader with this perfect snapshot, yet leave us wanting more.

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    4. Damn. I hate being the dittohead, but they all took my answer.

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  6. See, here's the thing. No matter what you say in a shrink's office, it sounds crazy. I figured this out when I was lying down on Dr. Finkelstein's gazillion dollar couch, a couch that had been the resting place of a lot of famous, and some infamous, folk in the dog world.

    "What's on your mind?" Dr. Finkelstein (rhymes with wine, which he likes a lot) asked in that syrupy voice that all the best therapists have.

    What was on my mind was whether I could get cooties from this couch, if that was the cause of the itch I felt behind my ear. But he would go all Freudian if I said that out loud.

    "Have you had any more dreams?" Oh. Dreams. Jungian was today's flavor then.

    "Yes." My voice sounded tentative even to me.

    "Tell me about them." For $250 an hour, I would have thought he might feign interest, maybe show a little enthusiasm, but no, just calm, nonjudgmental, Dr. Finkelstein, rhymes with whine, which he would never do.

    "It was the same dream all week. I wake up in this white room, all alone, naked. A door opens, and this dog, a big black Lab, walks through."

    "Is the dog wearing clothing?" Did I sense an emotion in the finkelsteinian voice?

    "A white lab coat."

    "Mm,hmm. Go on."

    "The dog circles around me--he's walking on two feet--pokes and prods at me, sniffs me with his cold nose, and then looks me deep in the eyes. He looks like he's going to say something, and then he licks my nose. And then I wake up. What does it mean?"

    "What do you think it means?"

    "If I knew that, Doctor, I wouldn't be here, would I?"

    "Defensive, good, good. Were you aroused when you awoke?"

    "Aroused? Like sexually? You think I'm a pervert?"

    "There there." He handed me a box of tissues.

    "I'm not crying. What are these for?"

    I sat up, and Dr. Finkelstein's long pink tongue licked me. And then I awoke again.

    This time I looked under the sheets. No, I was not aroused. Freudian pervert.

    Dreams within dreams. That was the first time Dr. Finkelstein's appeared in one. I looked at the clock. If I hurried, I wouldn't be late for my real appointment with the Doctor. At least I hoped it was real and that I wasn't dreaming again.

    Oddly enough the appointment was almost the same as the dream. Right up to where the shrink had turned into a slobbering black dog licking me. At that point, instead, Dr. Finkelstein asked me how long it had been since I had sex.

    I looked down at his immaculate floor. "A while. I'm not sure how..."

    "I think your sexual frustration is bleeding into your dreams. Not that you want to have sex with animals, but perhaps you want to play doctor with someone. Perhaps you are even attracted to me."

    I shuddered.

    "I'm afraid our time is up, Steven. Perhaps next week we can talk about your repressed sexual fantasies."

    Now I knew I wasn't imagining things. He really did sound enthused. Freudian voyeur. I could tell by the wag of his tail.

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    1. This is great! I hope I'm supposed to be laughing.

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    2. I was about to say, I barked with laughter for this one. My dog gave me a funny look...

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    3. thanks and maybe your dog was laughing, too

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    4. So much fun. Really enjoyed this. Freudian scribbler.

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    5. Beautifully rendered. I can go on shrink rants till forever. It's high time they got a lil busted! :)

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    6. And he sticks the landing! Perfect final sentence; fun story. :)

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    7. Ditto! Sorry, they said it all. :)

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  7. “When are we going to get there‽”

    “How should I know‽”

    “You suggested this shortcut—are you telling me you don’t know how long it takes‽”

    “Knowing it’s shorter than the long way doesn’t necessarily translate to knowing the precise distance, now does it‽”

    “It can’t be much farther, can it‽”

    “When did you become so impatient‽”

    “Oh, is it a crime to want to spend more time at the campsite and less time trudging through the woods‽”

    “Wait, is that the creek I hear‽”

    “Well, we seem to have arrived…can it really be‽”

    “Was there ever any doubt‽”

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    1. Thanks to Laurie Boris for the interrobang idea. :)

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    2. I love the interrobang! I just keep hoping for a sarcasm font.... this story was a lot of fun! (yes, just a straight bang!)

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    3. Love how you let the dialogue do it ALL! NiCE job!

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    4. Yup. Agreed. And good dialogue is always a win.

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  8. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.I don't know how long it's been since my last confession, ...at least to a priest.

    I must have sinned, because I feel so guilty, like I'm a bad person, despite what my shrink says. You told me not to tell, that no one would believe me and, besides, what you did was an expression of love. Yeah, that's what you told me.

    Don't you remember, Father? I was eleven and you asked me to serve the 7:00 o’clock all alone. You said you thought I was ready. Just you and me. Partners, you said.

    Afterwards, you put your arm around my shoulder and told me what a good boy I was. You asked if I would like to get out of class to help you do those funerals, ride to the cemetery with you. Remember? Teaching me what you said a young man without a dad needed to know.

    No, wait, I want you to hear my confession because I got really bad after you told me you didn't think I needed you to "mentor" me anymore. You found a new boy. You left the parish all of a sudden when they said you got sick and had to go to New Mexico to get better. And now you're back. Are you better? I wish I could get better.

    The doctors tell me it'll take a while to get well, that the pain and guilt and confusion may go away after I confront my problems and realize they weren't really my fault.

    My fault.

    I was the one who kept coming back, who did those things you said were okay, who hurt all those people -- Mom, my girlfriends, my ex-wife and my kid. Myself.

    Heads-up, Father, 'cause I've been having these impure thoughts and I don't want to die
    with them on my conscience. Not that kind of impure. Taking a life impure. Really? You're absolving me? Who absolves you? Is God going to forgive you your sins?

    Because I don't.

    My name? You mean which one am I? They'll find out when the cops come to hose out the confessional and find the note on my body.

    Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for this sinner...now and at the hour of our death.

    Amen.

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    1. Deep breaths. Awesome and terrible in its force. Kudos.

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    2. Holy shit. Agreed. This is like a hurricane.

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    3. Awesome, terrifying, terrible, and all too often true... well-written and heartbreaking...

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  9. One day they will find these words that I scrawl night after night. One day the roughed-up land will be parceled off to create a strip mall or an assisted-living facility; they will come with their surveyors and heavy equipment and geological impact studies. Their groaning machines will sink their claws into the earth and discover an anomaly; a pocket of nothing, at first. Then the metal dinosaurs will bare what one worker might recognize as an intentional arrangement of rock—a clue to switch off their engines and call in the authorities. With fine brushes and chisels, they will find my bones. Those of the others. And my words. Will these future disturbers of the past still understand the language? Or will our proud alphabet have already been reduced to a series of symbols, a hearkening back to the glyphs found on the pharaoh’s tombs? In a way I will be glad to be gone; I don’t know that I would like living in that world, where the thoughts of the great poets and philosophers will be reduced to an arcane series of scratchings, as indecipherable as the Dead Sea Scrolls were to an earlier form of mankind. Some days I wonder why I keep writing. I’ve already told the story of why we’re here. Why the others did not make it. My fingers are stiff with the cold, my heart heavy with the pain of the souls whose spirits still hover over me while I attempt to sleep, and yet I write. To absolve myself of the guilt, perhaps. So that those future excavators will know that I tried to stop it, tried to save them. The fire is waning; the ink is running dry; the hapless small animals that wander in have less flesh on their bones, yet I still write, because there is more to tell, and because I still can.

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    1. I love the "disturbers of the past" the whole sensibility, of this voice crying out against the destruction. It's what art does...the tension between creation and destruction.

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    2. Yeah, agreed. Written like great paintings should be. And I love the image/resonance of metal dinosaurs.

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    3. Ah.... the storytellers are always the last to die, because they hold the victors' glory, and the tears of the doomed... this is a beautiful, beautiful dystopian tale... well told, well described.

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  10. She sits on a rock, watching the waves roll in. It’s a sunny day, warm, especially for this late in the year, and the sun is hot on her skin…but she still feels cold. She hasn’t been able to get warm in days. Not since she got the news.

    The first few stages of grief had flashed by quickly. She’d been in shock and denial for several hours, and when she could no longer hide from the truth, her old friend anger came to visit. She’d ranted and railed and screamed and cried. But the anger had ebbed soon enough. She hadn’t even really bothered with bargaining but had skipped on ahead to the mind-numbing, energy-draining hell of depression. She’d been there ever since.

    It shouldn’t have come as such a shock. She should have seen it coming. It’s not like it had been a lightning bolt out of a clear, blue sky. Maybe a part of her had even known it was coming, but she hadn’t expected it to happen so soon. But then, the things you dread always happen before you’re ready for them. She’d thought she’d had time, that there would be another opportunity. She’d been wrong.

    With a sigh, she clambers off her rock and dusts the sand from the seat of her jeans, still frozen inside. She doesn’t have time to sit and watch the waves; she has more important business to attend to. The only question is which task she will choose: explaining to her best friend why she can’t stand up for him at his wedding, or finding a way to fake being happy while watching him marry someone who doesn’t deserve him.

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    1. Oooh, yeah. Epic opening at the end. So much story to tell.

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    2. agreed... you took us to a place where we need the next chapter!

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  11. Usually, Big Angie knew what she was doing. Today wasn’t one of those times. She stared down at the figure lying on the table. Twenty years she’d being doing their makeup, these corpses, repairing the damage of death and disease. “Don’t ole Ed look natural?” They’d say at the viewings.
    Or,
    “Miss Annie looks better now than she has in years.”Or even,
    “Didn’t you say Claudine was in a wreck? Her head went through the windshield? My God, they can fix anything these days, can’t they?”
    And down here at Swann’s Rest, in the anteroom just off embalming, surrounded by curling irons and hairspray and wax and an arsenal of cosmetics of every description Big Angie worked her special art; not too much and not too little. Dressing the deceased in the clothes provided, painting their portraits with color and shade, laying that final illusion of life over the mask that remained when flesh was all that was left of the one who had been. She liked her work, as far as it went. It was better than the beauty shop she’d run for awhile. The pay was good and if the dead didn’t tip, at least they never complained when you got their hair too short, or the dryers too hot, or insist their makeup be done over again.
    Up until the day before yesterday, Taylor Conway ran the gift shop on the corner of Vine. She kept it stocked with sweet smelling soap and sparkling ornaments, door wreaths and fake flowers and spices from all around. The kind of place that carried music boxes and jewelry and quilts for babies with stuffed Teddy Bears. She had a little tea room off the back of the place, where shoppers could gossip and eat homemade muffins while Ms. Conway minded the store. Big Angie had been there once or twice. It made her think of Christmas but made her nervous, too. As crammed as it was with knick knacks and treasures, the heady scent of the shop made her sneeze and it seemed there was something empty about it, like the bright glass eyes of the porcelain dolls who stared down from the shelves with a false kind of love.

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    1. Very vivid. I would love to know more. What is really bothering Big Angie? What's the deal with Taylor? I think there's a novel in here.

      I love the last line.

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  12. And the rest....

    They’d found her slumped over the cash register on her usual perch, a half read romance novel in her hand. Aneurysm, heart attack--Angie couldn’t recall exactly—just that the viewing was set for that evening in parlor Number one.
    She eyed the dress and silver necklace laid out on the table along with a box of some underthings. An expensive blue wool jersey, with a knot at the front; maybe Michael Kors, size 16. Funny, she thought, how you don’t notice things about the living. Like, if you’d asked her before Ms. Conway’s passing what size she wore, Angie would’ve put her at a 12, tops. The necklace was real sterling, too, studded with lapis lazuli.
    She studied the corpse’s natural complexion, Egyptian Fair; a touch of pink, and rummaged around her grease paint box to mix it to match. It wasn’t until she hit a cheek that she noticed the barest breath of 5 o’clock shadow, the scrape of whisker against her sponge.
    “Sonofabitch?” she whispered to no one. “You shitting me, Miz ma’am?”
    Moving around the body like a boxer, she tugged cautiously at the locks of November-colored hair. Real.
    Plucked up a delicate, French-manicured hand.
    She rummaged in the box of underthings and found the prosthetics, sewn into the bra, and finally, peeked cautiously under the sheet, uttering a long, low whistle at what she found there.
    “Well,” she said aloud to the body. “I’ll be goddammned, Miz Conway.” She began, then faltered, leaning to stroke that whisker-grazed cheek.“How long you lived here? Opened your little store? Lived your life? Baked all them stupid muffins?”
    The sheer enormity of Taylor Conway’s secret engulfed her and to her surprise, Big Angie sniffled as sweet, hot tears sprang to her eyes.
    “I could have helped, had you just told me,” she whispered. “I know how it can be, being alone.”
    But there wasn’t no time for that now, she figured. So she took up her sponge and practiced her art, with teals and corals and lashes and scent until Missus Conway could pass anywhere, even in the heavens above.
    “There now, there now,” she said as she worked.
    “When you get where you’re going, God will love you.
    And if you get to that other place, don’t you worry. “The devil won’t know you at all.”

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    1. Wow. This piece blew my mind. I love the places you take us. This is super, super good. So good I can't think of anything to say that doesn't make me sound dumber than I am. ;)

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    2. This is beautiful... and bless her for keeping the secret!

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  13. You box em? I checked em. You kick they ass? I wrecked em. You think that's funny, asshole? I'll stick this Bic in your ear. Twist it 'til it bleeds. A little adjustment's all you need.

    Call me a bum, I'll stick my foot up yours. Call me Bud, I'll one-up you to Coors. I don't know you or your chickenshit friends. I got no means, but I'm looking forward to the ends.

    Your girl's fucking around? At least she's not fucking straight. That's shit's boring, an affront to whoring. And yeah, your moms is fat, but mine is, too. I'm just saying, she's one of the bitches I'd screw.

    You think I'm done now? Shit, I'm rare. I'm a pissed off motherfucker, but I still care. I'm not saying it won't hurt, cause it sure as hell will. You can stay shouting orders, but it's time to pick up the bill.

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    1. MaderRap(tm) always impresses me... and this piece is no exception.

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  14. I got a secret - I keep it under my tongue like a half-dissolved Valium. Keep it smooth like a pebble. Sometimes I roll it around. Run it along the inside of my cheek. The secret ain't much, but it's something. Something I got. And you don't.

    Beg all you want, but it won't get you nowhere. There's changes a'coming, I can smell em in the air.

    Secrets are funny things, like drunk comedians. They fall of the stage and everyone laughs but there's sadness there. No one likes a sad clown. No one likes it when the lights go down.

    My brain can't decide whether to rhyme or not. Guess I'll just keep the tap on and give you what I got. Or I'll fuck myself, I can do it quick. Quicker than Jack jumps a candle stick. Just got to talk about oranges...

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    1. And the last line... perfect. 'Cause nothin' rhymes with oranges...

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  15. Jarvis had lived down by the junk yard as long as anyone could remember, and him the richest man in town. Folks couldn't believe it. Johnson at the bank always had a big mouth. We knew what has happening, money coming in, and he wasn't aiming to lose one cent. Fact is, he could have bought the damn town, but you'd see him on trash pick up nights, collecting them cans.

    A lot of folks just say Jarvis is batshit. Not me. I think I got it figured. Jarvis never wanted to be a rich man. The money was a weight to him. A kind of guilt - normal man would enjoy the money. Some would give it away if they didn't want it. Jarvis? The money scared him, see? So, he tied himself to it and it dragged them down.

    Gold is heavy.

    And even imaginary numbers and made up names of theoretical bills is heavy if you let em be.

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    1. whoa... a story with a moral.... and a true one at that... "imaginary numbers" is a brilliant phrase...

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    2. Love "Gold is heavy." Great piece. Leland is right, the moral hits you right in the feels.

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  16. Behold the dark rider in the pale day's onset.

    Blaze rubbed his eyes, not yet believing in the apparition on the road to the south. The tide was faraway to his right, and the surf sounded like slow distant applause, as if the waking land itself were reluctant audience to this human theatre.

    A man on horseback was approaching, ragged black against the grey ribbon of the coast highway.

    Beside a sign that read Tsunami Evacuation Route, Blaze stood his ground and felt like a child who'd stumbled onto a battlefield. Stripped, hopeless, defences utterly dismantled.

    As the figure began to resolve and the light from the east made pearly molten banners of the treetops, details emerged, and they were painful, as if a broken man dragged himself from a cave into the raw light. The man on the horse was worse than broken; his dark and hectic face atop the ruination of his body seemed to plead for something neither his fellow man nor this wan morning could conceivably deliver, some annihilating mercy.

    The fly-tormented horse slowed and hung its leaden head and was still.

    Blaze breathed and felt like the only thing that breathed in the silent vacuum of the world.

    "Klootch?"

    Less than a stone's throw away, Klootchman—for it was he—sagged forward then dropped to his left and hit the asphalt hard.

    Blaze ran then, and the world breathed at last, although it was a stale and ignoble breath.

    ***

    Behold the woman on the sand at dawn.

    Athena ran as the light grew around her, seeming to buoy her to weightlessness as her bare feet left prints that filled quickly in her wake. Where her soft blue dress pressed against her body, she was rightful and animate, a creature of warmth. A vanguard of the coming day.

    The shoulders of the islands out in the ocean still wore shawls woven from darkness and mist, but to her left the sky was brightening, like the shell of an oyster opening.

    She was neither liquid nor solid, such states being meaningless, as joy and sorrow were meaningless to the sea and to the land. They were the same. Animal and machine had no distinction. Her feet touching kelp. Her elbows and knees fulcrums to abet her passage in the parting air, her hips a plummet to hold her to the earth, her neck the urge of an iron swan to break from that same adamant earth. She laughed through tears.

    Until she heard her man screaming the name of his friend and even the world had the good grace to dim for a little while.

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    1. I love how the parts of the story juxtaposed with each other. Your descriptions are amazing. Lovely.

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    2. That first line.... goosebumps... and then the goosebumps continue. You are, sir, an excellent artist.

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    3. I couldn't agree more. You know that. Every time I see a piece you've written I think, "How's he going to blow my mind this time." You are a sculptor, amigo.

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  17. Troy hated Halloween. The guys all looked the same. Baseball hats turned backwards, faces painted white. And all the faces scarred with fake blood. He couldn't look at them without his stomach lurching. He could feel the flashback coming, and head it off before the image of the accident appeared before his eyes.

    He couldn't stay home. Dad was there, and he would feel like he had to talk. There was no way around it. He would have to spend the evening out somewhere. He wandered into the drug store. He walked up and down the aisles. The lady in the pink shirt at the cash register watched him like he was a freak at the side show.

    "Can I help you find something?" she asked.

    Troy weighed his options, then grabbed the nearest item from a shelf. Pink shirt scanned it, bagged it, and handed it back to him. It wasn't until he got home that he saw that it was one of those lame Halloween make up kits.

    He went into the bathroom, and took off his ball cap. His hairline looked a little weird where the scarring hadn't quite healed. The scars had mostly faded, and the surgeon said that they could be made almost invisible.

    Invisible. Troy wished he could be invisible, not just his scars.

    But for tonight., he was going to be visible. He carefully took the red face paint, and traced his scars.

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    1. Ahhhh... what a wise, wonderful story!

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    2. Oh man. My throat won't open. This story means more to me than you will ever know. Thank you for sharing it.

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  18. I never do things the right way. I'm the one who always enters the line through the exit. I put on a shirt inside out and backwards. I date the wrong people; sometimes I date the wrong gender. Even when I try to get it right -- even when I do everything I should -- it comes out all messed up.

    That's what happened on the Day of the Dead. I was just trying to honor my grandfather. I wanted to eat on his grave and give him back his pen-knife. It was thoughtful, damn it! Why did those stupid kids have to start playing chase when they did? If they hadn't started circling me, if they hadn't started fencing me in screaming the whole time, the by would still be alive.

    I'm not a killer. I'm not an evil person. It's my curse, I'm telling you. I try to do something good and it all goes to shit. Well, so be it. I'm on the lamb anyway. There's no coming back from this. I might as well go for broke; take out all those assholes I'd always dreamed of killing.

    I'm stuck here, like some caged animal. Can't leave until the cops go away. Stuck in a crypt of all places. But there's paper, and a pen. I've got enough light to get started.

    What was the name of that fucking jerk who beat me up in the first grade? Brady Holmes, I think it was. He's goin' down first...

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    1. Oof. This is a great piece. I can feel it, the confusion and resignation to horror. Brilliantly done.

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  20. I despise weakness, especially when I perceive it within myself. It was rare during my working career for me to miss a day due to illness - I would self medicate and head in anyway. My boss actually called me once to make sure I was still alive when I missed a day. Look at me now and you will find a different person. It's not a physical infirmity so much as a mental one, though I am so stubborn that I will push myself to the point of injury if Frank doesn't stop me. Then I will argue about it with him. I'm not angry with him, but with my own lack.

    I know this is something out of my control, or so people keep telling me, but I can't seem to wrap my head around that. It's my body and my mind and they have worked so well for and with me in the past that it's second nature to expect more of them than they can currently give. HR would be all over my ass if I treated my underlings that way back in the day. Not sure why I can't make the adjustment and give in to the "experts" and their advice.

    "Frank, tell me again that I can't do this? Only this time, make me believe it."

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    1. Sounds really familiar. I don't feel like I'm doing things right until someone says that magic phrase. "You can't" is my compass, but sometimes I shouldn't.

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    2. Man, yep. I get this one. And it is wonderfully rendered. Really well done.

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  21. She strode down the alley, cigarette tip lighting the way, casting an orange glow on the pavement. It was the first perfect fall night, and she was wasting it stalking through the streets and alleys of her new neighborhood, pissed at her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend. She should be roasting chestnuts or drinking coffee, maybe curled up with a good book. No, she was fuming and sulking and letting that dick run her out of her own house.

    She heard a dog start to bark a few houses away and moved into the shadows of a tree before remembering that her damn cigarette would give her away in a second. The barking came to an abrupt halt and the poor thing yelped before silence reigned. A second or two later a figure slipped out of the gate in the fence and turned towards Marcie. He froze when he saw the light, but smiled when he saw the petite woman in front of him.

    "Well, what have we here?" he asked, sauntering towards her, pulling out a ciggie of his own. "Aren't you a pretty little thing."

    "I don't suppose the dog is still alive?" she asked, not bothering to dignify his bad come-on with a reply.

    "Course not, love," he said, pulling out a lighter and bringing his cancerk-stick to life. "Why don't we go somewhere and get to know each other better?"

    "Because I've had my fill of assholes today," Marcie grumbled. She dropped her butt and stubbed it out with the toe of her worn sneaker. "You have two choices here, Romeo. You can leave or you can pay for your arrogance and cruelty. Pick one."

    "I'd love to see you make me pay, love," he said, pulling out a Saturday night special with a silencer. Marcie dug the knife out of her front pocket and flicked it open.

    "So be it," she said, crouching into a fighting stance.

    "Sad to see it end this way, love," he said, pointing his gun at her chest.

    Five minutes later Marcie slipped out of the alley and headed home to kick out the scumbag she'd wasted three years with. She was done with arrogant little pricks who thought they ruled the world because they had the biggest, easiest to use weapons.

    The police found his body the next day, laying next to the dog he'd shot. No evidence left behind, and no one cared enough to dig too deeply. The money he'd taken from the dog's owners was still on him. Police figured that he had it coming, and it was probably self-defense anyway. Although, bleeding to death from that appendage had to hurt like hell.

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    1. Cheers for justice! Poor dog... a well told story that draws us in and makes us cheer for an assassin...

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    2. Agreed. And the image of the cigarette lighting the way is DOPE.

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