Friday, March 4, 2016

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 sat back, stretched yourself against the blue, plastic resistance of the chair, arms braced against the desk - the one they made for right-handed kids. No one ever talked about that. It was one of those things. Like how Billy got to act crazy and not get in trouble for it. How Michelle couldn't get the words to come out of her mouth in any sensible way. 

The way Mrs. Johnson looked so, so sad sometimes. You felt bad, but it didn't stop you. 

It's all an electric mystery. It's spice on the wind that you can't place, but that feels as familiar as an old mitt. You killed hours in those musty rooms while your mind was outside; you braced for the onslaught of boredom. The hours they would take from you - you could already see them evaporating. 

So, one day you just ran. Got up and nobody stopped you and you made it home just in time to collapse laughing. And Mom didn't even get mad. 

Then again, she didn't get much of anything since Dad died. And it had been years.

ATTENTION, I WILL IN AND OUT MOST OF THE DAY. BREAK THE BLOG FOR ME! AND GIVE ME SOME STUFF TO READ! Get 'em! :)

#2minutesgo

100 comments:

  1. You had to see it coming. Had to. There was enough circumstantial, existential fuck-it-all floating in the air. Shit was darting around like bad acid tracers. You had to know. You saw the looks exchanged, but they just made you angry, and angry made you do it even more.

    You made excuses when the straps started coming undone. Made Willy Loman jokes - the woods are burning, the house is burning, my heart is burning - never was well-liked, always kept some rubber piping in the basement of your soul.

    It wasn't about spite anymore. He was dead right about that.

    But you didn't want to accept it, so you rationalized - even though the rationalizations were silly. Even though you knew because, fuck. Wrecked cars, ruined relationships, hangovers that lasted weeks. You weren't stupid.

    But you sure weren't smart either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gorgeous! We see, but doing something about IT, is a whole different deal...

      Delete
    2. Yep, all that spin isn't worth crap.

      Delete
    3. Ooh. Love this: "...circumstantial, existential fuck-it-all..."

      Delete
  2. "...spice on the wind you can't place." Glad you ran and glad you wrote this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome, and filled with an emptiness that so few can give words to... well done.

      Delete
  3. How come all y'all rebel types just want to dress the same? It's like you were looking for the Mickey Mouse club and they finally let you in. It's not 1977, not the early 90s. The music hasn't even changed that much. Shouldn't we be back to symphonies and syphilis by now?

    Applause? Clap.

    Why do you want to play the same three chords that have been played the same way since before I was born. Make some up. They can be ugly as all fuck and make my teeth feel electric - eclectic, hell, I'm just tired of being bored.

    And I'm not building pedestals and, if I did, I sure wouldn't place myself on one. Or anyone else. That's the whole point. Stop worshipping false idols. Not because God said so, but because it's fucking annoying.

    I swear to God, if y'all elect a fucking Oompa Loompa, I'm gonna stop defending America when it gets disrespected.

    I'm starting to think we haven't deserved respect in a real long time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whoever wrote this belongs on a pedestal. :)

      Delete
    2. Yup my main complaint: everybody want ALL the respect, NONE of the responsibility.

      Delete
  4. It was never supposed to be this way, I heard her say amid the din of Starbucks. And that was all I heard. There was silence among the voices for a second after that. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the 20-something girl with her brown hair cinched into a ponytail I thought might be metronomically fun to run behind touch the glass face of her phone. I saw the joining of two minds, maybe even two hearts, glare from the morning sun and then fade to black, only to be replaced by little figures, icons with no religious meaning, save for the worship of celebrity and people she called friends she’d never met before. I felt sad for the girl, as I waited for my overpriced cup of joe with “Joe” written on the side. I guess her It grew into something she had not expected and didn’t desire, a wish unfulfilled, a hope crushed, a lesson hard-learned.
    I’ve had my share of “never supposed’s,” hard times and bad choices, go-away lines and harsh voices. They’re a matter of thinking ahead too brightly and behind into a dimming twilight with a myopic eye behind rose-colored glasses. The coffee fogged my specs, clouding my position in the now, but I knew it would pass. All I had to do was let it cool a bit before I gulped it down. You learn these things after a few scaldings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a brilliant use of overheard conversations... and the thoughts they provoke when we stumble into them.... really excellent descriptions... I could almost smell the coffee...

      Delete
    2. I have a 20-something daughter. Man, do I HEAR that!

      Delete
    3. Oh, man. I love this one. This line: "I’ve had my share of “never supposed’s,” hard times and bad choices, go-away lines and harsh voices." BAM!

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

      Delete
    5. This sounds ao familiar. Well done.

      Delete
    6. Oh, I love this. It's so poetic, musical. The metronomically fun ponytail. Marvelous!

      Delete
  5. Winter had taken its toll on her mood - to say nothing of her productivity.

    But this day drew her into the sunshine like a magnet. Snow still lay on dirty mounds on the garden but here and there green peeked though where the grass competed with frost's grip. Under her boots, where she stepped between the last crunchy crystals, she felt the soft squish and suck that promised more melt and the demise of the gloom that held the last of the snow.

    In a week or two she'd be digging the garden, planting those first precious seeds of spinach, carrots and lettuce.

    She sidestepped the dirty patches searching for those first blooms, the ones that confirmed that once again, life would vanquish icy death.

    There! There they were, clumps of brave snowdrops that force their way right through the snow, defiant and proud. And there, just a step to the left, her primroses.

    She knelt and brushed away the last icy cover that hid the swelling buds. This one would be purple. Over there grew the yellow and the red, the orange and the white, all pushing against the muddy pall. In between the first spikes of daffodil leaves challenged the enemy.

    And my heart lifted. It was still there. Life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A beautiful homage to spring and to hope... I needed this today!

      Delete
    2. Me too. I needed this lovely reminder and colorful description of hope.

      Delete
    3. Nancy De Cilio GauthierMarch 4, 2016 at 11:37 AM

      New life emerging - something we all look for even through the cover of snow. Peaceful and uplifting.

      Delete
    4. Agree with all. I needed this. And the writing sings. So beautiful, Yvonne.

      Delete
    5. Spring in my heart. So lovely.

      Delete
  6. Sam liked to think she was good with kids, even the ones other sitters wouldn’t touch. But when she walked into the room, Janie wouldn’t shift her dull-eyed gaze from the television. Some primary-bright, focus-grouped nonsense blared from the screen, working its dark alpha-brainwave magic on the child. She cringed, that after all they’d learned, after all her pleas and protests and depositions, programs like this were still being broadcast. Seventeen “good little soldiers” had been secretly warehoused in institutions, thanks to Dr. Katydid. She’d escaped. She couldn’t save them, and she couldn’t kill him twice, so she’d made it her life’s business to correct what he had foisted upon the world.

    Apparently, it was not working.

    “Janie?” She kept her voice low, modulated, in the tones that her subsequent research determined had the best chance at breaking the spell. Nothing. Irritation rankled through her, tightening her shoulders. An impulse burned inside her to simply yank the cord. But she also knew that the sudden jolt could shock her system. She’d seen it happen. It had taken weeks to get those children back. “Janie.”

    Still nothing. Sam reached into her purse for her tablet. She knew it was wrong, what she was about to do. If it went south, it could be tantamount to substituting one addiction for another, but her hope was that the one she was about to introduce would be marginally easier to overcome, with less long-term damage.

    It would have to be perfectly timed—a gradual modulation, lowering the volume on one, reducing the visual contrast while brightening the other. She slipped the television remote out of Janie’s slack little fingers. Holding her breath, she eased down the stimulus from the program while slowly moving the tablet into the child’s view.

    Then she waited. The girl’s eyes flickered. Then drifted from the television screen to the image before her. One corner of her mouth turned down. A noise emanated from her throat.

    “That’s stupid,” Janie said, and pushed the device away. She sprang to her feet and grinned. “Let’s go play on the swings.”

    Smiling, Sam reached for the little hand, and they left the tablet on the floor, Justin Bieber fading to black.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, this is awesome... you played this one quite well!

      Delete
    2. Nancy De Cilio GauthierMarch 4, 2016 at 11:40 AM

      LOL = still catching up to what it all meant. Great.

      Delete
    3. Thanks. I think it's part of something much bigger. Can't write short and contained to save my life lately.

      Delete
    4. That's a GOOD thing! more ideas for novels! YAY!

      Delete
    5. Feeling the same way, Laurie. But this is concise enough to be a Huge diving board!

      Delete
    6. I was gonna say. This needs to keep going. Pixar needs to give you lots of money. This is awesome. "Some primary-bright, focus-grouped nonsense blared from the screen, working its dark alpha-brainwave magic on the child." Yup.

      Delete
    7. So clever. I did not see that coming.

      Delete
  7. He studied the pictures on the wall. They were young and old, pretty and ugly, rich and poor. To the casual observer they had nothing in common. These were twelve random people. Soon they would have one important thing in common. Him. He would kill them all, and launch his career in the process. He would kill assholes by the dozen. It was his destiny and he couldn't wait to embrace it.

    Michael had tried other jobs, other careers. He couldn't build anything, sell anything, or fix anything. Shit, he couldn't even destroy things correctly. Too much force, they said. Well, in his new line of work, force or lack thereof wouldn't matter much.

    He would be special. These horrible, entitled, egotistical shitstains would be gone from this Earth. It was really a public service, what he was doing. It would make him special, finally. It would make their lives meaningful, finally.

    He opened his door to find his first victim waiting for him. The asshole cop who pulled him over for running a red light was right there, so convenient a present to Michael that he might as well be wearing a bow on his head. But the asshole cop had other ideas.

    "Michael Smith, you are under arrest for transporting illegal explosives across state lines," the man said, pushing Michael against the wall and snatching the gun out of his hand like taking candy from a baby.

    Days later the asshole cop drove Michael to his first hearing.

    "How did you know?" Michael asked.

    "I've seen that look before," asshole cop said. "I saw it too many times in mass killings. I ran your plates, got your name, did a background check, and got lucky this time."

    "You all deserved it, you know," Michael growled. "You're all assholes."

    "We were all jerks to you," asshole cop said. "It's not the same thing. No one made you God. You don't have the right to say who lives and who dies."

    "But you do?" Michael asked.

    "No," asshole cop said with a sigh. "I have the right to uphold the law and try to keep people alive as long as possible."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good thing they caught him! Great story.

      Delete
    2. I love the combination of rebellion and authority. It rocks!

      Delete
    3. The voice is so strong. Bold. That's what grabs me. Well done.

      Delete
    4. Stark and strong. Love the contrast - and the outcome.

      Delete
  8. In the black of night, Adam called her name. He called so loudly the stars heard, but they did not answer. He called so loudly the oceans roared at the disturbance.
    This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. He wasn’t supposed to be here alone. She was supposed to be with him, the two of them to start life after Armageddon, to start the world anew.

    He’d planned everything. The false alarms in the defense system, the forged emails insulting select world leaders, the jammed satellite signals, viruses planted in just the right software programs. Armageddon was about to start, a holocaust he had planned for decades.

    There was no pause button, no rewind. It was happening. In exactly 30 seconds.

    20 seconds. No sign of her. He moved into the mouth of the tunnel.

    15 seconds. Did she change her mind?

    10 seconds. He began pulling the blast door closed.

    5 seconds. The latches slid into place. And 20 miles away, Eve’s GPS said, Acquiring Satellites, Acquiring Satellites…

    0 seconds. The last man on earth realized he was going to be lonely for a very long time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Another poor Eve story. Thanks for making me smile. Yes, a very long, long time.

      Delete
    2. Nancy De Cilio GauthierMarch 4, 2016 at 11:42 AM

      Reminds me so many old Black and White horror movies from the Fifties. Yeah, we went to the movies every Saturday and ate those up.

      Delete
    3. Like the song says, SAD AND FUNNY AND FINE!

      Delete
  9. When Peter Edgerton was in college, it was a philosophical discussion. “If you had the chance to kill Hitler before World War II started, would you do it?” Not one person in his class said no.

    When philosophers were consulted by the physicists, who thought they were close to underrstanding time travel, the question was asked again. This time, the answer was not unanimous. Some thought the world would be overpopulated if all those who died in the Great War had lived. Technology would be decades behind without the impetus and funding of the war machine. When the physicist discovered their math was wrong, everyone breathed a sigh of relief that the question could return to philosophers.

    And now, Senator Edgerton stood on the platform outside the US Capitol, the platform constructed every four years for the inauguration, and he held a pen in his hand. Not that the pen was mightier than the sword, but a pen that had a very sharp nib and a bladder of poison.

    “…so help you, God,” the Chief Justice prompted the new President.

    “…so help you God,” intoned the President.

    An awkward silence, and then a whisper, “No, Mr. President, you’re supposed to say ‘So help me, God.”

    The President looked at the Justice. “Waddya think I am, stupid?” I’m the President, I don’t make…”

    And Senator Edgerton unscrewed the cap on his special fountain pen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG, this is strong and scary too. We're kind of in a doom and gloom mood after these political debates, huh?

      Delete
    2. Thanks! and no, I don't have a fountain pen that does this...

      Delete
  10. I collect rocks. Not minerals, not stones; rocks.

    Let me show you. This one? This one I found the day I went to kindergarten. When the kids made fun of me, I put my hand in my pocket and I squeezed this rock so hard just to remind me who I was. It used to be a bigger rock, but now I’m older and I don’t have to squeeze it so hard.

    This is the rock I found when Mommy told me I was going to have a little sister or a little brother. See the dark color on it? That’s from me hitting Mommy and telling her I wanted a cat instead.

    And this one, the big one. That’s the rock I found when Bobby was born. It kind of looks like a baby, doesn’t it? And it’s pink like a baby, too.

    These are the two rocks I found on the day Bobby died. Went missing, Mommy says. This one, with the brown stains, all smooth and cool. I think it’s beautiful.

    And this one, this one that looks like a tooth… I just keep it to remind me of Bobby.

    I wonder if they’ll ever find him?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes, the Rock Collector! Poor little Bobby.

      Delete
    2. Nancy De Cilio GauthierMarch 4, 2016 at 12:58 PM

      So Bobby went missing - okay. Sorry, my mind travels in dark circles sometimes.

      Delete
    3. I think your mind went exactly to the place I was hoping it would.

      Delete
    4. I collect rocks, too! I got One from the Collisseum in Rome, one from Chartes, when I was trying to have a baby, One from New York, after 9/11, etc. And some from Aztalan and Cahokia etc. Rocks are just rocks to ordinary people. To us? The anchor to eternity!

      Delete
    5. I really like this one, Leland. So good. And this line is fire: "It used to be a bigger rock, but now I’m older and I don’t have to squeeze it so hard."

      Delete
    6. Gives me a chill. And reminds me, in a perverse way, of the movie "The Man Who Fell From Grace With The Sea".

      Delete
  11. There was no way out. Celia scooted to the edge and looked down at the city. The big yellow taxis looked like toys. Joni Mitchell should have come up here for perspective, she thought while humming, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Her eyes took in the huge skyscrapers, and her eyes stung from the fumes above Times Square. “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
    “Celia, why are you out here? I’m having a huge computer problem and need your expertise.” Connie, a business associate approached, sat down quickly and faced away from the edge before lighting a cigarette. She wore red patent leather shoes; a sort of Oz meets Jimmy Choo design that probably had cost more than her refrigerator. She was becoming one of them, Celia thought. “The stockholders are having their annual meeting and I have to prepare my report. Please come back where it’s warm.” Connie stood, stepped on her cigarette butt and pulled her sweater snuggly around her delicate frame. “Please hurry, it’s freezing out here.”
    “No Connie. I can’t do it.”
    “What does that mean?”
    “I don’t know what it means. It just means I’m ready to go home. Call me a cab or find me a balloon to ride home in. I have to get out of here.”
    “As in a vacation?” Celia watched Connie’s expensive shoe kick the lipstick covered filter over the edge.
    Vacation? This woman was nuts. There was no more vacation or paradise. It was paved with oily dirt and trod upon by phonies in designer gabardine. “NO!” Celia screamed. “I’m done. I’m joining that cigarette.”
    “Shut the fuck up and stop talking trash. I’m calling security.” Connie hurried back to the entrance and disappeared.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, Celia... we've all been there, but Celia, you had the courage to get out... well done!

      Delete
    2. Nancy De Cilio GauthierMarch 4, 2016 at 12:59 PM

      Sometimes you just have to change your life.

      Delete
    3. Agreed. And this is so beautiful: "It was paved with oily dirt and trod upon by phonies in designer gabardine. " - the rhythm is so perfect.

      Delete
    4. I know that feeling well. You nailed it.

      Delete
  12. And this is what it’s like to kiss a werewolf.

    You find yourself in the backseat of a car, on a country road in the middle of a bunch of cornfields, and you’re laying on your back and gazing into someone’s eyes, someone you’ve known for years, someone you’ve crushed on. And you see the eyes up close and you notice that there are flecks of gold in them, and the pupils are wide and wild and you hear him panting. You close your eyes because you know this is just a dream, has to be a dream, can’t be real, and you open them, and it’s real.

    His tongue, rougher than yours, finds your ear and gently licks it and you think he might be whispering but no that’s him breathing hard and hot and your hands explore the muscles of his back, trying to pull his shirt out of his jeans, the jeans he wears so well, and you find the skin of his back, hairy, not furry, and your fingers explore and feel the warmth of him, warmer than your own skin.

    And the car smells differently, smells of excitement and that which is forbidden and sweat and maybe tears. His mouth finds your neck and you feel the stubble on his face, he says he has to shave twice a day now, or the teachers get on him for looking like a hoodlum, except you like hoodlums and you're glad he wears a leather jacket and has a crooked smile.

    And the air is warm and heavy with the humidity from heavy breathing and you feel his chin moving up your neck and you feel his muscles tense in his back, you wonder if they’re growing, if he’s getting ready to change from man to wolf, and you wonder if you will be more or less excited if he does, but when his face comes into your sight you see his crooked smile and gold-flecked eyes and very human lips touch your very human lips and electricity flows between the two of you like lightning in a Nebraska sky and his tongue meets your tongue and your tongue touches his teeth and you feel they are sharp and time stops and you keep kissing until you need to breathe and it’s like he’s reading your mind and he pulls his face away from yours, and whispers, very softly, very urgently, “Was that okay?” And you laugh and pull him close to you and do it all again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy De Cilio GauthierMarch 4, 2016 at 12:53 PM

      Reads very true to life....just sayin'.

      Delete
    2. oh? You've kissed a werewolf, too? ;-)

      Delete
    3. Nancy De Cilio GauthierMarch 4, 2016 at 1:21 PM

      ROFL....a lady never tells.

      Delete
    4. This is mazing. Ha! Pun! I'll leave it! Only MY werewolf took me dancing in a cornfield to the radio and the car lights, first! Is that werewolf foreplay?

      Delete
    5. Those werewolves, they'll steal your heart every time!

      Delete
    6. I'm often glad that you like me, Leland. When you make a gazillion dollars off this, I'd like a vintage airstream trailer. ;)

      Seriously, though.

      Delete
    7. LOL, yeah, when I make a gazillion dollars... and Airstream is cool... I lived in an Airstream van off and on for a couple of years and loved it. Thanks for the kind words.

      Delete
  13. Nancy De Cilio GauthierMarch 4, 2016 at 11:48 AM

    Desert Ghosts
    The shimmering light wavers over hot sands
    Mirages come to sight, portraying desert bands
    They ride as ghosts, come out of the night
    They ride (those hosts), til dark chases light
    They haunt desert wastes, they were always there
    They ride with haste, then vanish in thin air.
    (1961).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, this is beautiful... and it reminds me of the wonderful song, Ghost Riders in the Sky (or something close to that)

      Delete
    2. Nancy De Cilio GauthierMarch 4, 2016 at 1:26 PM

      Thanks....since I wrote that in '61; maybe Johnny Cash got inspiration from me...LOL.

      Ghost Riders in the Sky - Johnny Cash -
      Artist: Johnny Cash
      Album: Silver
      Released: 1979

      Delete
    3. Desert's always full of ghosts. The year don't matter to ghosts!

      Delete
    4. Yeah, I like Johnny Cash, and I like this - hell, I like ghosts.

      Delete
    5. I wonder about those waves of heat and mirages...they're ghosts!

      Delete
  14. I saw her, standing on the opposite side of the road, all impatient and important and too busy to wait. We were both waiting for a break in the traffic, the traffic signals at green. It was lunchtime, of course, and the crowds had built up, people standing three or four deep, all of us needing to be somewhere else. I'd an appointment – I was meeting a client – and I was already running late.

    Of course, it being that time of day, there were plenty of people driving too. Car after car after car, interspersed by buses and taxis with an occasional truck for variety. Everyone hurrying and wanting to be somewhere else. Madam High-and-Mighty, though, she'd got a greater need to the rest of us. It was a shame she'd not got the wits to press the 'call' button on the crossing. Of course, it wasn't just her; there were plenty of others. All of them expecting the traffic to stop for them.

    You'd have thought they'd never been in a town or a city at all.

    Now, me, I'm not a genius. I'd be the last to say that. But I do know the traffic don't stop without you pressing the button. It stands to reason; the city planners want the traffic to flow but don't want people to wait too long. That's why you have the buttons.

    So there I was, hustling forward, pushing my way to the front. Needing to reach the button, cause no-one else had the wit to press it. There must have been fifty, sixty people. And the same again on the other side. That'd be a hundred in total. At least.

    And not a one of them with the brains to press the button. You know, the freaking button that stops the traffic?

    And then I made it. The front of the queue. Right against the box on the pole. The one with the button, ya know? And I was just about to press the sucker when she fell in my face, all hands and knees and without any please, rocking me back on my heels.

    So I pushed her back. As hard as I could.

    Such a shame that the bus never stopped...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I like this one, Mark. The way it builds, and the detail. Well in, my friend.

      Delete
    2. I like how it builds, too... and then the ending.... the ending!

      Delete
  15. The taxi line at the Atlantic Terminal Mall was less a queue and more of a bike lane; replete with a forty eight foot length of asphalt and ten feet across to the plastic cone borders keeping the non-existent taxis hemmed in.

    She was number three in the line. Two men were in front of her one who had young children and the other alone but with numerous packages. She’d been caught coming out of the mall almost immediately by a young man offering to help her. She nodded wearily knowing that any singles in her bag were now spoken for as he immediately commandeered her cart and led her to the sidewalk to wait.

    And wait they did, suffering the unending traffic that comes with a busy Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn, especially when near the mall and still relatively new Barclay Center. Only one cab company could have cabs in the taxi lane she discovered which explained why the empty cabs were passing them by. She wondered idly how much a patch of sidewalk costs in New York City circa 2016. She wondered if it was worth the money exchanged or if it was like so many things – overrated.

    The man with the family finally caught a cab. And when a girl with no packages jumped the line to catch a cab they couldn’t catch on this pre-purchased line anyway, she lost patience and said to the man in front of her, “That was a shitty thing to do.”

    He must have agreed because in a fit of pique he dashed across the street, packages and all, to another livery cab that was letting go of passengers and vented all the way. Now there was only her and her assertive helper. Grabbing whatever dollar bills she could find in the pocket of her jeans she handed them to the man who pushed her cart to this unlucky spot and told him, “Go. I know you have work to do.”

    He didn’t think twice or ask if she was sure. He just left, without thanking her. She didn’t mind feeling he’d been bad luck anyhow. As if to confirm that opinion a cab appeared seconds after, she negotiated with the dispatcher who showed up suddenly from nowhere and evaporated just as quickly when she said she’d meet his exorbitant price for what would be a nine minute ride.

    The cabbie offered to help her get her unwieldy packages in but she was too fast for him; her packages were in and she was seated waiting before he even rounded the car. He was a young man with mocha skin and black tufts of hair that sat on top of his head. He looked slim but muscled, his long legs tightly encased in distressed jeans with holes in the knees. They rode in silence for a while until he got closer to her destination.

    “You live around here?” He asked.

    “Yes.”

    “How long?”

    “Forever. I grew up here.”

    “Ahh that explains it…,” he said glancing back at her, “our people don’t live around her anymore.”

    “Yes, that’s true. When I was growing up you could still get a dime bag of weed on the corner.”

    He chuckled and look back at her again as if she’d surprised him and that didn’t happen often.

    “Now it’s me that’s out of place.” She said. “Like a purple grape in a bed of rice.”

    “You ever think about moving?”

    “Often.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. There's something Dickensian about this. Old and new. A really interesting parallelism.

      Delete
    2. Dickensian is exactly the right word... you've built old and new into the same story...

      Delete
    3. I enjoyed the imagery and especially the purple grape in a bed of rice.

      Delete
  16. Down at the end of Chantilly Road sits an old ramshackle mansion. It’s built in the Federal Style, then, as you cobble around the back, it splits off in an L-shape, obscured now by kudzu and honeysuckle vying for victory over the crumbling, whitewashed brick. There was a barn there once, a smokehouse maybe. It’s hard to tell from the ruins.
    Be careful when you go there, though. The grounds are treacherous with rotted tree stumps and the occasional snake, the earth spongy with moss, nourished by the blood and bones of a hundred nameless bodies and even the air itself seems rank and lifeless save for what might be whispering coming in on the wind that whips up from the creek at the bottom of the hill. If you stand very still in that desolate spot you can hear it. I know; I’ve been there.
    The Burneys were a fine family, those that owned it. One of the finest, I’m told. They made good in cotton and tobacco, then the mills that supported the town. The documents vary as to their church of choice. Some say they were Presbyterians, others, Episcopals. The patriarch, Thomas , stares out from old tintypes with ferocious eyes and a shock of unruly possibly reddish hair. His wife , Natalie, had a peculiar, perpetually startled expression in what photographs survived, a combination of disapproval and terror. It may have only been the flash powder; it’s impossible to say.
    They had five sons between them and grandchildren after that. The sons fought in a number of wars and took over the bank. Their women volunteered at the hospitals and donated to the churches and cut ribbons around the county. Pillars of the community, my sources said. For generations.
    No one ever knew a thing otherwise. Until that day back in ’57. Old Maurice Duncan was fishing near the creek bottom. He noticed the smell first, he said. Then made his way up the embankment like a hound dog, searching it out. The body of a little girl was carefully draped over the back of an old wagon, her blond hair sticky with gore. It appeared, the papers said, as though she had been eviscerated. A fresh hole had been dug in the earth nearby. As though someone had just left the task, planning to return after lunch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Holy Jesus, lady. I don't know how you did this. Super fucking vivid. Wow.

      Delete
    2. Gulp... ANOTHER sleepless Friday night... scary as hell... just the way I like it... well done!

      Delete
  17. During that long, terrible summer, they exhumed a hundred and thirteen bodies before they stopped digging. The remaining Burneys, seventeen in all, were tried, convicted and put to death with stunning efficiency. They all endured it quite stoically, it’s said. Perhaps not fully understanding the magnitude of their crimes.
    A grand daughter, Alice, by then an old woman who’d inherited her great grandmother’s strange light eyes, explained it this way: “They are our harvest. Our communion. We take and eat, as if from the body of Christ and return them to the earth. It is our instruction from God. The guarantee of our prosperity and that of the town, since the olden times.”
    Of the victims, most were never identified. But some were indisputable. The last little girl, Mary Jones had disappeared one day after school. Another, Johnny Nelson, was apparently beheaded, his brain removed on his way home from work. A third and fourth, the Nicholson twins, had their budding breasts removed and in an especially thoughtful touch, re-dressed in their prom gowns before going to God, somewhere in those back fields, there at the dead end of Chantilly Road.
    But the real victims were us, I think.And the real criminals, too. We, the people of the town. My mother ran the grocery store and my dad was the pharmacist. I could not know at the age of ten that I would go on to run the library and the weekly newspaper. But there were hundreds of this community, even back then. Merilee, with the beauty shop, Daniel and the Feed n Seed. Even the Reverends Wilson of the Presbyterians, and Anders of the Episcopals. Man woman or child, we carried within us a kind a special kind of grief. And even when the trial was over; it changed this place, made us turn on one another, clamp down hard on our fears. We could not talk about it, or listen, These horrors were secret. And not to be discussed.
    Which is why I return here, from time to time, to that crumbling house on Chantilly Road. Why I stand very still and listen to those ghosts, whispering their histories upon the wind. We admired them, embraced them, pledged them our allegiance as symbols of our success. Their status was our security and we were always proud of them, even as we settled for so much less.
    We did not know we were raising monsters. We wondered: How was this possible? And yet here in the silence of Chantilly Road, I know we are guilty, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well shit. I'm never sleeping again. You crushed this one.

      Delete
    2. Yeah.... what Dan said... my goodness... I'm feeling the burney....

      Delete
  18. Just for the record? The choice of the name "burneys" in no way reflects my personal beliefs or political affiliations. It's a sound that bubbled up in my head, writing raw. So don't, as they say in Wisconsin "Have a cow." I appreciate your understanding.

    ReplyDelete
  19. When he came back home, that's when it all started - when things started to go downhill. He was still hero man, and the barbecues never stopped until the night shakes started. The stutter tip brain, screaming retarded. RETARDED. In the mirror, then he broke it. There are some things that should remain unspoken. But we understood. He was just broken.

    Then it started to get physical. Bone bruise blackness, repeated attacks - he killed one of the neighbor's cats. But what you gonna say to a war hero?

    I didn't want to see her die, none of us did, but we were complicit. I'll not try to dodge that bullet. And I'm not trying to be cute or to start at the blossom and work to the root. I'll just say this. He gave a lot for his country.

    We all gave a lot for his country.

    ReplyDelete

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