Friday, March 25, 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 got some of it on ya. Still. You can take a million showers, kill a billion brain cells, fight all the wars the machine pumps out. It doesn't come off. 

You can scrub with bleach, give yourself a lobotomy. You can do whatever you want, but it ain't going anywhere. 

You let yourself get dirty - don't expect me to hand you a towel. And don't you go throwing it in. You forfeited that option. His name's Ray, and he deserves a daddy. 

I don't know if your burden's heavier than anyone else's. I just know that we all got 'em. Yours is an ugly one, hurts my teeth. I can't quite wrap my brain around it. Still feels like something that happened to someone on the TV. 

Take the drink if it stills the hand. Hell, I'm no Puritan. Crush it up and shove it into your body. Shoot it. Fold that shame in memory curtains and bury it in your yard. 

But don't expect it to come out shiny. Ain't gonna happen.

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

149 comments:

  1. Dark and brooding... and yeah, Tide don't get that shit off...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the insinuation of the dead-beat parent. It could be something else that won't wash off, but that's what it gave to me. Nicely screwed to the wall.

      Delete
    2. I heard the same thing Ann did. But it's the narrator who strikes me as the true lead character here. Hw does he/she possess all this knowledge? A whole other story buried in some other backyard.

      Delete
    3. Yep. Subtext buried in the backyard. Nice.

      Delete
    4. Nested stories. I love it. Reads true.

      Delete
    5. Brillo pads and Gattaca showers...it's no use. This was beautiful in a brutal sort of way.
      I really liked it.

      Delete
    6. That thing, you can't get around. Consequences. Love it!

      Delete
  2. The snow was carried by wind that day, a wind as fierce as only a treeless prairie can make. It was not a day of Christmas card snow, no candle burned in the window, and dust came with the snow.

    I’d made the journey, and I wasn’t about to let the weather stop me now. I left the rental car at the gate. The lanes between the markers had not been plowed. No one in their right mind would visit a cemetery on a day such as that day.

    I’d left my right mind far behind, somewhere above the city of St. Louis, as I flew in a silver cylinder to Nebraska. Left all that was rational behind, and raw emotion was my only baggage.

    The phone rang early that morning. “We’ve found your father.” The investigators I’d hired were on their own clock, and didn’t care that they’d awakened me from a restless sleep.

    “Is he…”

    “He’s passed on. Killed in a car accident in 2010.”

    Six years. Six years the man whose memory tormented me had been dead.
    “Where is he…”

    “He’s buried in a small town, western Nebraska. Didn’t leave any sort of will, but there weren’t many assets.”

    After they gave me the name of the cemetery, and after I’d googled the name of the town, I made reservations with the airlines and the car rental agency.

    On the flight, I’d thought of the years I’d wasted being afraid of him, angry at him, curious about him. What possible difference could it all make now?

    And so I stood, in a cemetery, in a blizzard, looking for his marker.

    And when I found it, I touched the stone, traced the letters of his name, studied the dates of his birth and death.

    He’d had the last laugh after all. He died on April 1, April Fool’s day. But whether that made him or me the biggest fool of all, I’m left to wonder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I like this one a lot. This is so good: "I’d left my right mind far behind."

      Delete
    2. Nice twist on the end, wondering who is the fool.

      Delete
    3. Painfully real. I enjoyed reading this piece and felt transported to a stormy cemetery.

      Delete
    4. Dan highlighted my favourite line, but I love that whole paragraph. And the final one, of course.

      Delete
    5. thanks for the kind words! I appreciate it!

      Delete
    6. Well dang it, Dan beat me to the line, but "I'd left my right mind far behind..." it does amazing things bouncing around in my head! And like Intangible Hearts, I felt that icy wind at the cemetery too.

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

      Delete
    8. I’d left my right mind far behind, somewhere above the city of St. Louis, as I flew in a silver cylinder to Nebraska. Here in STL, I'd settle for your right mind, honey!Beautifully done!

      Delete
    9. you all make me smile... thanks!

      Delete
  3. I was 37 when I finally figured out that the full moon always rises just as the sun is about to set. All those years, I saw the moon and the sun and didn’t see the connection.

    I was 39 when I made another connection: When there is love, there is likely to follow pain. Heartbreak and love are faithful companions to each other. Death, disengagement, faithlessness; the causes may differ, but the end result is the same.
    At 50, I realized “hope” is more than a word. It’s a religion and philosophy and truth and lie.

    And now, at eighty-something, I can’t remember exactly, I know this. My words mattered, and my intentions, but what I did will be my legacy. The tree I planted, the dog I rescued, the tears I wiped away from others’ cheeks.

    And the day after I die, the sun will rise, and the moon will set. And if it’s a full moon, it will wish the sun a good night. Until then, it's one day, one step, one word at a time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Humanity and pain scored deeply into every word. Fabulous.

      Delete
    2. Yup. Totally agree. And that third paragraph says it all. Well in, L.

      Delete
    3. This line struck me with a baseball bat:
      "I realized “hope” is more than a word. It’s a religion and philosophy and truth and lie. "

      Delete
    4. Lovely, sweet, and sad. And this: "And if it’s a full moon, it will wish the sun a good night."

      Delete
    5. Connection made to awesomeness!Words matter at any age!!♡

      Delete
    6. What everyone else said, and especially Laurie! :)

      Delete
    7. This is sublime. And your words matter very much sir.

      Delete
  4. You slip your hand inside your glove, the thin leather making it feel like you're donning another skin, your hands becoming other to the woman you were before.

    The transformation had begun long before though, the ease and comfort of your bed now a distant memory. You were centred then, fully yourself, the absence of everything else rendering you at your purest. You rose like a goddess, unconcerned, your worldliness shed, your otherness at its height. You were your own creation and able to be whoever you wished, ready to try on other hats and skins as you fancied, imposing yourself on your existence instead of letting the others' world choose for you.

    And so you chose.

    The air in your room was chilly still, your skin tightened in on itself as you slid out from your cocoon, shedding the bedclothes with reluctance. Your robe was first to hand, ready to envelop you and to hug you with its weight, its practicality an embarrassment, its existence a reminder of another from long ago. It was a memory you weren't yet ready to assuage yourself of, a material token of hope and belonging, and above all, home.

    Knifing through the pale light, you laid your hand on the radiator's carcass, knowing its thin ribs would be cold. You swore, softly, and then you shivered, connecting with the floor as its ripples flowed both up and down your body at the one time, rebounding and then peaking above your waist.

    You needed a bra today.

    Stepping over and around the spilled bedclothes, you homed in on that drawer, the one that holds your first layer of intent. Would you be a woman today or would you be a serf? The choice was yours. You'd already decided you'd do people today – the choice of bra or no bra made that clear – but you'd still to crystallise who you'd be for them. Something white and plain or something more daring? Did you want to comply or rebel? Or did you want to be someone else today? You pulled out the lowermost drawer, choosing rebellion. You withdrew the pale lime-green silk set; threaded through both your arms then clasped, stooped, scooped and smoothed before readjusting, a smooth practised ballet that finished all too soon. The pants quickly followed, ice-cool in their colour and weight, your skin recoiling from their touch.

    And then time for food. And then your face. Another shell, another mask. Another layer of duty. The elemental woman sank lower, submerged and disappeared from view.

    Another day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow... how you do that is awesome... writing a female character from the inside out, with such depth and sensuous details... and knifing was exactly the perfect word... well done!

      Delete
    2. It's only easy when you don't realise how hard it is...I just engage with the character and shower the words down onto the page. The lady wrote all this for me: I just took dictation.

      (Although I made a point of writing it while hitching a ride on Dan's 2nd person point of view express. If you're gonna ride the train, you might as well choose which seat you sit in!)

      Delete
    3. Yup. Leland took my answer. This is an impressive piece.

      Delete
    4. The cold imagery, the stark concepts, the harshness of the thought misted with the feel of the daily grind, are all so true of a woman in today's society. it's a daily battle.

      Delete
    5. Fascinating. I want to know more.

      Delete
    6. Hmmm.So personal and intimate. A mirror that laughs with clever poetic metaphors such as the radiator's ribs. I need curtains! :)

      Delete
    7. And yes, second person works well here. "Another layer of duty." Poignant.

      Delete
    8. I really liked the line "You were your own creation and able to be whoever you wished, ready to try on other hats and skins as you fancied..." That really struck a chord with me. It just fits so nicely!

      Delete
  5. When the full moon rises in Desolation, Texas, there aren’t any trees to block the view. The first curve of the moon above the sagebrush, the hot air rising from the ground makes it shimmer, like a ghost. As the last rays of the evening sun race through the dusty sky to light the silvery disc, it turns the silver to blood, and just as suddenly, when the marmalade of sunset fades, the moon regains its purity.
    Some nights, I pull off the two-lane highway and drive through the ranch land, looking for something, but I’m not sure what. And sometimes I pull off the dusty gravel road, and lie down in the back of my truck, counting stars, trying to remember constellation names.

    Tonight, this full moon, I know why I’m here, why I’m on this dusty road, why I’m sitting up in the back of the truck, looking at that old farmhouse. It’s the house where Tony lives. Everyday, faded-jeans-with-a-crease Tony. I’m here because of him, but I can’t tell you if it’s because I want to see if he turns into a werewolf like he says he will, or if I’m here to protect him from the ravenous church crowd that is going from house to house in town, looking for a monster. I guess the shotgun in the truck might be a clue to the answer.

    Maybe the townspeople won’t come out this far. They seem to like their creature comforts, nice streetlights, old Sheriff Watson swaggering around town with his pistol in a holster. I can hope.

    The thump in the sagebrush between me and the house catches me off guard. My adrenalin rushes. A mangy coyote looks out from his hiding place, wondering if I am food or competition. He doesn’t look like he’d care for me much, one way or the other.

    And I look at the house in the light of the moon. A shadow passes in one of the windows. Definitely two legged. I wish for my binoculars, but they’re home on my desk. Instead, I use the hypervision of my imagination to see Tony undressing before bed, tonight just like any other night. Does he sleep in his underwear? Or naked?

    “You okay?” The voice comes from the side of the truck, and there he is. White t-shirt and jeans and a big ol' rodeo belt buckle.

    “Yeah, yeah, I’m okay.”

    “I guess you’re wondering why…”

    “Nah, I kinda guessed you’d be here. He looked inside the truck and saw the shotgun. “It’s sweet, you wanting to protect me.”

    “It’s a full moon, aren’t you going to…”

    “Change? Yeah, that happens later, closer to midnight. By that time, it’d probably be a good thing for you to be gone from here and home safe in bed.”

    “But what if…”

    “I’ll be fine. You wouldn’t believe how fast I can run when…”

    “When you’re a wolf?”

    “Yeah.” And he smiles and I’m disarmed and my legs feel like jello and I feel like a doofus again and he leans in and kisses me. “Really,” he says as he breaks away from me. “Really you should go.”

    And he helps me out of the back of the truck, wraps me in a bear hug and pushes me to the driver’s side door.

    And I get in, and start the engine, and he slams the door shut, and puts his hand on my arm and I swear there will be blisters there tomorrow from the heat of his hand, and I lean in for one more kiss.

    “I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.”

    If there is a tomorrow, I say to myself, and I grind the gearshift into first and flip a U turn in the road. As I drive away, I look in the round rear view mirror and I see him standing there like James Dean in a cloud of smoke and the moon behind him and his hand raised in a wave.

    Oh yeah, I got it bad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So bad it's good. Jaw-droppingly good, in fact!

      Delete
    2. So here's a frustration... I can't figure out how to write "flip a u-ee" meaning, make a u-turn in the road... youie has too many vowels in a row, u-ee makes you stop and think too much... sigh... such a simple word when you say it out loud...

      Delete
    3. Maybe a 'U'ee might work. Sometimes on-the-nose speech doesn't work when written - maybe this is one you have to give up?

      Delete
    4. yeah... sigh... but it'd make that sentence so much better....

      Delete
    5. Loving the piece. Flipping a bitch? Or maybe that's just a CA thing...

      I am really digging the wolf. :)

      Delete
    6. The infamous online slang dictionary offers "yewy" "you-ee" and "u-ey" and it reminded me of the other slang term, specifically for a left u turn, "hang a louie"
      And thanks for liking Tony!

      Delete
    7. Ah! You give us more Desolation. Thank you! It is striking and wonderful, as expected.

      Delete
    8. Love it. Drawing a blank on the U-turn thing, aside from the suggestions already made.

      Delete
    9. amazing. Marmalade sunsets and faded jeans with a crease. You paint the picture....LOVE IT!

      Delete
    10. This just puts a big goofy smile on my face. I love these stories, I cross my Paws every week hoping you'll have another one. Thank you :)

      Delete
    11. Thank you all... and if I publish this anywhere else, it will be "hang a louie" for the u-turn...

      Delete
  6. If you do that, you're going to break your umbrella. Maybe it's not my business. And I don't want to throw off your schedule - I imagine you're the type like's schedules. Little boxes you can check off in your mind. Number labyrinths that you depend on, and I think are little quantitative impossibilities.

    Me? When it rains, I get fucking wet.

    Then, I dry off. Seems to work alright.

    You're gonna kill that damn car. If it doesn't kill you. Hell of a present to give someone. Might as well give you a loaded gun.

    You gotta accept that I have all the answers. I'm the man behind the curtain, pulpit, conspiracy, puppets ... I hold all the cards and I deal them out as I see fit. Here's another Joker. I don't even know what the fuck they're for.

    Feed the cat. Put the lights out before you go to bed. Don't fall asleep smoking - I got little scars all over my chest. Never did get a good night's rest.

    You stay there, I'll take the air. Let the flutter of hummingbird wings lift me high above the trees, up into the sky. You wouldn't like it up there. And I wouldn't like it if you didn't like it. I wish you had it still - that charm that used to work on both of us.

    Just drink your coffee, I'll watch your teeth get blacker. I'm done talking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a stark contrast between the described and the describer... like a sweet and sour concoction... now pardon me while I pour myself another cup of coffee and wonder how I can steal my favorite line from the piece, "Number labyrinths that you depend on, and I think are little quantitative impossibilities. "

      Delete
    2. It's like a slice of God's thinking about someone with OCD, someone who manages to do everything right in spite of Him. Yeah, I'm a little heretical, but so is your writing. :P

      Delete
    3. Give her a dose of her own medicine, huh?

      Delete
    4. You draw whole worlds of character in so few lines. I'm in awe of that.

      Delete
    5. I wish you had it still - that charm that used to work on both of us. KILLER!

      Delete
    6. I have to agree with David and that charm line! Yowza!

      Delete
    7. I have to agree with David and that charm line! Yowza!

      Delete
  7. It was so exciting: Johnny Baker’s first night out on the (in)famous Sunset Strip. He was too young to get into, much less get served at, most of the bars, but the Whisky A Go Go was having an all ages electro night, so his roommate Derek convinced him to come out.

    Johnny was a little worried that he’d be surrounded by real smug, pretentious Hollywood types when he started at UCLA, and they would be mean to him because they thought he was some kind of ignorant rube. It didn’t help, how many strangers around campus addressed him as “Cubby”, presumably referring to the well-worn Chicago Cubs cap he wore, admittedly rather often. But, he hoped, they were just assuming he was from Chicago, and couldn’t readily tell that he was, in fact, a wide-eyed kid from Caulfield, Illinois; a declining farm-and-factory town downstate, a hundred-something miles from the Windy City.

    Derek was no more than a year older than Johnny, but he at least tried harder to act cool. He was, by most metrics: he was born in Ottawa, but mostly grew up in tony Newport Beach, like the kids on The OC. A couple inches taller, and markedly more confident, though not necessarily deservedly so; he wore his Canadian-ness like a status symbol, a badge that he thought negated how much he was just like a million other young men burdened with US citizenship.

    So when Derek tried to spit his game at this girl outside the club, Johnny somehow wasn’t surprised, when she blew a cloud of cigarette smoke at his face and told him, “step off, bro.” He still persisted, backing her up against the wall, until she pulled out a knife and told him again, “if you don’t get the fuck out of my face, I will cut you.” She bobbed her head in Johnny’s direction and added, “is that your boy? Him, I might talk to, but you are so not my type.”

    They sure didn’t make ‘em like her back home. Pale and willowy with short black hair, paradoxically asexual and overtly sexy at once, her svelte frame wrapped in tight, holey jeans and a lace-up black leather vest, eyes masked by heavy-handed eyeliner and shadow, lips tinted a shade that Johnny’s mother might have called “whore red”. In fact, he wouldn’t have been surprised if that girl was a prostitute, but he doubted anyone that pretty would be turning tricks on the streets of Hollywood.

    He never would have guessed that she was a product of an agonizingly stable, functional, middle class home in Reseda, the younger daughter of a junior high English teacher and an accounts-payable clerk at MGM.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really feeling this one. The reveal at the end. Awesome character development.

      Delete
    2. You capture urban so well. It's like street art.

      Delete
    3. I Love it. How DO we fit IN, when all we want is to STAND OUT?

      Delete
  8. 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 who 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 into a too bright sun and behind at smiles bathed in 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 see, life's built upon a foundation of scars and you learn such things after a few scaldings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This one seems so familiar to me. Like it already existed in my mind. Really beautifully constructed, Joe. Lovely.

      Delete
    2. It really is good... I like the whole scene, and the last sentence couldn't be any truer.

      Delete
    3. I love it all, and especially "icons with no religious meaning." And the joe with Joe written on the side, a necessary glint of humour!

      Delete
    4. That punch line has PUNCH! And yet, it's so cool that there is illusion on BOTH sides!

      Delete
  9. He didn't give it a second thought. She sat on the bus stop bench, eyes holding back tears. Momma, I got a new game. You're fishing for the purse. He's got his eyes on a Hollywood sunset. Everybody gotta play their role. Everybody gotta fill that hole - with people, bullshit, anger, fear.

    Greta didn't know shit. Billy laughed at Johnny and Johnny didn't like it. You just set, too chickenshit to do a thing. Me? I don't know who I am. I better check my record collection.

    We'll bring the wagon in case y'all get tired. We're all big girls, and we'll walk most of the way, but we'll crush literary conventions as we go, so grab your gerund hammer.

    You and me and a dog named confusion, dancing toward some grand delusion - plucking lyrics and apples as we go. Absolution.

    It doesn't have to make sense and it doesn't have to be pretty. It just has to hold still long enough for you to suck on it, taste it, let it numb your throat - you feel it constricting?

    I'm dealing words and those shits are addicting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love when you deal words... Jokers and all... and you totally had me at a dog named confusion.

      Delete
    2. "Me? I don't know who I am. I better check my record collection" made me laugh. Whole thing is dope, though.

      Delete
    3. Typing Frantically as she tries not to burn dinner. You set the bar for Flash, dude. I'm just trying to hang out to see if some of your magic rubs off.

      Delete
  10. He stepped out of the doorway, into a cone of neon. The light was static-scratched by a light rain. He pulled the brim of his hat down over his eyes, flipped a cigarette and missed. Tried again. Lit it and took a deep drag. He tried to take a step, but the world wouldn't hold still.

    He was on some trip in his mind. Like he was from a Goodis novel and on the make. Some stupid shit. Something better than being a drunk accountant with nowhere to go on a Thursday night. He knew his options. None of them good. None of them memorable. None of them involved women with smokey eyes or snappy dialogue.

    A woman stepped out of the shadows and the man smiled bright.

    "You looking for something mister?"

    It crossed his mind. Why not? She was pretty. He had money. Yeah, that might just be the ticket. A piece of ass to hold onto through all the bleak Thursdays fanning out in front of him. He opened his mouth to speak, but didn't get the chance.

    He didn't feel the blade go in. And he died quickly, thinking, "at least I'm done with Thursdays."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Inevitable demise. Foreshadowing in the flip of a cigarette. Nicely done.

      Delete
    2. Agree... and it's good to see female killers get equal time. But I'm especially intrigued by the first two lines... very synesthetic (I think that's the right word... where you see sounds, or hear smells or such)

      Delete
    3. Damn. You should write more noir, brother. Perfect ending.

      Delete
    4. Bangs head against wall. I couldn't do this in this many words if my whole LIFE depended on it! KUDOS!

      Delete
  11. The nurse had given the shot in the arm, the bite and sting of the penetration, the burn of the drugs being pumped into the muscle, the hiss of breath over the comparatively minuscule pain.

    "Now," the nurse said, "that may sting a bit for a few days. If it gets hot, put an ice pack on it. If you start burning a fever, give me a call, all right?"

    I nodded. This was nothing new. I would go home and sleep it off. I always did. I just got tired of the injection point swelling, getting warm, me getting listless, and the dreams.

    There were always dreams, and they wer always similar. The slight itch on my arm. the swelling lump, the heat like an incubator rising from that place on myski. My arm would get kinda floppy. Even int he dream I would try to sleep, but at some point the inevitable squish-pop woudl sneak into my ears. The wet feeling on my arm, no matter how I was positioned. Then would come the really creepy part. The touch.

    It might be the prickly touch of a mantis forearm, or the slithery feel of a tentacle, or the light touch of human skin. The injection point would invariably give birth to something, some Vernian creature that would pull itself out of my arm, out of my essence, and turn to look at me.

    "Mama?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorryf or those typos - sneaky little buggers...

      Delete
    2. Wonderfully creepy... I really really like it!

      Delete
    3. And about typos... I know how hard it is to type with tentacles and mantis arms...

      Delete
    4. Wow. Creeped me the hell out and I read a lot of scary stuff!

      Delete
    5. Word! I'm late and a ditto head, but yep. I didn't notice one typo, too busy reading. :)

      Delete
  12. In a world accustomed to miracles, the mother pushing a baby carriage doesn’t think about why the twenty-dollar bill made her stop at the street corner as a drunk driver ran a stop sign. A man doesn’t know that the cat who vomited in his shoes and made him late for work kept him from being held hostage in a bank. A woman with indigestion bad enough to go to the emergency room doesn’t thank the chef for creating a situation where the tumor on her lung was discovered.

    Just under the third star, near Orion’s belt, an ancient quill scratches across yellow parchment. “Dear Senator: What will it take to get a living wage for guardian angels?”

    If only the angel had a twitter account.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is awesome. I wonder about those a lot. So much chaos, so little control. Leave five minutes late - could make all the difference.

      Delete
    2. You rock! It's a Wonderful Life, if only we could see it.

      Delete
    3. Thanks... chaos seems to be my guardian angel lately....

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

    ReplyDelete
  14. Chuck Adams.

    He'd struck me as being my type the instant I saw him: his manner was self-confident but not knowing and he was dressed in a way I liked; his shoulders pushing back at the denim crossing them and his waist cinched in with a thick wide belt. He walked without looking about him – no worries about who he was – like an apex predator patrolling his waterhole, just looking for prey. Of course I had to speak to him; it was like I was drawn his way. No hesitation from this boy.

    “You drinking?” I asked, immediately cursing myself. Damn fool, I was – what else would he come to a bar for?

    Adams slowed his transit, steering himself toward my stool. “Yeah,” he said. “A light Bud would do me fine. You buyin'?”

    “For sure.” I gulped, suddenly needing a drink of my own, my own glass empty and netted with foam. “Barman?” I squeaked.

    Chuck said nothing, he just settled himself down, pulling his elbow in when it dropped in a pool of spillings. The barman returned, leaving us a bottle each, planting them onto the wood of the counter like they were made of lead.

    “You come here often?”

    Adams angled his head, obviously laughing inside. “Most weeks,” he said, wrapping his hand about the bottle. “You?” He raised its neck to his mouth, his smile widening.

    And it was then I knew what I'd been hoping for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome... you got the setting and the characters exactly right... I've been in that bar, and I've met Adams

      Delete
    2. I was hoping not to be too heavy-handed and cliched. I don't often write male characters and certainly not as protagonists.

      Delete
    3. I like that you're stepping outside the box... that you're doing what Toni Morrison says about writing about what you DON'T know... first the female point of view in the earlier piece, and in this one, a gay male. You're rocking it!

      Delete
    4. I'm willing to try anything. It's all good experience and it can only help develop my skill as a writer. Besides, we all share the same emotions - it's just that some express them more fully than others. Humanity is a common theme for all writing, whether we acknowledge it or not!

      Delete
    5. I also love the deft little details in this: "netted with foam" is lovely, and this—"planting them onto the wood of the counter like they were made of lead"—hints at so much more.

      Delete
    6. Ditto. And HELL YES for writing shit you don't know. Every time I hear someone say "write what you know" I want to vomit. Exploration is half the fun!

      Delete
  15. Mitch took two steps toward Edith and stopped. She hated the house; he could tell from her face. They’d seen at least two dozen, and this was the only one in their price range that ticked off all the boxes: manageable commute, decent taxes, good schools. He’d had a feeling about this one, had woken up that morning brimming over with possibility, his favorite upbeat pop song running through his head. Humming it while he made coffee, shaved, brushed his teeth. But now he felt the happy major chords sagging into a minor and twisted key, the slow decay blending into his heartbeat and the chattering background voice of doom he’d been working so hard to smother.

    “What?” he said.

    Her lips pressed tighter. The gesture drew her nose down, giving her a pinched, superior look that reminded him of her mother, but he’d been with her long enough to know that vocalizing the thought was the quickest path to an argument.

    She peered out the living room window; the realtor stood on the front lawn, talking on her cell phone. “It’s haunted.”

    Mitch laughed. And as her eyes tightened, he let the outburst die. “You’re serious. Since when do you believe in ghosts?”

    “I didn’t mean haunted as in ghosts,” she said. “I meant as in the energy. Like the people who lived here before hated each other. I don’t want that negativity infecting our future.”

    Mitch swept a glance around the first floor—the empty living room, the empty dining area, the empty kitchen—looking for or trying to sense this quality that he couldn’t quantify. No negativity from the surroundings, just a growing sense of frustration that maybe her constant roadblocks told a different story. One he didn’t want to hear. “So, what do you do for that?” He smirked. “Burn sage? Call an exorcist?”

    Nothing on her face said she appreciated his attempt at humor. But the movement of her left hand drew his gaze. The fingers opened and closed, the thumb drifting to the engagement ring, as if it were suddenly too small. When she noticed him watching her, she whipped the hand behind her back and flashed a brief, fluttery smile. “Never mind,” she said. “It’s perfect.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is so good... all of it. And you give the reader a chance to write more of the story... every time I read something you write, I learn more about what good scene setting and character development is... thank you.

      Delete
    2. Leland said everything I was going to say! Such natural storytelling.

      Delete
    3. Yup, Leland nailed it. And the music analogy is so good.

      Delete
    4. This is SO GOOD! aS A CHRONIC house hunter, it's all about the intuition, and at the same time, ALL about the practical!

      Delete
  16. I know why you live here now.
    The young boy said as he smiled his sad, old smile.
    I get it now.
    I understand.
    I know why you live on this cold,
    clear, mountain top.
    It's breath-taking, yet...you can breathe.
    Maybe the first,
    real breaths,
    you've ever taken.
    You have surrounded yourself with beauty!
    You live in God's Country!
    In his very backyard!
    But tell me illustrious one,
    Why does a man yearn to surround himself with such beauty?
    For the possible answers frighten me!
    What have this man's eyes seen...
    that he needs such a daily reminder
    of the grace and beauty,
    of his own God's creation?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. And I love this: The young boy said as he smiled his sad, old smile.

      Delete
    2. Yup! Why do some people need to see only purity and simplicity, in order to remain pure? Fabulous question, posed in an elegant way...

      Delete
    3. Thank you everyone. You make me want to write more! And that is an amazing feeling. :)

      Delete
    4. You should definitely write more!!

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

    ReplyDelete
  18. Her momma had died in childbirth. Her daddy loved her and tried to do the best he could for her, which wasn't much in the way of material things but was plenty good enough in her heart. Her name was Bella and she told folks it was short for Belladonna because she liked how it sounded.

    She learned to sew from a patient old townswoman named Millicent, and made her own dresses out of sackcloth. Down by the creek that usually ran dry in the summer months, Bella caught crawdaddies and hummed to herself for days.

    Poor as the dry plains of dirt outside her little town, Bella was a happy child, and like the desert itself didn't even know she was lonely. Sometimes there were only five or six other students in the single-room schoolhouse she attended when she was able, when her daddy didn't need her for chores. Sometimes she played jump rope with two of them, twin girls named Mary and May, but not too often. There was usually something else she had to do at home.

    As the years passed, Bella's face beneath the constant layer of sweat-caked dust grew fair, with a fine jawline and eyes that, pale and without guile, held the innocent promise of love. Her body remained a wisp. Had she met a man of principle and gentle bearing their days would have likely approached fairytale bliss.

    But she didn't have much time for any of that, until the boy, the son of another farmhand, had told her he'd learned about a new trick and would like to do cumulonimbus on her and she thought he meant that game where you guess the shapes of clouds. He grabbed her arm and took her in the barn and when he squatted in front of her and lifted the hem of her dress she kicked out at him and shoved him so hard he stumbled backward and a large nail for holding a hackamore had pushed into the soft downy part just beneath the back of his skull and the light, even in the dusk of the barn, had dimmed from his eyes.

    No one but her daddy listened to her story and they took her to a foster home where her windows had bars and carpenter ants marched stoically to war over her trembling body each night. She tried praying to God almighty but she soon had the sense he either wasn't listening in the first place or had turned his almighty back on her for good.

    They were mean to her. Put scorpions in her shoes and spit in her food. She tried to hold on to that kernel of gold she'd always felt in her center, but each passing day made it dim like the eyes of the boy she'd killed, only slower.

    Then one day she was grown and they let her out.

    Her daddy was older'n he should have been—bent and sad-looking as a lightning-struck joshua tree—as she approached from the west, her scrawny frame in a threadbare dress, barefoot and silhouetted before a furnace sky.

    She wouldn't leave him now, not until he left her through whatever dark portal awaited him, on whichever path. There would be no man for her until then and, thinking this, knowing that night had tried to draw its shade over her all her life, even in this fierce bright place, she felt that ember at her heart begin to rekindle, and found herself content with that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This knocks the breath from my body. I love her name, I love the rhythm, I love the sweet sadness and pain and her devotion to her father. Just beautiful.

      Delete
    2. Ditto. Plus, the sounds, man. The assonance. All throughout, but especially this: Her body remained a wisp. Had she met a man of principle and gentle bearing their days would have likely approached fairytale bliss.

      This is fucking good, dude.

      Delete
    3. So Lovely. Sucked in with this. like the desert itself didn't even know she was lonely. And you never let go.

      Delete
    4. I'm blown away... completely and totally. Poetry and prose married perfectly.

      Delete
  19. and I think, still in two parts. I'm trying to cut down, honest!

    Mama wasn’t what you’d call religious, at least in the usual sense. Oh sure, she’d make you say your prayers and go to confession and all that, like regular people did, but in her particular case there was more to it than prayers and communion. She knew things.
    Daddy wasn’t like that at all. He was skeptical of the whole business, at least until later on. He was raised a Protestant and cut his teeth on the Bible. He could quote you chapter and verse and then some. But you could tell he didn’t really buy it, even if he knew it by heart. If there was ever a man who went to God with a chip on his shoulder, ready to start an argument, it was Daddy.
    But like I say, Mama was different. But it wasn’t ever about religion, exactly, either. Matter of fact, one time, even though we were Catholic as anything, she decided she’d had enough of that lying hypocrite Father O’Malley breathing vodka fumes in the confessional every week and having the shakes so bad on Sunday mornings he’d nearly drop the Host, that she couldn’t take anymore and hauled us all off to become temporary Presbyterians over at that that big red church on Allan Avenue. But then, she got into a disagreement with them over “pre-destination”. She didn’t believe in that, that one religion was automatically saved over some other one. She was pretty much convinced that there was room in Heaven for everybody. Well, it was that reason. But it was also that one Sunday, we all stood up to sing “Raise your Ebeneezer” and my sister in the eighth grade got the giggles fit to die. And she got Mama and Daddy going and me and my brother, too. We were all laughing so bad we had to leave. And never went back.
    So we tried a couple of Baptists and even a Church of Christ but they didn’t satisfy her, either. She said the Baptists were a bunch of bigots, and the Paulists were as bad as the first one. She liked the Jews okay, and tried her hand at making Challah and not working on the weekends, but Dad claimed it didn’t feel right to him and besides, he’d lose the overtime.
    But all the time, she knew things, could do things, like some saints I’d heard about. I remember asking her whether I’d pass a math test and she told me, “Of course. Why wouldn’t you?” And I said: “Because I’m no damn good at it, is why!”
    And she came and put her hands on me and said. “But you will pass. I know it. God told me.”

    ReplyDelete
  20. I knew better than to fight with that, even if I’d wanted to. First, because she was my mother and hardly ever lied. And second, because I already knew from my father it was a bad idea to argue with God, no matter what church you went to. It just doesn’t do a person any good.
    And so we went back to being Catholics, eventually. But that was mostly on account of that Easter Sunday when my brother, hyoed on suger Peeps and chocolate crucifixes, slammed his hand in the door of our ’58 Chrysler and mashed two fingers completely to hell. It hurt so much, he didn’t even cry. Just turned white as a ghost and sank to his knees in the grass.
    Mama didn’t say nothing; she just got out of the car and came around to where we were standing. I was trying to keep my Easter bonnet on and my stomach down, transfixed by the vision of what had been fingers, turning to hamburger before my eyes.
    She took out one of her handkerchiefs, wrapped it around that mashed up flesh, laid his hand in hers and said. “This isn’t so bad. Let’s say a prayer.” And we all, even Daddy, seeing what had happened, bowed our heads.
    And after a few minutes she took away that hankie and kissed my brother’s forehead. “You see?” she said. “I told you it wasn’t so bad.”
    And we all stared down at what had been mangled fingers attached to a seven year old’s hand. And in their place was something beautiful, something sacred and whole. And none of us, even Daddy, could argue with that.
    We were halfway to the Cathedral before we saw what had happened. Mama sat on the passenger side, staring at her palms and moving her lips, trying to comprehend the fresh-bleeding wounds that appeared there.
    She displayed them to my father, who nearly ran off the road. “Do you see this?” she asked him. “Is it—stigmata? Is it—real?”
    He slowed to a stop light, taking each of her hands in his, turning them over thoughtfully while he sorted the miracle in his Protestant mind. “I don’t know what it is. But never mind. Does it hurt?” He asked her, kissing one hand.
    “No-no—not at all. But, how do I go to church like this? What if people see?”
    A horn beeped behind us, urging us on. Dad turned his eyes to the road.
    “Have you got your gloves?” he asked her.
    Bewildered, she reached for her pockets in a soft yellow spring coat, searched in her purse. Even as we pulled into the parking lot of Our Lady of Sorrows, where I knew there would be candles and bleeding statues and the intoxicating scent of lilies and resurrection.
    “You got your sunglasses?”
    “Sure.”
    “Just put them on for Mass, “ he told her. “We’ll figure out the rest of this later on.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Woah. I like this so much. Makes me want to go to church just to think for a while. ;)

      Delete
    2. I'm so glad I didn't accidentally miss your posting because I love it!

      Delete
    3. You know, if something makes Mader want to go to church, it's really good... and it is!

      Delete
  21. After dinner, Sarah cleared the table but she was still too short to do a good job without standing on a chair, so Charlie told her to wash up and go to bed. He would do the dishes. Even though Maggie’s tour had started three months ago, Charlie still wasn’t used to having dinner alone with just their girl. He missed the laughter at the table when they all were in the same room. It would have been even better if Nicky could have been there too of course, but nobody in the family liked to think about how much little Nicky was missed.
    As he dried the last dish, Charlie focused on his ears and listened for any ambient noises in the house. Every house has a particular sound too it and Charlie knew the sounds in this house as well as he knew the sighs his wife made when he touched her – maybe better. It was too quiet. There was no music coming from upstairs, which was usually a tell-tale sign that Sarah was getting ready for bed.
    Charles walked to the staircase. When he walked halfway up he could see into her room and she wasn’t there. The bathroom light was out and the door wide open. Where was she?
    Moving faster now, Charlie open the front door and debated if he could find her in the last bit of daylight they had. Deciding to chance it he tumbled down the porch steps and began to prowl around to the back of the house where they kept the dogs.
    As he got close to the dog house, which was really just a wooden platform surrounded by chain link fencing rigged around it, he noticed a familiar shade of blue. It was Sarah. He knew sometimes she came out to say goodnight to the two pups who weren’t really pups anymore. But as he got closer he discovered that she had indeed come to visit and stayed for a nap. Both dogs were accommodating; Sarah’s head rested comfortably against the rib cage of one dog, while both her legs were delicately placed over the stomach and back of the other dog. Surprisingly all three seemed to be in a deep sleep.
    Charlie considered not disturbing them but then changed his mind when he realized he felt left out. Careful not to wake the girl Charlie picked her up. He did wake the dogs though as he started to carry his daughter back to the house.
    Letting out a short, sharp whistle he said to them,
    “Come on you two, there’s room on the couch for all of us.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This builds so well. I could feel the click click click like when you're going up a steep rollercoaster...and you round it off so nice.

      Delete
    2. I like the visuals,sounds and images. You brought me in. Very cool.

      Delete
    3. This made me smile so much... beautiful

      Delete
  22. Wendy had tried listening to the preacher; his words didn’t make sense and the singsongy way he spoke them set her teeth on edge like he was a TV channel she couldn’t change. So she made a game of tapping one finger over another on her frilly-skirted lap, counting as high as she could before starting again.

    The hiss to her right was as sharp as the elbow in her side. “Stop fussing or I’m taking away your Easter basket.”

    Her mouth fell open.

    “Yes, I meant that,” Grandma Esther said. “Now pay attention to the preacher. This is for your own good.”

    She clasped her fingers tight together, hoping that would help her focus and keep her grandmother from taking her chocolate bunny and jellybeans and luscious cream eggs that she tucked away for later. But the preacher went on with his Bible talk. That’s what her mother had called it. “Bible talk and silly creation myths,” she’d said, before Grandma Esther had sucked air through her teeth and banished Wendy from the room.

    Wendy missed her mother. She missed their Sunday mornings, when they made pancakes and put Broadway show tunes on the stereo and sang and danced. As much as Wendy tried to keep telling herself that it wasn’t her fault Mama had to go to jail, she couldn’t make it stick. Especially when Grandma’s bridge friends came over. It wasn’t hard to hear them through the walls, talking about the wages of sin, and silver linings, and giving certain young children moral fiber. Sometimes Wendy thought that having no moral fiber was some kind of failing on her part, like getting cavities from not brushing her teeth. But tapping finger on finger again didn’t add up.

    “It’s been eight Sundays,” Wendy hissed back.

    Grandma hushed her. But Wendy wouldn’t be hushed. “You said if I went to church for eight Sundays, I could visit Mama.”

    Grandma leaned close. Her teeth were yellow; her breath smelled like cigarettes. “Eight Sundays of being a good girl in church,” she said, barely above a whisper. “That was our agreement.” Then she sighed. “But it’s Easter, so we’ll make an exception.”

    Wendy thought about that for a moment. “Mama doesn’t like Easter. She says it’s a made-up holiday stolen from the pagans.”

    “Even more reason to go,” Grandma said, wrapping her hand too tightly over Wendy’s. “To show her what faith is really about.”

    And Grandma Esther turned back to the preacher, who sang about second chances, and forgiveness, and dying for the wages of sin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. God. Damn. Lady. This is the shit. Right down to the last word.

      Delete
    2. Yeah faith is not about what you know, but what what don't...

      Delete
    3. Oh boy you nailed the doubting Thomas. You deserve overflowing Easter baskets.

      Delete
  23. Dara looked out the window. She knew the sun was well up, but the trees still clung to their woolly blanket of fog. She thought she might never become accustomed to the morning ritual of moisture hanging over everything. It was not just int he mornings, here, either. Any time of day or night that nature felt the urge, there was fog.

    "Here, child.' Auntie stepped up behind her, as silent as the fog, holding forth a steaming mug. "Coffee warms the spirit as well as the body."

    "How did you know?" Dara asked, taking the mug.

    "The fog affects everyone in one way or another. You looked like it was wrapping around you, making you want to go back to sleep."

    Dara yawned. "Now that you mention it..."

    "It got to me that way, too, at first. Then I learned how quiet it makes things. I can tend the herb beds without avian company or enjoy the warmth of the kitchen as it takes off a chill."

    Dara sipped at the hot brew. "I can take a hint," she said wryly.

    "Finish your coffee. There's no rush."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, this is so deftly done. Like hypnosis. I love it.

      Delete
    2. soft and beautiful... and coffee!

      Delete
    3. Reminds me of my warm snuggly Aunt. She warmed my spirit.

      Delete
  24. My fingers fall over my fingers, or my thoughts fall over my thoughts. It's one of the two, how do you do?!?! Let's go connect some dots! I have ideas and queer damn notions, I pick them like forget me nots .. drops in a squallid ocean.

    I have a sly rebellious streak, sometimes it gets me caught. In rhymes and schemes and hopes and dreams. In doubt and hatred, dressed as thieves. I am part Superman, part Keanu Reeves. I am durable. I am made of hard plastic. Would you like to buy me?

    I smell fantastic.

    Seriously.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like it... a lot... and it's an awesome autobiography, when you stop to think about it.

      Delete
    2. Makes me think of a sort of AI voice...Do More with this ?!

      Delete
    3. Have to be proud of that rebellious streak!

      Delete

  25. A man in flowing robes and a long scraggly beard glanced her way before speaking. “Oh, you’re here,” he said acting as if he had known her all his life. He opened a giant book and wrote something in longhand. “We remember you. It’s here somewhere but I don’t have time to look for it.”
    “What?”
    “That smile of yours. Quite stunning,” he said straightforwardly. “You were the happy girl with the brightest smile of all. It glowed so far around you that we took notice and the last time we saw it we scooped it up and kept it in storage. It’s here somewhere.”
    Storage? She wondered what it meant. Was it on ice? Questions flowed through her mind but she didn’t want to cause any problems. “Should I go look for it?”
    “Sure, they are in alphabetical order by your first and your most recent last name, age and date.”
    “What date? Do you go by my birthday?”
    “No, I told you I’m very busy. We go by the last time we saw it. For you it was around the time the doctor diagnosed you....” He cleared his throat and pulled on the end of his beard. “Excuse me, I am very busy. Why don’t you take a look for yourself?” He pointed to a giant room with brimming boxes labeled with various attributes, talents and dreams. “It’s not as disorganized as it sounds.”
    Her mouth agape, she felt awestruck and took a small step into the room where she noticed boxes of lost smiles stacked above dancing toes and giving hands. She shuddered to think people lost their toes because they didn’t dance anymore or lost the use of their hands because they became greedy. After pulling out a few of the smiles and trying them on, she gave up. None of the ones she tried had fit. She backed out of the room and returned to the man with the large book.
    “I couldn’t find it,” she said.
    “That’s fine but I’m not surprised.” He pointed at some bleachers next to a lovely gate and told her to have a seat. “Don’t worry, smiling is not imperative around here and who knows, your delightful smile might redevelop.” He watched her take a seat, and then turned to another person asking, “Next?”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I Love it. what do we do when we cannot do anything without a diagnosis?

      Delete
    2. this is fun... and St. Peter better get with the program and put it all into a database!

      Delete

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