Friday, June 3, 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.

"So, I had this dream last night. I was drunk as all hell. I just want you to know about the dream. It wasn't anything. Except weird. But I thought you should know. It brought back some stuff. I know I've said it before, but I'm sorry. I know it could have been worse, but it could have been a damn sight better. It took me away from the family. There were a lot of things I was trying to get away from, but family wasn't one of them. I wanted to be the kind of guy that was always their for their kids, their wife. It took me a while to figure out that being present wasn't the same as being there, and that wasn't fair to anyone. You. The kids. Wasn't even fair to me, really. I'm not looking for sympathy. Just blows my mind how much better things are now. God, I wasted so much time. I missed so many little moments. Didn't seem like a big deal at the time, but those moments add up. Did I ever tell you about the time Jenny asked me why I drank beer? I think she was two. It still breaks my heart. She... listening?"

"...Hmm, yeah, hold on. I just have to finish this post."

The phone flickered in the dark room, sending weird shadows into the corners to dance and mock me. I knew I shouldn't say anything. It would just start another fight. But I did say something.

And I was right.


#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in!


  1. <3 Yes. A million times yes. So much truth in this strong, brief piece.

  2. The silence after the punch stung more than the words preceding it. Time got syrup-slow, but your brain went haywire. Did I really just punch him? I did. Shit. What's gonna happen now? Well, what did you think was going to happen?

    Grass doesn't taste like it smells. Close, but not quite. You were on the ground now and any notion of "fist-fighting" had been replaced by the realization that this was going to be a farce. A hair-pulling, eye-gouging monstrosity. No one was going to tell the story of the fight. Not without a smirk on their face.

    And it was over so quick. And there was no closure. And you knew there never would be. And you thought about Lancelot, how you were like him, but a bitch-ass version.

    And you realized why you should never fall in love with your best friend's girl.

    1. I like when time goes syrup-slow and the brain goes haywire because it really pulled me in even though it 'was over so quick'. Very clever.

    2. Aww. :( Heartbreaking all around. Very nicely told, though. Syrup-slow is a nice word.

    3. Yeah one awesome use of a hyphen: syrup-slow.

  3. Sharpening a knife is deceptively hard. If you want to do it right. Anyone can make a knife reasonably sharp. Hell, you can do that on the sidewalk. Won't cut well, but better than nothing.

    You can sharpen a knife on a wet stone. You can buy a contraption that looks like a robotic insect. That shit will work, but it's like catching a bluegill with a bomb. My thinking.

    If you're good and you're smart enough to respect carbon steel, you can use the bottom of your coffee mug. This works best if you wear pale blue jeans, a feed store cap, and a plaid shirt that has been washed for 40 years.

    You can take it to a kiosk at the mall and they'll get that shit razor sharp. But there will be an old timer with a faded shirt and a coffee mug shaking his head.


    1. Ha! Those old timers have all the answers!

    2. "like catching a bluegill with a bomb.." Nice image.

    3. I still have my grandfather's whetstone...

  4. "I've been willfully blind and incredibly selfish."

    Orianna shook her head, her eyes fixed on the beautiful autumn landscape beyond the window. The Heart of Winter, with it's ice and barren lands, would have suited her mood better.

    "You're entitled to your happiness," she said.

    "Not at the cost of yours," her mother argued.

    "It's just a passing fancy," Orianna said, quick to add, "that's what everyone says."

    Her mother sighed. "If you live long enough, they are all just passing fancies. That doesn't make your feelings now any less valid. It doesn't lessen their power to hurt you. I had no idea your feelings for him were so very strong."

    "And if you had?"

    Her mother hesitated for a moment before answering, both unwilling and unable to speak anything but the truth. "I would have made different choices. I wouldn't not have invited him to court. I would have kept my distance."

    Orianna turned away from the window with a sad smile. "Then I'm glad you didn't know." She reached for her mother's hand. "I'd never want to stand in the way of your happiness. And before you say it, you are not standing in the way of mine. No one is but me."

    Her mother smiled then, a fierce, proud smile. "Tell me how I can help."

    Orianna moved to hug her mother and then took a step back. "I've been thinking about that," she said. "And I have a plan. I'm not sure you'll approve."

    "Does it matter?"


    Her mother smiled another proud smile."You will make a fine queen one day," she said.

    "I hope not," Orianna said, hugging her mother again. "The doesn't bear thinking about."

    Her mother held her and stroked her hair. "I am allowed to abdicate, you know. Retire. Have some peace. Spoil my grandchildren."

    Orianna laughed. "Weren't you just opinining your selfishness and talking about how you wouldn't want to deprive me of my happiness?"

    "Cheeky brat," her mother said affectionately.

    Orianna lay her head on her mother's shoulder and breathed deeply of her perfume. The air was clear between them at last, and her course was set. It was time to get out of her own way and figure out how to be happy.

    1. Love this. I am so into the strong voice. Formal, but not wooden. It taps right into the right place. Downright royal.

    2. Thanks, G. <3

      I'm enjoying being inside the heads of these two. In case you haven't noticed. :)

    3. I love the daughter calling out the mother. What a nice royal episode.

    4. You do seem to have a knack for getting inside the Royals' heads... with just the right amount of conflict, and a big dose of politic... well done!

  5. If you have too much water on your brush, you can dab it here. Delicate. You want to be like a butterfly's wings. Your hand should be almost limp. Your mind should be a paint-smudged t-shirt. All the colors of the rainbow and all the ones in between.

    Don't let the paper get too wet or it will tear. Which might ruin your picture. Or it might make it worth a million bucks and make you some kind of cult-figure celebrity that art-world dickheads wear fringed leather coats to impress.

    But who am I? What do I know? It's just watercolor. Fuck it.

    1. Perfect instructions--like a butterfly's wings--that lightest of touches that they forget to tell you about in school.

    2. beautiful... and spot on about the cult-figure celebrity

  6. The suit was nice. I'll give you that - must have cost a pretty penny. Or an ugly penny. Pretty or ugly, it cost a lot of them, and they were all slick with blood. The suit was pretty, almost. The suit was also a man, and that man had a lot to answer for. He wasn't paying attention, so sneaking up on him was easy. And a piece of pipe feels a lot like a gun.

    You told him it was a piece of pipe, but it wasn't. It was metal with a wheel that spun six deaths if you did it right.

    "You got one minute."

    "Shit, man. you know I can't say anything that's gonna change this. Do what you gotta do. I'm fucking done. And tell the man to go fuck himself. And fuck you. And fuck me. And fuck all of us. Kill me. I'll see you in hell and be glad that we're there. You fuck."

    The gun caved in the back of his head. I smiled. Quiet. Gunshots are so loud. So, that was good. Plus, it would be a shame to waste such a pretty suit. And I knew it would fit.

    Being a twin has its advantages.

    1. Oh so dark. The repetitive fuck section makes it like a Bukowski.

    2. Ooooooh. That last line! Damn. I mean, the whole thing was good, but...damn. Stuck that landing!

    3. yeah, that twist at the end.... but it's all excellent.

  7. Billy watched the butterfly. It was mostly black with blue spots - until the sun hit it, then it was every color blue you could imagine and some you couldn't. Billy was transfixed. He stared at the butterfly and the shouting got softer. He could still hear it. Not the words, the anger. He didn't understand it.

    Billy's dad was yelling and now his mom was crying and they were both so hot with the anger that Billy could feel it - his cheeks were warm. He felt like he was on fire, fevered, dying. He felt like he was drowning in heat.

    The butterfly twitched its wings and Billy thought: please don't fly away. Please, God, please don't let the butterfly fly away.

    And then it flew away.

    1. and for a short time--I'm transfixed. I loved this.

    2. You do heartbreaking beauty entirely too well.

    3. ahhh... like a watercolor done by a master!

  8. I don't wanna be a fucking cog. I don't want to wake up early. I don't even want to wake up. I'd check out in two seconds if I could. Hell, less than two seconds. I'd get every pill in the house and laugh at the pile. I'd pull up anchor and let the wind do what the wind do. Maybe I'd have the balls to do it in a less cowardly way. Maybe I'd be surprised how much blood is inside me. Maybe I'd just go into some deep, wet place. Some dark forest. Someplace where no one would ever find me. Maybe vultures would pick at my corpse. That would be wonderful. There would be value in that. Maybe someday I'll draw the card that opens all the doors.

    Anything is possible.

    1. I'm holding out for ravens to pluck my eyes out, myself... but seriously, you couldn't be a cog if you tried... you are a breath of fresh air, and a gadfly to keep so many people honest...

  9. The guitar hurts me. Too many shows. Too many miles holding onto motorcycles and absorbing vibration. Too much typing. The guitar keeps me from going crazy, but I get hand cramps. It hurts, but the pain doesn't matter. It fucks me up. I miss chord changes and I get mad and I want to shout. Out the window. Just in case someone is listening. "I'm better than this. My hand fucking hurts!"

    Goddamn. Sometimes my left hand cramps up so bad that I have to open it with the other one. And I grimace. And smile. And I imagine both hands cramping up at the same time and picture myself stumbling like Edward Scissorhands, trying to figure out a way to live with claws.

  10. The words, they always came so easily.

    The casual lie, the honest assessment, the judicious mumble, the unintelligible,
    the microscopic, the warm, the cold. They were his true friends, his only friends, stopping by to say hello, to kiss his ring, to kick his ass, to ignore him from across the room, to his face.

    He shared them like potato chips, too often laden with a gooey dip that left him suffering, staring at the ceiling, again, wondering why he’d said what he’d said. In that dark, though, truth proofed brightly.

    He was no one with them and nothing without.

    1. I can relate to this one, brother. And I love the judicious mumble and the truth proofed brightly. Very spare and powerful, Joe.

    2. Powerful words in such a short piece.

    3. "He was no one with them and nothing without." Damn if you haven't just written the biography of every true writer in the world. And you did it well. May the words be with you!

  11. She left on a Thursday evening and somehow that seemed right. Fuck a Thursday. It fucked my Friday. My Saturday. My every day for the next year, but, yeah, go ahead and make it Thursday. Thursday don't mean shit. Thursday's bland and impotent. Monday would have killed me.

    I don't remember exactly what happened. I remember a lot of crying and hugging and I remember the smell of whatever the fuck it was that she always smelled like. I remember the words. One more time. It's gonna be awhile. And I remember thinking, well, that makes sense.

    It didn't make sense. I get that now.

    The smell lingers.

    1. that opening paragraph is, to borrow the word of a writer I respect, DOPE. And my heart echoes his pain... the smell always lingers...

  12. "It's been a while."

    "Seriously? That's your opener? You got your way. I'm here. To hear you out so you'll leave me the fuck alone. So keep the small talk. What did you want to say?"

    "I love you."

    "Ha! You're fucking ridiculous. You know that? You know how stupid you sound right now? This doesn't change anything. Goddamnit. I shouldn't have come. I thought maybe you had something real to say."

    "I do. Love you."

    "Yeah? I love peanut butter. I love sunny days. I love not seeing your mopey ass. Fuck off."

    "It doesn't matter to you? That I love you?"

    The sun pushed the clouds away for just a moment. The ambient grumble of humanity dimmed. There was one precise, clear moment.

    "No, it doesn't matter. It never did."

  13. The sound of water trickling tricked his mind, made it clear like the stream - a point. He was not fishing. His shoulder ached and it bothered him. He stood and caught sun. He watched shadows dance above and below the water. It was good. Still good.

    Diminishing returns. The phrase flowered in his mind, and he wondered if he knew what it meant. Really knew. Or if it was one of those things that people said that made him nod his head, make some agreeable grumble, feel ashamed.

    The water didn't care. The light dancing did not care. The songbirds and the smell of hay and the taste of the sunscreen she made him wear. It made him happier. Made him aware.

    The stream wasn't going anywhere. So, he stood. He stared.

  14. It's hard to think about. You get used to thinking about your body like it's some solid, permanent thing. But it's not. It can very quickly be transformed into a bag of broken twigs. It can rupture and dump your insides. It can be vaporized. These are things we don't like to think about.

    Because they're fucking terrifying, see?

    But that's luxury. You've never seen a liquified body? Lucky you. You've never seen how much blood comes out of a broken head? It's a lot. You should be glad you've never seen it.

    And you probably shouldn't watch Netflix on your phone while you drive.

    Trust me. If you see it, you'll never sleep right again.

  15. Stand right next to the amp. You can feel that shit in your guts and the tinnitus won't come for years. Play the shit out of that guitar. Blood on the pick guard; if you're not tearing your rotator cuff you're not really trying.

    Dodge the bottles people throw. Even if they're plastic - a half full plastic bottle hurts like a bitch. And sometimes it explodes. And who the fuck knows what it's filled with.

    Drink enough that you're not too scared to get on stage. It'll be decades before you wish you had some of those shows back.

    Years before you regret that you made it so black.

    1. Deep and dark, and I never thought about that aspect of performing... "Years before you regret that you made it so black." is awesome.


  16. She crossed her arms conveying negative body language.
    “Look, Mrs. Truong, I’m a divorce lawyer, not a miracle worker. You have to tell me what happened.”
    She didn’t care about the balding lawyer in the thousand-dollar suit. She didn’t care for his shiny tie and his manicured fingernails. All she cared about was deleting and unlinking her name from Mr. Truong and his strange peccadilloes.
    “Was it a cultural thing?”
    “No,” she replied as she tightened the embrace around her own chest.
    “Do you want to talk to a marriage counselor?”
    “No. Why do I need a reason?”
    He brushed a hand through his hair, looked down at the papers on his desk, picking up a Monte Blanc pen, “So irreconcilable differences, then?”
    She rolled her eyes. “Not entirely true.”
    “Well, are you going to tell me? If all he did was, forget to put the toilet seat down, then your case is classified as irreconcilable differences.”
    She shook her head and looked angry. “God, why do you have to remind me? That’s just one of many, many things.”
    The lawyer felt annoyed. This was her second consultation and she didn’t want to talk. “Please, Mrs. Truong, I’m not a mind reader. My firm bills you by the hour. I’m sorry; please tell me what he did.”
    She scowled, twisting her lips into a pout before releasing a short rant.
    “Part of it has to do with decorating our home with pictures of Justin Beiber and Tupac. The rest of the time he’s on Youtube. He also likes Snoop, Fifty Cents and Eminem.”
    “Hip Hop?” He leaned in, wondering what this all meant. “Is your husband into porn?”
    “Oh, no, nothing like that,” she murmured while inhaling. “He’s just a fan. Last week he ordered some clothes and jewelry so he can practice Hip Hop. He ordered a gold retainer for his teeth. He wears Nikes and a giant rhinestone necklace with JT, his initials. You know—pants low—baseball hat.”
    “I’m not seeing the problem. You liked music like that when you met?”
    “Yes, we met in college while clubbing.”
    “So what’s wrong with it now?”
    “Can’t you see from what I said? She moved her arms, stood and looked like she wanted to walk out. “Read my lips--He’s obsessed.”
    “Sorry, Mrs. Truong, I didn’t mean to offend you or upset you in any way but your husband sounds cool. Please come back and sit down.”
    The lawyer reached into his desk and pulled out a rhinestone necklace with the initials TM. He slipped the silver-plated chain over his head and let it dangle above his expensive, silk tie.
    She returned to the chair and plopped down, feeling defeated. That’s when she noticed his Nikes and suddenly a photo appeared of the attorney shaking hands with a guy who looked a lot like Ice Cube. She scanned his office noting photos of him with other celebrities— Presidents--Was that David Hasselhoff or Dan Quayle? Her disbelieving eyes wondered what had happened to the world. “You too, huh?” she asked out of the side of her mouth.
    He smiled and watched her arms return to the closed off mode.
    “Actually, I prefer gangster rap but let’s get back to your paperwork.”
    “Forget it,” she said returning the smile. “Your first consultation was free and you’re billing me for this one but we can’t continue—how much do I owe you-- can I pay your receptionist now? She stood up, grabbing her purse. “I’m gonna find a lawyer who likes Blue Ridge Mountain bluegrass music.”

    1. This is so funny. The dialogue and the build up is awesome. And that last line is killer.

    2. LoL. Nice. I'm on Mrs Truong's side. ;)

  17. Ack. I have to do this in two parts. Part 1:

    Nobody got pulled off the assembly line in the middle of a shift, in the middle of the busy season, unless it was serious. And Trevor knew that when the foreman tapped him on the shoulder and pointed upstairs, to the glass-walled catwalk office, it was really serious. He swallowed. Not only did the knot in his throat stayed knotted, it sent its evil twin spelunking down into his guts.

    At least it was cooler on the catwalk, and with each stair he climbed, more sweat evaporated, unsticking his coveralls from his skin. The crisply tailored executive assistant greeted him with a flat-mouthed, poor-sucker grin, showed him to the conference room, and tactfully disappeared. He didn’t expect coffee, but a glass of water would be nice. Or even a chair. But the big boss didn’t believe in chairs. They lengthened meetings, he said. They encouraged lollygagging, distraction, and god forbid, camaraderie. That never made sense to Trevor, considering the business they were in. He stared at the iconic picture on the wall. A small child in a firefighter’s arms. The big boss was so proud of that one. He talked about it all the time, held it up as an example during his precious quarterly motivational pep-talks.

    Finally, the man breezed in and, frowning, slapped the door closed. “We have a problem, Kevin.”

    “It’s Trevor.” His voice cracked.

    “Whatever. The foreman tells me you’re not meeting your manufacturing quota. And that’s a problem.”

    “I’m trying to…” He nodded toward the factory floor. “I’ve been…” But the usual rationalizations fell hollow in his mind. True, his likes and shares were down. His all-caps to poor-punctuation ratio didn’t hold water, either. Not like his colleagues, who were lighting up cyberspace with anthropomorphized animal videos and fictionalized petitions. Lately, his efforts just…sank into obscurity. And he didn’t know how to change that.

    The boss crossed his arms over his chest and tapped the small, overtanned fingers of his left hand on his right pinstriped sleeve as he gazed wistfully over the four assembly lines, the sea of primary-colored coveralls, the screens flashing with images of kittens and bathroom signs and endangered fish. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it? I love the smell of manufactured outrage in the morning.”

    “I can do better, I know I can,” Trevor said.

  18. Part II:

    The boss went on as if he hadn’t heard. “Take Suzy, down there. That gorilla business, that was genius. Thirty years ago, it would have been two column inches on page thirty-five of the Times. Two inches, a blip on the radar! Now everyone’s talking about it, twenty-four-seven. Instead of those big, thorny issues that frustrate people because they’re too hard to explain in a Tweet, we give them something they can wrap their heads around, get good and mad about. You gotta give me that, Kevin.”

    “Trevor,” he sighed.

    The eyes narrowed. “Yeah. I remember when you were Trevor. The little girl in the well. Ah, you were some hotshot, then. You blew a major recession and two international incidents right off the front page. People sat glued to their TV sets. But I don’t see it any more from you.”

    “The Internet, it’s a different—”

    “Don’t give me that shit, that you can’t change. I got sixty, seventy-year-old ladies down there Instagramming and Snapchatting to beat the band. You want to stay in this business? You roll with the times.”

    Trevor’s shoulders sagged. “Yes, sir.”

    “Ah.” The boss showed Trevor to the door, his smile a demonic twist that in another context, might have preceded the appearance of horns or fangs. “None of that wimpy, down-in-the-mouth jazz. The people can feel it. When you manufacture a distraction, son, you gotta FEEL it. You gotta ALL CAP it in your mind! Because if you’re not feeling it, they’re not feeling it. You get me?”

    Trevor gave him a tepid grin in return, then returned to the factory floor, already feeling the heat prickle the back of his neck, the sweat drip down his back. Suzy’s station blipped and bleeped, the screen popping with emoticons of all configurations and colors.

    And his remained silent. No new likes, no shares, no OMGs or WTFs or calls for someone’s head. He pulled up a new status line, typed “Elvis has left the building,” hit send, then unfriended the company.

    As he burst out into the brilliant clean sunshine, he unzipped the top of his coveralls. And behind him came the murmur: “Elvis Costello is dead?” The factory floor began to hum with electronic chatter. Trevor shook his head and kept walking.

    1. The writing is always good. Conceptually, this is a brilliant piece. I love it. And it's played so well. I think the last line of the first paragraph of any piece is crucial. This: "Not only did the knot in his throat stayed knotted, it sent its evil twin spelunking down into his guts." Dope.

      My favorite line? "When you manufacture a distraction, son, you gotta FEEL it."

      Awesome piece, lady.

    2. Love it and my newspaper background helps me relate.

    3. Yep, it's brilliant... and somehow I suspect it's all too close to the truth... your descriptions always light up my synapses... and I FELT that place...

  19. A blind incandescent bulb swung above him, its bare filament visible beneath a jagged glass skirt. The power room was empty now; the brick-built pits the only proof that turbines and generators had once spun here, their electrical outpourings rivalling the sun during the day and eclipsing the moon at night, Man's ingenuity coaxing energy from the most unlikely of sources. Who would have thought the heat of a water-filled pot could do such things? These people were definitely worth watching.

    The spirit hovered. Its eyes reached further back, seeing through the depths of time to the days when the machines hummed and the dials twitched. The hall was populated then, the men busying themselves with clip-boards and other instruments, their brows creased as they studied their creations. The lights shone then too, their glass envelopes intact and their filaments heated so as to inflame the gases within. But another time beckoned it. A time yet further backward from the here and now.

    Reaching deeper still, the wraith pulled in onto itself, growing solid enough so that it these lights cast its shadow. Another reach and then one more and then it stood again, the ground solid beneath its feet.

    “I think we've got it now.” The tweed-clad engineer tapped on the gauge, it's mouth curving upward when the needle lurched clockwise but still remained within the amber sector of the scale. “We can increase the pressure by another three atmospheres... maybe five. The caulking has made all the difference. Who would have thought that we could make a pressure receiver this strong?”

    The spirit faded once again; its memories of the explosion almost enough to pull it back into full existence. It would never be freed. The past couldn't be changed.

    1. I love the whole thing, but that first sentence is so, so good. Well in.

    2. You could write every day of your life and never find this storyline... Thanks, Dan!

    3. Like a mad scientist, you created intensity!

  20. The economy sucks. There. I said it. But I’m not the sort of girl to let something like that get me down. No, I will survive! I will thrive! I am invincible!

    Still, there aren’t all that many job opportunities for someone like me. I’m black, and I have this uncontrollable urge to lick people. That’s right, I’m a Black Lab. A dog. Wanna make something of it?

    So there I was, lying in the dusty winds of summer, when it came to me, like a friggin’ miracle! I knew my calling! Not just a job, but a vocation!

    With a little help from the hooman, thanks to his opposable thumbs, I had my little place of business set up. I was somewhat inspired by Dr. Lucy in the comic strip Peanuts, but I had my own twist on the idea.

    My buddy Angelo, who has flawless penmanship, made the sign for me:
    “Maggie’s Cosmic Confessional and Lemonade Stand. Forgiveness and Refreshment, on a sliding scale.”

    I mixed the powdered lemonade up, added some ice, turned the sign so it read “The Canine is In,” and waited for my first client.

    1. :) I love this. And I so want to find that stand.

  21. Admitting it to herself wasn't hard. She still did far too much internalizing of her feelings about this situation. It wasn’t as if she didn’t know she had to get out of her head on the decision… this cross road wasn't going away. Part of it had to be based on her heart because that’s where he’d struck.

    No bullshit -- it was a direct hit. A kamikaze strike at all the soft and empty places she’d also been attempting to hide or ignore. He was there too. She could feel that. Especially in their recent conversations. And while he made an effort not to shove her into a decision it was clear he wanted to know what she was holding on to and why it wasn’t him.

    When she thought about him now, many weeks later, she remembered the cologne he wore in the airport and how inhaling a deep whiff of it from his neck before she left, had somehow stayed with her like the persistence of a bad headache or the relished taste of a good meal. More physical and mood shifting than your typical memory. And wasn’t that the problem for her after all? This sensory invasion was too all consuming, too fucking unbelievable… still.

    She liked thinking with her head not her heart. That’s how she’d always dealt with relationships isn’t it? What was this fumbling around in the dark looking for a light to expose her hidden cravings crap? Who could possibly think this was wonderful and not just scary AS hell? She couldn’t believe she actually thought she’d been in love before. What a fucking crock.

    Now, miles away from him, at least she had more perspective and frankly many more fears. She was so stuck she felt completely incapable of movement -- in her mind. The one place that almost never failed her.

    Staying relatively quiet as well as put, meant that there might be a chance she could get and stay completely back in her head where her sense of mild hysteria would disappear and balance would come rushing back to her like an old friend.

    Yeah right.

    1. What a great setting and description of how love grabs us when we least expect it, and often when we don't want it to. Thank the gods it does, and that sometimes it all makes sense in the end... i really liked this.

    2. I agree with Leland. And I love that close. As you've probably noticed, I like flash that ends with a short jab. This one is perfect.

  22. Well I started one, but it's not NEAR finished! But keyboard's acting up and I'm outta batteries!

    Billy Kendall was a fortunate man. A bright young man with a fine future, they said. He was pleasant and patient and inclined to do as he was told without asking a lot of questions. And while he hadn’t distinguished himself at school or done much in athletics, he hadn’t gotten into any trouble either, and even his own mother had to agree: whatever Billy lacked in ambition, he more than made up for in sincerity.
    So no one was especially surprised when he entered the clergy. With so much going on in the world, people needed a nice, calm character like Billy Kendall to turn to on Sunday mornings and Billy himself was pleased with the idea that he’d chosen the single profession that nobody around could find a way to talk him out of. Straight out of the seminary, he landed a job at Knoll Woods Church of the Divinely Risen and settled in with something like enthusiasm, though being an even-tempered man, it was sometimes difficult to tell. He preached the Word in a way that didn’t offend, counseled the troubled and coached the Little League; presiding over weddings and funerals and services with the same pleasant implacability that some mistook for depth of understanding.
    But the old ladies weren’t fooled. And so Mrs. Eldritch, Mrs. Cloverdale and Mrs. McBeth-Jones to be specific, began to pointedly and publicly indicate that Billy Kendall needed a wife, pronto. It just wasn’t natural for a man on the high side of 28 should be without a partner to preside over the covered dishes at fellowship and create a few more Christians to populate the Manse where he resided, too. After all, paying a housekeeper got expensive. Besides, a woman in the mix was almost sure to help him grow a little bit more of a backbone that he was inclined to naturally.

    1. Oh, I like this! and I know those little old ladies... they were at every church dinner my parents took me to! Keep going with this one!

    2. Yup. Agree completely. I want to see where this one goes. Loving it so far.

    3. I can imagine Billy Kendall being a
      challenging seductee for a certain type of girl. Yes, more batteries!

  23. He awakens in the dark again, curiosity about the time stronger than the weight of yesterday upon his eyelids. But it's the weight of all his yesterdays upon his hands when he reaches for his watch that tells him how late it really is. With an eye-opening pop, the tendons of his thumb and fingers catch and
    break loose with each knuckle's bend.

    Its 4:40 AM, too early to rise and, as he once again grasps the cruel truth, too late to seize the day as he once did. With a shrug and a roll, he touches her warm skin. His fingertips still
    sense the pebbled goose-bump mountains he never needed an iron grip to traverse.

    With a contented grin, he draws the shades upon his eyes, soon dozing again, the memory of all those yesterdays like gossamer in his hands.

    1. beautiful... and I can almost hear the violins in the orchestra...

    2. For real. This is ... just gorgeous, Joe. Bravo.

  24. Maybe it was because the house was so old and It’s many rooms had been occupied by generations from the same family line.
    They say that the walls of a house absorb the energy of it’s inhabitants so much so that every human emotion pulses through the stone and framework.
    Alicia inherited her grandfather’s imposing half mansion after the old man died at a ripe old age. She hadn’t had any kind of relationship with him even though her mother had been his only child.
    Alison, her mother had tragically committed suicide when Alicia was twenty. All she had as an explanation was the curious letter her mother had left her.
    It read, “My darling Alicia, please forgive me but Alice needs me. She is so cold and lonely and needs her mother. I love you.”
    She knew her mother had spent one night with grandfather the day before she died. He had sent for her and Alicia had hoped they would make their piece before he passed from this world. It wasn’t to be and grandfather died on the same day as his daughter.
    Now here she was in this family home full of memories and secrets. It was surprisingly clean and well- kept if somewhat old fashioned and the lady who ‘did’ for the old gent had lit a fire in the drawing room which was welcoming and full of charm.
    She chose a bedroom at the front of the house in which to sleep which she guessed had been her mother’s room as a child and she soon sank into a deep sleep.
    Just before dawn she was awakened by a slight noise. Leaning on her elbow she scanned the room blinking to adjust her eyes to the shadowed shapes of unfamiliar furniture.
    On a straight backed chair which rested against the wall near the foot of the bed sat a girl who looked to be about eight or nine years old. Her hands were folded in her lap and her head bowed.
    “who are you?” Alicia asked, “Can I help you?”
    The girl raised her head and peered intently at Alicia before suddenly sliding off the chair and onto her hands and knees on the floor.
    She crawled about with incredible speed, all over the floor then under the four poster bed.
    Alicia bolted up, standing shivering on the bed, her fear was palpable as she tried to see where the girl was crawling. Only the sound of shuffling could be heard as Alicia prepared to dive off the bed and run for the door.
    “who are you?” Alicia screamed, “please, leave me alone, stop it!”
    The girl appeared from the side of the bed, still manically crawling and hissed, “I am Alice and I need you to come with me.”
    Alicia sprang off the edge of the bed and ran towards the door, she grabbed the handle but it wouldn’t turn. She looked round in panic all the time tugging at the door knob and saw the girl walking towards her with an outstretched hand.
    “I’m cold and lonely and me and mother need you,” she whispered.

    1. Holy crap, that creeped me out! In a good way. Great story, but I especially enjoy the small things you do in your writing. The lady who "did" for the old gent ... you could say that a lot of ways, but the way you did it was perfect.

  25. I’m exhausted and the words won’t flow. I can hardly write a coherent sentence but I know I must try before it’s too late.
    I don’t know how long I have left here before they come for me but they are close, I can feel them and I can smell their acrid scent. I can barely remember my journey here though I know how bitterly cold I was the whole time. The biting wind and icy snow lashing at my face and not being being able to feel my fingers or toes as I climbed ever higher up the mountain path.
    All traces of me are covered by inches of snow by now but I know they will find me, they always do only this time I have nowhere else to run. This cave in which I have found shelter from the blizzard is far from the path and high into the rock face. I risked life and limb to reach it past caring if I fell to my death or not.
    I have reset my transmitter but I fear it is useless now, too little too late as they say. I now know what it is to be human and as I lie here frozen and weary, I have felt the last remnants of my original form leave this weakened body. Even if by some miracle (a human belief!) help arrived in time, there is little hope they would recognise me now and they would surely think me too contaminated to risk taking me back.
    So I wait like a rabbit cornered by a fox for the humans to find me. I don’t know why I write this now after all this time and after everything which has happened. Who will find it and who, more importantly will care? My memories are a jumbled mass like so many tangled electric cables shorting out. Blinking images in neon lights, the long flight and the crash landing condensed to a minute of blurred snippets. A million light years reduced to a millisecond of time but I remember Zera, I will never forget Zera even in this human form she lives in the corridors of my new and strange brain.
    The storm still rages outside but I am protected from the worst now I am huddled far back into the cave. Whoever finds my last words please know I never wanted this to happen, how could I have known that my presence on your world would cause such catastrophe. How could I have known I would infect your human race with such an horrendous disease and now you hunt me not knowing I may also be the antidote.
    I hear them coming, they grunt and drool and their reek is almost unbearable. I welcome death……

    1. ohhh... I like it! Aliens with conscience always have fascinated me... and you tell the story well!

    2. Intense! Left me wanting to read the whole book!:)

    3. Wow, this is awesome, Audrey! I want to read the book, too.

  26. "Just kiss me, dammit!" Jeanette pulled me closer, her lips puckering in readiness as she sought mine. Her scent swelled around me, overpowering my own more subtle fragrance. I closed my eyes out of habit, trusting in her.

    "I never expected this tonight," I said, murmuring as her mouth found mine.

    Jeanette said nothing, only sighing and then relaxing against me. Even though I was wearing heels she was taller than me. For a moment I entertained a fancy that she was a man, hesitated briefly when I conceded that she most definitely wasn't, and then relaxed. What would be would be, I reasoned, my mouth relaxing as she eased my lips apart with her increasingly passionate kisses.

    We rolled together, her weight bearing down on me. The couch was well padded and took us easily. I opened my eyes to see hers already open, her fingers already busy opening the buttoned collar of my chemise as she lay heavily against my lap.

    "You're more accommodating than I expected," she said, pausing for a moment and then rolling her groin briefly against mine. "I figured you'd be more difficult to persuade than this."

    I said nothing. Reaching up between us, I curved my hand up and down again, cupping it first about the back of her head and then dropping it so it caressed the line of her neck and then the open shoulder-line of her dress. Her skin was already flushed and hot to the touch.

    "Don't stop," I said, closing my eyes again.

    1. You do romance beautifully, no matter what genders are involved!

    2. I agree with Leland--You write great romance!

  27. “What does Intel have for us today LT?” I asked Lieutenant Sutton, my intelligence officer and the man who would take over this Unit one day should I be killed or injured.

    “Intel says these men here,” as he points to the pictures he had just pulled from a pocket in his vest and laid out on the makeshift table we had set up. We had to take refuge in the cavern as a sandstorm passed through the valley the previous evening, “are presumed to be somewhere in these caves here,” Joshua points to the map underneath the pictures. “They believe that movement was caught by the aerial drone that’s been over us while out on this mission. Intel believes they are currently in or around this set of caves,” he points to a spot on the aerial map that shows a cave opening where Josh’s finger was. “They want us to go in and investigate then report what we find. We will then be given further instructions from there.”

    “Thanks for that info LT,” as I looked around the cavern one more time. “Ladies and gents, you now know what our primary mission is. Let’s get a move on before the sun rises and we are spotted by their sentries.”

    As soon as we stepped out from the opening of the cave, I saw the dot from a laser on my point man. And then blood splattered against the wall behind the soldier as he took as direct hit to his face.

    “SON OF A BITCH!!!! MAN DOWN! MAN DOWN!!! MEDIC! WE NEED A MEDIC!!” As several of the men that were near enough, pulled him back into the cave out of sight of the sniper that just took him down.

    “What’s his status soldier?” I asked of the young man, a Sergeant Gillespie who was on loan from the Marine Corps for this mission.

    “He’s gone Captain. Took it right below his left eye socket. Didn’t even have a chance.”

    “Fuck. Get him deeper into the cavern till we can get a medivac on scene to take him back to the base. LT, make a call to Ops and get us some Chopper support.”

    “Roger that, Captain.”

    That sniper must have been sent up there to wait on us. That means we no longer have the element of surprise on the insurgents. They must have seen us take cover in the cavern before the sandstorm hit. That’s the only way they could have seen us.

    1. Writing battle scenes like this, and keeping the tension and the action in balance, is a tough job, and you keep getting better and better at it. I admire your courage in taking them on!

    2. Have you ever read any of WEB Griffin's stuff? He was very prolific as an author, and he did amazing battle scenes... if you haven't, I think you'd really like the series he did of Marines.

    3. Wow, you packed a lot into a short snippet making the reader crave more. So talented.

    4. I agree with Leland. It's all about maintaining that tension and you did it really well. Good job, brother. These are hard scenes to write.

  28. So sorry I'm late. I know few people will read it, but this piece suggested itself.

    Hindsight is the sweetest bitch. And this one's mine.

    Breakfast time. You might force feed me Corn Flakes, could love me in different circumstances, execute me in others. Economy Lodge continental breakfasts. I was one lost wing-draped bird who lived on the shoulder of a ruined man who loved coffee yet forgot how to tell his own story.

    Oh, and Kellogg was a complete stain of a man. Let's remember that.

    The frogs are etching their improv dream chorus into the grainy columns of the night, and I recall I fell in love with a girl whose eyes were so spread she might have been part goat, part erotic. Even part poet. But I also drove a quiet road in the forest, beside a swamp, and slowed when a deer walked in front of my Jeep. I came to a stop and the deer seemed to graze the blacktop. I tapped my horn lightly and it raised its head and it had no face, was smooth and beige and featureless. So I hit the gas, booked it out of Pennsylvania into Ohio and beyond. Westward.

    Followed the fading blood trail of the dying sun for days.

    I never reconciled that thing, not ever. Still cry over it in weak moments.

    Twenty or thirty years ago I found Karen. She was a northern English girl, Bury or Rochdale, rounded eyes, ass, and accent, button nose, juicy as a citrus, a warm diamond trapped in a land of hosiery. She was a sales rep for a dry cleaning company and she'd appear on my doorstep randomly and we'd eat bad food and drink beaujolais and fuck like lemurs and she'd eventually ask me if I wanted to go up to London.

    If you don't already know, Englan' is a bitch, yo. It was always up to the capital, never down. But yeah, I'd say sure, alright, and gather up the leftovers and jump in her clean bland rental sedan (saloon in UK speak) and we'd go get Vidal haircuts (Sassoon if we're paying attention) and watch bands and eat things I'd never even dreamed of or contemplated, like chalk and cheese, hot apples and melted brie, like hot spice and poisonous fish and eels and things you knew you needed to chew so much harder, and one night we found Gemma, who at sixteen I'd decided was my first and only and best love, silky blonde pixie girl, despite our first actual sexual encounter turning out so unspectacular (it was always spectacular to me). And now, all these years later, circa 1985, the three of us went to watch some bands play Dingwall's, dirty blues and rawthroat punk, spitting and scattering sound like ink all over the orange sodium London night. My gratitude for these two women, for their lovely drunk and smart and sexy company, had no limits. To this day, has no limits. So much so I'll draw a curtain over this memory.

    Oh, digression. Almost forgot.

    Earlier still. I hitchhiked from North London north, cried with frustration at the hundreds of cars passing me without a glance, but kept walking, backpack full and heavy as shame. Walked a good seven miles from St. Pancras north through Finchley and Hampstead. I tried to ride a bus without money, and right before the driver ejected me I locked eyes with a Spanish woman twice my age whose heart and loins even I could see were quaking (aching) with love and sex. But I knew I was too young to do her any justice, so I got off at the next stop and kept walking.

    And tonight it's a quiet, cloudless, almost airless evening in early June. Decades later. I can see Mars and Jupiter from my kitchen window, yet the sky is still a shade of chambray blue. And Muhammad fucking Ali just died.

    1. God how I love to read your writing... You had me at "I was one lost wing-draped bird who lived on the shoulder of a ruined man who loved coffee yet forgot how to tell his own story." And then it just kept getting better.

    2. Hope you were 17 when you found Gemma--just sayin'. I loved this btw.

    3. This is an awesome piece. "I fell in love with a girl whose eyes were so spread she might have been part goat, part erotic. Even part poet." Genius. And the description of the show is so good. And the line Leland grabbed grabbed me, too.

      The shout to Ali works in a dope way, too. Yanks us back.

    4. Thanks, Leland!

      Yeah, we (or more accurately, the people this is based on) were the same age. Not sure I understand. I don't want to give biographical details it's loosely based on, since this is fiction and arguably why we write fiction, but the story events move through time. Think early twenties when the characters meet up in the big city.

    5. Thanks, bro. Yeah, I added that line last second, as it brings us to this moment, exactly. The big sweep of life, like the planets, kind of thing.

  29. And the story of Maggie’s Cosmic Confessional and Lemonade Stand continues!

    I saw the limousine pull into the driveway and sat in my Cosmic Confession and Lemonade Stand as professionally as I could. My mind was working fast and I was glad that my first customer was going to be at the high end of my sliding scale fees. A Mercedes limo, even.

    The driver and a couple of security types got out first, scanned the horizon, and seeing nothing threatening, opened the back door of the big black car. And out stepped a larger than life man with unusual hair and matching skin. I sucked in my breath. Wow.

    He looked at the little three-legged stool I keep for my clients, and then sat down. “I like simplicity. Simplicity is going to be YUUUGE when I’m President. Maybe next time you could have a leather couch or something. I don’t know. You know what works for you.”

    “It’s an honor to have you stop by, Mr.—"

    “It’d probably be best if we don’t use any names. The sleazy press is always trying to embarrass me. They’d have a field day if they knew I was going to a canine psychic.”

    “I understand completely. Although I’m not a psychic, I—“

    “Those sleazeballs don’t care what you are, they just want to make big headlines.” He looked around, as if judging whether the trees nearby could have microphones or cameras.

    “So what will it be, Mr., err, Sir? Confession or my famous lemonade?”

    “Well, it’s not really a confession, but, oh hell, of course it is. Can I have some lemonade, too?”

    I poured him a glass, checking to make sure that none of my shiny hairs were in the glass. I don’t understand why some humans have such hangups about it, but I try not to judge. I watched him as he tasted it.

    He made a face. “Rocky, take a note. ‘When I’m President, we’re going to make lemonade great again.’ I think that will play well with the optimists."

    “So what would you like to talk about? What worries you?”

    “Well, it’s like this. I was pitching an idea for a new reality show. Presidential Apprentice I was going to call it. The networks loved it. They love ME. Make some average Joe president for a day. Let them fly around for a day in a big jet, give them a chance to talk to some of the nobody leaders in other countries. You get the picture?”

    I nodded.

    “But then the guy from Fox news—they love me – he said we needed to take it to the next level. Let the first season not only be about being President, but also run in the primaries. I must have nodded or said yes at the wrong time or something. The next morning, Harry, that’s my chauffeur, takes me to the office, and there are all these cameras waiting for me. The guy from Fox is there, and he winks at me and they start the teleprompter. I admire them for the way they can get things done so fast, make it look so real. They love me—did I mention that? I was very pleased that we were doing the pilot so quickly, only…”

    “Only it wasn’t a pilot?”

    “Somehow they thought I was suggesting that I wanted to be president! Can you imagine? I mean, I have no problems being president, trust me, but I have other things to do. Anyway, it just sort of got out of control after that, and I don’t know how to make it stop without embarrassing everyone. All I want is a big hit for a show, and maybe a few profits, is that so bad? I mean profits MADE AMERICA GREAT, I’m not embarrassed about that. There is no problem at all in that department, I assure you.”

    “I see.” But I didn’t really see. How could he have thought it was all for a television show?

    “So, what do I do now?”

    “Well, Mr., errrr, Sir, do something unexpected.”


  30. (continued)

    “Oh I like that Idea. I’m good with unexpected. Very good.”

    “Do something unexpected, and tell the people the truth. Tell them that you’re doing a television show and you just wanted to research it thoroughly. Due diligence, I think the attorneys call it. “

    “The American people aren’t fools. At least some of them aren’t. I don’t think they’d believe it.”

    “The alternative, of course, is to lie.”

    He didn’t say anything for a minute. I think he was trying to see if I was kidding. “But what would I say?”

    “Tell them that Mrs., errrr, that your opponent put you up to it. Some people are suspicious because you donated money to her campaign the last go-round anyway. Tell them that you didn’t want to disrespect the office of President, but she insisted.”

    “I can see where you’re going with this. I like that. It gets me out of trouble and her into it. You’re very good. You’re going to like me, I can tell. I’m a very good person to know.”

    “You could even tell the world how much you respect her, and that you wanted to do what you could to help get her elected.”

    “I don’t think that’ll work. I can tell little lies, but that one would be HUUUUGE. No, we’ll just say she insisted, and being as respectful of women as I am, I had no choice. That’ll work. Thank you for your excellent advice.”

    I saw his fingers flying on his iPhone. I’m sure he was already tweeting the story out.
    “How much do I owe you?”

    “I think,” and here I took a deep breath. “I think six million dollars to the pet shelter I came from will cover it.”

    “I believe in pet shelters. Pet shelters are going to be great again.”

    “Cash would be good. Just so there aren’t any, um, errors.”

    “Your doubt hurts me, I will raise six million…”

    “And cash will make it so much easier for you. No reminders, no reporters going through your trash looking for credit card receipts.”

    “Yes, of course, you’re right. Ricky, get the cash out of the trunk.”

    “I thought his name was Rocky?”

    “What I pay these guys, they’ll answer to anything. Fifteen dollars an hour I pay that guy. AND I provide him a uniform. A uniform that I think looks very nice on him.”

    “Well, thank you for stopping by, Mr., errrr, Sir.”

    “Have you ever thought about doing television? I think you’d be…”

    “No, I’m very happy here with my little confessional and lemonade stand.”

    “Well, if you ever change your mind, here’s my card.”

    And with that, ,he got into the limo and drove off, leaving me to figure out how to deal with the HUGE piles of cash.

    1. Man oh man a freaking speech writer for Mr
      ERRR. LOL Like a parody of life.

    2. Ha! This is awesome. I'll make lemonade great again. You got the voice down well, too. :)


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