Friday, June 24, 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.

I traded my best shit with Joey because I just didn't care anymore. And he was always hopping up and down, wanting to trade this for that. A clean bolt for a nickel. Five bucks for a peak at his dad's Playboys. He wanted to trade everything. And he was never generous, but I gave up - like when the undertow grabs you and you just gotta swim with it until you can angle back in. Only, with Joey, I planned on swimming period - never coming back in. Live the rest of my life with dolphins or something. Not a solid plan, but I was thinking funny because I knew Joey had notions. 

People said stuff about Joey, but I figured it was rumors for a long time. Then, I saw him lift a few magazines and some candy bars down to old man Thompson's store. And leave smiling with the old man hollering after him, "say hi to your folks for me, y'hear?" And he didn't even keep all the magazines. And he didn't say hi when we saw his folks. And those magazines? Some, he threw right in the trash out front where old man Thompson was sure to see them at the end of the day.

I couldn't see the sense in that. 

Things got worse as summer drew out into a long, fiery, white blaze. The air smelled like dust, and I was ready to get doing something. I told Joey as much and he came to my window one night with a baby raccoon. No idea where he got it. I didn't want to know. I saw his eyes. 

So, I told him I felt sick, 'cause I did. And the next day I traded him all my stuff. And a few days later, Dad sat us down for the announcement. And that was the first time I was glad that he lost a job and we'd be moving. 

I didn't even say goodbye. 


#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...


  1. Ah, the choices we're presented with, even as children. This is a well-told tale, and I believed it was written by a kid the whole way through. Good job on getting the voice exactly right!

    1. I knew a Joey when I was a kid. He kept up his crap, always escalating, until he finally got expelled from school. I don't remember if it was his sophomore or junior year, but whichever, it was long overdue.

    2. My kid knew a Joey. Same deal, a kid of junior Trump. Weirdly raised by two licensed CHILD psychologists! Gof figure...or shudder. As you will....

  2. There are summers of rain, and there are summers of dust, but this was a summer of fire. The smoke burns your eyes as you make your way to the house.
    Mandatory evacuation, the radio said.

    How do you leave behind two decades of work? How do you abandon the graves of the dogs you knew?

    You check the backpack, one more time, to make sure you’ve got enough to last for a few days. Water, dehydrated food, sleeping bag, and such. At the last minute, you find a book to take along, too. When you close the door, you pause. Should you lock it? What if a firefighter needs a drink of water or something? You decide it doesn’t matter if you’re robbed blind. A thief or a fire will take it all. You leave the key in your pocket.

    The sun makes its best effort to burn through the smoke, but fails. You get in your car, and you start the engine. You take a sip of water. You stop at the head of the driveway, looking back on twenty-two years of your life, in the rearview mirror.
    You haven’t done a lot of looking backward. When you get to the highway, it’s clogged with other evacuees, but the lane that heads south, toward the fire, that lane is empty. You wait for someone to let you into line. Finally a truck gives you enough of a gap and without thinking about it, you cross the northbound lane, and you escape into the southbound lane. Not away from the fire, but toward it. And you have no idea why, but you’ve never run from trouble, and you’re not going to start now.

    1. Oh, man. I dig this one so much. The anxiety and simmering sadness are palpable. I was right there.

    2. Ugh, it's been too long, I've forgotten where to reply etc.
      JD Mader I *really* liked your starter piece! I agree with Leland. I heard it coming from a kid loud and clear too. That same feeling I get from "The Body/Stand By Me" like I'm right there, one of those kids, and every emotion is felt full-force. Awesomeness :)

    3. Leland I actually thought this was kind of an "Origami Moon" companion piece when I first started reading it. The anxiety and dread of what I thought was coming built-up quickly! Even when the story "took a South on me" and went somewhere else, the anxiety stayed. I really liked the ballsy-ness at the end too.

    4. God Leland--how do you drag me to these dangerous places? So talented.

    5. You are very kind... thank you!

    6. Man, Leland, I could feel the heat, taste the dust and smell the smoke. Interesting choice at the end, too.

    7. What to save when you're losing everything? Everything> Brilliant!

    8. thanks! it's getting to be fire season down here... so I think a lot about stuff like this...

  3. Love has found me twice. That’s two times more than most, I know. A Marine and a cowboy. Sometimes stereotypes are stereotypes because they’re true.

    The Marine was the oldest 21-year-old I’ve ever known, wise, protective, and brave. I never felt as safe as I did in his arms.

    And then the war came, and he went. He didn’t come back. It took a decade to form the scar around the hole in my heart that let me move on. But I can still smell his uniform, the uniform that smelled like him no matter how many times it was washed.
    The cowboy, cowhand more honestly, looked like Little Joe on Bonanza, but you’re too young to remember the show. He was, he was all the things a cowboy should be. Loyal, handsome – let us give praise to the inventor of Wrangler jeans, and a loner. Except when he wanted to be with me. We slept under stars, removed straw from places straw makes you itch when you’re naked in a hayloft, and set enough fenceposts to close in a pasture, our pasture, of twenty acres.

    When the drought came, we lost it all, but he lost himself. I found him in the barn. An accident, the county sheriff said. Cleaning his gun. Because cowboys don’t kill themselves.

    After I buried him, I swore off men, especially the stereotypes, and headed west. Hitchhiking. Not for the romance, but because we’d lost everything. Repossessed. And hey, what better way to see the country? Except, almost nobody picks up hitchhikers, at least not on the roads I’m traveling. So I walk. A lot. Two pairs of boots’ worth. I can tell you how many cracks there are in a mile of freeway in Utah. How many rattlesnakes run over per mile in Nevada.

    Over my shoulder, I hear an engine. Not a car. It’s slowing down. I look, and there he is. The saintly motorcyclist. My romantic trifecta is complete, and I ride behind him all the way to Las Vegas.

    He asks me to marry him. We can do that now. His name is Jack, and I tell him no.

    He tells me he’s a writer, and I tell him yes.

    Sometimes stereotypes are stereotypes because they’re true. And sometimes, sometimes, you’ve got a shot at living happily ever after.

    1. Ohhh Leland...I like this a lot. You take and share such awesome "photographs" with your words.
      That damn biker of yours is haunting me. Why did I get rid of my riding leathers? At least I could smell them and imagination could add the cologne and sweat. ;)

    2. I love this one. Heartbreaking and beautiful. And the Wrangler jeans - perfect. :)

    3. Poignant and sweet — and I'm almost embarrassed to admit I can tell you all about the invention of Wrangler jeans, at least the 13MWZ model. Why? Well, it's a long story.

    4. oh, now THAT is a story I wanna hear!

  4. “How long have you known?” the man with the crew cut asked.

    “About being gay? Pretty much all my life.”

    “No, about— ”

    “About being positive? For a couple of years.”

    “And you never said anything.”

    They were dangling their bare feet in the creek, and the shaggy-haired blond looked down at their reflections. “Nah, I never said anything. What’s to say? What the fuck difference would it make?”

    “It’s just that, well, we’re buddies. Brothers, even, we’ve called each other that. And buddies don’t keep secrets from each other.”

    “Yeah? How about when you and my sister…”

    “Okay, they don’t keep important secrets from each other.”

    Their combined laughter made a trout swim past their feet in a hurry.

    “Why are you telling me now? I mean, I’m glad you are, but after so many years…”

    The seconds dragged into minutes. Finally, the blond answered, “Because I’m dying.”

    “But there’s all sorts of treatments, drugs…”

    “Yeah, I’m on some of them. Here’s the funny thing. I’m dying, but it’s not from AIDS.”


    “It’s cancer. My brain. My fucking brain is killing me.”

    “They can do stuff now…”

    “It’s not that kind of cancer, and if they cut it out, they’d be cutting away a lot of the rest of my brain, too.”


    He laughed. “Yeah, there’s been some of that, but not for much longer.”

    “How much… how much time…”

    “Doc says three to six months.”

    Without thinking about it, the man put his arm around his shaggy-haired friend, and they leaned into each other.

    Finally, they separated.

    “We should get the tent set up.”

    “Yeah, it’s gonna be dark soon.”

    Without talking, without the need to, they got the tent up in a few minutes, and put their sleeping bags inside.

    “You hungry?”

    “Not so much, but I gotta have something in my stomach before I take the pills.”

    “Sandwich? So we don’t have to start a fire and wait?”

    “Yeah, that’d be good.”

    The sun fell slow and orange below the horizon. The mosquitoes came out hungry and loud. The guys retreated to the tent and got ready for sleep.

    “Can we zip the sleeping bags together?”

    “If that’s your best shot at seducing a straight guy, you got work to do.”

    “Nah, it’s just…”

    Crew cut guy had the sleeping bags zipped together before the sentence was completed.

    “It’s just I need to feel the warmth of a body. Not sex. Just not alone, you understand?”

    “Yeah, buddy, I do.”

    They fell asleep in each other’s arms that night, and the next night, too. They never saw the shooting stars that fell through big Montana skies, shooting stars that were hope and despair, tomorrow and yesterday, good luck and bad.

    Falling stars don’t care, but best friends do.

    1. I just heard a piece of glass clink to the floor and found a piece of my broken heart...
      Are you getting kickbacks from Kleenex? Do they pay you by the tear or something? This one hurt. For reals. </3

    2. Beautiful as hell, but ripped a heart-shaped hole in my soul.

    3. I concur. This is absolutely lovely and beautifully tragic.

    4. That last line. You tore my heart out.

    5. Heart wrenching, but exquisite. You have such a wonderful style.

    6. So sweet. In the end it ain't NEVER about the differences, but the sameness. Thank you.

  5. I don't usually have a lot of violence or sex in what I write, but well, sometimes the muse dictates and I just write.
    I met him in a men’s room in the Capitol building. I was staring at myself in the mirror, really, more the marble and old fixtures of the opulence in this place. I marveled, that a small town boy like me could work here. A janitor, sure, but I could feel the power pulsing in the chambers of this building.

    I saw the door on one of the stalls open. But he didn’t come out. He just stood there, trousers half up, and he was staring in the mirror, too, but at me, not the walls. I felt his gaze look me up and then down, and then he stopped looking at the reflection, and leered directly at me. He gestured with only his head, but I knew the signal. He wanted me to come into the stall with him. My heart beat fast. Papa had warned me there were men like this in the District. Papa didn’t know that’s exactly what I hoped.

    I washed my hands, let him look for a while. I pretended I didn’t notice. When I had dried my hands on the rich paper towels, white and soft, I turned around and my eyes met his. My feet had courage, even if I did not, and walked me slowly, surely to the silver-haired man. When I was close enough, he put his hand in the small of my back and pulled me into the cubicle.

    I opened my mouth, I still don’t know whether to protest or encourage, and he put a finger to my lips to shush me. I shushed. He sat down on the toilet, the toilet I had cleaned not half an hour ago. His well-practiced hands undid my belt, unbuttoned my work pants, and then the only sound was my heart thudding and my zipper being pulled down. His hands were smaller than I would have guessed, but they pushed my pants down. Now I could feel the pulse of his heart in his fingers on my skin.

    I put my hands on his ears, as if to encourage him. His skin was almost translucent it was so old, but so well-maintained. His hundred-dollar haircut tickled my fingers. He sighed in contentment.

    I grabbed hold of his head more firmly—and I twisted it, hard, like I did with the chickens for Ma back home. He gurgled and then fell back against the wall. I pulled my pants up, buttoned and zipped, and buckled my belt.

    I whispered like a lover in his ear, “That, you old fuck, was for all the times you’ve voted against gays, against illegals, against anyone who didn’t already have it all.”

    I put my hand inside my shirt sleeve to unlatch the door. No sense leaving fingerprints. I looked at him one more time.

    He had eyes like a dead chicken, too.

    1. Holy SHIT! That escalated quickly! Is it bad that I *really* liked this?

    2. This is a dope piece. The whole thing, but those courageous feet? Man.

    3. I hope writing is the only action you let the muse orchestrate. She's great at that, but rather scary otherwise. ;)

    4. Gritty, but beautiful. Makes you wonder, how many people are just that mad????

    5. Me 'n' the muse go way back... she's invited me to do a lot of things... and I listened... but she's going into retirement, and she only helps with writing these days

  6. Part 1.

    He enjoyed whispering rumours of doom on long flights. Insinuating himself into the sphere of a fellow passenger's trust, wearing his skin of bland congeniality so well he began to believe it himself, then telling them what he'd overheard from a flight attendant, about how the captain had swallowed a fish bone and, while clutching at his throat, had knocked an instrument setting askew that no one noticed until the first officer finally did so, before immediately realizing that their unwitting detour across half the Pacific meant they no longer had enough fuel for a landing at any airport, and that they'd have to ditch in the ocean, which almost always augured catastrophic loss of life. He would select a young mother to whisper this to, a weary twentysomething whose toddler had finally, mercifully, succumbed to sleep. Or a nervous old lady. Or a half-drunk and angry middle-aged white man, who'd invariably make it about him and his entitled self-pity, provoking a full-blown tantrum that would be infectious throughout the cabin, providing endless entertainment far funnier than the inflight movie.

    Although he could never laugh, not on the outside.

    When they always landed and people looked at him accusingly, with oddly hurt and—strangest of all—disappointed expressions, he'd shrug and say, "Must have misheard. Could have sworn that's what they said."

    Sometimes he would embellish it further, reveling in the unfolding story and its implications: The copilot noticed but pretended not to, and when it was discovered, he declared "Allahu Akbar!" at which the senior flight attendant fainted. A cadre of mice that had been onboard as property of a multinational pharmaceutical company, in the process of being transferred between a research laboratory in San Diego and an experimental facility in Kobe, had escaped their defective crate and chewed through enough wiring that all the hydraulics were lost and the slightest turbulence would soon send them plummeting like a doomed lance into a calm and glassy ocean that might as well be adamantium.

    He once told an unaccompanied young passenger, all of thirteen years old, dark of feature and tiny of frame, that he was an undercover air marshal and had discovered a plot by ecoterrorists to make of their fossil-fuel-guzzling flight an example, by remotely shutting down each engine in turn until the United Nations agreed to outlaw all the oil trade on earth, and she had begun to cry silently until her grief and terror had built like late afternoon thunderheads and no one could console her or get any sense from her, and she'd had to be sedated and then hospitalized once they'd landed.

    Because they always landed.

  7. Part 2.

    She never landed. A decade of perfect run-ups, mounts, and layout full twists on the balance beam, only for the landing to fail.

    Yet she kept loving. Loving it all. Believing in the idea of perfection and the dedication of her coach and her fellow gymnasts. And the cruel man she didn't know, yet dreamed of every night. The man who whispered appaling things to defenceless souls so he could fondle their terror. The man who fed on dread and drank dismay.

    This charming man. She knew one day she'd get it right.

    A dream. He was lying on a cloud, smoking a Cuban cigar. A coyote and a crow were having a heated conversation about the chemical makeup of Pluto's great heart plain. He laughed and they both turned to him and said, "You'll wish you hadn't done that."

    "Whatever," he answered, and drew in a lungful of smoke that was bitter and hot and made him cough.

    "You need to stick the landing," a female voice whispered in his ear, but he saw no one. The coyote and the crow were gone. Just a single balance beam, shimmering, impossibly narrow and infinitely patient.

    He mounted, teetered and lurched a couple of times, attempted a routine, did okay. But he couldn't dismount. He was too afraid of the landing. He closed his eyes, told himself nothing could go wrong in a dream, that it didn't matter. Just jump and hope. But he stayed frozen, his heart drumming like a hummingbird orgy in his chest, his lungs shrivelled in the rarefied air. Then the cloud disappeared and he was falling at last.

    When he opened his eyes, he thought at first the cloud was back, the dream was back, but it took a moment to realize the cabin was gauzy with smoke. He inhaled an acrid electric reek. Then he registered the screaming. Saw the flight attendants wet-faced and inconsolable, clutching rosaries, totems, talismans. Felt his entire lower guts shift with the slow stirrings of true terror.

    A man nearby, in a voice tremulous with sorrow, said, "My daughter's wedding is next month. I can't miss it…"

    He scrambled to the window, saw the fire flapping like oily orange rags from the engine, the impossible cant of the horizon.

    And for the first time in the few minutes left of his life he embraced terror and found within something small but bright as his wretched human moans mingled with those of his fellow passengers and were entirely indistinguishable.

    1. Ah.... the writer nailed the landing... this is terrifying, and it feels true... the final paragraph is magic, but it's all scary and amazing and cruel, with a twist of justice at the end.

    2. My favorite is the hummingbird orgy.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Wow, brother. This is epic.

    5. I Never get tired of following the stream of your consciousness. Elegantly crafted...

    6. This feels somehow bigger than the space it occupies, if that makes sense. It drew me in and didn't let go, even at the end.

    7. I like what Maggie said... it's kinda like tardisfiction... bigger on the inside

    8. Thank you, all. Huge apologies that I didn't get to comment on anything this week. Lots going on.

  8. “You’re WHAT?” She was flabbergasted.

    “I’m leaving you.”

    “That’s ridiculous. You can’t leave me.”

    “I am.”

    “What about the children?”

    “I’m taking them with me.”

    “But they don’t want to leave.”

    “I don’t care. I know what’s best for them.”

    “Is there someone else?”

    “No. I just can’t afford to keep you any longer. Your habits are too expensive.”

    “I haven’t noticed that you’ve turned down any of the benefits that go along with those costs.” She raised an eyebrow.

    “Be that as it may.”

    “Very well. Leave. The sooner the better. But don’t think there’s going to be a chance for reconciliation when you come crawling back. You need me. You’ll see. And I’ll laugh.” She slammed the door.

    He waited for a few moments, then retrieved his phone from his jacket. He scrolled down his contact list. When he got to the U’s, he pressed the send key. He listened to it ring twice before she picked up.

    “Ah, Ukie, I wondered when you’d call.”

    “Lady, do you have plans for November?”

    “Just a little chaotic party.”

    He didn’t ask whose mad laughter was in the background. He knew. It even sounded orange. “Will… will he be there?”

    “What kind of party would it be if he weren’t, Ukie.”

    Politics makes for strange bedfellows. Even in asylums such as the world we live in today. Billions wept, but the maniacal laughter continued.

    1. Strange bedfellows indeed. We live in scary times.

    2. I'm hoping that a dozen years hence, when folks are writing theses about my fiction, that they will still be able to realize that Ukie is the UK and Lady is the US... one lives in hope...

  9. About this little piece of doggerel: I've been seeing a link shared on Facebook about the end of periods — which, for anyone who hasn't read it, is NOT about menopause, but about the declining use of closing punctuation in casual correspondence. It started me thinking, and here's what came to me in two minutes. Consider it a work in progress. :)

    * * *
    Punctuation is dead
    Or so they say
    And from what I've read
    It seems headed that way

    Why use a period
    When a line break will do
    The reasons are myriad
    Let me share just a few

    First of all, speaking plainly
    We need to know where to stop
    For if text gets ungainly
    We'll read 'til we drop

    And without punctuation
    How are we to know
    The force of an exclamation
    There's no way to show

    So what of a question
    Lacking a mark at its close
    It's merely a suggestion
    Not a query but prose

    Now on to the comma
    Unassuming and rather mellow
    Though never one to go in for drama
    It is, without question, a right useful fellow

    Sans punctuation, what a jumbled-up mess
    Nowhere to stop or even to pause
    Deciphering is difficult, one must confess
    Let alone spotting a conditional clause


  10. “So what happened?”
    “Not so sure because everything had become pitch black. Frightening at first, the sound of my heart thumping in my ears, my throbbing head, quivering limbs and my mouth spitting up something I took for blood. But as you can see, I’m fine. It wasn’t blood.”
    “Yes. And then what happened?”
    “I heard the laughter of children playing outside. I dropped my pen and couldn’t see my hand. A loud mosquito buzzed my left ear. I heard the rustle of trees in the wind and the sound of water cascading over boulders. Even though I love dogs, there was a continuous and annoying barrage of bad dogs barking and filling in all the quieter moments. I heard cries and screams of sorrow. Then I heard an ambulance and some more sobbing. Footsteps, hectic and hurried macabre steps scurried around with important things to do. I heard screams and squeaking wheels. I felt nothing.”
    “Did you smell anything?”
    “The mild smell of ink maybe—but don’t forget I’m a writer.”
    “Interesting. Do you buy your ink at the warehouse club store?”
    “Yes, writers need to be prepared. It comes in these large vats. I go there for great deals on mayonnaise too.
    “The ink, blue or black?”
    “Jet black.”
    “A-huh. Do you drink?”
    “No sir.”
    “Mr. Johnson, please don’t be offended at my diagnosis. The hospital insisted you speak to me and the only thing I can see is that you fell into your ink.”
    “What? $200 an hour and that’s the best you can come up with?”
    “I’m afraid so. Be careful next time and good luck with your writing career.”

  11. I'm running as fast as I can. Mouth tastes like old pennies and my leg's gonna fall off. Clean fall off. I don't have the time to dally. Or dilly. Really? Really. I gotta get on the road. Get rolling. Not Kerouac. Not Molly. Movement. I want it.

    Or need it. Probably need it. What I want is stasis. A black, deep well. I wish it weren't so hot in hell.

    Smile. Shuck. Jive. Fuck. You. Drive. Go, fucking go! There's no time to look at the poppies, no time to watch a hawk dive. There's no time for anything anymore because all the clocks are broken like a middle school heart. And we ain't ever getting anywhere if we don't up and start.

    So. Go.

    1. What you do with rhythm and alliteration and rhyme knocks my socks off.

    2. "...we ain't ever getting anywhere if we don't up and start." Best advice I've heard today. Thanks!

  12. Sally was a girl with potential; everybody said it. She's going places, that Sally. You look at her, boy. She's too good for you, but you can aspire ... yes, son, you can try to follow her example. She's gonna be somebody.

    Sally felt the pressure pushing her further under. Drowning. Gasping for air. Do you have any to spare? I got nitrous and enough weed to get to Denver.

    They were right in a way. Sally was going places. Did go places. She went to dark, sticky, red places that no one back home could even imagine. And she laughed while she drank, snorted, fucked. Look at me now, she thought.

    Look at me now, she said.

    1. Damned if you don't make me want to rescue Sally from herself, and in four spare paragraphs... the repetition in the last two sentences, like an echo in an empty room... beautiful.

    2. It's like a tragic opera in three paragraphs. Amazing.

    3. That moment when you divorce yourself from others expectations, perfectly captured in that second paragraph.

    4. Maybe it's just what I read into it, but I could hear Sally's defiance when she thought "look at me now" and her despair when she said it aloud. Well done.

  13. The breeze combs out the trees' bed head, maple leaves, catching low morning sun on their top sides, bob up and down as if dawn's light carries weight in addition to blinding strength.

    Dew refracts the sharp wedge of day into millions of diamonds, tiny gemstones, precious, yet soft as morning kisses.

    A hunger-emboldened rabbit, piston legs slowly pushing out of the shadows, finds a twig full of sun-laden leaves, consuming their light like that cloud the breeze pushes south to north will eat the sun's.

    But not before late-hunting owl's taloned shadow takes rabbit's light first.

    1. A murder pastorale... well done... and the language is beautiful...

    2. Poems like prose with dappled light. Interesting and clever too.

    3. Alright, Leland said it perfectly. Ditto

  14. Out on the evening waves, a raft of sea otters bobs in placid sleep, all as one with the rise and fall of the ocean’s breath. At least one of them grips an anchor line provided by the sea's kelp bed. Papas, mamas, pups and all link their forepaws in a touching ritual of purring familial harmony and trust.

    Inland, the barges bob to the river’s pulse, but placidity is not in their genes. Hard hulls of steel and rust link to shore and weave one to another with lines of twisted steel. Their touching ritual sounds of clanks, scrapes and a harsh cursing hymn of riparian fraternal harmony and trust.

    All of them, otters and barges alike, rest linked together upon that most maternal yet unforgiving of elements. Her lullaby floating above the waves long before these children tasted of her, felt her caress, and will long after they’ve run their own courses in this ever-repeating circle dance of harmony, trust and rust.

    1. So cute,I can visualize the connectedness.

    2. What did you eat for breakfast, Joe? I want some.

    3. I've seen pictures of this happening, but I like the picture you made come alive with your words better... awesome!

  15. My spiritual heart sank deep, the physical one following, after so many others’ had gone silent before me. It barely treads above the surface now in the well where I could usually touch bottom, where I always poured my sadness, where the real indigo-to-midnight melaina kholé steals the light from my eyes, where my being sinks more each day.

    My fear is the only way I’ll escape is for the well to overflow with sadness, the dark madness that drowns and buries you before you even begin to die. And I can’t take on any more, it’s weight pulling me deeper with each handful of their graves' dirt I grabbed on my way down.

    I’d call for someone else’s hand, but my voice has become a rasp, a scraping jet-black sound like a crow’s shadow against a stormy night's cloud. That’s about all I can see from this tunnel of up to down, a dimming light, a day-to-day fight to recall what day today is, if day it is.

    And so I float, my face to what might be the sky, might be the last look at your eye, as we each search for the man who once straddled the penumbra, where light at least shone upon half his life.

    1. Dang, brother! You're on fire today!

    2. yep, what they said... and I envy you your vocabulary!

    3. Your vivid description makes the situation seem even bleaker. The contrast works really well in this piece.

  16. Dear God. Every sound you make today is grating on my nerves like someone playing a violin with a goddamn chainsaw. How many times can you pick up and drop 47 pieces of silverware?
    Are you *using* the silverware to clean the other dishes? Are we out of sponges? Dish towels? Rags? An old sock wouldn't work? Every. Sound. You. Make. comes with an exclamation mark. You are driving me insane with a ball pein hammer every time you take a breath and it feels like a fffucking orbitoclast! I have a headache. Stop it. You're pissed now because the dishwasher door is broken? You broke it when you slammed the lasagne pan down into the rack because someone laughed on your determinedly dreary, rainy day. Shit Shrek! Ogre much? Ha! The sun just broke out from behind the clouds! ( This will really make your day! ) Seeing me, your fair-haired child, -your spitting image- standing out in the yard, looking up at the sky with eyes full of wonder and that "idiotic grin of his", becoming a boy again, and trying to catch a rainbow by it's tail, must really chap your hide raw; warts and scowls and all.

    1. I apologize for any type-os. I just rewrote this about 15 times because my stupid phone kept cutting it instead of copying it! Technology is hard. Almost as hard as math.

    2. I feel the emotion and your comment about rewriting it 15 times makes it even stronger!

    3. I really like this piece. You captured that feeling so well and with so few words. Super dope.

    4. so much anger, so much beauty, and the sounds you gave us... your synthesis of it all is beautiful...

    5. I Haven't seen your stuff before, but this rocks!

    6. Power. Thank you for the vivid pictures, the sounds rattling in my head. I can hear the silverware!

    7. One person is dealing with a bad mood by being ornery while the other, put into a bad mood by the first person's inconsiderate actions, retaliates by being happy. Very telling!

  17. Betty liked to make one full circle of the main floor and the gallery before she left for the night, plucking up any papers or loose items strewn about. There was no need; the cleaning crew was spit-spot like Mary Poppins, in before the break of dawn preparing for the day ahead, but it was a small courtesy she prided herself on and had for the last twenty-five years she’d been a fixture in this place. On her last sweep through the first floor she found three empty coffee cups, several newspapers, and pair of eyeglasses someone would be dearly missing in the morning. She slipped them into the pocket of her apron and paused before leaving, admiring the gleam of the brass and the polished wood lectern and the deep blue carpeting. It was so much more impressive in person than on the television. That’s what she usually told people who asked. But because of her work hours, she rarely got to see any of the senators in action. She’d heard about what happened yesterday—who hadn’t—and she’d shaken her head, imagining those important men and women, in their expensive suits, sitting on the floor! She knew the carpeting was clean; the steamers had just been in last weekend, but still. The second-shift men in the cafeteria didn’t see what good would come of it, and they argued among themselves, but they’d stood at the ready, always a new pot of coffee brewing. One of them bragged he himself served a cup of coffee to a man who had marched in Selma, Alabama, way long ago. That man. That man was sitting on the floor not ten feet from where she was standing. She slipped a glance right, then left, then walked over to that spot. One hand on a chair’s armrest, she lowered herself to the pile. It was sturdy, but soft, and she dug her fingers into it and listened carefully. She could almost feel them then, could almost hear their words still echoing around the room. She inhaled and exhaled in time with their chanting back and forth, their calls for justice to be done. She sat for a long while, imagining faces, speeches, and what, if anything, would come of it. And then she jumped at the sound of a thin, uncertain voice calling her name.

    “Miss Betty?” it said again.

    She turned. She knew that young man. He worked for one of the senators, she couldn’t remember which, and he reminded her of her son when he was that age, and she could not help but stare, even as embarrassment heated her face for being caught.

    “You all right?” he said.

    He stepped forward to help her from the carpet, but she waved him off. “I’m fine,” she said.

    It came out sort of snippy, and he smiled and said softly, “Well, all right then.”

    “Is there something I can help you with?”

    “Yes. The senator. He left his reading glasses here, he thinks…”

    She fished them from her pocket. Turned them around in her fingers before extending her arm toward him. “These them?”

    “Yes, ma’am, thank you.”

    He held the frames a moment, but made no move to leave. Like he wanted to talk about something.

    “You were here,” she said.

    “Yes, ma’am.” He pointed up toward the gallery. “It was pretty wild.”

    She patted the carpet beside her. “Tell me.”

    He looked confused, and hooked a thumb over his shoulder. “Miss Betty, ma’am, you can watch it on the computer in the break room. I can show you how it works, if you like.”

    “No,” she said. “If you don’t mind humoring an old woman, I’d prefer if you sit right here where they sat and tell me how it started.”

    The young man nodded. He smiled shyly, as if he’d been waiting to be asked, and despite the possibility of dirtying his nice suit, he folded his long legs beneath him, closed his eyes, and then began to speak.

    1. Man, I like it when you show us the world.

    2. So real, so humble, and I will remember this story more than anything I read about the event in the news... you make the real world a better place...

    3. Awesome! I Love this concept, the whole thing!Love it Hard, Laurie!

    4. This is fantastic! Sometimes the greatest truth lies in fiction. :)

  18. What a fabulous perspective and so vivid--I felt the drums marching in Miss Betty's heart.

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. Daughter in Law
    It couldn’t be said that she aged gracefully. Or that, after the death of her husband, she mourned especially. She did not succumb to the invisibility of middle aged women. But rather, withdrew from the attentions of the livelier of men in among her peers, divested of the need for attention or even love, but enjoying it just the same.
    She did not get kinder or less exacting with the passing of years; she has not mellowed like fine wine. She plastered on no fancy dresses, gaudy prints and ostentation. Not for her the red hat society, the shallow chatter of aging hens. The bus trips to casinos, the herding to the home; the church, the doctors or the preachers—she likes to live alone.
    With everything in its proper order, everything arranged, grateful for what comes to her, glad for what has changed.
    She totters in that element, grows frail in her time. A Little slower, a little shorter, taking her time to take the time to see things done as she would have it.
    Approaching the rest like she can perfect it. Like practice makes perfect, in the end.
    Her children, grown, have their opinions, resentments, impatient with serving as her minions. And yet I see her with new admiration
    And her age as a celebration. To live long enough to get your due, when God gives you time enough, to let You be You.
    Live long and prosper, old, old woman. And know I am your friend.

    1. Filled with such gentle kindness, but speaking still the truth... I really liked this.

    2. I love this, a celebration of self-awareness and individuality.

  21. It was a tiresome party, but she’d accepted the invitation because, well, because she missed people. Once she retired, one by one, her friends either stopped coming around because they were busy with their grandchildren or because they died.

    She’d had two glasses of champagne, and tried to make eye contact with a debonair man across the room, he looked back… but not at her. Through her. She made her way to the powder room, to make sure her maquillage was still as perfect as when she’d applied it. She set her purse down on the counter, and looked into the ridiculously large mirror. She saw… nothing. Not nothing precisely, but transparency. The painting on the wall behind her was visible in the reflection. As if the color were slowly being drained from her body, leaving only a shadowy outline. Her heart beat faster. What was going on? She didn’t have THAT much to drink.

    She looked again. She gasped as she saw that the effect was accelerating. The cocktail ring on her right hand looked as if it were floating in the air. Her arm was nearly clear.

    She applied powder to her cheeks, hoping that it would mask the condition until she could leave the party.

    Returning to the ballroom, she saw the host and hostess across the room, and waved goodbye. She really couldn’t linger. They didn’t notice. She raced to the cloakroom and retrieved her fur.

    After ten minutes of trying to hail a cab, she understood. She’d always thought it was a metaphor. But she was living proof that middle-aged women really are invisible.

    It was a long walk home.

    1. This scares me more than you know.

    2. It's true for middle aged men, too... it's just that nobody noticed that yet... you'd think they'd wonder why all those red sports cars are driverless...

  22. The movement in the Bay was starting to attract transplants, which Luanne mostly considered a good thing. Unlike a lot of the gentrifiers flowing into her area, they weren’t there to fuck around. Milton LaMarche had such a great time when he visited, he came back to stay. Most of the time, he was a real laid back down-home Southern brother, friendly and talkative, down to sip a forty-ounce, smoke a blunt, play some dominos, shoot the shit. He reminded Luanne so much of her Georgian mother’s family, she wouldn’t have been surprised if they were distantly related. He could cook too, his fried chicken, cornbread, and collard greens were bomb as fuck. But when shit got real, he could get real mean, real fast. And he was a big man, too, six foot four and two hundred forty pounds butt naked, which Luanne knew because of his occasional penchant for disrobing. He had enough sense not to rub up on her; she had already unambiguously rejected him, so he mostly did it to play around and make people uncomfortable. He came from notoriously trigger-happy New Orleans, so he knew that totally disregarding others’ boundaries would get him killed in a hurry, he just liked to fuck around. He claimed that coming to the Bay chilled him out a great deal: “nah man, here I’m chillin’, I’m smokin’ that dank, drinkin’ fine-ass wine, eatin’ hella organic vegetables and shit, I’m cool. It ain’t like this in N’awlins, boss, them niggas always be lookin’ for a fight. Back when I was a young buck in the Ninth Ward, I’d smoke niggas for lookin’ at me crosswise, you dig? Na’days, the only thangs I be smokin’ on the reg’lar are these fat-ass blunts.”

    Whereas this other dude, whom Luanne didn’t know that well, seemed a study in contrasts. Barry Grant just came to the neighborhood from Detroit, a stocky brother with a beard and tattoos. He was definitely not as chatty, but still waters run deep: when she did get to conversing with him, she found him very pithy and thoughtful, and when she probed a bit deeper as they both sipped tallboys on the back porch, found him full of interesting information: like her boyfriend’s father, he did a stint as an Army engineer, where he acquired a journeyman level of expertise in demolitions. She only knew what could be pieced together from dubious Internet sources, but he knew all about it: plastic explosives, TNT, everything. He claimed he could bring down any building in the world, given enough material and free access. And she just thought it was funny that he was black, but had very Midwestern mannerisms; that he referred to soft drinks as “pop”, wore shorts all year round, even when the mercury dipped below 50 Fahrenheit, but sometimes balked at how much more expensive some things were in California, compared to Michigan. “$3 a gallon for gas? And they don’t come out and pump it for you? Sheeit.” “$8 for dinner at fuckin’ Burger King? Sheeit, White Castle is only like $5.50.”

    1. Great character study. I'd like to read more.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Removed because "the author" replied in the wrong place. Oops.


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