Friday, September 2, 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.

This is my stop, and I want to get off. I don't want to ride on your train no more. You got such clear eyes, where did you get them? Your hands are so soft, how do you keep them that way? Your smile is a flashbulb, turn it the fuck off. It's too early. My head hurts. Don't you understand how one small thing can kill a man?

I'm passing cornfield after cornfield, and I want to stop and look. They don't all look the same. Don't give me that shit. They don't all smell the same either. Some smell like crap and some smell like sunshine. Some smell like the apocalypse and some smell like chamomile. They all sound like wind and song. Don't look at me like that. I'm done with you.

Your clear eyes and your soft hair and that little kink in your vacant stare. It's starting to make me uncomfortable. Not in an existential way, no, I mean I can't sleep at night because my brain can't find a cool spot on this jacket bunched on rough, old wood. The damn thing keeps turning all night. Flipping and flopping. I can't shut it off. That's why I aim to get off. Just like Aaron did - you never tried to stop him.

Sure, the sky's pretty once you leave the city. Sure, the clouds float higher here. Sure, I like the folks we meet and the smiles they pass us while we eat. The problem isn't them. The problem isn't you. And it's not me. It's those clear eyes and all the things they see.


#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. You can't like him because he hates The Beatles. What kind of person hates The Beatles? I mean, sure, I like The Kinks, but I sure don't hate The Beatles. That fucker doesn't even like fishing - you can't trust someone who doesn't like to fish even a little...

    Can't you see that his skin is too white? How you gonna live in Cali and have skin like that? That's planned, see? It's contrived. We all do silly things with our lives ... but at least I'm honest. Fuck sunscreen. He's a fucking asshole.

    How can you even tolerate him for a minute. Because his pea coat fits right on a seventy degree day? Because you like to listen to the indie rock play? It's a musical, but you don't know the score. I do. Motherfucker's got hair like The Beach Boys.

    How can you listen to the bullshit he spews? And how can you love him when I love you?

    1. I like the starting point, and I like the ending point, and all the words in between... And yeah, no hating on the Beatles... nor the Kinks!

    2. How could you? Some things can't be explained. LOL Love it and the one above with the clear eyes.

    3. Dude, this Friday thing you've going is fucking brilliant. I'm fixing to funnel folks your way.

    4. Thanks Brian. You should come throw down with us. Mi blog es su blog.

  2. Dan, that last line reeled me in... a haunting and love all in one... Thanks for writing it!

  3. “Will you marry me?”

    We were only five years old, but I said yes, and I meant it. George did, too.
    We didn't tell anyone. We knew we'd have to grow up first, and we hoped that wouldn't take too long. Each year, he'd solemnly ask me again, and I'd answer just as solemnly.

    When we turned twelve, he gave me a glass marble. A cats eye, he called it, and I almost dropped it before he told me it really didn't have anything to do with cats. I was glad. I got him a pocketknife that year.

    And then, so fast, we were seventeen, and he asked me again, and asked me to wait for him, and I thought we'd waited long enough, and he said he was going to be a soldier, not long, just enough to save for us to have a little nest egg, for when we really truly got married. That year, we didn't exchange presents, but we did kiss and that was better than a marble.

    And he went away to boot camp or basic or whatever they called it, and we wrote each other every week. And then the war came and we spent less time writing and more time praying for its end, and for his safety.

    He asked me to wait for him, and I did, and I do, even in this old rocking chair, even as my crooked fingers hold the marble and his knife together. I've waited seventy years. I hope it won't take too much longer. And yes, I'll truly marry you.

    1. God, this is beautiful. And I love cat's eye marbles and pocketknives. And stories like this one, brother.

    2. Truly perfect. A well thought out beginning, middle and end. A story for the ages.

  4. The end came exactly as he knew it would.


    The dream first came to him when he was a child. Of course he didn't understand it then. As the years passed, he understood it more.

    It began as an auditory dream; most unusual, and his therapist told him it was a sign of great intelligence. He remembered when he heard the sound outside of his drums. His grandmother was listening to classical music, and the huge sound of drums began the piece.

    "What's that?" he asked.

    "I just turned it on, I'm not sure who the composer is..."

    "No, the instrument!" He was afraid to talk, afraid that he might miss important clues.

    "That, my boy, is a timpani. More correctly, those are timpani, since timpani is plural."

    But there was no more magic, at least not that Sunday afternoon. Still, knowing the name for the drum seemed to open his mind further, and now he heard trumpets, and saw sunrises, and smelled incense in his dreams.

    It wasn't until he was in his twenties that the cymbals began crashing in his brain, and lightning and thunder. He closed his eyes, even awake now, and the dream came.

    The last time he'd had the dream, a month ago, it began the same, it built up the same, but as the last of the music died, the sun rose over the horizon in his mind's eye, and then it stopped.

    And now, here he was, an old man, wandering with the memory, or was it the ghost, of an old dog, in the almost dark that comes before dawn. He sat, facing east, eyes half open, willing the music to return. And it did, timpani, trumpets, cymbals, and all. And then silence fell from the sky, and a blood vessel popped in his brain and he saw stars and rainbows and meteors.

    He died, just before dawn, under a crescent moon in a sky not quite pink. And the dog, or the ghost of the dog whispered to him, "Fanfare for the Common Man. Next time, you'll hear it again, and you'll write it for others. And your name will be Aaron, and I will be with you always."

    1. Magical RealLeland at it's best, this.

    2. I was lucky enough to see Copeland once. Love it!

    3. Thanks! I actually got to shake the hand of the maestro himself... quite a delightful imp he was...

  5. It was your idea to plan the stops on your anniversary trip, but his idea to buy the Stoli. You flew across the ocean and took trains around Eastern Europe, hunting down sections of the Berlin Wall. At each, you downed a shot and kissed and took a selfie for the grandchildren, because they didn’t believe anything was real unless they saw the pictures on Facebook. The wall had once separated you, when you were young, running about the neighborhood with skinned knees and red cheeks. And you met again at the protests as adults, and you fell in love with the image of him standing atop the rubble, swinging a sledgehammer. When the crowds were finally dispersed by the men in black with unloaded guns and secret smiles, you ducked into a café and toasted the new era and talked about how marvelous it was, how momentous this day. Not just because a divided city had been reunified, but because you had once again found each other. “All walls fall eventually,” he had said that night, and you loved him even more.

    He said it again, now, and his smile was not quite as bright, your eyes not quite as dreamy, and you asked how long he thought this new wall would stand.

    He refilled both glasses and stared into the clear liquid for so long you thought the world might end. Then he tapped the phone in his pocket. “It will have to be up to them,” he said. “I hope they see that in the pictures.”

    1. I love this... so beautiful, so hopeful, so painful... thank you for this story.

    2. Man, what Leland said. And then some.

    3. This is wonderful. It pulled me in. I'm holding the clear liquid and waiting for more.

  6. I'm bored with my face, and the mirror feels the same. Don't even get me started on my name. I'm gonna pick a fight so I have more scars. I'm gonna get a fucking daisy tattooed on my cheek. Anything but look at the red-skin and stubble week after week.

    I'm tired of my pain, I carry it well. Sometimes motherfuckers can't even tell. Which is good. Because I don't want everybody knowing that I can't outrun them - gotta stand and fight, slightly hunched 'cause my back ain't right.

    I'm tired of being such a whiny ass bitch. Boohoo, I'm so tired, and I'm still not rich. Time to find the bootstraps and give 'em a yank. I'll look tommorow, I'm running on an empty tank.

    And my brain won't stop rhyming. Goddamnit.

    1. and this makes me smile... it's like you're playing the Dozens with yourself... well played.

    2. I get the rhyming thing myself sometimes. Makes me think I have to learn to write all over again...but it's mostly just fatigue.

  7. I'm going to take every letter you ever sent and burn it. I'm going to force myself to accept that I'm not crazy - I'm not crazy, that's the look you chose for me, and I'm sick of it. I'm not a degenerate.

    You want proof? I remember like yesterday. Small room and beautiful girl. Breasts made of marble, but soft. I couldn't believe my luck. And then we got drunk, getting ready to fuck. And then she started talking about her fucked up Dad, and we cuddled while she cried, her saying: no, we can still do it.

    No. No, we can't. I may be a lot of things, but I ain't that kind of man.

    And if I read about another privileged white college boy raping a drunk girl, I'm gonna hunt him down and castrate him. Being a "man" isn't about a tally card, you stupid goddamn assholes. It's about being decent.

    Getting laid ain't like getting paid. You didn't earn it. You don't get to be upset if the check don't clear. I swear to God. If I had a time machine, I'd be a lawyer, then a judge and send all y'all to the metal hell where inmates have the same attitude as you.

    Go ahead, yell. No one's coming to check your cell.

    Bitch ass motherfuckers.

  8. I remember hating the scratch of the wool uniform, but loving the way it looked. I don't know why. I also liked the way that torn up fishing pants looked. Brains are weird things. I liked clothes, period. Still do. What kind of five year old asks Father Christmas for bow-ties?

    I know I was supposed to be tougher or more competitive or something. I was supposed to be a star athlete. And I liked winning, but not enough to hurt anyone. Physically or emotionally. You can't hurt someone too much when you're wearing a bow-tie.

    I wish I could go back, hit reset, and do things differently. Or have different things done to me. But I can't, and probably shouldn't, try to change the backstory. Because the plot's just starting to get interesting.

    1. Thank God we can't edit life... we'd take out all the stuff that brought us to where we are today, and we'd just be a bunch of vanilla custard with no texture, no taste, and no fiber... this is a really cool piece.

  9. Years have piled into some sort of online filing system where your smile hides the real you. The real you that I, somewhat bitterly remember, because all of it was some primitive play for physical entanglement anyway, hidden behind your poetic distaste for commercialism, in a sort of Thoreau-like quest for nature in a peaceful but personal rally against ‘the man’. Your fingers flew on mandolin strings, luring me, while mocking the establishment, singing about idyllic love, beauty and connected souls, while you connected like fiber optics, before it was even invented, with another and then another, in a social network of semen.

    I stare at the photos. Your children hold on to you and seem appreciative. They don’t mind different mothers because they love you. The real you.

    1. Well. I like every single bit of this. Jesus. Talk about killing it. Wow.

    2. Wow. You definitely spiked that landing! awesome!

    3. Thank you for the kind comments. I always enjoy reading everything created by this group.

  10. There was never any regularity to the food they served us; you had to be grateful for what you got or go hungry. The newbies soon learned. The ones who started off picking at their trays, leaving half of the hollows full, usually learned fast. Food was a currency in The Halls: you could barter what you couldn’t eat most times. You never knew who’d like what you couldn’t stomach; even the undercooked broccoli could find takers if you asked about enough.

    Of course we were all discouraged from talking at chow time. The officers used to sit in their cube above the canteen watching us all and once in a while they’d come down to us, brandishing a night-stick or a taser if they felt pissy but usually leaving us alone; more intent on watching whatever sports they could stream on their phones than any of the prisoners downstairs on their shift.

    The servers were all trustees at The Halls, working for the money we all needed for luxuries. Sometimes money changed hands at the inspections – scrawled paper IOU’s the usual currency – so you might often see a double portion of one of the puddings we all coveted being doled out to the prisoner in the queue in front of you, knowing full well it’d be missing from your tray. You had to be wary who you got behind at meal call - the officers took their time coming down to settle disputes, giving us time to sort it out ourselves before they came to punish whoever it was that lost the argument. That was another thing the newbs soon picked up on; if you picked a fight with one of the long-timers in the chow-line, you’d get beat up, tasered and go hungry. It was the natural order of things in The Halls.

  11. My shortest flash fiction ever, and two words less than Hemingway's (well, allegedly Hemingway) story about the baby shoes:

    Fresh grave, goldfish-sized.

  12. Goldfish don't need shoes...

    Cool idea, Leland!

  13. I’m trying you have to believe that.
    The word well has run dry, the bucket always empty after hours of turning the handle and reeling that sucker up.
    I slump by the stone wall my brow slick with sweat. How do I tell it? Hell, how CAN I tell it?
    You ain’t ready to hear it of that I’m sure. Maybe that’s why my inkwell is no more than a shrivelled blue stain in a bottle once full of hopes and dreams.
    Oh my, the dreams….too terrifying to speak of yet terrible enough to make me long for the night so I can topple into that gaping black hole and die a thousand more times.
    Morning is a blinding spotlight consisting of burnt retinas and brain fog and confusion only thick black scalding caffeine can shift.
    The days are filled with encounters of the mundane kind. Don’t get me wrong, I notice the starlings swooping gracefully in the azure sky. I listen with heart-bursting joy to the melody of the lark song and watch in wonder as the spider spins his intricate web.
    Beauty is all around. The babbling brook which bubbles and gurgles joyfully over million year old pebbles. The dappled sunbeams as they glisten on the meandering river and the murmur of the breeze rustling through the branches, inviting the leaves to sway and dance.
    Still I can’t find the words to describe the miraculous masterpiece created by nature , nor the hideous underbelly of humankind.
    This was once a wishing well and my pale overflowed with descriptive words, frivolous and fancy words which flowed from my pen and poured onto the page in meaningful paragraphs.
    I wish, I wish…..but if shit was apple pie then I guess we’d never be hungry.

    1. Oh, man. This is lovely. Seems to me like the word bucket is doing alright. Love the shrivelled blue stain.

    2. I don't know what to call this kind of fiction... a lament? a paean? But whatever you call it, it's brilliant, and Lord how I identify!

  14. The Prophet Manassas lives in my neighborhood
    He’s got a robo call; he’s reaching out to all for all the good.
    With an unidentified number and a message for all
    He ‘s had vision and If I only press one, I’ll save myself and my loved ones
    He preaches a message of sabotage. conspiracy, and fear.
    All the sheer uncertainty
    Of living though the passion of the Father and the Son, the holy Ghost and Mother Mary, the Clintons and the rest.
    He knows who are our enemies, the moneyed and the rest.

    He’s got him some inside information
    He’s got him a praying congregation
    For a lousy ten bucks we get in with the in crowd
    Where God anoints us
    And speaks from the loud
    To confirm all our darkness and speak it out loud.
    And all our misgivings
    We get God and his minions
    And we get instructions, too.
    By giving up our credit cards
    We buy our way out of
    Distrust and confusion
    Live in the Light
    And Lose the Illusions
    The prophet Manasass
    Hears God’s direct voice, and he’s here to tell us, we ain’t got a choice.
    “Put your faith in the prophet”
    Or take what you get
    Ignore his message at your own risk
    Mind your P’s and q’s
    Pay the devil his due.
    Or the Prophet Manasass
    Like Santa
    Will move on and groove on and soon be calling YOU!

    1. This is a cool piece, lady. Fun, but also scary and super cool rendering.

    2. Reading it out loud just confirms its beauty... and its spookiness... and the alliterations are well done without being pretentious!

  15. Phil pulled up to the intersection and turned to her right. The sign in the window read, “Fresh Bait For Sale.”

    Wow. It was still there after all these years. The price had gone up a bit, but it was still there. She remembered the way it smelled the most. The dank smell of the earth as old man Wooster scooped up the worms mixed with the musky scent of tobacco and the sweetness of fruit. She could almost hear the buzzing of the refrigeration units that held the milk, eggs and beer that Wooster sold to the vacationers who were too lazy to head back to the store on the mainland where it was half the price.

    Her grandpa used to bring her here every summer on Saturdays before they took the boat out fishing. Rain or shine, every Saturday they went fishing. Except for that last Saturday. Only hurricane force winds or family tragedy could keep that great old man from going fishing.

    Fishing was a silent activity, but she didn’t mind. So was that final ride home. It had been 20 years since that day, since she’d last gone fishing with the greatest man she would ever know. Twenty years since her sister ran off to wherever she’d been the last two decades without a word to her family, and Grandpa had to rush her home so her mother could pat her head and cry and make her feel invisible.

    Phil hadn’t come back. Her mother couldn’t bear to see her leave for her usual summers with her grandfather, and she couldn’t bring herself to go. A few years later she was off to college herself, and the time kept marching by a little faster each year. After his arthritis made it hard for him to get up and down the stairs, he closed up the summer house and stayed in town year-round.

    He was gone now. He left her the summer house. And so she returned for the summer to take stock of the damage that life had done in the last 20 years. A wedding, a funeral, a loss of sobriety, a downsizing, a dissolution of marriage followed by a tenuous hold on sobriety, and a car full of boxes she’d packed, moved, and now moved again having never unpacked in the first place.

    What the hell was she thinking?

    1. Love this piece, and not just because of the fishing. ;) Super strong narrative, great sensory detail. I love the weaving of stories. Really well played.

    2. I can almost smell the mustiness of the summer house... and the desperation held at bay... It really is well-played, to borrow a word from an esteemed colleague


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