Friday, September 16, 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.

BTW, I debated not doing it this week. But Rich would have thought that was stupid as shit. RIP, brother.



Of course the sun sets at a different time down by the water, glistening. You see them damn hills? They say there's gold, but I sure haven't found any. I've found wisps of time and goodness. I've lived years of horror over the years. And years of horror in a day. This isn't a competition, no, it's just the American way. And I'll bite my tongue as my daughter pledges her allegiance to something when she doesn't even know what that means. I can't wait until she's old enough to get my point. 

But there are so many things to be angry about, and you gotta glance at 'em sideways to see how it's funny.

See a woman in the ER screaming in pain. Feel the cold heat of the white. The goddamn white. Beds, shoes, clothes. Everything is white, and it's terrifying. And the woman is cold, shivering. And the doctor is twelve and you about shit yourself. And the woman's red dress stands out, stark. Like a blood clot. And she screams and it sounds like some kind of divine torture you don't understand. And you recoil, filled with a morbid fascination, as the doctor raises high in the air - fresh from the woman's vagina - a tiny Velociraptor, inert and silly in its plasticity.

And the doctor looks at you. And says: it's not real. And you laugh.

I know, you say. Ya maroon.


#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...

129 comments:

  1. That last line slays me... and yeah, Rich would have given you shit for sure. Thanks, my friend.

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    1. I love it. And the last line. And yeah, Rich would have given you shit.

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    2. Brilliant. And echoing everyone else, Rich would've given... etc. ;)

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    3. Loved every single word of this.

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    4. That's funny,except I just came from the hospital and saw it with my own eyes!:)

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    5. Perfect, yes, especially the last line.

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  2. It was why he wrote fiction so well and why he lived life so poorly. In fiction, he saw the ending almost as soon as he started writing, and gently guided the story to that end. In life, he saw a thousand endings and could not choose, could not guess which one was the right one, and without an ending, how could he live the middle?

    On the page, the nouns made themselves known by the way they acted, by the way they verbed. He preferred writing in black and white, so he used the color of adjectives sparingly, and the colors of adverbs not at all.

    In life, the colors all mixed together into a purplish gray that made him sick with indecision, and the only verging he did was writing, and that's what he was doing when the proper nouns found him, profusely bleeding scarlet liquid on his desk, with a dictionary in his hands.

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    1. I identify a little too much with this. To be or not to be. It's like Shakespeare, brother!

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    2. I identify with it, too! and thank you!

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    3. Yep. Me, too. And really cool piece, brother.

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    4. Oh god! Been awhile since I read your poetry, Leland, and I'd forgotten your particular talent of sporking me in the guts. Beautiful.

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    5. Maybe it's me but that came from a very different place didn't it? You should go there more often.

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    6. That's wonderful Leland.I especially like that in life he saw a thousand endings but couldn't pick one.

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    7. I love the purplish grey, it calls to me. I love this, even as I fear that I understand it too well.

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    8. Thank you all! and yeah, this crowd definitely understands By the way, there's a typo near the end... in "the only verging he did was writing," verging should be "verbing." Thanks again for the encouragement!

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  3. They laughed at the old man when he said he saw a green ball of fire that night. They asked him what he'd been drinking, what he'd been smoking. But I did not laugh. I saw it, too. It hovered in the air above him, just about six feet off the ground. It rolled like a bowling ball, slowly, but with direction and purpose, and it stopped right above him.

    He stopped telling the story when he realized they were laughing at him. Sad, really, since it seemed to bring some comfort to him, a recent widower. And I could say nothing, for my vantage point was a guard tower, and my uniform conveyed a distance neither he nor I were supposed to bridge.

    When I went to sleep the next night, the light came in my dreams, and I saw the old man again, too. The light spoke to me, but I did not understand, for it spoke in Japanese. I could guess, however. When morning came, I broke the rules. I walked up to his barrack, and I knocked at his door, after hesitating a moment. He opened the door, with a blank face. I bowed slightly, to honor him. He bowed back.

    "I saw her, too."

    One side of his mouth lifted ever so slightly. Perhaps a smile?

    "And I saw what you did not. I was in the tower."

    His left eyebrow raised a millimeter.

    "She had wings, and she was smiling."

    He nodded, but said nothing.

    "I just wanted you to know." And I turned to leave.

    His hand touched my shoulder. He whispered. "Did you hear her sing?"

    I nodded. He bowed again, deeper this time, and I did my best to match the depth of his bow.

    I walked quickly to my post, and I swear I felt a kiss on my cheek. The sun rose brightly that day, and that night my sleep was undisturbed.

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    1. Aside from everything else, you portray simple kindness so well, Leland. (And though it's simple, it's hard to capture in words, so kudos.)

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    3. Yes! That's it DA. That's how he does it. Kindness. Everything you write is gentle and kind, even when it's hard stuff to write. Your spirit shines through everything you write. Magical ReaLeland FTW!

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    4. Yes. What they ^^^ said. kind most definitely but compassion too.

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    5. I'm pretty sure I have tears in my eyes.

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    6. More than pretty sure. Not much makes me cry. Thanks for sharing the beauty.

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    7. More than pretty sure. Not much makes me cry. Thanks for sharing the beauty.

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    8. Thanks... I'm honored by your kind words... This is practice for some scenes I'm writing about the Japanese Americans who were imprisoned during World War II.

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  4. No idea where this came from. I never write sci-fi.
    ________________________________________________________

    The odd rare time anyone asked Amethyst her age, probably hoping she'd lie so they could feel less guilty about fucking her, she usually stymied them and answered fifteen. But really, she didn't know. Did they mean Old Earth years or Outpost years? Did anyone even translate any more? Either way, who gave a fuck?

    She had just come from saving Nebula's life. Nebula was a henge addict and Amethyst had scored a few micros of that sweet and deadly nectar in the nick of time, had pushed its pneumatic resplendence into her friend's neck and watched her blue veins bloom, engorge, like aroused labia under her skin. Until that moment, Nebula had almost certainly been planning to hack the nearest airlock and launch herself spaceward, one more speck of dark matter seeking a great attractor. Or something.

    "You saved my life again, you absolute bitch." Nebula's eyes—ecstatic, gorgeous, blissed-out, lost—belied the sour tang of her words. "Why do you bother? You know one day it won't work, right?"

    Amethyst held her middle finger as vertical as an antenna. "Spin, cunt."

    While Nebula sank into a quantum bubble bath, Amethyst returned to her corner of this labyrinthine system, breathed deeply of the ozone-heavy air, and lay back against the titanium-alloy bulkhead. She allowed her mind to wander off of its usual single-note tractor-beam trajectory. Where was Dallian? She hadn't seen him in days. Of all the duct rats, she had an affection for him that made little sense, unless it was purely chemical ... which she had to concede it probably was. He was a short boy who nonetheless stooped like an octogenarian; he'd spent his entire short life in the ducts, and Amethyst imagined he'd still hunch over like that if they ever found a way to blag it planetside one day. His hair was like the hair version of Old Earth's fossil fuels: dark, viscous, and shameful. But his eyes. There was a dangerous life in them unlike anything she'd ever seen, like a gamma burst. Despite all evidence to the contrary, in spite of their daily predicament, his eyes said, "I love this life. There is no other I'd choose." She thought he might well be crazy, but she admired him anyway. Sometimes thought she might even love him. And now she was worried for him.

    "Stop," she whispered to herself. "None of this matters. The only thing that does is hour by hour survival. That's all. That's everything."

    Then it came to her. Dreams the Void. Of all the duct rats, Dreams the Void spooked Amethyst the most. She had actual visions. Not henge-induced, but apparently pure and spontaneous. She claimed her ancestry went all the way back to a people called the Oglala Sioux in a place called Black Hills. Once skeptical, Amethyst now had little doubt of the older girl's shamanic powers, which made her feel self-conscious, as if a new gullibility had stolen in and set up camp in her psyche. Fuck that. By now, they were probably all crazy in some way.

    With her fingernail against the sheet metal she tapped out the code for Dreams the Void, which translated as: Where are You? Need to talk. And she waited. And waited. She orbited denial for about five minutes until she had to admit this delay was odd. What was going on here?

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    1. Oh, and it's far from finished, as you can see.

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    2. A foray into sci-fi is fitting, no? And you did it so well. I'd love to see this go all the way.

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    3. D'you know, I never thought of that, but yes, it's very fitting. Thanks, Laura. This appeared like a dream, almost, and I have at least two more characters in my head!

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    4. How quickly can you have the book done? Because I want to read it, dammit...

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    5. I'm reading Dune with a student right now. You should write scifi more often, brother. This is awesome.

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    6. Oh, I'm loving this. You better write more. And this:

      "You saved my life again, you absolute bitch." Nebula's eyes—ecstatic, gorgeous, blissed-out, lost—belied the sour tang of her words. "Why do you bother? You know one day it won't work, right?"

      Amethyst held her middle finger as vertical as an antenna. "Spin, cunt."

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    7. I agree, David. That this piece is sci-fi is no accident, and yet still very much your voice. Flipping amazing.

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    8. Ok you had me the first time you wrote Amethyst. So yes, write more of this please. And also adored the lines Laurie pointed out. One more thing, LOVED the notion that some indigenous people were still surviving even if it is in ducts.

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    9. Just so you know, such kind comments mean a huge lot to me. I'm risking being maudlin here, but Rich Meyers's death made me realize we're a family, whether we like it or not. <3

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    10. Cool to see a different side,David.

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    11. I commented but it disappeared. Just enjoy seeing a new side of you.

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    12. I want more in the worst way. I agree, we are a family, and I want the best for you. I enjoy watching you grow and push for more and better. I love reading these pieces because we all get to see different sides of each other while doing something that we love. Now that I've rambled...love it.

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    13. This: "I love reading these pieces because we all get to see different sides of each other while doing something that we love." You captured it, Erin. :)

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  5. Lunch wasn’t sitting well, the sudden rise in the humidity was making his sinuses throb like a mother, and Malcolm still had one more job to do before he could call it a week and collect his money.

    The déjà vu of the address he plugged into his crappy GPS stopped him for a moment, but then he shook it out of his head and followed its schoolmarm directives. He knew the cardinal rules of the job: have a short memory and don’t get involved. Maybe that was why he drank so much. It helped with the memory part, but it didn’t help so much with the guilt. He woke each morning with the gut-sinking sensation that he’d ruined someone’s day, maybe even someone’s future. But several cups of coffee, the piles of bills on his kitchen table, and the rationalization that if people hadn’t done something stupid he wouldn’t be visiting them usually killed that.

    But when he turned up the broken driveway and saw the sheared off gutter dangling by one clamp over the raggedy lawn, one of those smothered memories snuck up and sucker-punched him in the face.

    He’d been here before. The driveway was less choppy; the lawn had been shorter. A pale wisp of a girl, many months pregnant, had answered the door. She’d looked like his daughter, whom he hadn’t seen in years. He’d mumbled the name on the papers and she shook her head and he said he was only doing his job and she stood there growing paler and he shoved the papers at her and got the hell out of there as fast as he could and downed most of a fifth of JB when he got home.

    Now he turned the car off and sat, staring at the crumbling stairs, the sagging gutters, and one intrepid weed growing straight up out of it. The doorbell glowed orange. The papers lay crisp and stapled on his front seat. His breath quickened. His mind snatched at excuses. Had an accident. Lost the paperwork. Nobody home… His smile dissolved. No matter what he thought of, this still would not end well for her.

    Then a car pulled up behind him, and the less-wispy girl flew out, fists clenched, eyes blazing. “You people. You people, haven’t you people done enough? He’s not here. He’s not here, all right? You want him? You go to his girlfriend’s house, you get him there, and you know what? You tell him he owes me for the care and feeding of our child.”

    And with that she pointed to the backseat, and the pale, towheaded baby, and the lunch that wasn’t sitting well in Malcolm’s stomach punched him too.

    Her once-pale face flared red, but she seemed to have shouted herself out, so he rolled down his window, and now she stood with sagging shoulders, her right hand extended. “Okay,” she said. “I get it. The papers are all made up there, and you’re only doing your job, and I guess”—she sighed—“I guess I’ll have to find a lawyer or something, huh.”

    “I can help you,” he mumbled.

    “Pardon me, what?”

    Malcolm cleared his throat and said, louder, “I can help you.”
    And when he got home, the undelivered summons back in his briefcase, he collapsed into a kitchen chair and made two phone calls. One to his boss, telling him he quit. The second to the public defender, telling him the name and new address of the deadbeat dad.

    He then tried to make a third, but the same sort of schoolmarmish voice that scolded him from his GPS said that the number had been disconnected.

    The robot voice was still echoing in his mind when he drank the JB straight from the bottle, knowing it would not kill everything that he’d done, but he damn sure hoped to give it a try.

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    1. I don't know why, but "The doorbell glowed orange" pulled me completely in and made me forget I was reading fiction. It's true what they say: the devil really is in the details.

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    2. This is beautifully human, and moreso because of the contrasts with the technology... the doorbell, the gps voice, all of it is such a wonderful bunch of contrasts between machinelike servitude and human goodwill... I love it.

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    3. I hate to be a dittohead, but they've already said it all. <3

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    4. Dammit. I gotta ditto, too. But yeah, as always, master of the minute details that make all the difference.

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    5. Ooh, damn. You always get me with your people. So real. So good!

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    6. "schoolmarm directives" Holy shit, yeah. You paint so well Laurie.

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    7. Laurie, this is filled with so much emotion I'm re-reading it to make sure I didn't miss anything.

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    8. It might sound weird, but this reminded me so much of the movie, Grosse Point Blank, that it took effort to convince myself he wasn't a hitman. This is so awesome. I love that his humanity broke through, as did hers, in the end.

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  6. "This tour guide doesn't know what he's talking about. You don't need to go all the way to the student union for lunch — the coffee shop at the library is better, faster and cheaper than the cafeteria. The selection isn't quite as wide, but..."

    "Listen, I appreciate your insight, but you really don't need to be here. It is new student orientation, after all, not new student and chaperone."

    "We aren't the only mother and daughter here, if you hadn't noticed!"

    "I know. It's just that I wanted to do this on my own."

    "Okay. I thought you'd like to get the inside scoop from an alum, but if you're sure..."

    "I'm sure."

    "All right then, I guess I'll see you later."

    "Yeah, I'll be home for dinner. Thanks for your help today."

    "No problem. Good luck, Mom!"

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  7. You are weird. You know you're weird because the kids say it, but they say it about other kids, too - and those kids are fucking cool. Aren't they? What's a 'not weird' kid look like? Like those kids with the plastic hair who let their Moms pop their collars for school pictures?

    Doesn't make any sense. No one calls Jeremy weird, and he's like the human equivalent of cardboard - lifeless, that's weird. But May's weird because she has three braids? You like the three braids. And you like the little bird noises Tyrone makes when he's doing math. And you like Monique's mismatched socks and the way she cocks an eye at everyone when she talks.

    So, it's time to go to lunch again. And you look at the tables. The cool kids. The freaks. The weirdos. The cool kids have pudding cups and shoes that never get dirty. The freaks are like a cool intergalactic gang. The weirdos don't judge. The losers are the nicest kids in the school.

    You? You don't care where you sit. As long as it's not with the cool kids.

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    1. The cool kids were always doomed. But yeah, this one got to me in a way that surprised me. All those little quirks that make people loveable.

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    2. Man, I could practically smell the hot lunch and humiliation sweat.

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    3. It definitely does bring back memories. This rocks.

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    4. Love this more than I can say... you can guess which table I sat at... and now that I think about it, all of us here are a wonderfully weird intergalactic gang... definitely outcooling the allegedly cool kids.

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  8. Raymond was surprised that his older brother and sister didn’t particularly encourage him to go to school. They were too busy to try and make him, had an understandably dim view of the public education system, and worried about him attracting the attention of social services since he didn’t have a legal guardian. But he wanted to get some education, in case his aspirations of being a rap star didn’t pan out, plus he figured his rhymes might benefit from some English classes, so he talked Luanne into going to McClymonds High with him and enrolling him. They didn’t ask too many questions; Luanne told the truth when she said she was his older sister, and their parents were dead, but fibbed when she said she was his legal guardian. He had to take a couple of remedial classes, but generally was at a decent educational level for a fifteen-year-old boy from Hunters Point, one of the poorest, dirtiest, most deprived neighborhoods in San Francisco. When he set off for his first day, his siblings told him, “whatever you do, just don’t act out. Don’t fight nobody, don’t bring drugs or weapons, be on your very best behavior, cuz if you get jammed up at school, the blowback could fuck up all our shit.”

    But of course, it happened, eventually. Ray said or did something to attract attention. He came home one afternoon with a social worker. A nice-looking older white lady in a conservative grey skirt and blazer. Jacob took one look at her and thought, “Oh, this is gonna be good.” He really showcased his code-switching skills dealing with her: he spoke to her with very clear, neutral diction, busted out some advanced vocabulary, but when speaking to his brother and housemates, he was brusque and used coarse urban vernacular: “Ah, yes, you know, we’re orphans, I dropped out of Northwestern to come home and look after my little brother and sister” contrasted to “you think I’m playin’, punk? Go to your room and do your fuckin’ homework!” And again to “sorry, you know Ray, I’m sure, he’s a spirited young man, we have to be stern with him to make sure he does what he’s supposed to do.”

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    1. This so reminds me of when I worked the streets. How we had to take the many languages of those same streets and translate them for the social workers and the probation officers.

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    2. Man, I literally know this exactly. You did good. I've been inside this, around it...hell, I know. The only thing that tripped me up was the code switching but I can't think of anything other than switching register which sounds equally boggy. Great piece.

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    3. I think this is one of my favorites from the Danimal-- collection.:)

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    4. Cheers. That is what it's called: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code-switching

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    5. Sure, code-switching is right, but do you ever have any thoughts on the other stories here? The ones people post every week, like you do?

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    6. Rarely. I don't read much, for a writer. I vaguely feel like I ought to, though.

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    7. Wow. Considering you don't read much, you're a natural. I mean that. I also didn't mean to sound harsh, but it can be very rewarding to do that give and take, the community aspect of this thing. And I say that as someone who suffers from social anxiety! ;)

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  9. Black cherries or maybe plums. Something darker perhaps.

    “That’ll be eight pounds please. Do you have a store card?”

    “Oh, yes. I do. That would be nice.”

    “Sorry?”

    She looked up at him questioningly, her tone uncertain. Had she misunderstood him? Had she said something other than what she’d thought she said/. He could see the questions flickering through her mind even though she’d said just that one word. Her lips parted and then closed again. Nervous. Unsure. What was it he’d said?

    He fumbled in his pocket and brought out a wallet; more of a card holder although there was a folded pound note tucked in one of the slots.

    “It’s TransMart, isn’t it?” He slipped a deft hand inside, pulling out the familiar red, green and blue oblong.

    “Yes.” She smiled, more sure of herself now, dismissing the doubt of a few moments ago.

    The man matched her smile and then laid the card in her palm.

    Maybe her lips were magenta. Or perhaps Redberry. Whatever the colour they were, he knew he’d enjoy kissing them later.

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    1. Man, my brain took me in a totally different direction, so the switch at the end worked extra well. Well played.

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    2. Distractions abound at the check-out line. Enjoyed this and made me think of those chip cards that give us even more time with the cashier.

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    4. Loved this. It sucker-punched me, too.

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    5. This is good stuff... and I love your descriptive use of colors...

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  10. Looking at the wind, watching it tear summer from the trees before autumn has its chance to pluck them. I can't hear it from my window, only imagine its voice, between the ocean's roar and the highway's song.

    I'd prefer to think it some ballet score, maybe by Copland, as the trees dance to it en corps. Or maybe it would be Lightfoot, waiting like me for a line to fall, telling me it was all a big mistake.

    Sometimes words need to be torn from us, though, even in our autumns.

    I wonder if I'd feel the same looking at the rain.

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    1. Stunning. To do this—yes, this!—in so few words shows a rare talent, my friend.

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    2. This is why your humility drives me insane, Joe. This is so fucking beautiful. I'd be damn proud to write something this fluid.

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    3. rare talent indeed... I am in awe... this is both poetry and prose, and it is beautiful.

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    4. There is so much beauty in this.

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  11. “It’s such a travesty.”

    “What?”

    “Him and her together, it’s wrong. So wrong, it’s a damn travesty”

    She felt her brows creep together in a vague, perplexed frown. She loved an immeasurable amount of things about this man. The list seemed infinite, but the one thing that drew her in whenever he was near more than anything else, was how indefatigable he was. His cool was unerring. She wished she even had a tenth of it to work with in her own personality arsenal. It not only covered him in most situations, it emanated from him like a large, bright spotlight on a dark street or a piercing alarm in a silent room. Not much could shake it loose or even alter it. The rare occasions she’d seen him this stricken she’d been directly to blame and it had frightened her.

    Now he looked frightened… almost. There needed to be something she could do. Some way she could mend things.

    “I don’t understand why you feel so strongly that they don’t belong together. They’re your parents. I know there’s some loaded history. That it feels like bad blood to you but once upon a time, they meant a lot to each other. I believe in second chances – now more than ever. So tell me what you mean. Why don’t they deserve a second chance?”

    He stood on the other side of the dining room table unmoving -- shut down. She couldn’t be sure he’d even heard a word she said. One of his arms wrapped tightly around his chest holding up the other arm, which helped cradle, his head in his hand.

    She was missing something.

    He jerked up at the sound she made as she dragged the chair out from under the table between them and sat down. Slowly she reached across it towards him, her hand down but outstretched, straining for his touch.

    “Tell me. Please.”

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    1. Wow. Lily, you've been on a roll here lately, catching the proverbial lightning in a bottle. Keep going!

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    2. Wow. I want to know what happens next!

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    3. I finally figured it out! I love the flow of your writing and I just realized it's because there is something of John D MacDonald in it. And that's HIGH praise.

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    4. Yep, definitely MacDonald-style... and the show of her real strength against his bravado is well-played indeed.

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    5. Such a tease! Really, it's awesome. It drew me in immediately.

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    6. Thanks all. I have never read MacDonald though I've been considering it since I heard Mosley say at a book chat he was his fave.

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    7. John D MacDonald is one of my heroes.

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  12. It’s no random night of the week; it’s the night that will make or break your weekend, the anchoring time slot of your now-meager social life to which you cling like it’s your last unbroken high E string. You slept in this morning, and probably didn’t have to go to whatever job you’ve sunken into. Maybe you had some shit to do with the family, but your kids are no longer in need of your ass-wiping services. They’re teenagers, or soon to be, and just starting their own Saturday night adventures (God help you).

    You get to whatever bar your friends’ band is playing in. Is it that dumpy pirate-themed joint in Bay Ridge, or that dank, underground coffin with the wet bathrooms on the Bowery? Doesn’t matter. They’re playing and you’re going.

    You walk into the place, equilibrium momentarily out of whack as you begin shedding your Responsible Middle Aged Adult persona for the Real You, who still lurks just beneath skin that’s just starting to lose its elasticity, spreading your tattoos a teensy bit wider than when Huggy Bear, or whomever, first inked you illegally in their basement.

    You find your old friends, and some newish familiar acquaintances that you still can’t believe you didn’t know back in the days when everyone was in a band that could make it all the way to Mtv. No one looks too closely at each other. We know the lines are etched in and the long, glossy manes are now unruly with grays. Fuck it. We’re here, goddammit, and that’s good enough.

    You sink a drink or two, and your feet, hips, and neck muscles pick up the old rhythm of metal that was new to your ears back when St. Reagan was yelling at Mr. Gorbachev about a wall. Somewhere, in some basement closet, you have the original vinyl pressing of this album. But before you stroll yourself all the way down memory lane to remember how many nights you camped out on 86th Street in front of the music store that sold concert tickets, a hand slaps you on the shoulder. It’s Good Ol’ What’s-His-Name and his wife, whose name you never actually heard. Kisses, smiles, handshakes and hugs all around.

    Have a shot with This One, then That One. Slow down, now. Wooden legs aren’t a real thing, you know that now. DWIs are, though. You know that, too. You look around at all the dimmed out faces, mouths wide open, chatter above the Van Halen din. 1984 was their last really good album, you think, but do not bother to say out loud because who has the energy to yell into a half-deaf ear?

    You sort of wonder why you’re there. Why anyone came. And why your friends even bother to keep playing live shows for less than a pittance. And then they take the stage, and you remember what it was all for, what it still is for. How and why you need this crystallizes in the span of one measure of the opening song. You peel your eyes off the stage for a quick glance around you. Heads are bobbing in time. Some eyes are closed, or half-closed, or open wide. And you feel it. That thing you all came out for. Communion. We gather to commune in a language all our own. It can’t be intellectually articulated – to do so would diminish the gravitas, render it meaningless. We’re going to church right now. Bow your heads, kids. We’re forever young and forever bound by faith, hope, and live rock-n-roll.

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    1. Captivating time travel. Totally engrossed from beginning to end.

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    2. Communion is right. Again, another piece that inordinately hits me in the feels, but also an incredibly assured use of second person! Jen, you need to do this more. :)

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    3. Agreed, I like your presentation of the second person a lot. This is such a strong piece. And definitely on. "spreading your tattoos a teensy bit wider than when Huggy Bear, or whomever, first inked you illegally in their basement." Fucking Huggy Bear? I love this

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    4. This is completely true to life. I've been writing this piece in my head while standing in these shitastic clubs with my old friends over the years. Finally wrote it down. Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words. <3

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    5. Yes, Dan. A few of my friends were inked by Huggy Bear back when it was still illegal in NYC. I thought for sure they'd all get hepatitis, lol. I was such a wimp!

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    6. I love it, but mostly the metaphorical language. You captured why I go to live shows, perfectly.

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    7. so awesome... "like it’s your last unbroken high E string" and the last line, brought it all home for me... beautiful.

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    8. Spot on, Jen. Love this so much. Love how it encapsulates the need for live music without trying to explain the unexplainable. :) Love the build-up to it, too--the "you begin shedding your Responsible Middle Aged Adult persona for the Real You, who still lurks just beneath skin" and the wondering why you came and all. Absolute gold. :)

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    9. Wow! Thanks so much you guys. <3

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  13. This is sumptuous. And damn, I want more.

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  14. Before I get to whatever comes next, I just wanted to say thank you, Dan. Today, reading your post about 2 minutes was the closest I've come to being able to wrap my head around Rick passing. It also reminded me that there are so many good things out there, small and large, and being able to post here is one of those good things. Now, time to play...

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  15. Kristen tried not to stare, but she couldn't help herself. She'd joined the police force to make a difference, to change the world, to save people. She hadn't expected that her all-important job that was supposed to make the world a better place, would make her see that world as dark, ugly, scary, and hopeless.

    How could people be so horrible to each other? The thing she tried not to stare at was a pervert who was directing a little freaking kid in a porn movie. Kristen hated undercover work, because more often than not it was crap like this. Invading a slimy, filthy, terrifying criminal empire that she hadn't wanted to know existed, dragging her through the mud, blood, guts, and soulless underbelly of the beast and causing stains on her soul and heart. This job was going to kill everything good inside her.

    The scum called the so-called male lead onto the set and the dickwad stalked towards a terrified eleven-year-old who didn't have to pretend shit. She was legit terrified and shocked. So was Kristen. But she had to wait. Once he got his dirty hands on the girl, just one touch, Kristen could shut this down. The problem was, she couldn't get that second of pure hell back from a girl who never asked for any of this.

    The douchebag director tried the coax the "actors" to follow the "script", which drug the whole thing out and did bad things for the tight leash Kristen clenched with both hands. Finally, finally, the cockbite laid a hand on the girl. Kristen and three other cops posing as crew members pulled guns and informed everyone on the "set" that they should freeze and they were under arrest.

    Kristen, who was supposed to be the girl's "handler" felt something child-like thump against her side before she registered that the girl had her arms around as much of Kristen as she could manage, tears streaming down her cheeks.

    "Thank you, thank you, oh God thank you," the innocent chanted with a wavering voice.

    "Okay," Kristen thought, as she used her free hand to squeeze the little innocent's shoulder, "shit like this makes up for the crap part of the job."

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    1. ohmigod... this is the stuff of nightmares... and you handled it adroitly... my heart is still pumping in anger... thank you for bringing it to a good ending.

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    2. Agreed. Well told. And I am glad there are some people who can do that job. I couldn't. I can control my anger, but not that well.

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    3. This was gold. It makes me look forward to seeing what you do once the Mage tales play out, because you can do anything. Some writers end up in a box, but you have the whole literary world at your fingertips.

      Kinda jealous. :)

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    4. Glad I came back to check, or I'd have missed this. I worked with abused kids and teens for two decades, and this feels authentic, Erin.

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    5. Wow! Gave me lots of feels, Erin. Great stuff!

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  16. I got two minutes. I don't think it's enough. How can I encapsulate everything I dug about a man I knew for several years inside 120 seconds. Two minutes? Fuck...

    But that's kinda right, isn't it? I knew the guy for years, but damn if it didn't feel like two minutes. It felt like that because two minutes is fucking short. Too short. You can't even watch most movie trailers in under two minutes these days.

    And in the grand scheme of things, don't we all only get two minutes? Think of how long the universe has been here. Two minutes ain't shit, but the best of us use that time to affect other people for the good. That was Rich, man. Two minutes of love and kindness and humor and compassion and wit beyond measure. Two minutes of classic TV and velociraptors and trivia the likes none of us know.

    That was Rich in two minutes. That was Rich as I knew him. I hate he didn't get 2:01... 2:02... 2:03... but I'm always gonna remember his two minutes. Because, even if I was only there for a millisecond, man, it was good times.

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    1. This is absolutely perfect. Thank you for sharing it.

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    2. Perfectly stated. Thanks, man.

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    3. It sucks so much not seeing Rich around. I know I'm preaching to the choir, but I still can't believe it.

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  17. ***I actually wrote this on the 12th, and now I'm posting it here a little late.***

    "Dammit, Rich! What did you have to go and do that for?"

    "It's not like I had a choice in the matter," he mumbled.

    "I wasn't quite prepared for you, yet."

    "According to Mort, it was time."

    "Oh, and you listen to just any apprentice soul collector, do you?"

    "I listened to that one, at least."

    Pete sighed heavily, then laid his pen aside. Where he used to maintain a quill, now he had a blue and gold MontBlanc. Rich's writer's mind found the detail interesting.

    "Come on, then," Pete said, sweeping an arm to indicate the lustrous gateway behind him. "I'll walk you through since you aren't on my list for today."

    "Kind of you. You could always send me away." There was a hint of hope in Rich's voice, though he would never admit it.

    "Nope. Can't do that. You're already here."

    "Oh, well in that case, then, is the buffet table already set up?"

    "Champagne and all kinds of cake balls."

    Rich smiled and allowed Pete to lead him in to the party.

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  18. I've been meaning to try this some week but for some reason I've never managed. I'll jump in within a week or two. I did just want to say that your "You Hate Me" book is still one of my favorite indies. I don't think I'll ever think of our departed brother without thinking of you as well. The two of you, along with KS Brooks, inspired me to get off my hind end and resume researching and writing again. Thanks for being there. It's a good thing, this pursuit of ours.

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    1. Thanks, brother. You're always welcome and among friends here.

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