Friday, September 30, 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.

He was a boy unaccustomed to feeling actual feelings and having original thoughts. He went to school, worked with the trainers, tried to avoid his parents with their perpetual scowls. He wondered why they seemed to hate everything so much. 

He wondered if that was what they were training him for. Hate.

Was it some kind of horrible inevitability? Would it come plopping out of him at an inopportune time, red and throbbing, dripping blood juice? Could other people see it - was he branded? Or was there still time to escape the iron?

The boy stopped dead in his tracks and looked into the sun until he could almost make himself believe the tears were from the bright light. He trembled and convinced himself the day must have turned cold. He did not smile because that had been left out of his training. 


#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...

124 comments:

  1. Very dark and chilling, Dan. And so well written, as always.

    Resting-bitch-face is the universal expression...

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    1. Wow Mister Mader...
      This has that quiet-violence thing going on... big time. I really liked it.

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    2. This makes me wonder what you could do with a Distopian theme. I love it, especially the subtle abuse. You do velvet punches very well.

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    3. What everyone else said. Shivery stuff.

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    4. Yep, shivery and sad and spooky...

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    5. Yes, more of this stuff, for sure.

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    6. Ooh, that makes my heart hurt! Powerful and beautifully written.

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    7. Excellent. I love the concept of not knowing what you're being trained for.

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  2. The Cutter noticed her when she came down the stairs, her hand dragging against the cold steel of the handrail. Her steps were erratic; either flurried in groups of thirty or more, or hesitant, each one measured; eked out as though she was counting them against an internal register. It was this as much as anything that drew The Cutter to her. She was dressed so as not to stand out, dun colours and loosely fitted clothing, as shapeless as a shadow skipping down from the upper world.

    She was sweaty and flushed, her clothes containing her heat. Even in the evening’s chill she glowed, flaring when her seams gaped briefly open. The Cutter sensed her life’s blood stirring through her, her face either pallid or rose depending on which of its eyes it used.

    It drew closer.

    The woman looked up, her face strained and her eyes wide. The Cutter loomed large, its hands hidden within its sleeves as it drew them across her torso. One to hold and one to cut, as always, the splaying of one a reassurance to its prey as the other stroked across its surfaces, both gliding and dipping, all her topologies as one to the creature. The first hand clutched tight and then it was done.

    First cutting.

    The woman dropped to her feet, the stranger’s hand lifting her back up again, slack-legged as a marionette. Her heart lurched once… twice… three times, the trauma of the cutting causing the breath to whoosh out from her. The Cutter drew her close again, her body recovering as it recognised the scoring within it was but shallow.

    As shallow as a lover’s kiss.

    The second cutting was more intimate, the blossoming of blood tasted rather than felt. The Cutter cradled her head, drawing its clawed hand along the lines of her tongue, sensing the iron-richness as it welled forth from her but still remained contained. Another cutting followed and then another, its scorings criss-crossing the flesh in her mouth, the blood pooling within in a way that caused pleasure. Only a millimetre each time, the claw like a scalpel, slicing progressively deeper with each new stroke. The woman’s eyes rolled back, her face now relaxed. This prey was almost done.

    Just a few moments more and then it could rest.

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    2. This is as beautiful as it is horrifying. I love the intimacy of the brutalization. Amazing.

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    3. Yeah, excellent immersion, and scary intimacy.

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    4. Antrobus said what I was going to say but better.

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    5. That's chilling, Mark. I love your details.

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    6. Yikes! Were we all focused on sharp things? I'm almost afraid to continue reading! This was scary good!

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  4. You don't know me.  Fuck, I don't know me. It's been so long since I've been me, I hardly know myself.  
    Let me know if you've heard this one...
    "I was born a poor Black Irish child to no parents."
    Doesn’t sound right, does it?  Well I'm here to tell you, it happens.  I'm the product of a backseat ride,
    a '63 Chevy Impala to be precise.  But according to Dad, Mom got around,
    So who knows?  It could've been a '69 Ford Gran Torino.
    I grew up feral as a damn dog that's been dumped down a long dirt road
    That whole mother-child bonding thing? Yeah, didn't happen.
    And you can forget about good ol' dad, he didn't want to be in the family picture.
    See what I did there?  That was a kinda play on words. Phildo went to the Brookes Institute to become a photographer.
    In '76 he took a road trip around the States in a VW Bus.  He drove right past our house.  3 miles away from the freeway.
    He didn't pop in.  I s'pose he didn't want to impose.  Or some shit like that.  
    I was a wild child.  You couldn't keep shoes on me. My Grandpa-in-Texas said I was too smart for my own good.  
    What did he know?  An awful lot actually.   Don't you look down on my Grandpa, I'll kick your ass.
    That man hung the moon and put stars in my sky.  That man was the very best.
    He kept me safe from my mom's erratic anger.  We'd sing in the truck while she was in the store.  "I wonder where your/my mother went, she brushed her teeth with Pepsodent." Secretly I hoped and wished that she'd stay lost.  I told Grandpa that we should probably get more Pepsodent.
    We had the best talks.  I can still see that perfect Summer sky, full of big fluffy white clouds.  They taste like ice cream ya know?  And if you learn how to walk just right, you can march right up there and scoop some up.  I asked Grandpa how and he said it was kinda like Kung Fu. "One day Grasshopper, you too will walk in the sky."  I just about crapped my pants when Star Wars came out! Luke...Sky-Walker?!?  Holy crap! Grandpa was right!   
    I remember this one afternoon, I was in 1st Grade.  We were  running around like little hellions, it was the last recess of the day and that was our longest recess.  I had this whole gang of boys that I ran with.  I can't say we were always good little boys.  Call me Attila Jr.  Those boys would do ANYTHING I told them to....and honest, I tried not to abuse that.  But...boys will be boys.  We were rolling one of the tires up and down the big hill.
    Did you forget the POOR Black Irish part?  The "Most Wanted" toys on the playground were those damn painted tires.  My mom of course, forbid me to play with them.  Those left horrible black marks on your school-clothes!  I of course, completely ignored her orders and played with the friggin tires!   Are you crazy?   Those things were almost as much fun as riding a Tonka dump truck down the paved hill, screaming EVIIIIIIIIIILLLLL KKKNNIEEEVEEELLLLLL as you went barreling down towards the see-saws...the metal see-saws...  
    We were pushing that tire up and then racing down the hill after it.  I looked up, and there's my dang mom!
    Crap.  Busted!  ....But she looked weird...she was crying.  I had never seen her cry.  Ever.   
    She said my Grandpa went to live in the Sky.  I didn't understand stand why he hadn't taken me? "But he never taught me how to walk in the clouds!"
    On most days I wish he woulda...
    ...but I got tough real quick.  I learned when to fight it, when to fake it, and when you had to take it.  
    And sometimes you have to take it. Some monsters will try to wear you down, some will kick the shit out of you..and some?  Some will slay you with a smile. It isn't always pretty but hey, it keeps breathing, right?


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    1. This is great. The tangents are perfectly inserted and the overall story is as funny as it is heartbreaking.

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    2. it cut my smile off! Thanks Erin :D

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    3. You're a great storyteller and pulled me in.

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    4. I concur. I love this. This especially: "See what I did there? That was a kinda play on words."

      And Evel. ;)

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    5. Thank you so much! It's one of the louder voices in my head.
      Sometimes I let it to play. :D
      This is a lot of fun Mister Mader :)

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    6. I felt like I was a kid again... this is really awesome!

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  6. I hadn't expected to meet death that day. He didn't make an appointment, and showed up at the worst possible time. I have to admit he wasn't what I'd expected. He was funny. Funny looking, and funny, ha ha.

    The bleached skull and scythe weren't a surprise, because we all hear about those things, but he had on a Hawaiian shirt and blue jeans, and for the love of God he was wearing crocks. Death showed up at my office in lime green crocks. Then he had the nerve to ask if I was ready and called it "the greatest adventure."

    I told him I'd rather go to Disneyland with my grand kids. He laughed and told me I didn't have a choice.

    "Then why act like I do, man?" I grumbled, annoyed by his timing and his rhetorical questions. I was most annoyed by his chipper disposition. "You know, I get the feeling that you aren't very good at this. Has anyone talked to your superiors about sensitivity training?"

    Death laughed for a long time before he turned serious eye-sockets to me.

    "You silly mortals just don't get it," he said in a voice to match his look. "I don't care how you feel about me doing my job. I just have to find a way to love that job. You are one of many. I will visit so many people today that I wouldn't be able to pick any of you out of a lineup. Trust me. That shit has happened before. Few of you are happy to see me, most of you are angry at me, and I will never every get to change jobs or get promoted. This is my life."

    That was a sobering thought. I felt a fleeting burst of pity for Death that made me shift in my seat. "But I don't want to die, " I said, shifting my focus back on what it should be on, me. "I don't want some stranger judging me."

    "Funny, that almost always comes up," Death said. He didn't have eyes, so I don't know how he rolled them, but he did. "If you were so concerned, why not act in a way that would cause someone to judge you favorably? Just sayin'. Regardless, it's time to go. I'm on a schedule, just like everyone else."

    "I have a report due in a few hours," I said. "I can't go with you right now. I can't even go with you today. My boss needs this."

    "It'll get done without you," Death said, ushering my soul out of my body. "Trust me. Right this way, sir. Mind your head."

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    1. Great stuff. I really have to go you reading Terry Pratchett, though. His Death and yours have a lot in common. :D

      The last two paragraphs are pure gold.

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    2. Of course, in a Hawaiian shirt!! Loved it. The cadence of the writing too.

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    3. Something about Death saying "just sayin'" made me laugh out loud for real. Good stuff.

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    4. That outfit! This is a dope piece.

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    5. David pegged that for me. Death saying "just sayin" made me giggle. So did the Crocs. Really liked this.

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    6. You had me giggling with Death's groovy get-up. Fun piece!

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    7. I've always felt sorry for Death... a thankless job for sure... and this made it feel all the more real! and "Mind your head" is perfect!

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  7. Samhraidhreadh. Summer’s end.

    Could there be anything more glorious?

    At her home away from home in a small Louisiana town not too far from the Gulf of Mexico, the temperatures were still a bit too warm during the day, falling to just about perfect at night. Droves of dragonflies danced everywhere, and migratory birds began to visit on their way to southern climes.

    Back home, there would be festivals, grand gatherings full of dancing and food and wine. They would take place in all the major cities, and most medium and small towns as well. The changing of the seasons was important. Six full months of the Unseelie being in power was definitely something to celebrate.

    This year, she didn’t feel much like celebrating. She should. She knew she should. But if she could, she’d happily stay in Louisiana, chasing dragonflies and eating vanilla cupcakes. Joanne Donoghue made the best cupcakes, and she always had some ready for her favorite visitor, along with the warmest hugs.

    But she’d be expected at the grand festival in Metheven, more so this year than ever before. After all, she was Queen of Unseelie now. It was her rise in power they were celebrating. It was her first winter since her mother’s passing, and everyone waited to watch her sink or soar.

    Cupcakes and mourning would have to wait.


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    2. She passed up vanilla cupcakes! Wow, I loved it.

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    3. All of it's good but I especially love the last line.

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    4. Ditto. Love it. "chasing dragonflies and eating vanilla cupcakes" Yes!

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    5. Yes! That last line. Cupcakes and mourning. Nice juxtaposition.

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    6. Yes, all of the above. Lovely!

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    7. Yep, that last line brought it home... but I woulda stolen ONE of the vanilla cupcakes if I could!

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  8. “Set me free,” she said ripping the needle from her arm.” I’m not who you think I am, she screamed, pulling on a yellowed white sleeveless top over a black lace bra. “Damn it to hell—can someone turn off the cuckoo clock?”
    “I don’t know how to stop the stupid clock. Can you relax?”
    He listened to her shriek for a while and noticed blood dripping down her arm. She kept shouting, “No, no, no. Nobody knows me. I’m free from all of you. I quit all of you. I’m gone with the wind.” Slowly, he went to her with a roll of paper towels. “Here, can I wipe your arm off?”
    “No, leave me alone.” She licked the blood, smiling because some of it smeared on her face. “You’re all monsters. Every one of you is a monster out for my blood.”
    He thought she looked pathetic and had to laugh. “You’re the one drinking blood,” he replied, setting down the towels and watching her curl into a ball on the old couch. It was his first time with a hooker and though it could be argued that girls who worked without pimps weren’t actually prostitutes, he knew she was a frat house perk that had been negotiated somewhere along the line. He thought she seemed fun in the beginning, even cute, thought not in any sisterly type of way. She was a party girl ready to party and he had finals. His future mapped out by people who once cared and this girl another loss in a world that didn’t give a shit.
    “I’m taking a nap now. Leave me alone.” A small wooden bird popped out of the clock announcing another hour had begun. She grumbled some profanities, and then turned to face the back of the seat, promptly falling asleep.

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    1. Agree with Erin. There's an undertone of quiet menace, somehow. Blood and cuckoo clocks.

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    2. I agree! It has a really cool feel to it.

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    3. Blood and cuckoo clocks are both scary in their own right... the way you brought them together amplified it! well done!

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  9. It isn't the first time I've listened to the ranting of a dying man. I've heard rage. I've heard regret. I've heard terror. I have to say, this time feels like something different.

    A neon urban orange sodium night, tailing off into indigo then black. Like a deep sea coral reef right before the squid attack.

    Back then, when I told her the big ferry was in town she thought I'd said the big fairy was in town. And she laughed. I laughed too, but I meant the ferry. Someone said there were orcas in the water as it drifted into dock. White and kinda white and black, and rounded, like weird soap. I wanted, still want, to believe in them.

    A clownish man approached me and began to punch me hard in the face, over and over, and I staggered back behind my own face, blood like a full-on tap. For some reason I remembered the carved Sasquatch sculpture on your left as you enter the town of Harrison, a hirsute giant ready to hurl a rock. And I wanted to inhabit that thing, feel it come alive, wear its flyblown skin and fur and deep wood stench, and tear my assailant's face into dripping ribbons.

    Yet the silent empty ferry. Monolithic. Strange. I tried to ignore your homophobia, but the ferry had docked.

    Dissociative dreams of how we are. Castoffs and cormorants and catatonia. Analog orcas and burned corneas.

    What is this? You shrug. This might not even be happening.

    Will you come with me to buy a breakfast, a bagel, with lox, with cream cheese, with capers? Prettiest damn server ever. Engineered. Abutted hips and cantilever eyebrows. A living boast. You, hypervigilant. Let her fill your cup, one eye on the clock, with the darkest of roasts.

    "More coffee?"

    "Yeah."

    "New in town?"

    "How'd you tell?"

    "Your pointless fucking tears."

    Get help. Sympathy? Dying is now only one tendril. Pain is pain is pain. Is pain. We can bury it and exhume its dry crust, its sticklike legs, its sheer wings, all desiccated. A dusty attic of mostly nothing.

    Dreary gossamer. Benadryl. Wormwood. Go deep into the green. Drive for eight hours and park beside a wild creek, step out, listen to the waters, the breeze stirring the tops of the conifers, the ravens collaring their own echoes, the complete absorption of our tale, our blunted, airless psychodrama.

    Back in the ambulance, the man snags my gaze. I don't want him to. He speaks in some other tongue, gags like an accidental witness to history, offers his throat to some alien wolf, spits poisoned absinthe at our door.

    "I came back with a skin yet more dark. You still didn't get it. Last time you drove nails through my wrists and suspended me on two great pieces of wood. It took me hours, days, to die. In unspeakable pain. I believed my own tale and thought that would end it. Not true. Centuries earlier and later, millennia, even, I've continued to return. My skin has been brown, olive, tawny, like tea, like coffee, like cola. None of which matters. Here I am, dark as a walnut and dying in the back of this medical wagon. Why is that? Well, new and in love with this bright world, I smiled and said hello to a white man dressed in blue. He told me to back away and hold my hands in the air, which I did. But he saw something in my hand that frightened him. A leather-bound book. Just a story, another tale. Panicked, he sent his hot zygotes of death my way and now, instead of air, pink foam bubbles from my chest and my head grows light and lost, like melting taffy, and I don't know what more I can do … Will you hear me, my ambulance girl? Pass this on? This hurts, but you are a good woman. Attentive. My sweat is like wishful sacs filled with acid, or hope. You are nobody. But neither was Mary or Judas or Peter. I'm only one of many, and yet you listened to none. If I come back at all, should I come as a rat, a gator, or a whore? A tumour or a field of stalks? Will you even notice? To tell you the god's honest truth, you haven't yet."

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    1. Oh. My heart. Wow. This hits like a punch in the chest.

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    2. Holy shit this is good. "Your pointless fucking tears." "Dissociative dreams of how we are. Castoffs and cormorants and catatonia. Analog orcas and burned corneas." Damn, man. The things you do with words. Always, you amaze me, but this is pure fucking fire.

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    3. Wow. All the senses, the feels. Damn, you're good.

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    4. I love those moments when the words pour out! I can't claim ownership. They just come out, often in socially embarrassing contexts, lol.

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    5. Whoosh!I mean, you had me at the soap.But the end? Awesome!

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    6. I'm in awe.... and you MUST channel this muse with reverence... "neon urban orange" is one of the clearest and coolest sets of adjectives in my week... the story is awesome.

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  10. Hers was not an intrinsic evil, but one carefully crafted. Carefully tended by a father who pulled the wings from butterflies, then nurtured by a mother who taught her that ugly was a sin. By the time she was sixteen, she knew how to manipulate the boys and girls around her.

    She chose her victims carelessly at first, like a spider who is grateful for whatever gets caught in its web, but she grew more discerning as she grew older, dos covering she liked the ones that squirmed longest and screamed loudest.

    When at last she turned twenty-one, she entered a bar, a sleazy hole in the wall, a sort of rock under which all sorts of slimy things hide. She'd dyed her hair for this occasion, platinum blonde. Makeup applied, drag-queen perfect, lashes a half inch long, and with a touch of glitter. She played the part of harlot, and found the perfect victim in less than fifteen minutes. Rather, he let him find her.

    She'd practiced running her tongue along her upper lip in front of a mirror the night before. Now, he looked at her and the move drew him in.

    He had innocent eyes, behind hipster glasses. He belonged in this bar as much as she, which was to say not at all. Each of them was there for a reason, each had a role to play, but the drunks around them were a Greek chorus. For one of them, the play was a comedy, for the other, a tragedy.

    He moved slowly toward her. In his head all manner of love songs were playing. In hers, the soundtrack to Psycho. When at last he reached her, he opened his mouth to say something predictable, and she placed a carefully manicured finger on his lip, to keep him in silence, to keep the perfect mood. Her other hand traced a line from his buttoned down collar to his left nipple.

    Curious, she thought, how men were so ignorant of the parts of their bodies, parts that might bring them pleasure. She wondered whether it was evolution or vanity that made them focus only on the little tube they carried beneath their waists.

    She took his hand and led him to the door with the allure of her furtive glances. In the parking lot, she reached into her purse, checking for her toys. The handcuffs felt cool against her slender fingers. The lipstick felt erotic. And at last she touched the exacto knife. If she were careful, maybe she could make this one last a week before he bled to death, one tiny cut at a time.

    She smiled at him again.

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    1. Everyone going dark this week! Again, I love the languid menace of this.

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    2. This is really cool Leland. Wickedly cool. :D

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    3. Yes! This is brilliant. Drag queen perfect indeed.

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    4. Must be October, things are getting spookier and spookier...

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    5. Wow, what an amazing set-up. Bravo!

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  11. I know a man, we call each other Friend, who also calls himself Hermit. In truth, he does live almost alone, save for his dogs and the glowing, dusty, snowy, piercing beauty of his mountains.

    He is content there in the wide open, greeting the sun each day, inviting it in and sharing it through his third eye.

    I know a man who some call Hermit, who resides in the suburbs, so close to the whirrings of highway and flyway that they'd awaken him, if he would listen. But he doesn't even hear.

    This one hides in the cut of stone behind his eyes and burrows within the shadowy side of his heart. He throws rocks when you try to get close, and struggles to bring himself out of the dark to perceive the dawn in life shining on all the good——people, accomplishments, memories, joy——that surround him like those mountains that embrace the friend he never met, the one who calls himself Hermit, who loves the world and it loves him back.

    Perhaps, one day, the second one might emerge to embrace your bright love, but first he must learn to love himself.

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    1. Thank you kindly and happy birthday, mate.

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    2. Oh I like this one! Well told. :)

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    3. Wow, indeed. Joe, I love the way you write. I say that a lot, but I mean it every time.

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    4. Like the dark meets light. I see some hope. Very cool.

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    5. Wow... this touches my heart...and I hope he does learn to love himself... because then he can see that others love him.

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    6. Love this. Makes me think of how we are here in NYC, each a hermit behind our no-eye-contact existence. Especially this: "This one hides in the cut of stone behind his eyes and burrows within the shadowy side of his heart."

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  12. He tried to remember a time before. When the Golden Rule still applied. Before everybody lied.
    He glances up from the numbers, dancing across the computer screen, sees in his mind a bright fall afternoon; the leaves changing in soft, syrupy, hazy autumn light.
    Try to remember the kind of September. The kindness, the care. Holding hands with a lover as leaves crunched underfoot. He tried to summon something like happiness and the notion that the world was right. But the numbers twitched their wicked merengue; the screen flickered once and made him flinch.
    An auditor breathed hot breath in his ear. “Is there a problem, Flaherty? Time is money, you know.”
    Time is money and money is honey. You close out the books and book the charges. Sign up fees and late fees, too, over the limit and raise their rate. Make the quota, hit the mark. It’s not just commerce, it’s an art.
    One for you and three for me. Thanks for your business, come back again. Like they say in Vegas, the house always wins.
    “Flaherty’s our best new hire. He’s got the potential, that’s for sure.” The other interns scowled at their shoes and the auditor’s voice whispered clear. “I see that, I definitely see that.”
    Flaherty thought of Jaime’s face; the strawberry blond lashes that blinked when he’d told her he didn’t like the job. “ But what about US? What about our wedding?”
    He’d raised his hands helplessly. “I just don’t know. I don’t how to feel about it. I’m 23 years old! And banking, for God’s sake. I see how poor they are. They bring in these checks to be cashed. Old people. And the checks are frauds, okay? And I can’t even help them. And we promise them—a second chance. Half of ‘em are living on their overdraft protection and paying their principle just for that. And I can’t even tell them they’re being screwed. Jesus Christ, I don’t feel like a banker—I feel like a thief.”
    She turned to him. “So what? Money’s just a tool, dimwit. If they’re too dumb to read the fine print, what’s it to you? What about your life? OUR life?”
    “ Jesus, you don’t understand. It doesn’t NEED to be this way.”
    “Don’t talk Jesus to me, Jimmie Flaherty. You got a damn good job with a future. A future, DO YOU HEAR?”
    He heard. “We have all become criminals…” he murmured, not expecting anyone to listen.
    But the auditor clapped him heartily on the shoulder.
    “Don’t think about it too hard, Son. What did you expect? They crucified your Jesus, and a coupla small timers too. But the big time criminal, Barrabas was the one they set free. That’s just the Bible, boy. You either pay or you play. I figure a little skim from this one or that one pretty much goes with the territory. It’s us or them, kid. Always has been. The Bible wrote it first.”
    Jimmie turned around and stared at him, searching eyes the color of thin ice and the bloated, self-satisfied faced of complacency, Then he carefully removed the chain link necklace and ID badge that wound around his heart, proclaiming him “bonded, insured and vault certified.”
    “Fuck you,” he said. And yanking off his necktie, walked back into his future, as yet, unknown.

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    1. Oh man--shades of a modern Dickenson. LOVED this.

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    2. I meant Dickens--my autocorrect is on crack.

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    3. And I loved the references to musicals It's awesome. Try to remember... now that song is stuck in my head!

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  13. Give us your tired, your poor - they're so easy to exploit, please send some more. Give us immigrants who will support a corrupt infrastructure and still let us shit on them. Do the jobs we don't want to do. There are more than a few.

    Give us your vicious, your corrupt, those yearning to break free from the shackles that bind them - trade them in for a new kind of slavery. Give us your dreams so we can crush them. Give us your loves, so we can rush them. Just fucking give, 'cause we like taking. Smile faking.

    Oh yeah. Welcome to America. Land of greed, home of the unmarked grave.

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    1. Scathing! You do that so well, you should give lessons. ;-)

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    2. There's nothing like a talented writer to hold a mirror up to society... well done.

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  14. Bobby, don't sit like that or people will think you're a slacker. Pull your pants up. Smile. Brush your teeth and wash your hands long enough to sing happy birthday twice. Bobby, don't tell people the truth, you want them to think you're nice.

    Bobby, get dunk on Everclear and crash your car. Show everyone who you've become. So far.

    Bobby, we didn't mean for it to end up like this. A jail is no place for a man. Stale air choking the life out of you. Bobby, why didn't you just sit up straight? Why didn't you sing the fucking song in your head while you washed your hands? Bobby, why do you still wet the bed?

    Was it something that we said?

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    1. This could be a country-western song!

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    2. Another indictment of society's requirement for duplicity... you're scathing and brilliant.

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  15. The sunlight is a curse and a blessing. Fries dipped in salad dressing. It burns, but it feels so good. Just like you knew it would. Could you lend me a hand? I promise to return it. Scarred and twisted, but you'll get it back.

    The birds sing, but you don't listen. What the fuck is wrong with you? Take those earbuds out, bud. You're like a fucking junkie drowning in a bathtub. The water will turn pink, that's the razor's legacy. There was never enough room for you and me.

    Feel the goddamn dirt between your toes. Stop, stoop, life's a different shade - a rose. It's so pretty, but so full of spite. Prick your finger? I think you might. Spike a vein? Are you insane?

    You're existence, and I'm the bane.

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    1. razor sharp. Wish I could do so much in so few words...

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    2. what you do with rhyme, without losing meaning... fucking enhancing the meaning... I stand in awe.

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  16. You’ve tried everything. The pills, the chanting, the download-for-half-price-right-now self-help lectures that are supposed to teach you to love yourself and your body, deeply and completely and without judgment. You’ve repeated the affirmations that you don’t need to self-medicate your feelings with a box of Oreos or a jar of coconut-pecan cake frosting and a spoon. But here you are again, another week gone by, another crumpled five in your purse ready to tango. You walk the aisles, telling yourself that because you are carefully considering what that five will buy, weighing how horrible you will feel from eating a sleeve of peanut butter cups versus a sack of trail mix, that makes it better, somehow. Or at least you’ve given yourself the chance to change your mind, even though you know you won’t. Even though you know that you’ll eventually make your choice, wait for a few of the customers to leave, then sidle up to the skinny, lipsticked twenty-something at the cash register and say, “Yes, I’d like a bag, please,” as if you’re not going to eat it all in the car on the way home, as if she doesn’t know that, too. It’s not fair, really. It’s like a secret shame you’ve asked her to carry, without actually asking.

    You feel compelled to add, “Oh, that’s for my husband, he can’t stop eating that junk,” and she nods and makes that old, tired noise with her tongue, as if she or maybe an older sister has one like that at home. And maybe she’s not as thin as you first thought, and maybe there’s a bit of a vacant look in her eyes, as if she’s counting the minutes until she can clock out. You wonder if she’d rather be a million other places than behind the register of a convenience store, what her life is like outside of this place. And if she too trolls the aisles, buys a random whatever with her paltry employee discount and is surprised to find the container empty when she’s finished her commute.

    Something thick lodges in your throat, and as she’s handing back your change with a watery smile, your voice is barely above a whisper. “It’s for me.”

    And then she nods, the smile withering, and says, “I hope you have a better day, hon.”

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    1. This is a writer's story. It's a brilliant story, and it's a celebration of the bizarre fascination we have with the complexities of human things. You crushed this one, Boris.

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    2. It's like you took me and slipped me under the character's skin and made me feel her all. Damn brilliant, you.

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    3. My turn to ditto. What Dan and Jen said, to the max! :)

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    4. Perfectly done and perfectly balanced.The juxtaposition of "what's good for you" vs the stark emotional need for "comfort food."

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    5. Loved this and can relate. Did you say coconut pecan? Yum.

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    6. What everyone else said, and the confession in the second-to-last paragraph... well written, well delivered.

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  17. It was interesting, to say the least, getting to know Mister Gibson personally, the longer Jacob worked for him. Jacob knew he was, by local standards, an OG: a seasoned veteran of the local underground, who clawed his way out of the gutter through a mix of dumb luck, Machiavellian business savvy, and ruthless but metered aggression. From the jump, Jacob critically noted Gibson’s speech and behavior: he was not as homophobic as expected, gamely hosting LGBT nights at his club and brushing it off by saying, “faggots buy just as many drinks as straight folks, why not throw ‘em a bone?”

    More troubling was his overt racial prejudice: Jacob warned the few white people he knew and liked not to deal with Gibson, unless they were prepared to be ripped off. And even more troubling was his casual, overt misogyny: Jacob never seemed to hear him talk about women as if they were human beings, only as hoes and bitches. His nightclub was a fairly successful legitimate, if notoriously seedy, business, but it’s main purpose was laundering illegally-earned moneys: his biggest racket was as a drug wholesaler, overseeing the buying of large quantities of popular street drugs from smugglers, pharmacy robbers, and illicit chemists, and selling them to the smaller-time dealers who then sold them to consumers. But he had his fingers in a few other pies as well, including “managing” a modest stable of low to mid-priced prostitutes: he routinely told Jacob things like “on one hand, pussy is pussy, and I gotta throw the plain bitches a bone once in a while so they don’t feel left out. On the other, why have a nine when I can have a ten?” The advice he dispensed did often make sense, but Jacob didn’t want to treat the women in his life that way. He once had a mother, still had a sister and platonic female friends. He still didn’t have a girlfriend, hadn’t been laid since he left Chicago, but suspected that Cheryl chick wanted to fuck; he was generally too preoccupied to chase skirts, but she could totally get it, if she made a move on him. He only stewed in silent resentment, when Gibson caught an eyeful of Luanne and offhandedly said some shit like, “Oooowee, that young tender got some spirit in her. Might take a minute to break her, but after that, she’d make me some monayyyyy!"

    Jacob keenly awaited the day, when he could safely respond to such commentary by snapping, “nigga don’t talk about my sister like that. The fuck is wrong with you? You think I won’t snuff you, old man? Besides, she got a man. He and I will BOTH mash you if you don’t watch your fuckin’ mouth.”

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    1. Fearless look at decidedly "incorrect" characters.Good for you!

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    2. Monayy!! Made me hear his disgusting tone. Clever.

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  18. It’s the smell of fried zeppole that greets you first; it reaches out from the stand on Mulberry and smacks you in the face like Mama’s wooden spoon as you round the corner of Canal Street. It’s that perfect mid-seventies, low-humidity kind of night, the kind that makes you forget it’s Wednesday. It’s a feast, and even though it’s the same damn streets, the same damn vendors, and the same old greasy sausage and pepper heroes, your nine millionth feast feels just like your first one. You don’t quite remember that, of course. You were too little. But you do remember some crazy lady hanging her naked top half out a second story window, pendulous mams flapping with her shimmy-shaking glee. You remember the ugly early American chandelier your parents bought for no good reason. They do things like that, like the time they went on vacation and bought a house a thousand miles away from home. Must have been some vacation. Mama makes zeppole at home, though not Festa-caliber. It’s the oil. You’ve got to reuse it a hundred times, and don’t drain it all away on half a roll of Bounty. That shit’s gotta ooze down your chin, while the powdered sugar coats your lips and fingertips with every delicious, steaming bite. “Here. Wipe ya chin. Ya look a fa schifo.” Mama hands you a used tissue from her sleeve, and gives you a dirty look when you don’t want to take it. It’s the same as when you were a kid, the sights, sounds, smells, and Mama. Never mind you’re toting your own kid this year. “Mama, she’s got no teeth,” you dare, as Mama tries to stuff a mini-cannoli through your infant’s pursed, tiny lips. “A’right, it’s just the cream. Calm ya nerves.” You turn away to roll your eyes. She smacks your arm anyway. It doesn’t hurt (you’ve got a callus there since birth), and yet it still stings, because she’s Mama, and she’ll always dent you a little bit with her love.

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    1. Oh, I love this. The tissue in the sleeve. Mama's wooden spoon. "That shit's gotta ooze down your chin..." What great sensory detail. I can almost smell it.

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    2. Oh em gee. I am in awe of this. So full of everything that it hurts while it makes me laugh. Your writing is becoming celebratory, no matter the topic. The fucking human condition.

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    3. Oh God, you make me miss New York!I love this so much!

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    5. It's like you've compressed a whole city into a short story, with no loss of the sensory overload... beautiful!

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    6. I hate being the ditto guy but they took my answer! Love it! :)

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