Friday, September 9, 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.

You're so sweet it makes my teeth hurt, and it's artificial sweetener - shit's probably giving me cancer. I'd rather have a buck-toothed-wine-drunk smile at me than look at that fake, white bullshit you show off every chance you get. I know that smile - daggers, probes, death blows. And the rest of it. All lining that lying face around the clean, white smile. 

I'm tired of the smell of vanilla. Makes me feel like I'm in middle school. Or a strip club. Step your game up, or down. Real people smell alright, you know? You don't have to smell like Bed, Bath & Beyond to make friends. You'd do a lot better trying to have a genuine personality and some common goddamn sense.

You stand big, but you're so very small. The urge to squash you is strong, but then you'd win because you could bust out the martyr grin, your favorite. So, I bite my tongue and taste the blood, but I don't care. You're a giant fucking billboard, and I got more than enough blood to spare.

#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. Just one more before I hit the road. It's a refrain that barrels through your subconscious like a freight train. It's a lie, and you know it, but you've convinced yourself it's some kind of inside joke. Only no one thinks it's funny. Not even you.

    Do what you gotta do. I'm not here to judge you. I will judge you. But that's not why I'm here.

    Not so long ago, I would have been here playing my own inside jokes, but right now I just want a club sandwich. I don't want to watch you lie to yourself. It hurts. I want to hold you. Strong-armed. Man, it will be OK. Or it won't.

    But you gotta try. For the sake of my sandwich if nothing else.

    1. "For the sake of my sandwich" is awesome... an excellent title for a book or a chain of restaurants... with hostesses who all smell like vanilla and have ultrabright teeth....

    2. I bow down to Leland's assessment.
      That line is awesome.

    3. Better be a great sandwich! Lol Makes me wonder what's next and what if the bacon is overdone.

    4. The whole sandwich image. Two sides of the same coin. Spot on!

    5. On the first piece. Damn. Just damn. Damn = good. Second piece, Leland as usual is right. I'd buy a book called For the sake of my Sandwich.

    6. I genuinely don't like vanilla. "I don't want to watch you lie to yourself." A short, simple line with a world behind it.

    7. What they all said. I love coming back here all the time and seeing you creating new magic.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. rats, my paste didn't bring the last line... deleting and reposting.

    2. Did you eat the paste again? ;)

  3. The anger burned deep and small within him. If you met him, you had no idea it was there at all.

    "He's such a nice man."

    "Always keeps his yard so nice."

    "Waves at me every morning."

    All of his neighbors said so, to the reporters who showed up the day after.

    The reporters with perfect teeth hadn't figured out what to call “it” yet, but the chubby bloggers who lived in their parents' basements were calling him The Magician. One wanted to call him Robin Hood, but a few thousand of her followers pointed out that he didn't steal from the rich and give to the poor. In fact, he didn't steal from the rich at all. He simply made their wealth go away, digital bit by bit.

    Even the law enforcement people and regulators had no idea what crime he could be charged with. The money, and all record of it, just melted into nothingness.
    The funny thing was, he didn't even own a computer. Said he never trusted the things. No, he did it some other way, but left his name and address in the place of all the missing lines in the digital ledgers.

    The cameras caught only a few seconds of him being handcuffed and pushed into a police car. He was smiling, but not maniacally so. He nodded, and tried to wave, but the cuffs made that awkward. His last word to the cameramen were, "Have a nice day." He called the men and women In uniform "sir" and "ma'am" even as they interrogated him.

    "How did you do it?"

    And he kept answering the same way, "I didn't do it."

    It was only a week later, when his priest asked him the same question that he varied his answer. "I prayed to God for fairness, for equity."

    And when his priest, whose vow of poverty had taken on new meaning, reported this to the police, they laughed at him, but when they went to check on the man that evening in his cell, they found a message, written in blood, but no sign of the man himself.

    The message? "I also prayed for freedom."

    It was a few thousand years before he came to save them yet again. He used the time to learn to make burritos. Even gods need marketable skills.

    1. I really like this one! "Burritos" is priceless.

    2. That's creative and funny too.Leland, You're the magician!

    3. Anonymous would likely all turn over a new religious leaf if He ever decided to join them.

    4. This was just awesome to read Leland.

    5. Yeah, this took two or three turns I never anticipated. Love it!

    6. This is just beyond awesome, Leland. Marketable skills, indeed.

  4. You take a deep breath before you pull open the door to his hospital room. You fake a smile. And you hear his little boy voice as the door opens.

    "Daddy! Where have you been! Tell me a story!"

    "I'm sorry I'm late. Traffic was terrible."

    His eyes look at you as you speak.

    "A story? I think I can do that. What kind of story would you like?"

    "The one with the girl and the wolf..."

    "Little Red Riding Hood?"

    "Yes! That one!"

    And so you tell him the tale you heard so often when you were a boy, the girl, the wolf, the grandma. His eyelids grow heavier with each word that leaves your mouth, and by the time you get to "what big teeth you have," he is snoring.

    You kiss him on the top of his head. You press the sheets next to him and fold his gnarled hands on his chest, and you whisper, "I love you Papa."

    1. I didn't catch the ending the first time through...that breaks my heart. A heartbreaking twist for sure.

    2. Jesus. This is lovely and sad, Leland. My heart hurts. You write with such tenderness. Makes me feel like my fingers are made of sledgehammers.

    3. Thanks... and your fingers are so not sledgehammers, unless they need to be. Hannigan would be proud of ya.

    4. This is exceptionally poignant.

    5. Wow. My heart actually hurt at that ending.

    6. This is one of the most heartrendingly beautiful things I've ever read.

    7. I'm honored by your kind words. Dementia, whether due to Alzheimer's or other conditions, is one of the most heartbreaking things in the world, but sometimes it has beauty, too.

  5. This one kept on going, so I won't overstay my welcome. I'll post the rest on my blog later, but here's the first part.

    She was instructed to go in there, to slip behind the curtain and give comfort, since the time for medicine had passed.

    "Hold his hand," the matron had urged. "Let him talk. He's an officer, so listen to him. But show no distress."

    The sounds—the moans and clacking of heels on tile—seemed to recede as she parted the curtain and entered the partitioned space. Where everything reduced to the leaking devastation of the man's skull. Her urge to weep was immediate and vast, but she kept those tears for the sleepless nights ahead.

    How is he even alive? she thought, and she took his cool, rough hands in hers. She marvelled at the sheer human will, or perhaps at the dogged obstinacy of habit.

    He was guttering like a votive in some drafty corner of an abandoned church. A flickering torch in a dimming cave.

    "When I climbed the hill," he said, fixing her with one eye while the other seemed to look past her, at something awful, "I found the pure white sheets flapping against the brightness of the bluest skies. They were so clean, so fresh, I wanted to cry, but of course I didn't. I thought I might find the women who had hung them there and perhaps marry one if she were so inclined, and had there been time, but all I saw were shadowy lost things drifting between those vast invigorating sails that flapped and billowed like the lungs of God.

    "But now it's me who's lost. I tried to follow my mother into the building, but the doors were locked, and when I cleared the dust and grease from a window pane a great dog with a bone-and-gristle head leapt up and frightened me away."

    His one good eye kept wandering, as if searching slyly for an exit, only to return and fix on her again, guiltily. The light in the other appeared to have drained entirely away. She made a great effort to quiet the tremors she felt just beneath her skin. She held his cool dry hands, half as large again as hers, and forced a smile.

    "Did you see my mommy?" he asked, leaning slightly forward.

    "No. I didn't see her. I'm sorry."

    "Oh." He let the pillows stacked behind his upper torso receive his weight again.

    She knew she lacked the words for something like this, so she let them drip unspoken from the ceiling of her mind, form something mineral-hard over eons.

    He smiled and something shifted in his head—audibly—and his smile turned briefly to woe.

    "I have a feeling my head is such a terrible mess." He whispered this, as if ashamed, as if his presence was an unconscionable cruelty to the attentive young nurse forced to bear witness.

    "Perhaps try to recall a quiet time from your home."

    "Once, Dorothy and I had an appalling fight and somewhere in Nova Scotia, by the spiteful ocean, I wandered. I found an old chapel. Tiny, it was. And empty, but for a small bent woman hunched over an old pump organ. It was bright in there; all the walls between the icons and crosses were a pleasant summer white and all the wood—frames, trinkets, crosses, pews—was pine blond. I could see the woman was blonde, too, although she wore a loose shawl. The music she played felt incomplete, as if quoting shorter phrases from a longer work. I liked it up to a point, but I could hear the ellipses, the gaps, and I ached to hear the full piece..."

    1. Breathtakingly and devastatingly beautiful... I look forward to reading the rest!

    2. Me too. I didn't want that to end.

    3. So touching and evocative with wonderful phrases...'lungs of God' being my favorite.

    4. I don't ever want anything you write to end, D. Jesus, this is so good. Can't wait to read the rest. There are so many lines I highlighted, but I'm settling on this FTW: "She knew she lacked the words for something like this, so she let them drip unspoken from the ceiling of her mind, form something mineral-hard over eons"

    5. Linda like The english Patient on steroids! Bravo. And I am SO stealing "Like the lungs of God." You won't know where or when, but damn!

    6. I agree. It drew me in. He ached to hear the full piece of music, but I get the sense that she'll feel the same about him and his story.

    7. You people are awesome, as always, and Dan wins the prize for isolating the part that gives this piece its title. Not sure what the prize is. A bowl of tears and tofu? But here is the full piece on my blog.

    8. Ahh David, like JD I'm having a difficult time picking one line from this to draw attention to. You are so gifted.

    9. You have a true gift for evocation, for calling forth not only emotion but the fine details that drag a person right into a story. Felt like I was in the middle of this, and like I didn't want to be, and like I had no right to not want to be.

    10. I can only repeat: you all are awesome. Thanks for helping to bring me out of a low ebb today.

  6. You change the first time you kill a man. Even in war.

    You hold the rifle that you've fired thousands of times, cleaned hundreds of times. A cold piece of metal you've slept with since it came into your possession, and through the sights, you see a man, not a paper cutout.

    You pull the trigger, you feel the kick, and you swear you can see the bullet flying its straight line into human flesh. For a moment you think that the boom from the firing chamber is God's thunder as He readies to smite you for breaking the commandment not to kill. You watch a body, running, taking one more stride, crumple, rejoin the dust from which he came, and then there is silence.

    It helps if your army is fighting an enemy that does not look like you. You can pretend that they are less than you, a sort of exotic animal, but whether you imagine man or beast, you know you have not killed only him, but all the generations he might have fathered.

    And as you wait for God to smite you, you beg His forgiveness, as you will beg for years, and you wonder if a god which does not strike you down for murder is capable of forgiveness, or if He's simply looking the other way.

    Perhaps it would have been different if it had happened on a battlefield. Perhaps the mass insanity of many soldiers killing many other soldiers would have cleansed me of the thinking, from feeling. But I was in a guard tower. In a prison camp. I killed someone who was running for the four barbed wires that kept him inside, killed him as he ran for freedom.

    He was seventeen. When they shouted his name my blood ran cold in the moonlit darkness. His name was Kenny. And he'd asked me if I'd teach him how to fish only that morning.

    You change the first time you kill a man. And you realize that God does not need to strike you down. You'll do that yourself.

    Who knew the weight of a bullet is not measured in grams but in tears?

    1. Damn. Yeah, agreed, but the whole thing has mad power. I love this: It helps if your army is fighting an enemy that does not look like you. You can pretend that they are less than you, a sort of exotic animal, but whether you imagine man or beast, you know you have not killed only him, but all the generations he might have fathered.

    2. You change the first time you kill a man. And you realize that God does not need to strike you down. You'll do that yourself. Ain't that the truth? The single precept that has gone missing from all the religions in all world... I LOVED!

    3. Very powerful piece. Those last few lines carry quite the punch.

    4. Echoing everyone else, this piece truly earns the quiet power of its last lines.

    5. Very much what everyone else said.

  7. The color drained so slowly from his world that he didn’t really notice it until spring, when the roses bloomed. When they’d married, he’d planted a red rose for his beloved Emma, but this spring, it was black. He was not a man who reacted quickly to change, so he took a blossom to his widowed neighbor, Gloria.

    “What a lovely red rose! Thank you!”

    “You’re welcome,” was all he could say. He did not see Gloria’s longing eyes as he walked out the door.

    He wondered if it began when Emma grew slowly, surely, painfully ill. Did the cancer that took her somehow migrate to his eyes? No, that was silly. You didn’t get cancer that way.

    Surely it was some sort of slowly degenerative disease. He should make an appointment with Dr. Otis. It had been too long since his last checkup. Time just slipped away from him now that she was gone.

    On his front porch, he stared at the rose, as if willing it to show its scarlet, but it did not. A bird landed on the rose. The shape of a robin, but its breast was gray. He unlocked the door, and decided to make breakfast.

    Scrambled eggs should be good. Through the black and white living room he shuffled, into the kitchen that used to be filled with cookies and soups and vegetables. It smelled like Lysol now, clean but soulless. The flames on the stove were not blue. How could he have not noticed before now? When he cracked the eggs into the frying pan, their yolks were missing their sunshine color, too. He signed deeply.

    The doorbell rang. Who would dare to call so early? He looked through the white sheer drapes, once sea green, and saw Gloria, with a pan in her hands. He opened the door slowly.

    “I’m sorry, I meant to give you these. I baked them this morning, and, well, I guess I haven’t gotten used to cooking for one. They’re cinnamon rolls. From Emma’s recipe, now that I think about it.”

    And he looked into Gloria’s eyes, her sky-blue eyes.

    “Please, come in.”

    1. I really like this Leland. I wish it hadn't ended.

    2. Oh, this is beautiful. And I'll say it again. I don't know how you can write these kinds of pieces and pull them off. It really is magic. Most writers would mangle it. Overplay it. It's a gift.

    3. Ha, brilliant! Unlike some of your others, Leland, this one uses our anticipation of the ending (we know something is going to have colour but we don't know what) as a strength!

    4. What they said. Also, you captured the nothingness of grief so very well.

    5. thanks it was a fun one to write...

  8. And my last one, at least until later...I seem to be monopolizing!

    There are, he decided, only three proper ways to pray: on your knees at bedtime, with a fast beating heart in danger, and in the middle of a river with a fly rod in your hands.

    He preferred the last, though there were no mosquitoes involved in the first two. And as the water rushed around his feet, he heard answers to his prayers, a conversation with God, not just his own endless pleadings.

    Emerson said the earth laughs in flowers, but he knew that God laughed in the ceaseless waters of the rivers.

    He'd let his life get too complicated. Too many things, too many people, too many deadlines. Not enough fishing. But this week, it'd gotten much simpler.

    He was fired. "Let go,” his boss said. "Force adjusted," is what HR called it. But it was fired.

    His wife was leaving him. "Following my heart, " she said. "Coming out," the marriage counselor said. But she was leaving him for another woman.
    Gotta love the liberated times we live in, he thought to himself.

    He'd smiled at his boss, he'd smiled at his wife, and then he got in the truck and drove to the river.

    And with a simplified life, he and God laughed together, in the water, chasing fish who were wily, but trusted in his mercy.

    1. Leland I really love this one!
      "Emerson said the earth laughs in flowers, but he knew that God laughed in the ceaseless waters of the rivers." That line may be one of my all-time favorites!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Because the worst day fishing is still better? Lol

    4. "There are, he decided, only three proper ways to pray: on your knees at bedtime, with a fast beating heart in danger, and in the middle of a river with a fly rod in your hands." This is the start of an epic novel.

      You know I love this one. And you're right. I don't believe in God. When someone I love dies...when everything seems fucked...I get my ass fishing.

    5. This is as close to perfect as anything can be.

    6. Y'all make me smile... thank you.

    7. I'm with those guys. Not a God-type, but I still get this. This could almost be an antidote to depression.

    8. This is beautiful. And full of truth. :)

  9. Luanne and Marty jointly concocted an even better, more grandiose terrorist plot: engineer a takeover of a privately-run prison, convert it into a homeless shelter. They combed publicly available information, and when that ran out, broke into DOJ systems and stole gigabytes of confidential data. They ultimately settled on a state-level correctional facility in Louisiana, some 30 miles from Baton Rouge. This facility was chosen because it was, tactically and ethically, an easy target: the majority of the inmates were men of color, serving trumped-up sentences for non-violent crimes, security was relatively lax, but the building was serviceable as a defensive fortress.

    Neither of them ever actually set foot on those grounds. That wasn’t their gig. They just fed information to local operatives, who had the time and inclination to carry out such an operation: a bunch of disgruntled young black men from New Orleans, and more than a few white boys from around the way.

    That operation was locally run by Ricky Hanson. Milton Lamarche knew him from the neighborhood, they grew up together in the 9th Ward of New Orleans; Milton tended to speak of him pejoratively, describing him as “a herb-ass li’l Steve Urkel-lookin’ nigga”, but respected that he went against the grain, and embraced his nerdhood despite his bleak circumstances. With the help of confederates in California, Minnesota, and elsewhere, Ricky spent days analyzing the data, organizing the operatives, and formulating an optimal plan of action. Despite his trepidation, he even participated in the takeover, like a military officer; while most others came strapped with rifles, shotguns, and sub-machineguns, he only carried a Glock, and mostly stayed out of the fray, supplying strategic directives.

    Ricky had considered joining the Army before: his high school gave everyone the ASVAB exam, because unlike the SAT and ACT, it was free, and he scored an outstanding 97 out of 99: had he been willing to endure a few years as an enlisted man, he easily could have gotten his college paid for, and then straight to officer school, and probably been a captain or lieutenant major by 30. But it rubbed him the wrong way, all that mindless obedience, when he knew so many dudes who had been chewed up and spit out by war, and had to fight tooth and nail to get the benefits they were promised.

    So he didn’t give much of a fuck, when he was posted up in the warden’s office, the previous warden’s blood still wet on the floor, monitoring communications on his laptop and running this operation, which the government would call a terrorist action, with all the responsibility and competence of a military officer. He expected his men to do as he said, but considered himself responsible for them.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. This is a movie! I'm enthralled and dropping popcorn everywhere. Seriously good.

    3. Yeah, this is dope, D. Prison take-over is always an intriguing look, but the homeless shelter angle is so perfect. And you nailed the impetus and language as always.

    4. While all the exposition is necessary, the line "the previous warden’s blood still wet on the floor" gives us the immersion we also need. Nice job.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. This part of something bigger, hopefully lol.

    The child started to pull away when it felt like no one was pulling back.
    He floated farther and farther out and was soon over his head.
    He had been adrift for days when he thought he heard a man shouting.
    "BOY! Grab a hold!" A man on a raft offered his hand.
    "I don't know how long she'll hold us or how far she'll take us,
    but it's better than me sitting here watching you drown." He smiled and threw his head back with a laugh.

    I wish that I could say it was like a fairy tale, that they got along right off but it was slow going. The boy was mostly feral. He had learned the hard way that people couldn't be trusted, especially older men.

    But the old man was patient and wise. He showed the boy only kindness even when the child was sullen and mistrustful. He fished every day for their food and gave the boy the bigger portion. He sang or told the stories that he'd heard his mother's father tell long ago. He praised each sunrise and thanked each sunset.
    The boy learned to not jump at the sound of the old man's voice or flinch when he offered him food.
    He learned to trust the old man a little more each day.

    Pt 1

    1. this makes me feel warm all over

    2. does that mean you have a fever and my story made you sick? :)

    3. Definitely leaves the reader wanting more!

    4. Yes. I am digging this. Keep digging, cause I want more. :)

    5. Thanks you guys! You make mé smile.

    6. The opening lines are almost dreamlike and metaphoric, which is perfect because then we're jarred into reality by "I wish that I could say it was like a fairy tale."


  12. This is the first scene in a bigger piece.

    Take Me Out

    "Hello darlin'."

    He walks in like an ad for the state of Texas. Worn cowboy boots. Hmmm...Levis not Wranglers. A sun-bleached denim shirt that a Stetson?

    Something flashes and catches your eye. Just a glint off of're looking at his belt buckle...oh that's subtle.

    "Sam right?"

    His voice is like agave nectar. Sweet and intoxicating. This is a mistake. What the hell are you thinking?


    Your cheeks burn with embarrassment. You hope he doesn't notice.

    He sits down at your table like a rancher who's been riding all day.

    "Now don't be shy. I won't bite. Unless you want me to. " He winks and you pick up a hint of playful danger in his tone .

    He lies his black hat on the table. Leans forward. Grins.

    Gawd. Like that sweet tea that Gramma used to make in the big glass jars every summer....

    His smile is impish but doesn't feel threatening. You can't believe how blue his eyes are. Lawrence of Arabia-blue. What was that actor's name? Oh...O'Toole..Peter O'Toole.
    Hypnotizing, seducing eyes...catch more fly with honey eyes.


    "Yeah. I've never done anything like this."

    You feel stupid. Like a kid trying to play grow-up games. You've never negotiated a business deal, and you sure as hell haven't ever flirted with a Greek God who was probably going to be the death of you.

    Dammit Sharon. This is her fault! Did she know he would be like this? Did she *know* what kind of guy they would send out?

    "And sometimes the 'Divil' has blue eyes..." Your grandma's voice ccomes half singing , half whispering to your ears.

    He whistles and a black-n-white dog comes running in and lies down beside his chair. It has one blue eye and one brown eye, one ear up one ear down, and it's animated tan eyebrows almost make you laugh...outloud.

    1. I like it! cowboys and dogs are my weaknesses

    2. Thanks! I would stay away from this particular cowboy he is most definitely not what he seems.

    3. Enjoyable reading and I envisioned Sam Elliott. Thanks for the color laden visuals.

    4. Love the small distinctions. Levis not Wrangler. "His voice is like agave nectar. Sweet and intoxicating." Awesome.

    5. You've never negotiated a business deal, and you sure as hell haven't ever flirted with a Greek God who was probably going to be the death of you.
      I hear THAT!

    6. There's so much possibility here, so many paths the tale might take. I like it.

    7. thank you for the encouragement everyone :)

    8. This is filled with life. So much going on. It always amazes me when people can create a vibrant world in so few words.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. It was the most disturbing footage the news team had ever seen. And they had seen some grisly stuff coming back from the Middle East, ISIS hacking people’s heads off, soldiers with their guts spilled by shrapnel from IEDs. But it hit closer to home when this sort of thing happened on US soil. The footage was submitted anonymously, and it played like a goddamned snuff film: almost an hour long, the film showed a group of seven or eight masked youths breaking into an opulent suburban home with mayhem on their minds.

    The cameraperson was only seen at the very beginning: a young black woman wearing sunglasses after dark, explaining that this was the home of billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Watson. He had ignored the warnings, and so her compatriots meant to make an example of him, sending a message to the rest of the oligarch class that the same could easily happen to them. She then recorded the nightmarish scene to unfold: having already sabotaged the alarm system, the young men broke in the front door. The woman holding the camera could be heard laughing and encouraging them as they beat Mr. Watson, but the beating was only the beginning. Once he was subdued and restrained, the intruders gathered his wife and children in the spacious sitting room. He entreated the maniacs not to harm them, to no avail. The camerawoman lifted her shades and told him, “you had your shot at clemency, you blew it.”

    He gasped, recognizing her face, “you! Oh, god, no…” His fourteen-year-old son enjoyed the most merciful fate: he died first, one bullet to the head. Watson wept and blubbered as his only son’s blood drained out onto the polished hardwood. His wife and two remaining daughters were crying, as well, having a pretty good idea what these degenerates had in store for them. The camera watched passively, as the young men had their way with the women of the Watson house, the quality of the footage bearing a sick resemblance to a family home video of a child’s birthday party, or a bat mitzvah. It watched as a tall, slim, blond youth approached the elder daughter, asked, “remember me?”, and audibly slapped her across the face before snapping, “shut the fuck up and take off your pants, bitch, it’s go time.” Her mother put up little struggle, perhaps hoping to draw attention from her daughters. They didn’t care; despite her parents’ protestations, even their younger daughter, still in middle school, was raped.

    Once the men had their fill, they executed the girls and their mother. Beside himself with terror and grief, Mr. Watson asked, “what is WRONG with you people? You think you’re going to get away with this? You sick bastards! They’ll lock you up and throw away the key!”

    The blond youth smirked, lifted his mask so Watson could see his face, and replied, “funny, the last time I saw you, I didn’t actually rape your daughter, because she was smart enough to play along and try to make you THINK that. I didn’t expect that. I thought she’d say some shit like that, like,” he did a high-pitched rich-teen-girl voice, “’omigahd, do you have any idea who my daddy is? If you lay a single grubby finger on me, he’ll have you in jail by next weekend,’” he resumed his normal speaking voice, “and then I was gonna fuck her up.” He glanced at the girl’s corpse, half-naked and bloodied, and added, “guess that was just putting it off, huh?”

    The camerawoman asked him rhetorically, “you think we give a fuck about a cop? We’re gonna burn your whole fuckin’ life down and salt the earth, so everyone knows what happens to motherfuckers like you. Let’s wrap this up, fellas.”

    The video then ended with an exterior shot of the house engulfed in flames. Horrified, the local news turned the DVD over to the police, who still had arson investigators on the scene, examining the charred skeletons found in the burned-out hulk of that $6.2 million dollar Woodside home.

    1. Even I thought this one was disturbing, but it's not really much worse than the kind of shit that happens in shows like Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy.

    2. There's a small subgenre of horror that features home invasion (Funny Games, Straw Dogs, You're Next, The Purge, Panic Room, and the recent Don't Breathe) and usually pushes the envelope. I happen to love it, and expanded upon, this would fit perfectly.

  15. It was one of the better parties Marty had been to; he was just starting to like the taste of beer, and almost immediately he started hitting it off with this rather cute Latina girl in cutoffs and a dangerously low-cut top. But after maybe an hour or two of engrossing conversation, some other dude interrupted and got her away with the promise of a line of blow or some shit. At a loss, Marty wound up telling Tim about it; were he more sober, he would have been embarrassed to be asking a younger dude for advice about girls.

    Tim smirked and replied, quietly compared to the rap jams playing in the background, “Lemme tell you something, kid: this here’s the wild wild west. People in real life are not as uptight as people on Tumblr, especially ‘round here. If you still wanna get with that chick, your best bet is to show her you didn’t just get punked and let some random motherfucker take her away without a fight. Like a physical fight, sick burns don’t grab attention from someone who don’t give a shit what you think. You gotta fight this dude. Even if he beats your ass, it might end up making him look like the asshole, and then you’re in. And trust, if he really laces into you, you know hella heads who will get your back and fuck his shit up.” For emphasis, Tim flashed the grip of his trusty old Beretta; he had bragged before that it had killed eight men, by his count, but Marty wasn’t totally convinced.

    Marty waffled momentarily at the thought of picking a fight, even though that other dude wasn’t obviously bigger or tougher-looking. So Tim poured him a shot of well vodka, told him “here, take a shot. It’ll either help you get your nut up to go whip this motherfucker’s ass, or get you to chill out and forget about whatsertits and go chat up some other ho. Ain’t like there’s a huge...” he looked around, and had to admit to himself that there were slightly more guys than girls in the house and yard, “well, not a HUGE shortage of babes up in the spot.”

    Marty downed the shot all at once. Not his first ever, but among the first, as made obvious by the face he made. Emboldened, he walked right back out into the backyard; intrigued, Tim followed him, holding him up briefly on the back porch. “Dude, who was it?” Marty pointed out a less-nerdy, but not particularly tough looking, college-age guy in faded jeans and a collared shirt. “Seriously? That guy? Go for it, he doesn’t look like he’s about shit, he probably has gym muscles, not fighting muscles. I don’t even know what he’s doing here, dude kinda sticks out.”

  16. Tim then hung back, amused, watching the spectacle unfold: Marty approached college boy, without saying a word, and clocked him with a right cross to the face. Tim even laughed out loud, at how the dude spun around and went down like a ton of bricks. He laughed even more, feeling what he imagined fatherly pride might be like, when Marty got on top of the guy and punched him in the face, repeatedly, and snarled, “what’s up now, bitch?! You think you can just bird dog me and I ain’t gonna do shit? I will fuck your shit up!”

    Marty did let dude stand up after a few shots to the face, but told him “get the fuck outta here. Next time I see you, you’re getting another ass kicking.” Tim remembered the first time he dominated someone like that. Some crackhead was trying to break into his squat, shortly after he moved in there with Luanne and Raymond, but Tim had his gun and broke that creeper off, took him for his cigarettes and eighteen dollars, and told him, “if you ever come back, I’ll shoot you in the stomach and let you bleed to death.”

    He didn’t pull that girl, still. She was not aroused by Marty’s display of machismo, and still avoided him the rest of the night. When Marty groused about it to Tim, Tim replied, “yup, sometimes that’s how the cookie crumbles. Just write her off, now everyone knows you are not to be fucked with freely, even though you look like fuckin’ Mingus from Boy Meets World. Some chicks ain’t into that. I got no use for ‘em, myself.”

    Luanne sidled up and interjected, “it’s true. I mean, I thought what you did was kinda badass. I didn’t think you had it in you.”

    Tim waved her off, “c’mon, babe, this is guy time, and don’t go getting his hopes up unless you’re gonna fuck him.” He looked Marty over, then Luanne, and said, “fuck it, go for it, just don’t do it in my room and don’t tell me about it. Beyond whether or not you did it,” he made a crude finger-in-hole fornication gesture, “I don’t wanna know.” She narrowed her eyes, annoyed, and replied, “y’know what, fine, y’all can crank each other off, cuz the only bitch I’m cranking off tonight is my goddamn self.”

    Tim only hoped she was drunk or high enough to not remember she was mad at him in the morning. She had been partying a bit harder lately, but still not doing hard drugs, just drinking a bit more, so he had no room to talk. It was kind of funny to him, how she was normally so soft-spoken and polite, but when she drank, her inner hoodrat came out: her elocution became more drawled, or slurred, her temper got shorter, and she swore a LOT more.

  17. Julia adjusted the beret on her head, turning it minutely and then reseating it so it was perfectly level. "I don't care," she said, "You'll just have to wait a while longer."

    Cooper drew in a long breath. "That's fine by me. I'm quite happy to keep coming back. I'll be here every day until every last penny is paid. I've nothing better to do; I get paid for my attentiveness, not for my results."

    "But that makes no sense!"

    The man shrugged. "I don't dictate my manager's policies. If he tells me to keep coming here, then that's what I'll do." He palmed his right fist in his left hand, clicking the joints of his knuckles one by one. And then again, lingering over each finger with what seemed an almost surreal pleasure. "Normally I'd suggest some sort of arrangement, a compromise that might be mutually beneficial, but The Man is quite insistent in your case. It’s almost as though he's got a thing for you. Not that I can blame him, of course. Most of the people I collect from look like the losers they are. You don't; that makes me wonder about you. There's a story to you. Maybe if you talk I might be more sympathetic. Tolerance is my middle name – you didn't know that, did you?"

    Julia dropped back into the patched armchair. There was nothing of value in the house. Nothing left to sell and nothing she couldn't replace if she ever had enough money again. Maybe the bailiff was prepared to go easy on her but she wasn’t sure if his negotiable terms were going to be worse to withstand than his menace. A set of bruises would soon fade but the psychological damage might remain with her forever.

    1. Whoa.... this is almost gothic! you keep surprising me with your agility in so many genres!

    2. Dammit, I was gonna say that. Yeah, facile genre hopping. Yet there is always a common thread, strong voice, thoughtful. Aces.

    3. Love the comparison of scars. This is brutally sweet.

    4. "Tolerance is my middle name..." may be true, but patience and pity do not seem part of his makeup. The possibility of him as a complete heavy is overwhelming.

    5. Yeah this is tight. And what they^^^ all said. :)

  18. The limbs of the tree scrape my cheek and I freeze, take the opportunity to stop and listen. There are all kinds of dark. This night is so dark the moon's scared - if it's even still up there.

    I reach back and feel the knife on my belt, try to convince myself that it makes things better. Some kind of magic wand or something. I don't listen to the brain-voice which tells me the knife don't mean shit. I don't mean shit. Nothing means shit when the night is it's own cloak.

    I almost shit myself when I hear a frog croak.

    Then, a faint green light from the treetops and you're standing before me. I'm not scared. I'm too scared to be scared. So, I take your hand and we walk through the forest and back to the road where the lights cut the blackness.

    And I realize that my hand is empty. And I know I can't tell anyone because I know what they'll say. And even if it's true, I don't want to hear it.

    1. Wow, I love how this upsets expectations. A kind of ghost story. The night is its own cloak!

    2. "This night is so dark the moon's scared - if it's even still up there." Love that. Also, what they said. ^^

  19. I don't think I've ever heard of that band, no. Nope, I eat gluten - I'm not even totally sure what gluten is. Maybe I don't eat it. Yeah, I know jack shit about politics. I have no interest in liars or bullshit.

    I don't watch that show. I have kids. When the fuck am I gonna watch a TV show about a family that's not even as interesting as my own. I live in an apartment, but we call it a home - don't got a big staircase though. No pool. Hell, I don't have a dishwasher.

    And, yes, I know that if I wrote a funny book with a happy ending that people might be more apt to buy it. They might not, too. Fickle fuckers.

    See, I get it. I'm losing. By all the standards you cling to. But you know what? I think your priorities are fucked. From where I'm standing, being a loser feels a whole lot like winning sometimes.

    1. JD, everything you have written today has left me speechless. I love it all.

    2. When I look at who's a winner that I know, your name is way up at the top of the list... this is a beautiful reminder of what matters. And it's well-written!

  20. Pierrot at Sixty-four

    Where once stood a smile, now something else lies.

    It’s not the frown of the sad Pierrot, the fool whose love for Columbine is dashed by her attraction to the dashing Harlequin —
    but it could be. These stacks of love letters returned, unrequited, refused, would sadden any man.

    But that’s not a frown.

    Where once pride braced his strong countenance, that shone like marble, smooth and firm, now flags one in windless ennui. Its erstwhile attraction vestigial, serving no purpose for an old face resting beneath thinning wisps of cloud, still playing the clown.

    But, no, it’s not a frown.

    1. Man, I get excited every time I see you've posted something. Because it's always so damn good. "Its erstwhile attraction vestigial, serving no purpose for an old face resting beneath thinning wisps of cloud, still playing the clown."

      Damn, man.

    2. When detachment starts to feel like wisdom. Well done!

    3. I have to cry ditto on Mader's response.

    4. Thank you, Dan, Teresa, Ann and all the 2 Minutes Go! Crowd. I wish I could participate more fully in this brilliant little community of writers, giving back as generously as you all do. You all humble me at every turn with your talent and collegiality. And me? I'm just a socially awkward cribbling putz.

    5. You are a talented putz, then I liked this...and "windless ennui" was my favorite phrase...

    6. Your words are visceral, like the best poetry. I mean, they're tactile, almost.

  21. I'm going to write something. Something that's been over twenty years coming. And I know I'm gonna take heat for it. And I know some people will applaud me. And I'd rather take heat for it. I don't want a trophy.

    What I want is for her to know. That I remember. That I think about it. And I want her to think about it - because it wasn't right then, and it's still not right. I'm not staying up nights. Still...

    So, I'm gonna write the fucking thing. And I'm writing THIS because I can count on my crew to call me out when I puss out. Say, hey, you were gonna write that awful, true thing. And I'll lag. And I'll hem and haw.

    But I'll write it. Because it's time you saw what I saw. The blackness and the aftermath.

    1. Ha, the above comments almost belong to this piece. You know how standups love doing improv? This is the writers' equivalent! (Now, of course, I've ruined it.)

  22. Keta looked down at her feet, at the loam and leaves and needles and fungi that littered the forest floor. It was a wonderful microcosm of life. She shuffled her feet a bit, disturbing some of the leafy debris, when her foot hit something that didn't feel right.

    She knelt to gently brush away detritus to reveal a whistle carved of wood. Oakheart, it was. Only one person would carry a whistle carved of oakheart, and only on person would an oak willing give up heartwood to. A Ranger.

    Keta picked the whistle up with growing apprehension. As she turned it in her hands, she discovered that the underside of the wood was stained a rusty red color, as though it had been soaked in blood.

    Keta's heart beat faster. Where was the Ranger?

    Her eyes started scanning the ground and trees in all directions, looking for some sign of his or her whereabouts. A scrap of uniform, a bowstring, blood on the ground, anything. She looked everywhere... but up.

    1. ohhh... I like this! Your style is a lot like Mercedes Lackey's... and I've read everything she's ever written... and that's a LOT!

    2. Yeah, this is awesome. Perfectly balanced and the opening is so strong.

    3. As the beginning of a longer tale, this would grab the reader immediately.

    4. Yes, yes, yes! What they all said. Love this and would love to see where it goes.

  23. Suicide is the ultimate contempt for love. It tosses love away like so much dross, giving it no meaning, no weight, relegating it to nothingness. An individual who's heart is treated in such a manner will usually become one of two minds: he will deny the fact, or he will come to hate the person who rejected him.

    If you truly love him, you will not do this thing.

    1. Yup. I love the way this is distilled down to truth.

    2. I never judge those who take their own lives, despite the pain they leave behind. As someone who suffers from depression, I understand it. It can often seem the logical end, even if it's inexplicable to others.

  24. "I do believe your daughter is trying to set us up," he said with a chuckle.

    We had gone to high school together, he and I. And dated a bit. My daughter Addy knew about that from my yearbooks.

    "I'm afraid it's about 20 years too late."

    "To set us up?"

    "Oh, no!" I laughed. "To acquaint us with one another."

    Addy gave me a completely scandalized look as he and I spoke around her.

    "Mom! Watch your double entendres!"

    "You stated it, young lady," I said to her with a raised eyebrow.

    "Touche," she said with a sheepish grin.

    "My," he said. "What witty repartee your family indulges in."

    "You have no idea," Addy said with a roll of her eyes.

    "Actually," he grinned at me. "I believe I do."

  25. Hot talk,hotline, this is Cindy the Siren. How can I help you, hot stuff?”
    There was a pause as she ground out her cigarette.
    My name’s Jim.
    That’s a sweet name. It wasn’t a real name, anymore than hers was. But she had to keep them talking. Time was money. A fiver for five minutes and hot talk took 30 percent. Tell ‘em how hot they were, tell ‘em you wanted ‘em. Keep ‘em on long enough for them to get off and take the next call. Easy money, too. Some weeks, she pulled 400 clear, no taxes. Sheer improvisation. No faces, no names. And when you got right down to it, it was just another acting job, wasn’t it?
    “I’m sittin here wearing nothing but my panties, Jim. It’s SOO hot where I live. I swear, the air’s just like a wet sheet,” she trilled. “You ever feel like that, Jim? You got a real sexy voice, though.” He sounded like he was maybe 19.
    “Thank you ma’am.”
    Ma’am? Jesus Christ….
    So what can I tell you, Jimmy? I’m thinking about you, right now. I am. I can see that big ole thing you got in your pants, and I want it, Jimmy. I can’t get enough---“
    “No. Not like that.” This time, the voice was sure. “See, I just called to—talk. To a woman.”
    “Well, I’m all woman, Jimmy.”
    He sighed. “I—I’m in a wheelchair, see? And I don’t get out too much and even when I do, girls—well they ain’t too interested, y’know?”
    “I’m interested, Jimmy.”
    “So I thought—I thought you might want to just talk. Like if we were on a date, or something.”
    Cindy the Siren bit her lip. “well sure, honey. You mean like a blind date? First time?”
    “Yeah, like that. Like we could get to know each other a little.”
    “Okay, well. Let’s say we’re sitting at a table in a dark little restaurant somewhere. And we got us a couple glasses of wine. I’m a little nervous, ‘cause you’re so good-looking.”
    She heard him chuckle. “What do you do for a living, Jim?”
    A sigh. “ Guess I’m not any good at this.”
    “Come on, Jim. We’re just playin’, here.”
    “I was a Marine, in Iraq. Now I ain’t—“
    “Did you say a Lawyer? Wow, I always wanted to meet a lawyer.”
    Jimmy Laughed this time. Okay, okay…Yeah, I work for the CIA.”
    “Wow” Cindy breathed. “So you’re like James Bond, huh?”
    “You could say that.” Jimmy responded. “Only I don’t get to meet many women like you.”
    “Are you flirting with me?”
    “No. I mean that. As soon as I got your text, agreeing to meet, I knew—something good might happen.”
    Cindy caught herself about to sigh. One minute five left on the clock.
    “What’s your favorite color?”
    “Well, before today, I might of said blue. But after meeting you, I’d swear it was the color of your eyes.”
    Cindy’s mouth went suddenly dry. “They’re just brown.”
    “No, they’re like buckwheat honey. Like sunlight in the fall.”
    And then, in her mind’s eye. Jimmy rose and took her hand. “Care to dance?”
    “ I think we’re dancing now, Jimmy, just you and me. They got a little band in the corner and they’re playing…”
    “Stardust. I learned all them old standards at the VA. Best music in the world, don’t you think?”
    “ I do, Jimmy, I really do.”
    “After the dance, you and me, we have a little dinner and we laugh and laugh. And pretty soon, you can feel it, can’t you Cindy? Pretty soon, you can feel it too. How all the lonely you’ve been is washing away. Can you feel that, Cindy?”
    She inhaled sharply. “Yes,” she whispered. “I guess I can.”
    “And I pay the check and walk you outside. And the world is just like it always was. Only now, it’s changed. Really changed. Because by some kinda miracle, love, or the promise of it, appeared again. Just by chance.”
    Unexpectedly a recorded voice interrupted them.” Please deposit 15 dollars on your credit card for continuance of this call.”
    Jimmy struggled. I have to go, Cindy. But remember that I walked you home, and held your hand. And I say, “May I kiss you good night?”
    And they kiss in some other world, another time, a place of fantasy and hope and longing.
    Just before the network cuts off the phone.
    Cindy stares in to darkness of her room and the coal of her cigarette glows like some kind of joy in the night.
    The ringtone jingles once again.
    Easy money, my eye.

    1. Really love this. Sincerely. Not a false note anywhere.

    2. Ah, this is beautiful... dreams made, dreams broken. And you spiked it with the last line. Thank you.

    3. This is AWESOME! I love it. I wrote a piece with this premise once long ago, but it was terrible in comparison.

    4. Yes, this is awesome. I was with them every step, every word.

  26. With so many animals needing to be rescued, I figured I'd take my two minutes to share my blogpost.
    If I Were a Dog
    Eve Gaal

    If I were a dog
    I’d forget about yesterday
    and forgive you today.
    I’d remind you to cuddle,
    implore you to play.
    I’d wait all day until you came home
    ‘til you read the mail and put down your phone.
    I’d hold you in the highest esteem--
    you and me...
    other family members--
    the greatest of teams.

    If I were a dog,
    I’d sleep while you’re away,
    anticipating your arrival,
    ears perked against rivals,
    half awake,
    I’d probably bark a lot,
    worried you were caught-
    held in a cage,
    next to stinky mongrels filled with rage.
    I’d imagine the smell
    Of wet matted hair
    strangers that tried to care
    for unfortunate beasts carrying disease.
    In my nightmares,
    I’d remember fleas
    landing on my fur--
    the unforgettable stench of urine everywhere.

    If I were a dog,
    I’d lick your face.
    Not to taste,
    but only to kiss
    the person who understood my heart.
    The one who saw into my eyes,
    had me leaping off the charts.
    I’d have to wag my tail to convince you—
    throwing myself at your feet for a belly rub--
    My love is unconditional and true.
    I’m sure you’d beg to agree--
    our lives are better rescued me.

    1. I love this so much! Dogs and especially rescues are near and dear to my heart.

    2. I love this so much! Dogs and especially rescues are near and dear to my heart.

    3. I read this aloud to Angelo and Maggie, and they loved it as much as I do.

    4. Yup, I love it, too. Makes me want to be a rescued dog. :)

    5. I actually don't trust people who don't love animals. There, I've said it. But seriously, this is brimming with empathy.

  27. "I'm in hell. This is hell," Alyna groaned, rolling her head to the side so she could be heard while keeping her head down.
    "You're not in hell, or a kick-ass Elvis Costello song, Lyn, babe," her cowrker, Gail assured her with a grin. "You're sick. Happens to everyone. Stop being such a guy about it."
    "I think I'd rather be in hell," Alyna grumbled. "Better get my ass outa here before the boss, or worse, my boy sees me being all pathetic."
    "Good plan," Gail said,, rolling her eyes. "I would rather not experience a shitstorm before the dinner rush. You know, you could just go home."
    "Need the tips, babe," Alyna said. "I have bills and rent and stuff and things."
    "How's barfing on your customer's lap gonna make you those tips?" Gail asked.
    "I'm just gonna have to not barf," Alyna said. "There's a twelve top coming in and Tye said he was gonna put them in my section. That's rent. They're partiers. I've had 'em before."
    "Stubborn," Gail grumbled as she got up to greet her newest customers and get them bread.
    "Feeling better, babe?" Alyna's boyfriend, Freddie asked, coming up behind her and sliding a hand to the small of her back.
    "Absolutely," she chirped, moving to get the water pitcher so she could make the rounds of her section.
    "Liar," he said on a smile.
    "Life happens, baby," she said, shrugging with one shoulder to keep the water in her other hand from spilling. "You gotta deal with the hand you're dealt. So, I'll fake it until I can go home, curl up in a ball, and die."
    "Pretty sure it's supposed to be 'I'll fake it 'til I make it, babe," Freddie pointed out.
    "Yeah, but I'm fucking sick, so there is no making it until my body decides there is," she pointed out.
    Freddie shook his head at her as she glided off. His girl was nuts, but at least she didn't give up.

    1. a really cool vignette, and a true one, I've no doubt!

    2. Word. Also makes me never want to eat out again. ;)

    3. "I'm just gonna have to not barf" made me LOL. Really authentic dialogue.

    4. Not true, but inspired by real life. I was the accountant using my purse as a pillow on the bar on Friday. We send our servers home if they're sick :)

  28. Fifteen years.

    They had created a chasm between Thomas and his father, a distance between him and his mother. But now, meeting his brother again for the first time since his “miraculous reappearance,” the years fell away. This man was not the enemy he’d built up in his mind, nor the cool, aloof lordling that the rest of the world knew. This was his brother, the little imp from hell who’d upset his world when he was only two, the boy who’d been his dearest friend from that point forward.


    Until he’d been taken from his family.

    Thomas no longer had anything in common with his brother, this noble young man with the perfectly tied cravat, not a hair out of place. Thomas felt downright disreputable, comparatively, though he’d been given fashionable clothing to wear and a valet to make sure he wore them properly. They hid a great deal of what made him so very different from the lordling and the rest of society’s elite, but they could not hide his sun-bleached hair, his darkened skin, the gold rings in his ears, or the tattoos on the backs of his hands.

    Measured against his brother, it was obvious he didn’t, couldn’t belong here.

    But measured by the look in his brother’s eye—the one that said his feelings matched the one in Thomas’s own heart—made it obvious that he did belong.

    Thomas couldn’t remember if the proper greeting was a handshake or a bow. He hesitated only a moment and then stepped forward to wrap his brother in a tight embrace, one that was returned with a great deal of enthusiasm and a whispered, “Welcome home.”

    1. It is beautiful. And I want to know more, and to understand, but it's also perfect as it is.

    2. I agree, and you nailed the tone.

    3. Definitely want to know more and I think I love the word "lordling".

    4. Thank you all. :) I'm hoping this will eventually be part of something much longer. We'll see. :D

    5. Yes, it feels that way, like there's a shit ton of backstory, like it's real (like the best fiction, of course).

  29. He couldn’t afford a convertible—probably never would be able to—so instead of putting the top down on a vintage Mustang, he had to settle for rolling down the windows on his beat up Civic. The thing was so old it had a tape deck—no CD player, no aux-in port—and the sound system was crap. But he had his iPod plugged into an adapter that played through the tape deck and music blared out of the tinny speakers. Tom Petty. Of course.

    He grinned at the girl in the passenger seat, and she grinned right back.

    They had no money, and nowhere to spend it even if they had a buck or two. The few crappy bars in town had closed at midnight, and they couldn’t just hit the road. She had school the next day, and her professors were hard-asses about missed days. So was his boss.

    But they had this. They had the loop that circled their hometown, a couple of Big Gulps, and the fall breeze rushing in through the windows.

    And the radio. Always the radio.

    Sometimes he wondered if she’d fallen in love with all of him or just his taste in music. He wasn’t sure it mattered. He turned the radio up a little louder—to cover up the horrible sound of him singing along—and took her hand.

    It wasn’t much, this small town life. But it was all they needed, at least for tonight.

    1. I grew up in that town, and this tells it true

    2. I've been in a LOT of towns like that. Awesome snapshot.

    3. My hometown. My life, more or less, except it was various friends (mostly Erin) riding shotgun and we made road trips as often as we could. :D

  30. The wind carries not sand but gravel on the western plains of Nebraska. In this place, a place called Ash Hollow, there is only one tree, a cottonwood. The fences on either side of the road have boots upside down on them. This is the original Boot Hill, a cowboy cemetery.

    There is only one fresh grave. The date of death on the stone has not yet been chiseled in.

    The only flowers that grow here are sunflowers of the wild sort, with sticky hairs on their stems. The only grass is called buffalo grass, not because buffalo graze on it, but because it looks like the fur on the massive animals. And the only people buried here are fools and lovers and the occasional loner, but maybe that's redundant.
    He drives here once a year, even before his uncle died and was buried here, he came. Then it was to help his uncle visit the grave next to the place he now is buried. He carries a vase, empty of all but water, which is precious in this arid country. In an ice chest, in the trunk, there is a six pack of Coors, the only beer his uncle ever drank.

    He popped th trunk, and then he popped a can of beer.

    "I came, Unc. Just like you and I always did."

    He leaned against the granite headstone.

    "It's been a right year, Unc. I miss you more than I imagined I could."

    He took a swig of the beer he hated but drank out of avuncular respect.

    "At least I know you're not alone, wherever you are."

    He read the two names on the stone silently.

    "I'm gonna pick your flowers."

    He walked the length of the cemetery, to the place the sunflowers grew. He took out his knife, the knife that Unc gave him when he turned fourteen. He cut seven blossoms, blew gently on them to dislodge the ants that craved the sweet nectar.
    He walked back to the grave, under the big blue sky.

    "I'm in love, Unc. I think you'd approve. He's a rodeo cowboy. Okay, he's trying. Not a lot of prize money, but he's workin' at it."

    Another swig of the warming beer.

    "I wish you and Joe coulda met him."

    He held back the tears.

    "If you and Joe hadn't shown me that two men can live be together, I don't think I'd have the guts to try."

    The first can was empty. He opened another.

    "And he looks good on a horse. And off."

    He laughed, with denim dreams in his mind.

    "Dad says I'm shaming the family. But you probably got the same talk."

    He let the wind sing for a few minutes before he spoke again. A meadowlark joined in. He drank the second can faster than the first.

    "I think he's the one, Unc. I'll bring him with me next year, to visit, I mean."

    He took a third can of beer, and poured it on the grave, another tradition he'd learned from his uncle. The fourth he poured on Joe's grave.

    He stood, making sure he'd left no trash on the ground. He put the full and the empty cans in the trunk, and turned back to the graves. He reached in his pocket for two quarters, and put them atop the granite.

    "I gotta hit the road, Unc. I'll see you next year. You and joe are always in my prayers."

    He got in the car, windows down, and felt the wind on his face, rustling the big oval leaves of the tree. And just as he touched his keys, he heard Unc's deep voice singing, and somewhere, he'd swear he heard an old honkytonk piano playing. Yeah, he knew the cowboy and the piano player were together at last. And he hoped they were drinking something better than Coors.

    He drove into the sunset, toward his own cowboy, toward his own piano, and into tomorrow.

    1. This brought tears to my eyes. It felt very real. I really liked this piece Leland.

    2. This brought tears to my eyes. It felt very real. I really liked this piece Leland.

    3. Yeah, this one made me tear up a little, brother. Sweet, beautiful, and it indeed feels so real it's like we're there, fly on the wind for a beautiful moment.

    4. Beautiful scene. I could easily see it, which is not easily done.

    5. What they said. So many beautiful little details that bring it to life, like "sunflowers of the wild sort, with sticky hairs on their stems." And then the emotion, of course. The relationships.

    6. Yup, sweet and beautiful. And like Laura says, it's grounded by those small details. Buffalo grass, etc.

  31. The feline toilette is a sensitive matter.

    When not appropriately tended to, a cat may resort to expressing it's displeasure in ways a cat-owner should prefer to prevent.

    Keeping a clean and scooped litter box will keep a well mannered cat from reliving itself in random corners or upon expensive furniture.

    An ounce of prevention, as they say, can ward off a lot of stress and expensive cleaning bills.

    Unless, of course, the cat is an asshole. And as we all know...

    Cats are assholes.

    1. LOL! This made me laugh out loud...

    2. Ha! This is dope. Succinct and funny. And true (my cat was a sweetheart, but I've known some assholes, too).

    3. Ha! Nice to know I can still laugh out loud at this piece since I have three cats.

    4. LoL. I had a feeling that there was a twist coming. I wasn't expecting "Cats are assholes," but I should have been. Nice!

  32. (I'll back later or tomorrow to finish commenting! Thanks for a really great day of fiction today!)

  33. “Oh. Come. On.”
    Barry’s hand stopped mid-swipe. The thick glob of peanut butter stood precariously but still mostly on the knife instead of the slice of 7-grain he held in his other hand.
    “What in the heck do you think you’re doing in my kitchen Barry? In my house? Did I say you could go scavenging in my kitchen?”
    Barry finished the spread as he heard the thumping sound of the woman’s heavy purse hitting the small already battered card table used for dining, before he turned slowly to face her. A man who was all angles and no curves, Barry's rail hips leaned against the counter.
    “I was waiting for you Magdalena, just like I told you I would be. For three fucking hours at that. And no you didn’t give me permission to make a PB & J in your kitchen but my stomach sure as hell did.”
    Barry turned slightly dropping the knife so that it clattered noisily in the sink behind him. Then picking up the jam covered slice of bread off the plate on the counter, he slapped the two slices together. He took first one, then two, finally three quick and feral bites of his purloined sandwich. His eyes locked onto her all the while he chewed indecorously.
    “You’re taking food right out of my babies’ mouths. You know that don’t you, you son of a bitch.”
    Having inhaled nearly half the sandwich, Barry threw what was left back on the plate and began slowly licking his fingers. When he was done with the cat bath he leaned back against the counter, crossing his arms against his chess.
    “Come closer, Mags. I want to talk to you.”
    “I’m fine where I am.”
    They stood staring at each other for an indefinite time.
    Finally Barry, took two strides towards her so they were only a foot apart.
    “You shouldn’t be calling me names Mags. You know better. Especially not for no sandwich. Now see I had a present for you.” Barry took a long, tapered, relatively clean finger and rested it on Magdalena's puffy cheek, then dragged it down to her chin bypassing her lips, which were slightly open. “It was one you would have liked a lot but now I think I’m not in the mood to give it to you.”
    When he poked her in the chest with the same finger hard and fast she fell back several steps but didn’t go down. Grimacing and rubbing her hand along her chest where he’d made his point, her eyes watered. Then Barry turned on his heel heading out the door she’d come in.
    Yelling back over his shoulder as he left he said,“You can give the other half of my sandwich to one of your brats. I’m not hungry anymore.”

    1. What a scene you've set... and awesome conflict-building!

    2. Damn, agreed! This is super strong, and I love the way you lay out the subtle actions.

    3. What they said. I could see this being part of something bigger--something that would be fun and interesting to read. :D

    4. Wow, yes. It's powerful and authentic-feeling.

  34. Crap. Crap. Crap. Part of me wants to blame the world, but I know it’s really just my own fault. Why do I have to be so darn clumsy?!

    I know. I know. Accidents happen. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. It’s only money. Money I don’t really have at the moment, but I suppose I’ll live. My tablet’s keyboard won’t. It’s toast. It blinked its final goodbye as it drowned in luscious pineapple kombucha.

    RIP, my friend. Your replacement arrives tomorrow. At least I saved the tablet.

    (Hope to be back later after I clean up a bit. Or tomorrow.)

    1. Blame the world. The world deserves it. ;)

    2. "It blinked its final goodbye as it drowned in luscious pineapple kombucha."

      Such an elegant sentence for such a horrible circumstance. Glad the table was saved. And I agree with what JD said, blame the world-it deserves it. :D

    3. Damn. That sucks! And not just because it deprived us of another great flash piece!


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