Friday, October 7, 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.

Get back to your station! You have been deceived by the smell of wildflowers; it is as they predicted. You feel dizzy because of the color. The earth tones of your station will be soothing after that. Can't you see color is an assault? You didn't ask to feel this way. You are longing for the comfort of your too-old swivel chair. There's no shame in it. In fact, the one with the silver hair on his temples is damn impressed by your gumption. 

Damn impressed.

But you need to look at this rationally like we do. Sure, you're not allowed to listen to music anymore. And the taste rationing is hard - makes eating a chore. That's new, and that's rough. But what good was it doing you? None! It was filling your mind with trifles that distracted you from what was really important. And the food was bad because it felt good. Remember, if it feels good, it's probably some form of treachery. 


Here's a brand new headset. The last one was broken - no - I don't care how it was broken. We're just going to overlook that, OK? And you can leave one hour early today. The man with the silver hairs wants you to go home and relax. Plug into your soothebox. Put your velvet eye-mask on. Retreat into darkness.

There's no shame in retreat. 


#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...

89 comments:

  1. Sigh.... too accurate... and well-written, as always.

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    1. A little glimpse of a possible future. You warn us, like a prophet of the dark, but there's nowhere to run...

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    2. Ah, but with sensory deprivation...that's when imagination runs rampant and really weird things start to happen, isn't it? ;)

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    3. So BraveNewWorld meets the Twilight Zone. Awesome!

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    4. And the food was bad because it felt good. Remember, if it feels good, it's probably some form of treachery.
      Love that, especially. Creepy, but great. I like things that make me think; make me worry. They remind me that I still have that right and option.

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  2. A cuticle of moon hung in the morning sky; Venus was but a freckle on dawn's countenance, and Mars was nowhere in sight. One star fell, bright and fast.

    I was getting too old for this, for all of this. It started as a hobby, then became a calling, and from there it grew to obsession. The makeup took longer and longer to apply, because of aging fingers, and because it had much more to hide. I got smiles at the beginning, and then looks of pity. What sort of man dresses up in his forties?
    The sort of man I am. Whatever sort that is.

    I changed clothes before the sun arose, before the light showed my face, my body. The dark let me pretend. I looked once in the mirror, tried a grin, and then I looked away. I stood up straight, unafraid of who I was, of who I am. Picking up the car keys, I glanced at the map. Where was I performing today? A school. That might be fun. Ah, the everyday joys of being a clown. Oops. Almost forgot the knife.

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    1. We seem to be setting a theme for the day, you and I. Your piece is much creepier than mine, I think, though I may have more potential for horror. What do you think?

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    2. Totally unexpected, and totally creepy. I loved it!

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    3. Yeah, caught me off guard. Man, I hate clowns. ;) This, however, I like. And this: "The makeup took longer and longer to apply, because of aging fingers, and because it had much more to hide."

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    4. Love it. I heard you have a clown situation over there at the mo. This is great and the ending caught me out. I thought he was gonna be a transvestite or a vamp! Have a joke for you: if assaulted by clowns, go for the juggler!

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    5. Thanks and very funny, Vickie!

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    6. Yikes! You're too nice to be creepy clown. I liked it.

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    7. This is great, made moreso by the subtle twist at the end. You do that so well.

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  3. "Roger, honey? What's wrong?" Sherrie was worried, now. Her husband had been curled up on the floor beneath the bay window in the breakfast nook all night. She had put a blanket around his shoulders before she had gone to bed. She hadn't been able to talk him out of his vigil at the window.

    The sun was coming up and it was time to get the kids ready for school and for him to get ready for work. "what's that you're saying, Roger? I can't quite hear you."

    she knelt down next to him on the floor, where she could hear better.

    "Can't sleep, clowns will get me. Can't sleep, clowns will get me..." He just kept repeating himself over and over again. She definitely did not like the sound of that.

    Sherrie ran a hand over his head, loving yet again the soft curls that grew there. Poor man was taking this stupid clown stuff too seriously. She would call in for him and get the kids onto the bus, then she would come back with a little something to relax him.

    A little while later, after heading the kids off from the kitchen and giving them money to get both breakfast and lunch at the school, she saw them onto the school bus. coming back into the house she went straight to the parental pot stash to pick up a pre-rolled joint and the lighter that was perpetually in the little box. She lit up, took a deep drag, and replaced the lighter.

    This should help Roger to calm down a little, if not to sleep.

    She had to wave the joint back and forth in front of his eyes before he blinked and looked at her. shivering, he reached for the little psuedo-cigarette. She pushed his hand down and held the joint to his lips. He took a shallow pull, coughed a little, then took a deeper drag. When he exhaled it was with a sigh, one last shudder running through him before he started calming down.

    "Roger, honey, I called your boss. You're in no shape to go in todya. Why don't you come to bed?"

    He shot a fear filled look out the window, but the sun was rising and the shadows had retreated for the day. He looked back at Sherrie and nodded.

    She helped him up off the floor and to the bedroom. She took another drag as she started to undress him, handing the joint over so he could hold it himself. When he was finally naked, she pulled back the covers to tuck him in. He patted hand on her side of the bed, getting that special look in his eye. There was nothing urgent going on, so with a little giggle she stripped down and joined him under the covers.

    They finished off the joint, dropping the roach in the ashtray by the bed. This was that new batch of hydroponic pot, and it seemed to be having quite an effect on both of them.

    Roger rose above her in a more aggressive stance than was his way, and when he fell upon her, it was not with lust in his mind.

    * * *

    "Breaking news: Two children in Westland Hills arrived home today to discover the bodies of their parents at home. The children have been taken into protective custody pending contact of next of kin. The parents were found in their own bedroom, and in the words of one investigating detective, 'shredded'. More information is expected to be available at 5 o'clock."

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    1. Eek! You win the horror contest! This is a very cool piece!

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    2. Reefer madness, for sure. You've certainly piqued my interest!

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    3. Eek indeed! Clowns? Like I'm not scared enough. What next? Mimes?

      "He shot a fear filled look out the window, but the sun was rising and the shadows had retreated for the day."

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    4. More creepy clowns but I enjoyed the build up and story and then the inevitable horror. Very cool.

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    5. I kinda want more, which is rare for me when a story raps up as well as this one does. Hate clowns, but this is great.

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    6. Oh, there will be more. This is a sample I jotted down for my NaNoWriMo project. Thank you all for the comments!

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  4. In the autumn that falls between life's summer and the winter of death, on some afternoons, a veil of gold is pulled back and memories stream through. It is such an afternoon today and I am caught up in a flurry of Monarch butterflies. I close my eyes and remember the feel of your eyelashes on my skin.

    We were young then, that October afternoon, our last year of high school, and we shed our inhibitions almost as quickly as we shed our jeans and sweaters. The contrast between your eyelashes and your day-old beard excited me, a sort of sweet and sour for the skin. We mapped the geography of our bodies, centimeter by centimeter, reveling in altitudes and valleys. The leaves of the trees crunched beneath us and the wind brought more down upon us, gold and crimson. There was an owl looking down at us, blinking, though whether from curiosity or at the noise we made, I still am not sure. Our inexperience and impatience and hunger left us too soon complete and spent, and when your lips touched mine and you whispered "thank you" I could not, would not know that this would be the only time. Surely we had earned forever.

    But the next morning, I found you, in your car, with once-red now-brown Rorschach blots on the inside of the car, and the gun in your lap. I stole the note you left for your parents and read it myself under the covers with a flashlight. You apologized for shaming them, not by the suicide, but by loving another boy. You did not write my name, but I saw it written there in blood, and I did not stop crying for a year.

    Every October, I come here, and when the leaves fall, they feel like eyelashes, your eyelashes, on my skin, until the golden veil falls back into place, putting the summer of life in the past, and death's winter falls like snow until I cannot move.

    Goddamn you.

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    1. Right in the feels, hard. The writing is so clean, the message so clear, the tickle of the eyelashes almost tangible.

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    2. Seriously, Leland, this is exquisite.

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    3. Jesus, man. You just broke my heart. Seriously - to think how many times this scene has played out...what is wrong with us that love could ever cause shame.

      The writing is clean and strong. And I love this: "The contrast between your eyelashes and your day-old beard excited me, a sort of sweet and sour for the skin."

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    4. That's beautiful Leland. Unexpected but still gripping and yet tender.

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    5. I hate being a dittohead, but they said it all.

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  5. The sun rose not yellow, not red, that morning. It was almost white, like the chalk they used on the boards in school, and the sky was almost slate gray, and that is how I knew you died.

    You stole the colors from the heavens, the same colors you brought into the world when first I met you, in that dorm room so many years ago. Until you, I did not know that laughter shimmered blue, or that love shined red.

    Our lives then, and since then, never quite came together. We were the jigsaw puzzle pieces that ought to fit together, but only did when you forced them. The passions were real, both in bed and in politics, but our eyes were always looking for tomorrow, and we looked in different directions. Getting together every few months, then every few years, the magic was there, but the realities of wives and boyfriends turned the fireworks into sparklers, nothing more.

    When, the last time, you showed me the picture of your daughter, I knew I had to stop seeing you. Too much risk, too much to lose. Not for me. For you. And you were too damned sure of yourself, sure that no one would suspect a thing. Which meant they would. And which meant the strongest thing, the best thing for you, for your family, for your daughter, was for me to walk away, and never look back.

    It was your wife who called me, who told me that cancer was stealing you away. I did not cry while we spoke, did not offer to come to see you, did not let myself imagine that this was the true end. I did not go to your funeral. I wept, I mourned, alone and far away.

    I read Shakespeare's sonnets for you until the tears wet the pages and then I recited them from memory, as I had so many times before, then Auden, then Baudelaire. When I was done, I looked into the gray sunset, and I wondered if one day, some day, color would be restored to the sky. I could not laugh, could not love, and so could not test my theory, the theory of color and you.

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    1. Oh, man - you're too good at this. I love the color. And this sentence is fucking epic: "We were the jigsaw puzzle pieces that ought to fit together, but only did when you forced them."

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    2. Slate gray and the red of love--such contrasts and feelings. I'm really impressed.

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  6. A followup to a piece I wrote last week, "(I Do Not Like) The Orange Man," I now present...

    (I DO NOT LIKE) THE OLD BLOND BITCH
    By Maggie Rascal (M.P. Witwer)

    Excuse me, sir, I hate to intrude
    But you're out in public and your shirt's rather rude
    I mean, it says, 'Life's a bitch - don't elect one'
    To deserve that, please tell me, what has she done?

    I just don't like her, lots of reasons why
    For one, get in her way and you're gonna die
    She's had people murdered time and again
    You don't need enemies if you count her as a friend
    And you just know she's gonna come for our guns
    Her, with that brain damage, that Parkinson's
    She gave nukes to Russia, and then to Iran
    And she's the one got our troops killed in Afghanistan
    She slept through Benghazi, laughed at child rape
    But she's got connections to get out of any scrape
    What about those emails? Millions of 'em hacked
    That ain't conjecture, it's a true fact

    Oh man, mister, you're on the wrong side of this fence
    What bolsters these claims? Not a shred of evidence
    Everything you've listed has been proven untrue
    On some level you must know they're all lies...don't you?

    No, they're the truth, it's all common knowledge
    Y'know, to be smart, you don't have to go to college
    You just have to stay informed on liberal insanity
    For instance, I never miss watching Sean Hannity
    She's taken lots of money from the Middle East and China
    But fembots like you'll choose her 'cause she's got a vagina
    I do not like that old blond bitch
    She just might be a genuine witch
    I do not like the way she cackles
    Man, that really raises my hackles
    I do not like her cheating on Bill
    Yeah, I know he cheated first, but still...

    It's clear that you don't like her, but actually,
    You still haven't explained it factually
    Your "reasons" are nothing but innuendo and hate
    How exactly will your guy make our country great?

    He's gonna kick out the terrorists and put up a wall
    Without all the riffraff, it'll be safer for us all
    When he's in power, he'll make America great
    Oh yes, it will happen, just you wait
    He'll tighten up that First Amendment, that "freedom of speech"
    All they use it for anyways is to tell lies and preach
    See, it's just not true that he made fun of gimps
    And didn't he tell the vets he'll help out the wimps?
    He truly cares about those weaklings with PTSD
    It's gonna be great, really great, just wait and see
    Ain't no question—between the pair,
    I'm for the brilliant billionaire!

    * * *
    © 2016 by M.P. Witwer • All rights reserved

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    1. Ohhhh.... Dr. Seuss goes to Washington... and there's horror here, too!

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    2. I enjoyed the original... and now I wonder if you're going to do one for Johnston and another for Stein?

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    3. No, they don't qualify for a Maggie Rascal treatment. I employ the same requirements as the debate organizers. ;)

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    4. Hmmm... Maybe Vladimir Putin? :-)

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    5. Man. If Phil Ochs were still alive...

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    6. So clever and quite a topic so brilliantly depicted with rhyme. Amazing.

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  7. Some people never learn to love hate. Some people sit silently and contemplate. Some people worry about being early. And, still, they always show up late.

    I'm not one of any of you kinds of people. I'm done with the whole scheme, rhyme and otherwise. You got problems. We got problems. Fool, we can all sympathize.

    You wanna call me out because I did something I said I wouldn't? I can't control the rhymes, and I feel like I shouldn't. I'll sit like an old Grandpa's rocker. Straight wooden. You go on being blasphemy and epiphany, a warm spoon in cold butterscotch pudding.

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    1. Oh yeah, the last line. I'm imagining that pudding.:)

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  8. He didn't see it coming. How one decision could turn into one night could turn into weeks of regret and a lifetime of checks written to a woman he barely knew in the first place. He should have seen it, but he was blinded. It's a tragedy. But not for him. Money's cheap. Growing up without a dad, that's something you pay for your whole life.

    And his son didn't get a choice. He just appeared and thought it weird. Why did all the other kids have dads and he didn't? And then he met her. And they became friends. And they got older. And he made a choice that led to a decision that led to internal crisis and public derision. They all saw a boy with broken dreams. A scholarship and a contract, unraveling at the seams.

    He saw himself a father, because he knew what it could mean. And the scholarship did fly, and the mansion never came. But he raised a man better than him with only a ghost to blame.

    There is redemption. Sometimes.

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    1. How you write... the tension, the drama, the resolution... all in such short paragraphs and rhymes... I stand in awe.

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    2. So much emotion in three short paragraphs. Such a gift!

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  9. The struggle is real. It is primetime on a major network and I’m at such a loss on how to change the trajectory of this seedy little drama I feel completely beside myself. I’m known for my ability to give great advice and damn, if I don’t feel completely stymied for the first time in my exceedingly well-managed life. Okay, so my life is only sort of well-managed, but I kick ass in managing other people’s lives. Ask anybody.

    The thing is I could handle it. Myself, I mean. Quickly, quietly and to great effect. There’d be blood on the walls, floors, and windows afterwards but I can clean shit up when I have to. I’ve done it plenty of times.

    It’s just that sometimes the rats are as real as the struggle to deal with them. To keep order and sanity at a premium sometimes maiming and killing is the only answer against the truly slimy and infectious.

    Is this a murderous offense? Naw, maybe not. Definitely not. Hanging is too good for some rats. Exposure can bring a kind of fresh hell but that’s only good if the rat is scared of being found out to begin with. The creepiest is the rat that enjoys the idea of that shit. You know the kind I mean.

    I don’t like rats so I haven’t met a lot of them on a first name basis. Basically I see them or they see me then usually we instinctively head in opposite directions, like two divergent forces reflecting and bouncing hard off each other… for fucking ever. A kind of bank shot in reverse for good versus evil bad asses.

    I’ve met very few rats scared of anything actually, which is why putting their lights out comes to mind in the first place. That’s what really pisses me off. Obliteration is not really my thing. I hate playing snuff films in my mind.

    Generally speaking I’m a damn pacifist.

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    1. Fascinating structure... and I think the story lies in the denials... well done!

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    2. Agreed. I love this piece. The voice is so strong. "I hate playing snuff films in my mind." Fucking mad power.

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    3. I've met some rats and they usually bury themselves. This is strong even if the character is a pacifist. :)

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    4. Quite the psychological profile you have built here.

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  10. The eyes behind the mask looked sympathetic. Or at least that was what I’d hoped. I would hated to have been executed by someone who bore me a grudge.

    The public executioner shrugged, his hands large and sure in their business. The rope was already hanging between us, its noose already formed and waiting. The loop had been pulled over-large, so as to aid him in his duty. He’d only had to slip it over my face and to then pull it tight, so as to be sure that it wouldn’t slip, prolonging my death beyond what had been judged humane. And then a further pull upon the pulley rope, raising the block that the ropes were looped about so I’d not be able to escape when he released me, readying himself to pull the lever opening the hatch I was standing on.

    It was a cold morning in February, one of the first to bring ice to the puddles. Today I’d woken in my cell to see my breaths hanging in the air in front of me, reluctant to dissipate as though they knew they were my last few. I’d ignored the jug and the crackers I’d been left for my breakfast; the water chilled to almost freezing and the dry biscuits unappetising to me in my current state of mind. I’d enjoyed my ‘last’ meal last night when the press had been there, the photographer keen to capture me with a wry smile on my face while I was raising the fork to my mouth. Another one of the things they never tell you when you’re sentenced. And they say that crime never pays.

    The woman that had taken my tray away had spat at me. She’d been the one to bring it in earlier, silent then but more vocal now, not satisfied with humiliating me further and then befouling the food I wouldn’t have eaten whatever she’d done to it. Maybe she thought I’d become less than human that moment that the judge had sentenced me. I was never going to live to complain about her behaviour and even if I did, who would care? Nobody.

    And now the last man I’d see nodded, apologetically looping the rope about my face. The winch mechanism ticked and the noose grew tight and for a moment I struggled, my hands gripping at each other as I tried to loosen my bonds. It was far too much to hope for: there was no chance for me now.

    The trap door opened beneath me and suddenly I felt light...

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    1. Well told... I could almost feel the rope around my own neck...

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    2. Word. And 'suddenly I felt light' is so good. The feeling, the double meaning - perfect close.

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    3. You paint a vivid picture. The breath that didn't want to dissipate was my favorite--as if they know....

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  11. You could tell by the sound. Just that one dark thud, and you knew Dee was never going to be the way he used to be. Swinging cigarette from the thick forearm tree. Still, they told you to have hope, find a way to cope. They didn't tell you there's a reason they call it dope.

    You nod your head and try not to hear the sound, but it's there. Dead. That was the sound. You raise an imaginary finger - time for another round. But it's empty in your apartment, brain, life - you've given all and embraced the strife.

    What choice did you have?

    You could have stopped it. You could have said, 'hey this is too dangerous' - let's find a way to rearrange this. You could have stepped up, but you stepped down, diverting death like a rodeo clown. But it found Dee and made short work of both of y'all.

    The pavement doesn't give a shit about skulls.

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  12. It

    She heard it seeking the lost through the rain-drenched leaves of the glistening trees; its thoughts snaking, eeling their way, seeping down the moss-soaked bark, long peeled to its bones. Whispering, telling tales it only heard yesterday. Missing things. Confusing the substance, the essence and the hollow. This word. This tongue. This phrase. This curiosity. She peered inside, where the skin separated, stretched taught, begging to break. It lay there, unsuspecting, never guessing she would recognise it, inside, here in this dark seclusion. At the heart of things – the place it called home. Lost inside its dried-up hide, it watched. Unable to shift again or utter a syllable, it waited forlorn in the depth of silence. Yet she heard the echoes of its mind as she tore back the last layers of bark.

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    1. Eerie... spooky... and good to have you here! I miss reading your words!

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    2. Ditto that. Good to see your words again. ;) And this piece is all kinds of confusing - in a brilliant way.

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    3. Cheers, JD. I think it's cos it's late. I don't think what I'm gonna write before I start, so it's a jumble :) Hopefully everyone will see something different.

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    4. I don't think either. Which is why I can't stop rhyming. But, tis the spirit of 2minutesgo, eh?

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    5. I see a Halloween story and look forward to reading more!

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  13. I like the smell of new tires. Don't know why, and I don't care. Gasoline, same deal. I'm not huffing it from a rag with shit-stained drawers around my ankles, but I dig it. Some people want to smell like patchouli. I'd rather smell like WD-40.

    I like the way a nine volt battery sparks the tongue - have since I was young.

    I like things that make me angry. I like books that make me cry. I like women who want to hurt me. I hate everybody sometimes. I fucking did my time - paid for my crimes. And I've been places where the smell is a sickness you can't escape, so get the fuck away from me.

    Yeah, I know it's your job, and the blue vest is real intimidating, but you can't shoplift fumes, you dumbfuck.

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  14. Wind from the west has a slight chill to it this evening. Can you smell the woodsmoke? Leaves in the old elm out front are still green, but a few rebels have gone red and orange. Soon they'll be yellow. Then they'll be gone.

    If you listen, you can hear the children next door arguing over Jack-o-lantern designs and what they want to be, come the 31st. Neighborhood boys, some of them bad at being good, and others good at being bad, hum past on bikes. The kid out front of the pack is leaning right and left, almost laying his bike down with every shove of the pedals.

    I'm standing on the porch. Smoking my pipe. The rich, sweet aroma of tobacco floats about my head, hiding me in its bluish fog.

    I love this time of year. Another few weeks and America's youth will be knocking on doors and singing their demands. "Trick or treat!" Some of them will say thanks. Some of them won't. Some of them might even mention how much they miss Old Man Anderson.

    I drift inside, through the door. Old Man Anderson is at his kitchen table, stringing together plastic purple bats and orange pumpkins with yellow features. When I enter the room, he stops and lays his decorations down. He clutches his chest. He looks up. Sees me and frowns.

    "Not now. Not before Halloween."

    I nod.

    "Oh, but-" is all he gets out before his head thunks down onto the table.

    Ethereal and vastly more see-through than he was moments prior, Old Man Anderson follows me outside, where we share a pipe and our favorite stories of Octobers past. He tells me he'll miss the kids coming around. I tell him that he will be missed.

    "What comes next?" he asks with a genuine smile.

    "Oh, I think I'll leave that as a surprise."

    "I'd like to stay a moment longer. Watch the sun set."

    "If you wish," I say.

    "Yes. Yes, I think that would be nice."

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    1. Man, I love the way this one blooms and fades. The soft touch at the ending works perfectly. And I'm so glad you came by! Every week I secretly curse you when you don't. ;)

      Halloween! Lorn! Trick or treat.

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    2. Yeah, I don't always get to play. Fridays are busy. It's always a pleasure when I can. ;)

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  15. Hindsight is everything

    Fred didn’t see it coming. Just one step into the breeze, followed by the ache beyond the everything. In between, this is a stage in things, this walking into nothing. The story is probably as old as the haunted-looking blonde dog, always loitering behind the Cod and Parrot. The sign never stopped creaking in the draught.

    If he’d known, he would have told her he loved her at least five times as soon as he’d opened his eyes. He would have made the bed, plumped the pillows, swept his clothes off the floor, leaving everything straight, true and tidy. Maybe even left a note.

    He would have read the best sections of the paper first, skipping the politics, the bad news, the poor unlucky sods, all that staid stuff. He would have munched on a feast of fried eggs, loaded with butter, cloaked in bacon, poked with sausages, rather than honorific lukewarm porridge. And he would have punched Sid bloody bollocks face, in vengeance for his betrayal two decades back, rather than passing him without a word as always, stone-cold expression fixed.

    As for the cocky fucker bus driver who never stopped for him, the old geezer who fiddled the race books or Missus Mash-up who kicked her poodle and picked her nose in public, well… A relative hitman he might have been this morning, hurtling forth with the force of karma. His halo may have slipped a little or rolled completely off, but he would have made peace with the world. If only he’d seen it coming before it hit.

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    1. OK. I like every single bit of this. Deadly.

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    2. Thanks :)))) I had fun with this one :) Okay, I need to get my ass in gear. This is the only time I'm writing lately.

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    3. My god, I just read the story on your timeline and it starts with the same sentence. Jinx! I honestly hadn't read it, and I sometimes take a line, and say I did as a prompt, but I seriously hadn't seen it! Spook!

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  16. Radio? You want to listen to the radio? What? You're a hundred years old? Jesus. The fucking radio? You want a car you gotta crank, too? How about some horehound to suck on? What, your Victrola broke?

    Me? I'm on the cutting edge. I think. The cutting edge changes so fast. Is Snapchat still what the kids are into? What the fuck is a mix tape?

    Look. Give me my pipe and my old-fashioned sideburns. Let me have my Buddy Holly horn rims and my vintage windbreaker. Why are there so many gears on my hat? WHY ARE THERE SO MANY GEARS ON MY HAT?!?! Fuck you, old man. Go listen to your radio.

    I've got some podcasts to catch up on.

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    1. This had me dying laughing. You rock, Dan.

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    2. made me laugh, too... and yeah, I still like radio and mixtapes
      Does the hat have a reverse gear?

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  17. I might be sucking bandwith Part One
    PT 2 to come... and comments, of course...

    Max Quigley just wasn’t the kind to believe in the afterlife. When you were dead you were and that’s all there was to it.
    But it was the kind of October, that particular year, when even the bravest of the crickets were still singing toward Halloween and the tinge of red in the moon could make a man think some things he’d never thought about before.
    Take Lois, for instance. Max was out in the vast backyard of the midcentury ranch they’d bought to downsize when the kids were gone, setting daffodil and tulip bulbs in a raised bed he’d built himself off to the side. He didn’t like gardening much himself, but it was the kind of thing left to him since his retirement and he figured it was something to do with his time.
    It was then, in the twilight, that he’d first heard Lois murmuring in the basement through the still-open window to his left. She was down there doing laundry and while he supposed she had as much a right to chuckle as anyone, the sound of it made him oddly suspicious, as though she was in on a joke he didn’t understand. Then, in the next moment, he’d pulled up a bone from the earth and thrown it over the next door fence, figuring he hit on the grave of some old dog.
    When she giggled for real, right out loud, he decided he’d had enough of setting bulbs for that day.
    He made his way to the kitchen where a pot of soup was on the stove, washed his hands and popped a beer, satisfied that he could settle himself in front of Jeopardy before dinner, as was his routine. But the sounds of her murmurs continued beneath him, making him frown. It was as though she had a secret, or some friend at her side. And though he knew that both couldn’t possibly be true, the soft, muffled, almost sexual tone that wafted up from below him was unsettling in a way he could not identify.
    At the commercial he could stand it no longer. He got another beer and called to her from the top of the stairs. “Lois? You got the radio on or something?”
    She merged from the shadows, laundry basket on her hip, mounting the stairs easily, her face flushed and looking somehow younger than she had just hours ago.
    “Oh, Max! You’ll never believe this!” she said in way that made him recoil. “I do believe we’ve got us a ghost in the basement!”
    He stared at her, being careful to close his mouth. Alzheimer’s was his first thought. It’s come to this, goddamn it.
    Lois settled the neatly folded basket of clothes on the kitchen table. For a sick woman, she looked pretty good. Younger, even, than she had in years.
    “Excited, she made a helpless gesture. “I was just down there with the Maytag, you know, doing my thing. And he was like a voice in my head. Max it was amazing! He spoke right into my mind! Said his name was Lars something. Isn’t that astonishing?”
    Max licked his lips and ran his thumb over the condensation on the can. It was cold and reassuring somehow. He’d always known Lois to be superstitious, of course. Once, he caught her, throwing perfectly good salt over her left shoulder, and another time, talking to a black cat. When she’d hung rosaries over the children’s beds, he’d never stopped her. He’d figured it was just something women did.
    “There is no such thing as ghosts,” he said after due consideration.
    Her eyes hardened briefly, and she looked away to see to the soup. “I beg to differ. And I should have known better than to mention it. But this isn’t the first time I’ve talked to him, Max. Lars built this house. He told me. And I looked in the rec room, where he said to look. He burned his initials into the paneling. Lars Peterson. You can see for yourself. You could even look it up, I bet.”
    Her gaze drifted suddenly away, upward, toward where the shadows were gathering in the corner of the room. And a slow smile traced its way across her face.

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  18. At the commercial he could stand it no longer. He got another beer and called to her from the top of the stairs. “Lois? You got the radio on or something?”
    She merged from the shadows, laundry basket on her hip, mounting the stairs easily, her face flushed and looking somehow younger than she had just hours ago.
    “Oh, Max! You’ll never believe this!” she said in way that made him recoil. “I do believe we’ve got us a ghost in the basement!”
    He stared at her, being careful to close his mouth. Alzheimer’s was his first thought. It’s come to this, goddamn it.
    Lois settled the neatly folded basket of clothes on the kitchen table. For a sick woman, she looked pretty good. Younger, even, than she had in years.
    “Excited, she made a helpless gesture. “I was just down there with the Maytag, you know, doing my thing. And he was like a voice in my head. Max it was amazing! He spoke right into my mind! Said his name was Lars something. Isn’t that astonishing?”
    Max licked his lips and ran his thumb over the condensation on the can. It was cold and reassuring somehow. He’d always known Lois to be superstitious, of course. Once, he caught her, throwing perfectly good salt over her left shoulder, and another time, talking to a black cat. When she’d hung rosaries over the children’s beds, he’d never stopped her. He’d figured it was just something women did.
    “There is no such thing as ghosts,” he said after due consideration.
    Her eyes hardened briefly, and she looked away to see to the soup. “I beg to differ. And I should have known better than to mention it. But this isn’t the first time I’ve talked to him, Max. Lars built this house. He told me. And I looked in the rec room, where he said to look. He burned his initials into the paneling. Lars Peterson. You can see for yourself. You could even look it up, I bet.”
    Her gaze drifted suddenly away, upward, toward where the shadows were gathering in the corner of the room. And a slow smile traced its way across her face.
    “Stop it! Goddammit! Lois? What the hell’s got into you?”
    She blushed, coming back to herself. “ Never mind.” She offered, quietly. I never should have tried to tell you. I knew you wouldn’t understand. You ready for some soup?”
    “I guess I ain’t hungry” Max said. “I’m going out for awhile. Don’t wait up.”
    And oblivious to the blue gathering shadows and the song of the bravest of crickets and the promise of moonlight behind the clouds, he drove the half mile to Corcoran’s bar. Where a man could have his beer in peace and restore his sense of the real.
    After he’d ordered, his friend from the factory, Bill Gibbons, slid up on the next barstool, his cheeks flushed and his eyes a watery alcoholic blue. “How’s it hanging, boyo?” he asked.
    “Not hanging,” Max answered. “Shrunk up like it’s below zero and the jewels along with it.”
    “What’s going on?”
    “Lois is talking crazy. Tells me our house is fucking haunted. I heard her, Bill, down in the basement giggling like a girl with somebody she calls Lars Petersen. Big as you please. Says he’s a ghost and he built the place. It’s MY goddamned house, okay? And there ain’t no such thing as ghosts.”

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  19. Bill reached out and squeezed his shoulder. “Calm down, man. Is it her time of life, maybe? Women go all kinds of crazy when that happens. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”
    “We’re way past that. I’m thinking, dementia? Alzheimer’s? Shit, we’re only 65, and suddenly she’s talking to herself and seeing goddamned ghosts! What do I do now? Call a doctor? Some sorta priest?”
    Bill Thought hard about it and downed the last of his whiskey. “How did she look? When she told you, I mean? Was she scared?”
    “Shit NO! That’s the weirdest part. I swear to God, Bill. She fucking looked twenty years younger!”
    Bill blinked, thing hard.
    Max thumped the bar with the flat of his hand. “She looked like she looked, back when we were new, y’know? Like when we were in love.”
    Bill breathed heavily, audible even above the thump of the jukebox in the corner.
    Well-“ he said, downing the last of his whiskey. “I know nothing of women. But if you’re seeing that? How bad would it, really? I mean, if a ghost makes her feel that, why not let him have her?”
    Max shoved a twenty onto the bar. “You’re as crazy as she is, you know that?”
    But it is true of this thing we call Nature. Even in the autumn, even in the Fall, seeds can take root in the strangest of places, as it did, that evening, lodging in the cracks between the concrete blocks that formed Max Quigley’s imagination.
    So when they found them both, just before Christmas, after the storm that went through, Max and Lois Quigley were drowned in the foot of water that covered that basement floor. And the pilot light on their water heater gave no flame at all, just a perpetual hiss that sounds like a whisper and the faintest stench of sulfur.
    In the rec room, the initials LR still stand, burned into the cypress by one man’s hand.

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    1. This is a really cool piece. Lots of twists and turns. Just the right level of mystery.

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  20. “Do you miss me?” she asked me tonight.

    "Of course I miss you. How could I not?” I said.

    “How much do you miss me?” she asked in that way women ask questions they wrap around emotion-tripped IEDs. They’ll look at you with an expression of expectation that your answer will bring the sensitive revelation they crave from you. Guys seek yes or no. Black or white. Click or boom. Maybe with a spot of gray-scale adjectival variance for comparison purposes only.

    I sighed and said, "I miss you more than I ever thought this man could miss another, with more tears than any ocean could hold, with the lonesome chill of a blanketless night on a new moon prairie.”

    “Then smile,” she said. “C’mere, I’m still here.”

    I opened my eyes and scanned the room, reached for her empty pillow beside me, pressing my hand to it, warming and denting it as if her head still did.

    I rested my face upon the momentary warmth and inhaled the vague aroma of her still left to me.

    “Yes you are,” I said, and went back to sleep.

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    1. Oof. That one got me right in the chest. Your aim is true, brother.

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  21. "What do you get the guy who has it all?" Harley asked herself while perusing uninspired ties. "This place doesn't have it, that's for damn sure."

    She was almost at her car when her phone emitted his ringtone. Harley answered on the second ring.

    "Heya, Puddin', how ya doin'?" she asked while she got into the driver's seat.

    "Where are you?" was the only reply she got. Typical.

    "Mr. J, Christmas is coming," she said. "I'm shoppin'."

    "If you want to get me something for that stupid holiday, bring me a bat," he snapped. "Meanwhile, get your ass back here. I didn't give you permission to leave."

    "Yes, puddin'," Harley muttered. He never gave her permission to leave. That was what made shopping for him so hard.

    ***
    "I got ya something I think you're gonna' love, Puddin'," Harley chirped weeks later. "A real treasure."

    "How many times do I have to tell you that I only want the Bat," Joker snarled. "Unless you got me the Bat, I have no interest, you stupid girl."

    "I didn't get you the Bat," she said, playing at being crestfallen. Then she hit the light switch and let him see her captive. "But I did get you A bat," she finished.

    Batgirl struggled against the bonds that held her to Harley's bed. The woman was naked, tied, and gagged. Her eyes filled with horrified understanding when they took in Joker and Harley.

    "Merry Christmas, baby," Harley half-sang.

    "She's not dead," he observed in a bored voice.

    "No," Harley agreed. She stripped off her clothes on the way to her bed, grinning maniacally at Batgirl. "But she'll wish she was by the time I'm done with her. Have a seat and enjoy the show, Puddin'."

    Joker chuckled and did as his girl asked. He kept chuckling as sounds of horror turned to sounds of horror mixed with strangled pleasure.

    "Best Christmas present, yet, baby," he said, but only when he knew she couldn't hear it for the noise her bedmate was making.

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    1. I want more! I want backstory! Or I might just need to read more comics. Dope piece.

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    2. You captured the characters so well that I read this in the proper voices without a hitch. My voice box was twisting to read it again in the proper Harley voice. Oh, that was delightful!

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  22. I was really hoping you would read this, Cat. The concept got stuck in my head days ago, but I had to get it out here, where it's safe. I'm overjoyed (and kinda shocked) that a fan, especially of Harley, likes it.

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