Friday, October 28, 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.

Still too sick to play. Have at it. 

#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...

40 comments:

  1. Darn, Dan. I hope the medics are helping you control the pain. Best wishes, crossed fingers and prayers to your from snow-scrimmed upstate New York.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Feel better, boss... we'll try to entertain you if you can bear to read...

      Delete
    2. Here's hoping you stop in here to find the blog broken and lots of entertaining things to read while you convalesce!

      Delete
  2. Never fall for a cowboy. They'll break your heart every time. The rodeo cowboy type is the worst. They figure you'll know they can't stick around, but you always hope this one will be different, but they never are.

    You think their belt buckles should have warnings, instead of all that silver plate: "contents may be habit forming or hazardous to emotional health, or maybe a picture of a broken heart in place of the Ws stitched on the pockets of their Wranglers.

    They strut, they don't walk, and you try to figure out whether it's their boots or all the time they spend in the saddle. You know that when he falls from the bull in the arena and breaks his ass, he'll call his horse's name before he calls yours, if he even remembers it.

    And when the next cowboy comes into the smoky bar, you know all these things, and you still buy him a drink. And when the jukebox plays "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" you ignore it, and by morning, you learn it all over again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Damn, brother, we did it again! Both referencing country songs this time. This place is freaky! :)

      Delete
    2. LOL, Dan brings out the best in both of us....

      Delete
    3. "contents may be habit forming" - this one phrase sums it up for me. You've written this as if from experience.

      Delete
  3. When the carny month of October begins descending into November and from there to the passing of the year, it will play the bait and switch with your spirit.

    The trees don their autumn raiment, turning from lively greens to gleaming golds, bleeding reds and sunburst oranges, only to fly away with your polychromatic joy in windblown death spirals of russet and fawn.

    Today, October’s grifting insult bordered on injury, shouldering a shivering chill from the north armed with a hybrid ammunition where the temperature’s too cold for rain and too warm for snow.

    It’s as if the clouds are spitting with derision upon your windshield as you drive by the sad maples and oaks, drooping in their now-tattered costumes like stranded and drenched Mardi Gras revelers, the detritus of autumn at their feet. It’s as if they know the Ash Wednesday of this year is upon us all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gorgeous, evocative language... beautiful!

      Delete
    2. Yeah, not easy finding new ways to describe fall and the seasons in general, but you nailed it!

      Delete
    3. I can't pick just one bit of imagery to quote and compliment you on. It's all good, and quite evocative of how most people see the change from fall fun into winter's drab misery.

      Delete
  4. Once or twice in a lifetime, you see someone you just gotta know. Something in the eyes. Something in your hear. Kindred spirits reaching out over the chaos of time. Sometimes you act on it, and sometimes you run away.

    Edward was one I couldn't run away from. The green of his eyes and his red hair, and a crooked smile with perfect teeth. So I walked up to him at the counter of the coffee shop and said hi.

    He was doing something with his phone and said nothing back to me. My failure meter was pegged and I felt like an idiot.

    I said a quiet sorry and backed away. He looked up and grabbed my hand. Okay, maybe my failure meter moved down a notch, but now I wondered if he was, you know, a little crazy, and I shouldn't have chosen the run away option. He dropped my hand and returned to working his phone for a second or two, then held its screen up to my face.

    "I'm deaf," the screen spelled out. And I was feeling my failure meter go all the way down to zero. I smiled, he smiled back, I put my hands on his phone and he let me take it. I put my name phone number in his address book, handed it back to him, and then pulled my phone out of my pocket. He looked puzzled. I over exaggerated my pronunciation of "text me," hoping he read lips. He nodded and did just that. He gestured for me to sit down.

    And thus began the weirdest first date I ever had. We were sitting across from each other, alternately texting and looking into each other's eyes. And wearing ridiculously goofy grins.

    He texted that he had to get back to his office. I texted that I wanted to walk him back to his office.

    We got to the crosswalk, staring at each other. The walk light came on, and we started to cross. I heard a car horn, looked up, and saw Edward follow my gaze. In that split second, the honking car hit him. His phone was on the pavement, smashed. The red of his blood was not the same red as his hair, and there was a lot of it.

    If I ever get that feeling again, I'm running. If I'd run instead of meeting him, he'd have left earlier.

    It's better for soul mates to be apart and live than together and die.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, I'm still stunned. Beautiful and bittersweet.

      Delete
  5. Frances woke.

    Today was her first day at work since her procedure and she was understandably nervous. The other men in the office had been lukewarm with her, none of them understanding how she felt. It was to be expected of course: she was different to them in almost every way. Even before she'd decided to explain her feelings to Tom – the person she felt most inclined to share her personal thoughts with – there'd been a division between her and the others; her interests being different to theirs for the most part. Even when she had a common interest – football for example – the quality of her appreciation of it was different. Of course she loved the game as much as any of them, but to her there was a grace and physicality too; the relentless memorisation of statistics leaving her cold. Of course that all changed when she told him her news; it was as though she'd rejected him and the rest of them and even the most innocent of interactions suddenly became suspect.

    They just didn't know how to act with her.

    Of course, it wasn't just the men she had problems with. The other women felt awkward too. For a while her manager had treated her as before, refusing to see her as a problem. It had been the other men that had brought matters to head though; either feeling uncomfortable or waiting until she'd returned to her desk before taking their turn in the bathroom. But then there'd been that time both of the cubicles had been in use and Hargreaves from accounts couldn't wait any longer. She'd been transitionary then, of course, but the man had been loathsome in the way he'd behaved. He'd had to use the sink, he'd claimed, saying also that she shouldn't have been there and that the ladies was where she should have been. And then he'd complained to her manager, demanding that she should be disciplined and that she should be compelled to use the women's facilities next door.

    But even that wasn't as easy as she'd thought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Taking the simplest of functions--going to the restroom--and finding the tension... well done.

      Delete
    2. Handled sensitively and in such an understated way it has more resonance. Kudos for writing about this, Mark.

      Delete
  6. Before joining a fight of consequence, you must know what you believe and why, and you must have at least a reasonable chance of winning.

    That's what Tony learned that night. He was drunk. And high. And he had no idea why he was at odds with the guy. He remembered stepping into the alley. He didn't remember if he was the one who asked or if the guy in the leather jacket asked him. He was glad they didn't come to fisticuffs inside Rosa's bar. He liked Rosa, and didn't want to mess her place up.

    He vaguely remembered the guy asking him why he was looking at him so hard. He didn't answer right away. Mistake number one was punished by a blow to his solar plexus. Leather jacket guy asked again.

    Tony answered, "Because you're hot." Mistake number two resulted in Tony's arm being twisted behind his back till he was ready to cry.

    "Seriously?" asked leather jacket guy.

    "Seriously."

    Mistake number three turned out not to be a mistake at all. Leather jacket guy released his arm.

    "I got a little brother who's gay. You shoulda just come out with it."

    "Does he look like you?"

    "Naw, he's got muscles."

    And that's how I met Johnny. Sometimes fights turn out okay, even if you break all the rules. That was seventeen years ago. And yeah, Johnny's brother came to the wedding in his leathers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, brilliant! Perfectly timed in terms of how you release each piece of information, how each moment of tension gets unexpectedly resolved.

      Delete
    2. What David said! Very well done.

      Delete
  7. He sat alone in front of his laptop, in a room full of people. The mug of coffee close to his hand, a sinuous stream of heat spiraling upward, provided no warmth. Ode to Joy drifted melodiously in the background, yet he felt none. Low murmurs of conversations surrounded him, but he heard not a whisper.

    His mind was full of thoughts but none would coalesce. He stared at the blank page on his computer screen, realizing how devoid was his life.  So many missed opportunities, chances he'd told himself to take, emboldened for a time, but ultimately hadn't. A toe edging over the precipice, only to draw himself back. True, he'd been afraid of falling, but in guarding himself so carefully, he'd kept himself from flying.

    And since words were his life's blood, he went into his files, looked over all the stories, tales and notes, crafted so lovingly over lo these many years. His babies, his darlings, rereading those he thought his best efforts but this time derived no pleasure from them. Simply words he'd thrown upon the screen, relatively few had read them and he wondered when his time came, how many would remember him for much longer than it took to peruse those words. Would he be ultimately forgotten, fading in the fullness of time?

    He'd intended to leave a mark, but in haste had pushed those who held him in highest regard away. Those who had embraced his words in awe, hugging them close to their hearts. Ones who had understood, appreciated the nuances. But had he misunderstood a situation and jumped to a false conclusion? Overthought and weighed them culpable? Some had done nothing more than encourage him, inspire him but in his doubt and angst, he'd chased them away.

    The evening wore on, false revery perpetuated by cumbersome companions until finally, mercifully, he could extract himself. Home, to once again open his laptop, to stare at that blank page. His fingers moved but quickly stilled. The darkened room was bathed in a garish light as he squinted, looking at the solitary word emblazoned on his screen:

                                                    ALONE

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohhhh.... I like this a lot... and I identify with that writer!

      Delete
    2. Thank you Leland. I've been encouraged and inspired by some of the best.

      Delete
    3. Excellent character study! I love this: "...he'd been afraid of falling, but in guarding himself so carefully, he'd kept himself from flying." I love the balance of your sentences.

      Delete
    4. Thank you, David. The whole idea formed from the idea of that balance and the failure of the subject to maintain it.

      Delete
    5. I think you have touched on all of us who are writers, especially any of us who have that one story that could be genius, but as with Rick Riordon and Percy Jackson, have been too embarrassed to share it without bring pushed over the edge.

      Delete
  8. "At the back of my mind I was always hoping I might just get by." — King Creosote

    Up close, the sidewalk looks like a moonscape. Smooth, cratered, starburst, ruined, and lovely. Ganymede, Callisto, Hyperion, Enceladus, the very names so dripping in glamour you could die from speaking them aloud. Hollywood Boulevard: not moons but stars; not wounds but scars.

    Girl, your own dreams were modest. You breathed in first, then checked your breath, measured the ebb and flow of the seasons, stayed grounded, tough, and mostly sweet as the cornstalks of your Nebraska roots. No risk of supernova flameout. A steady rise, or steady-ish. Extras, bit parts, supporting. Commercials, television, TV movies, even movies. Back and forth. You compromised at times but mostly kept your gaze below the horizon, and bright as that seems in this inferno of light, the heavens are more bright and more perilous.

    It's an old story.

    Dialed back dreams or not, the streets can take anyone they wish and utterly consume them.

    So what if you cut a few corners, blinked at times before the callous scrutiny of sporadic slimeballs, made darker shades of trade you once would have balked at? This is a place where inhibitions come to die. Whatever new tremor, Lord Xanax a fallback safeguard, in this great scheme your sins were nothing. You smoothed your skirt and carried on.

    If only I'd known. I didn't see the tragic detail in the grain as I watched from afar. Not all stalkers are dangerous—in my case, too shy, too gauche. I loved you for five whole years, yet you never knew I existed. Now it's too late and I was your only friend.

    He was a cold, bad shadow you didn't recognize. His hunger could never fill itself. He created a debt and when you couldn't pay it, as he knew you couldn't, he took his due with clear-eyed interest, made sure you looked in his eyes as you bled out on the ground, your thick pool of red spreading black in the neon night, blossoming at last into the tragic figure of your secret dreams, you pretty girl from a bathroom stall near Omaha, my lost and fallen moon star, my diffident, selfless love.

    And you can't hear this, not any more. Your eyes are glazed like silver screens on which ghost players enact their fraudulent dramas; they stare at moonscapes. Your beestung lips are split from your fall. Your emaciated fingers and ragged nails claw the point of a Hollywood star: Patsy Cline, 6160 Hollywood Boulevard. Nocturnal sirens howl all around, those raving wolves; the hot Santa Ana winds blow like demon breath, Pacific bound; a girl laughs, oblivious, like the chiming of ice in a cocktail glass.

    Dark melodic songs haunt the rooftops.

    I fall to pieces. I fall to pieces.

    I touch your cooling skin for the first time and walk away before anyone sees. That touch will prove indelible. Your barely noticed life was indelible to someone, and now I can't tell you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Turns out, this is a bit of a companion piece to last week's. I also want to make something clear: few if any of my characters are me. I'd say the most devastating thing that could happen to a fiction writer is to be conflated with their freakazoid characters! Just wanted to get that out there, to be clear. :)

      Delete
    2. "Dialed back dreams" may be my favorite phrase in this... but it's all so visceral... and nice choice on the song! Patsy Cline is always appropriate!

      Delete
    3. Love the stunning imagery in this. An old story, perhaps, but told in such a raw and evocative way. "...the hot Santa Ana winds blow like demon breath, Pacific bound..." Incredible. Thank you for sharing.

      Delete
  9. The television cameras were in place. The minarets of the mosque were silhouetted by the setting sun. The protestors and the ones who sought to pray were separated by a line of police barriers and too few police.

    The signs were crude in both their lettering and their messages. "America is Christian." "Death to Muslims." "Lock them up." The latest terrorist attack had everyone on edge. The smell of adrenalin and testosterone was heavy in the air. Like fire touching gasoline, an explosion was inevitable. The barriers, meant to protect, became weapons. The signs' messages changed from words to bruises.

    And in the midst of it all, an old man, frail and short, walked to the flash point with dignity and purpose.

    "Enough!" he shouted in a voice larger than his body. "Enough," almost a whisper the second time, a whisper heard by both sides. "I spent my boyhood in a prison, because I looked like an enemy. These people," he gestured to the Muslims, "these people may look like the enemy to you, but they are not." He paused. "The enemy is within you. A hatred for what is different. A love for easy answers."

    Still the crowd was silent.

    "If you feel the need to hurt, even to kill, then take me. But leave them be. They come to pray." The old man bent down to pick something up. When his hat was again visible, he held a stone in his hand; he held it high. "Which of you will be the first to cast a stone at me?"

    The signs were lowered. The doors to the mosque were reopened. The television cameras were turned off. And a little old man in a fedora whispered to himself, "Never again."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leland, very powerful, poignant and so close to the knee-jerk response of some reactionaries. I particularly like the "...barriers, meant to protect, became weapons. The signs' messages changed from words to bruises." If only more would speak up as the old man did. It's a great piece.

      Delete
    2. Thanks! It's inspired by my long term project which should see its first book published by the end of the year, Origami Moon, a story of the Japanese American prison camps of World War II

      Delete
    3. Excellent tension, mindless anger, and burning shame. I could feel the emotions flux and flow as I read. And *snerk* using a wizened old Indiana Jones as a Gandi/Jesus figure was just the perfect touch!

      Delete
  10. For an upcoming project:

    Commodore Duke paced back and forth along the far end of the meeting table.

    "Everything the Admirality has spent so much time and effort on, all the intelligence gathered over the last few years, is essentially useless to us now. In order to bring the Tiger to justice for his crimes against our sovereign sealanes, we would have to go to war with a kingdom that has treaties practically around the world! The man has been crowned in Eden, have you not grasped this fact? No matter what he has done in the past, how many ships he's sunk or prized, he is out of our reach, legally."

    "Legally?"

    "That's what I said, isn't it."

    "Then you mean-"

    "I mean nothing. I recommend that we leave him alone. He's off the waters, and has taken his crew into protected status with full pardons of the crown. That blasphemous bastard Kyle Eplay is tucked so tight under Tigris' wing it would take burning down the mews to get at him."

    "What of the ship herself? Is it possible to take her at sea?"

    "Possible, but to what end? She's so old, now, that taking her might be an exercise in futility. We would bring her home just to scrap her."

    "But she's been seen at sea-"

    "Yes. As a ship of the Eden Navy, you fool. She's not flying a pirates colors, nor is she listed as a privateer vessel anywhere by with Eden by our reckoning. Touch her and those treaties I mentioned come to life and will bring about our downfall. We can't fight the whole world!"

    The Commodore's pacing became more agitated as he spoke.

    "My Lord, if I may?"

    The Commodore waved a frustrated hand at the voice, not really payngn attention to who was speaking.

    "Might we consider putting this matter into the hands of someone without known governmental ties to our court?"

    Commodore Duke stopped pacing. He turned to look at the speaker. Rattigan was a new man int his room, but had shown remarkable insight when he chose to say anything.

    "Speak plainly, Rattigan."

    "Why, the Church put the man on that throne, did it not? Why can't it remove him as well?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is intriguing, and I would read more! I rather like the name Rattigan, as well... thanks for sharing!

      Delete

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