Thursday, October 13, 2016

Zero Minutes. Stop!

It feels like I am being skewered with a sharp sword. I don't know why. But I'm calling it this week. Moving hurts. Sorry. If I don't make it, write on you beautiful bastards. #2minutesgo

Or, by all means, have at it. I'd love it. But I'm out. And not in a cool drop the mic way.


  1. Replies
    1. Get better, Mister! That's an order! :P

    2. Get well! I have a coldy flu thing :)

    3. I had a cold too. Or was it man-flu?

      Get well soon, Dan! *hugs platonically*

    4. Is there a healthy person in the house?!

    5. Apparently not. And for the record, I only do non-platonic hugging. Now, come get it. ;)

      Thanks, yall. I have Diverticulitis. Let's all be healthy by next Friday!

  2. I'm gonna post, just for the heckuva it:

    The moon was cut four times by barbed wire before she rose free in the Prussian blue sky. I wondered for the umpteenth time whether the fence made the moon or me a prisoner.

    My imagination set me free that night, and I imagined the fools who would try to imprison the moon, the orb of the night. What might she have done wrong to be held prisoner? Was she insolent to the sun? Did she refuse Mars’ advances? I cheered her on as she rose above the last strand of barbed wire. She was free of her confines.

    The searchlight shined on me a moment later, and I stopped cheering. The shout told me it was after curfew and I was to be inside by now. I thought, for only a moment, to flee as the moon had done, to escape over the fence, but I knew the moon was faster than me. I opened the door to the barrack, and my mother hugged me even as she admonished me for being out too late.

    In my childish mind, I was not sure if the moon would climb so well without my encouragement, but Mother told me she would. The moon was always “she” to me, though I do not know why. I knew from school that her strength on the tides was at least as strong as the sun’s. Tides which I saw no more, in this desert place. We had sand, but no ocean, no waves, and the only roar was the sound of the wind.

    It was 1942, and even though good girls did not question their parents, they still had rebel hearts from time to time, and I knew that I would be outside late again when the full moon rose the next month. And in later years, I would sing her a song of encouragement in her quest, as I hoped one day she would sing to me.

    I slept, and did not wake until the moon was safe again on the other side of her prison, cut four more times by the wire with barbs. I knew she would be ashamed if I saw her then.

    1. This is beautiful Leland. That last

    2. Agree. It's a beautiful idea. I like the feeling of the moon being animate.

  3. She closed the book, put it on the table and finally decided to walk through the door. Sophie didn't need her walker anymore.

    The sound a walker makes in the hall of a nursing home is different than in the home of a loved one. Sophie Messer hated the sound and decided not to use hers. But a short while before, her younger sister Judy hobbled on six legs into the nursing home.

    "Is this it?" Judy said to Sophie's granddaughter Jessica.

    "Yes, Aunt Judy, that's Gram by the window."

    "I don't like these places. They give me a headache and smell bad. I'll never come to one of these places. Barry would never allow it, rest his soul. He left me quite comfortable, you know, Jennifer."

    "Jessica, Aunt Judy."

    In her bed, Sophie heard the voices and her heart monitor skipped one beep and then moved from waltz time to tango.

    "Sophie and I haven't seen one another in many years," Judy said to no one in particular. "Where's a chair?"

    Lowering herself into the chair, Judy said, "I hope nobody peed in this seat, Jennifer."

    "Talk to Gram, Aunt Judy. Right after they rub lotion on her, she reminds me of a little porcelain doll. Her eyes almost look painted on."

    "That's what Sid would call her, you know. Doll. Called all his girlfriends Doll. He called me Doll, too."

    Sophie's monitor skipped and beep-beeped again.

    "No, Aunt Judy, I didn't know. Grandpa never mentioned that."

    "Hi, Sophie, it's me," she shouted. "It's freezing here. Not like West Palm."

    "I'm sure she hears you Aunt Judy."

    "I was just talking to Julia here about Sid. How on Fridays in high school he'd say to me, 'Doll, why don't you get your dancing shoes and we'll go downtown?' Papa would get so angry about him wanting to take me out on Shabbat."

    "Picked up your grandmother on the rebound, you know, Jennifer."

    Beep-beep, beep.....Beep-beep-beep-beep.

    "Mama and Papa were very happy when I found my Barry, a college man with a future."

    Sophie's eyelids throbbed shadows in the low winter sun from the window.

    "Remember when Barry stayed with us after he came back from Europe, before NYU? Mama treated him like a prince. Which he was," Judy sighed.

    "You became so jealous. Running away with Sid right after. He'd already returned from the Pacific, Jessica. Was that it, Sophie? Becoming a little housewife right away, have a honeymoon baby? You and Sid elope and boom, Betty's born barely nine months later."

    "My Mom used to laugh about that all the time," Jessica said.

    Judy said, "Your jealousy made Barry uncomfortable. He was so good to me. Always flowers or a bit of jewelry out of the blue, for no good reason."

    Judy yawned.

    "Well, I'd better get back to the hotel. I'd like to come back tomorrow and reminisce some more. Love you, Sophie."

    In her white waiting room, Sophie curled a tiny smile where before was a tight dash. She had barely listened to Judy, just another of these blinking sonorous machines.

    "It's only for a little while more," Sophie thought, sitting with the family photo album in her lap.

    "We're ready for you, Mrs. Messer," someone said.

    Closing the album, putting it on the table, Sophie rose and walked through the door into the brightly lit room next door.

    “Hi, Doll. Been waiting for you,” Sid said. "Can't believe she never knew."

    Smiling, Sophie said, "Oh, Sid, you're the kindest man whoever lived. But she knows, darling. She knows."

    1. Thank you Leland and Ruairi! I was worried the ending might be a bit confusing.

    2. I really like it. I like the mystery. I read it twice and I did get confused, but I think it's because I have a bad cold/flu thing. I need to reread it when my head is clear :) Great final line.

  4. Feel better, Dan. The world's always a better place with you up and rockin'.

  5. They lived in the days of fire and ice, of red vs. blue, of good and bad of with us or against us. The lines were drawn boldly then, and everyone was certain of the one true path forward or backward, or whichever way they wanted to go.

    One was from Texas, and you could hear the size of his home state measured in the long pauses of his speech. One was from The City, and you dripping the uppercase letters in his proper voice.

    They called each other names, unspeakable epithets, required by the networks of the day. Unfriend me! shouted one, and the other shouted All you need is love!
    Their anger grew in volume and in mass, and blood pressures soared, and their hearts beat faster, and not from love.

    The twenty-first century being what it was, they accidentally met in the security line in the teepee-roofed airport in Denver. Their jaws jutted out upon recognition, and they refused to speak. As the gods laughed, they found they were bound for the same destination. Zeus guffawed when he assigned their adjoining seats.

    The Texan's hand accidentally brushed the city boy's, and they both looked down awkwardly, and then into the other's face. By the time their silver tube of a chariot reached the Atlantic Ocean, they discovered a shared love of the finest Scotch. And when they saw the green of London, they were sorry the flight was over.

    They met again at the luggage carousel, and they smiled the faintest of smiles. They went their ways, not red, not blue, not indifferent, not angry.

    When they met again, it was in a churchyard, over the grave of a woman they did not realize they both knew.

    After the service, the cowboy put his hand on the city slicker's shoulder and led him to a pub. And there, far from home, red bled into blue, and blue into red, and respect, if not agreement, found its way into two hearts that belonged together.
    Outside, the sun set, Londoners remarked that they had never seen the sky such a royal purple.

    1. Awww...I actually got goosebumps on my arm reading that. Thst only happens when something hits me just right. I really liked this one.

    2. Sweet, especially reading it as a Londoner! This was my fave line: One was from Texas, and you could hear the size of his home state measured in the long pauses of his speech.

  6. It was silly, really. The fight he had with Amy. He wasn’t even sure any more what it was about. That it would result in a visit to Urgent Care, well, that was sillier still, and it became more silly the longer he sat in the waiting room.

    The little girl across from him stared at him. Squirmed to be closer to her mommy. Barely blinked. She probably thought he was crazy.

    “It could happen to anyone, really,” he said in an abortive attempt to put her at ease. The little girl cried. Now Mommy was staring at him, too. He laughed half-heartedly.
    He wished Amy had not been so angry, wished she would have come here with him. Urgent Care is not a place to go alone. He imagined a clock ticking, but of course, the clock was electronic. He wondered why they didn’t have one of those “Now Serving Number” signs up above the receptionist desk.

    Finally a nurse came through the door and called his name. He stood, carefully balancing the axe that was embedded in his skull. It was silly, really.

    1. hahaha! Surely all he needed was a plaster! Or band-aid, as you say in the states. It made me laugh also that it's called Urgent Care! We have GP office, but sometimes not so urgent as you can't always get an appointment. And we have Accident & Emergency where you can wait for maybe 5 hours! :)

  7. There is great power in naming something. It gives you dominion over it. Responsibility, too. Some tribes give two names to children, one for the public to use, and a true name to be used only by family. In this way, they protect the children from being controlled by strangers. And when a boy becomes a man, he chooses a third name for himself, to free him from his parents.

    I was aa member of the white tribe, where our names were known by all, and control shared by many, by all, in fact, besides ourselves. There were no secrets in my tribe. We lived in fear of what might be known, yes, but more about what shame there was when we were talked about. And so we became small. You've seen the pill bug in the garden, feasting on small dead stuff, but when you touch it it rolls into a sphere, as tiny as it can?

    We became more silent, too; almost afraid to breathe, for that might draw their attention. We stopped our inquiries, online and in person, for we knew not what conclusions would be drawn about our fitness, about our loyalty, from the questions we wanted to ask.

    Once curiosity has been killed, citizens are far more compliant. More loyal, they said. Our national mascot was the sheep. The sheep is a noble animal, we were taught. It always listens to its neighbors, never gets lost on its own.

    And so we were unprepared when the wolves came. Surely this was part of the great plan, or maybe a test. We followed our instructions. We did not break the rules, not until the knives slit our throats and we silently screamed the question we held secret for so long: why?

    1. wow. that sure didn't go where I thought it was headed. You always surprise Mister Dirks. Sneaky-scary stuff.

    2. oooh. Yeah, I like the way it wrapped and the images of sheep and wolves, going back to the tribal thing, but I didn't see it coming either. I like the naming convention and the history behind it, and how that slid into a story. Made me think of the animal totem idea too - how everyone has an animal spirit.And how names are sacred.

  8. "As Gruenman had his Sia," Kylus observed, "so now my wife has her cat. There seems to be something about this place that demands there be at least one pair of human and cat who bond with one another."

    "There's that Pixie cat and His Majesty," Robeson reminded him. He wasn't as fond of Pixie as some of the other cats around the palace. She had long fur that stuck to everything she brushed against or napped on. He dearly hoped that Kait's companion did not grow up to do the same.

    "Indeed there are. The men of the cat, however, claim they are not particularly attached to any single cat themselves, but to all of them. The cats' attitudes seam to bear that out."

    A small meow came from the open door behind them. Kylus looked up and smiled at the newcomer, while Robeson closed his eyes and sighed heavily. The young marmalade male was nearly the color of the Bishop's beard. He had not been seen for a few days, and the Bishop's bed was a favored napping spot for him.

    "I believe they made a gentleman out of him recently," Roberson ventured.

    "That would be why I haven't seen him hanging about my pillows," Kylus chuckled. He leaned a hand down to rub his fingertips together, trying to entice the young tom to come closer. The cat obliged, bumping his face into Kylus' hand and purring loudly.

    Robeson watched the pair with some trepidation. He would be cleaning cat hair off of everything the Bishop owned at this rate.

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  10. "I told you."

    "I told you."

    "But Loretta..."

    "Mmm-hmmm I told you a hunnerd times."

    "But Loretta..."

    "Maybe now you'll get the point, huh Robert?

    Do you get the point now Rob-bert?"

    "But Loretta usually when you say that you don't mean it.  You know you don't.."

    It was hard having this conversation in the waiting room of an E.R.  Even harder to have it with a splitting headache.  Loretta's "nagging mom" voice normally made his head hurt, but this was unreal.

    "Maybe next time you come home smellin' like cheap booze and even cheaper tobacco and start throwing yourself and your "amorous intentions" on me and I tell you I have a damn headache, you'll finally get it through that thick head of yours what I mean when I say my HEAD HURTS!"

    The doctor and nurses down the hall shook their heads.  They couldn't believe the guy was up and awake let alone talking, not with the blade of an axe buried in his skull.

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  12. Her legs tapered up above me, the close material of the trousers preserving her modesty. “I hope you’re keeping up with me.” she said, her face appearing as a pale disk up beyond the dark shape of her body. “I think they’re still following us. You remember what they did to that man we saw staked out on the lawn out there? He didn’t last more than a couple of minutes before they stripped his bones clean.”

    I shivered, waiting for her feet to move on to the next rung. I remembered well what they’d done to his still-twitching body. I could still hear his screams. I imagined I’d be woken by them for a long time to come, the nights seeming darker since I’d met her, Clemency being someone I could depend on to protect me if she was about when I needed her. If she was about…

    “I don’t suppose you could hurry yourself up a little? You’re not the one nearest the Hounds. You did say they could climb, didn’t you?”

    Clemency grunted, her feet now retreating up the ladder above me. She was wearing a pair of improbable shoes, the spikes of her stilettos less of a threat to my fingers than I’d expected. It was the heavy blocks of the soles near the balls of her feet that were more of a worry to me than the heels, I’d discovered. Either those or the teeth of the Hounds that were now chasing us. Not that either of those would give me any warning before they struck: the ladder had already risen above the reach of the bulbs that were being used to light the area nearest the floor. We were at least fifty feet up above the concrete now – if the dog-men didn’t kill me, the fall almost certainly would. Not that I’d suffer for long whichever happened. The man on the lawn reappeared in my head once more. It’d been a quick end for him, that was for sure. Quick and very, very intense.

    My view of the shoes faded, my other senses becoming more acute as the light continued to dwindle. Hopefully we’d reach the gantry soon. And hopefully we’d find it empty of the Hounds and their handlers. And if it wasn’t, surely Clemency would be the one they’d get first. Although, it barely mattered. If she was attacked, she’d only delay them for a few moments. And then they’d be upon me...

  13. By the sea

    So here we are in this faint escape of light, where the skies promise to evolve into sparkling shimmers of incandescent waves, hurtling life across the oceans of the world. While we can only watch, enrapt, us mere mortals, wondering how the immensity of this darkening force came to be born. Toes building walls in the wet sand, damp hair scraping my cheek. This air tastes of salt, smells of the seaweed churning on the arms of the sea. I can spy it if I stare deeply enough. Licking my lips, I turn away as the wind tickles my face, eyes squinting, the rhythm laughing. She knows me, what I’m thinking, and she grins, uneven teeth showing. Wiping a stray hair to flick behind my ears, she kisses me lightly on the forehead, making me smile shyly back. Huddled together, we take in the ending of the day while we still can, the stars whistling upon its memory.

  14. Grandpa

    He tells me some words are never to be told,
    He fears some things are never to be shared,
    These stories he relates at the drop of a hat,
    These scattered things are a few too many.

    I cannot say how the world will end, he says,
    Nodding his head to the prime-time news;
    Tales of bombings, visions of despair, bodies
    Strewn where their children played, I imagine.

    He whispers these things in the calmest breath
    As though he lived them before, times ago
    When I was so high and he already old,
    Back from defending our world so far away.

    He loves to serve me bread, butter and sugar,
    A delicacy he loved as a boy, sneakily taken
    When his mother’s back was turned towards
    The window, waiting, always waiting for time
    To stop and take a bow and bring him back -
    The missing shadow in every picture frame,
    The face staring back with dark deep-set eyes,
    But Father Time never stopped this way.

    I take another bite and watch his language,
    The one beyond the words he relates so wild,
    The stories so beyond my capacity to fathom,
    And I am mesmerised as always by his energy.

    This fierceness, this hope, this battle-weary song,
    This admiration he feels for the world at large,
    A comradeship with his fellow man or woman -
    I cannot imagine, for I still have time to grow.

    When the talking television screen goes blank
    And the world falls silent again, he smiles at me,
    Winks in that cheeky way of his, dips his cap,
    So I forget he’s almost seven times my little age.

  15. I’ve been running since that fateful day.
    A punch in the stomach would have been more welcome than hearing you had gone.
    So I ran. I picked up speed and kept on going, never once looking over my shoulder because that would be too dangerous. I couldn’t risk a glance behind me because it would only slow me down.
    I mean, what would be the point in that? I knew it was chasing me, hot on my heels with arms outstretched ready to grab me and pull me down.
    A couple of times I felt it’s icy fingers brush against the back of my neck so I increased my speed, kept my eyes forward and ran some more.
    When I thought I had gone far enough and widened the gap, I slowed my pace a bit.
    That’s when it happened again. Like a trip wire pulled taut between two trees it garrotted me. Choked me till I turn blue and I thrashed and fought to loosen its hold on me. Another one gone and though I had known it would happen, it was even worse in a way.
    You were a warrior, one of the very best. The bravest of soldiers can’t lose the fight or so I thought.
    Choking makes your eyes water, did you know that? Big glistening droplets pour out seemingly without end. My chest heaved as I gasped for air and dry sobs wracked my throat.
    Grief had caught me and was shaking me, kicking my head, twisting my brain till my heart felt like it would burst from pain.
    With super human effort I broke free and tears and snot flying into the wind I ran and ran till my mouth turned upwards into a smile. I ran until I greeted each new moment and everyone around me with kindness and love and gratitude.
    I ran because you two put those smiles there and I wear the ones you gave me with pride and love and thankfulness. I ran so grief couldn’t catch me again because next time it might drown me and I owe it to both of you to keep ahead of the game and be happy and live this thing we call life to its fullest. So I ran and I’m still running for I must always remember to carry the baton of your greatness and pass it forward and outrun the grief.

  16. It was a somber occasion and one she planned to use to her advantage. All eyes on the casket as the minister droned on about the life of a man he'd never known until his death. Laughable really, when you considered the picture that was being painted. A family man, loved by so many, dedicated to making the world a better place for all. In point of fact, he'd been a consummate liar, a dissolute wretch who'd only cared about himself and who's life he could ruin next. And his list of victims was long.

    No one had accessed his computer yet. Password protected and hidden in files well but she was very good at digging. No matter how long it took, she would find all his secrets and lay them bare. Let the world see the real monster that had been so carefully buried behind the smile most often presented.

    There were videos that when discovered, exposed, would shock. Fingers would be pointed, accusations thrown about, to the ruination of some. All the signs had been there if anyone had been careful enough, cared enough to look. Maybe not proof positive, but certainly enough to raise questions, eyebrows. But no one had. And now he was dead and the scandal wouldn't touch him, couldn't hurt him.

    That was lamentable, and so when she was unable to stifle a sob, all in attendance thought her overcome with grief. If they only knew. But that was one lesson that she was glad to have been taught. His threats over the years had been enough that she could hide the real emotions lurking just under the skin. A chameleonic performance that he would be proud of. She could rival him in execution.

    The service was nearly over. Soon the processional to the cemetery would begin. She would be last in the line as a small detour was planned. She'd arrive there all in good time, which was precisely what she needed. Access to the house, time to find those files, steal the hard drive and then arrive at the gravesite, in time to weep copious tears as the monster was lowered into the ground, entombed with his dirty little secrets. But not to be a secret for very much longer.
    -Tamara McLanahan

  17. She cradled the lamp in her palms, feeling the raw power like ozone upon the air, a crackling intensity rapidly becoming hot to the touch. She sighed, a bare murmur passing from her lips. A wish for her friend, so disillusioned of late, to have a magical day. Just one day's respite from the turmoil of his life of late. A wish for joy, passion and wonderment as the day unfolded for him. A mere twenty-four hours, as she worried too big a request would be met with disfavor, or worse, total silence.

    And what was she thinking anyway? Even though she gripped the lamp tightly now, could feel it's hum vibrating on her fingertips, surely she must be crazy to contemplate her wish, any wish would be forthcoming. It might come down to faith, and that she was in short supply of lately. Head bowed, a tear spilled down her cheek. A solitary tear, for her friend, for herself and for the death of their dreams. It hit the lamp and the air shimmered around her, the susurrance growing louder.

    She felt the response more than heard it, a blooming inside her mind, a slow unfurling, an intimacy as it touched the recesses usually held in darkness, casting light on those thoughts, desires. An awakening. She closed her eyes, overwhelmed by the images that danced there. In using a wish for someone else, she'd been given one of her own, as yet unspoken, too long denied. The seductive voice echoed in her mind.

  18. Suggested by a Dylan song.

    Cold, like the world done spun off into space. Cold, like the devil's black heart. Easterly gale so fierce the snow don't ever settle, 'cept in precipitous talus drifts on the east side of the squat, shivering huts we tried to call a homestead.

    Can't even hear the cries of my children, the storm's so loud. A shriek bareback atop a deeper howl 'cross the gray plains, bending poplar and cottonwood like matchsticks to breaking, killing most everything caught outdoors in its path, which is wide and righteous, a godlike halitosic roar in the face of our damnation.

    Braced for hunger and cold. For the wages of sin and the invoices of death. Flour ruined by vermin, our old mare brought low by a malady in her veins. Ingredients of this matchless storm were prophesied.

    And we all know the answer to it.

    Martha my love. Her eyes, like jettisoned moons, won't find my own.

    Distance between the house and the barn seems more of a hike every day. I'm a man. If I can't do the basics of a man's calling, whose wheels am I spinning and in what chill mud, what slush? Place feels so dirgelike even the crows are gone, scattered on a high keening wind like shards of black ice.

    The children so thin they could snap in such blasts. Their own eyes dim as lost meteors.

    Memories of the road in summer—its battalion of mailboxes, its heart warmth and quiet fields dreaming their long afternoons, its lone vehicles, some lost, some stubborn not to hurry—might as well be ancestral.

    Place has two seasons: hot, cold; variations of beige and variations of gray.

    But seven shotgun shells—eight or nine for insurance—are inarguable, untenable.

    The coyote tonight is alone, a single ululating cry, a reminder of solitude, a cold song of perplexity.

    Truth is, I'd consider it a happy endin' if seven new people don't ever get born.


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