Friday, January 20, 2017

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.

It's in the spirit of the thing; it's an all out sprint. You need to keep your feet moving, keep your feet under you, keep your wits about you, keep fucking moving - you stand still, they get you. And you don't want to know what they have planned.

Trust me, man.

You think middle school was hard, you think those spitballs sucked? Wait until you get the federal wedgie. But don't think about it. Drink about it. That's the American way. 

Just don't stop; that's all I'm saying. Don't stumble either. Don't give them an inch. Take deep breaths even though the smell of burnt hair is sickening. Ignore the pounding in your chest. Pretend you can't hear it like anvil crashes. Just pretend everything is going to be OK and keep going.

Everything is painted a different color now, and it's going to take some getting used to. Pull yourself up and get moving or the train will leave without you.

#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...


  1. Ah, despair and determination... some days that pairing is all that gets us through, and you wrote about it with truth. Thanks.

    1. I agree with Leland and Laurie. Despair, determination, deep breaths. Is it so pervasive we all feel it? I wrote a few things that were so dark people were calling to check on me. They were right to do so. But I'd add desperation to the alliteration. But toss in a dose of perseverance, which I believe just might be another way of saying "too dumb to know when to quit."
      Thank you Dan, a very emotional piece.

    2. I'm with you Dan, denial is its own form of therapy/coping....

    3. Things even feel darker here, but then again (paraphrasing Palin) I can see you guys from my house. Nicely put, though, brother.

  2. The windows in the limo were heavily tinted and bulletproof. Still, he looked through them at the masses of people with protest signs and shouting words he could not hear.

    He smiled. He’d won. Even he didn’t believe he’d win, but he did it.

    He closed his eyes. He imagined what changes he’d make. He envisioned himself as a river, flowing surely, sometimes peacefully, sometimes with rapids. But like a river, like the river that had worn the Grand Canyon down, so he too would wear the opposition down.

    “What are you thinking about, darling?”

    Her accent, once charming and intriguing, now grated on his nerves.

    “What it will be like to be the most powerful man on the planet.”

    She ran her fingers over his hand. He felt nothing.

    “Would you like a drink? I think it may be a while before we get to the stadium.”

    “An excellent idea.”

    She poured from the crystal decanter into the Waterford old-fashioned glass.
    His eyes were still closed. He was wondering how difficult it would be to divorce her while in power. Whether anyone would care.

    The powder from the secret compartment in her ring dissolved instantly. She handed him the glass, and closed her eyes. Her speech, this time, would be original. And she knew she would look fabulous in black.

    1. OMG. This is chilling, and fabulous.

    2. Wow. Just wow! This is marvelous. But I have to grin and ask, does POTUS read this? Perhaps he should. Then again...

    3. Oh there you go, spilling my innermost fantasies again...

  3. [This is actually something I wrote today for my WIP, and even though it took a little longer than two minutes, it felt two-minute-ish and I wanted to share.]

    Even though Tim’s brain wasn’t operating at full capacity during his meeting with the team’s manager, he understood his choices: get clean or get out. So he’d let Trainer Carl book him into a rehab center in Vermont that some other ballplayers had gone to. He’d been too hungover to deal with the shame of telling his family—that he was checking into this place, that he needed separation from the rest of his life in order to do it—so Carl agreed to make the call for him. Tim knew it was a weasel move, but he rationalized himself into believing they’d understand. Or at least that Margie would, and she’d explain it to Mom.

    The place wasn’t too bad. The mountain views and rolling green meadows made for a comforting backdrop. After detox, he started private and group sessions. He heard a lot about triggers and codependence and performance anxiety. Talking with his counselor one on one was weird at first, but the idea of sharing his problems with total strangers made him want to bolt. Gradually he warmed to it, though. When he finally screwed up enough nerve to say something about the pressure, the thing sitting on his chest when he took the mound, he saw a lot of heads nodding.

    He had been feeling mostly good, or at least somewhat better, and strong enough to believe that he might be able to do this. If he could either stay away from or learn how to manage situations that triggered him. But on the last day of his program, during the last scheduled appointment for that afternoon, he sat in his private counselor’s office, palms sweating, one heel bouncing against the floor, thoughts spinning around in his mind: Is this really gonna work in the real world? What happens when I leave? What happens when I have to pitch again? If I have a crap outing, what will I do to shake it off?

    “What’s going on, Tim?”

    It took him a full thirty seconds of staring at the golden leaves raining down on the big green lawn to come up with the words. Because in that moment, the place was reminding him too much of home and his legs twitched with the urge to run. He could easily imagine him and Margie and his dad out there, tossing a ball around, and it choked him up a little. He took one of the slow, deep breaths they’d instructed him to do when he was feeling anxious. “I just—this place… Everybody’s been great. I’m getting a lot of support. But out there… I don’t know.” Tim’s voice went small, tight. “I’m not gonna be able to call time and spend five minutes doing creative visualization when I’m on the mound with the bases loaded.”

    The counselor’s smile was patient. “Well, no. And basically, you’re right. The real hard work begins after you leave. Our job is to help prepare you with tools you can call on to make the best decisions for you in the moment. One choice at a time.”

    Somehow that didn’t comfort him.

    The counselor opened Tim’s file. He scrutinized a piece of paper and frowned. “We don’t have a follow-up therapist listed. Your team’s doctor made that a condition of your release. He recommended someone, but if there’s a professional you’d rather go to, that’s okay, too. I just need a name.”

    Tim shook his head and pointed at the form. “Whoever you have there’s fine.”

    And the next morning, armed with his treatment plan and his release paperwork and the name of his appointed stranger with whom he’d been ordered to share the intimate workings of his mind, he returned to Atlanta.

    But the thing on his chest was still breathing.

    1. OMG... now I can't wait to read the rest of the story! that last line... wow.

    2. Hell yeah. Awesome concept. Awesome writing. Can't wait to read it.

    3. I lOVE this theme SO hard. Rehab/versus REALHAB! Go, you!

    4. Laurie, I love how you get such deep character immersion. Amazing.

  4. Cloudless, moonlit, quiet snowy night. Footfalls crunch on crusty snow. Approach your mailbox.
    Place the folded note inside. Written on the note:

    Wait longer.

    Vengeance is sleeping.

    Someday you will forget to look over your shoulder. Forget to check dark corners. Eventually, willingly, you will abandon caution and banish fear. Because it has taken a toll on you. You have paid the price already in stress and insomnia.

    But still…..vengeance is sleeping.

    It’s not yet time.

    Soon. But not yet.

    1. Eerie and foreboding... well done!

    2. Yeah, this is so well balanced. And the language is simple, but powerful.

    3. How ominous and well written. Now you've got me looking over my shoulder...

    4. I love it. Succinct yet such quiet menace.

  5. The beginning of a longer piece.

    Sunday. Such a European scene: a tumult of starlings shocked into curling spirals by the clamour of bells.

    You walk down the narrow staircase, twisting, the adobe walls beset with dark-framed photographs and paintings, small tubs of flowers on every half-lit floor. A hollow airless silence like the preemptive mourning of the world.

    "I wanted to write a play. How you say? A story with much art. Its title is The Aching Breasts of Juliette Binoche, and it is deep comment on feminine beauty and mothers, no? And on art also, of course. Is beautiful and filled with unhappy jokes, yes? About what we expect and what we desire?"

    "Everything is filled with everything."

    Dark cypresses line our route, the narrow road twisting like a gentle scar through a world of fecundity.

    "This Tuscany," you say. "You think is real, but you see it only on screens, behind glass."

    "Not true. I visited once, a long time ago."

    "Too long. Your memory is broken. This is real place. Not just extra virgin olive oil and red wine in fiaschi. People break legs, shit themselves by accident, miss trains, hurt dogs, cry over bad service."

    "You are wrong. I'm here now."


    Where had you come from? Which floor? What moment? What happened back there?

    Monday. I touch your shoulder and we are in Trafalgar Square, and the rain is coming down like the wet angry spears of a tiny battle. Even the pigeons have sought shelter. Flanking lions like withdrawn testicles and Lord Nelson's updrawn shaft. Regretful intake of breath before a desolate climax. Buses and cabs. Red and black.

    Mind the gap and please don't touch my shoulder.

    Too fucking late, mate.

    Tuesday. Pacific Northwest. A sundown free-for-all. Raucous seabirds. The smeary drama of colour. An overpass and the homeless on palettes beneath it, sheltered from the elements but not from the furious, heedless, seething, incessant noise overhead, that divine roiling endless colitis.

    "Notice the white Chevy Caprice that's always in the parking lot?"

    "Kinda, yeah, what of it?"

    "Serial killer," you say with certainty. "All serial killers impersonate cops. True fact."

    "Okay, now you're talking. This is a mystery story, after all."


    Is it, though? When we learned of her disappearance we thought it was a joke. Last any of us remembered she had smuggled her hamster, Loki, cage and all, into the Cascadian Motel. Now the room is spotless and no one has lived in it for weeks. The very air has retreated in her memory. Is it me, or does it keep getting harder to breathe?

    "Since it's always there, always parked away from the front lot, shouldn't be hard to figure out who drives it."

    "You're right. I'm on it. Go set a freakin' watchman."

    Shoulder tap. Aw, no. For fuck's sakes.

    1. You amaze me... and the reference to Harper Lee is awesome.

    2. This is dope. "You walk down the narrow staircase, twisting, the adobe walls beset with dark-framed photographs and paintings, small tubs of flowers on every half-lit floor. A hollow airless silence like the preemptive mourning of the world." I love the whole thing, but this is so very very good. R&B

    3. I Liked Tralfalgar Square and the "Please don't touch my shoulder!"

    4. So happy to finish this and especially happy to hear everyone's kind thoughts.

  6. The heart contracted, sputtered, died.
    No hope, no light to hold inside.
    As Life's last moment bled and dried,
    I whispered softly, "I really tried."

    But pain and suffering at an end,
    Feelings that I did not intend,
    A beating heart that still could rend,
    Into a dismal spiral descend.

    So do not mourn, it couldn't last,
    No one can long escape their past.
    The deed is done, the die is cast.
    The suffering became too vast.

    -Tamara McLanahan

    1. Sigh... it seems we're all in the same place, mood-wise. Heart-rending poem. Thank you.

    2. Agreed. Heart-rending, but also beautiful.

    3. My turn to ditto the others. Ditto.

  7. The bonds you wrap around me keep me steady, make me strong.
    When we're moving wrapped together, passions sing a soul deep song.
    And the melody winds through me as I stare into your eyes.
    Hearing lyrics written joyously with all your breathy sighs.
    A crescendo of emotion as we're moving close to peak.
    In your arms I feel elation and the harmony I seek.
    A staccato rhythm beats now, as I hear your heart's increase,
    And the rhyme is all that matters as our bodies find that peace.
    Strong and steady now, con forza, we can play the notes we need.
    And focoso, at full volume in all manner, in all deed.
    Incalzando, I am flying and I feel your heavenly tune.
    When I cry out in delight I know that you'll be singing soon.
    No one's ever matched this melody, you know my every chord.
    You stroke every loving heartstring, in your arms I feel adored.

    -Tamara McLanahan

    1. There's something old fashioned - in a great way - about this piece. Rock solid.

    2. I love extended metaphor and you handle it awesomely.

  8. From a WIP called Orchid Unfurled. They've just had an intimate dinner, as you'll plainly see soon.

    They walked out to the Jaguar leisurely, Laren with one arm wrapped around Tamsin’s waist, wanting to savor the night and the excellent dinner. The moon was close to full and a few scattered clouds littered the sky. They caught the scent of bougainvillea in the sultry air and the smell of salt water from the nearby river.

    They’d just reached the Jag when Tamsin suddenly turned to him.

    “Laren, can we freeze this moment? Us, this day, this night. I can’t recall the last time I’ve felt this content, this happy. Tonight was magical, wonderful and I’ll never forget it,” she whispered.

    “Nor will I sweetheart, nor will I. Oh, and neither will our waiter as I’ve just realized I forgot to grab your errant undies,” he smiled.

    “Oh, good grief,” she shrieked and took a step back towards the building before he grabbed her arm gently.

    “Let go, Laren,” as she tried to shake off his grip. “What if the waiter finds them and tells Gabriel or the owner? We could never show our faces in there again!” she half sobbed.

    “Tamsin, no worries, I’m sure that young man is more than happy to keep our little secret. And I’m sure he’s going to be enjoying those for quite a while. If he told anyone, then he’d run the risk of having to place them in Lost and Found.”
    She made a noise halfway between a snort and a gasp but he smiled, seeing how her eyes danced in amusement.

    “Trust me, darling, he won’t want to do that.”

    She still didn’t look 100% convinced. He pulled her into his arms, soothing her as his hands moved over her back.

    “How is it that you can be so thoroughly kinky behind closed doors and yet blush brightly at the thought of a male finding your panties? Is it any wonder I’m crazy about you? That’s rhetorical, dear, no answer required,” as he kissed her and took her breath away.

    She wouldn’t have been able to answer, even if she tried.

    1. This is super strong. I love the sensory detail that leads us into dialogue and finally to that perfect landing.

    2. Thank you Dan. I've got an endorphin rush going on right now. This WIP (the first 7K of it) was sent to the Wicked Pen Writers group in a contest to find new authors to sign up. I found out moments ago that I was chosen. So this is one special day and I thank all the Unemployed Imagination writers for their encouragement, support and most of all, their brilliance in telling a tale. Enough of that must have rubbed off. I am so very appreciative. And mushy.

    3. That's fantastic! Congratulations. :)

    4. Thank you! I'm still dazed and thrilled. I thought it would wear off by now. lol So many thoughts I can't keep them ordered. Like trying to herd cats. I probably need lots of coffee today.

    5. Thank you so much David. This blog, all the wonderful, diverse and incredible writers have been such an inspiration, a source of priceless support. I have to pinch myself every now and again to be in such company.

  9. Phil stood there and felt the breeze come up the rise to where the redoubt was to have stood on the rolling terrain near Saratoga and thought he smelled cordite floating on it. Again.

    “Phil? Are you okay?” his wife Carrie asked. “You’ve got that thousand-miles-away look you had when we visited Gettysburg.” She knew what was going through his head, so she stayed close.

    Phil blinked a pair of dewy blinks, rubbing his hand across his eyes as if they actually stung from the smoke that wasn’t really there. He knew it wasn’t, just as he knew the chatter of small arms fire and the swelling sounds of men in combat weren’t really there. His mind settled upon the wind-blown clatter of nearby birch and maple branches and the jabber of some kids from a school tour.

    “I’m okay, Carrie,” he said, wrapping his hand around her arm, pulling her closer. A flash of sunlight off the windshield of a passing car touring the battlefield site brought on a flinch, but no longer did he full-on duck when something broke through the dark blur the world had become. He was improving since he left the VA and began his own form of immersion therapy, visiting battlefields up and down the East Coast. He carried his own battlefield wherever he went.

    “What say we stop by the military cemetery on the way back to Albany? I want to pay my respects to a couple of guys there I knew,” Phil said, as they swung back to their car in the small lot near the touring roadway.

    “Sure, hon, we can do that. You just tell me their names and I’ll find them for you.” Carrie didn’t flinch as much anymore, either.

    Phil slid into the passenger seat and took one more long breath of air. He thought it smelled of autumn leaves and old, old memory, which he found odd, since he hated History as a kid. He hated everything when he got back, including himself, Carrie, home and what they’d all become.

    As he buckled in and put on his sunglasses, Phil felt the warmth of his wife’s skin awakening the few hairs left among the expanse of scars on his left arm. He shivered. Not because he was cold, rather because once more he realized Afghanistan may have wrecked his sight, but his vision, the view from wherever he stood, was improving all the time.

    1. ahhh... so dark, and then ending in hope... thank you. I needed that.

    2. Agreed. So powerful, but the ending allows us to breathe. Great piece, Joe.

    3. Yes, that glimmer at the end is worth it. Nice writing again, Joe.

    4. Joseph, this is an amazing story on so many levels. Poignant and powerful but yes, a glimmer of hope at the end. And you knocked me flat with "He carried his own battlefield wherever he went." So many of us do, for varied reasons. Thank you for sharing it.

  10. Bring me the step ladder. I don't even want to talk about my biological ladder. What does it matter? I never felt supported. Except by my barber, but he's about to get deported.

    Put my brain through a pasta maker. Make it thin. Thin and we'll boil that fucker. Feed it to some poor disillusioned sucker. We'll just tell him that it's gluten free. Me? I like my gluten expensive.

    Sometimes I get pensive.

    Sometimes I get outraged and hurl myself against the cage. Doesn't do any good, but it helps me turn the page. I get stuck sometimes, reading the same sentence over and over. And it's a death sentence.

    Eat your spinach. Fake your penance. Smells weird, but looks just like the real thing.

    1. Always love your dazzling word play, Dan. And the cadence, the lyrical quality, prose with a punch.

  11. In retrospect, it was surprising that it took so long for the first missiles to land. Perhaps they had overestimated the time it would take to fly from one continent to another. Perhaps they didn’t get the tail wind they thought they would. But once launched, there was no calling them back, no self-destruct sequence.

    It had been a fun game. He had allowed the Russians and the Americans to believe they were the super powers long enough. They were most amusing as they launched words of war back and forth, as they spent their dollars and rubles on their own armaments, each certain that the other was the only worthy adversary.

    It was a pity he wouldn’t see the surprise on their arrogant faces. He’d actually tried to find a way to install cameras in the White House and the Kremlin, but the costs were too great, in both time and currency. No matter. He had his imagination.

    It wouldn’t take long. Each would assume that they were being attacked by the other, and they would finish off the job that he only needed three missiles to start.
    The monitor on his desk showed orange flashes in Washington, DC; Los Angeles; and Moscow. Moments later, all the other cities had orange flashes, too.

    He was sorry to have to leave the screens, but it was time for tea.

    1. This is terrifying. And good. Really good.

    2. Weirdly enough, what I like about this piece is that it takes the focus OFF the drama. Makes it weird and impersonal...We must recall that for all the back-biting etc, we can take a measure of comfort in conspiracy...How weird is that?

    3. Good grief. This is chilling. Well done, Leland.

  12. The afternoon lies so quiet you can hear the air breathe from the heating vents to the ceiling, where it swirls and drops like a lover's whisper on your pillow.

    You never enjoyed naps, such siestas seeming to embezzle from you, skimming their time-is-money cut from something your sure you should be doing...if you could only stay awake in your recliner.

    You'd arise from those afternoon suspensions of consciousness and verticality feeling worse than when you reclined. But that was before you turned 60.

    Wasn't it?

    Now you crawl into these twisted trysts with the post-meridian Delilah who stole your once Samson-like strength (and hair). You fight her Morphean ministrations until she strokes your brow, untying the knots in your expanding forehead. She draws you into her somnolent embrace with sultry promises, warm upon your face like the dreamy promises of that expectant lover.

    And you fall for her once again.

    1. Wow. Such beautiful writing. And clever.

    2. Gorgeous! I've been recovering at over 60 from this bad ass beast of a virus for 3 solid weeks and the ONLY thing I've come to appreciate about it is the sheer effing luxury of a nap!

    3. That's a good one, Joseph.

    4. I thought "verticality" so clever. Then you blew me away with "...these twisted trysts...expectant lover."
      Incredible eloquence. You paint a vivid picture with your words, more so as they are so true.

  13. I enter the room and immediately sense a disturbance and a late presence.

    My eyes glide to the fireplace, where a smudge of ash lies upon the polished tile hearth. I feel a faint warmth come from within the firebox and, with a gentle whistle into the ashes, I awaken seven orange embers from within their gray ash bed.

    Swiftly, I turn to the coffee table behind me and note the magazines tossed somewhat haphazardly eight inches off its midpoint. Upon closer inspection, I find a dried ring upon its surface, two and five-sixteenths inches from the coaster. I lick my finger, touch its tip to the ring and tap it to the end of my tongue. I taste a ring of smaller diameter on the opposing coaster.. Hmmm… Sweeter. Yes.

    Just inside one of the table legs I spy a broken bit of popcorn kernel. I taste that as well. White cheddar. I wince at the juxtaposition of flavours, but do not judge.

    I advance to the south-facing window, through which morning light provides a three-dimensional stream for dust motes to course. Dust I was certain I did not raise.

    Springing to the nearby bookcase I note, with self-serving glee and some bit of distress, the lady of the house has not deemed to dust the shelves in seven--no, nine--days. And THERE! On the fifth shelf from the bottom, bare spaces, binding-sized slots shining amid the semi-matte sheen of slovenliness.

    A quick assessment of the shelf and its alphabetic array of volumes and I know I have solved the case. A D shoved amid the Cs. Elementary what’s happened here, I assure myself.

    A call out to the hallway and the thirteen-year-old I hallooed enters the study. She carries with her a mug of tea—green with honey, as expected—and plops rather insolently into the chair with the scarlet pillow, placing her mug within the left side of the ring of my earlier investigation.

    “My dear,” I say. “Were you and Hannah in daddy’s study last night?”

    “No! I know we’re not allowed in here when you’re not home. How could you accuse me of that? Mother!!” she calls.

    I raise my hand and softly say, “Don’t deny it. I have all the proof I need right here.”

    I point out all the clues of the evening malfeasance perpetrated in my wife’s and my absence while we attended a dinner get-together at Hannah's parents, the Watsons’ next door.

    “Okay,” she says. “But we didn’t do nuthin’. Stupid books are nuthin’ but old-timey stories. No cool London scenes, slow and wordy. In our wildest dreams we couldn’t even imagine Cumberbatch in the starring role.”

    “Grounded Friday night,” I say. “No phone, no computer, no Kindle, no iPad. Just a paperback version of A Study in Scarlet, which we’ll discuss Saturday morning.”

    “Mother!!” she wails just a little louder.

    “Oh, and his surname is Doyle, not like Conan-Doyle. D first, not C. Now where the hell’s my pipe?”

    1. Fantastic. Would that we all have such heightened perceptions but then that would most likely drive most mad. This was a wonderful feast for the senses to read.

  14. Mrs Waters wasn’t the kind of woman you noticed right away, like she was used to the background, to being invisible. The roundish, graying middle aged woman you don’t want to think about turning into, whether you admit it or not. The kind who probably kept a drawer full of preprinted return address labels, with her monogram in gold. A motherly sort, who always had the tissues in her bag if you sneezed or busted out crying. Who’d stand in line behind you at the bank and picked lint off your jacket without permission. Maybe she went to some kind of church, I don’t know. I didn’t ask and didn’t care. Sometimes I checked her out at the Piggly-Wiggly; you could tell she lived alone, and sometimes on Sundays she’d pass my house and call out to me about the color of the rhododendrons or the nice evening air. But I didn’t know her, you see. I’d never heard about Claire.
    But still, it surprised me to see her there that morning, when we lined up for the bus. Fifty of us, give or take. We had our reasons. We had our cause. She had a sign with her; there was a photo of a beautiful young woman on it that I could see just peeking out from the corner of her tote bag. Halfway to D.C, we’d all settled down a little from the shouting and the slogans. Maybe I was a little nervous, too. I didn’t want to think too hard about what was coming. So I tapped her on the shoulder.
    “Didn’t expect to see you here this morning, Mrs. Waters.”
    She smiled pleasantly enough, just like always, but there was something else in her eyes. I guess I’d never noticed the steel in them before. “Glad to see you, though.” I corrected. “Every voice counts.”
    “You’re damn right it does.”
    I pointed to the little bit of sign I could see. “Glad you made a sign,” I said. I was going to, but the boys kept me up and I just ran out of time, I guess.
    “Oh honey. You got time. We all got time. Thing is, to make the time count. Claire’s the one who ran out of time.”
    That’s when she told me about Claire. She’d been just 19, got pregnant by her high school sweetheart back in Dayton. They were gonna get married but the boy got drafted and sent off to Nam and that was the end of that. Claire’s father about lost his mind when he found out and kicked her out, then Mrs. Waters kicked him to the curb shortly thereafter. Claire had called she said, she’d gone to the appointment, but something went wrong. They had to drive another hundred miles to find a hospital that would take her and by then, it was too late.
    She didn’t cry much about it anymore, she told me. But she never stopped grieving. And when the laws had finally changed, later that very same year she’d hoped it was some kind of sign.”You have to make some kind of peace with yourself.” She told me. “Life ain’t about being wrong or right. Sometimes it’s just a whole pile of wrongs at once and you just make the best choice you can. My Claire didn’t have that choice. But I will do goddamndest to make sure that women don’t lose that again.”
    By then, half the bus was listening.
    Mrs Waters, glanced around, a little embarrassed maybe, by all the attention. “And if God has a problem with that, she said. “He can take it up with me.”
    Like I said, we all had our reasons for being there on that bus. Mrs Waters had a good one, maybe the best one. Her name was Claire.

    1. So poignant and powerful. Regardless of anyone's personal pov, it makes a strong statement.

  15. I want a time machine, more gumption, and a barrel full of pills. The cure for all my ills. I want to swim deep into the ocean, past the point where you know you won't make it back to the surface. I want the blade bite, stomach clench; I want you to smell the death stench.

    I wrote a story one time with this line: I'm sad and I don't know how to tell anyone. Maybe if I pour enough bourbon down my throat, they'll think to ask..."

    I don't drink anymore. So, it's interesting to wonder at what the future holds in store. Reading about HS football disasters. I can't remember how many concussions I had. Sometimes that makes me feel good. Sometimes it makes me feel bad.

    Sometimes it makes me worry. My sometimes are running out - better hurry.

    I'm not a big enough pussy to do anything about it. Never fear. I'll be living my life of silent desperation over here. I'll try to be quiet about it - Lord knows, if the neighbors hear, they'll throw a fit.

    And there's a part of me that thinks this is my birthright. There's a goddamn precedent. I know the time, spare change, how much was spent. But no one talks about it, even when I ask the question.

    I guess that leaves us with one option. Hope the concussions never come home to roost. Try to think about happy things. Stop wondering why I get scared every time a telephone rings.

    1. "My sometimes are running out - better hurry."
      Exactly. Feeling it more each day. So it's good we don't delay with all we need to say.

  16. He sat at the table, smiling through cigarette smoke.

    "Hit me again."

    The big man shrugged, throwing another fist at the smiling face. More blood. The smile didn't leave.

    "You can keep this up all night. I don't care. I want it. Hurt me as much as you want to. Hell, untie my hands and I'll do it myself."

    They glanced at each other, the big men in suits.

    "Hey, Pal. You think you can bluff us, but we don't bluff easy. You want me to start pulling teeth? Fingernails? You want to smell your skin burning?"

    "I don't give a fuck. That's what I'm telling you. I'll black out before you can do anything too horrible. And then you'll wake me up and we'll dance again. I'm not trying to be a tough guy. I'm not brave. I'm just telling you that you're busting your knuckles up for nothing."

    The men in the suits smiled. There was a gunshot from the dark corner of the room. They laughed.

    "Fuck it. Fuck him."

    They called the boss and told him. They turned his body over - dead eyes, but the smile was still there.

    1. I like this one, JD. Sometimes a win and a loss are the same damn thing.

    2. Not a bluff at all. Strong stuff as usual, Dan, and thank you.

  17. She opened her small hand and the butterfly escaped. She giggled - she was not trying to hold it hostage...

    The cement was warm and it dimpled the back of her legs. She watched the butterfly, blue and black, fade into the ocean of plastic blue above her.

    She looked at the bruise on her arm and thought about it. Black and blue. It looked so much prettier on the butterfly.

    And she cried.

    All she had wanted was to play. But Julie Myers had called her fat. And it was a mountain of insult. It was not the first time someone had called her fat.

    She wasn't fat. But she didn't know that.

    She didn't want to go home because Mom would know and make cookies and she'd eat them right in her stupid, fat face because otherwise Mom would ask questions. Tell her that she was beautiful.

    The cookies would taste like sawdust.

    A shadow fell over her and she looked up into the big, brown eyes of her brother. He looked like he was about to cry or punch something. He looked so tall.

    "I heard what happened."

    "Don't tell Mom! Promise!"

    He scuffed his Chucks in the grass. One lace flapped like a basset ear.

    "I won't tell her. But you're not fucking fat. You're nine. And Julie is a fucking idiot."

    Her mouth fell open.

    "Bobby! You cursed."

    He winked.

    "I know. Don't tell Mom."

    She smiled. Took his hand. Stood up.

    "I love you."

    "I know. And that bruise looks ugly. I'm sorry. I was a jerk."

    "A big, fat jerk!"

    He laughed and picked her up.

    "True. I was. And I will be again. I can't say anything that will make it right."

    "What can you say?"

    "I can say that I'm fourteen and confused. You're nine and you're the sweetest, most beautiful girl I know. Even if you are my sister."

    He jabbed her in the ribs. She almost said, "ow" - instead, she crawled on his back and he became a horse. She knew he would. He always did. He was not a knight in shining armor. He was a horse, though. A nice horse.

    She rode home thinking about how hard it would be to carry a fat girl. Julie was an idiot. A FUCKING idiot. She smiled. There were cookies waiting at home.

    They shared them, passing the carton of milk between them.

    1. What a lovely, heartstring pulling story. Beautifully done.

  18. It was cold on the twenty-third floor. I almost wished I could change my mind. I'd stepped out through the window onto the balcony, courting the possibility of what I'd already decided to do, knowing that I'd already made the decision I'd made and that there was no going back.

    I'd not left a note. It wasn't going to be a suicide. More a revelation than anything else. If things worked out I'd be back soon - or not at all. If things worked out, maybe I'd have no need of my old life. Or the people in it.

    And so I stripped. Just me in my least; everything matching, of course. As soon as the door snicked shut, leaving my outer clothes on the other side, it was all decided.


    The wind and the rain were unexpected, of course. I'd not considered them. I knew it'd be cold - it was January, for Christ's sake. But I thought I'd have more time. Time to consider.

    But, of course, time was the last thing I needed. I was already committed when the door closed behind me. After that, it was just a matter of time... and comfort.

    I knew I'd freeze if I stayed put; the rain was almost sleeting and I was already beginning to curl up on myself. Another five minutes and I'd have no chance - I'd be too huddled up in myself to soar.

    And I needed to soar. Even if it was just the one time.

  19. You do everything too much; it's not healthy. Even the healthy things. You make them unhealthy. You look bad. Pale. Your eyes don't shine. You eat like shit and keep losing weight. Your brain hates you, it bullies you - are you gonna just sit and take it? You are. You fucking sap. Can't you smell the wildflowers? Can't you remember that Spring is important. No. You're glued to that couch and that mindset and your self-imposed misery. And you hate the rest of them because they're happy. And that makes you hate yourself more. It's comical, your stupidity. That's why they laugh at you. You don't think they do? They do. Because they glide through life on weird self-assurances that are unwarranted. And you're drowning in the rapids of quick sadness - and it's your fault.

    It's all your fault.

  20. Punk rock played an unexpected role in the revolution. Previously, punks were known to be all hat and no cattle, so to speak: they talked a big fight, but never dared to directly challenge state authority. That changed when sixteen-year-old Shawn “Chef Pants” Persson was arrested for the murder of a Phoenix police officer, and claimed to have been inspired by the message of notoriously-militant Los Angeles-based punk rock band Cheap Escape. When the media contacted frontman Avi Lehrer for comment, he wryly answered, “what do you want me to say, man? That I’m appalled? That my heart goes out to the dead pig’s family, and I disapprove of Chef Pants’ actions? You think I’m some kinda poseur or something? Like this is all just an act to sell records? Fuck that noise. I say what I mean and mean what I say. And I say that kid’s a fuckin’ hero. I wish every single one of our fans would do the same, though I’d hope most of them don’t get pinched. As soon as I get off the phone with you, I’m gonna get online and put some money on his commissary card.”

    Persson, the younger son of a medical assistant and an undertaker, was somewhat known in the Phoenix scene as “a weird kid, even as punks go, but generally super nice”. While he adamantly refused to speak to police without a lawyer, he readily admitted, once alone with his public defender, that he stabbed that cop to death, but only did so because the cop was getting rough with his best friend, fellow punk Ramon Hernandez. Once the story got out, it quickly went viral across the Internet; most took it as a heart-warming, if bleak, example of interracial solidarity, as a middle-class white youth faced a long prison sentence for sticking up for his Latino friend against a notoriously racist authority. That spiky-haired kid sure didn’t expect #FreeChefPants to trend on Twitter, ever, nor did he expect to get fan mail, and have strangers putting money on his commissary card, while he rotted in an Arizona state correctional facility.


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