Friday, March 3, 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.

I awoke to the rumble of a country train, standing in the shadows of a subtle summer rain. It's a place I know well. A place I go to all the time - sometimes in reality, but mostly in my mind. But I can see it. Most of my internal wanderings lead me to dark, blurred, and confusing places, but there is only birdsong and tranquility under the watchful gaze of the train at the place where the stream runs through. 

I'll show it to you.

You need to go under the tracks to get to the hole, and you can fish under the tracks, but I've never caught anything there except backstory and proclamations. Small scratches and paint sprays that are still rural enough to be about love, written in a teenager's hand. 


I am convinced that, someday, I will catch a monster under that bridge, so I stay a while, longer if it's hot, but there is often a light rain. Why? I don't know. Perhaps the fish gods know that I don't visit the bend by the railroad bridge with any evil intent. I visit with barbless hooks, and I walk slowly. And I never allow myself more than four fish.

When you step out of the bridge's shadow, you see the bend. On the right, treefall and chaos. Swirling eddies and it looks just about impossible to fish. 


It's not.

You can sink a piece of corn, a fly, a worm - you can let the eddy dance it round, on the surface or deeper down. And you will catch trout. And you will always, always miss one fish. Or catch it and break your line off. No doubt at all - under the limbs that reach out like spectral fingers into the black water ... there are fish in there that can stop your heart. 


The water is as clear as my thoughts are muddied, half awake. The water under the tree is deep. Deeper than you want to find out the hard way, so stay back. The stream is about fifteen feet across and there is a canopy of trees. I like to fish the bend in winter most of all, when there is snow, and the trees match my mood. 

Past the tree, the water flows gently and careful casts will let you swing your bait around the corner, and you can catch trout all day. Sometimes rainbows - most of the time, this is where the brook trout go to play. And they seem to know that I won't hurt them. That I just want to say hello and then send them home. 

You can hear the train from a good ways off and, when it passes, the thunder is inside you, but it doesn't faze the fish. They are used to it. The fish at the bend by the railroad track know the rhythm as sure as they know that I'll always be coming back.

Dream or not, that stream is waiting. The trains are running and time is irrelevant. The fish are steady, and every pause is pregnant. It is a real place, I promise you. I can see it clear as the pure water I splash onto my face on warm days.

Now, it is time to go to work, the dream's already fading. But I know it will be there. Always. Waiting.


#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...

47 comments:

  1. I can hear the train and the water... and I can see you fishing it... this is sensuous and beautiful... and I need to find a place where I can catch those "backstory and proclamations" fish...

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    1. You paint such a vivid picture, the lure is compelling. I always remember that someone called fishing a Zen sport. A beautiful reminder of that. Thank you, Dan.

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    2. This is proof positive of my latest theory I just made up: that fishing is philosophy.

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  2. It was, she knew, an eccentricity, but what was the point of being the last billionaire without at least one expensive habit?

    The enclosure was a work of art. Titanium, stainless steel, glass panels. Glass specially engineered to allow only specific wavelengths of light in. Glass strong enough to withstand bomb blasts.

    The enclosure's environment was another scientific marvel. Gases perfectly mixed in exact proportions, humidity maintained on a cycle that matched the old weather patterns. Breezes generated by silent fans in imperfect rhythms.

    Sometimes she sat in the enclosure and closed her eyes, feeling the artificial winds, imagining the sounds of birds and animals; birds and animals long extinct, victims of The Last War.

    She'd read of enough wars to know that there would be no "last war" until there were none left to fight it. Given current procreation rates, perhaps it would be so.

    It had taken a decade to find the specimen at the center of the enclosure. Six continents searched. Teams of scientists who might otherwise have been working on developing crops that could be grown for food. But what matter? How much longer would there be mouths to feed?

    Now, she took the elevator from her lavishly simple office, all black and white and chrome, down to ground level.

    When the elevator door opened, she felt and heard the whoosh of the controlled climate flow upon her skin, the same humidity that her ancestors, long dead, had felt upon their skin.

    She unbuttoned the pink synthetic blouse she wore. It was an abomination in the presence of something so natural, so primordial.

    She dared look upon it: the last tree on earth. It was perfect in its imperfections. It was not symmetrical, nor did it need to be. Some leaves were vivid green, some more yellowish, and if the horticulturalists were right, it was self-pollinating, and might one day bear fruit.

    She hoped so. One day, before she died, she wanted to taste food that was not made from yeast. She wanted an apple from this tree.

    Her name was Eve.

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    1. Oh my god, I love this story so much, Leland. Damn. I was immersed the whole time and I think my heart skipped a beat with that last line.

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    2. I scrolled up and saw Dan's comment about the last line from glancing at it. And you STILL managed to knock my socks off at the end. That is amazing.

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    3. I think this is good enough without the last twist. In fact, call it "The New Eve" and end it on the line before, and then it's perfect.

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  3. Heavy starch on cotton. Wranglers with a crease pressed in, and his last clean rodeo shirt. The smell filled the truck. He didn't mind. It was the scent of promise, of possibility. The Texas sagebrush flew by the side windows. He could see for miles on the highway, and he was the only one on it. In the distance, the pavement shimmered in the summer heat like water, a mirage.

    He turned up the radio and sang along with Dolly Parton and tried not to think of last night's phone call, tried not to hear the words his dad wheezed from his hospital bed. The words were alien, words his papa had never said before.

    Focus on the rodeo, he lectured himself, not on the call. Visualize yourself on the back of that bronco, holding on till the buzzer sounds. Visualize the belt buckle you're gonna win.

    But the memory of his daddy's voice broke through his focus. "You're a good rider, son. You're gonna win this one."

    He wasn't supposed to say shit like that. Bad luck, like telling an actor good luck before a performance. 'Course "break a leg" wasn't something you said to a cowboy who'd broken both of them a couple of times.

    He tried to get off the phone, but his daddy wasn't done just yet. "Jonah, I know, I've known for a long time that you...that you like men."

    Even now, just from the remembering, his face flushed red.

    "And I just want to tell you I love you. I'm proud of you."

    "I love you, too, Papa..." and the line went dead.

    When he called the hospital back, he found out his daddy was dead, too.

    And who knew that mesquite put out enough pollen to make a man's eyes water, and that cowboys were loners, except when they rode with the ghosts of their fathers.

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  4. The dog sat in the middle of the road. I recognized it from a thousand times of driving by, but I never stopped. I slowed down. Still it sat there. Finally, I stopped, and the dog howled like it was in pain.

    "You okay, boy?" I asked through my open window.

    The dog still cried, and stared at me. I pulled to the side of the road and got out. The house his owner lived in was a half mile away. Surely he could hear his dog?

    The dog looked at the house, and back at me.

    "You're not gonna bite me, are ya?" I moved closer to him, but he skittered away, toward home. He seemed to be in working order. I opened the truck door, and he jumped in.

    "I guess that means you need a ride?" What the hell, I'd drive him home. I backed up to the driveway and pulled in. Something was wrong. No one came out of the old farmhouse. I parked, and I got out, closely followed by the dog. I made tonwalk toward the house, but the dog blocked me, then ran toward the barn, then back to me.

    I followed him, shouting a big hallloooo but was answered only by the howling wind. The dog pushed against a door, unable to open it, so I opened it for us both.
    Not good to surprise a man in the country. Folks out here carry guns wherever they go.

    "I brought your dog..."

    The man's body twirled slightly on the rope that hung from the rafters, and the dog jumped, trying to reach him.

    And that's how I got the dog. He disappears every Sunday, but I know where to find him. I know he's crying in a ramshackle barn, and I know he's mine the other six days of the week, but that day, he belongs to a dead man, a man he loved. He's a good dog, but I still don’t know his name.

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    1. Jesus, what did you eat for breakfast. Eat it every goddamn day. Another crushing beauty.

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    2. You wield a pen that evokes such strong emotions. I'm late in reading these, haven't even posted one myself but you'll always catch my eye with "dog" in the tale. Beautiful and sad. Unconditional love at it's most eloquent.

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  5. Part one:
    ___________

    Stillness. A lime-green-and-cream fifties model Buick by a lake. Backdropped by a silent bank of conifers, half-lit by a quarter moon. A woman in a headscarf stepping gracefully into a boat. A shadow man taking her hand.

    You think you know what's happening here? Well, you don't.

    Back then, we summoned from nothing the possible. We dreamed up heists in our methamphetamine haze and enacted them. Constantly amazed they worked. Purloined heat from frigid matrons. Took what was undoubtedly ours. Dropped slack dumbass bodies into lakes.

    Once, we stopped in the desert, a trunkful of bills, stopped and took off hurtling like gazelles. She was a vision. Her flower print dress clinging to her damp curves, riding high, her thigh sweat like raindrops lashing from a clothesline as she pistoned across the scrub, heedless of snake or cactus or ankle-trap burrow. My crazy mother. High-strung, they said, betraying both their bloodlust and their envy.

    "This isn't the place," I said, once I found my breath.

    "Sure it's the place."

    "You will get us caught."

    "Stop worrying, my sweet, sweet boy. Life is so short. None of this matters. Dance with me here."

    So I did. Under a splayed galactic sky, serenaded by the wild desert dogs, amid pinpoints of virescent treachery, I danced with my half-mad mother and felt her core try to scorch the fulsome night.

    ***

    Another customer, another delayed minute before I can cash out and go home.

    We got ourselves a menagerie tonight. Three college boys celebrating somethin' I never figured out, a couple on the verge of breakup or proposal, ain't sure which, two women in them headscarves worn by A-rabs, a goddamned family of six here way past their kids' bedtime. Some dire Indian veteran alone at the bar. Two off-duty cops, a man and a woman (can always smell five-o). A black drifter, the one just came in. The one that spoke right after the bell above the door finished jingling.

    "Better ignore me or shoot me, but I got a bad tale to relate."

    ***

    Here we are. No longer able to tell sadness from meanness. No longer caring to. It might even have mattered once. Remember that visit when you drove from your family's home and one of their tiny marmalade kittens had crawled unbeknownst into your wheel well? Bones no thicker than a quail's. How quickly and immediately it died, a smear on a swatch of the slow-turning world. Ten weeks' worth of wide-eyed warmth cooled in an instant. Yet even thwarted, life won't relent.

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  6. Part two:
    _________

    These eyes have watched a half century of things: melodrama, atrocities, gelato, acceptance, secrets, luminosity, triumph, toxins. No wonder they look weary, weighty as grey velvet curtains draped behind a crime scene.

    Why not come to something new with curiosity instead of suspicion? You think jaded is a good look? Sure, have it your way. But only if dead is too.

    ***

    "Here's my tale. My momma was a good woman. Sure, all a y'all would say the same 'bout your mommas. But mine was 'specially good. Why? Simple. Because she held off a full invasion while being tormented, just to let her kids escape. Ten of us made it, including me ... obviously. Five of them died. Which is why I'm here."

    I weren't impressed. Be the first to call myself impatient. "That's it? The whole tale? I cain't even do the doggone math."

    "Hell, it ain't ended yet, girl. Open that door. Go take a look outside. You think there's the silent desert out there?"

    "Well, sure ain't the Big Apple, if that's what you mean."

    Can't explain this, but I wanted to smile right then, like I quit, like I was cryin' uncle, though it gets harder for your face to change as you age. Something about how the muscles lose their pliancy. And I ain't even old. But we all watched as the Indian, who maybe ain't ever smiled, not once, made his slow way to the door, opened it, shrugged, and disappeared into the night. And I mean disappeared. It wasn't just night out there; there was no "out there" out there. Pitch-black; an absence. Don't hardly have the words. Read it in a National Geographic once, about space: the heat death of everything.

    The drifter looked me dead in the eye and then everyone else in the diner: the fratboys, the sand niggers, the lovebirds, the breeders, the law. "Y'all ain't gonna like how this story goes, I'm afraid…"

    ***

    "Quick, tell me a cliché."

    "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired."

    "You need to listen to the right songs."

    Words spit from the void. We leave our eventual faces as fossils half-gathered by beachcombers distracted by showers of glittering meteors. I loved you from the start, just came to say hello, but now I'm the brokenhearted. Dreaming of escape, pretending you're not a rat and this is no damn sewer.

    And for a second or two, it works.

    You walk beneath the land bridge at the shore—a small and timid biped framed by an arch of granite and greenery, half-dreamed into reality by heartache and salt.

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    1. Wow. "Purloined heat from frigid matrons." That phrasing hit me so hard. and the cliche dialogue at the end. And everything else. I say this every week, but I think this is my favorite. So good, brother.

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    2. So many wondrous turns of phrases but this dazzled me.

      Under a splayed galactic sky, serenaded by the wild desert dogs, amid pinpoints of virescent treachery, I danced with my half-mad mother and felt her core try to scorch the fulsome night.

      Incredible.

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  7. The tall man was hairy and covered in tattoos. He moved oddly too; like a bird but more predatory than that – although, if a bird could have grown to almost seven feet in height, it might also have had such a way about it.

    “Come,” he said. “Let us away.” He reached down to me, his fingers long and bony and with what seemed at least an extra knuckle in each of the fingers. He pulled me to my feet and it was then that I noticed the rancidness of him; his body-odour strong enough to make my eyes water.

    The group of men who’d attacked me had backed away now, unsure of this new stranger. He’d seemed to appear from nowhere – I would have been trying to get away from him myself if he’d not taken such a tight hold of my hand that I thought I’d need a saw to separate the two of us. I shook my head, hoping he’d take the hint and let go.

    “It’s okay. I’m good. Thanks, and all that, but I can take it from here.”

    My rescuer looked puzzled, his eyes boring into mine, not finding anything there he understood. He didn’t let my hand go, either.

    “Look,” I said. “I’m sorry.” I noticed the broken remains of my phone. It gave me an idea. “I did call the police before they attacked me though. You’ll better go before they get here. Otherwise, you could get into trouble, especially if you insist on trying to take me away from here.”

    The man took hold of my chin with his other hand, his fingers cradling my jaw.

    “Where is the guilt in taking away that which is already removed? If you were not already set apart, you would not have been prey to those fancies that brought you to us, to our attention. You would not have discerned us and us you. You were already the most part gone from this world when we materialised here, into the knowing of one another.” He shook my head, his arm straightening as he drew himself to his full height.

    “Indeed, you wished us here, here to this mutual place. You may not have had the knowledge of that which you brought about but you did it just the same. You drove the wedge that fractured the space between the realms, creating interstices, inviting that which was once novel. And then you yourself came, strengthening the bonds between us, and drawing us in. And, I swear, we are honourable creatures; we will take that which you offered and no more. We will grant you that exeunt you desired, even though you knew it not.”

    I noticed that there were now others like him here now. Three more, striding toward me with feet that finished in hooves. The underpass where I’d been before had disappeared now and there was nothing familiar to be seen; just a dark sky with a crescent moon and lake where the town centre had been.

    “Do not worry,” the man said. “We are always fair with those we take. We Fae have been besmirched by your people. You will see.”

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    1. This is so strong, my friend. I want to read more.

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  8. Sally sells crystal meth down by the sea shore. Santa Cruz ain't what it used to be - someone tell the lingering hippies. Head north motherfuckers. Humbolt ain't that far and you don't have tweakers scratching their way across the boardwalk.

    Little Miss Muffet sat in the wrong seat at the movie theater. And she couldn't handle the coughing, so she shanked a teenager. Wasn't a good look. Didn't turn out well for either of them. After she got out of jail she started turning tricks. A different prison.

    Jack Sprat got sick of being called skinny. His wife just got too mean. So he poured kersosene everywhere and turned the trailer into a smoking pile of goo. Wiped clean.

    Jack did jump over the candle, but only to get his spoon. Spin the room. Settle into the nice, safe darkness. No time for clean needles.

    Let's be real about it. Little Red Riding Hood had a basket full of pipe bombs. The wolf was only trying to get by. He never asked to die.

    And the cow took a shit on the moon.

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    1. Well, that's rattled many a nursery rhyme in my head. Well done.

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  9. It fell from the dark sky. Small drops of something sinister. Smelled like sulfur and burned the skin. I ran, but you opened your mouth to catch the filth. Shouldn't have surprised me. You always were a shit-disturbing piece of trash.

    Everyone had questions about it and you mumbled your way through the open sores, explaining. I didn't say shit. I didn't have shit to say. How you gonna explain something like that. Magic? Blasphemy? Man, it didn't mean a thing to me.

    I left and I didn't look back. I didn't think about you. Until today. And I don't know why. You sit under overpasses with your veins open to the sky. I think, hell, I used to know this guy...

    And I wonder what you'll do. How far it's gone. How far gone ARE you? I'm sad enough to be glad that you're just something I scraped off my shoe.

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  10. Stop

    Stop the flow, seal the cap, tap the end, steal it dry; no, make it pour with the memory of whistling stillness, where the babbling brook creeps in this slick stifling heat, oft trailing a white gust of light twisted in the midst of a spiky dandelion’s sails – this brings life in the morning escape of a once blissful night.

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    1. Both beautiful and powerful. Way to come out of the gates with a bang. Love the first four phrases so hard.

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  11. She turned her head and her hair seemed to float. Those green eyes seemed to gloat. If it was cold, I would have offered her my coat. But it wasn't, so I topped off her wine glass and wondered.

    She talked too fast. Not chemical, more like she was afraid that she wouldn't get her say. I wondered who had tried to shut her mouth in the first place.

    The night droned on and it turned into weeks. She got stronger. I got weak. I felt lost and she felt like she'd found something. And I could tell, she was counting on me. I didn't have the heart to tell her.

    I left just before sunrise. And I didn't leave a note. And I didn't leave any money. I left an empty space. And I hoped she'd fill it with a better man, one who would listen AND understand.

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    1. One living, one dying. It happens all too often in relationships. Both deserve more. Here's hoping they find it. Well done.

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    2. I'm most taken with the green eyes, and just before sunrise... new beginnings, saying I love you by saying goodbye... good stuff

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  12. Being

    In this sea
    This unbecoming slip of me
    I live the life I came to be

    Running silence swiftly
    It’s but the I the ego sent
    Invisibly, reckoning, playful,
    One side twisted, reflected
    In the spinning of an eye.

    Bewitched, a Venus in arc,
    Ever searching, never at rest,
    Reaching for the never ever
    In a ditch of blinking dark.
    It twists, prises apart
    The days sunk into night,
    Where yellow lifts the mood,
    Blue brings it to a low.

    The mountain always calls,
    The most incongruous path,
    Where life lies burrowing
    Unknowing where it drifts
    Or whom it seeks to meet.

    Seeking this oneness
    Always beyond its grasp,
    Never giving in to failure
    While imagination sighs
    A word waiting to unravel
    Into another lost without
    These things to be found
    When the looking ends.

    I seek the life whither to be
    This thinking, feeling me
    Beyond this sea

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    1. Amazing to me that you can write a piece with this gravitas and still keep the language playful.

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  13. Finality

    It’s in the echo,
    The paper parts pulled apart –
    This treasured time we shared;
    Minutes speeding into years,
    Swept away on my imagination.

    We danced in pale candlelight,
    Sipped claret wine entwined,
    Sought to find our true selves
    Deep within the other self.

    And so we wandered blindly,
    Propped up by the other,
    Only seeing the one and only
    Until the summer tilted;
    Unheated, the paint peeled away,
    Stealing colour, laughter, lightness,
    Revealing dull bones beneath.

    I never knew how grey you were,
    These lines, contours, mounds,
    Sinews, muscles, painted lips,
    Ground down into the ground,
    Yawning dank breath, yellow teeth,
    Your smile hijacked by a grimace.

    I ached to waste so much time,
    Drifting through, settling again,
    Losing sight of the things I love.
    Never again, I tell myself,
    This reflection creating a whole
    Where once the stray lines failed.

    I remember you with honest eyes,
    Gone the tinted speckled glass
    And the fear of existing alone
    When isolation is a natural state,
    A buzzing crowd not so great
    To the heart beating out of pace.

    I remember you in bits disjointed,
    The paper parts no longer fit.
    To glue them would take forever
    With at least one piece amiss,
    For what is gone is long gone
    And there the echo lies.

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    1. This is beautiful. I especially was struck by: "I remember you in bits disjointed"

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  14. Splintered

    The crack in the wall says it all. Neither big nor small, a figment of the tall. It’s as if the concrete seeks to speak, the pressure to say, all too much. Broken, it wishes to relate its story, an explanation of its flaw, once only a line, now an ever-widening split; a chasm in its memory. I could paint it over. The act taking a few minutes of my time, but this would cheat it. The wall deserves to have its say. Today it may throw off its invisibility shield, seeking to define itself beyond its obvious purpose. Wall, take the floor.

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    1. Ohhh... brevity and rhyme... well done!

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    2. This reminds me of a piece I wrote. We seem to have a similar obsession with walls and cracks. ;)

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  15. Between

    There's a rock, there's a hard place.
    In between's no place to be.
    When your boat's taking water,
    In a dark and stormy sea.

    As you try treading water,
    Going under, sinking fast.
    No salvation, you're fodder,
    Waiting for the cannon blast.

    When you can't win for losing.
    Silver lining's overcast.
    Life has punched hard, you're bruising.
    Wondering how you'll ever last.

    There's a light, there's a beacon,
    As you struggle in the dark.
    Don't give up though you weaken.
    Almost losing hope's dim spark.

    Just beyond the horizon,
    Let my candle light the way.
    Beyond clouds, lies a new Sun,
    And a better, brighter day.

    I will never forsake you.
    In my heart, ever a place.
    We can beat, we will fight through,
    Any obstacles we'll face.


    -Tamara McLanahan

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    1. Lovely. And there are hints or RW Service here, elevated. Fantastic.

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  16. The wake

    A wake to the dark, he said. Thus was how he described it – a burial of the old self before his time. A burial of the will to live, I’d thought, but left it unsaid. But of course, these things can never be uttered into the space beyond your mouth.

    At eighty-six, he’d done it all. I think he wanted everyone to know he’d done it all. Perhaps green was his colour and he wanted to see it on the faces of us all. I mean all of us – these dim flower heads lining the hall, perched on the cliff edge of sticky plastic seats.

    I felt my arse go positively numb as I gripped my flapping paper plate, stacked with a mini avalanche of finger-like sausages, cheese-and-pineapple sticks, not-so-perky crisps (I know how they feel), peanuts, garibaldis, custard creams and Eileen’s Chocolate Surprise. It would surprise me if it actually contained any chocolate. Crumbs scuttled to the floor as I listened – a delight for the midnight mice.

    We all glanced at one another when Len tottered backstage with Eileen, him with his dodgy hip and her in those nine-inch stilettos – how, why? It was like watching a giraffe and a duck. Perhaps this was one of those May-to-October or was it April-to-December relationships, we wondered, the invisible question marks hovering over our heads. But no, he soon returned without her, dressed in a clown suit.

    Unfortunately, this didn’t raise a fart of a chuckle. There’s nothing funny about an old man in a clown suit, quite the reverse. And at least three people with extreme phobias scuttled out of the room like terrorised crabs.

    “I’m gay,” the clown announced.

    That broke the ice. The news was received with several loud chuckles that had nothing to do with the red nose or fish-shaped slippers. It was the biggest joke of the night.

    “Erm, but I am,” he repeated. “My friends, after 59 blissful years of marriage – God rest her soul – three sons, two daughters, nine grandchildren, three dogs, nine cats, a couple of canaries, a rabbit and 18 years of not smoking, I want to tell you that today I’m coming out. And there’s a special person I’d like you to meet.”

    To stifle my own shock, having shared a sultry four-month fling with the man, I stuffed the chocolate cake straight into my gob. Seems Len’s attraction to the hairier sex was the only surprise of the night.

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    1. Clowns, cakes and giggles... thanks for this. "...not-so-perky crisps (I know how they feel)" made me laugh...

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    2. Exactly what I was going to say. :)

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  17. It had seemed like the perfect solution to hide out in the cabin. Nestled in a copse of trees on the lower slope of the mountain with the nearest neighbour a good half a mile away, it afforded her a safe haven to gather her thoughts and try to make sense of recent events.
    Though it hadn’t been used for at least two years the interior was in pretty good shape. She had aired the place out by opening the windows and allowing the fresh pine scented air waft through and replace the stagnant mustiness. Tinned groceries, bread and milk which she’d purchased from a gas station a few miles back were stashed in a newly scrubbed cupboard and kettle was coming to the boil on a wood stove. Everything didn’t seem so bad now with the sun shining and the peaceful sounds of nature acted as a soothing balm for her troubled mind. The sighing breeze rustling through the trees became a lullaby as, exhausted from the day’s exertions she sank into the shabby but comfortable armchair and allowed sleep to wash over her.
    She awoke with a start and stared around the room in confusion. It took a minute or two to get her bearings. Her head felt foggy and remnants of a bad dream tugged at her mind, merely glimpses of unknown darkness grasping yet unable to take the shape of coherent thought. Sweat dripped into her eyes even though she felt cold and she hugged herself tightly.
    The room was dim and as her awareness returned she wondered how long she had slept. She pulled a shawl around her shoulders and went to peer through the window, surprised to see it was almost dark outside. An uneasy feeling took hold of her. The darkness beyond the window seemed claustrophobic and the bright sunny feel of the cabin which had welcomed her earlier in the day, was now replaced by a sinister oppressiveness. She felt as though unseen eyes were watching her from the gloom and the cheerful sounds which had filled the afternoon were gone, replaced by intermittent shrieks which sounded strange and menacing.

    She quickly pulled the curtains to, bolted the door then lit a lantern. Chastising herself for being ridiculous she turned to face the room smiling and shaking her head at her silly thoughts and thinking a nice cup of tea might calm her nerves when she froze on the spot.
    She hadn’t noticed when she woke up and the room was in shadows but now she could see. On table was a plate containing a half-eaten sandwich and a steaming mug of coffee. A large kitchen knife lay in the middle smeared with what could only be blood. A coil of rope half dangled from the edge of the table.
    Covering her mouth with her hand she frantically searched the room with her eyes hardly daring to move. It was an open-plan space with nowhere to hide and although she was certain there was no one else inside, she knew beyond doubt that something was very wrong and that she was in extreme danger.

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    Replies
    1. I love this piece. The tone is so spot on. The terror and confusion is palpable. Well in, lady.

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  18. BILL USELESS

    He couldn't afford an attorney. That I can understand. He needed what little money he earned shoveling walks and raking leaves to buy cheap wine. He told me once he dreamed he had a huge cellar like Amontillado's, but he couldn't calm the tremors in his hands to bring down the wall. I can believe whatever rumors I hear about old Captain Bill "Useless" Grant, but then a neighbor who attended one of his court appearances for vagrancy told me what Grant said to the man in the black robe: "I don't appreciate being judged. Who are you to judge me?" After the court exploded in a confetti of raucous laughter, Bill was hauled off for contempt, now quoting from his own diary about how the world was unfair, the judge should be fired, and the price of Thunderbird Wine had better come down.

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