Friday, March 17, 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.

He couldn't stand the noise. The noise is what did it. And it wasn't even an awful noise - no scraping, screeching horror. Hell, he'd liked the noise at first, but it never stopped. It never fucking stopped. In white-trimmed sitting rooms with sheer window dressings and fancy couches, the noise ate at him, making him question his resolve, his sanity.

And he laughed and smiled with the rest, well-dressed. He presented a good public figure. He was loved by all, but, sometimes, in a twitch of moonlight, his mouth would twist - and you could see that it was winning. 

No one else heard it. That was the rub of it. He'd established that quickly and then clammed up so as not to sound crazy. He had to pretend that nothing was wrong. 

That he couldn't hear it.

And that is how we find him here, wrapped around a bottle of whiskey, naked, with both guns in reach - praying. He's damn near begging. 

"Something stop the noise."

#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. I can hear it... and I can feel his struggle... and I know the begging... good story, good execution.

    1. "Something stop the noise." Lord hear my prayer! Excellent and yes the struggle is real.

    2. What they said. Nothing like an enemy you can't fight. :(

  2. We sing the litanies of loss in minor keys,
    sharp notes to prick us with new pain to distract us from death.
    Tiny drops of blood washed away by rivulets of tears.
    Hollow souls, saying goodbye to filled souls as they find their path to heaven,
    we wait in hell for the liberation they know
    Our funeral dirges slow them, weigh them down.
    They wait for us to adapt, to stop looking for them, to stop bleeding, to slow the tears
    And they wait for new music.
    At last untethered,
    Spirits soar highest on major chords and laughter.

    1. Wonderful, truly poetic and divinely musical. So much so that felt a tremor as several 16th century popes rolled in their, whatever they're in. Tombs?

    2. lol, indeed... thank you kindly, sir.

    3. <3 This is pretty much perfect, Leland.

    4. aw, thanks... it felt good to write a poem for a change.

  3. The dog knew, as dogs always do. It is the way of a dying creature to crawl away, to die alone. The members of his pack pretend to not notice, in a difficult attempt to allow the nearly dead some dignity.

    Dogs do not fill a backpack. The man put in a metal flask, a pack of Marlboro Reds, a notebook, a pen, and a pistol. When he hoisted the pack to his shoulders, he looked at the dog, bent down and ruffled the fur on its head.

    "Thanks, buddy."

    He checked the food dish, made sure there was water, and ignored the dog's whining. When he closed the door from the other side, he did not lock it.

    He walked to the creek, blanking his mind, so he would hear only the laughter of the water, birdsong, and wind through the trees. He knew the path well. He knew his destination and allowed his feet to carry him there.

    A small meadow, green grass, and a few irises blooming this time of year. There was a gnarled tree, dead now, that he'd often leaned against as he wrote. It seemed to be the right place for whatever was about to happen.

    It was odd, walking without the dog. There was no canine rustle in the tall grass by the creek, no woof to announce the finding of a rodent, no delivery of gift mice at his feet.

    The sun rose in the sky, shortening his shadow; a metaphor?

    At last he arrived. He knelt at the foot of the old tree, and mourned its passing. He hoped that the offspring of the tree would know a human, would, in a hundred years, shelter writers of their own.

    He removed the cargo from his backpack. The flask first, a sip to burn the fear out of his throat. He removed the cellophane from the pack of cigarettes, and the foil top. He withdrew one cylinder of white, held it to his nose, inhaled the perfume of tobacco, its undertones of sweat and dirt, and slavery. The lighter was in his pocket. He did not remove it yet.

    He lay the pen and notebook on the grass and turned, so that his back rested against the tree. The bark was sharp, even through his denim shirt. He closed his eyes and imagined he could read words in the texture of the bark, through the nerves of his skin.

    Eyes still closed, he pulled the pistol out, and felt its indifferent weight. It was without conscience, without desire, without envy. The gun simply was.

    His mind wandered. He wondered if more lives were lost from guns or words, from tobacco or alcohol, which was most habit-forming, which was most deadly.

    Reverently, he placed the gun next to him, barrel pointed away, safety on, and reached for the notebook. Its blank pages taunted him. Dared him, really, to find some words worthy of the sacrifice made by a tree in an unknown forest so that he might have this blank paper.

    He lit the cigarette. Inhaled deeply, feeling the smoke explore his lungs. He exhaled, wishing he knew the art of blowing smoke rings.

    One cigarette for each love of his life, and when they were done, and after one more sip from the flask, he uncapped the pen and began the story: “The dog knew, as dogs always do…”

    1. I knew an old dog who started walking in circles one day. Finally, the owner figured out it was a brain tumor. His circling grew faster and tighter as his life approached its end. Thing is, he didn't mind. The dog or the owner new that circles always complete themselves as much as would would like to think life is an endless climb in a straight line, or towards a cliff, or anything but those damn circles. I don't know why your story reminded me of that particular dog, but the circle you drew in such detail was about as perfectly drawn as can be. Dark, truthful, there is absolute beauty in considering the circles we all are on. In this respect, dogs probably know what we always seem to miss.

    2. ahhh... that's beautiful! and what a metaphor for life!

    3. I love the description here. Pulled me right in, where I could see and hear and feel everything, physically and emotionally.

  4. Beginning of something? Also, a slight Irish theme that's appropriate today albeit coincidental.

    It was a scene right out of Chandler, except I'm no gumshoe. A rain-soaked back alley at night, distant neon smeared abstract by the tireless storm. She wore Docs and a faded cotton dress, some reptile print. Gators or iguanas or some shit. Close-cropped hair and makeup-less. Celtic eyes dark as oxbow tannin. Her dress in the downpour so thin she might as well have been naked.

    Without a shred of lechery, I said, "Nice Brazilian."

    Despite her instant "Fuck you," a corner of her mouth twitched in a phantom smile.

    I passed her the thin package wrapped in plastic film and she slid it under her dress, smoothing it carefully against her lower belly like a newly expectant mom.

    "If I'd known, I'd have brought a raincoat."

    "Not a chance, mister."

    "I meant an actual raincoat."

    Again she smiled. Cursed at me without malice before leaning forward and whispering three words in my ear and then melting back into the night.

    "Yeah, bye, Sinéad," I called after her. Did I tell you I have a puerile sense of humor sometimes?

    It earned me one last well-deserved "Fuck you," and I could almost see it trailing off like cigarette smoke and rejoining the shadows—tragic, arch, and funny, like its source.

    Nothing compares, indeed.

    1. Besides damned fine writing, your story has now planted that song in my brain. Well done, sir!

    2. There is a kind of pulp fiction charm that is hard to capture. You nailed it, it takes a special sort of character to truly appreciate a well-deserved "fuck you." Hard to capture, but you did. The appreciation in itself is a kind of subtext "fuck you, too." Masterful.

  5. It was late afternoon when the little old lady entered my bookstore, triggering the little bell attached to the door. The bell wasn't really necessary as the old hardwood floor planks creak with every footstep making the presence of anyone in the shop impossible to miss. Even one so tiny as my visitor that afternoon. I recognized her, of course. A small town, our is, and Ms. Newton had been an English teacher here so many years that even I had her for seventh grade English.

    She was something back then, right out of college, enough to trigger the already peaking curiosity of young hormonal boys. "Good Afternoon, Ms. Newton! What can I do for you today?" I was curious as to what brought my childhood crush into my humble establishment in the middle of spring break.

    "I head that you provided certain services..."

    She appeared and uncertain if she should come out and plainly state her business. I tried to make it easier by being more direct.

    "Ms. Newton, for you to come to me for something this, eh, permanent, someone must really deserve to do penance. I trust that it is something more serious than passing notes in class?"

    Her face was grim and I thought that I also read some degree of shame upon her features. That was unexpected. "What was this transgression?"

    "Rape," she said softly.
    "Who was the victim?"

    I thought my heart might explode. I had to ask, though it really didn't matter. "When?"

    "That's not important," she said resolutely. Of course, she was right.

    "Okay, give me his name and I will visit him soon." My mind had been racing, but now that I was about to receive the information I needed, I was calm, committed to the task before me. I could not erase this man's terrible act, but I could and would give this wonderful woman some justice. I could erase that which I knew how to erase.

    She passed me a slip of paper with a familiar name on it. A small town, ours...

    Before turning to leave she asked, "What of your fee?"

    "That is not important," I said as I motioned for her to put her checkbook back in her purse.

    1. Oh, wow... I really like this. The concept of a bookstore shopkeeper being a superhero is awesome! Well done!

  6. He wondered if he’d ever get used to it. The rain was warm here, like fresh tears falling from the sky. Back home in Wyoming, when it rained, which was rarely, it was ice cold.
    He wondered if he’d ever stop thinking of it as home. He’d been on the big island for a decade now. Still a cowboy. The haole tourists never made it off the beach to the interior of the island, where there were ranches. They dropped their money in expensive resorts and went home with new precancerous cells on their skin and never saw the real Hawaii.
    He wondered if he’d ever believed he’d be anything but a loner. If he did, he didn’t remember. Solitude was a comfort and a curse, granted to him by the other cowboys. He was the only non-native on the ranch.
    It was Friday. Payday. And yeah, he managed another stereotype, he went to the bar on Fridays. Tonight, he was early.
    Sam the bartender stopped asking him what he wanted about five years ago. The shot of Jack Daniels was waiting for him on the bar before he even sat on the stool. The same stool.
    He scoped the place out in the mirror, and he saw only one other white face, down at the other end of the bar. The telltale pale forehead gave him away as a cowboy, too, along with his short blond hair.
    “New guy?” he asked Sam.
    “Tourist,” Sam spat out.
    The tourist cowboy stood up, put some money on the bar, and made his way over and drawled “Buy ya a drink?”
    “I can buy my own, thanks kindly.”
    “I guess you don’t recognize me. It’s been a few years.”
    They looked each other over. When recognition came, they bear-hugged.
    “It’s about Mother. She passed. Cancer.”
    He shook his head. “I dunno what to say.”
    “She left a letter for you.” He reached dramatically into the back pocket of his Wranglers.”
    The unopened envelope sat on the bar, while two brothers drank the night away, in a bar, on the Big Island, while the skies cried warm tears outside.

    1. As a former Big Islander, I loved the setting of this story and the take on tourists.

    2. Thanks! It was amazing to me to discover the interior of the island... I'm not easily impressed by touristy things, so it felt good to get out amongst the real people!

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  8. As a prison guard, Chip had seen some real doozies—CEOs who thought they were entitled to golf holidays, celebrities demanding their favorite designers upgrade their uniforms. He’d kept notes on all of them for his maybe-someday career as a bestselling author. But this new guy was worth taking the graveyard shift for. That’s when the fun really started.

    He’d just stepped into the corridor to begin his two a.m. sweep when--
    “Chipper! Oh, Chippieee… Aw, come on. Where’s my little friend? Where’s my little buddy?”

    The voice repelled yet fascinated him. In the space of seconds, Prisoner 84235 could go from sounding like a creepy old dude trying to lure a kid into his van with candy, then sink into a lower register, like he was aiming to get a girl into the vehicle instead. They said he was crazy and probably should have been sent across the river, where they had the good drugs and quiet, padded cells. But Chip guessed his lawyers kept him out of the bin. Why they hadn’t been good enough to keep him out of the system altogether, Chip could only speculate about. Some of the guards thought that was his wife’s idea. That doing time had more cache than doing psych time. That it would make him worth more when he got out.

    When he reached the cell, the voice crooned to him. “Chippppp-ieeeee... My phone doesn’t work.”

    Of course it didn’t work. Prisoners weren’t allowed to have cell phones. He’d whined like a toddler when they tried to take it, then he’d threatened to sue everyone in the building. So one of the female first-shift guards gentled it out of his hands long enough to remove the battery and the SIMM card, and he’d been content. For a while.

    “Did you try turning it off and turning it back on again?” Chip asked.

    “Yeah. Twice. This is very sad. And totally unfair.” He beckoned with his small fingers. “Come on, Chipster. Let me use yours, okay? I’ll make it worth your while.”

    “You know I can’t--”

    “Then maybe you can send a message for me? Come on.” The voice was like a bowl of thorns coated with honey. “You can do that. You did it before. Tell ya what. You do this now, I’ll let you write my next book.”

    Chip cocked his head. It was probably a bullshit offer, but at the very least, hearing this guy’s story could be entertaining. Maybe something he could use in his own book one day. He slipped the phone out of his pocket. “Okay,” he said. “What are we doing tonight? Email? Blog post?” His eyebrow hooked up. “Angry tweet?”

    Prisoner 84235 grinned, his face bunching like one of those wrinkle pooches. “Yeah. That. Tell ‘em—“ He waved a hand. “The apocalypse, the pestilence, the plague… the fact that there’s never any pistachio ice cream anymore...not my fault. It was fake. It was all fake.”

    “Like the fake news?” Chip wondered if he should pull up a chair.

    “No. All of it. The campaign. The election. The presidency. Me, even. What. You don’t believe me? Believe me.” He pointed at Chip’s phone. “Start tapping, pen monkey. Do I got a story to tell you.”

    1. I love it... and hope that fiction may lead to truth...

  9. Sadly, mine isn't fiction...

    Alan W. Jankowski, 1961-2017

    You always did like surprise endings,
    A twist no one could see coming,
    And that last one of yours was a doozy.
    Days later, we're still reeling,
    Not from the shock, which dissipates,
    But from a grief that lingers.
    You probably never knew
    The regard people held you in,
    For it seemed to sneak up
    As we chatted and laughed
    About topics big and small.
    Our esteem grew
    Alongside your virtual menagerie,
    And your helpful posts
    On contests and submission calls.
    We all owe you a debt of gratitude for those.
    You encouraged many of us
    To enter contests, to submit our work,
    To get our writing out into the world.
    It benefitted me immeasurably.
    We played off each other well, you and I,
    Whether it was the pressing problem
    Of someone thinking she was better than you,
    Jersey rejoicing after Colorado called,
    Or lining up ducks,
    We shared a common sensibility.
    Of course, things weren’t always rosy between us.
    We disagreed, sometimes vehemently,
    Yet we managed to put it behind us each time.
    I will miss you more than either of us might have guessed.
    Rest in peace,
    My pal - my colleague - my friend.

    1. A beautiful homage.... I'm so sorry for your loss.

    2. Lovely poem Maggie. He will be missed by so many. A nice tribute to Alan, who often mentioned his acclaimed 911 poem but always in a humble manner.

  10. Davina’s knuckles whitened. “How tight do they need to make these screws?” she said.

    The crate had been delivered end-up, its base running along on three small-wheeled castors, so she’d had little trouble manoeuvring it into the garage. There was more room to work on it there; fewer chances of her damaging anything if she had any problems opening it. She’d also decided ‘He’ could ‘live’ there. The house’s main electrical feed-point was in the garage, so it would be more convenient to set up ‘his’ charge-pod in there. And ‘He’ would be out of sight there: she couldn’t imagine sharing a room with a Mechanoid, especially at night when she was sleeping.

    Luckily for her, the crate had been delivered with its own toolset; a purpose-built clam-shell case holding a small selection of wrenches and screwdrivers, each one of them brightly coloured and labelled with a different letter. The manual that had been supplied with it had been brief and to the point; its first instruction had been to locate and then use the green screwdriver marked with an ‘A’, applying it to each of the eight screw-heads that had been helpfully shown on the diagram, releasing the lid on the front of the transit case. How hard could it be? There were even decals on the lid: each one of the eight securing points being marked in green with an ‘A’.

    Of course, that had been before she’d tried to open it.

    Seen up close, the crate looked like a coffin. It was silver and metallic and had the word ‘FRONT’ stencilled on the lid, the letters stylised so they looked like an arrow, pointing up. As though they’d thought everything through – making the whole procedure as near to fool-proof as they could.

    The first screw was the worst one. Starting at the bottom, she’d been crouched, pushing hard against the lid when the wheel-brake disengaged, the crate scooting across the floor until it hit the wall with a thud. Leaving her full-length on the ground, face down. The second screw was almost as bad, the handle on the screwdriver turning against her palm as it slipped on the sweat on her hand. The third one was no better, that was the one she tried to undo left-handed, the weakness in her fingers making it harder to grip tight enough. But after that it got easier - just a little.

    And so, she got them all loose, the orange pry-bar ‘B’ engaging in the slot exactly as shown in the book. And then she loosened the securing bands – blue wrench ‘C’ – and inserted red key ‘D’ in the panel she’d found on the reverse of the lid. And then nothing… just an error code, PCR#12, that appeared on the readout located beside the key.

    The manual was helpful though. There was a page to the rear that listed all the error codes, ranging from AAB#01 – ‘User reset required’ to ZZF#99 – ‘Protocol patch mismatch’, the relevant code having a footnote; PCR#12 – ‘Pass code required’. (Please note, for security reasons, the initial start-up pass code will be sent one day later in a separate package.)

    1. ohhhhh.... I LIKE it! Now I wanna know what "he" looks like... how he acts... will there be more to this story? I'm hooked!

  11. A little fried with editing and a little late to the ball. But I had this much to say today. And it ain't all. It ain't all.

    Big sister is watching and I ain’t your friend. We tending our gardens, waiting on your end.
    We feeding our old folks and children, going to our jobs.
    Getting fat on all the crumbs that you’ve thrown us
    While you face the mob
    In a Rollex watch with a diamond fob.
    We watching you shit on a gold-plated can
    Tweeting your rage
    Feeling your age
    And laughing behind our manicured hands.

    You wanna dismantle a constitution? Make an amendment where we can’t vote?
    You wanna do away with education and health care, pull the damn rug out from under the poor?
    It ain’t gonna happen, selfish old man
    Cause Big Sister is watching
    And we still here.

    So throw your tantrums, little man,
    Beat your chest and
    Throw your fits. As I’m sure all them wives have probably told you
    “This is my life, too
    And you ain’t it.”

    Big sister is watching, we’re waiting our time
    We’re going forward
    You lagging behind.

    Hey, you yes men? You wanna piece of this?
    You gotta come round to my way of thinking
    You better find a way to open your hearts
    Cause without that, without compassion
    You just a bunch of stupid old farts.

    I don’t need to wiretap your phones
    I don’t need to go to war
    I don’t need to be yo mama
    And I’m certainly not your whore.

    It’s hard to learn you ain’t important
    You’re not my equal
    You’re not my friend
    You’re just a scared little angry old man
    And you are gonna come into an end.

    Cause Big sister’s watching and offering a blessing
    Even if it’s a lesson you don’t want to hear.
    But we ain’t gonna shut up
    Or shut down or put up. Not while our gardens and children and old folks
    Are watching
    Not while we’re still here.
    You’re up on that pedestal, now my friend
    We’re down on the ground. Around kitchen tables
    But we still here. We still here.

    So watch your back and front and sideways
    Every breath you take, every move you make
    Every smile you fake
    We are watching you. The sister is mothers and fathers and elders
    Gays and soldiers and generals, too
    And we are watching sharing caring. We are watching you.

    A country ain’t no old boys club
    It ain’t no handmaid’s tale
    And when you finally realize that
    You have no choice but to fail
    Big sister watching from the microwave
    We see you in the sky
    And we ‘ll hang you from your own damn cross just as we have done before, cause we ain’t nobody’s mama and we ain’t nobody’s whore
    Prince of Thieves
    Prince of Lies

  12. The Donut Shoppe has become a dive that sells tamales and burritos and Coke in a can. The old Hot Biscuit is now the Seafood Shack. And the run-down remains of Rusty Taco still stands, deserted, where the Sonic drive-in used to be.

    Everything has changed. Nothing is the same…not even the way this place makes her feel.

    Once it was a cage. Her brother had described it as a black hole that kept sucking you back in no matter how hard you tried to escape. It had certainly seemed that way; she’d moved away no less than ten times, but she always kept returning to the small town where she’d grown up, no matter how much she didn’t want to. And she hadn’t wanted to. She’d missed her family when she moved away—every time she’d moved away—but she’d missed her friends when she moved home. Worse, she’d missed herself, the person she couldn’t be in the small-minded, backwoods town.

    Now, it was different, though.

    She still hated the closemindedness. She still hated that it was like the town that time forgot, in the worst way possible. She hated that the denizens of her hometown still thought it was their duty and their right to persecute anyone different. She hated that the girls who were growing up there were subjected to the same backwards thinking she’d been subjected to—beliefs that just about the only thing a woman could do was marry and pop out a passel of brats.

    But now it was no longer her cage. She no longer had to miss herself. She had found a real home, a place where she could be just who she was, who she was meant to be, without constantly being looked a like she was a freak or a failure. She’d broken free. She’d reached terminal velocity and escaped the black hole. For good.

    1. ahhh... those black holes... this gives me hope for all of us who struggle to find the balance between escape and terminal velocities... I'd read more!

  13. A barely audible sigh escaped Judith’s lips as she considered the man across the table from her.

    “You are not paying one bit of attention.”

    He turned away from the window, a ghost of a smile playing about his mouth.

    “I am. Leastways, I’m tryin’ to. But do you see that sky? The way the clouds are moving? Perfect wind for a sail.”

    Her lips pursed into a small frown. “I wouldn’t know,” she admitted. “What I do know is I have only two weeks to polish you up enough that you won’t embarrass the entire family. So do try to pay attention.”

    He slouched back in his chair and ran a hair through his unfashionably long hair.

    “I’m a lost cause. We all know it. Might as well give me up as a bad job and be done with it.”

    “I know no such thing.” His brows drew down in a disbelieving frown, and she let her breath out in a huff. “You’re intelligent, and you have so far proven to be a quick study…when you want to be. The only way you’ll fail is if you choose to.”

    “That’s not what my uncle says.”

    Judith knew what his uncle had said; she didn’t know that _he¬¬_ knew, though. She peered toward the door to make certain no one was lurking there to overhear her.

    “Your uncle is a damn fool.”

    His chair fell back into place with a clunk and he stared at her with wide eyes. Then he began to smile.

    “You really reckon I can do this?”

    “I believe you can, yes.”

    He studied her face for a moment and then gave a slow nod.

    “You’re probably wrong, but I’m willin’ to crack on if you are.”

    “Then crack on we shall,” Judith said. “But first we sail. I believe your cousin has a boat, does he not?”

    “Aye,” he said, his eyes sparkling with good humor. “Aye, that he does.”

    “Good. You can teach me to sail, and I shall teach you to comport yourself as a gentleman. Are we agreed?”

    He grinned. “Aye. Comport myself I can. Just don’t ask me to be a gentleman for true. That I reckon is beyond me.”

    Judith levelled a glare at him.

    “Nothing is beyond you that you seek to achieve.”

    His grin widened. “Like I said, I reckon being a gentleman for true is beyond me.”


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