Friday, June 16, 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.

Everybody come on down; the cat man is singing. It ain’t a question of the words, but the heart and soul he’s bringing. Pull up a patch of grass, and pass that fucker my way next. Put your fucking phone away. There’ll be other times to text.

How many chances you gonna get to sit in the grass with your friends while the cat man plays?
Tweak the crystal chandelier pain. Come inside son, you’ll die of rain. Die of rain? Won’t I just get wet? 
You’re an adult now; don’t get upset. 

What the fuck will it do to the suede? Your tears aren’t helping, though they’re custom made…
Stare at the sun until you see spots? I see spots everywhere. There’s that spot over there – under that tree. You can’t see because of how low the willow branches hang. Come on over, hear, and spark that thang.

The cat man’s getting inside you now. He lives in your diaphragm. He controls your heart. You open to closing? Hell, that’s a start. Close your mind, close your windows, close your soul, soft innuendos – the cat man can do it all. And you’ll see that right before you fall. 

See you next Spring. 

Have a good trip.

#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. He liked to hide in the closet, but his parents didn’t like that one bit. He didn’t care to explain, and they wouldn’t have heard it anyway. So, he crawled in there whenever he could. Laid a flannel shirt against the crack in the door. Blocked out all the light. Zipped himself up dark and tight.

    And they’d come in and bang the closet open. Let in the light. And he’d blink his desperate plight. It looked to them like he was shamed. He wondered why they twisted fright.

    And years passed. And the closet got a lock on the inside. They’d tear it off, but he’d replace it. Then, they took the door off, so he found other dark places. Ones with no doors, no ceiling. The best ones took away every feeling. Which was better than just plain darkness.

    He left and they got old and they wondered why he never called. And it took them years to realize it wasn’t spite. And they did some digging. He’d died at night. The coroner explained: it was quite a sight. The coroner should have kept his mouth shut. But he couldn’t. Because he could still see it.

    Those bloody wounds where his eyes had been.

    They never spoke of him again.

    1. OMG... this feels simple like a children's story... but dark... like some of the Grimm's fairy tales before they were sanitized... this is amazing, all the more so because you did it with rhymes...

  2. I got tired of listening to things I knew were lies. That’s what started it. I got used to looking at everything through eye-slits. I’m gonna carve my wrists open. Get me some crimson bracelets.

    Give me a pamphlet, sure. I’ll take it. Teach me a dogma. I’m sure I can fake it. I can ring strangers’ doorbells just as well as the next convert. Hell, I’ll bring my geetar. Have a kumbay-fucking-concert.

    I drank so much because it hurt. That doesn’t make sense? You’ve never been covered in that kind of dirt. I scrubbed my skin raw and it didn’t work.
    So, I started cleaning from the inside.

    Everclear will kill everything it touches. Including your memory. Maybe even you. You’d be amazed at the things it can do.

    And that’s how I became a liar, too. I don’t think I’m better than you. It’s like comparing oranges to Presidents. There’s a precedent.

    Everybody has their vices.

  3. She stood beside the dark wood and sighed. It was the kind of sigh that is torn out of you. Not a soft, resigning sigh. This sigh was an act of aggression. She looked around her, worried that she was being watched.

    There hadn’t been enough time. Never was enough time. Time was a strange magician who never revealed his tricks. And now, she stood, airing her mental laundry list. So much to say. No one to say it to.

    She laughed just as suddenly and just as painfully as she had sighed. It was a laughter that was out of place, but it was also a laughter related to tears, to sadness, to the things that never got said.

    It was late afternoon when she heard someone clear their throat softly behind her. She wondered how long she had been standing there having imaginary conversations.

    “Miss. We’re going to need to close up soon.”

    She smiled. Suddenly out of words to say.

    1. wow. A simple situation, and you've turned it into almost poetry... I've been that woman.... and I love the line about time being a strange magician... and I think it's true.

    2. So sad... And yes, the strange magician line. I highlighted that one, too.

  4. He lay back in the thick, green grass. He tried not to think about ants and worms and all the things that could be hidden in the grass, which appears as a manageable amount of foliage to a human, but is a vast forest to anything small. Small and squirmy. He did not like small and squirmy things.

    The reason he was laying in the grass was that the sun blinded him, and he did not want to see. The silence stilled his mind and he did not want to think. He wanted to lie in the grass forever, never having to return home to the place where his parents were talking about moving. Talking about new jobs and new schools.

    When he thought about it, he felt a creeping terror up the back of his neck. Not that he was new to this. This was becoming a pattern, but it was one he did not like. Much like he did not like the possibility of small, squirmy things in the grass.

    He did not like uncertainty, but he was certain he had no say in the matter.

    1. First I thought about chiggers... and then the pain of moving, again, as a kid... yeah, this is melancholy.

  5. You stand with your back to the wall, and that shit is sweating. Your back. The wall. Everthing is slick, and you can’t grasp it. Your mind is a frozen mass of lava. Your thoughts are rapid-fire harassment. What the fuck is wrong with you? Don’t say it’s them. It may be, but don’t say it. Somehow they’ll hear it, and they’ll hold it against you. And then you’ll be sweating even more, straight shaking, and it ain’t even cold.

    Smell that? That’s the burning of the soul you sold. That shit never gets old. You can’t take it back once the dice get rolled.

    Your poker face is about to fold.

    And all these people. Slap-happy grinning motherfuckers. They’re gonna pat you on the back because they’re looking for a soft spot to put the knife…
    Go ballistic. They’re sadistic. After-school-special bullshit? Missed it. Death? I straight up grabbed and kissed it.

    It didn’t kiss back. Wonder why?

    But this ain’t about finding reasons. They’re so much to wrangle; please don’t tell me wrangling’s out of season. You’ll kill my wardrobe. And I take that shit seriously.

    Straight treason.

    Once they’ve got their hooks in you? Man. You start stammering. Heart hammering. What about the Muslims? What about all those angry black kids? What about all those pissed of white men? Why can’t we respect our women? Who’s gonna pull us out of this morass? I’m tired of swimming.

    More ass? I’ve known plenty of women. I respected ‘em though, so I guess that makes me a Commie.

    I don’t want to hear it. I’m not your fucking Mommy. Man up, for Christ’s sake.
    You DON’T get what you can TAKE.

    And here’s what I mean, and I don’t want a trophy for it. Cause it’s just another piece of bullshit.

    But, check it:

    When I was eighteen, I met a girl with a face like an angel and perfect breasts. We got drunk and we got naked. Then, she started crying. Telling me that her Dad fucked with her, and she was scared all the time. Then, she’s almost apologetic. At the time, I didn’t understand. Now, I get it.

    She’s saying, “no, I’m sorry, we can still do it!” I’m thinking, “are you fucking crazy? What kind of person would fuck a crying, broken girl?”

    I guess I didn’t know much about the world.

    Now, I do.

    Twenty years ago I wrapped her in a blanket and held her. We slept. She woke up still apologizing, and I hugged her and told her to go home. We cried. I got mad drunk that day. It never occurred to me that it could have played out any other way.

    I guess if I’d had a different attitude I could have been President one day.

    1. that last line brings it all home... the rest of it is beautiful and painful... but the last line...

  6. You stare at the gentle reflection of sun on stream ripples. Above you, there are blue skies and ospreys and vultures and so much space – you wonder about it. But not too much. You need to concentrate, hand on the line that connects you to the water.

    Trout are not like bass. They do not attack like sharks. They sneak in like ninjas, and you have to pay attention. But the sun is part of it. Part of the hypnosis that locks you to the water.

    When you feel a tap on the line, you wait. Then a few more gentle taps, and you set the hook softly. It is an invitation. And then the fish is beside you, finning, reflecting every color of the rainbow.

    1. I love how evocative that first paragraph is - puts you right in the scene. All of it, really, but especially that first paragraph.

    2. This is nothing short of awesome. You took me into the moment, and I felt the taps on the line... I want you (selfish of me, I know) to collect the best of your fishing stories into a book....

  7. When the moon is new and the stars are bright
    And you wonder if this is what Adam saw
    When he saw the first night fall
    And you wonder if you'll ever see the sun again
    Or whether the world has found eternal darkness
    Or eternal darkness has swallowed the world.
    You remember crimson skies at sunrise
    And you hope you'll see that again
    But despair has filled your heart
    Easy since your heart is cracked, but
    You wonder why the despair does not run out as fast
    From the fissures
    As fast as it flows in
    And then you see the falling star
    Good luck or bad, but luck anyway
    Or maybe just melting, burning iron
    Or falling angels
    And you know that broken hearts will mend
    With time, but you're not sure you have time
    Or whether this is the last night of your life

    And then you hear the hermit thrush
    It's birdsong conjuring dawn
    And red returns to the sky
    And you know you've made it through another night
    And now you wonder if you'll make it through the day
    And whether night or day is safer
    And you know it doesn't matter
    Your heart is broken
    But despair is held off
    For a while
    And a while is all any of us has got.

    1. Man, this is beautiful, Leland. When you write poetry, it reminds me of so many poets, but I don't want to make comparisons because you are NOT like so many poets - you are unique and wonderful - so are your words. There are echoes of some greats in all your verse though.

  8. He sat up, or tried to, but there was something wrong, something terribly wrong. His muscles weren't responding. He opened his eyes. At least his eyelids seemed to work. The streetlights shined an eerie blue on his ceiling. He wondered what time it was. Surely after four, the street was mostly quiet.

    He hadn't had that much to drink last night. Last night. Well, maybe he did. As he struggled to remember, he could only recall the glowing red eyes of the guy he'd invited home with him after the bar closed. Handsome guy. He only brought home the handsome ones.

    It was odd, though. Usually he was the one to make the first move, but this guy just walked up to him and touched his hand.

    And it felt like electricity and light and youth and he didn't know what. It even let him believe in love at first sight for a moment. Or at least great sex. The guy didn't speak, just pulled him by the hand to a dark corner of the bar where they'd sucked face and explored the geography of each other’s bodies through denim and white t-shirts. When the lights came up, the guy just tilted his head to the door, and he’d followed.
    Somehow the guy knew his car, and waited at the passenger side while he fumbled with the keys. Still no conversation. The guy was touching him, not with passion so much as curiosity. The touches were gentle. They pulled into his apartment building’s parking lot, and raced up the stairs, opened the door, and then…

    He didn't remember what happened then. Jesus, maybe he had more to drink than he thought. Or maybe the guy drugged him. No, why would he do that? He tried to turn his head to see if the place had been ransacked, but his muscles were still paralyzed.

    The red eyes. Why did he remember that, when he remembered nothing else? He would have shivered if only…but it takes muscles to shiver, too.

    He heard the door to the bedroom open, and a strange voice.

    “You still sleeping? Come on, the boss doesn't like it when we're late.”

    Was this the guy? If only he could turn his head. And then a face filled his vision. The guy. And his eyes were red like LEDs. He was smiling.

    “You're not going to back out on our deal now, are you?”

    And the guy kissed him on the lips but he couldn't feel it, and he thought he could feel panic rising in his throats or maybe it was vomit or maybe nothing. And as the guy withdrew his lips, he extended his hand. There was a fiery feeling in his fingers, entwined with the guy’s fingers, and he felt his soul separate from his body, and he rose up from the bed as if everything were normal.

    “What…what happened?”

    “Wait till you see my apartment. It's got a great view of the lake of fire…”

    “The lake of…”

    “Very exclusive. Ivanka has the penthouse. One of the best parts of hell…”

    1. Oh snap. That ending. I like this piece a lot. Super visual and tactile. And makes me REALLY glad I don't wake up trying to remember anymore...

  9. [I wrote this one and the next earlier in the week and shared it on Facebook... if you read it there, I'm sorry for the redundancy.]

    "...a good day to die."

    Those were the words that echoed through Solomon's head when he awoke before sunrise. The dream came back to him, in bits and pieces. Sarah, his late wife of 42 years was young again. Beau, their dog was still alive. They were walking on the beach where they'd met, and the sound of the ocean was the soundtrack to their newfound love.

    Her eyes were impossibly green, as they'd been in life. In someone less pure of heart, they might have been the sign of envy. In her, they were the sign of life, of forests, of ferns.

    He felt again the sand between his toes, and the sky was punctuated by small white clouds.

    In the dream, though, they both already had their wedding rings, and she wore also the mother's ring their four sons had given her, a gem for each of their birth months. He felt the rings as they held hands.

    As they walked, they slowed, the winds of time pressing against them, and the changes came to their bodies. The flesh was not quite as firm, their fingers gnarled with age, his knees began to sing with pain. The ocean grew rough, the sky more gray.

    And then a wave crashed up onto the beach, and he felt her hand slip from his, though he struggled mightily to hold on. He no longer had his youthful strength. He saw her wave to him, and oddly enough, he saw her smile as she slipped below the ocean's surface. He walked on a bit, and then he sat down on the sand, and wept. His tears mingled with the ocean, and he thought he felt her hand on his cheek, but it was a fly.

    He thought he heard her voice. He thought he heard her whisper.

    "It's all right, Sol, honey. It was a good day to die."

    And now, he sat on the side of his bed, his feet in slippers she'd given him one Christmas, on sheets she'd chosen, in a room painted green like her eyes. He stood, his knees making popping sounds, and he did not allow himself to hear the groan, his groan, of pain that accompanied his rising.

    He showered, shivering in the water colder than the sea, and when he was done, he dressed in jeans she'd bought him, and a shirt older than their youngest son. Today, he would go to the beach. He would walk with the memory of her, and perhaps, perhaps, today would be a good day to die.

    1. Oh man. My heart just broke. The way you write about love gives me hope, brother. You must have two hearts.

  10. Part 1:

    His was a most unusual obituary.

    “He is survived by words and photographs, by the spirits of dogs and cats past and present, and by a host of friends.”

    There was no mention of family. Yet, I knew he was not an only child. I knew this because I was his brother. Was. Had been. I disowned him some years before.

    I might not have seen the obituary at all, but for the coincidence that our minister was originally from the same town that my one-time brother had eventually settled. The minister discreetly handed me the newspaper clipping after Sunday service, with a solemn nod.

    I did not read the article until my wife, children, and I were home. They went in the house, to prepare Sunday dinner, and I walked out to the corral where once horses played. Where once two boys had played.

    “In his later years, he took great joy in sharing his love of God with unsuspecting passersby…”

    When last we spoke, he told me he was praying for me. Him. Praying. For me. An abomination. He was the one who had flaunted God’s law. He, who lay with mankind as with womankind. He, who burned in his lust for other men. He dared pray for me.
    It was then that I knew I could not allow him to be around my children. He was a dangerous man. A wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    “He will be remembered for his compassion for animals and the downtrodden…”

    It was odd. He always preferred the company of animals, whether they were cats, or dogs, even hamsters. He said they showed more compassion than humans. That they rarely killed each other, except of necessity. He tried living as a vegetarian for a while. As with so much of his life, he had a short attention span. He tried to convince me that I should join him in this endeavor. I told him it was God’s plan for Man to eaat meat. That the Lord had given us dominion over all creatures.

    It was one of our first fights, as boys. He said that dominion meant responsibility, not control. That having dominion required us to take care of our fellow creatures. I was younger, but I pinned him down, in a pile of horseshit. We never spoke of it again.

    “In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to your local animal shelter or the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society…”

    The animal shelter did not surprise me, but there had to be a story behind the other. A story I’d never know. He’d never served in any branch of the military. Spoke of them as killers after the story of the My Lai massacre broke in when, 1968? Our uncles had all been Army, not Navy, so it wasn’t in remembrance of them. My brother, even in death, must have enjoyed leaving a mystery.

    “There will be cremation…”

    Another abomination. How could a body be resurrected if it were burned? Not that he had any hope of resurrection. Ever the philosopher, he dared question God’s ways even as a child. Too much book learning. Too much fire and lust. Even the preacher shook his head at my brother’s questioning ways.

    The last paragraph of the obituary caught me cold.

  11. Part 2:

    “His ashes will be scattered in several places, marked only by yellow roses of a variety known as Harison’s Yellow.”

    A final slap in my face. When I inherited our parents’ farm, I killed the stand of yellow roses, roses carried by our mother, by our grandmother, by our great-grandmother as they moved from place to place. Settlers’ roses, Grandma called them, because they were brought by the pioneers in covered wagons as they moved west. I hated them. They had thorns that tore at clothes and flesh. Digging them up revealed thorns even on their roots. What good were they? They bloomed for a week, but punished anything that passed by them, even in winter. Yes, I dug them up.

    I’m not sure how he knew, but before I completed their eradication, I noticed strange tire tracks in our driveway, and a hole, where it appeared someone had taken cuttings. Surely it was him.

    I took a lighter from my pocket, and I burned the obituary. I watched the ashes fall to the ground, the last reminder of a man my children would never know, never be corrupted by. I ground the ashes into the sand with my boot just as my wife called dinner.

    I asked my oldest son to give the blessing, the same blessing my brother and I had said every Sunday.

    “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest…”

    The fried chicken was delicious that Sunday.

    I didn’t notice the roses in the corral until the next year.

    1. Such a heartbreaking story. Love that ending.

    2. Thanks! I appreciate your taking the time to read it!

    3. I agree. Beautiful and painful. The story is wonderful. It also hurts. The fact that anyone could write off family for something so benign - who they choose to LOVE - I'll never wrap my mind around it.

  12. Waaaaaaay more than two minutes. Conclusion in comments. Yikes.


    Javi did his best to look bored as he leaned against the alley wall, but his wary eyes darted here and there, ever watchful. A woman caught his eye, but only for a moment; the pram she pushed ahead of her made him lose interest. He went back to scanning the street, and a few minutes later, a man caught his eye, or rather the way the man’s fancy coat bellowed on one side and not on the other. Something heavy lay within the man’s left pocket.

    Javi pushed away from the wall and slouched out of the alley, his hands in his pockets. He wandered through the streets, doing his best to blend in, but all the while he watched the man with the lopsided coat. The man limped slowly along, in no hurry at all, and Javi followed.

    A few blocks down the street, people stood gathered in a clump around a street proselytizer. The man would have to squeeze between the lookers-on.


    Javi closed the distance between himself and the man, and as the press of people threw them together, Javi took his chance. He slid his hand into the man’s heavy coat pocket and wrapped it around what lay inside—something that felt very much like a cloth bag full of coins.

    His first instinct was to jerk his hand out, bag and all, and run as if all the demons of hell were chasing him. But he knew better. Slow and easy, that was the way. So gentle the man wouldn’t feel the bag leave his pocket, wouldn’t notice that the weight was no longer bumping against his side until Javier had faded back into the crowd.

    Javi tucked the bag into his own pocket and began to sidle away. Easy. Too easy.

    Javi glanced over his shoulder as the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. The man was watching him, his eyes narrowed and hard. Javier’s calm disintegrated, and he bolted into the crowd.

    Shouts rose up as Javier dodged and pushed and wended his way through the people in the street. He paid them no mind. There was nothing but his feet, running, his heart, pounding, and his eyes, darting, searching for the best way out.

    Javi found a clearing and headed toward it. He’d be out in the open, exposed, but his speed couldn’t be matched by some limping old man. He raced into the clearing…and a big hand grabbed his collar and threw him down into the dirt.

    Javi rolled to his back and looked up at the furious man who was yelling at him. The words meant nothing to Javi, but the man’s expression said all that needed to be said. Javi was in trouble, real trouble. The man would take him to the authorities, and if they learned the truth, they would kill Javier, just like they’d killed the rest of his family.

    Fat tears rolled down Javier’s face. Perhaps it was best this way. He should like to see his family again.

    The man’s anger faded, but didn’t quite disappear. He carefully lowered himself to sit beside Javi on the red dirt, heedless of the mess he was making of his coat.

    “¿Por qué lloras?”

    Javier’s eyes widened in surprise. The man spoke the words as if they were uncomfortable in his mouth, but visitor’s didn’t always speak Spanish. They all babbled away in a hundred foreign tongues that Javier couldn’t make heads or tails of. But this man, this man who’d been so angry only moments before, had made the effort to put together a few words in Javier’s language to ask him why he was crying.


    1. Javier frowned in concentration, trying to put together a few words in the man’s language.

      “I don’t like to die,” he said.

      The man chuckled. Then he surprised Javi again, asking in broken Spanish if he was hungry.

      Javi nodded.

      The man asked, in Spanish, “Is that why you took my money?”

      Javi shook his head. Then he pointed up, over toward the west, where he could just barely see the outline of an airship hovering over the airfield.

      “Go,” he said.

      The man threw back his head and laughed. “Si. Go.”

      He struggled to his feet and offered Javi a hand up. Javier handed over the bag of coins without being told, and the man motioned for him to follow. He bought a pupusa from a street vendor and gave it to Javi who took it with wide-eyed wonder.

      “¿Por que?”

      “You’ll need your strength,” the man replied. When Javi stared in confusion, the man bent an arm and squeezed the muscle. “Strength.” Then he pointed at Javi.

      Javier nodded. Food would make him grow big and strong. He knew that. He still didn’t know why the man cared. But it didn’t matter. Not where there was a hot pupusa in Javi’s hand.

      Once he’d eaten the delicious food, the man held out his hand. Javier stared for a moment and then shrugged. Did the man want him to pay for the pupusa?

      “Your hand, boy.” The man reached down and took Javier’s small hand in his bigger, paler, rougher one. “World’s a rough place. We don’t need you getting lost on the way to the airfield.”


      The man smiled at Javi and pointed first to his own chest, then to Javi, and finally to the distance airships. “Go.”

      Tears fell from Javier’s eyes again, but this time they fell onto his smile. His heart was lighter than it had been since his parents and sister had been taken from him. His prayers had been answered.

      “Go,” he agreed.

    2. Ohhhh... I like this... the beginning of an adventure! and it feels and sounds real... authentic... awesome.

    3. Agreed. The pace and intensity are so good. I love this, expressed perfectly: " There was nothing but his feet, running, his heart, pounding, and his eyes, darting, searching for the best way out."

  13. He’s dressed in a black coat and hat, winter or summer,  this old man I pass every day on our pre-dawn walks. He comes from beyond those trees, then up the hill road. 

    From there, I don’t know where he goes. 

    I don’t have the time to wait the significant amount of a half-hour it takes him to get to top of the hill. His gait is not quite a shuffle.  It’s maybe half of a shuffle. It’s a shuff. 

    His left foot, barely skimming the blacktop, glides forward about ten inches and then plunks down.  The right foot follows, dragging forward to a position of parallel big toes. 

    Then a breath. 

    Repeat.  Again. Again. Again. Glacial, relentless in his path … somewhere.  I have seen him stop a few times.  To rest?  Catch his breath?  Retrieve a memory?  

    He grips that large black duffle bag, slung diagonally upon his shoulder.  With his feeble bearing, I can’t tell you how heavy the bag really is. 

    The bag looks full of something. Maybe that’s where he carries the memories. Even memories have weight, some more than others. 

    He shoulders this burden every day, focusing through silver lenses on some point along that hypotenuse– his line-of-sight– from his often drippy nose, to the front of his left boot. He turns his head neither left nor right, nor looks for assistance in his effort.

    He’s become something more than an old man inching upward like a black sun at dawn, neither pounding out in front of, nor gasping to catch up with, that crowd of want-to-be’s or expect-to-be’s. I guess he’s his own Alpha, on the way to his Omega. Still shouldering his weight, climbing that hill, to get to his somewhere.

    Always forward. Always there.Always my shadow between me and the sun. Maybe my fore-shadow.

    I don't look back to check.

    1. Love this: "His gait is not quite a shuffle. It’s maybe half of a shuffle. It’s a shuff.


      "Even memories have weight, some more than others."

      Good stuff. :)

    2. really good stuff... and it works metaphorically and in reality... nicely done!

    3. Wow, love the play on shadow. I love the whole piece. And this made my day: It’s maybe half of a shuffle. It’s a shuff.

  14. Three quarters naked, you wait with a few other women for an opening in a lap lane. You lean against the tiled wall as one and watch, half smiling, half cringing, as small, floaty-belted children splash and squeal in the shallow end. Inevitably the adult conversation turns from the volume of the kids to weekend plans to gossip about the other members.

    “The weird guy’s in the hot tub again,” one of the women says. You’ve seen that guy—bloodshot, haggard, a mat of wiry salt-and-pepper on his sagging chest—taking up the best water jet in the tub for at least the last four times you’ve been to the pool.

    A woman in a bathing suit that costs more than your yearly membership sniffs. “Some guy told me he’s practically living out of the locker room. Comes in every morning, takes a shower, shaves, puts on different clothes. Not clean, mind you. Just different.”

    You nod. You’ve done that. On the days when there’s no hot water, no electricity, you’ve come here for a shower in the ladies’ locker room, to wash your hair and look presentable for work. Maybe that’s why the guy has been around so much lately. Everyone has a theory, from drug addiction to losing his job to a wife throwing him out. You squirm at the other women’s speculations. At their expensive highlights and manicures. On any bad month, when you didn’t have the money for the oil delivery or the electric bill, that guy could be you.

    He’s often still there, marinating like a pasha, manspreading across a whole corner of the tub, when you’re done with your swim and need a hot soak. You said hello once, because you’re accustomed to doing that when you step three-quarters naked into an intimate yet public space with a stranger, and it didn’t take much prompting before he launched into a diatribe about politics and how the wrong candidate won. Also not an uncommon sport at the YMCA, but one you don’t want to engage in. You nodded and let him go on and were grateful when someone else entered and let him take up the thread.

    Now, at least, when your laps are complete and you step into the tub, you can just nod with recognition and be done with your social obligation. You close your eyes as your nostrils fill with chlorinated steam, as the heat eases your aches.

    Soon two voices—the manspreader and a guy who is game enough to take him on—begin an easy back-and-forth that floats over the white noise of the jets. Then it pitches louder and higher as the mutual outrage builds. You open your eyes in time to see the second guy, a regular member, shaking his head as he leaves.

    The interloper addresses his companion’s lobster-red back. “You’ll see.” Suddenly you’re queasy about being alone with this guy. You’re queasy at the mere fact of him. “They’ll all see,” he says, quieter, then chuckles at your discomfort. “Watch the news tomorrow, honey. I’m going hunting.”

    1. Oooh. Interesting build to one heck of an ending!

    2. ohmigod... and you've written a prequel to history... you drew me in, as always, from the first sentence...

    3. This is an epic piece of writing. How you get from pool malaise to terror in such a short span...

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    1. Well told story of justice, sir... thank you. And Eddie ought to be careful of car doors from here on out.

  16. Annette closed her book.

    "So you're here," she said.

    I said nothing. There was nothing to say. She knew it all already.

    I put down my night-bag, turning up the lights so the room was more evenly illuminated. She seemed to recede, the single spot-light fading into the rest of the lounge; the dramatic pose she'd staged lost now.

    "You were supposed to be home."

    I undid my collar and loosened my tie, pulling it out in one long smooth motion. I folded it up roughly, looping it first into halves and then halves again. I dropped it into the opened mouth of my bag.

    "Did you hear me?"

    I knelt and then slipped my shoes off, not bothering to unlace them.
    That always annoyed her.

    "I got home early. I thought I'd surprise you." She stood. "I brought you a gift."

    She picked up a carrier I'd not seen until then. It'd been under the table, hidden in its shadow. I already knew what it was. She was consistent in that way.

    "Another watch, perhaps?"

    She shrugged.

    I recognised the bag. It'd be Lilienthal. Probably a Berlin. I'd been admiring them for a while. If it was what I thought it was it'd have a sparsely decorated three-hand dial. A simple design but effective and with a Swiss quartz mechanism.

    "I wasn't late. I never have a problem with timekeeping. You know that."

    "No." She sounded strange. Her usual vitality gone. Her usual voice but with a new intonation. "It's your lack of presence I have a problem with."

    1. Ah, you nailed this one... and gave us a truth at the end without preaching to us. Thank you.

    2. Yep. Agreed. Very deftly played.


  17. The price was high
    Was she willing to pay?
    When the future's told,
    Would she rue this day?

    If she cast the die.
    Took a willing chance,
    How would it unfold?
    Happy circumstance?

    Or to squander time,
    Let is slip like sand,
    As you stand your ground,
    Keep the path as planned.

    To have loved and lost
    Is a lesson learned.
    Better than left numb,
    Never having burned.

    ~Tamara McLanahan

    1. nice... and I like the stacatto rhythm of the short lines.

    2. I agree. The rhythm works really well. And I love the stanza so much.

  18. I took a long walk on the beach at sunrise this morning. My favorite place to be. Pictures on my Timeline but this popped into my head.

    I could still be asleep,
    Safe at home, tucked in bed.
    But it's surf that I crave,
    To the beach I am led.

    As the waves kiss the shore,
    And the sun hugs the sky,
    Feet sink deep into sand,
    While my soul gets to fly.

    It's as primal as dawn,
    And as old as the Earth.
    Each step bringing me closer,
    To life and rebirth.
    ~Tammy McLanahan

    1. sweet... and primal as dawn and old as the earth really touched a chord with me. I can't help but notice you signed this one Tammy... intentional?

    2. Leland, I'm glad you liked it. I took one look at the sunrise and knew I had to chase it to the shore. I wrote my name in the sand. "Tamara was here" That's on my Timeline along with a picture of the waves. But you're correct. I did deliberately sign this Tammy. I'd pulled over into a park Community Center so as not to lose what words I'd thought of and there happened to be a funeral wake about to start. So at the Rec Center on the shores of Indian River a human's life was being celebrated and mourned. I'd written Tamara in the sand but I wanted this poem, here, now to have my birth name.

    3. I like that... I like that a lot.


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