Friday, February 16, 2018

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.

The spider lived in the corner of the room. I had no problem with the spider – in fact, I considered us mates. I named him Charlie. We weren’t close, to be honest. It’s hard to develop a relationship with a spider. We were companions, really. We were like the guy you see every day on your commute. You give him the little chin lift. What’s up. I talked to Charlie, but it was the verbal equivalent.

Of a chin lift. 

“Hey Charlie. Any flies today?”

That kind of thing.

Most people who came to my apartment didn’t notice or didn’t care. But some people cared a lot. Some told me I had to kill Charlie. I would usually politely ask them to leave. I wasn’t about to kill Charlie. He never did anything to me except protect the apartment from roving insects and give me someone to talk to. He never even left his corner.

Good old Charlie.

Even my cat tolerated Charlie. He loved killing spiders and flies and chasing anything that moved. Charlie didn’t move much, but I think the cat also knew that Charlie was protected. It was like he had joined the family. And I definitely mean that in a Mafia kind of way. We looked out for each other.

Me. Cat. Charlie.

I remember thinking he wouldn’t be there long. Spiders don’t have real long life expectancies. But he persisted. He was a strong spider. Strong in spirit. He wasn’t going anywhere. And I started worrying about what would happen to Charlie when I moved back to the city. I was about ready to attempt re-entry after San Francisco had chewed me up and spit me down to East Palo Alto.

It wasn’t so bad. I had a good cat, a good spider, and I had plans. Those plans involved reading every book John D. MacDonald ever wrote and spending a lot of time with my typewriter, my cat curled around my legs. Charlie watching patiently from the corner.

I did move eventually. And, before I left, I put Charlie outside. In a place I thought he’d like. I like to think he’s there still.

But I bet he’s not.

#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 stood at the top of the stairs, small feet inching off the top step. At the bottom of the stairs, there were pillows. Couch cushions and bean bag chairs. When I got up the nerve I jumped, flapping my arms as hard as I could. Not as hard as the wall was when my head found the spot where there were no cushions.

    I don’t remember this. And I don’t remember the two other times I tried it that week. I don’t remember the blood or the papoose board or the stitches or my mom shaking with worry and fatigue. I remember because of the scars on my forehead. Because I’ve been told the story. And because I can see the hollow eyes in my mom’s blanched face when she thinks about that week.

    Says I’m responsible for those grey hairs.

    I don’t know what to tell you. I was just a little kid who was obsessed with birds. Even at age four. And I wanted to be a bird. I used to tell people. When they asked that silly adult question that eventually turns into the cocktail 'what do YOU do?' I’d say, “When I grow up, I want to be a bird.”

    And they’d laugh.

    And I’d think, what’s so funny about that? Birds are cooler than dentists.

    I did stop the flight training though. Whether it was because I wised up or my Mom told me she would lose her mind if I didn’t, I don’t know – either is a plausible explanation. And that’s the part of the story I don’t understand. Because it’s so unlike me. You’d think I would have kept on trying and trying and trying. Banging my head against the wall until it worked.

    ‘Cause that’s how I roll.

    1. I love this. There's something magical about our desire to soar... we see it in pilots, in hang gliders, in astronauts. But how easily we forget that the spirit soars, too. And the narrator of this story surely understands that... because his words soar, too.

    2. Marvelous. And what Leland said.

  2. I love Charlie, and I love the narrator of the first tale... and I bet Charlie really IS still there. And I bet Cat can still talk with him.

    1. I love Charlie. I feel the same way about some of the little "pet" insects around here...

  3. He wore his age like an ill fitting pair of Levi’s. The mirror did not lie about the wrinkles, the pockmarks from acne fifty years ago, the nose that never stopped growing.

    Once he had been the cute one. Blond hair. Gone now, but for a ridiculous ring around his head, a ring he shaved off once a week.

    Once he had been lithe and muscular. Now his flesh sagged.

    He stared in the mirror. Partly as penance. Partly as retribution. Partly to inoculate himself against the pitiful stares he got now when he went out in public.

    He’d survived the plague. His little black book, once bulging with the phone numbers of other Adonises would fit on one page now, if he dared print it out.

    He missed them.

    Every one of them.

    Once they had tripped the light fantastic. Now, when he went out, if he went out, he sought bars with dim lighting. And he’d rediscovered the panache of hats.

    He dressed now. His back to the mirror, self-abasement complete. He donned the saggy jeans, the cashmere sweater, the rakish hat. He checked the playlist on his phone. “I Feel Love” was at the top of his most-played list.

    He listened to it over and over as the train carried him to the cemetery.

    What is Saturday night without friends?

    1. Oh this hurts, in such a divine way. I love the way you breathe truth into your fiction and beauty into the dark places. <3

    2. I agree. Painful. Beautiful. That first line is clutch. So many ghosts ...

  4. The quietest rustle of fabric drew Simon out of his thoughts, but he made no move, waiting. A moment later, he caught the familiar scent of herbed soap and smoky whisky. Charani. Trying to sneak up on him. Again. He said he did it to try to jar Simon out of the funk he seemed to always fall into these days, but Simon thought it was more than that. He was fairly certain that Charani saw it as a challenge. He’d tried more than half a dozen times to sneak up on Simon, and it hadn’t worked even once. Simon had been wise enough to not let on how it was that Charani always gave himself away.

    Simon held himself still, waiting to see how Charani would reveal himself this time. His hands covering Simon’s eyes? His fingers poking Simon in the ribs? Or perhaps tickling the back of his neck, like an errant insect?

    Strong, warm hands curved around Simon’s hipbones, and for a moment, he forgot to breathe. The touch was there and then gone, just enough to announce Charani’s presence. Then the other man was standing before him, grinning.

    One look at Simon’s face, and Charani’s grin widened.

    “I surprised you this time.”

    Simon rolled his suddenly dry lips together, trying to remember how to speak.

    “You did.”

    The smile slowly slid from Charani’s face.

    “Did I frighten you?”

    “No. No. Frightened isn’t what I’d call it.”

    Charani’s dark brows drew down in a vee. Simon wondered if he was going to apologize. He hoped he wouldn’t.

    He didn’t. Instead, he grinned again, though this one seemed a bit dimmer than the last.

    “I think I woke you out of your sad stupor, though.”

    An uncertain smile curves Simon’s lips. Yes, Charani had woken ¬_something._ A feeling Simon doesn’t really know. A familiarity. A connection.

    A longing.

    He looks at his friend, and he no longer sees the same man. Charani’s slightly too close set eyes and dark brows no longer look hawkish; now they are mysterious and sensual. His crooked front teeth have become endearing. His overly plump lips are an invitation.

    Simon looks away, flustered. He shouldn’t feel this way. Or should he? Has all of Charani’s teasing been a good friend trying to cheer him, or could it all be something more? He isn’t sure.

    What he is sure of, and what he becomes more certain of over the following days, is that, for good for for ill, things will never be the same between them. He will always wonder, now, and he will always see this new Charani, the one who makes his heart beat faster and his brain turn to mush. There is no going back to who he was before, either. He has awakened, and there is no going back to sleep.

    1. Scroll down

      You might find something you’re looking for, something you might wanna see
      A picture of a kitten or a baby or a dog; something about guns or public policy
      Thoughts and prayers and cares and woes, opinions or minions or helpful hints
      For hacking your life the way you wish it could be

      Scroll down
      For the idiots and fools and the rivals; the good and the evil, the viral length libel, the bible
      The prophets, the blind auditions, the buzzfeeds and quizzes and witches and wizards, the scandals, the sandals from China, the dresses and jewelry and finery
      Scroll down
      Is it hard to focus in the hocus pocus? Can’t tell the real from the fake anymore? Scroll down and blink
      And try to think of whatever it was you were looking for.

      Have you signed the petitions from well meaning citizens? Have you donated cause and effect? Have you done your homework to perfection, performed your knee-jerk genuflections, sure you were righteous when you didn’t know for sure? Have you tweeted and acted and voted and practiced, hugged some kid or a tree and eat your protein? Can you wear what you want after 50 or not? Or is even to ask just kinda mean?
      Scroll down

      Have you clicked to the bait while they baited and switched, did you protect your privacy? Have you agreed with the terms and conditions, then watched while they took them away? Have you figured out that just being alive increases your risk of death by the day?
      If your information’s compromised by Russian bots and foreign spies and you secretly believe
      We’re all in collusion to make this illusion we call reality, and you look around for something real and can only see conspiracy
      Scroll on and keep on scrolling
      Keep those doubts on rolling, watch the never ending stream. We’ll show you the ropes and dash your hopes. We’ll check out your evidence and throw it on Snopes

      Scroll down; we’re almost ready for you
      Scroll don’t look up
      Looking for some grain of truth like a junkie for his fix
      While we play and waste your day
      It’s how we get our kicks
      We show you only what we want. We’re stealing souls to fuel the machine
      Your mind gonna come up empty one day, one day you’ll see what we mean.
      So scroll down
      way down
      Until you can’t tell if you’ve seen it before, until you got nothing more to say.
      It’s how we get things done, you see
      It’s how we get our way.


    2. Outstanding. My brain doesn't work this way; I can't write in verse for anything. You though, you do it wonderfully. And what you have to say here, you say so well. Thank you for this.

    3. L - Love the piece above. I'm digging this - it feels so real and solid. Like the story has existed forever.

      T- This has a really cool beat vibe to it. Love it. Want to hear Ginsberg read it. And this line:
      Have you signed the petitions from well meaning citizens?

  5. The lead was mined in Australia.

    The cartridge brass was formed in Pennsylvania.

    The smokeless powder was made by a company in Florida.

    The modern sporting rifle, a euphemism for AR-15, which is a trademark of Colt Industries, was carefully assembled in a small town in Kentucky. AR, by the way, stands for Armalite Rifle, the original manufacturer.

    The perpetrator was initially assembled with loving care, though somewhere the quality controls in his manufacture and finishing were deficient.

    The targets might have grown up to be writers, scientists, artists, poets, farmers, or police officers. We’ll never know.

    Anybody who has studied economics knows that the lead, the brass, the powder, and the weapon helped grow the American economy.

    The unfulfilled dreams of silenced voices are never counted on the ledger of numbers that America considers important.

    Just a customary cost of business as usual. Heartbreak isn’t known by a number.
    The bodies were buried in Florida. And the funeral costs boosted the economic indices again.

    Murder, Inc., is having a very good year. Just look at the numbers.

    1. This is heartbreaking. And hits on a really uncomfortable truth. Thanks for sharing this piece.

  6. The cat scurried off into the back bedroom when the doorbell rang. Normally Suzy followed, peering through her dusty, faded curtains until her visitor, usually another reporter, had left in frustration. But she didn’t know why she now felt a frisson of excitement over human contact, however brief or impersonal or potentially invasive. Because the emptiness of the house had been pressing down on her a little too pointedly? Because the prescription bottle, newly filled and sitting in the cupboard above the sink, glowed a little too fiercely in the back of her mind? Something had her tiptoeing across the dirty living room carpet and reaching for the door. The two young men on her stoop looked innocent enough. Missionaries of some religious cause, certainly, with their black ties and white shirts and pamphlets.

    Had it come to this? The loneliness, the desperate need for company even as she tried to repel them? Did they know about her? About Alex? Maybe they were new at this and thought they could save her soul. It was too late for Alex, but maybe her soul could use a little bit of saving.

    “Good afternoon, ma’am,” the taller of the two said. Suzy cringed. His mouth softened, rounding. “Oh. I didn’t mean to offend you. I should have remembered some women don’t like--”

    “It’s all right.” She told herself to be grateful for mothers who still raised their sons to say sir and ma’am and please and thank you. Like she had. She told herself there was no way this young man could have known that those were Alex’s last words: “Good afternoon, ma’am,” he’d said, barely above a whisper, as a female prison guard came in to administer his lethal injection. Suzy tried to shake the images out of her head. The stoicism on his face. Not of repentance but of resignation. He’d done what he’d done and this was the price he was made to pay. Worse, she sometimes thought it was the right decision. Like doing him a kindness, the way suffering dogs are put to sleep. “How…how can I help you?”

    “Ma’am?” the other one said. Eyes wide. “You kinda look like you’re the one who needs some help. Maybe you want to sit down?”

    “Maybe…” Her stomach knotted; something buzzed in her head and her legs began to weaken. “Maybe just for a moment.”

    They were good boys. Raised right. They made her comfortable, fetched her a glass of water, asked if there was anyone they should call. Raised right. She thought she’d raised him right.

    There was an awkward moment, and the two boys looked at each other, and the one who seemed a bit older started. “Have you heard the good news about Jesus Christ?”

    She thought she’d be strong enough for the words she knew were coming. But she saw it again, the little white church. The police cars. The odd phone number that had flashed up on her caller ID. She gulped the rest of her water. Wishing she’d never opened that damn door. Wishing she’d had those pills in her hand. She’d gobble every single one.

    “I think you boys ought to go now,” she said. “Believe me when I say I’m beyond whatever saving your God can offer.”

    After they left without argument, all polite and thanking her for her time, she moved blindly to the kitchen cupboard and reached for the prescription vial. Then the cat came in, mewling, rubbing around her legs. Suzy’s face dampened with tears she didn’t know her eyes were still capable of producing. She knew then this wasn’t the way. Instead of the vial and the last of the bourbon, she picked up the phone and the business card one of the reporters had given her. “I’m ready, if you’re still interested in writing that book,” she told the woman who answered. “But I don’t want it to be his story. I want it to be about those beautiful children. And every penny of profit to go toward making sure nobody gets to do this again.”

    1. The writing is sharp and painful. The story - man. It's good. There I had a dozen words.

  7. After lunch with her boss, lovely Mary the Secretary returned to her desk, where a half dozen pink and red, foily and doily cards stood at attention, like gate-mouthed swains, each proclaiming at least $6.95 of their undying love and devotion.

    On the center of her desk, though, lay a folded sheet of blue-lined notebook paper, one edge ripped into erstwhile wire-bound, college-ruled lace. Red ink block letters spelled out her name, and when she unfolded the supine note, she saw a heart and a message ooh-so-neatly written in the same crimson hand:

    I watch you sit alone,
    listening to voices on the phone,
    ponder if two heartbeats do echo
    or mirror-beat as only one that’s let go.
    But this is only a dream,
    one many nights I’ve seen,
    in which I’m not the me
    by dawn’s light I see,
    but one you’d wish hold you
    how you'd want enfold you
    on nights it’s your dream to
    be held by one who dreams that, too.

    At workday’s end, Mary shoved the phalanx of sparkling craft paper professions of infatuation into the wastebasket beneath her desk. But she once more read a note she’d put aside, gently folded it and slipped into her purse. With a winsome smile, she bustled toward the door, idly saying “Good night” to Just Jane two desks over.

    “Happy Valentine’s Day,” Jane said, as she waved and ducked back back to her spreadsheets. Mary never noticed the red on Just Jane’s blushing cheeks, nor the same color ink on her fingers.

    1. This is just perfect. I like to think they get a happily ever after.

    2. Thank you. I do, as well. Everyone deserves to find The One. The hard part is making your one and The One...ONE. I think Jane could calculate the odds of that happening, yet she still took the leap. The heart wants what the heart wants, right? So let's hope Jane's heart is rewarded some day for her courage. And Mary's, too. Thanks again, LB.

    3. This is just perfect. I like to think they get a happily ever after.

    4. I agree. You put us in that moment perfectly. Everyone does deserves to find the one. I wish everyone got what they deserve.


Please leave comments. Good, bad or ugly. Especially ugly.