Friday, June 15, 2018

2 Minutes. Go!

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.

You’re an old man now, and I don’t want to open it up, but I don’t want it to stay shut. I’m tired of these conflicting narratives. Because either I’m insane or we are not on the same page. And I’m a little crazy, but I’m not insane. My memory works surprising well. For traumas at least.

I don’t remember too many good times. I’m not saying they didn’t happen, but I’m saying you’ve got the balance twisted. I suffered because when you shoved, I resisted. When you balked, I insisted.

I’d like to blow the whole thing up, but I’d be crushed if you still missed it.

I’m sorry you didn’t get what you were looking for – that’s a frustrating feeling. I know. But I also know that you didn’t do too bad with the old dice toss. I’ve seen worse. And what I feel is loss.

I was angry for so long, and it didn’t serve me well. Now, I’m spinning circles in a wildflower field, thinking.

What. The. Hell?

That’s the part that makes me feel lost. I’ve been so many places that I didn’t come from any of them. And we all just pretend that’s normal.

It’s not normal. And it’s not cool now. And it certainly wasn’t cool then.

That’s probably why I picked up a pen. It’s the only way I can come close to getting Pandora’s box open. Get Someone to listen.

I can do tricks. I don’t know if anyone is entertained except me, but fuck you, because I do the shit for free. And that’s bad on me. I’m an idiot. You were right about that. You just didn’t know what kind of idiot I was. Not all of us idiots are bad.

I could have been the best idiot you ever had.

Instead, we circle each other forever. No one willing to throw the first punch. And I know now that it’s never going to happen. And that it’s going to get worse. Because when memory falters, we are all cursed.

And there will come a day when your idiotic self will lose all the filters you ever had – threadbare as they were. You will become the myth as you mature. Or you will stop pretending, and then I will wish I had never wished any of this.

Old man. You’ve done good things with your life. I’ve done some shit with mine. Yours looks better on paper. But I like mine just fine.

Let’s leave it like this. There have been days when the sun was like one long hug and the water was cool. There have been days where we laughed together at the absurdity of everything, and we stopped laying bricks in the wall for a few hours. That doesn’t make it all gravy, but it adds spice. Or counters the spice. Something.

It makes it more palatable.

I’m not mad, and I don’t want an apology. I have things I could apologize for, too. And that’s what I learn at the end of this trip.

You can’t walk together if you won’t share your shoes.

And you’re always afraid to lose. 

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


  1. Ah, that amazing MaderRap, wrapped around the truths of finding commonality and anger and beauty and ugliness. I love the shoes metaphor.

    1. This: That’s probably why I picked up a pen. It’s the only way I can come close to getting Pandora’s box open. Get Someone to listen.

      and this: I’m not mad, and I don’t want an apology. I have things I could apologize for, too. And that’s what I learn at the end of this trip.

      You can’t walk together if you won’t share your shoes.

      And all of it. <3

    2. Damn. That's beautiful. All the lines LB quotes plus this: "I could have been the best idiot you ever had." That just got me.

    3. All the quotes by others, plus this: "There have been days where we laughed together at the absurdity of everything, and we stopped laying bricks in the wall for a few hours." Regrets and painful truces.

  2. He awoke to a ray of sunshine that shone in through the gap in the curtains.
    Shit! He’d overslept!
    Heart racing, he glanced at the alarm clock. Which was dark. Power failure. Reached for his phone to call in to work.
    Nothing. The screen said "no service."
    Dammit. He grabbed a towel and jumped in the shower.
    And no water came from the spigot.
    His watch said he was running an hour late. Still time to make the meeting. He went heavy on the deodorant, ran his fingers through his hair and donned the suit he’d laid out the night before.
    The elevator, thank god, was working.
    He ran to his car in the underground garage, and pressed the button on his keyfob.
    There was no friendly chirp, no flashing lights. Talk about the day from hell. He used the key to manually unlock the car, got in, and raced like a madman to the office.
    Where his parking pass did not raise the flimsy arm protecting the parking lot.
    Guest parking would work. He grabbed his briefcase and dashed for the lobby doors. He flashed his ID at the guard and made it onto another working, thank god, elevator.
    The clock on his desk showed another twenty minutes until the meeting. He’d call the power company first.
    "Thank you for calling Consolidated Power. Please enter your account number or speak your address to continue."
    "427 Main, apartment 1, Berkeley."
    "One moment please."
    He hated the computer-generated voice.
    "I’m sorry, we have no record of that address. Would you like to talk to a representative?"
    "Hell, yes!" He shouted.
    "The estimated wait time is seventeen minutes. We appreciate your patience. Your call is important to us!"
    He hung up. He’d call after the meeting.
    He stood up, shook his arms to loosen up, grabbed his laptop, and headed into the conference room.
    His boss, James Olivetti, was at the door and extended his hand. "I don’t believe we've met..."
    And just like that, the life of Robert Jonson was unraveled.
    We don’t know if or how long he lived after that fateful day, because of course, there are no records of his birth or death.

    1. This is super tense and intriguing. I feel like you've been playing around with these kind of dark, scary scenes and it makes me want a Leland-dystopic novel. (hint)

    2. Yes! What Dan said. I love this Twilight Zone/Black Mirror unsettling stuff.

  3. Long one - finished in comments.


    Javier waited outside the stage door. Winter had blown in overnight, and he had no proper overcoat, so he shivered in his evening jacket. His feet ached from standing all night in new shoes. He leaned against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, hands tucked in, and tried to look suave instead of broken and cold.

    While he waited, he watched the others. Men, all of them, from youngish to older than time itself. Most of them were the well-to-do, some probably aristocrats. The majority spoke Italian, though sounded as if they were from outside of Milan. Others clung to their native English. All of them were here for one reason: Emiliana Valenti.

    Javier had never heard of the renowned diva before that night, wouldn’t have known her name had it not been printed on the programme. From the gallery, he hadn’t been able to see her face, and he still couldn’t, surrounded as she was by this gaggle of posturing men. But her voice…

    Even speaking instead of singing, her voice was unmistakable. He’d know it anywhere. Every word she spoke was music to his ears, but when she’d sung, he’d heard it with his heart. No, his soul.

    So he would wait.

    He waited while men flirted and plied her with bouquets. He waited while they showered her with flattery, both sincere and not. He waited as, one-by-one, they realized they would receive no special favor and thus drifted away into the night. When one arrogant cad blatantly propositioned the diva, Javier finally moved, pushing himself away from the wall and curving his frozen fingers into fists. But Emiliana handled the man herself, crushing him with words instead of fists, and sending him stamping away in a black mood.

    She turned to retreat farther into the opera house, gesturing for a man nearby to shut the door, and Javier feared he had waited too long. But then she turned and looked him in the eye.

    “It’s cold,” she said, in Italian.


    “Come inside.”

    Javier stepped past the threshold and the man shut the door behind him. Emiliana retreated a few more steps and then turned to face him.

    “Dov'è il tuo cappotto?”

    Javier’s brows drew down and his lips moved silently as he pondered her words, tried to decipher her question. He shook his head.

    “Que…Cosa cappoto?”

    “Coat,” she said in English.

    “Oh. Coat.”

    “Do you not have a coat?”

    “Is…raìdo. How you say? Not torn, but…” He gestured toward his sleeve as if it would somehow make her understand. Then he shrugged one shoulder. “Old.”

    1. She smiled, not a patronizing smile but one of pure amusement, and he grinned back at her. She stood, quietly, and after a moment he realized that she was waiting for him, almost as patiently as he had waited for her.

      “I didn’t know I would be standing so long in the cold,” he said. “I thought I was only coming to see a performance in a crowded hall where I would be warm. But after tonight…I wanted to speak to you.”

      “And here you are.”


      Javier realized he was fidgeting with the cuffs of his sleeves and made himself stop. He looked Emiliana in the eye.

      “I just wanted to thank you.”

      “Thank me?”

      “For your performance. You were fantastic.” He grinned, shyly. “But you know that. What you don’t know is how much it moved me. I felt it to my very soul. Not everyone can do that. Make you feel the music. I’d forgotten what it was like to be moved by someone’s voice. And I know a little of how much time and effort you must put into your singing, to be able to do that.”

      Emiliana considered him for a moment, her head canted slightly to one side.

      “You saw all those men who were here.”


      “Some brought me flowers. One brought me jewels, which I regretfully declined. All of them said kind words about my singing. About God’s glorious gift to me.” She tapped her rouged lips with one finger. “Do you know, not one of them said a word about my hard work?”

      “Most of them wouldn’t know about hard work.”

      She beamed at him, wide enough that her eyes squinted. There were lines at the corners of her eyes, marking her as, probably, being a few years older than Javier had assumed.

      “No, they would not,” she agreed. “Do you attend the opera often?”

      “Never before tonight, but I enjoyed it very much. I will attend again.”

      “A lover of music then.”

      “Si. Very much.”

      “I so rarely get to enjoy music anymore.”

      “My friends and I, we make music when we can. But it’s nothing like what you do. You, the opera…it’s…” He frowned and closed his hand on air. He turned his hand over and opened his fist to show it empty.

      Emiliana laughed at him, and he smiled.

      “Will you play for me sometime?”

      Javier shrugged one shoulder.

      “I don’t know when I will be here again, but if you like…yes. I’d be honored.”

      Emiliana wrinkled up her nose. “It is not an honor.” She studied him through narrowed eyes. “You are an airman.”

      Javier straightened his shoulders and fought to not clench his jaw. “Yes.”

      “I’ve always thought it would be exciting, to go up in the clouds. To travel across the world. To see everything there is to see.”

      Relaxing a little, Javier gave her a cock-eyed grin. “I wouldn’t know. I haven’t seen everything. Yet.”

      Emiliana laughed again and laid her hand on his arm.

      “Come and see me when you’re in port again. We will talk. You will play music for me. We will drink a lot of wine and stay up too late.”

      Knowing a dismissal when he heard one, Javier took her hand and kissed her knuckles in a proper goodbye. “I look forward to it. Adiós señorita”

      “Arrivederci, Signore. Buon viaggio.”

      He wasn’t certain what all of the words meant, but he understood well enough. He gave her a bow and let the man at the door let him out.

      The walk back to his airship was long, but he never felt the cold.

    2. I'm digging this. I'd love to know more about them.

    3. Thank you. Me too. :D

      Javier is one of my favorite characters, and I love that #2minutes gives me a place to share bits of his story that will never show up in a novel.

    4. Beautifully written! It reminds me a bit of one of my favorite movies of all time... Diva, a 1981 French film. I hope Javier does play for her... thanks for the lovely story.

    5. I agree. This is super rich and beautiful. Not that I think you should even entertain this notion, but there was a point in the story where I thought he was going to kill her, and I was like, "oh snap!" - so, if you're looking for that oh snap effect. ;)

    6. Yes, I had that same vibe early on, an undercurrent of tension. I love that you're giving your characters more life here; that's a great idea and can only add to their richness in the novels.

  4. The Last Best Day

    He got the idea from a story on Facebook. A guy's dog was diagnosed with a nontreatable form of cancer, and the day before the dog was put to sleep, the man gave his dog everything he wanted.

    Sad, really, that people waited till the end for things like that.

    Thank God his dog was healthy. But he planned a Last best day anyway. Give the dog all the bacon she wants. Walk as long as she wants. Swim in the fountain with the "no dogs allowed" sign. Saunter along the beach, chasing seawater as it waved in and out.

    It was a magnificent day. When it was over, Maxine was exhausted but smiling. Even now, at their friend's house, she slept on a chair.

    He whispered to his friend, "I’ve got to go now. Be good to her, okay?"

    His friend nodded.

    And he walked quietly out the door, got in his car, and drove to the oncology clinic.

    1. No one can break a heart as beautifully as you can.

    2. Seriously, what she said. Man.

    3. Tears. Streaming down my face.

    4. Thank you, both for reading it and for your kind words.

    5. I agree with Laura. I also wonder if you've ever read Paul Auster's Timbuktu. Not a book I think about a lot, but there's a bit where the man spends ages making a smell museum for his dog. Reminded me of this. I like yours better. Auster got weird in that one.

    6. Yeah, got choked up again. You do it so well.

    7. Thanks! I’ll have to check out Timbuktu!

  5. Noemi has been his lover for more than two years, and although they only see one another every few weeks, he knows her well. He knows how to make her laugh, and how to make her eyes flash with anger. He has seen her nude and glorious, like a goddess in a painting, and he has seen her first thing in the morning, her hair a tangled cloud, sleep crusting her lashes, a crease on her cheek from the pillow. She has cared for him when he was ill, and she has thrown crockery at his head. He can tell her mood from a single word or gesture, and he has learned how to weather them all.

    He knows her well. So he knows the moment he sees her that something isn’t right.

    She puts on a good show. Says the right things, touches his face and his hand in the familiar way, but something, some small thing that he can’t even identify, tells him that things have changed between them.

    He spends the evening trying to decide how he feels about that change. He considers it as they have and early dinner together in her small kitchen. He picks at it as he helps her dress. He turns it over in his mind as he watches her dance, a wary eye on the men who have come to see her.

    He doesn’t love her. At least, he doesn’t think he does. He’s not sure, exactly, what it means to love a woman in a marriage and children sort of way. He knows love, of course. When he was a child, he loved his family—his father, his mother, his sister, and his dear friend Eliazar, who he called his brother. Now, he loved the patchwork family he had made. Andrew, who was like a second father. Oliver and Simon, his brothers. Eleanor, who was like…well, not a mother. Not a sister, either. Perhaps like a very attractive older cousin who you knew you weren’t supposed to think about when you were lying in bed at night.

    He doesn’t love Noemi, but he cares for her. He doesn’t want things to change between them, but the more he things about it, the more he realizes they already have. Their passion tends more toward fighting than lovemaking, lately. His visits are filled with mundane conversation about the neighbors instead of stories from his travels and stories from the tavern where she dances. Sometimes, they even use her bed for sleep.

    He doesn’t like what all of this tells him. It is the end, and he is powerless to stop it.

    No, not powerless. He has a choice. He could do what she would have him do. He can trade the skies and his airship family for a life here, with her. He can find work in some shop or maybe a factory. But if he does, it will truly be the end for them. He will resent her, and she will hate having him underfoot. Worse, she will have to spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder, just as he does. That is not a life he would wish on anyone, much less a wife and children.

    If he was wiser, he would just leave. Go back to the Persephone and drift out of Barcelona and out of Noemi’s life. But has always been a little foolish. He will hold on as long as he can. And if he can, he will make her hate him, just a little, because there is no reason for both of them to walk away with broken hearts.

    1. What a powerful glimpse into the mind of one who desires intimacy, and yet fears it. Beautifully written and wistful.

    2. Oh, I love that ending so hard. I've always been a big proponent of leaving a token of hatred behind (in fiction!) - it's a gentle and lovely piece.

    3. Those guys said it. Bringing characters to life is hard, and you do it so well.

  6. She spoke in whispers. Not to avoid being heard, but to make others to listen.
    He was fragile. Not of body, but of mind.
    The war was over, and they were both at a dance.
    She despised dances.
    He did, too.
    She was serving punch that was too sweet for her taste, but she forced a smile.
    He was tapping his foot to an Andrews Sisters song that was as overly sweet as the punch. He hated when his body betrayed him.
    She looked at him, sweating in his woolen uniform.
    He looked at her, with tan lines that showed she spent more time in the field than on the dance floor.
    Their eyes met.
    She spilled a cup of punch and didn’t notice.
    His foot stopped tapping, and he did notice.
    He nodded his head toward the garden door.
    She nodded yes.
    They reached for the door handle at the same time, and their hands touched.
    They whispered together in old Adirondack chairs till the party was over.
    They whispered together, holding hands, healing each other, for the next fifty-two years.
    And they never learned to dance.

    1. So beautiful! That last line...

    2. Yup. That last line. And I really dig the bare bones structure. It works really well. And yeah, that last line is a killer.

    3. Last line, yes. But also that first line. There's no room for error in such a spare piece, and your (dance) steps are surefooted.

    4. Y’all make me smile, and ya make me keep writing!

  7. "Short" is not in my vocabulary today, it seems.

    Part One

    Tom could not believe any of this was real. Perhaps he’d had too much apple brandy and nodded off in his favorite armchair on the front porch and was having a wonderful dream. Again he brushed his fingers against the metallic walls, over the strange panel of what old Ben said he would use to control this odd contrivance. Tom had once envisioned a type of ship that could lift off the ground, made a few sketches, but that was years ago, in a fit of fancy, to entertain his grandchildren. Never had he imagined he could escape the bounds of earth without moving at all; never had he—

    The very air next to Tom shivered, and into the seat adjacent to his popped a fusty and quite discontented little man. The man, whose expression shifted from confusion to annoyance, emitted a harrumph at where he found himself, as if this event had not happened for the first time. “I was perfectly content in Massachusetts, Franklin, now will you kindly explain what is this foolishness and why it was so important to—”

    Old Ben laughed. Dear God, Tom had missed that laugh. No. It had to be a dream. The esteemed Dr. Franklin had escaped his own mortal bounds years ago. And yet here they all were. Just as they had been in Philadelphia during the hottest summer he could recall.

    “Mr. Adams, I will kindly explain my own foolishness if you keep yours to a dull roar.” Ben gestured to the instrument panel. To the turning gears and flashing lights of a design Tom could not in his mind disassemble. “I have created”—he paused, in what Tom recognized as the showman’s flourish he often used in Congress—“a device that will permit us to travel forward in time.”

    John Adams’ mouth opened and closed like a fish in distress.

    Tom could not resist. “Dr. Franklin, I do enjoy the few moments when our friend is rendered speechless. Good afternoon, John.”

    “Yes, hello, Tom.” He spun back to Ben. “Travel forward in time? Seriously, have you been into your cups? And everyone else’s as well?”

    “Perhaps,” Ben admitted. “But once I figured out how it could be done I couldn’t resist. And I could think of no two better men to accompany me on our maiden voyage.”

    Adams’ fingers tightened on the armrests. “Are you meaning to say you’ve never tested this monstrosity?”

    Franklin made a coy shrug.

    “John.” Tom gave his old friend a gentle smile. “Just take a good breath and consider the possibilities. This experiment we undertook in Philadelphia. The war we fought for our independence. The young country we both led. The concerns we have spent much of our retirement expressing in our correspondence. Aren’t you the slightest bit curious to know if it has stood the test of time?”

    “Frankly, no. If God had intended me to have that knowledge, He would allow me years enough to see it for myself.”

    “I fear we will not have so many years,” Tom said. “I have no answer for Dr. Franklin’s presence, as our God does work in mysterious ways. But think on it, John. I know, better than most, that deep in your breast beats an inkling of curiosity.”

    A long sigh escaped the man from Massachusetts. “Fine then. Let us see what God and our labors have wrought.”

    And then Franklin went to work. Giddily tapping on buttons and turning dials. It was the oddest sensation. Like an ocean wave swam its way back and forth over Tom’s body. As if he were the ocean himself. Adams looked distinctly dyspeptic. Then, finally, the craft and the sensations stilled.

    “Have we arrived?” Tom asked Ben.

  8. Part Two

    “More importantly,” Adams said, “where and when have we arrived?”

    “The seat of our modest government, two hundred years hence.” Ben pushed some buttons and pulled a lever, and inch by inch, a door at the side of the contraption slid open. Tom strained to see and hear and smell this new land they’d travelled to, but before his mind could fit all the pieces together, the three of them had been whisked out, as eerily as they’d been spirited into the conveyance. Which had now vanished.

    Adams, as usual, seemed the most disturbed. His head spun left and right and he rounded on Franklin as if he’d just committed treason. Franklin merely flipped a hand and strode forward. “It’s all taken care of. Tom, tell him not to worry so; it’s bad for the digestion.”

    Tom was about to say something very much like that when he noticed that not only had the craft disappeared, they themselves seemed to be invisible to the veritable hordes of people they were now walking among and sometimes straight through. Men and women, of all nationalities and cultures. Shocking in their dress, some of them.

    “This is it?” John said. “This is our United States? This is our Washington?”

    “The very same.”

    While Tom and John were both absorbing how all had changed, Franklin was, as always, Franklin. Nothing seemed to ruffle that old turkey’s feathers. He stopped at a large, domed building, and as if he owned it, began striding up the granite stairs. The gout of his corporeal body seeming to not disturb him in the slightest.

    “Gentlemen,” Franklin said, guided by some unknown force through doors and down corridors, “I give you our congress.”

    Tom held his breath. At the size of it. Black and white, men and women. This truly was a dream. One in his private thoughts he’d hoped for, but never could believe. He slid a glance to Adams, and it was as if they were in agreement. If this was in some way, shape, or form not a dream, they would have much to discuss in their upcoming letters.

    “Well,” Franklin said with a smirk. “From the arguments, I gather not all has changed in the future.”

    As Franklin ushered them out and the doors closed behind them, a question came to Tom’s mind and he dared not voice it. But Adams beat him to it. “Franklin. Is the office of the presidency still intact?”

    “My sources tell me it’s not far,” Franklin said. “Let’s find out.”

    After a short walk, Franklin stopped. Adams’ mouth again dropped open. Tom could not immediately find the words.

    “This looks...” Adams swallowed. “Franklin. This has a frightening resemblance to the palace at Versailles. This surely cannot be where...”

    “Just wait,” Franklin said with a sigh.

    A man walked by. Trailing such pageantry, such puffery. Such fawning flattery he might as well have been a king. Or worse. He stood before a small crowd that seemed to hang on his every utterance. Had the language changed so drastically? Was it indeed still English they were speaking? The tone with which he addressed the men and women dripped of disdain and impatience. He even cursed like a sailor at one of them, and Tom could almost sense the intake of John’s breath.

    “This man was indeed elected?” John sputtered. “By our people?”

    “Truly, yes,” Franklin said. “As a wise man once said, we get the government we deserve.”

    John’s eyes narrowed as again he turned accusingly on the good doctor. “You knew of this. This was not the maiden voyage of your contraption. You’ve been here before!”

    Franklin lowered his gaze like a child caught in a lie. Then lifted his head. “True. I have.”

    “Why, Ben?” Tom asked.

    “I needed witnesses. And of all the men I’ve met, you are the two I’ve trusted most.”

    Adams pulled himself up taller, which didn’t do much, only made him look more like a popinjay than he already was. “Franklin, can you still specify where your conveyance will take us?”

    “I got us here, didn’t I?”

    “Then get us somewhere else. Get us to Philadelphia, 1787. We have some changes to make to that Constitution.”

    1. If only... this is delightfully written, with just the right amount of shock and dismay. Well done!

    2. Agreed. I really dig this. And the Franklin/turkey bit was a nice inside touch. I'd love to see this keep going and be published. I think you're onto something cool.

    3. Yes, I love it. I echo these guys, and especially Dan's hope that you keep going with it. This could be a very cathartic story.

  9. Part One

    "A screaming comes across the sky."—Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

    He stopped because he thought that's what you did. She kept going for the very same reason.

    The street had become a sluggish blur to both of them; each had eyes for the other only. Each felt only heart pain as the clasp of their hands loosened and was parted.

    All sounds were muted: the clang of a streetcar a cracked bell; muffled sidewalk murmurs; the soft rustle of pigeon wings.

    His mouth formed an O gape as he tried to call her back, tell her no; hers was a downcast wound as she silently implored him to keep up.

    No matter.

    Everything uncoupled and inconsolable. Sometimes this is how it ends.


    She walked here on this earth, and she lived among the stars beyond her ancestors. If you had seen her liquid emerald eyes, folded with molten gold, you would have stood in one place forever, unable to move with the sorrowing weight of her grief and the burden of her arcane glamour. She will never return to this place and her absence will prove calamitous.

    Lovetar, Kali, Menhit, Lamia, Scylla and Charybdis, in your passing all colour fades, all song has fallen mute on brittle ears. We beseech you. Pain is a dance and truth is also a place. Come back to us. Even as the bay doors open, even as the poison seeds fall, even at the moment of our eradication.


    Here we are in the violet night, spilling from our front doors, tumbling down our steps, hurtling into a riotous haze of utter disbelief.

  10. Part Two

    She called herself Glass because most everyone looked through her and she was easily shattered. She had a single tattoo on her midriff, of an open window.

    Between her skinny legs Montgomery breathed easy, safe and partway warm on concrete paving in his cocoon of threadbare denim. Government Street in April.

    "Is your dog friendly?" A woman, thirtysomething.

    "Monty. Sure," said Glass.

    The woman reached to pet him, and Glass didn't breathe. Monty glanced at her and decided it was okay and extended his disheveled neck for a scratch, and then Glass breathed.

    "I see you every day, and every day I think I should speak to you." The woman obliged Monty, who smiled, his pink tongue draped on his teeth, somewhere between solid and liquid. Glass said nothing, though she recalled the woman from the beauty salon a block or two away.

    A man across the street yelled something over the early traffic. He sounded hoarse and weary.

    "Look. It's not right you should have to lie on this sidewalk while folks no better than you drive by in luxury."

    "Someone's gotta do it. May as well be me."

    The woman sighed and stared at her. Glass wished she'd stop. She felt like she was transparent again and the woman was staring holes in the sidewalk. There was a silence that stretched too long.

    "What do you want from me, lady? How about you give me a couple loonies and go on with your day?"

    "I'll give you more than a couple loonies if you come help me clean up the salon."

    Glass squinted up at her. The sun had moved higher, and the woman was a dark grey construction paper cutout. Glass thought she heard a herring gull cry, "Beware!" Monty made his teakettle sound of unease.

    "Don't know nothing about beauty," she finally said, and a word came into her thoughts: exfoliate. Sounded like something to do with horse abortions. Yet it sounded pretty too. That's what was so weird about the world, pretty hiding inside ugly.

    Across the street, the man yelled again, and Monty barked, once. This time, Glass heard the words.

    "It's really happening!" There had been fear and disbelief in those words. And in Monty's short bark, there was a world of companionship and love and a lifetime of cold huddled nights and the withstood scorn of passing strangers and the words oh please no oh please.

    The pretty woman looked up, and she was a puzzled lens that concentrated the white and terrible sun as it fell toward each and everyone equally, the kind and the cruel.

    None stood a chance. Not grifters, not bankers, not pimps, not actors, not teachers, not lovers, not empathetic beauticians, not streetworn kids and their tousled, loveable dogs. Not even, especially not, the dreamers of dreams.


    She walked out of the infirmary, dragged her damaged limbs over moorland, mists swirling like her jettisoned conscience, the sun a rusted coin, the vast quiet dome of the sky above the earth hushed as the fading notes of a requiem.


    After the screaming, the awful woe, and then the blessed silence.

    1. Wow. From the opening line I loved it. And then you brought in Monty. The devastation in this is complete, and yet, somehow beautiful.

    2. I agree. And this line:
      She called herself Glass because most everyone looked through her and she was easily shattered.
      Damn. And now it makes me think differently about A Perfect Day for Bananafish. I need to read this a few more times. It's brilliant.

    3. That was my favorite line, too.

    4. Amazing the power of the subconscious. This came out of a dream, names and everything (the girl and the dog), and I just went with it. I did think of Phillip Glass at some point, his deceptively simple minimalism hiding great depths, but that was me retrofitting. I'll have to go read those Salinger short stories again (I think his Glass family were in more than one story, yes?).

  11. The young man was out of place here. He wore jeans, but they were spotless and their even faded look came from a store, not because he wore them often. His shoes left perfectly treaded prints in the dust. He was clean shaven, too.
    He went from tent to tent, ever so polite. He was looking for someone, he said. He had a picture that he showed. He had a name that he muttered as the picture fluttered in the wind. James Sutter.
    And everyone shook their head and then asked him for cash. Twenty-two tents. Twenty-two headshakes.
    At the far end of the camp, he looked skyward, as if asking God what to do.
    There was no answer.
    He looked down again, blinked his eyes, sending unfallen tears back to where they belonged.
    Halfway back to his car, he heard a "hey." He turned.
    Twenty feet away, a man stood. Bearded. Wearing a dirty fedora. Hunched shoulders. He looked thirty years older than the man in the picture. But the eyes still sparkled.
    They walked slowly to each other, each with different fears. One was afraid of the past, and one was afraid of the future.
    The old man was the first to open his arms.
    They hugged, without words, rocking each other from side to side.
    "Can I take you somewhere to eat?"
    The older man looked down at his dirty clothes. "I’m not proper..."
    "Maybe a shower, too."
    The old man laughed. "And where would that be?"
    "My house. I want you to meet some folks."
    The old man shook his head.
    "You’ve got a grandson, Dad." And the tears escaped. "Please come."
    And for a day, a father and a son were reunited.
    When the table was cleared, the old man asked to be taken back to the settlement. "Home," he called it.
    And the son did as he was told.
    It turns out that Hallmark movies only play well on little screens.

    1. Another killer last line. And another dope piece. The dialogue is ON POINT. Muttered/flustered/Suttter - that rolls off the tongue so well.

    2. Another heartbreaker. I love how you get a sense of the man from the briefest of descriptions, like a sketch coming alive. And yeah, the dialogue is note-perfect.

    3. Thank you kindly. Sometimes I think flash is like the writer providing the sketched lines, and the reader providing the colors that fill those spaces. At least that’s what I try for. It works best when the readers have vivid and full lives, like y’all.


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