Friday, June 8, 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.

Beyond the sun-bleached hills, there lies a lake where, legend has it, a young boy once drowned. You can find them there in the summer now, the kids. And you can judge their personality by their proximity to the water. That group of kids trying to look tough and smoking cigarettes at the picnic tables by the parking lot? Those are the chicken-shit kids. They act like they’re not, but the lake is pretty and they prefer being next to the port-o-shitters. The kids on the grass? They know. They know it might be true. The kids that make it to the water’s edge won’t go in the water no matter how hot it is, but they know nothing is coming for them on the land. Then, there are the kids who either know and don’t give a fuck, know and give too much of a fuck. Or are just plain stupid. Or practical.

Their parents are cardboard bread people. They breathe in air and breathe out hypocritical, pseudo-episcopal nonsense.  They never mention the boy who may or may not have drowned. They are far more interested in comparing their trucks, talking about how many hours they work in a week, bragging about their lack of supplication to “the man” and planning extramarital affairs or interventions. They like the things they hate. And they yell at the things they love. Except for the ones who do it differently, but they are so few as to be statistically meaningless. 

The town is just a goddamn town. Two McDonald’s, two Starbucks, and one of every other fast food chain. A fancy restaurant. A roughneck sports bar that serves beer and wings. One diner. One café. One bookstore. Thousands of little old women reaching one yellow eye through the one-inch gap in the curtain that keeps the world out. The adults have given up completely. They don’t know it. What to call it. And, besides, they think it’s for the best. But I’m not here to mince words. You asked. So, I’m going to tell you. 

The High School football coach is loud and crass, but he has a good heart. He doesn’t mean to send kids to the hospital because their pupils are fucked and they can’t stop puking. He just likes him some football. Likes a good hit. There’s a painter in the town that won’t talk to anyone. She puts on airs and wears French clothes and has more money than most everyone else, but everyone hates her paintings. Objectively. They’re terrible. But valuable. The minister never molested anyone, but the town’s piano teacher has been doing it for years. 

There is one movie theater, and it’s old and rusted. There is one kid who sits in his room on 4chan, listening to metal, and wondering if he could ever shoot up his high school – he bets he could. He might. There is one mortuary and one cemetery where the dead kids will go. There is an ice cream parlor where the kids go when they want to hang out. And there is one donut shop where they go when they are high and paranoid and want to hang out. That, or the Rapid Roy. 

There is one town drunk … he’s from central casting. Looks like Woody Guthrie’s corpse and walks around talking about who all took his money. (The liquor store.)

There are 867 men who beat their wife and/or children. There are 134 women who do the same. There are 1,324 who would give their last dime to a neighbor in more need than themselves. There are a whole lot of people who are just cardboard. They get soggy when wet and love their TV sets. 

There is a combination sporting goods/toy store. 

There are wild things. There are few enough people that the wild things didn’t have to go too far, and the kids grow up knowing to watch their ass at all times. And not just because of the piano teacher. 

There is a tragedy that settles on this tin pan town when the sun goes down. There are tears that fall and memories that falter. There is one prostitute, but with what she’s been through, you can’t fault her. She is the queen of the black night. But it is in the twilight hours that the town is at its most vile – its most treacherous. That is the hour of the wolf and everyone can hear them howling through the forest that surrounds them, and the dry hills, and the lake, and the football coach. 

When you pass this town, you say a prayer – God, help all those people out there. They’re dying. Or they are doing just fine. 

Four more kids OD on fentanyl - add them to the list. 

There is a pair of osprey that live in the tallest tree that rims the lake. The ospreys don’t give a shit about any of the people. 

They're just fishing.

#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. You nailed this one. Straight up 21st Century America, with all its festering sores and its indifference, offset by a few good people. The numbers, the relentless numbers (remember, I like math) made this so real. This could go anywhere, but I think it'd be awesome as a screenplay or play... a sort of skip-the-fluff modern day Our Town.

    1. Yes, that is so real and so good. And I was thinking of Our Town, too!

    2. wow,Dan. Just wow. It was like Edward R. Murough describing America. That voice.

    3. Brother, I freaking love this (and you know I don't like to overdo italics)! Seriously, you should submit it somewhere.

  2. Of all I’ve learned in sixty years, I know this best: We take note of beginnings and endings, but everything important happens in between.

    Jeff called me on the day his son was born. "You gotta see him!"
    I found, after a mad dash of shopping, a teddy bear as tall as I was, and barged into the hospital. In the maternity ward, there he was. Staring through the window at the babies. He’d never looked more tired, nor more in love than at that moment. I watched him for a good five minutes before I dragged Eustace—yes I’d named the teddy bear after a saint— next to him and gave him a hug.

    He hugged back with one arm, but didn’t look. “That’s him, over there.”

    As if he needed to point him out.

    A beginning. A new child in the world.

    Jeff and I met in college. We were roommates in a dorm as old as the college we attended. When I came out, I told him first. He kissed me on the lips.

    “Just to get you started,” he laughed.

    When he got married, I was his best man.

    Our lives went in different directions, but we never lost touch. We talked by phone, we texted, hell, we even wrote letters.

    And now, he’d asked me to be his son’s godfather.

    And we both stared at that little boy, the little boy who would be his legacy.

    Neither of us had ever been more “in the moment,” or less talkative than those minutes in that hospital.

    He’d made one more request of me, one that neither of us thought of at that moment. A request I first said no to, then relented and said yes. When the time came, and the clock was ticking, he asked me to deliver his eulogy.

    I hugged him again, and cursed cancer. He and I both put a hand on the window, as if we were projecting rays of love through our fingers to that little boy.

    And maybe we were.

    There, in between a birth and a death, was everything that was important.

    1. A genuine love story. You balanced the sentiment just right, brother.

    2. beautiful and touching.

    3. Yeah, balanced is right. The others say it better^^^

    4. Leland that gave me chills! Great story and powerful ending.

  3. “If you decide to do it, skip the note.” That’s what I told him. And then he walked away.

    I slept fitfully last night, when I got home. Nightmares woke me up several times. Nightmare. Just one. That he’d actually kill himself.

    After the coffeemaker delivered its gift of caffeine, I turned the “do not disturb” off on my phone. And the text message that appeared made the nightmare true.

    “Goodbye.” That’s all it said, and it was from him.

    I didn’t need to call anyone, didn’t need to check the newspaper or online, I knew he did it.

    We were friends since childhood. He was the thinker, I was the jock. An accident of geography made our friendship possible. We lived across the street from each other.

    We waited for the school bus together. He tutored me through math and geography. I stuck up from him with the ignorant asses at school made fun of his glasses.

    He wrote poetry. I was the captain of the football team. He learned to paint. I learned to drive.

    I used to joke with him that he was either going to grow up to be a famous artist or a serial killer. He used to joke that I would grow up to be a boring old businessman or a boring old businessman.

    He hadn’t called for months. I hadn’t either. We both just got busy, I guessed. And then, last night, out of the blue, he asked to meet me for a drink. His voice was serious.

    I said yes. and we met in the bar where we’d both had our first legal drinks together a dozen years before.

    I smiled. He didn’t.

    “You okay?” I asked.

    “No,” he answered.

    “What’s up?”

    “I can’t do it any more.”

    “Do what?”

    “Any of it. I’m done.”

    There was only the clinking of glassware that the bartender was washing. The place was deserted.

    “We all go through rough spots…” I started.

    He smiled. A kind of half smile. A sad smile. His eyes were liquid.

    “Anything I can help with?”

    He shook his head no. “I just wanted…”

    “What? Wanted what?”

    “…wanted you to know it’s not your fault. When it happens.” And he stood up, threw a twenty on the table, and started walking away.

    I knew I had to say something. Friends don’t let friends… “If you decide to do it, skip the note,” I told his back.

    He laughed.

    And he did skip the note. And now I’ll never know What darkness smothered him.

    I know a different darkness. The darkness of losing a friend, of knowing I didn’t do enough. And the darkness of knowing it was my fault. It was the fault of all of us. Including him.

    1. Oh, that ending is so clutch. This whole piece resonates with me in a huge way. An all too common story told uncommonly well.

    2. yeah that "enough" in the aftermath haunts us all.

  4. It is hard for adults to remember the crushing blows of sadness that accompany the “fun” of childhood. My daughter missed the last day of school today. She likes school. She was all set to have ice cream with her pals. It’s easy to think: “Hell, first world kid problem” – problem is, she’s fucking devastated. And I can see from outside. That in a week she won’t care. In a year, she will laugh. When she’s my age, it will be nothing. Today, it is everything. And part of me does want to say, that’s life. Sucks sometimes. But most of me knows that it would only make things worse. She is living in the moment and, right now, the moment is tragic.

    Kids don’t understand what it means to be an adult. Most adults forget, but not all of them. I haven’t forgotten. When having to miss a sleepover was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. I ain’t about to tell that girl that everything is going to be OK. But I will try to understand. I will try, and I will partially succeed. She won’t believe it. She will think that I have forgotten. That is the way of the world. First world problems.

    And I don’t mean to invite anybody on a guilt trip. Even though I’m packed and ready. Children starve and go without clean water. Makes missing an ice cream social seem like nothing. Unless you’re the one missing out. It’s all relative and pain is pain. As it CAN be. In that moment. And there will never be another moment for that pain to exist, though we revisit our grievances. Like picking at a hangnail. Or sometimes like having a hot spike driven into your eyeball.

    We have such a narrow view. You, of me. And me, of you. And yet, we try and pretend that it’s not that way. The human condition. We like to talk about the human condition, but humans live in all kinds of conditions. And if you try to convince me that we are just talking about what it means to be human, I might suggest that you ‘sort of’ know what it is like to be you and jack-shit else.

    I’m not trying to be a dick. And I’m certainly not trying to put myself above you. I’m not. I’m treading water in my own human condition.

    Nursery rhymes and secret crimes. The world spins on a dime. Everybody always asking for the time. So few giving it away.

    Look at a raven. The raven is smart. The raven does not trouble himself with morality. The raven will survive by wit and will flourish despite almost any obstacle. Ain’t no first world problems for the raven. And they can usually sneak their way around real problems. Eat anything. Go anywhere. Take a sandwich from your hand and disappear into thin air. The raven is feared and respected because of what it sees and what it doesn’t see.

    Stack that up against your humanity.

    1. You guys are making me cry legit today.

    2. Ah, that ending. I have a soft spot for ravens, and for kids whose hearts are broken. You wrote both with understanding.

    3. There's that synchronicity again: we both talk about ravens and wolves. Also, in the middle of this contemplative and nuanced piece, you still made me laugh (a tough balance you always manage to negotiate): "And I don’t mean to invite anybody on a guilt trip. Even though I’m packed and ready."

  5. Part 1

    Lila glared at the guard. A wall of a man, chest puffed in his sense of duty, thumbs hooked into his belt like a sheriff in an old Western. But she was armed too—with a court order and the adrenaline thrill of the arguments she’d laid down in order to obtain it. Now they could no longer keep her out. God knows they’d tried. At three different security checkpoints, she had to mention her name, her credentials, show the paperwork, endure a pat-down and a search of her briefcase.

    “No pictures,” he said finally, by way of granting her permission to enter the facility.

    She’d been told what to expect. Of course, no pictures. The identities of the children would be protected. She hated when the media splashed up images of suffering children; yes, it might squeeze out some tears and celebrity outrage, but it was cruel and intrusive and she would not participate in that heartbreaking manipulation.

    She would not do that to these children. Many years ago, she’d been one of them. She and her brother.

    Her heels echoed on the concrete floor as she walked down the corridor, escorted by a different guard. She snatched glances at him. Wondering how he could be a party to separating children from their deported parents. Wondering how it could have been done to her own family. Most likely, he would say he was only following the law or that he was just doing his job. How many horrors has the world endured over people just following orders? Again she saw those stark, heart-wrenching images from the concentration camps that they were shown in school. Men little more than skeletons in striped uniforms. The piles of bodies. Again she saw her brother in the detention camp. Saw him broken and bruised and so, so small. “Dios mio,” she said to herself, “if any of these children have been harmed...”

    They turned a corner and she was close enough to hear the crying. Her throat tightened and she bit the inside of her lip. She could do this. She’d done this many times, taken children out of bad environments. Only never on so grand a scale.

    What the guards hadn’t seen on her phone were all the contacts. All the families who wanted to foster children; some able to take three, four, five, six. What they hadn’t seen in her briefcase was another court order. This one had been more difficult to obtain. It would cost her dearly to pull that trigger; the man she’d dealt with said that for every favor his boss granted, he wanted triple in return. But for the children, it was worth it.

    The guard stopped at the chain link gate. She stared at it, then at him. “Like dogs. You cage them like dogs.”

    His unkempt eyebrows pushed together; the expression one beat from saying he was just doing his job. She didn’t want to hear it. Instead she focused on a small girl staring at her with huge, red-rimmed eyes. Lila crouched down and smiled at her, hooking an index finger through the gate.

    “Hola, pequeño. ¿Cuál es su nombre?”

    For a long moment, the girl stared. Her lower lip trembled. She couldn’t have been more than five. An older boy, maybe eight or nine, stepped close to the girl, a protective hand on her shoulder.

    “It’s okay,” Lila said, continuing in Spanish. “I’m just here to make sure you’re all right.”

  6. Part 2

    He didn’t answer. But nothing was all right about this. They were crowded in like animals. Their beds were paper-thin space blankets on the concrete floor. God knows where their parents were. But if Lila’s plan worked, she would know where these children were, would know that they were safe. She and her colleagues would know it. And, eventually, their parents. She reached into her purse and pushed a button on the phone, alerting her team to get into position.

    Then she stood and faced the guard. “I am authorized to take these children into protective custody.” Then, heart in her throat, she shoved the second court order at him. As he read, one of those unkempt eyebrows rose, along with a corner of his mouth.

    “Are you for real, lady? The president of the United States. How do I know you didn’t forge this signature?”

    She yanked out her phone. “How do you know that calling his office right now and asking that question won’t get you fired?”

    He looked at the paperwork again. “I gotta check this out,” he said, and disappeared down the hall.

    She’d already made friends with two of the children by the time he returned. His expression a blend of irritation and disbelief. A half hour later, a convoy of minivans filled with children was heading toward their rendezvous, where the foster parents had been told to meet them.

    She drove the first one. Smiling to herself in her triumph. Yes, it would cost her. She’d have to join the president’s legal team for a few months, but it would be worth it. In fact, she chose to look at the assignment as a challenge. If she could survive that, she could do anything.

    1. Now that’s a hero! What a brilliant twist this story is on the horrifying news cycle... well done, as always.

    2. And the crowd goes WILD!! The cheering in my head is absolutely deafening! Go YOU!

    3. Ha, brilliant! The plight of these families is making me heartsick, but this piece cheered me. You handle it with great sensitivity, Laurie!

    4. I agree. There's something amazing about your short pieces, too. They are short and powerful with the depth and development you usually only see in long form. Well done.

  7. Part 1

    It's always windy now; there's never any peace. They tell me the local wolves are returning. I say good. That's good. Find the dens. Go ahead with your crimes.

    Since words are such distant cousins and not the only language we know, I doubt that words themselves will suffice for the telling of this tale, but let's try.

    Where did I come from? I cannot even know. I woke on a trail favoured by green. Why do we highlight the fox, the bat, the buffalo? I feel her palm settle over my wrist, and we bow beneath the wax-green arbor. We are stitched into the tapestry absent our consent.

    In case you missed it, I repeat: our assent means nothing to the world.

    An old woman watching the haze coughed up by the eventide. I used to sit here and watch whales. I haven't seen a whale in twenty years. The ocean itself is a heaving grey behemoth with cloudy eyes, redolent of slate. Imagine wet dust.

    My name is Millie Trench. This was my home for three score years. You think your avarice enables you to up and lay a hand on it? Let's talk about that greed. We've grown accustomed to it, and you've grown used to exercising it in the service of politics that sound more like faith.

    You overreached. We all did.

    We pranked our friends but never copped to it. We ran through evening streets convincing ourselves we'd seen a visitation. A spindly future in a window. A light in the deepening dark above the rooftops. And we ran, alive in our fabricated terror, lungs swelling our ribcage nobility, skinny thighs pistoning the liquid cylinders of our adolescent hips. We were mercury, platinum, and we ran until our terror became real.

    Entire lifetimes have gone by since then.

    We never imagined the coming brittleness, the years of compromised ligaments, of tendons stretched beyond their elastic bounds, of creaking bones or the quiet unearthly skies.


  8. Part 2

    I know you'll come and cry with me if I ask. I don't like to impose. My heart purrs inside a hummingbird, fluttering as my host drinks crimson nectar from a feeder. My genitals are something else. You really need to witness them, but I won't insist. (I might no longer be human.) We slip inside and rest against the black ink geometry of panels. Pen and ink on rough sketchpad partial to yellowing. Let me draw you. Your lines inspire me. Your mortal heft. Pull off the interstate, Bridie, let's take stock of this and make some visual music if we have an hour or so to try.

    A raven lives in the tower and laughs. She is the plainclothes inquisitor dripping warm song on all of us. When we forge such camouflaged tunes and try to hide our hungry robes, it's like listening to the thirst of birds.

    Open the door. It's a rundown bar not far from the coast where few now bother to attend. Maybe it's a gentle church of liquor and gambling losses, where a thinning congregation no longer dreams of anything like redemption. Their prayers are holes and loss. They hope only to escape cruelty.

    I found my way this night to Millie Trench, and she gives me that nod old people know is better than some document or paper. (Old folk are the only whites conversant with that nod.)

    We sit silent before the silent sea. Now and again, a man up the beach laughs amicably, a sugar grain cascade.

    Where are all the gulls?

    All she needs, my dusty compatriot, is her one last friend to reaffirm some normal standard of American life. Even fake it if I have to. Barbecues, beaches, campfires, places we watch out for bears. Lights streaking in solstice skies. A dream of an eternal park in eternal dusk starlit by fireflies, and the laughter of children singing like a secret creek.

    A horse fly, solid and glinting blackish and distracted by its mission creep, bothers the shore lurkers, hoping to drive them into casual mea culpas, circling their dim crimeheads like a winged and sable pecan as they rear and flap, preening and twitching without hope of exoneration. There's Jodi in Walmart with her gas cans, the hurtling bespattered basement steps, the gunshots into the crowded van, sex zombies, plaster casts, lies, race, sex, even hope.

    My mind uncouples. Bring them through the prize draw routes, lottery types and winning hands, clear passages now suited to the epic ruins of the day. I would like to find the corpse of a champion and unearth a feeble decoder, witness the death throes of loyalty. Spinning it all circular.

    Are we enthralled? From which side of the bay do we look? I live to suck out every thread, each loose end, and give it if not its name at least some character, a man who polishes combat boots using only green and now this lightest brown. It's a start, pale though it is.

    I wanted to have the last word with all of them and gesture as they approached, as he and his friends whooped and hollered, yelling and high-fiving my people, promising to haul each other up and out. I never knew his name. Was he the man who laughed? Could he have been the wolf? Things will be elided here, redacted and stashed away, quite possibly forever.

    1. Thank you for not succumbing to doubt, and for sharing these beautiful words.... the color descriptions and references are magical... the shame is palpable, and the hunger for what was, what remains, and what might be... truly, my friend, you are a word painter.

    2. All those strung together moments, so beautifully crafted. And yet so understated. Trying to think of an artist that paints the way you write, it'll come to me, I swear...

    3. This place truly is special in its encouragement. Thank you, my friends.

    4. This is how you write when you're jammed up? I'm coming north to punch you in the face. ;) Seriously, though, I can see why you would doubt it, but I LOVE it. Because it is somewhat disjointed and stilted, the imagery and descriptions and word play just smack the everyloving shit out of me. Word painting. Yep. And, like they say about jazz, there is magic in the empty spaces.

    5. Yeah, it feels a bit like it's all tied together with binder twine and duct tape. Maybe a good punch in the face will shake some more words loose! Thanks, brother. Mild synesthesia helps with the painting/jazz thing!

  9. When I awake, the sun is already near rising. I listen through the open window for the hermit thrush that is my usual alarm.
    There is only silence.
    The katydids, the crickets, the sparrows—all are quiet. I rise from my bed, and look out the window. The eastern sky is an unearthly yellow, not the blood red and heady mauves I’ve grown accustomed to.
    The dog whimpers, not to be let out, but in a corner. He is shaking, a reaction normally reserved for thunder and fireworks.
    In the kitchen, I start the coffee. My hand finds the on button for the radio.
    "We are unable to provide the usual broadcast of Morning Edition due to circumstances beyond our control. Please enjoy our selection of classical music this morning. We begin with Tchaikovsky's 1812..."
    The announcer's voice is silenced by what I’d swear was a gunshot, and Tchaikovsky does not play.
    I change the station. The all news channel is not playing the classical music.
    "The president has declared martial law after a series of explosions ripped through the Capitol building. Law abiding citizens are advised to remain indoors as illegal rioters and looters are dealt with. Long live the president!"
    I turn the radio off. I remind myself to breathe. I knew it was coming. I am surprised that it has taken this long.
    I turn on the stove, and watch the blue flames under the cast-iron frying pan I inherited from my mother. I crack two eggs and hear the sizzle of the egg white hitting the hot metal.
    When breakfast is done, I carry my bags, packed weeks ago, to the car. The gas tank is full. With careful driving, I might reach the border. And I rehearse my plea, in both Spanish and English, for mercy, for sanctuary.
    And I pray I am not turned away.
    I check under the seat for my plan of last resort. The cold metal of the Beretta reassures me. I know there are three bullets in the magazine. One for me, one for the dog, and one for bad luck.
    I start the engine. It will be a long drive.

    1. Again with that powerful understatement, Leland. It's so much more effective when the huge (or yuge) stuff is handled quietly. You're so damned good at this. :)

    2. Yep. And that slip of the three bullets is so noir dope. And, interestingly, I watched V for Vendetta last night. I was PRIMED for this. :)

    3. That movie is AWESOME. Thank you both for your kind words.

  10. Yeah. The starkness, the understatement. Beautifully done.

  11. Oh Dear, this one's suddenly begging to go long...Oh well here's a snip

    We called Jimmy Davis One Time Jimmy because of his apparent inability to be with one girl more than one time.
    He was about in the middle of an average family of seven kids or so, and as far as any of us knew, the Davises was decent folks, who, like all decent people, were only decent as far as they went. If anything, the only thing that distinguished Jimmy was that he was a genuinely beautiful boy; better looking than the lot of them combined. Blonde hair with a little bit of curl, sapphire eyes, those long, ropy muscles and the kind of a tan peculiar to blondes that gets only gold and never any darker.
    But Jimmy was a hard one to figure. He worked his Daddy’s car repair in the same methodical way as his old man; never cheated, and never lied about the repairs you might need and those you didn’t. He understood machines. But when it came to women? Jimmy had what they might call these days a bonafide Attention Deficit Disorder. One date, one time. And he never called again.
    Or it seemed to us, anyhow. I expect by the time I was 19 or so, Jimmy’s one timers coulda formed themselves a female support group that covered most of the Bible belt. Like most young women, and more than a few fishermen, we all went a little bit crazy; trying to land the one we thought we couldn’t have.
    Marlene Troit personally dumped a half cup of sugar into the gas tank of her hand me down Pontiac, and Toni Wilson, who’d gone to the drive-in movie with him one Friday started spreading rumors that she was pregnant in the hopes that he’d call again. Of course, her regular monthly showed up 3 weeks later, which didn’t do much for her own reputation, but Toni never was one to think too far ahead. Funny thing was everybody who had gone out with him had pretty much the same story to tell afterward. A movie or a dance or maybe bowling, a stop by the drive in or the pizza place. Then he’d drop you off, kiss you on your cheek and go home. Always a perfect gentleman, he ever tried anything more, so naturally it made people suspicious. AnnaBeth Macy insisted her brother saw Jimmy one time in the locker room in the altogether and said Jimmy’s balls had never quite properly descended and that could explain everything. But we already knew that despite the intriguing possibility, Bud Macy was a regulation asshole with a football scholarship and probably just made it up.
    I’d never met Jimmy myself; he was a couple years older than me and went to West while I went to Central, but even at that, word got around. It wasn’t until that night the tornados ripped through north of the railroad tracks and leveled just about everything in that part of town that I happened to meet him at all. I had a part time job after school at the TasteTee Shack and even though it wasn’t yet five in the afternoon, old man Kenney closed up and sent everybody home when he heard the warning on the radio.
    And the weatherman wasn’t kidding, either. The sky was that strange greenish yellow that comes before the twisters do; the wind was up and the clouds were scudding across the sky in a stampede. I was just about a third of the way home, right outside the Davis’ gas station when the first of the hail hit. I slunk underneath the overhang and the rain came down, pounded on the tin roof of the place like a thousand baby fists. I was still gonna make a run for it, but then I saw Jimmy through the window, waving his arms like a crazy man for me to come inside.

    1. This has an absolutely nailed-on voice, and I love how you get across those insights with humour: "as far as any of us knew, the Davises was decent folks, who, like all decent people, were only decent as far as they went."

    2. Well thanks! And then suddenly I'm looking at a couple of prehistoric teens exploring gender identification in the days before there were names for such things in a fallout shelter in the middle of a tornado. But I'm fascinated were we more tolerant when the labels weren't there? Hmmm

    3. Oh... I like the ambiguity of this... your comment makes me understand him more... Sadly, I think we've always had names for "others"... whether it was based on religion, skin color, affectional orientation, or whatever... we as a species seem to love the us vs. them mentality...

    4. I agree with DA about the voice. As usual, you stick the voice and the storytelling vibe is wonderful.

  12. Love has never been readily available to me. I've had to work for it all my years, it's like love grows on some tall vine I've never been able to reach. Other people have been able to grasp it more easily, like my sister for example. It came to her in almost embarrassing amounts, never ceasing, even when I was convinced it would. But no. It was always, "She'll get better. I promise." or "Well, it just happened once. We'll let it go this time." Hate grows low for me, low enough for me to stoop and gather it. I have it in abundance in my hands. The source of my hate comes from the bottom of my heart, the pit of my stomach, not the tip of my tongue. And how can I imagine love when I've seen that it comes not from the heart but the mouth? The only possible answer is that the mouth is the only place their love can come from, because it seems there is none in their hearts.


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