Friday, July 13, 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.

I’m thinking about what I’m trying to say. I’m wondering about the sullied ideas that like to come and play. They don’t ask permission. They tramp through my flower beds and shit on my porch. They have no remorse.

I am not a psychopath, but there is a haze of darkness sometimes. I feel old, polluted, force-smiling … I feel like Anaheim. I fucking hate Anaheim.

Your face comes to me uninvited and it makes me happy and horrible. Sad and seditious. I want to be different, topped with whipped-cream. Delicious. I want to melt inside your mouth. Or on a hot sidewalk. It doesn’t matter so much where. I just want to melt.

I think I would look good as a hardened puddle of human.

You know I love you, and I know you love me. I know I’m not incarcerated, but I never feel free. I second guess myself constantly. And wonder what is wrong with me.

I can paint a pretty picture, but I can’t seem to frame it. I have some weird neurosis, but I don’t feel the need to name it. I live with it. I came with it. Or it was installed at the factory of my childhood. Shit.

Now, I’m not sure. Not one damn bit.

One dam bit the water clean in half. Progress, they said. With a river full of fish that are half dead. With farmers facing growing season with ever growing dread. Fuck progress. We need to go to the future and work backward instead. 


#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...

68 comments:

  1. Trademark MaderRap, peppered with Kerouac bite... nicely done.

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    1. It's dark and I love all of it, but especially that last paragraph.

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  2. He was seven, I guessed. Dark hair, dark eyes, still he glowed in the light that shined through the stained glass windows.

    His hands were clasped in prayer, but he did not look down, did not close his eyes. He looked up at the crucifix.

    I saw his lips moving, but could not hear his words. I think he was whispering.

    What was a boy so young doing alone in a church?

    I waited till he was done; till he stood up and moved toward the aisle. He genuflected.

    His eyes went wide when he saw me. My blue uniform does that to people sometimes.

    “It’s okay,” I told him.

    He closed his eyes, and his lips moved silently again.

    Newly filled with courage, he took a step toward me, stared me in the eyes. “Are you here to take me away?”

    “I’m here to make sure you’re safe. Where are your mom and dad?”

    His eyes moved to the holster on my hip. He shook his head. “I don’t know. They took them away.”

    “Who took them away? Where do you live?”

    But he did not answer.

    “He lives here,” said the priest. “He is in sanctuary.”

    “Do you have his…”

    “Papers? Such as they are, yes. His birth certificate, a power of attorney from his parents, yes, I have these. But his most important papers are pages in a book, a holy book.”

    I turned to walk out.

    “Maybe you know the words. 'For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…'”

    “I know them, Father,” I said over my shoulder.

    I turned to the crucifix, and I genuflected.

    My stomach roiled. My next assignment was crowd control. The President was visiting the city.

    I had a job to do.

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    1. This one cuts like a razor, brother

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    2. Yeah, can't add anything to this, or what they^^^ all said. Bravo.

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  3. The badge gleamed in the moonlight. J.T. shut his eyes and said a prayer. Just like he did every time he was harassed, questioned, or targeted because of the color of his skin. He was a handsome man, strong. He was not merely 'dark-skinned'. His skin was a rich, dark ebony. He was beautiful. Women loved J.T. Cops did not.

    He tried to slow his breathing. He tried to look smaller than 6’3” and 210 pounds. He assumed the most passive and placid stance he could. Hands up, face neutral.

    It did not surprise him when he was hit from behind and slammed to the pavement. It did not even make him sad. It made him aware that the world was as he always knew it had been. Like his mother had told him. “You’re a black man. That’s hard enough, but you’re big and you’re dark. They’ll come for you. You can’t give them an excuse. You hear me, baby? Not even a word. Don’t even try to assert your rights. It won’t matter. It will just make them mad. You just nod and act dumb like they want you to. I’m sorry, baby. But that’s the way it is, and I ain’t losing you.”

    He heard the radios chirping, and he felt a sharp knee in the small of his back. He heard them talking. He heard them asking him questions. But something wasn’t working. It was too much. Too many hours of his life spent being threatened and cuffed and pulled over for no reason. Against his mother’s advice, J.T. cleared his throat and spoke in a strong, clear voice.

    “I have done nothing. I have not been aggressive. This is harassment. Three people are getting this on their phones. I’m sick of this shit.”

    “You got a problem, boy? We’re just trying to make sure you’re on the up and up.”

    “Bullshit. There are fifty people on this street and you picked me.”

    “This would be a lot easier if you’d just cooperate.”

    “Cooperate with what? Getting jumped by cops for no reason?”

    “Are you resisting?”

    “Resisting what? What is this? What code y’all got for slamming a man to the ground for no reason? Where I come from that makes you a bully. You got all the power. Guns. I ain’t got nothing.”

    J.T. closed his eyes and pushed up with all his strength and started to run.

    “I heard him say ‘gun’ – you hear that shit?”

    “Clear as day. Aim for the center of his back.”

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    1. You told the story well, brother. I only wish it was all fiction.

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    2. This is so chilling. I was hoping it would end differently. Sadly, real life so often does not.

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    3. Damn, we're all having the same fascism dream, it seems. I love this but I wish I didn't, if you know what I mean. Stories need to be told; even (especially?) the awful ones.

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  4. It could have been any Sunday morning, at just about any Lutheran Church, in any small town in America. But it was my small town, it was my church, and it was my 16th birthday.

    Church was over, and the minister was greeting everyone as they left the red-carpeted sanctuary.

    “How are you this morning, Emma?” he asked my mother.

    “She’s fine,” answered my father. “Just fell down the stairs last night. Wish she wasn’t so clumsy.”

    The minister looked at the bruise around my mother’s eye, the bruise she tried so hard to cover with makeup this morning. He turned back to my father. “You might want to make sure you’ve got a railing on those stairs, Albert. That’s the second time in a month she’s fallen.”

    When the minister shook my hand, I couldn’t look at him in the eye. He whispered in my ear, “Please take care of your mother.”

    The night before was like so many Saturday nights. Dad unscrewed the cap on a bottle of cheap wine, and didn’t bother with a glass. “You’re mighty pretty, Emma. You’re settin’ my heart afire.”

    “It’s not me, it’s the wine. My back is hurting. I think I’ll sleep on the couch tonight.”

    “Like hell you are. We’re sleepin’ in the same bed, just like God intended.”

    I left the room to do my homework, which I’d already done Friday night, but I couldn’t bear to watch again.

    I didn’t hear the punch, but I heard her cry, even through the pillow I put over my head as I tried to sleep.

    After church, we always had a big dinner, and Father always took a nap after that. The table was silent, except for my father’s saying grace, and thanking the Lord for such a good wife.

    “Take care of your mother,” echoed through my head all through dinner.

    No one said happy birthday to me that day, and I didn’t much care. To be born of such a union, between such a passive woman and such an abusive man hardly seemed cause for celebration.

    But I had a plan. I got a screwdriver from Father’s toolkit. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of this before. It was as if God gave me the clue when Father’s lie left his mouth after church.

    When Father awoke, I invited him to the basement, to help me figure out what was wrong with the elaborate electric train set-up I’d begun assembling when I was five.

    He complained that at sixteen I ought to be able to reason these things out myself. I apologized for being stupid.

    And he started down the stairs. We always made sure that he, as the leader of the family, went first wherever we went.

    Wheezing from sixty years of two packs a day, he took the handrail and rested a few steps down.

    And I pushed him. The handrail came off the wall, and I watched him roll down the stairs. His head made a satisfying thunk as it hit the concrete floor.

    I moved slowly down the stairs, sure he would leap up and try to kill me.

    “Are you okay?” Mother shouted from the kitchen.

    I shouted back, “Dad just fell down the stairs. We’re fine!”

    And we were fine. And I made a note to myself to fix the railing. I didn’t want Mother to hurt herself the next time she did laundry.

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    1. Poetic justice. And I've been rereading all of Pat Conroy's stuff last few weeks. You're giving him a run for his money.

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    2. You're very kind. The Great Santini always holds a special place in my heart.

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    3. Wow. So powerful, and you circled around to the ending so well. I thought of Conroy's stories while I read this.

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    4. Yeah, a satisfying ending to a painful tale.

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  5. Ron awoke in darkness from a deep sleep. The kind of depth that he hadn't experienced in a long time. He was disoriented, and confused. A wave of anxiety came over him as he found himself in unfamiliar territory, unable to move or see his surroundings. He had decided there was only one way to answer the question that was burning in his mind—Where am I?! “HELP.” He exclaimed. “HELP.”, he repeated, over and over. Not in a panic, or speaking to anyone in particular, but with the expectation of a reply, from anyone. “I'm coming.” I shouted up from the basement as I stumbled in the darkness to find the stairs. The moment he heard my voice, it came rushing back to him as he thought to himself, “Oh yeah, I'm home.” “Never mind, T, I'm good.” “Well, too late now, damn you, I'm up.” I ascended the stairs and sat next to him. “What's up?” He answered, “Oh, nothing. I just woke up and forgot where I was.” We both laughed for a minute and continued to talk for an hour or more.
    It was only his second night home after six months in the hospital. A car accident had rendered him wheelchair bound, and while in the hospital he went blind.
    I'd been remodeling his house for a couple of weeks in anticipation of his release. He's got a long road ahead of him, but he's in the right frame of mind, and on the right path.
    I stuck around for a couple more weeks, finishing what I had started and helping him transition to a life devoid of sight and limited mobility. I helped pick out a proper wheelchair and started him on a regiment of exercise to reverse the atrophy in his upper body.
    A friend in need is a call I'll heed.
    ~JT still writes non-fiction.

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    1. And I'm glad you do. And I bet your buddy is happy to know you. And I'm happy and proud to have you grace our presence again, ya fucking slacker! ;)

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    2. hahaha Yes, I have been slackin. I've been a busy guy. He is a great friend of mine, all the way back to high school. Shit, his dad was my bus driver and history teacher!

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    3. You work way too hard to ever be called a slacker. Hooligan. ;)

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    4. You're a good man. Some of us write our lives in words, and some--like you--write in actions.

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    5. Terrific. Doing the right thing just because it's right!

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  6. Snowflake

    The sky was metallic gray, and the wind blew cold. He was a fool to be hiking in this weather, but being a fool was what he was best at.

    He hiked when he needed alone time. The wounds from the fight with his brother this morning were still fresh.

    “You’re one of those liberal snowflakes. If Daddy was still alive, he’d disown you. Right after he kicked your ass.”

    He’d left his brother’s house soon after that, apologizing to his sister-in-law. And he didn’t expect he’d be going back anytime soon.

    Was he a snowflake? Would he melt at the first sign of trouble? He didn’t think so. But he wasn’t a fan of violence either. He knew if everyone gave a little, they’d all get along.

    Maybe he gave too much. Maybe that’s why his brother felt it was okay to insult him. Maybe his brother thought there’d be no consequences.

    The sky grew darker. The temperature was dropping.

    The fight had begun over the kids separated from their parents at the border. Hell, you’d think his brother would identify with that, having three kids of his own. But no.

    “It’s a scam. Kids aren’t even coming with their own parents. Their parents sold ‘em as tickets for the killers and rapists to get in.”

    He’d bitten his tongue. At least for a while. When the tirade got to faggots and whores, he’d simply said, “That’s enough.”

    And that earned him the label of snowflake.

    He stopped walking, and looked at the sky. Big fluffy flakes were coming down now, mixed with sleet that hit and hurt his face.
    Snowflakes. Little six-sided crystals of water. Soft. Unique. Lovely.

    Get enough of them together and…

    “Snowflakes?” he laughed. “I am a snowflake, and in large enough numbers, we’ll make an avalanche that will wipe injustice away,” he told himself. “And by God, we’ll be beautiful while we do it.”

    The snowflake turned around and walked back to the trailhead, with the south wind pushing him into his destiny.

    He did not melt.

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    1. That first line...man pulls you in and doesn't let go!

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    2. Yeah, avalanches and blizzards. "Snowflake" is truly one of the dumbest of insults. And isn't it great that we can use fiction to drive this point home? (And that you do it so well?)

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    3. Agreed. And snowflake is truly an idiotic insult. So many families are living this right now.

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  7. She touched him in a way that he had never been touched before. The truest and purest feeling of love raced through his body at the mere nearness of her next to him.

    This cannot be happening, not now, not ever. He had to stop this!

    His mind raced with thoughts of runnIng and getting as far away as possible from this foreign feeling, this too-good-to-be-true feeling.

    Damn her!

    Why the fuck was the universe doing this? He was done with the bullshit of relationships. How the hell could he fall prey again to this?

    Without warning, she kissed him gently on the lips and the world ceased to exist. Time stood still. His guard came down. And all at once, his heart melted into a puddle of possibilities.

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    1. ohhhh... that last line... "his heart melted into a puddle of possibilities." If you're going to make this a longer piece, that would be an awesome title!

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    2. Thank you Leland. I’m dabbling again after a long time away from writing. I’m toying with this as a longer piece.

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    3. I’m glad you’re writing again!

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    4. The mystery of love never gets old.

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    5. Yup. I think we can all identify with this one. And I think it would work well as a longer piece, FWIW.

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  8. I'll get reading and comments done on the above posts - off to a poetry reading here in town :) In the meantime, step back into a moment of summer...

    Rooftop Summit, Conversations with Gaia

    The boy appears on the redwood balcony,
    boards hot under his bare feet.
    Stretches one leg on a wrought iron railing,
    leans his teenage body over the open space,
    gravel-covered ground twenty feet below.

    Without a glance,
    he flexes forward, leaps
    to the garage roof’s gentle slope.
    Rough brown shingles capture and store
    the sun’s boiling lassitude.

    Contact burns sting the youth,
    he hisses as he quick-steps
    to a worn blue blanket
    stretched out,
    mirroring the blue sky above.

    Aboard the insulated barrier,
    heat fades from his soles.
    He reclines, warmth below, warmth above,
    gazes upon the ocean of trees
    spread out across the valley.

    Languid hand stretches out, flicks a switch,
    eighties-style boombox comes to life,
    rock anthem exhorts him,
    Turn Up the Radio
    So he does.

    No neighbors for miles,
    nobody to complain
    about the music being too loud.
    The music is never too loud,
    it sounds just right at eleven.

    He strips to a pair of ragged gym shorts,
    defiantly unconcerned about sunburn.
    Cocoons himself
    in the blazing yellow sound of summer
    and the soundtrack of life.


    Work is hours away.
    Chores are tomorrow.
    School is on the other end of summer,
    graduation somewhere past that.
    Adulthood is a hazy mirage that doesn’t exist

    He lays on the warm roof,
    Lets the music wash over him
    Zen
    in the moment of now.
    Striving against nothing.

    Brown hair dances with distant treetops,
    bending before the prairie wind.
    He dreams of being nowhere but here,
    in this moment, he is alive.
    The world, a June rooftop beneath his bare feet.

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    1. I love this more than I can say...you took me back to summers long ago

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    2. No Kidding! I was right there, too! Radio blasting, frying my red-headed hide!

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    3. Yeah, this captures it so well.

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    4. I agree with everybody. You captured a moment too many of us forget. Freedom.

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  9. Part 1

    Becky can’t speak much Spanish, but she knows the language of payday. She knows when it’s five o’clock on Thursday, at least during the growing season, because that’s when the men in the red T-shirts pile in to cash their checks and buy groceries. Some of her coworkers complain that they’re loud and stink of sweat and the fields, but Becky smiles just seeing them in the parking lot, tumbling out of a series of yellow buses. She thinks they’re cute—well, some of them—and they’re always friendly to her and very polite.

    She has her eye on the last worker in line at the check-cashing counter. The other men call him Pablo. It’s only his third week. Even though the rest of the men are laughing and joking around, Pablo doesn’t speak. Last Thursday, he came to her register, unloaded his items as if they were treasure, counting on his fingers and pursing his lips when he realized he was one bottle of Pepsi over the express line limit.

    “No problema,” she said, and checked him through. His smile so gentle, his eyes so sweet, his relief showing like a word balloon over his head before he plucked up his bags, mouthing “gracias, gracias” as he high-tailed it for the bus.

    “Hey, is this the express line or what?”

    A flush runs up Becky’s cheeks when she realizes she’s been ignoring her customer.

    “Sorry.” She hustles items over the scanner.

    “Can’t you do something about that?”

    “I’m sorry, what?”

    The woman, bone thin with a bad dye job and overplucked eyebrows, waves a hand toward the men at the counter. “I don’t know, like not letting them in all at once, or something?”

    “They’re just cashing their checks,” Becky says.

    “And I wanted to buy my Camels. Now I have to wait.”

    “I can get them for you, if you like.”

    The woman sniffs. “Hello? Express lane? Then you’ll be making everybody else wait and they’ll be looking at me like I’m the bad guy.” She turns to the six customers behind her. “All of you mind waiting while Becky here gets my cigs?”

    Nobody makes a peep. The third customer in line turns to the fourth, and they share an eyeroll.

    “It’s no trouble, ma’am, and it won’t take very long. Or I can ask someone else to—”

    “Forget it,” the woman says. “I’m running late. Just ring me up.”

    Becky catches Dave the supervisor out of the corner of her eye, already warming up his unhappy-customer smile. “Is there a problem here?”

    “You should open more registers.” The woman stares pointedly at the line of men.

    “I’m sorry you had to wait, I can offer you a coupon for twenty percent off your—”

    She’s still watching the men. Becky wonders if she’s aware that her hand has tightened around her pocketbook. “Are they even legal?”

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  10. Part 2


    Becky’s neck muscles stiffen. She can’t even get the first word, the first thought out before the woman, eyes narrowed, marches over to the check-cashing line.

    “You don’t belong here,” she shouts. “Lemme see some ID.”

    Pablo bolts for the door.

    “Watch my register,” Becky says to Dave. “Please?” She runs after him. Finds him huddled in the last seat in the last bus.

    His Spanish is rapid and she thinks she hears the words for “family” and “work” and he looks like he’s trying not to cry.

    “I don’t understand.” She eases toward him. “No hablo...that fast. Pablo... How can I help you? Is there someone I can call?” She wracks her brain for the words. Telefono, she knows. Then she remembers from some long-ago high school Spanish class: “¿Puedo ayudar?”

    He stops talking. And looks up. His eyes. So sweet. He pulls a worn wallet from his jeans. Shows an identification card, next to a picture of two small girls. She’s seen papers like that before. All the migrant workers have them. It says he’s here legally.

    She looks at him, puzzled. “You’re legal, you’re here to work on the farms. Why didn’t you just—?” Of course. He must have heard the threats. “Here.” She pulls a pad and pen from her apron. “What do you want?”

    “¿Que?”

    “Food. Groceries. Comida. Tu quieres...? Tell me. Yo quiero...to buy it for you. And I’ll get you”—she pointed to his paycheck—“dinero. Until next week.”

    When she had him all squared away, Becky returned to her register. “Thank you,” she told Dave. “Did that customer get her cigarettes?”

    “No, and she won’t be a customer anymore. At least not here.”

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    1. A beautiful reminder that there are good people in the world. I needed this story, today and every day for a while. Thank you.

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    2. It never ceases to amaze me how often the stories here are themed. I know it isn't on purpose, but it shows that weird collective unconscious that can develop between likeminded people, and how endlessly creative it can be. And yes, I needed this perspective too.

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    3. I see these guys on Thursdays at the market, and I feel an odd protectiveness for them. Especially when I see some of the customers looking at them with such hatred and fear. It makes me so sad.

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    4. This is a beautiful slice of empathy. And the description is balanced with the narrative so well. Felt like I was there.

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  11. It’s not something you can measure with a ruler or a thermometer. It’s not about numbers. But somehow, you know.

    You can feel it. Something dark is trying to suck the life out of the universe. Maybe not all life, but at least this life, the one lying next to you.

    You put your arm around her, trying to feed some of your strength to her through her too hot skin. You will her temperature to drop, for her blood cells to fight whatever demons she is fighting.

    You pray, though you’re not much for prayer. You figure God is used to desperate prayers and you hope He'll forgive you and listen to you, just this time. You’ll never ask for another favor, you promise. And you figure God is used to broken promises, too.

    She is young. She is beautiful; too beautiful to have to endure this. They don’t even know what this is. A virus, maybe. Maybe.

    You whisper encouraging words, hoping her sleeping brain can hear them, can here your sincerity, can will her body into battle.

    At last exhaustion overwhelms you and you fall into sleep, into dreams of young girls running through meadows, young girls graduating from high school, from college.

    When you awake, her skin is cool. You first fear that she somehow slipped away while you slept. You feel her neck for a pulse, and you find one.

    You breathe. You look at the ceiling, and you say thank you to a God you figure doesn’t hear enough thank yous.

    And when you look back down at her face, her angelic face, her eyes flutter open, and she looks at you, and she says one word.

    "Papa."

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  12. Part 1
    ______

    He read the note by the side of the road, right after he got punted by the irate trucker.

    Handwritten, it said this:

    Boo,

    I love you an all. I cain't always be mad atcha. But you get fuckin right with your ownself or with God or maybe both. Then y'all can think about comin home and bein with me.

    Your trusty girl,

    Francelle Elesha Metcalf

    Even before the trucker picked him up, he'd found it folded in the small pocket inside his flight jacket where he often kept a baggie of something, but he'd never read it till now.

    "Fuck that trucker," he said, and then he almost laughed at the sound of the words. The brazen poetry of them.

    "Fuck Francelle Elesha Metcalf." Words that felt a notch or three less funny, less poetic. She'd signed her whole name and taken time with the script, and something about that made him feel quite shameful.

    By a stand of spindly trees, he tuned out his thoughts by listening to the interstate traffic, each approach of a laden semi-trailer some great breaking wave, an ex-surfer's fitful pipe dream. Yeah, he'd surfed awhile, at Ocean Beach, back before things had gotten murky as sequoia light at dusk. Ruby and gold, sapphire and emerald. Before it all went gray, like so many flavors of beach taffy chewed too long.

    He'd made it a long way from the ocean by now, past Sacramento even, but this was a big place.

    Golden state, they called it, if that was where he was still. Not so golden now, though, right? Lots of reasons for pain but many more ways to buffer that pain. He figured skirting closer to his roots, partly east and vaguely south, might could cure him. Tease out his Southern truculence, slap him upside his dumbass head, wake him back to the world.

    Kickstart the process.

    This stretch of interstate wasn't as busy as some, and he thought he could get away with hiking the shoulder. Fall was waiting all around, free of trust and dark with thieves. Before he set out again, he listened to the leaves in the aspens or whatever the fuck kind of branches shimmered and flashed against workshirt skies here. Heard birds he couldn't name. Squawks and whoops, hollow and distinct.

    Tried not to think about much.

    When that proved hard, he pulled out a pocketknife and dug into the quick of his thumbnail. The pain was bright as a sun flash and warm too.

    Then he headed sorta east and kinda south.

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  13. Part 2
    ______

    The cop meant business or worse, he could tell. Moment the trooper clocked him, there was no doubt he'd be pulling alongside in his two-tone Dodge Charger to make his already shitty life a tiny bit worse.

    "What you doin' on the interstate, boy?" Pudgy and bald, another cliché.

    "Nothin' much."

    "That ain't no answer. I'll ask you agin."

    "Sir, I'm walking so's I can find a place to git offa this highway, swear to god."

    "You got a long walk, and none of it legal."

    "And I do apologize for that, officer."

    The cop squinted at him. Raised his sunglasses to his absent hairline.

    "Boy, you Mexican or something?"

    "I ain't Mexican."

    "But somethin', am I right?"

    "I'm an American."

    "You got ID?"

    "Not on me."

    "Then we got ourselves a problem, don't we, cholo?"

    "Not if you decide to be decent. Sir."

    "The fuck you just say?"

    "I think you heard me."

    "Get on the fuckin ground!"

    "You made your decision, I take it."

    "On the motherfucking ground!"

    He lay prone and tried to ignore the jackhammer in his chest. Officer PastyFace McBigot cuffed him tight as he could, but he ignored the pain.

    "I'd wager something, officer."

    "Shut the fuck up."

    "No, I won't. I'm done shutting up. I'd wager my life on this. That you would never have acted this way before that pitiful senile prick lucked into power."

    "Then you'd lose your life, Pablo. Or Alvaro. Or Fucko. Whatever. I ain't changed a damn thing. Don't matter to me who parks their fat ass in that crumbling hovel in DC, pendejo, a place that means the exact sum of nada to me. I've hated you people all my life. I'd be doing this if the Dalai Mother Lama of Cal-fucking-cutta was running our sorry nation. I hate you fucks, and I've always hated you fucks. You'll never get that, it seems. And now you won't get it again, cabrón, because…"

    "Sir? No. Please…"

    Out of nowhere, he couldn't recall seeing a plane in that dry implacable sky for days. Had things crumbled this much?

    Another sharp gunshot startled a cluster of nameless birds, and no one else even flinched.

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    1. Dark and fear-inspiring, and filled with shades of darkness that only you can paint. Some of the lines that just made pause in awe:
      "...murky as sequoia light at dusk. Ruby and gold, sapphire and emerald. Before it all went gray, like so many flavors of beach taffy chewed too long."

      "...workshirt skies here."

      "...he couldn't recall seeing a plane in that dry implacable sky for days."

      Just beautiful.


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    2. and no one else even flinched. Well. I sure as hell did.Well done. Devastating. But well done!

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    3. Chilling and all-too-imaginable. Yes, I flinched, too.

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    4. This is epic. You're lucky I like you or I would be sorely tempted to steal workshirt skies. Brilliant images. Tragic truths.

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    5. You are all kind people! I'm glad "workshirt skies" worked for you, Dan and Leland; I honestly debated that one. (I flinched too. I wouldn't want to live in a world where no one did.)

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  14. "If we're going to grow the economy, we need cheaper labor and more consumers," the man in the blue tie said.

    "If were going to grow the power, we need me in office, and I can’t let those filthy immigrants in," the man in the red tie said. "The voters hate them. They’re very bad people."

    "The immigrants or the voters?"

    Red tie man scowled. "Come up with a different plan."

    "I guess we could come up with some kind of gladiator games. Carnage always appeals to a certain part of the populace."

    "Now you’re thinking outside the box. That’s a beautiful idea. We could bill it as a reality show. Dems vs. Republicans, and of course, we know who would win. And think of the ad revenue!"

    "Legalized brothels might work. Maybe use some of the prisoners we’ve taken in. Offer them a shorter sentence for the time they, uh, 'work' there."

    "Good, good, we could televise that. Late night viewing, of course."

    "Maybe even use the wives of some of your political opponents, like they did in Roman times..."

    "Nah, we need good lookers. Have you seen those Senators' wives? What else, what else? Hannity's almost on."

    "Maybe bring back the death penalty for more crimes, and offer tickets for a lottery for who gets to flip the switch?"

    "Now you’re talkin'. Big bucks for the lottery, and the cost savings of keeping prisoners alive. I’ll need to run it by the corporate sponsors, but I like it. Okay, write those up, get 'em to Mitch before they go on another damned recess."

    The House and The Senate passed the bill without even reading it, and of course the President signed it.

    The lottery ticket prices were based on the severity of the crime. The biggest moneymakers were for those accused of treason.

    The red tie was exactly the same color as his blood. It wasn’t blue after all.

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    1. Yikes. I love this. And fear that it will come true.

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    2. Yup. Laurie took the words out of my mouth. Power.

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  15. The day was relentless.

    It wasn’t the pace of life, it was more the weight of the events and the lack of time to compose herself between them. If she’d been a boxer, she would have said she’d been hit too hard and too often, her assailant giving her no chance to hit back or make any impression on him, standing tall over her, dominating her with his presence. And Life was a man, she was sure of that. No woman could be as implacable or as merciless the opponent she was facing.

    Her doctor was a man too. And the consultant he’d sent her to the city to see. In fact, they’d all been men; men with apologetic smiles and low voices, their diagnoses couched in jargon that disguised the significance of their meaning, none of them understanding the truths behind their words.

    A simple procedure. Only a couple of hours in surgery and you’ll be free again, the percentages very much in your favour for a woman of your age.

    But nothing about the loss she’d feel after. Nothing about the thought that her life had been made void, her presence in history of the world no more than a blip or an afterthought, a forgotten moment in humanity that would fizzle and then die. Because it was like a death, for her. She could see them all already, her children, their faces unformed, almost without gender. There would have been a boy – she knew she’d have one – his face chubby and his hair never tidy. He’d have been a trial to her, always quick with his tongue and his fists, but she’d have loved him just the same, hoping he’d reform his way and become the man she’d wished his father had been. She’d have had a girl too, a blend of both her and her mother, growing up tall and slim and achieving everything she’d always hoped of doing herself: a professional woman with the influence to improve the world around her, repaying all the favours she’d received but with interest. But they were both dead now, buried without a trace, never having had the opportunity to fulfil their potential. Those men would never think of that, they would never nurse a child or bring it screaming into this world and now, neither would she, denied of her birthright as a woman.

    It was that which she’d grieve, the loss of her potential. There could never be any others who'd replace her unborn children.

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    1. I know someone who experienced this exact thing. You crushed this one. Not overly sentimental. Rings exactly true.

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