Friday, November 2, 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 want you to be doing your homework."

She looks at you with those wide, hopeful eyes. 

You want to be doing your homework, too, but it's fucking stupid. 

You don't say it, though. You think it and then think take that and then you go into your room and listen to Jello Biafra. On headphones. You're still a little high, and he's inside of your brain. And, goddamn, everyone is so annoying. Every thing. Every thing sits in your skull like dead vermin.
You lock the door to your room and pull a cigarette out of your pack, and you feel like a real man would light it, but you don't. You put it in your mouth and it tastes good. You play with the lighter and burn your hand. 

Eh. One more scar. 

Don't get you wrong. It hurts like a bitch. But, you know. Whatever. 

There's a few sips left in your whiskey bottle. It's hidden in the back of the closet. A few sips is enough, really. Plenty. And then a glass of wine because no one will ever be able to tell. No one knows how much wine there is. There could be infinity wine. 

Doesn't matter. 

It's like when you're stoned. Kory's house. Speakers in every corner, and it sounds like the fucking apocalypse. And you close your eyes and pretend you're El Jefe and you could ever play guitar like that. But it sounds right. Feels right. 

Band practice starts soon. God, you'd think a band that practices so much would be really good. But whatever. It's loud. Fucking super loud. And every once in a while, there is a moment of brilliant synchronicity. 

The other guys in the band get mad when you get high before practice, but they don't get that mad. So, you plug in your guitar and turn it as loud as it will go and you just start killing it. It's not even tuned, but it doesn't matter. It's so loud. It is truth and vindication.

No one knew where the whole thing was headed. What it would seem like in twenty years. And in most ways, it turned out pretty well. But there's always going to be a part of you that can't bring himself to leave the garage because what happened in there was at least honest. 

Ugly. But honest.  

#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. Needless to say, I loved this, brother. I also dreamed about Jello Biafra just the other day. In my dream, he was in Black Flag not the Dead Kennedys. Weird. I love how punk nostalgia is always tarnished. Oh, and R&B. ;)

    (You should write a punk rock memoir called Leaving the Garage.)

    1. I love it, and I love the last line most of all.

    2. Yes! I could relate to it too. Ugly. But honest. LOL! (I want that on a T-shirt now.)

    3. Infinity wine. I love it. I can relate to this, growing up with musician brothers. Really love that last line.

  2. “These dangers arrive quickly, just like death” — Marina Abramovic

    Loss is a thing that once strayed and now lurches haltingly westward. It shuns its own footprints, ignores the dry dirty blizzard of its shedding skin, stifles with a great grey trembling paw its own desolate cries.

    Don’t ever ignore what we were: combatants, companions. Custodians of conundrums. Siblings of stealth. Cryptic co-sponsors in a game without rules. Comrades. Compañeros.

    The blue velvet night, the aquarium night, draws itself back for the raw abraded morning. Infected. Throbbing. Pulsing with ill-health. Gauze in a motel window still as a shroud, something lurking and medical.

    The dawning truth of last night’s Chinese food scattered like a crime scene: sickly cardboard, spilled noodles, the scarlet provocation of congealed sweet-sour sauce, that fortune cookie message I thought I tossed in the trash. “Something bad is headed your way.” You ever see a fortune like that before? Yeah, me either.

    The day struggles to wake, and off to the west gaunt towers of fine steel bone blink red for the airplanes like hangovers. Things no longer welcomed but necessary.

    Me. You. Boy. Girl. Mojave jawline, Death Valley confluence.

    Trucks pass on the interstate, senseless and tidal.

    Why’d you leave? Who was the last to breathe? Why can’t I erase the name Melanie even from my dreams?

    Fragments of words catch on the sodium lights, flame out, fall, all your breathless, dismal confessionals. Every confab obliterated, refashioned. I can fake amnesia better than anyone. Fake it until it’s real, so I never have to see the arc of a hunting knife flinging a bloodmist, can never hear the ragged shriek of someone who manages to track, to apprehend, without ever intending to, the lurker now wearing their own dreadful face.

    Those ominous, luminous words: “Don’t leave me.” About as terrible as any three words could be.

    Deathly. Dancin’ with the ones that brung us. Let me walk you out soon. Come close and say it. What are the ardent things within us that cleave so hard to all this?

    Later that evening, I hear a girl singing, comin’ around the corner. I mean barely singing. Tracing the edge of some abandoned tune while the sun skulks lower in a cardiac sky. All those reds returning to blue, the lowered pulse of the industrial night, the ceaseless, remorseless turn of the earth.

    Right when I think I’ll see her, the world blinks like a giant eye, and I don’t see her.

    I don’t ever see her.

    1. The desolation in this is complete and deep. The alliteration, the careful choices of words, they all combine to act like a cat, pushing the reader closer and closer to the edge, and then gently pushing him off. Astonishingly well written, my friend.

    2. Thanks, my friend. This is possibly the saddest thing I ever wrote. You can see all my influences in it, yet I feel it has my own voice, so I was very happy with it (if you can use the word "happy" toward such a sorrowful piece).

    3. Woah. I totally agree with Leland and was going to say pretty much the same thing. Too many brilliant lines to highlight. The spare prose works so well to complete the feeling of loss.

  3. Part 1:

    If you put your ear to the door of the tiny alpine cabin on this full moon night, you would hear two voices, one male and one female, in a spirited discussion of philosophy. If you listen long enough, you would recognize that one voice is the teacher and one is the taught.

    If you look through the frosty window, you would see two shadowy figures, lit only by the fire in a small wood stove. You would rub your eyes as you realize that one silhouette is that of a young human and the other is a dog.

    The human is male, judging from the sound of his voice. The dog is female, judging from the sound of her voice; patient, firm, and speaking perfect English.

    “Do you believe, then, that right and wrong are mutually exclusive? No gray area in between?” she asked.

    The young man nods vehemently. “They must be. All of justice is based on right and wrong.”

    “Let us conduct a thought experiment. You would say that the taking of a life... let us say a human life, as you are a human... is wrong?”

    “Of course.”

    “Let us say you could travel through time. To April, 1889. You are in a small town in what is now Austria. There is a just-born child in front of you. You have any number of ways to kill the child, there is a knife in the kitchen, you could wring its neck, you could throw it from the window. Would it be wrong to kill this child?”

    “Of course! Only a monster would kill a child.”

  4. Part 2:

    “What if I were to tell you the young child’s first name was Adolphus, and its surname Hitler. A child who would grow up to cause the death of millions? Would it still be wrong?”

    “As a time traveler, I would know this?”

    “It is a thought experiment, so yes, we posit that you would retain your memories of your history lessons.”

    The young man hesitates, then asks, “It would be the case of the good of the many outweighing the good of the one?”

    “Would it? Or would your declaration that killing is always wrong still be true?”

    “Perhaps I could influence the child. Help him develop a conscience, some tolerance, maybe even kindness.”

    “Very well, perhaps. So you return to the present day, after you have accomplished what his own parents were unable to. But the history books still show that the invasion or Poland and the Holocaust occurred. So you realize you have failed. You go back to visit him again, this time to 1907, Vienna, or Wien, as it is known in German. You find that he is attempting to enter the Academy or Fine Arts. The means to kill him will be more complicated now. He is older, just about your age in fact. Is it right or wrong to kill him?”

    Again the young man hesitates. “To kill an artist? That’s like killing part of a culture’s soul...”

    “A young man who has mediocre skills, and who will cause more deaths than any human being in history...”

    “It would still be wrong. Was he accepted into the Academy?”


    “What happened to him?”

    “He was for all intents and purposes, homeless. His mother died of breast cancer. His father had died sometime before.”

    “Then I would help him get accepted. Give him money, perhaps. Surely that would remove some of his bitterness.”

    “Very well. You perform these acts of charity, though I am not certain how you, who speak only English, and that not altogether fluently, might accomplish this. You return again to present day and still the history books have not changed. Still more than six million Jews, Roma, homosexuals, and others were slaughtered. You are given one last chance to go back in the past, and being the moral sort you are, you take it. This time, you find yourself in 1920. World War I has ended, a war in which Hitler was decorated for bravery. He has left the army, and is now associating with the political party that will become the National Socialist German Workers Party — the Nazis — and has even designed their logo, a swastika in a white circle on a red background. You are with him in a beer hall, and you realize it will be very difficult to kill him now. He is a trained soldier, and others in the beer hall are watching him. But you have brought a small dose of poison. You know that he is within a year of being elected the head of the party, and from there will rise through the ranks of the German government. Now will you kill him?”

    The young man is looking everywhere but at his instructor. “I... I don’t know. I’ve never killed...”

    “So you would allow World War II and all its atrocities to occur...”

    Now he looked her in the eye. “No. I would do it. I would drop the poison capsule into his beer.”

    “Because it is the right thing to do?”

    “Because I’d never be able to look at myself in the mirror knowing I could have stopped him.”

    “And so, having poisoned him, you return to your own time and...”

    “Did I prevent it?”

    “...and there is no mention of a second world war in the history books. But you notice other changes. The buildings are not as tall. Technology is not as far along as it was when you left. There is no television. There are fewer cars than you remember. And there is only one American political party...”

    1. Dang. Cool twist on a classic question and an interesting examination of utilitarianism IRL. I love the way this builds, too.

  5. And part 3:

    “Wait! I killed him to make things better!”

    “Was it right or wrong that you killed him?”

    “I... I don’t know. You’re the teacher. What should I have done?”

    “I don’t know either. But our thought experiment was not to determine what you should have done. Rather, it was to determine if right and wrong are always absolute. What would you conclude from our experiment?”

    “I believe... we proved that there may be extenuating...”

    “We proved that things may or may not be only right or only wrong. There may, in fact, be something in between the two. Alternatively, we may assume that sometimes acts considered wrong may result in right, in good outcomes. And conversely, we may assume that sometimes actions considered right may lead to wrong consequences.”

    The boy was silent.

    “I believe that is enough for today. You may put another log on the fire, and we shall begin again tomorrow.”

    1. I was with you for every single word, intrigued. The idea of unintended consequences is a chilling one. This dog is smart. :)

    2. I'm playing with an idea for a book... a kind of sneaky way to make people think about philosophy and such... we'll see if something comes of it.

  6. Jennie Walters always dresses her best when it’s time to vote. She’s doing her civic responsibility, an effort of extreme importance. She’s never missed an election, and she’s never even tried to shirk her way out of jury duty, like some she knows, like even her own husband, God rest his soul. “This is a representative democracy,” she tells anyone who will listen, “and I aim to represent my own part in it whenever I’’m given the chance.”

    But she had some trouble convincing her grandchildren. They’d just sit and roll their eyes when Jennie went on about voting. “People around the world have fought and died for this right,” she’d say, standing between them and the television. “Don’t you ever go taking that for granted.”

    Her grandson, Spencer, could never be reasoned with—he had far too much of his mother in him—but her granddaughter, Deidre, shortly after her eighteenth birthday, was so proud to show Jennie her sticker proclaiming that she’d voted. They’d been voting buddies ever since. They made it special. They’d go to the firehouse together, stand in line, check in with the volunteers—half of whom Jennie had known since childhood—and then celebrate afterward. She’d make a fancy dinner until she could no longer manage so well in the kitchen. Deidre took over the honors at that point, first in Jennie’s house and then, when she moved out and got married, in her own. They didn’t get to vote together anymore, as Deidre lived in a different district, but there was always a celebration afterward. Year after year after year, even when Deidre had children of her own and moved to a bigger house in the next county. And even then, they’d all get together, and Jennie would tell stories about the first time she voted, and who got elected, and how even one person’s vote could make all the difference.

    But then Deidre moved up north for a new job, a wonderful opportunity. That took some adjustment, and Jennie was happy for her granddaughter, but she felt terribly sad on Election Days. Even though they chatted on the computer thingie, it wasn’t even close to all of them being together.

    This November she felt even worse. A fall had left her laid up temporarily, and Jennie didn’t even know if she could get out of the house to go vote.

    “Get an absentee ballot, Grandmama,” Deidre said over the phone. “It’s easy. Lots of people do it.”

    “That ‘lots of people’ is not going to be me! I am going to that firehouse if I have to call a fireman and have him carry me there.”

    There was a long silence on the line. “Grandmama. You don’t have anyone there taking care of you? What happened to that nurse’s aide?”

    “Pfft. She doesn’t even believe in voting, can you just imagine?”

    “You get that ballot,” Deidre said.

    Jennie promised she would, but it was all so confusing. First she had to get to the right website, then find a form to even apply for a ballot, then wait to get the ballot, then mail that in…how could she trust all those people? What if her vote didn’t get counted because she was not there to see it? She wasn’t too proud to admit that she cried a little while sitting at that computer in her wheelchair. But it didn’t sit easily on her that this would be the first election year in which she wouldn’t vote.

    In fact on the big day, she didn’t bother getting out of bed until close to noon. She didn’t even look at the television while she got herself together. Just played some old music and wheeled herself to and fro doing this and that. When the computer thingie rang, she knew it would be Deidre, and she doubted she’d have the strength to talk to her without crying.
    But she didn’t want to worry her, so she answered, to find two beautiful great-grandbaby faces grinning at her and waving. “Hi, Grandnonna!” they both yelled, giggling like they had a secret.

    And then the doorbell rang. In walked Deidre, beautiful in her best dress, and behind her… Spencer. All decked out in a suit and a tie.

    “Put your hat on, Grandmama,” Deidre said. “I know you didn’t get that absentee ballot. So we’ve come to help you vote.”

    1. That is beautiful and awesome and a brilliant public service announcement, all in one.

    2. Aw, I got a tear at the end there. Democracy is precious and sadly fragile. Also, what Leland said. :)

    3. Yes. Love this. I thought it was going another direction and you and I were gonna have words. ;)

  7. She wrote him a letter, doing it the old way. She used a fountain pen she’d filled with ink, dotting each of the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s, knowing how long it would take. She took her time, writing out her words for him to read, knowing how much he would treasure these pages, his eyes skimming over them and then back again, dissecting each word numerous times, trying to decrypt her innermost thoughts while gauging the angularity of the strokes she’d used. He would take as long in the reading as she was taking here now, sitting in her room, scratching ink onto her page.

    1. Beautiful... there is something about a letter written in fountain pen... I still use mine occasionally, but I am afraid it reveals too much of what I'm thinking.

  8. It revealed more than it hid, but it never showed enough. That was always what I thought when she wore it. She knew how well it worked though: she'd have worn it everywhere if she could. I can only imagine what a stir she would have made in the town if she'd arrived there, dressed lightly, her grin illuminating the face of every man she met.

  9. The tumbler fell from the woman’s hand, hitting the floor with a thud. It rolled beneath the couch and then lay there.

    Felicity heard the noise and wandered into the study, her tail held high. She was curious – as her species inevitably were. A quick sniff of the fireside rug revealed nothing to hold her interest. Sofia - the human - had always been meticulously tidy until recently, and although there were sometimes a few items that caught her attention, they were still rare enough for her not to expect them. There were usually better prospects to be found in the kitchen.

    But there was still an urgent need for her to investigate each corner of the room. It was a matter of honour. She was a cat.

    Prolonged foraging revealed a few treats. The couch was more fruitful than it had ever been, giving up several of the salted potato treats she enjoyed. There were also a few of those peanuts which had caused her problems before, but so long as she didn’t swallow them they were safe, providing her with a few minutes of play if she pretended they were mice. A miss-hit sent one of these skimming beneath the couch, and it was this that led to her squeezing underneath it and her discovering the disregarded glass.

    But such a taste it had when she licked it inside…

    She had a notion now – maybe it was time for her to confront the Doberman once again.

  10. The sun shone without heat and his sandwich was just mush. His mother’s smile was just that – a gummy façade, without emotion or even the most basic of thought.

    But he was still alive. Or at least living in an approximation of life.

    He still had the memories of before, but they were beginning to fade; it was impossible to hang onto everything, especially when his existence now denied anything had changed from after his twentieth birthday. He’d joined the air-force, he’d become a pilot, he’d been assigned to take part in New Britain’s first independent excursion into space – but his reality was doggedly fixed in a time before any of that had happened. He was an oaf with a dream and no real commitment, and he’d never even flown or been to another country. His memories of that time were as strong as they’d ever been, and each day was an endless déjà vu from his first waking breath up to when he closed his eyes each night. But he couldn’t change a thing: he was a passive spectator through it all.

    Maybe he’d died, and this was the hell fate had decided he should live though endlessly, experiencing life but without any engagement with its events.

  11. Chevrolet De Luxe

    The black sedan was slewed across the road, just beyond the bend, where it was blind.

    I knew this road, knew it the way you would when you drive it ‘most a dozen times each week, taking the upper route on the way back from the mill. The county engineers had built it that way, enforcing a single-way system, the carriageway each way narrowed down to just one lane. The road fed you onto the high road on the north-bound, outward journey, the run of the road taking you low on the way home. There was never any sweat getting it right – it was ‘most as easy as taking a pull upon a smoke.

    It was that blue Buick that pushed me off the edge and over the cliff. I first noticed it on the High Street back in Jasonville. The man with the cap on his head had just been driving, rolling along at a touch over thirty, with neither one of his hands on the wheel. He’d been quite content to let the car have its way, drifting first to the left and then over to the right again, only dropping his hand to guide it if ever it got too close to either side. He must have zig-zagged like that for more than a mile or more before I’d had enough, so I gave him a quick toot on my horn to let him know I was behind.

    Of course, Cap-man had known I was there all that time. It was a given he would, seeing as he’d little else to do, with all that lolly-gagging he was doing instead of steering. And then for a while, he drove straight again, just enough so I thought I might get by him. But, no sooner would we reach a straight-away, he’d suddenly take it on himself to weave again, slowing his car so much so that I had to stomp on my brake, so as not to lock bumpers with the ‘mother’. And then he’d do the same all over again at the next straight. And then again, at the next.

    Now, I’m a patient man. There’s few who would ever say different. But it was beginning to get late, and the sun was almost low enough we’d need lights. So, when it got so I knew there was another straight-away coming, I mashed the gas-pedal down, letting General Motors’ finest horses champ on their bits, quickly pulling up alongside Mister Cap before he took it in his head to swerve once more. But, of course, being the ‘mother’, he was, he decided to make a race of it, pushing his Buick so there was no passing him, sitting there, grinning across like ‘How do you do, neighbour,’ with no heed of the speed we were doing. We must have reached fifty-five or more before the road split away, with me being forced to head the wrong way down onto the south-bound.

    And then, as I said, there was the sedan, just sitting there out of sight round the bend. Waiting, with no mind of whoever it was holding up.

    I took the last bend at forty or more, laying down rubber so hard I thought I might strip the wheels down to the rims. I saw the sedan ahead and I baulked, pulling round hard on the wheel, swinging the tail-end about until everything blurred, then stalling the engine so I lost all control of the car.

    But when I stopped, I stopped short of the sedan, sitting ass-backwards on the road, almost facing the way I’d just come. Which would have been fine, if I could have started the engine.


    The Buick could barely move now, with its engine knocking and steam beginning to plume above its radiator. The sedan followed it about a hundred yards behind, near enough for it to provide help if required, but far enough back that an innocent might not see the connection. It was enough that they’d left me alive; they’d taken every cent I’d won from the game and much more.

    Now, I only had to remain conscious until dawn. What were the chances of that? What was the probability of me attracting help with both my hands smashed to pieces? What was the likelihood of me ever playing cards again? And what were the odds on me surviving the night?


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