Friday, December 7, 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.

The sun sits on the mountain top teasing the men below. They, who work wrapped in wool and still shiver in the frosty air while the sun smiles at them, but will not reach out to them. The men hate the sun. The sun is not aware of the men.

Snowfall and time and loneliness. These are the fences that sit in the mens' brains – they keep thoughts in until they grow stale or rancid. They keep new ideas out, forcing them into some periphery of the brain, seeping out like steam from sweat as the men toil in the frigid air.

They all came for different reasons and stayed for the same reason. There was nowhere else to go. Stuck in a hell-scape of frozen tundra and ice, the men muttered curses that reached up to the heavens and fell on deaf ears.

They go days without seeing any humans that aren’t half frozen. Any animals that aren’t half starved. It is a penance for a life lived recklessly, and the men accept it. But they will always hate the sun.

#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. OOh. You've gotten us off to a grand start, as usual. This could so easily be the intro to something bigger, though it stands alone as well. Either way, it paints a vivid picture of both the physical elements and the intangible.

    1. "penance for a life lived recklessly..." is sheer poetry... the whole thing is perfect for a chilly day, in a country with so many cold hearts.

    2. I Liked how they all come for different reasons and stayed for the same one

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  3. From accountant to thief in the space of a breath. From gentle nurse to stone-cold killer at a finger-snap. From gentle-and-wise bishop to ruthless warlock between blinks.

    Such transformations would be frightening, disturbing anywhere else. But within these walls, they were expected, welcomed, even celebrated.

    The accountant/thief rolls a couple of brightly colored dice. “Twelve,” she says.

    “Excellent,” responds the man at the head of the table.

    The nurse/fighter groans. It’s never excellent with the GM says “excellent.”

    And sure enough, the scrappy little thief has gotten the party into trouble. Again. The three of them engage in a battle of weapons, magic, and wits, and for a little while, the accountant forgets about the rumor that her department is being made redundant. The nurse pushes aside the memories of blood and grief that always seem to haunt her. The bishop lays down the burden he carries for those he ministers to.

    For a handful of hours, the rest of the world fades away as the world they’ve built together takes precedence. For an all-too-brief moment, all is right.

    1. Okay, I want to know more... you drew me in. May I ask what GM stands for?

    2. Game Master - the person who runs a roleplaying game. :)

    3. Love it! You can learn so much about people from the characters they put on. I want to know more.

    4. I Love it, too! How the escape is real-er than the reality.

    5. I should have known that... back in the day, I was a Dungeon Master... a DM... thanks for educating me!

  4. It is the smallest chapel in the funeral home, and yet, it seems enormous. The five mourners are scattered across too many rows of folding chairs.

    There are three women, impeccably dressed in black, with understated jewelry. Not one of them is crying.

    There is one young man in the front row. His eyes look anywhere but at the coffin.

    And in the last row is an older man, short gray hair and the bearing of one who has spent time in the military. His black suit is immaculate.

    The minister enters through a side door and he also avoids looking at the casket. The flag which drapes it is off kilter, but no one wants to touch it to set it right.

    The minister clears his throat and begins the litany intended for a different sort of person, one mourned without pretense. Still, the man of the cloth does an admirable job of projecting sincerity, even when he stumbles over the dearly departed’s name.

    There is none of the contemptible and contemporary “would you care to share your memories...” balderdash. The minister does exactly what he was paid to do, and after the final amens, the mortician and his assistant wheel the casket out of the room to recorded music which is both forgettable and scratchy from the many times the tape has been played.

    The young man is first to stand, and he walks to the doors at the back of the chapel, where he waits.

    One by one, the ladies in black stand and glide across ugly carpet to shake his hand. Only the last dares to speak, in a whisper. He stares coldly at her, and backs up when she tries to place a kiss upon his cheek.

    Finally, the silver-haired man faces the young man. “I’m sorry for your loss,” he says, his voice too loud for the simulated solemnity of the chapel.

    “General. I appreciate your coming.”

    “I expected there would be more people paying their respects...”

    The young man laughs. “I considered having the service in prison, so more of his friends and other family members might attend, but Mother thought that would be in bad taste.”

    The general offers no response.

    “And why are you here, General? You were as happy to see him die as anyone.”

    “I respected the office, and I never spoke a word...”

    “Against him, I know. He mistook that for loyalty. Or so he said.”

    “Don’t ever consider a career in politics, young man. Candor is not seen as a strength.”

    The young man wrinkles his nose. “Politics.”

    “Once a noble profession, now…”

    “Thanks to my father.”

    “I didn’t say that.”

    “You didn’t have to.” The young man takes a breath. “Why’d you do it?”

    The general pretends ignorance, but raises one eyebrow.

    “There’s no need to be coy, General.”

    “I took an oath, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”

    “How did you do it?”

    “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”

    “How did you kill him? The autopsy revealed no poisons, no wounds, no injuries.”

    “Coroners rarely examine the ego. I merely suggested he might resign, or the videos of him showering might be leaked.”

    “And that’s all it took?”

    “Your father was gifted in many ways, but anatomically…”

    “And that’s all it took?”

    “Well, I had to show him the video, and then he just…”

    “Keeled over.” The young man sniffs. “I suppose I should thank you. Now I can get on with my own life.”

    “I wish you well.” The general turns to leave.

    “And General, if I ever find myself running for President, I might look you up.”

    “I’ll be too old by then, son.”

    “We shall see. Have a pleasant afternoon, General.”

    The door swings shut behind the older man, and the young man pushes the stop button on the voice recorder in his pocket. “Surprisingly careless, General. So unlike you.”

    Father would have been proud.

    1. You and your twisty endings! I love everything this doesn't say and everything it does, the terseness or it, and the open-endedness.

    2. Man, this kills. I love the spare character portraits!

  5. The loss of Forty-one had brought the council together again. First, at the cathedral, where they’d exchanged appropriate pleasantries, then later, with most of their spouses otherwise engaged, at Earl’s. It seemed befitting that Forty-three make the toast, and when they were all assembled and served, they raised their glasses toward the empty chair, followed by a few moments of silence.
    Forty-four felt the weight of his absence. The loss of what he brought to the table—the wisdom, the connections. He also felt the unspoken tensions of earlier in the day. But broaching the subject so soon after the funeral…

    “Every day I pray for his soul,” Thirty-nine said, with a heavy sigh.

    “You’re a better man that I am,” Forty-three and a half added, then downed the rest of her scotch and ordered another.

    Her husband passed her a sly look. “Now, honey, you may want to slow down on those…”

    “Don’t honey me. Are you driving?”

    “Well, yeah…”

    “Then I’m drinking. Did you see Twitter? He wants to put us in jail and I’m the bitch because I didn’t smile at him. Lock this up, you orange buffoon.”

    “Hill, what’d I tell you about staying off those social media things? They never did no one no good…”

    Forty-four cleared his throat. “Come on, folks. Time’s a wasting and we need a new plan of attack.”

    “He’s right,” Forty-three said. “Got us a serious problem here and I don’t feel right as it is leaving Laura and the girls too long tonight.”

    “Then we’ll make this quick,” Forty-four said. “So here’s where we stand. Winning back the House might give us some checks on this guy, but I won’t trust that until I see it. Contacting Putin again is off the table. He’s achieved his objectives and won’t help us. Unless we can deliver Lindsay Graham in a dog harness, but I doubt he’s gonna fall for that trick twice…”

    “I’ll do it.” Everyone turned to the breathy voice with the Georgia accent.

    “Jimmy…” Forty-three and a half laid a hand on his forearm.

    “No, please. I sat in that cathedral today hearing about doing good for the world. Yes, we certainly had our disagreements when it came to governing, but I believe we’re here to help each other and to do God’s work. I know my time is next and I want to make what little I have left count for something.”

    Forty-three sat taller. “Can’t let you do that, Thirty-nine. Wouldn’t be prudent to let that be your legacy.”

    Forty-four narrowed his eyes. Was it his imagination, or was the Texan across the table starting to sound like his father?

    “I got an idea,” Forty-three said. “Lemme give Dick Cheney a call. See if he’s up for a little quail hunting.”

    1. Yay! you found a way through it! and you made me laugh with the last paragraph! Well done!

    2. Dammit! Don't make me cut onions at work!

      This is absolutely perfect. Thank you. <3

    3. You're welcome and thank you! These are fun. And cathartic. And onions.

    4. Everytime you do one of these I want to to give a big ole KISS!!

    5. When you publish these, I think the title should be Collusion.

  6. Enjoy Every Sandwich, Sonnet

    I can’t tell you what to do with your days.
    Even I, myself, no longer listen
    to my own words, philosophical ways.
    I see now something’s always been missin’.

    So feel free to ignore what I say now,
    though you have never listened to me much,
    but here’s what I’ve learned, and don’t ask me how,
    it’s where I earned these scars…here, have a touch.

    Your warmth made me happy but it won’t last,
    because true joys are but such fleeting things.
    Cherish while you can, ‘cause life’s smiles go fast,
    those too-brief moments that give your heart wings.

    Warren Zevon advised before he died,
    “Enjoy ev’ry sandwich.” Boy, wish I tried.

    1. Yes! I'm gonna have to write a sonnet now. :)

  7. With it coming up to xmas and it being a difficult time for some people - homeless, alone, experiencing problems - and it’s a time when calls to The Samaritans peak, I wrote this.


    Loss can kill
    Stress can kill
    Depression can kill
    Anxiety can kill

    Not always, but
    They leave a scar.

    Relationships can wither
    Friendships can wither
    Empathy can wither
    Creativity can wither

    Enjoyment can drown.

    So the leaves fall.

    You come out the other side, only
    To be faced with a higher climb.

    Gossip can destroy
    Rumour can destroy
    Hatred can destroy
    Slander can destroy

    Do you have the fuel?

    I freefall.

    Do you want a private life?
    What is a private life any more?

    Trust can die
    Faith can die
    Hope can die
    Empathy can die

    Can you come out the other side?

    I freefall.

    Do you know the secret?
    Can you whisper it to me?

    1. This is amazing. I love it. And how well I know that freefall. Somehow it's easier when you're younger, isn't it?

    2. I love the structure and the feels of this...

    3. Thanks, guys. The freefall thing & leaves are the bits I like. Maybe it’s too blunt/easy so I might twist it on rewriting. Teresa, I know what upu mean. Maybe the 20s & 30s are the easiest, but then for others it might not be. I think /anxiety/depression/mental illness effects 1 in 4 people in their life now & there’s still this “crazy” association with it or weakness, when often it’s where people have put up with long-term problems or are flooded all at once & it’s too much. If someone breaks a leg, they don’t leave it, but get it fixed, and other people can see the injury and imagine the pain. With illnesses of the mind/wellbeing, people can’t see it & often just don’t understand or take it seriously. At least, until they get it.

  8. Part One
    The Thought That Counts
    The party was pretty much in full swing at the seventeenth annual cookie exchange. This year it was at Mimi Goedecker’s, where she always had homemade eggnog and some mysterious concoction steaming away in her crockpot called glogg that she insisted her Swedish grandmother made every year that smelled like mulled cider and kicked like a bad-tempered mule.
    Traci Mackinizie brought her time-honored Mexican wedding cakes and Anna Morton brought her Russian meltaways, which are exactly the same thing, give or take a quarter teaspoon of vanilla; and Susie Hendrix made her chocolate crinkles and Rosie Andersen made her spritz, which were, as usual, only a little scorched on the bottoms, a fact she always managed to disguise with a colorful glaze and lots of sprinkles. Lucie Davis, who is married to that rich lawyer and counted herself a gourmet, bragged on how her gingersnaps that year were made with bacon fat, fresh orange zest and fresh grated ginger, which to my mind seemed a little extra all by itself, but instead of rolling them in sugar, she’d used edible gold leaf and called them gingerswag. To each his own, as they say.
    A couple of less ambitious types like E.J. Carlyle and Toonie Mulray just mashed up the packaged dough into different shapes and said they were snickerdoodles, while Phyllis Staunton just gave up altogether and dunked a whole package of Oreos into some melted chocolate and topped ‘em with some crushed candy cane bits that her dog had yanked off her tree. She told us, of course that it was a perfect copycat recipe for the ones they sell at Trader Joe’s, but of course, we knew better. And Mary Thompson did mention to me that she thought Debbie Atkins’ contribution of chocolate-dipped pretzel bites shaped into wreaths and sprinkled with powdered sugar looked just a bit like snow covered dog poop, but she was into her second glogg by then. Even though once she said it, it was hard to unsee.
    All of which didn’t really matter because it was Christmas, after all, and what you weren’t feeling in spirit, the glogg and the eggnog pretty much insured a person couldn’t remember their own middle initial anyhow.
    So the talk turned around as it always does to whether everybody was done with their Christmas shopping yet, and of course nobody was, because even those types who pride themselves on getting everything bought by Halloween aren’t ever really done. Mary wanted to know if anybody had any ideas on what to get her 97 year old mother-in-law that wasn’t pj’s, slippers, or a scarf, and Lucie suggested a nice Chinese urn, which nobody got until they thought about it for a minute. So while Mary pretended to be offended, somebody asked that new girl who’d brought the vegan balls what she’d gotten her husband for Christmas and she said she hadn’t yet but was thinking about a special elf drone she’d seen on amazon.
    I looked at Mimi and blinked. Even though they were new in town, her husband already was rumored to be something of a radical. “You think?” I said aloud.
    “I thought the symbolism of the individual’s powerlessness and lack of control under the oligarchy might be moving. A reminder of the lack of privacy and the erosion of basic human rights” she said. “Besides, they are kinda fun to fly around the yard.”
    “ Oh, “ Mimi nodded knowingly. “Well, when you put it thataway.”
    “Oh, to be young and love!” Piped up Anna. “I remember when me and Lars…”
    “Never mind Anna, We’ve heard that story.”
    “The one about the heart-shaped mattress at that hotel in Pensylvannia?” Said E.J. “That’s a good one!”
    “Anna, how about you come and help me refill the crockpot?” Mimi asked. “Just to make sure I don’t spill.” Mimi may have been a little unsteady by then, or maybe not. But we did know that if Anna got started on her honeymoon trip to Pennsylvania and how they got snowed in and how Lars wound up in a full body cast, with something about a pack of wolves or maybe it was coyotes surrounding the hotel, we’d be there all night.

  9. Part two
    “How about you, Grace?” Somebody asked me. “You done with your shopping yet?”
    I nibbled on a biscotti. “Naw, not even started.”
    A collective murmur swept through the room. “Why ever not?”
    “Well, the truth is. I try not to think about it too much.”
    “Are you one of those Christmas haters? Grace! I never would have believed it.”
    “Not at all. I like the whole thing. But what’s the point in getting all stressed about it? Finding the best price? Putting yourself in charge of what somebody might need or not? I shop for stuff I might like if somebody gave it to me. Might be pretty or practical. A painting from a thrift store. Anything. If I like it, I buy it. Then I wrap it up and give it away. If they don’t like it? Tough. Or better yet, they’ll re-gift it and I might even get it back.”
    Phyllis paused, fake snickerdoodle half way to her lips. “You mean, like what goes around comes around?”
    “Whoa,” piped up the vegan. “ That is like, SO Karma,”
    I grinned. “Exactly. It’s the thought that counts, right? So why make yourself miserable trying to please everybody else? Give what makes you happy to give and to hell with the rest of the bullshit.”
    The ladies raised their glasses in salute."Amen!"

    1. It's amazing how you create these little worlds. Your writing is so smooth and hypnotic.

    2. These characters are so amazingly real! I think I've mentioned before how your characters remind me of Fannie Flagg's, whom I adore.

  10. It’s a little,
    The shaker in the breeze
    Forever unheard,
    Unsung. A limp throng
    Distant in passing,
    But a spit upon the lake.
    And I am you
    When you are me,
    And the evidential pause
    Is circumspect.

  11. Awash

    These are the sounds we make to our
    Selves alone, bereft of the bustle,
    The ache, the arch in the rhythm of
    Days. It is where I stand as a pillar
    Drawn, willing the waters to rest.
    This blue is not of my own design for
    I can never imagine its depth, languid
    Connotations, but I can dream to swim
    Inside it, without wrestling with the self,
    Without feeling I could so easily drown.

    1. ah, beautiful. The pairing of ache and arch is perfect... and the symbolism of water. Beautiful.


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