Friday, May 20, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

The countdown has started; take a deep breath.

With every passing second, your life expands and contracts like a noble heart, pumping. There is a smell of ozone, and the sound of the rockets fills your whole body. No time for second thoughts now. You are off, as they say. 

You've been "off" for quite some time. People have noticed. Folks have been talking. The gossip has blossomed into something that no one can control. It has eyes and tentacles. It will devour you.

So, lean back. Let your body go limp. Try to be still, as it will be easier to administer the antidote. We try to avoid blood and scarring. It's easiest if you just understand. You are in our hands now. Your life is not wholly your own anymore. 

You are part of something bigger.


  1. I’m filled with excitement about today’s declaration from Mader Manor. It’s dynamic, and it’s a sensory carnival with hearts a bumping, ozone ozoning ... and rockets. But it seems that everything’s awry.

    I’m going to be eaten.

    Thank goodness, Dan’s here to save us all.

    I think it’s the weekend again.

    As vibrant and as enigmatic as ever, this is another stirring post from Dan, our hero.

    Fabulous writing as always, my friend.

    1. Wow. What Mark said. I really dug this peace, straight from its noble heart.

    2. Piece, I meant, but that was an interesting slip.

  2. I buy myself a little more time.

    It’s not the time for me to be doing this, I say, offering him my usual excuse. I don’t know if he makes note of the days between my refusals. He’s not one for figures or planning, preferring to live his life day to day. I’ve never seen him reading a book. He’s more likely to get his news from the TV, sitting on the couch opposite it every night, his face subtly softened by its electric blues. He’s really missing it now – he’s missing his sports. He never used to bother with current affairs.

    But current affairs are all that's available to us now. The television only shows us the Russian shows. Propaganda and lies. The news digests telling us we’re losing the war and that the Russians have taken another city. They say nothing about the people they’ve displaced. The nameless homeless in their thousands marching north, hoping they can be taken in into their relations’ family homes. Not that there’s any surety in them finding rooms there either though. The news programs don't tell us anything we need to know.

    He's drinking more now. I don’t know how he manages to find it. The store is always empty, their shelves cleared of everything before I get inside. I queued outside in the rain for three hours last week and still got nothing I needed. There was only Dimitri at the door, dipping into the crate of tinned food he’d got inside, selling you whatever he plucked out of it for ten dollars a can. And then I was pushed away again; the woman behind me wanting whatever she could get, none of us knowing what we were going to be given. And the cans are usually battered and missing their labels. Sometimes they’re leaking, their contents spoiled, but that’s the risk you take. Nobody gets a refund. You use what you’re given, and you feel grateful for what you get. There are always people at the back of the line who’ll get nothing.

    I miss the football he watches too. It’s like we’re missing a member of our family, the popular one who kept Dimitri’s attention from me, who prevented him from fussing with me until he was too far gone to do anything but try clumsily and then fail. But now he just swears at me, calling me the ugliest, sourest-faced hustler that ever pushed out a child. Not that I ever get any arousal from him either now. He’s become ugly inside, a spoiled brat, more bitter and cruel than he ever was before. He’s simmering resentment and violence, improperly contained, like a bear that's been beaten since it was a cub.

    I sometimes wish he was dead.

    But I often wish I was dead too. But that’s the life we’re both living here, here and now. There’s little promise of hope for anyone still living here; that’s the truth.

    1. Holy cats. This is so powerful. I could see everything, feel everything: the light from the TV, the leaking, spoiled cans, the desperation. So well done.

    2. Wow. This is an intense piece. Really well written. You can feel the calamity. You're so good at creating this perfect little scenes. This one has so much punch.

  3. A mouse’s to-do list

    For the party of the year
    in the house of little Miss Mouse,
    there was a lot of organizing to do,
    from the decorations to the invites
    to the cleaning and the food,
    the last chore being the most exciting.
    The biggest expense was going to be
    the cheese, lashings and lashings of it.

    A big hunk of cheddar, rubbery Edam,
    triangle of Brie, one Pecorino Romano,
    a chunk of stinky-feet Gorgonzola,
    little biddy Derby, rolling Camembert,
    some lemony shavings of Mozzarella,
    cue the Danish blue, bits of Parmesan,
    a vibrant orange Double Gloucester,
    fresh squidge of Cottage Cheese,
    some crumbly Feta, firm Ricotta,
    gooey Goats Cheese, sturdy Gouda,
    a fancy Gruyere, and a few jugs of
    sweet red wine to wash it all down.

    1. Mmmm, cheese! The world totally needs a cheese poem. Love all the descriptions.

    2. This is such a charming piece of writing. It’s so visual – I can just imagine Miss Mouse scurrying around, readying the house for her guests. And as for the menu they’ll be enjoying afterwards, you’ve captured it so well, making the cheeses seem so real by qualifying each one visually.

      It's delightful and I can see this in a collection of children’s stories. Brilliant.

    3. I agree. Could totally see this in a book of kids' stories. I can even see the cool illustrations that would accompany it. :)

  4. Sweeney's Pies

    Barnaby’s head rose from the grave. His hat was smeared chalky-white from the alum in the soil. He looked like the shade of a mole dressed in a suit it’d recovered from one of their exhumations.

    “I prefer doing this in summer,” he grumbled. “The earth’s softer. You get fewer hours of undisturbed darkness, but the digging’s easier. In the August of ’83, I managed to liberate a dozen folk in one night. And the anatomists paid me a full florin for each one.”

    “But you were still down to your last farthing by the end of the week.”

    “Excavating’s strenuous work. You get powerful thirsty.” Barnaby clambered onto the tarpaulin beside the hole, shook out his trousers’ turnups and then dragged his hands across his face. His eyes reappeared from the grime; his cheeks as grey as many of the corpses they recovered. He had a similar odour of rot about him too.

    Sometimes Rudge wondered whether his companion had been pulled out from a grave himself or if he'd managed to dig himself out after he’d woken up in one.

    He’d heard stories about men like that. Superstitious nonsense. But sometimes, there was an element of truth in the tales.

    He rapped on the lid of the casket. It rang dull, as though filled with concrete. That could be bad if the grave had been flooded and filled with water. A saturated decomposing corpse wasn’t any good to anyone. Even Sweeney, the Pie-maker, turned down carcasses like that.

    1. Agreed. Keep going with this one. It's so interesting, and the dialogue is on point. I want to see where it goes.

  5. Ma was a wreck at the service. You get it, they’ve been married forever, and you’ve seen it in the pictures, and other funerals, but you never thought your own mother would act that way. Wailing how she should have gone first, wanting to throw herself into the open grave. It took you and two of Pop’s guys to stop her. On the way back to the house to sit shiva, you tell Lola you should have let the doctor give her something. She nods, says she tried. Later you find out that Ma called her a golddigger and slapped her face. But your Lola, she’s so great that day. Always at your elbow, all perfumed and sophisticated, smoothing things over, thanking everyone for coming. It’s smart of her, because you can barely think straight, and you’re grateful. You’ll buy her something from Tiffany’s to show her how much. Maybe she’ll be marriage material after all, despite what Ma thinks. You daydream how you’ll propose, all romantic-like, but it isn’t the right time to think that out. Herschel and Moishe want to talk. You throw down a glass of bootleg scotch—only the best for Pop—and take them into a quiet room upstairs. Yeah, Pop is gone, but business is business. Guys need direction. A show of strength. One thing you’d learned from Pop is not to leave a vacuum. It only invites trouble. Later, you’ll do something for him. Maybe give to that charity that grows trees in Jewish Palestine or feeds hungry kids. But today is for thinking about tomorrow. If only you’d had more time to learn from him the kind of guts that tomorrow would take.

  6. You’ve a wonderful ability to create a family with only a few words. You write little vignettes and lace them together, interrelating them with deftly placed images and descriptions, and animating them with tiny scenes from their lives. It’s like one of those mosaics you sometimes see, where you see an array of tiny images and then zoom out to see them create a larger design. That’s what you’ve done here; it’s a masterly piece of writing and it’s delightful.

  7. That last sentence! I love this piece. The feel of it. There's a cozy distance/magnifying aspect of it that is so cool. I want to know more about these people.


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