Friday, December 8, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

Reggie stepped off the curb with a slight stumble. Anyone watching would likely assume that he had had a few too many drinks. Anyone watching for longer would be able to watch him weave down the sidewalk, bumping into people. Because he was good, that was all they saw. Not me. I saw the quick, darting motions that pulled wallets out of purses and pockets. I saw watches and jewelry disappear. He was good. Too good for his own good. Not as good as I was in my day, but good. 

Sandra was one of the bumped-into. She lost her grandmother's necklace. That glint of diamond was gone. She wouldn't realize it until she got home, and, when she did realize, she would fall to her knees, sobbing. Cheated. Duped. Dirtied. Contaminated. 

Al was an old man, and he had nothing worth stealing. He stood on the corner, sipping from a brown bag and hoping that the liquor would hurry up. Getting drunk was not a gradual process for him. It was like getting hit by a sledgehammer. That was the way he wanted it. He would drink a pint of vodka in one go if he had a beer to chase it with. This time, he had no beer. But a few more sips, taken in rapid succession, and he would be good to go. 

Anthony wore a badge, and he thought it made up for the fact that he had...bad ideas. Bad desires. He cast glances he was ashamed of. He dreamed things at night that couldn't stand the test of sunlight. He was ashamed, but it was beyond his control. The badge was a scarlet letter that only he could see. He was barely holding on, but, man, he was trying.

Yolanda didn't try at all. She gave into every base desire that she had and never thought twice about it. She took everything she could with no remorse. No empathy. No Jiminy Cricket for Yolanda. She was a predator in the truest sense of the word, and broken souls fanned out behind her like a wedding train. Her panther eyes missed nothing. Her conscience was clean. 

I was the one watching them, but I didn't judge any of them. Judge not lest ye be judged. I reckon that there isn't a person on earth who doesn't do or think something they don't want anyone to know about. That's what it means to be human. That's what fuels writers. At least, that's what fuels writers like me. 


  1. (Space reserved for Mr. Mader comments)

    1. Man. I love this. I want to know everything about these people. But it's so compact, so complete. Love it.

    2. Yeah, cool characterisations. All 3D and breathing. I imagined all of them outside the bar in the street, all passing one another. I wanted the old man to rescue the damsel in distress and was hoping he'd trip up the drunkard :)

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  3. You climb the highest landmark you can find on the darkest of nights and scream. You scream and scream and scream. You call them idiots and murderers and morons and fascists and all of the seven words you can’t say on television. And then you stop. You’re standing on the highest rock on the highest place you could find and you are tired. Your jaw hurts from screaming, your head aches, you could use a trip to the chiropractor and wonder when they open in the morning. You take great deep breaths of the soft damp air, and for the first time look into the space you just violated with your frustrations. It’s the kind of quiet that city people think is quiet. Night insects chirrup and owls hoot and a light breeze rattles what’s left of the leaves and traffic hums from the nearby highway. All is not dark. All is not empty. You rest.

    Then a voice pierces through like a knife. “Hey. Asshole.”

    You flinch, nearly lose your balance atop the rock. Your shoulders tighten and you wonder if you should answer. But the words come without thought intervening. “What? Me?”

    “Yeah, you, ya putz. You up there screamin’ into the void. Feel better now?”

    “Um. Actually, no.”

    “Didn’t think so. Nobody really does, poor bastards.”

    You look all around, see nothing. “Who…are you? Where are you?”

    “Doesn’t matter. All that matters is you, right? You’re scared, you’re angry, you don’t know what else to do so you come up here and piss off my dog and wake the whole freakin’ neighborhood.”

    “Oh, shit. I’m sorry. I didn’t realize—” A now-embarrassed little part of you thought you were talking to God. Why God has a Southie accent and calls you names also troubles you. No. Couldn’t be.

    The voice of whatever it is continued. “Of course you didn’t realize, ya schmuck. Everything’s about you. How it makes you feel, how it affects you, blah blah blah. But did you ever, just for one hot minute, put yourself in someone else’s shoes? Like mine, for instance? You ever think about what it’s like to be in my Cons? Huh? A guy’s down here trying to get a good night’s sleep and he’s got these morons screaming shit at him every other minute.”


    “Yeah, you’re sorry. You’re all sorry. Tell me something. You registered to vote?”

    “Of course.”

    “Don’t act all high and mighty about it, that’s the least you could do. You know folks who aren’t?”

    You feel a little smaller now. Your voice comes out in a squeak. “Probably.”

    “Then go scream at them. Maybe find a few websites about voting and shit, and make friends, and get shit done. You with me?”

    You can only manage a whisper now. “Yeah.”

    “Now get the fuck out of here. Scream into a pillow or something. Take an Ambien. Just leave me alone. Christ. I gotta put up a sign.”

    1. Hilarious! I love the bit when the other bloke first questions him screaming. You can picture the scene and both of them. The bit about disturbing his dog was also funny. And the situation that this has happened before, that it keeps happening, that all these strangers keep coming up here, where they think they won't be seen, scream their heads off - and this poor dude gets disturbed so often that he feels he's gotta put up a sign. Super funny scenario. And you get the feeling he's given this same talk to a zillion people. I bet that dog is amused.

    2. And underneath the comedy, there's this fact that all these people feel so frustrated and unable to do anything about it that all they feel they can do is come up here and scream

  4. @JD Mader—Crisp. Well drawn characters for a short. I recognize them all from my street days.

  5. @Laurie Boris—Stark, stunning. I feel your pain. And God's. It's a wake up call we desperately need.

  6. This one took longer than 2 minutes as I wrote it and reworked it!! But it's something new after taking a little walk down some lanes.

    The walk

    A cutting wind blows us in two,
    peels back the edge of a buttercup carpet.

    Olive stalks sway, fan this sunbathed land.
    We hold nature at arm’s length, picture it

    through a cold lens, frame it, silence it
    when it needs to yell out loud and be released.

    Slide your bare feet through the warm mud,
    churning rivers between your toes. Sienna drips,

    seeps down this canvas; fuel for the soul,
    a gathering, a grounding for the city type.

    We flit between our own flimsy self-images,
    echoes of our childhood shadowed mirror-play.

    Gnarly branches seek to press our stiff backs forward
    down leafy, ground-out trails and grown-over mazes

    into damp, mossy nooks and crooks of watery pearl,
    these crumbling granite walls so cool to our fingertips.

    Crows lift in a circling cloud and in the far view a single tree
    stands statue-still, sketched in hollow against the light.

  7. Again, longer than 2 minutes... about 15

    Winter's hour

    Winter’s hour.
    Melted land, dispersed sour,
    breath of snow’s own iced curse,
    sodden leaves drag a lifeless purse.
    Flowers burst, and softest shadows
    loiter on this walk, paddock fallow.
    Sparrows walk the tightropes overhead,
    watching where the dappled cows are fed.
    On this emptied earth, stripped out, bare,
    white reflects, lights the low sun’s glare.
    Life quietly assembles here below,
    from aged crone to lone young fellow,
    animal and human net together,
    sharing their heat against the weather.
    As one they enter the cold, stone gate
    to listen to mass and not be late.

  8. The messenger

    In the gust
    dust swells, panic caught,
    misses a cue in the line.

    A tumbleweed plays,
    scrawls out your name
    in the dirt,

    leaves a memory
    imprinted that neither one of us
    wishes to recall.

    I watch it skirt the road
    free, feeling it knows I’m right here,
    just waiting for it to leave.

  9. Little brainstorms

    1 - IN THE HOUR

    Wait on pause,
    take a trip,
    think it out,
    delay the plan,
    relate the way,
    time it completely wrong,
    say it in song,
    say it isn’t right.

    You can choose the date
    or pretend to lose.

    We fathom the night
    in the close of day.
    These are the hands
    that wound the clock,
    and clocking out,
    they forgot to pray.

    2 - FREEFALL

    It’s a freefall,
    endless. We are inclined
    to be as we ever were,
    without pretence,
    No disguise.
    No more than three words.

    We are as the land wishes,
    as the trees grieve,
    as the ground breathes.
    And nothing echoes aloud
    except that which burned before,
    ever here,
    always now,
    despite the years

    3 - MINDS

    In the mind of the other
    we are one. As we might be,
    as we might see, and be here,
    waiting, knowing, seeing,
    as calm as a blackbird.


    Elfin forests,
    crystal clear streams,
    an endless dream of being,
    where the twig-strewn ground breathes
    in summer’s sway, where our feet tread,
    sink into earth, just resting.
    We are breath. We are here. We be.

    5 - THE CATCH

    In the unsung song we hear
    the passing of a thought, a treasured
    heart, a memory. The thing that fell foul,
    the betrayal, the slip, the echo
    of the abject thing. The bird caught,
    the tripwire; this endless rebegin.
    And we are heard sliding.
    Here, there is no catch word,
    no rail, no mat.
    We are falling. And we are free.

    6 - SINKING

    In the morrow we will begin,
    counting numbers,
    drawing circles with our fingers.
    This sand sinks, scuppers,
    water fills. It’s a cue to bury it all,
    seal it over, never
    to be found.


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