Friday, May 17, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

Some surprises suck. Some surprises snatch your wind, weaken your resolve, or fill you with a thick paranoia. There are also good surprises, but we tend to forget those. I can show you the scars from the bad surprises if you're interested. Some of them are on my skin; some of them are internal.

I've had a few surprises that almost killed me. Either because they were dangerous or because they knocked me so far off my footing that I almost fell all the way down. The scars from those are bright purple, and they throb when my heart beats. 

I can't stand duplicity. Don't kiss my ass while you give me bad news. That's just to make you feel better. Don't try to take the sting out for yourself. I want us both to feel it. That's only fair. 

Saying it's your job don't make it right. Just ask Luke. 

If this is my tragedy, let it be mine. Find your own. Or wait until someone surprises you with it. 


  1. A fairly recent Amazon alert on the release of a new book by Leland Dirks crosses my FB Feed; the last such announcement there will be of a tome penned by my friend and/or he and his four footed co-authors. I pause to reflect, check my library to confirm or deny possession of it therein, and shed a brief tear or two in remembrance.

    Thus occurs one of the brief flashes of grief that eventually come to punctuate everyone's life as they age if they've lived any sort of a well rounded life.

    As more time passes from the point of injury, these flashes have a lessening impact, at others they overwhelm my senses resulting in a freshening of feelings I thought myself well past.

    I curse being the one left behind, to experience that freshening again every time I acquire a title I don't yet own, ever scouring the world for pieces of my friend. Little knives that stab with every box cheerfully delivered to my door by drivers one stop closer to home.

  2. (Every time I try to write flash it comes out as part of the novel I'm writing, so here's a little bit of that - I think it works in a short piece.)

    Harold never thought a body could bleed that much. Sure, he’d seen blood before. When he was a kid he’d had had nosebleeds and nasty cuts; he knew the coppery smell, the slippery-sticky feel…but so much. It was dark by the pier and nut-shrinking cold, and his kishkes told him to run, and run fast, but his mind was too busy staring at the spreading pool beneath the man who’d collapsed to the concrete. It wasn’t at all like the movies. They didn’t show blood at the movies. Cagney got shot, clutched his chest, fell down and died. That was it.


    So much blood.

    “Hey! Harold.”

    “Moishe, how much blood is in a person, anyway?”

    “What? You want to know that now? We don’t got time for biology class. The cops are coming. We gotta get out of here.”

    Something snapped inside him then, and he shook his head, and he heard the sirens, and the two of them ran.

    “Ditch the gun,” Moishe called over his shoulder.

    Harold was stunned to discover that he was still holding it. “It’s Hersch’s gun.” Where was Herschel, anyway?

    “You think the cops are gonna care whose?” Moishe said. “Here.” He pointed into the void of the East River, where night sky met the black murky water. “Get rid of it.”

    Harold didn’t want to get rid of the gun. Hersch was so proud of that piece; his father had given it to him right before he died. He’d been so excited to show it to him.

    “For fuck’s sake, get rid of it already! Here, I’ll do it.”

    Moishe’s hand shot toward Harold’s. But Harold spun away, and reared back his arm, and winged the gun toward the river. Harold’s chest heaved with the exertion, with the running, which he rarely had to do. For a moment the two men stopped, stilled, waited for the sound they desired: a dull splash. Harold let out his breath.

    Moishe again tugged his arm. “We gotta get back to the car and get out of here.”

    Harold turned this way and that. “Where’s Hersch?”

    “Who the hell knows? We gotta go and we gotta go now.”


    Harold hauled the Packard to the curb and spied Lola outside the restaurant, angry-smoking a cigarette but still managing to look like an angel in a slinky dress that kissed every curve.

    He put a little extra into his smile as he approached her. “Baby, forget dinner, you look good enough to eat.”

    She dropped her cigarette to the sidewalk and ground it out with her shoe. “You’re late. I been out here a half hour at least.”

    “You shoulda gone inside and got a table,” he said. “Instead of standing out here in the cold.” Where every Tom, Dick or Harry could get an eyeful. He glared at one old joker who’d been sneaking glances at her half-bare chest, framed by a fur draped over her shoulders, and the alta cocker withdrew.

    “I’m sorry, baby doll. I got stuck at work. You know how it is.”

    She pouted a moment, then smiled. The smile that made him go liquid inside. “Okay, but I’m gettin’ the lobster.”

    “I’ll buy you two lobsters,” he said. “Anything you want.”

    She was about to turn but something stopped her. “What’s that on your jacket?”

    Something in Harold’s mind froze a minute before he looked down. Shit. Why hadn’t he listened to his father? Is that what you’re wearing? Pop asked, before Harold left the house to pull off the job. I got a date with Lola after, he’d said, and his pop made that face that called him a putz without using any words.

    “I had a little nosebleed,” Harold said, linking his arm with hers. “But I’m fine now. Let’s eat.”

    1. Laurie. A beginning, middle, and an ending. That's a story. And a novel is made of little stories tied together in sequence. I myself find it difficult to write in a linear fashion, beginning to end. Often my outline will contain plot points. Craft a story around the point and string them together to make the novel. The muse doesn't address the points in linear fashion either. I build bridges between the points.

      Your tale upped my BP & heart rate. Made me wonder how Harold and Moishe arrived at murder, what happened after dinner and of course , where did the third leg of the triangle go? Does the murder weapon get recovered? We know whodunnit but why?


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