Speed Writing 6-3-17

prompts: disbelief, envy, fear

i never should have watched Eve by the pool.
hard not to do, if you’re at the complex’s pool as often as i am. i watch everyone.
but Eve comes by her name honestly. she looks like she might have been  created in a perfect garden to wander in the dawn of the world.
and all that might have been okay, if not for her significant other, Steven.
Steven’s kinda scrawny, but he’s very educated, far beyond his intelligence, in my opinion. mr. been-there-done-that-knew-that-let-me-correct-you.
she buys his bullshit, whole hog. and that should have been enough to dissuade me.
but …
she’s just perfect.
like, i leave her presence, and i can’t believe just how perfect she is, i must be misremembering, no one can be that divine.
until i see her again.
she’s every wet dream i ever had, rolled into better-than-i-dreamt-it.
so, i asked her out, and that’s when know-it-all Steven lost his shit.
now, i’m naked, in my apartment, masturbating to her as she stands before me naked.
Steven has a gun.
i’m working on my eighth orgasm in less than a half hour.
tears on my cheek.
agony between my legs.

prompt: it’s never beige in Vienna

our life together? beige people in a beige house in a beige town, working out beige jobs, and i realized i was on the brink of a killing spree for just the chance of color.
so, i took out a 20 million dollar insurance policy on Patrick, cut out all my discretionary spending to afford the premiums, and i gave it a year.
a year of Patrick, 20 million dollars.
i can suck up a year of beige.
after 12 months, i started using a a fine round file to eat away at has brake line.
slowly, carefully.
a little bit every day.
boring husband roulette … will it be today?
and when it happens, will it be final? fatal?
plenty of chances for it to be catastrophic.
and, to be fair, plenty of places in his daily commute where it wouldn’t do more than wrinkle his bumper.
two months, three weeks, six days …
a police officer shows up at my office, and regrets to inform me …
i cry and no one realizes they’re tears of relief.
of joy.
another month, and i’ll be leaving Beigeville for color, and life, and possibilities. for the right to dream in color.

prompts: innocence, trust, delusion

he said he’d take care of us, after Mother died. Daddy said we were all he had, and he’d hold on to us forever.
and he did.
meeting someone who would want to be mother to two children, and live a humble life out in the forest, married to a man who chopped and sold firewood … no woman would agree to that, surely.
until Stella …
sweetness, light, and love – at least while Daddy is watching.
sour, dark, and hate when he wasn’t.
Stella was particularly hard on my brother. there were always more dangerous chores for him, and she’d hurt him cruelly in ways that left no mark.
at first, she played with me like i was one of my dolls – dress-up, tea parties, grand balls, dances, and banquets, of imaginary food, of course. but she lost interest, and then i was tortured as well. she put rough fingers where she shouldn’t, laughing at my tears.
and now, Daddy’s taken us out into the woods, and left us. i tried leaving a trail, but all i did was feed the birds.
it’s getting dark, and we’re scared.
do i smell fresh cookies?

prompts: sacred, compassion, clarity

we relied on the Church a lot when i was growing up.
Mom and Dad each worked two jobs, my big brother raised us most of the time.
we never had enough of anything.
so, the Church helped us, and our parents made us pay the Every-Sunday-Dues.
i listened until i questioned, and when i questioned, they said “believe”, and i fucking stopped listening.
but i kept going even after i grew up, and moved out … the Church kept us from starving, and there were always new-to-us hand-me-down clothes as we grew.
i still owe them.
but debts go both ways.
we gave them our Sundays, and they fed and clothed us.
we gave them our trust …
until news started breaking about the child abuse by priests.
the Church has shuffled you around a lot, Father. hid you pretty well for a long time.
if it helps, think of me as the Wrath of God. i mean, i don’t believe, but maybe you still do.
i’m not judging you. if you’re right, God will do that.
if i’m right, no judgment matters …
feel free to scream, Father. you’re going to be losing control of your bladder and sphincter soon enough.
don’t be ashamed, Father, happens to all you bastards.

prompt: a thousand splendid suns

i moved from the city to find the night again. i walk when the sun’s down, i want to see stars.
in the city, the sky had an ever-present glow.
maybe a handful of stars.
i forgot the stellar mist of the Milky Way.
until my first  night out here – i walked out my door to find the dark and the stars, and i fell to my knees when i saw that ribbon of stars above me.
i wept. it was, it is, ever glorious.
there’s nothing more beautiful, and to have that back in my life … okay, i raise goats, till my little garden.
trading the glow of the city, the glow of the internet, of the television, for the majestic spray of stars  – best decision i ever made.

prompts: balance, gluttony, sanity

i’ve lived under the umbrella of my mother’s smothering, choking love all my life.
it’s like walking on the bottom of the sea, the pressure never-relenting, unbearable … yet somehow i’ve borne it.
there isn’t enough therapy in the world for the load of emotions i’m carrying. rage, fear, doubt, shame, hate, love, disgust – all the soul-sweat of her cloying compassion.
i wanted to kill her most of my life – it was the fuel that drove me, the introvert, out of the house.
so when she died … the pressure was gone, and the motivation as well.
i spent the first six months never leaving the house, living on delivery, not answering my phone, ignoring email, watching the insurance money slowly trickle away.
six months was long enough to hibernate in the creaking corpse of my mother’s love.
i went to the grocery, bought chicken, set it to frying, and walked out to the yard, waiting for the fire to begin.
goodbye Mother.
today i am free.

listening to: “Mad Max: Fury Road”, playing on the monitor
mood: tired

Speed Writing Catch Up

4-5-17

prompts: murder, wealth, red tape

Ben Mankowicz was dead, no two ways about it. Can’t split a head like that and expect the poor sumbitch to live. I’d seen more in-depth anatomy lookin’ at his noggin than I ever wanted to see.
Normally, a murder like this? Act of passion. A hatchet to the head’s messy, and from the look of things, it had taken more than one blow.
Knives are easier, guns are easier.
So, crime of passion, no premeditation.
Someone had found Ben Mankowicz’s hatchet, and gone batshit crazy on Ben’s head.
I had forensics dusting everything. The hatchet’s handle had been wiped clean, maybe we’d get lucky elsewhere.
I can hear Liz, Ben’s wife, wailing in the front yard. She weighs 98 pounds soaking wet, doubt he has the strength to do this.
Nobody’s seen Ray, their son, in the last week or so. He’s tentatively at the top of the suspect list.
“Detective, you might want to see this …”
Ray’s in a closet, strangled with an electrical cord.
Guess he’s off the suspect list …

prompt: a sewing accessory – pin cushion, thread spindles, small drawers with a puzzle lock

we were cleaning out mom’s house.
finally.
it had been four-and-a-half, five months, and neither of us had felt up to doing it before, just refused to think about it, and my sister couldn’t approach the front door without breaking down. she’d spent more time crying in her car than was healthy.
but she’d called me, and it was time, so i made the drive down. we had breakfast at Carly’s that saturday morning, then driven over to mom’s.
“i’m glad you hired someone to clean out the fridge,” i said as we walked into the front hall.
“yeah, this place would’ve stunk worse than when the cat died under the house my senior year,” Beth said.
she chuckled, and i pretended i didn’t hear the tears she was holding in.
a lot of clothes to sort, cheap jewelry to get rid of. furniture to either split between us, or have auctioned off.
i held it together until we got to the sewing room.
a Singer, older than me, thread, bolts of cloth, pin cushions, needles … my childhood wardrobe came from that room, and my

prompts: despair, ignorance, injustice

ignorance of the law is no excuse …
absolute bullshit, far as i’m concerned. case in point – i’m in the Clusterfuck County jail, no, it’s not really Clusterfuck County, but Clusterfuck better suits this place than Cooley County.
now, if your county judges have decided an Obama bumper sticker is a felony … well, they’re crazier than shithouse rats to begin with. and since no sign warns travelers through this little slice of Alabama, i tend to take it personally when your brave law enforcement officers pull me over to arrest me for felony mischief – like that’s really a thing – and throw me in the clink.
hell of way to fuck up my scenic drive from Jacksonville to Oklahoma City.
“i want my phone call!”
“hell, boy, that’s some tv shit right there. you ain’t guaranteed a phone call.”
he’s six hundred pounds of redneck asshole stuffed into a three hundred pound uniform. you could boil him down for oil … smelly oil, but oil all the same.
“officer, two hundred dollars for a phone call.”
“we don’t take checks or plastic, prisoner.”
“you don’t need to. i have more than that in my wallet!”
“uh uh, bubba … there weren’t no money in that wallet.”
i am fucked … so fucked.
looking at my cell-mate, that might be literally, as well as figuratively.
late friday night, and no judge til monday morning.

prompts: demolition, health, lust

“doctor … why’d i want to be a doctor again?”
“lots of money,” my favorite nurse replied.
it’s an old routine with us.
this time it was more truth than joke.
i addressed my patient.
“mr. carpenter, what possessed you to …”
“tequila, doc.”
“uh huh … tequila convinced you to stick a roman candle in your bottom?”
“well, we were lighting farts, and hal, my friend hal, thought it would be funny if a fart made its way out around a roman candle, and lit it.”
“drunk … lighting farts … fireworks.”
“yeah, doc, shouldn’t have been a problem. i’ve held ’em in my hands. they get a little warm, but that’s it.”
“so, this candle was defective?”
“you’re the one lookin’ at the crater what used to be my asshole – what do you think?”
i think you’re a goddamned moron and i hope you never breed.
i kept that to myself.
“i think you’re going to need reconstructive surgery to keep your shit from just falling out,” i replied. “i’ve done all i can, mr. carpenter. i’ve packed it with gel-foam, and i’m going to ship you upstairs now.”
ER duty. gotta love it.

prompts: relapse, identity, virtue

it was inevitable … we’d all drop acid, and i’d end up in a corner somewhere, pondering cosmic truth or somesuch bullshit.
i mean, i’d  hang around with the others for a couple of hours, but the fun part of our trips lasted a good 8 hours, and i wasn’t the only one to split from the herd.
danny & kate would go to their room to fuck after 2 or 3 hours, and we wouldn’t see them again.
we kept the music loud so we wouldn’t hear them either.
one time we didn’t and fuck near died laughing … obviously we couldn’t stop, and our facial muscles were cramping something fierce.
then there’s phil – he goes wandering in the apartment complex. he generally made it back before the end of the trip … but on occasion, we wouldn’t see him for days afterward.
so yeah, about 5, 6 hours in, i’d grab my notebook, go find a quiet corner, and write while i questioned my place in the universe, or if reality is a shared gestalt construct as opposed to having independent existence.
what i write is very rarely coherent the next morning.
that’s okay. i keep writing anyway.
it beats staring at the walls while they breathe, or listening to 3 minute songs stretch into hour-long songs.
i don’t think it beats what danny and kate are doing. i’ll have to try that some time.

4-19-17

prompts: potato, running, lonely, secretly (this is a “noun, verb, adjective, adverb” prompt)

“feeling lonely, cowboy?”
it had been a hard six weeks, driving the herd north to omaha, and i was so horny i didn’t know whether to shit or go blind. but mostly i was hungry.
“sweetheart, i been runnin’ on beans an’ taters for a month and a half. you mind keepin’ me company while i get a real meal?”
“you buy me a drink, and you’re on.”
i waved my hat at the boy who served as a waiter.
“a drink for the little lady, an’ as much steak as you can pile on a platter for me.”
she watched me go through four plates full, her eyes wide, drink forgotten.
i think she was secretly happy for the long break from her business.
when i was finished, she asked, “you ready now, cowboy?”
i just belched, and nodded.

prompt: haiku – ‘butter’ as a part of it

Vienna pastry
no butter necessary
now for some coffee

you called them my buns.
butter as a lubricant,
God knows we’ve used worse.

fuck the margarine
give me butter or nothing.
who eats oil-based foods?

butter up the boss.
you’re living in a box, Bob,
no raise in six years.

she is the Divine.
psychotic as hell, crazy.
but her lips? oh god!

prompts: a list of words, one per minute, integrated into the narrative

i’d overcooked the roast … again.
“barbara, this shit is burnt.”
it wasn’t that bad, no matter what harv said, but i’d given up arguing with him years before.
i heard him undo the bolt on the door, as he stomped out to eat at the chinese restaurant on the corner.
cheap bastard was always coming up with schemes to charge his meals on his company expense account.
i keep burning the roast, and executing other culinary disasters, so he’ll have plenty of chances to get caught.
i told him, he loses another job, and i’m out of here, across the bridge to the mainland, and living with my sister as far away from him as i can get.
maybe if they find out all the times he’s cheated them, they’ll lock him up.
cheap bastard.

prompt: don’t remember

“is it hot enough for you?”
i wanted to punch him, but he wasn’t asking rhetorically.
“almost,” i groaned.
i could feel the worms writhing in my body, whipped to a frenzy by the heat. the were crawling toward my head, just under my skin, trying to escape the heat in the therapeutic pool.
“a little more,” I said, lips between my teeth as i tried not to scream.
the first worm, oily and red, erupted from my cheek, and fell out beside the tub.
denny crushed it with his shoe.
“disgusting fucker …”
as more of them forced their way through my flesh, i did scream.
most of them fell into the tub with me, cooking and dying.
“jack … jack the heat up …”
i moaned, feeling the last of them crawling up my arms.

5-3-17

prompt: vice, loss, the counselor

“kill her, dump her in a shallow grave.”
“well shit, bob, how do you really feel about her.”
i’d married ellen after she and bob got divorced. neither of us had ever told him about our affair while they were married.
now, ellen and i were headed for divorce as well.
no big surprise, she was cheating on me. like my mother always said, “if she cheats on one man, why wouldn’t she cheat on another?”
i’m glad mom wasn’t able to see how right she’d been.
“bob, i don’t want her dead …”
“bullshit. listen, ed, something i’ve never told anyone before. she was cheating on me, too, before the divorce, and if i ever find out who it was, i’ll kill them.
“i been there,” he continued. “and if you don’t think you want her dead, you’re in denial. hell, it’s been four years, three months, and … twelve days since our divorce was final, and i still want her dead.”
i remained silent, the beginning of a plan forming in my mind.
could i talk ed into killing his ex without getting my own hands dirty?

prompt: delusion, madness, the gamble

“you know, freak, you’re the craziest sumbitch in here.”
earl, one of the night orderlies, is an animal. not dumb, he’s just cruel as a hobby.
and he really loves his hobbies.
he shoves my head in the stopped-up toilet again, holds me under for almost three minutes by my count.
i’m gasping and crying as he pulls me out.
“how ya like be being crazy now?”
i sputter, spit, and mumble, “you do this out of love. they don’t want you to, but you’re my friend, earl. you do this out of love.”
he gets a good laugh out of that, and drags me into the showers.
ice-cold water sluices the shit off my head and i scream. the water feels like it’s maybe a degree above freezing.
he holds me there forever … i doubt it’s over five minutes.
with a gentle, for earl, kick in my ass, he turns me loose.
“back to your room, squirrel chow.”
i stumble away, not letting him see the hate in my eyes.
if you ask the doctors here, i have a habit of cold showers, in my clothes, late at night. that’s how earl writes these incidents up.
i don’t say any different. last inmate that disputed earl’s side of the story took a dive off the roof.
suicide, earl reported.
the rest of us know better.

prompt: power, fear, injustice

if you keep people scared, they’re easier to control.
the local sheriff, clint thomas, wouldn’t put it so eloquently, but he understands the concept quite well.
he owns almost all of harmony, texas. give him another few years, he’ll own it all.
even the harmony herald, my newspaper.
it’s an old scam, but a good one.
you pay the sheriff and his men for protection. arguments about his salary from the city get your beaten.
so you pay the sheriff’s tax … and at some point, an honest-to-god accident happens … with the sheriff’s help.
your business burns down, or as happened with mccrory’s general store, bandits hold up supplies coming to restock the shelves.
you don’t make any money, you can’t pay the sheriff, and he ends up owning your business, or the land it was on.
i sleep in my office, alongside buckets of sand, with a loaded shotgun.
some day, my luck will run out, all the same.

prompts: the officer, marriage, addiction

“carl, you won’t know when to shit or when to eat.”
twenty-three years in the army, karen wasn’t lying, and she wasn’t wrong.
if i’d spent the time in prison, they’d say i was institutionalized. years spent in the ‘passing on orders from above’ business… i wasn’t looking forward to life as a civilian.
“don’t worry about it, carl. i’ll take care of you.”
and that prospect is terrifying as well. long deployments overseas have kept our marriage intact. hell, karen and i are on good terms with each other in direct proportion to our distance from each other. when i’m on the other side of the planet we’re best fucking friends.
looking at the rest of my life in close proximity to her makes me want to chew my ring finger off.
what can i possibly do to keep myself out of the house almost all day, every day?
golf? only if i spend most of my time in the clubhouse, at the bar.
chasing little white balls around strikes me as almost as frustrating as being around Karen.

prompts: the investor, cruelty, disbelief

chance of a lifetime, my fat white ass.
you’d have to know my brother walter as well as his family does to catch the faintest whiff of what a scoundrel he really is. i mean, he’s very slick, very charming, and as unremittingly crooked as a prison full of thieves.
and knowing all that, i bought into his latest con.
a resort … in mississippi. now, you’re thinking on the coast, beach front, gambling in the ocean breezes.
no. north mississippi, in wamaloosa county, which will never be known for anything but heat, mud, humidity, mud, mosquitoes the size of fucking st. bernards, and mud.
oh, i still take out the promotional materials he gave all his investors. i look at the photos, the blueprints, the magnificent artists depictions of the what-was-supposed-to-be …
and then i hit myself in the head with a hammer.
i didn’t invest money i couldn’t afford to lose, like almost everyone else in our family did.
i just want to hurt him.
they’re scraping together the money to have him killed.

5-6-17

prompt: Animal Farm

all animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
story of my fucking life. my mother worked in the kitchens at Bennington School, so i had a free ride at a prestigious school, starting in first grade, on through high school.
yeah, hell of an opportunity. i could  have forgotten my name in those twelve years, because all my classmates called me ‘lunch lady’ … real embarrassing for a boy. it was pretty much every ‘rich kid/poor kid’ cliche you’ve ever heard of, but worse, because when it’s you, when it’s real? cliches come with bruises and tears.
but hey, first-class education … got me a scholarship to whalen, second-tier ivy league.
well, they didn’t call me ‘lunch lady’ at whalen, but otherwise it was more of the same, while my classmates could afford a social life, my time was eaten by student work programs. what little non-study time i had left … nowhere i could afford to go, and damn few people who’d talk to me to do it with.
the exception, the blessed angel in my hell, was carla, and her twisted acceptance of me.

prompts: humility, stasis, fame

“no one can be that humble,” vanessa said, wiping her face in the hellish coastal heat.
“while i’d normally agree with you,” i said, chugging deep on my corona, “he refuses any credit at all. let his boss take all the credit for the idea, didn’t bat an eyelash.”
“probably secretly plotting to fuck the whole project, make it look like the boss’s screw-up.”
“vanny, you’re an evil cynic with low morals.”
“you’re going to complain about my low morals?” she says, caressing my leg.
“no, not complaining, simply commenting. besides, only way evan would fuck up this project is if he has a self-destructive streak. this thing goes belly-up, our whole division will be filing for unemployment.”
she studies me for a while, oddly silent, and i think about our easy habit of each other. no real commitment, no rules, we just drifted together five years ago, and to both our surprise, haven’t drifted apart yet.
i don’t understand it, but as lovely as she is, i’m not going to question it too hard, afraid she’ll wake up, and move on.

prompts: Sometimes A Great Notion

“god didn’t put this swamp here just for the hell of it,” earl said, legs swinging as he sat on the tailgate of his truck.
“yeah, but … i don’t want to kill her. i just want her to get her own damn life, quit leeching off me and carol.”
beau wished he’d never mentioned the problems he was having with his sister, bobbie kay. once earl got the bit between his teeth, it took an act of god, or hard liquor, for him to turn it loose.
“beau, i’ve seen snappin’ turtles with more sense than you. bobbie kaye ain’t never gonna get her own life. she’s stupider than you, and them two brain cells bumped  each other just right for her to figure out you and carol are easy marks. what was it she stole and sold this time?”
“stereo out of carol’s car.”
“uh huh … what lame-ass excuse?”
“needed money to pay off her visa card, and could bear to ask us for another loan.”
“so she stole the fuckin’ radio and tried to lie about it. while it was still in her purse, wires hangin’ out the side …”
“yeah …”
“slit the dumb bitch’s throat an’ feed her to the gators.”

prompts: safety, the secret, power

“don’t talk about bobbie kay that way!”
i didn’t know i could snarl like that.
earl looked at me like i’d grown another head and started performing a george jones/tammy wynette duet.
“beau, the girl’s been bad news since she fell out your mama.”
i wanted to hit him, but i know earl can kick my ass, and besides, he was right.
i couldn’t tell earl the hold bobbie kay had over me an’ carol.
it’s funny, but even here in swamp country, some things ain’t tolerated … and nobody left alive ‘sides the three of us knew about mama’s stay with our cousins in oklahoma, and the little girl she’d given birth to … long before mama had married daddy.
officially, carol and me were third cousins.
really, she’s my half-sister.
didn’t know it when we met at a family reunion, took a likin’ to each other.
third cousins … ain’t nowhere they can’t marry.
wasn’t until after we’d run off and got married mama told us.
talk about a shock! damn near split us up, that did. as it is, i just got my tubes snipped to keep us from makin’ a monster or somethin’.

prompt: Stranger in a Strange Land

i didn’t have anything left to on to where i came from, so soon as i could, i left. a lot of people might’ve done that whole ‘work/save money/finance your getaway’ thing, but i just couldn’t. i hit 18, and threw my clothes in the duffle i inherited from my uncle ed. i ran, not walked, to the highway, stuck my thumb out.
okay, there are a lot of bad stories about hitchhiking … some of them are true. i got picked up by a nasty old fucker who wanted a blowjob. i figured right then was a good time to jump out of a moving car, sprain my ankle, wrench my knee, and lose a shirt sleeve, and some skin, to road rash.
i was a pitiful sight when i limped into town.
magda’s diner was the first place i saw, so i went in, got a cup of coffee, and asked if they needed a dish washer.
magda looked to be six foot six, 80 pounds soaking wet.
“what the hell happened to you?” she asked once raylene delivered my coffee.
i debated lying to her, then decided i wasn’t going to start a new life by lying.
“he wanted a blow job, would’ve settled for a hand job, and i exited the car real sudden-like.”
“looks painful.”
“it is.”

prompt: epiphany, addiction, greed

once you’ve done a deca-hit of laboratory-grade lsd, you really don’t have any choice – your reality is going to be altered, no two ways about it.
van had hit that plateau before his sixteenth birthday, and moved on into even greater dosages of hallucinogens.
after a deca-hit, a double deca-hit. then a triple … by this point, most of us were pretty sure van wasn’t human anymore, strictly speaking.
he spoke in his own language most of the time, and if it wasn’t for a very manager of his trust fund, who knows what he would have done with his money?
i know at one time he was seriously talking about dosing the austin water supply with three-thousand gallons of pure, lab-grade acid … he said cost wasn’t an issue.
we tried not to mooch off him too much, but whether he was tripping or not, he had a tendency to enjoy good times, and to crave company, so there were about twelve of us that would be around most of the time. he called us his disciples, and there’s a picture of us doing the whole “last supper” thing – at a luby’s.
why luby’s? when he was tripping, he’d latch onto words, and thought ‘luby’s’ was the funniest thing he’d ever heard, so we ate there – a lot.

5-17-17

prompt: run, sly, horn, coquettishly (noun, verb, adjective, adverb – guess which word i supplied)

“i don’t find a life on the run attractive,” betty said. “i dream of a penthouse and a live-in masseur.”
“then you should’ve hooked up with someone who was born rich,” eddie replied. “i intend to make my fortune the american way – i’m gonna fucking steal it!”
below them in the street, car horns sang a song of rush hour through the seedy apartment’s open windows.
“don’t you want to see me in pearls, eddie?” she asked coquettishly.
“babe, i want to see you in nothing at all,” he answered, a sly look on his face.
he pulled his zippo, lit it, and threw it in her open suitcase.
“looks like i’m going to get my wish.”

prompt: haiku, using ‘robot’

robotic dancing
between thin and stained bed sheets
sex doll rendezvous

she spat out the food
“olive oil, not motor oil!”
fucking robot chef.

i recognized him
he was dancing the robot
fuck this blind date shit

from dr. rotwang,
maria of the workers,
golden seductress

prompt: “i don’t care”

you can always work in an icepick.
not just figuratively either. i’m talking jamming one into a soft spot, letting it make itself to home.
i don’t care for knives, fancy throwing stars, fucking hatchets for fuck’s sake! gimme an ice pick, wooden handle so i can take it out to the garage, use a lathe to take the handle down in size about two-thirds, still enough to hold, but not so easy to spot, you get me?
lotsa places in a suit you can hide one, with a little alteration. we got this tailor, he and his father been handling that kinda business for us goin’ on sixty years. no sense ruinin’ the lines of your coat just to carry a pick.
i like the eyes. pop ’em like fuckin’ grapes. i tell you what, i don’t care who you are, i slide the pick in your left eye, you’ll tell me whatever i want to know before it gets close to your right eye.
fuckin’ awesome.

prompt: quarry, engage, sewer, yard, perfume, retract, research

we dumped the body in the old stone quarry outside of town. bodybag elsie pilfered from the emts, two cinder blocks to weight the son of a bitch down, no more arranged engagement for elsie.
i was glad to help her. we’ve been besties since she asked to borrow my perfume in sixth grade. eau de bubble gum. i got it in some cheap dimestore makeup kit. i only wore it once, i thought it smelled like cotton-candy puke, but she loved it.
“i guess they’ll retract their proposal now,” she cackled. “no son, no marriage. i need to check out his social media, research where he might’ve run off to.”
“have i told you lately i love you?” i said.
“no, why this time?” elsie replied.
“you chose the quarry over the sewer this time.”
“well, i was younger then,” she laughed. “i didn’t know he was such a shit when i started dating him. i wouldn’t come within a  hundred yards of dating someone like him now.
“and i love you, too.”

prompt: the quick and the damned (one i came up with on the fly)

somehow, i thought it would go differently.
more fool i.
i loved her like i loved breathing – i wouldn’t live without her, either.
i loved her like i love the sun and moon – she was my light.
but if you love something, need something, you’re telling the world to take it away.
of course she knew my friends.
yeah, rick was always more charming, more handsome than me.
i was stupid enough to be happy when he’d keep her company all the times i was delayed by work.
more fool i.
i walked into the apartment, and smelled them from the moment i walked in the door. i tried to deny the smells of sweat, and sex, as i walked to the bedroom, but while i may have had some question as to the who, i knew very well the what.
ruined a lamp, killing the two of them. inherited it from my mother.
i miss the lamp.
not that they’d let me have it here.
not a lot of personal decorations in death row cells.
i don’t miss rick, or her, anymore. the years will do that when pieces of your heart are lost.
but i still miss that lamp.
more fool i.

 

listening to: “The Kyin Escape”, “Guardians of the Galaxy” score
mood: pretty good … and hungry

 

 

Speed Writing 4 -1-17

prompt: power, aversion, wrath

he was a complete waste of skin.
i still loved him, he was my little brother, but i had no delusions. i got some of mama’s crazy, and daddy’s lazy; he got full loads of both.
after his eighth trip through rehab, the court had him evaluated. he was deemed to be incompetent, and i was awarded guardianship.
he was 26… i didn’t expect him to see 27, no matter how closely i watched his every move.
i wasn’t wrong.
of course, i’m the direct reason he didn’t see his next birthday.
i was paying extra to keep an ankle monitor on him, so i’d know where he was. while i was at work one day, he didn’t leave the property.
he doused my house’s interior with gasoline, and stood in the front yard while it burned to the ground.
i live… i lived out in the country. no one close enough to call the fire department.
so, when i got home, saw what had happened… i doused him with gasoline, and cried as he ran through the ruins of my home, burning.
the official story is he died in the house fire he set. sad…

prompt: envy, rebirth, knowledge

i love the way she moves through any social circle, like she was born to it.
(first time i heard her discussing football with a bunch of frat rats, i damn near choked.)
i liked to pretend i’m wasn’t envious of her easy popularity, and smooth, chameleon-like social grace, but i was envious, and i never bothered to fortify my attempt at self-deception with action.
i just followed behind in her wake, and made do with quiet, and smiles. i was invisible, when she was around, and i was happy that way.
i had never asked her about it. i just assumed she had been born that way, as it was quite inconceivable for me to imagine a childhood that could have nurtured such an ability. it had to be nature.
whoa, was i wrong about that!
we were having High Tea at the Hotel Adolphus one sunday afternoon when she said, “Claire, we need to get you a make-over. let me schedule us a spa-weekend at ‘Deify’ and transform you. i know you’re happy as you are, but why be happy when you could be happy and fabulous?”

i need to work more on this… the idea of a spa truly worthy of the name “Deify”…

prompt: virtue, imbalance, delusion

“all truth hides behind lies.”
yeah, my grandfather was either full of wisdom or full of shit. i was too young to know which… twenty years after his passing, i’m still too young to know. i doubt i’ll ever be old enough to know.
he had lots of other pithy bits of supposed wisdom, but it was the ‘truth and lies’ one that stuck with me.
i played with theology in my twenties, almost as much as i played with myself, and i weighed ‘god is love’ against the ‘truth hiding behind lies’ thing.
made sense to me then. ‘god is love’ was the lie, or maybe the very idea of god was… but that struck me as too simple, too easy.
maybe an opposite… ‘god is hate’?
no, hate wasn’t it. hate was the opposite of the ‘like’, not ‘love’.
indifference?
god is indifferent.
that rang more true to me.
the big g, if he existed, just flat-out didn’t give a fuck.
some say adulthood begins when you realize your own mortality.
for me, the realization god didn’t give a shit was my dawn of adulthood.

prompt: gnosis, denial, industry

the greatest lie of contemporary civilization is the de-mystifying of man. “no god, no soul, nothing science can’t explain,..”
then explain this, motherfucker. hundreds of thousands of factory workers fueled the industrial revolution. a world of iron and steam, science and mechanical marvels nailed down the coffin-lid of romanticism and mysticism. realism ruled the day.
god died because we fired a shaft of purest cold iron through his heart, from a cannon the size of florida.
no.
the industrial revolution was fueled by the souls of those effectively-enslaved masses, and each one who died on the line strengthened reason’s grasp on the world.
the supposed death of mysticism was fueled by the mystic.
blood-soaked binding rituals under every factory floor.
and now, everything is poised for a return.
you lost your job to automation?
don’t worry. things will balance out, i suspect, sooner rather than later.
robots, machines, automated facilities have no soul to sacrifice, and the intellect behind their creation is a paltry substitute.
soon the soulless machines will grind to a permanent halt, and mysticism… magic… will return.

and talk about an idea i need to play with… whoa… lots of places this one could go.

prompt: misfortune, solitude, law

one-hundred-eighty-three miles-per-hour.
he briefly, very briefly at that speed, traipsed through a school zone.
lo and behold, every law enforcement officer in the state of texas was on his ass.
max prayed for now traffic congestion. he was faster than his pursuers, and hadn’t a worry in the world where they were concerned, so long as he had open road before him.
he wasn’t faster than radio waves.
road blocks appeared before him. spike strips, vehicles large and small, plenty of cops with drawn weapons, ready to shoot out his tires.
that would make his lamborghini a rolling ball of metal and fire… and his burning, shredded flesh.
still… the speed…
better to keep his foot on the gas, and die as a legend, than slow down and be just another rich asshole who bought more car than he could responsibly handle.
his sleek beast of a car wasn’t made to go offroad, and to be fair his wheels weren’t off the road for long before he was back on the blacktop, barricades behind him. his turquoise aventador still roared, no mysterious new sounds, as he laughed his way down the road.
the armadillo was beneath his notice until it was beneath his right front tire, and his motor beast began its death song.
he joined in on the chorus, as they cartwheeled, a flaming catherine wheel.

 
listening to: “Ashanti’s Letterbomb”, Dean Gray’s “American Edit”
mood: okay, overall

A Rant Upon Hooking Your Audience

so, recently, i opted in to one of those ‘Read 100’s of SF&F Books For Free!’ things.
yeah, it’s authors giving out some of their books to attract more readers, or in some cases, the first “x” many chapters of their book.
and i loaded several hundred on to my phone, and have been working my way through, checking them out, and deleting the ones i’m not interested in. a LOT of them have been deleted. a Helluvalot.
Here’s the rules for that little competition:
If you don’t grab me, in the first page, you’re outta there!
this doesn’t mean you have to start off with a lot of action, get me caught up in the rush of interesting events. you can give me an interesting character, someone i can in some way empathize with. you can hook me with an intriguing situation, one where i just GOT to know what the fuck’s going on.
but you have to grab me. you have to hook me.

and you have to be at least competent as a writer. that means you don’t mangle the language, the punctuation, the grammar, too horribly. you have to be competent. if your first page has errors (note the plural), you’re outta there.
Face it, there’s a wealth of books out there. with the self-publishing and small press revolutions… i doubt any of us have any conception of just how Mega-Many books there are out there.
if you expect to be read (by anyone but your friends and family), Be Competent.
i’m not asking for brilliance, just don’t step on your dick often enough to pull your readers out of your story. just as a competent cook can make a pleasing meal out of a set of ingredients, an incompetent cook can take the same ingredients, and waste them, making an inedible mess.
Be Competent.

and secondly, if you expect to be read… hook your audience. there are so many books calling for their attention, You Must Grab Their Brains.
you can’t open with a wealth of description about your Own Very Special Place That’s So Dear To You That You’re Sure Readers Will Love It Just As Much As You Do.
not unless you can write some of the most scintillating descriptive passages ever penned.
now, personally, i’m of the “less is more” school of description. unless there is a Very Important Reason for me to know how a place looks, or a character, don’t bore me with it.
some authors may counter with ‘the setting IS a character in the story!’ fine, but take your time introducing it to me. don’t bury me with oodley tons of verbiage about it, right off the bat.
maybe such descriptive overloads violates my ‘show, don’t tell’. you’re Telling me what it looks like, smells like, tastes like, sounds like, feels like… let your other characters show me those aspects, through what they do, how they react.
for me, characters are more important than anything. they must be alive, and while i’m not required to ‘like’ them, i must be able to empathize with something in them.
hell, in my writing i leave most of my characters relatively ‘undescribed’. the reader can decide what they look like. the reader’s imagination is my friend, and i rely on it.

so, in closing…
POLISH THE FUCK OUT OF YOUR FIRST SENTENCE, YOUR FIRST PARAGRAPH, YOUR FIRST PAGE.
make sure your first s/p/p is aimed at your potential audience like an arrow, just waiting for their eyes to hit the words, and let loose Your Best, headed straight for their brain.
if you don’t convince them to spend their precious time on the story you want to tell them… You Have Failed.
not all the way, but that’s a potential reader you’ve lost. don’t lose ’em because you bored ’em.

as always, this rant is my humble opinion. i could well be wrong, i often am, and this opinion is worth every penny you’re paying for it.

listening to: the A/C, and a dawg who’s convinced it’s Bed Time
mood: overall, copacetic

A Backlog of Speed Writing

Speed Writing, 2/15/17

prompt: ‘fork’, ‘slight’, ‘slowly’, ‘sail’

Dad’s using nautical language again, and I’m humming Mozart to drown him out.
“Raise the sails!” he bellows, while I’m humming the “Deus Irae” of his last Requiem Mass.
Both the car, and I, have reached a fork in the road.
Left to go home, and take care of him myself. Right, up a slight rise, Summer Sunset Assisted Care Facility.
“Bring us around, into the wind!”
I slowly make a right turn, and switch to humming “Don Giovanni”.

prompt: don’t remember

The priest asked to converse with me. I almost hit him, before Al told me it meant he wanted to talk.
Sure, like I’d refuse a priest. He knew my mother, might get her upset, make my life a living hell.
I waited by the door while he sent the school brats out to recess.
“So, whaddaya want?”
“My son, I received a letter for you, from your father.”
“Shut the fu… uh, you sure, Padre?”
“Yes. He lost track of your mother, but figured I’d know where she, and you, could be found.”
“Other side of the interchange,” I said. “Not that far down from where the creep left us.”
“I know, and I’d be happy to pass the letter on to you… if you’d convert. Return to Mother Church.”
“No can do, Padre. Hare Krishna for life. Fuck the clown, don’t care what he has to say.”

prompt: don’t remember

he stands by the road,
the world in opposition,
and cries, “No, you move!”

the world always wins,
grinding him down into a thin paste,
he goes down fighting

another day dawns,
from nightly grave he rises,
draws his line in sand

defeat is certain,
yet he stands, in pain, wounded,
inevitable

Speed Writing, 3/1/17

prompt: ‘industry’, ‘the Black Bird’, ‘profane’

John Calvin Carlisle had come west, looking for his fortune. Like thousands before him, he’d found nothing worth keeping, nothing he wanted to remember, and the only wealth was the wealth of things he’d have paid good money to forget.
As if he’d seen anything like good money.
In the end, he’d taken up banditry… and proved as inept at it as he’d been at everything else.
The weathered man riding shotgun on the stage had been every bit as good with his weapon as John Calvin wasn’t with his. The driver hadn’t even stopped, leaving John Calvin by the side of the trail, bleeding his life out into the dust.
He had passed out for a while, and only came to courtesy of a brisk slap on his face.
“Huuunnnh?”
“You’re in sad shape, my friend.”
John Calvin couldn’t see much but a faint shape, outlined in the glaring sun.
“Help…”
“You want help, do you? Glad to, my friend… thing is, nothing in life is free.”
“I’ll… whatever… whatever I have…”
“Fair enough.”

prompt: ‘health’, ‘gluttony’, ‘harmony’

Eight-hundred-and-twenty-three pounds… not his weight, although he was fond of the buffet at Kowloon Kelly’s Quichery.
No, 823 pounds of tumor, growing from the side of his beloved, Dolly. His wife was still a lovely woman, swollen and festering growth aside. Her “unwelcome friend”, as Dolly referred to it, only joined her arm through a five inch by two inch patch, and would have been easy enough to remove surgically… if only Dolly had believed such a procedure wasn’t counter to the will of God.
Edgar had tried to talk her into surgery – the most she’d allow were the monthly doctor’s visits.
Doctor Campion was amazed at how healthy she was, given the tumor’s size, and every month renewed his pleas to let him remove it before it seriously affected her health.
Dolly remained steadfast, believing God had sent this affliction to her as punishment for her vanity, her pride in her appearance.
Edgar, love her as he did, was sure she was crazy as a bitsy bug.
Most days, so long as she remained nestled up to the curtain shielding the growth from his view, he could pretend their life together was normal.

prompt: ‘the Counselor’, ‘the Hidden’, ‘infidelity’

“Annette, I knew you were a tramp when we first started dating, but I always thought that would change over time.”
“Stop with the slut-shaming, Van! So I see other people? So what?”
“Were you paying attention during the wedding vows?”
“You call them vows, I view them as suggestions.”
“Obviously. You have a lot of nerve referring to it as ‘seeing other people’! The private detective has film of you with eight other men, three other women, and a goddamn lacrosse team! In one week!”
“Van, you’re exaggerating.”
“I wish! Your antics with the lacrosse team? Seven hours of video. I didn’t think there were that many ways one woman’s body could be…”
“Pleasured?”
“I was thinking ‘violated’, but let’s not mince words. I understand now why you got twitchy about a pre-nup…”
“Nonsense, Van. I simply saw it as a bar to our future happiness. If you were more open to new experiences, this wouldn’t be an issue!”
“Annette, buggered by a lacrosse team while practicing my sword swallowing isn’t on my bucket list!”
“Your loss, darling. Now relax. If you calm down, I’ll get you someone nice to play with for our one year anniversary.”

prompt: ‘wrath’, ‘rebirth’, ‘envy’

I’d loved him like a brother… first mistake. I should have loved him from a distance… a very long distance… say, twenty or thirty light years.
Not loving him wasn’t an option. He was bright, funny, charismatic… not that I was a shlub or anything, but he just… shone brighter, I guess.
We’d gone through a lot together, and while I knew he’d been a backstabbing shit to others in our circle, I had the foolish belief I was different. He’d never betray me.
And he didn’t… until Sunny and I.
She and I weren’t love at first sight, more like ferret-frightening lust at first sight. Just one of those things, you know? It had developed into love. Then had come the engagement, and the wedding plans.
And the bachelor party, which my best friend planned.
Now, I’m in a Mexican jail, arrested in possession of a thousand tabs of ‘El Saguaro’ LSD.
My asshole is stretched, and bleeding, courtesy of a donkey named Pepito.
I have no ID, no money, and no prospects of getting out this side of the Second Coming.
Of Jesus, not Pepito.
And my best friend? He’s comforting Sunny.

prompt: ‘the Gamble’, ‘belief’, ‘the Mentor’

“You should consider it… there’s a real possibility for getting an ‘A’.”
“Fucking Professor Hampton is not an option, Hal. It’s a one-way ticket to getting laughed on campus. Nothing’s private, anymore – wrinkled bastard records his conquests. I’m sure sooner or later some smart young thing in the computer sciences is going to hack him, and twenty percent of the women on campus are going to become YouTube stars.
“Count me out.”
“Not necessarily, Devon. You set the terms, get him away from his office, and that mausoleum he lives in. Get him to a seedy hotel room, bring in some of boys of Pi Lambda Lambda. Compromising video, you get an ‘A’, and he gets what’s coming to him.”
“There’s got to be an easier way to pass his course.”
“You could… study…”
“Are you kidding? The course text? He wrote it, it’s as incoherent as he is.
“Come to think of it… Hal, could you front me the money for a seedy hotel room?”

Speed Writing, 3/4/17

prompt: ‘trust’, ‘wrath’, ‘the Black Bird’

It is immense, twenty-two feet tall, and dreadfully monotone.
My grandfather wanted a monument for his grave, put it in the will. As he had established our family’s fortune, the rest of us were okay with it.
He and my grandmother were very private people, very distant, so while grandmother planned his monument, we wondered what it would look like.
Came the day of the great unveiling, everybody gathered at Eternal Dreams Memorial Park… because the will also said anyone who didn’t show lost any claim on the family’s funds.
8:00 AM, it was raining, it was cold. Believe me, none of us wanted to be there, and a common thread of sotto voce conversation was the location of the nearest coffee house. They were going to be swamped once the show was over. Thirty, thirty-five of us at least…
So grandma totters up to the microphone – she got to stand under an awning.
“This is for you, Carlton. Rot in hell, you piece of shit.”
She pulls the cord…
A beautiful representation of a turd, standing on end, a uniform burnt umber color. Twenty-two feet tall…
Later, at the coffee shop, we discussed whether the cemetery would let it stand. We figured grandma has enough money to make sure they will.

prompt: ‘defeat’, ‘compassion’, ‘clarity’

No matter how many times I’ve been told ‘relationships take work’ and ‘you just have persevere’, there came that day when I realized my relationship with Eliza was eating me alive.
When she was on her meds, we were good – hell, we were fantastic.
But the meds made her feel… well, depending on the day – dull, slow, lackadaisical.
I didn’t see it, she seemed perfectly normal to me. She insisted she felt ‘wrong’. This isn’t to say she was wrong, merely that I didn’t see it.
So, needless to say, she skipped her meds far more often than she took them.
Eliza off her meds?
Manic didn’t begin to describer her… manic/psychotic was far closer to the truth. It was never boring, I’ll give you that.
We went to the theater… and she interpreted the play into dance in the aisle. While the play was ongoing. Until we were ejected, and asked not to come back.
Going to a restaurant was a nightmare. Nothing would taste right to her, and she’d disgust our server, and the kitchen, by sending everything back, repeatedly. We had a long list of restaurants we were no longer welcome at.
If we stayed home, she’d read to me, adding to the story, deleting the parts she didn’t like. So, lots of near-incoherent rambling.
And no matter what went wrong, it was on me, my fault, until the end of the world, forever and ever, amen.
I realized I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Love is great, love is grand, but I don’t feel it’s worth my sanity, or my life.

prompt: thanks to a new attendee, Clay, who constructed the prompt from found objects on the wall.
‘octopus’, ‘grave stone’, ‘noose’ 

When I was young, the land was so inviting. I’d gaze at the lights of Inniswich in the night, my head barely above the waves.
Mostly, I’d watch their comings and goings, and wonder what it would be like, to be on the land instead of in the sea.
To be dry… if I held my head out of the water for a long time, on a sunny day, I could imagine ‘dry’ felt like that, only more so.
Walking… how do they not fall down? It doesn’t seem to be a problem for them, but I cannot fathom how they manage it.
That’s not all I did, of course.
I’d sink the occasional fishing boat, just to keep the sacrifices coming – a child, given to the sea, every five years.
It’s a really touching ceremony. They bring the child out to the end of the longest dock, where they’d erected a gallows. The townspeople tie weights to the sacrifice’s feet, and then hang the child.
I can hear the neck snap, even out from shore, over the sound of the waves and gulls.
They take off the weights, put them body on a wooden raft, with the child’s name, and age, and let the tide take it out to sea.
Out to me.
So tasty.
Afterward, I wrap the bones in my tentacles, and dance them around my cave, remembering the flavors.

prompt: ‘disguise’, ‘virtue’, ‘poverty’

For a thousand days, and a thousand more, and longer still, Avanna lived in the cave outside of town, serving as their Wise Woman.
The previous Wise Woman, Laegda, had bought Avanna at a slave auction in the capital city, eight day’s walk away, and brought her to the cave when Avanna was barely six years old.
“Are you going to teach me to be wise, like you?” Avanna had asked.
Laegda had laughed, then she’d struck Avanna many times with the crooked stick that helped the old woman walk.
It was an oft-repeated scene, occurring whenever Avanna spoke. Laegda believed spoken words were slippery, apt to lie, an illusion of communication, so she used them rarely.
She slowly taught Avanna to read, and thereafter never spoke to her at all, writing Avanna’s lessons out.
All the lessons shared a common theme.
Be Quiet, and Listen.
Listen to the wind, the rain, the birds, the animals. Listen to storms, decipher the thunder.
Most of all, listen to the soft voices of her own mind.
It took Avanna the better part of fifteen years, but she learned. One day, Laegda wrote she was please. Avanna was ready.
That night Avanna killed the old woman with her own walking stick.
Avaana looked forward to the day she’d train her own replacement.

prompt: ‘power’, ‘misfortune’, ‘epiphany’

Most people don’t think a truck breaking down is a Major Catastrophe.
Then again, most people weren’t driving a Tacoma filled to bursting with uncut cocaine, their plastic packaging further protected by a tarp, spread over the load in the bed of the truck.
And most people wouldn’t be stupid enough to take such a load on a short cut through the wealthiest part of town.
You know, where the local police are hyper aware of Who Belongs and Who Doesn’t Belong.
So, Eddie Ray Perkins was an idiot.
An idiot with a load of coke, what he suspected was a cracked engine block, in the middle of Highland Hills.
The truck could definitely be traced back to him.
His fingerprints, all over the packages of cocaine, were on file after the little incident with the three hookers and the bicycle.
“Cal… c’mon, Cal, pick up the phone… Cal? Okay, Calvin, when you get this, haul ass to the corner of Evenfall and Driftwood, in Highland Hills. I have the… the package… but, uh… my truck’s broke down. Hurry!”
There was no way Cal would get there before the cops.
Eddie Ray looked at the houses on the corners around him.
Might be time for a little home invasion, recruit some help to hide the coke…

 

listening to: “Searching For A Heart”, Warren Zevon
mood: pretty mellow

Goodbye, Willa.

Lemme tell ya a story… first part will set up the second, just give it time.
Before the last half of my eighth grade year, I passed everything with flying colors. Never really needed to study. Didn’t understand studying. You were in class, right? You listened, right? Why didn’t you learn it then, like I did?
Second half of eighth grade year… well, it was hellish. Moved to Del Valle. New school. Being the new kid was being a ‘fag’. Being smart was being a ‘fag’.
‘Fags’ got the bullied every goddamn day, and got beat up once or twice a week.
I took to eating lunch in the bathroom, sitting in a stall. Might not have smelled great sometimes, but it was a fuckload safer.
(Side story – eventually, when I stopped being the new kid and stopped revealing any intelligence? I was no longer a ‘fag’… until they found out I didn’t smoke. If you didn’t smoke, you were a ‘fag’.
I started smoking, oh, you betcha. Thus started my 27 year addiction.)
So, I trained myself not to be smart. That manifested as passing anything I was interested in because it was easy – it had to be. I was stupid and I passed it without trying. (Still had no conception of studying.)
If I wasn’t interested in it, I failed. Because it was hard, and I was stupid. (Remember, studying was not an option.)
Moved back to Smithville after that stretch in Del Valle. Started High School. :: duh Duh DUUUUH! ::
Freshman year of high school, Algebra class.
Mathematics, never a big fan. Was failing by mid-year, so Ms. Baker gave me an Introduction to Algebra workbook. If I handled that, I’d get half-credit for the year.
Three weeks in study hall, I finished it with flying colors, spent the rest of the year goofing off in study hall. Win/Win!
Sophomore year, once more into the Algebra breach, dear friends!
New teacher, Willa Smith, who was also the sponsor of the school paper. Beautiful woman… and, as I was a socially awkward teenage boy, that meant I had a semi-sorta-kinda crush on her. Spent a lot of time at her and her husband Doug’s house, just hanging out. Several other students did as well. Pretty much, as long as you acted like an adult, they treated you like one. I got a lot of my appreciation of classical music from them, and our discussions ranged over almost any topic you can imagine. I used to call their house “Wild Willa’s Waystation”.
Willa and I were great friends… so long as it wasn’t that hour a weekday I was in her Algebra class.
During that hour… I was a disappointment for her, and she was a thorn in my side.
Failed Algebra, Sophomore year.
That summer, we were having a full-blown argument about something – the fact that I was furious means it was probably another “Why aren’t you performing up to your potential?” kind of thing. Very little else in those years could get me that angry.
We’d been sitting at their dining room table, and I’d had enough. I had to get up and walk away.
Willa followed me. She wasn’t ready to drop it, and followed, continuing her side of the argument.
My hands balled up into fists, and started to draw back… and I stopped myself.
See, in those days, boys and girls, there were things You Did Not Do. Period. End of Statement.
And physically threatening a teacher/adult/friend was Very High On That List.
She saw me do it, and restrain myself… and then I had this short redhead up in my face.
Willa: “Do you want to deck* me?”
Me: “Damn right I do!”
Willa: “Fine, you pass Algebra next year, you can deck* me!”
Me: :: gesturing toward her husband :: “What about him?”
Willa: “I’ll deal with him, you just pass Algebra!”
I passed Algebra my Junior year, flying colors, no problem.
Never took her up on it, of course, because there are things You Do Not Do.
(Short side story: One of the things I did in Algebra that Junior year, during the section on ‘flow charting’, was create a flow chart entitled “How to Assassinate Your Algebra Teacher”.
She loved it, gave me an “A”. See, this was back in 1976-77… it wasn’t viewed as a threat, it was just me being a smartass.)
No one was happier than her when I won an Interscholastic League Press Conference award for a story I had published in the school paper. She was a tireless supporter of my writing.
Willa was never able to inculcate in me a love of math, but I learned so much from her in other ways.
She was a friend, and a teacher who made a difference in my life.

Starting about twenty years ago, I started thinking about getting in touch with her, and letting her know how much I appreciated her, and the role she’d played in my life.
But, you know, one thing and another, life being life, never got around to it.

Yesterday, I found out she passed away back in 2015.
Goodbye, Willa. I’ll always remember you.
Time… Time’s a vicious bastard, and if you don’t pay attention, and reach out to those people you want to reconnect with, Time will take them away from you.

(* = from the Urban Dictionary.  “Deck” – To punch someone very hard, knocking them to the ground in some cases – hence “deck”, to “decksomeone as in putting them on a deck.)

listening to: snoring dawgs
mood: more than a little melancholy

Speed Writing 2/4/2017

prompts: The Prodigy, The Doctor, Destruction

They wanted the perfect child… Evelyn swore if she was going to go through the whole primal experience of birth, she’d be goddamned if she’d put up with that for less than perfection.
Ed… well, whatever Ed thought, he kept to himself, courtesy of a long exposure to Evelyn.
So, with the help of some geneticists, who had a pretty good idea what they were doing, and some absolute quacks, who talked a good game, and a metric butt-ton of money, they got little Amber.
She was speaking at six months, complete sentences by nine months, reading a month later.
Graduated high school at twelve, had two PhD’s by the time she was sixteen.
There was no stopping her insatiable curiosity, and backed by her family’s money, she went wherever that curiosity took her.
Amber proved the existence of alternate dimensions when she was barely twenty.
Traveled between them a year later.
Discovered the Elder Gods when she was 22. Three months later, they followed her back to our universe, resulting in its chaotic destruction.
She was barely 23 when her insatiable curiosity destroyed everything.

 

prompt: Delusion, Pain, Alliance

It’s quiet here… you wouldn’t think that of an asylum, but the nurses sedate anyone who makes a fuss, and the neanderthal orderlies enthusiastically help.
So, quiet. I mumble to myself a lot, but I keep my voice to a whisper, so Nurse Clapham doesn’t use the big needle again. Clapham’s the most sadistic of the lot, and has been known to perform spinal taps as a form of punishment.
State oversight of this place is a joke. The current inspector gets paid off in sex with his choice of the patients. The one before him, Mr. Hobson, I think, couldn’t be bribed… but his brake lines could be cut. Probably Vanner did it, a real gorilla of an orderly.
Vanner licks Nurse Clapham’s naughty place most nights.
I’d rather stick my tongue in a meat grinder.
I try making friends, but with old-fashioned shock treatments, and the odd lobotomy here and there, people don’t stay themselves very long, so what’s the point?
Wednesday night!
Mystery Meat Surprise! If it isn’t rat, it’s a surprise.
Maybe we’ll get jello!

 

prompts: Harmony, The Wolf, Strength

There are nights to just let it all out, and howl at the moon…
This is one of those… nothing on my schedule, the fiancee is busy, just me, some guys from work, and Mr. Jose Cuervo.
They want Scaryoke, and after a few shots, I agree. What the hell – Jose and I can do a duet!
We’re all on stage, mangling the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”, when my phone chirps at me… the chirp I’ve selected for texts from my fiancee.
WHERE ARE YOU?
Then it hits me. It’s Thursday, not Friday.
Working hungover tomorrow? Not a problem, done it plenty of times.
Missing dinner with my fiancee Valerie, and her parents?
Cata-fuckin-strophic.
Moments later I’m flagging down a cab.
“The Montclair! For the love of my ball sac, hurry!”
Cabbie looks at me strangely, but steps on it.
Formal attire, de rigueur.
I’m in my work clothes, reeking of tequila, with a fresh nacho stain on my shirt.
“Hi honey, Mr. and Mrs. Compton… sorry I’m late…”
Valerie’s giving me that look – the assassin look.
Her parents’ opinion of me is confirmed. I’m shit to be scraped off their shoe.

 

prompts: Denial, Health, Law

When we were kids, we specialized in ‘dumb shit’. If you listened to our parents, they’d swear not a day went by without us excelling at our specialty.
Bottle rocket fights? Check. Kenny fuck near burned two fingers off.
BB gun wars? Check. Took a week for the swelling around Alan’s eye to go down.
Jumping our bikes down at the gravel pit? Check. I walked funny for a week after I flipped, and tried to drive a handlebar up my butt.
Annoying the neighbors? Check. Baseballs through windows several times a month.
Mucking about places we shouldn’t? Check. Cops brought us home so many times we knew them all by name.
We paid for our indiscretions. Spanked butts, broken limbs, cuts and scrapes and the infections that sometimes went with them, glasses repaired with electrical tape, teeth knocked out… parent-teacher conferences.
We were just kids, and kids live forever… nothing was too high a price to pay for following a bad idea to its logical outcome.
The worried expressions on our parents’ faces just made we young immortals laugh.

 

prompts: The Leech, Ignorance, The Assassin

He had learned to read. He tried to  hide it, but the Bureau puts written signs up, with hidden cameras to catch the reactions of those who see, and understand.
He was good, but we’re better. It’s what we do.
No telling if he’d passed the skill on to his family, so I overrode the locks on their home, and set it on fire.
The loss of two proles, and their child… unfortunate, but necessary.
When I started with the Bureau, I used to feel guilty about such things. But one outbreak of literacy, printed pamphlets preaching insurrection, cured me of that guilt.
We had to cordon off three square miles of tenements, and burn the lot of them.
Desperate times, and all that.
Getting rid of books was easy. The rise of electronic media did most of the work for us, albeit slowly. Making ebooks disappear merely required killing the entire internet. Easy.
Now, education by cartoon, and simple stories from the highly redacted and rewritten Holy Word of the Commerce God.
Blessed are the wealthy, righteous is their every whim.
Tomorrow I’m to chase down a writer who’s been preaching an end to the theocracy.

 

listening to: the whir of my desk fan
mood: pretty mellow

Speed Writing 1-7-17

prompt: crashing a wedding

a wedding.
my ex… well, two of my exes… girlfriend, and best friend.
i don’t really need to go into details, do i?
so, no. no wedding invite for me.
and i was okay with that, i really was.
until Jose Cuervo and i had a long talk the day they were getting hitched.
i didn’t drive… saving grace, that, as i would have wrecked, no doubt about it, no telling who i’d hurt and how bad.
i was sober enough to give the Uber driver the address for the reception – her parent’s place. i figure i told her everything… it was a rather long drive. i seem to remember the driver trying to talk me out of the incredibly stupid action i was committed to.
no, i was determined. she dropped me off, asked if she should wait. she felt sorry for me… i told her that would be nice, i’d see her in just a bit.
i was quiet… subtle… stole one of the bridesmaid’s gift bags, took a crap in it, lit it on fire, and threw it on the buffet.
then… things get fuzzy… i got beat up some, that i remember all too well… but i broke away, ran out the front, and was thankful my driver was still there.
she had the door open, i dove in, and off we went.
we started dating a few weeks later.
she’s very understanding about my lack of funds – damages, still paying them off.
and i’m absolutely sure if she and i ever marry, it won’t be announced anywhere my exes might see it.

prompt: three wishes

cliched genie, pale pink, not blue, looks nothing like the one from ‘Aladdin’, or Barbara Eden, androgynous, but yeah, harem pants, small vest, sort fez-like hat.
“you rubbed the magic 8-ball. you have three wishes, master.”
“you were in the magic 8-ball?”
“i angered my previous master most grievously.”
“must have…”
“your three wishes, master? i was watching “ellen”…”
“oh… can i get back to you on that?”
“whatever… rub the 8-ball.”
so, hours later…
“you ready?”
“yes, yes i am.”
“go.”
“first wish…”
moments later, Elizabeth Warren was the Queen of the United Kingdoms of the Americas.
“second wish…”
it’s nice having a serious bank balance… twelve figures… that’ll last me a while.
“third wish…”
so, the good news – no one will ever be sick or infirm again. bad news – at some point, for no apparent reason, people will drop dead.
sorry, guys, best i could come up with. now, i have to go…
dinner date in Paris…

prompt: “Are you listening to me?”

he was angry.
again.
seems he gets that way a lot these days. i’ve tried to keep him calm, happy… but in the end, there’s only one thing that will… oh, call it ‘reset his mood’.
so i get in the van, and drive him around to all ‘those’ parts of town, and he makes his choice. it takes a while, sometimes several trips, but he always finds someone.
we stop, it’s quick, no prelude, courtesy of the drugs, usually ketamine, no fuss, into the back of the van they go.
then, in the barn out back of the house…
he takes his time… he’s a perfectionist. i watch, no matter how long it takes… depends on if he grabbed one or two.
first time, i wanted to vomit, but i’ve gotten used to it.
we’re gonna get caught, sooner or later, and that won’t go well. we might not live through the arrest process.
we turn them loose, of course. we’re not killers!
he just likes tattooing abusive police officers, full body, in interesting pastel colors.
they rarely stay with the force afterward. wonder why?

prompt: inheritance – a rug

“probably braided from the crushed hopes and dreams of her students…”
my wife was not a fan of my family… my aunt Cassandra in particular.
i hadn’t expected anything from her estate, but i’d always liked the rug in her study, and now it was mine… well, ours.
“no, the crushed hopes and dreams rug went to cousin Evelyn. this is the smart-ass comments of nieces-in-law rug. that’s why we got it.”
“it’s hideous!”
my wife and i have disparate tastes in furnishings.
“fine, i’ll put it in my office.”
“long as i don’t have to look at it…”
so, yeah, it was a pain moving my desk and filing cabinet out – i have a very small home office. the rug itself barely fit, and then it was move furniture back in. but finally, lime-green flooring disappeared under the deep and rich earth tones of aunt Cassandra’s rug.
i was working on a story late one evening, i was tired, and i wrote ‘they’re’ instead of ‘their’.
“Edward! You made an error! Correct it, immediately!”
aunt Cassandra’s voice…
fingers trembling just a bit, i fixed it.
“thank you, auntie…”
“You’re welcome. Perhaps you should go to bed, it’s rather late.”
“yes, auntie…”

 

listening to: St. Matthew Passion – Bach
mood: okay, overall

 

 

She Took No Shit…

i’ve told the story before, so i’ll give the short form…

saw the marvel comics… looked interesting (wondered why they didn’t use a better artist)
read the novelization… seemed interesting… i was hopeful
made a flying trip to San Antonio with a friend so he could borrow money from his credit union to buy a betamax vcr to record the footage channel 7 out of austin was going to show the night before
watched that brief clip (the millenium falcon fight with the tie fighters) countless times before finally going home to sleep… a little…
opening day, Capital Plaza Cinema, first (and second, and third) showing of “Star Wars”, May 25, 1977

who is this ‘Princess Leia’? cute…
and she took no shit.
not from Han, not from Luke, not from Tarkin, not from Vader (although he did make her fearful… which i always put down not to the little syringe-wielding droid, but to Vader’s cybernetic penis… and wouldn’t that have pre-dated a theme of accidental incest established in “TESB”?)
along comes “Empire”… yet again, taking no shit from anyone. you could capture her, but you couldn’t break her.
“Jedi”… the metal bikini that launched a million masturbations (not any of mine, mind you… too skinny, even that early in my life. again, cute, but not sexy as far as i was concerned). strangled a Hutt (with the help of the Force, according to the novelization), made friends with ewoks (okay, yeah, they should’ve been wookies, but Lucas was busy selling toys), and took no shit from anyone, at anytime.
a princess who got her hands dirty… wasn’t above killing…
then the gun-wielding ex in “the blues brothers”…
the nun in “jay and silent bob strike back”…
her books (oh my, the brilliant, painful genius of her books), her interviews…
Carrie Fisher took no shit.

ever since her heart attack, i had feared the worst. this year has felt like a malignancy, waiting for any chance to spread sorrow, and so, when i heard the news today, i was merely sad.
until i read this, posted by someone on the Alamo Drafthouse Wastebook feed…

“There has been a disturbance in the Force.
“RIP Carrie. We love you.”

and i fuckin’ lost it. still losing it, whenever i read it.
this year cannot be over soon enough…

listening to: whatever Dorris is watching on tv
mood: teary

Speed Writing, 12-7-16

prompt: use “hospital”, “sore”, “pace”, “lavishly”

“You’re hung over, it’s not a goddamn tumor…
“No, I don’t care how sore your head is… not a tumor, just tequila! You don’t need to go to the damn hospital!”
I pace the floor, phone to my ear, rolling my eyes at the lavishly, and obscenely, decorated bordello.
“No, I will not come take you to the ER!”
I mute the phone, and tell Reynaldo, “She’ll do… dress her in pink leather, seriously sharp spikes, and send her in.”
Unmuting the phone, “No, Vic, I’m at work, I don’t have time for your shit. Goodbye.”
Husbands… seriously more pain than they’re worth.
“Now, the next girl…”

prompt: haiku, using ‘salt’

the salt of the earth
thick veins of hypertension
high magma pressure

Judas spilled the salt,
so we dragged him out, hung him.
Christ betrayed himself

assault, battery,
panic, bloody bludgeoning,
Black Friday shopping

chili and saltines
she throws in onions and cheese.
yuck! unwashed heathen!

“don’t look back,” he said
i didn’t listen… camels
lick on me daily

marching on Moscow
naught but burned and salted earth,
war’s own welcome mat

prompt: okay, this gets confusing. pick a letter. list 15-20 words that start with that letter. write a sentence using each word. choose one sentence as title, organize others into some form of coherent narrative that works with title. i don’t think anyone, including our moderator, who gave the prompt, followed the rules. we just muddled through as best we could. i chose “J”, and after all was said and done, used the only word i’d forgotten to put in a sentence as the title.

“Jagged”
I went for the jugular.
“Mom, your marriage is a joke! He’s a talentless jack-off, a marital Janissary you’re just renting.”
“You’re too judgmental! You’re jaundiced by your relationship with that Jamaican son-of-a-bitch!”
“No, Mom, you’re a cougar. No, worse than that… a jaguar, letting yourself get jerked around by another pretty face, who was nice enough to let you rescue him from a jam. He plays the victim, and you, the needy jackass, tired of jilling herself off, takes the opportunity to bring home a little jelly for your lonely bread.”

prompt: a list of eight words, revealed one per minute, to be worked into a coherent whole

The entrance of the dungeon was rather off-putting… four impaled bodies was simply gauche! One would have been sufficient!
Not that I have all that much room to talk. The bar in my inn is so baroque, why, the naked angels alone are a visual overload!
Oh my god, would you look at that! Shackled slave girls, just inside the door? Naked? Far too much, far too soon. If I had a gun, I’d put a bullet in the decorator’s knee, then watch him crawl around in a circle.
Crystal chandelier, first actual room, over red and black everything?
Too jarring, I want to throw up just to augment the interior color palette!
Whomever’s responsible should be out front, another body for the impalement palisade.
I swear, someone got roofied by the Heinous Fairy before approving this decor!
I simply must leave. Winston, find me a route out of here that won’t offend my eyes, there, be a dear, won’t you?

prompt: two packages arrive at your door at the same time

She gave the UPS man a treat, opening the door in her sheerest negligee.
He lowered the large package with his hand truck, and, mouth agape, put the much smaller one atop it.
“Thank you sooo much,” she said, as he backed away from his bad porn movie moment.
She put the smaller package on the coffee table, then threw on a house robe to wrestle the larger one into the house, and onto the plastic sheeting.
Rika whapped the side of the 4′ x 3′ x 3′ package with her hand.
“Are you awake in there, you venomous scum?”
There was no answer…
Rika pouted. Drug doses were an inexact thing. He’d wake up sooner or later.
She poured herself another cup of coffee, sat on the couch, and opened the second package. Rika fondled the 9mm Glock.
She could wait…

 

listening to: the heater kick on
mood: kind of numb