Speed writing 7/1/17
prompt: age, alliance, infidelity
You can only shit where you eat for so long, and Carl had been shitting in Mattin Acres for over ten years.
His marriage to Wendy had ended over an affair with Debbie. His marriage with Debbie had ended over affairs with Carolyn, Sharlene, and a surprisingly long fling with Wendy.
There’d been a lot of speculation as to whom he’d marry next – turned out to be Carolyn … who he cheated on with Maggie.
There were rumors as well of an affair with Steve from Golden Weight Gym, but no one put Steve in the ‘next marriage’ running.
Sure enough, he’d married Maggie next, leading to the current state of – pun intended – affairs.
Carl’s exes had unified, perhaps even unionized, and decided ‘no more’.
Wendy, because of her later indiscretions with Carl, had to give up pride-of-place to Debbie, and it was she who led the delegation.
They ensured his silence with copious amounts of duct tape.
“Carl, if you cheat on Maggie with anyone,” Debbie said, “we’re going to come back and fix you.”
“Yes, fix you, as one would fix a pet. You’ve hurt enough people, created enough chaos, upset enough other couples. You’re balls will be forfeit if you do it again.”
prompt: empty-handed, cold wind
I couldn’t help myself, my thoughts were a mix of ‘little drummer boy’ and that O Henry story about Christmas gifts.
Things were tight at home – we had enough to live, but few luxuries, and it was Christmas time.
Evie and I had agreed, no gifts for each other, but little Victor … it wouldn’t be Christmas for him without presents.
Evie had sewed him a set of Power Ranger pajamas, those were from both of us, but what about something from Santa?
Which is why I’d taken a second job, delivering pizza in the evenings – Porkie Pies, where vegetarian isn’t an option.
The extra money would be useful in a lot of ways.
I kept telling myself that as I trudged through the stiff winter winds.
Not just a present for Victor, but I’d get a little something for Evie as well, pay off one or two of Victor’s medical bills from when he’d been so sick.
It wasn’t going to be a bad Christmas at all.
Drivers never carry much money – the young woman with the aching need in her eyes and the pistol in her hands either didn’t know that, or didn’t care.
“Money, gimme the money!”
“Ma’am, I’ll give you what I’ve got … here.”
She took the wad of cash, holding it up to count, and keep an eye on me at the same time.
Prompt: fame, illness, war
It was the Miracle of Michowitz, that’s what Time magazine called it on their covert.
Nun, local girl, had stopped the genocidal conflict with a heartfelt plea to both sides.
Okay, she got them to pause, a ceasefire, and to come to the negotiating table.
Sister Maria, formerly Strylli Vantzch, had traveled through eight miles of active war zone to get to the local radio station, dodging both militias, and begged the staff to put her on the air.
“This hatred, this sickness, turning neighbor against neighbor, is insanity.
“I have received a vision from the Holy Mother. She offers healing, an end to the hatred, for those who would call upon her.”
The station staff had thought it corny as hell, but it had worked. Both sides had agreed to meet, and Sister Mary was there as well.
She spoke of a common enemy.
Everyone thought she meant the Russians.
Two weeks later, the peace still held. The earth shook, great cracks formed in the ground, and the demons came.
Prompt: heirs of a cold war
Kids these days – they never had to worry about whether or not they were going to grow up, not like us … not until now.
Yeah, we had Soviet missiles, and ‘duck and cover’.
They’ve got demons.
People may debate the existence of God, and Heaven, but nobody’s debating shit about Hell. Too much proof, right outside your windows.
The big ones, those are a matter for the police, the military.
The mobs of babbling imps, moving through a herd of devil lemmings? Those are handled by the people.
Twelve, maybe fourteen inches tall, little claws, sharp teeth. They can’t jump for shit.
Don’t sound too scary? Put on our boots, wrap some leather around our legs, we’re pretty safe.
Except they don’t come in ones or tens or even hundreds. They come in the thousands.
I worked construction for years before I retired. We heard the sirens, the radio warnings, the cell phone alerts, I got dressed, went to where they’re widening the highway.
Got myself a bulldozer.
Little bastards squish real good.
Prompt: rebirth, stasis, lust
Men don’t talk about it. I won’t say it happens as often as sexual assault on women – I’m sure it doesn’t – but it happens. It happened to me.
I’d gotten drunk, which is no excuse, but it was part of what happened nonetheless.
The girls had indeed gotten prettier near closing time, but I wasn’t interested – it had been a long week, and I was just tired.
She was short, muscular, said her name was Patty, and offered to share a cab.
I remember giving the cabbie my address …
And then I woke up the next morning, in more pain than I could explain with a hangover. No doubt I’d had sex – it hadn’t been so long I didn’t remember what that smelled like. I was bleeding from raw spots on my inner thighs, and from my ass, which really freaked me out.
She’d left a note.
“Ray, you had a good time last night. Best case of whisky-dick I’ve ever seen. You just stayed hard. Thanks, Patty”
I’d never understood feeling hollow before, like somebody’d pulled the plug, and all of me had drained out.
I staggered to the bathroom and hollowed myself out in a different fashion.
Prompt: welcome to the creep show
Jojo the Dog-Faced Boy. Ethel the Bearded Lady. Amber the Alligator Girl. Manuel the Pin-Head.
Jimmy the Geek.
That’s me. The Geek.
We guarantee an experience – that’s what all our advertising says.
An experience …
Nobody’s ever claimed our audiences would enjoy it.
Jojo is more than dog-faced … more wolf-faced. He comes on last, with me. I distract them, biting the head off a live baby.
He attacks them like the wolf he is.
Ethel’s beard is prehensile, and she’s always hungry.
Amber’s the same – hungry, and while her scaly skin’s what they see, her teeth are what they remember – until they don’t remember anything at all.
Manuel – yeah, he’s not real bright, and his head’s deformed … he’s real angry about that.
See, the show opens, and Manuel, Amber, and Ethel do their bits, standard freakshow shit, and then they go out and wait. One at each exit.
Jojo and I turn the tip, and the crowds run screaming. They jam up in the narrow exits, and Jojo and I take them from the rear.
Prompt: trust, death, denial
We put his body up in the trees, as the Wendigo demands. Ithaqua’s a hard god, and the too-brief summer is the only respite from him. First sign of autumn, the icy winds stream through the high air, and during the weeks where the last of the warmth leaves the land, we hear him. The flicker of spring is the same, in reverse. While the land warms, he screams out the promise of his return.
And then there are the nine months of hard winter.
Vance died as many do. With the coming of night the cold grew vicious, alive, hungry. It found him walking back to the village, and froze him in place.
Candice, his wife, gathered hunting parties the next morning, but we all had a good idea what we’d find.
There he was, south of the village. We broke him loose, careful not to break him instead of ice, and carried him back.
No tears, not even from Candice. Tears freeze, and courtesy of Ithaqua, they don’t thaw – they must be picked off the skin, leaving bloody wounds.
The wind was moaning, expectant, as we put on our climbing gear to take him up into the trees.
Prompt: I see bad times today
Once he was safely tied into the high branches, we climbed down, slowly, near frozen ourselves.
Custom says those who put up the offerings get to work in the caves, farming the lichen, the pools of algae, the mushrooms.
I wasn’t going to complain as welcome warmth crept back into my bones, not even about the ever-present smell of shit. We use it as fertilizer, we use it – very inefficiently – to produce methane. That fuels the heaters in the village longhouses.
Even massed body heat and the best insulation – meters of dirt over the houses – can stop Ithaqua’s cold.
It’s unnatural, supernatural.
We keep talking about expanding the caves, but digging through rock is hard work, and no one gets enough calories to support that kind of labor.
I remember meat, before the animals froze. Not even arctic animals can survive this kind of cold.
All the way up the tree I’d dreamed of eating Vance, but Ithaqua doesn’t stand for that. One bite, and nobody would hear from our village again.
So say his priests, and they’ve been right about everything else.
They come through once a year, look everywhere, search everything, make sure we’re following the rules.
I wonder what it would be like to eat one of them, all fat and juicy-looking.
Speed Writing, 7/5/17
Prompt: aversion, industry, virtue
Some things don’t change, no matter how many years pass, or how many people die.
My family’s reunions are one of those things.
Someone’s going to get too drunk – probably quite a few someones – but at least one of them is going to get spectacularly blitzed.
Someone’s going to engage in questionable sexual activity with another attendee who could well be too close to them on the family tree.
Someone’s going to get angry – loudly, violently so – during the memoriam for family members who passed in the last year, and end up speaking very damn ill, and far too truthfully, of the deceased.
I go, not so much to get together with family as to enjoy the reunion as a spectator sport, where I know all the players.
And the food’s good.
I was working on a big helping of Aunt Edna’s spare ribs when this year’s festivities kicked into high gear.
Cousin Bootsie started a loud drunken diatribe on what a blessing straight from God our current president is.
Such a speech was probably the only thing that could have gotten his wife, Cousin Sassy Mae, to leave off trying to get into my Uncle Eli’s pants.
“Bootsie,” she screamed, heading toward him …
Prompt: living in an empty room
Robbery has a way of focusing your attention on what you still have.
After a crew of assholes emptied my apartment, I had dick, diddley, and shit.
To be fair, they didn’t take my dirty dishes, or dirty clothes.
Everything else was packed in a panel van with a fake moving company’s name on the side, and hauled off.
Hell of a thing to come home to after a hard day at work. I checked with my neighbors, heard about the movers and the van, then gathered my laundry, headed for the complex’s laundromat.
I called the cops from there.
They came an hour and a half later. They took my statement, my neighbors’ statements, looked over my apartment.
The cops didn’t seem too optimistic, and neither was I.
Hell of a time to remember I’d meant to get renter’s insurance.
Carla, from the management office, stopped by to tell me they’d be replacing my lock the next day. She was very sorry, but really couldn’t do anything more.
So, after the excitement died down, I ran the dishwasher, and posted my woes on Facebook.
Ben came over with pizza and a sleeping bag – but had to get back to Paula and the baby.
I ate, then ran down to the corner store to get a charger for my phone.
Prompt: gluttony, victory, addiction
Before the surgery.
More than a lap band, they’d implanted a device that monitored his food intake and applied a mild shock when he’d eaten enough. If he kept eating, the shocks increased in intensity.
It’s what he’d wanted – he knew, if left to his own devices, he’d slip back into his bad habits.
They’d made him sign all sorts of waivers, and the doctors had repeatedly warned him that, in his condition, severe shocks could cause him to go into cardiac arrest.
Carl had been okay with that.
It had been a hard three-and-a-half years, and being warned that the excess skin would remain hadn’t prepared him for the saggy, floppy nightmare in the mirror, but he’d done it.
After even more surgery to remove the excess skin, he was a svelte two hundred pounds.
Late at night, he’d sit in his favorite chair, and feel the six-hundred-and-twenty-three ghost pounds still hanging on his frame.
He wondered if he’d ever lose the psychic weight.
Prompt: you float like a feather
“really good drugs,” I said, watching the walls breathe slowly, changing color from green to blue to green again as they did so.
“how many words was that?” mark said, confusion on his narrow face.
I thought, counted, and replied, “three, why?”
“had to be more than three – you took hours to get them all out.”
I peered at him over my glasses, channeling my inner spinster librarian.
“you, young man, are fucked up.”
we all got the unstoppable laughs from that. I was already convinced the clocks were lying to us, so although they said we laughed for about ten minutes, I knew it had been much longer.
Mona was still giggling when she started winding up the toys with their lights and sparks, turning the loose to wander across the carpet, casting flickering shadows on the breathing walls.
Sandy said, “somebody put on some music.”
the rest of us spoke as one, reciting an old joke.
“not pink floyd!”
“no, not pink floyd,” she replied. “i’d do it, but I can’t reach the stereo.”
“sandy, you’re sitting right next to it.”
“yeah, but i’m floating, and can’t reach it … or I don’t want to break the illusion.”
“fair enough,” mark said, winding his way through the toys on the floor. “crosby, stills, and nash it is.”
Prompt: weakness, red tape, justice
Something about the way she walked reminded me of Rosalyn. Two parts piglets wrestling in a gunny sack, one part wind in the pines, one part snake on the sand.
“Are you meaning to stare holes through my thighs, or are you just lost in perverted imaginings?”
I started, momentarily surprised that anyone existed outside my memories.
“Uh, I’m sorry, I truly am. No perverted imaginings, just, well, your walk reminded me of someone I knew.”
I focused on her face. Nothing like Rosalyn. Blonde hair, not much of a chin, no jutting cheekbones.
“Still looking at your ghost?”
Damn it, could this woman read my mind?
“For a moment, yeah, I was. Again, my apologies.”
“No worries. It’s still early. Have some more coffee.”
I smiled my thanks, and motioned for my waitress.
She was still standing there, so without looking at her, avoiding Rosalyn’s reappearance, I said, “You waiting around to see if my ghost returns?”
Callie, my waitress, was pouring fresh coffee into my cup when the mystery woman replied.
“No, I’m making sure you stay in the here-and-now. You disappear from a booth in Denny’s, vanish into thin air, people are going to talk.”
Speed Writing 7/26/17
Prompt: street shops make me shifty
“I understand you had a most unusual training regimen for your running?”
“Yes … I ran to evade capture by the police.”
“No charges still outstanding I hope?”
He laughs, I laugh. To the western world it’s all one big joke.
“No. They would have had to catch me.”
Give us this day our daily bread. That’s what the nuns said we should pray … that and a lot of other things equally unlikely. The school fed me my lunch, but did nothing for my family. My mother and my brothers and sisters had no scholarship to the Christian school, and while I could live on the bland soups and old bread they fed us for lunch, they had no such option.
So I stole.
A loaf of bread here, a piece of fruit there, I’d tuck them into my good school shirt with all the buttons, tucked in to my shorts, and fly down the narrow aisles between the shopkeepers. I always saved the kabob vendors for last – hard to hide a kabob or three in my shirt, plus, even though I was feeding my family, if I got that shirt dirty, greasy … mother would have thanked me for the food, and then spanked my bottom.
And no, hit a different market every day, rotate through them, I was just another little brown child … until I wasn’t so little anymore, but by then, money started coming in through other means.
You may judge, but making drug deliveries in the slums? Easy money, and it kept us alive until other business opportunities came up.
The police never caught me, never even got too good a look at me.
And now I compete in the Olympics for my country … the country that starved me and my family, and so many others.
No, I compete for my family, and for the endorsements my winning will bring.
Fuck my country.
Prompt: fall of giants
Trials of the Century – that’s what all the media called them.
I doubt many of us thought they would lead to anything at all, let alone real and lasting change. The world had become too stacked in favor of the ‘one-percent’. All the new UN regulations on wealth distribution were merely words. Money bought power, influence. No matter what they were accused of, what court they were tried in, the rich were going to win.
Going into their trials, held simultaneously to avoid later defendants learning from the mistakes of earlier trials, at the International Courts at the Hague, the fat, sleek bastards were smug and smiling, laughing at the very idea of them being found guilty of anything. It was all an expensive joke.
I sat in Campies, my local watering hole, and watched the recaps in the evenings when I got off work. I wasn’t the only one there angry. If anyone had dropped one of those rich fucks into our neighborhood, ‘eat the rich’ wouldn’t be a button slogan anymore.
And then the first verdict came down, and they were fined 98% of their net worth.
The family ran, but their assets were frozen, and they were caught within two months.
The law was satisfied.
Even if they’d still had all their millions, we would have gotten to them. “One-percenters” forget that the odds are not in their favor.
It’s not hard to make a guillotine, and Youtube allowed us to show it world-wide.
Merely the first of many.
listening to: the snoring of dawgs