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,
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.
“You’re in sad shape, my friend.”
John Calvin couldn’t see much but a faint shape, outlined in the glaring sun.
“You want help, do you? Glad to, my friend… thing is, nothing in life is free.”
“I’ll… whatever… whatever I have…”
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…”
“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.
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