2 Minutes. Go!

Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON’T IDENTIFY AS ‘WRITERS’ – all are welcome here! Every Friday, we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom! And yes, I’m not the venerable JD Mader, but he has been airlifted to an undisclosed location, and until he can get out of his duct tape and shackles (or until we collect enough to post bail), he has graciously allowed me to play host. Just kidding. I blackmailed him into allowing me to do this.

Write whatever you want in the comments section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds … no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send ’em here to read your ‘two’ and encourage them to play. 

So, as is tradition – or at least in Mader-land, here’s my first:

You wonder what his country is like, now that the king has died. If you had gone to live with him and be his love, as he asked in a fevered, Aramis-flavored clench on the floor of a disco a thousand years ago, you wonder if you would now be paying homage by his side, clustered with the other shrouded women while the men decided the fate of the land. Or if long ago you would have been arrested for doing the things that came naturally to you: driving a car, baring your arms, stepping outside in your favorite tiny nylon running shorts for a five-mile jog. “No, no, you can’t do that at my father’s house,” he said one day, as the question hanging between us squeezed a little tighter. In the end it was not the potential limitations of your freedoms that made you turn him down; you were just too young and American to believe he was actually serious.

Thanks for stopping by! Let the writing commence!

#2minutesgo

 

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Author: laurieboris

Writer, editor, proofreader, stand-up comedian in another life.

134 thoughts on “2 Minutes. Go!”

      1. Just tagging onto Leland’s reply…and echoing gratitude for hosting (your place always smells nice, like burning leaves in a clearing surrounded by fertile woods after a gentle rain, and fine chocolate.) Nice piece, too! 😀

  1. “How is he?” the tall young man asked the hospice nurse.
    “Not a lot of change. Sleeping a lot. A little more talking in his sleep.”
    “Any of it make sense?”
    “He keeps mentioning two names. Shep, I’m guessing that was his dog? and Glen.”
    “Yeah, Shep was his dog. Glen was his brother. My uncle, though I never met him. They were both killed in an accident when Dad was in his early teens.”
    “Ah. It’s not uncommon for people near the end to remember those who have died before them.”
    “It’s funny, kinda. Dad would never talk about Uncle Glen or about Shep. Said he hated crying. Said it was his own private grief.”
    “A loss at that age must have been difficult for him. For anyone, really.”
    “Yeah.” The tall young man put his hand on his father’s hand. “It’s kind of comforting to think that maybe they’re coming to meet him, to help him cross over.”
    “Maybe so. Or maybe he’s just finding the comforting memories, trying to put things to rest.”
    Neither spoke for a while, the sighs of the old man punctuated the silence with ellipses. All at once, the old man opened his eyes, smiled, and whispered “Goodbye,” and his breathing stopped.
    The son leaned down to kiss his father, the nurse stood and left the room.
    “Goodbye, Dad.”
    After the coroner left, so too did the son. As he walked to his car, he looked at the drift of snow beneath his father’s bedroom window. There were the unmistakable footprints of a toddler’s feet, and the paw prints of a large dog.

    1. Leland Hermit takes us to an ending; a close and personal story that all of us will eventually share. When the passing can be peaceful – a comfort to those left behind – it is the last gift the departing can give to us.

      1. Ditto. 🙂 And I love this line (and ellipses) – “Neither spoke for a while, the sighs of the old man punctuated the silence with ellipses. “

  2. “Come on, I’m waiting!”

    Dana peered over her glasses at the eight-year-old boy, scuffing his toes against the skirting board. “What do you think you’re doing ordering me about,” she said, her tone flat and icy. “The last I noticed, I was the parent. I reckon that makes me the one in charge, mister.”

    Tommy pushed his lower lip out defiantly. “That’s not what Harry says. He says I can always be in charge. He says that I need to be spoiled. It’s not easy being a kid from a broken marriage. I need my constellations.”

    “Your consolations, you mean?” Dana corrected. “That’s fine for him to say, he never has to deal with the consequences afterwards. Like taking care of discipline and telling you no when he says you can have a new Autobot toy every month. How many of the damn things are there, anyway? I’m sure we got the last one last month!”

    The blonde-haired boy grinned, knowing his mom had just talked herself into buying him a new addition to his growing collection. “Thirty six – there’s four new ones this season. Everyone else has got them all already. They all look down on me. Like I’m the poor kid in the class.”

    “UGH!” Dana dug into her bag, looking for her phone. She needed to check her balance at the bank again. That man could spend her money even when they weren’t together. Damn that man. Damn him!

  3. He typed “The End” and let out a heavy sigh. Five years in the making, the first draft of his best work was finally complete. Oh sure, there would be some polishing and maybe a little rewriting, but he was sure this would be the best seller that would catapult him to fame and fortune. Fortune would be good, because he owed more money to more people than he wanted to think about.
    After the second heavy sigh, the doorbell rang. He looked at the clock. Oh yeah, the cleaning lady was supposed to start today. Ridiculous expense, but his wife insisted. Said she was tired of guessing whether the stuff around his desk was moldy food or leftover body parts from his novel. He laughed when said that. She didn’t.
    He opened the door, and two goons pushed their way in. “You got the money, sucker?”
    “Not yet, idiots, the book has to be edited and published before it makes any money.”
    “Who you callin’ idiot?”
    “Sorry, no disrespect intended. Cretin.”
    “Sicilian, if it’s any of your business.”
    The author rolled his eyes right up until the Sicilian’s friend shoved him against the wall, and the Sicilian headed to the writer’s office.
    A moment later, when he thought he couldn’t take any more of garlic-breath’s closeness, the Sicilian came back, holding a flash drive in his hands. The writer broke out in a cold sweat. “What are you doing?”
    “Well, if you ain’t got the money, then we get the book. We’ll make the money.”
    Garlic breath released him.
    “We’ll be back for money next week.”
    “But you can’t! That’s my only copy!”
    “Too bad.”
    The thugs slammed the door on the way out and climbed into their ridiculously cliched black Mercedes with tinted windows. Just as the Sicilian turned the starter over, the car blew up.
    Apparently loan sharks have enemies, too.
    The writer sat on the floor and wept.

    1. Ugh! And now we know: always opt for the baseball bat to the knees. I like my-worst-nightmare kinda pieces like this. Good job!

  4. As soon as she opened her eyes she knew this day would be different. The question was”how”? The air still smelled the same – coffee, burnt toast, his after-shave. The birds still sang the same songs. The light … ah, the light was coming in from a different direction. That meant … oh Gods, that meant she’d slept in. She leapt out if bed, reaching for her robe in the same motion, then before pulling it on stopped dead, listening. No sounds from the kitchen. Why had he not charged in, roaring in rage, fists raised? She crept to the door, eased it open a crack, then wider. Still no sound. The hair on the back of her neck prickled, as did that on her arms as tension raised goosebumps. Keeping the door propped with one foot she rubbed her arms to stop the sensation so she could pay attention. The only sound was the now more distant birdsong. She sidled past the door into the hall and crept to the kitchen. Still nothing. Back against the wall she edged her face around the corner to take a look and let out a gasp.

    There he lay, spreadeagled on the floor, not moving. She watched for a few seconds, taking in the scene, looking for signs of breathing. None. Growing bolder, she cat-footed it to the body and placed two fingers on the neck. no pulse. Dead, then. Truly dead.

    That’s when it hit her. She knew what was different about this day. Everything was the same – except… Except she was free. With that realisation a great weight lifted and, grinning from ear to ear, she danced around the corpse, singing, “ding dong, dead, ding dong dead” until she was out of breath. Still chortling, she picked up the phone and dialed 911.

  5. She pounced on his offer and crawled into bed, squirreling between the two prone forms like she owned the place. He stroked her hair for a minute, then resumed dozing, ignorant of her devious plans. The alarm went off at five and he smacked the snooze bar as if it had insulted his dreams by interrupting. Stretching, he rolled over to drape a hopeful arm over his wife when suddenly he noticed that the dog had crawled under the covers and was down by their feet. “Lola! Get out of there!” She growled in defiance – a full four-and-a-half pounds of undercover operative unwilling to surrender the warmth she had stolen in the night.

      1. I like this piece a lot. Especially this: :The alarm went off at five and he smacked the snooze bar as if it had insulted his dreams by interrupting.

  6. The conjure woman lived back in the swamp. Everett could feel the ground getting softer as he trudged toward the place, two pails swinging from the ends of his arms. One full of pullets eggs and one with yams. He hoped it would be enough for her fee. Some said she was a witch and some a sort of doctor, treating the churchgoers for measles and croup, bad crops and bad debts and a whole range of ills not easily described.
    He neared the shack, struck by the silence first, the startled by a rustle of wind chimes made out of bone that hung from the porch railing,
    She saw him first and beckoned him in. “Figured I’d have me a visitor today.” She grinned at his discomfort, displaying a golden eye tooth that hung, solitary from broad purplish gums.Everett fought the sudden urge to pee and stepped up on the porch.
    “Brung you these, ” he said. “That enough?”
    She eyed the bounty skeptically. “I reckon. What’s on your mind?”
    “I need me a woman.A particular one. I need for her to fall in love with me. You got something for it?”‘
    The conjure woman nodded. “What gal is it?”
    “Lilly Annne, ” he said. Buck Winter’s daughter I’m fixin’ to get married.” He shut his eyes as she pointed him to a chair and went to a row of shelves at the far corner of the room. He thought of the way Lilly Anne smelled of oranges and her thoughtful blue eyes and his heart swelled up in his chest until he realized he had to breathe again.
    She placed a small dark bottle in front of him. Put this in a cold drink,: she instructed. “Nehi or lemonade. Make sure she drinks it all the way down.”
    “That’s all?” he stared up at her bewildered.
    “That’;s all.” she said. ” She’ll fall in love with you directly.
    He snatched up the bottle and placed it carefully in his overalls, slipping it in the pocket nearest his heart. His knees wobbled as he stood up and the air around his shimmering with heat and possibilities.
    “Thank you, Ma’amm ” he said almost rverently. “You don’t know what this means.”
    “Reckon, I do,” she told him cackling a little as she led him to the door.
    He stepped out onto the porch and the world was the same as he ‘d left it, yet subtly,irrevocably changed.
    “Next time you come” she said as he turned to leave her. “Bring me a dollar. A silver one, too. I don’t like the paper.”
    He stared at her. “Next time?”
    She grinned catching her tooth in the light. “I expect,” she said. “Just as soon as you learn that wantin’ the gal the same thing at all as gettin’ her.”

  7. The throbbing pain awakened him. Headache. Worst hangover ever. Except he’d been clean and sober for months. First thing he noticed, without even opening his eyes, he was naked. Second thing, he was shackled to something that held his arms out straight and his legs out, too. Third thing was the extremely bright light shining through his eyelids.
    Piece by piece, a memory came to him. Night time. Walking down Market. Goons putting a hood over his head and shoving him into some kind of vehicle. He remembered his head hitting something, then nothing. He opened his eyes and cried out, “HELLO?”
    “Ah, Mr. Mader. So glad you decided to awaken.” The voice was almost British, but not quite. Not a voice he knew, either.
    “What are you doing with me? What have you DONE to me?”
    “Relax, JD — you don’t mind if I call you JD, do you? I thought not. Your virtue, such as it was, remains as intact as it was.”
    He couldn’t see anything because of the bright light, but at last the light dimmed just enough for him to see a very properly dressed man holding a feather. The man smiled ingratiatingly.
    “There, see? I’m not so scary.”
    “What do you want with me?”
    “I think you know that, JD. It’s your greatest secret, the one you swore never to tell.”
    “I have a shitload of those.”
    “Yes, but this is one you hold for a friend.”
    “I’m not talking. No matter what you do to me.” Brave words, he thought to himself, and then he heard a loud dripping noise. “What is that for? Chinese water torture?”
    “That would be barbaric.”
    “Waterboarding?”
    “That would be pointless…. and American.”
    “What then?”
    “First, we examine our asset… that’s you.” With that, the light went back to full brightness.
    He felt the feather touch his skin. It went up the side of his abdomen.
    “What is this?”
    “Appendectomy. why do you care?”
    The feather found its way to his left pectoral. “And this looks like a knife wound. Tsk tsk. So combative.”
    He gritted his teeth, refusing to say more.
    “Oh my, look at the time. We must finish this up. We have special plans for the rest of your day, and they all are on the other side of that door, the big metal one. Aren’t you just the tiniest bit curious?”
    Still he refrained from saying anything. At least the guy stopped with the feather. That was unnerving, and, if he admitted it, erotic as hell. But only because he couldn’t see it was a guy holding it.
    The shackles were opened on his feet first, then his hands.
    “Don’t try anything. I promise you, there is no escape, but there is punishment for defiance.”
    “Now, Mr. Mader, it’s time to get dressed. Here.”
    He felt a pair of underwear, then a pair of socks hit him softly in the chest.
    “Put them on, put them on! We haven’t got all day!” He complied, grateful to have even a small amount of clothing on.
    He watched the man open a door to a closet that held a lot of suits and dress shirts.
    “Here.” A white dress shirt, button-down, heavily starched hit him in the chest. He put it on. It fit perfectly.
    “How did you…”
    “We measured you while you were… indisposed. Ah, I think this Armani will do nicely.” The man tossed trousers to him, and as he zipped them up, the man tossed him a belt, and the suit jacket. And then the man handed, not tossed, a pair of shoes to him that he knew cost more than his bike.
    “Ah, you look splendid. Sorry, we haven’t any mirrors here, but you can take my word for it.” The man’s eyes raked up and down his body. “You’re sure you won’t reconsider, and tell us what we want to know? What the plot line is for Laurie Boris’ latest novel?”
    “Never!” he spat out. “Trust earned must never be betrayed!”
    “A pity. I’m afraid I have to send you through the door then. Perhaps after eight hours on the other side, you’ll change your mind.”
    “I don’t think so. What could be so horrible? You’ve dressed me up like an expensive Ken doll.”
    The man opened the door. “Good luck with your writing seminar. We’ll see you in a few hours. The panel you’re leading is ‘How to Write without Using Profanity.'” The man’s evil laughter echoed even as JD felt the man shove him into the conference room.

    [Sorry, about six times more than 2 minutes, but I couldn’t stop once I started!]

      1. lol. I love it. A few things. I am open to erotic feather tickling regardless of who holds the feather. And my virtue intact? That’s questionable. 😉

        Wait til next Friday, brother. You’re gonna have one hell of an adventure. 🙂

  8. You sit there with your metaphorical cigar (imported from Havana!) clamped between your lips and tell me what a mess I’ve made of my life. How rich I could have been if I’d done X. How much better off I’d be if I hadn’t done Y.

    Yeah, yeah. Except I would have been miserable, and everyone around me would have been miserable. And anyway, I *did* do X, and it didn’t work out for me. And maybe what I’ve done has contributed to the world in a different way than just piling up numbers in a bank account — numbers that benefit only me.

    Maybe I’ll die broke, but I still think my way is better.

  9. “Where are we going?” I asked with my most innocent brown eyes.
    “We’re going, um… to the V E T…”
    “We’re going to the Veterans’ Park? YAY!”
    “Um, no. We’re going to the V E T E R inarian.” He finished the word without spelling it. I think he wasn’t sure how to spell it.
    I tucked my tail and put my chin on the floor. Full brown eye guilt-inducing stare.”
    “Aw, there, there. I’ll take us out for ice cream afterward. After we get you fixed.”
    And then I bit him. I’m not broken.

  10. The minister droned on and Darcy tried so hard to sit still and be respectful, keep her feet on the floor and her skirt smoothed neat and tidy across her knees. Her father had only been a blip in her life, when she was small, and she remembered little except the blank spot in the driveway when he left for work and the candy he’d bring her when he returned home from trips. But coming here seemed important to her mother, not as much to pay her respects, but like God was keeping score or something. Like it made them better people for listening to this man she didn’t know talk about a man she didn’t know much better. A man from what her mother said wasn’t all that nice anyway. As the minister blah-blahed about the sacred goodness of the shepherd coming home, she bit back the sarcasm she wanted to utter under her breath and caught the eye of a boy across the aisle who seemed to be doing the same. A fringe of dark, straight hair fell across his eyes. She grinned, imagining the silky feel of it. Her mother poked an elbow into Darcy’s ribs. “Stop staring,” she said. “Ain’t I taught you better than to be so rude?”

    “He started it.” She leaned forward enough to catch a glimpse of almond-milky skin and the mischief on his face. And how he ignored the stern look of the older woman sitting next to him.

    “Well, you stop it,” Darcy’s mother said.

    Damn, he was cute. Her stomach pinched. Surely God might forgive her a tiny bit of curiosity and not mark it against her mother, collecting points for heaven. “Who is that, anyway?”

    Her mother snuck a glance, in a church-like way that made it look like she was only readjusting her neckline. Then she returned for her verdict. “Looks like trouble, if you ask me.”

  11. She tottered into the interrogation room, polyester limbs swishing. She clutched her knitting bag close, her purse even closer, to the leaking barrel-shaped torso. The sergeant was genial, the rookie noted too-small feet. The woman sat down with the finality of a symphony’s end. When the fabric stopped swishing, the rookie set down the coffee cup he’d been holding for an eternity and, relieved, he left the room.
    “Now, ma’am, you say you haven’t seen your husband since the fourteenth of July?”
    “Yes. I remember the day perfectly. There was a break in the humidity so I’d decided to do some gardening. Augie came out behind me. Seems he’d had the same idea. We disagreed about the tomatoes.”
    “Did you and your husband argue?”
    “Oh, never! We simply disagreed.”
    “And how long did you spend in the garden with your husband?”
    “Well, let’s see. He’d jumped down ahead of me to prune the tomatoes, which, by the way, did NOT need pruning.”
    She stopped to look down at her hands, realized she’d been knitting air and stilled them.
    “Ma’am?”
    “Oh, where was I?”
    “Your husband was pruning the tomatoes. And then what happened?”
    “Well, like I said, they didn’t need pruning, and Augie kept on pruning. And pruning. And pruning.”
    “And then what happened?”
    “Why, I went to the shed and got out the hedge clippers.”
    She looked up at the sergeant incredulously. He cleared his throat.
    “What happened after that?”
    “We never disagreed again and the tomatoes have never looked better.”
    She hoisted her knitting bag onto the gray steel table, unzipped the top and held it open for the sergeant.
    “See?”
    The sergeant blanched and staggered backward, a trembling palm covering his open mouth.
    “What is it, Sergeant? Haven’t you ever seen gray-haired tomatoes before?”

  12. The shooting stars were brilliant tonight. I counted 32 in less than fifteen minutes. Remember the first time I took you to the mountains to watch the meteor showers? We counted 1000 before we decided to share our sleeping bag, that first time. You got angry with me because I kept counting while we made love. And then you counted, too. So many nights filled with stars.
    I turned to put my arm around you tonight, and I grasped only cold air.
    You have a better view of the stars now. One day I will join you.

  13. “I’m afraid this isn’t a good time,” Jerome said.
    “It won’t take but a minute, sir.”
    The disembodied voice at the other end of the line sounded so small, so fragile that Jerome feared the telemarketer would shatter at the sound of his hanging up on her.
    “Well, alright,” he said. “What is it you’re selling, dear?”
    “Oh, no, sir. This isn’t a sales call. I’m calling from the Fraternal Order of Wounded Veterans,” she said with renewed but false vigor.
    “Aren’t those two separate charities?”
    Jerome heard an embarrassed “ugh” on the other end.
    “I’m so sorry, sir. I…I…oh my! I’m not even sure WHERE I’m calling from.”
    He heard frantic keyboard clicks now and a fuller picture of the harried solicitor took shape in his mind.
    “Miss?” he asked.
    “Yes, sir. I do apologize for this…this.” It was the sob in her voice that urged him to hold the line.
    “Miss?” he asked again, softer this time.
    “I’m so sorry. It’s just that I work for multiple charities, making phone calls from home. Sometimes I get them mixed up.”
    “It’s alright. But, isn’t there perhaps a better job out there for you?”
    “Out there? I’m sure there is. I have to stay home to care for my ailing mother, a toddler, and an infant. My husband’s salary isn’t enough.”
    “I see. That must be very difficult for you,” Jerome said.
    “It is.”
    “If I make a small donation, will you get a bonus or something?”
    “It would help me make quota.”
    Jerome looked around at his shabby studio apartment, at the sofa he’d found in someone’s garbage, at the small clothing pile containing every stitch he owned, at the battered guitar he sometimes took out on weekends to earn grocery money at the Atlantic Ave station, and finally, he looked at his wallet that contained his driver’s license, a pathetic pay stub, and the one credit card he kept for emergencies only. He picked up the wallet and plucked the card from its battered, nylon pocket.
    “Okay, then. You pick the charity,” he said.

  14. “I don’t know what to do,” she confessed in a shaky voice with tears running down her face. Some people cry prettily, Vanessa was not one of them.

    “Do you have a plan?” her boyfriend asked with a sigh. She shook her head.

    “I can’t stay and I can’t go,” she whispered. “I moved forward too soon. But it’s the strangest thing.”

    “What is?” he asked, as he pulled her into his arms and rested his cheek on her hair.

    “I can’t shake the feeling that I’ll pull through,” Vanessa confessed. “If I just hold on long enough, if I just keep looking for the right opening and believing in…I don’t know what. In myself, in the world, in the fact that there is something or someone out there that wants me to succeed? If I just keep trying it will be okay. But everything I know tells me that is crazy.”

    “That, sweetheart, is faith,” he said, planting a kiss on the top of her head. “And that’s why I love you.”

  15. He grinned at her from across the lobby, and she blinked in response. It wasn’t a code on her part, it was shock. He was looking at her like he knew her, like he was happy to see her. That wasn’t possible.

    Then had met ages ago at a concert. He was on stage, she was in the first few rows, crying like a baby. They’d actually talked a few nights later, on his birthday, and connected. But he was a guitarist and cute and young and so damn talented and friendly. He shouldn’t remember her after all this time. He really shouldn’t be happy to see her. She was a nobody. She was nothing. And he was a God.

    Apparently no one had told him the score, because he walked right up to her and told her how happy he was to see her, then he pulled her into one of the best hugs she had ever gotten. He hugged with his whole everything. She let him, she loved it. She didn’t think this was going to be a Cinderella thing. He wasn’t going to rescue her from her life, but she knew that her world would be a little bit brighter while he was in it.

  16. I’m much taller than this. What you see is my waist at ground level not my feet encased unseen beneath this quicksand, this syrupy stir of deathtrap, drawing me down by degrees.
    What you’ll most likely notice for a short while anyway will be my bearded chin and then a trembling upper lip and quivering nostrils like tunnels bracing for the onslaught of stormy waters. Finally you’ll see this balding head followed by the calmness of quicksand, a bubble or two perhaps to signal my crossing from one world to the next. I hope there in the new life a helping hand will pull my soul free.

  17. He loped through the bedroom door, half conscious from the long day. With pupils focused on the bed, the peripheral unconsciously caught the hands on the clock–12:30…again. “Another eighteen hour day.” his mind slowly processed, while callused hands stripped away his outer layer of clothes, as though working independently from his mind. The room was cold, but he didn’t notice. With white long johns and a red thermal long sleeved shirt, he fell on the bed, grabbing a handful of the comforter and rolled over, pulling it on top if him in one fluid motion. His head hit the pillow, and within a moment he was drifting into subtle repose, when the spark of an epiphany ignited. In all of his years, this had been the very first time that his head laid perfectly on a pillow in unmatched comfort, without having to monkey with it. Not a pull, fold or even a twitch. His eye’s–though closed–began to slant from the tightening of his cheeks as they struggled to reel in a smile from the haggard ocean that was his face. “It was a good day.” he reflected, and with that, he was out. Minutes later, he found himself at the helm of the forty foot schooner, gliding tranquilly across a sea of glass and thought, “I knew this thing was going to worth building.”

      1. Thanks, guys. This is my dream. This summer I want to start building a boat. I know, I know, it’s a bit ambitious. This year I’m building a small one. Next year, however, I want to start building a huge one. It’s good to have dreams.

  18. Officer Koharski knew it was a dangerous beat when he took it. Partly because of the extra hazard pay, partly just because it was exciting, and he wanted to prove himself, that he could handle anything the streets threw at him. But he was in for a bit more than he bargained for.

    That part of Oakland was now notoriously dangerous. He patrolled the streets four deep, rather than the usual two: Sergeant Logan went down first. One CRACK of a rifle dropped him in his tracks. Seconds later, McMahon went down. Before Koharski could determine where the shots were coming from, he and Jefferson were surrounded by mean-looking armed youths: two young black men trained rifles on their heads, while two skinny white boys closed in with pistols.

    As they approached, the taller one with the spiky hair snapped, “On your knees, piggy! NOW!”

    Terrified, Koharski dropped to his knees, hands behind his head. He could barely help crying. He cursed himself, that hazard pay wasn’t worth this. “They should just bomb this whole neighborhood,” he thought, as the riflemen closed in.

    Jefferson entreated, “Please don’t do this, man, from one brother to another. I got a wife and kids, bruh, I’m just tryina do my job…”

    One of the riflemen snapped back, “Don’t ‘bruh’ me, nigga. You ain’t down. You ain’t one of us. Ya ol’ Steppin’ Fetchit-ass nigga. You on the payroll, you been bought and paid for. These white boys with they Glocks on ya dome, they my brothas.”

    The boy standing behind Jefferson stepped aside, as the rifleman continued, “Your wife, well, she made a bad call,” before firing one decisive shot into Officer Jefferson’s forehead. Koharski just struggled to remain composed, while they looted Jefferson’s body for his gun, ammunition, and gear, before slapping his cuffs around Koharski’s wrists. “Let’s go, fuckstick, we got a place to put you.”

  19. It was a landmark day, in Luanne’s life, when she got to delving into the deep web. She was always one of the more tech-savvy of her peers, but this was an eye-opener. She thought she and her peers were struggling alone against the monolithic power structure they knew as The System. It was a tremendous, joyous relief to learn that, lurking in the seamy underbelly of the Internet, there was a whole network of other young people who were actively resisting those systems of authoritarian control.

    Within minutes of introducing herself, she was getting encouraging responses, such as: a very polite white boy from Minneapolis offering to furnish guns, ammunition, and other hard-to-acquire equipment at dirt-cheap prices; a pretty, well-dressed bi-racial girl from Los Angeles offering to help her design propaganda; and several tough-looking young black men from Detroit, Atlanta, and Chicago expressing interest in coming out to San Francisco, if they needed extra hands to “do some dirt”.

  20. THE MAN ON THE CLOCK

    We found him in bas relief on the face of the giant tower clock, impaled by its long dark hand that carried him lifelessly minute to minute. From the street below we wagered pocket change what precise moment the bloody hand piercing the bloody fool would release him.

    From the crowded plaza, we watched the creaking minute hand pass 12, then 1, 2, 3, and 4. To spare any further lives, we cleared a soft landing, a bed of loaded garbage bags from a nearby hopper. Then at 6:25, the man on the clock plummeted like a wingless bird, the dead man who had tried in vain to hold back time.

    We all agreed he had done enough harm to render this a hardly forgettable summer afternoon.

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