2 Minutes. Go! Road Trip Edition

Come on-a my house, my house, I’m-a gonna give you candy… Well, not so much. But I have something better. I’ve got JD Mader chained to a radiator in my basement and he’s letting me host the luau today! So…

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 for JD! (Jeez, I hope nobody can hear him screaming down there.)

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. 

I’ll start us off…

———

The doctor slips the SIMM card into your trembling palm. Amazing, how small they can make them these days. Not like the prototype the researchers had nicknamed “Das Reboot,” clunky with chips that needed re-seating every year, the video chattering and breaking down. You turn it around in the light.

“Nice, huh?” He crosses his arms over his chest, like he built the damned thing, like he ground the rock into silicon dust and poured the molds. It is impressive, though, but—

“And these are…” You suck in a breath. “Authentic memories?”

“Well. Given the state of the technology, as authentic as we can code. But I’m confident you’ll find that once it’s installed and the software is uploaded, the random selection of stepping stones from your life will equal or even surpass the significant memories the average person can access.”

You level your gaze at him, one question on your mind. His quick glance to his shoes tells the story. There is no guarantee that you will remember Eddie. Not the first time he smiled at you, the goofy look on his face when he asked you to dance. It’s all been fading away so fast. Already you can’t remember certain things. You know there were children; you can see that from the pictures. People tell stories about him, but it’s like they’re describing a television show; it doesn’t hook into anything that feels real, that feels like at some point, you were actually there.

“Tell me straight, Roger. All these years between us, you owe me that. What are the odds?”

He shook his head. “It’s not good, Lucy. But it’s something. I can get you on the schedule for next week, if the possible outcome is enough to hang your hat on.”

Your eyes ping wider. He wore a hat. Or at least you think he did. “Yes.” The smooth, cool device in your palm seems to sing to you, old lullabies, crooning in your ear during that first dance. “Sign me up.”

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75 thoughts on “2 Minutes. Go! Road Trip Edition

  1. Lynne Cantwell says:

    Here and not. There and…not.

    The offer, almost a promise, dangled by a manager: Come out and help us set up the new office! We know you love the city — you told us you want to work there! Jobs are posted, we need the help — come on!

    I came. Went. Went come and came back again. Weeks went by. Months. Still no word on the permanent job.

    And then other people get hired for the posted jobs, but still: Come on out and keep helping us with the new office! Everybody loves you! Everybody thinks you’re doing a terrific job!

    Yeah, so, if I’m doing such a terrific job, how come I don’t have an offer?

    It’s a delicate dance at this point. I still want to go, but no one will tell me what’s going on — but going off on somebody would likely scuttle my chances permanently. And the carrot’s still dangling: Maybe this one last job opening. Or maybe in the next wave — hey, we’re still building out the office! Thirty lawyers by the end of the year! Everybody loves you…and you’ll always have a job at the home office….

    Come on. Are you just yanking my chain? Do I get the job or not? Yes/no, people. One syllable is not that hard.

  2. hermitdog1 says:

    She was, of course, unambiguously, unequivocally, undoubtedly wrong. I never wanted, never needed a dog. I was a cat person. The woman at the shelter looked at me with sad eyes when I told her.
    “But you are so friendly. I just know you need a dog.”
    Her eyes undoubtedly looked the same before she led the unadopted and unadoptable dogs and cats to the room where they met their ends.
    Euthanasia. When I was a child and heard the word, I thought the adults were talking about sending the dogs and cats to kids in China.
    No. I didn’t need a dog. I needed a cat. So she led me down the corridor. The cats feigned indifference, having been looked at and overlooked so many times before.
    Her cell phone rang. She turned away from me.
    “I see. Yes. Of course. I’ll be right there.” She turned back to me. “I’m sorry. There’s been an odd situation. I must go—”
    “Well, I’ll just keep looking—”
    “Oh, no, I’m afraid I can let you just wander around the shelter alone. It’s against policy. If you’ll just come with me, this will only take a moment.”
    She led me down a hallway away from the cats, away from the dogs. In fact, the shiny white hallway had no animals in it at all. At last we reached a door, and she instructed me to wait.
    She took a deep breath and went through the heavy door. It didn’t quite latch, so I overheard her conversation.
    “How could this happen?” she asked.
    “I don’t know. I gave the recommended dose, and nothing happened. Then I gave a second dose, and still nothing happened. It’s like he—”
    “There must be something wrong with the medication.”
    “It’s worked for all the other animals I’ve had to put down this morning.”
    “Well, let’s try a different batch. He—for heaven’s sake, hold on to him!” The last was screeched just as the door was forced open and a black nose and golden eyes peered at me.
    The woman pushed the door open the rest of the way. “Sorry. I’ll be just a minute longer.”
    The dog, a black Lab mix of some sort, only had three legs. The woman pulled on the collar, trying to get the dog back into the room with her. The dog was having no part of it.
    Impulsively, I shouted, “I’ll take him. I’ll adopt him.”
    Now both the dog’s golden eyes and the woman stared at me.
    “You’re sure? I’m not even sure he’ll live after two doses…”
    “I’m sure. It’s a sign.”
    After a couple of hours of filling out forms, and a second evaluation of the dog to make sure the dog wasn’t going to die from the attempted euthanasia medications, I took Trey home.
    Trey settled in immediately. He was housebroken and he even liked the same movies I did. She was right. I am a dog person.
    The next day, I was telling the story to my secretary at the office. She exclaimed, “That’s exactly what happened to me and to Iris, my Golden Retriever!”
    And then I knew. Some shelter attendants will do anything for their dogs. Is it lying if you do it for love?

  3. Joseph Hesch says:

    We were on the road to Amsterdam, my girl Susan and I. Actually, we were on the road to Rochester, but I’d never been further west than Amsterdam, so that’s where I drew the line. Beyond that was international waters.

    I was driving my my old man’s ’63 Monte Carlo to make a visit to where I was going to go to college. We were zipping along in the morning darkness and listening to the radio, when she turned to me and said, “You’re going to leave me after this, aren’t you?”

    “This trip?” I said.

    “If not this trip, Kenny, then when you finally get to college. When you finally get out from under your parents’ thumb, get away from high school and from me. Get away from me and have all those older girls out there looking for someone to replace their own college guy. Pluck you right at the first beer blast.”

    My cheeks got all hot and I just started blurting, like she caught me actually doing it.

    “How can you say that, Suse? You and I have been a couple since you were in ninth grade and me in tenth. I’ve never even looked at another girl that way since then. I’ll be coming back home at the end of September. Write you twice a week. Call you more than that, if you want. I mean, c’mon, what have I ever done to betray your trust?”

    She sat way over by the passenger side door, staring out at the trees and the Mohawk as we cruised by. I could see her reflection in the window and she was crying, quietly, but crying.

    After another five or so miles, she whispered in a crackly little whisper, a broken pice of china whisper, “You promise?”

    “Of course,” I said. “You’re the one for me, Suse. Just like I’m your guy. Now don’t you worry. Why don’t you come on over here by me? We’ve got a couple of hundred more miles to go and I want that to be the only distance I have to worry about today.”

    She slid on over and everything was pretty much like it always was again. And when I left home for college, she came along with my folks to move me in. I wrote three letters to her that first week. Called three times, too. And when the first beer blast came, I hung with my guys and never even sniffed at the bait those sweet western New York girls were leaving out for me to bite.

    And when the second beer blast came along came along, I took Gail Sajak back to my room and we did what we promised our “others” we’d never do when we left them home. And I didn’t feel the least bit guilty.

    That’s because my sweet Suse sent me that letter that said:

    “My dear dear Kenny, How are you? Senior year is something else. We’ve had our first game and then a Friday night dance. I don’t know how to tell you this, but… Do you know Tony Musella?”

  4. Leland Hermit says:

    A Denver rainstorm is like kissing the geekiest nerd in high school: It starts off cold, sometimes advances to sloppy, and only rarely finishes off with electricity.
    I need to get home. Another meeting that ran overtime. Halfway to the parking garage, gray clouds turn black and let loose a flood of rain. I have no umbrella, no raincoat.
    I see the old fashioned sign. Its flickering neon letters buzz, and cast an otherworldly glow to the three steps that lead down to a massive wooden door.
    What the hell. I’m already late, I’ll step in here till the rain lets up.
    Thunder booms outside as I step through the door into the familiar warmness of a bar. I wonder why I never noticed this place before. The bartender smiles above his well groomed goatee and gestures to an open seat at the bar, which was easy because they were all unoccupied.
    “Sounds like a downpour out there. What can I get you, Leland?”
    I stare at him. “Do we know each other?”
    “Yes and no. I’m every bartender who’s ever listened to your stories, and you’re one of the few customers who actually listens to the folks behind the bar.” He sticks his hand across the bar and introduces himself. “Seth.” He looks me in the eye. “I’m gonna guess it’s Jack Daniels tonight. Am I right?”
    I nod, and I sit on a bar stool. Red naugahyde, or maybe real leather. I’d know when I got the tab for the evening. Two shot glasses appear almost like magic on the glossy wood surface. “Two?”
    “What kind of bartender would I be if I made you drink alone?”
    We each pick up a glass, clink them together, and drain them.
    “To sunny days,” he says.
    “To remembering umbrellas.”
    “I can make you a drink with an umbrella…”
    “Yeah, maybe not.”
    We chuckle. I look around the place. Long bar, mirror behind it, sparkling glassware and half-full bottles of promises and regrets on invisible shelves. Heavy red velvet drapes on the windows. There are a few booths on the wall opposite the bar, their benches covered in a glittery gold vinyl. The chairs around the two-top tables have the same red leather or vinyl as the barstools.
    The sconces on the wall, and the lamps on the tables feature shades with red brocade, and lots of red fringe. Seth watches me take it all in.
    “Yeah, I know. Early 19th Century whorehouse.”
    “I didn’t say anything…”
    “You didn’t have to.”
    The place is empty, except for Seth and me, and a lady sitting at a table in the corner, a lady whose dress is the same shade of red as the lampshades, a shade of red that should clash with her ginger hair, but manages instead to complement it. And the dress… the dress reveals a décolletage that surely inspired the 23rd Psalm’s “valley of the shadow of death” reference. I turn back to Seth and raise an eyebrow.
    “The ‘lady in red’ prefers her privacy. Never a good idea to disturb her.”
    I sneak a look at her in the mirror behind Seth. For just a moment, her eyes lock with mine. In that moment, those green eyes, I could swear I know her. But she is already reading her book again.
    “I think the rain has stopped.”
    “Yeah? And how would you know that, with all these drapes in here?”
    “You tend bar for a while, you know a lot of things.”
    “How much do I owe you, Seth?” I ask as I gather my things.
    “This one’s on the house, Leland. Just promise you’ll come back.”
    I leave a five on the bar. “I will be. G’night, Seth.”
    I step outside. The air is fresh, and the street is clean. There is a kind of electricity in the air, maybe from lightning, or maybe the buzzing neon sign, I don’t know. Or it could be that someone kissed the geekiest nerd, and it turned out to be magic.

  5. Joseph Hesch says:

    ​“His father’s father was Métis, you know…rode with Riel in ’69. And his father fought with Dumont at Duck Lake and Batoche in ’85,” Sheriff Hank Reynolds said as he pulled the glasses off his nose after reading the arrest report.
    ​“That may be so, Sheriff, but it doesn’t give Liberté Beaubois license to ride into Montana, hunt protected buffalo and take a couple of shots at my head. Does it?” asked Reynolds’ new deputy, Linus Philkin.
    ​“Shoot at you and the buffs? No. Ride a free man in a world without stiff collars sniffing his every turn? That used to mean something round here.”
    ​Reynolds wiped a few drops of coffee off his graying moustache and walked back to the holding cell, where he stared at a buckskin-clad man sleeping on the floor, face to the wall. Even though Beaubois was lying on a mattress he’d pulled off the cot, Reynolds recalled seeing that back wrapped in bedroll across many a campfire, almost too many years before.
    ​The sheriff rubbed his hand across his bald spot and recalled wind blowing his hair when he, Liberté and some Piegan boys from over Milk River way would ride hell-bent for election from Mounties or chased buffalo that would wander onto his father’s place. That was in the days before the Somme, before Liberté came home with a Victoria Cross and Croix de guerre in exchange for his childhood, an eye and, some said, his mind.
    ​“I’ll take care of this,” Reynolds said.
    ​“You going to ride him out of town and give him one of those ‘don’t come back’ talks like you gave those hobos last week?” Philkin asked.
    ​Reynolds rubbed the sores on his knuckles and nodded.
    ​“Something like that, yes.”
    ​Reynolds half-carried, half-pushed his prisoner into his Ford pickup truck. Beaubois leaned against the window, his breath forming a white cloud obscuring his dark face. Reynolds walked Beuabois’ buckskin gelding into the trailer behind his truck, snugging it to the chain next to his own bay.
    ​“You looking for any more trouble, Liberté?” Reynolds asked he and his charge trailed a tail of dust from Chester up to Hank’s father’s old place outside Whitlash.
    ​“No, Hank. Just don’t want no more nightmares, no more have-tos, no more cops telling a free man what he can and can’t do. I had enough of that in their schools, their army, their hospitals and in jails from Calgary to your little pokey. And that’s the last place I wanted to be. Honest to God. You know…” Liberte’s voice trailed off.​
    ​“I know how you feel, bud,” Reynolds said, stopping the truck as it crested a hill. Below them about a dozen buffalo grazed. “I’m tired, too. What say we wake up some ghosts?”
    ​The two men slid from the truck and limped to the back of the trailer, where they saddled, mounted and pointed their ponies north, kicking them down the rise and toward a place where they knew dreams were made and nightmares were still just scary stories around a campfire. All the while Hank Reynolds and Liberté Beaubois howled like twelve-year-olds, chasing shaggy memories through the Sweet Grass back into more than Alberta.

  6. Leland Hermit says:

    At the end of a gravel road in the panhandle of Nebraska, there is a cemetery. The locals call it boot hill. You get out of your rental car (why are they always white?) and walk past the fence posts that once held barbed wire, and now hold only memories. Each post is capped by an upside down boot.
    You remember asking your daddy why the posts wore boots when you came here those many years ago. Your daddy explained that they kept the water off the posts, kept them from rotting. Then he looked you in the eye and he said, “Besides, no one wears a dead man’s boots. Gotta do something with ‘em.”
    You didn’t wonder, till years later, why you even came to this place with him. What was a six-year-old boy doing in a prairie cemetery, where each clump of grass held the promise of a rattlesnake?
    Now you understand. You yourself flew halfway across the continent to be here, to do this.
    It’s Decoration Day, the day you tend to memories and to graves.
    The first headstone you see, that’s your uncle’s. He died in World War II. Next to his, a little marble lamb, an uncle you never knew, who died before he turned ten. And then, you see the freshly turned earth.
    “Hi, Daddy. I’m here.”
    And in the sough of the harsh Nebraska wind, you think you hear him laugh.

    • Maggie Rascal says:

      It took me a while to be able to comment. I recently visited my parents’ gravesite, for the first time since my mother’s funeral in January. What affected me, more than anything, was the fact that her side of the plot is still bare. Like that tiny patch of grassless land, the wound of losing her hasn’t yet healed.

      • Leland Hermit says:

        so true… when I saw the same thing at a friend’s gravesite, I took a handful of grass seed along… it is, as you say, a wound waiting to be healed…

  7. Daniel says:

    Sometimes, there was peace to be had in the desolation of the ghetto. Between the raging parties, interpersonal beefing, criminal hustling, and conflict with law enforcement, the quiet times were savory. Tim sat on the ratty living room sofa, smoking a joint. He had taken in a friendly stray cat, a mackerel tabby which he named Tifa, after a character in a video game. Tifa purred in his lap while he watched TV. She had a penchant for bringing him dead and injured prey items; mice, squirrels, pigeons, and the like. Of course he had no use for them, but he stroked her furry head and cooed, “who’s daddy’s little killing machine?” He fed her almost every day, she probably didn’t need to kill so many smaller animals.

    But he could relate. Beneath all his human pretenses, living in an oppressive society with an exploitative economy, he was just an animal too. He fought because he had to, because he feared what would happen if he didn’t. Sometimes it felt bad, when desperation forced him to prey on the weak. But sometimes it felt really, really good, when he was able to take from those who had plenty rather than those who had barely enough, or to lash out at the power structure that doomed him, and everyone he cared for, to soul-crushing inescapable poverty.

  8. Maggie Rascal says:

    Social media. It’s a strange place.

    A place where an apology can result in being blocked by a so-called friend. Where mention of something proposed an ocean away can trigger an overreaction so extreme that the guy who always seemed so nice and normal now comes across as a complete nutcase. Where people who meet in person for coffee every week can get into such a heated disagreement that they end their friendship — over a movie.

    But it’s also a place where people meet, become friends, and sometimes fall in love.

    It’s a strange, wonderful place. A strange, scary place. A strange, sad place.

    Mostly, it’s just a strange place.

  9. laurieboris says:

    Women and their pocketbooks—Earl just didn’t get it. His regular job was in the shipping department. But he needed the overtime pay, so if he had to stand in the steaming hot warehouse and run the cash register while ladies went gaga during their quarterly clear-em-out sale, he’d do it. Hell, maybe he’d even meet someone. He’d been kind of rattling around the house since Betty left him, for a guy who could afford better than the overstocks and irregulars that were moving through hand over credit card.

    A gaggle of handbag-clutching women had formed around Mary Ellen’s station—she had one of those sunny smiles that fairly screamed “let me help you”—and he remembered his training. Keep your hands clean, say yes ma’am, no ma’am, please, and thank you. And keep the line moving.

    “Can I help the next person over here?” Earl said, shooting his best grin to the next woman in line.

    A pretty little thing with wild red hair perked up, almost as if she didn’t believe he’d been talking to her. She inched over and deposited an armload of bags on the table. “Well,” Earl said. “Looks like you found a few things, huh?” It was their best-selling model, but that color hadn’t sold too well, so the big boss said they were dumping the lot of them during the warehouse sale. The shade had some kind of fancy name, but it looked like plain old brown to him.

    Her smile fluttered. “Guess I’m just lucky. You guys make the best bags.”

    “That’s what the ladies tell me.” He counted through and started ringing them up. “…and that’s fifteen items altogether. Wow. You remind me of my ex.”

    Her eyes widened, and he realized that could have been taken in a bad way. “Not like that,” he said with a little chuckle. “When she found a good thing, she’d go back and buy, like seventeen more, stick ‘em in the back of the closet.” In fact, he was still finding a thing or two: pantyhose, bags of tennis socks, tank tops.

    “Sounds like a practical woman.” The redhead jerked a glance toward the door.

    “Sorry to be a little slow. I don’t run the register every day.” Damn. The little machine flashed “declined” at him, and his shoulders slumped. He hated this part of working the sales. Especially for certain customers. The bitchy ones, he didn’t care so much. But she seemed so nice.

    “You got another card?” he said. “There’s a little problem with this one.”

    But then her lower lip began to tremble. Even with his limited experience with women, he knew what was coming next. “Aw, don’t cry. Please. Look. These bags don’t cost much.” He pulled his wallet. “Tell you what, I’ll get ‘em.”

    The wet blue eyes beamed up at him. “Really? You’d do that for me?”

    “Sure. Why not?”

    “But they’re just…bags. Nothing like food or medicine or something someone really needs.”

    It would eat up a few hours of overtime pay, but the look on her face was worth it. “I just like to see a lady smile, that’s all.”

    “I’ll pay you back. Promise.” She rustled into a pocket of her denim jacket, pulled out a pad and pen. “Write me your address and phone number. I’ll look you up and pay back every last cent. Maybe even we could go for a pizza or something’.”

    Grinning to himself, he did as she asked, and tucked the paper into one of the sale pocketbooks.

    When he drove home that night, he felt better about himself than he had in a while. He even sang a little as he showered off, put up a little dinner, and plopped down in front of the TV with a beer.

    But he nearly spit it out when he saw the pictures flashing up on the news. A picture of the warehouse. A catalog photo of one of their brown pocketbooks on sale. A reporter standing in front of a bank, police sirens swirling all around.

    And as his brain started making images he did not like, of what the little redhead had done with the mountain of brown bags he himself had purchased for her, his phone began to ring.

  10. Gary Ray Anderson Jr. says:

    Grease covered every inch of both of my hands. Out in the hot sun I had been working on my car trying to get the ol’ girl running. She would spark up like she wanted to run but nothing caught. The electrical seemed to be working right. Nothing else seemed out of place. But then I noticed that her power connector looked like it needed to be replaced.

    Damn it! I thought. if I had known this yesterday I could have had this ol’ girl fixed and purrin’ real nice.

    So I ran down to the nearby auto parts store and grabbed me a power connector. After asking the lady behind the counter where it was, I walked up to the register and handed the lady my credit card to pay for the part.

    I walked back home and got the baby installed and switched out. Before I knew it, i hopped on up in the car and started her up. And what do ya know, she was finally purrin’.

    Took me two days to figure it out but I got the ol’ lady runnin’ and now it was time to get up to the house and get all cleaned up and ready for work…..

    This is a true story about what I have gone through for the past two days trying to get my van fixed because she stopped running on me at work the other day.

  11. Lily Java says:

    The slight ringing in her ears woke her but didn’t register as an alarm clock because it came with the grateful awareness she was still alive. Although appreciative that awareness was fleeting. The brutal pain from the lump she’d taken when she was knocked out spread like tendrils across her scalp and down the back of her neck.

    “Ahhhhh.” She groaned mostly in protest but also to test her ability to speak.

    Palms to the floor, she pushed herself to a seated position. The room swayed, as did she, and a mighty wave of nausea ascended from her belly to her esophagus in seconds. Still she held on to the floor, that lifesaver, tightlipped waiting for the queasiness to pass or at least somehow diminish.

    Someone hit me in the head. Hard enough to crack open my skull. The dullness of her own thoughts was irritating and made her angry. Angry was good. Angry was useful. Eyes narrowed she released the floor from her right hand and sat up a little straighter.

    “You have no idea how hard my head is.” She said loudly causing the tendrils of pain to scurry across her shoulder blades. She decided to ignore the pain and raised her left hand from the floor with the maximum effort available to her.

    She wondered if her man were in the same condition somewhere in the dark or maybe in worse condition. She had to get up. She had to find him. That’s what she’d come here for — to help. Clenching her teeth she moved to her knees and began the painstaking attempt to get one foot flat on the floor.

    She was nearly there when she smelled the accelerant. It didn’t smell like paint thinner. No, it smelled like your garden variety kerosene that insane people used to grill on barbeques.

    Someone was thinking of turning her into a brisket. She nearly giggled and instantly realized that would be a clear indication she was losing it. The usefulness of insanity was marginal in a situation like this one. It might upgrade the final outcome of this night but more likely it would help whoever was doing this and get her killed.

    “Stand up dammit.”

  12. twothirdsrasta says:

    Mark Morris:

    The view-screen’s display broke up into a scramble of static for a moment, Brother Computer’s voice-over continuing flawlessly until it steadied.

    “Trueman and Hayzi woke early this morning.” The picture switched over to show the show’s two remaining house-mates making themselves breakfast. The camera zoomed in close, the screen capturing both of their faces but keeping a view of the ever-present show timer counting down behind them.

    “Hayzi thought she’d make herself ready for the show finale tonight;” the time-code skipped ahead three hours, the coverage focusing only on the woman this time. It showed her unpacking three completely different outfits from her case, trying each on in turn, eventually choosing elements of both the second and the third and finally topping it off with the ‘signature’ sunglasses generously loaned to her by the show’s production company, MoltoCon.

    The live feed switched over again, this time showing the paddock beyond the compound surrounding the show’s ‘house’ set. “As you can see, the crowd is even bigger this week;” the camera zoomed out, panning across the hordes of the dying and already undead, the zombie plague having run through the assembled public in less than half the day they’d been kept waiting for the winner’s announcement. “The house-mates just won’t believe the reception they’re going to receive.”

  13. laurieboris says:

    This is from “flashpoetguy.” Sorry, I don’t know why WordPress is being silly like this. But I’m posting it here:

    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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