Two Minutes Go ROAD TRIP!

Don't worry. I always keep my eyes on the road during this process. Kids, don't try this home. Professional writer on a closed track.

Don’t worry. I always keep my eyes on the road during this process. Kids, don’t try this home. Professional writer on a closed track.

Hi, y’all.  JD had to go do some things to make the world a better place, so he handed me the keys for this week’s flash fiction rave and quilting bee. So make yourselves at home, kick off your shoes, raid the fridge… or, in the man’s own words that I stole from his website:

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!

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. 

Here’s one, a little longer than two minutes, to start us out:

The air teems with humidity, drafted from the open ocean, and the scent of mud. Always the scent of mud. It’s a beautiful aroma, the smell of money in the bank. George fills his lungs with it, presses a hand to his chest and smiles. Some scowl when he takes out his camera to shoot a stranded motorist, a mother risking her life to scoop a bawling child out of harm’s way; when he hands out his business cards, they accuse him of preying on destruction, on distress, to scare people into hiring his company at usurious rates. But he’s performing a public service, really. To repair, you first have to document. You have to show the possibilities, show what can happen if you don’t heed the warnings, if you let your children run around in this mess or don’t buy enough insurance. Mother Nature could be a raging bitch, could snap a hundred-year-old tree like so much kindling. So what if he feels a rush of righteous indignation when it crashes atop a car he could never afford? Hell. Maybe after the season, he’d buy one of those sweet rides for himself. Park it somewhere nice and safe, nowhere near the trees.

He thanks the wisdom of fishermen’s gear as he wades into a street-turned-river, teeming cocoa-brown with that heady aroma of moving earth, aiming for what looks like a good shot of a kitten clinging to a forked branch caught momentarily around the pole of a stop sign. From the roar of rushing water, a cop’s voice barks through, telling him to get the hell out of there. But he doesn’t listen. Just smirks: you do your job and I’ll do mine. Damn, the shot is perfect. Distressed little thing, eyes huge, fur matted. He raises the viewfinder to his eye, already seeing it on the cover of the next brochure, on the home page of the website. Something scrabbles beneath his feet and in the next second he’s off them, and in the sudden movement bobbles the camera, his hands lunging for it like a juggler in a strong wind. A curse is the last thing that leaves his lips as the current sweeps him away, bashing his head into a concrete retaining wall before carrying him downriver. The kitten, finding purchase in his stout back, plunges in her claws and rides his inert body to safety.

24 thoughts on “Two Minutes Go ROAD TRIP!

  1. hermitdog1 says:

    Also slightly longer than 2 minutes here.

    God, he hated funerals. His first stop when he got to his mother’s now empty house was the bottle of Jack Daniels kept on the top shelf in the kitchen, behind the collection of cobalt glue glasses and vases. He knew it was there because he put it there some fifteen years earlier, on New Year’s Eve, when both he and his mother decided they’d had enough.

    That night. That New Year’s Eve. He’d never seen his mother have more than a single glass of wine before that night, nor after, but something made him stop at the liquor store and pick up a bottle of brandy, a bottle of champagne, and a bottle of Jack Daniels as the first flakes of what promised to be a Nebraska blizzard fell.
    The year had been hell. His father was in the hospital for most of it, and running the farm fell to his wife and his bookworm son. No matter what they did, his father didn’t approve.

    They were too slow to plant, too early to harvest, wasted money on tractor fuel when they tilled the ground unnecessarily. They didn’t fluff his pillow right, they didn’t bring him the right magazines and books, and they failed to bring him the Camel cigarettes he craved.

    But it was New Year’s Eve, when a body can believe in almost any future, and tell the stories of the past without fear of retribution. Especially on a night his father was in a hospital bed a hundred miles away.
    With groceries put away, and the heavy door shut against the stubborn prairie wind, he rustled through the cabinet, looking for brandy snifters, or some kind of glass that would take them from the mundane not-quite-good-enough life they led every day.

    He poured brandy into the jelly glasses he found.

    “Here. It’s medicinal,” he said as he handed one glass to his mother.

    She held the glass to the light, entranced by its amber light. “It looks like fire.”

    He raised a toast: “To surviving a year of hell!”

    “To surviving!” she answered back, never having uttered a word stronger than “darned.” “Tastes like fire, too.” She held back a cough.

    He refilled their glasses. “Tell me a story.”

    “What kind of story?”

    “Any story. Something beautiful.”

    She swirled the brandy in her glass. “A story,” she echoed.

    He waited for her.

    “Your father wasn’t always an asshole.”

    Brandy spewed from his nose. “What?”

    “When I met him, he was the kindest man. He brought me flowers the day we met.”

    “Dad? Brought flowers?”

    “He picked them from his mother’s garden. Zinnias. Sunflowers. They were covered in ants, but he looked so shy holding them up for me at the door I didn’t say anything. Took us months to get those ants out of the kitchen.” She looked around that same kitchen now, as if she were looking for ant survivors from all those years ago.

    By the time they reached the bottom of the bottle of brandy, he knew they didn’t kiss till the third date. Her eyes had more sparkle than he’d seen all year.

    He nodded to the clock. “Almost midnight. Feel like a little champagne?”

    She giggled.

    He popped the cork.

    “To the New Year!”

    “To hoping your father remembers how to not be an asshole!”

    As they laughed, the house lit up, candles of hope filling the night.

    “We should get some sleep. Looks like there will be snow to shovel tomorrow if we’re going to see your father.”

    “We should. But let’s not let the champagne go to waste.”

    And so they gained another half hour of friendship, of trust.

    When the last of the champagne was gone, she rinsed the glasses in the sink.

    “I don’t suppose I could interest you in a glass of Jack Daniels?”

    “Oh no. I’m not as young as I used to be.”

    He reached up to put the bottle on the highest shelf, behind the blue glasses and vases.

    “So when did he turn into an asshole?”

    She turned from the sink, looked straight into his eyes, and asked, “Are you sure you want to know?”

    He nodded.

    “When I told him you were not his son.”

    He held her as she sobbed, and eventually walked her to her bedroom, tucking her in, fully clothed, beneath the pink sheets, with her head on the satin pillowcase that was supposed to keep her hair from being a mess in the morning.

    They never spoke of it again, and now they never would.

    And now, he drank the Jack Daniels from one of those same jelly glasses, looking at the ceiling, at the dent left by the plastic cork from the cheap champagne, and he wondered why, and he wondered who.

  2. Lily Java says:

    Well all I have to say is “Two minutes, schminutes”

    She was downstairs a few minutes before he arrived. The grey tweed car jacket she chosen to wear wasn’t exactly dispensable but it was perfect for a balmy October evening. When Cam’s black Mercury pulled up, Rajene was eager to just jump in the car but knew enough to wait. He liked opening the door for her. Tucking her in almost. At first she’d thought the gesture was old fashioned and then she’d learned to love it because it gave her an opportunity to see him move. And there was almost nothing better than that. Plus usually, there was a kiss before she got in. Nothing sloppy or leading, just a soft meeting of his lips with hers.

    As Cam exited the car, she watched greedily. He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt too. A rare sight. Even rarer were the white sneakers on his feet. His tee and jacket were black though like his hair which was wavy and cut close to his head. Unsurprisingly he didn’t say anything — just walked purposefully around the front of the car and gave her a slight nod. When he looked down, observing the royal blue converse she wore she thought she might have detected a small smile play around his mouth but she couldn’t be sure. She didn’t really do sneakers either so they were both out of their element with the ground they were walking on. Cam opened the door and waited while Rajene got in. No kiss. And again, that was not surprising.
    He drove for awhile and when it was clear they were headed into Manhattan her curiosity got the better of her. She had hoped he would talk first since he’d arranged the meeting.

    “Can I ask where we’re going now?”

    She hadn’t meant that to come out as snarky as it had. She was so on edge and hoped they got to where they were going soon to talk before she had a complete meltdown.

    “My brother is still working on that house up in Harlem. He asked me to take another look at it. He wants to sell it and isn’t sure what he can get for it.”

    Momentarily confused, Rajene took a chance on herself and asked another question.

    “What happened? I thought he was going to keep the house for him and Cora.”

    “They’re separating.”

    “Oh no.”

    Cam took his eyes off the road a moment and glanced her way.

    “That’s sad news, Cam.” She said, emphatically. “I thought they were happy.”

    “Yeah, he did too.”

    There was a trace of bitterness in how Cam dealt her that last statement. Just enough for Rajene to know he wasn’t just talking about his brother now.

    “I’m sorry.”

    Rajene wondered if he knew she wasn’t just talking about Ethan and Cora anymore either.

    They didn’t speak again until he got off the exit on 125th Street.

    “Have you eaten?”

    The question alarmed her because she suddenly couldn’t remember when she’d last eaten. When she thought about it she realized she hadn’t really eaten anything since breakfast. Just a lot of coffee and angst since that morning meal.


    “I’m going to stop in at Fairway. Get a few things. You’ll stay in the car?”

    Rajene nodded. She didn’t think she could take walking around the supermarket with Cam just now. It was too normal and nothing about this evening was normal.

    Cam pulled into the lot and parked.

    “I shouldn’t be long.”

    Cam could feel Rajene’s eyes on him as he walked into the market. They had a lot to discuss and it wouldn’t be a picnic for either of them. He wanted to be in and out of here in 10 to 15 minutes. So he strode straight for the cheese counter near the middle of the store. While contemplating the Camembert vs. the Manchego, a tall, per-fumy strawberry blonde idled in next to him.

    “Excuse me. Do you know anything about cheese?”

    Cam chose not to laugh but he didn’t wonder if this was a new type of flirting. He knew it to be a very, very old type of flirting. Almost quaint, which made him look more closely at his questioner. She was older than he first thought, late thirties, maybe hitting forty but not past her prime. She was proudly buxom too, her cleavage an open zipper of fragile lightly freckled skin punctuating the tightly fitted red blouse she wore with an equally clingy black pencil skirt. Perfect Fairway shopping outfit if he ever saw one. Could also work at an anarchist’s convention.

    He wondered what made him of all the Fairway shoppers her type.

    “I prefer soft cheeses but they don’t have my favorite. What kind of market doesn’t have Brie?” Glamour girl whispered as she talked completing the 40’s pin up reenactment.

    Cam reached down and grabbed a wedge of cheese handing it to her.

    Looking down at it and smiling she said, “St Andre?”

    Cam nodded.

    “It’s not as gooey or soft as Brie but it has bite and will spread where ever you need it to. You’ll like it.”

    This pleased Glamour Girl so much she giggled.


    Biting his bottom lip rather than curse his luck or her impeccably bad timing, Cam turned to see Rajene standing a few feet away. Her face was an ashen and stony version of displeasure.

    “I was hoping you could pick up some Advil and a Saratoga. I think I’m coming down with something.”

    Turning stiffly she walked back towards the exit and presumably the car.

    Cam turn back to find Glamour Girl unfazed by the interruption.

    Still smiling her eyes twinkled.

    “Thanks for the tip.” She said, as she turned and swayed provocatively away from him.

    Shaking his head, Cam grabbed the Manchego and headed off in the opposite direction.

  3. hermitdog1 says:

    “Two minutes, eh?”
    “Two minutes.”
    “Seems kinda arbitrary.”
    “It’s Mader’s thing; he gets to make the rules.”
    “Any allowance for big paws to take longer?”
    “I don’t see it in the fine print.”
    “He has fine print?”
    “Nah, just pullin’ your chain. Mader’s a laid back guy. As long as you stay away from his bike, his wife, and his knives.”
    “He has knives?”
    The human shrugs.
    “Well, I guess I’ll get started. ‘It was a dark and stormy…’”
    “Someone’s already written that one, a few hundred times.”
    “He checks for plagiarism?”
    “Mader knows all.”
    “How about this one? ‘See Angelo. See Angelo run to San Francisco. See Angelo find Mader’s apartment. See Angelo chew up the flashdrive with Mader’s latest manuscript.’ Anyone write THAT before?”
    “No, I think you’re in uncharted territory.”
    “Can we post this under satire?”
    “There aren’t really categories. It’s just flash fiction.”
    “Let’s add this on: ‘See Angelo really enjoy the aftertaste of the delicious fiction that leaves Mader’s crazed mind.’”
    “I think he’ll like that.”
    “Enough to keep the knives put away?”
    “I’m pretty sure.”
    “Make sure you lock the doors tonight. You know, just in case.”
    “Oh, and tell Mader he looks really cute in tights and a cape.”
    “You love writing dangerous adventure tales, don’t you?”
    “Hey, it’s what sells.”

  4. JD Mader says:

    You don’t have to see it to know what it looks like. It was burned into you before you were even born. It slipped into the cracks – infested the trembling, pink valleys of your oversized brain. Just don’t think about it, and don’t think about time. Time is a cruel trick created by an overzealous world. Time crawls inside you and does a death dance. It plays your ribs like a glockenspiel. You can feel it vibrating – so you worry about that, but you also worry about whether you’ll know it when you see it – that’s always bouncing around inside you, pin-ball crazy, silly notion. And it’s stupid.

    People say you should have faith. That there is some kind of plan, some ethereal something. Some luck or magic talisman. You shake your head and think, man, I wish, brother. I’ll take your pamphlet, but I’m throwing that shit away the minute the door closes. So, kill another tree in the name of apathy. You don’t have time to worry about it.

    The toilet flushes too slow. The car doesn’t start sometimes. They’re laying off your colleagues, and everyone is nightmare-scared. You worry about getting sick because you’re too poor to die. Medical insurance ain’t shit, and you know those bastards will be eating snow cones at your funeral, eyeing the wallets and checkbooks that make strange bulges in the black garb of your loved ones.

    Time to pay the piper, see, and the piper is greed.

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