Hi, everyone! While Mr. Mader is out schooling a few fish, the Friday 2-Minutes-Go luau and sewing circle is over here. What’s this thing all about? Maybe these words I lifted from his website will explain:
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 to start us off:
The grass is greener on the other side. Stupid cliché, you think, muscling the hand mower while sweat pours down your face and wet clippings pepper your shins. You have the damn greenest lawn on the whole street, on the whole planet, but you’re still pushing a hand mower and wish you could pay someone else to do it while you watch from your hammock, sucking on a beer. Like that dude next door. He isn’t an old dude, either. He wears saggy old-man shorts, some kind of faded plaid like your aunt Betsy’s summer sheets, but he looks fit enough to push a mower around. Just chooses not to, you guess. And he doesn’t really sit around too much out there anymore, lording it over his half-acre while the lawn maintenance guys pull up with their flatbed and do their thing. In fact, you don’t remember the last time you saw him outside. If you did, you might tell him that the lawn guys screw off a lot. That they laugh and tell jokes and do shoddy work and peel out of there in, like, ten minutes. That if nobody minds, you’ll be glad to go on over and tidy up the spots they miss. You peer over the fence. Yeah. Looks like shit. You don’t hear any noise from inside, so you wheel old reliable through the gate and neaten up the worst of it. And then you treat yourself to that beer. This becomes a regular thing, and you don’t mind. It feels kind of nice, and afterward, the beer tastes better. But then you start to wonder why it’s been so quiet over there. Just when you’ve finished up both lawns and you’re about to muster up the juice to go over there and knock on the door, the old man steps out. He looks even older. The plaid shorts sagging even lower. He gazes in your direction, nods, pulls his wallet from his back pocket. You walk halfway to meet him. His eyes are red, and also sagging, and he extracts a twenty and pushes it toward you. “For your trouble,” he says, his voice creaking. “Thank you.”
You’re already shaking off the money, but the door is open just enough for you to see the clutter, the oxygen tank, smell the disinfectant. “No trouble,” you say.
I’ll be in and out today, but have FUN (because fun is GOOD!) and I’ll be back later. Feel free, everyone, to write and post and read and comment.
Laurie, I can’t believe how much heart and story you pack into so few words… this touched my heart in a good way.
I agree with hermitdog1-I can smell the clippings and see the faded plaid. Very enjoyable piece. My nose is tickling with disinfectant.
Oh Miss Laurie that was so *real* so many things to touch and feel and you’re looking around the yard. This had the feel of an old Twilight Zone to me. They had a way of controlling the ebb of tension so well…like this, I got all worked-up about the lawn, the lazy old man…lord knows I’ve been mowing that same lawn…and then the gut-drop at the end…wow…
Oh Miss Laurie that was so *real* so many things to touch and feel while you’re looking around the yard. This had the feel of an old Twilight Zone to me. They had a way of controlling the ebb of tension so well…like this, I got all worked-up about the lawn, the lazy old man…lord knows I’ve been mowing that same lawn…and then the gut-drop at the end…wow…
Sorry I tried to edit and it posted twice.
Yeah, and you manage to pull off second person so well. This is really rich for so few words.
It’s Sunday. You are playing on the sidewalk with the dogs, when your mother pulls you inside the apartment building. As you climb the stairs, you hear all of the radios in all of the apartments saying the same thing: “The Japs have bombed Pearl Harbor.”
You are no stranger to the word “Jap.” People call you that on the streets, at school, in the stores. You hear the word on the radio, and your father reads headlines from the newspaper that use the word, too.
Your father makes new rules. You can no longer go outside alone, even to play with dogs. You must always have him or your mother with you. Your neighbors are crying all the time. Mrs. Wilson’s father is gone, and no one knows where to look for him. He was a nice man. He gave you the red ball. Your mother and father start to stay home more. They no longer go to church except for special occasions. They stop going to work. Nobody smiles any more.
You stop eating Japanese food. There is no more rice. Mashed potatoes. They taste funny to you, and you don’t like the feel of them on your tongue.
Christmas is not joyful. You go to midnight mass with your parents, but the songs do not have the magic they had last year. You wonder if this is because of “The War” that the adults talk about, or if the magic fades as you get older.
Your brothers still go to school, even though they don’t want to. They come home with bruises sometimes. Fights. Your dad asks them who won and cheers them when they say they did. But you wonder why they’re fighting.
Your mother stops going out at all. Your father does the grocery shopping now. You wonder why your mother came home in tears one day, and what she did with her purse. She always has her purse. Where could she have left it?
There are no firecrackers for New Year’s. You miss their bangs and pops. Your father says maybe next year. You don’t believe him because his face looks like he is lying. But adults do that. They try to protect you, and they try to pretend that you don’t understand anything. And you don’t understand a lot, but you understand enough to know people are afraid; you just don’t know what they’re afraid of.
Oh, so poignant.
So much pain wrapped into one incredible piece of flash fiction. This could be part of a memoir or a series. Enjoyed it.
It’s destiny is to be included in the book on Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II… a book I hope to finish someday in my lifetime….Thanks for the kind words!
I love this Leland. I’m still in awe in how you told it. You have a much more masterful stroke than know my friend. You have a way with the words and people in your stories.
thank you kindly!
Thanks! I try
Writing is really about empathy, so this sure is writing.
There are mornings when you remember the way it used to be. Coffee together. A Danish from the shop down the street. Watching the sunrise, hand in hand.
And then you remind yourself that that was then and this is now and you’ve got to get your shit together. You start a fire. You put the pot of water next to it. And you prepare your tongue for the taste of an herbal tea. God you hate tea.
While the water heats, you clean your rifle and count your bullets. 13. An unlucky number. But they’re all you’ve got. Maybe you can find more. You’ll go into town and search the ruins of the hardware store again. After the tea.
You’d kill for coffee. You’d use one of your precious lumps of lead to get coffee. More important than the deer you hope to find later on.
Your head pounds. Why didn’t you prepare? You read all the newspaper headlines and chalked them up to hyperbole. Only sometimes, hyperbole is reality.
Your daddy always said you were living in the end times. Only he thought God was going to deliver the final blow. He never knew it would be a devil in the White House.
And on the side of a mountain in post-apocalyptic Colorado, you remember all the times you said politics didn’t matter. And you wonder if maybe one of those thirteen bullets should be used on yourself. You wonder if there’s any reason to go on.
Wow Leland…just wow.
I really liked this. But you know I’m sucker for apocalyptic stories, so you had me from the first line.
Loved the line about the devil in the Whitehouse.
Nothing makes me happier than reading Leland’s take on the apocalypse! 🙂
Do you remember the last time you looked up at the sky and the only thought running through your head was “Wowww…”?
Do you remember drawing big yellow crayon stars on giant pieces of oatmeal-colored paper and then painting the night sky with that fascinating “India Ink” that your teacher only brought out every *once* in awhile?
But remember when you looked up, they weren’t yellow. They were white.
And then when one twinkles and you think you see a tiny rainbow flash…and then one by one, the colors begin to pop out.
Look there’s a blue one! And a pink one! And the more you look, the more you see! Just like magic.
Take a deep breath.
Close your eyes and count to ten.
Let yourself go back to that moment of wonder…for just a heartbeat or two.
Maybe stars aren’t your thing. I get that. Well I don’t…stars are frigging amazing. But okay…like they say, whatever floats your goat.
Maybe you like the beach. Remember the first time you jumped a wave and the saltwater splashed onto your tongue and you couldn’t decide at first if you liked the taste or if it was GROSS? Remember flipping rocks over and watching an army of tiny crabs scurry for cover under those smaller barnacle-ly rocks that you cut your foot on every summer?
I don’t know about you, but I am crazy for that kind of stuff! When I see a shooting star or a rainbow…anything like that, I am six years old again. It’s Christmas morning and this year it falls on my birthday *and* Halloween so there will be cake and we get to wear costumes! But my stinkin’ parents aren’t up yet!
It’s like I’m seeing my first child being born.
I approach moments like this with the awe and respect that small miracles deserve.
It’s not like they happen every day!
Except that they *do*.
Most of us have just forgotten to look for them like we used to when were still just…little kids.
Looking up at the stars…
Sigh. I loved going back to all those moments. I could spend half the day standing on the banks of the creek, watching the water flow, watching the minnows dance and the frogs hop and the water boatman skim the surface.
I could, too… and this piece took me back there… thank you for that!
Awe and the amazement of being alive. Nothing more needs to be said.
Thanks for your kind words everyone! 🙂
All around me are familiar faces…
I take them down one by one, hold them in my hands, try to put a face with a name…
Their names. What are their names?
They all look like someone I should know.
A friend, a loved one, some who were neither…
My memories are like walking through a field of land-mine’s filled with mousetraps.
I never know what I’m going to find.
I never know what I’m going to step in.
And just because I dodge a bullet,
doesn’t mean I’m not gonna take a poisonous dart to my Achille’s.
Smiling memories are sly, slippey bastards.
I start to get that warm fuzzy feeling.
I go running down that lane with my arms open wide!
………but sometimes hugs are a monster’s best friend.
A very good place for them to hide.
And sometimes I always forget that.
Yowza… this is spooky in a good way!
Thanks Mister Leland. 🙂
Like everything was prechoreographed, the barroom exploded.
Notice the anomalies. The man in the Donnie Darko hoodie on a steaming afternoon. The quiet dry sand after the tide draws too far out. The flights of silent birds darkening an August sky. The nod toward the man near the exit. A cough that goes too long.
Who am I? That’s a simple question with an answer that might take a year to tell. No doubt there’s a short version but I ain’t ever found it. Okay, here, how ’bout this? I am an auteur. A black hole. A universe swirls inside me, and can’t ever escape.
Last time I seen you I was done telling your dumb ass about how it might behoove you to dial down the attitude in the workplace. Instead of listenin’, it was easier for you to rant and call me a bitch and then ghost me like Caspar. He a scared little white boy too. If your only weapon is social media, you already lost. Guess you never saw me sharpening my teeth on your wheel rims. Nah. Your days are numbered like scripture; one day you gonna get to Revelation. I ain’t in no hurry, though. Got me some mayhem to plan.
Like that barroom. A few strategic words whispered in a few disparate ears, conjugate humanity’s secret verbs, program the drone to hack someone’s iPhone, mix up sounds like iOS and IRS, watch while the tall skinny taxman brains the Venetian duchess. Ciao bella, indeed. Watch the dominoes fall. Dodge the blood and glass. Mind the step and keep off the grass.
Other day I sunk five Bellinis while my girl tripped balls ’bout nothin. I tuned her out and soared to peach heaven on sparkling clouds of white wine. That shit has pedigree. Named from an Eye-talian painter. When I came back to earth she was gone. Took me a week to find her sorry, self-pitying behind and another week to decide to put her outta her misery. Old school hands around the throat, feeling that hyoid give way, the collapse of her trachea, and the tiny spreading capillaries in the whites of her eyes. For the sake of her dignity, I even tried to pretend I didn’t enjoy it.
The anomalies come faster now. We runnin’ outta time, yo, I can feel it over my event horizon. Nebular menstrual cramps, dark attractors. Let me say now I loved you, and still do. It ain’t personal. It’s nature. The animals know. They always know. This is how the world ends. Not with the mange but distemper.
Wow. Just wow.
Wow, I love this hard. “…and then you ghost me like Caspar.” Nice.