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Brevity (12)

June 25, 2022

First, I’d like to apologize to the women of the United States who yesterday lost the right to control their bodies and the freedom to make their own health care decisions and will be forced to give that control to politicians and government. The decision was disgusting and shameful.

= = = =

This is for Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt where the word this weekend is Brevity and the goal is a brief 12 words.

Brevity (12)

Dishoner and disrespect,
    two keys to love’s brevity.
Instead:
        Discuss,
            discover,
                disrobe.

Free to go

June 24, 2022

From Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch is this week’s story challenge.

June 20, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about what freedom feels like. Whose point of view do you use? Does the idea of freedom cause tension or bring hope? Let the reader feel the freedom. Go where the prompt leads!

Free to go

I said I’d help him move.

“Meet me at 2:00?” he asked. “Helen’ll be at work.”

He had little: A few boxes. Some pictures, clothes, records. An old Magnavox all-in-one stereo with a cracked dustcover. No furniture, television, kitchen stuff.

I wasn’t sure why he needed me.

We dropped everything off at his new apartment.

“You wanna celebrate freedom with a beer?”

“Nah.”

I started to reply, but he cut me off. Told me he just wanted to be alone. Said he was free to do that.

I went home, showered, changed, and met Helen for dinner at 7:00.

###

Maybe I’m a cynic

June 19, 2022

Maybe I’m a cynic, but I watch PSAs and read letters asking for donations for whatever charitable cause it is they’re asking for, and you always hear, “Proceeds help benefit the blah, blah, blah…” and I wonder how are proceeds defined? Are that non-profits proceeds defined as everything received is given to whatever blah, blah, blah is, or are that non-profits proceeds defined as what’s left over after everyone running the organization gets paid and the overhead is covered? I suppose I could also wonder how “help benefit” is defined? Does it mean that people who are hungry (which, BTW, there are 42 million people in the US alone who are food insecure) actually get food and money to buy food and have edcuational resources available to them, or do they just get a box of macaroni & cheese and a digital download cookbook?

A lot of charities do provide this information, but sometimes it’s not easy to find. I think it should be included right up front in every donation request. A person shouldn’t have to go look for the information.

There might not be a maybe. I probably am a cynic.

“It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.” – Ram Dass

Steps on the path…

Revelation

June 18, 2022

From Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch is this week’s story challenge.

June 13, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a danger zone. It can be an exciting plot-driven story (think “story spine”) or a situation a character must confront. Play with different genres, and use craft elements like tension, tone, and pacing. Go where the prompt leads!

Revelation

His next step would define the rest of this life.

He sat, legs overhanging the rock ledge, watching the waterfall in front of him. He listened to the water crash over the crest, he breathed in the mist that rose to the sky.

He leaned back, closed his eyes.

Analytical to a fault he ran the scenario through his head repeatedly. He would leave someone behind, would they care? But he might make someone very happy? Both paths uncertain. Both carrying varying degrees of risk and danger.

What do I want?, he thought.

He opened his eyes and smiled.

###

Too warm

June 15, 2022

I consider it an achievement that I was able to sleep at all last night.

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Achievement

Random Thoughts #40: Let me at it

June 14, 2022

I don’t know why toothpaste manufacturers make it nearly impossible to squeeze out every bit of toothpaste from the tube. I know there’s at least one, maybe two, brushfuls of toothpaste in the tube after it’s been all rolled up and squeezed. Life is difficult enough without having to throw (not really) empty tubes of toothpaste into the mix.

They go to 11

June 13, 2022

I read today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt, VOLUME, and this was the first thing that came to mind. Because sometimes you just need that extra push over the cliff and what do you do?

Talking the other day

June 12, 2022

Someone, I suppose you could call them a friend?, was talking to me the other day about their job. They like their job, they go to work every day, they take pride in their work and the results and recognition they achieve and receive.

But… what they don’t like are the people they supervise. They are weird, they said. Irresponsible, they said. Frequently thoughtless, they said. Not above lying, they said. They act like children, they said. Then: I’m supervising children and it’s not rewarding. It’s (pause) depressing.

I wondered if they couldn’t talk to them, their staff, and explain the expectations in the workplace.

They gave me a funny look. Talk to them? They won’t stop listening to themselves and each other long enough to listen to someone else.

But you’re their supervisor, I didn’t say.

Instead, I wondered if there wasn’t someone they could comfortably talk with. Maybe their supervisor.

The person shook their head. I’m comfortable talking with you, they said. They feared talking to their supervisor because they feared exposing a weakness in themselves and their performance. They feared being told they can’t do the job.

Your supervisor likely knows, I didn’t say.

I wondered about weakness not necessarily meaning fault, and about not all weaknesses being bad.

They didn’t say anything.

Then they did. I’ll just keep on with what I’m doing, they said.

(Not to decide is to decide)

I thought that when it’s your responsibility to tend to the temper tantrums of adults and placate overly sensitive egos that produce inappropriate behaviors, and that task is making you uneasy and anxious and sad (and sick?) then it might be time to recognize that reality and find something else to do. Or a different way to do it.

Of course, I didn’t say that to them. Not everyone wants to hear advice even though they may think they want to hear advice.

If you’re wondering if this is true, some of it is and some of it isn’t.

Vernacular (90)

June 12, 2022

Weekends were made for Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt.

Vernacular (90)

“Hey, youse guys, check out the dame.”

“Huh?”

“The brunette, some dish, yeah?”

This was one of the weird things about Carl. After a few beers, he’d start talking in the vernacular of 1930’s/40’s Warner Brothers crime movies. Imagine James Cagney wearing a Todd Snyder Mystic Aqua polo over a pair of 5” faded black shorts.

“She’s aces. But you got the lettuce?” Eric loved playing along.

Carl stood, squared his shoulders and adjusted an imaginary fedora. “I’m no crumb, pal. I’m made in the shade.”

Carl really shouldn’t drink.

###

Who’s afraid?

June 11, 2022

From Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch is this week’s story challenge.

June 6, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features stone-stacking. How does the activity fit into a story? Who is involved? What is the tone? Do the stones have special meaning? Go where the prompt leads!

Who’s afraid?

An armchair historian, I sit with others like myself at Porkey’s eating Danish, sipping coffee, and remembering the invasion of Boarsville.

The invader, a shaggy beast, filled his mammoth lungs and blew Boarsvillian houses made of sticks and straw to dust and ate the inhabitants.

Three survivors huddled in the last house in Boarsville. A sturdy house of brick and stones that was impervious to the invader’s powerful breath.

Exhausted and breathless, the invader took one last breath, wheezed, and dropped to the ground. The survivors poked him with a stick, then summarily skinned, seasoned, cooked and ate him.

###

(With thanks to James Halliwell-Phillips)

A quote

June 7, 2022

I read the book Butcher’s Crossing I don’t remember how many years ago. I thought it was a very good book and if I wrote book reviews, I would review it here for you all.

I would start with: I thought Butcher’s Crossing was a very good book.

[I would try and share some reasons why I thought it was a very good book, and then I would try and include a brief summary of the story. I would try and add some highlights of the story without giving away the climax, and I would try and find a way to end the review on a pleasant note]

The reason I mention this is because I went to Facebook yesterday and Facebook was kind enough to show me a memory for June 6, 19whateveryearitwasthatIreadButcher’sCrossing. The memory was a quote from the book that I had shared. I liked the quote back whenever and I liked it just as much yesterday so I thought I would share it here..

To put things into a little context, the book takes place in the late 1800’s and the quote refers to a young mane who was unhappy with his life and had traveled west to try and find himself and some meaning.

“It was a freedom and a goodness, a hope and a vigor that he perceived to underlie all the familiar things of his life, which were not free or good or hopeful or vigorous. What he sought was the source and preserver of his world, a world which seemed to turn ever in fear away from its source, rather than search it out.” John Williams, Butcher’s Crossing

Make of it what you will.

Gene and Alvin

June 5, 2022

The Cowsino in the Saddle Up Saloon over at Carrot Ranch is open again!

This month’s slot machine prompt:

Gene and Alvin

Gene was browsing Yelp when he ran across an interesting little local entertainment tidbit. He poked his twin brother Alvin, who was focused on the road ahead, in the ribs and said, “You’re not gonna believe this, but—”

“Cowsino’s open”?

“Dude, Cowsino’s ohh-pen!”

Nothing needed to be said. Alvin took a right at the corner, drove around the block, and faster than a knife fight in a phone booth, the red 1984 Fiesta was headed back east down Elmhurst, the little motor going for all it was worth at 52 miles per hour.

“I can’t believe it,” Alvin said.

“I know. This is great, man.”

“Cowseeeeeeno!” they said as one.

“Eyes on the road, Al,” said Gene.

“Sorry.”

“No apology needed, man. We just wanna get to the cowsino in one piece.”

The brothers drove with the windows down and the radio up and after a few blocks Gene paused the tape deck between the Doobie Brothers singing about a lazy flowing river and castles in the sky and asked Alvin why he thought mom and dad told them they were twins. “I mean,” Gene said. “We don’t look anything alike, right? Like look at you, your fat—”

“Husky.”

“Husky, ok, and I’m th—”

“Not husky.”

“Yeah, so how are we twins?”

“Don’t know, Geno. Never really thought about it before, man.”

“Don’t you—”

“Care? No. You’re my bro, bro. What else is there to know, bro?”

Gene thought about that and nodded and reached over put the music back on. “Yeah,” he said.

A few minutes later Gene said, “We’re almost—”

“There?” said Alvin. “I know, bro.”

Alvin parked the Ford under the billboard advertising the loosest slots in town and the twins, mismatched heads held high, marched with heavy billfolds into the cowsino.

Forty minutes later, slump-shouldered and sad-eyed, they walked out of the cowsino: broke, busted, but far from disgusted.

“How much you got left?” said Gene.

“Three bucks,” said Alvin.

“Not enough for take out,” said Gene.

“Or White Castle,” said Alvin.

The brothers drove home in silence, had a late dinner of Hostess Ding Dongs and Cheetos with a half a can each of Miller 64 and called it a night.

“G’night, Alvin,” said Gene.

“G’night, Gene,” said Alvin.

“Today was a good day.”

“That it was.”

###

Let’s play a game

June 5, 2022

This is maybe a fun game. What is this picture?

I’m not a fan of Traffic

June 4, 2022

Over at the Ragtag Daily Prompt the word of the day is TRAFFIC.

There was a girl, I don’t remember her name now, who was kind of nice. We never hung out together or anything like that, but I’d see her at parties, and in school, and when we passed in the hall, we were familiar enough to know each other’s names and say hello.

So I’m at a party and I see her and say hi and she says hi and then out of nowhere, in response to the music that was playing, she says, “I love this song.” The song was “Low Sparks of High Heeled Boys” by Traffic. Maybe you’ve heard it, I don’t know, but I couldn’t stand the song. Or the band for that matter. I didn’t say, “Well, that’s pretty weird”, but I thought it and I smiled and walked away. Looking back now I guess that was a jerky thing to do, but when you’re a kid who just got his driver’s license and drove to a party himself instead of getting a ride, or worse, riding his bike, you kind of feel like maybe you can’t do anything wrong? It was a long time ago. Who knows.

I can’t say that I ever developed a taste for Traffic.

There was a guy who played in Traffic – Dave Mason – and for a period of time he played with Delaney & Bonnie, and I really liked Delaney & Bonnie. Like I know all the lyrics and I had the 8-tracks and I still listen to them today like. Dave Mason wrote a song that Delaney & Bonnie played, and you’ve probably heard it at some point in your life. It’s Only You Know and I Know. If you want to listen to more of D&B then Bonnie is at her best signing Groupie and Piece of My Heart. Yeah, I think Bonnie’s better than both Karen Carpenter and Janis Joplin.

In memory of . . .

June 4, 2022

From Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch is this week’s story challenge.

May 30, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story behind a memorial. Is it a structure, plaque, or something else? What does it seek to remind those who view it? Go where the prompt leads!

In memory of . . .

Every year they visit the cemetery.

They walk over lumpy grass. Past poplars, oaks, and elms until they stand in front of the faded granite headstone. They read the name. They read the words. They close their eyes and savor a memory.

They say a prayer. They put a small rock on top of the headstone: to say hello, to say they were there. To say goodbye.

They walk away again, and they cry.

It’s said things get easier. The memories blur and the pain dims, but not hurting as badly still hurts. Who’d want it any other way?

Mini flashback

May 29, 2022

The word of the day at the Ragtag Daily Prompt is MOP.

It’s interesting to me how a word or song or smell can trigger a memory. And why it doesn’t happen all the time or more often.

A long time ago, I worked for a big company in a small print shop. It was a boring job, but the people I worked with were fun. Like the guy who lit a press wash-soaked rag on fire just to see what would happen. Press wash was a cleaner for cleaning the rollers on the printing presses. It smelled bad and it was flammable.

That was Ricky who lit the fire. Ricky would, on most days, come back stoned from lunch and he would say and do stupid stuff. Like calling Darryl, the delivery driver, a “popcorn pimp” to his face, or lighting a rag soaked in press wash on fire just to see what would happen.

The supervisor, he had an office in another part of the building and rarely visited us. He never knew about Ricky’s rag experiment.

Dale was thin and had greasy blonde hair and he wore extremely tight pants every day. Pants that were so tight that one could see the outline of everything. Everything means exactly what you’re thinking it means. Office staff would frequently walk their work requests back to us rather than leaving them in work request basket up front just to see Dale and his everything.

Dennis started work at 3:00 PM. Dennis was the janitor, and he did not talk. I don’t know if he really could not talk or if he just did not want to talk. Dennis would smile and nod if you said hello, but he never said anything that I ever heard. Dennis would come by every afternoon at 3:30 and empty our waste barrels. I left work at 4:30 and I would sometimes see Dennis on my way out of the shop pushing a mop and bucket up towards the front office.

Ricky panicked when he saw the flames and smoke and he tried to stomp on the burning rag to put out the fire. Dale was cooler headed, and he took the cover of a paper box and tossed it onto the rag and smothered the flames.

And Darryl, he just laughed and shook his head when Ricky called him a “popcorn pimp.”

###

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Smell mop.

Outcry (65)

May 28, 2022

This is Saturday and that means it’s the Weekend Writing Prompt at Sammi’s. The word for this weekend is OUTCRY and when I read the word my mind went right to the Robb Elementary School in Texas. There’s a lot of room for outcry over what happened last Tuesday, but I don’t care to do it beyond this.

America is, sadly a nation of violence, and it doesn’t matter how disturbing the subject matter or how many lives a gunman takes, nothing changes. Politicians talk and do nothing, and voters talk and do nothing. That’s life in the US and I almost have to believe that we like the status quo. Or we enjoy the collective pain of banging our heads against a brick wall. Most Americans support stricter gun laws, but nothing happens. If you want to see some staggering statistics on just how bad gun violence is in America, check out the Gun Violence Archive. If you want to see what’s going on beyond the almost daily school shootings, grocery store shootings, church and synagogue shootings, and see what’s happening in your neck of the woods that isn’t being covered on your local news, click on the “LAST 72 HOURS” tab.

Why is this happening? Got me. That’s not meant to sound arrogant. I’m not indifferent to the problem, I just have zero faith that anything will ever change here.

So, instead of going to Uvalde, Texas or Buffalo, NY, I wrote a little story about a killer. We seem to be fascinated by killers. Books, movies, TV, killers are everywhere in our culture. And I shared a song by Cheap Trick about a serial killer.

Equal parts of me hope you do and don’t enjoy.

Outcry (65)

The burlap hooded man ignored the final outcry of the woman whose neck he held in his hands. Let her plead. This was her fault, no?

“Yes,” he whispered.

He swallowed her final breath and laid her down. He covered her bareness and gently closed her eyes.

As was his custom, he left a blue rose against her left cheek. Something to entertain the police.

###

Summer blockbuster

May 27, 2022

I don’t know about you and whether or not you’re venturing back to movie theaters yet, but I just saw a trailer for a movie that looks sort of interesting?

This summer in a theater near you

A timeless story of two lovers swept up in the maelstrom of a world gone mad.
One man. One woman. One war. Another man. Another woman. Probably another war.
Two, maybe three, love-torn, hackly hearts fused as one.
This summer the long-awaited blockbuster that that will . . . do something to you.

Based on the bestselling novel by Agate A. Christie
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Flint Eastwood and Llanite Urner and Judy Garnet and Jack Nicholsonite star in

Don’t Take Love for Granite

Two lovers, maybe three, caught in a landslide of emotion.
No schist.

Desperation

May 27, 2022

From Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch is this week’s story challenge.

May 23, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase “well’s gone dry.”

Desperation

I said, “Let’s give it another try?”
She said, “No dear, ‘cuz the well’s gone dry.”

I said, “But we’ve got lotsa history.”
She said, “Yes dear, and it’s all blistery.”

I hung my head and I started to cry.
She said, “You’ll forget me in the by and by.”

There was one last hug one tender squeeze,
and I let out a whimper that sounded like, “Please?”.

I begged, “Ya think that some time I might drop by?”
She said, “No dear, ‘cuz the well’s gone dry.”

I gave it a try.
Nothing left to say
but
goodbye.

###

Miles

May 26, 2022

Today is Mile Davis’ birthday. I’m not a biographer and I’m not a jazz expert. I’m just a fan of the man and the genre, and as a fan I’ll say that I think Miles Davis was the most creative and influential artist in modern music. Or music history. Or ever.

“Don’t worry about playing a lot of notes. Just find one pretty one.”

Below is a video of one of Miles’ better-known tunes from the bestselling album in jazz history, “Kind of Blue”. Fair warning: if you listen to the song then it’s quite possible you’ll want to listen to the full album which is understandable. Listen and enjoy. However, should that happen, you may step into a rabbit hole where you’ll find yourself listening to not only more Miles, but to the sidemen (most notably for me, pianist Bill Evans) that made up the sextet on this album, all of whom went on to successful careers. That might lead you to explore the myriad types and styles of jazz, and once you’ve gone that far then all I can say welcome. I’m happy for you and give me a holler and tell me what you like and let’s listen to some stuff together.

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