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The Writing Thread

Discussion in 'Pop Culture Board' started by Nom Chompsky, Feb 22, 2011.

  1. Nom Chompsky

    Nom Chompsky
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    Honorary TiBette

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    I'm working on a story now, and it occurred to me that people might want to read/share writing on a thread here. It might not need its own forum (and this might not be the right one), but the more eyes, the better, right?

    In short: post your writing here, whatever type it is, if you want comments. I'll do my best to read everything and give feedback, and I imagine others will too.
     
  2. Clutch

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    I guess I'll throw something up. I wrote a piece for the fiction challenge that Ben Corman and Dr. Rob did a while back.

    You can find it on my site -> [Redacted]

    Any remarks/criticism are welcome.
     
    #2 Clutch, Feb 22, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2016
  3. effinshenanigans

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    Here's what's become a sort of journal filled with things I come up with during my commute to work. I haven't updated it in a long time, but I'm in the process of getting back at it again and figured I'd toss it up here.

    Link
     
  4. KIMaster

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    I've read a fair amount of amateur works (and used to write them myself), and one thing that always breaks up the flow of the work are punctuation, syntax, and similar grammar errors.

    For instance, the very first line would read better as "What city is this, Bernie?" instead of "What city is this Bernie?"

    "as he walked down the steps from the jet" would be clearer as "as he walked down the steps of the jet".

    "It was already dark out" would roll off the mental tongue better as "It was already dark outside."

    These all might seem like minor things, but they're really noticeable and distracting when you're reading through and trying to get into the story.

    Overall, I thought your writing wasn't bad, but for this particular story, what's the punchline? That is, what is the point or conclusion to the work? We're introduced to three characters and a couple of events, but then what?
     
  5. walt

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    Here's a couple I thought were pretty funny, and got a good response.

    http://commonmindthoughts.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/my-forgetable-moment-with-conan/

    http://commonmindthoughts.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/trouble-in-the-muppet-world-yet-again/

    There's a lot of different stuff on the site, some I'm not entirely thrilled with. However after deleting a bunch of stuff in the past and then wishing I hadn't, I vowed to just leave it alone for better or worse.

    I don't have much going on this weekend and plan on checking out everone elses's stuff then.
     
  6. nogro

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    I don`t have a website but wrote this vignette (?) and decided to share it here. Writing is a small hobby but it is something I enjoy doing and I want to get better:


    I sit in the couch and she is looking at me. When she left last night I remember thinking we had passed the point of no return. I tell her this. Her face bears the expression of many months of repressed pain. Through the menacing fog of an imminent break-up I distinctly see bravery. She has faced the proverbial music. I hate the contradictions spurred on by my own needs; why does such a big part of me want her to sacrifice hers for mine? I honestly thought we were happy. 6 weeks later I am baffled by why my own personality would blind me so.

    *

    I`m working and my mind wanders. The coffee I am drinking tastes of metal and bitterness and I think that this must be the taste of an adult liftetime working in an office. I momentarily congratulate myself on choosing a profession where I interact with people and that this job is part-time. I contemplate the fact that I can get away with surfing the web for such a significant amount of time and still accomplish my mundane tasks. I consider this a Pyrrhic victory; the spoils of battle are the blissful joys of procrastination while the objective of the war is discipline. I am on the losing end.

    *

    We are in the kitchen. She is crying. Why is this happening? I tell her that a break-up after six years is something that happens after months of insidious misery. We reassure each other but is this a lie? I tell myself that I am self-aware and insightful. More lies. But I don`t know it.

    *

    She cried last night. Or was it the day before? My mind has already forgotten. So has my heart. Is this symptomatic of egotism? My Id is too vocal but I don`t realize. The phone rings. In the office of my colleagues and I there is not much privacy. I answer and I hear tears. She tells me she has gone home to her parents and we both silently think everything is beyond repair. Three hours left of my shift before I return to an empty home. It is in its infancy but we had created it together. Together.

    *

    I am so drunk that I don`t know what I am doing. I touch her briefly and our tongues are sandpaper. I am desperately thirsty. I pass out and when I wake up in a tiny, empty bed, I distantly say goodbye to my friends and drive home. I remember having the weirdest dream. When I see the person I would do everything in the world for, I tell her it was real. Devastation. Impetus? Yes. 7 months later I am alone contemplating what the person who had been my most intimate companion had told me:

    “You are your own number one”.

    *

    She forgives you, slowly but you can feel it in your bones. You make the biggest mistake in your life and she puts her hand on your face and kisses you. We have cried together for 3 days. I truly challenge my capacity for emotional pain and the sincerity stirs her heart. My innate optimism makes me believe the future can be bright after all. But despite her compassion, this had been a transgression of trust that would erode her. She begs me to never put myself in a situation like this again. I promise her this. 2 months later I am once again quite inebriated without her. But I haven`t done anything wrong, I have kept my promise. I stain her cheeks with alcohol-infused saliva at four in the morning and tell her I love her. How can I be in love and still not see the fallacy in this?
    How?

    *

    Breakfast at eleven. We are in our pyjamas and I tease her and her laugh is a melody. We make love on a Sunday afternoon, existing only for each other. Her neck is so soft. This is now a memory, never to be relived again.
     
  7. $100T2

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    I write stuff here and there.

    This is something I got published in my school's literary review:

    Standing Watch

    The sun had just started peeking through the tree tops when the alarm began to squawk. Perimeter breach! I bolted up from a sound sleep and tore outside to assess the situation. There! Movement just past the tree line. I tore down the stairs from my normal guard post and raced like a blur to the disturbance in the brush, my feet kicking up rooster tails in the dusty soil. The hair was standing up on the back of my neck, my pulse was pounding furiously, and my teeth were clenched tight. Every sense hyper-alert, I slowed by the fence and started my patrol.

    I began at the northeast corner of the fence line. Everything seemed normal, but experience taught me that ambush could come at any time in these woods.

    I heard a hiss: “Mayhem, what’s going on?” I didn’t respond. I had a feeling that, this time, I held the upper hand and I was going to press my advantage. I crept low to the ground, careful to dodge the tangled undergrowth of the woods, every step carefully placed. I blended in, trying to become one with the forest.

    Snap.

    It was just a dried branch, but it gave me a direction. To the west, towards the drop-off a hundred yards into the woods by the swamplands; the favored point of attack from a few weeks ago. The alarm was still squawking, as if I wasn’t aware of the commotion. Good, the sound would only help mask the sound of my approach.

    Rustle, rustle, rustle, a sound came from just beyond a cluster of pines. Next, a scrape on the bark of a tree: Dead giveaway.

    “I hear you now, and you’re mine,” I thought to myself. Deeper into the woods I probed, quick glances left and right, heading towards the sound of steps through dried fall leaves. I paused to check a freshly disturbed coating of yellowed pine needles decomposing on the ground. Yes, I was definitely headed in the right direction. I hesitated briefly, scanning the rocky outcroppings, clusters of trees, and snarled bushes.

    Movement, again! It was just a single branch, but it was the tell tale snap back of passage, a vital clue I needed in my pursuit.

    I saw a quick flash of color, maybe a bit of white along with something a few shades darker, moving away briskly. If that branch hadn’t tipped me off I might not have noticed, but I was locked in. I acquired my target and ascertained the fastest bearing. Stealth went out the window, and I charged through the woods, my broad chest slamming aside the low branches of mountain laurel, and breaking through old, dead branches fallen from the pines. I didn’t even feel them, the occasional needle sticking into my coat, but nothing more serious than that.

    My prey was lightning quick, and seemed to slither through spaces I had to barrel through. It didn’t matter. I beat a path through the woods, careening like a pinball through a machine. It was only a matter of time until the pursuit was over, before I could drag my adversary back to my superiors. I would be triumphant.

    I heard a woman’s voice yell, “Shoot already!” I ignored it and continued the chase, driving, driving, driving my opponent out of the woods and into the clearing by the fence line. He was about ten yards ahead of me, trying to evade. He entered the clearing, then paused.

    The crack of gun shots, and it was over.

    The squawking died down.

    Everything became calm. His body lay on the ground, not even twitching. I approached slowly then paused to examine him, waiting for him to spring back up and run. It was not to be.

    “Mayhem, come on!”

    I trotted back over to the deck, climbed the stairs, and surveyed the hens pecking in the yard in front of the goat pen, their squawks now intermittent. My Dad, holding his rifle, gave me a rough scratch behind the ears, my favorite spot. My Mom gave me a cookie.

    “You’re a good dog, Mayhem. That fox won’t be killing any more of our chickens,” she said. “Maybe you’d like a nice scrambled egg for breakfast.”

    I wagged my tail. I am Mayhem, head farm dog. Enter my woods at your peril.
     
  8. $100T2

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    I wrote this for a creative writing class:

    US Fiscal Policy
    I went out yesterday and bought some groceries: Steak, lobster, and a wide variety of organic foods. I had to use my credit card, as my bank account was heavily overdrawn. Later, I used the same credit card to buy some band-aids, Tylenol, Ny-Quil and other supplies at the pharmacy. I took several five gallon gas containers down to my local station and filled them up, also courtesy of the card. Luckily it has a really high limit, so much so that it seems like there is no limit whatsoever, and I’m able to make all these purchases without a second thought.

    I owe a lot of money on this card, to the point that I’ll have to cash in my retirement, my wife’s retirement and my kids’ college funds to make a reasonable dent in the balance, but that’s ok.

    This afternoon, my wife brought our daughter back from the dentist. Turns out she needs braces. After running the numbers, I told her that we couldn’t afford it right now, but maybe next year things will improve enough to take care of it. My son complained that his shoes were too tight, so we enlarged the hole we had cut for his toes until we can scrape together enough money for a new pair. I wish I could take better care of things at home, but it's been pretty tough times of late.

    Anyway, the groceries, medical supplies and gas I bought? I gave them all to several of my neighbors last night. This morning, my neighbor Frank asked to borrow my car so he could go to the racetrack. I lent it to him because I know that’s where he goes every Wednesday, and his wife had taken their car the day before to buy cigarettes and crashed it. They only have one car and no insurance, but my cousin owns a body shop and takes credit cards, so I told them I would help them out with the repair bill. I lent him my car because I wanted to make sure his routine wasn’t thrown off; if I hadn’t lent it to him, how else could he go? I didn’t show up for work because he had my car, so I lost my job.

    But, at least I have that credit card. I’m so lucky to have it, it’s essential, because my neighbors want to have another baby, and they are going to need lots of things.


    And here's a poem for the same class. I am not a poet by any stretch of the imagination:

    The Blue Dog was the name
    Of the local pub
    Where my uncle was shot
    After a quarrel with a complete stranger
    About whether or not a
    Baseball has a mind of its own.
    Does it find the hole
    In the infield of its own accord
    To spoil the game
    To wreck his dreams
    To ruin his life in the bottom of the ninth
    Or does it, as the stranger proclaims,
    Simply follow the shape of the land
    A study in Chaos Theory,
    Of random chance,
    Like the flip of a coin or
    The odds that the blonde in the
    Corner has a carpet that
    Matches the drapes.
     
  9. KIMaster

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    Not bad! The punchline at the end was a good one, and your overall writing is decent. One suggestion I have is not to over-saturate the story with so many similes, metaphors, and expressions at the beginning. It's a very tempting thing to do, but also bogs down the work more than it actually paints a scene.

    Also, the middle portion is a little too standard and cliche. That helps set up the ending, but I would either shorten it, or make it more original and interesting.
     
  10. $100T2

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    I did all the metaphors on purpose to do the end.
     
  11. KIMaster

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    I would still cut down on them, and/or move more of them to the middle section, which is more sparse with them.
     
  12. TheDiminished

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    I decided to finally get around to writing again, any criticisms/praises would be really appreciated!

    “Once you understand the way broadly, you can see it in all things.” – Miyamoto Musashi

    “Slow down… relax.” My opponent tells me. I realize he might have been right, as I have been trying to basically smash the guy, so I decide to ease up a little. A moment later, I’m wondering if this is a good idea, as the next thing I know my face is smashed into the ground beneath me, my shoulder is twisted behind my head, and just for good measure, my wrist is tweaked. Reality sets in pretty quickly here : I am fucked. I can’t think of a lot of options to do here, so I decide to use the only way to escape this that I know. I tap the ground three times with my free arm. My opponent, a 60-something year old Syrian man releases my arm, lets me up, smiles, and says “You’ve got to learn to relax, use technique, no muscle.” To a lot of people, including myself at the time, this seemed like a very strange conclusion to a fight, but this was my first real experience to Brazilian jiujitsu, something that three years later would become a HUGE part of my life, and the only thing I have really had a huge passion for. February 15th, 2008.; this was my first taste of what really started my training. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

    In June of 2007, I was going through a huge transitional phase in my life. I had just spent a year living with a friend after a breakup with a live in girlfriend of a year (I can be an idiot at times, no doubt) and besides working, taking a couple classes in school, and starting to get into working out, I had really been doing nothing with my life. At 20 years old, I wasn’t sure how I had expected my life to plan out, but this sure as shit wasn’t it. My best friend Steve was having his roommates move out, and needed new ones, and knowing my situation suggested I move it. With the current state of my life I needed a change, so I decided to drop everything I had going on (which wasn’t a whole lot) and move to Corvallis to start going to school and get a change of scenery.

    Things didn’t go as I had expected at first. I was working for Hollywood Video at the time, and my job transfer didn’t go through at the time, largely in part to the coked-out manager of one the stores in Corvallis. As a result of this, I was working in Portland 4 days a week, then coming back to Corvallis for my three days off. My manager at the time and I were good friends, so he just let me crash on his couch during the days I was down. Either way, this came out to a 100+mile commute each way to and from Portland to Corvallis, leaving me with three days off in a row of free time to kill. Steve and I were 20 at the time, and without the option of going to bars at the time, we decided to kill time the most productive way possible: aggressively drinking.

    Not having cable at the time, and not being able to go out to bars left us with very few options. However working for Hollywood Video had its perks: free rentals. During my three days off, Steve and I would drink large amounts of cheap alcohol purchased for us by our third roommate who was not only over 21, but was conveniently home just long enough to stock us up. Over the next month, I caught up on several movies that I had just never had the chance to see: The Godfather movies, The Untouchables, Goodfellas, Casino… everything that I should have seen but never got around to. Then with those out of the way, we started watching dvds of UFC events. Think of every idiot you’ve seen watch UFC and say “Dude, I really want to try this. I could totally train MMA!” Yep. I was definitely one of those people. Surprisingly through the alcohol fog, I noticed something that threw me off. I was watching a fight between Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia, and Arlovski punches Sylvia, who falls down, then Arlovski sits down and grabs his leg. Next thing I know, Tim Sylvia is tapping out from a guy sitting on the ground holding on to his leg. I hear the announcer Joe Rogan commenting on this ‘jiujitsu’ thing, and mentioning how important it is to MMA. This one of the very few times in life where something really clicked for me, and I went ‘Shit, there’s really something to this.’

    This had me sold; I had to find a place to learn this jiujitsu thing at and pull off these weird attacks from being on the ground. My search ended up with me finding some videos of the Gracie family, founders of modern jiujitsu, and seemingly the best at the art. I kept looking and looking, but I just couldn’t find any places offering jiujitsu around the area. A few months later, I found a very simple website for a jiujitsu gym locally that was held out of a school mat room. The site hadn’t been updated for the good part of a year, and I remember coming across it previously and overlooking it due to the poor site maintenance. With all my options exhausted, I figured I’d show up and see if the place even still held these classes. Best case scenario I was going to see what jiujitsu was all about. Worst case scenario? I guess I was going be a 21 year old at a middle school at 6 at night.

    And what happened that night? That’s the first part of this, I got my ass kicked, realized I had no clue what I was doing, but could already tell there was totally something to this. Three years later I’m still hooked. Gave up the MMA idea and switched my focus just to this jiujitsu thing. I’ve had about a month off due to injury and am almost ready to get my ass back in the gym, but I still have been watching a couple hours of tape a night. I guess when you’re really in, you’re in for good.
     
  13. andrasaid

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    Well, it was bound to happen. Always does. Inevitable. Gravitational constant. All that jazz and jive and jovial junk. Stacey did it. That one hurt. That was like a nice, hard punch in the stomach. A dull pain. Unlike a pinch in that no testosterone was produced post-infliction. Unlike a punch in the face in that it didn’t knock me out cold. No, this was one that you could take a nice, juicy bite out of. Let it sit. Like a steak infested by flies and maggots.
    Theresa sure was nice about it. Even though she questioned my character. I wasn’t “nice”. I always thought I was nice. I guess it’s a pretty subjective thing - “niceness” that is. I can see her point of view. What I lack in “niceness” I make up for in empathy. And being a dick. A huge dick. But it was funny. Comical. I didn’t really mean to hurt her feelings. She must have mistook my sense of irony and sarcasm for being a massive dick. I can her point of view.
    She was always questioning things about me. She thought I was attractive. The slippery slope slid down and landed on the assumption that I slept with a lot of women. My good will towards the common man was somehow misconstrued as a slick sort of charm normally reserved for a 55 year old used-car salesman in Des Moines who consumes TV dinners and Hams on the weekdays at 10:30 PM. I was an athlete. I was in good shape. This only went further to confirm her assumption. I studied psychology. Clearly I analyzed every move she made and every word she spoke. I went home after the burgers and beers we usually consumed and wrote down the nights events in short-hand with my developmental psychopathology notebook handy. If only. What a hoot.
    I was enjoying the sex. Even though she gave me a rash. A friction rash. I think. Simply friction. I hope. Yeah, it was the friction. I didn’t blame her. I didn’t get mad. I didn’t show her. She said I should have showed her. In broad daylight. In my car. I didn’t show her. It went away after a day or two.
    She had a pot belly. It didn’t bother me. I kinda liked her shape. I never really liked skinny girls anyway. She had an issue “staying wet”. I took pride in getting her “wet”. I liked her better when she was “wet”. Don’t we all?
    Her breasts were really small. We went to the beach at midnight when we first met and swam in the ocean naked. Before we had sex. Before we did anything, besides kiss. I noticed her small breasts. They were misshapen. I didn’t mind. I liked her small, misshapen breasts. They had character. Yeah. That’s it. Character.
    I told her she assumed a lot of things about me. I told her I was hurt by this. I really wasn’t. I assume things about people too. I can be vicious - what with the generalizing and stereotyping and assuming and what not. I never really assumed anything about her. I used this against her. It felt good to have this in my back pocket, like a cigarette at midnight when you’ve had that perfect amount to drink and could really go for a smoke. This was my cigarette. Intoxicating.
    I think she’ll call me. We’ll probably have sex again. Go on a few dates. And then dissolution. Very dissolvable, these little relationships are. We all know what we really want. A warm body. A moist opening. A few laughs. Never any real conclusions. Are the neurons firing? Is the intricate web building and building upon itself in an intricate design - one that I cannot even fathom or begin to understand? Probably. I’ll never know. Mine is. My web is building. The dampness has a way of disintegrating the layers, though. Time to rebuild. Busy ants are happy ants. Best not to question these things. Adhere to the will of the tide. It knows what it’s doing.
     
  14. Glass Onion

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    Poem I wrote a year ago for a creative writing class… Pretty amateur I know, but thanks in advance for any criticism.

    Home is where the heart is
    kept in a glass case on the mantlepiece.
    Only look, don't touch,
    this is its rightful place.

    God's sleight of hand.
    Sometimes your bust
    and sometimes you flush.
    At mercy to the Dealer's draw

    Change is only in your eyes.
    The people that you come back to
    are one and the same
    with the people you left behind.
     
  15. $100T2

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    My poem "The Blue Dog" was published in this year's literary review, as was this short story:

    When I had finally learned to read and could make out the words on the stern, I asked my Grandma Borgie what “At Last” meant.
    “That’s what Grandpa named her when he finally got her,” was her response.

    At Last was my Grandpa’s thirty foot boat, and since Grandpa was my best friend in the world and loved her, so did I. She wasn’t much to look at, just a plain white cabin cruiser built in the ‘30s or ‘40s, about as fast on the water as a dog swimming, but she was a boat! We could go fishing, or she could take us to Vashon Island or Fox Island. We even cruised her down to Poulsbo, Washington’s “Little Norway”. She had four beds the size of shoe boxes, a tiny electric stove where Grandma Borgie would cook my brother and I Spaghetti-Os for lunch, and a table where we would sit and play pinochle. My brother and I would go to Tacoma every summer for three weeks, and the first thing we always asked was if we could spend a night on the boat. We’d sleep on her, tied to the dock, and thought it was the greatest thing ever. She was our clubhouse.

    I was eight when Grandpa Ralph let me take the wheel for the first time. Ralph Lovoll had come from Norway when he was in his twenties and still had his accent. He had started calling me “Kevy-boy” when I was a toddler, and it was something he never gave up. I didn’t like anyone else to call me that, even Grandma, but it was OK if Grandpa did. As the youngest in the family, I was tortured with it by everyone else anyway.

    “Ok, Kevy-boy, vat yer gonna do is, yer gonna jus’ turn da veel vit yer fingertips, ja?”

    Sure Grandpa, I’m just going to use my fingertips. I held the wheel with a death grip, like I was in a top fuel dragster and At Last was suddenly going to behave like a hydrofoil. I sat in the captain’s chair, barely tall enough to peek over the gleaming mahogany wheel or the wide dashboard. There were gauges I didn’t understand, dials I didn’t understand, and a couple levers that “ve’re jus’ not gonna even touch dose, okie dokie Kevy-boy? Ve jus’ leave dose vere dey are.”

    She climbed up to her top speed of 5 knots, which converts to a whopping 6 miles per hour. To an eight year old on the water though, it felt like flying. She bounced through the gentle whitecaps and rolling waters of Puget Sound, heading towards the Narrows Bridge and its massive concrete pilings. We were getting close enough that I expected Grandpa to take over any second. The bridge drew closer and closer. I looked over, he gave me a reassuring pat on the shoulder, said, “Yer doin jus’ fine, Kevy-boy, steady as she goes”, and let me take her through. I was in charge, at last.
     
  16. $100T2

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    Here's a creative non-fiction piece I did for the same Creative Writing class. Yes, it's 100% true and 100% as I remember it.

    Closure

    Brenda and I kept a little notebook that we’d write “sweet nothings” to each other in; just little love notes any time we felt the other person did something special or if we ever felt particularly romantic. The fact that after a year and a half we were only up to page 8 basically sums up the whole relationship, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw her scribbling furiously in the notebook one day.

    Brenda was a tall, willowy girl, about 5’10” with long brown curly hair. She was also deaf. I met her when I was working at Bank of America in Southern California in 1994. She came in to do… whatever the hell it was she needed to do there, and I knew American Sign Language, so my boss called me over to interpret. After that, every time she’d come into the bank, she’d come to my window. After a while, we exchanged phone numbers and would talk through the relay service. I went out and got a Telephone Device for the Deaf, or TDD, so we could talk on our own. Think of it as real time text messaging.

    Eventually, we started seeing each other. Well, let’s rephrase that: I started sleeping with her, and somewhere, somehow, it turned into a relationship. It wasn’t so much as a “Hey, you wanna go steady?” thing as it was a “We spend more time together than apart, so I guess it’s a relationship” thing. We eventually moved in together, settling in an apartment in Tempe, Arizona. Why Tempe? Because in what I have come to term “Brenda Logic”, Tempe was a great move: My family was in Southern California, and her Mom was going to get re-married and move to Texas. Rather than be close to either my family or hers, Brenda thought, “Let’s live halfway in between both!” My thought was, “Hey, that sure will be inconvenient!” but Brenda was stubborn as a mule and insisted it would work. We went to Tempe to look around for a week, and it seemed nice enough that I thought it might not be too horrible. I was 21, she was 24. She told me she loved me. I agreed, mostly because I didn’t know what I felt. Love, indigestion, who knows? I didn’t want to hurt her and I had never been one to break up with a girl, so rather than put an end to something I knew I didn’t want, I went along with it.

    Imagine having a relationship with someone from a totally different culture, moving in and trying to start a life together, all while living in a new city. It was the relationship from Hell. As soon as I walked into our new apartment in Arizona, the thought hit me like sudden onset diarrhea after some bad Chinese food: What am I doing in this city, in this state, with this woman? Am I out of my mind? We lasted 7 months in Tempe before tucking our tails and moving back to California. The only thing we brought with us from Arizona was my new best friend, a half Rottweiler, half Great Dane, half Buick named Bosko I bought for fifty bucks from an ad in the paper. Yes, that’s three halves: He was a big dog. Big to the tune of 165 pounds.

    We moved into an apartment I didn’t like in an area of the valley which was miles away from everyone I knew. Super. After about five months, Brenda hadn’t bothered to get a job and spent most of her days hanging out with other deaf people, mostly getting high. This sure was going places. That’s when I came home to her writing in the notebook. The notebook I had pretty much forgotten about. The notebook with approximately one quarter inch of dust on it.

    She finished writing and put it away. Then, she went to shower. I had to read it, in awe of the fact she felt anything not describable by the words “hatred”, “disgust”, or “loathing” which would have been the gist of any entries I would have made at this point.

    “It’s been decided,” the note began. “I’m moving back to Fremont with my mom.” Fremont was in northern California, about 600 miles away. Great. Now I’m stuck in an apartment I hate, away from everyone I know, and the whole reason I’m here is moving. “I’ll come down to visit as much as I can, I want to marry you someday, and I love you!” Yes, that’s right: I love you, but I’m moving eight hours away. The logic was baffling, unless you suspend reality and apply the Tempe decision making mindset to it.

    We had a bit of a chat that night, Brenda and I. She told me that she was leaving that weekend, but planned to have a long distance relationship. I told her that if she left, she shouldn’t be expecting a warm return. Think angry villagers and pitchforks, I said.

    She moved out three days later. She took all her clothes, all the furniture, and my CD collection. Yes, the deaf girl took my CDs. I didn’t care, Bosko and I could make do. At least she was gone, and I didn’t have to be the bad guy and end things. I didn’t have to do the dirty work, I could just let the relationship fade away and move on without having to really deal with the nonsense. I brought over my old furniture from my parents garage and in no time, Bosko and I were hanging out on my two person papa-san chair, one of those bamboo dishes with the big cushion in it, living out of pizza boxes, and leading the dream life of bachelors.

    Feeding Bosko was a full time job: He would go through a fifty pound bag of dog food in ten days. What goes in must come out, and we lived in an apartment, so walks were a frequent thing. Other than those excursions, we’d watch basketball games, sleep, and live like slobs. It was fantastic.

    A month or two after Brenda left, my best friend came by to pick me up for our regular football game with the fellas. We all had jerseys of our favorite college or pro teams, and we’d play tackle football, no pads, first team to ten touchdowns wins. The games were failures if no one needed stitches or crutches and was one of the highlights of the spring. We left my apartment with all our stuff for the game, jerseys on, cleats strung over our shoulders. On our way out, we noticed a woman moving in.

    “Hey guys,” she said, “can you two young studs help me get my couch upstairs?”

    In lieu of money, flattery always works: We grabbed her couch and brought it up to her apartment. Her name was Linda, and she was moving in three doors down the hall. She thanked us, and we were on our way.

    Bosko and I continued our pattern of walks. One night as we were heading down the hall, Linda opened her door. “Hey, there. Umm, is he… friendly?” If there was one sentence I was used to hearing in regards to that dog, it was “Is he… friendly?” Note the pause. That was code for, “Is your monster going to swallow me whole, or is he going to rip me into little pieces first?”

    “Yes, he’s totally friendly. Don’t let the size fool you, he’s a sweetheart,” I replied. Bosko decided he could spare thirty seconds that day for manners, and rather than rip my arm out of its socket as was customary on our way to a walk, actually sat down and gave his best smile and tail wag.

    “Would you two mind if I came walking with you? I don’t want to walk alone at night, and I know I wouldn’t have to worry with you guys around.”

    I had no problem with her joining us. Bosko, for all his charms, wasn’t exactly a conversationalist and I was worried that soon I’d lose my grasp of the English language if he was the only one I had to talk to. Linda accompanied us on our regular walk of about 3 miles, and told me a bit about herself. She was 39 years old, had been divorced for about 8 years, and was trying to start her own business. She was pretty, in good shape, and looked like the actress Diane Lane. There could definitely be worse companions. She seemed to like our company, and started walking with us every night. Then, she started joining us for our afternoon walks and eventually would come with us to the beach on weekends, too. Bosko got so used to her coming down the hall that when he heard her door open, he’d hop up in the window madly wagging his tail (which was referred to as “The Eighteen Inches of Death” among my friends), waiting for her to show up.
    After our walk one night, I told Linda I was going to order a movie on pay-per-view, and she was welcome to come over. She said sure, and even brought popcorn. We settled onto the papa-san couch and started the movie. Bosko was a bit annoyed because he usually got to curl up with me to watch TV, but he quietly went into my room and fell asleep on my bed.

    Linda was a bit flirty that night, which surprised me. The age difference was 16 years, pretty substantial, but I decided to go with it. I busted out my “A” game.

    “So Linda, on a scale of 1 to 10, how attracted to me are you?” Yes, I was quite the ladies’ man.

    She smiled at me, a sexy little smile, and said, “What does it matter? I’m 39, you’re only 23.”

    “I could be your boy toy,” I responded.

    “No, I don’t think so.”

    We bantered like this for the whole movie, and I was getting shot down like the Iraqi air force.

    “So, you don’t want me to come over there and kiss you?” I persisted. Write these lines down gentlemen, they’re keepers.

    “Maybe I do,” she said. “So what are you going to do about it?”

    The gauntlet was thrown down, and I accepted the challenge. Ten minutes later, we were in her apartment completely undressed.

    I came back to the apartment in the morning humming “Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson”, and Bosko greeted me with a big hug and tail wag.

    Later that night, he and I went out for our regular walk but Linda was nowhere to be found. We headed out the front gate of the building just as she was walking in, dressed to kill in a tight black dress.

    With a guy in tow.

    I said hello, told Bosko, “C’mon boy, let’s go running,” and went about our normal business. We came back about half an hour later and on our way back to our place, we passed by Linda’s door. It opened quickly and she practically leapt out, like a mugger from a dark alley.
    “Oh my god, I’m so sorry!” she said. “I had already agreed to a date with that guy, but it doesn’t mean anything, don’t be upset. I was so afraid you guys were going to come outside when he brought me home, I hope you aren’t hurt by this.”

    I laughed. “I don’t care,” I said. “It’s no big deal.”

    She actually looked upset that I wasn’t upset, which made it even funnier to me. Not so much to her, though.

    I took Bosko back to my place to get him some water after our run. Not two minutes went by, and there was a knock at my door. Bosko started prancing and wagging his tail. I opened the door, and Linda was standing there in a white satin robe. She walked in and opened it, and she was wonderfully, gloriously naked. A guy could get used to that.

    In the morning, Bosko wasn’t quite so happy, as Linda had usurped his side of the bed. He expressed his dismay by eating three VHS tapes. Linda and I continued this pattern for about two weeks, but things rapidly got weird. I viewed it as a convenient thing, having this woman right down the hall, coming over every night. Linda, however, had other ideas.

    “Why don’t we go away on a trip? There are some other couples I know…”, or “Maybe we could go out with some of your friends, I’d love to get to know them…” Then came, “How about we have your parents over for dinner?” Couples? We? The alarms started to ring in my head. This was moving awfully fast, and the direction was eerily familiar. Visions of Tempe danced in my head.

    She took it further and faster. I came home from work and there would be messages on my answering machine. Multiple messages. As many as thirteen in a day, and all included variations of “Honey”, “Baby”, or “Sweetie”. I did what most any 23 year old guy would do: I blew her off. She responded by trying harder. I became more and more distant. After about a month of this, she finally got the hint. I came home to no messages, no surprise visits. No sex either, but I could live with that.

    About five days later, I was in the shower when I heard the doorbell. I wasn’t expecting anyone, so I took my time getting out and getting dressed. When I went to leave, there was an envelope taped on my door with just my first name written in an angry, feminine hand. Oh boy. Linda had written me a letter. Surprisingly, she hadn’t stuck it to the door with an arrow or a dagger, but that was about the only thing missing. It was three pages long.

    Three pages of emotion. Three pages of anger. Three pages of intensity, bordering on hatred. Three pages of what a dick I was for rejecting her offer of love. Three pages of what an asshole I was for ignoring her. Three pages of how I was going to regret missing out on the best thing I’d ever have. It was actually over the top to the point of being hysterically insane, the kind of letter you’d expect to come from The Joker in the Batman comics. She had typed it in a hurry, in frustration, and just slapped it on my door.

    “This is my closure, you immature asshole,” she ended it.

    Me, an immature asshole? No! Never! However, a letter like this warranted a response and the wheels started to turn. What could I possibly do to answer this?

    That’s when I noticed something: It was also three pages of typos. Three pages of misspellings. Three pages of grammatical errors.
    I hunted through my drawers and found a red pen. I slashed commas, corrected spelling, searched for every possible mistake I could find.

    Indent!

    Punctuation!

    Run-on sentence!

    New paragraph!

    You name it, I corrected it. Hell, I made up some mistakes, just to make sure there was the absolute maximum amount of red ink on the page. I gave it a D-minus, wrote, “There’s my closure”, and slapped it on her door.

    Two days later, my door bell rang. Visions of Linda either holding some sort of weapon or maybe looking for extra credit to improve the grade on her paper popped in my head, but I was in for quite a surprise: It was Brenda. I opened the door, and Bosko peeked out from my room where he had been sleeping to see who had come by. Brenda saw him and said, “Hi Bosko! Come here boy!” He looked at her, looked at me, turned around and went back to his nap. Now, that’s a good dog!

    “Hi Kevin, I’ve missed you!” she signed. “I came to stay with you for the weekend. Are you going to let me in, honey?”

    “Sorry, no honey here,” I responded. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the sign for “closure”. I did, however, know the sign for “Go fuck yourself”, which I promptly employed, followed by shutting the door in her face. In hindsight, it’s too bad she hadn’t left that notebook behind: I could have graded it for her.
     
  17. KIMaster

    KIMaster
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    Emotionally Jaded

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    Firstly, I would re-do the description of your relationship with deaf girl Brenda. I feel like I don't know Brenda from Eve; there is so little description of who she was. I would also explain your own thought process, and the 7 months you spent in Tempe, as well as the 5 months you spent in SoCal. What were your initial feelings were upon sleeping with her, how did things change? You lightly touched upon them, but not to where I feel I know either Brenda, or understand your own headspace aside from a fear of saying "no" or being the "bad guy".

    I know it's merely a set-up, but it needs more.

    On another note, I would re-phrase your language in a lot of places. None of it is bad per se, but it lacks a certain punch, and occasionally, the syntax is off. A random example is the first meeting with Linda... "Hey. Can you two studs" or even "Hey guys!! Can you two studs" works better than "Hey guys can you two studs...", as the latter sounds weird in a single sentence.

    "We grabbed her couch and brought it up to THE apartment" is also better than repeating the her in your current "We grabbed her couch and brought it up to her apartment", for instance. Putting "companions" so close to the word "company" is also a bad repetition. This is a problem I struggle with myself in my writings, so I readily notice it.

    Also, I'm a bit unsure about the punchline.

    You learned to stand up for yourself and be the "bad guy" for a change? I feel like that transition could have been handled better.

    Overall, it's a decent piece, but there is plenty of work to do.
     
  18. Glass Onion

    Glass Onion
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    Village Idiot

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    Story I wrote for my creative writing class…


    Those familiar smells crept into my nose as I walked in, stale cigarette smoke and the stench of beer, smells not exactly pleasant in the way that a flower is pleasant yet at this particular day and hour I couldn't imagine a scent more satisfying. The low lights causing shadows to huddle in every corner of the room make this place seem uninviting, but it's only another one of life's examples that proves that almighty phrase, don't judge a book by it's cover. Nods of recognition but more often handshakes and loud vocal greetings are exchanged with these men from my town, many of them I call my friends, a kinship founded over nights such as this where the drinks flow and our stories along with them. I suppose it might have seemed a strange thing to an outsider, as many of these men were more than ten years my senior, but they had forgiven me my youth, just as I had forgiven their age. Wisdom's not a thing that should be given blindly, anyways; it has to be earned.

    An old man with skin ravaged by age, with a face worn and leathery through years of punishing hard liquor rose and shook my hand. Tommy boy, how've you been?

    I've been doing fine, Mr. Moss.

    Heard you took the week off to do some traveling. Up to Austin?

    That's right.

    A little far North, no?

    Not a bad thing to see a city once in a while. My God, you ever seen a building more'n two stories high?

    Only in pictures, my son, I read my 'paper every morning.

    Maybe you should think about getting yourself cultured.

    Good-natured jeers rose up from the crowd surrounding us. I gotta place ain't too pretty where you can stick your culture. I hear you can't get a pretty lady to suck your dick up there for less'n a hunnerd dollars.

    And I hear a pretty lady can be hard to find in this place.

    Raucous laughter rose from the crown of drunken men at that comment, with hollers of 'That's the truth!' and general cries of agreement. Groups of homely-looking women wearing too much makeup were scattered sparsely here and there, some slow dancing to the twangy ballads coming from the jukebox. We were a long way from New York City, that's for sure. Girls like these would be found at dawn in a gutter in Times Square with the meat picked off their bones. In any city, for that matter. As years of hard labor had given these men hard, handsome features, it had the opposite effect on the women. The beating sun and the constant air of dirt and dust had worn their faces down 'til no distinction was left. Their yellow sun-burdened eyes stared out from faces which seemed to retreat outward from the harshness which their eyes had witnessed, leaving their features without personality and incapable to be loved.

    Not for you, 'parentally. Don't let your honey over there hear you say that.

    I saw her, she so unlike the others, sitting at the bar alone, her back to me. Her blonde hair fell down the back of her colorful tank top, enhanced by the dirty yellow lights above the bar, making it appear even brighter than normal. I had met her, my Carlene, about six months ago. No one's ever seen six months fly by so quickly. She came here from up north, north meaning near the Oklahoma border, from a borderline rich family. Of course, anywhere near the borderline of rich constitutes rich down here. She left her family after high school as I had, but, unlike me, she wasn't leaving behind family expectation's of her going to college and the like. She never talked much about it, except to say that she had become restless. She didn't want to follow the same life path that her mother and her grandmother had. That was a notion I certainly could relate to.

    I excused myself from the entanglement of people around me and slid onto the stool next to her.

    Haven't seen you around here before, she said.

    Well I'm not one to stay in one place for too long a time, I responded, playing my part.

    Then what brings you to this town?

    Work.

    Of what kind?

    I'd rather not say.

    She tittered laughter, and met my eyes with a warm stare and a smile touching the corners of her mouth.

    I like watching you out there with all your friends. Everyone loves you here you know. You're what they'd call - what's that word? - gregarious.

    Well, if I knew what that meant I may or may not be inclined to agree.

    She laughed again. I wasn't a particularly funny man, I think she just wanted to do whatever made me happy. I understood cause I wanted to make her happy in the same way. Simple as that.

    Another undereducated country boy, huh? So tell me more about this 'work' you're involved in.

    I nodded my head towards a scruffy man seated at one of the tables behind us. Jimmy's got a job for us. Still need to work it out with him. Can't talk about it here.

    I thought you've never been here before.

    I'm here too damn much.

    ***
    Jimmy lifted his hand as I spotted him sitting in his truck across the fluorescent-spotted parking lot. I returned a nod of recognition and walked to the passenger's side and got in. Yellowed cigarette butts littered the center console and crumpled, stained papers lined the dashboard. He looked at me with his trademark easy smirk, holding it casually out of the window.

    Let's drive, buddy.

    We followed the not so bright glow of his headlights down the empty town road past nondescript business buildings and diners and laundromats and weakly lit lamp posts that likely hadn't received maintenance in years until we reached the residential area of town. The wind ripped through the open window on Jimmy's side, making conversation impossible until he parked his car in front of his small one-story home and switched off the ignition. He turned his face to give me a comically serious look.

    You've got to be quiet now, I don't want to wake my Ma.

    When are you gonna get your own place, man?

    Sorry I don't have a rich little girl to bed down with like you.

    Oh please.

    'Sides, you know my momma's old, she needs someone to take care of her.

    You and I both know that you're momma's stronger'n a bull. That ain't no excuse.

    Well.

    He smirked and got out of the car, and I followed. When we got to the door, he mocked a shushing gesture, opened the door and stepped inside. Jimmy's mother looked up from her book, sitting on an easy chair with a lamp lit behind her in the quaint, pastel-wallpapered living room of the house.

    Ma, what are you doing up this late?

    Settin' here worried sick. What are you thinking common' back so late it's nearly morning. Were you with a woman?

    God, Ma, no. See, Tommy's here.

    Oh, Tommy. How are you?

    Just fine, ma'am.

    Ma, you get on to bed, Tommy and I are gonna head downstairs. We're all fine.

    Having one of your sleepover, eh, just like old times? She laughed.

    Good one, Ma.

    We walked down the creaking wooden steps to the basement. Once we hit the cement floor, Jimmy flipped on the lights. A bed was pushed into the far corner with only a thin pillow and a wool blanket on top of the mattress. There was not much else in the small, must cellar save for a small television on top a waist-high wooden dresser and an exercise machine that looked as if it had been placed there only for storage. I let out a long whistle. Jimmy looked at me, no shadow of a smirk remaining.

    I mean, talk about small time.

    Jimmy, wordlessly and defeated, walked to the bed and reached under the center of the mattress. After a few moments of blindly groping he pulled out an envelope.

    In here's the key and instructions on where to find the truck you'll be taking.

    I took the envelope from him. I appreciate you getting to the point buddy, but lighten up a bit. I was just joking, you got a nice operation going on here.

    This isn't gonna be like every other time, Tommy, I told you. I -

    I know, I know Jimmy, I can handle it.

    Well, what else do you want to know?

    I'm meeting' a couple fellas out in the open, and we're gonna exchange some dope for some money. 'Sides that, I got everything I need to know right here.

    You're unbelievable, man. You better be goddamn safe out there.

    Always am.

    ***

    The door awoke her as I walked back into the apartment just as day broke that morning, the burning yellow desert sun already sending beams of heat through the space between the drapes, forming a slit of light which crept up the bed and onto her upturned face and hair. It was moments like these I was most struck by her, moments when she was at her most vulnerable. Books were piled in small stacks and strewn across the floor, hers mostly, but I had begun to get some of my own rather than relying on her. She said that just because she hadn't gone to college didn't mean she wasn't going to continue her education. I really admired that. I was always a reader myself, something my mother and father never understood. While they'd set themselves in front of our television every night I'd be under the covers in my room, reading whatever paperback Western my Dad could find me. Reading about outlaws and indians, shootouts and saloons, fed my imagination in a way I haven't felt since. Carlene's books aren't nearly the same as those, but I caught up quick enough. She always said that I was smart. I don't know about all that.

    Where you been, baby?

    At Jimmy's. We gotta get going soon, up and at 'em honey.

    Ain't it a little early to be sellin' drugs?

    Baby, you know these men don't sleep. 'Sides, since when've you ever complained Carlene?

    You know I love my work. Just go in the kitchen and boil me up a pot of coffee, all for myself.

    I tell ya, the nerve of you. C'mon, put some clothes on.

    She gave me a wry smile. You want to think about what you just said to me?

    Shit, you're right. I jumped onto the bed as she let out a piercing girlish scream which broke down into laughter.

    ***

    This deal - it's a lot bigger than we're accustomed to.

    She sat across from me at the small white formica-top table in the thread-bare kitchen in our apartment, stirring her coffee, looking into my eyes intently. She could be serious when she needed to be. She had a nose for the game, and a thirst for it. I saw in her a lot of me, strange as that may sound. Any other time we acted like the kids we were, but when it came to talking business, our relationship showed another dynamic, one of curt, bare-bone respect and efficiency. She could pass between these two personalities like the flip of switch.

    Bigger is better, right?

    ''Course it is. You just need to be aware, is all. This isn't gonna be another back-alley deal.

    Where are we doing it?

    'Bout fifteen miles outta town. We're meeting them in the desert.

    Who's them?

    All I know is they're from down South. Cartel-types.

    The Mexican cartels were the guys who controlled drug operations across the entire border. You wanted drugs, you bought from them, you wanted to sell drugs, you asked their permission first. Real bad motherfuckers, you know, tattoos and guns and all that, the works, basically. They had a reputation for being ruthless and violent. To me, this didn't change the fact that they were businessmen.

    Señores?

    I don't know. Maybe. Likely.

    You didn't think to ask Jimmy about this kinda thing?

    That kinda thing doesn't matter to me.

    Cocaine was a drug we dealt with strictly as a commodity. Not to say I'd never used the stuff once or twice - but never any of the product entrusted to us. To go that way would be to willingly head head-first down a slippery slope. We took pride in the way we conducted our business, is all. God knows it wasn't because we were prudes - I'd caught enough shit from my mother and father for my behavior to know that I 'needed to take a serious look at the way I lived my life.

    What if it were to a group of twelve-year old Mexican gangsters?

    C'mon.

    Her face broke into a smile. Real OG's! she said in between a fit of giggles.

    The flip of the switch.

    ***


    We roared down the road and yet the view of the desert out my window seemed to be at a standstill, the landscape rarely changing except for a cactus or a sand-colored rock. I've always romanticized the desert nonetheless, in a way. The sinisterness of the landscape appealed to me in it's anti-poetic nature, the sparseness, the absence of almost all life replaced by choking dust and the blaring sun.

    Carlene sat in the passengers seat, muttering along to the music coming from the radio, always with a smile on her lips, paying no mind to the potential danger of our upcoming venture, instead feeding off the potential adventure and tangible excitement. It wasn't hard to see why I loved her - I drew upon her excitement like a man gathers around the fire to stay warm. At the heart of her, she was still a little girl, and I only a boy. She liked to fancy ourselves as a couple of bandits. I was all too happy to play along. We treated our lives as a game, only 'cause it was more fun that way.

    Honey, what you doin'?

    Turning on this road right here.

    This isn't a road, it's a rut.

    Following my supplier's directions had led us onto a trail only visible by tire tracks that looked to have been fairly recently tread through the barren landscape. My truck hitched up and down violently as it rumbled across the uneven terrain, making the two of us bounce along with it. I shot her a smile, attempting reassurance, even though I could quickly tell it was unneeded. She seemed to be enjoying this part just as well. It wasn't as if we weren't a bit nervous, we'd have to be inhuman not to be. I soon spotted what looked like two Broncos parked far up ahead, their image distorted through the shimmering haze from the heat of the sun, making them appear mirage-like. This certainly wasn't the type of deal we were accustomed to, but then again, these weren't the small-time hustlers we were accustomed to either. If we wanted to make a bigger score we weren't going to be making deals in bars and parking lots anymore. Two men became visible as we pulled closer, one holding what looked like an assault rifle longer than his arm. Another thing we'd have to get used to, I suppose.

    They don't look like they're here to deliver the mail, she said.

    Reach under your seat.

    She patted the floor under her seat with her under until it found purchase. She pulled out a small grey handgun and held it before her, balanced in her, gazing from it to me.

    If this business has taught me anythin', it's better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.

    Look at you, she said, leaning over divider between the seats and kissing my cheek. Bad man.

    ***

    I love Mexicans.

    You know I can't believe the things you say sometimes.

    She clutched my hand and gave me that sweet smile. Let's go, I said, tucking my handgun into the front of my jeans.

    We stepped out of the car simultaneously, boots crunching on the dry desert sand, immediately hit by the stale desert air. The slam of the car doors was the only sound that punctuated the atmosphere as we approached the two brown-skinned, dead-faced men standing beside their vehicles. Their lack of expression was a bit disconcerting, not to mention the aforementioned rifle the one held onto like a crutch, it's butt on the ground, it's muzzle facing upright. A quick peek over at Carlene's brave face as she stared at these two men, returning their solemn glare, was enough to squash any feelings of uneasiness I had. I wonder if she knew how much I relied on her. Likely she did.

    Now, please tell me you speak the inglés.

    Yes, the man without the gun said. His face remained slack and emotionless.

    Follow me then, gentlemen.

    I walked towards the back of my truck with Carlene keeping pace beside me. The Mexicans followed behind, slowly.

    Couple-a dead fish we got here, she muttered under her breath.

    Just keep cool, honey.

    Who do you think you're talking to?

    We stood together by the open bed of my truck, my hand gripping the tarp, ready to reveal the product to our new amigos. They brought up the rear, treading almost in slow-motion until they were in front of us.

    Now you don't seem like the type of fellas that enjoy their mariachi music on a Friday night. I thought Mexicans were supposed to be passionate. I'd even prefer if you were a couple of hot-heads.

    They only stared back, but expressed the first sign of humanity since we had met them- confusion.

    Forget it. Where's the money?

    The man with the gun slung a satchel off of his back with a deft motion of his shoulder, and handed it to the other man. His eyes darted quickly between myself and Carlene before he untied the top of the bag unto packs of bills piled on top of one another.

    That's a lot of pesos, Carlene said.

    I pull the tarp sideways towards me, revealing the bundles of cocaine stacked one atop the other in the bed of the truck.

    And here's what all that money's for.

    Carlene tentatively reached out for the satchel of money. Not a smart move, in retrospect. A drug deal such as this has a certain etiquette. One false move and the delicate, flimsy structure of security can be smashed to smithereens, leaving only the discretion of men to rely on, which is about as stable as a chair missing it's two front legs. Carlene realized her mistake halfway through the act and attempted to draw back, but it was too late. The twitch of her hand towards the money bag led to the man holding the money to retreat backwards, which led to the man with the gun to raise his rifle ever so slightly, which triggered my adrenaline-fueled fight or flight response. I snatched the gun out of my waistband, and before I could comprehend what was even happening, whipped my pistol across the face of the man with the gun.

    The crunch of the bridge of his nose splintering and his body dropping onto the ground was the only sound for a split second as everyone stared in shock, until the other Mexican lunged for my gun. But the shock had left him slow and stumbling. I was able to get my hands up, dropping the gun, and we locked together like two exhausted prizefighters, pushing against each other lamely. In all of the ten seconds this took place, Carlene stood immobile, simply staring. Seeing myself attached to the man in a mortal lock, however, she acted quickly, and lunged desperately but smartly for the Mexican's legs, and pulled at them as if she was trying to uproot a weed well-trenched into the soil. Her attempts were enough to influence the already imbalanced Mexican and he went down sideways, with me on top of him. He flattened out on his back, and my knees were on his stomach, pushing his diaphragm in until there was scarcely enough room for him to catch his breath. When I noticed him reaching for the gun, I locked my hands around the man's neck, pushing my hands down violently, completely unawares of my technique, even unaware of what my hands were doing, only focused on one thing, which was to murder this man.

    The thing that struck me was the lack of sound. Feelings as intense as the ones I felt and actions as brutal as the ones which occurred felt like they should have be accompanied by a chorus. But this was not so. Only the crunching of the man with the gun's nose as I shattered it with my pistol. And the brief struggle between me and the other man, which elicited a few grunts, and finalized by the last exhale of breath that man would ever emit on this earth. And a few moments later, the quick double blast of my firearm when I shot the man with the broken nose in the head. Neither Carlene or I said much. Only the sound of the wind and the buzz of the glaring sun played background music to the scene which had taken place. Somewhat anti-dramatic, I suppose.

    ***

    It's a violent crime, that is - strangling a man to death. Obviously there was nothing premeditated about it. It's about as passionate as a crime of passion can get. What struck me is that I didn't remember much about it. The details. Still can't. It left me feeling dizzy. To release every ounce of force inside your body, not the physical sort of force but the emotional, that'll leave you feeling a bit staggered every time I guess. I can't say I didn't enjoy it. Thing is, the rawness and aching I felt in my hands felt like the good kind of pain, like the soreness I'd feel in my back and arms after tilling soil. Taking pleasure in pain was part of what being young was all about, something' aged people had forgotten. Without paying mind to whether they hurt you or left you feelin' on top of the moon, feeling things you'd never felt before was a good thing 'cause that's what the human experience is all about. Least that's how I see it. And if that's supposed to make me guilty, well then. I might deserve to be institutionalized. I told her as such.

    What you did - it kind of turned me on, she said very matter-of-factly. Do you suppose that means there's something wrong with me?

    Maybe I just hadn't reached that age yet where I'd calmed down. My old man told me about that. One day, he said, you'll even out. If it's as inevitable as he said it is, then I guess I don't have a choice. I'm not much for that 'I hope I die before I get old' crap. Living forever seems much more preferable to me.
     
  19. Senna Vs. Prost

    Senna Vs. Prost
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    Experienced Idiot

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  20. Gravitas

    Gravitas
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    Emotionally Jaded

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    This is the first bit of prose I have written to completion in over a year. Feels good to finish something even if it is only 1,100 words. I have gotten some positive feedback, but you jackals have a more...discerning taste, so I wanted to get a few anonymous opinions. Any and all feedback is welcome.

    Kissing Clowns

    We tried to have sex in our makeup once. I had the shoes on too. I think it was a spare bedroom upstairs. Maybe a big closet. It would have been a house with a closet big enough to fuck in. It probably had those big hat boxes. You know the ones rich girls hide their shit in, love letters from their college love who ended up working in a steel mill or whatever. The life she traded and what not.

    I’m not sure why Janie thought it was a good idea. Not that she even thought it was a good idea necessarily. What I’m really saying is that I don’t know why she wanted to at all. Hell, I’m not even sure why we were both upstairs at the same time. We staggered our breaks if we ever needed them, because the kids would go crazy if clowns turned into disappearing magicians. Maybe the bathroom was up there or something.

    Anyway there we were and I was on a pretty good dose of vicodin I think, something anyway. She sort of pulls me into this closet. I’m sure now it was a closet. So we start kissing and it heats up a little and she presses up against me and I fall back a bit, and the big hooped waist rod pushes into a shelf and stuff falls off and I start laughing and she’s giggling too. She moves her hand up to sort of shush me, but when she does she knocks off my red nose thing and we just lose it.

    Then we hear a knock on the door. She has that perfect “oh shit” face now, you know? But she smoothes out her outfit just like you would in the movies and she straightens her raggedy anne hair. I pick up my nose and we stand there for a sec. I’m hoping whoever knocked knew what was going on and realized that we would come out on our own. Who wants to force that awkward encounter? But then there is another knock. I stand there and then reluctantly open the door.

    The birthday boy’s mom is standing there in a green sundress. I’m not sure why I remember that. She made it look good though. One of those who took care of herself. Made sure that she ran off those gimlets she drank before noon to keep the boredom away. She was pretty. Mad too, oh boy was she mad. Her hands were on her hips and she lays into us. I got sheepish and tried to mutter an apology, but Janie got scared I guess and tried to brush past me. But of course she tripped on my big ass shoes and stumbled right into the lady. They stumble a bit before righting themselves.

    Mrs. Prim in her green sundress was entangled with a promiscuous clown. They look each other in the eyes and then Janie looks down and her hand is resting on the lady’s right tit. The lady jerks away suddenly and goes into the master bedroom and shuts the door. She didn’t slam it, but just shut it so that it barely made a sound. Janie looks at me and I just shrug. We went back downstairs my big shoes flopping on each hardwood step.

    We finished the party. We needed the money. I think Janie wanted to leave immediately, but I made sure we stuck it out. The lady even tipped a bit. Though I’m sure she told her friends she didn’t. Luckily, we weren’t too dependent on referrals for birthday parties etc. A kid wanted clowns once and no one in a circle of friends wanted to do what Johnny Jones did. I guess the other people got bouncy castles and ponies or whatever.

    We stayed busy enough. It was better than warehouse work or whatever. That summer wasn’t a whole lot of fun, but it had its moments. We always left in full make up. I’d take off my wig and nose but keep the make-up on ‘til we got back home. We had to freak some people out when they saw us on the highway. A pair of clowns chain smoking and blasting Zeppelin in a rusted out ’86 Camry.

    One day in late July the interstate backed up so it was pretty slow. Not standstill maybe a steady 5 mph. So I’m driving and a big black Tahoe pulls up beside us in the next lane. This blonde kid in a little red polo shirt about 6 years old was in the passenger seat and was plastered to the window with his nose and both palms flat on the glass. His mouth was on the glass too like a god-damn sucker fish.

    We lock eyes and he grins.

    I flip him off.

    Their car was there just long enough for him to register either the gesture or the intent behind it anyway. He pops his mouth off the glass and his grin melts. I know I made the damn kid cry. I didn’t mean to. I was just amusing myself, not trying to fuck his heaed up, but I knew he wouldn’t look at a clown the same way again.

    The Tahoe pulls away and immediately I imagined him at his best friends party next summer crying in the corner inconsolable with his mom patting him on the shoulder after the next clown tried to give him a balloon giraffe. And then in five years telling his new best friend clowns have always creeped him out and avoiding them for 25-30 years. But then he has kids of his own and his wife nags him for days that the kids deserve something special and the pictures will be so great. He breaks and pays two or three of them to come into his house. He doesn’t want them, but what does he say to that green sundress. And those clowns overcharge, try to have sex in his closet ‘til his wife catches them, one of them gropes her, and now the wife won’t let him out of the dog house. So all of this is pouring out to his therapist and all of a sudden he remembers the clown with a cigarette hanging off his lip flipping him off.

    I start to laugh again. It builds and builds until I can’t drive and have to pull over. Janie keeps asking what’s so funny and I finally catch enough breath to tell her my high school guidance counselor said I should be in a field that impacts people’s lives.