Sunday Scribblings: A Winter's Tale

The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is Winter Tale. I confess, I wrote this sometime back and it kind of got lost in the shuffle. I’ve made major tweaks here.


Icicle Views
Icicles hang like spindly glass fingers from frozen gutters.
Snow blankets things like the mower, the good summer Adirondacks. Frozen in time. A long time ago.
This is my view, from the kitchen window.
Where I am frozen, too. Hands on sticky tile, covered in dirty dishware.
What’s the point?
Boot prints still echo in the snow, up the path to the mailbox.
Where the envelope came.
Not so long ago? I can’t remember now.
I just know that this view is getting monotonous. Cold.
And the handgun’s nickel-metal finish is now warm against my hip.

Addictive little bugger, Blip.fm

Dishes piled in the sink, dust bunnies cavorting in the hall, yesterday's clothing on, face unshaven.
Don't bother me, I'm building my Blip library, giving props, listening to other DJs spreading cheer along the global music radar.

Blip.fm is the 6-month-old microblog from Fuzz. It was an experiment.

It's an addictive bugger. You start searching for music and pretty soon it's five hours later and your dogs need to go out and you've not eaten. I've got a 100-blip library built. In less than 24 hours.

I need to get out of the house at some point. I'm pretty sure you can mobile link to it. Lord, hep me.

I'm hoping for a badge. That means I've got scads of followers (13 as I write this).
Check it out.
Search for pegboy.

A Very Happy Thanksgiving

Hopefully, you're all tomenting your loved ones - friends and family alike - on this day to give thanks. May the turkey be moist and flavorful, the gravy without lumps - and nobody falls for your uncle's trick to "pull his finger."



My very best wishes.



And, as a special treat, a Thanksgiving video ("As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly") WKRP's Turkey Drop:



Flash Poetry

Listen
Lines of lyrical foolishness,
seep from a wounded heart.

Wither the angered poet,
who senses not what is there:

Orange-glow sunsets,
laughter of children,
scent of a lover,
wine upon lips,
a rise of gooseflesh.

Consequence for what is forsaken,
screaming frustrations.

A quiet heart begs the answer:
shhhhh, listen.

Sweet Monday, it's a Drabble

A drabble is a story told in 100 words. Yeah, about right for a stay-at-home-sick Monday.

Ambien-valent

She bangs into hallway walls like a pinball, in her fists cold French toast slathered in blackberry jam – globs of which have escaped onto flannel jammies.
She’s in the grip of Ambien, two, taken with wine.
He’s up, two time zones west, flirting with a woman whose number was on a bar napkin.
The text, *rgrrmfh, comes first, followed by an email, voicemail.
He ignores the incoming, notes the time, smiles, plots.
She wakes, the cell tucked in her armpit, blackberry seeds stuck in her teeth.
“Oh, hell.”
And checks the phone, seeing what apologies need to be made.

Sunday Scribblings: Grateful

The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is "grateful." An essay on my youth:

Buster

So much junk hung off the bike, it wasn't for riding. Just pushing.
And through the downtown streets of my hometown, Herman R. Jeseph - everyone just called him " Buster" - pushed his bicycle heaped full of junk in all weather conditions. He wore cast-off clothing - layers upon layers and - always wore a cap. He was unshaven most days and smelled of harsh tobacco that he hand-rolled into cigarettes.
Buster was my hometown's Official Bum.
He, as my mother liked to say, "Just decided one day to drop out." In the world of my youth, Buster was a huge question mark.
He still is.
My hometown, Fremont, Neb., had and still has about 25,000 residents. A farming community, mostly, Fremont certainly has grown savvy it's 35 miles, give-or-take, from Omaha, which has more than 400,000 residents, hosts the College World Series each year and has one of the top-rated zoos in the country.
And in Fremont today, homeless people hold up signs on well-traveled corners, smoke cigarettes and huddle against the elements and residents tend to look away.
But in my youth, everyone accepted Buster, our Designated Homeless Person, for exactly who he was.
A man.
Without a traditional home.
When the weather turned cold and in eastern Nebraska, winter temperatures routinely drop into the minus category the jailers would leave the back door open to the courthouse, where Buster would curl up on a broken-down recliner someone rescued from a county office.
Business owners never complained to the city council, to my knowledge, of Buster 's circular movements through the wide-sidewalked downtown.
No one cursed at him, spat at him, or even shunned their eyes as he passed.
Not in my recollections. People - from shop owners to police officers - were instead fiercely protective.
They asked how he was doing, or asked about some new trophy that seemed to collect on a series of ancient bicycles he bought at the Salvation Army. I remember scuffed boots that hung from the handlebars like fuzzy dice; the series of busted lawnmowers he cleverly had in tow.
I saw it all because I spent much of my adolescence downtown. The junior high school was a block from the start of Main Street; my mother worked for an architect who rented offices above a women's clothing store. It was the same store, Farris Fremont, where at 13 years old I got my first job cleaning toilets, emptying waste baskets and changing the ballasts in fuzzy fluorescent lights.
A couple of years later, I moved two storefronts down to Spangler's Jewelry, where I engraved watches, silver wedding plates and Optimist of the Year trophies.
Downtown stores stayed open late on Thursdays, which meant I worked late, too. During dinner breaks, I'd cross the street to K.C.'s Pharmacy, which had one of those cool, old soda fountains (it's now a stereo shop).
Most evenings, there sat Buster , drinking a cup of coffee and eating a hot bowl of Campbell's Ham and Bean soup. The steam would rise into Buster's weather-beaten features, and his nose would run into the soup Drip by Drip by Drip.
Yet, no one was repulsed, especially the counter help. They asked how he was doing, poured him another cup of coffee. No one ever put a compassioned hand on his shoulder, however. He hated to be touched.
Once, and I wasn't a witness, but it's a pretty good story, a well-to-do woman in the community walked into K.C.'s with her boots clicking on the hard tile.
"You sound just like a cowboy on a wooden sidewalk," Buster bellowed from the counter.
Not missing a beat, the woman, who I will not name, replied: "Watch out, Buster, or I'm gonna ride off with your bike!" Another interesting observation on Buster 's eating habits - he never touched anything with his hands. He loved those chocolate-covered Easter bunnies and Santa Claus figures. He'd cut a chunk off with a knife, scoop it up with a spoon, dunk it into his coffee and plop it into his mouth. Soup crackers were dispatched in much the same manner, except he would stick the salty square into the soup with his spoon then retrieve it whole into his mouth, where it would slowly disappear, much like a wood planer works.
Buster's life and times intrigued me through high school. How, without a job, a place to live or the march to accumulate all the latest must-have items the rest of us coveted (in the late 1970s and early 80s, it was Atari game systems, eight-track tape players and digital watches), he made pocket change certainly enough to live on from society's cast-off junk.
Senior year, I got up the nerve to interview Buster for the school paper, The Rustler. He was wary, I remember, but answered my questions. He was born and raised in Fremont. He had kin, but not a wife or children.
I never worked up the nerve to ask why he was "homeless."
Buster's gone now, he died in 1984 at the age of 73. For a time, the Dodge County Courthouse displayed his bike, just as he left it at the Union Pacific Railroad depot where he passed, in a glass case. One year, the bike was put on view during the parade for John C. Fremont Days, which celebrates the explorer's adventures on the advent of the Great Western Expansion. The words on the float said, "We miss you, Buster." And so it came to pass that a whole town celebrated one homeless man.
A bum on a bike he never rode.
But who taught an entire town how to be grateful.

The past is not the end

I found a friend on Facebook recently, back from my days in Dallas (12 years ago).
We traded numbers, then worked all week to try and talk. Friday night, we got to talk.
"I've gotta say I was just flabbergasted at how much life you spilled - your openness and honesty was so disarming. Alarming. Uh, charming," she wrote later.
I made her cry.
It was not my intent.
I just wanted to let her know hat I was OK and that the path that I had been on had grown dark and overgrown and that I had come through a better person.
She understood.
And we've rekindled a friendship that withered with time and distance.
The past is not an ending; it can be a starting point for good things to come.

Fiction in 58, a story in small packaging

The exercise is called Fiction in 58; write a story using just 58 words. I made it up, because it sounded cool.

Under Pressure
A brisk wind cancels out the labored breath as he runs - a pre-morning ritual meant to clear his thoughts.
The swirl of tension from the world - cosmic forces or otherwise - weigh heavy, sacks of cement pressed to his chest.
“Time heals all wounds,” he announces to the darkness.
It’s the scars, he thinks, that linger, change perception.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are corrupt, intellect and tension.

The Cleaner
The title was bestowed by gossipy workers who wore their tension like those stick-on nametags where you scrawl your name in Sharpie and try not to stand out.
The name, that was real.
Hackett worked in finance. There was no title on the door to his office. Just MR. HACKETT painted on the eggshell-steel door.
We all called him The Cleaner, behind his back – and in hushed tones.
He was one creepy fuck. And we all feared him. Immensely.
An accomplished feat, since he stood maybe 5 feet tall and weighed maybe 120 pounds.
His skin had this waxy quality, white, cool like marble. It made the blue of his veins pop from that skin. It didn’t help that his hair was a color a raven’s wing, course and parted harshly to the right, held tight with scentless pomade. The same pomade held down the dark mustache that was groomed daily with an efficient hand.
Think Hitler, but with a better tailor.
A beady intellect bore through you as he walked around the office, always watching through these massive aviator glasses that had no frames. Just curved lenses, like twin magnifying glasses.
I worked in the bullpen, a cluster of cubes where the walls didn’t go up far enough to hide a cruise around the Internet, or the folded up papers bearing that day’s Sudoku puzzle.
Eggshell enclosure with light gray cubicle walls, a directive on the day you started that allowed one personal picture, one plant, one company-issued coffee mug. The computers were eggshell, for chrissakes.
Jackets were to be worn in the office, even if you needed to hit the head for a piss. No colored shirts, no ties with cartoon characters on them.
This was a business, we all were told on that first day, you will look and act the part.
It was like a daycare, a soulless Romper Room where instead of a bubbly Miss Claire looking through her magic mirror, we had The Cleaner and his rat eyes boring through you.
We weren’t doing God’s work, I suppose, reversing mortgages on the elderly, buying insurance policies on AIDS patients, hedging the bet that they’d die and we’d get at least 80 percent return on the investment. Morally corrupt, but certainly not illegal.
The pay was bitchin,’ which is why you never carried the names home with you, like gum on your shoe.
Then Danny’s file landed in the in-box.
My best friend from grade school. Now dying of AIDS, a little gift he got from a 18-year-old transvestite hooker in the Philippines as part of a “gentleman’s sex tour” of the Far East.
Damn it, Danny.
The bullpen’s job was to adjust the rate of return vs. the lump-sum payout. On any given day, you’d work five or six “cases.” The client balked, you politely told them to take their business elsewhere. They’d call back, choked with tears, and in that hour of reflection, you’d lower the payout by a few percentage points.
He recognized my voice immediately.
“Hey, kid, say how’s it going?”
All conversations were recorded for training purposes.
“Mr. Dellicort, as a representative of Bender & Bender, I am authorized to offer you a generous, one-time settlement so that you may carry on your affairs with the grace and dignity they so richly deserve.”
“Dude, it’s Danny, man.”
“Mr. Dellicort, I am showing a deficient file here. There are two forms that need to be filled out before we can consider your application. Do you mind if I come by and drop off the required paperwork for your consideration?”
“Fifty-first and Belmont, be there in an hour.”
King’s Tap-Room, a greasy bar of the sort that cashed payroll checks for beers at 8 a.m.
Danny’s at the bar, nursing a beer and a shot. It’s 10 a.m.
“You know, if I could have reached through the receiver, I would have choked your scrawny neck,” he said, shaking my hand.
“Big Brother is everywhere,” I say, dropping off the eggshell envelope with all the new forms.
“What’s this?”
“My lovely parting gift, my man. As long as you’re going to get screwed again, I though it best to squeeze the maximum amount out of these guys.”
“I appreciate it.”
A week goes by and there’s no fallout from Danny’s file. I start to relax.
Hackett walks through the bullpen, points a finger at me, points at his eggshell door. I count the gray carpet squares, unwilling to look anyone in the eye.
Hackett’s windowless office is bare of personality. An aluminum table with two aluminum chairs. A desk farther back, high-back, black leather chair. There’s nothing on the desk but a blotter and a fountain pen. The only thing on the table is the Dellicort file, not in an eggshell folder but sinister red.
Hackett takes off his jacket, hangs it on a hook on the backside of the door, begins to roll up his sleeves.
The flesh just above those alabaster hands are a tangle of ink, grotesque tattoos of torment and despair.
“Let’s have a conversation about this case file, shall we?”
And in that instant, in the inside crook of his right forearm, I swear I saw three numbers.

Doe does deadly dive, diners delighted

This is why I love living in the Midwest, the whole practicality thing:

VALLEY CITY, N.D. (AP) ­ Police say they killed a deer that was severely injured after running through a glass door at the Valley City State University field house.
Police Officer Steve Loibl said the doe ran through the door of the field house about 7:30 a.m. Monday. He killed the animal and the meat was processed.

Venison steaks, anyone?

A Monday Fiction in 58

First Kisses
The kiss was of the goodnight variety, grazingly light, eyes open, stumbling, quick.
Shocked by his boldness, the hand on her lower back that propelled her forward. Eased by his smile, his scent as she lifted her head instinctively.
The broke apart, smiled, kissed again.
“In case I forgot, later,” he said.
Best excuse she’d heard all day.

Sunday Scribblings: Stranger

Strangers
Had I known it was an interview, I wouldn’t have spent the last half-hour of my shift gnawing on my fingernails, peeling strips of bloody flesh to the cuticles.
Not that it lost me the job.
We struck up a conversation in the check-out line at the grocery.
She’s wearing a gray flannel business suit, only a skirt instead of pants, black heels, white Oxford shirt and a tie. She’s got it undone, one button on the shirt undone, the tie unknotted.
She commented on the gruyere in my basket, said it was one of her favorites. Her basket was filled with high-end frozen meals, scrawled with the word “lite” on the cartons.
“See you,” she said as she collected up her plastic sacks.
My truck was parked next to her Lexus.
“Seems I just can’t get away from you,” she says as the window slid down, automatic.
“Is that what it seems?”
“Oh, I think so. I know this is forward, but would you like to have a drink sometime?”
“Sure, yeah.”
“I’m busy tonight, but let’s say 5:30 Tuesday? LaRocca’s?”
“Works for me,” I say, unlocking my door.
LaRocca’s is a cavern, low light, cocoa-colored leather booths, walls washed in peach.
I’ve got on a clean pair of jeans, black T-shirt, my good leather jacket. Even took a wet paper towel and ran it over my Red Wings.
She’s nowhere to be found.
I take a table near the bar, and the waiter asks – twice – if I want something to drink.
“I think I’m going to wait until my date shows up, thanks.”
I am a fish out of water here. I half think about skipping out.
When she walks in, waves. She’s dressed in embroidered jeans, red sweater, black boots with ginormous heels. Huge gold hoop earrings.
“You made it,” she says, offers me her hand to shake. Puts her other hand on top.
She orders a glass of Merlot, I get a tap beer, import. It comes in a glass with a fancy stem. She makes small talk, tells me about her day, her business. She’s an executive, a full partner in a firm downtown.
“Full disclosure, I’m seeing someone. He’s a bit older, and he lives in Arizona,” she says, swirling her second glass of Merlot. “Not sure where it will lead, but he’s there and I’m here. And because of my business, I get invited to a lot of parties. It’s getting to be the holiday season…”
And I realize that I’m being interviewed. For the role of arm candy. She’s down to interviewing total strangers culled from the grocery.
I’m start to sweat. Make small talk of my own. Try and salvage the evening, discuss my positives, my upshot. Even as my brain screams at my heart to shut the fuck up.
Her eyes wander the bar, looking for future candidates. Says “uh-huh,,” a lot. Smiles whenever her attention come back.
I do not do well in interviews.
She finishes her wine, stands, puts on her coat. I’ve got half a beer left.
“Really, this has been nice, but I’ve got to get going. Thanks so much for meeting me.”
A dry handshake, two pumps, and she’s out the door as the waiter drops off the check.
I unlock the truck, take a deep breath, fill my lungs with the cool night air. Fold the receipt into continually tinier squares, drop the thing into the ashtray.
It cost me $42.80, with tip, to find out that she and I were incompatible. Complete strangers.
Worth every penny.

At least I didn't shave off my eyebrows

This is how mistakes happen, kids.
Lose focus for just a moment and you're left with $30 out-of-pocket to your hairdresser - who decided to take pity and get you in on a late Saturday afternoon when you've got dinner plans - for mistakes you made for trying to be goodly groomed.

It's been a long week of work, evenings out, stuff. Saturday dawned cold and windy - it is South Dakota, after all - and after errands, I decided it was time to give the hacienda a good scrubbing. Everything was going famously, until I started to clean the bathroom.
Started to lose focus.
Sink scrubbed, mirror cleaned, I noticed my eyebrows were looking a bit bushy. My little trimmer was there in the drawer. Set the guard, turn the clippers on, I'm looking stylish for an evening out with friends.
That's when I notice the my sideburns looked a bit shabby, too.

I hacked an inch-wide, three-inch-long lawnmower cut into my hair, above my left ear.
I tried to blend it the best I could. Of course, I had to do the right side, too. To match.
"This is ridiculous," I said, putting down the clippers and picking up the celly to make an urgent call to The Chop Shop.
"How bad is it?"
"On a scale from 10 to 1, 10 being the worst, it's a solid five."
"Ouch. I've got one appointment left at 4:30."
I put on a cap and hopped in the truck.
"You know, you didn't do half-bad a job," Val said, running her fingers through the stubble. "Not great, but not bad, either. I was expecting much worse."

A cold beer and a wash and condition later, Val's rescued my receding locks.
"Next time, let me do the eyebrows, too."
"Resist temptation?"
"Yeah, something like that."

Yes, I tipped her, big time.

Things that go bump in the night

The eyes just snap open.
And I'm awake.
No need to look at the clock, it's green glow in the darkness. It's 3:11 a.m.
The dogs don't even rustle anymore, the whole process has become that mundane. They lift their heads, watch what I'm going to do, drop back to sleep.
Not me.
Sometimes, it's easy to lay in the calm, empty my mind and drift back off. The nights where the eyes snap open, I know I'm doomed.
I take a swig of water, swing my legs from under the comforter and take a tour of the house. Sometimes there's a limp, an old foot injury that comes back stiff if I've not kept myself hydrated. I look out the sliding-glass door into the night, rake fingers through my hair, yawn. I'm not look for/at anything. I sometimes couldn't tell you I even looked.
The girls don't follow, they know it's not time to eat, not time to walk. They hunker down, wait until I come back, knowing I won't bring a treat, either. It's late, it's early and even they think I'm nuts.
The 3:11 a.m. thing? It's been going on for years. Someone asked if maybe I suffered some calamity at that hour. Nothing comes to mind.
I don't sweat it, not now.
I curl back under the cooled covers, don't fret. Relax. It's better this way.
Done right, and I may get another two hours of sleep.
Before I'm up for the day.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are blush, quiver and tenderness.
Count ‘em up, it’s a Fiction in 58.

Embrace
Their embrace was a clasp of tenderness.
She’s tucked into his chest, bathed in the warm scent of his neck, hands clutching the old sweater she secretly slept with when he wasn’t there.
Sinewy arms rest on hips, outsized hands explore her lower back. Lips pressed to her hair.
He whispers, there’s a blush, her lithe body quivers.

Bookstore bonanza (and those funny looks)

If there's a national FBI database of reader habits - and I'm not suggesting there is, or denying that there isn't - I'm probably flagged with a big, red star.
Person of interest - with a bullet.
I splurged at the bookstore, four titles and a cool 2009 calendar with old lithographs from the National Park Service.
I might have scared the clerk a bit.
Sure, I was wearing a black stocking cap, my Smith sunglasses (perched on my head) and I hadn't shaved in two days, but I had showered and put on deodorant, even a spritz of Kenneth Cole's Reaction.
Looks aside, she gave my selections the once-over (twice) and kept shooting puzzled looks my way.
What?
What?
"Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72," Hunter S. Thompson
"The Best American Poetry 2008"
"Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey," Chuck Palahnuik
"When You are Engulfed in Flames," David Sedaris.
Really, what?

Flash fiction on a Monday

Cabin Fever
He traced the arch of her back with his eyes, connected the constellation of freckles across her shoulders, followed her soft curves until the warm, naked flesh ended in an old patchwork comforter.
“Yes they can,” he said in a murmur, smiling.
They’d come to the cabin to prepare it for winter. He promised hard work, dirty hands, a simple meal, wine, a roaring fire.
She’d been intrigued about his hideout, his life away from the city, pleased he trusted her. Disappointed over the mention of separate beds.
Dusk fell early, marked by frosty breath, tingled fingers. The old stone fireplace stoked, he asked that she get comfortable while he flipped steaks on the grill.
Seeing her naked - curves outlined in the crackling firelight – filled him with nervous surprise.
A deep breath, a sip of wine, a slight nod of his head, he came up from behind and placed his hands lightly on her hips, buried his head in her hair, let out a contented sigh.
“Friends so too can be lovers,” she whispered.

Sunday Scribblings: Change

Can You Help A Brother Out?
“No quarters in that Louis Vuitton handbag? No? Bullshit, lady. Thanks for ignoring me.”
“No folding money in those wool slacks asshole? Ooooohh, that sad eye contact, thanks for that. That was special.”

“Can you help a brother out?”
The change in the “tall” coffee cup (never the “venti,” that’s just too impudent) is what we call starter coin, a couple of quarters, nickels and dimes – and very few pennies. (Pennies are the kiss of death. We call it that, “What did you get today? Fucking kiss of death, over and over again.”)
Starter coin. Yeah. Something to grease the skids, clink together, get that tambourine of salvation shaking for the citizens.
The ones who today are in a frenzied hurry to get out of the spittle of snow and freezing breeze.

“You could spit on me if you want, asshole. That’s what the looks says, anyway. Nice knock-off Firado suit. Screams Men’s Warehouse.”
“Awww, c’mon chicky. Those Stuart Weitzman’s you’re wearing go for at least four bills. And you don’t have a quarter to spare?”
“Pennies, shit! A handful of pennies – and a big piece of lint. You’re a fucking prince, my man. Kiss of death - want to piss on me, too?”

It’s not like I went looking for this life. A refrigerator box insulated with newspapers out of the wind near the 41st Street overpass. Out of the weather, out of the eyes of the cops who want to roust us all these days.
It’s not like I’m crazy, like so many out here.
There are circumstances, you know.
Breaks that don’t break your way.

“Two bits, yes, yes, thanks.”
“You’re very kind, thank you.”
“OK, now we’re talking, .89 cents in various coinage. A smile too. Yeah, I brushed, these are my own teeth, too.”
“You’re very kind, thank you.”

I keep two sets of “good” clothing for work. Shabby-chic. Ha. Clean, but worn. Sad. It’s all about marketing these days.
And don't smell like piss. Very important. Hygiene is everything.
I make, on a good, warm day, more than $100. And it all goes into a fund, at a bank, to buy T bills.
No booze, no eats (purchased, that is – I eat what you throw away and I stake out the finer shops like Katz’s mostly), no nookie from the crack whores that roam nighttime streets like zombies. If I’m not working, I’m reading. Solar, wind power. Composting. Hydroponics. Cheese-making.
Planning my return.
But not to these streets. These mean streets…

“Fuck you, too, mister.”
“Thanks for that condescending look, ma’am. You’ve got dog shit on your shoes, by the way.”
“Two bills, yes.”
“You’re very kind, thank you.”

A bus ticket to Reno is $237.
No, Reno is not my final destination, thank you very much.
My ranch, all 20 acres of it tucked up in the Sierras, is.
Once those last two T bills mature.

Winter accessorizing

"Get yourself a good beanie," they said.
"Fleece, maybe one of those, you know, balaclavas."
"And gloves, too."
They were not kidding.
The wind rolls across the plains, noting to cut it but you.
Tops of ears go numb, fingers.
Windstopper fleece beanies are not silly.
Windstopper fleece gloves are not the latest accessory item.
Here, they're a vital part of your wardrobe.

Proud to be an American

“There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction”
- Winston Churchill


“I see America, not in the setting sun of a black night of despair ahead of us, I see America in the crimson light of a rising sun fresh from the burning, creative hand of God. I see great days ahead, great days possible to men and women of will and vision.”

- Carl Sandburg

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are hope, gravity and nuance. Still in that post-election, no-sleep haze. This came out dark, wasn't sure where it would go when I wrote the first sentence in my notebook in the dark. It ended up at 100 words.

Gravitational Situations

Hope is a morsel of bait hiding a sharp fucking hook that’s life.
Everyone’s got a price, a tipping point. Nuance is lost on the hopeful. Shades of gray that’s used to explain away the circumstances that led you to the hook, gulp.
I pace the cage of this shitty hotel room, lit by a dusty, bare bulb that persuades the cockroaches to boldly skitter across the cigarette-stained wood floor. A captive of what – piss-poor judgment?
I knew what I was doing.
By now, they’ve found the body.
Thank God for a good leather belt.
And gravity.

Get out and vote

Most of us were born American. We were raised to believe in what it means to be an American. We take our hats off during the National Anthem, we sing, our hearts swell with the knowledge that we are part of the greatest nation in the world, a nation built on this statement, the preamble of the U.S. Constitution:
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Those rights are not guaranteed.
You need to vote to make your voice heard.
Get out and vote. It's that important. Especially this political season, where we have the power to change everything. The most important presidential election in a generation.
Vote.
Now.

A slip of flash fiction, 58-style

In Shadows
He stands bare to the waist and barefoot in the dewy grass of a park in pitch-blackness. Driven here by the incessant pounding of blood in his ears, the storm, a fury in his heart.
Bring on the night and there is no reset, no slumber. Just seething.
It’s been like that for weeks, since the accident.

Free-form poetry

Seclusion
Lonesome is a cold-weather morning,
colored leaves left for dead on branches,
crystalline air that pierces the heart.

Damaged sons and daughters,
latch-key children of another age,
forgo conversation for faceless technology.

Broken souls wander wistful,
and clutch at low-hanging snags,
desperate not to go under, drown.

Wearing fear as a onerous cloak,
cloth that provides scant little heat,
when all that’s desired is contact.

Chances rarely taken, sadly,
the ability to reach out, embolden,
crushed by self-imposed isolation.