What Jay-Z said

OneWord, Blocks

OneWord is a exercise in brevity. Sixty seconds, one word, go. That word is "blocks."

If she walks fast enough, she thinks, the past will fade from her view, her memory. So she walks at a New York clip, face shielded with a cheap black umbrella picked up from a hawker outside the subway stop. Heels click on cracked pavement, speedy and with purpose, down long avenue blocks. The crowds won’t deny her the purpose. She walks. She needs to walk. The past is there, catching up.

A NYC Fiction in 58

Yeah, I got time for a Fiction in 58.

Spare Change

He begs for your change, stooped over, hand out. Says “bless you, sir, bless you ma’am,” even when there’s no money exchanged. He dares to look you in the eye. He smiles, nearly toothless. At the end of the night, pockets bulging, he walks to a parked Mercedes the color of night, toggles the alarm. And smiles again.

New York, New York

If you'll notice a drop-off in blog production around The Tension, I'm on vacation.
I'm currently living in a 900 square foot townhouse is Spanish Harlem, New York.
For the next eight days.
The first "real" vacation I've had since 2007.
You'll excuse me if I wander.
I'll be soaking up NYC, looking for interesting story lines.
I will post when I can.

OneWord, Foam

OneWord is brevity in action. Click, get the word, write. For 60 seconds.
The word? Foam.

He creeps me out, but he creeps everyone out.
If the coffee wasn’t so good, I’d go somewhere else. But there was something about he ancient roaster in the window that transformed gray-green beans into nuggets of joy.
He was know as the Barista From Hell, since he was always making foam art on the lattes. You’d order innocently, and he’d stare into your eyes until you dropped the gaze. With a slight nod, he goes to work and in your cup, a symbol, face, message in foam.
Guy in front of me orders and the dude gets a cup with a hooded character of death.
It’s the main reason I switched to straight espresso, weeks ago.

NaiSaiKu Challenge

It’s Tuesday, time for the NaiSaiKu challenge. It’s poetry. This is for my friend, Q.

eyes open in focus, she smiles,
a squeeze of the hand, reassuring,
it’s not so bad, she’s telling you,
it’s not so bad, she’s telling you,
a squeeze of the hand, reassuring,
eyes open in focus, she smiles

Fiction in 58

It’s time for a Fiction in 58.

The sharpness of his features were in contrast to her curves; so much so that the differences canceled each other out. At restaurants, he’d order the fish, lightly grilled, and the steamed vegetables. She had entrĂ©es full of butter, cream, bacon. After their feasting, he’d have to wheel her home, careful not to pitch her into the gutter.

A Slight Slip of Fiction

She imagined her friends, mostly in the dark time just before dawn. They’d do all sorts of wonderful things, a mix of shopping, tea parties, facials, manicures. Their talk would be pithy, full of verve. Her friends would fawn over her fine bone structure, the thickness of her hair, the strength and durability of her French-manicured nails. She would watch out the window, the rising sun beginning to pain the darkness in color, and invent another life, free from the one she currently lived.
Her thoughts helped liberate her from the chair, the 24-hour care, the cerebral palsy that trapped a beautifully sharp and witty mind.

Thursday's 3WW

A delayed 3WW, on Thursday. I am still missing my groove. And this is a mess.

Saint Nowhere

Behind his back, they called him Saint Nowhere.
Built like a turtle, he scuttled through the office, talking to no one. His cubicle was spartan, no posters or plants or family pictures.
He attended meetings, functions; he arrived late and was the first to leave.
He didn’t bother anyone, and for the most part, people ignored him.
Until the day a young executive took over the floor and began his efforts to shake things up. The brash suit chose Saint Nowhere to pin his aggression.
The kid was merciless, yet Saint Nowhere went about his tasks in his usual, deliberate manner.
This pushed the suit toward outward hostility.
There were dress-downs in full view of the staff, where Saint Nowhere would stand with a downward gaze and take all the abuse the suit hurled. He’d acknowledged the suit’s pointed questions with a nod in the affirmative, and move off to his cubicle.
The abuse escalated and it was the rest of the staff who squirmed in their seats, appalled, yet secretly thankful that Saint Nowhere was there to take the abuse.
Better him and not them, they’d say in small clusters, when the suit wasn’t around.
The quarterlies came out and the division’s productivity was a glaring exception in an otherwise glowing report. The suit took it out on Saint Nowhere, red-faced and screaming, flecks of spittle raining down on Nowhere’s down-turned face.
Yet he took it, absorbed all the abuse, with nods and shakes in the affirmative, tiring the young suit out of his tirade. He was a flame that ran out of oxygen.
Nowhere’s coworkers marveled at the tact at which me maneuvered, whether it was deliberate or not. For some, Saint Nowhere became a folk hero, a guy they talked about the friends at the bar or family around the dinner table.
The abuse of Saint Nowhere continued unabated, the young suit never changing his stale strategies. Yell, point, spit.
Until the day the suit, frustrated with Nowhere’s lack of reaction, drove a two fingers into Nowhere’s chest, and beat it like a drum while exaggerating slowly the syllables of his rant.
Red-faced, Saint Nowhere unfurled to his full stature, sunk a paw into his suit jacket, and fished out a black .45-caliber handgun, the barrel still slick with the protective lubricant from the factory.
He jacked a round into the chamber with a smooth motion and placed the cold steel to the suit’s forehead.
“Kneel,” he said.
The suit dropped to his knees, and an area of wetness spread like a blossom in the crotch of a very expensive pair of trousers.
“Consider this my letter of resignation,” Saint Nowhere said, and spun on a heel and walked toward the elevators.
It’s always the quiet ones, workers said, retelling the legend of Saint Nowhere, office hero.

A Slip of Fiction

Still working up a 3WW.
But there has been another death in my clan, a favorite aunt, who we honored Tuesday during her funeral.
So, a slight slip of nanofiction today:

All this talk of death has her mildly aroused.
She’s sitting at the coffee house, pretending to read a thick fashion magazine stuffed with inserts and perfume samples. But really, she’s listening to a couple of teens dressed in black discuss their suicidal thoughts in hushed tones toward the bottom of their recycled-paper cups.
Their angst is her aphrodisiac.
Their pain, her pleasure.

Fiction in 58

Yeah, yeah, I know. Two days go by and no updates?
First real warm weekend in the SoDak, with many interesting things happening. I just didn't spend much time inside.
Time for a Fiction in 58.

Despite an aversion to everything, he’s convinced her to leave the lights on during lovemaking.
“Shake things up a bit,” he says.
Her clothes come off, the lights stay on. She covers her face with a forearm, listening to varied grunts.
In time, it will be over, and she’ll settle back into the cocoon she’s so carefully crafted.

OneWord, Fragment

OneWord is a writer’s prompt built on brevity. One word – fragment – and 60 seconds to come up with something.

The scar is five inches from his heart, just above his left nipple. It’s jagged, white. The fragment, however, is offset from the old wound, buried under undamaged flesh. In the shower, he idly pushes at it with his index finger. Sometimes, he wonders what his life would have been like if Cupid would have hit his mark.

NaiSaiKu Challenge

It's poetry, with a twist. It's the NaiSaiKu Challenge.

rain, like tears, drifts upon windows,
droplets expand streetlight gloom,
cool glass tempers a furrowed brow,
cool glass tempers a furrowed brow,
droplets expand streetlight gloom
rain, like tears, drifts upon windows

Monday's Fiction in 58

A Fiction in 58.

He walks a few steps and the waves roll in and erase where he’s been. He can see where he’s come from, but now there’s an unbroken line of surf, traceless.
His pace quickens, but the results are the same. The waters swallow his past.
He sweeps a toe across the sand, it disappears.
The feeling is liberating.

A Flash of Fiction

It’s a sultry night and sleep will not come.
I slip out of bed and out the back door to see if a tromp through the pasture will cool my heels. Despite the hanging humidity, the grass is cool, dewy.
I reach the rise of the hill to peek at the waning moon and come to an abrupt stop. There in the pasture are most of the farm animals, arraigned in a semi-circle around our plow-horse, Romeo.
He’s reading from a battered, leather-bound book.
He stops and all the animals cast their eyes in my direction; in the moonlight, they appear as a greenish, electric-candy glow.
Belle, out boarder collie, trots over slowly and sits at my feet.
“Don’t be alarmed,” she says.
I’m the one rendered speechless.
“Please, join us,” Romeo says, shaking his great chestnut mane.
“Yes, pleaaaase, join us,” say the lambs, in unison.
I take a seat, mindful that I’m in a pasture full of farm animals, next to Belle. I run a hand through her silken fur as Romeo clears his throat and picks up where he left off.
After several minutes, I lean into Belle’s ear and whisper.
“The Bible, seriously?”
“If you’d just think about it, it makes perfect sense, don’t you think?”


I was sitting at the barber’s waiting my turn, listening to the tale of the guy sitting in the chair.
He’s 54 and on the same day he got his first retirement check, his doctor told him he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
That was six months ago.
He’s going through chemo, but knows it’s a done deal. So his wife retired Friday and they plan on spending what time he has left doing as much as the couple had planned to do in retirement.
Time will be short. He knows it. But he’s got this attitude of moving forward at all costs.
“It’s going to kill me, I know it, but I’m not dead today,” he said.

And I’m worried about my life.

OneWord, Hairdo

Ooofha. Hairdo. And 60 seconds to writer about it. It's a OneWord challenge. And this pops out:

Tired of my station in life, I skipped my barber’s chair and went into a fancy salon and asked for a new hairdo.
The lady studied me intently as I sank into her chair. She puts the points of a pair of scissors to her chin and tips her head. A multitude of piercings jangle through her hair, which is streaked in mauve and spiked like the fins of a Cadillac.
She smiles and I begin to think that this isn’t such a good idea.
But the shampoo and conditioner feels good – who knew conditioning promotes stronger follicles? – and by the time she gets to work, I’m feeling relaxed.
In minutes, she’s done.
My hair looks like it did before I walked in, just shorter.
The bill is $68.
Two weeks later, I’m sitting at my barber’s place, thumbing through a girlie magazine and waiting my turn.
“Why so glum?” he asks, tucking tissue into my collar.
“I cheated on you.”
“I forgive you,” he says, the buzz of clippers drowning out his disappointment.