3WW CCXLIX, "Stranded"

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are flag, might and passive.

With a white veil of silk, she cause his attention, flagged him over.
The car in idle, he watched her walk toward him from the rear-view. She smiled at her sway.
He rolled down the window and thought that she’d been crying.
She’d stuck a thumb in both eyes to well the tears.
“Yes, well, I’m stuck, see…”
“Might as well hop in, I can give you a lift.”
Once inside, the heat, mixed with his salty scent, made her swoon.
“Where you headed?”
He sat, passive, waiting for her answer.
“Anywhere you are.”
Pulling out on the highway, he quickly shifted into fourth, then let his hand settle onto her thigh.
The whites of her eyes went blood red, but she didn’t pounce.
“There’s a curve coming up, love. Focus.”


The words over at Three Word Wednesday are behave, jettison and mob.


The blond bimbo on the news said it was a mob, but shit I was there, man. There wasn’t a mob.
It was an army.
Fucking behaved one, too. Line after line of believers. Standing shoulder to shoulder. Dressed in black. Chanting in low tones.
Cops didn’t know what to do, shit their pants are start in with the tear gas. All worried looks behind plastic shields and plastic faceplates hooked to helmets. Guys gripping their nightsticks like they’re choking their chickens. Fucking hilarious.
Until one dude on the cop line got antsy, man. That black army was spreading like an oil spill and he takes out his Glock and drops it and it goes off and takes out a kid, man, all of like 17 and he drops to the ground.
That black army oozed over him, hands grabbing, and he’s moved to the rear in such a chillingly efficient manner. Fast, too, since the leading edge of the army kept moving forward toward the cops. Yeah, some of them jettisoned their shields and nightsticks and just bugged the fuck out. But the badasses – those guys with the crew-cuts and the weird little mustaches all trimmed up and perfect, they stayed on the line.
And started firing.
For every kid or grandma who went down, another body filled their place. They just kept coming, man. Swallowed the cops whole, shit them out the back. Jesus the screaming.
Fucking awesome, man. Just fucking awesome.

Six Sentence Sunday: "Nighttime Jitters"

This is my first submission for Six Sentence Sunday.

Nighttime Jitters
He’s too lazy to spin the cap back on the bottle of bourbon.

Maybe he’s too drunk, but it doesn’t matter anyway, he thinks, since maybe, just maybe, bourbon is like wine (is it?) and letting it breathe adds to its smoky taste.

These are the things he thinks about in the cold of night, no lights on, no heat, where he wanders through their home checking locks, rattling ice, quietly mumbling to himself.

Well, not really.

He thinks about a lot of things, the places he’s been, the places he still hopes to go.

And realizes that he’s stuck here, in this house, slowly rotting from the inside from booze – and outside from dreams not realized.

3WW CCXLVII "Sleepless"

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are hollow, misery and shallow. Not very uplifting, huh? I actually, for the first time in more than 150 attempts, missed a 3WW last week. Too many early deadlines, not enough sleep.

The steam on the window is turning slowly to frost, and if he concentrates, he thinks he can actually see crystals form. The fog is from an intensely long, insanely hot shower, where he let the water cascade over his body from the wide rain head he’d installed for her. He let the water go, along with his thoughts, until the water heater emptied and climbed into bed wet and naked.
He pulls her pillow under his head, breathes deep, hoping to catch a whiff of her. He turns his head into the hollow, into the impression left by her head, but he can’t conjure anything except the misery of the hour.
He turns back to the window, sighs. There’s no moon, and a cold winter night twinkles with stars. He lets his vision go fuzzy, and with it his thoughts. His breathing goes shallow, his chest barely rises and falls. It’s a trance he’s practiced for a hundred sleepless nights and for once his mind calms. But just for an instant.
And it all comes flooding back, the hurt and the pain and he rolls onto his back and screams at the ceiling until his eyes sting, his cheeks redden and his chest heaves.
He tosses off the comforter, kicks at the sheets to free his legs and stumbles back into the bathroom. He takes one last look at the windows, which are clear of fog and in the dark fumbles for the shower controls. The water is hot again, and he gets in, plants his palms against the tile and lets the cascade of water fall over him.
Trying again, his tears mingle with water he cannot see as it tumbles down the drain.

3WW CCLXVI "Leaving"

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are drank, hitch and muster. A Fiction in 58.


We drank until the pain began to fade. We didn’t speak. The afternoon turned to dusk; those who could muster the enthusiasm lit a bonfire. We watched flames dance on somber faces.
As flames turned to ember, I stood. Nobody noticed. I wandered to the edge of the highway. Lights approached.
I threw out a thumb to hitch.

3WW CCLXV, "After"

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are carnage, jerk and puncture. Kinda angry.

I open my eyes and hears the sounds of women, wailing.

There’s a gauzy sheet pulled over me, soft and ticklish on my cheeks as I rise.

The wailing is coming from the hallway. My father stands in front of the door, a handkerchief in his hand, jerky spasms rattle his shoulders.

His eyes, I notice, are red from crying.

“You fucking kid,” he says, throwing a work boot into solid wood and rattles the hinges.

You’d think someone died or something.

I turn and in my bed is a sheet-draped corpse; a soft outline in white.

At first, I laugh. Then I jab a couple fingers into my neck, feel for a pulse.

And watch as my brother walks out of the bathroom with a bloodied plastic grocery sack. Shards of glass have punctured the bag and he’s got the whole gory carnage resting on one of my good towels.

“Dad, I’ve got things cleaned up pretty well in there,” he says. “I know mom’s going to want to make the final inspection. I’m going to need a bucket or something for all this glass.”
My dad nods slowly, but doesn’t move.

All of a sudden, I feel weary as hell. Then notice the cold, which cuts to the bone.

There’s fear as the realization begins to paint hues across my memory.

Good God, what have I gone and done?

3WW CCLXIV, "Figment"

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are figment, inclined and vulnerable. Wow, good words. Who comes up with them?
Again late this week, so I’m tossing up a Fiction in 58


He felt like a figment of her imagination. He flittered from room to room, wherever she decided to land, and hoped.
The expectations sunk, always; he felt vulnerable. Again.
He wished he could talk to her, like he used to. Tell her everything was going to be alright.
He was inclined to do so.
But he couldn’t speak.

Fiction in 58, "Anniversary"

Time for a Fiction in 58, since I haven’t challenged myself in forever.
By the way, I recently went over 100,000 unique viewers to this blog of mine. Cool.


The shower has seats, he’s never understood why, but today he doesn’t question. He’s sitting under the hot flow, head bent, watching water drop toward the drain.
Anniversaries are supposed to be happy. This one brings up bile, dark and ugly, burning his throat.
He spits, gags.
The straight razor sits open on the counter, calling.
He’s listening.

One Word, Awakening

Here's a OneWord I pounded out - before coffee even. Feels good to be back.

Once bitten, he waited for the awakening.
He sat there on a crusty couch, in a dented trailer in a park that didn’t even have paved roads. Dust would rise up and coat everything each summer; flecks of mud decorated everything the rest of the year.
He could feel it. He knew it. The awakening was coming. He thought he felt a strange warmth at the puncture wounds.
“Go get that arm cleaned up, you hear,” his mother said, picking up her nearly blind Chihuahua. “Before you bleed all over my couch.” 


A very wise man once told me that the true emotion of happiness was quite different than the feeling of happiness.
Of course, I was paying him $175 an hour at the time (insurance pro-rated) to get my mind “right.”
My mother had just died, my marriage was crumbling, my career was suffering (fools, or a foolish new editor) and my dad had just gotten rolled by a Pontiac Bonneville.
I was having a bad couple of years.
In our hour-long chats, I’d get frustrated to tears. Often.
“You are an extremely intelligent person who is trying to solve all his problems by thinking about them,” he said. “And until you start feeling them, you’re doomed.”
That finally sunk in.
Of course, life never gets easier. Pops died and while I consider myself a strong person, I can tell you that watching both parents take their last breaths leaves one a bit rudderless.
There never again will be a time where I can call up a parent and seek their wisdom. That is all lost.
It feels like I’ve been wandering for a couple of years. And in truth, I am.
There’s two things going on here.
First, I’ve turned back to Chet’s teachings and try – to the best of my ability – to experience my emotions. 
Under a heading of Happiness/Joy/Love (yes, he gave me handouts), it states:
Physical: relaxation of muscles (relaxation response) with rest for the body, increased activity in the brain center that inhibits negative feelings and fosters an increase in available energy.”
Function: to calm the mind and body and to repeat/facilitate positive actions and enthusiasm for striving toward goals; facilitate emotional closeness/intimacy with others.”

It’s called adaptive expression. A lot of people avoid it.
I know I do.
I thought, on the way out to Wyoming (1,908 miles), that I wasn’t a happy person. Oh, I’m happy for what I have, what I’ve been able to experience, but deep down I don’t find the joy in life. I can be gregarious and outgoing and joke and laugh and sing to my iPod, but there was still an emptiness that only I can see (or experience).
What I’m not doing is feeling my true emotions: anger/assertion; fear/anxiety; happiness/joy/love; guilt/remorse; shame; sadness/grief.
I find that I’m plenty happy. I still have a lot of sadness/grief to work through.
Physical: decreased energy and enthusiasm for activities, a slowing of the metabolism, increased introspection, an upwelling of pressure to cry in the chest and comes out in the mouth in the unconstrained sobbing with tears and usually accompanied by bending forward/doubling over, often covering the face with the hands.”
OK, no so much of the crying and doubling over (although I do cry at odd things, like parts of commercials or songs), but I’m at a point of decreased energy and metabolism. And I have begun to truly feel the emotions going on. It’s a work in progress.
Since I’ve managed, in three years, to upend my life three times. That’s the second part to all of this. I’ve quit a good, but unfulfilling job in South Dakota, moved to New York to observe and write and now have accepted a demanding and creative job as editor of a community newspaper - and moved to Wyoming.
It’s all part of a pledge I made to Pops to be the fearless kid I used to be.
There’s a feeling (not an emotion) that I’ve come to rely on: I can, and will, do anything I want to do. As long as it “feels” right. In the gut, in the heart, in the mind. 
Of course, having no debt, no wife and children, no ties to anything, makes this easier.
(And if that sounds a little lonely, it can be; true emotional happiness opens yourself to closeness/intimacy with others.)
I have become the fearless kid I used to be. But according to Chet’s adaptive emotions chart, I haven’t really experienced true fear in years.
It’s just been masking itself in cascades of sadness.
So the time has come to embrace the grief, let those emotions surge through me, experience them.
And, hopefully, then get to the point where I can truly experience some happiness.

3WW CCLXIII, "Awakenings"

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are breach, ember and tentative. A poem? Sure, why not.

A tentative heart sings not,
no music in its everyday beat,
shy and shaded, it but does it’s job

There’s an ember in a glance,
a beat that skips, not just once,
heat, flush, emotions are awakened

A tentative heart, breached,
uneasy, like a baby’s first steps,
there’s rhythm now, a sing-song,
love’s awakening, rich, unpredictable

3WW CCLXII "Not This Time"

The Words over at Three Word Wednesday are admire, follow and piece. Yes, this is the latest I’ve ever turned in a #3WW. Wednesday, for me now, is production day for the newspaper. I’ve got to have it to bed (sent to the press) by 9:30 a.m. That means I get to work about 6 a.m. Not sure how to rectify this new situation I find myself in.

Not This Time
His words burst against her, like tiny pieces of shrapnel, sharp and stinging.
She sat at the tiny dining room table, the one that doubled for a desk for his kids, when they were actually here. You couldn’t eat as a family together, since there was now just two chairs, and one of them was beginning to wobble from the last time he hurled it against the wall.
The blood had stopped and now was it was starting to form an itchy crust around her nostrils.
He was screaming at her to clean herself up.
Not this time.
Oh, she went to the bathroom to roll some toilet paper into a plug to stanch the blood, just as he told her to, and came out again without it. She did, however, put his cell back on the counter, exactly where he’d left it. Without him noticing.
She felt his eyes follow her, prickly heat in the middle of her shoulders, as she went to pick up the tumble of their last altercation.
“Leave it and get your ass in here.”
Shoulders hunched, she sighed, turned on bare feet, and thought that her toenails needed a fresh coat of polish. Perhaps a color that matched the rising purple around her eye.
She lowered herself onto the couch, the one he let the dog sleep on, opposite the shit-brown recliner he paid way too much for at a garage sale. The one he now sulked in.
He already was wearing his puppy-dog face, the consolatory one. She knew a talk was brewing. Sweet and sappy, how much he loved and cared for her. How he couldn’t bear to live without her.
Yeah, right.
She used to admire these talks, like the beatings were almost worth it. That she got to see an emotion out of him that wasn’t rage.
Not anymore.
She jumped when the doorbell rang.
“That would be for you, asshole.”
And crossed her arms across her chest in a tight squeeze, an affirming hug.

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

You can say that Steve Jobs has had an impact on my life. I bought my first Mac in 1984; I've never personally owned anything else since.
Currently, that's a MacBook Pro, iPad 2, iPhone 4 and an iPod Nano. The 21.5-inch iMac is on order.
He taught me that creativity is in the heart and in the mind.
That I got to work for Apple, even for a short time, gave me an insight into the culture of not only a company, but a man.

"Stay Hungry. Stay foolish."

"Think different."

Hard lessons

While on a six-mile hike recently, I came to know several things to be true. 
Well, one central thing.
Gear wears out.
Those hiking boots you got from Scarpa to test, the ones with the narrow toe box and you lost four toenails while on a 68-mile trek across the Continental Divide Trail in the Wind River Range in Wyoming? Yeah, they still have too narrow a toe box.
That daypack your ex-wife’s grandparents gave you for your birthday? It still doesn’t fit, unless you like wearing the hip belt basically across the area where your liver is located. 
At least I know what to get myself for Christmas.