Thursday's 3WW, "Sins of the Flesh"

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are cut, endanger and hazard.

Sins of the Flesh
Sanders was drinking coffee from his I (HEART) Schipperke mug and I knew that shit was going to cost me at least 12 pokes, but then I remembered that it was well after 8 a.m. and the ratio of cheap vodka to coffee was probably 3 to 1, so I back off six pokes for destructive behavior. 

And before you get into a fucking twist, I am not a cutter. Way too OCD for that. 

I poke. 

Take one large paper clip, straighten completely, then wind snugly around one’s index finger (between the first and second knuckle) and bend, leaving a half-inch of metal. Sharpen the end into a spike. 

And press it into your skin in a tightly-packed grid system on one’s flesh. 
Occupation hazard, I suppose. Making up for everyone else’s fucked-up lives. It’s a burden I bear without complaint. 

The fat-assed secretary with the bad dye job (making her look 10 years older than she intended) who told me to have a nice day Monday? A dozen pokes.

The ex-jock in sales who keeps pinching the skinny, introverted intern on her boney ass – even after a supervisor’s intervention and sexual harassment threat? Eighty-six pokes. 

My boss, the prick, who uses the phone at my desk to set up lunchtime trysts with young fags he finds in the classifieds of the alt-weekly – endangering his new bride of eight weeks with all sorts of nasty he trails home? Two hundred pokes, easy. 

I have, at this very moment, 2,486 festering holes in my flesh.

Mind you, I’m fairly new to this. 

I was on the bus when it hit me, my life’s work. Watching two Hispanic kids mauling one another, all the while encroaching onto the lap of a sweet little – and very jittery - Jewish woman with a paisley-colored walking cane and a Macy’s bag filled with flowers and produce.

I got to the office, found a paper clip, and went into the bathroom to give myself the first 24 in a much longer line of pokes. 

It may not make you feel better – hell it probably sickens you to death – but I know what I’m doing, OK? 

What bothers me now is the leakage. A few grids are really starting to fester, sending a domino-dot pattern seeping into the crisp fabric of my dress shirts. The one’s I keep buttoned-down, even after 5 p.m., when nearly every other guy in the office has rolled up their sleeves, loosened their ties and unbuttoned the top one or two buttons of their classic Oxfords. 

Yellow puss, which means no more white shirts, I guess. And until things start to get a lot better – and people stop being such assholes – no ointments or anti-biotics.

I do it all for you, you know. 

I suffer your sins. With my flesh. 

No thank you required. 

Just stop being such fuckups, won't you?

3WW, "Play Dates"

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are feel, shade and tangle.

I’m back, kids. A bit rusty, but back. 

Play Dates
Tangles of mouse-colored hair lay across her sleeping face and amid the mess, two hands work kinky strands into a tiny braid.

Sunlight seeps through the shades, threatening to put a quick and inevitable end to their encounter. 

The kids will be up soon, anyway. 

There’s a pull on the braid and she stirs, smiles. She stretches, cat-like, and the sheets fall from her breasts and her skin rises instantly in gooseflesh. 

Eyes watch the transformation from sleep to consciousness; lips are wetted with a sweep of the tongue – and desire. 

She slumps against the warm body coiled next to her and with a long exhale, sighs. 

She tucks her head into the warmth, removes a few stray strands of hair from her mouth, wrinkles her nose, aimlessly scratches her temple.

The gestures bring a smile. 

She looks up, runs a hand through her curls.

And in her eyes, a gathering storm. 

“We can’t do this anymore,” she says. “It’s…it doesn’t feel right.”

Delicate hands reach out for her face, but she turns, buries her head in the sheets.

“Baby, it’s right. So incredibly right. And you feel so good.”

She buries herself further into the bedding, shakes her head. 

There’s a thump of heels on the cool hardwood floor. Loose clothing is picked up, tossed. Until she finds her own bra, sundress and sandals.

She slips into the bra, shimmies the dress over her hips and goes to raise the blinds. 

And turns back toward the bed. 

“The kids will be up soon,” she says to a quivering heap in the bed. “And I brought popsicles for treats.”

She walks past the bed, rakes her nails over her reluctant lover’s exposed foot, the toenails painted in a muted fuchsia. The tight ball of flesh releases a small squeak, then a giggle. 

There’s a swipe of a manicured finger across the screen of a smartphone. Lipstick-smeared lips pucker in concentration.

“What do you think, does Friday afternoon work for you?”

On the Move, Again

I am leaving journalism.

Probably not for good – it’s what I know and newsrooms are like crack – but I’ve accepted a position in the nonprofit sector.
I will be a prevention specialist in Wyoming, working toward awareness and action in suicide prevention, as well as drug, alcohol and tobacco suppression.
Go ahead and laugh, those who know me all too well.
But I think you’ve got to have experience to fight a good fight.
And I’ve got street-smarts. In spades.
I will use my communication skills to a new advantage – public speaking and setting up coalitions. Being an active participant in a community to enact change. It's exciting work, worthy work. 
Besides, it’s a 40-hour-a-week gig, with a huge raise.
Meaning I will have time to write again.
Yes, write fiction.
Finally get that e-book of short stories out.
Get my life back.

At some point, I will move to Sheridan Wyo., where I will be based. I’ve already found a couple of lofts that look promising.
And I will be able to be a part of two communities, without being an interloper, a journalist looking from the outside in. I will be able to volunteer, have friends, without feeling like I can’t. Because when you’re a journalist, you are never really off. People are forever telling you conversations are off-the-record – even when you’re sitting at a bar.
And there’s always the chance you’ll have to write about someone. That limits the friendships you can forge.
A buddy of mine said a very nice thing recenty: “If guys like you leave journalism, we’re going to die.”
I need a break.

I still think community journalism will save the craft, the profession.
I just couldn’t make the current situation work. I, in my opinion, was never set up to succeed. Too many impediments to being truly great.
(And I love and adore my staff; we kicked ass – and took names.)
So I did something for myself.
The nonprofit gig is a one-year state contract, with no guarantee that I will get a second year. And that’s OK by me.
We’ll see how it goes.
And adjust later.