February 2013

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02 February 2013
It’s the first week of February.  The group has decided to try an experiment.  Here is how it worked…

  1. Everyone has a single prompt which they write at the top of the page.
  2. This page is passed to the person on your left.  That person has two minutes to write to your prompt.
  3. When two minutes have elapsed everyone ceases to write and passes the paper they are working on to the person on their left.  Instructions were to read the last few lines and then continue with the story.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until such time as you have the paper with your own prompt back in front of you.
  5. Take two minutes to finish the paper that has gone all around the room.

 Here is what resulted with my paper.  Note that I will indicate when the writer changed with {*}


The prompt was:

The wasted shavings of a misspent youth
Begin writing

The wasted shavings of a misspent youth

{*} Is a waste of time, looking forward is exciting and planning something more

{*} Much more, galore, not a chore, nor chore, nothing to abhor, what’s in store?  Future is yet to see, something to be, full of glee, wonderful for you and me! Confined or free…

{*} The past is sawdust, flaky and the future is a polished rocker.

{*} Not the kind of rocker with long graying hair and faded black T’s.  But the kind that rests stoically on the creaky front porch, a kind face of 80 hovering above, wondering about where the time has gone.

{*} Times past are not always better than the present, but are invariably different.  Time future probably will be different again despite any inclination on my part to secure the status quo.  Oh, well the

{*} truth is that I had to shave my beard and what was once on my face is now in the sink.  And, that sink is where I am with my shavings and going down fast.  I don’t care what people say –

{*} I have a great misshapen face.  I am good looking. As his bulgy eyes widened, he looked more closely at his cheeks which hollowed down to his sharp chin.  Yes, yes, yes, it was time to shave off that beard!

{*} He really wanted to shave off the beard however, he had cut himself several times before and he had a low tolerance to pain so he called his doctor up to order a case of morphine and several tranquilizers, all charged to his HMO.

{*} He lay back on the bed and waited for the drugs to arrive.  There wasn’t much to distract him from the thought of the procedure and would the drugs be enough to numb the pain.  There was a window on the opposite side of the room

{*}, and a Muppet staring at him from outside. “Wakka, wakka, wakka!” it said.  He placed his hands on his ears and pulled at his hair.  Surely he was imagining this.  Muppets couldn’t really hang out outside windows like stalkers, could they?

{*} The Muppet leaned in looking directly at me with a ridiculous, mischievous grin… I thought he was going to tell me something like, “they all float down here Georgie!” But he whispered. “The wasted shavings of misspent youth.”

{*} Can Muppets really feel regret? I mean really, what is a Muppet but cloth and some felt and buttons stitched together? And yet, here it was deep in reflection, philosophy about

{*} shavings.  The Muppet’s face turned ugly with a scowl.  He removed a glass cutter and made a clean entry circle through the hospital glass, and stepped inside.

{*} Now he would be safe.  No more shavings, only solitaire – this made him uneasy but he felt he had no choice.

{*} This was the last chapter of my novel I wrote three years ago.  I was forty-eight, a retired policeman, shot in the leg, forced out of the department.  I called the book, One Day In Tibet.  The book did not get picked up.  Alas, I was a crippled police officer, a failed

{*} public servant.  Nothing left for me now except politics.  This is the story I told the reporter and by God, I’m sticking to it!

Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper. 

The exercise was interesting.  I found it required a conscious effort to write something that picked up where I though the story was going and carry on with it.  It was not always easy to pick up  the story line though, (see evidence above) as we were only reading the last few lines before adding to the narrative.  

Listening to the readings I understood a couple of things

1. Some people went back to the original prompt to try to keep the story on track while others more strictly followed the directions and read only the last few lines.  Still others did their own thing. Bravo!

2. At the end of the day no one really was sure who had written what.  This anonymity encouraged people to write things, which I do not believe they would have written if they could have been more easily identified.

3. This was fun but could be “funner” with some refinements to the process.


09 February 2013
The prompts were:
1. Shadow-men
2. Mystery diners
3. I would never think of ___ the same way again.

Begin writing
The shadow-men moved furtively down the alley, vigilant and alert.  The night was dark.  Overcast and a new moon.  The damp softened their footsteps.  They were impossible to hear and difficult to see.
I knew they were there but you sensed their presence only if you were attuned to the changing textures of the night.  You had to study the contrasts of the black on black.
At the end of the alley they regrouped.  There were a dozen of them that I counted when they rounded the corner and were briefly exposed to the faint glow of the street light on the corner.  There may be more but the light suddenly blinked out and I lost count as they moved to and fro.  Making their way down the street.
I realized that they had stopped again and that would make thing more interesting.  Their interest seemed to be focused on the diner down the block.  The diner where Carmine was having dinner.  Chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy.  I knew what he was eating because it was what he ate every night.  Carmine was a creature of habit.
The glow from the window did not reach the stalkers who remained just out of it’s reach.  It looked like the party was getting ready to begin.
In mass they rushed the door of the diner and burst in yelling.
“Surprise!” the bellowed in unison as Carmine leapt to his feet in fear, frantically searching for something to use as a weapon against the swarm of intruders who had interrupted his dinner.
I watched him sink weakly back into his seat when they yelled “Happy Birthday Carmine!”  He cursed us all softly as he smiled and shook his head.  “Got me”

Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper. 

16 February 2013

The prompts were:
1. The headline read…
2. Time traveling food truck
3. Criminal intent

Begin writing
Seems like “when it rains it pours” I thought.  A week ago, after a windy night, I didn’t think much of the fact that I had to relight the water heater.  The side door had been left open to the garage and the wind had been, not quite strong enough to be called fierce but ‘substantial’.  I thought the pilot had simply blown out.
Two days later, when I had to light it again, it was one of those things that make you say “Hmmm…”  I couldn’t use a windy night to explain this one away.  But, it lit, after a few attempts and the water got hot.  All may be right in the universe after all!
The third time I woke to a cold shower I knew repairs were in order.  It took three days for a plumber and the parts to rendezvous with the water heater but, finally it seemed to be fixed.  Wasn’t cheap but was fixed.
Last night I went out to run some errands and grab a bite to eat.  The market, the drug store, the hardware store and the In and Out Burger.  Parked in one of those lots the car got sideswiped.  Red paint on both passenger side doors and the right rear quarter panel.  Damage looks bad enough to warrant a trip to the body shop.  I don’t really have the time or the bank account for this.
This morning the post came and I received a letter from the IRS.  They want to audit my returns for the last 10 years.  But, the fire last year destroyed all my financial records, not to mention the house.  How does the line go in the song?  “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all”?  Guess that about sums it up for me these last couple of years.  But putting aside the car damage and the water heater and the audit it hadn’t been toooo bad recently.  I mean after my boat burned and the dog died.  I had really had a reasonably easy time of it, until now.  Before that it had been pretty bad though!  We went a long time before Mom finally got Billy the help he needed from the VA.  He hadn’t been right since he got back from Vietnam.  The drought had wiped out the crops for two years in a row and the bank took the farm.  Dad was defiant up until the end though.  With criminal intent he burned the farm house down, then got arrested, tried, and convicted of arson when the bank pressed charges.  Dad passed away under the care of the state.  I don’t think they had been taking very good care of him after all.  After dad died mom had sorta given up.  She wandered away and

Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper. 

23February 2013

The prompts were:
1. Family guy
2. Collateral damage
3. In dreams of trees
4. I opened the Sunday paper and there was my picture.

Begin writing

Penny reached for the cup and took a sip of coffee.  Black, no sugar.  She was sitting at the kitchen table looking out the window at the sunrise.  The house was quiet but Mr. Stitches was winding against her leg purring.  “I better get used to a quiet house,” she thought.  “No one here now but me.”

The headlights came down the street and slowed at the driveway.  There was a soft ‘thunk’ as the paper landed behind her rental car and Tommy backed his car around to deliver more papers in the next block.  Tommy had been delivering papers to her parents for almost 10 years. He and  Penny had gone to the same school, although he was a year ahead of her.  “He had turned his first job into a career,” she thought and smiled to herself.

Pulling her dad’s oversized terrycloth robe tighter around her waist she slipped outside to collect the news and came back to the kitchen.  She topped up her cup of coffee and opened the Sunday paper.  There she was, above the fold, staring back up at herself.  The photo was a school yearbook picture from her Junior year at Wesley.  She was smiling at the camera and wearing her team uniform.  She had captained the Ultimate Frisbee team that season.  Seemed like a long time ago.  She felt a lot older now and a lot less carefree.  She looked at the headline. Large type but she couldn’t focus on it.  Her eyes were filling with tears.  “Must be allergies,” she thought as she blinked over and over.

It had been less than a week ago that Dean Wilson had presented her with her diploma and shook her hand.  She had then turned and scanned the audience but couldn’t spot her mother or father in the crowd.  The must have been delayed.  She was surprised though.  The plans had been carefully laid and although they were cutting it close the train should have been here in plenty of time for them to get to the stadium from the station.  Never mind, they would still rendezvous at the statue of Coronado and go out to celebrate.  Dad’s favorite restaurant in Santa Fe was ‘La Posta’ and he had promised a big plate of tamales to celebrate her graduation.

At the conclusion of the presentation ceremony they all tossed their caps into the air.  Clutching her hard earned diploma tightly Penny headed for the quad.  Coronado’s statue had been placed there to commemorate the ‘Cuarto Centenario’ (400th Anniversary) of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s entry into New Mexico. 
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper. 

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