June 2013

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01 June 2013

Back to the norm – three prompts and go…

The prompts are:

1. It was after all, a pirate city
2. It was finally there, after all those years, right in front of him
3. That would be the downside of teleportation

Begin writing
Charlie leaned back and stared.  He ran his fingers through his hair and finally blinked his eyes twice.  A low whistle escaped from his pursed lips.  It was finally there, after all those years, right in front of him.  He had given up hope countless times, now all he had to do was sign the probation papers and he would be free.  He was certain it was a mistake but he was unwilling to question it.  He could walk out of this prison and put his life back together.

He could get back with the guys he used to hang with.  It shouldn’t be too hard to find Tex again; and he figured Squeaky would be there in the valley, waiting for him.  It would be so much fun hanging out together again.  They could find that bastard, Bugliosi and show him how it felt.  They could write some music lyrics on his walls with blood.  Not “Helter Skelter” though, they had already done that and, this gangsta rap shit that passes for music these days was so uninspirational.  How could “yo, yo, yo” strike fear in anyone’s heart.  They would have to go for lyrics from some of those golden oldies.  But it would have to be the right lyrics.  Choose wrong and your whole well-cultivated public persona could be wiped out.  I mean, what would someone think if you scrawled “Drove my Chevy to the Levee” on a wall with human blood.  Although, “Bye, bye, Miss American Pie” might work.  The psychologists and the press would have a field day with that one.  It would be / could be subject to a plethora of different interpretations.

Charlie reached for the pen and signed his name.  The warden looked at the paper while the guards were removing his shackles.  He was about to walk out the front door.  No more walls, no more bars.  Free to kill and hang with his peeps again.  They might have to relocate though, somewhere with a lower cost of living than the San Fernando Valley.  He hadn’t planned well and didn’t have a 401K.  The warden frowned and creased his brow, “Hang on” he said “you signed as Charles Manson.  This release is for Charles Mason.  Six months for ‘Failure to Support’ out in three.  Sorry Charlie, it’s back in the lockup for you.  Guards, go get Mason in here.  Shirley, can you print out another copy of these papers please?”
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

08 June 2013

Another smallish gathering today.  Five of us.  We got to go twice

The prompts are:

1. It hurts because it mattered.
2. But if anyone asks, tell them we’re fine.
3. That’s weird, thought Cupid.  I’ve never hit the wrong person before.

Begin writing
The scantily clad, skinny, but full breasted, young woman walked around the ring smiling her 100 Watt smile.  The sign she held over her head read “ROUND 1”.

The bell rang and the fighters squared off in the center of the ring.  It was the title bout and the main draw on the card for the evenings fights.  Cupid Camacho 21-1 and 1 was defending his title against Shamus O’Shaunessey 15-0 and 2.  There had been a lot of trash talk, a lot of pre-fight publicity.  The energy in the hall was palpable; the noise, deafening.  The fighters were trading jabs, feeling each other out.  “This part of a fight is always the same” thought Camacho to himself.  “We could phone in the 1st round and no one would notice.”  The fighters were under strict instructions to make it last at least 5 rounds.  All the punters needed to feel that they got their money’s worth, which they wouldn’t do if the fight was over too quickly.

Camacho’s attention was suddenly drawn back to his opponent.  O’Shaunessey had his left arm back and his glove a shoulder height.  He was telegraphing a large roundhouse punch.  “What the hell!” yelled Camacho, “Don’t you know enough to save that kind of heat till round 8?”  But his mouth guard made it sound more like, “Moomph demell? Blooma rhee?” Hard to talk with these things in.  He stepped back and easily dodged the shot then threw a little rabbit punch to the back of O’Shaunessey’s head when he followed through with the missed swing.

O’Shaunessey spun all the way around and squared up against Cupid again.  “Bring it on” thought Cupid.  “Screw the longer fight, this Irishman is going down.”  He started to taunt O’Shaunessey.  Dancing, beckoning, and spreading his arms wide.  His trainer was yelling from the corner.  Camacho knew what he was doing was not too smart; and you did not amass a record like his by being stupid but, he was confident that he could take this guy, probably by the end of the next round.  The bell rang and the fighters retreated to their respective corners.  The skinny long legged girl came back out with the second card held overhead and started to circle the ring.  Her smile was once again blinding.

His trainer was talking but Cupid was in the zone.  He wasn’t hearing much.  Ding, Ding, Ding – Back in the ring but this time things were quiet.  The crowd was on their feet.  Fists were flying but Cupid neither heard nor felt anything.  Suddenly Shamus dropped his arms and turned.
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

I gotta finish the story so…

“What a rookie,” Camacho thought.  He cocked his right hand back by his ear and tapped O’Shaunessey on the shoulder.  O’Shaunessey turned and started to duck but Camacho felt the impact of his driving right hand as he made contact.  He heard the crunch of bone and saw blood and teeth flying.  He looked down at his opponent and saw the buxom young ring girl lying unconscious on the mat.  “That’s weird,” thought Cupid, “I’ve never hit the wrong person before – so much for that beautiful smile.”

And now for the second set of prompts

The prompts are:

1. He pointed me toward the opening in the tree.
2. She gasped with excitement and shouted over the noise from the helicopter.
3. In heroes, it’s the flaw that most endears.

Begin writing
“Al,” my mother said with complete exasperation, “Go out and play with your sister.  I don’t want to hear it anymore.”

“But Mooomm…”

“Don’t” she barked, “just do it!”

Dejected and knowing that further resistance was futile, I turned and headed into the back yard.  My stupid sister was setting up a stupid tea party in the back yard underneath the tree.  What had I done to deserve this?  I should be playing baseball with Jim and Roger.  My stupid sister, Ann, had three stuffed animals dressed in doll clothes posed around the blanket.  She was wearing a red vest and a top hat.  She pointed to the empty place setting, “You sit there and keep Pooh, Snuggles and Amy company.  I have to get my watch.” She told me as she went inside.

I sat down and looked around the blanket.  Pooh, Snuggles and Amy didn’t look like they wanted to be there either.

Suddenly Ann came running around the corner of the house.  She was looking at a large gold pocket watch she held in one hand.  Her other hand clamped her top hat on her head.  “I’m late” she screamed, “quick, follow me!”  She pointed me toward the opening in the tree.  Funny I had never noticed that opening there before.  It looked like a large knothole about four feet off the ground.  I watched in amazement as Ann left her feet and dove into the knot hole, disappearing into the inky darkness at the center.  Then Pooh and Snuggles dove in, just as Ann had done.  Amy, a sock monkey, swung up on a low branch and dropped in feet first.

This is weird, it thought, but if I don’t stay with Ann, Mom will ground me forever and I’ll never play baseball again.  I walked to the tree and tentatively stuck my hand into the opening.  I got sucked in.  I tumbled through space for what seemed to be a long time.  When I rolled to a stop I found myself in a soft bed of grass.  My companions were there too but they were seated at a picnic table with some other strange characters.

About that time Ann noticed me staring “Come on over Al and have some tea and cookies.” She said.

“What the heck is going on Ann? Where are we?”

“We’re having a tea party under the tree in the backyard.  Isn’t it fun?”

I had to admit, it was getting to be kinda fun, “But how???”

“Don’t know.” She said, “Just enjoy it.  I’m never sure when it’s going to end either.”

I reached for a sugar cookie and looked at the sock monkey.  She was shaking her head, “Chocolate chips are better” she said.
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

Amy

22 June 2013

Another light turnout today.  Probably six of us but I don’t remember for sure.  We got to go twice again!

The first set of prompts are:

1. I removed another shovel full of dirt.
2. Just stay quiet.  I think it’s blind. But get ready to run, just in case.
3. It was less than a second, but it changed everything.

Begin writing
It began as a beautiful day; clear sky, sunshine, slight breeze, and about 72 degrees.  It was my weekend to take the twins.  We were going to the zoo today as the girls really wanted to see the albino crocodile.  The new exhibit was on loan from Northern Australia, the municipal zoo in Darwin to be exact.  Crocodiles were common there so weren’t a big draw locally but, an albino croc commanded some hefty fees from other zoos internationally.  Loaning this big twelve foot guy out for a year would probably cover the Darwin Park’s budget for the next five.

Kendra, Kelsey and I got to the zoo early and secured our tickets.  We learned that “Snowball”, yes that was his name, “Snowball” would be fed at 10:30.  We wanted to be there for that but it left us plenty of time to check out the big cats first. So we did.  Then we bought snow cones and got to Snowball’s cage about 10:00.

It wasn’t really a cage though.   The zoo had constructed a habitat for the beast that closely resembled the marshy swamp lands that exist on the Northern coast of Australia, or at least what I envisioned them to be.  There was a wall, approximately 3 ½ feet high that separated the visitors from the croc’s habitat.  The other side of the wall dropped 10 – 12 feet lower.  There was grass, water, mud, cypress trees and reeds below.  We looked but could not spot Snowball.  Feeding time was not that far off so we settled in to wait and started looking for the large albino lizard.

Then the nightmare began.  It took less than a second but it changed everything.  A clamor and ruckus arose behind us.  People were yelling and screaming.  I turned to see what was going on and saw a zoo truck barreling backward right for us.  I pushed Kendra out of the way but Kelsey and I had to jump…We suddenly found ourselves in North Oz.  I shook my head to clear it and looked for Kelsey.  She was about 15 feet away, waist deep in the water.  One foot in front of her floated a giant albino man-eating crocodile.  I was sure that it could function as a Kelsey eating crocodile as well.

He was still and staring right at her.  Kelsey was paralyzed with fear, frozen, immobile and quiet.  In a stage whisper I said, “Just stay quiet.  I think it’s blind.”  I remembered a biology class in my past that made me associate the albino condition with poor eyesight.  “I’ll try to distract him but, get ready to run, just in case.”  In retrospect this was, of course, stupid advice.  There was no way that a 13 year old girl was going to outrun a twelve foot hungry crocodile but, at the time it must have sounded reassuring.  Kelsey looked at me, slowly swallowed and nodded her head.
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

And now for the second set of prompts (we only got one but, in my mind a set can be singular sometimes – when it suits me that is) and we only have 15 minutes as well – write quickly

The prompt is:

1. It was like being stuck on a trampoline with no exit in sight.

It was like being stuck on a trampoline with no exit in sight.  Exactly like that.  It had been like that since I got on the trampoline.  I bounced along, seemingly forever trying to find the edge.  It was all good fun when I started.  I had climbed on and begun jumping.  Soon I was showing off: flips and spins, flops and leaps. No one was watching though, so I’m not quite sure who I was showing off for.  But, I was having a great time.  After a while I began to tire and thought about getting off.  I turned around but all the leaps, flips and spins must have disoriented me, the edge wasn’t there.  I know its a big trampoline but I couldn’t even see the edge.  I looked around – nothing but darkness and trampoline as far as I could see.  I leapt higher but couldn’t spot the edge.  “This is crazy,” I thought to myself and now I had been bouncing in one direction for what seemed like hours.

What’s that? Movement in front of me.  I head for it.  More figures bouncing, maybe they can help.  I must be hallucinating.  It looks like a large albino Crocodile, holding hands with Rod Serling.  They are bouncing and spinning and singing, “Ring around the Rosie. Pocket full of posie.”  The song stops. They both collapse onto the rubber-like surface laughing hysterically.  When the oscillations stop they get up and do it again.  I slowly turn around and, careful not to draw attention to myself, head in the opposite direction.
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

29 June 2013

Big crowd today – good to see…I had a hard time with the prompts and am not too happy with my product but…

The prompts were:

1. If I had a choice to be financially wealthy or extremely attractive I would choose…
2. We watched the puppet show to see the strings
3. Look what you made me do, he whispered through gritted teeth

Begin writing
Given a choice between wealth or beauty I believe I would choose to go to a hockey game instead.  You can learn a lot about life from hockey.  I’ve always loved the game of hockey and probably would have been a famous center-man whom Wayne Gretzky would have emulated when he came along years later.  I could have done that but my dad caught me smoking when I was about 14 years old.  My punishment was to give up ice hockey.  That cigarette cost me millions of dollars in unearned income, I’m sure.

I say I would have been a center-man despite my admiration for defense.  Hockey is a game of defense and a good defensive player is a joy to behold.  I would have given anything to play defense but a good defensive skater can go backwards at least as fast as he skates forwards and can change direction on a dime.  I was never good enough skating backwards to be effective on the point but, defense is what wins championships.

In America we have a need for winners.  We have an inability to accept a tie.  It wasn’t always this way, at least not in hockey.  Ties were frequent and in the standings a team was awarded two points for a win, one point for a tie and no points for a loss.  As the game crept further south and expanded into the US it adopted overtimes and shootouts for regular season games.  No such thing as a scoreless tie anymore.  In my opinion the game lost a lot of character when a winner was demanded every time.

This insistence on a winner is, I believe, detrimental not only to hockey but to society as a whole.  It polarizes us.  It encourages a black and white vision while discouraging nuance and shades of grey.  Agreeing to disagree is no longer an option.  Compromise is a lost art.  A tie game is something kids read about in books but are not allowed to experience any more.  It’s always “You are with me or against me,” “My way or the highway,” “Black or White,” Right or wrong,” “One or Zero,” “Rich or attractive.”  Why do we have to make these decisions?  Why do we frame our choices so? Why do we force these decisions on our youth?  Bring back the “tie” in sports?  We would all be better for it.
Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.

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