Decent and good parents

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

On the corner
of Cajon and Vine
      sat at a cafe
a family
walked by

The kid
holding hands
with a woman
      I’ll say his mother
passed a Porsche
and
while swinging
his free arm
said
“I just saw a Lamborghini.”

His parents said naught
to which I thought
“No, you didn’t
it’s a Porsche.”

30 years from now
he’ll be
walking
holding his lovers hand
They’ll pass by
a Porsche
and
he’ll say
with one arm swinging
“I just saw a Lamborghini.”

And his lover
having had decent
and good parents
will reply,
“No, you didn’t
it’s a Porsche.”

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Someone is listening

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

There is a man
crossing the street
talking to himself
or
he has Bluetooth
or
he is talking
while the Bluetooth
connects
another mind
prepping speech
for tongue
or
someone is hearing
or
someone is listening
or
someone is listening
for the pause
triggering
their own tongue
or
he is talking
to god
or
he is talking to someone
and that someone
is also god
or
he is talking to
another fragment
of god
and
between them
god is talking
to itself
or
god is talking
and
I wrote
these thoughts

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Soul Asylum Radio

Hello fellow readers and writers,

Recently, I had the unique experience of participating in a podcast episode of Soul Asylum, a podcast on Blog Talk Radio. I was asked to share one of my poems, In Eulogy with the Burst.

Thank you CAL, Essama and AP Taylor for having me on. Check it out the 12/18/2020 Soul Asylum Radio episode, my portion begins at minute 20:35, but listen to the entire episode if you enjoy discussing and listening to poetry.

Tune in weekly to their show or catch up on their full catalog of episodes, they are enthusiastic and passionate about poetry.

Thank you, again, to Essama, for asking me to join and share a piece.

The ants are back

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

The ants are back looking for my food
out from their hole in the dirt and weeds
through the gap in the sliding glass door

The ants are back looking for their food
and I don’t see them until they wind
around the trash can and chair legs
to corners un-swept and dots sticky

The ants are back looking for my food
and they are ready and I am not
I say tomorrow, they eat today
my food, their food, the ants go marching
one by one, they are ready, I am not

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

This heart

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

This heart
belongs in a zoo
next to hyenas and baboons
next to lizards and bones
it
thumps boorish grunts
beats, cleaved,
in the curling tines of its cage

This heart
pumps
fossils and weeds
dying wheelbarrows
squeezing out rust

this heart
presses
black coffee
shatters windows
splinters doors

this heart
pulls from barbs
lights Molotov’s
rolls in whiskey and glass


this heart
hisses and smokes

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Only marrow enough

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I am bone tired
the tongue no longer salivates
there is no roar
in my chest
only enough strength
to listen

And beauty slathers itself
on rusted sheds
cricket legs
a field of dust and weeds

only marrow enough
in my paintbrush bones
to listen

and the beautiful
hums in the fridge
slaps in the leaves
whistles in my nose
wheezes in my chest

My chest
just strong enough
to listen

for beautiful

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

I know a great writer

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I know a great writer
but you don’t
her greatness is planted
in not knowing, not
thinking she is great
and I know she is
a great writer
but she doesn’t and
she writes anyway
and I write but
I try not to think of
my standing
my standing over
or standing under the
writing of other writers
and I stand up
and I think of the words
and the words I don’t know
but that great writer writes
knowing nothing of her greatness
and I write but
I stand and go outside
taking off my shirt to let the sun
soak in
and I think of her greatness
and not my own
and she doesn’t
think of me

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Float, Volcano, Marathon

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Astronauts spin holding an orphan rope
All known life bouncing from their visors
Green and blue and white and brown

My fingers burn and quake at glowing letters
An eruption of black spews over white
Invisible specks from that deep black pool

Finger through tar race chariots of fire
One view, two views, three views, four
One like, two likes, then no more

The window checking fever of a lost love
Howling wolves, laughing hyenas, danger
Bricks are laid one by one by one by one

Not fame, not money, not glory, nor expertise
Anxious desire to transcribe thought
To write. Not to be read, but understood

Condition, Skin, Waiter

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Slip, drip through cracks. Crocodile flesh the desert floor eats all alive sun baking the heat Venus Fly Trap. Death

Circumstances, existence temporary. Ripping veils kicking, screaming, bleeding, kissing, fucking, missing, sleeping…not waking up. Being

Fingers, toes all in a flurry. Skittering, tittering blurry. Frenzy, quaking and shaking. Sun’s point of view, we don’t move. Waiting

Pain, pangs, sharp, dull. Internal buzzing, humming, thumping, drumming. Moon lathers, shaving, slivering, chiseling, waning. Time

Pain, pangs, sharp, dull. Internal buzzing, humming, thumping, drumming. Moon is full. Love

Surprise, alive, squeeze, squeal. Internal buzzing, humming, thumping, drumming. Moon shaves and grows. Love

Dirt, water, air, fire.

falling stars
waterfalls
choking weeds
blooming buds
browning grass
lush jungle
forest fire
toxic sunsets
fresh air
bleeding noses
Eskimo kisses
Love

Outlook, Violation, Thumb

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Lemuel sat at the bow of the ship staring at the thin line that his elders had told him was land. Born on the boat, he’d never been to land, but he was told it was like the deck of a ship that never rocked and often stretched as far as the eye could see. Lemuel was also told that there was no need to ever go there. The ship and the sea had everything they needed. Except for the lemons and a few other supplies.

To go and live on shore among all the evil that existed there was one of the main themes Lemuel was taught time and again. For the lemons and other necessities, special crew members called thumbs were designated and even then, they traveled ashore in groups of three; one with a blind fold, another with a gag in his mouth and the third with earplugs. Each specialized in a sense. The eyes (gag) surveyed and looked for the appropriate vendors. The ears (blindfold) listened to the side conversations of vendors to make sure they were not being taken advantage of. The mouth (earplugs) spoke for the fleet belonging to the Lemonmouths.

Lemuel looked down at his first tattoo, a small black lemon on his right wrist. Made from the ink of octopi and squid pulled up, boiled down and inked by the “daubers”. According to his grandfather, the Lemonmouth needed very little to communicate and in a picture a thousand conversations could be had. By looking at the other’s eyes and down to their tattoos, Lemuel had learned to communicate.

The lemon wedged in Lemuel’s mouth was still fresh, the rind had not yet broken down or been accidentally punctured by a tooth. He wiped away the steady stream of saliva with his water cloth, a strip of sail each Lemonmouth carried around for that purpose. His was brown and crusted by salt but that was normal.

In Lemuel’s world, the lemon was a sacred object. Geronimo Coolidge, their forefather, the lemon prevented scurvy, but it also kept out evil spirits, from entering the body or the world. A world, that for Lemuel, consisted of water and wood, yet he would stare at that thin line near the horizon and wonder what it was like, evil or not.

Insist, Nap, Meaning

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

The cowboys silhouette dipped left and right with the trotting of the horse. Dust swirled around and the tumbleweeds hopped and rolled across the trail. The horse would slow its pace until spurs dug into its side. A quick gallop and then back to a trot but the cowboy demanded they keep moving.

The journey had started just before the sun started peaking at them from behind. Now the sun was slipping behind the mountains in front of them.

They came across a stream and the cowboy stopped, taking the bridle in his hand and leading the horse to water. As the horse drank, so the cowboy dipped his cowhide waterskin for his own drink. After filling it, he cupped a hand into the water and drank.

Spotting a tree across the stream, they walked through the water and tried to rest. The cowboy leaned up against the tree and covered his face with his hat. The horse bended its knees and collapsed immediately into a snore. They would continue on during the night but from transition of light to darkness they would sleep.

Only the sounds of the snoring horse, wind flapping through the leaves and the stream could be heard. The cowboy kicked off his boots and rubbed his feet, keeping the hat over his face. The horse kicked out but kept snoring.

Crickets, invisible to eye but not to the ear, began to drown out the other sounds. The cowboy fell asleep and dreamed.

Of swirling dust, giant tumbleweeds, snorting horses, distant gunshots, crying children and a woman’s embrace. Riding a 20-foot horse, the cowboy approached a city the likes of which he’d never seen. Buildings like mountains, lights in the shape of words and tropical fruits. A thousand bells ringing and glasses clinking. Carts with giant wheels pulled by invisible horses.

The cowboy now rode on a horse smaller than the carts that passed him. He looked up all around to see walls of glass and light. No signs of tumbleweeds, cacti or even dust. A man wearing a bright orange cowboy vest that reflected light carried a giant satchel over his neck and around his waist. The man walked up to the cowboy, looking down at him and tapped two notes together before handing him one.

The cowboy held it in his hand “two for one drink special at the spicy cabana. Girls drink free.”

The horse snorted in his sleep, waking the cowboy who removed his hat and looked out over the plain. No glow in the distance, no sun only the moon, stars and the crickets. Scratching his head, the cowboy pulled on his boots. He stood up and looked all around. With two quick clicks of his tongue, the horse sat up and the cowboy bent down to pet its mane.

Strap, Navy, Onion

A short piece incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Wiping away the tears under an orange sky. A peach-orange hue mixed with fog, chemicals and city lights. The knife pushed into the onions sending up its own natural recipe of tear gas. One wrinkled hand picked up the cutting board and another used the knife to slide the chopped pieces into a pot.

Sizzling and hissing, the onions surrendered with a delicious smell.

BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. The hands dropped the knife. The ships guns were starting their one-way messages. Boom. Boom. Boom. This time more distant, another ship in the fleet reiterating the firsts statement.

Picking up a potato, the hands deftly maneuvered the root vegetable into little starch squares. After each one, the hands picked up the cutting board and slid the pieces into the pot, adding to the onions smell.

After the potatoes came the carrots. The hands cut little circles, roughly the size of the squares and dropped them into the pot. Halfway through, a message from the enemy came through and rocked the ship back and forth. The hands dropped everything and grabbed a leather strap fastened to a steal handle on the kitchen wall.

The hands and strap swayed with the movement of the ship, both attempting to stay upright. It was only water that had been disturbed but the waves let the ship know it wasn’t pleased. The hands grabbed at the knife and carrot, now working slower, a little shakier.

A bead of sweat dropped onto the cutting board, a reminder. The hands grabbed a shaker of salt and sprinkled it into the pot.

Another message was sent from the enemy on shore, this time a BOOM. The ship’s lights turned red and the hands, fumbling for the strap, found themselves grasping for something as they slid on the floor, back and forth. Steadier, the hands pushed of the ground and shaking, attempted to pick up the knife. Realization. The knife set down, the hands grabbed the salt and a wooden spoon, stirring in salt with the other vegetables.

One hand fumbled for something inside a shirt. A necklace made of wooden beads all cascading down on a fishing line that ended in a lower case “t”. The other hand wiped sweat from a brow and scratched a temple.

“Who had cooked the last supper? Were they aware of the impending doom forecasted for later that evening? Were their signs?”

The pot steamed and the hands relaxed, back to their work.

Today

Today was a good day.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I blasted straight up through the clouds, punching that little grinning cherub on the 9th before rocketing past cloud 10, 11, 15, 37, 100.

I found another winning lotto ticket after losing the first in a drunken blur. Then, sober and aware, I found the first ticket, crumpled in a pocket.

I can see straight and think in any direction I choose. This morning I looked at the mirror, smiled, and realized I wasn’t staring at a stranger but looking at a friend.

I stepped out of my mind, out of my house and strangers walked up to me, asking about my shirt, my tattoos, my hat. The mask hid my smile but my crows feet must have been tap dancing around my shimmering disco ball eyes.

I have a full deck. I am kind, I am genuine, I am determined, I am empathetic, I love and want to be loved. I have bad cards too, but I’ve got a royal flush and I’m all in.

I am grateful, bowing to that mystical, cosmic energy. On my knees, not from defeat but in recognition and relief of victory.

She wore the band t-shirt I gave her before COVID cancelled the concert. I wore the band shirt she gave me the night before I wouldn’t see her for weeks after.

We met and I’m just glad I got to see her. I’m glad she got to see me. I’m glad I’m starting to see myself.

So now I look up at the stars before I go to bed and the terrors grip me, gasping in my sleep. I know I’ll wake up and have a beautiful day. And if I die before I wake, I’ll have lived a good day today.

And my youth is…

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

And my youth
is running out
and your age
is coming
to an end
and our time
together
has been
short lived.

So when my time
comes
let it be
in the embrace
of a hug,
the verge
of a smile
or
that wave of
emotion
that crashes into
a new parent
when they hold
their child
for the first time.

Let it be
in the silent scream
of a shooting star.

You or me

A short piece, September 16, 2020

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

It is far riskier to live than to be dead. I will die, so I may as well behave as if I never will. Life is made miserable by the well-intended and mal-intended alike. Both similar in their impositions on life, though one may have the self in mind while the other follows their ego.

In the quest for all our somethings, we choose to be seen by what we do for ourselves or by what we do for others. I want to consider the other but not at the expense of self. I want to consider the self but not at the expense of the other.

Existentialism lacking altruism or altruism lacking existentialism. A panacea for existence does not exist.

And so, remember, I wrote this under a yellow porch light, slapping at mosquitoes, coughing up smoke from wild fires and thinking of me or you, or me.

The Fool’s Pleading

A short piece. I don’t know.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

The panting dogma of nuns, “O God, God, wherefore art thou God?”

A burlesque bureaucracy.

Earthen gates whisper of conspiracy. They have no plans other than “hold on tight, stick to the script.” Creativity be banished, taken down into the fires of hell where they will be forged with the devil’s brand. Rising as dead souls battling the young. A past that has already traveled and seen fighting against a speeding future. And the present whispering into the ear of tomorrow, “full steam ahead, cowboy.”

The mulling query of Darwins, “O Truth, Truth, wherefore art thou Truth?”

An algorithmic disco.

Where am I to derive the juices flowing from the nut in my skull, its fruit spilling viscous memory and fantasy in the same drop? What’s in my head? Will I be the breath of tomorrow’s baby or the mustard gas of victory’s soldier? Standing in a smoky battlefield, squinting through tears to find a shape like mine. Whom will I become?

The pandering memes of Narcissus, “O Me, Me, wherefore art thou Me?”

A tango of mirrors.

Follow me and I shall follow me. That is the golden rule. Achievement of the cracking of the nut, opening to a seed of nothing. Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you only lies. Traveling through the haze maze, the last marine on the beach. The spirit testing my muscle with its fluttering.

Watch the temple crumble in its own skin folding under the coat of gravity. Destruction by the hands fumbling in the dark relying only on memory. Is it where we be or where we are from that twists and pulls at our subconscious minds? Shaping us through the heavy bars of past and future tense, our hands only need to reach out and grasp the memory of cold metal, that taste of iron on the tongue, our memories and all the agony as useless as our blood. Never present.

We survive as animals but live as more. Begetters impossibly tasked with protecting fresh souls. Those tenacious in their duties receiving only resentment as thanks. Push them, gripping at the bars, to the signs ahead. God is the time we have here. Love it. Nourish it. Worship it. Find another life and share it with them, living one and living an others’ vicariously.

The collapsing heart of the writer, “O Wall, Wall, wherefore art thou Wall?”

A decaying waltz.

The lonely freedom of a star in the sun’s sky.

To become un-tethered from the darkness of all we think we know, only to find we’re suspended in a vast emptiness, alone on that island of confidence. Peering over the edge, tilting that careful balance of assurance and sending the mind spiraling down again. Sit in the middle. Creating tethers. Battling the force of emotion, so fast and fickle with its betrayal of memory. The force of wounded spirits capable of wounding. The blind lead the blind, those that can see, stop and look. We cannot help, we can only hope to carry each other. To feel the weight of another is to realize it’s heavier than our own. To love.

I want to cage that spirit living within, but I must sit in the middle.

The echoes of rejoicing muted by the island’s sands. Drowned by waves of realization that we are sound itself reverberating off of infinity’s pretzel-ed pipe.

The muted programming of Eve, “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”

Would that we could hold hands, screaming forever, licking the juices of that forbidden fruit.

Social Security

A short poem, 2013.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

A little boy sat on a bench in a park,
watching old men play their game. 

One moved his piece,
they frowned and they slouched,
then the other accomplished the same. 

The castles moved straight,
the horses made hooks
as the black and white shapes met their fate. 

The boy slightly shifted,
his gaze never lifted,
as the sun slowly made her escape.

The men’s eyes creased wrinkles
as moves spotted became twinkles
and their hands became part of the pieces. 

The boy closed his eyes,
looked up to the skies
and asked god why this game never ceases. 

God gave its reply
in the form of a sigh
but the men and their game stayed the same. 

The boy shook with cold,
looked back at the old
and decided that he would proclaim:

“I know I’m too young
for all of your fun
but it’s getting quite cold you see. 

My mother is waiting
but I’m still debating
if this is the game for me. 

I wanted to know
before I did grow
who would be left with his king. 

So I’m asking quite nicely
if you’ll play concisely
and finish this game before spring.”

The men gave a chuckle,
one grabbed his buckle,
as the boy cocked his head to the side. 

The old men gave advice,
hoping that would suffice
but the boy sauntered right up beside. 

Without making a scene,
he reached for the Queen
and moved in a line that was straight. 

The old eyes got wide,
the boy swelled with pride
as the man on the right cried,
“Checkmate!”

Sabbath Mourning

A short piece, 2012.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I used to be such a good boy. Making promises to my mother about keeping all my senses away from trouble. Every sight, sound, smell, flavor and texture was a blessing from God. Back when tattooed men were frightening and loud talking women made me angry. When skunks didn’t remind me of smoking and mint was just for candy. When a quarter was more valuable in my piggy bank than in my pocket. Back in the days when guns were made of plastic, bullets out of foam and soda was not a mixer. Back when I only had one face. Now here I am on the other side of the coin. And having seen both ends I know that you need both sides to buy a soda.

Vitriol

A short piece, September 10, 2020.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

You might read this and you might know me, or at least think that you do, but only those close right now know what I’m up to. I’m not the past, I’m not my experiences, or my family. Those may inform my choices but I am really only what I choose to do right now. So fuck you.

I sharpen my pencil when the letters get fatter on the page. Like a drop of blood sucked into the syringe of an addicts needle, you turn away your attention when my words bleed into your idea of me, just before plunging in your comfortable narrative.

Me? What a crazy concept. A ball of indie movies and music with arms and feet. A scarecrow mixed with contrarianism and a middle finger.

If you want it, chances are I don’t. if you’re talking about it, chances are I haven’t heard it. If you photograph it, chances are it’s not worth remembering.

This piece of vitriol brought to you by truth. Truth discovered by waving a machete through the dank foliage of your hashtags, peace signs, fake idealism and fear masked by makeup and dancing. Hacking at your need to defend yourself when no on is attacking.

My tips getting fat, it needs to sharpen again. It reminds me of you, I think you should get sharper too. Stop talking about what they tell you to talk about and start talking about why they tell you anything in the first place.

If you’re really against “flaming hot cheetos” that run “democracies” (your word, not mine) like dictators, then either put a bullet in his head or give your jabbering jaw a little slack. I know at least my ears will stop ringing from all your white noise, and it is white noise in more ways than one.

I am a man

A short poem, 2013.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I cry
I curl up under blankets with my hands between my knees and feel safe
I squeal and feel my heart bouncing when I see my dog or baby cousin
My body is beautiful with all its hair
I admire my tattoo’s
I take time to do my hair
I enjoy compliments
I have a hot temper
I am confident in changing a tire
I tremble when jumping a car battery
I struggle with expressing emotion
I feign humbleness when receiving a compliment
I cook breakfast, lunch and dinner
I am a man

Delirium Tremens

A short piece about the experience of alcohol consumption from 2014.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Fade up on a moment of clarity. Enter SELF.

SELF
It occurs to me the faith I will
need as one by one my brain cells
are killed in action. How many
neural connections do I require
before I divorce completely from
all logic and reason?


A shadow is cast over self. Enter EGO.

EGO
Will I transform into a carnivorous
vegetable reminiscent of a 1950’s
horror film: eating only everything
that comes close to my drooling
mouth?
(beat)
It’s only fitting that a man with
the caliber of a water pistol be
the recipient of a horrible, slow,
embarrassing death.

SELF
Is it actually dying or more of a
shift in existence?

Stars bounce around the periphery, disappearing before the
eyes rack focus. I, we cough.

SELF (CONT’D)
Sober now, my eyes, ears, nose,
tongue, and nerve endings sharpen
focus. I sense the rawness of
reality manifesting on my lower
legs. A bought of eczema, just
begging a handful of jagged
fingernails to claw, scratch, and
tear it off.
(Down on knees)
Just a minuscule drop of relief. A
small taste please.

I, we wheeze.

EGO
Sobriety, the stoic’s drunkenness.
It all still feels fake.

BACK TO:

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT
I am visiting the set of my favorite TV show for the first
time. The dissected apartment disillusions me. A RED GLOW
bounces off my face in harmony with the electronic HUM and
CLICK of flashing signs marked ‘applause.’

3 OMITTED
thru
1346


1347 INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT (CONTINUOUS)
I wake up rubbing my temple. GOD, an octogenarian with a full
head of white hair, exits the building. However, its
SCREECHING echoes still crash around my head.

GOD
(Sniveling)
My son did not commit suicide. You
killed him.

I step out into the light. Blinking like an old projector, I
take in the images at increasing frame rates.

24 FRAMES PER SECOND
I lick my lips.

30 FRAMES PER SECOND
The corners of my mouth defy gravity.

60 FRAMES PER SECOND
Through cracked lips, an unfamiliar voice squeezes out a
SUBTITLE:

ID
(Submerged)
I’m out in society.

Familiar voices respond.

SELF
Is this me?

EGO
Or some other beast entirely?

I wipe SMOKE out of my eyes. The angst making a meal of my
LIVER, LUNGS, SPINE, and ever more fragile GREY MATTER.

SELF
The only advice I have been willing
to flood me has been vice.
Acceptance needs to seep in.
Drained dry and clean of my old mentor.

SELF (CONT’D)
It has to.

The echoes of my ego still reverberate in the walls of my
skull. Spiraling down my spine, giving us CHILLS, SPASMS,
and NAUSEA while gripping a toilet bowl.

I, we stick to the script.

ID
I’m okay.

The new mantra begins to sink in like an unused snip of 8MM FILM in a tar pit (slowly).

EGO
I’m okay.

ZOOM IN
One thousand raised pink SLASHES from wrist to armpit.

SELF
I’m okay.

FLASHBACK
BLOOD drips, spelling out a phrase on the floor:
“Blood: I”M OKAY.”

An ellipsis SPLATTERS on the linoleum behind the mantra:
“BLOOD: …”
I inhale.

INT. EMPTY SHELL OF A MAN – QUITTING TIME
The partiers arrive. The bouncer lifts the rope, introducing
4,000 queer chemicals to the pulmonary party. They work the
room and make acquaintances with the rest of the body.

Reluctant to leave at last call, the SMOKE stumbles out
leaving sticky SCUFF-MARKS on the dance floor.
(On judgement day I’ll
still most likely say…)

GOD
I’m okay.

SELF
I’m okay.

CUT TO:

Where are my teeth?

A short piece of prose, or something.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

You get so up in your head that you want to flash back to your BMX with the two pegs to ride down the street and back as fast as you can.

Weeks go by. Years go by.

You get so far into your projections. You want to change.

Years go by. Decades go by.

You see your family the same but they’ve all changed but they haven’t stayed the same. You make the same mistakes but with bigger consequences. All around you the t-shirts change, the science changes, sensitivity changes but it’s all still the same.

The body ages but the mind grows chaotic: A frantic camper in the rain racing to drive down stakes into mud. Stuck to stories growing mold, fuzzy but always staying the same.

The sandman doesn’t sprinkle you with dust. St. Nick can’t give you what you want. Christ could be relatable if only he’d made mistakes. You bought the world’s spirits, elixirs and potions but snake oils only erase time for nothing in return. The tooth fairy took all your teeth but I think she also has your innocence, and you never saw a dime.

Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the soup. Too many voices in your head spoil the creativity. You can spend time but you can never buy it.

The only option is to drive down stakes into moments you never want to let slip.

Qualify, Screen, Reaction

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Entitled by deed
Entitled by greed
Entitled to feed
Entitled to breed
Entitled to bleed
Entitled to stand on one’s own screed.

Begging for chances
Begging for advances
Begging at feet
Begging to eat
Begging for meat
Begging for the right to one’s own dances.

Burn up the screens
Burn up the scenes
Burn up the teens
Burn up the jeans
Burn for the queens
Burn to find out what everything means.

Tear down the bricks
Tear up the flix
Tear down the walls
Tear up the dolls
Tear down the malls
Tear of the curtain to see all the tricks.

Build up your scheme
Build up your cream
Build up your steam
Build up your dream
Build up your stream
Build to make the status quo scream.

Follow no man
Follow no plan
Follow no klan
Follow no fan
Follow no ban
Follow the instinct that tells you, “you can.”

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Factor, Attic, Fill

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Fill what’s empty
plenty
one to twenty

space unrecognized
sized
brain disguised

Addict’s eyes
compromise
Attic’s rise

March backwards
hcram
stuffed clam

Time to rhyme
Logic and
Reason be damned

Not a factor
Nonsense
wheal-less tractor



Grass, Thin, Theft

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Seas of blades
giants run, jump
make love and
sleep

Collapsing thuds
checkered cloths damp
with dew

Wrapped in wind
Robinhood thieves
pick-pocket hearts

Twisting chiffon
Spring steps
blades bend

Love is Molasses
Care is water
The thick and thin
of thieves.


Belief, Obese, Death

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Stars, sun and moon pattern canvases of purples and blues.

Bloated fingers stuffed through rings dab foreheads, stomachs and shoulders.

White hairs spill from Mitres jabbing at the sky.

Oceans of pink pressed hands squeezed white.

Fire licks spit roasted gluttons.

Salivating teeth taste smoke.

Souls peep morning skies through dewy windows.

Stars stab sun.

Moon kill sky.

Sun kill moon.

Trace, Estimate, Satisfaction

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

His fingers traced the groove that ran down the center of the barrel of the gun. The pointer finger taking a sharp right turn down to the end of the handle.

“And you know how to use that sweaty?” He licked his lips after he said it.

Her thumb clicked the safety off and moved up to the hammer, cocking it back. She double squeezed the trigger as if clicking a computer mouse. One, two shots went into his chest. The second bullet assisted the first through his chest cavity, and past T5 and T6 of the thoracic vertebrae. Her employers required such details so they could verify them with the coroners office and newspapers.

He was wide eyed and taking short halting breaths.

“To answer your question, yes, I do know how to use this thing.” She let it flop back and forth in her hand. “It’s pretty easy really, just squeeze. It’s like using a weed whacker or hand blender. Pretty straight forward.” She holstered the gun in her bra and put her white gloves back on.

“If I had to guess, you have about 10 to 15 minutes of living left to do. That’s a gift in my book, not many people are given the satisfaction of knowing how much time they have before, well you know.” She sat with her legs crossed, bouncing her right foot over her left and her hands stacked on her right knee.

“You…” he tried to say something but the effort produced bloody spittle on his lips.

“If I were you I would take time to review your surroundings. Start with this beautiful hard wood floor and work your way over the Persian rugs, carefully laid over one another as if haphazard, follow them to the base boards and their precision cuts all the way around the room. Take in the eggplant colored walls and up to the crown molding with its striking bevels, curves and lines so elegantly dividing the wall from the ceiling. Take in the Spanish style texture of the white ceiling and follow that to the center piece of the room, the French empire crystal chandelier. Note how it’s trimmed by Swarovski crystals. I bet you never bothered before today, huh?” She winked at him.

His eyes were glazing over but he laid back and stared straight up at the bell shaped light fixture dangling above him.

“If you don’t mind, I’m in a bit of a hurry, so as you pass I’m going to search your pockets for the information I am required to find. I’ll do that now.” She paused, as if waiting for permission, seeing him blink she proceeded.

Bus, Defeat, Miracle

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

He hopped on, paid the fair and took an open bench seat towards the back. Someone had vomited in the seat across the aisle from him. Gripping the handle above him, swaying with the bus, he lifted himself into the window seat and stared out.

The rain drops on the window made all the head lights look like shooting stars passing him. No one was walking the streets. Homeless were huddled at bus shelters, doorways and underneath shop overhangs.

Then, once again, he thought about her, a new her, a more recent her. As quickly as it had begun it had ended and instead of the hurt subsiding, it was rising again.

He lowered his sleeve by raising his arm and twisting his wrist to check the time. 40 minutes to get home, review what he had written so far, think about the new direction for the project and then call Larry. The new project was about his divorce but he couldn’t stop thinking about the girl friend he had had shortly after signing all the paperwork. He had lost her too.

Maybe lost wasn’t the right word, she had come and gone. He had to sit with that. Accept it and not hold onto it. It was too easy, with everything that had happened over the past year and a half, to not view things as defeats stacking up. He was winning in defeats. He snorted and smiled to himself, checking the neighborhood they were in. Two more stops.

No one saw the smile because of the mask he wore, everyone wore. The pandemic was still raging and he thought about how much social distancing he had already lost, now this “act of god.” It would be nice to experience a miracle some time soon rather than disaster after disaster.

One more stop. The bus pulled away from the curb and he watched the red and blue lights of a cop car across the street. They bounced all inside the bus when they passed.

He had to force himself to think about the story. At first a good idea. Taking his recent experience with divorce and creating a fictional horror out of it, exaggerating the feeling of loneliness, strangeness of the once familiar and the questions of what he had done wrong.

The bus stopped, he grabbed his bag and jogged around the corner to his building. Someone was exiting and held the door for him.

“Thank you.” he said passing.

“No problem, it’s nice to catch a brake sometimes.” The old woman laughed and let the door slip from her hand.

He kept going, trying to force himself to think of the story, to write what he knew but be separate enough from it to tell it coherently. Unlocking the door, he nearly tripped over his dog, Marty who was nearly seizing from excitement.

“Marty! Not now. I got work to do, bud.”

Setting his bag on his desk, he pulled out the notes he had begun taking. Reviewing all the acts and asking himself, what small details can I add that provide some relief to the heaviness of the story?

Pilot, Hair, Wolf

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

…only beginnings

At mach speed it screams through me, mixing with my chemistries, passing through the shudder down my spine and ripping through my rib cage. I’m left with a glimpse, a still of a needle nosed jet driven by a figure with a helmet and tubes. Intimate is the moment, a photo, a tingling, an ache.

Follicles salute bloody snouts. Extending past split ends, peering at red snow, hearing howling, growling and snarls. Patellas chatter with tibia, fibula and femur. The vertebrae conga twists and sways. Visceral macabre discos, danced by ancient biological giants and jolted still by animatronic technologies. Everlasting, never changing pirouette’s dedicated to the unknown, to fear.

Notes bounce jagged lines over tympanic membranes. Hear and let beat what needs beating. Listen: I can be fulfilled alone. I let things come and go. There are only beginnings…

Retain, Function, Analysis

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I haven’t the faintest idea how much I have drunk. I can see what’s left in the bottles and count the beers but those are no indicator as to the capacity or volume of liquid. At least not with my vision in the state it’s in. Perhaps an analysis of my personal ability to consume would be helpful if not at the very least interesting.

My ability to function with certain amounts of H20 and alcohol sometimes astonishes me. Bottles and cans shiver, empty next to the trash can, their use outlived, their spirits transferred into my being. I know that I am able to keep their contents long in the memory of my gut. My guts retention is amazing. A true American in all its glutenous, consumptive old glory.

Like those bottles and cans waiting to be tossed, I too shiver at the thought of needing more. A deep valley, is my body, slowly filling with the trickle of some Joshua tree property hose.

Yet, I still bob my head to the music, play with the dogs, wash the dishes, respond to endless streams of asinine emails and rub out those liquid pearls. What is a man to do with is time, his animal instincts and his intellect? To eat, to masturbate, to read, write and paint. That is how time is measured; in tasks, ideas, grunts and the reckonings of shame and regret.

Some of us take up our kitchen knives and create memories for our bellies. Some of us take up our kitchen knives and create outlets for pain. So much pain. What do we do with this pain? I don’t know, refer to how I spend my time.

The optimist believes in something greater, always better, a rising sun. The pessimist believes in nothing, see’s everything, the rising of the sun, its heat, its cancer, its vitamin D and its setting. The pessimist sees what is and optimist sees what could be. No one is only one of those things. It’s impossible to board an airplane and never think of its crashing.

Crystal, Axis, Angst

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

There is an angst that comes with the threat of suicide. Not one’s own, but that of one someone loves. It’s jarring. I love you so much so why would you not love yourself? That’s the question I find myself asking. Where will you go? If you are away from me, what will I do? Where will I be? How much time will it take me to get back on the path of “being okay”?

If I allow anyone to rotate around my axis, to be my moon and stars, how long will it be before they leave me? What have I been doing or not doing that removes them from my orbit? I am not the center of the universe but I like to gaze at the other stars, moons, planets and suns that grace me with their presence.

Don’t leave me. You’re light refracts from me. It reflects from me. I enjoy it’s rays coming to and through me. If your light is not there I am afraid of the darkness that will take over. I may find a new light but it will never uncover the shadows you have left.

A few have left me. A few leave everyone. Confused and contemplative of where we are left when those we love go away, whether from time or death, we stay and think. So I am here thinking.

I do not know where my crystals have gone. What will guide the light towards me when they are gone? When you are gone?

To punch the truth in the nose, why do some of my friends message me via text and never respond? “Hey, let’s hang out!” “Okay, what days and times work best for you?” I reply. But there is never a reply to mine.

Where will you go if you are not with me? Am I not adequate enough? because I feel that you are adequate enough for me, more than adequate. I love you but you leave me. So what do your words mean when they don’t match your actions?

A kitchen knife down the veins of a forearm. A car sitting idle in the garage. A man swimming out as far as he can to make sure he can’t swim back to the sand that grounds him.

Reasons to drink

Thoughts on growing up middle-class in America.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

At 3-4 years old I was asked which animals I wanted to pet in heaven. I was told from which star our savior would come. I was taught how to pray.

At 10-11 years old I got in trouble in my school for reading a book about my favorite dinosaurs, Velociraptors.

At 15 my grandfather attempted suicide. It was never talked about from that day forward, even though I saw him in a sterile facility, hair wispy, with a wrist band and hospital gown. I was asked if I wanted to go to church. I stayed home and watched stand-up instead.

At 33 I separated from my wife.

At 35 I get divorced.

At 34 I meet a real woman, I pee in my backyard, rent out a room to my best friend whom I met in rehab and do my best to limit my smoking and drinking.

And at some point I’ll stop listening.

I grew up in the land of mid-sized sedans, mini-vans and low-end luxury vehicles. The land where rap was tolerated as a phase instead of the gospel of fellow Americans. The land where men wore suits but ordered water when eating out on occasion. Where they preached loving they neighbor but threw their money at stained-glass windows and steeples.

I grew up in the land where causes had the opulence of being accessorized, awarded, badg-ed and medal-ed in. First place goes to the woman with her heart on her sleeve. What’s her prize? A podcast, followers and the right to perceive. Second place is forgotten.

I grew up where cultures were worn on the runway; tagged, liked and put to bed with the 24-hour news cycle. Where smiling with brace-corrected teeth was more important than listening. Where dents on garages were ignored for blue-tooth mirages. Where the placation of expressed problems were as cute as a stay-cation meme.

Meme, meme, me, me, me ,me: a virus of non-essential, feel-good, self-righteous, resting above comfortable but just below content ideas spread through imitation. Where love is shared with those who succeed and for those who don’t, martyrs are made. Where thought, like above, are unclear, influenced by what’s trending, not by what’s right.

I grew up where grandfather’s worked hard, father’s built empires and grandson’s teetered on their shoulders reaching for wisps of clouds. My hands are too soft, my mind too dull and my heart too brittle.

Where quarantine is spent at home with no reduction in grocery bills and no one wonders if today is the day. where there’s the luxury of debate, unpopular opinions and fundraising for traveling missionaries.

I grew up in the land where 14-year-olds built houses in foreign countries. Where 15-year-olds drove Mercedes-Benz and 16-year-olds started thinking about their parent’s colleges.

I grew up where authority is referred to on bend-ed knee but you don’t know what authority is. Authority is a running tally of wrist scars. Authority is counting days sober. Authority is orgasm at will. Authority is false teeth, cauliflower ears, and a crooked nose. Authority drags around an oxygen tank with wheezing breaths. Authority isn’t found on any screen, it rolls in a wheel-chair and dictates its will to on one.

I grew up where drugs, alcohol, pornography and other vice are worshiped for six days and absolved on the seventh. Where respect goes to the shiniest cars and the tannest chins. Where those who care the least are crowned the Kings and Queens of cool. A land of illusion where death is a shock at any age and life comes with medical, dental, optical and, a life insurance policy. Where people wait for bread with crossed arms and a tapping foot. Where necessity means a lack of excess and ignorance is an offer color joke chuckled at in church parking lots.

I grew up in the land of recycled boxes. Where one hundred rolls of toilet paper will never sell when on the self next to one-thousand roll packs for just a dollar ninety-nine more. Where emotions are changed by the click of a remote or swipe of a playlist.

No one taught me how to drink but Bukowski. No one taught me love but Shakespeare. No one taught me life’s lack of meaning but Seinfeld. No one taught me how to become a garbage pail for any drug passed my way but my lack of satisfaction. but I have a foot print on my ass the size of the middle class. Its kicked into my dockers in the direction of complacency, American democracy and mediocrity.

Patience, Large, Presidency

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I’ve been giving brow furrowing thought to uprooting my life and changing it radically. Thoughts that slow my steps when I walk, strip away all that’s around me and humble me in the chest. What are the things I have? So fortunate am I to have them, when compared to the other. Yet, perhaps, they are not what I should have.

For this thought to manifest in any sort of tangible way requires patience. A sort of patience that I have not practiced in my 34 years of consciousness, of which the prospect of practicing looms large over head. A weight that pushes down on my and wrinkles my forehead. What are the things I want, if they are not the things I have? Is it as simple as wanting the things I have? Or is it a question of adventure, a simple matter of trying, failing, trying, failing, trying, failing, and defining success out of those efforts. That is the currency of patience.

The presidency is touted as one of the hardest jobs on the planet. but why is this question only whispered in underground places, is it even a job that should exist? Should there be a thing so unreasonable, so unsatisfying for all of us that it exists? Why can we not question the existence of something we once created?

And so I find myself, questioning my existence. What have I created? It’s not a question of regret or satisfaction, it’s a question that follows; having done this, am I still satisfied continuing to do the same? What do I want next? What is my next challenge?

That I write is not in question. However, what I write about always changes. And so likewise, I will be until I am dead, but I need not be doing the same things.

Such a radical change in existence is daunting. To move from the home I’ve created. To move from the job in which I found a voice. To move from a room where there is light and identifiable shapes into a room that is dark and filled mostly with shadows.

It’s not a question of purpose. To treat purpose like some treasure to be found with or without a map is to take away ones own intrinsic value. I believe, for me, it is a matter of finding what is next. What will be. What may be, if I simply try.

It comes down to a simple act, however, a simple act becomes difficult when the opposite of actions have become habit. To not do becomes more comfortable than to do. To be a passive observer of ones life. To consume. To applaud the achievements of others while allowing that recurring monologue in my mind to run like a ticker tape around my mind, reminding me that there is more in me than I have allowed myself to express.

I must also recognize the place I am in. To be kind to myself. To understand that I am not a machine, not a creation built by man but made from natural acts and self-created. To think otherwise is to undermine existence itself. The pressure I may feel to determine a future, my future, is wholly my own.

I have placed that looming prospect of patience and radical change over my head. And so I must recognize that that is okay. That I am not at the summit but at the base of a journey I am willing myself to take. A journey all at once formidable and exhilarating.

I am at the beginning of an end. Or perhaps it is the very beginning of a new beginning. Whatever this phase, this time, this place. I am open to the idea and an idea is the most natural creation of man.

Eye, Leader, Raccoon

A short story incorporating three random words, written in 20 minutes.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Through the peep hole, all I could see was that big blue window into her soul. I smiled and knocked again. She opened the door but the chain kept the door open just a crack. Maybe she didn’t recognize me. Maybe I had the wrong house. Then her head peaked through the crack.

I smiled a little wider this time.

“Hi, it’s me.”

She only stared. Not saying anything. I could hear the sounds of a house full of living. Pots, pans, yelling kids, a TV.

“Is this a bad time.”

“What are you doing here?”

Now the words caught in my throat. I folded my hands behind my back and cleared the uncertainty welling up.

“Well, I wanted to be the first to tell you that I got that movie made. It was purchased and now there’s some director looking for actors and…well, I just wanted to tell you. You were always so supportive of that.”

She looked at me. Then closed the door. I heard something scratching and then the door opened all the way. She stepped onto the porch, shutting the door behind her. It took every ounce of social conditioning and domestication that had been thrown my way to not instantly through my arms around her shoulders and pull her head into my chest.

She crossed her arms slowly and then looked up at me.

“You couldn’t have called or texted?”

My cheeks flushed. I knew she could see that.

“I’m sorry, you’re right, this isn’t fair of me.”

“No, look, I think it’s great. That’s what you’ve always wanted. It sounds like you’re on your way to something great.”

I knew she was just extending a guilty hand. I looked around the yard and spotted chains and a lock on the lids of their trash cans.

“So you keep a pretty tight lid on your trash now, huh?”

“What?” She looked where my gaze held then laughed. That sweet laugh. “Oh, yes, well we have some pretty tenacious little bandits that dig around and spread it out every night if we don’t.”

She uncrossed her arms but took a half step backward.

“I’m sorry, again, I should have called, I just thought it would be cool for you to know when the trailers came out and stuff. You’d see them on TV and know who made the movie.”

She looked at me for what seemed like a full moon cycle. It was only a few seconds before she spoke but I could see that familiar glint, somewhere buried back behind her new life.

“Well, it’s just that, it’s hard to see…”

Another pause. I knew what she was going to say, something to the effect of it’s hard to see me but it wouldn’t work, it never worked. Despite what I thought to the contrary.

“Alright, well it sounds like you’re busy in there with the little ones. I just wanted you to know and now you do. It was great to see you.”

“It was great to see you too.”

I turned to go down the steps. She turned to go back inside.

I thought about the most memorable people in history. The presidents, kings, bishops, popes, captains, outlaws, revolutionaries and wondered how their greatness was shaped. I wondered if they didn’t have their own broken hearts and so turned the world into their anvils, beating it into the shapes that suited their desires.

As I got to the gate, she yelled out to me.

“Hey, I’m gonna see your movie the day it comes out.”

I smiled and thought about an empty theater playing my movie with only her big beautiful eyes to watch it.

Beast, River, Turbulent

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

It’s a gorgeous creature. I can see it from the burbling banks. I’m sitting behind a tree. The low leaves and uncut foliage provide enough cover for me, but not for… whatever I’m looking at.

The silky white skin pops out from the greens and browns of the forest. It approaches the water one step at a time, looking around with every gentle paw print.

Then the thunder clapped. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a flash of lightening. I didn’t flinch, my gaze fixed on the creature. I forgot about my hunger. I forgot I about my thirst. Maybe I just ignored my basic needs. The creature moved so elegantly on the other side of Sacramento. In between us the sound of rushing water. I was able to ignore that too.

I stubbed out my cigarette. The smoke would be a signal. The burning cherry a red eye in the middle of the forest. Looking through the scope, the creature looked around one more time before bending over to lap up the river water.

The creatures pause gave me a chance to look at it through the cross hairs of the scope. An elegant white skin with bright orange dots all over. Something I’ve never seen before.

Long arms that bent like a bulldogs. Legs that rippled with muscle. Hair that ran from it’s head down to where I imagined some sort of sexual organ. I was attracted but not sure what sort of creature I was looking at.

My knees shook from sitting for so long. The rifle dipped and I gripped it with a “Click.” The creature looked up, seemingly straight at me, through the scope and into whatever part of me people call the soul.

I was terrified to breathe. What I had considered a burbling brook a few minutes ago seemed now like a turbulent vortex. It started to rain.

The creature looked up to the sky and roared.

I watched, now with my rifle lowered. Across the banks, I realized it was twice as big as me. It pawed at the dirt, backing up a few paces and began to charge the river bank. Just before touching the water, it leapt.

It seemed to hang in the air for an hour. I stayed in my position with the rifle’s barrel digging into the dirt. I was too enamored with the creature.

Just before it landed in front of me and roared I thought how I would do everything to make sure the creature would exist, forever.

Right in front of me, the creature opened it’s mouth, revealing yellow piles of teeth. Sharp and dripping with saliva.

Before the beast took its bite, I wiped away a bit of saliva so I could watch. It grabbed my throat and shook. I didn’t put up a fight.

If I could nourish such a magnificent creature, then I was doing the lord’s work, as grandpa would say.

Vein, Ghost, Decoration

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

She tapped at median cubital vein, slapped at it. The skin turned red and eventually the vein bulged. Squeezing her wrist, she pushed the tiniest drop from her syringe. The blood she drew into the syringe, wrapped itself into the hero, grabbing it’s hands and pulling him into her body.

The sensation was of wallflowers. Becoming a part of the scenery, the background, a decoration that’s been hanging for so long it’s lost all meaning. A ghost viewing life but not able to live. She leaned back, her mouth open, her eyes only slits. The needle stayed in her vein.

This was what life was supposed to be like, this feeling. The feeling that kids have when their minds are not filled with worry. When everything is a surprise and the smallest pain feels the worst because there are no other comparisons. Their minds aren’t in control, only their hearts.

These were the sorts of Hallmark card thoughts that passed through her mind. The price of this feeling of what life should be like was to miss out on the life she otherwise knew. Her addiction was a dance with what ought to be and the ache of ruining what was.

Addictions, once progressing, have a limited shelf life. They lead always to change. Only to change. The battle is between who and what will be in control of that change. The what has the advantage because the who needs light to make moves and there is mostly darkness in a battle with addiction.

Once down and clear and back in the life she knew, that familiar ache rocked her back to a sitting position. She couldn’t know it now, but that ache was really feeling. Pain of losing a bit of life and feeling that loss immediately after each tiny death. Pain is what separates the decorations from main attractions, the ghosts from the living.

She remembered something, maybe from a tv show or movie, “to feel pain is to know you are alive.” So she pulled out the needle, tears in her eyes and gritting her teeth, knowing that she was still alive.

Bake, Defenestration, Plaza

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

“It’s one quarter for the defenestration, a dollar for fenestration and an extra two bucks to choose the vehicle.” I fingered the two dimes and nickel in my pocket, wondering if I was attractive enough to talk to the lady working the front desk of the “Crimes and Felonies Simulation Center” into letting me choose the vehicle with out the extra two clams.

I took a step back, looking through the window across the plaza at the “Misdemeanors and Minor Offenses Simulation Center,” tucked between the dollar store and the empty one forever hanging a lease sign. I could get more thrills at “Minor Offenses” but the quality, you can’t skimp on quality.

Slapping my three coins on the counter, I said, “I’ll get defenestrated today.” I grabbed some copper from the “take a penny, leave a penny” tray and said, “which vehicles can I select with this.”

Without changing her expression, or tone, she said, “Tell you what, I’ll run the simulation myself. Follow me, sir.”

We walked through the shop, I could hear screaming, thuds, cracks, shattering glass, grunts, wet gurgling and all the sounds a comfortable middle class boy like myself doesn’t often get to hear or experience outside of movies and video games.

We stepped outside to the back of the shop. Parked net to a dumpster was a Ford Taurus, somewhere from the early 90’s.

“Get in.” she said, already shutting the door behind her. I knew where this was going, she would tell me not to wear my seat belt, hit top speed and send me flying through the windshield, but she was hot so I ignored my brain.

She drove, her hands ten and two, no radio, stopping at every light, keeping two car lengths between the vehicles in front. Textbook safe driving. We pulled up to a bakery and she said, “get out.”

Together, we went into the shop. I smelled cinnamon, pastries and apple pie. It was like walking into grandma’s house on Christmas. “One croissant for me and whatever he’s having.” I looked at all the deliciousness on display and selected a cream-filled pastry, “That one.” I pointed.

With pastries in hand we got back in the car. I closed the door behind me and bit into my baked good. The outside was flaky and crumbled in my mouth. Then my tongue hit the warm cheesy filling and I closed my eyes.

My eyes were nailed shut with shards of glass. I felt warm liquid trickling down my head and neck. My face grated against the gravel leaving skin, muscle and tissue on the asphalt behind me as I slid forward. Like soft Gouda between the holes of a grater. My veins and arteries snapping and popping as I traveled forward. The blood vessels twisting and shriveling as they came in contact with the air.

I felt my legs and waist folding over the back of my head as my momentum carried me forward. My face, the sole of a 12-year-olds Vans as she skids her foot on the ground to slow her bike.

My back snapped. My shoulders popped out of socket. My face skin worn away, my skull chipping off and my teeth flying out like corks around the world on New Years Eve. My body stopped and everything was black.

The next voice I heard was gods.

“Thank you for choosing Crimes and Felonies Simulation Center for your real life experiences. Be sure to get out of your chair slowly as your mind may still be adjusting to reality. The light will fade up slowly and then it will be safe to exit.”

25 cents well spent.

Slippery, Provide, Flesh

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator
Story inspired from sketches by mapka_dgjargorn9

Back then dreams were loosely contained, if at all. The structure of nightmares were slippery and sometimes the subconscious came to life; what in the world of the woke were referred to as myths, legends, fables. These were the makings of story.

Sometimes, like a finger dipped in hot candle wax, flesh was wrapped around those things which drive men to create art; giving form to emotion and feeling.

In this dream walked a procession, four deep. They had come from the hill shaded by the Samanea Saman tree at its summit. They walked; the Cloaked Ruby leading her troupe, stretching and yawning at the sky.

The short but Groovy King of Clash and Bang staring at the Cloaked Ruby’s back.

Towering over the Groovy King was William I, King of Scots. He extended his hand which held the souls of all the picts. The energy of their vibrant spirits and blue bodies radiating around William I.

Snarling at the rear of the parade was the gentle Bovix, carnivorous, yes, but only of that dead meat provided by vanquished enemies.

They marched towards the entrance formed by two gnarled tree trunks. Deformed by the wizardry and witchcraft of so many practicing sorcerers passing by. The tree’s marked the entrance into the waking world, tethered by a tangled wire.

Flawsome, Hangry, Tertiary

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @ladychap84

31 flavors.

It doesn’t sound like that many flavors but when you wait behind “Laura-let-me-try-everything-while-sighing-and-tapping-the-glass-display” it feels like the 31 flavors are manifesting like some Lovecraftian adaptation of Jesus Christs’ feeding of the 5,000. A version where Jesus manifests all the food and then hordes it all for himself.

I think my metaphor is getting lost. I’m hangry. The lady is by no means any sort of savior, except for maybe saving the two of us behind her from getting ice cream within a reasonable time frame.

“Can I try the Rum-Raisin?”

Tiny spoon to mouth and then “Laura” sort of hums and moans at the same time like some sort of indecisive mating call where the suitors are the 31 flavors presented before her.

“I wonder what the coconut-lime tastes like? Can I try it?”

Of course the acne’d youth behind the counter was corporately indoctrinated to that American creed “the customer is always right.” Plus, she’s just killing time until she punches out–

–“Can I sample the chocolate chip mint and the pistachio as well?”

Obliged.

“How about the vanilla bean, how’s that?”

Obliged, and with a smile.

“Is this rocky road made with real marshmallows?”

I can’t take it anymore. I lost my cool in the ice cream shop.

“Hey lady, what does that mean with the marshmallows?”

She turned around. She had on a black t-shirt with an arrangement of gold letters that spelled some sort fo elementary school slang “Flawsome”.

“Excuse me?” she said.

From behind me the tertiary constituent in our sad procession towards frozen dairy spoke up.

“Di-Di-Di-Di-Di-Did he-he-he s-s-s-s-st-st-st-st-st-stutter?”

I stared at the lady, raised my thumb and slung it over my shoulder to emphasize his point.

“I’m selecting the flavors I would like. There are 31 flavors–“

“–Hurry up!” I interrupted her.

“Ye-yeah,” started the tertiary ice cream fan. “It’s no-no-not s-s-s-sophie’s ch-ch-ch-choice. Bi-bi-bi-bi-bi-bi-cunt!”

And I realized two things: One) the stutter line came from a guy who had a stutter and two) some people take their ice cream seriously.

Word, Square, Nice


3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320

words/phrase provided by @justninajo

In Cincinnati lived Samual Meeks. His old colleagues and friends used to call him “Smee”. Now the name felt detached from him, something of myth or legend, just another word that conjured up an old image.

He sat, sipping at his Irish coffee. Really, he had argued, it was the coffee of the working man. Each country had their slight variation on liquor and coffee. Caffeine to wake the body and whiskey to have a nice day, nothing spectacular, just a nice one.

Samuel read the newspaper, something he’d started to do after publishing his memoirs. The publicist he’d been assigned at Hukster & Simple’s Publishing told him he’d be asked about his thought on many topics, not just his book. The publicist said that would make him appear more approachable and position his persona for a much better second book launch.

So he made it a habit of scanning the news. He didn’t need to be an expert, “just care enough to look intelligent but not so much where you become a martyr. Media martyr’s don’t stay long in the public eye,” the publicist had said. He felt more like a square than someone intelligent.

The whiskey in his coffee began changing his mood. On page 6 or 7 of the paper, there was a short human interest piece about a man who claimed to have seen Peter Pan as an adult. The journalist covering the story made the angle more about an otherwise rational adult making an irrational claim. Samuel was curious about the claim itself, in the same way his intrigue was peaked when hearing about UFO or ghost sitings. He didn’t believe it but the possibility was always interesting.

What would make someone ruin their reputation and credibility by claiming to have seen a grown-up that was Peter Pan? That was crazier then Yeti’s or chupacabras.

Samuel finished his coffee, nearly half of it, before finished the article. He squeezed his eyes tight and stretched his throat, realizing how much “a little bit of whiskey” he had actually poured.

The man claiming to have seen Peter Pan was on his way to work at a construction job somewhere in the California Desert. He’d stopped at a McDonald’s for breakfast and said “Peter Pan grew up! He was taking handfuls of salt packets and shoving them in his pockets. He looked homeless.”

That was it. The journalist had not provided any context for which to allow the reader to decide if the man was making a reasonable claim or not.

What ere the man’s religious beliefs? Did he believe in Bigfoot? Had he also seen ghosts and/or UFO’s? A ‘No’ to these questions would make the claim more intriguing, thought Samuel.

Popcorn, Jar, Bounce

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

“Listen,” I told the cashier, “I need a tent but I’ve never been camping so I don’t know where to start.”

The cashier, who looked like he had just popped in to work at the Big 5 from a life of camping, stroked his beard while staring me up and down.

“Will you be camping alone or with friends and family?”

I cleared my throat and scratched my cheek. Just as I was about to say “alone”, Madonna’s Like a Virgin came on through the store speakers and I changed my answer.

“I’m a camping with friends.”

The man pulled a Mason jar full of water from below the counter and took a swig. His eyes bulged, his cheeks flushed red and he let out a puff of smoke before replying, “well, if you are camping alone, I recommend a pup tent.”

“Why’s it called a pup tent?”

He ignored my question and pulled a small brown sack out from the same place his jar had come from.

“This here’s a pup tent and I’ll give it to you for $25. That’s a steal kid.”

I looked at the sack, which looked like it had bounced around the back of a pick up truck full of ketchup, mustard, mayo, ranch dressing and BBQ sauce. That’s also what it smelled like.

“Do you have any other–” I began to say.

“No, thats it, the tents you see around are only for display.”

I glanced at the aisle marked CAMPING and saw boxes and boxes of tents.

CLANG! POP! BANG! POP!

I jumped.

The man stroked his beard and took another bug-eyed swig of his interesting water. Droplets rolled down his beard as he reached down and pulled up a camping stove.

“Popcorn?” he gestured with black fingernails. I could see dirt spidering through the cracks in his hands.

“No, thank you. Listen, could I speak to a manager?” I said looking around.

“Manager? Who do you think you’re talkin’ to little feller?”

“Oh, excuse me.” My face curled up unconsciously into disgust as he gently pressed big, damp wads of chewing tobacco into his left cheek, in between large handfuls of popcorn, which he maneuvered to his right side with his tongue.

Parallel, Adjust, Water

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

It was right there next to me, the entire time. I never realized it was there until it was gone. And not just the good stuff, but the bad as well, I realized it all.

I saw a kid kick the cane an older man was leaning on. The old man stumbled, did his best to catch himself but lost his balance and fell. That’s almost what it feels like, except the kid would have had to take a step further and snap the cane over her knee.

It’s like losing a leg. No, it’s not. That’s probably worse and better left to those who have that experience. But I can imagine that losing a leg is a lot like suddenly realizing your life was in parallel. Each walk was left, right, left, right, left. Now you’re left with right and have to find a way to adjust.

Another thing that’s confusing is all the racing your mind does in moments like these. It can’t stop, won’t stop thinking. It only takes a small crack for all the fissures to splinter off in all directions. Eventually consuming the mind with all sorts of nonsense that I think holds water.

It usually doesn’t, the thoughts usually don’t. The simplest answer is usually indeed true. But something about us, something about me is still drawn to conflict, still finds its way to war. What they call that necessary evil. Would it be necessary if there were evil? Well how do you get rid of evil?

And that’s what I mean, my mind need only focus on my immediate, personal problem but it wants to find the underlying issue. That single unifying, unavoidable trait in humans that causes pain. What theists call sin and atheists call human nature. Beyond all of their bloviating over “ifs” and “whens” and “proof” there is still our existence. There is still us, our experience.

I think therefore I am tortured.

And again, I’m wandering away from the practical, wandering away from solutions and diving deep, deep into that hole of self.

It’s a bottomless pit, self, a never-ending chasm of self-doubt, self-loathing, self-harm, self-pity, self-denial, me, me, me, I, I, I.

It’s a trap. When I stand parallel to myself and look in the mirror, I see a different man. Sometimes he’s more handsome than yesterday. Sometimes he’s uglier than yesterday. Self-esteem.

Back to the problem at hand, how does one trust when there is nothing concrete on which to rest trust. Reason for no reason.

Accept, Salt, Noiseless

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

Peter woke up. It had been raining and water was running down through his spot on the middle of the hill.

He heard birds chirping and could see some light peaking through a slit in the tarp. He knew it was about 6 AM because the sound of passing cars on the freeway was intermittent.

The clock ticking next to him, he never se to the correct time. The ticking sound was all he needed. He wasn’t sure why but he couldn’t sleep in a noiseless environment.

Peter grabbed his hat and bent to step out of the tent. His breath was visible in the air and he pulled his hunting cap down over his ears.

Peter walked under the freeway and up around to the other side. Following the road for about a mile until he came to a McDonalds.

Peter ordered from the dollar menu. While he waited, he filled his pockets with as many salt packets as he could before the manager chased him off.

Peter walked back to his tent. Before stepping inside, he held the bag in his teeth to free his hands for tearing open salt packets.

One packet at a time he sprinkled the salt in a circle around his tent. Satisfied, he took the bag from his mouth and stepped inside the tent.

Sitting back on his pile of rags, he started a small fire and opened up the McDonalds bag. Once again he threw everything in the middle of the burger out of the tent, keeping only the bread, which he toasted in his hands over the fire.

After having eaten, Peter pulled out a crumpled spiral bound notebook.

On the open page was a drawing of a flag, black with a skull and cross bones. Taking a pen from his pocket, Peter continued coloring in the black of the flag. As he did so, a shudder ran through his body, jolting the pen through one of the crossing bones.

Fire, Water, Plant

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

The scene was hazy, so I tried to determine which elements were present.

I looked down but could only see, well, I couldn’t see past my belly. I shifted my weight just enough to feel something solid.

Earth.

My lungs weren’t burning and I could feel that familiar habit of inhalation and exhalation. It was automatic. I couldn’t remember a thing but I was breathing. Air was present.

I looked down at my belly again, focusing on something dancing, a shadow bouncing around the rim of my umbilical cord. The shadow was orange and red.

I looked up and saw the source of the orange on my belly. I curled my hands around the cord protruding from my stomach and used it to pull myself toward the slit.

A deep red, orange, yellow wind brushed past my face.

I started to panic as the safety of my darkness was slowly eaten away by the colors.

Now I could see greens and browns leaping out behind the reds, oranges and yellows. I tried to retreat to the safety of the darkness but a weight pressed down on my existence. An apocalypse of my cocoon.

My hands suddenly forced to my sides my nose smashed against the walls of my home. My head bubbling in different directions.

Suddenly my being floated and my world of black exploded into a million pieces of light and color. I floated, my lungs burning. My eyes squeezed tight but the light still stabbing through.

The force accelerated my floating and I burst into an alien atmosphere. My face and body melting, my hands tried to curl around the cord at my belly button but nothing was left.

In shock my mouth sent a scream and all my senses came to life.

I was born.

Yes, No, Maybe

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @ladychap84

And those are my only choices?

Yes.

I can only agree or decline, correct?

No.

Oh yea, I can say maybe but that doesn’t really mean anything. Which reminds me, why do we say maybe not? Isn’t maybe both the possibility of something and nothing all at once? So maybe is possibility, yes is the affirmative and no is denunciation.

No.

Too simplistic?

Maybe.

Maybe?

Maybe.

So the maybe is both yes and no. Some may be satisfied with my answers above and some may not but did everyone understand? Maybe. I get it.

Yes.

This all seems a bit binary, or I suppose tri-nary, if that is a thing.

Maybe.

Exactly.

Yes.

So I can only answer three ways.

Yes.

Yes is not no and no is not yes and both are maybe. So I’m always in a state of maybe. Maybe is Schrodinger’s cat.

Maybe.

Maybe is the moment between having asked a question and having an answer. And if that answer were also maybe, then maybe would be like standing in between two large mirrors, trying to peer past your own reflection to see the something, but only only staring into possibility, the maybe.

Maybe.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes to maybe?

Yes.

No.

Yes.

No.

Yes.

Maybe.

Yes.

Yes.

Maybe.

So yes to no and maybe but not yes to yes, is that because the answer is both possibility and definition?

Maybe.

So you mean to say it’s more than that?

Yes.

So you’re maybe has a meaning beyond the question asked. In order to become a yes or no, other questions must poke and prod the maybe into a definite yes or no shape.

Maybe.

Maybe, you say maybe because I am close to the true answer but not close enough to a yes or a no.

Yes.

Oh my god, I am something brilliant.

No.

Am I yes?

Yes.

Am I no?

Yes.

Am I maybe?

Yes.

I am?

Yes.

Remake, Iron, Easy

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

At first it annoyed Henry. All the reports of micro aggressions that were making their way into the news cycle. Little things like a man or woman assuming the boss or doctor being referred to in conversation was a male. Or things like internet celebrities making videos of themselves destroying property and stealing while critics praised their “courage to take comedy to the next level.”

Frankly, Henry had no clue what a micro aggression really was but like a pressure cooker, we decided to let out a puff of steam once in a while so as not to blow up one day.

He started at the movie theater. The film was a remake of a movie that had already been made and remade five times.

During the movie, Henry would shout things out:

“Bullshit.”

“Come on, that’s ridiculous.”

“Why not film a turd in the toilet, it would be cheaper and more original than this crap.”

That’s as far as he got. The ushers escorted him out but in a sense, Henry fell liberated, a little steam had puffed out.

When he arrived home, the mailbox was stuffed with what to Henry amounted to a big wad of garbage. So, he kicked the mailbox off its post and threw it into the garbage, where he felt the whole thing belonged.

After a couple of days, he received a notice from the United States Postal Service stating that he would need to put up a mailbox or else the mail would no longer be delivered to him.

Perfect, Henry thought. It was easier than I imagined. Then he tossed the USPS notice in the garbage as well.

Then it was his cell phone. He stepped inside his house and heard his phone ringing, without looking to see who was calling, Henry threw the phone in the trashcan outside.

Henry began looking through all of his possessions, realizing that they annoyed rather than brought him joy. He deflated his basketball and football throwing them away. He snapped his golf clubs over his knees and threw them away. He did keep his 5-iron because he liked to hit golf balls at the top of the hill overlooking the freeway. Which, he decided, is exactly what he would do after his material purge.

After the golf session, about 15 minutes of screeching tires, broken glass and honking cars, he drove down to the nicest restaurant in town.

Upon arrival, he waited for a table, noticing the sign that said “no shirt, no shoes, no service.” After being seated, ordering and eating, he removed his shirt and his shoes. When the waiter came by again, he ordered dessert and got away with it.

Henry learned that if you’re already in the restaurant, you can break the rules, not a moment before.

Knowledge, Belief, Motivation

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by Dad

Around the ages of 11-13, you receive a beach ball. The ball is fully inflated and you’re instructed to keep the ball in the air while you do all the other things necessary during your day.

When brushing your teeth, you keep hitting the ball in the air. When eating, studying, working, playing, sitting, driving, ordering, shopping, running, walking, waiting, rushing, etc. You keep the ball in the air.

You’re told that the ball is to remind you that you are not in control and that you must rely on an unseen power. They tell you this because then they tell you it’s okay if you drop the ball as long as you pick it up again. That the most motivation they give you, that if you drop it, as long as you pick it up again, you’ll be fine.

You do your best to keep the ball in the air. You drop it a few times while doing your hygiene routine but pretty soon it becomes second nature to keep the beach ball in the air.

The only time the keeping up becomes a problem is when you study. Your mind focuses deeply on the books you’re reading and for those moments you completely forget about the ball and everything said about it. Then you close the book, see the ball and pick it right back up again, tossing it into the air and keeping it up.

Pretty soon you start to think deeply outside of the books. You find yourself detaching the symbolism of the ball from the action you’re observing. You realize it’s becoming a nuisance, maybe even an unnecessary distraction. But you keep it up because they told you all sorts of things to scare you: “Without that constant reminder that you are nothing without the unseen power, you’ll shrivel up and die.”

Then you become angry, realizing that many people do not keep beach balls in the air and they do not look shriveled in the slightest. In fact, they seem more capable of engaging with and participating in the world around them.

You walk up to one of them and ask, “What happened to your beach ball?”

They say, “I dropped it a long time ago and never picked it up again.”

“Why?” You ask.

“I found that when I focused on what I knew, the world became less abstract. I found that the beach ball had really become a reminder that I don’t know as opposed to what it was intended to be, a reminder that an unseen is in control.”

You think, then ask, “So how do you answer those questions the beach ball answers?”

“I don’t. I’ve found that one of the phrases rarely stated confidently is ‘I don’t know’ yet when it is given as an answer, I feel closer to others than any sort of beach ball brotherhood because it reaffirms that we all don’t know, together.”

Imbricate, Pongee, Zucchetto

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by Dad

In the museum I was mostly bored save for a few minor details that caught my attention. Supposedly, at one time there were these organizations, run mostly like clubs with memberships, that had the benefit of being tax exempt. Religious organizations.

Each one claimed to be different but after millions of years of doubt, questioning, corruption, and frivolous rules, the obvious simply became too obvious to ignore.

There was no catastrophic event, it was only a “last straw” sort of situation.

Now I was passing an exhibit that was part of the Catholic section (one of the largest section of the museum). The guide pointed at an old pink colored hat, just large enough to fit on the back of a skull, and said “Notice the pongee on this Zucchetto. Pongee the Chinese silk fabric on a cap traditionally worn by Catholic clergy. Quite the contrast of cultures and beliefs in one little cap.”

Indeed, the irony was right in front of their faces (or on their heads) the entire time.

We passed a display with all sorts of symbols. The Christian cross was pointed out as another symbol of irony; a torture device used by the Roman Empire became the symbol of a supposedly peaceful belief system.

The Jewish star, a symbol of the merging of heaven and earth, or to others, the merging of male and female. It turns out a symbol of tangled confusion. Most, if not all the symbols had more than one meaning, which, the tour guide pointed out, should have been another clue into the ambiguous nature of religious truths, if it could be called natural.

We passed by books that had been called holy but were now simply considered old and outdated.

We passed miniature cathedrals, temples, churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. All destroyed now and replaced with museums, art installations, libraries or public parks.

When the tour ended, I walked back to the section with miniature versions of the once erected places of worship. They must have been truly magnificent works of architecture and they were inspired by awe, wonder and a deep reverence for something they believed to be as real as the stones, wood and stained glass used to build them.

I stared at one rooftop in particular, the plaque read “This rooftop was built to mimic the imbrication often found in nature. Notice the uneven staggering of tiles, not like a snake or fish but more like that of a pine cone or blossomed flower.”

What was it all about? Who was it really for?

Exciting, Chocolate, Clock

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @ladychap84

I can feel that bubble welling up in my chest. No, it’s not a literal bubble it’s that feeling of pressure that rises up and sometimes forces your cheeks into a smile or occasionally causes you to shake. when you’re about to get something you’ve been wanting for a long time. The anticipation of receiving that thing you’ve wanted for a while.

I sat on the edge of the check-up bed, my bare ass sticking to the thin paper they pull over the top to stop cross-contamination. I could feel the paper sticking in my crack and start to curl up my thighs. This part was not exciting.

I was waiting for the news about my cancer. The nurses and doctors had been treating me like I beat it. They were slapping my back and saying things like ” I shouldn’t be saying anything like this but I’m 90% sure you’ll be cancer free. Let’s just wait for the tests.”

That was the excitement. Now I was staring at the clock, begging its hands to speed up. I needed to know.

I heard a soft knock on the door and the doctor came in. He didn’t look like a man about to tell another man that they were cancer free. In fact, the doctor looked the opposite.

He came over next to me and said, “Sam, I’m sorry but I spoke too soon. Your tests came back positive and the cancer has spread.”

I could only muster an “oh.”

“I’m afraid you only have another two or three months to live.”

I looked up at the clock, the hands now looked like they were zipping around its face. I wanted everything to stop for a minute so I could wrap my head around it all.

“Can I put my pants back on?” I asked, not really waiting for his reply.

The doctor was talking but I wasn’t listening as I walked out. I still had on the gown over my pants. Passing the reception desk, I reached into the bowl of mini-candy bars.

“Sir,” said the lady at the desk, “we ask that you only take one at a time. We want everyone to have the opportunity to get some.”

“One at a time.” I grunted, then stopped and pulled out a mini-mars bar and stuck it in my mouth. I reached into the bowl and pulled out a mini-reeses pieces. In between chewing the mars bar, I stuck the Reeses in my mouth.

One at a time, as per the lady’s instructions, I unwrapped and ate chocolate covered candy bars, until they were all gone.

It was too much. I started to gag. The lady pulled a trashcan from under her desk and gave it to me. I threw up all the chocolate, a lot of it still intact.

I wondered if it was my gluttony or my cancer that made me sick but then I thought, with two or three months to live is that really what I’m going to think about?