691 Words Plus A Sentence.

I’m uncertain as to whether I am understanding, and as a result, responding accordingly to a recent Daily Post prompt. But in all honesty, they never pay me any attention over there anyway. So I suppose that it doesn’t matter if I’m spot-on, or off-target to the point of looking much like Mr. Magoo shooting a potato gun backwards into a wind tunnel.

Yeah, you’re trying to envision that now, aren’t ya?

I DO however, know that I’m well within stated regs in regards to Master Class 2013, and I’m also certain that the Professor pays attention to me over there. So much so, that it behooves me to regularly ensure that all my “i’s” are crossed and my “t’s” dotted, before publishing.

Having now done so, following is my response to both prompts. As always, please play along, and also as always, I hope you enjoy!

Copyright: Robert Hunt

Copyright: Robert Hunt

It was only a duck pond, at the back of the farm.

But it hadn’t always been that way, no. It had started its life as a crater; blown out of the earth from a shell that had hoped to slam itself noisily into the building that actually stood several hundred feet from where the missile eventually took root instead.

As these things go, the crater was quickly made useful as it filled with soldiers, huddled together in a cold, wet, quivering mass; all in the hopes that their proximity to each other, combined with their quasi-concealment, would somehow prevent them from taking similar shots – from much smaller, yet equally deadly shells – to their own bodies.

As the scout furtively raised his head over the brim to see if they were alone, the round that blasted arrogantly through his skull quickly provided both him and his comrades with dramatic evidence of the answer that they were hoping to not receive.

Leonard wanted to vomit as Scout’s blood and brain sprayed across the pit, covering the other soldiers faces and mouths. But he found that he’d no more substance to expel, and even less energy required to carry through with the exercise anyway. In fact, he’d done so so often, that Leonard could honestly not see where he should ever need to vomit another day in his entire life, once he got out of this unholy mess.

If he got out of this unholy mess.

“Martin…”

“Yes Lenny?”

“Do you… well, do you ever wish that it was over?”

“The war? Of course I do, you dolt!”

“No, no. Not the war, Marty. Everything.”

“Everything? You mean like, the world, the universe, time itself? What are you doing mate? Going all philosophical, at the very moment Jerry is trying to blow our fool heads off?”

“Well, we might not have any other time to do so, you see…”

“Blimey! We’re trying to get our arses out of here! Not start a debate with the High Lord Above and His Boy over the meaning of life. The ‘meaning of life…’ there is no meaning to it at all, if we can’t get out of here with it still in our pockets!”

Leonard knew that his chum was right of course, and as the clamor of explosions protested closely overhead, he realized once again how true it was, that the next serving of splashing brains could be his to provide, if he found himself unable to get his head out of the damned clouds.

But still. How he wished that it were all over. Over and done, and everyone assigned to their new and eternal dwelling places. Of course, there was still that certain fear that his would be the dwelling place less desired. But war had an odd way of making a man fear hell less than heaven, as it is common to fear the thing you don’t know, over the thing you do.

Leonard’s reflective fog dissipated abruptly as Marty roughly jostled his shoulder while shouting, “Oi! Time to go laddy!”

Taking a fools gamble on a sudden lull in the general chaos, the band of men rose haphazardly from the shell-blown trench, only to be met by an unexpected and fresh swarm of projectiles, buzzing through them in a newly formed river of red, like a metallic wind hell-bent on creating of itself a tornado. Leonard wasn’t the first to fall, but by the time the round that would pierce him did, he’d seen enough of his comrades crumble as to make him aware that this very day he could well be seeing the High Lord Above’s Boy in person. As he lay in the bottom of the crater, his blood pumping ever efficiently through the two new gaping holes torn through his neck, he murkily realized that he had received his wish after all. If nothing else, it really was all over now. Just the Reckoning left, he reckoned, and then he could call it a day forever more. As the blood continued to burble out, he inexplicably smelt the pungent odor of pond water permeating his dying nostrils, while swearing to himself that he could hear the faint murmur of approaching ducks…

•••

From Master Class: “Tara of Thin Spiral Notebook… was asked (some time ago, honestly) to choose the assignment for the next class. I gave her no specific instructions, and she chose…” from Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean At The End Of The Lane.”

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My Prayer…

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“Please.”

The single hardest, single-syllable word I ever had to say.

“Please.”

Forcing it through clenched teeth. Reluctantly, quietly. Earnestly.

Please.

Alone. No other words allowed. No other thoughts entertained.

“Please.”

Just one word to net it all. One word to express the whole ocean of pain, sorrow, regret and yearning. One word only, in asking for intervention.

“Pleeeeaase…”

The breath catches. The tears break. Tumbling in an ever-increasing stream, as their weight pulls my body bluntly face-first to the floor.

“Please. Please, please, please, please…”

Bits of un-chewed food spit forth as I moan through my petition, increasingly acute.

“(Please, please, please, please, please, please…)”

Unable to breathe, the words are now uttered only in my mind, as the rest of my body heaves itself to release deep sobs, long buried by a soul afraid of it’s own life. It’s own potential. It’s own beauty.

Please.

There is no answer. There never is. But the sobbing slowly subsides, and The Darkness reluctantly retreats.

“Please.”

An unforeseen feeling of warmth, of comfort even, comes over me. A quiet yet strong voice – maybe of my own making, or maybe His – whispers to me, “Trust Me to handle this, and we’ll make it through. Trust Me to be in control, and I will walk you Home.”

Realizing it my choice to make, I think a moment, then utter,

“Please.”

This post is being brought to you by both a recounting of Real Life experiences, and by the WordPress Daily Prompt’s question of “Is it easy for you to ask for help when you need it, or do you prefer to rely only on yourself?” I would hope that in this case, the answer is clear.

Sermons…

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I figured you could all use a break from mine for a change, and instead simply take some time to enjoy a little ditty Bobby Darin didn’t make famous, way back when he first recorded it.

Kick it, B.D…

•••

Today’s impromptu post is brought to you by Daily Prompt‘s call for an Opposite Day. So against my usual grain, I posted impromptu-ishly, I refrained from any and all pontification or “fiction,” and I posted not (1), but (2) pictures of me. Here’s the second:

20130505_133134Happy Sunday!

501 Words Plus A Sentence… the Daily Prompt edition

I am using a recent Daily Prompt Challenge to hopefully introduce you to a wonderful exercise I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with, in Master Class 2013. I decided to do so, simply because the Prompt asked us to do what Master Class does every week. Take a random sentence from a piece of literature (or sometimes music), and wrap a post around it.  I hope you come play along with both, and as always, your feedback is appreciated!

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Rossamund was a boy with a girl’s name.

And no, not anything like “Sue.” Because “Sue” would’ve been too easy. “Sue” would’ve had the children laughing at Rossamund over a staid old Johnny Cash song, though none of them would’ve realized it in the first.

A name like “Sue” would have had them delighting, similar to the way that they did over the girl who decided to call herself “Johnny.” And she did so, only after she’d been liberated by the character in the Waterboys song of the same name. A character that could not be laughed at, as she had made a decision, a conscious choice – versus being simply thrown under some linguistic bus.

So they called him “Rossa,” the stupid kids, they did. Not because they were sure they could, but simply because it sounded hateful and racist enough. And they pulled on his every heart string and physical attribute, to make him aware of their hatred of him.

A hatred, mind you, that grew out of a name. Simply a name, misplaced. A name that, had it been assigned to a person with the correct bits, wouldn’t have been an issue at all.

Johnny felt for him, she always had, even before she had reborn herself. But Rossa – well, Rossamund – was having none of her “pity.” To him, it was all a waste. A sham. To him, all she could offer was a little piece of inconsequential peace, in a vast ocean of hate and ignorance.

No, for him, it wouldn’t be all right until he saw his name in lights. Not until he was standing proudly atop of – well – atop of whatever it is that is the highest thing you can stick on a Goddamned stage. Standing upon it, and dazzling his audience with the greatest magic ever known. Or the most heartbreaking song. Or the funniest joke, or whatever. He didn’t really give a good flip HOW he was going to achieve his fame, that Rossamund. Not really. Not as long as his name, HIS name – “MR. Rossamund Laura” – was the one that was up there in the marquee, and drawing in crowds like head lice to a Bee Gees buffet.

Of course poor Rossa – well – Rossamund, never was quite able to come to grips with the fact that mere dreams weren’t the same thing as effort, and cockiness wasn’t nearly the same thing as confidence. And talent? Well, you sorta had to have some – if even just a bit – in order to draw in them crowds. As a result, he would never see his name in lights. Well, that’s not entirely true. He did get to see at least a bit, after Johnny had asked to borrow a slice of it to help aid her in her career, seeing as she felt that “ MZ. Johnny Rossamund” had just about the perfect ring to it. And while the name alone didn’t bring in the boys, the skills she possessed, whether it be on the pole or the lap – well  – it sure as hell kept them there, at least.

•••

Professor SAM asked Doodle to choose the prompt for today, from D.M. Cornish’s Monster Blood Tattoo Book 1: Founding

Forever?

The one thing they never told me, see, was that living forever is NOT the same thing as being forever young.

Yeah, that vampire-esque fairy tale of eternal youth and adventure, well it’s all crap. You may *live* forever, but that doesn’t stop you from aging. No. And you’ll be there for the final curtain, all well and good. But you’ll be a bag of bones by then, unable to even applaud, as He makes every last actor on the stage take their bows.

Shoulda read the fine print on that one, I suppose. Stupid-ass demons snowed me, man.

So yeah, now I’m stuck here. In the shadows. Forever. Oh, I know everything, and I could change the world with all the knowledge I’ve got. Stuff that multiple lifetimes of experience have taught me. But instead, I’m a monster. A freak. A side-show gem. I sound like a crazed old man fresh outta meds, and look even worse. Like hell. I think there was a reason Jesus checked out at 33 – it’s cuz people just don’t trust the elderly, not even a lick.

And that’s what I’m gonna be. Forever.

I know that at some point my body will break. Just like all the rest. Hell, I saw my love die in the same way – I saw my Love die! Do you get that? Do you understand the pain of watching her disintegrate before me? Soon, my body will, well, it’s also gonna crumble under its own weight; just like hers did. But I’ll be present and accounted for, for every last snap, yes sir. And I’ll be breathing afterwards still.

Stupid-ass demons snowed me. I shoulda read the fine print.

So I’m writing this down, see? Just for you. Just in case. Should ever a pretty little thing come along and ask you if you want eternal life, you just look her straight in her devilish fairy tale eyes, and you tell that bitch, “Hell no! Who wants to live forever?”

You tell her that, see? You tell her, and then you just keep on walking. You keep right on walking, and you die happy. For me.OK?

•••

This special “Sunday edition”post is brought to you by the good folks over at Daily Prompt, and by my occasional desire to just “check out.”

Return To Innocence

It was late Spring when the sky first turned gray. An ominous, oppressive gray, with just a smattering of pockets of light. As the months trudged on, every last one of them was slowly blotted out, and by the true beginning of summer, Michael could see only charcoal blackness, sooty and billowesque, whenever he dared to look upward.

The storm never broke, though for months now it had threatened to. The sheets of rain, filled out in triplicate, that Michael so longed to receive in the hopes of conducting the storm through to its end, thus returning the blue sky to his possession, never came. And though the bleak grayness was miles above his head, it pressed down upon his shoulders as if it were a living thing. Softly, Michael closed his eyes, imagining the gate once more.

It was a gate he’d never actually seen before, but one he knew existed. His love had told him about it, a gate of heavy metal, intricately woven and painted with a thick coat of black, the kind of paint that was always shiny, though seldom showed finger prints. It was the gate that entered you into the park, the park that hosted all the loves of the world, and all the lovers too. A place that existed only in the mind and, to those who knew how, the soul as well. Michael wished that his own soul would eventually possess such knowledge, but until then, his imagination was put to task, and performed the bulk of the work in creating this secret place within.

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She was there already of course, puffy pink cotton candy in hand, offering it to him as if she were a child. For in this place, that is exactly what you are. Love cannot be trusted to the adult mind, for it is muddied by selfishness, desire, and ego. Only the child can properly appreciate the finer art of simply loving the person without question or motivation, because of who they are, versus what they can provide you, or what they have done, or what they have failed to do just yet.

Michael smiled to the real world, as his imaginary fingertips brushed against and gently pulled upon the offered treat. Never greedy, he took more than his share this time and, as was his normal habit, tightly rolled it up into a hard sugary rock, before placing it on his tongue. He smiled again, as he felt the sweetness melting in his mouth and slowly dribbling down his throat. She laughed in such a way as to almost make him open his eyes, thus destroying the illusion. At the last moment he caught himself however, instead looking at her with his mind’s eye before asking, “What? Why do you laugh, lover?” Giggling again, she replied, “Why not? To see you eat cotton candy is like watching a man with one arm build a bridge. Have you ever just enjoyed something, without first having to man-handle and control it into an almost totally different existence? Have you ever let be, just be?” Michael frowned slighty, as his immediate reaction was one of hurt. Hurt over the idea that he was already going well out of his way to meet her here in the park he had so diligently created mentally, only to find her “critiquing” something else altogether, instead of complimenting him for his efforts. But while all this played out in his head, in a melee of hurt and bruised ego, his mental voice to her said only, “why do you ask? Was I not enjoying the candy correctly?”

“Lover, you were,” she shook her head enthusiastically, “but only after you had made it into your own image. Only after you had hardened it, squashed the life out of it, made it ‘other’ than what it was intended to be. Darling, the candy was supposed to be light and fluffy, yet you felt for some reason that that was not good enough. Do you realize that by doing so continually throughout your life, you may still experience happiness, but miss out on Joy altogether? Why even here Michael, in this park, what do you see?” “I see banks and banks of greenery and ferns,” Michael retorted, “beautiful and lush and dew-kissed, all surrounded by big, bold and resolute sunflowers.” He said it cautiously, wondering if he had come to the correct conclusion.

Sensing this, her response was measured. “Hmmm, Michael, I really wish you would learn to come here by way of your soul, instead of through your imagination. You did not come up with an incorrect conclusion, lover, but you did create a place that is a mere shadow of the realness that surrounds us. Dear, all that you saw is here, but this is the park that hosts all the loves of the world, and all the lovers too. As such, it is awash with every type and sort of plant, draped with every color of flower. It is carpeted with not only grass, but earthen path and waterway too. Michael, much like Love is, this place has everything, and all of it is free.”

Crestfallen over not being able to see, and after trying so hard, Michael began to slowly open his real eyes, only to stop as he felt her hand tap gently upon his shoulder. The touch was light yet comforting, and it was only in his feeling it that he remembered how he hadn’t felt the pressure of the gray since he had entered here.  She whispered softly, “Michael, I know you are leaving me now. I said something wrong maybe, or your ego is still too bruised to be here with me wholly. Regardless of why, I am sorry. Sorry for you, and for us. Dear, please try to be here in your soul. Please try to find this place through Joy, instead of happiness or want. I’ll be waiting for you here when you do. Until then, here is a kiss…”

A kiss that was never realized, as it was then that Michael’s boss, spying that he had another “goddammed lazy-lack sleeper” on his hands, thwacked Michael soundly back to reality, via the tried and true rolled up newspaper continually found in his hand. “Now git back ta work, ya turd!” was all the encouragement Michael received from him, as his boss stomped back to his office for a well-deserved nap himself.  Listening to him clump noisily off, thwacking others occasionally along the way, Michael slowly rubbed the back of his head where the paper still stung, wondering to himself just which of the two places it was, in which “reality” really existed.

•••

Bloggers note: Posted in response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt on Kindness, and resulting wholly from a dear friend offering me a bite of cotton candy, I wonder if I should flesh this out more, or leave it as a stand-alone piece. As always, your thoughts and critiques are requested… and no newspaper thwacks will result from sharing your honest opinion. Promise!

Happily ever after, in heels.

Listen, we deserved the break. Amongst all the issues we’re embroiled with currently, I felt we had earned just a little breather. So this Sunday last, C and myself got all gussied up (apparently a dying art, these days) before going downtown to catch the final local performance of “Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert.”

Click to learn more...

Click to learn more…

We had a blast, and I dare say that I never wanted it to end. Planning on making an evening of it, we were only slightly miffed when we discovered that our favorite late night restaurant is most decidedly not very “late night open” when it comes to Sunday. Catching the Wendy’s drive-through window instead, we settled onto the couch for a late night snack, before hitting the sack. As is her way, C went off to bed in order to sleep. As is my way, I went off to bed in the hopes that we would be doing any number of things, but sleep.

As is her way, C won out in the end.

I woke the next morning feeling odd, out of sorts, almost as if something were amiss. The songs from the musical played over and over on my mental radio, as I performed the tasks I daily perform to almost get paid, but they provided me with no real joy – nothing close to what I felt the night before. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I was feeling, until the very second that the Daily Post’s prompt came stumbling across my email. Their prompt for the day punched me square in the gut, when they asked “Are you living happily ever after?” A question that the very core of my being answered immediately – and almost violently – with a “No. No I am not living happily ever after. No I am not even close to that. What in the hell is wrong with me?”

A valid question I think, to end an almost sinful assertion. I mean, what right do I have to not be living happily ever after? Just what more do I expect needs to be in place for this happiness to finally hit?

Well, I believe the problem is two-fold. First, I feel that “happily ever after,” is a bit of a cop out. One devised by early story tellers who just wanted to be done with the whole thing already, and no questions being asked, thank you very much. Secondly, I believe that much like the characters in my last Mash-up prompt, I sometimes (read: way too often) spend too much energy chasing a happiness that I think I deserve, instead of simply relishing in the Joy already bestowed upon me.

Listen, catching a good show can be fun, but one should never get so dragged into it (no pun intended) as to start to wish that that was what their real life was like. Real life isn’t that easy or free. Real life doesn’t involve people randomly breaking out into song. But that doesn’t mean that real life shouldn’t be appreciated or isn’t worthwhile. Indeed, real life is the only life to be lived, regardless of how many of us never do.

The Daily Prompt also asked us to explain how we would go about changing ourselves so that “happily ever after” could be obtainable. To that, I’ve no answer but one: I’m going to just get over myself. I’m going to stop being so damned dramatic, stop wishing for things I don’t have, start enjoying the blessings I do have, and realize every day that real life ain’t easy, but it’s worth it regardless.

That, and I’m also going to give this randomly breaking out into song thing a go as well. You may want to cover your ears.