Time Marches On / There’s More to Life Than Not Dying

Thank God for the marching on of time. And I’m going to thank God here because you know what I don’t give a damn. Fuck it. I can thank whoever I want.

But let’s try to stay on topic, if you don’t mind.

Yeah man, I’m feeling way better today! Even though a few minutes ago I thought I was going to explode with frustration over this stupid computer error. And even though I’m not feeling like a million bucks. I feel better than yesterday, and what did I really do?

Nothing.

Time heals all wounds. Soon enough we’ll all be dead.

And that’s another thing. I like the quote about “death is not the province of the living” or something like that, but I started thinking a lot about this other thing where I say “there’s more to life than not dying.”

I’m pretty cautious I guess, always expecting some shit to go down. I guess I can keep expecting shit without getting all worried about it. I think that’s what happens when I get scared because I’m in that flow state and time is flying by. I’m scared that I’ll be dead soon, but you know what, fuck it there’s more to life than not dying.

Yep my wife and I are getting along famously. We’re about to go out for drinks right now. Then we’re going to come home and eat risotto. I even bought some beer for later, fuck it! And yesterday I was thinking, damn I shouldn’t drink so much. Mostly because I was feeling super guilty but also because I was embarrassed about how I was fawning over the singers at the concert. They were in the crowd and I was hunting them down being like, Damn! You are the greatest! All crazy like. Clearly drunk, I’m sure.

So I was embarrassed about that as I usually am when I black out. I guess I didn’t use to get embarrassed when I blacked out, back in 2010, but in that year I was blacking out every other night. So I’m drinking less now and sleeping less now and I guess that adds up to I have more time to judge my past actions and feel embarrassment about them. But you know, them singers probably didn’t give a fuck I was wasted, shit that’s what we’re there for. And I didn’t follow them home or anything, like I did that one time with that girl. Now that’s fucking embarrassing. And actually more than embarrassing. But that’s another story.

And so what if they did think I was an asshole? Is that ruining their lives right now? No! Fuck, and even if something I did did ruin their lives, is that really my fault? Aren’t we responsible for our own happiness?

Shit, maybe not! Maybe there are forces outside of our control directing our lives. Like the stars! Or reptiles. Anything to take the responsibility away. Make it stop! It burns!

It burns.

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Slipper Plan

Hey y’all I hope the weather is nice where ever you are.

I’ve got a new plan. It has to do with slippers. I’m still putting it together. It could be a while.

You know how everyone talks about flow? You enter a state of flow and the time just flies by and they also say the more time you spend in a state of flow the happier you are in general. That’s what I’ve heard.

Every time that starts to happen to me I stop and walk around the house and think of something more boring to do so that my life doesn’t fly by.

I think it has something to do with guilt.

This River’s Full of Lost Sharks

Have you ever realized that you have absolutely zero self control? Not you personally, I mean. I mean me, of course. I have no self control at all. God damn. A motherfucker can waste a day like Clint Eastwood in a field of scarecrows.

Hoo shit. I just woke up and had the day off and said fuck it, you know what I’ve never done before? Watch an episode of Smurfs. Well, that was the last day I could wake up and say that.

Yeah the only control I can exercise over myself is my environment. When I go to work at the restaurant, then I work like a three dollar hooker on a train to Chickasaw Falls on Boxing Day. I’m not lazy at all. But let me sit at home for five minutes and I say fuck it. I don’t even do things that I want to do, like watch movies, because I figure if I start the movie, then I’m stuck there for two hours, wasting time. So I waste time in fifteen minute increments because that way I can foster the illusion that I might start working at any time. It’s the same idea as a snooze button.

I just started playing this game called Clan Wars. It’s a bitch, because I just got an iPhone, and there are games on it. Or I mean, you can download games. I don’t know if ya’ll knew that, but it’s true. And the thing about me is I damn sure can’t be sitting around no game system. If I had an Xbox, I’d play that shit till they cut the electric off.

So now I’m playing this Clan Wars shit and the whole game is just waiting around for your shit to upgrade, but somehow I can waste a whole day watching the upload bars fill up.

Today I left the house right away and occupied this coffee shop for ten hours. I spent eight hours playing Clan Wars and two hours doing the shit I shoulda done last year. That’s the problem with iPhones, can’t escape that shit. I’ll probably never have any control over my environment ever again. Fuck it.

The First Paragraph of This Post is Mildly Interesting

What am I thinking about today? The tyranny of time and how to usurp the throne. Perhaps just get rid of all the clocks in the house. If only I didn’t have a job I could just do things whenever I wanted. Or perhaps have one clock with tape over the face of it set to the time that I need to go to work. Is there a way to get rid of the clock on the computer though? I don’t know, but I could set it to the wrong time. No I’d figure out the difference in time soon enough. Maybe just put a piece of tape over that part of the screen.

I’m always worried about how much time is passing and if I’m doing the right thing. If I could just forget about time I could do whatever I want without feeling guilty or whatever.

I was thinking about that for a while. Last night I got pretty drunk and spent some money to celebrate GF’s graduation. Last night I did not sleep well, or rather this morning I didn’t. I guess I went to bed at 2:30 and didn’t wake up at all until 8 or something and then I was in and out and uncomfortable and had really stupid dreams, like one where I was just searching in my bag for my shoes and I just couldn’t find them for what seemed like hours. And then another one with these weird fashionistas riding enormous unicycles down the street and smiling down into our cars and asking if we liked their clothes in a somehow menacing manner.

There are people everywhere sawing shit up and scrubbing shit down and making spring improvements so the street is filled with noise. It’s perfect out there except for that.

We saw these girls in a Volvo convertible waving to everyone and reveling in their lives and saying “Wooo!!!!” They were really annoying.

I want to read more novels.

I feel bad for staying inside when it’s nice out. Up to this point I have spent all day outside though. I got some iced coffee and a sandwich at Cutty’s. Then we ate them in the common.

Now I’m trying to think of something to think about.

I also dreamed that my brother worked at the 7-11.

Bread and Circuses

My brother is a conspiracy theorist. One of the things they like to talk about, conspiracy theorists I have known, is how the ubermen are trying to distract us from their strategies and plots and such by giving us what they like to call “bread and circuses.” This is from a Juvenal quote talking about Rome:

…Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses…

The quote is so widely known among true believers that “bread and circuses” is just thrown around without any reference to the first part of the quote. It just obviously means trivial things that shouldn’t be as important as civic duty and getting to the real bottom of our situation, the situation of humanity slowly being subjugated. Well it is taking a long time for these fuckers to subjugate us to any real purpose. What have these bastards gained as of yet? Power over an unruly bunch of weirdos who don’t pay tribute or even properly fear them? And how long have they been at it? Doesn’t seem like much fun.

Bread and circuses on the other hand, that seems like the real fun. They’re putting on these shows to distract us and we’re lapping it up, because who wouldn’t? I’m sure these Illuminati motherfuckers are pissed that no one is putting on circuses for them. I would be.

Shit what else is there to do but be entertained? I’m talking about a rich society, like the United States or Western Europe or China, places where you don’t have to worry about eating. Once humans got the whole eating thing figured out, well what else is there for a life to do? That’s the problem with life, if we think about it from an evolutionary standpoint. All life seems to want to perpetuate life. The way to do that is to live long enough to reproduce. The way to live a long time is to be good at getting something to eat.

Well once we figured out how to do that well of course we’re bored as shit and depressed. I’ve got food all over this house and I’m bored with all of it. I could go outside and eat a five course meal out of the nearest trash can. Mother fuckers ain’t got to strain the brain around here to eat. So you get entertainment. Something’s got to distract you from the fact that there’s nothing to do but wait for death.

At least I don’t believe in eternal life any more. That would be true hell. Can you imagine, billions of billions of years go by and you’re sitting around thinking god damn, well I guess I’ve done just about everything I can think of. Good thing I have as much time to do nothing as I started with. A trillion years later you’re like fuck it dude I wish I could just go to sleep and not wake up.

Life is just tiresome. That was the biggest thing that scared me when I was a Christian. I just would think about the fact that I would always be alive and it would scare the shit out of me. It’s not the idea of having to live every day, because you can just do that day to day and not think about it, it’s just the concept of eternity that scared me. Humans just lack the capacity to comprehend eternity at this point. My parents thought I was crazy for fearing eternal life. My sister told me that she just couldn’t comprehend dying, nothingness, so eternal life just made sense to her. But that’s only the opposite side of the same coin. Nothing and eternity are two concepts of which our brains have no experience.

But I guess if I had the perfect day, and I could just do that for eternity, it just wouldn’t occur to me that I was living forever. The perfect day would be something like…

My body is nineteen years old, but I know everything that an eighty year old knows. I don’t want to know what a 90 year old knows because that’s what made Odin hang himself. I wake up because the sun is so bright in the window I can’t sleep in any more. I go outside and it’s slightly chilly, with the promise of getting warmer soon, but not hot. You know that palpable sense of electricity, excitement that you sometimes get in the morning, of if you’re like me, you remember it from that one time when you were a kid.

I get in a convertible muscle car that’s just parked in the driveway and maybe my best friend is there, in the house somewhere. We both slept in our clothes because we had a perfect day yesterday and were too drunk to change. But that perfect day is just a memory, it never really happened, because tonight we’re not going to do that, we just talk about what happened and it was so funny and awesome.

And we drive to a basketball court and we play basketball all day and we win. And then we drive with a bunch of people to some restaurant or a diner and we eat. And then we go back and play ultimate frisbee somewhere and we really really win this time. And then we just sit down when it gets dark. And we start drinking right there and it’s so nice out that we just want to laugh and laugh and that’s what we do. And we drink and laugh and think about what we’re going to do tomorrow. And we talk about what we did last night, but we didn’t really do anything last night but this, but we have different memories about what we did so it doesn’t seem like we’re living the same perfect day every day, and we talk about those memories and what we plan to do, even though we’ll never have to do it. And then we fall asleep there on the grass and no bugs crawl on our face. And in the morning we wake up at home in exactly the same way and we do the same thing, but we don’t remember it that way.

I could live like that forever I guess, but obviously that’s cheating, since we would have no real notion of the passing of time, since time is a construct of memory (if not in most ways, definitely in some ways). Memory is the key to everything. To life and our experience of it and what we believe. It’s the foundation of life. Without memory there is no life. Without someone to talk about your shared memories with, or preferably a lot of people with diverse shared memories, life is dismal.

But anyway, back to the conspiracy theorists. I wish to hell the god damn Illuminati would get on their shit and really take fully over the whole world and just churn out seven hour long Mad Men episodes and give us food for free. They can have all the military command and legions and high civic offices or whatever the hell else they want, my soul, fuck it, just give me something to watch and something to eat.

Feeling Sorry for Myself

I’m in a weird place now. I didn’t want to start writing a post because I knew that when I did, time would start passing faster, and it’s almost time for me to leave for work. The new AirBnB guest is supposed to be here about the same time I have to leave for work, too. So I’m not really looking forward to either one of those activities, as usual, even though I don’t know what I’m doing that’s any better than that.

Last night I thought sure I was going to wake up and write something. I got everything in order and sat down to the computer at 10:30. By the time it was 11:30 I had opened up my word processor and I was ready to go. By 12:30 I had written two terrible paragraphs about nothing. So I got up and ate.

I’ve said before that the only times I feel good at home sometimes is when I’m eating something. More instant gratification. I did study for the LSAT for 30 minutes and that felt fine. Didn’t want to do it at first but it became fun by the end. Then I read some of Paul Krugman’s End This Depression Now! It’s interesting and I had to stop reading it because I knew time was really going to fly if I got too into it.

And it’s cold as a bitch in this whole house again. I figured I hadn’t turned on the heat up to whatever point it was, so no reason to do it now, with only so much time to go. So now I’m sitting at the desk with my jacket and my shoes and my hat on all ready to walk right out the door. I’ve been like this since more than an hour before I actually have to leave. I don’t know why. I guess I’m scared that I’ll get caught up in something and then won’t have time to get ready to leave or something. I’ll really be screwed if that dude shows up early.

Maybe I’m trying to force myself to write too much and I’m not really having much fun with it. So many things I have to do, or think I have to do, I don’t give myself any time to just not do anything, I guess. I don’t know. Same shit all the time. Maybe I’ll try to memorize some poetry while I’m at work or something. I don’t know. Count to ten in French a bunch. That should be helpful.

There where it is we don’t need the wall:

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

This morning it was bright outside. I had to take my jacket off as we walked to the train in the sun. The birds were chirping as I sat down to my computer in my house made gray by the curtains and the upholstery. And now I’ve moved to the office, with windows all around, and it’s gray outside now, too. And my feet are cold inside my shoes, still soaked with last night’s sweat.

I guess I’ll never talk to my best friend who went off to the Army again. We aren’t the kind of people who can be friends into true adulthood. My great Aunt died and my dad texted me: “Don’t know if you heard but Aunt Annie passed away. Looking forward to seeing you this weekend!” Weird. Last night I had a dream that I was drunk at my parents house and I wrote some kind of journal thing and saved it on a 3.5 inch floppy disk and my mom found it the next morning and was really upset as I helped her unload the groceries from her car. And I had stolen her bag of Domino sugar and cocaine had something to do with that.

Tomorrow I am working a double so that my coworker will cover my shift on Saturday so I can take a bus to Long Island and meet my mother there, and then she’ll drive us back to Delaware. I’ll be there until Tuesday.

I’ve been wanting to get drunk all day, or at least just have one whiskey and ginger, but I keep putting it off for good reasons, just like the heat. We are having wine class before work today, so maybe I can get enough, but no I already know how that story goes. And yesterday I drank a lot of coffee but it was either too much or not enough because it was not making me feel good. I wish I had a flask but I know I’ll never do that. I’m sure they would notice I was drunk by how happy I would be.

We are set to make 500 dollars from AirBnB for the month of May. So far no one has noticed anything and we’ve had four or five sets of guests come. We have a pretty full April, too. I guess we’ve made about 350 dollars including this guy coming today for March. So that’s good. We are going to need a lot of money for our Eurotrip. GF keeps thinking we should stay for longer. I don’t know, shit, people do it but they are rich or have no debts I don’t know. Damn sure can’t throw it all on the 3,000 dollar credit card I have with an interest rate of 22 percent and already 2,000 dollars used up on that bitch!

I guess I’m about the laziest person I know, in a way. I don’t know how to live without instant gratification all the time. I don’t know how to live with a bad feeling in my heart. I don’t know how to struggle through a day gracefully. I don’t know how everyone shows up to work and acts like they do.

For a while there, it seemed like I had some perspective. I was reading the news and history and seeing myself as part of a bigger picture, instead of just self-analyzing and obsessing with myself and all that. How can I get that back? Guess I should read the news and history again.

Ah well. There goes a half an hour. Better spent than the three hours before it anyway.

We Know Time

It was drizzling and mysterious at the beginning of our journey. I could see that it was all going to be one big saga of the mist. “Whooee!” yelled Dean. “Here we go!” And he hunched over the wheel and gunned her; he was back in his element, everybody could see that. We were all delighted, we all realized we were leaving confusion and nonsense behind and performing our one and noble function of the time, move.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Hell yeah, they knew time. And we know time. And I know I’ve got nine minutes until I really should start getting these V-Day preparations out of the way.

Yes these days really are passing quite strangely, what with this new way of perceiving them as transient, rather than “every morning a little birth, every night a little death,” which is a quote from somewhere I forget.

It is drizzling and mysterious in my head. One big saga of mist, it has been. But we’re all delighted, and the confusion and nonsense of the night before is behind us, and somewhere far ahead of us in the same sense, and all there is left to do is to move.

Time comes and time goes and everything really is strange and wild. The night comes but it is gone in the morning, only to come back again. It is nothing. It is physics. But anyhow it’s all vanished into so much soreness in the legs.

And so will pass the night ahead of us, since already it is behind us.

Buy the ticket, take the ride. As hideous as it is, I, too, have found it to be true.

To move, to move, to be in motion, that’s what time is, that’s how time goes, and that’s how we avoid time, and though we can never be friends, we can wave as we pass on the street.

My First Adult Writing Contest (The Post Where I Write My First Flash Fiction Story)

Well, I never gave much thought to this flash fiction business. Thought it was so much window dressing. Thought it was a bunch of malarky. I would have thought the same thing about all poetry if my English teachers hadn’t told me it was meaningful. And then poetry hit me like a smack in the face last year. And it was good. So, I read some of the winners of this contest and they were good. So now I will try to write a story in under 250 words and win the contest! I’ll save this as a draft in case there’s a rule about publishing your story beforehand.

I’m pretty sure I won’t win the contest at all, having never written a story like this before, but I was pretty sure no one would like my blog, so fuck it.

Addendum: here’s the prompt and the quote for the contest:

EVENING-QUARRY-ACCENT-ROSE-TEAR-MINUTE-GRAVE-CLOSE-ENTRANCE-BOW

I want to put a ding in the universe. –Steve Jobs

Oh by the way I found the idea for this on WetInkPress. So you have to write a story under 250 words and use at least four of the prompt words and you can either try to use the quote as inspiration or not, if you do and you are the best at it, you get an additional award.

Ok I think it’s two guys talking, one guy thinks he can change the world, the other doesn’t, then the first guy leaves and feels like he’s already changed the world.

Here goes then.

Tides of evening wash over the graveyard in a sudden flurry. The men spoke with strong Irish accents.

“Mom would be proud of us wouldn’t she.” He tossed it over his shoulder like so much dirt. Not a question, jus

Pause. Outside they are digging themselves out of the snow, so this works well. Me and GF are like fuck it, we ain’t going out in that shit! I don’t know why people are in a hurry to get out. We hibernatin in this bitch.

Anyway

Rolling tides of evening washed over the austere graves in a vengeful fury.

The two men spoke in Irish accents.

“Mom would be sah proud, wouldn’t she.” He tossed it over his shoulder like so much dirt.

Patrick’s smile glinted with cool moonlight. “Aye, don’t you think so?”

“I should be glad to never learn one way or another.”

Patrick plucked a rose from a carefully arranged pile at the grave near the newly stacked pile of dirt.

“Our world is as beautiful as hers,” he said, handing the flower to Dennis.

Dennis glared at his brother and threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “Our world is shite.”

Patrick laughed. To Dennis his laugh sounded cold and lonely, weak and powerless in the face of the oncoming night, in this horrible place of death. “If you’ve done with fooling about do you mind lending a hand?”

Patrick turned to the work with joyful fervor. “Look. Even here we make a difference. One stroke after the next.” He threw dirt. And another. “And further we delve into the dust.”

“Exactly that. One day closer to death. One more step into the grave.”

“So we act meaninglessly?”

“Of course we do!”

“Do we not celebrate our mother with every minute we spend here, digging, in a kind of prayer like way, don’t you think?”

“Ah.”

“And by celebrating her, throughout our lives, don’t we make the world a better place? Don’t we then change the goddamn world?”

“Shut up and keep digging you fool.”

Patrick smiled, sccoped the rose carefully into his shovel, and replaced it upon the pile.

Ok, obviously lost the thread there at the end. But that was about 310 words, so only sixty to cut. Now to make the language more poetic, and more dark, and more graveyardy. Nothing like what I had in mind, but fuck it, I guess that’s what flash fiction is all about. It’s some kind of flash of a scene that makes an impression in your mind. But it’s still supposed to have a middle and an end, according to the writer interviews I read about people who have won last year’s contest. The middle is supposed to be the ending, and the end is supposed to be basically giving you some time to wind down from the hock of the middle/end, instead of being a punchline at the end like an O Henry story or something.

Rolling tides of evening washed over the austere graves in a vengeful fury.

Hmm. I like the idea of a tide of evening. Probably read that somewhere else.

The rolling tides of blackish violet announced the evening

The rolling tides of black clouds ferried the evening in among the austere graves. Two men dug shoulder to shoulder near a humble stone.

In his strong Irish accent, Dennis muttered, “She deserved so much better.”

In the beginning I was thinking he was a gravedigger and he was saying sarcastically his mother would be proud that the Irish brothers had gone to America and could only find work as gravediggers. But now I think she should have died without enough money for a funeral and they are burrying her. Maybe she had big dreams and never got to do them. Maybe she died in America after making the voyage to follow her dreams.

In the accent of the old world they had just left, Ireland, Dennis gritted his teeth. “She’d be sah proud of us making the journey.” He tossed the words over his shoulder like so much dirt.

I like the idea of tossing words over his shoulder, but then old Patrick better not be shoulder to shoulder, because then why is his brother tossing words over his shoulder at him.

Ok they are digging graves back to back. Ha! They can’t be back to back tossing dirt over there shoulder into each other’s hole! That’d be a story in itself.

Ok they are face to face.

“I guess she found what she went looking for.” Dennis tossed the words over his shoulder like so much dirt. Nope got to go!

“I guess she found what she went looking for.”

Patrick’s smile glinted with cool moonlight. “Aye, don’t you think so?”

Dennis glared. “Should’ve been buried in Ireland at least.”

Patrick plucked a rose from a carefully arranged pile at the grave near the newly stacked pile of dirt.

“She found a new world, to her it was more beautiful, probably because she’d never been there, and having died as soon as she saw it, she hadn’t the time to be proved wrong, and so she probably died happy.” Patrick handed the flower to Dennis.

Dennis  threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “This world is shite.”

Patrick laughed. To Dennis his laugh sounded cold and lonely, weak and powerless in the face of the oncoming night, in this horrible place of death. “If you’ve done with fooling about do you mind lending a hand?”

Patrick turned to the work with joyful fervor. “Look. Even here we make a difference. One stroke after the next.” He threw dirt. And another. “And further we delve into the dust.”

I was thinking of the dwarves from Lord of the Rings when I said, “And further we delve…” but then I put dust, because ashes to ashes and dust to dust, from dust we came and to dust we go. But of course Patrick shouldn’t say anything about dust, that would be Dennis’ line.

“Exactly that. One day closer to death. One more step into the grave.”

Of course here I was thinking of the song “Time” by Pink Floyd,

You run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again!

The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older

Shorter of breath, one day closer to death!

But exactly here is where the image kind of fell to pieces, and I overstated his line and then of course Patrick would never ask this question:

“So we act meaninglessly?”

“Of course we do!”

And then with this next line I was trying to find out what the whole point that Patrick is trying to make:

“Do we not celebrate our mother with every minute we spend here, digging, in a kind of prayer like way, don’t you think?”

“Ah.”

“And by celebrating her, throughout our lives, don’t we make the world a better place? Don’t we then change the goddamn world?”

“Shut up and keep digging you fool.”

Patrick smiled, sccoped the rose carefully into his shovel, and replaced it upon the pile.

I was thinking this would make a good ending image, differently worded of course.

Patrick scooped the rose from the grave and placed it carefully at the foot of his mother’s…stone…headstone…rock…the humble stone…the crumbling humble bumble of a tumbling stone.

Ok if this story is to work I’m going to have to let go of trying to keep with the “ding in the universe” theme. At least so closely. It’s a good image, and it can work if I let it, at least marginally, though it may not be a contest winner. This is, after all, my first contest.

And that’s a line that Hunter Thompson used frequently: “We are, after all, professionals.”

Round three:

The rolling tides of black cloud ferried the evening in among the austere graves. Two men dug near in front of a humble stone.

Dennis muttered, his Irish accent harshening the long ‘o’: “She deserved so much better.”

Why am I fixated on this long o shit? Maybe I’d better use a different word from the prompt. Or maybe: “Two men dug close to a humble stone” Or near the entrance, there cowered a humble stone, and two men dug gravely. Hahahah gravely. Dug with seriousness. Dug in earnest. Dug in painful earnesty. Dug integrally. Dug it like it was Dizzy Galespie in the wild blue night and the mad ones running hurdy gurdy down a street of internal pain and wondering…all of us suffering, all longing, and Dean’s long last old man wandering the streets nearby, somewhere in the mist beyond reckoning.

Or maybe, There cowered a humble stone, and two men bowed low to the hard earth, digging stolidly, digging stoicly. digging. There cowered a humble stone, and along it two men bowed low to the hard earth, digging.

“All her life, striving, to wind up here. And us, her only kin, her only friends, the only ones who care enough to bury her.” This is of course too drawn out, but he would say something like that. He would grit his teeth and hurl the dirt, heft the dirt, bring the dirt out of his very soul, which he has been keeping there all her life, only to dig it out now at her grave, digging into his own soul and finding nothing there but dust, all is dust, all is fleeting. What a bitch.

Patrick’s smile glinted with cool moonlight. This is good, glinting may be the wrong word, but cool moonlight on bared teeth is both bright and creepy. Patrick’s a creepy mother fucker to be laughing in the moonlight. Which of the two is right? Well, that’s in the eyes of the reader. Life does not present us with judgments. Like Jet Li says in Fearless, basically my favorite movie of all time (maybe after Crocodile Dundee), “Does the tea judge itself? No, we judge the tea.” Or something like that. So what then does Patrick say here, if Dennis life can be…or rather Dennis’s thoughts can be summed up with all is dust…what does Patrick mean to say. “But she does not die in vain, for she has us, and we are who we are because she lived, and because she loved, and we live because she lived, and we love because she loved, and here in the night, working together to celebrate her life and honor her with the sweat of our brows and the strain of our backs, we prove to the world that she was here, that she made some difference in the world.” Ah what a cop out, dear Patrick. Just by getting knocked up someone makes a difference. “No, anyone can stick a hanger up there or fall down the stairs, but no one who raises two boys against the threat of silence and death, against the hungers and terrors of this world, has lived in vain.”

Patrick plucked a rose from a carefully arranged pile at the grave near the newly stacked pile of dirt.

Well he’d have to be stealing this rose from another pile, because roses don’t just grow in graveyards. So what does it signify if he is taking a rose that someone else has gathered, and giving it to his own mother. Well, it could be very political. Robin Hood and the merry men. As this is a very austere graveyard, and his mother’s grave cowers among the other stones, because they are so much bigger and richer, he is taking from the rich, like their view of welfare or some such. They pay the taxes and he takes it. Yes but I don’t know if I want to make that point. Like Kurt Vonnegut said, or something like it, when this country was born you’d better have taken way too much, or you’d get nothing at all.

And why is he giving his brother a rose. He is taking a part of his mother’s soul, say, if they brought the flowers there to lay at her grave, then he is taking a part of his mother and giving it to his brother, how is it he can bestow this blessing? I suppose it is because he took from her her caring nature, her optimistic view on the world, or perhaps is currently blessed…I mean possessed by her spirit and therefore is acting in her stead towards his troubled brother.

Patrick held the rose delicately and proferred it to his brother. “Like this rose, she is now dead, but her beauty lingers with us.” Hm that sounds good, but lingers has a bad connotation I should think.

Dennis  threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “This world is shite.” I think I can just take out “this world is shite” since Patrick has refrained from saying anything about the world now and they don’t have to be talking in Irish accents. But slowly opening is good, not for the wording but for the image, it’s like a mouth that opens to swallow them, not a new image, but a strong one nevertheless.

Patrick laughed. To Dennis his laugh sounded cold and lonely, weak and powerless in the face of the oncoming night, in this horrible place of death. “If you’ve done with fooling about do you mind lending a hand?”

Here of course I was thinking of the song “Weak and Powerless” by A Perfect Circle. And the graveyard isn’t really a horrible place of death. But to Dennis it is. Should the story be more biased towards Dennis view of the place? If not, then I’d have to say how it sounded to Patrick. Maybe: Patrick laughed and the sound echoed in the cold night, off the face of the proud stones, rising toward the heavens, clear and delicate as fine crystal. Dennis was unnerved. “Don’t you know it’s bad luck to laugh in a cemetary?”

Is it? I don’t know if anyone thinks so. But Patrick would scoff, “Ah but what’s the use, Dennis, since it’s all dust to dust up in here anyways.”

Patrick turned to the work with joyful fervor. “Look. Even here we make a difference. One stroke after the next.” He threw dirt. And another. “And further we delve into the dust.”

Maybe: Patrick sunk his shovel into the earth, the soil, the terroir, the fertile ground ready to grow a briar and a rose, like the song about Barbry Allen…sorry…Patrick sunk his shovel into the dirt, “Every action has meaning. By merely thinking, and the remarkable and instantaneous aquiescence of my capable muscles, I have thus caused this ground to clear the way for my mother’s broken body. Further and further we delve, where if we had not been, if she had not been, no delving would be done.”

Delve. Acquiesce. Hm…Wordpress spellcheck does not recognize the word aquiescence.

“Further and further we delve in to the dust to which we too will soon return,” Dennis spat. “Stroke after stroke, each stroke one stroke closer to death.”

Patrick scooped the rose from the grave and replaced it carefully at the foot of his mother’s headstone.

Round four then:

The rolling tides of black cloud ferried the evening in among the austere graveyard. Two men dug in front of a humble stone, decorated lovingly with freshly cut flowers.

Close to the gated entrance, there cowered a humble stone and two men bowing low to the hard earth, digging.

Cose to the gated entrance, a clean and proud, if relatively diminutive stone, decorated lovingly with freshly cut flowers, watched over two men who bowed low to the hard earth, digging.

“All her life, striving to make a difference, just to wind up here.” Dennis tossed his words like so much dirt. “And hardly a proper burial.”

Patrick’s smile glinted with cool moonlight.

Cool moonlight reflected off of Patrick’s crooked teeth as he smiled. Oooo. Patrick’s crooked smile reflected cool moonlight. Patrick’s toothy…Patrick’s sawtoothy…Patrick’s snaggle-tooth grin reflected cool moonlight.

“We live, because she lived. We love because she loved. Tonight, brother, we celebrate her life and honor her with the sweat of our brows, the strain of our backs. The woman who raises two boys against the hungers and terrors of this world, she has not lived in vain.”

A little preachy, but getting there I guess.

Patrick plucked a rose from the arrangement at the stone and proffered it to his brother. “She is as dead as this rose, but similarly, her beauty lives on.”

Dennis  threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “The rose will fade in a matter of hours. From dust we come, to dust we return.”

Patrick laughed and the sound echoed in the cold night, off the face of the proud stones, rising toward the heavens, clear and delicate as fine crystal.

Dennis was unnerved. “Don’t you know it’s bad luck to laugh in a cemetary?”

“Even here we make a difference,” said Patrick as he sunk his shovel into the dirt. “Each stroke clears the resting place for our mother, who we can bury properly because of this difference we have made.”

Shit still don’t know what to do with that.

“Further and further we delve in to the dust,” Dennis spat. “Stroke after stroke, each stroke one stroke closer to death.”

Patrick shrugged and scooped the rose from the grave, replacing it carefully at the foot of his mother’s headstone.

Oops. 378 words now. Round 5, and at this point I’m just going to go with it. It’s been an experience anyway. And I’ve been working for…two hours?

Ah but shit that 378 included asides by me so not so bad after all.

Final round, all cut up:

A rolling tide of black clouds ferried the evening in among the austere graveyard.

Close to the gated entrance, a small stone decorated lovingly with freshly cut flowers watched over two men who bowed low to the hard earth, digging.

“All her life, striving.” Dennis tossed his words like so much dirt. “And hardly a proper burial.”

Patrick’s snaggle-tooth grin reflected cool moonlight. He plucked a rose from the arrangement. “We live and love, because she lived and loved.” He proffered the flower to his brother.

Dennis  threw the rose into the slowly opening grave. “The rose will wither in a matter of hours. We will wither in a matter of years.”

Patrick’s eerie laugh, clear and delicate as fine crystal, echoed off the face of the proud stones, rising toward the heavens. He sunk his shovel into the dirt. He emptied his shovel to the side. “Each stroke we make, even here, makes a difference.”

Dennis agreed. “Further and further we delve in to the dust. Each stroke one stroke closer to a grave.”

Patrick lovingly scooped the rose from the grave, replacing it at the foot of his mother’s headstone.

Now for the title. Got to be good since it’s such a short story. Basically my thinking for this final cut was don’t overtell the story. The line about the terrors and hungers, I really liked that, but it’s not something someone would say, unless they were really damn smart. It’s something the narrator could say I guess, but there’s no place for it. So sadly it goes. And I want to leave some to the imagination, about the relationship of the rose to the person, and I didn’t want to get to sappy about we love because she loved, because I think that’s a Kirk Franklin and The Family song.

But the title, what a bitch.

Twilight in the Garden of Souls

Like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Digging

The Brothers Who Think Differently About Death and Other Things, Too.

That title endebted to Zoolander’s school for kids who want to learn to read and do other stuff, good, too, I’m sure Matticus will come through with the accurate quote there.

A Proper Burial

Like digging, these two titles at nothing to the story.

Laughing in the Cemetery

The Dusty Rose

Dust on a Rose

The Petal and The Rose and The Stone and Casper the Friendly Ghost

The Hand The Furnace The Straight Face

That’s a Project 86 song, by the way.

Burial…It’s a Real Bitch When You Do It Yourself

DIY Burial

The Hipsters in the Cemetery

Burial for Fun and Profit

Further and Further We Delve into the Dust

That’s fun but doesn’t add anything either. Son of a bitch.

But then the guy who wrote last year’s second place entry: Dutch Baby, also had those exact words in his story, so his didn’t technically add anything, even though he said that you have to make your title work for it’s pay.

Death Makes People Think About Their Lives

Making A Difference

Vanity

Pride

Pride Turns to Ashes in Their Mouths; and Their Bones Littered the Desert Until Judgment Day

The Cold Hard Earth

The Entrance

The Exit

Coming In Through the Out Door

Entrances and Exit

Exeunt

Farewell

By The Sweat of Their Backs

By The Strain of Their Backs and The Sweat of Their Brows, They Confront the Terror and the Hunger of The Cold Hard Earth

Strain and Sweat, Tears and Toil

Hey there you go. And I used another word from the prompt.

For this to, is the lot of a man. And the cemetery is a sort of a lot isn’t it.

A vacant non-vacant lot where the kids can’t play baseball.

Well I wasn’t going to post this until the contest was over but fuck it. I’ve had so much fun I don’t care whether I win the contest or am disqualified. And I can’t wait to see what you think. And just in case everyone doesn’t want to read all this muck about, I’ll post just the story first and then this.

And I just printed it out and realized a few things. Lovingly was used twice. And two adverbs right next to each other “decorated lovingly with freshly” not good.  And dirt used twice too! Shit. And did I mention there’s kind of an incestuous homoeroticism going on here? “…loved.” He proffered the flower to his brother.” Well shit. Sounds like a proposition to me. Oo if he extended the flower to his brother we could add some further sexual innuendo there. Patrick’s totally gay for his brother. What’s a better word for “lovingly scooped?” Oh man if he “ladled” it out it’d be like he was eating homemade chicken noodle soup straight from his mother’s grave, how nourishing is that.

Hm, shit. This story is actually not a story. It’s more like a poem, an arrested image. A photograph in words. And that’s fine. And I’m still going to submit it. But I think it’s not actually a story.

Strain and Sweat, Tears and Toil

A rolling tide of black clouds ferried the evening in among an austere graveyard.

Close to the gated entrance, a small stone decorated with freshly cut flowers watched over two men who bowed low to the hard earth, digging.

“All her life, striving.” Dennis tossed his words like so much dirt. “And hardly a proper burial.”

Patrick’s toothsome smile reflected cool moonlight. He took a rose from the arrangement. “We live and love, because she lived and loved.” He extended the flower to his brother.

Dennis accepted it and dropped it into the slowly opening grave at their feet. “The rose will wither before dawn. Our fate is the same.”

Patrick’s laugh, clear and delicate as fine crystal, echoed eerily off the faces of the proud stones, rising toward the heavens. He sunk his shovel into the loam. He tilted his shovel and watched the stuff accumulate along the mound. “Each stroke we make, even here, makes a difference.”

Dennis nodded. “Further and further we delve into the dust. Each stroke one stroke closer to a grave.”

Patrick scooped the rose from the pit and replaced it at the foot of his mother’s headstone.

Ha, so I went to post that, and these suggested tags came up: Neurological Disorders, University of Auckland, Cannabis.

WTF