The Violence – One

The alarm goes off each morning,
Five times every week.
It tells me it’s time once more,
To do what I have to.

It doesn’t matter if I’m tired,
Have a cold,
Or the flu.
It tells me I have work to do.
And it’s time to do it.
It says to me,
“Fuck you.”

Everything is on the clock.
Every minute planned.
Five minutes max in the bathroom,
To gear up for the workout.
Five minutes and no more,
Or else I’ll be behind schedule.
And have to cut time somewhere else,
To get back on track.

The 30 minute workout
Is always the same.
Five different workouts planned.
One for each of the five days.
Monday push the arms and shoulders,
Tuesday push the legs,
Wednesday climb a million stairs,
Thursday push the arms again.
The legs again on Friday.
And spend 10 minutes every day
Working on my abs.

When the workout time is done,
That 30 minutes up,
There’s 10 minutes for a shower,
Just 10 minutes to clean up.
Another 5 is set aside
To shave the whiskers from my face.
So I can look professional
Throughout the day I’ve yet to face.

5 more minutes to get dressed,
And then it’s time to eat.
But there’s never time to cook.
A bowl of cold cereal and milk,
And a daily vitamin,
Washed down by coffee
Always have to do.

I pray, as I always do,
Nothing happens on the drive
As I race to work.
I pray no one does something stupid,
Has a flat,
Or a break down,
That causes a back up,
And makes me late.

The bosses don’t like it
When you’re late to work.
They don’t like it at all.

I don’t ask any questions
About the life I lead,
The schedule I live by each day,
I don’t have to,
I get paid,
And I have bills to pay.

It doesn’t matter how I feel.
Or what I want to do.
It doesn’t matter if I’m sick,
If I have the flu.
The schedule’s set
And I have a job to do.

So to myself,
That tired, weak, being
I know I am inside.
There’s just one thing
I have to say to you
When I hear you whine
Or cry,
When I know you’re tired.

Fuck you.
I have a job to do.



I was like you, once.
Not so long ago, really.
My life was defined.
Everything was organized.

I walked a fixed path.
A predefined path.
Cut through existence.
Trees, brush, animals, birds, squirrels,

The path was clear.
Used by everyone.

I was like you, once.
Not so long ago, really.
The professional.
The success.
Everything I was supposed to be.

I walked a fixed path.
What to wear.
What to say.
When to speak.
When to be silent.
Everything was planned.

Do your job.
Never speak the truth.
Only positive words.
Can do words.
Even if everyone knew
It was a lie.

I was like you, once.
Not so long ago, really.
I had all the signs in place.
The house.
The cars.
The yard, well kept,
Always edged,
No weeds anywhere.

And perfect flower beds.
I knew the path.
I knew the way.
What to do every day.
What mattered.
What didn’t.

I was like you, once.

And then I changed.
I saw the path
For what it was.
How barren,
How empty.

Nothing lived there,
On that path,
Where every day,
And every one,
Was the same.

A path that lead from life
To death,
In a straight line.
Turning neither right,
Or left.

Oblivious to everything.

So I stepped off the path.
To see what lies beyond.
To greet the unknown.
And explore the world,
Outside the land of safe.

I was like you, once.

No more.

I’m free.

#ThursThreads Week 198 : Wait On What?

When she finished, she stared at her shaking hands, and I found I had a problem to solve. “Thank you,” my electronically altered voice broke the silence.

“James is in trouble, and I’m afraid.”

I nodded, James was in trouble, but wasn’t the trouble. “That’s why I’m here.” I reached across the table, pulled her drink away. “I’m going to help.”

“What can you do?”

“What needs to be done,” I stood, “I’m going to solve the problem.” I walked toward the back door of her home. “All I have to do is wait.”

“Wait on what?”

“James. He’ll lead me to the problem.” Technically, it was a true statement. In reality, following James was the first step. He’d lead me to someone, who’d lead me to someone else, until I reached the head of a very nasty snake.


“Active.” I vanished. I was still there, I hadn’t moved, but I was gone, invisible, undetectable. “He won’t know.” I opened and closed the back door to make her think I had left. Then, I went down the hall to the Master Bedroom and waited for James to start his day, and lead me to the next piece of the trouble he was in.

204 Words

I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 198. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

#IADTS2015 : Nude York

Mrs. Clause knew something had gone wrong when she woke on December 25th and realized she had nothing on. Nothing at all. She checked for clothes in the closet and chest of drawers, but they were empty, she could find nothing to wear. “Oh, heavens. What’s he done this year,” she thought as she wrapped herself in her blanket, and cautiously opened the door to the hallway.

She didn’t see anyone in the hallway, so she made her way toward the laundry room, “Maybe he got industrious, and is cleaning all the laundry at once.” She knew that was damn unlikely as the man hadn’t washed a load of clothes in over 120 years.

In the laundry room, she found two naked female elves, “Mrs. Clause!” Both blushed, and used hands and arms to cover themselves as best they could.

“What is going on?”

“We don’t know. We woke up, and…” the elf on the left started.

“I know. Same here.”

“At least you grabbed a blanket,” the second elf looked at the first, “I told you we should have done that.”

The three of them checked the laundry room for anything they could wear. The two elves found bath towels to wrap themselves in, after which the three of them proceeded toward the kitchen, the dining room, and the living room.

In the kitchen, they found the chef hiding as best he could inside a couple of aprons. “I fear he’s walked off the deep end this time, Mrs. Clause.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know how he gets when he finishes his package delivery run.” She did indeed know, he usually got totally snockered.

“What did he drink?”

“A full bottle of the best Kentucky whiskey he could find.”

“Oh, dear.” Mrs. Clause knew Mr. Clause had done something stupid after that much to drink.

“Yes, and that’s when he started talking about New York.”

“New York?”

“He said, ‘New York. We should call it Nude York.’ Then he laughed, and said, ‘Nude York, Nude York.’”

Pictures of everyone in New York city being naked, and having no clothing anywhere suddenly painted themselves in Mrs. Clause’s mind. “Oh, no!”

“Nude York, which is in Nude York. Next To Nude Jersey.” It got worse with each word the chef mumbled. “Then, there’s Nude Mexico. And Nude Brunswick. And Nude England. All part of the Nude World.”

“He didn’t.”

“Yes, ma’am. He did. The Nude World, which celebrates the Nude Year. Which everyone, everywhere celebrates. Happy Nude Year, world!”

“Oh, no!”

“He called the reindeer, and made a second trip out.”

At that point, Santa Clause staggered into the kitchen, a bottle of Kentucky’s best in his hand, totally naked, “Happy Nude Year, Dear!” Then he belched.

“What have you done?”

Santa took a big chug from the bottle, then held it up, “I just gave the world what it wanted. A Happy Nude Year, like the saying goes!”

“Where did you put all the clothes?”


“You have to take them all back! That’s why!”

“It’s not Happy Nude Year?” Santa belched again.

“No! It’s New! New! Not Nude!”

“Well, crap.”

“So, you’ll have to take everyone’s clothes back to them.”

Santa looked a bit perplexed. “I’m afraid that will take a while.”


“I can’t remember where I put them.”

And that’s when everyone near the International Date Line started to wake up. Suffice to say, Christmas Day was rather interesting, and it was not, despite Santa’s best wishes, a Happy Nude Year.

584 Words

This is my story for Ink After Dark’s Tipsy Santa 2015 Flash Fiction contest. Hope you like it. Please, go read all the Tipsy Santa 2015 stories, and I hope you have a fun Christmas season.

I Wasn’t Sally

I was 14 when I broke my right wrist. It happened during community league football practice, in the run in place, and hit the dirt drill. I ran hard, and fast as I could. I wasn’t the fastest, or the strongest. But I put everything I had into that practice that day. And the coach said, “Dirt!” and I threw myself at the ground.

There was no crack, no splintering sound, nothing like that. Just the feel of a rather large nail being hammered from my palm, through my wrist, into my arm. It hurt. I can’t say, “it hurt like…” because I didn’t have anything to compare it with at the time. And anything I could have made up would have been made up. “It hurt like a bitch.” What the fuck does that even mean? “It hurt like someone hit me with a baseball bat.” No. I’ve been hit with a bat. This didn’t hurt like that at all.

It hurt.

It was 1973. Less than a year earlier, the guys I was playing football with called me, “Sally” in gym class. Now, I was knocking heads with them. I was showing them I wasn’t, “Sally.” Oh, we all knew, I certainly knew, I wasn’t as strong, or as fast as them. But there I was, playing with the big boys, in the high school community league. Bruises happened. Hard hits happened. Getting your bell rung happened.

Only “Sally” cried about it.

I wasn’t “Sally.”

I didn’t cry.

We moved to the next drill. I like to think of it as the “lead with your helmet” drill. One guy gets the ball. The other has to stop him. Two guys hurl themselves at each other. It didn’t matter who won. Didn’t matter if you got creamed. What mattered was you tried. You survived the collision.

The other guy got the ball. He launched. So did I. We met, in the middle. The helmets collided. So did the shoulder pads. And somewhere in there, my wrist met its end. If it made any noise when it broke, no one could have heard it over the sound of the shoulder pads colliding.

I still have the external scar on that wrist, where it met the side of the other guys helmet. Right at the edge of the face guard.

The coach was happy. “That’s the way to hit!”

After a few minutes, the other guys pointed out my wrist to the coach. Sucker was as wide around as my hand. Literally. It swelled up that much.

But only Sally cried.

And I wasn’t Sally.

That was the end of practice for me. The coaches benched me. I got to watch the rest of the practice. I wasn’t even allowed to run the lap around the field at the end of practice. Because, everyone knew I was injured.

Dad asked how I was. I explained my wrist. And how it was OK. It was just swollen, and in a few days it would be OK, “All I did was jam it good.”

I never had it looked at. Never had an x-ray. Never visited a doctor. Because, that was a sign of weakness. That was what Sally did. And I wasn’t Sally. And by God, everyone was going to know that, everyone was going to know I wasn’t Sally. I might not be as strong, or as fast as the rest of them. But, by God, they would know I was every bit as tough as they were.

I went to school the next day, my wrist still as wide as my hand, but it was OK. I was left handed. I carried my books with my left hand. I wrote with my left hand. I ate with my left hand. Having my right hand unusable for a few days was OK. I didn’t need it.

And after a couple of days, I was able to do normal things with my right hand. I could hold a book, hold a glass, or a soda can. I could behave normally.

It took weeks for the pain to fade away.

And I never told anyone about the pain. Because. If I admitted it hurt, I’d be weak, I’d be Sally.

I’d been Sally before.

I’d have died before I became Sally again.

It was 1992, and my right wrist ached from all the typing I did at work. Sometimes, my right index and middle fingers didn’t want to move without making certain I felt the effort it took clear up to my elbow. After a few weeks, I gave up. The people I worked with told me to get it looked at, so did my wife. So, I went to the doctor’s office.

Turned out there was a ¼ inch left to right motion in my wrist. You could see the bones slide against each other. An x-ray showed no signs of a break. No bone spurs, no visible cracks. But, from the lateral motion, the doctor decided I’d had a clean fracture of my wrist, and it had never been treated.

But, by God, they never called me Sally after that day on the football practice field in 1973. And when my wrist was strong enough, six weeks later, I went back on the practice field. Because. I wasn’t Sally.

I was taught, by this life, in this world I never made, pain, physical pain, is expected. Only the weak cry about it. I’d learned that at 14 years old. I’d learned, I couldn’t afford to be that type of weak.

I wasn’t Sally.


#ThursThreads Week 195: I’m Willing To Listen

The woman sat at her kitchen table, a glass of whiskey in her hand. It was 0200 hours, on a Sunday morning. As she sat she began to cry, “No one ever listens. No one cares.” She took a drink from the whiskey, then threw the glass against the wall where it shattered into hundreds of pieces. Her arms found the table, her head rested on her crossed arms, and she broke down.

“Black.” The armor became visible. I put an armored hand on her shoulder, “I’m willing to listen,” my electronically modified voice wasn’t human, but I knew that didn’t matter.

She sat up, shock in her eyes, “Who?”

I walked to the opposite side of the table, “No one of any importance.” I sat. “I’m willing to listen.”

She didn’t move. Didn’t blink. Just sat there, like she wasn’t sure she was seeing something real.

“I can leave if you wish,” I hope she didn’t wish, “Active.” The armor clocked, and I was invisible. I paused, “Black,” and returned to visibility. “I’m willing to listen.”

I studied her face, her eyes. I knew she wanted to talk. To tell me what was going on, tell me about her husband, how he abused her, how he used his daughter, and of the nasty, mean people her husband was friends with.

“Tell me about James.”

She took a breath, “What do you want to know?”


She’d been waiting for someone to listen.

242 Words

I wrote this for Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads, Week 195. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are good reading.

On The Edge Of Everything

My depression never really leaves me. It hides at times, plays hide-and-seek. But it’s always there, somewhere. Those are the easy times, when it hides.

The hard times are like now, when it roars, when it touches everything, when it is relentless.

The days when I want to sleep, but can’t. Because I’ve already slept as much as I could. I slept until my body woke up, and said, “I’m done sleeping!” Over 28 hours of sleep in the past 3 days. Over 9 hours of sleep most nights for the last 10 nights.

My body’s done sleeping. I couldn’t sleep right now if I tried. I could curl up under the blankets, get nice and toasty, and stare at the ceiling, crying, ‘cause I still couldn’t sleep. I’m stuck. Wide awake. And I can’t do a damn thing about it.

This morning I’ve done laundry (folded one load, put one load in the dryer, and started a 3rd load in the washer), and it’s only 0824 hours. I’ve already been picking up stuff around the house. Out of desperation, more than anything else. Desperation to pass the time. To get through the time. To kill time. Because.

When I can’t get time to move past me, my mind explodes. Into a thousand stories, a thousand scenarios, a thousand worries, a thousand fears, a thousand memories, all at once. What I should be doing to improve my technical abilities. I should be writing. I should be working on the house. I should be washing the dishes, cleaning the kitchen floor, running the vacuum, cleaning the windows of the car, watching the news, exercising, stretching.

I worry about her. Her knee is not doing well. I worry about Michael and Steve. I worry about the computers at work. I worry about everything. Until everything becomes a fight or flight problem. Until I border on the edge of a panic attack.

At this time of year, that’s where I live. On the edge. The edge of the cliff of depression. The edge of striking the ground after a long fall. The edge of curling up in a ball, and shutting the world out until spring. The edge of throwing everything in the house out in the trash and starting over, trying again. The edge of getting in my car, and driving somewhere. Anywhere. And never coming back. The edge of everything.

I could take a walk. That would burn an hour. Kill an hour. An hour I wouldn’t have to deal with. An hour’s peace.

But I know, even on a walk, my mind will never stop. I’d do the walk, and return to my house, and still be on the edge of everything. All the walk would do is kill an hour.

Did I mention I’ve started doing laps on the staircase in the house? I have. Did 19 laps yesterday. Will do 20 laps on Wednesday. Put my music on, plug my ear buds in, and kill enough time to do 20 laps on the stairs.

That’s what everything becomes. How do I get through the time. How do I hang on. How do I survive. How do I keep going. Because I know. I can’t sleep through it. I’m all slept out. So, I try to find things to do. I have to find things to do. Because.

I’m desperate.

And my depression roars.

And everything. Every breath. Every heartbeat. Every moment of time. Becomes a challenge. A test. Another moment, another heartbeat, another breath, I have to survive.

I know. I know. Sometimes it’s useless to try to explain. Sometimes, there aren’t really any words to explain the demon I live with. The darkness that’s welded forever into my soul. Sometimes, I know most will never understand. And I’m happy with that. That’s as it should be. No one should live with this. No one should have to live with this.

And I know there are those out there who understand.

And my soul cries tears of agony for them.


I know.

I know.

I know.