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500 Words
500 Words :: Jo

It happened one day in the full light of afternoon, on the day before Johnny’s birthday party, as she carefully adhered all the ears on all the Styrofoam mice laid out in front of her on the table, as she mused over the perfection of the day to come, and wondered if her husband would make it back from Iceland on time, given the vicissitudes of the weather as well as the pilot’s strike, when who should appear at the door dressed like a UPS man but her former lover, Juan Francisco, whom she could not help but imagine dressed much like the mice she worked on so minutely and blindingly, and savagely she took him in her arms, planting a juicy tongue-kiss on his well-turned lips, as he stood dumbfounded because truth be told his name was Pete and his twin brother Juan now lived in a West Virginia suburb thousands of miles away, and this incident only cemented his conviction that yes, he was gay, as if he didn’t know already what with the boyfriends and the furtive encounters in off hours with other like-minded drivers, and yes, he needed more than anything else to get the hell out of his current job; it was hell on so many levels, including the driving of the damn truck which was so large and unwieldy, and the shorts, the shorts, the terrible ill-fitting shorts which now comprised half his wardrobe at least, and sometimes alone in the truck he cried out, “Horrible horrible shorts, how I hate thee!” very poetically, because after all he had a Ph.D. in Classic Literature from a prestigious university in Florida; but suddenly he was aware that the kiss had not yet stopped, but rather he had forgotten about it in his reverie, so he pushed the woman away and asked her what the hell she was doing, and she said, Juan, I remember you Juan, and he said No, it’s not me at all, I mean, I’m me, but I’m Pete, and Juan is my twin brother who lives in West Virginia in the suburbs, and can I use your phone because I need to (he trailed off as he entered the house to look for the phone) and Kate yelled that the phone was in the kitchen and he was welcome to it; that’s when she went into her own reverie about her magical romance with Juan, who had been by far the best lover she’d ever had over to her small room during college; they would lie for hours in her bed and he poetically described the angle of the light playing on her body, which of course was all she needed to take up their happy lovemaking again, but wait, she was brought up short, how could she want him when her husband was on his way back from Rekyavik, and how did you spell Rekyavik anyway, and what happened to that driver, she thought quickly, and that was all.

    TAGS:  500 words, perfection

The man-Friday stood sweating heavily and breathing like a hard-ridden horse, his mind spinning out of control on its own flashbacks and tangents as his benefactor—the master-baker who was wearing her new, crisp, starched-and-ironed, strawberry-print apron she’d received from a secret admirer/Internet correspondent (who was really the man-Friday himself pretending to be a 300-pound Samoan man living in his mother’s basement not-too-successfully pretending to be a teenage lesbian nymphomanic blogger by the AOL IM name of “hotJessica15”), droned on and on about possible ingredients (cinnamon from Madagascar—where once the man had made a two-year expedition seeking undiscovered orchids, only to nearly die from a rare form of dengue fever that left him weak and feverish in a bush hospital run by an Australian doctor and his defrocked priest lover; nutmeg from Indonesia—he’d lost months of his life there, nursed slowly back to health by seventeen Buddhist monks who treated him with noxious jungle herbs and 24-hour-a-day chanting to cure the rabies he’d contracted from a monkey bite—another orchid-related accident—he really was unlucky in his search for those accursed flowers; vanilla from the island of Taha’a in French Polynesia - he’d never been there, but he’d have to put it on his list, since where vanilla (which is a form of orchid) grows there should be other orchids to discover; 147 other spices and aromatics carefully arranged in alphabetical order by the man, and labeled in impeccable calligraphy which he drew using an antique Chinese camel-hair brush; and, at the end of the 14-or-so feet of spice-shelf, the baker’s very favorite ingredient, black cocoa from King Arthur Flour Company—which when brought off the shelf always triggered a lively discussion not only about the relative merits of dutch-process cocoa, regular cocoa and that king of cocoa, King Arthur black, but also inevitably led to stories of the Baker’s training at King Arthur where she’d first learned the secrets of ganache, eggs, gluten and so much more), recipes which she was forever talking about, scribbling on milk-stained post-it pads, tweaking and rushing off to try, and most important— suddenly piercing his molasses-and-rum-raisin soaked consciousness—the critical subject of the day: What they were going to bake this very afternoon, when and if they managed to break their respective food- and orchid-based reveries, and then the Baker made her pronouncement, “Tollhouse chocolate-chip cookies, but not just any Tollhouse cookies, these are going to be made from 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, gently pliant to the touch, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon almond extract, 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 teaspoon hot water, 2 cups (measured by dip-and-sweep method, about 11 ounces) all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup (about 2 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder (or better, 2 tablespoons “plain” Dutch cocoa and 2 tablespoons black cocoa from King Arthur Flour, and 1 pound of cappuccino chips, which you, man-Friday, (and you, dear-reader), shall make and enjoy with a cup of fresh-pressed espresso-roast, Kona-bean cappuccino.”

    TAGS:  500 words, perfection

500 words :: heather

I awoke from my long and scary nightmare, sweaty and breathing like a hard ridden horse, in the early dawn of that fateful day in late October, the day that would live forever in my mind as the oddest and yet the very best day of my life, in which I actually Found My True Calling (that is as long as one believes, as I did at the time, that working for a living setting up clunky bowling pins to be again and again knocked down by chubby hairy drunken middle aged men while they leer at you and spill beer and make lewd comments to one another about your boobs is not exactly worthy of being considered one’s true calling) as the Girl Who Brushes Sweat off of Hard Ridden Horses, feeds them, mucks out their stalls and whispers in their perky ears all the while flirting with the little gay jockeys (wondering all the while if having sex with a jockey is quite like the time she got laid by that midget during her brief but extremely interesting stint as a carnie in the course of the summer of her junior year at Brown before she got her degree in Public Engineering and Policy Administration which prepared her in no way whatsoever as to how to rid oneself of a profoundly horny and rather heartsick –but fabulous in bed- midget who turned rather suddenly and threateningly into creepy stalker guy) as they pranced about the stables (the jockeys, not the horses) in their teeny tiny little breeches and complained how “hungry” they were and jumped on and off of their scales and vomited up their teeny tiny little lunches which were comprised of a few pale limp lettuce leaves and no dressing at all leaving the poor horses with not a soul to brush off their sweat, once hard ridden, and muck the smelly piles of poop out of their cramped wooden stalls and whisper in their perky ears when THEY are the poor creatures that have to do the sweating and hard riding and carrying of the anorexic teeny tiny little men around the dusty race track while chubby hairy drunken middle aged men cheer and shout at them and spill their beer and make bets on who will finish first (and second and third) on this racetrack that I stumbled upon accidentally when I took a wrong turn on my way to the podiatrist where I was to have some large and quite painful (not to mention unsightly) verrucas removed from the bottom of my left foot, had a scary but not injurious (to either person or property) fender bender with a bookie who instructed me to follow him to the parking lot of a nearby track to exchange insurance information and identification (just in case of any problems that may arise in the future) as a result of the accident, and I saw the lovely horses in their stalls, and I Found My True Calling.

    TAGS:  500 words, perfection

becky dreams :: boot

In the little bed the young girl slept fitfully, her eyelids seeming to twitch, and she seemed racked with pain, seeming almost to cry silent tears as she slept, and as the camera of the story’s eye swirled around the spartan room, and through her hazel eye, we found her dreams and we found her standing alone, alone in a big red land; and as Becky stood in the middle of the scorched, dying, red, red desert she pivoted slowly around, her eyes flitting over the rocks and rock wallabies, watching this land die, but looking for signs of moisture, some sort of droplet, a little sign of life, just the merest hint of rain, but all she found was dust, flames, rock hard and lifeless ground and ashes, but she couldn’t give up, this land was hers and she wouldn’t let it die, so she spread her arms wide as she continued to turn and as she did so the searing air began to shimmer and curl, seeming to split and fly away in ribbons, each ribbon a shade of blue, a blue like the ocean, a blue of a young girl’s eyes, the blues from a bowerbird’s collection, a blue of the late night sky, and as each ribbon curled away into the sky, it became a tornado of blue, swirling higher and higher above Becky’s head until she was at the centre of a psychedelic storm and with each movement that she made, the storm grew and spread, reaching out across the scorched and scarred land, going up towards the centre and the red, red shores, spreading to the right and roaring through its deep green valleys, reaching further down through the myriad of lands, all the way to the bottom to its crisp white lines, swirling in larger and larger circles around the land, sweeping up the dust and the ashes and the pain, sweeping up the burnt carcasses and broken hearts, but leaving in its wake a river of gentle blue, a caress that called out to the people of the land, made them leave their hovels, exit their homes, come out into the street and dance under the blurred stars, so blurred because of the water falling from the sky, the moisture filling the air and filling their hearts, rain that, as it fell on their heads, caused their papery, dry and dusty limbs to cease crackling, a rain that started their brains to spark and their hearts to beat, a rain so gentle and long lived that they would speak of it for decades to come, yet it was not a rain of damage and torment, it was not in all the wrong places, it did not roar out of the sky ripping out trees and flooding roads, it just came and stayed and stayed until it was not needed anymore, it came when it was called and it was as blue and as beautiful as the Earth itself.

    TAGS:  dreams, rain, drought, Becky the Harlequin, harlequin, 500 words, life, perfection, caress, feeling - the emotion

Bakerina’s Challenge :: Joan of Argghh!

The thought of a sentence with five hundred words seemed to her like a river that would overflow its banks and flood the plain and simple truth of the landscape that surrounded her mind’s ebb-and-flow of temporal reaity—if reality could be the word for what went coursing through her waking moments—and really, she longed for constraint and discipline like an out-of-control woman needing a good spanking; her own thoughts being difficult and unruly, childish in one moment, soaring and esoteric the next, or else given to a deep melancholy that threatened her tenuous grip on the fact that her life wasn’t going exactly as planned…she chided herself inwardly for that weak thought, then cursed that bad habit of self-criticism—still, the thrill of something bigger and stronger, a Rule, that would take all the roaring and rushing torrent of words and make them BEHAVE in a demure, desirable form of womanhood…well, that was a challenge that she’d have to take on, if only to delight in the steadfast firmness of something, anything, that would be unchanging, solid in her gypsy imagination; five hundred words seemed almost too easy if she just wanted to prattle on, but the constraint of one.single.sentence. was just another in a long series of dares she felt compelled to take on, as though working two jobs and writing a stupid blog (oh, she needed the writing outlet and would likely kill the child in its crib before long, but as it was, the care and feeding of the damn thing seemed just one more task she compulsively took on, knowing full well that when she invited that desire into her bed, she would loathe the child of such a union and fear it would grow into a miscreant aberration of embarrassing self-revelations about family dysfunction—or worse—devolve into a whiny teenager that was never going to decide on a career path or do anything to further itself) wasn’t enough for her insatiable appetite for creative output; no, she was determined to completely alienate any chance for something remotely normal even if it meant the indescribably lonely feeling one has when they realize their obsessions have taken them places they probably shouldn’t be, but were irresistible nonetheless…places where the ego wants to expand and vaunt itself to dizzying heights just because the fear of heights was so viscerally implanted in her psyche to a point of danger, and there it was: the reason she simply could not resist the temptation of the challenge of five hundred words in one sentence was the possibility of abject failure or abiding achievement as the result of disciplining the thousands of synapses into one cohesive (and hopefully, coherent) phrase of meaning; an accomplishment that she knew she would enjoy rewinding (now there’s a new anachronism!) and replaying in her stupid blog just as soon as she posted it here in this amazing forum, concluding the deed with a sigh of almost sultry satisfaction and lighting an imaginary cigarette.

    TAGS:  500 words, perfection

Catalyst Truths :: darksteve

The distraction I felt was clearly obvious to all, culminating in an intervention almost, with a coworker concernedly asking me why, recently moreso than ever, and the answer was so simple yet at the same time, its simplicity seemed to increase its complexity and it occurred to me to say “do you know what it’s like to lack feeling, not just feel apathetic for a time, but really, consciously stop feeling to avoid pain, not mental anguish, but physical pain, and you don’t realise that the pain you avoid isn’t all you stop feeling and the longer it goes on, the easier it is not to realise - I mean you know something is missing but you couldn’t put your finger on what it is - but then something happens, something wonderful which you could not have hoped to set out to achieve, was furthest from your mind really as from where you were you would not have been able to comprehend this sensation,” and it is at this point that I would have paused, uncertain as to what I would say next because whatever it is, when considered, must happen to others somewhere everyday, though I wonder if it does, and if it did, it wouldn’t necessarily be the same surely, indeed couldn’t be the same as for me, couldn’t be found where I found it and although two people, or two million, could come upon my catalyst, it would not be a key for them and they would pass it by with only a cursory, superficial acknowledgement, if even that, and this loss wouldn’t be felt, not by them anyway, and it occurs to me that that had been me and I never knew, so I could not expect them to understand; nevertheless I would feel obliged to continue, in part to appear as though I had actually been considering what it was that was distracting me rather than allowing it to flow through me unchecked - not unremarked just unhindered by active thought - but also to discover if this person too had experienced this marvel and recognised it in me, and so I would resume “this sensation which pulses like a beacon, guiding you from somewhere to somewhere else although you can’t distinguish either place until you get where you’re going at which point you can’t really recall the journey, it has absorbed that from you and, although unfortunate as it means you can’t learn how a journey of this nature is made, also means you should find it harder to return, at least via the same path, and further, makes it so much easier to leave the dark past where it belongs allowing you to look forward unsullied by such burdens and with a renewed capacity to feel; do you know what that’s like?” though I suspect at this point it would be clear that they did not and it wouldn’t matter to me if they did and so I say “I was thinking about a girl.”

    TAGS:  500 words, perfection

500 and an extra 1 for my homies :: You can call me, 'Sir'

‘Have patience and endure’, said Ovid, many long years ago, certainly before my birth in January 1973, during the first in a long line of trials punishing people for hubris, both theirs and Nixon’s, and while I don’t believe in such a thing as coincidence (everything happens for a reason, let’s not kid ourselves, even that nappy-headed ho, Wittgenstein, believed this, depending on one’s interpretation of his writing, of course), I find it hard to comprehend the possibility that I might have had something to do with the way Watergate ended, for my own ego has been dragged through the mud enough to know better than to make such haughty claims to playing important historical rolls, but I digress, where was I, oh yes, Ovid and his blessed little remark, patience and endurance truly are worthy virtues, along with perseverance, hope, and decent hygiene, but the particular idea behind being able to sit quietly and wait on the God of your choice or Fortuna’s fickle wheel and to not give up, to never give up (thank you, Winston), this takes real courage, the kind Atticus Finch had when he fought the good fight knowing it was a losing battle, thanks to the townspeople’s relentless pursuit of ignorance, and Boo Radley, thank heavens for Boo Radley (did you know that Boo Radley was played by a very young Robert Duvall in that flick, I mean seriously, Robert-friekin’-Duval played a slightly dim-witted introvert, a stretch I’d say) and his willingness to rise above his so-called ‘station’ and beat the sweet living bejeezus out of the drunk bigot that successfully broke Jem’s arm and was intent on killing Scout, who was dressed like a ham at the time, long story, don’t ask, and actually I recall that Boo killed that dude, but the sheriff and Atticus decided to let things go, there had been enough destruction of innocence for one book and, oh that Harper Lee, herself an introvert of sorts, barely ever agreeing to interviews, but how can one blame her, I myself rarely want to be seen or heard by the mass of humanity and their sheep-like b-a-a-a-ing at whatever spicy little tidbit the media serves up, but…wait a minute, how the hell did I get here, this is nowhere near my point, let me quickly recap, um, Ovid, blah blah blah, endure with patience, etc., so if I ever have children (God help us all), I will sit them down and Ovid’s words will echo through the ages and I will make them read Kipling’s exceptional poem ‘If’ and memorize its lines about ‘forcing [their] heart and nerve and sinew to serve [their] turn long after they are gone, and so hold on when there is nothing in [them] except the will which says to them: “Hold on!”’, and in doing so endeavor to plant in their heart(s) the truth that as long as they never give up on themselves, the opinion of the world will matter not in the least.

    TAGS:  500 words, perfection

Another 500 because I said so :: You can call me, 'Sir'

I sometimes stop what I’m doing and try to make sense of what it is I’m putting off in exchange for the stuff I’m doing and it reminds me of how ridiculous it is to not do one thing in order to do something else, I mean, seriously, unless you’re delivering a baby or playing racketball, anyone can multitask the living shit out of life, a person’s brain being spongy for a reason, malleable to a specific end, because, for instance, and I’m speaking from experience here (at least to a certain degree), even flying a plane barely requires the firing a whole lot of synapses anymore, what with the level of automation these days, hell it’s possible to punch in coordinates and let the computer and the GPS arm-wrestle their way to Albequerque and to be honest, I worked harder flying little single-engine puddle jumpers in Alaska, always worried about the combination of mountain turbulence, weather, and those motherfuckin’ flying monkeys unleashed by that wicked witch that lives somewhere in the ass crack of that one mountain (you know the one; it has the snow on it) at random intervals during the seemingly unending winter darkness that falls upon the entire state over the course of roughly eight months and what the hell is with all these people that move to Alaska and then have such a hard time dealing with the long cold winters and dark days and nights, give me a break, is it a surprise that ALSASKA gets cold and dark for long stretches of time, is it some kind of Old Testament miracle that in the depth of winter, the sun may show itself just long enough to flip you the bird as it skirts the horizon, because the earth, you see, it sits upon this AXIS that TILTS and wait, before I delve into the murky depths of astronomy and physics and the complicated workings of EARTH AXIS DYNAMICS 101 allow me to get back to why I’m writing this long and convoluted effort in futility, which is because it has been too long (TOO LONG, I SAY) since I’ve spent any significant amount of time here and it pains me to think that I lack the motivation required for a sentence, one measley sentence, especially when I think back to those times not long ago when I pooped them out somewhat regularly and rejoiced in the outlet of words and punctuation long pent up in a brain that so desperately needed relief from itself, so why then, have I ceased recently, surely it has nothing to do with my current vocation, please, a sentence is a sentence and happens regardless of what else goes on during the course of memorizing how someone metabolizes glucose or the genetic machinery involved in making sure a person can throw a dart, so in the end there is no excuse and all that’s left is to regurgitate all the drivel that’s built up for far too long.

    TAGS:  500 words, perfection

An answer to ‘mouse’s momma :: You can call me, 'Sir'

The following was prompted in a roundabout way by the recent return to the medium of the 500-word sentence by ‘mouse, who later in the comment section attached to his masterpiece (sounds naughtier than it is), sort of implied that his mother thought I was a wussy for having so long unmet the same 500-word challenge, and I, not being the type to whither under the implied ridicule of someone else’s mother, now find myself eschewing sentence terminators in order to tell the following story: The place that I take my car to be worked on is old fashioned in that it’s a gas station manned by two guys who are that rarest of combinations (honest and exceptional mechanics), which makes them the best kind of throwbacks, but that’s not the story, it’s that I was sitting out in front of the garage reading a New Yorker (because I’m a sophisticated intellectual, bitches, literate to the point of being able to read the living shit out of words) and waiting on them to work their automotive magic when suddenly a Ford Bronco pulls up in front of where I’m sitting and a portly black woman opens the door and asks for my help in finding directions to a certain local nursing home, to which I had to reply with, ‘Um’, initially because my mind was trying to process the fact that this middle-aged, husky African-American Ford passenger looking for a place where the elderly are corralled had a tongue stud, which conjures up a number of questions in the mind of 38-year old graduate students that are likely similar to the questions that might be conjured in the mind of testosterone-laden apes of any age (the answer to most being a resounding, ‘GOD, NO’), but anyhoodle, in the microsecond it took to spew ‘Um’ and consider the implications attached to the stud, I recovered my wits, informed her that I didn’t hold the answers to her questions, existential or otherwise, and off she sped into the unknown, leaving me to ponder the meaning of what had just happened, which is what I find myself doing more and more these days when even the random sets the cognitive wheels spinning, even the presence of something as seemingly mundane as a woman whose tongue includes metal, and just when I was preparing to go Kant all over the subject, one of the mechanics walked out of the garage, wiping his hands like a surgeon who’d just saved a life by extracting an appendix and throwing it out an open window just prior to its detonation, and informed me that he thought that the car was going to live and as part of my thanks for his efforts, I chose not to tell him about what I’d just seen in order to save his psyche from the onslaught and instead, I decided to ruin Scrine with it, sending the iron bird screeching into the night, it’s mind’s eye blinded by its own imagination.

    TAGS:  500 words

I thought the dream was going really well when, while we were attending the lunchtime charity fundraiser together with me as her date,  the head of one of LA’s top modeling agencies (which was the nicer and less cutthroat of the two main agencies in town – the one whose models smiled instead of just sneering and which was a testament to its leader’s own character) turned to the host and stage-whispered, “You know, he’s really good in bed, you should try him sometime,” but as it turns out I had already satisfied not only our beautiful hostess who liked to have me over whenever her husband was away on his frequent business trips but also had been servicing the powerful female Senator from our state sitting just a few seats over who overhead and smiled knowingly, however that was not the highlight of the dream which got better and better as it fast-forwarded away from that wonderful event full of great food, fine champagne and beautiful people to a time a few hours later when the two of us were walking in the sun-warm but not  too hot afternoon, glowing with afterglow of the event as we made our way toward her seaside home and she, suddenly a tigress in heat, turned me down an alleyway between residential apartment blocks and then undressed me and took me right there in the dirt where we were both in that perfect dance of two people for whom the world has resolved down to nothing but a harmony of pleasure and pleasuring, but no, that wasn’t the highlight either, since as we climaxed and collapsed panting in a dusty, sated mess we heard a young woman nearby say to her roommate, “What are those two doing?” and the two them peered over to investigate and my date shushed me and said, “I’ve got this, just be quiet and play along” and then she explained, “Sorry, but we were walking by and this hot piece of boyflesh was just too tempting to pass up for even one more minute and so we ducked between these buildings where we didn’t think we’d bother anyone, and a sister’s got needs you know…, so, we’ll just be putting our clothes on and getting out of your way,” which we did, moping off sweat and dust and trying to get presentable in our semi-formal dress clothes, including her near-painted-on little black dress, while I kept my mouth shut and smiled and made eyes at her like the toy boy I was supposed to be and I guess was, until with her still chattering cheerily to distract, we slipped away from the roommates and emerged along the sunlit path again where my friend and co-conspirator pointed out that the perfect dappled, reflected sunlight on the sides of the buildings through the palm trees along the sea-walk was a favorite of fashion photographers and I knew I had just experienced the best dream a boy could ever hope to dream.

    TAGS:  dreams, 500 words, sentence challenges, smut

"Inadvertent musicians and elderly prostitutes and prestidigitators and Pentecostal preachers and students resembling mechanics and doctors conducting diagnoses in nightclubs and young journalists already retired and transvestites and second-foot shoe peddlers and porn film fans and highwaymen and pimps and disbarred lawyers and casual laborers and former transsexuals and polka dancers and pirates of the high seas and seekers of politicial asylum and organized fraudsters and archeologists and would-be bounty hunters and modern day adventurers and explorers searching for a lost civilization and human organ dealers and farmyard philosophers and hawkers of fresh water and hairdressers and shoeshine boys and repairers of spare parts and soldier’s widows and sex maniacs and lovers of romance novels and dissident rebels and brothers in Christ and druids and shamans and aphrodisiac vendors and scriveners and purveyors of real fake passports and gun-runners and porters and bric-a-brac traders and mining prospectors short on liquid assets and Siamese twins and Mamelukes and carjackers and colonial infantrymen and haruspices and counterfeiters and rape-starved soldiers and drinkers of adulterated milk and self-taught bakers and marabouts and mercenaries claiming to be one of Bob Denard’s crew and inveterate alcoholics and diggers and militiamen proclaiming themselves “masters of the world” and poseur politicians and child soldiers and Peace Corps activists gamely tackling a thousand nightmarish railroad construction projects or small-scale copper or manganese mining operations and baby-chicks and drug dealers and busgirls and pizza delivery guys and growth hormone merchants, all sorts of tribes overran Tram 83, in search of good times on the cheap." [Note: only 256 words, but I'm declaring it an honorary 500-word challenge participant since they were such great words -mouse]

    TAGS:  guest scriner, 500 words, bars


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