Tattooed with a Nude

OnlyJudyCanJudgeMeSo I’m on the airplane yesterday, the last leg of one of the more irritating months of my flying career. This family’s in the last row, bottle-blonde mom, kid in a car seat, chunky, hunky husband in a t-shirt and shorts. He gets up out of his seat to get who-knows-what out of the overhead bin and I clock the naked-lady tattoo on his calf with an inward eye-roll. How classy, I groan, if only to myself. She must be very proud. What kind of woman, after all, runs around with the kind of jackass that parades around town with porn on his body? He was pretty cute, mind you, and they’d both been above-average friendly, but my knee-jerk impulse was not just to judge them, but harshly. They were airplane passengers, after all — they must have been doing something wrong.

I mean, it only took about five seconds — which can seem like a long time when you’re right in the middle of it — but the other shoe did eventually drop. My husband has a tattoo of a naked guy. A big one. Oh wait — have a tattoo of a naked guy. On my calf. And it drives me crazy when people react to it like it’s porn. “You have a penis on your leg!” No I don’t; it’s Michelangelo’s David, for Heaven’s sake. It’s not a penis, it’s Art! Heed the Bible verse referenced by another of my tattoos: Don’t judge me! (“Luke 6:37,” as my left ankle will tell you.) Oy, the irony…

Naturally, as someone who has one, I don’t really have a problem with naked tattoos. I was even moved to write Jared’s (color and shading to come) a little backstory. And because it’s in my favorite little 100-word format, I’m sharing it here. I’m sure this guy’s topless Waikiki wahine has her own story, too. I didn’t ask to hear it, but if its moral is “Give people a break,” she should consider her message received.

J's PHX Tat2Rising from the ashes is one thing, but exploding in flames hurt, dammit, and this had been a tough recovery.  His strength trickled back so slowly when he mourned a mortal lover, and he languished being earthbound.  His wings took forever to regenerate, and waiting, he was a prisoner of his muscle-heavy body, clumsier every day as gravity mocked his lavishly furled tail feathers.  Finally today, the anxious rustling of impatient wings had woken him.  He stayed for an extra minute to savor the lust for freedom — suddenly delicious, its quenching imminent — and then took to the sky.

 

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Know When to Run

naked guy cardsAh, irony: I’ve spent like half the morning thinking of a long-winded and eternally sunshiny way of saying that two things I’m trying to work on when it comes to my writing are concision and conflict.  Not everything that ever happens needs to be rambled on about in a novel, and a happy ending at the end of a long, happy story about happy people can lack a certain punch.  My favorite little format, the 100-worder, keeps it simple, but still gives you room to mention his hot body, so everybody wins.  I reckon the term Flash Fiction refers to the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nature of these quick snippets, but fiction can flash the way floods do, too:  a few words, a handy journal, and watch out!  Next thing you know you got a story comin’ at ya from out of nowhere.  So roll up your jeans: here’s this dude in 100 words.  I hope you’re having a better Sunday than he is.

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He always was lucky.  Good grades, never studied; great body, never worked out.  One of those guys, you’d say, “I hate you.”  Meaning, “I want what you got.”  Really meaning, “I want you.”  Always been lucky in Vegas, even, which is of course how he got here: falling off a stool in a shitty casino at the state line, dizzy, drunk, and desperate, knowing he’s gonna win it back.  If not this hand, the next.  Catch up on the rent, Jace would have to come back.  Twenty-one, all is forgiven.  Twenty-two, he’s fucked.  He orders another cocktail. Burps, “Hit me.”

Our Writing Group’s Tasty New Anthology

Tasty YearHas it been a tasty year for you?  It certainly has been for the members of my writing group, who, in all of our free time between the novels, Ph.D theses and live theater pieces that we’ve inspired and encouraged each other to produce, have also been stirring together the ingredients of Tasty Year: A Food Anthologywhich we are pleased to announce is now ready to enjoy!  Think of it as a paperback Crockpot, into which we each tossed an ingredient every month or so, simmering a seasoned blend of poems, haikus, essays and micro-fiction into a hearty stew of memories, discoveries, and brownie recipes that you can share with friends or gobble up in one sitting all by yourself.  (No shame in that game, we’ve all done it.  With books, I obviously mean…)

As writers and artists, we, the members of the Open Book Writing Group, have found that writing and art get us through some difficult times. And more than that, the creative expression brings a level of confidence, healing and fun to our lives.  Half of our net proceeds from this anthology will be donated to Art from Ashes, a Denver non-profit that seeks to empower youth through creative expression and personal transformation.

My February contribution is even about the Crockpot (we’re nuts about slow cookers, our group).  It’s 100 words about it being ridiculously freezing cold, like it’s been in Denver the last few days, and about how sharing a simple pleasure (like chili, or your good-lookin’ self in a cute-fitting sweater) is sometimes all it takes to chase away the chill.  I offer it up here as a little amuse-bouche (and, if you live in Colorado, to see if it helps warm you even a little bit on this freezingest night), and invite you to visit our blog, like our Facebook page, or find us on Amazon to dig into the complete anthology, for your Kindle or in paperback.

100 Word: Nothing Fancy

“I just did some chili in the crockpot,” he squeaks, chin down. “It’s nothing fancy.” It’s February, I almost had to cross country ski over here, the kitchen window’s steamed over and the whole place smells of slow-cooking cumin and crackling fire. My veins are packed with snow and my eyelashes are icicles — him in that green sweater’s all the “fancy” I need. Can of beans, hunk of meat, let’s eat. “I figured a ton of garlic was OK,” he’s saying. “Only person I’m planning on kissing is you.” And just like that, I’m warm inside before I’ve eaten a bite.

Twelve Years, One Hundred Words, and a Sea Turtle

flying honu

I work on the airplane, but this is better than flying.  Especially today.  I slip between the waves and the very atmosphere, now thick and green, lifts me up.  I hover above the turtles, roll among them, dive.  Under the dancing shadows of the great round shells, I look up; the sun behind them sparkles impossibly close, riding the waves just like the blondies on their longboards up the beach. I hear wet, the occasional wave, but little else.  No cacophony, certainly no cries, here where there are no skyscrapers, and, in any case, no airplanes to fly through them.

I love a good writing project.  I write better and more freely with my eye on a submission deadline, or a word-count goal, or a photo prompt than if I’m just writing to see what happens.  Early on, my writing group, the Open Book, got in the habit of starting meetings with exercises wherein we’d all whip out a few words for a few minutes on a given topic or song or bouquet of flowers, and then share the results by way of bringing us all together and getting the ball rolling.  As an extension of this, our favorite pastime, this year we’ve decided to build an anthology of short, original work.  Not just from the “members” of the group, but also from like-minded cousins and grandmas and passersby, reflecting the fluid, Come Ye Who Wish philosophy that governs most of our meetings.

Loving prompts the way we do, we decided we’d all be more likely to participate more fully if we had a theme, and the topic of Food, it will not surprise regular readers of Mister S. to learn, met little resistance (and might actually have been the only theme idea we even entertained).  Thus was Twelve Months of Tasty Morsels born.  Here at the beginning of month four, the antho is still taking shape as a blog which, at the end of the year, will be compiled into a little book of poetry, 100-word stories, and food haiku, the proceeds from which our group plans to donate to an as-yet undesignated local non-profit dealing with the art of writing and/or the fight against hunger.

This 100-word story, “Nothing Fancy,” is a reblog of my (just-submitted) February entry.  Visit the blog if you have a taste for this sort of thing, see what my writing buddies are up to, and, if you find something yummy, please enjoy!

Tasty Year: A Food Anthology

A 100-word piece by Michael Thomas for February

Nothing Fancy

“I just did some chili in the crockpot,” he squeaks, chin down. “It’s nothing fancy.” It’s February, I almost had to cross country ski over here, the kitchen window’s steamed over and the whole place smells of slow-cooking cumin and crackling fire. My veins are packed with snow and my eyelashes are icicles — him in that green sweater’s all the “fancy” I need. Can of beans, hunk of meat, let’s eat. “I figured a ton of garlic was OK,” he’s saying. “Only person I’m planning on kissing is you.” And just like that, I’m warm inside before I’ve eaten a bite.

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