Friday, February 9, 2018


Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: stuck, lock, everlasting, rock, and roll. They were submitted by:

There's probably something wrong with me. I have no other explanation for the following...


The Black Keys' tune Everlasting Light popped into her head suddenly out of nowhere exactly 136 days 7 hours 23 minutes and 42 seconds ago.

She remembered her alarm going off at 10 a.m. to walk the dog before her last gyno visit with that song blaring between her temples, bouncing around and seemingly waking up all her synapses...well as much as they woke up these days. At the time, it was welcome. She hadn't actively listened to the opening track from the Brothers album in quite awhile, but it had always inexplicably been one of her favorites. She loved Dan Auerbach's soulful, bluesy crooning, but his voice on this track was so entirely different from most of their library of songs that it belonged, really, to an entirely different band. Still, it never failed to make her smile and sing along.

Well... until it had been stuck in her head, indie rock with no roll in too high a pitch, for over 4 months with no breaks, no pause, no other music forcing its way through no matter what she listened to, how loud, or for how long.

Stoner rock, fuzz metal, sludge, hip hop, soul, blues, garage rock, alt country...the classics...Nothing worked. It was just there on repeat, and she was absolutely losing her fucking mind over it.

In desperation after the first month, she saw a psychiatrist who sent her back to her regular doctor who sent her to a neurologist who sent her back to the psychiatrist who shook his hands of her with monthly prescriptions of Xanax and Celexa. He'd still happily make money off her, you see, even if he couldn't tell her why it was happening or how to stop it. It was all in her head, he said. Pun not intended.

In any case, she took the Celexa faithfully while nothing changed except weight gain and a steep decline in her sex drive (yes of course she still wanted to. It was the Black Keys in her head for fuck's sake not tom waits). She took the Xanax every night without fail, and she slept...but the song was in the background of every dream. She even took 4 of them one night (they were only .5 mg. Chilllll). Nothing. Not-a-gd-thing.

So. She channeled her best Hunter Thompson and tried shrooms, acid, cocaine, weed, ecstasy, ketamine, bought antipsychotics and Adderall from some high school kid who most definitely needed to be taking them herself. She had briefly even considered giving meth a shot, but a bitch has to draw a line somewhere and bathtub drugs made by rednecks with batteries and fertilizer and whatever else were apparently that line.

She wasn't the praying type, but she did return to Church for awhile until she was asked not to come back for laughing hysterically during the preacher's sermon about gay sin. So then she stayed home did the rituals, talked the talk, read a Dollar Tree bible and prayed. Hard. She asked others to join in--every Facebook prayer must obviously magnify your specific claim no matter how generic the request may appear on social media ( how do we know what to pray for?) judging by the behavior of the religious folks on her list. No answer. No change. She didn't even feel heard or warm or have clearer skin (which she also prayed about).

She posted the specifics last month online and got the usual recommendations from the armchair physicians on Facebook: yoga, drink more water, exercise, go for more walks, get outside, enjoy the sunshine, smile more, stop worrying about it, meditate, take B12 and D, acu-fucking-puncture, a chiropracter. You know, all the regular suggestions people give when they don't know shit but think they do. She. did. them. all.

Yet here she was, song still playing like the repeat button in her brain was on lock mode. 136 days 7 hours 26 minutes and 12 seconds. Torture. If the government could harness this power (scary to consider really) they'd never have to waterboard anyone again.

She had watched this documentary type show on Amazon called Lore some time ago, and one of the episodes was on the history of the lobotomy. If she hadn't ever seen a woman get an icepick through her eye to destroy part of her brain to make her more docile and subservient to her husband, she might be more inclined to joke about needing one, but after that, the whole idea was too dark even for her sense of humor.

Electroshock therapy was a consideration maybe... but then she'd seen what it could so on shows and documentaries and how often it was used to keep women in line when they were "hysterical." She'd rather deal with this song on repeat for the rest of her life than be completely locked inside her own head because of some mishap with a therapy that probably shouldn't have ever been used in the first place.

136 days 7 hours 29 minutes and 32 seconds

"Let me be your everlasting light.
The sun when there is none
I'm a shepherd for you
And I'll guide you through"

So she took the lyrics literally. Finally.

She sat on the floor pillow she bought for meditating purposes and let Dan Auerbach be her guide through her own imagination. They were in some sort of vast Middle Earth realm where the sun had been blocked out, and Dan literally shone like a star guiding her to an oasis of sorts. They sat under date palms on a log near a little pond listening to its creatures' mating calls. And as Dan turned to croon the song to her as he had in so many Xanax fueled dreams before, she pulled out a dagger of moonstone (whatever the fuck that is) and cut out his tongue.

Everything was silent. In fact the silence was so sudden and so complete she fell off her pillow back in reality and startled herself out of the meditated fantasy. When she opened her eyes, for a moment she saw the oasis, the stilled part of tongue just inches from her face as she lay in the sand. She jumped up and away from the sickening thing and found herself back home in her apartment surrounded by her things and in complete nothingness until some asshole blared his horn on the street below. She hurried and thought of any song at all besides THAT one and was pleasantly surprised to "hear" Benjamin Booker's Violent Shiver playing in her head.

We found a way, indeed.


The next morning though when she picked up her phone like she always did and flipped through Facebook, a headline from Rolling Stone jumped out at her.

Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys and The Arcs Found in Hotel Room Missing His Tongue


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Friday, February 2, 2018

Cupid Swap

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 10 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

Tell us about a time you witnessed an act of love.

It was submitted by:

I'm not sure the following short story strictly adheres to the prompt, but I wasn't feeling especially lovey-dovey this month, and this story had been rolling around in my mind for awhile now, so here we are.

A few things before you start: Reddit is a social site. Let's Not Meet is a particular area of that site where people share stories about creeps they met in the wild. The stories must be true and often require some sort of verification to stay up. Downvotes are basically dislikes on Reddit. A Chad is a term used by men with issues to describe any man they see as successful but especially a muscled jock type. Normie is a "normal" person so far as I can tell--someone who isn't an incel (involuntarily celibate person who things sex is a right and owed to them). If you spend any time researching it....well, you're just going to get angry. But sometimes being angry is a good thing.

Herman's pudgy, pasty fingers moved furiously over the keyboard. His cheeks shone a vibrant red, his brow sweaty with rage and concentration. It was another Friday night spent playing World of Warcraft and obviously NOT getting the respect he deserved or that cunt Bitchicorn on Reddit wouldn't have tried to give him any shit on the Let's Not Meet sub. And what was with all the fucking downvotes? Anyone with half a brain cell would agree--if the guy stalking the op, CandiedGams, was a Chad with 6 pack abs and a 5 figure bank account his daddy gave him, she wouldn't be complaining. And really if you think about it, all she wanted was a pity party. Attention whore. So fucking what if that Uber driver killed her dog when she wouldn't go out with him?! Who the fuck did she think she was anyway? A queen? Hardly. She was less of a lifeform than the last shit he took. If she wasn't such a stuck up bitch and went out with the Uber driver who was out of his way nice to her during the ride, she wouldn't have had this problem. CoD is call of duty, and WoW is World of Warcraft. Both are games.

He was so angry by this point his chest felt tight. He wanted badly to shut Bitchicorn up forever, but she had an army of feminist harpies backing her up by then, and his breath was shortening to the point he had to reach for his inhaler. He logged off, a flood of self-loathing for not even being able to deal with women online and put them in their place rising up through the Baja Blast Moutain Dew and 12 pack of tacos he had for dinner. It was all he could do not to punch the wall, but the last time he lost control like that he bruised his knuckles and couldn't kick anyone's ass on CoD for a week.

So, he turned to the one place he could always count on to make him feel at least somewhat sane. He logged right back into reddit under his alt account and hit the Incels subs--the few that were left after Reddit's hypocrisy anyway. It didn't take long for him to realize his mistake. The first few threads were filled with stupid normies who would never fucking get it telling them all to get therapy, wash, and workout. Like that was going to rearrange his facial aesthetic, give him a fat wallet, or make his dick big enough to satisfy those whores.... he could feel the pressure in his chest again, couldn't catch his breath through the weight of the rage, and felt the pain travel in bursts down his left arm before his room started looking hazy and dark.

And that's when he passed out. Apparently.

When he woke up, he wasn't in his room anymore. Maybe. All he knew was he was sitting on a plush, velveteen lounge, and that was definitely not part of his decor. After looking around a bit, he noticed a few hanging plants, some golden lamps, a harp... weird shit. There were hearts of various shapes plastered on the way and in a wide array of styles from realistic to pixelated.


He spent a panicked few minutes on the verge of tossing his Taco Bell trying to figure out where he could possibly be when a door opened in the wall across from him where no door had been before, and in walked a guy who looked vaguely familiar. He was well dressed in a white suit with a blood red shirt, pink tie, and matching fedora perched jaintily on his head. His dark brown hair was cut short, beard full but trimmed, and he was in decent shape. Not built but not fat. Not really slender but healthy. He walked gracefully without the labored breathing Herman was used to.

The dude stopped a couple feet from the lounge and waited.

"Well... who the hell are you?" That was Herman.

"I'm you. Well, I'm not really you. I'm me, but I look what you might if you gave two shits about that sort of thing and gave it any effort."

Herman's mouth hung open. That was his only reaction. No words, no grunts, no bodily reactions, or change in his slumped posture...his oily double chin had lowered to it's maximum width, and there it stayed.

"Nice look on you, that slackjawed, slow-minded wonderment. Look, I'll save you some trouble. It doesn't matter who I am so much as who you will be when we're done. No, you aren't dead, but you DID have a bit of a heart attack. No biggie. No real damage. But I saw my chance to make a difference in the world, and now I have a job for you. Ok maybe not so much the world but for me."
"Wh-wh-what? A heart attack?"

"You weren't exactly living a healthy lifestyle there, Herman. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Too much grease and rage being pumped into your body with no effort being expended on, well, anything. For fuck's sake, man, when's the last time you brushed your teeth?"

Herman snapped out of his daze then and felt the usual rage rushing through his veins. "None of your fucking business, you stupid Chaaaaaad."

"Hahaha just what I thought. Either way, yes, heart attack, not a big deal. You'll be fine physically IF you make some changes like eating better, getting out of your house, exercise, medication....OR you can take my job and I'll fill in for you. You can look any way you want, eat anything you want...oh, and you'll be immortal."

"Wait. What?"

"Either you keep on progressing your heart disease because we both know you aren't going to change and die of a heart attack when you're 39 or 40 or you can be me and be immortal."

"What does it involve?"

"Well. I'm in the business of love. Have you ever heard of Cupid?"

"Stop fucking playing. There is no way I'm buying this. Cupid is a myth. A story. A load of bullshit."

"I assure you, Herman, the story is real. I'm real. The offer is real."

"So what exactly does this involve? Going around making people fall in love with each other? If that's the case why the hell did you choose for me to spend my whole life alone?"

"Look, I don't match people up who expect to get laid or only looking to get laid. I bring together couples who under ordinary circumstances could last forever. True loves. Boy, you don't love so much as your pinky toe. That's part of the job...learning what love is and means to other people. Do you know how much like you I used to be? I have been doing this 200 long years trying to figure out what this girl saw in that one or what this boy saw in that girl, and let me tell's not what YOU think it is with your internet posts droning on about Chads and normies and women only loving rich, built assholes. It's not so neatly defined. It's actually NEVER like that. Not for couples who will actually make it, who are actually in love. Shit. Listen at me going on like this. Man, I used to hate the very idea of love. Like you."

"Am I trolling myself in my own nightmares? Is that what this is?"

"No, I assure you this is very real. And it's a serious matter. And you don't have much more time, so I'm going to need your decision."

"Why me?"

"Because you've ruined yourself really. You need an out more than anyone I've ever seen in my time doing this. And you probably have the least idea what love actually is than any poor sap I've ever met. So as my final act of love I'm passing the torch to someone who needs the lesson."

"Fuck you."

"Take the deal or go back to WoW and hating women until you die alone jerking off to sex robot porn. Those are your options."

"Oh. How do you know about.... uh. Deal."


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

The Lieber Family Blog

The Bergham Chronicles