Some kind of earth-moving equipment
& then a settlement that wasn’t quite
far away enough to be uninvadeable.
Then going somewhere for Mardi Gras
& fretting in advance about transportation.
Getting stopped or stuck at this combo
bar/amphitheatre. The person with me—
a sister, I think—took the car off with a
stranger to find something or other, maybe
gas. I followed some shady character’s
directions to a bathroom then found myself
stranded on a tiny concrete island & realized
that I was the entertainment for a crowd sitting
in the bar/amphitheatre. More fretting: how
was I going to get off the island, how could I
avoid the water, should I fish or have a
drink—it was maddening. Earlier still &
interspersed throughout, in various dream
countries planning to visit or move to other
dream countries or discovering suddenly that
I’d actually been living someplace for several
years. Later, dinner parties with intimate
acquaintances I’d never seen before. Then
uninvited insane relatives from
somebody else’s dream interacting with
ghosts & monsters wrecking a hotel suite I
had to pay for & to think that while you
lie helpless in bed your mind embarks
upon such reckless excursions.

Mind-the-Blanks 1

. . . a story to play with–the story emerges from what the reader’s mind does with the blanks when the reader is reading. No rules–it’s playtime.

The Couple

Two people, time, places, words, police . . .

Even before they were seated at __________, they started __________. They __________ about __________, but they both knew that what they were really __________ about was __________.

As usual, __________ claimed that __________, was __________. Then __________ claimed that that claim was totally __________ because __________ had actually __________.

“Don’t start,” __________ said and added, as usual, “Why do you always __________.”

And __________, as usual, responded by pointing out that __________ was the one who always __________. (And __________ never could resist adding that __________ was also __________.)

As usual, they were getting __________, and people nearby were __________. But what did they care? As far as they were concerned, they were __________, and other people were just __________. They never thought of themselves separately or together as __________ which, of course, was part of the problem whenever they __________.

The year before __________ had been in __________ for __________. During that time, __________ had __________, and __________ had never forgiven __________ for __________. In fact, __________ thought that __________ could not be __________ enough for __________ and started __________ every time they __________.

“Don’t think you can go on __________,” __________ said almost daily.

And __________ usually responded by saying, “I wish I were still __________ so you would just __________ about this and let me __________.”

And then __________ usually, sometimes rather too __________, said, “__________   __________.”

And so they had reached a kind of __________ when __________ found out that __________ had __________. The thought of this was so __________ that __________ could not __________ and instead of __________ proceeded to __________ at every opportunity, and such opportunities abounded because __________ simply refused to __________.

At night, __________ often dreamed that __________ and awoke to discover that __________. Of course, __________ thought that __________ was responsible for __________. But what bothered __________ the most was __________ failure to __________ when the opportunity arose.

For months, early (too early) every morning, __________ sat in the __________ looking at __________ and thinking __________had really __________ things up this time.

And so it was that things got so __________ that __________ began to devise __________ plans to __________ with __________ even though, as any sensible person would know, __________ would never __________ and any attempt to __________ would only __________ the __________.

Later on (but probably not later enough), when __________ was being __________ by the police in a rather __________ manner, __________ would put on a __________ face and assert that __________ was in fact __________ and had been attempting to __________ the __________ when it __________. Of course, __________ didn’t believe that __________ had __________, but played along with __________ hoping for __________ that was never __________.

And never would be.

Stella Ridley Eighteen



After that summer, I often dreamed of the Strange Man incident—in fact, I still dream about it from time to time—but the focus of my dreams is not the shock of first seeing the Strange Man or the nauseous dismay I felt when he reappeared from the kitchen with a larger knife that I knew to be sharp as a razor or the fear that lifted me from the ground on the way from the house to his jalopy. Rather, most of these dreams were, are, of seeing Miz Minnie’s boy Rupert bound and gagged in the back seat of the car.

But these dreams quickly transform, in that kaleidoscopic way that dreams have, into dreams that are more terrifying even than that, dreams in which I was—I am—Miz Minnie’s boy—terrified, unable to move or cry out, unable to do anything to save myself.

The End
of part one

The frilly ones with faint white wings

The frilly ones with faint white wings
trailing the measure of their boots,
their dusty open golden things,
a pantomime of royal loot.

Trailing the measure of their boots,
how could those things be made to speak,
the pantomime of royal loot,
dreams more magnificent than meek?

How could those things be made to speak?
Their thinginess denies all pleasure.
Dreams more magnificent than meek
will hardly do to sop their leisure.

Their thinginess denies all pleasure–
the shiny things they panted for
will hardly do to sop their leisure
when all they want is wanting more.

The shiny things they panted for,
their dusty open golden things
when all they want is wanting more,
the frilly ones with faint white wings.


Wings / Dreams

inspired by

“What do you mean no one will know it’s me? Everyone will know it’s me. Or someone. And I grow faint in my struggles with this damnable shirt-like creature.”

But,” said Nedbert standing in the wings with the wings and unruffled as usual by Optimus’s balking and doubting and prolonging the simplest of activities, “by someone do you mean that everyone won’t know it’s you but someone will know it’s you?

“Or do you mean that everyone will know that the Lepidoptera peacockamamierum gigantica appearing before them is not real but is, rather, someone perhaps not you, perhaps someone other than you, wearing what will be a thoroughly striking man-sized lepidopteral outfit?”

“Why oh why must you always bring mystifying reinforcements into the arena of every discussion? Of course the leopard cannot change his spots. Only a magician can do that.”

“My point precisely, sir. Seeing is believing, and man often knows not the difference between what’s real and what’s a dream. It will be a magical moment. Or several magical moments all strung together to make an occasion. But before those moments or that occasion may occur, we must move forward with getting dressed.

“Oh, my. I’ve forgotten. Am I to welcome the shirt-like creature or spurn it?”

“You cannot very well spur with an arm or a hand, sir, and the wall between us prevents my ascertaining the exact position of the shirt-like creature. But if you are in a state of wonder regarding whether to remove the shirt-like creature from your person, then, yes, you must remove the shirt-like creature before anything else can be done.”

“Well how was I to know that? I’ve been entangled here for centuries. One forgets if one is going forward or backwards.”

“That’s correct, sir, you can just back out of the shirt-like creature.”

“How can I back out of it if it grabs me no matter which direction I turn? And these leggings are all wrong. The wrong color. The wrong size. The wrong everything.

“Those aren’t leggings, sir, those are your handsome and attractive legs. And let me ask you a question. Can you even see your legs, or, if you insist, your leggings, from where you are beneath the shirt-like creature?”

“I can see barely anything, but if I look down I can see the bottom of the miroir, in which is the reflection of my sinister shoe and the rather more benign ankle above it.”

“We’ve discussed this before. That is not a miroir, sir. It’s a portal.”

“I thought we were going to a par-tay. You didn’t say anything about a por-tal.”

“Sir, we must pass through the portal to attend the par-tay. The portal is part of the par-tay, but you cannot go to the par-tay until you are attired. Please remove the shirt-like creature so you can remove the remainder of your underpinnings and I can spirit myself through this wall to affix these wings to your person.”

“Damn straight, I’m tired. I’m telling you I cannot get out of here. And if I remove my underpinnings, I shall be naked, and if I am naked—do you anticipate that I shall attend the par-tay naked. What a fool you are. And why don’t you help me free myself of this shirt-like creature?”

“You shall not go naked. We have ointments and flecks of gold with which to slather your person. and dress you. And I cannot help you sir. As you must know, I am on the other side of the wall. I am merely in waiting.”

Baiting what? Are we going hunting?”

Waiting, sir, I am waiting, always waiting, waiting on you. Sir, please, sir, disrobe. We have wings.

Dreams? What dreams? Are we dreaming?”

Wings. I said wings. You, sir, you are dreaming. You are the only dreamer here.”