Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 2.2

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Year 2, Week 2.

This is a flash fiction challenge.  The prompt is a song.  You are not required to write about or even mention the song.  It’s there only to get the ideas moving around in your brain pan.  If you want to write about the song (or the video- it’s all good here) go for it but don’t feel like you have to.

 The rules;

 500 words, but it’s a slushy 500, meaning you can go up to 700 or as low as 300.

 Post your entry right in the comments section of this post.

 MAKE SURE TO PUT YOUR TWITTER HANDLE NEXT TO YOUR WORD COUNT AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POST.  IF YOU’RE NOT ON TWITTER GIVE ME AN EMAIL ADDRESS OR SOME OTHER WAY TO GET A HOLD OF YOU!

 The challenge starts whenever I post this on Tuesday and ends at MIDNIGHT Pacific Time on Friday.  You read that right.  Pacific Time.

This week’s song prompt comes from Manchester, England… a bright, happy little band known as… The Smiths.

The tune is, “What Difference Does It Make?” Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/Uzp5ocWvzck

This week’s Judge is the Brewed Bohemian… Jenn Monty!

The challenge opens the moment you read this post and runs through midnight PACIFIC TIME on Friday March 21st.

Now go write!!!!

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Posted on March 25, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. Thanks for choosing this one! It’s one of my favorite Smiths songs! 🙂

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  2. What Difference Does It Make?

    The sky torn itself open early that evening, and its torrents were slickening the streets.
    The twenty-somethings, in their dark clothes and rubber-soled, worn chucks were taking refuge from the cold, moist pavement inside the Ruby Room. Cigarette smoke lingered near the door in the outdoor patio where under-clothed girls and boys huddled together to keep warm and share judgments they’d passed on the other club goers.
    The blessed D.J. was warmed up the dance floor with some dark wave music, and like a cat burglar, snuck in a Smiths’ song. Hearing the first light melodic notes, some of the smokers on the patio threw down their cigarettes and ran into the musty club with glee.
    Ignoring the smell of cheap body spray and sweat, the dancers moved en masse in one rhythm. Karina, a dark-haired Moz lover, like most Latin girls in L.A., closed her eyes and let the baritone-tenor vocals flow through her; she floated on the dance floor as if she were the only girl in Hollywood.
    Fluttering her dark-lined eyes open for a moment, she could feel someone peering at her from across the laser lit dance hall. A handsome young man, with a strong jaw, dark hair and a medium build had his piercing eyes fixed on her. Gliding between dancers, he worked his way into her direction.
    Karina could feel her cheeks flushing with warmth as she tried to ignore the brooding stranger. She continued to sway with the song as if it was playing only for her. Twirling in a circle and re-opening her eyes, she saw her dumbstruck face reflected in the young man’s bright eyes at less than arm’s length.
    He held out his hand without a word, and though she’d normally be perturbed by someone cutting her solitary spin, Karina took his hand and fell right into his personal space. The began heedlessly moving together as if they’d done this dance before; perhaps we were lovers in a past life, Karina mused, so familiar, yet still so novel.
    The pale young man held Karina close, but cautious not to allow his hands to venture into areas Karina might find objectionable. His face was so close, she could smell his spicy after-shave mixed with cigarette smoke, and she briefly wondered why she hadn’t seen him on the smoking patio earlier.
    Though she tried to appear aloof and look away, a warm tingling feeling spread from Karina’s belly and crept into her extremities. The young man playful tried to lock eyes with Karina, but she coyly turned away out of fear that if she did look in his eyes, she wouldn’t be able to resist dragging him to the nearest dark crevice and ravishing him.
    Nearing the end of the song, he pulled her in close and gently caressed her cheek with the back of his hand to turn her face toward him.
    His pale green eyes fixed on her lips as he moved toward them and then by passed them to whisper in her ear, “I just love this song. Don’t you?”
    He pulled away with a smile.
    As the song ended, he kissed her hand and melted back into the crowd.
    Karina stood on the dance floor alone with her face flushed, heart fluttering and her feet unsure how to approach the next song.
    She wondered if maybe she should have just kissed him, but really what difference would it have made?

    577 Words
    @skarlitsunrise

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  3. good story, I can see her just standing there in the grating crowd with a puzzled look on her face 🙂

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  4. For You

    “You’re sick” she shrieked. I ducked the vase. “I never want to see you again.”
    I tried to calm her down. I had my palms up and everything but she recoiled like I offered her a live spider.
    “I don’t know why I ever lowered myself to your level.” The sneer was a nasty touch but hey I liked her. She was a bit of alright, all posh and stuff. She talked pretty like girls who go to posh schools. I told her it was me being from the wrong side of the tracks. They write songs about upper class girls slumming with men like me. I watched her pack her little overnight bag with her things. She has a lot of things. I liked to get them for her. She only had to say she liked something and I knew I just had to get it for her. I sidled up behind her while she was distracted and slid my arms around her from behind. She only resisted a second or two. She liked me holding her like that. I asked her why once. Didn’t like the answer but I get it. My breath stinks with my rotten teeth and she’s used to pretty boys, but pretty boys can’t give her what I get for her. She leans back against me for just a second and I imagine she is purring but then she pushes me back. I pick it up off the floor where she threw it and polish it on my jacket. I ask her what difference does it make, if they can’t use it anymore?
    “What difference does it make? What difference does it make?” She looks a bit sick, her skin is shiny and I think she’s going to puke. “If you have to ask that question you need to see a shrink.” The heat in my cheeks tells her I didn’t like what she said. Maybe I shouldn’t’a got it that way, maybe I should’a told her the truth, too many maybes in my head. I shrug. She hauls her bag over her shoulder and heads for the door. I step in her way. I tell her I did it all for her, only for her and she looks at my hands and shudders but she won’t make eye contact. I hold it out for her in the palm of my hand. Her face gets paler and a bit green around her mouth, she is shaking too. She slaps her hand down hard on mine and knocks it flying.
    “Get out of my way.” She has her teeth clenched real tight when she says it and I step aside. She only has to ask and I’ll do it. For her, I’ll do it. She looks haggard, like a bag lady in expensive silk. She tells me she won’t see me again as I follow her down the stairs. She’s almost running in those heels, which is pretty impressive. I plead with her a bit even if it isn’t manly, I tell her she should stay. I’ll make it warm, I’ll make her feel good, I’ll make her forget I’m not one of her kind. “You’re a spawn of the devil.” She spits as she burst through the front entrance. I stop on the last stair. My stomach feels like hands are gripping it and twisting it like a water soaked towel. I sneer at her hazy silhouette through the frosted glass. I don’t have to apologise to you I yell at the empty foyer but I’m too tired to chase her. I shrug. I was that fond of her I would have done anything she asked.Anything. 613 @cc_lark

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  5. Devil’s Hands
    @BryantheTinker, 643 words

    Crimson swirls flow down the ceramic basin, set on their dance by stained hands scrubbing under the soothing cool water from the tap. Under the bare bulb, I make sure to scrub under my fingernails. This may be new, but I know that it’s important to leave no traces of the evening’s activities.

    “Baby, you got what I asked you to?” your voice comes from the single bedroom.

    “Yeah, I did. He didn’t give it up easy, but I got it for you just like I promised. Like I always do.” After turning the light off, I strip the last of my clothes off and shove them carefully down into a garbage bag. “I lied, and finally got him to let me buy some stuff. It was dark, and well, he won’t be pushing you around anymore, either. Here.”

    I hand you a brown glass vial, and place several more on the dresser. Putting on clean clothes, I run my fingers through my hair and try to ignore you leaned over. Your heavy sigh of intoxicated bliss tells me when the chemical dreams come, and I know that once again, you’re done with me for the night. After taking the trash to a burn barrel outside, I lie down next to you, careful to place you on your side. Sleep comes slowly as I stare into the darkness contemplating my vanishing humanity, for no reason besides that you asked me to.

    In the morning, I wake to find you gone, along with all the remaining vials of the drug. A note sits in their place, “I just can’t be with you anymore. You’re a killer, and I just can’t cross that line. Thank you for always getting what I needed.”

    That was just over 7 years ago now. That night, I learned that I was good at picking off people and making them disappear. It can also be very good money, that nobody can ever report as missing. That first night, when you asked me to get you what you needed, the dealer had several hundred dollars on him, enough to cover several months. 3 people later, and the take grew into the thousands. All cash, all someone else’s blood money. These were ghosts in this city, and nobody ever wanted to look too hard when they turned up missing, so what difference does it make?

    Now, things are a little different. I’ve gotten better at hunting in the streets, and learning who is alone in this world. Every one of them believes themselves invincible, yet when a blade slides into the skin, their faces all show the same fear and realization. It still makes me feel sick and ill in the moment after, but all the times that I’ve stolen and lied, I’m still doing what you asked me to. You’ll never see me, but I look in on your life from time to time. Still strung out, and still tossing heavy words out lightly to ask people to do things for you. Though I remain very fond of you, you look very old and tired.

    Tonight, stepping from the shower, my clothes are now incinerated right there in the bathroom of the uptown loft. Neatly groomed, fine red wine breathes as I put on my latest Italian suit, and I start thinking of my next target. Tonight at the museum opening, the targets may be cleaner than in the streets below, but it’s the same game of lying and stealing after all, just with a bigger payday.

    Leaving the garage in a luxury car, the headlights pass over an alley where shady business is going down. They act nonchalantly as the lights pass, but one shoves a handful of bills into a pocket, under the barrel of a gun. The Devil is very good at finding work for my idle hands.

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  6. “All Men Have Secrets”

    He woke laying diagonal across the bed; the white, goose down duvet wrapped tight; toes confined to the corner of the mattress. The late morning sun making its presence known, casting shadows off of the wings. He didn’t move – wouldn’t – it was that seldom found waking spot of bliss. And for a moment, he could smell her perfume.

    He watched the butterflies as they slowly moved around the room. What if he just stayed here? What difference would it make? How many times had he asked himself that exact question? He sat up and looked around the room – many of the butterflies were in here, those that weren’t preserved on thin wire stands, protected under glass domes, hung from the ceiling above. There were more in other rooms. Maggie was a collector – and she collected butterflies. He would tease her about being the female incarnate of Frederick Clegg – the anti-hero of John Fowles’ novel The Collector – and that she kept him prisoner with a healthy dose of chloroform each night. She’d smile and nod that tiny nod.

    He was a collector, too. Rock-n-roll records. Singles to be exact. UK singles to be precise, he had them ALL now, but it made little difference. As he rose from his cocoon, his fingertips lightly caressed the wing of the Holly Blue that stood on the bookshelf, and it crumbled to the touch. He lowered the Mason jar, from last night’s water, over the stand to preserve the three remaining segments. He missed Maggie.

    It was his fault, really, all of it. He’d come to accept that over the years. Not apologetic though – no apologies for what he’d done, only for what the government had done in his name. And when he tried, when he risked everything, the outcome had been the same. It was all for naught. What difference had it made? None.

    It was his team at the CDC that identified the IGF-1 strain. It was his team that perfected the vaccine just as the flu hit epidemic, but it was the U.S. Government that expedited delivery before conclusive tests. It was him, Dr. Phillip Cadman, who had discovered an acceleration of the strain when the vaccine was mixed with dairy products containing an IGF growth hormone. And it was Dr. Phillip Cadman who said so publicly.
    Within twenty-four hours the FDA had sided with the Dairy Council – why not, ‘Milk did a body good’ right? The CDC began immediate nationwide distribution and fired Dr. Phillip Cadman. The NSA threatened prison. The National Milk Advisory Board threatened law suits. But, none of it mattered. Maggie was now showing symptoms and left. Within ten days she was gone, within three weeks 90% of the U.S. population were dead. The CDC quarantined and closed all of the cities. None of his old team came to look for him. He was fine here – he had company.

    This morning he moved the cases containing the white winged butterflies on to the shelf in the living room when he remembered something. He checked his shelves. Forty-six record cases, labeled alphabetically. Months after the city had been closed, he had walked to Plastic Insert a little record store across town and added to – or rather, completed his collection. He opened the second case labeled “S” and took out two, both Smiths singles, of “What Difference Does it Make.” One featured a photo of Terrence Stamp, from The Collector chloroform pad in hand; and the alternate pressing showed Morrissey in a similar pose, a glass of milk in hand. A great deal of difference.

    Phillip took the Terrence Stamp jacket and placed it on the shelf between a
    pair of white winged specimens. He opened the window wide, and dropped the alternate cover to the street below. Morrissey landed face up and not spilling a drop. He looked around the room and spoke to the crowd of butterflies, “You’re all free to go, too. If you wish.” Wings fluttered around the room, as he walked to the couch, they surrounded him – none left.

    All men have secrets, Phillip thought, and here is mine – I never really cared for The Smiths.

    (very slushy) 694 words.

    jlockett59@gmail.com

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  7. Daffodils

    He blinked his eyes open, the crack in the curtain confirming it was daylight even though the darkness in his soul hadn’t lifted. Within seconds his mind was crowded with the memories of the night before, the dancing, the laughing, the snogging and later the daffodils.

    He looked on the floor and saw the petals there, the yellow so vivid in the rays of sunlight pushing through. He followed the trail they made to the bathroom, her black and white checked shirt crumpled in the corner like a marker at the half open door, giving a clue to what lay beyond.

    An image flashed in his mind and he flinched. He was sure he hadn’t done it; it had to be his overwrought imagination. It might have been what he felt like doing when she had told him, but he hadn’t put those thoughts into action…surely.

    His eyes traced the frame of the door as he recalled her pleading words.

    “I didn’t mean to Jas, I really didn’t. It was just the heat of the moment, just a kiss. Please forgive me Jas, you must!”

    He’d watch the tears fall from her eyes as he stood there in the nuddy by the bed, about to jump in, about to fulfil all his desires and hers.

    He’d thought he’d heard a whisper of it earlier at the bar, but he’d laughed it off. It couldn’t have been his Linda, she wouldn’t have done that.

    But when they’d got home her sullen mood had kept killing the spark he was trying to kindle, until the crushing confession came.

    He rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. But he hadn’t done anything, had he? Other than show her forgiveness. He’d filled each thrust with his desire for revenge, driving it home. Her moans had been good moans…hadn’t they?

    His eyes betrayed him again, returning to the bathroom door. There was only one way to find out.

    His toes met the wooden floorboards with trepidation, and they creaked his way across the room, maybe trying to speak to him, to warn him it wasn’t a good idea.

    He hovered in the opening, his eyes adjusting to the bright sunlight reflecting off the stark white tiling. He pushed the door further, letting it swing open. Her kick-pleat black skirt lay strewn under the basin, and her under things were huddled in a pile next to the toilet. He peered over the edge of the bathtub and shuddered. The long-legged hairy spider might not be able to climb the enamel sides, but it could still give an unsuspecting person a fright.

    She wasn’t there.

    He slumped, retreating out of the bathroom and falling back into bed, scuffing the daffodil petals as he went. He buried his head into a pillow, relieved but annoyed at the same time.

    She burst through the door, tray in hand.

    “I thought I heard movement. I made us some tea.”

    He peeked out from the edge of the pillow as she sat down on the bed, his black and white shirt billowing round her thighs, but not quite covering everything.

    “You alright Jas?”

    He reached out an arm and put a hand on thigh.

    “Yeah Linda, I’m alright.”

    “You’re not still angry about last night?”

    “I thought I showed you I wasn’t?”

    She grinned. “Yeah you did.”

    His hand crept up her thigh. “Do you need me to show you again?”

    She paused, her eyes sparkling. She put the tray on the floor. “Yeah go on then.”

    As she snuggled under him, his mind flashed images again and he wondered if he would have the nerve to make them memories rather than dreams this time.

    616 Words
    @PurpleQueenNL

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  8. “Idle Hands”

    Ma always says, “The devil’ll find work for idle hands to do.” So I work from the second I roll off my old quilt to the last bit of light before it disappears behind the mountain. I sweep the uneven boards of our two-room house, stomping bugs as I go. I take the clothes down the stream and scrub till my hands are raw. In the winter, the wet clothes freeze to the line.

    Some days, I don’t even wash. Ma don’t care much if I do. In fact, Ma and Pa don’t talk much ‘bout nuthin’. I’m too big to go to school anymore, ‘cause Ma tole ‘em she needed me ‘round the house. Only thing that makes life okay is Reenie next door. Reenie’s a little older than me, ‘bout eleven, but she’s small for her age. She’s got three brothers and six sisters and has to share a bed with four of ‘em.

    I dunno know how to say this but I love Reenie. She gave me my favorite skirt, polka dot bright blue with big flowers painted on. When I wear it I forget how my shrunk ol’ top rides up my belly and the coldness of my bare feet. I stole my ma’s barrette for her soft brown hair. I braid it over and over again.

    When Pa heads to the abandoned mine to hammer off enough for the stove, we run to the woods to collect horse chestnuts. We fling ‘em in the pond, then make clover chains and decorate each other. We scavenge from garbage heaps, then hitch a ride to town and smoke cig stubs from the ashtrays outside the courthouse.

    In town, we walk hand-in-hand. People always stare, but I don’t care. We swore to love forever and never be done parted. I tole her I’d take a bullet to save her. Though we fight and she makes me crazy, every night I huddle under my thin blanket and dream of her.

    Pa caught us kissing by the woodpile behind the house. He shouted, pounding his coal-grimed fist on the stovepipe. Reenie grabbed my hand and we backed against the clapboard siding, feet sinking in cold brown mud.

    Pa grabbed up his shotgun – it was filled with birdshot – and cocked it, tole Reenie to git on home now and not come back. I know he just meant to scare her but the gun went off – too close – and a red flower bloomed on Reenie’s faded blue work dress.

    I caught her – she jerked and shook in my arms, pale brown eyes staring up at me.

    Pa ran for the doctor, but the nearest one’s in Greenville, two miles away, and I know he won’t get back in time. I hum little snatches of hymns I can remember.

    I held her on that sawdusted floor till she went still. Pa found me there, two hours later, sticky-dried with Reenie’s blood, “I got the doctor. ”

    “What difference does it make? “I said.

    @ruanna3 – 500 words

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  9. They make a big deal, around these parts, of lasts. Last meal. Last mile. Last breath. Like it matters what I eat before they stick that needle in. It’s almost cruel – hey, before we fuckin’ kill you, dead, dead, deader than a goddamned doornail, let’s show you a good time and remind you of everything we’re taking away from you, forever.

    Fuck that noise. I asked for whatever slop they would serve me if they were killing me next Tuesday. I mean, I’m not one of these whiners claiming that I was screwed by my lawyer or that I found Jesus and so I’m absolved of all my sins. I did it. All of it. Each and every one of those things they charged me with. Hell, they’d missed a couple, but I confessed to those anyway. Dead is dead, might as well end it honest. I was never much of a liar, anyway – killer, thief, loser, sure – but not a liar. That was her racket.

    I didn’t go to Buddy’s looking for tail – his was a drinking bar, a place where men shut up and had their shot and a beer or two or twelve in some goddamn peace – but when a woman like Maggie sits down next to you, you notice even if you’re dead or gay. Leather and denim and fiery red hair, and she didn’t say a word. Just sat there and drank with the rest of us, until she walked out and slipped a piece of paper in my pocket.

    That first night, she did things I’d never even seen in the movies, and before the sun peeked over the horizon, I was hers. A thinking man would have asked why she’d picked me, but I wasn’t much of a thinker. And when we went out and every eye was on her and she’d do that thing that let the world know I was her man, well, shit.

    She started me off small – a bit of check-kiting here, some claims of lost merchandise there – but she was just testing the waters. It wasn’t until that day on that private beach when my groin ached and my legs were numb and my ring was on her finger that she asked me to hurt someone. An ex, Maggie had said, and one who wasn’t kind to her at the time. He needed to learn a lesson, and I was all too happy to become a teacher. She just wanted him to walk with a limp the rest of his life, but I was in love, and I brought her his balls in a jar.

    Maggie vanished for the first time then, though just for a couple of days, but I was devastated. She’d had control over me before, but now – now, I was hers to command. I don’t really like thinking about what I did for her, not in here, not without her, but at the time, it all made sense. And I didn’t ask questions.

    The first time I found her with another man, I robbed a jewelry store and brought her a couple hundred carats of please come back. The second time, two and a half million in unmarked bills. That the guys she was with died within days was a foregone conclusion, and really the whole point, when it came right down to it.

    And then it was over. I came home to her and a squadron of cops, and enough evidence that a first-semester law student could have gotten me the death penalty. She didn’t say a word that day or any of the days after. I confessed to it all to keep her safe, but she never visited me, not once.

    I didn’t fight the guards when they came to bring me to the chamber. People came to watch this kind of thing, sick fucks who thought that watching me die would mean something. I wasn’t surprised to see her there, there in the front row with the kind of man that scored women like her. Maggie didn’t wave, or even meet my eyes. I don’t suppose it would have made much of a difference, anyway. Dead is dead.

    697 words
    @drmagoo

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  10. Time Served

    When the blacktop gave way to red clay, George Acuna crouched and trailed his fingers in the damp dirt. Another two miles and he’d be home. Could have used his gate money to take a cab but rates doubled for picking up a con at the fence and drivers with the balls to come this far into the back county were non-existent. He’d walked to the bus station, ridden two hours to town, and walked from there. Fifteen miles after nine months in a cage felt damn good.

    Was late afternoon when he stepped onto the porch and through the front door. House was dark and quiet, save for the glare of the television and his father’s snoring. He moved down the hall, into his parent’s room and pushed his mother’s nightstand out of the way, feeling for the groove that unlatched the floorboards. When he found it, he took the deerskin pouch out of its hiding place and hung it around his neck, bound his shoulder-length hair in the braided red yarn and feathers, and put the boards and stand back in place.

    The television and snoring continued uninterrupted, so he headed out back to the kennel. Seeing the filthy enclosure and scrawny occupant, his gut twisted and he yanked on the lock, letting it hit the cement and bracing for the impact. What should have been eighty pounds of ridgeback barreled into him, knocking him back but not down, the dog’s enthusiasm not dampened in spite of losing half his body weight. They wrestled on the dry summer grass until they were spent.

    Heart heavy, he got up and headed to the dilapidated barn. A shallow whinny greeted him and he ran to the far stall, the dog on his heels. The buckskin had fared better than the canine because he’d had access to the overgrown arena, but the gelding was in no condition to be ridden. He slid a halter over the horse’s head, led him to the front fence, and tied him to the gatepost. Commanding the dog to stay beside the horse, he faced the house.

    For a second time, he climbed the warped steps to the decrepit porch and pushed through the scuffed front door, letting it slam behind him.

    His father coughed himself awake. “Oh, it’s you, boy.”

    He leaned against his mother’s rocking chair. “Why didn’t you write and tell me when mom died?”

    The old man reached for his beer, realized it was empty, and let it thump to the floor. “What was there to say? She’s gone and her benefit checks with her. Should have let her register you with the nation and then you’d have had money coming in when I needed it.”

    He ran a fingertip over the cord of the deerskin pouch. “I’ll get you a fresh beer.”

    “Get yourself one too and we’ll talk about the job I got lined up for you down at the sawmill.”

    He grabbed two beers, cracked them open, and went back to the living room. “I’m not stealing for you anymore, dad.”

    The old man took a long pull on his beer. “You’ll do as you’re told, boy. I won’t have you loafing about like your mother’s people.”

    Blood is supposed to be thicker than water but when it’s bad blood, what difference does it make? He took a swig of the beer, cradled the bottle in his hand so that the liquid slowly spilled from the neck, and headed out the front door. Soon as he was on the steps, he turned, struck a match, and set it to the trail of alcohol he’d left in his wake.

    Grabbing the buckskin’s lead and whistling to the dog, he started walking down the red clay road, twenty-seven years of his life going up in smoke behind him.

    – – – – –
    637 words / @bullishink

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  1. Pingback: Idle Hands | Yearning for Wonderland

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