Pen to the Paper 19: The Announcement
“You ready, Nick?” I asked, smirking devilishly.
“No. No I am not.”
“Well, TOO BAD, SUCKAAAAHH! This is what you get for knocking me out and cracking my skull!”
I turned around, smiling as the whiz of a rope pulled Nick upwards. “Little does he know, I postponed the show to tomorrow night!”
I stepped off of my elevator and onto the stage. The stage that the platform was technically a part of, but who cares about technicalities? Grabbing the microphone, I said, “Ladies and gentleman! Thank you for waiting one more evening in order to hear the results! I know, I know. My entrance was lame. The doctors told me that I couldn’t perform any more stunts for a while. He doesn’t want me to risk any further injury or brain damage. Although, I don’t know if it is possible for my brain to become anymore damaged than it already is.
“What’s that? You want to know where Nick is?”
Slowly, Nick was lowered from the ceiling. “NOT. FUNNY!” he yelled, angrily shaking his fist, which caused him to spin around in circles.
“I’m sorry, dude,” I began laughing, “I can’t take you seriously when you’re hanging from the ceiling like that, spinning around… it’s hilarious!”
“I HAVE BEEN HANGING HERE FOR OVER TWENTY-FOUR HOURS, MAN! LET ME DOWN!”
“Nah, man. Chill. Why don’t we just hang out?”
“Oh, ha ha, Caleb. Very funny.”
I slapped Nick on the back, causing him to swing. “Y’know, things could be worse. I had this big plan to have an acrobat jump from the ceiling and land in your arms, but she wouldn’t sign the papers stating that I was not liable for any injuries… Which makes sense. So, Nick, would you like to start off the show?”
Nick swung past the microphone. “Welcome t… the Pape… A show wher… piece of… rates your…”
“Well, there’s no need to swear, Nick!”
“...said cra… WOULD YOU… PLEASE!?”
“Yeah, I’ll stop the swinging for ya.” I held my arm out and slapped him on the chest, causing him to spin uncontrollably and in unpredictable patterns. “Hold onto your hats, ladies and gents! He may kick you in the face. Some of you would probably enjoy that. To that I say, I’m the famous one! Not this nerd!”
Just then, Nick came barrelling towards me. He collided with me, sending me flying. I landed in a crumpled ball across the stage. After the impact, Nick slowly stopped swinging.
“Well, the doctor may not be too happy about that. But that was awesome! Knocked the breath out of me, sure, but that was great!”
Nick did his best to lean over towards the microphone. “Now who’s ready for the announcements!?”
The crowd stared, not knowing what to think. “Nick, bro. That’s my line. That’s my thing. This is a punishment. You don’t get to be a part of this.”
“Man! What the heck are you talking about? You literally almost gave me a heart attack. I ran faster than Usain Bolt! He holds the record for the fastest speed a human has ever run! I literally was visited by the Guiness Book of World Records last week!”
“Now, if Nick would just shut his mouth, we could move on…
“Coming in third place, we have—”
“GLD’s Lost in Uncreativity. Caleb loves GLD’s work, blah blah blah. Awesome to see them back for another Pen to the Paper, et cetera, etcetera.”
“If you are just going to be a jerk, Nick, I am going to pull your rope up another ten feet and drop you. You can make comments, but you don’t have to be a jerk.”
“I’m sorry, Caleb, you know how I get when I’m tired. And, well, I really just didn’t sleep much last night due to the whole dangling up above a stadium thing… Then there’s the fact that I am hungry… And I can’t feel my toes, either…”
“Oh, I’m sorry, man. You shoulda said something! I’ll take you out to dinner after the show.”
“And you can choose the restaurant!”
“Awesome! Okay, GLD’s post was great. It’s about writer’s block, and she does a good job capturing it in a unique way, as Iamagoofball said.”
“I know that I’m not mad at you, Nick, but, like, this is my thing.”
“Oh, right. Sorry.”
“In second place, we have Huckleberry_Hoo’s post, Huckleberry’s Barefoot Jug Band. I just really enjoyed reading it.”
“Shimmy-shake, shimmy-shiny, shimmy-shake,” Nick said, barely able to contain his laughter as he squirmed in the ropes tightly wrapped around him.
“And in first we have—can I get a drum ro–”
“Zeethefoodie!” Nick blurted out, cutting me off.
“HEY! Dude. Take that back!”
“I can’t. Too late. I already said it. Now, go on, tell them the reason.”
Kicking the dirt in front of me, I said, “Because Write Without A Plan? I Always Do is great. And I really like your username.”
“Cheer up, buddy ol’ pal!” Nick said, smiling arrogantly. “There’s always next month!”
“I loved how they delved into how and why they create worlds in their head."
“As did I,” Nick said. “Using their creativity as an escape. It was a very good read. I loved it!
“Now who wants to hear some honorable mentions!?”
The crowd cheered. “DON’T CHEER FOR HIM!” I yelled. “NICK CAN’T HAVE MY SPOTLIGHT! IT’S MINE!”
“Well, someone’s a bit jealous. Fine, fine. Quit staring daggers at me. The show’s yours! Little brat. Did your mother teach you to act like that? Throwing a tantrum to get what you want… Shame on you!”
Just then, an acrobat descended down the rope and slapped duct tape to Nick’s face. Smiling, I said, “Well, well, well! How the tables have turned!” I laughed evilly. “She didn’t agree to do the stunt, but she said that she would climb down and duct tape your mouth! What’s that? I can’t hear you!
“Now, let’s get some honorable mentions. Uninterrupted by Nick.
“I loved your work, themiddlepages. That is not my chair. was great! I am sure most of us can relate to it in some way, but remembering the chair solely as your father’s chair and thinking that it could never be your chair… It was so well written. I loved it!
“That leads me to skinareng. You did not title your work, and you never finished it, but you left me hungry for more! I was sad to see it end without an ending.
“I had a few people post unfinished stories. Another story that had me hooked from the start was The Woman with the Red Hair by k_b_k. I wanted to continue reading that as well. I wanted to find out who this Mackenzie was. I wanted to know why Sandy was exploring the city, and where her explorations would lead her… If ever you continue the story, let me know! You have me hooked!
“Finally, but certainly not the last, Karoma’s What is the ideal life? was a very enjoyable read. As they wrote, I found myself trying to write what the ideal life for everyone would be. Then the ‘twist’ in the essay happened, and I realized that, yeah, they are right. There is no ideal life that fits all. I was gleaning from my ideal life and trying to conform it into something that would fit everyone. But even I, your infallible host, have things that I want in life that I know for a fact most people won’t want.
“Hey, Daisy, could you remove the duct tape from Nick’s mouth?”
The acrobat leapt onto the rope, landing on it upside down and holding on with her feet. She removed the duct tape from Nick’s face and climbed back up the rope, disappearing into the rafters.
“Do you have an honorable mention that you would like to include, Nick?”
“First, ouch. That hurt. Secondly, yes. Raybug63’s Writer’s Block stood out to me. I enjoyed it. She is very good with words, and paints the picture of a writer’s block really well. I would know. I have never written anything in my life.”
“Sure you have, Nick,” I chimed in. “You helped me write up the menu for the concession stands!
“Thank you for coming out tonight! And thank you for your patience!” I said with a bow. “I will see you guys next month! Nick, you better hope that April Fool’s isn’t a Sunday, because if it is, you’re going to be pranked so hard!”
Nick’s ropes fell off him. He fell five feet to the ground, landing on the platform next to me. Together, we waved as the crowd cheered.
“That was an odd one, Caleb. And, please, don’t suspend me midair for twenty-four hours again.”
“Yeah, sorry about that. It was funnier in my head than it probably truly was. Where do you want to eat?”
“Do you like sushi?”
“Never had it. But I will literally eat anything you put on my plate.”
Thank you for writing in my prompt about suicide. It hasn’t ended yet, but I’ve read all of you incredibly talented people’s writings so far, and I loved every single one.
Thank you for sharing your experiences. There is strength in words, and I hope you guys are okay.
My messages are always open to those who want a friend.
(p.s. There will not be a winner.)
A True Story
A close friend, Michael is his name, died from ingesting too many pills at one time in 1991.
I was asked by his family, as his closest friend to say a few words. As he was Catholic, the priest wouldn't, as in his eyes and the eyes of the church, taking one's own life was considered a sin. This is roughly what I said.
It's good to see so many of you here. I'm sure Mike would have been not only pleased, but surprised to see so many people here to pay their respects.
We all know Mike was far from the perfect person. He tried, but he did do one thing right, and that was raise three daughters to be independant, and to never back down when right. Stand your ground, he would often say.
I've know Mike the better part of twenty years and never once did I not see him try to help someone if they needed help. The old give the shirt off his back, Mike. He would give money when he could to those in need and never look for that to come back to him.
We also know how much Mike liked his weed. I stopped by a friend's house one day and Mike was sitting in the middle of the living room, toking away and he had that glazed, kicked back happy look in his eyes. He had smoked at least half a dozen joints while I was there and to be honest, I thought I was getting a contact high.
I looked at him and said, You know something, Mike, you could own a marijuana field, acres and acres of the stuff and smoke all of it and then later say, wow! I could have been rich!
You know what he said?
He said, Yeah, but where I end up going one day I can't take it with me, so might as well enjoy it while I can.
And that's about the best takeaway I can give all of you. Enjoy what you have now. Mike did.
I won't swear to this, but if he's looking down at us, or, looking up, he's in a place he feels comfortable, and probably smoking his ass off right now.
But he left a piece of himself with all of us. He touched so many lives, never once asking for anythiung in return. If it came back to him, so be it. If it didn't, then it didn't.
Mike, the father, Mike, the friend, and Mike, if you are listening, damn you for leaving us the way you did, but you did so on your terms and for that I can't fault you.
But buddy, you will be missed.
** Photo is 35 years old
I regret not walking you home that night. I regret our fight, your tears, and the phone I left on silent. If only I had cared enough to shut out my own emotions for yours. If only I had taken the bottle out of your hands sooner. I don't regret meeting you. Or falling in love with you. They were the best years of my life. I simply regret myself. And having to make you burden my pain. I wish you were still here, even if it isn't with me. And most of all, I wish I could fix my regrets.
I remember once upon a winter night, you and I. We snuck away from home, escaping to the sea. You always loved the sea.
You told me, that night, that the sea was your freedom. Your liberty, your escape. I asked you what you meant, but you only smiled into your bottle of lemonade. I let it be. I should have demanded an answer. I could have helped you.
Why didn’t you tell me then?
The sea was- no, is still your favourite. I wonder if you would have said the same in a few years as we grew up.
You were running along the shore, barefoot, with pants rolled up and light laughter fading into the night as you sprinted further away.
I ran after you. I tried to catch up, but I was always one step behind, watching your footprints be wiped away by the rising tide, the water lapping at your heels.
You kept running. Eventually, I ran out of energy. I forfeited the chase, but you kept going like you would die if you ever stopped. I asked you to stop and when you turned around for a brief moment, I saw the faint tear lines reflect in the moonlight and the look of pure terror on your face.
I shut up. I let you go.
What were you running from, Alec? Was it me? Was it stress? Work? Love, or life itself? Were you sad? Were you afraid? Why did you keep running?
Since you’ve been gone, people act odd around me. They look at me as if I was going to implode. They treat me like a fragile porcelain doll, whereas they used to give me hell for loving you the way I did. And now you’re gone, now you’ve traded in your life for this awkward, thick silence I condemn the world for.
You may have found your peace, but I will never know what you were running from that night.