Throwback Thursday: C.S.I.

Originally posted on July 29, 2017, making a bit light of my depressiveness.

Two a.m. was never an easy time to go to a job. But here they were again, hedged by police tape walls and squinting in the dark illuminations of floodlights.

“It don’t look good, Hurles.” He dragged at his e-cig, blew the filtered, no-emission, smokeless, digitally-altered remains of what may have been fumes into the air as dramatically as he could, and gave his partner a serious look.

Julie Hurlesman turned to the prostrate female form on the floor before rolling her eyes, to give him his illusion of dignity. “You’re right, Tray.” She responded cooly. “I don’t see any silver lining in this case.”

Richard Tracy shrugged away from the wall he’d been moodily supporting and effectively shrugged his oversized lapels higher round his neck. Finally abandoning the e-cig to one of many pockets within the long coat, he instead used his right hand to pull his hat brim even tighter down his brow. Satisfied with the final results, he hunched over to stand behind the squatting Hurles.

“Tray,” Hurles said with a decade of patience, “You’re blocking the spotlight again.”

Tray pretended concentration on their assignment as he sidestepped a foot to her left. She pretended not to notice, then intently tried to eliminate distractions as she began her usual examination.

Swirling dust motes and remnant e-cig particles outlined the shadow puppet hand orchestrations of her careful, thorough search. Tray looked on, more distracted in his somber thoughts of how he could finally get Hurles to use the nickname he kept asking her to, instead of the one his mother always used.

“Aha!” Hurles whispered. Tray immediately drew closer, even forgetting to flail his coattails behind him as he squatted next to her elbow. Hurles never made a verbal exclamation unless she’d found something really important.

“What?” He asked excitedly, also forgetting to use his gruff voice.

Infinitely meticulously, Hurles lifted the damp, lanky, unwashed locks from the pale face of the prone body before her. Damp eyelashes bordered a bottomless pool of darkest sadness. A deep brown iris contracted slightly at its sudden exposure to the glaring light beyond Hurles and Tray. The lashes slowly closed and reopened in calculated effect of misery. The rest of the long, drawn face held its agonized expression.

Tray took in a surprised breath. This was important. “You don’t mean -?” He began, turning to Hurles and regaining some of his former composure by raising his thick eyebrows over a fierce glare of suspense.

“Yes, I do,” Hurles told him, meeting his eye and successfully keeping her expression both neutral and normal for the circumstances.

They simultaneously moved their faces slightly to watch, as the woman on the floor heaved the heaviest sigh in human existence. She lifted just enough to turn away from the two investigators, her hair falling naturally from Hurles’ fingers like rain-soaked tree fronds. She lay still once again.

Hurles withdrew her hand, and unobtrusively wiped it on her jeans. She stood. Tray followed suit.

“Another one,” Tray concluded in a deep, gravelly voice. “A victim of her own emotions.”

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Where IS My Mind?

“With your feet in the air and your head on the ground…”

Most of my day is spent in trying to avoid reality. Through the combined efforts of little sleep and little to stimulate my brain, I’ve successfully dodged true feelings and their accompanying pains for years. Through the added repressive means of modern technology and instant entertainment, I’ve created a virtual mindspace that is more alive than my physical one.

“Your head will collapse / But there’s nothing in it…”

Since entering the world of blogging; and, especially, the community of mental illness support, I’ve learned some terms for what I do: numbing, depersonalization, and (above all) disassociation.

“And you’ll ask yourself: Where is my mind?”

In the beginning, I entered the mind fog willingly. -So I thought. Depressed, repressed, lonely, and mind-numbingly bored at my day-to-day activities; I sought constant distraction.

“Try this trick and spin it…”

I thought numbing was better. In some ways, it was; it is. Because I felt nothing, I did not lash out in anger from the frustrations. Because I felt nothing, I could not feel disappointment. Because I felt nothing, I could not feel the crippling sadness.

“Where is my mind?”

Except that I still could.

“Where is my mind?”

As such, I have made various attempts to kind-of, sort-of climb out of my muddy hole. I read Brené Brown’s recommendations, followed her advice …and really offended a neighbor by being myself. I started counseling and some hormone therapy …then reverted back to old habits and dropped the hormones so that I wouldn’t accidentally birth a hermaphrodite.

Most of my days are spent in trying to avoid reality. On the rare occasions that I surface, life feels like the restaurant scene in “Sherlock Holmes” (2009). Unlike the genius that is Holmes, however; I do not note and absorb everyone’s mistresses, limps, or chalk spots. Instead, I feel overstimulated by emotions; in particular, everyone’s emotional reactions to me.

I also feel overwhelmed at the repetitive cycle of life, and the prospect of more of the same for the foreseeable future.

Do I want my mind awake? I’m not so sure. There doesn’t seem much to wake to. Hence, the continued withdrawal and disassociation.

“Where is my mind?” Somewhere inside. Probably.

Do you experience similar non-feelings? Have you, in the past, and now you do not? Is reality worth the cost?

—————-

On a happier note, here’s what I threw together this week:
Wednesday, March 20: Me and me debated who has it harder in “THE Battle of the Sexes.”

Thursday, March 21: “The Cure for Depression: Simply, Joy,” a suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, March 22: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Doug!

Saturday, March 23: Announced the 19th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is Unrequited Love. PLEASE ENTER!
I also finally wrote up an entry for The Annual Bloggers Bash Competition, “Silent but Tardy.”

Sunday, March 24: “Farmer Henry,” a flash fiction piece for Carrot Ranch’s writing prompt.

Monday, March 25: An inspirational quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

Tuesday, March 26: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Seven.”

Wednesday, March 27: Today.

I also wrote stuff at my motherhood site; like “Pinterest Mom or Sane Parent?,” “A Very Unmerry Birthday to You,” and a funny quote about mothers.

 

*Credit to the Pixies’ amazing song, “Where Is My Mind?”

Raw Ramblings

My mouth says I’m fine as my pain twists the tone and you hear it in the release sometimes you ask no really what’s wrong but I can only say

Nothing that’s all I feel by choice empty my mind my feelings most especially my soul anything that might be there has been bled dry and I am a skin of a person fluttering in the wind of others’

Change never for me every day the same drudgery-papered walls never the front of the parade nor even the front of the convoy but always the crew walking just behind to scoop the waste of others’

Happiness a dream or conciliatory statement I say to defer inquiry but I can only be happy if you are because I am the receiver of broadcast emotions buffeting my over-sensitive antennae and I really just say I am so you’ll stop asking because

It’s easier this way you’ll leave me alone and that’s where I want to be I think and yet I do not because thinking would mean I am alive and I try and try to not be alive and thinking and feeling and

Hurting so much hurting but soon I will sleep after not sleeping because here in limbo I can handle it until I can’t but the between is best and where I can numb and look up at you and say

I’m fine.

WINNER of the Fourth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Sheeeesh, people. Though not as close a tie this time, I still think first place was split about three ways. I had to delay the contest to allow for time to climb the highest mountain in Utah, in order to consult with The Guru of Poetic Awfulness. Going off his advice, plus past winners and slight aspects I liked more than others… the winner is:

O! Radio!

by Michael B. Fishman

The radio’s antenna is bad.
When it first broke: “Oh, egad!”
I fixed it with glue,
what else could I do?
Huh?

My head: stuffed like the brick. Oh, antenna, desist.

With frustration I pace, “Ah,” I to frustration. “Why do I tarry? Why not I make merry?”

Dash the radio. (Mary?) Hosanna! From where? From my despair do I dare to pose such a posing question?

Remove your madding thoughts. Becalm like the bluebird.

Explain, voice, my choice. Will my radio play? Will my hips again sway?

I wait sans answer.

The faucet drips leathery through my vino-filled veins. The antennaless radio’s static-buzz, like the vivific current of the vacant velvety Vermillion river vaguely venturing via Verndale home to Victoria.

(plop . . .) Oh Mary, forsake me not.

(buzz . . .) Yet I stand

(plop . . . ) like the deerskin covering the thorny tree,

(buzz . . .) forsaken.

Congratulations, Michael! You are the Most Terrible Poet of the week.

Michael’s poem almost had it all: awful meter, a tirade of alliterations, made-up lingo, and plenty to get me thoroughly lost and wishing to smack my head against a good pentameter to make it all stop.

For the almost-first-placers, great job! I had to really dig to pick a winner from amongst you.

For the not-almost-first-placers, you still write too pretty. Try breaking out of a pattern, making fun of poetic angst, or leaving readers hanging at the end of a perfectly reasonable stanza like an unresolved chord progression.

Thank you all for entering! PLEASE enter again next week. I will post a prompt tomorrow more promptly than I did today.

Here are the other fantastic (and terrible) entries, in order of submission:

Untitled piece

by Ruth Scribbles

The foundation stays broke

Doors and Floors

Sway and sag

Stick and scrape

Tilt and twirl

Well if you are a marble

You twirl from one side

Of the room to another

Then the windows

All are stuck shut

Foundations are finicky

This poem is icky

—–

Untitled piece

by D. Wallace Peach

Fie to electric appliances
A freezer of thawed burger
Lightless, coldless, and iceless
Spoiled-milk refrigerator

Woe to the washing machine
Growing microbes of mold
A soup of dank undies and socks
Mildew makes me blow my nose

A pox on the dishwasher
I weep at the caked-on guck
Plates spotted like a chicken
It won’t scrape off and that really sucks

I could go on and on forsooth
About the vacuum clogged with mutt hair
The blender, micro, crockpot, and other stuff
But my appliances are dead and don’t care

—–

WonderWoman and SuperGlue.

by Bladud Fleas

Oh, Honey!
what did you do
with the glue?
In the drawer?
Oh, heck, it
seems to be
stick-
ing!
Yes, it’s stuck!
good and true,
Hon, that one where
you put the glue.
You did what with
the glue top, Dear?
Oh.

—–

The Banshee Toilet

by Peregrine Arc

Oh woe is me, for I dearly have to pee.
But the truth is, our toilet, why, it’s a banshee.
Every time I go to attend the flow,
it gives off an unearthly bellow!
Eeeek, it cries, after I thrust the lever down.
Eeeek, it sounds, down the hall and across the town.
What is one to do, when nature calls and your knees are crossed?
When you’re hopping around downstairs, until you’re suddenly quite lost?
Grab some toilet paper, my dear
and don’t let the Banshee know your fear.
For urinary tract health is a real concern.
Never hold it, our mothers said–listen and you’ll learn.

—–

That Object That Always Breaks in My House

by Bruce Goodman

Day after day, at home, the same thing breaks;
‘tis not the dawn that breaks o’er yonder hill,
(although of course it does for goodness sake),
‘tis something else that is my bitter pill.

Perhaps my car doth brake when I come home,
but that’s a different spelling, I perceive.
The brakes of cars could break, as could a drone’s,
but that is not the break that is conceived.

The thing that almost daily breaks that’s mine
pains me to the core and can’t be glued.
It’s not the breaking eggs at breakfast time,
nor be it breaks for lunch to eat some food.

Know when you leave for work and we’re apart,
each day, and all day long, you break my heart.

—–

Untitled piece

by TanGental

When I come back as a potter
In the next like, I will stop
My nemesis that makes me utter
rude words; the curse of the china tea pot.

The lid never ends up in its groove
It just follows its own trajectory
As if it just has to prove
Its aim is it’s out to get me

into trouble. I’ve dropped it more times
than the cups it has brewed
And while I really don’t like to whine
If the tea ends up stewed then I’m screwed.

I’ve repaired the lid, I’ve even soldered the spout
When they try and stop me, I cry ‘get off me’
I just have, on my own, to sort this mess out
After all if I don’t then the alternative is we will just have to drink coffee…

—–

Optically Challenged

by Jon

Called CD player on the box,
that should have been a clue;
The gadget oughtn’t be
considered as having
the remotest thing to do
with performing any function
‘ere it went kerploo

—–

Ode to dirty house

by Ruth Scribbles

Oh house you are dirty
The dust is flirty–flurrying
Finding its way up my nose
Ahhhchoo

The crumbs are thirty or forty
Too many crumbs
The rubbish is overflowing

Where are my cleaning fairies
When I need them.
Dirty house I hate you

Please, please, please enter next week’s contest. Some of you just need to tweak your poetic taste buds down a level or two. Do not try for merely day-old leftovers; try for yesterday’s lump of green putty you found in your refrigerator one midwinter’s morning.

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WINNER of the Third Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Oh, my freakin’ hailstones! I haven’t laughed this much since the last time I was able to watch a comedy without children interrupting. So -yeah, years.

You guys did SO WELL writing terrible haiku! Please believe me that the winner was a really really really really really tough decision.

And it was:

Appalling falling snowflakes

by Bruce Goodman

The falling snow’s a
floccinaucinihili-
pilification.

Bruce actually wrote eight entries for this contest. Be sure to read the rest of his stanzas that follow this one (below). Bruce has entered every contest so far, but his poems were just too good to win.

Congratulations, at last, Bruce. You really made me cringe -especially because I had to count syllables for floccinaucinihilipilification. This is, in fact, a word. It means ‘the action or habit of estimating something as worthless.’ Touché.

Bruce Goodman is The Most Terrible Poet of the Week.

For the rest of you: wow. If I could award prizes after first place, I wouldn’t even go that far down. I wanted to award 1.1 place and 1.2 place and such; the terribleness was that close of a contest! I just loved the terrible adjectives; the horrible descriptors; and the no-good, very bad subject matters.

For your reading pleasure, then, here are the close contenders in order of when they were submitted:

It’s snowing on the eucalypts aka gums

by Bruce Goodman

Snow is falling down
like toothpaste on a toothbrush.
Shame I have no teeth.

—–

Falling Snow

by Ruth Scribbles

The falling snow is
Falling and falling and down
Fifty miles an hour

—–

Appalling falling snowflakes

by Bruce Goodman

The falling snow’s a
floccinaucinihili-
pilification.

It is all fluffy;
soft as the down on a dead
duckling that’s all stiff.

We made a snowman
and used our frozen dead cat
for the snowman’s hat.

We used grandma’s skull
for our snowman’s head; the same
for Autumn’s scarecrow.

She has a skull for
all seasons, has dead granny.
(We took the brains out).

In Spring it sprouts seeds,
and in Summer we use it
for a cricket ball.

Fa la la la la
Appalling falling snowflakes
Fa la la la la.

—–

Untitled piece

by Violet Lentz

tropical island temptress
so heartless- so cold
she wept tears of falling snow

—–

They Scold:

by Jon

Cold are the undead
The flakey white stuff is snow
falling on zombies

—–

Untitled piece

by Michael Fishburn

I’m watchin’ snow fall.
Snow is rain, but frozen, yup –
and it really sucks.

Untitled piece

by Michael Fishburn

Hope the snow keeps up.
Really? Why would you want that?
Then it won’t come down!

—–

Untitled piece

by Geoff Le Pard

why does snow always fall?
it never stumbles and rights itself
before moving on

—–

FALLING SNOW

by FRANKLY

Ugly miry wet
Embalming souls with icebergs
To die frozenly

—–

SNOWY NOSE

by Babbitman

White stuff, look at it;
it’s all over the place but
it ain’t cocaine, mate

—–

Untitled piece

by Jessica Peterson

Come on in; boots off
Where did all my carrots go?
Go warm up your hands

Don’t be shy! Come back tomorrow and enter next week’s contest!!

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WINNER of the Second Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Winner

(What? Did you think I was going to keep you in suspense?)

THE SOUR GRAPES OF WRATH

by Babbitman

There are green ones
And red ones
But sometimes they are so dark that they are pretty much
Black
Oh, so black.
And dark.
Like my heart.
Since you’ve been gone.
You peeled grapes for me.
Which was jolly nice
Because
I really didn’t like the skins
Which
Used to get stuck in my teeth
In the gaps
And underneath
My tongue.
Somehow. Don’t ask me how.
I’m not a dentist.
And now the skins
Are giving me grief again.
Such grief.
Beyond belief.
And they’re not very sweet.
I would have said bitter
And thrown them in the litter
bin
But actually they’re probably really
Just sour.
Like my mood.
Unpleasant food.
And it’s because of you.
That I’m sour.
Like these grapes.
And I hate
You.
So there.

I had a really difficult time choosing a winner. I had to flip a four-sided coin to determine who got it. Yes, a four-sided coin is a thing. Yes, that means that the more-than-four entries were still too pretty. Get more angst, guys.

To those who entered and did not get first place but were still terrible: great work! I cringed so much I almost stopped laughing out loud.

As to you, Babbitman, the little extra oomph that bumped you up to first (besides winning the imaginary, impossible coin toss) was your random references to things that still managed to make me think of bad poetry clichés. Add that to the terrible meter and line interruptions (present in a few others’ entries) and I nearly had to go get a breath of fresh prose to recover.

So, congratulations! You are the most terrible poet of them all for this week.

Here are the other terrible poetry submissions, in order of when they were submitted:

Sour Grapes

by Bladud Fleas

A bunch of your finest my good woman
if you don’t mind
O, your last lot left me little lips a bit puckered
Nope, no probs! assuredly
Honestly,
I didn’t want them anyhow.

—–

Untitled piece

by Nitin

Those grapes are sour
I cannot reach them
O Alas! O Alas! O Sigh!
Death O Death grows nigh!
And my need grows by
the daily hour
I said, ‘So, the curtain
doesn’t match them drapes,’
And for that this,
This punishment! This poverty!
O Star! O heavens! O clouds!
My freedom! My liberty!
Gone!
Taken and now as I’m tied to these
Bedposts
I writhe! I writhe! I writhe!
Them who said ‘Ginger’s have no soul,’ were talking no myth!
O Alas! O Alas! O beautiful star!

—–

Sour Grapes

by Bladud Fleas

O the grape has a pip you know
known as a seed sometimes
and the sourest grape
has the sourest indeed
one that can even make a grown man’s lips bleed
into a conveniently placed hankerchief
if he has one
not all men carry them these days
the apes
Neanderthals
with their grapey palate
like being stuck on the mouth with a great huge wooden mallet
those grapes.

—–

It Follows

by Jon

Sour grapes
Bitter fruit
Ingratitude
Vomited heavenward
Raining down
Staining, rude
Creasing frown
Crass, crude
Ugly festering
Attitude

—–

Untitled piece

by Bladud Fleas

When I’m lying in my hospital bed
don’t bring me grapes!
O bring me pineapples, melons and avocados instead
and apples red (and strawberries because they’re also red)
And lemons and bananas from the capes
(O and I just remembered raspberries are red too)
bring those
But not more grapes
Can you pull those drapes for me?
That’s better, now I can see
O no, are those for me?
Take
them
away
Come back
another day with some other fruit
or a carrot yeah I really don’t mind vegetables

—–

Untitled piece

by Masercot

I lost the race
but that’s okay because the trophy had a stupid face
and the meager prize purse
was even worse…

—–

Sour Grapes

by Ruth Scribbles

My mommy said

Smile

No sour grapes

Allowed

Why? I said

If I smile

You will see them

on my teeth

Ps. This is terrible Ug

—–

Sour Grapes

by Bruce Goodman

I refuse to obey rules –
especially for bad poetry.
Some might think it’s really cool
to have a rule
but personally I think it’s a load of bull

Some might think this excellent (some might say brilliant)
poem is revenge
for not winning last week’s poetry-that-sux competition.
But I refuse to obey rules
even when I’m driving a car
Ha ha ha

(I would’ve put “sux” at the end of the line but couldn’t think of anything that rhymed with it).

This could be construed as being sour grapes
but the expression “sour grapes” is a cliché.
But hey!
Hang loose.
Bruce
can screw up his face just as well with lemon juice.

—–

Untitled piece

by Fractured Faith Blog

Sour Grapes
Sour Grapes
Oh God
This was a mistake.
Gag my mouth with duct tape
But now it’s too late
I’ve entered the contest
My poem is a right mess.
Sour Grapes
Sour Grapes
Grapes which are not sweet
Are usually sour.
Fin

—–

Untitled piece

by Furious Pockets

“Why am I not married?”
Some complain, and in an attempt to drain the pain, they exclaim,
“It’s caused by a culture of rapes!”
But I know that’s just sour grapes.

I am also terribly sorry for sending this out so late. The oldest and I went out for our traditional ‘Black Friday’ shopping of going to the local Smith’s Food and Drug to get free donuts at 7 a.m. Any other Black Friday-ing is madness.

I’ve come home, recovered a bit, and determined that I ought to use a fat chair next time I’m post-op.

Merry Thanksgiving to you all, and be sure to enter next week’s contest!

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WINNER of the First Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest

Before you scroll down to see if you’re on the list-

I SAID WAIT!

I just wanted to say that you are all terrible at terrible poetry. Seriously.

Like, you actually have meter, and rhyming, and it all makes sense. Some of you need to go back to a high school poetry class and learn some more unnecessary emo and angst.

Given that, you all lose. Try again next week.

Okay, okay. Really, though, I had a difficult time choosing. Given the prompt and parameters, I tried to pick who I thought seemed to be trying to consider thinking about the possibility of imagining a terrible way to construct a poem.

So…

Winner

Elective Sugary

By Bladud Fleas

I know you can’t cure dyslexia with a knife.
So why, you ask, am I lying here?
About to go under and risk life,
T’was for something I hold much more dear:
It’s chocolate! and candy! and cake!
Well, anyone can make a mistake!

Whenever I have entered writing contests, I agonize over why didn’t I win? I understand that contest hosts/hostesses often get a whole pile of crap and then don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by pointing out the obvious.

No, that wasn’t the case here, and isn’t the case where my writing submissions are concerned (I hope). I’m just rambling. I also want to be certain I tell the winner why I picked his or hers every week.

So… I want Bladud Fleas to know that I picked his because I got confused reading it. And I appreciated his clever misspelling of ‘surgery’ to go along with the bit about dyslexia. It’s a bit too pretty, as I mentioned earlier, but well done and all that. 🙂

Everyone else: go visit Bladud‘s site. He’s way too underappreciated by the internet. And, read the other entries below. They are listed by order of submission, not preference.

You are all very, very clever poets. Shame on you.

Elective surgery

By Bruce Goodman

I hop to God no one has to go through what I went through:
having a leg cut off.
And having both arms surgically removed might look ‘armless
but I’m not applauding.
I don’t see why it was necessary to remove both eyes
when one was already blind.
All I asked the plastic surgeon for my elective surgery was to
“Make me like a painting.”
I never meant Picasso.

 

Elective Surgery

By Bladud Fleas

“Two men to push a gurney?”
Enquired the recumbent Ernie
Only one to push him back,
And another with his bits in a sack.

 

Untitled piece by D. Avery

I decided to have my nose removed to spite my face
Now had to decide on just the right place
To have this delicate procedure done
that my nose might smell but never run
This must be the place, everyone dressed in white
but then those cleavers gave me a fright
These weren’t doctors, they were butchers of meat
And it was too late for me to retreat
There went my nose, thrown into a pile
And then my lips, with a bloody smile
One by one I wholly became parts
It is true to say that I had lost heart.

 

Boob Job

By Karen

I always knew I’d go under the knife
For a bigger chest, it was worth the strife
My meagre A cups are not what I want
But something much bigger that I can flaunt
Should I stop at a D or maybe an F
Or go even larger and really impress?

 

Untitled piece by Jon

Nip, tuck
Trust to luck
mirror says yuck
Nip, tuck
try it again?
third time’s the charm?
what’s the harm?
mirror’s alarmed

Thank you so much to everyone for playing along! Come back tomorrow for next week’s prompt!

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Heavenly Upheaval

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Miniscule man, pleading    up    up     up
To heaven’s crying firmament;
Sobbing down cemented sides
Of the citadels of shadowed faith.

No comfort here, outside halls of hell
Topped by stone-shaped demons;
Leering, spouting speakers are they,
Grotesquely grinning a gurg’ling flow.

Their curling tongues lick sewer lies
That wash no sin, only pointed horns;
Artistic expressions of monsters
Spitting heaven’s waste   down    down     down.

Timid heaven-bound thoughts falter,
Deluged in gargoyle vomit:
Mocking faith-dead mental misery
With beast-retched waste water words.

 

In response to The Literati Mafia.

C.S.I.

Two a.m. was never an easy time to go to a job. But here they were again, hedged by police tape walls and squinting in the dark illuminations of floodlights.

“It don’t look good, Hurles.” He dragged at his e-cig, blew the filtered, no-emission, smokeless, digitally-altered remains of what may have been fumes into the air as dramatically as he could, and gave his partner a serious look.

Julie Hurlesman turned to the prostrate female form on the floor before rolling her eyes, to give him his illusion of dignity. “You’re right, Tray.” She responded cooly. “I don’t see any silver lining in this case.”

Richard Tracy shrugged away from the wall he’d been moodily supporting and effectively shrugged his oversized lapels higher round his neck. Finally abandoning the e-cig to one of many pockets within the long coat, he instead used his right hand to pull his hat brim even tighter down his brow. Satisfied with the final results, he hunched over to stand behind the squatting Hurles.

“Tray,” Hurles said with a decade of patience, “You’re blocking the spotlight again.”

Tray pretended concentration on their assignment as he sidestepped a foot to her left. She pretended not to notice, then intently tried to eliminate distractions as she began her usual examination.

Swirling dust motes and remnant e-cig particles outlined the shadow puppet hand orchestrations of her careful, thorough search. Tray looked on, more distracted in his somber thoughts of how he could finally get Hurles to use the nickname he kept asking her to, instead of the one his mother always used.

“Aha!” Hurles whispered. Tray immediately drew closer, even forgetting to flail his coattails behind him as he squatted next to her elbow. Hurles never made a verbal exclamation unless she’d found something really important.

“What?” He asked excitedly, also forgetting to use his gruff voice.

Infinitely meticulously, Hurles lifted the damp, lanky, unwashed locks from the pale face of the prone body before her. Damp eyelashes bordered a bottomless pool of darkest sadness. A deep brown iris contracted slightly at its sudden exposure to the glaring light beyond Hurles and Tray. The lashes slowly closed and reopened in calculated effect of misery. The rest of the long, drawn face held its agonized expression.

Tray took in a surprised breath. This was important. “You don’t mean -?” He began, turning to Hurles and regaining some of his former composure by raising his thick eyebrows over a fierce glare of suspense.

“Yes, I do,” Hurles told him, meeting his eye and successfully keeping her expression both neutral and normal for the circumstances.

They simultaneously moved their faces slightly to watch, as the woman on the floor heaved the heaviest sigh in human existence. She lifted just enough to turn away from the two investigators, her hair falling naturally from Hurles’ fingers like rain-soaked tree fronds. She lay still once again.

Hurles withdrew her hand, and unobtrusively wiped it on her jeans. She stood. Tray followed suit.

“Another one,” Tray concluded in a deep, gravelly voice. “A victim of her own emotions.”