Flash Frenzy Round 67

Posted: June 27, 2015 in Flash Frenzy Weekend Flash Challenge
Tags: , , , ,

Welcome to Flash Frenzy Round 67. This weekend F.E. Clark is acting judge.

Before we get started, here’s a brief reminder of the rules.

Deadline: Sunday at 6:00pm MST. You all have 36 hours to create your best work of up to 360 words (exclusive of title) and post it into the comments below. Please include your word count (required) and Twitter handle if applicable. For complete rules, click here. 

The winning author and their story will be featured as Wednesday’s Hump-Day Quickie, receive a winner’s page, and be crowned Flash Master of the Week.

Here is your prompt.

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

photo courtesy Ashwin Rao

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Comments
  1. stevenstucko says:

    SWAN SONG (360 words)

    “It’s a beer bong. It shoots a whole beer down your gullet in, like two seconds,” Brett slurred.

    “Ok, let ‘er rip.” Sharon laid down on the blanket as her two friends giggled and whispered about the boy’s tattoos.

    Brett poked the plastic tube toward Sharon’s mouth and missed, hitting her lip and causing an instant bleeding cut. Sand filled the gash and Sharon reached up and put her hand on her face. “That’s gonna leave a mark. Let’s go, Bob!”

    “It’s Brett, sweetheart. Open wider.” He popped the top of a warm Miller Lite and poured the foamy contents into the funnel. “Fire in the hole!” He laughed and winked at the two friends.

    Sharon felt gritty sand fill her mouth along with the sun-warmed alcohol. Her head pounded behind her eyes and her stomach churned. She felt a crushing weight over her body and could not move her arms or legs. A dull pain pushed hard on the back of her throbbing eyes. The sky above her swirled like a galaxy. She groaned and tried to roll on her side.

    The two friends bent down and each grabbed an arm. The three girls, all sophomores on Spring Break from Syracuse University, zig-zagged up the beach. Realizing they were going the wrong way, they turned and headed toward their blankets and backpacks further down the beach.

    Sharon lost all vision and was only aware of the music blaring from three different radios. One song was the “song of the summer,” her favorite song. Another song was one she heard at her brother’s wedding two weeks prior. Van Morrison. She danced to it with her dad because they played it at his wedding. “Mom loved this song,” he had said. The third song was only a commercial.

    Her friends laid her down on the blanket and told her to drink lots of water.

    Sharon thought of her AA sponsor and the phone call she had promised to make that morning. She thought of her Mom dying from the same disease. Sharon coughed and tasted her breakfast. A breath was a galaxy away.

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Some promises are obviously hard to keep. Initially this starts out as just a ‘fun’ day on the beach but then the back story cleverly comes through. Tragic that she should be following in her mother’s footsteps so young.

    • Pattyann McCarthy says:

      This is a great read Steven. So sad that she went the way of her mom. 😦

    • voimaoy says:

      Very brave writing–the ending is so powerful.

  2. stephellis2013 says:

    Summer Dying Fast

    355 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDogs

    The stamp on Tyler’s shoulder burned. He had been branded at birth and the mark had never bothered him before. Now it felt as if it had come alive, wriggling and squirming its way across his skin.

    Looking around the crowded beach he noticed others like him, most showing the same signs of discomfort. He tried to distract himself with music, jamming in earplugs and turning the volume to high. Jagged growls roared through his head, a pounding, relentless beat closing out the sounds of summer beneath a blanket of metal.

    But if anything, the itch grew fiercer, forcing him to stand up, move about. He walked towards his fellow sufferers, seeing as he closed in that their brands were moving, distorting, black ink turning silver, snaking its way across flesh, tendrils branching in all directions.

    Terrified, he looked down at his arms, noticed the same corruption of his own body. Then the world faded.

    A voice. “Class of 2100. A good year it seems.”

    “Do you think they’ll miss it, Peter?” asked another.

    “Miss what?”

    “This, all this. The experience of human life.”

    “No, it’ll just be another byte of data to them. A bank of man’s emotions and idiosyncrasies so that they are more responsive to our needs,” said Peter. “Don’t waste your pity on them, Leonard.”

    By now the fidgeting group had completely stilled. A dazzling display as the sun reflected off their new metallic coats. A cell phone vibrated.

    “Time to go,” said Peter, hanging up on the call. “The results of our latest in utero scans are ready for selection.”

    Leonard followed quietly, thinking of his own wife. How would she, he, cope if their unborn son fell below standard, became marked out for dehumanisation.

    Population controls were strict. The only way to become parents was to sign a contract agreeing to yield substandard offspring to the government. In return they would be allowed a specified time as a family. Leonard’s own contract gave him eighteen years.

    He glanced up at the sky, the setting sun was smearing its bloody rays against gathering clouds. He sensed a storm was coming.

  3. Pattyann McCarthy says:

    360 words
    @PattyannMc

    Some Other Time

    Gun totin’, cigarette smokin’, pot tokin’, alcohol induced, ignorant peeps. Nope. It ain’t because they tote guns; I’m favorable. En, it ain’t cause of ciggs and pot smokin’, and it definitely ain’t the drinkin’ either, I’m favorable there too. Nope, I say, it’s the ignorance. That’s what gets me. Outright ‘ignorance.’ It’s the blind eye an all that. That’s why our planet died.

    You’d think in 3054 we’d be smarter. I come from an era where choosin’ right from wrong was important. Guess we thunk Earth would take care of ʼerself. We thunk we’d be wearin’ cool plastic clothes by now and we thought, well, we thought this future of ours would resemble that ancient movie, ‘Back to the Future,’ or some shit. What? I remember that movie. They run em’ here all the time on TCM. Yup, Turner television’s here too. Full frontal nudity is commonplace prime time. My Evelyn’s prolly rolling in er grave back home.

    We should’a taken better care of that planet. I miss it damn-it. Now, I’m stuck here on this dumbass dull sphere with no colors and all these ignorant people that shipped here with me. You believe the powers that be, biggest dumbasses of all, asked me ta give up ma suspenders when I got here? They said I needed ta try an fit in. Why for fuck sake? I don’t give a good Gd, if you’ll ignore my French. I ain’t gonna walk around in no Disposies, as they call’em. They’re not plastic, but GD, they look stupid as shit! Look like diapers, and you know, I’m not apposed to be swearin’ either, it’s illegal, another GD.

    Who cares about all that BS when those same dumbasses are workin’ on destroyin’ this planet! Pretty good start too. We piled so much trash on Earth that it moved out of its gravity a millionth of an inch. One more rocket load-full, Earth’s gonna fall on us, so we ain’t got no choice but to rubbish up this planet an, it’s dyin’ already. It’s GD corrupt; people are corrupt, ta Government’s corrupt. Thank God we got ciggs, pot and booze; makes it GD tolerable.

    • stephellis2013 says:

      Ha. Shows humans don’t change, just take their baggage or rather rubbish with them and if there wasn’t any rubbish to start with they’d soon create some! Love the growly tone to this.

      • Pattyann McCarthy says:

        Thanks Steph. This is true. We just never learn. Thanks for your compliment on his growly tone. Makes me smile. 🙂

    • stevenstucko says:

      Wow, you think we’ll make it to the year 3054? Now that’s optimism. Dark and well written piece PA.

      • Pattyann McCarthy says:

        Thanks so much Steven. I suppose time will tell! I always have hope, but we will see. 🙂

    • voimaoy says:

      Love the voice in this–great character!

      • Pattyann McCarthy says:

        Thanks so much Voimaoy! He was such fun to write. I love giving dirty, gritty voices to my men!

  4. Mark A. King says:

    #LoveWins
    @making_fiction
    68 words

    Liberty stood on the shoreline of freedom.

    Corruption knelt in the detritus of discarded beliefs, which rusted like weathered beer cans held hostage by the gains of time.

    He held aloft his rose made of religion, nature and decency. But everyone saw he corrupted the words that were not his and all he held aloft was a cheap plastic tulip.

    Libby laughed, turned away and walked the coast of freedom.

  5. A V Laidlaw says:

    @AvLaidlaw

    347 Words

    All Summer Long

    Janice lay down among the sunbathers and the college kids in their baggy shorts shouting and splashing around in the water’s edge or stoking up the barbecues. Her skin tingled from the sun. No more college. No more tests, no more essays.

    The boy watched her. He sat cross-legged, shirtless, shorts worn provocatively low over his hips, and a tattoo down his arm reading “corruption” and others across his chest. Her mother would hate him. She looked across to him for a moment, then looked away again. She was interested. She was not interested. He stood up and sauntered over, kicking clouds of sand. “Want some help with your suntan lotion?” He said.

    “Are you kidding me?”

    He shrugged. “If you want to get burned.”

    Mother would really hate him.

    She let him rub lotion onto her back, fingertips surprisingly light across her skin.

    “I like your tattoos. Corruption, that’s so cool.”

    “I’ve always had these.” His fingers slipped under the strap of her top then ebbed away down her back. She let him. She was still a college kid really, still allowed to be a little crazy. There was a job somewhere ahead but for now, among the sun and the breath of the sea and the laughter and the shrieks, it seemed a long way into the future.

    “Do you go to college?” She said. “I don’t think I’ve see you around.”
    “I’m always here.”

    “I think I might go travelling.”

    “You’re going to stay here.”

    She laughed. “I can’t live on the beach.”

    “Everybody else does.”

    “What happens when the summer ends?”

    “It never has to end, Janice.”

    She rolled onto her side and scrabbled away from him. She looked at him, his eyes as steady and inhuman as the sun. “I don’t think so.” She walked away, past the crushed beer cans and ripped plastic bags, past the burning black smoke from the barbecues giving a sulphurous tint to the air, past the bodies lying pale under the sun as if they had been washed up from some shipwreck. Then she ran.

  6. Stella T says:

    @stellakateT
    335 words

    Friends Like This

    Sadie couldn’t stop smiling. This was fantastic, her first picnic on the beach with Liam. He’d bought the most amazing things in his rucksack; she’d just bought some Tesco’s finest sandwiches and a couple cans of coke. Hope he likes tuna and it was the drink he was asking for when he said bring coke. She’d never taken drugs in her life except the odd paracetamol when her head ached. Lately her head felt fit to bust. Her mother said she was doing too much, trying to impress some boy that was trouble. Today Sadie knew that all the stress was well worth it.

    Last night she watched Liam’s wife Zoë dancing. She wanted to tell her I’ve been in your husband’s bed this afternoon. She felt not a twinge of guilt. Liam loved her that was all that mattered. He was going to tell the millstone around his neck that he was leaving her when the time was right. It was difficult, they’d all gone to school together and she and Zoë were best friends. Fallout would be like an atomic bomb going off.

    Sadie wondered what the funnel and the tubing was for. Ryan just laughed, taking a big bite out of the tuna sandwich and said she’d find out later. He took off his t-shirt and Sadie marvelled at his new tattoo. Not sure why he’d picked that word, corruption in big bold letters down his right arm.

    Zoë cried inconsolably. Sadie’s mother was suicidal. Girl found on the beach with severe injuries was Sadie. She wasn’t expected to live. Police had little evidence to support foul play they thought she may have fell from the cliffs overlooking the beach party. No one had noticed her on the beach and Ryan, well Ryan he’d been working away or so he’d told Zoë who substantiated his alibi. Ryan hugged Sadie’s best friend and mother tightly. He would support them both after all he’d been Sadie’s friend too, such a lovely wee innocent girl.

  7. LAST CHANCE

    Brian S Creek
    332 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    July 17th 1998. Lake Inhians. The beach party to end all beach parties. That’s what the flyers called it. I’ll have to take peoples word for that though, because I was too busy building up courage to speak to Hannah Johnson to notice anything else.

    I can’t exactly put my finger on what it was about her, but since that day she sat at the desk next to me in Mrs Saunders English, I never had eyes for any other girl.

    Weeks later I helped her with an English project and we became friends. Of course by friends I mean she knew my name, and was never nasty to me in case she ever needed help again. And that was as far as it went. Partly because I never told her how I felt, but mostly because she’d caught the eye of our schools quarterback, Ryan Pester.

    They were the perfect high school couple and everyone loved them, everyone thought they were perfect. In my honest opinion, Ryan Pester could have done us all a favour and dropped off the face of the Earth.

    So, July 17th, 1998. The beach party to end all beach parties. More importantly it was my last chance to tell Hannah Johnson how I felt about her

    I’d been at the beach party for a couple of hours, staying off to the side, out of the way, but keeping an eye on Hannah (and Ryan). The butterflies in my stomach we doing a real number. I was beginning to wonder if Ryan would ever give Hannah some space when a couple of meat heads ran past and dragged him off to their volleyball game. Hannah watched him go and lay back on her towel, enjoying the last of the afternoon’s sun.

    I saw my chance and grabbed two beers from a nearby cooler. All I needed to do was walk on over.

    That was all. Just walk over to her.

    That was all I needed to do.

  8. CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE THING BENEATH THE SAND

    Brian S Creek
    359 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    Mike looked at all the college kids down on the beach. “We’re going to stick out like sore thumbs,”

    “We’re not here to party,” said Chris. “We have a job to do.”

    “Can’t we just get everyone off the beach?”

    “We could,” said Chris, pulling the surfboard down from the roof of the VW camper. “But not without a sane, perfectly normal explanation.”

    “Right,” said Mike.

    “Because if we shout monster?”

    “We’ll get locked up.”

    “And then?”

    “We won’t be able to help people.”

    “Exactly,” said Chris.

    The pair headed off to join the party. It didn’t take long before they started noticing strange looks and people pointing.

    Mike tried to ignore the attention. “You ever seen one of these things before?”

    “Nope,” said Chris. “But I’ve read about them. A lot.”

    A shirtless blonde guy stepped up in front of the pair. He pointed to the surfboard. “Dude, there’s no waves today.”

    “We’re not surfing,” said Chris, looking around the beach. “We’re hunting.”

    “Oh,” said the blonde guy. “Cool.” And with that he grabbed a beer and left them to it.
    “You have the device,” said Chris.

    Mike nodded and pulled something that like an eighties mobile phone from his jacket. He flipped a switch on the side and turned a dial. The air around them hummed. There was a sudden scream off to the left and party goers scattered like pigeons being chased by a toddler.

    “It’s here,” said Chris. He dropped the surfboard and stamped on it. The board shattered, revealing a large rifle, which he picked up.

    The party goers were really panicking now as something moved just below the surface of the sand. It was closing fast on Chris and Mike.

    “When I tell you,” said Chris. “Press the red button.”

    They both tensed as the shifting sand moved closer.

    “Now?” said Mike.

    “Not yet.”

    The raised line of sand was nearly upon them.

    “Now?”

    “Now!”

    Relieved, Mike pressed the red button. Several feet in front of them, a large shelled creature, with hundreds of feet and many more teeth, leapt up from the sand.

    Chris lined up the rifle. “Smile, you sonofabitch!”

    BANG!

    • Stella T says:

      haha like that film what’s it called Slithers with Kevin Bacon…. I’ve probably got the wrong title and actor 🙂 At first I thought Jaws would appear! Absolutely brilliant Chris and Mike as usual …. Well done Brian 🙂

      • The films is Tremors (Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward) and it’s awesome. B-movie classic.

        The creature was originally going to be a sand shark (hence Chris’ use of that iconic last line) but I thought I’d go with something the reader can create in their own mind instead – hence minimal description.

        Glad you enjoyed. It’s been a fun weekend doing the three Chris and Mike stories with varying word counts. Back to normal now (or as normal as it gets for those two). 🙂

    • Pattyann McCarthy says:

      This kind of reminded me of Dune. I’m digging the adventures of these two.

  9. A Time For Choosing

    You fetch up onshore, drenched, coughing the vestiges of the river’s bitterness from your oesophagus onto the jagged rocks beneath your knees. Their sharp edges are intimately acquainted with your skin. Further into the dark maw before you, you hear Hynos’ drowsy murmurings. “Not this time,” you say. Turning your left wrist, you see the raw tally marks – a cluster of raised red five-bar gates across its breadth. You run a finger over the start of the next underneath – the beginnings of a run along the length.

    “Here,” a voice says, thrusting a small token into your outstretched hand. You look towards the object gripped in your fist. Your benefactor is nowhere to be seen when your head turns again. You gaze instead into the pitch of the cave, from which audible rumbles echo intermittently.
    Walking forward, you begin to pick your path over the prone bodies, their oblivious snoring, towards the assembled Brothers and Sisters lined waiting before the entrance’s black mouth. You nod to each in turn.

    “Choose,” Lethe says, proffering two vessels, one already full to the brim. The other she bends to fill from the waters running freely to her side. Drops spill over the sides as she raises it, meeting your eyes; waiting. Your head turns, seeing the soul to your right, who slurps greedily from an identical cup, head thrust back to down its contents in swift gulps. A few seconds later he slumps and swoons. The Androktasiai carry him towards the other sleepers, all shoulders and ankles. “As ever,” one murmurs, with a sharp toothed grin, eyes glinting.

    You point at one of the cups.

    “You’re ready?” Atë asks.

    You shrug. “I want to remember.” You grasp the receptacle firmly, draining its contents. The splutters begin shortly after, though you keep the liquid down after gagging.

    “Remember,” Algea says, shaking her head. “You chose Mnemosyne; wanted everything.”

    “Careless,” say the Makhai simultaneously, smirking.

    “She’ll learn,” says Horkos.

    “She’ll know,” adds Eris. “Poor thing.”

    Your heart jumps as you feel the pressure building beneath your skull. You feel your mouth open without volition. Somewhere, a cry sounds. Someone is screaming. Someone doesn’t stop.

    (360 words)

    @FallIntoFiction
    #FlashDog

  10. “Family Time”
    @jaimeburchardt
    357 Words

    “What’s this picture, dad?”

    “Oh jeez.”

    “Bruce, how did that get there.”

    “I’m not sure, honey.”

    “Dad, mom only calls you Bruce when she’s mad.”

    “Well that’s because this picture is…umm…well it’s special.”

    “Your father’s right, sweetie. This is actually the first time we ever met.”

    “You guys met on a beach?”

    “Well, kinda. Your father and I went to a rock festival that lasted the weekend. We met, joked around, had a good time.”

    “That explains the funnel? And dad, corruption? I’ve never seen that tattoo.”

    “I’m not proud of that, son. Not proud at all.”

    “Besides the tattoo, it was still a wonderful time.”

    “Yeah it was, especially since that’s where you were—OWW!”

    “Bruce!”

    “Ow, Margo, what?”

    “That’s where I what…dad?”

    “That’s where you were—oh. Oh. Ah, shit.”

    “Way to go, Bruce.”

    “Mom, you must be pissed.”

    “Don’t use that language!”

    “Wait a second, that’s where I was…oh no. No no no. Do not tell me I’m looking at a picture of the moment I was conceived!”
    “Heavens no, sweetie! Not at all! No way—”

    “It was. Son, you’re old enough to understand.”

    “I’m fourteen!”

    “Margo, that’s old enough, right?”

    “You stupid bastard…”

    “I was conceived on a beach! How–how does—you had me next to a pile of dirty clothes and soda cans?”

    “Those aren’t soda cans, son.”

    “Bruce!”

    “What, honey? Just look how happy you were! I mean, why wouldn’t you be, you could barely put your top back on.”

    “I’m going to punch you in the neck,”

    “Son, don’t leave.”

    “You had sex in front of all those people?”

    “Heh.”

    “Ewww!”

    “That was your mom’s idea, actually. She could not be sto—”

    “It is very important to our marriage that you not finish that sentence. And sweetie, sometimes mom and dad, well we like certain—”

    “We’re freaks, son. Nothing to be ashamed of.”

    “I’m going to puke…”

    “Aim for the trash can.”

    “This is a nightmare! Bruce, really, how did this picture end up in the album?”

    ….

    “Hey bro, did you find the picture of mom and dad the moment they made the biggest mistake of their lives?”

  11. Of The Moment

    The sun is high and Hel can feel it on her skin as the beat reverberates from the sound stage. She sways a little with the rhythm, bottle in hand, feeling the moment up against her skin.

    “Hey,” a male voice says.

    “Not interested,” she replies, without looking. “Try the beer tent. You’ll score there, for sure.”

    “Cheers,” the voice replies more warmly. “Literally, I guess.”

    “Figuratively, too,” Hel responds, turning towards the man. “I guess.” She shrugs, before the corners of her mouth quirk, surveying the dishevelled dark hair and lighter eyes as she looks upward. “Hard core tat,” she appraises. “Corruption, though? Really?” She shakes her head, letting out a breath. “Classy.” Her eyes roll, as her shoulder shifts away.

    “Where exactly did you think a guy like me would hang out?” he asks, raising an eyebrow. “Kind of perfect, if you think about it. Pretty great rate of success, courtesy of lowered inhibitions..”

    “I’m sure,” Hel says, laughing openly now. “Like I said – beer tent’s where you want to be. Best of British – though you won’t need it, several ales in.”

    “Spoken like a true observer,” the dark haired male says.

    Hel shrugs. “Doesn’t take much.”

    “You haven’t asked me what I’m doing here.”

    “Besides hitting on the wrong women?” Hel asks, tone sharp. “I have already told you.”

    “Besides that,” he agrees, voice remaining level. “For what it’s worth.”

    “Is it?” Hel asks. “’Cos you can’t take a hint, can you? It’s not like I haven’t been clear. I mean – really – is it?”

    “Well, I am Corruption, as we’ve already established,” the man says, an apologetic note entering his voice. “Seeing as you were enjoying the moment, so to speak, I couldn’t resist stopping to chat..”

    “We’re done now,” Hel says, blunt. “You’re leaving.”

    “Hedonism,” he replies. “Took me a minute or so to put a name to the face. Got it now though. New one on me. Takes a careful eye – though once you know what you’re looking for…”

    “Jesus!” Hel curses, looking around hastily.

    “Long gone,” Corruption responds. “New Guard all the way, sweetheart. Get with the programme.” He smiles. “Y’with me yet?”

    (360 words)

    @FallIntoFiction
    #FlashDog

  12. voimaoy says:

    All the colors of the sun
    @voimaoy
    345 words

    This is not the beautiful beach, no glittering high rises framing that elegant curve along the lakeshore where the fashion models and celebrities come to pose. This is the faded postcard of old resort hotels, the edge of the city, the beach of the worlds. Everybody comes here.

    They have come from Mexico and Jamaica, Korea, and Cambodia, India, Ohio and West Virginia.
    It is said there are jobs here. The winters are cold, but the summers are sweet. It is possible to live here.

    Here comes a young mother, her hair the color of dry straw. She’s feeling self-conscious in shorts and a baggy t-shirt, holding her little boy’s hand. She looks wistfully at the teenage girls, showing off in tiny bikinis. This is their moment. Next year, or in a few years, they will be like her. The young father follows with the beach towels. He glances at the summer girls, who could help it? He takes a long look at the mother of his child. She is the music playing at the concession stand–all the songs of summer.

    The Drifters are singing “Under the Boardwalk” as toddlers chase the waves like sandpipers. In the water, old men with big bellies float like whales.

    Two middle-aged men walk by, hand in hand. A woman in a sunhat gathers beach glass.

    Gulls swoop down for french fries and dripping ice cream cones.

    Further along the beach some older kids have found a tide pool, filled with floating fish. “Why don’t they swim?”

    A sudden, high-pitched shriek as a little girl realizes she has almost stepped on a piece of broken glass. Grownups rush to her aid. The parents do not speak English. A kind older lady smiles reassuringly. “It’s not even a scratch. You’ll be fine, honey.”

    The lake is a mirror, sparkling in the sun, the ancient promise of sunlight on water.

    And all the day long there are the colors of the sun, the sand, the water, the waves.

    Everybody comes here. They long to hold the sun in their hands.

  13. mtdecker says:

    Re-made Man
    348 words
    @mishmhem
    #FlashDogs

    I always thought corruption was easy to spot, and even easier to avoid. I told myself that if I kept my nose pointed in the right direction, didn’t let people whisper in my ear… I’d be fine.

    I was also very naive.

    Corruption didn’t come bounding in saying “Here take this $200 to look away.” It didn’t come with any sense of peer pressure, no warning sign saying “Slippery Slope Ahead.”

    No, it crept up on me, slipping in when I didn’t expect it. It looked like a friend checking in to see how I was doing. It was more of a courtship: a gentle touch here, a small smile there. It was like a heady wine that went down smooth and left no burn. Before I knew it, I was in bed with the wrong people.

    “I need you to do me a favor…” That was the phrase I’d been expecting but instead it whispered from my own mind. “I want to help these people.”

    There are more ways to buy a man’s vote— subtler ways than giving him money, sway his beliefs… rebuild them to your needs. Looking back its easy to see now.

    I didn’t believe I’d been bought, but I had…

    The thing is… I’m clean. No Mercedes in my driveway, no house I can’t afford… no accounts in the Grand Caymans.

    My constituents are trying to figure out if they should congratulate me or pity me for being so stupid. The one good thing to come of all this: they avoid me.

    I’m not ‘dirty’, but they don’t want to get any on them so they leave me alone. After the dust settles, I won’t be winning any elections.

    I’m not where I wanted to be, but I am where I need to be. One phone call and an email later and its done.

    By this time tomorrow I will be a memory. One sworn testimony, and a chance at a new life.

    A new name, a new me – a wiser me who won’t make the same mistake.

    Next time… I’ll get paid.

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