Hey, folks. Here are the finalists of the Sloth round of the Deadly Sins contest. As usual, the entries were great and only the work of the crack team of judges (with assistance of the writers themselves) narrowed the field. I’ll include the stories here again, along with the poll, so that you don’t have to search for them. Because of the holiday this week, I am extending the voting days until Monday, July 9 at midnight. I’ll be out-of-town, and likely off-line. You may vote once per day.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Inertia By MJ Monaghan
Jason sped down the busy street as he ran his normal 10-mile route through the small beach town. The salt air refreshed and invigorated him. Back in the apartment his roommate Paul was debating what to do. His head churned with lists full of things to do, and unfinished projects waiting for completion.
Paul continued to be amazed by Jason’s perseverance. He had way more on his plate than Paul, but he still managed to get almost everything done on a daily basis. And Jason didn’t just “do things.” He did them all successfully. He ran 10 marathons in a year, each time bettering the last. College was completed in three and a half years. The 1968 Mustang “project car” his dad gave him – he restored it in a summer.
This of course drove Paul totally crazy, wondering why he couldn’t get anything accomplished.
*** Paul stayed up past 2 am every night, and slept through the entire morning.
His day started slowly between 12:30 and 1 in the afternoon. Paul would flip on the television and just “catch a quick half hour of news.” That was followed by watching an hour of Law and Order. Before he knew it, it was 4 pm.
Paul continued to beat himself up. He pondered:
How many stones could the Egyptians have moved in the time I’ve wasted? How far would Hannibal have marched?
What if Leonardo Da Vinci or Michelangelo cruised through life without any dedication to making the most of their time? What would we have? Utter rubbish.
Momentum, inertia – two words Paul kept hearing in his stuck mind. He needed a push, an event that could get him out of this funk. But days turned into weeks, and then months. Paul built up piles of wasted time.
It was an act of desperation.
Jason didn’t know what hit him. Didn’t know that his words …
As Jason finished up his afternoon run, he entered the apartment, and explained to Paul how great he felt, and what he would be doing that afternoon.
Muscles twitched as Paul picked up the frame holding Jason’s college diploma. Blood erupted from Jason’s head as he fell to the ground.
No pulse. Jason was dead.
In a way, Paul was finally happy. He would have 25 years-to-life to think about what he would do each day, and not have to worry about whether he got it done, or not.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
from Audrey at Dangerously Daydreaming:
The Big Kid
Joey woke up sore, feeling like he’d been run over by a dump truck. Falling off a jet-ski at 25 mph can do that to you. He felt a tinge of guilt about running the jet-ski into the dock but only the fiberglass edge was damaged really. And besides, the jet-skis belonged to a friend with WAY more money than he would ever have. “It was fine.”
Splayed across his bed, Joey could hear his grandma calling for him. It was almost noon. He remembered when her health first started failing years ago. It started with a bad fall and broken femur, and just went downhill from there. Now she required constant care around the clock and Joey had stepped in to do it, partly because he couldn’t seem to hold down a regular job and partly because it freed him to go out a play more. More time on dirt bikes, more time grinding rails on his skateboard, and now that summer was here more time to jet-ski on the lake. He was free with few responsibilities, plenty of time to goof off. But grandma was yelling for him to come downstairs again. Another moment of waiting wouldn’t kill her he thought as he rolled to his side.
For a while he had tried to work and attend college, but it was just too hard, everything was hard. Nevermind that most of his classmates managed to do it, he just ended up too distracted by awesome things to do. The one job he’d kept for more than a year had fired him after a few months of showing up an hour late each shift. He’d seen it coming. But it was so hard to get up in the mornings. He moved back in with his parents. His mom said he was lazy, but she welcomed him back with open arms. There was grandma calling again, and he couldn’t imagine what her rush was this morning.
Anyway, not long after that job went down the tube, Joey started caring for his grandmother. His grades in college plummeted. Again, he didn’t have enough time in the day to get his epic play time in, watch out for his grandma, and study. “It’s just harder for me than it is for other people.” Thankfully, taking care of grandma was an easy gig. She slept in until the afternoon which worked great for him, they would watch tv all day, and once his mom came home from her job, he would hand grandma off to her and play for the rest of the day. It was a good deal. One day grandma would pass away and leave him a hefty inheritance anyway, so who needed a job? The old lady probably had millions saved away. Which reminded him, he’d probably better get out of bed now and see what she wanted.
As he padded down the stairs he noticed the stillness of the house. Even the dogs hadn’t come running up to greet him. “Gram…” he yelled unfinished as he opened her bedroom door. Her still form lay awkwardly prone on the floor just beyond the bathroom entry.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
From Dave at 1pointperspective:
Seven Deadly Sin Series – The One Thumbed Sloth
Jimmy “One-Thumb” Valenti didn’t know where the hell his cousin Nicky was, but he knew where he wasn’t. He wasn’t at the freaking club dumping chlorine in the baby pool or putting more toilet paper in the womens’ bathroom. The kid was usually there and busy long before One-Thumb rolled in. Jimmy had no intention of getting out of his office chair and doing any of those jobs; Nicky could just work that much harder when he got there.
He rocked back in the squeaky chair and looked at the paper. He found no joy in the sports section, only betrayal and disappointment. It would take more than ten fingers to get One-Thumb out of the mess he was in. He got carried away after winning a couple of bets early in the basketball playoffs. Now he owed the fat guy $1800 plus the vig. Mr. Light had been more patient than most bookies. Once the Celtics got eliminated, the round man had had enough. Light cornered Jimmy in the snack bar and told him that he better come up with the cash or maybe he’d be kissing his remaining thumb goodbye. Jimmy glanced at the sweating hot dogs as they rolled on the grill. He promised Light the cash.
Jimmy spun slowly in the chair and opened the bottom desk drawer where he kept the .45, but reached for the pint of Old Grandad instead. He twisted the cap off with the flat of his palm, and poured a snort into his coffee. It seemed lately coffee didn’t taste right without some Kentucky in it. He put his feet back on the desk and looked out across the swim club, absently hoping to spot a money-tree back by the fence.
He was just 12 when he reached his hand under a lawn mower and got his nickname. They told him how important the thumb was, but Jimmy knew that he still had a thumb on his other hand, plus a brain. Push the right buttons and people will do the work for you – thumbs are over-rated. He wasn’t much for cutting lawns anyway.
The snack bar register couldn’t have more than five or six hundred in it, even on a good day. He’d already emptied the petty cash box back when the Celtics were still alive.
He couldn’t hit Mom up for another loan, she knew him too well to fall for that. Her house probably had a couple thousand worth of Disney knick-knacks and jewelry. He’d have to take the stuff to Philly to pawn it. Pennies on the freaking dollar. These days even the dumpiest pawn shop had some kind of camera recording every transaction anyway.
Jimmy thought about the gun. Nicky’d said that the bowling alley had big money in the bar register. He could wear a mask and a hoodie from the Lost-N-Found. He’d wear winter gloves so it’d look like he a had two thumbs, then toss the hoodie and gloves down by the railroad tracks afterwards. Maybe he’d just put a couple of bullets in Light’s fat head.
He reached into the back of the drawer for the gun, but found nothing. He rocked forward in his chair and pulled the drawer all the way out, but all he found was a couple of Playboys and a useless box of bullets.
There was no going to the police about a gun that was hot to begin with. He glanced down at his remaining thumb and wondered how much it mattered to him anyway. He rocked back, sipped his coffee and looked back out across the pools.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
From K. L. Richardson: (http://tempisfugit.wordpress.com)
As The Twig Is Bent
Even as a child Kathleen was never an exercise fanatic. Long before the age of video games she spent her days deep in literature, dreaming of fantastic adventures in far-away lands. The most she ever traveled was to the verdant woods adjoining her home, where she would sit for hours with her favorite book or simply watching the insects toiling on the banks of the creek. She could spend whole days this way peacefully avoiding the harsh realities of life. Her favorite spot was on the south bank; facing the north with the warmth of the sun on her back. In her teen years friends would come into her life staying for a brief time; it seemed that none were as exciting as her woodland empire. While others were trying on the role of cheerleader, quarterback and class clown she was in turn, a princess, conqueror or queen. Ordinary life could not compete against the richness of her dreams. She was berated for her laziness; and as if to confirm it she shortened her name, now calling herself Kathy.
The world would not be put off any longer, high school came and went, young adulthood and jobs took over her life. On the outside she looked like she belonged in the world but inside she knew that all she wanted was to just…stop. On the heels of jobs came marriage and children. Again she shortened her name; becoming Kate (or ‘Mom’-even shorter). Other mothers taught their children how to play ball, jump rope and climb trees. Kate taught her children the joys of sitting still and reading. It looked for all the world as though she were tenderly reading to her children; she knew that once again she was escaping into her fantasy world, where movement was not required except to turn a page. She was living in the city now, her beloved woods a thing of the past. Life moved fast; soon there were grandchildren. She now became K.
Marriage became difficult, it required you to do so much. She tried holding up her end of the bargain, but sadly couldn’t (or didn’t want to) dance fast enough it seemed. Her husband couldn’t understand what was wrong with her. What was so difficult about living, getting out of bed, preparing a meal? Indeed it was simple for most of the world. Children grown and gone, eventually her husband too; seeking a younger, more energetic playmate to amuse him. Now indeed her world did stop. No longer required to fix meals, or keep house (after all the cat was fine with clutter to play in) she turned again to her books, and her dreams of woods, queens and sprites. If only she could find the wooded bliss that she enjoyed as a child. K started to seek out parks hoping to find a glimpse of childhood forests but everywhere she went were people crowding, walking, moving for heavens sake!
One day she finally found it, a park skirting her suburb with wild, unpopulated areas that she could explore at her own pace. She even found a creek! Ah, bliss! It began slowly, really an experiment on how long she could go without anyone noticing her absence from the world. Gradually she spent whole mornings there, even forgetting to bring a snack…time stretched on and on, matching the pace of the insects on the bank.
Eventually her family realized she hadn’t been seen for quite some time; when they finally found her she had begun to grow roots, traces of soft, green moss starting to appear on her north-ward facing cheeks.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
From Isadora: (http://insidethemindofisadora.wordpress.com/2012/6/19/lost/)
Tears run down my face as I watch my daughter walk down the aisle with her father. She is radiant. A beautiful young woman with jet black hair and creamy skin; her happiness glows all around her. Her father, looking debonair, is a proud man escorting his first born down the aisle.
The church is filled with family and friends. Some of the invited are standing. It’s a small protestant church. The gothic style interior is enchanting and quaint. It was a bit of a compromise for me as I had expected to have the wedding in a catholic church. I had to keep reminding myself that it was her wedding.
I near died when my limousine was one hour late. The first two limousines had left with their passengers yelling out of the moon roofs while flowers waved in the wind. I sat in my empty living room – waiting. It was a solitude I needed. I had been frazzled for so many weeks. Probably, my life frazzled from the first day my daughter brought her intended to my home. I remember thinking when we met: this is a wolf in sheep clothing.
He walked into her life and she walked out of ours. He was a smooth talker. She was an innocent young woman just getting out of a bad relationship. Her heart had been broken by an old fashioned macho man. He was a future doctor in the making but at a price of her losing herself to a submissive life. A broken heart can make you fall in love with another too quickly. She did.
Sitting here in this quiet room, I can remember the day she walked in the door and said she was engaged. She sprinted into my kitchen and made the big reveal of her ring. My knees went weak. Immediately, her father came to mind. He will not be pleased. His first words to me after the first introduction were: this guy is going to be trouble. He was right.
There were always underlying currents in his presence. We felt uneasy. He didn’t seem to care about himself or anything. There was a lazy and sluggish personality. He dressed in clothes that looked like he had slept in them. His hair was greasy and unruly all the time. He was unshaven. Later, he just grew a beard. He said he was lazy about shaving. He was a heavy smoker. It was a habit I detested. He reeked from the evil tobacco. He drank, too. It was just beer; but all the time. He couldn’t articulate what he did for a living with enough detail for us to understand. He was lethargic all the time. We worried he would never be motivated.
It was unnerving to give your child away to a man who was like this. We were pleasantly surprised when we met his very successful parents. It gave us hope. It would turn out to be a false one.
I’m startled. The limousine has arrived.
Sitting in the backseat, I feel like I’m on my way to a death chamber.
Cheers at my arrival signal the impatience of the guests. A glorious roar disturbs the silence as I walk down the aisle to take my proud mothers’ spot.
The pomp and circumstance begins to play. I turn and see my sweet child wrapped in her fathers’ hold. A safe place she will never want again. Her life will be forever changed with a man who could not be more than a sloth. Our hearts are broken and sadly lost.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *