Exploring a Guerrilla


Varsha was a short brown woman with long black hair and bit bigger ass than any of us could handle if we’d ever been allowed to handle it at all. When she first came to us on a rainy day she told Yolo she was married, she told Chit she was a widow, and she told Mattie she was gay. Me? Well me…me she told to fuck the hell off. We had no trouble believing all three stories were true, and I just pretended she was my little sister—until that got creepy.


Chit counted ammo in the shade of a travelers’ tent we erected on a sand bar. The awkward height and angle of the poles presented the lumpy aspect of a large boulder, but against the white gravel and sand near the river it must have looked like a target because in ten minutes Chit would be hurrying to rid himself of his current ballistic inventory in a rapid orderly fashion.

“See anything?”

Varsha swiveled to eye Chit in the tent; she left her arms akimbo and her feet in place.

“See anything?”

She swiveled back continuing to survey downriver. “No.”

Varsha’s denim leopard-patterned cargo-capris were tucked into a pair of laced on sune-ate. Those shin guards were so big for her they ran from her ankles up past her knees.

Gotta stop here.

225 words on day 847

Mother Notion


A low flat road of a bridge leashed the island to the core of the city like a loyal mastiff. Its subtle undulations at each pier testified to both its age and its commodity; two newer bridges in [name of city] had already been rebuilt. But Mother Notion knew the bridge wasn’t a leash and [name of island] wasn’t a hound—at least not a loyal one.

“Boy!” Mother Notion called out the summons like a person being attended upon despite having traveled to [name of city] from [somewhere] alone. As it happened there were boys around and I’ll make that seem more obvious in some later revision of this text.

The clump of boys behind the woman singled out one of their number and cajoled and coerced him toward her. She smiled encouragement his way and he immediately stopped resisting the others to come stand in front of her. “Yes, Sister?”

Mother Notion drew the boy’s attention to the four raised scars encircling her left forearm. “Sorry. Mother. Yes, Mother?” The clump snickered.

She squatted to join the boy at his height; her bead-heavy hair hung to her thighs as she leaned forward. “I am Mother Notion. What is your name, son?”

The boy looked to the clump for help but got none. “They call me ‘Rabbit’, but my real name is ‘Brian’.” He looked down.

“What would you like me to call you?” Mother Notion smoothed her hands to the tops of her thighs to her knees brushing the strands of beads aside. The boy’s eyes reversed the movement of her hands tracing backward into the shadowed crevice and then up to the crevice of her chest. With a bent finger, she tilted his chin up so his eyes could join hers again. “What would you like me to call you?”


“‘Rabbit’ it is then, but there may be times when it won’t be appropriate for me to call you that. I may sometimes need to call you ‘Brian’. Will you be able to answer quick to that if I do?” Rabbit nodded.

“Rabbit, I am not from [name of city]. I am from [somewhere]. Do you know where [somewhere] is?” He pointed and looked north. “Nearly so.” Mother Notion corrected the angle of his arm carefully to the east without looking away from his face. When his pupils dilated she stopped. “There.”

Some stuff I can’t squeeze in before I run out of time this morning.

Mother Notion produced a silver shim from behind Rabbit’s left ear. “How long would you carry my bag this?”

“All day, Mother!” She squashed a laugh into a tight smile at Rabbit’s enthusiasm then serioused up her face.

“How far down that bridge.”

Rabbit erased his smile and swallowed. “Maybe halfway.”

“Then I’d better give you two.” She fanned the single shim into a pair of coins. Rabbit didn’t smile, but he did nod.

483 words on day 833

The Making of a Dialogue Exercise


On Saturday I mentioned a post on dialogue that I thought could give some direction regarding a dialogueing exercise or two. I’d hoped with a little research I might find other helpers for such, but in the time I’ve alloted myself I haven’t. The reason I wanted to look around more is because the post I mentioned doesn’t complete its thought regarding its premise. Or at least the premise I’ve inferred.

It lists ten modes of dialogue:
1. Probing – to gain information
2. Sarcastic – to reverse the momentum
3. Abrupt – to end an interaction bluntly
4. Angry – to release tension
5. Despondent – to express negative emotions
6. Inhibiting – to disallow undermine
7. Supportive – to relate acceptance
8. Uncaring – to relate lack of concern
9. Demanding – to overwhelm opinion
10. Prohibitive – to change direction

I haven’t and I won’t take the time to vet this list or its definitions—it feels like I ought to—but I won’t. He goes on to pair each of these active dialogue pursuits with their correlative reactive partners.

Probing requires a Revealing reply.
Sarcasm requires a Serious reply.
Abruptness requires a Calm reply.
Anger requires a Nice reply.
Despondence requires a Happy reply.
Inhibition requires an Encouraging reply.
Supportiveness requires an Uncooperative reply.
Uncaring requires a Caring reply.
Demands require a Trivial reply.
Prohibiton requires an Unrestrictive reply.

I’ve translated his listing structure to appeal to my own sense of pattern, but I don’t think I’ve lost the gist. He goes on to mention the need for conflict, and I start to cheer but then he never hits the mark despite his remarkably solid set of examples. Instead he wanders into a few statements about subtext and deeper which make no sense to me. Lastly, he ends with the application of the above to a movie; I htink that was fine enough, but not terribly coherent.

Anyway, that doesn’t stop me from thinking what I thought rather than what I think he said, which is that these active and reactive pairs, when used in concert, elicit conflict between speakers—and that he’s got a few that need correcting. At least one. And it’s the first one. Which may be what confused me when I first read this. If you probe someone and they reveal what they know, that’s not terribly conflicty. So let’s amend that to: Probing requires a Rebuffing reply.

Now we’re cooking.

Here’s the thing though—and maybe this was his hope for whatever he was talking about with subtext—these are overt pairings. To get to the subtext, to get to the part where the reader plays a role in the dialogue, you need to write these pairs indirectly or askew of the mark.

“Where’s the bathroom?” — “I’m not telling you.” versus “I need to pee.” — “Someone’s in there.”

475 words on day 829