Happy Year of the Pig! Here are the rules and regs for this month’s writing contest : )

Happy Year of the Pig. It’s time to move on to phase two of our group writing experience. First, however, since the judges saw it a close contest, for their avid participation, both Jim Harstad and HomelessinHonolulu win ten Bamboo Bucks to spend in the BR online store. Just mention you’re a March winner when you check out.

Okay. The first thing you need to do is read through the three survivor pieces below. Once that’s done, choose a single sentence from one of the pieces with which to begin your new one. The sentence you select must be one you did NOT write.

For April, only one piece will remain for all of you to add onto (maybe two, but two at most).

Since we’re starting up again, let’s go easy this month. You can write an installment that is EXACTLY






words long.

So go ahead and read the three pieces below. Remember, the sentence you choose to begin your new piece with must be one you did NOT write.

Make sure to give your entry a nice title.

Good luck : )

Note: Someone asked if the sentence you choose must continue the story from which it comes. No. We are starting brand new stories with the sentence we choose.

* * * * * Story Number One * * * * *

Part 1

“So wat da buggah said?”

ma madda asked afta ma

fadda dropped me off.

“About wat?”

“About wat?” she said,

mocking me. “How about

wat he wen promise fo

pay me in child support?

About wat?

How about wat he owes

me fo trowing one brick

true ma windshield?”

She sat at the table gazing

out da window, her eyes

neva meeting mine.

I always hated wen she

brought him up.

Even yeas afta, wen I

taut she wen foget him

longtime already, she

go, out of da blue,

“Dat buggah was one

real piece of shit

I tell you.”

Part 2

I neva saw ma fadda

trow da concrete brick

true da windshield of

ma madda’s cah

but was obvious wen

I came home from

school dat day an wen

see da brick laying

on her dash

dea must have been

plenny angah, plenny

violence fo lodge da brick

halfway true da glass.

Ma madda could do

dat to one man, drag

her finganails true da

chalkboard of his back.

She wen leave da brick

like dat for days an wen

call all her friends

fo checkom out.

“Imagine driving around

town wit dat!” she wen

say, an everyone

wen laugh.

Part 3

Wen I was young

ma fadda wen move

us to one small town

fo make one new life.

He really moved us

so he could be wit

his new fling.

Ma madda neva knew

til was too late.

Da night she found out

she came home

smelling like cigarettes

an booze.

I could hear her

sobbing in her room.

I opened da doa

an she stay laying

naked in bed, weeping.

I wanted fo comfort

her but I felt shame

since she no mo


All I could do was

shut da doa quietly

as she cried herself

to sleep.

Part 4

One story ma madda

could tell ova an ova

again is da one wea ma

fadda wen almost get

run ova by his mistress

in our yard.

“She was da crazy one,

driving around in her cah,

screaming at da top of

her lungs, ‘I goin kill you!’

An just like one true punk

he go diving in da bushes

afta she wen accelerate,

lights blazing in his eyes.

Dat witch used to drive

by our house every

damn night!

I could see her from

our lanai, her head

sticking out da window,

driving back an fort,

back an fort.”

Part 5

I came home

from school an

heard fighting


Ma madda was

yelling at da top

of her lungs.

“You bastard!

You coward!

How could you

do dis to us?”

I took a seat

on our steps

an waited fo da

scrap to end.

“How could

you cheat on

yo own damn


I neva heard

any sounds

coming from

ma fadda.

“I want you out

of dis house!

I want you out

of our lives!”

One doa wen

slam an ma

madda was


I opened ma

bag an found

one piece candy.

Wen taste like


an cream.

Part 6

Da only time

I saw ma

fadda cry

was wen

he wen drive

me to da




an he wen

talk about

how difficult

was fo him

afta ma

madda wen


“You know

da hard part?”

he goes,

“I loved yo

madda so

damn much.”

Dats wen he

wen buss out


“Wen she left,

my heart wen


An knowing

wat he wen


how he wen

run around



an cheating

on her,

all da late

nights, all

da lies,

I decided fo

save ma


an spend

less time

wit him

afta dat.

Part 7

“Da pass is pass,”

she go.

“Once you ask God

fo fogiveness,

no need bringom up

any moa.

Like how yo fadda

wen cheat on us.

How he wen spen

every dime I eva


I worked hard

fo earn dat money.

I worked da phone


I worked da pineapple


I waitressed tables.

I even sole my house

in Aiea cause he

wanted fo move

us aroun.

Would be wort

millions by now.

An look at me,

living in one dump,

no can pay rent.

An he stay sleeping

in one mansion.

No sense bring

up da pass.”

Part 8

“I tell you wat,”

she go, “you tink

you won? You

don’t know shit.

I goin take everyting.

I goin take da house.

I going take da cah.

I goin take half da


Dats wen he wen


“You not goin touch

ma business, you

hea me?

I built dis business

from groun up to

wat stay today!”

“I goin take half.

Not cause I need

yo money.

I goin take half

cause you deserve

fo lose.”

Dats wen he went

ova to da concrete

wall, picked up

one brick,

an wen end his

marriage once

an fo all.


* * * * * Story Number Two * * * * *

So What da Buggah Said?

Part 1

“So what da buggah said?” Rudy the barber asks me.

“Some bullshit about Denise and Chris.”

I’m waiting for a haircut. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Christopher Andaya enter. He’s dark, looks real Hawaiian.

“Chris, whas’up?”

Suddenly he pulls a knife, comes at me. I grab my gun from my ankle holster and shoot him three times, but instead of dying, he turns around and staggers outside. I follow.

I say, “Chris, you’re supposed to be dead already,” and boom, he goes down. I flip him over.

His face looks weird, his eyes glassy, looking up at me like I’m God.

Part 2

“Hey, Chris. No ack. We bot’ know dis not no real gun. Don’ go Deadman’s Gulch on me.”

“You mean Old Pali Road?”

“Yeah, wotevahs. Wit’ one trunkload of pork.”

“An’ da cah when stall.”

“An’ no staht.”

“Bumebye dey trow away da pork.”

“Hey, if dey when turn da cah aroun’ an’ head’m back down da mountain . . .?”



“Dey gif da peeg to somebody goin’ da uddah way.”

“To town?”


“K’den, bra. Bra, you doing OK?”

“Yeah, no. Nevah bettah.”

“Den gif back da gun.”

“Dis not no real gun.”

“Gif’m to me, Chris.”

“Firs’, da shiv.”

Part 3

I feel the warmth disappear, see the light. Where –

“You talk plenny kine when you asleep,” Rudy says.

I feel my face. Clean. This guy can handle a straight razor. “I fell asleep?”

“Yeah. You was talking all kine. Had someting about a Chris somebody. Someting about Denise. What’s wit all da guns an knives an shooting? Whas wit God? Tell me you not born again.”

“I . . . Rudy, I haven’t seen Denise for days. I don’t know where she is. You haven’t heard of Chris Andaya?”

“Oh, Chris Andaya. Scary. He get someting to do wit Denise?”

Part 4

“She nevah go your mom’s?” Rudy asks.

I tell him no, it’s my mom who said she couldn’t get ahold of Denise.

“Rudy, you know Andaya. Like I said, Kuroda been talking shit about Chris and Denise.”

“Not good. Yeah, no, I nevah hear nuttin’”

Rudy knows people. But you gotta pay up front. Like a haircut and a shave is a good start, but maybe just a down-payment depending. Maybe you gotta tip heavy kine.

Rudy knows people as tough as Chris. Maybe tougher. People who come from dark spaces, do their job, disappear. You’d never see them strolling the mall at Ala Moana. The only time you see these guys is when they materialize on your doorstep. And the only thing they bring is bad news. Sometimes a warning, sometimes a little hurt, and sometimes, well, you know. They’re like ghosts.

“Rudy, who can I talk to? I need to know if she’s gone back to work. If she really is mixed up with Chris again.”

Rudy rubs his chin. “You mean someone you can talk to, or someone who only goin’ talk to me?”

“Whoever, Rudy. Whatever you can do to help my sister. You tell me.”

Part 5

Rudy runs the razor over the strop, thinking. The steel looks lethal.

One time mom, Denise, and I visited the Daoist monastery up Nu’uanu. We heard this music coming from the back. Amazing. We went around the side and found this maybe 70-something woman playing flute. We sat. Her music was other worldly.

When she stopped, Denise clapped. I didn’t think that’s what you should do, but Denise, she just does things like that. Spontaneous. The woman smiled, then thanked her.

“That flute looks heavy,” my mom said.

The woman laughed softly. “It’s a good weapon.”

The blade flashes against the dark leather. “I tell you what,” Rudy says. “I tink bettah I talk to my friends first. You like um talk, hard, to Kuroda, see what he really know?”

I thought about that bastard. Miles Kuroda had been an asshole even back in elementary school. He learned kung fu then high-jacked kids and beat them up. Listening to that fucker snear about Denise being back with Chris Andaya made me want to kill him. He thought he was tough? A gun beats martial arts every time.

Worst of all, if Denise was with Chris, it was my fault.

“Nah, Rudy, if can find out where she is, would be great. Fucking Miles may just be talking out his ass.”

Rudy runs his finger down the blade of the razor. He looks up at me and smiles a wicked smile. “Dat Kuroda, I really hate dat punk.”

I picture blood bursting out of Miles Kuroda’s slashed throat and smile my own wicked smile.

“Mahalo, Rudy, what do I owe you?”

“Ah, one nice ahi nex time you go out. If canna catch, den one case Bud.”

Wow. That’s a deal. Rudy could ask for the moon if he wants it.

Part 6

When I was in elementary school, Miles Kuroda made life hard for me. He was a bully, and I was one of the people he bullied. But I didn’t tell my older brother. It wasn’t unusual for Miles to randomly pick out someone and beat him up. He never beat up a girl, but he would push girls around too. That changed the older we got. By the time we moved on to middle school, he was only pushing boys around.

Maybe I shouldn’t call what he did to me bullying. Maybe it was more like stalking. Whatever it was, he definitely intimidated me.

It wasn’t until we moved on to high school that he really took an interest in me. He started being especially nice to me. Still, the first time he asked me out, I thought it was strange. I had no interest in someone who had treated people the way he did.

But you know what? The more time he spent with me, the more mellow he became. As we grew friendlier, he actually went, well, soft. He was even polite to teachers, something far from his radar in earlier days.

And when he asked me to junior prom, I said yes. My brother thought I was insane. His hated Miles for his behavior in his younger days. My brother was so angry that he threatened to come over to the high school and beat the living daylights out of Miles.

I finally mostly convinced him that Miles had changed. I told him how my being with Miles made him a different person.

“We’ll see about that,” my brother said.

Can you imagine a college student coming to a high school to beat someone up? Sometimes I thought my brother was crazier than Miles.

But that was then, a long time ago. Miles reverted to his former behavior once I went to the mainland for college. He stayed at UH and got into some pretty bad fights. Eventually he quit school. He took up with some shady people, and he’s been running with them ever since.

When I came home after college, I met Chris Andaya. I thought it was the kind of love that would last, that we’d get married, have a family. But then he began to beat me. I didn’t tell my brother, not until I finally had the courage to break away from Chris.

Part 7

I hate phones, but this was Rudy.

“Dey foun Chris.”

“Your friends?”

“Da cops. My friend from inside da depahtment tole dey foun him at his place. One twenny-two slug in da haht. Close range.”

I put my leg up on the bench and felt for the .22 on my inside ankle. “They got any idea who did it?”

“Nah, dey jes figgah gotta be someone he know. To get dat close.”

I hung up, touched the small automatic again. Someone had killed Chris Andaya about the same time I was thinking about doing it myself. I had a real bad feeling.

After my sister broke away for good from Chris, I bought her a .22 just like mine, to carry with her. I took her to the Koko Head range, taught her to shoot. She got better than me. A natural. If Chris had come at her again? Shit.

I called my mom to find out if she’d heard from Denise. She’d not.

If she’d actually killed Chris, what would she do? Get on a plane? Maybe go to frickin Miles Kuroda? I never did understand how she could love that asshole. But looking to hide, would she run to her one-time true frickin love?

I got in my car and headed for the bar where Miles used to hang out. It made me ill to think about him, but if Denise had killed Chris and run to that chicken-shit, then I had no choice. If she were with him, I’d find out. Maybe I’d get lucky, finally, after all these years. Maybe I’d have a great reason to kick his ass.

Miles hung out with his gangster panty-ass friends at an armpit of a bar by the University. When I walked in, a couple of older haole guys who looked like college professors were shooting pool. Through the smoke – I guess this shithole didn’t care about smoking laws – I could make out guys who looked like college dropouts.

I went up to the counter and asked the bartender if he knew Miles.

“Sure, yeah, he’s in here a lot. Not today, though. If he’s not here by now, he won’t be in until tonight. Nine or ten.”

On the way out, I heard one of the haoles say, “Good shot, Jim. Minnesota Fats move over.” The guy named Jim laughed. That laugh sounded familiar.

“Jim, Mister Larsen, is that you?” I walked through the smoke cloud to the table. The two stared at me.

It wasn’t my old high-school English teacher after all. “Sorry, sorry. I thought you were someone else.”

I went out into the sunshine, stinking of cigarettes. Slumping into the seat, I tried to think.

Okay, if I couldn’t get ahold of Miles until tonight, what? Let’s say Denise didn’t go to him after all. Where? Where would –

And then I knew. I drove up University and got onto the H1 freeway heading west. I knew she hadn’t gone to Miles Kuroda at all.

Part 8

I could hear the music as I approached the temple. Around back I found the elderly woman playing her flute. She stopped.

“Do you remember me?” I asked. “I came last year with my mom and sister.”

She smiled, nodded, then pointed behind her to a one-story building.

“Your sister is staying in the apartment at the end.”

I thanked her and headed over. When I knocked there was no answer. “Denise, it’s me.”

The lock turned and the door opened a crack. When she saw it was me, she let me in.

“How did you know I was here?”

“I don’t know. A pretty good guess. What are you doing here?”

“I just needed to get away. Chris found me again, I went with him for a few days. He started beating me again.”

She began to cry.

“Chris is dead, Denise. A .22 caliber bullet, like the gun I gave you. Did you shoot him?”

Denise looked dumbfounded. “Me, no, no, I wouldn’t — I couldn’t do that.”

“Where’s the gun?”

“I, I gave it to Miles.”

A wave somewhere between relief and disbelief hit me. I was so glad that it hadn’t been Denise, but absolutely amazed that it might have been Miles.

I got up. Denise, stay here until I find Miles and sort this out.

I left her and headed back to the stinking bar where Miles Kuroda hung out. It was near 6:00, so I had a wait. Rather than go in, I walked up to the UH Manoa campus, checked out all the new construction, walked up into Kuykendall Hall, the English Department home, the place where I’d spent so much time loving English literature.

I headed back to the bar. It was just after 9:00. The same bartender was on duty.

“Did Miles come in yet?”

“Yeah, yeah, he’s upstairs.”

I went to the second floor. The place was empty and the lights dim, but I saw Miles sitting in one of the booths at the back.

“Miles,” I walked toward him, “did you hear what happened to Chris Andaya?”

He didn’t answer, just kept staring straight ahead.

“Miles?” I stood over him. “Miles?” I tapped him on the shoulder.

He slumped over. I felt for a pulse in his neck. There was none. I sat him up. I noticed a large bloodstain covered his stomach area.

“Oh man.”

I called 911..

So Miles had killed Chris, confronted him. When Miles had gone for his gun, the .22 I’d give Denise, they must have struggled. In that moment, one of them had been shot first, then the other. Miles had lived long enough to make it back to the bar to die.

Denise and Miles. You think a guy’s an asshole, and your sister thinks he’s her knight in shining armor.

And Miles Kuroda was. Once he’d heard that Chris was beating her again, he wanted to save her. For that, I give him great credit.

But I’ll still never understand it.


* * * * * Story Number Three * * * * *

Wishing Well

Part 1

When you wish for something hard enough, you just might get it. Then

comes the part about how hard you thought about what happens next, as

in being careful what you wish for. Jiminy Cricket says nothing about

which star you should wish upon, nor about possible evil consequences

of choosing poorly. How about the venerable first star I see tonight?

Does that imply a filter, a guarantee against bad choices and evil

consequences? Suppose you say you’re bored stiff and wish something

interesting would happen? By interesting you mean? Who cares? Nothing

could be worse than this. Let’s give it a shot: I really wish

something interesting would happen. Oh-oh.

Part 2

Wisharama in Wishitopia in G-flat minor

How old were you when you realized “I wish I knew” does not

necessarily mean you want to know?

What it more likely means is that you don’t want to take the time to

find out. Or it’s not worth knowing. Or you’re too lazy. Or . . .

Or maybe you do know but telling would take too dang long. Or you

don’t want us to know. Or . . .

How old are you, anyway? What makes any of this the least bit scary? (Isn’t it?)

I wish I knew. I wish, really wish, you’d think hard about it, then

let us all know.

Part 3

The list of things people wish for is endless. Ever try to visualize

“endless”? What’d you see?

I see a long, long adding-machine tape with individual handwritten

entry after entry after entry, curling and unfurling slowly out into

dark and endless space, destination infinity, wherever it can be


I wish I could see what Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking saw. Or what

Neil Degrasse Tyson sees.

Elon Musk. Does he really wish to spawn the movement that puts humans

everywhere? Literally everywhere? Would that be wishing well? I wish I


Wait. I know.

Only look at planet Earth. Clever humanstuff everywhere. Everywhere!

Purely natural stuff nowhere. Nowhere! (Hippie stuff, we smugly


Will we learn better over time? Or will we remain too clever by half

until the too-rapidly-nearing end? When the cows come home? When what

goes around comes around?

What do you wish to be when you grow up? An NFL star? Rock star? Movie

star? Media star? Multijillionaire on-line entrepreneur? Maybe a

pussygrabbing USA President? (Or, you know, grab whatever.)

How about alive and well in a shared natural setting? Are we wishing

well? Wish you knew?

You know you know.

Part 4

If it’s worth wishing for,

It must be worth working for.

If you wish/work hard enough for something worthy,

Will luck be a Sinatra lady?


“The harder I practice,

The luckier I get.” —Tom Watson, golfer.

“Pray for a good harvest,

but keep on hoeing.” —Future Farmers of America.

Praying. Anything like wishing?

Are they the same?

One sma’keed time I wished for something worthy

and got it.

By praying?

Don’t recall being into prayer yet.

Mom prayed. Both grandmas.

Couldn’t’ve hurt. Could’ve helped.

Working definitely helped.

The desired object was a bicycle.

Arden Farms Dairy and the City of Bremerton co-sponsored a traffic

safety jingle contest for kids, parental help allowed, even


We did seven entries, each one penned carefully, laboriously by my

reluctant second-grade hand. The first six were random shots. Maybes.

The seventh was my own inspiration, the simple idea of connecting

traffic light colors to their one-word directives:

Red is for stop.

Green is for go.

Yellow is for slow.

By then experienced jingleists, we massaged it into something we all

liked, I copied it neatly, and we sent it in. This was the one. We

were sure of it. And it was.

Mrs. Bostrom bolted out of her house clutching The Bremerton Sun to

her chest, shouting my name. “You won!” she cheered, shouting my name

again. “You won!”

In a special box on the front page, on a list of jingle contest

winners, my name.

At the presentation ceremony, the neatly racked boys’ bikes looked

sturdy, solid, and plain. All except for one gleaming red-and-white

tank model, a ruby among agates.

I wanted that very one, of course. Who wouldn’t? But to get it? I

fervently wished it would be awarded to me. And it was.

Part 5

Have you ever wished you could go back and revisit some part of your

life? Not actually relive it, maybe, but watch it happening

fly-on-the-wall style? Would it look the same as the memory you now


Does memory automatically confer enhancement? Or is it only randomly

different from the original, better in some ways, worse in others? Is

it ever exactly the same?

A long time ago, as an English teacher at Wai’anae High School, where

students’ use of Hawaiian creole English was considered a problem, it

occurred to me that if we treated pidgin as the acceptable cultural

variant it should be, not the enemy we’d made it, it would be easier

to teach American standard English as the cultural variant it is, not

the enemy we’d made it.

Mark Twain became my ally. Each of my eighth-grade students had a copy

of “Huckleberry Finn”. I had them translate the whole “You don’t know

about me” first paragraph twice, first into standard English, then

into pidgin. We had fun comparing the results.

Then we read the whole book aloud together, with everyone

reading-along in their own copy. I told them to think of Huck’s

language as a kind of mainland pidgin and did most of the

reading-aloud myself.

That approach worked so well that I next tried it with an

eleventh-grade English class using Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”.

It took about a semester, and students seemed respectfully attentive,

though evaluation is always difficult.

Years later Glenn Kila, one of those eleventh-graders, told me it had

changed his life, inspiring him to go to UH as an English major.

Before, he’d never thought of going to college at all. He became a

teacher, then an administrator at more than one school on the Leeward


Of course I feel good about that, but do I wish I could go back to

relive even one class session? I do not.

I’ve been logger, longshoreman, gravedigger. I’ve hitchhiked from

Boston to Seattle and bicycled across northern Europe. I’ve hiked the

ridgeline from St. Louis Heights across Ka’u Crater and down the

Palolo Trail.

Nothing I’ve ever done was harder work than teaching English, and I

wish never to do it again. But to be a fly on the wall of that

eleventh-grade Wai’anae classroom just one time? I can only wish…

Part 6

I wish Joe’s lights had not gone out yesterday.

Today a large truck rolled up displaying the legend: “Leave the heavy

lifting, sorting, and transport to the professionals.” And

professionals they seem, clicking into place pieces not designed to

click into place — Joe’s old lumber, pipes, buckets, tools — once

wished-for, once-useful stuff.

Joe was not a hoarder; everybody collects stuff. Some of the stuff

I’ve collected once rested under neighbors’ houses, neighbors now

gone, like Joe. Golf clubs from Burt, coiled copper wire from Mark,

sage words of advice from Joe.

The neighborhood was ten years old the summer we moved in with our

children, our wishes — ten years older than us. It’s getting younger

around us, now among the old ones, all obedient to time. I would not,

do not, wish to be an exception.

Blessed far beyond my just desserts, I often think. Blessed? It seems,

yes. Undeniably. While it is metaphorically true that I hoe for a good

harvest, it is literally true that I keep on praying. Truly.

Like Joe, like Mark, like Burt, I’ll stop everything soon enough —

praying, wishing, hoeing. Everythinging.

I wish that truck would leave.

Ah, there it goes now.

Part 7

If I were given one last wish, it would be that we all be given one

last wish and that every ten years all our last wishes be placed in

topical categories and counted and ranked by number and that the one

with the highest number be declared winner and be granted and that

every ten years the winner would be: “Now that we have killed God, we

must honor our obligation to His memory to gather as one human family

dedicated to saving this gifted Earth we say we love so much but treat

with such careless disdain.” Amen.



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