You Only Live Once

Came across this fantastic Wipeout Wednesday 1 challenge that really put the rusted clogs in gear. The challenge is to wipeout words from a given excerpt, without making any other changes, to create your own masterpiece. I wouldn’t really call mine that but it’s a fair effort at trying to say something.

Heard of YOLO right? So why waste it following the same dull routine and ageing instead of living? What if one day you could just pack up life as you know it and head off on a tangent? Be unpredictable? Do the unthinkable? Get wacky? Live? Alas, such things sound good in books or movies only. Reality is burdened with too many unfulfilled expectations and bills to be paid. However, if one could, maybe they’d do as my man here does.

Here’s the tidied up version, and you can scroll down to see the wipedout one.


To abandon without telling anybody

a deckhand job off the coast.

Divorced for the third time,

I’d never been married.

So planned to sell sharp green pinecones

For five bucks apiece in New England.

They’re crazy up there for faith healing

A good fake heart disease,

I’d make it convincing.

And stumble and moan for KFC buckets.

Had ex-wife’s Polaroid camera handy

For making pictures that said


Stack books on the public John.

Even learn words like Satyr.

Alaska by Tom Franklin  (an excerpt)
© by Tom Franklin. From the collection Poachers.

Our aim was this: Alaska.

To abandon Mobile at dawn without telling anybody, not even our girlfriends or our boss at the plant. Bruce knew a bail jumper who got a deckhand job on a crab boat off the Alaskan coast where she made five hundred dollars a day. Bruce was divorced for the third time and I’d never been married, so we planned to sell our cars and Bruce’s house trailer and buy an olive drab Ford four-wheel-drive pickup with a camper, fill it full of those sharp green pinecones hard as hand grenades. Bruce’d heard you could sell those suckers for five bucks apiece in New England.

They’re crazy up there, he said.

Driving through Georgia and Tennessee, we’d look for tent revivals where they had faith healing. If we found a good one we’d stop and visit a service. Bruce would fake heart disease and I’d be an alcoholic—to make it convincing, he said, I’d have to belch and stumble and splash on rum like aftershave. He would grimace, moan, and clutch his left arm, until we had the whole congregation praying for us. When the ushers passed the KFC buckets for donation, we’d shrug and say we were flat broke, just poor travelers. Homeless.

Bruce had stolen his second ex-wife’s Polaroid camera, which we’d keep handy for making pictures—hawks on fenceposts, grizzly bears, church marquees that said THE LORD IS COMING SOON, then right under that BINGO 8:00 EVERY TUESDAY. We’d have a stack of books-on-tape from the public library, too: John Grisham, Stephen King, and even self-help. In the Badlands of South Dakota, when we pulled off the road to sleep in the back of the truck with our feet sticking out, we’d play an Improve Your Vocabulary tape, learn words like eclectic and satyr.



4 thoughts on “You Only Live Once

  1. Oh WOW! And Welcome to the prompt!

    This is amazing and awesome – I remember this piece very well – and you’ve done a great job with it 🙂

    It tells a new story in a great way – I love the bit about the pine cones – in the original and how you’ve played it out here. Absolutely wonderful – this is super – and I’m glad that you chose to play and this inspired you – rusted clogs and all that – so bonus!

    Thank you for playing and please, feel free to stop by and play if so inspired and you have the time.

    Liked by 1 person

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