The Writing Group.

Every Friday ... sometimes, the five of them got together ... more or less, to each read something they'd written the week before ... when they had something. And sometimes Every Friday they'd discuss those pieces they'd just listened to and critique them, should the reader deem it appropriate. Sometimes Every Friday in the eclectically-decorated, mostly-chilly one-bedroom-squeezed-into-two lair on 91st and Roosevelt.

Each of them brought a different style to throw into the goulash that always kept the meetings out of kilter, thereby leaving the participants wondering what might come next. But, over time, they all grew accustomed to what each other would be bringing in.

Since this was the last Friday they would all get together in the foreseeable future - perhaps the last Friday ever - they all decided to shed the individual personae they'd all known each other under. Each meeting as the individuals they truly were, without all the airs and inhibitions they'd normally bring to such social situations. It showed in their writing.

At a little after 7:00, Steven was the last to arrive. With a quiet knock on the door and a quick turn of the knob, he stepped inside to an unexpected sight. The feeling was apparently mutual from the gasps he heard as he came fully into view of the group.

They decided to read in a circle, starting with Celina on the big couch closest to the kitchen. Celina had arrived with her hair teased as high and as poofy as it would go, with lots of blue eyeshadow, cherry-fire red lipstick and matching nail polish for her inch-long fake fingernails. Her sleeveless, white Guns N' Roses t-shirt revealed her penchant for sunlight-aversion and her hip-hugging black leather miniskirt said she had plans for heartbreaking later that night. She read her 8-page story entitled, "The End of the World," and everyone agreed that the rampant use of wild sex and automobile crashes evoked the kind of renegade writing not seen since the late, great days of early Shane Black fame.

It was Bob's turn next, at the far end of the couch, sitting cross-legged seemingly with a purpose, desiring to command the attention of all he surveyed and ready to pounce on anyone with a thought to the contrary of what he was about to say. Clad in a red-white-and-blue trucker hat, with a new t-shirt that read, "No Fat Chicks" which looked as if it had just arrived from one of those overpriced novelty websites on the Internet, Bob cleared his throat and silenced any random chatter billowing throughout the room. Instead of a poem, Bob brought in a 26-page declarative essay entitled, "Oppressive Gun Laws and the Liberal Scourge." Everyone patiently sat and listened for a solid half hour before they realized Bob would be going off on obscenity-laden tangents after every paragraph, labelling everyone who stood in the way of his "God-given right to bear arms" as "Communist Fuckholes," from Bill Clinton all the way down to "those tree-huggin' hippie shitbags" in the ACLU. Bob was finally forced to stop when everyone declined to pledge allegiance to Charlton Heston.

As chance would have it, the poetry in the final writing group meeting came from Jenny, who was sitting bare-ass naked on the floor with only body paint in flower-designs to cover what comprised the parts of the body society deemed as "inappropriate for public display." Jenny was the only one to opt for standing when she read her piece, and everyone in the room pulled one of those moves where they pretended to wonder what the ceiling looked like in order to avoid catching a glance at someone they really weren't meant to look at naked in this type of setting ... except for Steven - the resident pervert - who stared straight ahead. The poem was entitled, "The Rainbow In The Tree," and everyone instantly knew that this wasn't going to be an easy listen. Right off, Jenny went into describing every leaf and every branch and every beam of light and every dewdrop and how extravagant and angelic and delicate and resplendent they all were; all the while performing the corresponding interpretive dance symbolizing the tree's ascent into Heaven's Ambrosiac Majesty. When she sat down, nobody knew what to say, so quickly they moved on to Steven.

When Steven first arrived, he thought he'd be a little underdressed; but after Jenny's display, he didn't feel so bad nipping out of his skin-tight women's bellyshirt that simply said, "Sexy" in bold, blue, sparkling cursive letters. Of course, the leather chaps were a bit obscene, and nobody really understood the thong panties or the slinky hip-necklace thing that looked like it was clinging to his bulging lovehandles for dear life. Every time he uncrossed his legs, Jenny and Bob got a view of something that would burn a hole into their mind's eye for the rest of their lives. Steven's story was entitled, "A Forest's Meadow." Replete with whimsical euphemisms for male and female genitalia like, "his rugged tenderness" and "her throbbing reservoir," this piece of drab, cookie-cutter romantic-fiction contained none of Steven's usual derangement or bitch-slapping humor. Steven finished his story with a sigh and a fumbling wipe of his tear-streaked face.

Josh had seen and heard enough. "What the fuck is WRONG with you people? Celina, you're ... and Bob, what's with ... Jenny, I just don't ... Steven, would you PLEASE do something about that belly roll you've got hanging out there? And, for Christ's sake, throw a toothless blowjob from a 75 year old invalid INTO this piece of shit story!"

Josh stood up, throwing his jacket on in a fury. "I'm sorry I even brought this idea up to the group. I just figured that maybe, this last time we could all open up and really let loose, you know? Drop our guard, have a few drinks, and really just go crazy. But, apparently, for you all, it's meant sacrificing everything that's -" Josh stopped himself, wondering if he should go on. Then, he continued, wistfully, "Everything that's made you all people I want to be around." When he surveyed the room a final time, the disgust rising in his throat once again, he shouted, "Now I see. You're all fucking nuts!"

Josh grabbed copies of his story for everyone in the room, threw them all in a pile on the floor, and slammed the front door on the way out. The piece was entitled, "The Last Writing Group Hurrah," and there was a different stapled bundle for each member in the group.

"I think it's a screenplay," Celina said.

"What's it about?" Bob asked, picking his up and scanning the first few lines.

"It looks like it's a drunken hot tub orgy scene," Jenny said, flipping the pages.

"You think this is what he meant when he said -" Steven looked up from his copy, with that confused, one-raised-eyebrow look on his face.

Bob said, "All right, Steven you get down on all fours and spread 'em. Jenny, stand ... here, and grab a hold of this. Celina, you go ahead and ride him like a dying mule - really get into it, slap that ass red - and I'll come over here for the reach-around. Come on, everyone, let's do this for Josh!"