Monthly Archives: July 2013

what a day!

Holy cheetah shit, batman!  I wrote 10,000 words today on a story I hadn’t touched for three days due to work and family crisis and sheer, unadulterated wanting to spend ten minutes shut the fuck down.  Those weren’t 10,000 throw them at the wall and see if they’ll stick words either.  Actual thought went into them… mostly.  Look, this stuff occasionally writes itself.  I got to one of the major climaxes of the story today and i couldn’t stop writing.   It came out like a sneeze, all snotty and loud and splattered all over the computer screen.  I haven’t touched it in hours and i’m still too wound up to go to sleep.  I don’t really have any followers on here anyway so i know I’m not really sharing this with anybody, but hell I’m excited and i can’t talk to my friends or family about it because I kind of keep my writing under wraps so I just dumped it here.  I think I’m going to go back and write more…why am i wasting my time here?

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ideas

I don’t understand a writer ever saying they don’t have any ideas.  Sometimes I get it, it’s hard to get your story from point a to point b.  The damned characters don’t always do things or act exactly like you want.  But c’mon, no ideas for a story at all?  These ideas are literally spilling out of my head and down the nearest storm sewer all day long.  I don’t have enough time to write even half the stories that creep up to my frontal cortex, or whatever that fucking part of my brain is.  It’s frustrating.  I have some whamtacular ideas, but i can’t get them down in story form without letting twenty others die for want of nourishment.  I keep the obligatory notebook, but so what?  I wrote two novels in my head on the way to work yesterday.  How could i ever keep up?

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Flash fiction: last line first

She closed the book and watched as it turned to dust.  It would always be this way.  Her depression deepened as what was left of her muscles tensed against the coming rage.

Who were they to put this curse upon her?

“I’ve lived a good life, you bastards!”  She screamed into the blackness to no one in particular.  Could they hear her?

She pushed away from the table, as it aged and began to fray.  Each fiber of wood came off as a tiny flake of dandruff.  It collapsed as she went through the door.

There were shapes moving around her.  The ghosts of time moved too quickly to be seen.  Some had color, but nothing else.  No faces.  No form.  Just bursts of energy going nowhere in particular. 

The ghosts stopped.  Moments later, the floors above began to sag as she approached the front door.  “Not another cave-in, for Christsake!”  She got to the door just in time-the house collapsed soundlessly behind her.  Since the ghosts had come, everything was soundless.

The flashing light outside, the one that drove her mad, had not ceased.  Nor would it, she knew that.  It was a strobe light on the grandest of scales.  Bright as day, dark as night.  Ad infinitum.   The trees at the end of the driveway changed colors as she approached the street.  But she was no longer in a yard, and the driveway was just a path.  Both trees fell then vanished in front of her.  She pushed through the weeds only to find that the street had turned into a highway, but was already in disrepair.  Weeds turned to trees as their roots ripped snake-like through the pavement. 

And so it continued.  “Nothing to do but think,” she said again to no one in particular.  She hadn’t seen a soul since the ghosts came.  She couldn’t read.  She couldn’t sit in a house.  She couldn’t listen to a babbling brook or the wind in the trees. 

Crossing the path that had been a highway, she recognized the form of a guardrail as it rusted away in front of her.  It disappeared to reveal a drop of several hundred feet.  Without hesitation, she stepped off, expecting death while simultaneously knowing it would never occur.  Rather than a harrowing fall, she floated gently to the bottom and stood on the banks of a river.  It expanded and shrank in the strobe, like a panting beast.  She walked into the flow, not feeling any current at all and unable to even get wet.  As her head went under the water, she discovered that she couldn’t hold her breath because, well, she wasn’t breathing…

That’s when it all came back.  She had been named Lilith.  Her parents had loved her very much.  She was a teenager, a fat little girl that never got asked out and never had many friends.  A thousand family members could not love away the loneliness she felt.  Selfishly, she had convinced herself that nobody paid attention, nobody cared. 

She had taken pills.  The sudden realization that she was no longer Lilith made her cold for the first time.  She wanted her misery back.  She wanted to look into a mirror and see her pudgy cheeks, her zits, the mousy hair that never did what she wanted.  As the level of water in her river began to fall, her head and shoulders re-emerged into the air and all she wanted was for her Daddy to hug her again.  

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Back in the saddle

I’ve had two weeks in which I, right here in the 21st century, had no internet access unless I went to McDonald’s or a bar.  Surprisingly, I chose the bar.  I know, I know, an attorney and writer who also drinks?  What are the chances of those traits all showing up in the same person?

So anyhow, I will get back to writing again, after a well-deserved break, and hopefully get the word-count back up.  I’ve made deadlines, but no other progress.  Hope to change that now!

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Flash Fiction Challenge

This week’s challenge was a random pop on a television website.  I drew “Loss of identity”.  Worked well, because I met the guy in this story on the beach one day.  Actually, I found out later it was a woman but the story had solidified in my head beforehand and I never changed it.  So here is my second Terribleminds flash fiction challenge, this one a story about lost identity.  It’s not quite the cliche’d loss of identity storyline but it worked for me…and sorry for the word count.  I went over by about 50%.  Probably needed another edit but hey, it’s flash fiction, right?

The Beach

                 I decided on the beach house before Ethel had even died and I’m ashamed of that.  It’s not like I wanted her dead, though, I just understood that it was inevitable.  Just like my death will be soon enough.  I could see it, the life, leaving her body every day.  Cancer.  The Big C.  She gave up.  I guess I gave up on her too.  But that was five years ago, and I love her still.  We all want to create our own demons, just to have something to wrestle at night when we should be sleeping.   In many ways, I want to feel guilty for surviving her, and enjoying what little is left of my life.

Walking the beach like I do is extending my life, I have no doubt about that.  Not just physically, although the exercise can’t be bad for me.  I relive my youth every day out there.  I want to take you with me today.  You have a one day pass to the eyesight of an 87 year old man.  A man with no regrets, except time.

I’ve not set an alarm for years.  One of the best things about retirement is that I get up when I damn well please.  I was up late last night, smoking cigars and watching boats go by.  I always wonder where they are headed, what they have for cargo, the stories of the people on board.  Sometimes I stay up till dawn, just watching boats go by.  So 10:00 am was a pretty early start today.

Anyway, who needs an alarm clock with an 87 year old back and hips?  No, they will tell you when it’s time to get up.  More urgently than an alarm clock.  I suppose it’s lucky for me anyway, it isn’t my prostate waking me up.  Hell, you don’t care about that anyway.  Sorry.

I’ve got a closet full of the same damned clothes.  I don’t wear shorts, I don’t wear jeans, and I don’t go anywhere that requires me to dress up other than the funeral home when another friend or family member dies.  Don’t take that to mean I’m feeling sorry for myself, because I don’t.  I’m old.  The alternative to getting old is much worse.  Time’s going to move with or without me, so I’m hanging on to this train as far as it will take me.  Point is almost every pair of pants I own are khaki casuals.  I guess at 87, I shouldn’t care.  I just find it funny, every time I buy pants it’s the same thing I already have.  Habit.

Get those khaki pants on.  The hips hurt, the knees hurt.  I wad the pants up on the floor, step into the legs, wiggle my feet until I feel the carpet under both of them, and use the old gaff hook to pull ‘em into reach.  I don’t even have to bend over, at least not for the pants.  Button up shirts are easier on the shoulders, and my arthritis rarely interferes with buttons.

Socks and shoes are the kickers.  I keep a stool by the bed, just for socks and shoes.  Sit on the bed.  Put the sock over the end of the foot, put the foot on the stool, lift as I pull the sock over the heel, then pull it up.  Repeat.  Step into tennis shoes-I’ve got some really comfy New Balance tennies.  Sit back down on the bed, tie them, get the Panama hat on, and it’s time for my walk.

I live about a block off the beach.  I cross the street every morning on my way to the strip of sand that I call home.  It’s not home because of the time I spend there, it’s home because of the quality of the time I spend there.

I go to the beach every day because it is the only place that I can kick time square in the ass.  Every day, I walk this Georgia Island beach, and every day I see what you will see with me today.  Sometimes I walk several miles to find it, sometimes it’s right here in front of the public pathway.  I find my youth, my family, and my life.

The tide is out.  There’s almost 100 yards of beach between the dunes and the water.  The sound of doves cooing on the street is replaced with the sound of the wind and the waves and the gulls as I get out onto the main beach area.  There aren’t a lot of people out at this time of the morning but the ones I’m looking for are always here.  I pass the kite fliers, the twenty-somethings throwing a football and drinking beer, and find my target:  A family of four, playing in the surf.

Every day, when I find them, the tears well up.  There’s always a family of four out here in the surf that matches what I had exactly.  A teenage girl, probably 15 or 16, attractive wife, little boy age 6 or 7, and the 40-something man.  As I approach, I slow down just to take them in.  I’ve stopped without even realizing it.  The little boy throws himself into the waves, sometimes getting through them unscathed and sometimes getting knocked off his feet.  The whole family revolves around Little Boy.  Teenager and Dad might go into the bigger surf for a bit, to take on bigger waves and body surf.  Mom stays with Little Boy, who all the while is squealing, yelling, punching waves.  He jumps into one but tries to dodge another.  Salt gets in his eyes, he tries to wipe it out.  Today, he needs help from Mom to get the sting out.  “Do you want to go back to the shore and get a towel?”  The answer is almost always no; what if the perfect wave comes along and I miss it?  Teenager and Dad come back from the big surf and they all orbit Little Boy again.  Inevitably, I get noticed by the father.  I’m obviously not a threat, I’m an old man and I’m dressed like one.  He looks up at me, as I’ve now stopped on the beach and I’m just standing and watching them.  This father, like most, keeps an occasional eye my way but I think he understands.  There is the most brief and complete communication that passes.  No words are spoken, nor would they be heard over the surf.  He’s saying I don’t consider you a risk.  I’m saying enjoy what you have.

To say it’s all fleeting is too simple, it’s a cliché without meaning.  I’m watching because for just a moment I can get lost in your family, 40 year old dad.  I can go back in time 40 years and be with my family again, through you.  I can be with my teenage daughter again, and have no knowledge of the constant, dull, throbbing agony that courses through the life of a man that has lost a child.  I can be with my little boy, when fishing and baseball and fighting the waves at the beach were important to him, as was being with his daddy.  Before I knew about his perversions, his boyfriend, and wondering if he is still alive and if so, where is he today.  I can be with my beautiful wife.  Before time broke us both down.  Before the seconds of the clock worked on us both like a constant sand blast, eating away the health, our youths, our lives.  Before cancer took her away.  I get about five minutes of this every day.  Please, father, don’t take it away.  Let me serve as your warning.  When you get that sunburn, when the sand has chaffed your crotch and you don’t want to come back out tomorrow because the games are childish and boring, and it’s physically uncomfortable, let me serve as the reminder:  go anyway.  Every exhale is a memory if you make it so.  Those kids will break your heart someday.  Let them be what you live for now.  Because some day, if you are lucky, you will have to put your pants on with a gaff hook.  And you will walk through a lonely world, trying to bring back the memories.  Don’t let the opportunity to make those memories get away.  You’ll never remember watching reruns of Seinfeld at the beach, but you’ll never forget that little boy’s squeal when the wave takes him down.  Some day, the memory of that little boy’s squeal may be the only thing that keeps you from putting on some soft music, drawing a warm bath, and slitting your wrists.

To stand and stare too long is not appropriate.  It’s ok to look in the window of someone’s life, but pulling a chair up to the dinner table is too much.  I start walking down the beach again, hoping to find another family that can give me another five minutes of what I so desperately need.

There they are, this time the girl is in her 20’s but still vacationing with her parents.  The boy is about 12.  They are crabbing with father, just the three of them.  I slow and watch, but don’t entirely stop this time.  As I’m passing, the boy sticks his finger out to let the crab pinch him.  He squeals and does a little peepee dance, shaking the crab back into the water.  “Don’t throw them back in the water, damnit, what’s wrong with you?”  “Sorry Dad, we’ll catch more.”  The fathers never realize that what just happened, those few seconds, are the prize.  The boy has all the wisdom here, Dad, not you.   Who gives a damn about the crabs anyway?  What is their value, compared with the value of what is going on around you?  Don’t bitch at him; laugh at him.  It’s your God-given right, and you all deserve it.

This is the end of the island.  My only choice is to go back now.  I pass the crabbing family again, just as the boy throws a crab at his sister.  She runs away about four big strides in the knee-high water, screaming “Skylar threw a crab at me!  I told you to quit that!”  She splashes back at him angrily.  This time, at least, the father just picks up the bucket without complaints.  “Let’s go, guys, we have enough.”  I hear the screaming and squealing continue and slowly fade behind me.

The family of four is just coming out of the surf in front of me.  Little Boy is running in front, all knees and elbows and indifference to anything but the moment.  Teenage Girl is next.  “Stevie, don’t go too far!”  Mom and Dad are last, and we meet each other on the beach as they walk to what marks their territory.  Their towels, beach chairs and sand castles sit above the surf line.  Dad’s eyes meet mine, as they did before.  I can’t tell if his eyes are wet from the surf, not at first.  His eyes linger on me just slightly too long and I realize with absolute certainty that he understands.  The surf can hide tears well.  He reaches out to hold his wife’s hand as he gives me the slightest hint of a nod and passes me.  He still has his identity.  But the second hand is ticking, like a blast of sand.  Each second, one little grain of sand.  And it will never stop.

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just got back from a vacation with family.

just got back from a vacation with family.  Spent the entire week playing with my 7 year old and my 22 year old on the beach, eating seafood, drinking distilled yeast piss, and generally doing whatever the hell I wanted.  Got a good bit of reading and writing done, too.  One week away from my office and I feel healthy again.  I wonder what a month would do?  or a lifetime?

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July 1, 2013 · 8:12 am