Posts Tagged ‘writing

28
Feb
09

New Short Story–Part 1

The Welder

 

I been thinkin bout this thing for a while now. I gots to tell someone bout it.

I been thinkin bout what makes people go. Well, what makes them do good in life. How come some people’s so sad and others strut around all giddy and happy.

 So what came to me was Jake Stephens. Ol Jake lived in a trailer down my driveway right next to the garage. Skinny? You aint seen a man skinny as Jake, but he’d work as a horse every day. Every damn day. Never had friends ova. Don’t know he had any cept maybe the guys he worked with.

“Beer?” Jake’d ask me anytime I went to check on him. He’d hold out a cold can. Kept nudgin it at me. “Beer?” Now I don’t drink much. Can admit there’s a day or two when a sip of Single Barrel does me some good, but not too often.

See, here’s what was strange about Jake. He was the only man I ever met seemed happy without connections.

“That’s life,” he’d say before taking another sip of beer. “You wake up, go to work, come back home, have a little somethin’, get up do it again.”

He had eyes brighter’n a light house. But like an icy color–blue. Arms like taut ropes, always movin, doin somthing. Always got a project.

“I’m a mechanic, John. That’s what I  do, jus like my father did.” He’d pull out a smoke  after he’d said something like that. “That’s alls I got to offer anyone. What a man does is what he is. ” His eyes would sparkle like you wouldn’t believe when he start talkin and drinkin a few. Still be in green Dickys, holes burned through all over like someone’d poured holes out a shaker. His hands had cracks on em, an his fingers were knotted up. Looked like driftwood.

Then he’d say this after he kept drinkin: “Yep, a man is what he does. That’s what Dad use a say.” A man jus layin there don’t mount to much. Some people likes ta think a man’s worth somethin even when he’s layin round. I say he’s worth less than nothin. He’s takin, not makin.”  He’d take a few more sips.  ” An a man either has a family or’s tryin ta get one.”By then Jake’d have a sheen coverin his eyeballs. A glow bout his face, too. He’d fall asleep for two minutes at a time. Think he’d be sleepin anyway, then his eyes’d pop open an he’d start jabberin away again s’if he’d been pretendin ta sleep. Maybe he’d jus been thinkin.

“You know I love ma boy, John. Evey day I get up an go and do my thing so I can be a man worth bein, jus hopin ma boy’ll see me an be proud for the first time. Proud a his papa.”

Now Jake never said a word bout his boy till he’d made a twelve pack disappear. But the beer washed away all Jake’s surface thoughts so that the thoughts he’d been thinkin without even knowin it came out.

I guess I’d known Jake then for at least fifteen years. Knew him from when we used to have breakfast at Jill’s Diner. Heard he was a drinker, but just sos you know, I never known him ta miss a day’s work on account of it. When he’d start talkin about the work he’d do on the cars and some weldin job he had comin up–I knew he was the real deal. I’m a welder myself.

When Jake got his divorce, only thing he had left was his camper–trailer. I had plenty of place to put him on my lot, so I let him settle down by my garage. He was down there, I’d say, bout three years. Didn’t change his schedule much. Sometimes he sucked up some overtime at work on Saturdays. Generally, we’d have breakfast most everyday at Jill’s, and most nights Jake’d pull down another twelve-pack.

Then, bout four months ago, somethin clicked in im. Jus somethin I could see was different. Despite everything, divorce from his wife an the beer an not havin his house, Jake was such a happy guy. Least he seemed it.

Right before Christmas I think it was, yeah I remember cause it was about twenty below with the wind that night–I went down to make sure Jake didn’t need anything.

“Common in, John”, Jake said. He stepped away from the door and fell back into his chair, which should have hit the dump about ten years prior. The way he fell back looked as if he’d given up on somthin. Normally, Jake’s a wiry lookin fellow. All stringy an jumpy. But that night he was kinda swishin around all loosy–goosy. His eyes told the rest of it, cause even when Jake was three sheets to the wind, his eyes normally sparkled.

He started in on me.

“John,” He looked like he’d start bawlin. “You know a man’s either got a family or’s tryin ta get one?” He chucked an empty can he’d been holdin, right over his shoulder. It bounced off the bathroom door an settled back by his foot.

“Yeah, you said that before an I guess you’re right.”

“An I’m glad for a lot of things, you know. Got a good job. That’s more’n my father had most a the time. Prolly worse a man not have a good job than no family. Wanna hand me anotha?” He flicked his hand at the beer case, which was torn open an layin by the front door. Bout six left in it. Guess maybe a draft was keepin the beer cool cause there was a pile of snow hedged along the bottom of that door an I could see flakes flyin up from the wind gettin in. I did what he wanted.

“Mind?” I said. I held another beer in my paw after he’d grabbed his.

“Plenty more where tha came from, John.”

So I popped it open and took a draw.

“This is it, I think.” Jake took me by surprise when he said that.

There was a long time before I said anythin. Just sat there waitin for him to finish.

“What’s it?”

“This is the last Christmas, I think.” He cleared his throat, settled down a little further in his chair. But then the old Jake showed up, a little grin on his face. “Sent Bobby, ma boy, Bobby, a letter. Told im how good I’d done. Told im how sorry I was for all the stupid shit I’d done long time ago.” His grin went down. “Sent the letter last week an told his mother ta tell im to look for it. Ain’t heard back yet.”

“He’ll  get it, Jake. Just take it easy. Why not come up to the house an have some pumpin pie? Vanessa made it today. She puts extra cinnemon in it. It’d win a ribbon somewhere.”

“Naw. That’s alright. Think I’m settled in for the night. Jus thinkin.”

“Don’t think too much,” I said. “it’ll get you in trouble, is all. All the thinkers out there, seems ta me ain’t done much but get us in trouble. Don’t get much done, an others seem a take their ideas places they weren’t meant ta go.”

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01
Feb
09

Part 3 Free-ebook project

Continuing Chapter 1

Or click as it were. David even gave a theatrical jump as if a bullet had really passed through his Medulla Oblongata. He fell back onto the bed, dissatisified with the experiment. His ability to carry out his own assissination could never be proven beforehand. That was the problem with all models. They really didn’t prove much. They just made people–mostly labratory-bound scientists–feel secure and smart. Like prophets. He hid the pistol under the mattress. The phone rang.

***

“It could get worse”, said Andrew. He dropped a magazine from his assault rifle, pulled a fully loaded one from his battle vest and stuffed it into the mag well.

“I really fucking hate it when people say that.” Trindle Drake stopped firing just long enough to glare at Andrew, both of them huddled like rabbits in a hole. Their hole happened to be surrounded by sandbags, their only protection against the withering fire that had kept them pinned for two hours now. Trindle returned to firing at the figures some 100 meters away behind a rock outcropping. “How the hell could it get worse?” He squeezed off a burst, then snapped on the mic on his helmet. ” Space Superiority Ship, Hoden, this is Reaper Eight, do you copy, over?” He leaned his head down near the damp clay at the bottom of the hole so that he could hear any reponse from Hoden’s crew.  Andrew was firing again.

“Tell them I’m running out of ammo,” said Andrew over his own gunfire.

Hoden, do you copy?” He could only shake his head. The Russians were already too close. It was only a matter of time before they’d pull a suppress and flank manuever. Trindle was surprised he and Andrew hadn’t caught a spiker grenade already. He removed his next to last magazine from its pouch and slammed it into his rifle. “Single shots. Go to singles. We’re purely defensive now.” He watched Andrew flip the fire selector on his rifle then go back to a supported position.

“This is Hoden, Reaper Eight, we copy. What is your grid?”

25
Jan
09

Octavia Butler

Science Fiction Author, Octavia Butler

Science Fiction Author, Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler, who passed away in 2006, was the only female, black, science fiction writer that know of. I’m going to try to find some of her novels here at the library. It’s very interesting to me when someone steps outside of their demographs comfort zone. She won a bunch of awards, including the Hugo Award, which is one of the highest honors of science fiction.

I’d like to see how much Butler was able to, if at all, to stay outside the easy, politically correct tide. I’ve read some of her interviews and I’m very impressed. For instance,in one interview which took place around the time of Hurricane Katrina and the openings of the Iraq war, she was asked how she felt at that time. Her answer impressed me in that, while she was not happy at all with either of the situation, she didn’t think it was the End of America. Here’s Butler: “But that doesn’t mean I think we’re all going down the toilet, I just don’t see where that hope will come from. I think we need people with stronger ideals than John Kerry or Bill Clinton. I think we need people with more courage and vision. It’s a shame we have had people who are so damn weak.”

Precisely, Octavia, and bless you for saying so.

She was also asked about what fiction had her attention at the time, and she responded about a book called Crater of Doom, by Walter Alvarez. On this she says: “It’s a history of the finding of the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs. I like it because it shows more about how science is done than most books that you read about the subject. It’s talks about how the way we think about science can become religious if we are not careful. There were people who were firmly entrenched in the belief that things can only happen one way, they found it difficult that it could happen another way.” 

Butler’s views are almost assuredly left-leaning. For one thing, that seems to be the current science fiction trend, as most sci-fi assumes a godless universe. None the less, I’m willing to give anything a shot. Maybe I’ll learn something along the way.

I’ll give some book reviews to tell everyone what I think about Butler’s work.

My favorite science fiction authors are: Robert Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, Roger Zelazny, Lucius Shepard, Robert O’Brien, and most of all–PK Dick.  I almost added William Gibson to this list but I think he’s overrated in hind-sight.

I tend to avoid “hard science fiction” as I believe it’s an effort to dazzle an audience with scientific knowledge, most of which is probably actually quasi-scientific. I like sci-fi to tell me a good story, get me involved in the characters and effectively transport me to another reality. Hard sci-fi seems stilted and void of humanity. There are exceptional stories is the sub-genre of course, but such legends as Asimov and Arthur C. Clark

Till then.

21
Jan
09

Continuing the Free ebook Project

Continuing Chapter 1

It was a test of his willingness to end it. To end the pain, the humiliation. Shove his fist up the rear of those that doubted him, that hated him for no reason. It was an escape from guilt, and stress. No more bills, no more targeting packages at The Cave. No more sex, no more coffee. No more damn cats…

The world would be shocked into loving him. He’d slap them in the face as quickly as his gray matter slathered itself on the ceiling tiles, and they’d just adore him. The world loves dead people. That must be, David considered, why humanity is so good at making people dead; more to love.

The gun metal tasted just as David thought it would. The smell of lubricant and its accompanying flavor made his sinuses tingle, then burn. With his right thumb, he reached up and cocked the serrated hammer. He reflexively squinted when the hammer locked into place. Then he placed his thumb inside the trigger guard, and began, ever so slightly to increase the pressure. He began to gag a bit, the barrel of the weapon nudging his dangling uvula, his tongue rolling back into a ball to expel the instrument of David’s destruction.

Where did his will begin? Where was David’s complicty, here? His tongue rejected death. What part of David would not? Where was the line, that could be found under a scientist’s microscope, that clearly defined what was David, and what was instinct?

Onrushing death made one so philosophical. And philosophy changed nothing. Only actions moved the world. Never thinking. Don’t think; just do.

Bang.

20
Jan
09

The Free-ebook Project

Let’s experiment. I’m going to write, and hopefully someone’s going to read. I’ll publish a bit at a time, on this blog, of a book which I’ll craft one blog post at a time. No outlines; barely an idea of what it’s about; little researching. Only me entering what I can only call a transandental state to see things I can’t dream, know things that aren’t true, and hopefully entertain someone along the way.

John Cheever once said, and I paraphrase (I think): I may be bad at writing, but I’m worse at everything else. One chapter at a time, from the nothingness in my head.

PROLOGUE

This is a story of two wars, one long, one forever. This is the tale of two men, one strong, one trying to be. This story is not today, but reaches just beyond tomorrow to a barely discernible future of what may be, but probably won’t.

It is a terrible and to some, unbearable truth, that living beings, who have will and intelligence will kill in order to remain themselves alive. Some will kill for baser reasons. And some will kill–and even die–for the lives of others.

Then there are those who fall into the ever-widening gray chasms of modern philosophy. They fight because it is all they know. They fight because to live without danger and without the ultimate distractions of battle would  allow them enough time to sink into nihilism. So they choose to be near death as much as possible, and numb themselves with the smell of burning cordite, the screams of the dying and the chills that crawl along spines when they and their comrades conquer the enemy,  defend the weak, or detonate 50 lbs. of C-6, just to see how big a boom it can make.  

Chapter 1

He press-checked the pistol’s chamber to make sure it was empty. It was. He sat hunched, on the edge of his bed, wearing briefs and a white tank-top. The sheets lay mounded in the middle of the mattress. The overhead fan spun and hummed as if trying to call to him, to wake him from a dream. He tapped his kneecap with the butt of the pistol to make sure he was indeed awake. He was.

Angela would not be home for a couple of hours, at least. He looked at the ceiling, considering the damage he would, or could do there, from where he sat. His wife would have to live in this house after he was gone, and she’d lay in this bed and stare at a ceiling, maybe as another man made love to her. The hole made by his .45 caliber pistol would be plastered over, but the subtle difference in shading would be seen. She’s remember the husband that’d left her a widow, because he was so weak. This world had been too much for him, even though he hadn’t experienced a spoonful of its horrors, compared to some of the other men that he worked with. There were no excuses for this weak husband. Women only liked weak puppies and weak children. Weak spouses meant a lack of security,  and security was one of the fundamental needs of every human being.

His upper body began to rock a bit, though David didn’t notice. He barely noticed when the barrel of the gun entered his mouth. Only the blued metal clicking against his incisors made him remember what this little test-run was about.

To be continued…

    

04
Jan
09

Story Hits #1 on Helium.

Here it is: http://www.helium.com/items/488564-short-stories-life-lessons

30
Dec
08

Rudyard Kipling Rules.

I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:

O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mr. Atkins,” when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.

Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy how’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;

While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind,”
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country,” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
But Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!

~Rudyard Kipling~

 

!Notes

“Tommy Atkins,” or just “Tommy,” is the name popularly given to the typical British soldier.
red-coat — an old fashioned term for a soldier (they used to wear red coats)
public-house — a pub, drinking house
publican — the pub owner
stalls — best seats near the stage
blackguards — ruffians (pronounced “blaggards”)
the Widow — here – Queen Victoria




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