Friday, May 1, 2015


The recording was done in a few takes. I don't know how right it or the writing felt.

I have a feeling no matter the times I worked on either, they wouldn't feel right.

Imagination protects us.

It shields us against chaotic sights and dissonant sounds, bits of hard reality we can't face. We become courageous against the frightful, righteous before the wicked. It's not because of any intrinsic element that we change, no greatness or boldness attached to our person. It's the mere belief that we can be, that we have to be, the transformative capacity of disassociation that proves so powerful.

Dad was hitting Mom again. The reason didn't really matter. When he was drunk, any reason worked. Maybe she had gone out shopping too long without telling him. Maybe some money had gone missing, whether by his hand or her's. The reason wasn't so important as the fact that he had one.

I had suffered that before, a perceived slight outside my control. I couldn't remember what I had made on my spelling test. That's why I pulled down my pants and he raised up the belt. "What did you make?!" he would scream, and I would shakingly murmur the same sad defense.

"I don't know!" It wasn't enough. The closer his belt loomed, the more scrambled my thoughts became. My chubby body strained and my little fingers shook, trying desperately to find the answer he wanted so badly. It didn't even occur to me to lie. Lying would have been easier. It would have given me a letter grade, a number, something to appease my father and that strap of leather in his hand. I was struggling so hard because I wanted to give my father the truth.

But then, the truth didn't matter, either. Facts were never really that important to my father. He only wanted the answer he was looking for and nothing else would do. It was only with seconds to spare that I remembered the result, relief flooding my little body. I told him him the grade. He listened quietly. Down went the belt. Up went my pants. The situation was resolved.

It wasn't so easy here.

Dad screamed and Mom sobbed, her back to the closet door, her front to his bearded face. There was barely an inch between them, so close they could have kissed. They never kissed anymore. Instead bits of his spittle mixed with the tears running down her face, the only intimacy they still shared. She plead with him, but her words had limited effect. His temper kept flaring, building, building, like a thundercloud. We had already heard the thunder. Now we waited to see the tornado.

It didn't take long. His hands started to work their way up her shoulders, mean squeezes that translated into sharp shakes. The wood of the closet door rocked with the motion of her body, small hands moving to shield herself. She knew it was no use. He had beaten her so many times before that she knew hands couldn't help. I watched it all from the doorway with big, curious eyes. Perhaps I should have cared more.

But I didn't. Not really. I felt nothing beyond a removed interest, taking in the site of another scene. I didn't fear for my mother, nor did I cower before my father. Why would I? I was a child weaned in a failed marriage, raised around shouting and striking. It only took a few years for such sights to become normal to me. I had faced them, my mother had faced them, and we would face them again. It was like rain falling from the sky or wind whipping through the air. They were forces of nature that simply couldn't be controlled. Why sob at a rain cloud? Why weep at the wind?

And yet, I moved to stop it all. I took a step forward and stood inside the door frame. My hands tightened and nostrils flared. I would save my mother. But it wasn't nobility that prompted me to act.

It was mass marketing. In my chubby arm was a box of cereal, gold and blue, the image of a brown bear smiling lazily from it. Sugar Bear cut a heroic figure, a cereal mascot who was constantly under threat. Alligators, boa constrictors and the occasional grandma always sought to take what was his, the cereal that bore his image. Any bear would have been hard pressed to defeat such an extensive list of enemies.

Thankfully, he wasn't alone. With a few bites of his syrupy sweet Golden Crisp, Sugar Bear could defeat any foe. After all, it had essential, if unspecified number of, vitamins and minerals that prepared him for punishment. At that age, I didn't know much, but of one thing I was sure:

If the cereal could help a cartoon bear, it sure as hell could help me. So I dug my hand into the box and shoved a handful of the kernels into my mouth, chewing away. The change was almost instantaneous. I could feel the power surging up my arms, through my shoulders, granting a kindergartener the power of a bear.

"I'm coming to save you!" I chirped as I charged.

I didn't.

All it took was a swat of my father's hand and I hit the floor. The cereal spilled. I sprawled. I let out harsh, broken sobs. My parent's attention went from the violence and to me. My father fumed while my mother rushed over to me. For at least a few moments, the fight was forgotten. But none of it really mattered.

I was so certain that I would save the day. I knew that I would be her champion. Hard reality settled over me me as I lay on the floor in my mother's arms. I wasn't a hero. I wasn't even a bear. I was just a little boy in a bad situation, shattered of his illusions. I cried harder, burying my face into my mother's arms, a poor hiding spot from the truth.

Imagination protects us.

That is, until we learn better.

Sunday, April 5, 2015



Again another quicky on the voice recording. There are sections I'd love to go back on, but I think it turned out rather solidly for the time I put into it (maybe seven minutes). Hopefully I'm improving at this.

This kind of poked into my head. Love is always sad, and longing is even worse. Perhaps this is a part of me peeking out, leaving me more exposed than I'd care to admit. Old hurts, right?

"Do you remember the first time we came here?"

He did. It was a sunny sky over a bright field, the embodiment of light in one location. The environment seemed to scream cheer, of happy days that would never end.

Of course, he now knew better. Where green growth once spread, now only infection remained. Gray grass and skeleton trees spread before his eyes, the cadaver of better days. He felt her fingers slide along his arm. He leaned into the touch.

"That was a long time ago."

"Not so long ago. Not long enough that it can never be again." She was right. All it took was a wave of her finger and a bit of color arose. Yellow pierced grey, stretching, rising, a single spot in a blighted landscape. She had always loved daffodils, and that graceful flower made its appearance here.

"Where one arose, so can a hundred. A thousand. Flowers without name or number, guided by my will." She squeezed his arm now, urging, aching. "You know all you need do to make it happen."

"I can't." He wasn't so sure of the words. He shouldn't, but he certainly could. He wanted to. Everything in him yearned to see her again. Her hair, as warm as the summer sun, her smile, as comforting as a hearth fire. She was light and love, and to see that again might stoke the flames inside himself.

"Can't or won't?" she whispered. He could feel her breath at his ear, a gentle tickle, a faint caress, the whisper of intimacy. Her fingers dug into his skin, kneading, needing, a slow rub that made him tremble. He began to ache, to long, to miss the feel of her wrapped inside of his arms. Those shining blue eyes, that bright pink smile, the total adoration she reserved just for him.


The gentle knead grew sharp, nails biting rather than nipping. She laughed, but there was no light in it. That had gone out with her eyes. The longing in her lips turned to a low purr, a bedroom noise, coaxing, convincing, a smug superiority that asked for obedience but wanted worship.

"Do it. Do it and you'll have home, you'll have peace, you'll have me. How many years has it been since we held? Kissed? Fucked? How many years has it been since I was in your arms and you were happy?"

"Too many," he said, voice and body trembling as one. Her nails pulled at his skin, scraped, leaving little cuts along the way, tears that turned into rivers, lines of blood mixing and intermingling on their slow process down his back.

"Pull me up. Put me together. My arms from the East, my legs from the West, my head from the North, and my heart to the South. Make me whole again, my love, and I'll do the same for you." Her breath blew against his skin, icy, frigid, the stink of camphor, frankincense and the grave going with it. He reached up to the woman at his ear, brushing at the skin that chipped and flaked, at the cheek that crumbled with a single stroke.


Her reply wasn't nearly so sweet. It was a holler, a howl, a rejection of his own. The air whipped at his front as her hands ripped at his back, the circling fury of a cyclone. He squeezed his eyes and clenched his jaw, able to block out the sights, to bear the buffets, but never cease the sounds.

"I gave you everything! My love, my lust, my life, a sacrifice! I gave you the cord that hung above my mother's door, I handed you the box locked tight under the floor. I told you whispers of dreams no man had seen! I gave you everything and what did I receive?"

"A fate that I will always grieve," he intoned sadly. Slowly the wind died down. Slowly her nails pulled away. Soon he was left alone but for scars and flowers, some seen and others hidden. A cold wind blew against the bright daffodil at his feet, making it dance, having it sway. It and memories were all he had left.

He slammed down the shovel and wept.

Monday, March 30, 2015


It was a simple ball-peen hammer. A metal head, a wooden grip, manufactured on the cheap in China for the price conscious in America. The hammer was lined with scrapes here and dents there, some from missed chisels, others from strikes right on the mark, successes and failures, all. It was a whole lot of experience in one little tool. Really, it was good that Fatima was holding something that had its mettle tested by time.

It was all she had, after all.

The Thing shifted in the shop. Slowly it stalked, along the cabinets, around the generator, an awful silhouette in front of the blazing work light. Its form was dark, its shape was slithering, a creature that went bump in the night if any ever had. Of course, Boogie Men never did such damage.

Steven could attest to that. His blood still hadn't run cold, keeping its slow, sticky spread across the concrete floor. He had been a giant in body and heart, big, bearded, more a bear than a man. Steven seemed vital, essential, key to whatever god's grand plan. His chuckle shook houses and his grin grew the hearts of all who saw it. He was larger than life.

He died without a sound. All it had taken was a single swipe of its serrated tail and he had hit the floor, never to laugh again. There would be no more bear hugs from the big man. There would be no goodbyes.

It was a fate that Fatima would share if It found her. Her hand tightened around the tool. The Thing wasn't moving anymore. No, It had better things to do. Its head was sweeping, searching, looking for something -- possibly the one that got away. It surely had seen her, heard her -- Fatima's scream had probably been heard clear to Tulsa, though no help had been forthcoming.

In this neighborhood, help never did come. Which left her alone with It. The creature slowly arced its neck, raising its long snout into the air. Its jaws parted and its nostrils flared, once, twice, a hollow rasp following each time. The sound shook Fatima.

The footfalls terrified her. She hadn't had time to cry, but the emotion was there, if still undefined. Grand, flowing, a great swell held together by a dam composed of silly string and a prayer. Panic combined with that raw emotion, that fresh hurt, swirling and mixing, developing into something more. Fatima didn't have time to be sad. But anger?

Anger she could handle.

The Thing poked its head around the corner.

Consequently, so did her hammer.

It's been a while since I did a recording. I tried to be quick with it -- about three or four takes. The quality isn't what I usually expect, but I'm trying to build up my speed on it.

Here's hoping you enjoy it.

Also, Jesus Christ, it's been forever since I updated this thing. Depression, you silken whore!

Monday, March 9, 2015



They call it shell shock. There had to be some sorta term for it. You see your buddy ripped to ribbons by a Kraut machine gun and you tend to develop a sort of psychological notion, something more than a tiny twitch. You get bombarded by bombs for up to a week at a time, and you're stuck with a case of insomnia that's gonna last you a little longer than the war. It's a fear of enemy fire, a bit of panic when it comes to pressure, a "shock" to "shells" that fits the bill.

'Cept unlike actual shock, you never really recover. The experience sinks its claws into you, marking up your face, stealing the light from your eyes. There are lines a twenty year old shouldn't have, scars deeper than skin, changing young to old, man to monster. You can laugh and smile, of course, make the same old jokes and tell tired stories, but it's just not the same. They've ultimately lost their luster. They're just lines, rote recitation to pass for something resembling normal. You're just so happy to be home that you figure everything'll be copacetic in the long run.

But you never really left the Continent. Hell, you never made it of Argonne. You're angry and sad, and you hate the world. You wake in a cold sweat by the pop of a muffler in the middle of the night, you dream of ghosts who blame you for not being fast enough, smart enough, good enough, and the authorities have the goddamn temerity to call it shell shock.

Fuck them for that.

Fuck them for sending us there.

Thanks to Katie for helping me out. She read to a few prototypes of this that didn't sound nearly as good. Hopefully with her sound advice, I'll grow as a narrator.

Get it? Sound advice?

Oh, fuck you.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Of Fear and Fire

I'll admit that I'm scared.

For years I've cobbled together books. Some have been good, most have been terrible, but all have been crafted in the pursuit of something more. I want a better life, a brighter future and something profound offered by each written page. Progress is a sort of promise; an assurance that I can get where I need to be. The more I write, the closer I am to my goal.

I never realized how far away I truly am. Replies have passed before my eyes in what seems to be a swirl. Most of it's positive, really, praising the writing, complimenting the author, but... There's always a but, the big B-U-T, intended to follow the good with the bad. It's one simple word, three little letters, and yet they can make heaven into hell, twisting guts into knots, and turning sweet words sour. But it's simply too dark. But the main character's unlikable. But the story's just not for them. There are so many buts that interrupt hope, that introduce fear, that stop exhilaration before it can truly take off. Ultimately the replies are easy to bear because there are other editors, other opportunities, other chances to succeed.

But my chances are dwindling. A field of potential players has turned into a handful, with each new rejection putting me just a little closer to failure. Sometimes I want to scream, others I want to cry; ever knowing that my chances are limited and that my prospects are almost exhausted. I'm going up against the gatekeepers, and their doors are slowly closing. A piece of my heart, hell, a part of my soul is being denied, and I don't know exactly how to save either.

Even so, I do know how to start over. I know how to put words on the page, one after another, and sometimes even have them make sense. I know how to build back up the word count that I lost, a single sentence at a time, replacing the story that was rejected with something more. I've done it before and I don't doubt I'll have to do it again. Ultimately, it's because writers have a little bit of the phoenix in them. They're creatures of birth, death, and consequently, rebirth. We burn brightly before finally going dim, only to rise back up again, far more brilliant than before. Defeat isn't final, rejection isn't the end, refusal isn't ultimate -- they're only an opportunity to rekindle that burning fire, to stoke it higher than ever imagined and come back better.

I'm scared. I'm honestly terrified, but fear simply doesn't last. It gives way to a need to thrive, to grow, heading toward those goals that originally set us down the path. We all want something better, brighter, a bit of profound in the superficial. We don't want to hurt, we don't want to weep, we don't want to worry -- we all want success without the hurt along the way. But as we grow, we learn they're all part of the process, a little pain for a lot of gain.

Starting over will always be scary, but everything worthwhile begins with a little fear.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Girl Friday


I don't want to die.

It's not because my life is so sweet that it should continue. I'm not nearly that conceited. I've not got some grand goal I have to accomplish either, nothing big outside some simple revenge. It's not even the fact I've got somebody to live for, though she certainly does exist -- short, surly, keeping me from stepping too far outta line. No, I don't want to die like this for one simple fact that I certainly can't escape:

It'd be too fuckin' embarrassing.

I'm tied to a chair, which isn't anything new. The Tomte with a crowbar, however, certainly is. She's four feet of fury, yellow eyes narrowed, small teeth clenched, an inconsequential little thing until you're brought down to her level. Then she's hell on heels. She's currently working on a problem, and its name happens to be Johnny Sinclaire.

It's a problem I'd rather remain unfixed.

"Where's the money, Sinclaire?" she asks. Me, I could tell her the truth. Where it's set, stored, make life a little easier for myself.

'Course, where would the fun be in that?

"Why's a pretty 'lil dame like you worryin' 'bout money?" That's at least worth a rap on the knuckles -- she gives me two. I jerk forward, teeth clenched and feet stampin', ready to come up out of the chair and give the bitch a taste of her own medicine. Sadly the ropes hold and so do I, easing back down.

"Where's. The. Money?"

"Where's yer husband? I'll be happy to tell the man of the house." I probably deserve the crowbar to the teeth. She knocks my smile crooked and certainly makes it a sight redder. My fingers flex against the wood of the chair, a solid sort of cypress. There's no way in hell I'll be tearing through the wood, especially with an abused set of digits.

"What are you? Retarded? Dumb? Or do you just like pain? If so, I can give you a lot more where that came from." One thing I gotta respect about this broad is that she does exactly what she says. The Tomte winds back like a batter, steel slung over her shoulder. It's an admirable sort of stance, worthy of the Babe himself. What ain't so admirable is when the crowbar comes down, taking me right in the breadbasket. She shatters something deep inside, bringing black blood bubbling up on my lips and running down my white shirt.

I really liked that shirt.

"Yer gonna talk, human, one way or another. Why not save yerself the pain and me the effort?"

"What if I said I'm a conversationalist?"

"What if I said you were insane?"

"You probably wouldn't be too far off the mark." I flash a grin, my eyes glancing up to the shifting shadows. "Listen, you want somethin' and so do I. I spill the beans 'n what use do you got for me? At best, I get left here to rot away. At worst, you finish the job you already started. What's the fuckin' benefit for me? You gotta incentivize this shit." That seems to get her gears grinding, a frown lining her thin little face. Me, I've got no problem waiting. Every second passed brings the end a little closer.

At least, that's what I tell myself.

"What if you've got my guarantee? You tell me and I let you go, no harm, no foul. You leave me alone and I do the same to you, you of course forgetting about this 'lil money situation. That way we're not looking behind our backs, waiting for someone to jump us." She's lying, of course. It's all in her expression, an earnest face, but dishonest eyes. She'll get what she wants and then I'm fucked. No, I've got another plan.

"That's actually a problem for me." Her eyes slit.

"And what part of that's exactly a problem?" she asks in dangerous tones, lifting that crowbar up from her side. I ease up a finger, pointing at her. Or rather, behind her.

"I might have somebody here t'jump you." The Tomte freezes. Turns.

Me, I've got a reason for living. She's short, surly, and keeps me from stepping too far outta line. If I do manage to go too far, then she pulls me right back in. I say too much, she shuts me up. Ethel's a good gal.

She's also throws a mean sucker punch.

The story was decent, but I wasn't so pleased with the audio. I recognize in certain points I could have emphasized more, or brought more panache to it. We'll just chalk this down as a learning experience. Else I'm going to do twenty more takes on this damned thing, and slowly slip into madness.

Ia, ia, Cthulhu fhtagn!

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Audio Version:

I put in my deposit.

I guess you never thought I would.

I suppose it's because I threatened to for months without much else. I'd leave, I said, if you didn't get your act together. I'd put in my deposit if you didn't change. Then I'd hang around, hopeful, waiting for my words to spur your actions. And really, I knew it could work! I was so proud of you when you stopped smoking. Two hundred dollars a month was a hit to our finances, two packs a day was a hit to your health, and you ultimately overcame it for me. It touched me, moved me, made me feel like you loved me.

Of course, you never really did quit.

You lied. You lied about the smoking, just like you did about everything else. Finances, actions, motivations, they all were lies, long kept, but always exposed. The smell of Febreeze was overwhelming when I entered your room. The loan notices were found easily enough in the mail. The repossession of the cars was obvious to everyone with eyes. You lied, and you lied, and when you couldn't lie anymore, you got angry.

God, you were always angry. Screaming, yelling, insulting, telling me things no mother should tell her son. I was a bitch, a bastard, a monster, the son of my father that I always feared. I was your regret, your sorrow, a chain around your neck, the reason you couldn't socialize despite my pleading, the source of your misery despite my attempts to help.

I got tired, so very tired. Tired of fighting, and arguing, and screaming. Tired of crying, and hoping, and begging. When I tried to leave, you said nobody would take me. When I attempted to go, you said I would never be able to make it on my own. Who could love me, who could understand me, who would tolerate me? You called me immature and awful, angry and cruel, without ever realizing the irony that if I was all of those things, it was because of you.

You landed a million little hurts that drove me away.

I wanted to save you. From your demons, your past, the specter of my father, and the memories of your mother. I wanted to save you from years of hurt and decades of pain, and their ever-expanding march into the future. I wanted to save you from the worst enemy you had: yourself.

Ultimately, I chose to save myself. I put in my deposit, then I'll pay my rent. I'll pack and I'll leave. What we had will disappear, a bad memory from worse days. I'll grow and I'll expand, and I'll make you proud, and maybe I'll even save you. But not here, and not now.

I put in my deposit, and I left you behind.

I'm so sorry.