Tuesday, August 30, 2011


      Today and tomorrow are going to be strange days for this blog. Today is just incredibly busy. Tomorrow I am having surgery (here's hoping I don't die!). It's very minor, and so I really shouldn't die. Suffice to say, if I do perish, I will be quite upset with my surgeon. As for the blog, I have no time to write today, and will be bed-ridden tomorrow, so I am digging up some more old stuff.

      Today's post is the first page or so of a short story I wrote a bit ago. I'm still editing it to get it as good as possible, but I figured it would be interesting to see what kind of response the original draft gets. So here is the first draft of a yet to be titled short story of mine. Let me know what you think, as I could use the critique to improve the final draft. Cheers!


      Four brave warriors advanced up the dirt path to the mouth of a great cave. Behind them lay a trail of ferocious lizard-men. They were now quite harmless, due in large part to the removal of their heads, although in certain cases a repeated stabbing had had to suffice. The warriors were ruthless and efficient, but they needed to be. The lovely princess had tasked them with slaying the evil dragon lord, Pyrran earlier that day, and each man was eager to complete the quest and receive his reward.
      “Okay, so we've killed how many lizard guys?” inquired Knight Anthony.
      “I'm coming up with 20.”
      “Yeah, me too.”
      “Damn, I only got 19. I'll be right back,” said Squire George, and he jogged towards a lizard-man he had spotted behind a nearby tree.
      “We'll wait, but I'm going to take a bathroom break.” said the leader of the group, Knight-Commander Ruggles.
      “Make it fast!” shouted George, parrying a vicious blow from his opponent and stabbing him lightly for the 7th time. “I'm almost done!”
      “We were waiting for you, you can wait for us.” said Captain Manshaft. “I have to go to the bathroom too.”
      George sheathed his sword, having managed to heroically throw a medium-sized vial of acid on the lizard-man, and strolled back to the group. “You know, I can't believe you haven't had to change that yet.”
      “Yeah, well, you and me both,” laughed Manshaft. “Don't you worry though, I've got another great name all ready to go if they make me change it.”
      “Back!” shouted Ruggles. “George, you know there's a lizard-man attacking you, right?”
      George turned around and was surprised to find that the beast he had thought to be nobly slain was instead very much alive, very much disfigured by acid burns, and had been slashing away at George's back for the past minute. Letting out a weary sigh, George spoke a few magic words and touched the lizard-man on the shoulder. The creature suddenly stopped moving, becoming frozen in place. Then, with a sound similar to smacking one's lips, which did not seem to correctly capture what occurred visually, the lizard-man exploded.
      “Shit! Dude, when did you learn that?” asked Ruggles, who was now thoroughly jealous, as the most impressive method of killing he could employ was hitting things repeatedly with a large, blunt object.
      “I got it right after that last quest we finished. You know, from the old witch in the swamp.”
      “Ugh! I forgot to talk to her again. I guess I'll do that later.”
      “I'm back! Let's go!” said Manshaft.
      Having emptied their bladders and slain Pyrran's guardians, the four men entered the gaping maw of the cavern. Once inside, finding the great dragon proved to be of no difficulty. The cave was comprised of one enormous chamber, and the shiny, green leviathan slumbered in it's center. Various rock formations were scattered about and would certainly make for excellent cover. An, experienced group of adventurers, the men knew that dragons tended to breathe fire quite liberally. Charred skeletons, the remains of warriors past, served as a testament to the immense power of their foe. To prepare, every possibility had been accounted for. Their armor had been enchanted to better shield against flames, their bags had been filled with healing potions and salves, and their blades sharpened to better deal with scaly hides.
      It was then, while the warriors were taking up position to strike, that George heard the footsteps coming from behind him. His mind shifted into overdrive, quickly summoning a series of frail excuses to delay the inevitable. His face changed from one of determination to one of despair, which he hoped would gain him some sympathy from what approached. George turned around just as the door opened.
      “George, honey? Your dad would love it if you would mow the lawn.”
      “I know, mom!” George had, through a mix of practice and teenage hormones, developed a way spitting out the word mom as though it were an insult.
      “Are you playing that game of yours again?”
      “Yeah...” He could tell where this was going. It was the same conversation they always had. George's mother thought he spent far too much time up in his room by himself playing a computer game. George thought his mother had unreasonable demands and often interrupted the game. Each walked away from their verbal sparring sessions feeling worn, angry, and thinking the other to be incapable of understanding logic.
      “You know it's probably going to start raining later,”
      “It's not going to.”
      “and when it does your dad's going to complain that the lawn isn't mowed.”
      “Fine! I'll mow it!” George shouted in resignation, and he stood up to begin storming past his mother as he had done so many times before. He was midway across the room, and really had an impressively sulky look on his face, when he realized he had jumped the gun. His mom hadn't really complained about the game. He hadn't even tried to say he'd mow the lawn “later”. He hadn't even used the voice he had developed specifically for procrastination and faking sick. He shouldn't have agreed to mow the lawn. Somehow he had skipped right to the end of the argument without going through all the yelling and lying.
      Suddenly, George found himself wondering if he was actually angry.  As the significance of that thought dawned upon him, George struggled to continue his storming. His face looked more confused than anything, but, having moved a fair distance already, he was locked into the action. Trying to maintain his angst the best he could, George continued stomping his feet and sighing excessively all the way down the stairs. At least mowing the lawn would give him time to figure out what the hell happened inside his own head.

      School had never been a problem for George. By putting in a little effort straight A's would have been his. Unfortunately for George's report card, he had long ago discovered that putting in zero effort resulted in mostly A's with a few B's thrown in, which he considered positively good enough. His time in school was mostly spent talking to friends, watching the clock, and stealing the occasional brief glance at Jennifer White. She was in five of his seven classes each day. How any person could be so smart, funny, popular, and beautiful all at once, George could not fathom. He was even sure that her name was the best possible combination of first and last names there ever was. It was the name that flowed through his mind constantly, waiting for a break in his thoughts through which to come pouring out. There had been some very nearly catastrophic events in class as a result. One day in U.S. History his brain, drunk off her name, tried to convince him that Jennifer White was, in fact, the bold leader who was pictured sailing across the Delaware River. He hated her name and its annoying tendency to cripple his intellect. That wasn't the worst of it though.
      “Boy she looks good today, doesn't she, George?” said Anthony with a smirk.
      “Probably wore that skirt just for you.” laughed Ruggles.
      “Shut up!” The worst of it was that his friends knew how much he liked Jennifer White. “Where's Eugene anyway?” asked George, desperate to change the subject.
      Anthony scanned the various lunch lines. “I think he's still in the line for pasta. They had the good meatballs today.”
      “You did not just call the fucking meatballs 'good', did you?”
      “Ruggles, I like the fucking meatballs.”
      “Dude, fuck the meatballs!”
      “What are we fucking?” Eugene asked George. He had managed to make his way across the cafeteria and take a seat at their corner table without anybody noticing. George always wondered how Eugene was able to go so easily unnoticed with the mop of fiery curls on his head, but he was no longer surprised by it. The group had decided it was one of his secret ginger-powers.
      “What is wrong with us?”
      George only managed a shrug, his mind turning back to Jennifer now that the conversation was no longer about her. She was only six tables away.
      “I'm not saying that at all! They just have this secret fucking seasoning that the other ones don't!”
      She was getting up to put her tray back. Her rich brown hair was perfectly straight and perfectly shiny. Sometimes she curled it. She walked playfully, as if listening to music that nobody else could hear.
      “I don't know! I just like. The fucking. Meatballs!”
      She always smiled. Even putting her tray back, she was smiling.

      I think we'll stop there for now.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Night Terrors

       The lights in their bedroom window were on all night. It was mildly disconcerting, but, Michael reassured himself for the umpteenth time, there were plenty of possible reasons for it. Despite the occasional paranoid thought, he knew there was almost no chance the young couple would be home. The newspapers were not piling up on the front porch, but only because the friendly neighbor had, presumably, been asked to hold onto them until the end of the vacation. Their year-old, midnight-blue Prius sat in the driveway, as it had since the day they had left for Aruba. So the lights, figured Michael, were either on because they had decided to stay home, or because of those timers that switched lights off and on to deter criminals. The former seemed incredibly unlikely, and in the case of the latter, Michael was hardly deterred.
       He shoved the last of the nay-saying thoughts out of his mind, picked up his hammer, and stepped silently out of his car. As he crossed the street towards the house, he pulled on the black ski mask. Even after doing this for so long, the damn thing still never sat right the first time, and it took several seconds of rearranging to get both eye holes over his eyes. For all the trouble Michael had with the mask, the rubber gloves had always been even more aggravating. After years of having to take a one minute time-out after barely beginning a robbery to get them on properly, he had finally switched to genuine leather gloves. They had proved much more efficient, and he was glad he had sprung for the kind lined with rabbit fur. The weather this time of year was pleasant enough during the day, but when the sun went down the cold was enough to slow down fingers, which could mean game over for even the most experienced thief. Michael was sporting one of his many black turtlenecks, a pair of black slacks, and an off-brand pair of matte black running shoes. Everything was fairly tight fitting, lest a garment become snagged at an inopportune moment. The clothes weren't special, or even expensive, but when the entire outfit was on Michael could feel himself change. He became a ghost.
    Michael walked to the left side of the house. The wall was fairly exposed to the street, but  nobody would be driving about this neighborhood at four in the morning. The bedroom window was on the second floor, directly above where he now stood. Getting up there would be easy enough; Michael had always been a great rock climber, and the skill transitioned well into scaling buildings. Once at the window a quick rap with the hammer and he could unlatch it and be inside. He cleared his mind and began the climb. It was just after reaching the top of the first floor window frame that he heard an impossible sound. There was a crunch of tires on asphalt as the car turned the corner. It was far too dark to see if it was the police or not. The headlights washed slowly over the entire street. Fear burst forth from the mental calm Michael had been in. It was only thanks to experience that he was able to remain motionless while the adrenaline pumped through him. The lights crept closer and closer. The car was traveling mind-numbingly slow. As the swath of light first landed on him he could almost feel its heat. Then, in a second, it was gone. The car had passed.
       Michael popped off of the wall and landed lightly on his feet. Whether or not the driver of the vehicle had spotted him, he was far too rattled now to continue. He jogged back over to his car and got inside. Michael looked back up at the house and the bedroom light stared back down at him tantalizingly. As he drove off down the street, Michael soothed himself with the knowledge that he would have another chance. Tomorrow night there would be no interruptions.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I want really badly to make this a daily thing, but sometimes there just isn't time. Fortunately there are these little scraps of writing littering my hard drives. Some are trash, some need expanded on, and some, like the one I chose for today, I'm not really sure how I feel about. Hell, I barely remember writing it.


      I am a happy man. I am a dying man. People tend to think the two are mutually exclusive, and I guess that on average they would be right. There is a trick to it though; I am surprised more dying folk don't talk about it. As long as you're not spending your time thinking about the end of your time, you can spend your time enjoying the time you have left. That's all there is to it. It's a mental thing. Reign in your brain.

Friday, August 26, 2011


I work a job in retail. I won't say which store, but it's one of the bigger ones. I spend my day back in the electronics department. I love it there. Granted, it is minimum wage, and some parts of the job aren't even as enjoyable as staring at a wall, but for somebody, like myself, who practices the art of people-watching, it can present you with some of the most unique specimens our species has to offer.

I feel like many future posts may be devoted to all the different and wonderful characters I meet during the day. In general I've noticed that my writing tends to flounder if it is entirely out of my head. Fiction, like any good lie, needs to keep one foot in reality for it connect and sound believable. At least, that's how I feel about it.

One of my favorite things to examine of the people who visit my department is parenting style. Lot's of mom's and kids come back my way on the hunt for video games. More than anything, it drives home just how much the parent plays a role in shaping the attitude of their kids. I've seen so many jaded parents come in (generally these are the ones in their late 20's) and buy their kids a game just so they shut up. They barely look at the kid. It's almost like they were buying a treat for their dog so it would stop barking at them. The kids on their own sound like entitled brats. Some people would blame the kids behavior for the parents attitude, but those people probably also failed at being a good parent. They are the disinterested and uninvested.

At the other end of the spectrum we have the kids who come in with a parent that obviously cares about them. They get the game they want, but when they do, they are grateful. They say thanks. They look curious, but not obnoxious. It's such a hard difference to put into words, but in person it is so incredibly easy to make the distinction between the two. These parents are the loving ones. They are the ones who poured some of themselves into their kids.

It has gotten to the point where when I see just a parent or just a kid, I have no trouble picturing exactly what the other must be like. The other day a kid came in looking for a PSP. I told him the price and he said that was too much. Before he left, though, he gave me this gem.

"You want to know how bad I have it?" he said, double chin threatening to roll onto his brand-name-cool-clothes.
"How bad do you have it?"
"I only have a Wii, DSi, PS2, and some computer games."
"Wow. That's rough." I said. I then lost any remaining respect for the kid when he bought my oh-so-poorly disguised sarcasm.
"Yeah, I know."

Only. I only have.

Care to guess which group his parents fall into?

Again, sorry that this post ended up being less than happy. I swear I usually write lighthearted stuff. Next post, I promise :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

So you want to be a writer...

Yes, I do. Me and everyone else.

They tell me that if I want to be a writer, I'm going to have to start writing. They recommend keeping a journal. If you keep a journal, you can capture your best ideas and daily observations to save for another day. They say it takes ten-thousand hours of work to become a true master of anything. They say all of this, and they say it in the most sympathetic tone they can.

If you say you want to be a writer, you are treated, preemptively, as a failure. I find it sad and funny. Every writer starts out hearing tales of the hardships that await. We hear how the great writers were all depressed alcoholics. The funny thing is, the real hardship is worrying about the hardship. The whole world tells us we need to prepare for the worst, because as writers that is surely what awaits us. If we want to succeed we need to be confident, but how can we be if the very mention of our career brings us sympathy? Yet on we go, marching confidently into oblivion.

They recommend keeping a journal. This is mine.