Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thanks

Today, I received my first negative blog review.  Regarding the short story with Lucius and Timoni, I was told, "I didn't like it."  Now, everyone is entitled to their opinions. I'm not offended at all.  I am amused by the reasoning. 

First, the person didn't like the genre.  I can understand that.  My personal feeling is that genre is of little importance if the story is good and, more importantly, the characters are engaging.  But that's me and I can agree to disagree on that.

The second reason is not unique to my critic.  They have come to expect a certain style from me, which if you've been here a while or you've scrolled through my archives, is kinda funny.  My subject matter, tone, and style have always changed pretty dramatically from post to post and it seems that each reader has their favorite. 

What has never changed is my voice.  And for this particular reader, I think that's the issue with the newer stuff.  The older stuff was "me," my thoughts, my emotions, my profane misuse of the English language.  When I'm writing fictional pieces, it's me, but it's not me.  I'm still the one behind the keyboard typing the words but the words aren't just my rants or memories. 

In a lot of ways, the fiction I write is a much deeper glimpse into who I am.  While I have touched on very serious and personal subjects in my blog, fiction is a window to the imagination.  As fucked up as I've ever been in real life, it's nothing compared to what my imagination has come up with and I've kept to myself. 

I don't mind negative feedback.  I like that people can be disappointed because I didn't post their favorite type of post.  That means they have a favorite type and that's pretty flattering. 

So, to this reader, and any of you that are disappointed to find me writing other than in your favorite style, I just want to say, thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading here and I will work on getting something more to your liking up in the future. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Surprise

Surprise, it's my birthday and I'm cheating a little bit. 

I had a shitty day at work today.  I'm sure if my doctor had checked my blood pressure, he would have admitted me to the hospital.  I have a low threshold for stupidity and damned if someone didn't set stupid free to run amok today. 

Got home from work and my wife gave me my presents, made me dinner and fed me my favorite cake, German chocolate.  We watched tv and just relaxed.  That's how I like my birthdays now that I'm old.  Spare me the "39 isn't old" stuff.  If this were ancient times, I couldn't type this because there weren't computers, oh and I'd already be dead.  I'm not sensitive about my age.  If you are, then you are free to call yourself young.  I'm old and I'm ok with that.  I plan to be old for a very very long time. 

Anyway, since it's my birthday, I going to repost the story portion from my B post 2 years ago when I last did the challenge.  It's the story of my best and worst birthdays which just happen to fall in the same 24 hour period.  I hope you enjoy it.  For those that have already read it, I hope you enjoy it again.

                                              -----------------------------------


April 22nd, 1983.

Being born on the 22nd in a military family kinda sucks. It's smack dab in the middle of paydays. Money grows tight. My birthdays had always been as nice as my brothers' had been. They were both smart enough to be born closer to paydays, same day, different months.

But this year mom sat me down a few days before my birthday and told me that a bill she wasn't expecting came due and that my party would have to be delayed. I would have a cake but I wouldn't be getting a present until maybe the following week when dad got paid again.

I tried to be a big boy about it. I was spoiled and even at this age I knew it. My brothers and I had so many toys we literally couldn't put them all away. So I did try to understand that my mom and dad loved me even if I didn't get a party until the end of the month.

Truthfully, I was ok with it. I didn't mind. Right up until my birthday. No one seemed to even notice. It wasn't as though we couldn't celebrate my birthday, it was as if it wasn't my birthday at all.

We used to walk up to where dad worked at the recruiting station and then walk home with him. I knew my dad wouldn't let me down. He'd acknowledge my birthday. The entire walk back very little was said and even less said about my god damn birthday.

I was getting pissed off. It's my fucking birthday people. I don't need a present but for the love of all that is holy, tell me you're happy I was born!

I walked dad right up to the front of the house, turned on my heel, and headed for my bike.

My dad called after me and asked me if I was coming in. I don't remember my exact reply but I told him I would be riding my bike, I'd come home later.

I jumped on my bike and pedaled as fast as my skinny legs would move. Tears ran down my cheeks as I ranted in my head about how no one loved me and how I wish they'd all die and how it would serve them right for not caring about me.

I rode my bike to the bushes by the train tracks. The bushes lined a fence that ran beside the tracks, forming a great fort for kids to hide in. Which is exactly what I did. For a while, all I could think about was how heart broken I was. But, me being me, my attention turned to some rocks and I picked one up and threw it toward the tracks. From there my imagination kicked in and I spent the next couple hours day dreaming about exploding trains and gun fights over train cargo and even a guy stowed away leaving the family that no longer loved him.

As I sat there, I repeatedly heard calls from my mother, father, siblings, and even friends. Every 15 minutes or so I'd hear them. Once, I heard them very close and I moved deeper into the bush to keep from being seen. I was seriously pissed off at these people and did not want to be bothered.

Try as I might, I couldn't hide forever. Eventually my best friend found me and when I refused to go home, he went and told my mom where I was. She sent my dad to get me. Still, I wasn't moving. He actually had to threaten me with a spanking to get me to go home. So I pulled my bike out of the bushes and started the journey back to my house, taking as long as I could because I was now even more pissed. It's not bad enough you all forgot my birthday, now you're going to make me spend time with you fuckers? Fuck all of you.

If dad could have read my mind he might have spanked me anyway. I may have been young but I was the son of a sailor, I knew words I didn't even know I knew, I'll tell that story some other time.

Normally, I would park my bike in front of the house and mom would have to tell me to take it to the garage, which wasn't attached to the house. The houses were of the townhouse variety and the garages resemble what storage units look like today. They were rows of garages, each assigned to one townhouse, down the road a little ways.

Today, mom did not have to tell me to put the bike up. I dropped it off to prolong my journey to the house. Once it was locked away, I very slowly began walking home.

I still remember the feeling of dread as I walked up the steps to the door. And the misery I felt as I opened it. But they hadn't won yet. They may have made me come home but they couldn't stop me from darting up the stairs to my room!

I was a very stubborn child.

I made it about half way up when my mother called for me to come back down. I told her I was going to my room, I didn't want to be with the family, no one cared about me and leave me alone! The tears and runny nose really made my point.

My mom started laughing, came up the stairs, and hugged me. She then grabbed my hand and led me back down the stairs, around the corner, and into my surprise birthday party where all my friends and family had been waiting for me to arrive for the last two hours.

A giant cake, more presents than I'd ever gotten before, lots of games, and all the "happy birthdays" I hadn't got all day!

I'll never understand the appeal of surprise parties. I think the idea is kind of mean. But on that day, once the surprise was sprung, I didn't mind them so much. Just wish someone would have been as stubborn as I had been and drug me back sooner so we could have all enjoyed the party longer.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Romance

The other night, my far too pretty to be married to me wife and I watched the movie How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days again.  I'll tell you from the outset that I like this movie.  It's your standard romantic comedy but it is actually funny, most romantic comedies forget the comedy part.  All of them, even this one, forget the romance part. 

If one were to believe Hollywood, romance is when two people find each other, they may or may not like one another but somehow they are forced to hook up, usually for a bet or a family gathering.  They realize they really like each other, then one of them finds out that the other is an asshole and they break up.  At the end of all of these movies, the guy chases the girl down, usually at an airport, confesses his love and they live happily ever after.

My problem with these movies, aside from the obvious lack of comedy in a romantic comedies, is not that they are formulaic, rather, it's that the guy always has to chase the girl down.  In the above movie, the girl is writing an article about how to lose a guy and she treats her love interest like complete shit.  He made a bet that he could make any woman fall in love with him.  Of the two, hers seems the more serious offense.

I can only assume that romantic comedy is Greek for "guys are pussy whipped douche bags" though I could be mistaken, it may be Latin.

I do understand that these are movies and they are meant to be entertaining and that real life romance of the variety offered up in romantic comedies would actually end in a restraining order but can't they think of one movie where the woman does the chasing? 

In real life, that's how it usually happens in these relationships.  Guy meets girl, girl puts out, guy moves on, girl wants to know when he's going to grow up, starts telling everyone she knows how one day he'll realize what he's missing. Meanwhile, he's out slipping his pecker in every woman that will hold still for two minutes, including her because she still thinks they have a future.

I find endless humor in that.  Throw in a grandma with colorful language and you've got a summer blockbuster right there.  And it might actually change this notion some women seem to have that a guy who doesn't treat them worth a damn is one day going to surprise them and morph into Mr. Right.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Quiet Time


Lucius was kneeling in prayer as Timoni swung upside down with her knees over a ceiling beam above him.

"What'cha doing?"

Lucius ignored her.

"You're boring lately."

Lucius knew that tone, his sister wasn't being mean, just making an observation.  He felt boring, hours of mediation followed hours of prayer.  The path of a paladin wasn't as exciting as it seemed in the books he'd read.  He'd yet to learn how to smite anyone, which he thought was probably a good thing as he felt Timoni's fingers start tracing his facial features.

"Do you get extra credit if you ignore me while you mediate?"

Even with his eyes closed, Lucius could see his sister's mischievous grin, which made him smile.  Meditation would have to wait.  With one fluid movement, Lucius grabbed Timoni's arms, rose to his feet, and spun behind his sister leaving her trapped with her arms crossed across her torso.

"I'm faster than you, big brother, if you don't let me go.."

Timoni was interrupted by uncontrollable laughter as Lucius began tickling her sides.

"I told you I have to pray and meditate.  Are you going to be quiet and leave me alone?"  Lucius stopped tickling Timoni to allow her to answer.

"Hell no, I'm gonna make you pay for.."

Lucius resumed the tickling causing Timoni's knees to come free of the beam when she kicked her legs.  As she fell, her heel caught Lucius square on the chin, sending him to the floor unconscious. 

Rising to her feet, Timoni shook her head, reached for the beam she'd been hanging from and flipped herself legs back up, catching the beam under her knees.  "And, I thought you were boring before." 

                                        -------------------------------------------------

The first two installments of this story are Magics and Origins.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Possessed

Harold studied the figure before him, bound to the chair, duct tape over his mouth, his head hanging tilted slightly to the left.  Did his eyes twitch?  They did.  The drugs were wearing off.  It was almost time.

"Wake up," Harold's soft tone camouflaged his excitement.  "Hey, wake up.  Can you hear me?"

The man in the chair opened his eyes to find Harold staring at him from a chair across a table.  The man's eyes widened and he began to struggle against the restraints.

"Relax, you're going to hurt yourself.  I assure you, you're very secure.  You aren't going anywhere."

The man continued to fight against the bindings, doing his best to kick his legs, his hands reaching for anything they could find.  Mostly, he was just jerking his head violently.  Harold found mild amusement watching the man struggle.

"As much as I am enjoying this," Harold raised his hand above the table, "I need to you stop."  Harold brought his hand down hard.  The man stopped and stared into Harold's eyes.  Harold slowly slid his hand off the table.  The man brought his gaze down to the center of the table to see the six shot revolver that now resided there.

"Good, I have your attention."

The man resumed his futile attempts to break out of his bindings  He was sweating profusely and the veins in his neck were bulging as he strained against them.

"If you don't stop," Harold reached out and picked up the gun, "I'm going to have to punish you."

The man stopped moving.

"There, now that I really do have you attention, do you know who I am?"

The man just looked at Harold.

Harold reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a single bullet.  "You can ignore me if you like but it won't make this any more pleasant for you.'  Harold released the gun's chamber, slid the bullet in, spun the cylinder, and with a flick of his wrist locked the cylinder back in it's place.

"I like doing that.  Makes me feel like I'm in a cop movie.  Do you like cop movies?"

The man continued staring.

"I've asked you several questions that you haven't answered.  You're being very rude.  I believe people can change, either through will or environment.  I believe you can change," Harold pointed the gun at the man, "do you believe you can change?"

The man nodded his head.

"Good.  I'm a peaceful man, I would feel very bad if I had to use the environment to change you," Harold said as he turned and looked to his right.

The man followed Harold's gaze to a rusted sickle resting against the barn wall.  For the first time, the man began looking at his surroundings.

"The farmhouse burned down a decade ago.  The owners died in the fire.  Their son inherited the property but he lives down south and can't be bothered with it.  Only this old barn remains.  No animals.  No crops.  Just this barn, you, and me."

The man went back to looking at Harold.

"Do you recognize me?"

The man slowly nodded his head.

"Honesty?  That surprises me.  You know me so I assume you know why you're here."

The man's eyes grew very wide.  He began shaking his head frantically.

Harold aimed the gun at the man and pulled the trigger.

Click.

Harold lowered the gun.  The man started crying and straining against the restraints again.

"I believe in second chances, not third or fourth chances.  Do not lie to me, do you understand?"

The man did his best to calm himself, still sobbing, the man nodded his head.

"It takes a special kind of liar to lie without using words.  I know you know why you're here.  Let's try one more time.  Do you know why you're here?"

The man slowly nodded.

Harold raised the gun and pulled the trigger.

 Click.


The man jerked in the chair as his sobs became louder.

Harold lowered the gun, "Do you like movies?"

The man, struggling against his bindings, was sobbing uncontrollably.

"You're being quite rude again," Harold's relaxed tone sent a silencing chill down the man's spine.  The man lowered his head and sat motionless.

"I have three rules, do not lie, do not be rude, and look at me when I'm speaking to you.  Look at me."

With his head still down, the man raised his eyes to meet Harold's.

"I'll accept that.  Now, do you like movies?"

The man shook his head.

Harold aimed the gun and pulled the trigger.

Click.

The man only flinched.

"Everyone likes movies.  Do not lie to me."

The desperation in the man's eyes was gone, replaced by something else.

"I used to look at you like that," Harold said as he lowered the gun.  "I hated you for a long time.  I wanted to kill you.  Do you want to kill me?"

Without hesitation, the man nodded.

"When I was little, I had a dog, a mutt.  I named him Spot even though he didn't have a spot on him.  I'd seen some movie and there was a dog named Spot so that's what I named my dog.

"Spot was a stupid dog, couldn't teach him anything.  He wouldn't sit or shake or anything fun dogs do.  He just kinda laid around looking up at me like you're doing."

Harold raised the gun and pulled the trigger.

Click.

The man didn't even flinch.

Harold lowered the gun, "I hated that dog."

Harold stood, stretched his back, and sat back down, "Where are my manners, it's a bit cold in here and," Harold smirked at the man, "you're wet and shivering, would you like a blanket?"

The man clenched his jaw as best he could behind the tape and shook his head.

"Suit yourself.  Did you know urine can take the pain out of a jellyfish sting?  My little brother got stung by a jellyfish once.  We didn't pee on him.  Mom took him to the hospital while we continued to swim in the jellyfish infested waters.  Mom wasn't always the brightest.

"Do you think your mom will miss you?"

The man nodded.

Harold raised the gun and pulled the trigger.

Click.

The man flinched.

"To be honest, I wasn't counting.  I didn't figure we'd get to the sixth chamber.  I'm glad we did, I don't think this game would be as much fun if we hadn't.  Are you having fun?"

The man shook his head.

"That's what you asked her, isn't it?  Are you having fun?  That's what she told me.  Did she lie?"

The man shook his head.

"While you were sleeping, I wasn't sure I could pull the trigger.  I wanted to, just wasn't sure I could.  When you woke up, all doubt was removed.  They say the eyes are a window to our souls.  You know what I see when I look into your soul? I see what you did to her.

Harold pointed the gun at the man.

"Look into my eyes, what do you see?"