Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween



                Seeing his daughter’s name on the incoming phone call brought an immediate smile to Marcus unshaven face.  Things had been rough lately.  An argument led to hurt feelings, awkward silences, and an uncomfortable home.  For a week the two had shared little more than a passing hello.  Her call could only mean one of two things, she needed something or she was finally getting over the argument.


                “Hello.” 


                “Dad?”  Marcus smiled again.  Who else did she expect to answer his phone?  


                “Yep, what’s up, kiddo?”


                “Where are you?”  


                “I just stopped at the grocery store.”


                “Oh.”  There was something about that oh.   Disappointment.  Marcus hadn’t thought it possible but his smile grew even more.  His daughter missed him.


                “Everything ok, baby?”


                “Someone is in the woods behind the house.”


                The smile was gone.  “Why do you think that?”  


                “I saw flashlights out my window.”


                “Lock the doors, I will be right there.”



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



                Marcus put his key in the lock, pushed the door open, stepped inside, and called out to his daughter as he made his way upstairs to her room.  When no reply met his calls, he ran.  When he didn’t find her in her room, he checked his room, forgetting any notion of privacy he burst into the bathroom, room by room he search now yelling her name, opening the cabinets in the kitchen, the hall closet, every inch of the house.


                His chest was tight and he was shaking.  She wasn’t there.  The closest neighbor was a mile away.  Even at 17, his daughter would have been too scared to try to make it to the neighbor’s house.  She would not have left the home and she certainly wouldn’t have locked the door if she was that scared.  She’d have run and not looked back, likely leaving the door wide open.  


                Marcus reached into his pocket for his phone.  Shit, he’d left it in the car.  Opening the front door and stepped out, he was suddenly aware of how dark it was.  The porch light was out.  Was it out when he pulled up?  Reaching back into the house he flipped the switch up and down.  Nothing.  He’d have to replace it later, the car was only 40 feet away.   


                The car door swung open more violently than Marcus had meant it to.  He ducked in to grab his phone off the passenger’s seat where he always laid it while driving.  The seat was empty.  The searched the backseat, the floor, and even the glove box though he could never remember ever putting it in there.  It wasn’t in the car.  He must have dropped it in his haste to get into the house.  Marcus looked at the ground, the walkway between the driveway and house was painted with dead leaves  
   

                Dropping to his knees, Marcus began frantically feeling around along the path between the house and driveway.  He had searched about half the distance when he heard it, the ringtone he set for his daughter’s calls.  It was distant, coming from the far side of the house.  Slowly rising to his feet and then forcing himself to step forward, Marcus made his way toward the sound.


                Marcus leaned as far as he could to peak around the dark corner of the house as the ringtone stopped.  He held his breath as he took a tentative step around the corner.  No one was there.  


The ringtone came again, this time from the back of the house.  Willing himself to follow the sound, inch by inch Marcus moved toward the backyard.  Again, just as he reached the corner, the sound stopped.  With his heart pounding harder than he ever remembered it beating, Marcus leaned around the corner and peered into the shadows behind his home.  


                He stared into the darkness waiting for the phone to ring again suddenly very aware of how unarmed he was.  He didn’t own a gun but he did have a baseball bat.  Sprinting to the front door he grabbed the door handle and found it locked.  The phone rang again, this time from right behind him, no more than 10 feet.  


                Marcus froze.  He wanted to turn around.  He wanted to confront whoever was taunting him, to find his daughter, to save her and himself.  He couldn’t move.  The horrors running through his mind paralyzed him.  


The song stopped, the rhythmic beat replaced by the unmistakable sound of his daughter’s laughter.   

Monday, October 27, 2014

No Working Title



A few months back I started writing a story that I ended up not liking very much but I did love this scene and since I haven't shared fiction in a while, and I've only posted once this month, I figured I'd share.  I hope you enjoy it.

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            “Vin, I’m not sure that’s what they mean by City Watch,” Darius said as he approached Vincent who was making no effort to hide his interest in the backside of the young lady in the faded purple dress.  

            “No, apparently what they mean is mind numbing boredom babysitting people who are in no danger what-so-ever.  This is just a perk of the job,” Vincent said without averting his gaze. “I swear some days I’d give the family jewels for something exciting to happen.”

            “As if you’d know what to do if you ever got the chance to do more than stare are Samari’s ass,” Darius said as he took a place next to Vincent.

            “I’m resourceful, I’d figure something out.”

            Darius leaned back into the fence surrounding the fairgrounds he and Vincent had been assigned to protect.  Protect the fairground?  He couldn’t remember being given a more useless assignment.  Not even the time he and Vincent had been ordered to guard a merchant with no wares to steal even if a thief had wanted to.  Vincent had suggested mugging the man out of spite. 

            At least it was the winter festival.  The duty was boring but they weren’t sweating under their chainmail, tabards, and tunics.  While not the snows of the Eastern Realms, winter brought a much appreciated break from the heat of the other seasons.  

            “I think I can make out one of her nipples,” Vincent said as he continued to stare.

            “And that is why we get these assignments,” Darius replied.

            “No, that’s why I get these assignments.  You get these assignments because you are a good friend who wouldn’t leave me to suffer alone.”

            “You don’t seem to be suffering all that much.”

            “Oh, I’m suffering alright.  Very much indeed,” Vincent’s voice trailed off, his head slowly tilting to the right as he watched Samari bend over to pick up a leaf.

            “If Captain Decker catches you looking at his daughter like that the excitement in your life will be giving up the family jewels.”

            “Given my heritage, I’m fairly certain my family jewels are still diamonds in the rough.  Worth the risk, I say.”

            “Still be a shame to lose them over the buck toothed cross eyed daughter of the captain.  It’s not as though she’s Remi with those perfect breasts and legs that make a man want to..”

            Vincent spun to face Darius. “Alright, alright, you win.  Just don’t talk about my sister like that.”

            “She’s a woman Vin, most of us talk about her like that.”

            “Not around me and if you do it again, I’ll forget we’re friends and remove your tongue from your vile mouth.”

            “Then who would keep you company when your vile mouth gets you into these horrible assignments?”

            Vincent smiled.  “When my vile mouth gets us into these horrible assignments.”

            The two men shared a laugh.  Vincent turned to face the grounds and leaned against the fence next to Darius.  They watched as the carpenters patched holes in the booths that lined the fair’s midway, stables were filled with hay for the animals, and other preparation were made for the fair’s arrival.

            “Have you ever heard of the fairgrounds needing a guard,” asked Vincent.

            “Nope, you must have really annoyed Decker for him to dream this one up.” 

You Piss Me Off.....

I had another one of those thought the other day.  One of those, "I'm just not like other people," moments.  I know you think you're unique, and you are, but when I say I'm not like most people, well...consider the following.

I was driving home on the highway when I came upon two cars one behind the other in the right hand lane.  Given how quickly I had caught up to them I pulled into the left hand lane to pass them.  As I did, the rear car also pulled into the left lane blocking my path.  No big deal.  I slowed down and waited to pass the lead car at a slower rate.

5 god damn miles.  The rear car became "that asshole in front of me."  For reasons unknown to me, after 5 miles, the asshole in front of me hit his gas and took off like a bat out of hell.  Weird but not my fucking problem.  I passed the other car and got back into the right lane resuming my normal cruising speed.

By now, the asshole in front of me is about half a mile ahead of me.  Can you guess what happened next?  That's right, the fucker slowed down and I caught up to him quickly.  So, I pulled into the left lane to pass the asshole.

10 god damned miles.  The asshole that had been in front of me was now the asshole beside me that wouldn't either slow down or speed up.  Fuck this, I'm not playing highway games with the asshole beside me.  I hit the gas and blew past the little shit like he was standing still.

When I was a respectable distance away, I pulled back into the right hand lane and resumed cruising speed.  Do I even have to say it?  The asshole beside me became the asshole behind me as he got as close to me as he could and matched my speed.

Now, it is important at this point to tell you I did not react to this guy at all.  I maintained my speed and he eventually fell back and disappeared from my life.  I did not do what I thought about doing.

So, what did I think about doing? 

I looked down and saw the empty fast food cup to my right and I thought, I should pee in that cup, hold it up on the roof of the jeep, and let go.  If I didn't think the wind would have blown it out of my hand before I could get it on the roof, I just might have done it. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

You Not Liking It Doesn't Make It Untrue

Honesty is the best policy.  I've heard that a lot.  Everyone claims to want honesty.  Ironically a lot of people are completely and stunningly full of shit when they say it.  From little white lies to jaw dropping whoopers, people love to be lied to.

Now, some of you are not going to like what I'm about to say.  You're going to hate it and probably me.  Not because I'm wrong but because what I am about to say is insensitive, politically incorrect, and entirely too honest for our civilized society.

From time to time, my Facebook feed will show me a picture of a retarded child.  Somewhere on the picture will be some form of the following, "isn't she beautiful."  The answer is no.

If all I have to judge by is a picture, then the question is superficial and by every definition of human physical beauty, having your eyes far enough apart that I can stick my entire hand between them without touching either one disqualifies you from being beautiful. 

Unclench, I'm not done.

When all you give me is a picture, all I can judge by is how something looks.  I know I'm not the only person that finds retarded people to be unattractive because I've never seen a Sport Illustrated down syndrome swimsuit edition.  There are no retarded sex symbols of either gender.  That's not mean, it's human nature. We're biologically programmed to find symmetry attractive.  Most retarded people have asymmetrical features.

The children in those pictures may be wonderful people.  From my experience with retarded people, I'd rather spend my time around them than with most "normal" people because they don't know how to be anything but genuine.  But that doesn't make them physically beautiful. 


The truth is a lot of retarded people look funny.  That doesn't make them bad people any more than posting a picture calling them beautiful makes you a good person.  It's all superficial bullshit to make the poster feel better about their own politically incorrect thoughts.  In short, it's a lie.

"But Frank, you're making this all about physical beauty!!!!"  No, that's being done by the people posting those pictures, I'm just being honest about what superficial bullshit those pictures are.

I chose this example because it is emotional.  No one wants to agree retarded people look funny.  It doesn't feel good, especially when we've been so beaten with the idea that beauty is on the inside.  But truth and emotion rarely belong together.  Ya see, the thing that let's me sleep at night with these kinds of thoughts in my head is that I don't hold physical appearance against anyone.  I can think you look retarded even when you're not and still love spending time with you.  And I can find you incredibly attractive and not want to spend a single moment with your miserable ass. 

I also chose this example because I have never met a retarded person I didn't like.  There is a guy where I used to work that if I ever found out someone hurt him, I'd need to set up an alibi for the brutality I'd visit upon them.  I love the guy regardless of his mental capacity. He is what those that post "isn't she beautiful" pictures are not, honest.  I've heard him tell childish lies, I've never seen him be a condescending asshole to make himself feel better. I've never heard him hurt someone with disingenuous words.

While I had my reasons for this example, any example of lying would work.  Lying, regardless of the reason, is still lying. Honesty is hard.  We are conditioned to think it's wrong even as we are continually told it's the best policy.  We're told it's judgmental or mean.  Hard as it may be, honesty really is best policy.  The problem is that it's not very well received. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Full Circle

Yesterday, as I was driving home in the rain, with the window cracked, a familiar scent entered the vehicle.  I can't tell you where it came from but the distinctive smell of fried fair food came wafting in.  I had to laugh, for in that moment, I was reminded of how history repeats itself.

The excitement as we waited for the bus was barely contained.  The adults stopped trying to calm us down a half hour before.  We weren't hurting anyone, we were just loud.  It was a Saturday, we were up before the sun, it was raining and cold, and we were enjoying all of it. 

This was the day of our class trip to the local amusement park.   Many of us had been to the park before but this was the first time we were being turned loose, all on our own, we only had to check in at lunch time.  Otherwise, we were free to roam and what big plans we had.

I had been to amusement parks before but I'd never ridden a roller coaster.  From the conversations going on, I was the only one who hadn't.  I didn't tell anyone about my lack of experience.  I just cheered along with how much fun we were going to have.

I did not want to ride any damn roller coaster.  I'm afraid of heights!  But, my girlfriend was on the trip as well.  The beautiful Serena wanted me to ride the rides with her and there was no way I was going to let her think me a coward.  I'd suck it up and just do it.

When we got to the park it was deserted.  The park was open but the rain was keeping everyone else away but since there was no lightening, all the rides were open.  We had the whole place to ourselves, to roam free.  Serena grabbed my hand and led me straight to the entrance to the park's wooden roller coaster.  We went up the ramp and found no line.  There was no turning back so I climbed aboard, pulled the safety strap across my lap, and waited for the long slow climb to the top.

By the end of the day, I had rode every ride I could several times.  On many of the coaster, we didn't even have to leave the car to ride a second time, there were literally no people waiting to ride it.  We ate fried dough and jelly beans of every possible flavor, and cookies and all the things our mothers would have told us no to.  And we laughed.  A lot. 

I conquered a fear that day and found a new love of roller coasters that day and I owe it all to my desperate desire to impress a girl.

My new job scares the hell out of me.  Not the job itself but leaving what I knew to do something I've never done.  I'm fairly confident in my ability to do the job but I am a creature of habit and while I've been wanting to make a change, a little part of me was always relieved when plans fell through. 

I could have lived my life the way it was.  I would have survived.  But, there is this girl, woman actually, that I desperately want to impress.  I want her to be proud of me, I want her to smile at her fearless jackass of a husband.  And so, I climbed aboard the coaster, pulled the strap across my lap, and waited for the long slow climb to the top. 

The wind, the rain, the smell of fried foods and the desire to impress the woman in my life, things weren't as unfamiliar as they may have seemed. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Don't Feed the Monkey

I did something today that I don't normally do.  When I read something that really irritated me, instead of just sounding off here, I went to the source. 

As I was reading the news this morning, I came across an article about how CVS pharmacies will stop selling cigars and cigarettes a month ahead of schedule.  You see, tobacco is bad for you and CVS wants to make America healthier.  I understand that tobacco use is not good for you.  And I really have no issue with CVS not selling tobacco products.  What I do have an issue with is their bullshit reasoning for not selling tobacco products.  

So, I hit their Facebook page and wrote, "I read you've stopped selling cigarettes because they are bad for people. Kudos to you. Now, how long until you stop selling soda, junk food, and drugs with side effects like suicide and death?"  Fully expecting them to ignore me, I went about my day.  15 minutes later, they replied to me. 

"Hi Frank, thanks for connecting with us. Unlike alcohol and other products which are okay in moderation, no amount of tobacco use is safe. Because smoking is the leading cause of illness and death in the US, we're taking this stand to help create a healthier America. We hope you'll support our decision!"

First of all, why would you even respond to an obviously sarcastic comment from someone with a cartoon monkey as their profile picture?  Secondly,  being anti-tobacco doesn't stop them from blowing smoke up people's asses, must be that healthy marijuana smoke so popular these days.  Tobacco bad, pot good!  

I honestly have no issue with them not selling cigarettes at their stores.  I believe in the free market, if they don't want to sell cigarettes, more power to them.  But don't site health concerns as the reason when you are going to keep selling products that lead to diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, and instant death.  They made this decision because being anti-smoking is popular.  Being anti-soda, anti-junk food, or anti-psychotic prescriptions drugs won't get you the same publicity.  

Don't tell me you're concerned for the health of Americans when you sell products that list heart attack and stroke as side effects.  Don't tell me you're concerned for the health of Americans when you're still making money off junk food.  Don't tell me you're concerned for the health of Americans when you're selling alcohol.  None of those items are good for you.  They are unhealthy, you hypocritical dickholes. 

I get it, Americans are largely fucking retarded and will happily sing your praises for being lying sacks of anti-smoking shit.  And good for you for exploiting their stupidity.  But, in the future, when the sarcastic guy with the monkey picture calls you out on your bullshit, just walk away.  It's quite unhealthy for me to be this annoyed by your blatant fucktardedness.  And isn't my health, as an American, your primary concern?