Well, what to write this week. If anything to write this week. The world slumbers in the dog days of summer and nuthin’ is going on. Except the threat of nuclear annihilation and some other stuff, but hey…
I did write a very Mean Girls post but my better angels punched me in the face. So.
I’ve been doing submissions. Always a fun time. [That was sarcasm.] I did two this morn! Two. An excerpt from a novel entitled The Adventures of Grumpy Odin and Sexy Jesus. A one-act play about two star-crossed lovers at a Las Vegas bus stop, called Free Range Chickens. That one place did say you could submit excerpts from novels…and hey, I took them at their word.
It’s been a rather smoky caul over my tiny corner of the universe lately. Rather like being back in Shenyang City, China. That was heavy industrial pollution, this is just wildfire smoke. Or being in Beijing, which is even worse than Shenyang! I know! They are trying to ‘clean’ that all up now, that pollution over there in China. We here in America are prepared to take up the pollution slack, however! Yay! Can’t wait! I’m not bitter at all.
What have I been writing? Oh? Um. well, let’s kindly call it ‘crap’, shall we?
Yeah, don’t worry. I will not be smearing that clear-the-head writing here. It’s bad, trust me. Note: maybe I will. I have tons of it. It might be the next ripoff of Games of Thrones meets LOTR with a splash of Story of O. Intrigued???
Ahem, anyway!! It has the depth of My Pretty Pony fanfiction. Not that I’ve read any. I’m assuming most of that is unreadable claptrap. I’m also taking a break from politics, life and life’s politics via said Claptrap Crap, which helps yours truly do some very minor coping.
I also now have Ibuprofin and have resorted to using the morning’s old coffee to make iced coffee in the afternoon, because I’m a resourceful little kitty-cat. And, poured over onion-flavored ice [don’t ask], leftover morning iced coffee treat is…well, something I can drink that’s not water-flavored. It’s the little things, baby. I’m jonesing for black cherry Kool-Aid, by the way. Yes, I made some sun tea! Geez! I found some ancient tea bags I got at the Dollar Store. Yum.
Now for a Serious Writer Gal update: I went back into the third book of my trilogy wannabe and let the chips fall where they wished. I’ve got the ending [note– it’s a sad ending for right now. I am letting that soak in the inner crock-pot gravy, don’t worry!], so where was I? I have the ending, more or less, and now just need the beginning and middle! [As the ‘story’ keeps shifting about like a damn Garden of Eden snake. Eve couldn’t have crucified that damn snake and…anyway.] Whee!! Woot woot!
Saint Lysette and Bloody Alicecooks in my inner crock-pot. It heats up slowly, I can leave it all day, come back in the evening and viola, meal. If you don’t know what a crock-pot is or why you can leave it all day…Google is your friend. [Not if you have a vagina, though…tee hee.]
It will be cooler. Hopefully, we won’t be fighting for scraps in the bomb shelters. [I don’t even have mine dug yet!!! Fuck. Sonofabitch!]
Football, and pumpkins, and dying leaves, oh yes! The blankets come back out. Rain returns. We’re supposed to get another bad winter. I should dig out my mittens and scarves right now! Or go dig a bomb shelter. And find some, what, lead? Maybe line it with mangina juice scraped off King Magical Pumpkincunt? I had to get one shot in, come on.
Hey, if anyone wants to read Free Range Chickens or, um, like, produce it…HERE YA GO!!
A Texas preacher was wailin’ and waxin’ large on how this is going to be a bad day for the devil. And naturally, on hearing this shouted from the next room, during the early hours… I had a thought of– is any day a bad day for the devil? It seems the devil gets a lot of shit done. Wars to petty little malicious gossip fun. Everyone’s getting devoured by that devil walkin’ around. The devil takes a stroll and checks things off her list.
What?? Her list??
Have I lost my gol-durn mind? Yes, I have, but that’s a whole other hysterical and barely readable blog post.
Part Two: Gender Politics
I have always wondered this. Why is the devil male? Other than patriarchal absolute control over everything from religion to nail polish choices, of course. Positions of power must always be filled with male figures! Even in legends, mythology, religion and tall tales. Women with power tend to be evil queens, evil stepmothers and witches. Or a combo thereof– an evil stepmother queen witch, such as Snow White’s dad’s second wife. Yep! There are ‘good’ witches but…they’re still suspect, because they have vaginas under those pretty princess-esque ensembles. And could go rogue at any time! We don’t get many tales of queens without there being some sort of ‘love’ story involved where she ends up secondary in her own story as a kingly sort steps up and ‘saves’ her from having to rule and make decisions or she falls into disgrace and gets tricked or…I’ll stop there. Ahem.
Other than that…why is the devil always portrayed as a male figure? We have witches, of course. But. They’re subservient and doing the will of their master…yeah. Witches went from powerful independent sorts to cringing, tricked, lied to servants of Satan. They went from enjoying their power and their relative sexual freedom to being puppets who just endured the cold sexual caresses of Hell’s Landlord. [Because why not strip even sexual enjoyment out of witchcraft, can I get an amen??] See Malleus Malificarum.
Women and power, it’s makes people uncomfortable. I get it. There’s reams written here. The powerful woman getting reduced to evil crone who licks the devil’s bottom during ceremonies held beneath the full moon. Read all that stuff. Read about the witch craze and how midwives were suspect and…yeah. But.
Part Three: A Tale of Love Gone Wrong
That rebellious beautiful angel who went against God. That reads more like a love story gone horribly wrong than some servant acting up and getting spanked, big time, for all eternity. Actually, that fallen angel gets rewarded, by being made the Big Baddie who gets to pretend to go against God. [And here, you can start screaming I don’t know anything about religion, the devil, God or blah dee blurg. That my years in the Lutheran church apparently did nothing more than give me a curious case of soul rash.] After all, does it not say, in Revelation, that God wins?
It’s right there. That’s bad storytelling. You don’t invent this great villain and then say, baldly, that that villain is going to lose. We know the villain loses, we want to pretend some actual surprise. There has to be a moment when we think the Joker is going to squash Batman and yank his wings off. That’s just how good stories trot along. We want, maybe, to even believe, for a bit, that the villain, the Big Bad, will win the day and destroy the planet, kill the tied up girlfriend/love interest/wife/some random girl; uh, get that death ray to work, etc, etc. You don’t state that so and so will win while presenting some Big Bad as the ‘villain’. Unless you plan on springing a surprise on us. Like some super-villain in the wings. Maybe her name is Mary who wraps her holy thighs around the devil and God and devours them both with her girl parts and comes out the winner of it all.
I would so watch that movie. I would even buy the over-priced gold-plated popcorn to munch as I watched that movie.
You cannot announce that you’re the winner ahead of time. It’s insulting. Why do you need an adversary? Especially one that seems on the payroll? Why is he needed at all? Oh…because the devil has a case of bitter grapes and seeks to take down as many as he can before THE END OF IT ALL. [No, seriously, that’s the answer I’ve seen to this one. The devil wants to have a game of freeze tag before the End. Yep.] Cue evil laughter, ala Vinny Price.
PART FOUR: MORE GENDER POLITICS AND EVEN MORE LOVE GONE WRONG MUSINGS
How bitter do you have to be to infect as many humans as you can before God yanks the curtains closed?? That’s female territory…that’s spurned lover territory. That’s…yeah. I’m marching out some rather tired female tropes here— the woman scorned, the bitter woman who wants to repay her ex in spades, the nasty woman who will do anything to smear her ex, etc. Entire industries chug along on that crap alone. There’s also the crazy ex who stalks the current Pretty Young Thang and there’s a catfight where boobies bounce a lot. That’s both a movie plot go-to and the newest ad campaign for Chanel Number Five. Petty revenge against a force that’s all-powerful and who announces they’re going to win no matter what happens…doesn’t seem like male on male catfighting. [Can men have catfights?? Mmm. Maybe tomcat fights? Because tomcats are both slinky and possess testicles? MMMM!]
PART FIVE: WHAT SORT OF DAY DOES THE DEVIL HAVE?
But anyway. The devil, in my opinion, always has a good day. The list of sins is long and people are stupid. You can’t even have naughty thoughts without making God’s I Saw That! list. You can’t lust in your head, your thoughts are on trial. God is literally the thought police. The devil wants you to run that hardcore dungeon daddy fantasy involving a Viking era cowboy-ish muscled up pretty boy who puts you through your paces with a small whip and a large donkey. The devil is saying, hey, baby, go for it. You say, okay! Good day for the devil. Or maybe, hey, you’re in charge of an entire country. And you’ve got pretty bombs and tanks at your disposal. Why not use them on something? Like Chicago?? Yeah, the devil doesn’t even have to do more than shrug and go, hey, baby, go for it. That whisper of permission to give in to your darkest or most silly little vices. Instead of living with your knees crossed and your mind full of amens and hallulujahs and notions that the world is burning alive.
So it makes sense, to me, to make the nemesis of the desert God who stalked about in the lands of Canaan and Judea and so forth…a girl.
And hey, if we keep the devil a boy, well…kettle of very LGTBQ fish, can I get a high five and a clobber verse, amen? [There are six, by the way, six. That’s it. There’s about six maybe references in the entire Bible about this issue. Uh huh.] You can’t have women with power, after all and you can’t even entertain the notion of God and the also-male devil being exes…because how soon before we’re making bestiality and incest legal and letting people marry their own houseplants?? Hello!
A seductive temptress whispering, go for it, baby, as she picks your pocket and paints a target on your back. That, after all, is what women are…we’re either whores or good girls. That Madonna/Whore dichotomy. One fall from grace and we’re forever branded a sin-filled whorebeast, we gals. There’s no forgiveness for us if we tumble a bit or a lot or at all… We have to be kept covered and controlled and in our place otherwise…chaos. That’s the central core message of pretty much any major or minor religion…women are suspect. Big time. Beware. You give women any sort of freedom and they turn to the devil and become witches and try to become men and want to vote and shit. Gol durn it, not on my watch!
PART SIX: WHERE I FINALLY MENTION SOME WRITING PROJECTS OF MINE!! YAY!
Which leads me to…yes, my piddles in this area, writing-wise. Gotcha!! I wove a pretty web, I offered some sweet blasphemy and oh, viola…here we arrive at some stark PR for my products. Oh my!
Being a writer chick, I invented a character. It’s kinda what I do on occasion. She drives around in an old Caddy, seeking whom she may devour. I didn’t give her a name, other than ‘devil’. She’s a black woman riding the roads of America, offering deals. I was writing along in Alice in Oregonlandia and went, as you do, hey…what if the devil shows up.
What if the devil shows up.
And, sometimes, my mind-worms poop out some useful smeary images. One of those 50’s monstrosity cars with fins that get about three miles per gallon because gas was cheap back then. Flames painted on the black doors. An engine that can heard miles away, one of those big powerful V-8 take on all comers engines. And a woman at the wheel, a powerful woman, a woman to be feared, a woman of sadness and fierce laughter, the devil. With dark skin , a body that’s hers and hers alone, a confidence that her road trip isn’t gonna end any time soon. She suggests sins, doesn’t tell you to actively commit them. She knows you and maybe even loves you a little, but still wants to turn you inside out to watch you strangle in your own guts.
She also turns up in my third book, Saint Lysette and Bloody Alice. Which I’ve let ‘rest’ for a week, as other writing urges hooked me like a fly fisherman hooks one of those trout in a river in Montana. Must write this now! I’m mulling ideas for that third book, deciding just who and what Mr. Blue, Bong Bong and Mr. Peepers are. [If you have no idea who those characters are, it’s okay. I forgive you. Go in peace.] I’m inventing the mythology and reality of this world Alice, and her mother, Nancy, exist in. What happens if there’s devils within devils within devils? What happens if. It’s what writers do, after all. I’m not thinking Overall Literary Theme. I thinking, what if the devil is trying to fix her mistakes? What will Alice do when she finds out what Lysette is? What does Aaron know? I am thinking in terms of what comes next, not Man’s Inhumanity to Man.
The devil, after all, is in the details.
PART SEVEN: BWHA HA HA
Bwha ha ha.
The devil always has a good day. She likes to keep busy and she’s a multi-tasker, as women have been since the time they lived out in the open scavenging lion kills. God will snap His fingers and the devil might very well not even notice. She’s bent over whispering into a susceptible ear to some sexually confused young Christian man to look up three-way twink and bear porn [if you have no idea what this is, boy, are you gonna have some fun with Google today] over on porn hub [a real site, in case you thought I made that up, my innocent sweeties]…whispering in that ear to go for it, baby. God will be saying, hey, I’m ending the game. The devil will look up, from whispering sweet nothings into various ears. You do that, baby, if you think that’s best.
And God will swell up and stomp back to heaven, with a hearty string of expletives for his Ex and the devil will smile. It’s always a good day for the devil.
Note– I, the writer, was challenged to let one of my characters answer a series of questions. Being a truly magnanimous sort, I asked Nancy Stockhorst if she wished to give a small interview. She graciously allowed me to record her answers, which I did, just as she gave them. I did not edit them or leave anything out; it’s a very much warts and all little gabfest. This gabfest, of course, deals only with the House on Clark Boulevard issues, story and problems, not on Alice in Oregonlandia or yes, Saint Lysette and Bloody Alice, that’s right, a book three!, which wraps up the tale of the Stockhorst women. Notice that Nancy suggested I mention those other books; she’s quite a fearless sort and very pragmatic about more than just ghosts and how to cook a turkey. You wrote my story, she said, now get it out there. Isn’t that what you writers do?
NANCY’S SIDE: An Interview with Nancy Stockhorst
My name is Nancy Stockhorst. My story was told to a writer, a local one. I never thought it would, um, well, be seen by anyone. I told her she should write comedies and nice adventure yarns, things people actually want to read. I suppose if anyone read about a few days of their life magnified and dissected so, they’d get uncomfortable, too.
1. What do you like to read in your spare time and has it prepared you for living through your own story?
Oh my, I’ve been reading that James Herriot book, about the vet. Where this vet has adventures with animals back in the Twenties. No, the Thirties, right before the war started. I enjoy it very much when I can get a moment to read. I have, well, had…two small children, a house, a dog, a kitten, some chickens, a husband and so much to do. And, well, there are other things that take up my time. Sometimes, they get very busy. I guess you could call them ghosts. I don’t talk about this, with anyone. I, anymore, just ignore them. They giggle and play tricks, that’s the little boys. They’re dead, I don’t know who they are or why they died. And there’s a little girl with a doll, the tongue tries to lick me. There’s one with jacks. One with a tea set, always trying to get me to play tea party. And. And there’s others, but I ignore them as best I can. I tell them to leave me alone if I have a lot to do. Oh, Mr. Herriot, in that book, just does his job. I’d love a lazy day to finish that first book of his and start one of his others. But you can’t, not when your children are so small yet and so busy all the time.
2. Do you think a character should be able to choose their own genre or do you think that would lead to chaos across the bookshelves?
Well, if my story were told by another writer, I guess it would still be a sort of ghost story. I don’t know how others see their stories. I suppose Mr. Herriot would not wish his book put into the cooking section. That wouldn’t make sense. We all wish to be heroes and not be made fun of. Others put us into groups but we don’t have to stay there. But if you’re telling a tale about ghosts, then why try to put it into the pile about boats? It doesn’t make sense.
3. If you had to write a story yourself, would it be in the same vein as the story you’re currently living through?
Oh good heavens, no. I’d not ever reveal what that Ms. Wuehler revealed about me! I feel very exposed and silly. She did try to capture most of it, but I came across so, well, as I did. I’m not like that! I try very hard to do the best I can and be a good wife and good mother. Those dust ups with Alice! And little boys take a bit of time to learn how to use a toilet! Aaron was a baby! Art was not himself during most of that. I do not cuss so! I’m very careful what I say. I’m always very careful. I came across as some…actor. As if I go about all day pretending that I like being a wife and mother; I do like being a wife and mother! This would just be a tale of a family getting through the holidays, they pile holidays up so. Thanksgiving and then a month later, it’s Christmas. Halloween right before that! Dealing with all that would fill a book no one would be ashamed to have on their bookshelf. Real things as done by real people. And I’d never include the other elements. There’s no need to talk about that stuff. Or what really happened to the chickens.
4. Do you think this story is sharing the greatest moment of your life?
Of course not. Wuehler strung together my lowest moments possible. Where things were not going well. Where I let myself get carried away, and where I let the others in that house get to me. I do like the bits about the Calgon bath salts and the red string, that was accurate and true. But other parts, I wish had not been put on a page. I felt and still feel rather, well, naked. All that silly fighting with Alice, when do mothers and daughters not have petty little fights? Where I let Mr. Blue…I won’t talk about that or him. I won’t give him that satisfaction. He won’t win, not ever.
5. If you were allowed to edit your story yourself would you cast yourself in the leading role or keep out of the limelight?
Of course I would make myself look good. Do we not all do that? My brother Tom is always the hero or the victim of his own tales, he comes out on top or someone else is to blame for whatever he did. He’s your typical man. Well, he is. Do we not all do that, though? We scrub away the troubling bits of ourselves when we tell stories about ourselves or gloss over something to make ourselves seem better or nicer or kinder or wiser. I did throw that damn cat. That was left in! I’d never include that if I were telling this story. I did punish Alice for talking out of school about things I told her not to talk about. Any mother would have done the same. I do like the bits about Ruth and Carl, they were portrayed almost exactly as they actually are. Just good solid farm folks. My own parents got nearly the same respect. I think Joan would be tickled over how she came across. I came off so oddly. I love my family. The writer of my tale makes it seem I don’t even like them that much.
6. Would you ever want to know the full page count of your story?
Mm. Well. From what I hear and see, Wuehler has been recording the Stockhorst tales into further volumes. She’s even now started a third. Several times over started it. As if there is more than one way to tell a story? I have no idea how many pages my little confession turned into. Most of what made it to the page seems determined to paint me in a very strange light. I did what I had to. To fight off that Mr. Blue and everything he did to me. Oh yes, there was also Mr. Peepers. He lived in Alice’s room. Aaron had his cowboy blanket and Alice had some little…thing that lived with her. He seemed harmless or I would have run him off. I did what I had to. I made pies and baked turkeys and figured out how to make all the others leave me alone. That could be reduced to about a page or two. For Reader’s Digest. And you could leave out all the ghosts and rolling beasties and Mr. Blue. I’d just be an ordinary woman dealing with children, a husband, pets, in-laws and holidays.
7. Have any scenes been cut from your story that you want putting back in place?
Oh goodness, the writer just put everything I told her onto the page willy-nilly. She even included the little moment when I spoke to my Aunt Pansy in the library! Oh, there was that scuffle over just how to explain my leaving the house when things got so very bad that one night near Christmas. She had me hurting Art, she had me running over to Susan’s, she had me calling my mother. Finally, she settled on me reaching out to Tom, my brother, to come get me. Who was cheating on his girlfriend, Freedom, so that was another way for the writer to show my brother in a not so kindly light. Yes, that was my brother’s girlfriend’s name. Freedom. She came with Tom to the Thanksgiving dinner at my house and she, well, seemed to see them, too. I could never quite trust her. But Tom, now, my brother came right over, in the middle of the night, didn’t he? I was portrayed as off my rocker and about ready to be sent to the insane asylum. I’d have left out how hysterical I came across. Well, not hysterical, really, more…focused and angry. Those other scenes had me a bit nicer and more like me, but the writer decided on having Tom come get me. I barely remember that night, so I let the writer take liberties, as they say.
8. If you could ever meet a reader in person would you ask for their review of your story?
I guess. I’d like to hear how I come across and if they’ve experienced anything like that. It seems there are other people who know about ghosts and such, I did look them up and read about them. It’s how I knew about making those bottles for catching ghosts and oh, dream catchers. And the red threads. But then again, the story is so off and odd. And not normal. I’ve kept most of what happened to me a secret in real life. Now my secrets are being turned into fiction, for people to read at the beach! It’s rather an uncomfortable feeling. And then to have people judging you based on whatever Wuehler chose to write about me! So much was left out. Perhaps her other takes on the Stockhorst family will include just the nice stuff. I know how hard and awful life can be; there’s no need to just write that sort of story only. Funny things happen all the time. Good things happen all the time. We don’t need a constant reminder that life can be awful and sometimes the dryer explodes a week after you buy it brand new. I’d also like to hear, from readers, how they dealt with daughters like Alice. There were days I thought I’d sell her to the Salvation Army!
9. Would you rather your story be light and entertaining or leave your readers with questions when it’s finished?
Well, my story did end on a rather abrupt and awful note. The writer just stopped writing. Called it a day! That’s not where my story ended, my story is still going, so to speak.
I’d have liked the House on Clark Boulevard to end with that Christmas chapter, where it’s just a normal family enjoying the holiday. It was done for shock effect, that ending, I scolded that writer and called her a hack. She informed me that the story does continue, in something I hope she only jokingly called Alice of Oregonlandia. Is it a comedy, I asked her. Sure, it’s got lots of jokes, the writer said. What is this further story about? Oh, it continues with Alice in the hot seat. About ten years later. Am I in it? I had to ask that. The writer just gave me a look. I take it I won’t like whatever that story, featuring Alice, will be, either. I think, if my story can get retold, I’d like to disguise my name. And make it more about trying to get ready for the holidays and not so much about the watching eyes, the trick-playing ghosts, the gigglers in the wall, Mr. Peepers, the furry rolling things and that stupid, murderous Mr. Blue. Did I do what he wanted? No, I did not! Yes, a more light-hearted, sweet approach. That’s what people want, not the gritty, dirty, ordinary sort of stuff that happens in people’s houses. Though, that can be fascinating, just not when it’s all about you and your house and your family, of course.
10. Are you happy for the problems in your life to be used as catharsis for your readers?
I had to look that word up. Well, I get so busy. So, someone will read my story and feel better? That might be a good thing. I just hope that Wuehler remembers I’m a real human being and not perfect if she includes me in her next attempt. And to be kind. That the truth might be shocking and titillating but that doesn’t mean it has to be told.
And now, it’s your turn!! Buckle up, dear fellow writers.
Ten questions for your character of choice to take a whack at:
1. What hobbies or interests do you have? Are they a part of the tale told about you? Why or why not?
2. What are you political leanings? What religion, if any, are you? Has the writer misrepresented you in these areas?
3. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone else? Why did you do it? Would you do that same act again and, if so, why?
4. What kind of sandwich do you like? Describe it. Are you a foodie? Do they have sandwiches in your realm, kingdom or plane?
5. Did the person/s telling your tale get it right? What would you change? What captured the essential you? What would you get rid of in your own tale?
6. Is it important that readers like you? Why or why not?
7. What’s your job, career or profession? Has this influenced your story in any way, shape or form?
8. Why does your story need to be told? What will a reader get from it?
9. Do you regret having your story known to others? Why or why not? Would you pick a different writer to tell your tale?
10. What parting words of wisdom would you like to leave us all with?
OH!! I’d like to thank Fellow KGHH author C.A (Christine) Ardron, for suggesting I try this challenge. I’d like to nominate Lucy Brazier, K.T. McQueen or James Peartree.
Yep, I started Book Three of my [some name] trilogy. I’m about six thou words in. Started it, like, two days ago. I’m going back and forth in narrative, a dueling banjos sorta cacophony. Two sisters, one story, everything finally explained. Intrigued?? Well, pull up a chair, friend. Let me walk you through this!
I was all bopping along, project-free, with misty ideas of writing an American-heavy dirge on the, gulp, probably real life scenario of–OMG Why Is the Velveeta Twatwaffle Nuking Canada?Only, I’d have those I find politically repugnant as the Main Characters saying patriotic schtuff and things. Just so I can ‘understand’ and ‘give them a voice’ and…yeah, I just fucking can’t summon up enough demonic power to fuel a short play handling that, let alone a full length musical. [Yes, it would have to be a musical. I just saw Royal Wedding last night and now, must write a musical where someone tap dances while singing vaguely racists lyrics and pinching girls in tight costumes. It’s on my bucket list.] When, as projects do, a terrible, awful, maybe somewhat okay idea birthed itself from the birth canal of my creativity. [Eww, gross!! My idea is all covered in icky creative birth fluids!! Ewwww!!]
That WHAT IF dragon uncurling its loathsome body. Breathing in my ear. What if Lysette…the mute sister who got her voice back…what if she and Alice and Nancy get a showdown or have to team up to fight the forces of darkness or have to take on the devil or…oooooooh. Mmmmm. Wheels spinning. The wheels on the writer go round and round, round and round, round and round. Nancy, of course, our main gal from House on Clark Boulevard, and her daughter Alice, who has her own turn in Alice of Oregonlandia and Lysette…who’s a big girl now in the mythical grunge smear of the late 90′s. And since I’m dealing with ghosts and death and the devil and…those that have died can return for a bit of a cameo and some clean up batting.
Storyline?? Bwha ha ha ha.
Right now, it’s a vague mess about Alice being accused of…oh, let’s say, a crime, a big one. And she’s broken, battered and broken all over again by life, by what the devil…yeah. It ain’t pretty, but do we want characters who barely break a sweat and then win the lottery? After four hundred pages where the worst thing that happened to them was a broken fingernail and a bad haircut? NO, OF COURSE NOT. Lysette, now, she’s a tough cookie, in the mold of all tough cookies everywhere. Hey, fluck you, I’m like ten pages in, if that. She’s DEVELOPING. No, I’m not defensive or bitter. YOU ARE. Are we done fighting? M’kay. I’m letting whatever wishes to be free be free on the page for now. If Lysette comes out like a cross between Buffy and one of those femme fatale broads from film noir, hey, for right now…I’m gonna let her be who she wishes to be. Is that so wrong? [As long as something gets on a page, is that not the whole point of writing?? I read that somewhere. Maybe one of those super-positive slogans people post over pictures of fuzzy baby ducks. Fuzzy baby ducks!]
Okay, so Saint Lysette-– which is the working title I have right now for Book Three in my [name here] trilogy…like I stated earlier, it’s told from both Alice’s end and Lysette’s. I might even add…a third viewpoint to this heady feminine mix. Might. Considering it. It’s being percolated and bottle fed in my creativity nursery. [It would be Nancy. Nancy!! Yes, do it. Maybe. We’ll see.] I forgot where this paragraph was going. I’ve got MST3K pulled up and it’s DISTRACTING me from this obligatory blog post about latest vague project that’s oozing from my creativity nursery like a sullen mythical lizard on heroin.
I feel totally vindicated now. Yep. Totally. [Fuck you, you Velveeta Stalin Wannabe! At least I didn’t call you a piece of shit or show you sans head. Yay for me!]
Oh, before I jump off the cliff, um…my favorite bit of news out of the UK elections. Lord Buckethead. I have no idea what his political views were or are. I am not endorsing said Lord Buckethead. But. Someone went around with a bucket on their head and got three hundred or so votes in that quickdraw election that May called for. It’s the little things that cheer you up and make you grin ear to ear and realize you can badly survive another day on Planet Shitball. Lord Buckethead, well done, sir. Well done.
If LBH was some British version of a KKK…ugh. Must now go look up politics of LBH. Sigh! No sigh needed!! AWESOME POSSUM APPLESAUCE. Next time I have to vote in ‘murica, I am writing Lord Buckethead in for ‘write-in candidate’ slot. My mother used to write Snoopy. She’d write Snoopy in as her candidate of choice. Because in America, we’d rather vote for cartoon characters than the actual…yeah, anyway.
OH WAIT!! A bit more of your precious browsing time!! Here’s, yes, the dreaded writing sample that must, of course, be included in a post about um, a novel. It’s the opening salvo! Mr. Peepers is still with us!! Who’s Mr. Peepers?? You’ll have to wait for the FIRST BOOK OF MY [some catchy, social media friendly name here] TRILOGY TO FIND OUT. Yay!! Oh. This is first draft-ish. It’s rough, bold and will probably leave a rash. Enjoy!!!
Mr. Peepers had gotten on my last cotton-pickin’ nerve. I pulled into the Deadman’s rest stop, outside of Pendleton, with the idea that I should shag my ass back to Seattle. I yanked a pack of Luckies out of my cleavage and noticed a young man watching me as he slithered out of his Ford 4by4 two-tone. Young, dark blond hair a bit too long, a scruffy face like he’d forgotten to shave or he was trying to look like Cobain, who was fucking dead as Reaganomics. Mr. Peepers made a schmoan sound, a sigh and a moan conbined. “We don’t have time for this, Missie Lysette!”
I got out of my old Dodge, stretched, made sure lover boy saw it, made sure lover boy got a real good look at my charms. He came right over. His plates had that Idaho tinge, and he was from Ada county. Was he headed toward Portland or back home? Like I gave a rat in a blender. “Hey, stranger.” I purred at the man, who stopped, his somewhat homely face lighting up like one of those Christmas decorations you buy at Wal-Mart, a cheap decoration you hope doesn’t kill you when you plug it in that first time. The closer Prince Charming got, the more fun I wanted to have with him. Just a young farm boy meeting up with a femme fatale. I had a knife, coated with salt, stuffed in my sock. I’d spill his guts if he tried anything funky. I had before. “You got a light?”
I shall follow up my wildly popular and highly fluffy post, Let’s Go to the Movies, with some quote mining from yours truly. Titles with numbers in them seem to be known as ‘clickbait‘ and by Jove and by gum, I wish to be clickbaited! I know how that sounds, but I’m both needy and indifferent to the world. I am a contrary contrarian. If you repeat a word twice, you sound either Dickensian or that you have a scratch and your devices are having trouble playing you back.
Thirteen quotes. I suggest some of you make memes out of the following. Or a GIF. Or is that just ‘gif’? Ugh, modern spelling, amirite?
#1– from my short play, the Bluegrass of God,which has actually been performed!
ALITA: I buried all my things. In my backpack. I buried my past. It was nice. I said a little prayer and I think God heard me cause I found this place and the wind, it blows through like fiddle music, and it don’t care, it don’t care that I’ve been slapped by the Devil. So you see, Miss Paula…I can’t go with you. My past is buried nearby and it might, it might just burst out of the ground like a rocket. Just like a rocket.
#2– from my completed novel, The Adventures of Sexy Jesus and Grumpy Odin.That’s right, completed. I had fun writing it, even if no one ever reads it, publishes it or goes near it with a twenty-thousand foot pole:
Jesus came swanning in and women and yes, the men, too, watched him. That careless human beauty he wore as his own skin. The graceful workings of his slender frame. Loose sweatpants the color of November nights, a loose brightly printed shirt covered with abstract squiggles and squares, a forest green background, bright blue designs. It was rather like a cardinal landing among a flock of wary, admiring sparrows. That buttery dark hide had been burnished by his time in the harsh Nevada deserts. Those dark eyes held murder and rage in the center of each, twin black flames that promised a horrible, prolonged end to whatever crossed his path or even looked at him a little funny. Lights flickered. The dirt monkeys murmured, looked up, their faces open and wondering. They were moments away from asking the gods to make the lights stay on. No amount of modernity could reroute that urge to appeal to whatever forces might be listening for help, for comfort, for an ending of a torment.
#3–Ah, here’s the latest from my Wind in the Willows, American style, knockoff. I wrote this in the last couple of days, so it’s FRESH. This concerns the two sides about to have a fake war to bolster economies and get rid of the giant squids of Jesus that Luke and his side have had to take care of, since Deadlion’s End does not have a public aquarium. Meryl, by the way, is the mayor of Deadlion’s End. From my Tales of Beastface Bay, War Talk:
Or we can cobble together something ourselves, said Meryl, thinking of the expenses for hiring speech writers, then paying them extra to be quiet about the speeches they wrote. I’m sure, said the mayor, we can all write our own speeches here. I mean, how hard is it, really, to write a good, stirring patriotic barn burner of a speech? Rah rah, freedom, courage, we all have to sacrifice, liberty, they won’t beat us into the dust, we’re better than this, they can’t break us, courage, liberty, freedom, the blood of our ancestors, freedom, liberty, courage, freedom isn’t free, giant squids must go, courage, liberty, freedom, they can’t break us down and make us lose our liberty, courage or freedom. Something like that and then we all hug and cry, and go off to make sure our side wins.
#4– I shall make most of these short, don’t worry! From my massively produced and even published! short play, the Mating Season of Flying Monkeys:
BELINDA: Marjorie. You can’t tell me what to do anymore. I’m…an old woman now. You’re my sister, not…not my mother. I’ve decided to have a one night stand, if you absolutely must know.
#5– From a poem I wrote for a monthly poetic challenge, where Rattle puts up a random picture and poets of all stripes who so wish can compose a composition inspired by said artistic photo or rendering. M’kay? This is from She Enters the Forest:
She can see the cerulean hint of bluebells just there oh just there. I am not a good girl. She smiles over her shoulder toward the anxious eyes awaiting her return. Forgive me, I think I’ll need forgiving. I think this is unforgivable. I hope so.
#6–Ah, my next selection is from a short play of mine, the Man Who Went Insane From Money.A bank teller has had enough of the world. This one came from a happy, fun conversation I had with a fellow artsy sort, in Eugene, Oregon, at a party. What if bank tellers were honest about your bank account? We were laughing back and forth about what bank tellers would actually like to say to customers, and indeed, what all customer service sorts would like to say…and so I wrote a bit of a play. Inspiration sometimes comes from actually talking to other people. I know!
TYLER: Just turn on your too-high heels and totter out of here. Go get drunk and find a new man to suck dry, though you are kind of old. I’d max out your one remaining credit card for some plastic surgery, get your ass tightened up, your vajayjay, too. The boobs, goes without saying. Get those wrinkles filled in. Do some high class fucking and sucking and then presto, back in business. Just some friendly free advice
#7– Be patient, we’re more than half way through my self-induced tour of quote mining from my own stuff!! This is taken from City Full of Rain, a short story I need to rework. I think the ending…yeah. If you’re a writer [hashtag WeAreAllWriters] then you ‘get it’. You ‘get it’ so hard right now. You are ‘getting it’ with a cherry on top.
I probably am crazy, I probably made this all up to amuse myself because life is so very un-amusing. But I doubt it. I’ve been writing all this down for a year or so, hand-written in those single-subject notebooks they still sell at the supermarket. Each little scribbled word drains me. Yet I do it anyway. I want a record of what I did. Don’t we all? A record of why I did what I did and why it mattered. Don’t we all? I am not violence-minded, don’t worry. How could I hurt them? They’re angels or whatever they are. Survivors to this modern age. Nothing is that careful or cautious, nothing. Not even God. They’ve survived, Mike and Penny, because they’re impervious, not because they’re cautious. I could expose them but who, honestly but a handful of other crazies and wild-eyed breathless others, would take me seriously?
#8– Ah, from a Christmas short tale I penned. Seven Swans A Swimming Toy Store and Comic Books Emporium. Some writing challenge thingie for some vague project that might happen and so I wrote a short tale about an uncle and his niece and a ghost in a toy store. And it’s not even scary. I’m slippin’, I tell ya. Slippin’. La Grande, Oregon, by the way. Since that’s my college town and…yeah. Yep.
Allegedly, he was quite sad his older sister had died so tragically, in a giant city famous for crushing its inhabitants in traffic jams, mudslides and tales of the once-famous reduced to tiny, faded ends. The rise and fall of the famous had become Los Angeles’s gasoline of choice. But, he and Holly had never been close. He could not fathom such a nomadic sort of life. He could not fathom creating a child and dragging it around like an extra-annoying backpack…as Holly had once labeled her own offspring. La Grande had been where he had attended school and then La Grande had become his home when he got a job teaching indifferent teens elderly literature selections they could not fathom as in any way relatable to their lives. They memorized bits here and there for the tests that would open doors to elitist liberal bastions of indoctrination that they’d spend a lifetime paying for if they took out student loans. Dreams in America now seemed for the very rich or the very delusional.
#9– Hang on, Sloopy! Almost at the end! This is from a rather sweet short story I puffed out on a Sunday afternoon, about an elderly lady named Maybelle and her very special doll. The story is, of course, called Maybelle.
Judi had gone out for ‘supplies’ or rather, a lunch with her friend, Beau, a married man. Maybelle found that rather sad but said nothing. It was Judi’s life. Her own life had been a series of dead ends, heart aches, losses and quiet little deaths of her every dream and most of her hopes. The only bright spot remained Baby Cynthia. The one boy who had squired her about a bit had gone off with another, prettier, livelier girl without a backward glance and no one had stepped in to take that place. She had tried to be a nurse, had tried to be a teacher, had ended up taking odd jobs here and there when she had no talents for nursing and no backbone for teaching. She had dreamed of her own little house and times being what they were, always, for her, that had never come to pass. Sometimes life just shunts people gently or not so gently aside.
#10– Oregon Gothic gets a nod, my patient lovelies! This excerpt from Bailey, the first salvo in my OREGON GOTHICcollection, is a real treat. It’s candy corn, Peeps and Cadbury Eggs kinda special. Or a kale smoothie, organic yogurt enemas and rain water collected from one of those temples in Cambodia treat special. Hey, I try to cater to all reading and other sundry tastes here. Our plucky heroine has broken down after enjoying a meal with her grandparents…
Because it’s perfect.
How many horror movies had she watched with just this crap going on? Storm. Broken down vehicle. Girl alone. Psycho with knife, axe, gun. It was practically an American institution, an American movie classic shown every single freaking Christmas and twice at Easter. Halloween. Night of the Living Dead– the original, not the shitty remake. Friday the Thirteenth, the very first one. Carnival of Souls. Every Dracula movie ever, surely. She couldn’t think of any more movies, her mind just refusing to spit out any more examples, because she seemed too busy trying not to piss herself in fear. So where was the psycho?
Stop it, Bailey, just stop it. She scolded herself as she walked along, trying to hurry. It was not that far to town. And she had been discussing local murders with her grandparents. No wonder she was spookedy-spooked. Weiser, Boise, nowhere near here though. Nowhere near. Miles away, in a different state. Idaho was full of crazies. Oregon was not, which was not true but still comforting.
And like some malignant cue from the universe, a male voice said, “ Hey. “
#11– This is yet another tale that graces Oregon Gothic, also about a ghost at Christmastime time, that visits one of the residents at a nursing home. Tiny Rooms.
“It’s all right. I don’t mind. So you sit with a little ghost and cook things for Christmas. What’s crazy about that? That’s rather nice.” I had somehow said just the right thing. Nora smiled, that rare real smile she had.
“I think so, too…or I’d have told her to go away and leave me alone, ” Nora confessed. “One Christmas, I had a tuna sandwich and a cup of tea. It was all I had in the house. I was just grateful I didn’t have to go hungry. I couldn’t afford a tree that year, either. And. And I never bothered to buy one after that. It was just…not worth the bother. It was a relief. To be done with it all.”
#12– This is from Lady Judas, one of the first plays I ever wrote. It’s been rewritten X amount of times since then and I rather like how it’s evolved. A suicidal woman comes home to a family dinner where Jesus shows up. Now, originally, I had Jane, the protagonist, actually dying as she’s imagining a homecoming of sorts. But. What if she lived and had to face everything and everyone? Ray speaks about his wife and the mother of Jane and her sister, Lanie, toward the end of this latest rewrite, about what love is, to him.
RAY: Is that what you all think? She ripped her arms open because of me? Is that what you think, Jane? I loved her. I loved her, I love her to this day. She was a mean, bitter woman and some people are just like that, but I loved her. I cleaned her up when she had her spells, I put bandages on Lanie and you, I cleaned up the mess so nobody had to see it but me, I…I did what I had to because I loved her to pieces. I loved her to pieces.
#13– Something wildly cheerful to round up my baker’s dozen! This last long quote, ha ha ha, is taken from my soon, I hope, to be published novel, The House on Clark Boulevard, about Nancy who’s both battling the holiday cooking and family demands as well as battling the Forces of Darkness. Enjoy!!
“Is there going to be those eggs?” Art asked, as he did before all holidays. Those eggs. Deviled eggs. Mayonnaise and mustard and egg yolk, mashed together and spooned back into shiny white egg halves. That’s how he knew it was a special day.
“Yes. Mom will probably make a big batch. Anything else you want? Apple pie or cherry or maybe a chocolate pie?” She sent out and Art just smiled, he was back on familiar ground, not dealing with a crazy wife with her cracks showing.
“Apple pie is always good. Do you like apple, Alice?” Art threw an unexpected curve ball at his strangely silent daughter, who turned her eyes to her father, her mouth full of mushy egg noodles.
“Can we have lemon?”
Lemon?? Art shrugged, cast Nancy a why-are-kids-so-weird glance. “Sure.”
Oh yes, lemon. When both Art and Alice hated lemon anything. “I’m sure we can make a lemon pie,” Nancy replied very agreeably. It seemed vastly important to reassure everyone she was back to normal, that she was mama and wife again. With some stitches and blood loss, but still mama and wife, no name at all, just mama and wife. That her only interests were cooking for Christmas and cleaning up after one and all and being pleasant. Nancy quickly shoved that thought far far down, shoved it into a ghost bottle with a bit of her own fingernail in it. She was Nancy the Magnificent Mr. Blue Fighter. She had conquered an invader here in the lands of Oregon East. “A big ole lemon pie with a playing card crust!”
Whew!! Thirteen quotes! I had fun. Did you? I seem to have a real spite against Christmas. I left out most of the writing that contained adult themes or language. I tried to keep it short and snappy. Tried being the operative word. Well, goodbye until next time. I’m sure yours truly will come up with something like Five Ways to Write About Potted Plants or perhaps 16 Ways Socks Figure in the Cannon of Western Literature.
Oh, I totally lied, gentle readers. I’m not going to jump into my enduring love for Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King. Not right now, anyway. I’m teasing you, for now, you–the collective three people that drop by once in a while to peruse whatever I’ve smeared and smushed into an incoherent blog post. Thank you all, by the way, for reading my posts. I appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I wrote this short story about a miniature dragon.I set it in one of Idaho’s actually truly historically famous towns–Idaho City. Which used to be the biggest city between St. Louis and Portland during the late 1800’s. Used to be. There was a gold boom in Idaho, and Idaho is now known as the Gem State. They have Famous Potatoes, but they’re actually the Gem State. Anyway!! Personal note: my aunt and uncle used to live up past Idaho City, up around Centerville, which might sound gigantic and Chicago-sized, well, it’s not. It’s teeny. As is Idaho City. We visited there a lot for holidays and otherwise, so yes, Idaho City and those gorgeous mountains do figure in my writing. Gold miners, murders, boom town, Native Americans, history of the real west…it’s like human nip to me. That’s cat nip, except for humans! Or maybe that’s just chocolate. Or coffee. Or fries drenched in gravy. Or homemade bread just out of the oven. Or tacos. Or. Or. Or.
So I just imagined, being a writer, that’s kinda my job…a business owner with a surefire tourist attraction, a little dragon in a cage. A woman business owner, who has made the best of her situation and where she lives and what she has to work with. This is probably one of the favorite things of mine I’ve ever composed. I like how pragmatic and practical Jane is and I rather like how that dragon developed. I won’t post the whole story, as it’s close to eight thousand words…and hey, you can read it yourself in…wait for it….wait for it…OREGON GOTHIC!!!Which is available for purchase! And– if you can, go leave a review. Good, bad, indifferent, leave a review. I need to start asking folks to LEAVE A REVIEW.Apparently, word of mouth only works if there is actually, um, word of mouth.
Oh…even though my BOOK might be titled OREGON GOTHIC, it does include tales of a somewhat Idaho-laced Gothic nature as well. Because Eastern Oregon, where I am and Western Idaho happen to be hopelessly intermingled. Eastern Oregon is rather snidely referred to as part of Idaho. We’re even on Mountain Time here, instead of Pacific, like the rest of Oregon. You switch time zones when you go past Farewell Bend, up by Huntington, if you’re inclined to go investigate that. Snake River, Farewell Bend, Huntington. Anyway!!!
And now!! An excerpt from COME FOR THE PIE, STAY FOR THE DRAGON, one of the tales included in the fabulous and awesome and wonderful and fabulously awesomely wonderful OREGON GOTHIC:
Along Idaho Highway 21, there’s a little mining and logging town called Idaho City. Well, once upon a time, about a hundred years or longer, it had mining and logging and the reputation of a real hot place to be any time of the week. Now, it’s more of a sedately dying tourist trap. But that’s for quite another tale. People do drugs here now and sell stuff to tourists passing through. There’s also skiing and snowmobiling during the winter months. It’s a busy little two-lane heading up into the Idaho mountains, that ole 21.
Now, Jane Spudman, she changed her name because of the tourist trade, her actual last name was something like Heinburg or Hindendammer, Jane ran a little diner and curio shop. The name over all this was, yes, The Spudster. It featured local game– elk and venison and pheasant, mostly– the famous Idaho potatoes, homemade pie and one caged, tiny, always depressed miniature dragon.
This combo diner and curio shop sat smack right on the highway, where one just had to jerk the wheel a little to arrive in the dirt parking lot. Jane had painted the outside a sedate pioneer white– the actual color on the paint cans had been Pioneer White. This had been obtained from a mark down sale at Home Depot, she told everyone. Jane hunted out bargains and mark downs the way others hunted fish. Her eyes would light up, her blood would race as she made her ten dollars, usually all she carried in cash, stretch to the utter limits. She even bargained at times if she had to. Americans don’t know how to haggle but Jane did. Well, Jane knew slightly how to haggle. She mostly just walked away if she got insulted enough. Where or how she had gotten that miniature dragon in the cage, she never said. It was her greatest secret, she often murmured, with a twinkle in her very German blue eyes. Her grandfather had spoken German and lived in Nebraska most of his life, Amherst, Nebraska– if Jane can be trusted. Her ancestors had come over right before the Civil War, she was the daughter of actually very acceptable immigrants. She often said she was not Irish. For some reason, she had a great loathing of Irish roots. Also, her far-distant German immigrant ancestors had not been slave-owners, which she was also proud of. Jane had a framed picture of some grim-looking folks who vaguely resembled her, wearing old-timey clothes, a black and white print, which she claimed was her relatives from the 1880’s. As Jane stood over six foot tall, with dyed black hair, and wore a Levi vest over a Boise Broncos t-shirt most days and Wrangler jeans over bright purple cowboy boots, well, there was really no telling if Jane had simply found this old picture and claimed it as her own. People did that when they worked with tourists for a living.
So, on a late fall day, with snow threatening at any moment, Jane put a freshly made coconut cream pie in her revolving pie and dessert case. There was also key lime, banana cream, lemon crunch, rhubarb, cherry, apple, huckleberry, chocolate silk and peanut butter. She changed the lineup of her pies to keep things interesting. Once in a while, she whipped up a cake, during those long winter months, to amuse herself. Cake just seemed more filling and right during January storms, she said. Her cook, Leanne, flipped burgers on the grill, her hair held back in a bun covered by a hairnet. A couple of hunters sat drinking coffee and waiting for their burgers and fries, and yes, pie. They wore the Day Glo vests of orange and also wore the camouflage pants that no deer or elk, of course, could see, ever. The deer were always fooled by the half-missing humans pointing bang sticks at them. One hunter was bald, the other was not. Others in the Spudster ate omelets and stacks of pancakes, as breakfast was served all day long. People liked breakfast all day long, Jane had never understood diners who only served eggs and toast and bacon to ten or so in the morning. Give the people what they want, they’ll pay you money for it, was her genial motto. Her waitress, [ and of course Jane had several waitresses on reserve with names like Becky and Susie], Cathy, who had dropped out of high school to give birth to a very much unwanted baby just last year, slopped coffee and topped up water glasses. She never smiled but she did manage to keep her snarl of a voice pleasant enough when at work. Nineteen and already used up and spit out by life. Cathy also said the dragon had come from Satan’s bedroom. Cathy had taken up Jesus big time since her life had gone to Shitsville for a possibly life-long stay. As Cathy didn’t bother the dragon or even go near it, Jane let it slide. As long as Cathy worked and slaved for pennies, what did it matter how Cathy thought the dragon had come from God’s arch-nemesis? It was more funny than threatening. And God knew laughs were needed to get through a day spent with tourists.
Jane went to the curio side of her business. Two children stared in at the sleeping dragon, which had two mottled bicolored wings– fog gray and grass green– curled along its sinewy back. The boy was about ten, with an upturned pig snout of a nose. The girl, a sister or even twin sister, was about the same age or just big for her years. They had reddish-orange hair, curly and rather repugnant. Jane had no urge to pat their heads nor did she honestly find them adorable. They were not. But she put on her pleasant face, and busied herself near the shelf of antique dishes. The dragon slumbered on. There were faded scars on its shoulders and the long, horse-like face where it had tried to bust itself out of its jail. Jane had placed the cage, five feet by five feet, on a pedestal and had roped off the area around it so no one could poke at or hurt the dragon. It was, after all, about a foot long, maybe longer. Men judged everything on inches, she did not. She had no wish to see her big draw taken out by a careless or malicious tourist, and truth be told, tourists were both most of the time. People traveled out of their home towns and turned into bona fide turds. She herself experienced this the further she got from Idaho’s borders. On the rare instances Jane did manage to drive or fly anywhere, her impulses went from kindly and polite to unkindly and impolite. She pushed and shoved and demanded with the best of them. Once in O’Hare, she had shoved an old lady to get on a tiny plane headed back to Boise. It had been a supreme act of arrogance and meanness. And so satisfactory!
“It’s not a real dragon,” the boy said, looking at Jane like one might look at a math problem one didn’t want to do, with loathing and exasperation and disbelief. The girl clicked her tongue, making a tuk-tuk-tuk noise. What had they been doing in here unsupervised? Oh dear.
“I assure you, it is.” Jane moved her carnival glass up to eye level. Cathy served the hunters their burgers and fries. She had even more zits clustered around her mouth than usual today. A good healthy dose of self-esteem and Dove soap might help. Cathy also needed a winning Powerball ticket, and a trip to some bountiful future where poor stupid girls became rich intelligent women.” You two from around here?”
They were not. Jane knew just about everybody who crouched, lived, squatted and rented around these parts. These two goblins masquerading as children were not local spawn. “Pasadena. The good part. We ain’t from this fucking shithole. We’re from California. God!” The girl said.” It’s not a real dragon. It’s an iguana. Or a Komodo Dragon. I watch a lot of reptile shows. I know reptiles.”
“Yeah. A fucking iguana. This is lame.” The boy added, giant shallow eyes raking over the curio side of the diner with absolute disgust. The dragon in the iron cage opened one sky blue eye. The girl stepped back, barely avoiding a jet of tiny black-tinged flame. The boy hooted like a sick owl. “What the hell!”
“It’s not an iguana,” Jane reiterated gently. The no-trespassing space about the dragon was both to protect the little animal and to protect tourists and locals alike. It spat fire now and then. She had been burned rather badly during a careless moment passing too close. That burn, on her left forearm, had taken almost a year to heal. The doctor had had to graft skin from her thigh to close up the nickel-sized hole. Jane had not been careless like that since. The dragon hated her with all its tiny might. It never grew tame or compliant. But. It drew in customers and customers paid the bills. And very few people these days in Idaho City could actually pay their bills.
“It’s a trick, a dirty old trick.” The girl said, quite determined to prove an actual dragon just an ordinary lizard which someone had rigged with fire-breathing abilities. “Come on, Walter. Let’s go get some pie. Stepmonster said we could have some if we behaved.”
Walter, the boy, the goblin in disguise as a boy, all children were actually goblins in disguise, sniffed, wiped his nose on his sleeve. “I thought dad said no.”
“Dad can suck it,” the unnamed girl said without a look at Jane. But the blue-eyed dragon got a glare, which it returned with interest. Jane smiled her vague, of course I’m happy to be here with you smile. The dragon was due for a mouse. It ate them from the tail to the head. Tortured them as it ate them. But. It was the only food Jane could get the miniature monster to eat. She had tried lettuce, seeds, nuts of every kind including the expensive macadamia. She had tried hamburger and pork sausage, both raw and cooked versions. Chicken, too. The dragon had allowed itself to be fed a mouse now and then. A live mouse or at times, if the dragon was hungry enough, a dead one from a trap. Its hide, a smooth furless hide, would ripple and change color when it was hungry. From the normal dull gray-green to bright poisonous lime and bright black. She knew then that it would accept any mouse in any condition when its body looked like a tennis ball intersected with bright black bands. Minus the fuzzy roundness, as it was a lean little monster, with its ribs clearly marked, the hollows of its long face marked and immediate. It was also unnervingly silent. It just watched. It just observed. When she cleaned the cage, she had to put the dragon into a gunny sack full of nails. The dragon had to be handled with falconer gloves and placed into the gunny sack. Full of nails. Little iron nails. The dragon would not move. And she very carefully placed a bucket over this. The dragon had tried, once, to escape, even though touching the nails had clearly hurt it severely. It had panted and moved about and shuddered for days after. And licked the raw places the iron nails had touched, looking at Jane with real understanding that it was Jane and Jane alone who had caused all this misery. Some sort of allergy, had to be. As she herself had an allergic reaction to metals, she had a faint sympathy for her tourist draw. Her ears grew into bright red, pus-filled horrors if she wore earrings. She had tried three times to have pierced ears. Same result every time.
Of course other places had tigers and bears and alligators for draws. Or some sort of sideshow. She had heard of a small hole in the road somewhere in the wilds of the Cascades, somewhere in Oregon, where they kept a naked two-headed boy on a chain. And the tourists could pay money to watch this two-headed naked boy being fed rats. Or chickens. Sort of a messed up version of the circus geek, usually a male who had bitten the heads off live animals for people’s amusement. As people were highly amused by watching cruelty and observing freaks. Always had been. Always would be, no matter the clime of political correctness.
The two goblins disguised as children went back to their table where their parents, two ordinary pinkish sorts, were slurping down chicken fried steaks and talking about leaving their awful offspring somewhere for others to raise. Or so Jane imagined. She liked to amuse herself imagining rather terrible things about her customers. It helped her deal with their demands and impossible arrogances. It helped her deal with their disbelief that an actual tiny dragon existed, let alone existed in a cage in Idaho City, Idaho, Boise County, United States of America. She considered such dark fantasies harmless and was very good at wiping her face clear of any actual emotion or reaction she might have felt toward anyone.