I am languishing a bit, waiting for ‘inspiration’ to tell me to…!
I, meanwhile, work on crap and shit, because I have to claim I’m ‘working on something’ or I lose my cool Writer Street Cred with the other growling, snarling Writers that lurk near my part of the forest.
I have a collection of writings I’d never show anyone. And maybe one day publish under a name not mine and make tons of cash because it’s easily digestible fluff and not angsty, vague, endless examinations of why my parents didn’t really love me. [Are we writers all not, pathetically, Eugene O’Neill on his worst and best days?]
And then I remember someone thought of Sharknado and pitched it and people loved that.
And then howl with despair, inside my head, of course, at the state of my own serious ‘stuff’ and not write anything for the rest of the day. Or feel guilty I’d rather knock out some fluff-n-fold, which won’t advance my career in the least unless I show it to someone who has the power to publish it…if not self-publish it but then I’d have to go back through it all, tidy it up, fill in blanks I left because I wanted to get to the ‘good parts’ and…oh the work load alone. It’s both exciting and terribly not exciting at all.
I have some options for my next Serious Stuff Project.
I can think of something brand new, based on a short story or something I started. Or something yet in my head.
There’s Aftermath, my zombie short story that grew into an actual novella and now waits for me to finish it or call it a day. I left Hannah staring down into a giant crater outside of Boise, Idaho, with wild zombies closing in. I know. Zombie. I know but…well. And like every other god damn zombie blah ever, it’s NOT ABOUT ZOMBIES. It’s a METAPHOR FOR TENTACLE PORN AND ACID-WASHED JEANS and possibly something about politics and feminism and greyhound racing. Zombies, pfft! It’s never about zombies, is it.
There’s the Tales of Beastface Bay, my Wind in the Willows meets Modern Societal Wrongs meets the Marx Brothers rompings. No. I can already feel myself just going nope nope not yet in my head.
I can work on my third book in the trilogy of my House on Clark Boulevard fun. I need to read through the first two. Alice in Oregonlandia might need a reworking…ooooh. Maybe.
Work on my Honest Women full length play. Mm.
Curl up on the floor, in utter despair, at what has happened in a very short time, to America. Drink directly from vodka bottle. Eat a taco of leftover stuff from night before. Continue with this list.
Give up writing altogether and slit wrists. Mm. Maybe.
Take up writing fanfic. Either Watership Down or something in the Barbara Kingsolver area. I could really work the hell out of a Bean Trees/Twilight mashup. And all my characters could be badgers who act like British rabbits. Which would lend nicely to my Beastface Bay squrivvels and scribblings. [Made up word, ten points!]
Actually try to make heads and tales of my fluffy, can’t-show-to-no-one, pennings. Arrange them, put them in order, rewrite the truly awful ones. Fanfic…ahem, um, yes. Sparkly vampire badgers who spout Moliere…oh yes, spank me with a gray tie. [If you get that, we can now be friends.]
Start a new blog, under another name, full of naughty stuff. To see how popular that would be as opposed to my dull, proper plodding blog here. Anne Rice and A. N. Roquelaure, for instance. Maybe I’ve already done that! Ooooooh! [I haven’t, for the record.]
Take up knitting or adult coloring because it’s clear my writing is full blown crap on burned, moldy toast that no one outside of my patient, tolerant friends, would go near.
Take an online course in how to have self-esteem and sell your crap to friends and strangers alike for cash to pay things like bills.
Um…yeah. This has been fun. I should go watch the twirly skaters or stare at the sky, waiting for the snow. It still has not snowed here. I’m flabbergasted and hurt.
What about an earthquake full of bears? Bearquako. And then the sequels! Bearquako, Fists of Bees. Samantha Saves the World, Bearquako III. The Son of Bearquako! And of course, Bearquako, the End? And that has to be a question, because sequels…they sell. The marketing does itself.
Obviously, I have about two maybe good-ish ideas on here for NEXT ACTUAL PROJECT and some silly-Susan kinda wafflings. Wish me luck.
Let’s get some bidnez out of the way first, m’kay?
BUY MY BOOKS. There. We all feel better now? I do!
House on Clark Boulevard, in case you didn’t see that title SPLASHED ALL OVER THIS SITE and of course, the lovely and talentedOREGON GOTHICfeaturing short stories no self-respecting cat hoarder would ever be without.
I do actually have a topic. Patience, grasshoppers. Patience.
Me, myself and I have restarted, from scratch, my novel about old ladies V. cannibal bikers in the small town of Fallon, Nevada. Oh my, I can hear the intake of shocked breaths from HERE.
The Remarkable Women of Brokenheart Lane.
Now, the previous and finished product held elements of gut-wrenching horror and gut-churning forays into the heart of darkness. And my publisher dude just went…fuck this, what the hell is wrong with you. No doubt in a veddy posh British accent.
Posh Spice snorting about bloody Americans as they sip their tenth cup of Earl Gray for the day. Yep!
I was understandably X. [I can’t write, wah!] I went extreme! I let people see how extreme I went! [Believe me, kiddos, there’s a whole flipping ocean beneath my extreme, don’t even worry.]
“Never go full extreme!” seemed to be the lesson here…or at least, shop your extreme stuff to those in the extreme bidnez. Don’t be an Albert Fish in a world of Dr. Seussian polite murder mysteries and sweet little ghost tales. Lesson learned!
The street in that title, THE REMARKABLE WOMEN OF BROKENHEART LANE, by the way, is an actual street name I saw in Nevada. There’s also a Chicken Dinner Lane [it might even be road] in Caldwell, Idaho. I love those wacky street names. They ‘inspire’ me.
A year or more goes by.
Imagine that flippy calendar visual. Got it? Okay! We’re hopping from a June of perhaps over a year ago to–
It’s December of 2017.
I think, ah, I need a new project. Candy Crush cannot become my new project, even though HOW THE FUCK DO YOU GET PAST LEVEL &&$. Yes, I am a bit hooked on a damn game, and it’s sad and silly. It’s sild. Slad? I’ll work on combining those two words into one awesome one. New goal for today! Where was I?
Oh. New project. Christmas time.
Lurking in my muzzy, wuzzy head is the idea that Remarkable Women needs a REWRITE. Because, allegedly, that’s what writers do. Take out something laid aside and torture it into new, probably sleazy, crackwhore-ish shapes. All to make a buck eventually somewhere in the land of the not really free and the home of the sneeringly can’t be bothered. Most of whom don’t even know the words to their own National Anthem yet have strokes over how patriotic they are. Amen, Baby Jesus. And the socket’s red blare, the fights bursting in fair! Gave proof to the lie that our frogs were still hair!
What’s YOUR NOVEL about, you ask. Thank you for asking!
Oh these three elderly sisters have survived some sort of world-ending event. They live in a falling down house and try to avoid starving to death, when they’re not trying to avoid the gangs of human monsters roaming about through the Nevada wastelands.
See why I went all dark and Cormac MacCarthy? Yeah, me either. Because that premise just screams for a lighthearted romp with zingers, witty observations about modern manners and a sneer sent toward Millenials, because…that’s what everyone else is doing.
The seed of Remarkable Women was actually three sisters going to visit their childhood home to visit the grave of their childhood dog. Which I did actually write and send off somewhere to get SOUNDLY REJECTED.
But then another moldy seed split from my original kitchen sink reality seed…cannibals, bikers, Mad Max-like scenarios, old ladies.
I mixed Doomsday, the Road Warrior and those movies featuring women far past their prime [ anything over fifteen years old, amirite, gentlemen??]. Those movies usually starring Judi Dench, Helen Miren and Maggie Smith. Actual Dames! Kind of like those movies starring a raft of ancient creaky actors still creaking around, usually studded with Morgan Freeman or Michael Caine.
Who doesn’t combine a bunch of rando thoughts into one big whirling shitball and then make ART from it? Everyone does it. Everyone.
This outing, this new rising from the dead ashes of another book, [not dead, just resting. Just resting!]
–this time taking on that dusty world of death, destruction and impossibly narrow escapes…
I find the story wishes to float along in a truly breezy, just write the damn words sorta way. I also find the story wishes to be told from two POV’s– those of the sisters and those of the bikers. I’m giggling rather foully to myself as I write so that’s a good sign. For me, at least. I’m having fun! Writing is fun! Look at me! FUN FUN FUN.
It’s foggy here so I can’t go outside. It’s also non-snowy so my rage at the lack of snowiness rages.
Candy Crush and total ass out, balls to the wall rewrite in the works. I’m not consulting the finished draft I already wrote ages ago. I reason I can make up silly post-Apocalypse names without having to copy my own silly made up post-Apocalypse names, as that just seems like cheating.
Lily, Violet and Laura, hello again! It seems like we’re old friends and you all have a fresh tale to shout in my ear. A sort of dark-ish fairy tale about ogres and witches and my own version of a Valentine to Nevada, that Silver State that oftentimes leaves a bit of shiny fake gold in my noggin. Let’s raise our typing fingers to THE REMARKABLE WOMEN OF BROKENHEART LANE. Long may she languish in don’t wanna touch that publishing purgatory!*
*If I say something like that, the only place I have to go is up. I’ve read the inspirational quotes, for the love of fucks and money. Start low and go high! You can’t start on the high road without wading through the cow pond, my dears. A bit of homespun Oreeegun wizdum. Wheeee.
I wrote the following SHORT STORY on Christmas Day, 2017.
Snow showed up Christmas Eve and turned the local roads into skating rinks, so we stayed home instead of venturing forth for roast beast and mulled Keystone Light. I had read an account of a man who saved a mouse on some Animals-R-Grrrreat site. [Dodo? Dog Heirs? ???] The following slipped forth. There are no ghosts or goblins or zombies. It’s just a tale of a lonely man and a hurt mouse.
A TINY TALE
The mouse sits in the middle of the floor, a dejected little creature. I catch my breath, understandably startled. Mice tend to rush off and hide, not sit and wait for whatever end I might decide for them. I approach, wondering about poison. A poisoned mouse would be so caught up in dying, it would not mind someone nearby watching. I notice the mouse has a twisted, bloody back leg as I look down at it. Gray fur, a white bib, large ears and suffering black eyes. My kitchen linoleum seems a killing floor and the mouse has come here to surrender. It just waits for the killing blow to the head, the jolt of electricity, the bolt into the brain. I have traps set out. I always hope they kill instantly. They don’t. Sometimes a mouse is caught by a small arm or by the tail. And if I do not remember to check, they languish for hours until they die of fright or pain. Or perhaps they just give up. Once I found half a tail still caught in a trap’s metal frame.
The mouse shivers but does not run off as I bend to get a closer look in the hard dawn light. Light in winter hurts my eyes, light in summer welcomes me. The light changes in winter, that’s what I know. Snow arrived yesterday in time for Christmas Eve. The world around me, familiar roads and dirty sidewalks and filthy alleys, rests beneath a layer of snowflakes. It seems somehow so fitting to have snow at Christmas. Even though the origins of this holiday came from the desert lands of the Middle East. As far as I know, Jesus never threw snowballs or went sledding. I look at the box yet on the table, that held small gifts from indifferent relatives mailed to me because of obligation. Generic gift boxes of spiced sausages and tiny blocks of smoked gouda or bacon-infused cheddar. Do I not have some smaller box I could line with something soft? The mouse does not move. Quick small breaths in and out, in and out.
Though I am careful, the mouse clearly experiences pain. The small face twitches, the eyes close shut. The mouse I set down in the small box, full of ripped up toilet paper. It sits there, wondering why I am prolonging its life. I get a cotton swab, dip it into some hydrogen peroxide, apply this to the mangled leg. Foam. The mouse actually drags itself into the torn paper. I try not to touch it, thinking my presence just stresses the creature out even more. A drink, a bit of something to nibble as it rests or as it dies anyway. I have an eye dropper, perhaps a bit of cracker. I brush the end of the dropper against the mouse’s tiny mouth. After a bit, it swallows. Heat spreads itself in my chest, relief and resignation that I am now committed to saving this one mouse’s life.
I put the lid on the box, with holes punched in that lid by a butter knife. I have no vet training and don’t know what to do for such a messed up limb as that. Would it be kinder to just kill the little thing? But somehow, I cannot bring myself to execute the dainty, gray and white, little beast just yet. The rest of it seems fine; it’s just that bad leg. A cat? A trap? An owl? Except. How can a three-legged mouse survive a world of human traps and predators? There are three-legged pets the world over. But a damaged little prey animal would quickly succumb to something. I begin the coffee and contemplate that small box, full of a suffering little thing. If it dies, then it will die with its thirst quenched, in the warm soft dark of a box.
My immediate family has long been gone and perhaps that is why I am reacting so strongly to a common pest like this. A longing for something I never really had? Perhaps or just my natural kindness. My Midwest fabled politeness? I have long grown used to my solitary life, to the roughness of my hands and the roughness of my life. I work in a slaughterhouse and I cut up livestock. They come to me already dead but even I wonder if whatever animated them watches us cut their bodies into steaks and chops and briskets and roasts. If there is a God, God does not live in a slaughterhouse. That much I know to be true. I hope the God everyone argues over so viciously does not live in the slaughterhouses of the world. I hope that with real hope. I hope God is not looking out of those wide dark eyes or trapped behind the dead glazed pupils, asking us to see Him finally. Where do such thoughts come from. The coffee perks away.
I make my breakfast, oatmeal with bananas cooked into it. I make toast. I drink coffee. I check on the mouse, who huddles down but does not try to escape. I give it some more water, being patient. It does not know I am trying to help it. It only knows I scooped it up, hurt it further by pouring something painful on its leg and then trapped it in a box full of strange paper. It swallows, I see it. The cracker is yet untouched. As long as it drinks, I think. I remember having one of those watering deals for my one and only pet, a guinea pig. A metal spout they could lick to get a drink, attached to a plastic bottle. My guinea pig, named Ralph, lived almost a month. It got sick, and then I found it dead in its cage. My mother threw the stiff red and white body away. We lived in Omaha, in a tiny apartment and there was nowhere to bury it. No yard or soft grassy green place. Just tossed in with the coffee grinds, the potato peelings and the overdue bill notices. It will stink, John, she told me as she yanked the trash bag up and had me take it out to join the rest in the dumpster behind the ratty apartment building we used to live in. She had been a harsh, hard woman, German on both sides. She had no time for feelings or not doing what needed to be done. Her hands, I remember, were rougher than mine are now. They cracked and had little red fissures. She covered them with cold cream and tried not to show how they hurt her. She got the flu, it turned into some kind of awful pneumonia and then days later she died. I was fifteen and became a ward of the state of Nebraska. No one wanted me, my distant relatives never responded to the state’s pleas to come get me, and I went to work as soon as I turned eighteen. The same story of a lot of kids.
I give the mouse another drink and leave a small bottle cap full of water for it. I had agreed to a Christmas Day shift so that Todd, who had a family, could drink whiskey sours and eat turkey with his in-laws. Others who didn’t care about Christmas or didn’t really have families also took shifts today. The work would be light and yet drag. Work dragged on any holiday when the place stayed open to process carcasses. Maybe I should take the mouse with me. And what? Keep checking on it to see if it had died yet? How could I explain the small forlorn mouse I had adopted? I find I don’t want to be stared at or noticed by others. I find I hate such attention, that I’m not brave or bold. I am a sheep being led to some slaughter, and maybe I’ll protest a bit before they put a bolt in my sheep head.
It’s a mouse, I argue with myself. Why do my eyes sting?
I returned home ten hours later. I smelled of blood. My hands ached. My back ached, my spine had an ache deep in the heart of it. How much longer could I do this awful work? I am not a young man anymore. The roads proved an icy nightmare and I had slid about to and fro from work. My apartment smells of fried potatoes. I had made myself an entire panful Christmas Eve, with onions and some of that mail cheese. My tiny fake tree sits in the far corner of my living room. The picture of my mother watches me from the wall.
The mouse had curled itself up in a corner of that box. The water looked lower and the cracker had been nibbled. It goes very still, its respiration very swift. The leg looks mangled and torn, twisted strangely, both gnawed and broken, perhaps. Had I expected it to be magically healed by the application of peroxide? Maybe some antibiotic cream. I had some. It could be smeared on with a cotton swab. More peroxide to keep the leg from getting infected. Why are you doing this, something in me had to ask. Because it’s the right thing to do, I answered back.
I doctor that leg as best I can, trying to be gentle. Me, a big, rambling bear of a man, trying to be gentle with a tiny morsel of life. A foaming, the peroxide biting deep. Then I attempt to get some antibiotic ointment on that leg as the mouse clearly wishes I’d just go away and leave it alone. Why does it seem the mouse is letting me help it, though? The tiny black eyes blink carefully, the ears swivel, the little whiskers move and shiver. I try not to move or handle that leg, that tiny tiny leg.
I take a shower and wash off the day’s horrors from me. The endless coming of dead bodies to be chopped and sawed and pried apart. I have never had another job. I know of no other way to earn enough to pay my rent and pay my bills. I was never good in school and have no real talents. I cannot sing or draw. I am not that good with numbers. I can wield a bone saw and I can carve up a steer and I can cook eggs. My list of accomplishments is very small. I developed a drinking problem but I gave it up three years ago, when I hit my fiftieth birthday. Being a fifty year old drunk did not appeal to me. My last steady girl seems ages ago. Claire, who had a tattoo of a heart right above her heart. She moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to be closer to her sister who had leukemia. She stopped calling me, and I don’t know if her sister survived or not.
I change the toilet paper. I get the mouse another cracker and a bit of banana. Do mice eat bananas?
If I need the internet and I never do, I go to the local library. I have a cell phone but hardly anyone but work calls me. I need something like an old-fashioned set of encyclopedias. What do mice eat? I don’t know. I wonder if any vets are working today. I have no numbers to call. It’s not like the old days, when you had a phone book. I miss phone books. I am rather behind on technology and all that. I miss phone books.
I go to bed early, after another check on my little hurt guest. I also spring all my traps. I find a dead mouse in one and the stiff body seems an actual mocking of my attempts to save the mouse I placed in that tiny box. I take the dead out to the garbage bin everyone uses. We pile our garbage bags and refuse inside and the garbage men arrive once a week to collect it, for which we all pay a small collective fee. The wind kicks up, more snow arriving. I sleep and have my usual dreams of imagining I am part of some giant family and it’s summer. It’s always summer in my dreams. That warm, gentle light of summer.
The mouse has survived the night.
It drags itself into the little cave it made in the toilet paper. I doctor the leg again, being ever so careful. I change the toilet paper. Maybe that stuff they use in teddy bears? What is that called? I eat scrambled eggs, with a bit of the extra fancy smoked gouda sprinkled on it, drink my black coffee and feel something like peace. I hear little movements from that box today. I even hear that cracker being munched a bit. There are no other sounds except the usual creaks of my apartment, the rising and falling whine of the wind full of snow and sleet, and the nibbling of that hurt mouse. Todd has a dog. He would have a vet’s number. I have the swing shift today.
“Todd? Yeah, it’s John. Hey, weird question. Do you have a vet?”
“Hey, John. Merry Christmas, you sumbitch. A what?”
“A vet. Thanks. Merry Christmas,” I say back, my face hot. Was I asking about a vet for a mouse? Was I?
“You need a vet? Uh…yeah. We go to the vet clinic.” Todd rattles off a number and I hastily recorded it on the back of my electric bill. “You get a dog?”
“No. I found a…a wild animal and maybe the vet can help.”
“Just kill it. It’s probably suffering.” Todd offers.
“Yeah.” We exchange some words, mostly him speaking of how dry the turkey was. He loves wet turkey. Dripping with turkey juice and butter. I hate turkey so I mostly ignore the turkey grumbling.
A woman’s bright, sweet voice answers when I try that number. I explain my problem. “A mouse, you said? A wild mouse? Um, well, you can bring it in, of course. But maybe you should try a wildlife rescue. Just a long shot. They take in injured wildlife, after all.”
I had not thought of that. “Thank you. The back leg is crunched or something. It let me pick it up and I have it in a box.”
“Like I said, we can take a look at it, sir. But I’d suggest a wildlife place. I have a number if you want to try them. There’s one nearby. They’re small but they might be able to do something.”
“Okay. Thanks.” I take the number and end the call. I check in the box, the mouse peers back at me, from its cave, before carefully trying to hide itself completely from me. I call the wildlife place and it goes to message. To the vet, then.
My sweet-voiced angel turns out to be a giant, ugly woman with grizzled fake red hair and the loveliest smile. She looks into the box and then nods at me. A man sits on one of the old worn yellow chairs, with a cocker spaniel held on his lap. “It’ll be a bit, We have a cat with a broken leg to see to and then Mr. Thorndyce here and Bandit. You tried the wildlife place?” Her nametag spells out Juli. The air stinks of sharp, bitter medicine and cinnamon air spray. Pictures of animals hang on the walls. A poster about the care of a new puppy. A bulletin board for community animal needs and wants and people looking for lost dogs or cats or people trying to give away unwanted this or that.
“Yes, I did. I just got an answering machine. I’ll try them again.” I catch a glimpse of a big shaggy black dog being led to a cage, wearing a cast on a front leg. It tries to lick the person trying to get it into the cage. The person pets it, bends low to say something to the wiggling friendly dog and then puts the dog behind bars to await the owner coming to pick it up.
“They’re probably busy doing rounds. Feeding, cleaning, you know. Yeah, try again. Dr. Calvin will take a looksee. Oh yeah…look at that leg. Poor thing. Just have a seat.” She smiles that lovely smile, her teeth yellow and homely. Juli probably had kids at home and lots of dogs, that was the impression I got from her. Those ugly farm women types someone marries because they probably got her pregnant. She even wears a red and green sweater beneath her white coat.
Bandit, the spaniel, squirms and then hops down and emits a giant pile of diarrhea. Juli gets the cleaning supplies out, after taking the pair back behind the swinging doors. “I’m sorry, he musta got into somethin’,” the man says. Don’t you worry, Juli is overheard saying. She comes back out, gives me an apologetic smile, then cleans up the mess as a young mother, holding a tiny child to her hip, comes in leading a German Shepherd, with its back leg dangling.
“He was like this this morning,” the young mother says, in tears. “I think he got hit by a car!”
So, it takes a while for Dr. Calvin to peer into the box at the thoroughly confused mouse. “Well, I can try to clean it and bandage it a bit, that’s about all I can do. You sure you want a bill for a wild mouse?”
“Yeah, I do. He lived through the night. I been putting peroxide on it and some antibiotic stuff. He’s been drinking water and took some cracker. I…I have to try, right?”
The vet, an older woman with short crisp iron gray hair and steel-blue eyes behind smeary glasses, takes a long look at me then nods. Clearly, she’s seen other nuts bringing in boxes of broken little lives and hoping for miracles or whatever is hoped for. Is a vet not in the business of miracles? Perhaps I am nuts. Perhaps I am.
I take the mouse home, over fifty dollars poorer. I got charged an office visit, basically. But that mangled leg is now encased in soft white bandaging with the warning that the mouse will probably chew that off almost immediately. I was also given a sample size of antibiotic cream meant for animals. It won’t sting, the vet assured me. She also looked up, on her computer, what mice could eat. I went to the local pet store to get some mouse pellets and also, while there, bought a small habitat, as it was called. I got a waterer, rather like the one that had watered long-dead Ralph. There’s after-Christmas sales galore but I only had my temporary guest to see to, not some coddled pup or arrogant, fluffy cat. I walk by cages of small rodents. Mice, even. Hamsters and gerbils and a rabbit or two. Fish. A wall of fish, waiting to go home and die and be flushed down a toilet. Or perhaps live for years in some quiet aquarium. I watch two angel fish float in their watery domain, black and white creatures from other worlds I will never know. Goggle-eyed goldfish and darting schools of minnows. Those beautiful betas in their small sad cups. The limp fins moving now and then, deep reds to navy blues to royal purples. I pay for my mouse supplies and head home on treacherous roads, but I am used to such conditions. The wind rocks my small truck about, but I am in four-wheel drive, which is a necessity on the plains.
I transfer Mouse to his new house and then smile over my rhyming. I bought bedding material, wood shavings with no smell. I set up the waterer. I put the habitat next to my heating duct so Mouse stays warm. I go off to my afternoon shift and come home late at night. I check on my patient who is still alive. The water seems a bit lower, the mouse seems a bit more lively and there are mouse food pellets scattered about as if the mouse has been sampling them. There are even tiny mouse droppings. Happiness. Happiness over a dime a dozen rodent still alive in its twenty five dollar and then some mouse mansion. But. I have no kids. I don’t go out that much, if ever. I don’t even drink anymore. What’s a bit of a splurge on a damn hurt mouse anyway? My mother’s flat eyes watch me and cannot tell me if I am doing right or being a foolish aging man.
I tell no one of my house guest. I cannot think of that wild thing as a pet; it’s not a pet. It never warms to me. I never try to pick it up. I only handle it to apply that cream to its healing leg. That leg gets dragged behind it as it scuttles about. I notice the mouse licking at it. The bandages indeed gnawed off, as the vet predicted. But it licks that leg. Rather like a dog would do. I notice the mouse has made itself a small nest in the very back corner of the habitat, as if to hide from me as much as possible. I respect that. It has no wish to deal with me. Very well.
I will see this through, no matter what happens. If the mouse heals, I will let it go. If it dies, I will throw away the little body, wrapped in toilet paper as a sort of shroud. I might even look into getting a dog or perhaps a cat, since I am gone so many hours for my job. Perhaps I am a bit lonelier than I knew. I doze on my couch and the mouse moves about in the plastic mansion. The snow comes down outside, in the days after Christmas.
I wrote the following after receiving a rejection.
Then moi conceived a magnificent plan.
Here’s my ‘brilliant’ plan!!
I’ll write some stream of consciousness, totally woke prosepoemsmear and submit that to X submission opportunity! It will be lacking in actual grammar, structure and paternal literary merits! It will have no merit. None. Not a whiff of merit. I stayed highly aware of my own wokeness the entire time I typed that below. Did North Korea just flippin’ BOMB US?? Where is the vodka?
If I consider ‘murica right now…I’ll start eating my bad hair. I won’t bother with a mustard chaser this time.
Flapdoodle sexbugs of Ganderv55
CarLISLE gives nothing and I rot like a dream as we rut in the leaves beneath the tree of his mother. She brings us old toast and new coffee her hair on fire from daddysexjuice and we smell her burning but she pours us coffee and scolds us about jesus who is meek and mild and full of corn. mother moother you are old news and mother directs us like traffic cones into the river of my lovers who slap me with morality. i screamed could not find my way but my carLISLE advised me to take three aspirin and stuff them in my sexbug and oooooh i discovered the sands of my own breasts and i wept because i am not awake.
we went on the sidewalk found a cup and a dead idea, took both back in our backpack and put them in a cage because it’s all we know of high heels. dream on screamed moother and we dreamed on
until father gave us gum that smelled like cinnamon whores at low tide which created ghosts in our intestines that we farted out as ironic statements of purpose for ivy schools that never considered us contenders. I WORE A YELLOW FLAPDOODLE and nobody told me I WORE A YELLOW FLAPDOODLE and I wondered why no one told me because i posted the bread pictures and everyone hit the yes button and told me yes yes yes and squirted yes juice into my burning eyes. I tire to be brilliant but the diamonds turn to rodents in my kneecaps where slime shops for canned meat and mark down cancer drugs. WHY WON’T U SLAP MEE mmmooother asked as she sliced smelly lettuce for the eternal meal
and sister, my sister is dead yet sits on my right hand better than god or allah because she gives me pink gummy bears for my sexbug slit and doesn’t need them back to glue in her scrapbook where she once glued a live frog that begged her to traditional marry it and she told it no, it wasn’t fresh and that she wanted a turtle to lay eggs in her vast pulsing worldwomb. My sister puts her hair out to be sliced and my mother slices it slices and my sister marries the frog and glues herself in the scrapbook that’s how she died and yet how she lives because i can cut her shape from the pages and stick them to my eyes so she stares at me as i paddle over the rainbutt and into the dirk
but CarLISLE won’t say. Theres nothing there and I MADE HIM UP because father asked me to and we all obey we all obey
except the cat but the cat lives on some other plane thats not here at all poor cat.
77 oh 5 hump my leg like naughty poodles of elves left in the jupitor rain and all the numbers confuse me with yearning
so i dig up the cat and the cat doesnt scratch me because mooother
cut off its soul and used it for a suncatcher but the sun stays captured in my father who hangs strips of his love on the wall like narrow rewards won at turkey shoots.
run brother run
u hav no bro says car and i curl up and shud at it all but the Ganderv55 invasive me so i sigh thru the orgi and use vanilla soap and my cookie smell sells stocks so great men can shit with ease
Now, I received a rejection for, gulp, five poems. From a place that claims it’s a feminist haven for all things feminist. That might just be me adding zest to a dry story. M’kay. Normally, I react to rejections with tears, sobbing, why me o God screamings and a cross-country search for that perfect goat to sacrifice to Satan so I can cross that little threshold from unknown, obscure, nobody reads her shit writer to WRITER WHO DOESN’T GET THE FORM REJECTION LETTERS GOD FUCKING DAMN IT ALL TO HELL AND BACK ###$$$$$%^%^^^^^77&&*^%$&.
And then. I calm down about five minutes after that, ‘get over it’ and then cross that submission off in my book o’submissions. I keep a log of what I sent where because…I can’t recall why at this point, other than it seemed important to see all the rejections gathered in one place with the one or two YES THEY PICKED ME YES entries. I’m not a bookkeeper of any kind. I can screw up filling out forms faster than a jack rabbit on a date. Ha ha, shout out to Christmas Story.
“They” are doing a LIVE VERSION of this…with brand new actors. I. Wah. Why?? WHY HAS GOD DESERTED THE ENTIRE PLANET? Why would anyone think this was a good idea?? Just make a new Christmas movie! Hallmark does. Sure, their movies all seem like the same movie, but Hallmark is too smart to take on actual Christmas icons that should never ever be tampered with. That goes for that Jim Carrey travesty of the Grinch, too. WTF?? My eyeballs have never recovered. Hallmark, now…I’ll give them props for not milking the Christmas Story goat. [That was for you, Satan]
Yes, I am watching the Hallmark sugar-heavy fare. Shut up. You are, too. It’s like downing those Peep things. It’s the same thing. I don’t have to explain that, do I? You don’t even have to chew. Hallmark Christmas movies are like Peeps– no chewing involved. I should work in advertising. Go me!
Also–that super-feminist site found my stuff not feminist enough? What the…? I’m going to start writing characters that are…well, some vague threat about labeling my characters in the newest fashions and then actually writing about nice virgingals getting with shiny werewolves. Who brood. With nice hair. They brood and have nice hair. The girl/s fall down a lot and don’t think they’re pretty until the shiny werewolf fella…
Because that shit sells. Yeah. Because it’s a familiar tale and the reading public really seems to like familiar tales, no matter what bullshit they quiver out about wanting something ‘original’. Bwhaha ha ha!!! As if!!
Where was I before I jumped into a lake of utter self-loathing full of sarcastic catfish?
Novel. Ah. My novel is nearly finished for that November challenge thingie. I have about two more chapters, I reckon. I have NO IDEA WHAT THE ENDING IS and my inner lit professors tut at me and make those faces lit profs make. You know that face. That one.
It’s roughly forty thou words.
Which is good! I, of course, have let it ‘rest’ a couple days. I started a short story called the Antifa are Due on Maple Street, which is, yes, a shout sent toward the Twilight Zone zone. If you have no idea what I mean, then you probably need to stop being in a feminist mist all the time and watch a television show older than 2017. It’s a famous ep of a famous ole show– the Monsters are Due on Maple Street. It echoes very well the paranoia and fear of the ‘other’ that so infected American society so long ago. It’s just so quaint now!
Yes, I’m done being a sarcastic catfish. Now…catfish has some sort of meaning, too. I’m not that kind of catfish. I mean an actual catfish swimming around near the bottom of a murky river being snarky. Rather like Spongebob if written as a George Costanza or a Chandler Bing. [I’ll be there for yo–ooo—uuu….!]
I should delve into the political shitshow that has become ‘murica. I just start writing curse words. I see where people are ‘jokingly’ looking into building guillotines. You know, so the American peasants can chop off the aristocratic DC heads. We’re waiting for that whole checks and balances stuff to save us from Rapey McPussyhands and company. Yeah, except…those in power have to respect and actually follow those checks and balances for those to work effectively. So far, we’ve [also known as The Resistance] have a few marches and posted some memes. I think America, to get America back, is gonna have to take it to the next step.
We’re gonna have to get some dragons.
We’re also gonna have to overhaul poor ole Jesus. Maybe even invent a new, improved savior of America. Jesus is pretty malleable when it comes to makeovers, sure. But. I think we Americans can invent some sort of truly American Jesus that will unite us all when we have to band together to go after those dragons we foolishly brought in to rid us of some other stuff.
Jesus fighting dragons…that is so my next BIG WRITING PROJECT. Maybe in between the Hallmark fare and the hatewatching of the live Christmas Cash Cow AKA Christmas Story…I’ll begin an epic tale of Jesus versus dragons. Maybe a children’s story. A cute, non-threatening Jesus and cute, big-eyed, cuddly, non-threatening baby dragons that decide to not fight and have cookies instead in a show of fellowship, diversity, love and some other virtues that seem popular right now. Popular but not practiced.
I am up around thirty thousand plus words. Whee and squee and so forth. I also managed to get some rather important and insanely detailed paperwork almost done. Almost. I just need to go back over it and write stuff in that needs to be written in. How’s that for vague?? Is it good for you, too?
All right. Here’s actually why I deigned to write a blog post today.
I had a dream.
A rather unsettling little dream of a dream.
Where I attended, with my family, including, yes, my mother, a showcase of works. The middle section featured, yes, a short play by me. Now, in my dream, I watched the rehearsal. It went smashingly! The song–I don’t write music but I am, ha ha, a poet. So my brain married song and poetry just for the purposes of that dream last night…okay, back to WHAT HAPPENED–
The song, in the rehearsal portion of said dream, went swimmingly. Gorgeous! With, as I remember it…an all-female chorus or perhaps mostly females singing it. Directed by a woman, as was my short play. It was well done and I liked the efforts. Okay! Switch to the showcase evening actual debut.
We all, me and the fam, sit through the first offering and it’s okay. It’s a very casual setting, in my dream. We’re all on folding chairs in a big lobby, watching amateurs take on this, that, the other. Okay! You’ve gone to those…right? Okay!
My mother gets up and is wandering back and forth because she needs the bathroom. I tell her, no, this is my stuff coming up and she sits down again.
Moms, amirite? They’d sit through a three-hour retelling of something from My Little Pony as told by a four-year old while experiencing the onset of explosive diarrhea without a change of pleasant expression and ‘listening face’.
Oh dear. Because my dream…oh yes, still on the dream bit here…goes south in a hurry. I don’t know why going south would be considered, well, going south. Mm. Anyway!
Everything I saw in rehearsal has been changed. The song and short play are now being performed by high school boys who clearly have no wish to be performing. It’s painfully obvious they’d rather be elsewhere doing anything else. Also, the director of my song and play has changed. It’s now a very defensive man who keeps showing up to yell at all of us watching that we ‘don’t get it’ and then he stomped around, making the debacle we watched that much worse.
I tried to smile and pretend everything was fine, because actors and audience alike kept glancing at me for my reactions…
My family tried to say how much they liked it but the pity! Oh!
It was then I heard the tiny steady pitter of rain, and realized I was awake. And not stuck in some Eugene O’Neill-lite nightmare.
Why am I burdening my two or so readers with tales from my truly naughty night brain’s shift on the job? Mostly because I can. And something about sharing. Mostly some stuff about sorting through the piffle to find pearls of wisdom that will guide me in the darkness of a world gone mad.
As this is novel month and not OMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH AMERICA month…I’ll write a bit about the actual rough little novel that’s shaping itself as I type along.
I am now in the road trip portion of my story. In case you forgot the title: NAKED FARMERS OF THE APOCALYPSE
I might change this to Candelight’s Awakening. So that people think it’s a romance novel, buy it and then scream when they find out it’s just another tale of almost-teen adventures with…ummm. As long as they buy it and leave scathing reviews. You have to make lemonade out of the buffalo shit or something.
Road trip portion now reached, must stop veering off!
If nothing else, my dream taught me to stay on track. Or not invite family to my stuff. Maybe both?
I am having a good time tracing a slight actual journey from Vale over to Cottage Grove [that would be Oregon, in case no one got I write, a lot, about my home state…] during a spring storm. To bring granny and the stray baby home. It’s Candle and her dad. There’s some uncomfortable real life schtuff they both don’t want to face and…uh huh.
I also found myself including current political schisms and thrusts, because it’s right there.
To sum up– I had a somewhat unsettling little dream and I am chugging along in the write a novel November challenge.
Thank you, as always, for glancing at this and hey, buy some of my books. Give them away as [holiday here] presents! Use them to line bird cages. What do I care what you do with them after you buy them? On that note!
Gather round. Turn the lights off. It’s time for a story…
THE LITTLE VISITORS
Halloween comes around once a year, of course. When the trees turn into dying torches and the nights fill with hollow sighs. I waited in my small living room in my small rented house on Garwood Avenue, in a small neighborhood full of mostly working moms and divorced dads. The house next door has been divided into three small apartments and students rent those, from the nearby small college. Everything here seems small and dingy, from the houses to the college. Someone is trying to change that college into a university, as being called a university seems much more legitimate these funny times we live in, but that is years in the future. A knock sounded on my door. The knock of a child. I grasped my bowl of Dollar Store candy and stood, with my elderly television on mute. I had chosen to watch Cat People, for some reason, perhaps because it was on one of the old movie channels. Val Lewton and shadows.
Standing on my cement step, on my brown and yellow welcome mat, is a small girl dressed as a princess, in a frilly, too-pink dress, with ugly garish plastic and tin foil jewelry and a carrot-red wig that tilts on her head and a cheap-looking tiara that someone should banish to the outer realms. “Trickrtreat,” she whispers, perhaps no more than seven. I see her mother or older sister sitting in the car, clearly wishing this night over and done with. This tiny fake princess holds up a plastic bucket shaped like a pumpkin where candy already waits for her to gobble down in about an hour or so, if not sooner. Tiny miniature candy bars, Tootsie Rolls, lollipops. All store-bought, safe candy for these troubling modern times we live in! She had giant brown eyes someone had lined with black and someone had painted the small lips with bright cherry red.
“Don’t you look great,” I told the girl, who smiled slightly, more a grimace than a smile. She had not quite caught on that she should perform like a trained lab animal to earn her treats. Give some buck for the bang. I drop three eyeballs into her pumpkin, badly wrapped solid chocolate balls. I also gave her four or five hard candies and the princess in training looked at my offering, then at me, then whispered, “Can I have another eye?” I gave her one and she nodded with a solemn resignation that of course she deserved a bit more candy from the skinny little man who had such a messy house. She trotted off, then stopped, at something her mother or sister shouted at her. The princess turned and waved at me and I waved back. She got into the car and they drove to the end of the street. I was their last house here. Off the car went, into the October night. I saw another costumed child slowly walking toward my house, dressed as a cowboy. Right down to the small dingy cowboy hat perched to one side on his head.
I knew him. I had seen him before.
The small cowboy walked slowly, in real cowboy boots, carrying a small pail, a miniature bucket. The wind kicked up, swirling dead leaves from the elm further along, further along. “Tricks or treats,” the small cowboy said, holding out his bucket, meeting my eyes. His eyes never blinked or looked away from me. He wore a leather vest, real leather, and a red shirt tucked into jeans, with small chaps tied just so about his skinny little boy thighs. A smudge of dirt on his pale cheek. And his smell, like just gone over milk. That faint sour smell of corruption.
“Who are you supposed to be?” I asked and the boy never looked away from me with his steady blue-green eyes.
“I’m Little Joe,” the boy said. “He’s my favorite. Do you have any popcorn balls?”
“No, I’m sorry, I don’t. You mean Little Joe from Bonanza?’ I place some hard candies and two of the wrapped eyeballs in his pail. Mine seems to be the only candy he had managed to collect so far and it’s already seven thirty or so. Rather late to still be out.
“Bonanza. That’s it, mister. I really wanted a popcorn ball,” the boy peered down at the piddling Halloween offering, his hair cut brutally short, a near military-like cutting of that stark black hair. This was not a pretty child that would grow up to be a handsome man. Just an ordinary boy with freckles on his rather large nose. Not a sideshow freak kind of big nose, just a nose the kid would have to grow into. A nose with character, as my dad used to say. “Thank you.” And this boy had manners. Someone had taken some trouble to teach him some pleasing ways. I noticed, as I had every time he came to visit me, that the longer he stood there, the more I could see through him. He seemed to dissolve. As if the night slowly devoured him and I was not supposed to notice.
Little Joe wandered off, toward the main street and then he was just gone. My candy lay on the sidewalk and I fetched it, noting the hard candies and balls of wrapped chocolate had been frozen. They burned my skin a bit, being so cold. I stood and looked here and there, but the boy had gone back to wherever he came from.
Back to my house I walked. I waited for more knocks. Someone rapped on my door and my heart beat so hard, so hard. Up I got, and went to answer, finding a tall girl dressed like something out of a Robin Hood movie. She wore green tights, a long green jaunty shirt, and the cap with the feather. She had her hair swept up atop her head and blood trickled down the left side of her face, from a massive wound to her temple. “Hi! Trick or treat!” A big smile, her front teeth snapped off, and I could see the bones of her jaw from yet another wound that had opened the side of her face. She held out a paper sack, such as one might get from a grocery store. There was nothing in it. I dropped my offerings in and she gazed down at the five hard candies and two eyeballs with real dismay, then dredged up a smile, somehow, somehow smiling with her jaw bone exposed. “Gee, mister. You don’t have any apples or cookies?”
Apples or cookies. When no one gave those away these days. No one. “No. Sorry. I can give you some more candy.”
“Sure.” A big smile, her blood-filled eyes sparkling at me. I drop more candy in and she beams down politely, then thanks me and floats off into the night. I clearly hear that candy I gave her spatter on the pavement. Where she has gone, the candy cannot go. They want the good treats they had in their day. Where people baked homemade cookies and shaped popcorn into sticky balls and bought lots of apples to give away to the visiting little goblins each year. They had not lived through the stories of razor blades in apples or the poisoned cookies or that people poisoned their homemade treats…there were stories galore but no actual real proof that a swathe of the adult population were in fact out to kill all children at Halloween. Fear, however, runs the lives of Americans, not facts or logic.
A car cruises slowly about five houses down. The last stragglers of this year’s candy festival. I close my door, wondering how many more other little visitors I’ll get tonight. They don’t seem to visit anyone else. I am not great friends or that friendly with my neighbors; we generally genially ignore each other and nod at each other if we make eye contact. I keep to myself and I work. As the neighbors do. We keep our heads down and hope our cars keep running and we don’t get cancer. We vote once in a while and moan a lot. I occasionally head off to the Long Horn, a small dive bar where I can get a beer somewhat cheaply and get my ear talked off by the lonely old veteran who seems to think no one is any good anymore. There’s no goodness left in the world, none, he says to me over and over and over. I watch my muted television set as the woman who turns into a leopard struggles to fight her actual nature.
I wait for them to come to my door.
I heard the rustle of a costume and the whispers of a mother telling the child to knock, go ahead, like the others. I sigh, my air pushed out of me by my exhausted lungs. Surely they’re tired of sour air and contracting over and over and over. Bang bang bang.
A small boy dressed as a vampire, with a cape and fake teeth that keep slipping. “Twick treat,” the boy barked like a seal at me and I smiled, his mother just behind him wearing a black sweater infected with cheerful flat pumpkins. Her eyes held a tiredness all our eyes seem to hold now. The vampire held up a plastic green bucket three-fourths full of candy.
“Great costume, sir,” I said and the boy, with giant dark eyes, makes a face at this stranger trying to be funny. I’m not funny so my efforts in comedy should never be encouraged. “Here ya go!” I give him the remaining chocolate eyeballs and two hard candies. He grins.
“Look, mom! Eyes! Cool!” So the kids these days are still using phrases from the Fifties. Cool.
“I see that, dear,” the mom said with that perfect tired mom voice, that managed to be both nice and exhausted. She probably had to go home and get ready for a graveyard shift somewhere cleaning something or watching over old people or the disabled. “What do you say, Wyatt?”
A vampire named Wyatt? Oh no no. I bit at my lips to stop myself giving a truly foul giggle. Wyatt looked at me. He smelled like soap and cheap candy. “Thanks, mister!”
“You’re welcome, Wyatt.” I told him and his mother in her infected sweater. Had anyone told her pumpkins were catching? They both nodded at me and both turned to go to her elderly pickup. A big dent in the driver’s side. Off she drove, no doubt heading off for their home, probably a small apartment she could barely make rent on.
I went back in, shut my door. I only had hard candies left for any latecomers to the Halloween festivities. The wind made the leaves noisy. I sat in my easy chair with the sound very low, most of my lights turned off, waiting perhaps for zombies to try and get in. I had watched Night of the Living Dead near Halloween one year and had actually managed to give myself the willies. All of the lights turned off, a windy night. I heard zombies all night. Sometimes my imagination is not my friend. Perhaps that’s all this was. The strange yearly visitors. Just me perhaps having some sort of mental breakdown right on cue around the end of October. After all, ghosts were not real.
An hour, the movie ended with the lady who turned into a giant cat dead. Next came the sequel, which I’d never seen and had never heard of. Revenge of the Cat People. I waited.
A knock at my door.
I could hear a bit of rain now, on the windows that let out so much heat. Who was out so late on a rainy Halloween night? I had the notion to just let them knock and knock until they got tired and went away. My seven or so remaining hard candies huddled in the bottom of my white plastic bowl.
Twin clowns gazed up at me, through garish, too-bright greasy makeup. Both wore rainbow-hued wigs. The girl wore a big purple suit with a fake plastic pink flower on her breast. The boy wore a plaid hobo outfit. They wordlessly held up their little bags, paper sacks with Harbottle’s stamped on them. That store had gone out of business over thirty years ago. I had gone there with my own mother who had liked to finger their selection of fabrics whenever she got a notion to sew something. Both sacks held nothing but some traces of dirt. I smiled and dropped my remaining sad remnants into their bags. These two never spoke, a brother and sister who seemed stamped from the same twin factory. The boy’s face sometimes showed bone and torn away cheek, the girl’s sometimes showed her head caved in. Tonight they were just twin clowns. They solemnly looked down into their bags, with actual disappointment and then looked at me, with actual sorrow.
“A minute. I might have something else. Just a minute.” I got my bag of cheap Oreo knockoffs I’d gotten at the Dollar Store and when I came back to my open door, the two were still there. I had expected them to vanish. “You can share these.” I had not opened the package. I put them in the little girl clown’s bag. Both regarded my offering of cookies and then me, their eyes the same flat blue. Both nodded, waved at me and then turned to return to wherever they had come from. No car, or pickup, no waiting parent or elder brother or sister or aunt or grandparent. Just the slightly rainy night, the chill of the season trying to get ready for winter. I watched them walk off into the dark and wondered who watched over them and who had let them wander about, alone.
I wondered who had let dead children come trick or treating. I wondered that a lot.