Speed Writing 8/6/16

prompt: something or someone “out of control”

i’ve heard of biological clocks, but Maisie evidently had a timer to armageddon. we’d gone from fuck buddies, to a relationship, maybe thinking of marriage…
and the buzzer in her womb had gone off.
i’m not averse to the idea of kids, or a family – i just wasn’t planning on a schedule.
“i’ll be pregnant in a month, after that i want to have a kid a year.”
“you’re kidding!”
“okay, every year-and-a-half, until we get to five, then i want to start spacing them out a little…”
“do you want children or a goddamned sports team?”
“there’s no need to be so hostile!”
“Maisie, i want a wife, not a brood mare!”
“but what about what i want?”
i remembered my father, and his wisdom.
i smiled.
“whatever you want.”
i thought her plans would die with the first pregnancy. she glowed.
i was wrong.
Jennifer was a happy baby, and Maisie was ecstatic.
second pregnancy, a little less glow, a little more exhaustion.
Carl was a joy – a colicky joy, but a joy nonetheless.
surely her mania would subside.
ten kids so far, i’m married to a crazy woman… but the kids are good at soccer. we can start our own team.

a ‘found object’ exercise, where items were in the center of the table, to use as inspiration as we saw fit. i used a domino and a wine cork

Southern Baptist upbringing, cards were frowned upon.
we played dominoes.
so, even after the denomination and i parted ways, i kept my love of dominoes.
Ed had never played the game in his life, so when we got together, and past the ‘sex is all we do’ stage, i taught him to play.
“Sara,” he said, one evening at a party with our friends, “let’s play dominoes.”
everyone agreed, and away we went. after another bottle of wine, or two, that cow Maisie, who’s always had a thing for Ed, suggested ‘strip dominoes’.
not exactly something i ever considered, a bunch of couples playing strip anything.
but i was feeling no pain, and agreed – vowing to myself that if Maisie laid a hand on Ed, i’d bitchslap her all the way to the hospital, and not the maternity ward this time.
buncha marks at that table, lemme tell ya.
now, everyone’s naked, except me – trust me, not something i ever wanted to see – and i have a lot of clothes by my chair.
and Maisie’s staring at Ed.

prompt – ‘loss of innocence’

when you’re a kid, parental figures are on pedestals – well, if you’re lucky enough to have ones that aren’t complete shitheads – and there’s a purity, a sanctity to that. for better or worse, they’re the gods of your world, and it’s a blessed time, seeing only their shine, not the clay feet, the stumbling steps, their plain wrongheadedness.
i was raised by my maternal grandparents, and my mom, when she wasn’t working, and i remember the day my grandfather fell off his pedestal, as he told me, in all seriousness, that the only reason any black person ever amounted to anything was because they had white blood in them.
i knew better.
and i also knew this was an argument i couldn’t win. in our family, there was the Holy Trinity, and right below that, my grandfather.
it took over two decades for the echoes of that fall to fade to silence.
i learned to see him as just another person, trying to make it through life, and came to love him as a human rather than a god.
but that fall…
i view it as my first step toward maturity, toward rationality, and the death of automatic reverence.

prompt: “it was a dark and stormy night”

more rain. it’s falling faster than before, and we’re running out of sand bags. Tommy’s putting our files and records in the attic.
what good they’ll be, if the monsters get us, i’ll never know, but they’re his thing, so we don’t say anything.
gunfire from the south wall. the damn things scream whether they’re hit or not, makes nails on a chalkboard sound like Mozart. Pat punctured her ear drums with an ice pick rather than listen to them.
in the inescapable dampness, everything squelches, so i don’t notice when part of Calvin plops down in the mud.
pretty sure the south wall’s been breached.
fucking rain. i can’t see shit… well, except for Calvin chunks, no sign of what did it. i clean my glasses, talk about futility, and go back to peering through the downpour.
Maisie, that cow, lights up her flamethrower. must be nice to have a handy spouse. Tommy’s a clerk by nature, and i have yet to see how the apocalypse needs records kept.
have to wonder why we’re even bothering. more of them than there are of us, and that ratio keeps getting worse.
who knows, maybe Maisie will outbreed the end of the world.
i’m looking at the rest of Calvin.
how’d i get here, across the yard?
where are my arms?

prompt: ‘unexpected justice’

growing up as a juvenile-delinquent-in-training – i didn’t go pro until i was 16 – i hated Robert Blake’s short, cockatiel-loving ass.
‘if you do the crime, you do the time.’
stick that bird up your ass, Baretta!
i think my father’s love of that fucking show directly contributed to my criminal career. i had to get out of the house before i put my foot through our ancient RCA.
out on the streets… well, fuck. (that, of course, was the one thing we weren’t doing… yet.) our options were limited. too old to play? it was be bored, or get into trouble.
i never handled ‘boring’ well.
that was my apprenticeship – broken windows, graffiti, stolen hubcaps, shaking little kids down for money.
it was when my fuck-up of a father brought home the goddamn cockatiel that i went pro.
and shortly thereafter, i shit a way to live elsewhere.
i saw Dad a couple of times over the years, but no more than i had to.
i guess you could say he died of senile dementia.
thought the cockatiel was a chicken, tried to cook it. pissed the bird off something fierce. it took out his right eye, the old man fell, hit his head. two weeks before they found him.
the bird fucking starved.
i laughed my ass off.

listening to: “The Galapagos”, Christopher Gordon, “Master and Commander” soundtrack
mood: pretty good

Speed Writing 7/20/16

we had 11 people, which is a damn good turn-out, and a lot of folks wrote some really good stuff.
and there was the phrase “Fuck the Yoo-Hoo!” and the word “fucktrumpet”.
(as you can tell, we’re a high-brow, literary bunch…)

haiku, must use “fish”

flow the peaceful stream
fish swimming and frogs jumping
fuck this placid shit!

fish too small to eat
frogs too goddamn fast to catch
I’m fucking hungry

cattle in pasture…
peace is way over-rated
conflict brings us lunch

our last exercise had to involve a lie, and since I’d promised Cathy a fairy tale…

the King told the Witch he loved her, and would be with her until death did they part.
and being a witch, she was sure he would die long before she even grew old.
so she taught him such magic as he was capable of, and she was happy, gradually growing secure in their union.
she decided to give him the child he craved, and stopped taking the herbs that kept her from conceiving.
unknown to her, he used what magic she had taught him to summon a creature from the other side of the Veil, and put her into a deep sleep, so she did not see what lay with her.
the child she carried was a monster, and when it was birthed, it ripped her apart, for her magic protected her from others, not something from within herself.
so she died, and the King was happy… until the monster made him squeal like a pig, and split him apart.
King Monster ruled the land, and everywhere was peaceful, and quiet, because the dead make no noise.
listening to: Dorris job hunt
mood: mellow

This Saturday’s Speed Writing

today’s speed writing exercises definitely show i’m odder when i haven’t had enough sleep.

Nobody likes a smart-ass… my father’s favorite saying.
I give him the finger every time I race. Easy to do, we start by the cemetery.
Wait for the signal to turn green… five blocks away. Roar off the line, light’s guaranteed to be red when we get there.
Generally, that’s the first point possibility of the day.
Little, fiberglass, fuel-efficient, commuter cars getting t-boned by reinforced, steel-chassised V-8 death machines.
We call the results “accordion with strawberry jam”.
Scoring conventions… hard to remember when the adrenaline is pumping.
That’s why we have navigators.
“Bob, no rules, head for the park.”
No rules – minimal points, go for quantity.
“Florida rules! Nursing home, take the next left!”
Florida rules – old people worth double.
“Texas rules! Playground, right two lights down!”
Texas rules – triple points for kids.
I’m not saying I like killing… but I do like racing, I love the competition…
You know, fuck that.
I love the killing.


welcome to my home
candied children, fresh and hot,
don’t eat until cool

sandpaper couches
enjoy my electric chair,
nation’s finest thrill

first door on your right,
parallel razor toilet
potty overload


Of course we put the clowns away. Can’t have their kind roaming free.
Have you ever seen one of them actually entertain someone? If you have, you’re the first.
Ought to move the clown college right next to the asylum, shorten the trip.
And we put all the hunchbacks, dwarfs, and midgets under bridges.
Didn’t tell the kids… more fun that way.
But back to the asylum… not just clowns. We put the politicians there as well. Electro-convulsive therapy twelve times a day.
Last week one of them burst into flames, and his gold crowns flew out of his mouth like popcorn. A hell of a lot more fun than goddamn clowns.
We thought about putting the clergy in there, too, but relented. We just keep packing the preachy motherfuckers into Kansas. The wall is so high and thick, no one can hear them anymore.
Don’t be silly. We’ve set up cameras, and we’re waiting for them to start Holy-Communing each other.
Congress is now a petting zoo… helps the kids with their bridge-trauma.
Lawyers… great huge ranches in Oklahoma and Texas where they run free… with bombs planted in their asses.
Periodically, we randomly detonate one, and watch the stampede.
Speaking of which, pass the popcorn.


First thing… the alligators weren’t my idea. You can thank Ed for that.
I had no idea how to get rid of the body. I thought dumpster… then thought about cutting him up, and leaving chunks of him in all the office trash cans. They don’t run the AC in the office over the weekend, would have gotten real fragrant.
But Ed just sat on the back of his truck, bouncing his kid’s basketball, and shaking his head.
Waste of goddamn money, buying Jr any sporting equipment. Kid’s a natural-born victim, and pretending otherwise is living a dream.
But anyway, good ol-what’s-his-name… I pleaded with him. I need this job.
New owners of the company, must make cuts, my position’s been outsourced.
So I called Ed. He and me, we’re gonna drive ol’… lemme find his name tag… Stewart. We’re gonna drive Stewart out to the alligator farm, and they’ll take care of the body, no muss no fuss.
Then Ed wants to go get Jr a skateboard.
Waste of goddamn money, if you ask me.


There are mothers who react to everything their kids do with a tranquil and implacable calm… I think of it as “the vegetative vibe”.
There are mothers who seem little more than cheerleaders for their children’s every endeavor. I call those the “rah-rah ma’s”.
There are mothers who push their children into potentially lucrative activities. I call them “profit pimps”.
Then there’s my Mom. The explosively inappropriate. Every day is doomsday.
“You call that a haircut! What, did she charge me $40 to cut three hairs? I’m going in there and getting my money back!”
“Did you read that editorial your friend Ricki’s daddy wrote to the paper? Man’s little better than a communist! You don’t hang out with Ricki ever again!”
“I saw that paper you had to write for your so-called ‘science’ class! Galaxies! There’s something you’ll never need to know in real life! You’re taking shop next year!”
I don’t count the years or months until I turn 18 and can leave… I count the goddamn hours.
26,283 hours to go.

listening to: “The Sixties: The Vietnam War”
mood: tired

Please, No New RPG Systems!

i might get some flack for saying this… not sayin’ anything, just sayin’…
i’ve been working my way through my file of RPG pdfs, prolly about two hours now, and i got to say…
i know, lots of very smart gamers want to put their own individual stamp on gaming, have their own systems, and are proud of them.
but folks, the market is SO goddamn saturated with systems from everybody and their grandmother (why do i want to publish my own gaming system under the imprint “Everybody And Their Grandmother”? insane, i must be), so any new system, no matter how well thought out, is trying to break into a market where everyone pretty much knows the system they like, and things in that system they don’t like, they’ve adopted house rules to make it taste right.
unless you are ready to keep supporting your idea with a steady stream of supplements and adventures, don’t publish. you’re aiming for heart-ache. and yeah, if you can pull off a successful crowd funding campaign, you might have enough people interested to keep the game profitable, but from what i’ve seen, don’t bet your own money on it. also, don’t beg/demand/guilt trip your friends and acquaintances to help you finance your dream. if they don’t support it willingly, remember – it’s YOUR dream, not theirs.
a better idea is to adapt your ideas to an existent system, and see if the owners of said system want to publish it, or to get a license from the owners and self-publish, or if the system is open source, publish that way. 
in my files, i’ve got so many little (and not so little) RPGs that released their core book, and promptly disappeared. the rules for these are, for the most part, variations on a theme, no real originality, at best an interesting setting.
and if an interesting setting is all you have, better you adapt it to an established system. then you can tap all the people who use that system, instead of trying to interest people in learning your whole new shiny system so they can play in your setting.
really, if you are not undeniably bringing something new and exciting, keep your rules as a house system, have fun playing it, and don’t set yourself up for the heartbreak of breaking into a flooded market.
listening to: “Eye in the Sky” – Alan Parsons Project
mood: pretty good

How To Handle My Hate

so today, i’m reeling from the news from Orlando.
the worst mass shooting in American history. what a rotten, fucking way to make the record books.
and i think of the comments of politicos, one of them the nominee of a major party, their hate-filled screeds spewed out indiscriminately, and i think of the religious zealots of all faiths who make it their mission to kill in the name of their small, petty, and heretical conception of their god.
i think of the shooter, who has already gone on to whatever, if anything, waits him beyond this life. if there is an afterlife, i believe his will be torture. either there is a place of torment (which i’m not sure i believe in at any time), or he has now been faced with the reality of the Creative, and will punish himself for his betrayal of what he should have been, what he could have been.
my mind goes skipping through a wealth of fantasies, presuming not only to judge those i feel are guilty, but to punish them as well, and yeah, it feels good, but i also know what we feed, grows.
i don’t want my hate and anger to grow.

so… alternatives.
what we feed, grows.
i’m choosing to feed my compassion. to focus my mind and heart on the survivors, forcing down the urge to focus on why they’re in such pain. to send my prayers and energy toward them. if we had it, i’d be sending money as well.
i’m choosing to focus on the question of education. how to promulgate the idea that this sort of violence, and the emotions and beliefs behind it, are wrong, evil, and should never be seen as the will of God.
i’m choosing to put my energy into the positive, because the alternative helps no one, and actively harms me.
i’m not saying i won’t have to have this argument with myself again – i will, probably several times a day.
but i’ve decided, for myself, that i cannot let hatred eat me. not now. not ever.
not ever again.


listening to: “On the Road Again” – Canned Heat
mood: struggling

It’s “Lightships & Sabers” Release Day

I have a story in it I’m quite proud of. I’m currently working on a prequel to my story in the anthology that I will put up for free on Amazon.


Available at Smashwords, use code PU87T for a 25% discount, valid through May 15th:

Available at Amazon, in both .mobi and POD:

Listening to: the film “Skyfall” from the living room
Mood: Happy

Bad Blogger – Here’s Three Speed-Writing Meeting’s Worth of Stuff

“first thing we’re a-gonna do is dig a hole. no one ‘spects a hole out in the middle o’ nowhere, so your trap’s purty well set.”
“but it’s in the middle o’ nowhere. what are you tryin’ to trap?”
“don’t matter, sooner or later somthin’ll come along.”
“what if’n it’s bigger’n the hole?”
“then it won’t get trapped, now will it?”
“but it might a break a leg or somethin’, an’ you’ll come back to a big ol’ pissed off somethin’.”
“always a danger. tell ya what, you dig a bigger hole then.”
“well, teach me to open my mouth…”
“prolly won’t, but you can dream.”
hours later…
“hole big enough?”
“What do you think?”
“well, i ain’t heard o’ no animals too big for a hole this size ‘cept dinosaurs, an’ they ain’t around no more.”
“fair enough.”
the next day…
“now, be quiet where we’re comin’ up on it. don’t want to spook whatever we mighta caught.”
“i done looked. there ain’t nothin’ in there. trap ain’t been sprung.”
next day…
“still nothin’.”
next day…
“we caught a big ol’ 4×4, some guy out mud-dawgin’, an’ he’s plenty pissed!”
“he got a gun?”
“out here? whaddaya think?”
“i think it’s past time we was runnin’!”


once upon a time there was a rock that nobody paid much attention to, and on the whole, the small rock, “Bob”, was happy with that. he enjoyed his time in the sun, he enjoyed his time in the shade, in the dark… okay, the rain wasn’t so great, and the winters were a fright because he worried some smaller crack in his body might fill with water that would freeze and fracture him, but after a couple of decades he got pretty confident he was fissure-free and likely to stay that way.
Bob was too small to sit on, and too large for casual throwing, so he remained undisturbed by the humans. all he had to worry about was the occasional dog marking territory on him, and that was never pleasant, but sooner or later rain would wash him down, and besides, really, rocks don’t have noses, so it wasn’t like Bob could smell the urine.
rocks don’t have ears either, or eyes, so the only way Bob knew about anything was when it interacted with his skin.
yeah, Bob was content, until a pair of soft, feminine hands lifted him in the air, brought him down on her lying cheat of a husband’s head real hard.
then she took Bob with her as she went to Milwaukee and started a new life as a yoga instructor.
and they lived happily ever after.


i never knew my uncle Cal – he wasn’t welcome at our family gatherings, and my mother refused to discuss her twin. my father just muttered “fucker” under his breath when he thought i couldn’t hear.
so inheriting Cal’s house when i was 24 was a hell of a surprise. i was intrigued – a house and all the contents, only a half hour’s drive away.
okay, yeah, property taxes loomed on the horizon, but if things didn’t work out, i could always sell the place.
first off – that idea died when i saw the house. it would take a small fortune to make it worth demolishing. as it was, i figured about a week, maybe two, and a bird would land on it wrong and the whole damn thing would collapse.
inside, more of the same, and worse. i’d never seen so many dirty Hungry-Man TV dinner trays, and the boxes they’d come in, in my life, and beer cans… cheap beer at that.
i was planning on spending the night in the house – before i saw it – and would have reconsidered except for the storm front moving in.
candles. a leaky roof. more trash than the law allows. me…
and a map, in a frame, slid behind the sagging, moldy couch.
i’m pretty sure this big ‘X’ on it means something… it’d sure be nice if there were names or notes on the map, letting me know where it depicted.
fuck you, uncle Cal, i’m figuring this one out.


i wasn’t going to watch him die. that simple. i’d gotten the intern’s position and been ecstatic – a chance to work for one of the greatest investigative reporters of all time, brilliantly poking his nose into whatever interested him, and then telling the true story, the complete story. perhaps not always objectively, but a damn sight more objectively than any corporate news organization.
the university had thought him quite the catch. their journalism department would have its own genius-in-residence.
somehow, they’d missed his addiction issues. his complete lack of motivation if nothing particularly interested him at the time.
how very fucking seldom anything interested him anymore.
he was turning into a Hunter S. Thompson caricature, and he wasn’t good at it.
sex, drugs, and madness might’ve worked for Hunter, but they treated Claude Monroe like the littlest baboon.
he was lying in a puddle of his own puke when i last saw him, my hero, in the flesh.


blonde, blue-eyed, bubbly
fuckable phys ed major
drunken frat boy bait

i spear bait on hook
drop it into wading pool
goldfish ignore me


i could see it all.
her, as lovely as ever, seated on the front porch swing, her parents carefully not watching through the parlor window, a pleasant spring evening. Julie wondering if it’s really going to happen, am i going to pop the question, me on one knee before her, her hand in mine, the music swells…
we’re not talking romantic orchestral arrangement here… it’s Nine Inch Nails, “Fuck You Like An Animal.”
i’ll hand her the .45, she’s a much better shot than i am, i’ll pick up the chainsaw, and then her parent’s little slice of suburban paradise will descend into hell.
mom and dad go first. she’ll do that, quick and merciful. her annoying fuck of a little brother? that sumbitch is mine. i’m making chopped brat out of him – not the chainsaw, i’ll use my cleaver – his balls go first, plus whatever else gets in the way.
next, the neighbors with the asshole son, the football star who’s been pushing almost hard enough to call it rape, every time he can trap her alone… with him it’s the chainsaw, perfect cure for sexual harassment.
then down the street we’ll go, merrily making mayhem.


music, sea chanteys, all with their own rhythm, the cadence of different shipboard tasks. wind, flapping sails, whipping ropes, on a good day blowing away the smells of too many men in too small a space for too long a time…
the cries of captives. being held for ransom is better than dying, but sometimes not by much. the continual low grumble of the crew, always disgruntled about something.
and i’m happy it’s never been severe enough to put my position as captain in the hazard.
storms, Caribbean hurricanes, ridden out in safe harbor if lucky, ridden out at sea if God has cursed us… again…
shipping lanes, moving from one to another with the seasons, preying on any ship i think we can take, and luckily i haven’t been wrong yet.
boredom and scurvy and sunburn and near-starvation – all better than the Royal Navy’s “rum, sodomy, and the lash”… we cut out the lash, up the rum portion when possible. the sodomy’s about the same.
a floating hell.
all forgotten in the chase, a fat merchant praying for speed, no escape for him, and a rich haul for us.


i wasn’t allowed to go to the circus until i was ten. better said, i wasn’t allowed to go to the circus again until i was ten. somehow, when i was four, i escaped the notice of my mother and my cousins and wandered off… out into the center ring, following the clowns. so six years of no circus for me.
but when i was ten, Caligari’s Cavalcade of Chaos rolled into town and after enough piteous pleading to deafen my mother, i was allowed to go.
the sideshow captured my attention so thoroughly i never made it to the circus itself.
Venda, the woman with tarot cards tattooed all over her body… she spun on a platform and for a quarter, i got to toss a dart at her. it hit her in one of the few covered areas of her body, but she assured me it hit the Wheel of Fortune, and had stuck in the top part of the card, so it wasn’t reversed, and therefore unlucky.
Abrus, the strongest woman alive, who lifted me and five other kids by the chains connected to the big bronze platter we stood on. i watched closely, she wasn’t sweating at all. then she started spinning in place as we all clutched the chains and screamed.

(two notes – number one, me wandering off into the ring at a circus as a child actually happened, but didn’t result in any circus ban. number two, i really want to write more about Caligari’s Cavalcade of Chaos…)


Lt. Harmon was a ninety-day-wonder. no West Point for him, he’d done four years of ROTC at Texas A&M, and after three months of training they’d pinned 2nd Lt.’s bars on him and sent him to Vietnam, there to be inflicted upon our unit. Sgt. Mick, so totally tired of Irish jokes as to bring the pain if one was even hinted at, pronounced sentence on Harmon after thirty minutes.
“fuck him.”
and as Sgt. Mick was as close to God-on-High as we could know, Lt. Harmon became an annoyance, far too scared of the Sgt. to discipline any of us for our complete disregard for the Lt. or anything he said.
it would have stayed that way, until one night on patrol, when we encountered an enemy patrol, possibly NVA, probably VC, but in the dark, who the fuck could tell.
we’re all hunkered down, staying real quiet, hoping not to be noticed, when Harmon started shouting orders. three of our squad got scragged in the ensuing firefight.
when the enemy faded off into the jungle, Mick had had enough. he pulled the ring, let fly the handle, and shoved the live grenade down Harmon’s fatigues.
and ran.
enemy action, fourth casualty of our encounter, that’s what we all swore.


(prompt: haiku, using “silence”)

plastic bag huffing
in and out, faster, noisy
finally… silence

today, woke up deaf
watched the world gesticulate
world of mimes… silence

silence of snowfall
piles of white appearing… magic.
sun brings slushing falls


(prompt: lots of words starting with “M”)

i manhandled Marvin into the limo. could’ve approached him some other way, but he was a suspicious motherfucker. a limo, chauffeur… a mayor expects that kind of thing.
shrimp cocktails on ice in the back, i listened to him masticate them, shells and all, swilling the cheap champagne… doctored with a little something to make him more malleable.
murder and mayhem are easy… too easy. madness – that takes extra work.
aphrodisiacs, a dead end. to get the desired reaction, brain surgery, direct stimulation of 500 monkey’s pleasure centers.
not to orgasm, that would be too far, merely to the edge, where they’d have finish themselves off.
and then the room, a deep, narrow pit, surrounded by very steep bleachers. 500 monkeys worth of bleachers.
a sedated mayor, lowered into the pit, monkeys arranged carefully, wires connected…
wakey, wakey, mr. mayor!
madness… helpless, in a pit, showered with the jism of 500 masturbating monkeys.
insanity by bukkake.
imagine, not just the foulness of splattering monkey cum, but the monkeys don’t stop. they can’t. they keep masturbating until they die.
and then, dead monkeys falling into the pit with you.
500 of them.

they’ll never let him out of the asylum.
monkey masturbation madness – no cure for that shit.


(explanation: all through the Wednesday night meeting, we suffered through the loud and incredibly boring conversation of a table full of people who all worked together. made it very hard to concentrate on writing.)

we worked the plan out, carefully, on paper, because the din of their idiocy was driving us to distraction.
an industrial mixer – certainly a restaurant has an industrial mixer. a quick sneak back into the kitchen… mixer, check.
swirlies, the dreaded torture of high school bullies, taken to a macabre and murderous extreme.
one by one, head first, into the mixer, sweet screaming snuffed out in the grinding, churning nightmare mix of machine and man… and woman…
puree of mundane, boring fucks, new dish for the buffet.


listening to: “Electric Avenue” – Eddy Grant
mood: okay… damn happy i’m through trying to read my handwriting to get all these typed.














The Party

I dreamt you went to a party,
full of the most fascinating folks,
in a house with four floors and six fireplaces,
each floor at an angle strange to the rest,
each fireplace with flames of foreign woods,
a different color coming from each.
So many costumes, from simple to ornate,
in patterns and colors to make the nebulae blush,
and people young and old,
who were all the friends you’d never met,
singing and talking and dancing and thinking
the most interesting thoughts.
There were near misses with precious objects d’art,
and rowdy tomfoolery as the walls were climbed,
(the paintings dodged)
and the brooms and brushes
clucked the hours away
getting every last footprint.
And after a time you sat alone in the round kitchen,
in the center of this most extraordinary house,
amid the remnants of the feast,
and untouched treats to come,
while you soaked in the vibrations,
thrumming through the house
like the strings of His guitar.
You were content and warm,
and people came and went past you,
leaving you unseen in your bubble,
until at last a most extraordinary girl
stopped and asked you,
with naughty daring in her one eye,
the other a great green jewel,
if you thought it was time to play a new game,
where the story began, and went from person
to person to person, with each adding a new line,
needing approval from all present to be accepted,
or face the most terrible tickling.
And you knew it was time to leave your bubble,
and join with the party again,
and so you did – and the story was full of all the best
from the imaginations of all these friends
you’d never met,
and it spread throughout the house
into every nook and cranny,
and out onto the porch where the Oak Street Boys,
a little the whimsical for drink,
were taking turns running out into the rain
to ask rainbows to dance…

and I awoke,
and I hated you
for getting your invitation,
while mine was lost in the mail.


listening to: silence where there should be a party
mood: melancholy


“Identification Issues”

Two kinds of people on the street – predators and prey. The stupid ones out there will deny it, but they’re living in a fantasy land. You either eat or be eaten, simple as that.
Me? I like eating, and let me tell you, the buffet most nights is amazing.
Purses, wallets, cars, guns, knives, and sweet young things who’ll never agree to endure a police rape investigation.
When the world’s your oyster, you come to expect pearls.
Only, you have to be realistic about things. No ride lasts forever. Sooner or later, you’re going to be caught, and the criminal justice system will slowly send you off for a tour of some penal facility. You stay smart, you do your time, you get back out on the street. I’ve done three terms already, and I’m not even thirty… of  course, one of them was juvie and that doesn’t really count. When you’re a kid, sure, juvie’s tough, but once you serve a stretch in real prison, things get put in perspective.
And every single time I’ve come back from a DOJ vacation, I’ve been better educated than when I went in. Not only street smarts – plenty of teachers inside – but book smart too. They want to provide me with the tools for an education, and lock me in with not a lot of nothing to do? I’ll learn.
So yeah, when you’re getting robbed, or beaten, or raped, by Calvin Omhearst, you’re getting it from an educated man.
Sure as shit smarter than you, prey.

I see her; tall girl, not heavy but a little curvy, and she’s broadcasting “Don’t Hurt Me” on all channels. I doubt this girl strides confidently to the bathroom in the comfort of her own home, much less out here where everything and everyone is a threat waiting to happen. I haven’t seen her around before, but that doesn’t mean anything. People come and go all the time. And this girl, wearing a big old neon “V” on her forehead, she’s just begging for it. I’m surprised no one’s taken her before she got to me.
Brunette… I like brunettes. So let’s see her face, see if I’m just robbing her, or making an evening of it.
Cute, not pretty. Little nose, clean skin, grey eyes… her mouth isn’t much to look at, all scrunched up in her “victim face”.
An evening, then. Good thing, because from the look of her clothes, I’m not going to get much cash and valuable prizes from her.
I make my approach, she pulls away, clutches her wallet and phone in one hand, the other’s up and trying to hold me back through sheer force of “pitiful”. I smile, pursue her into the alley, and there’s a sharp poke…
a needle…
at the…

“You talk a lot in your sleep, Mr. Omhearst.”
Female voice, don’t recognize it. Still having problems opening my eyes.
“Of course, I helped with that. The right mix of drugs, most people will tell you whatever you want to know.”
One eye opens a slit. Cinder-block walls, painted off-white.
“You’re quite a piece of work, Mr. Omhearst.”
She comes around and into my limited field of view.
“You’re an organism, perfectly adapted to its environment… don’t feel special. The streets are full of your type, although most don’t share your love of learning.”
She’s holding something in her hand.
“Come on, Mr. Omhearst, open up both eyes. I have something to show you.”
I get my other eye half open, and move my right arm… try to move my right arm… straps… shit.
“This, Mr. Omhearst… you know, that’s very formal. How about I call you Calvin, since we’re going to be spending several days together. See, this is your scrotum and penis… cleaned up a bit after severing them.”
I try to scream, but my throat’s not working right, and there’s a gag in my mouth, hard plastic.
“Soon, the drugs will be wearing off, and you’re going to feel some pain in your groin. All right, you’re going to feel a lot of pain in your groin. But that’s nothing… nothing compared to what you’ll feel later.”
I’m trying to talk, to beg, to say anything…
“Oh no, Calvin. I’ve found out everything from you I need to know.” She’s smiling, like some psycho Madonna, blessing the little victims. “The time for talking is long over.”
There’s a shrill electric whine.
“Now… now is the time for doing.”


created from the Story Forge cards : the monster, the criminal, desire, adversity, fortune


listening to: the quiet of the house, the snoring of dogs
mood: pretty good, aside from Cedar Fever bullshit





so, let’s touch base on a lot of stuff before i post the latest speed writing stuff…

the new “single POV” chapter idea for “Behind the Wall of Thorns” really wasn’t working for me. i still believe the old “everybody-and-their-grandmother” chapters got too big and too unmanageable, and i needed to change the way i write the story, but going to the extreme in the opposite direction was just too limiting. so, i’m still doing single POV chunks, but there are going to be several to a chapter and i’m going to widen my focus slightly, moving from just primary characters to primary and secondary characters, as well as those characters $25 contributors to my Patreon have created.

there will be more stories with Sharla Duquesne and the crew of the Baby Boo/Baby Boo Too. I’m working on the ‘bible’ for the series/universe, albeit slowly. so yeah, “Neck Deep in the Mire-Razors” is giving birth. look for it in the upcoming “Lightships and Sabers”, coming out from Wolfsinger Press at the end of March.

the publisher of Sky Warrior Books inquired about “Falling Angels”, the noir detective novel we talked about many conventions ago… so that’s back on the burners. see what i can do there.

Rie wants a story for Mocha Memoirs “Ghosts, Gears and Grimoires” anthology, steampunk monsters, and i have two possible ideas, but the anthology pays a flat $10 fee (and before anyone says “exposure”, it’s doubtful this anthology will get seen much in the flood of small press anthologies, and “another entry on your resume” doesn’t mean much, it seems to me, if the resume is a wealth of small press, easily forgotten, anthologies). one of the story ideas is too big, and too potentially interesting, to come in under their word count restrictions (and while they might, if i wrote it well enough, relax the word count, it’s still just $10 and afterward, any place else i might submit it would have to take reprints), and the other idea is so vague and nebulous it’s going to require a lot of seasoning and time on the stove before it’s ready. still, i may be able to come up with a little ten buck something for ’em… except it rankles me to treat an idea as less than it could be. the last steampunk anthology of theirs i had something in… well, it wasn’t shit, but it was fluff. entertaining fluff, i hope, but fluff i feel lived up to the base idea… barely.

not believing in New Year’s Resolutions, because life has enough failure in it without setting yourself up for more, i do have two… well, let’s call ’em “goals”, for this year.
1. put out one blog post a week, a post that will in all likelihood be mirrored on my Patreon page.
2. finish “Oil of Roses, Book Two, Behind the Wall of Thorns”.
in theory, from where i’m sitting now, neither should be all that hard to achieve, if i put my mind to it.

and i still owe someone a dieselpunk piece… cotton-candy-cheesecake-silliness. of course, my submission won’t fit that style, because… it just wont.


prompts: far future, prison in the tropics
i wanted to kill Carlos. you never fuck with a man’s small luxuries in a hell hole. often, that stimstic, that flask, that pill pack, that small data pad – they’re the only things keeping him from attacking a guard, or making a run for it.
both result in death, the second method is just slower.
you see, the tropic belt on Vega IV is wide; thick jungle, abundant streams and rivers, no outposts of civilization other than the prison, and full up to your gills with predatory species.
and thanks to Carlos, i was eyeing the robotic guards, and looking out beyond the free-fire zone at the jungle.
it doesn’t matter what he took – what brings me comfort is my own business, not yours. but it was gone, and there wouldn’t be any replacing it for a long time, if ever. wonderful thing about robotic guards – they can’t be bribed, which punches a big  hole in the typical prison economy.
so… death, death, or murder? murder means a month in the hole…
yeah, Carlos is going to get it in the exercise yard, first chance i get.
who knows, maybe he still has it on him.

prompts: infamy, poverty, disguise
i miss you.
first off, i didn’t mean to hurt anyone. i know that doesn’t make much difference when my fuck-up on the job killed thousands, but i really didn’t. i just went to the john at an inappropriate time.
small flaw in the security system protocols. can’t have a restroom attached to the monitoring station. if anything goes wrong, the doors to the monitoring station lock down ’til the situation returns to normal. compound these issues with corporate greed – there’s no need to have two engineers on duty at all times. one is enough.
so you tell me. shit myself? keep a honey bucket in the station? or go to the restroom like i had a hundred times before when nothing happened?
funny think about chaos theory – it’s real, it’s the way the universe works.
so, this time, while i was taking a shit, the perfect storm of system failures got together and had a party in my absence.
the dam didn’t break so much as it disintegrated.
i didn’t stick around. i know how the company handles such PR disasters, and i don’t fancy being a sacrificial lamb. changed my name, cut and dyed my hair, and i’m begging by the side of the freeway.
you passed me today and didn’t see me.
i waved.

prompt: begin with “There was only one way out…”
there was only one way out –  not an escape so much as a gauntlet.
no school, successfully completed, and she wouldn’t be a citizen. she would have no status, no role in everyday society, and no legal protections or rights whatsoever. she could be killed, or worse, by anyone, for any reason, or no reason at all. she could be locked up, enslaved, tortured, and no one would care.
so, not passing Home Ec was not an option.
Angela agreed with the idea in theory – a curriculum that ensured graduates were competent to live on their own, and function as a positive and productive member of society.
but who the fuck sewed their own clothes anymore?
she could hand stitch just fine, but it seemed to her the sewing machine had been designed to make sewing far more complicated than it had to be.
“it’s so easy once you master the basics!”
yeah, Mrs. Lewis, great, but the basics were kicking her ass!
after she’d drawn a blank on the Simple Mechanics final last term, and failed Conversational Hispanic, she couldn’t afford to fail anything else, and the goddamned sewing machine bullshit was half her grade.

prompt: “hover”, “finicky”, “whistle”, “use”, “boot”
my mother, she hovers. that’s what she does. drives my father and me crazy, always with the hovering.
“do you need anything?”
“you should eat, you’re wasting away!”
“let me feel your forehead.”
“that Silverstein boy, so handsome, and in med school…”
and when my father or i eventually erupted in anger, as we were bound to do, that’s when the guilt machine went into overdrive!
“i’m sorry i’m concerned about you, God forbid i should care about you. i’m treated like the dog, just whistle when you want something. thank God i was gifted with such a husband, such a daughter, a nobody like me, do as you think best, what do i know, the woman who bore your child, the woman who carried you in her womb for nine months…”
it was a cycle, not helped at all by my father. he’s a perfectionist, as well as a finicky eater. God, the noise he made over a meal that wasn’t exactly as he liked, or how the heavens fell if i tracked in one drop of mud on my boots.
as God is my witness, it’s a miracle i haven’t killed them both…
in their sleep…
with an ax…
like the one in the shed…
so, what’s a little prison time?

prompt: write about your first artistic expression
age: barely six months.
there are masterpieces of art that are lost to time, ones that are not recognized, ignored by the plebeian sensibilities of cultural Philistines…
“landscape in feces”, bedroom wall, 502 Short St. is a triumph of artistic brilliance that suffered both of those fates.
my grandfather took a picture of it… a Polaroid, long since faded into a mass of yellowish white.
my mother? the cultural Philistine in this sad tale.
so how do i remember it, having created this perfect expression of my ‘brown period’ at such an early age?
the Polaroid, brought out at every family reunion, every exposure hastening its obliteration, along with pictures of me drinking from the shower, of me running naked through the back yard – i was two, of me eating pillbugs by the handfuls.
in retrospect, and in light of some drunken experimentation later in life, i can assure you shit is not an ideal artistic medium. to adult sensibilities, it’s gross to work with, it stinks, it dries too fast, and while a larger work involving shading is possible, the dietary requirements  to produce the colors necessary can become troublesome.
still… my first.

listening to: “Eight Piece Box”, Southern Culture on the Skids
mood: productive