SPONTANEOUS FRIDAY

Lost

For most of my life I have sucked when it comes to following directions. Even during my time in a small town I still had a hard time.

Allow me to give you an example:

You’re having a party? Great! You’re giving me directions? I can do that.

Actually that was a lie. I can’t do that. Imagine telling me to turn left on Harlow and to take a right at the first stop sign. From there you tell me to drive straight until I see a brown house on the corner of Barney Street. I guarantee you I will find myself lost on the highest of mountain tops.

Lost 1

Trust me. It happened. Long story. We’re not going there.

I recognized my following direction issue early in life and realized quickly for survival purposes that the only way to deal with this nightmare was land marks.

Forget the street names and stop signs. Tell me to hang a right at Billy’s blue house with the rusted Chevy parked out front and quickly turn left at Sammy’s barn.

That I can do.

For the longest time I was use to all this. It was something I was bad at. Let’s face it, we can’t be good at everything. Imagine how boring that would be. Even super heroes fail at something.

But on the day I found myself lost in an IKEA kitchen display I begin to wonder. Do I have something that could actually be found in a medical dictionary?

I’m a person of repetition. After a hundred times on the same road I kind of have it down. Give me a week around the neighborhood and I start to get a good feel. But why can’t I be like most people?

One time. One shot. Perfection.

Enter: Dromosagnosia

Of all the things I looked up this comes pretty close. Turn left when right is the obvious choice. A panic. A new place. How did I get here? No sense of east or west of anything else.

Call 911!!!

Maybe, just maybe this is why I get a little messed up.

I’m not sure what exactly to do with this new bit of info. On the other hand it’s nice to know I may have some company. There might be an entire town full of people just like me. All of us wondering how to get from point A to point B no matter how many times we’ve been there.

So if I every pay a visit to any of you keep in mind I have no problem renting a car once I reach your town. I have no problem driving to your home or favorite place to say hi. Just don’t expect to see for a while or ever again.

Oh, and one more thing: When it comes to a GPS. I’m pretty sure it has me figured out. It also has one sick sense of humor.

Lost 2

Happy Friday Everyone!!!!

How I accidentally wrote a horror novel

Haunted 1

A daydream carried a bit too far

A long time ago I was introduced to Stephen King. It was a giant book full of short stories. Soon after reading his amazing work I graduated to his novels.

Before I knew it I was reading other horror novels. Some were good and some were okay but one thing was certain:

I too would be a horror novelist.

Not having a full understanding that the genre picks me I decided that it would be I who chose the genre. It was a rookie mistake on my part but since I was young and a bit ill-informed you’ll have to forgive me.

So on that day after reading multiple horror short stories and novels a horror writer was born.

Well….not really.

 

You’ll have to forgive me

Scary Books

Clearly I couldn’t write like King or Koontz or any of the other writers I read but most of all I could not write a scary novel to save my life.

But unintentionally….well, that’s another story.

I can’t remember when I wrote it but I do remember when I shared it. It was sometime last year. My turn had come up in my writer’s group to submit. I remember working on a long piece but it just wasn’t ready to be seen.

Luckily, deep in the forgotten file a little story written years ago was found. I wasn’t sure what to make of it but I shared it anyway. When I finished I was informed by my group it was on the scariest stories they ever read.

 

Just a little surprised

At first I felt guilty. I’m not the type to scare anyone but the guilt quickly wore off and replaced by a sense of accomplishment.

Yes, I scared someone! How cool is that! King, Koontz, are you listening!!??

Some members suggested I submit it. The story ran about 4000 words. There would be contests that would accept it, they exclaimed.

But something held me back.

For the longest time my guess was guilt. I write comedy/romance. I make people laugh and feel good and all that stuff. I want them to forget about the craziness of life. At least for a little while. But scaring them?

Why would I do such a thing?

 

They want more

So I thought a little deeper. I studied the characters, looked at the setting and realized there was more to tell. It wasn’t a short story but a novel. All I did was touch the surface on something much darker.

So now I’m tempted to travel down the rabbit hole. A horror rabbit hole mind you. I will admit I am hesitant and a little nervous at what I will find.

I will always be amazed with the ideas we come up with. Sometimes our ideas embrace the light but something it’s the darkness that our ideas crave.

I know my hesitation will turn to curiosity. I will encourage it to grow and for a little while allow it to take control.

Maybe it’s a good thing to travel to places we’ve never been. I say maybe because I’m still hesitant but who knows how long that will last.

Now if you’ll forgive me, I have a rabbit hole that’s calling.

rabbit hole

SPONTANEOUS FRIDAY

Catcher

My so-called hero

When I was 14 years old I read The Catcher in the Rye. To say I was blown away is an understatement.

Holden Caulfield was my hero. We understood each other and when I finished I hoped and predicted I would be that type of person someday.

 

Who was I kidding?

Fast forward five years later I read it again. This time things had changed. I could not believe how annoying that kid was. I grew tired of him. So much so I couldn’t finish the book.

Movies followed the same path as The Catcher in the Rye. For some that I found amazing and charming quickly found their way in the crash and burn category years later.

Not every movie or book is that way for me. Some will always be my favorite. It’s as if they grow with me. But why do others fail? Why can’t they keep up like the others?

 

Questions and Answers

I did some thinking on this and I figured it all comes down to timing.

So many of our past favorites are a snap shot of who we once were. A sarcastic mean spirited flic we just couldn’t get enough of may not work with our views of today. Or a plot involving a child disappearing forever in the woods would now be a turnoff in this parents eyes. 

Every now and then I do go back to my old favorites to test my reactions. I’m curious how much I’ve grown or if I’ve regressed a bit.

 

Which brings me to the point of all this:

Years ago I gave away my only copy of Catcher in the Rye and now I want to read it again. I am a parent of two teenagers so I’m curious how I will view him. With a father’s eye what instincts of mine will rise to the surface?

I can’t answer those questions yet but when I find out I promise I’ll share them with you.

Our priorities and opinions change as we grow, but for me my curiosity is still there and I’m wondering where it will take me when I enter Holden’s world.

catcher 1

Happy Friday Everyone!!!

Little Eyes

sitting under a tree

In the summer of 2006 my wife’s IT position was being phased out. The Army Corp had made a decision to contract the position instead of having a full time employee.

For a while we were a tad worried. Luckily another job opened. It was a different position but for her just as rewarding.

The job involved a transfer and by fall we had moved away to the tiny town of North Bonneville, Washington.

The area was beautiful. Mountains, rivers and lots of snow and wildlife. It was common to see deer walking through the center of town.

The following summer my oldest turned five and my youngest three. My oldest was developing a ‘me first’ attitude at the time and doing a really good job of it.

But my youngest was a little different. Unlike her sister she was an observer with a strong gift of recognizing the people around her. In a way she’s me but in a much better way.

stevenson

We were in the neighboring town of Stevenson. It was the tourist town of the area where ice cream, fancy restaurants and souvenirs could be found on every corner. We made our way to the town center in hopes of burning off some energy.

My oldest was taking full advantage of the situation while my youngest had other ideas.

We came across an artist displaying her paintings and a flower vender sharing her beautiful collection. My attention was drawn to my oldest who was on the verge of climbing the town’s tallest tree when suddenly my youngest tugged at my hand.

 She has always been a soft spoken person and back then her voice was a lot softer. We found a bench where I sat and listened. She whispered in my ear and pointed.

A teenage girl hid under a shaded tree. Her knees curled up to her chin. Her eyes sad and far away. People walked past as if she were invisible and I wondered if that was what she wanted.

My youngest pulled me to the flower vender and asked if she could have one. She picked out her favorite and told me to stay. I did as asked and watched.

She patted the girl on the knee and patiently waited for her to look up. When their eyes met my youngest smiled and held the flower to her.

With the flower resting in the girls hand my youngest reached out for a hug. After they embraced my youngest said something that made the sad girl smile.

With a wave goodbye my youngest ran back to me. The teenage girl held the flower close, her eyes a little brighter. I never asked what she said. It was none of my business.

Minutes later my youngest spotted her sister and ran after her. Turns out the tree wasn’t worth the effort.

What does this have to do with the craft of writing? I don’t know but sometimes a memory is good enough.

Daughter 2

 

 

SPONTANEOUS FRIDAY

You asked for it, you got it.

Here it is friends. At the request of some very special people I have enclosed the prologue that you requested.

Sarcastically named – The World’s Greatest Prologue.

I have never posted my work on my blog so I’m a tad nervous. Most of all I do not like to take up a lot of your time. I try to keep the word count low whenever I post.

Unfortunately this thing runs about 1900 words give or take.

I’ve included pictures for your entertainment. If real life cookies were possible you’d have them too.

Please be honest. Shred it to bits. Do whatever you like. I can take it.

Enjoy.

 

 Greta, Eileen and a day at a funeral  (I just made this up)

Church

          A circle of friends and family gathered at a downtown Catholic Church in Eugene, Oregon. It was a bright and beautiful June morning, typical for this time of year. But it was a day poor Ed Blane would never see. If one were to ask his wife for details she would reply with a shaky voice and tear stained eyes that her loving husband of 41 years took his first steps to Heaven’s gate on a rainy Friday morning.

          Later that day, this would be the part where she would pause to collect herself, her dear Eddy opened the gate and joined the Lord in his beautiful cottage. She would look up from her war torn tissue, glance at a friend, a sister or maybe a daughter or two and wonder out loud how long it would take for her broken heart to mend.

          It’s common, I’m sure you would agree, to experience a breakdown or two soon after a loved one has passed. On the other side of this slippery coin an observer with a sharp eye and a keen memory might wonder where they had heard this dialog before? The Lords Cottage? First steps? Followed of course by lots and lots of blubbering. If the casual observer would have guessed a movie, let’s say 1946 for example; they would have won the lollypop prize. The prize winner would have learned that Mrs. Blane loved old movies and, now pay attention this is the good part, she loved repeating her favorite scenes in real life.

          Now I’m sure you’re wondering why a devoted wife of 41 years would have to pretend. Wouldn’t sadness and grief be a natural thing? Don’t we all mourn the passing of a loved one with tears and memories and in some cases denial? It could take months, maybe years or even a lifetime to recover from such a loss. A picture so pitiful one would be forced to quickly change the channel in hopes of forgetting such a scene.

          But this is Eddy we are talking about and in those 41 years good old Ed was consistent in only one thing: A giant pain in the ass.

          His death, courtesy of every damn cancer you could possibly imagine, was accepted by his dear wife with the same level of excitement a doughnut lover would embrace on National Doughnut Day. But remember, this bit of news is our little secret. Hush-Hush.

          Thirty five people gathered on that beautiful morning. A good showing for a quiet man such as Ed. Of the thirty five in attendance four of them actually missed him. His high-school buddy Earl, The Mayor, the Wal-Mart greater who always forgot his name tag and Mrs. Cutney. Who is Mrs. Cutney, you ask? Well that is a story for another time. Let’s just say good old Ed was not always a quiet man, especially when he was with Mrs. Cutney.

          Eileen and Greta sat in the far pew listening to the mayor speak. At 82 and 81 years respectively they sat close enough for their ears to hear but far enough away so their giggling gossip could not.

          Eileen and Greta grew up in the Valley. Old school chums they liked to say. They graduated from the local high-school, received degrees from the local college, with honors if you care to ask and married local men. While their husbands had long since passed their admirers, both friends and family had not. Their children were educated and employed in respectable professions, their husband’s money alive and well and their stomachs growling as the noon hour neared.

          “Oh dear,” Eileen whispered as her hungry stomach prepared itself for another round, “I do hope the mayor wraps this up. Why did they have to start so late?”

          “I agree,” Greta replied. “10:00 a.m. would have been perfect. 10:30 tops.”

          The two sat in silence, minus Eileen’s hungry stomach, waiting for Mayor Rohm to finish.

          “10:30 wouldn’t have worked,” Eileen noted. “It takes Mrs. Cutney half the morning to fix her hair and the other half to put her face on.”

          “You are so right, dear,” Greta giggled.

          Their heads slowly turned away from Mayor Rohm into the direction of Mrs. Cutney. A former college mate she was but far from being an old chum.

          “Could never keep her hands to herself,” Eileen noted.

          “Some habits never die,” Greta added.

          “What was that dreadful song the boys in school use to sing about her,” Eileen asked.

          “Oh dear, you would throw a bone at me.” Greta paused and pressed her index finger against her head and waited. It was an old trick her mother taught her and one that proved to work from time to time.

          “Cockle-Do,” Greta remembered.

          “Cockle what?” Eileen asked.

          Greta coughed lightly into her palm and slowly lowered her head to Eileen’s ear.

          “Cockle-Do, Cockle-Do, any Cockle-Do.”

          Eileen quickly raised her hand to her mouth and snorted. Greta followed with giggle fits of her own. For the other funeral gatherers who turned to the noise of giggles and fits their ears and eyes convinced them it was nothing more than two little ladies having an emotional moment over the loss of their dear friend.

          As the gatherers stood to sing ‘Be Thou My Vision’, Greta’s favorite by the way, it suddenly occurred to Eileen why all this suffering might be worth it. Sure, Ed was a nice guy. A sweet fellow if one were to ask but was he worth the pains one has to suffer? In this case, Eileen’s growling stomach.

          “Now I remember,” Eileen whispered.

          “Remember what, dear?” Greta asked as the song came to a close.

          “Mrs. Davenport is in charge of the cake.”

          “Really? What kind?’

          “Carrot cake,” Eileen whispered as her stomach prepared for another round.

          “She is the best,” Greta noted while pretending to ignore Eileen’s rumblings. “Remember last month when she was visiting her sister in Idaho? Poor Mrs. Shivers died and they had to find someone else to make the carrot cake.”

          “I missed that one.” Eileen lied. “Terrible cold. Who took over?”

          “Edith Thomback.”

          “No.”

          “If you ask her, she’s the best baker in town. Including her carrot cake.”

          “Greta?”

          “Yes, dear?”

          “I didn’t have a cold. I knew Edith was in charge.”

          “Relax dear. Your secret dies with me.”

          “Did you stay long,” Eileen asked.

          “I left after services.” Greta smiled. “I told Father I was coming down with a terrible cold.”

          “Oh, you.”

old lady

          Mayor Herbert Rohm Stood front and center proudly singing with the others. A handsome picture of Edward Blane sat to the mayor’s left while a decorate display of assorted wild flowers sat to his right.

          “Friends and family,” Mayer Rohm greeted as Be Thou My Vision completed, “It is a sad day whenever we say goodbye to a dear friend, but we must remember that this is a day of celebration. My good friend Eddy is dancing on the streets of heaven today. No longer is he wrecked with cancer. His pain and his fear are gone forever. Today is a wonderful day for him. It is his first week spent in our glorious heaven. Imagine that.”

          Mayor Rohm paused long enough for his words to sink in. His eyes stained with tears, his cheeks red, his forehead damp with perspiration. Mayor Rohm was a good man, an honest man serving his fourth term as Mayor of beautiful Eugene, Oregon. His voice carried weight and if he believed good old Eddy was doing the hustle on the corner of Heaven and Saints then you can bet your last quarter it was true.

          “Has he lost weight?”

          “Who?” Great asked.

          “Mayor Rohm.”

          “Oh good heavens, are you kidding?”

          Eileen gave Mayor Rohm another glance in case her eyes were fooling her.

          “Something about his face,” Eileen noted. “Maybe he’s eating more greens instead of meat?”

          “I would like to thank the Blane family,” Mayor Rohm concluded, “It was such a pleasure meeting you.”

          “He’s still as heavy as ever,” Greta noted. “He wouldn’t touch a salad if that was the only thing left in the room. I once gave him apples from our tree. Do you know what he did?”

          “What?”

          “He cut them into pieces and baked them in brown sugar.”

          “Yum.”

          Eileen’s stomach growled a little louder causing both women to glance at their watches.

“When I was informed of Ed’s passing,” the mayor continued, “I immediately thought of a story he once shared of the time he showed up at his nephew’s wedding wearing golf shoes instead of dress shoes. I swear he laughed until he cried whenever he told that story.”

          “Are you sure Ed didn’t die of boredom,” Eileen asked.

          “Shhhhh….”

          “Please join us in the reception hall,” the Mayor concluded. “Our wonderful volunteers have made a tasty lunch for everyone. If you have time we would love to see you.”

          Mayor Rohm stepped down from the podium and immediately embraced Mrs. Blane. Her daughters and friends looked on as Mayor Rohm’s strong arms consoled the fallen widow on a day none of us wish to see.

         From a distance a passerby may note what appeared to be a typical post funeral tradition: Handshakes, solemn expressions, tear stain faces and as always a respectable word or two. But if the curious passerby were to draw a little closer, let’s say an inch or two, they would notice a lack of tears and a lack of anything on the dearly departed widow. One word may come to mind when observing this lady all dressed in black, complete with gloves and shiny boots – Freedom.

          Ed’s wife turned to the loud ruckus that suddenly exploded behind her. Mrs. Cutney sat alone in a convenient spot located arm’s length from Ed’s daughters and friends. Mrs. Blane watched as Mrs. Cutney bawled until her well went dry. It didn’t take long to understand that her well might be an endless flow. Mrs. Cutney, you see, did very little in holding her emotions intact. So little in fact one might have to wonder if her actions were nothing more than good old fashion attention stealer.

          “Always has to steal the spotlight.”

          “And you’re surprised,” Greta asked.

          “Hardly.”

          Eileen and Greta shook their heads in disgust as Ed’s daughters, the Mayor, his high-school buddy Earl and the nameless Wal-Mart greeter comforted Mrs. Cutney in a circle of good gesture.   

“Right out of a high school play,” Eileen said.

          “Nicely directed,” Greta added. “I see all the bit parts are being used properly.”

          Greta and Eileen delayed their exit while Mrs. Cutney was carefully escorted to the nearest exit. The nameless Wal-Mart greeter and Earl had struck up a conversation in what appeared to be the beginnings of a beautiful friendship. Now that Ed was gone an opening was in desperate need to be filled. As for Mrs. Blane? Well, that’s a very good question, let’s just say she walked alone.

ladies

         

 

I Wrote the Greatest Prologue Ever

Great 1

I have always had confidence in my work. Even when I write junk I still see the shiny light. Kind of like the worlds ugliest puppy being loved by her mother.

Some may view this as arrogant, cocky or full of myself and, I must say, I agree. But I have always felt we need a touch of arrogance floating through our veins otherwise fear and doubt and all that other nasty stuff will take over.

Why do you hate me?

For those who have been around me since I started this writing gig it should come as no surprise how shocked I was when the greatest prologue ever fell flat.

The scene was perfect. The writing was fun. The opening began in a small church in the middle of a small town. A local resident had passed and a local gathering of family and friends had come together.

Two little ladies sat in the back giggling and gossiping like local school girls.

Of course it doesn’t work. Who cares?

Did it have anything to do with the story? No. Were they seen again? No. So why do we need this?

Why so many questions?

Looking back I should have put a leash on my sharp tongue but when a group of writers challenge you with questions that are hard to answer one tends to get a little grumpy.

I’m sure I could have found a future for these loveable characters but I held my ground and demanded their short visit would stay. As you can see, listening wasn’t always my thing.

The characters were likable, I argued. Their scenes were real. The dialog sharp. Come on people, what’s not to love!

Yes, I was shouting.

Maybe, just maybe, I was wrong.

great 2

But sometimes confidence, or in this case stubbornness, can turn a writer blind.

So what did I do when I realized I might be wrong? First there was denial, followed by anger, bargaining was in the mix and so was depression. Finally, after a while, acceptance.

When I think about it this all makes sense with the scene opening in a funeral, doesn’t it.   

I will rebuild her.

Not long after I scratched the prologue I made myself a deal: Just because the scene is out doesn’t mean it’s gone forever.

I can always create a novel centering on these two little ladies. I could add a funeral and create the biggest backstory on the dead character the world has ever seen.

Now my greatest prologue ever is safely tucked away. Sure, the home I placed it in didn’t exactly work but someday I’ll find them a better place.

As for you, my dear friends, hang on to those early drafts. Something special may await between those lost words and broken homes. 

ladies

SPONTANEOUS FRIDAY

 

I have my moments

decent

Some of you who have read stories of my past can agree I was a pretty decent guy.

I wasn’t a trouble maker. You could trust me with you last dollar and if you needed a dollar I was your guy.

I always looked out for my friends and hated to see anybody get hurt. If you had one to many beers I’d get you home. If something made you sad I was there to listen.

But of all those proud moments there was one not so proud moment that frustrates me to this day.

It was the day the Animal fought my friend.

 

How can you not like sports?

It was my senior year. I was knee deep in a study group for a class I had to pass. It was a stressful time. The class was hard, the teacher harder and my nerves were shot.

Thankfully a member of that group shared my misery.

Ted was smart, kind and patient whenever I was stumped on a question. He was also clueless when it came to high-school sports.

Neither of us new it at the time but his cluelessness would prove to be a downfall for both of us.

Ted was a tall, muscular kid and popular with the ladies. Looking back I’m pretty sure I met the majority of girls through him.

One day trouble occurred. Ted and a kid one grade below us exchanged a mouthful of words. The kid had a nickname. We called him the Animal.

 

A Bad Idea

It was during lunch when Ted pointed the boy out. At first I was uninterested until I followed his pointy finger to the Animal sitting on the other side of the cafeteria.

The boy’s name was Dan. A two time state wrestling champion. A living legend in our valley. Like Ted, Dan was soft spoken and kind. That is until he stepped onto the matt.

Personally I was amazed he never killed anyone.

Ric Flair

Note: The above picture is legendary wrestler Rick Flair. Not the Animal. But I can assure you, back in our day, this is how we saw him. I just can’t guarantee the hair. 

Realizing Ted was clueless I proceeded to give him a history lesson in all things Animal.

Ted was unimpressed.

I’m taller, Ted argued. My arms are longer, he continued and when I was a little I spent the summer at karate camp.

Yes, Ted was in trouble.

 

Three O’clock High

knockout

Realizing my words carried no weight I prepared for my friends funeral.

We met the Animal in a parking lot across from school. The Animal brought a list of selected friends. Most of them fellow wrestlers. On Ted’s side the group was slim pickings.

There was me, two girls with huge crushes on him and a nameless kid who always had a cold.

I warned Ted that the Animal would go for his legs. He would use his wrestling skills by taking him down while knocking the eyebrows off his face.

Ted handed me his glasses. He handed me his math book. What he didn’t hand me was his common sense.

The fight lasted five minutes tops. Probably less. The Animal proved his state title worthiness. Ted proved his inability to listen to reason.

He laid on the ground doing his best to remember his last name. With his lip swelling, his eye swollen and his nose bleeding, I slowly helped my friend to his feet and made our way to my car.

To my surprise Ted called out to the Animal and congratulated him on a good fight. A week later the Animal joined our study group. Turns out he too was struggling in class.

Sometimes happy endings occur in the strangest of ways.

 

 Happy Friday Everyone!!!