Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Early Bird...

Been up since 4:30 am. I twisted, turned, somersaulted, and did all I could but no comfort was to be had in my bed.

So, I decided to give myself a morning. I drove out for breakfast, nowhere special, just some place with coffee, peace, and enough space to write a bit.

I hand jotted about two pages which is a lot for me to handwrite.

Leaving the diner, I was struck by the empty parking lot of the mall. The sun was just beginning to come up and it was as if the world had been scoured clean. A profound sense of emptiness hit me and I was reminded of all those zombie movies I've ever seen.

Anyway, I've a couple other things to do before I subject myself to "working".

Good morning, world!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Warm up: Cat Lady

“Susie? Susie?! Where are you, darling?!” Mrs. Stengel squeaked, her left hand groping about in the darkness. A tumultuous bellow of thunder slammed into the side of the house shaking picture frames and inciting knick-knacks to dance. She steadied herself with one gnarled hand.

Lightning erupted, illuminating the living room ahead of her. Susie was pawing again at the front door. Every time she slipped out of her cage, it was the same thing. She always charged for the front door, always tried to pry it open. Curiosity would certainly kill that cat if she made it outside. That was why Mrs. Stengel had installed a padlock to the inside of the door. Susie had somehow manipulated her way past the deadbolt and the chain last time! No repeats of past mistakes.

“You’re just frightened by the storm, honey,” Mrs. Stengel soothed.

Susie wasn’t buying it. Her head jerked right and left, searching for an avenue of escape.

Mrs. Stengel’s right hand tightened on the metal shaft behind her. “Come on, dear. It’ll all be okay. We’ll just return you to your home downstairs where you’ll be kept safe and sound away from that storm. It certainly is a doozy!” The thunder boomed again, emphasizing the old woman’s words. Her old arm snapped out, bringing the net down around Susie’s head.

Susie whined and mewed as Mrs. Stengel cautiously lifted the net and clamped two fingers tightly on her ear. More mewing. Mrs. Stengel pinched tighter, tossing the net to the side entirely. “Now we’ll just take you back downstairs. You’ll see. It’ll all be better downstairs. You can play with the boys until this nasty storm passes.”

Susie kicked and whined and clawed but Mrs. Stengel’s grip was unbreakable. The door to the basement slammed shut with finality as they descended the staircase. Frustrated minutes passed as the old woman slowly descended the staircase.

The boys were huddled in their own cages, faces turned away. Susie cried out as the door swung open and she was shoved again into the cell. Taking no chances this time, Mrs. Stengel wrapped a chain around the bars and the door and applied a heavy duty lock. “That should keep. No more running away, Susie.” She turned and murmured, “the things I endure for taking in the neighborhood strays.” Mrs. Stengel hobbled up the stairs.

From above, another booming sound shook the house. Once the basement door shut again, Susie burst into tears.

“Don’t worry,” one of the boys—Sammy, she thought his name was—whispered. “Our parents are coming for us. Soon yours will, too. I just know it.”

Monday, August 4, 2008

Warm-up: You Cannot Run

Only two feet away, rain drizzled into the alley, bombs bursting against the cracked asphalt, scouring the city of its filth. Axe was lost in that photo again, dreaming of that picturesque Hallmark life, that sort of life so few ever attain. Framed in front of a grandiose manse, three beautiful faces stared out of the photograph, a happy husband and wife and their smiling daughter.

Perfection, or at least, damn near it. Better than this place, he knew. The cost was high—it always was. That is exactly why so few could reach that dream.

Axe rubbed his grubby finger along the daughter’s jaw line. He cursed as a smear of grime was left in the wake. He searched for a bit of newspaper, something not smelling of piss or excrement or booze, and scrubbed at the image. Some of the color rubbed off. A tear tugged at the corner of his eye.

Delicately, he gave the picture a kiss and slid it back into the newspaper padding beneath his shirt.

Winters were harder here. Everything was harder here. There was no roof above his head save for the corrugated cardboard box. That roof would melt through tonight because of the rain, he knew. Tomorrow would be spent scavenging for a new home or some temporary fix. Maybe he could beg for a box from the soup kitchen.

Beg. Once, such a low act would have made him cringe. Once. Now, times were different. They said you cannot run from your past. He had to, though. Anonymity became necessity. Axe cursed his fate.

“What do they know anyway?” he questioned the night or the storm. “I’ll do what I want, when I want. Yes, I will.”

A torrent of water suddenly ripped through Axe’s cardboard roof. Startled, he leapt out of the box, slipping on his newspapers and blankets.

Thunder silenced his groans and curses as he crawled to his feet in the alley. A bolt of lightning illuminated his home and the enormous rip in its center.


Axe straightened; the hairs on his neck immediately erect. Cautiously, he turned his head, casting a glance at the entrance of the alley. A shadow hovered at its edge. “No,” he hissed, spinning. Axe—Alex backpedaled. The shadow stepped forward.

“You cannot run, Alex.”

“I—I—I,” he stammered, still edging backward.

“You gave us quite a bit of trouble. Who could have guessed you, so lazy and glutted on the wealth and perfect life you once craved so desperately, would give us so many problems.” Alex could hear the smile on the man’s face. “Two years! By God, you survived on the street alone and unseen! Tenacity! That sort of tenacity will make you a wonderful addition.”

“M—M—Madeline and Joanna? What about Madeline and Joanna?”

The shadow paused its pacing and held its hands down and out to its sides in a strange manner. “They will live out their lives mostly unmolested, unless they should seek us out as you did. Our dealings are with you and you alone, right now, Alex. You knew the price when you signed. Now, it is time for us to collect.”

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Warm-up: Wordy monologue

“I’ve always loved words—always. There’s a beauty there and a rhythm and, gods, do I love rhythm. Listen to them! See them! If you can, feel them. There is nothing—almost nothing—like their caress.

“Words dance around and around, a wild movement filled with vivid color and razor-edged shape. Description, that’s where it all is. Description is what it is.

“Some people like math but I’m a words person. Words are description! Math is explanation. Math speaks one language—and it’s a beautiful language in its own right because it is universal but math rarely, if ever, describes. Math explains. Math is the musty, monotone teacher at the head of the classroom.

“Words are alive. They’re breathing and showing and telling, too, but more often they’re just out there living and doing and being. It’s so hard to just be, at times. But words do that.”