Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Lightning Sketch - That's Not What You Said

The oily salesman had his look at the old, decrepit face and laughed.
“This is not the work of my fathers, of my lineage. This is the work of carrion crows come to steal just the slightest flesh from the maddening ways of one so vile as he. But look, the work is shoddy, it’s amateurish. The carrion crows forgot to pick the soul from these bones when they picked the flesh. My work would have been artistic and left no trace of the soul or moment of life left. These crows though. Amateurs.”

Lies. Lies begin and end with the rubbish of the fallen and ill soiled. Lies begin with the very need to be lied to and the very lack of will it takes to shine light on the shadow of a lie. But where this light shines, there shines the ignominy of confrontation, the graceless back-peddling of the accused and rejected. A lie is known when a lie is heard, and here Bertrand Russell knew a lie too and so was content to let it lay. But, the Carnival Master needed to be heard and believed, as all liars need.

“Look boy, look at these bones! My work is better than this. You are a fool of a boy. Be gone with you, trash. I have real customers coming with real coin and real taste. I did your job. I told you I would leave some remnants of the old soul’s quickening on the bones if something went wrong..”

“That’s not what you said. Challenge me not Carnival Master. The very fabric of your transient soul lay as finely untwining threads in my fingers. I see what you wish to hide and I will have what you promised, with or without your assistance or knowledge.”


This segment comes from an old story that I started about 7 years ago, in Boston. There may be more of this, or not. I haven't decided.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Lightning Sketch - Fleeting Feelings

Fleeting Feelings

I have been awake now for four days. That’s four days of waking up, working, laying down at night and pretending to close my eyes as the sun reclines beyond the horizon and the sky dons the moon as the watcher of sleeping souls. So then would the moon be sorely cross with me for these days gone by, four of which drifted down the canal of lost time into a remoteness so vast as to render all deposits forever gone.
When I am awake, and not pretending to close my eyes and therein placating the very moon that sours her face at my wan, dull and lifeless expression – the implacable void of an ancient hollow stamped upon my rubbery face, I work. I work well. I feed those who need it and have a little left over for myself. I even dream. I dream of sleep and have waking visions of nightmares that should have happened as the moon tended to my restless soul in the waking nights.

Sometimes, when spare moments arise between the vague traditions of caloric intake and work, I remember what it is to feel, to thrive and know that zest for the sun, the moon and all the world that acts in consort with itself and acts as clock that tells the periodic time of the universe and life itself. Of this vast, magical and inspiringly calculated clock came a single universal second wherein I knew her feelings were fleeting and that what was left, was all that was left and more than the lowliest could hope for.
In time, the universal time measured by the dances of stars and planets, the times between food and work will open up and in that gap, like grass in a sidewalk, new life will grow.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Lightning Sketch - Fun Freebies

Fun Freebies

She tickled the ends of his toes which hung like ripe cherry tomatoes in the light of the open window. Beyond the windows, in the world that happened and the planets that arced among the stars that shone through the vastness of darkness to bring a warm and bright sky to these two lovers, the blue domes of Santorini’s coastal architecture accentuated the vibrancy and depth of love she felt for him – and he for her.
Reflexing to her touch, and pulling his foot away, he mumbled a quiet protest, his eye lids sank back to closing, his head sank back into the pillow, and his quiet protestations drifted from thickly accented English to native Greek.
She loved him. She couldn’t say why. She tried, but found no words nor prior feelings to describe this new devotion. This only made her love him more.
He loved her as well. But to him, love is a bizarre and endlessly errant past time, prone to the sorts of uncategorizable chaos that can only be predicted with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. Despite this feeling of helplessness, to an event where insight cannot penetrate, he devoted his free time to looking out for her, protecting her and promoting her interests. This makes loves real, to him, and this is what he wants to give her.
Their love, like all things fluid, turbulent and tied to the lives and whims of humans, was complex and chaotic and it endured because each found a way to navigate from rough seas to fairer weather.
This moment of gentle kisses, passionately spent energy and well-earned sweat, was made sweeter because it was easy, natural and fun. Soon, there will be work and travel and kids and colliding intentions, but not now, and not here.
Here, they are free because of the fun they’ve shared.


I had no idea where I was going with this one. It came out as I wrote and it wasn't clear how I was going to tie this into a fun freebie, or if even it was well done. But, it reads well and paints a scene that is clear so I'm inclined to say this is one of my better submissions. However, a reread tomorrow may prove all the difference required to change my mind. Also, not sure why I wrote about romance or something romantic. This is a clear departure from monsters and sci-fi. Hmmm.... curious.
I hope you liked it.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lightning Sketch - The Heart of Pluto

My tiny vessel has been executing a series of corrective micro-spins to keep the flat side facing the solar winds. Three years ago, one of my orienting thrusters was knocked about by interstellar debris. The geniuses back home figured out how I could navigate to the nearest terrestrial body that lined up close enough to my trajectory. My speed is now decided by the winds that I catch; which by the time I get to my landing spot may have me well under, or well over, the desired speed. This will be a risky landing with a predicted probability of success between 3 and 8 percent. It beats the odds of zero percent though if I stay floating in space and end up flying through the Kuiper belt without functional guidance. For a spot of humor, I renamed my vessel to Space Swiss Cheese. It’s a little fatalistic but reminds me that it’s all out of my hands at this point.
               As for landing on the surface, and surviving, I’ve been told, through personal messages that were sent when the ops chief wasn’t looking, that Vegas bookies are taking 4,000:1 odds against, with some putting it at 10,000:1. There are so many things to consider: speed, weight, rotation of the planet, amount of fuel, structural integrity of the hull and the solar wings, and the fact that I have no landing gear since this section wasn’t meant to operate by itself. I hear that I missed an orbital slingshot by a month, which would’ve put me back on a course toward Earth, which would’ve given the brains back home some time to plan a rescue.
               The plan? Land intact, optimize the vessel’s life support capabilities, absolutely do not expose myself to the atmosphere, partly because I technically don’t enough water to last 10 years, waiting for my rescue team, so any exposure will release priceless moisture and I’ll never get that water back; on top of that, I have to share this water with the plants that I’m supposed to grow. The other half of my diet will consist of meat proteins reconstituted from my own waste.
               I look out and can see a tiny dot, and I know that somewhere on that dot is where I will land, on the plains in the heart of Pluto.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Lightning Sketch - Why Do I Feel Nauseous?

Why Do I Feel Nauseous?

“Why do I feel nauseous?” She asked.
No response came from the walls or the spaces between.

“Hello? Anyone?”
Again, silence met the breaking of it and silence was once again.

“Mom? Where are you? I can’t believe this is happening…”

Minutes continued with a dark quiet driving them fastidiously across the clock in lethargic measure.

“Mom! I think I saw a spider! MOM!!! Where are you?”
The young woman, whose pallor is now tinted with green around angry, red, bite marks, leans forward from sitting and begins to stand. As she straighten her spine, her entire form loses all rigidity, crumples and falls to the floor. She thrusts out a single hand, as an instinct, to deflect the rapidly approaching floor.

“Mom!” Silently now, the air escapes too slowly from her lungs to create a scream, so it comes out as a burbled plea.

“I’m here sweetie. What’s wrong?” The voice drones in a cadence of sub-audible clicks and wheezing, though the sweetness of a mother’s love softens the syllables.

“Mom… why can’t I… what’s happening… where are you…. What happened to you?” With the last ounces of strength, the young woman turns her head to the side and falls flat to the floor and her eyes begin to dilate. In the doorway, with the last of her fading vision, she sees the impossible and knows that she must be hallucinating as she dies. A giant spider is standing in the doorway, wearing what looks like tatters of her mother’s torn clothes, and says…
“I’ll see you soon Sweety. Come down for supper when you’re ready. We’re having the neighbors for dinner.”


Another creature sketch. Too much fun! The sketch started out very moody and isolated but I really didn't want to make an overly emotional, dramatic sketch. So... monsters. This time, giant spiders that eat people.... A recipe for awesome.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lightning Sketch - Luxury Bathing


I've never been good at writing dialogue, and I can't say that today's sketch is any better but it's an attempt to improve on an important area of writing - the interaction of two people in real time.

Luxury Bathing

“Why do you do that?”
“Do What?”
“Not answer me. I’ve just asked you a question, like twice.”
“Honey, I’m really busy and tired. Can’t it wait?”
“It always waits. How long does it have to wait now?”
She just sighs, rolls her eyes and gives no answer. He, needing something to happen, anything to happen, walks out.
She slips inches further in to the warming suds, covering her up to her chin, leaving only her toes and knees breaking the surface of the water as tiny islands in a small sea. The steam gently rises from the surface of the water filling the room and covering the walls with misty droplets of warm water. She breathes and sighs even more causing the minor sea with the tiny islands to rise and fall with every inhale and exhale.
She cries silently to herself, the tears running rivers to the sea of warmth and comfort.

Minutes pass. Stress and sadness evaporate into the self-contained soapy sea. More minutes pass.
He walks in with empty hands and words of apology and comfort.
“I don’t want to hear it right now. Can’t I just finish my bath, please?”
He leaves, and before doing so, places a gift at the foot of her bath.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lightning Sketch - Jam and Toast

It's Tuesday. Time for another Lightning Sketch from the great writing group at The Overlook Hotel. Today's concept is:

Jam and Toast

The sun radiates through the windows of the new kitchen, tracing pathways of golden light on the new hardwood floors. The pristine curves of the brushed steel doors on the mint refrigerator reflect a happy softness of the light and shadows, the cabinets and cupboards, and the custom sculpted light fixtures.  And two feet behind the kitchen island, the kitchen feels a vibe out of sync with its own domestic harmony. An intruder has entered but the kitchen has no voice. There are no pans hanging on swinging hooks that it can shake - no spices precariously placed on haughtily thin racks that it can will to fall and create a clamor from such – and no oven to turn on that would trigger the smoke alarm were it ever installed.
On the floor, behind the island, Maury writhes from the last synaptic firings of muscle memory even after the body has died, and from a slow, rhythmic jolt, smearing his face and gore upon the recently happy floors. Attached to his waist are two menacing creatures, with eyes expressionless and void, covered in bloodied fur. These were the family’s exotic pets, mutated by airborne pathogens, and were named Jam and Toast.

After Thoughts...

I couldn't pass up turning something so conceptually innocent as Jam & Toast into a ghastly monster scene inspired from a life of B-Movie watching. Too much fun. The trouble with writing, is that it has to be entertaining, at least I hope it is. Were it not for this limitation, I probably would have written about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lightning Sketch - Monday's Minutes

Ever feel this way about work? I know I have, mostly.

Monday's Minutes

It was 4 o’clock. Everyone hates 4 o’clock. It’s that time when the hours smear slowly from one second to the next, where the clock stares blankly at ill lit walls and the fluorescent sky - just 8 feet above - wears down on us like a pit boss. ‘More work!’ it says! And in so saying he laughs the spittle right from his slobberous mouth.


Soon, we think. Soon. It will be 5p and we’ll be able to get out. We all have homes and families and loved ones. We have hobbies and reveries, events and larger than life screenings. We work hard, y’know? We work to provide a life beyond work, to provide school for our beautiful children, to make a better life for those that depend on us.


I can’t think. I have just one more report to go. Jesse in the cube over, has 2 hours of work to complete and email by 5p.


So close now. Just one more cup of coffee. Damnit! Who doesn’t put a new pot on?


… The despair we felt at the random direction of time’s slippage through space and our own senses drove us all to the point of frenzy, and we became a melting pot of disenfranchised rage. In four minutes it will be Monday and the weekend will be gone.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lightning Sketch - Indigo Wendigo


This was a fun lightning sketch, because I got to write about color and monsters. Fantastic.
Today's Lightning Sketch topic is...

Indigo Wendigo

Blood. Like so much fell congealment curdled to the color of despair, floats a sky of blood.

Wild. An amazed and unbound form pours itself through the air as a glass of absynthe might empty into the sky above, so the wendigo's legs and arms silently float through the very forest - finding purchase at the even the slightest touch and surface. It's up and down are one as it walks with legs on the nadir of the fallen leaves and the zenith of the canopy above.

The eyes of the wendigo see you. Quick, escape! Back pedal, shuffle, zig and zig! There is no surviving the wendigo's indigo bite. If even the slightest break of your skin comes from its razor lined mouth, the wendigo's indigo bite will be the very death of the life you have now... and will lose if you cannot run fast enough.

Good, you have your feet beneath you. Run faster! The very soul of the devil himself sees your now and your future. Stop thinking; just run!

You just felt it, a little bite.

And now you see it, an indigo moon floating above in a sky of blood.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Lightning Sketch - Completing the Collection

This is a submission for an online writers group. The purpose of the assignment is to write about a phrase for ten minutes, and then submit the writing. You can find the group at Stack Exchange.
The phrase to write about: 'Completing the Collection'

It's raining today, drops falling from above like a gift of silvered mana, soaking our roots, our gardens, our feet and our thirst. It's been years now since the rain has fallen so, and my word is it ever so beautiful.

After years of drought, we near about squeezed the water out of the desert rocks just to get a few more drops of life in our bodies. Half the town died in the first 30 days. The other ninety-five percent passed passed two months later. That's when the sun grew larger - causing the blue sky to ripple, burn and bleach to that pale, dirty haze. Our soil cracked and we knew why old Henry come take our skies,  our water, life and plants. He come from the sky. He come at night on the backs of a strong wind, whipping up the trees and grass letting the soil sit exposed. Then, the following day, he came on the back of the sun, and burned us out of our homes and health. He did this for three days, and not a one of us questioned why.

But now we done what we can't take back. We called out beyond the reach of old Henry. We brought the Lighting to old Henry, the Lightning and the Rain, and though we fought back to win a few more months or years, soon old Henry gonna come back and take the whole town.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Lightning Sketch - Burning Sensation

Preamble - Lightning Sketch
This is a submission for an online writers group. The purpose of the assignment is to write about a phrase for ten minutes, and then submit the writing. You can find the group at Stack Exchange.
The phrase to write about:
  • Burning Sensation

The Submission
She lit the fire, and it burned. She lit the match, and it too burned. She lit the world from a fire deep within and watched the pyre burn.

Four years before, it started. Four years are gone now as time ebbed from flame to water to flame, from present to all but forgotten. These were four years of hope and passion and a desire to see him - not for the trivial pursuits of those without ambition or purpose, nor to build an empire from triumphant endeavors or shadowed malfeasance - but to experience him again, as she once had with a fire so deep that she never forgot, and never surrendered to the hostility of complacence or normalcy.
When once four years gone were present to us as they were to her she met such a man to light a fire, to play with matches, to set the world alight with a beautiful passion. This is where the infective bug of an idea, of shared experience, found first the woman who remembers fires and who, to this day, still burns for the fire starter.

Monday, May 25, 2015

275 foot-pounds of Sweet and Sour Missive

The Preamble...

Hello! Welcome to another timely and punctual installment of this blog whose original purpose has long been outlived and now has a hamfisted description that forces all the other posts to somehow and abstractly relate back to moving. It works though, because everything is in flux. Damnit, it works. Just get over it already!

So, here we find ourselves again together on a page of type, written by none other than the very person that wrote the last one, and the one before that. Tonight's post brings together a variety of experiences that are unrelated; there is no common thread between these sections. It's like a sweet and sour stir fry of experiences with the fruity glaze of authorship bringing the whole together in a palatable offering. In the following collection of words I attempt the following: explain to my step-daughter who my father was, interview someone for employment, find a new ride.

The Sour: Explaining who my father was, to my step-daughter...

    What a treat to explain him to her. This is, without doubt, unabashed and acerbic sarcasm. In truth, it made me sad to discuss the topic, because it meant I had to think about him, discuss him with someone else, and tell a little girl that some people can be mean even if you love them and therefore that the world can be dark from long shadows cast by angry actions from years lost in the decades. Seeing her struggle to comprehend why I didn't miss my father and how a daddy can be mean quickened the sad strings of my heart. And, as many things do, it started with good intentions meant to bring a welcome perspective to her sadness at missing her father from Sunday to Friday. 

"I miss my dad."
"You're lucky. You have two daddies and two mommies who love you." ... damn, that was condescending and clumsy. 
"Why does everyone keep saying that? I don't feel lucky. I miss my dad every time I leave him."
Ugh... It's like a shot in the heart to hear her say this. Every week, a six year old girl has to leave her dad to live with her mom for the week, and five days later she leaves her mom to live with her dad. I don't envy the trouble and sadness she experiences on a weekly basis, and more so feel sadness in her sadness. 
"You're very brave girl. I know it's hard but I know that you're doing a really good job and you're being very strong" (we do have nicknames for each other. I call her 'girl' and she calls me 'Andrew.' She calls me 'Big Poopoo' and I to her as 'Peepee.' Don't over think or over analyze it; it works... trust me. Fear not, I also call her "My Number 1 Little Girl.").
"Would you like a hug?" In a turn of surprise pleasantness, she accepts. 
With muffled and diminished sobs surfacing from her head nestled in my shoulder, she says: "I don't like leaving my dad on Sunday, or my mom on Friday"
"I know baby. I know. You're a brave girl and I'm proud of you."
And I probably should've left it there... but I didn't. I relapsed into emotional tinkerer mode by deciding to tell her how it could be worse, and was for me, by discussing my father. I was hoping she would find peace or joy at knowing that others can have it worse or conversely that she has it better - but to discuss sadness brings sadness and one can never know what someone else will learn from our words. I can now, nor never, know if this was wise, for life is long and the roads bend all along the way to the last days. But the road is set and all there is to do is handle it with grace from here on forward. 

"My daddy left me girl."
"I don't know baby. He was mean."
"Do you miss your dad?"
"You never missed your dad?" This is clearly a foreign concept to her for which I am thankful. I want her to love her father and to know him. The alternative is much less pleasant. Were I to speak plainly I'd say more directly that 'it sucks' and were I to add the eloquence of articulation I would say that it was long a defining sadness causing me to see fathers where none existed in other people and giving me easy access to alienation as a social policy derived from fear of others and of myself. 
"No baby. I never missed my dad, but I did miss having a dad. All my friends had dads. I missed that. I eventually had to learn how to be my own dad."
"What does that mean?" 
"Everything I wanted my dad to be I had to learn to do that for myself."
"Did you to school for that?"
Smiling, "no baby. They don't have schools for that." I guess this isn't entirely true but it isn't entirely false either. 
    The conversation turned to the topic of how my dad was mean and here I asked her if she knew what alcohol was. 

    One day we'll talk about how I know my dad did the best he could with what he had.

~ Follow Up ~

After days of worrying, apparently about nothing, it seems that I was the only one left saddened after my conversation with my step daughter. She confirmed for me that she wasn't sad at all by our conversation and gave the impression - even if accidentally - that she hadn't considered it much since. My first reaction, a little depleted by thinking that maybe I hadn't gotten through to her, but then I think that if the sins of our fathers can be forgotten then surely mine can as well, now that I'm a father, and she'll forgive this one transgression of bringing up a sad subject of mine when she wanted to talk about herself and her sadness.

The Fruity Glaze of Authorship: The Applicant...
  Luckily, such heady conversation was balanced out by a day of productive work and reflection of my actions and words. What better way to top it off then with a home run of an interview with an employee candidate? Hoowee! That sounds like just the restorative a man needs after discussing fathers with step-daughters. I'm gonna call this guy and it's gonna be great. I mean really great. 
But it wasn't great, not even close. This missed the mark of greatness as much as Elmer Fudd missed the mark on killing the wabbit. Let's be honest. If a freight train left Chicago at 9:45a heading WSW at 65 knots (convert to mph by first converting to light years per year, factoring in the calories of a cubic parsec of butter), carrying a load of rocket fuel for circus clowns, which then suddenly ignited and the resulting explosion launched the train, the nearby hamlet and cattle barn into orbit - that would've gotten closer to the moon than this applicant did at getting a job. Or, would it?
I'm still not sure. This applicant wasn't qualified for the job, but it's how they let me know that may turn this story around. 

~ Your feet have no holes. Perhaps you have a gun and can correct that? ~

The phone rings.

Conversation begins with a noticeable lack of participation on applicant's part. His mind is clearly somewhere else. I begin with some introductory conversation of which said applicant takes little part in. I then asks some pointed questions to suss out applicant's understanding of the material that her job will cover.

Insert 15 minutes of lackluster conversation. It took us 15 minutes to get to the following part, that could have been really good to know earlier, preferably before the phone call. Up to this point I was on the fence about the candidate, but leaning towards a 'no.' The following made the decision for me.

"To be honest, I just wanted to call and touch base. I just got a job somewhere else. I was just looking for an exit strategy. I wanted to see what the job was about because it sounded good.”

"You want an exit strategy for a job you just accepted?"


"Okay. I think that does it. Thank you for your time."

"So can I check in in a few months?"


A candidate for employment has never let me know, in such a definitive and clear way, the he or she was not suitable for work. The experience was frustratingly funny.

The Sweet: 275 Foot-Pounds and 200 Horsepower of Commuting...

    Grinning. Some delights in this world have little rational explanation, even to ourselves. And some of these delights need no explanation nor any analytical reflection. The world can be difficult, why question fun? It is in this vein of gleeful and unexplainable fun that I am happy to write of a new acquisition: a 1999 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. Yeah, I have my own Bluesmobile. This immediately adds one item to my bucket list: pick up brother from jail in my new automobile. To answer the most commonly asked questions:

    1. No, the car does not have cop lights, side lights, reinforced push bar on the front bumper, rear seat divider, blood stains, handcuffs, the ghost of an angry and unavenged rookie or officer two weeks from retirement, or the one clue that would finally solve the mystery of his death and exonerate his name and bring peace to his window before she passes into the hereafter to greet him again.
    2. Yes, the car does have cop shocks, cop breaks, cop motor, cop suspension (see shocks), an engine oil cooler (how great is that?), higher speed limit set by the governor, and silicon hoses for higher operating temperatures
    3. The car does have more trunk space than some of my apartments; this is only a figurative statement. The reality though is that I could fit two witnesses and 10 kilos of Columbian nose tickle powder in the trunk. (how great is that?)
    4. It has made a difference in my commute. Now, when I signal my intent to change lanes, drivers in Los Angeles make room for me to enter that lane; this is instead of the normal Los Angeles driver reaction of quickly speeding up to fill that spot so that you don't beat them in the never ending road race that is the Los Angeles driving experience (seriously, how great is that?).
    5. I have not pulled anyone over.
    6. I have fantasized repeatedly about it.
    7. My car gets terrible gas mileage. But as the saying goes, my car converts dinosaurs directly to fun.
        a. Pretty soon I'll be putting highly compressed squirrels directly into my gas tank

I baby this car like none before. This is the first time in about 17 years where I have actually fit well in my vehicle. Every vehicle before was cramped or too small. The vehicles included: '96 Jeep Cherokee Sport, '02 Dodge Grand Caravan, '12 Honda Civic (I think I vaguely remember a Ford Fiesta in there as well). The last vehicle, '12 Honda Civic, was comedically small. If I raised the seat all the way, I could open the sunroof and drive by poking my head out. Conversely, when my seat was all the way down and I hit a grocery store parking lot speed bump at 5mph, my head would bump the ceiling upholstery of the car. This happened so often, that my hair was permanently embedded in the ceiling; you could comb my hair in that part of the ceiling. Ha ha ha... part. You're welcome. Now, in my '99 Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptor, I have room and lots of it. My favorite words were spoken to me by the dealer when he noticed how tall I was. I sat in the car and immediately felt how roomy it was. I could stretch my legs out. I felt luxury in luxuriating in the resplendent roominess of this throwback sedan. In this moment, he said: "Andrew, why don't you put your seat all the way back? You're a tall guy."

Tear drop.

"It goes back... more?!" It does.

I've been in love ever since.


Thank you so much. Signing off from a night of laundry and a weekend of hotdog binging.