Monday, October 31, 2022

Boo Hoo - A Halloween Short Story

I stood in the rain and watched the water drops splash up from the ground through the arches of my feet. The light from the street lamp sparkled and refracted on liquid beads. I turned my face up to the weeping sky and felt nothing.
I was the only being out on the street tonight.
The wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube jack-o-lantern in my neighbor’s yard dodged and bobbed in the wind. The blowup ghost hissed and moaned. An umbrella, its bones turned inside out, tumbled down the avenue, skipping to the tune of spooky music blaring from static speakers.
The children in the only decorated house on the block pressed their runny noses against the living room window, sadness painting their faces instead of costume makeup. I waved to them. The brats ignored me.
Halloween in the time of covid. No Trick or Treating.
The weather wasn’t helping the festivities. If it weren’t for the freezing rain, the brats would be outside all night, hooting and hollering at the Blue Moon while their mother sat on the stoop sipping wine.
They usually kept me awake as their house was right across the street from my bedroom window. Being a crotchety old man, I grumbled about irresponsible parents and rowdy children with no business having fun while my ancient body ached.
I’d yell at them to get the fuck off my lawn, but they never came anywhere near me or my stuff. No one had any respect for old people nowadays. Even worse, they had no time.
My children and grandchildren lived hundreds of miles away and rarely called. I hadn’t seen them in years. Once their mother left me ten years ago, they felt no genuine compunction to contact me. I had few earthly possessions to tempt their attention, and mutual affection evaporated around the time of puberty. Mostly, I was ignored.
Just like now. I stood in the rain, staring at those damn kids staring at me, and they acted like they couldn’t even see me. I approached their fenced in yard. I wanted to pop all of their inflated decorations. Besides the orange tube guy and the trite white ghost, there was a black cat with demonic eyes, a dancing witch with neon pink hair and bright green skin, a hairy wart wiggling on her nose, and a skeleton that fell apart and reassembled to the tune of “Dem Bones.” Frankenstein’s monster had given up its Mortal coil. He lay shriveled on the ground like a spent water balloon.
I went through the front gate. It didn’t squeak. Disappointing. I glided around various homemade tombstones, quiet as a corpse rising from its crypt. I have to admit they were kind of clever:
I even chuckled at a few of them, but I would never admit to that, especially after nearly stepping in dog poop. You’d think they would clean up a bit before putting out the ornamentations. It seems they had better things to do. In my day, we cleaned and straightened up for days before a holiday so we’d be worthy of a celebration. It felt like getting a trophy just because you showed up.
I survived the canine waste obstacle course and hunkered down in the bushes under the window. I rose a little, my eyes and nose breaching the sill. I got a good view of childish chins lowered to immature chests in sorrow. You’d think someone had died. The floor behind them held an assortment of drug store costumes, plastic masks, and discarded candy wrappers.
Mom lay on the couch, an arm thrown over her eyes, an empty glass on the floor under her dangling fingers. Their German Sheppard, Fang, rested in the chaos, his ears twitching, shifting like a satellite dish on the lookout for alien signals, and his eyebrows danced like Groucho Marx.
The mutt jumped up and rushed to the window. He barked and lunged, scattering the children. Mom startled, sat up, and yelled at people and the animal. I ducked down and ran for the street. The front door opened, and Fang shot into the yard, followed by the mother and her brood.
I dove into the hedges next to my house and sat on the ground to catch my breath. I expected rapid breathing and a palpitating heart. I felt weirdly calm.
From my hidden perch, I watched the unwashed masses storm the road with weapons in the shape of brooms and shovels. One of the minions brandished a three-legged doll that was missing patches of blonde hair. The dog snarled as Mom held it by the collar. Her heels dug into the lawn’s dirt while his licked up tufts of soil and brown grass.
This was more excitement than an aging person needed. I always knew by sixty I will have had enough. The noise, the mess, the constant upkeep. Why bother?
I felt justified and satisfied with my decision even though I had made it jokingly in my twenties. I had no desires left. I bequeathed curiosity to the neighborhood Tom. I watched all of the Andy Griffiths and Gunsmoke reruns. I couldn’t hang out at my local bar anymore.
Thunder and lightning chased the little monsters across the street back into their den. The slam of the door snuffed out their shrieks. Mom must have pulled the plug since all of the blowup figures deflated, the lights went out, and the tin canned spirits exorcised their right to some rest. The night returned to the unnatural pandemic quiet.
I turned back to my home, reached the front stoop, and grabbed the door handle. It passed through my fingers. I pushed on the door. It didn’t move, but I ended up in my front room. There I sat in my recliner, slumped over, head lolling to the left, my favorite beer mug on the side table, my revolver on the floor under my lifeless fingers.


Monday, October 24, 2022

Writing Your Life Away


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I've been writing a personal journal in one form or another for as long as I can remember, from writing in the sand while yellow jackets buzzed around me at the age of four in North Carolina to this new hard-cover Mead Cambridge Limited notebook I started here in my new home in Florida.

I believe in writing by hand as therapy, relaxation, and meditation. 98.567% of the words are boring, redundant, or complete bullshit. Some documented trauma and joy, extreme emotions, and ugly thoughts. None of them contained words I'd want anyone to see.

By the time I moved from New Jersey in September, I still had forty or fifty filled journals weighing me down. I toyed with keeping them because my ramblings are just that valuable, but those suckers weighed a ton. So I burned them all. 

After recovering from the sheer exhaustion of lugging them downstairs and out into the backyard and then guarding them so that I wouldn't set the neighborhood on fire, the process felt good. The purgative felt like a line in the sand, clearly delineating the life I'd be leaving behind and my new adventure.

I don't want to save future diaries for my daughter to find (look up death cleaning.) These are uncensored: one of the few places where I don't go through all possible permutations for ramifications before disgorging what's in my brain. 

From now on, on the anniversary of my birth, I will review what I've written (maybe) and then use however many I completed in the previous year as fire fodder.

Suleika Jaouad wrote about The Journal Dilemma in which she shares some more thoughts on journals and what to do with them.

The pens in the picture above are Thorton's Novice disposable fountain pens which are very nice.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Author Attention - L. C. Bennett Stern


L. C. (Linda) Bennett Stern brings history to life 
by imagining what might have really happened to her relatives.

Bosses and Blackjacks tells the tale of her unknown 
grandfather and the Bloody 5th in Philadelphia 
at the start of the 20th century.
(Award-Winning Finalist in the "True Crime: Non-Fiction" category
 of the 2017 International Book Awards)

Mae's Revenge and Standing Ovation are books 1 and 2 of 
The Mari Mort Trilogy. Book 3 is in progress. 
These stories feature the older sister 
of her previously unknown grandfather.

Stern Words - website

L.C. Bennett Stern - facebook

Sunday, October 09, 2022

...and the old is new again.

Here is my new workspace with some of my favorite things. 

They were kept in the dark for years because things near and dear to my heart didn't often survive.

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Everything is ready to start on Chapter Ten of The Bastard's Battle.

The Eternal City, Peter Blume 1934 - 37 (My favorite painting.)

That's an actual portable typewriter up there. Made in 1958. Green. 
And it works because it has an actual non-dried-out ribbon in it.

"fuck off! i'm writing"

All ready for Monday morning.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Bring on the Candy Corn

 Rabbit, Rabbit

may October bring bounteous BOOns

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Honey is a Hedge Witch.

Quincey is a Vampire Executioner.

We took a trip to the fantasy shop
to see what we could see for alternate identity options.

After slipping and sliding from one reality to another, 
I landed upon these seemingly unrelated options:

happy little Bob Ross

Chrome Marshmello

I posit that these are related: 
Bob Ross pitched MTV, 
Marshmello is a DJ, and 
The Joker whistled his own theme music in Mad Love.

If you have no choice in the matter, 
like Kali, you will be a pumpkin.

“It takes a strong man to be with a woman 
full of fire and stars and all of October.” – Melody Lee

I ate all the candy corn already.