Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Bad Videogame Titles

I first noticed it in iD games. "Doom." "Quake." And now, "Rage." All monosyllabic ominous titles that aren’t particularly applicable to or necessarily used in the games themselves. There's never a quake. And Doom happens on Mars. There's nothing to doom. It's not until Doom 2 that it hits earth, at which point you save the universe from a threat that nobody calls "doom."

It extended beyond iD. Around the tenth entry, you knew it wasn’t the Final Fantasy. Battlefield 3 seemed to feature almost no actual battlefields. At no point did the Raccoon City Police going from door to door, checking folks off.

"Resident Todd? Good to see you.”

“Resident Jemma? Your hair looks lovely today.”

“Resident Evil? Oh shit!”

I'm not asking for high literature. Just competency in game titles. "Legend of Zelda" will do. You always live a legend and eventually meet a dame named 'Zelda.' So it works. “Assassin’s Creed?” The assassins’ guild has a creed in those games. The bar is so low that literalism will do. Elevate things.

Here’s what should happen. You know what Ubisoft should do? Make a sequel to Prince of Persia called Democracy of Arabia. It’d be a revolution in literal titling. "This Fall, the only game featuring truly free movement."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: What the Holidays Mean

The holidays meant more to him than most. They have ever since Gustav got off the ship one soggy November morning. His soles sunk into the soft earth of America. Fealty filled his lungs with his next breath. He pledged allegiance shortly after. He shook the judge’s hand, and thanked him profusely. He began thanking everyone.

Holding a door?

“Thank you, madame.”

Offering another cup of coffee?

“On the house? You’re too sweet.”

Discounting the security deposit for an apartment?

“I’ll never forget you, sir.”

He thanked them through the fourth Thursday of the month, when snow fell and his charity deepened. He spent Saturdays at homeless shelters, dropped his change into every bucket he saw, and gave blood. Too much blood. He found himself going to different precincts and lying about when he’d last given to give more.

It began a cycle. Now every autumn Gustav thanks the giving, and every winter he is filled with good will towards all men. It lasts unto a drunken explosion on the 31st of December, when his eyes are all glitter. It’s the only night he ever gets laid. Whether by luck or an unchecked alcoholic libido, he doesn’t know.

The weather warms and he hits more hospitals. He gives up booze for forty days and allocates that money toward some nurse’s education, even if he really needs it for himself. It’s a bribe to get him inside birthing rooms, where his chubby hands are sterilized and assist delivering babies. Ten months a year he can’t stand them, but for two, he spanks breath into them and jockeys to hand them to Moms. Sometimes he leaves Cadbury crème eggs behind.

The weather overheats, and hospitals lose appeal. He meanders. He has less to do until about the beginning of July, when he falls in love with his country all over again. He weeps, buys everyone at the bar another of whatever they drink, and will drive a hundred miles to see a bigger fireworks display. Last year he didn’t even realize it was the 4th until he was stuck in traffic, heading for the riverside show.

These months are slow and sweaty. He tries to occupy himself at the church or hospital. It doesn’t last. Those addictions are dormant. They don’t work in the summer, but he needs something to take his mind off what is coming. It kills him that nobody wants to talk about fireworks on July 6th.

Gustav needs that distraction, doesn’t get it, and every year this happens. Days climb longer, apex, then dwindle into autumn. As night comes sooner, he trails women home. Hopefully one invites him, but if none do, he’ll find a stray girl on her way back from work. He will go to the sidewalk outside their house. He will go up to the door, and beg his fingers not to push for the bell. By October 1st, he’ll break in after them. He wishes he could stop stalking, but it’s out of his power. Halloween is nigh, and so few people have Jack O’Lanterns to ward him away.

Blessed November 1st. After a long shower, he can thank everyone again.

Authorities think it’s an annual serial killer. They can’t catch him, because they don’t think to look for a serial thanker in November, or a serial patriot in the summer. They don’t know what holidays mean. Only he does.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Watch This Space

I've been seeing this for a week. It was taped to my computer tower to keep me on task. Every day, I got to cross off another target.

It's done. The novel is finished and ready for my wonderful beta readers. I'd split it in half. Two-hundred-some-odd pages plus two-hundred-some-odd pages, fluffed up in Standard Manuscript Format to 470. That feels nice for ten months' work.

I've put hundreds of hours into this book. Once I get the feedback, I'll hit it again. I'm determined to make it the best thing I've ever written. Thank you all for the support. When this is done, I guarantee it will be worth your time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: I Won’t Fight for Women’s Rights

"Please don’t try to enlist me to fight for libraries, fair taxation or women’s rights. I am a bad fighter. You are just trying to enlist someone who will go down in one punch for your cause. If you can, please enlist me to sit for racial harmony. To mop the kitchen for cancer awareness. To collect canned goods for the cure. Which is inefficient, since you’d think you’d ask me to collect canned goods for a relief drive. But these things I am highly skilled at. If you want me to fight against domestic violence, domestic violence is going to beat me. That… sounds so bad. But it’s not my fault! I’m not a fighter. I’m an asthmatic."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: You Bitch

“You bitch. I’ve gotten up at five in the ‘A’ and ‘M’ to drive here for forty years. I turned down Cornell for you. Never asked you for a cup of coffee. Now look what you’ve done to us.”

Vincent trudged through her front doors. For the first morning of his life with her, he left her doors open. Let the rain tinkle in here. He had water in the soles of his shoes. Let her finally know what that felt like.

He began up the stairs. Three steps up, he stopped. He didn’t need to go to the office this morning. That was pure habit. He tossed his keys on that third step.

“Twisted my ankle running tours through here. Five times. No tendon left in my right knee.”

He exaggerated the hobble as he descended. He pushed through her foyer, punching at her vintage wallpaper. His flailing slowed near the portraits. Even in this frustration, he couldn’t bring himself to damage the image of her founders.

“What have you given me?” he asked, trying to keep his nerve. This would take a lot of nerve. “Paper cuts. Loose nails in my feet.”

Though the fireplace was dormant, he could feel heat wash across the appropriate cheek. His nostrils flared. His left hand went across where his eyebrows should have been.

“They never grew back. You know that? They never grew back.”

He took a poker and jabbed it into the remaining ashes. The heat mounted until he sweated from his balding scalp. He wondered if any of her victims lingered in these ashes.

“You burned six tourists to death and didn’t have the decency to give me more than a waxing would do. Do you know how that feels?”

He lobbed the poker at the door to the basement. The antique panel sundered, letting him see into the stairwell. His teeth grinded into each other until the TMJ beat him. His joints had been disintegrating when she’d hanged two handymen in that basement. Two! The police hadn’t even figured out how the second could have tied a noose.

“But I did. It was you. You who made the wife shoot her husband right here.” He stamped his bad foot on the old rug with the fake bloodstain. There was no evidence of an actual homicide in the living room, but he knew. Vincent knew everything about her. “You who sucked the Tanner boys into your attic. You who gave the Baskervilles scarlet fever. You.”

He fidgeted with the latch to the grand windows. As though to dissuade him, a gust blew up the cliff face and rattled the panes inward.

“Do you know what you’ve gotten us? What your long legacy of violence means? Bulldozers. Wrecking balls. They’ll be here Wednesday. No more patrons. No more victims. No more overnight parties on Halloween.”

Finally he thrust his shoulder into that window. He’d daydreamed of charging through the foyer and out these damned windows for a decade. To dive into the grey New England bay. This forcing her windows was only a measure of comfort. His emotional severance pay came in the form of rain slashing his brow.

“Cute young couples. Wicked old politicians. Children and photographers and exorcists and skeptics, but never me! What did they do that I didn’t?”

The windows flapped at his arms. He punched one, cracking a square of glass. He looked in excitement to his knuckles. But there was no blood. Not even a hairline cut.

He grabbed onto the windowsill. This was the one room without a veranda. The water in his soles squished as he mounted the window, taking in a view of a drop so familiar it couldn’t terrify. He’d given himself a sciatica washing the windows over this drop. She’d have to do better than some storm clouds and wind to dissuade him.

“Wednesday. That’s it for the both of us. Our relationship. Your relationship to this world ends, not in a landmark, but in the parking lot for a Target. Your cellars will be cemented so they can put in a T.J. Maxx to leach customers from a second-rate big-box store. That’s what America thinks of your horrors.”

She wouldn’t even make it thunder for him. He curled his hands over the tops of the windows and leaned out over the sound. What remained of his hair fluttered in a staccato gale. He breathed it as deliberately as he could, waiting for her to do the decent thing.

“I told your stories. I swept your floors. I dusted your rafters and refurbished your curtains when I could have lived. I loved you. If you ever loved me, you old bitch, do me the favor. Do me the one generosity. Make me your last story.”

He cast his chin up to the sky and leaned out as far as he could, leaning out into the fiction about the eccentric old caretaker who was blown out the windows just before the haunted house was torn down. This way they’d both live so much longer - if she'd push him.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"Kill Mommy" and "Sologamous" Audio Editions at Untied Shoelaces

Untied Shoelaces of the Mind has introduced audio editions of their previous issues. Harriet Whitbread has narrated both my "Sologamous" and "Kill Mommy." Both of her reading were added directly onto the story pages themselves in free MP3 formats. Simply click "Audio**Read By" to listen to or download the stories.

I'm tickled for it, particularly to hear someone with a British accent and stage voice read an American dad giving bad advice to his cowboy-loving son during football. That was the premise of "Kill Mommy". "Sologamous"is the more dignified story of a man who seeks to marry himself to double his insurance.

"Kill Mommy" is here.

"Sologamous" is here.
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