Saturday, November 6, 2010

Item: Witch Doctor Spin

Item: Beginning November 8th all county police departments will receive one Witch Doctor. The new public servants will pray to reduce crime and cast hexes on all potential criminals. If it won’t stop them altogether, it will at least give them worse luck in high speed chases. The Witch Doctor program is a follow-up to the initiative for rain dances at inner city fire departments.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: A Still Moment

In the last moment of the game, every piece on the frontier chessboard is in motion.

Red Casey looks north up Main Street. The sun is against him, but his eyes are keener, and he is righteous. His fingers splayed at his hip, he can feel the temperature of his iron, though not yet the touch. At touch, they’ll both unholster. He will put a hole in that thieving Kid before his former partner can even finish the draw.

The Kind Kid looks south down Main Street. The sun is vindictive on his neck, burning old rope scars. He knows he doesn’t have Red’s draw speed, but his six-shooter is lighter and the parts are filed down. He doesn’t want to have to gun the best partner he’s ever had, but he will not abide a thief.

Double K, the ten-year-old adopted Kid of the Kid, clutches his cowboy hat to his mouth. His eyes peer out from the side of the road. He wants to yell at Red that he was playing cards with his daddy all night and there is no way he could have stolen the money. This close to guns, though, Double K has no breath with which to yell.

On the opposite side of the road cluster whores and drunks, spilling out of the saloon for the best show all year. The scoundrels who robbed a train without killing a man are going to shoot each other down. The saloon owner doesn’t know what this is over, but watching through the window he wishes he could sell tickets. It’d be an instant sell-out.

Near the center of the mob, like the blossom on a hedonistic rose, is Anne-Marie. Her eyes and bosom are pink from weeping and worry. She has breath this close to guns, and screams an alibi for Red. The Kid simply will not hear it.

On the north side of the saloon’s porch, Deputy Randolph hangs his hands. A rifle is leaned against the banister, and he could use it to stop this, but he hasn’t the authority. Only the sheriff does. And so Randolph must wait, though how long Red and Kid will hold their standoff is a matter of moments.

Sheriff Motley sits on the second floor of his house, the biggest on Main Street. His three hundred pound girth makes his rocking chair creak for mercy. He hears the churn of the mob down the road and chortles to himself, counting dollar bills. All this, he thinks, for a two-bit tip to the saloon owner on when both Kid and Red wouldn’t be in the room with that burlap bag.

The sheriff’s wife watches him from their drawing room. She does not introduce herself into this business, even now. She is forty years and two hundred pounds his junior, just a slice of patience and a chestpang away from inheriting money nobody knows is there. She could almost kiss her husband for keeping it so secret. She won’t do that. Then he’d know that she knows.

On the first floor of the biggest house on Main Street, the Motleys’ butler sprinkles poison into their tea. He’s seen their cash loaf and doesn’t care where it came from; it’s enough for him to finally flee this dusty town. If he can serve the refreshments in time he’ll run down the street. He’s heard there might be a gunfight today, a splendid way to finish his time here. He may even wager some of his newfound riches before catching the next train east.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: In the Car Wash

Little Sal clutched his action figure as his mother drove them into the car wash. It was dank and blue rubber strips hung down like giant teeth. They slapped wetly against the windshield and clung on, making him sink into his cushioned seat. White foam sprayed over all the windows. His mother put it in Park and the car jerked as the conveyor treads began pulling them in.

Little Sal pulled his Green Lantern to his chest, as though to protect the superhero from this onslaught. His mother patted his shoulder.

“Do they scare you? It’ll just be a minute. It’s been forever since we got a wash on this rust bucket.”

“It’s not them, Mom.”

The conveyer drew them further down the mechanical gullet. What had once been a whirring was now like sitting inside a jet engine. They couldn’t hear outside the car, and the windows were all covered in foam and spinning rubber strips. What little light made it through the foam looked yellow. Little Sal squeezed his eyelids closed.

“What is it, honey? The noise?”

“We can’t hear outside. If there was a monster, you couldn’t hear it.”

“No, honey. But the noise will be over in a minute.”

“And if a bomb dropped, you couldn’t see it.”

The jet engine sound punched through Mach-1 as they passed what was presumably the central power source of the car wash. Thicker foam was squirted over the windshield and was swirled about by mechanical mops.

“We wouldn’t know if the whole world ended, Mom.”

“Don’t be silly.”

The mops retracted and went lifeless. The conveyor pulled them through curtains of water, like so many thin rainstorms, rinsing away the last of the foam.

Then the car lurched to a stop. The conveyor ride was over. The machinery clunked, hummed, and went dormant. His mother popped the car back into Drive and they rolled forward. Bright sun spilled through the freshly cleaned windshield. Mother and son squinted together into daylight.

As vision came back, they saw the rubble that had once been the parking lot. Asphalt had crumbled like so many Oreo cookies. No cars rested here, and there were none on the road. There were no buildings, and only a curlicue of black smoke on the horizon.

“See honey? No monsters. No more bombs. There was nothing to worry about. Nothing changed.”

She squeezed his shoulder, and drove them onto the scorched remains of the highway.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Development of a First Line

When I was in high school the opening line might have read:

“The fat, red-bearded train worker struggled with the wooden boxes, shoving them with his shoulder until the last one was in place.”

Sometime between high school and now, the opening line became:

“Stanlauf pushed the last of the crates into place.”

It’s funny to think about that. He went from a couple of physical descriptors to a name. The name suggests familiarity; you know Stanlauf, while you don’t know the fat, red-bearded train worker. I’ve traded an image (and verbiage) for a suggestion.

In college I definitely would have told you where Stanlauf was. The “train worker” in the high school version hinted. In the contemporary opening line, though? He could be anywhere. The literary sense in me tingles a little. It suggests there will be intrigue. You’ll wonder where he is, as well as what is in those crates and why he’s doing it. Or maybe you won’t asked any of those questions, and I’ll just use the information for fodder later as the story comes together.

Sometime between the me of thirty minutes ago and the me of now, the line reads:

“Stanlauf loaded the last of the crates.”

Omit needless words. Omit needless words.

Though I wonder if “pushed” isn’t more active than “loaded.” “Pushed” is more physically precise; you can load a thing a dozen ways, while pushing is one of them.

But “loaded” suggests something. You don’t load crates into your bedroom. You load them in a few specific loading-friendly places. Like loading docks. “pushed” doesn’t suggest setting as well as “loaded.”

Is it just that way in my head? Will readers pick up on that? The influences either way are weak. The ensuing paragraph will cement things anyway. Have I changed so much as a writer, or have I only shuffled around the traits that don’t matter?

I wonder if these questions will change the writer that I will be in thirty minutes, or in thirty years.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: TheBrightness’s Avatar

PMs were sent. Who was that in TheBrightness's avatar? He was too old to be from Twilight and too poorly dressed to be famous, unless it was an ironic Paparazi photo. Was he Latino? chegvra420 was asked, since he had Che for an avatar and at 2:00 AM on a message board that can become a credential. He didn't know (he was also a she). Was he American? RonaldMcFondle thought he was Simon Bolivar. Goatcemaster then googled Bolivar and made the suggestion that that suggestion was stupid. Whoever was in the avatar was too pudgy. Around 3:00 somebody suggested it was a musician. Nobody listened to Mexican music so they couldn't say for sure. The instant TheBrightness logged on he was hammered with forcedly casual requests. Was the guy in his avatar Santana? "i don't know who santana is," he replied. "thats carlos from my walmart. hes nobody special. i thought that was fitting. im not fooling anybody."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Measure of Love

"How much do you love me?"

She demanded this of every suitor. And because her dowry and bosom were second to none in the land, many came to describe their love. They climbed the ebon stairs of her ivory tower and beheld her gilded throne.

A knight bent at her knee. He clasped his breastplate.

"I love you with such force that my heart nearly bursts through this steel."

He was ejected two seconds later.

A biologist bent at her knee. He pointed to his forehead.

"Do you see this?"

"Yes," she said, though she was looking at something else outside the window.

"I love you as much as the contents of this, firing very brightly."

He was ejected two seconds later.

A cynic bent at her knee. He did nothing special with his hands but had a cavalier smirk.

"I love you as much as you wish me to."

He was ejected ten seconds later.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: “What is Halloween in The States?” –Interviewer from EU PS Blog

Halloween just is. It is one of those rare holidays, like Christmas, that illuminates the entire month with its colors and festivities. It’s decorations for your locker, office and front door. It is free candy to people who are young enough for one night, but it’s also terrible pranks for people who are terrible enough on another night. It is movie theatres bubbling up with scary and spooky films, and television chasing after with serial killer marathons. It is a childish grin carved into a pumpkin with a candle for a brain, but it is also the sexiest witch you have ever seen. It is toilet paper mummies and $10,000 designer costumes. It is a myriad of externals, many commercial and many personal, all desperately trying to get something out of yourself that you are not supposed to have and that, even in a post-ironic society, you’re normally not allowed to express. It is the night when a disfigured girl becomes Dora the Explorer and looks like every other kid behind her plastic mask. It is the week when the people who have irrationally and faithfully adored the shadowy story finally feel like they’ve come home. It is a place as much as it is a time, and it makes no sense, and I’m very glad we’ve got it in stock.
Counter est. March 2, 2008