Okay, so the award for the world’s most infrequent, erratic, and unreliable writer goes to……………….Ty McDuffie.
Over the last several months, I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls, e-mails, tweets, etc. about where have I been, what have I been working on, wasting my gift etc….and after many sessions of banging my head against the wall, I had to come to grips with this one simple fact: If I don’t start taking my gift of writing seriously, and working at it…….I’m going to lose it.
Also, I learned that it’s okay NOT to be modest all the time. I think I’m pretty good at this writing thing. (The PROOFREADING thing…not so much.) It’s OK to think and say so. I’m sure that Michael Jordan never said, “I think that I’m kind of okay at this basketball thing.” I shouldn’t either. However, I think, that was always just an easy escape hatch for me. In the words of the wise man Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes, “It’s easy to meet people’s expectations of you if you keep them low.” If I keep expectations low, I never have to do the work to get better, because whatever I produce is always good enough. Plus, I’ll never have to worry about getting my feelings hurt if someone doesn’t like it, because after all, I didn’t put any real effort into it anyway. But, if I don’t set expectations high, even in my own mind, then what do I have to aspire to? How can I possibly get better?
Now, what I ain’t gon’ do is promise that i won’t still be infrequent, erratic, and unreliable, but I WILL promise that i won’t be as bad as I have been.
Anyway, enjoy the sidebar below, and please let me know what you think. It’s an intro to Marcus, another character from a book that I’m working on. It’s kind of dark, but hey, the Muse wants what the Muse wants, right?
Rock Hill, S.C.…
The aching joints attaching the flashing red neon arrow to its perch above the doorway of the nightclub squeak and whistle their disagreement as the arrow swings slowly back and forth in the cold, rainy night’s air; their charge boldly pointing to its target like some kind of modern day “X” on a newfangled treasure map. Across the street, in one of the rooms of the abandoned hotel, “drapes” made of discarded plastic shower curtains are drawn back; push pins holding them in place; allowing the red pulsing light of the sign to meander in and out at will.
Sometimes, the cold air bullies it’s way through the gaps around the edges of the window, giving birth to cold, little urine scented dust tornadoes that skitter off into the corners of the mostly empty room, carrying little scraps of paper and dust with them. The sound of the rain pelting the window echoes through the space like a million miniature drums signalling the march of some far away conquering army.
The marriage of the smells of rotting pizza and chicken, stale beer, cigar smoke, old sweat and even older urine hang thick in the air… heavy… moist…cold. There is a mattress in the middle of the floor. It’s covered by makeshift blankets that were cobbled together from pieces of plastic and newspapers and held together with pieces of electrical tape.
An old, gray haired man in a blood stained tee shirt and blue jeans sits in a straight backed wooden chair in one corner of the room; just outside of the red light’s path. The handle of a knife hangs loosely from a gaping hole in his chest. His head droops and his mouth hangs open; allowing a warm, thick string of drool to snake its way over his lips and make its way to his lap; to mix with the slowly growing puddle of cooling blood that has oozes from around the knife’s blade. His chest heaves and releases roughly from the effort of breathing and he makes a deep sucking, gurgling sound with each breath. His feet have begun to turn a rotting shade of purple as tightly tied straps of old, faded denim bind him to tightly the chair, cutting off the circulation; allowing no new blood to visit, and no old blood to leave.
A man’s voice creeps through the air from one of the dark corners of the room that the red neon light never reaches:
“Hey, man……you believe in monsters?” it asks. “Hey…do ya?”
The voice pauses for a few moments, as if waiting for the answer that it knew would never come, then continues it’s dialog/monolog/rhetorical questions from inside the shadows.
“Man…I don’t mean like no swamp thing, Freddy Kruger, some man runnin’ ‘round in no hockey mask type of monster, neither. So don’ go getting things all twisted…Them fellas was all fake.” the voice said. “Naw…I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout them summa bitches.”
“I mean, hell, my daddy used to watch th’ ole school monster stuff on the t.v. all th’ time. Yep, th’ old man loved that stuff. Wolfman, creature from th’ lagoon, Dracula…Hell, he loved all of dem ole black n white movies.. But the wolfman…Nah THAT was his boy, ya hear me? He had a thing fo’ that one.”
“You could pretty near guarantee that whenever any monster movies came on on Creature Feature Sundays, we was gonna be watching it. Yep, he’d plop me right down in front of th’ t.v. and there we’d set. I’m talking hours, man. He used ta make me watch it with him on the all th’ time. YEah, I ‘member Creature Feature Sundays. You ever watch that stuff, man?”.
There was another pause, longer and deeper this time. Accented with a fresh puff of smoke.
He continued. “Hell, you know what?” he said. “ I never much thought much about this but,….while I was just talkin’ to you ‘bout it….it just popped in my head….was all the famous wolfmen named Michael?.” He scratched at his head at the thought.
He continued to talk. “ I can’t ‘member no famous wolfmen named James, or David or nothin’. You had Michael Landon…” he counted on his fingers for emphasis, “ …Then you had Michael Fox….Well…I guess that don’ really matter no way ‘cause like I said, I ain’t talkin’ bout them Hollywood monsters. I mean th’ REAL ones. You believe in ‘em?”
After a few more moments of silence, a sigh escapes from the darkened corner of a room, chased shortly thereafter by its owner; a short, bloated, Black man in a dirty pair of blue mechanic’s overalls and a tee shirt. The top half of his overalls were undone and its arms had been tied in a knot in front of his waist. Across the chest of the shirt is a picture of three cds followed by a plus sign and two peanuts with the caption “CDs NUTS!” written underneath it.
He stops just inches from his captive and bends down to him; their noses almost touching; his hot, moist breath seeping down onto the man’s face.
“I guess you don’t feel much like talkin’ bout it right now, huh? I ‘spose not, not with that big ole hole in your chest.” He tapped the wooden handle of the knife. “ Hell, I wouldn’t want to talk movies neither, I s’pose. So, I’mma just give you th’ answer, ‘kay man? He moves to his mouth close to the man’s ear and whispers, “They’re real man…I seen one. Yessirrr, I seen it all up close and personal like. I’ll tell ya what’s the truth… they ain’t no fun, neither….” He lifts up his tee shirt to show several small circular burn marks randomly dotting his chest and flashes a near toothless grin at the man in the chair. “Naw man, they ain’t no fun at all. By all that God loves, they ain’t.”
He stands up straight, dragging one of his fingers through the string of drool coming from the man’s mouth and plays with it between two fingers, like a mechanic looking at a finger full of used oil for metal shavings before drawing a small bloody cross on the man’s forehead. He pulls a silver flask out of his pocket, unscrews the cap, and takes a quick swig. He screws the cap back on and flips the flask over his shoulder with a thud.
“Yep. You know…” he says, “that’s why….I ‘spose I have to kill you, Daddy.” and draws a small bloody cross on the man’s forehead.