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Sidebar 3 (I think)

Okay, so I’m going to make just one more introduction to a character from the book that I’m working on.  Like I’ve warned before, THIS particular book is a LOT darker than what I usually write, but I’m finding it kind of fun to weave this lil ole fantasy world, so I’m just letting the chips fall where they may and letting the characters tell me their own stories however they want.  Anyway, give it a read, and as always, feel free to ask me any questions you wish, and  let me know your thoughts.  So, that said, allow me just a few a few moments of your time to introduce……

   SAMUEL

The voice from the man behind the desk wafted like a wisp of smoke through the darkness of the room, “…and in the end…there’s just you and the world that you make.” it said.

The man finished mouthing the last few words of his speech, leaned back in his chair, and enjoyed the last reverberations of his voice bouncing off the walls before it faded into nothingness.

     He looked down at the cell phone resting on his desk.  “Ten minutes, thirty- nine seconds.  Now that’s pert-near perfect.” he said as he lifted it from in his hand.  With his free hand, he pecked at the phone’s screen; resetting  the timer to match this newly established record and then placed it back on the desk; leaving the timer’s “start” button winking its  bright, sickly, green eyed welcome.

     As he sat, a voice from the other side of the door lurched it’s way through the newborn silence of the room. “Sir…It’s almost time.” it said.

     The voice stabbed painfully at the brain of the man behind the desk like a barrage of gas soaked, flaming toothpicks, forcing his usually carefully controlled face to allow a grimace to claw its way to the surface.   He glared thru the darkness of the office towards the door and swallowed  hard against the bitterness creeping up his throat.   When he finally spoke, his response unwillingly  rode his slow, southern drawl across his teeth and tumbled into the empty space of his office with the stubbornness of a child’s tantrum.

“…I’ll… be…out.”  he said.

    He splayed his hands on his desk, pushed his chair back, and stood up mechanically; his long, spindly frame unfolding slowly like some man sized spider coming out of its hole.   A shock of  familiar pain worked its way through him as he bent his body upright.  The pain had been pretty much a constant over the years, and so it had earned its place as his own personal demon; a demon that needed to be exorcised daily with large amounts of Jack and Coke.  On exceptionally bad days though, the demon resisted a little more than normal and would require a sacrifice with a bit more….”kick” to quiet it down.  Fortunately, today wasn’t one of those days.

     He reached down and opened one of the drawers of the desk to reveal a pile of disheveled papers.  He shuffled the pile around and pulled a small, silver flask of his special “holy water” from underneath, and drank until the demon was sated or at least placated for the time being.  He stood up straight, grabbed the book from the cluttered desktop, placed it under his arm,  and made his way to the door.  On his way, he stopped briefly to glance at his reflection in the mirror; pausing long enough to zip up the  long black robe that draped off  his shoulders until its collar was tight around his neck.  He ran his hands down along his sides, making sure to smooth out any eye drawing bulges protruding from underneath it.  As he looked, the man in the mirror smirked back at him.  The man outside the mirror stepped away, grabbed his cell phone from the desk, then pulled at the doorknob.  He stepped out of the darkened office, and into brightness of the long connecting hallway.

     That same voice again…. “ ‘S’cuse me…s’cuse me…..Pastor Sam?…” , it squeaked.

     He had been called many things over the years; zealot, healer, snake oil salesman, prophet, man of God, predator, leader, and hypocrite, but for some reason, that name, that…. “Pastor Sam”, was like fingernails on his mental chalkboard.  Just hearing it filled him with a seething, roiling disgust for these people…these…disgusting throngs of  “latcher ons” waiting for him to deliver some shards of wisdom, some magical recipe  from “ The Book”; waiting for him to attach some sort of meaning to their meaningless existence.  “Leeches…’dem bastard ass freakin’leeches.”, he thought.

    He kept walking…ignoring the voices that seemed to constantly tug at  him from the edges of the hallway, all the while trying to squash the sudden urge to turn around and “lay hands” on the neck of every piss ant calling his name.

    He smiled.   “Piss ants…..Now, that’s funny…” he thought and the smile coming a bit easier to his face.  He kept repeating it to himself,  “Piss…ants! Piss…ants!…Piss… ants!” as he walked, timing it perfectly with every step like some herky jerky internal metronome.

       He let his long spidery legs eat away ravenously at the hallway’s red carpeted distance; allowing himself to  reach the door at the end of the hall quickly.  He stopped for a moment, making one last adjustment to the bulges jutting out from underneath his  robe.  Satisfied that everything was in order, he reached for the door, and turned the knob.

         He glanced down at his waist one more time.  “Bulky ass bomb.”, he thought as he pressed the glowing start button on his cell phone timer and stepped onto the pulpit.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on March 27, 2014 in fiction, Uncategorized, writiing

 

Sidebar 2 (NOT Daddy’s Doing Hair stuff)

Ok…So after sharing the introduction for one of my characters from one of the OTHER books that I’m working on, I  got a lot of requests for a little more of it…so I decided to share another intro.   (I think I’m SLOWLY gaining confidence in my writing and am becoming more open to sharing.  So THANK YOU to all of you that offered some encouragement….It is GREATLY appreciated.)

Anyway, as I mentioned last time I shared from this particular book, it’s kind of (ok….very) dark.   So be forewarned…it ain’t my usual happy go lucky writing style….

The first chapter introduces several of the characters that play major roles in the book.  (I have to be honest with ya…even though it’s kind of dark, the concept is really cool)

That said….here’s…….

TREY

First there is dreaming….

…sun filled dreams; wrapped in smiles granted by a high school sweetheart mixed with an awkward first kiss from some crush of a million years ago.  This is where Trey found himself;  sleeping a sleep so restful that he was subconsciously secure in the fact that when he’d wake  up, no one would believe just how good his sleep was.

Then there is pain…

The pain is a white hot, fist clenching, teeth grinding  sort of pain that snatches Trey out of his fluffy, pillow clouded dream with a start and flings him headlong into his  new nightmarish, flashing neon washed reality.  In this new found reality, there’s a man leaning over him from his bedside, slowly forcing a ten inch serrated utility knife through the bones of his chest.  Trey can hear the sickening sound of the bones giving way with a muffled crunch as the knife bullies its way through; guided by the hands and weight of its sick, demented driver.

    Sweat drips off the man’s forehead and falls to Trey’s face in thick, hot splashes.  A few of them meander their way into his eyes; burning as they mix with his own tears as they force their way out.  His assailant becomes fuzzy…

    Trey lashes out; letting his hands flay wildly at his attacker; groping for any semblance of a defense against him.  His attempts fall short as his hands can do little more  than claw at his attackers clothes.  His attacker is bigger than him….stronger than him and the blood squirting from Trey’s chest is taking what little strength that he had with it; oozing away, ounce by sticky, red ounce.

    In the midst of this, Trey suddenly realizes that these are his dying moments. His nostrils begin to burn with the inevitability of his own death mingled with the smell of his own hot urine as it begins to escape him.

    Trey tries to force sound through his throat; to scream for help… to spit a curse of eternal damnation to the worst pits of Hell for this maniac, but speech is no longer his friend, and the words won’t visit his lips.  The intruder’s knife tickles Trey’s spine from the inside and his heart is seemingly forced to pump blood everywhere except to his muscles; his throat included.

    His mind’s screams for help become translated into the sounds of chokes and gargling as his own blood betrays him;  flooding his throat with warm, sticky death..   His will to fight begins to fade as the fog in his mind simultaneously begins to spread.  Not even the fresh screams from his daughter’s room down the hall can stop it.

Finally there is darkness……………….

 
17 Comments

Posted by on February 5, 2014 in death, fiction, Uncategorized, writiing

 

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Sidebar

Ok…This is TOTALLY not what I want to showcase on this blog, but someone asked me for an example of another style of my writing.  So, I decided to post a bit of a blurb from one of the other books that I’m writing.  This excerpt is from one called Entries.  It’s an introduction to one of the main characters. It’s decidedly darker than what I usually share with anybody, but it does show another side to how I write.

I’m REALLY interested to know what you think, so please leave a comment…good, bad or indifferent.  So, without any more delay…….I introduce :

LISA

42 – The number of days since the 9 year old girl disappeared on her walk from school.

41  –  The number of days since the rapist had gotten what he wanted from her.

38 – The number of days since he bashed her head in with a hammer so she wouldn’t tell….

37 –   The number of days since he put her in a hole underneath a bridge and threw shovels of cold dirt in her face.

12 – The number of days since they found her there.

 3 – The number of hours since they had placed the girl back in the ground, and the woman had gotten the strength to move on.

___________________________

    Lisa Grinesford stared up from the bottom of the stairs as if she was waiting for some sign that it was okay to change her mind to come bounding down towards her.  Nothing came.  In her mind, she had been preparing for this since the fifth night that Michelle didn’t come home; trying to mentally perform  a delicate balance of having the parent’s hope that their  child would come home with the  hopelessness of preparing if she didn’t.  In the end, it was all for nothing.  Her strength waned and eventually, inevitably,  she  tumbled headlong into the hopelessness of what had become her reality; a reality that was delivered to her as a late night present; adorned with flashing red lights,  wrapped in a blue uniform,  and that mechanically recited,  “I’m sorry, but…” on cue just to tie it all together.  She didn’t even have to pull a string.

    Michelle would never come down those stairs again, she thought…still staring up at what seemed to her to be an endless staircase.  With that thought, the bloody, oozy wound in her soul that had begun to scab over was ripped back open; exposing the nerves underneath to the cold, biting harshness of what she  had to do…

“…clean the room.  Just clean the freaking room and get on with my life.”

She placed one foot on the bottom step…then the other foot on the next one and slowly, methodically forced her muscles to work….making her way up the stairs.

    Lisa felt her head start to spin, and grabbed at the banister to steady herself; closing her eyes against the world that was suddenly spinning out of control around her.  It had seemed to her like only yesterday that she was teaching a wobbly Michelle how to use the handrail to help her come down the stairs…now she herself was using it to help her make it up them.

   Slowly,  she made her way up the stairs;  turned the knob to Michelle’s room and stepped inside.   She left the door open behind her; a semblance of an  escape route in case the spinning decided to return.  As she shuffled her way  across the room, she noticed the dark space under the bed and thought, “Huh….I guess the REAL monsters weren’t under the bed….”  She cringed at the callous truth of it.

    Lisa sat on the edge of what used to be her daughter’s bed in what used to be her daughter’s room and looked out the window that her daughter used to look out of and stared  blankly into the cold, wintry day outside.  She had barely found the strength to come into the room until now, much less actually make changes, so the room around her had sat largely undisturbed since Michelle disappeared.  Everything was just as she had left it, for the most part, untouched.

    Lisa  wasn’t sure if it was simply a trick of her weary mind, but it seemed as if she moved just right on the bed, she could catch whiffs of the overly sweet smelling scented lotions that Michelle would slather all over herself after her baths.  Lisa allowed her head to hang slightly and closed her eyes; drinking the smells in; trying hard not to scare them away.   Her dark curly hair draped her face in an unruly shroud of dark frills allowing only the tips of her ears to peek out.

     She didn’t  sit there alone…there were demons there with her.

     The demons sat there on the bed next to her.  They had come to her in the days right after they found Michelle’s body; gently dripping their jaded opinions into her ears like warm, thick honey.   Over time, their voices had become more desperate and louder; gaining strength with each passing day.   Now, they screamed at her almost constantly; their honey laced words replaced with a venomous concoction of gall and vinegar; of hate and regret; constantly buzzing in her ear like a cacophony of blow flies around a rotting corpse.

     Their buzzing filled her head.

      So,  there sat Lisa; the pale faced, dark headed, frail, specter of a woman that she had become over the last month, surrounded by stuffed pink bunnies, giant teddy bears, Barbies and unicorns.  There was nothing that could have looked more out of place in that room than she did.  Well, except…maybe the gun that she had rested on the bed next to her.

“Pick it up.” the choir in her mind  sang.

She picked the gun up…and placed it in her mouth.

 
17 Comments

Posted by on January 30, 2014 in fiction, Uncategorized, writiing

 

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Filling up the Holes

Tees Bday Post largeTHIS POST WAS TEE APPROVED…(but without her approval)
(Oh…and she MEANT that I Was 29…not that SHE was 29.  That would be strange.)  

 Over the years since I had my daughters, I’ve often thought about life, death, legacy,  what’s really important and deep stuff like that.  (Hey…I’m a deep kinda guy.)…but, it would always leave me with a BANGIN’ headache and no answers,  so I would kind of just place it on the back burner until another situation came up that would put me in one of my Prince listening, dark room sitting, meaning of life pondering moods. 

One of those times came when my brother died almost a year ago and it left me with one big question that I’ve been internally debating ever since.

What exactly is legacy?

     It ain’t as simple as one would think. Well, it kinda IS, but  there’s a lot of stuff that muddies the subject for us.  It took me a LONG time to sort through it, but I think I can bring some clarity.  Through it all, I hope that  I can help some of you benefit from my ignorance so that you don’t have to go through it.  So hang with me, and I’ll try to shed some light on it or, more colorfully,   like one of my friends from my Air Force days used to say, “…throw some dirt in that hole”.  

     What I discovered is that as men, we often place such a huge value on providing for our families financially and materially, that we leave  ourselves with almost no energy to provide for them mentally and spiritually.   We sometimes worry so much about getting that hot, new toy,  or the latest Jordans, or the newest video game system (Okay…maybe that one was more for ME than the kids…but you get the picture.  DON’T JUDGE ME!)  when in fact, our time and attention is the MOST important thing that we can do for our daughters.  I now look at it like this…”If I can buy it, it will  eventually be useless…buy if I can INSTILL it, it will last forever…..You can’t run out of character.”

So in a nutshell, be careful not to fall into the trappings of giving your daughters STUFF.  YOUR time is one of the few things that no one else can give her and that can never be replaced.  Simply put, once it’s gone, there’s no getting it back.  That makes it valuable beyond measure.

When I first adopted the girls, we would sometimes go to a coffee shop together just to hang out.  I would get some kind of foo foo latte or something, and the girls would get what we affectionately called a “moo- moo steamer” or, plainly put, a steamed milk with flavoring in it.  We would sit there and I would read a newspaper and they would  pretend to read as they sat across from me.  One of my biggest regrets in regards to them, is not doing it more often.  I can remember looking across the table at them as they “read” but gosh…it sure would be nice to have a LOT more memories of it, but, as I said…you cant get time back.

So, the keys?  Share your time, and make good use of the time you share with them.  Here are a few ideas that I think would be great to do with your daughters.

1) Leave work  sometimes and pick her up from school “just cause”.  Go see a cartoon at the movies or maybe just go for a nice long walk and talk about life.

2)  Deliver flowers to her school for no reason.

3) Have lunch with her at school.  (That is IF you can still fit in those little tables….Let me tell ya, years of eating like the government would be making it illegal tomorrow made sitting in them chairs one  hecukva experience for yours truly.)

4) TELL her how important she is to you as often as you can.

5) Take her fishing.  (I wish I had pictures of when I first took my girls fishing on the pier.  It was HIGH-LARRY-US  and they absolutely LOVED it.  They STILL love to go.) Yes, I DO know how to spell hilarious…but EVERYTHING is better when spelled phonetically.

6) Take funny faced pictures with them.

7) Two words:  Pillow Fights.

8) Take her  kite flying. My daughters STILL talk about how I took them kite flying.  To them , it was the most amazing thing in the world, but  if I describe it, I’d call it “Daddy running around a field with a kite in his hand while they held the string.”

9) Hold her hand as often as you can.  There will be a time when you wont be able to anymore.

10) Listen to her.  Even though she may be little…she still wants to know that she’s important enough to get your attention.

In my mind, the litmus test is this:  “When I’m no longer here…and my girls are describing me to their children….what words will they use?”    I think of that…and then act accordingly.

BAM!  That’s some high quality dirt that I  just threw in that hole!

 

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So Many Questions, So Little Time…

Fat Ethan Approved

Hey…I COULD tell you that I never look for advice, but that would be a lie.  That said……

Over the years, there were several instances in which my daughters would come to me and tell me that other students in their classes were cheating.   EVERY time, I would tell them basically the same thing,” It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing.  WE DON’T CHEAT.  If you don’t get as good a grade as them, that just means that you need to study harder.  We go about things the right way. ”

But now I wonder, if by holding them to a higher standard than some of their classmates, was I tilting the playing field against them?  Was I forcing them to play the game according to a set of rules that very few others were playing by?

I mean, I understand the lofty goal of taking the high road, doing the right thing, manning (or in their case “girling”) up, being a stand-up kind of guy so on and so forth, but is that type of idealism DEAD?  Is it wrong to even teach it?

Is it just me, or does it seem that cheating has become more and more a part of the American mindset over the years?  Is it still true that cheaters never win?  Or have the cheaters taken over the game to the point where we all have to cheat at it just to compete?

Case in point, let’s look at all of the cheating scandals that have come to light over the last couple of years:

1) Harvard:  http://nyti.ms/1i4FZ3N
2) Air Force: http://cnn.it/1m87TLX

Sure, these people got CAUGHT, but the bigger story lies in the question of whether or not they only STARTED cheating in their current situations, or is it more likely that they cheated to get TO that situation?  How about those that didn’t get caught.?  I’m sure that if we knew the whole story, the numbers would indicate that it is much more widespread (and accepted?) than we thought.  I mean nowadays, cheating people out of money is almost considered a viable biz practice.

Does this lead to a bigger conversations regarding cheating within/between large corporations?

Anyway, I was just curious as to what you guys think of this?  Is it just my imagination?

( Sorry about all the questions today.  Chalk it up to the 5 cups of coffee coursing through my veins atop and sending my natural ADHD into overdrive.)

 

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My knowledge for the day.

The rule is that I’m going to keep this one short n sweet.  Well, actually, it’s more like a suggestion…’cause, well… you know how I am.

ANYWAY, my mother once told me “You can learn from a fool….you just need to know what to throw away and what to keep.” , So I always try to learn something from everybody that I interact with.  Some make it easier than others.

So,  yesterday I was having a conversation about love and acceptance and the like…and my friend broke it down to me as simply as I have ever heard it.  She simply said :

“I love you should  never have “buts”…it should  only have “ands”.”

Think about it.

See?  Short n sweet.

 

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St. John vs The Bootlegger

I know that the majority of my writing is about fatherhood, but I’m going to devote this post to motherhood….more specifically, my mother.

Now before we get into this, let me explain (again) the geography  of my upbringing.  On one side of my house was a church.  It wasn’t just ANY Church.  It was St. John Missionary Baptist Chuhch.  (Yeah…I know I misspelled “chuhch”, but that’s how we say it in the country.  Say it slow…you’ll get it.)   If I sit quietly, my mind will still let me hear the sound  of all of the heels tapping against that old wooden floor when the choir sang.  Even though I’ve moved on in life, have lived in MANY places and have been a member of many churches, I still call that place my home church. (See? Even without thinking about it….u said it like “chuhch, didn’t you?  Just admit it!)

Now, on the OTHER side of my house was a bootlegger.  (For those that are unfamiliar with the term, a bootlegger is one that either  a) makes homemade liquor or b) sells homemade liquor that they buy from someone else .  I’m sure, that in some places, there may have been an option “c) Buys liquor from the stores and resells it”, but hey, we were in a poor area and selling the fancy, schmancy, high highfalutin’  rust free, store bought stuff with its FDA safety regulations and quality inspections and things like that took MONEY.  Besides….iron is good for ya, right?  So the rust made it healthy.  ( I have a similar philosophy about how you can eat as much as you want and as long as you eat it fast, the calories cant stick. too….sue me.)

So, on any given day, I could either see a bunch of staggering drunks drowning their hopelessness in  mason jars filled with homemade liquor; tinted red with flakes of rust from some back woods still or I could see people  filtering into the church to look for hope when they were otherwise surrounded by bleakness.

It all painted a pretty curious picture of the world for a kid like me.

But to my mother, it was pretty cut and dry.  If I wasn’t suffering from Ebola, scurvy or rickets ( And you thought I wasn’t paying attention in Health class, DIDN’T YOU, Mr Ramseur???) ………..I would be going to church.  It wasn’t  JUST Sunday morning church either.  There was Sunday School, Sunday Service,  prayer meetings, revivals, Vacation Bible School, Youth Choir practice, usher board meetings (She was also the president of the Usher Board at one time, so guess who also had to usher?) ,and so on and so forth.   So, church attendance was pretty much the rule of the house.  And try as I might, I never figured out how to fake ricketts, so I found myself in the pews…….a lot.  Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t always pay attention….and sometimes, being that we lived DIRECTLY next door, I could sneak out and go home for extended periods of time and sneak back in without her knowing

But the fact of the matter was, Mama, in the only way that she knew how, ( and in a wisdom that she didn’t even know she had) was exposing me to hope when there was nothing but sheer hopelessness just on the other side of the house.

Mama was fighting for us…and we didn’t even know it.

All those cumulative weeks, and weeks, and WEEKS, and W-E-E-K-S of church that I was FORCED into gave me a belief that even though my CIRCUMSTANCES said that  I was poor, that they didn’t control who or what I could become.  It helped me to understand that even though many of those near us had given up, that I could still have hope for a brighter tomorrow, and when tomorrow came, if it wasn’t brighter, that I could continue to make THAT today’s tomorrow brighter.  She taught me pride that even if I didn’t have the best clothes,  (remind me to tell you about pants with rings around the ankles), that I could keep what I had nice, clean and pressed and be proud just the same.    It taught me that even though there was a den of despair just a ditch jump away one side of the house, that as long as I had faith, and if I put my time in,  that I could strive to be something greater than that; that I didn’t have to subscribe to the hopelessness there.

Faith can  trump common sense, and sometimes…you should LET it.

I have to say that I’m grateful for where I’m from.  I’m grateful that I had a mother that forced me to see a better way; not BECAUSE of me or because of what I could do,  but DESPITE me and irregardless to what I did.

Now,  I’ll admit…I do find myself drinking out of a mason jar from time to time, and I’ll even “pour a sip out for the brothers that ain’t here”,  and let me tell ya…………it’s some of the BEST iced tea I’ve ever tasted.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 23, 2014 in children, fatherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

 

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