Flash-Fiction Friday! CLARITY AT 30,000 FEET

Insignificance.

I can’t tell you how much I love it.

Well… ‘love’ it in the sense that I get off on the look on some idiot’s face when they ask the inevitable ‘why,’ as I slip my hands around their throat or slide my knife into their liver. The why never matters, not in those moments, only the cognition that it is real, and happening now. Right now; when the barrel is pressed to your temple and my finger’s on the trigger, and I’m about to play God with your pathetic life… Well, the Devil’s in the details, as they say. But angels and demons? They tell me most people are a little of each; salt and pepper, black and white, black and blue, ah, but you look so good in red, my dear.

Mhm, but I’ve been to thirty-thousand feet a hundred times in half a dozen countries, and I’m telling you now; there is no heaven. Just more space. And you, the dust particle that floated through… space. 

If there were a God, believe you me, I’d have been smote by my own actions long ago, and the Devil’d have collected his son for an eon of tooth-gnashing, bone-grinding fun n’ flames. No angel ever took his higher might upon himself to stay my hand, and the only demons skittering around in the dark are the ones in my disgruntled, deranged, and disjointed head. The things that go ‘bump’ in the night are generally cat-burglars and home-invasion rapists. Either of which I’d dispatch none too quickly. How else would they learn from their mistake?

Don’t get me wrong… I enjoy the concept of my own insignificance just as much, it just doesn’t prevent me from being more careful. In fact, it probably makes it worse. The concept that, with just one wrong move I could end up on the cadaver’s slab, cold meat with no more liquor on my lips. That’s what gives me the rush. That moment when you’re high as fuck on adrenalin and you’re straddling the knife edge between consciousness and annihilation, mmm…

It’s like that moment when you’re on another hum-drum God-forsaken flight from nowhere’sville to couldn’tgiveafuck and you deign to glance out the window as you’re moving over the freeway at five-hundred-miles-an-hour with the roar of the engines shaking your lungs and the tremor of wind-shear rattling your bones and the world hurling away at speed, and in an instant, all the cars and minivans and trucks have become little more than bugs running frantically for little bits of whatever and you know each one has a ten-dollar-latte and boss who pays them too little, a spouse who pays them no mind, kids who scream incessantly, and an affair they’re neck-deep-in-the-shit to get to. And for a moment you may wonder who’s going to a funeral, or nursing a heart-decimating break-up, or about to put the business end of a revolver in their mouth. Who’s laughing… who’s crying… and from the new clarity of your lofty view… you can see that none of really matters at all.

Not. At. All.

You’re in your first-class seat, whole, and at normal ‘proportion’ for this thing we call ‘life.’ But below you, the ants are scrambling, and while your conscious mind ‘knows,’ it understands, that those are real people down there… But you can see now… they’re just ants. And God’s an angry kid with an ant farm… and a magnifying glass. It’s not the Devil who’s going to burn you.

So you lean back in your airline seat and press the call button, because the only thing that matters now is a mini-bottle. Because… because at any moment now you could be doing a five-hundred-mile-an-hour belly-flop into the side of mountain with jet fuel melting the flesh of your contemptable bones.

Better make it a double.

–excerpt from my upcoming novel “NIGHTBOYS.” This character, Jynx, is a psychopathic assassin, also something of a nihilist.
 

Writers/Poets, Don’t Despair!

Happy weekend, my fellow Wordsmiths! I hope you’re all doing well and good, and I’m here to remind you: you rock!

So… I suffered a bout of ‘writer’s block’ then wrote three short stories in one day! It’s always nice to get over the hump, yeah? And how do we do it? One word at time, one step at a time, one thought at a time… sure. But then I was, by chance, looking over some of my poetry and had to laugh at myself. A chance look at pangolins on my Twitter feed brought to mind the poem I wrote about pangolins, though not really, it’s about shielding one’s heart really. I also have “poems” on kiwi, waterbears, barreleye, and the Loch Ness monster, not to mention all those fairies and demons…

My point being that, it doesn’t have to be the end-all be-all of your novel’s ins-and-outs and character arc and plot development and whatnot. So long as you’re writing, you’re doing what you’re meant to do. It doesn’t have to be ground-breaking, earth-shattering, eye-opening greatness all the time. Just be consistent. Stretch the muscles of your mind, reach for the mundane, find beauty in simplicity, but above all, listen to yourself. You know what to do.

 ODE TO AN ODD CREATURE

Pangolin, oh pangolin,
it’s easy for you
to protect yourself,
shy creature
in armored hide.
Hide, yes,
in hallowed ground
burrowed in deep,
familiar with the dirt.
It’s a cool place
to bide awhile,
until hunger drives you out.
Pangolin, oh pangolin,
why couldn’t I have been you?
Shied in armored hide.

–excerpt from the upcoming compilation “VOMIT & Verbiage” due out in 2020, copyright 2018

Flash-Fiction Friday! FIREFLIES AND MOONSHINE

It was going to be something of a puzzle, she was not a physician after all.  A few A & P classes were all she could boast in this respect. Her talents had been better suited elsewhere. Her grandmother though, had taught her to sew, and that too would come in useful on a day like today.

She had learned much at her grandmother’s side, cooking and singing, chanting and cleaning. She could still smell her grandmother’s perfume, so reminiscent of softer days. Stories by the fire with a mouthful of cherry pie heady with brandy and a cinnamon surprise. She had learned of her ancestors and relatives she’d never met, but with lifetimes of color and mystery and grandpa’s spiced tobacco. She reminded herself to call her mother as she continued to work: end to end as it matched up.

Her grandfather had talked of old ways and old religions, of hard work and harder times. She remembered how her tiny smooth had fit is his roughened but gentile one, of how he smelled of his woolen sweater and how there always seemed a glint of something secret behind his spectacle-glasses. She recalled bonfires and moonshine, lightening bugs and barbecue, Kool-Aid pickles and sassafras tea. She had always tended the chickens whereas her brother minded the goats.

Now though her brow began to furrow, she was no physician after all. A piece here, a piece there, this was something of a puzzle. The pieces did not quite fit, and she would regret making a mess of things at this juncture. Everything had to be right, and even the candles were lit. She salted the bread and in mouth it went. She set to sewing with a whistling tune her father knew, and the cat at her foot began to mew.

After a time, she stood back and tried to admire her work. Her grandmother would have disapproved. She frowned, and knew, this at least would have to do. From hand to wrist and finger and thumb, it was not quite right, but for time, she had none. She scooped up the cat and sleeked back its fur, but it yowled in protest. The cat would not be fed, as all she needed was its head.

A dagger and a stitch, a splash of moonshine and a willow switch, was all that was left to bring her beau back from death. She grinned horribly in the candle light as he tried to rise, his mouth sewn closed and needles stuck through his eyes. His heart near her breast, in a Mason jar chest, was her very best prize. The machete that slain him hung near the hearth, and the grin on her face shown little mirth.

“Hello, lover,” she growled, then stabbed a finger at his chest where the cat’s head now rest, “I hope you are suitably cold.” She motioned this way, and to follow and obey was his only recourse, as a zombie slave, was he, of course.

–excerpt from “VOMIT & Diction,” available at Amazon. I take “breaks” from my novel-writing using writer’s prompts and other forms of inspiration. It’s important to keep those mental juggling balls in the air.

Poem: Helium Fools

 They said my balloon
was filled with helium.
Fools.
I filled my balloon
with wishes and dreams.
And for a time it soared
high above my head,
my happy companion
on a tenuous thread.
Some days it bobbed
and sagged a little, sad.
But then I’d fill it again
with hopes and prayers.
I stood on the corner
with my round balloon,
stuffed full of dreams.
Then you passed by,
and smiled and waved.
The light changed:
walk or stay?
I look up at my balloon
and let go.

–excerpt from “VOMIT & Diction.” Don’t keep your dreams on a string.

Poem: Lady Sans Marci

 He fell off the train late in the eve
Turned to the west and followed his feet
Picked up his pace, ere come the night,
So I lent him a glow to follow on sight.
 
The brush soon turned thicker
And the brambles they did sticker;
Cause his breath to com’st foul and hone,
But he followed closer e’re where I shone.
 
His face it was handsome enough to be sure,
And his body for certain be any maid’s cure;
So I danced and I spun, full flicker and sprite,
To engender him nearer and nearer I might.
 
I gave him a glance from my Prussian-blue eyes,
A lilting of a song, my poetic tongue’s guise,
‘Twas my ruby red wine, my sensual lips
But to give him my mouth, he wanted a kiss!
 
I tarried him there, ‘neath an old oak tree,
Beside the lake where so merry did we meet,
And into his arms, there under the moon,
“I love you,” he said, and nary too soon.
 
He wove me a ring, of ivy and vine,
And unbeknownst to him, I too wov'ed mine.
Our garb was no match for our tongue’s wits,
So too was our waving and staving of hips.
 
He looked up at me as if from a bower,
My true love, my divine, he gave me a flower,
And swore now that we were together
I would love no one other, not ever.
 
But lo! And oh! How my wicked eyes glow,
He had no idea how I wished him to go!
Alas, sweet prince, my darling, my own,
Make no demands till you know what I know!
 
I kissed him once, twice, thrice,
Be careful my dear, not all fairies are nice!
“But I gave you my heart,” or so he did whine,
“Now betrothed, do give me thine!”
 
With a switch of my tail and a glimpse of my teeth
He learned to late how I dine on fresh meat!
My heart, pretty lad, you simply shan’t have,
My heart ‘tis wild and free and terribly sad.
 
He was not worthy, my love, of me,
So I left him ashore and left him to be.
As I glow, and I flit, though this forest thick,
a fairy without mercy, only more tricks.

–excerpt from my first collection of works “VOMIT & Diction,” copyright 2015. I was ruminating on how oft “fairy tales” are borne of the dark.

Fiction & Shameless Self-Promotion: Letting All Hell Break Loose (on the page)

Good day fellow WordPress persons, and I hope you’re all up for a wonderful weekend!! I woke up to a nice surprise today: I received a “Daily Deviation” recognition from DeviantART(.com) for my story “R & R” which stars my wild and reckless psychopathic assassin character, “Jynx.” I would not have expected this type of writing to have garnered any such note as to warrant “literary” recognition, so I am both flattered and honored.

As much as I would like to post the chapter for you here on WordPress, I’m not sure I “can,” as in, I’m not sure if it’s considered “okay,” as the piece contains adult-language and gory-imagery. However, here is a link if you’re interested: https://www.deviantart.com/laurenipsome/gallery/65713733/Daily-Deviations

I can say, while not perhaps “relevant” to this particular chapter, I have tried, as a writer, to make the prose intellectually stimulating. I am–trying at least–to get the reader to crawl around in the main characters psychopathy, to understand how his dysfunctional brain “works.” As a clinical psychopath, his life as a reckless assassin is, yes, “gory,” but I have made a concerted effort to make it a viable read.

I like anti-heros and otherwise “broken” characters, it’s what makes a character “interesting,” I think. You ask a hundred people if they’d rather be Han Solo or Luke Skywalker, and 99% of them will say: Han Solo, of course! Why? Because he’s complex, runs in the grey-area, is charming and daring, and has a back-story we might actually be interested in. Luke Skywalker’s back-story is vapor-farming and he’s basically a white-bred, goody-goody, fresh face.

So how to make a psychopath interesting? Well, a few psychology classes helps, certainly. Letting the reader crawl around inside his thought-process is a wild ride. Many of his antics are erratic, blood-letting episodes of his profession, but again, I’ve at least tried to give them a “point” to the story, rather than just making it a gore-fest. In fact, most of what he does as his profession is merely eluded to. I like to take readers to a door that leads to their own imagination. It doesn’t work for every story, but it’s a nice change of pace to today’s life of “instant gratification.” It’s not for everyone, but if you enjoy thought-provoking reads, it’s a good time.

You know, a lot of times we writer’s get the “why.” WHY did I decide to write a novel about a psychopathic assassin, and WHY should I write something as looked-down-upon as “gore-porn”??? Well, first lemme say it’s not “gore-pron,” though his antics in the bedroom are questionable at best, it never leads to actual murder. But for the rest, I can only tell you that I had created the character on a whim, but once I got settled into his thought-process, that is where the “magic” started to happen.

I guess there’s a certain fringe group of us who were “Dexter” fans, as Michael Hall said at a “Dexter” convention: “You bunch of sick [expletives]!!”

Does it “need” to be written? Probably not. Could it come back and bite me in the hind-quarters? Possibly. I’d be devastated to know that some sicko found “inspiration” in such work, but I suppose it could happen. But as FICTION I find it entirely harmless and a good look into the concept of mental instability and the dark-side of “human nature.” Anti-heros, the characters you love to hate, the guys you can sharpen your teeth on, that’s where anything could happen; and generally does….

If you can’t write from your heart, then write from your inner demon. And let all Hell break loose!

Flash-Fiction Friday: CAST OFF CHARACTERS

For today’s Flash-Fiction Friday I bring you a piece I scrawled out whilst in the midst of “writer’s block.” Enjoy, and have a super weekend!!! -L

Muse sat at the head of the table, looking distinctly “in charge” and immaculate in her sharp, high-end business attire, complete with stockings and heels. She had her nails done to perfection and was wagging her infamous red pen between her fingers and a smug grin on her lips. This did not bode well for any of us as I watched them file into the board room for the meeting.

Structure was shuffling papers and muttering something about everyone getting their coffee and finding their seats, acting as if he had everything under control, but by the look on Muse’s face, I knew from experience, this was going to be dicey.

Plot and B-Story came in together, as always, with B-Story at Plot’s elbow and speaking in hushed tones in Plot’s ear. They sat across from me and Plot nodded curtly in greeting, acting superior as always he did.

I noticed the big board room was rapidly beginning to fill up, and it seemed like everyone was here for today’s meeting. Syntax sat next to me, and Conjunction was running around the oval-shaped table making sure everyone had coffee. Plot-Device came in and handed some notes to B-Story, and Character-Development was on about the flow-chart she’d made, but only Structure was really listening to her and nodding emphatically.

The din of the room was energetic as I knew we were all here to make new demands, but when Writer finally entered the room, late as usual, I couldn’t help but feel empathy for her. She had big dark circles under her eyes, her hair frazzled, and her black ink pen looked to be no match to Muse’s red. I pushed her a cup of Joe, pretty sure she’d had enough already, but it was the least I could do. One more all-nighter and I think she might crack under the pressure.

I guess at this point, I should introduce myself. I’m Hook, it’s just my job to get things going, then I generally duck out again, so I’m free to take the minutes at meetings like this. I have my little deck of cards: who, what, why, where, when, and how. Sometimes I can slip in at the end of a chapter and set out a card or two for Writer, but I’m generally perfunctory. It means I spend a lot of my down-time with Plot-Twist, but it’s okay because we’re fast friends.

I look over at Writer as the meeting gets underway. I think she was wearing that same tee shirt yesterday and she’s flipping through notes with shaky, frantic fingers.

Structure is going on about wanting a pay-raise and Plot just joined in with a rousing “Here-here!”

Muse is nodding her head as everyone seems to be joining the chorus. Of course SHE would want a raise, insisting she’s always doing the lion’s share of the work, but it seems to me that Writer does all the heavy lifting. Muse just dictates. In more ways than one. She IS a dictator, always in charge, always telling the rest of us what to do. I guess that’s why she makes the “big bucks” around here.

Writer is whining about not being able to provide extra funds for wages, something about working hard but only running around in circles, needing a Publicist or some such nonsense. I don’t know, it doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s my job to get the eyeballs to turn the first page, it’s up to Plot and Character to keep them around. So I don’t know who’s slacking around here, I’m just pretty sure it’s not me.

B-Story is whispering about equal-time, and Foil is seconding the motion, but Character says that is infringing on her rights as a full-blown feature. I hope this doesn’t degrade into some kind of violence, but things are abruptly getting vocal. Muse is starting to tap her infamous red pen and Writer is reminding everyone she needs a new keyboard if any of this is to come to fruition.

My eyes dart back and forth across the table from one familiar face to another, but no one looks all that happy about any of this. Sure, we could all use a raise, but Marketing and Publicist require funds Writer insists she doesn’t have. So how does one get a piece of nothing? And just as I’m wondering if there’s any way I can tame this conversation from getting way too out of hand and I start to clear my throat, Plot-Twist yells: “Mutiny!”

There is a moment of utter confusion and a swirl of paper around the room as if someone put a ream in front of a jet-engine and everything is chaos. When things die down again, we’re suddenly no longer in the board room, but something that looks more like a ship’s galley. The long oval table is now a rough-hewn wooden plank, and Muse’s red pen looks more like a saber dripping with blood than anything else. Writer’s pen has become a small cutlass, and forget about it being mightier or no, she’s waving it frantically at Muse! Now I know from experience that Muse can parry with the best of ‘em, so I’m more than a little upset by Writer’s bravery, or perhaps it’s hysteria, I can’t remember how long it’s been since she slept without worrying about us.

I watch Muse jump up on the long table and trade blows with Writer, both now decked out in full pirate regalia, but I think Muse is just humoring Writer. I watch them strike and parry as Language pulls out all the stops. Syntax has crawled into the corner and is weeping quietly to herself as Language degrades into Slang and Dirge. Plot-Twist is juggling—what I think are cannon balls—and looking generally thrilled with himself, but Segue is drinking himself under the table, where he got the rum is anyone’s guess. Plot just got up and left the room in a huff, but B-Story seems to want to hang around to see what happens next. Character is rubbing her hands together eagerly while Foil is jumping up and down with utter glee.

I grab Plot-Device by the sleeve and ask him what the heck is going on around here, but he shakes his head at me and runs for the steps, and now I see why! Writer and Muse have teamed up against the rest of us and their sharpened blades are forcing us to the upper deck. Soon, they’ll have us all walking the plank! I grab Syntax out of the corner and take her up the stairs, at least if we’re all going to die in this last-ditch effort, we can all go together.

Dramatic Pause saunters and swaggers along the deck as we all shuffle toward the plank.

“Well,” I say dramatically and add a heavy sigh. “What can I tell you but how it ended? Writer went down valiantly with the ship, waving her pen-cum-cutlass as the vessel burned to the waterline that night. Muse, true to her intangible nature, showed up in a life boat and rescued the rest of us from the drink. She was dressed as Peter Pan, The Boy Who Never Grew Up, and Segue flitting around her shoulder like Tinkerbell. It seemed absurd considering the circumstance. Though I’ll admit to looking here and there for some saltwater crocodile as she rowed us to shore.”

Plot-Device vomits over the side of the boat and mutters: “I never saw that coming, never saw it coming…”

“What?” I insist of him.

Kill the main character.

“Oh…”