Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Nano Wrap Up

I am impressive. Sometimes I forget how impressive I am and then I go and do something really impressive.

The final tally was 50,042 words which works out to be, roughly, 80 pages single spaced and 150 double spaced pages. I think I wrote about 8,000 towards the story before, so it's about 58,000 words total thus far. I still need about another 50,000 words I'd guess. Maybe less.

I didn't figure out what the angle on it was until the last two thousand words. It's a pretty simple angle, but hopefully the way it gets there is interesting. Probably not. I haven't gone back and read through it yet, I'm not really looking forward to that process. But the idea is to have a working first draft by the end of March. This means writing the rest of it, putting it into a logical working order, and then doing a sweep through to clean it up. What else? Oh, I have to make it agree with itself. That should be fun because I changed shit as I went.

Some things that need doing in list form:

Writing a chapter called The Third Hunt. Or, deciding enough is enough with the adventure bullshit and going broad strokes with the rest.

Kinda the same as the above: Filling in, or figuring out a reasonable way to make the empty spaces in the timeline matter to the story or dismissing them altogether.

Clean up some of the characterization, make the language work.

Clean up the timeline, or leave it completely vauge. I'm leaning towards vague because I could give a shit about historical innacuracies so long as nobody in the 20s is on a cell phone; which were not invented until the early 30s, when dick tracy invented the two way wrist radio. Fact.

A chapter in which the main character does something, anything really. I got a little carried away with the old man and you, the reader, has no real reason to feel any empathy towards the grand son. But, the grandson would be annoying to spend time with, so really, this might just be a grand excercize in making him irritating and sad. Possible solutions: Hit him in the nuts with a golf ball, hit him in the face with a paint can, perhaps optimially, slip on a banana peel and fall down open elevator shaft, and fall onto, surprisingly, a pile of pillows but then be crushed by the elevator, or more humorously, a baby grand piano or VW Bug.

Throughout, I call the grandfather The Old Man and do not name him. This is not a stupid affectation, I just couldn't think of a good name. I like the idea of it but would like for it not to come across, as I think it will, as a stupid affectation. Similarly, The Guide is called The Guide and a few other characters in the Old Man's area are just called by what they are. It's a little character heavy in parts and I kinda like the "My name is my fucnction" because you don't care what their names are and it's just something to be forgotten and fumbled over later. So while not an affectation, it is in most cases purely functional in addition to being purely lazy. This paragraph all by itself has convinced me to not change this. Thanks, paragraph.

I think I had some other thoughts but have been distracted.

Anyway. I'm going to put it aside for a week or so and forget about it so I can look at it a little bit fresh and start again. If you'd like to read it, I don't think I'm going to put it up here, let me know and I'll send it to you. Actually, I'm not sure of that either. I don't know about any of it. Anyway. Before my next post, please feel free to be impressed with how impressive I am. I do it all for you.

The next thing will be up soon, hopefully.

Godspeed, minions.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Almost through.

It's an interesting process. I'm enjoying it. I'm making a very simple adventure novel. I know all of the side characters more than I know the main characters and I'm trying to figure out whether or not that's horrible or interesting. I'm leaning towards awful. I will forever be grateful to Baty for having a month in which to turn off my annoying brain while I write. Here's a taste of something I'd otherwise be horribly self conscious about:


My head was just over the rail and I swear to you, boy, I saw a tentacle breech the surface and something hungry just below, just waiting for my body to pass the froth and the waves and I knew the last thing I'd see was my reflection; white as a ghost and hopefully twice as dead before I met whatever was there wating. But then, boom.


Whatever it winds up being, it's been very enjoyable and I should be able to generate something nice out of it. I figure I'll be relatively done with it by January. I will eventually share it with you, the void.

Kudos to me.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Good Detective v. Bad Detective

Max Allen is Good at being a 1920's Detective:

"I'm telling you they're running hooch, booze, jazz juice, liquid fun, rocket sauce, Alcohol I tell ya!"

Sam Shear is Bad at Being a 1920's Detective:

"That story's got more holes in it than cheese, swiss chese, swiss cheese's got holes in it, it's a kind of cheese, swiss cheese!"


I'm knee deep in NaNoWriMo and I'm resisting the urge to write about fifty of these and recording them in that voice. Just some poor bastard without the gift of gab but feeling pressured to talk like that, and just endlessly repeating the same example.

"He's running guns to mexico! Mexico, south of Texas, mexicans live there, shaped weird, mexico land, he's running there, Mexico Gun!"

I think this is probably a situation where this is incredibly funny in my head, but entirely not transferable to the written word. Good times.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Votes Are In!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After a long week of tallying votes, recording votes, asking people to vote, then tabulating more votes, running the whole fucker through an independent verification committee -- The Law Offices of Bryce, Dallas and Howard -- we have finally have a winner.

The winner is: Amulet.

I would like to thank all you Andy McGowans for voting. The competition was close. Neck and goddamned neck down to the wire. Here's how the whole thing shook loose:

Amulet: 35
Sherpa: 22
Bullshit Detective Story: 15
Sharpshooter: 11

And in this vote, which has been interpreted as a ploy to draw attention to myself, all numbers that are not 35 are equal to zero, all numbers that are 35 are equal to one.

Either way, Amulet will be done by August the 22nd.

Good times.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Pepsi Challenge

Read this interview:


Read my story:


Only one of them is a real person, and only one of them has enough good fortune to be fake.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Participation Required, please help.

Hello Ether,

I lack drive and focus. Help. I have many ideas. Pasted below are the things I'm currently working on (in that I've started them and hate them and don't have the desire to finish them but need to finish something in order to justify having this blog) you tell me which seems to be worthwhile and I"ll go with it. They are listed in no particular order, Amulet, Sharpshooter, Sherpa, and The Middle of a Pulp Detective Story. Not shown are: Censorship (ten pages worth of one bad joke) , Lenny (focus on Lenny the Frogman, which feels like a half step away from fan fiction) or Accidentally Implying Eternity (which is a relationship story that features the words "The wounds they create are healed" and is about feelings) which are now dead because they are unbearable.

Have a gander, share your thoughts. It's both unhelpful and not funny to suggest Censorship, Lenny or Eternity.

Here goes...

Number One: Amulet.

Mitchel Howard is having a bad day. He is walking home, reviewing the day, having imaginary conversations with real people. Incessantly running through the possible permutations that would have allowed him to keep his shoulders back and his head high. What if I said this. What if I said that. What if this happened. What if I said the same thing that I said it but I said it like this. Unending. It's been a bad day and he just stepped in gum.

Goddamn it.

Mitchel Howard waddles on the outer edges of his shoes into the street, just far enough to put his foot on the curb and drag his foot against the edge. Scritch. Scratch. Scrape. He is polite enough to do it over the mouth of a sewer so that the gooey bits of used gum fall down into where this gum won't bother anyone ever again.

It is a cloudy day and as the last of the gum falls from his heel, the clouds part for just a moment and the sun blares through, and as he looks up he'd swear he heard an angel's trumpet blaring. It is the horn of a late model, blue sedan. It nearly hits him and it's frightening enough to knock him from his awkward one footed, head tilted, stance. His arms flail wildly and he knows that he is going to fall and that everyone walking by is watching him fall. He twists his upper body to regain his balance, but just succeeds in throwing his weight into the fall. He makes a pitiful sound and lands on his right side, on his elbow and shoulder. He is still regaining his composure when he catches the glint of metal in the sewer. A flash of gold.

Mitch shifts his head back and forth, side to side, trying to catch the light again. When he does he is happy that he has already fallen down.

It's a gold coin. It's a golden amulet. Holy shit it's a golden amulet. Holy shit it's a golden amulet. Holy fucking shit.

He remembers….

"My amulet! Remember the amulet, boy! Remember!"

His grandfather had whispy white hair, unkempt nostrils and an air of disrespectful living. He had a flask and soft pack cigarettes, worn down slippers and a house covered in yellowed maps and charts and photos. He had a globe that was covered in pins and spun open to reveal a cashe of whiskey. The pins marked places where he had drank whiskey.

The maps covered every surface. The walls looked like they were peeling, yellow, lined skin flapping in his open windows, the heat billowing in and making the edges of everything curl, his wild hair frizz and his whiskey sweat.

Charts and maps on each wall, from floor to ceiling, up the stairwell and presumably, into his locked bedroom wall. Up to the atic where he had a scale model of somewhere, buildings and trees, a lake, a motionless model train, a church at the center, it looked spanish, adobe, friendly waving churchgoers, a round headed yellow person that Mitch suspected represented his grandfather was the lone traveler on the map, the only moving piece. His little round head be in a different little place each time Mitch got the nerve to sneak upstairs.

The basement was a garage, occupied by Mitch's Grandtaher's old red pickup a few scatershot maps and more tools than Mitch had ever seen before or since. Mitch would put nails in a vice, end to end and squeeze them until they shot from the top and stuck in the ceiling. His grandfather caught him doing this once and beat him worse than Mitch had ever been beaten before or since.

His grandfather's desk was in the dining room and was the only organized surface in the house. Small sketches of a medalian. A charcoal rub of a medalian. Photos of medalians. A brochure for the Museum of History in Prague with a big, indelible marker X on it. A single brew coffee pot. A picture of his son. A picture of his grandson. A picture of his father's mother with a big, indelible marker X on it. Bifocals and a magnifying glass. They all had a place around the center of the desk, a large world map, with thin, delicately drawn lines that flowed from innumerable cities, islands, four unmarked spots in the middle of the ocean, each corner of the world.

Locked, in the bottom right hand drawer was a pistol and roughly twenty amber bottles with white, child-safe caps.

Mitch's grandfather had told him all about it. Had told him about the Temple of the Gods deep in the "godforsaken jungle". Had told him about the time that a jungle cat, "Big as a volkswagon" jumped out of the bushes, lept across the trail and disapeared with his guide before he knew what was happening. Said that he heard the man screaming for miles, that "Jungle cats would rather eat you alive because your meat stays warm longer". Mitch remembered not eating meat for months after that.

He rememberd mostly that his Grandfather was crazy, that his family was glad to be rid of him, that his mother had started to cry when he screamed "My amulet! Remember the amulet, boy! Remember!" It seemed like everyone though that his grandfather would give it up at some point, maybe if we make him move back into his house, maybe if we stop giving him money, maybe if we have the Green Pastures Mental Facility sent two lumbering goons to drag him backwards from his apartment and watch as his nails dig into paper, paint, drywall and furrow an exit map in the wall. Surely, then, he'll collect himself and say "Alright, enough already" and get back to the buisness of being a grandfather, pat our heads on the bus to the ballgame.

After he was securely locked in Green Pastures and after the head psychaitrist put assigned his best man to the job, and after the best man for the job quit the job, and after the head psychiatrist took on this special case, and after the head psychiatrist presented his findings to a special board, and after the head psychiatrist had enough and took a leave of absense from Green Pastures, and after they denied his grandfather pen and paper, and after they denied him visitors, and after they'd gotten the straight jacket on him, and after he had busted his teeth falling down, and after he'd scrawled a bloody amulet on the floor with his feet, he died alone and was quickly forgotten by his family, his memory sealed in a box of embarrasment and revulsion and tucked under the stairs. He was never spoken of again, except when his grandson sheepishly asked about him, about his project, about his past, about the amulet.


And here was now, a grandson again, playing in the dirt and looking down at the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. He couldn't fit his arm through the bars, and even then, he wouldn't be able to reach. It was a good ways down.

"Are you ok?" From above.


"Are you ok? Are you hurt?" She was on her haunches, asking gently, she wanted to help. She was wearing a blue pantsuit, white sneakers and carrying a khaki jacket in the crook of her left elbow. She set his heart in terrified motion.

"I'm fine. I fell. I'm fine. I'm fine. Thanks. I'm fine."

"Oh. Ok. Are you sure? You're bleeding."

"No I fell, there's nothing down there. I fell, I'm what?"

"Bleeding. You're bleeding"
"Oh Yeah. Absolutely. You sh—I should go. I should go. I fell. I'm sorry."

"Ok." She was looking at him in the way that he worried people looked at him. Confused and a little afraid. He was bumbling. His nerves were firing, his adrenaline was up, he had just fallen, just found treasure, struck oil, eureka! She backed away and let him pass, started to ask him a question but stopped and backed away some more. He was bleeding.

His apartment wasn't far from there. Two streets down, one street over and up the hill. The hill usually killed him. Mitch is out of shape and the hill is exhausting. The excitement carries him through and up and over, and into the bathroom where he vomits. He had run most of the way, his heart is pounding, his elbow is bleeding, he has not had so much excitement in a long time.

Mitch’s hands are shaking as he runs a paper towel under the faucet and dabs it on his elbow. He hasn’t had a skinned elbow since he was a child. His mirrored smile was unfamiliar and beautiful. He was out of breath. The amulet! The amulet. There’s no way that was the amulet. The amulet doesn’t even exist. My grandfather was locked away forever. The amulet was supposed to be in the jungle someplace. That couldn’t have been an amulet. It was in the sewer.

Christ. You fat fuck. Idiot. He punches his hand against the mirror, his elbow stings and he’s happy. Fat fuck fell down in the gutter, cut yourself open, good, you deserve it. You fat fuck.

Mitch’s refrigerator has a calendar stuck to it that his mother got him for his birthday. She sends him a calendar every year, one for his birthday, one for Christmas. They collect dust. Inside the refrigerator there is little more than cheap beer and old take out. When the door shuts, the fridge rocks back and forth, one of it’s castors had rusted away and now it wobbles like a diner table. It’s wobble is eased by the weight of one beer.

Mitch thuds down in a brown recliner, and turns on the television. An empty beer can is placed on the floor next to him after each show. He watches a lot of television and falls asleep.

He dreams.

His grandfather lived like a poor man. He had always been poor. But he was a man of means. He was young once. An adventurer. A man who found treasure. A man who knew the ports, knew where to find ancient maps, knew beautiful women who pet his ears with secrets. He knew the back alleys, the passwords, the secret passages and the escape routes. His guide didn’t speak English, and he only spoke English, but they had an understanding and someone would show him the way.

As an older man, he visited the museum of ancient history three times a week and never had enough money to pay for a ticket. He’d swindle his way in, sneak in, until he could chat up an older lady who worked there. Museums were full of old ladies, and he’d date them in the museum on their work hours and more often than not, run away when they went around a corner. “I got lost” he’d say if they got mad. Old men are forgetful, prone to misplacing things, even people.

There were still things to be learned from each piece in the museum, each piece a puzzle. Such a smart old man. How disappointed he would be in his grandson.

Mitch wakes up because he’s supposed to. He wears a navy blue suit. He wears it three times a week. He wears the gray suit twice a week. He wakes up too late to walk to work and sometimes misses the bus. He’s late to work about as much as he wears the gray suit. Nobody notices. Even if they did, he’s a fixture. He’s worked there longer than anyone. Seniority has certain privilages. Showing up late. Sexually harassing the secretary. Mitch feels that he’s grandfathered his way into these things. That his tenure there has allowed him the occasional, even twice weekly snooze button, the occasional even twice monthly ass swat. Ginger. He had a secretary named Ginger. She had a voice like rusty swings. She wore pink skirts and high heels. She was thirty two at the latest and insisted that she was twenty nine. He figured that she was made in a laboratory that made secretaries for lecherous bosses. They have had sex in his office five times, once a year, every year since she’s been here, each time he has worn a santa hat and she has eaten a half dozen martini olives.

She calls it his christmas bonus. Any further advances after the christmas party are quickly dismissed, but she allows the occasional pinch, the occasional pet, and she provides him with the occasional glimpe, the occasional gander. “My oh My.” he’d say so she knew that he had seen down her shirt or up her skirt. She was the only woman in his life, and had been for more than five years. He was a horrible failure with women, she was a horrible secretary. Mitch figured it was better than most marriages. Better than hers anyway.

Louis. Louis her husband. Louis was a six foot five monkey wrench. Mitch thought he seemed like a nice enough guy. He didn’t know much apart from how much Ginger hated him and how once a year, for two weeks, he spent Christmas in the Keys fishing with his buddies. Mitch sent Ginger home with a bottle of booze every year. “For Louis, for fishing” and she’d wink and wiggle as she walked away.

My oh My.

Ginger brought him coffee in the morning. He pulled her inside and shut the door. Abruptly. Forcefully. He grabbed her shoulders and held her against the door. Coffee spilled down her arm and onto the carpet. Dot. Dot. Dot. She was frightened. “I have to tell you something.”

“Mr. Howard?” She looked at his hands, and he pulled them away. “Ah, jesus, I’m sorry Ginge. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Let me -- here.” He took the coffee and went for his handkerchief, he wiped the coffee from her arm and caught himself staring at her. It was August. “Shit. I’m sorry. Did it burn? I’m sorry.”

She put her hand on his, and he blushed and put his handkerchief away. He went behind the desk, and paced, motioned for her to sit. “Do you want me to take notes?” No. None of that. I found something, Ginger.

“I found a thing. A thing that I thought – What if you think you saw something and it wasnt there? What if you saw something only once and it turned out not to be there, does that make you crazy? Would I be crazy if that happened? What happens if that happens, Ginger? What then? Do you think I should go away? Is that something that happens? I don’t know – Hows your arm. Are you burned? We could get some calamine.”
“I have an aloe at my desk”
“Sure you do. Absolutely you do. I got you that, that’s right. I got that. What if it isn’t there, Ginger? Huh?”
“Mitch, honey, slow down.”
“Ginger. What if I found it? Do you see? Do you see what that means, if I found it? And what if I didn’t. What if I didn’t find it and it’s not there and what does that mean? Do you understand that?”
“The goddamned amulet, Ginger. Big as a goddamned tomato.” He took a moment to explain, frantically explain. By the end of the story he was sitting on the floor with his head tilted back into her lap, she had a cold compress on his head and was humming. She wanted to put bactine on his elbow, but he wouldn’t let her.

“If it’s not there, will you think I’m crazy?” She shook her head no, and pulled his head back onto her lap, and hummed louder. She thought about the sewers and the time Maggie McCleary got her heel caught on a sewer lid and knocked out her front teeth and how everybody laughed until they saw all the mess. “I don’t think you should be messing around with the sewer, hon. Lord only knows what’s down there” Except teeth, she thought. There were at least two teeth. “My friend Maggie – “
“I should go.” He cut her off, he was always cutting her off. A lot of people cut her off. “If Davidson calls, you call me on my cell. No, fuck Davidson. If Davidson calls you tell him I had a family emergency. That my cell phone is off because they don’t let you have it on in the hospital. No phone. No calls. I’ll be back when I can be back.”

The amulet is four inches in diameter. Solid gold. It was heavilly ing

(The following is also a part of this story but not yet inserted anywhere, just wanted to play with the old man some more)

The Hounds

He was old already. He'd pretended to be a sickly old man, wrapped in blankets in a hundred degree heat. His guide told the guards that he was crazy, that he was sick and could not speak. His guide told them that he just wanted to pay his respects. He'd make an offering to the pit. He offered gold for proof, for payment, for passage.

The jungle was kept at bay by hordes of slaves. It required daily upkeep. The path from the gates to the pit was three miles, maybe more. Each inch of it was being beat back by sickly thin men with machettes. Each man was hunched over and curled, every back had scars from lashes, each of them dying right there, losing the fight against the jungle. God, how it grew. At sunset, they would retreat to their homes and sleep, tend to their families, their sons would tend to the fathers wounds. Rub their hands in rainwater, mend the sores with Uurdo Root, bathe their blistered backs with the leaves and wait for the days when they would continue the fight, have sons of their own who would mend their wounds and bathe their sores and pray to The Master, quietly wish for his death and their salvation. And in the morning, back to the

For miles just the sounds of slashing and hacking. Singing had been outlawed, it was said to disturb The Master. That it would make The Master rise from his chambers, that he kill them all. It was said that he would make the very ground boil under your feet, that he would turn the sky to smoke and that just a trace of his breath would kill a man.

Number Two: Sharpshooter


He once shot an apple off a damsel's head from a hundred yards with a six-shooter he stole from a pistolero he'd killed in the ages. Back turned. Quick draw. Cored Apple. The damsel, she fainted.


The trip has gotten dustier. By rail now, carriages loaded on the back. Easier trip, but louder, but dustier. He'd had a wind storm creep up on him, pelted the windows with sand for hours. Took him by surprise. Never would've happened on the wagon.

It got so bad for a bit, everyone made them stop the train. Said they couldn't see the tracks, that they were in cattle country, the cattle wouldn't see them either, they'd wind up in a heap. Got everyone real nervous about it. About wrecking the train, about missing the show. Every inch of the strong man was shaking about falling into a ravine. Said he didn't know it could go off the rails. They got him from someplace in Europe. Lifts huge weights. A barrel of ladies. Bent steel bars. Keeps a close eye on The Cannonball. A little guy. He gets fired from the cannon. Lands in a big net. Wears a helmet he stole from the locker room from his private school. He got teased a bunch and ran off to the circus.

A few months ago, they'd given him his own sleeper cabin on the train. Said it was out of deference to his tenure with the show, made a big deal out of it, tipped caps and clapping. Had a little ribbon at the entryway. He'd noticed they'd also given him his own table in the diner car, his own section of the smoking lounge, his own conversation to keep. He'd take his meals in the cabin now, stopped trying to talk to the Strongman, stopped teasing the Cannonball. He couldn't keep quiet during the storm. He got bored, got behind the bar when no one was looking. Got drunk and mean. Called for the train to start. Said he'd kill the engineer. Called them all cowards and liars. The strongman dragged him into his room and tied him into his chair, and was kind enough to set a magazine on his lap. "We could die if we go. We wait instead. You wait too." He'd already read the magazine, screamed at The Strongman to come back. Said he'd killed bigger men. The Strongman came back, his body too big for the door, had to duck and step in sideways, his elbows knocked trinkets from the shelves; arrow heads, bullets and medals. "You sleep. I know how you don't sleep. You should sleep now." The Strongman patted his head and ducked out of sight again.

Arthur "The Gunman" Pistolero. A titan. Shot out the lights in nine counties. Killed more men than he had hairs on his head. Had two guns on his hips and one in his boot. Shot the eye teeth from a rabid wolf and the belly button from a warden in the same day. Was a drunk old man tied to a chair in a sandstorm in the middle of god knows where. Screaming.


He changed his name. For the warrants. Wouldn't do him any good to perform from town to town under his real name. Someone was liable to see him, someone he owed money or the brother of someone he'd killed, any number of sheriff's in any number of towns could put the screws to him at any given time of day. Wouldn't do him any good to get hauled off right in the middle of a show. Have a duel right then and there. The whole crowd watching, right in the center ring. Just Arthur The Gunman Pistolero and maybe Dale Nechas from Dwight Country from out of the stands. Have it out right there. Wouldn't do. Kids in the audience. No sense in all those people seeing Art gun a man down like the wrath of the Almighty.

Changed it from whatever it was. He'd changed it so much he didn't remember now. Had different names for different counties and towns. His companion at the time was a man named Shooter Willis. Had a mind like a damned trap. The Ringmaster came up with the name at the end. Said they'd needed a sharpshooter. A trick gunman. Said that they had one at The Webber Hilliard Circus. Said they had some man that could shoot the frost off a snowflake. Arthur told The Ringmaster that he could do just that, in fact, when he was done, a man could light his cigar from it. They shook hands. Years ago.

He started appearing regularly as The Vigilante. He'd come out in a hood, to protect his identity. Shoot metal mock-ups of men up and down a phony Old West street. All done with wires. They'd pop out from behind door ways and windows and Arthur would put a bullet in them. Front door right, second window, water trough, chimney, stagecoach, stagecoach, hangman's gallows, saloon. Two guns. Twelve bullets. Four misses, or five bullets into the saloon for the big finish. Spin the guns and take a bow. Easy money. Like stealing.

They cancelled that bit after a few months. The town was a lot of setting up and taking down and transporting. The whole set up needed it's own car on the train. Needed a crewman behind the walls to run the wires. First The Cannonball and then Dave Stanton. Dave was about the only man Arthur talked to in those days. Dave liked the road for his own reasons. Nobody remembers where they'd picked him up. He kept to himself when he wasn't drinking with Arthur. Never mentioned where he was from or where he was going, just a drifter that got taken in. Earned his cot and his meals. Spent about a year with the show before they buried him just North of Clarksville on their way up to Trinchero for the Solstice. He caught a stray in the neck when The Gunman was about halfway through the Metal Man Town. Missed by a foot and a half, went through to the booth where he pulled the wires and caught him just under the chin. Made the finale of The Gunman's show difficult, no more men to kill. The Gunman found Dave. He'd gone up there to shout at him for falling asleep, made a hell of a fuss, disrupted the Cannonball's introduction.

That night as they were set to leave The Gunman arrived hours late, drunk. He stopped back at the train for his hat and some things. He threw him into the bathroom and kicked him in the face. The spurs left a gash across his right cheek. It's deep, jagged and purple. You can't see it under the helmet. The Strongman lurched towards Arthur, cramped, his shoulders cracking the wall panels as he ran. Arthur tried to run but stumbled. He threw Arthur down the hallway, over the railing, onto the tracks. Arthur landed unharmed, his fall broken by the whiskey. The strong man was leaning over the railing, shouting in German and crying. The broken toilet was pouring water on The Cannonball, unconscious and bleeding.

It would be the first time he quit. It was the last appearance for Arthur's The Vigilante.


Three. Sherpa.


And then

Time passed. At eleven he graduated from a prestigious East Coast University. The feat made all the papers as he was the youngest person to ever graduate with honors from Howitzer University. The last time a child had successfully graduated from the esteemed university was some years prior. A boy by the name of Pak Hidoshi graduated at the tender age of fourteen in 1967. Mr. Howitzer proceeded to fire the entire staff of Howitzer University and accused Pak of being a communist spy. Pak was deported a short time later to whereabouts unknown. His parents, New Jersey natives Carol and Allan Hidoshi, refused to comment at the time of this writing.

At age twelve William Howitzer III was hospitalized for a brief period of time for a bleeding ulcer and “exhaustion.” It was rumored that William Howitzer III had fled the hospital against doctors orders sighting his desire to watch cartoons in his tv room. “No fucking Jetsons.” was sited on his release form under “Reason for early departure.”

The following year William Howitzer III began his lifelong love affair with the entertainment business. His first television show “Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes Presents: Bears!” was an early attempt to explore the medium and exploit bears. The show was difficult to follow and it’s ratings poor. It’s rumored that young Howitzer would repeatedly call the station and demand more challenging and risky tricks to be performed by the bears and their trainers. A former station employee was recently interviewed by Insider Weekly, the entertainment trade magazine. A quote from that interview is listed below:

“Four or five times a show I’d get a call from the kid demanding better tricks. They were all crazy. Once he told me to have Dave [David Batson, Bear Trainer -ed.] hit Bingo the Bear with a pie and then squirt it with water. ‘Like the stooges,’ he said. Another time he wanted to have Bingo the Bear hold the ring of fire while Dave rode the unicycle through it. It was like that every night.” David Batson was fired the following year for being mauled by Bingo the Bear. His family sued unsuccessfully on his behalf.

At the end of his thirteenth year he was readmitted to Cedar Sinai Hospital for stomach complications. The unconscious William was brought to the hospital via black limousine and remained in the facility for approximately three weeks following his admission. A legendary paparazzi photo captures a gaunt William Howitzer III being wheeled out of Cedar Sinai by a male orderly named Louis Amentine. Mr. Amentine is currently Head Orderly at Cedar Sinai, he had this to say. “That boy was damn near dead when they wheeled him out of here. Still don’t know what the hell got in him, but it damn sure wasn’t good.” Nearly twenty five years later, the details of Mr Howitzer’s stay are largely mysterious. Common belief is that was connected to an announcement made the following spring on “Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes Presents: Bears and Elephants.” Elephants had been added.

The announcement came at the start of the program and occupied the majority of the telecast. The thirteen year old William Howitzer sat at a large oak desk and read slowly from a paper held in front of his hands and would at times obscure large portions of his face. The company maintains that he wrote the speech himself, though it’s been suggested that he had commissioned a writer despite his impressive college education. It was very much his decision however that the Elephants and Bears be featured in a small sub-screen in the bottom right corner throughout his urgent announcement
A transcript of the telecast has been provided by The Foundation for The Hearing Impaired, who provided subtitles for those in need. Our thanks to The Foundation for allowing us to reprint the following transcript of the night’s telecast:

[Announcer] Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls. Welcome to Howitzer Brand Cereal Flake’s Presents Bears and Elephants! Tonight, we have a Howitzer Brand Treat for you. Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes Presents, child owner, William Howitzer The Third!!



[William Howitzer III] Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is William Howitzer the Third. I apologize for the interruption to tonight’s broadcast. At my request, the usual program will continue during my speech in the lower right hand corner of your screen.
I would like to thank everyone for enjoying Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes. We love that you love Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes. We thank you for making Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes the number one breakfast cereal in the nation. This announcement may frighten some and I ask that all children be accompanied by a parent or gaurdian at this time. Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes will not be held responsible for unattended children witnessing this urgent bulletin.

subset [Bear] Loud growl.

[William Howitzer III] Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, as I speak, boxes of Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes are being pulled from the shelves of every store across the nation and will no longer be sold by our company.

subset [Elephant scream] [Bear growl] [Trainer whip] [More growling and screaming]

[William Howitzer III] It has been reported accurately that I have been recently hospitalized for a serious condition. It was during this time that I have realized that we are not offering a wholesome product, a family product, a product safe for children.

subset [Trainer] Up, Bingo, up!

[William Howitzer III] After my realization, I decided to discontinue Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes, the number one breakfast cereal in the nation. It came at the distress of my board members, many of whom are in need of work. I wish that you, the home viewer, are not angry with my decision, and will allow me to explain to you and your children, if they’re still in the room, and I hope it does not cause too much distress.

subset [Bear growl] [elephant scream] [Trainer] No no, Bingo. No. Zambezi, down. Down Zambezi!

[William Howitzer III] After having my first bowl of Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes, the number one cereal in the nation, in over three years on the day of my release, I decided that the product is sub-par. I mean, it’s gross. I don’t like it, your kids don’t like it either. It’s like vegetables or something. (Cough) I will not sell such a product. Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes is officially off the market.

subset [Commotion from Bear/Elephant fight] [Trainer whip]

[William Howitzer III] Your children are foremost in our minds. We wish to give them nothing but the best possible product we can. When you go to the market in the morning, you will note an empty space where Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes used to occupy. We apologize if this should leave a similar hole your morning routine.

subset [Trainer scream] [Bear whip]

[William Howitzer III] But! We wish to fill your hole again. But not with Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes, but with Howzies Frosted Crunch! [fanfare.] I would like to welcome you to a new era in cereal refreshment: Frosting. I have been diligently researching frostings for the last six months, ladies and gentlemen boys and girls. It’s like the best part of cake on the worst part of cereal. Those old timey flakes were bland and had almost no sugar whatsoever. Start your day off right with Howzies! Howzies have been miticulously tested and retested and I have been assured by my scientists that it’s the only frosted cereal on the market. Add a little zing to your step with Howzies! Isn’t that right Crunchalumpamus?

[Crunchalumpamus] That’s right Mr. The Third!

Subset [Elephant stomping] [Lense shatter]

[William Howitzer III] Crunchalumpamus is your new friend, boys and girls. He’s a space hippo from Neptune and he just loves –


[William Howitzer III] Crunchalumpamus! Behave! Anyway boys and girls, I’ll let you get back to The Howzies Frosting Hour, but be sure to get up early tomorrow to be the first on your block to try some Howzies Frosted Crunch!

subset [fire alarm] [sobbing]

This peice of broadcasting has been studied by advertising and marketing scholars since the moment it was seen. The innovations were countless. Howitzer, in a single broadcast changed the face of cereal marketing. He introduced frosting to cereal, a breakthrough in breakfast-time nourishment. His was the first cereal to have a cartoon representative who appeared to be painfully, remorselessly addicted to the product he represented; opening the door for the likes of Chester Cheetah, The Trix Rabbit, and Joe Camel. He even changed the very name of his legendary cereal to a more marketable, edgy and memorable one. It was considered a daring move by all industry insiders.

A member of the board who was fired around the time of the announcement, and who wishes to remain anonymous, had a larger insight to offer: “Daring? No. It wasn’t daring. He was taking the company global, starting in Europe.” The correlation may not seem obvious until later in the interview when the illumination is presented: “Lets say you lived in Europe in 1967 and you had to choose between Old Maids Wheat Puffs and Howitzer Brand Cereal Flakes, which would you choose? Would you go for the knitting old woman who fixed you a nice breakfast, or the tank that killed your family and blew up your house?” A crude point, but a very good one. Real estate all over Europe had been furiously renovated by Howitzer Tanks during the Second World War.

With the catchy new slogan and the help of a friendly Neptunian Hippopotamus, the sugary morning meal made the jump across the Atlantic Ocean into eager British teeth.

At home the effect of the broadcast was even more impressive. Many schools were closed due to lack of attendence and lines of eager children errupted out of stores and down sidewalks. In at least five instances riots occoured when the cereal sold out. Store Owner Christian DuMonts recalled: “There was a riot.” When pressed further, Mr. DuMonts recalled: “Because of that cereal, with the purple thing on the front. I don’t know what the fuck it was. You want a bag?” The purple thing was, in fact, Crunchalumpamus.

Time passed. The lawsuits dwindled from children injured during the great unveiling. The cereal entrenched itself as the must-have item of the year. Christmastime was especially easy for Santa Claus as visions of Howzies Frosted Crunch danced in the childrens heads. The factories were running at 200 percent production. Three shifts became incessantly milling in William’s back yard. The Robot Violence Center and Trampoline Island were steadilly swarmed with the workers children. A constant steady stream of frosted production generated an impossible ammount of income for the young owner.
In the two years that followed few innovations appeared. The only notable achievements were the attachment of tiny dynamos to the bottoms of all the trampolines in trampoline island, which nearly negated the factories dependence on the city’s power grid. Up and down, up and down all day long, hundreds of feet pounding, pushing and driving the dynamos winding the gyros spinning and sparking the energy creating the flaky frosting pumped to the tasting of tiny red tongues that would devour the sugar and power the jumping up and down up and down all day long. A constant source of renewable energy had been created for the purpose of feuling the factory that feuled the children and on and on.

The other notable achievement was the Emmy Award granted to William for outstanding acchievement in children’s entertainment at the 22nd Annual Emmy Awards, which were brought to you by Howzie’s Frosted Crunch. In his acceptance speech William thanked Chumpalumpamus, Bingo, Zambezi and the late David Batson. He walked off stage to a smattering of applause and it’s rumored that he left his congratulatory statuette in the bathroom before leaving.

His appearance at the 22nd Annual Emmy Awards was his last public appearance for many long years. His stage right exit that night, was a slow, purposeful walk in which he held a statuette high in the air as his eyes held the floor as he walked behind the red curtain and out of public view for the final time.

In hindsight, the boy geniuses’ acceptance speech holds some mysterious language, we again thank The Foundation for the Hearing Impaired for providing us a transcript of Willam’s acceptance speech:

[William Howitzer III] Thank you, thank you. I’d first like to thank Bingo the Bear, Zambezi The Elephant, and the late Dave Batson, without whom none of this would be possible.
[William Howitzer III] Howzies Frosted Crunch Animal Hour was an idea I had when I was only 9 years old. I liked bears, and I thought I’d like to see more of them. It’s been a wonderful experience. Thank You very much.

And that was all. He wouldn’t reappear on television for several years. He walked off stage and into his darker and more private years. Little is known of Williams whereabouts for the next number of years.


I would like to take a moment of your time to explain the following chapter. When researching this project, and the monumental characters contained therein, it became increasingly apparent that William’s Lost Years would provide me with a difficult task: How could I write about a figure whose formative years were so shrouded in mystery?

I have devoted many hours of research attempting to divine this information from dozens of sources. Unfortunately, very little information was gathered from these hours. I beg you to keep the following in mind while reading the remainder of this section: William had already graduated college, there are no further school records to assertain. Howzie’s Frosted Crunch was owned privately by William, it did not fall under the umbrella of the former Howitzer empire, which was a publicly traded company. Therefore, little is known of the company’s inner workings, there were no shareholder meetings, stock reports, SEC filings. There was simply William. William’s young, troubled mind.

His need for secrecy was instantly apparent, according to Kevin Rhoades, a former board member who, according to Rhoades, asked too many questions at the board meeting following the 22nd Annual Emmy Awards:

“The kid was out of his mind. He came back, said ‘From now on, what I say in this room goes, and what is said here, stays here. From now on, everything is dead quiet. Or else.’ or something to that effect. So I was just curious about what happened. GO BACK AND MAKE THE EVENT MORE EMOTIONAL. FLUTTERED HECTIC. So I ask him what happened. He says he doesn’t want to talk about it. I try not to press him, but I don’t know what he means by ‘dead quiet or else.’ so I ask him. And he says ‘you’re fired.’ And I was fired. By an eleven year old."

The silence that reigned in the board room was, and remains, legendary. Following Rhoades’ dismissal, the boardroom operated on complete secrecy. It remains to this day. I’ve interviewed several of the former board members, several of the wives of the former board members and several of the surviving children of the former board members and none have been able to supply me with very much relevant information. The boardroom remains closed.

Further complicating the matter of William’s whereabouts during this time is that the American public’s fascination with William quickly faded after his final appearance. Had William made more of a formal statement, a grand farewell, his disapearance would have been as spectacular as his life had been to that point. Interest would have remained high, articles about his current whereabouts would circulate in every newspaper, tabliod print and barber shop across the country. However, William simply slipped past the curtain and out of the limelight for years. His exit was simple, unimpressive and not very memberable. He allowed his audience to watch his exit without their realizing how big of an exit it was.

William’s exit was further aided by the American economy. Shortly after William’s disapearance, the economy began to tumble, jobs were lost, buisnesses failed, homes were mortgaged. William Howitzer was no longer a symbol of opportuninty, he was a symbol of the decadent American aristocracy. A symbol of wealth and good fortune, a fortunate son to be sneered at and cursed. What did he know of the troubles of the working man? That little brat never worked a day in his life. His cereal is overpriced anyway. The working man was turning against him and it’s not known if his disaperance was intentionally timed, or if good fortune was continuing to smile upon him.

These years, then, are difficult to track by even the most diligent of researchers. His company operated from behind closed doors. William’s public persona was tarnished through no fault of his own. His show was cancelled after the public’s fear of Bears and Elephants were replaced with Bankruptcy and Communists.

William carried an interesting image. To much of the public, he was simply an abberation, a young boy who was left a vast inheritance and had become a mascot for his father’s company. To others, a fortunate son, a walking example of the American aristocracy who didn’t earn a cent he had. An undeserving child born with a silver spoon in his mouth. William’s image to the public quickly faded and was soon forgotten.

This chapter, then, shall be devoted to those around him during his quiet years. The chapter that follows shall be devoted to what accounts could be gathered from those closest to him. We'll start in his inner sanctrum, his family estate in Constance, Virginia, "The Howitzer Estate" or "Awesome House", as it was known.

Rose Fetsko is a Czeclosovakian immigrant. She arrived in the united states at the age of five with her parents Olexis and Dalek Fetsko and was processed through Ellis Island with hundreds of other European immigrants. "I can still remember the smell. Thousands of people that had been stuck in tiny steamer cabins for months" she laughed "But it was also beautiful. So much hope in one room all at once."

Rose was born Ruzena, but was anglicized when she reached the states. Her parents retained their names, but were registered at Ellis Island and in all official documents from that point as Anne and Andy. "There didnt seem to be much reason behind it. We became friendly with the family behind us, they were also from Czechlosovakia, two towns over from our family. Their little girl and I sang songs and played games during the voyage. Coming in their names were Krystof, Marta, and Rustika going out their names were Jerry, Jerry Anne and Stinka" said Rose.

Four. Continuing "The Middle of a Pulp Detective Story"


And then...

The process always killed him. The process. The processing. The papers. The lights, oh god the lights, too bright and blinding, made him dizzy and tired. The building drained the life from him. He had to be downtown in midday. Hell.

The detective took the trains that he used to navigate the city with, back a few years when they used to run all night. Before some goddamned noise committee popped up and made it illegal to get someplace at three in the morning. Sometimes he had places to be at three in the morning. "Noise committee. Idiots." He thought. A few years back the rich folks moved into the art centers, which used to be poor folks in the poor centers, people that needed the trains to get to their after-dark places, gin joints, hush-hush hotels or their gig cleaning houses or digging graves. Real people.

Dowtown. Midday. Hot as hell. He wasn't used to the sun. He wasn't used to the crowds. The people were chattering away, heads high, quick moving, healthy smelling. He was uncomfortable and afraid, short of breath and sweating, he was anxious for it to be over. The whole excercize would set him back a day, he should be asleep now, he'd wasted too much time at Lucy's pulling information about The Rat. The Rat had disapeared, he'd done it before, establishing an alabi. It didn't matter. He'd still have to let Guns out of the clink to get the rat to talk.

Guns Champlain. Fuck. He knew that Magnus St. Cloud, Jerry "Crumbles" Fitsgivens and Tate Onassis were all cooped up in cell block D, but The Detective knew the only peice of The Rat's dirty little chess board worth a damn, worth a name, a location, or anything regarding The Monk would be Oliver "Olly" "Guns" Champlain. The Detective knew that the Rat knew that the Detective would be desperate. The stupid case has been all over the papers. Hasher leaked to the press, thought it would generate leads. Just tied up the goddamned phones and three good men. The Monk loved the limelight, he traded in fashionable gore, made it interesting for the public, thought people would write books about him someday. That's why the bloody messages, the teenagers piled high in box cars, it's all macabre and interesting, makes the typewriters smoke, the papers fly from the shelves, gets his name on peoples lips.

"I hate this goddamned sun" The detective was walking the wrong way up 32nd street to the D.A.s office, muscling his way past thirty something investment bankers, he counted forty five pairs of sunglasses from the corner of Alabaster and 32nd to now, in the footprint of City Hall. People had stared at him. He could pass for homeless. He looked like a bum and he knew it. He tried to flatten his hair with his hand and some spit but it was no good. She knew he was a bum too.


They'd had a good enough life. It didn't last long. They were hot headed, angry people. He liked to drink, she hated that he drank. They liked to argue about nothing; she'd punched him once for leaving bananas on the counter. Said they attracted bugs, they belonged in the fridge, hauled off and hit him after a half an hour of hollaring . Left cross. Split his lip straight up the middle, didn't hurt much but it bled for two days off and on. It burned out pretty quick, about a year or so in. He was cheating on her with some broad from the southside beat. Barely remembered her name. Darla did.

"Hey Chief." She said

"Don't call me that."

"How's Helen?"

"I don't know. You know I don't know."

"Aw chief, what happened? She call it off?"

"Enough already."

"You look like hell, Chief."

"Don't call me that."

She goes on with the ball breaking. He takes it and tries not to look around too much. Everyone knew him. Everyone was watching him. Everyone knew their history. Everyone was listening. Every window in this fucking place is wide open and every goddamned light is on. The Detective is out of his element, he's hunched over, elbows on his knees, looking at the floor. When it seems like she's about done, he interrupts just a little:

"You still smoke?"
"Then lets go burn one and talk. Outside."

She abliges him. She's curious. He's always up to something. Hasher still screams about him from time to time. He heard about beating the whole squad to Monk's hide out, figured out that crazy puzzle Monk put together, even got a special message from the Monk. She's heard people wondering too loudly about the connection, if The Detective is The Monk. Absurd. But she's not stupid. She knows he's here for a favor, he wouldn't come in otherwise. Must be something important.

"No. No fucking way. No. Just not a chance"

"I need this, Darla."
"I know you do, Chief"

"Stop calling me the fucking Chief. Hasher's the chief. I barely draw a check."

"Fine. But theres still no way this can happen, I can't get Guns loose, maybe I can get you Tate, maybe, but even that's pushing it. There's no way. Guns killed three kids a bowling alley."

"By accident."
"Oh jesus, Roy. Yes by accident, he went there to kill two mobsters and killed two mobsters plus three kids, what a boo-boo, here's the key to his cell. You're out of your mind if you think we can get him out."

"I need the Monk. I have to get to the Rat to get to the Monk. I need Guns to get to the Rat."

"Would you listen to yourself? What do you think this is? He killed three kids. He's off limits. End of story."

"If we don't him loose, Monk'll get him loose. Monk's going to round up his crew and they're going to disapear underground maybe for good. If we let him loose, he gives me the information, you follow him for a day and pick him up again for jay walking, say he was violating the terms of his parole and he's out of the sunlight for twenty years. Nobody cares one way or the other, everyone wants the Monk, it's all over the goddamned papers."

"And that's why you want it – "
"No it aint."

"Yes it is, you want it because your name is next to his in all the goddamned papers. They think you're insane, you're obsessed, and you're stupid."

"Yeah, well they gotta be right sometimes. Look, Darla, do this for me, for old times sake."

"Don't give me that shit. That's never going to work."

"Oh" The detecive looked down and smoothed his hair. Then up. "Fuck it. I'll figure it out." And walked away. He threw his shoulders back and straighened his coat, drew the waistband tight around him in spite of the heat. Darla watched him go. She finished her cigarette and threw it in the street.
The Detective nearly knocked down six or seven people on his way back to the train station. He walked quickly, his heavy feet clumping on the pavement. He was muttering. "Waste of my goddamn time."
On the train he pretended to be asleep so that the panhandlers and the blind pencil man would not bother him. He didn't have any money to spare and he was affraid that he would wind up in another fight with the blind pencil man. "No means no or cant you fucking hear either" There was a fight after that suggested that the blind pencil man was not blind and had formal boxing training and an addiction to some type of amphetimine. The detective was thrown off the train three stops early and had a steak on his face for a week. It would be best to pretend he was asleep he would avoid, at the very least, an awkward silence if not another black eye.
On the walk home he stopped and bought a bottle of cheap burbon from the corner store. Amir. Amir was a nice man who smiled at every low life that came into his store. Situated on a bad corner in a bad part of town in perpetual darkness. The subway came out of the ground around 59th street and was lifted into the sky around 60th street, and blocked out the sun for six miles or so. Amirs store, the name of which The Detective didnt remember, the sign was lost years ago to rust and pidgeon shit hadnt seen sunshine in years. Amir smiled anyway. Amir was a nice man.
"Hello Chief!"
"Hello Amir." Amir called most men Chief and most women Madam. Amir didn't know The Detective, he didn't know his story, he didn't know he was a cop. Amir probably thought he was a drunk vagrant who lived somewhere under the protection of the El Train. There was still rain here, still some snow, but far less of it, in the summer there was far less sun, the street was narrow the stores pulled in tight and the tracks above protected the bums from all but the worst rain. If you were a drunk, it was cozy.
"Nice day, eh, chief?"
"Yeah. I'll take one of those" The detective pointed to the large bottle of Jehricho Burbon. Yum.

Choose wisely, Ether.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Not sure if this will work

I really have zero understanding of HTML, which I feel like I should learn, but also realize that it will be obsolete in a day or two. But I recorded the Advice story for Dublit and I think I can paste it here, if you'd like to listen.

I made a few changes to it and I have the voice of an angel, so it's way better than what I had before.

Go Listen:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

More Found Material

I'm working on a story that I've fallen in love with and I'll eventually post it, but it'll probably be a while yet. But I just found some papers that I'd written little stories on when I was bored at the bar I used to work at. I'd forgotten about and left somewhere else and were returned to me a few weeks back. I like them so I'm copying them here for safe keeping. There's no title, and I might try to expand on one or both, but my batting average for that is really low. Anyway, here:


When she was small, smaller, she caught a terrible flu. It had be going around. Stores were closed, hospital overrun. Sally, my daughter, the nine year old, caught it.

She's a terrible child. A horrible person so far. We knew it then. My wife: "...More like the flu caught sally."

I concurred. It was true. After hours of tests in my basement lab, beakers bubbling, notations made, numbers carried, bunsons burning, I arrived at the inevitable truth: the Flu had caught Sally.

I submit the following proof: After my horrible daughter conquered the flu, no one in Noth Hope has sneezed.



Terrible Bones. (this will come back in a future thing, I realize I have a place for it elsewhere, but for now, in case I lose the paper)

My terrible bones. Awful, useles. I've developed horrible disease, joespeh. Bones like splinters. Edging out. Healing out through the skin, joe. They're leaving. It's terrible. Horrible.

You're off in the sun. You can't imagine how cold it's gotten. The air has changed. Freezing, joe. You took all the warmth right out of this little place. Remember the winter in the stock yards? You were holed up there for months. I didn't realize until February. You'd turned the fire hose on us, put three men in the hospital with exposure. Jesus, but you laughed, Joe.

Three good men. Families and all. Never quite got it cracked. Never found that money. But the hose was enough, to lock you down a few weeks until you vanished. Not sure where you got to. That's fine.

Ha! Then you disapeared all the goddamned wanted posters and dropped them on Main Street like a goddamned ticker-tape. When Conklin told me, I had to run outside to laugh. Everyone was outside to laugh, kids were picking them up and throwing them at eachother like snowballs, Joe, you should've seen it.

I'm guessing you did this, this thing with the bones. Not sure how. I figured you'd figure a way to get me. I just wish you'dve done it like a regular joe, Joe. We've shot at each other enough, what the hell with the bones, Joe? I'm an old man, for christ sake.

I'm sorry about Susan, Joe. We didn't know she was in the house. I want you to know that before it's through. Honest and true, Joe, we didn't know.

See you soon.

Monday, May 19, 2008


When I first came out here I bought a Moleskine Notebook. Here's a paragraph about that that I found in one of my journals: I'm a fucking idiot and can't find it. Never mind.

Anyway, I came across it again today. I found something in there that made me laugh. I don't remember when I wrote it, but it's a To Do List for a Super Villain. Here it is:

- Car still isn't ready. Consider installing Time Machine in bathtub or love seat.

- Fire hydrant switch to secret lair on 5th street is malfunctioning. Probably a transistor problem. Send a Frogman. Lenny?
- Talk to Head Frogman about daytime curfew. Saw Frogman in Wendy's. Unacceptable.

- Get Milk, eggs, brown sugar, butter and flour. Bake sale.

- Get sulfuric acid, lithium crystals, seventy two car batteries, series of lenses. Acid Laser/Power Man's Face.

- Call Janice. Been on my ass about child support.
- Ray gun "accident"?

- Just put it in the bathtub. It won't have the same effect, but I'm appearing out of nowhere and I have a cell phone. Good enough. Pick up Dinosaur. Ride dinosaur into capitol building in the 1800's. If time allows, attempt to kill Janice's grandparents.

- Pneumatic tube connected to White House needs adjusting. President arrived for weekly meeting with nosebleed and threatened to cut my funding.

- Check progress on Space Station.
- Test Rocket boots.
- Febreeze Space suit.

- Pay Zephyr The Confounding for Steelers game.
- Find out if Quarter Back has telepathy.
- Have him liquefied

- Destroy unbelievers, punish insolence, demand respect, money, bake sale blue ribbon.


Saturday, May 10, 2008


Check out this website: Beta.dublit.com . It's a website devoted to recording and sharing stories. I posted two on there so far, I'll be posting more as I get more written.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Balancing things

Don't worry, gentle populace, I will balance out the two below with something in a bit. I'm working on something that contains this line:

"My amulet! Remember the amulet, boy! Remember!"

Monday, May 05, 2008

Deconstructed Advice and Encouragement

Deconstructed Advice and Encouragement

Advice VIA Public Transportation Mishap

You know what, though? You have to try to make the most of it. Life is short. You could walk outside tomorrow and get hit by a bus.

You know what, though? I know you're having a hard time right now, but try to remember that at any point you could be painfully and horribly murdered by a larger than average vehicle.

You know what, though? Sometimes crazy people get a hold of machinery that they're not licenced to operate and they run amok and maybe this time they're on your block driving fifty down your sidewalk. Remember that guy who got a hold of that tank a few years back? So, ya know, try to keep that in mind.

You know what, though? Try to remember that any horrible thing can happen at any time. To you. Any random, awful thing could happen to you at any time. Awful things happen all the time, so I'd even say that you're likely to have something horrible happen to you. If anything, you're due.

You know what, though? We're all, each of us, dying a little every day.

You know what, though? The universe is random and life is meaningless.

Encouragement through past failures and traumas

You know what, man? You can get through this. You're a strong person. Think of all the other shit you've gone through in your life, this is nothing. You'll look back on this and laugh.

You know what, man? You can get through this. You've had worse happen to you. Think about all the horrible things that have happened to you. One by one. Really think about the horrible things that have happened during your life. Relive each of them now, in front of me. See, just like those other personal tragedies, you'll look back on this and laugh because you clearly haven't been smart enough to learn from your earlier failures, so it'll just be funny because you won’t understand because you're dumb.

You know what, man? The sum total of your previous experience should prepare you for all things, failing that you are worthless and your life has been wasteful.

Encouragement by acknowledging the current state of affairs

But you know what you should do? Take this time to focus on yourself. Get the job you want. Save some money. Meet new people. Try to get laid. Join a gym.

But you know what you should do? Get your shit together. You have a shitty job. You're broke. Wear a hat. You have no friends. ”Try” to get laid, don’t get your hopes up with that one because women don’t find you attractive and you are horribly out of shape.

But you know what you should do? Maybe try to stop being you, because it clearly isn't working. Look at what you've allowed yourself to become.

But you know what you should do? Give the eating a rest.

Encouragement by emphasizing the positive

But think about it, you're smart, you're funny, you're handsome, you're talented, you'll pull through this.

But think about it, think about how nice I am and how if you weren't lucky enough to have me as a friend, there wouldn't be anybody to lie to you in times of trouble.

Encouragement by The Miller Brewing Company of St. Louis Missouri

Think about it this way, a twelve pack of our generic, bland, watery beer will get you so tanked that you'll be able to connect to your feelings, but remain numb enough that you wont feel your body's physical revulsion at that process.

Think about it this way, a twelve pack of our generic, bland, watery beer will get you so tanked that you'll be able to connect to your feelings, but remain numb enough that you wont feel your body's physical revulsion at that process. Seriously.

Encouragement through the grand scheme of things

Try to put it in perspective, it could always be worse, you could live in Darfur, or be in Iraq, or jesus, look at that homeless guy, you could be that guy.

Try to put it in perspective, you don’t deserve the things you have and you look down your nose at the homeless when prompted.

Try to put it in perspective, you take everything for granted and are wasteful of your opportunities. You could help people but do not, because you are a selfish coward. Also, you have lots of change and are a liar.

Over-reaching advice

Everything is going to be just fine, everything always works out for the best, everything happens for a reason, the planets will align and you’ll be a better person for it.

I have nothing to say and I think you’re an idiot.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I don't know what this is called. I've been working on it for a fucking week and I have one page and I hate it. I'm putting it here to be rid of it:

He'd built the watch piece by piece meticulously for months. It was important to him, a delicate thing that he'd built from little bits of watches he'd found in the garbage, in the street, at yard sales. Other people’s watches that he'd find broken and wasted and he'd take them home and look at them under a lamp in his bedroom. They were beautifully intricate and small. Cogs and wheels, screws and bolts, all so small you could breathe them in. Lift the face and look back into time, when life was made from parts that moved with golden significance.

The watch was sterling silver with all gold inlays. It was kept in a mahogany box with red velvet lining and a broken lid. A fever dream had broken it, thrown it into the hallway in a panic. The box was placed next to him in bed, sometimes on the night stand, on occasion after stressful days, on his chest, the ticking lulling him to sleep. Comforting incessance. Steady. Tick and tock. Up and down.

He dreamed of the ocean. He is in a small red boat, rowing. There is someone sitting behind him, sighing. Shhhhh. The waves are frequent and choppy the sky is bright blue clear and shining. All alone in the middle of the ocean. Up and down. It'll just go on forever.

Sunsets are depressing, the sunrise is terrifying. At sunrise, there is nothing bigger than the rest of the day. Expansive and empty and terrifying. His watch makes a small, tinny ding at 6:28am. Three minutes before sunrise. Three hours before work. It takes him a while to move. He is often surprised at the size of his room. He remembers when he signed the lease, he wasn't sure if his things would fit. Too small. He'd move in the summer time. The room is perfect and, if anything, too big. His things are small, the room is giant. His watch throws an echo.

He has grown more and more confident that everyone in this building knows one another. The walk from his door to the revolving door in the lobby is a mile long and haunted. Muffled, far away sounds from every direction and behind every door. In the lobby, people are friendly and warm but think that he is frightening and small and shaky and dangerous, a rabid animal. Hold your children closer, whisper while you watch him, close and latch the door, the double bolt. Shiver shudder shake. The revolving door maintains a constant seal on his building, keeps the cold out and the gossip in. They are afraid of him, and he is afraid of them and there's not a lot to do about it.

Outside, the same people walk by him every day. Over the years, two people that used to walk along his route started walking together, they lived on the same street and would bump into each other at the bottom of the hill, then they lived in the same building, now they have a blue sedan and a pink baby seat. He wonders if they still know each other, if they tell the story of how they met, if their child will believe in things like this forever, if it will ruin life for her later. Wouldn't it have to? He would catch himself hoping that it would, and would try to walk faster and think of other things.

His office is housed in a skyscraper shaped like a knife; he sits at a desk shaped like a wound. Ergonomic and misshapen new age impracticality; a wavy red wood blob. He opens the face on his watch, and hangs it from its perch, a red felt T. He rests his hands on his keyboard, looks straight ahead and vanishes for ten hours.

The walk home is dark and quiet. He tries to time his steps to the ticking of his watch. He’s nearly home. He can’t wait for it to be over.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Middle of a Pulp Detectve Story

But all of that had brought him here, underground in the sub-basement of Dr. Monk’s library. The stairway behind the bookcase was dark, the steps were deep and the tail of his trench coat dragged as he walked. The trigger book had a bright red cover, Diseases of the Lower Intestine. A little obvious but Monk wasn’t subtle. Killed half a dozen people and left them in the train yard. All in a heap in a freight car, broken and swollen.

The sub-basement was dug personally, maybe by hand, it connected down into the old subway tunnels. There was an annex that was supposed to run through here, connect the blue and red lines. It lost funding and was sealed off; Monk broke through, quadrupled the size of his home and built his immense, arcane laboratory. It was all spider webs and test tubes, an old centrifuge, high ceilings barely filled with sickly yellow light from a solitary lamp at the bottom of the stairwell.

Hasher would kill him if he found him here, at the scene. But Hasher wouldn’t, he didn’t know about Monk’s bookcase yet. He wouldn’t for a few more hours. Not until they deciphered Monk’s cipher from the newspaper. It’d only taken the detective a few hours to solve it, Hasher would need more time, more men, the computers. He wouldn’t see the key to it, the train yard. The sequence of call letters starting with the R 17, the subway here, now, his lair. The Annex. Under the intersection of 18th and Vine. The cipher wasn’t a message, it was a map. It all led here. Into the bowels. Even the book had the library code: S18 1977. It all fit.

But Hasher wasn’t meant to be here. Not yet. The detective was. Monk and the detective were dancing around each other, dropping little love notes. This time it was in the newspaper, the last time was in the train yard, the time before that it was the detectives turn, he’d cleaved his way through Lucy’s bar, the docks, and the old observatory. He’d left messages with Monk’s men. He’d left his footprint. Let Monk know he was coming. And here he was. And Monk was gone. Leaving behind more papers, more clues. The detective stood in The Annex, the air was acrid with the smell of alcohol. He’d bothered to disinfect his patients. Their blood was still in the traps of the operating table, dark stains festering. With it, “Too Late Detective” was scrawled on the opposing wall, above the tracks that ran through the far half of the room.


He didn’t want to, but it was time to go to The Rat. He didn’t like it. He didn’t like The Rat’s game. He hated back scratching, but The Rat would know more about The Monk than The Detective would, and though he couldn’t squeeze The Rat for information, he could offer it in other ways. One of The Rat’s boys was in the clink and it wouldn’t take much to get him loose. He’d have to call Darla. Goddamn if it doesn’t always come back to Darla. Goddamn if he didn't need a drink.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Tiny, Easy Mystery

A Tiny, Easy Mystery

He’d swear it never stops raining. Every night just before he locks up it gets cloudy. Every night just as he locks the door it starts raining. Every night he turns around and there’s a man with his collar pulled up, running by. Always. The streets hiss at him. Every night.

James sweeps up at the gym. It’s a place for boxers. It’s hidden, there’s no sign, the trainers are crooks and the boxers too. He’s been told that it’s famous, that famous fighters have trained here, went on to fight celebrities, and won big money just for losing. He’s been working there long enough to know that’s not true. He doesn’t get paid much. It’s a filthy job full of sweaty, dirty things.

Two weeks ago someone shot Morris McCarthy out front, then drug the poor kid into the ring and let him die there. Nobody knows who did it, but nobody really cares. The gym is carefully stowed in a back alley, everyone at the gym is from a smaller alley, small enough to think this is the big time. Whoever shot Morris was from an alley even smaller. Somewhere like where James lives, where all the fire escapes are rust red and shaky, where the windows have bars all the way to the roof and all the way down into the basement where all the rain runs down into the windows and finds the cracks in the door and warps James’ floor and runs into the crate where he keeps his long-ruined records.

Morris lived in the building next door. Giant and rotting. He was an out of shape loudmouth, a born talent gone lousy with drugs. But strong, always strong. He put the wallop on Sly Tate pretty good. Just got a good one in and Sly almost went through the ropes. Everyone thought Morris was going to the show real quick after that. Everyone.

But strong, always strong. Pulled all the wrong people to him, into the club and filled the place with terrible people. James saw Morris hit a lady one time, at the diner by the docks, late at night. Morris didn’t know James was there, he was with his entourage, hangers on. This was after he bought the gym but before he lost the rematch to Tate. A local celebrity goon. A story that got shorter and shorter, third round, second round, first round, knock out. He reached up and slapped a lady waitress, right as she was bringing him the check. Said he didn’t pay in this town. Told her he was Morris McCarthy.

James shot Morris McCarthy. And his old arms pulled him out of the rain and into the gym, across the tile and pushed him into the ring and then he shot him again. It took two hours and nobody cares enough to figure it out. The bullet was fired from the old revolver of an old man at a known nuisance. He found the revolver behind his house in some tall grass, back when there was tall grass. Back when James was fighting, back when he almost took down the champ. Duster. Duster Figg. Everyone called him Duster. A German kid. Was it German? Big as a house. It was in all the papers for weeks. Broke his goddamned nose right at the end. A quick snap and his nose opened like a goddamned faucet, sure as I’m sitting here.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

More or Less What I heard At The Annual Company Update Presentation


Hello everyone. Thanks for being patient while we got the projector working; I'm all thumbs when it comes to that sort of thing. Last week my wife and I spent about an hour trying to send pictures to our niece out at Notre Dame. I know, I know. I kept saying it would get there faster if we just mailed them to her! Oh by the way, thanks for this lovely weather in "Sunny" California. I really think it was warmer in Chicago when I left. I'm serious. Look at Alex shaking his head "I don't think so, boss!" Alright, alright, enough of that.

It's nice to see everyone again, for the new faces, I'm Mike Schulman I'm sure I've e-mailed with many of you. If this is your first January here with iVation, I welcome you. Our goal today is to go over the past fiscal year: Challenges met, challenges conquered, improvement areas, acquisitions and new products. I'm going to talk about strengths and weaknesses, I'm going to talk about goals and motivation, and then I'm going to bring up Dave from accounting to go over some of the finer points of our bottom line, and then, finally, I'm going to open the floor to questions. I will do my best to answer your questions and promise that if I do not have the answer in front of me, I'll get you a satisfactory answer before the end of the day.


In 2007 I stood in this very spot and talked about our short-term goals. We were just coming off our best year in our company's history. We had a twenty percent growth in 2006 and we looked to continue that pattern going into 2007. We did, however, realize there were some serious obstacles, some one-time event occurrences, like the sale of our company to our parent company Aceleron, which would not allow us to grow that strong in the following year. We set our goal at roughly eight percent growth. We didn't have a bad year, far from a terrible year, but we all know we could have done better. Our final numbers put us at just over 5 percent growth in 2007. This, in my mind, is an average year, an OK year, a so - so year. Some of you thought the original goal was set too high at 8 percent or northwards, but, we here at iVation set out to set high water marks. We want to be the industry leader that we know we can be.

One of our biggest goals in 2007 was the iVation Internet Initiative. We started out to assemble a comprehensive website that would offer our product to the masses. How many people who had never heard of iVation before.? How many people are new to computers? How many people can the power of iVation help? These were important questions in 2006. I’m happy to say we had the right answers in 2007. We have been aggressively tracking our branding output over the last twelve months. Last year, in this very room I told you that we would have an 87 percent saturation rate or I would consider our year a failure. We have spent the last month polling through the independent, non-partisan, polling company QuesTion that has put together a comprehensive report verifying that our saturation rate has successfully crossed the 90 percent rate. Absolutely. A round of applause is in order. Absolutely.

The iVation Internet Initiative has been a success across the board. Traffic is up across the board. Sales are up across the board. Production is up across the board. Shipping, up across the board. All of these numbers point to a massive 2008 at iVation. Our projections are impressive to say the least.


I'd say this chart is motivating! Take a look at this chart! This is the overall influx of orders has gone up exponentially throughout the year. Remember that 8 percent growth I was talking about? That was all achieved in the fourth quarter. iVation Internet Initiative is changing the face of this company. iVation Internet Initiative along with Frankenstein are changing the future of this company, my future, your future, our future. And what if Frankenstein walked in right now? That would be motivating. Do you simply run out the door and hope that he doesn't catch you?


Hopefully everyone received my email the other day regarding Frankenstein policy. I know Mr. Sanders in the Handsome Department has. Incidentally, let's have a round of applause for Senator Sanders and his fine work in the Handsome Department. Since his hiring just three months ago, Handsome has been up across the board, crowbars have been pretzeled, damsels rescued, lions tamed and rings of fire jumped through. But, that being said, all the handsome in the world isn't going to save you from Frankenstein if he walked in this door that I've bolted shut behind me. I stood on this very spot last year and reminded you to install the comprehensive Frankenstein Preparedness kit that Mr. Sanders famously implemented at Candyland only last year. And I stood on this very spot and recommended that there be at least one trap door installed behind each door. And what do we have to show for it?


There have been three separate Frankenstein attacks in 2007. Now, I don't know what we've done to irritate Mr. Frankenstein the way we have, but with our comprehensive iVation Immobilization and Immolation package, I feel that 2008 might be our best year for quelling Frankenstein. While sales are up across the board, and while I attribute much of this to Frankenstein, let's face facts, the Albert family, the Quinn family and Victor's family would be much happier if sales were down along with Frankenstein related accidents. As we know Rene Albert and Jason Quinn used to work in our Data Entry department, but were torn limb from limb in their desks. I'm sure you've all seen the Certificate of Recognition we hung over the Frankenstein-shaped hole in the North wall by the Lobby. Victor, who due to his recent trauma did not feel up to attending our meeting here today, Victor is physically unharmed, and heroically tried to trip tackle Frankenstein as he was de-arming the cleaning lady, whose name escapes me, but Frankenstein somehow figured out where Victor lived and when Victor got home that night, his wife had her arms and legs removed by a vengeful Frankenstein.

iVation Immobilization and Immolation Plan

Unfortunately, last year, Frankenstein hacked into our intranet and studied our comprehensive Anti-Frankenstein measures and was ready to destroy them as we installed them. Needless to say this was unexpected. I remember everyone was particularly upset when he threw the Contractor's daughter into the depths of the Pacific Ocean. That couldn't be helped and, as the courts will show, was not our fault. We’ve all signed Doug’s petition to suspend Bring Your Daughter to Work Day, and some people just don’t listen. But, again, these are all learning experiences. I’m happy to report that our Frankenstein knowledge is at an all time high, across the board.

Back to Basics

Several members of the board and I have reviewed our old plan and found it deeply flawed. We estimate that nearly 70 percent of our proposed anti-Frankenstein measures would not have worked to the desired ends, namely, killing Frankenstein. As recent studies show, Frankenstein is in-fact unstoppable and after the question "How do you kill that which does not live" was posited and reposited over and over by Hassan our Summer Abroad Student on loan from Transylvania, we really started rethinking our strategy on a very deep level. We went down to probably nine or ten levels of deep analysis, we’ve crunched the numbers, attacked this thing from all angles, and felt like the smartest thing was to meet in a cave in Alameda, wearing cloaks and review plans under torchlight. And here's what we've come up with:

Fire Bad

Fire Bad. Fire. Bad. We feel that the best way to deal with the Frankenstein monster is not with very elaborate weaponry, as we did in Phase One in Q2 of 05, 05 was marred by listening to the Military Industrial Complex. Here's a handy chart of Bullets Fired vs. Frankenstein Death Toll. We lost about half the office on this one. The bullets seemed to mildly irritate Frankenstein. Of course that's Mildly Irritate on the Frankenstein Anger Scale where Mildly Irritate ranking about a six out of a ten, each increment of course has a death factor of ten, so we were down about sixty staff members; it's represented on this chart as a blue line. The larger red line on the graph is of course property damage, productivity lost, and the overall stock price drop between the incident and when the incident was fully recovered from. That's a lot of red.

Now, when you factor in the ancillary death toll, that of the bullets that unfortunately bounced off Frankenstein's steely hide and maimed bystanders trying to remove themselves from his unbreakable grip that blue line goes much higher, but fortunately the red line doesn't climb too high. This was one of the few benefits of our poorly conceived machine gun turret “defense-as-offense” strategy, bullets leave relatively small holes and spackle is inexpensive.

We are now looking at providing each member of the staff with a large wooden club, a box of rags and a squirt-bottle full of a fuel to be decided. We're shopping around for the fuel and with the price of gas being what it is; it might take a while to choose. We're looking at a silicon valley start up that uses a simple light bulb and a series of intensifying lenses and could be used over and over to light the rags right at your desk. No more fumbling with matches or lighters and dropping them at the last second. That's what happened to Bill Watersmith. Remember? Remember. Fire Bad.

Remember that we're all in this together. Remember to bolt the doors, remember that if he breaks through the wall, ceiling or floor, if he flies in through the window, grab your club light it with the fuel to be decided and try to direct him towards the pit. If the pit is inaccessible, try to use one of the wall mounted baby-dolls. This measure has proven fairly ineffective in the past, but might buy you a few moments while he decides whether or not he can rip the arms and legs off the doll, or perhaps drown the doll. Be aware, however, that if you remember this chart, the baby-doll will buy you roughly two seconds of added escape time, but will increase Frankenstein's Rage exponentially.

We want to get him into the pit, and immediately set him on fire. Fire Bad. If one of you goes the extra mile and is willing to be bait for Frankenstein, it will definitely be a favorable mark on your file. Maybe bring in a kitten, try to lure the monster towards the pit. Remember Jason Farthow? He used to work in Data and now he's Project Manager for the whole Eastern Sea Board, he has his own parking spot and -- well he'd have that anyway I suppose, but the point is he took one for the team and he still gets out of bed and rolls into the office with a smile on his face.

I’d like to thank all of you for coming and considering all of this information. With your help we can make 2008 a record year for this company. It’s going to take hard work, it’s going to take determination, it’s going to take aggressive marketing and torch wielding, it’s going to take self sacrifice by the flaming pit to make this company what I’ve always imagined it being. I’d like to thank you for your patience, I’m going to have Dave come up now and go over our profits for the year, for Dave’s sake I ask those of you wearing crucifixes to politely tuck them inside your shirt. Thanks very much. Here's Dave Van Szekely, everyone.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I'm going to post this despite the fact that it is not finished. I was very anxious about finishing it today and posting it, but I am tremendously hungover because some friends of mine are moving to France and we went to a bar to celebrate. Was it France? I don't remember where exactly they're moving to, but it's someplace filled with Enemies. Of Democracy. Someplace in Europe.

Anyway, I was very excited about posting this. And though I could not possibly do anything creative in my condition, I feel like I should still be able to fulfil one half of my plan to Finish and Post.

I sat through an hour long buisness presentation at work yesterday and this is basically how it went:

More or Less What I Heard At The Annual Company Update
You know what? I've changed my mind. I'm not posting it. No half assing in 2008! You'll have to wait for my transcription of what it's like to sit through such a meeting. Do you like figures? Buisness speak? Misspelling? Then you'll love this.
Shouldn't I just erase this and forget the whole thing and make a real post when I finish the thing? No. Fuck you.
In the meantime, to tide you over, check out the links at right.
One is my brother's photography. My brother is talented and one time when I was eight and affraid of ghosts, he rigged up our bedroom so that when I walked in things would fall on me, then, when I opened the closet door, had connected a wire from the door handle, to the sleeve of one of my shirts, which he had bobby-pinned a batting glove to so that when I opened the door it looked like a hand was reaching out to grab me.
The second is the aforementioned Enemy To Democracy, Ammon, who actually moved to Cambridge, England with his lovely wife Anne, so that she could study the feet of things that have sticky feet. He is a very good writer and has a book that you should buy from him. He has never pulled any ghost related pranks on me.
The third is Andrew McGowan. Andy has also never tried to convince me that my house was haunted but one time the lights when out in his house when we were drunk and about five of us sang "Home on The Range" for two hours.