Monthly Archives: February 2013

Taking A Dream To A Creative Work

After a dream I sit at my computer and let the creative magic take over.

After a dream I sit at my computer and let the creative magic take over.

Daily Prompt: First Light

Remember when you wrote down the first thought you had this morning? Great. Now write a post about it.

This past weekend I had a dream. I knew it was a dream. At the time the dream seemed like it fit well with a novel I’m writing.

As I laid there in my half-dream state particulars of the dream were reviewed. If it did not fit well in the novel, for certain, it was intriguing and complete enough to stand on its own as a short story – a really good short story, one that would surely appear in The New Yorker.

I began composing a letter to The New Yorker about my story. I began thinking of ways to use the fat check they would pay for the story.  The story would fetch somewhere around $3,000, minimum.

I drifted back in the dream to converse with several of the characters in order to explore more deeply their motivations and thinking. And of course to have them grant me permission to use them in my short story or novel.

Laying there I began to marvel at the creative process. I thought of all the times trying to come up with an idea for a story and nothing came to me and here in a dream it merely passed under my nose. It was as easy as picking fruit.

Thoughts crossed my mind that perhaps I’d crossed some sort of threshold in creative genius, although I’d never heard of such an experience.

As the time approached for me to awaken certain elements of the story began to fade and had to be reeled in like hooking fish. Some elements swam away, but I was certain when at my computer with my coffee they could be captured and preserved in my hard-drive.

Soon I was completely awake. I laid their with only the outline of the story in my mind. I thought perhaps by sleeping for just a few moments more, elements of the dream could be retrieved. My eyes closed for a moment. They opened.

I made my coffee. I sat at my computer and said, “What was that dream? Where’s my check?”

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Filed under Daily Prompt, Essays

I Didn’t Make Parole

Daily Prompt: Comedy of Errors (and bonus assignment!)

Murphy’s Law says, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Write about a time everything did — fiction encouraged here, too!

imagesCALU1OEKI used to work for Sterling Johnson, a great company. I started entry-level in marketing. It’s hard to get a job there. Your past has to be impeccable, your character beyond reproach. The pre-employment screening includes several interviews, drug tests, a lie detector exam, psychological testing, and an interview with a psychologist, and an extensive background check.

I received a couple of awards, raises ahead of schedule, and two promotions.

Sterling Johnson does not discourage employees from marrying one another. I was dating Amy, a recent grad from Colgate. We were talking seriously about marriage.

My brother Darin lives with me. I love him. He’s the branch of the tree that produces the bitter fruit.

I worked days and supposed to report to work at 8:00 AM. I show up at 7:30. Darin worked the graveyard at an all-night diner. He was the grill man. His shift ends at 5:00 AM. He’s home by 5:20 AM. He wakes me, we talk, have coffee and breakfast together. I left the apartment at 7:15 AM. It’s a seventeen minute drive, but I allow for traffic backups, trains, and bad weather.

It was a year ago I worked until 10:00 PM. When I got home Darin was already gone. I could see he had some of his seedy friends over. They left the residue of a few beers and the stench.

I showered and went to bed. The next thing I remember is Darin shaking me. “Dude, you got to get up it’s quarter past seven!”

I jumped out of bed and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. “I’ve got time,” I said.

While brushing, shaving, combing, and deodorizing, Darin explained. “The place closed down at three. Some stoner hit a power pole. Me and my friends at work crashed at somebody’s place. We were blowing weed the rest of the night. Dude I’m sorry. I hope I’m not making you late. Can you call in sick or something.”

“I’m not sick,” I said sharply. “That may be the way you run your life, but that’s not the way I run mine.”

I grabbed my cloths from the closet and ran to the kitchen wearing nothing but my briefs. Opening the refrigerator I grabbed a carafe of orange juice and gulped it down like a thirsty farm hand. It tasted strange, but I just brushed my teeth. “That’s not toothpaste,” I said after two more gulps.” It was whiskey. Darin spiked the orange juice the night before.

I ran to the car still in my briefs. ’I can slip my cloths on while driving,’ I thought. I grabbed my keys from my pants pocket and ripped my pocket. ’Dress code,’ I thought. “Every Sterling Johnson employee must wear clothing neat in appearance with no missing buttons, frayed collars, or tears.”

“I got an extra pair at work,”

I put the key in the ignition and started the car. As I pulled my hand away the cuff of my shirt caught on the key chain. I jerked and the key broke-off. ’I’ll call the dealership from work.”

The neighbor’s boy left his bike parked behind my car. I ran over it and dragged it a couple of car lengths before knowing what I did.

The car smelled like a pot house. There was a note on he dash. I grabbed it and read, “Hey Brother Dude, my car was low on gas last night so I got off early and used it to go to some friends place to crash. I was pumped and didn’t want to come home and wake you.”

Bam! While reading the not I hit a light pole. ’I’ll call it in.’

There was a lonely stretch of road, it was a back way to work and not much traffic. ’That would be a good place for me to put my pants on.’

I tossed the pants to the floor and began to pull them past my ankles. I steered with my teeth clinched to the steering wheel. I heard a siren. I’m pulled over by a State Patrolman. I have whiskey on my breath from the whisky/orange juice cocktail in the refrigerator, the car reeks of marijuana, and I don’t have any pants on . It was all caught on the dash cam. I was arrested on the spot. My car sat by the side of the road all day with the engine running. The engine blew.

The drug squad of the Highway Patrol brought a K-9 unit to sniff the car. It appears one of Darin’s friends tossed his months supply of weed in the trunk.

Well anyway, her I am in jail; charged and convicted for possession of an illegal amount of drugs, driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, and public indecency.

Six months ago Sterling Johnson decided to hire people with a past in the hopes of giving them a second chance that they might show extraordinary loyalty and work ethic in return. The program has been very successful. They hired my brother Darin. He’s doing great and he’s now engaged to Amy.

I’m going to have to serve my entire eighteen month sentence. I didn’t make parole. One of the conditions to early release was that I needed a place to stay. The logical place would be with Darin, but Sterling Johnson has a policy for employees hired under their new rehabilitation program; they could not have association with persons who have a criminal past.

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Filed under Daily Prompt, Short Stories

Crushed (A short story)

imagesCAN1JVYLWeekly Writing Challenge: Dystopia!

Peter lives in dystopia. It happened suddenly, all in one day.

“Thank you for coming to my office,” Mr. Crag said formally.

“No problem, Mr. Crag,” Peter smiled. “I’m always glad to meet with you and express some new things that the two of us have in mind.”

“Peter,” Mr. Crag said smugly. “That will be impossible from this day forward.

Sudden euphoria warmed his chest. It was difficult for him not to appear elated, but he felt as though it was upon his face flashing like a neon sign. The rumor was that a new project started. It called for new men, new ideas. He had worked hard for this promotion. There were late nights, taking work home, and working the weekends. He volunteered for every task. He laughed at Mr. Crags bad jokes. He covered for him. Now he was about to be rewarded.

“Peter, you have been dismissed.” Mr. Crag said. “At this time your computer is being removed from your office and your access code and email account with us are being erased.

Pete started to sit.

“Please don’t sit,” Mr. Crag said. “Weldon from security is behind you. He will escort you back to what used to be your office to clean out your personal effects. A box will be provided for you and you will be charged for it.”

“I don’t understand, Mr. Crag,” Peter said.

Crag nodded his head to Weldon. “Show Peter back to his old office and escort him to the front door.”

“But, Mr. Crag,” Peter said.

“Please, Peter, follow Weldon,” Mr. Crag said.

Peter turned. There was no eye contact from Weldon.

Weldon was the man he saw everyday as he entered the department. The first smiling face. He always told Peter what kind of mood Mr. Crag was in. Now it was as if he had no face, no feeling, and no soul.

They walked the hallway on the way to Peter’s department. He felt the cold presence of Weldon like an open window on a winter night.

The faces that smiled and greeted him at one time walked by as if he were invisible. It seemed like a dream

He walked slowly into his department. The first desk was Marge, a short stout bubbly woman with hair stacked high like a corn shock. She quickly looked away. ‘How does she know’ Peter wondered? For all she knew Weldon could just be on another assignment and walking the same direction.

Peter saw Robertson standing at the printer near the widow. He quickly looked outside. There was nothing to see, only a gravel covered flat room.

Peter walked toward his office. Miss Sanders his secretary quickly grabbed some papers from the he desk and quickly walked to Doug Belcher’s desk at the far end of the room. Belcher looked down the aisle. He saw Peter and rolled on chair under into his desk.

Peter stepped to the doorway of his office. On the wall to his right was a number of awards and plaques for him and his department. He tried to smile. He proudly stuck out his chin.

Peter turned to the department. Everyone was busy at their computers and workstations. “You knew, you all knew, didn’t you?”

No one raised their heads or gave the slightest indication that a word was uttered.

A cardboard box sat on his desk. He moved dolefully toward his awards and plaques. He removed one from the wall. It read “Employee of the Year.”

“I’m sorry sir,” Weldon said. “Technically that belongs to the company.”

Peter tossed it on his chair.

Peter scanned the room. He quickly calculated the size of the items purchased directly by him; a picture of his family, a name plate, a desk clock, a autographed picture of Clint Eastwood, a game ball from an Illinois/Northwestern football game, and model of a sailboat. He reached for the upper right desk drawer.

“There’s nothing in there, sir,” Weldon said moving toward Peter.

“My car keys,” Peter said.

“Oh, my mistake, sir,” Weldon reached in his pocket and handed the car keys to Peter.

“I’m leaving it all, Weldon,” Peter said.

“Very well, sir,” Weldon said. “You will be sent a bill for removal.”

Peter knew when this happened there was no use in trying to retain your job. The corporation was so big and powerful that it would end up mentally and emotionally exhausting you and ruining your life.

Peter thought he had a future with the corporation. His life was mortgaged on that expectation. Their were promises made and he had met or exceeded all expectations.

“It’s a shock,” Peter said to Weldon. “I’ve seen it done and always assumed the guy did something really bad, but I haven‘t done anything, but work hard and be loyal.”

Peter grabbed the football and tossed it to Weldon. “This is yours.”

“Don’t have any need for it, sir,” Weldon said and placed it in the chair.

“And neither do I,” Pete said.

He walked to the elevator with Weldon behind him. The decent of five floors to the ground floor seemed faster than normal.

“Did you have them speed it up?” Peter chuckled slightly.

“No sir,” Weldon said

The door opened and ahead of Peter was the glass doors to the outside. The hallway and lobby that always appeared full of life and greenery was suddenly drab and lifeless.

At the door he turned to Weldon and offered his hand. “No hard feelings, Weldon. I understand you are just doing your job. You know that this corporation makes Weldon?”

Weldon held the door open.

“It makes misery,” Pete said. “I see it on your face and everybody’s”

“Sir,” Weldon said. “The door.”

Peter walked to his car. He stopped and turned. The building he once saw as full of energy, excitement, security, purpose, ideas, and integrity melted in front of him like lava. The trees that lined the walk appeared dead and skeleton-like. The bright white building turned to a pale shade of gray. He looked in the windows only seeing robotic manikins moving about aimlessly.

Life was never been the same since that day twenty-two years ago. After three years of looking for a job and finding none his wife left with their child. Peter tried a few career changes; the last one a night clerk at a local motel. All the old friends moved away.

The building he worked at now sits empty. It’s been empty for fifteen years. The corporation found a new location and left this one behind. Peter took up residence their. He had no place else to go, except the streets or shelters. He found his way through a basement window. He wanders the empty offices, conference rooms, and hallways to pass the time. There is as much life there now as the day he left.

Not too many know about the window. He found a comfortable room that belonged to one of the janitors. He shares it with two others. There’s three mattresses, a battery radio, and a hot plate.

It was a cold winter day. Peter crawled through the window eased himself to the floor. Today he had a bag full of discarded snacks from a wholesale bakery. He walked the long tunnel-like hallway with steam pipes that ran the length of it.

He arrived at the room and opened the door. “Crag, Weldon, you ought to see what I got today.”

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To Be Happily Ever After You Must Be Happily Ever Before.

(Daily Prompt: Happily Ever After)

“And they lived happily ever after.” Think about this line for a few minutes. Are you living happily ever after? If not, what will it take for you to get there?

It looks like an idyllic 'happily ever after' existence, but it sure looks like a lot of upkeep too.

It looks like an idyllic ‘happily ever after’ existence, but it sure looks like a lot of upkeep too.

The phrase “And they lived happily ever after,” suggest things weren’t so good in the past’ something else was needed to make life more complete.

For one to ‘live happily ever after’ ones ever ‘present’ and ever ‘past’ must be happy also.

What sometimes makes an ‘ever after’ happy is not bringing the unhappiness of the past or present into the ‘ever after.’ In other words, what ever makes you unhappy let it go or beat it to death with kindness and happiness.

Some things have to be sugar-coated, like bitter pills that are ultimately good for you. Misery and unhappiness from the past if properly evaluated makes good material for a foundation of a ’happily ever after.’

‘Happily ever after’ often neglects the effort and work to maintain it.

Every product sold is based on ’happily ever after’ with little thought toward what it will take to attain or maintain it. You will ’live happily ever after’ if you buy our car. We’ll get the payments down so low you can swing it. There is little mention of the expense to maintain it. Purchase our I-whatever; it will help you ’live happily ever after.’ Sure you must sign a contract that will tether you to us at a hundred dollars a month fro ‘ever after‘, but think how happy you will be. Purchase our insurance and you’ll ’live happily ever after,’ but don’t file a claim. If you call us you’ll be on hold for ‘ever after.’

Those are not the things that make life ’happily ever after.’

Although my past or present circumstances weren’t or aren’t perfect they are not that bad.

All I ask for a ‘happily ever after’ is that my needs; spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically are met and that those around me prosper in the same way. To have anymore than that is mere folly.

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Maston Shows No Mercy: Boise State’s Mercy Maston

Mercy Maston, angel face and lion heart.

Mercy Maston, angel face and lion heart.

Mercy Maston is one of the ESPN’s top 100 from junior college.

What is impressive about Maston is his 4.2 forty speed.

On the playing field he has instincts for being near the ball, whether that ball is in the air or tucked in a runner’s arm. He has an unbelievable ability for closing in fast on a runner trying to make it to the corners. This is critical if Boise State is ever going to solve the problems the option offense has given them in the past.

Boise State’s defensive backs are coming off a year that allowed only four passing touchdowns. Much better than the 2011 performance of twenty-one. The difference was corners that close fast and have the ability to step in front of the pass.

In order for Boise to continue at their current pace and move to the upper echelon of college football programs they must rule the secondary.

Boise has always been able to recruit defensive backs that are the cornerstone of their defense. They are tough and aggressive.

Mercy Maston may well be the most talented corner Boise State has ever had. Having junior college experience under his belt may well place him in the starting line-up come August 31st against Washington.

I like to see those fast guys recklessly streak the field on a kick-off and nail the runner before he has time to think. A kick-off takes a smidge of three seconds to fall into the arms of the deep back near the goal line. It’s nice to have three or four guys (or more) with 4.5 forty speed or less there to great him. Mercy Maston will do quite nicely.

“Thud! Hello, my name is Mercy Maston.”

“Nice to meet you Mercy. Mom, is the bus here yet?”

Maston is a big time hitter.


Filed under Boise, Sports

If A Woman Don’t Find You Handsome They Should At Least Find You Handy

Daily Prompt: Cliché

Clichés become clichés for a reason. Tell us about the last time a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush for you.

Two aren't always better than one, especially when a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

Two aren’t always better than one, especially when a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

“Just look at him Harry,” Maxine said taking a sip of beer from a can. “He’s getting another Oscar. Twenty years ago I kicked him out of my apartment and divorced him. He was always too busy to fix the light switch or too busy to fix the drip in the faucet. He had other things to do. He worked morning till night, for what; to buy me a cheap pair of earrings? When we split I could only hock them for a couple of hundred dollars.”

“That was pretty good money twenty years ago,” Harry said leaning forward to listen to the Oscar presentations on the television.

“Look at him, they say he’s sex symbol,” Maxine said flinging the back at her hand towards the television. “When I knew him he was nothing. He was a zero.”

“Can you be quiet, Maxine,” Harry said edging closer to the television. “I want to hear if he mentions you in his acceptance.”

“When the divorce was final he joined this acting class, because he said he needed to come out of the shell I put him in. That’s where snails live. He was a snail I tell you! A snail has more gumption.” Maxine passed gas. “Take that you worm.”

“I thought you said he was a snail, now you say he‘s a worm?” Harry said. “What’s that smell? Smells like the garbage disposal isn‘t working again.”

“Snail!” Maxine said. “He had the gumption of a snail, but the personality of a worm.”

“Yeah I see what you mean, Maxine,“ Harry said. “Anyone can tell that. Look he can’t hardly make it up the steps to get his Oscar.”

“Sure I was unfaithful,” Maxine said woefully. “But what was I going to do? If the facets dripped I had an affair with you, Harry and when the light switch needed fixed I had an affair with Johnny.”

“They say he made twenty-two million dollars last year,” Harry said. “Yeah, and I bet his faucets still leak.”

“What about the garbage disposal?” Maxine said. “Didn’t you just say it’s not working?”

“That’s a job for the electrician.”

“Johnny!” Maxine bellowed. “What are you doin’?”

“I’m in the bedroom watching your ex get another Oscar!” Johnny said. “It looks like he’s tired of getting them. He looks winded.”

“Well get out here and fix my garbage disposal!” Maxine said.

“Yeah,” Harry said. “It smells like somebody farted.”

“It’s smells terrible out here!” Maxine said.

“In a minute, in a minute,” Johnny said.

“You know something Maxine? You never had it so good. Somethin’ goes wrong ya got two guys livin’ with ya that can about fix anything. When ya had that no-account actor nothin’ got done around here.”

“Listen, listen,” Harry said. “Let’s see if he mentions you in his acceptance speech.”

“I’d like to thank my first wife who kicked me out of the house. That sent me to acting school and where I find myself today. And by the way, I’m not saying I’m good, but it took two men to replace me.”

“Did you hear that, Johnny?” Harry said. “He even mentioned us, what a guy!”

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Am I Obsessed With 1962?

'62 - CopyDaily Prompt: Buffalo Nickel 

Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?

My second novel, The Summer of ’62 was semiautobiographical. Events that  took place over three years were condensed into one summer. Three or four characters were molded into one.

My son read the book with that understanding alone. He called me after reading a chapter and said, “Dad, you did that!”

“No,” I said. “That was all fiction.”

We discussed more of the events in the novel; which ones took place in ’62 and the ones that didn’t. We concluded that nearly all took place in that summer and there were some things that actually occurred, but not included.

“Wow! That must have been quite a summer,” he said.

“You betcha,” I said.

I wrote a sequel to The Summer of ’62, but it has not been published.

The logical title would be The Fall of ’62. ’Wait a minute!’ I thought. “Is that all I’m ever going to write about; 1962?’ So I set the manuscript aside (stored it on disk), with the idea of giving it some thought. Well after a while I reasoned ’it is what it is’ and just opted for another title; The Id and Odyssey.

Polo_Grounds_My son kept pressing me to write a book that I first told him about when he was about fifteen and every now and then he said, “When are you going to write it?”

Well last year I finished it. It was fiction based upon actual events. It was a novel about baseball. It was based on the premise of baseball’s worst team actually being the best.

The first year of the New York Mets nearly all the players were cast-offs from other teams. A friend and I wondered what if those players selected in the expansion draft by the Mets had the best year of their careers?

My friend played a baseball game based on statistics and probability (APBA). We were able to take the best years from each player’s past and play them the first year of the New York Mets. Thus, the first year they played for the Mets was their best year ever as a player rather than the worst.

I played the entire season with the statistics of players from their best years. That year was fictionalized and made into a book.

What was I to name it? Well I changed the name of the team from the Mets to the Sewer Rats. The reason is a part of the story. Hmm, what was the first year of the Mets? It was 1962. So another novel based on 1962; The 1962 New York Sewer Rats – Baseball’s Greatest Story!

All I can say is that it was a heckuva year.

I have another book idea; what if the United States went to war with the Soviet Union over the Cuban missile crises? Wasn’t that 1962 also? Just sayin’.

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Filed under Daily Prompt, My Books