And it’s all just words, empty phrases and utterances. A man struggling not to drown, is what a writer (person?) is. But all that verbal flailing seems to be the core of the problem. All these extra words are just bad techniques which have to be abandoned in the next attempt. Just an endless sowing of existential angst, a tone which escalates in feverish pitch, but never hits that ceiling, never climaxes.
I’ve been learning Spanish. Do it on duo-lingo on my phone. It’s fun and I can just tear through the exercises, the same strength and weakness of intuitive ability at play. . You can feel the shared history of words from the morphing collective feel of them. Peace, Paz, Pax, Pace.
You know about the Tower of Babel? Ah, fuck it. Point I was going to make was about how language fails us at its critical task, namely talking to one another. Because there’s always this gap of language and inner psychology, that obscures shared understanding. You don’t know what the words mean, objectively or subjectively to the other person, or really to yourself either.
What attracted me to words early on has soured and now often repulses. I was trying to figure “it” out. The whole pie, in and out, and the words were a safe and more importantly available way to get at the thing. But now they’ve not satiated, yet left their remnants, and they’ve warped the vessel.
Not broken, note, just warped. To the point they can just pour and pour and fill and fill, and the original hexagonal spout, from having been turned so many times, has worn round and in the flood it can be hard to find and grip it. What’s worse (better?) is you’ve grown amphibious, developed gills and you can make it work underwater, but other can’t, and they start to pull away for air.
“Stop it. Don’t do it. You don’t have to say anything.”
“No Tom, honest, let me say what I feel. I don’t care.”
“Don’t care? Jen? Really? We’ll lose the Private Car.”
“So what? There’s plenty of room on Public.”
“Right and canteen, isn’t so bad either, right? No, it’s everything Jen. Once you start down-trending, it’s over.”
Her insides bubbled. This was going wrong. He wouldn’t let her speak. He never let her speak. He continued on. “They say I’m not canned. Say they’ve seen anomalies like this before. Wait for the bounce they told me. Whatever the hell that means.”
She came and sat beside him, grabbed his hand. She tried to look him in the face, but he kept his head down. She tried again anyway. “Listen, I love you Tom. And we have each other, right? Keep your head down low, work on your socials and who knows. You’ll be higher than ever before.”
“My socials Jen? You really want to go there?” He stood up wand walked across the room. She sat there frozen, hunched over for a second, still trying to comfort his warm ghost. “That’s the exact shit Ray and the guys said. Need to get you out to a couple Saturdays, that would help. I stood there smiling like an idiot. But you know what the e-vite never came and when I thought about it. They just sort of tossed it out there. Never said the exact time and place, like before, or other little juicy details about what we’d be doing. Remember that weekend, a hundred point bump off that. For nothing, sitting around drinking beer and eating chicken wings.”
“Of course I remember that weekend. There was Champagne that Friday in the private.” His memories and aggressiveness were testing her resolve. He had been a seven-hundred when they meet a decade ago. Not that she was the type to really care about those things. She had her own issues, a struggling 650. And actually the week they meet, she took a twenty-five point dump, which was pretty devastating at eighteen years old and in your first week of college. But he had been so kind, understanding. It solidified their relationship. “Tom, I’m just saying for us, I don’t care. We will work it together. Maybe you can come to my reading club? Have a date night? Hold hands on the public, show them what atreasure you are?”
Made her skin prickle the way he looked at her. It was the same Tom, but she had never seen him look like this, looking passed her like that. He’d lost weight recently and now his face looked different. Old if she was being blunt. Just standing there, he seemed like some bones hanging in the room, sort of like a scarecrow. “Well, they say there are people.”
“People Jen? A Fixer. That’s what they’re called, a Fixer. Don’t play games with me.”
“Yes, a Fixer.”
“We don’t have the money, or the trade. Besides dear wife, we both know a Fixer can get you locked down.Neither of us would see above four hundred again if we got caught. No, strap the tourniquet on, and hope you don’t bleed out, that’s all you can do.” He stood there looking passed her, through the wall. It was like the mirror and pictures weren’t there either, or anything else, but beyond it, way down the road, something stood waiting for him.
She stood up again and grabbed him. For a second he stood there stiffly and she had to wrap her arm around him, through his arms. She didn’t mind, but smile and snuggled into him. He broke a second later and wrapped her up. They held each other until their warmth and bodies were inseparable.
The walked to their room, and for the first time in years left the wall screen off. They undressed, made love and fell asleep. She woke up in the middle of the night. She was having a terrible dream. A shadowy thing was chasing her. Her head buzzed and her heart was pounding. She felt Tom’s hot body next to her. He was sweating too. She had to be going crazy she knew, because she began to feel paranoid that their air had been shut off. Maybe Tom had tanked so bad that their allotments could be pushed back. She really should study the Lower Levels again. Things could get tricky. She tried to shake it off. She try to snuggle him again, but he turned away, cuddling the edge now.
She got up and took a shower. It seemed unusually short and the hot water ran out. But at that point she wasn’t trusting her perspective. She wrapped herself in a towel and sat at their kitchen table. It was still dark out. She thought about going for a run, she could hope for a physical fitness bump.
First, she went to her page. There she was 679. Somehow she got a one point positive, since when she checked earlier, after getting the notice about Tom. That was odd she hadn’t moved in month. Well, she tried to reason, maybe things weren’t so bad. She felt herself avoiding it, scrolling down to “Spouse” were Tom and his number would be listed. Avoidance caused her to flip the phone over and set it down. She laughed and then almost began to panic, she didn’t want to wake Tom. Have him see her like this, it would ruin him.
They had to look though. Didn’t they? Stay on top of it. Ignoring it, won’t make it go away. She waited, until her breating was under control and flipped the phone over and scrolled down. Tom Mundus-550. She almost screamed, but bit her hand instead. 550? How had he lost another fifty points? Had he been fired? Had someone died? She wanted to pick up his phone, carry it to the room, get his thumb, open it and check his messages. Her mind began to scramble he must be involved in something else, through work, or friends. Something. Over a hundred points in a week. Another few days like that and they would be ruined. She had to do something.
She walked back to the room and grabbed her running stuff. She tossed it on and grabbed a quick cup of coffee and headed outside. She had three hours until she reported down to the Opinion Station were she would do her work for the day. She was currently reviewing Country-Western infused Japanese music, something she found oddly satisfying. She ran with no intention, but slowly she was making here way towards the shady no-man lands of her city. There were places deep inside the mega-cities, which people claimed were free from surveillance. Privacy was paraphernalia and it went for an expensive rate though.
She had no hard currency, outlawed for two decades, her only knowledge of it was from the news. As she got deeper into areas she’d never been before, she started seeing more and more people. She was out of place in her running gear which screamed above a six hundred. People started giving her creepy looks, hungry looks, asking if they could help her.
She slammed into a man out of nowhere. He was old and black. Dreadlocks ran down to his knees. He was smoking and seemed to swallow her in his presence. “Off the beaten path my darling?”
She was out of breath, panicking. Why had she done this? She was a fool. She wasn’t built for this sort of thing. “Lost. I was running, not thinking. Got turned around.”
“Of course. My name is Marcus. What is yours?”
She shook his extended hand and tried to calm down. “Jane. My name is Jane.”
“Nice, to meet you Jane,” he said, with a smile. “Now I think if you head that way, just keep going straight. You will find your way out. Ignore whatever offers are made on your way out. No need to be down here.”
“Right,” she answered. She couldn’t move though. He stood there, taking slow drags off his cigarette. Her heart screamed run, but her mind worked the situation. She was already down here. She was free to talk to whoever she wanted, right? A hundred points in a week! What did it matter. She was lost. So what?
“Fixer,” the word popped out of her mouth.
“Ah, Jane was looking for something,” the man smiled even more. “A little freedom. A little number. Ah. I see. Amazing.” His faced beamed, a light in the dark alleyway. She realized they had somehow tiptoed away from the sidewalk. Marcus seemed perfectly innocent, too nice even, which meant she was freaking out. The words poured out her mouth without thought. “Its not for me, but my husband. A hundred in a week.”
“Very bad. I understand. Marcus help you.” Then he stood there smiling, waiting for what, Jen was not sure.“I don’t suppose you accept E-points though?”
“No Mam. I do not.” There was more silence. He was coming to the end of his smoke. He stubbed it out and it disappeared in his pocket. “What is your husband’s full legal name Jane? First and Last?”
The whole world seemed to stop. She was crossing over. She realized how stupid she was lying to him in the first place now. She began to feel faint. This was bad. She tried to speak, and the words got caught in her throat. “How much? How does this work?”
“His name?” His smile was gone.
She told him. He disappeared. She waited for a while, walking up and down the section of the street. Then she realized a crowd was forming. Then she remembered work. Realized she would be late. She had to stop at the store for clothes, and then the gym for a shower. She would never make it. She had never been late before. It would produce an action report from work. She realized how stupid she’d been.
All day she was distracted from her work. The meandering guitar strings formed a perfect accompaniment to her endless stream of paranoia. They would pick her up after work. She would be locked up, a four hundred when she got out. She checked her score all day. Both of theirs stayed right where they were. 550 and 679. Here number gave her some relief.
The music was booming down the hall when she got home. Something old, big band or something. She got closer, it was Frank Sintra, way old. Bad omen. What was he so excited about? Probably meant he’d lost it, slit his writs and floated around the room dying, to “Aint That a Kick In The Head.” She stood and composed herself. Nothing had happened. She went for a run and got to work early, that’s it.
The place was alive with light and activity. “ Come in!” Tom called rounding the corner. One looked at her knew something was wrong. “You don’t know do you?” He picked up his phone. “Look, 600, was a glitch in the system. Strangest day ever. I woke up. You weren’t there.”
“Oh great. Well, woke up, hurt you weren’t here. I just stared at my number until it was time to go to work. When I got there everyone was just acting crazy. Staring at me, conversations ending second I walked in the room. So all day I can’t work of course, just keep staring at my number, waiting it for it to take another hit. Ray pops in. Tell me to come by his office after work. We need to talk.” He shook off the effect of the memory and went back to finishing their plates in the kitchen. “So I think of running, maybe go underground, go crazy, get a Fixer, somebody. I waited for you to call, to check in, all sorts of terrible ideas went through my head.”
She was dying. Every bit of her wanted to tell him her stupid mistake. Share it with him. It was too much for her to take alone. Why had all this happened to them? Why was he so goddamn happy? He set a plate of steaming spaghetti in front of her. “Take your coat off, settle in for this next part.” She made no movement to take her coat off, but just kept staring at him like he was a stranger. “So yeah I checked it right before I went to him. 550. I almost threw up Jen, honestly. But no, I kept it cool and went and had the meeting. Ray looked all serious when I walked in, but then he broke, started giving it to me. You lucky bastard, unbelievable. Said I was canned, done that day, the order had been filed. There were murmurings though. The double hit on the CRN just wasn’t right. You were shit Tom, he told me, just not that shit. He started laughing at that. Ordered me a beer, finished his story. So they checked on the double hit of the CRN, realized it was an error, double entry of my termination papers, someone really wanted you gone, he said busting my balls. Said after all that, they talked, crunched my numbers, yada yada yada. Think there was apprehension about the mess up with the CRN, said they were thinking of letting me stay on, if I let the double hit go as a fluke. Of course I said hell yeah. Ray was happy as shit. Said I’d be back to 600 with twenty four hours, and there I am! Bam! Said it wasn’t the damnedest thing he’s ever seen, Ray did.” He took a mouthful of pasta and stared at her. “Honey! Smile!”
Her brain was seizing up with contradictory emotions. She had to check one more time. That this had worked. She picked up her phone, went to her page. Her heart fluttered at what she saw. Thomas Mundus-600. Jennifer Mundus-672.
“That’s weird,” Tom said, checking his phone now too. “You’re down five.”
My kids are really the coolest thing ever. I don’t brag about them much. Not good when you got a banshee tracking ya. You learn it’s good to be humble. Hell, be down right superstitious. That’s a good word, isn’t it? Knocking on wood, that’s one I got heavy. Can’t make any self-positive prediction of the future without knocking on some real wood. Keep your filthy jokes to yourself.
I don’t want to rant, whine, add to the din as it were. I think that’s why I haven’t posted much here lately, this impulse to go on a rant, and be negative is too strong. I’m tired of it. Tired of talking and analyzing. Tired of thinking. There’s this overgrown path in my front yard. A couple of crazy invasive tree, limb things grew like twenty feet high. The forest of these invasive saplings provided the perfect frame for this crazy beautiful vine thing, so we just let it all go wild. I realized though that maybe it was blocking my afternoon sun, casting a shade on the pepper patch. I liked the privacy it offered, an organic hedge blocking the view of the neighbors, but then I have a hard time keeping tack of my kids in the jungle, and the hedge is just another giant thing they can hid in. Also, I want to reclaim the space for the garden too, so for the last couple days I hacked it up, shoved it into the compost bin. I loved that, just hacking and chopping, thinking minimally, sweating, doing work. That’s how I feel like handling things.
For the last month or longer this vision of selling our city house and going full country became an obsession. The urge to run, to restart, to reclaim a “simpler” life had us hunting properties, and talking to realtors, bankers. When you’re poor everything becomes a numbers game, get the whole feeling of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and that adds to the confusion. We began to realize that our current house is probably our one strong financial asset (as opposed to the crippling student-loan debt) and its didn’t really make sense gambling that on a country life, which would be a crazy amount of work and resources. We have a two year plan to get out of all credit card, and other short term debt. That was always a priority in our mind, but as we got right down to it, as in listing our house, we realized that it just wasn’t smart. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. We have a life right now that works, pretty well. A place of employment that’s close, bills payed, school the boy likes, big enough yard and ability to urban homestead. Another huge point was the fact that staying on our current path allows us to put any extra funds towards fun activities and travel. That became the big final realization, it’s not about things, but about experiences.
Using my “executive function” that’s an idea and phrase I’ve been using frequently in my rants to Britney. Point being that as a parent, a leader of the family you have got to think in this emotionally detached, best outcomes approach. In the familial enterprise it’s not just your dreams or wants that matter. For some that probably reads obvious, but I think being part of the divorced kids generations the problem of egos and values was something I’ve had to give a lot of thought too. Moreover failures in both, are patterns I’m still really working hard to develop out of. Having honor, self-control, dignity, these almost feel like outdated, or even mean words. I think that’s a problem.
I got to stop it there. The force of the rant is just too strong, and the keys make it too easy. I think that’s the problem. The journal format works when you have to push all this drivel out by the force of your own hand. The technology takes the real work and punishment out of it. Thanks technology.
“Well that’s what you get for not listening to a tinker on the road,” she chided, her eyes drowsy. “Clever boy like you has heard enough stories to know better….” She sat up suddenly, pointing over my shoulder. “Look!”
I turned. “What am I looking for?” I asked. The sky was still thick with clouds, so the surrounding countryside was just a sea of black.
“Just keep looking, Maybe it will….There!”
“I saw it. A flicker of blue light off in the distance.” (539)
8:15PM Blue flame of the stone heart wanes. A bubbling ripple of red rage thrumming against its underbelly. I step beside it. Look beyond into it into the great blue sky, thick white wall clouds. Stopped, like I am.
I think about what to write to you. How to paint an interesting, attractive view of my reality. The blog is low-key enough I can say what I want, but public enough so not really. I hate that the bastard truth would be more entertaining, but I don’t have the courage.
Writing is a dangerous sport. It makes us hoarders of memories. Paradox abounds, because I suspect it is horrible memories which float the best. Writers are trained on the horse bits of their own suffering. Lead around by a cultural sadist, sauntering in the latest fashions. You are this because you were born here, by these people, this is your life.
You hear about this Pokemon Go business? Fuck, right? Billion dollar digital overlay of the world. Makes me think of Philip K. Dicks The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. That’s where we’re headed, twenty years. We’ll all swim in virtual realities.
Not me. Think I’ma trade it all in for a patch of dirt. Give me some space to cultivate the blue flame of stone heart. Eat food from my dirt or die. Kill the Television.
It’s Babylon sickness, the roads, the concrete, the bad food, heat and sweating bodies. Everybody is so gassed. Rorschach tests from the sweat on the shirts of pot bellied old men. Diabetes leaning side ways, sweating at the bus stop. Skeleton chested woman in dated black jeans, and a stretched red tank-top. Three trash bags of diet cokes cans slung over her shoulder, making the three mile march to Wal-Mart, for what? A pack of cigarettes? The last five bucks she needs, for whatever it is she needs…
That’s god though, I’m sure.
Later, 10:26PM, kids in bed, post shower Dr. Bronner’s rub down. Everything is better after Bronner’s. So here I sit friends, 10:36PM, maybe an hour or so until sleep, then 6:44AM we do it again. How do we make it fresh? How do we make it original? How do we make it great again, and again, and again?
I think I’lll wake up and walk one of my dogs. Then do a loaf of bread. Made my best sour dough loaf today. Starter is about to take a break in the fridge. You could just keep feeding the starter, a little flour and water everyday. It could exists on your counter forever, I’ve learned. Fascinating when you stop to think of it. You cultivate a bunch of microorganisms that make your bread taste great and helps you digest it. Sigh. Babylon. You know they went to this ancient bread making process, stripped it down, dissected it, strained it, bleached it, reconstituted it with some preservative shit, and filled your grocery aisle with it, told ya it was good for ya.
Today I substituted honey for the sugar. Delicious. The honey for the sugar. I like the sound of the that. I love honey pots. I love bees. I like working in the field, simpatico with the bees. Pollinate these flowers. Float over here. Bring the good back to the hive, to the Queen. I get bees. Weird you can fit so perfect in one environment, so wretched in another. Seen retarded bees staggering from a shot of Round-Up.
It’s not good writing like this after a certain time, so I will sing you farewell dear reader. I hope you found your way to some Art today. The flame may spark red, but it burns eternally blue. I hope for you too. Get your words. Make someone else’s day. Stay in the space between yourself and the world.
7:23PM Interesting day. I captured positivity by cultivating the blue Jedi power of the stone heart. The technique, meditate on the space between self and the world, in between the sheets. It’s there if you look for it. It’s a space free from emotion, free from engagement. A cool space on the lip of reality. Few others wanders there, a strange bunch. Say hello, but don’t tarry too long.
Grandpa bought Chay cookies on the way back from the dump at Kum&Go. He saved them. When we got home he said he wanted to make recipes, like with his cookies. I directed the focus, perhaps peanut butter, rice krispies, crunched up cookies, was he thinking of something like that? Exactly, he said. We should bake them he said, I countered fridge. He countered freezer, fridge. We settled on fridge. I also suggested that maybe he would like them with a scope of ice-cream. He thought it was brilliant. I helped him sort of toss them on to a plate. There in the fridge now.
We went to the library. I love the library. Picked up a number of books. I am slipping on my reading goal. I wrote about the drama here. Long story short, I was trying to pad the list by reading a bunch of short novels, and it wrecked my brain with synchronicity. Then in June I got lost in a couple longer and more challenging books.
Going for three books a month, so 36 total, should be at like 18 going on 19, but I’m sitting at like 16. Not to far off the goal. Here’s what I picked up though, Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin, Ninja: 1,00 Years of the Shadow Warrior A New History by John Man, The October Countryby Ray Bradbury, Night of the Living Trekkies by Anderson & Stall, The Complete Books of Aquarian Magic by Marian Green (little embarrassed by this, not one I plan to read all the way through, but it was screaming at me and I do love deep space, blue ring of fire, steel consciousness stuff). So yeah quite the stash, hope its not as existentially challenging as last go around, but time will tell.
As always, writer-warriors-freaks don’t be scared to say hello! And I hope you are getting your words. Really, say something, time is so short, make a difference, squeaky wheel gets the grease, all that. Let me be your grease.7:58PM
Yesterday morning, I was dancing with my baby. We decided to start spinning around. When I stopped, I zenned through the body daze, with a ninja-type balance move. Let dizziness wash over me like a wave. I had the realization that’s the key. Perturb the bag of neurotransmitters. Doing so shows you how the so-called ego, the executive of self, is really nothing. Spin him around, go diving down a muddy hill, face some danger, the ego flees and the world emerges. The baby’s grin tells me he get it. Shake it off, see what’s underneath.
Two days of domesticity left me aching for child free space and time. It’s nothing to do with the children themselves, but more like the hundredth day with best friend on summer vacation, or pizza everyday sort of vibe which creeps around, when your making pasta sauce, or changing diapers, or doing the laundry. Ego plays an important part in parenting. Parents have to be adepts at putting on the mask of calm and togetherness. Kids see those chinks in your armor, because they are building their own ego and operating systems right along with you. I think parents are often embarrassed when they see themselves in the mirror of their children. It’s themselves, but askew slightly. That slight difference is often manifested in big ways. The child who did everything right until their mid-twenties, but then picked a crazy partner, or way of life. Divorces, in-fighting, dysfunction.
A crack of thunder punctuated that last word. Unusually cool this week, the storms just keep sneaking in and running off. I’d hate for it to shut the computer down mid word, so I save my words. I love the storms. My dogs are scared of them. I’ve been in a couple really bad storms. Tornadoes, and things like that. I got some memory of an Uncle or Cousin, people said every time it rained, he’d grab the whiskey bottle and sit on the back porch. Cheer it on as it approached, raining and banging. I bet everybody has an uncle like that too. People love the weather, don’t they? Why, I think it’s what I was just talking about, stirring up those neurotransmitters, losing the self for a moment, coming back stronger, like a pushup.
Got a sour-dough starter started today. 1 cup flour, half a cup lukewarm water (dechlorinated and not all fucked up). Apparently every day you take half of it away, discard (I will be using), and then feed it with same amount, and keep that process going for days. After a little bit of time and magic, you’ll have a wild fermented sour dough starter, which can be used in all sort things, bread, pizza-dough, even pancakes.
Made pizza dough myself today, and used the sauce I made yesterday, made with back yard garlic, parsley, and one of my last jars of tomatoes from last year. Old and new. Sauce was delicious. Made basic cheese pizza for gang. Kept it simple too for Mom and Dad, red onions, shredded Pleasant Ridge Reserve, and then when it was halfway through cooking, I drizzled honey and Espelette peppers flakes on it, damn!
That’s the key to keep the balance. Treat yourself right. You’re going to have to work hard one way or another. Might as well put the energy towards things like gardens, cooking, spending simple quality time with family and friends. Or you can work long hours, for take-out, day care, and hockey league, and run all over hell and hopefully crash on the couch for an hour of TV before you pass out and do it again tomorrow. Saw somewhere people in the US spend 50% of their monthly earnings on rent, add on daycare, car payments, debt payments, everyone seems to be a couple bad events away from utter ruin, myself included.
Whoops, sorry for that, got a little negative. Mea Culpa. I’ve been reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown. To put it bluntly, and I realize now that was a false apology I just gave you, but it is about the Native American genocide which took place in the Americas, and it fucking soul crushing. It’s definitely not something I was unaware of, but this exceptional work paints a detailed and compelling picture.
Maybe I’m weird, but I think about history and things like the Fourth of the July, and I have a pretty mixed response and position. Like the Brexit event demonstrates, I think modern people have a very fractured sense of self. Often we come from families where people have served their country, and were clear nationalists in their thinking. Closer to now these ideas have shifted some and this sort of blind Patriotism was exposed as problematic, think post 9-11 realizations. But it not just a shift in Nationalistic ideologies, but cultural identity changes too. I think with the Baby-Boomers, and then the MTV generation and beyond, there’s the nihilistic shift to a philosophy of no-philosophy, at best a sort of frozen adolescent hedonism, at worst The Purge. Sigh, sorry for that, but it felt good.
I’m going to stop this here, I can tell the rant was threatening take over. I will save us all the displeasure of that. As you can tell, as the weekend and the writing sessions approach, I am raring to go. Four day weekend guarantees we will finish the first draft of Nowhere, over 50k words! Get your words.
P.S. I am also cruising right through the first book of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Kingkiller Chronicle, The Name of the Wind. Classic yarn, great hero, deep cosmogonies, reads with the truth of another world, heart breaking, redeeming. Fantasy at its best. Tolkien trained.
We thought we had ditched the wolf. Michael was doing an exceptional job driving, until he smashed the front tire into a large boulder. The explosion was awful and sent the truck hurtling into the ditch. Everything went blank for a second, a different blank then the empty space though, just nothing. Then I was being pulled out and tossed against the side of the truck.
“Goddammit,” Commander Daniels screamed at his men crowding around the idling truck. “Fucking greenhorn limb-dicks! Keep the Humvee on the fucking road, that’s all you had to do.
“I’m sorry Sir,” Michael said. “B-road, that rock came out of nowhere. Fucking huge, don’t know how maintenance missed it.”
“Don’t know how you missed it.” The Commander countered. “Nah it’s fine, get that spare on there, move it! It could be on us in a second. One of you, what’s your names again soldiers?”
“Smith,” said Howdy.
“Hopsin,” said Shaky legs.
“Smith,” the Commander said, “help Michael here change the tire. Watch your six. First sign of that motherfucker you pound the vehicle with your weapon, you understand that? Just pound, and you don’t fucking leave Michael’s side until the tire is fucking changed, got it?”
“Yessir,” Smith said.
“Good boy,” the Commander said. “You’re all good boys. Now get under there and fix that tire.” The two men grabbed the tire and jack off the back and went diving under the front of Humvee. “Hopsin grab that bastard and toss him back in and take the wheel.” Hopsin hesitated for a minute, but then snatched me up and threw me in. There was more rumbling and yelling outside. Commander and Hopsin jumped back in.
The Commander was busy in the passenger seat, checking his weapon, ammo, and every other thing he could think of to touch or check. “Men, we’re gonna sit tight, all right? Hopsin, that thing shows up I want you to take defensive position at the door, understand? It gets close enough you’re gonna hop back in and we’re going to make a go for it, no matter what state were in. This thing can roll on three for a while.”
Hopsin didn’t say anything, but the Commander smashed a button on his dash and began speaking. “Headquarters, CO of Goon Squad, with an update.”
“Go ahead Goon Squad.”
“Sir, the mission remains critical. I repeat critical. Heavy Losses. Four units remain. Package Two is secure.”
“Copy that Goon Squad. Repeat. Package Two is secure.”
“That’s correct headquarters. Package two is secure.”
“And Package One, Commander?”
“Proceed to repair front tire and head to rove commander and wait for relief.”
“ETA on that relief there headquarters?”
“42 mins, hold tight.”
The Commander slammed the button. “You hear that shit, Hopsin? Hold tight. You remember that when you’re back at the bunk tonight. Sipping on a cold one, acting tough with the other squads. When the shit’s really thick, all you’re gonna get is a hold tight–” A loud banging came from the front side of the vehicle.
“Motherfucker,” the Commander said. “Hopsin get out here and see what he’s banging about.”
It was all muffled voices. The Commander shifted around obviously irritated, trying to get an eye around the vehicle. It was still too dark to see, especially now that everything was covered in dirt and blood. “Fucking unbelievable.”
Hopsin ripped the door open and dove in. “Smith has eyes on it. A flicker–”
“A flicker?” the Commander interrupted. “What the fuck does that mean? Did you see anything Hopsin?”
“How far are they on the tire.”
“The got the old one off.”
“Get out there and hold that fucking door. Tell them to move fast, keep their fingers off the trigger, hop back in, when they’re done, or before, you got me?”
“I got you Sir,” Hopsin said.
“You’ll take the wheel Hopsin?” He asked again, unsure for some reason.
Hopsin looked like he wanted to say no, but he grimaced, nodded, and jumped back out of the truck. He kept the door open and we could hear him barking orders at the other. “Hurry up!” His head came back in the door. “Smith says he’s seen the flicker again?”
“What the fuck is a flicker?!” The Commander roared. Before Hopsin could explain the deepest, bluest, wolf howl ever filled the area. It sounded like it was right on top of us, and everyone went scrambling down. Hopsin went bolting from the door, and I could hear the two at the tire as they crawled underneath the front of the truck.
The first howl was so long, it rang slicing through the stale morning air, bouncing off all the trees. Worn out by fright at this point, and frankly just a little sick of running, I took the whole thing in with a new coldness.
The way I saw it the monster must be getting full after all that. And I don’t know about you, but if I do a lot of running or hard work I really start to lose my appetite. Now this thing had just run ten miles or so. It had been running around all night for that matter, chopping trees and all that, supernatural hell beast or not, it had to be getting tired.
The howls kept coming. The Commander began hopping up and down from his open roof to the floor. The whole time his giant rifle was pointed right in my direction. Up and down. Up and down. He mumbled to himself. “Spooky shit. Should never have signed on for this. Fuck the money. Noting worth this shit.” Stuff like that.
Everything went real quiet for a second. The Commander got stuck on a loop of oh shits. I hugged the bottom of the Humvee, and appreciated having some level of protection in its steel chambers. I couldn’t see the wolf but I felt him in a flood of fear and dread. Rifle fire erupted and it sent the commander into a spasm of rage. He leapt from his seat on to the roof and began firing. Hot, spent shells came pouring back down the hole.
The chaos lasted for a minute or two, and then the commander came crashing back into the vehicle and gripped the floor. The firing stopped a moment later, and a low rumble began from behind the vehicle. We could hear it breathing, raspy, tired, angry.
Like I said, I have to admit I am a bit confused by my own lack of hysterics at this point. Maybe it was the drug roller coaster? I felt the death and horror of the creature pressing all around me, but at the same time I felt a sort of detachment I can’t really explain. I think it has to do with a realization which was settling in, that even if I escaped one torture, say the Muse, that another torture, the Wolf awaited. After that men with guns, and after that, well isn’t that enough?
The Commander was an endless rap of contradictions. “I’ll kill the fucking thing. We’re dead. Ill rip its fucking eyeballs out and skull fuck its head. I just want to go back to Laura. Fucking tear his throat out when he gets to me!”
He dove into the back seat. “Listen man,” he whispered. “We’re in this together now. You understand? We got to work together. Here.” He handed me a shiny pistol. My first instinct was to hand it back. I’m not overly very familiar with guns, and I figured the other fellas hadn’t down too well in any case, and they had giant rifles. Another howl squashed any idea of giving it back though.
“Here’s an extra magazine,” he said. “You know how to use that thing?”
“Sort of,” I said.
“Simple cock it, and let it rip. There’s a release on the left side there. Drop it when you’re out, slap the other one it. If you get the chance, have at it. I can’t believe this bullshit.”
“Neither can I,” I said.
A random burst of rifle fire made us both dive back down. “Fuck this shit,” the Commander moaned. “I make it out of this, I’m done Lord. I promise no more of this spooky shit, I swear. I knew I was wrong for this. Dammit! I’ll kill this fucking thing first for what he did to my men!” He hopped back to his seat and started looking out the window. “You see that fucking thing?”
“No,” I said, head planted firmly against the floor.
“Fucking impossible,” the Commander said. “Thing’s a good damn shadow. Moves fast you know, like a goddamn ballerina. Fuck this shit! I won’t let it get me like this, cowering in the rig. Fuck this. I can’t let my men die like this.” He made a move for the door.
“Wait!” I screamed. “Don’t go out there! It’ll kill you for sure. Maybe it’s done, who knows?”
“Damn shameful,” he said. “ I know you’re just a civi, not built for this work. But damn that is a cowardly worldview–”
“Hold on, how long until backup gets here?”
He looked at his watch. “About thirty minutes, if that ETA is still solid.”
That seemed like an impossibility. It had only been ten minutes. It’d felt like a lifetime.
“Nope,” the Commander said. “Can’t do it man. Goon squad is ride or die. Good luck to you sir. Hold tight!” He jumped from the door and I heard him scuffle off.
I was all alone. Things were really quiet. The pressure and anxiety, finally started to come, especially the longer I stayed in the truck. I didn’t hear any shooting though and the time just kept ticking by. I thought about all options. Wait here for backup to arrive or take my chances running in the woods. The more I thought about it running sounded like the best option. Hopefully I could run, hide, and find somewhere to sleep, and wake up back on the other side.
I got up off the floor and crawled into the Commanders spot to take a look around. There was nothing, just dark early morning forest. It all looked so serene and peaceful, waiting for pleasant campers with picnic baskets and tents. Maybe the thing had given up?
I waited for a time, just sort of bummed out and apathetic. I even tried to fall asleep, slip through the space, back to my time, but it didn’t work. I was stuck over there it seemed, for now.
I decided to make a run for it. Carefully I opened the door, and sort of slide through the small gap like slime, and laid on the ground. I got sight of one man, torn in two laying on the other side of the vehicle, sort of resembled Howdy. His two halves were separated by a clear view of the forest and I saw no sign of anyone else.
I crawled around to the other side and everything seemed clear. I crouched there for a while listening for the slightest sound. There was nothing and so I grit my teeth and went booking it for the forest.
The wolf tackled me like a linebacker. I hit the ground with a mechanical force. A series of cracks and pops from my body told me parts, important parts, had just been broken. The wolf flipped me over, sniffed and howled right in my face.
I kept my eyes closed though, so all I could sense was its hard hands working over my face. Hot drool dripped and sizzled on my skin, with painful acidity. I screamed and one of its wretched claws was shoved into my lips, bashing my gums, in an attempt to shush me. “Stopppppp,” it ordered.
I tried to shake my head free, but it held on even tighter, seizing and slicing into my jaw. “Stoopppp, nowwwww,” it ordered. “Where man gun?”
I tried to scream again, but now I couldn’t even open my mouth. “Where man gun?” It asked again.
It started to become difficult to breathe. Panic forced my eyes open. I felt so small with this thing straddling me. It’s large head, hair slicked back and caked in gore, swung from left to right as it smelled the air. Everything was so large and lean on the creature. It was like having a truckload of concrete sitting on top of you. There was nothing I could do.
“Get off him!” A voice screamed. The thing jumped up and spun around. I didn’t wait a second, but scrambled behind a tree to watch.
The Commander pointed his rifle at the wolf, a grenade in his other hand. “Look at you! You’re one ugly bastard, aren’t you?”
The wolf stood there, huffing and buffing. His breathing was raspy and gurgling, and his belly hung distended. He had over eaten. He didn’t seem at all afraid of the rifle though.
“Get on the fucking ground!” The Commander ordered. “Now!”
The thing just stood there grunting, staring right at the Captain. “Get the fuck down now!” The Commander yelled. But again there was no movement. “I’m not going tell you again, get down!”
The Beast took one step and the Commander let off with a round of shots. They tore through the thing with a black grey burst, but it all sucked right back into it on reverse.
The Commander saw that and threw his weapon, pulled the pin on the grenade and charged the creature.
The wolf took a giant leap and came down on him hard. It sounded like a large branch being snapped in half. The creature was all over him. The were growls and snarls mixed with the Commanders screams. I realized this was the time to run, but right as I was about to break off, there was large explosion and burst of reddish blackness which clouded the scene. Through it, I saw Pete coming up deep from the woods and he held a rifle.
Pete crawled up on the two of them quietly. Besides the wooden leg which remained extended back, he moved like a cat, stalking his prey. You could tell he was fascinated by seeing the wolf feeding in this state. His eyes bulged from his head, and he licked his lips.
I should have ran, I recognize that in hindsight. The whole thing played out like a movie. The thing that was the Wolf and Lt. Daniels swirled like a tornado on the spot, slowly reassembling into something like the wolf and sections of the commander.
Pete crept up on the monstrosity as it continued to feed. I couldn’t believe it but right as he got close he raised his weapon like he was going to shoot the wolf. I won’t lie, after everything he had put me through, I felt no compulsion to save him.
He crept up so slow and when he was right up on it he took aim, and let loose with his rifle. Now from the way he shot I could tell he didn’t have very much experience with shooting modern weapons. He got stuck squeezing the automatic and a dozen or more shots tore recently and currently reassembling wolf right in half, from the chest up. The force also knocked Pete down (the peg leg didn’t help) and left him shooting into the air.
The wolf made the most awful scream and was now floating in two parts. The top half went lunging for Pete. The bottom half tried to follow it, and do that coagulating cloud thing, but the Commander sat up, head half ripped off and gripped on to the legs.
Pete was able to stop firing right as the thing fell and snatched on to his own leg. He quickly took aim and start blasting the thing in the face. Shot went everywhere though. The monster head exploded, but the bullets continued on right through the top half of the monster, and into the Commander himself. Pete fused with the powerful rifle and just kept firing.
The thing finally let got of Pete’s leg and tried to roll back to its own legs, but was chopped down in the endless stream of fire. The monster kept rolling through it but finally stopped, right as the rifle ran out. Pete kept the rifle pointed at the creature for a minute. Frozen. Like gravity finally turned on the different bubbles of wolf went falling to the ground, like black water colors, splattered on a flat canvas, with little chunks, and spiky patches here and there.
I thought about running again. Didn’t seem to be much of a threat now that the wolf was splattered. I realized I was gripping the pistol in my hand. It had warmed in the mean time. I wondered if Pete had another magazine and would come hunting me down, the broken Fire Attender Oath and all that.
I thought about all the walking, and the path we had taken from the Pine Forgetting Forrest, to when I met up with Pete. I wondered if I could find my way back. I looked around the large forest, as an example, and realized I was totally lost. There was nowhere to run. More than anything, I wondered, where was that fucking Muse?
We take certain things for granted, I think. Art especially, I guess. One reason art is criticized is because children seem to be so good at it, predisposed to it in even The force of shame is a remnant of the Industrial Age, where men were supposed to do man’s work and woman were supposed to stay home. Thinking about it, this may only apply to the rich folks; poor people have to work all the time.
Maybe it is this confused historical paradigm which has lead to Art being seen as such a base, sophomoric pursuit. All that is probably subject for another blog, what I want to write about is the figure of the Muse.
In Homer and other ancient works the muse is invoked at the beginning of the poem. This ritual has continued into the present if you look close enough. Read a bit of the writers talking about their process and the Muse will come up.
What is the Muse? It is this strange sense one gets when doing art, where you sort of turnover to this purely creative force, which can speak and act on its own. The writer can become possessed as it were, by the Muse, and stuff can sort of just bubble out?
Now as you play with this, you begin to realize the Muse is a lot like you! Whouda thunk it? So this means, it likes what you like, chocolate, coffee, music, good smelling incense and candles. So you realize quickly that if you share some of your goodies with the Muse that can kick your creative process into high gear.
Be cautious though. Don’t see the Muse as some hedonist that if you overdose on chocolate it’ll give you a masterpiece. The Muse does not like to be fucked with. That means it appreciates a tight, closely followed schedule. If you really want it to show up for you, you’re best to show up everyday.
I also believe it is the Muse that requires all the extracurricular reading as well,. for two points. One the pleasure principle we first discussed. Second though and more importantly it wants you to beware of certain works, so that you don’t go wasting its time trying to rehash the same old thing. The Muse is a critic, rational and right. Sloppy business will begin to agitate it. This is connected to writer’s block I imagine, and it is the Muse which is doing the blocking.
The Muse is a free agent, and the business is good. It is best to recognize this and be very considerate of your Muse. When proper order is maintained a healthy relationship can occur. If it’s not found, things can be dangerous. A runaway Muse can be deadly, no more evidence of that is needed than the deadly history of Rock and Roll. Breaking up with the Muse, or worse fighting the Muse, all can have disastrous ends. Therefore it is helpful to recognize what you’re dealing with, and don’t be demanding. Offer the gifts to the gods and then write it as it comes!
Source for Nine Muses: http://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com/nine-muses-in-greek-mythology/
So it seems like my writing career is more of a hobby these days, happening about once a week. I’m not spending any where near enough time, sitting in the chair and writing, which is basically what writers do, I guess.
I am always happy to get back into the seat and put some focus in on the craft. The pump pad remains my savior, and I will hail its power all my days as a writer. If what you are pump padding matches up with the section you have to edit that day, this offers one of those magical moments of creation, where you can take the new material and in grafting it on to the preexisting material, get a running start at the editing of the whole section. Artists are addicts for this creative moment of self absolution, where we can turn over into the act and be immersed in the creation. It’s this mystical space, which can sometimes have me thinking, what in the hell am I doing?
I think that is one of the most difficult things starting out as a writer, is just answering the question, what does one actually DO as a writer? Like in Carpentry it is more obvious. Want to build a box? The size and purpose of said box will instruct you on how to build the box. Geometry and physical skills like making straight lines and operating tools are the prerequisites for constructing the box. You know you are going to have to be able to cut some wood, and maybe use a hammer or whatever. Now you may not be able to do these things yourself, but it is obvious what needs to be done, and when you see someone who really knows how to be a good carpenter, it can seem so simple and self explanatory.
Writing has parallels to this of course, especially when you decide to become a professional and develop your skills. But at first it can be very slippery and unclear, even more so since you are just some weirdo in your basement trying to be the next J.D. Salinger or whatever. So to save our collective face, let’s think what does a writer actually do? Like for real?
A writer is a crafter of language. Language like geometry has it’s own inherent, natural laws, which need to be worked through. This is actually the field of Logic, which is more akin to Mathematics. It’d probably behooves all writers to have at least a basic understanding of Logic. Logic is algebra for truth claims. Truth claims are basically any claims which can be proven, like I like doughnuts, or the sky is blue. Conjunctions like “and/or” are the plusses and minuses of mathematics. If/then formulations are crucial in constructing truth claims like, If I walk in the rain, then I will get wet. This is an objective truth claim and we can parse this out through the process of Logic and effectively prove it.
What does that have to do with writing your Harry Potter fan-fiction? Well a lot actually. Because the mind is built and trained in these logic relationships we have to use them when writing are own stories. Suspended disbelief exists in the if/then type process of the mind. When we violate the natural laws of Logic in a story, we rip giant holes through our creation. Enough of these rips the coherency of your thought experiment, the fictional work, will collapse and boredom will ensue, and the reader will go back to Netflix.
All this acknowledged, most people aren’t jamming out to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason in their free time. Lord of the Rings is not Heidegger’s Being And Time (or is it?). So what makes great Fiction so stimulating and entertaining? Again we could turn to the study of Philosophy and Ethics, and take a scientific approach, and analyze how certain heroic tales stimulate certain innate passions in the hearts of man, and from this same heart spring all the love for drama flows, because it reflects back to ourselves our own inner dramas. That every book is like an oracle which can tell us about the past and future lives of ourself. But see how we have gone all flowery and mystical again. How does someone actually do this? How do you become so immersed in your imaginary world that it can actually function in this way?
It starts to feel sometimes like all writers are Victor Frankenstiens in the making. That ultimately there is something dark in these goyim like creatures called books, who are just a shimmer of their creators. It’s ugly, but like Frodo, if you want your work to command the passion that haunt men’s heart, then you are gonna have to go cave diving. You are going to have to crawl around in the dark and do battle with the subconscious enemies of mankind, and somehow preserve yourself in these efforts, and pull an artifact out of these primordial fires.
Part of capturing this part of great fiction is observing it in the world around you. The Good Book says nothing new under the sun, now if we pushed that through the machine of Logic, we could come to some interesting conclusions, maybe that if there is infinite possibility, that anything that can be imagined could or maybe even does exist? It’s a fractal view of the world, where the seed contains the whole. So practically speaking, you are thinking of the villain of your character go to your local shopping center and observe your fellow man? Look for the physical mannerisms and behavior of evil people. Incorporate this knowledge into your work. You need to have clear leads and advisories, heroes and villains. There has to be the process of inherency, trouble, and resolution. You have to be stimulated as a human being in your own process in these things. This also coincidentally is a key to good book, it has to be a copy of you! If you are sort of a dark, wicked person, don’t be trying to write from the perspective of some pure Hero; it’ll never work. Again a mystical paradox of writing seems to be you can never fake your fiction.
To be a great writer, you have to see passed the details to the form of what makes great stories. I believe most people don’t read for the details, but for the experience. This doesn’t mean get wonky with the details though! Because discrepancies will stand out to all readers. But still people read to have an interesting experience. They want to be engaged. That’s what’s weird about good writing because you are basically just enjoying yourself, and this seems to offend some remnant of a Protestant work ethic that was engrained in me, and makes it all seem very ethereal and flakey…
Think of it like this, every Stephen King or Anne Rice, started out as some person just sitting somewhere going on these long excursions into imagination land, hunting for little jewels which they could bring back and commodify and exchange with the world. But for every Mark Twain, there are hundred of other people who will never be read. What is the difference between the two, that’s what I want to know? Imagine if there were just theaters all over the place, filled by chubby people, surrounded by a bunch of dirty coffee cups, books, and their manuscripts. The show is not finished, but the materials are all there, three-quarters in completion. They just need the master craftsman to bring it all together and it could be great. But it’s not. The theaters rots. The roof leeks. There’s no more coffee. The artists is emaciated, mad. He hates the theater and the manuscript now. It mocks him, because he got stuck, Gollumed.
Before I get lost in the trenches here, let me finish be recapping the point I thought I was making. The writer is attempting to better themselves and their world; they are trying to save themselves. This is actual work and involves specific skills. The skills involve shaping language and ideas, that encompass things like Logic and emotions. To be a writer is to be build thought experiments which deal with questions of morality and logic. The writer is reproducing their own inner drama and that is the well source of their fiction. To write then is to provoke your own inner drama and to relate that through artifice to the world. So next time you sit down trigger your relevant Mommy or Daddy issues and get some blood on the page! I hope your own efforts are a success!