Too Much Good Stuff

So I was looking for a classic Whodini song alluded in the title of this post, but couldn’t find it. I went with the next best thing —

Cindy Rosmus has a story up entitled Fools’ Night Out that you should go read. While you’re there at Yellow Mama take a looksie.

Do Some Damage is also rockin’ and rollin’.

If you haven’t seen this William Gibson interview, why not?

I swear the Japanese have never seen The Terminator. DVice looks at some new smarter, longer lasting robots. Further down on the page some goof is actually researching teaching robots to deceive. That sounds like a fantastic idea.

If you’re a writer and haven’t seen this post on clear writing, it’s worth a read.

Zombie Culture? What?

Oh, and the Left for Dead comic. A must read if you haven’t yet. Don’t say I never shared anything with you. And if you like comics, I’m a complete fan of what Radical Publishing is doing.

FFF is baaaack

Friday Flash Fiction #40 edition. It has been some time since I entered into the foray. It’s run by Cormac Brown and he says:

THIS IS A BLOG WHERE A STARTER SENTENCE IS GIVEN EVERY FRIDAY@12PM PST. YOU WILL THEN HAVE UNTIL THE FOLLOWING TUESDAY@9AM PST TO COME UP WITH SHORT STORY OR POEM. I ONLY ASK THAT YOU KEEP IT; FAIRLY NON-POLITICAL, THAT THE VIOLENCE IS NON-GRATUITOUS, THE SEX IS FAIRLY TASTEFUL, AND THAT YOU ARE RESPECTFUL OF THE OTHER WRITERS THAT POST HERE. ENJOY! IF YOU ARE STILL CONFUSED, PLEASE CLICK THIS HEADER FOR THE RULES.

Now before I get to my story, I think you should head over to Twist of Noir and check out Hilary Davidson’s story. Very, very good.

You want a song too? Ok. Mmmm.

Now my story — please feel free to share your comments.

Karma Backlash

“I heard footsteps on the wet sidewalk and the sound of keys.”

I heard an engine; I heard my dog’s collar rattle as she trotted off; I heard the exhale of smoke.

It had to end like this. Always had to end like this.

Not to get philosophical or anything, but screw it. All I know is I had dreams. Most nights I’d wake up with a metallic taste in my mouth and sweat on my upper lip. Even a corner preacher who sported a thick beard and dark coveralls told me the end was near.

That night, after hearing his words, I knew it to be true. I lost my appetite. I even had to throw my damn Gyro away, but some stupid mutt was sniffing around the trash so I gave it to her instead. Stupid four-legged creature stayed by my side ever since.

I should amend that; she stayed by my side until the very moment that I found myself lying in the gutter’s embrace, my side aching, feeding the metal grate my hemoglobin and plasma.

She was a good dog. As good as I always imagined a dog to be. This is according to the fact I never actually “owned” one myself. What a piss poor thing to say anyway. “Owning”. As if we can ever “own” a living, breathing thing.

Like, let’s say there is a God or whatever. Does God own us? If so, are we getting trained? A big cosmic newspaper to our ass in the form of a hurricane flooding our community or a fire burning down some  kid’s house? If we ain’t owned, and we can wander on down the road without ever looking back, which is fine by me, what the hell we need God for? To wear some collar that proclaims us his?

It’s strange what a man thinks when he’s about to be done with thinking forever.

I ain’t got no regrets. The life I had was fine by me. I had a good sense of intuition that saved my ass more than once. I had some girls. I finally got a dog to walk.

I knew this was coming so I settled into my routine, and gave structure to the skittish bitch. The boys knew right away I had had enough. I never had a routine, and then to have such a regimented clock, well, I think they were relieved. At the bar, I’m sure they said I was a real man. A stand up guy. Braver than most.

I heard the shoes scrape the pavement close to my head. I heard the hammer pull back. I heard a scream and a growl, or a growl and a scream, and an explosion of noise as the bullet pinged off the curb. I turned just in time to see Earl shoot my dog. The bullet entered the chest, but the blood and bone matter exited the back. My dog, she didn’t whine. She didn’t whimper. It took a few second for her to realize she was dead and to release Earl’s forearm from her mandibles.

It was just a mutt, not some fancy German Sheppard or Rottweiler or Pit Bull. It wasn’t supposed to come back. It wasn’t supposed to lay a rotten fang into human flesh, let alone the man sent to kill me.

The next shot entered below Earl’s chin, but the blood and bone matter escaped from the top of his head.

Nobody hurts my dog.

BTAP Rolls It Out

One thing that always frustrated me about books is that everyone I know would read a book, recommend it to me, but by the time I finished they were on to the next read. Or I rec something because I want to talk about it, and when they’re ready to discuss it I forgot the cool little complexities and details that excited me (I’m a bad memory dork that way).

One of the many reasons I love film is because it is communal. Getting lost in a story for two hours then immediately being able to discuss it with others is fantastic. Themes, characters, plot twists, and more technical stuff like lighting or editing and how it added (or not) to the story can be explored right away while it’s vivid in the mind.

A few days ago, I committed myself to write this story for Cormac Brown’s Friday Flash Fiction and did my usual thing — put it off. Usually when I put something off long enough, I’ll get a brainstorm and I’m good to go. This time not so much. I started to surf the great wide inter-tubes for inspiration and ended up at BTAP where I expected a story but found a wonderful short film One Good Turn instead.

The writing gods must be smiling since the starter sentence for this week’s Friday Flash Fiction challenge is: “It was a shortcut that I would regret for the rest of my life.”

If I were witty I make a quip about driving and turns and stalled writing, but I’ll leave that to the dude’s like @steveweddle, @matthewjmcbride, @johnhorner, @dboshea and so many others who are actually good at it.

Go check out the film and let’s talk — though I may be a little late to the discussion — I have some ideas for a story I need to get down.

A Lot Going On

Cormac Brown has a fantastic write up of the premier issue of Dark Valentine. He lays out some of the contributors, artists, and shares some of the themes of the magazine which can be found in PDF here.

While your checking out magazines, try a little poetry to go along with the fiction and artwork. Gerald So is one of the editors of The Line Up a magazine of crime poetry which has featured writers like Patricia Abbott, Sandra Seamans, Michael A. Flanagan, and others. Really interesting stuff there so go get some poe-try on.

Over at Twist of Noir, Cris Benton’s story,  is well worth the time to read.

Paul D. Brazil turned me on to Fiction Daily which bills itself as finding “good stuff to read in places you wouldn’t normally look”.

MediaVirus Magazine is another source for some really cool reads. Clearly the intertubes are a problem, because I’d do nothing but sit around and read if I could.

Hell Hole is Chris Grabenstein’s fourth mystery novel and Jen Forbus reviewed it for us at her site, Jen’s Book Thoughts.

Can someone please tell me why it takes so damn long to get Huraki Murakami’s new book, 1Q94, in English. It won’t be out until September 2011.

Flash Magazine is accepting submissions for its October issue while 977, which used to be nothing but flash is now up and accepts short stories as well.

If you have a crime novel manuscript sitting on your desk and you’re not sure what to do with it, perhaps you want to submit it to The New Pulp Press for review.

Needle Magazine Flash Fiction

This little diddy is for the Needle Magazine’s Flash Fiction Challenge. Some of you may have seen it in a previous version, but the revision is tighter and, I think, a little more emotionally charged. Hope ya’ll enjoy.

That Was That

In matters of life and death, one could not forever rely on the judgment of his fellow man. He might have to rely on a woman, or a higher power, or a rescue dog, or even the simplicity of a tune that he could not get out of his head. It was an old song, one he had (thankfully) thought he had forgotten, but had (unfortunately) risen up from his gray matter to torture him. He licked his dry lips, the dust caked in the deep and bleeding cracks, and tried to spit. He couldn’t conjure up any saliva. He couldn’t conjure up any other tune either.

“Don’t Bring Me Down”, was a huge cosmic kick to the hoolies as far as he was concerned. He hummed everything from Creedance Clearwater’s “Rollin’ Down the River” to “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”, from Kit Kat jingles to “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”, but his mind kept coming back to that damned ELO.

He guessed this was because of the woman. Wasn’t it always? He had first made love to her after going to McDonald’s. She put salt on her fries and had a mouth on her that was so lacerating she could make a Marine Corps Sgt. grab his ears and fall into a fetal position before she was through.

The couch springs, broken and in desperate need of WD40, made the humping irrevocably comical. Squeak, squeak, squeak, with every thrust and moan, and he had gone on and on with the springs in time with the music playing loudly in the background. It wasn’t until the ELO song came on and he was shaking with exhaustion that he finally shuddered and fell on top of her.

“Did you?” she asked.

“Of course,” he lied, wondering why it was so important to recognize each other’s ejaculations.

But at this particular moment, there he was, cheek pressed against the wood, eyes closed, the tune running circles in his frontal lobe and he couldn’t move a muscle.

He had spent the last five years accumulating evidence that he existed. Bills, pictures, emails, pages upon pages printed out and stacked up in piles. He had googled himself. It took 13 pages before his name came up and it was a simple address of an apartment he had three years earlier. Stupid life.

Don’t bring me down…

And from his vantage point he saw his high school’s yearbook. His face did not appear in the mosaics of football games or chess tournaments. He knew there was only one picture of him in there. The small rectangular picture of him somberly stared out from the glossy page. Even she told him to lighten up. In fact, she scribbled it on the back page then drew a big, fat joint and a heart for him.

Since graduation they had worked at about every fast food place in town. They had been to a few concerts. And they had been getting progressively more aggressive in their search for the next, perfect high.

He started selling to support their habits, but soon realized he couldn’t sell enough. They would end up at some bar picking up a few people then partying and having sex till exhaustion set in. He often thought about what he was going to do with his life, that it was escaping him, minute by minute, year by year, but he dismissed those intrusions fairly quickly. There was still more to experience.

When she brought him “black”, he was psyched, but very nervous. He had never shot anything before. He didn’t ask her how she got it; he was past caring really and he was sure that made her sad, in a deep hollow kind of way.

While she prepared it, he turned on a classic rock station and went through the list of things he was going to do to make his mark in life: college; real job; join some groups; then his thoughts dissolved into more general promises of finding a real girlfriend, calling his mom, giving up beer.

He grabbed a PBR and watched his girlfriend. Holly was amazing. She did it up just like she were an actor in the movies about addicts who knew what the hell what they were doing when they cooked this shit up. Very impressive.

She set them both up so they could share the moment. She tied him off first, then he did her. She showed him how to find the vein, and they pierced skin at the exact moment. The last thing he remembers was her voice mouthing the words: “classic”.

Then he was here, on the floor, humming ELO.

When his breath came back to him, he was able to shift his body around and find her. She was on her side, facing him. Her mouth was open and her splotchy tongue looked like a finely marbled piece of meat. Then he saw her lips, her full blue lips, and his heart started to race. He tried to get up to his knees but fell back to the wood floor, and as he fell he glimpsed her outstretched hand reaching for him, palm up, a feeble attempt to take his hand in hers as if lead him into some space he did not want see.

He felt exhilaration and fear all at once. He survived. He made it. She tried to kill him. But, he loved her, and he was a live, and she was tuning a color of blue he’d only seen in fish tanks, and she loved him, and they were failing, together, and falling, together, but he would change, make his move, create a life to be proud of and he would dedicate it to her even though she tried to take it from him.

Once he got his feet under him, he went to the fridge, grabbed another PBR and started humming: Don’t bring me down.