I Know Your Face!

The sign on the door read: Laundry Thief!  5’ 4”, brown hair, hiding under the stairs.  I know your face!

Um, okay.  The stairs leading to the basement of my apartment building, a.k.a the laundry room, are actually quite open and non-threatening.  Aside from knowing there are twenty-nine of them, I’m not too bothered by the climb.  The picture below is not the actual stairs, but it gives you a good idea of how a saw them.   See all the light?

safeStairs

 Thanks to that sign, written in brown marker, and taped to the inside of the main entry door, I now have to go to the laundromat.  

notSafe

Monologue #19

I like to think I’m closing in on the end of my first novel.  There are still changes happening which has me a little concerned about time, but I’m still making progress so I’m just letting it happen.  The actual finish line isn’t as close as I would like it to be though.  My personal goal was to have this wrapped up by the end of June.  It’s looking like I’ll be pushing into July now.

I’m still looking mostly at Kindle for publishing.  The overall amount of information available through a simple Google search is mind-numbing.  I’m probably jumping the gun a bit, but I find myself researching when my brain has rejected the notion of writing anymore for the day.  It seems like I’m going strong for a few days, then BAM!  I’m staring at the computer screen without a single idea about how to connect my thoughts.  That’s when I shrug it off and spend a couple hours looking at publishing options.

Is anyone else partially writing their book on their phone?  Lol.  I spend a lot of my breaks at work tapping out words with my thumbs on my Note 5.  I can’t help myself.  Ideas ramble into my brain and I need to get them written down before I lose them.  Back in November, when I started this project in NaNoWriMo I think I wrote a full quarter of my word count on my phone.  It’s a tough way to go, but it works.

Happy Father’s Day!

Snippet #17

The instructions read: Push in on perforated area and pull up.  

Cassie stared at the perforated area, a small, triangle of space surrounded by tiny cuts in the cardboard.  Placing her finger over the spot she pushed lightly, testing the strength of the cuts.  In theory it should just break inward with a satisfying popping sound.  In theory…

Pressing harder, she noted the bowing of the top corner as the cardboard ignored the perforations, and its own printed instructions, and simply bent inward under the pressure.  Her lips compressed into an irritated line.  Why did she bother?  The instructions never worked yet she always gave it the old college try.

She hadn’t even gone to college.

Was that why she couldn’t open the box?  Was the trick to getting the perforations to work really just a matter of having a degree in something?

The entire, narrow side of the box collapsed under her finger as she pressed hard enough to explode a peach pit.  Still nothing.

Huffing angrily, she stopped pushing and grabbed the lid, forcing her finger under the glued edge and shredding the box top.  Dumping the contents into the pan of boiling water she grabbed a wooden spoon and maliciously churned the silver cheese package around with the macaroni.

Wolf Lessons

Charles snuffled the grass at his feet, dragging his snout through the dew and loose ground.  He could easily smell the squirrel.  It was so close he could probably swing his head around and find it staring him in the face.  Squirrels might be quick and all, but they weren’t the smartest.  Slow and deliberate, he stepped backwards, one foot at a time, like he wasn’t really thinking about turning around, just sniffing in reverse.

Mocking chitters rang out behind him.  Whirling on his back legs, Charles reared up and brought his front paws down hard on the empty earth behind him.  Blowing air through his muzzle, he glowered at everything he could see, looking for some sign of where the squirrel was hiding.  It was no good.  Not a blade of grass twitched in the night smeared forest.  He straightened his spine and whined into the darkness.  More chittering spilled down from the branches of the oak beside him.  Wrinkling his nose he looked up, his fangs flashing in the sliver of moonlight that managed to burrow down through the leaves.

“Well, that’s just rude,” he said staring at the tiny black orbs looking down at him.  “How can I ever catch you if you keep running up a tree?”  With a soft, complaining wuff, he dropped his rear end tiredly onto the ground.  “I give up.”

“I would expect you to have learned to look up by now.”  Giving him a scowl that only a squirrel can make, the rodent inched onto an overhanging branch and stretched out, letting its tail hang down.  “Wolves are especially praised for their intelligence.  What happened to you?”

“I’m tired.  We’ve been playing for hours.”  His voice was almost a whine.

Rubbing one foot across its face, the squirrel looked down with an expression of extreme judgement.

“Oh, I’m sorry.  I thought you wanted to learn to hunt.  If you’re too tired, by all means we will stop.”  Thoughtfully, it pulled at the small, branching leaves and let them pinwheel to the ground.

“You don’t need to be a bitch about it.”  Aggravated and not in the mood, he shook his shaggy head back and forth, dislodging the tree litter from his fur.

“Ooo, somebody needs a nap.”  

Another leaf floated down, twirling across his nose as it landed.  He gave the branch, and its occupant a hard look.

“We can start again tomorrow night.  I need to get some real food and try to sleep.”  Pushing against the ground with his front paws, Charles raised himself back to a standing position and tilted his head to stare at the red rat.  “You look like you could use a rest yourself.”

“How considerate of you.  Thinking not only of yourself at a time like this.”  With a sneer, it dropped another leaf.  “You are a prince among wolves.”

“Whatever!”  Charles wanted to rip the bushy tail down from its branch and fling it against the tree trunk.  The whole night had been nothing but chittering and mockery.  He was sick of it.  Maybe he would ask one of the cats to help him.  They at least knew how to hunt.  What did squirrels know about it?  The gathered nuts and stored them in knotholes.

“Fine, go home and take a hot bath like the human that you are.”  The squirrel sat up and began combing through its tail with its paws.  “When you decide you are serious about being a wolf, let me know.”

Lowering his head, Charles let his ears droop and looked stricken.

“You don’t have to be so mean,” he said softly.  “You have been a squirrel for years.  I have only been a wolf for a month.”

Pausing in its grooming, the squirrel twitched its nose and sniffed at him.

“My bad.  Clearly you should be given special consideration because you’re new.  The safety of werefolk everywhere should be disregarded while you grab a sandwich and a soda.”  The sound of the voice rose high in aggravation, morphing into a chitter.

Belatedly Charles realized that he could understand it.  Their conversation had changed from words to growls and squeaks.  Delighted with the novelty of it, he grinned, letting his tongue loll freely out one side of his jaws.

“Pffft!”  The squirrel pointedly turned its back and scratched at the branch with its back legs, sending a shower of bark down on the wolf.

With a tremendous leap, Charles sprang high into the air and closed his jaws tightly onto the bushy, well-groomed tail.  The squirrel shrieked with surprise as it was dragged forcefully to earth.

“Very clever,” it gasped, its whole pinned against the dirt by one massive wolf paw.  “You tricked me.”

“Not really.”  Charles growled through his teeth without letting go of the tail.  “I just got tired of your chatter.”  Lifting his foot, he gave a sharp twist of his head and flung the squirrel against the trunk of the oak.

Lightly he pawed at the body, confirming that the spine had broken.  He snuffled it thoroughly before crunching it between his jaws.  It wasn’t a large meal, not nearly enough to fill his belly, but definitely satisfying.  He had been correct, Squirrels were not the smartest animals in the forest.

Monologue #18

Another week has flown by.  The temperature here is close to 90 degrees and my antique AC unit is struggling.  This means I am not sleeping well.  Hopefully the maintenance guy will come tomorrow and fix it.  I have done as much as I am able with my trusty can of compressed air.  Now it’s their turn.  I have taken evasive action and strategically positioned my fans to produce a wind-tunnel effect in my small apartment.  The internal temperature is still in the low eighties but at least I have a breeze.

Smashing Pumpkins is pretty much on schedule.  The rough sleep has slowed down my concentration right now so I’m not moving as quickly as I was last week, but I’m still thinking I can be finished by the end of the month.  I’ve been trying to establish a workable format so I won’t have a ton of things to do when I’m ready to turn all the files into book form.  The mighty Oracle of Google has shown me a number of ways to accomplish this.  I even have cover art now!  My wife was kind enough to bust out her mad skillz and produce some options for me.

Also, I want to give a shout out to any LGBT followers.  It is June and that means… HAPPY PRIDE!  The festival here in Milwaukee was in full swing this past weekend.  While I did not participate this year due to my devotion to getting my book finished, my wife spent all of Sunday having a blast at the festival grounds and riding  with friends in the parade.  Our community here is strong and beautiful!  Stay Proud Milwaukee!

Snippet #16

Laying flat on her stomach with her arms tucked mantis style beneath her, and her thick, dark, ponytail draped back over one shoulder, Haley hovered her face above the surface of the pond, her breath making the barest of ripples on the water.  Her time inside it had ended long ago, but to be able to watch, and breathe, and see the effect her very existence had upon those that came after; that was the true blessing of having lived at all.  The ripples she caused were small and avoidable, barely noticeable to those inside.  It was just enough to keep them trying.  Enough to keep things from being easy.

Every now and then, she would roll onto her back and stare into the sky above that was always black and shimmering with stars, and wonder who was breathing ripples down onto her?

I’d Rather Stand

The brown, faded leather couch was soft and enveloping, absorbing Colleen with a distinct woosh of air when her weight hit it.  Her feet, formerly adorable in her new Mary Janes, now hung childlike in the air as she discovered the true depth of the enormous piece of furniture.  Did she look as ridiculous as she felt?  Who puts a couch like this in a waiting room?  All the chairs, the normal, waiting room kind, were occupied.  Even if someone got up, she probably wouldn’t be able to free herself in time to claim the vacant seat.

Looking out at the folks waiting for their own appointments, she noticed a middle-aged man in the front with a bandage bulging over his left eye.  His unencumbered right eye stared curiously at her.  Giving him a tight smile, the kind she reserved for strangers in passing, she tried to settle more comfortably.  The cushion beneath her rolled and billowed as if she were sitting on a giant, semi-inflated balloon.  Setting her purse on her thighs she braced herself with outstretched arms as she bobbed a bit.

Feeling hugely exposed by this awkwardness, she began inching forward.  If she could at least put her feet on the floor she would be able to stand up without too much of a struggle when her name was called.  The couch didn’t seem inclined to cooperate.  Each bit of forward movement made her abdominal muscles strain to bring her upper body over her knees while her backside sank deeper.  Halfway to her target position she paused, took a deep breath and fought the urge to just flop backwards and take a break.  Unable to stop herself, she looked out at the room.

The man with the eye patch was still watching her.  Frozen in partial movement, arms straining forward and her legs stretched in Barbie doll fashion, she found herself trapped in a one-eyed stare down.  For an absurd moment she weighed her odds of winning, her two eyes against his one.  She was nearly being eaten by the couch while he sat composed on a firm, stable chair with armrests.  Then her stomach gave in to the strain and she sank slowly backward, ending almost flat, but with her head coming to rest at just enough of an angle to let her see everyone else as they studied her.  Lying quite still, she closed her eyes and contemplated her next move.

From this position she would be forced to roll almost completely over in order to gain enough leverage to shove herself off the couch.  Obviously she would land on her knees and have to pick herself off the floor.  Of course there was always the question of the couch’s cooperation.  What if she managed to roll over but couldn’t find her leverage?  Based on the results of her previous attempt she didn’t think it a stretch to envision herself face down and suffocating.  

With a bracing gasp of air, she made her decision.  Clutching her purse safely against her stomach she opened her eyes and raised her free hand into the air, waving it slowly back and forth like a white flag.

“A little help?”