My Thoughts on The Shape of Water

So, I took my wife to see this movie the other day, and while I couldn’t get into the whole ‘sex with an amphibian’ idea I did find the whole thing interesting as a thought project.  After reading Guillermo del Toro’s article on the film and what it meant to him to create it, I find myself still not quite reaching the same conclusions.  I believe that is the beauty of a well crafted film or story, we can all relate to it in different ways.  The events I’m about to cover are not necessarily chronological so please don’t spam me over the way I’m presenting things.

In my world, a place filled with ghosts and psychics and tarot cards, water is a significant symbol for emotions and longing; a dream for something that is not already present.  The title of the movie is a huge indicator for me that what I am about to see is not a reality in its most literal form.  The opening scene backs this up by showing a home filled with water and all the contents are floating.  As the credits fade out, the floating furniture begins to assemble itself properly; lamps and photos come together with tables, chairs align within the kitchen, and a sleeping woman lands gently upon the couch as oxygen separates from hydrogen and the sentient creatures of the planet begin to go about their day.

1962 is the year.  The first character we see is a woman who we learn is named Elisa.  She is mute.  She also has a strong attraction to hard boiled eggs and masturbating in her bath water to a literal egg timer.  I’m thinking of a three minute egg here.  How is that even possible?  Elisa lives in one side of a split apartment next to Giles.  We meet him after the egg timer goes off.  She slaps two of the four eggs she just boiled onto a plate with half of the sandwich she prepares and takes it to him.  The other two eggs and the rest of the sandwich are packed into a brown lunch bag that goes with her to her job.

This is where I begin to think the movie isn’t about Elisa at all, but rather Giles himself.  He is the voice of the narrator.  He is the artist who is starving.  He is a recovering alcoholic and… Giles is gay!  Evidently everything is forgivable but the last one.

As a mute, Elisa uses sign language and her lines are captioned on the screen.  There are only two people in the entire movie who actually talk with her, Giles and Zelda.  Zelda, played by actress Octavia Spencer, appears to be Elisa’s only female friend.  I spent more than a few minutes waiting for her deliver another victoriously brutal line that I could whip out at a moments notice to impress my friends and family with.  I was disappointed.  Of course Octavia wasn’t the lead role here so I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up in the first place.  Still, her role as Elisa’s interpreter at their job in a super secret government laboratory was quite meaningful to me in the end.

In this super secret government laboratory (in my mind I’m pronouncing that as lah-bore-a-tor-ee because it’s fun to say it that way) we meet several males in various positions of importance.  Elisa and Zelda are part of the janitorial crew for the facility.  Evidently Elisa is habitually late for work, a fact that is pointed out by another of the ladies on the crew who is irritated by Zelda holding up the line to the time clock so Elisa can take cuts and punch in.  While our social climate is riddled with people being offended I cannot pull gloss over a few facts of the movie here.  The angry lady is black, Zelda is black, Elisa is not black and she’s a mute.  The angry lady calls Elisa a dummy and talks down to Zelda for coddling her.  Why is this important?  The socio economic climate of this film makes a few biting statements regarding race and sexual preference.  To have the main character despised and coddled by members of a different race places her at the bottom of the human totem pole.  This is driven home later in the film by a weird diner scene.  It’s not as weird as the water filled bathroom scene, but it’s still weird.

The super secret government laboratory gets a new toy.  It’s surrounded by armed guards and mystery and it’s kept in a tank filled with water.  Elisa is drawn to the tank like a fish is drawn to water… oops, I may have given something away there.  The creature in the tank turns out to be The Creature From The Black Lagoon from 1954.  He looks great!  Man, this guy has aged fabulously.  As it turns out, there’s a reason he looks so good, he’s actually been living in a south american river all this time and being worshipped as a god.  He has some killer regenerative abilities.  He also has some pheremones that seep through heavy glass and iron.  Elisa gets one look at this monster and sets her egg timer.

It’s valuable to note here the treatment of this creature.  He is sentient and a very unwilling captive.  He also lacks the ability to effectively communicate with his captors.  He is chained, tortured and studied.  He is also despised.  Then he becomes coddled by Elisa.  Despised and coddled.  I believe I said those words before about something else.

As it turns out, Elisa is able to secretly teach the creature some sign language and get him to eat her eggs.  Of course the language of sexual attraction doesn’t need words so a lot of things go unsaid.  And before you beat yourself senseless with what I’m implying here, the answer is YES!  I know, I was astounded at it too, but who am I to judge?  The creature is clearly sentient and made its choice.  It’s not like Elisa busted out a jar of peanut butter and coerced him.  She was even kind enough to provide a visual to Zelda on exactly how the amphibious penis was accessible.

Let’s drift back to Giles now.  In my mind, he is the real main character of this story.  While Elisa is making googly eyes at the gilman, Giles is doing his best to get work as an advertising artist.  He is working furiously on an picture of a lovely American family being happy about a ring of red jello.  He thinks it’s some of his best work.  When he tries to sell the piece to an agency that he’s obviously worked for in the past he is told to make the family in the picture happier with bigger smiles and to make the jello green instead of red.  He is also reminded that he is an alcoholic.  The whole scene leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  Whatever trouble Giles’ drinking caused him in the past it’s not going to go away quietly.  You get the sense he is banging his head on a locked door.

Now we can talk about the diner.  Giles takes Elisa to a small diner to get some key lime pie.  This pie is the color of green that you would find on an aerial photo of the ocean.  The color is beautiful in its natural setting, but looks deeply traumatic as pie.  As it turns out, it’s not really the pie that has attracted Giles to the diner, it’s the man working the counter.  This is where we find out that Giles is homosexual.  He wants this man in a big way and has an entire refrigerator full of slices of sea green key lime pie to prove it.

On a solo return trip to the diner Giles tries to open a door between himself and the man behind the counter.  He is instantly shot down and there is nothing gentle about it.  The only saving grace for Giles is the black couple who enter and try to sit at the counter to order.  The man behind the counter is savage to them about not sitting down and they leave the diner.  Once they’re gone he tells Giles, who has been sitting at the counter all this time, to get out also, that the diner is a family place.  I guess by waiting until the couple were already gone the man behind the counter was acknowledging that gay white guys deserve a bit more respect than black people even though they are equally undesirable inside the diner and at the counter.  

While Giles is being abused both professionally and personally, Elisa is plotting to steal her amphibious lover away from the super secret government laboratory and hide it in her bathtub.  Giles agrees to drive the getaway van and applies his artistic talent to faking an ID that will get him through the gate.  He thinks it’s some of his best work.  Elisa finds surprise assistance from Zelda who is never far away from her friend at work, and is gifted with a box of bath beads from a secret Russian scientist named Hoffstetler who is hiding his true identity because – Cold War, eh?  The bath beads are evidently necessary to properly condition the water in Elisa’s bathtub so the gilman doesn’t die.  I encourage you to really think about this scenario for a moment.  The gilman is easily six feet tall.  He is broad shouldered and aggressive.  He has gills and fins and webbed toes and hands.  Elisa is going to put him in her bathtub and keep him there for a specified amount of time that spans several days.  It’s not like he’s a guppy.  The gilman is muscular and needs to eat something other than hard boiled eggs.  He’s also sentient.  Living in a small bathtub is going to bore the crap out of him.  And I don’t believe that Elisa can afford to keep this creature for more than a couple days or it will starve to death once it has worked its way through Giles’ many cats.  One becomes an hors devour early on but that doesn’t seem to bother anyone too much.  Maybe the snack cat was a bitch?

In the end, Elisa and Giles manage to get the creature down to the local canal that swelled tremendously in size due to some heavy rainfall.  I believe the canal leads out to the ocean and the plan is for the creature to just make a getaway.  The problem is the super secret government facility has been looking for it.  They find it just before it jumps into the canal and everyone gets shot a few times.  The creature looks dead for a couple minutes, then uses its amphibian super power of regeneration to heal itself.  It stands up, wipes off the bullet holes, then slashes the throat of the jackass that shot it.  While Giles watches, the gilman then picks up the shot (and maybe dead) Elisa and jumps into the canal with her.  We are then treated to the sight of her neck opening into gills so she can breathe and her eyes open.  She gets to live happily ever after with the gilman.

Obviously I’ve left a few things out here.  Let me clarify about Elisa’s gills.  She was an orphan who was found in water with three cuts on both sides of her neck that healed over into scars.  I think we are supposed to make the association that she is a crossbreed.  This would explain her inability to speak and her egg timer fixation.  However, it also brings up the question about her father.  Wouldn’t it be the gilman himself?  He seems to be the only one of his kind.  My wife insists that there might be other gilmen out there.  Just because we only see one doesn’t mean there aren’t others.  I see the point, but I still want to be appalled.

Incest aside, let me lay out what I think the film is really about.  I’ve already stated that Giles is the narrator of this tale.  He doesn’t narrate a lot, but it’s enough to let you know that he’s the one telling it.  The apartment he lives in is literally cut in half, each half with its own door.  Elisa lives in one half and he in the other.  I see Elisa as the manifestation of his homosexual needs.  He can’t speak of them and he must act on them in secret or risk being ridiculed and abused by his fellow man.  I believe what Giles wants is a family.  He longs for a white picket fence world with kids and a husband, someone to love and respect him and who will sit down to dinner at a table like a real family would.  All those eggs and the timer are a symbol for his own biological clock that is ticking futilely away.  By paring Eisa with Zelda you can see exactly where Giles feels his innermost desire rates on the social scale.  

Our human brains have a root brain that comes from the amphibian days of our evolution, back when we first crawled out of the sea and began to breath air.  Nowadays it is referred to as the reptilian brain, but without the amphibian beginning we would all still be bottom feeders.  Giles has reached a point in his isolated misery when his sentience is breaking down.  He is losing his ability to think like a human and has become trapped by his own reactions.  Elisa has become his silent voice of freedom.

Whether Guillermo del Toro intended the things I have taken from his film is anybody’s guess.  As I said at the beginning, in my world water is a symbol for emotion and desire and that is clearly what I see in every aspect of this film.  I feel ill equipped to view this story as a fairy tale.  To me it will never be some reptilian form of Beauty and the Beast.  Still, I found a lot to like about this story despite my aversion to some of the elements.  And my wife absolutely loved it.  If she is happy then I am happy.  All is right in the world.

Peace out my peeps!


Liebster Award!

I got an email the other day telling me I had been nominated for a Liebster Award.  Having not encountered this particular creature before I sought the knowledge of the Great Oracle.  Google lead me to the link above.  It appears to be a thoughtfully constructed exposure chain for the upcoming year, similar to a blog tour but different.  I find the idea both fun and compelling and I am pleased to be included in this.  According to the rules, I have to include them in my post so here they are, copy and pasted.

  • Link to this blog post in your Liebster Award blog post
  • Answer the questions given to you (if nominated, if you were not nominated you can use my questions)
  • Create more questions for your nominees to answer (I’m looking for unique and creative ones)
  • Comment on this blog post with a link DIRECTLY to your Liebster award. To make it easy for me to read them all.

Right out of the gate I would like to acknowledge the blog that nominated me, The Stories In Between and tell you a little about them.  I hadn’t run across the blog before the nomination so I’ve been doing a little reading.  I have to say I’m quite impressed.  The author’s style of writing is smooth and I have no doubt there is a lot of personal experience behind the writing.  I can feel it in the shape of the characters and their quite natural dialogue.  I always appreciate a story that will take me away from wherever I’m at and leave me feeling like I want to go back.  Truly a talented writer who takes the craft seriously.  I strongly encourage you to have a look at the blog and enjoy the writing.  I’m not finished there yet so I’ll be ramping up the views as I make my way through Thursdays In The Valley.  I am genuinely flattered to have to such a fine storyteller nominate my blog.

EDIT:  This post has taken me a few days to write and before I was finished a second nomination was dropped on my blog.  Thank you so much A Tree’s Roots!  Your blog is quite inspiring.  The energy that you put into your life and your words is meaningful to me on many levels and I look forward to spending more time on your blog.  The answers to your questions follow right after The Stories In Between.  I hope it’s not cheating to do it like this.

Next up is the questions.  The Stories In Between answered ten questions posed by the blog that nominated them, then created ten new questions for the blogs nominated by them.  My job is to answer the ten new questions then create ten of my own.  So here goes.

The Stories In Between

  1. What hobby would you get in to if time and money weren’t an issue?

Cartooning.  I realize this isn’t a big money issue, but I simply don’t have the time for it.  I draw a little bit but it’s nothing major.  If I really had time to devote to it I would develop both a comic strip style storyline as well as an animated version.

  1. What is the most annoying question that people ask you?

How old are you?  Lol.  I’m 51 but I seem to still be holding up pretty well.  The question seems to spark a lot of argument on occasion, prompting me to dig out my wallet and show my ID to prove I’m really that age.

  1. What’s something you’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t gotten around to it?

Making my own condiments.  My wife just got me a stick blender for Christmas so I’ll be trashing the kitchen soon while I try to make homemade mayonnaise.  Wish me luck!

  1. Do you have a dream job? What would it be?

Writing.  My mother always beat me over the head with the idea of having something to fall back on and as a result I have always devoted my time to the fall back job and never enough time to my writing.

  1. If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make?

Walk the way you drive people!  Stop charging up and down whatever side of the sidewalk you feel like.

  1. If you could make a 20 second phone call to yourself at any point in your life present or future, when would you call and what would you say?

I would call myself at a rather specific moment twelve(ish) years ago and say “Don’t apologize.  You are right.”

  1. What do you do to deal with stress?

I write stories and turn my antagonists into demons.  I also play video games to kill things with impunity.

  1. Do you have any pets? What are their names?

I have three pets.  Bill is a gray tabby who stares and chirps at things only he can see; Louie is a fat, orange tabby I bought from PetSmart… cuz I looked at him and he looked back.  Ya know?  Everette is a white ferret that seems intent on convincing Bill and Louie they are adopted.


  1. What is something that is really popular/cool right now that really annoys you?

Memes.  ‘Nuff said.

  1. Do you have a favorite book/story from your childhood?

I have a number of them however there are two that stand out:  A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle (I’m curious about the upcoming movie.  Will my hope for a good translation from book to film be met or shattered?) and Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander.  Taran was given to me by mother who had a bad habit of not bothering to see if the book she was buying was part of a series.  It was only after reading it that I actually read the entire cover and discovered I needed to save my allowance and buy the rest of the series.  I am my mother’s child.

Questions from A Tree’s Roots

1,  What is your favorite color and what does it mean to you?

A deep emerald green.  To me it means health and good fortune.  Just seeing this color will make me smile.

2. What prompted you to start blogging and/or writing?

I’ve always written stories.  When I was around five or six my mother gave me a book with blank pages and it set my mind on fire.  The blaze has burned long and hard.  Starting a blog as an outlet for this seemed like a natural step.

3.  What is the most significant journey you’ve been through?

The one I’m on right now, my life itself.  I have made so many choices that I felt were arbitrary but turned out to be significant in the end.  Where I’m at right now is not a place I would have seen myself even five years ago.  It’s kinda fun to know that I can still blow my own mind.

4.  Who or what is your greatest adversary?

I have to say my own fear of failure.  Judging myself as harshly as I do can become paralyzing.

5.  If you could conceptualize yourself as anything other than a human being, what would you be?

A tree.  My life has been quite nomadic even in childhood.  I would love to find a single location where I could put down my roots and just live.

6.  How would you describe your safe place?  If you don’t have one what do you imagine it might be like?

My safe place is anywhere without other people.  I need to feel like my mind is the only one active in my immediate surroundings.

7.  What is your favorite website?

Hmmm.  I’m not sure how to answer this one.  I don’t think I have a favorite but there are several that like a lot.  I’m a big fan of Reddit and Twitch.

8.  What type of media resonates most with you?

I love audio.  Tell me a story.  Read me a book.  Turn on a podcast!  I think I listen to movies more than I actually watch them.

9.   Do you have any background/education/experience you feel benefits your blog?

Not really.  I took a few college classes back in the day for english and creative writing but I didn’t enjoy them.  I found them to be tedious and unenlightening.

10.  On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) how would you rate your ability to empathize?

I have to go with 10.  I am firmly standing on the side of over-empathizing to the point that it can ruin my whole day if I encounter someone oozing unhappiness.  I carry that stuff around with me.

Before I list my own questions I would like to provide the list of blogs I am nominating.  Each one is one that I follow and have enjoyed.  I would really like it if you would take the time to check them all out.  



Now for my questions.

  1. What is the one piece of advice that will forever jump into your mind because you didn’t take it when your were first given it?
  2. What is your favorite thing to binge on?
  3. What is a physical gesture you tend to use a lot and why?  EX. talking with your hands, winking at someone while you speak, shaking your leg.
  4. Pick a card, any card… a tarot card.  🙂
  5. What are your top two pet peeves with our digital age lifestyle?
  6. What is your all-time favorite blogging beverage?
  7. Name a book/movie that you can watch/read again and again.
  8. What is an activity you enjoy watching other people do but don’t want to do yourself?
  9. How do you explain why water turns into ice to a four year old?
  10. What is a habit you have that you got from someone else?

Dak – Part One

Dak lay on his right side with his little, black snout pointing at the base of the toilet, almost touching the visible crack left from last Spring’s repair job.  His small, now cloudy brown eyes stared emptily into the space between the toilet and the wall while his back legs lay draped on a thin, pink pillow shoved against the side of the bathtub.  She had never seen the pillow before.

“Kayla?  Honey, what’s taking you so long?”

Jamie’s voice grew louder as she walked from the hallway into their bedroom.  Her heavy, booted footsteps stopped just outside the bathroom door.


Pulling her shocked gaze away from the dead, gray terrier she turned to face her wife with shiny, wet eyes, her right hand automatically reaching out, groping for support.  Her voice cracked with emotion.

“Jamie, Dak is dead.”  Protectively she filled the doorway, using her body as a shield between Jamie and their dead dog.  “Something has happened.”

Jamie’s small, not quite heart shaped face, expanded with alarm, her pale, blue eyes bugging slightly in their sockets.  The grip of her hand, initially reassuring, slackened.

“What?  What do you mean he’s dead?  What happened?”  Always the more nurturing one, Jamie pressed forward, trying to see past her into the bathroom.  Her voice rose in panic.  “Kayla, get out of my way.  Let me see!”  Three inches shorter but muscled like an iron-worker, Jamie used her shoulder to shove through the doorway.

Helplessly, Kayla watched Jamie take in the scene, her short, blond hair looking bristly in the stark bathroom lighting. Without looking she knew her own auburn locks looked like they belonged on a plastic, doll.  They always talked about changing the bulb to something softer, but never did.

“Oh Dak.”  Jamie’s voice was almost a whisper.  “Oh Dak, what happened?” Crouching, she reached to touch the body and Dak’s head rolled loosely against the floor making a sound similar to someone cracking their knuckles.  

“Jesus!”  Yelping in surprise Jamie fell on her butt.  Her boots thundered against the tile floor as she scrambled backward crashing into Kayla’s shins and staggering them both.

“I don’t know what happened, Jay.  I just walked in and found him.”  Putting her hands on her wife’s shoulders she squeezed gently.  “It must have happened while we were out.”  Feeling Jamie’s body tremble she dropped to her knees and wrapped both arms around her.  

“I’m sorry, baby.  I’m so sorry.”  The apology was instinctive.  Jamie had loved Dak with the fierceness of a lioness.  The small terrier had been the child she could never have.  Turning inside her embrace Jamie pressed her face into her shoulder, her body hitching with sobs.  Kayla’s own tears trailed silently down her cheeks to drop unnoticed on Jamie’s hair.  

Her eyes dragged themselves back to Dak’s body, horrifying her with the need to stare at the now obvious broken neck.  The pink pillow under the dog’s back end stuck out boldly in the beige and blue bathroom decor.  Where had that come from?  Neither of them had a pillow like that, not even as a left-over childhood momento.  It looked uneven and thinly stuffed, like something a kid might make when they were first learning to sew.  Her brain struggling to work again, she gave Jamie another squeeze and tried to ease her away as her heart sped up with fresh alarm.

“Jay, get up.  Someone has been here.”  She felt Jamie stiffen and watched her expression change, the puffy, leaking eyes narrowing as her lips parted enough to be the precursor of a snarl.

“What do you mean?”

Kayla raised an arm to wave at the pink pillow.

“Is that yours?  That pillow?”

“Of course not, it’s hideous.”  Her voice was sharp and bitter, as if she were annoyed to have to acknowledge the pillow at all.  “It looks like that stomach medicine.”

“It’s not mine either,” Kayla stated as her eyes snapped to Jamie’s face, magnetized by the sudden harshness of her tone.  “Where did it come from?”

Pushing away, Jamie got her feet under her and stood up.  With one hand she smoothed her hair down, staring at her palm as she brushed through the wet spot where Kayla’s tears had landed.

“You cried on me.”

Cocking her head to the side, Kayla stared at her wife.  Jamie wasn’t looking at her, just staring at her hand like it was repulsive.

“Jay, did you hear what I said?”

Jamie nodded and wiped her hand against her jeans, still not looking at Kayla.

“Yeah, you asked if the pillow was mine.”

“Before that I said someone has been here.”  Feeling like something was wrong, more wrong than just their dead terrier she fixed her eyes on Jamie and waited.

Satisfied that her hand was dried, Jamie looked up at her and nodded again.

“Of course I heard you, babe.  Just because I’m crying doesn’t mean I’m not listening.”  The bitter tone was back in her voice.

“What’s wrong with you?”  Kayla took half a step backward, her heel landing on the bedroom carpet.  Her heart leaped into her throat when Jamie laughed harshly.

“What’s wrong with me?  My dog is dead!  What wrong with you?”

“He was my dog too!”  Stung, she looked away as more tears filled her eyes.

“Shit.  I’m sorry, Kay.”  Jamie  stepped close and put her hand on her arm.  “I didn’t mean that.”

Overwhelmed, Kayla could only nod as she began to cry again.  Jamie’s body pressed against her and her arms wrapped around her in a mirror image of their position only moments before.

“We need to sort this out, babe.”  Jamie’s voice was soft but firm against her scalp.

Looking again at Dak’s body, Kayla tensed, her eyes drawn to what looked like a small, brown stick poking out from under the pillow.

“What is it?”  Drawing back, Jamie peered at her, then turned to see what she was looking at.

“Someone killed our dog.”  She sniffled.

Monologue #26

This week’s story is one that I challenged myself to.  I’ve always wanted to do a locked room mystery, but haven’t had the bolas to try it.  To make things even harder on myself, I have imposed a limit of 3000 words.  Just to be clear, I’ll be posting this in three parts of 1000 words each.  The last time I tried a three part post/story I went over my word limit by just a little bit.  The finale took more than 1000 words to write.  I intend to do better this time.  And on top of all of that, I chose three random items to use as clues.  If anyone wants to play along at home, the items are as follows:

  1. Pillow – doesn’t matter what kind. It can be a bed pillow, throw pillow, cat pillow… whatever.
  2. Round plastic condiment container with a cracked lid – the kind you get sauces and stuff in.  It’s up to you if there is actually anything in it or not, it just needs to be an informative clue.
  3. Cigar Stub – Chew it, smoke it, use the ashes.

There you go.  One locked room mystery with ready made items for use.  If anyone runs with this idea throw me a link please.  I would be interested in reading what you come up with.  I need to get writing now, I have a murder to plan.

Happy writing everyone!

COL – Distraction

“What the hell are you staring at Ferguson?  Pay attention to your game!”  

Stepping right into his personal space, the Pit Manager Louis planted a large, hot hand on the back of his head and shoved his face down toward the table.

“Head down, ass up!  Nothing else matters!”

Blood surged into Shane’s cheeks as Old Dave the Boxman turned to stare at him with his too small, ermine eyes.  The hairs on the back of his neck leapt straight up.   The players on his end of the dice table started chuckling.  Thinking of them as second rate hyena’s he wished them all a healthy meal of his embarrassment and prayed for them to choke on it.  Six rolls of the dice passed before he dared to pick his head up again and casually glance into the other pit.  Camilla was dealing at optimal speed, her hands and arms flowing like water, placing cards with precision.  She was a perfect study in efficiency.

“Seven OUT!”

Tearing his eyes away he automatically started grabbing up the losing Passline bets in chunks that he dropped on top of his number line amid a chorus of complaints.

“What are you doing, man?”  A dark hand reached down to block him from picking up the next wager.

“Seven out, sir.”  Shane looked up into the older, frowning face.  “The Passline loses.”  It was a stupid explanation but sometimes the players forgot what was going on.  And if he wasn’t mistaken, this guy had laughed for three rolls over the head down, ass up thing.  

“Dude, the dice haven’t even rolled.”  Continuing to block Shane, the man shook his head firmly and used his other hand to point down the table.

Cautiously turning his head to look at Chuck on the other base, he saw his friend standing motionless, hands on the rail with all his Passline bets still in place.  Feeling panic start to slither into his throat, he looked at the Stickwoman.  Cassie stared back at him.  The thick, black braid over her shoulder seemed to bleed its darkness into her eyes.

“It was the table behind you,” she said, tapping the base of her stick lightly against the green felt covering, a clear sign she was irritated with him.

“The dice haven’t rolled, Shane.”  Old Dave the boxman wiggled his swelling finger joints at the mess in front of Shane in annoyance.  “You need to put the bets back.”

“What the hell is wrong, Ferguson?  Still not watching your game?”  Louis barked from his podium, his voice booming and hard enough to split granite.  “Dave, get a grip on this guy, will you!”

With trembling hands Shane started sorting through the chips he had dropped onto his line, feeling Dave’s eyes on him.  His boxman was a lifer, never supervising anything but dice.  If the Pit Manager was snarling at Old Dave then Old Dave was going to rip out someone’s throat.  Shane was positive he would be dealing blackjack for the next week once Dave finished with him.

Five minutes later the bets were restored but his ego was shattered.  Holding onto the rail for support, he stared down at the table listening to his players talk rudely about him like he wasn’t there, and waiting to feel a tap on his shoulder signalling he should clear out.  The dice rolled.  Leaping into action, he paid everything and returned to his starting position, still waiting for the tap.  After two more rolls he heard the harsh, blatting of Old Dave laughing through sinuses that were too used up to support the sound.

“I think he’s got it now, Lou.”

“Good.  I’m already tired of him today.”  Louis’s voice drifted away, signalling he was walking to the other end of the pit.  

“He’s so scared of me he probably won’t look up for the rest of the week.”  Slapping the rail beside Shane, Old Dave rocked slightly in his broken down office chair.  “Don’t worry, Shane, I’m not tossing you over to blackjack just yet.”  He chuckled.  “From the look of things, you’d be happy there right now.”

In the edge of his vision he saw Dave focus on the other pit and knew he was looking directly at Camilla.

Monologue #25

I’m trying to get back into the swing of things.  I gave the blog a new header image and updated my About page which gave me a satisfied feeling.  Getting involved again feels like taking a deep breath after coughing too hard.  I need this air in my lungs.  This air right here.  Yup, that’s much better.

Smashing Pumpkins has progressed tremendously in the past couple months.  I have been forced to face the full size of this work (70k and climbing) and finally accepted the fact that I can’t pants it anymore.  Getting everything into working order now is going to take some seriously focused effort since I’ve got characters running all over the place right now.  To that end I have Googled  how to organize my material with Scrivener in a way that I can work with and found some good ideas.  When I bought the software I was aware of the learning curve and thought I’d just take it slow.  As it turned out, I’m not that patient.  I tore through the information provided and touched everything.  That doesn’t mean that I remember everything I learned, it just means that I got super excited and looked at it all.

Today’s business is really just going to be business.  I need to get out and work so I’m going to set my pen down (I still use one) and download a couple episodes of Star Trek DSN to my tablet and head out into the world to make some money.  What does DSN have to do with anything?  I spend a lot of time waiting, that’s what.

In the meantime please checkout the latest short work, Between The Pews.  As always, I wish you all inspiration and personal satisfaction in your endeavors.  Here’s to a productive year!  Cheers!

Between The Pews

Time always seemed to slow down to a crawl the second he walked in the door.  Minutes took hours to happen.  Maybe it was all the candles?  Did candles have some weird effect on time?  Who knows.  Could it be something actually built into the bricks of the church?  It wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that God’s blessing on the building was actually a rip in the fabric of time.  Everyone inside the church, soon to be fidgeting  through the sermon with him was actually trapped in a long, drawn out, three hour coaching session that only took an hour for everyone on the outside.

Slipping out of his brown leather jacket he draped it carefully over his left arm and tried to relax while looking around at the others..  The red carpet with its twisting black pattern always reminded him of the decor he sometimes saw on wrought iron fencing, giving him the unshakeable idea that he had walked into a trap.  Paired with the bright colors of the stained glass windows and those ridiculous giant wall drapes, he always felt bombarded by awareness when he first entered the church.  The warm, oak stain on the pews was the only saving grace, offering a safe spot to sit and block out the rest of the room.

“Good morning Fred.  It’s good to see you this morning.”

Trying not to look unfriendly, he turned toward the smooth talking salesman of God’s word, his hand already out and ready to be grasped.

“Morning Pastor Tom.”  Ugh, always with the soft, two handed grip.  Holding his face absolutely expressionless, he forced himself to endure it.  The man was a minister.  He was supposed to be gentle and non-threatening.   “It’s good to see you too.  How’s Helen doing?”   He looked the man in the eye, careful to not be too strong about it.  They were the same height, but that was all.  Dark haired Pastor Tom was more than a little portly and preferred a light gray suit for practically every occasion.  His own khaki slacks and charcoal gray sweater, chosen specifically to highlight his sandy hair with its seventy dollar haircut felt a lot more casual now that he was standing here.  He’d never felt this awkward with their previous minister, Reverend Harry.  Harry had rarely worn a suit.  He was a real down-to-earth guy.

“Helen is doing well,” Pastor Tom said with a grin.  “You know my sister, she’s got her hands into every pot she can find, stirring at top speed.”

Um, yeah.  What the hell was the last thing Helen had organized?  He couldn’t remember.  Was it that luncheon for the Beekeepers?

“That’s good.  Busy hands and what not.”  Smile and nod.  Pastor Tom was nodding too, his dark hair held firmly in place by an expert application of hair grease.  They were close enough that he could smell the lanolin.

“You know, Fred, Helen could use another pair of strong arms to help with the Pancake Breakfast on the thirtieth.  We need one more cook for the grill.”  Pastor Tom’s dark blue eyes opened just a smidgen wider.

How strong did you have to be to flip a flapjack and roll over a sausage link?

“I’ll check my calendar, Pastor Tom.  It’s been a busy month for me.”  He felt his face stiffen with resistance.  Those blue eyes might work on the ladies of the congregation, but they didn’t move him in the slightest.  Was that Karen Green just walking in?  He caught a flash of copper red hair just behind Pastor Tom’s bulk followed immediately by a flash of leg.  It took willpower to keep himself from tearing his eyes away from his minister just to stare wolfishly behind him.

“Of course, Fred.  Just let Helen know if she can put your name on the list.”  Pastor Tom turned away to greet another member of his flock, fully blocking the view of Miss Green and leaving a distinctly loud and empty spot behind him.

Feeling like his shoes, long ago broken in to the point of comfort were suddenly too tight on his feet, he turned toward his usual pew and took a seat, laying his jacket gently beside him where another person might be tempted to sit.  Sunday wasn’t usually a work day for him, but he could definitely make it one.  At least the people who worked on the Lord’s Day got paid.  All he got was the ability to repent and be judged by the rest of the congregation.  Sighing softly he looked up toward the domed ceiling with it’s stained, wooden braces and tried to feel something besides resignation.