Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Quote of the Day: Dichotomy & Creativity

Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time.
Pablo Picasso

The chief enemy of creativity is "good" sense.
Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Quotes of the Day: Friendship & Love

Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.
Aristotle

There is no remedy for love but to love more.
Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Short Story...Under The Bridge

Click.
“Son of a bitch!” Trevor Barrow removed the cold gun muzzle from his temple and let his pistol hand fall and began to sob. “I can’t do anything right.”
He leaned back against his late model, dark blue, Mercedes. His double-breasted suit was rumpled, a silk tie hung loose around his thick neck. He drew a half empty fifth of Glenlivet Scotch to his lips and gulped. Wiping his lips on a shirtsleeve, he smeared Scotch across the raised monogrammed cuff.
Trevor’s car sat under a bridge in a seedy part of downtown Detroit between two abandoned factories. The cars exhaust fumes commingled with the wafting sewer steam to create a toxic fog that enveloped him. The acrid smell of rotting garbage, urine, and sewer gas made him cough as a chill went through him.
Flames licked out of a nearby rusty 55-gallon barrel. He sat the bottle on the roof of the car and steadied it. In a quick movement, he racked the slide to chamber a round. Shadows danced in a semi-circle from the radiant light.
With a grimace, he placed the gun to his head and screamed, “AAAAHHHH” He again pulled the trigger.
Click. As the hammer hit the firing pin the clip slid out of the gun and hit the asphalt with a thud.
“Damn it!” Trevor quickly picked up the clip and slid it back in.
“What the hell you doin’?’” a voice asked. It seemed to come from a pile of newspapers by the burning barrel.
“Huh?” Startled, Trevor pulled the gun from his head and pointed it at the newspapers. “Who’s there?”
“Can’t you find a better place to off yourself than in my house?”
Trevor scanned the area. “Who’s there?”
“God, you dumb ass. Go find somewhere else for your crap. You’re disturbing my peace.”
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” Trevor stumbled over and kicked the newspapers. Underneath, found only garbage and concrete.
“What are going to do, hit me with that thing? Throw it at me? It aint worth a flying... If it were, you’d have been done the first pull. You poor lucky bastard.”
Trevor squinted and peered through the darkness beyond the flames. He could barely make out the silhouette of a tall skinny man leaning against a pylon of the bridge.
“Come out of there. Whoever you are,” Trevor said as he waved his gun, motioning the shadow out.
“You are a little confused, aren’t you buddy?”
“Huh?”
“You have no right to order me to do anything, and pointing that piece of junk at me is meaningless. My will to live is less than yours. So piss off.”
“Look, I’m not a murderer. I want to kill myself, not you. I won’t hurt you. Just come out.”
The shadow seemed to ponder the situation for a few seconds, and then said, “Alright, I’ll come out, but put that gun down on the car and bring the bottle over here.”
Trevor backed over to the car, set the gun on the hood, grabbed the bottle off the roof, and walked back toward the voice.
The man stooped to pick something up and then slowly emerged from the shadows. He looked haggard and malnourished with long gray hair and matching beard. His weather beaten face had a hangdog look. A threadbare tweed suit hung lifelessly on his frail frame. It looked as though it had been an expensive suit sometime in the past.
In one hand, balanced against his hip, he held two aluminum lawn chairs with faded floral print webbing. He unfolded each one, set them by the burning drum, and said, “Cop a squat and hand me that bottle.”
Trevor sat down and passed the man the bottle. The man uncorked it, took two big gulps, and choked, “Damn that’s the good, I aint had Glenlivet in years.”
They sat for a few moments unsure of what to say. The man finally broke the silence by saying, “What’s your problem junior? You evidently have money. Nice car. Fine clothes. Looks like a Rolex on your wrist. What gives?”
Trevor stared beyond the barrel flames to the Detroit River. He could hear waves breaking against the bridge’s pylons. Tires thumped on bridge grating as cars entered and left Canada. He muttered, “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers. ”
“Shakespeare? King Henry the Sixth… What tragedy has befallen you son?”
“I am a lawyer.”
“Ok, that sucks, but it’s not worth killing yourself over.”
“You don’t get it.”
“No, I guess I don’t. But I used to be a lawyer, long ago.”
Trevor laughed, shook his head, and looked him over, “Yeah? You must have been a real good one.”
“Twenty years ago, I was. This was a $1,500 suit back then.” He brushed dirt from one of the lapels.
“So, you’re a homeless lawyer, just my luck. Did God send you to be my guardian angel?”
“Right. I’ve been living under this bridge for twenty damn years just waiting for your dumb ass to come down here to kill yourself. Did you inherit your money or what? You can’t be much of an attorney.”
“I am . . . I’m too good of an attorney.”
“Ok, I’ll bite. What kind of an attorney are you?”
“Defense.”
The man began to howl with laughter, “Great.”
“What’s so funny?”
“I was a prosecutor.” He said trying to contain himself.
“Look, I’m very good. I have it all. I was educated at Yale. I have a mansion, the summer homes, an apartment in New York, a yacht, sports cars, trophy wife, mistress, and all the money I can spend. I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t take it.”
“The pressure?”
“No. Getting people off.”
“That’s what defense attorneys do - the good ones anyway.”
“I don’t want it. Look old man you’re not exactly in a position to be giving me advice. You live under a bridge for Christ sake.”
“Ah, taking the Lord’s name in vane and insulting me. Tisk.Tisk.”
“Sorry. I just don’t know what to do.”
“Quit. Sell everything. Move south where it’s warm.”
“It’s not that easy. Something happened. Something I can’t live with.”
“You can live with whatever you want to live with, junior. I walked away from the prosecutor’s job because I couldn’t do it anymore either.”
“Why?”
The man stood and held his hands close to the barrel’s flames. His brow furrowed as he pondered an answer. “That was a long time ago. I try not to think about it, actually do everything I can to forget it.” He paused for a long moment. He started to speak. Stopped and then said, “It was a murder case.”
“So, was mine.” Trevor said.
The man hesitated again, “I sent a guy to Jackson for a murder. He was raped and killed the first week he got there. When it happened, I thought, good riddance.”
“That’s what prosecutors do. You can’t control what happens in prison.”
“Yeah, but during the trial there was something I didn’t like. It didn’t feel right. The defendant didn’t seem to fit the crime.”
“The jury must have thought there was enough evidence to convict.”
“It all turned on the testimony of a cop. A cop we later found to be dirty. He admitted to perjury and planting evidence in my murder case in exchange for a plea agreement. But by then, the defendant was dead.”
“Oh shit.”
“Yeah, an innocent man died, and I lost faith in myself and in the system. The line between good guys and bad had become too blurred.” The man turned to face Trevor; tears glistened in the corners of his eyes. “I’ve been down here ever since.”
“Oh, shit.”
“Yeah, you said that.”
“No, I mean, that’s kind of what happened to me, but from the other side. I got a guilty man acquitted two weeks ago. He was accused of Murder in the First, Aggravated First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, and Use of a Firearm during the commission of a felony. The works. He walked…because of me.”
“So, that’s what you do. That’s your job. Don’t beat yourself up over it. How do you know the guy’s guilty?”
“It was on the news a couple hours ago. They caught him burying two naked young girls in his back yard. The news reported evidence of rape…”
They both said nothing for a few moments. Sirens roared in the distance. Trevor’s car ran quietly, waves sloshed against the pylons. Tires thumped above on the bridge grating.
The old man walked over to the car and picked up the gun. He pulled out the clip, looked at it, tapped it against his hip and slid it back into place. He racked the slide, pointed it towards the burning barrel and pulled the trigger.
The gun recoiled, emitted a loud pop, and a muzzle flash as one round pierced the barrel dead center. Embers and ashes plumed into the air as he shook his head and said, “Having nothing, nothing can he loose.”
He flipped the gun around, grasped it by the slide and placed the grip back into Trevor’s hand. The old man slowly returned to his lawn chair, leaned back, and stretched his legs. He appeared to drift off to sleep.
Trevor shook his head and stuck the gun into his waistband. “Shakespeare.” He walked over to the car and opened the door. “Since I’ve got nothing to loose now, I’m thinking North Carolina. You want to go?”
The man didn’t answer. His eyes were closed.
“Hey?” Trevor yelled at the man.
The man didn’t move.
Trevor walked over and touched the man’s shoulder. He still didn’t move. He shook him gently. No response. Taking the man by the wrist, Trevor felt for a pulse. There was none.
“Finally, he has peace.” Trevor walked back over to the car, got in, and drove away. Shaking his head he said to noone, “ Having nothing, nothing can he loose…”

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Quote of the Day: Nietzsche

A woman may very well form a friendship with a man, but for this to endure, it must be assisted by a little physical antipathy.

Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent.

And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Distraction and the Blog

Life has gotten busy of late, in very good ways. Blogging, unforunately took a back seat. I have decided to get back into the dating world and restart my career in consulting and law. I've found an office, started wearing a suit, tie, underwear, and socks and re-entered society. I'm working out daily, eating right, and consuming less alcohol.

This past week I've returned to court, the art scene, and smoozed past and future clients. I've been out on an excellent date with a beautiful, intelligent, woman and traveled a bit.

These distractions were well needed and long in coming. Writing and blogging are now back on my agenda and you should see a notable difference in the topics I choose to blog about.

Thanks for stopping by...

Quotes of the Day: Of Writing, Risk & Love

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it.
Anais Nin

It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before... to test your limits... to break through barriers. And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Anais Nin

Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.
Anais Nin

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Being Published...at what cost?

To be published, at what cost? The end game is getting published, but with the current proliferation of e-publishing, vanity publishing and the like ,what does a writer gain for being published at any cost?

As some of you know, I am in a mystery writers critique group. A recent potential new writer came to our last meeting and was so distraught over her recent publishing experience that she had been unable to write since publication. She received no advance, no editting, and no marketing, advertising, or distribution of her book. She did give up the rights to her book and the characters involved thereof. I was wondering why the hell she would want to be published this bad, but really you and I know why.

In the pursuit of publication, authors give up too much, with little in return. Preditors and Editors Website is supposedly a watch dog but I have heard horror stories from writers that have published with houses that receive passing marks or negative marks and authors had an opposite experience.

Where do you draw the line? When is what they offer, not an offer at all?

The horror. The Horror.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Quotes of the Day: Past & Future

What is past is prologue.
William Shakespeare

I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.
William Shakespeare

The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.
Peter F. Drucker

The best way to predict the future is to create it.
Peter F. Drucker

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Creativity

For some unknown reason, creativity courses again through my mind. After a prolonged fallow time, writing creatively has returned in full force.

Why now? Personal resolution? Dark clouds passed? The storm has moved beyond me?

I have no idea why, it just happened.

How do you spur creativity? Go to a special physical or mental place? Is there an exercise?

Quotes of the Day: Creativity

The chief enemy of creativity is "good" sense.
Pablo Picasso

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

The creative writer uses his life as well as being its victim; he can control, in his work, the self-presentation that in actuality is at the mercy of a thousand accidents. John Updike

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Astray: A short story beginning or a scene

Detective Harry Beam sat way outside his jurisdiction in front of a disheveled house in rural North Carolina. As he stubbed out his cigarette in the ashtray of a non-descript black sedan, he opened the door and stepped out on the gravel-strewn driveway. He walked and entered the disintegrating side door of the house without knocking. The air was thick with grease, cooking seafood, and cigarette smoke.

A one-eyed black pit bull lay motionless on the floor in front of the kerosene heater. He stepped over it. An older woman slowly breathed oxygen through the airlines fished throughout the door casings of the decaying house from an oxygen machine that wheezed silently with every breath. She sat at the Formica kitchen table in a well-worn nightgown, aged glasses, no teeth and a complacent look. Very pretty at one time, now her hair was black with gray streaks, matted and hung in sweaty stringy clumps. Now she was just old. Beauty remained but very faint, hidden, subdued, and masked by old age and infirmity. Her exhalations came in deep gasps. She still loved life, fast escaping her, but could do nothing about it - despair, boredom, and pain on her face. She sipped iced tea.

Harry sat down at the table with her.

The furnace had broken thirty some years ago when he was a teen, since then hand held kerosene heaters heated only the main three rooms; kitchen, den, living room – all the other rooms remained unheated. Mornings, he awoke during high school with frost on he inside of my windows and sometimes on my bed covers. He slept fully dressed and bolted from the house at first light.

The old man wore a crisp white shirt, ironed black slacks, a skinny black tie, and a full white beard and mustache to cover his severe weight loss. The reason for business dress ended long ago, but he continued. He busied himself. He cooked. He waited on her and Harry. Lovingly - without complaint or hesitation. He looked like he now weighed about ninety pounds.

The old man slid a plate in front of Harry, shrimp, deviled crab, homemade macaroni and cheese, and steaming collard greens with big hunks of fatback dispersed thought. Harry devoured the shrimp first. There is nothing like butterflied pan-fried shrimp.

As Harry sat trying not to weep, he stared at the two people he barely recognized, who gave him life and raised him the best they could.

“You been to the doctor lately Dad?”

“Those bastards? I’m not going to them for minor aches and pains.” He said with a thick southern drawl.

“You look like you’ve lost a lot of weight since I was here last.”

“Na.”

“Dad, you know those ties are way out of style.”

“Harry, they always come back.” He shook his head and sighed, “I’ve been wearing these ties since the 50’s, and they always come back in style.” This was a standard interchange and he was right.

The spring in his step gone, the quick joke, the hearty laugh no more. Even the barbs poked back and forth were gone. Harry’s and his father never spoke of anything of substance. Always Notre Dame football, hats, ties, anything but life. Now, with his life was near its end Harry stumbled for words.

“Dad?”

“Yeah, son?”

“Can I have some more shrimp?”

“Sure.” He threw six more fist sized butterflied, crab stuffed shrimp in a big black wrought iron pan with a big hunk of Crisco. It sizzled as he stirred with a spatula. “These are prawns, ya know. They’ll be done in a few minutes. You want something to drink? You need cocktail sauce? Hot sauce?”

“Some iced tea.”

His father pulled out a Ball jar, filled it with ice and tea and sat it on the table.

The house, once a good-sized five bedroom, housed and raised four boys years ago, but now it crumbled around them. Yellow nicotine, grease, and thick dust dripped down the walls, paint pealed, the whole house cried for attention. Attention that would never come from it’s current owners.

Death hung in the air, thick and humid. A smell so thick Harry could taste it.

Shrimp, crab, and collards was also thick in the air. Smells of a childhood that had rallied friends and neighbors to this house in droves for many years and still. Any time of the day or night to have Dad pull out pots or pans and cook a meal. The Southern way. No one could be hungery. Feed everyone. They could barely afford to feed themselves but they did not complain. Don’t talk. Eat.

The family was never close. The turbulent 70’s snuffed out any thing that Harry had in common with them. Vietnam. Free love. Hippy culture. His dad was forty, when he was born, and my age now, was and is a complete enigma. They very rarely spoke, and if they did, it was usually because Harry had fucked up in some major way – and he fucked up often in my youth and more in his teen years.

By the time Harry was eighteen, he had totaled the family car, been arrested several times for drunk driving, shoplifting, assault, grand theft, auto theft, and many, many, other crimes. He had joined the Army to cleanse his record and get needed direction and discipline in his life. It had worked but distanced him from his parents.

So now, Harry sat at his table once again. Being fed again near end of his father’s journey, wanting to apologize and ask forgiveness.

“Dad?”

“Yeah son.”

“That’s some damn good shrimp. Is the crab from down at the marina.”

“Na. That’s some frozen crap I picked up last week. Fresh is a whole lot better. I”ll get some fresh for you next time you come down. Mom? You want some deviled crab?”

“Please.” She said.

“Harry?”

“Yeah, Dad.”

“You want some collards with that?”

“Don’t put yourself out.”

“Na. Just take a minute. It’s frozen though. Grew it last year. I’m not sure I have the energy to put a garden in this year. But I got some fatback to throw in this. You’ll like it.”

“Ok.”

A flurry of plastic and pans and the greens were on the stove on high heat. Before long the house emanated the smell of fatback, that bacon-y hog jowl smell that’s fat when rendered gave any green a southern flavor that once acquired was impossible to resist.
Harry looked at his frail father. White shirt, black pants, and that damn skinny tie, his father smiled and whistled as he cooked. He loved this. Serving. This was his life...

Quote of the Day: Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

"I'm walkin' down that long, lonesome road, babe
Where I'm bound, I can't tell
But goodbye's too good a word, gal
So I'll just say fare thee well
I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don't think twice, it's all right

Bob Dylan

The Earth At Night Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Quotes of the Day: Frost For A Hard Winter

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life:
it goes on.
Robert Frost

Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.
Robert Frost

A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.
Robert Frost