Friday, April 30, 2010
Last week was National Parks Week here in America and we took full advantage. I had been planning to do my own National Parks Week here at Pensive Sarcasm, but by the time we got home at one o'clock Monday morning, I was looking at about three and a half hours of sleep before getting back to work. I've been running ragged ever since.
Not blogging and not interwebbing have carried over. To be honest, I still don't feel that into it, but I felt I should at least offer an explanation. Especially to my, now over 100, followers. How someone can gain new followers by doing nothing is beyond me, but welcome to my new peeps.
So, my WIP had been cruising along. I'm still trying to get it under 60,000 words, but I hit a brick wall the other day. That, along with some major life developments I will announce at some point, have left me in a funk.
But have no fear, loyal readers. I fully expect to pull through and be back to my sassy self before long.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Jacob always wanted his own room. In his new house, he got his own floor. And so much more.
The third floor of the old Victorian house was only half finished. Drafty and cold, Jacob’s room had peeling wallpaper and cracked plaster walls. The attic was through a dark oak door, scuffed and ominous, and forever locked. The key, it was told, had long since disappeared.
Jacob didn’t care about the key. He only cared that he no longer shared a room with five-year-old twins. He didn’t care about the dormers overlooking the cemetery, half a block away. He didn’t worry about the leafless branches scraping against frosted over windows. He thought nothing of that old oak door, heavy with varnish and a wrought iron doorknob. That was, until the first night fell.
Gas lamps flickered along the street. Shadows danced on Jacob’s walls and he crawled into bed, pulling the covers up to his chin. An eerie mist hovered over the bed each time Jacob exhaled. He heard the tick of a grandfather clock coming from the first floor parlor.
The antique clock had always soothed him as he’d tried to ignore the twin’s nightly whimpers. He’d helped his father restore it and knew every gear; felt every pulley and chain as the seconds ticked away. Finally alone, Jacob heard the clock as if it were in the next room. But it was two floors below. He shouldn’t have heard it at all.
There was a whisper.
“You have until the clock runs down.”
Jacob stiffened where he lay. Even his eyes remained still. He held his breath, listening for more. With great caution, Jacob glanced at the old wooden door, looming in the dark. Cold air slid underneath, rising up to swirl the mist above his head. Jacob inched toward the edge of the bed, while tightening his grip on the covers. There was a vent in the floor just above his parent’s room.
Then, he heard a whimper. Of course. It was the twins’ first night without him. Easing out of bed, Jacob’s feet slid across the cold floor. The staircase creaked with each step. The doorway to the second floor whined when he opened it. He held his breath a moment to listen.
In silence, he noticed the quiet.
The twins were sound asleep. As were Jacob’s parents. He was the lone soul awake in the house. Turning to go back upstairs, he realized just how quiet the quiet was. He no longer heard the tick of the grandfather clock. It should have been louder, only one floor below.
Jacob eased down to the first floor parlor. The grandfather clock was in the corner. The pendulum, pulleys and weights were laid out on the floor where the movers had left them.
Outside, branches beat against the windows in the whipping wind. The street lamps flickered out and Jacob stood alone in the dark. But only for a second. He raced back upstairs, whirled around the corner and jumped the third floor steps two at a time, leaping into bed and the safety of his covers.
No part of Jacob was exposed. He hugged his pillow until his fingers numbed. A baby cried. There was a muffled scream. Scratches at the door.
Jacob was about to bolt for his parent’s room, when he froze once more.
“Time runs out.”
“The child—God no!.”
Jacob’s heart leapt. The cold held him down. He wanted to run; wanted to cry out, but couldn’t overcome the weight of fear.
Jacob heard a thud. The clink of metal echoed from the attic. Then, silence.
He lay there a while. His heart calmed. His breathing slowed. He eased the covers from his head. That’s when the attic doorknob started to turn.
A faint light dashed across the floor and settled on the open keyhole. Jacob was drawn to it. He slipped out of bed and, with ginger steps, found himself peering through the keyhole.
There was a woman, bathed in a pale yellow glow, with a baby emanating soft pink, pressed to her chest. A man dragged her across the attic by the hair.
“I will never abide this child.”
The old man shoved the woman. The baby fell to the floor, its wail echoed through the empty attic.
“Did you think you could hide? Then you will never leave this place.”
The man was a rage of fiery orange. The old man picked up the light that was the baby, and snuffed it out. The woman, sobbing, fell to the floor, an arm draped across her forehead in sorrow. Her light began to dim. She pulled on the locked door, but Jacob didn’t move.
Her eyes were blank. Behind her, the man glowed hot as the sun. His fingers reached around her throat. Pawing at the door, she peered through the keyhole and found Jacob’s eyes. She put a hand to her mouth in stunned recognition. Then, her light returned. A smile crept across her face. She reached up, and the light of her finger passed through the keyhole, into Jacob’s eyes.
She pulled the hands from her throat and stood to face the man, who shook his head in shock as she passed by him.
“No more,” she said, picking up the dead infant, who began to glow once more. “Never again. This is the last time. There is a new force here. One you cannot touch.”
With the child in her arms, the woman passed through the man. All three lights extinguished.
Outside, the wind calmed. The light of the street lamps returned. And the cold passed from Jacob’s room.
The next morning, Jacob tried the attic door. A skeleton in a pale yellow dress fell into his room when the door opened. Across the attic, wrapped in a soft pink blanket, lay the skeleton of an infant, its skull shattered against a broken clock. And, from the rafters, and wearing an orange flannel shirt, hung a skeleton with one bony hand tugging at the noose. On the floor beneath it, covered in dust, was the key to the attic door.
The twins were happy to have Jacob back the next night. And every night after that.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
What follows is a true story. Despite my best efforts, I could not prevent it.
After lunch, my friend Joe wanted to stop by ABC Agency's office in Miami. I'd given up trying to convince him it wasn't how a professional writer goes about seeking representation.
"None of that other shit works," Joe said. "Sometimes you gotta walk in and say, 'Hey, I'm here.' Who gives a fuck?"
Joe's always been a delicate flower.
He was dressed in a fine white linen suit when I dropped him off in front of the building.
"You're not coming in with me?" he asked.
"I want no part of this," I said. And I didn't want them knowing who I was.
"Suit yourself Buddy," said Joe. "You gonna find a place to park?"
"I'm gonna drive around the block one time," I said. "You should be back by then."
I drove around the block two times. Joe was waiting at the curb.
"I got off the elevator and there was no one there," Joe explained. "There was a phone, an empty desk. Nobody. I tried opening a couple doors but they were all locked. I really tried, Buddy."
"Oh well," I said. "I didn't think
"Then I heard a toilet flush, so I went into the restroom."
"You did what?"
"That door was locked too. I had to force my way in."
"To the men's room?"
"There was a guy standing there
"He was standing? Not sitting?" I asked.
"Yeah, but you know, he was...So I said, 'Are you with ABC Agency?' and the guy said 'yeah.' He's probably thinking, 'Who the fuck is this motherfucker?' but he said 'How'd you get in here?' I told him 'I just walked in,' and then I said 'I'm a writer and I'm looking for representation. I wrote a memoir about Vietnam and a novel about the hunt for terrorists." Joe started laughing pretty hard. "The motherfucker asked if I was special ops, so I said, 'Yeah, now who can I give this manuscript to?'"
I, of course, pictured this poor schlep with his pants around his ankles, cowering as the big burly wierdo accosted him.
"Well," I said. "Sorry you wasted your time."
"Yeah, fuck you Buddy," Joe said, tossing the guy's business card in my face. "I'm gonna email him tonight. He said he'd read it and forward it to the right people in New York."
Success? Stay tuned...
Monday, April 19, 2010
Can you say awkward? You would if you lived next door to my neighbors. I've resisted posting too much about real people in my life, for fear they're somehow going to stumble upon my blog. Or worse, I send them an email and forget to delete the link in my signature. But this I could not resist.
A few minutes ago my neighbor, Howard, came over to borrow a saw. It seems his wife is pregnant and he wants to get started on the baby's room. He's planning chair rails, window moldings, fresh paint, everything and a kite.
Of course, Howard can't just stop by, borrow something and leave. He has to tell us all about the problems in his life. Over the years I've learned how his parents favored his sister over him, even sending her to an expensive private school, while Howard schlepted through with the publics. I've learned all about his parents divorce, and how his father liked to gamble. I've heard complaints about all his friends, the residents in our community (Howard inserted himself onto the association board a few years ago), and, just this evening, that his pregnant wife lost her mucous plug.
I have no idea what a mucous plug is, but for a woman 8 1/2 months pregnant...oh didn't I mention that? Yeah. He's just now getting started on the baby's room. This after telling Mrs. Sarcasm he couldn't do it last week because he was having a vasectomy. Kinda personal, don't you think? And besides, she's overweight, 43 and a smoker. Oh, and their seven year old sleeps in their bed. That should be birth control enough, but she is, after all, pregnant right now. As she has been for nearly nine months. Apparently Howard's been too busy until tonight, when he walked in to my house and announced that the mucous plug was lost and the baby was due any day, so could he please borrow my saw to start on the room.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
For instance, I read the following on a package of crackers today:
Natural flavor and other natural flavorsSeemed tasty. And reminded me of the Arizona senator trying to make it a crime to be in the US and A illegally. And here I thought crime was already illegal.
But what do I know? I was shocked to learn the Cleveland Indians had initiated a Green Program by recycling trash collected at their games. Apparently they've reduced the amount sent to landfills from 1300 tons in 2007 to 700 tons in 2009. They've also reduced the number of fans producing trash by playing horrible baseball, but I doubt the two are related.
That's all for me. See you on the flip side.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
“Who is this Matt guy?” I heard him ask another captain. “I don’t get it. Every day I fly with a different reserve pilot. I guess no one ever wants to fly with me again.”
Again? As in, a second time? And thus was raised the big red flag.
Within a minute and a half in the same cockpit, I understood.
He was far too important. I was just the necessary body in the second seat. Necessary only because the law says so. Certainly not because of anything I might contribute. I was just there to raise the gear, speak when spoken to. And listen to ridiculous ramblings.
He was the kind of guy who doesn’t hear unless he’s looking at you, and knows ahead of time you’re going to be speaking. The kind of guy who doesn’t follow standard operating procedures. Forget the experts who write the manuals and program the simulators. He knows a better way.
And he’s successful. So successful. It’s tax day, after all, and he had to write the IRS a check for $35,000.
Although, he then explained how he files quarterly, making April 15 rather insignificant. But that’s what you have to do when you build hotels, refurbish boats and spend your days on the links as a professional golfer. He owns four houses, don’t ya know? And an 81 foot yacht.
Yet, he still works at the same crappy airline as me.
Something doesn’t add up. Oh, and he was involved in the Iran/Contra scandal. Worked for Oliver North, I suppose. So, who can you believe? Maybe it adds up after all.
Whatever. I nearly took him out with a little hand sanitizer. I guess he’s allergic. Next time I’ll use it before we shake hands.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
Leave it to my hillbilly neighbors to complain about free stuff. Not the free golf cart, mind you. I’m talking vacation. They’ve only been on a few this year, so please understand their crankiness.
It seems that when Howard’s company offered the pair a free Caribbean cruise, they were under the impression it would include having their fingernails forcibly removed. And the kids weren’t invited. And it wasn’t a Disney Cruise.
Alas, they still went, and Moira’s New York relatives came down to watch the kids. But with security chief Howard off the reservation, you know things had to go wrong. Lo, somebody parked on his grass. A major violation, which, had he been there, would surely have resulted in jail time for the offending party. Who just happened to be one of his relatives.
So after hearing how horrible his free cruise was; how awful the food was; how poor the service was, I reminded him that he could have been visiting with his relatives, with whom he spent zero minutes. That got an eyeroll. Thankfully, I saved the big guns for last.
He was livid that the maintenance truck had a flat tire and vowed to buy an air compressor to refill it. I then suggested he buy spike strips for his front lawn and told him about the grass parking. Suspicion crept onto his face. After a few leading questions it was confirmed that, in fact, it was Moira’s relatives who had slaughtered those innocent blades of grass.
Heads will roll. Noggins will be knocked, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a concrete barrier go up around his house.
You don’t know how hard it was waiting for Howard to get home from his cruise. I freely admit to enjoying making his blood boil. It offers such fodder. And let’s face it, I’m ever so tired of the junkyard growing next door.
Now, I would never willingly post a picture of someone’s yard without their knowledge. Especially when it would be so exposed to sarcastic ridicule. Instead, I offer two pictures of my fence. Enjoy.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I also have had nothing to blog about, no opportunity to read blogs in the last few days and no real desire either. In fact, I feel no desire to blog right now, but I feel I owe it to the few of you still sticking around.
So here are a few one liners from the poster boy for what is wrong with raising the mandatory pilot retirement age to 65. My comments are in italics.
- There were lots of blonds on our last flight. All layable.
Just not by him.
- I remember everyone I haven't flown with.
Much like I remember everyone I've never met.
- My first wife divorced me so my second wife could get a visa.
- Jackass: I haven't seen you in a long time.
Me: I know. It's been great.
He wasn't paying much attention to his duties, so I said:
Why don't I just do everything?
Jackass: I think that's a good idea.
Me: Me too.
- I think my dad was in the CIA. He used to procure exotic animals for the Miami Zoo.
- Train your wife. Poison your kids.
- My wife had a coupon. I bought gun cleaner.
- You worry about some of these pilots.
Yes I do.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Now onto less important things. I've been cruising along with re-writes. I've stumbled upon an excellent solution that I think will let me keep the plotline I through out two days ago, when I cut exactly 9800 words. I whittled that 9800 down to 6500 and with other cuts I may be able to squeeze them back in.
I offered to work on my days off because it gave me all day at home today to write, and all day tomorrow in Atlanta, which I should use to write, and plan to use to write. The problem is, a big city like Atlanta offers lots to do. And it should be good weather. I've even got some blog friends who live there that I'd love to meet in person should they offer to buy me lunch.
Alas, I've been on such a roll the last few days I must keep writing. Today is also April first. It's the first day of Tina Lynn's 500 words a day challenge. And that's no joke. (Don't worry Tina Lynn. I may have cut a lot, but I wrote a bunch too. Easily 500 words.)
So, you see my dilemma. Work (writing) or play (goofing off in Atlanta)? Honestly, I've pretty much done everything, pretty much everywhere. There is one other thing in favor of writing. I have to fly with this jackass again. Best to stay in the room to avoid him.