Tag Archives: stories

The Reoccuring People – part III

Part III.1 (the second part of this will be added during the week)

Sometimes I feel like I’m desperately trying to hold on to the information I have. If I’m not constantly exposing myself to it repetitiously, I will lose ahold of everything that I know. If I don’t constantly think about the dead, they will be lost. What is anything if we don’t remember it?

This is where I spend most of my days.

Because of all my social anxiety I was forced to build myself a library of my own, and this is where I keep my collection of books. Why is it that we can watch the same movie, read the same book, again and again, and that somehow satisfies something in our brains. The repetition. So, I’m sitting in here, smoking a cigarette, in this room full of books, because I tried to quit once, three years earlier, but that was over once the stress came, a year ago, after my twenty-ninth birthday. Lately I’ve been constantly judging myself. It’s a whisper in the back of my brain, rippling through the forefront.

There’s a knock at my door, and I know it’s Bizz, because lately she’s the only person I still talk to. Mostly, because she’s aware of all my social phobias. It helps. Sometimes the time travelers stop by with their weird cryptic messages, but it’s difficult to get excited to see people that always bring troubles with them.

When Bizz comes in she’s carrying in some of Deschutes’ Twilight Summer Ale, and I’m thankful because I was getting thirsty waiting for her to get here.

“The Mountain Goats are playing here next week,” she tells me, as she opens two beers and I meet her in the kitchen. “You know how I feel about being around groups of people,” I reply, because she does this all the time, tries to lure me into social awkwardness with my favorite musicians as bait. Last month it was Jason Webley. The most difficult one was Neutral Milk Hotel, because I really really wanted to go to that show. But, the panic had me, and once it strikes there’s no turning it around. After these shows pass, I look them up on YouTube, my internal dialogue finding reasons to be grateful that I didn’t go, such as considering how packed a show is and being relived that I didn’t have to deal with strangers brushing up against me.

Have I mentioned I used to be an atheist? Before everything, that is. Before the time travelers, and the reoccurring people. Before them, I didn’t believe in a goddamn thing. It’s funny how life reveals it’s truths to you. The way the shadows are revealing themselves behind Bizz, sprouting from her one true shadow and darkening the room. The dizziness comes with them, like the alcohol spins mixed with too much Vicodin. And I’m nauseous in the gloom, as I fold in on myself.

I have these “black outs” often. At least I have lately. My head swimming with more information than it is capable of processing.

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The Reoccurring People – part II

Part II

I start getting weird when I spend too much time alone. It’s always been this way. Suddenly I’m posting missed connections on Craigslist for Seattle, Portland, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Denver, and Missoula. I’ve made a few friends this way. If you live in a smaller city like I do, Missoula, for instance, half of the missed connections posted will be some guy writing about a Walmart cashier that you will now easily be able to pick out the next time you’re there. You don’t really want to shop at Walmart, it’s just that their organic sugar is so fucking cheap compared to everywhere else. Those cashier-stalking posts are not mine.

Sometimes I post in casual encounters instead, these tend to be more adventurous, if adventurous is a euphemism for really taboo fantasy that is only popular with certain types of people. You won’t see men the same after you read the replies (with pictures) you will receive from the most random variety of men ever to agree on something. They all want that perversion that’s a little too far.

Another great thing about living in a smaller town, like Missoula, is that you’ll start to recognize these same people from their pictures they sent you.
You’re at Bagels on Broadway, and look over to the table next to you, and there’s a twenty-something-year-old sitting there, who you know has pierced nipples and uncut foreskin. His dick is about the size of a cucumber, hard, and he has the nastiest skat fetish you’ve ever seen pictures of. When you leave, you’ll pass an older man, in a cowboy hat and mustache, whose cock looks like a doorknob. He wants you to call him daddy while he bends you bare-assed over his knee to spank you. You’ve seen all the photographic evidence to prove that some men enjoy meat, warmed melons, dress-up, or their desire to watch you suck off a buffalo. Every taboo is accompanied by a picture.

It feels something godlike, to know these secret desires. I keep a folder in my gmail for each city. I’ve started collecting photos of these people from when I run into them in real life situations. When I complete a set of photographs, I like to print them and put them in this scrapbook I’ve been keeping since I started these postings. I carry it in my bag so I can reference back if I’m having trouble making a match.

I’m cutting and pasting when Bizz walks in the front door. She’s breathing heavy, like she was just running. She locks the door, turns her face towards me as she steps away from it. “Where the fuck were you?”

“Um, in my goddamn house? Where the fuck was I supposed to be?”

“I’ve been trying to call you all morning. Do you still have that ouija board?”

“My phone is off, assface.” I blew on the page I just glued, as if that would help it dry any faster. Then, got up, and headed to the hall closet. My dad gave me this etched glass ouija board last year on my birthday. My 27th. I keep it in the box with my cardboard Parker Brothers one, to protect it. The oracle is also glass, with blue felt padded feet, in order to slide across the board.

Bizz offers me a cigarette, somehow forgetting that I quit a year ago. I watch as she opens my fridge, scanning the emptiness, pulls out a beer, my last, as she says I need to buy more beer. We walk to the Good Foods store, we grab a four-pack of Cold Smoke, and a six pack of Summer Honey. She buys a pack of cigarettes with the beer, assuring me that I’ll be bumming them off of her by the end of the night. As we were checking out we heard a loud noise coming from outside the store–something like lightening and whistling air.

In the parking lot, it became clear what all the commotion was about. There was a junky red van taking up two parking spots. Well, the van looked like it had been red once, but now it was only red in places, rusty in others, silver, brown. When the passengers had stopped the vehicle it made a sort of clunking sound. As they exited, smoke billowed out of each door. This is how I first met the time travelers. Although, I’m still unsure if they actually time travel or not.

One was short, female, young– about eighteen years old. Her hair composed of bright green dreadlocks. The other, a gangly man of forty, with John Lennon glasses and facial hair. They were looking right at us, as they walked towards us. “We have a message for you,” said the young female, close enough now I could see her freckled face and blue eyes. By this time I was wearing my confused face. Bizz told her we’ve already heard the good news.

“This isn’t some Jesus bullshit,” said the girl, “we were sent here to warn you.”

I laugh, because this bitch is obviously off her fucking rocker crazy. She’s pretty much unfazed by my amusement. I ask her who they are, and this is when she tells me they’re the time travelers. At that point, I’m grinding my teeth together to keep my face deadpan. Apparently her name is Enid, and his is Garth. They tell me they’re from the future, but the girl does most of the talking. Dave mostly whispers to her and fidgets. I fish into my bag and pull out a doob-tube that I had thrown in there that morning. I pull out the joint and light it. Probably my current lack of THC is fucking with me in this situation.

By the time the joint is gone, we’re all walking towards the van. Only now I also have an open beer in my hand, and Enid is telling me she has a lot to tell me.

‘On Writing’ with Stephen King

Having read quite a few books on the craft of writing, I could probably give you a reasonable idea of what is good or bad, or what is just a waste of time. So, just recently it had come to my attention that I have never read Stephen King’s book on the craft On Writing. Basically I read this literary agent’s blog, and recently he asked his readers the question of what they thought was an important book for writers to have read. And surprisingly a lot of his readers mentioned this Stephen King book. To be honest it’s been a long time since I’ve picked up anything written by Stephen King. A very long time. But, to be more honest one of my favorite stories of all time was written by Stephen King, and was converted into one of my favorite movies of all time. I’m talking about The Body which once adapted into film became Stand by Me. I carried my copy of Different Seasons (which is the book that contained this story) around pretty much everywhere I went as a kid, reading it again and again, until the book finally began to fall apart from wear. And yes, Stand by Me is most certainly a part of my dvd collection. And yes, I still put it in once in a while to bring me back to all the nostalgia of why I never fell out of love with reading or writing.

Yes, I decided I wanted to be a writer in the fourth grade, and that’s when I started writing my odd little stories. My parents were divorced by then, and around the sixth grade it was pretty easy for me to find that the one consistent thing amongst both their book collections was Stephen King. I picked up every book of his I found around their houses and consumed them all. Then later drug my mom to video stores until I had watched every movie that had ever been adapted from his stories. I still watch all the adaptations. I love film. So, of course I do. But, like I mentioned I’ve read a hell of a lot of books on craft. And so far my favorite has been John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction. But, I had not yet read Mr. King’s writing book, so how could I judge what wisdom may lurk within its pages. Also, I’ve sort of had him on my mind recently having finally gotten to see the Kingdom Hospital series he’d done, and also having picked up a book by his son, Joe Hill. I think we all need to remember again and again what we find key to good writing. So I gave his book a go.

On Writing is weaved with a lot of personal story about his childhood, a scene when his mom passed away (which made me cry either because it reminded me of losing my dad or because I’m hormonal—maybe both), and other incidents that string together in ways that show us how some of his story ideas were formulated. It’s actually a very pleasant read. And it reminded me how much of a good storyteller he is. Maybe I need a new copy of Different Seasons? Hmm. There’s also all the practical advice you would hope for. Tips like: avoid the passive tense, the adverb is not your friend, show don’t tell, and ‘When you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is) until your fingers bleed[…]’. He’s right, you know. About all of that. And he also tells us that we can learn a lot from reading bad books. How sometimes they keep us going, reminding us that we can do better, and what not to do.

There are also a lot of emotions I recognize in this book. He talks about attending creative writing classes and struggling with what to bring, wanting to bring in something big and important like his classmates were, while having the stories he enjoyed writing tucked away. As if he was almost embarrassed by this indulgence. I get it. I’ve felt that way too. And I think it took me a good many years to realize that I should write what I enjoy writing, what I would want to read. And aside from all that I think his most important advice, the advice we all hear again and again, is to read a lot and write a lot. Reading and writing are the most important tools to the craft of writing.