Friday, April 28, 2017

Donald Trump Did Not Win the Election. So Stop Saying He Did. Right Now.


A LITTLE scenario for you.

You're a white suburban soccer mom. You know, the kind that voted for Trump by a solid majority. You've got your cute emasculated little husband and a cute little home in the 'burbs and a couple cute children whose souls you're working daily on crushing utterly. In other words, a typical white suburban woman.

Let's say one of your kiddies plays for the school's soccer team. It's a strong team this year. It's favored to win the championship. Everybody thinks so.

The championship game in fact comes down to your kid's team and one that is as nasty as can be. Sadly, that team wins--just barely.

But then you find out that that team cheated. Several of its kids did not belong in the league. Too, there were multiple allegations of cheating during the game. It was clear that the refs were biased. And the players--dirty tricks galore, all of which in any other match would've been punished severely. For some reason, however, they weren't during this match.

As time goes by, it becomes clearer and clearer that that team knowingly broke the rules, and had planned to do so for a long time.

So here's my question, white suburban soccer mom who voted for Trump: Do you still say that the other team won?

No. You don't.

What typically happens in those situations is the league takes the championship trophy away from the cheating team, fires the coaches, kicks the offending players out of the league, and gives the championship to the "losing" team. Usually there are stiff sanctions levied against the offending team: they are banned from playing for several years, and their ill-gotten wins erased from the previous season, possibly more.

Donald J. Trump did not win the general election. He cheated. So did his surrogates. And now they are covering up their crimes just as quickly as they can.

So stop saying he won. Every time you say he won, you normalize his cheating. You make it okay.

He did not win. Hillary Rodham Clinton won. Period. End of sentence.

You can go back to crushing your children's souls now.

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From the Fractal Archive: "Paint the Shadows"


Paint the Shadows
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

I'm Writing a Fan-Fic About Zelena from Once Upon a Time!


SHE GOT serious short-shrift on the series, which, sadly, looks like it's ending after six years.

It's my biggest complaint about Once Upon a Time: its huge, gaping, tire-popping plot holes. Including, perhaps especially, hers. Rebecca Mader's talents were seriously underutilized (as they were on Lost), and both Kye and I complain about it every time she graces the screen.

There are many other plot holes dotting the roads of many other characters: Belle, Mulan, Grumpy, Dr. Hopper, Henry ... All of them, and probably many more, deserved to have their stories told, or, in some cases, modified. Belle, for example. She and Rumple should not be together. Maybe as friends, perhaps, but not married. And Henry. He is gifted with the most powerful and potent magical power as the Author, but is shunted to the background and silly, spottily told teenaged dramas! Ridiculous!

Understand that I lob these criticisms at a show I love and will miss dearly once it goes off the air. I'm sure Kye and I will continue binge-watching it forever. But I can't let these plot holes just continue to lie there! I fully intend to fill them with the asphalt of my imagination!

The short story I've begun concerns the mysterious period of time after Zelena meets the three other witches--the ostensibly "good" ones--in Oz, and who convince her to join them. Her green skin, indicative of envy, goes away, and for an indeterminate time she becomes a "good" witch like her somewhat pious and pretentious sisters. But then Dorothy arrives, and Zelena goes green and rejects them. She becomes "wicked" once again. My short story is about that period in the middle. It endeavors to answer: Who is Zelena really? Is envy always bad? Can it be used for good? What did Zelena do besides sit at a round table with her sisters and sweetly finger the pendant they gave her?

I just started the story. I'll let you know when it's completed. In the meantime, there is plenty of other fan fiction that I've authored. Take a look!

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From the Fractal Archive: "Out the Royal Portal"


Out the Royal Portal

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Free Excerpt from Melody and the Pier to Forever: Book One


[Note: Book One of Melody and the Pier to Forever is FREE for a short time in order to celebrate the impending release of the fifth novel in the series, The Angel's Guardian! Download Book One today and catch up!]

~~*~~

The Emperor of Aquanus surveyed his world. He had a little time yet: the Mephastophians in the Audience Chamber would be completing their cleaning chores in just a little while. A fresh batch of souls would be packed in for him soon after, and he’d descend again and feast.

Necrolius Anaxagorius sighed, feeling a deep, cold satisfaction suffuse him. The heavy clouds overhead seemed to rush on, as if afraid to disturb his peace. Their shadows shifted the light that played over his keep in a manner that accented its terrible beauty to the greatest effect; he hoped the long lines marching into the Audience Chamber saw it too, and that it enhanced their mortal terror. For terror spiced their souls just so, like pepper sprinkled over a favorite dish, and it increased his appetite as well. And he enjoyed being hungry. He had noticed long ago that the hungrier he was, the more efficient his empire ran, the more terrified of him his subjects were, the more compliant they were. And so he’d ordered his mighty dreadnoughts to return to port only once a month, in order that he’d be starving by the time they docked, in order that his patience and anger traversed a razor-thin edge for weeks prior. For fear was the greatest motivator, and no one inspired more fear than he, their exalted emperor.

~~*~~

From the Fractal Archive: "Operatic"


Operatic

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Free Essay: "Of Trailer Parks and Country Clubs"


[Note: This essay will appear in To Make an Assay: Volume Two. Volume One can be downloaded for free here.]

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Of Trailer Parks and Country Clubs
~~*~~

WE LIVE in a trailer park. It’s called an “RV resort” on the cracked and fading billboards along North Bank Rogue River Road leading to it, but it’s a trailer park. “RV resorts” aren’t shabby, run-down acreages peopled with meth-heads, serial killers, and hillbillies whose family tree are stumps. Trailer parks are.

   This particular “resort” is peopled with aged folks. At a guess, I’d say the median age is close to seventy. At fifty-five, I’m one of the “resort’s” youngest residents.

   We have lived in “resorts” with meth-heads and hillbillies, and probably a serial killer, or at the very least someone who was seriously thinking of becoming one, or who knew someone who had actually made that career choice. Our last “resort” was like that.

   You’d think that the hardest part of living full-time in a thirty-four-foot motorhome would be the lack of space. It isn’t. Human beings are naturally frugal and simple creatures. You’re probably laughing at that, and I can understand why. A cursory glance at any neighborhood, at any strip mall, at any city, at the commercial landfill that is the Internet would seem to contradict that, and convincingly.

   Still, it’s true. The fact that we’ve allowed ourselves to be brainwashed doesn’t change our essential natures, ones that lived in peace for tens of thousands of years with the bare minimum, and did so happily. To be happy and contented, we do not require much at all. It’s wisdom to recognize that, embrace it, and live it. We try do.

   No, the lack of space inside our home isn’t the problem. It’s our neighbors outside of it, and the lack of space separating us from them.

   Trailer parks (I’m just calling them what they actually are now) crowd folks right up against each other in order to maximize profits. The park we’re in currently is fairly decent in that regard; still, our neighbors are no more than twenty feet from us, and on both sides. Such tight quarters can and does cause problems.

   Kye and I are very private. We try to be as unobtrusive and invisible as possible. Generally, we get away with it.

   You wouldn’t believe how upsetting that is to a lot of people. On multiple occasions I have heard our neighbors deride us for “being so quiet” or “mysterious” or “uncommunicative.”

   We do our best to leave others alone. Despite what you might think, that’s the last thing folks want. Despite what others may say, the truth is, they want to be messed with, interfered with, interrupted. It’s one lesson I won’t soon forget.

   Being truly different upsets the herd. Being a true nonconformist (as opposed to what marketing, teachers, gurus, and other brainwashers tell you is nonconformity) really gets folks’ dander up. It really does.






We live in an RV for numerous reasons. When we bought the TARDIS, the original plan was to use it to tool up and down the west coast of the United States and visit Yellowstone National Park, Kye’s spiritual home. The problem is, our Doctor Who-named RV is old—as in over thirty years old. Its engine is in pretty good shape, surprisingly, but its body is a mishmash of dry rot and old fiberglass that likes to crack, forcing me each summer to inspect it carefully, then fix the damage the previous winter wrought. It’s a painful, painstaking, tedious job that usually takes two or three days at four or five hours a pop to complete. So if we did take the TARDIS to Yellowstone, I’d have to do all that work, then do it again when we returned to Oregon.

   Uh, no.

   The space we rent to park our mobile home costs about as much as I paid to rent a one-bedroom apartment in 1981. We are parked next to a cherry tree that is, as I write this, blooming. It’s gorgeous. Ahead of the rig maybe a hundred feet is a line of cottonwood trees. Beyond that is the Rogue River.

   Despite the close proximity of our neighbors, this place is about as close to Heaven as we can get without actually being there. It isn’t the city. It isn’t expensive. It’s deeply quiet—so much so that I’ve heard vacationing city folk complain about it. It’s full of color and fresh air. When I go on my walks, I am accosted by traffic maybe once in three trips. I can literally amble up the middle of the road to my turn-around point and back without having to move once to the shoulder. I’m certain you can’t say the same thing.






Back to people. I guess the question I’m ultimately getting at is this: Is “trailer trash” confined to “RV resorts,” or is the term dishonest and inaccurate?

   It’s really easy to look at RVs and trailers and declare the acreage full of “trailer trash,” but is it more so than, say, a brand-new suburban development in Parker, Colorado? I have my doubts.

   I was raised in Country Club Estates northeast of Fort Collins, Colorado. It was where Fort Collins’ wealthiest residents lived. The homes were large or huge, the kids all pressed and clean, the yards spotless and trimmed and replete with fountains and other ridiculous signs of ostentation.

   And yet the daughter of the mathematics professor who lived next door went to jail for being an accessory to murder and robbery. Just down the street a high-school peer of mine used to hold regular pot parties that devolved into little more than teenaged orgies while her parents traveled, which was often. Not far from her was another family whose sons regularly engaged in bullying and drug-dealing and stealing cars. Across the street from him lived a urologist who took far too great an interest in his female patients, and a psychotherapist who, a few years later, got busted for the same shenanigans. Up the hill, closer to our house, lived an angry old Republican who regularly threw rocks at passing cars because they were traveling too fast, or because a woman was driving, and he objected to females driving. Two doors closer was a banker who was busted for defrauding his employer to the tune of over a million dollars. If you got back on Country Club Road and took the next right—the very last turn you could make before running into the Country Club proper and its golf course—you’d run into a row of homes so frequented by the sheriff for everything from domestic violence to drug dealing to prostitution that it was a surprise whenever you didn’t see him there taking a report or stuffing a handcuffed someone into the back of his cruiser.

   Every home at the time was considered very large and luxurious. Everyone was white. Everyone was a Christian. The parents all voted Republican.

   Living in a trailer park, as I have now for over five years, has been much the same as living in Country Club Estates was when I was a child. It was a startling realization that still makes me laugh to this day.






In the end, of course, it comes down to man’s continuing indecency towards his fellow man. It comes down to woman’s continuing indecency toward her fellow woman. And it comes down to what we actually teach our children, as opposed to what we claim to teach them. That’s the biggie right there. For what those children actually learn from the actual lessons we adults teach them starts a new cycle of indecency, no matter what income bracket they come from.

   Some of the most decent people I’ve ever known were dirt poor. They weren’t crooks; they weren’t welfare cheats; they weren’t drug addicts. But we are inclined to judge them simply because they aren’t in a higher income bracket. It’s insanity.

   The United States is particularly vicious in that regard, for absolutely everything a person does is judged against their income level. It’s obscene. There is even something profane called the Prosperity Gospel, in which its proponents grotesquely claim that wealth is a sign that God approves of one’s life choices—including, perhaps especially, the indecency one shows for those less fortunate. That’s what we’ve become in this nation. And it is leading us straight to catastrophe.

   Since I started this essay well over a month ago, two of the best neighbors I’ve ever known suddenly upped and moved away. His name is Luc; hers Venus. His mother, in Arizona, is, apparently, very ill with cancer and needs someone to look after her. Venus has never known a “regular” home, having been raised as a child in a trailer and living the entirety (thus far) of her adult life in one. She and her husband are just past sixty.

   I have mourned their going for days now.

   Do trailer parks have a higher incidence of drug abuse, incest, high-school dropout rates, parolees, louts, wife-beaters, prostitution, violent crime, gangs, and general lawlessness? When I first moved into a park, I was very much inclined to say yes. But as I mentioned above, trailers are shoved very close to each other to maximize profits for the parks’ owners. It concentrates the crazy. But in terms of numbers, does it multiply the crazy too?

   I have my doubts. All those homes in Country Club Estates were spaciously placed apart from each other. But the crazy was still there. If all those folks were placed in trailers, wouldn’t it look just as bad as the craziest parks we’ve lived in thus far, if not worse?

   Hmm.

~~*~~

New Fractal Art: "Thinly, But Definitely"


Thinly, But Definitely

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Free Chapter from Unsmited: A Fan Fiction Tribute to the Lord of the Rings



[Note: This is the first chapter in the tribute. You can read the rest here. I started a new chapter today, so keep your eyes peeled! It should only be a month or so before it's uploaded!]

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The Survivor
~~*~~
  
And from the Plateau of Gorgoroth he did stumble, bloodied and broken, through the lightless valley of Minas Morgul. Smoke riseth behind him, as well as the dying cries of tens of thousands of his kind, who thus were being swallowed back into the earth, which claimed them with great vengeance and anger.

   Blind with the urge to survive, he did not see that he had passed from the valley. His vision was trained on his feet and the ground thereof, and he did not notice the change from barren, sharp rock to tall swaying grass and soft yellow sunshine. Somewhere in a large green field the world swimmeth in his sight, and he fell limply in it, unconscious. Eth.

~~*~~

HE CAME to squinting. The sun was directly overhead. He hated the sun. He opened his eyes slowly, his hands over his face, and said, “Grrrachth!” which meant nothing. He had grass in his mouth.

   He rolled over with a sustained grunt and spat it out. It was attached to a fair-sized glob of dirt.

   “Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrachth!”

   Noises: the sound of metal clanking on metal, horses snorting, the footsteps of many nearby.

   Men!

   He stopped spitting and hacking and tried to come up to his hands and knees to take a look around, but stopped when his back flashed agony along with his left knee and ankle.

   He still had dirt and grass in his mouth. And some up his nose, too.

   He licked his tongue up and down his sleeve, and tried picking the dirt out of his nose, which only pushed it farther up. He went to curse under his breath in his native Black Speech, but stopped, confused. The words … he knew them, but something—not the grass—kept them from his tongue.

   He made another push and got to his hands and knees. With pain spiking through his body, he very cautiously grunted and groaned his way towards the sound.

   He had passed out on a small knoll. At its summit, and back on his stomach, he parted the grass to the degree he thought wise, and looked.

   It was the army of Gondor!

   They marched in a single wide column left to right for as far as he could see in both directions, maybe a hundred yards away. The horses snorted, and the men’s armor clinked, as did their weapons, but no one spoke. Their faces spoke of exhaustion and relief bought and paid for in blood. Blood his kind was responsible for spilling.

   If they spied him, they’d kill him.

   He dropped back to his stomach and breathed as shallowly as he could. It was all he could do to remain still: fear screamed at him to crawl away, and when it was safe, run, run, RUN!

   But he knew he couldn’t. He probably couldn’t even walk. His back, knee, and ankle … felt broken. He wasn’t sure. Worse, he wasn’t sure how he’d been injured. It had all been a blur.

   He’d lain next to an ant hill. Ants crawled on him and made him itch. But he dared not move, even when some started biting.

   Hours passed.

   Did he hate them—men? Sure. But enough to kill them?

   Despite being born and bred to kill them and swarm madly over the lands of Middle Earth, he hadn’t actually killed one. He’d stayed alive by resourcefulness and cunning, and by pretending to be a hardened killer. But then, when the slaughtering got underway, he would be conveniently somewhere else. No one of his kind had ever noticed him; they were too busy spitting things like, “He looks frrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrresh! Why don’ts we eat him?”

   If these men discovered him here, would he make a final stand and try to kill as many of them as he could before the inevitable happened? Did he have it in him? Or would he merely lie here prone and let them skewer him?

   Prone, oddly and macabrely, sounded better.

   They didn’t even look all that appealing, despite the yawning, biting emptiness in his stomach. He’d eaten man-flesh in the past. It wasn’t all that. He’d passed more often than not when a fallen soldier was feasted on. At least at the beginning. As the war dragged on and resources dried up, hunger pushed him to join in. But he took no real pleasure in it. Not like his comrades, who couldn’t seem to get enough of man-thighs and man-breasts and man-buttocks.

   He glanced over his shoulder, grateful. That hateful sun was finally setting. Not a single cloud had passed overhead this entire miserable day.

   And then he started.

   The sun was setting!

   Men didn’t march in the night—not unless they absolutely have to. He had learned that in basic training, which was little more than being whipped to hurry here and there, and sergeants screaming, “DON’T YOU KNOW THIS IS WAAAAAAAAAAAR?”

   Men didn’t march in the night! And there were still many hundreds of them filing past! They’d soon set up camp! If he didn’t get off this knoll right now, it was a sure thing he’d be discovered!

   Grunting and swallowing back squeals, he eased himself very slowly off the knoll. This made the ants on him even unhappier, and they bit him without mercy, making him slap at himself to get them off.

   The sun was almost down when he got to a cluster of half-dead scrub hanging over a shallow gorge with a quietly gurgling creek at its bottom. He was filthy, and his clothing was damp, and bugs of various kinds crawled over him, some of which he ate. He didn’t stop at the scrub, but tried to get to the water, which was maybe ten or twelve feet down. He lost his footing and dropped hard on his butt, which hurt, but not that badly, for he had landed in tall grass. He cursed in the language of men (which was strangely easy to do), then twisted about and dipped his face full in the stream and drank his fill. He came up and wiped his chin and looked up at the pink light draining into a steely deep blue. He heard talking and laughing, and grunted up against the gorge, which was less rock than loose earth held precariously in place by wiry foliage and fungus.

   After a time, and with great effort, he pulled himself to the lip and looked.

   Sure enough, the army of Gondor was setting up camp. At the top of the knoll, where he had been, were sentries and several tents lighted from within. Someone was strumming an instrument, and fires blazed with groups of soldiers sitting around them. He could smell cooking, and his mouth watered.

   He had been very lucky—twice. He had avoided being slaughtered, and then swallowed by the vengeful earth itself (!), and now, as he clung to the side for his life, a third stroke of luck: the escarpment to his immediate right shielded him from view from the four or five soldiers who’d discovered the creek and were filling flasks and wiping dirt and blood off their faces.

   He held on, the strength in his forearms failing by the second. The earth beneath his fingertips started giving way, and he clutched wildly for the grass an inch or two farther on, his cheek cemented against a damp ball of fungus, his eyes wide with terror. He breathed heavily. Against every effort not to, he squealed.

   The men suddenly stopped talking and washing. He heard weapons sing as they were pulled from scabbards. One of them said: “Did you hear that? It sounded like an Orc! C’mon!”

   This was the end for him. He knew it. He knew he didn’t have the fight in him to face them bravely. He’d die squealing and skewered.

   They were twenty feet away, then ten, then …

   A horn sounded.

   “That’ll be the lieutenant,” said one. “C’mon.”

   “What about the Orc?”

   “Ah, it ain’t an Orc. Probably just a wild boar. We’ll come back in the morning and get ‘im!”

   “Let’s get up the hill, boys. The lieutenant will have our asses.”

   “I don’t see why. He’s got enough ass hanging off him for an entire platoon!”

   They laughed, then turned around and left.

   When he was sure they were away, he released his grip and fell back to his butt, where he lay heaving and utterly exhausted.






He shook weakly. Stars twinkled cold and distant overhead. The night was total. Aside from the fires of the men’s camp, nothing could be seen. The occasional waft of food tempted his nose and made him shake more. He was starving.

   He turned over and crawled back to the stream and drank. He wasn’t thirsty, but the water sated the gnawing in his stomach, if only for a little while. He got to his knees, biting back squeals, then to his feet. He couldn’t straighten up, and his left leg felt like it had been crushed. He had to put all his weight on his right, and that made him totter and fall to his side.

   He wasn’t going anywhere. Possibly forever.

   What was scariest was that he increasingly didn’t care if it was forever.

   He lay there and stared up at the unreachable stars, and knew that he’d still be here in the morning, and the men would likely discover him, and that would be that.

   He had to pee. It took some doing to get on his side. Finished, he didn’t bother closing his breeches.

   He knew he could sleep, and eventually he did. It was sleep that came with utter fatigue, not to mention mounting apathy for his dire state. The entirety of his kind was gone, swallowed by a world contemptuous of its existence. It was obvious he wasn’t meant to survive, to live. The world had spoken—and it was men it favored.

   He gave a final hiss between his teeth, and growled in their language: “If ya don’t wants me, then come and gets me.”

   He hoped the soldiers heard. He didn’t care.

   With that he fell asleep.





He woke with the hateful sun in his eyes and a young human female staring down at him.

~~*~~

From the Fractal Archive: "On the Other Side of the War"


On the Other Side of the War

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Free Illustration: "Daen-Cer-Tain"


Daen-Cer-Tain

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THE AECXIS for this highest of martial arts is carved in the great double doors leading into the training facilities deep inside the Kathlin Rory Carrick Castle.

Like all aecxes, the Daen-Cer-Tain evolves, changes, moves. This is just one representation of it. If you successfully complete the training, known as the Daen-Cer-Dain (with a d), you become a member of the super-elite XVI Angeli Magna Coronados, otherwise known as the Kumiyaay, and may have this aecxis tattooed upon your person if you so wish, and will receive two swords with it inscribed in the blades.

Above the great doors themselves is another inscription, this one written in the warrior dialect of Pyrrho:

Eld’ana è Tale Ror Honőry Vilylvye

which translates to:

There are no guards posted here


The song on Melody’s Musicscape that makes me think of the Kumiyaay most is “First Class” by Henry Jackman. Have a listen. It’ll make you feel like going out and taking on the world, which, in every sense, is what the Kumiyaay are tasked to do.

From the Fractal Archive: "On a Quiet, Cool January Day in 1983"



On a Quiet, Cool January Day in 1983

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Free Chapter from The Cheapery St. Heroes!


[Note: The Cheapery St. Heroes will be released late May or very early June! This chapter, the second, was written by my partner, KJH Cardinalis. It's one of my favorites.]

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The Librarian
~~*~~

COUGHING ON the burning air, Annabel stumbled backwards, her ankle twisting. The ground was breaking up, the lava flow widening, bright orange blood welling out of the lesion in the earth. The undergrowth beside her combusted, blooms of hungry fire consuming crackling leaves.

   There was nowhere to run. Behind her, a steep cliff rose up behind the impenetrable tangle of jungle. There was no way she was going to be able to scramble up that vertical face, let alone get to it. The trees would soon be torches, like the bracken flaring up around her. 

   This was it. Already the heat was burning her legs. She was going to die here, thousands of miles from home, in unspeakable agony.

   “Annabel!”

   Sebastian! His voice surged up out of the heat and light like wings of hope. 

   No, Sebastian, no! Go back … it’s too dangerous!

   There he was, across the widening gap. Sebastian, the love of her life, who would never know it, because she’d never found the courage to tell him how she felt.

   Now it was too late. She was going to die alone, alone! 

   I’m not going to let him die with me.

   “Sebastian, run! You can’t save me! It’s too late!”

   “No, I can make it!”

   He gripped the vine they’d used earlier to jump across the stream—before the volcano erupted.

   “You can’t! We’ll never make it back across!”

   He didn’t listen. Her heart in her throat, she watched as he made the leap, swinging through the roiling air—

   —And then he was there, sweeping her up in his strong, sure, bunched arms. Suddenly it seemed like the whole world was contained right there between them—no lava flow, no raging fire, no jungle swamped with dangers, no sinister German agents sent to retrieve the lost treasure of the Incas—

   Hanging to him for all she was worth, they leapt as the rock crumbled beneath their feet into the hungry lava. 

   Touching down on the other side, her feet on firm ground again, she went to pull away.  She would swallow up her feelings again, because things were just too complicated—

   But Sebastian wasn’t letting go.

   “How did you know you could save me?” she asked breathlessly.

   His answer made her heart light up brighter than the sinister glow of the lava.

   “Because I love you, I love you!” he whispered, pulling him tightly to his sculpted chest.

   “I think we need to run,” she breathed. “You must let me go.”

   “Never. I’ll never let you go!”

    —“MELISSA!  Customer!”

   Melissa groaned and made to re-bury her nose between the pages. Not now! This book is just getting good…!

   “PATRON, MELISSA.”

   Madge’s voice was quite a bit louder now. That was probably because she was standing a foot away, glaring down at her like a thundercloud.

   Dropping the book next to her half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich, five uneaten carrots (neatly aligned from largest to smallest), and three-quarters-full milk carton (two percent), Melissa cringed and pushed her glasses back up her nose.

   “I’m on my lunch break,” she protested. “And my book is—” 

   “And there’s a permanent lunch break called unemployment for daydreamers. I’ve told you not to eat at the desk! It makes a bad impression! The least you can do is take care of this gentleman.”

   “Fine …” 

   The “gentleman” in question seemed a little too rough around the edges to warrant the word. His jeans were scuffed, his shirt buttoned only about halfway under his open leather jacket, the fabric rumpled. Long, dark blond hair hung on either side of a chiseled face with just a tad too much stubble. And dirt. 

   Unkempt. Melissa did not approve.

   The “gentleman” shrugged impatiently, and her dislike of him instantly deepened.

   “Well, c’mon Mary Sue!” he urged through his teeth with a thick Southern accent.

   Mary Sue …! Who’s he calling Mary Sue? So rude.

   Nose in the air, she calmly collected herself. She approached the desk and scanned his DVDs, one after the other. 

   “Ain’t you even gonna say hello, Missy?”

   “My name’s not Missy,” she answered, glaring in his blue-grey eyes. “And you didn’t say hello.”

   “Sure it is.” He pointed at her name tag. “Missy’s short for Melissa, en’t it?”

   She shrugged, fighting irritation. She’d be through with this hassle in just a minute.  And then she could find out what was going to happen to Annabel and Sebastian. 

   “Whatcha readin’?” he asked conversationally. 

   Josh Trevor was the name on his library card. Sounded like somebody who belonged in Grand Theft Auto, not in a library, and not interrupting her lunch hour.

   “A book,” she answered unhelpfully. She gave him a closed-lipped smile and smoothed back her hair. “You’re all done. Thank you.” 

   She handed him the DVDs.

   Reaching out, he closed his hand over the discs, but didn’t take them. “Wanna grab a cup of coffee sometime?”

   Coffee—!

   She gawked at him stiffly. 

   He has GOT to be kidding. Pffft. He doesn’t want coffee. He wants a quick lay. And he’s rude to boot. 

   “Well?” he demanded.

   Touchy too.

   “I don’t think so.”

   “Why?”

   “ ’Cause you’re rude. And you’re not my type.”

   “What’s your type then?” His eyes shifted to the cover of her book. “That your type, Missy? Someone like that, built like a brick sh*t house?”

   Melissa’s brain automatically put an asterisk in the profanity, and added “foul-mouthed” to the list of charming adjectives to describe Josh Trevor.

   “Yes,” she answered pointedly. “Someone not you.”

   “You don’t know a damn thing about me, Missy. If you knew what I’ve had to do today, you wouldn’t be so quick to think as you do. But I know something about you.”

   “Oh, and what’s that?” she shot back, and was surprised to feel her cheeks burning with anger.

   “You’re wound up. You’re never gonna get with a guy like that. Not ever. Not with that.” He gestured at her hair. 

   “My hair? What’s wrong with my hair?”

   “And that blouse … and your lunch tray over there. Did you actually organize your carrots?”

   “What’s my lunch got to do with it?”

   “Ah, hell.” He gave her a dark look out of the corner of his eye and snatched the DVDs off the desk. “You figure it out,” he muttered, and marched for the door.

   Melissa stared at his receding back, speechless. 

   What an ***hole.

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New Fractal Art: "What I See When the Clouds Gather"


What I See When the Clouds Gather

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Tritonysia Play Festival Features One of My Original Works! If You're In the Chicagoland Area May 5 - 7 or 12 - 14, Go See It!

My thanks to Scot Savage for adapting "The Catch" and for putting on this festival!

(Right click 'open link in new tab' to see full-size images)
You can see "The Catch" second from the bottom!

Here is an interview the director gave.



And here is an interview Scot gave.



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New Fractal Art: "The Mage's Finest Brew"


The Mage's Finest Brew

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