Tag Archives: Fiction

He Journeyed Long

4 Apr

He did not know how long he had been walking. He could not remember where he began. He only knew that he had been walking for a long time, and it had been a rough journey. He was tired. He was covered with mud. The journey had to end, but he did not know when that would happen, either. He just had to continue walking.

His path passed over uneven ground and was covered with vegetation. The journey was slow as he made his way through trees, around rocks and over a trail that really was not a trail. As far as he knew, nothing had traveled this path before.

Suddenly, his surroundings changed, and the green that had surrounded him since the beginning gave way to a flat emptiness. The ground was black and cracked. The surface was hard and tough on his bare feet. Earlier, he spotted a large beast, and he instinctively knew that this was its home. The beast was gigantic and made loud rumbling noises when it moved. It would be best to make it through the desolate wasteland as quickly as possible.

However, there was something out there other than the beast. For a long time, he had the feeling of being watched by some unknown force. As he made his way to the end of the black landscape, he heard something racing from behind. He had to make it to the land on the other side before he was caught.

He made it to a land similar to what he had been walking on forever. Rough, green and untrodden. However, he could not escape. His only chance was to stay a still as possible and hope that he was hidden from this new threat.

It was not alone. He heard language that was foreign to him. What were they saying? Could they see him?

They moved around and looked right at him. He never moved. He had no idea what would happen next. He only knew to stay still.

It worked. The creatures moved away from him, but he would not move until he knew it was safe. That feeling never came because he knew that they were watching from the distance.

Eventually, he had no choice. He had to move. He had to follow an irresistible urge to go forward. Something was out there, and he had to find it. Perhaps it was not far away.

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Lyrically Writing – More Than a Feeling

11 Mar

I usually write about real life stuff, but I have dabbled in fiction a few times with one post about an aging rock star and another post about a man walking into a bar. Fiction hits me at strange times, and those times are rare. However, an idea has come to mind about how to get more fiction out of that same mind. It is simple. Just take lyrics from a song and write a more detailed story out of it.

This is my first attempt. The song is “More Than a Feeling” by Boston.

He laid in bed and stared at the ceiling. There were cracks and a stain from an old leak. He studied them with the help of a streetlight shining through the window. He had no idea how long he had been staring at the ceiling, but he knew that it was time to start the day.

He looked out the window and saw nothing but the streetlight. The sun was not up. Nothing was moving. It was just him, the light and the cracks in the ceiling.

He walked to the bathroom and slapped the button on the radio. It was already set to the oldies station. When did the songs of his youth become oldies? He knew the answer as he looked at himself in the mirror. He was also an oldie. Lines spiderwebbed from his tired eyes.

As he studied the map of life on his face, another song came on the radio. It was a song that brought memories from a lifetime ago. It brought recollection and regret. He closed his eyes and listened to the words. Somewhere in the melody, he slipped away.

What was that feeling? No, it was more than a feeling. It was a dream. It was a nightmare. It was heartache. Standing in that cold bathroom with his eyes closed, he saw it happening all over again.

It was a hot summer day. The sunlight glistened in her blonde hair. Hers eyes were swollen with tears as she told him that this was it. She could not do it anymore. It was a moment that he thought would never come. She was done. He was unable to move as she walked away. At that moment, a car drove by with the windows down and the radio up. The song on the radio drifted over him as she disappeared from his life.

He sat in his cubicle as the song played in the chambers of his mind. To make it stop, he thought of the women who had been part of his life. Some of the memories were clearer than others, but there was one certainty. As the years went by, their faces faded further and further into the back of his mind. At some point, they would not be there at all.

However, there was one face that he would never forget. It was a beautiful face etched into his memory. It was also a face of sadness and regret. It was her face as she turned to walk away. It was her face on that summer day when he knew that his life would never be the same.

The day was at a close, and darkness returned to his apartment. He slapped the button on the radio. It was already set to the oldies station. Usually, the music made him forget another uneventful day. This time, it brought her back into his dreams. This time, it brought back that feeling. Wait, it was more than a feeling.

It took him back to a certain time and a certain place. It took him back to that summer day when he did not close his eyes to sleep. He closed his eyes to her love, and, with those closed eyes, his watched her slip away.

 

 

 

The Final Hand

21 Mar

He had never been there before, but he had been to a thousand places just like it. Trash in the street. Dingy building. Some guy standing in the shadows by the door.

They nodded to each other as he walked through the door and made his way into a dimly lit room. However, it was the only light that the men in the room had probably seen in a while. They were creatures of the darkness. All they needed was a light shining down on the felt table covered with cards and chips.

He was a poker player, and these were his people.

He took the empty seat and looked around the table. A couple of them he had played against many times. The others were new. That did not matter. He would learn about them.

Through the night, he studied the players. He studied their playing style. He studied their mannerisms. He studied who they really were.

To his left sat someone who he knew well. A great athlete whose life peaked as a high school hero. His body was broken, and his competitive need could only be filled on the felt. The rest of the time he maintained the same field where he once dominated.

The next player was the typical guy who learned how to play by watching television. He had the hoodie. He had the cap low over his eyes. He should have been playing a fifty cent game at some backwoods casino.

Then, there was the man who looked like he had been sitting in the same chair for a hundred years. His eyes looked tired, and his face looked like it would crack if he smiled. At some point, he mentioned that he had won a tournament several years ago. It was said in passing but was meant as a declaration of the greatest moment of his life.

Across the table sat a man who was hard to read. He had dabbled in different jobs with varied levels of success. He liked to talk, which meant that his time as a car salesman and a real estate agent may have been the high points. Funny, his rate of conversation paralleled the size of his chip stack.

A hulking guy sat next to him. He was the type who lorded over the table and hoped to win with intimidation rather than skill. He did not talk much, the stereotypical strong silent type, but it did not take much time to discover that he was a short-haul truck driver who was thousands of dollars in debt.

The strangest one sat to the left of the Hulk. Not strange in the sense that he could be a serial killer. Strange in the sense that he did not belong in the room. He wore a sweater vest and glasses. He was educated. Why was he in the room? Did he worked in a skyscraper and get his thrills by playing in the gutters? It was difficult to figure out.

The last player was the one he knew best. The one who put this game together. He played wild and lived wilder. He played this game, but the game possessed him. He had won money at the game, but, in return, he had lost his family to the game.

As the hands flew by, he studied the other eight men at the table. He lost track of the cards and of his chip stack. The game became a blur.

As he studied his opponents, he began to realize that he did not want to play anymore. There was a time when he, like the others in the room, lived for poker. However, he did not care about winning or losing. He wanted to be out of that game. He wanted to be away from that table. He wanted to be out of that room.

He wanted to be where life meant more than a handful of cards. He wanted to care about more than the flop, the turn and the river.

A line from a long forgotten movie came to him.

This game had lost its allure.

On the next hand, he went all in without looking at his cards.All In

It was time to go home and leave this game behind.

His chips went into the stack to his right.

He got up from the table and walked out into the night. He had lost the hand, but he knew that, in the final hand, he had won.

 

A Man Walks Into a Bar

26 Jan

It could have been any bar in any town. They all look the same.Bar

There was a guy in the corner playing a guitar and attempting to sing. The speakers were turned up one level too loud because he wanted to be heard over the rest of the noise.

A refugee from the 1980s was grinding on a guy wearing a camouflage cap. She was the type who looked in the mirror and thought she would be the most stylish woman in the bar. Unfortunately, she was a few decades behind.

The bar was tended by a woman with teased platinum blonde hair and a t-shirt designed to get more tips. If someone asked about the wine list she would have replied, “We only have two. Red and white.”

Two men sat at the bar nursing a couple of beers. They looked as if they had been sitting on the stools for years. They eyed the three women who sat at the end of the bar hoping someone would buy them a drink. The two men looking at them were not what they had in mind.

A group of men and women sat at a table by the window. They were dressed better than everyone else and were trying to talk over the music and the din of the crowd. Honestly, they looked out of place. It was as if the bar had taken a downward turn since the last time they were there, and they had not realized it.

Behind them, other men and women sat at another table. It looked as if they had been here every night to see the bar slowly fall into disrepair. They were witnesses to its decline from the jet set to sawdust-covered floors.

As he stood in the doorway, this was the scene that he slowly scanned. He had seen it all before. This was the same door that he had walked into hundreds of times, and these were the same people that he always saw.

However, this scene had one difference. His nemesis – the one he had been searching for – was sitting at the opposite end of the bar with his back to the wall. The man had not lost his touch. He had also not lost any weight. The man was heavier and had grown a beard.

Was it to hide? He doubted it. His old nemesis thought that he was safe and could never be found.

After years of searching places better and worse than this one, he finally proved these ideas to be wrong. Now, everything would be put right.

Kindling

20 Jan

A couple of Christmas’ ago, I was surprised to be given an iPad. It had never been something that I talked about, and I didn’t realize that the person who gave it like me that much. I don’t use the iPad very much to serve the internet because I find a laptop much easier to type on a read. However, I use the iPad to play games and read on the Kindle. This Kindle thing was a surprise to me as well. I was always one of those people who talked about how I was never going to give in to the technology. I like holding a book and turning the pages. I like spending hours in bookstores. However, it wasn’t long before those opinions started to change. Of course, I still like bookstores. Who doesn’t? But, I have now become one of those people who is killing the bookstores. Instead of buying books, I get titles and download them later. It’s terrible, I know. It feels like cheating.

I was thinking about this change of opinion while sitting in my office this afternoon. Bunches of books were taking up space, and I began thinking about how I needed to clean out my shelves. My office is nothing like my house. There are books on shelves, crammed in drawers, and places anywhere they might be considered out-of-the-way. Some of them were memorable. Some of them have were forgotten as soon as the last word was read. but, most are waiting in the queue to be opened before they are lost in the Land of Closed Drawers.

I hate getting rid of books. It takes a lot of effort, both physical and mental. Figuring out which ones go and which ones stay. Picking up a totally overloaded box. coming up with a place to take the overloaded box. Hoping that the books find good, caring homes. Thinking about all of that trouble made me appreciate the Kindle in another way. When a book is finished, I just place my finger on it until it shakes and “x” it into the archives. No shelves. No drawers. No boxes. Just a button.

With that in mind, I decided to look through the Kindle archives and see what I have filled my mind with.

1. “The American West” by Dee Brown – This semester I am teaching the Expansion of the United States and read this work to brush up on the history of that time and place. Brown is a famous writer of the American West, but he is not a true historian. He  falls into the category of popular historian that academic historians love to complain about. The latter does the research while the former gets the fame. Actually, there are a lot of good “popular” writers. Unfortunately, Brown is not one of them. The book is badly arranged and needs an editor badly. He knows a lot of good information and tells great stories. However, it took an effort to get through it, and I love this stuff.

2. “The Big Scrum” by John J. Miller – This book chronicles the early days of college football and how it was saved by Theodore Roosevelt. At the turn of the 18th/19th Centuries, academic leaders were outraged at the sport taking over their campuses. Violence. Horrible injuries. Cheating. Paying players. Recruiting issues. It seemed that the game was going to drag universities into the gutter of professional sports. Before they could take action, TR and other leaders stepped up to claim that the game was good for America and the development of manhood. I am not sure about that, but I like college football. So, I’m glad they saved it.

3. “Blood of the Reich” by William Dietrich – Dietrich has written a series of novels about Ethan Gage, adventurer extraordinaire. His hero outwitted Napoleon; defeated Barbary pirates; and survived adventures in the unexplored American West. In this book, new heroes fight Nazis, both old and new, to find a great power in Tibet. I didn’t like this as much as the Gage adventures. However, I don’t think it was the fault of Dietrich. Before this book, I read “Sleepwalkers” by a writer that I won’t name to save him from the embarrassment. It was about a Jewish detective looking into a horrible crime before Nazis took power in Germany. It was terrible. No character development. Telegraphing of plot. Jumped from scene to scene without any connection. The only good part was the prostitute that he spent a lot of time describing. Unfortunately, she disappeared without any explanation with what happened.

4. “The Devil Colony” by James Rollins – I really like the adventures of Grayson Pierce and the Sigma Force team. In this one, they head into the American West to stop a mysterious force from destroying the globe. They hit some places that I have been, so it was easy to visualize the action. Plus, they ended up in Yellowstone. How can you beat that?

5. “The Devil’s Gold” by Steve Berry – This is a Kindle-only short story used to st up the action in an upcoming novel. In short, an operative is looking for lost Nazi gold in South America. In the process, he finds the offspring of Adolf Hitler. Short story equal short description.

6. “The Jefferson Key” by Steve Berry – This is the novel set up by the previously mentioned short story. Cotton Malone goes after a secret cabal of pirates whose families have been protected by the United States government since its inception. It starts out with Andrew Jackson being himself and sticking to the pirate ancestors. Those of us in Tennessee know how Jackson was. He didn’t take any shit. Well, the pirate descendants are figuring out a way to get out of the situation Old Hickory put them in. Malone has to stop them.

7. “Evel: The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel: American Showman, Daredevil, and Legend” by Leigh Montville – As a kid, I was fascinated by Evel Knievel. I watched the jumps; had the toys; and wanted to be just like him. This is an all-encompassing biography that follows Evel from his youth in Butte, Montana to his death as broken, both physically and financially, old man. In between were adventures that you would assume the world’s most famous daredevil would have. Women. Alcohol. Parties. All the trappings of decadence and fame. The surprise comes when it’s revealed that Evel was afraid of dying the entire time. He created a persona that he couldn’t escape. His job was facing death with the world watching and death was looking back.

That gets us halfway through the archives, and I have discovered that typing about the finished books is almost as tiresome as putting them in boxes. We will explore the next half in the next post.