I am working on a script about penises becoming detachable. It’s an evolutionary thing which initially engenders terror but, when men learn that reconnection is simple, becomes a thing. Different models sprout, versions featuring thick members at the center and colorful off shoots that look like bundles of wobbly flowers.
This version becomes in demand, although it isn’t a question of manufacturing or purchasing them, just the body producing them. Those who display these become idolized and have their flowery genitalia featured on social media.
And then one of the vaunted influencers decides that he is actually a dog and then that becomes a thing.
The recent obsession with a multiverse existence is not surprising, given the surge of the sad and lonely scrolling to the next seven-second moment.
I think about a moment when I was perhaps 25 standing in a phone booth where I had to make the call between working as a caption editor and or assistant book store manager. I chose to edit captions and did that for several years before stumbling into education. Why I don’t really know? Why not the book shop where I could have made a contact in publishing and be a dozen or so books into my career? Or perhaps been fired for yelling at customers for reading the Penthouse and Hustler? Or murdered someone for some losing the only draft of my first and great work? Who knows.
That’s just it. Where would we be if Trump had been killed in Vietnam? If Hitler had been aborted? If Caligula had been given the spanking he so badly needed? If Paris had just kept his filthy paws off Helen? If whatever Neanderthal tribe gone with the artsy chick instead of the asshole bully? Or if, as Gunter Grass posited in The Flounder, women had never told them the secret of procreation and held onto that power. In short, this verse is it, kids.
The difference between the morning and evening edit is day and night. I am methodical in the morning, sorting through scenes like cupboards and drawers, matching the colors, straightening everything out.
My brain is loose in the evening, searching for the magic and music more than anything else, adrift, catching at the flotsam.
It’s a balancing game, getting those two to work together, always interesting to see which gets the last word.
I was recently told that my blog is just for me, that I do not have an audience in mind. I must admit that I was surprised to hear that. Not that it isn’t exactly that. But then, what isn’t? I mean, I don’t show the wonderful places that I go nor the gorgeous food I eat nor even my lovely body, a hint of my undies and child-like desire.
I don’t do any of that. I just write bites like Drank half of it down (my new catchphrase) or Fuck you all! Said with love. And that’s the only value of this. (Said by me to me for me.)
By the way, when did “abundance of caution” replace “to be on the safe side”? And what was before that? And how did any of this get decided? A gaggle of old fellows in a tower?
I like the bathroom for its clean lines and tight confines. I like closets and storerooms too. I think about staying in there for days and days, the rest of my life in this safe little place, the opposite of claustrophobia.
That’s where I leave the orphans from my book, alone in their room where they must stay:
They watched the ranger and two of the others amble toward the dead moose, the other one vanish from view, and then moments later, a pickup truck come careening through the grass.
“These boys are up to this tomfoolery? The ranger boy included.”
“I don’t like this, Tommy.”
“None of it is good, my love.” They moved quickly down the path, across the beach and were just getting to his camper truck when the pickup appeared behind them on the road.
“We’ll just keep walking, Deirdre. Same pace and that. We know nothing of them.”
“You’re the one who has to keep his cool, right?”
“As the Bay of Fundy.”
The truck pulled alongside them, the ranger in the passenger’s seat. “Glad to see he’s back on the leash.”
“Just like you said,” Tommy replied quickly.
“What the hell is that?” A high-pitched voice called from inside the truck. “A goddamn leopard?”
Dee walked just ahead of Tommy, her eyes on the ground; they were almost at the camper.
“Seriously.” The truck stopped and the man got out. He wore dark sunglasses and had close-cropped hair. “What is that?”
Dee looked at him briefly. “A serval.”
“A what? Never heard of that. What is he like? African? Looks a hell of a lot like a leopard. Or maybe a puma-like. Can I pet him?”
Dee pulled Apollo close to her legs as Tommy unlocked the back of the camper. “He doesn’t do well with strangers.”
“You come here from Newfoundland?” Another had got out and stood by the first. He was taller with a thick head of hair and beard. “Quite the place, I hear. Hell of a lot of moose up there, right?”
Tommy opened the door, and Apollo jumped inside.
“You two on a trip?” The first one moved closer, rifle in hand. “Driving up the coast?”
“What’s your hurry, huh?” The second man leaned toward Dee. “Have a beer with us before you head on.”
“We would like that,” she replied. “But we’re supposed to be somewhere.”
“My name’s Steve, all right?” He turned to the man beside him. “This is my buddy, Dale. And that’s Carter driving. You already met Alex. He’s the big ranger.”
“Nice to meet you fellas.” Tommy nodded back.
“You see ourmoose?” Dale waved to the back of the pickup where the hind legs and antlers were visible above the brim. “Nine hundred pounds easy.”
“Have a beer with us.” Steve turned back to Dee. “We’ll carve you up a steak.”
“We have to go.” Dee pursed her lips. “Like we said.”
“Who breaks camp at the end of the day?” He leaned on the camper. “We can chill and then you can split.”
Dee went down the side of the camper and climbed in the passenger seat.
“Hey, you can be polite, right?” Steve had followed her down; his face got hard, stupidly so. “Aren’t you Canadians supposed to be friendly?”
“I’m from Pittsburgh,” Dee replied.
“You all right?” Alex, the ranger, held onto the driver’s door of the camper as Tommy climbed in. “You seem upset about something.”
Tommy stopped, one leg in. “No.”
“We just have to get going,” Dee added.
“There’s nothing going on here,” Alex replied.
Tommy tried to close the door but Alex held on. “I’m not getting your meaning.”
Alex sighed. “Maybe I should impound the cat.”
“Why would you do that?” Dee demanded. “We’re leaving.”
Tommy started the engine.
“I’m sorry.” Alex leaned toward the keys in the ignition.
“Listen, b’y.” Tommy elbowed Alex’s hand off the door and put the truck into the gear, gunning it down the rutted road, his teeth clenched, getting the door closed as he glanced in the side mirrors. “Is he coming? You see anything?”
Dee turned back, waiting to see a cloud of dust. “I can’t see anything.”
“Fucking hell.” Tommy laughed angrily. “Fucking hell, those boys. Up to no good, that’s what they were. No good.”
It took me ten weeks to process Tennessee’s notes, but at long last I have begun my eighth (ninth?) draft of Anori. Tennessee (my editor) made excellent suggestions related to killing characters – a terse goodbye to Valerie and Robi – as well as complete restructuring, which means sideways, headache-inducing thinking and no more scenes in Newfoundland like this precious little one:
Flagstones, newly dug, and boards bent into the red earth, led down a narrow path, following the base of a rocky ledge to a meadow. Fitz walked ahead, his windbreaker too small, pants heavy and large. The archeological site was deserted, a wheel barrow with shovels and picks lined up at its side, standing by a row of tents, the one at the far end with its front entrance unzipped and flapping in the wind.
“A bit of sloppiness that.” Fitz bent down to the tent, head-first into a man, middle-aged, as he backed out. “Watch your—Unh!”
“That’s the irony,” Eileen whispered behind Dee.
“You all right there?” The man zipped the tent shut before standing up.
“Looking about for Tommy Baines.”
The man adjusted his glasses. “He must have gone with the others, an hour or so ago.”
“Off to the pub, that it?”
“Don’t know about that.”
“We’ll just show the girl around before he makes his way back.”
“You’ll need Tommy to take you through for that.”
“We’ve been around the heath, seen the pit, the chunks of slag,” Fitz replied. “We know where not to put our feet.”
“That a leopard you got there?”
“He’s a serval. His name’s Apollo.” Dee smiled at him. “He won’t bite.”
“Aim to keep my hands intact, thanks.” He gave them a wide berth as he headed up the path. “Evening to you.”
“That’s his spot.” Eileen pointed out the yellow and blue flagging tape in the distance. “They’re saying it was an iron ore camp, set up to make their nails for the ships.”
“A lot of theories about the Vikings could be gutted with a place like this,” Fitz added. “They’ll be looking up and down the coast and across to Nova Scotia next. See what they can find.”
Dee watched the wind churn the distant water into a wash of whitecaps, each chasing after the thick grey clouds low in the early evening sky.
The final book of The Cx Trilogy is centered on Po, a being-non-being borne of a catastrophic deceleration from close-to-light speed to gain orbit. Po has human sensibilities of the temporal – desperation, uncertainty – yet remains indifferent, aware of the immensity of the whole.
Po’s story – and of the humans on the planet Mina with it – is diametrically opposed to the space operas centered on the ceremony of civilization. It is instead of irrelevance, accepting and dissolving into that, an antithesis to humanity and its childish aspirations
It’s a longish short story of a relationship that starts with a connection, direct and funny. And then an angry step daughter arrives, sexually taunting. “How did you get here? What did you do to be standing here? I knew how fucked up everybody was when I was a kid. And that never made sense to me. The world was huge. It was beyond anything I could imagine. And then I went out and realized that it wasn’t all that. Don’t fuck with my mother.”
After that, the story of the relationship isn’t as wise or wonderful as survival. “Life might be done with me, but that’s because I called it out on all of its bullshit.”