New Paperback Now Available

Paperback

I have thoroughly consumed the self-publishing kool-aid and I’m now offering a paperback version of my Footprints book. It’s available on Amazon by clicking here. I guess technically it’s not vanity publishing since the process is free, but still. Feel free to take a look.

p.s. For some reason an absurdly large picture of my gravatar image appears in the reader feed despite me not even inserting it into the post. It should be a picture of the book cover. For those who had to endure my mug, I apologize wholeheartedly.

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The Adventure of Igdryll the Gnome (Part 5)

          Morning broke cool and still. Fog clung to the village. Igdryll was awake, had been awake for most of the night. He sat down on the edge of his bed and looked outside through a grimy window. A few were out going about their business but most were still asleep. There are younger folks in the village who would have been better suited for this type of business.
           ‘Why those bones choose me?’ he thought.
          He stood and walked to a nearby table. Moving clear some papers and a broken hammer, he picked up a jug of cider and poured himself a drink into a tin cup. A knock at the door.
          “Who be it?” Igdryll asked.
           “It’s time,” the Elder replied. “Let’s go.”
          Igdryll opened the door and let the Elder in. An assortment of woodworking tools, a plate of half-eaten bread and cider bottles emerged in the gloomy morning light let in through the open door. An ancient looking clock sat on the fireplace mantle. The Elder glanced at it.
          “I think your clock stopped,” the Elder said.
          “Didn’t stop. Never started.” Igdryll rummaged through a pile of clothes on the floor. “Just a sec’, oldish.” He paused. “So what does I bring to war anyhow?”
          “Well, a stout heart, fortitude, spirit…”
          “I’ve got a hammer,” Igdryll said lifting it up from underneath a shirt. “I bringin’ a hammer.” He slipped the mallet into his belt, grabbed a walking staff from beside the door and they left.

          They walked in silence together through the village. A few pockets of activity stirred here and there but the main road was vacant. As they walked past the Old Tower which marked the village boundary, an old toad stared at them a moment before hopping off into the undergrowth.
          The Elder quietly hummed. Igdryll recognized the tune. It was sung during the Great War in the ancient days, or at least that is what his Gram told him.
          “So why you need me, anyways?” Igdryll asked.
          “The bones advised it.”
          “Farking bones. I mean yesterdays you went alones and did finely. What difference will I make?”
          “I am an old man, Igdryll, and this type of magic, war magic I mean, doesn’t come easily to me anymore. The council knows this and advised that I find help. You see, many moons before you came to us, our folk lived in a far off land…”
          “Yeah, I know this, the Eldervale. So what?”
          “So,” the Elder continued, “the Tall Men came. One or two at first, then families, then villages. At first we lived side by side in relative peace. Some even became our friends, in a manner of speaking. But, you see, Tall Men live short lives and have short memories. Friends became foes and it was decided that we should cut off any contact with them. The council was created and through great and ancient magic created the Eldervale to shield us from the Tall Men. It protected us for many moons thereafter and they forgot about us. We became myth and that was our greatest protection. But their great machines found us again and we left.”
          “They find us again?”
          “Aye. Some in the council wanted to reach out to them and see if their ways had changed. Others disagreed. A vote was taken and war won.”
          “Wouldn’t friends be easier?”
          “We are almost to the Stream.”
          The clouds had cleared and dappled sunlight danced across the mossy forest floor. A cool breeze vacated the heavy morning air. They continued for a few more minutes in silence. The Old Gray Stream emerged ahead. The Elder crossed over the water in a shallow spot and waited as Igdryll crossed. They continued on until the sound of the Great River could be heard ahead. The Elder stopped and motioned for Igdryll to be quiet. The two of them crept forward and peered through a copse of sycamores. Through the undergrowth they could see the yellow colored moving house.
          “No,” the Elder said.
          “What?”
          “There are two tall men. I sent that chubby one to the spirit yesterday. I was sure of it.”
          “To the spirit? You never said that yesterday.”
          “He fell. I saw him. They are such fragile things.”
          “Well, now what, oldish?”
          The Elder watched the two men as they went about their business of clearing dirt. He motioned Igdryll forward and the two of them approached the bank of the Great River.
          “I’m going to do something, Igdryll,” the Elder said. “Stay very calm.”
          “Uh, what…” Igdryll slowly rose into the air. “Holy fark, oldish!”
          “Stay calm or the magic will break.”
          Igdryll managed to regain his composure. He slowly floated out over the river. Below him, whitecaps swirled and tore at the rocks reaching up from the water. Looking behind him, he could see the Elder also floating about a stone’s throw away. Igdryll closed his eyes.
          ‘One, two, three, four…”he counted.
          At twenty-three, Igdryll’s feet felt firm ground beneath them. He opened his eyes and saw that he was safely on the other side of the river. The Elder shortly joined him.
          “Okay, oldish,” Igdryll said. “Why didn’t we just floatish our happy feet here all the way from the village?”
          “As I said, Iggs.” The Elder paused, short of breath. “I’m old and my magic is old.”
          The Elder climbed the embankment and motioned for Igdryll to follow. At the top, they could hear machinery running and the Tall Men shouting things in a strange language. They walked closer to the noise until they reached a clearing. Using an elderberry bush as cover, the two of them watched the moving house take dirt from one spot and move it to another spot.
          “What they doing?” Igdryll asked.
          “I think they are building a house.”
          “A dirt house?”
          “Aye. Not good.”
          “So what’s the plan?”
          Igdryll felt more adventurous now. As he watched the Tall Men work in the field, he now felt like he was part of something much larger than himself. Like he was a warrior in one of the ancient battle stories.
          “We need to break their yellow house,” the Elder said. “I think I know how but I will need your help.”

Chasing Melancholia

I haven’t posted in a while. I blame Spring and Summer with their inviting weather which leads me away from my general melancholia fueled musings.

I get the writing bug just about the time that the sun is absent when I wake up for work. Thoughts turn to the transitory nature of existence and I feel compelled to chronicle my sophmoric love affair with mortality.

I woke up Regina (my typewriter) from her slumber and wrote a quick exploratory piece about a man who looks back on a childhood memory. An old man used to play guitar at the local mercantile and one day sings a confession to the boy. The boy was too young at the time to pick up on it and he only realizes it many years later when an article in the newspaper recounts how a skeleton was found out behind the mercantile while crews were digging a new septic pond.

Not a great story but at least I dipped a toe in the water.

I look at the other writers I follow and they have been consistently producing some great work. I hate all of you. Seriously though, so many of you produce great work and there are so many other great writers out there who are just waiting for their break who grind it out day after day. It’ll happen.

As the temperature drops, I suspect my output will increase. Until then, I’ll be content to catch up on all the other writer’s posts that I’ve neglected to keep up with.

Turned (a short story)

The sign in her window advertised palm reading, crystal gazing and sundry occult machinations. I told her I wanted more love in my life. Who doesn’t, right? I also told her that it had been almost two years since I had even gone out with anybody. She said to me that she knew exactly what would help curtail my dry spell.

Leading me to a back room that smelled of old cigars, sweat and liquor, she scraped a wooden chair across the floor and bade me sit. “I’ve never had much aptitude for voodoo,” she said to me with a blush of a smile while she laid out several items on the altar. “But I think this is just the trick,” she said with a wink. She had a sachet of pungent herbs in one hand that she crunched as she continued to lay out stones, leaves, twigs and candles with the other. I began to think then that it was a bad idea. I had hoped that visiting her would help but, instead, a primal anxiety roiled in my guts.

She withdrew a match from a rusty metal box, sparked it to life on the bottom of her shoe and lit the red novena in the center of the altar. “Give me your hand,” she said while holding out her own. I placed my hand in hers, she lifted the novena and poured droplets of molten wax on my hand. I jerked back but she held fast. “Now, now. Courage.” She set the candle down and sprinkled what I think was sulfur powder and other herbs into the soft wax on my hand. A ribbon of acrid smoke puffed upwards from the warm globules. She inhaled the fumes, blew them back in my face and I lost consciousness. I didn’t wake up until a year later.

That was over thirty years ago and it was the night I became Marie’s zombie. However, each year on the anniversary of my turning, my mind and body enjoy a brief freedom. As I write, the sun is going down over Lafayette square and I know that in a few hours, I will turn once again to become entwined with darkness for yet another year.

Flawed Heroes and Drunken Gnomes

gnome-prank

I’m not completely sure how I feel about this, but my most developed story so far concerns a boozer gnome who is pegged to help the town elder defeat a family of people that are building a house too close to their village. Basically, the village is protected by a magical veil that, for the most part, shields them from the prying eyes of pesky humans. However, the elder, who is the last of a dying breed of magi, is concerned because his magic is failing and the oracle bones he threw chose a lazy, cider-sopped gnome to be his replacement. Will they be able to push back the humans? Will the drunkie gnome be able to grab hold of his destiny and lead his people to victory? Or will he instead wake up to the sound of bulldozers ripping through his shitty tree stump house? Don’t know yet. Stay tuned.

On an unrelated note, why is WordPress always “new” and “improved” so much so that I can’t navigate to settings pages that I am fairly sure used to exist sometime within the last six months. Bah humbug.

Whispering Muses…or Ideas and Stuff

Story ideas:

As I understand it, there is a several hundred acre area just west of where I live in which recently freed slaves were given or sold some land (not sure which) in order to scratch out a living. Well, the land was, at best, marginally arable and the community quickly dissolved. Many years later the acreage was converted into a conservation area and now only hunters and hikers use the land. There are occasional relics from the community scattered about if you know where to look…a stone foundation, rusted farm implements, clusters of day-lilies and other types of vegetation that have no place in the wilderness. I suspect there are several stories here. People toiled, bled, loved and died there although not much more than a handful of footnotes and scarce articles testify to any of this. I suspect not more than a handful of people in the surrounding communities realize that the community existed. Right now, I have nothing more than a jumping off point. If I can find any more information about the community, I suspect the story will pretty much write itself. If anyone knows anything about the people who lived in the Three Creeks Conservation Area, please let me know. I would be very grateful for anything you would be willing to share.

Another idea that has started to take shape concerns a just hired surgeon in the late 1800s who makes the journey from the east coast to a central Missouri university town in order to secure a position as the faculty head of the surgeon’s college. When he arrives, he discovers that the house he will be residing in sits atop a network of limestone caverns that harbors a hallucinogenic fungus that slowly affects him and his family’s behavior. Kind of a Lovecraft meets Stephen King kind of story.

There are other ideas rattling around but my wife says I have to stop now and eat the quiche she just made–speaking of hallucinogenic fungus.

Summary of Mishmash

Somewhere at some point while reading one of the many books that I have read, I fancied that it would be a fine idea to write some stories myself. It sounds simple…write a story. What could be simpler? Well, anything. It’s not like other avenues in life where the pathway is laid out before you by someone else and all you have to do is walk in a reasonably straight line.

With story writing, there is no predestined path. There is simply the white of the page. I say page because I purchased a Royal Quiet Deluxe typewriter with which to bang out stories. I look at it as I imagine a commercial pilot in this day and age gazes fondly at a P-51. Yeah, a 737 is safer, more efficient and all that but a P-51 is a direct extension of blood and sinew. The only thing between you and the ground is your wit and muscle, not invisible strings of digital code.

Anyway, I intend to use these posts as catharsis, a sounding board, and a repository for whatever string of consciousness, and the like, fancies to escape.