Friday, January 24, 2014

Tooth Be, or Not Tooth Be...

Greetings, WYMOP readers!

It's a quick one this week. Something with a little bite.

Here's the story:

The other day I was visiting the house that once was mine, and I happened to stroll into Handsome’s bedroom in time to catch him with his hand jammed into his mouth, almost to the wrist. That’s a pretty neat trick, if you can do it, and I was about to congratulate him on nearly getting the whole thing in there, you know,  kind of encouraging him to learn a marketable skill, when I noticed the paper towel hanging out of his fist-filled maw like a long, flat tongue.
The paper towel had blood on it. And I don’t mean blood; I mean BLOOD! Small spatters large and drops, stains that spread like opening flowers covered the crumpled sheet of  Bounty.
“What the hell?” I said, eloquent as always.
“Ahh uufp ow oo uh ahh eeepf,” he said, forcing these strange noises past his own poking paw.
“I see,” I said. “Well, that just explains everything.”
He thrust his chin toward the tray-table in front of him. It took me a moment to decipher the gesture, since with his fist jammed in there the act of pointing with his chin also caused him to move his wrist, elbow and shoulder, effectively pointing in four directions at once. I was watching his eyes, though, because the eyes are the windows to the soul, or so they say. Handsome’s soul was staring in the same direction his chin was pointing, so I sighted along his jutting jaw and found the focus of his stare.
Two teeth lay upon the tray: Molars, apparently ripped from the living head of my bleeding boy.
He had mentioned a loose tooth, but I hadn’t known there were two of them, and what with them being far in the back of his mouth (out of sight, out of mind!) I’d forgotten it entirely. The paper towel, I realized, was being packed into the new holes in his head to try to stop them leaking.
Good luck to him, I thought, getting a peek in there when he pulled his hand out to re-position his grip on the paper. The holes looked roughly the shape and size of  car tires. Just a pair of those doughnut  little replacement tires rather than some sort of Monster Truck tires, it was true, but still —  something could have fallen in.
I looked down at the twin blocks of enamel, one slightly larger than the other, and a thought struck me. A question, really. I thought fast, wanting to phrase it properly but still trying to take advantage of his current disgusting distraction.
“So… you’re the boy who decided a couple of years ago he didn’t believe in Santa, right?”
He wrinkled his face in confusion —  an easy thing to do when you have your mouth open as far as he did, and nodded.
“So… uh… how do you feel about the Tooth Fairy?”
His eyes shot back to the evicted chompers, and I saw those windows to his soul flicker, then light up like someone had just opened the refrigerator. He pulled his hand out of his mouth, leaving the staunching rag in place. His eyes grew round and his voice rose up into a register he’s not used naturally in more than four years. Mimicking the voice of his six-year-old self (with an accuracy that’s spooky sometimes), he spoke as clearly as he could without dislodging the towel.  
“Oh! I love her!”
Greedy little tooth-pulling bastard.

Anybody know the going rate for a couple of milk-molars in good condition?

Talk to you later!

...and for something completely random, here's a little song that got stuck in my head one weekend while Handsome was staying with me. I sang it to him for two days. In the voice.
I may have given him nightmares about Looney Tunes.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Greetings WYMOP readers!

One of my aims when I started this blog was to give me a place to write stuff that was different from the fiction I was writing. I was (and still am, for the most part) writing dark fiction, mostly Horror. In an effort to keep it separate from my website, which is devoted to the fiction, I was trying quite hard not to write about writing here. This was simply a place for me to try to entertain a few people with humorous anecdotes.

That is changing.

Since I'm writing every day, both before and after work, it seems a little silly to try to cut it right out of the blog. I'll still try to make you chuckle, and I'll try not to make just the writers chuckle while the other folks simply scratch their heads and wonder what the hell I'm talking about.

And so. On with the story...


I sit. I read. Sometimes I read from the screen in front of me, but more often I hold a printed copy of the work in one hand while a pen occupies the other, ready to do its work. I sit and read, very quietly, fairly intensely, until the pen decides it has waited long enough, and is time to go to work. Before it can, however, I must perform my very own little ritual, and sing my very own little song.

“”What the @#$% is this @#$%?” I shout. “Who the @#$% wrote this piece of @#$%??”
I blink.
“Ah yes,” I say. “It was me.”
The pen begins its scratching work.

This is me, editing something I’ve written before submitting it for publication. When asked what my favorite story is, I will usually answer with “The one I’m writing right now.” When asked about my least favorite, I’ll usually answer “The one I’m editing right now.”  That means that every story I’ve written has been, in my mind, both the most wonderful and glorious collection of words I’ve ever seen, as well as complete and utter lobster caca (Lobsters, being bottom-feeders, will occasionally eat caca, which means their caca is double caca.)

I recently spent quite a bit of time ( read: weeks and weeks) editing a whole big pile of my own work. This means I spent quite a bit of time gripping a pen quite tightly and shouting @#$%. I shouted @#$% in the mornings. I shouted @#$% in the evenings. I tried to choke the living @#$% out of the pen as I shouted @#$% through gritted teeth. I would wake up some mornings still hoarse from shouting @#$% the night before.

The process, in short, was @#$%. It was lengthy, it was exhausting, and it had me shouting @#$% in my sleep.

There had to be a better way.

So I signed up for an online editing course that comes out of a local college. It’s not going to turn me in to Ellen Datlow or anything, but it sure couldn’t hurt. The class began the other day, and I sat down and happily took the first lesson. Did the assignment. Took the end-of-lesson quiz.

I was on my way to becoming a better editor.

After doing the work, I noticed there was a sort of  online class bulletin board set up so we students can ask questions and converse. Quite a few people had already introduced themselves there, and I took the time to read their short bios before writing my own. One of my classmates had posted their introduction with a typo in the title, then posted again, rather quickly, pointing out and correcting the mistake.

I, wishing them to not feel silly about the simple mistake, responded to their post with this:
Yeah, sometimes that is referred to as a SEND edit. It consists of hitting the SEND button, then doing a face-palm as your mind's eye shows you what you've just done, now that it's too late to correct. Happens all the time.

I then sat down and banged out my own little “Hello!” and bio. I’ve written bios before, though I’ve never enjoyed it, so I just rattled it off and hit “SEND”. The little thinking swirly-doohickey showed up for a moment as my post cycled through, and then it popped up on the screen, a permanent part of the class record.

And in it, I saw a typo.

My face met my palm with a hearty “Oh, @#$%!”

Some things may never change.

Talk to you later!

P.S. - For those of you interested, the symbols @#$% refer to, obviously, the phrase "poop-a-doody". We all know I would never use any language stronger than this. Right?

P.P.S. - Hi, Mom!

P.P.P.S. - Okay, I give. Poop-a-doody was a lie. But because I can't say it in front of my mother, I'm leaving you this YouTube clip. 
Because no one says @#$% like Dennis Farina.
(Warning. This clip contains some adult @#$%ing language.)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Man Shopping

Greetings WYMOP readers!

It's just after the holidays, and everyone's still shopping crazy and burnt out on the mall. Except me. I went to the mall one (1) time during the holidays, and it just happened to be two (2) days after Christmas - the height of Return Season. But I did it right.

I did it like a man.

Here's the story...

~ ~ * * ~ ~

My SanDisc Clip 4G Mp3 player wore out.

Stopped working.

I needed a new one.

I didn’t comparison shop. I didn’t spend any time looking at fliers, or calling from store to store, or buying multiple MP3 players at different stores in order to see which one I liked best and then run about returning the ones that didn’t make the cut.

I wanted a SanDisc Clip 4G MP3 player. So this is what I did.

I pulled into the parking lot at my nearest Best Buy. This Best Buy happens to be attached to a mall, and it was only two days after Christmas, so the lot was full of cars —  people returning stuff, in order to buy more stuff. Rather than drive around looking for a spot as close to the building as possible, spending minutes circling in search of an open spot, or slowly tailing someone walking through the parking lot like some pedophile who ‘just wants to make sure the little ones get home from school safely, officer’, I had decided to just drive away from the building in a straight line and take the first open spot I saw, even if it was in the next county.

I got stuck momentarily behind a car that was blocking the aisle, directional flashing away, as they waited for a woman to vacate her spot. The woman, a matron of about one hundred and nine, helped what looked like her mother into the driver’s seat, then stood behind the car to help guide the ancient crone as she backed out of the spot. There was backing and stopping. And backing. And stopping.

I went around.

I found an open parking spot and pulled in, hopped out, and started hot-footing it back across the parking lot. I was in luck: the spot I found was close enough that the mall was still in sight, and I would not have to stop to ask for directions along the way. As I beelined up the aisle I passed the spot that had been so recently vacated by Methuselah's grandmother, and saw the driver of the car I had been stuck behind. I noted in passing that she was a woman of about my age, and was accompanied by a boy in a green shirt. I would have fit into this shirt three times over, probably with room for my son as well, but on this young lad the fabric was stretched so tight he looked a little like some bizarre party balloon.

I did not slow.

I slammed through the entrance like an invading army bashing through a castle gate. The young tough manning the door was alert and aware, the words “Welcome to Best Buy, can I help you find anything?” slapping me in the face just as my lead foot came down on their inner carpet. I flung up a hand, fending him off with a well-placed “No thanks, I got it!” and slipped by the stunned guard. Gazing upward, I took in the department signs suspended from the ceiling.

TV and Home Theater... Computers and Laptops... iPod and MP3 players.

MP3 Players. I took that as a clue. I headed that way.

Juking left and right like some Top Gun extra (kids, ask your parents or look it up) I zipped through the crowd. I was moving with purpose, and though I went around people larger than me, anyone smaller got the hell out of my way. I shouted an apology over my shoulder to the old woman who didn’t move fast enough.

I’m sure she’ll be fine.

I slipped into the MP3 aisle with a smoothness that would have made Fred Astaire cry (kids, parents!) and stopped in front of a SanDisc Clip 4G. The last one on the rack. I gave myself leave to do a two step happy-dance, then retraced my steps to the front of the store, hurdling the old woman who was still struggling to her feet. I can’t print what she called me, but I can tell you there’s nothing wrong with her lungs.

I’m sure she’ll be fine.

I hit some luck at the registers: that maze they make out of ropes and crowd control stanchions, the one that started at the bank but rapidly spread across our retail society like syphilis blasting its way through 16th century Europe, was, astonishingly, empty. I bee-bopped through the maze at a speed approaching Dark (because no matter how fast Light is, whenever it gets somewhere it finds that Dark is already there and waiting) and appeared at one of the open registers like a stage magician’s trick gone wrong. Old, and bald, and wrong.

“Did you find everything you were looking for?”
“Do you have a Best Buy rewards card?”
“No, and I don’t think I’ll open one tonight, thanks.”
“Okay, sir, if you’d just slide your —”

I was already sliding my debit card through the machine. I keyed in my PIN like a CPA on meth putting a serious beat-down on his adding machine, took the receipt she held out to me, and with a “You have a wonderful New Year too!” I was heading for the door Apollo Ono style —  head low, arm swinging, big strides, and at the head of the pack.

I paused to hold the door for a frazzled-looking woman who entered the store followed by a huge green balloon-shirt with legs. The shirt was bitching about something. The long walk in from the parking lot, I think. I grinned and let the door hit him in the ass as I strode out into the parking lot.

Total time in Best Buy, from sidewalk to sidewalk: less than 120 seconds.

Man Shopping. That’s how it’s done.

Let the door hit the bitching green shirt in the ass.

I’m going to go listen to my brand-new, fully functional SanDisc Clip 4G MP3 player.

Y’all have a good day.

Talk to you later!

Author’s Note: In the course of writing this post I realized I could not recall the actual term “crowd control stanchions”, so I Googled the phrase “in line at the bank thingie”... and it @#$%ing worked! How @#$%ing cool is Google?


~ ~ * * ~ ~

That's all I have for now. Talk to you later!

Bonus Video:

I just finished reading my first Jack Reacher novel, and I have to say that although in the books he's 6'5" and 250 lbs, little Tom Cruise does a pretty good job depicting the brutality of Reacher's fighting style.

Disclaimer: No testicles were hurt in the making of this film.As far as I know. I think. Maybe.