Saturday, March 15, 2014

Parent-Normal Activity.

Greetings WYMOP fans. I want to tell you a little about my day.

So there I sat this afternoon, working on a story. It’s a good story —  could be a great story—  and it kind of came out of nowhere.
Sometimes, those are the best kind.
It’s a story about an old man whose wife has passed, and he finds something a little surprising waiting for him when he goes into the basement to do laundry for the first time.
A little surprising.
A little strange.
A little scary.
But the story has become more than I meant it to as my character starts, over the course of the story, to come to terms with her passing. Not just “coping” with it, but actually looking at it and how it’s making him feel. Some of what he’s finding out about himself comes as a bit of a surprise to him —  and to me, too, since this is in addition to what I’d intended, which was surprising, strange and scary.
And short. I forgot to mention short. I started this story last week, and it was supposed to be my Friday Fright. Just 1,000 words. No more.
It’s over 9,000 words and climbing, and I’ve really no idea how long it’ll wind up.
So as I was sitting there this afternoon, just happily banging away at the keyboard, I was reveling in the power of a writer’s imagination and the places it can take me without any conscious direction. It’s like the world’s biggest movie screen and adventure ride, rolled into one.
I was happy.
Then I heard a sound from downstairs. One I recognized. Two I recognized, really. The slam of the back storm-door closing, followed by the bang of the back door itself closing.
Wow, I thought. I thought I was all alone in the house.
Then I thought about it. I’d heard the outer door close, then the inner. That meant someone had come into the house. My dad, I assumed, had come home for lunch. Then I looked at the clock.
Lunch or something, I thought. It’s only 10:20 in the morning. A little early…
So I went downstairs to see what was going on. What I found was… nobody.
I was right. I was alone in the house, and though I’d clearly heard someone coming in, there was neither a person on the ground floor, nor even a car in the driveway.
That’s odd. I could have sworn I heard…
Now, if this were a movie, this is the point where we would show a flashback to earlier in the week when I watched two movies: Paranormal Activity, and Paranormal Activity II —  a pair of haunted house movies. Said flashback would include every scene where doors swung all by themselves. Usually when no one was looking. Sometimes they swung open, but sometimes they swung closed. With a slam, or a bang.
A slam or a bang usually preceded something bad happening. Generally to the poor slob who was all alone in the house.
If this were a movie, the scene would cut back from that flashback to a shot of me, pounding up the stairs toward my office.
Which I did do.
It would show me sitting back behind my desk and tentatively tapping at the keys.
Which I did do.
It would show me pausing in said tapping, frequently, to look back over both shoulders. Just  to make sure everything back there was still right where I’d left it.
Which I did do. 
So I sit here this afternoon, unhappily banging away at the keyboard, trapped in the power of a writer’s imagination and the places it can take me without any conscious direction. It’s like the world’s biggest movie screen and scare ride, rolled into one.
I am unhappy.

I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for the doors banging like that. I’m sure my father simply came into the house noisily, only to turn right around and leave quietly. The thought that he has never left the house quietly in my adult life has flitted about my head looking for a way to get in, but I am steadfastly keeping it out.
Away, damn thought. There’s no place for you here.
I’m continuing to work in my little office upstairs, and ignoring any and all sounds I hear coming from downstairs, especially when I’m alone in the  house.
Yes, comes the thought, because that tactic worked so well for the people in the mov—
Away, damn thought. There’s no place for you here.
So anyway, I’ll keep working on scary stories up here in this little office. Because nothing is wrong. And nothing has happened.

So far.

Talk to you later… I hope.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Browsing in Faeryland - Part 2

Greetings, WYMOP readers!

Welcome to part II of my Browsing in Faeryland post! We last saw our hero... well, okay. Me. We last saw me while I was on a trip to Colorado, having made a quick stop at a used bookstore called 2nd&Charles to check out what they have, maybe browse a bit.
...two hours later, my friend SB and I are finally approaching the check-out counter with a strangely full shopping cart.

Let's rejoin the action!


As far as I can tell, there are just three ways for someone ringing up your purchases to break the news to you. Ranging from bad to worst, these are:

  1. Photo Courtesy of
    Tell you right up front and with a bang just how much you owe. This is the preferred method, as far as I’m concerned, because it’s a little like yanking off a bandage all in one go. Quick and easy, with a minimum of fuss, good for minor injuries. Excuse me, I meant totals.
  2. Tell you right up front how much you owe, followed quickly by how much you’ve saved. Whether by coupons, discounts, sales, or some combination of the three, you have managed not to pay as much as you could have. This, I have noticed, is a technique used to sometimes soften the blow, much like rubbing your skin after someone had slapped or struck it, or blowing on a blistered finger after touching a hot stove; it doesn’t do any real good, but boosts you up psychologically. Slightly. The damage is still there, you just feel a little better about it.
  3. The worst thing that can happen: They skip right past the total and tell you how much you’ve saved. “Look, I know you’ve spent”, they might as well be saying, “and we’ll get to that in a minute. But before I whack you in the face with a number that looks like it came out of the phone book, just look over here at how much you’ve saved! Isn’t that nice?”
    It’s the shopping equivalent of someone telling you to brace yourself before they punch

    you in the face. Or swing the sledgehammer, depending on just how much you spent. They’re not really helping you, they’re simply apologizing in advance. It’s a little bit like a very polite, yet violent mugging.
    I’ve seen this technique used to great effect on women, who are otherwise terrific shoppers, the effects lasting, occasionally, until long after they’ve left the store. “Look,”

    they say, waving a lengthy receipt in the air like an Olympic ribbon dancer. “I just saved $700!”
    “Wait,” I say, looking at the receipt. “This is for a new windshield. Do you even
    need a new windshield?”
    “Not yet,” they say. “But when I do…”
    “And this,” I say looking at the receipt more closely, “is for the windshield for an
    Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
    airplane. Do you even own an  airplane?”
    “But… but…” they say, “...but look!
    I just saved $700!
    Sometimes an intervention is required.

So we stepped up to the register, and the clerk (not Mr. Helpful —  he’d wandered away with a confused look on his face, clutching a book with Tinkerbell on the cover (please see Browsing in Faeryland - Part 1 (my God, did I just put parentheses within parentheses again? I hate it when I do that!))) started pulling things from our basket and lying them on the counter, trying to organize them by type, and what would help her ring them up while giving us the best coverage with regard to their sales. There were quite a few books there. And used DVDs. And I hadn’t noticed the large pile of CDs that had been hidden —  excuse me, I meant lying —  beneath all those books.
The price scanner sang.
“Okay,” she said, barely visible behind the veritable wall of small, rectangular objects piled high on her counter. I stood there, fingers crossed, repeating three little words in my head like a mantra, trying, through force of will, to make her say them.
...your total is… your total is… your total is…
“Well,” she said, “I can tell you that you just managed to save $287 with us today. Yes, sir?”
That last was directed at me, since I was waving a forefinger in the air like I had a point to make or a question to ask. In point of fact, I had neither. In actuality I had wet the finger and was now holding it aloft, trying to gauge wind direction within the store. I wanted desperately to figure out where I could stand to be “down wind” from SB and the clerk —  at least until I found out whether or not that bowel-loosening, stomach-clenching feeling I’d just had was me actually soiling my pants. Explosively.
We’d just “saved” more than my round-trip plane ticket had cost.

And that was how a simple trip to browse saved me the cost of a plane ticket, while costing me one pair of good pants.

I’m going to go read a new/used book. In my new pants.

Talk to you later!