out of the ashes

Monday, June 28, 2010

Eight

So.
I had a great weekend. I completed and first-edited 8. Very simple chapter; get Marvin out of the park and the downtown area, then get him to the Mission. So, I did.

I also started Nine. Sent it off to C for her reaction. I was dumbfounded by her remarks after she returned the doc. I won't quote her, but she seemed to like the few pages I'd written yesterday morning....umm, very much :) Thanks, Cherilyn. Thanks so much.

Well, here's 8, and a portion of 9

Eight

Marvin slipped behind a tree that was dense with leaves of light green, and with a thick trunk sporting an armor gown of rough, gray bark. He leaned against it, looking away from Colfax Avenue where the delivery truck driver and the cop stood hashing over the barely averted disaster that had nearly squashed him like a bug. His eyes beheld the columns of the amphitheater a hundred feet away bathed in colonnades of shadows and light, but the vision in his mind was fixed on the snapshot of the truck and the driver’s head visible above the cab. He searched his memory, trying to recall whether flipping off a cop was a misdemeanor. Yes, he thought, it had to be. If he was arrested, or even detained for rightly putting the cop in his place, precious minutes would slip away, and he would miss her.
He couldn’t go back yet. Neither could he risk making a run for the southern end of the park through the amphitheater. He closed his eyes and began to count; to buy a minute or two.
“One thousand and one, Colorado. One thousand and two, Colorado. One thousand and three, Colorado…”
One thousand two hundred-twenty three Colorados later he turned and peered out, clenching the rough bark of the tree with all ten fingers. The right eye emerged first, and then the left, very slowly. He was good at this game of hide and seek, having had a king’s ransom of practice over the years.
The truck was gone. The patrol car was gone. He hoped—it was all such a blur.
Damn! Gotta’ do somethin’ about you guys…

Traffic along Colfax Avenue was thickening, and pedestrians seemed to appear out of nowhere, stepping out of city buses, rounding corners, flooding into the maze of buildings like hoards of little ants crawling over one another with money-making seeds in their pincers. From somewhere in the distance a clock in a bell tower chimed eight times.
DAMN! No time to lose. Legs, let’s get movin’!
He darted across the soft green lawn toward the street light years away, running the scenario through his head.
Amy…that’s your name, right? I’m Marvin. You don’t know me…well, yes ya’ do, but you don’t realize it yet.
He huffed, starting to gasp a little for more air. Fifty light years lay behind him, only fifty more to go.
He saw that she was not going to slap him and run away. He continued, walking beside her through the throng of people on the sidewalk.
Oh, no, don’t pay no attention to how I’m dressed. I got better clothes back home…
She suddenly eyed him with suspicion, indignity, and disinterest. How could she not help looking at his shitty trench coat, his filthy tee-shirt and trousers, and his bare feet? She began to lengthen her stride. He was losing her.
Imagination!
Tell it like it is. Just cut to the chase.
Hey, you don’t know it yet, but you and me are gonna’ get married. I…I… This was the hard part. I’m in love with you, Amy, whatever your last name is.
That made her stop. It most assuredly did. He felt her beautiful little hand crash into his cheek before she muttered something foul-sounding. And then she rushed off.
Marvin arrived at the street and bent over with his hands on his thighs to catch his breath.
That weren’t so good. Think, Marvin.
He focused on the problem at hand instead—getting back across the busy street without a replay in reverse, with a tragic ending this time. He did not want to find himself searching, waiting forlornly for her, with a set of wings flapping in the morning air. As he waited with his toes flexed on the edge of the curb for a break in the parade of cars and trucks, he wondered why angels needed wings at all? Who dreamt that up?
Who cares.
Oh God, make her late…just enough so’s I can catch a glimpse of her. That goddam cop.
Sorry, didn’t mean that. The goddam part, anyway.
Casper the Friendly Ghost don’t have wings…

The eastbound traffic died at the light and he took off, only to be stopped at the center of the street by the westbound rush of cars. An empty McDonald’s wrapper wadded up into a ball came zinging out of nowhere and struck him in the nose. The driver of the Toyota sedan who had thrown it waved out the window at him and went his way, amused at the insult.
“Yeah, go ahead and laugh at me. Go ahead. But I’m gonna’ do great things startin’ pretty soon here. You’ll see.”
Marvin waited impatiently as the westbound traffic crawled past him, and the eastbound kicked into gear again, whizzing past his rear end like shining buzzsaws. He felt the little whirlpools of air climb up his legs, begging him to take a step backward. Eventually, as the long minute hand of the clock spun forward at a dizzy pace, he reached the other side and walked through the line of men and women to the spot he had occupied half an hour ago. They gave him wide berth, as if he carried the plague.
He took his place outside the women’s boutique, scanning the faces that went by. Ten minutes elapsed alongside a hundred different complexions; beautiful, some were—handsome, plain, laughing, well-dressed or casual. Amy was not among them. He had missed her. But, just as well. He let his eyes fall to his clothing and his bare feet, that for all he knew stank.
I need some new clothes. By God, I’m gonna’ clean myself up and come back here tomorrow. When she sees me again I’ll look like Clark fuckin’ Gable! No, Errol Flynn. Yeah, him.
Marvin moped away in the direction of the street once again. Disconsolate, and yet happy that he had evaded a set of handcuffs and hadn’t gotten smashed under a truck. Happy that soon he would be transformed into a movie idol. How could Amy not fall headlong into his arms then?
Christ Almighty, Clark Gable…he was uglier’n a mudpost! Flynn. Yeah, that’s me…
Unbeknownst to Marvin Fuster, Mr. Errol Flynn had passed on thirty-one years ago. He was physically just a pile of bones now. Somewhat less than Marvin, but not by much.
Imagination, my good man. Imagination.
Amy.





Nine

Marvin returned later that day with a new sense of purpose to the place he loathed more than the inside of any confessional. The Salvation Army Mission on Tenth Avenue and Bannock. It was only six blocks away from Civic Center Park, and had many years ago been a large private residence covering two full-sized city lots, plus another fifty feet on one side where lawn and flower beds and Weeping Willow trees grew in wild abandon. The Army purchased it a dozen years ago after the eccentric widow—a certain Mrs. Marybelle Stump who maintained it like a macabre Hollywood movie set—finally left the world for supernatural parts unknown.
An hour after sitting through the reading of the will, her smiling heirs promptly threw it into the hands of a real estate broker, who promptly threw it out to the public listed as “…one of Denver’s finest, charming old haunted houses, with a view of the Pacific.” He meant Rockies.
No one of the Army believed in ghosts, although they were certain, to a Major, that God existed, that He had a Son, and that the Son desired them to buy and renovate the ramshackle dwelling (the home of rats and spiders and cockroaches…and ghosts). They were intrigued, also, by the promise of a stunning view from the balcony facing west.
The overgrown lawn, the trees that bent their limbs clear to the ground, and the weed-infested flowerbeds disappeared soon after the new spiritual owners got their hands on the deed. The dilapidated wrought iron fence encircling the corner lot was ground up into a huge rusty ball and carted off to the dump.
Inside, moldy carpet was whisked away revealing solid oak floors beneath. A host of memory-laden doors with children’s names etched into the edges and on the six inch-wide casings were treated to sledgehammers, and then lugged away in splinters. Lathe and plaster walls fell in storms of dust, and in their place a grand central dining/Gospel room emerged, complete with speckled linoleum tiles that a battalion of indigents could not possibly damage. And a wooden pulpit.
The pulpit stood imperially, despite its plainness, dead center of the room at one end, between a pair of grand windows that had once belonged separately to two of the six bedrooms of the house, before the wall dividing them was unceremoniously removed. A King James Version of the Bible sat prominently on the top of the pulpit, and it was opened and read from by the major in charge of those souls whose bellies he and his staff had just filled—three times each day. The same as any of the great preachers of old would have done in his stead.
The issue for Marvin: if you ate here in the cafeteria, you were obliged to listen to the word of God—and it sometimes included the dreaded book of…
Numbers !
…wherein, “…of the children of…” quickly lost all meaning, except for biblical scholars and genealogy sleuths, of which very, very few sat in the folding chairs in front of the Major. It did not seem to bother the Major during any of these readings that the snoring was often louder than the spoken word of the Almighty.
Marvin tactfully entered the front doors at 4:45. The Men’s shower would most likely be silent, and another hour would pass before the dinner bell rang…
(c) Patrick Sean Lee-2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Back to poor Marvin

I finished Seven. The introduction of John and John. I'll wait for my reviews and see what they think.
So, in the meantime I moved on, back to Marvin. I have to get him under the wheels of Maribeth's roadster. But, I wrote a problem in, back there in Chapter 6. She has her Mercedes locked on top of a fire hydrant in Cheesman Park! Can't very well run over Marvin without a car. Hey! Maybe I have them meet in some other way...after he torches the Men's Clothing Store! ?? Daddy is p.o.ed big time at his daughter, which sets the tone perfectly for Maribeth to sneak Marvin into the Mansion. Hmm...

Anyway, here's the rest of 7, then I'll put in 8 right beneath it.

She let the Bauer file slip down onto the desk again and reached for them. Two or three stems of daisies had already begun to droop their heads. Delilah’s spindly fingers were twitching, nervously she thought, taking them from his outstretched hand. She looked up into his face. His cheeks were rouge-red. She could almost feel the heat emanating from them. His lips had curled just slightly, and his eyes had a schoolboy beseeching quality suddenly, as though he wasn’t at all sure she wouldn’t scorn him and return them.
“You are a darling, John. Thank you so much. They’re beautiful.” Even though they were not. “I’ll find a vase…that was so thoughtful of you.”
Roget was near, hovering at the end of the desk. He peered between them at the flowers, then turned his gaze to John, who it seemed might need a steadying hand, to Amy who was smiling, and then back again to the urchin bouquet. A quick breath, a passing of his fingertips across the blooms was all that it would take. The flowers would enjoy a resurrection; a re-erection, he mused with a smile. But he thought, no. Amy was about to raise the indigent Marvin from the dead. Her touch would be enough with simple, wilting flowers. He brought his fingertips near her already shining hair instead. That was close enough, he was certain. The air in the small room seemed charged suddenly; the light taking on a warm, golden glow around her face and shoulders and chest. The strange phenomenon brought a rush of goosebumps that danced from her toes to every strand of hair on her head. Her delicately molded cheeks went suddenly white hot. Her fingers tingled. The blossoms responded, as though they’d sucked up a pot of super-octane water drawn from the wells of heaven. Which in a way they had.
What had a moment ago been a clutch of sickly flowers with puny, yellowing stems and stringy leaves, were now robust kings and queens that would have made the most profoundly glorious rose blush and fall to its thorny knees in any garden.
Amy stood weak-kneed and stunned at the waves of hyper-driven tingles that continued to swell beneath the soft layer of her skin, in a momentary trance, seeing bursts of stars in front of her eyes. John Delilah’s jaw dropped. His owlish eyes popped straight and opened wide. He let the briefcase he had been holding with fingers clenched around the handle as if it had been his soul preparing to vacate the shell of his body fall helplessly to the carpet at his feet.
She blinked once, twice, and then a third time, until her vision cleared. Amy glanced at the bouquet quickly, and then over to John. His shoulders were drooping forward. He had seen many strange and wondrous things in his life, but nothing like this.
“John?”
“Holy smoke,” was all he could manage in return. Holy something at any rate.
“Amy! Where’s the Bauer deposition?” Sampson’s booming voice broke the trances. “I’m due at McDougal’s office in an hour. Hustle it up.”
“Yes sir,” she said in a whisper, staring at Delilah, wondering if he could come up with an explanation. He stared back, wondering if she might be able to do the same.
“I’d better get him a vase…or the, uh…something,” she said, lowering the flowers onto her desk.
John?
(c) Patrick Lee-2010

Well, maybe not. Eight is several pages

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Amy and John and John

It seemed there for a couple of days that I was writing backwards. I cut the opening paragraph, then two more the following night. Cut it all last night and started over. Rough first draft here--I'll get some feedback soon and do the revisions. But the introduction of two key players is at least underway. Gosh...all I have to do is get this one completed, go back to Marvin and Maribeth "meeting", and then I'm finished.
Except or the final revision of the whole ms. Yech.

Seven


Amy left the Highgate apartment complex and walked north along the sidewalk in the shadows of the towering elms on either side of the street. A familiar route through the old neighborhood of Capitol Hill, the once-mecca of society’s elite—Molly Brown and Mattie Silks tended flowers, presidents, and lascivious pursuits here, long before the word suburb was given birth in a corporate water closet, precipitating mass flight, and the plummet of property values.
Her route took her north, out of the forest of elegant old homes, to Colfax Avenue. Then west, past the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on her right, and a block farther, Governor Richard Harris’ office in the State Capitol Building on her left
Harris would soon arrive at the Capitol Building, before Maribeth hit the ignition and roared out of the mansion driveway to pick up Mags, but not before Amy entered the lion’s den of Sampson and Delilah, Attorneys at Law, with a shield in one hand and a rose in the other.
The office was on the third floor of the Court Building, a six story dwarf compared to the younger towers surrounding it, facing south overlooking Civic Center Park. There, a stone’s throw away, verdant expanses of grass, wide, meandering walkways, and, at the far end, the Greek amphitheater provided a pleasant atmosphere where Amy often sat in quiet to nibble on her lunches of vegetables and read a book, in preparation for the endless afternoons. The whitewater hours.
From either of the two attorneys’ offices, the view was spectacular. The park and surrounding public buildings were laid out in warm weather clothing, now. Summer would give way to riots of color and chill breezes and the crackle and swirl of falling leaves. Finally Winter would descend in a fairytale white, a cloak of ermine and crystal covering everything, with lovers pressed close as one as they walked. Contrast this to the fluorescent lit, Musack dull, stale d├ęcor, smell of airwicks-office. The Sampson presence overwhelming meek Delilah. Each day of the workweek was a half-purgatory, and the season never changed.
John was there when she arrived at seven forty-five. John Sampson, that is. Very early, even for the boss whose pungent greeting the first day of her employment had ended with the words that set the tenor for her future in his office. “You realize, Amy, time is money.” Pause and leer. “I like your dress.”
Psycho.
Today he stood with a saturnine look on his face at her desk in the reception area between his office and the hallway, holding the small, framed photo of her and Dann Berkshire. Mags had snapped the picture at Lake Mead a year ago when things with him were still…still, meaningful, she remembered. A feeling of resentment at John holding it caused her cheeks to flush.
John glanced across the desk, but made no comment about the photograph. He set it back atop the desk as though the subtle invasion of her effects was his unspoken right. He hadn’t been admiring the image of Dann standing tan and healthy and smiling in the sand, with herself perched on his back, arms draped across his shoulders and chest. Laughing at a joke she’d long since forgotten, just uttered by Mags. John Sampson seemed almost to be scowling. Of course he knew nothing of Dann, or how and why the first man she had really loved had gone away. He only knew that whoever this person in the photo was, Amy was close to him. It fired something inside him.
Amy stopped and met his eyes. There was a moment of coldness, as when inquisitor and accused size one another up. When the power of the one bears down on the helplessness of the other.
“You’re early,” he stated flatly.
“I’m behind in the billings. I thought I’d get a jump on the morning…finish them up first thing.”
He raised his eyebrows, and then changed course, and smiled. “Yes, cash flow.” He turned after an interminably long pause and walked across the room toward his office. At the door he stopped and glanced back at her, letting his eyes travel the length of her.
“Get me the Bauer deposition.” Then he added, “Who’s the guy in the picture?”
She felt naked in that blink of time it took to compose an answer. What kind of question was that, thrown at her in the steel tone of voice he was a master at? She had known Sampson for three years, and knew that he was really asking two quite different questions. Who’s the flake? Are you sleeping with him?
“Just a friend.” Amy set her purse on top of the desk and shot a look at the back of the photo frame, sitting six inches away from where it had been before; the neat piles of paperwork left last evening pushed this way and that. Her desk and her work, not personal property, and yet rifled through outside her presence. “I’ll bring you the deposition.” She left him staring over at her back and crossed around the desk to pull it from the stack of folders.
Good morning.
His light blue eyes, narrow by practice and possessing no warmth, piercing her, she knew without looking at him. She smelled the residue of his aftershave lingering as she flipped through the folders searching for “Bauer” on the tabs. The musky…was it a musky odor? No, too sharp. Too penetrating. Something else, unpleasant. She heard his door latch shut.
I’ve got to get out of here…
“Good morning, Amy!”
The river plunged beyond the cataracts, suddenly calm, wider and peaceful. John Delilah flew through the opened door, briefcase in one hand, a shock of daisies and carnations choked in the other. The knot of his tie was terribly wrong; his suit coat hung wrinkled at the sleeves . He jabbed the flowers at Amy with that crooked, friendly smile that always brought her back to the calm, gentler current.
“For you! I…umm, I got them from a vendor down the block. You know, by the parking lot. Down there. Where I park. He had buckets full of them. Here. They’re for you.”
In her presence, first thing in the mornings, he fumbled for words. Always. He was an inch or two taller than his impeccably groomed partner, an Ichabod Crane set against Brad Pitt. Lanky, nearly emaciated looking, and the left eye stuck too closely to the beginning of the narrow bridge of his nose. But all of this when coupled with his smile formed a childlike portrait—a scribble of innocence and decency that Amy found disarming at times.
He'd brought her flowers. Not two dozen roses wrapped in a florist’s perfect box with a note in flowing script on an embossed card. “Dinner and drinks tonight?” Embarrassingly humble white daisies and pink carnations gasping for breath, with a simple exclamation. “For you!”
For her, with no strings. The difference in the river's temperament in a matter of yards.
She let the Bauer file slip down onto the desk again and reached for them. Two or three stems of daisies had already begun to droop their heads. Delilah’s spindly fingers were twitching, nervously she thought, taking them from him. She looked up into his face. His cheeks were rouge-red. She could almost feel the heat emanating from them. His lips had curled just slightly, and his eyes had a schoolboy beseeching quality suddenly, as though he wasn’t at all sure she wouldn’t scorn him and return them.
“You are a darling, John. Thank you so much. They’re beautiful.” Even though they were not. “I’ll find a vase...that was so thoughtful of you.”
Roget was near. He peered between them at the flowers, then turned his gaze to John, to Amy, and then back again to the urchin bouquet. A quick breath, a passing of his fingertips across the blooms was all that it would take. The flowers would enjoy a resurrection; a re-erection, he mused with a smile. But he thought, no. Amy was about to raise the indigent Marvin from the dead. Her touch would be enough with simple, wilting flowers. He brought his fingertips near her already shining hair instead.

(c) Patrick Lee 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Okay, So...

...So I've got Amy into the office, with a minimum of proselytizing and spiritual conjecture. It only took a couple of paragraphs to get her up the street, past the cathedral and the State Capitol building, and then up the elevator to the third floor. Sampson and Delilah, Attorneys at Law. Whew!
Now, John Sampson is standing at her desk with several file folders in hand. Pleadings. I had to re-google that one again. Sooooo...what does overbearing, lustful John say to her? Or what does she say to John?
"Hello, Amy."
"Hi, John."
"It's a beautiful morning, isn't it?"
"Yes, John, it is a beautiful morning."
"You look ravishing in that short, white dress with your black pumps and satin blouse. The way you've fixed your shining auburn hair--letting it fall over one eye so deliciously..."
"Oh, John, really. I was looking at your six foot-four frame and your sandy-blond hair. The chiseled features of your face and ravenous look in your eyes, set a little too deeply for my comfort. But, what are you doing rummaging through my files?"
"Well, Amy, technically they're not your files..."

Good grief, sometimes it's IMPOSSIBLE.

I"ll get it. I'll get it. I just have to "become" an attorney for a few minutes. I guess.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Seven

I started Seven...I dunno', two or three days ago. Amy is off to the office--the introduction chapter of John Delilah and John Sampson.
So I do a little back story about Roget as an introduction--he's "watching" over Amy. That's pretty much okay except it got into this rambling theological back-at-the-beginning-of-the-Big-Bang thing. Chopped most of that as it was authorial anyway. The thrust of the chapter is simply to get Amy into the office and interacting with her two bosses. No big deal.
The creation of the universe isn't enough, though, so I wind up introducing a neighbor who wears a toupee and always tries to sidle up to Amy...and on and on and on. Four pages of her LEAVING the complex. Hey, wait. Who cares about how and why God created the universe and about Darnell Shiegs, the dorky neighbor anyway? Just get her to the office!

I cut four pages.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday Morning

I feel kind of like one of my angels this morning. Anselm, maybe.
I soared upward yesterday on virgin wings, beyond the clouds to the very edge of the sky where the view is breathtaking; to that place so few men and women ever get to see with the naked eye. I saw thousands and thousands of stars and planets I'd never seen before; comets streaking everywhere. Inviting and hopeful. Having looked out at the wonder and beauty of it for awhile--smiling, taking deep breaths, pinching myself, I began the descent slowly. Not gazing down at the mountains and oceans and cities growing larger and larger with every passing moment, but back up at where I'd been. I know that I can return there someday and see the beauty of everything God created from that different and awe-filled vantage point again. All I have to do is believe and continue doing what I love to do.

I feel the earth at my feet, now. Softer today. Peaceful.

I "spoke" at length with the editor of SOTN yesterday afternoon and last evening. I was worried that my barrage of questions was taking her away from her duties. Reading the hundreds of queries and shorts that she must receive each day. She was very gracious, and told me a bit of the history of the magazine; a little about her place in it. I liked that. Although it's small, I think it's one of those little gems that will grow in stature as time goes on. Odd. I haven't yet read any of the back issues; haven't seen what the other authors write (but I will, soon). The thing that first struck me was the cover art. Beautiful. I googled the names of several of the contributors and was pleasantly surprised to see that many of them have excellent resumes of their writing, and multiple books published over the years--not at vanity presses! Legitimate places. Real writers. My apologies to any of you who self-publish. That's fine, it's just not how I want to do it.

I received many "Congratulations" emails yesterday! Gratifying, so gratifying. Trish sent me a neat little card--thanks! Pammy smiled when I walked in the door. I think she was proud of me. She asked so many interesting questions.
Cherilyn was overjoyed!
I didn't work on my book last night, savoring the moment. Well, yes I did. I removed a comma from one of the sentences in Chapter Seven that I'd placed there the day before :) Tonight I get back to work, glancing up again at the sky, between the commas. Very thankful I'm even able to imagine.

Imagination was the last. Perplexing. The only thing he could imagine was feeling the touch of Amy’s fingers on his cheek, and her eyes fixed longingly on his.
“You’re cruel, whatever you are. Where’s the word Impossible?” he moaned.
The tree responded in a lowing voice. “There is no such word in my branches. Go, now. Understand what you’ve been given. Never lose sight of it. Find her.”
“I don’t understand! What do they mean? How will they make her love me?”
“Use the last word first. Go.”
And so, Marvin did. He turned and began his journey up the hill with two words in his hands, the other tucked into his grimy shirt next to his heart. He gazed down at Imagination for many steps. At length, at a loss as to how it could possibly figure into his dilemma, he did the one thing he nor anyone else in the world could ever have imagined he would do. He looked up into the teal sky and said, “Dear God, help me.”

Off to work.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Today

They liked my story. They want to publish it.
I'm so happy. How many rejections I received over the years.
I might just be a fine writer. Maybe. If I continue and not lose faith.
I'm happy today. So happy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Exposition

I'm reading. Thinking out loud...
I think I need to inject something more about/of Roget into the first paragraph of Seven.
Maybe..."They came to be in...was at once horrific and magnificent. Roget saw it all." Or something like that. It would remove the long paragraph from strict exposition. I think. I DON'T KNOW! Just don't know.
I'll keep refining, but first, back to Amy going off to work, with Roget at her side. Complete the chapter, then edit again. And again. And if necessary...again.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Seven

I'm moving :) Roget will accompany Amy today. A little back story about him. Hope it works.


Seven

This was Roget’s first full day on planet Earth, planet anyplace in The Milky Way in fact. His celestial life, and it was long by any standard of measure, had been spent caring for the needs of sentient beings developing in the inner reaches of the universe, near the center. Nearest Heaven. Axis Celesti. The galaxies here were the latest to be brought into existence in that micro-second fourteen billion years ago when God spoke. They came to be in super-heated clouds of hydrogen, the breath of the Creator that was at once horrific and magnificent. Systems filled with the anger of heat, the collision of young stars that incinerated the rocky cores of worlds circling them, everything in apparent disarray. Black holes sucked matter and light near them into a raging whirlpool of crushed atoms and photons, back to the point of nothingness. The far off surviving planets cooled over eons under the watchful eye and unbounded love of God and His stewards, and life began.
Whereas Anselm sat in the class of simple angels, Roget stood amongst the Principalities, that choir created to introduce art and science and inspiration to every species capable of reaching up to God, back to the unfathomable mind that had nurtured their beginnings. The angel knew what it was to touch the primitive thoughts of the gentle creatures inhabiting a lush and watery world in the binary system of Rigel, their complex power of reasoning having just awakened. He walked among the elephantine herds on an unnamed planet circling Mu Arae, noting thought arising. He saw Hominids gazing skyward at Archernar in wonderment, ready.
Grace was the same everywhere, like gravity. It was within his providence to dispense it, in accordance with his Father’s desires, and he did so to certain among them, hoping its power took root. Often it did not, and so he would try again and again until it finally stuck. Now he was with his old friend, Anselm, not to awaken genius, but to help raise a lowly derelict from ruin. Or so he thought at first.
The soft breath across Amy’s face last evening had been a digression. Roget had stepped aside for a moment and pushed her into Marvin’s dream, a move he was certain would bear fruit in the weeks ahead, though his decision to intervene was a step outside the parameters of his instructions—“Go, find her. Find out everything about her. Keep her safe while I figure out what to do with him.” He was secondary to Anselm whom God had selected for reasons undisclosed to lead the mission, and that was fine. That was fine, because it was what the Creator desired. Perhaps it could be said: Angels are smarter than men.
Amy locked the door behind her, dropped the keys into her purse, and then adjusted the strap on her shoulder.
(c) Patrick Lee-2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Here's How I'll Show It

Anselm leapt from the hood and swooped behind Mags. He reached around her and placed a hand on top of hers, then as easily as if he were lifting a flower from a vase, brought Maribeth Harris out of the mud, shoe and all. His body and wings enveloped the two young women, which sent a momentary shudder racing through him when they fell through him to the grass.
Mags felt a blinding sensation the moment Anselm’s hand had touched hers. Something frightening, for those few seconds, heretofore outside her sensory experience in the physical world. Frightening, yet joyful and comforting. Star hot, yet frigid. Soft, yet diamond hard. Falling backward through the angel’s chest and abdomen, the warm waves of Tahiti met the fury of Cape Horn’s. Her vision tingled from the shock of a flashbulb erupting, her ears picked up Brahms and AC/DC, intermixed and lovely. Sensible. Shockingly impossible.
The angel stepped away, uncertain in his universe of simpler makeup and emotions for the first time. Accomplish the task assigned, but be wary of coming into contact with the fruit of the tree. He shook the uncomfortable feeling away, but he wondered at its power, the alluring aspect of it. He thought of the Angel Of Light.
No.

(c) Patrick Sean Lee-2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010

To heck with it

Listening to Brahms symphony # 3 in F-Major, Opus 90. It's nothing in mood compared to Chapter Six, almost the exact opposite. But, it's incredibly gorgeous. I never realized Johannes had written anything so filled with beauty. Sure, the lullaby, but... I want to write like he composed. Him, too. I won't give up.

Here's 6, up to where I am, anyway.
I wasn't going to publish any more of my new portions, but what the heck.

Anselm meets Maribeth...

Six

Maribeth Harris, the governor’s daughter, twenty-one come September, five-four, maybe five, blonde, eccentric, brilliant but too young to know it, a lover of lost or hopeless causes, beautiful in a James Dean sort of way, and a terrible driver. Someone Anselm could make use of in his two times two equals ten method of calculation with these beings.
Angels are no smarter than men or women—simply more obedient, less distracted, and much better traveled.

He’s going to have to vacate the underside of that dock. But, where should I put him? Have him put himself? The rescue missions are no good, he’d wind up killing someone.
Anselm sat deep in thought atop a stone bench. The bench stood amidst a bed of dazzling, colorful flowers running alongside the narrow asphalt road winding through Cheesman Park, a few blocks to the east of the downtown area. It was nine-fifteen in the morning. A Colorado morning, a Denver morning that was impossibly exquisite—resting as the city did just below the ceiling of the world like a pearl in a silver mount.
Marvin was sleeping soundly, with a spike holding him securely down. Roget had Amy’s hand in his, even if she was unaware of it. The situation was two-thirds under control, but where to put Marvin? Where might he be planted that he could truly blossom?
A sparrow with a worm in its mouth shot in a blur from the sky and perched on Anselm’s knee, though in the physical world his tiny claws clung firmly to thin air—six inches above the cool stone surface of the bench. The little creature rested for a moment and studied him, offering the angel, perhaps, a piece of her chicks’ breakfast with a quick twist of her head that made the worm’s body whiplash. No? She whisked away again toward her nest in an elm thirty feet away, leaving the angel to sit quietly, considering Marvin’s housing dilemma.
Anselm failed to notice Maribeth Harris racing along the road on her way through the park to visit Maggie. The governor’s daughter was in a hurry, as usual, and drove her Mercedes coupe, top down, stereo blasting Phish for all the world to enjoy along with her. Maggie, a close friend from Denver University, was leaving for the airport at ten-thirty, and Maribeth was late to taxi her there. Seventy-five feet away from Anselm, her cell phone sang out from its pocket in her purse, a monstrosity of denim and sequins lying on the passenger seat beside her.
“Damn, that’s probably Mags…” She reached with her right hand, yanked the top open and thrust the hand into the well of it. Searching through the contents for the phone, shifting her eyes from the road ahead to the purse. Windshield and road beyond quickly. Purse. Windshield glaring. Purse again. Edge of pavement at forty-five miles per hour.
Anselm turned his head and watched as the flowers fell like soldiers under a withering barrage of machine gun fire. In a blink the front end of the roadster sheered the bench he was sitting on. It passed through him, over the grate and crunch of disintegrating cement, and came to a lurching stop on the decapitated remains of a fire hydrant five feet away.
The hiss and roar of five hundred gallons of water per minute blasting the bottom of the engine block quickly followed. The call on Maribeth’s phone went to a drowned out message.
"HI, Mare. This is Mags. Just wondered if you were…Ohmagod, hold on, I just heard a horrible crash over in the park…”
Maribeth sat in the aftermath riveted to the seat back, her eyes like owl’s, hands in a death grip on the wheel, and her legs fully pistoned on the pedals—brake and accelerator, yin and yang. The torrent of water, unable to drive its way through the dense block and crinkled metal of the hood found its way out through other, more convenient orifices. It gushered sideways through the wheel wells in a spray to rival the bursting of Hoover Dam, and forward like a thousand fire hoses aimed point-blank at the smashed grill. It finally awakened her.
“Oh—shit! Daddy’s going to kill me this time!”
This time was number three. The first was two years ago, at midnight, on a dare from Mags and Jonathon to run the diagonal across the park lawn. An officer was at the other end of the hypotenuse, sitting with the lights off in his patrol car. Daddy had to quietly fix the careless driving ticket.
The second time was five months ago in broad daylight at five below zero, on black ice, here in the park, not far away. The Mercedes—Daddy’s that time—did a series of swift and graceful twirls, but to port as surely as if a strong tide had locked it in its grip. The sparkling snowcapped handrail of the bridge the car was about to cross brought the sleek, formerly undamaged SL to a halt. Maribeth blamed the entire mishap on Mayor Copperfield’s legion of useless maintenance workers who hadn’t sanded and salted the road properly, and that was somewhat true. But she had been cruising along, again, toward Mag’s house, watching a jet silently swimming in a silver gleam thousands of feet above her. Thirty-five in a fifteen zone, with a jogger enjoying the frozen morning directly in her path, enjoying the passage of the jet herself as she ran.
The lady survived with only a severe case of heart palpitations, but the driver’s side door of Richard Harris’ automobile required expensive surgery, and the bridge rail had to be replaced.
Careless driving. Reckless endangerment. Destruction of city property.
“That’s the last time, young lady!”
It seems it was not.
Leaving the thorny problem of Marvin for the moment, Anselm breezed the few feet to the roadster impaled on the remains of the hydrant. He found it curious, this incident. Had the young woman somehow seen him and aimed the vehicle directly at him? Disregarded the damage that would be done to the fragile body of the car by the stone bench? Certainly she must have known she could not hurt him—if she had, in fact, seen him.
It was not unheard of that a physical being could at times catch a glimpse of a spirit. It had happened often enough on other worlds, and the writings of the earthlings themselves documented the same.
He hovered over her, then flitted his enormous wings and moved to the front outside the windscreen, wondering if she would react. She did not, at least to him. Maribeth bit her lower lip and stared straight ahead through the body of the angel in a kind of hypnotic vacancy. Anselm peered into her thoughts. Curious, indeed.
Damn! Damn, damn, DAMN! Stupid phone. Stupid, stupid me. How could I have…he’s going to murder me! Accident. This time just an accident. Wasn’t speeding. Too much.
Oh, Mother of God, help me.

Mother of God? But He has no mother, Anselm smiled. He is Mother. Poor Mary back there in Heaven having to blush at these prayers every other second for two thousand years. But who knows, he thought, maybe she'd run to the throne this time, red-faced but moved by the plea. She carried a lot of weight back home, it was true. Such a sweet girl herself, with the fathomless heart of a mother. And her smile. He'd listen if she asked.
Maribeth slammed the heels of her hands on the steering wheel after a few more long seconds of alternately cursing her luck and praying to anyone listening. She finally opened the door angrily. The water continued to jet out from beneath the car, creating a swimming pool in the remains of the flowerbed, overflowing in a merry stream onto the asphalt. She stepped into the soft ooze of mud, her left foot sinking into it up to her ankle. So long Prada flats.
“Crap!”
A pair of bicyclists circling the park happened upon the scene and stopped immediately when they saw the Mercedes straddling the gush of water, the remains of the bench, the devastated flowerbed that had stood in her path. And they saw Maribeth looking down, trying to work her way out of the mud, muttering to herself. The man gently let his racer fall to the grass on the far side of the road, then ran on tiptoes through the stream as though it were hydrochloric acid.
“You okay? What happened?” he asked from the edge of the pavement where he had stopped.
She raised her head and shot a look at him. Her blue eyes flashed imploringly.
“I lost my shoe!”
Shoe? Anselm chuckled, leaning sideways with the tips of his wings lifting quickly, like the primaries of a Kestrel readying the body for lift off.
“Shoe?” the man asked, slightly confounded.
“Here in the mud! God, they cost a fortune. I can’t believe this happened!”
“Do you…your shoe? I’d think that’s the least of your worries. Are you all right? What happened?”
The female rider joined him at the edge of the pool of water on the pavement, grabbing hold of his muscled arm at the elbow. She lifted her Vuitton shades onto her brow and shook her head sadly. The woman appreciated Maribeth’s sense of loss. Expensive shoes, God forbid.
“I lost a Gucci once. I nearly cried. Well, I did,” she said to Maribeth.
“They’re Pradas! Brand new!”
“Oh, no. That’s simply tragic.”
“What about the car!” he said.
From the east, across the expanse of lawn, another young woman sprinted toward the scene in the bright sunlight. Anselm glanced over at her. She wore denim shorts, cuffed at the upper thigh, and a magenta blouse tied in a loose bow knot above her navel. The woman ran athletically, with long, barefoot strides, leaning forward. Her full lips formed an O as she sucked in air and handfuls of consternation. The red hair settled in tight curls against her high cheekbones when she came to a quick stop just outside the mud field.
“Ohmagod! What happened, Mare? How on earth did you manage this one?” she cried out.
“Exactly,” the male bicyclist said. This one. This one?
“Do we need a cop?” the Gucci asked incidentally.
“My God, Pradas. You might as well just kiss them goodbye,” she raised her voice. “The water alone will have simply ruined the one stuck in the mud.”
Maribeth was busy tugging to free her foot, and at the same time keep the shoe locked halfway on it. The deluge continued, unmindful of the drama that had unfolded on its account. Anselm took it all in; the man afraid to de-cleat his own feet and go to the unfortunate girl’s assistance. His vacuous friend. The latest arrival hardly breathing heavier than if she’d ambled slowly across the park. The blonde named Maribeth who seemed less worried at the moment about the someone who was going to kill her than the necessity of retrieving a shoe.
“Oh God, Mags…I’m so sorry I was on my way over to your place and I knew I was late I was speeding just a little when the phone rang it was in my purse and I went to find it and lost the road and then my shoe my brand new Prada no less and Daddy’s going to friggin’ kill me. SHIT!”
That about said it all, in less time, too, than it had ever taken Maribeth to say, “Bless us, oh Lord, and these thy gifts.”
“Jeez-Louise, Mare. You and your driving. Here, let me help you get out.” Mags took a step forward through the water on the lawn to the beginning of the super-saturated mud pit and her friend. She leaned far forward, extending her hand.
“Don’t worry about Richie. I’ll make up some cock and bull story to get you out of this one. Here, take hold.”
Richie? The murderer-to-be? Daddy? Anselm brought a finger to his chin and wondered. He looked at the expensive car, the girl. Where could this go?
Maribeth was nearly calf-deep, refusing to abandon the shoe. Mags drew back, grimacing and pulling. Digging her heels in and grimacing. Pulling.
“Hey you over there. Can ya’ maybe give me a hand?”
The biker looked quickly at his friend. Not directed to her, he was pretty certain. He looked back at Mags, and then lowered his eyes to the flood of water beneath his cleats.
“Uhh…”
Anselm leapt from the hood and swooped behind Mags. He reached around her and placed a hand on top of hers, then as easily as if he were lifting a flower from a vase, brought Maribeth Harris out of the mud, shoe and all. His body and wings enveloped the two young women as they stepped backward, which sent a momentary shudder racing through him.
Mags…
What, what, what???? What shiver runs through her???????? How do I show it?
(c) Patrick Sean Lee-2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Music and writing

Some of us like Rock. Others Country--Jazz (Miles Davis! OMG). As many of you know, I prefer Classical. That has nothing to do with my education, or lack of, rather my beloved older brother who influenced me in so many ways, chief among them the importance and sheer beauty of the greatest music written.
I first fell in love with Beethoven, the Pastoral Symphony, in my early twenties. Then, Tchaikovsky. Roch came soon after. Delius, Dvorak, Rimski-Korsakov. Lately Mendelssohn, Grieg, Bruch.
I often ask myself exactly what makes the greatest of the greats' music so timeless. What sets it apart? Certainly I love Sting (his last album sucked, though), Level 42, the B-52's, Little River Band, Gerry Rafferty...but, always back to Roch and the romantic era composers.
A different era, surely. Slower-paced, giving time for reflection. But I keep coming back to the fact that the vast majority of the composers were schooled (probably until their young minds felt fried) in fundamentals. Structure, formal elements, the full capabilities of each instrument--tone, chromatic harmony, dissonance. Possibilities.

Learning by experimentation (music, painting, writing) is fine, if you have a lifetime to devote to studying as you craft. The very best artists came to the fore with a solid background of fundamentals behind them. The annoying, often times boring hours of, "Here's the significance of a composition in A major. Do you understand?"
Here are the rules. Learn them well, then do something marvelous.
Will future generations place Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Lennon and McCartney...into the same pantheon as Bach, Beethoven, and Rochmaninov? I don't know. All I know for certain is there is something higher, more God-like in the classics.

I'm listening to Grieg right now; Symphonic Dance, #2, Opus 64. It will somehow invade my writing. I hope. Maybe tonight I'll relax to Glenn Shorrock. Smiling.