out of the ashes

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

It's so strangely quiet in my house this morning--Christmas Morning. Cosmo is whining for soft cat food in his tiny voice. Mocha is all excited that her master is up and about. She's hungry, too, and I'll make her a special treat when I finish up here. When we adopted her four or five years ago she was so frightened of me. Funny how time heals things.

But, it's quiet. Peacefully so. Presents lay unwrapped, smiling up at me from their spots beneath the lovely tree Pammy selected a week ago. Was it a week? I can't remember. The Topanga Canyon stay threw my mind into a dither. I worked a couple of 16-hour days while there. I shouldn't have, lol. It was quiet there, too. A different kind of quiet, though. Makes me so grateful to be home again and enjoying my family and the holiday. Connections via phone conversations (I NEVER TEXT!!!!) and emails with family out of state, and friends across the world.

It isn't quiet at Amazon Books, though. Dear Diary, A Journal From Hell all of the sudden started taking off last night and yesterday. It's being bought and read (I would assume it's being read:) by tons of people, now. I always loved that story I wrote for a Bookrix contest (and pulled before the contest closed). The journey by Terence and Teresa is fabulous, I really think. Thought. Just wish I'd given more consideration, and put more work into that opening. Still a bit "trite" compared to the rest of the story. Oh well...what did that famous author say about revisions? It's a done deal now.

I love the quiet at times. Like today. Like my life today.

Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year. 2011 has been wonderful. Thanks to all of you who have become my friends, and to all my old friends...God love you! I do.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Week!

I'm going back up to Topanga Canyon this week to work. Eighty-five miles north of my place--through L.A. traffic, coming and going. I'll spend nearly as much time on the road as I will at the jobsite. The good thing is, no one will be there except me and a rooster down the hill somewhere. I'll get a lot done this coming week. Except shopping--which I'm the world's WORST at under the best of circumstances.

I'm grateful for the work in these sketchy times. I've always said that I'll change lightbulbs or wash windows rather than sit at home, and I meant it. I kind of like to eat. I won't be changing lightbulbs, but the work isn't my usual "glorious" kind. 's-okay. It's work.

My cell phone has no service at this location! No TV, no internet. I think I'll have to camp out up there if I expect to get the job completed by Friday. I'll miss my wife and our evening conversations, miss working on my writing for an hour or so each night, miss my friends at Bookrix in the short time left before I go to sleep. You see, I did that commute for three long weeks, and it translated into leave the house at 5:15, drive, return at 7:00 that night. Exhausted.

Some good news; I mean not that being able to work isn't good news--good-er news:) I'm working on Heinz 57, my screenplay. Have been, anyway. Total rewrite. Bye-bye Laverne's lisp dialect in his dialogue exchanges. Sniff. I'm extending the scenes in which Rollo, "Beautiful" Myron, and Laverne hatch the plan to paint the cellblock at the beginning as well. It all happened too quickly in my original draft. The story is there, though, and I'll get it right. There's a BIG competition coming up in March, juried by working producers and directors from Hollywood. If the final draft is as good as I think it can be...who knows?

In addition, I'm not exactly setting a sales record with "Dear Diary, a Journal From Hell" at Amazon, but I'm selling:) 8 copies last week alone! I don't have any idea who bought them, but someone did. Someone bought my short story. You can see it if you go to Amazon Books, paste B0068R6G1Q into the search box. That's Patrick Sean Lee, not simply Patrick Lee. He's someone else. I should have put it up for $5.99 instead of $.99. I'd be close to a millionaire by now, lol. Well...

Val's book, "No Ordinary Woman", is in printing right now! She signed off on the galley proofs last week. I'm so proud of you, Val. Congrats, dear:)

Life is rich and full. Merry Christmas everyone!

Well, I'd better go shopping:)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Heinz 57

I took third :) I was stoked for Glen and Wendy; both close friends and excellent writers!

Here is one judge's comment; he runs a film school, lol. I knew Laverne's lisp in dialogue might be a problem, and if I ever converted the script to spec for submission, I would certainly do what he advised. As it was, in the script (which asked for a score inclusion!) I couldn't see Laverne "Buddy" Budd's character working effectively without inserting "dialect" fully.

Anyway, I was happy they liked it.

"The story was interesting and unique. An intriguing high concept yet it was difficult for me to get into the story because the lisp of the character made it difficult to understand what he was saying and difficult to follow the plot. If you ever tried to send this to a studio you'd want to write the dialogue without a lisp and inform the reader that the actor would be speaking with one."
Interesting that Jim noted in classes that dialect was a sketchy thing to pull off. I understood the danger.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

From

Dear Diary, A Journal From Hell at amazon.com, Kindle

30 days; 30 entries...24th day in.


March 24

Friend, diary,

Hell. It presents itself in many shades. Perhaps the entire history of once-living souls is here. I am drawn to the grays and the vicissitudes of this kingdom, and yet I am repelled. The violence, the orgies. What will the next holiday bring? Do they go down the list of deadly sins and celebrate for eons an infinitely magnified version of each? Then return to the first and begin again?

I asked him this when he appeared this morning.

“You learn quickly. Welcome, Terence. Heaven is indeed nearly empty. What was hidden under baskets by every living soul since your race began has, as prophesied, been brought to light. And so they arrive. But their arrival is their choice, as it was yours. Do you want to leave?”

“It was NOT my choice! And further, I am not leaving without her.”

“Her choice to leave or stay is hers to make, not yours. She has made it, as you shall see.”

“You’re a liar, just like all those fucking preachers said. How could she possibly want to stay in such a twisted place for all eternity?”

“You shall see soon enough.”

“You’ve drugged her.”

“Hah! The bitter bread? Fool, it’s merely bread, nothing more. What do you take me for?”

“I loathe you.”

“That is good. You can use that; build on it. Maybe convince her to loathe me, too.”

We spoke little more on our journey deeper into the city of the enlightened, the city built by millions and millions who had thrown off the constraints of morality, or any pretense of decency or goodness. Through the park, past neighborhood after neighborhood of laughing, drinking, sweating bodies willfully participating in every conceivable act of sex. I am not, nor was I ever prudish, but, dear diary, I closed my eyes in shame.

I can write no more today, except to say we finally entered a golden cathedral dedicated to the deities of lust.

“She is here,” Lucifer said. “I will bring you to her tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy the sights…if you refuse to take part. Fool.”

Tomorrow. I hate the word. I fear what I will see when it arrives. What I see now is dispiriting enough. She is here somewhere in all of this.






March 25

Diary,

I slept in a corner beneath a large painting of a penis. Better than to sleep beneath one of the other side altars commemorating their saints who evidently excelled in copulation. Upon those separate altars were couples, several on each, flowing like unholy water, undulating, panting and sweating, smiled on from above. And the rest of this cathedral. There are no pews, only a stadium-sized marble floor filled with writhing snakes of passion gone berserk. Massive columns separating the main aisle from the side aisles, with bodies pinned against them like so many moths enjoying their erotic demise.

I would have gone outside, but in every place it is the same. At least in here the air is cool, though the squeals and deep guttural echoes are loud and constant, and the invitations to join these groups has no end. Do they tire of this, or do they continue on unceasing for centuries until they finally drop from exhaustion, their lust having finally consumed them? What would happen in a different festival—say a festival of drink? Would they try to swallow every ounce of liquid available until they exploded? Or in another, eat until the city and the countrysides were laid barren?

I don’t care to learn.

Midway through the morning a young woman approached me, her hair askew, an exhausted, sleepless look about her. She asked me to follow her. She led me across the altar, through the sanctuary door, and up twenty flights of stairs (empty of celebrants, thankfully). We exited the stairwell into a lobby that took my breath away. Wide and long, and backlit by soft, glowing waterfalls of light. Punctuated with erotic statuary and paintings that could not have been more masterfully executed had Michaelangelo…no. He could not be here, I thought. Or then again…? I wondered as we walked silently toward the massive architectural door at the end whether his tastes might have drifted away from harps by the end of his life among the Medicis and sullen popes.

We entered to a scene reminiscent of the one so far below, save that all of the people here seemed infinitely younger, devoid of any of the scars of the previous, murderous festival, perfectly unaware of anything except the ritual. She lifted a hand and pointed toward the far end of the room, which was magnificently appointed, befitting the god of this kingdom, and then she numbly joined the group in front of us.

I was met by Lucifer, tall and naked, but by no means looking the worse for wear. He was smiling.

“Care to engage before you meet your Teresa again? Of course not; how silly of me. Come, then. See your love.”

He walked to a door in an alcove, opened it, and indicated that I should go in. I did. My heart fell. My heart? I have no such thing. My courage, my hope, anything good remaining of me perished when I saw her. She lay on a satiny dais many times wider and longer than our wonderful bed in the complex. Her hands were clasped behind her neck, her breasts heaved, and one knee was slightly raised, reminiscent of an odalisque in repose. Even from where I stood, trembling in yet a deeper despair, I could see that her eyes were vacant; as vacant as those of the masses outside the room.

“I leave you to her. Spin words of gold and silver to her. I can tell you this, however, they will do you little service. It was I who invented language, deceits, mesmerizing tales of…what are you so fond of calling them? Love? It was I, not him in his empty kingdom, busy enough keeping the clockworks of his universe wound and functioning. He invented you. I perfected you. Go to her.”

And then he left.

Teresa lifted her arms, stretching them out to me. I gazed around me. We were alone. I turned and went to her, taking a knee at the end of the cursed dais. My words weren’t gold or silver. They were lead.

“Get up, Teresa. I’ll take you away from this abomination. Come with me, my dearest. I beg you.”

“But why, and to where? Look around you, Terence. Is this not enough?”

“You covered yourself that first day we met. Look at yourself now.”

“I was frightened by the demons. How hideous they were. There is no fear or hideousness here. Come to me.”

I wanted to climb upon her and slap the stupor from her. Awaken her. Save her. Instead I lay down beside her and let my cheek fall to her breasts. I fell asleep rambling stupidly to a heart that had ceased to beat, her tender fingers stroking my hair.

(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rostropovich

I've tried my darndest to find this at iTunes...no luck. Youtube has it. Music to write tragedies to.
Dvorak's Cello Concerto #3, Part 4. Listen...especially the last two minutes...watch the cellist's eyes and mouth. He was totally involved on every level, interpreting Antonin Dvorak's brilliant work. The wonderful thing about classical music, especially ones like this one, is the mastery of the art by the creator, and the mastery of the performer(s)...lost in another world.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptwSu-f0Hxo&feature=related

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Contest

I was honored a month ago to have been selected to represent, with four other writers, our community in an upcoming "group e-book" to be published early next year at Amazon. The community of writers was given the challenge to write something...take a small portion of one of their books, whatever...and post it in a thread. The community voted. The votes were counted, and the top five authors were announced. The next phase of the "contest" was announced: write a short story of not longer than 3,000 words on the theme "Social Injustice." We were given several weeks to choose an area, write, and then create the book. The community is once again voting to see which of the five will have his/her name on the book's cover...I can say quite truthfully, it doesn't matter to any of us who "wins" that honor. We are all best of friends and supporters of one anothers' works.

Here is the link to one entry that I think marks the best of the best. I invite you to check it out, It's stunning.
BXID: paigecarter_1319655306.7522900105

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hmm...

I haven't posted a poem here in ages!
I got a few nice comments from readers over at Bookrix on this one:)




Go To Your Window

Go to your window, precious love.
Can you see me?
Look closely. I am there floating helplessly by.
My lips are moving, calling—but do you notice?
They search for your fingertips again.

How I long to brush my lips against them,
Hold them captive with gentlest kisses.

Oh, call out, This way! I am here!
Take hold of me—I’ve shattered the glass.
For you, lovely one, for you.
My hands are near you, take hold!
Touch them. Kiss them.


How many years, how much despair,
In blind and futile wandering, alone?

I feel as though I am in a cloud;
Blind, deaf, unable to move
Except at its whim.
I have called for you, but no sound
Escapes my locked and feverish throat.

How I crave the healing of your voice,
Open my ears with the breath of your words.

I’ve called. I call. I entreat you in darkness—
Cold, alone, disconnected, moving upward, now.
No…no, downward. Oh, I cannot tell.
I am blind, I am mute. Near to dying.
Desperately in search of you.

Lift my lifeless ghost from abandoned hope,
Become my flesh and golden path.

I know that even with eyes stolen by your beauty,
Words hidden in the mist of separation,
Your sighing trapped in silence
By some mysterious cruelty I cannot comprehend,
I will find you. I will happen upon your window.

Do you see love’s brilliant sunrise?
Azure eyes that color my pale firmament?

Go to your window, precious lover.
Find me. Reach out!
I am deathly naked, floating somewhere near you.
Searching for your arms, your fingertips,
Sighing for your stomach…

How I long to brush my tongue across you,
Taste the sweetness of your perfect skin once more.

Shatter the distance between us.
Reach out, find me…I am near.
Say to me, Here is that which you desire.
Here I am. Touch me—take my hands in yours,
Touch me with your soft mouth.


My reply to you is passion, sweet lover,
An immensity of intertwining longings.

The glass has vanished. Find my hands.
They’ll swim the rivers of your body freely,
Easily, like fish, or children’s tiny boats atop you,
Rushing to remember every current,
Every turn, each cataract delightfully exciting.

I hear. Your ears drop their hundredweights—
The music of my voice releases you.

Whisper, whisper, Place your hands on my skin.
Feel me—I shudder with infinite desire.
Your fingertips move my breasts,
Your soft lips awaken mine—
I am captured by an awakened fire.


The glass has vanished. I alight, softly.
I let your fingertips find my lips.
(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Heinz 57

Sunday afternoon.
I finished my script--I dunno'--yesterday? The (almost) final draft. I posted the book, but then early this morning something struck me. "You're not quite finished. Do this in the ending scene as the credits roll." Cut In.
And so I wrote a bit more:) NOW it's complete.
The script is a bit short by industry standards, but I think I'll work on it to get it to length. Keep revising. This one is worth it:)

A few of the comments...first draft (Wendy and Val) to final (Janice Abel-storyteller4, a retired teacher).

storyteller4 has saved "Heinz 57" to his/her favorites
On October 9th 2011
storyteller4 commented at October 9th 2011
I am listening and seeing
your piece on the screen.

The storyline and characters are great, and the use of art and chosen music carries a message of the power of the fine arts into a tough real life situation. It can be read at many levels.
I cannot speak to screenwriting format, but I can to the chosen music that spins Rollo Heinz’ visions of art and the storyline into a seamless whole. The dialogue references to Jackson Pollock(abstract-expressionism) and Toulouse Lautrec(post-impression) provide a vision for the art work of the prisoners and at same time strengthens the dialogue. Also, the humor in a rough and serious situation, I especially liked.
Use of Khachaturian, Rachmaninov, and in particular, the last scene, the use of Handel in conjunction with the Sistine Chapel, Adam and the creation, punctuates the storyline, its pace and its ending message. Though this last scene and use of this music and art may be considered by some as cliché, it will be widely recognize with a large audience.
The story is not just a story; it is a cohesive art piece. Understanding of the fine arts demonstrated by the author will clearly set this piece apart from many. It appears, that in conjunction with a music and art director, the outline provides meat enough to move the piece to reality. I can even hear and see parts of it as I read it. Bravo! Take a bow, Patrick.

gooduklady commented at October 6th 2011
All I can say, in absolute admiration, is:
PATRICK SEAN LEE IS A WRITER!

yezall commented at October 6th 2011
Once in a while
I'm just amazed...amazed at the talent that comes from this site. This is a piece that is well written and professional. For me, screenplays aren't easy to read but the story line was able to hold me until the end. I wasn't a stretch to imagine it on the big screen.

paulashene commented at October 6th 2011
Good read!
I was impressed with the lisp - boy is that hard to write..This was easy to read and the dialogue gritty as needed...used the enlarge tool..p;]

lazarus67 commented at October 6th 2011
Just finished reading it. YouTubed most of the music meantioned in the script for background effect. Yes, I too wondered about Zippo's name on the plaque. Is there a parte deux?
Well done my friend!
Really deserves an ovation AND vote.

xmeli.j.nightlyx commented at October 6th 2011
Wow... speechless as always with your talent. You are truly amazing at every project you take. This was very entertaining, it had a bit of everything mixed into a perfect screenplay. Your time was truly well spent as well as mine for reading it. It is a must read!

writingmum commented at October 6th 2011
A labor of love
Gosh, I'm so impressed that you have achieved this great piece of work. I wrote my two scripts a while ago, so I have been without the pressure you have been under for the past few weeks.

Hats off to you. You've taken to script writing like a duck to water. The visuals are very well detailed and the dialogue was pacy, sharp and believable.

This isn't a chick's kinda thing, but i believe you'd have a big male audience if it was produced. Saying that, I love movies set in jails and i think you've got a lot of humour in there to attract a few females (like moi) also.

I have to remark on the technical stuff because script writing is all about that in the real world. The guys out there beyond this competition won't touch a script if its not formatted correctly. I personally think it doesn't have to be perfect, and that errors can be glossed over with great storyline, character and dialogue.

Your biggest imperfection in terms of format, is when you get all excited and you break out of present tense. I smiled when i saw you do it, because I do the same on occasions.

Put it into your mind that 'ings' are bad. Drop them and you've got your present tense.

For example, Page. 23 (Marsten's dialogue. In one paragraph you wrote, smiling, shifting, ducking and frowning. Should be smiles, shifts, ducks and frowns. Every time!

Page 44. nodding, sitting, laying, shouting. Should be nods, sits, lies, shouts.

Got to mention about the length. i am slightly worried it's too long, but I think you can trim it back in your narratives. For example if you look at the fight on p.72. It's very dramatic, but I think as a first draft script, you would be better to tone it down and just say a fight breaks out. It'll move the script along faster, IMHO.

Maybe trim down the narrative a bit for the contest, but keep your original draft.

Another thing in terms of technicality. Page 62 (I think) the 'three days later' thing. I think that should be on the slug line, so that it's clear.

So overall, I thought the story was excellent and very well executed. Congratulations for getting the job done and good luck with the contest.
Wendyxx

P.S if you want me to take out the editing parts of this review to make it shorter, just holler. No probs.

gooduklady commented at October 9th 2011
Love the new ending...it is inspired! Way to go, Patrick! You are now officially a screenwriter. Who knew? xxx

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hey Guys!

We're launching a new contest! We want you to write a script. Any subject you want, but the opening scene has to take place on a boat.

Okay...
Crap.
I wrote a spec script seven or eight years ago, and then sent it up to my niece in Hollywood. She worked for Andrew Stevens, and I thought "Wow, won't be long now until I walk onto the stage and get my Oscar..."
She replied...kind of nicely.
"It's simply unbelievable, etc., etc.,...I went into seclusion, weeping.
But what was believable about a guy building a rocket ship in his barn, and THEN launching himself into orbit! I loved that film! But, think about it, lol.

So, I'm writing a new script! I've studied David Trottier's Bible until I'm dreaming about the chapters every night. CUT TO as a real creature dancing across the page. DIALOG CHARACTER NAME Parenthetical Action. They're all my bedfellows suddenly.
I'm going to title it Heinz 57.
It won't be about catsup, but it will be a tasty fantasy:)

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Satires

The sun is rising noticeably later each morning. Another beginning, or ending, of a season. Already, somehow, I see the holiday season looming; a time of joy, reunion, and gift giving.
So often in the past this quiet pause has been the time of a discovery of some new work. I'm not sure why, but it's as though I stumble upon a book that Providence has placed purposely in my path.

I'm stuck in my writing, scratching my head for the right words. The book I'm reading is a disappointment, and I have to struggle to finish it. And then the gem presents itself. A gift from seemingly out of nowhere. That is "The Satires" by Duncan McGibbon, a writer one year younger than myself, light years older in the perfecting of his "craft"--what a misnomer!

If poetry can be called art, then McGibbon's canvas is vast and colorful. His work isn't for the casual reader--it's heavy stuff. He's been writing and teaching for years, and he knows the language and how to use it as well as any master working today. I intend to review it at my group, but as I've mentioned to a few others, poetry is not the genre I am at ease reviewing.

I find it incredible that at a site such as Bookrix, devoted to showcasing authors and their creations, this man's work seems to have languished regarding reads and comments. I will take up the cause and do what I can to change this. McGibbon is one of the brightest stars in our humble site's heavens.

I invite all my readers to see for themselves. Visit him at "Blondel"--his username--and then on an evening after the sun has set and the heat of the waning summer day has lessened, relax and read this book. You won't regret it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sarah's Canticle

I have received some wonderful comments, and oh, they lighten my heart and make me smile:) Thanks to all who have read Sarah's Canticle and taken the time to comment at my bookpage. I am so gratified.

Yet, possibly the most astonishing comment...

graywolf
Sarah"s Canticle
Patrick - A small gem of a story-poem. I loved it!
- Grayson
On July 26th 2011 | Answer | Delete

I used the ending line of "Empty as the Wind" from Grayson's album, "Blind to Reason", with his gracious approval...he not having any idea what I might write concerning it. I am so afraid I didn't do his wonderful song justice, but...

When MTV was in its heyday, two of his cuts from the album were made into videos. I instantly fell in love with "Talk It Over", thus my love affair with his music began. I am so honored by his comment. Thank you, sir:)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Maggie got trashed

Yeah, my baby looks as though she has fifteen eyes and a dozen noses in view of the thrashing Maggie received from the independent judges. I hung my head after reading the "reviews."
It was tough even starting a new short story. Valerie lifted my spirits and helped me so much in getting the new one on course. And my dear Sereni:)

And gosh...thanks from the bottom of my heart to the gracious Grayson Hugh. He allowed me to use the ending line from "Empty As The Wind" off his "Blind To Reason" album.

So, I won't post the story here, but I will post the initial comments proudly:)

Comments
7 users wrote a comment on this book. Write comment.

augustus

Sarah & Michael
Okay Patrick,
Don't rub it in. You're really, really good. Seriously. You seem to improve with every piece of work you post on this site. I recently read some runner-up short stories for the Pulitzer Prize and yours could very well have been one of them. Keep'em comin.'
Augustus
On July 24th 2011

pstarr59 has saved "Sarah's Canticle" to his/her favorites

On July 24th 2011
paulashene
I love your
Sarah and her belief in "All things are possible...

This is a flowing masterpiece..words are inadequate...emotionally moving...thank you for the great read..p

lazarus67 has saved "Sarah's Canticle" to his/her favorites

On July 24th 2011
pstarr59

A True Artist
A true Artist to the craft. You painted me a picture in my mind, kept me entertained until the very end, and left me wanting more. Well done Patrick.
pamel

lazarus67
Sarah made it possible because of her strong faith. The Apostle Peter walked on water, until fear overcame him and his faith wavered.
Great story Pat..loved it a lot. Can't add more to all the previous comments.

gooduklady has saved "Sarah's Canticle" to his/her favorites
On July 24th 2011
gooduklady
As writers, we expose who we are by what we write. We show our artistry, our intelligence and our knowledge(or, in some cases, our lack thereof). Only a few have a talent such as yours, Patrick....and you SHOW who you are by works such as this. Everything you have ever read and retained, all the paintings you have gazed upon and all your life experiences shine forth brilliantly in this magnificent piece. Bravo!

judycolella has saved "Sarah's Canticle" to his/her favorites
On July 24th 2011
judycolella
How Many Times May I Vote For This?
I can't stand "chick flicks." I despise pulp romance novels. I avoid as many love stories as I can, pursuing adventure and sword-fights instead. So...why am I so in love with your book? Holy cow, what a magnificent work of writing this is! Everything about it captivated me, from the descriptions that put me right into the scenes to the cries of confusion from the main character that amplified all sense of empathy already in place from the overall premise. In the scenes where he stood at the edge of the ocean, I almost went to get myself a sweater. And the way you described that "firmament" left my ears straining, my eyes unable to blink. Wow. That's all I have left to say. Wow.

felixthecat
Questions
Thank you Sereni:)

Those questions you asked raise further questions in MY mind concerning Michael's sanity; in fact Sarah's true existence! Fascinating.
But I do so love to leave the reader wondering when I write my endings:)

sereni
Sarah's Canticle
You are such a romantic, and so artistic in how you paint with such beautiful descriptive words. Did Michael imagine this unique being? Where did she go,and how? These are questions that you have left me wondering.Serena

sereni has saved "Sarah's Canticle" to his/her favorites
On July 24th 2011

Of course you can read the story here: Bookrix.com. Sarah's Canticle, Patrick Sean Lee or at my bookpage, felixthecat.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

To Do, or Not To Do

That is the question.

The ebook arm of the industry is exploding. As traditional houses are downsizing and becoming more and more cautious about signing new authors on, I keep mulling over going indie. It's easy enough to do, and keeping an eye on percent of market gained recently, the temptation is to become my own publisher. The problem is marketing. How do I even get hits at my ebook, let alone downloads?
I contacted two firms this year, inquiring about breadth of services offered, as well as costs. The bottom line is (as it has always been), you get what you pay for, and it ain't cheap. Even going the gold route, there's absolutely no assurance of success in sales.
So how did Amanda Hocking do it? Or a handful of other successful indie authors? When I figure that one out, I'll be off and running!
Something of interest. My favorite online site, Bookrix, is experiencing a similar explosion in growth, albeit an avalanche of ten year-olds, lol. "Read Me!" Still, some excellent writers have signed in recently. But, to the point. Bookrix is launching their arm, expanding into the ebook market this Fall. It's an easy, user-friendly free-to-read book publishing site already, and I trust that their ebook arm will be the same. It's my hunch that they will give Smashwords (not a particularly user-friendly site) and others a run for their money. I want to be on board when Bookrix launches.

Off-subject.
I'm concentrating on short stories. Thanks, JW. Maybe I'll do a collection. Right now I'm working on The Invisible Man. Thanks H.G:) I started it months ago, stopped, and now have decided to totally revise and finish. Carolann gave me some awesome ideas for plot and characters:)

Incredible news...and I'll name no names as per request. Another amazingly talented friend was ecstatic and sent me an email recently. This person has been contacted by the owner of a major house; wants to read a certain book this author wrote. How often do you hear of THAT! I am equally excited for this writer, a close friend. I have many, so don't try to guess who it is:)

That's all, folks!
Off to take my invisible man on his journey again!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Another Message to Mary

Hail Mary

I am from an Irish-Catholic family.
Right there that qualifies me to be a card-carrying member of Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and more.

And more.

My mother, God rest her soul, had a particularly deep devotion to The Blessed Virgin Mary, in any of her manifold disguises. Ie., Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of County Cork, ad infinitum. I grew up thinking that The Blessed Mary Ever Virgin had more “persons” in her personhood than God Himself! I mean, depending on which spiritual persuasion you subscribe to, the most we see in God is three.
So this in itself threw me into a mental/spiritual muddle. There were just too many Marys to pray to. I began early on to withdraw into a sort of fantasy world in which I created my own Mary. Now, seeing that she was not listed in the Roman Catholic (should have been the Irish Catholic) hierarchy quite as high as Jesus, the Holy Ghost (that title threw me for a long time, too), or God the Father, I figured in my eight year-old mind that I’d be in a lot less trouble by making another her, instead of another them. I would be kind of blasphemous, maybe, but not totally, like I would have if I had invented God the Daughter. See my rationale?

Okay.

So I grabbed one of Mom’s statues of Mary, including the dime she’d stuck underneath it to make sure the prayer she’d offered way back when got answered (dimes had the power, somehow, to insure this). Grabbed it and spirited it off to my bedroom in the basement. Situating it on my rickety nightstand that Pop had banged together for me in one of his cursing carpentry adventures, I found a white cloth and “decorated” it with numbers—1, 2,3, and so on. Lovingly. Then I draped the cloth over her head and shoulders—a shawl. Voile. My Blessed Lady of Arithmetic. At Our Lady of the Presentation Catholic School, I was an A student in Daydreaming, a B+ student in Cutting Up, but I was flunking Arithmetic. She’d help. And I even swiped another dime out of Pop’s pocket to add to the bribe underneath the statue.

Jim came home late one evening while I slept. Jim was my older brother, my idol, a student at Regis College (taught by the dreaded Jesuits). I’d been having a nightmare about him beating up on Pop, I think. Maybe it was Grandpa.

Jim slept with me in a big double bed. That was cool. All Irish gang up in multiples to sleep. It’s like none of us can afford twin beds or new mattresses or enough blankets. Or pillows.

So, Jim was studying…PHILOSOPHY…at college. Do not use CAPS for emphasis—but in this case it’s essential. God help all of us in our quiet home. He was also majoring in Coors, leading a group of other philosophy students at Joe’s Cave (a local bar) after classes. I don’t know what the Joe’s Cave discussion that night was all about, but Jim came rolling into the bedroom, hit the lightswitch (literally), and wanted to talk to me about Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Hegel, and of course, Augustine. Like I could understand any of it. Mary and all the divinities were hard enough, and I was sleepy; had a test in Arithmetic the next morning as well.

“Leave me alone. I’m sleeping.”
“Now wake up, Paddy. Yoush a smart kid…”

So I learned that Augustine was a Catholic, a good guy. The rest of them were Communists and screwballs. Basically. And then Jim noticed Blessed Mary of Arithmetic on the nightstand, and the dissertation switched gears and headed down a long, dark grade in the direction of Hell.

Grandpa slept in the room adjacent to ours. He was eighty-seven or thereabouts; quiet, well-mannered usually, and a light sleeper. Still, eighty-seven year old men need uninterrupted nights, and being situated next to mine and Jim’s room was bound to lead to a donnybrook in time. I don’t know to this day whether it was God, or Mary, angry about her un-regal shawl, or Jesus or the Holy Ghost, but I think it was one of them who wiggled an angry finger into our household. Someone. Maybe just the devil.

”Ain’t that Ma’s statue of Mary, Queen o’ Heaven?” His mood had soured somewhat, having run the philosophers from Germany into the theological mud. I glanced over at it and asked for help, very underbreath.

“Nope. It’s an old one. Umm…Blessed Mary of…” What?

Hail Mary, full of grace…

“Of what? Hic.” He said this in an unusually loud voice, not angrily, but the way an inebriated philosophy student would when confronted with a serious metaphysical dilemma. Question. Thing.

Grandpa woke up. He tapped on the thin wall separating our rooms with his gnarly old knuckles, which must have offended Jim.

“Ah, go to sleep, Grandpa. Hic.”

…the Lord is with thee…

There followed a rather one-sided exchange, as Grandpa would not back down and just plug his ears, then go to sleep. He kept mumbling. Jim kept answering, a little louder each time. This went on for some time until Jim left the room and went to grandpa. I heard, “Shaint Augustine…mumble, mumble, hic.” Some unintelligible reply. “You woushn’t know, though, woush ya’…mumble, mumble. Hic, hic?”

I slipped out of bed and knelt down to finish the Hail Mary, and threw in a couple more quick ones, just in case she was sleeping too.

Mom and Pop slept on the main floor. Pretty soon I heard stomping on the floorboards. And then, “Goddamit, Jim, go to bed!” Pop. Not Mom.

Jim replied in one of his Ciceroic bursts, with a few deleted expletives added for emphasis.

Pop came down. Mom, too. Marianne and Rosie. Mike and Donnie and Tim and Buddy and Uncle Jack (he lived with us, too). The house was small, and none of them had to travel very far to get to the scene of another midnight fight.

Mostly, the fight was between Jim and Pop because the rest of us were way too young; not in Jim’s league with fists, feet, and teeth. Yes, it didn’t take a genius to predict there’d be an all-out knock-down, drag-out brawl over philosophy that night. And all because I’d made another Mary.

By the way, at breakfast the next morning, Mom pulled me aside after serving up leftover corn beef and hash to everyone except Jim, who was sleeping it off, and told me it had been the right thing to do…dressing Our Lady of Switzerland’s Woes in a new gown; that my prayers would always be answered for the act.

“What’re all them numbers on that hankerchif, though?”

“Nuthin’ Ma. They were on there already.”

Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Message To Mary

Hi Mare!

Nope...wasn't the end of the world last night. That preacher got it wrong. But it WAS something.

I'm writing this message to you on St. Peter's laptop. Yeah. Oh, you're laughing? Well, hold on. "They" were swamped up here with statistics; keeping track of all us humans down there, so Jesus finally told Peter to go ahead and buy the biggest damned computer he could find (He didn't use that one word, lol). St. Peter was beside himself with joy and thanksgiving, he told me when they delivered me last night.
We had a nice chat for a while, him and me. He's a pretty neat guy.
He had to lay off ten million workers after half a dozen angels lugged the monstrous mainframe up here. That was the bad thing; all those now out-of-work souls. But they were able to re-assign them to the War Department, at least temporarily. He said--and I kind of have to agree--that he wasn't sure how good they'd be there, having been stuck behind their cushy desks all those thousands of years. Soft and flabby. Lucifer's guys didn't keep records like they do here, so all his lackeys have been out in the trenches, mixing it up with the leaner, meaner 6th Army Our Father assigned to earth after Jesus came home in 32 B.C. (St. Peter HATES the new term, Before the Common Era). Oh...A.D. Sorry.

Huh?
Oh, he wants me to shake a leg and sign off. He loves hockey, he tells me, and wants to catch the Stanley Cup Playoffs on CNN Sports. I guess they're rebroadcasting it. He missed the live game. No TVs here. Weird. Maybe he'll let me watch American Idol with him next week. I hope the girl wins. Forget her name.
Anyway, I'll catch you later...and I'll see what I can do about getting you and your husband up here. Not sure why you missed the Rapture. I think his Windows crappy system screwed up. That's what I think. I mean, why in the name of all that's holy am I here, lol? Well, I am, and when they get a Mac and update the records--find out I was supposed to go down there, there'll be a real cat fight to get me to leave! They'll play hell kicking me out now. I expect to see you here pretty soon, though, and you'd better put in a good word for me with HIM:)
Say hi to all my friend's at Bookrix, okay?
I'll hang around Peter's office and after the game I'll see if I can use his laptop again:) I'll be talking to ya'. Hang tough.

Your feathery-winged friend,
Patrick

ps
He says I can call him Pete if I like. Ain't that cool? :) :) :) He and I are gonna' be real buddies!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Maggie

Somewhere outside New York, July 7, 2014.


The sky is white-hot blue again this morning. Not the cooling blue we have always known. Blue with a searing reddish perimeter, like a heart wrenched upside down and ripped inside out. The heart that was the world is dying, and soon enough the rest of the body will follow in its wake.

Maggie and I have made it to the outskirts of New York, or what is left of it, yet I don’t think we’ll be able to go any farther east. No doubt everyone this side of the Rockies has tried to get here. It was stupid of me. I should have headed out of Omaha and tried for San Francisco, but I’m certain the same thing has happened there. Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle—anywhere there is, or at least was, a harbor with a boat. Yet, had I gone west I would not have happened upon this child.

The once-magnificent Big Apple bears little resemblance to the grand old center of culture it was just three short months ago when all this hell started. Nothing does. But the trees I’ve seen along the way are what seem to strike me the most; dead already in the heat. Our lovely elms, stately oaks and cottonwoods—mere ghosts, now. The grass everywhere has withered up. The highways have become like heating coils on a stove, jammed with abandoned cars and trucks that explode when the gasoline in the tanks ignites. Cities like Chicago, Cleveland, and Buffalo stand without movement except for the few who’ve remained on their streets to parade around in sack cloth carrying doomsday signs, or roam like rabid dogs cornering anything weaker. A dwindling number of animals that aren’t yet lying dead beneath burnt out bushes stagger aimlessly, their ribs showing and their tongues hanging out. The once mighty Great Lakes have shrunk like rotten fruit, the shorelines almost lost in the shimmering distance. We all head east, but it is a fruitless journey.

Our lovely planet has stopped rotating.

No one knows precisely why, but we all know that it happened. For those lucky enough to still be connected 4-G, we know that physics was turned upside down. We know that the spinning slowed, and then stopped entirely. We haven’t been told why. The leading physicists don’t know why. It couldn’t happen, they said, but it did. The western hemisphere is facing the sun; the eastern is in continual darkness. We burn, they freeze, and all of us watch as the Atlantic rises. We wonder how long it will take until the Pacific is a gigantic graveyard of desert sand. Will the Atlantic and Indian Oceans attempt to fill in the void? No one is certain. Wild storms arise over the Atlantic as the earth tries to regain its balance. Did we cause this catastrophe? No one is certain. No one is certain of anything except that we will all perish, likely sooner rather than later.

We continue on in the direction of darkness and the only hope of salvation, like animals driven by instinct. I’d rather freeze to death than feel my blood begin to boil inside my veins. Who wouldn’t? And so we flock toward the sea, all of us, there only to be caught in a net. If the heat doesn’t kill us, the crazed search for food and water will. We will kill each other in the war to get these two things alone. We will kill each other to find a boat or a log so that we can leave this continent. In time, those left will need no particular reason at all to kill.

Maybe north.

Maggie cries. She wants her “Moomy,” but her moomy is dead. I have no idea about her father or her brothers. Dead too, I imagine, eaten by dogs or those who are starving and have no humanness left in them. Had I left her there outside Chicago two weeks ago, little Maggie would be no more. I couldn’t do it, and though it is difficult enough for me to find a scrap of bread or a thimble-full of water, I cannot abandon her to certain death. One of these animals will rape her and then eat her. Such is the insanity and depravity that has infected us. I’ve seen it.

Maggie tells me she is six years old. She’s black, and very pretty with tight ringlets of velvet hair, eyes the color of jet, and soft, intense features. She attended school and liked reading, spelling and recess, but cared little for arithmetic, she said. She and her family lived in a highrise tenement—I took it to be one, though she didn’t use the word tenement, just home. Two long months after the anomaly, her father and two brothers told Maggie and her mother to stay put; keep the door locked, that they’d return with food and water. Two more weeks passed and they failed to come back. Her mother took her hand in desperation, then, and left. They made it one hundred-fifty miles after having wandered through South Chicago for days looking for her father and brothers. I found her the morning after her mother died. I had to pull her kicking and screaming away from the body, but I knew what would happen if I left her behind.

“You’ll see her again someday, Maggie, but right now we have to keep you safe,” I said to her once her screaming subsided a few miles down the highway. She didn’t answer. Of course she couldn’t understand any of this horror. What six year-old could? How could anyone?

Still, by the time we reached the outskirts of Toledo she began to trust me a little and open up. I told her that I’d been a schoolteacher, that I too liked spelling and reading, but not so much recess as I was afraid of the monkey bars on the playground, and the terrifying prospect of returning to the schoolhouse to face arithmetic when the bell rang. At last she smiled up at me with those sparkling coal eyes.

***

We’ve taken to hiding at “night” under a vicious blue sky that has grabbed hold of the ravaged planet so that even the stars have fled forever. There is no beauty left in the heavens, only an ugly foreboding. The roads are unsafe, littered with the dead and nearly dead; the roving bands, and so when this never-ending hike has exhausted us we detour into the fields that were planted with corn in the spring. None of it has been harvested, nor will it ever be. Like all the other fields, this one we are in stretches over the cracked earth, with tall brown stalks that catch the hot winds and whisper further of death. Still, it is safe here, safer at least than beside the road or in one of the farmhouses.

I have devised a shelter to protect us from the searing rays of the sun out of a blanket we found outside Newark three days ago. Maggie gathered up four light, thin branches with Ys on one end from one of the dead trees near the road, and we sharpened the other to push into the soil at four points—far enough apart to carry the blanket. Without this crude shelter we would be forced to find an abandoned building and the dangers lurking within. I don’t know how the Bedouins stay cool, dressing as they do, sleeping in tents. Ours is stifling, but at least we’ve created a semblance of darkness. She will sleep soon, I hope, but I will not.

...For the complete story and the surprising conclusion, visit my book at Smashwords soon:)



(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

EROTICA!!!!!

That usually gets a lot of people’s attention. What is it? Not sure. I don’t even think the US Supreme Court will touch the definition of that one. But then again…

Over there at Bookrix, my favorite author site, I posted a community message addressing books created, and which have big red Xs across the covers. I admonished the authors to consider the ramifications of putting these books on a “social site”, in view of the fact that lately the site seems to be inundated with lower teens and sub-teens.

“Would you want your children to read them?” I asked. Can they damage a young mind? That’s debatable certainly, but in my view books that are sexually explicit or gratuitously violent should not be read by impressionable children. Should we ban the books from the site, then.
No, absolutely not. That is censorship. I posited that WE can do nothing. It is a free and open site to anyone of any age. So...what is the solution? The individual author must consider carefully what posting a book might do to an impressionable mind. It is their decision.


“But I placed a 'Warning: May be offensive to some' on the cover page.”

Yeah? So what. I’m thirteen. My parents don’t police my internet activities that much, ESPECIALLY at a book site, so my hormones being like the inside of a nuclear reactor, what will I do?

Our children have enough crap thrown at them by the media and the other arts. I believe we should act responsibly when placing a platter of prime beef in front of them.

I don’t think I made many friends with my community post. We can rationalize anything if we need to; if it’s in our personal interests, but our gut usually speaks the truth.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ohmagosh

Why am I on this ancient music gig?
In that cardboard box filled with CDs I ran across "Blind To Reason", 1988, by Grayson Hugh! MTV, when it still focused on music videos, used to play cut three, "Talk It Over." In that video I remember Grayson Hugh in a bedroom, coming out of a suitcase laying on the bed, singing. I think his love was inside that suitcase, too :) It was charming! Hugh's voice was crystal. Must download it! Maybe I'll write a story of two lovers trapped in a suitcase. Hmm...

My all-time favorite group. Absolutely, without a doubt. More so than the mighty Beatles, more than Sting (no, The Rolling Stones were never among them), Simon and Garfunkel...more than any were The Beach Boys!

I found "Pet Sounds" in that box. I anxiously added it to my playlist. Their harmonies were second to none, always, with Brian Wilson usually doing the lead vocals. What a gorgeous voice, but with the layering of Mike Love, Al Jardine, Dennis and Carl Wilson, they produced an innocent, magical sound.

I think I must have been a Junior in high school when Pet Sounds was released. Was it Kat, or Lorraine Martinez? No, a petite girl with long blond hair whose name I don't recall (who dissed my affections--crushed me lol). That's where I was.

I remember seeing The Beach Boys in concert one summer close to that time when they came to Denver--wearing those tight fitting white Levis and red-striped shirts. A good time to have been alive and young and still so innocent:)

"You Still Believe In Me." Cut # 2. Quintessential Beach Boys. Thanks Brian and company. You were the BEST!

Now I have to dig through that box again and find "Brothers."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sina

I ran across The Manhattan Transfer yesterday. Not in person…on iTunes:) Ahh, they were a fabulous group; very hip in the pop/jazz genre! Always loved them. In 1987 they recorded a song from Brazilian master, Djavan. “Sina”. I went back to iTunes today and did a Power Search for the cut by The Manhattan Transfer, found it, and so downloaded it.

Wow!

I don’t know of anyone who could have stayed so close to the original recording and captured the incredible lilting melody of it; the entire flavor. And a bonus. The lyrics were in English! Ah, yes, I remember them. “Soul Food To Go.”

I’ve played The Transfer’s version, oh…20 times maybe already this evening. Check it out at iTunes:)

While you’re there see if you can pull up Djavan’s amazing album, “Luz”, recorded and released in 1986. Not the remix version done about ten years ago. The original.

’86 was a special year in my life; a joyful year, and I used to rod around in my truck with the cassette deck turned up full blast, listening to Luz. “Sina” is cut five on the album (I can’t find the original Luz album at iTunes!:( Sina (The Manhattan Transfer’s “Soul Food To Go.”) is totally Brazilian, sung by Djavan Caetano Viana playing Ovation, in front of his musicians on Yamaha Rhodes, Yamaha GS1, Baixo electric, acoustic, and Timbales-xequere. Simply too cool and heart melting!

Music:) I love it. I write to it.

I fell in love that year with the Brazilian language; the great musicians who rarely broke into the American mainstream music market. Pity. But Djavan did with this and other compositions. The language is so lyrical, so soft, and with the right singer, inspiring.

Sina
Djavan
Pai e mãe, ouro de mina
Coração, desejo e sina
Tudo mais, pura rotina, jazz
Tocarei seu nome prá poder falar de amor

Minha princesa, art-nouveau
Da natureza, tudo o mais
Pura beleza, jazz

A luz de um grande prazer é irremediável neon
Quando o grito do prazer açoitar o ar, reveillon

O luar, estrela do mar
O sol e o dom, quiçá, um dia a fúria
Desse front virá lapidar
O sonho até gerar o som
Como querer caetanear o que há de bom

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mentoring

I have to laugh. A good friend of mine is working with a young ten year-old girl who has written a...poem, it appears to be. The cover has a big red X on it. From a ten year-old?

Sheer curiosity badgered at me to open the book and take a glance. Thankfully it was only a page in length. No, it wasn't x-rated by any definition of the word, but it surprised me. Perhaps it shouldn't have.

This very young writer does write like a ten year-old, I suppose. In her poem she bemoaned the fact that she was perceived (she didn't use the word) herself as un-perfect; or "f-in Perfect" as she put it." So, she grew up and marryed (yes, marryed) a rich guy. Now she's "f-in perfect."

I suspect with time and great mentoring she will grow up. Maybe even marry a rich dude, lol. As for being f-in perfect...well, who can say?
Charmingly naaive.

I guess the point is, all of us f-in perfect adults must do what we can to help our kids, our future, to become something exceptional. I try. Sigh. Damn, it's hard sometime!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Terence has been sentenced...

To Hell...He wants out, so he's on his way to "confront" old Lucifer and demand his release.

A challenge at bookrix. Compose a story in diary form. 30 entries. No more, no less.
So, I did. It's all there. Here's a sample.


March 22

What became of industry here? Of social intercourse, as the woman put it when we first arrived? Did she mean an unbridled industry of lust? Of sociable sexual intercourse? Bishops? I can well imagine. Perhaps a pope or two.

I am losing focus in this brothel. Tomorrow I will change my tack and search for the man we met in the restaurant. Maybe, if I can find him, he can tell me what became of her. He captivated her. But what if she’s with him? In all this…pleasure?


March 23

He found me, as though I’d mentally called out to him. He was lounging on the sofa in the living room when I awoke and left the lonely bedroom. I wasn’t sure whether to fall at his knees in gratitude, or fall on his neck and choke him to death. Deather.

“Where is she?” I asked.

“Safe. Enjoying herself nearby,” he replied in a condescending tone of voice.

“You bastard!”

“Thank you.”

“Who are you?” I asked.

“Certainly you know. You’ve been looking for me.”

“I want out, but I refuse to leave without her. You’ve drugged her.”

“Fool.”

“Take me to her!”

“As you wish. “Tomorrow”, but first…” he paused. “I’ve brought along a few of my friends. To help you unwind. You are wound like a spring, Terence. Compressed in your stupid worry. Relax, my friend, before I take you to your precious Teresa. My girls have accompanied me to help you come to your senses. You’ll need to before you see her.”

With that he rose and strode to the door. He opened it and motioned the visitors to enter. Two young women with faces, bodies, fit for a painting. Not women. Girls. Fifteen? Seventeen? No, not in a place such as this. Impossible. Too young, too innocent-looking.

“Enjoy yourself. I’ll return tomorrow. Drop that idiotic notion of love—there is no such thing.” He left, laughing.

The girls crossed the expanse of the room, and I debated. I could see his point. I could see it, diary. I felt the first fingertips touch my cheek, the next touch…

“Get out!”

I’m shaking as I write. I nearly caved in! Yet, what is the use of sex without love? Oh, I had my fill during my twenty-seven years of life. I don’t deny that. But I was never in love during any of it. Not as I am with Teresa. It was simply a biological necessity. Consensual. Meaningless, really, in the end. I did no wrong there, did I? That can’t be why I am here. If that were it, the whole of the human race would be right beside me. There would be an infinity of empty rooms in Heaven.

Playing harps and spewing platitudes of praise.

Why am I here, diary? WHY? What could I have done that warranted me this?

I do not want to see Teresa tomorrow…and yet, I do.


March 24

Friend, diary,

Hell. It presents itself in many shades. Perhaps the entire history of once-living souls is here. I am drawn to the grays and the vicissitudes of this kingdom, and yet I am repelled. The violence, the orgies. What will the next holiday bring? Do they go down the list of deadly sins and celebrate for eons an infinitely magnified version of each? Then return to the first and begin again?

I asked him this when he appeared this morning.

“You learn quickly. Welcome, Terence. Heaven is indeed nearly empty. What was hidden under baskets by every living soul since your race began has, as prophesied, been brought to light. And so they arrive. But their arrival is their choice, as it was yours. Do you want to leave?”

“It was NOT my choice! And further, I am not leaving without her.”

“Her choice to leave or stay is hers to make, not yours. She has made it, as you shall see.”

“You’re a liar, just like all those fucking preachers said. How could she possibly want to stay in such a twisted place for all eternity?”

“You shall see soon enough.”

“You’ve drugged her.”

“Hah! The bitter bread? Fool, it’s merely bread, nothing more. What do you take me for?”

“I loathe you.”

“That is good. You can use that; build on it. Maybe convince her to loathe me, too.”

We spoke little more on our journey deeper into the city of the enlightened, the city built by millions and millions who had thrown off the constraints of morality, or any pretense of decency or goodness. Through the park, past neighborhood after neighborhood of laughing, drinking, sweating bodies willfully participating in every conceivable act of sex. I am not, nor was I ever prudish, but, dear diary, I closed my eyes in shame.

I can write no more today, except to say we finally entered a golden cathedral dedicated to the deities of lust.

“She is here,” Lucifer said. “I will bring you to her tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy the sights…if you refuse to take part. Fool.”

Tomorrow. I hate the word. I fear what I will see when it arrives. What I see now is dispiriting enough. She is here somewhere in all of this.

(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday and Golf

I was talking to my niece, Kime, at Facebook this morning. She posted that she’d played her first-ever round of golf yesterday—nine holes. She managed a gob of “Triple-boogeys”; that’s what she called them, which made me smile immediately and go into my giggling mode. I messaged her and told her that triple bogeys ain’t all that bad; that I’d tell her all about my first outing with my two older brothers when I was younger. Both of them were (are) scratch golfers. Kime said she’d love to hear all about it. So for Kime, here’s what happened.

Jim and Mike were very good, very patient, very looking forward to 18 holes and then the joy of reliving their (and my) successes at the 19th hole.

Now, I had never golfed, but I was pretty good at football—not so good at baseball. An ok fighter in the ring, although I was always afraid to hit my opponent very hard for fear of hurting him. Which was impossible due to the fact that, A) we were small kids. B) we wore 16 ounce gloves. For those of you who don’t know what those are, they’re much like pillows with soft leather coverings. The pros use 8 ounce gloves, which are very similar to molded blocks of cement. I never wanted to get that far in my short career in the ring.

Anyway. I’d never golfed, but Mike and Jim were certain I could master the game under their tutelage.

Now they both had very nice sets of clubs, polished golf shoes with the painful spikes on the soles and heels, and shiny new Titleist balls. I had none of these essentials; only a very positive attitude, and the word “Fore!” in my vocabulary. We went to Wellshire Municipal Golf Course out in southeast Denver, parked, and I was informed in the parking lot that I could use a set of Jim’s old clubs, and that he’d give me half a dozen of his old balls. The ones with smiles in them, in case I lost one in the rough.

So far, so good.

We entered the clubhouse. On the way I was given a short verbal tutorial about the game. The guy with the lowest score wins, which at first made no sense, but okay. The object was to throw a ball on the ground…actually tee it up…and then smack it straight down the “Fairway” as hard as you could. Kind of like baseball (which, as I said before, I sucked at), only you didn’t have to put up with ninety-five miles per hour pitches, curves, spitballs, or sliders. The ball would just sit there for you. How easy, I thought.

I blame a lot of what happened next on my raggedy old Converse All-Stars and the smiley-balls. You have to have the right equipment.

The tutorial having ended, our green fees taken care of, we wandered outside toward the first tee. On the way, Jim told Mike how proud he was of him for having hit two homeruns the previous week, one with the bases loaded. My position on the bench in the dugout got lost in the conversation; I suppose rightly so. I determined to make my older brothers proud of me, Converse all-Stars and smiley-balls notwithstanding.

Jim teed up first. I needn’t tell you how the professionals do it. That’s how he looked. He did all the right things (which looked very simple from where I stood), and whacked the ball. I had no idea where it went because that was before I had gotten my first pair of glasses. I was very nearsighted. But both he and Mike Ooohed.

Mike teed up next. Another pair of golfers gathered behind us and waited their turn. He did about the same, although his swing was a bit different than Jim’s. Still, I heard the “Thwack!” and squinted to see if I could follow the ball. Pointless.

“Okay, Paddy, you’re next. Get over here,” Jim said very brotherly.

“Which one of these clubs should I use first?” I teed up. The guys behind us waited.

“Try the 3 Wood,” Jim said.

“Which one is that?”

The two guys waiting snickered.

Jim came up and pulled the biggest looking one out of the bag and handed it to me. “This one.”

“Can I use one of your new balls? This one is crappy. It has a big gash in the side of it.”

“No. It’ll work fine. Just get over here and address the tee.”

I had NO idea what addressing the tee was all about. Was I supposed to speak to the little white wood thing sitting beneath that ball? Probably not, I figured, so I just did what I remembered seeing him and Mike doing.

“No, no, no,” Jim muttered as I stood there with the tip of my tongue clenched between my teeth, looking down, shaking my skinny hips a little. “It’s grip! You don’t have a bat in your hand. You have to interlock the index finger with the pinkey.

Oh.

He showed me.

After several more, “No, no, nos”, some stance and arm adjustments—all of which made me feel like I was being tied in knots—after a few grumbles from the two guys waiting, I addressed the ball properly and rared back to swing.

“Fore!”

Five frustrating minutes later, with half the grass around my tee chopped to smithereens and the two guys grumbling loudly, I connected. It was as hard as I could swing the club, and it was a miracle I hit that ball that suddenly looked like a marble hiding on the tee. But it sounded solid. I quit cussing and squinted down the fairway.

“Ah, Jesus Christ,” one of the waiters said.

Jim and Mike both just patted me on the back and said, “That’s okay, we’ll find it.” Jim turned to the pissed-off couple at the little bench behind us and said, “You fella’s go ahead and play through.”

On the way to search for the smiley-ball, Mike informed me that I’d been way behind in my swing, or something like that, and that that’s why I’d sliced it so badly.

“What if I’d been ahead of my swing?”

“Then we’d be tromping through the overgrowth on the opposite side of the fairway. But thank God it didn’t go too far.”

That was true, and a good thing I suppose. We only had to walk twenty yards off the tee into the rough. My brothers had twenty-twenty vision, or else God only knows if we’d ever have found the damned thing.

But we did eventually find it, hiding under a huge cottonwood tree. Right between a pair of gigantic roots.




To be continued...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Listening to Holland by The Beach boys...and Pata Pata

Appropriately...Chapter 39, one of the better ones in Marvin:) I wrote it to Miriam Makeba's "Pata Pata". What a terrificly joyful song. I captured the energy in 39:)

Here 'tis...


Thirty-nine

“He’s here? In this house?” Richard railed.
Maribeth sat at the breakfast table across from her father. A second ago his face had been hidden behind the morning edition of the paper, before she blurted out the news. Now the paper lay crumpled on the surface of the table, a distorted photograph of Tiger Woods demonstrating his re-worked swing. He glared at her, waiting for an explanation. Trish gently placed a hand on top of Maribeth’s, and answered for her daughter.
“Now dear, just remain calm until you hear…” she began.
Richard shot her a steely glance. “You’re in on this, too?”
“No, Richard. I just heard myself, moments before you came down to breakfast. I think perhaps we should call the paramedics. I’m not sure. What do you think?”
“What the devil are you talking about?”
“No, Momma. I’m worried sick, but at least he’s talking. I haven’t heard a scream, or even a moan. So far I think he’s okay. Every time I ask him if he’s all right, he says, ‘Yes, yes, my dear, I’m fine. Some very strange things are happening to me, that’s all.’ I don’t know what that means. I wish he’d unlock the door.”
“Explain yourself, Maribeth Anne Harris. What did he do? And WHY is he here?”
“I was up all night, Daddy, outside the door to his room.” She closed her eyes, revisiting the scene.
“He injected himself. Last night, about eleven…”
Ten fortuh-nine, Robert mentally noted. He stood in his usual place, close to the table with a carafe of coffee at the ready.
“Outside by the bar. I watched him do it…there wasn’t a thing I could do to stop him.”
She recounted the whole affair, every detail, as Richard sat dumfounded listening, his jaw drooping. At several points Trish raised her hands to cover her mouth, shook her head in amazement, slowly.
“Hydrochloric acid? Oh dear, whatever possessed him…”
“Less than half a drop, Momma. There were so many other chemicals he mixed. So many. I was right there. He kept saying he knew exactly what he was doing. I couldn’t stop him. I really couldn’t even doubt him after seeing all that I’ve seen.”
She finished by explaining that she couldn’t leave him alone, even for a few hours, at John Delilah’s loft, and so she made the decision to bring him home with her again. What other possibility was there?
“There was none, dear. You did the right thing,” Trish consoled her.
“You should have taken him straight to Denver General…or the looney bin,” Richard offered curtly. “I can’t believe he actually did it.” He snapped his head over to Robert.
“Go downstairs to his room. Knock. If he doesn’t answer, break the door down. I’ll be damned if some kook is going to croak…”
“Daddy!”
“The pleashuh is all mine, suh.”
“Robert! You will do no such a thing,” Trish said. She removed the napkin from her lap and set it firmly onto the table next to her plate. “You will remain here in the kitchen. I’ll go to him myself. If he is sick, then we will call for an emergency unit. If he is not, then we will leave him be until such time that he unlocks the door himself. Is that clear?” she said—looking at Richard.
“Puhfectly, ma’am.” It had become clear to Robert from years of observation concerning household matters whose word was law when push came to shove. He brought the carafe to Richard’s cup. Bending close to Richard’s ear, he spoke in an apologetic, low voice.
“Suh, ah do beg yuh pahdon. Ah am at a loss as tuh what tuh do. Should ah…”
“Do as Mrs. Harris says, Robert.”
“No, Robert,” Maribeth said, searing through him with her eyes. “Just leave. Go feed the dogs, or take out the trash. Just go. We’re perfectly capable of pouring our own coffee. Go eavesdrop on someone else.”
“Oh, now, Maribeth, that was very rude,” Trish said, shocked by her daughter’s stab at poor Robert. “Perhaps you owe him an apology.”
“I do not, Momma. I’m sorry, but Robert has caused so much trouble. He spied on that gentle old man downstairs. My guest. In my house.”
“Beggun yuh pahdon, Miz Marubeth,” Robert said out of character, argumentively, “He did try tuh entuh a ruhstricted govunment site. As we all know veruh well. Gentul may not be the right wood for the man. Connivin’ might be more appropriuht.”
“Only to gain computing power! And you knew it!”
“That’s enough,” Richard said, raising a hand. He looked across the table at Trish and said, “You and I will go. If he doesn’t answer our knock, then we’ll call for help.”
He rose and waited until his wife joined him, and then they walked side by side down the hall to the basement door. Rothschild quietly appeared behind them, slowly wagging his massive tail, drool dripping from the pink tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth. When Richard pulled the door open, Rothschild sat back on his haunches and stared down the first flight of stairs dolefully, as though he sensed a soul in need of being dug out of an avalanche. Weak, gray light filtered through the windows across the hall adding a gloomy feeling to the house—a foreboding of the indigent genius’s fate.
“Stay there, boy,” Richard said to the dog, and then he and Trish went down. When they had crossed the expanse of the recreation room both noticed the hypodermic needle and unlidded flask resting on the corner of the bar. Trish cringed. The reality of Marvin’s intention to reverse his age hit her forcefully, the lengths to which he had actually gone suddenly becoming real. From the mouth of the flask an odor, sweet and thick, permeated the air around it. Richard picked it up, waved a hand over the opening an inch or two above it.
“It smells like…oranges. Maybe he mixed up orange juice and mainlined vitamin C?” he said.
“The liquid looks like filthy water, not orange juice,” Trish commented.
Richard stepped to the door and listened for a moment. There was no sound inside at first. He lifted his hand to knock, Trish standing close, grasping his free arm nervously. A split second before his knuckles moved forward to touch the wood, a faint rustling, like the wings of a hundred birds, broke the silence, and then the muted sound of Marvin’s voice. Both leaned an ear close to the surface of the door and waited. A pause, and then Marvin spoke again, faintly, indistinctly.
“Abot-buba bot. Sat waguga!” it sounded like. The faint rustling again, and then the sound of joyous laughter.
Trish turned her head and whispered, “That’s his voice, but I don’t understand…what is he speaking?”
“Sounds vaguely…African. An African dialect. What the hell is going on?”
“Can you translate it?”
Richard jerked his head back with a look of astonishment at the question.
“Me?”
“Well, you are fluent in German and Japanese.”
The words continued to roll from Marvin’s lips, broken at intervals by others in English.
“What? I don’t know…” Then, very softly… “Where she is. Doesn’t matter…” And then loudly, “Wa-imia, wa-imia sat, be-eenga…My nose looks strange. God! It’s melting! Look—do you see it, Anselm?”
“Someone’s in there with him!” Trish said.
“Ah, Jesus H. Christ!”
But it wasn’t him.
Richard rapped forcefully on the door. “Marvin! Open this door right now. It’s Richard. Open up!”
There was a lengthy pause; a gathering of thoughts, and then Marvin finally spoke in English.
“I know who it is, Rich. But I can’t. Not just yet. Give me a few more days. I don’t want you to see me like this. Tell Maribeth and Trish that I’m fine. Not to worry.”
“I’m right here, Marvin. It’s me, Trish. What’s going on in there? Oh please, open the door so that we can help you!”
He laughed, his voice having strangely risen in timbre.
“Help me? Goodness, gracious, it’s too late for that! You’ve already been a great help, but now I simply have to wait it out—let the elegant formula do its work. Oh no, what’s this? My hair is falling out!”
“I demand that you open this goddam’ door!” Richard spoke into the wood panel loudly.
Suddenly the stereo sprang to life inside the room, the volume turned high so that the panels of the door rattled with the notes.
“What in blazes?”
They listened for a moment in silence and bedazzlement. Rothschild had crept down the stairs with great effort on his tortured legs, and sat behind them, panting. Maribeth arrived just as the music burst through the door and filled the room. Robert was the last to get there, and stood at his favorite corner at the edge of the hall peering at the strange scene unfolding.
“Daddy! Momma!” Maribeth shouted above the music.
“Shh! He’s fine, dear. His nose is just melting, and his hair is falling out. Be quiet, we don’t want to alarm him,” Trish said, grabbing Maribeth’s shoulder.
“It’s the same language,” Richard said to no one in particular.
“He’s dying!” Maribeth cried out.
“No. If he were dying, he’d be playing a requiem, I think,” Trish answered.
Rothschild joined in and barked once. Loudly.
Inside the room. The voice of a young woman singing in a lively, African dialect. The energetic back-up singers. Bongos, tambourines, a guitar, and the frenetic chords leaping from a parlor piano. “Pata, Pata…Hihi ha mama. Hi-a-ma sat…” And Marvin right on top of it.
Outside the room. The perplexed family could hear the sound of his feet, even, bouncing on the thick carpet, as though he were wearing bass drums. From the ceiling, a hundred—feet?—tapping the lid of the room. The rustling noise. The walls and door shaking madly, merrily.
Richard turned sideways and flung his shoulder into the door.
“Aagh!”
“Daddy, don’t!”
“Oh dear.”
Richard turned again and noticed Robert lurking at the corner, one eye, one cheek, and the tip of his nose pressed around it against the mahogany jamb.
“Robert! Go find an axe. Hurry!”
“Yes, suh.” Robert disappeared.
Richard wheeled back and addressed the door again.
“Marvin, I’ve sent Robert to get an axe—please turn that music down so that you can hear me! Open-the-DOOR!”
“Marvin answered, “I can hear you perfectly, Rich. No need to yell. The music is Makeba’s, in case you’re curious. It’s brilliant, yes? So appropriate for the moment at hand! No, Timoteo, leave the volume be!”
“Timoteo?” Trish asked no one in particular.
And Maribeth.
“Ohmagod, what’s happening?”

(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March 1...news at last

TOPIC

bookrix.com
Administrator
Total: 1.422 forum posts
Posted:
Mar 1st 2011 at 11:16:35 AM (EST)
Changed:
Mar 1st 2011 at 11:17:44 AM (EST)

* Get Published Writing Contest * TOP THREE WINNERS




Get Published Writing Contest Official Announcement:

The judges had a tough time choosing the top three winners for the Get Published Writing contest, but here are the final winners…



1st place:


Summer Terror in Texas



by michaelmpacheco

Blurb:
The US Border Patrol begins what appears to be a routine double-homicide investigation near the Mexican border. When they discover dead bodies with radiation burns, they realize the case is far from routine. As the agents investigate the murders, cultures collide and lives are taken. But who survives?



The grand prize, generously provided by CreateSpace, is a Total Design Freedom Advanced Publishing Solution, which will include all of the following services valued at $2,567:

Total Design Freedom Custom Book Interior
Unique Book Cover
One Round of Comprehensive Copyediting
Promotional Text Creation
Press Release Creation with Distribution
Plus a Complimentary Upgrade to Pro Plan

CreateSpace also will provide the book a free CreateSpace ISBN if the winner of the contest does not already have an ISBN of his or her own. The winner will be able to choose any of the following sales channels through which he or she would like to enable the book for sale: the Amazon.com website, a CreateSpace eStore, and the CreateSpace expanded distribution channel.

_____________________



2nd place:


The Redemption of Marvin Fuster


by felixthecat

Blurb:
By his wits, by the grace of God, by the hands of angels, by love, and by dumb luck and a fall on his head, a homeless alcoholic derelict leaps into history. Marvin Fuster sets out to crack the riddle of the human genome singlehandedly, reverse his age, and then win the heart of a young woman of a
dream.



This book also was the WILDCARD pick by the community – thanks to lazarus67, rgabel, cavlaster, etelizabeth, paigecarter and tina2010 for nominating this book!

The 2nd place prize is $500!
_____________________



3rd place:


You've Come a Long Way, Baby!


by gooduklady

Blurb:

(Courtesy of Brian Doswell) - Everyone has a story to tell, a life full of memories and decisions, some good, some bad and some distinctly crazy. Most people tend to be a tad selective about their precious moments, but not Valerie.

This is a fascinating and candid exposé of a life lived on the edge, told with an amazing degree of refreshing honesty from start to finish. Every emotion is right there on the page. Moments of true love mingle with mindless raw sex, as easily as career highs and lows mix with decisions to decorate the living room, leaving the reader to decide when Valerie ever found time to draw breath.



The 3rd place prize is $300!
_____________________

Congratulations to all the winners!

Thanks,
The BookRix Team

Friday, February 25, 2011

A new poem:)

Click the cover.



Go To Your Window

Go to your window, precious love.
Can you see me?
Look closely. I am there floating helplessly by.
My lips are moving, calling—but do you notice?
They search for your fingertips again.

How I long to brush my lips against them,
Hold them captive with gentlest kisses.

Oh, call out, This way! I am here!
Take hold of me—I’ve shattered the glass.
For you, lovely one, for you.
My hands are near you, take hold!
Touch them. Kiss them.


How many years, how much despair,
In blind and futile wandering, alone?

I feel as though I am in a cloud;
Blind, deaf, unable to move
Except at its whim.
I have called for you, but no sound
Escapes my locked and feverish throat.

How I crave the healing of your voice,
Open my ears with the breath of your words.

I’ve called. I call. I entreat you in darkness—
Cold, alone, disconnected, moving upward, now.
No…no, downward. Oh, I cannot tell.
I am blind, I am mute. Near to dying.
Desperately in search of you.

Lift my lifeless ghost from abandoned hope,
Become my flesh and golden path.

I know that even with eyes stolen by your beauty,
Words hidden in the mist of separation,
Your sighing trapped in silence
By some mysterious cruelty I cannot comprehend,
I will find you. I will happen upon your window.

Do you see love’s brilliant sunrise?
Azure eyes that color my pale firmament?

Go to your window, precious lover.
Find me. Reach out!
I am deathly naked, floating somewhere near you.
Searching for your arms, your fingertips,
Sighing for your stomach…

How I long to brush my tongue across you,
Taste the sweetness of your perfect skin once more.

Shatter the distance between us.
Reach out, find me…I am near.
Say to me, Here is that which you desire.
Here I am. Touch me—take my hands in yours,
Touch me with your soft mouth.


My reply to you is passion, sweet lover,
An immensity of intertwining longings.

The glass has vanished. Find my hands.
They’ll swim the rivers of your body freely,
Easily, like fish, or children’s tiny boats atop you,
Rushing to remember every current,
Every turn, each cataract delightfully exciting.

I hear. Your ears drop their hundredweights—
The music of my voice releases you.

Whisper, whisper, Place your hands on my skin.
Feel me—I shudder with infinite desire.
Your fingertips move my breasts,
Your soft lips awaken my thighs—
I am captured by an awakened fire.


The glass has vanished. I alight, softly.
I let your fingertips find my lips.

(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

This email shattered me...

Listen, your minor typos are nothing that can't be fixed and cannot take away from the brilliance of your book which I am still reading.  sherry wine does not have a capital "S".  I am so captivated, jealous and admiring of this book.

Patrick, have you submitted it to publishers or agents yet?  If not, DO SO IMMEDIATELY.  Anyone who turns this down is a fool.  If you want my Writers Handbook code number so you can access them on line, do this

Go to:


Register using this code: 

I hope it works, although I do have the 2009 version, so it may not.  Worth a try though.

You need to get this out to as many publishers as possible.  It is a fabulous book.  I am going to say something that I never thought possible, but it is true.  I am two thirds of the way through the classic, OF HUMAN BONDAGE, and your book is just as good.  I really mean that.  In fact, it is better!  So take my praise and use it to get yourself published.  If you need my help, i.e., my feedback, etc. to use when approaching an agent or publisher, just ask.  If you don't win the contest, then something is wrong.  My feeble attempt at writing pales in comparison with this, and I truly mean it.
Val
I do so believe in my new version; many others have smiled after  having read it...Trish, Carolann, Cherilyn, Pammy, Laz.  Maybe it's finally Marvin's time, God love him. 
Thank you, Valerie.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Morning

Gooooood Morning!

Poke me in the eye if you like.  I might grit my teeth and step back.  But if you poke my friends in the eye...999 out of a thousand...I'm stepping forward.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Confession

So I learned something new!

The Romance Contest came and went, and I didn't place.  That took the wind out of my sails for a bit, until I really considered The Book of Angelina. Oh, there was some nice lyrical writing in it...the dream sequence, but it wasn't a short story. Only a vignette. I threw in (literally) an ending statement, and entered, confident it would place. In the book it was taken from, it makes perfect sense, situated in the chapter as it is...
Had I extended the dream a bit...beginning, middle, and end--fleshed out a bit more--I could have made it into a story that had no extraneous elements (Matthew's pov).  I suppose. Hindsight is 20/20.  Okay, mine might be 20/30:)
Still, I was delighted for Serena. I helped her edit her entry.  She did well. Proud of her.
Robynn seemed almost apologetic concerning her entry!  But why?  She did her best--we all did--and she should be proud of her efforts. I applaud her. She took the judges private comments to her and used them to strengthen her story.  These people didn't know us from Adam.  Critics "out there" in the real world who read, judged, and announced. She benefited, and is now a stronger writer.

So short stories...honestly, I believe had I pushed Graciella instead of Angelina (this WAS a Romance contest), I would have done much better.  It had all the elements needed, plus a resolution that everyone has commented on, lol. Yes...Graciella told Martin...:)

The Get Published.
Thanks, Val and Laz:)
I'm the Wildcard choice with Marvin. God, how I rushed to get those missing chapters written--tie the story together! I have to thank Trish, Paige, and Cherilyn for critting chapters as I wrote. But now I'm re-reading, catching little plot errors.  Oops.  Critting chapters is one thing.  Analyzing plot is something else entirely.  A different mode of reviewing. Well, I wrote much of it--rewrote it--over a year ago, and then finished up a few weeks back, having put it aside to work on other stuff. I went for more genuinely real characters this time around, especially concerning John Sampson and John Delilah. Overall I am confident I succeeded. It will require another final edit, though, lol.
It's a James Michener length book compared to most of the entries! 114,000 words. The minimum word count allowed was 30,000.  That's a bloody novelette! That's okay. Conditions of entry are conditions of entry:)
Trish asked me again last week what the theme of the story was. I was hard pressed to answer (again). Love makes all things possible? Maybe it's the quote I put by Robert Fulghum on the first page..."I believe that imagination..." I just tried to write a good story. We'll see how it's judged.

Aside: There are some harsh critics vis a vis Bookrix. No matter what they think or say, it's an incredible site.  I have to laugh, it's so filled with starry-eyed kids writing VAMPIRE STORIES, and bless them, so many who haven't a clue about constructing a sentence--let alone a paragraph.  But some of us who know the basic rules are there to help.  Anyone, anywhere, of any age can actually create a book. Design a cover...the works. How neat! Better, there are more than a few authors who know how to write.  I don't mean journeyman, either. Real talent.  Why are they there? God, I don't know for certain.  Maybe they write lousy query letters, lol. A few legitimately published authors, too.
But many friends--many who know how to write and will take the time to privately review your work.  I'm glad I stumbled onto it...even if I didn't like Val's demure profile photo at first:) :) :)  She's a gem.
I should mention, I guess.  If you want to see my page, go to Bookrix.com and search felixthecat. When the screen comes up, click on user profile.  It'll take you to my homepage:)
God bless us one and all.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Marvin cleans himself up


I freaked!
I thought I'd lost half a dozen chapters I'd written last summer. Of the thousands of hardcopy pages I located in my mess of an office (laughing about that term), I had six or seven of Chapter 35, another half dozen of 36...and so on.
Thank God for Time Machine. The files weren't in my documents; nor in my working draft, but they were in that amazing backup! And thank God for my wife who suggested I look there!!!
So...Marvin is within a few tie-in chapters of being complete.  I needed to get him cleaned up and off to find Amy.  He doesn't know it yet, but the woman he is being sent to find isn't Amy at all.  Anselm needs to get him out from underneath the loading dock and into a more "permanent" address.  400 East 8th Avenue--the home of the governor...and Maribeth Harris:)


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 flowerbeds and Weeping Willow trees grew in wild abandon. The Army had 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 west-facing balcony.
      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 an army (so to speak) of indigents could not possibly damage. 
      And an unornamented 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 were 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 p.m.  The Men’s shower would most likely be silent, and another hour would pass before the dinner bell rang.  All he needed to do was slide down the long hall to the admissions desk, wink at Ms. Garcia (who, he imagined, would be manning her post behind it until the Lord either returned, or said phooey to the whole Second Coming idea), and show her how filthy he was.  That would be easy enough.  Despite his feelings for the mission in general, he had always gotten on marvelously with the attractive little woman.  A few times, too marvelously.  Though he knew she was quite…no, somewhat religious (A Roman Catholic, of all things, he discovered during the second season of his stay), she sometimes let her tongue slip while working away at the desk behind the counter.  He caught her muttering one day—a colorful expletive in four letters.  F-Major.  The bond between them was born at that instant, and in those leaden days, when fools roamed the halls expounding on every stupid thing under the sun, he visited her at her station frequently for reality checks.  Duets of questionable grammatical taste that began andante, and when he was lucky, ended adagio sensuoso.
      He liked her.
      And so, he tiptoed down the long, dark hall to the counter.  A fluorescent glow flooded the open space and the dull formica surface—which Marvin always thought made it look like an eerie doorway into a frightening nether world.  Ms. Garcia was lost somewhere inside the bright haze, doing something that caused her to utter a string of F-Majors, soto voce, allegro appassionato. 
     Precious thing.
     He leaned forward with his hands on the countertop and gazed in at her.  There she was, bent over, her trim posterior aimed high at him.  Ms. Garcia was tugging right and left, left and right, right and left, at a stubborn drawer stuck in an ancient wooden filing cabinet purchased at Goodwill.  The motion, but not the swearing, made her appear to be doing a Latin dance step.  A Mambo or a Rumba.  Her brilliant Mexican Puebla dress, embroidered with stunningly beautiful florals, winding vines, stick people dancing, patterned needlework, and other colorful decoration, draped over her like a splash of moonlight over a garden of roses.  Its hem ended just above her calves.  All of this would have been ravishing today had there not been thorns on those petite stems.
      Lovely thing.
      He watched her for a moment or two, wincing at various notes, smiling at her down-to-earth saltiness and the rhythm of her movement.  At last he interrupted her.
      “Hello, Pumpkin!”
      She started, leaving the drawer quarter-opened and cock-eyed, straightening like a balloon stretched over an erupting geyser.  Ms. Garcia whirled around to face the voice that had finally caught her defiling the Mission, so close to the sanctuary.  Her eyes were coals of dread set beneath almost masculine, thick eyebrows.  Her mouth had dropped half-open, exposing the faint beginnings of snow-white, perfect teeth, but within a blink she regained her composure, sighed, and then made a quick sign of the cross.  She smiled at Marvin.
      “Holy Mary, Mother of God!  Marvin Fooster, you scared me half to death.”
      “And you tickled my imagination!” he replied with a wink and a tiny twist of his head.  He might stutter and stammer and stand on his own feet in the presence of Amy whoever, but the older, thicker ice of Ms. Garcia had already been broken.   He was comfortable and at ease around her, like being inside an old pair of shoes.
      Shoes.
      “Essie, I need a shower.  I gotta’ go shoppin’.”
      “Shopping?  You?”  Esmeralda Garcia, a year or maybe two younger than Marvin, stepped to the counter and put her arms on it, eyeing him impishly.  “What for?  And with what?  You don’t look like you’ve come up very far from where you were last time I saw you, Marvin, mi diablo pobre.”
      “I can’t tell ya’.”  Marvin leaned forward and placed his own arms onto the countertop close to Esmeralda’s, his nose close enough to hers to catch her rising, warm exhalations.
      “Tell me why,” she cooed, “or I won’t let you in.  You will have to go back to the gutter you crawled out of and wash up there.  What is it you’re up to, you rascal?”
      “Essie, my delectable pumpkin…”  He glanced at a stick figure on her shoulder, dancing across the fabric of her dress.  The strange little boxy head and starred eyes made of stitching.  The enigmatic little smile on its thread mouth.  “…My little Mexican dancer, I can’t tell ya’.  I just gotta’ clean up.  Can I use the shower?  Please, sweet-cakes?”
      Esmeralda giggled.  “My.  I am pumpkins and ballerina…and what else?  Well, I suppose so.  Clean up…Madre de Dios.  What next?”  She leaned across the counter and checked the hall in both directions, biting the edge of her small lip.  Ten feet away the entry doors to the cafeteria stood closed.  Across the hall lit by the afternoon sun squeaking through the small glass panel of the rear exit door, the men’s bath lay.  Beyond that, the women’s, and nearest the rear of the building, the office of Major Jeremiah Forsythe.
      “What’s the matter, plum lips?”
      Esmeralda withdrew her face into the room and looked at Marvin.  “He’s gone.  Hurry, then.  Go take your shower.”
      “What does it matter if he’s here or gone?” Marvin asked.
      Esmeralda scurried out of the room, grabbed his elbow, and tugged him toward the bath.
      “None at all, caramelo.  None at all.  I’ll get you a fresh towel.  Hurry.  Go, go now!”  She shooed him to the door and then left for the linen dispensary, a wide, deep cabinet set into the hall wall between the men’s and women’s baths. 
      Marvin stood for a moment at the door and watched her.  He shrugged, then opened it inward with a squeak of the hinges.
      Nothing much had changed, he noticed.  The sofa with a tear in the fabric to his left just inside the door was still there.  A plain, rectangular table between two slip-covered, overstuffed chairs against the wall opposite the door and the sofa.  Atop the table a clear plastic rack containing a wealth of brochures and tracts reminded those who used the facility why they were using this bathroom and shower, and not the one they might have had in a home or apartment of their own.  Above the table the venetian blinds covering the lone window had been drawn closed three-quarters so that a narrow sheet of light with gently moving specks of dust lit the room in a somber glow.
      Marvin closed the door behind him and walked to the room adjacent, a long narrow space where three stalls stood. Their plastic curtains were drawn open, tucked inside the smooth, painted cement curbs.  On either side of the framed opening, two rows of industrial-décor sinks stood supported by thick, scratched chrome legs.  Behind each sink a long mirror with a narrow shelf beneath it provided a starkly functional shaving station for the transient boarders. 
      He peeled off his coat and shirt and tossed them onto the edge of the sink to his right.  The pants, cinched close to his hips by a belt scavenged from a dumpster, went next, followed by his boxers.  He left them on the floor, moving white and naked to the middle stall, thinking how nice it would feel to be clean again.  It had been a long time—three months, soon—since his last sojourn into this room.  But back in April he had shared the pleasure of a hot shower with Simon the opera singer, and cringed at each flat note.  The other shower had been occupied by someone he had never met, who was dispelling bursts of noisy gas in a consistent way, maybe a metronomic accompaniment to Simon’s serenade.  Outside in the anteroom there had been scattered clips of conversation among the men who anxiously, or not, waited their turns.
      This afternoon they were elsewhere, gone from the building to do what they were best or worst at.  The opera singer, he hoped, had found a choral group of like-voiced crooners—the impresario of oom-pah maybe a bottle of Beano, somewhere far away.
      The only sounds came from the showerhead whistling the pleasant notes of steamy-hot water, and the gurgling of the drain beneath his feet.  Standing with his arms crossed over his chest, his hands resting on his shoulders, his head leaning backward to catch the water splattering the grime from his face, he began to wonder about the woman whose name was Amy for the hundredth time today.  What would she think of him dressed in a brand new suit, with shiny black shoes, and a clean-shaven face?  Would it make much difference?  In reality?  No.  But then, what?
      I’m gonna’ reverse my age.  Did I say that?  Yeah, I think I did.
      And pigs are going to fly to the moon.
      He finished the job.  The water went silent, save the final elongated whoosh down the drain, and Marvin stepped out, clean and ready to shave the gray stubble away.  He lathered at the sink, contemplating the striking image staring out at him from the cloudy mirror, hollow-eyed, with skin like baked leather.
      He stopped for a moment, holding the razor an inch from his cheek.
      But…what if I could do it?
      He chuckled.
      Insane.  Just go steal that new…but, what if?
       Marvin felt as though he was suddenly drifting off into a dreamscape.  His vision glazed.  The face in the mirror smiled out at him, but it wasn’t exactly the one he knew as himself.  The features were close, he could see, but the face was that of a fifty year-old gentleman.  The line of a white collar and neat knot of a tie shimmered in the misty surface at the bottom edge of the reflection.  The hair was light brown—but brown it was, indeed—with salt and pepper at the temples.  The eyes sparkled instead of lolling lifelessly, like those of a dead fish floating at the top of a stagnant pool.  As he stood there staring at the image statue-like, a thread jiggled in his brain.  A thread, that is what it felt like, he thought.  Uncomfortable and squirming through the ruffles and folds inside his head.  The image in the mirror vanished behind a series of numbers and symbols as the thread coiled and then uncoiled, slithering about.  He recognized what had appeared in front of him as a formula, or a theory of some sort written on a blackboard, but what it meant or signified he had no idea.  But then again, it hit him, he did; something to do with genetic structure.
      Genetic structure? I’ve never even heard of the term before…
      A noise from the doorway caused Marvin to blink, once, twice, three times in quick succession.  The Marvin he knew so well had returned by the last flutter.  He shook his sopping head of hair, sending an afternoon flurry of showers in all directions, and turned full-face in the direction of the sound.  Esmeralda stood five feet away, holding a white towel that draped over her arm with her mouth wide open.  He was not Errol Flynn, not even Karl Malden, and he was naked.  Esmeralda’s round brown eyes shifted downward, and a faint smile crept upward, replacing the first reaction of surprise.
      “Oh my goodness.”
      Esmeralda Garcia did not turn away.  Marvin followed the laser line of her sight, then covered himself with his hands.  He looked back up at her and smiled sheepishly.
      “I forgot about the towel. Stupid me,” he explained.
      “How did you think you’d dry yourself, silly boy?  You did not know I would return with this?” she said holding the towel up.  “I think you did.”  Her Latin smile grew.
      “No…I mean, I don’t know.  I was thinking of more important things.  I guess.”
      “Than drying off?  You are playing with me, you devil, you.”
      Marvin began to back up, in the narrow lane between the showers and the sinks, toward the wall abutting the central hall.  Esmeralda stepped forward, matching his tentative steps with two of her own.
      “No, no I’m not.  Honest Injun’.”
      Esmeralda had closed the gap and was preparing to lasso him with the towel.  “Then you would like to, wouldn’t you Marvin Fooster?”  She emphasized the word wouldn’t.  Another step.  She was within striking distance, now.  The towel went up; a set of barbells, two castanets linked by fluffy, white lust, the arms and hands of a referee signaling, “TOUCHDOWN!”
      Marvin closed his eyes and prayed.    
      “Ms. Garcia!  Where are you?” a booming voice demanded from the hallway.
      He shot them back open.
      “Madre de Dios!” Esmeralda whispered in shock.
      No, just Major Jeremiah Forsythe, returned from his meeting with Madre de Dios’ son.  Dios el mismo.
      “Quick, Marvin,” she said.  “The window!”
      Marvin glanced over her shoulder to the far end of the shower room.
      “I’m naked!”
(c) Patrick Sean Lee- 2011