out of the ashes

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.”


“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.


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.


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...


“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…”
“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.
“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.
“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


Total: 1.422 forum posts
Mar 1st 2011 at 11:16:35 AM (EST)
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

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

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

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


(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!

The BookRix Team