Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dream of Horses


Dream of Horses


Graham House dreamed of horses in a field of tall grass. Dusty, ragged smells, earth and dung filled his senses. The small group of horses ran in circles around him, kicking up dust, running at a slow canter, heads bobbing and heaving up and down, foam lilting from mouth to ground. Trembling, he stood in the middle of the small herd in his Covington Men's Plaid Flannel Pajamas he’d purchased at Sears and one by one pulled them into his inner circle by an invisible lead. He held their necks, smelled their briny aroma, and ran his fingers against the hot wetness of powerful equine necks. One by one he pulled them in, the palomino pony, the little pinto, the standard, the Morgan, until he reached for the Arabian, it’s strikingly sharp features alert and asking. The Arabian came toward him, towering in agile form, reaching the middle of the circle, her long white head, sleek mane and black eyes at once unapproachable and soothing. When he took her neck, she flung him upon her back and he settled down clinging to her lean frame with the grip of his legs. She wandered down beyond the banking of tall grasses and into the thickly wooded area. The trail was covered in grasses and foliage. The sky broke through fingered openings in the trees. The trail was narrow but soon opened to a clearing that lead to a small pond and fast moving river beyond. He stayed on her as one, feeling each muscle and joint move in harmony with his contracted frame. At the river, she drank from the frigid water. House was entranced by the sounds she made. The chug, chug, chug of her long esophagus pushing liquids to her belly, splashing happily, digging her snout into the water and then jolting up, searchingly, her ears moving in each direction as if testing for predators. She was sinew, bone and power under him, strong, agile, and omnipotent in her surroundings. And as she drank, he could feel her belly expand. The more she drank the darker and heavier she grew, until he could no longer fit on her and he slid off to the muddy ground. She drank and expanded until she resembled an engorged tick, white, bloated beyond countenance, spindly legs sticking out from her sides, her head submerged to her girth until she split open spilling a torrent of water. The flood took him off his feet. Rivers of water carried him as he struggled to keep his head above the sway. He lay gasping on the banking. Eyes closed, his head pounding, soothing warmth swathed his cheek. He opened his eyes to see the Arabian licking his face, and he awoke.

Graham lay trapped in sweaty sheets, curling them tighter around his body as he sat up. Looking over at his wife, Penelope, he tried to make out her face, but could see nothing in the shadows of their bed, she but a bundle in the dark. He pulled the sheet as he sat up, knowing that she wouldn’t care, because she hadn’t slept with covers for about two years. She was always too hot, couldn’t have a warm body next to her, just couldn’t stand the heat of it. The balled-up sheet fell to the floor as he walked slowly to the bathroom, feeling the walls in the dark as he went.

Splashes of cold water numbed his face in the dim light of the bathroom. The dream came back to him then, in vivid pictorials, the Arabian staring at him with her intense black eyes. Horses? Why horses? He hadn’t ridden a horse since he was fifteen. Carefully drying his face near the darkened closet where she kept the neatly stacked towels, the sounds and smell of the Arabian were more than memory. He inhaled deeply attempting to capture the essence of the beast, but his senses were dull and he couldn’t even smell the fresh towel. House kicked the sheets back over his body and slowly let his right arm fall on Penelope’s side. His hand slipped down and he palmed her hip bone. She grumbled and turned onto her stomach. He tried to make out her dirty blonde hair, the line of her form, but he could see only a dark lump. He was alone again, in the same bed as his wife, her flesh radiating like hot coal next to him. How could I have married a person who can’t cuddle? How did I, the cuddle king of the entire world, end up with someone like that? Laying still, trying not to disturb his wife, he conjured visions of the horses to take him back to the lazy fields, but they would not come and he fell into a restless sleep.

In the morning, House could tell he was alone without looking. The empty bed felt lighter and freer than when she was there. He looked at her clock, 10 AM, set ten minutes into the future, and decided he could sleep a few more minutes. The smell of horses came to him then and he closed his eyes to ride back to the golden fields. He was in the circle now, holding out his hand toward the flowing beasts. The Arabian walked slowly toward him and circled him, just out of his grasp. The circle grew smaller and tighter as he reached for them all, his fingers stretching out never quite far enough to reach them. As the heat and the movement intensified, he could smell the dust and the horse hair warming in the sun. The blue sky above was bright white with heat. He spun and turned in circles, reaching his hands out to the horses as they slowly cantered around and around until he lost his footing and he fell to the dry earth in a cloud of dust, his legs spread out before him like a twisted rag doll, his chest heaving, head still spinning. The horses stopped and looked at him, their heads down, ears flopping back and forth with gentle alertness.

House’s job had nothing to do with horses, and everything to do with computers.
In fact, he hadn’t touched a horse since he was fifteen years old, that time on his birthday, when they went to the horse-riding camp on Cape Cod. He remembered the nag they gave him: A nasty black and white pinto. The thing had bucked all over the place. Wouldn’t put out when he had encouraged it. “Give it a little kick,” the guy had said. And the bucking started and didn’t stop until he returned the evil thing back to the wrangler a half hour later. That was his only memory of horses, except for the dream. Throughout the day, all he could think about, all he saw, was horses; Horses on TV, horses on billboards, horses in the park. He supposed they had always been around, he’d just never noticed them. But now, with this dream, this hot, sweaty, aromatic dream splendid of languor, it was fresh in his thoughts. And he knew that the Arabian especially had something on her mind.

After a solemn day of fighting traffic, plucking keys on his computer keyboard, eating lunch at a cheap fast food deli and then fighting traffic for an hour returning home, all of it almost feeling like a dream, House couldn’t get the horse dream out of his mind and he almost willed the night to come so he could get into bed. He dutifully complimented his wife on dinner, carefully watched the clock as his favorite TV shows ticked by, commercials on mute, his trusty clicker in hand. Finally, at 10 o’clock, with Penelope long asleep (she being the early riser in the family) he wrapped himself in the cool sheets, anticipating meeting the herd. A vague feeling of loneliness hung on him, his plump body shaking and bouncing on the air springs until at last he drifted off into a tintype dream of horses.

The arrived slowly, one by one, passing ever closer in a circle, each appearing in turn as if from a mist. The pinto moved in close and House could smell candy canes and mint. The palomino moved in close and he could smell his wife’s perfume. The Morgan moved in and he sensed his childhood and playing games with the neighborhood children, the smell of his leather football and baseball glove. He reached out and took the Morgan by the mane. He inhaled the smells and wrapped his arms around the horse’s neck. The Morgan flung him up onto her back and started to trot out into the field.

Heat rose in waves from the brown grasses and he could feel the sun bite the back of his neck. Muted colors glowed all around and as the horse moved closer to the river. A feeling of nostalgia overtook him. Gradually, rising out of the swaying grass and the scrub, the idea of his childhood home found shape. In front of him were the muted yellow of the clapboards, the umber of the back yard fence, the carousel close line white with linens. On the right, a slab porch and a green bulkhead leading to the dirt floor cellar. A barefoot boy of about seven came out the back door and, as the screen door slammed, sat on the porch and smiled up at strange rider.
“Hey mister, where’d you get that horse?”
House looked carefully at the boy, the short dirty-blond hair, the round pudgy face. A rush of adrenaline exploded in his chest and steamed into his head. The Earth seemed to be spinning faster. And in a flash he saw all of his childhood: The crying and sucking on a teething cookie, learning to walk, the football games in the back yard, his friends running to and fro in heavy pursuit each other, his mother, her light brown hair falling partially over one blue eye, wet pie crust in her hands, his high school years.
“Hey, Mister, can I ride your horse?” the boy called.
House focused on the boy and suddenly recognized himself. He remembered that he had seen a rider come to his back porch, through this same field, long ago, and he remembered the rider sitting in silence, staring down and saying nothing.
House turned the Morgan and kicked at its belly. They rode out into the field. The whole time he could see himself sitting on his old back porch, and knew everything he was thinking, everything that he did, had already done, and will do and there was nothing he could do to change it. It was as if it were inevitable, him doing the things he was doing, fulfilling a prophecy, the purpose of which was lost to him. He turned to face his old house and it faded into a dull ball of yellow and white, and suddenly exploded into a million small dots until there was nothing, and he awoke.

House sat up in bed gasping for air. Penelope reached out to him.
“Graham, what is it?’
“Horses!”
“You scared me!”
He took her arm, heaving deep breaths and said, “It’s okay. A dream is all.”
“Horses?”
“What?”
“You said, ‘horses.’”
“Yeah.”
They lay back and he moved close to her, wrapping his leg over hers, spooning her in the middle. His heart danced wildly in his chest. The young boys smiling face stayed clear in his mind, (he could count the freckles on his cheeks) but soon faded and nothing was left but the cool darkness of the room. Soon a profound sadness overtook him.
“Weird, thing is...” he whispered.
But she was half asleep and showing signs of discomfort from his body heat. He knew better than to try and talk to her now. Rolling onto his back, he pulled the sheets up to his chest, thinking of his old house, the back porch and the strange man that had ridden up, the man he knew now to be himself, on horseback, that hot summer day. And he slipped into a listless trance-like state, staring off into the dull nothingness that surrounded him. As he drifted off to sleep, muted yellow dots danced, oscillated in formations before him and coalesced into his childhood home. A sated feeling ran through him. Helpless to control his urge for more, wanting to delve deeper and stay longer in his strange dream, he began to weep. He wept for the boy on the porch, for his lost potential and for future that promised nothing more than what he already had.

On his way to work the next day he saw horses in a trailer and followed it off the wrong exit. Realizing his error too late, he found the nearest turn around and headed back in the direction of work. When he finally sat at his desk, he typed “horses” into a search engine and spent the day picking out horse screen savers. He found a web site devoted to horse stories, but found them unsatisfying, preferring to remember his own experiences. And suddenly it dawned on him that he had momentarily thought of his dreams as real experiences. Startled, he turned his attention to a project he’d begun the week before.

Traffic was heavy on the ride home and when he got to the “horse” exit, he found himself turning off the freeway and into an area he’d never been. He could almost see that same horse trailer he’d followed in front of him as he made a left turn off the down ramp. The languid feeling from the night before fell upon him like a fog, and he stared straight ahead, out at the road, turning left, then right, then right again, traveling for several minutes before stopping at a gated fence. He got out of the car and stood, silently staring off into a field. He looked down past the scrub brush and the small wooden barn, to a pretty palomino pony grazing on clumps of wet grass. As his world stretched into this long, lost moment, a light drizzle began to mist and he wiped his face with his sleeve. He coughed and cleared his throat. The horse’s head popped up, her ears reaching toward the sound. The chill of the afternoon dug through his thin coat and he walked back to the car. He sat in the driver seat, turned the key and kicked up the heat. After a few minutes, he turned the radio on low and, as if waking from a dream, realized he couldn’t remember how to get back to the freeway.
He turned toward the field and the horse stood close to the car, her head straining through the fence, motionless, her liquid eyes targeting him. He stared back at the horse, feeling dreamy and calm, thinking: What? What are you trying to tell me? A loud commercial sprang from the radio and it sent a jolt through him. He turned it off, thinking: No, no, I’m not dreaming. Am I? I’m awake, aren’t I? And for a second he wasn’t sure. He touched his puffy cheeks and swore they felt numb. Then rubbed his forehead red, hoping to feel that and he did. His heart jumped and pushed his racing pulse as he turned the car back onto the road and sped away. He turned off the heat, fighting the numbness of his despair, telling himself to pull out of it, that this was sinking too far from reason. But even as the adrenaline raced through his body, fighting the narcotic lure of his fantasy, he could feel the horse dream pulling him back. The thin veil of desire wafted over him, filled him, calming, pulling him back until at last, he sat sated, quiet, heading home on the dark road.

It’s not that Penelope didn’t like children. She just had a problem with being pregnant. She had a hard time taking two aspirin for a headache, never mind having her stomach grow uncontrollably, hormones raging through her body. She liked things just the way they were. Normal. It was always good when things were normal: Early to bed, early to rise. Eat at seven, noon and five, shower everyday at the same time. Not too hot, not too cold. Just right. Normal. So when House started to question her about why they didn’t have any children again, saying that an empty spot touched his heart, she was silent. He pressed her and started talking about the horses, how the Arabian, he was sure, was giving him a sign of childbirth. That it was natural and right to drink from the stream of life. To breach and let life flow out from her body. He explained how the Morgan had reminded him of his own childhood, the blissful, happy times when he would run in the fields and laugh and jump and play ball, the lovely feeling of freedom. She sat stony-faced at the kitchen table holding a piece of white fish on her fork, staring over the light-blue rim glasses on the end of her nose. Her lips pursed and puckered, as if giving weight to her thoughts.
“You know what the doctor said. If we try again, you could lose both of us.”
“But it wasn’t an absolute,” he said, smiling. “It’s not like it’s written in stone: ‘If you get pregnant, this will happen!’”
“I don’t want to talk about it right now, Graham. I’m tired.” She scrapped off her plate and began loading the dishwasher.
“We could try again, is all I’m saying.”
She held her stomach, turned toward the sink and started to run the water.
Petulant, groggy from the meal, Graham laid himself out on the living room sofa and stared up at the shadowy corners of the darkening living room. He remembered the awful day Penelope had bled so much. She’d shaken him awake, her hands cold as ice, staring at him dumb struck. Her face pasty white, eyes sunken and red, shaking involuntarily, stuttering what the matter was. He’d wrapped her in blankets and carried her to the car, his mind only on saving her, to hell with the baby. He remembered her frightened looks, the bone white of her cheeks, her trembling. The Doctor had been very concerned, stating only, “she’s so very far along,” as they wheeled her into the operating room. Those hours waiting, the longest he’d ever spent slipped by as a rock through flesh. On the cell phone one minute, crying the next. Drinking coffee and vomiting it up in the men’s room, until at last the doctor came and told him it was done. The child was gone.
“Was it a girl or a boy?”
“A girl. But your wife is going to be all right.”
And he burst into tears, profusely thanking the doctor.
Graham opened his eyes, shifting his weight on the couch. Darkened tree limbs danced and swayed near the window above his head, casting shadows on the walls. He followed the moving shadows for a while, thinking of them as his horses, wild, beautiful, free. Then he drifted off.

As the dream took shape, he saw himself jumping through the tall, pale grasses beyond his childhood home. The warm wind licked his face as he turned to see the huge horse before him. Twelve feet tall, the monster horse stood snorting and grunting, masterfully shaking its mane. House lunged for its neck, but could not wrap his arms around it. Frustrated and a little frightened, he looked down at the massive round hoof near his foot, the weight of it digging into the ground. He felt it would be rooted there forever if he didn’t get it to move and he looked back up at the snorting beast.
“How do I ride you?”
The horse glanced at him with a bored eye, winked and trotted off toward the stream.
Graham ran after and soon found himself in the circle of horses, the dust beneath their hooves rising high in the air as they trotted round and round. Faster and faster they galloped. The huge horse stood hands taller than the rest, its proud eye staring at Graham, daring him to come forward and ride. Suddenly, he was snatched back to the sofa and he found himself staring up into the face of Penelope as she stood over him, whispering into his ear.
“Come to bed, dear. Come.”
And as he got up to follow, he touched her thigh and gave it a squeeze. She didn’t say a word but trotted up the stairs and disappeared into the bathroom. Graham climbed into bed fighting the ether veil of sleep. He reached for Penelope’s leg and she gave a sigh, mouthed a few incoherent words and turned onto her stomach. Remembering her naked body, her smooth thighs and flat tummy as she had walked naked from her shower, admiring how youthful she’d kept herself, he longed to feel her now. He reached for her again, pulling back her hair, kissing her face. She smiled and said, “I love you, Graham.”
“I love you, too, Penelope.”
He pulled the sheets up to his neck, feeling his fat stomach rub against bed as he turned onto his side, then stillness, staring into the dark. Soon his eyes grew tired and he closed them.

Graham stood bright eyed and fixed upon the white Arabian, her snout opening delicately contoured above her dark muzzle. The musculature of her body was sharp and beautifully modeled. He felt her strong back, dark legs, held her snout in his fingers.
“This is my very best work.”
“What dear?” Penelope leaned over the counter, browsing the Sunday Paper.
“This one. The Arabian. It’s my best one, don’t you think?”
She turned and glanced over her blue rimmed reading glasses and smiled.
“Very nice,” she said.
Graham took the six-inch wooden model and lightly brushed some white latex paint onto the eye. It looked startled, he noticed. Not at all like the strong Arabian he’d seen in his dreams. Perhaps he needed something more off-white, something comfortable, perhaps a tinge more beige so it wouldn’t upset the balance of color.

Upstairs standing next to her side of the bed, he placed the beautiful model on the alarm clock facing his wife’s pillow. The suitcase behind him in the closet was already packed. All he had to was pick it up and walk away. Holding the heavy suitcase in both hands, he stared at the king size bed for a long time. The boy he’d seen from horseback was a distant memory now, and the gnawing need to hold him, to never let him go, tell him what he must do overwhelmed him. But he knew the boy wouldn’t listen, to anyone, let alone a man unknown to him and he began to weep. Great sobs heaved from his chest. He dropped the suitcase with a thunderous boom.
“Are you all right?” Penelope called.
“Just fine, Dear,” he managed to say.
After a while he walked downstairs and placed the finished horse on the top shelf of the study and stood back to admire his work. There was a Morgan, a palomino, a standard and now the Arabian. His “circle of horses” was nearly complete. They had become his passion, his playmates, and his hobby. And even as the memory of the horse dreams began to fade, the horses brought him great joy and comfort in the long nights he spent carving and painting them from mere blocks of wood.

The End

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dream State (Continuation of a novel)


My cell phone buzzed and rattled itself off the nightstand and onto my shoes. I looked down and saw the name, FRANK, brightly lit on the screen.
“Shit!” I said aloud, and rolled over for a few for hours more sleep. This self employment gig was gonna be a pain in the ass. I mean, desperate people do desperate things, especially when they can transfer some of that raw energy onto someone else. Frank was no exception. He called two more times in ten minutes, no doubt wanting answers I didn’t have. My head started to fill with ideas, things I could tell him. Your sister is fine and will live a long and happy life. Unfortunately, she will die, someday at the hands of, or rather, the fangs of an ill tempered water moccasin down on the pond walk at the retirement home in Celebration, Florida. Your sister is healthy as a horse; it’s you who has to be concerned, Fat Man. No, of course I couldn’t say that, it wouldn’t be ethical. Besides, I hated to tell Frank anything like this, besides I had feeling I’d get some answers in those boxes of magazines.
I leaned over and pressed “return call.”
“Frank!” I said shaking off a sleepy voice, “I just got out of the shower.”
“I need to see you,” he said in his usual calm, mannered voice.
“Certainly. What time?”
“As soon as you can.”
“Is anything wrong?”
“No.”
I heard the cat purring on the line.
“Okay, how about…” The alarm clock burned an amber 11:00 AM. “In an hour?”
“Very well. I’ll see you then.”
“And Gus?”
“Yes?”
“Bring, Peanuts.”
Before I could get up and hit the shower, the phone rang from “CALLER UNKNOWN.” I pressed the answer button.
“Yes?”
“Hello, is this, August?”
I cleared my throat and tried to place the voice.
“August Chase?” The voice asked again.
“Who’s calling?”
“You don’t know me, my name is Carla Donati. I think you knew my sister?”
“Oh?” Immediately, I tired to place that name, Donati.
“Her name was Emma.”
I froze. “Emma?”
“Emma Donati. You spoke with her several times last month?”
“Did I?” It raced back into my brain like yesterday’s nightmare.
“I need to see you.”
“Oh?”
“I understand it’s kind of awkward, but could you meet me at the Boat House Café in Central Park?”
“When?”
“Sorry, I meant to say at about three o’clock this afternoon?”
“This afternoon?”
“I’m sorry for the short notice, but it’s the best time for me this week.”
“Okay. I guess. What’s this about?”
“I think you know.”
“Is it about the mugging? Because really, I had nothing-“
“I just have to ask a few questions…please, meet me?”
Her voice sounded edgy, like she was about to crack. I stared out the window wondering if this was some extended version of the “Emma” dream, a warped kind of epilogue to her life story.
“Carla, I’ll meet you, but I can’t stay long. Got a lot of things going on today,” I lied.
“Thank you.”
Still holding the phone, I caught sight of a man standing across the street from my apartment. He seemed to be looking right at me. The camera he held flashed a few times. I got closer to the window in time to see him walk around the corner. I noticed he wore a dark leather motorcycle jacket and black jeans, but he didn’t mount a bike. Then a motorcycle zipped past my window.
“Hello? Are you still there?” I asked, not aware she’d hung up. I didn’t hear the click at the other end. Why did I agree to see her? What could she possibly want from me? Unless she thought I was some kind of nut fulfilling a deadly prophecy? I was sure she’d have the cops there waiting for me. Already things were turning to shit and I hadn’t even had my coffee yet.

I’ll Do That.

Peanut fit snuggly into a plastic shopping bag. I’d take him out before I got to the fat man’s apartment. Didn’t want him to think I was disrespectful of his little buddy. Just as I turned the corner onto Frank’s street, I saw motorcycle jacket guy walking toward me. I stopped short and pressed my back against the building as he got buzzed into Frank's building. An hour late and look what I find; Frank dealing in dirty little secrets. This guy was starting to scare me. Stepping into a nearby coffee shop, I ordered a cup and sat at a small table near the window. I typed Frank’s name into my phone search engine to see what popped up. Frank Cosh didn’t show up anything. I typed in Frank Cosh, New Hampshire, his place of birth, and that came up another blank. Did Frank send him to spy on me? Why would he do that, some sort of test? Was he a control freak and wanted to check me out? The hell with Frank and his scary Motorcycle Jacket spy, the Lantern had a burger calling my name, and I had a few question for my friend Millar.

A half hour later as I sat perched at the bar, sipping a Bass ale, received a call from Frank. I apologized and told him a friend had died unexpectedly and that I had to be there for the family. Saying he understood, we arranged to meet at six o’clock at his place. Then I turned back to Millar.
“So you’re telling me you only know Frank through this online astronomy site, Manhattan Observers, and you’ve never met the man or know what he does or how he gets his money?”
“If I knew the Fat Man, then I’d be complicit in a spy operation centered on your doorway and I have no interest in your doorway,” Millar said.
“Come on, Mill, you’ve got me mixed up with a freak.”
“Hey, you’re the Dream Detective, just tell him you didn’t dream anything and go on your way.”
“I’ll do that.”
“Good.”
“Yeah, good, the guy's a freak show.” I said and finished my pint of Bass.
Millar got up and put a few coins in the juke box and waited for the buttons to light up. Nothing happened.
“Hey,” he shouted, “What the fuck, Al?”
The bartender walked over to the jukebox and pulled the plug. “Sorry, forgot to unplug it. It’s been eating money all day.”
“Well, shit! Thanks for the warning.”
“Here, I’ll give you your money back, yah big baby.”
Allen santered behind the bar and slapped a few quarters down in front of Millar.
“Fucking joint,” Millar started to walk away, I took his arm.
“Why do you think the Fat Man would be interested in me? Is he a writer of some sort?”
“How the fuck should I know? You’re the Sleeping Detective.”
“Nice. Is that going to be your retort to all things relating to me from now on? Dream Detective, Sleep Detective, what the hell?”
“Got a nice ring to it.” Millar smiled. “I gotta pee, Sleeping Detective. Sir.”
“Great, Mill. Thanks ever so much. I knew I could count on you.”
I sat sat ruminating on the Fat Man's spy and possible motives for checking me out.
When Millar got back to the bar, he sat hard on his chair and turned to me.
“I think he’s got something to hide and wants you…”
“Wants me?”
“He wants you to find something for him?”
“But he was so vague. He said he was worried about his sister, who I assume is still in New Hampshire. That’s not very specific.”
“Exacty! He wants to see how safe this secret is.”
“That’s nuts,” I said.
“That’s right. It is nuts. Fuck it.”
Millar downed the rest of his beer and we both ordered a burger.

The park seemed almost empty in the late afternoon. I was feeling bit skittish after seeing Motorcycle Jacket taking pictures of my apartment, and wasn’t feeling very brave approaching the Boat House. I sat on a high wall on the back side of the property, kind of out of the way, and watched people as they came and went. Of course, I was an hour late, but hey, if she really wanted to see me, she’d still be there, right?
After a while I was starting to feel a bit guilty for standing her up, so I walked sheepishly into the restaurant and stood in the entrance. A dark haired woman, about thirty five and carrying two brightly colored museum bags, walked toward me. Instinctively, I covered my face and started to turn away, but held my ground as she approached.
“Carla?” I asked.
The woman gave me a sad nod and kept walking out of the building. I followed.
“Sorry I’m so late." I called after. "But I’m here now if you want to talk.”
She kept walking. I chased. “Look, things are a bit messed up right now and I’m sorry, okay? But I didn’t kill your sister.”
The woman half turned, a panicked look in her eye.
“Carla?”
The woman walked faster still.
“Yes?”
A strong female voice hit me from behind. I turned and saw a tall, light skinned woman with dark hair. I turned back and saw the other woman scurry off, her shopping bags flapping against her knees as she tried desperately to run up the small hill.
“You have a way with women,” she said.
“Look, I thought she was you.”
“Are you going to chase me up the hill, too?”
“What? No, I –“
Her smile stopped my plea.
“Okay, you got me. I’m a deranged stalker. You’ve nailed it.”
A look of sadness came over her. We just stood there avoiding eye contact for what seemed like a minute or two but was probably only seconds. She seemed to be thinking about what she already knew she was going to say. An extremely attractive woman, her even features, full lips and dark shoulder length hair were instantly alluring.
“How did you know my sister was going to get killed?” She asked finally.
I looked away. What was I going to say? There was so much to say, so much I could tell her. So much I should never tell anyone. The hair flopped around on my head as the wind picked up. Scattered leaves flew into the corners and crags of the wall. Her mid-length raincoat flew up in the back. I smiled slightly, hoping to break the ice a bit.
“Let’s get a cup of coffee,” I said.
She nodded and we walked back into the Boat House.
I remember once a disc jockey doing his little spiel about talking to women, his deep radio voice going on about a specific woman he'd seen, saying “She was a living doll but you, you know you’re nothing to look at…” And I remember thinking, really? Guys think that way? Well, shit, I don’t! I’m a good looking guy and I know it. I’ve never been intimidated by a woman in my life. Taken off guard, maybe, once or twice, but never really intimidated. I've always found something to say, creeping along until on easily found common ground until a spark ignighted. If that’s arrogant then so be it. I just think of myself as confident with the ladies. Only once did I stammer in the face of a beautiful woman. I was selling magazine subscriptions for my high school sports program back in Massachusetts, door to door. I'd come to a fairly nice house at the top of a cul-de-sac and knocked, puffing myself up with some energy to do my best sell. And when the door opened, there stood the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I can’t even describe her as looking like a real person. I’d say the closest thing I’d seen was a painting we had in the living room of a “gypsy girl.” Dark hair, great big brown eyes, perfectly shaped nose and eyebrows. Curly locks pulled back just enough to reveal a large gold hoop on her ear. Well, I stood there and couldn’t even speak to the woman. Finally, out came something like, “You buy this?”
Carla took my breath away. And the feeling that she wasn’t quite human crept upon me the way it did that day I was selling door to door. What the hell was I going to say to her?
We sat silently sipping our drinks. I got a regular cup and she had a decaf latte. The water beyond the large glass windows rippled in the intermittent gusts. Leaves blew around the back deck. A few boaters leisurely rowed in and out of the rental area. I felt frozen in my chair, like I’d been dipped in dry ice and left on a pedestal for the chain saw. Her eyes were clear and bright and radiated intelligence.
“My sister was murdered.”
“I know.”
“You knew.”
“Well, yeah.”
“I mean ahead of time,” she looked out the windows and back to me. “Give me a reason you would know that, or why I shouldn’t have my friend over there bring you in?”
I followed her gaze to a man in a long trench coat standing on the corner, and looking back at me.
“What is this?” I asked.
“This? This is a cup of coffee,” she took a deep breath and added, “For now.”
“Okay, so I’m supposed to be intimidated or what?”
“He’s here for my protection.”
“You think you need protection from me, I’m gonna kill the whole family now?”
“It’s a tough city.”
“But I’m not a tough guy.”
“We all need some protection.”
“I could use some myself.”
“Get your own guy.”
“How much do they cost?”
“I don’t know, I ask friends.”
“I don’t have any friends.”
“That’s too bad. But I can’t blame them.”
We looked into each others eyes.
“You really think I had something to do with your sister’s murder?”
“Did you?”
“I just told you I didn’t.”
“I didn’t hear you say it.”
“But that’s what I meant.”
I sipped my coffee. She took her cup and sipped.
“So do we keep on like this or do you want to tell me something?” She put her drink down and turned the cup handle to a 45 degree angle.
“You used to be a waiter?” I asked.
She smiled and asked, “How did you know?”
“I’m starting to think I’m a bit of a detective.”
“A detective? What was my sister wrapped up in?”
“I don’t know.”
“But you were on a case when you saw her?”
“Sort of. I do a lot of freelance work, on my own.”
“And she came into this case somehow?”
“Look, there wasn’t a case, okay? I dream things and sometimes they come true.”
“What? What are you saying?” She asked.
“Didn’t your sister tell you what I do?”
She nodded, “No.”
I turned to the man on the sidewalk and then back to her. “Listen, you’d think I was nuts if I tried to explain what’s going on. I’m not a cop, I don’t have a badge. I’m just a guy who sees things and tries to help, that’s all.”
She looked crest fallen, her eyes darting to the man outside and back to her latte.
“Your sister was a sweet girl. I don’t think she was mixed up in anything illegal, at least it didn’t appear that way.”
“But if you’re not a detective, then how do you know?”
I sat back exasperated.
She looked at the man again and seemed to nod in his direction. This sent a shrill of panic through me.
“Okay, wait. Call off your guy.”
“I just did.”
“Oh.” I sat back a bit relieved. “Why did you do that?”
“He had to go. But I can get him on the phone right away!” Her voice shot higher on those last words and I knew she was still scared.
At the next table, a young couple got up. I noticed they’d left behind a Village Voice. I leaned forward looking her straight in the eyes. “Okay, here’s the deal. I’m gonna explain to you what I do. You’re gonna have to trust I’m telling you the truth. If you don’t believe me, then I guess you’ll never understand how I got involved with your sister, but if you do, we’ll have it settled right here and now.”
I grabbed the copy of the Voice, found my ad and laid it out in front of her. “Read right here,” I said, pointing.
She put her nose in the paper, read a bit and looked up at me.
“This?” An incredulous lilt weaved through her voice.
“Yes. This”
“You’re a physic?”
“I hate that word.”
“And you’re trying to tell me that you knew this thing was going to happen to my sister? “I did everything I could to warn her.”
“This is just too weird.”
She stood up and put five dollars on the table.
“She just wouldn’t listen to what I had to say.”
“A psychic. Oh my God. How much did she give you?”
“What?”
“How much did you bilk out of her?”
“It’ not like that.”
Carla started to walk away.
“I’m telling you the truth! I saw what was going to happen.”
“I shouldn’t have come here,” she said half to herself, and then she turned to me, her eyes lit with sparks. “You’re a bad person, Mister…” She shook her head, trying to remember my last name. A tear streaked her cheek. Her tone was mystified, incredulous, beaten; she secured her jacket belt and walked out the door.
to be cont'd...

Registered with WGA
Copyright 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dream State (Part Three)


Okay fiction fans, it's time to blast off with part three. Our hero meets "the Fat Man." And things are changed...and we meet Millar!



My first case: The Fat Man Sings

Bright and shiny of spirit, light hearted at the prospect of making some money and potentially helping people, I pushed any potential dream subjects out of my conscious mind. My first paying customer was a fat man named, Frank Cosh, who lived in the village in a run down four story walk up. He had a toothless grin, thinning hair and soup stains on his tent-size, button down shirt. With an elegant vocabulary, Frank spoke well of all those around him and while he greeted me, held a fat tabby named, “Peanuts.”
“Where do we begin?” He asked gliding his three hundred odd pounds past stacks of boxes holding old newspaper clippings, books and magazines. The boxes swayed and nearly tipped as he walked past. I guessed I was supposed to follow, so I did. We ended up in a far back bedroom which held the largest bed I’d ever seen. Between the boxes stuffed to capacity and tipping perilously toward me, I found myself seated in a small wood chair at the foot of the bed. Peanuts stared at me like I’d done something magical he’d been trying to figure out his whole life. The fat man smiled as he laid his head on his well troughed pillow.
“I don’t usually consult psychics, but I had a feeling when I read your ad, I don’t know, something came over me. I’m worried about my sister, Marion.”
“I see,” I said, nodding confidently. “Well, we’ll see what we can see.”
He smiled again, and then his face got serene and quiet. Laying a hand on his cat’s head, he rubbed its nose with his fat thumb and said, “I think she’s going to die.”
A flush went through me. I had a strong urge to bolt out of his bedroom. What was I thinking? I can’t do this. I can’t dream on demand. I have to be under stress, physical stress. I have to be pushed to my limit, tired, vulnerable, scared, and cold to have any kind of meaningful occurrence. Besides, hadn’t I been guided to these people by some connective force? Okay, maybe I exaggerate, but shit, I couldn’t just go into a trance, I had to be pushed into it.
“Okay,” I said, “but you know how this works?”
He nodded his head yes, but had a blank look that said, no.
“Okay’ let me lay it all out for you. I have to get to know you, see? I find out the facts and desires, your desires, well, maybe not your desires, but I get to know you, your essence.”
“My essence? That’s sounds rather…, don’t you think?”
“Well, what other way do you want me to explain it? Besides, I can’t do anything here. I can’t do a trance. I have to dream it. I have to sleep, and then I tell you what I see.”
“Oh,” he sounded down hearted.
“You did read my ad, right?”
“Yes, but I thought you’d trance sleep or something and I could get the results right away?”
“Sorry, Frank, I know in this age of instant gratification that’s what you want, but that’s not how it works.”
We spent the next two hours chatting. A quiet, intelligent man, I surmised he’d succumbed to his many phobias years before and was basically trapped in his self-made tomb, a living ghost, as it were. His only contact with the outside world was the internet and TV, and the germs his cat tracked in through the window after a night out. His money had come and gone from a telephone answering service he’d managed. Having briefly flourished in the early eighties, it died a quick, silent death in the early nineties when cell phones became readily available. Since then he’d been living off a small inheritance he’d gotten from his uncle. That was enough information for me to try and get a dream. After handing me an old stuffed rabbit, as a sort of memento/guide/talisman, I assumed, I walked home and proceeded to get drunk.
Okay, I lied. This part of the story is where things start to get complicated. I try to tell only the barest essentials, and sometimes I don’t tell the whole story because I just can’t face some things I’ve done. But mostly because there are certain people in this story that I’d rather forget. Now that I said that, I may as well admit it. I really didn’t place an ad in the Village Voice. Well, I did, but I didn’t get Frank as a client that way. Okay, that’s where I lied. Sue me. I was trying to avoid having to mention Millar Milford. I’m ashamed I knew him and that for a long time, he was my only friend, but now I realize how important he was to all this.
Millar and I met at The Lantern, a sleazy little bar that used to be a fairly nice pub. Good burgers, fish and chips. Soccer games showing on the television. Wood shavings covered the floor. The bartender was a freak named Allen, was skinny as a pole because he’d started on a Macrobiotic Diet several months back and thought he looked just peachy with .02 percent body fat. Allen had gotten mean in his skinniness. Thought he was above the lowly swine that haunted his late night establishment. For all I know he was a snooty English Major at the New School. What do I care? He was a prick.
Anyway, one night I’m trying to forget this one recurring dream where a girl named, Francine, I’d tracked to the Bronx gets her head ripped off by a city bus while she’s out for a nice Sunday bike ride. I’d heard of this type of accident before. It almost happened to me once. The bike rider is moving along, extra careful of traffic, studying the insane cabs coming at you, the people darting in and out. Then a bus comes along from behind, cuts you off and takes a right hand turn in front of you. The bus covers part of the curb, your trying desperately to get onto the curb and the next thing you know you have scrambled brains all over the sidewalk. So, I’m sitting in The Lantern trying to get this image out of my head, thinking up ways I can get this girl to understand she’s gonna have her head popped, when this geeky looking guy named, Millar buys me a round. Then he buys me another and another. Pretty soon I was hearing all about his pathetic life, how his wife was gone and he was stuck holding the bill for an extended honeymoon she’d never intended to finish, blah, blah, blah. The guy could talk. And he had money, lots of it. He was a computer geek and made millions selling a few software programs that allowed other programs to talk to each other of some such nonsense. It was all Greek to me. I just felt sorry for him because he was one lonely, shy dude, a bit on the rude side, and had the social skills of a wasp. Every other sentence he’d blurt out something nasty he’d seen or heard or noticed about you.
“Hey, that’s a nice zit you got there,” or “Gee, you got a scar on your nose, you know that?” or “You know how when you jerk off in the tub the sperm sticks to you?”
I don’t even have a big nose. He’s warped. Anyway, I didn’t want to tell you about Millar, because quite frankly, he’s a pain in the ass. But after a while he grows on you. So, one night he comes up with this idea for an ad in the Voice. “Take control of this thing,” he says. “Make some money off it.”
At the time I was an Exhibit Technician at the Natural History Museum, and not making a whole lot of dough. I’d wanted to be a writer, but that’s another story. So, I took him up on the classified ad idea, but before I even processed the idea he gets all excited and says he knows this guy looking for a psychic and he could call him for me. A guy he met in an online group of astronomy enthusiasts. (You should hear the whole “Red Dwarf Star” lecture) So I explained to him about the whole dream thing. About not forcing the dream subject on me, but he was so enthusiastic, a rare thing for this guy, that I took him up on it. More about Millar later, I just wanted, well, had to introduce him before I got too far into the story because he comes back to haunt it. Now I don’t feel so guilty. And besides, he ended up coming through for me.
Anyway, after visiting the fat man and going home and downing a few beers, I took a hot shower, laid out some comfy bed clothes and started to meditate. I wanted to clear my mind and really focus in. I sat on the floor and stared at a candle flame as it danced above the wax. After I relaxed a bit, I put on my bed clothes, took firm grasp of his rabbit, “Peter” I think he said its name was, and lay down on my bed. I put a tee shirt over the lamp to dim the lights and began a humming meditation. That’s where you hum to the point of it blocking out all else but the sound. After a while I felt myself drifting into a slushy, sputtering dream. Images formed from static pulses. The fat man is sitting on his bed, smiling, angles of the room where he sits, boxes toppling over, magazines falling to the floor. I look at one of the magazines; an old Life filled with hazy color photos. One of the photos is moving. I see a girl, no, not a girl but a slender, tall young woman. She’s attractive in a “fifties” kind of way. Her lips are bright red, hair done up like a Jane Mansfield publicity still. She moves in a staccato, frame by frame walk across the page. She leans down to a fat little baby, shakes her finger at it. “Don’t cry,” she seems to be saying. The baby crawls off. I follow it to the next page. It crawls over to another baby, a little girl wearing a pink ribbon in her hair, and pulling at her tiny little booties. Suddenly the fat baby pushes the girl baby off the page. She gets up, crying, and runs off into the shadows of the room. It went black. I woke up. I looked at the stuffed rabbit, encouraged I could even conjure up the fat man at all.
“Peter,” I said, “this is going to be one tough ride. But the fat man is going to get his answers.” I turned over to go to sleep when an idea popped into my head. I’d dreamed in black and white until now, but this was a kind of rich hazy color. Of course, Life Magazine was known for the color photography. There’s something else I didn’t get, something about those boxes of magazines. I had to see them for myself.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dream State (Part Two)


A few months ago I posted the first section of a novel I was writing called Dream State. You can go back to past posts to find it. This is the next section.


My first attempted rescue: Beaten but not whipped.

Pablo Carrillo, the dude in the car, didn’t realize his life was in danger. Nor did he think the gringo who knocked on his door that afternoon was anything worth mentioning to his wife, Phyllis. It wasn’t until the gringo started hanging around the corner deli near his apartment that he started to take the situation seriously, and not in the way the gringo had wanted, but in a way that could get the gringo hurt. At least, this is the impression I got from him when he grabbed me by the shirt and pushed me down in the corner of the store.
“Get out of my neighborhood, you understand me?”
“I’m trying to tell you you’re in danger!”
Carrillo hauled back, held his fist above my head ready to let loose.
“You think I want to be here?” I asked. “I hate this. I hate this.”
Carrillo lowered his fist, looked at the deli guy watching us.
“What are you looking at?”
The deli guy picked up a telephone and began to dial.
“Now you get the fuck out of my face or I swear I’ll put you deep in the ground.”
“It’s a bridge,” I started desperately, trying to sound as sincere and foreboding as possible, “I see a bridge and you’re crossing it. You have on a suit. A wedding? Are you going to a –“
The vision began playing in my head. All I could see was the truck coming at me. I was behind the dashboard, and the truck comes so fast he doesn’t have time to react. In an instant I feel the impact. My chest heaves, I try to catch my breath. My body convulses and contorts as the car wraps around me.
Carrillo stepped back, his fist still balled. I could feel the blood come to my mouth, my lip bleeding.
“You’re sick, dude. I didn’t even hit you! Get yourself to a fucking hospital.” Carrillo ran out of the store. I laughed to myself, but the pain in my chest was overwhelming. I saw black.
My face was cold. Numbness snaked up the side of my head from my ear to the top of my skull. I sat up, brushed pebbles from my cheek. I’d seen him crash and die. There was nothing I could do to stop it. It came, it happened and it finished, like a ride in an amusement park. It did what it was programmed to do and that was that. I’d tracked him down for nothing. He and Phyllis were going to crash on that bridge and fall into the river on their way to a wedding and there was nothing anyone could do about it. I turned my head and saw the deli guy looking at me from his window. No doubt he’d dragged me to the street, empathetic fucker. Yeah, I see you.
“I love you, too,” I said out loud, knowing he couldn’t hear me.
He turned away.
Okay, so there had to be a way to channel this stuff, synthesize it into a form I could deal with rather than chasing some guy until he thinks I’m nuts. Anyway, that’s what I was thinking. That was the plan, until I finally got it down to a science. You want facts and figures? I can give you that. You want times and places? I can give you that, too. You want to know who; it’s going to cost you. Cuz that’s what I do. Well, sort of. That was just three months ago, years from the time I’d had my first dream.




The Case of Emma

Cabrillo was not my first attempt to understand the reality of what I was dreaming. My first few dreams had faded as quickly as they’d come. Actually, Cabrillo came immediately after another set of disturbing dreams about a young woman named, Emma. The dreams by this time were longer, more concise. I began to see little details, such as the time of day or night, the weather, what they were wearing. And I just happen to wake up right away. That was the key to remembering.
In the case of Emma, I’d dreamed her death twice the first week, then three times the next week, then every night and twice during the day in the last week, when they stopped. I hadn’t connected her to anything real. Outside of enduring a horrible recurring nightmare, and a slightly bloodied nose, I just figured she was a mythical being I’d made up. I did however, out of curiosity, call a young woman I thought might be Emma and tried to warn her. She didn’t take it well. I tired to have a serious conversation with her, but she was spooked beyond imagination. I’d even given her my name and phone number in case she changed her mind and wanted to work with me. The more she resisted the more I attacked. I followed her to school, to work, to the dentist. I ran into her at a restaurant, in the subway, near a bus stop. One day the dreams just stopped and I was free, able move on. Or so I thought. A week or so later I was having lunch at a local restaurant and I saw her picture on the wall. On it was a memorial poem dedicated to her memory; her photo graced the bottom half of the poster. My heart stopped when I saw the picture. She had a straight white smile, shoulder length dirty blonde hair and was wearing chef whites, just as I had seen her in my dreams. The tag line below the picture stated she’d died on January 7th of that year, the victim of a brutal late night mugging in midtown Manhattan. I didn’t have to be told the details. I’d seen it several times. Now I knew for certain I was dreaming reality before it happened. In essence, I was a time traveler. A spirit roaming the dark halls of time, plucking out this event or that, all relating to the death of someone I didn’t even know existed before my subconscious brought me to them.

Fast forward a few weeks.

Once I’d started to put things together, figure out what I could do with this “gift,” I placed an ad in the Village Voice under “psychic readings.” In it I detailed my ability to dream the future and warn paying customers of what may be. The only problem was I didn’t know if it was a lie or not, because I’d never tried it on anyone in particular. I’d always been brought to a stranger in my dreams, as if guided by some unknown force, and it always took me a few days to track them down. Each time I’d ended up with nothing but heartache and hurt for my troubles. Funny thing is, I was always shocked and amazed that I could track down the subjects in my dreams. They never believed me. Would you? So, the hell with it, I was going into the dream business for real and make some money. Get rewarded for services rendered.

Friday, December 10, 2010

On aging and Creativity


We all share in the state of being human. Of knowing our fate even as we start our journey in life. Theatre is a way to share bits and pieces of our emotional life with others. To relate to our own and others experiences and see it acted out in a concrete forum. Our intellects are tied closely to our emotions, informing our decisions, influencing our tastes. One thing I've noticed is that as age comes upon us, for many people, tolerance for frustration and difficult circumstances decreases and we do not want to deal with difficult problems the way we may have in our youth. A difficult person is avoided. Uncomfortable circumstances are circumvented. This is done through experience. I figured out a long time ago that certain battles, situations and problems were worth avoiding at all costs. I used to take on all challenges head on. I was constantly swimming up stream. But I’ve come to realize many challenges are not worth the effort. Writing, on the other hand has become easier for me, and is similar to the dream state. At times I simply feel like I'm writing down what I'm seeing composed in my head and have very little to do with it, except giving it a nudge here and a nudge there. Creativity can be changed by drugs, but not exclusively. I think depression and emotional exhaustion can be crippling, and can come upon you like a wave. The trick is to recognize the symptoms as they build and to head off the “event” with some sort of intervention.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Importance of Players


Being a playwright without a company to write for and have performances is like an artisan making a product with no store to sell at. It's frustrating at the very least. And what's ironic is now, more than ever, people have decided they want to be writers. Gone are the days when a writer actually had venues to go to. The most important thing a writer needs is support. He needs a sounding board he can trust and a venue in which to develop his product and ideas. Shakespeare had a company of players to write for. So did Ibsen. It is the most important step in a process of play development. Honing a script through readings and staged reading is the key to really getting a play to fly and unfortunately, unless you are in a place where these things are readily available through a company of associates, it is very difficult to put together. Once the playwright actually hears the words, sees the intent in the actors interpretations, hones the line reading and finds jokes that may not be evident but need to be unearthed. Then can the work proceed to greatness. However, these days it seems the playwright has to hone his stuff toward acceptance of the status quo or go It alone. Try as he will to get his words into the mouths of actors. This takes time, talent and money away from the playwright. Gone are the days of the many outlets and venues that used to be available to the writer. Now the pie has been cit so small that even a tiny piece has its costs. Doubly so in this terrible economy. You can't eat words, but they can sure eat at you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bowling For Miracles 10 pages

Here's 10 pages of my new stage play, Bowling for Miracles. It's a comedy in 2 acts.
Copyright 2010 (c)
Registered with WGA



SCENE 3

Saturday afternoon, PAM’S living room. Dom has spread newspapers over the dining room table and on the floor. He devours one article after another, snickering as he does. After a few beats, Pam comes out of the kitchen.


PAM
Did you want-
Pam is surprised by the mess.

What are you doing?

DOM
This stuff is killing me!

PAM
What are you looking for?

DOM
I’m just reading.

PAM
Get them off of my table. Go on!

DOM
Look at this!

PAM
No.

DOM
Come here. Look at this one.

PAM(Reading)
Vampire boy found in bat cave...

DOM
Look at the picture! Can you believe that?

PAM
Get that off of my table.

DOM
Look at this! Look! “Man with two hearts donates one to next door neighbor!” Oh, that’s a good one! Can you believe they print this crap? Classic!

PAM
Move it or lose it!

DOM removes the papers to the floor revealing empty table. Pam does the following dialogue while setting table for three. Pam EXITS to Kit.

DOM
You got to see this one! Pam! Come on! Come out here a second.


PAM (O.S.From Kitchen)
Why are you reading that junk?

DOM
Perfect!

Pam enters from Kitchen carrying settings. Sets table.

PAM
They just make that stuff up. Imagine? They get paid for writing false stories like that.

DOM
Well, it’s a gold mine for somebody. Somebody’s making a mint! You can count
on that! You think they don’t make a lot of money writing this stuff? What do they charge for these things? A buck? Two bucks?

PAM
You’re the one wasting money.

DOM
I bet some of it’s true. Some of it could be true. Like this! See here? A man grew a radish in the shape of a chicken. Look at the size of that thing! What is it? A radish? Does that look like a chicken to you?

PAM
You want me to heat some bread?

DOM
That would be great. I mean it’s not the reason I bought these things. The miracle crap! That’s what I want to see. The holy stuff! That’s what I’m looking for!

PAM
Hush! You should be ashamed.

PAM EXITS to kitchen.

DOM
What? I’m just looking! A woman in Texas sees the Virgin Mary all the time. Then the sun spins around up in sky. People come from all around to see her. Does miracles too, I think. People, cripples, come hobbling up by the bus load just to watch her talk to the air. I wonder if they charge for parking? I bet that’s what they do, have some relative or somebody with a
huge cornfield or sand lot, charge a buck and a half.

PAM enters from the kitchen holding a hot bowl of pasta.

DOM (Cont’d)
Two, three bucks for vans. Campers. Motor homes, even!

PAM puts down the bowl and stares at Dom.

DOM
Ten bucks a pop even! Our Donny could be one of those people.

PAM
He’s not a cripple!

DOM
Not that.

PAM
Why, Dom? Why?

DOM
You know, special. He could be somebody very special. Oh, there’s money to be made! All you need is the right event, a little publicity. Start out small,

DOM (Cont’d)
work into the bigger stuff. Internet, radio, TV, Get on Oprah!

PAM
Oprah, ha! You got a screw loose you know that? Our, Donny...

Dom puts down the paper and smiles at Pam.

What?

DOM
I think he is. I think he’s, how you say it, blessed.

PAM
You think he is. Or is there “money to be made,” huh?

DOM
He’s a special kid, we both agree with that. Riding a bike at two. Lighting matches by four.

PAM
He takes after Henry.

DOM
He’s always reading the bible. Staying up all hours. Hardly sleeping. Barely eating...studying. I bet he knows more about the Bible than most priests!

PAM
Don’t say that!

DOM
Writing his writings. It’s like a retreat up there. Drawing those pictures on his pants. It’s like a shrine, those pants!

PAM
It’s a pig-sty up there.

DOM
I think something’s gonna happen. I believe he’s ready...he’s gonna
surprise even you! All he has to do is reveal a little bit of that mind of his...POP! A new Revelations! Something, some small little thing that gets the people come running and wham!

PAM
Wash your hands.

DOM
I tell you, Pam, I’ve been reading all about it! Things have been happening around the world. You think Donny’s the only one being affected? Other things,
too. Fish dying. People killing each other. Babies being born without brains!

PAM
So you’re not the only one.

DOM
It’s true! It’s true! And now, it’s happening to your own boy! Our, Donny!

PAM
Ughh...

DOM
It could be a sign! An omen!

PAM
Donny could be an omen? He draws on his arms and talks to lights and you think he’s sent from God? (A beat) The fish are dying? What the hell are you talking about?

DOM
Look at this-

PAM
Shut up and eat your supper.

DOM
All I’m trying to say is look around, he’s not the only one.

PAM
Your gonna be the only one to not get supper if you don’t shut up already! (Yelling) Donny! Donny, come down stairs your supper is ready.


We hear a door slam. Donny descends the stairs. He is shirtless. He wears blue jeans that have magic marker writing on them.
He is caressing his left side with his fingers and holds a BOOK in his free hand. He reads while walking slowly to the table.

PAM
Here he comes. Our savior!

She exits to the kitchen.

DOM
Come here, boy, I want you to look at something. You know it’s bowling night? You’re coming, right? You gotta wear a shirt, though.

Donny slowly walks over and slouches into the chair. Dom brings a paper to him.

DOM
Here, look at this! And this! And these!


Dom leaves the open papers in front of Donny and paces back and forth. A few beats.

DOM
Well?
DONNY puts the BOOK on the table and places his plate on top of it. DOM holds an article in Donny’s face.

DOM
You sure you want to eat on top of the Bible, there Donny?

DONNY
It’s Moby Dick.

DOM
You’re doing code on Moby Dick?

DONNY
It works pretty good, too!

DOM
Hush, you don’t want to tell anybody something like that. Don’t let your mother see you do that.

DONNY
Why not?

DOM
Why not? What are you trying to pull anyway? Are you onto something or are you not?

Donny shrugs shoulders.

Well, crap! (Beat) Anyways, you see this? (Reading) “The Virgin Mary appears regularly,” blah, blah...You see?


DONNY
It happens all the time.

DOM
That’s right! (To Pam in kitchen) You see? You see that? It happens all the time! Donny knows!

Donny starts to scoop a huge mound of pasta onto his plate.

PAM (O.S.)
I don’t want to hear it!

DOM
What are you doing in there?

PAM (O.S.)
Burning the bread!

Donny crams his mouth full of pasta.

DONNY
I’ll take a piece of that!

DOM
Me too! I’ll take a piece. We both want a piece!

Pam comes out of the kitchen holding a basket with the warmed bread, and places it on the table.

DOM
What about this one! “Virgin seen in sky!”

DONNY
Pass the pepper.

Pam passes the pepper and fills her plate with pasta.


PAM
Well, it’s all nonsense if you as me. If the Virgin wanted to show herself she would. You wouldn’t have to read some phony newspaper to hear about it. She’d make herself known!

DOM
And how would she do that?

DONNY
Is there any salad?

PAM
I didn’t have time.

DOM
How, pray tell, would she come down to earth, then?

PAM
Well, first of all, there would be no mystery.

DOM
Mystery is the first rule of being a Catholic!

PAM
She’d show herself for all the people to see. And people would be getting healed! Saved from the misery of their folly!

DOM
But that’s what we’re talking about here!

DONNY
Statues are giving milk.

DOM
What?


DONNY
In India. Statues are giving milk.

DOM
Milk? Really? You hear that? They’re milking statues! That miracle enough for you?

DONNY
Not milking! Milk is coming out of the statues! In India.

DOM
That’s what I said!

DONNY
Not milking! It’s just coming out!

DOM
What do you mean, it’s just spraying out all over the place? Like a car wash?

PAM
That’s crazy talk!

DONNY
Frogs are being born deformed.

PAM
Maybe they drank the milk!

DONNY
Floods. Famine. Disease. It’s all happening right now.

DOM
You hear that? We got to get in on this before it’s too late!

PAM
The end of the world is a scheme now?

DOM
I see shirts with Donny’s writin

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bowling For Miracles!


Just finished a play I started 12 years ago. Bowling For Miracles is a satirical play about a man and his nephew who hatch a scheme to make money from a "miracle." They get involved with a small time journalist who blackmails them into going 50/50 for all profits. Add a wacky publicist, a day time TV show and add a dash of nuts, and you get the idea. I think it’s one of the funniest pieces I’ve written. The play is a statement on pop culture, celebrity, greed and the out of whack values in this country. Stay tuned for updates.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What is "realisitic" in film and theatre?


Few of us are experts on all things. Most of us don't know how closely a spy show parallels reality, if military movies are realistic or if a moon shot can actually be done in the way portrayed in film. The two things that binds us (and we can each agree to some degree of expertise in a chosen field), technical knowledge and innate knowledge of human nature. It is the latter I am referring when I recall whether something is realistic or not. Too many people are hung up on technical jargon, time lines, and events to actually consider the realistic response of the players. We as human beings recognise good or bad acting. Why? Because we see the human response as our area of expertise. If an actors performance is multilayered, spontaneous and evokes an emotional response in us, we recognize this and are impressed. If an actor's portrayal of true emotion if off the mark it is blatant and unforgivable. So, what is realistic? Are we talking about circumstances within a film or the emotional life of the actors? I've found that non-reality, as far as plot and circumstances, can swing wildly away from "truth" given the right circumstances and the audience can accept this."Twilight" is a good example of this type of film. As long as the characters act and behave according to the unspoken or even elicited rules of their world, and have true emtional reponses to circumstances. But once an actor starts to behave in an irrationally emotional way, it just doesn't work anymore. (except if they are crazy, then that will not carry a film) So when I hear people going on about how "unrealistic" a film is, they are usually referring to the plot and circumstances rather than the acting. But I ask you, was "Animal House" realistic? No. Were the character responses within the arc of the story real? Yes. So we accept the film as being good. What about "Saving Private Ryan?" Was that realistic? I've often heard it said that the battle scenes were very realistic. So be it, but in truth films stack events in such a way as to build tension and thus are artificial by definition. All fiction is unrealistic by defintition. In adapting a true story to film, for example, reality cannot sustain the tension of a dramatic 2 hour epic without the events being manipulated into a dramatic arc. This is because that is not the way life is lived. We live in a jumble of the mundane and dramatic. Films are condensed, events are manipulated, timelines are changed, characters are often compilations of many character traits of certain key players plucked from reality. In other words, a true story has ever made it to the screen that has not in several ways been changed by the dramatic process. Drama is tension, conflict, and release. The same holds true for music. In a song there is tension in a phrase, built up by another phrase and then a release at the end. In essence a good song, let's say, Bungalow Bill, by the Beatles, is a mini dramatic theme similar to a short story. So, my point is this: When I hear someone criticize a film as being unrealistic, I consider a few things: Are they talking about the technical aspects of the story, the acting, the suspension of disbelief or all three? A good film sets up a premise in a false world that, hopefully, an audience will accept. If we have trouble getting past the world in which the characters live, we will not be able to suspend our disbelief. But if a movie is well acted, the characters live in a world that we can accept and things happen within the rules of that world, then it is, in essence, "believable." If, however, you get hung up on technical jargon, procedures, and timelines, then you will not be convinced to invest your 90 minutes. In my short play, "Do You Want Chili Cheese Fries with That?" I wanted to demonstrate the horror of killing someone. The person who does the killing knows the victim and has tried to forge a bond with him, even though he is not a fellow soldier, but an Iraqi national who has volunteered to help the Americans. So the dichotomy of the death is complicated by three factors: 1. The killer knew the victim. 2. The victim could have been working for the enemy. 3. The killer is stuck in a cave with the victim for several minutes to contemplate what he has done. Now, in reality, the soldier doing the killing probably would not have felt too much at that moment. Perhaps days, months or years later, I feel, it may have come back to haunt him. So I compressed time and had what I thought may be some future response to killing his acquaintance. Furthermore, his response was not only compressed but elaborated on by speaking his thoughts out loud. These two factors, compression of time and speaking his thoughts were an UNrealistic response considering the circumstances and timeline, but they were necessary in order for me to drive home a point. When this short play got some attention from a movie director who wanted to make it into a short film, I was confronted by the fact that these were unrealistic circumstances and suddenly they, and consequently I, became enamored with military jargon, realistic circumstances of the mission they were on, etc. And it got to the point of considering what kind of radios they had and how would they talk to each other on them. Several re-writes ensued andf finally, it came down to the point that the soldiers response would not be as written. I found myself in a position of defending my play and my film. Eventually, the inevitable happened, as so often with films, and the project got dropped due to lack of funds. But my point is, they took an idea and tried to weave a different reality around it due to a change of medium, when in fact, I felt they didn't have to do any of that. Still I went along with it, all in the name of realism. My point being, realism or reality has less to do with setting up dramatic events or structure than you may think. There are those who think that if you choose a specific technical subject, for example the film, "Crimson Tide," Starring Danzel Washington and Gene Hackman, you MUST be dead on at all times regarding reality and precedure. In this film, Danzel plays a submarine commander who goes against his captain’s orders to deploy nuclear missiles because a certain protocol has not been met. The film was taught, well acted and, I thought, realistic. When I asked the wife of a submarine commander, my neighbor at the time, about the film, she told me her husband said it was a load of crap. Very unrealistic and stupid. So, was he referring to the plot, the action, the acting or the technical jargon? He was referring to the plot. This would never happen due to certain protocols aboard ship. Hmmm. He was also referring to the way the characters acted. It would never happen. Period! The public didn't know this and the movie didn't suffer because of it. It made tons of money. But you see, they had to ignore the reality in order to get to the drama. Which is my point. So, next time you hear someone say a movie is not real, tell them, that's right. It's just a movie.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dream State


Play Back

The car moves quickly and quietly through passages of indistinct dark and light. Shadows slide by faintly illuminated guard rails outside my window and beyond that, to my right, very far down, water. I turn to the driver. He’s a heavy set man with a dark five o’clock shadow and thick eyebrows. He looks not at the road, is fishing around for something, his eyes darting down to the seat and back to the road. Communication is nil. It’s already set in motion. I’m only along for the ride. But I have to try.
“Stop the car,” I yell.
He looks in my direction, smiles, like I’d paid him a gentle compliment. I turn down the sun visor and gaze into the mirror. It’s not me I see but a dark haired woman sitting in the back seat. She smiles. Her mouth moves but I cannot hear her. The moment comes: The truck comes at us, swerving all over the road, the piercing sound of tires skidding across cement, an instant shock, a slap to the head and we’re falling off the bridge into the river. My stomach flies around in my chest; my heart pulses to burst my veins. Then the smack of hitting the water, the look on his face when he turns to me, the crunching of vertebra as my cheek melts into the steel door. I see it in his eyes. He knows. All was lost. Death rears and there was no escaping. It’s happening no matter what I do.
Stop.
Stop time and see who he is. Can I start at the beginning, play it back?
Yes. I’m in the car again. We’d turn onto the bridge. What can I do? I unlatch the glove box and search for papers. Who is it this time? A name pops into my head as I try to read the registration. Then a flash of light, the crunching of vertebra as my cheek melts into the steel door. I’m in the water now, helpless, sinking down, trapped in the car, cold water envelopes me, bubbles escape my mouth as I scream his name.
”Carrillo. Pablo Carrillo.”
Then I woke up.
That was the first time I manipulated a dream to see who I was going to save.
The dreams first started about the time I turned thirty. I was walking home one early Sunday morning after a party in the East Village. I’d been drinking since about ten that evening and had a wonderful time chasing a girl I liked, trying to get her to go out with me. I failed in my attempt, however, and had way too much to drink. With time on my hands and little money for cabs, began the walk the fifty-something blocks back to my apartment. It was cold. Anemic flakes slowly began falling around me. After a while the snow stopped melting on the sidewalk and began a rapid accumulation. The light sputtering transformed into a white curtain and obscured anything beyond a half block in any direction. As I trudged on, the wind began to pick up. Swirling blasts of snow hit me in the face, numbing my cheeks and nose. I picked up a newspaper from a trash can and held it over my head. I looked down for protection, watching one foot step in front of the other. That was when I noticed the blood. There was a large drop of red on my shoe, then another on my knee. I put a finger to my nose and returned thin shades of red liquid. I collected snow and put it to my nose. Feeling woozy, I made it to the doorway of my apartment, unlocked the door and staggered into the building. I fell down, tried to recover but hadn’t the strength, and in the hallway I passed out.
I had the first of many special dreams. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the bits of information I was acquiring through this “dream state” would later enable me to save peoples lives. The information, or dream data, came to me in bits of short, black and white moving images, similar to a video clip. Micro movies I played back in my head and try to comprehend, but only if I woke up immediately. If I didn’t wake up immediately after, the information would slowly dissolve from easily remembered pictures into a mist of crumbling bits of black and white. I didn’t choose this to happen to me. I didn’t believe in ESP, mind melding, kinetic energy transference, time travel or anything else you can cram into that shit-box category. I was just an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dark Genius (Novel)



Okay, so this is an excerpt from my novel, Dark Genius. I wanted to post this because I am editing it now and soon will try to get it published.

Chapter One


John Harper had been coming to Maynards Island since he was about 10 years old. A tiny spec in Casco Bay, Maine, about a mile long and a half mile wide, the island imbued a sense of self reliance, and a closeness to nature, since it had no electricity, running water, except for a gravity fed rain barrel on the roof, and no paved roads or cars. The cottage sat on a small sloping hill that afforded some of the best views of the bay on the island. Built in 1908, beyond a spectacular fireplace and warm cozy furniture, it held little in the way of creature comforts. The gas stove and refrigerator hadn’t been replaced since the mid-nineteen sixties. Most of the furniture came with the place when his parents bought it. It was all original from the last owners and held up well. Since the cottage, with three bedrooms, a living room and dinning room, was not winterized, it was unusual for Harper to stay much past Labor Day. But those late days of autumn were the most splendid. Something about the shorter days, the sun lower in the sky, a wisp of chill in the afternoon air and beginnings of autumn color on the trees always invigorated him.
Now Harper stood in his kitchen holding a very special envelope. It contained, he assumed, the last known letter written by his very famous, most successful and now deceased brother, Jimmy. Jimmy Harper had been famous for his art. The world had known such painters before; Willem De Kooning, Jackson Pollack, Gerhard Richter, to name a few, that had made names for themselves and had been declared masters by contemporary critics and the art buying connoisseurs as well. Jimmy was now a dead master. A lifetime of emotional ups and downs, exacerbated by booze and drugs, had finally pushed him to an edge he willing slipped over.
Ferryboat captain Craig Morton, a small, gruff looking man, having just delivered the letter to Harper, seemed most proud of himself for being so helpful. He stood in Harper’s kitchen doorway and waited, no doubt, for confirmation of his good deed.
“How can I thank you, Cap?”
“It is from Jimmy, then?”
“Oh, yes. There is no doubt.”
“Kind of strange, don’t you think?” Morton shifted on his bare feet. “To get this so long after he’s gone?”
“Of that I am not so surprised, Cap. My guess is the mail in New York City got a tangle in it.”
“But a month after?”
“Six weeks after, actually,” he lied.
Harper examined the envelope one more time. The post marked was blurred but seemed to confirm the letter was in fact mailed not but a week ago.
“Well, whatever happened, I got it now, Captain. Thanks to you.”
“Well Harp, I thought you might like to see it right away. Letter delivery’s not my regular routine, you know.”
“I am grateful, Cap. I truly am. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to read it in private.”
The Captain grumbled under his breath before forming it into words. “Off to the next run, then. Regular service to the mainland will stop this week.” Morton started walking away. “Just a reminder!”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks again, Cap.”
Morton trudged off.
Harper rested his back against the door and looked at the envelope. He took his pocket knife from his pocket and sliced it open.
It was probably just another in a series of odd little notes. Most of the notes had something to do with shadows moving, walls waving and demons living in the upstairs apartment. He'd seen many of these letters. Jimmy had been sending them for years, and each one had been more bizarre than the last; rambling, cryptic notes on paper bordered with hand drawn doodles and cartoons: Strange sea creatures, a snowman with black laced boots smoking a dope pipe in billowing clouds. Some of the letters were sent special delivery, others through regular mail. They never said much, chitchat about the New York art scene, ruminations on life, death, loneliness, and sometimes detailing dreams before going off into unintelligible blather. Harper knew them for what they were; the ramblings of a deranged man, hopped up on drugs, wallowing in hopelessness. And now Jimmy, his once beloved brother, internationally successful abstract artist, was dead. What was unusual was that it had been mailed weeks after Jimmy’s death by suicide. Unsettling as it was, Harper could not let himself get distracted.
Outside his back porch, tall brown grasses swayed gently in the field beyond his backyard. The late morning sun was drying foliage. Warm moisture from the grasses caressed Harper's face like hot breath as it coalesced above. He took a deep drag of his cigarette, put the tip onto a strand of grass and watched it bend from the heat. Then he opened the letter and read.


“Dear Bro,
I am drowning here in this filth hole. Why am I always complaining? Alright, I’m not complaining anymore. Where are you? I haven’t seen you in the city for a while. Still hiding on the island? Maybe I’ll come find you.
Jimmy”
That last sentence sent a chill down his spine. “Maybe I’ll come find you.” Harper folded up the letter and stuck it in his back pocket.
In his studio, Harper pulled on his heavy, paint splattered work boots and stared at his new canvas. The painting had come to him in a dream; an angry ocean ripped by wind and rain, and struggling on it, a small boat atop a giant whitecap in the middle of the vast sea. He’d hoped to show two things: The vastness and violence of the sea and the intimacy of the boat, a sailor alone, a mere spec of paint, at the tiller in that vastness. The painting was at the beginning stages. Harper hoped he would know when it was fully formed, his idea and concept realized, and not over paint the way he tended to do. Too much detail, he’d found confounds and destroys the illusion.
He also needed a rest from his brother’s spirit. It still lived within him, and all around the island, in the studio, the kitchen, and in his dreams. Death can never end a life so vivid, so complete in another persons mind. He knew Jimmy as he knew himself. He knew his heartache, his weaknesses and his vices. He knew of his spirit, his love, his gentleness. He knew his body and his eyes, his face. Even looking at his own hands, he could see the resemblance to Jimmy and it unnerved him. His hand alone could give him anxiety. He knew Jimmy needed to get out of his head. That he needed salvation from his brother’s spirit.
And salvation came in small rays of hope, and that hope was work. The glassy surface of a newly stretched canvas, stiff bristle brushes, the smell of gum turpentine and linseed oil, applying the paint; these things Harper loved. These things grounded him, healed him and would get him through his grief. Take him away from the guilt of Jimmy's death.
Taking a last drag of another cigarette, he looked up from his painting. The bay sparkled in silver slivers of reflected light. The nearby islands stood as blocks of green and dark brown in floating reflections of the sky. He put the canvas aside and headed down to the public dock for a look out at the bay.
Walking down the gangplank to the dock, Harper loved the feeling of being above the water, suspended over the secret world of sea creatures and grasses that he could see glimpses of gently swaying with the tide. The laughter of small children filled the air as Harper sat down on the dock. The autumn sun was just strong enough to warm his face and shoulders. A couple of kids with baited drop-lines, their faces hanging over the dock, waited for crabs to bite. Harper peered down at the sandy bottom, a patchwork of speckled light and sea grasses. Crabs appeared like black-brown spots, lingering by the children's baited hook. They moved mysteriously in and out of the murky shadows until succumbing to temptation.
"Got one!" The girl yelled as she leaped to her feet.
"Pull it up, pull it up!" The boy chimed, "No! This way!" The boy shouted again, taking the fishing line from her.
"It fell off!" "Let's do it again! Drop it!"
Harper chuckled as he watched the crab’s slow descent. Once landed, it again showed again interest in the baited hook, the harsh lesson not yet learned.
A canoe hit the dock as it came up along side. Harper got to his feet and grabbed the line offered him by a handsome young woman. He held out his hand to help her out of the canoe. She stepped awkwardly onto the dock, squared herself, and flashed a bright smile. She had to be about twenty-five, with thick, dark shoulder-length hair and dimples that framed her smile and accented both sides of her cheeks. She wore blue jeans, a white pullover jersey and nothing on her small white feet.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" She asked as she dropped her backpack onto the dock.
That line was too perfect for him to imagine anything but that she’d said it purposely to test him.
“Yes, it’s a beautiful day, isn’t it? I love the fall weather.”
She turned and scratched her head, fluffing her thick hair.
"Does that little store up there carry flashlight batteries?" She asked, pointing in the direction of the island store.
"I think they do," he said, half chuckling to himself. It took getting used to, not having electric lights. "You stay on the island long enough, you get used to walking around in the dark.” He looked at her beautifully formed, square feet. The small toes looked a bit worse for wear with nicks and cuts. “And your feet will toughen up, too."
She looked down at her feet, then at his heavy work boots. She let out a little laugh. “Those are some big band-aides you got.”
Harper chuckled at her little joke. So she could hold her own. "Where are you staying?" He asked, half expecting her to name a friend from the island. Perhaps he knew her family?
"The Nubble," she said, "Right out there." She gestured to her left.
Harper turned to look at the Nubble. He hadn’t wanted to look at it. He knew that place so very well inside and out. The small cottage sat atop a natural foundation of large rocks. The round, two story, cottage just fifty yards off shore was Jimmy’s summer home, his art studio, his passion, and once upon a time, the only place he’d been happy. It was called, “The Nubble” by everyone on the island and nobody really seemed to know why, except that it was a small little thing, out of the way, perched upon a small knob of rocks.
The Nubble was ablaze with reflected sun off the bright white surface he’d painted just a few short years ago. It had been boarded-up since well before Jimmy’s suicide. No one had been out there for several months.
"The Nubble?” He said incredulously. “That’s Jimmy's place."
"That's right," she said, securing the straps on the backpack.
Daggers cut his chest. He was about to inquire further when she said,
"He was my fiancé."
The word hit him like a cold wave. The possibility that Jimmy could have been engaged stunned him, threw him into his head searching for answers, clues. Had he ever mentioned a woman in his life? Did Jimmy ever give any indication that he’d even been attracted to a woman? Had he not read all of the letters and emails carefully enough? Suddenly, this man that he’d know so well, this brother through thick and thin whom he held so close in memory, for a split second, his brother seemed like a complete stranger.
"Did you know, Jimmy?" She asked.
His startled glare seemed to catch her off guard.
"Well I guess you would, famous artist and all."
She pulled the backpack onto her shoulders and started to walk up the gangplank toward shore. Harper stepped forward, taking her arm. She turned to him and they locked eyes.
"What?" She asked defensively.
"The Nubble is empty, boarded up," he said.
"It was."
She smiled slightly, pulled her arm gently from his grasp and headed up the ramp toward shore. He watched her until she disappeared behind the pines at the top of the hill.
Harper couldn’t focus. He was confused. He was instantly attracted to her, couldn’t keep his eyes off of her and yet he was stunned even further by the fact that she claimed to be his brother’s fiancé. And she dared to claim permission to stay at the Nubble! Was he so sad and lonely that all these emotions could crawl into his heart at once and could not be pulled apart and examined?
He turned to the gleaming monster off shore. It was radiant, alive in the warm sun. A couple shuttered windows lay open, exposed to the light and sea. Stabbing glints of sunlight reflected off the glass and were a violation, as was the thought of someone living in his beloved brother's studio. When was the last time he'd seen the place like that; open, vulnerable to the world, alive? Jimmy had lived and worked there for fifteen summers. Harper helped him paint the damn thing the year he'd bought it and several times since. And Jimmy had painted his masterpieces, grown ill, wrote many of those crazy letters there while slowly slipping away, into that dark place he’d gone.
He pictured Jimmy on the wrap around deck, alive, vibrant, making love to a canvas, spreading paint with bare hands, smoothing it like mud on a nude body. Young, smiling, handsome, shirtless, splattered in paint, breathing irregularly, a cigarette dangling from his lips as he worked. This is how he remembered Jimmy now. The genius lost in his world.
Inside the Nubble it would be a raging mess; beer bottles, melted candles, clothing scattered, canvases in various stages of completion, desecrated, coffee stained, urine soaked, Jimmy’s unholy world.
The confusion surrounding Jimmy's death, with no real “last will in testament” found, with agents and gallery owners laying claim to most of Jimmy’s artwork, how could there not be even more confusion? More hurtles to jump. Perhaps it was inevitable. Maybe he shouldn’t be at all surprised to find someone snooping around the island. But he never, ever could have imagined a scheme like this one: A "fiancé?” A thrill of emotion ran through Harper’s stomach. So, the game was on. A beautiful woman was involved. Okay, I’ll play. I’ll play for a little while. He turned and walked up the ramp to shore. Outside the island store, he peered inside the window, but she wasn’t there. And he wondered, just for a split second, if he’d just imagined this beautiful creature, this young goddess he’d given a hand to, arisen from the sea.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Alla Prima 12 x 9 Oil on canvas


This little Alla Prima painting is not all I've been up to but it is the only painting I have bothered taking photos of. It's very difficult to get a really good photo of a painting. This one is just passable.

I don't usually work in alla prima, but I was inspired to just do a quick painting by some of the other work I had been checking out lately.

Just got back from a trip to Northern California a few weeks ago when I painted a small painting on the beach. I'll post that soon.

Been writing a lot. I am reminded of what a frustrating venture that is. It seems nobody really cares what you write. Why? Because they have to READ it and there is so much CRAP out there that after a while they just stop reading.

That's what happened to me when I was in a writers group. It seems the worst writers take up all the time of the more experienced writers and also it seems no really can give an honest crit because of hurt feelings and just not having anything constructive to say in general. Anyway, I can't blame people for not wanting to read because I'm the same way…so anyway, trying to get a screenplay read by anyone that can actually do something about producing it is next to zero!

It’s tough out there, people! But I have tons of ideas and stories I am developing in spite of the fact that I haven't an agent. Being hopeful and being full of shit are two different things, I've found. I know I am a good writer, as I have been published and been told so by folks in the business when they didn't have anything at stake by saying so. I enjoy writing immensely. It feeds my desire to create. Creativity is the closest to God a mortal can get. It is a gift from God, no doubt to be able to create, and only man can do this. We are all spiritual beings...enough ranting, back to work!

Peace,

Chuck