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Franky And Jesus by Hugh Cron (Warning – Very strong adult content with what some would find blasphemous references. Do not read if you are likely to be offended.)

For my sister Tracy – Happy birthday and I know that your mind will be elsewhere. Hope this cheers you up a wee tad.

Continue reading “Franky And Jesus by Hugh Cron (Warning – Very strong adult content with what some would find blasphemous references. Do not read if you are likely to be offended.)”
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WEEK 410: Will You Still Feed Me; A Brave New Year; Mistaken Identity

2023 looks more like an address number than a year to me. Yet when I see 1985 as an address, I think of the year. I liked 1985 for the most part, yet I have already developed a distrust of 2023, though we are just a few days into it.

Racehorses have New Year’s birthdays. As I have since childhood, I still imagine them wearing leftover New Year’s Eve party hats in the stable, eating birthday apples. I identify with the Horses because my birthday happens very close to the start of the year. But unlike a three-year-old Mare, I didn’t don a party hat because I am suspicious of 2023’s intent.

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Week 404: A Rich Vein; The Week in Originality and Remembering Stuff That Shouldn’t Get Lost

A Rich Vein

I used to wonder why so many writers fill their fictional hellworlds with zombies. For a time I thought having a mindless monster (as they were once) whose only advantage is superior numbers, but whose eradication would make the hellworld no worse than a heckworld, was a literary lesson in perspective. The zombie hellworlds I have seen do not appear to have much else wrong with them save for the wowser undead infestation. I bet at the end of a, say, ten year zombie “challenge” (as the ruling parties would certainly call it) that going ape upon discovering the drive thru worker forgot to put the extra ketchup packets you asked for in your bag might not be as valid a reason to make a fool out of yourself in public that it used to be. What a wonderful shiny heckworld that would be.

But of course the real reason there are so many zombies (and vampires) is the same one that sent everyone to California in 1849. Get it right and there’s gold in them thar hills (though silver is a different matter). Seeing people have a go at the various undead genres bothers me no more than seeing someone buy a lottery ticket at 7-11. I wish them luck. You never know when the money ship might drop anchor in your harbor. Still, many aspiring best selling authors are a bit late to the party and suffer from what I call Closing the Crypt Door After the Undead Got Out Syndrome.

Still I am just as willing to give commercial success as much a go as the next cynical writer. Sometimes I play with the notion of concocting something so calculated that it cannot miss. I really can’t think of anything too calculated for the zombies (even though that was the aim a couple of paragraphs ago) because at its soul all you’ve got to do is have the brain-crazed bastards on your tail. The idea, the creepy crawly idea of it is great–and all efforts to improve zombie mental acuity and add subtext only detracts from the purity of the original premise: Chased by a slobbering, jabbering monster, like in a childhood nightmare. Besides, zombies are as gross as any daycare during cold and flu season.

Ha! Yet I do have a boffo vampire story (the reason for their sudden, perhaps inexplicable, inclusion at the start of paragraph two). But my vampires are slightly different from the traditional crowd. You see, I’ve never understood why ancient Dracula types create a whole slew of apprentices. These tyro vampires are usually poorly trained and in time they do enough stupid shit that inevitably leads the townfolk to the Master, whom somebody stakes like a dead butterfly to a cork board in the last reel. I’m willing to suspend disbelief, to a point; I’ll allow for vampires, but not ones who make so many bad decisions that I cannot believe they have been around since the Dark Ages.

My vampires live in groups of seven to ten or so and can shapeshift enough to loot banks for capital, for they lead opulent lives. But, as in tradition they can go about in the day, yet without the powers they have at night. Still, they must be careful during the day because the rays from the rising and setting sun can kill them, when the sun still appears to be touching the horizon; they are gold when there’s space between. My vampires sleep in nice hotels during the day, with vials of graveyard dirt shoved where the sun does not shine, and travel between the hemispheres to always be where it is winter, to take advantage of longer nights.

Anyway, they feed but do not kill. Their victims survive, get better and get rich selling zombie stories. But there is one proviso: To remain a vampire you must kill a person whom you loved in life and change she/he into a vampire before that person dies–or you will cease to exist.

Well a woman who was loved by a vampire was made one, and she had an unrequited love for a married man named, oh let’s call him, Horace. But Horace was married to Hortense and they had two infant children. It didn’t matter to the lady vampire who killed Horace; for she was not president of the Hortense Fan Club.

Turns out Horace liked being a vampire, but he also missed Hortense. So he went to her and told her about the gig, and begged her to join him in everlasting, well everlasting. Hortense says “Swell, but let me raise the kids first.” So Horace and the pack travel the world for another twenty years or so and he comes back and discovers that Hortense is terminally ill. But it doesn’t matter, the kids are raised and she’s still alive.

But as it nears dawn, she reminds them of the vows they exchanged. He understands and as Hortense draws her last breath (coincidentally, and with no one else in the room) near dawn, Horace opens the drapes and they go out together. Call it “Till Death.” fill some plot graves (as in doing something about the woman vampire who loves Horace and just how they get the money out of the vaults) and there you go, a marketable commodity.

Sadly, what I just wrote looks like something that might sell, even though it took about forty seconds to concoct. There’s something seriously wrong with that situation, mainly my inability to do anything with it. So, there you go, a free story premise that I must now turn my back on.

The Week in Originality

I am willing to wager that all five of our performers this week can do something with “Till Death” but all are too smart to associate with it. Along with three site debuts, we had the return of two long time friends.

Monday began with the 28th site appearance by David Henson. Delta Zero underscores both the intelligence and humor that are always evident in Dave’s work. And you have to think when you read it. Some might wonder “huh?” But there is actually an art of reading that is set higher than just being able to understand the words. I’d also like to state that, including his faithful daily comments, Dave has actually appeared on the site hundreds of times. If you have appeared in the past few years, David has been there for you. I hope we all return the favor.

Snakeskin by newcomer PL Salerno made Tuesday worthwhile. PL is a young writer, and if this is the quality we have to look forward to then the world of fiction is in competent hands. This is a wonderful blend of reality and the mystic, and frankly, quite entertaining at any level.

Tom Sheehan continues to shine and is still in a career of the quality that PL and our other authors have a chance at. The Rifle aims at the upcoming 200 mark (as you see I could not resist the cheap, cheap pun there). And as always Tom hits the bullseye (it was a two-for-one sale at the cheap, cheap pun show). Still, Tom once again excels at blending a situation and characters as he has for decades.

We welcomed Benjamin Pluck on Thursday, Thanksgiving in the USA. Careful Who You Save is something I fell for even though I am not smart enough to know what it really means. It draws the shine of existence through a prism and what wild colors I saw. And unlike acid, the story was free. Beautifully constructed and in no way overstated. We certainly llok forward to more from this writer.

Our third first timer was Elana Kloss, who closed the week with Cherry Pie. Elena writes sharp, descriptive and fearless prose. There isn’t as much as a wasted syllable in this piece, which takes wicked and frequent turns. Although it is relentless, it challenges you, like the other four we saw this week, to think while reading it.

Remembering Stuff

The other day I mentioned the band Chicago to a coworker, who is maybe thirty. I saw the Who? glaze her eyes to the degree that I didn’t bother to confirm it. There’s nothing wrong with that, really, it is just one of those ugsome things that happens as time marches on. Still, It has motivated me to write a list composed of items of people and abilities that are either forgotten or are on the edge of extinction and should not be. Slot ten left open for fellow fist shakers.

  • Parallel parking (Jesus, people, I can do it.)
  • American Thanksgiving Day meaning something more than Black Friday Eve
  • Setting aside the goddam phone when talking to someone (I correct that now–I say, “Hey, I’m over here.” Don’t care who gets mad; even said it to my boss once.)
  • The works of Shirley Jackson
  • Klaus Nomi
  • People instantly googling the obscure things I say, right in front of me, instead of asking
  • Displaying the manners and intelligence necessary to prevent you from talking about your STDs and felonies on your cell in public.
  • “Three-fer” beer chips. All the local bars had those
  • State Liquor Stores (I rather liked seeing all the good stuff in one place–and not in places like 7-11 or Walmart–something wrong there)
  • Open

Leila

Editor Picks, General Fiction, Short Fiction

Week 401: A Dirty Slate; Welcome to YES-vember and What’s On Your Wonderwall?

Tableau de rasa is Latin for “a clean slate.” In philosophy it describes the unmuddled mind of infancy, which is soon spoiled by life. I was once one of those overly polite people who’d write “As you know…” or something equally cagey before sneakily defining a term that I figured maybe only half the readers already know. This of course presents an unwinnable situation for the polite person. I have always seen condescending people as jerks while patronizing types are smiling jerks. In my mind you cannot patronize without being condescending but you can condescend without being patronizing. So, if anyone out there smells either on my breath I apologize, but it might be an aid to know that I consider condescension slightly less rotten than patronization.

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A Typical Scottish AI Story by Hugh Cron – Warning – Adult Content.

“You’re coming on fine Malcolm.”

“Malky, I want to be called Malky”

“Malky?”

“Aye”

“Aye?”

“Aye? Are you just repeating whit Ah’m saying or are you just being a fud in general?”

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Week 389: An Ode to Cynicism, Good Stories and Dubious Advice Dispensed by A Herbivore

Beginning

It’s hard for me to not be cynical; to not check every would be gift Horse’s bridgework; to not hold the suspicion that the evil that dwells in my heart must be in everyone else’s; to suspect myself for wanting the same evil in the hearts of others to license my own. Funny word cynical. As a belief system it prevents you from go-funding Phishy Royalty, yet in application it can aid you in successful phishing and lying in general. Thus you could say that cynical is a dubious, double-agent sort of concept.

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Week 388: Interstellar Juice Boxes; The Week That Is and Visual Velveeta

In a Saturday post several months ago I took aim at the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Looking back, I discovered I did not insult it enough. The Great Eye recently opened and discovered (brace yourself) more galaxies. At work, I often deal with large shipping boxes separated from their invoices, thus they arrive as mysteries that I must explore. Whenever I open one to see what’s inside nowadays, I always say “Look gang, more galaxies.”

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Week 386: What’s It All About, Five, No Four Works of High Fiction and the A to Z of Buying a Round For the Unsteady Jukebox

What’s It All About?

I’ve begun my fifth year of feeding the little gray menace in the header–Misster Andy Hisster. Andy is in fine health and continues to live the pirate life even though I constantly offer him different situations. Off and on for the last few months, Andy has had a sidekick; a young Tuxedo Cat (also pictured–goody, I see he was photobombed by my device) first named Patch, but after an exchange of enlightening interoffice communications with Diane, I now call him “Alfie”–as in the ne’er do well portrayed by Michael Caine.

I’ve always been suspicious about Alfie during the six months or so he’s tagged along with Andy, for me to feed under the hedge. Alfie never shows up when the weather is bad nor does he ever appear to have slept under the building, covered in cobwebs like Andy often is. Andy is indifferent to personal grooming, which is unusual for a House Cat, but not unseen in the ferals. Alfie is a dandy. Never a hair out of place. Fop.

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Ben by Hugh Cron – Warning – Adult Content.

Before Ben knew it he was sixty.

He wasn’t sure if that bothered him but it was now forty one years.

He stayed in what he called his ‘But and Ben’. He loved the old bed that pulled down from the wall. Ben reckoned that there was a cure for cancer within it’s mattress but he didn’t care that there might have also been a hundred different types of lurgey living within the confines of decades of dead skin and bodily fluids. It was quite comfortable.

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Short Fiction

Week 382: Good Old Days on Viagra; Five Stories That Do Not Need Enhancement, and a Salute to 90’s Cinema

As I sit here at five o’clock on a June Wednesday morning, wakeful aphids zooming through my open window from the garden and gathering on my screen, and as I unsteadily wait for the coffee, nicotine and little pill I took to kick in, I reach into my mind and pull out the first thing I find: Let’s go with The Good Old Days–when all was great and there were fewer aphids.

Everyone needs Good Old Days to fondly recall and inflate with virtues not evident until a minimum of one generation has passed. The constantly under construction present and a future whose only certainty is our eventual permanent disappearance often conjure the Ghosts of the Good Old Days; those shades of What Never Really Was, whose remember when voices speak sweetly of yesterday.

Our increasingly labeling society tends to measure out The Good Old Days by the decade. All a time gone by needs to ascend to Good Oldayian status is a decade to call home. I believe that this is a 20th century thing–for I’ve never read olde literature in which someone in 1202 pines for the 1170’s. How else to explain the 1990’s ascension to old times not forgotten? (I’m certain there are many “elses”–but the desired effects of my addictions remain tardy.)

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