He was uphill again, part way on the steep incline, where time, circumstance and opportunity had taken him. But time had crumbled, and with it the matter of circumstance. Only opportunity, sometimes a laggard, held on, fate deciding issues as it had decided his. Downhill he could see how difficult the climb could be to anyone determined to go top-side, as jagged rocks appeared, thick clumps of trees turning toward the awed colors of fall, now and then a formidable gorge in the way of quick ascension. At his backside lurked the sense-awakening pain and the phantom ache lingering in his legs, as if archived for history, remnants of another climb, on the real Hill 407, northwest Afghanistan, in the formidable quarter of activity in that distant country.Continue reading “Hill 407 Reboot by Tom Sheehan”
World War I was more than 20 years down the drain for most people, but Tommy Heffernan was looking up, with a slight discrediting look on his face, at Tim Kiely the bartender who was talking to or, more to the point, entertaining three drinkers sitting at his bar in Kiely’s Pub. The 2 o’clock sun bounced off Highland Avenue west of Malden Square and tried to come in through the windows shaded from years of accumulated cigarette smoke. Like always, Kiely couldn’t whisper; too much beyond his control, too much audience pull.“I know you boys come all the way from Somerville to hear the stories that grow from here. They come, glory be, without warning, like a knock on the door, trick or treat. For instance, take that lad down there at the other end of the bar, Tommy Heffernan, Colum’s boy. He was scorched in France, really bad. WW I’s green stuff they say. How many years ago’s that? He’s not worked a hard day since he come home from the Kaiser’s playground and might never work a hard day in all his life remaining, though the boy can put away a pint or two with the best of them. This I’ll tell you, though, that this lad, sick or not, for whatever ails him that the gas brought too close, has the softest hands in the whole world. Watch out for the cards in his hands, or a needle and thread.”
He tittered with his half laugh.Continue reading “The Softest Hands by Tom Sheehan”
A Failed Attempt at Method Writing
I recently streamed a documentary about the Stanislavski “school of acting”–aka, “The Method.” Like all other artistic endeavors that get over, there’s a bunch of pretentious pontificating associated with The Method (which first got big in America about seventy-five years ago). Once you get past all the verbiage and “pillars,” the Method is mainly investing your own emotions in a character, to “become” the role you are playing. If the character is supposed to be sad, think of the day your hamster died and act accordingly.
To illustrate this the documentary showed clips of “mannered” performances from the 1930’s–those in which stage-like performances were filmed because talking film acting had yet to be invented. These were compared to James Dean and Marlon Brando emoting. To be honest with you I smelled plenty of ham baking in the early Method film performances. Marlon must have really loved that hamster named “STEEELLLLA!!!” But who am I to criticize?
Anyway, it got me thinking about bringing the Method to writing. I experimented with bringing forward a memory of someone I hated and attempted to use the emotion in fiction.Continue reading “Week 378: A Failed Attempt at Method Writing. And a Successful Saturday Special For Decoration Day”
The first man in this story, Carl Savage, stood at the end of the ward in a veterans’ hospital in Central Massachusetts: the second man, bed-ridden, stared at him, fighting for a splash of recognition. There was the way that man shrugged his shoulders, looked back over one as if he had missed a targeting mark. The second man moved in his bed; a slight movement barely noticeable. He had not moved much in almost twenty years. He wanted to call out, but he knew no name; but knew something; it spun up out of him as if it were the last chance in the whole world. The man at the end of the hall halted his departure and turned around slowly in his departure. The second man in the bed began to move one finger. One finger! One finger as if tapping on a key, tapping, tapping, tapping.Continue reading “The Vet by Tom Sheehan”
Something wicked this way comes as the bloody moon fills the room with the foul scent of red rum. I didn’t say my prayers before I passed out. I’m living in this grand dragon’s layer protected by a glasshouse. Now, as I’m creeping into these stages of sleeping, this drinking got me numb, and I’m hearing sounds like Vietnam. We weren’t warned about the shit that would follow. I woke up scareder than that nigga Ichabob Crane in Sleepy Hollow.Continue reading “Soul Under Siege by Kindaka Sanders – adult content”
My cousin Boxie returned from Afghanistan to say that people turn into pink mist when they are blown to smithereens. Boxie spends his days shelving toilet paper at Costco, making $37,000 a year. He bought a house for $109,000 and leases a Chevy SUV. He has a daughter but his wife can no longer bear children. They live near Pearl, Mississippi. They keep a Boxer chained to the tree in their back yard. Boxie won’t let his wife cook instant rice. She shaves her pussy. Their daughter, Esther, wants to be a fireman. She wears a helmet to bed. Boxie, Tricia, and Esther belong to the Church of Proximate Causes, a sect based on the worship of reality, an internet group of survivalists who live somewhere in North Dakota. People say, they keep tons of deodorant in their basement along with cans of ravioli and Mississippi tamales.Continue reading “Step Right Up by David Lohrey”
When we received this work we were undecided what to do with it. We knew that we wanted to publish such a powerful and emotional piece of writing but, in fairness, it isn’t what we would normally class as a story. I will be honest and say that it moved me to tears.
Anyway, fate took a hand. We were scheduling this week at the time and when better to publish this than Remembrance Day.
His name was Maxwell Max Dugan and this is his story, but only covers those disturbing and warful years between 1941 to 1947, just seven years chockfull of battles, combat, explosions, heroic people, deadly people on a world-wide rampage, and means of salvage, at least of the souls, if nothing else.
Pa decided to join the Bonus Expeditionary Force. After dropping Ma and the youngsters off at Uncle Vernon’s, he let me ride the rails with him from our home in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, all the way to the Washington Freight Yard.
He lowered the window an inch and the dry air now flowed past his temple. Though he had arrived in Kuwait five days ago, he was still feeling some jetlag edginess. The road stretched out flat and straight. Nature here had the color of an oatmeal cookie, most houses too. Some were a bit lighter in color, like an oatmeal cookie bleached in the sun. They formed an unbroken line right off the freeway, three-story facades with columns and small, frequently shuttered windows. None of this had been here back then. The country had come some way since Mr Sodamn Insane’s drubbing.