Thursday, December 27, 2007

Party Line

Calling home, with speaker phone on both ends, I can't tell one voice from another. I think it's Andy who asks about the food up here.

"The tomatoes fucking suck." I say. "So does the salsa."

I start to say something about potatoes, but her two-year-old cuts me off with a blood-curdling scream.

There's a voice I don't recognize. "Everything changes."

Is her mom there? Did I just say fuck in front of her mom?

"Ms. Patton?"

"That's my maiden name, honey," says Andy. No one else responds.

"Sorry, I thought I heard your mom or someone."

The conversation continues in its confusing stereo until I hear someone whisper, "It all goes to shit."

"Well, someone's feeling cynical."


"Who's talking about everything going to shit?"

"Girl, you are losing your mind."


I leave the room and let my husband do the talking. I'm reaching into the fridge for a bottle of water when I smell burning hair.

"HALLELUJAH!" screams the space behind me. "HERE I COME!"


(Yes, I sound like an idiot when I scream. My ohmigoditsaroach scream is more convincing.)

Static fills my ears and I am certain something is coming up from behind to get me. Then Stewart hangs up the phone.

Breaks the connection.

It's on your end, Andy. There's something in your house.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Drink of it

Nica imagines herself making an omelet. Breaking a few eggs and all that.

She taps an hourglass against the side of her bowl until it cracks. She reaches her fingertips into the glass, pulling it open, pouring sand into the Tupperware. Take this and eat of it, this is my body.

The splinters dig into her skin. Drops of red on the sand. Take this and drink of it, this is my blood.

Whose blood? No, not hers.

She opens her eyes, walks to Alan, and quiets him. "You go with Albert now, baby. Everything's gonna be OK."

Judas and Pilate take communion together. No one else could possibly understand.


Friday, December 7, 2007


Apparently, I'm considered a "paranormal news outlet." This fills my email inbox with all sorts of interesting press releases and promotions.

Crystal Stephens of Electric Artists writes to tell us that the new A&E show, Paranormal State, will premier on December 10th at 10 PM ET. They'll air two cases back to back, featuring a young boy whose story is similar to "The Sixth Sense" and a single mom whose home is haunted by a history of brutal murder.

David M Kriegher writes to announce his website Dark Stories, a collection of true and truish ghost stories presented in both French and English.

Thanks for sending in your paranormal stories. I apologize if your event passed before I got around to sharing it here.

For frequently-updated and all-encompassing paranormal news, try the Debris Field. Lesley has this news outlet thing down.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Papery and pale

The continuing tale of Nica & the Timers

Over the last few hours, Alan's skin has gone papery and pale. He's coughing so loudly they can barely hear the small, polite knock on the door. It doesn't need much force behind it. Our heroes freeze.

Albert lets himself in. "You can't even open the door for a crippled old man?"

Alan stifles a cough.

"Sweetheart," says Albert. Nica looks him in the eye. "You have two choices."

"One. You can let Alan keep deteriorating. I don't give a bloody hell if he dies, I have nothing to do with it. I only help decide what it accomplishes."

"Two. You can end his suffering. Do some good with it."

"You can't run, Nica. You will only run out of breath."

She briefly considers arguing. Alan begins a new coughing fit.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Less today than yesterday

The continuing tale of Nica & the Timers

They've decided to wait at Nica and Kemp's apartment for Albert. Alan is coughing. There's a little blood drying around the corners of his mouth. When did this start? Did he get hurt in the alley? Nica doesn't think so.

She washes dishes while she waits. If she's going to die tonight, she wants to leave behind a clean kitchen. She wishes she could wash the tattoo off her hand. It looks darker and malevolent with the steaming water running over it.

Nica was wrong. They do not have a plan. She's hoping she can talk their way out of it, appeal to her father's... humanity. And how human is she? Less today than yesterday.

They only know they will run out of breath. What did they accomplish last time? Widening the circle of wanted and buying time for a drink.

Nica closes her eyes. The running water sounds like sand cascading over her head and filling her ears.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Liriope muscari

It is unclear how I died. Page 6B lists my age (26), my occupation (waitress), my dates of birth and death (12/1/1978-10/17/2005), but no cause. I don't think there would be room, anyway. There are a lot of names on this page.

As a girl, I dreamt in purple. I saw the earth split in two, the fissure running directly through my little pink bedroom, shooting through the sky and shattering the moon. Over and over again, I watched the monochromatic black & white of moonlight give way to a violet haze, while the monkey grass in the garden danced playfully to the destruction.

As a nightmare, it's probably not that original, even for a 5-year-old. But it was vivid, intense and repetitive. It stuck. For years, the mere sight of monkey grass sent a thrill through my brain and rang alarms. Alarms that cut the air in half the day I decided to plant a purple lawn.

It started on Highway 20. They were selling sod from the side of the highway like watermelons or tamales. What caught my eye was the field of purple tucked into the green patchwork.

I thought of my purple lawn as the canary in the coal mine. Chlorophyll absorbs yellow light at 540 nm. When yellow light is low or stress is high, anthocyanin takes over and the green fades out. In other words, the plant turns purple when the shit hits the fan. (Even more dramatically so if the shit hits the fan and busts out the overhead light.)

I also took to cutting down oaks. I needed yards of uninterrupted moonlight off those shining blades. I painted my bedroom pink and kept the shades open at all times, even if it meant dressing in the kitchen. I planted spider lilies, mimosas, and any other alien, fingered plants that would grow. And then, of course, monkey grass. Liriope stuffed in every corner and making a slow fade into the lawn.

I wasn't sure what I had accomplished, or even why. I started to run over artifacts in daylight. The first few were subtle. Water bottles, paperclips, and pieces of cement glittering in the purple grass. Next I found a file folder on my doorstep, with my own name on the tab and black soot down one side. At one point I found a dress hanging from a mimosa. It was my size, and purple. I kept it.

The newspapers started right after the dress. I examined every page with wonder. The stories told of upheavals that somehow hadn't touched me, and I wondered when I had last turned on a TV, or a radio, or taken a drive beyond my own violet fields. An entire country had exploded on the Mediterranean. A city had gone underwater. A neighborhood's homes were picked up by tornadoes and scattered across four states.

The list of the dead was full of jump lines. "Continued on 12A... Continued on 4B... Continued tomorrow." Somehow, I didn't miss my name. Maybe your own name has a way of jumping off the page at you. Or maybe I was looking for it.

There's an ad for sod in the lower left corner. Apparently they're running a special on the 19th.

It is unclear how I died. But I'm quite certain the ground shook, and the moon shattered, and gardens of strange fruit lifted their stamen to heaven in a parody of joy. And that since, I've grown quite comfortable here. I look out over my purple lawn, knowing the shit is about to hit the fan. But this perpetual violet dream I have planted never fully blooms into nightmare.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Two Swings (illustration)

The two swings on the hill. (From this story.) I'd lost all my photos from that leg of our trip, but visited the same spot over Thanksgiving.

We didn't hike up this time, either. We flew a kite instead.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

You will run out of breath

The continuing tale of Nica & the Timers

The tumblers have been drained and the bar abandoned. There's nowhere to hide - you can't hide. Albert, gimp leg and all, knows exactly what you're doing. He can smell the whiskey on your breath from twenty-six hundred miles away. And he's a bit jealous of that, which does nothing for his mood.

The facts are this:
1. You can't beat a Timer.
2. You can kill a Timer, but he'll resurrect himself like Zombie Jesus.
3. You can't hide from a Timer. You can only hope to outrun him for a while.
4. You will run out of breath eventually.
5. You can't beat a Timer.

Albert has learned to walk again. He even fashioned three replacement toes out of rotten meat and paraffin. He may have a crippled human's center of balance, but he has an animal's instinct and the inevitability of the Universe.

Albert's coming for you, sugar.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Take a look, it's in a book

I recently got an invite to an interesting blog series written by George Eberhart of the American Library Association. His current series is a listing of reportedly haunted libraries in the United States. (None for Louisiana, but three in Oregon.) Some are mundane, some are creepy, some are pretty scary. Is your local library listed?

On another note, I've set up shop in Eugene, Oregon. We moved into our apartment a week ago, P already has a job and I've got an interview Tuesday, so wish me luck. As I get settled in and explore what the area has to offer, I hope to start some projects here inspired by the amazing writing community in Shreveport.

Speaking of, have all you Shreveport poets set up a page on Everett Webb's Poet's Registry? Everett has taken over Red River Ink and combined it with other resources, including the Registry and his own Topcat Live. Go have a look at what he has to offer.

I keep planning to catch up on all your blogs. Please forgive me if it takes me a while. After a month travelling the country and a week trying to get established north of the Mason-Dixon, I think I finally have time for some reading.

Miss you guys!


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Two Swings on a Hill

Behind my brother's house, a perfect hill rises up past the neighborhood fence. It's a backyard for wealthier people, accidentally visible from the porches of the more average. The hill is steep, and you'll have to either climb that impassable fence or find the secluded entrance for those stately homes before you can even reach its base. And he has never climbed it. My brother only points to a tree and mentions the swing.

One day, I'm gonna climb that hill and swing like a kid.

It looks dangerous, I say, ever the first-born.

It looks fun, he says, ever the little brother.

I look closely, picking out the shape of the swing from the shadows of the trees.

There are two swings, I say.

The first is a red board, tied to a rope hanging from a tree near the top.

The second is a wooden seat, lying in the dirt under a broken and frayed length of rope.

I tell my brother this, but he can't see it. Neither can his wife. I'm the only one that can make out the second swing.

I'm the only one who wonders at the story of a broken rope at the top of a steep hill.

A brother and a sister furtively hike to the gated neighborhood bordering their own. They walk to the back and climb the hill from the side that's never faced them before. Two children, undaunted by fences, wander wherever they please in the afternoons. There is no question of should we over the tantalizing tree swings. Of course they should.

A brother swings forward and back.
A sister swings forward and snap.

She doesn't exactly go flying, but she never catches herself. There is a bounce, a break, a bounce, blood, a bounce, a bone. And the bottom.

And then there is only one swing. Then there is only a brother.

Still he says he will climb that perfect hill and swing that tantalizing rope. Still, I am the only one who can see the broken swing. I am the only one who can hear my big sister warnings.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Elk in Estes Park

Originally uploaded by JaneDoughnut

Of many amazing things.

Welcome To Oregon

Originally uploaded by JaneDoughnut

Wish you were here.


Idaho is a martian place, filled with shiny tin buildings, struggling brush, and farms that are growing either potatoes or dirt. It's hard to tell. The sky is filled with dust. It's orange. I think there may be mountains in the distance, but they fade into that rust-colored haze.

Last year, the harvest consisted of twelve pounds of potatoes and nineteen tons of rock. Confused buffalo raped all their cattle to death and the cat died of leukemia. Lightning caught the barn on fire and storms flooded the septic tank, spilling sewage into the toilets, bathtub, and somehow, the refrigerator. The county social club wouldn't let them in after that, because they smelled like street people. Their only son ran the tractor into an exposed electric cable, killing himself and destroying the tractor. So when the state ran them off their land in order to extend the Interstate, the Dogleys didn't have much reason to protest.

They accepted a $250,000 check and packed up their belongings, unsure of where to go, but not really caring.

Anywhere but here, thought Ma.

I just hope this truck will make it out of Idaho, thought Pa.

Of course, Pa had no way of knowing the truck was just as pleased to be leaving, and it hummed happily all the way to Colorado. The Dogleys bought a brewery and lived happily ever after.



Were it not for the kudzu, Phillip might have believed it was just rotten luck.

On the day he was scheduled to leave Mosley, a tornado hit the power plant. Any business without a generator was out of business. This included his bank, his storage unit, and of course half the gas stations in town.

Oddly enough, this wasn't the first time such a thing had happened in Mosley. Tornadoes rolled through almost every May, right after the high school graduation ceremonies. Heck, it had happened right after his graduation ten years ago, and delayed him for so long he'd missed his chance at going to college in New York.

And every September, copious amounts of snow fell, generally at the airport. Mosley held the Louisiana record for annual snowfall by a good 14 inches. And was regularly setting new ones.

Determined to stay on schedule, Phillip sacrificed the possessions locked away at the self-storage unit, called in every debt ever owed him to collect cash, and filled up at a ghetto station notorious for diluting its gasoline with canola oil.

While backing out of his driveway, he ran over the debris of his neighbor's picket fence and destroyed the back passenger side tire. An hour later, after unloading his trunk, pulling the spare out from under everything, changing tires and reloading, he found a detour out of town that was relatively tornado-aftermath free.

He wasn't even surprised when he found himself behind a long line of cars on the northbound Interstate. An 18-wheeler had jackknifed and turned over, and authorities found it nearly impossible to move. Bulldozers were being diverted from tornado damage to deal with the accident. The driver of the rig swore he had swerved to avoid a naked child running through the street and, in his confusion, somehow flipped all those tons of steel. No one else would admit to having seen the mysterious toddler.

It took three hours to clear the road enough to let one lane of traffic through, on the shoulder. This resulted in several more flat tires and delays as people drove through the broken glass and metal.

All of this, no matter how unlikely, Phillip could have accepted. Oh, he was in the middle of a nervous breakdown, but eventually he would have accepted it as a string of mean coincidences. Until just inside the city limits, the road dissolved into a green mess. The road was blocked again. Pulling right up to it, Phillip made out the vines and leaves of kudzu. Kudzu was leaping from the trees and climbing out of the ditches. Kudzu was having a party in the middle of the Interstate, holding hands and singing and daring anyone to try crashing.

Well, this was not the day to test Phillip.

He was heading north one way or another.

He pushed the accelerator down to the floor. Singing Red Rover, Red Rover, send Phillip right over. The odometer hit 88 miles an hour as Phillip flew at the vines, into them, and no one in Mosley ever heard from him again.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Oh Beautiful

Spacious Skies

Amber Waves of Grain

Purple Mountain Majesties

I haven't even made it to the fruited planes yet, and I think I've fallen in love with America.

More pictures as we have time.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Running Late

Every morning, I drive forty-five minutes to work. It's too expensive to live in the city, and I prefer the solitude of the empty roads radiating from it. But it doesn't help my chronic tardiness.

On this particular morning, I was in such a rush that I couldn't even stop to grab any music, leaving me alone with my thoughts, which consisted of repeating variations on dammit I'm going to be late again.

i can't believe i haven't been fired yet
you'd think i would have outgrown this
turn green turn green turn green
dammit i forgot my lunch

Until my internal rant was interrupted by a loud POP and my car began to jerk to the left, right, and left again. I braked hard, pulled onto the grassy shoulder, and examined the damage.

"Fuck!" I shouted, any hope of making it to work by 10AM evaporating. Both front tires were ripped to pieces. "How the hell does a thing like that happen?"

As if in answer, my tapping foot came down on top of a nail, which pierced my rubber sole and the bottom of my foot. I swore some more as blood filled my shoe.

"Are you okay?"

I jumped, though of course I was already hopping, at the small girl who had appeared beside me. Her hair, dress, and skin were all similar shades of beige, and her big brown eyes glittered.

"I'm, uh... where did you come from?"

She pointed wordlessly behind her. She was a creepy little kid, but with no other traffic on the highway, I was glad she'd appeared.

"I'm fine. I hurt my foot, and I've got two flat tires. Do you know where I could find a phone or a gas station?"

She paced around in small circles, carefully avoiding a dragonfly corpse on the ground. "My mom will help. My mom always helps when people get in trouble out here." She began to skip away, then turned around. "Come on!"

I followed her through the buffer of trees that separated the highway from the tiny neighborhood. Every time I brought my right foot down, the blood-soaked shoe make a squishing noise, and the ball of my foot started throbbing. But I figured I at least had a good excuse now for not making it in to the office.

She led me to a cotton candy colored duplex and motioned for me to follow her through the door. It opened into a dark foyer, the kitchen visible through the open door at the end of the hall. A woman of the same beige tones stood at the sink washing dishes. Little Creepy ran through and tugged at the hem of Mrs. Creepy's apron. I almost expected to hear Mommy mommy look what I found can we keep him?

The woman turned around and smiled.

"My name's Chris, ma'am," I said. "I'm sorry to barge in on you, but I had a little car trouble, and your daughter said you might be able to help out. If I could just use your telephone..."

"I've already called, Chris."


She laughed; a tinny, false sound. "Lisa said someone was in trouble on the highway, so I went ahead and called a tow. They should be here in about thirty minutes. You want some coffee while you wait?"

"When did she tell you about me?" I sounded more accusatory than I meant to, and she looked a little alarmed.

"Right before she ran out the door to find you. Lisa just has an ear for that sort of thing. If you're outdoors you can hear the highway perfectly from here."

We eyed each other suspiciously while Lisa poured us imaginary coffee from her plastic kitchen set. "Careful, it's hot," she warned me, handing me a tiny purple cup.

"Thank you," I said seriously, lifting it to my lips. This calmed both me and her mother down. "What was your name?" I asked the woman.

"Liz Kitchings," she said, extending her hand, smiling, finally looking like the harmless and helpful middle-aged woman she surely was.

"I appreciate you calling a tow for me. Could I use your phone to call my office?"

When I came back to the kitchen afterwards, Liz and Lisa were both gone. After looking around for them, I decided I should leave a thank you note and walk back to the car. I set it on the kitchen table next to Lisa's cups and left through the front door, leaving it unlocked behind me.

The tow was waiting for me when I got back to the car. He was a sturdy, blond-haired man in denim coveralls, and he paced anxiously back and forth as I walked toward him. "I'm sorry you had to wait for me. I was at a woman's home just past the trees making a phone-"

"Liz's," he said.

"Yes, she was very helpful."

"She always is," he said, with an indescribable look on his face. It was then that I noticed the mason jar in his hand, half-filled with nails.

"What the fuck is going on here?" I said, taking a step back.

"I'll pay for the tires. I'm sorry. I'll take care of it. I just... needed to hear her voice."


"Liz. She calls anytime someone breaks down out here. Makes small talk, tells me about her morning, what Lisa did to make her laugh that day. It's almost like they never died. Like maybe she was just running late."


Monday, July 30, 2007

Parade (Illustration)

Originally uploaded by JaneDoughnut

Collage work for Parade. At some point I will have to learn to draw.


Sunday, July 29, 2007


The zookeeper dreams about a city filled with animals. And what else should he dream of? Ostriches burying their heads in fashion magazines and manicured lawns. Giraffes gossiping at the fence. Fucking turtles blocking traffic. Herds of squeaking rats. Monkeys at keyboards, apes at the bar, primates of every kind flinging shit at each other. It's all he sees all day. What else should he dream of?


Thursday, July 26, 2007


Rician tried to walk away from his kill, but couldn't. It wasn't that he felt any moral obligation to stay, or guilt, or revulsion. He literally could not walk away. At about twenty feet he tripped and fell face down in the dust. Embarrassed and glad no one could see, he got up and tried again. But his feet stuck. He could walk back, walk in circles... but he couldn't get more than twenty feet from the mark's body. Some invisible tether was keeping him at the scene.

By sweaty force he finally managed to push his foot forward....

The body behind him jumped.

Which of course caused Rician to trip and fall again, adding a new layer of dust to his shocked face. The surprise sank into his stomach and knotted up. This could be very bad.

Third time's a charm, they say. Pushing one foot forward, he watched the corpse scoot along the ground toward him, ever so slightly, pulled by some astral chord. Left, right, left, he managed to walk away, dragging the body behind him with a blood trail to mark his progress.

He would have to take this up with his client.


Monday, July 16, 2007


Anti-Gravity Cassie
Originally uploaded by JaneDoughnut

Yo! We're back. No trips in space. Apparently we're not good enough for the aliens. (Too liberal.) But I have cool pictures for y'all on flickr.


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

And we're off

Roswell, here we come. Maybe I'll be online at some point in the next 10 days. Or maybe I'll be abducted by aliens and come to laugh at your puny Internet technology. On the moon, we have evolved beyond computers.

Monday, July 2, 2007

In which Nica spells it out

The continuing tale of Nica & the Timers

She's a bourbon drinker, and the boys don't have anything on her. And she's drinking like it's a Catholic funeral.

Which it sort of is.

She would look so pretty with a gloss of blood on her lips.

"There's a whole world of people who would call what we have to live with a gift," she spat. "Fucking morons. Fucking civilians."

"It saved my life," said Alan.

"For now."

Glasses are raised to lips and dropped back down to the table. Alan stares into the amber liquid; can't meet anyone's eyes. These could be our last drinks together. We should toast something.

"So why?" asked Kemp.

"How can we not? That's the beauty of our situation. You can see the marks, you can see the Timers, you know exactly when death is coming. And this gives you the opportunity to do something about it. Gives you the imperative. But it's all a lie. There's not really anything you can do. You kill them, and they'll come back. You save someone, and you just kill them more slowly. You interfere, and they mark you. You run, and they catch you."

When you want to see how deep the ocean is, you can't worry about consequence. We're swimming now, we'll wait to see who drowns.

Kemp motioned for another round. "Do we have a plan?"

Nica does.

"I'll deal with Daddy myself."


Monday, June 25, 2007

Piece of Cake

For years, there was that scar. And then there was not. Simple.

For years, I was afraid to let anyone see my skin. Dresses and beaches were out of the question. I wore pants and boots and a posture of hiding. For years, there was that scar.

And then there was not. I bought dresses. No matter what you told me, I never believed I was beautiful until I could buy dresses.

For years, there was that scar. But something wonderful happened.... My heart kept beating. I kept breathing and the world kept turning. And I thought, "Thank God, thank you, oh thank God, it's not there anymore."

And there was not. Simple.


Thursday, June 21, 2007


These are the first from a set of homemade postcards. I rather like these. These first two are collage, made entirely of pieces used without permission ;) But I'll end up using a variety of media. And in case you couldn't tell, these are very much in the style of PostSecret.

All the Time in the World


Your Brain on Roommates


When You're Standing at the Edge

As you may have read, local artists and local poets have been working together on an exhibition at the West Edge gallery on Milam Street. Tonight their efforts are ready for the public in "Standing at the Edge."

Members of the Trapped Truth Society, West Edge Books and News, and others will be presenting poetry in response to selected works of art in the West Edge Artists Co-Op gallery. The readings will be held in conjunction with the Shreveport Regional Arts Council Trolley Tour. More information is available at anchorpoet.

And from what I've heard, Donecia Pea will be there for the Shreveport Times, and Red River Writes and North of New Orleans may be getting some exposure, too. You might even get to see our ugly mugs in the paper.

So be there tonight! I will. And I want your company, because you're wonderful.

Thursday, June 21
6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
WEAC Gallery on Milam, downtown Shreveport
Free to the public.
The collection of poetry, representing work by nine poets (Laura Flett, W. Macaulay Johnson, Kitty Lutke, Nan Dozier, Patrica Cochran Murrell, Mawiyah Bomani, & Nadine Charity) and eighteen artists (including Jane Heggen), will be available at a nominal fee.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Scraps (Grayscale Paranoia Edition)

Gray. Literally. The walls were gray. An environment seemingly designed to crush its inhabitants. And of course there were no windows, not that you could see from your ergonomically designed chair. The darkness of broken bulbs would have been a blessing, but the fluorescents reliably flickered flickered flickered unflattering gray light onto unhappy gray walls.

Gray, gray, gray. It was enough to drive anyone crazy. So why only me? Maybe it was just enough to drive me crazy. I should quit projecting. But it just makes me feel so much better to believe you're all a bunch of fuckin' nutjobs.

The balloons are back. They're falling to the concrete instead of escaping to the sky. The balloons are jumping from the ledges. Suicidal. Or maybe just looking for their lost children.

Why so much running in my sleep? Sometimes I'm the predator. Sometimes the prey. But there's always to be a hunt.

This night I do the stalking.

They were my companions. I thought. Friends. But they're hiding something. Hiding their plans and hiding from me.

Most nights I follow ghosts of voices but stray to different worlds. My past, sometimes. Others... Theirs? The future? Why do you show me this? Doesn't matter. This night I do the stalking.

She thinks I can't see. But I do, I do. I've planted some sadness to gratify you. This is what you want? The tears, on cue. Here. Believe you've found what validates you. Does it hit that secret void and fit? This is the bitch that stays locked in your ribs.

You think you know me but you haven't got a clue. You think you know me but I see right through you. I think you think you're safe uncloaked. But I see your face. I hope you choke.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Now He'll Rest

I just learned that Larry DeFratis died on June 1st, from complications of diabetes. (Obituary available here.)

I feel like an ass for not knowing sooner. I skipped a lot of emails, didn't read the news. I would have liked to go to the funeral, at least to say what I'm about to tell you here.

I don't know that I could call him a good friend. We'd only communicated by email in the last few years, and infrequently at that. But I can say that he was someone that made a difference to this community. And he made a difference to me.

Larry was a leader for Democrats, progressive, and liberal citizens in Shreveport-Bossier. I worked with him before and during the Kerry campaign, and contacted him first anytime I wanted to know what was going on over the years since.

We tried to generate hope together as the war machine threatened to tear our faith in the United States to shreds. And we were heartbroken together as Bush slid into his undeserved victory.

And I did lose faith. But Larry, Hugh McKinney, and many others like them helped bring some of it back. And they taught me that even if you lose, you will still be proud that you fought for what you believed in. Losing doesn't mean there was no point in trying.

And I know Larry was involved in the community on a number of different levels, too. He was president of the Breakfast Optimist Club (and I think I'll be making a donation to their leukemia foundation in his honor). I'm sure he touched countless lives in ways both small and large.

I know he'll be missed greatly, and that his role in our city will be a hard one to fill.

I also know that when my time comes, if I can say I have touched as many lives as he did, I will be able to die with some satisfaction. I hope he is resting in peace.

Thanks, Larry.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Excuses, Excuses

I know, I know, I'm in a lull. Plus I've been busy, and out of town, and at the edge of insanity.

I've been scolded. I've been scolded on one end (okay, more than one) for not posting any more recent additions to our comic world. And I've been scolded on the other for posting anything.

See, I want to keep letting this universe evolve, and keep sharing it here. But P doesn't want to do it that way. And he has a point.

So, no more comic book stuff here until we actually have something completed, published, and ready to brag about. We may build a separate website where we post some preliminary artwork, more related short stories, etc. And trust me, you'll get a link when we do. And spam emails and MySpace bulletins.

In the meantime, I guess I need to go chase down Nica, work on a story that's been brewing for too long, "Coffin Parade," and maybe scan some of my ridiculous postcards for y'all.

I'll be catching up at y'alls own blogs as soon as things slow down over here.

Also, I've decided that the possessive of y'all doesn't require a second apostrophe, the same way his, hers and its don't need one. Aren't you glad you have me to make these important decisions?


Thursday, May 31, 2007

To The River

If you're a new reader, this story appears to pick up in the middle of nowhere. Revisit the comic book stuff, particularly Parallel and Barren, to find out who the hell these characters are. I know I am not supposed to be posting comic book stuff here, but this seems to be the only way I ever make any progress on the stories. I'll see you after my 4-day weekend! Neener neener neener!

It was nearly dawn before Wyatt gave up on Emma and left the asylum alone. She might be okay. But she wouldn't be in travelling shape. And they'd be adding more than antibiotics to her diet of pills once she started babbling about Wyatt's visit.

"Dammit." Once more for good measure. They're so fragile. And so they put their faith in their own creations, personalities with a little more longevity than one human life. Faith that's misplaced and misunderstood. In most cases.

Wyatt stepped into the night and lit a cigarette. Hand-rolled.

"Nice to see you, Wyatt."

He hid his startled jump by turning around a little too quickly.

"Jonathan. How are the Ends?"

"Ending. The usual."


"But... something interesting happened."

"Oh? What's that?" Maddening old man, thought Wyatt. He has a point, he just won't get to it.

"We had a visitor. Didn't seem to know where he was, poor soul."

"Really? You don't see many anymore, do you?"

"Other than the Types, no. This one wasn't a Type, but... he made the sky run backwards."

Wyatt coughed. "Do what?"

Jonathan didn't look like he was joking. The burly, friendly red head had his arms crossed, his jaw set. "It's tough to explain. I think you should come with me to see."


"Emma will be fine. You can come back later for whatever it is you need, if it still seems important."

"Come, Wyatt. Come see the river and let me tell you about Stewart."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Jason Lammons

I was so intent on seeing RRI and NONO's transfer happen, I completely forgot to mention Jason Lammons (BOOK · PHOTOGRAPHY · MYSPACE). Jason co-edited the first issue of NONO, and the blasted thing never would've been printed without him. Plus he just rocks.

Forgive me, Jason!


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Every Bell & Tick

Last night I got on the train looking for Nica. I looked all through the elementary school and the orphanage, but she wasn't there. I tripped over saw palmettos running through pine trees. I knew she was just ahead of me. Last night the clouds shook with every bell and tick. She couldn't wait for me. Nica's out there somewhere. Tick tick tick. Her footprints are deep, and that means she's running.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

A River Filled With Ink

For the last several years I've hosted a website called Red River Ink, and published a zine called North of New Orleans. Both were intended to let writers from Shreveport reach each other and the community as a whole. Now that I'm leaving Shreveport, it's time to pass those endeavors on to someone else. Because they did bring a lot of people together and make some noise in our literary community.

Thankfully, I found two eager volunteers who are going to do an awesome job of keeping both projects going, and take them in new directions. Everett Webb is turning Red River Ink into Red River Writes, and already has the new site up and running. If you had an old page on RRI, you can check the new site for instructions on submitting updates or new entries.

Get to know your webmaster. Check out Everett's other projects and websites:
TopCat Live
Poet's Registry
Legacy of Shadrack

Pam Raintree of the Fertile Pen Group is taking over NONO, and is ready for your submissions. This issue will focus on religion in the Ark-La-Tex. Now, I happen to know Pam, and we can be fairly certain you don't have to write about how awesome Baptists are. I expect to see her produce an intelligent issue with worship, diversity, and skepticism. Pam's announcement and submission guidelines are pasted below.

I'm really excited to be leaving my hometown and starting a new and very different stretch of my life. But I'm also going to miss the great community we have here. I think Red River Ink and NONO are two of the things I am most proud of having contributed to Shreveport. I hope all of you will support Everett and Pam the way you've supported me.

Don't forget to go check out Red River Writes!


Call For Submissions

The Fertile Pen Group is seeking submissions for
NoNO (North of New Orleans)
Deadline: 15 July 2007
Send by email to:
Include "NoNO" in the subject line

Seeking original writings and/or B&W drawings depicting the cultural aspects of religion in the Ark-La-Tex, as follows: 1 Flash Fiction 100 word limit; 2 General Fiction 700 word limit; 1 Investigative Report 250 word limit; 1 Essay 500 word limit; 1 Anecdotal True Story 750 word limit; 3 Poems 30 line limit; 6 Poems six line limit; 1 Cover Art 4 x 6 format.

Written material should be sent to the editor in the body of an email. Contact the editor prior to sending artwork. Previously published work should be accompanied by the publication information so proper credit can be given. Submission for publication in NoNO constitutes a one-time copyright release for the issue following submission. Two free copies of NoNO will be reserved for each person whose work is published, to be claimed in person. Reserved copies will be held until the next issue is released.

Registration of copyrights is the responsibility of the copyright holder.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

We'll Need Coffee

1: Beating the Timer
2: Learning to Walk
3: Flores para los muertos

4: We'll Need Coffee

Nica lit a Camel, took two drags, and threw it on the decomposing body, already losing its glammer. It flashed like gunpowder, reflecting in her eyes. Light green eyes, almost yellow, Kemp thought. Then she turned away from him and marched toward the front of the alley.

"We'll need coffee," she says.

Right into Shoney's. As though that wasn't the first place they'd come. But the fugitives would be gone by then. Nica'd bought some time.

Time. Don't trust that word.

But of course they're delaying the inevitable. You can't become immortal.

"All-day breakfast buffet. Don't you love it?"

They didn't love it. But they were hungry. So all three filled plates.

And got a table by the window. Just in case.

Nica lifted a heaping fork of dirty rice into her mouth and glared at Alan. "Hacky wha na fuh oo cotton uh inu?"

"That's gross, Nica, swallow your food before you start swearing at me."

The bacon is burnt just the way he likes it. But the salt shaker makes him think of slugs. Albert dissolving like a slug.

"Seriously, Alan, you've got us in some deep shit here."

"Well," says Kemp, sarcasm dripping down his chin, "please tell me all about it, dollface, because I just helped you kill something out there. And you're fucking welcome, Alan."

"And who the hell else would I have called?" Alan spat back. "What exactly was I supposed to do?"

"Shut up, boys, everyone's staring at us."

The waitress finally filled their coffee cups, eyeing them suspiciously. They smiled and waited.

"You were supposed to die," Said Nica. "But I guess if I believed that, I wouldn't have come running in like fucking double-O-seven, eh?"

"And now," said Kemp, "I'd like to know why we went running in there like fucking double-O-seven."

"Kemp." Quietly. Nica'd been robotic efficiency. Which was scary as hell. But the desperation, the pity in Nica right now? Kemp thought that was scarier.

"How can I explain? It's a gift which, if you'd never watched someone die, you'd never know you had. I've known about the Timers a long time. I've known death a long time."

"Alan, not until he was 20. And you, Kemp, that's what you've seen. Seen. But you still don't know shit. And thanks to Alan, you've gotta learn quick."

the windows we haven't been watching the windows

"Everyone done with their coffee? Because I think we'll need something stronger."

She slammed enough cash on the table to pay for everyone and apologize to the waitress. Maybe bribe the waitress, in case she'd recognized the crimson flowers on their hands and shirts and shoes. Slammed it down hard enough to rattle a vase of wilted roses and baby's breath pushed behind the napkins and salt and ketchup.

"Wilted," said Alan.

"Yes, flowers wilt, things die, how poetic and observant of you, Alan," said Kemp.

"No. No they wilted when the Timer came near. Or maybe they wilted for us."

He held out his hand. Held out his mark. His hourglass, his timer.

Nica wasn't quite ignoring them. But her only response was, "flores para los muertos."

"Nica!" Kemp was close to panic. And it didn't help that no one else seemed to be. "Does this mean we're Timers? Are we Timers now?"

"No. I figure it means we've got pickups scheduled."

She lifted the dead flowers from their vase and walked out of the restaurant, not even waiting for Alan and Kemp to finish eating.

Outside the door she... stopped... walked back into the alley. Laid her flores on ashy residue that called itself Albert.

"Red Room Lounge okay?"

"Aren't we on a schedule?"

"We're on their schedule. May as well work with that."


Monday, May 14, 2007

Flores para los muertos

Illustrations for the continuing "Nica & the Timers" tale.

1: Beating the Timer
2: Learning to Walk



Learning to Walk

1: Beating the Timer


Edited as of 5/17/05

Nica set the body on fire before she and her friends nonchalantly walked into Shoney's for a breakfast buffet.

This did slow Albert down a touch. It's hard to adjust to a new body. Walking's always a bitch.

Humans could never have been intended to walk. They certainly aren't designed for it. The center of balance is up in the chest, close to their ridiculously heavy skulls. The feet are too narrow, the inner ear too dull, the ankles impossibly fragile. Albert felt a tickle in his human nose, tried to brace himself, then sneezed and fell over on his ass.

Losing the old body was just an inconvenience. But a hell of an inconvenience nonetheless.

Reattaching neurons and learning to walk was hard enough in a human body - and why they had to insist on inefficient human bodies, Albert couldn't comprehend - but it was even harder when you inherited one with more obvious injuries. This one had a grand total of seven toes and a malfunctioning artificial knee.

"I am the great and mighty monster come to take your soul!" he bellowed. What a joke.

He started laughing, and fell over again.


3: Flores para los muertos


Monday, May 7, 2007

Let's take a vote

You've all been spelling y'all wrong. Seriously. You know how an apostrophe works, yes? In the word don't, the apostrophe goes where the o would be if we weren't so lazy we turned everything possible into a contraction. So if we agree that y'all is a contraction for you all, there should be no more debate about this very important subject.



Thursday, May 3, 2007

Beating the Timer

Edited as of 5/17/05
It began as a dream...

This one called himself Albert. He'd cornered Alan in the alley behind Shoney's.

But he'd also cornered himself.

Nica thought it was the lead pipe in the Conservatory. Kemp bet on the glass bottle in the alley.

Nica saw the relief in Alan's face when he caught sight of her and Kemp silently marching in, putting the Timer between Alan and themselves.


The Timer turned, black eyes flashing.

"Nica. You have to let me do my job"

"I ain't gotta do shit."

She swung the pipe into his temple.

She heard a cracking noise. But first, during the slow-motion sling, even as the splashing connection traveled through her arm, she heard a melodic sound. Like a windchime as it danced with the air.

Thick black blood leaked into his eye.

"Last warning, daughter-"

But Alan's foot in his neck knocked the words loose.

Kemp took out the eyes with broken glass.

There is no feeling, no thought, no relief in this silent moment.

"Are you okay, Alan?" asked Nica.


"Savor it," gurgled the shrinking Timer. "You know I'll have to come after you now, love?"

"I know." Nica can look him in the eyes. Or in what was once the eyes.

The regret in his face slackened. She saw the tattoo on the Timer's hand, then the entire hand, begin to fade.

And watched the hourglass take shape on her own hand, between her thumb and index finger.

I know.


2: Learning to Walk


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tribute to Tommy Welch - Update

Since I've been getting a lot of hits from people looking for information about the Tommy Welch tribute, I thought I'd post a small update.

Sunday was, by all accounts, a big success. The event went well into the evening, with several bands, lots of great art, and steady attendance. There were members of Tommy's family there, as well as those of us who never got to meet him in life.

Amy G has some photos from the event and some of her own thoughts on her MySpace blog and Photobucket. There are also a few photos on Robert Trudeau's Shreveport Faces blog. Many, many kudos to Amy and everyone else that helped make it a reality.


Sunday, April 22, 2007


It starts in the kitchen. Meals of the last week clog the drains, the sink won't work, no one wants to be the one to fix it. The dishes sit there, fill it, gather around the edges until the entire room becomes unusable. It spreads to the rest of the house, because there's nowhere to take the cups and bottles and cans. It could have been the aftermath of a hurricane, but it was only laziness, a laziness showdown.

The war machines rumble overhead, rattling the wine glasses and windows. It's the air show, our city's greatest pride, engines and guns and bombers. It could be war. It could just be the local economy. At any rate, it's distraction.

This is how the world will end. Not with hurricanes or bombs, not with fire or ice or darkness. Just laziness. A laziness that spreads, and convinces the few trying to pick up after themselves that there's no longer any point, and they've tired of cleaning up behind their fathers and brothers. At least we'll all go in our sleep.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Open Expression - A Tribute to Thomas Welch

Shreveporters - please pass this on as you see fit.

Friends of Thomas H. Welch will gather on Sunday, April 22nd at 2:00 PM to celebrate the former Shreveporter's life and accomplishments at an art & music tribute.

The event, to be held at 516 Soundstage on Texas Street, downtown Shreveport, will include performances by Dirtfoot, Chris Alexander, Kern Courtney, the Peekers, and other musicians. Local artists will also be displaying original work in a one-day exhibition.

Memorial services have also been held in Colorado and California. Sunday's tribute will provide an opportunity for all those in Shreveport touched by Welch to gather together in remembrance. Organizers will also be raising money for Welch's family.

Tommy Welch passed away in Los Angeles on February 27th at the age of 29. He grew up and lived in Shreveport until moving first to Colorado Springs and then Long Beach and Los Angeles with punk band Raised Under Reagan.

During his time in Shreveport, he was an influential player in the music, art and theater communities. He used his talents in everything from his work with children to expressing his anger with the government and status quo. Friends describe him as someone that lived every day like it was his last. He was an inspiration for countless people from the deep south to the west coast.

Welch attended C.E. Byrd High School and graduated from Centenary College in 2001 with a degree in Theater. He stayed involved and invested in the community in more ways than most of us would have the energy for. Among other things, he worked with KSCL, Centenary's radio station, was active in local theaters including the Marjorie Lyons Playhouse, and passed his love of drama on to children through drama workshops, art classes, and the Peter Pan Players children's theater. Welch was also active in the music community and worked with groups like Shrevepunx, booking shows at the Zebra Room and expanding the range of music available locally.

The tribute, which will be on the eve of Welch's 30th birthday, is open to the general public. To contribute or to find more information, contact Amy Guendulay at 865-5257 or 210-5836.

Art & Music Tribute to Tommy Welch
Sunday, April 22nd, 2PM
516 Soundstage, Texas St., downtown Shreveport
Featuring Dirtfoot, Kern Courtney, Chris Alexander, and a one-day exhibition of work from local artists
Donations to benefit Tommy's family in Los Angeles


Tuesday, April 3, 2007


"Yes, yes, you're all very sorry," said Ms. Minnie Parish with a dismissive wave of her hand. "It's such a tragedy, a real shame, et cetera et cetera. And I'm grateful, I am. But I'm not here for your sympathies. I'm here to talk business."

"Then we'll get right to it," said Kevin Hume. Hume appreciated a woman like Parish. He'd have liked to have more people like her working at Bloodlust. But he'd built his production company from the ground up (mostly) on his own, and still essentially ran it on his own. If you want something done right...

"I've never heard of someone willing their body and estate to a movie before, but I don't think we'll have many problems. If you can donate your body to science or have your ashes shot from a cannon, surely you can use it in a horror movie."

Cease and Rector, his lawyer and assistant, nodded their pointy heads.

"I've got some paperwork drawn up," said Cease, sliding a short stack across the table to Parish.

"Does this include a written description of my roles? Both of them?"

"Of course. We'll film the living scenes and hauntings first, while you're still in fair health. And afterwards..." Rector cringed. He couldn't speak of her impending death as practically as Hume. "Afterwards, we'll complete the other scenes."

Parish smiled and reached for her pen. Rector thought she looked dead already.

Parish was a widow. She had no children. She'd never been a celebrity or an artist or a politician. She'd played philanthropist for a little while after getting control of her husband's estate. Mostly to local artist types, small films and startup companies. But she felt like she'd never done anything to achieve that immortality everyone looks for.

It was ironic that cancer finally told her to live. Screamed it, and underlined it by trying to suffocate her. She never knew she was sick until she was having trouble breathing, and of course by then all anyone could do was drain her lungs and give her morphine.

Six months to come up with something really good. Maybe eight. Maybe less.

Then she'd remembered Hume and Rector. She'd made their little production company possible. She had a brilliant idea, and they couldn't turn her down easily. Hume would bury her good.

Much to Rector's dismay, the working title of Parish had become the official title. Hume thought it would be wonderfully artistic and that much scarier if the lead character were a real woman, a real dead woman. A living legend, so to speak. While audiences wondered how much of the story were true and looked for poor Minnie Parish in the dark corners of their rooms, they'd be throwing their money at Bloodlust.

It didn't hurt that the sickness was real, either. At least, it didn't hurt anyone but Parish. Her thinning hair, her yellowing skin; it was better than any effects they could have afforded. And it made her "performance" all the more convincing.

In real life, Parish was dying of cancer, just like her husband before her. In Parish, our heroine is dying of cancer. The same cancer as her husband before her. Except in the film, it's not like a cancer anyone's ever seen outside of the Parish family. It's probably not cancer at all, just a viral, solid form of Death, some evil that's taken a liking to her forty-something body and everything her soul will leave behind.

In Parish, our heroine suffers and raves through morphine-induced hallucinations of fire between days of sleep. She would probably be better off dead. At least that's what the nurse who furtively smothers her failing patient believes. And she could have been right, but Minnie didn't think so.

In real life, they wheeled her coffin (empty, of course) down a red carpet. As a widow with no children, she didn't have much family to speak of. Only a few friends. The majority of the mourners were actors. Some were professional. Parish didn't mind. She went out in style.

Working with dead bodies involves a hellish amount of red tape. Cease was glad he'd had most of it taken care of ahead of time. He got some interesting reactions in the process. Date of death? they'd ask. About two months from now. Yeah, that's a fun one to explain.

In Parish, Minnie's niece and heir thinks it would be a good idea to have the body autopsied, strange tissue cultured, and the new cancer studied. And it would have been a good idea, except our heroine doesn't much care for it.

The cancer spreads. You know you've got it when you see Ms. Minnie Parish. Sitting right on your chest. Not much for social graces.

By the finale, the nurse and half the ICU staff are dead of the disease. The niece and everyone at the coroner's office. Most of the artists and businessmen and filmmakers Parish had poured money into.

Parish does well. But it's the backstory that earns the millions. The realism. The actual, maybe, just-enough reality of it. And the spectre of Ms. Minnie Parish behind your shoulder. Because, gosh, maybe you met her! You think you remember talking to her at the grocery store one day. You're pretty sure she bought an oil painting from your friend Deb. What an incredible woman! She made death an art form. She went out in style.

Hume was really quite pleased. Cease was thrilled. Rector felt a little sick.

It was time for a second funeral, and an actual burial. They'd mutilated the corpse pretty badly during filming - her idea - so there couldn't be an open casket this time around either. Parish never wanted her corpse to be the last thing people remembered anyway. They remembered her ghosts. Both of them.

It took about three hours before the first Minnie Parish sightings were reported. It took about three months for the DVD to break sales records. It took a year for her home to be placed on the Haunted Hollywood tour. It took ten to name a lung disease after her. It took the instant of her last breath for Parish to find that immortality everyone looks for.


Friday, March 30, 2007


I need to brush up on my French. The French government has made its equivalent of Project Blue Book available online - all their collected UFO sightings and data. Check it out here: GEIPAN

Has anyone got an English mirror of this site? Of course, the French might find such a suggestion kind of insulting. ;) There is a kind of summary site available in English, though: CNES


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Everyone Loves Apple Butter

More scraps. I've had writer's block. I can only deliver bits and pieces.

It's been about 3 days since the city cleared out. At first I was amazed by how quickly everyone jumped ship. But with some thought, I realized these people were frightened even before the tragedy became clearly inevitable. These people needed Big Brother. These people were most comfortable in the flight path of a B-52. Of course their fright materialized so spectacularly when even the illusion of safety shattered above them.

"Aw, kitten," I cooed, picking up the mangy stray on the front porch. She nuzzled me and purred and gave me all that silly happy love kittens are worshipped for.

I needed that comfort all the more as my eyes adjusted to the night.

A hundred cats, at least.

Karma will come back around to you. And she won't be kind to such an unkind bitch. She'll show no compassion, because you've never been compassionate. She'll break you like you've broken so many. And what's really wonderful, what really makes me smile, is that she'll take the form of someone you trust. Someone you're starting to trust. Someone like me.

I heard you weren't feeling well, so I brought you soup, and toast with apple butter. Everyone loves apple butter. Halfway through you started vomiting again. You wanted to be alone. You thought it was just a virus. I'm sure it was. I hugged you, told you to call if you needed anything. I'm such a great friend.

I only wanted to hurt you, and I guess I did. I didn't think about your daughter finding it in the fridge. I should have. Everyone loves apple butter.

And now karma will come looking for me someday. Probably in the form of someone I trust. But at least it won't be you.

Jeff, the ball python, tests his cage every night. As though one night a defect will have magically appeared, and he'll be free to do whatever it is he has in mind.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Calling Area Songwriters!

SWAMP (Red River Singers, Writers and Musicians Partnership) is teaming with BPCC to get local music into the area's growing film industry. If you have quality recordings of your original material and would like to see it on commercials, television shows and in movies, SWAMP wants to meet with you!

The first meeting is Tuesday night (3/13) at the BPCC campus on Texas Street, Bossier City, D Building at 7PM. Check out the Shreveport Times for more details.

Or, check out the article just because I wrote it and you love me.


Friday, March 9, 2007


Literally, a combination of notebook scraps. Not so much a story as prose.

Mary pretended to read the newspaper dispenser while Mae rifled through the garbage can. Or perhaps it was Mary with her hands in the trash. It's no longer clear who is who. Don't you act disgusted. Be classier than that. Nice people can avert their eyes with subtlety.

Mary sang Patsy Cline, just like she did as a little girl, when her mother showed her off like a new doll. A doll that does tricks. Maybe she doesn't even enjoy singing. Could be she's been on the wrong path ever after, still chasing a carrot they've long since stopped dangling.

Mae has meticulous and fully ignored plans for the future. She has never been so tired and hungry and hopeless. Sometimes your blood just gets agitated. Sometimes it wants out. Sometimes you stare at your wrists with your jaw slack and your eyes daydreaming.

Mary and Mae met when they were singing with Fairport Convention. They really used to be something. Don't you be surprised. Be smarter than that. Smart people are never surprised by ill fate.

Mary or Mae holds a stinking prize up to the sunlight. Her companion smiles. Sometimes you have to ignore the stink and accept life's scraps.


Monday, March 5, 2007

UFO sighting?

Could it be true? On his blog, Kevan Smith shares an account related by his friend Richard of a UFO sighting over Shreveport-Bossier last Thursday night into Friday morning.

Triangle Craft Over Shreveport

Now, I ask you, how could I possibly have missed this? I'm shaking with disappointment. Did anyone else hear, or perhaps see anything?


Thursday, March 1, 2007

Five O'Clock Shadow (2)

Five O'Clock Shadow (1)

The sun finally came out, while I had my camera, but the effect has lost a bit of its creepiness. For me, anyway.

Maybe it will percolate into a story after all. But probably not.


Wednesday, February 28, 2007


It was nearing the end of the workday in the mall, and the jewelry store girls were leaning over counters, propping feet up on desks and watching the day's last shoppers move like cattle through the sterile corridor in front.

Evan spotted her first, and once they'd all seen her, they couldn't take their eyes off her. The most enormous woman ever to grace the linoleum was swaying through the hall. They tried to turn away, but kept staring in awe at her hamhock thighs, the special suspenders supporting them, the belly hanging a good two feet below where a waist should have been. She moved with an incredible momentum. Karen was certain she would topple over at any moment, and just keep sliding forward on her stomach.

And since they were staring so rudely, none of them missed it when she did fall. She hit the ground so hard that her glass eye popped out of her head and rolled across the floor, coming to rest under a shelf in the leather goods store across the corridor.

Karen jumped up immediately, her pinched face already turning red with suppressed laughter. Her ribs shook and her perfect, skinny ass didn't jiggle at all as she tottered on 4 inch heels towards the back of the store, where she could laugh at the woman less conspicuously.

Geri fell over in her chair and didn't bother hiding her delight. Her laughter looked bizarre and unnatural. She couldn't smile through the Botox. Her cheeks never turned rosy and her eyes only reflected caricatures of feelings.

Evan covered her face with her hands, bony bejeweled fingers creeping into abnormally blonde hair, an eye surrounded by pencil and part of one silicone lip peeking out. "What a fucking freak!" she howled.

"What a freak!"


Monday, February 5, 2007


Just to give you an idea of where we're going, here's the introduction to our comic book. This will surely change quite a bit as it moves from short story to script to artwork. But at its core, it's the same stories and characters you've already met. This piece draws primarily on Sophie and The Attic. We're just tying them all together into something larger. Hope you like it!

Sophie slept. Her ice-blonde hair covered her closed eyes in chunky shards. Less than a mile away, Wyatt was making his escape.

"That's my girl, Emma," he cooed to the girl, barely over 20, who was pulling a chair into the center of her hospital room's floor. "See the door?"

She winced. She hated his voice. Though to her, it sounded much like her own voice rattling around in her head. And in any place but a place like this, no one else would have been able to hear him.

At The Briar, Wyatt had lots of potential friends. The crazy and the gifted both ended up here, and they were the only ones who listened to... people like Wyatt. Yes, people is close enough.

Emma was too short to reach the ceiling even from the chair, much less pull herself up into it. "Rabbit?" Her voice was shaky, her eyes dilated, her hands bloody again. "Rabbit? I can't get the door open."

Wyatt wished there were a broom, or a ladder, or something useful in the sparse room. "Try the other chair. Lift it over your head and pull the door down with it." Emma got the second chair, climbed up again, and held it over her head with the legs in the air. Eventually she managed to knock one of the ceiling tiles away, leaving a black hole in the center of the ceiling.

"No ladder," she muttered.

"Stack the chairs."

"I'll fall!"

"You only have to get into the attic. Who cares if the chairs fall after you've got your grip?"

In all honesty, Wyatt didn't care that much if the chairs fell before she'd got her grip. A little, because Emma was gifted and crazy, and could be valuable. Still, ultimately replaceable.

But she managed. As the two of them climbed into the ceiling, the chairs fell over on the white tiles with a loud thud.

Sophie was shifting in her sleep.

In the dream, she was four again. Just old enough to remember. A phone was ringing in the kitchen. She peeked out of her old bedroom, began an endless march down the hall of her childhood home. The darkly-stained wood floor shifted, twisted and grew longer and longer. The ringing in the distance stopped, cut off by her mother's voice.

"Hello? ... Gillian, hello! ... I was just finishing up in the kitchen. We should be at the service in less than an hour..."

The voice anchored Sophie's perspective, and walking became much easier. She made it to the end of the hallway.

Emma and Wyatt were making their way down their own dark hall, on hands and knees through itchy, ancient insulation. Emma was beginning to whimper, frightened of whatever she saw in the dark.

"Don't worry, girl," said Wyatt, trying (and failing) to be comforting. "We're getting out of here. There should be an elevator shaft. Just feel along for it."

The ceiling groaned underneath them, and a tile fell out from under Emma, crashing onto the floor of a concrete room below. Hopefully no one was around to hear it.

"Kitchen," said Emma.

Wyatt didn't argue with her.

Sophie turned to see her mother standing over their old iron stove, an anachronism she insisted on including in an otherwise modern 1970's kitchen. "Momma?"

"Sophie, honey, what's wrong?" asked her mother, holding a hand over the phone's receiver.

"I'm having a bad dream," she said, thinking, That's not quite right, is it? And she ran toward her mother's arms.

Emma and Wyatt were almost at the elevator shaft, near the corner of the top floor of the building, when the ceiling started to give way.

Sophie tripped over the telephone chord. She put out her hands to brace her fall.

Emma tried to hang on to the thin metal beams between the empty spaces of the ceiling, but those gave way, too.

Sophie fell onto the hot stove and screamed, trying to pull her hand away.

Emma hit the floor with a sick, soft noise.

Sophie's mother dropped the telephone, running to her and grabbing her arms, pulling as hard as she could.

Wyatt watched as blood began to pool around Emma's head.

Sophie passed out as the flesh of her right hand tore, leaving tendons and smoking skin on the iron.

"Dammit," said Wyatt. "Dammit."

They're so fragile.

Sophie woke up. She didn't wake up screaming anymore, just sweating. She wiped the sweat from her forehead with her right hand. That hand had a hole in the center of the palm. You could see right through it.


Sunday, February 4, 2007

Five O'Clock Shadow

I was standing outside the store today, between the storefront windows and a pillar. Something about the sun reflecting off the window cast my shadow not once, but twice onto the pillar, at different angles. I jumped when I saw it and checked for someone behind me. I lifted my hand, and watched the shadow on the right do the same, while the shadow on the left only shifted a little. If I can remember my camera tomorrow I'll try to capture this creepy oddity.

If taking a picture of a person can capture their soul, what happens when you photograph your own errant shadows? Let's see, shall we?


Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Drugstore Witchcraft


Agnes shook her head and held the folded newspaper in the air over her shoulder.

"Gillian!" she bellowed. "Come have a look at this!"

Gillian sighed, turned off the water at the kitchen sink, and wiped her hands on her skirt. "What?" she asked, taking the paper from Agnes.

"Look at it."

The Times was folded open to a story about a young woman found dead in her apartment. Twenty-three years old and no explanations. Her landlord found her in her bathtub, with the showerhead still running.

"That's terrible," said Gillian. "Do you know this girl?"

"No. Look at the photo."

The photo showed Kaycee Hargrave - the friendly face of the local police - and the building's owner standing in the bathroom, pristine tiles and sunny window in the background. At least they'd been tasteful enough to remove the body.

"I'm not sure what you're wanting me to see here."

Exasperated, Agnes huffed and pried her massive frame from her chair. She grabbed the paper from Gillian and pointed at the shampoo bottles barely visible in the grainy photo.

"You see?!?"

"Shampoo. So what?"

"Suave fresh scent shampoo. John Frieda Stay Red. Do you realize all the herbs and extracts they've got in shampoos nowadays? I can't even get bloodroot in Mexico anymore. But Suave? Oh, they've got it, no problem. These seculars have no idea the fire they're playing with. In this girl's shower alone, you'll have bloodroot, watermint, ginger, even tobacco. She cast a death spell on herself while washing her hair!"

They were both uncharacteristically quiet for a moment.

"Shampoo..." Gillian said thoughtfully.

Agnes cackled and wedged herself back into her chair.

"My girl, we are back in business!"


Thursday, January 25, 2007


A note on a work in progress

Just a short note, to let you know why I haven't posted anything in several days.

P and I have a little something up our sleeves. We're taking the characters and stories that are posted on this blog and using them to create something much bigger.

We plan to create a series of comic books (or graphic novels, if you prefer) that weave all of these characters into a bigger chain of events. And for those of you who read the first two installments of Phone Book of Revelations, that story will be continued. In fact, that story may be the most important one all the other characters find themselves caught up in.

So, that's where most of my creative energy is focused right now. Filling in story gaps, working on a script, fearing the daunting task of storyboarding, and then finding us an artist. Maybe even a publisher somewhere down the road, if we can execute our concept well enough.

In the meantime I'll try to post other little shorts, related or not, and maybe some of my old poetry. Or maybe not the poetry. (You're welcome.)

If any of you have experience with this sort of thing (layout, pitching to publishers, or anything else), I'd love to hear your thoughts. Oh, and we could use help with name suggestions, too. Both for the series and our "company." I've been thinking about BOOK as the title of the series.

With fingers crossed (when they're not at the keyboard),


Phone Book of Revelations

In Progress


I met Catarine and Eric while I was doing research for a novel. A novel I still haven't finished, seeing as how I have a much more interesting assignment now.

I wanted to place my characters in a "bad neighborhood," but I was just a dumb white kid; what did I know about anything? And being a dumb white kid, I figured the best way to learn was to spend some time in a bad neighborhood. At a bad school, specifically, volunteering for sports programs in the afternoons. Micah was my stroke of luck.

The ten-year-old caught my attention because he didn't just want to play basketball or make friends or have a place to be until his parents got home in the evening. He knew he was going to grow up to cure cancer. Period. No doubt in his mind. He told me it was "in the book."

"What book?" I asked him.

"The phone book." Micah was so matter-of-fact, he made me feel stupid for not understanding what he meant.

But regardless of any weird book nonsense, Micah was the type of American Dream character that begged to have his story written. A young black boy in a poor neighborhood with a bright future. Micah, I decided, was my case study.

The next afternoon, Micah relayed a dinner invitation from his parents. And so on Friday, I walked home with him after intramurals. My mind had taken two different directions at that point. Part of me was a friend, a teacher; part of me cared the way people should care. The other half of me was writing my novel, narrating our journey through the streets. I made note of the grey sky, the mist in the air that wasn't quite rain, the abundance of concrete. Everything was grey and concrete. An environment designed to stifle. It could have been an abandoned city. We were the only pedestrians, the only people in the world.

My silence must have made him uncomfortable, because he moved a few paces ahead of me. Following him felt almost like a game - he skipped a little when he rounded a corner, he ducked under the rail as he began moving up stairs, he moved like an athlete.

He came to the second level of a quad and opened the screen door without a word. There were three other older children inside, their hands joined as if playing Red Rover. And then Catarine appeared at the door.

"Come in!" She was slender, pretty, and mischievous-looking. She stretched out a long arm and held the door open for me.

"Thank you, Ms. Carter. It's nice to meet you." Her husband Eric was white - in fact, he looked like John Cleese. And had that same mischievous look to him as Caterine.

All seven of us gathered around the living room with salads and cokes and full plates until we'd stuffed ourselves, and as the food settled, Catarine hefted the largest book I'd ever seen from the coat closet. It took the full width of her forearms to hold it, and the thickness of it covered most of her chest.

"Tanya," Catarine said, "we've asked you here because you're going to write about the phone book."


It's kind of a relief to know everyone has ulterior motives, I thought, since I had indeed come here for a story. I waited for her explanation, while Catarine waited for me to tell her she was crazy.

"Prophecy," she began, "tends to deal with events. We feel alone and insignificant in the face of the inevitable..."

But every event has a person tied to it. A living, breathing human who, in some way, alters the course of history. Not realizing this, most of us fall down on the job. We're not aware of how much we matter.

The phone book is different. You look up the person, and only then do you see events. There are millions of shifting entries. Billions of names have appeared. Everyone's number is here, when it's up.

I've got one of six volumes. And I've got an entry. It calls me "the guide." My job is to help the rest stay on their paths.

You have an entry, too, Tanya. Here - look.


Friday, January 19, 2007



Sunday afternoon. Rainy and peaceful and beautiful. Tara and I were lying on my bed passing a joint back and forth. We're silent, enjoying the sleep-like quality of the day, until she says:

"I can see the future. Wanna try?"

Goofy fuck, I think. Tara's been my best friend since 3rd grade. Sometimes I think we don't have much in common anymore. She's into peasant skirts and power crystals and tofu. Me... not so much. But my life wouldn't be the same without her. She brings some magic (and marijuana) to my practicality. We indulge each other.

"Sure, Tara. How can I see the future?"

"Remember when you were a kid, and you'd press your hands against your eyes to see stars?"


"Start there."

I closed my eyes and lightly pushed my palms against my lids.

"What do you see?"

"Corneal damage."

"You're no fun, Ashley. For real. Tell me what you see."

I sighed. "I see stars. I see swirls and galaxies and bursts of light. It's like I'm moving through space."

"Good. Now, keep your eyes closed."

She cupped my chin with her hand. I thought for a minute that she was going to kiss me, and I held my breath. Then she touched a fingertip to my forehead, and the stars came into focus.

A single galaxy zoomed in from my right. Its arms spun slowly, leaking light into the corners of my eyes. I fell into its pink clouds. I focused on one point of light until it expanded into a disc, then a great globe with a host of circling rocks, almost filling my vision. I watched the planet's meticulous spin, counting off time, speeding it up and slowing it down, but always moving forward, always to the future, always in one direction around a far away star.

I moved on, further in, to the smaller worlds. The black was so absolute, I could only aim my gaze at the sun in the center. Finally a blue speck appeared, grew, a tiny jewel expanding like a salt crystal - it overtook me until I was in that blue world.

Where I looked for ocean, I saw ice. Flat ice from horizon to horizon, and me getting closer and closer to the ground. I put out my hands to catch myself, and the world dissolved. I smelled the sweet smoke around me and heard the rain on the roof.

"What happened?" I asked.

"You took the pressure off your eyelids."

"They hurt."

"It will go away in a minute. So?"

I told Tara about what I'd seen.I felt like I'd let her down, forgetting myself and ending the vision too quickly. And she seemed genuinely disappointed.

"I'm sorry."

"Oh, no," she said. "You didn't do anything wrong. I think maybe you were in the wrong galaxy. That happens sometimes. But you lose a bit of the impressiveness of it when you don't get to peek down on humanity."

"It was beautiful."

"Yeah." She handed the joint to me.

"I think I'm good. Thanks."

I closed my eyes and tried to retrace my flight, as though I knew enough about the universe to determine where I'd been. But surely that was Jupiter I'd seen?



"You don't think that was Earth?"

"Well, I hope not. Don't you?"

"I guess so."

"Even if it is, it doesn't really matter. How much time did you count off?"

"It didn't seem like that much."

She stretched and picked herself up off the bed. "I'm hungry. Italian?"

"Mexican. And margaritas."

"Yeah. Let's have a toast."

And she smiled the most beautiful smile in the world. She is my starry-eyed love, until the end of the universe.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Lady in the Corner

Originally posted on 11/24/06

1 - The next table

She sits at her table every Wednesday, has a vegetarian sandwich, and orders coffee for the empty chair across from her. She doesn't seem dangerous, so we don't mind her. She brings character to the cafe. Every cafe needs a crazy lady.

2 - Monica

The waiter here is nuts. Harmless, but nuts. The first time I came here, I ordered the avocado club and a sweet tea. He graciously took my order and turned to the empty chair across from me.

"And for you?"

I was sure I misunderstood. "There's no one meeting me today."

He looked confused. Turned to me. "What about your friend? Won't he be eating?"

Finally I said, "He'll just have coffee."

It's funny. I always figured when I ended up in this kind of situation, I'd be in the waiter's position.

3 - Caleb

Why can't they see me?


Sunday, January 14, 2007

True Stories

I discovered a very cool site on blogspot - Aura's Encounters with the Unexplained. I sent her the story about the weird ball of light my family encountered in the desert one summer, and it's up on her site right now. Go have a look, and let me know what you think it might have been. Other cool sites I've found in the same vein: Andrea's Ghost Stories and Rand's My Paranormal Life.

In other news, my story "The Loan" has been published in Corrosive, a small zine from Wisconsin. Dorothy should be sending both the December and January issues any day now. Maybe I'll scan and post a little of that then. I'm also looking to get some other items published, so once again, if there are any recommendations for sci-fi and dark literary zines for me, please let me know. You can email me if you don't want to leave a comment.


Friday, January 12, 2007


Originally posted on 11/19/06

At first, I didn't hear them. I was just pointing out the errant balloons in the parking lot.

Yesterday, a child in his father's arms let go of his red balloon. I could hear a friend of mine, a mother's words in my head. How do you explain that you can't get the balloon back? Kids that age just don't understand things like gravity and helium and gone.

The balloon went up and up and up. I watched it while I smoked a cigarette. By the time I went in, it looked like Mars. Impossibly far away, a red reflection of sunlight. We won't see it again until it pops in the stratosphere and rains down in red rubbery shards.

It was just an isolated moment.

But today, more balloons. A pink one hop-scotching across car tops. A blue one over the construction cranes at the other end of the shopping center. But there was no grand opening, no barbecue, no birthday party. Just these mysterious balloons.

Then I heard the screaming children. Not painful screams, just children screams, laughter and noise and shouting. But like the balloons, it's still coming from nowhere. There aren't any kids here.

A few days from now, we'll pick up the Times. We'll read about what they dug up while building the new Wal-Mart. And we'll hope they don't have balloons at their grand opening. Because that would just be inappropriate.


Thursday, January 11, 2007


Originally posted on 9/21-23/06
I'm rewriting this one under the title "Barren" in hopes of publication. If any of you have suggestions for sci-fi or fiction mags and zines, please let me know. -C

A Barren Place (Breathe In)

"It's very important that you place rubble around the base of the plants," the man explained. "The leaves don't like to touch the soil itself. And can you blame them? These are very special plants, the only ones I can get to survive in the wasteland. They're smart enough to use as little of the soil as possible."

"What do you call them?" I asked.

"They're the only plants here. I just call them The Plants."

I crossed my arms and tried to silence my belly. I'd been hungry for years. The Earth was sick and couldn't care for us. "How much do you sell these for?"

"Well, certainly not cash! Legal tender, my ass. There's no legal anything anymore. What do you have to trade?"

"I have buttons and needles," I answered meekly. "And an extra canteen."

"Needles. What fabric is left to mend?"

At which point he glanced up at the dark red sky. "It will rain again soon. We need to protect the Plants and get inside. What were you, by the way?"

"I was a chef."

"I was a banker."

But none of that meant anything here.

"Help me get ready for the rains, and then come inside. I may have work for you here."

And so it was I came to live with Jonathan and Fatimah. My main job was finding ways to purify the poisonous water. We had water to drink, irrigate, and bathe on occassion. We lived in luxury. It seemed Jonathan was merely lucky, I was his charity case, and Fatimah's role was obvious enough. One of the only old professions still in demand.

For seven years, we watched the sky boil. We watched for her to wake up, or to finish dying. Between improving our shelter, nursing the Plants, and avoiding dehydration or sickness, there was nothing to do but watch. And wait. Wait for anything.

A Barren Place (Breathe Out)

I woke one morning when the ground groaned and rumbled. The Earth came out of her coma and her heartbeat knocked us from our sleep. She began to breathe; and the crimson sky pulsed around us with a noise like blood rushing through our ears.

Fatimah crossed herself, which struck me as funny.

We stepped out from our shelter and peered through the clouds, searching for the tell-tale glow letting us know where the sun was, and roughly what "time" it was. We'd missed breakfast. Considering that there were approximately three edible things in the landscape, we didn't miss it too much.

"It's time to go," said Jonathan. "We'll follow the river."

"What river?"

He pointed up.

"She flows East," he said. "If there were animals, I'd have run where they ran. But they were gone long before I thought of running, and every rhythm of life left this place. I'm going to follow the only sign she's given me for seven years. I'm going to follow her blood to her heart. We harvest and pack now."

"I'm not going East."

"There's no sense staying here. The sameness is going to drive me mad."

"There's no sense going East. I've been that way."

"Don't worry. We'll be well North of Vegas."

"The new canyons will stretch that far, easily. It's impassable."

But before Jonathan could protest, the Earth exhaled, and the river changed direction. Her lungs rattled and tore tributaries through the sky. Each time she inhaled, new patterns bore their way into the clouds and the rolling shadows of the landscape.

The Earth had been reincarnated. But not us. We were leftovers. Anachronisms. Bankers and chefs and whores.

"I'm going West," I said. "She'll breathe me out."

"This is no accident! We get to survive! I'm moving East."

But after we'd split up the Plants and mumbled goodbyes, the winds came faster and faster from the East. Even Jonathan couldn't deny that the Earth was pushing us away.

So we mumbled different goodbyes and went West. And when she breathes in again, we hope to start over.