America’s Emerging Horror Writers: Midwest Region

Ladies and Gents,

This may sound a bit like self-promotion, because it is.

The following book is a wonderful anthology of short horror stories, all of them written by up-and-coming writers based out of the Midwest. Z Publishing House does a fine job of seeking out writers (just as they’ve sought out yours truly), whom are promising, talented, passionate, and little known.

My story, Welcome Home, has been included in this fine anthology for your dark, sick, twisted pleasure.

If interested (you should be), you may purchase this book, America’s Emerging Horror Writers: Midwest Region, on Amazon, here.

If you end up purchasing, enjoy! In the meantime, I’m working on a new story that is sure to scare your pants off (if you happen to be wearing any).

your friend,

Tylor J. Mintz

 

The Senseless Dance of the Sophisticated Barbarian (Ponderings)

I write a page every day – that is my little writing quota. Here is my pages for today. Enjoy!

I am a man whom lives and dances senselessly on a tiny, water-blue dust mode. If you are reading this, chances are you are too. If not, what planet do you hail from? Either way, the dance goes on. And on. And on.

***

An educated human being is little more than a sophisticated barbarian. In comparison to the sheer immensity of the unknown universe, it is all that we can aspire to be.

We wear top hats, construct rockets & drive cars.

Meanwhile we wait for the planet to swallow us up.

***

The chief enemy to a closed mind is skepticism;

A skepticism toward the claims which bind a mind shut.

The chief enemy to an open mind is cynicism;

A cynicism which has ready-made conclusions without hard evidence.

***

Specialization seems integral to academic careers and the overall organization of professions. For example, one initially studies the broad subject of physics in order to become more specifically trained as an astrophysicist or a quantum physicist. One studies biology in order to become trained as a medical doctor or an evolutionary biologist. One studies painting in order to become a painter herself, or an art historian.

Artists, however, seem to escape specialization quite often. A painter may direct a film and call it “a moving painting”. A poet may write a novel of fine prose. A sculptor may decide instead to draw politically motivated cartoons.

This is yet another reason I admire artists and aspire to remain one. They can bend the rules — even break them, sometimes. Not only can they bend and break rules, but they’re often encouraged to do so, as if it is the artist’s job to corrupt convention as much as it is to create beauty.

How is that for a job description? Imaging telling that to someone you just met at a party.

“What do you do for a living?” she asks.

“Well, I corrupt convention and create beauty,” you reply.

Artists whom are not specialized to one particular medium simply apply a label to their work.

That label is, “Mixed Media”.

A Continuation of “Locked Out of Caffeine Purgatory”.

Not that it is completely necessary, but if you’d like to check out the beginning of this story, here it is. 

Locked Out of Caffeine Purgatory II

I phone in at 8:30AM. Manager Jimmy picks up the phone.

“New Richmond’s Caffeine Purgatory,” he said.

“Hi there, Jimmy. You want some help down there?”

“Yes, PLEASE.”

“Sure,” I said. “I’ll be down as soon as I can. I was there at 5 this morning, nobody was there and I don’t have the keys.”

“Yeah, well, I’ll show you how to get in when you get here.”

“Alright. See you in a bit.”

I hang up the phone, put on my shoes, and drive over to Caffeine Purgatory. I park in the front lot, making my way down the sidewalk past Uncle Uglie’s Sandwich Shop. The cruel January wind cuts me to the bone. I enter my place of employment feeling like a god damned icicle. Karly is there behind the espresso machine, looking up at me as I walk by.

“I’m so sorry!” she says.

“It’s alright,” I say.

Jimmy is behind the counter working on fixing the coffee grinder. He is there with his ball cap pulled low atop his head, his hands covered in grounds and his lips pursed. He is concentrating. I take off my corduroy coat and stuff it into the little locker in back. I put the Purgatorial Head-trap on so I can take drive-thru orders. I walk out to the front bar. Karly smiles. I smile back.

“Again, I’m so sorry,” she says. “It seems like this always happens with I’m working with you.”

“Don’t worry,” I reply. “It’s Martin Luther King Day. There are plenty of businesses not opening until 10 or 11 this morning. We’re not the only one.”

“Good point,” she says.

A gruff voice bursts through the Head-trap, alongside the obnoxious rumbling of a diesel truck.

“HI, I’LL TAKE A LARGE EXTRA HOT CHAI LATTE.”

I steam the milk and chai together in one pitcher, up to 160 degrees. Then I cap it and hand it to the man at the window. His proportions are immense, with a belly nearly touching the steering wheel. All four of his chins stare at me as I hand him his Chai.

“Thank you,” the chins say.

“You’re welcome, Sirs,” I reply.

 

“Okay,” says Jimmy. “I’m going to show you how to get in for next time.”

He leads me over to the front door. He shows me.

“Ah,” I say. “I did not know that was the procedure.”

He nods. “Probably because nobody ever told ya!”

“Nope! Not to my knowledge, anyway.”

“Well, now you know.”

I am slicing up turkey and ham for sandwich meat when Penelope calls. Jimmy answers the phone. Penelope can’t come in today due to a conflict in scheduling. Would someone be able to cover her shift for her?

“I hope so,” said Jimmy. “Let me ask quick.”

Damn it! He’s going to ask me to stay.

“Can you stay until four?” asks Jimmy.

“Yeah,” I said. “I can do that for Penelope.”

He put the phone back to his ear.

“Yeah, he’ll stay. Yeah, really. Alright. But tomorrow, Penelope, you’re going to be here come rain or shine! Alright?”

He hung up the phone.

“Geez,” said Jimmy, shaking his head. “She’s such an airhead sometimes. Thanks for helping out. ”

I nod and get back to slicing meat. Soon Bella comes through the door, shivering with cold. Karly collects her tips, says she’s sorry for the hundredth time and goes home.

“Hi, Bella,” I say.

“Hi!” she says, still shivering.

Bella and I get along just fine. We make the coffees, lattes and sandwiches until 4PM. Then we head out back into the frigid air for home sweet home.

 

***

Locked Out of Caffeine Purgatory (Short Story/journal entry)

1/21/18 — Everyday I commit myself to write just one page. Here’s my page for today. Enjoy!

5AM — Sitting in my warm car on another frigid January day in the backlot of Caffeine Purgatory. Karly, my fellow co-barista with the keys, has not shown up to open the coffee house with me. An hour passes and I spend it like I did on New Year’s Morning when she didn’t show. I read a book and try not to fall asleep. Today I am reading The Outsider by Colin Wilson.

An occasional car runs through the drive thru. I can see their disappointed faces by the light of their dashboards. At 6:10AM, I decide enough is enough and pull out of the backlot. I drive down the road to Kwick Trip, buy myself a cup of black Colombian coffee and a chicken sandwich. I return to my warm car, turn up the radio, and eat the sandwich. It has a sourdough bun which has hardened far beyond its expiration beneath the heat lamps. The chicken itself is a limp, thin disk of lukewarm meat. I shrug and eat it anyway.

I turn up the stereo, feeling good vibes listening to Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. I drive once more over to Caffeine Purgatory. A few customer cars are parked in the front lot, but the shop is dark as a mine. Karly is clearly nowhere to be found. I shrug and drive back home and begin to type this out. I routinely pick up the phone and call the store to see if my co-worker has arrived. 6:50AM and no luck yet.

Hold it. Wait a minute while I pick up the phone and try again. You know I’ll let you know.

….Nope.

My dial was met by an eternal ringing, like a question echoed into the black void of space. What now? I’ll tell you: I’ll sit here in the office chair, sip some competitor coffee (Karuba), and I’ll write – just for you, dear reader.

Last night was the night of the blood moon. I saw the moon last night. It was full, bright, and pale, but it wasn’t so bloody. My girlfriend complained of stomach pains and I sat up and read for a while. Soon we were both tired and fell into the oblivion of sleep. I had many strange dreams, all of them negative.

I dreamed my girlfriend and I were separated, cold and distant. I reached out to stroke her body and my fingers treaded empty space instead. Then there was the dream about the snake. Just like Indiana Jones, I hate snakes.

I was back to living in my very first apartment on Highview Drive. Someone had found a sizeable python slithering beneath the couch. She picked it up and the python hissed, snatching aggressively at the air. The woman, fat and pale like the moon, approached me with the snake striking out in her hands. Somehow the snake was not interested at all in biting her, just me. I jumped up and down, squealed like a girl, did the pee-pee dance. All to no avail. My crazed movements only made the snake more aggressive in its strikes. I began to imagine what would happen if she let go of its tail and let it do as it pleased.

Then she grinned and let it go. The snake chased me all around the living room, in through the kitchen, back into the living room, and down the hallway. I ran into my old bedroom, slammed the door behind me, and locked it.

Some fellow roommates began to kick in the door. It wasn’t long before the door was bursting off its hinges, and in came the damned snake. I looked down at its beady black eyes and its long, thick primordial figure. It aimed back its head in pre-strike pose and hisssssssssed, its vile fangs exposed. Then it struck at me violently. The propulsion of its long, virile body shot itself through the air and up into my arms. The snake slid and swiveled up around my shoulders and neck, wrapping me up in a coil of fear and evil. Literally face to face with it now, with its body coiled around my head, it aimed back with fangs dripping saliva, its eyes staring into my own, swallowing me. The creature filled the room with a horrible hisssssssssss…

I awoke with my body caked in sweat. I reached over and grabbed my cool glass of water and drank. The alarm went off for work. A night of terrors and now for a day at Caffeine Purgatory. I got up, showered, dressed, tried not to wake the sleeping girlfriend. I drove to work and sat reading in the backlot, as you know, and here we are, dear reader. We’ve come full circle.

It is 7:15AM and the first rays of sun are breaking out over the horizon. I am reaching over once more for the phone to see if Karly is in. You know I’ll let you know. I dial the number…

…..Nope!

I imagine Karly is still in bed, past out from a long night of partying. I hate to think it, but perhaps some terrible accident has happened. Perhaps she is dead. I guess I’ll just have to sit here, sip coffee and write some more. I’ll write just for you.

***

As Artists…

The following is a piece written specifically for my column, The Artist’s Corner, featured in the New Richmond News.

As Artists…

As artists, we must always have ‘yes’ in our hearts. That is the only way we may behold the world with a sufficient depth of vision. It is this vision of the world which translates best onto paper, canvas, film, or stage. If our eyes are shut and we are blind to the world, then our creative work, too, will be blind. An artist is most productive when she views life with an attitude of receptivity and openness.

This isn’t to say an artist must say ‘yes’ all the time to everything. Artists must also be capable of saying a firm ‘no’ a lot of the time, too. We must say no to close-mindedness, no to destruction, and no to convention. These things – close mindedness, destruction and convention – are not the elements which make an artist. They are the elements which make monsters. As artists, we must champion open mindedness, creation, and beauty.

All creative works are composites of form. Form is synonymous with beauty. Out of the chaos of our minds, we construct forms of beauty. As artists, we must accept chaos as an essential ingredient for all true, creative work. It is chaos which makes us human and not machines. It is chaos which makes art possible. We must accept chaos whether or not chaos accepts us.

As artists, we must practice acceptance. We must accept that it is okay to be afraid of not creating something wonderful or powerful. It is okay to be afraid of writers or painter’s block. It is okay to be afraid of not being productive or inspired. We must accept our fears and get down to work regardless!

If you are a writer, try accepting the idea of not coming up with any interesting stories. Give yourself permission to write complete junk. Then apply pen to paper and simply write. You may write about anything, so long as you are writing. That the practice is continued is the most important thing. If you are a painter, accept the idea that this painting might not be your masterpiece. Give yourself permission to play, to goof around. Sever all expectations about your work and don’t quit. You might be surprised when your playing around turns into something fantastic. Even if it doesn’t turn into something fantastic, you will have had no expectation that it should.

As artists, we must find our own place. A painter must have a place for his easel, a writer must have place to sit, and a musician must have a place to practice. Quiet solitude suits many artists just fine while they are working. Other artists like to work in noisy, crowded environments because they find it stimulating. As artists, it is of necessity that we find out what works best for us.

As artists, we must never quit. We must always continue on with our art. The health and livelihood of our very being depends upon it. As artists, we should never pretend not to be artists. We were born to create and we have to respect that. As artists, we should give ourselves time and permission to do what we were born to do…

Dear reader, I want to thank you for reading this week’s column! I will now sign off with our creative quotation for the week, this one from the writer, Mary Oliver: “The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.

A Good Night for a Writer

I commit myself to writing just one page every day. Here is my page for today.

 

1/18/18

I watch from the bed as Tessandra dives into her tight, jean leggings, puts on her grey long-sleeve, and her blue thermo-jacket. There is something about a woman leaving that only makes a man long for her all the more. Especially when they are leaving as super models, all dressed up.

Of course, Tessandra doesn’t need to dress up in order to be gorgeous. Her very being is gorgeous. I can see that clear as day, every day, even when her hair is a mess and she’s in pajamas. Sometimes I find her even more beautiful when she is in PJ’s, in fact. Her naturalness, the freckles upon her cheeks, the naked ankle and feet, her breasts round and pert beneath the long shirt…it stirs within me a desire which all men (and simultaneously, none) can attest to. Ah, but Tessandra is going out for fine dinner with friends, and I am to stay home sick with a cold.

I am on the mend, thankfully. My nose is no longer running like a leaking faucet and my voice doesn’t sounds like glue and sandpaper anymore. I sit writing at the office desk with a cup of black coffee, listening to a groovy Herbie Hancock album. The dog is by my feet, providing me with company. This dog gives me contradictory feelings, sometimes. A part of me wants to reach down and pet her. She is so cute with her beady eyes looking up at me. Another part wants to kick her aside, as if she were in my hair. I don’t know why.

First rejection email from a literary agent came in today. One would think I might be bitter about that, but in fact, I am feeling quite the opposite. I feel encouraged, blessed, even, by this rejection. It is as if life were edging me on, saying, “Game on, you scribbling bastard you!”

Game on indeed. It seems life has met its match. It is an uphill battle…for life. I stand atop the hill, punching the keys like a madman with his tongue half sticking out, blowing raspberries. This is all fun and games, an absolute riot, don’t you see? I am doing what I love. Whether what I love is accepted or rejected a hundred times makes no difference. I am a fool consumed by bliss. I am an incorrigible creative machine. I am a decadent angel blessed with paper wings flying toward heaven — Hell, I am a writer, baby.

I have to take a break from typing this page in order to slam my fists upon the desk. I am euphoric, joyful, content and going nowhere! I have scared off the dog, who has ambled away to more peaceful corners of this house. This delightful, wretched little house, which is home to a maniacal powerhouse of literary pretension – a man with delusions of grandeur, in short. Yet it matters little – my paper wings are indestructible and as thick as a phone book. They shalt not tear.

I want to thank Miss Alvarez for her kindly refusal to represent my book. She truly does seem like a gentle soul, and although she rejected my book, she has encouraged me to search elsewhere. And search I shall, ‘till the end of my mental tether, if need be!

Consider all of this ranting as on omission of my insanity. I am, after all, not just any average bastard with delusions of normality. I am an artist following his obsessions – this is to say, I am following my dreams. Life is a phantasmagoria of delectable heavens! I shall pursue them ‘till the ends of the Earth, knowing full well the earth is round. Smile, baby. The muse is bright tonight, and I am gazing down high, impeccable mountains.

Reflections on the Past, Future & the Magic of Writing in the Present.

Everyday, I commit myself to writing just one page. Here is my page for today.

1/16/18
I woke up this morning with my nose congested and mucus running in a delightful little stream in the back of my throat. I slept in another hour and a half. Usually I am writing by 6:45AM, trying to squeeze in the hours before leaving for the day job. Ah, well.

Good news. My book, The Existential Coffee Companion, is now a complete and edited manuscript. Spent all of yesterday polishing it up and sending out the first query letters to literary agents and publishing houses. What may come of it, I do not know. But I am hoping it will be something great. It is a fine little book. Highly entertaining and unique. I would be amiss if this book were never given exposure outside the confines of this house. At the very least, if I cannot get an agent to represent it, or a publishing house to publish it – then I will self-publish. No matter what, it is a won game.

I attended the Willow River Writers meeting yesterday. Nine members showed up, so it was a nearly full table. I brought in my short story, Johnny Bad Apple, and was given corrections on my typos and suggestions on how to better some of the details. The story was well received by the group. Kathy gasped at the dramatic ending – either that or she burnt her mouth on her coffee, but I prefer to think the former. I have polished this story up and sent it in to Z Publishing House for their upcoming “Emerging Wisconsin Writers: Fiction Anthology”. If they use the story, or the other one I sent them (a horror story, Welcome Home), I will then become an author to be featured in both of their Fiction and Non-Fiction anthologies. Pretty cool.

The dream of being a full-time writer, of making a living off of the written word, is still a long way off, it seems. But it will come. It may come next year. It may come ten years from now. But it will come. The world may be dull and obtuse, but I’ll still be plugging away. I have faith in myself. What else would I be doing otherwise? One would hate to speculate.

Without the writing, I would probably still be busy playing guitar in mostly vacant bars and being hollered at by drunkards. I’d be standing there in the corner, fretting over whether I was pulling off the songs or not. Then I’d be asking, why does it matter? Lifting my feet up continuously so not to get glued to the sticky barroom floor. Now for a John Prine song. Now for a Dylan song. Now for an original song. Oh, no, no, no. My two years of performing was okay, sometimes it was even great, but I’m far gone and done with that shit now.

When one is an artist, all mediums open up. I still pick up the guitar, sometimes. I still play a bit of harp and sing, too. I also do a bit of painting now and then. But what I truly love doing these days is to write. When I write, I am god of my world and my only limitation is my own imagination. Whatever I say, goes. In writing, there is no authority.

Writing is also a meditation. It is a way to completely lose your Self for a while. When you totally immerse yourself in your art, you will transcend your Self. And when the work is done, you will look back at it and perhaps discover something a bit about your Self which you weren’t previously aware of. This is merely one of the many beautiful aspects about creating art.

Proverbs: Liars, Writers, Death & Fashionable Nonsense.

My girlfriend tells me that I have no fashion sense. Which isn’t quite the truth. The truth is that what I have is fashionable nonsense. Two socks of different colors don’t necessary equal a wrong if it’s done on purpose, y’know?

*

Compulsive liars also happen to be very creative people. Hence the reason why they are always “making stuff up”.

*

At times, I am overcome with the sensation that I am a clown of the universe. Others just nod their head and agree.

*

Death may be considered the final transcendence – the transcendence of consciousness itself. Death is an ultimate union with the nothing.

*

For writers, there is great value to be found in reading both fiction and non-fiction books. While reading fiction, one may pick up on elements of style, character development, and how to unravel a story. While reading non-fiction, such as a science or history book, one is consuming objective information, which in turn initiates personal reflection. These reflections will create images and sensations within the mind which may later be utilized in one’s own writing.

*

Life seems far more tangible if one can make an art out of it. Hence why, for me, writing about my life is a way of concretizing my experiences.

*

The self seems necessary for transcendence. For what could ever be transcended without something to transcend? Herein lies the value of the Self, the source of all our suffering.

*

Our greatest addiction is thought itself. Just try not thinking about it.

*

I walk down the booming street with cars zooming to and fro and everyone in a hustle and hurry with a place to go while really going nowhere at all. Everyone is in constant motion while living out their lives in a deathly stand-still. I have no doubt that this culture is a symptomatic sickness, a neurosis — a psychosis, perhaps. Yes. I am sure of it. We are a society of insane patients, living out meaningless, senseless, and idiotic lives. We spend our weeks chained to self-imposed obligations, choked on caffeine. We spend our weekends in brief respite, pretending to be free. All the while we forebode the future, numbing ourselves with liquor, television, and drugs. We do it all in the name of God, country and family. Is there ever an end to this madness? Are we but prisoners condemned by the judge of ourselves?

Clink your bones, baby. We are a mass graveyard dance!

An Early Morning at Caffeine Purgatory (Short-story)

Every day, I commit myself to writing just one page. Here is my page+ for today. Enjoy!

the following is a narrative of fiction.

Today the sky is dismal and grey. It is not too cold for mid-January, at least. The trees are barren and roads are still and quiet. It all makes me want to collapse into my bed and sleep. I awoke at four this morning. I yawned, stretched, groaned, and rubbed by puffy eyes until they were raw. Then I clothed myself, tripping once onto the floor as I tried to put pants on. Kimberly laid in the warm bed and groaned at all the noise I was making.

I splashed cold water over my face, tamed my crazed, spikey hair down into something more conservative. Then I walked into the kitchen and grabbed an energy drink from the refrigerator. I pounded that sucker and poured myself a cup of coffee. Christ, am I tired. Please. You work at a coffee shop. What do you have to complain about? It isn’t hard work. It’s just tedious, sometimes.

Kimberly and Annie are staying home sick today. I kiss them goodbye, leave a little post-it note on the fridge for them when they awake at a more sane hour.

I pull into the parking lot of Caffeine Purgatory, making my way through the back entrance, into the darkly lit kitchen. I shove my coat into a steel locker, grab a headset off the shelf, and place it upon my head. The headset is what you use to communicate with customers in the drive-thru. I hate wearing these damn things. Every time an intelligent thought drifts into my mind, my ears are bombarded by loud beeping and customers shouting their orders. It reminds me of the head contraptions citizens of the future are forced to wear in the Kurt Vonnegut story, Harrison Bergeron.

I open the store with my co-worker, Kellie, whom is fresh out of high school. It’s a slow morning, which I like. Not too many people shouting at me at 5AM over the headset. I even have time to read a book for a while. Soon the daylight begins peak over the horizon. All the retired men, our loyal, early morning regulars, begin trickling in. They’re ordering black coffees and breakfast wraps. Kellie gets the coffees for them and I make the wraps.

I don’t mind making wraps. They’re easy. Slap a pre-made egg souffle into a pan, cut up whatever meat and vegetables they want in there – and the old men always want a hell of a lot of stuff in their wraps. All of the stuff, and for as cheap a price as possible. I had one of them haggle me over tomatoes once.

“Not enough tomatoes in my wrap!” he says.

“Alright, you ancient bastard,” I smile.

I add some more diced tomatoes, fold the tortilla back up nice and neat, heat it up one more time, then serve it to him.

“Thank you,” he says, sternly.

“You’re welcome, you decrepit old senile,” I say.

He nods once and goes about his breakfast, laughing at some dirty jokes with his buddies.

Ten o’ clock rolls around and I am relieved because I only have an hour left of my shift. Then I can go home and write. Not too shabby. A man orders a sugar-free hazelnut latte made with skim milk. I take his cash in the drive-thru. I say, “Thank you, Sir,” and he says nothing, only gazes at me tight-lipped and stern, with piercing blue eyes. I hand him his change. He sets the change on the metal counter between the tiny windows. I walk over to the bar to make his drink.

I pull the espresso shots, then go hunting for the sugar-free hazelnut bottle. I find the Hazelnut, but none that’s sugar-free. I’m looking high and low and can’t find it. I get the feeling the man is studying me through the window. Ah, hell, I say. He’s going to have to settle for the regular stuff. I add the Hazelnut, the espresso, then I steam the milk, pour it into his cup, and cap it. I hand him his beverage and he squints his steel blue eyes.

“This sugar-free? I’m diabetic.”

I look back hesitantly over my shoulder, over at the dozens of syrup bottles, as if seeking a verbal encouragement. I realize they’re only inanimate objects, and therefore, no help.

“Ah, well, no, Sir. We’re all out of sugar-free Hazelnut. That’s just regular Hazelnut in there.”

A great frown of dismay befalls his face. He hands me the drink back and stares straight ahead at the road.

“Fine then,” he says, vacantly. “Keep the money. I’m going.”

It is as if the man has lost all hope.

“I can make you a new one with a different sugar-free flavoring,” I offer.

He stares at me with the expression of a father disowning his only son.

“Got sugar-free Vanilla?” he asks.

“Sure,” I say. “Or we can do sugar-free almond.”

“Almond then.”

“Okay. I apologize, Sir.”

I go back and make him another drink. I pull the shots, steam the milk, add the flavoring, cap it, and hand it over.

“Just a little education for you guys,” he says, putting his car into gear. “Being diabetic, if I had taken that drink, I would have had some serious health problems.”

He peals out of the drive-thru.

An intense sense of guilt pervades. What if I had handed the man the drink and let him go? Would he have died? Would he have gotten half-way through, spit up foam, and croaked? It all seemed so absurd, but a possibility, no less…

I thought of me looking back over my shoulder at the syrup bottles. I shook my head.

Am I truly less than a good man? In that moment, yes, I was. I thought I had grown past this. I thought I had matured beyond such cowardliness.

I decide to take it easy on myself. After all, yes, of course I am a man. And men, good men and bad men alike, will make mistakes. There is no way around that. The tortured world shows it plain as day, every day. The cruelty of man prevails, but redemption becomes possible after conscience intervenes and we at least try to make things better the next time around.

***

I counted up my tips and I went home and snuggled up to Kimberly, sick with the flu. Annie remained on the downstairs bed, with her toy horses and her own TV. Kimberly and I laid on the couch, watching an Indiana Jones movie. Occasionally I would pet her head and massage her shoulders. Soon I fell into a deep sleep beside her. I dreamed of purple doors with Aztec faces on them. I dreamed of great, mighty fires raging in whirlwinds inside my skull. I opened one of the purple doors and slipped off into the immaculate blackness behind it. The door closed. My fate, sealed. I awoke coughing with a sore throat and my nose running. Damn.

Just One Page Per Day…

As a writer whom desires to become better at his craft, I have decided on a new rule for this year: Write one page per day, no matter what. Even if I really don’t want to write, I commit myself to just one page. It’s very interesting where words can take you. You can sit down, think about one thing, then write a whole page about something else entirely. The inner world is vast and merely waiting to be explored. Yesterday I wrote the following sentence: “I describe myself as deranged, creative, and carnivorous.” That sentence turned into a three page short story about a young rock star struggling with fame. You just never know where one thing will lead.

Here is my page for today, 1/5/19:

The sun rises above the sleepy town, the shopping centers, the gas stations, the plain ocher fields, as the world turns, turns. I am sitting, back erect, in an office chair, writing about the rising sun. I don’t really want to write, but I force myself to sit, to concentrate, to try. It is almost mechanical, my fingers punching the keys. I am part writer, part machine. I take in the whole house as I write. The dog running around behind me. The sun beam shining through the window, making shadows upon face, arms, and hands. My woman wet and soapy in the bath. A part of me wants to strip naked and make love to her in there, with the soapy water splashing madly about the tub sides. But no, I am here, now, writing. Why do I do it? Because I am a writer, damn it. This is what I do. This is who I am.

I write about my obsessions. I am obsessed with the naked beauty of emotion and the body. I am obsessed with cursing at the fucking dog for continually running to the back door mat to be let out, even though I had just let her out, then back, then out, then back in again. I am obsessed with the rising sun, whose rising I know is merely an illusion. The sun never rises, it stands still as a Buddha. It is merely us, revolving for near eternity within the cold vacuum of space located somewhere in the Milky Way galaxy. I’m zooming out of my life: Earth orbits the bright, brilliant, average star. In between the holy sun and ourselves is Mercury and Venus, two inhospitable homes of seething heat. Beyond us, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, then the asteroid belt, then everything, everything.

Memories of being a little boy, being forced to memorize my address and phone number in Kindergarten school. They never thought to teach us our cosmic address: Planet Earth, third planet from the Sun, two-thirds away from Galactic Center of Milky Way. The universe is open and vast, just like the writer, just like me. Stars burn inside my brain, leaping wild and dancing across my sky of synapses. They burn in by buzzed brain, they burn in the oven of my heart, which bakes the stars, and leaves elemental cookies for a pantheon of hungry, evil Gods.

They burn until supernova, baby! I want to let it out. I want to let it pour, these stars within, now a white-hot lava into the chalice of the blank page. I want to wipe out petty villages, squander the resources of poor working farmers, start another war and have any survivors left pay for it with their money and their children’s bodies. Why not? Cruelty in broad brush strokes. If I were a painter I would be Jackson Pollock. Let those vibrant colors splitter and splatter upon the canvas, son! Let it fly! Whoop, whoop!

To write is to compose cosmic funerals. Explosions of mind, white hot smoldering lava, into the flood of the external universe. A writer’s agony becomes the reader’s agony. I want to do the Dukkha Dance, baby, with you, as I am vomiting out quasars, quarks, and anti-particles.

Alright, now, settle down! Grab another cup of coffee. Yell at the dog some more. Think about your girlfriend, wet, naked, soapy, oh yes. Put me in a suit of fine clothes. Set a high-top Stetson hat upon my head. Gold watch chains around my neck. Bury me with my garb and my many thousands of pages of writing. He was maniacal! He was insane. He was a writer, did you hear? He was a musician. He painted too, but none of it mattered. He liked it when the sun rose and the dog whined and when his girlfriend got naked. What do you think he likes now?

Dear God, let this man be graciously allowed into the Kingdom of Heaven, even though he spoke very poorly against it. Dear God, let the molten white lava of his stars become solidified into a marvelous, golden planet fit for creative souls. Dear God, do not let his stars become cool, safe milk. Dear God, why do you only answer with immaculate echoes of silence!