Monthly Archives: April 2011

Breaking News

Week six of my participation in the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. My challenge this week comes from Tobie, the challenge:

How did you get invited to the Royal Wedding (William & Kate)?

I am going to be bluntly honest, I couldn’t give less of a fuck about the Royal Wedding. My work this week basically reflects that fact, as kind of a rant.  Though I will say that I took a lighthearted approach to it, and writing it ended up being a lot of fun.

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So you want to get invited to the Wedding Extravaganza Event of the Century™, but you are neither rich nor famous? It’s really not all that hard to do, and I shall tell you how. It’s really about two simple words: media exploitation. Study those words, learn them, love them, live them, for they are the key to getting into the Royal Wedding™.

Here’s the thing, for whatever reason people seem to really care that two people they have never met are having a ceremony that will have no effect on them at all. Ever. That means that every single media outlet out there is going to be covering the bajeezus out of this Event. As a matter of fact, CNN is sending twice as many journalists and photographers to the Royal Wedding™ than they have sent to Libya or Japan. And you are going to take advantage of this fact.

What you need to do is simple: London is going to be a chaotic shitstorm of activity this week, and I guarantee that you are going to run into some reporter or photographer at some point. And they will most likely be stressed and frazzled with minute by minute scoops about the Royal Wedding™. Maybe they got a scoop on the guest list, or maybe they found out who is making the cake. You know, serious stuff. Anyways the point is that they will be seriously seriously distracted by important breaking news. All you need to do is steal their press pass.

Honestly, that’s it. More than likely it will only say “Press Pass – Sky News” or something, though I can already hear you asking, “but what if they have a picture?” Easy, you just need a wallet sized photo and a laminating machine. And this goes without saying, but make sure you steal the pass of someone insignificant, if names are on the pass then you sure as hell can’t steal Katie Courics or whatever (I assume she is going to be there, it IS the biggest story of the year, after all).

On the day of the Royal Wedding™ make sure to arrive early, but not too early. Don’t be the first ‘journalist’ to arrive, but you sure as hell can’t be the last. Both could cause suspicion. Also, remember to bring either a professional camera or if you’re too cheap for that (which let’s face it, you are) just bring a writing pad and a utensil to write with. I would highly suggest you wear a fedora to put your press pass on, because you ARE a ‘journalist’ after all. At least for the purposes for this Event, and you gotta play they role seriously.

Oh, and on second thought, the camera would probably be a fantastic investment. Funny story, and this is true, you know those trashy celebrity gossip magazines? Well they are paying upwards of $100,000 for candid photos of What’s-Her-Face. The Bride, or whatever. Hide in the bushes and get a few photos of her in her bridal underwear and you could make some serious bank.

And once the wedding has completed you can leave that night knowing that you managed to con your way into the Biggest Most Awesome Media Event Blitzkrieg Ever™. Did it amount to anything? Did you experience something special? Is your life changed forever? Will you be able to join the rest of us proletariat down here in the real world again, because I mean, you were at the Wedding. You were at the center of the world for a day, though if you ask me, the center seems more like the eye of a storm. Empty, with everything else happening in the periphery.

By, the way, I do charge for giving out this valuable advice. I accept cash, checks (made out to ‘Cash’), all major credit cards and Pay-Pal. And if you do manage to get that Bridal Panty shot, I am also entitled to a 15% service fee.

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Shattered Glass

Another week, another challenge for the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. I believe this is my fifth week. I’m working on other stuff, I swear. My challenge this week comes from Leah, who wanted me to:

Pick a moment in your childhood that you think you could’ve parented better

 and rewrite the moment as if you were the parent.

This was an incredibly difficult challenge for me to do, for both personal and logistical reasons. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to rewrite the moment exactly as it happened, but from the parent’s point of view, or if I was supposed to write the moment as I thought it should have happened. In the end I sorta compromised between the two. As for the story itself, I found myself less interested in the moment itself and more with the thought process that led to the decisions that led to the moment. In that spirit, I ended up writing it as a stream-of-consciousness piece, and a short one at that.

I hope you enjoy!

(You can read the response to my challenge by Wendryn here.)

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Five years sober. Five years sober and now she pulls this shit again, drunk dialing me half a bottle into some shitty vodka. Where did she get it anyway? I mean I drink, sure, but never hard liquor. She actually took the time out to get the damn vodka. God dammit, and the last time she pulled this crap off she tried to drive off with the car. Yeah, that’s the last thing I need right now, I’ve still got four more cars to paint and they’re all expecting pick-up tomorrow but something needs to be done about her, a grown woman who needs babysitting. What about M—-? Yeah, I’m gonna let my fourteen year old daughter babysit her drunk mother besides I think she’s at some friends house anyways. A—–? Jesus, when’s the last time we’ve even heard from him, I suppose I could try calling him . . . Just what I figured, he didn’t even bother answering that’s just great. Oh wait what about T—– he could do it he’s probably home right now and hey it’ll get him out of his damn room for once it’s sad his mother is hitting the bottle again just twenty feet away and he has no idea, he should be the one to watch her. Oh, but that’s right, the last time something like this happened he ended up cleaning her blood up from around the house as I took her to the hospital christ that was a great moment as a father, how old was he then, maybe eleven at the most and it’s not like I told him to do that I thought he was asleep but he must’ve heard her fall into the glass the fact he cleaned it up on his own makes it so much worse for some reason. I really hate to have to do this to him again, but hey he’s an adult now he should be able to handle it besides there is no one else who could help her and she needs help. I suppose I could leave early but I have a responsibility here too and I know I’ll never hear the end of it if a bunch of cars that need to be done aren’t but this should count as what do you call it extenuating circumstances probably and it’s not like I even want to leave hell I’d much rather not have to deal with this bullshit but I don’t want to subject my son to it either, but he should be fine he won’t like it that’s for sure but who would? I don’t know I just don’t know.


The Sky is Blue

This is my fourth week in the Indie Ink Writing Challenge, and my challenge this time comes from Miss Ash Tuesday. The challenge:

tell me a story of a stranger you see out in public.

I want to know all about their thoughts, motivations, and place in life.

I can guarantee that the way I approached this piece was completely different from what Miss Tuesday had in mind, but hey, that’s the point of the challenge. To see what people do with your ideas. When I first read this challenge I was immediately reminded of David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon College Speech (Part 2) about attempting to change your perspectives in regards to tedium and other people. It was the basis of my response and I highly recommend you listen to it.

Enjoy!

(Also, you can read Random Girl’s response to my challenge here.)

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Here is a common philosophical examination in terms of the function of language; take the statement “The sky is blue.” Look out the window and you know the statement to be true (assuming it’s not overcast or raining or night or whatever, bare with me on this). But now, here is where the philosophical problems begin to arise: How do we know what blue is?

What I mean is is that we’re all raised with a concept of the color of ‘blue.’ As children we are taught that blue is the color of the sky and of the oceans and it’s one of the three primary colors, etc. etc. Someone points out that “this here is blue” and you simply say “okay, now I know to associate this color with the name of blue.” But now, here’s the problem: how can you know that ‘blue’ looks the same to you as it does to me? Isn’t it possible that when we both look up at the same sky and come to our obvious agreement that “yes the sky is indeed blue,” we are actually, the two of us, looking at two completely different colors? Maybe what you see as being ‘blue’ is the color that I normally associate with ‘red’ or whatever. Neither of us would be wrong, mind you, about the sky being ‘blue’, however, our visual interpretations of the concept of ‘blue’ could be different. How could we ever know, for sure, that when we both look up at the same sky we see the same thing?

I guarantee at least one person reading this has at these exact same thoughts at some point, probably while high.

The point that I’m trying to make here is that something everyone knows, deep down, but either can’t or won’t admit; that there is one, and exactly one perspective in which you can view the world and that is your own, because you can only see the world through your own eyes, your own version of ‘blue.’

A similar thought is the idea that if you are not looking at an object, how can you know that it exists?

We are, to ourselves, the complete and exact center of the Universe. Not in an egotistical way, or anything, I just mean that every event in which we are a part of takes place from our own perspective. Take some famous event, when you talk about it it is always from your point of view: “I was at work when JFK was assassinated” or “I was with my family when we landed on the Moon.” Or how about feelings? You can know for a fact that you are sad, happy, angry, horny, hungry or whatever, and you know how each of those feel to you. But you can never know how another human being feels. You can infer, of course, or guess. But even if you correctly deduce another persons current feelings, how can you know that that feeling is that same to them as it is to you? The sky is blue, after all.

It’s kind of sad, when you get into the nitty gritty and think about how alone you are. How impossible it can be to achieve true Empathy, to put yourself into someone’s shoes. Take this asshole who was behind me on the freeway the other day, on my way to work (see what I mean by having only one perspective, the cars are on the road while I’m on the way to work, around me). This asshole, in your typical fashion, was driving the most unnecessarily large pick-up truck. The kind of truck that looks so pristine that it’s obvious that the guy bought a gas guzzling truck for the sake of having a truck, rather than actually needing the flat bed for any decipherable reason. Anyways, the asshole is riding the back of my car because I’m not going fast enough, even though I’m already past the speed limit, flashing his lights at me and honking his fucking horn. Well, I wasn’t going to let him win, so I deliberately stayed in the same lane and slowed down about 5 mph. He passed me after about 7 miles, flipping me the bird, and I could then see him riding another car’s ass about 30 seconds later (he also had a Bush/Cheney bumper sticker, I noted, and I’m pretty sure he bought the truck after the last election). What an asshole, right?

From my universe, he’s a raging dickhead. But what about his universe?In that case I’m the dickhead. And you know what, his assessment is much more true. Because the truth of the matter is that he was driving his very pregnant wife to the hospital. Something was very very wrong with either the wife or the baby. She was in agonizing pain and bleeding a lot. The man in the truck was riding my ass because as far as he knew they could be in mortal danger, and waiting for an ambulance to get to their house would have wasted precious time.

Then there is me, intentionally slowing down and refusing to get out of the way. Did I fucking want his wife and unborn child to die, he was screaming at me. And finally, after about 7 agonizing miles, his wife screaming in pain and bleeding, he finally found an opportunity to get around the fuckwad trying to harm his family. Flipping the middle finger to the fuckwad was the least he could do.

After that there was this guy at work, who got into a screaming match with me when I wouldn’t except his coupon, because it wasn’t even a coupon that we accept. The guy screamed at me until he was red in the face, and finally left with his two kids in a huff. The truth is is that guy was divorced, and rarely got to spend time with his kids. He wanted to take them out for a day of fun, but fun tends to cost money and the alimony checks he had to keep sending were sucking him dry. He found some coupons and decided to use them, but the little shit at the counter refused to accept them. My god, the guy at the counter just kept rolling his eyes, while he was losing valuable time with his kids, whom he loved very much and wanted to be able to care for more than he was allowed to by the court of law.

And the REAL truth is that these situations were made up, by me. Not that these two situations didn’t happen to me the other day, but their backgrounds aren’t true. Nor are they false, for that matter. I have no way of knowing, how can I? But again, how can I be so sure that when people may become angry at me for reasons that seem totally stupid from my perspective, it isn’t totally reasonable and justified from their own?

The sky is blue, after all.


A Line Which Should Not Be Crossed (Unless You Want to Truly Live)

This is my third week in the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. And my challenge this week comes Runaway Sentence, who wants me to:

write a story about desperately wanting something that is very, very bad.

Actually, this is the second time that I’ve gotten a challenge from her (the first one is here). I was planning on writing a non-Indie Ink piece this for earlier week as well, but this challenge ended up consuming me. I almost want to to keep getting challenges from Runaway because they seem to help me produce some of my best writing.(In my opinion)

And as for this challenge, the focus for me became not so much what that very bad something was as to why someone would want it to happen.Bad things happen, but are they necessarily bad to the person who wants it?

Enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: I hesitate putting this disclaimer, but I figure it wouldn’t hurt. Parts of this are kinda graphic; sex and violence sort of thing. Also the story is a bit on the long side.

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There are lines, everyone has them. These are the lines that define what your limits are. That point in which you will go no further. There’s a line for everything; for sex and depravity, for booze and drugs, for pain, for boredom and loneliness. These lines are what define you, they are the boundaries of who you are, of what you can do.

As Don Tate awoke from a pile of his own piss and vomit he was thinking about this fact. Well, that and the origin of the piss and vomit. He assumed that he was the origin, though in all honesty there was no way for him to be entirely sure.

Strewn about him was about half a dozen bottles of Jameson Whiskey, bought just the previous day. The vomit, having been expelled hours prior, had solidified into a gelatinous blob, a yellow-ish color with half digested chunks of pepperoni pizza in it. Imprinted in the vomit was a negative image of the right side of Don’s face, looking like a Roman would on a coin. His face was the same yellow-ish color as the blob, the vomit had also solidified in his right ear, plugging it and making the world around Don sound muffled in an otherworldly fashion.

Don’s current sad state was no accident. It wasn’t a house party or a night out with friends in which he simply lost control. No, the half a dozen bottles of whiskey were imbibed by no one other than Don himself and for very deliberate reasons. He would argue that it took far more control to continue drinking rather than to quit after, say, bottle two or three.

No, last night was a kind of experiment for Don Tate. It was the night in which he decided to find his line for alcohol consumption. To test his limit. To hit rock bottom in a new way.

It started about six months ago, Don’s experiment with hitting Bottom. He had just recently been dumped by his girlfriend of two years. She told him flatly that the reason she was leaving him was because he was too boring. That he never tried anything new or took any risks. After the standard period of self-loathing and depression and Who-Needs-Her-Anyways rants, Don began to go out and look for women.

He ended up meeting a girl, her name was Brenda. She approached him at the bar and a few hours later (and 11 or 12 drinks) Don found himself taking her back to his place. Long story short, they started fucking. And in the middle of coitus, Brenda began to scream at Don, not from passion but as a demand. She demanded that he start hitting her. She said she wanted bruises. She said to stop being a fucking pansy and fucking HIT HER!

Don didn’t know what to do. He had been with few women, and they had all been fairly conservative, sexually. A kinky session for Don usually involved simply a blowjob, and there he was now, inside of this girl who demanded that he assault her. He slapped her across the face. He did it gingerly and awkwardly. It was a light brush, really.

She screamed for him to do it harder, so he hit harder. She screamed for him to hit her harder, so he hit her harder. She screamed harder still, and Don slapped her in the face so hard that his hand stung from the force of it. And when that still wasn’t enough he kept hitting her. Brenda didn’t need to demand anything anymore. The way Don began to see it was that if the bitch wanted bruises, than dammit he was going to give her fucking bruises. His hand was on fire by the time he climaxed, at which point be apologized to her, with tears almost forming in his eyes.

“There’s no need for you to apologize,” she said, stroking Don’s hair as he laid on top of her, “you only did what I wanted you to. I’m into being dominated, it’s a huge turn on for me. I should be the one apologizing, I should have warned you. I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable.”

“That’s the thing, I was uncomfortable at first but by the end, I mean I liked it. I know I shouldn’t have liked hitting you but I did and I didn’t know I was capable of hitting a woman like that I should be ashamed of myself.”

“Hey hey hey, slow down there. We’re two consensual adults, there’s nothing, nothing to be ashamed of. And besides, you learned something about yourself tonight, didn’t you?”

“What?”

“See, you learned that you’re into domination, that you have a little depravity in you. That’s a truth about yourself that you’ve discovered. And you haven’t hit bottom, in your depravity, I think.”

“. . .”

“Listen, this was honestly really tame for me. If you really want to push your limits, see what your boundaries really are, let me know. I’ll show you some real kink.”

Don continued to see Brenda for three months, the two never meeting each other before 10pm. And each time they met, Don learned something new about himself: he learned that he is capable of having objects inserted into his rectum, that he is into asphyxiation, that’s he’s capable of urinating on someone (in a sexual manner, no less). Perhaps most important, he learned that he will not do anything involving defecation. Don Tate had found that line, his complete and utter rock bottom in sexual depravity. He discovered a Truth about himself, a boundary which was not tied up to any societal obligations, only to the Self, in the truest sense of the word.

He and Brenda went their separate ways after “the Logging Incident,” but Don became determined to find other lines in the sand, new Rock Bottoms. New Truths.

It was to be a journey of self-abuse and self-destruction as a means to self-discovery.

Don started to go to bars with the intention of getting into brutal fights. He wanted to test his limits in pain; how much he could take, as well as how much he could dish out. We all have a cruel streak in us, Don wanted to find out how cruel.

The test started when Don smashed an empty bottle on the head of a rather large biker dude. He knew he would lose, but that was the point. Blood flowing from his temple, the Biker Dude lifted Don up by the throat, attempting to crush the windpipe; Don grabbed another bottle, after which he was tossed onto a pool table. The Biker Dude proceeded to beat Don’s face into a bloody pulp, over and over and over again. When enough people managed to pull the berserking biker off, Don had two eyes swollen shut, three missing teeth, a tongue partially bit off, with lips that had holes torn in them from the remaining teeth. He spent a week in the hospital.

But he had endured, Don hadn’t begged for mercy; no, he took it all. Witnesses stated to the police that they only pulled the Biker Dude off of Don because of his reaction to the beating: despite the punches, despite the pain, Don had kept smiling and worse yet, he actually began to laugh, which was horribly disturbing to the witnesses; seeing this bloody pulp of a man not even try to get away but no, almost taunt the Biker Dude, who witnesses say became visibly disturbed and distressed himself as it appeared he only kept beating Don as a way to get him to stop with the creepy-ass smiling and creepier-still laughing.

And yet, Don felt guilty for harming the Biker Dude, who needed several stitches himself. Who was, in Don’s mind, undeserving of the pain. It was himself, after all, who started the fight, for no reason other than to get into a fight. He picked his target because this giant of a man was the person in the bar most obviously suited to cause excessive pain. Dishing out pain was something Don had discovered he had no taste for (except when requested in the bedroom, of course).

The next test that Don undertook was to find his line for loneliness, isolation and boredom. Ask someone in a repetitive, menial office job and they will probably tell you that Hell is not fire and brimstone, but a cubicle with nothing to do but sit and wait and no one to talk to.

What Don did was that he shut himself in an empty closet with nothing but his own thoughts to keep him company (there was a light in there, though). He allowed himself to get snacks as this was not some sort of hunger strike. He also kept a clock in the closet; part of boredom, Don felt, was the fact that you could see exactly how much time had passed and how slowly time seemed to be moving.

He found that the mind starts really hating you when enough time is spent without any sort of stimulation. After 12 hours, Don found himself laughing uncontrollably. He couldn’t stop and it became painful (his face was still healing). The pain gave some sort of stimulation for the brain, though, so that when the laughing subsided he began flicking sore spots on his face. It gave him some form of distraction.

After enough time, in Don’s case approx. 36 hours, you apparently begin to talk to yourself and not in the way people normally do, as in to remind themselves of something or as a means of motivation or whatever. No, this was a conversation between distinct personalities. Some joined in, while others would leave for a while and come back later, like they all had distinct lives with stuff to do. It was almost as if Don’s mind was creating a world for itself to interact in. After 25 hours of this imaginary world, Don realized he had found his Line and any longer would be a serious risk to his sanity. It was a new Truth and he was done with this test.

This brings us back to Don’s current test, among the piss and the vomit and the bottles. He felt weak, his body drained from the binge marathon of the previous day,

Don’s life had fallen apart, with his experiments. He was fired from his job, his family had disowned him and his friends abandoned him. His apartment, once full of furniture, was now an empty shell; the only thing remaining was a 16 inch television, the rest had been sold as a way to afford rent.

His loved ones, they kept telling him that he was likely going to kill himself with…whatever it was that he was doing. Which was entirely true, and Don knew it. But is it better to live a safe existence or to test yourself, to see what you are truly capable of; to hit Rock Bottom, to cross the Line and be able to say “yes, I have been to the edge and I have endured,” even though you may end up destroying yourself? Who is more alive anyways, the one in their comfort zone or the one near destruction? Who knows more about themselves?

Don is going to clean up the piss and the vomit and the bottles and then he is going to clean himself up and go and learn a new Truth. Or he was going to die trying.

And that was alright.