Monday, July 28, 2008

Your Daily Hiatus

I am David Hasslehoff struggling to eat an In-N-Out Burger.
I am Robert Downey Jr. in Less Than Zero begging yet again for money.
I am that guy who misses every recital and swears never to do it again, then finds himself racing through traffic trying not to miss the latest one.

Put it this way: I am an unreliable writer, constantly slugging from the bottle of Occasional Updates and saying "Guysh, guysh, just one more week, one more week guysh." Now, I haven't been spending my time boozing or smoking, I've been grinding out a living at a coffee shop, but when writing is supposed to be your Real Thing and you keep failing to do any, you clearly need to take some action.

My action is to halt this blog until I can update the Goddamn thing more than once a month. More than once a week. I may start a different blog, one that fits my schedule and abilities, or I may just quietly resume updating.

In the meantime, I'm gonna work out a real, grown-up schedule and stick to it. Once I know I can do that, I can go back to thirsting for attention on the internets.

Wish me luck, and see you around.

Friday, June 20, 2008


"So you're basically leaking."

"What? No. I'm bleeding."

"Which means you're leaking blood."


"Yes, yes, the blood--normally contained within your body, a mostly-sealed unit, is now leaking out of a hole in that unit."

"Because I was shot!"

"Because you were shot. You're leaking."

"You asshole."

"Hey, man, I'm not the one who refuses to acknowledge--"

"You colossal asshole! You total fuckup! This is why I wanted to take an ambulance, this is why--"

"--and here I'm letting you leak all over the leather in my new car, all because you--"


At that moment, the engine died.


"You king of douchebags."

"I bet it's the alternator. There's been some bleeding in the engine, and--"

"Oh, so the engine bleeds?!"

"It's a mechanical term!"


"We have to walk."

"I've been shot! In the chest!"

"Your shoulder."

"I'm not walking!"

"Well, clearly, you're just sitting there bleeding. The hospital's like a block away, you didn't get shot in the legs, come on."

"Emperor of assholery..."

"Lean on me. We'll be there in a second, god, don't--leak on my suit, would you?"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Perfect Moments

A rainbow.

Right out of a storybook, rising from the rumblings of an unwanted storm on a wedding day. It rained just long enough to merit the brilliant arc above our heads, looming intangible and achingly beautiful just above the Mississippi River. I looked through it, to the treetops of my own state; looked behind me, to the reception inside; beside me, to the pretty girl who, thanks to the concrete bench, was for once smiling down at me.

I rose in my tux shoes to kiss her on tiptoes, tears stinging my eyes, smiling so hard it hurt. Around us, the world turned so pleasant and happy it seemed to be applauding.

Congratulations, James and Christine Gregory.


God, the thought of holding him was terrifying. A brand-new, screaming, above-all fragile inductee into the human race, held above me by his father (my brother) who sternly lectures on the proper way to cradle a newborn. My exhausted sister-in-law smiling with that wary look in her eye; we all know I'm the klutz, but he is my nephew and, yes, I must hold him once.

I take this bundle into my arms, and he is so warm, and he is so light. 7 pounds 15 ounces is nothing, and at the same time everything, my arms struggling to be powerful and gentle at the same time. There is no more screaming; there is only soft, almost inaudible breath, the invisible rise and fall of a baby's little chest. And the pride, so thick in my throat that I must swallow, so fierce I must give the baby back.

Michael Fitzgerald Smylie, born June 8th, 2008. Welcome to your life. I am so happy to be in it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

It was 8:13 AM on August 8th, and I was late for an interview with God.

I tried to reason with my editor, pointing out that I wasn't on-duty until 9:30. I could hear the clock on my phone shoot forward. I explained that I only covered local news. My editor promoted me. Desperate, I reminded him of my many (completely inane) appointments--if I could not listen to council meetings and fill the police blotter, who would?

A cold breeze off the river blew open my appointment book. From 9:30 AM until 5:30 PM, in bold letters half a page in size, was simply the word GOD.

Well, you had to give Him one thing. He sure was a stubborn asshole.
Some days, he pondered murder in an almost scholastic sense. The logistics of it. How, if he leapt across the counter at his dead-end job in his dead-end life and dead-ended someone else permanently, he could get away with it. He was not the type to act out of passion; he would never kill someone without weeks, no, months of planning. And yet he wondered, with ten witnesses and a security camera, how he would escape.

It wasn't so much malice as it was distaste. Irritation. The sound of voice after voice clamoring for service, the look of people desperate for service and heedless of the line. Every "uuuummmm..." and "uhhhhhh..." as they stared at the menu added a new dimension of cruelty to their imaginary deaths.

Some days it was more visceral. He didn't consider body disposal, evidence disposal, any kind of disposal except the tossing aside of one suburban bastard's life with a spray of blood and the wet mulching of gore between his fingers. I could kill you with this espresso machine, he thought one day, the image unbidden. It bothered him that the subsequent thought as just, but I'd have to blind you with hot coffee first.

All this behind the bland, fixed smile of retail, and he would have worried if he hadn't heard his coworkers saying the same things.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Way to ruin it

The physicist tells me that we live in a multiverse. Picture a filing cabinet, he says, thousands of sheets of paper always right next to one another but never, ever touching. Picture it on a galactic scale, a universal scale, an infinite scale--and keep right on picturing it, until there's nothing but sheets of paper, all in perfect rows.

"That's so cool," I say, eyes alight. "How do we get from one paper to another?"

"Oh, we don't," he replies, holding up a sheet. "Otherwise--" He crumples it and tosses it towards the trashcan.

Science ruins everything.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Little Things

Jeremy’s day began with the utmost triumph: perfectly toasted toast. The bread, teetering on that oft-sought step between cooked and burnt, took butter and jelly in equal measure and crunch-squished between his teeth, every bite a testament to his culinary prowess.

Jeremy’s day continued with a lesser, though not inconsiderable victory: the shower was hot when he stepped in. The streams above his head, which so often yielded nothing but cold water thanks to Mr. Paulaski’s daily neverending bath, today lapped gentle and warm across his back. He scrubbed in peace, still proud of the toast.

Next was the drag of his favorite comb through his messy hair, which—normally uncooperative—yielded to each plastic stroke. He tilted his head, considered the calmed shock of black atop it in the mirror, and beamed. The crack in the center only slightly distorted his nose. Brushing his teeth and getting dressed and getting ready continued the trend of minor but not trivial successes, and it was with an unusual bounce in his step that he took the ten paces from his bathroom to his front door.

He nodded at the Collection, lining three walls of his studio at various wobbling heights. Monitors glowed, LEDs blinked, fans hummed, and a lone Apple logo blazed; all, it seemed, in cheerful response.

Jeremy relished the triumphs of the morning, grabbed his broken doorknob, and stepped outside ready to seize the day.

Judging by the wave of icy water a passing car immediately kicked up; the suddenly mussed hair soaking on top of his head; the muffling gray of the sky, and the flat tire on his Honda across the street, the day would do some seizing of its own.

He still had the toast.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Your Monthly Resurrection

I suck.

I'll hang my head and bow and scrape, but the truth of the matter is, I am just terrible at keeping a schedule without any pressure attached to it--especially when I have other things occupying my time, like a show or a trip to paradise.

I need to fix this, obviously, so it's time to start YDI up again. Expect great things in the future! Just, you know, don't necessarily expect them on time.

If anyone is still checking this: I missed you and I'm back.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Gotta love it when the foggy weariness in your eyes clashes with the shrieking activity in your brain.

I could be dreaming of apocalyptic landscapes, sex in three directions.

Instead I'm reading about a canceled Fox TV series on Wikipedia.

Dream for me.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Oh man.

Opening night tomorrow.

The tension, it...vibrates. Right through your skin. It's not enough to bounce your knee, you have to bounce your everything, waiting to go on stage.

I could live with being a starving artist, if it's always as fun as this.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Baby it's Cold Outside

GHS-30938 was the worst planet in the solar system.

In the galaxy.

In the universe.

At least other planets had the good grace to be so terrifying, so gaseous, so poisonous, and generally so Goddamned uninhabitable that not even the most desperate spacers would attempt to settle them. Planet Meteo, bombarded daily by chunks of rock which, thanks to the atmosphere's unique characteristics, turned into planetwide cluster bombs. Planet Dust, so named because the wind storms made even the inanimate probes choke and die. Planet Siphonia, which leached energy out of engines and blood out of people. All of them horrible, all of them unsettled.

GHS-30938, which was so loathed no one bothered to name it, was the worst planet in the multiverse precisely because some desperate colony ship put down upon its just-barely-livable surface. Perhaps the stay was supposed to be temporary; MacIntyre could only hope so, because what kind of ancestors would land on a planet that was half ice cube, half lava intentionally?

GHS-30938 orbited a star so closely that its Day Side nearly boiled, and always stayed that way. Tidally locked. Its Night Side was, in a way, better for habitation--provided you didn't mind living frozen in perpetual darkness. Not figuratively frozen, unable to move--literally frozen, as in constantly buried in ice.

McIntyre kicked an outcropping of ice, briefly illuminated in his path by the spotlights behind him, and reflected on this. It snapped against his boot, spiraled off into the distance.

That meant he was getting closer. Only about ten below, here; try that shit farther from the equator, you'd break every toe in your foot, the ice solid as rock.

I live on the worst planet ever, he thought, and now I'm going to die on it.

Looking up, seeing the dim, alien light on the horizon, he was given small comfort: at least he wouldn't die cold.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Things I Love


The sheepish grin you see when someone forgets she's cursing in public.


The first, painful bite of too-hot gyoza squirting soy sauce against your teeth and making you wince at how goddamned good it tastes.

Lazy strokes of a fingertip along a girl's bare back.

Kisses at the throat, occasional bites, a fistful of hair.

Post-workout glow.

Post-sex glow.


Driving 85 in a 55 blaring Reel Big Fish and poorly, but honestly, singing along.

The blissful realization that you finally get your monologue, feel what your character's saying. It's the difference between reading a poem somebody handed you and performing one you wrote yourself.

Cats. Cats are nice.

This week, dear hypothetical readers: tell me what you love.


Rehearsals are heating up. I feel like the living dead this week.

Got an interview with a web publishing company; let's all be optimistic.

For tonight I'm going to sleep before I crack open somebody's skull and feast on the goo inside.

Friday, February 15, 2008

In Which I Make You Do My Job

It's friday again, dear readers, and though I tend to drop a day or two each week I'm striving for consistency. With that in mind, let's play a game:

Describe yourself to me. What you're doing, what you look like, and what you're thinking about right...

wait for it


Thursday, February 14, 2008

There's something surreal and delightful about watching a forty-five year old costar order two glasses of wine (because it's last call, obviously!) and eventually start saying "fuck."

"Oh, I'm sorry," she says, faltering.

"No, no," I grin. "I love hearing adults swear."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I try hard to imagine the thought process of my brother once I start inflicting Politics upon them like some vile disease.

Is he--the Obama thing again? God, I already voted for him at the Primary, what more does he want? Oh, great, Iraq. Yeah, I want to hear about that some more. I wonder if we have any beer. He's for raising taxes? What kind of--yeah, Budweiser! Wait, what's for dinner. Kennedy? Can't eat Kennedy, why is he still talking about this, wait, shit, I have to say something or he'll know I wasn't paying attention...


I know, brother. I know.

Monday, February 11, 2008


It's weird, watching everybody cry over somebody you didn't really know.

Objectively you know you're supposed to feel bad, and maybe you do; but forty minutes into the reflection on this person's life you find yourself surreptitiously checking delegate counts on your cell phone.

Until you see the reason you came, til you see the grieving one. Til you hug her and feel her shudder as she says your name--and says nothing else, because all the gratitude and sadness she can express is in that solitary word.

RIP, ma'am. I didn't really know you, but a lifetime's worth of people clearly did.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

To Drink

I love that moment when you look into your half-empty glass and realize you're slightly drunk. The warm-and-fuzzies in your head, drawing out a half-smile that turns into a full one another sip later; the heated flush on your face coupled with the almost erotic rush of taste as you finish your glass; the tunes that spring unbidden into your head and force you to think, then hum, then sing:

Can anybody fi-ind meeeeee...
Somebody to lo-oooo-ooove.

No, you're not Freddy Mercury, but after two rum punches you can probably sing just as well as him!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Muscles burn, bones grind, and voice roars with exertion.

I swing my weapon; stab, rend, and swing again, the bodies of my enemies scattered in a morbid and growing pile. I look to and fro, the length of plastic and metal trembling in my hands; there is no end to them, I see, and yet I growl and keep fighting.

I look to the area already cleared, moan to see reinforcements there already, presence growing by the moment. Across the street another warrior chuckles, sympathetic.

"You ever get the feeling we're fighting a futile battle?" I ask.

"Every damn day," she laughs.

You may talk of glory, but I tell you: shoveling snow is hell.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Apathy suffocates.
Depression chokes.
Ennui looms.
Inspiration hides.

Damned inspiration. I like Ze's take on the concept.

Friday, February 1, 2008

YOUR daily image

So, lady and gentleman (from what I can tell, approximately two people read any given entry on my blog), I'm gonna trick things up for you this week, partially because I'm sick as a dog (throat feels like I got intimate with a cactus), mostly because I think it'd be fun.

You ever play that game "And Then"?

You know, where somebody starts off a story, finishes their paragraph with "and then," and you get to say what happens next?

Let's do that, via comments!

Starting with:
Jeff wished he could be more cheerful about the end of the world. If he only had ten minutes to live, it seemed to make sense to make them happy. He'd tried whistling a zippy tune, only to break into aching sobs; tried getting laid one last time, only to realize he couldn't pick up a girl that quickly; tried getting drunk, but the bar'd been cleaned out already.

And then...

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Whenever Hillary Clinton laughs, leaning her head back in that merry way and for some reason leaving her eyes on the camera, I imagine rows upon rows of replacement teeth behind the pearly whites she shows.

Like, you know.

A shark's.

Obama, meanwhile, always seems to be holding back an embarrassing expulsion of gas. Look at the tilt of his head.

Watching the debates is a fun experience when you're wildly immature.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

From the Archives: Awry

Here's a piece I did in Reading/Writing Autobiography, about the first time I realized adults weren't infallible. It gets kind of personal, so if you're weirded out, that's okay. I'm a little weirded out too. We can be weirded out...together.

There are spiders on the ceiling above my bed.

No, not really. I’m not dumb, I know they’re not spiders.
They’re mosquitoes: the really big, scary, spindly ones, with legs way too long for their bodies. I close my eyes and can feel a hair-thin leg against my face. I know mosquitoes drink blood, but how much? A lot? These are bigger than the gnats I fight through swarms of; maybe they can kill me

I open my eyes. The slowly moving shadows are just shadows. Stupid of me. But I’m not dumb; they really looked like mosquitoes. I roll to the side, til the bunk rail presses cold into my chest, and look at the baby bed.

The baby bed is my old bed. I’m way too big for it now. Mommy doesn’t throw stuff away, so we use it for my stuffed animals. I have lots, yeah, but they’re not girly or something. E.T. is there. And Animal, and some puppets.

And they’re all looking at me. Yeah, they look at everything, but right now their eyes are all on me.

I roll over, looking at the ceiling, but those shadows look bad. I roll to the wall and curl up, like a baby unborn, but their eyes are hot on my back. It’s not fair; they’re normal during the day. When the lights are off, they get curvy, sharp, but they can’t move—so they watch me.

I ignore them. I’m not a baby. I’m nearly six. That’s old. I listen to my brother’s snores in the bunk below mine; try to think about other stuff. The Ninja Turtles—they’d never stare at me like that. They’d have me help them fight The Foot, and give me pizza. I close my eyes, try to sleep and dream of pizza and ninjas, but something makes me look over my shoulder.
There, over the hill of blanket bluer than my crayons, past the shelf far below stuffed with Foxtrot and Calvin and Hobbes. Just his head visible, cut in half by the safety bar. E.T., friend of kids everywhere, my secret weapon when my cousin visits (I chased him across the yard with him once). He’s staring at me, more so than the others, because he’s got marble eyes that catch the light.

Is his arm moving?

I tumble down the ladder, my brother never waking, and flee down the hall. Usually Mommy meets me halfway. She told me she has a special antenna that all mothers have, they get it installed when we’re born, and she always knows when I need someone.

But she’s not in the hall now. There’s no light under her door; usually it’s on when I get to the staircase. Maybe her antenna’s not working. But I need her anyway, even if she’s sleeping or something, because the hallway’s way too dark, and the animals could be following me. If E.T. can move, maybe he taught the others how to. I push open her door, but quietly.

I can see Mommy, sitting on the left side of the bed. She doesn’t see me; she’s kind of looking at her hands, really close up. The other side’s empty. But that’s normal. Daddy’s boss is mean. Because of this mean guy, my dad goes on business trips a lot, and sometimes he sleeps at his desk. We don’t see him a lot now. I complain about the boss sometimes, ask why Daddy doesn’t get a new job. Mommy just hugs me when I say that.

I don’t say anything. I’ll surprise her.

I get to the front (foot?) of the bed and stop. Mommy’s not looking at me. She’s shaking a little, enough to make the blanket around her move. Maybe she’s praying, her hands are covering her eyes. It’s too dark, I can’t tell…I almost ask, but I don’t want to surprise her. Not anymore.
She makes a noise, and it sounds like a mouse, a little squeaky sound. It happens when she shakes, every couple times. There’re some Kleenex on her bedside table. Her alarm clock makes them glow, turns one of her knees sort of red. The rest of her’s not close enough.

I hear the sound again. It’s…broken, weird, not like her at all. Is she…

No. She isn’t.
Yes, she is.
She’s crying.

I’m not thinking about the animals anymore, or about E.T. coming down the hall. Mommy is crying. I crawl onto the bed behind her, I hug her really tight. She breathes in quick, like she’s scared, and looks back at me. Big bags under her eyes, looking like a raccoon. She hasn’t been sleeping.

“Jimmy,” she says, but her voice is all thick, like something’s in her throat. “What am I going to do? How can I…”

“It’s okay, Mommy.” I don’t let her finish. My voice is low, quiet, like she is when I cry. “We’ll take care of you. It’ll be okay. Don’t cry anymore.”

She stares at me, barely breathing. Her face is all wet, and she seems really small. Then she hugs me back, real tight, and she’s Her again.

I sleep next to her, in daddy’s spot, and wonder why he wasn’t hugging her instead of me.

Mom was like Superman.
Sorry. Little me’s terms. My terms: Mom was invincible. Untouchable. The bastion of sanity as the world falls to pieces around you; if it were a toss-up between God and my mom in a crisis, I’d have taken Mom in a heartbeat. Hell, I thought God was an invisible guy living in a director’s chair in our church. Mom was a living, breathing thunderbolt: wrangling five brothers, paying bills, making dinner. She even tore around in a huge Chevy Suburban I could surf in the back of. And if that SportMart guy wouldn’t let us return my defective bike, she’d stay there and argue until they gave her a better Huffy out of desperation. She was Power.
Mom was a good actress.

The stress never got to her, not in front of us, even when my father vanished on business trips to Boston where I assume he shopped for a new apartment. To us, were perfect: they smiled, and hugged, and slept with me between them in the bed like a boy Berlin Wall. She kept it up always.

Seeing Mom cry in an empty bed was akin to feeling an earthquake for the first time. The room’s corners blur, your footing becomes falling, and you can only look around and ask what the fuck was that? No idea what caused it, nor what’ll happen next. The world cracks a little, tiny fissures spreading along the edges, quietly undermining the whole of everything.
Had I known when I hugged her that she was crying—probably doing that squeaking so she wouldn’t sob and wake any of us up—because my father had left us and didn't seem to be coming back, the effect would have been less a tremor, more a sledgehammer delivered to my center of gravity. There might have been spikes involved.

As it was, it was the first hint that our home was awry. I wish I knew that word at the time; it would have been perfect.

“Hey, Jimmy, how’s it going?”
“I’m okay. Daddy’s not home, though. I think something is…awry.”

Sums it up perfectly.

Mom was crying. Dad was gone. My usual source of comfort was being comforted. I felt a strange sensation then, though I couldn’t articulate it—I was holding up the ground I usually stood on.

What would I have done, were I me now in the same position? I picture me, staring at the ceiling with wary cluelessness. I’m concerned about my Mommy, but more focused on new suspicious shadows. I wish the young me could sit up. Ask her where Dad is. Tell her more than “it’ll be okay,” know more than “mommy is sad.”

But I can’t even say things are awry. So I lie there, knowing that I gave her what I could—I helped Superman back into the air. Then I toss and turn a little, and dream of Ninja Turtles.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Though he's obscured--by swirls of snow, by flashing police lights, and so often by the arm of an officer pushing his hands back up to the proper position--I can here and there see his face.

Looking towards me.

I shrug helplessly, warm in my car, relief that neither car is damaged and no one is hurt melting into amazement.

He's being arrested?

I hit him.

But apparently he's got no license.

Timing's a bitch.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Opposite Day

David Roe was very much alone.

Understandably so. At parties, he was the one in the corner muttering judgment and incessantly tapping his smartphone. He didn't like loud music, he didn't like to drink, conversation seemed to bore him. Those who braved social interaction with the pale, dark-eyed man in the corner felt they could very well have been dead or chickens or on fire for all he cared. For some reason, this air of bitter disinterest seemed to net him more-than-occasional lays, but every woman who went to bed with him couldn't shake the feeling that to him, the sex was pretty much masturbation.

The fact he cut up dead people for a living didn't help his social life.

In truth, to David conversation was at best white noise and at worst something akin to a swarm of particularly eloquent mosquitoes whining in his ears. He didn't hate people, not really, but they were so damned boring most of the time. He'd find himself tuning Scott this or Jen that out at the bar, wondering how big Scott's heart was, how much Jen's martinis had soured her liver. He had better conversations with corpses--at least they told him useful things, like what type of knife created that wound, or how many hours it'd been since the final breath.

David Roe, county medical examiner, was very much alone.

But he wasn't lonely.

Friday, January 25, 2008

To Be Announced

Bad juju.

Check back later.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ow, my Everywhere

Sinking--no, melting--into the big, cushy couch, I peer through blurring vision at the ceiling and listen to the screams of every major muscle group. Making it up here from the basement was a triumph; now it's all I can do to breathe on my own. I hear the thud-thud-thud of footsteps coming up after me; it's almost in time with my shuddering, angry heart.

"So, how're you doing?" Asks the trainer.

"Half-dead," I somehow reply.

"Same time next week?"

My body screams NO!

My pride screams yes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Not-so-Final Fantasy

This is a snippet from a fantasy story I started back in college; it's about people hunting magical artifacts. I was reading lots of Terry Pratchett at the time. Can you tell?

Wilkes was the type of man who would benefit greatly from the invention of computers. Saying his desk was a sea of papers would be incorrect. His entire office, his entire wing of the building was a testament to slaughtered trees. At first, Andrew didn’t notice him, didn’t realize there was anyone in the room until unkempt hair poked out of a few stacks of paper that began higher than the others.

“Applying or quitting?” The most irritated voice Andrew had ever encountered, ever asked.

“Uh, applying,” he replied. He kept peering about. Aside from the papers, there really didn’t seem to be much in the room. Forms, notes, and memos swarmed over everything. Even the two chairs were almost unrecognizable, long ago covered in white. One thing did catch his eye, however—something canvas-wrapped, sitting in one corner, mercifully left alone by the paper sea. It wasn’t very big, and the canvas made it impossible to identify, but it wasn’t paper, that was for sure—


Andrew twitched, eyes flicking back to the desk. He could see more of Wilkes, now. The man was peering over his papers towards him, a pair of thin, yellow glasses doing nothing to hide the utterly bothered look in his eyes.


“Applying for what?” There was a perpetual tapping coming from somewhere behind all those stacks on the desk, one that sounded just like Andrew imagined an impatient man’s finger endlessly tapping on a desk would.

“I, uh—“ He looked helplessly towards Mina, who rolled her eyes. No assistance there.

Wilkes sighed and rose from his chair, punctuating his list with gestures of his pen. “Accounting, Diplomacy, Labor, Research, Hunting—“

“Hunting,” Mina seethed, smacking the artifact they'd found down on the desk. A few errant clumps of dirt came off and bumped against the bottoms of the chest-high stacks. Wilkes glared at her for a moment, then picked up the stone.

“And he found this?” He asked, giving Andrew a long, disapproving look.

“More or le—“ Mina’s elbow jabbed Andrew in the ribs astonishingly hard. “—yes, of course I did.” He waited for Wilkes’ eyes to go back to the artifact, then clutched at his side and looked, wide-eyed and unhappy, at the hooded girl. She scowled, unapologetic.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Had rehearsal tonight. Met a cute girl. Actively weighing the awkwardness of getting shot down by said cute girl against the awesomeness of her saying yes to a date.

Jeremy was not a lonely man.

Every day he met hundreds of people, sometimes thousands. Talked for hours about every conceivable subject, argued at length--often won!--on many as well. Always, at that point, raised his skinny fists in victory and crowed triumph to the heavens. Or his ceiling. Mainly his ceiling. And often, oh, so often, he had sex. With women. Well, people who claimed they were women. With chat rooms, it was possible they were lying, but Jeremy didn't want to consider the possibility.

Jeremy was not a lonely man.

But, bathed in the light of his computer monitor at two AM, stripped to his boxers and surrounded by blinking, beeping, humming, looming electronica, for some reason he felt very, very much alone.

Monday, January 21, 2008

But Somebody Has To Do It

"...hey, what time is it?"
"Almost eight."
"Oh, crap."

Death wasn’t a mean guy. Not really. They knew that. He was just misunderstood. As other Gods modernized—softened in their old age—he held fast to his methods. He offered relief, an ending, closure. The Gods agreed it was quite nice of him. After the illness took hold or the body gave out, Death gave the harvested a gentle pat towards wherever they were going. Well, mainly gentle. Certainly with good intentions, oh yes, the old boy’s quite a softie when you get to know him.

There were whispers, though.

Death heard, of course. He could hear the last gasp of a sparrow before it dropped from the sky (more cynical Gods noted he did nothing to stop the subsequent fall); why wouldn’t he hear the murmurs and whispers of a drunken divine pantheon?

“Did you see what happened to—“
“—terrible, I thought—“
“He’s losing it, don’t you think?”

Death would sip his mead (wine was a Johnny-come-lately, in his mind) and smile and say nothing, because even the Gods didn’t fully understand. They liked him; he was industrious, and soft-spoken, and always polite. But he was weird, and antisocial, and always seemed to be fitting you for your coffin (well, metaphorically speaking).

He was the last to leave the pantheon. Once, Loki waited up—cleaned the tables, sang old songs, looked for that jacket he knew he’d left on Jesus’ chair—but Death never left. The pale man sat and sipped and smiled, until even Loki was unnerved and left in an awful hurry.
No one saw his smile fade, then. Noticed his hands tensing on his black overcoat, far too big for his delicate frame (a Celtic deity marveled he could lift a glass with those thin fingers, much less tear off heads; he did not say this loudly). And no one thought the broken glass the janitors found the next days was Death’s.

Watching duels grow into wars, swords turn into bombs, they thought—hoped, really—that the increasing brutality was part of a plan.

Ineffable actions. Mysterious ways.

Without mystery, brutality was anger. And even the dumbest gods didn’t want to consider that. He hadn’t kept hourglasses in thousands of years. Some of the cleverest ones had stolen theirs ages ago, now cradled them like infants; the rest could only wonder where they’d gone. The idea that the strongest among them, the oldest, was capable of malicious rage made wineglasses tremble and ancient breath stop short.

They whispered. They talked. They didn’t understand.
He used to love his job. It was a kindness, a finishing touch. People died young, or old, or unborn, and the final moment was an end to suffering. There were other gods of disease and of murder. He was simply the lightswitch turning off. But the years wore on, and the people got smarter, and then it happened.

They started to cheat.

He stared, incredulous, at his model globe the first time it came up. A tiny clay figure did not crumble at his touch. Someone did not die when they were supposed to. It took him weeks to finish it, and every subsequent failed attempt sent a painful shock through his being.

The cases piled up. They lasted years. And soon enough he tensed when the clay figures shocked; he wanted no more kindness for them, but endings, utter ones, ones that he controlled. The lesser gods fled and faded. No longer did Pestilence inflict plague; no longer did Zeus hurl thunderbolts. The tools of ending were in his hands, and he used them with decreasing delicacy.

Down below, people held the same hopes. Why did the girl suffer so? Oh, there’s a plan for it all, a mysterious framework. It’s not a miserable being hunched over a globe, knowing us and hating us and jumping at our throats when we fail to die on time. That mysterious calendar is right on time, not thrown in a corner, forgotten for years. And when you reach the other side, your taker will help you on your way, not glare at you and walk away, satisfied.

Death wanted to scream it: there is no plan. There is no order, no purpose, no layers upon layers. There is only me, taking your stubborn ones aside, aligning unseen horrors, and sitting back to watch.

Instead, he smiled, and listened to the dinner chats until he could not listen anymore, and then he tore his ears off, and pulled up the overcoat’s hood.

That was not enough. He read their lips, and so he put his eyes out. He could do his job by feel.
He felt the air move with their concern, and that was when even the dumbest gods left for better climes. Somewhere was the inkling something terrible was going to happen.

The last one to check on him saw a being in a rage. He strode, blind and deaf, from one end of his room to the other. The innumerable clay figures lay torn from their globe, spread across the floor. He was screaming, stomping, empty eyes wide in frenzy. And the dust of billions stained his feet.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hanging My Head

Dear God.

A month? Really?

Your Occasional Image?
Your Intermittent Image?

I'm alive, I'm just very badly apathetic. And job-hunting. And applying for grad school.

Updates begin anew on Monday at 7 PM. The site will be updated every day at 7, unless I have rehearsal, in which case the update shall come significantly later. But it'll come.

Once a day.