Sunday, June 27, 2010

Contest Update and Indie Horror Link

The day was a bit of a loss as far as writing is concerned. I did, however, look through many of the entries to the Land's Edge flash fiction contest. Some very cool stuff submitted and a few very interesting interpretations of holidays. In the next couple of days I shall meet with Laurita Miller, of Brain Droppings fame, and our third judge to load up on coffee and pastries go over the entries and select the top three and the honourable mentions. I am looking forward to naming the winners later this week and posting them here during the week after.

There was little time to come up with a worthy post for today but, while I had a five course meal on the stove my wife slaved away making supper, I surfed the net for a bit. You know how it go to a follower's blog and start looking at their followers and their thing you know you've run into something that really catches your eye.

I'll link you to Unleash the Flying Monkeys!, a blog by Leah Saylor-Abney. A couple of weeks back she presented a post called 7 Must-See Indie Horror Movies about indie horror films that are in various stages of production. I have neither seen nor heard of any of these, but there are trailers attached and links to official websites for each movie. Enough there to whet the appetites of all you horror buffs. Strange, low-budget and gruesome...

Friday, June 25, 2010

#fridayflash~The Big Event

The Big Event

Margaret and Emery Lang sat quietly across from one another. The classical music was overpowered by the buzz of chatter in the restaurant. Emery had made the reservation weeks ago and still had to slip the maitre d’ a twenty to ensure the same window seat they had had every anniversary. Back on their 25th it had only cost him a finski. Times had changed.

The dessert dishes lay on the table. The chocolate mousse was all but licked from his glass bowl and the filling from her untouched raspberry pie had bled into the melted ice cream.

Margaret fingered the fine linen table cloth and was lost in her thoughts. Perhaps she could start a new sewing project? Which grandchild’s birthday was later this month? So many things to remember each day…

Emery glanced at his Rolex and wondered how long they would have to wait for the server to arrive with the bill. He wanted to hurry home to catch the ball game on the tube.

Margaret was staring at the quiet harbour when movement below the window caught her attention. A well-dressed young couple walked away from the restaurant, past the fishing boats moored along the edge of the concrete dock. The young woman turned and looked up at her window for a moment but continued on with her suitor. She rested her head on the man’s shoulder as they walked, reminding Margaret of her own honeymoon in Florida. So many sunset walks along the white sands of Pensacola Beach.

She was still visiting that far away beach when the waiter arrived with the bill. Emery slipped some cash into the black folder and immediately handed it back to the young woman. “I’ll get the car and meet you out front.”

Margaret slowly rose to her feet and the young server took her by the arm and began to lead her away from the table. Her final view of the young couple brought tears to her eyes. The pair had stopped and the woman now looked up to the man expectantly. She playfully punched him on the shoulder and held his hands.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Valerie and Dave strolled along the wharf, trying to kill time until the restaurant had an opening for them. They had arrived at the restaurant on time, yet the door geezer had told them they would have to wait about 20 minutes until a table was ready. She wanted to sit at the bar but he had put her off knowing that the drinks would cost over $10 a pop. He suggested a walk instead.

Valerie was a bit anxious because they had dated for nearly a year and Dave obviously had something big on his mind. She had spent three hours at the hair dresser because this dinner was going to be way more upscale than their usual fare at Burger King.

She sighed and entwined her arm with his as they walked together. She glanced over her shoulder at the restaurant; the sunset colours and the shimmer of the water reflected off the tinted windows. The setting would have been perfect if not for the ungodly stench of sewage emanating from the harbour.

Dave stared beyond the fishing boats, their decks laden with crab and lobster pots. Valerie had been hinting about going to a fancy restaurant for weeks and he figured this outing would finally get her off his case. The prospect of working a shit-load of overtime to pay off this venture had soured his mood. And he was going to miss the ball game on TV.

Valerie stopped suddenly and looked up at Dave with a dreamy, stunned look in her eyes. “What’s on your mind, honey?” she asked.

“Umm, nothing babe.”

“It’s really nice of you to bring me here for dinner. It was such a surprise!” Her face was aglow and she playfully punched his shoulder.

“It’s nothing. You deserve the best,” he replied as he rubbed his shoulder.

“I mean it’s not, like, my birthday or our anniversary or anything. I was wondering why you wanted to get dressed up and bring me here,” she said and clasped his hands with hers.

Dave’s mind raced and he broke out in a cold sweat. “Well, babe…you see—“

“Yes?” she nodded encouragement, her heart pounded in her chest.

He licked his lips and examined his scuffed shoes. “I was thinking…I know your dad’s strict and all, but maybe we could go away for a weekend?”

Valerie paled and her jaw dropped. “That’s it?”

“What?” Dave said, his eyes darted left and right as if expecting an attacker. Or perhaps he was seeking an escape route.

“That’s what this fancy dinner is all about?”

“Well, yeah. I guess.”

“You little shit!” Valerie’s arms flailed in an attempt to smack her boyfriend. Dave whined in protest and backed away from her attack until his heel hit the low wooden rail at the edge of the harbour. He fell backwards and dropped 6 feet into the murky water, sending solid matter floating away on concentric rings.

Valerie stomped off, leaving him bobbing in the polluted, frigid water.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Holey Towels, Dude! Stop Lying Around...

Short but sweet post to reflect what is going on this evening...

OK, let me clarify before the 'jokers' jump in to comment...

I am working on my #fridayflash story, not lying under sunlamps with a svelt young man.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

'Hightlights' of Bad Movie Night

As advertised, I present you with the highlights of our semi- regular Bad Movie Night last Thursday. There were only five guys in attendance so we had more room than usual on the two basement couches. I assure you all that cuddling was not necessary. This time. The evening had a decidedly French flavour and was unique in the fact we had 3 short films as trailers before the main feature.

The first trailer, and I must say easily the highlight of the evening for me, was a 10 minute film called 'Le Queloune' (The Clown) from 2008. You might sub-title it Zombie Clown, but I suppose the title character is a zombie in a classical sense. I'll let the horror people decide for themselves. I searched IMDB but could find no entry for this feature. The clown in question is played by French actor Dominique Pinon and he's absolutely brilliant as the resurrected clown. If you are not frightened by clowns, and choose to view the movie, watch his mannerisms closely. It's a humorous film in the macabre sense, high quality and well worth the 10 minute investment of your time. I would say the 1/2 million hits it's had in the past year is a testament to its popularity. Click here for the link to the YouTube film.

The next short film was an American WWII training movie on "How to Fly a P-47" aircraft. It was part 2 of 3 and they are all available to view on YouTube as well. It was a basic trainer about ground handling at take-off, standard flight and landing the aircraft. The movie was pretty dry, as you would expect from the air force in 1943, but gave a bit of insight into the technology of the day and all of the bells and whistles that need manipulating during a standard flight. We have a friend who flew Lancaster bombers during WWII, and it gave me a better appreciation of what he would have had to do (except on a larger scale) to fly an aircraft. I would only recommend it for the war buff. You can link to that YouTube video here.

The other short movie was quite different. It was a French film by Oscar-winning director Claude Lalouch called 'C'etait un Rendezvous' (The Rendezvous) from 1976. The story is that he was just done shooting a movie in Paris and had 12 minutes of film left and the use of a gyro-stabilized camera mount. He mounted the camera to the grill of his Mercedes and went for an early morning non-stop drive across Paris. You get quite the sense of speed from the shifting of gears, revving of the motor and squealing breaks. Mr. Lalouch noted that the route driven was only 6 1/2 miles long and he drove no faster than 85mph at any time. It's an even better view on a large-screen TV with quality speakers. Do watch this's worth the 9 minute investment of time. You can link to the IMDB information here and watch the film on YouTube here.

And of course, there was our feature film which must live up to the billing of Bad to make the evening a success. And we weren't disappointed. "Morgane et ses Nymhes" (Girl Slaves of Morgana LaFay) was another French film from 1971. It is billed as a fantasy/horror. I didn't find much horrific about the movie but it did have a surrealistic, other-worldly feel to it. This movie scored a 9 out of 10 for the WTF factor...two women get lost in the woods trying to drive somewhere. They bed down in a straw-filled barn, make out and fall asleep. One wakes up to find the other missing and wanders through the woods, gets on a self propelled dingy and is taken to an island with a castle. Then it gets weird...

There was little plot to the story and a number of nude scenes with women making out were thrown in attempting to distract the male viewer from realizing there was little plot. It got to the point that even the naked women couldn't hold our attention. The title character Morgane had a harem of women kept at her castle in what seemed to be a middle-age, fairy-like time period. We tried to amuse ourselves by guessing at the gender of the diminutive, hunch-backed servant Gurth but they eventually referred to it as a 'he' so we couldn't even play that game any more. I must say, for 1971 there was a lot of nudity and more than a little alluding to lesbianism in this movie. If that sort of stuff is relevant to the plot line and moving the story along I'm all for it. The problem here is we had no plot and it was all fluff and filler. Yes people, another successful choice of bad movie that I can't recommend to you. But perhaps you like that sort of thing and will check it out's the link to IMDB.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Where Did the Weekend GO!

I've got a few items to cover here, so please ignore my inane and pointless rambling bear with me.

First, I'd like to thank everyone who showed up and both read and took the time to comment on my #fridayflash from last week. All much appreciated. I have to thank Cathy Olliffe for challenging me to produce something when I had all but given up on Thursday evening. Thanks also to Laura Eno for giving me the idea of writing a story about using a whip. I would be lost without the verbal abuse encouragement of my online writing buddies.

My parents were in St. John's for a couple of days to shop and to attend the combined Finch-Stansbury-Davidson lobster cook-up hosted by my sister-in-law and her husband each Father's Day. Therefore, I could only find time to reply to the kind comments people had left about my #fridayflash story. I also processed the last-minute entries to the Land's Edge flash fiction contest. Many thanks to those of you who have thrown your hat into the ring. I'm just happy that there were no undergarments involved...

As a result of said busy-ness, I only managed to comment on a handful of #fridayflash stories written by others. I feel like a slug and shall whip myself mercilessly for my slothfulness. Later. In private. Drinking cheap sherry and wearing nothing but a fez and a smile...

Oh, yeah...I was talking about the lobster cook-up. The photos from said event are still on the family camera awaiting someone with greater technological skills than myself. I shall save time and post three photos from the BBQ last year. Or was it the year before? No matter, it looked pretty much identical to the other occasions with the same family present. Except this time I wore shorts. And got a bit sunburned. And a toy poodle chewed the antennae off some of the lobster...and in case anyone is wondering, that's not a cigar but a smoked fish (caplin) hanging from my mouth. Even though the photo is old, I look pretty much the same. Except for the baldness, the eyepatch and tattoo of Larry King on my...

I was going to get to the highlights evilness of Bad movie night but I can see this post getting waaaayyyy long and dreary and I think that I'll get to that tomorrow night. Let me give you a teaser (that was teaser, not taser)...there were 3 short trailers involving a plane, a fast car and a zombie clown. The main feature, of course, had scantily clad women. And no plot. Talk amongst yourselves...

Friday, June 18, 2010

#fridayflash~The Excitable Whipping Boy

The Excitable Whipping Boy

Simon Cunningham, according to his neighbours, was an excitable boy prone to acting on the urges that frequently popped into his large head. His mother, Vanessa, insisted she was doing her best to raise the feisty lad on her own. The neighbours, however, had a different opinion.

The boy had been the bane of the housing scheme ever since he could propel himself forth. When asked, several of the Cunningham’s neighbours gladly related their experiences with Simon.

Elderly Olivia Deacon recalled, ten years earlier, when the barefoot, dirty-faced toddler waddled on chubby legs to her patio area in the open courtyard. He grabbed her wrought-iron table for support and toppled her glass of red wine onto her knitting. “That youngster has the face of an angel, but the devil must have beat him with a cloven hoof,” she lamented, sipping her Chablis.

Walter Natyshyn often related the story, to whoever would listen, of washing his cherry-red Mustang in the parking lot out front of the row housing. He knew the youngster was about on account of the scent of shitty diapers was in the air. He spotted two ragged scratches down the quarter panel and door of his treasure and there was Simon close by, clutching a jagged stone in each hand.

Several neighbours told Vanessa she should take the boy to the doctor and have him looked at. Perhaps there was a pill or salve or suppository that could help set Simon straight.

“Nonsense! The lad’s a wee bit precocious, is all,” she exclaimed. “In fact he’s much like his father was at that age…and look at how he turned out.”

Simon’s father, William Cunningham, hadn’t been seen about the complex since the boy was a baby. He was serving time in a minimum security prison for white-collar crime involving an intricate pyramid scheme, a few million dollars and a dozen gullible investors. Vanessa was often heard to say, “Simon’s dad will be back home soon. The boy is just needin’ a male influence to set him to rights.”

The most regular male influence in the boy’s life was Vanessa’s brother, Dudley. When he wasn’t river rafting in the Canadian wilds or seeking spiritual guidance at an ashram in India he was staying with his sister and Simon. A man full of life and high spirits, Dudley would stay out at the local pub until closing and then sleep until 3 or 4 the following afternoon. During summer break, while his mother worked at the Discount Food store, Simon had unlimited freedom until his uncle finally arose.

Simon thought, one afternoon, it would be a grand adventure to remove the hand-knotted leather, whip from his uncle’s footlocker in the basement. He easily found it lying on top a stack of magazines with naked lady pictures. He put on his uncle’s brown fedora, canvas satchel and leather belt. The hat smelled like cigarettes and old sick but that didn’t bother Simon in the least. He carried the whip to the back courtyard to play with for a while.

Simon swung the whip at the willows; the leaves shimmered to the browning lawn. He also whipped the cherry tree; blossoms rained to the ground in pink tears. He eventually chased after a cat to protect the birds, and then tried to whip the birds just to see if he could hit one. Eventually, though, the birds and cats stayed away and Simon began to whip the fence at the far end of the field that lay beyond the courtyard. He couldn’t see the dog in the yard but heard it barking at him and scratching and bouncing off the fence in frustration.

The lady in the yard shouted at him to leave the dog alone. “I’m Indiana Jones. Don’t fuck with me!” Simon shouted as loud as he could. He laughed at the woman and continued to whip the fence.

There was a loud ‘snick’ and a gate in the fence silently swung inwards a few yards away from him. A wiry, brown terrier trotted into the open field. The dog slowly crept in his direction, showing its teeth and trembling in anger.

Simon tried to whip the dog but it continued towards him, the hair on its neck standing on end. He tried hitting it in an arcing motion only to have the long whip wrap about his left leg with a stinging slap. Tears fell from his eyes and he started to run back to the courtyard. Simon tripped over the whip and fell into a mud puddle. The dog ripped at the back of his pants, tearing away material to expose white briefs and eventually whiter butt cheek. The boy screamed in terror and embarrassment and neighbours emerged from their back porches to investigate the ruckus. There was some amused conversation between the gathering crowd when it became evident that Simon was the victim of the dog’s wrath. Some openly cheered for the dog.

The terrier eventually tired of the game and lifted his leg and peed on the muddy boy. It then turned its back to the boy and kicked tufts of grass on to his back before trotting to his home through the open gate.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lame Excuses...and a Whip

It's now Thursday afternoon and I don't have a prayer of getting a #fridayflash story together for tomorrow. Let me make some lame excuse cite the reasons behind this. This work week has been hellish. The summer months are traditionally the busiest in the construction industry and we are now feeling the effects of this. There is much 'whip cracking'. I could show you my scars but this is a family blog (Pfffhtt!) and I don't want to frighten the widows and small children amongst you.

That reminds me...I own two whips and should post photos of me using them in the garden one day. And I know what you all are thinking right about now... I won't say, but evil thoughts nonetheless. There's a funny story behind getting the whips back into Canada after travelling abroad for 4 months. Three plane flights equaled 3 dealings with security/customs people equals 3 very different reactions to the discovery of said whips in my suitcase. Perhaps I shall write about this one day...

Anyhow...tonight is also Bad Movie Night. Those of you who have followed this blog for a few weeks may recall the last time that I and some other juvenile educated men got together for an evening viewing Zombie Strippers. Tonight I will have supper and then mentally prepare myself for the Bad Movie yet to be named (i.e. I will buy a six-pack of beer). I know that you all will anxiously await my review of this tomorrow. BTW, for those of you interested in proper, serious, reviews of 'B-movies' I point you in the direction of Jameson T. Caine, aka 'Shadow' and his 'B-Movie' Graveyard at his blog Shadow Manor. And if that's not enough, you can link to some of his horror stories as well...

I shall, of course, make the obligatory plea for people working on their submissions to the Land's Edge flash fiction contest to move it along (crack the whip, as it were) and email their stories to me. I am pleased to announce that the grovelling from Sunday's post resulted in one submission. The stories have to be sent to me by the end of the day Sunday, June 20th. That's in about 82 hours, folks (doesn't sound like very long when I put it like that, does it?)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

American Week Farewell *sniff*

Cathy Olliffe is in the homestretch of her American Weeks and her interview with Lou Freshwater is up today, followed by Lou's story 'Lucille.' I highly recommend you check the story out...walk in her shows for a mile or two. Tony Noland is the final feature tonight and I'm looking forward to it.

I am awe-struck at the work Cathy has put into this project the past couple of weeks. Longer, actually. I can't imagine how much research she did with each person to assemble such fine interviews weaving fun, fact and fiction. Many of them were nothing short of brilliant. I'm sure that I'm not the only one thinking she should be working for a big newspaper, putting together features of people for a living. It's also evident she spent a lot of time putting together some very creative photo shop images of the featured writers. She was so busy, in fact, that she had little time to enjoy her hobby: splitting wood. Some of the featured writers follow this blog, so I'm sort of 'preaching to the converted', but if you don't follow the #Fridayflash crowd, check out Cathy's interviews and the presented stories from these fine American writers, essayists, poets, humourists, artists...

It's a bit sad to see the features end as I was having so much fun getting to know some of the writers better through their stories and interviews. I am happy, though, to have learned more about people who's work I have only recently started to follow and to have met a few new friends. Umm...there were a couple of comments on my last post regarding my fez so I decided to unearth a certain photo of me for your amusement and to tip my hat in honour of Cathy's interviews (well...I'm not really tipping it, but you get the idea). I'm sure there's a couple of you disappointed to see that I am wearing more than a clear rain-slicker. And chaps.

Here is a link to Cathy Olliffe's blog Life on the Muskoka River. You can scroll back to late May on her site to catch all of the featured American writers. I have listed them below and you can also link to their blogs by clicking on their names.

Micheal J. Solender~ not from here, are you?

Shannon Esposito~ Murder in Paradise

Carrie Clevenger~ Mindspeak

Mark Kerstetter~ The Bricoleur

Peggy McFarland~ Eldritch Way

Anthony Venutolo~ Bukowski's Basement

CJ Hodges-MacFarlane~ Mostly Other Things

Lou Freshwater~ Baby's Black Balloon

Tony Noland~ Landless

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Contest...Unsightly Begging

I was going to comment about the Land's Edge flash fiction contest at the end of this post...reminding everybody that even though there's only seven days left, it's still not too late to get started on your entries. I thought it better to move this notice up front and center. To grab the attention of the reader from the outset.

Sex... Ok, now that's I've got your attention...

The entries have trickled in the past three weeks since I first announced the contest on this blog. It has reached the point where the Land's Edge judging team meets to read and rate the stories only to end up hopped up on strong coffee, stuffing our faces with Apple Fritters and Boston Creams. Not a pretty sight...

This will be the last announcement for the contest (except for maybe a passing remark the middle of this week) so click on the link above to connect to the contest information, rules, etc (pay special attention to the 'non-spitting on judges rule'...though if it helps on getting more entries I say..."spit away, my friends"...just give me a bit of warning to throw on a rain slicker, rubber boots and ski goggles...)

The lure, of course, are the three novels available to the top three entries. These are books of varying topics of different sizes and shapes. You can link to the prize information here. Remember that anyone can enter regardless of gender, religion, left or right handedness, wearing boxers or briefs or going commando. I'm hoping that the lack of entries is an indication that you all are hard at work polishing your stories to a fine shine just waiting until moments before the Sunday, June 20th deadline...that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

The days are counting down, so get the stories entered. Consider it a public service to keep myself and the rest of the judging staff out of the Tim Horton's. If you're too busy to pen I story...we understand totally. We've all got kids, day paying jobs, dogs needing walking and neutering, etc.

I'm asking everyone, though, to advertise the contest to 'deepen the pool of stories'. Mention it on your blogs or, for those of you using the Evil Twitter technology, please Tweet the contest to your followers (I've only got 32 followers, where I know that some of you have hundreds...) I'd like to thank those of you pimping the contest if I haven't done so previously. Networking is good.

Wow, I've really rambled on here...reaching to the limits of unsightly begging. Pffth! I'd wear a fez on my head if it would help. This secondary topic has gotten kind of long-winded, leaving little space for the main topic. I guess I'll post that one another day.

Friday, June 11, 2010

#fridayflash~The Shabby Man

The Shabby Man

The shabby man limped down the quiet street, pushing his shopping cart with great deliberation. Three wheels rattled on the pavement while the fourth rotated uselessly. Wide maples lined the manicured lawns on both side of the street but they offered the thin, bearded man little protection from the relentless sun.

A cleaning woman walked up the paving stone driveway to Number 67 as she did every Friday morning. She waved to the shabby man and shouted, “How you doing today, Marco?”

He released his grip on the handlebar and returned her wave; the morning sun glinted off the prosthetic steel hook where his hand had once been.

Marco heard a gentle hum behind him. He ignored the car and continued slowly down the center of the street as his rubber boots scuffed off the asphalt. The driver leaned on the horn, causing Marco to flinch, and he slowly made his way to the curb. The Mercedes passed him and pulled into the driveway at Number 38. A young man emerged from the car and pulled a set of golf clubs from the trunk.

The shabby man stopped in front of the young man’s house and removed his tattered overcoat, placing it with care over the handle of his cart.

“Scram, ya bum,” the young man said, a hint of menace in his deep voice. His slicked back hair fell behind the upturned collar of his golf shirt. He pointed at the shabby man, “Are ya deaf? Move along, asshole!” Marco detected a slight quiver in the young man’s hand as he pointed an accusatory finger. His other hand reached towards the handle of a golf club protruding from the bag.

The shabby man considered arguing with the young man, or perhaps even pissing on his lawn, but glanced at his cart and decided he couldn't afford to lose the cash from the recyclables. He didn't want to end up in jail again either. He gave the young man the evil eye for a few seconds and then wordlessly pushed his cart away.

Marco continued down the street and noticed an old man working in an open garage at Number 7. He paused to watch the man spill a plastic bucket of tin cans into a clear plastic bag. Many of the tins missed the mark and clattered on the concrete floor. The old man glanced at Marco for a moment but continued his work. The shabby man began to push his cart forward when the old man shouted to him from the garage.

“Hey, hold up a second,” he said, shuffling down the driveway. “That’s quite a collection of recyclables you’ve got there.”

Marco shrugged. “I’ve been collecting them from the streets and parks since last week.”

“That should get you a bit of money.”

“Yes, sir. At least 12 or 14 bucks I reckon.”

“What will you do with the money?”

“I’ll buy some cheese and meat. It’ll get me by until my next cheque.”

“Very good. I notice you pass by here regularly. Maybe you can help me out.”

Marco shrugged. “What do you want?”

“I was going to haul these bags to the recycle depot, but I’d spend a half hour waiting in line and I’d burn up more in gas getting there than what I’d make. Could you take these in for me?”

Marco eyed the man suspiciously. “I suppose…do I get to keep the money?”

“Yes, of course,” the old man said with a chuckle. “And here’s something extra for helping me out.” He offered the shabby man a folded up five dollar bill. Marco used his hook to gingerly pinch the money from the man’s fingers and slip it into his shirt pocket.

“The name’s Mitchell, by the way,” said the gaunt, old man. Marco nodded in return, noticing the old man’s yellowed skin.

The men hauled four bags of recyclables down the driveway and Marco piled them high atop the collection already in the shopping cart. Mitchell waved goodbye to Marco from the garage. As Marco waved back he noticed a grey-haired woman watching from an upper window of the house.

For the next several Fridays, Marco found clear bags of recyclables half way up Mitchell’s driveway. There was always a small envelope taped to one of the bags with a crisp five dollar bill folded inside. The grey-haired woman always peeked from the upstairs window as he loaded the bags in his cart.

One chilly, October morning Marco discovered no bags awaiting him. As he stared at the empty driveway the wind caused the curled, brown leaves to whisper around his boots. The sound reminded him of the desert sand during the war. He continued on his mission.

The next Friday there were still no bags. And none the week after that. Marco figured the grey-haired woman had finally put an end to his arrangement with Mitchell.

By mid-November, Marco had layered another jacket on top of his winter coat and wore a black toque to keep his head warm. The street was lined with cars down both sides. He noticed an elderly couple carrying a dish of food up to the front door of Number 7. The old grey-haired lady greeted them with a tight-lipped smile and glanced past them at Marco. He nodded and continued up the street to the recycling depot.

After collecting his money, Marco stopped into the dollar store and bought a bouquet of plastic flowers. He polished up a small sheet of tin he had found in a garbage can and fashioned it into the shape of a heart and slipped it over the stems of the daisies. He left the arrangement at the front door of Number 7 and pushed his cart back towards the men’s shelter.

The following Friday, Marco found a bag of recyclables in the driveway of Mitchell’s place. He opened the attached envelope and found a five dollar bill and small scrap of paper. ‘Thank you’ was written in small, precise letters. Marco glanced at the upstairs window and noticed the curtains flutter. The shabby man tucked the note and money into his shirt pocket with his hook and slowly pushed his cart towards the depot.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Al's Brain on Comics...

It's a sad state of affairs that instead of working on this week's #Fridayflash I am scanning comics to post on this blog [sighs]. My work ethic sucks. But it's for the greater good.

Cathy Olliffe has been doing a tremendous job the past few days profiling, interviewing and presenting American writers at her blog. She has been showing sides of these people that have not been seen by their readers before. The adventure continued today as she presented Mark Kerstetter and his story Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. And stay tuned for a few more days as Cathy has a fine selection of #Fridayflash writers yet to put on display.

I have always maintained that you can also reveal much about a person by studying their sense of humour...or lack thereof. I recently unearthed an old scrapbook from the damp Davidson cellar. I started this repository of comics at the age of 17 and continued until I was about 30. I couldn't scan many of the comics as I had glued them down with rubber cement. That combined with the yellowing of the paper makes them fairly unreadable when scanned. I present to you a rare glimpse into the brain of moi and what I find funny. Those of you of the same 'vintage' as myself may remember some of these from 'back in the day'.

Of course, I must acknowledge the artists: Mr. Gary Larson from his famous The Far Side strip, Mr. Berke Breathed of Outland fame and Mr. Dik Browne of Hagar. The only picture not attributed to these three was the gerbil picture by Mr. Emerson from Penthouse (honest, it was my room mate's magazine...I just perused it for the comics). I hope you get a chuckle or two. Do notice the odd writer reference and the ones about dogs...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Pondering Death

I'm fairly sure that I've mentioned here in the past that I read the obits from the London Free Press, the daily where we used to live (yep...morbid, but a hobby nonetheless). I discovered yesterday that another person I knew years ago has passed away. We weren't close. He was an ex-cop who was a supervisor for a security company I worked for 18 years ago. As a matter of fact, he hired me on. There was an 'economic downturn' back then and I was very grateful for the job as my unemployment money (aka pogey, or the dole) was nearly used up.

Of course dying is a part of the life-cycle. We all do it at least once. As we get older we discover that friends and relatives are dying all about us and we ponder our own mortality. Or something like that. Isn't the old saying that these things happen in threes? AVD was the third man that I used to work with that has died since Mid-March. Same with celebrities...Gary Coleman, Dennis Hopper and Rue McClanahan all died within 6 days of one another. Anyway...enough of old wives's tales. This has put me in the mood for a horror story.
I have unearthed a micro-flash story for your reading enjoyment. It was my first story to appear online in the spring of last year. FlashShot has a 100 word guideline but I have added a few words and reworked the story to change a couple of things giving it more symbolism (I hope). It's amazing how better something flows with an additional 16 words.


The Dream

I have the dream nightly. It has been so since my mother’s death four days ago.

I lie sleepless on the floor of a dark cave. I hear a shout of pain and jump to my feet. As I move to the entrance a small mound rises beneath the stone floor. I approach it but the slate turns to grass and the lump becomes a pile of soft earth.

Today is mother’s funeral. I drag my damp body from the sweat-soaked sheets of my bed. As I walk towards the bedroom door I stumble and fall to my knees. There is a mound beneath the shag carpet. I gently touch it with trembling fingers. It moves.


OK, moving on to a more upbeat topic....I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but I'd like to remind everyone the deadline to enter a story into the Land's Edge flash fiction contest is only two weeks away. If you're going to enter a story, you'd better get cracking. All you #FridayFlash people! Get to work on a flash story...or I'll have Cathy Olliffe do some creative photo shopping to one of your pictures. You just never know what you'll find on the Internet...

You can link to Contest information here.

You can link to a description of the ever-popular Newfoundland fiction prizes here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Weep for the Wip

You mean that it's not Wednesday any more? A bit late for a WIP now. I'm pronouncing it 'Weep' by the way to indicate that the story, yet again, will not be ready for display with the other #fridayflash offerings this week. It's a sad, slice-of-life tale involving a man and a shopping cart...that's all I'm at liberty to say. All I have is a page of rough notes and still must get my butt in gear to type out a first draft. You know, I've always wanted to name an evil or villainous character in a story Mr. Aswipe (pronounced Ass-Weep-eh?). No villains this time, perhaps next time.

My excuses this week? The damn workload. And the fact that half my brain is mulling over the World Cup 2010 pool being held back at the main office. Hmm...who's gonna win this year? If any of you have the inside scoop, let me know. As with the hockey pool, I will again play for the glory of the victory as there won't be cash involved ;)

If you're a #fridayflash contributor, you'll want to check out Eric J. Krause who is being featured today at Life on the Muskoka River as part of Cathy Olliffe's 'American Week'. He sure looks purdy dressed up like a cowboy! Enough said...

And speaking of #fridayflash...if you contribute stories to that fine pool of writing, or even if you don't, I would ask you to consider entering a flash story to my Land's End Flash Fiction Contest that is now underway. This is a way of getting your story out there to a group of readers who will rabidly link to it and madly Twitter about it...and... prizes of Newfoundland fiction can be won...Ooo! Aaaaaa! Wicked! Submissions should be sent to me by Sunday, June 20. You can link to my blog posting with the contest information here. You can also link to the descriptions of the book prizes here, sent to you personally by moi. Don't be shy. I know ya wanna enter...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chicago's Cauldron of Blood

After all the American talk of the past few days, I have to slip back into my Canadian clothing...ah, that's better. Stylishly conservative. I am compelled talk of hockey once more before the end of the season.

I wasn't planning on posting anything today but I ran across a story this morning by Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski at Yahoo! sports about the fountain in front of Daley Plaza in Chicago. Apparently dye was added to the fountain a couple of weeks ago to honour the Blackhawks and their push towards the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately the water ended up a hot pink colour...the second attempt yielded better results, the water being described as a 'cauldron of blood'. How's that, you horror writers! Click on this link to read the full story.

For the record, I have no allegiance to either Chicago or Philadelphia. But I'm leaning towards Chicago in support of centre Dave Bolland, formerly of the London Knights back in juniors. I had the pleasure of meeting him once when my dad and I volunteered as drivers for the Memorial Cup (Canadian junior championships) hosted by London in 2005. I got to drive him and Dylan Hunter (son of Washington Capitol's great Dale Hunter) to the arena for their final game against the Rimouski Oceanic (led by the now famous Sidney Crosby). So...Go Hawks!