Category Archives: Walter

Walter Fiction: The Envelope Event

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My friend Mary made a derogatory statement about some of the LA wanna-be types who are so desperate to belong to the scene that they’d attend the opening of an envelope. I loved that idea. Attending the opening of an envelope. I’ll probably get more fiction out of the idea than this one scene.

Walter let Lila help him shrug into his familiar black leather blazer. She freed his ponytail from underneath, and took a minute to wrap it around her finger, as if doing that would make it curl.

That was Lila’s way. It reinforced her sense of order in the world, playing with his ponytail like that, so he smiled as he tolerated the gesture.

He hoped there would be more smiling once he entered the ballroom. He’d never done this sort of thing before and frankly, he wasn’t sure he wanted to. Lila had been forced to give him something to calm his nerves.

Walter Cichewski could stand under a spotlight in front of thousands of people. He’d been doing it for years, in fact. There were days when whatever Dr. Rosen had given him made him feel as if he was moving through sludge, but as soon as he stepped onto that stage, it all melted away and he was young again. His energy came back, better than any rush from any drug he’d ever been handed.

This was something different entirely. He had to step out there, not in front of fans, but in front of television cameras. Instead of fans, every person in the room would be part of the media. There’d be no one to introduce him. It would be him, just him, and no music to make.

Walter hadn’t wanted to agree to do this. But Lila and Dr. Rosen had agreed with his manager: it was good for his image. Good to remind the media who he was, that he was still making music, that Walter Cichewski was all about the best music out there.

“You’ll be fine,” Lila said, leaning forward to kiss Walter’s cheek. Her lips brushed at him more than anything else, reluctant to mess up the slight makeup she’d put on him, declaring him too pale to be visible to TV cameras.

Walter didn’t answer. He watched the people in charge stare at their watches, lips moving as they counted down. He watched two of them, one dressed in a butter-yellow skirt suit and the other in jeans and a t-shirt, black lanyard around his neck, move to the door. The suit motioned Walter forward, her eyes still on that second hand. Jeans motioned him to stay until the suit gave the sign.

“Hello,” Walter said, walking up to the podium. He knew his shoulders curled, that too many years of hunching over a guitar had destroyed his posture — which had been hopeless from the get-go. Walter had never been one to stand proud.

He picked up the envelope that had been placed on the podium and smiled. He introduced himself briefly, then said, “You’re all here to watch me open this envelope today. What’s inside will affect the careers of musicians all across the industry. Please help me in congratulating every last artist whose name is inside here.”

He could feel the media-types hold their breath and lean forward. The people in the back rooms would be pleased with him, Walter knew. He’d done better than they’d hoped for, building up the expectation.

With the flourish they’d asked for, he held the envelope up and made a show of opening it. He pulled out the papers inside, unfolded them, and began reading the list of Grammy award nominees.

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Be sure to stop by Sunday Scribblings, where this week’s prompt is The Event. And then stop by Weekend Writer’s Retreat, too. There’s good fiction happening around the Internet these days!

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Walter Fiction: Regrets

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The scene had played itself out the same way so many times, Walter knew it by heart. As soon as it started, he’d close his eyes and be transported back to that first time, when the twenty-year-old kid had stood there, splay-legged, one hand wrapped around the neck of a bottle of Wild Turkey, swaying.

“You’re gonna regret this, you old fuck!”

“Old?” He would kick himself later for not being able to come up with anything better than that, but at the moment, all he could do was wonder how on Earth someone who was thirty could be accused of being old.

“Yeah, old! Too fucking old to know what I’m worth! Either pay me more or I walk!”

Walter waved his hand in circles in the general direction of the door. “Walk on, brother. We had a good time together. I hope you learned things from me.”

The kid had thrown the bottle of Wild Turkey at the wall. The added defiance of the sound of the breaking glass and the sight of the amber liquid on the wall made him grow three inches. “I’ll show you, you stupid-assed motherfucker!”

“I hope you will,” Walter said placidly, pressing his fingertips together and touching his lips with them.

Lacking anything else to make a show with, the kid lost those new inches and stomped out of the room.

“Walter?” Rich, his bass player had said. His eyes had been big, terrified, his voice low and scared. “What do we do now? We’re on in an hour.”

“Didn’t you tell me that kid was hanging around again? The one we jammed with last week?”

Rich’s eyes widened. “But…”

“Trust in providence,” Walter said. “Or that I knew this was coming.”

“How?”

Walter smiled. “The dummy left the offer to join a new band someplace where Lila happened to see it.”

“Where was that?”

“His guitar case, in that hidden compartment we all deny having. Go get that kid. We have to go over the setlist with him.”

“Do you go through my shit like that?”

“I don’t go through anyone’s shit,” Walter said. “And you’re not using me as a stepping stone for glory, so there’s no need for Lila to.”

The bass player stopped and considered that. “No,” he said at last. “I’m not. How do we know the new kid won’t be?”

“Oh, he will be. It’s the nature of the guitar player. They want the glory, all of it, and for themselves. You watch. He was only the first. Every single one of my guitarists will follow this path.”

And they had, down to the same scene. Oh, the bottles of liquor changed. Some of them didn’t make that dramatic arc through the air. The guitar players weren’t all blonde and green-eyed like that first kid had been. And Lila hadn’t had to dig up anything; Walter had learned to read the signs, to know when it was time for them to move on.

Through all the transitions, there was always someone immediately there, ready to step in. Ready to be the next apprentice and to help Walter maintain his own glory as the guy who helped develop some of the best guitarists to ever play rock and roll.

No, he thought as the latest new guy was escorted in, there’s nothing here to regret at all.

Ahh, Walter. We don’t see him around here nearly enough, don’t you think? Use the Cast tab up top to see more of him.

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Walter Fiction: The Approach of Spring

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“Walter,” Lila said, “the equinox is next week.”

“I know, love.” He looked up from the crossword puzzle in the morning paper. “We’re set for it.”

“Are you? You haven’t left the house in a month. How can the band be ready for next week if you don’t practice?”

“We’re pros.” Of course it would be fine. It always was. He’d been playing with this group of guys for years now. The Vernal Equinox Celebration always went well.

Lila knew better than to push it. Just as spring came slowly every year, so did Walter and his music. Spring meant the beginning of his touring season. Come August, when they’d all had enough, he’d take another month off, join everyone at the Autumnal Equinox Celebration, and then spend the winter holed up in his basement studio, creating a new album.

And then, just like the way the Earth turned, Walter’s musical cycle would begin again.

If the Earth didn’t need to practice for all this, why did he?

Springtime, awakening… how aware of the changing seasons is an aging rocker, anyway? That’s what inspired this. For more Walter, visit here, here, and here. And stay tuned; in my file of saved stuff I need to post one day, I’ve got at least one more piece that features him.

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Fiction: Walter

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First off, I’d like to say that She is NOT getting the Thinking Blogger award for this post.

Secondly, if you weren’t here yesterday and are wondering who Walter is and how he fits into the grand scheme of things, scroll down and read yesterday’s Thursday Thirteen. That should give you the background you need, but really. You can blame it all on Wylie. I’m not calling this an outtake because… I have no idea what it is yet. Maybe an outtake. Maybe the start of something longer. Tell me if you want more.

And anyone who catches the reference to another TTer and writer wins a cheer.

There was no doubt about it: Walter’s fingers were stiff and sore come morning. In some ways, they didn’t feel like fingers at all, but like claws, or those skinny little bird’s toes, all red and rumply. The sort you stared at as they moved, presaging disaster.

A few of those pills that Dr. Rosen had prescribed worked wonders. Over the years, Walter had learned not to ask what sort of pills Dr. Rosen was giving him. They worked, they got him through, that was all he needed to know. They gave his fingers their life back so that the show could go on.

Walter rolled over in bed and grabbed for his cigarettes and the lighter with the big, arthritis-happy flicker. The show… ahh, the show. The one that they said would tank, not last all these years. The one they said that fifty-year-olds had no business performing.

Tell that to Rat Catcher, Walter thought with a smile. They were as old as he was, had been at it as long as he had, and could still rock the house. Maybe not as long or hard or with as much energy, but they could still rock.

So much for those preconceptions of youth, Walter thought. Better to die before the aging process set in. Better to hang it up before age 40, just because 40 was when you got too old to have long hair and play the guitar for more than ten people at a party held in your living room.

It was funny to hear the young kids who came to play with him or just pay homage. A lot of them still believed those old tales. They’d blurt out something stupid like that, firmly inserting their feet in their mouths, all the while completely oblivious to it.

Walter and Dr. Rosen would have themselves a few good laughs about it later on. Sometimes, Lila would join them for those laughs, but usually, she held back. Lila wasn’t much for laughing at anybody anymore, least of all the young kids with stars in their eyes. She’d learned the hard way how that sort of behavior could backfire on you.

So had he, which is why Lila and Dr. Rosen were the only people he laughed with. Over the years, as his acquaintances had grown, his trusted inner circle had shrunk. People were too fast to sell you out, to crawl over you in their own race for the top.

How many times had he sat down with an eager young kid who wanted to be his next disciple and told that kid that being on the top didn’t matter? That having a steady, loyal audience and a consistent sales level was where it was at.

They’d always point out that in addition to a disciple, Walter himself was always latching on to a new hot guitarist with a huge following. They never got that it was all about marketing, that the idea was to use the hot guitarist to draw in new fans, many of whom stayed once the hot guitarist had cooled and drifted off into obscurity or a spot playing behind true has-beens like Jim Shields and Terry Fantillo.

The only ones who stuck around were the smart ones, the ones who did a stint with Walter and then went on to create their own band. Or to join a band with staying power, like Rises the Night.

He’d seen all sorts of kids over the years. The cocky ones, the quiet ones, the sex-obsessed ones, the junkie ones. He’d learned. And he’d survived.

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