Feb 152014
 

“Halloween’s still three months away,” Lauren said. She took a step back and looked at the decorations Grant had put up. “By the time it gets here, that’ll have long rotted.”

“That’s the idea,” he said. “By the time it gets here, this’ll look like a real graveyard. Full of ghosts and overgrown and scary.”

“Like that one we had to clean up for our community service,” Lauren said and shuddered. “That place was haunted.”

“Ghastly,” Grant agreed and flashed her a smile. He’d loved it, that unkempt graveyard. Sure, Lauren had been intrigued by the headstones—well, the ones she could read, anyway. It had been a Civil War graveyard, but whoever had buried the dead had been kind. They’d taken the time to put names on the stones. How, Lauren didn’t know. It couldn’t have been easy. There had been so many of them.

She remembered the atmosphere of that place. Quiet, like all graveyards were. But there was something else. Being there had made her hurt. Ache. And not just because, like most of her friends, she didn’t believe in war. War was stupid and pointless.

Being in that cemetery had driven that point home. And the fact that war is cruel, too. Lauren had come out of there feeling unsettled, awkward with herself. She’d felt like they were supposed to have been changed by a day cleaning up weeds and helping to stand marker stones up again, letting the world know who had been there before them and why they’d died.

She’d felt like the dead people were trying to talk to her.

She shuddered.

Grant noticed. “You still creeped out by that place?”

“Yes.” She nodded at his pseudo-graveyard, the one he wanted to let rot until Halloween. “And I feel like this… it’s making a joke out of it. A cruel joke. People died there, Grant. And then people forgot. They walked away. They stopped caring. And it took us, doing a day’s community service, to go clean it up, and for what? So someone can forget again?”

“If you’re telling me to give this up and go drive five hours again so we can maintain that graveyard, forget it. It’s not my job. Or yours.”

“How do you know? What if those are your relatives buried there?”

“Lauren, my grandparents came here long after the war was over.”

“Yeah, but how do you know you didn’t have family here, and they left?”

He shook his head and started to walk away.

Lauren let him go, staring at the small patch of ground with the painted styrofoam and the newly planted kudzu. He’d regret the kudzu, that was for sure. Kudzu buried things, made it impossible to see them. And what you couldn’t see, you could forget.

Part of her would always see that graveyard, the one they’d cleaned. She wouldn’t forget. Maybe one day, she’d go back and take care of it again.

A cold, creepy feeling ran across the top of her scalp. Historic or not, it had been scary.

Maybe Grant was right. Maybe some ghosts needed to be left undisturbed.

This was a Three Word Wednesday post.

Mar 292013
 

Some new characters I’ve been playing with… tell me what you think of them. Yes, they are part of the Trevolution!

Priscilla felt lame. That was the only word for it. Lame. As in: uncool. Tragic. Loser. It took her right back to life with Gregg, when he’d managed to convince her she wasn’t good for anything—but, at the same time, she had to maintain the image of the perfect housewife. Wear the high-end designer suits, have lunch with the ladies, have manicures, pedicures, facials. Use a personal shopper. And on and on.

It had been all about maintaining his image.

All that was so far behind her, she wasn’t sure why she was standing here on the edge of Zephyr’s studio, feeling inadequate as she looked over his latest creation: a new bedframe.
He came to stand beside her, crossing his arms over his chest.

“It’s beautiful,” she breathed.

“Yes,” he said.

She tried not to let his usual terseness bother her. That was who he was; Zephyr wasn’t a man of many words. Cassandra said it was the way he’d been brought up: measure what you say. Make sure it’s worth saying. She’d said the only time he forgot that instruction was in bed, that he lost control of his mouth and his words wouldn’t cooperate with the austere life he’d been taught to lead.

“What are you going to do with it?”

“Cassandra will call the family who commissioned it. She’ll handle it.”

“I want one like it.”

He looked at her, uncrossing one arm from over his chest. “You do.”

She nodded. “I do.” She licked her lips—and realized this was what was causing the lame feelings. She wanted a bed by Zephyr. She wanted a bed for Zephyr, and a bed with Zephyr.

But first, she had to be able to afford a bed by Zephyr, and they both knew she wasn’t there yet.

“I’ll let you know when,” she said. “You are not to make me one as a token of our love or anything.”

“A man should make his wife a marriage bed,” he said. “That way, it’s sacred to them both.”

She paused, not sure how to take that. Was he hinting at something? Insinuating that the people who’d commissioned this had been wrong to? Was he passing judgement on how and why people cheat?

“And what should a wife do? That’s a big gesture, to make a bed. What’s her contribution?”

“The quilt,” he said. “The sheets. The pillows. Each brings something vital that makes the experience complete.”

Priscilla nodded. Life with Gregg hadn’t been like that. Not really. He had brought money and image. She had brought his image to life. She hadn’t been allowed to contribute. Not the way Zephyr meant.

She turned her head and looked out the wide door of his workshop. “So Cassandra will handle it all from here? Getting it wrapped up and shipped out of here?”

He nodded once.

“The payment?”

He nodded again.

Priscilla tried not to sigh. Why was she expecting Zephyr to share his financial arrangement with Cassandra? Sure, she needed to know so she didn’t make any mistakes with her own business, but this was Zephyr. He only spoke when he had something of value to offer. He’d made it clear more than once that his business wasn’t of value to Priscilla.

He believed in hard work, and once upon a time, Priscilla hadn’t been afraid of it, either. But then had come Gregg.

Zephyr moved away from Priscilla and started examining pieces of wood. He’d lost interest in her brooding, not that she blamed him. And he had more work to do, another project to get started. Another marriage bed, or a book case, or one of his famed dining room sets. Priscilla didn’t know.

She left his studio and went back to the cottage. He wasn’t the only one with work to do.

That resolution let her feel a lot less lame.

This has been a Three Word Wednesday post. Be sure to see what others are up to. And don’t neglect the #FridayFlash crowd, either!

Mar 082013
 

The past few weeks have been devoid of fiction or Roadie Poet here at the blog because I’ve missed my usual Thursday night writing time.

Last night, I sat down to write something for Three Word Wednesday, and … hated the words. Brutal, grope, and transfer.

Those are some dark, dark words. Too dark for me to go near right now — me, who usually doesn’t shy away from the dark stuff (you’ve met Trevor, right? Seen the undercurrent there?).

So… I’ll work on some long-form stuff instead. New characters… unless you guys WANT a third Trevor novel?

Demo Tapes 4 will appear in April, right on time. If my awesome cover artist, the lovely Lakota Phillips, comes through… she’s the awesome artist and Trevor devotee who did the cover for Demo Tapes 3.

Feb 152013
 

Most of you haven’t met Vanessa Kontempt yet. You still won’t; a train wreck like her is going to be hard to write. But here’s a member of her entourage, someone new on these pages.

The room looked like someone had gone on a rampage. In fact, someone had. Three someones, to be specific.

Fuelled by too much alcohol, too many groupies, a heaping mound of cocaine, and a morbid desire to be the next to die at age 27, Vanessa Kontempt had been the one who’d started it.

As usual.

Freddy and Lurch had joined in, as usual, and now here was Adrian, left to pick up the pieces, smooth the ruffled feathers, and fix everything. As usual.

“I thought it was the tour manager they called the asshole,” he muttered as he took in the damage. He held his breath, waiting for a light bulb to fall out of its socket or something, but it seemed it was all over. Damage done. Vanessa, Freddy, and Lurch had been rolled out to the bus and Stiffy was holding court to make sure they wouldn’t get off the bus and wreck something else.

They’d warned him before he took the tour. It wasn’t going to be easy, and it wasn’t going to be pretty, and that’s why they were offering the extra hazard pay. That hazard pay… it wasn’t enough. Not really. Not for having someone like Vanessa in his life on a daily basis.

Adrian ran a hand over his bald head, loving the smoothness. He should have known when he’d shaved that morning that this would happen. Vanessa always had to wreck his good moods. He swore it was some special talent she had. Like she’d come poke around, realize he was in a good mood, and get to work on how to ruin it.

“You the one I gotta dick with?” the in-house guy asked. He was maybe thirty, but he was wider than he was tall. His breath rasped even when he wasn’t talking, and every word was a wheeze. Adrian had spent the day making everyone else deal with this guy.

Yet more karma biting him on the ass.

Karma, Adrian decided, wasn’t just a motherfucker. It was a sisterfucker, a daughterfucker, a sonfucker, and a fatherfucker. All rolled into one.

“Yes,” he sighed and stared the guy down. Truth be told, he looked like a wonton.

Adrian decided karma was even worse than he’d imagined. Until that moment, he used to jones for Chinese food.

“Let’s not make this so bad,” the wonton wheezed. “Your divas wrecked a table, the couch, and five chairs. We gotta wash down the walls and clean the carpets.”

“Show me the receipt from the last time the carpets were washed,” Adrian said, his hand rasping against his stubble. Bald head, stubbly cheeks. It spoke for him.

The wonton shifted, a cumbersome prospect at best. “Now, I don’t think we need to be that particular.”

Adrian crossed his arms over his chest and cocked his head. He’d picked up that move from the movies, but it hadn’t failed him yet. “I do. Cough it up.”

The wonton held out his hand, trying to stall the tour manager. “Now, now, I thought we weren’t gonna make it so bad.”

“You show me proof that the carpet was cleaned in the past month, and I’ll add it to the bill.” Adrian didn’t change his position.

The wonton licked his lips. “Well, now, we got us a problem. Your divas went and poured a Red Bull across the floor in the hopes of turnin’ it into a ant parade.”

“Red Bull?” Adrian raised an eyebrow. “Where’d that come from? There aren’t any energy drinks anywhere in our rider.”

“Maybe it was a Coke.”

“Maybe you’re blowing air up my ass in the hopes I’ll cave and let you pull one over on us. But Vanessa’s management’s paying me so that won’t happen, and since they’re the ones paying my salary, you can take your Red Bull and shove it where the sun don’t shine. If you can get your fat arms that far around your own body.”

The wonton’s wheeze got louder and his doughy face turned red. “There’s no need to get personal.”

Adrian leaned closer, getting down to the wonton’s eye level. “I haven’t even started to get personal yet.” He grinned. “Want me to?”

That did it. The wonton licked his lips again. The red drained out of his face, leaving it whiter than the cocaine had been.

“The table, the couch, and five chairs,” Adrian said. “By my count, we’re talking seven hundred.” He took a step closer to the wonton and held his breath. Someone had forgotten to stick the leftovers in the refrigerator, and it was ripe.

“Nine,” the wonton wheezed.

“Seven.”

“Eight fifty.”

“Seven.”

“Eight twenty-five.”

“Ever feel like a broken record? Seven.”

“Eight?”

Adrian hardened his face.

“Seven fifty?”

He ran a hand over his stubble again, making it rasp.

“Seven,” the wonton said with a wheeze that might have been a sigh. “But you have to leave Dodge within half an hour.”

“We’ll be gone as soon as I set foot on the bus.”

The wonton counted out the cash. The full amount, and then he very deliberately counted seven hundred back. “You won’t even miss it,” he wheeze-grumbled.

Adrian grinned at him, his special grin. The one he saved for when he was proving that tour managers were assholes. “The only thing you’ll miss is having to pay the poor schlub who’s gotta drag the next beat-up couch out of the storage closet. The red one’ll look great in here.”

The wonton’s wheeze was more of a gasp and for a second there, the guy looked more like a fish two minutes out of water than a wonton. “What–? How–?”

“I been around, dumbshit.”

Adrian folded the cash and tucked the wad into his bag. Shaking his head, he turned and left the production office for the bus.

“Adrian,” Vanessa said when he got on. “Think we can find some Chinese food before we hit the highway? I’ve got a craving for some…” She bit her lower lip, her eyes darting back and forth. For a second there, she looked cute. Vulnerable.

“Wonton soup?” he asked tiredly.

“Hot and sour,” she said thoughtfully.

“Hot and sour, it is.”

This was a Three Word Wednesday post. Be sure to stop in and see what else is happening in this cool community.

Feb 082013
 

I keep thinking I’m done writing flash featuring the extended cast of the Trevolution, but then something like this comes out.

It was a joke. It was supposed to be an easy joke, the kind that didn’t backfire and embarrass the mastermind. But a joke. Nothing more.

The idea of stealing the other school’s mascot had been done to death back in the 1950s. Back in the days when the school mascot was an actual animal and not a fuzzy suit worn by the guy who thought being a cheerleader was the best way to get girls. Besides, they’d have to pay for any destruction done to the mascot, and making amends like that wasn’t Kerri’s style.

Kerri didn’t know how her planning had overlooked him. She had grabbed her usual accomplices, and even snared the head lunch lady into helping out. Soon, the entire cafeteria staff was involved. They should have thought to work together to make sure this didn’t happen.

The plan was simple: take the day’s allotment of mashed potatoes and, once they were cooked or stirred or whatever the lunch ladies did to make them that perfectly paste-textured mess, Deke would turn it into a sculpture of the rival school’s mascot. He was always bragging he was a better artist than Kerri. This would be his chance to show the entire school. Until their classmates got set loose.

Deke didn’t know it, but those individually-wrapped pats of butter, set on cardboard and with the wax paper over top, were in position to be fired at the sculpture rather than the ceiling. Total destruction.

Deke might not have forgiven her, but at least the matter would be settled. No matter how bad the entire high school hated the Vikings, they’d never fire the butter pats at a sculpture Kerri had made.

It should have been perfect. It started out that way. The lunch ladies cooked. Deke sculpted. Kerri snuck out of class on a bathroom pass and gave it a thumbs up, especially when she stuck a finger in the butter pats and found them the exact right temperature for sticking to what they were thrown at.

And then Fat Douglas walked into the cafeteria.

Kerri got lucky; she was there to see it. To stare in horror as Fat Douglas—who’d earned his name because he ate so much, by rights, he ought to be the fattest person on the planet—took a spoon and dug in.

He started with the Viking’s right horn.

Three spoonfuls in, Deke finally noticed him. “That’s art, you motherfucking loser!” He launched himself at Fat Douglas, who was the skinniest kid in the school, except for maybe Amy the gymnast, who was determined to not-eat herself to death.

Fat Douglas’s spoon went flying. So did Deke and Fatty, right under the table nearest the stage. A dull thud told Kerri they’d just rolled into the edge of the stage.

From her vantage point, it looked like Deke and Fat Douglas both gave as good as they were getting. That surprised Kerri; she hadn’t expected either of them to have the first clue how to throw a punch.

The bell rang, and students entered the cafeteria. People paused when they saw the statue. They cheered when they saw Kerri—and then they ran over to Deke and Fat Douglas and egged them on.

Kerri wasn’t sure how long it went on or who ran for the principal, but he waded in and broke up the fight.

“You’re coming, too, Broadhurst,” he said as he escorted Deke and Fat Douglas out of the cafeteria to a very loud Bronx cheer. “Don’t think I don’t know any better.”

Kerri shrugged and followed them to the principal’s office. It wasn’t the first time she’d been summoned.

The principal sat Fat Douglas and Deke in opposite corners, then pulled out a chair for Kerri. He set it perfectly in the middle of the two boys—and directly across from his seat. Which he sat in and pulled up more closely to his desk. Leaning his forearms on the top surface, he leaned forward and fixed Kerri with a glare.

“I have one question,” he said in a deadly voice.

Kerri licked her lips, not sure where this was going.

The principal turned to Fat Douglas. Out of the corner of her eye, Kerri watched the color drain out of the kid’s face. She almost fell sorry for him. Almost. Taking a bite out of Deke’s sculpture hadn’t been particularly smart.

“How’d it taste?”

Fat Douglas broke into a smile, even though the look on the principal’s face was enough to melt the mashed potato sculpture. “It needed salt.”

This was a Three Word Wednesday post. Be sure to stop in and see what other cool stuff was created this week.