Terrific Tuesday to You: Writing Updates, Shout-Outs, and Some Markets

Open for Business_blog.jpg

And to think: I actually dimmed this somewhat to take down the brightness.

Well, hello there! I shall have been returning and I have returned. (?)

But seriously, welcome (back)! I’m glad to have you visiting me.

On top of the busted ankle, so to speak, I’ve been doing copywriting out of my ears. Not titillating writing, but it certainly helps with the bills. And the Randys, Adams, Jakes, Simons, etc. (Or should I say with the GEs, Maytags, and fine furniture everywhere on the Internetz and on this great little dot we call a planet?)

Anyway, since I love doing the writing market posts, I figured what the heck. I’m behind in weekly posting once again. This is a good way to go, methinks.

Perhaps these will help you? I do hope so. Continue reading

The Wordsmith’s Weekly Wramble in Words and Pictures

It’s been awhile, but as I love October, the time seems ripely right. So, another catch-all post. I’m considering doing the 6.66 days of horror fiction at the end of the month as well—and maybe even NaNoWriMo—but we shall see.

Think of this as a kind of Monday Markets, although it isn’t. Hope you enjoy what could be the beginning of a more consistent and beautiful blogging and reading relationship . . .

The Wordsmith’s Weekly Wramble

Publications & Awards (you, me, and any every-body*)

  1. MY SHORT STORY “MUZZLING THE MONSTER” IS BEING PUBLISHED at the end of this month, in a steampunk and horror anthology called Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires (by Mocha Memoirs Press), and I’m thrilled and honored to be included. I literally cannot wait to see what the ghost-gears-grimoiresother storytellers have concocted for the book. And, in a first in my writing career, there’s even a creepy, cool trailer for this anthology, designed by the talented Terry Phillips. I’ll let you know as soon as I know acquisition details (sounds like something a Ferengi would be interested in, eh?).
  2. THERE’S ALREADY A TON of books out there, right? But you don’t want to waste your time with poorly edited or conceived works either. Thankfully, that is far from the case here. Although I am biased in the sense of having been a beta reader of this book (and her previous one), I am once again happy to champion Sarah Potter’s speculative fiction offering, this one christened Noah Padgett and the Dog-People. (I also hope to have Sarah over to the blog very soon, as her schedule allows!) Although NPATDP is aimed squarely at middle-grade readers (or accelerated 7-10 year olds), there’s every chance as an adult you will enjoy this romp through the world of Canis sapiens, in a dimension something like ours but curiously tipped. Will the human boy, Noah, make it out of Zyx alive? Do tell! . . .  I’ve done a review over at Amazon, and you lucky folks & blokes in the UK can get a deal on the book right now, with free delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books. So, whatever are you waiting for?
  3. HAVE YOU READ? Resident WordPress poet Robert Okaji has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, for his poem “Two Cranes on a Snowy Pine”! Even though Bob might profess to be an ordinary person—and they, too, can be nominated for and win a Pushcart!—his diction, structure, and nimble enjambment techniques boggle the brain. Do check out his latest offerings at his blog, “O at the Edges.”
  4. PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR! WordPress humorist and author Hugh Roberts is releasing a book in early December 2016. If you’re a reader of Hugh’s blog, you know that some speculative fiction and otherwise wacky, wild, and wee-urd jellybabies (I mean, stories) await! More on all that Welsh Winter Wonderfulness at Hugh’s post, and you’ll find a slew of other books to add to your lists (chosen by Hugh).

 

Markets & Other Interesting Things

Depending on your time, desired compensation, experience, genre, word count, and so on, markets are your bread and butter. Your mead and meat. Your nectar and ambrosia. Your cake and icing. Your chutney and naan. Your Dornish wine and saltfish. I really shouldn’t blog while I’m hungry, should I?

  1. DeadLights magazine. This is a new market. They have hatched a nonpaying weekly short fiction market, called “Shotgun Horror Clips,” as well as a paying short-story one for the DL magazine. Citing influences from King and Straub to Barker, Jackson, et al, they clawed their way high up my horror-writing market list. The specifics about submitting paying short fiction, flash, art, and CNF for the magazine can be found here. For the Shotgun Horror Clips, check this link.
  2. More horror: Pseudopod, dubbed “the sound of horror,” is seeking your first-form, A-level, Big League, Premier League speculative fiction in the weird, gory, dark, violent, thrilling/unsettling vein. Got a time-traveling Jack the Ripper? Oh, wait. That’s been done already. But give them your absolute best, with emphasis on the dark and macabre (less comedy, more tragedy), and see if you can hit the really high notes with this HWA and soon-to-be SFWA approved market (professional rates, mind you!). Before you do submit, do get a really good feel for what they like. One of the writers I enjoy and follow, fictionist Aeryn Rudel, recently had a piece called “Night Games” converted to audio and featured on Pseudopod here. Think vampires and the desolation of the pitcher’s mound in baseball and you might harness a scintilla of this story.
  3. Interesting things:
  • Eavesdrop on F/SF writer Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn series et al) as he instructs on topics ranging from the business of writing to plotting to world-building and more. It’s as if you’re taking a master class but you can be introverted at the same time!
  • #HoldontotheLight: Did you know that 100+ authors of SF/F are blogging about mental illness and wellness this month? The matters touched on range from PTSD to anxiety to suicide. I can attest that these issues surface time and again in the science fiction and fantasy communities. If you’d like to join the movement, as a reader, commenter, contributor, or otherwise, one fitting place to start is writer Gail Z. Martin’s link round-up.
  • You might not know it, but there’s a campaign to create an exhibit and anthology of women’s science fiction writing, with confirmed participants as illustrious as Jane Yolen, N.K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, and a bevy of others thus far. As I write this, the “Catalysts, Explorers & Secret Keepers: Women of SF” project is raising funds and in the process of kicking off a call for submissions by or featuring strong female protagonists, including those from the stellar authors mentioned above. Now here’s a campaign to fund, if ever there was one!

It is time, or far past it, for me to close this post. *If you’d like to plug your own latest publication in the comments, please feel free.* Just don’t try to sell Russian watches, Cialis, or other male enhancement paraphernalia there.

See you in the funny papers . . .

fm-1-cropped

For those times when you want to look like Freddie Mercury with a sore shoulder. Maybe it’s under pressure?

recordplayer

Remember these console record-players? You never know what you’ll find at Goodwill.

 

And, Finally, An End

Fortunately, bad things sometimes

victory over allergies

I declare victory over allergies!

come to an end. Even allergies!

 

In my sitting-about over the last week and a half or so, I have come to some salient conclusions about life (and maybe the universe and everything). So, I’m thinking, why not share my willy sisdom silly wisdom with the world.

 

Thus, I offer you my brief-ish spin, in list form, on being under the weather, which I hope you’ll find amusing. Goodness knows, the world needs a smile or two these days.

12 Signs You’ve Entered the Allerpocalypse

  1. Even your allergic shiners have allergic shiners.
  2. Provided you can still speak, you have gone from falsetto to baritone in one day (without experiencing puberty).
  3. You have enough balled-up tissues in the trash can to fill a life-sized R2-D2 every hour. (RIP, Kenny Baker.)
  4. It is very possible you’ve watched enough cruddy television to detach twenty retinas and wipe multiple minds of intelligent thought.
  5. Your head feels both curiously full and egregiously empty. It’s as if Lizzie Borden has given your skull 40 whacks but has left the axe blade there on the last one, like you’re some 20th century Phineas Gage.
  6. Speaking of skulls . . . at this point, you are 100% willing to undergo skull trephination to let out the evil spirits (lovingly dubbed Mucodon and Sneezmodeus).
  7. At one point you’re so delusional you imagine you’re George R.R. Martin and accidentally almost kill yourself with a pen.
  8. You hallucinate that your neck has started filling with bilgey ocean water (including all the plastic crap therein) or else it’s split open and the top of your head’s fallen off.
  9. Like Logan, all you’re seeking is sanctuary. Freedom from mucus is a human right, by your reckoning!
  10. You realize tears are just fate’s way of reminding you you’re not dead yet (hope springs eternal).
  11. It’s possible, you think, that you’ve invented a new ‘holistic’ treatment modality— 21st-century cupping—wherein you drape a towel over your head while putting your face in a steaming hot cup of tea (or toddy or whatever works for you). And unlike Bill Clinton, you did inhale.
  12. All in all, the important thing dawns on you: At least it’s not a/the Trumpocalypse.

With that said and done, I hope to begin visiting and commenting on all of y’alls blawgs that I’ve been sad to miss during my involuntary absence. Keep up the creativity! 🙂

 

 

Time Travel Limericks: Week 29 Challenge

The gauntlet is thrown! Consider yourselves challenged to write, or read, a time-travel limerick (or two, or three; be loquacious like me).

I first read about the time-travel limerick challenge on Sue Ranscht’s blog (thanks, Sue!); she re-pointed me to a blog I’ve been following for awhile (but am not always able to participate in). So, as this one was particularly inspiring, you see the results below. Do visit Rashmi’s post at Mind & Life Matters for the limerick-y shenanigans, with yours due by Friday (tomorrow!).

***

Once there was a lady from before

Whose friends thought her a bit of a bore

‘Til she found a tunnel to after—

that didn’t incite laughter—

now she turns down parties galore!

***

There once was a man from Then

whose 20-year wife always nagged “when?”

Fortieth anniversary planned to Niag’ra

(He’ll bring the Viagra).

On his wife he’d (eventually) put a grin.

***

The scientist had turned time to taffy

to stretch moments to maximum happy,

but as joys got longer

so, too, did the wronger.

Thus, she concluded the methods daffy.

 

 

Tuesday Taproots and Some Haiku

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I missed last week’s photo challenge from Hugh, depicting ‘glorious,’ so I’ll leave this great horned owl photo here. Enjoy!*

Hi, everyone. Now that May (short story month) has concluded, I’m retiring.

I kid, I kid. To your chagrin! But to be nonfacetious, I’ve been fairly creative—wedging in writing time and, perhaps even more valuable, reading time—in the interim. Amid camps and classes and appointments (oh my), I’ve found a way to make it work. Somehow. I hope you all are doing the same in your creative and life endeavors, however they may mesh.

I’ve got a story debuting (details to come) online, on approximately June 18. That is exciting, and I’ll let you know more when the publisher okays it. It might not be to your taste or, contrarily, it might be just the panacea Dr. Dystopian ordered.

Anyway, in the meanwhile, some haiku I’ve worked on. A few do contain mature language, Continue reading

Limerick Challenge, Week 12—Dream

Long time, no see, dear readers. I hope spring (or autumn, if you’re in the Southern hemisphere) is treating you well.

I’ve just come out of editing land for a brief fly-over of this blog, and a limerick has settled in my mind. So that’s what you get for this posting. You have the Doc to thank (or not!) for inspiring this limerick. It’s part of the Limerick Challenge, week 12, orchestrated by the wonderful Rashmi at Mind & Life Matters. Do follow her for limericks, novel updates, and much more, and be sure to read the limericks she has on offer.

I don’t deviate too far from the ‘original’ limerick idea—insulting, bawdy, etc. But that’s my impression.  What do you think?

bottle2

A genie or?

Limerick for the Loveless

I once met the man of my dreams

But what he was, was not what he seems

Said he’d grant wishes

(Including doing the dishes)

In retrospect, I shoulda reached for Jim Beam.

 

Literary Q & A with a Presidential Candidate: Donald J. Trump

Caution: Some readers may find this satire and its interviewee crass, condescending, racist, sexist, and/or otherwise offensive. Look up his ‘real’ interviews, Twitter feed, or Webpage if you’re so inclined.


 

Literary Q & A with a 2016 Presidential Candidate

©Leigh Ward-Smith, 2016

Interviewer: Good morning, Mr. Trump. Thank you for speaking with me, here in my own kitch—

Trump, interrupting: It’s shabby, but it’ll do.

Interviewer: Okay then. You’re a very busy man, so let’s get right to it.

Trump: You’ve no idea. B-yutiful Bombardier Global 6000.

Interviewer: Uhhh, what?

Trumpkin

U.S. Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump(kin)

Trump: My business jet. They had to clear several gates for me at your penny-ante Lambert Airport. Lightweights, just like Rubio!

Interviewer: Well, uh . . .

Trump: Can you get me a coffee?

Interviewer: Excuse me?

Trump: I said, go get me a coffee. Tall latte.

Interviewer, wondering if she looks like a barista: Um, okay. (gestures to husband to get the Keurig going)

Interviewer: Let me start with this, Mr. Trump. I’m a Southerner and a woman—

Trump, interrupting: Yeah, I noticed. You know, if you’d just smile more, add some make-up, fix up your hair. My b-yutiful daughter Ivanka could give you some great tips. You’ve probably never even heard of her line of Trump cosmetics, called Bella. I’m told it’s Italian for b-yutiful.

Interviewer, continuing: Yes, well, I’d like to focus on Virginia Woolf’s idea of “a room of one’s own,” that each woman needs—and must demand—a space of her own, whether it’s creative and imagined or in the business world, like your daughter Ivanka has done [hurriedly, so as not to be cut off], so what do you say at this moment to women voters? Is there a war on women?

Trump, fixing hair: Was there a question?

Interviewer: Yes, I was talking about a room of one’s own and—

Trump: Oh, yeah, Ivanka has a helluva lot of those. They’re great. I’ve given her five houses, you know. That’s just this year.

Interviewer: Yes, well, what I asked is, how do you talk to regular people, the voters? In particular women?

Trump: Like I would anybody else. [Looks at his watch]

Interviewer: Can you please be more specific?

Trump: It’s a Richard Mille, you know.

Interviewer: Who is?

Trump: The watch. But you wouldn’t know that. Kick-ass timepiece. Wonderful. Very expensive. About $600,000. Chump change.

Interviewer: Okay. Moving along. I’m a former English major, so I have some literary questions for you.

Trump: I love speaking English. Fire away.

Interviewer: There are many sociopolitical books of merit. Just in the 20th century in the English language, to mention but a few, we had All the King’s Men, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm, Elie Wiesel’s Night, Catch-22, The Handmaid’s Tale, Brave New World, even Babbit or The Great Gatsby

Trump: Oh, yeah, that was terrible.

Interviewer: I agree, the totalitarian world of Animal Farm, with some animals more equal than others, was frightening. As was The Handmaid’s

Trump: No. What he did there. With the women. With the drugs in the drinks.

Interviewer: Pardon?

Trump: What are you, retarded? The black guy, hey-hey-hey [attempts “Fat Albert” impression, sounds more like Gilbert Gottfried], with the drugs. . .

Interviewer: Oh, you must be referring to Bill Cosby.

Trump: Bingo!

Interviewer: I don’t think I mentioned Bill Cosby.

Trump: Yeah you did. The Great Cosby you said. I heard you. The books. [Color rising to bright orange] THE BOOKS!

Interviewer: Oh, yes. (sighing) The Great Gats-by.

Trump: Whatever. You knew what I meant. Hey, is that coffee ready yet?

Interviewer to husband: Is it ready, hon?

Husband, speechless or incensed, brings over a mug of French vanilla light-roast and sits it at the four-person table.

Interviewer: This’s the best we got. No latte. Um, sorry [to self: I guess].

Trump: It’ll do, but I bet it’s terrible. [Hands it to an aide, presumably for poison-testing.]

Interviewer: Well, then, let’s move forward with a few more questions, if we can.

Trump: Good. Make sure you get me from the right-hand side.

Interviewer: Okay, will do. Are there any modern characters, television shows, anything, with whom you identify?

Trump: Oh, sure. What’s-his-face. The guy.

Interviewer: What guy?

The DudeTrump: The dude.

Interviewer: Oh, you mean Jeff Lebowski, in The Big Lebowski movie.

Trump: No, no, no. Jesus, don’t you people ever get out?

Interviewer, getting annoyed: What do you mean by that “you people”?

Trump: You female-type people, with brains coming out of your—

Interviewer: Now, wait a minute, there’s no reason for ad hominem here.

Trump: Whatever. I don’t even know what that means.

Interviewer, to self: Clearly.

Interviewer: Um. But back to the question.

Trump: Oh, yes. My . . . what-do-you-call-it . . . servant . . .

Interviewer, offering: Aide? Assistant?

Trump: Yeah, yeah, yeah. They watched for me. About Bannister, the dragon show. That’s it.

Interviewer: Oh, Lannister? From A Game of Thrones. You identify with Tyrion Lannister?

Trump: No, no, not the nipple-high one. [Makes a horizontal hand gesture indicating height.] The head honcho. The big cheese. The dad, T-something.

Interviewer: Tywin. You mean Tywin Lannister.

Trump: Hey, don’t get me wrong. I don’t like China, but the blonde chick’s got nice tits.

Interviewer: What? Who? Nevermind. I’ll just take your word on that.

Trump: You should. ’Cause I’m going to be your president soon. You know, America’s gonna be great again. Better than China, better than India, Russia, all those other places.

Interviewer: Yeah, about that. Let’s get into closed-mindedness. There was a high-school basketball game last week, I think, in Iowa, and it got racially charged, with the predominately white audience chanting “Trump” to taunt African-Americans on the opposing team. Did you hear about this?

Trump, smiling: Yeah, I saw it. My aide showed me YouTube. It was great. Like Trump steaks. You ever tried those?

Interviewer: No, I don’t eat beef. As to the important question . . . is a high-school basketball game the best time for racial invect—

Trump: Anytime’s the time to say what I say. Don’t you broads get that yet?

Interviewer: Uh-huh. If so, let’s see what you say about racism and inequality in this country, about building walls.

Trump: That Pope! [rolls eyes] I don’t have time for him. I’ve said what I said, look up my exact words. I stand by it.

Interviewer, to self: For all he knows, I was talking about Stalin.

Trump, soothing hair from a kitchen breeze: Get this straight, missy, ’cause I’m talking to you. I don’t beat around the bush. [smiles] The establishment doesn’t like me. But one thing I’m not doing—what I’ve never, ever done, period—is stalling. None. When I decide, I succeed.

Interviewer: Unh-hunh.

Trump: Anyway, who likes basketball? Mostly freaks.

Interviewer: Excuse you?

Trump: I mean, look at those people. Hormonally challenged. Except that LaBaron James. I like him. One of my sons is named Barron. That big black guy, you know, he could help me make America great again. But, let’s get real. Putting a little ball into a basket. Lemme tell you, with me as president, it’s gonna be amazing. Big balls. All. The. Way.

Interviewer: Sounds like an AC/DC song.

Trump: I’ve no idea what you just said. (snaps fingers, assistant comes over)

Trump, to interviewer: We almost done here? I’ve got important places to be.

Interviewer: Well, I—

Trump: You ever see The Apprentice? You’ve got a TV in this dump, right?

Interviewer: I do, but no, I’ve never watched it except clips on the news or that kind of thing.

Trump: Figures. I’d have fired you a long time ago.

Interviewer: Well, my husband and kids seem to think I’m an at-least okay human being, even with brains coming out of my whatever.

Trump, grimacing: I have children, too. Love ’em. Somebody else raised them, of course.

Interviewer: I see. Does this mean that, as president, you would be for a stronger Family Medical Leave Act in America, where fathers, mothers, or caregivers can get paid time off for, say, the birth of a child or the care of a relative?

Trump: Look at the Trump Tower, Trump casinos, Trump University. I hire a shitload of people. Whadda ya think?

Interviewer: I asked you a question. You’re the candidate, not I.

Trump: Not me.

Interviewer: Not me what?

Trump: “Not me” sounds better.

Interviewer: It does?

Trump: To me, it does.

Interviewer: And that’s what matters?

Trump: Of course. Who’s in charge is all that matters. And that’s me.

Interviewer: Ever read Humpty-Dumpty’s dialogue in Through the Looking-Glass?

Trump: I don’t like kiddie lit.

Interviewer: Through the Looking-Glass is by mathematician and writer Lewis Carroll, and it’s not exactly a children’s book. About Alice, the Red Queen, and logic, perception, and reality.

Trump: Carroll who? The comedienne?

Interviewer: Nevermind. Let’s move along.

Trump: Hey, you, we done here? [looking at assistant, who gives an “I don’t know” shrug.]

Interviewer: One last quick question. What’s the “J” in your name stand for?

Trump: John.

Interviewer: Oh, like John the Baptist?

Trump: No, I’m Presbyterian. For fuck’s sake, don’t you people read anything to prep for interviews?

Interviewer: Alrighty, then. We’re done here.

####THE END####

You Like Me? Really? Wow, Thanks!

2 of Our Ducks

“Do you think she understands what I’m saying?”

Thank you, Dhan’yavāda, Danke schön, Gracias, Merci, Arigatō, xièxie nĭmen, Shukran

Despite that headline and to take tongue out of cheek for a moment, this post is actually about two main things: being thankful and being forthright.

First, I can’t adequately express my gratitude to you all. Regular readers, irregular readers, once-in-a-whilers,  or those for whom this blog has been a one-hit wonder or no-hit blunder. (Oh, and might I also recommend Activia, kefir, or other probiotics? I’ve had kefir, but not the others, though I have heard they work well for sluggish colons. No, not the punctuation type.)

In truth, I began this blog as a “what the heck/why not” experiment, with really zero hypotheses. Scientific method and all that. I was encouraged by a family member to start it — probably to keep me sane and to preserve his last remaining wits that living with me hadn’t yet flayed away! — so I can’t even claim it was an original idea. Never mind all the excellent — many far more so — WordPress writing sites that already existed before Leigh’s Wordsmithery was a glint in this copyeditor’s eye.

I really expected nothing, except that it would be nettlesome. Even painful. To share oneself, even through fiction, as the old saw goes, is easy. Just open a vein at your keyboard. With or without the saw.

And so, I thank you for welcoming me, taking me in like the wordulous and scrappy orphan I am, and giving me the firm roof of friendship. It has been sublime to follow your blogs likewise, to see your comments gleaming in my e-mails like a prism where I can peek at other perspectives, and to learn about you and from you. Even from afar.

In short, you all have helped me grow (no pun intended). So, the sole reward or award that I need from you all is one big heaping helping of being-present, when and if you can. I haven’t always had that in my life. Many of us bloggers haven’t. So, lest I fall into my own pity party, I just want to say. loudly and clearly: I appreciate you all and wish each one of you the best and brightest life has to offer.

Honesty is Not a Lonely Word

Presuming you have read this far — hey, I said I was wordulous! — honesty is not a lonely word, because we’re here together, experiencing these slippery letters, which I think that we craft together (I engineer the form, you make it function; conversely, if I’ve goofed, you let me know). I hope we’re not sharing these moments in the Stephen Crane-heart-in-a-desert sense, mind you.

I owe a lot, just short of everything really, to you, readers and friends. I haven’t been ignoring y’all, but I do have to sheepishly admit that I’ve been nominated for a few awards since I started blogging at WordPress in January (2014), by several kind and generous souls.

In no particular order, these good folks have gobsmackingly nominated me, lo these 10 months of WP blogging: Frankie at Trucker Turning Write, Swoosieque at Cancer is Not Pink,  and the Exquisite Priyanka. I am awed and very grateful that the images and/or writing here have been meaningful to these readers in some way. These bloggers have made me blush, but in a good way. Please do visit these writers whenever you can; I’d be happy to know you did.

Now, I thought it might be fun (and I hope not tedious for you) for me to do a very brief interview with myself, since the requirements of so many of these awards are that you share yourself with your readers. (Gawd, the height of arrogance am I, a Q & A with myself! I have to smile.)

And now, seven “deadly” factoids about me, which you may later wish you’d never read:

Yep, that's me. Post-run.

Yep, that’s me. Post-run.

1. As a kid who was a “tomboy,” one of my early pastimes was baseball. Playing and watching (and collecting). I shared the love with my grandfather, whom I have old audio tapes of when I interviewed him about seeing Babe Ruth play.

2. Our family has 6 ducks as pets. They give us eggs, companionship, and fascinating vocalizations and observations.

3. I was once “arrested” for playing spy at nightime when I was about 9 or 10. The neighbors called the police for, presumably, “strange small person hanging out in a tree near our driveway.”

4. My husband and I took Shaolin kung fu for several years (as adults) and really enjoyed it. I also learned a smidge of Cantonese from Hong Kong cinema, which I still love.

5. I have a weird aversion to styrofoam and, perhaps not so weird, heights and flying. Also, flying in a styrofoam airplane.

6. In college I hoped to someday work as a writer for “The Simpsons” television cartoon/comedy. I have a partial episode or two I wrote still lying around somewhere.

7. T.S. Eliot is (directly/indirectly?) responsible for at least $400 of my lifetime writing income. A flip of the penny for the old guy.

Again, all the best to you. And my deep appreciation to Sally Field, from whom I cadged the headline. Have a great weekend and be kind to each other and our planet. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Me and the Running Man

runningman (1)

No, not that one!

 

First he was smiling. Then falling.

If his pelvis had been a shovel, the heave of dirt would have landed on me. I had just pressed the rectangle of the angry red “stop” button with my knuckle. My water bottle, mobile phone, and balled-up borrowed towel waited in the recesses of the treadmill to the left and right of the console.

His cell phone started it all. He stepped on the adjacent machine. From the peripheral view, he looked like Alex, a guy I knew in high school who later went in the Army and lost lots of weight. He was a sandy blond with close-cropped hair. About 6 foot tall and barrel-chested.

He started his workout routine, then within about 15 seconds, the phone dropped like a lead zeppelin (mind you, he wasn’t on the stair-stepper to heaven) and flew off the back of the treadmill, looking like a small, sailing gray claymore mine before the steel balls explode out of it.

Thunk, whirr.

I turned at the sound, and our eyes collided. His were an electrocuted blue. Still, he smiled.

Perhaps that was his biggest mistake.

He hit hard on his left hip, which I guess was better than hitting face-first or knee-first, the latter of which I’ve done on a home treadmill (or dreadmill, as I often call it).

In short, his manparts were probably saved, but I doubt his pride was. He bounced off the back of the treadmill and out into the aisle as I winced inwardly.

Of course, he didn’t need help. He was a dude, and, as such, refused my knobby little proffered hand. Two other people, both women, rushed over to his aid. Perhaps it was his lucky day, or his unlucky one, depending on how he narrated the situation to himself.

Either way, I second-guessed. Should I have called out I’ll get it, then hopped down and scooped the phone off the sparkly blue carpeting? Should I have looked at him? Did I breach gymnasium etiquette by not ignoring the phone-drop? Could I have done anything to prevent his fall? Should I have grabbed at him as he fell? (Yeah, as if I could have stopped him.) Do I dare to eat a peach? (Never mind those singing mermaids.)

I apologized to him and asked him if he was okay. At least twice.

I was sorry I’d seemed to distract him, I said. Or perhaps that’s wishful thinking, in addition to being at least a little self-centered.

In any case, now perhaps I should go polish my best Blanche DuBois accent. With fading youth as my focus.

Clearing throat and rolling out the drawl (yes, I’ve still got it way down in the bag of tricks):

“I don’t want realism, I want magic! . . . Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be truth. And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it!” (from “A Streetcar Named Desire,” by Tennessee Williams)

 

 

 

Silly Sunday Short Fiction: The (Ob)Noxious Saleswoman

A shortie here that I did, but never submitted, for some once-upon writing challenge about “painted into a corner.” No umbrage meant to salespeople (been there, done that). But hope you enjoy!


Before I even realized it, I was backed up against the “Tutus for your Dog” display. Lemme tell you, butterfly patterns were unbecoming to my backside.

Sage interrogated the air around me, and peach punctured my nostrils.

“C’mon, hun, these make great gifts for anybody,” she implored with an ‘I’ll get-you-my-pretty, and your little dog-too,’ come-to-me waggle of her finger. My silent, snarky rejoinder: “Yeah, right. Great for anybody whose nose has suddenly harakiri’ed off the precipice of their face.”

My eyes pleaded with passers-by, who glided (glid? glode? Can’t think words times like these, just slinking, weaving, eerrr, twist torso, get away, ahhhh) by, wayward swans leaving luxe in their wakes. My bony hand gripped my daughter’s small wing-like one and wrenched it forward and away from the sweep of that coal-ash discharge pipe of a woman with thickly painted eyelids and spiked fingernails. The latter I knew because they’d raked my flesh, and four ashen furrows now bore proof.

Quick! Bulk lunging left to block way! Mooooovve, kiddo! I pitched my left hipwhere I’d once cradled her gelatinous bodyinto Maddie with a masterful mommy shove. All pelvis and pinched-up nose. (“Anger-danger face” her little brother would call it.)

“This is the last straw,” I at last lobbed to the pushy potpourri-candle-perfumery saleswoman who was now arcing right. “Leave us alone!” came out a bit louder than I’d intended.

Then we turned and fled down a bisecting aisle, making like two 80s-era moms chasing a blue-light special on Cabbage Patch Dolls on Dec. 24th.