27 December 2010

2010-2011 Retrospect and Plans!



Photo credit: seemann from morguefile.com

2010 was a full year of—what exactly, will take more than more sentence. There were triumphs, losses, surprises, and hardships I haven’t really experienced before.

  • Published! (In no particular order)
  1. Best of Friday Flash ‘09
  2. Howl – Tales of the Feral and Infernal (Lame Goat Press)
  3. Daily Bites of Flesh 2011 – Pill Hill Press
  4. The Yin Book – Chinese Whisperings (imprint of Emergent Publishing)
  5. Various free e-books and ‘zines produced by peers in the industry

  • Promoted! At my day job, with a new region of responsibilities. I also went to the night-shift.

  • Husband found a job after nearly two years of struggle!

  • Flash-flood total loss of our other car prompted my first solo finance of a new vehicle.

  • New, more spacious apartment on Christmas Day.


Great things happened to me this year. I learned new things, met new people:

  • I gained a greater appreciation and understanding for social networking. Facebook has become a new favorite haunt. I attribute 98% of my blog traffic and writing career to Twitter.

  • I made a good deal of new friends, notably in or from New York and Australia. I also started looking in my own backyard and made a few connections in the Austin music industry.

  • I learned about the music industry, received a guitar to start practicing on, and continue to research in hopes of improving the final version of Crooked Fang.


Speaking of Crooked Fang…

PLANS FOR 2011


  1. The Album - Album-writing is in process. My chosen musician (who chooses only to be known as “K.” right now) is a veritable genius at guitar, bass guitar, song-writing, and has the sound I’ve been looking for.

  1. The Book – The book Crooked Fang will be based on the free story previously posted at www.crookedfang.com. Currently with an editor for slaughter appraisal/approval.

  1. The Merchandise – It is possible that merchandise bearing my own custom Crooked Fang logo will be available later this year. I will keep you posted on this. Better news, look for a free Crooked Fang sample mp3 for download by spring 2011.

Support Crooked Fang by continuing to repost, retweet, and sharing the website url with everyone you think might be interested in the story. Support independent press!

More blah-blah-blah (as yet unconfirmed)

  • I have good intentions to produce a fresh new novella-length story for another independent press. I’m tickled pink that they even asked me if I was interested.

  • Further work on unannounced Emergent projects. (I consider Emergent my home-base)

  • Continue my studies with music, music history and influence, and especially my newest passion—music production.

If you’ve read this far, cheers! Your care and support is grandly appreciated. I cannot thank my friends and colleagues enough for their support. I cannot repay my family for the time I take to pursue my arts, but they are outstanding in their complete tolerance and understanding.

Thank you all! Without you, I’m nothing.

Carrie Clevenger
Austin
Christmas Day 2010

16 December 2010

Knock-Knock

There's a knocking going on. I've tried to ignore it. Squashed a pillow over my head to suffocate it, but I can't get away from it. It taps through the threads of the sort of thing that an ex could do and that is follow you wherever you dared to flee. It's driving me crazy and even though I try to ignore, it insists on having its fun as it beats on my door.

It sounds like when the dice are thrown across the floor, kinda soft like that but then a little more louder and sturdier like knuckles on oak or the drop of a token on a polished bar counter. I guess what it amounts to is that no one else can hear it, so they've told me I'm little loose up there and there's nothing to fear, just to steer clear of hallucinogens and especially the old whiskey and the occasional beer.

I can still feel it thumping through my feet and the bottom of my padded seat, this tenderizing-meat-sound, that's all in the air and swirls around till I'm thinking there's just going to be nothing left…

Ah. So we finally meet, Death.


Photo credit: fieryn from morguefile.com

"Frankie's Girl" #Fridayflash

Me and the boys suited up in civvies and strutted off the carrier in style, looking to find some fine dames that loved GI's. After taking a stroll to a pay phone, we split a cabbie to downtown where the dance halls smiled out at us in a blaze of neon and sidewalk callers, all touting a drink or two on sale--that one there had ladies' night, and this one here had cold beer on tap.

It was before the television set showed up in society enough to keep us from looking at each other and just stare at that boob tube, suckin' down Bloody Mary after dry Martini. My pals knew I had some crazy tastes, and that included girls. I liked them spicy and fast; smoky-eyed, red-lipped, leggy blondes, with their pretty little skirts and their carefully coiffed hair. I enjoyed the heck out of mussing that hair-do up time after time.

This girl was different. I almost tripped over my own tongue, even though she wasn't a blonde. She was a sultry brunette and wore her hair down over her shoulders, a blue ribbon in her hair to match her eyes exactly. Ivory skin, untouched by age.

I felt like all the air had been sucked out of me and replaced with furnace exhaust. She was a pretty girl, heck pretty didn't even scratch the surface of who she was. I fell back off of my stool, staggering around like a newborn calf, with hands comprised of all thumbs and a tongue as dry and swollen as last month's stockings. Somehow I managed to reach her side where she perched on the red velor-topped-chrome barstool. The bartender smirked at me and retreated to the opposite end of his work station, content to watch me bungle this meeting up from a safe distance, far beyond the potential fallout radius. I mumbled something not in the way of thanks and rested my elbows on the bar, my brain chugging in high steam, desperately scrambling for something smooth to say.

What would Frankie say? I mumbled to myself, unaware that it was also out loud.

“If you're gonna flirt sailor, best to start with talkin' to me instead of yourself.”

She turned her body towards me, uncrossing and crossing her legs again, a gay blue scarf tied casually around her swan neck, peering at me through the sweetest blue eyes I ever did see.

“Care for a drink?” I asked, smacking dry lips before she shoved her drink towards me instead. I hesitated, eying the twin, slim red straws poking up out of it.

“Go ahead sailor. I ain't got cooties. Not any you should be worryin' about anyway. You look like you need it more than me.”

I almost could hear my neck creak as I screwed my head up and down, grinding my teeth in anticipation of some crazy dame's drink. My smile must've clued her in. It was rum and Coca-Cola.

“It's been a long time since I've tasted that,” I said, and she waved it away when I tried to give it back.

“It's ladies' night sailor. In case you don't know, all my drinks are free.”

“All the girls get free drinks tonight?”

She shrugged and looked around us. She was the only dame in there, and we were surrounded by drifting clouds of smoke, and the sweet strains of jazz filtered in through a radio in the corner playing some late night show. I never heard it before, but never forgot it.

“I'm Doris,” she said and held out a delicate hand expectantly; it was the way we treated ladies back then, when they still wanted to be sweet delicate things for us to cherish and protect. I bent my head to kiss her cool skin, taking in a noseful of air to enjoy her scent.

“Is that Frankie?” she asked, jerking her hand out of mine to leave me blinking in surprise, a kiddish smirk spreading across her perfect cheeks, like she was up to something. She pulled me off my stool, suddenly on her feet.

“Dance with me sailor,” she said in a low purr close to my ear. I shook off a shiver.

“By the way I'm And—“

My words were stifled by her finger held against my lips.

And I don't need to know. And you don't need to tell, do you sailor?”

“Do you do this often?” I asked in a rush of breath, pulling her hand away from my mouth.

“Shh sailor—it's my song.”

Want to know what happened next? "Before Sunrise"

The Complete Work "Before Sunrise" A Completion

(Now if you read "Frankie's Girl", this is what happened afterwards...)

That Old Black Magic was playing on that radio and I could barely hear it, so she made a turn-it-up gesture to the bartender who couldn't stop staring at me, now that I'd broken the ice. Jealousy smoldered in his beady dark eyes. I almost stuck my tongue out at him, but Doris pulled me into a heated dance, and I was swirling her around me, her skirt blossoming over and over; the sweet smell of martinis and fancy Paris perfume, heady and bizarre, inscribing forever in memory of what a perfect girl could be. She was perfect, and she wanted me.
My pals knew better than pry me away from my new obsession and all but tiptoed past our huddled forms there in the darkest corner on their way out the door.
You got someplace to be tonight sailor?” she said, breaking our kiss to light a cigarette, her azure gaze intense in the dying of a bent match. She offered me a cigarette, and I accepted, even though I didn't smoke. I was willing to do just about anything to make sure the night never ended. We smoked and drank, and we talked about me. I don't think I learned much beyond her name and the fact that I was in love with her.
She had a car outside, a long black car, shine on the half-moon hubcaps and another place to kiss and feel what I hoped would be mine before sunrise.
After an hour of heavy petting, me wearing some of that blood-red lipstick, we were chased out of the parking lot and she drove us down to the dock, my hand creeping up her slender thigh. She smiled and parked behind the service building, and we slid over the leather interior of her car, our bodies tangled and slippery with sweat.
“I have to ship out tomorrow,” I said as we shared cigarettes and whiskey from her compact silver flask.
“I know,” she said, cutting those limpid pools of the bluest damn blue I'd ever seen at me. “Sometimes you just take a moment, y'know?”
“But I don't know a thing about you,” I said, hearing a whine enter my voice. I wanted to keep her close to me for always.
“I travel a lot,” she said finally, giving me a half-roll of her eyes and an innocent smile. “Chances are, I'll see you at least once more.”
I bit my lip and nodded, squinting at the brightening of the sky, like a slow light reluctant to wake up, and I just wanted to turn it off, fall back in her arms, and stay there.
I didn't. Instead, I stepped out of the car, ignoring the faint creak of the shocks relieved of my weight, shut the door, and leaned into the window.
“Bye Doris. I hope I see you again.”
She lit a cigarette, releasing a delicate plume of smoke from between her lips, red as apples in Washington.
“It's time for me to go,” she said, and nodded at me. I backed away from the window and strolled back down to the carrier, whistling a gay Sinatra tune, hands stuffed deep in my pockets.
The day was long, and I did my duties with a weary smile on my face as we sailed farther and farther away from shore. Doris. Doris. Doris.

My mind was branded with those ruby lips. Her silken fingertips. Her smoky breath, sweet with citrus. A day passed. Another day passed, and another still. The light she ignited in me burned slowly, dulling as the years passed, to a burning coal deep in my heart.

I finished my stint with the Navy and returned home to the states, where I met a sweet girl from Indiana named Joyce and married her. We started a family and life progressed beyond slow dances to the tinny notes drifting from a radio, to the point of sitting in a recliner, slack-jawed at whatever crime-thriller happened to be on television.
Still, I always kept Doris in my heart.
At sixty-seven, my smoking habit caught up with me, suddenly and violently, landing me in the Sisters of Mercy hospital. I had less than a month to live. Joyce came to see me as much as she could, but with the kids still living at home, her course was set. I lay propped up by pillows, my ruined lungs struggling to support my system and supply me with oxygen, sucking as deep as I could on the aerator.
The sounds of my pulse beeping over the monitor annoyed me, and I called for the nurse to put it on silent so I could sleep for the night. But it wasn't Kathryn the nurse that walked through my door. It was Doris, not a day older even though fifty years had passed.
“I told you that you'd see me again,” she said, that kiddish grin bringing tears to my eyes.
“Don't look at me like this Doris,” I said, though I was convinced she was obviously an apparition of a desperate dying brain.
She stepped forward, and my eyes took in her modern dress: royal blue, wrap-style to match those radiant azure irises. “You're a mess sailor,” she purred and stood at my side, her cold hand talking mine. I couldn't help but gaze longingly up at her.
“How?” I whispered.
“How am I here?” She smiled, her lips the same color as when I'd seen them last; her hair was still dark as a raven's wing, but shorter, with less curl. “I guess that is a hard question to answer. I could ask you why you're here,” she said, her blue eyes cutting left and right to take in the sterile surroundings.
“I'm dying Doris,” I said, dark anger descending upon me, unbidden. “I started smoking after I met you, and here I am. A lifetime later, I'm dying, old, and used up while you stand there just looking as pretty as you did the night I met you. Leave me alone Doris. Let me die in peace.”
She appeared to think, cocking her head in curiosity. “Are you in pain?”
“Thanks to the morphine? No.”
“No need to get sore, sailor,” she said, that adolescent grin creeping to her cheeks again. Seeing her here, at this age made me feel old and perverted. We couldn't have been more than seventeen back then.
“My name,” I gasped, “Is fuckin' Andrew, Doris, but you wanted to keep that knowledge secret. You never wanted to know my name. Why?”
Her gaze dropped to my hospital-issue blanket, somewhere between the color of ash and a robin's egg. She picked at a loose thread.
“Don't make this harder than it has to be, sailor. Everything will make sense. Come with me.”
She tore the IV tube and needle from my hand with a protest of sticky tape. I rose from the pillows, strangely invigorated by that touch, and found my feet before stripping off the heart monitor. The machine protested at once.

Nurse Kathryn rushed into room 203 to respond to a request from an old WWII veteran to silence the beeping by his bed, so when she heard the error tone coming from his doorway, she wasn't alarmed. That easy demeanor changed when her eyes fell on an empty bed. With a startled gasp, she wheeled around on rubber-soled sensible shoes and rushed back to the nurse's station.

I rode in silence as Doris drove the long, lean Cadillac towards an unknown destination. It no longer mattered where I was going. My vision dimmed as the lack of oxygen set in. She patted my thigh and assured me we'd be there soon. 'There' ended up being a little no place down by the stream and the power plant.
Her hand grazed across my face, day-old gray stubble registering every last sensation of her youthful skin on mine. I saw myself in her eyes: an old man, paper-thin wattle draped below sagging neck, the wrinkles in my cheeks, deep lines surrounding my lips. Lips that once carried her name with dignity and grace. I wasn't anywhere near her in age, and as her plush mouth pressed to mine like pillows over hard horn, I startled.
“Shh sailor,” she said, cooing in my ear to assure me. My mind reeled with the very wrongness of all of this.
“You knew me once,” she whispered. “In the backseat of my Cadillac. No need to be shy.”
“I could be your father,” I said in a raspy voice that couldn't be mine, but it was now. She pushed me towards nostalgia. Tears spilled over my cheeks and sank to the underside of my chin.
“You're not my father,” she stated, as if it were plain truth, which it was, but I was not swayed. My wife's mouth hadn't felt like Doris's in decades. My eyes were drawn to the curves beneath her blouse. My hands itched to take them. Hands with tissue-thin skin, littered with age spots from too many days in the sun. She took my hands in hers, and put them there for me. I hissed and snatched them away as if her breasts were a hot coal stove.
“I can't be the man you're thinking of Doris,” I said, “What are you doing here with me? Find another sailor and steal his heart.” I licked dry lips and shook my head. “Mine doesn't have much longer to beat.”
I glared at her in annoyance, but changed my tune when she took my head in her hands and sank little pinpricks into my neck, like kitten fangs. Fangs. I struggled against the initial drain, but my weak heart and lungs couldn't persist in the conflict.
Resigned, I leaned into her, my fingers numb and my mouth dry, until warm fluid splashed across my lips. I opened my eyes and blinked. Her face hovered over mine and I drank from a creamy swell of breast, only it wasn't milk, but blood.
“Vampire,” I gurgled, rivulets of red rushing down my chin. I swallowed. Passed out.
The day passed. One more day.


I awoke in a strange bed, sitting bolt-upright to feel for Joyce, or the IV stand, or anything familiar. In the distance, faint but familiar, That Old Black Magic played from a radio in the corner. My eyes caught the sight of my hands.
Hands young, sturdy skinned, free of spots or wrinkles; hands like a seventeen-year-old.




END.

"Hive" #Fridayflash

The day that the United Nations decreed that the entire globe should have free access to the internet was touted as the finest achievement in history. Low-cost computing machines were delivered to villages and towns alike. The world rejoiced at the benefits of the Information Superhighway, but there were indisputable changes.

The differences were menial at first. Global social networking took the human race by storm, leading them to reveal things one couldn’t even tell the person they were sitting next to at work. Screen names became popular brands, with certain individuals quickly climbing the ranks of popularity. Every word was admired. Every link shared, enjoyed. Private videos of family outings were placed on public display in hopes that the number of views would exceed that of their neighbors.

The evening newspaper was the first victim of the New World, falling victim to the constant demand for news now, an impossible feat for a simple physical publication to fulfill. Television news felt the pressure next, and eventually armed their TV journalists with 24-7 webcams, issuing instructions to travel constantly, and switch off when sleep came. Prime-time television gave way to recordable programming, instant and on-demand to feed the hungering masses that desired a virtual library at their fingertips.

No longer were there longing glances, walks in the sunset, or just holding hands. Fathers no longer tinkered with the family car on Sunday, and moms no longer baked cookies. Lawns stood weeded and tall-grassed. No one stopped to glance at his or her watch, pause at a pay phone, or engage in idle conversation on the bus. Libraries and museums lost their funding and closed to the public. The theaters stood dormant and dusty, their props ghostly shapes in the gathering gloom of the empty stage.

Artificial insemination was the norm, convenient and sterile, for those who even desired the necessary distraction of reproduction. Increasing numbers of senior citizens roamed the streets in roving gangs, angry and senile, rabid and strong. Board games were discontinued. Music stores trapped in brick and mortar shut their doors for the last time. Book stores stood endangered, yet the publishing industry was voracious and growing, accepting anything with less than fifteen grammatical errors under the assumption that someone would buy it. Someone would understand it.

Eventually, they didn't need portable computers and desktop machines. The human brain was capable of receiving the necessary signal to assault their entire waking consciousness upon the online world. Soon after, dream records were broadcast at one's discretionary whim, after a group of dedicated individuals weeded out the more-explicit scenes.

Schools and universities were closed. Playgrounds and courtyards overgrew with vines and invited wild animals.

Electric vehicles replaced cars, but no one had the need to leave their homes. Work was done with an ordinary thought, education was acquirable by anyone with a lucid, dreaming mind, and wares were available at the blink of an eye at check out.

The remaining youth population no longer cruised the streets or hung out at the mall, and if they were actually seen outside their homes, were consistently sending texts and video messages to their hundreds of virtual friends to document their journey. Years went by. The population continued to age. Children forgot what was in them to grow into adults and find love. Sentiments were words. Words were text. Text was safe.

A Presidential decree went out. Bonuses were offered to bio forms reproducing and creating young to further sustain the species. Her words were lost between a mind-video of a kid dancing to the latest hit “Ina-Gadda-da-blah-blah,” and a LOLcat doing the impression of INVIZIBUL FELLASHEO.

Those That Did Not Have Internet erected billboards to drum up support in returning to the roots of human socialization, i.e., face-to-face. The majority of the species continued to ignore and even embrace the warning signs.

It would take thousands of years, they said. Nothing for them to worry about. But smoking and drinking interrupted brain waves and broke up the constant feed, and health improved. The Wii Fit was incomparable to any other form of fitness and lack of interest in fattening foods, such as McDonald's, or Hula Hut caused the weight/height ratio to drop significantly.

A species of long-living, slender and pale beings. Always connected. Always sharing. A perfect world.

One ripe for the picking, the sentient being thought as it opened a cyclopean eye to the blue-green jewel draped on the universal fabric. In the Great Disconnect, the humans felt no pain, only the soft intrusion of darkness as their minds slept alone for the first time in better than two hundred years.

"The Wedding Gift" #Fridayflash

Alison and I met by absolute chance while cowering in the same destitute FedEx truck almost a year ago. She looked so colorful in among the white parcels and brown boxes that I had to find out everything I could about her. Every so often she or I would run across another Normal, and we'd invite them back, but they rarely came. The last Normal to cross our threshold hung outside the attic window as a warning to any new thieves.

But he'd brought a blessing in his belongings: a simple solitaire diamond ring, and after Ali'd clobbered him and before I'd finally unloaded twin barrels of buckshot into him, we found some of our rations and this exquisite little ring. Well, I did. I pocketed it before she glanced up, pretending to take extreme intrigue in the double-knitted wool socks.

I wiggle my toes in those socks now and swallow hard. Can it possibly be called love, this thing we share? Enough to take her by the hand, get on one bended knee and profess eternity?

“Michael.” She comes in, closing the door with a smart snap behind her.

“They're coming. They've figured out that the bodies out front are a decoy.”

I snatch my boots up from beside the little fire and stomp my feet into them. “Pack what you can into that big bag, and I'll go have a look—“

“No Michael,” she says, slapping a hand over my arm. Her eyes are intense and 120% serious. “They're too close. If you go outside, you'll just give them something new to sniff out.”

The barricade, as she called it, is a cattle gate-style assembly of plywood and scrap-metal fencing, cultivating a virtual maze around the Victorian-style three-bedroom house. I know whose house it was, but my old fifth-grade teacher wouldn't need it now. She's probably still out there somewhere, chewing on the principal's face. She hasn't been in the population we've already taken down.

After weeks of fighting them off, we retreated into this house, building the fence as we could inside. I took it outside by armed escort. At night, we huddled up in the basement, the door locked and bolted with a gasoline-soaked rag crammed in the crack under the door.

They wander around top-side relentlessly, growling and chewing and occasionally attacking each other over a particularly-tasty morsel. They lap like dogs at oil-slicked puddles and meander off in packs of a dozen or more, one always assuming the alpha position of each little pod.

Ali and I were the last of the group of nine, as no one could handle the pressure as well as we could. Some shot themselves, wasting precious bullets, others were caught out after sunset gathering supplies. The sun slowed them down considerably, and heat seemed to infuriate them further.

“I was about to ask you something,” I say, snapping myself from reverie. She frowns at me, that delicate cleft in her sweet little chin deepening as her bottom lip rolls out and her cerulean eyes question me.

I take her hand in mine, slipping the ring on just as smooth as I've rehearsed it in my head, over and over. She snatches her hand away.

“What's this?”

“Be my wife,” I whisper, my hands hanging at my sides like counterweights in a grandfather clock's glass belly.

“Michael—“

“Before you object, keep in mind that I'm all you've got now. Unless there are more out there, somewhere.” I pant, the asthma kicking in as it hasn't since I quit smoking over six months ago.

“Michael, of course I will, but right now? You really want to think about marriage right now?”

I hand her her shotgun, together we load our weapons in silence. I pull her close, and her hand goes to my hair. We gaze into one another's eyes.

The door blows inward in a starburst radius of splinters. We don't look. We can't look. It's too hard to see the faces of those you used to know, coming to eat your flesh from your bones and make you just like them.

Not taking my eyes from hers, I position my shotgun under her chin, and hers under mine. Our lips meet tenderly, hesitantly, then fully as the dozens of the Others file into the room. Hairless and some missing limbs, eyes, noses and parts of ears, they sniff the air and lick their teeth in anticipation of something not dead.

“Now,” I say, breaking the kiss to pull the trigger, hoping she does the sa—



"Truth Lies Behind the Smile" #Fridayflash

I think part of him wants this. He accepts my tenuous invitation quickly, perhaps because I haven't requested anything of him in a very long while. Agreement is struck, location established as the lake we used to go to.

In his hand, a bottle of cheap merlot; I can only think it's because he never took the time to know me, else it'd be white or even blush. A pinot. A chardonnay. I sip at the offered glass and smile.

Conversation ensues. His breaths distract. The pier creaks beneath us. Ducks quack in sporadic babbles behind the cattails. He talks in circles. I smile.

It's cold outside, but I take off my sweatshirt. I'm not wearing a bra. His breaths are more distracting. I suggest a swim. He doesn't hesitate and starts to unbuckle his belt. I press my fingers over the buckle. He asks about my warmth. Where I am headed, it is always warm. The Bible tells me so. Our eyes meet and I smile.

###

Bubbles blossom like pearls pushed out from his lips; his eyes, huge in their deepening color. The bottom never seemed any farther away than now. Fingers spread and paddle against the cold. The jacket comes off, increasing buoyancy. Arms like oars, not fins. Feet encased in weighty boots make no good rudder. The air expels again. His body thrashes and curls in on itself. The spine curves; movements quicken.

He’s got to be breathing in by now. An eruption of bubbles, small like spray, tickle my nose. He’s still so strong. His hands find mine atop his shoulders. I turn my face away from the splashes. The surface is a frothing torrent, swirls, and one big bubble.

It floats on the surface for a few seconds, in defiance of the act. One last breath held by thin miraculous walls of saliva. It pops, leaving only silence and ripples. It makes me smile.

"Tin Cans" #Poetry

I strike—
thick.
Tin cans in a lightning bolt.

A distant cadence
but a little better
That much bloodied
Definitely wetter
A ten-thousand watt grin

I stomp my feet
and call out the passes
You bring the wine
I've got the glasses
In fact I might just
maybe might not
Need you after all...

Now that's original sin.

10 November 2010

In Memorandum.

I died last night.

The crows pierced the clouds overhead and the stars fell in and I died. Glistening veins pouring like a river, slinking over time-worn bones and the worms. Breeding, bursting, popping inside like crackling wood. Fires of love and life smoldered to a slow smoky trail of ashes. A blinding light, trailing over fingers, twitching as they curl under for the last time. Cold steel divides the line between flesh and meat, extracting my insides. Questioning the manner in which I passed. Burning skin twisting in the flames as it chars into dust.

Let me join my brothers.

Ahead is green. Seeping into the risk of me. Breathing for me. Being me. Thoughts faded and irrelevant to doing. Expectations rinsed away to expose the very center of me. Existing as a memory of many.

I am free.


Photo credit: lorettaflame from morguefile.com

29 October 2010

Halloween Trio #2 "The Downside of 24-Hour-Stores" (repost)


Photo credit: clarita from morguefile.com

I’d be crazy not to follow you where you live. Your eyes, your lips—I can taste them when I bite the air. You pass through the aisles of flowers and the light glints off your horn-rimmed glasses. You clear your throat and clutch your handbag closer. I pause on the next row and stoop to catch a glimpse of your fingers caressing satin petals. You raise your eyes to mine, between pert stalks of begonias.


A gasp.

You spin on your heel and proceed the way you came. Tomato plants whisper past your bare legs.

Short skirt.You remind me of someone.

I halt midstep. 

You seem genuinely concerned.

Am I not following closely enough?

I’ll apologize into your skin.

I can smell your go-go boots. White leather. Flesh beaten into a semblance of innocence. Plasticine over your calves, leaving the knees bare. A symphony of gold and shimmering pinks with coffee. You disappear around the corner. I give chase.

The sliding doors part to depart you and I stop too late.

The parking lot resounds with screams of agony as the first rays burn my eyes.

28 October 2010

Halloween Trio #1 "Nightlife" (repost)

 
Photo credit: spiroll from morguefile.com
 
“Early to bed
And early to rise
Makes a man or woman
Miss out on the night life.”


Early to Bed – Morphine




Deidre watched me from across the room, one leg thrown over the other like she’d been molded that way.

“You staying up much longer?” she said, reaching across the arm of the sofa for her glass of wine. Her diamond anklet twinkled in the 40-watt bulb’s light from under the amber art-deco lampshade. I shrugged, leaned back against the leather lounge chair and changed the channel. She sighed, swirled the wine around in her glass.

“You always end up staying up too late,” she pouted, her cerulean blue eyes struggling to meet mine. It was one feature I always liked about her. When we’d met for the first time, amidst curled smoke and the dark stench of expensive liquors, I couldn’t stop staring at them.

“Forget it Greg,” she said and stood. “I’m going to bed.”

I watched her climb the stairs and closed my eyes. It’d been months since I’d climbed those stairs behind her. I think it was about the same time she quit her nighttime job as a singer and given up on her figure. She still had her fake breasts. But her body’d caught up with them to justify their size.

I glanced upstairs just as the light went out in the bedroom. Half-past midnight I rose from my chair and went to the kitchen to pour myself a glass of scotch, plunking three ice cubes in it to chill the flavor. I followed it up with two more, just standing there.

It was a slow death, our marriage. A stalemate because neither would give in.

I picked up the bottle and took it into my office and shut the door. I could hear her faint snores overhead through the ceiling. I flicked the power switch on my Mac and sunk into my three-thousand dollar chair. It was the best seat in the house, and Deidre’d never sat in it. It didn’t have her stink or sweat on it.

A message popped up on the screen, making me smile.


Hey baby.

I twisted the cap off the scotch and drank right out of the bottle before responding.


Sorry I’m late.

The response came quick.

It’s alright. It’s her loss she can’t stay up later.

I laughed a little to myself, softly, lest the sleeping giant hear me.

You know I’d rather have you. What are you doing tonight?

Another drink. I licked my lips waiting for the reply.

You, I hope.

Just the words I wanted to see.

Where to meet?

Why don’t you come here? I typed.

LOL, are you serious?

Yeah. We have a pool…

Mm. Sexy.

I realized I’d been holding my breath and let it out in a shudder.

You got it. If she wakes up, it’s all on you, lover.

Fair enough, I typed back.

~~~


Forty-five minutes later, a silver BMW graced my drive. Clad only in my boxers, I directed it into the garage, closing the door behind it. The engine cut out, and the door opened.

“I can’t believe you did it,” I said, my voice colored with lust.

He smiled; a slow spread of those lips, and his dark eyes shined with devilish intentions. My bare chest crushed against the smooth tailored fabric of his shirt.

“Why don’t we just kill her,” he breathed into my mouth ahead of a scorching, biting kiss, sucking my bottom lip before we parted, me blinking in disbelief.

“Kill her?”

He nodded once and licked my taste from his lips, closing the door soundlessly behind him.


The more my mind turned it over, the more I liked the idea of her being dead.



~~~



I admit, we both had more than enough scotch to excuse the behavior. First it was a messy concept: an ax, or a knife through the heart. He suggested we stake her like a vampire and we laughed before fucking again. Spent, drunk and homicidal, we finally decided to smother her with a pillow.

“A pillow?” he laughed, and kissed me in the chilling waters of the pool. We were both naked with the pool lights out. She’d have to look hard to even see us from the second floor. I looked above us. The moon was neatly out of sight behind a copse of cloud cover.

I rose up out of the water without warning and grabbed a towel.

“Now?” he said, following suit. I watched his dripping form and grinned.

“Sick,” he said and popped my bare ass with his towel. We went inside to get dressed.

 
~~~


The bedroom was pitch-black; I had the windows covered with heavy drapes because I slept in most mornings. Owning my own bank chain did have its perks. I could feel him press against me as we crept across the room with my guidance. I knew the layout, he didn’t.

Deidre was a back-sleeper, which made it relatively easy. I picked up the pillow from my side of the bed and crawled up beside her. She snored gently, before snorting when I clamped the pillow over her face.

Her body came alive with movement and I could hear her scream through the feathers. We bought the good pillows, thickly stuffed with goose down and 400-threadcount casing. The pillow was built to kill, but she wouldn’t give up that quickly.

Her arms flailed until she found my face and dug her hundred-dollar manicured nails deep into my skin, cutting red slashes, demanding I let go but I didn’t. I could feel the blood trickle down my cheeks and clung to her as she bucked like a pissed-off bronco at a rodeo. Her fat thighs slapped together as she kicked, drawing her knees up to slam into my spine. I cried out and she threw me off her to fall on my head in the darkness. With a banshee scream, she leapt on me and I squirmed out from under her, throwing her back into the window. She ripped the curtains down and I took the initiative to wrap them tightly around her neck. I held it tight, until she stopped struggling and I held something limp in the eerie milk-stain of the full moon's light.

She was finally dead. I released the fabric, clenching my fists over and over, my heart thundering in my ears. Behind me I heard a low rumble and turned.

Where my lover was, there stood a monstrous black beast.

23 October 2010

On-Air #Poetry

Whisper

Bring it all out into the open

This terrifying world of

words left unspoken

In the morning be sure to bring

another line

drop your dime

and listen to me as I speak

Ten worlds apart this

heart brought forth with electric spark

left out to grow and mold and to get

quickly old to bring a play in all the

words I might say

There's no play with this, the one that I know I'll

find within the confines of beaten atrocities

Kick the soul from the corpse and beat the dead

Horse to drive it down deeper

and so much farther into this cracked

ground

to lie to rest the very goddamn best

You thought you could do for me

You see?

I bring it here to spread it out and face your fears and

your burned and ashen tears that aren't really there

I swear

If someone does not change the station I am going to cut him.

On the fucking air.

- Carrie Clevenger

21 October 2010

This is Non-Fiction: Lectori Salutem

First of all I'd like to thank you that read my blog. I want to give you everything I have just to see you smile or cry with my stories. I don't plan for them to be scary, but I want them to make you think.

I'll make this quick, before I lose my nerve. I'm going to stop sharing for awhile. Write a lot of nothing and keep them close to my chest instead of rushing out to greet the world at my door with fresh fiction.

You did nothing wrong. Neither did I, but I'm dealing with an internal situation that dictates I must regroup. I'm fine. I'm not dying, not any faster than I should be. I had a door open for me, a sense of excitement, and then I had it taken away because of what I do when I'm not writing or being a mother and a wife.

It pains me but I must make a decision. What will it be?

I guess I'll know in a bit.

C.C.

15 October 2010

"House-Fishing - A Love Story" #Fridayflash

I can't not write stories and I love to share what I've done. For those of you familiar with Crooked Fang, here is Xan Marcelles as a human Gabriel Nez and very vulnerable to Jessica DiGiovanni, Realtor...Just a sweet slice. Smile with your coffee and see why Gabriel Nez/Xan Marcelles has stolen my head and heart for ten years. - C.C. 



She kind of gave me the eye as her lips mouthed the real estate words a buyer wanted to hear: Spacious walk-in closets, garden tub, ceramic tile. I don’t think I ever heard ceiling fans said in a sexier breath before. After the short tour (and every other stalling tactic I could think of) we found ourselves standing on either side of the bar in what I’d already decided was going to be my house. I’d buy anything if she came with it. Her first name rolled around in my head and I wondered what it’d feel like to say it in her mouth as I kissed her.

“Mr. Nez?” I blinked. She’d been talking to me for a few minutes and I’d completely not heard her.

“Please, call me Gabriel or even Gabe,” I said, my heart twisting in my chest, wanting to burrow deeper. She smiled, brightening the entire kitchen. I couldn’t help but return the gesture.

“Gabriel,” she said in the same voice that had just described the sexiest ceiling fans in the world. “You seem distracted.” She tilted her head in question. God, she was cute. Cuter than cute, like fine-cute. That smile again. She had me figured out. Had to. I couldn’t be standing there not-red.

“Sorry,” tumbled out of my mouth, “I just…”

Say it. You’re Beautiful. Say it Idiot.

“I just think the house is great,” I managed to finish, kicking myself in the mental balls for lack of the same.

She straightened her shoulders. I had to congrat myself for snapping her back into business mode. “So you’re interested in making an offer.”

“I am,” I said, “Let’s go get a drink. I’ll buy.”

Her eyes widened then narrowed. “Mr. Nez, I am on the job. And I drove you here.”

I licked my lips. I’d already stuck my neck out. Might as well go for the gold. “After work then. Please say yes.”

She blinked. “Yes.” Abject horror. “I mean—“

“Nope, I got a yes out of you.”

Her look of surprise slowly melted into a smile, reaching her turquoise eyes. They had little gold flecks in them. Sigh. “Alright.”

“And call me Gabriel, or even Gabe.”

“What does your girlfriend call you?”

I snorted. “You’re fishing.”

She turned on her heel, her spun-silk ponytail swishing a fresh breeze of Jessica-perfume over me. I swayed on my feet and followed her back outside to the Cadillac.

“I don’t have a girlfriend,” I said as she unlocked the doors. The door handle was scalding to the touch in the sun. I opened the door as fast as I could and we both backed away from the opened car to let the heat escape. She met my eyes.

“I find that really hard to believe Gabriel.”

I loved the way she said my name. It was like a breath with sound, but a Jessica-breath. I was Jessica-smitten. She could’ve taken me in an arm wrestling match because my knees felt like jelly.

“It’s not so hard to believe,” I countered. “I work two jobs, and spend the rest of my time either sleeping or fiddling with things in the house. Aside from a drink after work sometimes, I just don’t get out much.”

“You’re an artist right?”

I laughed. “You know all this stuff about me already. No fair.”

She grinned and dropped into the driver’s seat to turn on the car and I got in on the passenger side. “I know your credit score,” she said, sticking out her tongue.

“You gonna tell me?”

She shook her head and I felt that stupid smile creep up on my face again. The whole goddamn car smelled like her. I just wanted to kiss her all over.

“It’s against the law.”

“I bet you tell your boyfriend his.”

She bit the inside of her cheek to hide the smile. “Now you’re fishing.”

I shook my head. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, crazy house-lady.”

Our giggles died down and we were just kind of staring into one another’s eyes, faces drawing closer together until she blinked hard a couple of times and jerked away to back out of the driveway.


Photo credit: EmmiP from morguefile.com

13 October 2010

A Call for Your Coffee Money


Photo credit: hotblack from morguefile.com


Christina Vincent's friend contacted me to tell me that Patience, a dear friend of hers, just lost her husband. It was sudden (seems to have been cardiac arrest), and there is not only a hole in this woman’s life but a financial struggle as well, which is the absolute last thing that someone should have to consider after the loss of a life partner. This man was in his thirties.

Sweet Libertine Cosmetics has teamed up with countless retailers to put together a raffle. Every $5 gets a chance at feel-good loot and you can help Patience survive on top of that. Hot-damn.

Help someone who needs it.

Click this to give up a cup of overpriced fattening coffee so I can get stuff
or
I have money. Gimme the direct fund link.

08 October 2010

Launching Sunday 10.10.2010 - Chinese Whisperings

I'd love to take this opportunity to thank all of you who read and support my work. As some of you may know I've been involved with a global literary project called Chinese Whisperings. Today, I'd like to unveil the cover art by Lucas Clevenger for the two e-books here, side-by-side:


We are proud to present these two e-volumes for purchase starting 10 October 2010 (that's Sunday) and invite you to read an incredible journey of stories interwoven together like never before. Both e-books have the same beginning but from there, one decision made by a woman to either retrieve or abandon her suitcase takes the reader by the hand on a wild journey through countless lives.

The Chinese Whisperings website has 750-word excerpts available for all of the stories.

My particular story, "Excess Baggage" is featured in The Yin Book.

Here are the official blurbs and author lists for each volume:







Yin Book Blurb:

In the international terminal of a large European airport, Monday morning is about to get a whole lot worse. At 7.35am Pangaean Airlines, one of Europe’s major carriers, is put into receivership grounding all flights, stranding thousands of passengers and impounding tonnes of luggage. But all is not as appears on the surface and the sliding-doors moment of one woman deciding to abandon her suitcase will ricochet through the lives around her.



Prologue--Jodi Cleghorn (Ed)
The Guilty One-Emma Newman
Excess Baggage-Carrie Clevenger
Where the Heart Is-Tina Hunter
The Other Side of Limbo-Claudia Osmond
Freedom-Laura Eno
Cobalt Blue-Jasmine Gallant
The Strangest Comfort-Icy Sedgwick
Lost and Found-Jen Brubacher
Kanyasulkam-Annie Evett
Double Talk-Lily Mulholland
Epilogue--Paul Anderson (Ed)






Yang Book Blurb:

In the international terminal of a large European airport, Monday morning is about to get a whole lot worse. At 7.35am Pangaean Airlines, one of Europe’s major carriers, is put into receivership grounding all flights, stranding thousands of passengers and impounding tonnes of luggage. But all is not as appears on the surface and the sliding-doors moment of one woman deciding to retrieve her suitcase will ricochet through the lives around her.

Prologue-Jodi Cleghorn (ed)
Three Monkeys-Paul Servini
Three Rings-Chris Chartrand
Dogs of War-Tony Noland
This Be the Verse-Dan Powell
Providence-Dale Challener Roe
No Passengers Allowed-J.M. Strother
Thirteen Feathers-Rob Diaz II
One Behind the Eye-Richard Jay Parker
Chase the Day-Jason Coggins
Somewhere to Pray (Kurush)-Benjamin Solah
Epilogue--Paul Anderson (Ed)




Finally, let me share the most beautiful of the Lucas Clevenger e-book covers, The Yin and Yang Book:


This e-book cover reminds me of looking up through the trees at dusk. Just gorgeous.

The links:

Chinese Whisperings on Facebook
Chinese Whisperings Website
Chinese Whisperings book shop 

07 October 2010

"Dirty Dish" #Fridayflash


Yet another experiment in writing. Dead silence does work wonders. - CC   


She’s taken her small shoes and handbags and left him with closet space. He appreciates the extra three feet of davenport. He’s covered up the flowered print. He’ll put it out for bulk rubbish in February.

She’s grilled for CAUCASIAN MALE. It seems wise. Her mother would have approved of his severe haircut and pencil-thin mustache.

He thinks about CAUCASIAN MALE often. 5’11” with a slight list to his step from an old football injury. CAUCASIAN MALE with the sideways smile—he should have caught that the first time she shared it with him over boiled potatoes.

He’s stretched out. He’s waiting.

The dirty dish is still in the sink. He’s decided to leave it til Wednesday. She’d hate that.

Photo credit: alvimann from morguefile.com

30 September 2010

"Sin" #Fridayflash

There's an angel in the window, face dappled by silver rain. Her eyes stretch towards heaven as she lifts the cup to her lips and shifts a bit in her chair. Feathers drift to the floor and are swept away by the barista before she's asked to leave.

She steps outside and hugs her arms as the icy rain penetrates her clothes and punches holes in her wings. Red neon bleeds over pinions as he stands in the shadows. He beckons her to his side, fingers clutching slender hips to turn and press her supine against the steaming hood of his car. Black, churning, scaled. Wicked whispers in her ear and she draws him forward for a kiss.

Her wings enfold them, graze the muscles of his back, clothed in incredible black, an absence of nothingness, less than not, as if light had never been. He bites her lip; his hands wander, seeking her skin and her wings shiver. A sigh like wind in trees and he slips inside. She sings in soft whispers; her fingers dig into his arms as the pace increases and intensifies.

They call out in unison. A gentle moment—sweet nuzzles and scalding kisses. Her wings spread.

He watches her ascend into the heavy rain.

Photo credit: firebetty74 from morguefile.com

23 September 2010

"Three" #Fridayflash

Photo credit: marko from morguefile.com

Lisa's eyes reflected the glow from the sandy bed, too long ago to be called a river. Pale like moon soil and powdered moth wings. A cloud of dust erupted on the horizon, swirling around six blue lights, splitting apart, two to a being, until they drew near and I could see they were headlights. Three of them, with respective specters behind their windscreens, bony knuckles ridged and accusatory.

They circled us like vultures—tighter and tighter—in spirals of questionable intent. Glowing eyes; burning lights that felt like acid on the skin. There were two, one fat-fendered with the suggestion of green flames, that writhed and licked above the slick rubber that churned beneath like angry hooves. The second, a black Mustang, the lights bleeding to urine-yellow at a certain angle. The driver pressed his skull against the glass and grinned as the draft made her skirt fly up around her legs.

The third was almost reptilian in appearance, long and low, inky-black scaled flesh glinting violet in the light around them, gasping gills in its sides snorting blue fire and in the driver's seat—

An arc of spirits in a close vortex, blotting out the moon and choking our lungs with silt from the dead riverbed. Whispered pleasures, treasures, and torment and the third stopped, tires pouring out of slim wheel wells like viscous oil, clutching the hard packed earth as the dust settled and I was looking into the face of Death itself.

______

I let out a breath; Lisa shook me, clutching an armful of firewood. I opened my eyes and lifted my head to look at her.

“You have to stay awake to see them,” she chided. I rolled over on my side and smiled.

She was wrong.

16 September 2010

"Angel on the Roof" #Fridayflash

Of course Jonathan tried to prepare for it. His entire college career was settled on the intricacies of Medieval wisdom and ignorance; costume and custom, effecting him to settle on a light suit of custom-crafted aluminum armor. He packed with him action figures, hoping to win over the king. His iPod was capable of going 22 hours on a single charge but his Kindle could last a month. The time machine made no fantastic swirls of color, but rather hissed and coughed a puff of smoke that cleared the rest of the University wing when he went.

He awoke some time later on his side, full backpack stabilizing his body from sliding the rest of the way down the steeply pitched roof of the great castle. Fantastic! He said to himself, the Earth moved! He attempted to extract his notepad and ink pen, but the bloody thing slipped out of his hand, slid down the roof, over the edge and poink! hit a passerby right on the top of his head.

Anonchio was on his way to answer to a debt when the bizarre twig fell from the sky. Looking upwards, he saw a shining figure.

“Oy! You up ere!” He shouted. The shining figure looked around and went back to rummaging through what appeared to be a blue sack.

“Who’s that you be shouting at Anon?” His wife peeked out from the confines of the cart, sewing needles in hand.

“Th’ bloke right up ‘ere!” Anonchio pointed skyward with a thick, stubby finger and his wife followed it until her eyes widened.

“Why, there’s an angel on the castle! We must tell the king!”

Anonchio and his wife hurried into the crowd and spread the word of the uncommon roof occupant. Meanwhile, Jonathan continued to assess his situation and realized that he’d made a grave mistake. The roof was too high to jump, or even be rescued. He could climb down, but not in his armor.

It was a stupid idea to wear it anyway, he thought to himself as he stripped the shining coat off, piece-by-piece. By now a large crowd had gathered below to witness the angel. Converts were made, plagues were healed, and an old woman could walk again. All in the Power of His Spirit.

The artifacts of thin, sparkling metal were viciously fought over as they landed. Scholars scratched their chins at the angel’s words, which sounded a bit vulgar. Still, they scribbled down their interpretation of the creature’s warnings and wisdom as divine.

They prayed for the angel to descend for three days in the stagnant heat and searing sun.

On the third day, the angel flew from the roof in the guise of a dead man, skin blistered and pockmarked, with a large pouch of tiny idols, a small metal window and shattered glass but made horrid sounds from two tentacle-like appendages , and a larger square that when anyone looked upon it, could see His Word. His name was J. R. Tolkien, and as far as the scribes could ascertain, was an astounding windbag of needless description.

The strange corpse and its belongings were suddenly considered a work of the Devil, and the transcribed statements, the Kindle, and the i-Pod (designed by an entity in California named Apple) were promptly tossed into the fire by the Church, and all was eventually forgotten.

The old God made more sense.

(Photo credit: badeendjuh from morguefile.com)