I’ve had this idea for sometime to write a series of books about a pair of sleuths, an investigative journalist and his adopted teenage daughter. The idea came about many years ago, and has gone through many iterations without much words being written. I don’t do this often with stories, I normally get an idea and jump into the deep end of the pool and start writing. I tried that with these stories at first, and the deep end swallowed me whole. My first outing was very much churning up garbage, so I discarded that and went back to the drawing board. It needed way more development before I could start writing it seriously. Continue reading
I suppose it’s been said a thousand times, but some folks feel like self-torture or self-mutilation (such as cutting) is an act of attention. But as someone who is bipolar and knows several folks who are also bipolar, let me take a few minutes to talk about self-torture.
If you’re wondering how a post like this would have anything to do with writing (since this is my blog for my writing), think about this: we write characters. And characters, if you play your cards right, should be like real people. Fictional, but realistic. Well, for the most part, sometimes we’re just writing comedy or pulpy stuff and being real doesn’t necessarily have to count for the popcorn style of stories.
Self-torture starts within and can stay there, too
In the image for the post, I gave the Oxford definition of self-torture, because from my perspective I think it really gets to the heart of the matter of self-torture. It states that self-torture is “the act of inflicting pain, especially mental pain, on oneself.” In my experience, and from what I know of others’ experiences, all self-torture (even cutting) starts internally, mentally.
Whether you’re tearing yourself down, feeling worthless or a burden on others, and that manifests itself into cutting or attempted suicide. It’s starting within. It starts inside the head and works its way out, or not. In my case, it typically stays in. I self-torture myself internally, and at most sometimes that affects my health. I can have stomach cramps, or possibly even a panic attack, if I keep torturing myself internally over something. I’ve never taken to cutting, thank goodness, and suicidal ideation has only happened once (and once is enough, so I’m hoping that never happens again).
Badgering, the constant nagging
But you see the thing of self-torture isn’t that people want to try to draw attention to themselves, it is typically a result of badgering themselves for one reason or another. Sometimes they are badgering themselves because they feel guilty about something or like a failure, or they could be badgering themselves for things that haven’t happened or did happen but they keep replaying in their minds.
And again, when I say self-torture, I’m not just talking about physical cutting or torture. It can be a simple badgering of the mind. A constant nagging inside, beating yourself up, dunking yourself through the water-boarding of your mind.
Really, self-torture is not an act of attention, but rather an act of aggression against one’s self.
How self-torture, bipolar, and being aware has affected my writing
As a general rule, I think everything in life affects my writing. All the phases of life, all the characters I meet. All the things learned or unlearned. And being diagnosed bipolar, becoming aware, and having that writer and actor’s gift to analyze I began really examining myself. Kind of the old “write what you know” saying.
I can definitely see where in some of my more recent stories, I’ve become more understanding and better at writing introverts. I am actually an extrovert myself, but being bipolar means I have my moments where I have no desire to be around people and can become very antisocial. Is that the same as being introverted? No. But as I’ve analyzed my behavior more, I’ve become more understanding of introverts.
I’ve also started weaving in bits and pieces of myself into characters. I have a short story I’ve been crafting about an introverted UFO hunter, who has a lot of anxiety. This was a story I had started to work on before my diagnosis, but post-diagnosis I was able to start over and make him a much more believable character. And focusing in on his anxieties, which is something I have, it gives me a platform to talk about those things through him.
Note to self, I need to watch this film. Started to years ago, and never got to finish. To those who know nothing about it, it’s the first adaptation of I Am Legend with Vincent Price. Later, we’d get Omega Man with Charlton Heston. And even later still, we’d get I Am Legend with Will Smith. True story. Well, that those are adaptations of the same story, not that the story is real.
Originally posted on Rare Horror:
“Another day to live through. Better get started.”
Get up, go to work, sleep, repeat. As Kendrick Lamar put it in Dreams, “They say we’re only living to die. Imagine if we’re already dead, waiting to live, living in hell.” Vincent Price’s Morgan, wandering the living hell of The Last Man on Earth, is certainly more dead than alive.
Although we’ve seen similar apocalyptic visions in the years since this film was made, The Last Man on Earth opens in striking fashion: a dead city, lifeless; roads empty and still, scattered with corpses and abandoned cars. Soon, we find that the world is not yet completely void of life – there is Morgan, former scientist, husband, and father; and then, there are the vampires. Morgan, last of his kind, spends his days following a meticulous search pattern that takes him through every corner of LA, hammering stakes into the hearts of the…
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MJ Bush won the Internet today.
It unfortunately does seem commonplace for some writers to be absolutely arrogant when it comes to their and others’ works. Their work represents all that is beautiful and perfect with storytelling, and others’ represents all that is wrong and ignorant.
Yes, there are rules. But if I learned anything worthwhile from reading Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, aside from all the horrible things, it’s that the rules of writing were made to be broken. I have never read a book in first person perspective that sounded so much like dialogue, as if Edward Norton was in the room narrating a story. When you listen to the voiced over parts of the Fight Club film and compare them with the same narrative in the book, it’s the same. That was sort of a mind blowing moment for me in my writing, and that was in high school many years ago. Granted it would take many years later before I could consider any of my work decent, and in a few years I’ll consider my current work drivel I’m sure of it. But the point is this…
We are all learning
Some of us are ahead of the curve, and that’s fine. But being ahead of the curve is no reason to be arrogant, rather it is a reason to humble yourself and give back to the community with grace.
So, thanks to MJ today! I’m so glad she won the Internet, and that the Google+ algorithms worked in my favor and fed me that post.
Damien Boath signed up to be laid out. He is victim #5. You can review the previous entries here. The body count is rising and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. Which is OK with me, I’m fine with selling out, if it means the death of a few people.
You can learn more about the gig and sign up yourself at this link.
Download the Files
Damien is a co-host on the podcast Newbie Writers. He is also a writer of fantasy fiction and poetry. He lives down under and is 6’4″, but I have confirmed he is not full of muscle. Most unfortunate. You can find Damien Boath on Google+ and Twitter, should you want to connect with him.
When you sign up for the gig on Fiverr, I make you answer a few questions. And when Damien signed up, there were a few items in his answers that just told me what the story needed to become. Note the screen capture of his answers below:
In the image, you can see I have emphasized 4 points by underlining them in red ink.
- Damien is tall (6’4″)
- Medieval fantasy
- B-grade horror film
- Damien will be the antagonist
Well, I knew that’s what the story needed to be right then and there. And so, the work came alive on its own.
But, enough is enough. On with the story, I say, on with the story. Huzzah!
Damien Boath’s Festival of Horrors
Misty Klovus stepped out of the diner where she worked and said goodbye to her manager, who was always trying to get her to let him walk her home. He was old enough to be her grandfather, but that didn’t stop him from making passes at her every chance he got. He was locking up the door when she took off into a hurried walk. This was usually the moment she took to get away from him during closing shifts.
“Wait,” he shouted to her, “I’ll walk you home.”
“I’ll be fine!” She hollered back, not even bothering to turn and face him when she spoke.
He tried to plead with her one last time, but she shot him down and turned the corner at the end of the block. She had thought of looking for another job to escape his harassment, but the diner was only three blocks from her home and he was pretty much harmless. He just couldn’t take a hint.
She continued at her hurried pace, even though her feet disagreed with her. She had been waiting tables all night, and the soles of her shoes were worn thin. She needed to buy a new pair of work shoes, but couldn’t really afford to do so. Perhaps she could set aside some tip money and save up for it in another month. But this time she’d focus on getting something with a little more padding underneath.
She turned another corner and walked down the middle of the street. When it was late at night, you could do that on her street and stay in the glow of the street lights. She liked it better that way, because on the sidewalks the trees blocked out any light and you were left in the darkness. Her street lights had orange bulbs that illuminated an orange haze on her street. It was a familiar glow to her, and up ahead, at the very end of the cul-de-sac she could see her modest house.
That’s when she first saw it.
Something shinning, glistening in the street between her and her house. She couldn’t make it out, because with each little movement the street lights reflected rays off of it. She kept walking, but steadied her pace. The noticed the more she walked, the larger it got. She couldn’t quite discern all of the features, but she began to make out limbs and a head. It was a figure of some kind, but it didn’t look human.
Her heart was pounding in her chest. She could feel sweat building up on her back and goosebumps broke out on her arms. She slowly started to swerve herself over to the sidewalk, but it followed her movements.
Maybe it was in her head. Maybe it was just some reflection that looked weird no matter which way she looked at it, but it would come to light when she got closer. And she would feel completely ridiculous when it did. She needed to feel completely ridiculous.
As she reached the edge of the curb, and stepped into the shadows, she stopped under a tree. She rested her hand against the tree and watched the figure walk up into the shade of the trees. She got a good look at it for the first time.
It was a knight in medieval armor. She could hear the clanking of his metal on the pavement as he walked. He wore chainmail and a breastplate across his torso. Sheathed at his side was his broadsword. He kept one hand on the hilt while he walked, so it wouldn’t bustle to and fro. Across his breastplate he had a cloth banner, an emblem of a cross. She recognized it as the Knights Templar emblem. Atop his head was a helmet that concealed his entire face with small slits for his eyes to see out.
She wondered if she should still be terrified, or if perhaps this man was on his way to a festival or costume party somewhere. It seemed unlikely, but she was trying hard to turn a weird situation positive. Innocent. She pulled closer to the tree, as if it would protect her from his advances.
He stood just short of the curb. Slowly he turned and deliberately faced himself at her. She couldn’t see his eyes, but she knew he was looking at her. He stood there, staring. She could only hear the sound of her heart and her frantic breathing.
“What are you looking at?” She shouted to him. She couldn’t take the silence any longer, and needed to know if he was a threat or not. She needed to know if she should be running and calling for help on her mobile phone, or apologizing to him for being so easily frightened. He kept staring and said nothing. “I am this close to calling the police.” She yelled.
He reached around his back and pulled out a crossbow with one hand. With the other he pulled an arrow from over the back of his shoulder. She had her answer.
She spun around and took off up the street at a full sprint. She reached into her pocket and pulled out her mobile phone. She looked back and he was loading the crossbow and walking at the same time in her direction. She turned and darted up onto the sidewalk, weaving between the trees to do so. She kept running, but her feet were really angry with her now. She could feel the blisters bleeding in her left shoe, but she didn’t slow down.
She looked back and couldn’t see but a few steps behind her, the light was being completely shielded by the trees. She wasn’t safe here, either. She needed to make up her mind on where to go.
Her fingers finished dialing emergency services, and she held the phone to her ear. But before she could say anything to the operator on the other line, she heard the firing of the crossbow and realized the glowing of the phone had given him a direct line of sight to her. She went to turn out into the street, but it was too late. The arrow entered into her right shoulder and knocked her to the ground. Her phone fell from her hands, while her hands naturally tried to save her from the fall. After scratching up her palms, and feeling the pain of the arrow. She looked around and saw her phone glowing a few steps from her. She got up and lunged at it, but a second arrow entered her left calf and crumbled to the ground. She wanted to help ease the pain, but she needed to get to her phone. She dragged her leg and inched towards the phone. She could hear the metal feet behind her. He was right on top of her by the sound of it. She reached out with her hand and gripped the phone in her hand.
He stepped on her hand, crushing it and the phone under the weight of the armor and metal. She screamed in pain. The glow of the phone went out.
She looked up and he stood there, towering above her. A dim lamp from a nearby house was casting just enough light to cause his armor and chainmail too shine in the blackness. He was staring at her, not speaking. Keeping silent. “Why are you doing this to me?” She asked. That’s when she noticed the audio recorder. He held it out over her, capturing the sounds of the pain and agony of a person at the end of their life. In the valley of death, facing evil in the face, and he was recording the sounds. “You’re recording this? Why? Who are you? What did I ever do to you? Please, just let me go. I won’t tell anyone.”
She heard him moan in discontent underneath his helmet. “No more begging.” He said in a warm, yet emotionless voice. “Just. Scream.”
He slowly pulled the sword from its sheath and she did as commanded.
Officer Ricky Sands had been going door-to-door for an hour, trying to find one witness who could give some insights on what had happened to Misty Klovus. She had only been dead three hours, and the crime scene guys were still scrapping her up off the sidewalk and street. So far they had gotten very little out of witnesses in her neighborhood, except that there was some screaming heard. But no one saw anything. The poor girl had been shot twice with arrows, and then hacked up by a sword—according to the coroner’s initial look at the wounds. Her limbs were tossed around on the sidewalk and street, her left foot was found in a front yard. Her head was left in the middle of the street, and was the first item found when the police responded to her call that operators had only heard brief moments of before the call was cut out.
Sands came to the end of the cul-de-sac, where Misty lived. Only one house left before he entered her home and took a look around there for any helpful evidence. Any indication to who could have committed the terrible attack. Someone who might own a sword and arrows. He felt like he was in a nightmare, that he would wake up soon and share with his wife about how he dreamed he was in a B-grade horror film. They’d be laughing about it over breakfast.
He knocked on the door.
It opened and a small, wrinkly woman was standing there. “What do you want? Do you know how late it is?”
“Sorry to bother you ma’am,” he said politely.
“Miss. T’aint been married for years,” she said, “Don’t assume because I’m old, I’m a ma’am.”
“Yes, my apologies, miss,” he said, “I’m Officer Sands, and we’ve had a murder take place out here on the street where you live. I wonder if you might have heard or noticed anything unusual tonight?”
“No more unusual than normal,” she said.
“How do you mean?” He asked.
“My son, Damien, thinks he’s an artist.” She explained and pulled a cigar out of her bathrobe, which opened up and revealed her skimpy negligee that was scarcely clinging onto her old body. He cringed, and she continued, “He likes making his stories.”
“Sure,” Sands said, “But anything out of the ordinary?”
“No sir,” she said, taking a big puff of the cigar. “T’aint noticed nuttin’ all night.”
“Thank you,” he said, “May I speak with your son briefly? How old is he?”
She looked him up and down, and raised an eyebrow in interest. Sands cringed again. “Sure, officer, come on in.”
She let him inside the little, yellow house with the green shutters. He looked around and it was an utter mess. Stacks of magazines, newspapers, and boxes were all over the place. Columns and columns of magazines and papers, differing in size. You had to follow certain paths to get around. Atop one small column of magazines was a bowl of cat food. He didn’t notice any cats. But it smelled like something rotten. She took him down a path into the living room. There was one spot left open on the couch, between two columns of National Geographic magazines. He recalled a time he and his friends thumbed through them looking for the native breasts of Africa.
“Sit here,” she said and pushed him into the open spot on the couch. The magazines almost fell on him, and he propped them back up. “Let me go get Damien. You just sit there.”
She wobbled out of the room, and he noticed for the first time that one leg was longer than the other. It had to be a dream, he was sure of it. He looked around the room, taking in the chaos of things. She had a book shelf stocked with a collection of lava lamps. They were all plugged into a series of power cables, which were plugged into one outlet. A fire waiting to happen. They were all turned on, and creating a strange and colorful effect in the room. He looked around some more, and saw a series of old lanterns on the dining table behind another couch across from him. That couch had two spots, sunken in, which he assumed meant that one was used more than his couch. The lanterns on the table were of various age and sizes.
“DAMIEN!” He heard the old lady yelling down the hall. He heard a door open, and more yelling, but it was less distinct. He couldn’t hear if Damien responded or not, but eventually he heard the door close again. He then heard the heavy footfalls of someone much taller than the little lady who had answered the door coming closer.
Damien ducked under the entrance to the living room, and stepped inside. Sands sized him up to be about six foot and four inches, roughly two-hundred pounds. He was wearing a long-sleeve shirt, with sweat stains underneath the armpits. Sands noted this as strange, as it was warm and no one was wearing long-sleeves at the moment. He came over to the couch and sat down, spreading his legs across the two open spots on the couch. His mother returned to the room, and started lighting up the lanterns on the dining table.
“Don’t mind me,” she said.
Sands continued to study and look over Damien. He was certainly man enough to have perpetrated the crime, but that didn’t make him guilty. He had no evidence linking him to the crime. But there was something about him that just made his gut churn, which usually meant he had just met the murderer.
“I just have a few questions,” Sands started, “If you don’t mind, Damien.”
“I don’t mind,” he said in a cold, calm voice.
“There was a murder out here on your street tonight,” Sands said, “Were you aware of this?”
“Yes.” He said coldly.
“Did your mother tell you?” Sands asked.
“Did you notice anything unusual tonight?” Sands asked.
“Hear anything unusual?” Sands asked, and then looked through his notebook to feign looking for his next question, implying his line of questioning was just something he was asking everybody.
“No.” Damien said, his tone always the same.
“Where were you three hours ago?” Sands asked.
“Home.” Damien said.
“Have you been here all night?” Sands prodded.
“Yes,” Damien said, “And all day, too.”
“You didn’t leave the house at all today?” Sands asked. “Not once? Not even to go for a walk? Get some fresh air? I mean, come on, this house isn’t exactly a good source of oxygen.” Damien didn’t laugh or even crack a smile. He just sat there and stared at Sands with cold eyes. Unblinking. Sands tried to understand what might be going through his head, but couldn’t get a read on him at all. He seemed tone deaf to emotion. Sands looked past Damien for a moment, he focused on his mother in that old negligee. He wondered how many times, days, weeks and months Damien had seen his mother in that or similar negligees. He thought of the National Geographic magazines around him, and wondered if Damien too had used them for youthful exploration into the human body. He wondered what other stacks of magazines he might find hiding in Damien’s bedroom. He also wondered about what his mother called his stories. He decided to play nasty by running with his hunch. “You a virgin, Damien?” Damien didn’t respond or blink. “Just curious. It seems to me like it would be really hard to get any action around here, what with your mom and this mess. What girl wants to come in here and push this stuff out of the way? And that smell, what is it even?” He paused for a moment, and Damien was still not phased. “How do you do it? I’d go crazy. You can’t keep these sperm trapped forever, you know what I mean? Of course you do, you’re a guy, like me. So how do you do it? How do you keep sane? Do you go over to the girl’s house? Is that it? Do you hit the stripclubs? That’s expensive though, and you don’t seem like you have a lot of money. What about the internet? Is that it, porn? Porn’s cheap. That’s gotta be it. Wait, I know, don’t tell me,” he stopped and leaned in to Damien, “You and your mom?”
It wasn’t much, but Sands saw a tiny spark or flinch in Damien’s eye. He was getting somewhere with that. There was something between him and his mother that made him break for a moment. He finally reached through his stone cold exterior and found some emotion buried within.
“She seems overbearing to me,” Sands said, “I don’t think I could live with her. And all this stuff of hers, I would have thrown it out years ago.” He could tell it was getting to him, the distain he was casting at his mother. “And, tell me, be honest… has she always dressed like this?” Sands shivered mockingly.
“You do not know my mother.” Damien blurted out in irritation.
“Do you know Misty Klovus?” Sands asked.
Damien almost retaliated, but then paused for a moment to catch his breath. He then said, “No, I did not know her.”
“She’s your neighbor,” Sands said, “Lives next door. How can you not know her? Especially with that body.” He made a sound of approval and rolled his eyes. “Ridiculous.”
“I didn’t talk to her.” Damien said, noticeably getting uncomfortable. His palms were sweaty and itchy, and he scratched them across his knees.
“I don’t know, I’m just saying,” Sands started, “I’d like a piece of that, wouldn’t you?”
“No, I never did.” Damien spouted off.
Sands frowned at him, “Why do you keep talking about Misty in the past tense?”
The name of the victim had not been released to the public yet, they always held that information back until the victim’s family was notified and identified the body.
Damien looked legitimately shocked. He had come into the living room in complete control of his emotions and demeanor, but was breaking down. “Well, because she’s dead. She was murdered. That’s why we’re talking.” He stopped for Sands to reply, but now Sands was the one remaining silent. “Isn’t it?”
“My mom tells me you make stories?” Sands said after a brief moment of silence. “So, what, you write?”
“No.” Damien said.
“You make movies?” Sands said. “I think my son is gonna be a filmmaker someday, he’s always making videos with his little mobile phone.”
“No. I don’t make movies.” Damien said, irritated and scared. His eyes were darting around while he tried desperately to gather his wits.
“Go get one of your tapes, Damien!” His mother rejoined the conversation, overhearing them talking about the stories Damien makes.
“No, mother!” Damien yelled at her. “They’re not ready.” His legs, which had once been spread apart, were now pulled tightly together against his clasped hands. He was slowly but surely becoming emasculated before Sands’ eyes. And his anger was boiling up.
“Oh, shut up!” She spouted back at him. “They sound fine. And like I keep telling you, you just have to take a chance.” She stepped over a small stack of papers and knocked them over, they spilled across the floor and she nearly slipped on them when her slippers skidded across them. “Wait, I think I still have your last one in the stereo.” She stepped up to an old stereo with a tape cassette player on the front. She turned it on, and popped open the tape cassette player. “Yep, here it is.” She closed it, rewound it and pressed play.
Damien stood up from the couch, pointing his finger at her. “Mother, I forbid you to play that tape!”
“You forbid me?” She said in a disgusted tone. “You forbid me? How dare you.” She walked over to him slowly, chewing him out the whole way. Sands tried to focus on the audio of the tape, drowning out her scolding and chastising. All he could hear was some rustling noises of metal that slowly was gaining volume. “How dare you talk to me like that. After all I’ve done for you. After all I did for the two of us. You think it was easy being a single mom in the 80s? You think it was easy raising a no good, deadbeat, godless, thankless son like you?” She slapped him hard across the face.
Amid the silence in the room, Sands continued to listen to the audio on the tape. It was still just strange metal rustling. It wasn’t making any sense, and he slowly began to wonder if it wasn’t going to be some idiot’s metal band music. If he had been barking up the wrong tree this whole time, he was going to feel like utter garbage.
Damien stormed out of the room.
“Yeah, you run!” His mother yelled at him. “When are you gonna hit puberty and let those suckers drop? I could use a man around the house.”
Sands rolled his eyes. He was so sick of the domestic drama. In the least, he could break up their fight and offer Damien the chance to press charges for physical assault against his mother. Which, he obviously wouldn’t do. He stood from the couch, and walked over to the speakers of the stereo. He got up close to hear better. He heard what sounded like a female voice, though it was faint. He got down on his knee and leaned his ear right up to the speaker. He could hear the clanking and rustling of metal. Some of it sounded like the rhythm of footsteps. He heard the female voice again, more distinctly this time, though he couldn’t make out what was said. He reached up with his hand and grabbed the volume knob of the stereo, turning the it up louder. There was a brief silence on the tape, but it was shattered with a long and screeching of metal. It was so loud that Sands pulled back from the speaker. The woman screamed, and then after some rustling and clanking of metal, he heard what sounded to be the first blow against the woman’s body. He heard the sound of blade meeting flesh and bone. It was a sound he’d heard before, when he had been stabbed while working as a beat cop in his early days on the force.
He heard another blow. More screaming. Another blow. More screaming. More screaming. Another blow and another. Silence. Cutting, hacking, chopping. Silence. The tape stopped.
Sands stood up and turned around. Damien’s mother was standing there looking at him with a smirk. “That’s it. That’s what he does, every day. Making those stories. Been doing it for years. It’s a bit macabre for my tastes. But you get the idea.” She seemed oddly proud of her son, if not oblivious.
Before Sands could even muster a word, he watched in a frozen state as Damien came walking back into the living room fully clad in medieval armor. He stuck a sword right into his mother’s back, it pierced straight through and came out just underneath the heart. She didn’t scream, she just gasped and her eyes rolled upwards into her head. Sands could hear Damien screaming in despair under his helmet. He forced her off of his blade and she fell to the floor. Damien stood over her, staring at her, moaning through the metal.
“FREEZE.” Sands pulled his handgun and took aim at Damien. “Drop the weapon!” Damien didn’t comply, still staring at his dead mother. “I said drop your weapon!”
Damien charged at Sands, who fired two shots. One bounced off Damien’s chest, the other of his shoulder. The bullets only slowed the inevitable. Damien stuck Sands through the chest with the sword, clasping the hilt with both hands, he shoved him into the stereo. He raised him up with the sword off the floor, Sands feeling the pain of the sword in his chest. Damien turned him quickly and pinned him against the wall with the sword.
Sands was just inches off the floor, just high enough he couldn’t reach with his toes and give himself relief. His heartbeat was becoming irregular and he knew he didn’t have much time. But there was no way he was letting Damien live to kill another soul.
Damien was face-to-face with him, yelling unintelligible things through his helmet at Sands.
Sands looked past Damien and saw the lava lamps and lanterns. This was his chance. He took a deep breath, and then lifted his legs up and wrapped them around Damien, pulling him in close. He wrapped his left arm around his helmet and held it tight. He pressed the barrel of his gun against the slit for Damien’s left eye. “This is not your night, Damien.” Sands said, and then pulled the trigger.
Damien screamed in pain and thrashed, trying to break free of Sands’ grasp, but he would not let him go. He held him with his left arm and legs, and then took aim at the shelf and fired two more shots. Three lava lamps shattered and spilled onto the dangerous collection of cables below. Sparks began to fly, and eventually flames. He took aim at the lanterns on the table, which was a further distance, and he knew it was going to take more effort for accuracy. He was losing strength between the sword and Damien’s thrashing in pain. He knew he only had two more shots left. They had to count. He took several deep breaths, and then fired two shots. The first missed and hit the wall. The second took out two lanterns, and the fire spread quickly across the table. The old table cloth beneath them was also helpful to the cause. Within a matter of minutes the flames were eating up the walls of the dining room, and a few minutes after that the magazines and papers were spreading the fire further through the house. But what Sands didn’t realize was that the nasty smell was of kerosene, and it was caked all over the walls of the house from an improper use of kerosene heaters through the years. The house would be a mere pile of ashes within twenty minutes.
Within that time, Sands tossed his gun with the emptied clip, and held tightly onto Damien. Refusing to let him go, he held him there, making sure he would not escape the flames. Together they enjoyed the embrace of the tongues of fire, Sands taking pleasure in knowing Damien died before him.
Misty Klovus’ case would be turned over to Cold Case a few months later.
I should be releasing a new short story tomorrow, another victim in the I Will Kill You for $5 gig. It’s an interesting turn, and this was a song I listened to while writing it. So now I’m sharing this creepy song for inspiration on this week’s Musical Writing Prompt.
Freddy’s Coming for You
Probably gonna upset some folks, but I’m not a Nightmare on Elm Street fan at all. But, I will admit I do kinda like the remake they did in 2010, from which soundtrack this ditty comes. I like the soundtrack by Steve Jablonsky a lot, actually. He did a great job with it. The movie isn’t great, I know, but I like it better than the old ones. But that being said… you have to keep in mind that I didn’t see the old ones until way later. I can understand why people who saw them when they originally came out like them, but it’s hard to get into them late in the game.
People just can’t wait to be killed, I guess. My next contestant is someone I actually know in real life. In REAL life, people!
You can read the previous 3 entries here.
Download the Files
So her real name isn’t Bootsy Hambone. And normally, I wouldn’t except that for this gig, but because I know her in real life and know she uses the name quite a bit as a stage and radio name, I made an exception.
Yes, stage and radio name, you heard (read?) me right. Bootsy is a bassist and also does a radio show for independent artists every Sunday evening with her husband, who is a guitarist and vocalist. They both adore rock ‘n’ roll and blues, and have been making such music for quite a while. I won’t bother to guess how many years. I’ve known them for far less than they’ve played, and they are great. So, killing her was pretty fun. I got to incorporate her love of music, her sense of style when she performs, and so on. It meant I got to write a pretty cool character. Especially, when you consider the character’s name in the story is Bootsy Hambone.
The above image is of the real Bootsy Hambone playing her left-handed bass. Stylistically this image also gives you a glimpse of the character you’re about to read.
And now, without further ado, I give you the story. Enjoy.
Bootsy Hambone’s Grease Monkey and Encore
Bootsy Hambone stepped outside the backdoor of the Grease Monkey, a blues jive she’d inherited from her mother ten years before. She stood under the rusty awning, letting it catch the rain and deposit it on the broken alley around her. She slid her black jacket over her white T-shirt and black jeans. Her ash blonde hair was cut off just under the ears and stood a harsh contrast to her dark attire. She adjusted the square, black sunglasses on her nose. The shades rarely came off. She went by the name Bootsy Hambone, which was a stage name her mother had given her at an early age. She put an electric bass in her hand as soon as she could hold it, which turned out to be age three, and said, “Play rock ‘n’ roll or the blues. Nothing else will do.”
Over time there were few people who knew her real name, and those that did eventually died off, like her mother. The name had stuck. Only those who were close to her could call her by her off stage nickname, Black Coffee. She liked her coffee like her clothes, black.
She ruffled her collar up, blocking the wind and stuck a cigarette between them. She lit it and shoved the lighter back in her jacket. She stuck her left foot in the door, so she could hear Rainy Day by Sandy Nelson play on the jukebox inside. She leaned against the rail of the stairs and tapped her right foot on the step below.
She was killing time. Biding time.
She always needed to let it roll off before a killing.
The door opened and out stepped Johnny, he nodded, “Black Coffee. He’s here.”
She saw that his knuckles were busted and bloodied. “Did he give you any trouble?” She took one final inhale of the drag before flicking it across the alley into the rain.
“No more than usual,” Johnny said, “It’s his kid you gotta worry about.”
“Fair enough,” she said and stepped into the back of the Grease Monkey.
They walked through the dirty, run down kitchen that smelled of cheap beer and dirty dishes. Her dishwasher, newly hired, was flirting with a cocktail waitress. She stopped and lowered her shades to glare at him. He spun around and started cleaning the dishes that had piled up in the sink from the night before. The cocktail scurried off.
“Remind me to fire him,” she said to Johnny. “And kill the music.”
“Right,” he said.
“And one more thing,” she stopped at the door to the lounge, “Get me the usual.”
“It’s done, on the front of the stage,” he said, and pointed through the round window of the kitchen doors. Sitting on the edge of the small stage was a glass of red wine, her usual.
“Am I that predictable?” She asked. He didn’t respond, just smiled.
She stepped through the doors and walked across the empty lounge. It was dark, except for a few lights installed above the booths along the walls. Each table in the middle of the floor had a simple candle, but those candles weren’t lit until just before opening time. They didn’t open for another hour, so the candles were cold. On the floor, just below the stage, were two men. One was Alexes Gartner, a small business owner who had been fronting her drug sales in the neighborhood for several years. Suddenly, he’d had a change of heart, and now he was quitting the business. He refused to accept deliveries of goods or sell them, either. An example had to be made.
She walked in front of him and looked down at him. He was looking at the floor, and blood dripped from his lips. He was panting. He had a horseshoe style haircut on the top of his head, and what little hair he had left was greying. She looked over at the younger gentleman, who she assumed was his son. He was looking up at her defiantly, and while he looked rather mangled in the face, he still tried to be brave and strong. She smirked at him.
She sat down on the front of the stage, her legs hanging over the side and swung her boots back and forth like a child might, and then crossed them. She picked up her wine and took a sip. She looked to the son, “You his son?” She pointed to Alexes.
“I am his son,” he said proudly, “And you have no…”
“Yeah, sure,” she interrupted, “Look, your father made a contract with me, and he’s honored that contract for many years. And I respect that. I respected him. Until,” she stopped to take a sip of the wine. “Until one day he decides to stop fulfilling that contract. I’m a business person and a musician. I’m simple, I’m easily pleased. Things run smoothly? I’m a happy business person. Things sound great? I’m a happy musician. It’s that simple. But your father,” she sighed and took another sip, “Your father interrupted something beautiful. It would be like pushing Ray Charles out of the way in a concert to pound on his keys with untrained hands. You just don’t do that.” She nodded with a look of understanding and disappointment. “That’s what your father did… to me. And I don’t let people pound on my keys. Actually, I’m a bassist, and I don’t mind letting someone play my instrument. I’m pretty laid back, but if you don’t know what you’re doing and you mess with my instrument? My instrument?” She took a gulp of the wine and finished it off. “You just don’t do that to a player’s instrument.”
“It was my idea, Ms. Hambone,” the son said, “I told him to quit, that he was going to get into trouble with the law. My dad is old, he can’t be doing this. He’s not a criminal. He’s just a store clerk. Always has been. He can’t survive in prison, and let’s face it, if things go belly up you’re not gonna care for my father.”
Bootsy looked at Johnny, as if to ask him something, but without a word he knew the question. She wanted to know what he thought of the boy’s admonition. “It’s the same as he said when we first arrived to pick up Alexes.” He said. “Seems legit. At least he’s sticking to it, Black Coffee.”
Bootsy looked at the son, who still looked confident he could talk his way out of the situation. This only aggravated her more. She wasn’t going to let both of them walk out of the Grease Monkey, and Johnny knew that as well. Only Alexes and his son were unaware that someone had to die. Someone had to pay the price. It was only a matter of who she felt deserved the greater punishment, or perhaps who was the better servant.
“So, if I understand you correctly,” she started, “You are telling me that you talked, or coerced, your father into abandoning his contract?”
“No, wait…” Alexes tried to speak up and interfere, afraid of where it was headed for his son.
“Dad, don’t speak, I got this,” the son chastised. “Yes. It was my idea, but he stands with me, too. We will not sell your drugs anymore, Black Coffee.”
Bootsy jumped from the stage and punched him across the face. “Don’t you ever, ever call me that.” She backed up and tossed her hair back with a twitch of the neck. “Alright, you’re free to go.”
Both Alexes and his son started thanking her over and over. Johnny stepped up behind Alexes and cut him loose. He helped him up to his feet, doing most of the work for him, and setting him on his feet. The son looked around, worried, no one was moving to untie him or help him up. Johnny reached into his leather jacket and pulled out a 9 millimeter handgun and tossed it to Bootsy. She caught it one handed, and quickly cocked it. She placed the barrel against the son’s forehead.
“You would make a lousy business partner,” she told him.
“But you said…” he tried to defend himself.
“I can’t have some hotshot changing the contract at will, you’re out.” She told him, and then pulled the trigger.
It had all happened so fast, Alexes hadn’t even had time to react and defend his son’s life. After the trigger had been pulled, the gun roared, and the son crashed to the floor in a pool of blood. Alexes put out his hand and shouted, “Take me!”
“Oops,” she tilted her head and shrugged in mock sincerity, “Too slow.” She walked over to Alexes and held the gun to his head and met face to face with him for the first time. “I don’t ever want something like this to happen again. Do you?” Alexes stood, frozen. “Do you, Alexes?”
He looked at her and made eye contact. “No.”
“I didn’t think so,” she said, “Now get out of here. Deliveries will return to normal on Tuesdays.”
“What about my son’s body?” He asked her.
“No,” was all she said.
A few moments later, he was gone and she was sitting alone on the edge of the stage once more. She had another glass of wine, and sipped on it to calm the nerves. There was only one other thing that calmed her nerves more than a glass of wine, and that was playing the bass. She looked at the glass in her hand, and it shook. Murder didn’t bother her emotionally anymore, that had passed a long time ago with the nightmares. But the adrenaline was always there, and it always took a certain calm to kill without going gun crazy and another calm to come down from that. She stood up and walked over to her bass. She picked it up by the neck and stepped around to the front of the stage. She leaned on a barstool and pulled another stool over with her foot. She sat the glass of wine on it. She had a wowing factor when she was seen playing for the first time. She was a female bassist and left handed.
She thought for a moment about what to play. She closed her eyes and a familiar tune resonated in the back of her mind. She could hear the bassline. She started to pluck the Peter Gunn theme by Henry Mancini. It didn’t take long for Johnny to come in from the kitchen, he had a Rueben on rye in one hand, and a cigarette in the other. He sat the sandwich down on a nearby table and stuck the cigarette in his mouth, which was still chewing a mouthful. He hurried to the stage and hopped up onto it. He found a guitar and a stereo cable, plugged into an amp and joined in. He picked up on the melody. Johnny was a well-versed and accomplished guitarist, and Bootsy often worried that all the fist work might eventually pay a toll on his ability to play.
They kept playing and trading solos, building the two-minute long song into a much longer and larger than life piece. They were so busy rocking and rolling that they didn’t notice Alexes come running back into the lounge, breaking a tackle from one of her henchmen and tossing a homemade grenade at them. It wasn’t until landed in the pile of stereo cables between them, that they looked up and realized what was happening.
One of the henchmen shot Alexes in the back just as he released the grenade, and he hit the floor. Dead instantly as the bullet cut through his back and carved around his already weak heart.
Bootsy and Johnny tried to untangle themselves quickly from their instruments, and Johnny leapt off the stage and looked back to his boss. She dropped the bass and went to take into a run, but her boot heel caught in a tangle of stereo cables and it pulled her down. She rolled over and tried to unloosen the knot. Johnny grabbed her under her arms.
“Tell me when, and I’ll pull!” He yelled.
“NOW.” She shouted back.
He gave a hard tug, but the grenade exploded before she could even reach the edge of the stage. The entire stage of instruments and cables went shattering and soaring into shrapnel. She saw a microphone stand fly over her and rip across Johnny, whose grip let go at that point. She felt her legs fly over her head and she crashed into table sixteen. She was lying face down, and felt a tremendous pain in her stomach. She propped herself up with her elbows to look underneath her, slipping on the flow of blood. Shrapnel from microphone stands, guitars and even her own bass were cut into her torso. She looked up and saw a large cloud of smoke where the stage once had been. She saw Johnny lying on the floor not far from where he had fallen, and she called out to him, but then realized it was useless. The microphone stand was piercing out of his head. There was no way he had survived it.
Some of the men gathered in front of her, she looked up and they were just staring at her. “What?” She asked. “I’ll make it. Just a little shrapnel.” She looked down, the pain of lifting was too much. The smoke had cleared some and she could see a pair of legs hanging off the edge of the stage. The legs were dressed in a pair of black jeans. They slowly slid and fell off onto Johnny’s body. “Oh,” she said, “That’s not good.” Her elbows gave out and she dropped her head, face first.