Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Dark...Reloaded: "The Sunglasses Girl." Sex, Survival, Something More...

Sometimes, no matter the best intentions, one must deal with Life! So, though trying to be consistent, this is my first blog post in about a week, because I've just had one of those weeks, y'know?! Lots going on, lots to deal with, but now, ahhhhhhh, now I get to dig down into some words: a short piece I am looking to wrap up soon, another one, the other novel in process, and reading, catching up there as well.  And, of course, this blog post dealing with "The Sunglasses Girl."

Here's what one reviewer said the story:  "Another powerful, edgy, and raw piece, juxtaposing the seedier aspects of a man's depravity, with the stuff that matters more - the ability to make decisions on a higher plane. And in failing, suffers the consequences of what emerges from the lower plane (so to speak). This is another example of Smith's prime motif throughout the anthology."

I like that.  I like dealing with the grittier aspects of life or at least allowing the characters to roam amidst the honest psychological landscape said aspects inspire; and, really, as always, it's not me allowing them, no no, it's the road they choose.  My interests as channeled via them.  Sure.  I don't mind getting my hands and mind dirty.  What? Yeah, okay, my mind is dirty in many ways, but here I am referencing gritty.  C'mon!  Life on the streets, baby.   

Here's the link to the previous blog take on the story, lots of fun reading there. 

One of my favorite sequences in all of my stories occurs in this story, when revelations are made yet not quite acknowledged, yet. Too bad for poor Trane, our main character, as he slips and slides through the dark alley existence ignoring guilt or his best intentions until it's too late, riding it all the way down to the blackest pit of horror imaginable.  Well, okay, it's dark stuff, black as pitch, brother to the abyss, that kind of true darkness.

Otherwordly, too.  Hmmm...

Here's that sequence, after Trane and The Sunglasses Girl have had sex, sex and more sex in his car, and he wants something more--"something more" being another prime motivation for many of my characters, not always for the best--and she shows him a hint.

A moment of revelation he chooses to ignore...


Her playfulness abruptly ceased.  “You don’t want to do that,” she snarled like a lioness guarding her kill.  The snarl made his cock twitch.  “More,” she said, hand kneading the insatiable throb.  Now that he had gotten to know her, he thought everything about her was perfection, more so because of all she did, so completely uninhibited.  He felt a connection, maybe something more transpiring with their union, maybe something more between them.  This was different than with the others.  He thought maybe she could become something more than just the evening’s entertainment.  He knew he needed something more, or his life would not get back to any sense of normalcy; he needed structure, routine.  She might just be the one, but he figured he would not know unless he saw what she was thinking; the eyes never lie.  He thought prying would eventually get her to relinquish the black-lens masquerade, with revelations to follow.     

     “I just want to see your eyes.”

     “Prostitution is not an exercise in closeness. Seeing my eyes will make you think you are closer to me than you are.  Maybe you’re looking for something I cannot give you no matter what you think.” Trane leaned back, uneasily attentive.  “You think they will tell you something my lips won’t tell you.  But I will tell you.  I had fun.  You were good, and if you want more, I will gladly accommodate your wishes.  But if you want something more, just because we’ve had great sex and you are lonely and sad and life sucks, and you think my eyes will tell you this, well, don’t—”

     “But I just want—”     

     “No!  If you wanted love, you would not have assumed I was a prostitute in the first place.”

     “But aren’t you a—”

     “I am whatever I need to be, to survive.  To you, I am a prostitute, but you would have not approached the situation from that point of view if you had really wanted something else, something more, would you?”

     She was right, but how was he to know what he wanted until he had tasted her sinfully delightful charms?  Through the fog of confusing feelings, Trane still found the gumption to push even more.  He clicked on the dome light, pulled his wallet out of his discarded pants, opened it, and told her to take what she wanted.  The bank account was almost drained, but his wallet was always prepared for these digressions: he was loaded.  She took much.  She was worth it.  After she had taken what she thought she deserved, or what she thought he thought she deserved, he plucked a crisp $100 bill from what remained and said, “I want to see your eyes.”

     “No!”  Not even a flinch of possibility.

     Trane pulled out two more $100 bills. 

     She squirmed, noticeably discomforted, but snapped the three $100 bills from his fingers.  He smiled, his erection, even after the exhausting exertion of the previous few hours, starting to dance.  She smiled, all teeth, vicious, gleaming with disgust, and took off her sunglasses.

     “Remember, you made this choice,” she seethed.

     The moment was brief.  Description was useless, but Trane’s mind flashed with unexpected images: vast gulfs of infinite, starless space; yawning abysses where the lost tumbled for eternity; black scars that oozed blindness.  He felt an oppression begin to suffocate him.  She had no eyes, per se, just the empty sockets where they should be, empty sockets that defined the word “empty” in new, disturbing ways: fathomless wells in which the echoed response of the dropped stone would never speak.  They epitomized nothingness, a vast, turbulent nothingness that indicated there was no soul within her, no self, nothing of substance—nothing!—but something of unspecified definition that roiled like a cavern of agitated bats.  The nothingness started to leak like viscous black rivers from a whirlpool of resentment and hatred and loathing and spite and so much more negativity—negativity, that was what he witnessed; the whirlpool writhed with an omniscient negativity—Trane’s head pulsated with the pummeling weight of her wrath.  He gasped, his erection went south, and she put the sunglasses back on. 

     It was only one moment.


...because after that last paragraph, that one moment, he's so disorientated, well, his choices, as they've been for awhile, are not in his best interest.  But as for her survival, his bad choices are what she's banking on.

Gave you a little more set-up before it all goes off the edge of the table, I hope you appreciated that.  What? A quote from Eddie Van Halen, I think.  He said that in an interview when talking about influences and saying Eric Clapton was a huge influence, and how he loved the way Clapton's guitar solos often sounded as if they had fallen off the edge of the table. What? Yeah, useless info, but I gotta let it out to play sometimes, y'know?


Also, one more note, the end of the story has a strong nod toward the movie, The Man With The X-Ray Eyes, starring Ray Milland and directed by Roger Corman.  That and something Stephen King said in his book, Danse Macabre. He mentions movies and how at the end of this movie, the final line that they edited out was supposed to be, "I can still see."  Which, under the circumstances of Milland's character, just having plucked out his eyes, is a widly disturbing image yet fraught with possiblities.  That's where, well, when you read this story, remember that and when you get to the end, that was my mindset. 

Here's some lovely links to buy the book, my friends.  Don't be afraid, it won't bite.  Well, it might nibble on your brain and make you squirm with discomfort or dread but, no, it won't really...bite. 
Amazon Amazon UK Amazon Germany Amazon France B&N OmniLit Kobo and how about the Amazon reviews pages, eh?

And, yes, I will update the look of this blog at some point, probably more so when back in Rome which isn't toooooo far off!  ;-)

As for a photo here, hmmm, how about a painting by the surrealist, Vladimir Kush, who does uniquely Kushesque art.   If you look over all of his pieces, there's a tone, feel, there's that element that distinguishes it as his work and nobody elses; not dark, more playful, which I can appreciate, too.  Here we have a pair of sunglasses...with the eyes captured within, something that could have saved Trane a lot of anguish, eh?  What? Yeah, buy the book, find allll about what becomes of him, okay?!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Another Quickie: Famous In Italy? No, But I Publish Poems There...

oddly enough. 

It's gotta be the Roman girlfriend connection, of course.

Anyway, just last week the first volume of Rome's Revolutionary Poets Brigade was released by Edizioni Ensemble, a small publisher of Books of Quality, from what I can see.  My girlfriend, Alessandra Bava, had her first poetry chapbook, Guerrilla Blues, published by them and as I've held it in my hands and read it frontwards, backwards, upside-down and more, inspected it and such, I can wholeheartedly confirm that, yes, they do quality work.

I have three poems in the collection: Legacy of Warhol, Number One With A Bullet, and Hyenas & Vultures.  All deal with observations of the world in one way or another, misguided goals or misguided leaders or, yeah, just midguided!  More so, I'm in Excellent Company as some of Italy's finest poets, including Alessandra, of course, as well as Marco Cinque (his "Incorrect Lines" is a real kick in the head opening salvo), Olga Campofreda, Marco Lupo, and he rest, really bring powerful imagery and ideas to life with their words.  I'm a part of the mix, kind of an honorary member, I suspect, though I hope when I am back in Rome soon to participate in some readings and what-not in promoting this stellar collection.  Oh, and last but not least, the introduction to the whole thing is by former SF Poet Laureate and all-around cool guy, Jack Hirschman.  Alessandra translated all of the poems into English--it's a bilingual presentation--and I assisted in, um...Americanizing some of the translations? I don't know, she did the heavy work, I supported the efforts and it's a fantastic endeavor, for sure    

I've also had my poem, Cockroach Paradise, published last year in this lovely anthology with a message as well, Acqua Prevata No Grazie.  So, yes, I am famous in Italy as a poet or, well, at least a participant in some strange way with the poetic world over there.

Life is one weird ride.  What?  Yeah, I've said it before and will say it again, but it's always making me shake my a good way.  This is an example of a good way, hehe. 

All that and later this year as part of the second Revolutionary Poets Brigade Anthology, edited by Jack Hirschman and...I think his wife, Agneta Falk Hirschman, another poet of much worth and much potency and fire--a really excellent wordsmith; I will have to confirm, maybe it was a dream or something, I know Hirschman's putting it together and seem to remember, um...hey, where's Alessandra when I need answers?  Well, THAT anthology will include a couple more of my poems, the ever-popular well as Does It Matter?  And, of course, in expanding my International Fame--yeah, right, okay, John Claude, don't let this go to your head!  Never, trust me, none of this goes to my head.  I have no ego.  It just makes me smile and I just keep writing...--wow, that was a long break there...anyway, this one will be published out of France, so hey, with poems published in the USA, Italy and France, I'm well on my way to...well, continuing to write and grow as a writer of poetry and, more so, fiction, but poetry is a wonderful outlet, another branch of this thing I do.

For your amusement, here's Cockroach Paradise, dealing with the misuse of water in our world.  Something we really cannot afford to do.



Cockroach Paradise
by John Claude Smith

water, water everywhere
water, water everywhere?

sipping oil spill martinis
off the coast of New Orleans
the big money movers and shakers
live for the moment and their bloated pocketbooks
not the soiled memories of their great grandchildren
or the gasping cries of gulls dying on blackened beaches
all because humankind is not too kind
while west coast oil and gas marauders
corrupt groundwater with a process called "fracking"
& islands sculpted from plastic water bottles
clog currents fifty miles from the dimming Golden Gate
& nuclear mishap deconstruction
reconstructs the frowning Japanese seaboard 
into a decaying, toothless radioactive smile
Mother Nature's swollen teat spouts inkspot nourishment
& the slow death befitting our just rewards
all because humankind is not too kind
or cognizant of the crimes at hand
the tip of the dunce hat iceberg
crowned in stupidity and soul devouring greed
leering and crouching in the corner
masturbating with our lifeblood as lubrication
with ignorance at the wheel and negligence riding shotgun
& environmental care and fleeting survival instincts
flailing in the rear view mirror
as our final destination gains clarity
the sun sets into the empty soul of a dead ocean
a permanent vacation decreed Extinction awaits
all because humankind is not too kind
& the water that is our lifeblood
is the dumping ground for our fleeting folly:
life as the dominant race of this planet
I raise an empty glass to the cockroaches
toast their imminent rule
swigging on dust
& humankind's dead futures

water, water everywhere?
water, water nevermore


Next time, back to the second big promo push for the book.  More samples/teasers/insight/ name it, it's on the way.

Here's...well, was looking for a cockroach picture and this popped up, a Surreal Victorian Steampunk THE MECHANICAL COCKROACH.  Wild and quite handsome, eh?!  I can dig it!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Dark...Reloaded: "The Dark Is Light Enough For Me": A Six Sentence Sunday Special Edition.

Just because I'm doing this second big deal promo run for the collection and it's Sunday, here's a Six Second Sunday snippet of Deep Down in the Darkest Rabbit Hole Horror culled from the title story, "The Dark Is Light Enough For Me": deep within a narrow mind focused on goals that would seem absurd; deep within the soul of a bleak reality we cannot imagine; deep within a supernaturally aligned existence fueled by a lifetime of years spent in search of "something more," something beyond the mindset of the average human, which our main character, James, struggles always to deny his association, even when he tries to fit in.

Many of the reviews acknowledge a Thomas Ligotti vibe in my work, yet for me, that comes mostly from this story, a purposeful trek into the mental landscape of one scarred (or perhaps enhanced by) a perception of disgust with humanity and aspirations of complete self-annihilation, in some respects.  But what respects? Well, that's part of the puzzle of this complex piece.  See, you have to realize, I didn't know where it was leading until I wrote the flashback sequence toward the end of the story; or even the ending, something born of that sequence, meshing the psychological with the supernatural.

Meshing James' dream with the yawning void he so loved...

A couple clips from reviews

"This is a particularly good short story. We have the protagonist, James, with a disturbing life history (a pattern in many of Smith's stories), being drawn into a writer's group, discovering not only that the entire group have written the same complex work, but that there is a strange story associated with why he uniquely joined the group. This short is extremely well written - with a highly mature, insightful narrative, and without resorting to the more blatant tropes of horror, is in fact very horrifying. A dark piece worthy of wide readership."

"The title story alone will leave you teetering in existential terror..."

Here's six sentences amidst the madness before the flashback and finality.


     As it approached, the figure, which might once have been human, turned to me and said, “I know too much, I see too much” in a voice that did not pass judgment on this knowledge.

     It said this to me, for my elucidation alone.   

     “No,” Frank and Michelle protested, all of them tearing at the walls, the smells growing stronger now, the smells of blood and disease, filth and fear.

     More figures illumed out of the darkness, not bright like light bulbs, but blurry, like denial.

     Stan leapt at a window, which cracked but did not break.  He moaned.


Funny, one of the things I've noticed in other Six Sentence Sunday snippets is a tendency to have one or two more sentences, not just six.  I understand why, because even here, I want to tease you more with the paragraph before this...and where it all leads.  I simply want you to read the stories to delight in or repulse in my wicked playground imagination.

Whatever, yeah, yeah, here's some purchasing links, for Amazon B&N OmniLit Kobo & Amazon in the UK France & Germany.

Did I tell you the "I know too much story"?  Hang on, let me check...No, I didn't but for the sake of being thorough, here's a link to the previous blog post dealing with this story.  Now, the story about that statement, which has haunted me ever since I heard it.  Back up, here goes.  I was out with my buddy, Fred, in a Carl's Jr. hamburger joint in San Francisco, grimy part of town, strip clubs across the street, yeah inspiration for my sick mind everywhere.  Ahem.  Anyway, as we sat there eating, a homeless man meandered into the restaurant, made his way to the salad bar...and started to trash it! As the crew working there attempted to get a hold on the situation, he looked at me, directly at me, his eyes going from glazed and distant, as if not even there, to so focused I felt the laser burn at the back of my skull--yeah, through My Eyes and into the back of my skull--and he said, "I know too much."  And was done, out of there.

I know he did.

That sentence has wriggled into my synaptic mainframe and set up house.  It came up in my first novel, a similar sequence, actually--the novel is called, The Corner Of His Mind, it's not yet published--as well as in a couple short stories.  It resonates with possibilities.

I. Know. Too. Much.

And I want to know what he knows...even if insanity is where it all leads.  Well, okay, not insanity, but stories culled from a place not often trespassed by other writers, perhaps...

Let's see...a piece of art? Here's a great one from Rob Sheridan called, ahem, "Eyeball(oon)." How does it relate to my story?  Well, there are many eyeballs being tossed around in the quest of forging a doorway to a dark matter dimension, well, yeah, that's kind of it.  At least this young girl has a tether to her eyeball(oon) so she doesn't lose it.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Dark...Reloaded: "Strange Trees." Nature & Ritual & A Fictional Anthology?

My fascination with strange trees, with what goes on in nature that we have no clue about, runs deep.  So deep that this story was to be one of a handful dealing with the subject of not just strange trees but strange nature, foundation for a fictional anthology called Strange Trees. I may still write those stories, probably because the wily, wicked ways of nature supply a wealth of possible paths to explore.  And in saying, "wicked," that's only a perception we humans lend to what we don't know; to the mysterious, the unknown and even unknowable.  Because in the forest, my friend, we cannot truly know what goes on, what spirits or forces run rampant beyond our view. 

That's even a  major part of my novel, "The Wilderness Within," in which a sentient forest plays a major role.  I can't wait for you to read that one, oh yes.  You think some of my short fiction is, um, fun...hehehehe...when it all hits the wall in the novel, all bets are off.  What happens then is like nothing you've ever read.  Trust me on that.  But, in saying that, let's be real: a lot of speculative fiction is like nothing you've ever read.  That's just my way of saying you'll have a wild ride, that's all.  ;-)  I believe I may start posting samples and more from the novel(s) after this second big promo push for The Dark Is Light Enough for Me.  

Anyway, nature gone weird plays a key role in many of my stories and this one is a prime example.  Here's what a couple reviewers had to say about "Strange Trees."

"Another piece that has a traditional structure, but with unique undercurrents. The concept that malevolent trees awaken by the onset of menstruation with one of the protagonists, is effective. I also found the language and the POV more tradional than any other of Smith's stories in the anthology, almost (in a modern sense) like H.P. Lovecraft - clinical language - longer sentences, with
evocative descriptions."

"Our self-image (and self-worth) is attacked in "I Want To Be A Pretty Little Girl," as nature's dark secrets are revealed in "Strange Trees.""

"Strange Trees; indeed, strange, strange."

Yeah, Strange.

And here's a sample snagged from after the trees have somehow persuaded Terrence to leave his girlfriend at their disposal...yeah, okay, it may all seem bizarre, but buy the book and it comes together in a weird dance of disturbing revelations right about...



     I awoke abruptly, a sudden hiccup, exhalation of trapped air, face moist and cold, the whole of me, damp.  My eyes ached, adjusting, gray skies above me—movement!  Impossible movement at the edges and all around me.  The sky was overcast, my vision coming into focus, finally, but what of the movement?  What—

     The trees were moving!  The trees were moving, hunched over, a scrum mocking the laws of nature, the core of what was above ground seeming kinetic.

     That is when I saw her—Mandy—clothing shredded and strapped upon a mound, held there via the roots of some thicker trees that coiled out from below the ground and subdued her as sufficiently as buckled straps.  The thin, mobile trees leaned over with a flexibility that defied logic, an elasticity that obliterated normal perceptions, dipping spear-like tips into her body, crimson tipped now—looking like the quills of those who sign their souls over to the devil—what was going on?    

     The trees were changing color as they did this, the bleached bone look—gone— replaced by a healthier tan turning to rich brown pigment. 

     She was the “it” they—yes, the trees—wanted brought to them, the “it” they wanted me to bring to them.  Me, somehow drafted, persuaded, responsible for her outrageous incapacitation.   

     I screamed “No” as I got up, tearing thin roots that were haphazardly draped over my body—I hadn’t even noticed them—the efficiency of their effort to restrain me distracted by the easy attraction and fulfillment of Mandy’s more susceptible condition: her blood had been what they had wanted, reasons withheld and beyond my comprehension.  The trees turned in unison, facing me—unwilling participant to their hideous desires—branches brandished in clenched talon urgency, the whole of their bodies slapping down around me with brutal, wood-cracking vehemence.  I stumbled to an awkward stance, spear-like tips shooting in my direction like daggers, flailing branches intent on snaring me.


What's left is a harsh resignation to those mysterious forces of nature we can never really know...

Yes, I will at some point update the blog look a bit to add pages for ordering and reviews and stuff.  Right now, times are hectic and I'm just trying to be consistent with the posts.  So, the book is called, The Dark Is Light Enough For Me, and it's available via Amazon, B&N, OmniLit, Kobo and more.  Actual links are posted in every other blog teaser/sample.  Buy it for a truly fantastical and dread-laced, deeply psychological and even supernatural ride through my wicked playground imagination.

More in a couple/few days, of course.  As I said, consistency, baby, that's what I'm doing now.  Same thing needs to lock in with the too many stories in progress. But that happens, then there's a surge, and a lot get completed.  I'm sure many of the writers out there understand what I'm talking about.

Here's a tree creature, one that might just be releated to the sentient trees in the story, though this fella, created by Oliver Chipping, seems more a hybrid of man and tree and...hmmm, that's one of my fave myths and ideas to work with, too.  Man, nature, melded...hmmm...


Monday, May 14, 2012

A Quickie, Then Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Story Teaser/Samples After This Poem About Politics...

No, I don't do politics.


A lot of the poetry I like deals with the world at hand, the chaos that dominates.  Which means, yeah, politics can play an intergral role in some of what I enjoy about poetry.  Don't get me wrong, I love a wide variety of poetry.  Dark verse or keen insight, observations of the flesh, the soul, or of what's right outside your front door; revolutionary ideals or even horror poetry, if it's done with an eye toward something original and not simply fancy bloodletting.  The point is I enjoy poetry...and write some, too, have had some published, have published some here on the blog, have some slated for anthologies out later this year and...sooooo...since I am zonked and wanted to get a quickie post up here, thought, well, I'll post this poem I wrote about politics and get back to the teaser/samples blogs for my collection in a day or two.  What's the name of the collection?  Yes, by now if you've been paying attention, you know it's called, The Dark Is Light Enough For Me, though how many of you have bought it?  Ahhhh, here's the purchasing links for Amazon & B&N & OmniLit & Amazon UK & there's more, that's a few... Anyway, taking a brief break, so now, a masterpiece of politically-aligned poetry entitled, "Turd."

What the...?

Yeah, "Turd."  I have never liked that word, remember way back when, buying The Rolling Stones 2bl LP, Exiles on Main Street--haha, kind of a weirdly kismet title for a post on politics, perhaps--and there's a song on that thar 2bl album called, "Turd on the Run," and years later many people and polls consider this one of The Greatest Rock Album(s) Ever, yet I could never consider this as viable because there's a damned song on it called, "Turd on the Run," so now, here I am, that word never works for me, dislike that word immensely, yet now it's found its purpose!  Now, in the politically-charged climate that's only going to get hotter and uglier over the next six months or so in the states, "Turd" makes all the sense in the world.  Without further adieu...


By John Claude Smith

It might wear a thousand dollar suit,
Teeth whitened to a piercing glare,
Hair sprayed stiff as a plastic helmet,
Squinting eyes like rifle scopes set on the masses:


Apparently you can polish a turd,
Make the empty-headed puppet smile and dance,
But it will always be a turd.
Just take a deep sniff.

That’s the smell of your children’s futures turning to dust.

Fucking politicians!


No, not great art, but it was fun to write!  hehe...  It IS appropriate, though, this scribbled fist of words shaken toward Those In Power whose goals are at odds with common sense and humanity, in particular the rights of women and...oh, ahem.  Yeah, you know which way this leans.

But remember...

I don't do politics.

Next time, back to the book, more teaser/samples to whet your appetite.  For now, here's the back cover of The Rolling Stones' Exiles on Main Street because sometimes nonsense is all we got.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Dark...Reloaded: "Things That Crawl...In Hollywood." Love, Greed...Body Parts.

"Things That Crawl...In Hollywood" is, I am sure, a direct response to that Philip Jose Farmer story with a character with a double penis, if I remember correctly, and...was there a battle involving said double penis?  Something, anything, I'm grasping at greased straws here. Well, it was something of that bizarre nature, but here I've infused that lunacy into my disgust for Hollywood and all things celebrity, and decided to go simply mad, my dears!  As in, though I mostly write serious, deep, serious, mind-expanding, er...serious fiction, with this one, the black humored lunacy abounds and it was damn fun to write [though it also taps into that deep vibe with the observations on love, perhaps].  Here's a brief sample as the hapless celebrity screw-up, Brande, realizes why exactly he's been dragged to the epicenter of...of...let's just say, anybody who has had plastic surgery, enchancements, what have you, has had those body parts fall off and mutate, take on a life of their own, and now, ah, yes, now...there's Reality TV $$$$$ to be made, so...

[and after this, an amusing tidbit about my mother] [what the HECK is my mother doing in this post? hang on...]


     “W-what’s g-going to...happen?”

     “Well,” he [ed. note: he is Merrill Thatcher, a big-time dealer in Reality TV BS] held the pad up to Brande’s face, tapping the place next to Brande’s name, and Brande cringed as he read the two words that followed his name: penis enhancement.

     “Oh, shit.” The metallic ting ting ting of a zipper being rudely wrenched apart was followed by Brande’s bug-eyed appraisal of his penis as it burst from the confines of his pants, fully three, maybe four times in length as what he had bargained for with the doctors in South America, as thick as his well-toned bicep and wiggling like an eel in his desperate hands.

     Jane Hart Rivers guffawed in bright amusement: “I loved you, not your dick. The real you.  But once again, your dick will be your downfall!”

     Brande barely heard her, distracted by the preposterous, propeller-like gyrations emanating from his groin.  Thatcher angled away from the tentacle-like lashing of Brande’s penis.  Brande tried to contain it, to no avail. 

     And then, with full-on ejaculatory force, the penis spat a steaming rope of semen at Thatcher, a dry, wiry cable that braided itself around Thatcher’s neck like a noose.

     Thatcher was swift to respond, whipping out the .44 Magnum, squeezing the trigger and obliterating the semen like noose.  “No pearl necklace for me, buddy boy!  Strictly hetero, evil dick!”

     The semen turned to liquid again, and Thatcher seemed even more appalled by this, wiping it off his shirt and soiled skin.

     The penis paused like a cobra, arched and ready to attack.  Thatcher did not want to have to shoot the penis. He wanted it in the cage.  But with the camera’s rolling, he was sure he’d gotten what was necessary for the PPV contract to kick in big time, so it didn’t really matter at this point. 

     With a mild tearing sound reminiscent of the peeling that separates two pieces of Velcro, the penis dislodged itself from Brande’s groin, lunging toward Thatcher.  Jane Hart Rivers snickered at the bizarre theatrics.

     “You can’t keep a good man down, eh, Merrill?”    

     Thatcher grabbed the penis at the base of the head as it spit and hissed just above his fingers—the mutant maw grinding and gnashing angrily—kicked the door to the cage open, shoved it in alongside Karina Payne’s breast, and slammed it shut.

     Sucking deeply on his cigar, his breathing raspy, Thatcher said, “You can’t keep a good man down, but this Brande imbecile is no good man.”  He glanced with disgust toward Brande.

     Brande seemed oblivious to what had just transpired beyond a dazed observation of the hairless mound where his penis used to reside.   He shuddered, staring in disbelief.

     “It’s gone.  There’s nothing there.  It’s gone!”

     “No, smart boy, it’s right here.”  Thatcher pointed to the cage, in which the penis lovingly snuggled up to the breast. They looked almost normal again.


Sometimes you write a line that so captures the heart of the story.  With "Things That Crawl..." this line always makes me smile, so ridiculous yet so appropo: “No pearl necklace for me, buddy boy! Strictly hetero, evil dick!”  Yes, yes, a classic, I know [he said, bowing, pants ripping as well as his deflating ego...].


So, my mother.  She bought this collection.  Of course she would, but it's nothing like what she would normally read. Sure, some of the stories might work for her, she used to read a lot of horror and related stuff and helped set me on my path as a horror writer, I'm sure.  But now she's 79, quite Christian, and I remember her saying when she first got the book, flipping to a random page and at the top of the page, a cuss-word, "I can't read this!"  Adamant...until, well, she read some of the reviews.  And for some reason beyond my imagining, she decided to read this story.  Yeah, all those body parts including wayward breasts and Brande's leaping penis.  Oh, maaaaaaaaaaaaan.  I laughed and cringed and had to laugh harder when she told me she had read it and couldn't put it down, no matter the subject matter.  She was cracking up when she told me this story.  Though I don't know if she's ventured any deeper into the collection, just knowing she read this story makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, that's the cat!  No, wait, that's no cat.  Where is this going?

No matter.  Just another taste of my collection, The Dark Is Light Enough For Me, available via Amazon, B&N, OmniLit, Kobo and, I'm sure, more online sellers.  Check it out and I'll see you in a couple/few days with something much darker and more 'me,' though something tells me this one's as much me as any of the stories; just me in a perverse, comical mood.

Here's a lovely photo of Angelina Jolie with what looks like some pieces of her facing having fallen off...


Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Dark...Reloaded: "Plastic." Dreams & Transformation...

Going with the flow compels me to ride the current with this second batch of story teasers/samples/overviews for my collection,  The Dark Is Light Enough For Me. Which explains why "Plastic" is up now as opposed to the second story, the title story.  Very Zen, which came up in a conversation online yesterday, how often my buddy, Fred, and I will go out for an evening with no real plans, perhaps a concert in mind but not set, and we let the current of LIFE lead us where we are suppoesed to be.  It's most always led to some great revelations: I remember the first or one of the first times we did this, we ended up in Berkeley, CA, a club where we had to go down funky stairs into a cramped space, where squeezing between bodies drenched in sweat seemed the norm, and a band came on stage, actually two of them, that blew us away.  Morphine was the headliner, a prime discovery as we watched them, a single-string bass and sax caressing our ears as we took it all in, hunched over, trying to avoid banging our heads on the low ceiling. 

Anyway, the point is, my inner GPS (ahem) has lead me to "Plastic" for two reasons, I believe.  It also has, as noted about the first story, "Black Wings," a section with free-flowing drive, brain shut down and let the characters frolic as they wish, and it deals with something, the major something of all of my fiction, no matter the chaos, the horror or speculative nature, no matter the perversion or absurdity.  That something is people, the characters.  My favorite stories deal with people.  Sure, I am a huge fan of Weird fiction, magic realism and literary horror, and Need atmosphere and more, but it's the characters, character studies, actually, that really pull me in.  I could go on for days about this subject as so many writers don't get this; perhaps there's a future blog aligning itself in my head.  But for the sake of combining the two elements, that free-flowing drive that steers deep into two people holding on by a ragged thread, here's a major chunk o' chapter five of "Plastic," our protagonist having broken down, fallen hard off the wagon, fallen because of LIFE and a woman now who reminds him of one from his past; because of an insidious job, which might just be helping lead him toward this breakdown with a purpose...; because of the past and how it can hold us back if we allow it.  And so much more.  But now, words, character study...and even a bit of transformation, but not exactly as he is thinking.

And, yes, as I look back on the previous "Plastic" teaser, this has some of the same sample, but it's got more, expands on what I had posted there to really give the flavor of the free-flowing breakdown into simple revelations about life and possibly love...then the strange revelations that follow. 



     Last night, I remember running off with Melissa, leaving Kris to fend for herself, me in a bad sort, frame of mind to be broken, so I grabbed the mental sledgehammer and assisted in the breaking.  Off to Shimmer, one of those retro clubs Melissa so loved, as if its mere existence were to fulfill her need to stay locked into the 80s as much as I was trying to stay locked into my goals, my floundering goals.

     I drank too much, the bands were loud and generic and so very familiar and excruciatingly dull, more wannabe aspirations on display, slowly dying with every listless, regurgitated power chord, cover songs galore gleaned from the obvious—Poison, Motley Crue, Cinderella—all the hits, all the time, never an original moment but me drinking, loving it, hating it, burying something—my anger, frustration, something more: my goals?—and smiling because alcohol pulled smiles from within the shadows of my gnarled soul, and I smiled and Melissa gave me head in the friggin’ men’s room, her specialty, and it was good. I think of Mark’s favorite joke: “Did I ever tell you about the worst blow job I ever got?  It was great.”—but I cannot say for sure and...

     Ending up at her place, Rachel’s there as well, with some guy who looked like the standard retro loser—mullet-head, purposeful twenty-four hour shadow, tight denim, an Aerosmith tattoo on his right bicep, a bicep that looked like it would never house a real muscle.  Christ, I wanted out but was too fucked up to walk away, running should have been the course of action, but Melissa laughed and said, “See, I told ya’ you couldn’t live without the lifestyle,” and me thinking, Fuck you, I don’t need this shit, I don’t need any of it, and Rachel’s all lips and tits and I’m on top of her while the loser fucks Melissa doggy style, barking while he does—A #1 Loser—and she’s loving it, calls him Diamond Dave, though I knew his name was not Dave, it’s her fantasy and he does not care as long as he’s getting something besides the four knuckle shuffle this evening. And Rachel’s shoving those tits in my face and I am smothered in this mess, this madness, loving it, hating it, wanting it to stop and...

     In the bathroom, puking up everything and more, maybe my soul is in that mush as well, no chunks, I did not eat anything, just a warm distillery of smells the color of rot striped with yellow bile that burned my throat, and still angry, though different now. It had shifted, not angry at my new life stumbling but at the old, miserable one clawing at my resolve and soiling it as it always did. Dizzy as well, the walk to the bathroom was clunky, as if I needed lessons, a guide dog, something, and crawling out of the bathroom to see A #1 Loser pulling on his pants, trying to squeeze too little into too tight and saying to me, “Great girls, eh?” and me waving him off, go away, all of you go away, and...

     Leaving.  Walking the long walk.  Stopping at a Quik Stop for tomato juice and aspirin and Wheat Thins, my hangover remedy, don’t ask me why as it does not work for anybody else but me, but it’s the price I pay, this walk, eating, drinking, berating myself and my tumble, my hard tumble, knees and mind skinned, but—no—I will not let this misstep deter my goals. My goals, damnit. They matter.

     Don’t they matter? 

     Head clearing, I realize I might be destined to slink through life on the edge of living it right, maybe never getting out of this place.  I’ll tell myself the lie and set up the goals and maybe, just maybe, I will get out, but that’s now something I realize might never happen, and until about a week ago, I was dead set and seeing it as viable, the way, the only way, something to live for and...

     Kris at the apartment door, sad doe-eyed look and I hug her hard and wonder what am I doing and hug her more and I cry, breaking down differently now, crying and wondering if all that matters in this life are little moments like this, where somebody cares and you get to care back and then we are in bed and she’s taking me inside her and it feels like something I could deal with for awhile. Maybe. Maybe not. And I am coming and she is screaming and it’s a mess of sounds that slash like daggers back at us, digging into my flesh and I ache, a strange ache, and I wonder what the hell is going on and I see myself in the mirror afterwards and something is wrong...

     Something that has nothing to do with drinking or falling down and getting up, brushing off the failure; something real, something within.  I look different in ways I cannot describe.  I see this in my stance, feel it in the way my bones ache, know it as one knows their very body that something is happening.

     The word escalation seeps into my thoughts.

     The word, as I have associated with work—the mindless drudgery of that place—and I realize something had been escalating, but now it seemed to pause.

     Shifting to me? 

     Bullshit. Must be the remnants of the lost weekend… 

     My brain is crispy, deep fried. Burnt.    

     Monday I would erase my deficiencies and lock in again, no weekend from Hell was going to make me change my goals.  I know what I am doing.  Monday I would resolve even stronger to forge onward and really get out of this hellhole, six months now almost five, time is moving swifter than I could imagine.  Discard my negative thoughts from the end of last week and move forward with determination. 

     I didn’t know what I would do about Kris, but that would work itself out in time, too.  I knew I felt something, but if the foundation of that something was more the result of an inner frailty in need of something she was willing to give, so be it.  I know I have to get her on her way soon.  Not being an asshole and just kicking her out, but maybe with understanding, as a human being. 

     Wouldn’t that be a change?

     Another change, this one chosen.


But...within the story, is it his choice or not?  Hmmm...  The next chapter brings the strange revelations hinted at here.  Strange revelations about self, the main characters inner desires.   

See my previous post for "Black Wings" for ordering info and, yes, yes, I will be updating the blog look and have a purchasing and reviews page and more soon. 

As for now, I need to delve into another piece in progress, transfer it from the pad of paper it started on and let it go through its own transformation in a file on this here computer.

Here's a photo from...The Machinist?  Why, John Claude?  Well, I was looking for a picture of the building Christian Bale's character works in, because THAT is what I think of when I think of Genesis Plastics in this story: that building, that dark, foreboding sky.  The tone of that movie is also relevant in the context of this story, works well for the mood of the story.  Thinking now, I know some of the elements that went into the creation of "Plastic," and a trace of this excellent character study movie seems obvious to me! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Dark...Reloaded: "Black Wings." Denial, Guilt...Crows.

It's time for that second promo push for my collection, The Dark is Light Enough for Me.  I'm quite proud of this collection and now can look back while looking forward, knowing that much is in motion that will take shape, well, sooner than later.  I mean, there's enough stories for another collection, which I've already got a title picked out, as well one novel getting a big push to editors/publishers from my agent, while I hope we push the another one soon as well, and a third novel is in the I-need-to-get-my-focus-and-get-the-second-draft-finished stage, which will put it close to where it needs to be.  There's...let's least a handful or so shorter pieces in progress, two of which, perhaps three, should see completion soon.  Even though a couple of these are only in the pen to paper stage I sometimes start with, I know the paths they seem to want to take--really, I have an idea, but the characters will eventually do what they want anyway--including the one that may rival "Broken Teacup" as my most messed up piece of fiction to date.  If I can work it out, it will be for an anthology I would love to be in. 


The collection is almost six months out there and has done that hit the wall deal, so it's time we climbed over the wall and spread the word on a more heavy duty scale again.  A run-through of the stories with some comments from reviews, samples and what-not seems a good deal. 


"Black Wings."  Here's an observation from editor/writer Gerry Huntman's review on Amazon:

"A very good story of guilt - and with a most interesting set of occurrences that lie at the root of the protagonist's guilt, as well as the way it manifested at the end of the piece.

The protagonist is, right from the beginning, a ruined man, and he is visited by crows, and in particular a big one. Smith skillfully reveals their meaning, as well as the protagonist's past. The flashback is finally revealed and it was surprising, and horrific.

The ending is appropriate and quite surreal."

This one is easy to write about because you can actually read the whole story in the Look Inside feature on Amazon, so please do. Here's the link. [waits patiently while you read it; ah, notices your reaction, the revulsion as you've reached That Part of the story; now your brow has furrowed into The Mighty Arch of What-The-F**k?! and now...well, the classic horror finale? Perhaps.]  So, didja like that one?  As you may know from reading my blog, there are layers to all of my stories.  What?  Yes, I just wrote didja.  Ahem...Anyway, psychological layers are my favorite and this story is steeped in them.  One of my favorite sequences is the recollection of the memory, the reason for our humble narrator's guilt, as it highlights his weariness, while his girlfriend, the ever demanding and quite pregnant Melanie, keeps pushing on and on and on and... It's got a certain drive, not unlike chapter five of "Plastic," a sequence that in both cases I allowed the momentum of events at hand to flow forth spontaneously.  Sure, as a writer, when I'm locked in, this happens--I'm sure it does for many of my fellow writers out there as well.  It's a part of the deal, of creativity being tapped and released and we are as I often say, simply the conduits for the characters.  But I can read that whole sequence and smile as it does just what it needs to do, the drive, the shifting from exhausted drunk to sober bystander for Dave; the cold shock of realization by Melanie that, no, things are not going to end well at all.

I actually had one writer respond he/she was happy Melanie got her, um...just rewards? Unjust rewards?  Hmmm...  Some writers are sick individuals! 


Read the sample up there via the link, feedback is welcome.  I will be putting actual samples in most of these Reloaded blogs, but for this one, you get the whoooooooole story!  Check it out, hope you enjoy it, buy a copy of the book, talk to me some more!  As noted way up there, I'm proud of this collection...but also know it's only the beginning!

Expect a new blog up every 2-3 days, and even some poetry or other fiction related blogs, as that's what I do here.  More talk of other writer's work as well.  I've been kind of in simmer mode, well, it's time to kick everything back into high gear again! 

Also expect a new look to the blog. I will be adding some pages here, a purchasing page and one for reviews for the book, and whatever else strikes my fancy. My GF, Alessandra, recently updated hers, just messing around and figured it all out and it looks great!  I'm just thinking it's time to shake things up, as noted somewhere here or simply in my head.  So at some point soon there will be a different look, but for now...let's roll with this post and keep moving forward!

Here's the purchasing info, though as I just said, there will be a page with this info and some more for other anthologies I have stories in soon. 

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon Germany:

Amazon France:

Barnes & Noble:



And here, of course, without further adieu...Crows! A wonderful and quite surreal take on them by Sarolta Ban.  Probably quite indicative of how Dave felt in "Black Wings."


And caw, caw, caw...