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?
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!