Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Grinding along

I got 35 frames of this storyboarding jos set before leaving for a birthday party, where I ate too much and now feel sluggish. My goal was to have 50 frames ready today, which won't be too hard once I get past these few dealing with subscribers and readers and the numbers this journal draws in. I'm cannibalizing a lot of the work I've done so far to minimize the amount of time I have to spend, but I'm not great at keeping my files straight so I may have been better off just starting from scratch. Big shrug.

Just to give you an idea of what I'm up to and why I'm doing minimal writing, lately --

I'd rather be writing. Here's a snippet of what I've done on RIHC6v2 -- suitable for any adult to read, anyway --

We lived in Denmark, now, in a quirky little town outside Copenhagen. We’d moved here six months after I went head to head with the great and fucked-up state of Texas, and the powers-that-be had finally realized that this son-of-a-bitch named Wilbur Nussewald, a deputy-chief in my county’s sheriff’s department, was setting up supposedly-gay men to be raped on video in the county jail. Why he was doing that had yet to be answered -- well, to me, anyway; the Attorney General probably knew and was just keeping it quiet till after the trial. And there would be one; Nussewald had been very publicly indicted by a Grand Jury, along with three other people, and some other victims’ lawyers were now sniffing around for lawsuit gold. It wasn’t a fun time and there were more than a few moments where I thought I’d actually go to prison for some of the things I’d done...and the brutal fact is, my situation wasn’t completely settled, yet.

But Jake’s was. The state had finally acknowledged he’d been convicted for his crime based on false evidence...evidence supplied by Nussewald. Evidence that was obviously shaped by the prick’s need for revenge for something Jake did that was right and really should have been much more thoroughly vetted. What that meant was, Jake got a nice settlement from the state’s innocence fund and as soon as it was in the bank and he had legal papers showing he’d been exonerated, he hopped a plane for Copenhagen. His uncle Ari lived here with a wife, six kids and a thriving graphic arts business catering to the Iranian community scattered around Europe. I came over a month later, even though I wasn’t really supposed to leave the country. The pre-trials of Nussewald and his pack of rats were still being battled out, and Jake and I were key witnesses in two of them. But I didn’t care; I wanted to be with my man. Once I was here, I told the AG that I’d return with him for the trial and the AG had a fit, but there was little he could do except file for extradition. He didn’t, though it was possible he’d have me arrested and my passport confiscated once I was back. Let him try; I’d already applied for Danish citizenship, as had Jake.

We shared an upstairs apartment in a nice little four-plex overlooking the Baltic Sea. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worth every Euro. Real wood floors and paneling. A vaulted ceiling. Furnishings by Ikea (I know, but they worked and were cheap enough to afford). It would’ve been the perfect “Ozzie and Harriet” existence if we’d had two hot teenage sons.

Jake churned out artwork for ads and industrial pamphlets and the like as he worked on a graphic novel the evenings he was able to let go of the day job. He’d hop the “S” train after the morning rush three days a week and work at home the other two. I set his drafting table up next to the doors leading out to a small balcony that offered the perfect view of passing ferries, and some nights he’d step outside, even if it was freezing and snowy, to mentally work through a design problem or figure out a better direction for his novel. The first time he’d done it, snow was drifting down and I almost dragged him back inside, but something about his whole attitude said, Just let me alone for a second, so I’d gotten busy making hot chocolate, instead. He came in a few minutes later, just as I was pouring it into the mugs. I dropped in some marshmallows and handed him a mug without a word. He sipped it, dipping his whiskers into the thick brown liquid, then grinned at me, hints of chocolate dancing around his lips, and I reached over, wiped it away from his mouth and licked it off my fingers. And he kissed me and the taste of “Swiss Miss” mingled with his mint chewing gum for the right flavor. I could have died right then and been happy.

I kept up my end of expenses by teaching both tennis and American English to a number of kids and young adults in the area. Students from the local schools, college kids, even businessmen wanting to better their mastery of the language. And what was really great? The Danes didn’t seem to care one single solitary damn that a fag was dealing with their precious little Edi or Steph (so long as I didn’t try anything) and I even got a couple of referrals since I also knew “Texan” (trust me, it is almost a complete language unto itself). So together he and I were doing okay, and that’s without touching a penny of his settlement; he didn’t want to till he’d had it three years, for some reason, meaning it was accruing decent enough interest in a couple of CDs spread across a few different banks. I didn’t mind that; I rather enjoyed being independently dependent with him. We were even learning Danish while he also brushed up on his Persian, for his uncle’s sake.

Oh, and his Uncle Ari -- big and burly and as brusque as they come, with dancing eyes inherited by all his children. His wife rarely spoke when we’d come over to visit or have dinner, but I was able to get enough words out of her to know she a) spoke very little English or Danish and b) was deeply in love with her husband. Which I could understand; so far as I could tell, he treated her like a queen. And all their kids were going to be heartbreakers, with one boy out to break other boys’ hearts, if my gaydar was correct. I hoped Ari would take it better than Jake’s father had.

I said so as we headed home on the train, that night.

Jake nodded and slipped down in the seat to rest his head on my shoulder. The clean little car was deserted but for us and I felt like it was our own private chariot wheeling us back to Valhalla.

“Uncle Ari’s not like dad,” he said, finally. “He loves people; my father expects things from them.”

“If he had any sense, he’d be prouder’n shit about you.”

“If I had any sense, I wouldn’t give a shit about what he thought.” I just looked at him. Caressed his chin. I knew he’d speak when he was ready. Which he finally did. “I called him -- finally let him know I was here. Left a message with his secretary. Three times.”

I sighed. “Well, looks like you got your smarts from your mother.”

He chuckled and nuzzled closer to me. It was chilly out but warm in the car. And oh so silent. You could barely hear even the sound of the wheels clicking along the rails. I held him tight.

“Uncle Ari gave me the address of his office. It’s in Paris -- in La Defense.”

Oh, shit. “You planning to go and show?”

He shrugged. “Most of me says, Fuck him. But -- but he is my dad and -- .”

“If you do decide to go, wait till April. Paris is lovely then.”

“You been there?”

“For ten days. Spring break my freshman year. Je parle un peut de francais -- just enough to get myself into trouble. And I made damn sure I did a couple of times, just for the hell of it. Y’know, the French are usually really nice if you’ll just try to talk to them in their own language. It’s only polite. Well, that and apologize for Bush, which I had to do twice as much since the SOB’s from Texas, too. I even said I was sorry about the ‘freedom fries’ bullshit.”

He looked at me, only half smiling. “I never can tell when you’re shittin’ me.”

“I’m not. Nor will I ever.”

He shifted to lay his head in my lap and look up at me. “If I do go -- will you come?”

“Only if you let me dress as Lady Gaga.”

“Oh, that’d be perfect to show up with.”

I leaned down and touched my nose to his. “Wherever you want me, there’s where I’ll be.”

He just smiled and closed his eyes and we rode the rest of the way with me gazing at him.

That had been a month ago and everything had been just like it always was. But the last few days he’d been acting strange. No, just plain weird, and he wouldn’t tell me why. He’d go into work early, some days, and leave late others. He’d head out the door aiming for the train depot then shift down a side street or hail a taxi or just turn around and head the opposite way down the block. The only reason I knew this was a new English student had called asking directions to my pad and I’d told him I’d be outside waiting for him so he wouldn’t get lost, again, and noticed Jake passing behind the house across the street from us long after his train would have already left. Then I saw a taxi cross the intersection down from us headed in the direction of Copenhagen, and he was in the back seat. So I’d started watching him and noting his odd behavior.

Now I mean it when I say that I don’t nag Jake or ask him questions until he tells me it’s all right to. I trust him enough to tell me when something needs to be told, but this was making me nervous -- not about us; when he was home he seemed to melt into my arms as much as before, if not more, rather like a cat that needs a bit of petting. No, I was worried about him.

Then last night he called to say he was working late at the office and I said, “Do you want me to meet you?”

“Meet me where?”

“At the office. Have a late dinner. Come home together.”

“C’mon, Tone, I dunno if I’ll have time.”

“Then I’ll wait in the break room. I have a couple of English papers to go over -- this one guy swears he wrote his essay in Texan and -- .”

“Tone, I’m not seein’ anybody else.”

“I know that. I KNOW that. I’m just worried. About you.”


“That -- I do not know. But I’m hoping you’ll fill me in, sometime soon.”

He sighed and I could all but hear him thinking before he finally said, “Stay home. Tonight. Just stay home. I -- I’ll tell you, tonight. When I get home, I’ll tell you.”

Holy fucking shit, Jake never stumbled around like that unless it was something massive. But I held back my questions and said, “Okay, I’ll be up.”

Regaining control

I told Kasey I'll work on the storyboards for one more week then I'm done. I'm moving to New York in three weeks and have a LOT to do. So today I sent her 30 frames that I'd worked up for the third section (before it was put on hold because the client didn't like the last half of the script) and I pulled together 25 frames for the 4th or 5th or 967th reworking of the middle section. I may send those in, tomorrow, to see how they're coming.

I can't diss Kasey much for this; she's working twice as hard as I am. But I did point out to her that she's lost control of the project to the client. She now has people running things who know nothing about how much work it takes to pull even a 3 minute graphics presentation together and who think it's no big deal to dump on days worth of work and honestly believe it will not cost them anything extra. You wanna know why defense contracts always run over budget? They're done by committees of people who don't know what they want and think along the lines of "wouldn't THIS be cool to add in" and don't believe it'll cost all THAT much to change things in the middle of production -- I mean, will it? Idiots abound.

So all day's been taken up with this and no writing done, yet. I may do a little tonight. RIHC6v2 is getting very dark -- probably channeling my inner fury at the cock-up this storyboarding project has become. Today, as I took a walk to clear my head, I came up with the ending monologue delivered not by Antony but by a man he's been helping, who has a cold brutally-honest view of mankind. The "what's happening today also happened a thousand years ago, but we have better ways to communicate and reveal the evil" kind of thing. And I know what the last chapter is all about.

It's funny -- I've been reading this gay vampire series and you'd think it would be filled with horror and cruelty, but it's been a lark. In fact, I was disappointed that one direction was not taken by the lead, Mark Julian. Instead of surrendering to his true vampire nature after his lover's been brutalized and no longer wants to see him...something he almost does at the end of book 3, thanks to his fury at what's happened...he steps back in the true Hollywood Hero fashion and instead turns into a sloppy drunk. I felt let down. Of course...what does it say about me that I wanted him to commit an unjustifiable murder?

Hmm...guess that's fair warning as to what's about to happen in RIHC6v2.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Back to reality

Some of the work I did on that storyboarding job, yesterday, has already been dumped -- and I haven't even sent it off to them, yet. Her client decided they didn't like this one idea and just cut it. Kasey is close to screaming but can't do anything about it because the client gives them a lot of business. Seems this is the first time she's had to deal with a committee made up of scientists who haven't got a clue outside of their own specialties and who think it's no big deal to change their minds about what they want from moment to moment while making others completely rearrange their lives to suit their whims. And the chaos it brings? Big shrug in response.

I think I'm going to end my involvement in storyboarding after this project is done. I haven't the patience and forbearance it takes to deal with such idiots, not for the money I wind up making. Same for script doctoring. I haven't been getting rewriting jobs that pay me enough to compromise my feelings on what is right for the client's script and characters, and I just backed away from any further writing on one because the writer/director insists on keeping the current structure and it will only make for a confusing movie. I understand WHY he's so locked into it -- he wants both his leads to be equally important to the film -- and I know how hard it is to accept that maybe that isn't the best choice. I have a script that fell into the same trap, and while something like that may work if you novelize it (emphasis on the word "may"), action movies these days cannot seem to handle that kind of dichotomy.

Look at "Avatar" and "Titanic", two billion dollar films by James Cameron -- beautiful to gaze upon in their technical perfection but with cotton candy stories, cardboard characters and dialog that is so god-awful you want to tear out your eardrums. And don't get me started on "Avatar" and its insultingly-condescending faux-liberal attitudes about nature, indigenous people and the big bad corporations out to rape the land; Cameron's a brilliant director but he writes at a fifth grade level. However -- and this is a hard thing for me to admit -- he knows what works, and people love his movies. Meaning I'm the one out of touch with reality, not him.

So my dropping film is no big loss; I wasn't getting anywhere following either path, anyway, and now the storyboarding and script doctoring are proving to be hideous distractions in my life. Besides, I have other pursuits to keep me engaged. Even if this job in Buffalo becomes permanent, I'll be able to work on POS and the other stories in my mind. May even make it easier for me to concentrate since I won't have to worry as much about paying my bills.

The fact is, I have eleven books I want to write and three plays. Even if I churn two out a year, that's seven years worth of work on do them right. And I'm finding pleasure in working this way, to my surprise. Rereading what I posted the last couple of days on POS makes me want to focus even more on it. And what I've done on RIHC6v2 so far -- I think it's intense and deepens Antony's character even more as he realizes he's letting the evil side of his nature take over in pursuit of vengeance. I believe I've found a way to pull him back from the abyss...but it'll be up to him to decide if he actually does it.

Jesus, I love having this feeling about my characters -- that they're alive and real and determining the course of their own future. That's not something I've ever really felt in my own life; nice to experience it, even if only by proxy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Last bit of Brendan's problem

And for a while, looks like. The neverending storyboaring job is back with new revisions needed. I started on it yesterday and will focus on it today to try and get it done before the weekend. I already had to put off a meeting with my publisher in Austin over a number of things, but they've paid me for this and I need to see it through to completion.

So...this is the last bit of that chapter dealing with Brendan's stay in the hospital and learning the direction he wants to take with his life. He and his brother, Eamonn, are finally heading for bed.
Then as we were climbing in he asked, “How you feelin’ down there?” He nodded to my crotch.

I shrugged. “Hasn’t hurt for some time.”

“Is it back to working?” He had a smirk on his face that told me exactly what he meant.

I blushed. “I’ll wager mine works better than yours.”

He laughed, silently, and kept cutting the apple. “You haven’t had the right use of it, yet.”

“I’ve had use of it.”

He leaned over and whispered, “With a girl?”

I’d have to say no to that, so instead I asked, “Have you?”

He sighed and leaned back, playing up the man of the world aspect of it. “Not a girl. An older lady.”

I felt my heart quicken and something stir down below, so I lay face down on the bed and half-buried my head in the pillow. “Eamonn...”

“Near twice my age, she is. Beautiful. And well-versed in the art of love. And married.”

“Eamonn!” It came out almost like a hiss.

“Her husband’s in Hong Kong, has two mistresses and sends her barely enough to live on, the ripe bastard, and -- .” He looked at me, sharp. “You’re not to say a word of this to anyone, you understand?”

Did I? I could just hear Mam’s neighbors having a good craic over this. “Well, he’s a wild one, ain’t he? I heard he’s cattin’ ‘round with a married woman. Some lad she’s raised. First time he pulled this with me, he’d of seen the back of my hand.” Which would set Mam off to the moon, and not at those old cows.

“Never a word.” Then I couldn’t help but ask, “What’s it like?”

He took a moment to answer, cut two final slices off the apple and gave me one then whispered, “It’s the same as a drug. It pulls you in and builds you to a joy that’s double the pleasure from when you take care of yourself.”

“You mean?” and I did the wanking move with my right hand.

He nodded. “Have you really experienced that, yet?”

I huffed and lay my chin on the pillow. “The one time I even come close to it, the damn thing nearly come off. I don’t think I’m meant to do that sort of thing.”

He jostled me, smiling, again. “All lads’re meant to do that sort of thing. But I’d not go braggin’ about it to Father Pat.”

I snorted. “That much, I already know.” I finished the apple and turned to watch my brother dance with slumber, and I couldn’t help but ask, “Eamonn...this lady of yours. Does she go to your meetings?” He sighed and nodded. “Do the others know?”

“Naw -- they’re too busy talkin’.”

“What about?”

“Aw, what’s going on in America -- with civil rights -- Martin Luther King -- setting up marches here for Catholics to get equal treatment -- that sort of stuff.”


“Like parades. Protests. There’s talk of doing more than just begging the Derry Corporation to be fair with us, but forcing them to. Maybe a march of us all down to where those caravans are, keeping families of six and eight in something meant only for an overnight stay for two.”

“Can I come if you do?”

“Dunno. You’re only twelve. But I’ll ask.” And he drifted off to sleep.

I rolled over and looked at the ceiling. The paper covering it was stained and wrinkling but that meant nothing to me. What I saw in its creases and shadows that night was a world where if a Catholic boy saw a Protestant girl, he wouldn’t have to give a second thought to going up to her and asking her for some time together, and vise versa.

Then her face appeared in the ceiling for the first time since that night. Green eyes bright as emeralds. Lips like cherries. Cheeks as round and soft as peaches. A nose so pert and outlined with freckles, she could be a poster for Lady Bell Ice Cream.

I felt the same sensations as before, but this time without pain or discomfort. In fact, touching myself made everything so much finer as I dreamed of her kissing me as her hands caressed my back and I traced my lips down her neck and we melded together in ways only the gods can understand as my hand worked up and down, and in moments a feeling exploded through me unlike anything I’d ever known. I froze. Dared not move. Something liquid had shot from within and I was halfway afraid it was blood. Oh, Jesus, I’ve probably gone and undone everything the doctors fixed. But then I looked at my hand and the wetness on it was clear and sticky and smelled odd.

I glanced at Eamonn. His breath was deep and steady. No answers coming from him, not just now. So I wiped my hand off and lay back to sleep...and it was the best sleep I’d had since coming home.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2nd section of Brendan's problem

But everything else was fucking torture. I had pain pills in hospital to keep the daggers from coming back, but once I was sent home it was up to me to keep myself clean and packed with gauze, changed twice daily, and each time I removed the gauze it was like pulling my flesh away, again. Mam had to buy me some y-fronts to keep everything in place. It was another week before I could return to school and four before I could walk like a normal lad, again. Naturally, I fell behind in my coursework, even with Father Pat dropping it by on a daily basis and picking up what assignments I’d finished.

But when the neighbor ladies heard I was at home and available, they began dropping by their appliances for fixing -- toasters and waffle griddles and clocks and vacuum cleaners and old radios and the like -- and I focused on those instead of history, and I made near ten pounds the first week. In fact, when I had my two-week examination and the doctor said I could return to school, I popped off with, “What for, when I’m making a fine living now?”

Mam flicked me in the back of head and snapped, “You’ll do as you’re told, and that is that.” And so it was.

But from that point, I did only the minimum necessary to get by till I was sixteen and could decide for myself. I’d seen the course of my future, and it wasn’t taking the “A” levels and going to Oxford, that was a certainty. And surely enough, word got around at how my hands were poetry with the electronics, and that a transistor radio sounded better after I’d worked on it than it did when it was new, and that when I replaced the tubes in a telly, they stayed replaced. And it made me feel good to know people were happy with what I could do.

I even began working on cars. I started with Willie Pringle’s A35 van. The handbrake assembly broke but I was able to rebuild it with parts from a wrecked one to the point it never broke, again. Only took me one evening, and I shrugged off studying for an algebra exam to do it. Still got a decent grade, but had I studied I’d have done better...and Mam let me know it for days.

But Willie, the first time he set the handbrake, he busted a smile and kept resetting it and releasing it, over and over till I said to him, “Have a care, Willie; you’ll need it fixed again.”

“No, Bren,” he said. “It feels solid and strong, better’n when I bought this pile of shite ten year ago, and new at the time.”

I patted the bonnet -- uh, the hood -- and said, “Now you see, there’s your problem. You treat the van like it’s worthless. Speak kindly to it and you’ll never have troubles, again.”

He gave me a wary look and said, “That spell in hospital -- are ya sure it wasn’t for the head on your shoulders?”

So -- that was the craic around the neighbors over Brendan Kinsella, and I wasn’t the least surprised, the old cows. Well, if that's how it's to be -- I widened my eyes and said, “You should hear what I say to the toaster as I’m about to make a soldering. ‘This’ll hurt only a moment, and then you’ll be all better’.” And I laughed.

Willie hesitated then saw I was making sport of him and joined in. “You’re daft.”

He paid me five quid and drove off, and I hid three of ‘em in my y-fronts. Sure enough, when I went inside, Mam asked, “How much did you charge him?”

“Just a couple quid, Mam. He’s a mate.”

“You know nothing about money. Hand ‘em over.” I gave her the two pounds in my hand and she dropped them into her purse then looked out the kitchen window into our tiny square back yard, and it was a stretch to call it that. “Now set the table for supper. Mairead!” she called out. “Get the wains and come on in, now!”

“Eamonn’s not home, yet, Mam!” she called back.

“And won’t be until late, so he’ll make do with it warmed over.”

Eamonn had been out much, lately, running with a pack of lads from Creggan and thereabouts. And not the ones you’d think. These lads were clean and neat in their latest fashions, but not silly like the London crowd. Seemed more university-bound than anything. In fact, it was because he’d taken up with them that he’d been talking of moving on to Sixth Form and trying for his “A” levels then off for his degree in Belfast. Much as I’d thought him as big a slug as Da, he’d gone and achieved marks good enough to make him eligible, while I’d be lucky to make it through Fifth form. Struck me as odd, but I figured if he was happy with it, fair play to him.

So that night, after everyone was a-bed I heard him sneaking in. I was tinkering with Mrs. McDermott’s alarm clock -- she’d wound it too tight, again, which was easy to repair, but I didn’t want Mam to know about it so I could keep the full shilling I’d been promised -- but it was near midnight when he came creeping into the room. He saw me at the window and froze. I showed him the clock and my screwdriver so he relaxed and set into removing his clothes. “Mam know you’re up?”

I snorted at him and turned back to the clock. “Your supper’s in the oven, probably very dry.”

“I put it away. We had fish and chips brought in.”

“How’d you pay for it?”

“John Hume did.”

“Who’s that?”

“Aw -- he’s a teacher. Helped set up the Derry Citizens’ Action Committee.”

“I hear they’re IRA.”

“Everything geared at civil rights is, if you listen to the RUC and -- . Aw, fuck it. But I talked with him, told him I’d applied for Queen’s; he thinks I should try for Trinity College, in Dublin.”

“I hear they’re good.”

“One of the best.”

“Mam won’t like that, you being off to university so far away.”

“Won’t she?” He sat beside me to watch as I fastened the last bit and checked the winder; it was just right. He shook his head, pulled out this beauty of an apple and his knife and started cutting off chunks to eat. “You’re bloody good at that.”

“Dunno why people make such a fuss,” I said as I screwed its back plate on, actually feeling very proud, deep within. “It’s like a, b and c.”

“Not for everyone.” He gave me a slice of the apple. It was bright and sweet and juicy, near perfect. “Who’s teachin’ you all this?”

“Nobody. I just see how it comes apart, see how it goes back together, and then it works.”

“And you’d be happy doing this, wouldn’t ya?”

“There’s a future to it. Things’ll always need fixing.”

“What about when computers take over? What then?”

“They’ll need fixing, too, at times.”

He wrapped an arm around my head and hugged me close, chuckling, then popped another bite of apple into my mouth. “C’mon, son, let’s to bed.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

POS - Chapter 3

Half the chapter -- the rest tomorrow while I think my plans through for the next 30 days. This comes after Brendan's seen Joanna for the first time, when he was twelve. Now he's at home trying to sleep.


Christ, she was lovely, and the longer she was in my mind, the more perfect she became. And the more my heart grew close to bursting with the idea of her. I could picture us, lip to lip, gentle and loving. I could still smell that whiff of scent she was wearing. Was joyful at the sparkle coming from her ear studs. The way she tossed her head, making the spun silk of her hair whisper about like something ghostly. The flow of her breasts under her jersey made the more wonderful by its being tucked into her skirt and held tight by a belt. The line of her legs from elegant round hips. I ached to hold her.

I felt a stirring in my tadger that began behind me heart, moved through my chest and down my belly to tingle across the insides of my thighs. Without thinking, I crushed my legs together and felt lightning jolt into my nuts only to ricochet up to my own nips. I almost laughed at the glorious sensation of it all. I felt my tadger grow and became a bit nervous so parted my legs. I thought I’d cut off the blood to it and it was swelling from that. Because it was also beginning to hurt.

I lay still. Tried to force the sight of that girl from my brain...but that only made things worse. I kept imagining her looking at me, smiling at me...then crossing to me to slip her hand around the back of my head and pull me into a kiss that promised heaven. And the lightning exploded through me, again.

And daggers of pain shot from my tadger. I grunted, trying to keep quiet and still. Any thoughts of the girl vanished from my mind thanks to the sudden hurt. I felt like I was being crushed, down there...and it was only getting worse. I began to moan, not knowing what to do. Rhuari and Kieran would have slept through an atomic bomb, but it woke Eamonn and he turned to me.

“Are you all right, son?” he whispered.

“Eamonn, I think I’ve done myself damage.”

“What d’ya mean?”

“My tadger fuckin’ hurts and -- .”

He looked at the covers and saw the lump, and laughed. “It’s all right, son. Happens to all us lads.”

“Is it supposed to hurt so?” Then I cried out as more daggers shot into me.

He looked closer at me. “You’re sweatin’.”

“Eamonn -- I think it’s comin’ off.”

He nodded and said, “Hang on,” then slipped away. I heard him knock on Mam’s door and her sleepy voice asking what the fuck he wanted. A moment later she came in and dragged me from the bed. I screamed from the pain, and that woke the others. She yanked down my pajamas, looked at my -- at me and snarled, “Have you been abusing yourself?”

“What?” I’d no idea what she meant.

Eamonn piped in, “Mam, that’s not what happens.”

“And you know, do ya?” she shot at him.

He smirked and said back at her, “I’m healthy enough to.”

She looked hard at me then nodded. “The Raffertys have a phone. Go call Casualty and have an ambulance sent.”

Eamonn nodded and left, then Mam turned to me. “You have trouble passing water, do you understand me? Do not tell them you were abusing yourself and bring shame to us. You’re having trouble passing water.” I nodded and carefully pulled up my bottoms. “Now put on your robe and slippers, nothing else.”

Half an hour later an ambulance came with some constables from the RUC. By this point, Mam was dressed and I was lying on the couch, shivering from the pain. The attendant checked me over, saw what was wrong and looked at Mam. “Have you no ice?”

“Will that work for -- ?”

He cut her off with, “Would you bring me some? It’ll make the ride easier for the lad.”

Mam went in the kitchen as he turned back to me, shaking his head. A constable appeared at the door, looked at me and asked, “So what happened?” His voice sounded like Belfast.

“I -- I’m having trouble passing water.”

The attendant glanced at me and kept his smile to himself. “That must hurt.” I nodded.

“He’s young for kidney stones, inn’t he?” the constable asked. I could tell he was thinking something else had happened, something criminal he could blame on me, but the attendant shrugged him off.

“Could be any number of things,” he continued, his eyes kind. “So we’ll be taking you to casualty and they’ll check you out, and I’d say in a few days you’ll be right as new.”

Then Mam came back with ice wrapped in a towel and he guided me to a stretcher and lay the ice on my crotch and called out, “Hey, Martin, we’re ready.”

A second attendant popped in, smelling of cigarette smoke, and took the other end of the stretcher.

Mam said, “I’m ridin’ with yous.”

The first attendant looked at me. “How old are you, Brendan?”

“Just past twelve.”

“Do you want your mum along?”

I looked at Mam, and her expression would have killed him on the spot if he’d been looking at her. So I said, “She’s no other way to get there.”

He nodded and said to her, “Then you can join us, missus.”

“And why could I not, me being his mother?” Then she turned and called up the stairs, “Eamonn, leave the wains with Mrs. Rafferty on your way to school. I’ll fetch them soon as I’m done with himself.”

“Aye, Mam.” Then I glanced back up to see him standing at the top of the stairs, and he was smiling and moving his right hand in the signal for wanking and I would’ve killed him if I’d been able to get past the pain.

The ride to Altnagelvin was fast and the care I got was quick, with them even giving me a shot to ease the hurt. But then a doctor examined me. He seemed nice enough, but the way he kept feeling up my tadger made me highly uncomfortable.

“Well -- the problem’s obvious,” he told me, his voice carrying a curious accent I later realized was Scottish. “But I have questions for you, first. When you bathe, do you clean inside your foreskin?“

“I clean all over,” I said, wondering what he meant.

He nodded. “Have you had an erection before?” I still wasn’t sure what he was talking about, but this time I told him so. “Your penis, Brendan. Has it become hard or felt strange prior to tonight?”

“Never,” which wasn’t the truth. I’d woken a few times recently with something odd going on down there, and it not being comfortable, but nothing more’d happened. I’d been meaning to ask Eamonn if he knew what it was, but he’d been so lost in preparing for his A-levels, I hadn’t found a chance.

He nodded and stepped out to talk with Mam. They spoke softly, but I heard every word.

“Brendan has Phimosis, Mrs. Kinsella. That means his foreskin is very, very tight, much too tight for a lad his age.”

“What if it is? What’s that mean?”

“Well -- when he has an erection, his foreskin is too tight to expand correctly. Sometimes that means the head of his penis can’t push through, or if it does, it breaks the skin, causing bleeding and infection. With Brendan, it’s a case of his head being able to make it past the foreskin, but it’s now too tight for the head to retract, cutting off the blood flow. The best way to handle this is to remove the foreskin, and do as quickly as possible. That will eliminate the problem. Do you have other sons?”


“I suggest you have them examined.”

“What -- is this contagious in boys?”

“Oh, no -- no, it’s something he was born with. I seriously doubt any of your other sons will have the same trouble, but better safe than sorry. Since Brendan’s here, now, I’d like to go ahead and do it.”

Mam agreed. And neither of them asked me a thing about it. So the next morning, it was done. And they kept me a week, to be sure there was no infection or any other trouble. And I slept very well, having the whole bed to myself. True there was nothing but curtains separating me from the rest of the ward, but it all felt so luxurious, it was all I could do to keep from sighing over the pleasure of it.

Just for fun...

Here's a little promo ad I worked up for "The Lyons' Den" not so long ago. I couldn't do anything with it because I can't license the rights to the photo and haven't found anything else that works. But it's fun to doodle, sometimes, and I sent it with the packet of info to give those producers an idea of what the story's about.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Almost caught up

With everything that needs being caught up with -- like making sure my credit card's not going over its limit...which seems all right, as of now. Expenses on this trip came out lower than I anticipated.

I have to get a full-scale set of copies of "The Lyons' Den" and information on it and myself to a group that wants to offer it up for production to some investors. Fingers crossed but not eyes; I'm not expecting a lot, but it never hurts to have the interest.

ANYway...tomorrow I'll get back to serious blogging. Today, here are the two photos that turned out halfway decent during my drive-by tour of DC.

Forgot the time

I got busy tying up loose ends and prepping bills and such, now that I'm home, and just realized how late it is. And I didn't even get a chance to upload the photos I took in DC.

Yes, I drove through Washington en route to the airport and it was a beautiful crisp day that would have been perfect for some sight-seeing, but I'm not sorry I just did a glancing tour. I think to truly appreciate the city you'd have to visit not only the known monuments but also the museums and galleries that fill the place. It's like trying to do the Louvre in one six-hour tour; you just can't. So I'll put DC on my list of places to spend a week or two when I'm rich and famous.

I did get a couple of nice shots of the Washington Monument and the Capitol building and drove by the Smithsonian, which was a lot more off-beat than I expected. I also drove down K Street, center of the hell that's paralyzed and distorted our once and future Democracy. When it reaches the point where even "The Economist" is wondering if Democracy is dead, you know things are down the tubes.

I have 69 pages worked up on RIHC6v2 and it's become a bit...I dunno...out there. I guess I'll let it lead me where it wants to, and Antony's definitely enjoying the ride, such as it is. It's building up a nasty view of mankind, that's for damn sure. Guess I'm a people-hater at heart. Wonder if that'll work well into POS or the last book of BC?

God, I still have to get myself ready to move...meaning put most of my crap in storage. Oh, how I do NOT look forward to that.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sleeping late is great

So long as you don't miss the breakfast that's part of your room. I made it downstairs to feed about five minutes before they shut it down. Had salty eggs, fake bacon, reheated biscuits and apple juice. And felt very faux-luxurious. Now I'm packed and ready to head for the airport.

The only truly sour note was, I had a hard time shutting down my brain, last night, and getting to sleep. That happens when I get too carried away with my writing. I've found if I do 5-8 pages a day, I can release the thought process; doing more than that kicks me into overdrive and takes me hours to slow back down. And that's not necessarily a good thing, because normally my best work is those first pages and the rest needs a LOT of redoing. I haven't read what I wrote, last night, and I don't think I will till I'm farther along in the story. It fills the space it needs to, at the moment, and expands my sense of accomplishment.

So it's getting close to checkout time and I've got a 40 mile drive to the airport. Guess I'd better head. My plane's stopping in Little Rock. Never been there. Not even to the airport. Never wanted to. Now? Now I'm hoping Hilary runs against Obama in 2012 and takes the White House from the little weasel. We need somebody with balls in the Oval Office, not a college professor who only wants to grade papers.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Done and gone

All the books is on their way and, sure enough, it was sleeting as we did it. But that is that and tomorrow is heading home time.

I got lazy and, even though the weather cleared up, I stayed in, rested and did some writing. I know I'm near Washington DC -- the center of the universe if you bother to listen to the media, anymore -- and I really ought to have gone to see the glorious sites...but I just plain could not work up the enthusiasm, not after all the craps that's happened in that soul-sucking town.

So I made Bandaids out of toilet paper and scotch tape for my fingers and they worked as well as the real thing, and I wrote 15 pages in RIHC6v2. I have it all plotted out and it gets brutal, but it fits in with Antony's (and my) mental state and the crap that's happened to him (and what I see happening to this country thanks to those fucking ideologues Bush installed on the fucking Supreme Court, and why the hell isn't Roberts being impeached for perjuring himself when testifying before Congress that he'd be fair and balanced in his approach to the law?).

It's interesting -- my books are getting harsh about life while my scripts were growing more gentle. I especially liked the tenderness that came out of "5 DATES". Problem is, I don't know if I'll ever bother to write another script. I've written 30 and am no closer to getting produced now than I was when I did my first one. The awards I've won are nice and they did help my writer's ego strengthen to where I could handle people dissing my work, but it's silly to keep doing something over and over and over (writing screenplays) hoping things will change (meaning one will be produced) when all you get is the same reaction, over and over and over (a big yawn). It's a sign of insanity and while I do cop to being crazy, I'm not completely nuts. Yet.

Besides, I'm having fun writing gay erotica (RIHC6, for instance) and serious novels (POS, even though I did try to push it too hard and it still scares me) and as much as I'd love to get one of my scripts made, these are just as good an outlet for my storytelling and actually seem to be reaching people. So...the fates have spoken and such is life.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sleet comes forth

Started coming down as I drove back from dinner. Tomorrow will be a fun day.

No more chat. I cut the tips of two of my fingers and it hurts to type.

Do have to add one thing -- this week has been hell for progressives and liberals. The DNC lost Ted Kennedy's seat to the GOP. SCOTUS canceled controls on corporations spending in elections. Air America declared bankruptcy. Health care reform is sinking. And it appears the Secretary of State has bigger balls than her boss, POTUS...or at least is more willing to get involved in the process of governing. I wasn't crazy about Obama, but he's proven to be even worse than I thought he'd be. Jesus Christ, 3 more years of this "You handle it" crap as the GOP shreds everything America used to stand for. I didn't like the Clintons all that much when they were in the WH, but at least Hilary would've been kicking Repugnican ass, by now, with Bill as her backup.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Soon will be done

I'll finish the book packing, tomorrow, and load them onto the truck Friday morning -- in what may well be a snowstorm, if you listen to the weather report, so I may not be able to do any real sightseeing done even if I do finish the job early. I was planning to drop back to Baltimore and check out some Edgar Allen Poe sites recommended by my buddy, Brad, or even swing into DC and just look around since I've never been there (I know, I know, sacrilege for an American). But it all depends on the weather. I'm not all that worried about driving in snow -- I did that in Detroit and didn't kill anybody...that I know of -- but I've got small car, this time, and the area's traffic is intense. While driving back to the hotel, this evening, I noticed wave after wave of cars along the 28, rushing the opposite direction in this nonstop river of headlights. I'd left early to go buy some packing tape so caught the evening crush, and the hills and curves in the road gave me a solid view of oncoming vehicles...and the feeling was a bit surreal. Like I was watching something on a computer and not in life. And it was really quite lovely.

I'm having fun with RIHC6v2. It starts out with my main character, Antony, in a monster of a jam where I could not figure out how to extricate him without complete rewriting the opening...and then I thought about one of my gay-erotica fans in Florida and realized he was the perfect way to crack the problem. Not planning to say a thing more about this, yet...but if he does buy the book, I hope he likes what I do with his character.

I learned the author who writes the "Mark Julian, Vampire Detective" series puts the bartenders and waiters of his favorite gay bar in his books...and that gets him free drinks. Clever little sneak. Wish I'd thought about it. Of course, I'd have to have a favorite gay bar to go to...which I don't in San Antonio...nor did I in West I guess it'd be a moot point.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A quickie

I'm tired and ready to sit in the tub forever, so nothing much to add here.

I am pissed off that the Democrats lost Ted Kennedy's seat to a Tea-party pretty-boy with blow-dried hair. It's like the idiots who head the DNC WANT to screw up their party, they keep mucking around so much. And Obama didn't help matters by waiting till so late to pay attention -- as usual. That man seems incapable of thinking on his feet except when making a speech. there is no super-majority in the Senate. Now what? Gridlock or reconciliation to get things done? Either way, the GOP will fuck with them as much as they can. The Repugnicans don't give a damn about the country; they just want back in power so they can give their rich buddies more tax cuts and dismantle Social Security and Medicare. And it looks like the Democowards will help them do it by not doing a damned thing to fight them. It's diseased.

I did more work on RIHC6v2 but not a lot; I needed to go through and remind myself who was who in it, so I reread v1 for a while, tonight, till I got sleepy. I have it on a USB drive I carry with me.

BTW -- if anybody out there reading this needs a kick-ass cinematographer, Brad Rushing is an artist with light. Check him out at and see for yourself. Elegance defined.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Maryland is pleasant

I'm packing a library in a home in an upper-middle class area north of Washington DC. Seems Baltimore and DC are closer together than Dallas and Fort Worth. I'm in a Best Western that's nice enough but hard to get to off the freeway if you don't know the specific turns...which I thought I'd figured out till I was driving down one side of the freeway and could see my hotel on the other. The area is hilly with lots of trees, both of which hide the office complexes lining this one winding boulevard. Fact is, ALL the streets are winding in this area. I haven't driven down more than 30 feet of straight road since I got to this town...which I honestly do not mind once I know where I'm going -- I topped this one hill and suddenly there's my turn and cars are behind me; I had to go to the next street and double back -- because it really is very lovely. Open spaces abound and the commercial makes way for the aesthetic. Hell, I passed by a 7/11 without even noticing it, something almost impossible to do in SA...well, with a convenience store since all the 7/11s are gone, there.

The house is like something out of "Leave It To Beaver." A two-story Cape Cod (I think) on a cul-de-sac with a nice open front yard and more trees and two-car garage and a basement...which is where the books are, of course. 1200+ of them and no ventilation to get the old book dust out of the air. So I'm sneezing like a fool, right now. And that's after using a saline nasal spray to wash the crap away.

Most of these books are pretty beat up, but I'm not packing them for sale; they're following their owner out to San Diego. Seems the man who collected these books didn't want them ever left to a library or sold off, so his son inherited them and now he's become an avid collector, too. Funny how that works.

It is tiring but basically mindless, so I've been able to think out parts of whatever story I've been working on while doing it. And I figured out a way to get my protagonist, Antony, out of a jam he's in and set up the rest of the story at the same time. I don't know how things will resolve themselves in RIHC6v2, yet, but the journey's half the fun and so far I've done a double-double back that I hope comes off as neatly and surprisingly on the page as it does in my brain.

But now I'm pooped and plan to soak in a tub for half an hour. Weather's expected to get colder and wetter as the week progresses.

Oh, I read Kyle Cicero's latest book -- "Mark Julian and the Case No One Foretold." He gets his plots going in as many convoluted ways as I do...maybe more since he has more characters to keep up with, most of them quite enjoyable and inventive. It's a fun, light read -- I zipped through it on my flight up. I hope he does well with it; my books are dead as regards sales. Maybe I should start writing about gay vampire detectives, give that "Twilight" crap a run for its money. I already have a script about the bloosdsuckers, albeit, not a good idea to mess with your undead Queen.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Away too long

I got too focused on the storyboards and trying to make them work and just blew off both my blog and my journal. Here I planned to write in both of them every day and the first major project I get I shrug and say, "Later." How irritating of me, and how typical. I will definitely keep them up while on my packing job since that will have normal hours, and they'll help me gear up for doing work on RIHC6v2 the evenings I'm in the hotel. I want to get it finished before the end of February...which is within the realm of possibility.

I got the latest version of section 2 of the storyboards off, yesterday, and even sent my raw, unflattened Photoshop files to them so they can tweak them further. Which they will; apparently there was some major miscommunication between me and Kasey, and I thought (after asking her more than once) that I was limited to just one font for the text. That was a huge part of the problem -- me trying to replicate a heavy-duty graphics-motion verbal style with just nothing but nice light Trajan Pro; it never really worked and added to the tediousness of the project. Finally, there was this one section where I just could not seem to get across what Kasey wanted, so she handed it off to another guy. He used this huge mishmash of fonts and colors and sizes and styles and she liked that. Meaning if I'd dug deeper into what she wanted or fought her on the use of just one font -- or just ignored her instructions about it completely and done what I wanted -- I'd have had this finished weeks ago. At least, that's what I tell myself; you never really know. I guess the lesson is...shit, it doesn't matter what the lesson is. I won't pay it any attention the next time I get into this situation. Look at what happened with "Kerosene Cowboys" a year ago -- the same stupid thing, and just as I was gearing up to move to SA.

Hmmm...seems the only way I get major paying projects, lately, is if I'm changing locations for my life. Talk about a career move.

Anyway...I'll still have section 3 to go through once I get back, but now that I know I can use any font and style I choose, I should have an easier time of it (fingers and eyes crossed here). Besides, work on section 3 can only last so long; I have to get ready for Buffalo.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Slogging through

Brain death seems to come easily to me, lately. Especially as regards this SB project. I made it through the latest incarnation -- and don't think I did my best work, not by a long shot -- but it was a fight. Didn't help that I felt like hell from all the congestion in my chest thanks to circumstances beyond my control. I'm better, today, but still fuzzy.

Adding to the fuzziness is me being told the third section of the project that I spent all night completing, being totally redone because the client decided they DO want narration, even though they emphatically had said they don't. They like how it sounds on the first section of the project. I was offered the opportunity to write the script, but I just haven't got it in me. Hell, just to get through the last of the storyboards, last night, I had to go for a walk then work a while then watch "Ugly Betty" then work for a while then shower then finish it up while listening to Pandora Radio and dealing with the glitches in my second-rate DSL service...that I receive via AT&T. When I go totally WiFi, they ain't gettin' my business.

So...I'll be working on this evenings during my packing job...which may get extended because now THAT client wants me to list the books as I pack them. Being in a pissy mood, I told them it would double the length of time I was there, halfway hoping he'll decide it isn't worth the money. I could use the cash, but I need to get ready for my move.

Anyway, we're down to 70 frames from 80 on section 2, and I have no idea if they fit what they wanted. And a third of those were reused without change from the previous set I did for this section. I threw in some different transitions to help smooth out parts that didn't work for me, so we'll see how it goes.

I've only got one more day to work on this before I leave; Saturday will be taken up getting me and my mother and brother ready for me being away. And that's with me putting off other things I wanted to get done.

Dammit, I'm shifting back to whine-mode, and I wanted to get away from that with this blog. NOT acceptable. Maybe I'll run some errands today as I wait for Kasey to get back to me. Deal with the real world for a while.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Don't feel good

Mom swept the rug, yesterday...with a broom...even though I've repeatedly told her it stirs up dust and screws with my nose...and now I'm fighting sneezes and a congested chest and can barely talk. So no deep contemplations today.

Instead, I'll chat about the spectacular collapse of Iris Robinson's career and reputation in Northern Ireland. I need something prurient, right now, and does this fit the bill? Yousa!

She and Peter, her husband, are both leaders in the DUP -- a political party that is really just an evangelical religious party, sort of like the Taliban (does that make them Talibangelicals?) -- and until today he was First Minister of the coalition government in Northern Irleland; he had to step down (temporarily, of course) to "sort out things in his family." Iris made a "name" for herself by attacking gay men and women during a debate on how to manage sexual offenders, last year. She was all "the bible says this and they are evil people, but I really love them and want them to turn to heterosexuality." Turns out, she'd been screwing around on her husband for years, was sexually obsessed with a 19 year old cutie who'd just lost his father (the bitch used his grief to get into his pants) and had (maybe illegally) gotten him a loan to start his own business. Now she's under "psychiatric care" and won't we all pray for her quick recovery?

Today's gossip? The kid finally had to fake contracting testicular cancer to get away from her, so she freaked out and demanded he repay the loans she got him, immediately, forcing him to sell a half-interest in his restaurant. Ah, Christians -- I'd love 'em if so many weren't such hateful scum.

So...any bets on how long it'll take this story to become an episode of "Law & Order: SVU"? Think fast, 'cause Dick Wolf works faster. Maybe Anjelica Huston will rape Chris Meloni (she could handle him with one arm tied behind her back) and he'll have to deal with the aftermath of being a victim of sexual assault by an older woman, all mixed in with an Oedipal complex. Ooooh -- I see an Emmy for my man, Chris.

Lightweight over. I've had my fourth cup of herbal tea and throat feels MUCH better. Back to storyboards.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More, more, more...

More changes to that storyboarding job. Which will have more changes, later, I'm sure. Such is life in the corporate world. After lunch with my sister, I'll be digging into that, having just scanned in the new sketches I made.

I had a part of RIHC6 book 2 slam into me, last night, and wrote it out on my computer. Wound up with 6 pages of the intro, jumping the story a year ahead of where book 1 left off, and in a very disorienting fashion. I know where it's going, now, and just need to let it come out.

With BC-3 I only have a vague notion of what needs to be where and can do sections of it, if I want, but don't have a clear idea of the flow.

With POS, I'm building up the background I'll need to get the first section of the story better laid out. But here's a snippet of Brendan in Houston.


It took me a week after that dinner to be able to even so much as climb the stairs without being exhausted, and a week after that before I ventured from the house, and then it was only because Uncle Owen was working on his car. It had rained and the air was thick and wet, making it difficult to breathe, almost. I was lying in my bed, staring at the blank ceiling, drifting into my usual nothingness when I heard the engine chugging, outside. Over and over and --

-- Jeremiah O’Shea’s Cortina wouldn’t start on damp mornings and he’d had near everyone he could think of check into it, at no small cost to himself, until he let me look into it and I found the problem and --

I rose from the bed and went to the window. Uncle Owen was at the Volvo, under the bonnet -- the hood, as it were. It was a dark blue PV544 and looked like it had the twin SU Carbs to it. A clean-looking car it was but in need of a wash and maybe attention paid to the rust spots developing between the passenger door and front fender. The interior wasn’t quite as good of shape but wasn’t beyond saving, and from here the engine looked fine. But when Uncle Owen get behind the wheel to turn the key, I could hear the car creak a little so it definitely needed lubrication and maybe a fresh set of shock absorbers.

I stood there and watched Uncle Owen try to start the engine and it just chug along, trying really hard to catch. Then he’d go back under the hood, unplug the spark wires and replug them and try again only to get nothing. Then he’d go back under the hood and undo other connections and redo them and try again. Over and over. It was comical, for he didn’t sit easy in that car.

I finally had enough of it and went downstairs and out the back door. The ground was still wet and sticky, and the air felt even more smothering without the house, and I wore only my pajama bottoms, still. No slippers even, so the soaked grass tickled my feet.

“Having troubles?” I asked.

He jumped and looked at me as if I were a madman, which I probably seemed to him. “Brendan, what’re you doin’ out here? You ain’t dressed.”

I didn’t care. “Would you like me to look at it?” I said, motioning to the Volvo.

He shrugged. “Does this every time there’s a fog in the mornin’. Then in the afternoon, it starts up fine. But I need to get goin’ an’ this is the only car left.”

I looked around and saw two dry spots where two cars had been. “When’s Aunt Mari due back?”

“Dunno. Guess I’ll just grab a cab. Lookin’ a buyin’ this bar in up in The Heights and the owner’s due at one. I’ll get it towed into the shop, later.”

In answer, I leaned over the engine and checked the cables. They were on the old side, probably original. Same for the coil and other wires. I pulled at it without gripping the glove and it nearly separated. “Try starting it, again.”

He shrugged and sat behind the wheel and the car creaked; definitely needed lubing but maybe not on the shocks. I pushed both ends of the coil’s cable against their gloves...and the engine fired right up.

Uncle Owen bolted from the car, startled. “What’d you do?”

“You need a new coil,” I said. “It’s coming apart inside the glove, so you can’t see it. Is there an auto supply shop nearby?”

“Up Shepherd. I can stop on the way.”

I nodded. “You might want to think about having all the cables replaced. They’re about due.”

“Damn, Brendan, where’d you learn that?”

“I’ve been at this since I was six. Clocks, TVs and the like. Cars. Made extra money from it.”

“Your mother never told us.”

“She didn’t know, most the time. When I got on with Mr. Green, she thought I just cleaned the shop.”

“Didn’t you tell her what you were doin’?”

I nodded then headed back to the house, feeling sleepy. Uncle Owen let me go.

I fixed a sandwich from the wealth of food available in the fridge -- cheeses and luncheon meats and lettuce so crisp it could cut you and rich red tomatoes and something called Sandwich Spread all piled high on some brown bread that felt as light as a feather -- and found only a couple of Dr. Peppers chilled in the fridge’s door. I took one, opened it and returned to my room. I sat on the bed and ate, feeling very luxurious, and thoroughly enjoyed the Dr. Pepper; it wasn’t as sharp and biting as Coke. Then I dozed a little before rising, again, and deciding I was weary of having nothing on me but pajamas.

I took a long scalding-hot shower, letting the steam fill my lungs and wipe away the stickiness of the air, then toweled off...and had to towel off twice more, thanks to the combination of steam and humidity bringing out my sweat. No wonder they bathe every day and layer on deodorant, I said to myself, if they didn’t they’d reek.

I dug through a large set of drawers to find y-fronts and socks and undershirts and athletic shorts -- of course, I was in Scott’s room and they’d left me some of his things to wear. I was surprised they fit, but then reminded myself I’d lost a fair bit of weight and was only just beginning to regain it. When I was back the way I used to be, I’d need a size larger.

I found my jeans hanging in a closet with some Levis. My boots sat on a shelf in the back, still covered with dust and --

-- The car vanished and I tumbled back as dust and filth and bits and pieces of metal and engine rained down on me and --

I stepped back. Saw a pair of sandals and took those. They were a bit on the large side, but an extra pair of socks helped them fit just right.

Of course, I was beginning to near weariness, again, but I decided not to give in, this time. I headed downstairs.

No one was about, yet, so I went back in the yard to find the Volvo gone. Uncle Owen must have left while I showered, for I’d not heard him drive off. It felt odd being alone and out of doors, especially in the heat with the damp air carrying the overpowering scent of those little yellow flowers. I went to the vines covering the fences and touched them, found they were thick with velvety leaves and fragrance that smelled like it should be off a jar of jam. It surrounded me and filled me and brought to mind laziness and gentle meanderings. Shafts of light dashed between the branches of the trees to happily land on bits of the foliage, flickering as if to remind me there was such a thing as the sun. I looked up. Saw it winking at me beyond the tree’s shadow. And under it, I was soon sweating, again.

I took in the back of the house. It’s odd, but while the inside felt large, outside it seemed smaller. It was two levels but also had windows cut into the roof, indicating a third level was available. It was done in a hard, gray brick of many tones and softened by vines climbing up its corners. A chimneystack jutted to the sky from one end and trees shaded the sides and front of the place.

I wandered over to the pool house’s covered area to find shades drawn behind the building’s windows and doors. Complete privacy here with a “Don’t bother” attitude about it. The pool’s water had neither wave nor ripple to it...and it bothered me so much, I crouched down to slap the water into motion. Tiny waves whispered away from me and sent the shadows of criss-crossing ripples dancing along its basin, and the chaos of them felt right.

Then I noticed the dustbins resting under a canopy of vines. Atop one’s lid sat a steam iron with its cord frayed and nearly off. I slipped over and picked it up to look at it. Most of the cord was good; it was just one section where it had been burned by accident, looked like. It would be easy to mend, so I kept it.

I headed down the drive to the front of the house, gravel crunching under my sandals and filling the oppressive silence, steam iron still in hand. The fence ended at the middle of the house with a long gate opened by motor to let vehicles through and a smaller gate between it and the house for foot traffic. I slipped through the smaller gate.

The front yard was just as wide and spacious as the back, with a straight concrete walkway leading from a small entry to a wide street, thick green grass framing it. Bushes crouched against the house and trees, laced with flowers I’d never seen before, and angled bricks lined their beds as well as the walk while the gravel of the drive ran right up to the grass. All so neat and proper and feeling like a grand manor, and I wondered how Aunt Mari and Uncle Owen had time to tend it all.

I walked all the way down to the end and looked about. The street curved around and there were a number of other homes in the same general style as ours lining it, all of them thick with shrubbery and trees and green, green grass. And none of it seemed real. An estate car passed, huge and so obviously American and I finally understood I was in a whole new world. And I couldn’t move.

I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know where I was. I’d seen Aunt Mari get in her massive car -- a Chevy Impala Station Wagon, she called it -- and drive off. I’d seen Scott roar up and leave in his six years old GTO. I’d seen how green everything was and known the house I was staying in was massive and watched programs like “The Partridge Family” and “The Brady Bunch” on the telly...and listened to the twins argue over whether David Cassidy or Barry Williams was the cutest...but also noticed they all lived in fine homes and also drove massive cars. Of course, I’d also laughed at “All In The Family” when Uncle Owen filled me in on what the jokes were and enjoyed “MASH” with Scott, who sagely informed me it was the coolest show, now that “Laugh-In” was going downhill. And the uncoolest was one Aunt Mari loved, “Lawrence Welk.” And all of them had this sense of richness to them, subtly filling me with the absolute certainty that America was the wealthiest of nations. But actually standing out there and seeing the reality of it with my own two eyes -- I felt as if I’d been taken from hell and been given to heaven, and I feared if I even so much as moved, now that I knew where I was it would all vanish and I’d be back to the casual dreariness of Derry.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Looks like I'll be a New Yorker

Everything's set and acceptable to both sides, so at the end of February I'm moving to Buffalo for at least 6 months, to see how things work out. Now comes the fun part -- preparing for it. I've already got a list a mile long of things to do. I'm not taking all my things, just what will fit in my car. The rest goes in storage until I'm definitely sure of what's going on.

Brendan's in a huff and I don't blame him. This means work on POS will be postponed even more. But the reality is, I need to spend at least 10 days in Derry digging into the times he lived there and that never came together...which turned out to be a good thing, in a way, what with the harsh winter they're experiencing up there. I saw a satellite map of England and Scotland that was 98% white from snow, and it's supposed to be the same in much of Ireland. You'd think they were Greenland.

Anyway, that was the deal. And it looked for a few weeks like I'd be able to actually do it...but then it fell apart, money I'm owed was never paid and I'm at the point where I'm borrowing to cover my bills -- and that cannot continue. If he wanted me to focus just on POS, he should have helped me win the lottery. But that didn't happen, either (yes, I played and got a whole $3 back -- the amount I played on one ticket). So...I lucked out getting this job and I will do my best to hang on to it. I'll take all my research materials up with me and keep pushing forward, just not at the breakneck pace I was going before.

Today, once I'm done prepping for the packing job in Baltimore, I'm slamming into the storyboard changes for the client. I want to get this set off by Wednesday...Tuesday, if possible. I want this job do they. The truly great thing about this job was -- I DID get paid, and I'll be paid more once it's completed. And I've learned I know how to use PowerPoint and can play more with Photoshop. I should post some of this on my website to show what I can do now...even though I doubt I'll ever get another job doing storyboards.

No time

Got going a dozen different directions, today, with no time to do any writing, at all. Problem is, if I don't commune with my characters at least once a day, I get irritable and snappish...not good if you want to get me to do something for you...but between family, the packing job and changes to the storyboards that need to be done before I head for Baltimore, I haven't been able to even think outside my immediate demands let alone plot out a story point, and it's nearly midnight. If I start anything now, I'll be awake till 3 or 4 am and a REAL bear in the morning. So all writing is shunted aside, probably because it means so much to me. Feeds the silent, low-key martyr complex I seem to be developing.

Oh, well -- I am tired. I've been dreaming a lot, though not really remembering them except to wake up in the middle of one and be lost for a moment. I halfway wonder if dreams are an instantaneous story told in the back of our brains, something trying to connect us to the truth of the universe...because I would almost swear that lately things I think I dreamed about are happening. I looked up an apartment in Buffalo via CraigsList and it had photos with the listing...and it looked so brutally familiar, it spooked me. I've had that happen before and don't quite know what to make of it. Of course, I was raised Presbyterian and I hear they believe in predestination...that our lives are mapped out in the stars or something...but it always seemed a bit fanciful. I'm beginning to wonder if it's more truth than fiction.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A little game

I have fun checking to see how my books' sales are doing on Amazon, every couple of days, and lately HTRASG has been jumping on and off a couple of bestseller lists. It doesn't mean much; I mean, we're talking about lists that're sub-categorized like this --

"Any category - Books - Gay & Lesbian - Literature & Fiction - Fiction - Gay" (#90)
"Any category - Books - Literature & fiction - Erotica - Gay & Lesbian - Gay" (#23)

That was today at 11:14am; I may be off of both lists by 12:30. I hear from Nazca Plains some authors take these sales figures and listings seriously, but you can''s meaningless in the scheme of sales. After all, my actual sales ranking overall is posted like this -- Sales Rank: #43,206 in Books (note: that encompasses both physical books and Kindle downloads).

You see, Amazon has more than 27,000,000 books available online, so all it takes is another author selling two books in the next three days to my one and I'm shot down to #1,265,935 in rankings...which is where BC-1 is, right now.

No, the real fun comes from digging deeper and finding that, for instance, on that 2nd sub-category I'm actually #10 in physical books delivered instead of auto-delivered wirelessly. "Auto-delivered wirelessly" -- sounds more like a satellite-radio subscription service than a Kindle reading adventure. Not sure if that means anything specific about my book being too good to treat like a pile of bits sent over the ether or if it's just that none of my work is available that way...but it's probably the latter.

Whatever -- it's fun to do, and so far I have yet to catch any of my other books on any list, whatsoever, though RIHC6 came close once. Guess I now know who my target market is and should write accordingly. Don't want to wind up like that guy in "Misery," do I? So I smile and print the page up so I can prove I'm a "bestselling author" and just enjoy the game.

Now off for a walk and some errands and then onto the changes in the storyboards. I'd talk about my time in Buffalo, but that'd be like taking a one-hour tour of the Natural History Museum in NYC and trying to tell you all it encompasses. Right now, the impression is favorable and it would be an adventure to live there. How I'd feel after actually getting to know the city might be more intensely so or so totally different I'd want to get out ASAP. You never know. I hated LA the first time I lived there; the second time I got used to it and now love it, despite its sometimes infuriating flaws. Who knows what'll happen here? Maybe I'll wind up with another location for a story or script.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Baltimore, MD

Going to pack a library near there beginning the 17th of this month. Gone for a week and looking forward to it. It means cash coming in and time to myself. I find I accomplish a lot in such situations. While house-sitting a few months back, I polished up BC-1&2 and finished writing RIHC6. Of course, all I had to do was keep watch over some critters and make sure one of them was walked four times a day...sometimes I was able to work almost non-stop.

Changes are coming in on the storyboarding job, but I'm also being paid more so I just need to hunker down, complete it and get on to other things. We're digging into it, tomorrow.

"5 Dates" is a finalist in The Movie Deal! Screenplay Competition. The winner gets his script produced. I got Second Place with them, last year, along with a LOT of goodies so I doubt I'll do as well this time around. Besides, I get the feeling they like their stories dark and 5D is so much kinder and gentler than "Blood Angel," my previous winner. What helps it is, it'll be cheap to shoot and is set in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is near enough to Chicago, where the competition is situated.

I'm still a bit lost as regards POS and even Brendan seems uncertain as to what to do next. What's scary is, the longer we take to figure that out the more the story seems to expand. I feel sort of like Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn at the end of "Woman of the Year" where she tries to make breakfast for the first time in her life and they wind up watching waffle batter grow and grow and grow on a hot the bubble you'd blow while chewing bubble gum...until it's ready to explode and send crap flying everywhere.

So...maaaayyyybe I'm being a little ambitious as regards POS. Wouldn't be the first time I've gotten carried away in a story. And I hope it won't be the last.

Back from Buffalo

And I actually like the town. It had snow piled everywhere and was cold, but it seems livable. I spoke with the people at Caladex and if we can come to terms on salary, we're trying it out under a six month contract, extendable for another six months if things are going well. I'm completely comfortable with that and besides -- one goes where the job is. If it all comes together, I'll be up there beginning in March, handling freight forwarding, handling bookfairs being loaded in and out and going out on packing jobs. In fact, I have one beginning January 17th in Baltimore. Oh, my.

Didn't have a chance to see Niagra Falls or slip over to Canada. Southwest totally screwed up my return flight when they had to rebook me after canceling my flight going up. I had to go to the ticket counter and it took the woman an hour and a half to get it corrected. Seems their computer pulled my schedule then listed it as having been completed so pulled my funds. They had to re-establish everything. I didn't even know this was a way of screwing you up. Amazing.

So...I had little down time at either airport -- I changed planes in Baltimore, again -- but the flight from there to San Antonio was 4 hours, so I got some writing done on BC-3. What was even better was, I had a whole row of seats to myself. And that's with us holding for people from other flights to come in.

So now I'm home and it's freezing here. No snow. I wonder how my car'll like that?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Stuck in Nashville

My flight to Buffalo got canceled in Nashville and I got put on another flight to my connection in Baltimore that will get me in 5 minutes too late to make that connection so I'll have a 3 hour layover there and won't arrive till nearly 10pm. The joys of modern air travel. I will say it's the first time this has happened to me on Southwest, (tho' once a flight I was booked on ran 2 hours late when I was returning to LA from SA) but it wasn't handled well. I was sent to the other end of the airport to set up my new itinerary then wound up being sent right back to the gate I'd come from. And my decent-enough boarding position got bumped back to next to last on the plane, so even if my original connection is running ten minutes late, I won't make it unless I luck out with a seat in the very front. What complicates things further is, none of the seats set up for laptop connections have plugs ANYWHERE in the Southwest area of this airport. I'm feeding off a wall plug at a gate halfway back to the gate I was sent to to get my flight changed. Got my 2 mile walk in, today, while carrying a laptop and bag of clothing that wasn't enough for even my small wheeled baggage. We are not liking Nashville. Hopefully Baltimore will be a better time spent.

I finally got a solid indication that if Caladex and I come to terms and I go for this job, it means moving to Buffalo. Which might prove interesting. Kasey's from there and she points out Toronto's not far away. Nor is the Shaw Festival that's held outside Toronto, which I learned about in Detroit. Thing is, Buffalo's a redneck town, as she puts it. She suggested I become a dual citizen of Canada and the US and I looked into it...and it doesn't seem to be that hard to do. I can apply for citizenship with Canada and if accepted not have to renounce my American citizenship. That would make me eligible to try out for Canadian writing jobs...and if things get too crazy in the US...which the GOP and Right-wing-nuts seem intent on making gives me a place to relocate to. Something to investigate further, especially since Canada has special treaties with Ireland allowing cross-employment in the film biz.

I'm almost back to normal after that push to get the storyboards done. Kasey loved them and is very happy; the client wants to change things. Typical.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

All nighter

Did my first all-nighter in years...hell, decades...and it's telling on me. I'm beat but can't sleep because I've been fighting it for too long. But I got a solid version of the last section done and off in PowerPoint. 80 frames, 2/3 of which were new or changed from the previous work. So much for "just tweaks."

I'm going to just lie down and let myself drift...maybe into sleep...until they decide they want more changes. I won't be able to do anything on them till after I get back from Buffalo, but by then I'll be rested and back on track.

Y'know...I'm trying to think of the last time I did something like this for my own project -- stayed up all night and fought to get done and stayed with it till I'm nearly sick to my stomach...and I can't think of when. I've done it for other people -- Karl, Brad, even jobs I've had. But it's like I don't think I'm important enough or something...and my mind is mush so I guess I'll end this. Now is not the time to try and figure out my world.

Monday, January 4, 2010

17 straight hours

Working on this storyboarding job because it has to go to the client Monday but changes have to be incorporated and what if we did this instead of that and can you still get the third section done before you leave on Wednesday? I laughed at that one, considering how much work went into this section...a section that was just supposed to be minor tweaks over the first section. As if. And section 3 is new practically from the first frame.

Anyway, I just sent off a PowerPoint presentation of section 2 so we'll see how it goes over. I finalized it at 79 frames, having worked up twice that many and having reconfigured half the ones that were accepted. They've already paid me twice the fee I priced this job at, and that's maybe 10% of what I'd have made at my rate, considering all the extra work. This is why I'm not working for less than that, again. Period. People always tell you it'll be easy and even if you allow for the fact they're underrepresenting what they really want, invariably it winds up being twice as much work as you figure. And if you want more money, they cut you off...which is what happened with "Kerosene Cowboys." Mario Van Peebles completely rewrote the script and needed all new storyboards...and wanted me to read his mind as to what he was envisioning. I told the producers fine, so long as I get paid for it. Didn't happen, but I don't think Mario really wanted storyboards, anyway; too constricting.

Y'know, I've had people tell me creative types are different from everybody else. They're always looking for a better way of showing something or telling a tale and don't think about how much trouble they're causing, and I've had people tell me this knowing I'm a creative type -- but, shit, I don't pull this crap on people. Is that why I'm not successful? Or am I just fooling myself in thinking I'm a member of the tribe?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

dead of brain

spent all day working and reworking storyboards and just sent off a first trial of the last 2/3 of the second section and have more to do on the third section and maybe I'll be don tomorrow but it's not looking likely but we'll see what the reaction is to what I've done so far...

...and Brendan's upset with me and I just can't deal with that now because I'm dead of brain, so maybe tomorrow or Monday.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Working today

Just finishing up the fifth version of storyboards on the fourth draft of the first third of the script for AAAS's second section...and now have a script for the final section. Sketchings and scannings will be necessary so as not to spook the highly intelligent client, which is made up of people who can't formulate a visual concept unless they're already looking at it. KIDS these days!