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.”


Brad Rushing said...

Oh no! What a cliffhanger! Please post the second part to this!

JamTheCat said...

Brad, you crazy. ;-)