Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Thursday, January 31, 2013


I know it's an obsolete term, but it fits my work on OT, today. I'm letting it rebuild itself in my brain. I added a nice moment between Meredith and Jake while they talked about Uncle Owen, but nothing more.

The year of the dragon is almost over. So much for astrology meaning anything.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Life lessons...

That may be part of the reason I so do not like the "Twilight" series. I tried watching the first one and gave up halfway through. Bella was a snotty bitch. Edward was an aloof twerp. The story was so lumpy, I couldn't handle it. And all I've heard about the series since confirms that "Buffy..." was an anomaly -- a project with a strong female lead who could hold her own against anything and make her own hard decisions. Amazing how we've gone backwards to when men scowled and women suffered those scowls because they loved their men.

I'm thinking of the song Scarlett O'Hara sings the morning after being raped by Rhett Butler. "Oh she wept with delight when he gave her a smile, and trembled in fear at his frown." That was in 1939. You'd think things would have changed for the better.

Guess not.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reading on the crapper

That's when I get most of my reading done. I used to be in a rush to get in and out, but not anymore. It's relaxing to I'm currently finishing up "Confessions of a Hollywood PI", a true account of the author's time as investigator to people big in film and television. It's got short chapters and is short on detail, but it's an interesting read. I started it for research into investigations, since that's what Jake's doing in OT.

I think I'll read some Raymond Chandler, next. And maybe some Richard Parker and James Elroy. See how they handle the clues and details of the mystery.

Tonight was adjusting what I've written to fit the story's new reality. One positive thing is, this gives it an organic red herring, I think. It's going to need work to make it all fit and not meander too much, but that's half the fun.
What's even more fun is how Lemm's trying to muscle his way into Jake's inner circle, and yet is still willing to do what he must to survive -- including betrayal. Probably more than Jake would. Lemm's becoming Jake's doppelganger.

Except...Jake would never betray anyone. Would he?


Monday, January 28, 2013


Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. I spoke too soon about the end being in sight for OT. That lovely garden path just became a bramble bush and I got snared in it. My reasoning for why everything happened flew out the window and left behind nothing but a room full of bird poop.


I was going to have the explanation tie into greed, plain and simple. It worked out so perfectly. Too perfectly. I should have seen the trap Jake laid and led me into. The little shit.

So now he's just looking at me, cool-eyed, and asking what I'm going to do about it. Because the fact of the matter is, the greed idea was an easy out. The lazy man's explanation. A Hollywood story.

It's like he's saying, "You know what this is really about. Stop being a wuss." Which is, realistically, what I was being. I didn't want to have to work out the whole deal, but it's not going away. A devil sprang through the door and it took a kick in the ass from my angels to make me see it for what it was.

And if this post doesn't convince you I'm a psychopathic freak, nothing will.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Downhill side of the mountain

This has been a very productive weekend. I now have over 310 pages and 68,000 plus words done on OT...with the majority of its structure down. I need to link a 49 page section with the first 268, then do the final reveal, but I can finally see flat land ahead.

This little beast has taken some interesting turns. What I started out thinking would be the reason for it all has become a smokescreen of a smokescreen and may yet be leading me down the garden path. You never know which direction the characters will want to go...or who will jump through the door to join the ensemble along the way...or who will decide to do something that throws everything else off.

I will say, 85% of the time when these things happen, it makes everything better. This is why I disagree with Susan Sontag's quote. I'm not seeking these moments, not specifically. But by keeping myself open to them, they carry me off.

I think most writers feel that way. Most artists. They trust the magic that comes their way to envelop them and carry them into new realms. Sometimes the magic is black. Sometimes it's white. Sometimes you can't even tell until all is said and done whether you've touched an angel or a devil.

I can't reject either one, because "If my devils are to leave me, I'm afraid my angels may take flight, as well." (Ranier Maria Rilke writing in "Duineser Elegien") And I like them both.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


I like Susan Sontag, but I must disagree. The door can be enlarged, if you want it to, but you do have to be willing to accept anthing that enters through it lovely, ugly, angelic or of the devil. You can't pick and choose and keep the door open. I'm learning that from too damn much experience.

Any time I try to limit what my story is about -- or let myself become afraid of it or what it demands -- that fucking door closes a little and I have a hell of a time getting it back open enough to let the universe through. It's very demanding, no question, but so long as it's ajar, beauty in all its glorious and hideous wonder shines through.

Sometimes I can handle anything it shows me, and sometimes I'm too weak...and to be honest, sometimes I'm just plain too damned lazy. But I fight to keep that door open as far as it will go. And in response, it's shown me how to do things I didn't think I could do.

This is, of course, leading back to finishing "Place of Safety". That is my main goal, this year -- getting a first draft done. The only two others are ones leading up to it -- a good draft of "The Vanishing of Owen Taylor" and a good version of "The Alice '65". The fight I'm having with Jake over the voice for OT is good; it's prepping me for Brendan's voice, which will walk the line between poetry and pubescent language. And A65 is giving me a workout on keeping joy in the story, so POS doesn't wallow in its misery like "Angela's Ashes" did.

I fight to keep the door open for this.

Friday, January 25, 2013

I wonder about me...

Jake and I are having a problem. He wants to tell the story like he talks. I want to make it literature, maybe with a touch of poetry. He thinks I'm being stupid, and I halfway believe that if he had a corporeal body, he'd throttle me, that's how irritated he's become.

Thing is, I want the language of the story to match its meaning. I had fun with Ace's hard-boiled, paranoid patois because it fit the tone of the story. And keeping it going while still being able to keep the other characters in their proper mode was challenging. I don't know if I succeeded; people ain't buying the book and I have 1 whole critique that says nothing.

With "Bobby Carapisi", I focused in on building three different styles of writing to reflect three completely different men -- Eric, who's educated but trendy; Bobby, who's just a guy who made it through school; and Allen, who thinks he's more erudite than he is. I find it interesting that no one's caught onto the fact that when Allen quotes "Pride & Prejudice", he uses the 1940 movie version instead of the book, and Eric doesn't catch it, indicating both are a little full of themselves as to how smart they really are.

With "How To Rape A Straight Guy"I was telling the story through a poorly educated ex-con who's filled with anger and self-righteousness. The trick to that story was revealing how devastating his actions are to others without him recognizing his part in that devastation. On that one, I know I did good; I've gotten lots of feedback, and it's 95% positive.

"Porno Manifesto" and "Rape in Holding Cell 6" were more plot oriented with some character development to make them seem real, but they weren't a challenge in the writing style. With them, it was the mechanics, and it really shows in PM; less so in RIHC6.

"NYPD Blood" was me keeping it in the mindset of a guy from NYC in the 60s and 70s who doesn't recognize his own growing emotional instability while making it obvious to others. With this one, while I had a real person to use for the manner of speech and resources like "Serpico" and "Prince of the City" to draw upon, it was the jumping around in the story while still keeping a linear structure that was the challenge. Again, I don't know if it worked.

So...I like to try different things. I enjoy the challenge, even as I whine about it. But this is the first time I've had problems with a character about his storytelling. I know what Jake wants, but he's smarter than he lets on. He's better educated. It's all a facade he's built to protect himself, and him dropping it for a moment at a crucial moment in the story let me see that. He's not a Raymond Chandler or James Ellroy kind of guy. He reads. He's an artist. A creator. He's working on a graphic novel. He cares about people. He's loyal to a fault. He's not a lone wolf but one that belongs with a pack.

He's not being honest with me. Why not?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Circling the wagons

The old western phrase, which was how wagon trains fended off attacks by Native Americans. I'm trying to do it with my finances...and that took up all of this evening. Changing insurance companies to get less expensive policies. Working out a serious budget to keep spending to a minimum. checking into the penalties to stop cable and my land-line (and finding out I'm too close to the end of the contract for it to be of any use). writing done. But at least I dropped my current expenditures by over $80 a month.

I'm doing this because once I have OT's first draft done, I'm getting A65 into order and entering it into competitions and festivals...and those ain't cheap. I need the flexibility in my outgo. I have a feeling this script is the one that will put me over the top, finally. But it has to be as good as it can be. No, it has to be better.

The positive thing about OT, right now, is it's keeping my brain focused on something else and getting me plenty of distance from A65. That way I can approach it as if it's someone else's work and attack it, accordingly.

I also got a deal through my health insurance where I can join a fairly cheap gym for free. Up to $250 per year. Now it's a case of where I'd be stupid if I didn't make use of that...and I've got too many other ways to be stupid. On this, my goal is to build stamina more than anything else. I've noticed I get tired a lot easier, these days, and I can't do that while I'm dealing with packing books. Collapsing at the end of the day is not a way to get anything else done besides work. So...back to the stationary bike.

Who knows? Maybe someday I'll wind up back at 160 lbs and healthy as a horse.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The last of Chapter 2 of OT

Clarifying what I have drains the this pick up from the post before last...
I couldn’t believe it. “My mother called you?”

“Me,” said Tone. “Looking for you. I told her you were out of the country.”


“Day before yesterday.”

Suddenly, I was thinking I should’ve gone to see her the second I got back.

“She leave a number?”

Tone nodded, still too even.

“What’d she say to you, Tone?”

“Jake, I don’t want to add to any problems -- .”

“What did she say to you?”

“She just asked why you were here. And I told her, to be with me. And she...she sighed and said, Well, that’s typical for Jake; always letting people drag him down. Then she gave me her number and address and -- .”

“I know the address,” I said. “And I’m goin’ straight over there.”

“She’s moved, Jake,” said Matt. “Here’s her new – .”

“She sold her condo? She loved that fuckin’ place.”

“Just telling you what she told us.”

I’d finished my meal so slid off the stool. “I’m gonna get dressed and go see her, now.” Matt gave me a slip of paper with a phone number and address on it. I recognized it. “This is south side.”

Matt just shrugged. Of course he wouldn’t know; he hadn’t been here long enough. But my mother was one of those snooty types who lived where there were acceptable people around, and the Southside was spotty, at best.

I went around the counter, took Tone by the arm and guided him into the bedroom with me. I closed the door behind us and sat him on the bed, then I kneeled before him and looked hard into his eyes.

“What else did my mother say to you?”

He looked away. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Okay. I won’t make you. But keep something in mind, Tone. I ain’t seen that bitch since she let my father kick me out of her home. So what she knows about me and how I work is nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. Anything she says to you about me, is total bullshit.”

He cast me his patented sideways glance and said, “But she’s right. You wouldn’t be here except for me.”

“You’re right. I wouldn’t.” His eyes began to hurt, but then I added, “I’d be back in jail, or still living in Gramma’s house and trying to figure out how to make a livin’. And I’d have a record instead of exoneration. I couldn’t have gone to work with Uncle Ari. I’d never have met my brothers and sisters or Mira or cousins. I wouldn’t be alive, Tone. I’d be existin’, but I wouldn’t be alive. And I wouldn’t have you.”

He rolled his eyes and looked away. “Dammit, Jake – now I feel like an asshole.”

“You are one, bitch.” I leaned my chin against his chest. “But keeps something else in mind – my mother could break the heart of a marine drill sergeant in a nano-second. Believe me, I’d rather go back to prison than go over to her place, right now.”

“Then don’t.”

“I have to. Something’s goin’ on with my uncle Owen and she’s part of it. And I need to know what she’s up to, and the only way to find out is a face-to-face.”

“Should I stock up on the alcohol?”

I nodded. “Beer, please. No, fuck it – Tequila.”

“I’ll get some mixers and invite Aron over. We’ll have nice queeny get-together.”

“Cool.” He got up and headed for the door, but I held onto his hand and asked, “Will you tell me everything she said to you, tonight?”

He gripped my hand and said, “I’ll tell you now.” He took in a deep breath. “She figured out how wrong she was, doing what she did to you. And she’s sorry. And wants to make amends.”

“What’s so awful about that?”

“I’s just...I didn’t believe a word of it. She sounded like she was reading from a prepared text. And I thought I was being a real shit for thinking that.”

“You weren’t,” I said.

He cast me a quick smile and left the room. He hadn’t told me anything worth ripping him up, so he was still hiding it from me. Shit.

I sat on the floor, shaken. I’d come damn close to asking Tone to go with me to see her, and now I was glad I hadn’t. I mean, I’ve never been able to tell when my mom’s being straight with me or working her way round on something. She was like this blind spot. Even when she called and tried to make me agree to start ex-gay therapy, I’d felt like she really meant well by it and was just being crazy and all that. I’d never thought of her as someone who was capable of lying. But Tone’d sensed it straight off, and it spooked me. Made me wonder if I’d be able to tell what she was really after.

Well...there’s only one way to find out. I got up and got dressed and headed over to the insurance company where she worked. I wanted a nice calm professional environment around us, as a buffer, I guess.

Only it turned out she hadn’t worked there in over two years.

Man...I did have a lot to catch up on, with her.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Silent no more

I worked on OT, tonight. The story is filling itself in and working out its structure in some surprising ways, to me. And Jake's language has simplified to a modern version of hard-boiled. Mr. cool, calm and collected...he thinks. But moments pop in to show he's trying to fool himself as much as anybody else.

Something else that's working on Jake is his time in prison and the secrets he's keeping. His uncle's disappearance shakes up his ability to ignore the past, and it begins to bubble up in ways I didn't expect.

It all ties into a theme that seems to want to present itself -- that we can never really know someone, no matter how close we are to them...even ourselves. This is a bit close to the bone, for me...because there are aspects of my life I've shared with no one. At all. And probably never will. And me, that indicates a serious lack of trust. Or the ability to trust. I'm not sure which.

But I came up with a line for Mira, Jake's stepmother, to share with him. "Only a fool trusts everyone, and only a coward trusts no one." I'm in both camps, which seems to be a contradiction...but isn't, really.

I will say, Jake is building into someone anybody could trust. Maybe he's becoming too good. Too idealized on my pages. Nobody's perfect, and he's willing to not be. But I haven't worked him out completely, yet.

If I ever can.

Monday, January 21, 2013

More of OT's Chapter 2

No thoughts of my own, so here are Jake's. He's talking with Antony and Matt over lunch, and remembering a past lover...

(I'm using Dave Mason in his "Pretty Pony" guise to personify Dion; I actually own a copy of a poster with him dressed like this.)
Well, I’d never forgotten “Rose”. I’d just graduated high school and was headed for college in the fall, so went to visit Uncle Owen during Pride in Palm Springs, and learned just how not-alone I was in the world.

I also got a weird vibe off most of the guys Uncle Owen introduced me to, like I wasn’t worthy of them. Granted, I wasn’t all that buff, back then, but I wasn’t ugly. Later, I realized the problem was most of them thought I was Mexican. It wasn’t till I met Rose that things turned around.

We were at some pool party at some ranch house of a mansion under a blazing sun, surrounded by all these pumped up muscle queens in the wildest assortment of Speedos and thongs and board shorts that had been made shorter, everybody diving into both the pool and the neverending supply of flashy drinks. He was the only one dressed in a costume, and it was like a weird combination of “The Flying Nun” and Mother Superior from “The Sound of Music”, with a strong dash of Joan Crawford. To about his hips. From there down was just a pair of legs that were formed by perfection, flowing under these sexy net stockings and into rhinestone-studded flip-flops. I had to look up to see his big lovely eyes and smile, he was so tall. I felt like a Pygmy.

Uncle Owen introduced us then wandered off to grab another glass of green something or other. I’d noticed he was one of a dozen guys wearing a simple t-shirt and cargo shorts, all of them about the same middle-age as him. But while they were slipping closer and closer to dumpy, my uncle could carry his careful outfit off because he was still trim and in proportion. He even had a full head of hair...though it was headed into gray territory.

Rose was the first guy who paid attention to my looks instead of his preconceptions...and let it be known by saying, “Call me Dion.” Then he’d asked, “Are you from Egypt? You’ve got this really amazing Omar Sharif vibe going.”

Which was bullshit. I’d seen “Funny Girl” and “Lawrence of Arabia”; the only similarities between us were the dark hair and olive skin. But I knew what he was getting at and told him, “Half Persian.”

“Oh,” he’d said. “A real live Persian Boy. Have you read the book?”

I had no idea what he was talking about. He must have noticed it my eyes or something, because he smiled and caressed my chin and said, “By Mary Renault. A book about Alexander the Great and his Persian slave boy.”

“Is it porn?” I asked, grinning.

He laughed and patted my face and said, “Only of the heart.” Then he’d taken off his hat and removed the top, and I saw he was almost as much of a muscle queen as the rest of the guys there, just in this black, shiny square-cut Speedo and with hair still on his body. “It’s too hot for this shit.”

I noticed there was a space in the pool near us, so grabbed him around the waist and pulled him in...and let’s just say, we had a great night, together. Hell, great week.

“Jake,” asked Uncle Owen, “are you still here?”

I came back to the phone call and said, “Yeah. I was just remembering how Dion went by Rose.”

“His real name’s Donald, but don’t ever tell him I told you that.”

I laughed. “I don’t think I’ll ever see him, again.”

“You never know. Anyway, Preston started making noises to the local paper, too. We even used a couple of his comments in fliers we mailed out against the DA. Now they’ve got three angry faggots with hard-assed lawyers, so I think he realizes it’s better to get the LA boys out of here before the rest of us fags get the idea we can fight back. And while it may seem like it’s an obvious way to go, I can’t tell you how many queens I know who gave in because they think this is the way of the world.”

“It is, Uncle Owen.”

“Then why didn’t you take a deal when you were facing prison?”

“Some nights...some nights I wish I had.”

“Stop it!” His voice cracked into me like a whip. “That’s nonsense! If you hadn’t fought, you wouldn’t be free, today. You might still have wound up in jail, and you wouldn’t have had the moral authority to force them to acknowledge what happened to you was wrong. You did the right thing, Jake. I know it’s hard to believe, right now, but -- .”

“But you don’t know what I had to do to survive in that place.”

“I have an idea. Dion was in prison, once, and we talked. And it only makes me prouder of you. Your grandmother felt the same way. We both knew you were innocent, and you being able to make it through that without being destroyed by proved to both of us what kind of man you are. Understand? I won’t have you denigrating yourself, not in my long-distance presence.”

I nodded then said, “Yes, sir.”

“Now I’m going to end this call before I start getting weepy.”

“Lemme know how things go, okay? And I mean it – if you need me out there.”

“Your job is to take care of Antony, right now. See, I do know his name. I can take myself.”

The day after his trial, I got a text message, “I was half-right.” I tried to call but got his voicemail so sent a text back. “Half?” He never answered. In fact, that was the last time we connected.

Tone was looking at me with his quiet, wary expression, so I jumped in fast. “Tone, I wasn’t a virgin when I went to jail.”

“I know,” he said, his voice way too even. “You told me.”

“Then what’s wrong?”



“No, Jake, really, it’s nothing. It’s were smiling when you talked about him.”

“What’s this jealousy bullshit? He was a nut job.”

“Like me.”

I rolled my eyes. “No, not like you. He was deliberately crazy. Something to break up the monotony of the job he had. Now don’t get me wrong – I liked him. And I was in lust with him for the week I was out here, not love. Then I went home. And went to college. And went to jail. And went to Denmark. I ain’t seen him, since.”

“What job did he have?” Tone asked, his voice still too even.

“He managed some properties for a real estate company. Cotton shirt and pants with a crease in ‘em.”

“Do you miss him?”

“What’re you askin’ me, Tone?”

He looked away. I was about to loose my cool when Matt put a hand on my arm and said, “Jake, a man named Donald Rice was in contact with your mother, asking about your uncle’s condos.”

“Condos? He had more’n one?”

“Four, to be exact. One he lived in; three he rented out. He also owns some other property.”

“Whoa, how d’you know he called my mother?”

“She told us.”

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ripped out

I got the flow of OT going, again, to the point where I have a good, solid 245 pages / more than 55,000 words put together -- and I felt like that damn hummingbird had finally made itself known, only to suddenly have Jake reveal something he's brutally insecure about and shake me up so much, I had to back away.

To me, Jake has always been a wolf sitting on a rock, calm, ready for anything. He knows his world. He knows himself. He knows what he's done to survive, and what he can and can't do to keep on going. I thought. But now I'm not so sure. Because I suddenly saw the reason for me to start the story with his stepmother asking why he stays with Antony -- she's seen something that Jake can't accept, and when he finally does see it for himself, it tears him apart.

And makes him cruel. Something I never thought my Jake could be.

It's moments like this that scare me, a little. I'm writing along and things are flowing beautifully and I can see what's going to happen next...and it does...and it does...and then suddenly something pops out to reverse it all and reveal some new layer to the characters. And I don't know where the hell it came from. I wasn't planning it. But there it is, snarling at me.

This is what I get for pissing off the muse. She turns around and snarls, "Okay, bitch, you want it? You got it." Then she slaps me in face.

I shifted to another section of the story I'd already written and smoothed that over to where it would fit with what I have, so far, so I could get some distance from this new information. It's going in; I know that. And I can face it...because it makes Jake so much more human. I was idolizing him, too much. Making him more heroic than he needed to be. Now?

Jesus, now I have no idea.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

No hummingbird when you need one...

Still circling OT so here's more of chapter 2, beginning where the first section left off, of course. The first bit is an e-mail Jake's relating to Antony and Matt, from Owen.
I met with a deputy district attorney about my case, today, in Riverside. Not the most fun of drives. You have to cross the mountains and the city stinks, literally. Plus parking is very expensive, unless you want to take your chances at a meter and hope the petty fascists who hand out tickets don’t find you if you stay one second over the allotted time. I think it was done deliberately, to enforce how in control they are. He has an office in Palms West, as well, but that would have been too convenient.

His name is Bennett, and he is the epitome of an aging metrosexual. He and Ms. Ginty tried to make me take a deal. “It’s a really good one,” he said with all the sincerity of a used car salesman. “Disturbing the peace. Six months probation, and if you meet all conditions, the conviction will be expunged. This is the best I can offer.”

I told him, “I’ve done nothing wrong or illegal, so I see no reason to say I did just to make your job easier.”

“Cut it out,” said Ms. Ginty in this really snotty voice. “We have a witness who backs up the officer’s version of the arrest.”

Which was nonsense. There was no one around but me and that officer. I told them this, and they shrugged. “That’s not a good defense, telling the judge everyone’s lying about you. He won’t believe a word of it.”

“Then I’ll have a trial by jury.”

“Owen, do you really want to waste taxpayer money?” said Bennett.

“I told you, I’ve done nothing wrong or illegal.”

“The jury won’t believe you,” he said, giving off this heavy-hearted vibe. “I’ve gotten convictions with less evidence.”

“Who’s this other witness?” I asked.

“We’ll provide you with a witness list,” said Ms. Ginty.

I grew angry and snapped, “Meaning you don’t know who it’s going to be, yet. You haven’t found anyone willing to back the officer up.” I rose and headed for the door, saying, “When you do, let me know and I’ll deal with it, then.”

“We’re not done, yet, Owen,” she snapped.

I glared at her and said, “It’s Mr. Taylor. I haven’t given either one of you the right to call me by my given name.”

“Oh, please.”

In answer, I slammed the door on my way out. Well, tried to; it’s on one of those auto-close pump-action set-ups, whatever they’re called, so it only bounced back and then slowly settled shut on its own steam.

Of course I went straight to the County Clerk and paid for a copy of the arrest report. Not a word of there being a witness on it. Hardly a surprise. So I immediately went back to Page’s and got a copy of the security surveillance video. It’s all strictly indoors so doesn’t show any of our interaction, but it does back me up in so many ways, this trial will be quite the experience.

I’ve also learned a friend is facing the same charges, so he and I met with his attorney last Tuesday. He’s got too much going on to defend me, but he gave me pointers on how to work the trial. I’m actually beginning to think this will be more than a little fun.

I called Uncle Owen when I got it, and we talked for about half an hour, while Tone was in one of his therapy sessions.

“The video’s only back-up, Jake,” he said. “I can use it to cast doubt on his version of events.”

“But if it doesn’t show anything...”

“It shows he’s alone. And he followed me all over the store; I didn’t follow him as he claimed in his report.”

“You’re not goin’ to Bennett with it, are you?”

“Of course not. That prick of a cop already changed his story about there being a witness; I’m not giving him cause to change it more.”

“What’s his name?”

“Didn’t I tell you? Sheriff's Deputy Chet Morrow. I seriously doubt it’s his real name; it sounds too porno. I’m close to deciding I ought to depose him. Get his version locked in before the trial.”

“When is it?”

“Week from next Thursday. Doesn’t help this DA’s proven himself to be as much of a dick as his predecessor.”

“They’re all dicks, Uncle Owen.”

“And as in life, some are bigger than others...and his dickishness would gag a horse.”

“Shit, what’d he do?”

“Didn’t I tell you about the previous asshole who was DA? No, wait, it would’ve been about the time you were dealing with probation and the new psycho in your life. Speaking of which, how is Anthony doing?”

“An-TONY,” I laughed. “You ever call him anything else besides that, you’ll find out what a dick really is.”

He laughed. “Good for him.”

“And he’s fine.”

“I’m glad. Okay, the previous DA. Well, it started with the Palm Springs Police Department setting up a sting against gay men, one night. One of those entrapment set-ups, where a cop entices you to expose yourself then arrests you for public indecency. A number of us in the gay community got together and fought to have the charges dismissed. After all, they don’t use female cops to do the same thing to straight men, and when heterosexual couples are caught going too far in public, they’re warned off whereas gay men are arrested. He ignored us, so we pumped our money into his opponent during the next election and kicked him out. It helped that the Palm Springs Chief of Police was caught on tape saying some very un-nice things about gay men during that sting; he wound up resigning.

“Anyway, we get a new DA into office and what happens? He repays our help by pushing through with the criminal cases against the men who were arrested. I told the son-of-a-bitch at the next election we’d fight to have him kicked out, too. His response was, The law is the law; if you don’t like it, change it. I’ve been his opponent ever since, but the problem is, so few others want to. They’re demoralized by the prick’s betrayal and some are leaving the Palms area.”

“So it ain’t just Texas.”

“You find assholes everywhere, Jake. Anyway, Palms Springs' police department also pulled a couple stings, since, including the one the night before I was arrested. I’m caught up in that group, and Bennett is being hard-assed about it. Most of the men have just taken deals. I think they thought I could be forced to, as well.”

“You think the arrest was aimed at you ‘cause you’re helping against the DA?”

“I doubt it. Little deputy Morrow seemed more upset at the fact that I didn’t find him attractive than anything else.”

“Not a muscle queen, huh?”

“Oh, stop it. I like real men, not fake ones. What’s interesting is how many straight men I’ve spoken with who feel the same way about a woman’s breasts. They prefer them natural as opposed to silicon implants.”

“You know straight guys?”

“The man who tends the community’s grounds is straight. Him and his girlfriend. Tend the grounds, I mean. And are straight. Anyway, no gaydar bings off him.”

“So you were checkin’ him out.”

“Well...Ed does have a certain trailer-park-trash kind of cuteness to him, and he usually works shirtless. Showing off his tattoos and broad back and slim hips. And when he wears these holey cargo shorts...” His voice trailed off.

“Uncle Owen,” I said. “Sounds like you got some fantasies goin’ on there.”

“Jake! I’m hardly dead, yet. But nothing’s going to happen; Renate’d cut my dick off if I tried.”

I chuckled. “Be careful with those two. You want me to drive over during the trial? Moral support and all that crap?”

“Thank you, but I have friends and plenty of back up. If I present my case correctly, I doubt it will even go to verdict.”

“What about the other guys who’re fighting the charges? Maybe you oughta let their lawyers handle yours, too.”

“The only reason those attorneys are fighting is because their clients will not accept a deal. I know a couple of them, and they’re the type who probably did do what they were arrested for. And did it erect. There is this one other who’s from Upland and his career would be harmed by any sort of record, so he’s gone whole hog and brought in a couple of big guns from LA. God knows how much it’s costing him, but the DA is already hinting at backing down.”


“No shit. The out-of-towners have gone after the arresting officers’ records and have given interviews to the local paper on how one-sided the DA’s policy is, so Preston – that’s Don’s lawyer – he’s playing copycat.”


“Rice. You met him when you came out, that time.”

“I did?”

“Six-six. Blond. VERY much a Viking. Dressed up as Our Lady of the Howling Dogs for Pride?”

Holy shit, how could I ever forget that? “He said his name was Dion, and you introduced me to him as Rose from The Golden Girls.”

"Oh, my God, you're right. I'd forgotten."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Something's missing...

"I'm going to find a roll of paper to cover the shelves, I'm going to slide it into the typewriter, and I'm going to type as fast as I can, at top speed, to hell with verse and stanza, then we'll see. I slid it into the typewriter and never hit the paragraph key... I laid it out on the floor and it looked like a road". Jack Kerouac

I'm at a roadblock with "The Vanishing of Owen Taylor", again. Dunno why, but it's just not moving. Everything I did yesterday was wasted effort. Just a long mish-mash of Jake talking with Meredith and Connie, two people who live in the complex. It finally set up a get-together of all of Owen's friends in the town...but the rest is crap.

If I could figure out what the issue is in the story, I could get back to the meat of it. I have so many different parts written; it's just connecting them that's proving to be ridiculously hard. I halfway think I should just freestyle it like Kerouac did...but I'm not out to make a chaotic jangle of a road trip with people who are "mad, mad" when the story I do have so obviously wants to be tight and about something more than just the mystery used as its spine, and the characters are all but begging to have more life in them than truth.

What makes it truly irritating is, I know everything about it, now. Maybe that's where the intimidation comes from; it's not going to be an easy tale to make work. Plus, I am really tired of just having pissed-off, obsessive people populate my work. I want some fun. Jake doesn't have to be a coffee-swilling, cigarette-smoking pile of ennui anymore than Tone needs to keep being so full of angst and anger. Why can't they be a little bitchy, sometimes? Why is everything so careful and guarded in their lives, now? Controlled.

I need a hummingbird moment, like I had near the end of "Bobby Carapisi, v2". It's where Eric realizes just how much evil he's inadvertently unleashed and is jolted into trying to rebuild his life so he can do something more than just helplessly watch it expand and destroy. He begins by cleaning his apartment...and when he takes out the trash, he sees a hummingbird making use of a nearby set of flowers. He watches it, in wonder, then it sits on a branch and glares at him, as if to snarl, "What you lookin' at, Bub?" One of those incongruous little moments that alleviate the drama.

Okay, so where's that fucking hummingbird gone to?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kurt Vonnegut speaks about writing...

(I stole this from Salmagundi's blog)

Find a Subject You Care About
Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.
I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way — although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your hose or a love letter to the girl next door will do.
Do Not Ramble, Though
I won’t ramble on about that.
Keep It Simple
As for your use of language: Remember that two great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were most profound. ‘To be or not to be?’ asks Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The longest word is three letters long. Joyce, when he was frisky, could put together a sentence as intricate and as glittering as a necklace for Cleopatra, but my favorite sentence in his short story ‘Eveline’ is just this one: ‘She was tired.’ At that point in the story, no other words could break the heart of a reader as those three words do.
Simplicity of language is not only reputable, but perhaps even sacred. The Bible opens with a sentence well within the writing skills of a lively fourteen-year-old: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and earth.’
Have the Guts to Cut
It may be that you, too, are capable of making necklaces for Cleopatra, so to speak. But your eloquence should be the servant of the ideas in your head. Your rule might be this: If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out.
Sound like Yourself
The writing style which is most natural for you is bound to echo the speech you heard when a child. English was the novelist Joseph Conrad’s third language, and much that seems piquant in his use of English was no doubt colored by his first language, which was Polish. And lucky indeed is the writer who has grown up in Ireland, for the English spoken there is so amusing and musical. I myself grew up in Indianapolis, where common speech sounds like a band saw cutting galvanized tin, and employs a vocabulary as unornamental as a monkey wrench.
I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am. What alternatives do I have? The one most vehemently recommended by teachers has no doubt been pressed on you, as well: to write like cultivated Englishmen of a century or more ago.
Say What You Mean to Say
I used to be exasperated by such teachers, but am no more. I understand now that all those antique essays and stories with which I was to compare my own work were not magnificent for their datedness or foreignness, but for saying precisely what their authors meant them to say. My teachers wished me to write accurately, always selecting the most effective words, and relating the words to one another unambiguously, rigidly, like parts of a machine. The teachers did not want to turn me into an Englishman after all. They hoped that I would become understandable — and therefore understood. And there went my dream of doing with words what Pablo Picasso did with paint or what any number of jazz idols did with music. If I broke all the rules of punctuation, had words mean whatever I wanted them to mean, and strung them together higgledly-piggledy, I would simply not be understood.
So you, too, had better avoid Picasso-style or jazz-style writing if you have something worth saying and wish to be understood.
Readers want our pages to look very much like pages they have seen before. Why? This is because they themselves have a tough job to do, and they need all the help they can get from us.
Pity the Readers
Readers have to identify thousands of little marks on paper, and make sense of them immediately. They have to read, an art so difficult that most people don’t really master it even after having studied it all through grade school and high school — twelve long years.
So this discussion must finally acknowledge that our stylistic options as writers are neither numerous nor glamorous, since our readers are bound to be such imperfect artists. Our audience requires us to be sympathetic and patient teachers, ever willing to simplify and clarify, whereas we would rather soar high above the crowd, singing like nightingales.
That is the bad news. The good news is that we Americans are governed under a unique constitution, which allows us to write whatever we please without fear of punishment. So the most meaningful aspect of our styles, which is what we choose to write about, is utterly unlimited.
For Really Detailed Advice
For a discussion of literary style in a narrower sense, a more technical sense, I commend to your attention The Elements of Style, by Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White. E. B. White is, of course, one of the most admirable literary stylists this country has so far produced.
You should realize, too, that no one would care how well or badly Mr. White expressed himself if he did not have perfectly enchanting things to say.

OT's Chapter 2 continues

The story rambles a bit but I like how it's building a life around Jake and Antony, and sidling into the mystery. (The photo is of Matt.)
Tone plopped a bottle of water on the table and sat with us, then I plowed into my sandwich. Man, he knows how to grill cheese. It’s not just how he slops butter on the whole-grain bread, it’s how he grates three or four cheeses together and slips in chopped up olives and diced tomato and just a dash of onion. Marry that up to a can of tomato soup with a bit of Basil in it and more diced tomatoes, I could easily forget the world and all its crap.

When I finally came up for air, I looked at Matt and said, “Tone says you been busy.”

“I have a new client,” he grinned. “In Ireland. We’re working up a game based on Celtic legends. I’ll show you some of it, later. But that’s nothing. Big news is what you asked me to look into.”

“It’ll sound familiar, Jake,” Tone said, casting glances between me and Matt.

“When was the last time you talked to him?” Matt asked. “Your uncle.”

“On the phone?” It took me a moment to remember. “About three months back. I think the last e-mail was a few weeks later. Maybe a text? Yeah, text.”

“Nothing since?”

I shook my head. “For me and Uncle Owen to talk more’n twice a year was a big deal; he wasn’t big on e-mails or letters or crap, except when I was in jail. So what’s up?”

“Did you know your uncle was busted for public indecency?” Tone asked.

I nodded. I’d gotten a long e-mail from him about it, and he was pissed as he wrote –

I still cannot believe what happened to me, last night. I walked over to Price’s convenience store for some milk, butter, eggs and bread, and was arrested. By a police officer in plain clothes, who claims I asked him to have sex with me. Right there! Talk about ridiculous.

First of all, the man was not the least bit attractive. He looks like one of those puffy body-builders who give off the air of greasiness and psychosis. Seriously, I think he would have exploded if he’d taken in too deep of a breath, that’s how tight his skin was over his face and body. Probably on triple doses of steroids.

Second of all, he was doing everything he could to make me notice him and think he was available for some fun. Seriously, it didn’t matter where I went along those long narrow aisles of overpriced goods, the moment I stopped, he’d appear next to me to “look at something for himself.” Then he’d cast me a glance and all but licked his lips to send out that age-old signal of “blow-job.” It actually spooked me, a little, so when I went up to pay for my things and he appeared behind me, before the clerk could begin ringing me up, I said, “I forgot something,” and scurried to the very back of the store to check in the coolers for...whatever. I just wanted him to leave.

When he finally did, I took my time paying for my things, but he was waiting outside as I exited. He approached me and asked me if I wanted to have some fun. He said that he was really horny.

I told him, “That’s not where my head is, right now, thanks.”

He frowned and said, “C’mon, I know you’re gay.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” I asked, more than a little peeved. Because I’m queer I’ll jump on anything that has a dick, whether I’m in the mood or not? What a stupid thing to say.

He kept following me, saying, “C’mon, man, I really need to fuck with somebody, tonight. I’m so fuckin’ horny.”

I began to get nervous. His insistence was beginning to seem more pathological than needy. A number of gay men have been beaten and robbed, recently. One’s still in the hospital. So I stopped and said, “Dammit, I left my cell phone on the sales counter. Tell you what – let me get it, first, then we can talk some more.”

I started to return to the store, but he said, “No need to faggot. You’re under arrest.”

“For what?” I asked.

“Public indecency.” The words leapt from his mouth as if they were just waiting for release.

I pulled away from him, angry, telling him, “You’re no more a police officer than I am!”

That is when he held up his badge, saying, “And that’s resisting arrest.”

He slammed me against the side of the store, handcuffed me from behind and yanked me over to a new red Camaro, handing me the Miranda saying the whole way, even as I protested. I was taken to the city jail in Indio, booked, fingerprinted, and put in a holding cell. No one else was around. I’d never been arrested before, so I can’t say for certain all jail cells are like this one – but it was vile. A toilet in a corner of the room with nothing in the way of privacy. A sink was beside it but the water came out in a trickle. A table jutted from another wall with stools affixed to the floor. Two pair of bunk beds sat at a ninety-degree angle to them. Hardly “Architectural Digest.”

I was given nothing to eat or drink until seven a-m the next morning, then I was taken to another room where I was arraigned. And the Assistant handling the bail hearing for the DA’s office was this huffy little thing that looked like she could blow away if the breeze got to be too strong.

I was led before a judge as my trial numbers were read aloud. The moment the bailiff stopped, the ADA said, “People ask for one-hundred thousand dollars bail, your honor.”

“What?!” shot out of me.

“The defendant accosted a decorated police office, exposed himself and attempted to have the officer follow his lead on a public thoroughfare. When he learned he was talking to a policeman, he became irate and tried to storm away. Indications are he would be a flight risk.”

“That’s nonsense you honor!” I snapped. “The officer approached me and asked me for sex, and when I said no -- .”

“This is preposterous on the face of it, your honor. The arresting officer actually told the defendant to leave him alone in hopes he could just drive away.”

“Oh, you want to talk about preposterous?” I cried. “That I’d risk being beaten, robbed, or even killed for something that looks like him!”

The judge finally told us to be quiet and asked me, “Do you have a lawyer, Mr. Taylor?”

“I do.”

“Where is he?”

“She was not answering her phone; all I got was her voicemail. But your honor, I own property in this town. I have no criminal history. No arrest record. I don’t even have an unpaid parking ticket.”

“Is this true, Ms. Ginty?” the judge asked.

“We haven’t fully vetted his background, sir.”

“Yes or no?”

“So far as we can tell -- .”

“That’s the same as a yes.” He tuned to me and asked, “I assume your plea is Not Guilty?”

“Absolutely,” I shot back.

“I’m setting bail at five-thousand.” Then he slammed his gavel down.

I paid a bondsman to handle the bail and I was released just a little while ago. The first thing I did when I arrived home was take a shower and feed myself something decent. The breakfast they force upon the inmates appears to be made of combinations of cubed chicken, powdered eggs and cheese whiz wrapped in a flour tortilla. I hate flour tortillas.

I spoke with my attorney a little while ago, and she told me her expertise is real estate but a colleague of hers could probably get me a good deal. I told her, more than once, I’d done nothing wrong or illegal and she all but ignored me, so I contacted another attorney, some firm named Baskin, Baskin and Reed, and received the same response; “We can get you down to public nuisance or disturbing the peace.” That I’d done nothing wrong was beside the point, apparently.

So it will be me representing myself, apparently. Both attorneys were willing to fight on my behalf, but I’d rather have someone who believes me defending me, not some fool going through the motions. And since I’m the only one who does...

“I called him and we talked for a while,” I told Matt. “He said he had some evidence that would probably kill the case before it went to trial, but he wouldn’t tell me what it was. He didn’t want to jinx it.”

I finally woke up to how quiet Tone was being. I looked at him...but he didn’t look at me.

“Jake,” he all but whispered, “why didn’t you tell me?”

“C’mon, Tone, you ever known me to gossip?”

“This isn’t gossip! It’s a system of justice being misused and -- .”

“And look at what you’re doin’!” I snapped at him. “Already taking it on like you did against Stanton and Thomas and the whole fuckin’ state of Texas, which almost got you killed! Hell, you’re still caught up in their crap, and you wanna take on California, too? You got enough to worry about, Tone, and my uncle wasn’t interested in sharing with anybody, right then. So back it off. This ain’t about you.”

“Uh, Jake, Jake,” Matt said, “there’s more to it than just your uncle’s arrest. Do you know what happened after that?”

I looked at Matt. Something about him being so careful about the info didn’t feel right, so I decided the hell with gossip and privacy, and I told them everything I knew.

Including how there was another e-mail.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

More of OT

Beginning of chapter 2...with a touch of my idea of Jake to set it off.
I decided to give myself a couple days to get past jet lag before dropping by mom’s place of employment. Her phone number wasn’t good, anymore, and I really didn’t feel like waiting around her condo till she showed up. She has a habit of taking off and not being around for a few days without bothering to tell anybody where she’s gone, so she might not even be home.

I’m glad I did; for some reason, this trip hit me hard. Going straight to dinner with Uncle Ari’s client after nine hours in a plane, not including the layover in Paris and the short-hop, and it being like four pm by my body clock before we were done, after having been up all night. But it wasn’t just that; I found an e-mail from Uncle Owen to a personal address I didn’t usually access because it was Copenhagen based. The only reason I logged on was to let Tone know I’d arrived and the icon popped up. It threw me; Uncle Owen hadn’t used that one since Tone and I set up our temporary home in Texas with a new e-dress so the legal shits could contact us.

I e-mailed Matt and asked him to do some research into him, then hopped the earliest plane back, which meant dealing with the never-ending boredom of Schiphol Airport. I’d held off from a nap because I figured I’d sleep on the flight. Instead, it was crammed with brats who took turns crying at the top of their lungs the whole way. I swore I was gonna get a set of noise-canceling headphones soon as I landed, no matter how much they cost.

Now I’ve done rush trips like this, before, and had next to no trouble with jet lag. This time? I fell asleep in the car as Tone was driving me home. When I woke up, I was in bed and it was the next day. He said I walked in all on my own, but I don’t remember it.

Anyway, I returned from darkness thanks to the aroma of his coffee -- well, my coffee, since he was holding it right next to my nose. I sat up and took the mug and sipped it; Tone boils his coffee just as hot as his cocoa, so I’m always careful with the first time my lips touch the cup.

“Okay,” I muttered, “I’m starting to feel human, again.”

“You so sure?” he said.

“Lemme shower first,” I said, “See if I’m still here. What time’s it?”

“Almost noon. I’d offer you brunch, but it’s Thursday.”


“So brunch is for weekends.”

“Says who?”

“Say the rules.”

“Since when do you follow those?”

“Since I became a convicted felon. I cross the street at the corner. I pay for everything in my cart, even when the clerk forgets to ring something up. I’m a devout Presbyterian, whatever that is. I bake potatoes to go with steak, as is the law in Texas. And I go one mile per hour under the speed limit when I drive.”

I looked at him, wary. “That sounds like the speech you’re gonna give the judge, next week.”

“Close to it. How ‘bout a grilled cheese and cup of tomato soup?”

“Sounds killer.”

“It’ll be ready when you are.”

I looked him over. He was wearing one of Matt’s t-shirts – the black one with a green skeleton’s hand covering the front – and it was a bit snug on him. That and the almost-loose jeans he was wearing made him look like a guy ready go out dancing, and it amazed me at how sexy he could appear without a thought.

I leaned back, finally realizing I was completely naked under the sheet and blanket, and put my hands behind my head as a sneer crossed my face. “Don’t you wanna watch me bathe?”

He smirked and trailed a finger from my nose to my belly button as he said, “Tonight.”

“Careful,” I sighed. “You’ll get something started.”

“Yes. The soup. Don’t take too long. Matt’s got something to show you, and then you can tell us both about how brilliant you were with Ari’s client.” Then he was gone. Not even a peck on the cheek. My breath must really be crappy, which wouldn’t surprise me, considering the crappy airline food.

I flipped the covers off and jumped to my feet and stretched. Man, it felt good to be in a place where I didn’t have to give a shit. And I don’t mean in Texas; I just mean in Tone’s and my place. We’d stayed with his folks the first three months of dealing with the state’s fucked up system of justice, then I’d figured we were gonna be here for at least another year so rented the left side of a two-story duplex on the north end of town, near one of the few parks the city had. It wasn’t new but was built solid, had hardwood floors and a couple of baths, furniture courtesy of Tone’s folks. Matt had the other bedroom.

He’d moved here when I got the place, at my invitation. I did it to let him know I was okay with what’d gone down between him and Tone, and because I’d learned all his friends were online. That didn’t sit right with me. You should always have people around who can just be there to be with. Keeps you from getting lost in your own misery.

Turned out our neighbor was also Jewish and had a brother who’s gay. Named Aron. Who was stocky and smiley and half-red-haired and more than a little shy. But he and Matt hit it off, and now about every other Friday night, Matt did not come home till late Saturday or Sunday. After brunch.

The rest of the week, he did programming and websites and maintained his domain hotels, which were set up along one wall in the dining room and let off this non-stop hum that could be heard everywhere in the place. Hell, I think they had their own friggin’ satellite dedicated to them, with all the crap Matt had going on inside those little boxes.

I looked outside at the back garden, and it was sort of drizzly and gray; the perfect day for soup. Winter was closing in and I looked forward to it. I liked the cold and snow of Copenhagen and hoped we’d have some here, this year. But maybe Tone and the judge’d finally end the whole damn thing and we could get back to the real world. I’d hinted at Matt about joining us, but he didn’t seem too hot for the idea. I guess if he and Aron hit it off, he wanted to stick it out in this hell-hole.

I showered and shaved and decided to get my thick, black mop cut. I also thought for two seconds about letting my heavy whiskers grow into a goatee...then lopped ‘em all off, brushed my teeth, and wrapped myself in a nice, long, clean robe. By the time I got to the kitchen, Tone had everything ready. Matt was seated at the counter, grinning and munching on a sweet pickle as he tried to sneak bites of the grilled cheesers, like he was a kid. Hell, he looked like a kid, being so slim and big-eyed and never in anything but a t-shirt and jeans. I’d have pegged him as a high school brat if I hadn’t known he’s the same age as me...and known some of the crap he’d pulled, himself.

I plopped on a stool beside him and let him pop a gherkin in my mouth as Tone ladled out the soup, and suddenly I got the feeling it was a mistake for me to bring Matt to Texas; he had no idea how vicious this place could be for a gay man. I’d try and talk him out of staying.

That’s when I decided not to see mom till later in the week. My head was still kind of thick, and I just plain didn’t want to mess with how easy I was feeling. I also wanted to get some more details under my belt before chatting her up about calling dad. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans...

Monday, January 14, 2013

I got nothin'...

Just plain exhausted. Little sleep, last night, thanks to my legs and feet aching. Probably will tonight, too. Just sat in a hot tub for an hour...till it was lukewarm, and find I hate hotel tubs. They have a scratchy base put in so you don't slip when showering, but which scratch your ass when you try to move while sitting.

Okay...I'm whining. Time to go away. Sorry, Jake, I'm just not in the mood.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I worked more on OT, today...and it began tightening up, plot-wise. The undercurrents have shifted and the backgrounds have merged and connected to the point where I may not have a book that's the length of a Dickens novel but one that's more wieldy and straightforward.

It also looks like OT will tie up some loose ends as regards "RIHC6". I'm not sure why it's working out that way, except I like a sense of continuum in Jake's, Tone's, and Matt's lives...and if I work up another story for them, it will keep moving forward with them.

I still have some questions that haven't been answered as regards Antony and Jake, important ones that figure in the detail of the story. But I'm close enough to it all to keep going and hope something pops up that won't necessitate a full rewrite. Not that I won't do one, anyway.

I played it easy, today, just doing laundry and updating parts of the book that've already been written. Tomorrow's going to be rough, with the pickup of the remaining 226 boxes we packed and driving up to Greenwich during rush hour, it looks like. NOT looking forward to that.

I learned Aaron Schwartz, a co-founder of Reddit, hanged himself Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, in New York City. In 2011, he was charged with stealing millions of free -- yes, FREE -- scientific journals from a computer archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in an attempt to make them even more freely available. He had pleaded not guilty, and his federal trial was to begin next month.

What's crazy about this is, he was legally authorized to download those journals. He had approved access. He did it through JSTOR, and they actually refused to press charges against him and even argued against the Department of Justice charging him with anything, but the DoJ still slapped Schwartz with 13 felony counts, apparently with MIT's approval.

Nothing new about this. In 1993, Steve Jackson Games was raided because someone writing games for them was suspected by the DoJ of stealing classified information from Bell South. Then it turned out this "classified information" was available for sale from Bell South, and in certain instances, was actually available for free. But the DoJ still pursued charges agains Steve Jackson and his company...and lost. The jury returned not guilty verdicts in 2 of the 3 charges, and the 3rd one was overturned in a scathing opinion by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

But they're still doing it. Turns out the US attorney pushing the case, Carmen Ortiz, was planning a run for governor of Massachusetts. Guess she figured a high-profile case like this was a slam dunk in forwarding her political career. So she drove a man who was already fragile, emotionally, to his death.

But the DoJ won't even consider trying the banksters and Wall Street scum who stole hundreds of billions of dollars from Americans and crashed the economy, despite massive proof of wrongdoing.

I've had people tell me my view of justice in the US is too jaded and harsh. That my books paint too uncompromising a picture of a system out of control. Next time someone says that to me, I'm shoving their face in this travesty.

This is not America; this is the Soviet Union's style of justice. Stalin would be proud.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


"Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else." Mark Twain.

If that's true, then what are writers? People who wish they could lead other lives? Or want to remake the one they've led? Or both? Can you be a writer and not be aware of the contradictions in yourself? Or does part of that art mean you have no choice but to notice the multiples within? (referencing Walt Whitman, here.)

With me, I'm greedy -- it's all of the above. I think I have a dozen different writers (read: characters) in me each trying to tell a tale through my one set of fingers...sometimes all at once. So I scatter from here and gather to there and see beauty above me and horror ahead and love to my right and hate to my left with evil in my mind's rear-view mirror. Small wonder I so identified with Daniel in "The Lyons' Den"; his brain was mine tapped in full and damn near laid bare.

You see, I just finished packing a library that contained 7000 books, all about art...and just the casual handling of these volumes and glances in passing of their titles has sent my mind reeling. Suddenly, the Salem Witch Trials play a part in OT. As does Greenland. It makes no sense, at the moment, but it will. And I say that without hesitation, for once. It just...will.

The same goes for "The Alice '65". I know what the book means to Adam, and now I can see what it means to Casey. So their worlds need to be more tightly wound and better detailed, which I already knew...but also should not be as out of control, at least insofar as Casey is concerned; Adam's just caught in her seemingly chaotic undertow.

Which makes Gertrude angry and afraid. She thinks I'll forget about her and lose Adam and Casey and not try to tell their stories in the best way possible, but instead will get lost in minutia, again. She wonders if I'll listen to the one person who said to cut her out of A65 so as to make it clearer and simpler (I won't; she's in the fabric of the tale).

She symbolizes Casey in some way, and I need to find out what that is. I think it's the key to the story.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Who, me? Simplify?

Never gonna happen. Soon as I figured out that's what I needed, a whole new background exploded around OT...and makes perfect sense because it explains EVERYTHING in the story, so far. Needless to add, I am shocked, SHOCKED to find out a comment made about Jake that pissed him off is actually true. And he's gotta deal with it.

He's not happy with me, right now.

But all the bits of the story link together. Can't do much better than that...except write them.

It's hard to do at the moment because an old problem I have with my hands is flaring up, thanks to this packing job. Right now, the middle finger of my right hand has a sore on its tip because the skin got so dry it cracked open and started to bleed. I've been soaking it in water and lathering on Neutrogena, as was recommended by a dermatologist, but right now it hurts to type because I use that finger a lot....and I get so lost in what I'm writing, I forget about it and BAM! Sharp pain.

I need to start carrying a rubber thimble or plastic glove on these big jobs, since it never happens on the smaller ones.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Got it...

As I was packing, today, and prepping for another packing job on Tuesday, next week, in Connecticut, I got the "why" of "The Vanishing of Owen Taylor". One good thing about this job is it brings me in contact with all sorts of different books, and they send my mind on its own little wander, quite often.

The library I'm packing deals with Flemish art history and critique and all, from the 15th Century up to today. We're talking thousands of books in Dutch, French, German, Russian, Italian, Czech, name the language, there was one written in it, no question. Including a lot in English.

One title hit me -- "Art & Anarchy", by Edgar Wind, published in 1963. It's "a collection of a series of lectures he presented on the BBC in 1960. The work takes its title from its first essay on Plato’s 'sacred fear,' a central feature, as Plato described it, of the Greek response to a powerful work of art. Wind contends that art once acted as a primal emotional force, able to enthrall the masses and stir them into frenzies. As he explained it --

(Plato) rated the strength of man’s imagination so high that he thought a man could be transformed by the things he imagined. Hence he found miming a most perilous exercise; and he devised curious laws that would prohibit the miming of extravagant or evil characters. Recitations were to change at such moments from dramatic to narrative language, so that a certain distance would be established between the speaker and what he says, as if we were to speak of evil only in the third person, not the first, for fear we might otherwise become evil.

But Plato’s sacred fear has dissolved since the renaissance and the experience of modern art has become one of superficial delight without lasting emotional force." (I got a lot of this from the Wickipedia article on Edgar Wind.)

I think I read this book back when I was seriously considering becoming an artist. I was working in an upscale department store as a visual merchandiser, building and designing display materials and doing windows and mannequins and such. I started straight out of high school and worked at it for five years before going back to college for film.

But I was taking art classes, too, and I think this was one of the books referenced in a class. sent my brain on its own journey as I packed, and led me to a place where I could see I was overcomplicating the situation in OT. Sometimes the best answer to a question is the simplest one. And now I know what happened, when, to whom, where...and why.

Of course, now the trick is to keep a reader from figuring that out before I want to reveal it in the book. I guess I'll have to see just how devious I can be. Hee-hee.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


I'm like a turtle in my writing, during the week. I get some done but not as much as I'd like. And it looks like I'll be working Saturday, too, so that'll mess up the writing, as well. This job's taking a lot out of me, but Jake's ready to finish this book so I have to let it out.

Right now, I'm adding in some stuff to set up the California situation, re -- his Uncle Owen. I'd jumped the gun and put a confrontation with the cops in too soon, so finessing it to be later in the story makes sense. I need to introduce some of the other characters, first -- people like Connie, who's an ally of Jake's; Dion, of course; Kent, Dion's husband; Meredith, a older lesbian; and the townhouse Owen lived in and owns.

I know what's going on, A-B-C-wise, but for some reason I can't figure out why, yet. Got lots of possibilities, but none of them have put their claws into the meat of the plot. Maybe once I get deeper into the story, it'll become clear.

I also have a chapter between Jake and his mom that I know will factor in, in some way...but I'm still working blind, on that. Just gotta trust Jake will lead me through it.

His voice is stronger, now. None of the softening words I like to use so much come out of him...and when I do use them, he snaps at me and we take them out. I can use them with other people's dialogue, but not in his telling or speaking.

I'd hoped to have this ready in time to send it to the Breakthrough Novel competition, but no way I can do it...not and have it right. And I think this time I'm going to ask someone else to do the proofing for me...and some editing. I suck at doing that for myself.

But it's only because I know what I mean, even when no one else does.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The rest of OT's Chapter 1

This is my image for Antony, who walked into hell to protect Jake in "Rape In holding Cell 6, v 2".
It’s funny, but she was the only other person in the world I felt like I could be completely open and honest with and know it wouldn’t get back to somebody. So I didn’t censor anything I said, in honor of that. “I get pissed off. I get hurt. But I’m usually really happy, ‘cause he’s always doin’ these little things that let me know he cares about me. Like this one time, when I was havin’ problems with this graphic novel I’m workin’ on. I stood out on a balcony in the freezin’ cold for I dunno how long tryin’ to figure it out and finally just came inside, still lost, and...and Tone had – he’d made me some hot cocoa with marshmallows and a dark chocolate bar melted in, just as I like it. And I sipped some and he leaned over and wiped the chocolate off my moustache and licked his fingers, his eyes dancin’ like a happy kitten’s, and I -- I ached for him. I knew right then I’d kill anybody who tried to hurt him. Almost did.”


“I caught a guy stabbing him. In that cell. I plowed into the bastard and grabbed the knife away and would’ve cut that fuck’s throat if Matt hadn’t stopped me.”


“Wollitz. A friend of Tone and me. Lives with us. He...he yelled at me not to mess up the knife with someone else’s blood. That’d hurt it as evidence. Then the deputies pulled me away was good I didn’t do it. But I didn't care.”

She nodded and said, “In some ways you are so much like your father, and in others you are so completely different.”

“I don’t wanna talk about him.”

“All right.” She dug deeper into her salad.

“What’s this really about, Mira?”

“He’s let his therapist share his notes. Has he told you everything he’s done?”

“I got most of it. It’s just...he’s so unsure about himself, he thinks he needs to be unsure about me. He’s healing, Mira, and I’m stayin’ with him. Forever.”

“Is that wise?”

“What do you mean?”

“Your work is in Copenhagen. You are now a citizen of Denmark.”

“You don’t abandon someone who’s got cancer or AIDS or heart disease, not if you love ‘em. This is the same thing. You still haven’t told me why you’re askin’. Is it Uncle Ari? Have you been talkin’ to him?”

“I’ve been listening. He likes your work. His clients like your work. He wants you to become a partner in his business. It is an excellent idea, but you will have to return to Copenhagen to live. Antony cannot leave until next year, at the earliest.”

Talk about a load of crap. Uncle Ari hadn’t even hinted about anything more than meeting this client and sending more art assignments my way, and he wasn’t the kind of guy not to talk about his plans. He and my dad may have been brothers, but they were cut from different DNA, because he was open and gregarious and never met anyone he couldn’t like...and couldn’t keep a secret to save his life. So there was something else going on and she didn’t have the nerve to be up front with me. Which brought her down a notch in my eyes, because if she can’t tell by now that I can be trusted, she never will. That hurt.

It also pissed me off. “This is bullshit, Mira. What’re you really gettin’ at? And don’t hand me any more crap about Uncle Ari. You know me better’n that.”

She stopped in mid-chew and nodded and swallowed then took a sip of her wine. Burgundy with a salad -- there’s somethin’ wrong about that.

“Your mother has contacted your father.”


“I do not know why. He will not tell me. And when your father becomes this secretive, it worries me. I think, if you stay in America much longer, something will happen. And you are better protected in Denmark.”

“Tone wasn’t.”

“He is an easier target.”

“I dunno about that -- .”

“He cares more about you than he does himself, Iacof.”

Which makes anybody vulnerable. I couldn’t argue with that. “So why do you think this concerns me?”

“Why would you not think so? As your father tells the story, he and your mother hate each other. Why else would she call him, except about you?”

Phone call, huh? Yeah, that meant way too much. I’d learned how to pinch pennies from my mom, so for her to spring for an overseas call to a man she despised almost as much as I did, instead of popping off an e-mail...well, that was a big deal.

“Neither one of ‘em have even tried to get hold of me, and they both know how. Maybe mom’s askin’ dad for money.”

Mira rolled her eyes at that. I shrugged in agreement. So why would she have called him?

Mira had no answers, but I got an idea soon as I got to my place in Copenhagen. Mrs. Lund had put an envelope on our table, from my Uncle Owen in Palms West, California. He’s my mom’s half-brother, from Gramma’s first marriage. It’d been there for a month, judging by the dust, and in it was what looked like a house key and a printout of a note that read – “Dear Jacob, You’ll need this when you come. O.”

“Dear Jacob?” He never called me that. WTF?

I tried to call him, but his phone went to voice mail then disconnected because it was too full to accept more messages. And an e-mail I sent bounced back to me. I contacted the service and found out his in-box was too full of unread messages for it to accept any more.

Then I got a text from Mira saying she’d found out my uncle’d disappeared. She had the idea mom’d called dad to see if he could use his influence to push for an investigation into it.

What Mira didn’t know was, Uncle Owen’s gay, too, and had been cut off from most of the family for twenty years. The only reason I knew him was through Gramma; she figured out early on that it’d be good to have him available for questions once I started asking them. Which I did just after I turned fifteen. Then he and Gramma’d been the only ones who backed me up once I got outed, and once I went to jail, and once I got released. He knew me too damn well to call me “Dear Jacob.”

Which meant he was in trouble.

Which also meant soon as I was done at Uncle Ari’s, I was headed for a talk with my mother. Something I hadn’t done in years.

Shit, I’d rather be back in jail.

Monday, January 7, 2013

More of the first chapter of OT

I think I'll put the whole chapter up, in stages. To clarify, much of what Jake's referring to is from "Rape in Holding Cell 6, 1 & 2". This part follows the section from 1/6/13 --
Anyway, he’d called Mira because as he was leaving his therapist, a couple weeks back, he’d got ambushed by an on-line video reporter who was on the right-wing-nut side. Stanton and Thomas, two of the assholes who almost got Tone killed, had lost another appeal and were finally facing real jail time, and the fag-haters were screaming bloody murder. The questions from that so-called reporter’d been so loaded and his cameraman so hard in Tone’s face, he’d realized they already had the story written and just wanted to show they’d talked to him. So he’d called Mira tossed it all at her. And she’d taken it and assured him all would be well.

Sure enough, when the video was posted, four days ago, he came across like some crazed faggot out to rape innocent boys and turn the state into a non-stop orgy of homosexual lust as he brought down the judicial system in an attempt to make his legal problems go away. That he’d been nearly murdered by those two scumbags, with the collusion of a judge, wasn’t even mentioned. Of course, Fernandez, his lawyer called to let us know he knew what was up.

“It’s theater,” he said. “Something to give the governor cover.”

“What’s the point?” I asked. I was watching Tone replay that fucking video for the twentieth time.

“The other side wants him to pardon Stanton and Thomas. And if they can get enough people to believe both men were innocent little lambs brought down by a vengeful homosexual, they have a better chance of getting their way.”

“What’re we doin’ about it?”

“Already been done,” he said. “Watch tonight’s news.”

So when I hung up, I went over and turned off the computer and dragged Tone away. He pulled at me, snarling “motherfuckers” under his breath, but I got him into the car and we drove to a Rudy’s and pigged out on barbecue and beer till he was too stuffed and drunk to worry about anything. We got home just in time to see the local broadcast, and it was lovely.

The stupid bastards didn’t just piss off GLAAD and the ACLU; the story was going national and giving the state yet another black eye. Because fact-checkers tore the lying piece of shit apart so fast, it might as well have been on toilet paper. Everybody condemned the story and ridiculed that “reporter” so much, even a couple of Republicans said he’d gone too far. That’s when the A-G’d sent out his little whimper of, “Can’t we all just get along?” It was fucking ridiculous.

In response, Tone’s lawyer asked for a monetary settlement, and laughed when they began sputtering.

Anyway, it was when we saw the story run on CNN, this morning, that he realized, “It’s gone global.”

“Their own damn fault,” was my only response.

He didn’t say another word till we’d parked and gone into the terminal.

“Jake...” he muttered, his voice shaking. “It won’t matter, y’know. That story. ‘Cause I...I told Mira everything.”

And that’s when the shaking took hold. But once he saw I wasn’t gonna start yelling or pacing or anything, it didn’t take long for him to get back in control. I was glad he’d told her. There was no way I’d narc on him and he was right, the stories would’ve made it across to France sooner or later. That’s why the last time I’d gone over to Copenhagen, I’d stayed a couple extra days to talk to my half-brothers and sisters and lay it all on the line -- your big bro’s queer and the man he loves is nuttier than a fruitcake.

I’m not sure they understood it all, since their English plays second fiddle to French and Farsi, neither of which I’m fluent in, yet, but it didn’t seem to matter. Maybe it helped that we’d only just met and I wasn’t really of their blood, yet. Yeah, we shared the same father, but I’d been raised thousands of miles away in a legendary state with a glorious history and seriously high opinion of itself...which was now turning itself into a third rate version of a South American I was still a bit exotic to them. Maybe it’s ‘cause none of them was over the age of ten, yet, so didn’t really understand what I was saying. I kind of doubt it, though; Mira was born and raised in Paris and was hardly your typical Persian wife. She may’ve already given them the lowdown and laid out the line that it’s no big deal. I dunno.

I have to admit, I’m glad we met. She’s worth knowing in any capacity. What I still can’t figure is how she and my dad got together, since he’s such an arrogant, selfish, controlling asshole while she could’ve had any guy she wanted – raven black hair, full-figure, close enough to forty to make her sensual instead of just least, in France; in the twelve-year-old mentality of the US, she’d be over the hill. Anyway, after what he’d done to Tone and me, and considering my own mother’d chucked me into the street when she found out I was gay, so far as I’m concerned, I’m an orphan. But Mira wanted her children to know their half-Persian brother and I got the sense she didn’t even give Faraz a say in it. So he and I’d agreed he’d never be around when I came to call...which I did just about every time I traveled over to see my Uncle Ari and discuss whatever we couldn’t discuss over the phone or online.

On this occasion, I’d hopped over because negotiations on Tone’s case got postponed till next week and Uncle Ari had a client who wanted to meet me before he’d agree to sign up with us. This’d be a major catch for my uncle. The Euro zone was still having serious financial trouble that was only being made worse by the idiots who were running things, but at least Denmark’d been smart enough not to give up her own currency for the Euro, so it made his costs look good. It worked out perfect all the way around, and instead of having to put the guy off, Uncle Ari’d been able to tell him, “Come for dinner, tomorrow. Jacob will be happy to meet with you.”

I’d hopped a Business Class seat (meaning I could at least try to sleep) and dinner was set for eight. That way I had just enough time to swing by the apartment, freshen up, and grab my hard-copy portfolio.

I could also let Mrs. Lund, the landlady, know Tone and I’d be back living in Copenhagen, soon. That’s how sure I was this was almost over. Then maybe we could get back to where we used to be. Happy. Healing. Loving each other.

But suddenly here was Mira wondering why I wanted to.

“From the photos I have seen in the papers, he is an attractive young man,” she kept on. “But there are many of his type so I know this is not the reason. I think, perhaps you wish to rescue him. He has need of someone strong to lean upon. But this denotes weakness on your part, and you are not a weak man. Is it only the sex is good? Are you a man like that, Iacof?”

She waited for an answer, nibbling at a salad as I chowed on the best damn quiche I’d ever eaten in an airport. All I could do is shrug.

“What do you want me to say?”

“That it is not merely from pity?”

“I don’t pity Tone, Mira. He’d never let me.”