Friday, December 16, 2011

Satellites: FREE

Just a quick one, I've reduced the ebook version of Satellites to free. Download it, share it, give it away, do whatever you'd like with it. If you like what you've read, let me know or even, buy the print edition.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Don't expect anything new for a little bit guys Between a much needed vacation coming up, and a completely new website, everything is in a holding pattern for now.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

More odds and ends + Mickey Salo

Working on  the finishing touches for Brothers Part 3. Originally, Tuck's section was supposed to be the 4th part, and his brother Tyler was to be part 3, but certain story beats play better with Tuck going first before Tyler.  Expect part 3 tomorrow, and part 4 a few days later. That leaves the finale, which concerns a character we haven't heard from yet: Marie. After that, Brothers will be collected into a kindle/ebook version for all to read.

With Brothers wrapping up, the next multi-part story will be Misguided Ghosts. The format will be much the same as Brothers, releasing each chapter(usually 1000-1500 word instalments) on a regular basis, before collecting it. Misguided Ghosts is much longer than Brothers,l much far reaching. You'll go from Baltimore to Hawaii to London to beyond.

Before I get off here, I figured I'd share with you a comic series summary I sent an artist. Unfortunately, it fell through because we couldn't agree on a price, but it's still something I wouldn't mind doing someday.  Check it out.


Salo 1
"Call Me Mickey"
-Pleasure Plane, Zombie Girls, Dr. Setsam(recurring character), intro the workings of Op-Quo. Throwing a lot out here in the first issue. Establish the rhythmn of this world. Balancing the crazy fucked-up world with the quiet character moments. Delilah is intro'd at the end of the issue.

Salo 2
-Mickey is in France to assasinate an oil baron for Op-Quo. He is ambushed by Juan Rapier, the 10th best(after killing Ernie Hudson) assasinn in the world. He is a gimmick assasin, one who kills with his rapier. So, Mickey shoots him. Dead. While on the phone with his Dad and sponsor, Paul Gass. The hit goes wrong, after a pigeon caues Mickey to drop his sniper rifle, and he has to make a run for it. Unfortunetely, the worse of Mickey comes out, and he fucks a mime. The issues will have various scenes of Mickey at his addict meetings, establishing the fragile nature of Mickey. No Delilah, but we flesh out Paul Gass and Rose, two core characters. They help form Mickey's family structure, a prevalent theme. I also want to establish a clear divison, between Mickey's "work" life and his family life.

Salo 3
-Mickey is assigned to protect baby new year, who has somehow arrived a day earlier on Dec. 31st, as oopsoed to January 1st. The idea behind baby new year is, whoever is in possesion of the baby, takes control of the next year. I.e., great economy, good fortune,etc. So the baby arriving a day early, means everyone and their mother is trying to take possesion of the baby. We're talking the Chinese, the Japanese, Russians, even the Dutch. A very frantic issue, lots of action, lots of craziness. Just picture Mickey, with a baby bjorn on, fighting Ninjas and Russians robots. This is probably the "lightest" issue, as it really doesn't move the theme/overall arc forward too much, but is a good showcase issue of the fun of Mickey Salo. The end of the issue, Mickey at Delilah's diner, where they have a small conversation and she gives him a new year's kiss, is the major plot point of this issue.

Salo 4
-At this point, i think we are really hitting our stride, balancing the crazy and the quiet. This is a turning point isue, for a few reasons, which I'll get to. Mickey has to travel to Florida, where Op-Quo wants him to hunt down and kill a genetically manufactured hyper-intelligent Velociraptor. Op-Quo makes the Velociraptor out to be dangerous, violent, and deadily, but when Salo actually hunts down and corners the raptor, he finds out that he is quite pleasant, and a pacifist. The real reason Op-Quo wanted Salo to kill the raptor, is because he was a failure. They wanted an intelligent killing machine, and instead they got beneviolent creature interested in helping, not hurting. Also, he has a Phd. Doc V, to his friends. Mickey decides to go against Op-Quo, and help Doc V reach snactuary:Cuba. So it becomes a race, with Mickey and Doc V trying to get to Cuba, while Op-Quo and Dr. Setsam send Dragon Monkey Assasin(DMAs) after the pair. Mickey gets Doc V to Cuba, and we end the issue with a narration about the human condition, with the last page a beautiful shot of Doc V observing a butterfly on his clawed hand. Mickey asks Delilah to his brothers wedding.

Salo 5
-Op-Quo is pissed at Mickey and send him on a punishment assignment: To track down and kill the man who recruited and trained Mickey. Mickey's mentor retired years earlier, enjoying his retirement living in a song. But he has gone awol, and op-quo wants him dead. Throughout the issue, we flashback to how Mickey became the man he is today, how he was trained by his mentor(a man who is very much a father figure to mickey, in keeping with the famlial themese). This issue is going to be hard, but could be amazing. To put sound/music in a form without sound, is a tough challenge. Mickey finally tracks down his mentor, who jumped art forms and is now living in a painting. His mentor tells Mickey why he retired, and why op-quo wants him dead: Op-quo is only interested in controling and keeping every normal, everything status quo. After years of experencing the crazy, the magical, that comes with being an agent, his mentor was fed up.
"Don't you realize you're killing everything thats wonderful, that you're just making the world boring?"-Mentor
"I don't care..."-Mickey
Right there, we show the fundamental difference between Mickey and his Mentor. Mickey hates his job, and prefers the quiet moments and normal life. Knowing that they'll never fix the rift between them, the Mentor tells Mickey why he pissed off Op-Quo, and had them send Mickey after him
"I'm getting old, and they're going to send someone after me eventually. Quite frankly, I hate the thought of being killed by someone inferior. That's why it has to be you."
So Mickey kills his mentor, his father figure, and the painting that his mentor had been lviing with, becomes a scene of his murder. The violence became the art. Mickey hangs on to the painting, his last moment with his "dad", and a sense of closure.

Salo 6
"I like the quiet"
-No Op-Quo, and very little crazy in this issue. A character issue. The issue is split between 3 different days in a week of Mickey:Tuesday w/ Paul, Thursday w/ Rose, and Sunday w/ Delilah at his brother's wedding. Basically this is an issue to focus on Mickey with his family(Gass, Rose, Delilah, and even a small bit with Doc V), but there is a key moment where Mickey's worklife persona bleeds into his regular life, and you see just how important his "family" is to him. It happens with Rose, where he learns why she only has sex anally, and it is actually one of the more painful and grisly acts in the entire series, one of the darkest. Lets just say it involves her father and a cigar. Rose confiding in Mickey is a watershed moment for her, as she lets done her "I-don't-give-a-fuck" persona, she takes off the mask. Mickey decides to visit her father later that night, and it is uncomfortable for both the reader and Mickey. Not for any violence, no, but because this is in stark contrast to anything Mickey has done. Yes, he is an assasin and all that, but his job is so fucked up, so far out, that there is a disconnect. This, is just an old man, a 4 star general, sleeping in his bed. A man who apparently, did a lot of good for his country. He's broken down, feeble, and can't get around except in a wheelchair. It's one of those character moments for Mickey. We see him, standing over the bed of this old man gun pointed at him. Mickey's narration:
"And he was just sleeping, his raspy breathing the only sound. And I couldn't do it. I just couldn't. This isn't me, this isn't my job or any of that. I cannot kill an old man, someone who was a hero to so many, I cannot be that person, not here in my life"
He doesn't want to pollute his normal life with his work life, which is key. In Mickey's head, there is a very distinct possiblity. So he leaves.
"I was in his lawn, leaving, when I thought of Rose. I thought of she is, and why she is that way. Thought of all the chances of happiness she could have had, all the chances at a normal life, if not for her I went back into the house."
Mickey murders Rose's father. We don't see it, we don't need to. The fact that he cares so much for his family, that he is willing to break down the barrier between his normal and work life, is key. At the end of the issue, after a entire day together where Delilah and Mickey pretty muchf all in love, Mickey says goodbye to her and....she gets hit by a truck. Mickey rushes over, only to find the truck bent and broken, and Delilah perfectly fine.

Salo 7
-For the finale, we break tradition, and start right after the end of last issue. Mickey doesn't know what is going on, but knows he only has moments. A girl destroying a truck will grab the attention of Op-Quo. And Op-Quo comes, en masse. At first, they don't realize they're going against Mickey, and just send regular troops/agents. But after Mickey blows up their helicoptor, well, they bring out the big guns. Everything we've been building toward, comes to a head in this issue. Mickey Salo vs. Op-Quo. Mickey Salo vs. Dr Setsam. Everything and the kitchen sink is thrown in this issue. Among other things, the return of Doc V, Mickey attacked by Juan Rapier's brother, Don Rapier. The origin behind Delilah(a robot who can control her density. Basically, she is meant to go onto a plane with the target, alter her density, and cause the plane to crash. No one would knows its an assasination. But Delilah was programmed too good, had a conscience, and ran away. Not wanting to hurt people) Eventually, Mickey fails to protect Delilah, and is kidnapped back by Dr. Setsam. Mickey attacks Dr. Setsam's lab("The Toybox"). Again, more crazy violence and action. Finally, Mickey finds Setsam and Delilah. Delilah is on a table, motionless. Mickey points his gun at Setsam
"Fix her! FIX HER!"
"It's too late! She's gone"
Dr. Setsam has wiped away everything, back to default. Mickey shoots Setsam, and we fade out. The next few pages is essentially a wrap up page, as we get various scenes of the characters from the comic, as the narration is purely voicemails from members of Mickey's family, checking up on him. We end with Mickey, at the diner, staring at a cup of coffee blankly.
"Excuse me." a voice from off-screen snaps Mickey out of his funk, we look up, and see Delilah.
"Do you know how to get to route 2?"
"Yeah, yeah, go down the road and take a left."
"Thank you", she says as she begins to leave, and then turns, "Do I know you? You look familiar?"
"I'm nobody."
"Oh, I'm sure you're a somebody" Delilah says with a smile, and leaves. The narration box, from Doc V, gives a hint to what happened"She'll be happy, Mickey. You did the right thing"
We end the issue, and the series, with Mickey checking his watch, then looking over to Duff(his imaginary teddy bear sidekick. I didn't go into him much in the summary but he is a side effect from the LSD eyedrops and all the drugs)
"Alright Duff, let's go kill some psycho Clowns."
Mickey has gone solo, no longer a part of Op-Quo. But he is still Mickey Salo, and his life is still fucking insane.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Various Thoughts

-"This Feral Nation" keeps chugging along, it's a blast to write. It's looking like it'll be my first full length novel instead of a novella. Building up this world has been a new experience for me, and the relationship between Boomer and Pup feels so natural now.

-In a few days, the next instalment of Brothers will be out. I'm switching up the format a bit, as the first two(Matthew and Alex) have been consecutive. This next instalment is all about Tuck, and we pull back all the way to his last day. There's a little bit of a homage to The Sound and The Fury in this one.

-I generally know the last lines/last page of everything I write when I begin, and go from there. At the end of it all, Brothers is about the family you choose, and I think that's reflected in the last line.

-I believe death makes you reflect on your own life, and with Matthew and Alex it made them examine what was missing. The difference is how they went about it and what they ultimately came to. Both of them have a hole in their world, and Tuck's death put a magnifying onto it.

-After Brothers and before Feral Nation, I'll probably release Misguided Ghosts. It's novel-length, like Feral Nation, but I'm going to release it free on here and for ereaders/Kindle.

-I've gotten into a good groove were, if I get writer's block/exhausted on one thing, I can switch to another and recharge my batteries.That's how Brothers came about, I needed a break from the long form storytelling of Feral Nation and Misguided Ghosts.

-I've switched completely to Ubuntu, and it works like heaven. I've always used openoffice and I don't play games, so getting rid of Windows was an easy decision to make.

-X-Men:First Class was the best X-Men movie, and one of the better comic book films ever. Not quite The Dark Knight, but a close 2nd.

Remember, Satellites is right there, ready to be bought by you -->


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Brothers Part 2: Alex

The second part of Brothers. You can read the first part Here. Let me know what you think, and as always, buy the book.


Brothers Part 2:

It feels like razors, and Alex curses at himself for not doing this beforehand, at the bar. Of course, the remembers he had gone at the bar, twice, but his bladder just couldn't hold that much liquid. Plus, it isn't like he had stopped drinking when the bar closed down, or when he had said good-bye to Matthew. It was only two in the morning, and to go home now, to go to sleep now, would just bring tomorrow faster. And, well, fuck that.
He hears the horns of the train first, then notices the bright light coming his way, urging him to finish pissing and get off the tracks. It had always been a game of chicken, to piss on the tracks while a train came. One of those things that starts as a kid and you never let go.
Alex steps away from the tracks, moments before the train goes by. He walks over to his pick up truck, and grabs the bottle of Jamison he has in the bed of the truck. Alex twists off the cap, and gives himself three good swallows of the whiskey, before setting it down. He leans on his truck, and looks off into the city.
“Never changes, does it, Tuck?” Alex says to himself. He smiles wistfully, thinking of the nights spent here at the tracks. This is where Alex and Tuck would sneak off to at night, stealing some booze from Tuck's older brother, hanging out and drinking. They' watch the trains go by, and stare at the Domino sugar sign. They'd talk about movies, music, life, but most importantly, girls.
“I just want an artist girlfriend, y'know, the kind of girl who will show me some sketches she did. No one else will get to see it, but me.” Alex says then as he does now. He turns his head to the left, and Tuck is giving him goofy grin.
“Sketches of what?”
“Doesn't matter. Anything. It'd be like having a girlfriend who is a singer, and she sings you a song she's been working on. Just something special, just for me.”
Tuck shakes his head, taking a drink of the Natty Light in his hand. In the now, Alex takes another swig of the whiskey, as he listens to Tuck speak back then.
“I just want a sweet girl. Soft hair, soft eyes...”
“Soft lips, eh?” Alex says, cutting him off. Tuck's face goes red for a split second, just long enough for Alex to see it. “You still haven't, huh? What happened last week, The Eastman girl was all over you, and she'll do anything/”
“I Don't know. We made out a bit didn't feel right.” Tuck says, sheepishly. Alex smiles at him.
“You want the perfect girl, but there isn't such a thing, trust me. Look at everything I went through with Delilah.” Alex had said then, bitterly. Now, though, he can barely remember the girl. He isn't quite sure her name was even Delilah.
“Look who's talking, you want to be some girl's muse!” Tuck threw up his arms in mock exacerbation, as he walked towards the track for his own game of chicken.
“Don't get hit, Tyler would kill me.”
Alex finishes off the Jamison, and throws it as hard as he can. Somewhere in the distance, he hears the glass shatter. It's a comforting sound.
Tuck stands on the tracks, unzips, and starts to take a piss while a train comes in the distance. He looks back at Alex, who is finishing off the cheap beer, and smiles wide.
“Look ma!” Tuck yells at Alex, raising his arms, “No hands!”
“You're the best.” Alex says to Tuck, then and now. Only this time, he can't bring himself to laugh. Alex closes his eyes, counting to ten, trying to hold back the tears. Keep them below, keep them on the inside. He looks at one more train go by before he hops into his truck and leaves, going anywhere but home.

Alex is sure this is the right house, but there is only one way to find out. What is the worse that could happen, right? So he rings the doorbell at the brick townhouse, twice. He hears movement inside, so he readies himself, trying to look decent. As the door opens, Alex is sure he is at the wrong house.
“Alex...what the hell?”
He is at the right house, Audrey's house. She stands in the doorway, wearing a housecoat and an unhappy stare. Her brunette hair is shorter than he remembers.
“Oh, hey, I was in the neighborhood.”
“It's three in the morning, Alex.” She says calmly. He expected anger, or perhaps frustration. But the calm actually makes him more nervous.
“I like your hair.”
“You smell.”
“Booze and train tracks. Can I come in? It's freezing out here.” He says, already making himself in side. She doesn't protest, this isn't the first time Alex has come to her door in the middle of the night.
Audrey's house is perfectly neat, nothing out of place. Alex instinctively takes off his shoes as he walks in. He may be drunk, but he isn't stupid, and would rather not get a tongue lashing from OCD Audrey.
He walks over to her couch, and sits down as Audrey walks to the kitchen. Alex looks around, noticing the little changes from what he remembers. Most of the missing stuff is the things Alex had gotten her, unsurprisingly.
Audrey walks back into the living room, and hands Alex a glass of water, before sitting down next to him. She gives him a concerned look.
“You're drunker than usual.” She says, flatly. This hadn't been the first time since they'd broken up Alex had showed up here. They didn't always have sex, but they'd sleep together. They were each other's safe place.
“Bad night.”
“Are you going to be okay for tomorrow?” Audrey asks. Alex hadn't realized but it makes since that Audrey would be at the funeral.
“I'll manage.” Audrey reaches over and holds Alex's hand. He looks at her, teary-eyed. “You know the worse part? Seeing him tomorrow will be the first time I've seen him in almost a year. My best friend, since I was a kid, and I don't see him for a year. Until his funeral. What the fuck kind of person am I?”
Alex looks at Audrey, pleadingly, but she has no answers for him. All she can manage to do is hold his hand.
“Her name was Marie, she had...the most amazing green eyes and...the softest smile. Tuck loved her, so much.”
Alex notices the look Audrey is giving him, and shakes his head, muttering how it wasn't like that. He closes his eyes, fighting off the tears, and when he opens them again, Audrey is gone. The house is gone. Alex is in the car with Tuck, on their way to the movies.
“They had been dating for almost a year, so happy. We hadn't had a night out together in the longest time. We decided we'd have a guy night, grab some steaks then go watch some movie. I don't even remember what the movie is now, but we were so excited to see it.”
Alex is driving, Tuck is in the passenger side. They'd just left the steakhouse, on their way to the movie theaters. They'd both devoured a steak and split a bottle of wine, and couldn't be happier. They were talking about the movie, some comic book movie. Some hero gets powers, the world is threatened, and he has to make a choice: Save the world or lose the girl.
“It'd been a great night, you know? Things were going great for me at work, Tuck was so happy with Marie. We were talking about surprising Matthew, randomly going up to New York to see him. And then Tuck's phone rang.”
Tuck picks up the phone, and the look on his face, it was clearly Marie. Alex watches him from the driver side, and starts egging Tuck on with kissy faces and mock adulation. Alex, of the two, had drank more than his fair share of the wine, and was feeling particularly mischievous. Alex reaches over and snatches the phone from Tuck.
“She also spoke softly, to the point you almost had to strain to hear her. She wasn't mad at me, she giggled when I told her that I had kidnapped Tuck. I told her we were running off to Vegas to elope, there was nothing she could do about it. She played along, told me to just take pictures of the honeymoon, for her sake. Then she asked me to just make sure Tuck came home safe. I told her I would, and she hung up. I looked at Tuck and I told him that she had given him to me for the night. No girlfriends, no work. That was the deal I made with him. I turned off his phone, turned off my phone, and threw them both into my jacket.”
Tuck is laughing now, howling at Alex's theatrics.
“We pulled into the movie theater's parking lot, and I looked at Tuck, and I tell him that tonight we are just going to have a blast. And not to worry about Marie, since absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
Alex and Tuck get out of the truck, leaving their cell phones behind. As they walk towards the theater, Tuck pats Alex on the back. He was happy, Alex had never seen him happier.
“She was out jogging, and a car ran a red light...” Alex's voice cracks as he chokes on his tears. Audrey gasps, stunned.
“They took her to the hospital, did what they could, but...She was still alive, for a little while. That's the thing. Everyone called us, but our phones were off. That fucking was so long, by time it ended....he hated me. He did. Tuck could've said good-bye to her but by time we got back to the truck....”
Alex can't fight it off now, and breaks down crying. Audrey holds him, trying to do what she can for him. For twenty minutes, neither of them talk. Alex cries while Audrey holds him. They'd never felt closer. Finally, Alex runs out of tears.
“I should go.” He says, weakly.
“No.” Audrey shakes her head. “You should stay here tonight, Alex.”
“No, no. I just want to be alone.” Alex rises from the couch, walks towards the door. Audrey rises and goes to him, grabbing him by the shoulders.
“Alex, don't go. “
“Were we good? Alex asks.
“Us. Were we good?”
“Yeah. Yes, Alex, we were great.” Audrey says, still confused. Alex smiles, then gives her a kiss on the cheek. Before she knows it, he is out the door.
“Good bye.”

Nothing good happens after 2 am.
That one thought races through Alex's head as he hears the glass shatter and the truck compress. The air bag goes off, and Alex's world goes black.

The police report would say that Alex's black pickup had ran into a light pole. The truck itself was totaled, but Alex was lucky. When the police cruiser pulled up, he was outside his truck, smoking a cigarette. His left eye was swelled shut and he was bleeding from the head, but all things considered, he was safe. The police officer smelled the alcohol on Alex within five feet of him, and didn't even bother with the sobriety tests. No reason to, the officer had thought.
He helped Alex get into the back of the cruiser. Alex, to his credit, was very compliant. On the ride to station, Alex kept mentioning a Marie. The officer surmised that Alex was dealing badly with a break-up, and had gotten drunk in the process. No one was injured the officer was glad to write in the report.
They processed Alex, patched up the cut on his head, and sat him down on the bench. Next to him, an old man in his sixties rambled about UFOs and liberals. Alex was beginning to sober up, beginning to grasp everything that had happened. He looked disconnected, deflated, and lifeless. The officer walked over, knelt down to eye level, and asked if Alex had anyone he could call. Alex look at him glassy-eyed, thinking over the question.
“Yeah”, Alex says with a slight smile, “Yeah, I've got somebody.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Brothers Part 1: Matthew

Hey guys. This is the first of a five part story called Brothers. Let me know what you think, and remember, "Satellites" is on sale 50% off this week, so now is the time to buy.


Brothers Part 1:

       As the plane descends, the ice in the scotch glass shakes and rattles. The stewardess with the nice ass walks by, and brushes Matthew on the shoulder. He can't tell if she was trying to be comforting or flirtatious. Not that it matters, as Matthew isn't in the mood.
Six years ago, Matthew went to New York with the simple goal of making a million dollars and never coming home again. And he took a train, as flying terrifies him. So today Matthew is in a foul mood.
Matthew grips the seat as the plane shakes and lowers. He closes his eyes, and tries to even out his breathing, keep his heart from bursting out of his chest.
“You don't have to do this, you know.” Tyler says to him, as the four of them stand in line. Sweat is dripping from beneath his baseball cap, as the July sun bears down on them. Matthew does a quick glance at the other two and gives Tyler a pensive look.
“I can't do that, if they know I'm afraid, they won't do it. Especially Alex. No, I can do this.” Matthew says, trying to convince himself of his own decision. Tyler gives him a smirk, and shakes his head. At this very moment, Matthew hates his best friend. Why can;t Tyler be afraid of anything, ever?
Behind them in line, Alex and Tuck gasp in excitement. The roller coaster, the Leviathan, is 420 feet long and has a highest point of 382 feet. The two 12-year old boys keep saying this last fact over and over, much to the chagrin of Matthew.
Ever since he was little, Matthew hated heights of any kind. His heart races if he even climbs up a 10 foot ladder. 382 feet is a damn near heart attack.
Still, Matthew has to do it. He is the oldest, and he knows Alex looks up to him. So if Matthew backs out, there is no doubt Alex will too. And Matthew doesn't want that on him.
Tyler, on the other hand, might be a year younger than Matthew but has no fear in him whatsoever. Maybe that's why Tyler is the only of the boys who isn't a virgin, letting the other three imagine what life like that must be like.
The lines moves, and suddenly, the four boys are the next group up. Matthew feels his chest tighten, but fight it, and looks at Alex.
“You ready for this? I don't want you pussying out.” Matthew teases. Alex gives him a open mouthed gasp, his brown eyes wide behind his glasses.
“Are you kidding me?” Alex says, exasperated, “I'm so stoked for this!”
“Alex, do me a favor and take off your glasses, your mom would whoop my ass if you lost those.” Tyler tells Alex.
“What do you think it'll feel like?” Tuck chirps in.
“Well”, Tyler kneels down to his little brother, “It feels like you're flying. You'll be just like superman.“
Tuck smiles wide, and Tyler gives Matthew a wink.
“We're up, buddy.”
The four boys take their spots on the roller coaster. Tyler and Tuck in the front, Matthew and Alex in the back. Matthew tries to even his breathing, as the attendants strap them in.
'Here we go” Matthew hears Tyler say, as the roller coaster slowly comes to life, and begins to creep up the first hill.
“The first one isn't the biggest, it's only 260 feet up.” Alex says, casually.
“Only 260 feet, huh?” Matthew squeezes out with a fake smile.
Matthew looks over the side of the roller coaster, and regrets it. The ground slowly gets further and further away from him, as the top of the first hill gets closer and closer.
“Here we go!” Someone says. Matthew's heart pounds in his chest, as they reach the crest. Alex looks at him, worried, and tries to tell Matthew something as the roller coaster plummets 260 feet.
“Are you okay?”
Matthew opens his eyes. The plane has landed, and nearly everyone has left. He is the last one in first class, his hands still clinching the seat.
“Yeah, I'm fine. Not big on flying, you know?”
The stewardess gives him a sweet, reassuring look. The gives her a nod to let her know he is fine, and she moves on. Matthew raises from the seat, stretching out, and retrieves his overnight bag from the overhead compartment. Matthew walks past the cockpit on his way out, and hears someone say “Thank you for flying with us.”
Thank you for not crashing the plane and killing me, Matthew thinks, as he heads into the airport.
To go into Baltimore again, after all this time, feels as if being swallowed by a beast. Once you are in the gullet, there is no getting out. All Matthew ever wanted was to be as far away from Baltimore, to never come back.
The cab leaves the airport, with sun beginning to darken. It would be a blistering cold night, a stern reminder that spring is still a ways off The Nigerian cabbie speaks to some unknown entity via blue tooth headset, occasionally barking out a comment or two towards Matthew. Matthew generally ignores cabbies. They're a means to an end, a way to get from point A to point B. You don't confess to a cabbie.
Matthew closes his eyes and remember the day he was leaving Baltimore. He hadn't needed a cab that day. They took Tyler's sedan, with Tuck and Alex coming along. Matthew had been accepted to Columbia, the end product of hard work and sheer will. He had hugged his father good-bye at the house, both trying to remain stoic. Matthew's father was a cop, a prick, and a hell of a good dad. Matthew never had a chance to lip up, and because of that, he was leaving Baltimore for New York.
His three friends drove him to the airport, all of them talking about anything except for the fact that Matthew was leaving. They talked about baseball, they talked about girls, they talked about how awesome Limp Bizkit was, but not a word about college. Not until Tuck brought it up.
“Matt, do you think you'll ever want to come back?” He asked from the back seat. Tuck's older brother shot Tuck a look in the rear view mirror.
“Honestly? Maybe. You know, once I get a million dollars and I can buy you guys whatever cars you want!” Matthew had said, beaming. In his mind, it wasn't a joke, but a promise. He was going to make a million dollars.
“I'm going to get one of those huge hummers and...”
“Don't you mean you're going to give some hummers?” Alex said, cutting off Tyler. Tyler flicked him off while Tuck and Matthew laughed.
“Hey, hey, shut up. Listen, once Matt can do it, he's going to get me a hummer. One of those huge, bad ass motherfuckers. The kind with the bulletproof gas caps, right? And then I'll drive Matthew around, be his bodyguard and all that.”
“Jesus, I should just go ahead and kill myself if you're going to be driving me around. Much less painful that way.”
“I'm not done, I'm not done!”, Tyler exclaimed, “I'll be driving Matt around, and we'll all have a kick ass place on the water. And we'll just, we'll just have fun, drink, and do whatever we want. You know why?”
“Because Matt's going to make a million dollars.” Tuck shouted out.
“Bingo! Matt the Millionaire, just like he always wanted. We'll reap the benefits, but what is the point of being rich without your best friends, right, Matty?”
Matthew opens his eyes when he feels the cab stop, and pulls out a wad of cash, handing it to the Nigerian cabbie, still barking on his headset.
Matthew had some time to kill, knowing he'd be the first one to arrive, so it was time for a confessional. He walked through the door, and sat himself down at the bar. The bartender, an athletic looking girl with bright blue eyes, came over.
“What can I get you?” she asks.
“Shot of whiskey, and a beer.”
“Any preference?”
“The whiskey best be Irish and the beer best be cold.”
“Cute. It'll be right up.”
In truth, Matthew hadn't done a shot of anything in years, but it seemed like tonight it'd be apt. The last time he had ripped shots, it was for Alex's 21st birthday. Matthew promised to pay for, and match, every shot Alex did. They were in Ocean City at the time, a week long getaway for themselves. By the end of that night, Matthew and Alex were doing a duet in the bathroom, vomiting Grey Goose in sync. The next morning, the four of them went to the beach and sweated off the hangover. The only one who didn't have a hangover was Tuck. The little guy was never affected by booze, and spent the whole day laughing and teasing the other three. They ended that day the same way they started the night before, a shot of whiskey and beer at sunset.
The bartender sets the shot and beer on the table, and Matthew hands her his credit card, starting a tap. He mutters to himself, then downs the shot, chasing it with the beer. Out of his peripheral vision, he notices the bartender giving him a smirk.
“It's been a while since I've done a shot.”
“Like riding a bicycle?
“More or less. Do me a favor, when I finish this beer, just give me the exact same thing. A shot of whiskey and whatever beer that was.”
“Loose Cannon, it's local. You from out of town?”
“Yes and no. I haven't been here in a while.”
“Any reason why?”
“Funeral.” Matthews states, dryly.
“Oh. I'm sorry.”
Matthew lets the silence happen, and the bartender goes about doing busy work, until Matthew finishes his beer. She sets a shot of whiskey and a pint of Loose Cannon in front of him.
“You were close, huh?”
“Family. The kind you choose, at least. Worse part is, I haven't seen him in so long, I almost forget what he looks like. I keep trying to remember, but its vague, you know? I remember the impression of him. That's it.”
“Time will do that.”
“Yeah. Well, I wish it wouldn't.” Matthew says, angrily.
“When was the last time you saw him?” The bartender asks, bending over, resting her chin on her palms. She knew what she was doing. Bartenders are for confessing.
“A few years back, he came up, New York, I mean. That's where I live. I heard he was in town, so I called him, told him to come visit me at the office, I'd give him a tour and we'd catch up.”
“What is it you do?”
“Like, you write them?” she asks.
“Not at all, but I sell them. I work for a publisher.”
“Ah, anything I know?”
“You know those shitty glittering vampire stories?” Matthews ask, sarcastically pointing at himself.
“I know. So I tell him, hey, come her, we'll have a good time. So he comes into my office, him and his girl. This sweet looking blonde, with these dazzling green eyes. The best. So I go, I say hello, and I give him a big hug. I can tell somethings wrong, so I ask him what's up.”
Matthews pauses his story, as the bartender goes to help another customer. He takes this time to look at his watch, and finish his beer. The bartender comes back with another round, just as she'd promised to do. After the shot, Matthew continues.
“So he looks at me, and he tells me that they saw all the sights. Central Park, Statue of Liberty, even went to the Juicy Couture store for his girl. But then they went to g=Ground zero. He's always been a heartfelt kid, but the effect this had on him...I mean, you've got to realize, this wasn't too long after. It was still pretty bad. So Tuck looks at me, with those sad eyes of his, and tells me that it was like seeing a hole in the world. “
“Wow.” She says, softly.
“Yeah. You want to know the worst part? I've never been. I live in New York City, and I haven't been to Ground Zero. Proud New Yorker, right?” Matthew tells her with a scoff.
“You going to be okay?” The bartender asks, already preparing the next round.
“Yeah, yeah, I'll be fine. Listen, do you smoke? I haven't smoked in years but it feels like the perfect night, know what I mean?”
“Yeah, no problem. Listen, I'm actually do for a break if you want some company out there?” She gives him a sweet smile, and pulls out a pack of Camels, handing one and her lighter to Matthew.
“I wouldn't mind some alone time, maybe on the next trip?”
The bartender nods okay, and Matthew rises from the booth, and steps outside. A strong gust of wind chills him, and he buttons up his pea coat for warmth. Night has settled in, and the only people on the street are those wishing they weren't.
Matthews takes a drag of the camel, holding it in his chest for as long as possible, before exhaling. An old black man walks up to him smile on his face.
“How're ya' doing? Spare a cigarette?”
“Sorry, I had to bum this off the sweet bartender. I'm sure she'd give you one if you'd like.”
“Ah, I try and steer clear of bars. Made me the man I am today.” The old man cackles at this.
“Well, you look like a survivor, that must count for something.”
“Sometimes you can't do anything else. How long have you been in Baltimore?”
“I was born here, actually.”
“Really? You don't look it.”
“Well” , Matthew takes a drag of the cigarette, “That's kind of intentional.”
“That's a shame. You only get one home, son.” The old man says, disapprovingly.
“What about you?” Matthews asks.
“What about me? Hell, boy, I was born here, raised here, never left here. My father was never around, I raised my brothers and sisters. And I'll tell you, we were strong because of it. Yes sir.”
“You raised them all? How many?”
“Four brothers and five sisters. I was the oldest, so I changed their diapers, fed them, bathed them, all that.”
“Good for you.”
“Like you said, I'm a survivor, and I helped my family survive.”
“You sure did.”
“You going to finish that cigarette?” The old man asks Matthew. Matthew takes the half-smoked cigarette out of his mouth, examines it, then gives it to the old man.
“There you go, and here...” Matthew reaches into his pocket, snatches out one of his business cards, handing it to the old man. The old man examines the card. “You've got a good story, maybe I can sell it.”
“Bless you, son.” The old man says, a wide smile on his face. Matthew gives him a polite smile, and heads back into the bar. The old man's story wasn't unique or special, and he would never call Matthew. Matthew knew this, but maybe the hope will keep him warm on such a cold night. Matthew forgot about the old man in the cold as soon as he sat down at the bar, a shot and a beer waiting for him. Outside, Baltimore shudders as the cold wind cuts through it.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Satellites" Super Discount

Just a quick heads up: I'm trying to hit a personal milestone in the next week, so I've marked "Satellites"  50% off at, which is essentially at cost. If you've ever even thought about giving it a try, this is the week to do it.

Satellites on