So Why Are You Here?

The spattering of cells, those rival spagellas whipping and lashing.

Moving faster than the speed of mammal machination, reaching an orb that is undefined and dormant.

Plunder and pillage. An unwelcomed guest making itself at home. 

Oh, grow up, will you? Listen to your spawners. Clothe thyself. Become the endless cycle.

Or are you worried about the meaning of it all?

Gestate. Engorge. Enlarge. Decide. Whither. Decompose.

Simple is the common among us, but we lavish complexity. Throw the feces at the window. It’s too clear. Too clean.

Oh, habitat. Save me from my discomfort. Look at the outlier that is me. Babble. Laugh. Cry. Kill. Make speeches. And scroll through the uninteresting.

Pace and calm. 

And death to us all.

Live.

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I’m So Clazee

Crazy.

Define it.

Okay. Simple.

It means: CRAZY

But try to define across ethnicity.

Every seen an aborigine from Australia go nuts?

How about a Scotsman giving you a Scottish Kiss just because he doesn’t like the way you look?

Japanese don’t like getting backed in a corner (well, at least in the Human Centipede movie, they don’t).

There’s an ongoing joke about crazy Korean mothers in the US.

And, sadly/admirably, much of it is true. At least in my corner of childhood.

They are stern. Tough. Push. Go nuts when you screw up. And won’t stand for any form of disrespect or failure.

Of course, that type of crazy parenting can also define a Southern Momma from the Bible belt. (Love you, Darren Knight)

One thing I learned most about my heritage, though, is that Koreans (American or Fresh-off-the-Boaters) are passionate folks. I’m talking ‘Soap Opera’ Korean style. Crying. Slapping the ground and writhing in agony with loathing and suffering. And the next day? All better. That’s just crazy.

I’m friends with a close-knit Italian family. The love in the family is SO intense. And so are the family arguments. To the point of boiling hatred, followed by kiss-on-the-cheek making up. And then next day? All better. That’s just crazy.

Within a single piece of land, the definition of crazy becomes a litmus test that ranges from blue to red crazy.

And with that comes the cultural defining of rationale. Because the difference between your form of crazy is much different from Kim Jong-un.

He can hang with Dennis Rodman one minute and then execute ranking military officials the next minute like Darth Vader. Nuclear bombs and nepotistic egomania aside, he houses the Korean-crazy inside. It’s not the cool killing instincts of Clint Eastwood’s ‘man-with-no-name.’ Not Hannibal’s cannibal appetite. Not Black Jack Randall crazy. But it is there. Inherent and brooding.

And stirring it. Provoking it in the honor of patriotism is a serious deal. Because he may just go nuts. Because he so ‘rone-ree’ just like his father.

Maybe a couple of good ole boys can take him out and end the tyranny. Or maybe crazy takes over and brings on the real goods of nuclear warfare. The key should be to understand what your enemies’ craziness is. No matter how much bigger your muscles are. Because when you flex, the crazy might take out the innocent. The sane.

Understand crazy.

Not yours.

But theirs.

 

Love to you all.

JLT

 

 

 

Successor

Bars was good at holding it in. He could really blow when he wanted, a blast of rancid wind called at will.

Of course, his audience egged and encouraged. So much glory in heralding the disgusting traits of walking upright, being foul under the sun.

Bars had no family, save the little girl that followed him wherever, whenever. He didn’t quite know her name, though she frequented most of his resting spots where he’d proclaim his talents.

“Here,” he said among a crowd of six. “Who’s brave enough to come closer?”

Heads bobbled and craned, onlookers uncertain of what their place was here on the corner of Broadway and Commerce.

“I only need one,” Bars said. He twirled a finger up into the air and then rolled it downward, a motion congruous with his awkward bow toward the onlookers.

“What do you?” a patron asked. This one was a small boy, his neck goosed up over the shoulders of the other five, his young eyes straining to leer at Bars. Or was it the girl the young boy was asking of?

“I merely tempt the brave to come forward and witness the miracle of my talents, young man” Bars said, peeling his lips back to show smiling, white teeth.

“Here now,” the boy said. “What’s she to do with ya?”

Bars frowned. “This one?”

He put a hand on the small girl’s shoulder, herding her in front of him. “What’s she to do with me, you ask?”

“You’re as dumb as you are ugly,” said the boy. “But you know what I mean, plain as I said. What’s she to you?”

Bars looked down at the girl — the girl leaning back her head to meet the puzzled gaze above. She had been there at nearly all of his gatherings over the past few months. Watching. Listening.

“I’m his fire,” the young girl said.

“You’re his what?” the boy said, stepping in closer to the man and girl.

Bars cleared his throat. “Now look, boy. I am a street performer. A man who revels in the arts of flatulence. Surely one as you can understand the beauty and humor of such arts?”

The small crowd murmured with approbation, though Bars was used to hearing more noises of anticipated approval before his climactic surge.

“I think you false,” the boy said. He pointed at the girl next to Bars, the boy’s fingers jabbing at the girl’s hair blown wild from the gusts around her. “She be the real farter.”

Laughter erupted from the onlookers. Bars grunted. “Now see here, boy. It is you who speak false.”

“Is it?” the boy dared. “Have you two show your goods, then.”

More murmurs of unrest. Bars sighed. This was not going as he wished. He would need more steam from within to woo these people, to be sure.

“As you will, boy,” he said. “A contest, then.”

“You mock me, sir,” said the boy. “She’ll not do while you stand upright.”

Bars goggled at this, his eyes then scrunching with perplexity. “Do you ask me to lie while practicing the arts?”

“You mean the farts,” the boy corrected. More laughter.

Bars looked down at the girl, her eyes knowing.

Without warning, the young girl bent forward and blew her trumpet sound across the stagnant air.

Four of the onlookers collapsed instantly to the ground, including the boy, all of them covering their faces to shield away the sound and smell.

The Maker!  Bars thought. Such power in this child!

Silence.

Bars walked slowly toward the panting girl, her eyes now looking at him with hopefulness. He then turned to see the boy’s eyes reel in their inflamed sockets, a spiral of brown and white swirling within reddened eyelids, eventually resting to wide ‘O’s of surprise.

“She is done,” Bars said dryly, hoping to temper his amazement. “Now.”

He raised his hand and bent in slight bow. “’Tis my turn.”

Bars strained, his abdomen crunching underneath his bellyfat. He would let loose years of untapped gas that came from the very source of his soul.

“No, sir!” the girl screamed, understanding on her face. “You dasn’t.”

“Oh, but I das,” Bars said, sweat pouring hot from his temples. The ripping had finally come.

The air grew thick, reeking of sweet rotting meat. Only… only, Bars could not stop.

He grabbed at the girl. “Help me, child. Help me!”

“To…” the girl hesitated, covering her nose with doll hands. “To you, sir. I cannot. Please stop!”

“I cannot, girl” Bars cried. He fell to the ground, convulsing as if in apoplexy before shuddering to stillness. “I have done my last, good girl.”

He rolled on the ground, writhing as songs continued to dance from his bottom. Songs of tomorrow, sulfuric and noisome.

When he was done, he breathed in what was set loose in the air, closing his eyes.

“Do you know the price for what I do?” he asked the girl looming over his body.

“Aye sir, that I do.”

Bars held his dying breath to say his final words to his successor.

“Then let go, child.

Let go.”

 

THE END

 

Love. Always. Wins.

All newborn babies are cute little things, right?

No?

Not all newborn babies?

Oh, I see.

Yeah, that wrinkly alien-thing with the one eye open.

Ooh. And that one with what looks like pubic hair on its head.

And that. Clean yourself up, you icky thing.

Okay, so not all newborn babies are the cutest thing known to humankind.

Oh, but look at them.

Aw.

All together in the nursery. Quiet and content. Even that colicky one over there in the corner.

They are precious, aren’t they?
When I was a wee lad living in the poorer parts of middle Tennessee, I was scooped up every Wednesday night by a battered van filled sporadically with churchgoing kids.

What I remember most on those Wednesday night children services was that I was the ‘yellow’ kid.

As the song went: Red, yellow, black, and white. They are precious in our sight.

The preacher would line us ethnically diverse kids up in front of the congregation. My sole job was to stand still between the Native American (The ‘Injun’ as she was so pleasantly called) and my buddy, who just happened to be blackish.

When those lyrics hit the air, the preacher would touch our heads in succession: Red; Yellow; Black; White.

It was a dirty job, but I did it well. With no perspective.

Okay, the mid-70s were a shocking mixture of mundane-meets-offensive. Don’t believe me? Just watch an early episode of ‘All in the Family’ and see how many times you can count the word ‘nigger’.

But years later, here I am trying to put in all into perspective and all I can think about are the babies in that nursery room.

All those babies in that nursery room, cooing, crying, or pooping. They actually have no real agenda. No real political motives.

It’s so trite of a thing to write about. The innocence of children.

But look at that crowd of hatemongers. Those grown-ups. Imagine them in that nursery. Not yet walking. Not yet talking. That’s them. Those grown-ups full of self-validated hatred. They were once in that nursery. Holding their own feet. Their diapers full of shit and piss. Their mouths aching for the nipple, plastic or real. Their eyes open to what the world offers.

We gathered as babies. Surpassing the insurmountable odds of not being born. Only to grow up adding hatred to the world.

Adding sorrow to our nursery.

It’s a contribution that takes away contribution.

If it’s your right to prolong a hatred for another newborn that just happens to share the nursery room with you, know that you were once like that other newborn. Struggling to become alive. Seeking love first. Seeking comfort and safety.

Seeking each other.

 

Love. Always. Win.

 

JLT

Write. Move. Write.

Wow.

Life. Yeah.

You know, man.

It, like, totally changes.

From time to time.

Like all the time. (giggle)

And cut…

I suck at acting.

But I’m great at pretending. Like, yeah. I’m pretending to write at this moment.

It’s true. Life changes. Totally. All. The. Time.

Old house sold.

New house bought.

Moving. Packing. Drinking. Packing. Drinking. Unpacking. Drinking. Drinking. Drinking. Drin…

And what do you know. It’s been like forever since I’ve put word to blank white. I am miserable and sorry for it. But what can I say. Life, man. Like all the time.

My daughter, a soon-to-be-tales-of-a-fourth-grader, has put more to paper than I have in the past six months. At least I can use the George R.R. Martin excuse. These stories will be finished when they are finished. You can’t rush writing.

Big fat ‘but’

When going through prolonged periods without writing, I get cramps. Okay. No. But I get feelings of guilt, dissatisfaction, irritability, and anxiety. I guess I know what I’ll feel like on my deathbed + pain of dying.

And you know what? That means I’m going to be okay. Because I’ll write again. One. Day. In the meantime, I get to read all of your lovelies. Your blogs. Your stories. Your labors of love. You. Yes, You. And from that I say: Thank you! Because your works are a bridge for me getting back to my own works.

Praise to you and yours.

JLT

 

(oh and Happy Birthday to me!)

 

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Good Beginnings: Fair Shopping

Good beginnings.

It’s something so delicious and delicate.

And dangerous.

Zipper down. Spinach-infested smiles. Eye boogers. Toilet paper stuck to… well, just stuck.

First impression failures line my history well.

Then there are those winning first shots.

Wind causes hair to blow lavishly behind face. Sunlight making eyes radiant. Body odor: good.

Point being, good beginnings can happen as random as bad ones.

And when it comes to good beginnings with stories, I have bucketloads. Trunk-novel-loads, in fact. Many still stuck in the mucus of my hippocampus.

What to do with good story beginnings? Write long epic novels, of course.

The frustrating part about these good story beginnings is that they don’t always promise a good long ending.

That’s what happened to my short story ‘Fair Shopping.’

It was supposed to be epic in length. An odyssey that stands ageless and full of action and intrigue.

Yeah… that didn’t happen past chapter four. Damn story.

It wanted to write itself into the truncated form it is now, the stubborn thing.

No! I want espionage. End-of-the-world cataclysm. Perspective of our current throes into modern potential warfare.

But the damned story kicked me out and said this is what will happen instead. It defied pantsing. It defied outlines.

So, I let it do its thing and write itself out.

What was supposed to be a brick of a novel became a short dive into horror for a young couple on their way to a town fair.

So happy the folks at Spectral Press liked this good beginning that wanted it to go as short as it wanted to.

‘Fair Shopping’ will be part of the fifth anthology of Spectral Book of Horrors, a wonderful series to be part of in my opinion.

Coming soon in the fall.

Hooray for good beginnings!

 

JLT

Touch

Look at your hand (hopefully, you have one).

Flex it. Curl your fingers inward and touch your palm with your fingertips. Open it. Spread your fingers and let your hand expand flat in the air in front of you.

Touch forefinger to thumb.

Turn your hand palm down and make a fist. Look at the mess of knuckles bulging from your skin.

Now clasp hands together and squeeze slightly. Let go and just stare at a hand until you feel the perplexity of the limb in front of you.

You are looking at a part of your body. You are looking at an extension of yourself consisting of near-infinite amounts of particles put together and fired by the will of your mind.

You don’t see the bone and sinew underneath the sheath of skin, but know that there is a miracle to your machinery. It’s a reality you take for granted now but once was fascinated by with infant eyes.

The hand exists for you.

Use it to touch others that you love.

Feel their existence.

And know how strange and wonderful this ability is

to touch until you cannot touch anymore.

For one day the use of your touch will be gone forever…

Touch while you can.

JLT

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