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

 

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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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Bedtime

Child: When are we safe?

Mother: Here and now. In my arms.

Child: But your arms are soft and warm. They can’t stop monsters.

Mother: No. They can’t.

Child: So when are we safe?

Mother: Here and now. In my arms.

Child: You already said that. So, we’re never safe.

Mother: We’re together.

Child: Not all the time. Besides, that doesn’t mean we’re safe.

Mother: But I’m here now to protect you.

Child: Well how can you protect me when you’re not around?

Mother: I’ll stop the monsters now so you won’t ever have to worry about them ever again.

Child: But you’ll die if you do that.

Mother: I only want to keep you safe.

Child: I’ll be alone.

Mother: You’ll never be alone.

Child: You know, you really are starting to annoy me.

Mother: Why do you say that?

Child: Well, first of all, you come off as kind of weird every night with this ‘I’m-the-mom-everything-is-okay’ stuff that goes on and on, over and over. But it doesn’t really help me.

Mother: So you’re saying I annoy you.

Child: Yeah. Kind of. I mean if you stop to think about what you’re saying to me, it’s pretty meaningless. I’m telling you about the blood-sucking monsters that are outside my bedroom window, and you’re going on about this ‘here-and-now’ crap.

Mother: Child!

Child: And the stuff about being in your arms. Do you know how sweaty I get when you hug up on me? It makes my head itch, too.

Mother: Well then, if you find me annoying and don’t like my hugs, then you can deal with the monsters yourself.

Child: Mom? Oh come on, Babe. You don’t have to leave now. Mom?

Child: Mom?

Monster: Hey kid.

Child: Which one are you?

Monster: The choker.

Child: No. Not you. Aw, I hate it when you show up.

Monster: Hey, at least I’m not the bloodsucker. Besides, you haven’t been choked in a while. A good choking is just the thing for you.

Child: Yeah, but it hurts.

Monster: Not if I kill you. Then you won’t feel a thing.

Child: Dammit. Do you really have to choke me tonight?

Monster: I’m afraid so. Don’t struggle.

Child: MOM!

Monster: shhhh….

Child: MOM! The choking monster is in here! He’s going to choke me, Mom!

Monster: Just relax, kid.

Child: MO-gurgh–

Monster: That’s it. Turning blue. Turning blue. Baal loves you. Turning blue.

Child: gggrrruuuggghh

Monster: Turning blue. Turning-

Mother: That’s enough of that.

Monster: OW!

Child: Uu…uh. Mom… Mommy.

Mother: Honestly, you have way too many fathers that love to torment you.

Child: Mommy?

Monster: Did you really have to kick me in the nuts, Hon? I mean, geez, I have a job to do.

Mother: Et daemonium exisse.

Monster: Oh, you rotten strumpet. I hate you, you bi–

Child: It’s gone?

Mother: He’s gone.

Child: Mommy?

Mother: What?

Child: When are we safe?

Mother: Shut up and go to sleep.

 

 

©Jack Lee Taylor 2016

 

 

 

Solitary Laughter

That laugh-out-loud-when-you’re-alone-moment.

It’s one of the hidden gifts of life. When you can be alone and for whatever strange stirring in the brain, you laugh out loud. And not in spite of yourself. Who all wants to spite themselves anyway for laughing? That’s just stupid.

Anyway, if you’ve never experienced the unexpected laugh fairy visit while alone, then you should order a lighter version of yourself. Step down as CEO. Quit working at the DMV. Whatever you can do to open the laugh gates once in a while. Certainly if your brain is capable of processing at least one thought a second, by the law of randomness even an old dirty joke long years forgotten will resurface to your short-term memory sooner or later.

The mystery of a true, good-hearted laugh is that it can’t be forced. It comes out like a sneeze, a knee-jerk ejecta. You let it out in a stifled huff or a full series of bellowed guffaws (best done inside your car while sitting in traffic). We watch comedies, pay comedians and, unless you have coulraphobia, hire clowns to manufacture the laugh for us because we can’t seem to do it on a whim.

Except we can. Laughter is infectious. We can surround ourselves with others that like to laugh. If you’ve ever been accused of laughing too much, avoid the accuser at all costs. Because laughter is a rarity, a biological commodity that runs out if we don’t tap into its reserve. Laughter has helped the beaten, the weary, and the sick. To die laughing wouldn’t be a bad way to go. (I could float up in the air laughing like old Mr. Dawes Sr. from Mary Poppins, rising up to the ceiling laughing my head off until my heart seized).

But social laughter aside, it’s the laughter in solitude that is the real magic. To be able to just be alone and laugh. I’m not talking about the crazy, mustache-twisting insane type of alone-laughter. I mean when you’re just sitting there by yourself and you suddenly remember that time when Larry tried to slip a silent fart at the last meeting and failed. Or while you’re alone in the bathroom brushing your teeth, you recall that one time a passing stranger tried to give you the sexy smile just before he walked into a wall. It’s okay if you just sprayed toothpaste all over the  mirror from laughing just now.

Sometimes the laugh trigger is strange. It was funnier reminiscing in private the idea of Steve Martin juggling cats instead of actually watching him do it. The other day I snickered loudly to myself after arbitrarily recalling Orlando Jones talking about fearing spiders on the football field, a line from a movie that as a whole really wasn’t that funny.

Whatever the laugh trigger is, enjoy it. It is your rare gift to yourself. The world is mad, but not mad with laughter. In this time of ours, more than ever, we need a good laugh. The equation to fix all of our problems may never be solved, but be assured laughter is in there somewhere in the solution.

Auto-Tune for Writers!

I have found the secret on how to write the perfect novel.
 
It is a plug-in I’m beta-testing called Auto-Write that you stick into your favorite writing software. Simple install. Cyberphobe-proof. Pretty cool!

aw1
Once installed, check the bottom status line of your writing software to make sure Auto-Write is activated.

aw2
You then choose the type of writing you intend to do: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, freestyle and so on. From there, you open a blank page and start writing. If you can’t think of anything to write, you simply stare at the blank page for 30 seconds. The wait time is adjustable in the options menu of the plug-in and I’ve found you can set ‘stare-mode’ to as much as 999 hours. This feature is especially helpful for those with mind-numbing writer’s block. After the stare-mode cycle has ended, a series of random opening sentences will then fill the screen. I’ve tried this feature out once and got:


The weasel limped on the grass.


Gordon gave the nurse his loose stool sample.


Hayden found the male strippers tied and gagged in the back of the sperm bank.


Thought-provoking opening hooks, indeed.


If the muse is already there for you, and you’re deep in the throes of heated composition, Auto-Write has a feature to set the threshold of when to kick in once your writing turns sour.


For example, here’s a shoddy couple of sentences done by yours truly.


Rob’s face was punched by the bad man. Then, he was carried over the bad man’s shoulder.


Ahem. Luckily, Auto-Write detected the crappy, passive writing and auto-corrected. It even adds helpful comments:


The bad man <<Really? You’re calling the antagonist a bad man?>> punched Rob hard and fast, breaking the bridge of his nose. He then picked Rob up with ease and hoisted his limp body over a shoulder. <<We’re moving this to the mid-point of the draft…>>


An improvement. Not 100% perfect, but much more palatable. Notice it automatically moves your paragraphs into a novel structure Auto-Write sees fit.


There’s even a setting to change your writing voice and style to a number of presets that mimic famous authors. I have yet to try this out, though. Auto-Write kept rejecting my choices everytime I tried to make a selection. It seems Auto-Write must have some sort of user-unworthiness detector. This is probably a bug that needs to be addressed, and I’ll be contacting the developers to fix this.

aw3
Of course, the plug-in app has yet to be released to the public and is still in the beta testing stage of development. I expect once in the public domain, however, the world will soon be filled with pitch-perfect novels. Much like the music industry, we will see the talent of young-writers-to-come become a mighty force that will take over the world of the written word.

(many apologies to the real Autowrite project)

Cover Your Mouth!

Cover your mouth when you cough!

I say this over and over to my young one. She brings home the school bug every time – oh, those nasty, retched first-graders!


The bug hits and spread housedemic anyway. Little bro gets it. So does mom and dad. The dog laughs at us as we blow our noses.


Suddenly, I’m wary of everything. Wash your hands. Don’t sit on public toilets. For goodness sakes, bring a pair of socks when you go shoe-shopping. Did that person just take a pack of underwear to try on in the fitting room? Wear gloves at all times! Breathing masks!


Pretty soon, you’re walking around with hand sanitizer and Lysol, zapping doorknobs. This is the same person who played with dried gum under desks in middle school.


According to recent scientific studies, we carry more bacteria in our bodies from skin to gut compared to the number of cells that are pure, bona fide human. No wonder losing weight is so tough. The bacteria run around like remoras on sharks, partying inside of us like it’s 9999. Some of them we don’t mind. They help us out, so we take them along for the ride. Other of those critters inside us would make a lab tech run and pull out the Hazmat suit.


Strangely, this doesn’t freak me out as much so as to walk around wearing an aspirator.


The ‘V’ word is another worm altogether. It comes with scare tactics. Viruses are the reason many of us become germaphobes. Ebola, influenza, SARS, salmonella; I’ve yet to hear of a virus with a cute and cuddly name. Caution is best in those cases because, unfortunately, along with nasty bacteria, sickness and death may occur when exposed…

…but when did I truly get so germaphobic about it?


Ah. The Kids.


Being a parent really has put this one in a state of higher awareness. Otherwise, I’d be deep in Game of War hour upon hour. With higher awareness comes higher paranoia. I have to make sure to keep that in check. I try not to cry out ‘bloody murder’ when a play date’s parent neglects to mention until the last minute that her child has strep as she drops off her kid at my doorstep. Listen to those screeching tires as she peels away.


We should definitely teach our children the basics of sanitation, but let’s try to not go overboard with the germaphobic practices, unless you want raise a nest of overclean-compulsive kids. Now go spray that piano with Lysol.


We’ll go to Chuck E. Cheese after flu season. Shush up now and cover your mouth when you cough.

 

Be thankful if you have clean water to drink and wash with.  To help others without clean water visit: http://thewaterproject.org
Be thankful if you have clean water to drink and wash with.
To help others without clean water visit:
http://thewaterproject.org