Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

STORY – The Gym and the Morgue

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Morgue Picture

When I go to the local three story super-über-alles gym near me, I walk the short, ten minute distance–the idea being that I get exercise from the very moment I step out the door to the last moment I step back in for tea and pastry to try and neutralize my exercise and whatever benefits I’d managed to gather. Get them back down to zero and make sure the universe, my universe, stays in balance.

And it is a balancing act, this good-for-me exercise versus good-for-me sloth. Get too much exercise and I feel as though I have to sit around doing nothing in a major way just so my body understands I’m not going to go all macho fitness fanatic on it. My body responds nicely by neither gaining nor loosing weight. We are in agreement. My body yings and yangs along, comprehending my balancing act.

Anyway, when I walk to the gym, I usually take a short cut through what seems a rather under-used hospital and its parking lot. Detached from the main building, I pass a rather unadorned one-story squat pile of gray and dull red bricks. There’re tiny windows stuck high up near the roof so I can’t peek in. A modest plaque posted near the door states that this structure is the hospital’s morgue. This building’s primary job is to motivate me once I’m in the gym.

But once in gym-land, I only ever do one of two things. I swim, or I sauna. Everything else is too much like plain old ugly exercise. I don’t like to run in one place or lift things, or strain my heart muscle, or turn red in the face. So a lot of the gym’s three-story building is mostly a modernized Dark Ages Torture chamber for people who pay good money and require a certain level of self-gratifying pain and strain. The sauna is my speed: just lie there and self-clean. Without moving a muscle. But it’s also a favorite gathering spot for chunky, thick-jawed, one eyebrow Eastern Europeans or Albanians or something really foreign and threatening. They have facial stubble, wide shoulders and look like hit men who enjoy their work, at least in my movie. They come in packs of threes and grunt and mumble and make me want to cover my genitals and tell them I don’t owe anyone any money.

The best thing about the sauna is lying there naked and free and sweating in a meditative quiet, in a sweat bliss of silence. But when the ex-Soviet Block hit squad isn’t there and mumbling, two or more local guys come in and treat the place like a café down the corner. For me, a sauna is a bit like a dark, quiet church. For these others, it’s time to talk office politics or brag about bargains they got in IT equipment. They’re not atuned to social niceties like, shut the fuck up, idiots, which is always on the tip of my cowardly tongue. It’s hard, really hard, to listen to crap when you sweat. There I am trying to clean my pores, and there they are dumping aural junk in my ear holes.

Then I think of the morgue outside, waiting for my return walk-by, and I stick it out a bit longer, cleansing something that may be dirty, diseased, or just weird accumulated gunk I knew nothing about. Enduring foreign words of vague threat or unmitigated triviality, enduring beyond the morgue outside, enduring for the moment.

Audio clip from “Self-Portrait of Someone Else” — Part Three, 1

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Podcast image

Next part, following from last Monday. Intense. Enjoy!

SELF-PORTRAIT OF SOMEONE ELSE: PART THREE – Chap 1.1 and because this is a thirty minute plus chapter to listen to, here’s part 2 of this chapter Self-Portrait of Someone Else – PART THREE – Chapter 1.2

Or download and listen to them later. Thanks for visiting. Vincent

Story – Crosswalk

Friday, April 16th, 2010


Judy used to like driving her car. A little power in her hands, moving along. A sense of getting somewhere she was headed toward.

Then the animals took over the streets and lately driving had become an urban mano-à-mano experience.

Pleasure had been replaced by other people. Other people in other cars who induced in her a feeling of rational paranoia: she knew they were out to get her.

A for instance. No one any longer knew how to use their blinkers. Cars right in front of her turned abruptly left or unexpectedly right without any warning as though part of Judy’s job experience as a car driver was now mind reading.

Then there were those other numerous idiots who fantasized they were race car drivers and just could not resist racing her, even though the traffic light just ahead was red. Many major bozos functioning solely with their primitive brain pan whizzed past her driver’s window, cutting right in front of her at the last moment. As though receiving extra bonus points or able to go to another level on some game Judy had no idea about. Then would come their rear lights, reddening up as they stomped on their brakes to sit at the red light waiting for the green to turn up.

And Judy sat in her car, now behind them, thinking spit and knives, one-on-one terrorist acts festering in her glove compartment, roaring images of not stopping her car, of continuing driving right up their car’s backside, rolling on top, squashing down on them, ridding the world of one more urban idiot with a valid driver’s license.

She also wanted to flash her lights, honk her horn, scream and scream. She also wanted to get out of her car and go knock on their window and wag a finger in their face, and give them what for.

But she behaved herself with only her hands making damp squeaky sounds as the flesh of her palm ground around the steering wheel, working out the tension.

And she saw that it was always, inevitably, a guy, some young male with no doubt a low sperm count and big inarticulate needs with dirt underneath his fingernails whose dreams consisted of successfully waking up in the morning, all ambitions of his narrow life already met.

Judy had her moments. In her imagination. Other scenes. Full of illegal urges. Beyond running into them to teach them a lesson. Or at least ruin their day. Get them off the road. For a while. The impulse passed. Barely. Yet returned often. Often.

It was just no fun to drive her car in city traffic any longer. All the aggression, rudeness, all the effort of controlling her anger.

In minor revenge, people on pedestrian crossings became target practice. Here she would be the boss and make people jump back on the curb when she drove up. Glowering, tense, alive with some sense of power.

When there was no rush to get somewhere she thought she had to get to quickly, she would sometimes stop and obey the law, letting people without cars cross the crosswalk.

Judy’d rev her engine a little just to see them pick their pace up a bit.

Last week she had come upon a young black guy who looked half-asleep, slouching at the curb, waiting.

She was going to go straight across the crosswalk, without even slowing. This was one guy who could wait.

But getting closer, she could see he was holding something close. Judy thought it looked as though it was a baby wrapped up in different colorful small blankets his chest. He was hardly glancing at the traffic, a little to the left, little to the right, without much hope or real interest. He was laying-back.

As Judy approached, he placed his right shoe tip onto the first white line of the crosswalk. As though testing the water before going in. He stayed this way, looking neither left nor right.

These days someone starting to cross the street was no reason for Judy to stop; more a reason to speed up.

Magnanimously, Judy slowed. Stopped.

The man still did not look up. Not at Judy, not at her car, as he put his other foot onto the crosswalk. She watched his slow, sleepy movements, the bundle of cloth containing a baby he held. Then as he passed the front of her car, she saw an unfolding of his hand that faced her. Fingers appeared. She watched as he made a casual, hip-high peace sign in her direction. He held it as he crossed, keeping his eyes on the white lines ahead of him and his hands supporting the baby. Then the fingers curled back to hold the child tighter as he reached the other side and stepped up and left the crosswalk.

She sat there, feeling strange, until someone honked from behind.

For the next days, Judy stopped fairly regularly at crossings, seeking more peace signs.

Audio clip from “Self-Portrait of Someone Else” — Part Three, “From the Bedford Clinic”

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Podcast image

Very short installment this week. Very long one next week. Audio editing a great time suck. To get it right. As one wants to, for you. And you. And you.


STORY – Puppy’s dead!

Friday, April 9th, 2010

dead puppy
Puppy dead!
My cutie little puppy.
I used to hold him fluffy and round and all warm all in my arms.
Now he’s a flat rug in the driveway. He no move.
I throw the ball for him to go fetch but he still no move.
Daddy bad daddy forgot to look when backing up big car this morning.
Puppy-doggie all brown and flat and squishy and not my cuddly-cuddly doggie out in the middle of the red wet driveway.
Who let puppy out?
Bad puppy.
Bad all the way asleep now puppy.
Why did this happen when I went to bed a happy very happy boy with puppy-puppy in his life?
Is mommy bad a bad mummy too?
Is Daddy dumb daddy?
My puppy is all dead and I am feeling dead, all too.
I cried.
Cried real loud, real long.
I cried for three days.
I cried for two and one half nights.
Then I sobbed some more.
Everyone left the house to take a walk around the block.
Away from my unhappy sobs for the dead puppy.
Then someone cleaned up the driveway.
No wet red driveway ex-puppy spots.
I walked to the middle of my lawn.
Stood there green all around my feet and the sun came out. Big and wide where I could not miss it.
I stretched me big and rolled down to the grass bounced once and smelled it deep in my nostrils and then in my all my insides.
Turned over, looked at some funny clouds for a while.
I wondered, cloud wondering, if it wasn’t time I ask to get a pussy cat.
Kitty, kitty, I will call. Kitty, kitty.

Story – Mike Grange, automobile mechanic, finds himself

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

car mechanic tells his story of becoming a lawyer in spite of himself
It’s hell now, just pure hell. Ever since I found myself, I see things differently, and it’s not particularly fun. It’s a whole new orientation. I sort of liked the way I saw things before, before I found myself. God, life, and me, were a lot simpler then. When I didn’t have a clue as to my real self was, I was pretty glad to just be living and sticking my hands in some nuts and bolts, proud when a motor purred. And after work, it was TV, beer, Sunday football games, the basics. It was a pretty good life.

Then I had to go and find myself.

And I discover I should’ve been a lawyer all this time. Jesus….

So now I’m attending night school, acquiring sophisticated tastes, learning big words, manipulating logical thought and instinctively looking for loopholes. I go to foreign films and like brandy. I read. Big books with small print. Front to back, even the footnotes. I’m hooked. It’s depressing.

But I just don’t know if it’s all worth it—really. This Self stuff. I’ve got all these new ambitions and worries. Career goals and financial liabilities. It’s tough. I wouldn’t recommend a true sense of self to anyone who’s been fooling himself for years and has already gotten used to who he thinks he is and has his habits, a beer belly, a life….

Maybe if I had discovered myself earlier, before I had all these pleasant memories when I didn’t know who I really was but was having a good time anyway.

My old friends really think I’m crazy now. They say, “Come on, Mike, you’re crazy. Stop going to college. My carburetor’s starting to go on the blink.” But I explain to these people, “This is the real me, since I found myself.” They back off as though I’ve gone loony.

Who knows. Maybe they’re right.

Nowadays, I just try to keep me to myself, stop having these urges to bill people for my time, and suffer in silence….

Taken from the book, “How to Find Yourself (or a reasonable facsimile).

Audio clip from “Self-Portrait of Someone Else” — Part Two, Chapter 6

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Podcast image

If you haven’t been listening to these yet, this clip is a good place to start. It can be listened to (or read, see below) almost as a stand-alone story, that is, it holds up without your having to know a great deal of what’s gone before.

To listen, Podcast of “Self-Portrait of Someone Else”, PART TWO – 6

It is a 30-minute plus audio clip (or podcast), so save it for a nice, long moment. These clips, as you may know, happen every Monday, and I’m getting (or the audio clips are getting) as regular as happy intestines digesting proper food and end that metaphor here.

This was also excerpt you can read here and that I posted previously. It was originally published in “Other Voices”, a once big deal literary magazine out of Chicago, now defunct.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Video of the author (me) reviewing his reviews for his novel, “Self-Portrait of Someone Else”

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Hello You. Welcome. This post is, briefly, about this novel of mine:

SELF-PORTRAIT OF SOME ELSE, novel, video, reviews

I’ve had a quick creative moment to just video me and some words and images where I’m reading bits from some reviews that I got once upon a time for this novel of mine, cracking wise, gently, getting arch, as necessary.

This is performed in my continuing effort to produce something good, let the world know about it (gently, archly, as necessary), and then do it again.

The video is simple, it’s swift, it aims to inform, please and low-grade beg. If so moved, please leave a comment (either down below or on the YouTube page), and/or pass it on, investigate further, learn a musical instrument, dance the rumba, and love love love my freaking book.

Oh, yeah, the video. Click-click here-here to see-see (or behold-behold): Reviewing the Reviews.

Audio book/podcast from “Self-Portrait of Someone Else” — Part Two, Chapter 5, Alisa’s Statement, Psychologistic’s Report

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Podcast of Vincent Eaton's Self-Portrait of Someone Else

Monday. Following previous Mondays, the next podcast/audio clip from “Self-Portrait of Someone Else”. This one is short, less than four minutes. It readies the listener for the crucial intense next chapter coming next Monday.

To listen or download, click here: Self-Portrait of Someone Else, Podcast, Part TWO, Chapter 5, Alisa’s Statement, Psychologist’s Report.

Enjoy, and please leave a comment, if you have one.

Conference Tongue

Friday, March 19th, 2010

on writing, sex, writers conferences
The very first thing of the very first morning at the very beginning of the twelve-day writer’s conference, I was waiting outside the dining hall to take an initial tour of the campus lead by some young post-graduates who possessed minimal tour guide skills.

My reader, the professionally published writer-teacher guy who would be reviewing my manuscript and conferencing with me, came up out of a crowd of people, and introduced himself—later, from co-conference-goers more experienced than I in such matters, said this was out of the ordinary, your reader approaching you—and because of this they looked at me as though I was someone of potential special interest.

He introduced himself to me. “Mr. Roberts? I believe you are one of my victims.” Then mumbled, “I never remember titles and names”–then remembered me and mine. He asked if I had really, truly selected him to be my one and only favorite reader over all the fourteen other prominent teacher-writers available. I indicated I had, tactically avoiding saying he was my second choice, really. He said, “I want to know because I apply the scalpel differently to those who have specifically chosen me compared to those who have not.” I then definitely allowed him to believe he was my first, best choice…after all I wanted to get my full money’s worth.

He asked me what I was most worried about with my manuscript.
“…I am not confident of its shape…?”

We began walking on this tour, taking up the rear, chatting. He thought that I needed to rethink the material more as a straightforward memoir, just as a possible alternative.
He was intense, focused, sardonic.

He confided that he wasn’t too sure of the value of this conference, or any writing conference, although he was there for the third year. “There are four levels this works at,” he told me. One: socializing: drinks, receptions, parties. Two: business contacts, literary agents, editors, visiting publishers. Three: physical favors with the opposite sex. Four: writing. With so few hours dedicated to actual writing discussions, he seemed pessimistic about any in-depth fixing of writing. And there were a 144 of us 12-day students. He led me to believe, without stating it too obviously, that it would be up to me to reverse the order. Writing first, sex second, etc….

“I’m going to cut off here because this tour isn’t going anywhere.” He turned, noticed a woman passing, a student. Made a remark to her: “Where you staying?”
“In the French dorm.”
“You’re lucky.” He eagle-eyed her. “And why don’t you invite me there?”
She smiled and shrugged and kept walking. He watched her as she moved away, then turned to me.
“Is that number three on your list?” I asked.
He smiled and cut off.

* * *

I had to wait till mid-way through the conference to get my chance at some of that “physical favor with the opposite sex” stuff which was supposedly so rampant at these conferences. It was to be from an auditor. That is someone who sits in on classes but cannot participate. Like a groupie, like an auditor, like a hanger on. Kathleen was her name: a wanton healthcare professional, I was to find, with whom I had spoken now and then during the first week.

One evening, at a mini-celebration halfway through the conference, she told me she had three favorite people at the conference, and that I was at the top of her list.
She was already pretty drunk when she said this.
I said, Ah.

Just like that she placed her hand flat against my chest, and alarmed my delicate artistic sensibilities by suggesting, “Blow jobs and the clitoris. We could do that.” I tried to think of a witty retort to this, but nothing in my background or social skills had prepared me for this type of provocative suggestion.
“Yes,” I murmured, “we could.”

Now for eight days it had been hot and muggy and sticky and for these eight days I had grown plenty horny so what-the-heck I tried a kiss on for size, just to sort of get the lay of the land, check if my testicles would tingle as our tongues probed and partied.

I was anticipating, even hoping for slightly parted plump lips, and gradually to work our separate ways to a more sophisticated tongue tango. What I got was the romantic equivalent of the Grand Canyon.

She placed her upper lip somewhere just below my nostrils. I believe she hooked her lower lip under my chin.

Startled, and not a little concerned, I nevertheless tossed my tongue in there to see what would happen. No slick, moist porpoise of a tongue rose to meet mine in order to frolic and splash. My tongue hung in the dark, in the void, alone, like a diving board over the deep end of an empty swimming pool.

I made a valid effort, and waggled my tongue in the generosity of her whole-hearted though unskilled desire. I believe I licked a couple of molars.

It was at that moment that my testicles realized that they would be retaining their testosterone burden for another sticky night.