Twelve minutes past six in the back parking lot of a Burger King in Alliance, Ohio. A Stevie Wonder song was playing on the radio, Sir Duke, and Scoobie saw the boy across from him for the first time. He had a mop top hair cut — about a dozen years out of date — and striking green eyes, almost the color of lime Jello. The boy’s expression was animated but shy, the face of someone who has been perpetually bullied and has accepted it like a disfiguring birthmark. He had fine boyish features, and porcelain skin. But it was a porcelain that was mistreated and unwashed. There were bruises beneath his eyes and his skin was gray. He looked like a boy trying to be a man and not quite making it. There was something inconsolably sad in his expression, something that begged for forgiveness for unpardonable sins. Scoobie wondered what kind of hell this young man had lived through. Though his features might ordinarily be called delicate, there was something gruff about his demeanor, something mean and uncontrolled. Continue reading Coffee money
It’s time to be invisible.
Watered-down hand sanitizer in the men’s room
Laughter from a joke you’re not in on
Coca-Cola cans from the vending machine
past expiration date. Continue reading Wake up
There is a trail on the eastern bank of the Allegheny River that runs through the small town of Kittanning, Pennsylvania, twenty-eight miles north of Pittsburgh. Named the Armstrong Trail, it is a popular destination for mountain bike enthusiasts and seasoned hikers. One would expect to find many species of birds, deer and perhaps even bear, depending on the season. On a cloudy early morning in late September, one would not expect to find a semi-conscious naked man tied to a guard-rail, blathering the word “Albagon” repeatedly, a ribbon of drool unspooling onto his chest.
The trail is primitive and closed from dusk till dawn, with advisories posted at all points of ingress that use is on an “own risk” basis. The naked man saw no such signs; he was unaware of where he was and could not remember how he arrived in such a state. That he was still alive was barely a blessing. “Albagon”, he thought incoherently, was all he knew and all he needed to know, forever and ever.
The man formerly known as Ernest Getty Witt, small-time tavern owner and former mayor of Cushing, PA, he had deteriorated quite badly after an afternoon drive with Cronic. The evening had dipped below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and Ernie’s lungs had filled with the damp air of an autumn evening. Two thick rubber bands were cinched around his testicles, and his agony was terrific. A small box turtle was in his mouth and, while it lived for 20 minutes after being inserted, it tore small pieces from his inner cheeks and tongue, making the pain beneath his groin almost tolerable. Rough strips of masking tape had been wound around Ernie’s head, covering his mouth, over the bridge of his nose, and below his nostrils. On his chest the word “Albagon” was scrawled with black spray paint. On his buttocks, the word “Cronic” was likewise painted. Continue reading Ernie – Part 2
It was the Crazy Eights Hour on WZAT, and the disc jockey came on every fifteen minutes to tell the temperature and remind everyone what station they were hearing. He coulda skipped the weather, ‘cause it been the same for the past three weeks – hot and sticky.
I was sleeping, flying, snoring when I woke up in the middle of the air. Mamma tossed me like straw. Her temper was up and I could see a river of sweat pouring down her face. Her eyes were dark from an ugly brown mascara, and I could see the spit on her teeth, hissing at me like she was a bobcat. The house smelled like overcooked bacon, or maybe that was her smell… greasy and damp and musky. Continue reading Crazy Eights Hour
Well, I’m ready. After weeks — years, really — of preparing Cronic, the first stage is complete. Re-read, edited, formatted, stressed, and lost sleep. It’s ready to go.
While going over some of my notes and correspondence, I was surprised to see that I finished writing Cronic almost 12 years ago. Man, the time…. In many ways, it was my first novel. I wrote a few before then, but this is the one that stuck with me. It was almost accepted by an agent who inexplicably dropped out at the last minute. Maybe not inexplicable. It’s violent, it’s dark, it’s brutal. And I haven’t written anything like it, before or since. My writing voice has calmed down considerably and I’m more introspective. But Cronic is rough poetry, carved by years of practice. Is it good? I think so. My wife thinks so. She, more than anyone, has encouraged me to publish this, so I owe her a huge debt of thanks.
And now the second stage: readers and reviews. If anyone’s interested in giving me a fair but honest review, I can provide either a PDF or a mobi file for their Kindles. If it ain’t your cup of soup, no hard feelings. And I’d have to give it an R-Rating for language and violent situations. I know there’s rougher stuff out there, but still….
Thanks for all the support and encouragement I’ve received, it does a writer good. You can drop me a note at email@example.com.