Monday, April 14, 2014

A Metaphor for Maple Syrup

These days I'd like nothing more than to be able to write an epic novel that confounds critics and is generally inscrutable to the general public. After years of public speaking tours and millions of copies sold, most of them to unsuspecting university students since the novel is part of the curriculum, I would be standing at a podium addressing a gaggle of elite academics. I imagine most of them would be either stroking beards or leaning forward on a balled up fist, listening intently.

I would be introduced.

I would approach the podium and offer a brief reading.

Some earnest doctorate student would stand up to ask a question.

"But what does it all mean?"

And I would say, "It's a metaphor for maple syrup."

At which point I would kick the podium over and disappear. Stage right.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Flaming Cat

It's a well-known fact that our orange and white cat's tail is completely without feeling thanks to some unknown past injury. (It may or may not have been due to Milo's stint with the Canadian Special Forces before he came to live with us. Prior to life at the SPCA, who's to say what a cat gets up to?)

That fact has saved him some pretty painful moments, like the times I've stepped on his tail or his tail has been caught in a door. But that complete numbness -- the kind of numb that many people pay loads of money to attain at the bar -- is a liability when it comes to something like fire.

Not some kind of metaphorical fire, but actual fire.

A bit of a cold snap in these parts means the wood stove is getting a workout. As any cat owner will tell you, a heat source means a curled up feline somewhere nearby. In the absence of a sunny spot, Milo took up a location a little too close to the wood stove that's supplying the majority of the heat for the house and managed to singe off some hair on his tail.

As my wife described it to me over the phone, "There was this weird burning smell all of the sudden and Milo your tail's on fire!"

Lucky for him, it's barely noticeable. Lucky for us, his tail didn't burst into flames. That's the kind of thing that would get a cat moving even if it he can't feel his tail. And you just know he'd make a beeline for a couch or bed to hide under. I briefly imagined describing a claim to our insurance company:

"Well, the cat was on fire, because he has no feeling in his tail, and then the bed was on fire and, well, here we are now standing in front of a smouldering ruin."

Not sure if the incident has taught him anything but he's not the only one missing the warmer weather.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

An Excerpt from Chapter 4

The text below is from a novel in progress. First draft so there's still plenty of editing that will need to be done before it's "ready."

“We’ll, I guess this gives me a good excuse to do it now.” Aloysius sat on the couch and dumped the contents of the bag on the couch. He swept the clothes to the floor and plunked the Red on the coffee table. “I’m putting this to bed.”

He snapped open two cans of Red and chugged them down. It wasn’t a bad time either, probably 15 seconds. He snapped the third and looked at Roy.

“After I drink this and nothing happens, I don’t want to hear anything more about me being a superhero or magic potions, or shape-shifting. Okay? Deal?”

Roy nodded his head in agreement. He shifted forward in his seat. “Bottom’s up!”

A soft warmth had started to spread to Aloysius’ extremities. He tipped the can to his lips and eight seconds later it was empty.

Roy sat expectantly. Aloysius felt the alcohol smack into his brain. It was a lot of Red to guzzle at one time. Three cans in less than a minute was enough to inebriate even heavy drinkers.

Something happened.

The belch that boiled from Aloysius’ mouth was something out of legend. Windows rattled, Roy was pushed back in his seat, and a box of Cheerios on the table tipped over and spilled onto the floor.

Friday, January 10, 2014

House of Cards

After multiple recommendations, my wife and I started watching Netflix's "House of Cards."

I didn't know what to expect because the only thing I'd heard about it was that it was a "political show" so I was surprised when it started with Kevin Spacey's character killing a dog with his bare hands as he looks right at the audience and spouts a short monologue.

Granted the dog had just been run over by a car and would have probably died anyway, but the fact he finishes off the animal in such a manner while offering information to the audience like an ice-cold, grown-up version of Ferris Bueller had me wanting to watch more.

Most of the time I have no idea what's going on -- not being the kind of person that's knowledgeable about the inner workings of the US government -- but I’m still enjoying it, mostly because of Kevin Spacey and the calm reasoning of his character. Just a few episodes remain so I'm glad season 2 isn't far off.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Some From Chapter 3

The sobbing was happening somewhere in the opposite direction of the nurse. Aloysius glanced left and right and started down the hallway, gulping the beer from the can as quietly as possible.

At the end of the passage he found the room where the crying was coming from. He stopped short of entering the room, fighting the urge to cross the threshold to find out if the woman sobbing -- whether in grief or pain -- was the same that had dopplered by his room earlier.

“Sir,” a low voice said behind him, “Mr. Vitus, what are you doing wandering around this time of night?”

Aloysius did his best to hide the beer behind his back as he turned around.

“Couldn’t sleep, I was uncomfortable, wound’s itchy, thought I heard a noise, had a nightmare, looking for a glass of water,” Aloysius babbled. He could feel his face going red.

“If you need a little walk to calm yourself or,” the nurse was a dozen paces away, “Whatever it is you’re doing, don’t bother the other patients. They need their peace.”

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

From Chapter 1: Some Years Earlier

With all the sensibility borne of a alcohol and a short temper, Roy slammed his forehead with a great crunching sound against the mound of muscle.

And it was right at that moment when time stopped for Aloysious. He glanced around the room. The ceiling fans were stopped. Gina hung motionless above a bank of manufactured cloud that didn’t stir. The mound of muscle was frozen in a grimace of pain, his body in the midst of falling down; the phalanx of equally muscled friends with looks of shock and anger stretched on their faces. Aloysious stood up. Everything remained still then a heartbeat later the world started to vibrate and he exploded in a cacophonous wave that suddenly thawed the motion in the room.

It was a violent thaw -- people knocked against each other, every bottle of booze at the bar shattered, and the closest people, mainly the wall of flesh and his friends, had their clothes shredded.

Gina seemed to be the only one unaffected. Hands on her hips, she actually appeared annoyed that someone had exploded at what was to be the climax of her routine.

Aloysious snapped back into existence. Roy didn’t even have to shout a drunken question at Aloysious before they started stumbling toward the exit.

Aloysious didn’t know what it was, but he knew he had to get the hell outside, to the relative safety of the Murder Capital of the World.

“Hey, boy,” Roy rasped. “What’s happening to your skin?”