London Calling

Looking over the Thames river, he saw water rising to take it’s revenge. The pharmeucutical-induced lethargy ushered hallucinations. He rolled off the queen- sized mattress, shaking. Feeling dirty, shag carpet on his bare back, he peeked out a tiny window watching yellow-eyed zombies.

Their marching wasn’t the living dead normal. It was purposed; an army of single-minded killers of rebellion. He knew they’d come. It’s why he’d hid and drugged. The door shook.

“Turn down that Crash music, your sister’s sick too!”

He pressed stop.

“It’s The Clash, mom!”

He turned up another cup of medicine and left for London.

****blogger’s note****

It’s a busy week and I’m finishing a book so I combined three prompts, Velvet Verbosity’s 100 word “Lethargy” , Trifecta Writing’s “normal as noun” , and Write On Edge’s 100 word sprint kinda sorta set in or to London

This is in my top five list of favorite songs of all-time. The Clash is my favorite band and they were at their peak with London Calling. I may or may not have duplicated this “scene” in my bedroom growing up. We’ll call it fiction to protect reputations and feelings. Some of you should relate to this 100.

Here’s the only band that mattered.

Hello, Goodbye

Last Christmas in our house:

The door bell rang and sadness filled the room. I watched my wife’s deep blue eyes lose their sparkle; partly to the flu, and because our three daughters were leaving us on Christmas Day. 

A swirling dervish of excitement bounded up the stairs, throwing her little six-year-old voice backward.

“I need my new big pillow and my new Bigfoot toy. Daddy, get my boots!”

I took her order and found them behind the couch, then opened the door. Someone my youngest also called daddy stood expressionless as flakes danced around the porch. I said hello, turned around, and my small blond plopped down on the floor with her socked feet sticking straight up.. I slid on her fur lined Christmas gifts. She got up to give kisses to her sick mother then leaned into me for small hug and walked away with the other man.

“It’s snowing, honey. We don’t even get to throw snowballs with them.”

I walked upstairs and saw our oldest daughter packing her overnight bag with one hand and texting with the other.

“He called and said he’s 10 minutes away.”

I extended my arms and she sighed. She finished her message and leaned into me. It was good enough. Her warmth was a present. Her left hand gently touched my shoulder as she pushed away to finish packing. I walked six steps across the hall and peeked into the younger girls’ room. My middle child, only 7, but desperately trying to be like her oldest sister, kept her eyes on the television  as she spoke out out of the side of her mouth.

“When do we leave for my mom’s?”

I suppressed heartache and replied.

“Two hours.”

I walked to the window and pulled the curtain to the right.

A much harder snow began to fall.

***blogger’s note***

This is my 300 word response to Write on Edge’s holiday prompt:

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood 

This week we asked you to use the holiday season to inspire you to write a piece beginning with “The doorbell rang” and ending with “snow began to fall.”

We can’t wait to see where you took this prompt. Link up, but only if you’ve done the prompt, and let us see who was on the other side of the door.

Red Writing Hood – The Doorbell Rang

We are a blended family. Every Christmas Day is like this, as our 3 daughters leave us at certain times during the day. This year, our middle child, now 8, will come to us at 2pm, but not see her two sister until 2 days after Christmas. This was the scene in our home last year as my wife was sick, it snowed, and the girls left us to be with their other families. Christmas, thus, is both a very happy and sad time for us.

Today’s song is what plays in my head while this scene plays out every year. Here’s my interpretation of The Beatles, Hello, Goodbye.


Volcano Girls

NOTE – this is a continuation of this story:


They played guitar til the sun rose. Helene wondered if Ramona Gallery could see her staring at after each break. Eighteen years separated them. Every time Helene moved her dirty blonde hair behind her ears, Ramona would do the same with her graying red tresses. He ended the songwriting session. Helene glared, never wanting the moment the pass. Ramona rubbed her rough right hand over Helene’s left arm.

“We both look like hell. Wanna go put it in a kitchen?”

Shocked at her offer, Helene smiled and shook her head like puppy.

Ramona and the two other guitarists walked to the elevator. She said goodbye to them. He walked over to Helene and held a 100 dollar bill.

“No, I mean thanks, but playing and writing with Ramona was like winning the lottery, dude.”

He smiled, folded the money, and placed it in her guitar case.

“You’re here because of Ramona Gallery. She saw you with your band. If you want a gig playing with us , then you need to tell her so. Ramona’s weird. She won’t ask you directly.  Consider this money an advance for future work. “

To make 100 dollars as a member of Slipper Socks Medium, she would have to play three shows a night in a place that held 100 people, and abstain from any food or drinks. She had met one of her musical heroes, wrote  song for three hours, and been invited to breakfast. Before Helene had a chance to think any harder about her future, Ramona called to her from foyer.

“If you want greasy goodness, giddy-up gorgeous!”

He shook his head at Helene.

“You think you’re ready to be a real musician. You really want to make something that matters?”

She looked at the holes in her jeans, the dirt under her ugly nails, and remembered the eviction notice in her cockroached bedroom.

“What would you know about real music? You just pay the players.”

She smirked and walked toward the elevator to join Ramona. A few steps away she turned toward him.

“Yeah, I want this more than anything. I’m just not going to tell you every five minutes how much I’m dancing inside.”

The women rode to the street and walked into the urban sunrise, guitars in hand. Ramona smiled at Helene.

“There’s a place that will think we’re pretty down the street. Let’s eat like rock stars. You’re buying.”

******blogger’s note******** This was a tough assignment. Last fall, for Nanowrimo, which I failed to complete, I wrote something about male musicians with a horror backdrop. It sucked. The challenge from was: Go back into my archives, pick a fiction piece and rewrite. So I molded this into a new story episode about Helene Troy. You can find her story here:

Today’s song is what I imagined as a theme song for these two as they walked down the street grungy and hungry. Here’s Veruca Salt’s Volcano Girls:


His place was in a better neighborhood. He buzzed in Helene. She laid her guitar case and backpack in the elevator as it slowly rose. Noticing her reflection in the clean steel, she bent down and took out some concealer from her bag and dabbed over the circles under her tired, green eyes.. The door opened to the apartment, which was reconstructed into a studio. He stood in the middle of the floor with his hands on his hips staring at her. Two women and a man, all holding guitars turned to look. Embarrassed, she cooly put the makeup away.

“Hey, I’m Helene Troy. “

Everyone smiled. He strolled over and put his large right hand in the middle of her back. She hoped he wouldn’t feel the sweat and grime of her night .

“Join us Helene. I told everyone about you. We hope you can help. This songwriting session is going nowhere.”

She put her backpack and guitar case down next to a set of old cameras. There were three of them. She removed her acoustic guitar and dug a pick from her jeans pocket and put it in her mouth while she tuned. The pick smelled like stale beer. Nausea overwhelmed her. Her knees buckled and she fell. The thud of the guitar matched the bump her head made on the hardwood floor.

“Helene, are you alright? Should we get you some ice?”

She looked up and saw one of the women.

“I’m sorry. I’m not that drunk or high or anything like that. I just haven’t eaten or slept. I guess you want to me to get the hell out of here.”

Helene recognized the woman’s face and voice.

“Oh my god! You’re Ramona Gallery! I have, like 3 or 4, 3, I only have 3 of your Cds, but I’ll get more!”

Ramona Gallery grinned. The lines around her 42 year old hazel eyes expanded. She lifted Helene up with her arms then bent down to pick up the guitar.

“I’m not that drunk either and I never eat enough. But I’m not worth fainting over. I saw your band, Slipper Socks Medium, at The Duke night before last. You guys are major.”

Helene was starstruck. She wanted to tell this nice woman how she made her love music when Helene was 10 year old, but refrained. She followed Ramona to the other musicians and began strumming with her idol.

This is a 400 word fiction challenge response to my blogging friends Angela and Galit Breen of . This piece is part of a side story Im working on. You can find the rest here:

 The prompt was this picture:

Today’s song is about where the main character, Helene Troy’s, head and heart are in this moment. She’s regretting the choices she’s made and seeing a chance to change for the better. Pearl Jam’s Black is about regret. Maybe the guitar circle played this song while they warmed to the songwriting process. Here’s Black.

Moving Like Jagger

The inside of my brain is a lot like Elaines Benes’ dancing on Seinfeld:

Sometimes it’s even worse. My internal wiring’s akin to The (original) Office’s David Brent:

As interesting and schadenfrudish as it may be for you all to read about how messed up I am, lately. I’ve more Saturday Night Fever’s Tony Manero:

In researching ideas for this Friday’s Red Dress Club writing challenge of something that’s starts with an R, ends with an M, but I can not use in my post, I realized that appreciating my lack of  “dance skills” inside my brain is what has made me better.

My wife, the many times mentioned “Bobina”, tells me every day to slow down, appreciate what I have, and enjoy my one life. Yes, the anxiety meds help, but what has really given my hips some shake is appreciating myself.

While at a family event earlier today my cousin said to me “you seem really happy.”

No one says that to me. I’m the dude people go to for good snark, a joke or three, and something alternative to the popular opinion. Folks don’t flock to my side of the room for happiness. Until now.

On the way home from our family event (my grandfather, a local city councilman and public servant of over 30 years, had a water treatment facility dedicated to him), Maroon 5 came on the radio. It’s the one band my teenage daughter, 15 year old Tay, and I agree on. Instead of stressing over Tay rejecting my Radiohead and Clash CDs in favor of Taylor Swift, I’ve found common ground. This is anotehr example of me getting over my crappy wiring, relaxing, seeing the bigger picture. Tay, Bobina and I sang Maroon 5 at the top of our lungs in car like mental patients. I even danced, badly, in my seat.

****blogger’s note**** This is my response to challenge of “write a post about rhythm without using the word”.

Today’s song has plenty of the R word. It’s one of the better pop tunes Ive heard in years. Here’s Maroon 5′s Moves Like Jagger. Get up and move around, you know you want to.

She Came In Through The Bathroom Window

“A new father quickly learns that his child invariably comes to the bathroom at precisely the times when he’s in there, as if he needed company. The only way for this father to be certain of bathroom privacy is to shave at the gas station. “
Bill Cosby

It has been said that people use prostititutes because they can pay them to go away. If this is the case, I wish I was wealthy, so I could pay my wife and three daughters to let me go to the bathroom.

There are certain realities you concede when you get married and have children.

1) I’ll never have abs. Ever. There’s always birthday cakes, anniversary dinners, quick stops at fast food joints because the kids are starving from being in the car and cookouts to celebrate something.

2) It will never be quiet in my house. If it is quiet in my house, I won’t enjoy it or get used to it. There is a 34 year old wife with a great personality, a 15 year old daughter who thinks melodrama is the new black, a 7 year old daughter who put the E in energetic, and a sweet 6 year old daughter who has two voices – loud and louder. There’s also a 98 pound boy golden retriever and two kittens. My house sounds like an airplane hanger.

3)  I will always be embarrassed. No matter what I get used to – bra shopping, monthly female issues, friends who are boys trying to push up on my girls, random nudity, burping, emotional outburts; these women know how to push my buttons and bring out the blush face.

One thing I just can’t deal with is the lack of privacy. I have written extensively about how friggin weird I am. The whole “robot-human hybrid” thing isn’t just an image or a nickname, it’s a real persona for me. One of my idiosyncracies is I don’t like to know what people are doing in the bathroom. I’m not scatalogical. I was never a little boy that thought farting and burping and grossness was funny. Whoopy cushions and flarp are funny but they’re fake. When it comes to women, I assume you are all perfect and thus the bathroom is where you get ready and take showers or baths. Unfortunately with the bunch I live with, they have no shame and they don’t care that I do.

There’s a new law in house concerning me and bathroom or as we call it, the potty. I announce when I am going in there so no one speaks to me until I’m done, regardless of function or need. Why? Well that’s because my wife and daughters only want to go into the potty when I’m in there. A couple of weeks ago, my teenage daughter, Tay, the only one with any modesty, was told by her mom, the Bobina, to go get something out of our bathroom. I didn’t announce to my wife that I had business in MY potty. The lock on that bathroom is tricky. You have to do something akin to magic to make sure the door is secure. My 15 year old bounds into the potty like she owns it and uh huh, I’m there unprotected. I’m still not over it.

My wife and kids, at the end of the day, are pretty awesome. They let me work out, play guitar, watch sports and write. I get “me” time. They also know how crazy I am. One thing they won’t do is allow ANY privacy inside our house for me when nature calls. So almost every day is my most embarrassing moment.

If you come over, knock. That’s all I’m saying.

****blogger’s note**** This is my answer to the writing challenge from ‘s prompt, “What’s You Most Embarrassing Moment?”

Today’s song is obvious. I sang Penny Lane in the car to the chagrin of my kids this morning. But this one is more appropriate. Here’s The Beatles’s She Came in Through The Bathroom Window:

Long Day

Helene’s duct tape repaired cell phone showed 3:27 a.m.  She dropped it into her sweaty blue jeans pocket and lifted the rickety elevator. Its’ creaks grew her headache. The door to her loft was open. The body of someone she didn’t know blocked her entry .  She shoved through until a guy in his early twenties wearing skinny jeans, eyeliner, and the waft of beer, got up, then fell into her ripped baby blue beanbag.

Helene stepped over empty pizza boxes and dirty clothes. The echoes of kicked liquor bottles bounced off the bare dingy walls. She went to the closest bathroom. The broken mirror over the sink revealed dark circles under her eyes and a perpetual frown. Helene looked for aspirin but found only a newly filled penicillin prescription made out to her roommate, Darcy Bridges. She peered into Darcy’s room and saw her half naked, asleep, in the arms of a man.

Her head pulsed as she walked in her room. She turned to lock the door but the lock was broken.

“Damn everything!”

Helene peeled off her boots and damp socks then fell into her dingy twin sized bed. She reached into her backpack and took out the mail she picked up downstairs. The second envelope read eviction notice. Darcy hadn’t paid rent in two months.  Helene rolled over in bed throwing closed fists into the air. A large cockroach scurried out of the boxsprings. Helene shuddered. The business card she was given in the bar rubbed against her waist.  Helene took out her broken phone and dialed. He answered on the second ring.

“Hey, it’s Helene Troy. You said you’re a night owl so is this cool?.”

He laughed and turned down some innocous background pop music.

“I’m working, Helene. I ‘m in the studio til 6 in the morning with a couple of players. It’s on 12th avenue above the Kippers bakery, across from the Fire Station. The building number is 23. It’s the loft on the top floor. We’re just playing. You want to come over a make some music?”

The question seemed unsettling to a normal person. To a starving musician who soon would have no place to live,  the inquiry fit.

“Yeah, I’ll bring my acoustic and some notebooks of stuff I’ve written. I’ll be there in 20 minutes.”

Helene gathered her backpack, boots and guitar case. She walked through the loft over to the tiny kitchen area. Inside the refridgerator were two Pabst Blue Ribbon quart sized beers.

“Oh good god, she brought hipsters over.”

She picked up one of the quarts, opened it with her teeth, and began guzzling. The guy in skinny jeans on the beanbag rose. He scratched his wild black hair and looked at Helene.

“Where am I?”

Helene kept drinking and stared at his unkemptness. She placed the beer on the counter and took out a small pocket knife from her backpack.

“My apartment, uninvited by me. Get out before you bleed out.”

He grumbled something vulgar and walked away from the loft. She put the knife away. Beer started filling her throat again. She felt her edginess leaving. Helene ignored another cockroach crawling across the kitchen area floor. She finished the quart and walked out. She took the stairs to avoid the unwanted houseguest in the elveator. Helene made it to the building side door and opened it to into the street.

 The coolness of the early morning relaxed her as much as the beer. She took the pocket knife out of her backpack, curled it up in her left hand, and walked, pensively into the darkness.

*blogger’s note*-  Here is my response to The Red Dress Club’s Red writing Hood challenge – write 600 words on something out of your comfort zone. This is part of something I’m working on. Right now it’s the beginning of  a short story or a novella about a female indie rock musician. You can also read it here: I’m a music freak and just started learning electric guitar. So, there’s part of the motivation.

Today’s song was what prompted the tone of this. I play Long Day by Matchbox Twenty at least 3 times a week. Helene probably would too. Here’s Long Day-

>Shimmer in the Sand

I ran away from home for the first and only time when I was 36 years old. It was Thanksgiving, and I didn’t feel thankful. I felt lost, resigned, and alone.

I packed two bags and wrote a goodbye letter. I left it on the kitchen counter of the house I rented from my family. I was hoping they would come by without calling, find the note, and thus allow me to have an excuse for leaving my life.

Two months earlier, I sat in a courtroom and watched who I was, die. When the judge rendered her verdict, I left that person and wandered aimlessly, disconnected, for weeks.

Thanksgiving came quickly and I accepted an offer from a longtime friend, to meet in Key West and do as Ernest Hemingway did when he resided there; drink.

The day I left, my friend called and said he couldn’t make the trip. The person I left in the courtroom would have unpacked his bags, felt sorry for his loneliness, and sulked until something ridiculous came along to distract him. The purgatoried me got in my car, and drove 13 hours.

I stopped at a gas station near the beach in Miami. While my car took fuel, I walked a hundred yards and stood in the middle of the shore and contemplated staying there or even going back home. I realized what those choices would be a metaphor of, so I kept going.

I made it to the Keys. The motel shanty I chose, for price, was pathetic looking. It was dingy and unkept. The screen door was broken. There was a grill outside on the tiniest patio you could imagine. The beach, though, was 30 feet away.

Two days later, Thanksgiving came. I grilled a steak medium rare, which was apropo for my zombie state. I ate while the waves rolled in and the sound calmed my anxiousness. By my third beer, I decided to walk the 30 feet and try the ocean water, despite the 55 degree temperature. Before I reached the tide, I noticed how warm the beach was, so I removed my shoes and socks. I sat down on the berm, and felt the texture of the tan grains. I had a beer in my left hand and I poured a tiny amount into the ground and then ran the pebbles over the wet spot. The symbolism made me smile for the first time in two months, perhaps much longer; I let go.

A little beer, a good steak, a cool breeze, and some warm sand changed me. I changed myself. I went home the next day and tore up that goodbye letter. I’ve never written another one.

I’ll never forget that Thanksgiving. I became thankful for who I was, and who I am.

*blogger’s note* – This is a writing exercise inspired by blogger friends at Sluiter Nation. The matriarch, Katie, has a writer’s blog, called The Red Dress Club – I, nor my current wife, have a red dress, but I do have a sand memory. She asked me to write about it.

Today’s song is special to me. It was playing when and on the day this memory occurred. The “she” in the song is what I call my conscience, my morality, my essence. She spoke to me a lot that day. Here’s one of my favorite songs, Shimmer by Fuel…

Dude Write