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Sundry Musings

Flash Fiction Challenge…

….from the incomparable Chuck Wendig at Terribleminds. Go here (his site) for this wonderful prompt. Here is my particular take from Inspirobot. What is that you say? Well, just go over to Chuck’s wonderful page and you’ll find out.

Anyway, here is my story, generated by said Inspirobot prompt. Feel free to leave a comment.

Thank you.

Paul

 

Inspirobot: “First the problem, then the sound.” (exactly 1,000 words)

Lee would definitely say he was in one hell of a predicament. First of all, he had no fucking idea where the hell he was. Secondly, it was pitch black and very quiet. He couldn’t hear a damn thing, save his labored breathing and rapid heartbeat.

Lee could not see a damn thing in front of his eyes, and he was quite certain they were open. But then again, given his present Stygian world beyond his dilated staring orbs, a sense of doubt entered his heightened soul. A sense of doubt—and dread.

Where in Christ’s name was he? How the hell did he get here? He tried to recall where he had been before he awoke to this dark nightmare, who he had been with, what could possibly have led him here to this hideous midnight realm.

“Ok, Lee, calm down, for chrissakes. Gettin’ all het up ain’t goin’ to help.” Talking to himself gave him a moment of calm. Yet the dread lingered. It felt like the time he snorkeled in the Bahamas, and his friend decided to head for shore for more beer, leaving him out in open water. Alone, with nothing beside, above, or below him but ocean. Surfacing, he had the awful feeling some unseen creature was circling him, silently narrowing its approach, waiting for the right moment to strike, with a maw filled with razor-sharp teeth.

‘First the problem’ suddenly popped in his mind, something his 10th grade algebra teacher said with frequency. Mr. Luce had stood before the chalkboard, writing an impossible formula down with his right hand while rubbing his left through his thinned white hair, leaving streaks of yellow on his forehead. He had a habit of rocking back and forth and, when he finally turned around to the chalkboard, had yellow chalk streaks all over his ill-fitting store rack suit.

‘Okay, Lee, first the problem,’ he said to himself as he reached into the darkness, searching for anything out there but the floor. He felt nothing. The silence was starting to get to him as well. How could there not be any noise, besides his own trembled breathing and thumping heart?

He dared not stand up. Better to crawl around, slowly, and reach out for anything that might be out there. “Where the fuck am I?” he asked into the void. “Hello! Is there anyone out there?” he said and chuckled, recalling the line from a Pink Floyd song.

Then he heard a sound.

“Is…is there anyone in here?” he asked, hoping whatever made that brief sound was indeed a person. “Hello?…”

He stopped. Again that sound. Off to his left. In the distance. How fucking big was this room? If it was a room. He had no idea.

Lee froze and listened, breathing shallow and trying to get his goddamn heart rate down.

There it was, a low scraping sound. Only closer. To him. He dared not utter a word. Who knew if whatever made that sound was even friendly. He regretted asking if anyone was out there. He should have said any ‘thing’.

Another sound. This time, off to his right, like a clatter of claws on concrete.

Something whizzed by his head, a flutter of wet leathery wings, strong and powerful.

Lee sat down and slowly moved backward, scuttling along on his butt, reaching out behind him, feeling for anything at all.

A sudden low moan erupted out of the dark, and then a high-pitched anguished wail.

He had enough. “Hello!’ he yelled into the void. “Okay, enough is enough! Joke’s over. C’mon, let me outta here!”

Silence.

‘Damn it’, he thought. ‘I gotta get out.’ He stood up shakily and tried to get his balance, wondering how in hell blind people managed to maneuver.

He shuffled forward—and stopped.

That mewling sound, like something wounded—or hungry—was closer.

The hairs on his neck stood erect. The fear coursed through his skin, a sixth sense that some thing was behind him, hovering over his shoulders, something large and foul and terrible.

Lee stayed rooted in place, his breath ragged. In the darkness he could sense the creature inching closer, could feel its rank hot fetid breath, the wetness of jaws and teeth working before feasting on flesh. His flesh.

The stench of rotted meat edged closer to his neck, muzzle open wide, the click of talons ready to shred, claws grazed his nape—

Lights suddenly flooded his eyes. The nightmarish experience was over.

“Helluva a trip you had there, Buddy!” Kevin laughed, offering him an ice cold beer.

“Jesus,” Lee exhaled. “ Damn! That was real! I…I thought I was going to have a heart attack.”

“I told you, didn’t I? The new virtual reality is sick.”

Lee got up and headed to the john. Standing at the sink washing his hands, he felt a burning sensation on his neck. He craned his neck to get a better look.

Near his carotid was a long red streak, a scratch made by…what? Maybe the new VR wasn’t all that virtual. Maybe something did happen to him.

He left the bathroom and went to the kitchen to fetch another beer.

“Hey, Kevin,” he called out. “Ready for a frosty?” He cracked two longneck Coors and walked toward the living room. “Kev, I—”

He dropped the beers, the bottles hitting the floor, suds flowing over the bamboo floors. Lee’s eyes widened, the scene before him incomprehensible.

Sprawled on his La-Z-Boy, Kevin was in no condition to answer. The VR goggles still covered his eyes, but his throat…his throat was torn and bloodied, flaps of raw skin plastered on the chair and Kevin’s shredded shirt.

As Lee edged closer, he heard a faint sound coming from the console. He strained to listen and then he heard it; a low mewling wet sound, a smacking of lips, and then the horrible scrape of claws on concrete, a faint cackle, receding in the distance.

Copyright Paul Grignon-2017

 

 

 

 

Writer’s Digest Conference-2017

Quite unexpectedly, and certainly out of the azure, my lovely wife Julie surprised me with a 50-‘ish’ birthday present: a full ticket to attend the writer’s conference in New York come August! Here’s the link.

I was wholly surprised, elated–and nervous. She also included the feverish ‘Pitch-Slam’ event where, for a full 90 seconds you can pitch your book to various agents. Imagine that; a minute-and-a-half to encapsulate your entire novel, something akin to the ol’ elevator pitch.

I am very excited and grateful for this opportunity and, as stated above, just a little nervous. Well, a lot. What this has taught me is that I better get my buttocks in gear and really develop that pitch, as well as a slew of other things necessary in order to be prepared for this event.

I have been reading a welter of information about attending conferences, what to expect, making sure to be early at all the sessions, a myriad of things to focus on prior to August 18th.

If anyone out there has attended any writing conferences, please do drop me a few helpful hints. Thank you. In the mean time, I will fine-tune my delivery and make sure my manuscript is polished and ready.

A lot ahead in the coming months. I look forward to being prepared and having a good time in New York that weekend.

Perhaps I shall see you there!

 

Ushering in 2017…

Yes, ’tis been a while since I have been here last. Not that I’ve not been writing, mind you. I participated in NANORWRIMO  last year, coming up short with 33,000 words. But still, it provides fine fodder for my next novel. Now to really buckle down in the new year and get my first book out there.

It’s funny and sad in a way, how last year I eagerly purchased the brand-new Writer’s Digest Market, Deluxe edition no less, and what did I do with it? I think I perused a few chapters, read a few pages, randomly searched publishers and such, but is that any way in getting results, to find an agent? That would be a resounding no.

And on that note do I write here, for all to see and bear witness, that in the year 2017 I solemnly promise to pursue my dreams of getting published and to work on a myriad of other ideas, all projects that have been, for far too long, simmering on the back burner. (You’d think by now it would be nothing but a burnt sludge at the bottom. But no, I still hear a few bubbles percolating within, a veritable cauldron of dreams waiting to be unleashed and consumed.)

On that note, for all you other writers who have also been absent from your own blog, may I tempt you with a writing prompt from my good friend Eric Alagan, a wonderful chap who resides many miles distant but an individual who has a fabulous site and equally kind words for all who deign to stop by his magnificent blog.

Go here and participate in his latest exercise, something to get the creative juices flowing and perhaps, like me, will allow you to settle in a chair and compose a simple post.

Best wishes to all out there, and may your own writing endeavors prove most fruitful in the new year.

As Tennyson wrote in his poem “Ulysses”:

‘Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.’
Take care, and keep on writing,
Paul

Happy Birthday, Dad!

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Eighty-four years ago a man was born in Flushing, New York. He married young, at age 22, fresh out of the Air Force, with a promising career as a civil engineer. But with the first child born, and then twins right after, that dream was dashed.

This man was my father, who died six years ago today. Six long years. And yet every morning I still say hi to him, wish him well, hoping that he’s doing okay in whatever dimension he resides, smoking a cigar right down to its wet spinach stub and cradling a glass of chardonnay.

My Dad’s passing was the first time in my life I experienced a close death. I guess I was lucky over the years, through my thirties and forties, never witnessing a death, never having been to a wake or funeral.

That all changed six years ago, when my dear Dad died from—what was assumed—a massive heart attack. Who knows? There was no autopsy. Christ, there wasn’t even a wake or funeral. It was as though this man who lived and breathed on this beautiful blue planet suddenly vanished, with no fanfare at all.

He was whisked away, only to be subsequently burnt to ashes in a matter of days, still wearing the golf shirt, overly long shorts, and tennis shoes he wore when he died. I never did give him a proper good-bye. I tried, but when I called the funeral home, the woman informed me that “I’m sorry, Honey. He’s on his way to the crematorium.”

I remember that day, six years ago on August 10th, when my brother from Florida called me and told me that Dad had died.

I was floored. I didn’t believe it. I was pissed, angry, confused, bewildered. I ran into the backyard, bent to the ground on both knees, and wept, big, wet wracking sobs.

To this day I still cannot fathom that he is…gone.

Dad, even though some family members have said in the past for me to get over it, I still greet you every single morning with a hearty hello and plant a kiss on the portrait I did of you. The picture above was taken a day before he died, on Friday the 13th, 2010.

Or who really knows? It could have been August 14th, the morning my Mum returned from vacationing in Maine, where my Dad was just there the day before. She found him lying face up, his legs resting on a chair in the living room, as though he was doing sit-ups, lying there staring at the ceiling, his last gaze probably looking at the years-old resin stain from countless Christmas trees dragged and hoisted into the room. Maybe he thought, with his last dying breath, he wondered how he could get rid of that stain, having not seen it from this angle lying on the floor.

And then he released his last breath.

How do I feel on this momentous day, the sixth anniversary of my father’s death? I am still angry. I still miss him. Terribly.

I love you, Dad, and wish you much comfort. Know that at least this offspring, one of seven, still think of you—every single day.

Happy 84th Birthday, Pops!

With much love,

Paul Harry

 

© Paul Grignon – 2016

All Rights Reserved

Christ the Redeemer…and Gold Medal Winner!

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Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Corcovado, Christ the Redeemer

He rises 125 feet into the sky, arms outstretched, welcoming the world to the Rio Olympics.

But after standing up there on Corcovado for the past 85 years, watching all the glowing bodies swarming the sands below, Jesus decided to spend a few days on Ipanema beach, catching a few rays and going for a few practice swims.

Later on, at the Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre, he got ready for the big event. Donning rather unique-looking bathing trunks, he stood on the 3-meter platform, tanned and buff.

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I captured this moment just before he bounced off the springboard, performing his signature move, a 4 ½ somersault pike with a twist, with a slight hover at the end.

Announcer #1: “Wow! Jesus really nailed it! I’ve never seen anything like it! It…it’s almost as if he was defying gravity.”

Announcer #2: “Or deifying gravity, as some would say.”

I managed to ask him a question at the end, as he slipped out of the pool.

“Your entry was otherworldly. How do you account for your extraordinary skills?”

“Well, I’d like to thank Father, for all my dad-given talents. Without his support, I’d probably still be a carpenter. I love ya, Dad!” And then he walked away beaming, as though a halo surrounded his hirsute visage.

Every morning, after my early walk with my dog Andi (will he soon have a female companion? More on that later) I go for a bike ride and end up at St. Annes church. There, in the quietude of trees and birdsong, I come to this statue of Christ. He resides atop a stairwell and this is where I begin a second work-out, to the consternation of rosary-beaded worriers below and a priest who drives by in his golf cart, wondering just what in tarnation this long-haired guy is doing, running up and down the stairs beneath the gaze of Christ.

There are 68 steps to the top, and I go up and down them five times, 680 steps in all. It’s quite a workout. And then I pedal home, past the worshippers sitting quietly in the outdoor pavilion, past the votive chapel where, for $5 you can light a large candle, and down the hill to home.

Christ, fresh from his victory, with gold medal around his neck, returned to the pedestal high on the hill.

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Trust me, you’ll just have to go there and see for yourself, to witness the brilliance of sunlight reflecting off his hard-earned medal.

 

 

 

 

 

Car Buying Made Simple…

If you go back to a recent post, I mentioned my surprise of owning a new car, courtesy of my lovely bride, who worked in tandem with a wonderful fellow named Dave Brown.

He is an auto advisor, and please do check out his site here, CUautoadvisor, a company he founded.

I recommend him and his services, as it provided both Julie and me a most pleasant, stress-free car buying experience.

Mr. Brown was courteous, professional, friendly, knowledgeable, and made the vehicle purchases a simple and seamless transaction.

Why bother to peck and hunt on line to search for your car when you can go to CUautoadvisor.com and chat with Dave or his associates about buying your next car.

It would be well worth your effort to talk to him. As you can see by the photos below, I remain a happy customer.

The photo on the left is us standing in front of Julie’s new car. At that point I had no idea she was working behind the scenes getting me a vehicle as well. The photo on the right is us standing in front of my 2012 Nissan Frontier. Notice the difference in my visage. She’s a beauty, isn’t she? And the truck’s not bad looking, either.

Make your next car buying experience enjoyable. Give Dave a call and know you are in good hands.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2016, All Rights Reserved.

A Therouxly good read…

My favorite author just released a new book, his tenth travel tome. I just picked it up from the local library and cannot wait to relish his words.

I wholly recommend any book by Paul Theroux, be it one of his travels or his fiction, it doesn’t matter. He IS that good.

The book in question is ‘Deep South’, all about spending four seasons in various parts of the southern United States. The jacket blurb alone welcomes the reader into Theroux’s special insights into the traveling world.

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A note on other fine books I have recently read and recommend:

Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’, an astounding apocalyptic novel and spare in its prose. I am currently reading it for the 5th time, gleaning insights into his particular writing style, lean and tight. It helps me as I edit my own MS, an erotic dystopian love story set in the very near future. Reading McCarthy’s book makes one pause, to linger over his sentences, to embrace his choice of words.

Anything by Annie Proulx, another of my favorite authors. She has a writing style all her own, and her word play is astonishing. Just grab any book of hers off the shelf and immerse yourself in her world.

Any book by Russell Banks. I’ve read ‘Continental Drift’ and ‘Affliction’four times each, and his style and nuance never ceases to amaze, allowing me to pluck nuggets from his paragraphs.

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Getting back to Paul Theroux, though, do purchase or borrow a few of his books. From ‘Dark Star Safari’, to ‘The Lower River’, to ‘Hotel Honolulu’, all exceptional reads.

Please do let me know what authors you enjoy as well. One can never tire of reading worthy prose, and I am certainly open to welcome another author into my library.

Thank you.