Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Exporting Your Demons (Short Fiction)

Hey Guys!

So, 303  Magazine recently published a short story by yours truly. The piece is my attempt to pay homage to what Charles Dickens achieved with A Christmas Carol, and the message he had for England at that time. As an import from his land, to America, I've observed this country from inside and out and felt it was time for America to hear the same message (of course not quite as eloquently put as Mr. Dickens). So this is my message to America. Enjoy!

Also this piece had an added bonus, it afforded me the excuse to work with friend, collaborator, artist  Nick Runge again. Nick's comic work has been a source of inspiration to me for quite sometime (http://rungeart.blogspot.com/), especially when he's interpreting my crazed mess of panels. Once again Nick has out done himself with an amazing painting that captures the feel of the piece, hitting the right tone without trampling all over the events in the story. He is a true talent and I'm proud to have worked with him again. What's next buddy?

Here's an excerpt from the piece (P.S. my blog formats it all weird):

They say it never rains in LA.

As I trudged through the unseasonable Californian downpour, my groceries didn’t appreciate the irony of this statement anymore than I did. I cursed my bleeding-heart liberal sensibilities for choosing the paper sacks as they began to dissolve in my arms. Then I realized, plastic would be worse still. Not only would I have to carry the guilt, but the water would just pool around the pack of Oreo’s at the bottom of the bag, symbolizing Al Gore’s tears.

Pulling my jacket tight over my mouth, I hunkered down for the last block, trying to hold onto my collection of brand name food-items. At least they wouldn’t get wet, what with their cleverly designed packages, doubling as an advertising billboard and fortified frontline from those of other companies.

Closing the door of my apartment with my heel, I fumbled up and down the wall with my shoulder, like a bear scratching his back, as I searched for the light-switch. Blind in the darkness my other senses heightened, and that’s when I heard it, a brittle snapping; dry scratching like someone shelling peanuts.

Abandoning the wall and groceries, I stepped across the room, searching with outstretched hands for the lamp on a small table against the opposite wall. Not yet two thirds of the way across, my destination clicked and illuminated much of the space.

“It’s a disaster, my boy, just a disaster!”

A figure sat in the chair next to the lamp.  He crossed his thin, black-clad legs, deftly maneuvering his cane to adjust to their new position.

“The answers aren’t clear anymore, you understand?” The figure continued. “Evolving has never been our strong suit.”

My mind began to reel for any sane explanation. I had obviously caught some nasty strain of virus either from that Goth Girl supermarket clerk who had handed me my change, or on the soggy walk home.

The figure sat slightly forward, the light from the lamp catching his monocle. “I’m sorry, I have been ever so rude. You know who I am, yes?”

I nodded and fell back into the chair opposite. If I had believed what I was seeing I would have brought up the fact that he never talked in the commercials, but of course hallucinations don’t have to follow protocol, just as dreams need not follow reason.

His top-hat, I noticed, sat perched on the table next to the lamp. It made sense, which scared me even more, even if I hadn’t heard him speak before he had always seemed a gentleman holding to the old traditions of polite society.

“We don’t know what to do. Everyone is in a state over the situation.”

I couldn’t believe I was about to give into my delirium, but his words struck me as odd… as odd as a fictional character strikes someone, I suppose.

“What situation?” I asked.

“America is dying, my boy,” he stated as bluntly as if it were as plain as the sharp “S” of a nose on his face.

 “And, if it does, then what happens to us?”

He talked and I listened. I listened as he explained his fears, but fears that he always framed as “theirs”. Fears of the changing landscape of the American Dream.

 I listened as a river of melted strawberry ice-cream wound its way from the neglected grocery sacks and around my feet.

I listened as he wound his own way down through their “predicament”, a description he favored, until he reached a natural conclusion, the way a good one-way debate should.

“We fear change. We fear doubt. Above all we fear uncertainty. It is not something America sells, sir,” he said, almost rising from his seat.

“More will come,” he continued. “They are afraid and look for someone to pay attention. Show them as kind courtesy as you have shown me and you may provide a portion of the comfort they seek,” he finished.

I would have put up some sort of protest but he stood, replacing the top-hat on his head and said, “Give them comfort.” And with that he turned off the lamp on the table and was lost in it...

Want to read more? Read the whole piece in the digital version of the magazine at the link below:


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