“All Hallows Eve” – a short story.

By 10 pm the last of the trick-or-treaters had come and gone. I gazed up and down the street for stragglers before closing and locking the front door for the night. I put away my empty glass and gathered discarded candy wrappers for the trash bin. Then, turning off the lights, headed up to bed. Sleep came without a fight.

I can’t tell you what roused me, but I suppose it’s not really important at this point. I was wide awake. It was the middle of the night. The curtains had been drawn together tightly, preventing even the tiniest sliver of light into the room. I stared into the quiet darkness, listening. The beating of my heart ticked away the minutes. In the distance, I heard the faint sound of a lonely train clickety clacketing it’s way to parts unknown. My eyes searched for the dimmest of illumination and settled on the dim pattern of moonlight filtered through the trees and dancing on the wall just outside my bedroom. I watched the shadows of the leaves shimmer and then fade, as a cloud shrouded the moon, leaving the room enveloped in blackness. I counted the moments until the moonlight returned, briefly, then disappeared again. My eyes stared into the empty space where light once was, waiting. To track time I counted heart beats. One minute. Two. Three minutes. Four. The minutes ticked by. My eyes strained to make out the faintest light. Then, as the moonlight slowly returned, there it was.

On the wall just beyond the bedroom door, a shadow; an almost human form materialized. I don’t know how long I watched, waited, wondering. I stared, unblinking at the spectral form. I dared not move a muscle. My eyes glued to the ghostly shadow. Was I dreaming? We’ve all had those moments between sleep and wakefulness when our imagination plays tricks on us. But was this real? Was I awake? I bit down on my tongue and winced at the sharp pain. When I opened my eyes, the ethereal image was still there.

I was terrified. The drum beat of my pulse echoed in my ears. I fought to keep my breathing steady. In. Out. In. Out. I could hear him breathing, or was that me? No. The rhythm is different. Time to take stock of the situation.

I needed to keep my head, perhaps literally. If there’s someone in the hall, more than likely he thinks I’m asleep. There must be a reason that’s important. Why else would he just stand there? Then I had a thought. What if there’s more than one of them? My brain was in overdrive. My options were limited. It’s so deathly quiet, even the smallest move is bound to be heard. If he’s armed, any sudden movement on my part could be fatal. I was in a tough spot. So I watched, and waited, while the moon danced among the clouds, creating a slow, hypnotic rhythm of light and dark.

fullmoonSleep must have returned because the next thing I knew it was morning. Early sunlight washed away the haze of the night before. I chalked it up to a bad dream and made my way to the bathroom for my morning rituals. That’s when it happened. As I passed through the door to the bathroom a dark shadow enveloped me. The oppressive darkness squeezed the air from my lungs. Gasping for breath, I tried to pull myself out from under the impossibly dark veil of doom which had me in it’s death grip. This can’t be happening! This can’t possibly be real!

My oxygen deprived lungs burned. My vision dimmed. With one last ditch effort I screamed, “Please! Wake up! Why can’t I wake up?” But no words escaped my lips. In fact, nothing was heard from me again.

 

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Seducing The Muse. …more like a desperate plea.

Did you miss me? Well I missed you too!

Sorry for my absence. I promise I have a good excuse though. Well, it’s mostly a good excuse. I’ve been fighting the forces of evil with a couple of groovy friends, a stoner, and a talking dog. What? What do you mean you don’t believe me? Yeah, well it sounded good in my head.

The truth is rather boring. I’ve been having technical difficulties.

The good news is that, after scrimping and saving, and doing more research than an undergrad studying for his finals, I bought a new laptop. Yay!

The bad news is that, a few hours after finishing the final draft of “What’s Going On“, my wandering rant about race in America, my two month old laptop got the dreaded ‘blue screen’.– NOOO! Not my baby! — Needless to say I was heartbroken. Fortunately, the remedy was relatively painless. Customer service could not have handled the situation better. The woman on the phone was able to remotely diagnose the trouble. I sent the laptop to the Texas care center on the Friday before Labor Day and received it back ten days later.

Yeah. I was surprised too.

The whole reason for the laptop was to encourage me to write more. I’m one of those people that have ideas flying through my head all day long but the moment I sit down in front of the computer… nothing. Then there’s the issue of my grammar, which needs improvement. I live in constant fear of the run-on sentence so I tend to drop commas every few words in the hope that a few land in their proper place.– Even a broken clock is correct twice a day. — The point is that I wanted to start putting thoughts to paper (screen?) and thought a laptop might make it a little easier.

In high school I loved creative writing. Of course, in high school, I had English teachers who gave us direction and deadlines and… Dickens! — Sorry. Then in tech school I got to let my imagination run free. Tech school was essentially an introduction to communications. We covered the basics of radio and television. The idea was to give you enough knowledge that upon graduation you could easily find an interning position or continue your education. My dream was editing for television so that’s where I focused my energy. My specialty was short subjects. I wrote a lot of commercials. My magnum opus was a hidden camera short where I pranked our instructor. The poor guy was the target of much of our humor. He was a good sport though. He never asked us to compromise our creativity, no matter how ill conceived our ideas. Our world would be a much better place if we had more teachers like Ed Gannon.

There’s truth to the old adage, “If you don’t use it you’ll lose it”.

It’s been a long while since I’ve had to engage my imagination on a regular basis. I’ve been so preoccupied with writing big and brilliant that I forgot a few basic rules. Write, write what you know, write some more and, for God’s sake, Keep It Simple Stupid! — KISS for short.

So, for me, the trick is to try to get in the habit of writing again. That’s what this meandering mess is: an exercise to get the juices flowing, an attempt to seduce my elusive muse, to just write whatever pops into my head at this particular moment. — Even if it means boring you all to death. 😉

It’s Been A Rough Week, So…

I thought I’d share a cute video by Steve J Boyle called “I Hit Send, or Modern Meltdown“. It’s a poetry reading about Steven’s first crush, post-coming-out.

Some of the language may not be appropriate for all audiences, but it’s adorably funny.

I figured a little light humor would be good thing after such an unbelievably bad week.

Enjoy!

To Facebook or Not To Facebook

…or, Does this selfie make my ego look fat? 😛

By next month I will have been on Twitter for four years. Four years of absurd puns and double entendres, interrupted by the occasional political rant. It’s so easy to get caught up in righteous indignation that sometimes I forget why I joined twitter in the first place. — For the record, I joined twitter so I could send suggestive tweets to Craig Ferguson‘s Late Late Show. To my knowledge, he’s never read any of my tweets on air. 😦

Since 2010, I’ve joined Tumblr, I tried Blogspot (which I’ve neglected for almost two years), and somehow managed to acquire two G+ accounts. Though I only use one of them.

I chose twitter because it fit well with my personality. Facebook presents itself as this ever-growing community of “friends”. Twitter makes no such claims. On Twitter, people follow one another. No commitment is required. — unless you find yourself immersed in a hilarious hashtag game. ( anyone?) I’ve established some interesting connections on twitter. I’ve even gone so far as to exchange my real contact information with a few of them. But those connections are very casual and fluid. Something about Facebook scares me. For one thing, I’m a bit shy around people that I don’t know. Then there’s the difficulty I have reaching out to people. I find it nearly impossible to make the first move. It’s a wonder I’m in a relationship. — Now there’s a good story I’ll save for another time.– Just because the interactions happen online, rather than in person, doesn’t make them any easier.

So, Facebook.

I DO have a Facebook account. I created it last year after my Acer tablet crashed. My tablet was a year past warranty so contacting Acer through their website was impossible. After trolling through some of the android forums, I learned that this was a common issue with Acer’s Iconia A500. Several forum posters claimed to have had good results after contacting Acer through Facebook. So I created a Facebook account, Acer fixed my tablet, and I’ve been ignoring Facebook ever since.

But why?

Well, the short answer is privacy. I’ve tried very hard to maintain a certain degree of online anonymity. The last thing I want is to have all that disappear because of some piece of wayward information that gets leaked. Sure, if you dig far enough you will discover that my true identity is Bruce Wayne and then I will have to kill you. But, for the most part, I’m very happy being an anonymous entity.

Then there’s Facebook’s intrusiveness. We’ve all read the stories. People’s accounts have been hacked. Private information was collected and sold. Everything you post, tag, or like, every single mouse click, is tracked and sold to marketing companies. This happens on every site you visit but, for some reason, Facebook gets all the press.

Maybe it’s because of ALL THOSE DAMNED PERSONAL QUESTIONS!

God help you if you intentionally leave some information blank! Facebook does not like blank fields. They take it as a personal failure if you don;t answer some of their questions. I’m still being pestered with “You haven’t finished filling out your profile information!”, “Where did you go to high school?”, and “HEY! You forgot to tell us your blood type!”, notifications every time I log on. Okay. That last one was fake but Jeeze! Give it a rest! Maybe I don’t want to give you my mother’s maiden name. :\

There’s also the issue of time. I barely have enough time to keep up with WordPress. When I created ADignorantium.Wordpress, I promised myself that I would try to publish at least one post a week. If I can’t even do that, what makes me think I’m going to keep up with Facebook?

So here I am.

I changed my Facebook header to match my WordPress and Twitter headers. One must be consistent. Maybe that will encourage me to play around with Facebook. Who knows? Maybe I’ll like it.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, and G+, subscribe to my YouTube channel, pin me on Pintre...wait! I don’t have a Pintrest account! And oh, yeah… if you friend me on Facebook it might take me a little while to get back to you. 😛

Recovering very nicely, thank you.

Dear readers, the following post was intended for publishing on Friday, the seventh of February  Unfortunately, as I was recovering from surgery, my close friend Fran passed away. I’m posting it anyway, along with an addendum, because it illustrates the kind of winter I’m having. 🙂

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So… I had Lithotripsy a few weeks ago. Was it painful? Not really, but I do feel as if someone kicked me in the back. The forecast for the day of surgery was heavy rain turning into wet snow by noon. Great!  My other half was thoughtful enough to reserve a room at the small hotel where he works. So, instead of having to wait in the rain for a bus at 4:30am, we could walk just a few blocks to the hospital.

I’m fortunate to live in Philadelphia, a city that has one of the largest and best healthcare networks in the country. We have Hahnemann, Jefferson, Temple, and the University of Pennsylvania health systems all within the city limits.

I was the first patient Monday morning. Lucky me! The staff was thorough. At every step of the way I was asked to recite my name, date of birth, allergies, and the Magna Carta, then recite it all once more as I lay on the OR table. This was my fifth kidney procedure, so I’ve gotten to know most of the Pennsylvania hospital staff pretty well. One of the pre-administration lab technicians has a wicked sense of humor. I guess you’d have to if you spent your day stabbing patients in the arm in search of a good vein.

So I was laying on this strange operating table with a cutout underneath in which a water filled gel pad that emits sound waves protrudes. The doctor maneuvered me over the gel pad. The technician strapped me in. The anesthesiologist joked with me that I keep coming back for surgery because of their excellent selection of anesthetics. I don’t remember anything after the oxygen mask was placed over my face. I suspect the anesthesiologist slipped me a Mickey.

The next thing I knew, a nurse was hovering over me with a big smile. “How do you feel?” Like I want to go back to sleep. “Fine”, I said. I really did want to go back to sleep, though. I also wanted some more of whatever it was they gave me for pain. The chorus of The Floaters’ classic “Float On” comes to mind. 

“Float. Float on…”

 

After an hour or so of “recovery time”, I was wheeled out to the lobby where the reality of the day’s snow accumulation stared back at me. While waiting for a cab, we saw a bus and took it.

It was good to get home.

I made myself comfortable on the sofa to wait for love to return home from the pharmacy, bearing gifts of antibiotics and pain killers. You know when you think everything is okay, but you feel just a little off? Not anything major, just ever so slightly off center. That’s how I felt. The more I moved around, the less like myself I felt. Maybe I’d be better off laying down in bed.

Oh right… freshly cleaned sheets. YAY!

I turned on the TV, changed into some comfy clothes, and climbed into bed. That was all she wrote. I was out! Gone! I awoke the next morning stiff and achy and determined not to spend the day in bed.

I still feel a bit sore, but I’m doing well and trying not to use the pain killers too often.

Addendum…

A week later, we took advantage of the break in the snow by climbing up and inspecting the roof and gutters. Because I have a longer reach than Love, I laid down on the roof and reached over the edge to attach the Roof & Gutter De-icing Cable. As I reached and stretched, I heard what sounded like a snap, followed by a sharp pain in my rib, which was pressed against the edge of the roof. I’m not gonna lie. I panicked. After a few moments, I took a couple of deep breaths to inflate my lungs. There was pain, but nothing that indicated a broken rib.

So, if you need your walk shoveled or someone to carry your groceries in from the car, please be kind enough to ask someone else. I think I’m gonna lay low for a while. 😮

How do you know when a post is ready for all the world to see?

…or even just a few of your close, personal friends?

I’ve got a few posts in my draft folder that aren’t quite “ready for prime-time”. Each day I add a phrase, or edit a word. How do you know when they are ready for the world?

Maybe I should take a cue from the great classical composers, and release them into the world as “Unfinished” Masterpieces. 🙂

 

 

How do you suppose the characters of a book occupy their time while you’re not reading it?

In my warped mind, I imagine Alice, the Queen of Hearts, White Rabbit and Mad Hatter all sitting around drinking, smoking and playing poker until you pick up the book. At which time they hurry to bookmarked page, ready to play out the story.