I'll say this in my best Chad the meathead voice: "This is crazy good, bro." "This" being this excerpt from the story I began this morning, called "The Krait."
Want to know something crazy? There are actually several parts of crazy to this, with different implications. Yesterday I was at Cafe Vittoria reading (rereading, as it were, J. Jefferson Farjeon's Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story, from 1937), and making notes on some of what I must do, in short order, and blog notes (for I am so thorough, when I have you bang to rights, and I only move on you when I have you bang to rights and can be thorough) for those who will be lit up on here and exposed in all of their bigoted, anti-glory, and I got to counting.
I got to counting how many works of short fiction I have composed over two different stretches. Those works are of all manner of lengths, styles, modes of fiction, freshly invented modes of fiction. That thing where someone says, "Eh, the way you write, doesn't work here," does not itself work here, because I write an endless amount of ways. Ain't no house style. There is just pure invention, from work to work. My man Farjeon, he does the same thing, more or less, each time out (though his novels with his Ben the Tramp character are a bit different, given how Ben speaks).
And it's great. But it is one thing. You could say, for instance, if you had an "experimental" literary journal, that, hey, Farjeon, we can't use what you do. And he'd be like, "cool, I get that, I see it."
Me? You can't do it. In here, in my great bag of works, I have everything. I have every kind. So like I said, I was counting. One sees the nonfiction, of course. There will be a piece out tomorrow in the highest circulation paper in this country. Three other pieces ran over the last week. Four nonfiction pieces in like eight days seems a lot, no?
Pretty typical here, but my typical will get you hated. Because these people, they don't do that. They can't do that. Even with everything handed to them. They don't sweat blood pitching someone for three years trying to get a response to write the thing they are more qualified to write than anyone else in the world, which will be better written than anything by anyone who writes for that person.
They are getting what they get because of the schoomze. "Hey, you should do this for us," and "Okay, yeah, I will, what a nice party we are at. I am glad I am like you." "I am glad I am like you." "This is how we get everything done." "Yes, it is."
So, they don't like to see the work coming out. They don't like to see the range of it, the quality. But man, then they see all of the fiction. Gets even worse.
I have composed seventy-four works of short fiction going back to June 2018. Which was the same month this blog launched. This blog is now a tick under 500 entries. What do you think about that? Factor in the novel, the nonfiction. It's kind of disturbing, isn't it? I mean, it's unsettling.
In July of this year, I composed "Fitty," a story which changed me as a human, an artist; it changed me--my own work and the creation of it--as much, or more, than anything else ever has, and those who read these pages, or know me personally, know I have been through some extreme things, that changed me--or necessitated me changing me--an enormous amount.
Since composing "Fitty" in July of this year, a story that would improve the fortunes of the venue that prints it, impact lives, maybe even save lives in the literal sense with what is an ongoing national tragedy, and make so many people talk and take notice, I have composed, in full, fifty-three short stories.
This does not count this story here, which is in progress, or the ten other stories that are simultaneously in progress. Nor the twenty stories I have mapped out in my head.
Seems like maybe this should not be cause for hate, suppression, and blackballing? Unless an industry is the most evil, twisted, backwards industry there has ever been? Seems pretty clear-cut, no?
What does it tell you about this industry, that the person who can do this, all of this, is the most hated person in it?
Now, someone who wishes to hate, might say, "It tells me he is the biggest asshole ever!!!!!!" Okay. Settle down. But it seems, does it not, there there is a voluminous record--voluminous being an understatement--which we can all see, we can all read, of this individual's personality, their make-up, their character, their ethics, how they are, how they truly are, in far more words, day in, day out, than one could put forward, without revealing their true self, just as they could not fashion those words, day in, day out, and not fail to betray a bad make-up, a twisted agenda, a vein of evil, an assholishness, they wished to keep under wraps.
Everything here is pretty damn plain. It's as plain as anything can be. What the work is, what I am, what is happening, what this system is about, how the people in it are.
Here's the excerpt:
Corrina watched the young man ride into the neighborhood on his bicycle, noting how he looked like an extension of metal—an additional bolt of silver extending from the tire spokes. He was not a young man, but rather a boy that adults did not feel comfortable calling a boy. His name was Hector and Corrina was terrified of him, as was every child in the neighborhood.
They were terrified of his yard, too, though everyone wanted to go there and be with Hector, impress him, be one of his closest friends. Animals roamed about the junk, the frames of cars ripped for parts, hunks of box-springs as if they were Saltine crumbs tumbled from a giant’s mouth; milk carton crates with melted plastic edges, bean cans like oxidized, avant-garde sculptures on a theme of diminished buoyancy, the commission having gone to the artists known as BB and buckshot fire. There were goats and chickens, a hutch of rabbits and rabbits who came and went as they chose, though they never ranged far from the vicinity of the hutch, as if keeping their comrades company and providing reports on the fluctuating temperature of the ground—a going concern for those possessed of scut.
They were terrified of the yard because of an old bookshelf made of walnut wood. The bookshelf had been sealed over with a board. The shelves were deep and Hector had cut a hole the size of a fist in the board that sealed the bookshelf and made it into something that was not a bookshelf. Terrariums with turtles and lizards rimmed the yard. Hector didn’t feed the animals, but they never seemed to die. Corrina wondered if they got what they needed from the rainwater. The terrariums had no tops. Perhaps there was sufficient nourishment from bugs who got too close. There were snakes that Hector handled, lofting their particolored forms from their containers, threading them through his fingers, or around the sinews of his forearm—sinews enfolding sinews. They were like bent versions of the bike spokes.
Corrina did not have any friends in her neighborhood. When she targeted someone she wanted to try and make her friend, she would begin to like what they liked. It didn’t matter if she had not liked whatever that thing was—philately, Minecraft, gossip, setting small objects on fire, kissing other girls—because friendship was the goal. Her father ran many miles to have a healthy heart before he had his first heart attack, not because he liked running, but because he wanted a result. He was okay now. He just couldn’t run and had to make sure to take a pill at the same time every morning, though sometimes he forgot, because it is hard to remember something every day.
Her friend Luisa wanted to see her undress when Corrina was trying to make sure that Luisa stayed her friend, so she did. Then she wanted to touch her, and Corrina did not say no, but Luisa would not speak to her again after that afternoon when her mother had not been home except to tell Corrina that she was fat and had too much hair. But she was very thin, she knew that, and often it was hard to eat more than a few bites at meals. She was conscious of the wasted motion of her body when she ate alone. At home, at school, where she had half a lunch table to herself.
Hector said there was a krait inside of the bookcase that he had covered over with the board—two boards, in fact, lest the krait escape. It was a very poisonous snake. Small, but that made it more dangerous. No one was sure whether to believe him, but nobody didn’t believe him either. He would say, “if you don’t believe me, put your hand in the hole.” He laughed but he was angry. No one would put their hand in the hole, and eventually everyone realized how much they believed Hector and no one remembered a time when they looked at the bookshelf and did not think the krait was within.
They talked about who would be first, if anyone would dare. Luisa’s mother was a nurse, and she would be close by if she was not working. She had saved Corrina’s father when he had his second heart attack at the block party. He had stopped running by then. He dropped his sandwich as he fell. Corrina had heard her mother and father arguing about Luisa’s mother in the past. “You do too look at her that way, I know what went on,” Corrina’s mother had said, which was not like her. She liked to be very sure—very, very sure—before she said anything that someone else might call a claim or a charge. “So what? It’s only a dick,’ her father had said, which Corrina had not understood, being only five or six at the time, and her father had had much to drink, which was common for him before he turned to a healthy life and started running.
But she noted how her father made a joke, even as he lay on the ground, his plate, the pretense of a napkin, and what remained of his sandwich scattered around him on the pavement, Luisa’s mom opening up his shirt. “Too much pork,” he said, gasping, then passing out.