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Saturday 1/28/23

I finished a story called "To the Wrist." I'm taking longer than ever to officially say a story is done now. I'm going through them when they're essentially done probably around 100 times. It's just something I've been doing for the last couple months. It's a fiction thing. I'm also going back into other stories and seeing if anything needs to be done, as with "Net Drive," which remains ongoing. Any time I wish, I can sign off on twenty stories. But I'm spacing them out, and I am going systematically.


"To the Wrist" is a story that takes part in portions. The first portion introduces us to the two friends of the story, Martin and Perry. They're young in this first section--probably teenagers. High school age. Maybe eighteen. Maybe sixteen. We can tell that they're well-to-do. Their names suggest as much and there are other things throughout the story. Perry is a doctor. He has what is termed an estate. Life being life, Martin is likely not a blue collar worker. But I'm not going to tell you all of this, like any other writer would. It's going to be in there. The reader is a part of this, too. A writer doesn't dictate to the reader. They are both involved.


In the first section, Perry makes a bawdy joke about Martin's mother--his stepmother. The way boys do. The opening line is, "First I'd prime her with my Crisco-coated fist." We get a reference--which is also some foreshadowing--to hunting on Martin's side, in his thoughts, but it's also within the jocular context. There's this subtle--but evident--qualifier that lets us know. We're seeing these friends with each other. How they are with each other. We're getting the start of a timeline for the friendship. The life of the friendship. The lives of these men. Who they are together, and who they are and how they change as people.


The next section is twenty-five years later. So they're what now? In their forties? Again, I'm not here to tell the reader that. It's in there. You don't dictate to your reader. You make sure they're a part of what is happening. It's a winter day, in the forties. Martin's nephew has died recently, or been reported dead recently. He was one of those kids who gets reported missing. We see it all the time with college-aged kids and young adults. Then they're found, and they've been dead for a while. That's what has happened to Martin's nephew. They're talking about it. Maybe that's why they got together on this day. They're working together, building a smokehouse at the edge of Perry's lawn, where it meets the forest. A friend helps you build something. And friends find what I think of as "unofficial" ways to talk, in unofficial settings. Especially friends who are close, but perhaps have to find indirect ways to open up with each other. We don't get hardcore penetrating language from Perry, but we are privy to the meaning these two friends read into what each other says. They speak with shorthand with each other. We're aware that intent is more important than drawn out words. Even the words themselves. We become almost a part of their friendship, by what we witness and are in upon.


The next section is when Perry is a grandfather. He's a young grandfather. His grandson is a football star in middle school. College coaches are already aware of him. Then he gets paralyzed in an on-field injury. It's two-and-a-half years later before he can piss on his own, the "regular" way again. Perry used to have these big Super Bowl parties at his house. We intuit that it's this nice spread. He's the host. The entertainer. Probably has a massive TV. After his grandson got hurt, he quashed the parties. They were all done. I don't tell you why, but why do you think? Again, you don't announce that. Every other writer has to announce it, because it's not in there. Organically in there. It has to be, though. But now the grandson wants to come over and watch the game, so there is going to be a party that year. Martin is there early, helping set up. They're having a couple shots of whiskey, when Perry makes a confession to his friend. We see how Martin handles it and what they do.


The next section finds Martin and Perry deer hunting in the woods. So this could be a week later. It could be five years later. Ten. They're still active men. They hear a shot. They make a joke about never having the woods to yourself. Then they hear a series of screams from a man, and they come upon a hunting accident, a tragedy. Perry being a doctor does what he can, and Martin ends up having to do something else.


Then we get the last section. Perry is at Martin's funeral. He's standing behind the pews at the back of the church, because he feels that if he sits down, he's going to have a hard time getting up again. We see Perry after outside the church talking to Martin's wife, as the kids of Martin's kids run around in these tight circles, chasing each other. He says something he regrets. He regrets the place and the timing. His pain gets the better of him--to his noble standard, with this friend. Probably his friend's widow isn't seeing it that way at all. But we're in Perry's head now. We're experiencing what he's experiencing. We learn what the last conversation these two men had with each other was. It was four days ago in the hospital. They knew it was going to be their last conversation. There's some prose I really like here. "They sat in the deep silence that surrounds all true things. They spoke, as friends do, when words won’t. They remembered." Do you see what that does? That shuts the sound off in the story. What that means is there can now be dialogue, and so long as it happened in the past, and we recognize it, it won't be anything that we understand as being said aloud at that moment in the story. The words are remembered. So now we go back to that first conversation where we met these two men as kids. The conversation isn't exact in the words that do reoccur; memory doesn't work that way. It's a little off. And there's an add-on now, that we didn't see before, and that ends the story.


Now, the whole thing is 1300 words. That's it. Or I should say, "That's it." Because there's no real that's it about it, right? It's kind of a lot, yes? How do you classify that? How do you measure that? How do you measure the length? What is the accurate label? There really aren't any. It's its own thing. It could go into Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives. I don't know. It could go into a later volume of what could be a series of books like that.


I've been working on two huge projects for the site. One is the links, the other I won't say right now. I spend a couple hours at least each day on each of them. The second major project is 84% of the way done. I'll go into what it is when it's all done.


Today I walked three miles, did 100 push-ups, and did three circuits in the Monument. I've done some kind of workout every day for over a week now. Usually I'll take a day off. I haven't. One day I walked eight miles. Every day I've done anywhere from 100 to 300 push-ups. Three days I ran 5000 stairs at City Hall. Two of those days I did the big stairs and the short stairs around the corner. Just to mix it up. Yesterday I ran three miles on flat ground. Wednesday and Thursday I did three circuits in the Monument. The time is inconvenient for me--by 1 in the afternoon, there's a good chance I've already worked for seven or eight hours--but I've been making it happen.


There is so much to do. It's hard to always have to do so much at once. To feel like I need to do everything at the same time. I need to get this site done, this Beatles thing squared away, and get into the novels. Any one thing I do would be far more than any author does in total. I worked on two other stories today. I wrote a Beatles op-ed. I have to fix that a bit.


I don't have the luxury, while I'm in this hell, of just doing one thing. I don't know what will spring me from hell. It could be anything. But the chances of it being that one thing I'm doing all alone is nil to the point of basically zero. So I have to maximize the chances. I have to do this journal. Do you know how much work this journal is? This is what I do "after" the real work and "between" the real work. But it's integral. It has to be done. It's a part of the solution, I believe.


I made some peppermint tea. I will have that now. It helps the body recover, in addition to being good for blood pressure.



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