This story originally appeared in, Best of Writing4All 2010.
Stereotypes are funny to me. For example, I live in Texas and have all my life. Immediately, stereotypes for Texan come to mind. Programmed ideals of a cowboy hat-wearing, gun-toting, oil-well drillin’, spur-janglin’ fellow, riding the range, herding cattle and doing sing-alongs around the campfire like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers or some other archetypical cowboy are envisioned.
I do not own a pair of cowboy boots or a cowboy hat. Jeans, polo shirt and loafers are common attire for me. I do not ride a horse on the range. I drive a Nissan Altima in rush hour traffic every day. I don’t own a gun or oil wells. I live in a suburb. I work in an office building. I shop at regular stores like almost everyone else who lives in Texas, but there are some exceptions. The few. The proud. The Redneck. Continue reading
As you may have heard, I recently came into quite a fortune. Someone has to win the lottery and despite the odds, it was me. It wasn’t because I deserved it. I certainly didn’t earn it. But I find myself now with 133 million dollars and must decide how to utilize it. I certainly have dreams and aspirations; business opportunities to invest in abound. Still, I must consider the life traveled that got me to this place and in so doing, remember those who gave me a chance.
There was a time in my career, several years ago, where I had burned a few bridges and was left remorseful for my mistakes but still accountable for them. It was a crossroads where you, as my manager, could have terminated me and rightly so. You didn’t. You gave me an opportunity to turn things around and right the wrongs. I heard you took some heat for it. Simply, you saw something in me that was salvageable and believed in my abilities. I don’t know if I ever expressed how much that meant to me but I have never forgotten it.
Simply, thank you. I dare say that I might have started on a long, downward spiral had it not been for your giving spirit and faith in me.
Enclosed is a check for 1.23 million dollars. This should leave you with one million dollars after gift taxes have been paid. I know a million dollars is not a lot these days, but with your own savings, I hope this gives you enough to pursue your dream, whatever that may be.
I wish you and your family all the happiness and success in the world. If there is anything I can do, anything at all, please do not hesitate to let my assistant know. I will be in town next month and if we can work out schedules, I would love to have dinner with you.
***** Continue reading
There are places that authors fear to tread and rightly so. Some things are taboo and off limits, even in the fictionalized place where we create our stories and taking a certain plot twist can completely lose a reader or worse, make them angry.
I have a tendency to write dark fiction and that is thin ice to tread. It’s not hard to make a wrong move. It takes scruples and sense of self to avoid it because when weaving a story (i.e., pantsing), it has a life of its own; taking a direction that almost seems to be beyond the author’s control. The story is completely in the author’s control of course, but it can sometimes feel like it has its own personae and is making choices for itself, such as having your antihero become a predator on the weak, vulnerable or trusting. Who would like Batman if he was a rapist or child molester? Rapists and Child molesters, that’s who, and no one else.
This story was originally published in 2012, in Red Fez issue 49. It also appeared in Untrue Stories, Volume One. It’s based on a writing prompt from an episode of the Writing Excuses podcast – Begin a story with the line: She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door.
I hope you like it.
She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. It’s not like boarding a plane is difficult and if ordinary people do it every day, so could Claire.
A writing Exercise from Writing Excuses episode 4.24 podcast
Concepts to use in the story: Accountant for a church, Contacts that decrease your vision, and brain implants
Exercise: Develop character(s) and conflicts using the three concepts above. It can’t be silly.
The Whole Does Not Equal the Sum
by Mitch Lavender
Better living through technology – A mantra that is repeated to the point that it is not even thought about. No one considers what it means or if they believe it. They certainly do not question it. It was the very heart of the doctrine of The Church of π.
Worth Writing About (abridged version)
By Mitch Lavender
How can I describe what it is like?
Imagine putting a plastic bag over your head and binding it closed around your neck. Then, punch a pinhole in the bag where your mouth is and try to breathe. Try to do that for two weeks straight, with a lump of stew you ate days ago sitting in your stomach. With sub-zero wind constantly buffeting you; so cold, you don’t dare expose naked flesh to it for fear of extreme frostbite. Wind so loud, you can barely hear what a person is saying, even if they stand right next to you and shout in your ear. If you can imagine this, then multiply that by ten and you will get an idea of what it is like at Base Camp 4 of Mount Everest.
As I highlighted the paragraph of my beloved story, I imagined placing my hand on the chopping block, fingers splayed. I raised the cleaver. Let it begin. I brought the cleaver down swiftly on my pinkie finger. Chop. Delete.
My carefully crafted paragraph erased, I cleaned up the extra line and read through the piece again. Holding up my hand, I saw blood spurting with every heartbeat. Now the piece is imbalanced, as the following paragraph built upon the one I had deleted. It’s got to go as well. Chop. Delete. Blood spurted from both hands.
By Mitch Lavender
I took the card from him and shoved it in my pocket without looking at it. At an event like this, people handed out business cards like they were throwing confetti. I’m nobody to these people but they don’t know that. Because I’m so disinterested, they assume that I’m important. That’s my bad. They used to call it socializing. Now, it’s networking. Now, it’s opportunity. Now, it’s as good as it gets.
His name was Dale Staire. Something in the way the incandescent light reflected off his name tag made me think of the EKG machine flat-lining in my father’s hospital room when I was twelve. I decided to look him in the eye. It was twenty minutes later that I broke free from the conversation with Dale Staire. It turns out Dale was a makeup artist (or the way he would say it, ‘artiste.’) I broke away by dominating the conversation with things I knew from the research I have documented. Things so horrible, Dale Staire was too shocked to respond. He could hardly wait to leave my company.
Darren was the first to wake. Duct-taped together with the two other unconscious men, he groggily struggled against the restraints. His angry, dilated pupils wandered up and tried to focus on me.
“This won’t stop me,” was all he said. Then his head fell back to his chest.
Was he right? Maybe none of them would stop and what I’d done wouldn’t make any difference. Maybe Darren was full of it. Maybe I didn’t care anymore. I was reminded of Josh and how things ended up for him. It wasn’t a comforting thought.
Asshat Backstabbery. Two words that are universally understood despite the fact that they do not exist in any legitimate dictionary, anywhere. I’m listing five board games that feature deception and cutthroat strategy as a key way of getting a leg up (or a knee on the throat) of your opponents. These are games where being mean and pitiless are expected but more than that, you can benefit from capitalizing on an opponent’s weakness. Lifelong friendships are ruined, families divided, and marriages crumble.