Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Story Idea

I heard a story the other day while playing golf about golf clubs being stolen right off the golf cart as the foursome was on the green putting. It happened in Las Vegas, where apparently, the economy is so bad that it's a wonder the thieves didn't steal the whole golf cart, clubs and all.

The course where this happened has fairways that run along a major highway. Thieves park their vans on the shoulder of the highway and watch for golfers who park their carts on the cart path close to the highway. When the golfers are on the green engrossed in trying to put the little white ball in the little green hole, the thieves run out from their hiding places, grab the golf bags off the carts, race back to their van, and speed off down the highway. It's likely that the golfers have left their cell phones in their golf bags, so they won't be able to call 911 until they get back to the clubhouse and by then, their golf clubs are already being advertised on Craig's List.

I am writing a short story based on this. It's about a guy who has his golf bag stolen in this way and can't let it go, because among his clubs is his favorite wedge. He buys new clubs and tries playing a few rounds without the wedge, but his game is in the toilet and just no fun anymore. He becomes obsessive about finding the wedge and begins haunting pawn shops, golf driving ranges that sell consignment clubs, Good Will stores, and the like. He also checks eBay and Craig's list, but is overwhelmed by the quantity of golf clubs being auctioned on line. He's spending all his free time hunting for the wedge and neglecting his work, his health -- everything.

The story will be about loss. It turns out that my protagonist, call him 'Jim,' has recently been divorced. His wife got the house and the pool. Jim got to keep his dog, but soon after the divorce, the dog is diagnosed with some fatal dog disease and has to be put down. In the meantime, Jim's knee has started acting up -- an old football injury -- and he has to have ACL surgery. No more mountain biking for Jim, and his ex-wife has the pool, so swimming is out. Well, he'll be damned if he's going to lose that wedge on top of everything else!

That's basically the plot and theme. I think it has promise.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sorry Honey, I'm Blogging

"I had a cat once, who, when he felt the need to clean me up, would come over to where I was sitting, put his front paws on my thigh, and stare at me with a kind of fierce desperation. If I didn’t immediately invite him into my lap, he’d dig his claws into my thigh. Hilde was looking at me that way now. Her felt need was sex. I just didn’t feel up to it. Having sex with Hilde was like extreme cagefighting without gloves. Hilde always ended up on top and her screams of ecstasy were like a Viking battle cry invoking the Norse god Wodan."

That's how my latest flash fiction piece starts out. It's about an out-of-work SW programmer who feels 'used.' Since it's only 711 words, telling you any more would be... well, redundant.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Man's Best Friend

Harry Denton was talking suicide again.
“What’s the use?” he asked. “I’m all crippled up; stuck here inside. Might as well put a bullet in my head.”
“Now Harry, don’t talk that way,” I said.
I volunteered for a church-affiliated charitable organization that called shut-ins to find out if they were okay, listen to their problems and frustrations, and offer a sympathetic ear. I’d ended up with Harry on my call list. Sometimes I dreaded calling him. What do you say to someone who feels that life isn’t worth living anymore?

Today, Harry sounded more discouraged than usual, and that was saying something. It turned out he’d fallen at the doctor’s office.
“For crying out loud,” he said. “Rode rodeo all my life. Never got broke up like this.”
He moaned. “Might just as well be dead.”
“Tell me about your rodeo days,” I said, changing the subject.
“I won three all-around cowboy titles,” he said, his voice picking up a bit. “Pendleton, Lewiston, and Calgary.”
“That’s really something,” I said. I'd heard the story numerous times, but this was better than talking about suicide.
“Yes, sir,” he agreed. “Back in the Forties. The Roundup, the Roughriders, and the Stampede.”
“Hmm, hmm,” I said, scanning my call list.
“The other riders called me a ‘wolf,’ Harry said.
“Why’s that?” I asked.
“A rider’s that good,” Harry said. “Bareback and saddle bronc riding, Brahma Bull riding, calf roping; I could do it all. That’s why. I was a wolf. ‘Was’ being the operative word.” Harry put a verbal break between ‘oper’ and ‘ative.’
“Well that’s--,” I started to say.
“Now I cain’t hardly walk, let alone ride.” Another moan.
God don’t let’s start talking suicide, I thought. I glanced at my notes. Harry had a dog named ‘Sugar.’ “How’s Sugar?” I asked.
“Sugar?” he said, his voice rising and taking on a reverential tone. “Why she’s right here by my side. She’s just the best damn dog a man ever had. Best thing God ever done was make the dog.”
This is good, I thought. We’re not talking suicide.
“But then God made man,” Harry said. “That low down, cheating, greedy sonofabitch who’ll call you friend one minute and write you a bad check the next.”
“Did you take your medications, Harry?” I asked.
“I took ‘em. Don’t know what for,” he said.
“Someone has to take care of Sugar,” I said.
“Well that’s the truth. One of God’s greatest creations.”

That was the last conversation I had with Harry. The next time I checked the call schedule, Harry wasn’t on it. I called the church coordinator.
“I notice that Harry Denton isn’t on my call list,” I said.
“Denton? Just a minute.”
I had a bad feeling.
“He died last week.”
“Oh…” I said.
“He’d had a fall at the doctor’s office.”
“Hmm hmm,” I said.
There was a pause.
“What about his dog, Sugar?” I said.
“Oh that old dog of his? They found her lying at his feet. She was gone, too.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Blue or Red

I’ll always be here for you,
She said
I wondered, was it true?
I looked down. Her toenails were painted red

Remember that,
She said
I smiled the smile of a Cheshire cat
Conveying a sense of dread

She reached out, put her fingers on my arm
Her fingernails were painted blue
I thought, I’d like to have one for a good luck charm
Well, that’s very kind of you

I said
Wondering if she had a tattoo
And if so, would it be blue or red?
From the evidence so far, difficult to construe