I gave my Creative Writing class an assignment this morning that involved taking the following three elements and blending them into a story.
A broken wristwatch
A hug that goes too far
They had 20 minutes to complete a story, and I promised them that on my planning period, I’d have a go at it as well. This is my story.
“Crap,” thought Ezekiel, as the clasp on his watch opened yet again.
His arm was on the downswing of a pretty brisk walk in the New York morning pedestrian traffic, and his watch was slung not just off his wrist, but far into the crowd, bouncing off legs and being kicked around.
“Excuse me, excuse me,” he muttered as he struggled up the flow of traffic like an elderly motorist convinced they’re the only person driving the right way on a one-way street.
If it was any normal watch, he wouldn’t have bothered, but this was his father’s watch. Not that he’d been much of a father, the guy left his family when Ezekiel was three, but the watch was the only memory he had of the transient progenitor.
It was a Mont Blanc watch, well over 100 years old, and had been handed down inside the family for generations. If the original purchaser of the watch could see it now, lying perilously close to a New York gutter, he would have shaken his head and shamed the present owner for his carelessness.
Ezekiel found the watch just as someone else did. The woman picked it up and looked around, as though checking for the owner before pocketing her newfound treasure.
“Hey! Wait! That’s mine!” Ezekiel yelled, but he couldn’t be sure the woman heard him. Her head twitched almost imperceptibly at the sound, but she couldn’t identify the source.
Desperate now, Ezekiel shoved the last remaining man in front of him away, and sprinted to the woman holding his heirloom. His shove caught the man by surprise, and he exhaled almost explosively into Ezekiel’s face.
“Peppermints,” thought Ezekiel.
Ezekiel reached the woman, and reached for the watch as well.
“That’s mine,” he said.
“How do I know that?” asked the woman.
“It has my surname engraved on it,” Ezekiel replied.
“Oh yeah? And that is?” the stranger asked.
The woman flipped the watch over and confirmed this.
“Okay, but it’s broken,” she said.
Ezekiel looked at the broken crystal and swore. He didn’t have the money to repair the watch, and being late to work after the interruption wasn’t going to help his already tenuous grip on the job he hated.
Seeing the panic in the man’s eyes, the woman said, “I can fix it. All I ask for is a hug in return.”
Wary, Ezekiel replied, “A hug? Why a hug?”
“I don’t know,” she said, gesturing to the streets. “I like human contact, and I don’t get very much of it out here.”
Ezekiel, being pressed for time and without the funds to repair the watch, agreed.
“Hug first,” said the woman.
The two embraced, and as they did, Ezekiel felt something strange happening. This closeness, the smell of her hair, the softness of her touch, it made him realize something in his life was missing. Her hands slid lower on his back, and that brought Ezekiel out of his trance, and he realized the hug went a little too far. As they broke contact, the woman handed the watch back.
“Here you go,” she said.
Ezekiel looked down. The watch looked brand new.
“Thanks,” he said awkwardly, and walked on to work.
It wasn’t until lunch that Ezekiel looked at the watch again, really looked at it, then flipping it over looking for his name, and realized the woman had slipped him a fake. He’d lost his priceless family heirloom to a common street hustler, who was at that very moment getting a fine price for it at a local pawn shop. A.P.
BEEBE, ARKANSAS – Thousands of dead blackbirds rained from the heavens on December 31st in Beebe, Arkansas, a town with a population of about 5,000. “It was crazy,” said a local. “We were a six pack up and a hit of meth in, and thought we were seeing things. Then my baby double dog dared me to go touch one, so I sent the 5 year old out with a pair of dishwashin gloves to touch it. She said it was real. That shook us sober real quick.”
Just a day before, on December 30th, there were 80 to 100,000 dead drum fish found dead on the banks of the Arkansas river just 125 miles west of Beebe. Scientists have determined that the fish all died of some kind of disease, but they can’t say what. People fishing the river at the time described it as a “miracle.” When asked his opinion on the matter, one area fisherman commented, “Do you know how much we hate drum? Have you ever eaten a drum? You have any idea the best way to cook one? I have a joke for you about that. You take a slab of hickory and you nail…” He was cut off mid-sentence when he was elbowed sharply by his friend who said, “That’s my momma’s secret recipe, you dummy!”
We talked to a local pastor about the situation and he had this to say. “I can tell you this, it’s not of God. Do you have any idea what kind of God we serve? Have you read the Old Testament? If this was God, it wouldn’t have been drum, it would have been crappie. And let me tell you this, blackbirds wouldn’t have fallen from the sky, they would have multiplied by a thousand and there would have been locusts everywhere. This for sure wasn’t Old Testament God, I think it was aliens. If it was God, then finally, in His infinite wisdom, He got this one right.”
Other people we interviewed talked about Hitchcock, M. Night Shyamalan, and Elvis. There were a wide variety of reactions, ranging from fear to humor to flat out lunacy. One person we talked to said that she thought the birds were killed by a combination of the thunderstorm and fireworks that were happening on New Years Eve. She’s currently being ostracized by her community, and has been ordered to house arrest for an undetermined amount of time.
|Jeffrey Lee and Leroy Jeffrey, cousins, express their delight
at the death of the drum and blackbirds.
One thing everyone agrees on though, is that fishing and bird feeding has certainly gotten better in Arkansas. “We can finally fill our feeders up again,” said one man. “There used to be a time when all we saw was blackbirds. You know how we feel about black things here. Now I can look forward to some good ol God-fearin seagulls coming back around. They’re so beautiful. And catfishin! I can finally catch a mess of catfish without some gol-dern drum muckin things up. Speakin of, have you heard the best way to cook one of those things?” part one}
Los Angeles went well. Let me rephrase that. Los Angeles went well for me. Since the last time I’ve written in my journal, I’ve rid this world of 3 different people. Bad people. People who do terrible things to others. They all died within hours of meeting me. I’ve discovered that I don’t have to sleep with them in order for it to happen. A touch will work. Unfortunately, that is how I learned I couldn’t walk into a nightclub in search of someone. There were 2 unnecessary deaths that night, and I’m very lucky that no one has linked it to me.
The search for me continues. My face is now spread across TV stations and newspapers, right alongside the very people I am seeking out. I’ve had to maintain a very low profile. I am a shadow, never staying in one place for long. Like a shadow, I am ever changing, conforming to where the light isn’t, pooling in corners, further darkening the night. My victims never have a chance to say no, they don’t have a chance to scream, to fight, to try and take revenge on me for what I’ve done.
I’m a murderer.
Every night I wrestle with my conscience. I struggle with what I’m doing, and I have to ask myself if I’ve become the enemy, or if I’m still providing this world with a valuable service. There are people in this world right now who have never had the chance to become a victim, and it’s because of me. But do those people see my picture and hate me? Or, upon glimpsing my face, are they given a sense of peace, a measure of understanding, and the ability to support what I’m doing?
The real reason I’m writing tonight is because I seem to have found my nemesis. I’ve found someone who, while not being my equal, certainly seems to be immune to my peculiar ability. His name is Jeremiah, and he is a serial killer in South Dakota. He is employed as a police officer in Garretson, so he has had the perfect cover for many years now. He chooses his victims quietly, and no suspicion has been raised. To this date he has murdered 38 people. I heard about him through a woman I dealt with in Houston and I traveled here hoping that I could make a difference.
It’s been 4 weeks. When the touch didn’t work, I kissed him. When that didn’t work I slept with him. When that didn’t work we started dating. I have lived in a constant state of fear over the last 28 days. I don’t dare fall asleep when I’m at his house. I don’t sit with my back to him. When we are together, I spend most of the time constantly touching him, just to try to end this. I’m scared, but for a multitude of reasons. Being a police officer, he has access to the pictures of wanted persons. It’s only a matter of time before I cross his desk, his bulletin board, his fax machine.
Just now, I’ve made a decision. I’ve never pulled the trigger of a gun, I’ve never plunged a blade into the soft flesh above the heart. I’ve never used poison, and I’ve never closed my hands around a throat with enough pressure to kill. The one thing all of my murders have lacked is evidence linking me to the crime.
That will change tomorrow. Tomorrow I will have literal blood on my hands for the first time.
Am I monster? Or am I a saint of death sent to rid the world of the real monsters?
More importantly, am I coming for you?
photo creditYesterday I tweeted for ideas to use for a “blog art show,” because I’m grasping for ideas on what to write.
I got two responses, which is two more than I expected, because God forbid y’all actually tweet back at me for anything.
Anyway, here you go!
The first one was done for Jeff over at Badly Drawn Monsters
Don’t ask me what kind of dinosaur that one on the right is. Near as I can tell, it’s a wingless pterodactyl.
The next one up is for Lauren over at (Mis)Adventures in Theatre, and it is my masterpiece for the day.
That is my interpretation of the song Poker Face, by Lady Gaga. Yes I know my characters have an absence of hands. That is the surrealism in my work.
Or something like that.
Yeah, I get bored easy. I’ll take requests for the next round though, you can just leave them in the comments.
Y’all have a good Tuesday.
Brain: Hey guys!
Back: What the fuck do you want?
Brain: Umm… Well, I just thought…you know, that we should be getting up?
Back: You can kiss my ass. You try to move a muscle, I’ll ruin your day. Try me.
Legs: I’m with him on this. We need at least 8 more hours of downtime.
Brain: Seriously? I’m awake! You can’t expect me to lay here for 8 more hours!
Back: You’ll do it, or you’ll suffer the consequences.
Legs: Yeah, what he said.
Stomach: I don’t mean to be a bother or interrupt, but I’m feeling a bit neglected here too.
Brain: You shut the hell up, Stomach. You talk to me one more time, and I’ll cut you off.
Stomach: Okay… I’m sorry.
Brain: That’s right you are. You kicked my ass this weekend, and now it’s my turn. Salad. That’s all you’re ever going to eat again.
Stomach: But a steak sounds so goo…
Brain: I SAID SHUT THE HELL UP!
Back: Are you a stomach or a pussy?
Penis: HEY! I HEARD THAT!
Back: Yeah, yeah. Sorry.
Brain: I feel like we need to do some negotiations…
Legs: Alright, whaddya got?
Brain: Just let me get up, we’ll skip the morning exercise, cook a nice fatty breakfast that will give me no energy, and then just sit in the recliner.
Back: That sounds pretty good… What do you think, Legs?
Legs: I like it, but this slick fucker tricked us the last time.
Brain: I did. And I apologize for that, I really do. But I’m being honest here, guys. This time I’m for real.
Legs: How do we know you’re not lying? How do we know that you’re not going to get on the Bowflex, and eat a big bowl of *shudder* oatmeal?
Brain: That deception is a part of my past. It’s a new lazy leaf I’ve turned over today. Hell, it’s so lazy, I’m not even going to turn it over. Fuck healthy. You have my word.
Brain/Legs/Back: SHUT UP!
Legs: Alright man, I’m going to trust you. I’ll give you some leg power here… There ya go… Alright, I’m on the floor, Back, you got it from her?
Back: You swear you aren’t tricking us again?
Brain: I swear man. Honest Injun.
Back: Alright, here ya go… Nice and easy… Yep, you’re up and ready to go.
Brain: HA! I’m going to take a shower, work on the Bowflex, eat oatmeal, and EXERCISE LATER! And, for your insolence, I will work harder today!
Back: You just wait till tomorrow morning…
Brain: We all know I’m smarter than you. I will win again tomorrow morning too.
Penis: Hey, you got time to rub one out?
And this is why I am constantly late for work.
A lot of you probably remember this pic I posted from September of last year when I was complaining about fat people shirts costing more:
Folks, I have no idea how much I weighed then, but I’m guessing it was probably around 380 or so. My weigh fluctuates, but I settled at 370 for a long time. That shirt is The Missus’, and you can see how well it fit me.
The good news is that I’ve been making some huge changes in how I live. I refuse to call it dieting, because a diet has an end. What I’m doing has no end. It is a lifestyle change that leads to the ultimate goal of a healthier Travis. For those of you following me on Twitter and Facebook, (which you can do a little further down on the page) you know that I’ve lost about 47 pounds in the last 5 weeks.
I was sitting on the couch yesterday morning, and I looked at The Missus and said, “We should take a picture of me in that shirt.”
And it came to pass:
I’ll be the first to say, it’s still not the prettiest picture in the world, but folks, I feel damn good about it. You should know that I’m not sucking in, I’m not stretching the shirt, and I have not altered this in any way.
I’m pretty proud of myself.
However, my pride was quickly deflated when I showed Kid Funk these pictures and he said, “Your hair is longer.”
I’m going to continue my healthier way of living, which includes massive amounts of exercise, and my ultimate goal is to weigh 200 pounds. I currently weigh 323, and I have an alternate goal to be at 320 before TAR, which is this Friday! Wish me luck.
And that is my own personal journey through the X’s. I saw this the other night on the The 45th Annual American Academy Panel Idol Country Sad Story About Fallin In Love Or Burnin Down Georgia Awards.
Best caption wins a gift up to 10 dollars in value. Anything on the internet, if it’s 10 dollars, I’ll ship it to you.
Part I, click here.
Part IIConfusion in Strength
I had no idea it would be like this. The changes that I’m going through are unreal. Today I had my first semi-real meal in 4 days. I just haven’t wanted food much. I’m losing weight, but I feel better. My reflexes keep improving, my muscles are getting stronger, and I am getting faster.
I used to have diabetes. I may still have it. The thing is…I can’t give myself insulin shots anymore. The needle just breaks the second I try to push it into my skin. I’ve been squirting the insulin down the drain so my wife won’t catch on. I don’t feel like my sugar is high, but I can’t test it because the same thing happens when I do a finger prick. I’ve done a lot of things to try to make myself bleed. I’ve used knives, guns, rocks, and anything I think of that would break the skin. I…I put my arm under a train that was moving the other day… After almost derailing it, I decided it was a bad idea.
I crushed my BlackBerry by pushing in on the trackball. I threw it in a creek and told my wife I accidentally dropped it in the water while I was fishing. I’ve had to be a lot more careful with electronics.
Am I done changing?
Some of you may be wondering when my last act of heroism was. It was yesterday, and it wasn’t heroic at all. But it is the only need that I’ve seen. My brother needed help moving, and he had to leave at one point to go get a delivery to the new house. I loaded every thing in the trailer while he was gone, and I did it all within the time it took Caroline Spines’ “Sullivan” to play on my iPod. I carried the washer and dryer out by myself…one in each hand. He has a gun safe full of guns that weighs close to a ton. I picked it up like an empty laundry basket. When he came back, he asked me how I’d done it, and I told him I’d used the dolly.
He knows I’m lying. Maybe it was the light finger impressions on the top of each machine. I tried to be careful, and I had to blame it on the dolly somehow. Lying has become second nature to me. No, I’m not lying, I’m hiding. That’s it, I’m hiding.
His first child was born last week, and she was my first niece as well. When I saw her, my life changed. Something clicked in my brain, but I couldn’t figure it out. A few days later, I held her, and now I know. I am changing so that I can protect her. My job is clear. I don’t know how I am supposed to protect her, but I know that is my job. In the meantime, I am writing her a book. It will be her very own children’s book, and one copy will be published. To date, it is my greatest achievement.
Right now I have to work out a lot to make it look like my weight loss and strength are resulting from that. Every morning I wake up and something is different. Heck, even my sexual nature is changing. I made love to my wife 6 times the other day. That hasn’t happened since our honeymoon. She acted annoyed, but the look on her face told another story. She looks at me differently. Although I try not to show my strength around her, sometimes the reflexes show up. I was getting ice out of the freezer two nights ago, and I dropped a cube on the floor. Only it never made it. I had the cup on the ground in a millisecond, and the ice rattled into the glass. When I looked up, she was watching me… I played it off as luck, but I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.
I am watching very closely for my next ‘mission.’ I don’t know if I should go looking for them, or if they will come to me. I think I am ready though. If I need to go out and find them I will, but I don’t have a lot of money to spend on gas. These changes haven’t come with a pay raise, and I don’t think I should enter any strength competitions. My blood might not show drugs in my system, but it might show something else I don’t want discovered. I like my normal life.
I’ve done some studying on Superman. Born on Krypton, he was sent here by his parents before their planet was destroyed by an evil super computer. He is a hero. He can fly. His power was affected by the sun and something called kryptonite. He shot lasers out of his eyes. His breath was super cold. He worked for a newspaper and dated someone named Lois Lane.
I can’t fly. My strength is here on cloudy days, and I have never seen a piece of glowing green rock. I don’t have lasers, and my breath may be bad when I wake up, but it isn’t cold. I have a blog, but that is the extent of my writing, and my wife is not a reporter with a penchant for getting into trouble.
I know Superman doesn’t exist.
But I do.
And I will be a hero.
Have you entered my lamp giveaway yet? Click this sentence to do it! You could win…A LAMP!What Would Superman Do?A short story by Travis Sloat
I’ll never forget the day I found out…
It started like a normal day. I didn’t eat anything special, I had iced tea and an orange for breakfast, leftover meatloaf for lunch, and I wasn’t struck by lightning anytime during the day. I didn’t come across any glowing stones, I wasn’t hit by a meteor, and I didn’t have anyone insert anything into my body. I am a normal guy. I work from home. I’m a writer, actually. I’m a bit on the husky side…well, I’m fat. If you want to get just brutally honest, I’m fat. I have a wife, we’ve been married about 7 years, with no kids. I have 3 brothers. My father is dead of cancer, my mother has been re-married and divorced. I live in a small town. I graduated 7th in a class of 38. I am…normal.
And yet I’m not. Not anymore.
It was raining that day. The day I found out. The day my life changed forever. The sheets of rain were pouring out of the sky with the grim determination of flooding the world a second time, and it looked as if it might succeed. The lightning sheared air from air, producing peals of thunder that rivaled bomb blasts in intensity and suddeness. I know you’re all wanting to know what happened, and you’re tired of waiting. I just want everyone to know how normal I was before I tell you how it all went down. I feel like if you know how plain I was, you’ll believe me, even though I don’t believe it myself. I think my ordinariness somehow justifies the end result, so you can see that I didn’t have any idea that it could happen. I drive an old truck. It gets the job done, but it will never win any beauty contests. The one thing about my truck that I love the most is a license plate on the front of it. It is a Superman license plate. My mom bought it for me soon after I got the truck. Strangely enough, the license plate has affected my life more than I care to admit. To me, it’s a badge of honor. Some people wear WWJD bracelets, I have my Superman license plate. I don’t consider it sacriligeous to ask myself, “What Would Superman Do?” That plate is beat up and scratched and faded, but I refuse to take it off, because somehow, its made me a better person. So today, when I saw the car stalled on the highway, I drove by feeling guilty. It’s raining, I just got back from a meeting with a publisher, I’m in nice clothes, and I’m ready to get home. Another quarter mile down the road, and I’m slowing down, putting on the turn signal, turning around, and heading back to scene, because truthfully, that’s what Superman would do. He would help, and so should I. The song on the radio was Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio. As I pull back up to the car, the lyrics are pounding in my head, and I’m rapping along. The rain hasn’t let up at all, and I am pretty upset that I’m going to receive a thorough soaking. I hop out of my truck, and walk up to the car. It’s a Honda Civic, purple, windows tinted an illegal shade and an older model. As I approach the car, I hold my thumbs up in a harmless gesture, trying to ask if everything is okay, hoping the driver will wave me off so I can turn around and say, “Oh well, I tried,” and go home and eat something. There are two passengers in the car, both young ladies. They look alike, and I later found out they were sisters. The car is on a narrow highway, not much traffic, but no shoulder, so it’s dangerous in the rain. I wave hi, then ask if they need any help. I thought I could help them push the car out of the way, but I quickly see the blowout. Pushing is out of the question. The tire is going to need to be changed, but that’s not something that can be done on the soft shoulder of the road. Realizing they need more help than I could give, I offered them a ride. For being strangers, they accepted very quickly. I think they were tired of sitting in the rain. They were very grateful, and offered to give me gas money, which I refused. Superman wouldn’t take gas money. I started to help the ladies out of the car, and that’s when it happened. Two cars, both driving way to fast for the conditions, came up on us quick. There was no way they could stop in time. The passenger sister screamed a warning and jumped into the ditch on the side of the road, which left me and the driver standing next to the car when it was rammed from behind by the first car. The music in my truck had changed. The song now was “Bright Lights” by Matchbox 20. I don’t know why I remember that. As the first car ran into the back of the Civic, the car behind them was swerving into the lane the driver and I were in, trying to scamper across the road out of the path of destruction. They were going to hit us. It was unavoidable. I grabbed the driver with every intention of throwing her to the side of the road out of danger. I spun around, and I felt the car impact on my spine. It didn’t hurt. That was understandable though. My spine had most likely been snapped, and I probably wouldn’t feel pain if I was paralyzed or even dead. I couldn’t figure out why my eyes were still registering images and why I could almost count the raindrops as they fell down. I was aware that I had the driver in my hands, and I was aware that I was flying through the air, but it was all so slow, so painfully slow. I don’t know when I realized that I was going to land the fall. I was about 25 feet from the car that hit me, and I was about 10 feet in the air, and I had time to get my legs underneath me. I thought that was very strange. Cradling the driver in my arms, I remember seeing how wide her eyes where when I dropped to the pavement, one knee down, in a crouch that resembled something you see in the movies. In the end, the passenger was killed from the car being pushed onto her in the ditch. Her name was Stephanie. The drivers of both cars were killed instantly. I don’t know their names. It was in the papers, but I didn’t read the papers. By the time the ambulance was called, I was back at my truck with the driver, and she still hadn’t said a word. The car that hit me was in a ditch with a badly destroyed front end. I destroyed the front of that car. Go ahead and make your fat jokes, but I’m glad the ditch took the blame. Trying to explain it all would have been too much. I concocted a cover story and told it to the cops, the paper and my wife, but I don’t even remember it now. Luckily for me, the driver, whose name was Tracy, was in some sort of shock and wasn’t talking. She’s currently recuperating in the local hospital, and she’s still not talking. She recognizes me though, and I think she knows what happened. So here’s my problem. For obvious reasons, this can’t be published during my lifetime. The world would not behave like they do in a comic book. They would want to test me, they would hound me constantly, and let’s face it, I don’t look good in a spandex disguise. They would want to know my limits. But how indestructable am I? Was this a one time thing? I don’t have answers, and I don’t want to be killed by someone trying to find out. I don’t want to fight wars for my country. I want my life. I want a child. I want the comfort of a small town. But is that selfish? My vision has improved the last couple days. My hearing has gotten better. My reflexes have gotten faster than I care to admit. I picked up my wife’s car the other day. I’m still fat, though. I did something stupid today to push my limits in the indestructable category. That’s the one area I’ve been scared to press my luck. But I did. You see, I own a Stevens Savage 12 guage shotgun. It was a gift from my dad on my 16th birthday. I used that gun today. I used it…on me. 3 times. The first time was on my big toe. The second time was in the gut, and the third time was with the barrel pointed right at my forehead. And it turns out, bullets don’t hurt me either. I lie here in bed tonight, typing this, listening to “All The Small Things” by Blink 182, with my wife laying beside me. She doesn’t know it, but she’s the most protected person in the whole world. You see, I still haven’t told her. That’s a small problem, and I’ll figure out the best way to tell her eventually. The real problem is…
What would Superman do?