I’m working with Inkshares.com to crowdfund my short story collection Adventures in Droneland. If I make the minimum funding goal, Inkshares will publish my book by pairing me with a leading editor and book designer and print, distribute, and market the book. Please visit the Adventures in Droneland page on Inkshares to read more about the book and support me by pre-ordering your copy (for as little as $10!).
Your first erection comes as a surprise, age 12. You wake up from a deep slumber to find a tightness and slight pain in your pajama bottoms. Looking down, you see the cotton pants stretching where your crotch is, and you pull the waistband tight in order to see exactly what is going on down there. You see it. It no longer looks like your penis. It’s bigger—sure—and stiff, but it is also slightly elevated, pointing to just above your headboard. You’re used to it limply laying there, a dead snake or maybe just a really tired one. Now, it pounces in time with your beating heart. You’ve heard of these before and expected it to happen at some point, but you thought you’d have to be a teenager for it to happen. Further, you didn’t expect the head of the erection to be so . . . red. You also didn’t expect the ache that would go along with it. Nothing is like you expect it; this is a lesson you don’t really learn until later.
Tonight, I took part in the Nature of the Muse reading and writing event at LIC Bar in Queens, NY. The unique aspect of this event is that the writers (e.g., me), in addition to reading work they have written before, are given prompts from the audience. Below is the prompt I received:
That man and that woman are not pleased with each other you can tell because his face is all red like really red like that time I stared at this drop of blood on my arm for twenty minutes that kind of red and she’s different not red not any color she’s just quiet and not just in that she doesn’t say anything but that her whole body is quiet she doesn’t move a muscle except maybe to blink yeah she blinks every so often but not as much as normal people do how often do normal people blink now I’m blinking a lot that feels crazy and he’s talking and she’s just sitting there not blinking and Susie the bartender is like totally afraid of them and she won’t even go over there whoa the guy just did that thing where you get so upset that spittle comes out your mouth and I’m pretty fucking sure that it landed on the woman’s cheek but she didn’t bat an eye and I mean that she didn’t even blink its like she’s used to that no wonder they’re having problems I’d be all scary quiet if my spouse was pretty much fucking spitting on me I wonder if he meant to do it I wonder if he meant to just spit on her that’s crazy Harry the bar owner is whispering in Susie the bartenders ear and they are both looking at the couple and Susie shakes her head no I bet he asked her if she thought he should call the cops because it’s getting mad loud now and you know he fucking spit on her but she’s sitting there taking it all in and I bet she’s just planning how she’s going to kill him and I bet she imagines doing it and then spitting on him that would be cool why doesn’t Harry ask me what I think about if we should call the cops cause I totally think we should the guys crazy and spitting and the woman’s just sitting there planning his murder I can see it I can see what she’s thinking but Harry would never ask me because he thinks I’m a piece of shit he told me that when I got here a little late I was like an hour late and he’s all fucking crazy and oh my god I think he was all crazy with spittle too.
My short story, “Plaything,” is up at Pif Magazine in their April 2013 issue. This is a short story that represents a major shift in my writing a few years ago, so I’m proud to have the piece published.
[I love the picture they picked to go with the story . . . it's perfect.]
I’ll also be reading from the same short story this Thursday at Nature of the Muse. Part of the event, other than the reading, is writing on-the-spot from prompts provided by the audience and then sharing the writing. I’m excited to be part of another reading series in Queens.
The need to write comes from the need to make sense of one’s life and discover one’s usefulness.
- John Cheever
As promised, the video of my reading of an excerpt from my short story “Driving Lessons.”