Archive for the story telling Category

Leaves for a Pillow (short fiction)

Posted in character development, characters, creative writing, dialogue, fiction, flash fiction, short stories, short story, story telling, surreal, Uncategorized, writing, writing craft with tags , , , , on November 27, 2017 by Robert Crisp

I remember writing this creepy little story while at my son’s taekwando practice…and then, as I do with so much of my writing, completely forgot about it. I did a little tweaking here and there and am mostly satisfied with it. Why you would gather leaves for a pillow is beyond me, but that’s what the character insisted on doing, both during the first draft and this morning. So be it.

Now that my health is back under control, I’m writing again but not as frequently. I have zero interest in submitting poetry, so I’m taking a break from that. Instead, I’m combing through stories and poems written during the last year and seeing what can be salvaged.

Here’s the story. As always, thanks for reading.

 

leaves.jpg

Image courtesy of Flickr and the Creative Commons license

 

“You’re very kind,” the girl said, kneeling on the ground and gathering leaves.

The boy watched. He wasn’t kind, but the girl didn’t need to know that yet.

When she had enough leaves, the girl walked back toward the farmhouse. Not enough for a pillow, but a good start. The boy followed but stopped on the porch while the girl opened the door and went in.

“Do you want to visit for a while?” the girl asked. “Mama won’tt mind. She’ll be in the kitchen, fixing supper. Daddy’s gone to town for the day.”

The boy studied the girl. He liked her bone structure, her fine ankles, the tilt of her head and the slow blink of her eyes. She dazzled in a bar of sunlight. He nodded.

“You don’t say much,” the girl remarked, turning and facing the boy. “Or anything, really. Can you talk?”

The boy nodded.

“But you don’t have anything to say right now?”

The boy nodded again.

“Well, then,” the girl said, “I need to get these leaves in a pillow case and gather more. I’ll introduce you to Mama first. Come on.”

The boy followed the girl into the kitchen, where a tall woman stood over a sink snapping beans. She turned and regarded the girl and boy.. “And who’s this?” she asked.

“I don’t know his name,” the girl said. “I found him in the woods. He’s very kind.”

The boy studied the girl’s mother. He didn’t like her bone structure. The girl didn’t favor her at all, lacked the woman’s long face and protruding brow.

“We don’t take in strays,” the woman said. “We don’t have an extra plate, if it’s food you’re after, and we don’t need help on the farm.”

The boy didn’t move. The girl said, “He doesn’t talk.”

“I can see that,” the woman said. “Is he deaf?”

“No,” the girl answered.

“This is my house, you understand?” the woman said, tossing the beans into the metal colander and closing in on the boy. “You’re not welcome here, no matter what my daughter says. Go back to where you came from.”

The boy still didn’t move. The girl said, “Can he help me put leaves in my pillow.”

“No, he can get himself out of here.”

The boy flicked his right hand and the woman disappeared. The girl gasped. “Where’d she go?” she demanded.

The boy shrugged.

The girl thought for a while. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad with her mother gone. She could be quite cruel, and the boy was very kind. Her father might be a bit put out. Maybe the boy could make him disappear, too.

“Would you like to help me now?” the girl asked.

The boy nodded and followed the girl upstairs to her room.

Minister Hot Tea Denies a Bird a Proper Burial (surreal fiction)

Posted in creative writing, fiction, flash fiction, freewriting, story telling, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , on October 31, 2017 by Robert Crisp

This oddness poured out a few days ago. Enjoy?

Minister Hot Tea Denies a Bird a Proper Burial

“I give not a fig for how the bird died,” said Minister Hot Tea, “nor do I wish him to be buried on this sacred ground. A pauper’s grave for the bird, now see to it.”

Minister Hot Tea’s wife was an unwilling accomplice, but she had run grown weary of playing Go Fish with ghosts, so she gathered the bird’s broken body and transported it to the burial ground just outside of Gehenna.

She said a hot, hasty prayer that got tangled in the clouds and lingered in the air long enough for the bird to reincarnate, leave the nest, and glide through an immaculate sunset, his heart beating in time with his strong, blessed wings.

Time to Read

Posted in creative writing, fiction, short story, story telling, writing craft with tags , , , on June 16, 2017 by Robert Crisp

One of the benefits of being a teacher is having summer break, and even though I have both my children home with me, I have more time to read than I do during the school year. After teaching all day, making supper, dealing with baths and breaking up fights, my wife and I make a little time to watch a show and then get in bed to read. I can usually devote thirty minutes to reading before I’m ready to sleep (while my wife, if she’s really into the book, can read until one or two in the morning).

This morning, I woke up and continued reading Stephen King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams. stephen kingI haven’t read Stephen King in quite a long, and it’s been even longer since I’ve read one of his short story collections. I bought this after reading a book I just couldn’t get into. And then I remembered seeing King’s story colletion, so I got it and jumped right in

I love King’s prose, but it can bog down the story in certain novels. He’s a master of the short story craft, even though in the book’s introduction, he says that he’s still an amateur at 62. It’s comforting to hear that, given how much I struggle with fiction.

I always write better fiction when I’m reading something good, and even though horror is not my genre, I used to write fairly good “speculative” fiction. I haven’t tried my hand at it in a long time…and I also haven’t bothered finishing a story. Poetry is easier for me because I can finish one in a relatively quickly. Fiction takes time, and I’m usually pressed for time. While I like flash fiction, it doesn’t call to me. I still believe a good short story should run about twenty-five to thirty pages, double-spaced (I’ve forgotten the word count I used to shoot for). I could do that before I had children. It’s a lot harder now.

But I have more time this summer, and I’m thinking of going back to some short stories I started. I’ve kept them in a file called “Stories Worth Finishing.” I’m not sure if they’re worth finishing or not, but I’m not going to learn anything more about fiction writing unless I actually finish a damn story once in a while.

So don’t hold your breath for some exciting, ground-breaking, awe-inspiriting story to appear on the site in the next day or two. Expect something messy with some decent dialogue and a rushed ending; that seems to be my speciality.

Leaves for a Pillow (a brief story)

Posted in characters, creative writing, story telling, writing with tags , , , on April 27, 2017 by Robert Crisp

After the first line, this quite short story wrote itself. It’s not perfect, but it sent a chill up my spine, so maybe it’s on the right track.

Leaves for a Pillow

“You’re very kind,” the girl said, kneeling on the ground and gathering leaves.

The boy just watched. He wasn’t kind, but the girl didn’t need to know that yet.

When she had enough leaves, the girl walked back toward the farmhouse. Not enough for a pillow, but a girl start. The boy followed but stopped on the porch while the girl opened the door and went in.

“Do you want to visit for a while?” the girl asked. “Mama may not mind. She’ll be in the kitchen, fixing supper. Daddy’s gone to town for the day.”

The boy studied the girl. He liked her bone structure, her fine ankles, the tilt of her head and the slow blink of her eyes. She dazzled in a bar of sunlight. He nodded.

“You don’t say much,” the girl remarked, turning and facing the boy. “Or anything, really. Can you talk?”

The boy nodded.

“But you don’t have anything to say right now?”

The boy nodded again.

“Well, then,” the girl said, “I need to get these leaves in a pillow case and gather more. I’ll introduce you to Mama first. Come on.”

The boy followed the girl into the kitchen, where a tall woman stood over a sink snapping beans. She turned and regarded the girl and boy with narrowed eyes. “And who’s this?” she said coldly.

“I don’t know his name,” the girl said. “I found him in the woods. He’s very kind.”

The boy studied the girl’s mother. He didn’t like her bone structure at all. The girl didn’t favor her at all, lacked the woman’s long face and protruding brow.

“We don’t take in strays,” the woman said. “Get gone, boy. We don’t have an extra plate, if its food you’re after, and we don’t need help on the farm.”

The boy didn’t move. The girl said, “He doesn’t talk.”
“I can see that,” the woman snapped. “Is he deaf?”

“No,” the girl answered.

“This is my house, you understand?” the woman said, tossing the beans into the metal colander and closing in on the boy. “You’re not welcome here, no matter what my daughter says. Go back to where you came from.”

The boy still didn’t move. The girl said, “Can he help me put leaves in my pillow.”

“No, he can get his ass out of here,” the woman said.

The boy flicked his right hand, and the woman disappeared. The girl gasped. “Where’d she go?” she demanded.

The boy shrugged.

The girl thought for a while. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad with her mother gone. She could be quite cruel, and the boy was very kind. Her father might be a bit put out. Maybe the boy could make him disappear, too.

“Would you like to help me now?” the girl asked.

The boy nodded and followed the girl upstairs to her room.

An Evening With Mr. Vein (poem)

Posted in characters, creative writing, poem, Poetry, story telling, writing with tags , , on October 13, 2016 by Robert Crisp

Still in a bit of a spooky mood. Thus we have Mr. Vein, revered teller of dark tales, and those who gather ’round him.

An Evening with Mr. Vein

There was something moving in the woods…
We listened with intent, garlic-heavy breath,
having just consumed an erstwhile vampire.
Mr. Vein gathered all our attention to his bosom
(gray, mottled thing that it was, more suited
to a moth monster than a man of his sensibilities)
and treasured the moment, not knowing when
when we’d all gather in his house of bones
to hear stories and, after hours of his low voice,
demand more til sunlight spread like a leaking wound,
spelling the end of our satisfying, unholy visit.

Posted in creative writing, story telling, Uncategorized, writing, writing craft with tags , , on October 7, 2016 by Robert Crisp

This came to me during a freewriting session some time ago, and I just discovered it again. Spooky.

Somehow, the lights still flicker in that doomed place, though the power was cut decades ago and the rats and roaches are the only tenants—except for the ghosts.

The walls are riddled with them, scattered like bullet holes, but that only makes sense if you know something about ghosts, how they only take corporeal form when a person pokes his curious head around, intent on seeing beyond the ordinary, or when someone strains her ears to hear something from the past. Until then, they blend into the walls, dozing in a kind of sleep, dreaming of vanished life.

I only visited one time, which was enough. A damaged spirit (I suppose all of them are damaged) appeared to my right and begged for help on a frequency that my soul heard, heard and consequently ached to answer. But I could do nothing, and the spirit sank back into the wall.

I could not forget the experience, of course, and so I drive by sometimes and look at the lights in that ruined house, wondering if anyone will hazard those hallways again, and if they have what it takes to make a difference. -Barbara Needly, A Brief History of Ghosts and Haunted Places, 1958

“You Can’t Just Pet My Head and Expect Me to Poop Out Jewels”

Posted in character development, characters, creative writing, fiction, freewriting, story telling, writing with tags , , on March 23, 2016 by Robert Crisp

I didn’t intend to write this, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I like to think that in an alternative universe, Isaac and Charlie are working on a new album.

“Well, you can’t just pet my head and expect me to poop out jewels,” said Barney Carter, confusing and disgusting the patrons gathered at Stumpy’s Bar. But bass player Isaac “Pinky Man” Ray and guitarist Charlie “Bugaboo” Ramirez perked up, got out their instruments, and launched into a crazy improv number that turned into “Jewel Thief.” The song entered Billboard’s Blues Album chart in the summer of 1996 and climbed to number twenty.

“It was a trip when that song started doing well and getting picked up by radio stations, man,” Ray says. I’m sitting with him and his musical co-conspirator Ramirez after they tore up at stage at Asheville, North Carolina’s Bluesville Festival. “I mean, it wasn’t many stations, but I heard it a few times driving around in my truck. I was like ‘That’s far out.’ I never expected any of our music to reach the masses, let alone that song.”

By the summer of 1996, Ray and Ramirez had been playing for nearly thirty years in the Burnin’ Junk Blues Collective, a huge band with rotating members and only Isaac and Charlie as the only permanent fixtures. At one point, they even convinced Barney Carter to hit the road with them, despite the fact that he played nothing and couldn’t sing.

“Shit, Barney was crazy, that’s why we brought him on the road,” says Ramirez, fingering chords on his bright blue ’67 Telecaster and smiling. “We just wanted him there for the good times, you know? He always brought that with him. He jumped in on a few tracks of our Catfish in Heaven album, just making all kinds of hoots and hollers. We had him do one of his fucked-up spoken word things and we were going to have it as an intro, but decided against it.”

“Yeah, [producer Rick] Arnett was not down with that,” Ray picks up. “He didn’t even want him in the studio, period. Said he stank too much, which was true. Barney wasn’t too keen on baths and he slathered himself with that god-awful Patchouli oil.”

Of the inspiration for “Jewel Thief,” Ramirez says, “Barney was always spouting out shit that didn’t make any sense to anyone else but him. He was pretty fried all the time and drank this foul mushroom tea that sent him somewhere like the 5th dimension or whatever. I just kind of thought the idea of Barney pooping out jewels was funny, and so I came up with the riff real quick, and Isaac began cooking on the bass. We wrote the whole thing in, like, ten minutes.”

Ray laughs and takes a drag on his Marlboro Red. “It’s not like any of our songs are all that complicated or took all that long to write,” he adds. “The longest time we ever spent on songs was when we were making our last album, Shock Proof. Damn, the second track [“When the Cat Bites You, it’s Done Passed Time to Get a Dog] clocks in at eight minutes forty three seconds, but we wrote in under an hour and told the rest of the guys, ‘Do whatever you want to fill in.'”

As for their future, Ray and Ramirez are hopeful but also practical. “We had a modest hit in 1996, and now it’s 2016. I’ve got grand kids older than that song, and you know what? They don’t give a shit about it. They’d just like me to come around more often and take them fishing.”

Ray, who’s been married to his wife Bonnie since 1979 and has four children and seven grand children, feels similarly. “We’ll keep playing festivals like this from time to time,” he says, “but I like hanging out at home. Plus, carpal tunnel’s a bitch. We’re not the Stones, man. If we had that kind of money, maybe we could be. I don’t know.”

I ask about Barney Carter, the man who unwitting inspired a hit song, and both Ray and Ramirez chuckle. “I wish I knew where that bastard was,” Ray says. “I mean, he might be dead, or maybe he got clean and is living in a cabin or some shit. Sounds like something he might do.”

“Your job is to find him and report back to us,” Ramirez instructs me. “You got it? Using your reporting skills or whatever and find Barney Carter.”

“And if you do,” Ray says, “tell that old sonofabitch he needs to come up with another idea for a hit song.”