Archive for the 'prose action' Category


It’s all downhill from here

I’ve been in his house for two days. I watch Ian mope around, fiddling with the television, his computer, fixing food and fixing things around the house. He doesn’t seem to notice me, but I know he can see me. He’s aware of me, trying hard to ignore me since I introduced myself. He seemed like he didn’t believe we had spoken. Like he was trying really hard not to believe in ghosts that could talk to you and hold conversations and generally not go away. Like he was trying really hard to ignore the fact that he was told I was here to help him die.

Last night he turned off the TV and sat in silence for three hours. At the end he scribbled something into a notebook and went to bed. After the light in his bedroom turned off, I sat down and flipped the thing open and read.

“I rewrote the ending of the new novel today. It’s so fucking boring here, and Saturdays are the worst. I wake up at 10 am and sit there until I try to get some work done at 7 PM. Sometimes I try and make a game out of how many hours and days I waste. It’s a fucking joke. So what do I do? I write before I go to bed, a little here, a little there. A large bit of the middle of the thing was written ten minutes at a time before I went to bed. Almost every day I wake up, I look in the mirror, and I think that I just take up space.

Henry and I also discussed importing some bottles of Absinthe. Real stuff. Found a bottle of ‘Cannabis Vodka’. I made a mental note of it, and wondered if it was really Cannabis or if it was just bullshit. Our goal is to sample the famous Hemingway ‘Death In The Afternoon’. 1 jigger of absinthe under champagne until milky white. He suggests ‘drinking four or five slowly.’ I cannot wait to try this.

The concept of alcohol abuse has been prevalent lately. Brianna’s been drinking almost every night (she says,) since she left me. My best friend seems to have developed something of an issue as well. I’m wondering if I’m missing out on something.

Apparently I’m not drinking enough to deal with my problems. There’s a bottle of vodka on the night stand, mostly a decoration left over from a party a while back. It’s staring at me. Somehow, even at room temperature it looks like it just came out of a freezer.

When I was seeing the therapist, she asked me – constantly – if I was drinking. It pissed me off to no end. Somehow, just because I called myself a writer and said I was depressed, I must be a fucking alcoholic.

She asked if I wanted to continue again next week. I said ‘No thanks’. I know what my problem is now. I just need to get my problem to listen to me, and realize her problems started when she decided not to deal with ‘Us’. Instead she drinks and she hides behind friends who just want to fuck her anyway.

I fucking hate this right now.

The dreams of suicide aren’t as vivid anymore, but the words pop in my head at least once a day. ‘I don’t deserve to live.’ I keep hoping a plane will fall out of the sky and slam into my house, sparing everyone in the neighborhood but me.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to die alone. I don’t know how I feel about that, knowing that I’m never going to settle for anyone else. I can’t spare another 4 months, another year, another 5 years of being hurt. There doesn’t seem to be that much time left. Sex is simple biology, and it means nothing, but love is not going out again if I can help it.

Now I understand why people pay for it. Doesn’t have to be a real connection, and it doesn’t matter that it costs $250 for an hour of time, as long as I don’t have to think about how shitty my life is for the moment.

I haven’t talked to Bree in two days. This isn’t getting any better, and I don’t think it ever will.”

This might be a quicker trip than I thought. Pull out the check sheet, we’re going to have another dead writer in just a few days.


Defiance in the face of inevitability

The back of the cruiser was cramped, so focused on safety that I could barely fit inside. The screen that separates the back from front seat extends from the roof to the floor, completely blocking off the underside of the driver’s seat. My feet were pressed hard against the barrier, curled up and stretched. The handcuffs dug into my wrists, slicing as I tried to adjust my position.

The deputy groaned loudly as he sat in the driver’s seat, almost lounging across the cab. He tapped away at the keys of his on board computer and laughed to himself. I tried to stretch my neck to catch a glimpse of the screen, the cuffs catching the upholstery and tearing out a seam with a “pop”.

The deputy glanced back and swung the table the laptop rested on to a greater angle. “Whatever you’re doing back there, quit it.” He seemed annoyed at my presence. He smiled as he tapped away, laughing to himself. “You’re fucked, kiddo.”

I stretched me neck, cracking it as I turned. I felt annoyed, frustrated that it was going to end with this. Picked up walking home from a random girl’s house simply by looking drunk and undesirable. My beard itched, and my wrists hurt. I simmered slowly, and could feel the heat build in my face.

“Oh yeah? Fucked?”

“Oh yeah. Fucked.”

He straightened in his seat and reached for his radio. He mumbled something that most likely only made sense to cops. There was a response over the line, it was short and made little more sense then what he had said. “Do you know what happens to people like you?”

He turned back to me and grinned wide. His face was craggy and old. The cleft in his chin was so severe that there were hairs caught in the crevice that could never be shaved by conventional means. “Really? Do you have any idea?”

He laughed again, a wheezing laugh full of phlegm. His voice cracked, and the sound of a trillion Camels like steel wool scraping the inside of his lungs.

I grinned back, smarmy and toothless. Wearing my disdain as a mask. I pictured the most punchable face I’d ever seen and slipped it on. “No, sir, not at all. I’ve never yelled ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater before.”

He turned back to the wheel and shut the door to the cruiser with authority. He glanced back at me through the rear-view mirror, his eyes narrowing. “Enjoy it. I hope you can speak Arabic.”

Without hesitation. “Your mom taught me. While I fucked her in the ass last night.” Couldn’t help myself.

He dropped the car into drive and pulled out onto the road. I settled again in the seat, stretching my legs across the whole of the cab. “Nice and roomy back here. It’s nice.”


The Great And The Good

The sun was painful in it’s brightness. I couldn’t have done this a month ago. I’d struggle to get out of bed, and sleep walk to the coffee maker to try and wake up. Barney would jump at my leg, whining and screaming to get out to the backyard. Now I’ve gone commando, up and gone without amenities like caffeine. It’s a luxury now to get a beer and a smoke, or to spend a night with a pretty girl in a bed that is more than a mattress on the floor.

I slipped on my sweatshirt as I walked, the fabric catching on my newly shaven head, dragging across my scalp. I struggled to poke my head through the neck as I hit 4th Ave, hoping to make it to the junkyard on 27th before the boys made it to work in the morning.

My heart sank when the siren kicked up.

I stopped dead in my tracks, my head sliding through the neck of the sweatshirt. I was standing in the middle of the street, unaware I had crossed off the side of the road as I walked. I wondered why it couldn’t have been a delivery truck or some doughy yuppie racing to work. Metallic green lettering – HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERRIFF – on the hood of the patrol car glimmered in the morning sun. The deputy opened his door and called out to me.

“You alright there?”

He didn’t recognize me. I sprang back to life and struggled to find anything to say. “Yes, sir. Doing fine.” Any words. He shut the door to his car, and slowly walked towards me. Fuck.

“What are you doing in the road, sir?”

I turned and pointed to the sidewalk, grasping at straws. “Well, I was walking down from my girlfriend’s house. She…” I paused, searching. “She just kicked me out, sir. Found out about the other one.” He grinned wide and shook his head.

“Gotta cover your tracks, kid.”

I laughed nervously. “Yeah, I guess I just took it a little too far.” He stood back and sized me up, eyes taking in the only clothes I had left. The sweatshirt was torn at the sleeves, and my jeans were covered in weeks of dirt and tattered at the knees. My Doc Martens were scuffed and worn. I was speckled with paint, in my hair and caught in my three day beard.

“Have you been drinking?”

“No…No sir. Not this early.”

He stepped closer. “No place open yet?”

I tried to straighten my posture. “No, sir. I…don’t drink?” Son of a bitch. This is not going the way I had hoped.


Half finished thoughts on paper

Slowly, they eventually come together into something new. Most of the time they don’t have to, lasting long enough for music or moments to fade.


I woke up to the sun sneaking in between the venetian blinds, warm light soaking the room in a gentle orange. I slowly pulled back the bed sheet and slid off the mattress, careful not to wake Sarah as I stood. I winced at the creeking of the springs and waited in silence to make sure she hadn’t awoken, her gentle rhythmic breathing the only sign that her motionless body was still alive.

I dug through the pile of clothes thrown chaotically on the floor next to the bed, searching for my cigarettes and lighter. I opened the Zippo with the greatest ease, and was just as careful in closing it. I enjoyed it, the first drag in the morning, killing the burning ache in my throat and jump starting my consciousness.

I peered through the blinds, watching the world below already alive and kicking. The taxis and delivery trucks, the bike messengers and town cars, all of them twisting and turning through the street, lives intersecting for a moment before receding off into the darkness. From high above I watched, stark naked except for a thin sheet of smoke wrapped around me, and smiled.

In my head, in his perfect deadpan, Lou Reed spoke for me. Oh it’s such a perfect day, glad I spent it with you. The song played in my head, the world slowing down to a slow beat as he droned on and on. It played to completion, and when it was done I smothered the cigarette in the ashtray and dress. I left, without ever waking her.


Have you ever asked yourself…

What would happen if a universe was born in your neighborhood? I imagine something like this. This short story should be finished in a day or so.


I woke up three days ago to a hole where the roof, windows, and upper floors of my apartment building should be. Blown out by some noiseless explosion that had never disturbed my completely sound sleep. The unfiltered noise of the city drifting in to replace my alarm clock. The white noise was shattered by a screech, “JESUS!”

From my bed, I could see into my neighbor’s apartment, as he struggled to hold onto his oak dinner table dangling from the rubble that used to be his nook. His wife cried and screamed and did little to help him as the massive table creeked and slowly slid backwards under the pull of gravity.

I vaulted from my bed, and slammed hard into the wooden floor of my apartment, my feet still tangled in the sheets. “ROY!” I screamed. “HOLD ON!” His wife shot her eyes to me and wailed again, blubbering out something that sounded like “Help.”

Roy, for his part grasped at the table, working his hardest to crawl his way across the slick finish of the wood. “I’m trying!” He yelled, his voice half muffled by distance and the wind rushing past the building.

I stumbled over what was once my fridge, a gnarled and twisted pile of sharp metal, tearing a gash in my leg as I tried to crawl across it.

Roy’s wife screamed again, as the wooden legs clawed into the carpet of their apartment began to crack under the stress. The stress of it’s own weight, and Roy’s middle aged girth, too much for the glue holding the leg to the table to stand.

The table crashed into the floor and began to slid over the side of the cliff that was once our apartment building. Roy yelled something that was swallowed by the noise of the moment, and then lost in the next.

Roy’s widow collapsed to her knees, sobbing, burying her head in the carpet. I stood, looking out over the expanse between our building and the one across the street. It too was missing a large part of it’s wall, in a sort of half spherical pattern, like someone had dropped a massive bowling ball between our two buildings.


Grinning White Teeth is done

That is, my novel Grinning White Teeth, is complete on it’s second draft. Query letters have been sent out to various agents around New York, and the clock is on for returns. Typically, established writers will tell you “It’s a 1 in 12 success ratio” with agents. So, here’s hoping that it is picked up.

In the meantime, I have been plotting and outlining a new novel, based on the beautiful world of Windsor McKay’s “Little Nemo In Slumberland/In The Land of Wonderful Dreams”. It has been in the public domain for some time now, and I’m excited as hell to work on it. Depending on how it works I’ll be looking to either go the traditional route, or possibly take it in a GNU direction (which has, for various reasons, fascinated the hell out of me.)

Geen was handed, the other day, a micro rewrite of the Child Ballad “Twa Corbies” for his upcoming art book, Cheap Vodka. (I love the name. I had been kicking it around like an old can for years before unknowingly handing it to him.) I anticipate it will be posted here when it’s complete. We’ve also considered continuing to adapt child ballads for a submission to However, the prose script can be seen below. I used it as an exercise to play with an idea I’d had during the writing of Grinning White Teeth. It wasn’t as prevelant in the novel, however it should be up front and center when reading this:

The Three Ravens –

In the valley down the river, in the low light of a pink sunset, on a crooked and dry husk of a tree, sat three Ravens. They had watched as the two armies clashed, and they had watched as the solider fought bravely, and they had watched as he was run through. The Ravens waited as the battle receded, the victors moved in pursuit of the defeated, and the solider was left to die with the day.

The first said to the others, “We should not have waited, my friends. We have lost too many meals to the heat.” The second said to the others, “We should follow the armies. The wounded will be freshly dead as they travel.” The third said to the others, “I stake my claim here.”

Below them, below the dry and dead tree, in the tall blood soaked grass of the valley, sat the soldier’s three animals. The hawk, the falcon, and the dog. They waited by their master, waiting until the day died, waiting until their master followed soon after.

The hawk said to the others, “He is lost to us. We should look for food.” The falcon said to the others, “He is lost to us. We should look for shelter.” The dog said to the others, “He is lost to us, let us look for a new master.”

The soldier lay in the tall grass, in the valley, under the crooked tree, and passed as did the sun. Next to him, the hawk, the falcon, and the dog began to mourn their master, and above him, the three ravens grew restless.

The first said to the others “We have waited too long.” He crooked his head to the third, and flew off to find other food. The second turned to the third and said “The wounded have surely now died, watch as our brothers follow the armies.” He crooked his head and joined the murder flying above them. The third sat stoically watching the soldier. “I stake my claim here.”

The hawk watched as the sun fell behind the far mountains, and watched as the the field mice began to scurry along the ground, and left to hunt. The falcon felt the temperature dip, and the winds picked up, and flew off to find shelter. The dog saw, in the distance, a lamp light flicker in the dark, and left to find a new master.

Above the knight, in the dry and crooked tree, in the valley covered in the dead, sat the third raven, who had yet to eat.


And what I am working on at the moment:

“Halloween? Couldn’t you have told this story yourself? You were there.”

“Yes, I was. You had a specific view, though. I’d like to hear how you remember it.”

“Ok. Well…Halloween was rough. I always loved Halloween until that night. It’s a spectacular holiday. There’s the obvious stuff, I mean, how cool was it when you were a kid to dress up and be someone new? You were anyone you wanted to be, some movie character, or some concept that frightened you. It was liberating when you were a kid. You’d rush home from school, and all that weight from the weeks and months prior were gone on Halloween. Thanksgiving and Christmas break were around the corner, and you could celebrate it by being a ghost or a monster or whatever.

When you get older it’s a bit more nebulous. Like everything else when you’re a teenager, it’s about proving how adult you are, how sexy you can be. The general idea stays the same though, as your childhood comes to an end, and you’re more into getting laid then candy… But, but you’re still slipping into someone different. You’re carving off your insecurities and your someone new, ready for the new year.

I lost my virginity on Halloween, you know. I was thirteen, and his name was Shane. He was so gorgeous, and I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. We left a party – we told everyone we were going to egg houses – and we ended up at his house. We were careful then, still unsure of how it worked, who we were, why we were doing it or what it meant. But I knew at the time that I loved him and I wanted him to know. Puppy love, I guess. My first real crush, the first guy that I could open up to and the first guy I could be myself with. It wasn’t just a gay thing. It was a teen thing. I’m sure you remember.”

“Something like that, yeah.”

“Ha ha ha. It was so bad. We were at it for over an hour, which sounds like heaven now, but we were so scared of being caught by his parents that every time we started to get into it we had to stop because we thought they were trying to get in. They eventually broke it up, but I don’t think they figured out what was going on. When we heard them trying to come into the room we quickly got dressed and darted to opposite sides of the room. They just saw some beers Shane had stolen from the fridge and figured that was what we were hiding. I was sent packing by his mother, and his dad laughed and patted his son on the back saying shit like ‘Aww, honey, they’re just being boys.’

Every other Halloween, though, something always seemed to happen. I don’t know what it is, the fall, or the cool air, or the colors on the trees, or whatever. It was always so amazing. Now… I don’t even go out for Halloween anymore. I just sit in my apartment and hand out candy to the neighborhood kids when they knock. Things changed. It wasn’t fun anymore.

I don’t know if that’s because I finally grew up, but every time October thirty-first comes around all I can remember is Jennifer screaming. I guess that was the beginning of it, wasn’t it? I mean, when things started to go badly, and the infamy became a little too much to bare, and it wasn’t as fun anymore. Right?”

Mike Black is…

A writer, reader, commentator, music lover, art lover, futurist, tech lover, pragmatist, romantic, DepDecoist, and a bastard. Hopefully you enjoy.

Archival Footage

RSS The Music

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Within the Lines

Blog Stats

  • 5,110 hits