The Haunting Letter

August 2, 2020

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Alas, its content must remain anonymous… for now

It’s late. You stare at one of your many aquariums. The tank light is off but you can still see the neon tetras flitting about in the darkness. Hence the name. Oh, to be one of them. Cared for. No predators. Mating with impunity.

Once, when you were a boy, your brother had become terribly mad at you. You don’t remember why. He’d taken it out on your butterfly collection, breaking the mounts with a baseball bat. Grimly, you imagine Sarah smashing your aquariums, myriad fish splashing onto the floor gasping for air. Outside you hear the wind blowing down from the mountains.

Enough. Turn off your computer. Make sure the house lights are off as well, the front, the back and the hallway. The girls always leave every light on. They are teenagers.

Has it only been three days since receiving the letter? It seems painfully longer. You are in purgatory, riven by dread, knowing yet unknowing what terror awaits you. The extortionist had given you ten days from the postmark to sort out your payment. Waiting for the gallows, you would have expected time to pass faster.

Take your pills. Brush your teeth. Find the bed in the darkness. Slip under the covers, next to your wife who, tonight, is not snoring. Not yet anyway. Hopefully she won’t before you fall asleep.

To be continued…

Play Misty for Me (2)

July 29, 2020

Continued from previous…

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This too shall pass your mother liked to say, even if she didn’t believe it. But she was right. Mist or fog, it evaporates. At times you embrace sadness, its depth and gravitas. But like an old friend he can overstay his welcome. Then you have to wait him out. Drag him along on your errands. Enduring his sourpuss and cynicism. Sometimes, you might ditch him on a hike. He couldn’t keep up in the gym either. If those things failed, you brought him to a meeting, tossing him center circle with everyone else’s shit.

Relief comes. And when it does you embrace it. Sing its song for as long as you can, feel your body electrified by it. Such joy is a blessing. And fleeting. A feminine spirit, she does as she pleases. An ephemeral pink cloud, you keep the window open for her.

You do miss the excitability of grandiosity. But ridding this was a fair price to pay for the leveling of valleys. Roller coasters are thrilling but no way to live. Soberly, you tread flat terrain.

But still…

There is the matter of your lesser addictions. Gluttony. Lust. It’s paradoxical, leaning in to them while turning away. You cannot resist the siren’s song.

More content coming soon!

A Chorus of Sirens

July 24, 2020

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Everyone, you think, is some kind of addict. Be they active, recovering, or on the brink. Passions which are good become obsessions which are bad. People are self-seeking. This is the human condition, the result of Original Sin. Yearning. Craving. Lusting. Demanding. Wanting. Needing. Soothing. The seeds of addiction are there, have always been there. Many are able to temper these urges, denying the seeds what they need to flourish. But they’re still there. Waiting for a deluge, a perfect storm of misery or even joy… or just another shitty day. Then boom! Out comes the Hagen Das. The lonely housewife turns on the TV and never turns it off. An old man retreats to the garage for a smoke. Some concede to only a few addictions. Maybe they are harmless ones – a gardening obsession, collecting figurines. Or weird: like hoarding. Hidden from the world. In others the seeds erupt as soon as they touch a nerve, like weeds in a vacant lot. Out of control. You’ve met no one who has not succumbed to something. Drugs and alcohol are the poster children for addiction. Plenty else is out there.

What are some of yours?

Author Unknown (3)

July 8, 2020

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Oh, but how you want to be known for something! Even for just one book. One story. Being published is a fantasy as powerful as any opiate, more so because of your tireless effort. Each book was an obsession, like Captain Ahab’s Great White Whale, Ernest Shackleton’s quest to find the arctic passage, compelling you forward, driving you insane. You forsook everything to write –parties, movies, dinners with your wife, talking and fucking. _______ vacillated between resignation and resentment, jealous of your ardor for writing, how you cherished the craft more than her. It would pay off, you told her, you told yourself. When you became a known commodity.

You came so close…

The meetings in Hollywood were electric, with so many important people giving a shit about you and your work. Even so, the pinnacle eluded you. For your first book you settled with a dozen mostly positive reviews on Amazon and a $7,500 dollar option from Touchstone Pictures that went nowhere. Your second and third novels had equally mixed results. None were failures. But none were great successes, at least in terms of the marketplace.

Self-publishing demanded you do your own marketing and publicity. Being an ad man you took this on with gusto. For The Last Generation, you produced a teaser video, which can still be found on You Tube. You created billboards and posters for The Happy Soul Industry. For Sweet By Design you hosted an online book cover contest, giving away an iPad to the winner. Each book had its own website, Facebook and Twitter. You wrote press releases. You wrote more queries, this time looking for options, reviewers and always a legitimate publisher. Above all, you wrote checks. Lots of checks. Some days it felt like buying lottery tickets. Other times you were pissing in the wind. But you paid. You would always bet on yourself.

To be continued…

(If you’re interested in any of my books please click on the links right side of this blog!)

God Is… or isn’t.

June 25, 2020

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It’s one of several lines in the Big Book you balked at. There aren’t many mind you. But this one feels religious, not spiritual. God didn’t make this claim. He, She or It wouldn’t. A person did. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Almost every idea, if not word, in Step 2 belies the absolutism of God is or He isn’t.

God, like truth and love, are big ideas – the biggest. But they are still only concepts and therefore open to interpretation and gradation. We must tell people the truth “unless it would injure them or others.” Truth could be parsed. Contradictory statements may both be true. Homicide might be murder or manslaughter, voluntary or involuntary. Which is truer becomes a matter of opinion. Conditional love is still love, is it not? Maybe not pure love but better than no love at all.

The ultimate leap of faith, God remains unprovable. “Coming to believe in a power greater than yourself” is a process, not an outcome. Many people have gotten sober without subscribing to an all or nothing God, including you. Scores have achieved long-term sobriety without God at all.

There is a devout atheist at your gym. You know this because he always wears tee shirts proclaiming his atheism. You’ve counted three different shirts so far. It’s weird. Unsettling. You would feel the same way about someone wearing a worshipful tee shirt. Promoting such a personal belief strikes you as, if not wrong, off putting. That said, one of the atheist’s tee shirts makes you laugh: In the beginning man created God and then all the problems started. Is it funny because it’s true? Maybe. Yet wearing the joke on his sleeve seems inappropriate. Even to you.