The stuffy confines of the El Dorado smelled strongly of Camel filter-less cigarettes and Taco Bell extra-spicy tacos.  He should probably crack a window, but Harry found the warm pungency familiar.  Soothing even.  And the quiet comfort was the only thing keeping the grey matter in Harry’s skull from oozing out his ears.  That, and the old Peter Green tune playing quietly on Bessy’s radio.
        The song was one of the musician’s lesser-known early numbers that predated his Fleetwood Mac days, and the fingers of Harry’s right hand instinctively plucked air in perfect time with the warbling guitar notes that stretched and retracted like warm taffy. 
        There were only two medications that had the least affect on the constant throbbing in his frontal lobe.  And because the whiskey bottle had run dry two hours before, the music was currently the only treatment option at his disposal. 
            Harry let the blues seep into his pores and managed to relax his neck muscles enough to allow his eyelids to slide shut when a sharp rap sounded on the passenger window.  Harry’s index finger went from picking out an imaginary ‘e’ sharp to caressing the smooth, cool metal of the .38s trigger without any conscious decision on his part.

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CLICK HERE for part 2

CLICK HERE for part 1
 
 
When my main project stumps me, I resort to the easy stuff.  Another short to break through the writer's block. 

P.I. HARRY LYMAN
Episode 1, Part 2

            Harry’s part-time assistant – slash – wannabe model – slash – jail sentence waiting to happen was pushing through his office door as he was leaving.  Despite the bad bleach job, the fabulous boob job and the terribly misguided ideals, Jill was a good kid and a decent receptionist. 

            “Going out?” she asked, dropping a gigantic gold purse on her desk as she passed.

            “New case,” Harry said, shrugging into his favorite Padres jacket.

            “Good.  We need the money.”

            Harry growled something incoherent.

            “Not good?” Jill asked, snapping her gum as she flipped through the files in her inbox.

            “No.  Not good.  The opposite of good.”

            She shot him a questioning look with two perfectly drawn eyebrows. 

            “Jo roped me into helping with a political case,” Harry explained and patted his jacket pockets until he was satisfied they contained at least two cigarette lighters. 

                                                                             READ MORE of Part 2

                                                                            CLICK HERE for Part 1

 
 
Contests: I love to hate them and hate to love them.

I'd forgotten about my local group's annual short story contest deadline which is coming up QUICK!   Please keep in mind that I pounded out this (my first foray into YA) first draft just this AM.  Other than that, be brutally honest.  I need it.  

PleaseCLICK HERE to read the entire story.  It's only 2300 words.  Won't take long.  Promise.

FIRST MATE
   
    A random ray of dazzling sunlight caught and held a wave’s crest as it rolled into shore and the jib sail snapped sharply above my head.  Heading and speed looked good.  Engines idled in neutral.  Props were raised.  All clear. 
   
    I’d spent the second half of my nearly sixteen years living at sea, wondering how I had ever survived the first eight on land.  The prospect of going more than a day without the humid spray of Caribbean water or hypnotic lull of waves seemed simply unimaginable.

    “Take us on in Angel,” dad called as he cleated off the main halyard and secured the boomvang. 

    “Ready about!” I called to everyone.

    “Ready what?” seventeen-year-old Anya Crete demanded.

    “Ready about,” her younger brother repeated.  “It means we’re turning around.”
   
    Anya crinkled her petite nose at him.  “You are just loving this, aren’t you?”

    Tyson simply grinned at her and leaned into the wind.  Answer enough.

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A few of Eric's short stories ... as evidence of Split Fiction's drastically differing writing styles ...

Here's to hoping, praying and begging we can find a single, clear voice for the novel.

Life & Times of an Amigos Manager
A True Story

"Yeah, but there's no control."  It was a feeble argument, but handily offered.

"What kind of control is there in politics?  It's a free country.  People say what they want to.  Trouble is, you can say whatever worthlessness comes to mind, and if you get some other people to go along with it, then that's it.  The intelligentsia of a culture shouldn't be ruled by a pop culture, but in a democracy, they necessarily are.  It's a degradation inherent in the system."  Eric delivered the final words and hurried off. His timing was perfect with the 5/4 rhythm that had been pounded into the floor and dishes and utensils since he got there.  He grabbed a box.  Feet slid in pivot, sounding somewhat akin to a brush on a snare.  Footsteps resumed, and a hand tapped some shelving to pick up the place of a cymbal.

"Here's the thing..."  Eric stopped. 

Jon looked at him with that singular sort of look that clearly meant, what's the thing? 

Eric opened his mouth to continue, but there was a peculiar sort of sizzling coming from the back door, just more than 6 feet to his right.  His head turned.  The box dropped from his hand and time slowed as muscles began to work.  The box hit the floor and burst as plastic-ware exploded across the tile.  At the same instant, a larger explosion ripped through the store as the back door was blown clean from its hinges.  Time slowed further.  The pounding of feet at a dead run resonated loudly for a full three strides before Eric lunged and threw himself clear of debris.  Head tucked, he landed and rolled, springing instantly to his feet.

"Get in the cooler." 

The discussion of politics was obviously over, suddenly ended by the entrance of several militants with the look of business about them.

"More Runza employees," muttered Eric.  "Just what I need." 




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The Frantic Adventures of Little Red Robin Hood (and her various battles with the misaligned Sheriff Wolf McClainne)

Chapter 1:  In which the fair little red trips to see Grandma for her 84th birthday, and is then waylaid by two of King-Corperation's men, and is then, quite by the happenstance of escalation, put into the position of becoming an outlaw.

It was a bright, crisp, fall morning in Arrowhead.  Silence was broken by an even more crisp sound as Robin's alarm clock erupted into noise.  She opened her eyes and sat up, instantly awake and only slightly less instantly on her feet and moving.  She stretched in a teasing manner, as if to remind her muscles that they may or may not have some work to do, but not seriously preparing them for the prospect.

In two small steps she crossed the room while holding her arm stretched over her head, body swaying slightly to work the stretch into her back.  She looked over the rough sketch of a schedule that played itself over a dry erase board like a mix of art, mathematics, shopping list, and chaos.  Her eyes worked over the barely organized notes that penned the month, then smiled and sighed.

“Red, are you up? Oatmeal's getting cold!”

Robin groaned and ran a hand through her curly, dark red hair.  “Oatmeal. Ugh.”

She sighed again, then switched off her alarm, ending its insistent brrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii so it could finally fade away with a iiiinnnnggggggg.

“What's the diff if it does?”

The house she shared with her older sister was small.  Two bedrooms.  Kitchen and bathroom were combined in the middle.  In the back was a pantry.  The only luxury items were the toilet and shower.  Both had the latest hand-pump-pressurized system that ensured the water came out at good skin-scouring strength, or flushed completely assuming one spent a bit of time on the hand pump.

Robin sauntered across the kitchen to the corner bathroom and pulled the curtain mostly into place.  It's not like it hid THAT much.  The pump squeaked.  Ten pumps for number 1.  Eighteen for number 2.  If you wanted a shower, you had to put some work into it, but hell... it was better than hanging a bucket.



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Writing isn't always all glam and shimmer.  Sometimes there's an ugly side effect:  bloody forehead and matching face print on a brick wall. 

Since Hilary is a bastion of writing excellence, I thought I would offer a counterpoint for comparison, and display the darker side of writing.  For your viewing pleasure, two failed short story attempts.  They are temporarily in the “Dead End” folder.

It is absolutely the case that I have been somewhat negligent of late. Several people have cast doubts as to my intent to write on this blog.  This and other accusations I hereby rebut, hoping to assuage doubts and set right my account.

Many will likely find my tale too incredible for belief.   I, too, would discount the events I’m about to recount as fantasy or lies (is there any difference?) had I not experienced them with my own senses!  My purpose here is not to conjure unreasoned conviction, but to accurately detail the last two weeks of my existence: the very same two weeks which have been so invariably scrutinized, questioned and otherwise contested. 

I dare to hope my sincerity and candor will prevail if, perchance, my credibility be stretched on other counts beyond conventional bounds.

It was the Monday of January the 16th to be exact, and a poor one at that.  Counting inventory at 4 a.m. is never pleasurable, but 4:30 a.m. found itself providing the very best company possible, given the circumstances.  Honestly things were off to a good start till I received the phone call.

“Eric.  Rodger Moore.  Are you busy?”

“No, Rodger.  Just inventory.”

“Ok.”  A taciturn pause. 

I knew he would wait me out.  “How can I help you?”

“I need you in Morocco.  By 1700 tomorrow.”  Mr. Moore paused again.

As the statement sank in, I began to calculate cost and time against my store's budget and my own schedule.

“Ok.  I won't be able to leave till 3 p.m.  Inventory and Monday books will take till 9:30.  I also have to get all the other Monday paperwork done and place an order.”

I paused as my feet carried me just outside my office where an eight-by-eleven sheet displayed the week’s schedule and random splashes of dried taco sauce.  

“I’m cooking for lunch.  Can we book a flight between... 1500 and 1600?”

“That will be fine.  Fax me the schedule changes.”

“Ok.  I think I’ll need help with a couple shifts.”

Silence.

“Ok.  Very good.”

Silence.  No click.  Just silence.

To be continued ...

---
So now for fail number two:
(Good grief, someone throw me a freaking bone here!)
---

---
“So I live with my brother's ex girlfriend in our old house.  And my ex lives with my brother.”  She paused to take a long pull on a Sam Adams.  “We’re neighbors.”  She looked up, eyes focused.  “Do you think that's weird?”

I chewed my chicken artichoke pizza with the stoic focus of an Ascetic monk while desperately hoping my phone might ring and offer an escape from what had started as a blind date and quickly morphed into a  scene from Dante’s Inferno or Voltaire’s Candide, I’m not sure which. 

I opted to lie this time, hoping to avoid another pointless argument.  I just wanted to eat in peace.  “No.  It's not weird at all.  Sometimes you do what you have to do.”  I took another bite and gauged my success.

“So, what about you?  What did you do in high school?”  Score one for me.

She had already told me about being a gear head. I knew about the fast cars, and the drag racing, and the multiple tickets -- “One more ticket and I lose my license”, and the ex totaling her awesome mustang which ran high 11’s in the quarter, the domestic violence, and the breakup, and the periodic one-night hookups after the breakup, and the periodic domestic violence after the one-night hookups, and the restraining orders… 

I had always known blind dates were risky, but hadn’t expected a train wreck. 

“Hm... in high school?”  I paused to think.

Her eyes were crouched like a house cat waiting to pounce with ferocity on loan from a long forgotten maternal ancestor, the pet tigress of an ancient Persian king who met his demise at the swipe of her paw, oblivious to the fact that millennia of poor breeding and the lack of claws would fate this particular scheme a harmless foray of tawny fluff and whiskers. 

“I was really big into music and writing.  I think my senior year I had like, three band classes, a creative writing class, and philosophy.”

“Seriously?!”  She looked at me as if I had suddenly morphed into a space alien with green skin, antennae and a long insect-like proboscis.  To her, my response constituted a romantic mega-fail and I couldn’t have been happier about it.  Death was the only honor to be found in this battle.

“Yeah.  I have always liked music and literature.  I used to cut class and go to the library to read or study philosophy.”  I smiled smugly.  Low blow to the spleen.  Score two.  

“So, you were pretty much a nerd in high school?”

“Yeah.  I was a big band nerd.  I really enjoyed learning.”

“Wow.”

Awkward silence.  I smiled.

“So...”

More awkward silence as my smile began to hint at sardonic humor.  

“You have a Wii?” 

I definitely had her on the ropes now.  “Yeah.  I have one.  I love DDR.  Play it all the time.”  I took a bite of pizza.  It was still delicious.  No need to let a nerd-hating-gear-head-tramp ruin the flavor.

“Oh.”

Silence.  Was that fresh oregano?

“I play Mario Kart on mine.  I like to play online against people since I can't street race anymore.”

I snorted a little to myself, high up in my nasal cavity.  She may or may not have heard.  “Wait a second...”

“Ya?”

“...did you just call me a nerd?”

Her eyes narrowed. “Ya...”

“And... playing Mario Kart competitively online isn't nerdy!?” I replied, then continued, “I mean... it's awesome but...”  But being a gear head and racing till your license is nearly revoked and living with your ex's sister, and racing Mario Kart competitively online doesn't make you feel slightly less critical of others!??”

Righteous indignation crept in as she replied, “No. I don't think so.  I'm really good at it.  And I use the Wii Fit for exercise too.  There's nothing wrong with that!” 

“I didn't say anything was wrong.  I think it's awesome.  But it seems a little...” I shrugged and paused as my phone rang. 

Her eyes narrowed further as I took a bite of pizza before answering.  “Hello?”  I paused to listen.  “Yeah... I am kinda busy.  Is it really an emergency?”  She glared for all she was worth as the conversation continued.  “Well, if you really need me, I guess I’d better get over there.  Can I finish dinner or...”  I trailed off to silence and looked up in time to catch the rage building just behind her eyes.  I smiled warmly at her and concluded, “alright.  I'll get a box and be there in fifteen.”

“Did you just lifeline me?”  She was pissed.  Her pizza dropped to her plate, and her elbows thumped the tabletop hard enough to leave ice clattering in my empty glass.

“No.  I actually have to go.  It's an emergency.”  I nabbed the waitress.  “Could I get a box and my bill?”  Then back to my date, “I’ll get the tip.”

“What kind of emergency?”

I grinned.  “I would tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.”

She gave me a vacuous look.  It suited her.

--

--

So, obviously I am suffering writer's block.  This may clear up soon.  Who knows.  In the meantime I guess I will continue to play with ideas.

-E

 
 
_Fiction authors have a reputation for housing bats in their belfries.  I prefer to think of it as excess clutter in the attic.  A continual stream of stories, ideas and characters pile up until there's simply no room left, not even in the corners. 

Eric and I both find that putting these random ideas down on paper is the only way to clear out that clutter and, if we're lucky, the result is in story form.  Over the next months we'll be posting some random short stories on our "Whriterz Blok" page.  These random shorts are in no way related to our current novel, but are a means of making a little room, because honestly it manages to get pretty crowded up there.  Doubly so in our case.  So, feel free to come and browse, but watch your step.  We cannot guarantee your safety.

P.I. HARRY LYMAN
Episode 1, Part 1
    The legal-sized manila folder was deceptively thin and unassuming considering it held every pertinent detail of Dr. Jameson Coleman’s life.  It outlined his entire existence from uncomplicated birth, Los Angeles Memorial Hospital – June 12 ’65 – 2:03 a.m., to gruesome death, Beverly Hills home – August 19 ’11 – 9:46 p.m., and everything in between.  He liked anchovies, dyed his hair tawny taupe, spent every Thursday night with a mistress he’d nicknamed Bunny, preferred custom-made slacks that were perfectly tailored to allow his dick to hang to the left, and desperately loved his kids. 
    P.I. Harry Lyman lit the first of thirty-three daily cigarettes and scanned the folder’s contents without reading a single word.  No need.  Every piece of information had been scribbled by his own hand.

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