The neighborhood

Story! Like the others, this is a first draft. Honestly, I don’t know what else to do with it.

**

The Neighborhood

“Oh great, there’s a neighborhood,” he muttered to himself.

He turned off the main road, clogged with afternoon traffic, and on to a smaller road. He wanted to make a small short-cut in order to bypass the congestion.

He sighed, “There must be a wreck or something.”

He switched the radio off and continued down the road. It was a small, paved road, with no median marker and he began to feel as though he was riding down a country path. Large trees bent over the road to shade it with vines and shrubs growing up between them up to the edge of the asphalt.

“Looks like I’m the only one who thought of this.”

The road began to curve slightly to the left and he continued on. The trees looked as though they’d backed off from their original positions. A small field started on the right, edged up against a cluster of trees covered in kudzu, and a small house on the left.

“Good. I thought I was going to end up in some hidden industrial park.”

Another small curve revealed a small neighborhood. Mid-sized houses, painted white or beige, settled onto large yards. He hit a stop sign at a fork.

“Might as well go left. It’ll take me back to the main road.”

He made the turn, going up a small hill, noticing houses with classic cars in driveways and fences with “Beware of Dog” signs. He smiled and nodded, going down a gentle slope while passing a large, 3-storey white house. He hit another stop sign and took a right, realizing that a left would lead him right back to where he started. The foliage started up again as he continued down the quiet street. He had the opportunity to glance around and noted that a lot of the houses had their windows and doors open. The road began to curve slightly to the left as foliage began to take over the area from the houses.

“This must be a chill neighborhood,” he thought. “Doors open, screen doors keeping the bugs out, and no one playing anything loud.”

The trees began to rescind as the road straightened out, a small field began on the right and a small house on the left.

“Huh. Must’ve hit the wrong road.”

Soon, he was back at the first stop sign he had come across in the neighborhood. He decided to go right instead of left, which was straighter and didn’t go up a hill. A few of the houses, mostly painted beige, seemed to be a little closer together than the other houses he had seen. He decided to cut the radio back on, thinking that maybe he could catch the hourly news update. Static filled the interior.

Every station he turned to emitted nothing but static. He turned the radio back off and sighed. He must be in a spot with a lot of interference, he thought. There are a lot of trees around the area. He glanced around and saw someone walking along the edge of some of the yards. They were wearing a jacket with the hood up and looking down at the ground, so he couldn’t tell if they were a teenager or adult.

He shrugged and continued driving, eventually passing the walking figure. Another stop sign appeared at a T-junction and he went left. The houses looked a little bit closer together, some seeming to share lawns. A few had some simple little flags hanging out near the front porch. A flag with bumblebees on the right hand side while a flag with summer birds on the left a few houses down. A birdbath was off to a side, a swing-set peaked out from a backyard, and he noticed that all the windows and doors were wide open like the houses on the other street.

The road wound lazily, passing a small creek, and continued. He looked around as trees covered in kudzu started to creep closer to the edges of yards, slowly taking over the properties and tangles of wild honeysuckle made its way towards the pavement. It curved slowly to the left and he noticed that the same house was on the left hand side, just as the same field was on his right.

He groaned. “I’m going around in circles. It’s always circles. This town is nothing but freaken circles and I’m stuck in a little clusterfuck of them.”

He continued on, taking the right at the first stop sign. The person in the jacket was walking on the same side of the street but going in the opposite direction. Probably some kid going to a friend’s house or something, he reasoned with himself. The T-junction came up and he took a right, willing the small road to lead him out of the neighborhood.

He rolled the windows down, “Fresh air should help.”

The air was warm, like evening air at summertime but not humid. He heard no birds nor the cicadas which he had gotten used to going to sleep listening to the past month or two. He smelled no grill smoke nor the fresh scent of a log fire, which his neighborhood was filled with. Most of his neighbors had taken advantage of the nice weather in order to have friends around for hot dogs and roast marshmallows.

The road was straighter than the one he had taken when he went left, but it was starting to curve a bit. He passed a few more houses with “Beware of Dog” signs, but realized he hadn’t heard a single dog bark. Surely even dogs inside the houses would still bark loud enough to cause a muffled sound to waft through the open windows. The curving road started going left. The small house on the left came in to view as the field, surrounded by kudzu laden trees, appeared on the right.

**

Ok, I lied. It’s the second draft (just first draft digitally since the first bits are in a notebook)

The circles comment is a frequent here in Roanoke (it’s all damned circles!)

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[witty life title here]

I’m trying to not look at the short story. Do not look. Do not pull it up. I know I’ve gone past where I wanted to throw that good oomph punch to end it and I’m trying to not ask myself why I’m continuing the story. If I step back, I can print out the story, read it over, edit it, and if I still feel like that good oomph is needed, I’ll mark out the last page or two and add that ending.

The kittens have gone crazy. I fear for my toes. (and my food.)

September is masquerading as August, which was a terrible month for us (lots of stress).

Friday, the truck tire went flat so we have to borrow Rhonda’s car until we can get a new tire (there goes the majority of my upcoming paycheck. no worries, we need it anyway) because it’s the replacement tire that we were using (full size. Come on, it’s a 20 year old F-150. that thing can’t run on a donut)

Yesterday, Jamie’s grandfather died. We’re waiting on details for whatever services they decide on.

Over the weekend, I realized that when I tell people some stories from my younger, more adventurous days, they must think I’m lying through my teeth. Even the simple story of beating someone in the face with a shoe (a classic that ends up getting told every few years to point out that I may not seem mean, but I’m a vindictive little shit) seems to be…an embellishment, a tall tale, a stretching of the truth. In reality, I condense the story down (I don’t usually say why I beat this girl in the face with a shoe)

I’ve also realized that I must be more stressed than I realize because I am one grumpy mother fucker lately. I need to fix this

We currently have three nekkid dogs (they don’t have their collars on) because they got a bath yesterday. Cricket was first, with her medicated shampoo. She tried to lick the soap and flung water in Jamie’s eye–both things that the bottle says to not do. Thanks, dog. Firefly was next, bathed solely by Jamie because I was working on laundry (it never ends. omg), and then I got to bathe Bug by myself. Bug’s gotten a little better in her old age, but I think the reminder than she gets a rub-down after the bath, which she loves, and a bunch of treats is what keeps her from trying to jump out of the tub. I also realized that my deadlift is still good because I picked her up no problem (one day I’m going to fuck my back up picking up a 65lbs squirmy three-legged dog)

And…this morning (at like 2 am or whatever), I had just woken up to roll over when we got a huge, reverberating BOOM of thunder (louder than when the trees up the street got struck by lightning) and the floodgates were open. And Jamie was privy to the realization that…there’s a leak in the roof. Oh for fucks sake.

On the plus side:

Jamie surprised me with two Tsum Tsums. Puumba and…it’s supposed to be Simba, but he’s getting called Warthog because it’s funnier. I also impulsively bought 122 plastic folders (at 2-cents each) last night. Because I realized I could use it as building material. wtf is wrong with me? Poor impulse control mainly.

Stuck

The day before yesterday, I gave up and began typing up that short story that I’ve been working on. Just barely over 2,000 words. Yesterday, I got just over 600 words. Today, I’ve sat here for about an hour and have managed 3 sentences.

I told Jamie I was going to give up for the day. He said I should give up for just right now, and I told him listening to comedy probably isn’t helping. I figure yesterday I did fairly well while listening to M R James stuff and today I’m not getting anything written down because I’m listening to a Robin Williams routine.

I guess I’m having one of those stuck moments. Not a writer’s block, but more of a stuck moment. Writer’s block is just meh, I can easily go to another story and continue with that. Chances are, I just need to step away from this particular peice for a day or two and look at where I’m at with a fresh set of eyes.

Fresh set of eyes, now there’s an idea. (not for this story though).

Writing is ridiculous

I’ve been working on the first draft of a short story that I thought would probably end up being around 600-800 words or so, but I’ve decided to write it in a 1-subject notebook that has both short story beginnings/pieces and comic sketches. I have no idea how many words I’ve gotten so far and keep reminding myself to not count them before I’m done because, really, what’s the point in that.

I haven’t been working on it every day because I am a procrastinator and life happens. I’ve been working on it while on my lunch breaks at work, so I have something to amuse myself with after I get irritated at getting killed by Stimpy or dying by mousetraps (argh! I can’t believe it. I get past Stimpy only to die by a freaken mouse trap?! wtf. I should’ve gotten Megaman. grr)

The other day, I was texting Jamie while working on it and asked him if I should make a Douglas Adams reference because I had already made a reference to the dolphin guy (double checking Mysterious Universe and I’m 90% sure it’s Aaron McCollum, which is mentioned on episode 309–I’d listen to it, but I’m currently listening to a podcast where they’re interviewing a guy who wrote a UFO/Extraterrestrial book and is trying to make it so it becomes “mainstream.”). Jamie said I was just doing this to procrastinate and keep from writing. I guess he was right, so I made a comment on twitter about how I wonder how many nerdy references I could cram into the story before I remember we already have that and it’s called Ready Player One. (a book that I have yet to finish and I doubt I finish it.)

Then I realised, fuck it. It’s my story, I can do whatever I want. If I want vampires to come out of the walls, I can do that. It’s not part of the plan, but I could do it. It’s not like anyone’s going to see the first draft. When I go to type it up, it’ll get changed. When I print it out so I can re-read it for the nth time and do a few edits, chances are the only person who will see it is Jamie (unless I go fuck it and post it up here to see what happens).

I’ve been tiptoeing on the line of crazy conspiracy theorist writing this. I’ve made references to the dolphin guy, a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference, Hollow Earth theory, and mentioned Reptilians. I mentioned anthrax in the mail (and there goes the beep for government tracking. Hi guys! It’s just me.), a Jello brain (an oldie but a goodie. I remember keeping an eye on the Jello mold from ThinkGeek’s HQ years ago), office hijinks, Anarchist Cookbook (there goes another ping in tracking), extra-terrestrials and star gates, NASA, “late-night radio shows,” and the Silk Road.

By the time I wrote down the Silk Road, I realized that I’m going to bring in the MIB into this story. Like the classic 50s/60s MIB, because witness statements make them extra fucking creepy. And why not? It works out for the story. The whole roundabout way to the ending is becoming hilarious to me, but it works because I don’t have to do much research on it. I just have to rely on memory for the most part (oh all those fun stories from childhood)

I realize I’m procrastinating on writing now as well. I have the notebook right beside me but I can think of a handful of other things that need to be done. I’m enjoying writing it, but I’m also at a point in the story where everything is just so damn ridiculous. There are parts of it that I find stupid as I write it, but I also realize it’s part of my process.

Life rundown

Well, it’s been 2 weeks since I last posted, which has blown my “I’m going to try to update at least once a week, even if it is something ridiculous” idea. Meh. Oh well I guess.

I have no idea what the first 7 days did besides work, sleep, take care of pets, housework. So, I’m going to talk about what I do remember.

This past Thursday, Jamie and I headed over to his cousin’s place and we hung out, watched youtube videos, and discussed all kinds of random things. The idea, originally, was to hang out and play video games, but we ended up telling each other about random things and had to look them up on youtube. These included watching half of Begotten, which I don’t reccomend to most people because it’s fucking weird and we used it as a jumping off point to discuss art and people who feel the need to have to over-explain their work. I got him to watch a couple Jan Svankmajer videos on youtube, which prompted the usual “God damnit, fucking dolls.” comment from Jamie (who hates dolls, especially porcelain dolls).

Noah, in turn, showed off videos by Glass Animals (and watching the Jan Svankmajer films later went “Now I see where they got it from!”), hit up Hulu to see if there was anything while we discussed “old” Adult Swim shows, and went back to youtube because I mentioned Don’t Hug Me, I’m Scared and he had to see what I was talking about. He agreed it was very much in the same vein as David Firth and mentioned that he still can’t get Rene (his wife) to finish watching Salad Fingers.

Beyond Thursday, we hit a sad note: Cocoa, our rat, died in her sleep. She was about 4 or 5 years old, and we’d had her for a while, and the downside is that we’ve been kind of keeping an eye out for her to leave us because she was getting on up there in age.

Honestly, we had no idea how old she was before we adopted her with her cagemate Butters. So there’s a high likelyhood that she was older than the estimated year or so that we figured. They both stayed with us for quite some time and I asked Jamie if he thought we should keep the cage for just in case or donate it to one of the rescues we work with (even though we don’t work with them as frequently as we used to, we’re still kind of “in the game” but more so in the background as the “occasional people”). He said it’d be a good idea to just keep the cage until someone says they need one or the whole “every couple of years rats show up at the shelter or pound and they have no idea what to do with them” thing that has apparently started to become a “thing.” (sigh)

Cocoa will be buried, along with her cagemate, as soon as we get the chance. Until then, Cocoa is joining Butters in the basement freezer.

Jamie started going off about “no more dead animals in the freezer” and I pointed out that it’s only Butters in there. He quipped that we still have that container of dead mice and I said they don’t count because they’re food. He said he’s not eating them and I said neither am I, implying that it’s too much work, and he said he’d have to text David and see if he needs them for their snakes.

It may sound morbid, and to most people I guess it is. But I also grew up keeping dead animals in the freezer every so often (hey, it happens, especially when they die in the middle of winter and you can’t bury them. at least I’m better than my dad, who ended up leaving one of mom’s dogs (who died of natural causes) in a trash bag on the washer during winter because the basement was practically an icebox). Besides, I’ve got to find a nice spot in the backyard to bury them (Butters died when the ground was too hard to dig–during winter. Yes I know it’s now September. It’s been a busy year)

On a lighter note:

I have picked the “last” of the tomatoes, as Jamie has said he’s cutting everything down now. I was able to get one Ugly Tomato out of the bunch, a ton of romas, and Dunk ate most of the cherry tomatoes. I’m fine with this and we’ve learned that Dunkdog loves tomatoes (fine, whatever. as long as he doesn’t eat too many and doesn’t eat the stems, leaves, etc). And at least the tomatoes that have grown have been small enough to where if he eats three or four one day it’s not going to hurt him. I’d prefer he didn’t eat tomatoes, but he’s a stubborn dog and I can’t stop him if my back is turned and looking for things to pick.

Count Chocola, Boo Berry, and Franken Berry are now available. Candy corn is now available. And Pumpkin Spice everything has come. There’s Pumpkin Spice Cheerios now and I have to wonder what the fuck is wrong with people when we get to the point that cheerios and cat litter now have the same “Limited Edition” flavor/scent. Yeah, I love this time of year as much as anyone, but it’s starting to get out of hand.

But, this also means that The Country Store in Bonsack is starting to carry their little selection of Halloween earrings. Jamie and I hit up the store this past weekend (Saturday maybe?) and found that they had two of their tables set up as clearance tables (the tables are usually for the various plants that they’re selling during the spring and summer). Jamie found a little jewelry box for his grandmother, I found an infinity scarf, and he found two ornaments for his coworkers. He also found a little pomeranian ornament and I grabbed a pair of poison bottle earrings and a little ceramic snail. It was a lot of fun and we always find some little goody down there. Their Halloween, Fall, and Thanksgiving stuff was out so we looked around.

At some point over the weekend, Jamie lost his glasses and we’re not sure where they’re at. They’re not at the Bonsack Walmart or Kroger, they’re not at Game Junkies (where we stopped by over the weekend so Jamie could buy a game, which he promptly lost, and I could by a gameboy and game), and they’re not at the Walmart Marketplace store on Orange (where I got me some Count Chocula!), so I’m waiting until a little after 9 to call the Country Store and see if they were found up there.

I haven’t finished my craft project, but I did work on straightening up the craft room a bit. I’ve worked a bit on writing and I’m at the point where I find that the story I’m working on is stupid as hell, fucking redundant, and I am a fake. I have to remind myself that it’s the first draft, I’m allowed to fuck up as much as I want, and it’s actually coming along nicely.

And now I’ve got to do a bit of research for Jamie, work on laundry, and figure out a way to make it feel like something is trying to exit my brain through my ears/eyes. Yay migraines.