I haven’t made one of those retrospective New Year/End of Year posts yet.

So, let’s just pretend that I did and move on with business as usual.

Today I read a book. A whole book. At 12:30 this morning I tried reading a book to help me sleep but it only served to keep me awake until 4:30. I only went to sleep because I knew I needed to be awake at some point in the morning (I work up at 11:59 a.m. to be exact). Tonight I finished the novel while I put the Sugar Bowl on the background with the sound off. It’s not cool to see the Gators losing to Louisville but hey, this season went a lot better than expected and it was a fun ride.

So the book I read was Agent to the Stars. It’s a book by John Scalzi and it has accomplished two things for me.

1. It left me entertained by a book unlike some of my more recent readings.

2. It made me a little jealous.

Why the jealousy? Because the man states that this book was his “practice novel”. His practice novel was very good. A little sluggish in some of the details (I think he likes to let the reader know the logic behind his decisions for his characters a little too much because he also knows sometimes he puts in some wonky science to keep things fun.) Overall a solid read. And this was just…practice.

Dang…

Well I guess that means I’ve got a lot of work to do so I can produce a “practice novel” as well.

So, I’ve made myself a nice little glass of chocolate milk and grabbed a pen and pad for jotting down those precious ideas. I’m going to sit down tonight and bang out a few ideas. Maybe give one a whirl with a nice little rough draft. Then I’ll sleep on it. Let the miniature people that live in my gray matter do their work of repairing the damage from the day. Wake up and give it an edit and have a small existential crisis…then post it here for all to read.

That’s the plan.

Now I’m going to watch the final seconds tick away on the game clock for the Gators and then get to work.

D.A.

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Year One

May 15, 2012

Hey everybody.

It’s me, Douglas. I’m the guy who usually writes this blog. Actually, I’m the only guy who writes this blog but lately I haven’t because I’m a lazy bum. A tired and tried lazy bum. A man who’s seen the end of his rope in terms of energy usage and he has just allowed this place to collect a weird smell. The same weird smell that sticks to your clothes after you pull them out of storage from the winter. Or maybe it’s closer to the smell found in old china cabinets filled with your grandmother’s old thimbles.

I’m writing right now (despite all my glorious bumminess) because today is a special day. Today marks the one year anniversary of me starting this blog.

Huzzah!

Bookforme was created to serve as a tool so I could practice the art of writing fiction. I wanted to learn how to write something well enough to hold people’s attention as well as serve as a creative outlet for myself. So far, I think I’ve been able to reach these goals.

Now, if you remember, the main goal of me doing this is to write a book. Not to publish a book. Not to get recognized for my writing. Not to begin slipping into the infinite vastness that is the internet. But simply to write a book.

I haven’t done this yet. But I at least feel a little bit more capable of reaching this goal.

Actually, I feel so confident in this goal that I plan on participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Everybody always refers to it. Every says they love it. So I will mindlessly follow hundreds of thousands of others into the front lines of writing novels in the month of November. Wish me luck. It may be my first novel. (I say may because I could fall short of this goal…which is familiar territory for me.)

Other things have certainly changed in my life as I’ve been writing on here as well. I graduated school. I got a job. I got a haircut. I attempted to build a lamp. I started sending marbles around the world. I missed a lot of self-made deadlines for silly goals. I even developed a short lived crack addiction and was invited to join the cast of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.

Okay, I made that last part up.

It was meth…and I wasn’t invited on the show…

But despite all those silly things I would just like to write one sincere and complete message for you Dear Reader.

It’s all your fault. Yes, you. Put down that drink and read this! It’s your fault! You did this to me!

You made me feel comfortable writing and that let me feel entitled to write more and more. Your positive comments have only helped push me deeper into this realm, and now I fear there is no turning back. Your kind words and support my have ruined me…

And since I’m having so much fun doing this I just wanted to say thanks. Really. You small band of silly subscribers are the reason why I keep coming back to this place and writing guilt-ridden posts about why I’m not entertaining you as often as I should.

Thank you.

I mean it.

But just saying thank you isn’t enough. I want to give credit where credit is due. Some of you have put up with my self obsessed ramblings for far too long.

Some of the following blogs are made by people that I really admire. They are also people whom I personally feel are responsible for me wanting to do a good job whenever I post something on here. I have and will always look up to them. They are the standard by which I judge myself. If you have ever at any point thought that my ramblings have gotten better (or worse) over time, then you should look in the direction of these people who are directly responsible for molding me into what I am today.

Please support them by clicking their name and giving their stuff a look-n-see. They’re all wonderful and they all do a much better job than I do. I promise that any kind words I say about them were are not exaggerated nor were they bought with bribe money. (Well, okay, not MUCH bribe money…but a guy’s got to put food on the table somehow.)

Still Growing – If my memory serves correctly, she was the first person to begin following my blog. Whether she did it out of pity or interest means nothing, all that matters is that she is an author that I look up to in more ways than one. Her insight and honesty is unfounded and I hope you read her blog and feel the same connection I do whenever I read any of words. She can craft words to make you giggle or cry(and as a man I feel no regrets admitting that ). She can also run a pretty well oiled machine over there. If you read her stuff you will not regret it.

Fish of Gold – This is one of the most interesting people I have come across here on WordPress. Actually, if I knew her in person I would probably think she is the most interesting person I’ve ever met in general. She isn’t afraid to take on any topic and she is always willing to throw down her viewpoint. She’s also sharper than a double edged axe. This makes her wildly entertaining. She is also a professional in the quality of her words and she’s so subtle about it you hardly even notice it.  Plus she does a lot of lists…and I’m a sucker for lists.

Frank C. Bishop – This guy. This guy comes across as a real guy just being a guy. He is genuine and funny. He has his finger on the pulse of pop culture which always results in something great for you. Funny. Smart. Topical. Who wouldn’t like that combination? So…go ahead…click it. You know you want to. (He hasn’t posted in a while because he’s all married and stuff now, but he’ll be back.)

Excerpts From Non-existent Books – This is one of my favorite blogs because this librarian is capable of telling a better story in 200 words than I could in 2,000. All he does is create short excerpts from novels that don’t actually exist. Actually, he writes each piece so well that I’m certain he’s hardly a human being at all. My best guess is super writing cyborg from the future…This is what writing talent looks like.

Covers and Content – This is a personal friend of mine who is wildly creative as well as wildly Swedish. Her writing is astounding, her art is mesmerizing, and her blog is young. She makes my attempts at writing look like they were written by a drunken polar bear and my attempts at art look like they are as creative as a slice of moldy bread. Go support her and help her expose the world to her wonderful creations.

Snotting Black – This lady right here is the real deal. So real that I’m going to give her to official title of “The Real Freakin’ Deal”. She’s funny. Not funny like I just saw some uncle slip into the lake while watching American’s Funniest Videos, but funny like… like…like a good writer that knows how to write comedy and can actually hold your attention. She’s self-deprecating to the point of making your self-defecating. She’s so funny you’ll poop yourself. No lie. Reader beware, you will ruin your shorts if you click that link.

If there are some you reading this who are slightly offended because I didn’t include you on my list, please remember that I only take checks and cash for bribes. If you tried using the Paypal account your money did not get to me it actually went to a prince in Africa.

And to cap things off I just want to reiterate my thanks for you readership/participation in this whole thing. This year has been wonderful to share with you. I hope many more years come after this one. I also hope that you stick around too. I’m going to do my best to finally accomplish my goal this year and after that all bets are off.

Thanks again,

D.A.

Into The Fire

April 24, 2012

Occasionally, the world seems to crash down around you. Other times it seems to put itself on your shoulders like an ugly sweater made of lead. And sometimes the world just keeping poking you until you yelp out in pain, then it keeps poking.

Different people deal with stress relief differently. Some people have to surround themselves with friends. Sometimes people need to be alone.

Most of the time, I’m the person that needs to be alone.

Even if I got in an argument with somebody or I had to make a very heavy decision, I would need to chill out.

Actually, I would need to look into the fire.

I mean this both literally and metaphorically.

Literally, starting into fire is a comforting thing to do. Almost any fire will work but most of the time it should be a campfire. A fireplace would suffice as well. As long as it has an orange flicker and wiggles as it destroys something it’ll work.

Why fire? Well, it’s pretty simple. Men like myself have always stared at fire. Way back in the day when humans were wearing loin cloths and banging rocks together men still stared into the fire. It’s a beautiful thing. The flames seem to draw you in. It’s relaxing.

It also means I can focus on the fire. I can let it cook my thoughts away. Not permanently however, only for a short period of time. As soon as that flame goes out, I focus back on the situation that put me there.

But at least I was able to take my brain off the topic for that little bit.

Metaphorically, looking into the fire could be a way of refining or cleansing my mind. It burns away all the underbrush so it will prevent a much larger fire from starting. Inside of just being a small fire in a confined area, it would spread to the entire forest. This is like a little disturbance messing with my head but later spreading to insert itself into my heart and personality.

We all need to let things burn away every now and again.

If some of these thoughts made you say something like “Wow, this guy’s really saying something here.” then you probably need to stop. I’m not really saying it. It sort of stolen from this couple who writes books for couples and relationships. The book I’m referencing is called Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Read Maps. The people who wrote it are Barbara and Allan Pease.

No, I didn’t read this book, only heard some people today talk about the subject of it. And it sort of makes sense to me right now.

Sometimes I just want to get away from everything, not just people, but from my brain as well. And just like a child being distracted by shiny keys I get distracted by fire.

Of course this doesn’t HAVE to be fire. It could be working out in a wood shop or just browsing the clearance section at Books-A-Million. Either way, I don’t have to talk to anybody, I can just focus on the pretty colors of the covers and move on to the next.

I think this explains my weekly ritual of going to the comic shop every Friday after work.  I unwind by just looking at the same comics that were on the wall last week. I don’t call anybody after work and ask them if they want to take the 25 mile drive just to got buy 8 bucks worth of comics.

And nobody in the store really questions why I’m there. They know I’ll talk when I’m ready.

It’s good to know what my fire is.

D.A.

 

5 Days

April 17, 2012

Wow. Holy smokes. Hot cheetoes and rice.

Five days since my last post. It’s almost like I relapsed. I got a whiff of the laziness and I just fell back into the old habit. It has been so long since any original content on here I think my little red moon has some cobwebs around it. You see that?

I guess it hasn’t all been laziness. A good portion of it can be blamed on the increased workload toward the end of the year. For example:

FCAT.

No, I’m not incorrectly cursing about a cat. It’s the state mandated test that occurs in every school in the state of Florida. This week is offically known as FCAT week.

This means kids take a two hour long test on Monday and Tuesday. Then the school scrambles to make sure that every kid who missed taking it on those days end up taking it on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. If they don’t take the test, they fail the test. If they fail the test, they can’t graduate. Luckily this test is given to the 10th graders. So they got 2 more years to make it up. (That happens the week before FCAT Week).

So, this also means the normal hours of the day change. Kids are shuffled around and classes are shorter. Not to mention, we all know kids who just took the test as tired from taking one of the most important tests of the school year. So your day for teaching new material is pretty much shot.

Then I’m getting kicked out of my room for the Wednesday/Thursday Panic-and-make-sure-everybody-has-been-tested days-so-we’re-going-to-steal-your-classroom-all-day sort of thing. That means tomorrow and Thursday I will be in a room other than my own. That also means 12 kids will probably not remember I told them to go to a different room tomorrow. Which means many kids are going to get tardies (teacherism) for not showing up to class on time.

Since I’m in a different room (with a shorter class period might I add), the kids will be distracted and won’t want to learn.

So it’s an uphill battle all week. A guy can’t win.

Oh, and in three weeks the kids take their End Of Course Exams. This exam determines if they pass the class or not. And yes, it occurs four weeks BEFORE the class offically ends.

So what do we do for those four weeks after the class material has all been taught?

I dunno…ask me in about four weeks.

D.A.

Nevermind

April 2, 2012

Jessie quit.

Just like that she just up and left. It’s a real dissapointment. That means I will cancel my whole book deal and have gotten my job back as a teacher. The book is being pushed back indefinently. Sorry to disappoint all of you like that. Maybe next year.

Also, I’m not really named Philip Dalton. Or was it spelled Phillip? I don’t really know. It’s not my name…

So I’m back here running things. So let’s just pretend nothing even happened yesterday. Deal?

Let’s start of the month by showing you all another one of my goodies that I have received from my Marbles-Round-the-World project. (You really need to come up with a catchy and easy-to-say name for this project, cause’ I’m no good at it.) Today we will look at a marble that I sent to Malaysia.

CHA-CHING! That’s money in the bank! (Okay, it has nothing to do with money, but that’s just what came out…)

This little guy traveled further than any other marble thus far. It now has a lovely view of some very lovely buildings that are all stuck in perpetual winter of what seems to be glitter. A real sight to behold.

In other news,  I had a dream about taking a plane trip to Canada. I didn’t have a passport so they held me and kicked me out of the country. Luckily for me the plane had landed just inside the Canadian border. And I mean just inside. Like 50 feet from the border.

Weird…

Right now I’ve got a writing prompt to work on…so… go do something cool.

Good Boy

March 28, 2012

Good Boy

D.A. Bancroft

He wasn’t much older than a boy when he joined the police force. He had barely made his way through the academy. A simple boy that grew up on a farm outside of Chambers, Nebraska, and really had no place in a city like Los Angeles. He also shouldn’t have been promoted as quickly as he did.

“Alright Ricky. Cut the blue wire. The blue one. Go ahead. Cut it.” said Bomb Tech 1st Sergeant Raymond Butte.

“Woof!” replied the fat yellow lab known as Ricky. He wagged his tail not knowing of the danger that laid between his chubby paws.

That danger was a Class III detonator that was attached to a dozen sticks of dynamite. It was located inside of a Mercedes van parked outside of a few buildings downtown. A crowd had gathered after the L.A.P.D. Bomb Squad arrived with it’s lead investigators. Unfortunately, there had been some serious downsizing in the department. As well as some strikes over pay cuts. There was also the problem of a lack of funding in the first place.

In reality Raymond and Ricky were the entire Bomb Squad. But bomb scares were so uncommon these days that the police department figured they could float by on the two dimwits for a while and hope that things picked back up before things started blowing up.

Raymond wasn’t a smart guy, he knew that, but he recognized how his bad situation could end up. If this bomb went off inside of this plaza it would be more than Raymond’s job. It would cost him his severance pay too. Also, it may result in his immediate death.

“Hey man, are you sure you know what you’re doing?” hollered a concerned bystander nearly 40 yards away behind the police tape surrounding the scene.

“Yes, I’m a trained expert. I’ve dealt with situations like this plenty of times before.” lied Raymond. “Now just back away please, my partner is working on the situation.”

The man didn’t listen. “No man. Your partner is a dog. And for the past twenty minutes he’s been locked inside that car. That’s just stupid.” The man started to walk away. “I’ve seen a lot of crap man, but you take the cake. How’d you flunk your way through life”

Raymond’s stomach grumbled. He liked cake. He tried refocusing his attention on the pressing matters at hand. He had to diffuse this bomb and he was running out of time.

When Raymond and Ricky had arrived on the scene they had both suited up and walked carefully over to the vehicle. They noticed the bomb in the back and decided to diffuse it carefully. Raymond knew he had a time limit. So in order to save time, as well as make sure the bomb was safe from people walking around in the plaza, he told Ricky to stay in the van while he went back to the truck to bring some supplies.

When Raymond returned, somehow Ricky had locked himself inside. The recent memory of this made Raymond think that if Ricky was smart enough to lock himself inside a van, then maybe he would be smart enough to pull out a wire. It was at least worth a shot.

“Okay Ricky. I want you to bite the blue wire. Can you do that boy? Can you?” he tried inflecting his voice the way that would entertain a three-year-old. Ricky replied by flattening his ears and looking back with a blank stare.

Raymond put his face up to the driver’s side window. He could see the timer on the device counting down.

Two minutes left.

He and Ricky had not really accomplished much in their short career together. Their magnum opus up to this point in their careers had been that one time when they split that box of two dozen glazed donuts they got for free after one of their “training sessions”.

But maybe that could change today.

“Ricky,” he began angrily. “You better stop your lollygagging and get to work. You’re a trained professional. Act like one for once. We need to show people that we can be the best we can be.”

Another random citizen replied on behalf of Ricky. “That’s the Navy’s thing man.”

“Shut up.” Raymond spat back. “I’m trying to work here.”

“Could have fooled me.” said the man as he walked away.

Raymond cursed the man under his breath and look back down at the timer.

One minute.

“Please. Ricky. Do this for us.” begged Raymond. He hoped this canine could understand him for once.

The dog sniffed the bomb with interest. His belly was wobbling as his head searched around the edges of the bomb. Ricky even tried repositioning himself to smell with greater detail It was as if he had come across a new dog butt’s scent and he needed to know more.

“That’s right. Now just cut the blue wire. Just rip it out.” Raymond perked up. He felt the weight of his suit pulling him down. The heat building up inside of the heavy gear made his clothes stick to him. His underwear felt very uncomfortable.

Ricky then began to lick the bomb.

Just then Raymond then started to see how hopeless his situation was. He had been on the job for less than six months and everything fell apart. He was the only one left on the job and he only knew one thing. Always cut the blue wire.

That was the extent of his training.

Raymond counted all the things he had accomplished in his short life. He hadn’t even been to Disneyland.

Thirty seconds.

As Ricky was sniffing the bomb something miraculous happened. His collar got hung up on some of he wires to the device. With a good enough tug he might be able to disconnect the wires.

Raymond felt heartened. “Good boy. Now…up!” he commanded. He tried gesturing a lifting motion, but the suit made it look like he were miming dropping a hot plate of food.

The dog sat upright and yanked out the blue wire. Ricky’s tail wagged with delight. Raymond’s heart was about to burst out of pride and appreciation that his partner had finally pulled through.

Raymond stood there motionless. He held his breath. For a few seconds nothing happened. Then relief.

In the few seconds after Ricky had successfully saved the day Raymond began to think to himself. He pondered how he was going to turn his life around. Maybe he would actually read the Diffusing For Dummies textbook when he got back to the station. Maybe he’d take a few more notes. He had never learned about red wires, maybe they had something to do with bombs and stuff.

He even imagined taking Ricky out to buy two dozen glazed doughnuts from that place down the street that he liked so much. And since he was going to be the hero for the day maybe the boss would let him take some time off. Some R and R. Raymond imagined taking the time to visit Disneyland.

Then there was a spectacular explosion.

Not much of them were left afterward. Investigators had only found a chubby paw and some sweaty and charred underwear.

A funeral service was held. The two were buried next to each other. After the ceremony somebody had even left a few doughnut crumbs behind on their graves. They would have enjoyed that.

The strikes and pay cuts were ended and real professionals went back to work. Everybody was grateful the city was safe again.

Back To Work

March 26, 2012

Let’s just recap what’s happened over the past ten days or so.

I experienced the blessed time known as spring break. I stuck to my guns and gave you all a post on each one of those days.

I let you know about my marble conquests.

I shared some nice, deep, and personal thoughts on some problems in the world today.

I gave you insight of how my writing skill are (presumably) improving.

And most of all, I gave you THREE short stories.

THREE.

Actually, those three stories can be found here…

Bottoms Up

The Man in Blue

Happy Birthday

(I’m good at shameless plugs if you didn’t remember).

If you haven’t read these stories yet…then what are you waiting for? Go! Get busy! I did all that work for you!

YOU!

That’s more than I’ve given you in the past…I dunno…like…six months of promising to write stories that I never completed. So enjoy it while it lasts.

So much productivity… I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of you too.

You know why? Because, so far, you have given me some awesome feedback and that makes you kind and lovable people.

So thank you. Really. You’re wonderful.

I did good work during my break but now it is time to return  to my daily grind of seeding the young fertile minds of today to become the large fruit-bearing trees of knowledge that will soon be performing brain surgery on you tomorrow.

No, really.

One of my students is going to perform brain surgery on you. Tomorrow.

It’s actually very unsettling. I hope you have life insurance.

D.A.

P.S. – This also means that I will be writing most of my posts a day early rather than the day of. That’s because I will be so dog tired this week that I would likely forget to make a post for that day. So please excuse my seemingly oddly timed posts. 

Have you ever been frustrated when you were trying to learn something new? 

I remember trying to ride a bike with no training wheels. It was so hard. Months of effort had to be put into this whole ordeal. I fell. I scrapped my knees. My wrists were in shreds. Even my sweet and new Jammers helmet was all scuffed. (The stickers were starting to fall off! The humanity!)

I wanted to give up but my sense of “I need to ride a two wheel bike before older kids see me” kicked in. My young little ego kept me working toward my goal.

No surprise here, I reached my goal.

But I remember right after I started riding (like a pro) that I felt like I felt the process of riding the bike was become much more smooth. Much more practiced.

Better.

Today I feel like that a little in terms of my writing. I think some things are starting to click. (Mostly my ability to come up with a story in a short amount of time and leave things open ended so I can continue them later or have the reader fill in the blanks.)

I feel like a sponge that has been set under a faucet. The faucet is dripping slowly and the sponge is absorbing those drops. With time though, the sponge will become too full of water and some will leak out. That’s what I feel is happening. Some of the things I’ve been learning are finally leaking out into my work.

I know you can’t see all that. Not yet at least. But it’s coming.

It’s mostly because I have been having some discussions with some friends and working on stories of theirs. They will give me some of the characters and environments and I just blurt out a pretty detailed story sequence. Generally speaking they seem impressed. I can see an entire story in detail in a matter of a few minutes. Even if it’s not my own.

Now, I am still trying to figure out the best way to put these ideas onto paper in a way that’s solid. It’s not easy.

I’m not good at making words pretty. I can’t show the reader an environment how I would expect to be able to. I also can’t keep things too serious. This may work for some silly stories…but what about those deep and meaningful stories we all hope to write that will change the world one day?

For example:

A very good writer would write about a date in a way like this:

Her face was caressed by the setting sun on the horizon. The oranges and pinks mixed in with her chestnut hair and cheerful cheeks. Their eyes met with with a silent recognition. Things were just right.  After getting lost in each other’s gaze they looked out over the lake and took in what they would forever remember as “that perfect day”.

I, on the other hand, would write about a sunset like this:

The sun was red. Very red. It was setting after all. It was so pretty John almost forgot to look back at Rebecca, his blind date for the evening.  As he turned to look at her dazzling eyes he became so distracted by her sheer beauty that he failed to see the banana peel next to the garbage can on the path.

Two slipped discs and a hefty chiropractor bill later, he remembered that he hadn’t gotten her number that night.

“It could have been worse.” he thought to himself. “It could have been a pile of dog crap.”

You see? I always go for the punch line. I don’t know if I can do anything serious. Even when I’m trying to point out how I don’t use pretty language very well I still go for a joke. But I’ll keep trying. Maybe one day it’ll stick.

Until then, I’ll just keep sopping up those drops of good writing I see all around me. Maybe some of the good stuff will leak out from time to time and I’ll share it with you all.

Happy Saturday,

D.A.

The Man in Blue

March 20, 2012

(Author’s Note: This story is just a shell of what it should be. I completed the story parts…but decided I would save a much better edit until later. That means this is a very rough cut of the story I’ve been working on. Sorry it’s not more polished. I’m just a little too excited to share it I guess.)

The storm outside was relentless. The drops sounded like they were the size of quarters banging against the side of the once beautiful home. Now the unkempt home’s missing shingles allowed for a stain to grow in the northeast corner of the ceiling in the living room. James stared up at it as it grew during the duration of the storm.

He had been squatting in this house for the past four months. James did his best to hide from the neighbors but he was sure they knew. He didn’t speak to anybody and only stayed inside at night. One of his safe moves was to make sure he never used lights at night. It was a lonely place at night.

He only left during the early morning hours. During the day he would hang around the back of a Lowe’s closer to town hoping to get picked up by somebody for a day’s worth of work at a construction site. It usually didn’t work out. But the little money he did earn was usually in sweaty dollar bills and rolled up in a rubber band. Today was a wash out, so no work.

That’s why he had been sitting in his borrowed living room all morning trying to cook some Ramen Noodles on a small camping stove. It wasn’t working out too well. The last flavor packet had gone missing. How do you lose something when you hardly have anything to lose? James thought to himself. Today he would just have to settle with the flavor of hose water and plain noodle.

The little money he did earn was quickly sent off the pay for his growing alimony debt. He kept 50 bucks for himself when he could so he could scrape up some non-perishables from the store every couple of weeks, sometimes some propane cans when he was filling selfish.

If I only had more money. This was his daily mantra. He lived and died by these words, not that he had anybody to say these words to.

Thunder shook the house and made the windows rattle. James never liked thunder. When there was thunder there was lightning. He was terrified of lightning. It always brought up bad memories from his childhood.

As his pot of water started hissing, a knocking came form the front door. James passed it off as hail banging against the door.

James didn’t stop trying to stir his uncooked noodles. He looked back up at the stain on the ceiling. It had grown considerably in the past couple of hours. He thought about the idea that may need to ditch this place for another one soon. A different neighborhood always presented more problems. Maybe his future neighbors wouldn’t take kindly to the homeless moving in.

The knocks came again. This time they were much more rhythmic. James knew a person had to have done that. He left his noodles and snuck around the corner into the foyer. He tried peeking through a window for a car but didn’t see one.

Probably the police. I guess I overstayed my welcome. He pondered to himself.

“Mr. Harris?” came the muffled voice from outside.

A man in a blue suit stood under his porch. He had a weak smile and a fedora pulled across his brow hiding his eyes. The stranger looked like he was pulled out of the advertisement for cigarettes in the 1950’s. He was holding a briefcase that was handcuffed to his wrist.

This is weird. James thought to himself.

James opened the door timidly. “Yes. I’m here. What do you want?”

“I have something that was determined to be given to you.” said the man in a routine manner. He punctuated his sentence with the same passive smile that he wore before.

“What is it?” demanded James.

“Money. And lots of it.” the man stated with casual ease. He looked up to meet James’s gaze. He had dark eyes.

Bull. That was James Harris’s first thought.

“Bull.”That was also James Harris’s first reaction. He immediately felt like recanting his statement but he didn’t have a choice.

The man in blue shook his head. “You tell me.” The smile never left his face.

He pulled up the briefcase and unlocked it with a key he pulled from his breast pocket. When he opened his jacket James saw the holstered polished steel beneath it. The man in blue continued to open the briefcase displayed it packed neatly with stacks of 100 dollar bills.

“Holy-” James put his hand over his mouth the way an elderly woman shows shock at the sight of women in pants.

“That’s got to be close to a million dollars…” he finished his thought.

“Actually it’s 17.3 million.” piped the man in blue.

“Wow.” James continued.

“So are you interested in what I have to say?” chuckled the mysterious man.

“You may be my new best friend.” said James. I must be crazy. This can’t be happening.

“Fine then.” he gave a slight pause. “Would you mind if I stepped inside briefly?”

“Oh, yes.” said James, seemingly forgetting common courtesy. This guy must be soaked.

The man looked behind him at the storm with indifference as if taking notice of it for the first time. He turned back and smiled wryly. “That would be lovely. Thank you.”

They walked into the living room ignoring the storm outside. The man in blue stepped into the foyer without wiping his shoes on the old floor mat. James even noticed that the man didn’t appear to be wet at all. His shoes didn’t squeak on the marble floor. The man in blue turned and extended his unoccupied hand to James.

James returned motion and shook the man’s hand. Feels like this guy has had his hand in ice water.

The man in blue held the grip for longer than normal. “You’ve got a good grip there. You must work in construction.”

“Uh, yeah. Thanks?” James stammered out. “So, what can I help you with?” he eyed the side of the man’s jacket with the gun.

“I’m sorry to intrude like this but I was told that you would be here at this time. Your place of residence looks…lovely.” said the man in blue.

“Oh, yeah, well…” James tried a little humor. “My place in the Hampton’s is still being renovated. So I just pitched my tent here, for now.” James never took his eyes away from the holstered pistol.

“I don’t have much time, so if it’s not a bother to you, I would like to get straight down to business. I think that’s the phrase.” stated the stranger.

“Yes, I think that’s the phrase.” James agreed sardonically. The storm outside was picking up. The thunder really made James feel the uneasiness in his stomach. He felt like something bad was going to happen.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be brief.” the man in blue unbutton his coat jacket, the gun now in plain sight.

“I’m going to ask you if you wish to participate or not. If you agree, you will get this briefcase and you can do whatever your little heart desires with it’s contents. If you disagree-” the man thought seemed to trail off. “Well, let’s just say you’re going to participate.”

James’ heard the threat clearly. He swallowed and responded. “Free money sounds like a good idea.”

“Great.”

The man in blue uncuffed himself from the money and latched it onto James. James contemplated objecting be decided it was in his best interests to cooperate fully. He also couldn’t stop salivating at the idea of all that money on his wrist.

Heck, if this guys going to kill me, I might as well die rich.

“There is, of course, one catch.” said the stranger. His eyes narrowed. “You will have six days to spend all of this money. You are expected to spend it correctly. If you fail to do so within the assigned time period-” the man opened his coat jacket to reveal the gun fully. “I’ll kill you.”

James swallowed hard.

“That’s it.” The man buttoned his jacket again and started toward the door.

“W-wait. You’ll just kill me if I don’t spend the money? And you’ll kill me if I spend it wrong?” he waited for a response from the man.

“Yes. You have six days as well. Don’t forget the six days part.”

James was trying his hardest to not evacuate his bowels in front of this mysterious stranger.

“How am I supposed to spend it the right way? You want me to give it to a charity or something? Why not do it yourself. Why am I being … chosen for this whole crazy scheme.” whimpered James.

“You said you wanted more money. Here’s your chance.” stated the stranger.

Can this guy read thoughts or something?  James wondered to himself.

“Actually, I can.” said the man in blue.

“You can what?” queried James. He felt like he was going to throw up.

“I can read your thoughts. I can also tell a lot of things about you James Allen Harris.”

Woah.

“Woah, indeed. I can also tell you that were the person I picked for reasons you can’t see right now. You’re just going to have to trust me. I haven’t picked a winner yet, but you might be the lucky one.” the man finished. He started walking toward the door.

“You mean everybody who’s done this has failed?” said James.

“It’s a shame to say it. But yes. They have all failed.” The man reached into his pocket and tossed the keys at James. “Catch.”

James didn’t move and the keys hit his chest and fall to the floor.

As the man in blue opened the door the wind from the storm kicked some rain into the foyer. The splashing from the eve above made it sound like a waterfall outside.

“Oh, and I’d hate put you out like this, but you should probably use some of that money to replace these windows.” said the man ignoring the torrent outside.

James looked like a bewildered owl. “Windows?” he inquired.

His question was ignored and the man in blue stepped outside and closed the door behind him. No less than than 3 seconds later lightning crashed just outside of the same door.

Glass shattered and the windows blew inward. James thought a bomb had went off and threw himself down to the ground covering his head with the briefcase.

For a moment the shock took away all memories of the man in blue. James opened his eyes half expecting this whole ordeal to be a hallucination but he felt the cold handcuffs around his wrist. When he picked himself up he raced to the door and threw it open. The rain persisted but the man was gone. Vanished into thin air. It smelled like flowers.

Only a small piece of paper lay on his porch. James picked up the sopping wet rag.

It read:

June 9th at 9:00 p.m. I’ll see you then.

P.S. – Sorry about the mess.

James forgot his fear of lightning and stood outside as more arcs bolted across the sky. He ran down the street not caring if the neighbors saw him.

Six days. 

The Man in Blue.

D.A. Bancroft

Ideas

March 17, 2012

I got another short story coming. 

I didn’t plan it. It just showed up like an unexpected visit from an uncle that has that funny smell. Don’t get me wrong, you love him, he’s your uncle…but that smell. You know what I mean.

It’s one of those moments of Writer’s Non-block. If that’s a thing.

As a matter of fact the idea came to me at about 1 a.m. this morning. Like lightning….

Oh…you’ll see what I did there soon enough…

::Rubs hands together menacingly:::

So yes, this is a short post now telling you that I will have a longer (and hopefully a better) post tomorrow. I could have just surprised you with some productivity by displaying a new short story tomorrow. You would have made a double take. But I’m not going to use too much energy for this post. I’m in the writing mood. I’ve got the basic story down…now I just need to edit and make it better.

This additional brain usage will prevent me from making much more than that awesome pun you read above.

And a few notes: (in convenient listy goodness)

1. This will be more of a shorter story but it won’t be a flash fiction.

2. The reasoning behind this story is something I heard about writing. I’m not sure where I heard this but this is the idea.

There are two kinds of stories. One is a story of ‘The hero goes on a journey’. The second is ‘A stranger comes to town’. 

I like the idea of “a stranger comes to town”. It’s so mysterious. So cool. So here’s my take on that. A stranger comes to town.

3. It’s not going to be the most original idea ever…you’ve probably heard of a variation of it. But this one will be distinctly mine.

It’ll be called The Man in Blue.