Characterization of Myself

December 31, 2012

If I were to appear as a character in a novel (or any other work of fiction for that matter) I think I would be described as wearing one T-shirt.

It would be this one:

jademeridian 009

That shirt right there defined me for about 7 years of my life. By my gross estimation I have probably worn it over 700 times. It’s now gotten to the point where the material is thin and the art is faded. The shirt has shrunk about half a size in the arms and stretched nearly half a size in the torso. Its solid blue hue is stained with areas of favorite meals and exciting trips. If my memory serves me correctly there’s probably a hole in the right armpit.

I knew it had to be retired after it started to develop a smell. The moment any water touched it it made me smell like a sweaty teenager just getting back from 4th period gym class. So I gave it a permanent home in a nice little T-shirt case where it will rest in all its glory for ever and ever. (That is, if I can find a place I would like to hang it)

There were times when this shirt was worn as a badge of pride. There were instances when it was worn as a jersey for a soccer team. I think I even let a friend borrow it once. No matter the manner in which it was seen it is very important for you to understand that this piece of cloth was my identifying characteristic for so long.

If I were a cartoon, I would wear this every episode.

So what’s the story behind it?

It’s a T-shirt from a band called Jade Meridian. Haven’t heard of them? I hadn’t either until I saw them play about 45 minutes before the band I really wanted to see went on stage. So I listened to them and applauded…only hoping that it would make them feel like they had done a good enough job to finish up and start things up with the next band.

The band that followed them was called Zao. You don’t need to know much about them other than this. It was basically the same band. It had the same people on drums, guitar, bass. Only difference was they had a different lead singer (guitarist just sang). They also didn’t play the more hardcore metal Zao did and stuck with more of a sorta indie rock thing.

It was my first real “show” I had been too. (The quotes have been added because if ask any youth of today they don’t say “concert”, they say “show”. It’s hip. I’m hip. So I use those words.) It was actually the first metal concert I had ever attended. I was thrilled. I was confused. I was tiny in a sea of humans that wear at least 6 inches taller than me. I was a little terrified of the pushing that was happening and there wasn’t even a song playing.

The noises…the crowd…the all-around coolness of everybody involved with the “show”. The thoughts are flowing back to me and I’m getting shivers.

I about pooped myself when Zao (my favorite band at the time) finally took stage. They destroyed our senses in more capacities than I realized they could and went away. Our bleeding ears and watery eyes thanked them.

After the near-pooping experience was finished I did what any newly indoctrinated metal fan would do. I went to go buy “merch” from the band in their little kiosk area. (Yes, “merch” is also the cool cat version of saying “merchandise”. And since I’m a cool cat I use the phrase. Liberally.)

So I made my way over to the kiosk and get to say the same thing that everybody else was telling those sweaty musical gods.

“Hey man…great show.”

Yeah, we weren’t very creative.

Their response was just as enthralling.

“Yeah. Thanks.”

So I find some shirt I want and try to hand the guitarist my money. He turns on his salesmanship and begins telling me that I would save money on the Zao shirt if I also purchased a Jade Meridian shirt. This didn’t make sense to me, but since he had just melted my face off with his sick guitar chops (the hip lingo returns and you know why) I couldn’t really bring myself to disagree with him. I also didn’t want to tell him I didn’t really want a shirt from a band I didn’t particularly enjoy.

I knew they were just guys that were trying to make a living doing something I admired and wished I could do. I also felt like they were really good at it. So why not? Right?

So I bought both shirts.

I bought the blue one. And the blue one just happened to have guitars (Gibson Flying V guitars) in a shape that resembles the Walt Disney logo. (I should also mention that one of my least favorite guitars is the Gibson Flying V).

Despite all these factors working against it…I wore that shirt. I wore it more than I should have. And I don’t really regret it.

I think I was one of my most commonly worn shirts when I played my own “shows” with my own band back in the day…(That’s right, I got to be the same guy  that got to sell “merch” at his own band’s table. I got the same chance to have the riveting conversations of “Hey man, great show.” followed up with the “Yeah bro, thanks.”

Ahh…the circle of life.

So here’s the part where I tell you the whole lesson behind the story of the shirt.

My shirt represents how decisions you’ve made that may not be popular could end up being decisions that define who you are. They can sometimes stick with you the way an old T-shirt clings to you. It’s familiar and comfy, but only after you’ve had it for a time and broken it in.

Yeah…that’s sounds good.

So, do you have any neat stories about anything you’ve acquired in your life that just seem to stick around and help define you? If you do, then you know what to do. Write your own post about it. Make it better than this one. Also, you could comment down below. If you don’t, then I suggest looking up a local band in your area and buying a T-shirt. It might just be worth it.

D.A.

 

 

Advertisements

New Hobby

September 20, 2012

There is something very interesting that I’ve come across in my readings.

(That makes it sound like I’m a research scientist that commonly reads peer reviewed articles all the time. Or it makes me sound like I could be a wizard that reads old tomes for new spells in my arsenal. Or maybe I’m just a nerd for pointing this out.)

In some of the comics I’ve been reading lately the writer has decided to do something very interesting with changing the perspective of the story between two characters.

The comic is called The Unwritten. (It’s fantastic by the way and you should be reading it) Somewhere around issue 30 the author decided to speed up the story by releasing a new issue every two weeks. For comics, every two weeks is insane. Once a month is the standard throughout the industry (and still even popular titles get delayed from meeting this goal from time to time.) So what’s happening here is insane on some level involving logistics and timing.

But the story-driven purpose behind this move is to see the story through two different characters’ eyes. These two characters are the protagonist, a reluctant hero thrown into a situation not of his own doing, and the main antagonist, a very evil man that is immortal and relentless in reaching his goal. On issues with a whole number we learn what happens next to our hero. On issues that have a “.5” after the issue number we get to see more of the baddie’s story.

I don’t think I’ve ever read something like that before that also managed to flow quite so nicely.

While I won’t be able to do exactly the same thing I think I would like to give something like this a shot for my NaNoWriMo novel. I think I’ll incorporate the antagonists story as well. Could be a lot of fun. (I also recognize it could be a massive headache.)

With that said, I think I already have laid the foundation for a story that could potentially work out on this. My short story The Man in Blue could be fun to try and expand upon. I think there’s a whole lot to be said for our poor hero. I think there’s even more to said for our mysterious antagonist.

This is not an official statement on “this is the story”, but it’s a thought that I think could work. I’m also leaning toward my story about that one guy waking up in his underwear and traveling to another dimension. Or I could just totally come up with another idea that will haunt me forever.

Alrighty…that’s all for now.

Sleepy time she comes,

D.A.

 

 

Something I Learned

June 5, 2012

As the school year winds down, I would like to share a little experience and lesson I learned yesterday. It’s what I’m going to call a “teaching constant.” It is as follows:

In every single situation, despite your best efforts to make sure otherwise, at least one person will not follow instructions.

Oh, you better believe I wouldn’t make a statement like this without some sort of back up.

You are now entering TRUE STORY LAND.

For the last lab I did with my kids this term, me and another teacher had set up an empty classroom as a “crime scene”. We put a dummy in the room and dropped some fake blood around and generally made a mess. It was pretty nifty. We even managed to get fingerprints on the windowsill and make it look like a struggle occurred.

Our two classes had been going through a forensics section in order to have a little fun before the school year was over. So we thought we would teach them a bunch of crime scene analysis methods and, for a final test, make them use those newly developed skills in a “real world” environment.

Pretty sweet deal, huh? I’m that cool teacher that let their kids leave the classroom and pretend they were cops.

In order to sell the whole idea to my kids I decided I would make up a ridiculous back story so they would feel a little more involved with everything. Just in case I offended or scarred a few kids, I decided to tell them that everything was made up. This is exactly how that moment happened:

The tardy bell rings and I begin my normal routine. I walk into the classroom and make sure my door is locked. As the door closes I check my lab door and office door to make sure the noise from my class will not spill into the neighboring classroom. I then take perch behind my demonstration table and begin my blabbering.

“Good morning!” I announce to the class. “If you have anything to turn in to me, make sure it’s put in the green bin. Today marks the beginning of the last week of school, so I have decided to give you guys a chance to change things up.”

This is the point where I usually have to field silly questions about something stupid that occurred over the weekend. But not today. Today I have an energy about me that is making the kids know that today is a special day.

“Before we begin today’s lab I want to be clear about one thing. Everything I’m about to tell you is false. It is fictitious. It’s fake. I made it up. It did not occur. It’s a lie. We’re just having fun, so I’m making this a little more interesting. Does everybody understand?

The peanut gallery only mumbles their acknowledgments.

“Okay then…” I know the mumbles meant nothing. I know that the kids had turned off their brains as soon as I asked a question. I knew somebody was going to end up embarrassing themselves in front of everybody, I just didn’t know who it would be. So I decided to change my tone of voice and expression. I took a solemn form and spoke with authority.

“I hate to be the one to tell you all this…but there was a murder here on campus over the weekend…”

And do you know what I heard from no less than 5 different kids .03 seconds later?

REALLY?!?!?!

A little bit of my brain leaked out of my ears that day. (Summer’s almost here…)

Want another example?

Do you know how many times I told my kids we won’t be having a final exam because they already took the End Of Course Exam earlier in the year? I”ll tell you. Over 20,000 times. Do you know how many kids asked me last week for a review pack so they could study for the final? Almost every single kid.

For a blood typing lab I told all my kids to only use three drops of blood in each of their tests. Do you know how many times I told them to only use that much blood? That’s right, 18 billion times. Do you know how many kids had to have me reiterate those instructions to them during the lab? Every. Single. One.

So there you go…no matter how many times you tell people to stir and not shake…they will shake. No matter how many times you request that people use centimeters instead of inches. No matter how many different ways you can write down and explain instructions. Despite your best efforts… Despite your harshest tones…

Despite your genuine care and concern for their safety you will always have at least one person not follow instructions.

If it sounds like I’m getting mad about this, I’m really not. I’m simply stating the truth. Kids (and people in general) don’t do a good job at following instructions. We mess up. That’s something I’ve come to learn this school year.

So the best thing we can do is be ready for it. Just do a facepalm and move on.

D.A.

But when I am, I try to write stories the old fashioned way.

This is what I did today during one of my classes that had to take a midterm. That goes to show you how bored I was. I was also not capable of using a computer at the moment because I didn’t want to sit there in a silent room with me pounding on a keyboard the whole time. That’s right, I’m a nice guy.

My handwriting clearly needs help. It looks a lot like an old form of Klingon. I’m not sure if you can really see this writing up close but it’s mostly a ugly hybrid of cursive and print. Each letter only resembles those found in the English alphabet. And it’s very tiny. Like Hobbit tiny.

One thing that does sort of make me proud is how straight the lines of text are on the unlined paper. I’m pretty impressed with myself. Usually when I try something like this it looks like half the words are sliding off an invisible shelf.

And if for some reason you’re trying to read what I wrote, please stop. That’s my next little project/goal. If you want to keep it a surprise don’t look at the answers. Oh, I guess I should tell you what that goal actually is…

5,000. 

Yup. 5,000 words is my goal. I think I can accomplish it. I think I could kill it. I just don’t know if I can hit 5,000 and still keep it interesting to read. I’m starting to think I have a short attention span when it comes to writing because I have pretty short attention span when I’m reading.

When is it going to be done? Whenever I decide it’s ready…that’s when. I’ve had the idea for about a week now, but yesterday I actually planned out what’s going to happen (most likely, things can always change later).

I wrote a lot (for my standards) last month. While I thought it was great, I want to try something that I put a little more effort into. I also want to allow myself to be lazy. I did a lot of work last month. So far I haven’t really stopped that pattern, but I don’t want to get my hopes up that it will continue only to have it all fall apart in a couple of weeks.  So I think pacing myself will be for the best.

Oh, and I think this story is going to have some Elvis impersonators. Because what story doesn’t get better when you read about overweight and uncommitted Elvis impersonators?

So I guess you’ve got that to look forward to.

I’ve got a teacher work day tomorrow…but no work. So that means I’ll probably end up writing a little while I’m there. I’ll probably listen to music and make my coworkers wonder what’s wrong with my musical taste…

THHHEEEE HIIIIILLLLLSSSS ARE AALLLIIIIIIVVVVVEEE WITH THE SOUND OF MUUUUUUSSIIIIIIICCCCCCCCCCC…..

D.A.

Have you ever read a story that’s so good you it just seems to take over your life? The story puts itself into your mind and you can’t let it go. It’s those books you just can’t put down. It’s those books that make you tear up at the end.  It makes a mark in your life in a way that you will never forget. If you’re an writer/author you have probably felt this at least once in your life.

Moments like that make you want to let other people experience the same thing by reading your own writing. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. I wanted to write things that not only entertain people, but make an impact on people’s lives.

I can confidently say that since I’ve been running this thing I’ve been given the opportunity to experience that ten-fold. I really feel blessed throughout this entire experience. Not only have I written the stories that change people, but I have also been changed by those stories in the loving responses I have receive from them.

That’s why what I have to say right now is something that I say with a heavy heart…

Today will be my last day running this blog. 

Bookforme will be no more. It will, however, be taken over by another person whom I have tapped to become the next bookforme blogger. It’s going to be an awesome young woman named Jessica “Jessie” Gainer. I’m sure sometime within the next few days you’ll be hearing from her as she introduces herself to all of you. Please treat her with the love, attention, and respect you have treated me with for the long time we’ve had together.

It took me a couple of weeks to reach this decision. It was hard. But I think it’s going to be for the best.

The reason for my departure is because I have concerns in other parts of my life that will be needing my full and undivided attention.

I have taken up another job. That’s right. I am now officially a published author. I know I didn’t share this with all of you, but I have been typing away at my novel since I first started this blog. Back in October I got a callback from some of the lovely people over at HarperCollins.

They read my novel and felt like they wanted to publish it. (The whole thing is a completely surreal experience, trust me).

So you can expect for the novel to come out on June 1st, 2012 (this year!!!). It will be called Speaking of Time.

Now that I’ve told you this…I guess it’s time for me to revel my true identity to you…

My real name is not D.A. Bancroft. It is Phillip Dalton. I know that’s not as fancy of a name as D.A. Bancroft…but it’s the name that came to me at the time.

From this time forward I will be running press junket and some speaking arrangements as colleges and libraries all around the country.   If you want to meet me…I guess that would be your perfect opportunity. I know the itinerary isn’t posted anywhere right now, but if you keep checking HarperCollins.com you will be able to see it.

But this last post shouldn’t be about me promoting my new book Speaking of Time that will be released on JUNE 1st 2012 in major retail bookstores everywhere. It should be about me saying goodbye in the most classy way I know how.

So you remember how I mentioned how I wanted to write those stories that stuck with you? That made an impact on your life? I think those are those little opportunities for us to learn something. Maybe when we put those books down we become better people. I think some of us grow a lot from reading.

So in a way, each good ending to a book is like a new beginning in your own life. We get a new perspective on the world around us.

Now for some last minute housekeeping. Jessie, the girl that will be running this blog, will likely be making a few changed around here. To be honest I think they are going to be significant. I’m pretty sure (based on my last conversation with her) that she wants this place to become more like a social news site.

She says her biggest interests are Justin Beiber and Flowers. So you’ll probably see a lot of those around here.

In the meantime…I’ll be lavishing in my pool of money that I have been advanced for my novel. (A solid $600,000)

I’m rich now. 

Goodbye forever,

Phillip Dalton (formerly known as D.A. Bancroft)

This fella is affectionately known as “One Eye”. 

And, no. I do not own him. Nobody does. With a hardened stare like that nobody can really “own” him. He owns himself. (But my neighbors behind me seem to provide care for him.)

Also, I’ve heard rumor that he goes by the name “Oreo”. I don’t see the resemblance.

I prefer the name One Eye because it’s tough. And, quite clearly, he only has one eye.

I’m pretty creative, huh?

When I look at this mangy backyard power animal I get the sensation that he’s got a story to tell.

A story that’s riddles with action, love, hate, and hours of licking himself clean of the blood of his enemies.

He was probably just like any other cat. A little girl had wanted a kitty and he was the winner. He had the most adorable squeak of a meow and looked like a popular brand name cookie. (I still don’t see the resemblance.)

Everything looked like it would be a nice long life of belly rubs and furballs. Then it all came crashing down.

The little girl got older and grew tired of the little guy. When he lost the affection of that little girl he turned to the grey tabby down the street. She was no good to him. Her constant infidelity drove him to get hooked on “the nip”. Then the bottom fell out.

He was walking the streets and getting into fights all the time. For a while he was the king of the ally. Then, one fateful night, he ended up picking a fight with the wrong kitty.

He lost his pride, his territory, and his right eye…

Then he wandered off into the woods hoping an eagle or an alligator would take his life from him.

But then he stumbled upon my backyard and set up shop.

Okay, I guess I can’t really believe that whole tough guy routine. Especially when he sleeps in an open lawn sprawled out like this…

Come on… he ain’t no tough guy.

Though he is still missing the eye…

There’s a little something I’ve learned about my experiences on the internet.

  • Email = 1% of the internet
  • Video = 1% of the internet
  • Specialized websites = 1% of the internet
  • Cats = 97% of the internet

Thanks to my work here today, that trend will not be changing anytime soon.

D.A.

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.

Oh hey…

March 27, 2012

Just to let you know…

I’ve got another short story in the chute.

When?

Tomorrow at noon.

That’s 12:00 p.m. EST on March 27th, 2012. in case you were wondering.

Name?

I’m calling it Good Boy.

How long is it?

About 1,200 words.

Is it good?

We’ll find out.

D.A.

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. 

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