Thursday, October 27, 2011

Batting .333

I withdrew another piece from journals. I am losing faith in the long process of submission and would rather present my work to the small fan circle I have. Again, this piece would have been best published when the Yankees and Tigers played in the playoffs, but what do people know--nothing really, so I took it away from all submissions and submit myself on my own web page. Faith, gone in the submission process. Anything longer than three months is too long.....








Batting  .333

Hey there, you, the corpulent gentleman! Yeah, you with the Argyle sweater and the pants that don’t match. Don’t point your finger at yourself like you wish to tell someone behind the glass you are the guilty one in the lineup. Waddle that wide load over here and take a seat at the bar. Sure, I’ll get you a free drink. What will it be? Oh no, Tub of Lard, I must confess that is a woman’s drink. Whiskey it is then. Right, here you go sir. It’s on me. Why did I call you over? That’s a silly question. Why did you come over? Now that’s a question that begs an answer. I’m saving you from embarrassing yourself, and we both know you were headed to a corner to drink alone. A gentleman in his, what, mid-forties, shoddily dressed, scuffs on his shoes, did not come to meet friends nor to mingle with the opposite sex. You came for the drowning. I shall expiate both your weaknesses for the next twenty or thirty minutes. You shall not leave a fool and your wallet will leave as full as it is. No, I don’t think you are rich. Comfortable, perhaps. I would say you identify with this lot only in that you wish to forget about today and hope tomorrow’s headache doesn’t impede you from productive work for mediocre wages. I know. Bartenders have a keen eye. You don’t think we just pour drinks do you. We do, after all, represent a large percentage of the caretakers of humanity.
            What shall I say? Why, of course it will be worth your while to listen. It is a manifold tale that I will judiciously mend into one tale. A moral. Why seek after a moral. Digest the story and see for yourself. Morals too often sum up large quantities and leave the particles to be swept under the rug. I prefer particles. You like overviews, I see. I wager you are an economist, perhaps in marketing. Not far off, you say. Well I know because I make it my business to know these things; there’s your moral—never underestimate a strangers’ first impression. Nine out of ten times they catch your flaws before you have even spoken. It’s human nature. Keeps us one up on the competition, and in this modern world isn’t everything a competition of some sort. Now let us leave these generalities behind and I shall tell you a story and get you inebriated on more than pure drink.
            Two gentleman, retired, have frequented this establishment for thirteen years. No, let us not worry about the zodiac. Thirteen is a fine number is it not? It falls between twelve and fourteen and perhaps you work on the…ah, you do work on the thirteenth floor. And no lack of prosperity has come from the move I see. Started on the first. A regular cutthroat climber you are. Well these retirees took a young lad under their wing. A friendship based solely on baseball and an avuncular, no call it a grandvuncular sentiment on their part. They love the Tigers. Each day the boy, no older than twenty two, grass still green sort of temperament, would sit with them and they would discuss the Tigers. They held high hopes when Ordonez hit the homerun to send the Tigers to the World Series, but after losing to the Cardinals in five, they all blamed the layoff. Said the Tigers got rusty or else they would have won it all. They talked a lot about Lou Whitaker. Lou Whitaker was the boy’s favorite player. Sweet Lou, they called him, and he and what’s the fellows name…Trammell. You do know baseball then. They were the longest double-play combo to ever play the game. They pissed on Tinkers to Evers to Chance. Well they got into lengthy discussions about the recent Tigers: Verlander’s arm, Granderson’s speed, Cabrera’s hitting. You name it they knew it frontwards and backwards, like they studied the baseball cards before coming to the bar.
            No it’s not all baseball. Be patient. Let me get you another whiskey. So one day, this boy comes in as distraught as a second baseman that lost his good glove. What’s the matter boy, the two grandpas ask? I’ve had it, the boy says. Every year the Tigers break my heart. Baseball is supposed to be the great pastime, and I feel more broken hearted each year. My love for the Tigers causes no end to my suffering. It’s a life lesson says one of the retirees. The more pain they cause, the greater the love, and remember boy, next year always brings the promise of the pennant.
The damn Twins and White Sox cause no end to my suffering. I want a love that lasts. What you talking about, asks the other retiree.
I want a woman, I think, says the boy. Someone who will be there. They try to dissuade the boy, illustrate the plus and minus scale of loving a team and loving a woman. They can’t convince the boy and he tells them he is going to ask out this girl he has been watching and conversing with at a coffee shop. The two old men feel the rebuke, first of the woman and second that the boy pays patronage to a coffee shop. They are perplexed as the boy orders a beer, drinks it solemnly, and then says, Maybe I’ll see you fellows around sometime. He leaves by saying the Tigers won’t keep Granderson, adding salt to a festering wound in both the men’s heart. He’s too good.
 So long as he doesn’t end up a Yankee the retirees say in unison as the boy walks out.
            Of his love affair, it can only be guessed at what happened. No I don’t think the old men corresponded with him during his absence, so there is no way to tell how it all went down except for two and a half years later, the boy, now showing some manly qualities; suffering will do that to you, enters the bar and sits down at the table with the two retirees like nothing had happened in his absence. He loosens his tie and orders two whiskeys and a beer. So, says one of the grandpa’s did you find out about the hurt of love of flesh.
I found out plenty says the boy.
You here to stay?
I think so, says the boy.
Struck out, the other retiree prods.
It was destined to happen, says the boy.
We lost Granderson, one of the retirees points out. And to the damn Yankees.
It’s not easy is it? the boy says. Sometimes you find yourself still cheering for him.
It happens in baseball. It’s a business like everything else in the end.
Yeah, but did they have to take Granderson? We loved him.
It hurts. It feels like he betrayed us, doesn’t it, said a retiree, but we still love him, just not when he plays our team. We struck out on that deal. Got Damon for a year and lost him to the Rays.
The old men and the boy looked at their glasses, depressed, somber, until the boy said, Well we still got Verlander.
Yeah, we got him. I’ll drink to that. They raised their glasses and drank.
            What, yes that is where the story ends. Lost loves come and go, baseball is no different, but you keep your head; you remember that at least you aint a Cubs fan. And two strike outs to one hit is still a good percentage. You should know that. Let me pour us one last whiskey. Drink up fatty, it’s on me.
Hey Joe, the waitress yells at the bartender. Bars been closed for an hour. Quit taking double shots and quit talking like someone was there. What you talking about anyways? The girl you lost or the Tigers? Does it matter, Joe, the bartender, says and begins putting the empty glasses away. Way I see it, it’s all the same.  You, oh yeah, you can go now. Thanks for listening, and hey, that was a hell of a lot better than your corner wasn’t it. Oh yeah, I’m here every night. Right here. I never leave. Granderson, he left. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hands Born Dirty

A play I wrote that was accepted by Burnside Writers Collective and the bastards never posted it or got back to me, and I feel I can no longer neglect my followers by waiting; plus the piece is time relevant (albeit no true titles are given, so its relevancy is far more reaching (a lesson learned from Camus' THE PLAGUE)) Have at it fans.




Hands Born Dirty    A play by ALec Bryan


The scene: Inside a small hut somewhere in Africa. The hut is made of earth-tone bricks, and there is no furniture or adornments in the room except for a row of machine guns along the back wall. The hut is near a road, and occasionally the sound of a car or truck driving by is heard. The scene is of Hitler Damu. He is dressed in army fatigues, two sizes too large. The scene begins when a clumsy cameraman, perhaps Damu’s recruit or cohort, picks up the camera, turns it on along with the light it is equipped with. Damu doesn’t know the recording has begun. His cheek muscles are tense; beneath them he is gritting his teeth. The veins running through his temples stick out, and his bloodshot eyes, hidden deep in his dark skin, express numerous possibilities: fatigue, poor diet, insomnia, drug addiction, fanaticism or genetics.

Hitler Damu: (staring at the camera) Is it on already? (angry and trying to gain composure) You were supposed to give me a countdown you idiot. Never mind. I will begin. (straightening himself) My name is Hitler Damu. I am a powerful man and a member of Stalin’s Sons, a revolutionary group with numerous cells around the world. I will give an account of cell number 654, and, per the leaders’ orders, pretend the camera is a friend with whom I am discussing certain matters as if at a coffee shop. I will now refer to the camera as Hitler’s Ghost. I find it will be easiest for me to play two parts.  Why don’t we start, Hitler, by you asking the obvious question? I see you eyeing my armory.

Hitler’s Ghost: (Damu plays both roles and moves each time he asks or answers questions to show each side of his profile, the left being the ghost) Why so many guns?

Hitler Damu: No real reason. For protection, perhaps, maybe intimidation, although I have never needed them to intimidate. Have I ever shot anyone? Of course not. We revolutionists are pacifists. Known as P.B.Ks, Pacifists Born Killers, we understand certain things which make us guilty.

Hitler’s Ghost: I’m not sure I follow you.

Hitler Damu: Let me start with my education. Perhaps, yes, that is a good place to start. Then no one can call me a crazy nigger. Born and raised in a poor African village, I never would have had the opportunity for an education had my affluent father not been the governor—I’ll use the American idiom—of the region. Filching American grants, money that would have been set aside for USAID or for immunization in the area or Aids awareness and prevention groups, my father “borrowed” the money and matriculated me at Cal Berkeley. I studied chemical engineering. It is here, and I say this because the leaders of Stalin’s Sons live under constant surveillance by the U.S Government, so their identity is no secret, that I met a fellow engineer and a biophysics major who began indoctrinating me about their revolution.

Hitler’s Ghost: I don’t want a history. I want an explanation about these so called P.B.Ks.

Hitler Damu: Yes, Yes, (agitated) I am getting to this. After a couple weeks of reading books and pamphlets about the cause, they—my fellow engineer and his friend—asked me how many lives were murdered or sacrificed so that I could get my education. None, I said. Then they pushed me down on my bed, standing over me, and Vladimir told me my father had killed many, and I was a P.B.K. They explained the term, but I still felt confused, so then they furthered their explanation. How much money does each year cost for you to be here? asked Fidel. I told them student life cost about fifty thousand per year, plus the extra twenty-five thousand I received, so seventy-five thousand times the four years and double or triple that for the two years in the graduate program. All totaled, somewhere around seven hundred and fifty thousand to a million dollars. For a poor black African, said Vladimir then spat. Where would that money have gone? Fidel badgered me. I told them I didn’t know. They said that didn’t make me less guilty, and that I was a belligerent P.B.K. Then they pulled out their intelligence, maps and brochures and government lending figures, and they tallied the death toll of my being in America the North. They had equations to figure out how many children in the area I was from would not be immunized and would die, malnutrition deaths, aids deaths, bad roads, lack of medical supplies and on and on they went. Do you want to know how many people you have killed by getting an education? Vladimir asked, almost boasting. I felt sick, but I wanted to know. By our calculations, he said, no less and no more than sixty to seventy innocent people would die while I stayed at Cal Berkeley.

Hitler’s Ghost: That’s enough to make you a serial killer.

Hitler Damu: (fuming) I know the implications! I don’t need a smug reminder.

Hitler’s Ghost: So then what?

Hitler Damu: So then I learned my father was a killer, and any government, especially big government would run our revolution for us, and they would make their children killers. Sure they do all the killing, and us pacifists sit by and watch and wait until the right moment and then we will take power, and we will no longer let the innocent die.

Hitler’s Ghost: Do you smoke weed?

Hitler Damu: Yes, but not until I got to Cal. But I don’t see what this has to do with anything.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rejection/Acceptance

Over the past two years, I have submitted 163 fiction pieces to Submishmash.  6 have been accepted. That means that 3 and a half percent of my work gets accepted. I find this encouraging. I no longer submit a ton of works to any magazine. I have found the magazines I like, mostly online pubs, and if they don't like it, I realize the audience I care about doesn't. This makes submitting so much easier. I no longer submit to magazines like The New Yorker and other highly touted venues. This doesn't bother me. I like to see my work among fellow writers I like and recognize. I am beginning to learn their styles. I have enjoyed not caring about ever becoming famous. I will always write, regardless. It has actually opened up avenues of imagination by not worrying about whether a piece will make it or not, offend or not, be praised. Every once in a while someone will say: "I like this or that piece." What more could I want, especially since I liked writing this or that piece. Alex Haley received something in the neighborhood of 200 rejections for ROOTS. I would have bowed out long before that and moved on to another project. That heart and soul is poured into the pages doesn't really bother me if someone rejects what some authors call their babies. I have no babies. I would call them abortions. Something that came out and amounted to nothing like the plan was when it started anyways; maybe they are demon babies!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Odd, Old poems. Why not.

The great writer, Andrew Borgstrom and I used to pick a topic once a week and force ourselves to write about it. Ir was a process the more harder when he picked the subject matter.  These are my responses to his topics and mine. Guess which ones I chose and you win nothing but a good pat on the back. These are older and hence one can see the evolution, slower going than a sloth, but forward nonetheless


6 or is it 7 poems September 17, 2007

“The Sun is a Woman”

Follow me, she says, as she emerges from the cloud’s gossamer veil.
Remember me, she says, and erases all proof of her existence—interminable night.
Look at me, she says, clothed in shimmering afternoon radiance enough to blind.
Die with me, she says, as she completes another day’s glorious round.

But man has no real cycle and will always be afraid of death.

“Why I Will Never be an Artist”

Chaos came to me last night. One thousand shards of sharp ideas. I gathered them out of the muck and formulated the inchoate mass into working forms. The artist is in his element at night. But today it is Order that tries to sway me. Order has scheduled a time and created a plan to write these ideas down in a well structured manner. The ideas are dead. Apollo is trying to kill me. Do you hear me? Apollo is trying to destroy me. 

“A Form of Art” 

If the God of Truth would take me by the legs, hold me upside down, wring me until drops of brain-blood oozed from my nose and onto the paper. If He would smear the blood so it formed any type of pattern, a line, a streak, I would then be able to say “I have created.” And I could look at it and proclaim “it is good” and finally rest. 

“Twenty-First Century Muse” 

I implore you: Sing, sing old Muse, Sing of fearless heroes and fierce battles and unfeigned glory, but I got a crack whore in a putrid alley telling me to either give her money or shut up—I’ll try again. 
I beseech thee: Sing, sing old Muse, Take this offering and with it move my pen, let it sing the songs of fearless heroes and fierce battles and unfeigned glory, but I got a teenage girl who abandoned her wailing baby telling me either dance with her or shut up—One last time I will try to conjure up the great Goddess.
I plead unto thy kind nature: Sing, sing old Muse. Accept this sacrifice my true and humble heart and with it sound the notes of fearless heroes and fierce battles and unfeigned glory, but I got a feminist screaming in my ear telling me either find a male Muse or shut up—I am out of inspirations. 

“The Argument”

It started like this: Dionysus was not happy that Apollo only used one exclamation point. He specifically told him the sentence warranted three. Apollo argued that the concrete rules of grammar are set up so only one exclamation point can be used. Dionysus acquiesced, but he was not happy. Then it came to a point where Dionysus specifically said, “uggggggghhhh,” but Apollo would only write the word “ugh.” Well, this was too much for Dionysus to bear. He exclaimed the meaning is changed when “Uggggggghhhh” becomes the simple “Ugh,” but Apollo argued the reader would understand the difference, besides, “uggggggghhhh,” is not even a real word. So Dionysus got angry and stomped the ground and refused to tell the rest of the story. Apollo said fine and mentioned he would write the rest of it himself. “Good luck,” murmured Dionysus under his breath as he walked away. 

“Message in a Bottle” 

A miniature boat scuttled back and forth in the inch of water at the bottom of the bottle. One day the miniature captain looked to his subordinate and said, “If all the water in this ocean (meaning in the bottle) represents man’s mind, then I have fathomed it all and now grow restless.” Outside of the glass, and imperceptible to the miniature men who could not see through the glass, the boat and bottle floated aimlessly on the Pacific Ocean, and as far as the horizon stretched, nothing but interminable water filled the span. 

“What is it?”  

To an old man: 

What is the meaning of life?
Suffering.
What is the meaning of suffering?
Pain.
What is the meaning of pain?
Nothing.

To a young man:
What is the meaning of life?
Love.
What is the meaning of love?
Happiness. 
What is the meaning of happiness?
Nothing. 

How does one survive?
Old Man: He doesn’t.
Young Man: Stay young. 

How does one stay young? 
Old Man: He doesn’t.
Young Man: He refuses to grow up. 

And when that fails? 
Both old and young: Death. 

Kill Author Issue 15

Enter here

Read it or listen to it. Read it then listen to it. Listen to it then read. For the gifted, do both at the same time while riding a unicorn through a forest filled with elves.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pause for the Good Samaritan

Pause for the Good Samaritan
   
25. And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
26. He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?
27.  So he answered and said, “'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’
28. And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”                                         29. But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30. Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 
31. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 
32. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 
33. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 
34. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 
35. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 
36. So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” 
37. And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
38 The certain lawyer continued to test Him, saying, “Teacher, is there more to this parable or is eternal life rewarded so easily?”
39. He said to him, “The certain man returned to his family and reported all that happened to him.
40. ‘Now by chance, when the man returns this way, for I will know him, we might kill him and pay off our debts.’
41. His wife warned him that great evil would fall upon the family if he took advantage of the Samaritan’s charity and spilled innocent blood. 
42. But the man argued that once they were free of debt and the possibility of slavery, they would not think more of the means.
43. The man lie in wait and as the Samaritan passed his way, he approached him.
44. ‘Tis I you have saved,’ said the man, and the Samaritan opened his arms to embrace him.
45. ‘Truly you are my neighbor,’ the man said as he buried the blade into his stomach. 
46. The Samaritan died while the man searched his possessions and robbed him of his valuables. 
47. So for whom is eternity’s inheritance easy to gain?”
48. And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” 
49. Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise. 
50. But let him who is wise take heed and perceive the danger of doing good in evil times.”