Muse revisited

(This website’s subtitle is Fact, Fiction and Opinion Stirred in an Odd Pot. Fact is, however, that Fiction hasn’t appeared here in quite a spell. The muse appears to have gone thataway.

(I think we likely can attribute this in part to age. If not entirely that, to the fact that my move to Mexico was thrilling, inspiring, for a long time, years, but it’s worn off now. Truth is I don’t know what the Devil is going on.

(No matter. I like to re-read my old stuff now and then. Here is one of my favorites. I may repost others on occasion just for the ever-living heck of it. And I gotta justify the subtitle.)

THE BROKEN STAIRCASE

Stairs

Five steps rotted and collapsed in the middle of the staircase, and that’s how it all began.

Alcott was upstairs. He never left his home again.

He decided to write a history of mankind. It would be thorough, but due to having no reference materials upstairs, it would be fiction by necessity, a history of mankind as it should have been, the perfect people. He liked the idea, and dedicated the rest of his life to writing fictitious history.

. . . which should not be confused with historical fiction. No, he wrote history hidden by a mask, creating a dream world, but really, after all, it was not so different from actual historical writing at times.

But first there was the matter of survival. For that he turned to his old friend Beaman whom he had known since boyhood.

Beaman lived nearby.

There was the question of food.

Beaman tossed up a rope, and that was how Alcott received his daily meals, a basket connected to the rope. Beaman’s wife, Aldyth, simply made a bit more than she and Beaman ate each day, and Beaman took the leftovers to Alcott.

We should mention that Alcott was married too. His wife was Godeleva, but Alcott had not loved — or even liked — Godeleva in many years.

As luck would have it, Godeleva was downstairs when the five steps rotted in the staircase. She noticed the problem even before Alcott. She smiled, walked into the downstairs bedroom, packed two bags, and headed to the beach.

. . . and never returned.

* * * *

Alcott was not a social man, so the upstairs isolation suited him, plus there was lots of time to invent fictional history.

Luckily, there was a bathroom on the second floor of Bockingfold and an antique typewriter.

Bockingfold was the name of the home, which had been in Alcott’s family for generations. Godeleva had always found it dreary there.

About a year after the five steps rotted in the staircase, Alcott awoke one morning thinking of Godeleva whose body was as fine as her personality was foul. That afternoon, during their daily chat through the second-floor window, as warm stew was ascending, he asked Beaman for a woman.

Man does not live by stew alone, he said, or something like that.

There was an obstacle. The rope was medium-weight, and the basket had been bought at a discount outlet that imported from India.

The woman, they concluded, must be lightweight and short, a wisp of a girl.

This was acceptable to Alcott, desirable even, because Godeleva, although quite beautiful, was big-boned. And Alcott was ready for new adventures.

Find a mini-version of womankind, Alcott said to Beaman, but she must be over 21 because Alcott wanted no problems with the police.

One week later, Beaman stood beneath the window with Vulpine, which means like a fox.

She said she was 26. And she was quite small, a midget actually, which should not be confused with a dwarf. She was well-formed, firm and fine.

Her hair and full lips were flaming red.

She fit perfectly into the basket, holding the day’s stew in her lap. Alcott, with a bit of extra effort, hoisted both dishes to the window sill and inside the room to which Vulpine hopped effortlessly and looked up at him, smiling.

* * * *

Vulpine did not speak much about her past. There was something about a circus, a prison and horse rides through the mountains with a man named Smoke.

Alcott and Vulpine hit it off immediately. She liked the security, the daily stews, and he liked the look of her, the red lips, the hair blazing like a bonfire.

redhead1And that’s how it stayed. The years passed, and Alcott wrote. In time there were 35 volumes of fictional history. He grew old and gray and stooped.

But Vulpine never changed a bit. She was like magic, and that was what he wanted.

No one ever repaired the staircase of Bockinfold, and when Alcott died one day, Vulpine kissed his cheek, shimmied down the rope like a child and walked off into a sunny winter afternoon, her hair lit like Christmas candles.

Writing stuff and mango snowballs

masks

I STARTED THIS website in mid-2011 with the intention of writing stuff. It replaced the six-year-old Zapata Tales, which was also written stuff, but that stuff was mostly about my living in Mexico, a topic that had begun to bore me, so I was branching out.

I’m good at writing stuff, far better than average. But I’ve never taken a class on it. I’ve never attended workshops. I don’t worry about themes and structure, nor am I interested in the slightest in trading tips with other “writers.” I fly entirely solo.

When I do write stuff, I just wing it. I prefer fiction, but there have been periods in my life that were so wacky that they’ve provided real-life material. A couple of examples of that are Victoria and the cowboy and Swimming with the fishes. Yes, I’m plugging myself, drumming up traffic.

The fiction that I’ve written in recent years now rests on my other website The Pearls of Zapata. I have some favorites. More plugs: The broken staircase, which I’m particularly fond of, The old wolf, and then there are the relatively brief Waco spaceman and the demented Sunny side up.

Some things never landed on The Pearls of Zapata. Instead they got their own websites. There are links in the right-side column. Two are jungle-themed. I think strange things tend to happen in the jungle because it’s hot there, and people go wild in heat.

One is Dark girl in the blue dress and the other is Last night of the iguana.

For many years I’ve wanted to go deep into the jungle, perhaps in Ecuador, and eat ayuhuasca while lying naked, but I never did and cannot imagine that I will now since I’ve gotten rather long in the tooth. Some things are best done when young.

* * * *

My father was a writer, a very good one. He and I shared many traits. He was a newspaper editor, as was I. He retired early, as did I. He was a rather serious dude, as I have become. He drank too much for a long time, as did I. He quit in his mid-50s, as did I. He spent his post-work years writing poetry, settling at last into haiku, where he became quite well known.

He was a life-long left-winger. I am a right-winger. He had no adventuresome spirit while I have lots. His politics were shaped by the Great Depression and witnessing — as a newspaper reporter in the late 1930s — violent, machine-gun-involving, union-busting by fat-cat corporate types.

mugThe 1930s made him while the 1960s, to a lesser degree, made me. The 1930s were miserable times and, looking back, so were the 1960s because they created the self-absorbed, clueless American culture we now see spiraling down the drain hole.

My father died of a heart attack at 75. I am 70, but I feel real good.

How did we wander off to my father? Oh, yes, I like to write, and so did he. Plus, I confessed up top that I never studied structure nor attended writing workshops that might have focused me better. My father did attend workshops and studied structure. Haiku is very structured.

Some time last year, I stopped writing fiction. It was unintentional. The muse deserted me. Perhaps it had something to do with age. Maybe the little gray cells are drying up. I wonder if it’s permanent. Concurrently, I notice that living in a foreign country has ceased to amaze me.

But I still like it very, very much.

We’re going to the Pacific coast tomorrow for a few days. It will be very hot. Perhaps I’ll find some ayahuasca, but I doubt it. I’ll stick to mango snowballs and fried shrimp.

* * * *

(Photo notes: The mugshot is my father though it could almost be me. And what does the photo up top have to do with the post? Nothing at all. Those masks hang in the Hacienda hallway.)

Dot madness!

I’M MAD as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!*

As if today’s moral and cultural rot weren’t bad enough, we now have rampant periods.

dotsI was a newspaper editor for 30 years, and I support writing rules, especially these days when computer shorthand is butchering English. Proper communication matters.

One thing particularly drives me nuts:

I call it DOT MADNESS!

Every day, in blogs and email, I see…………..periods included…………….to separate sentences………….for decoration it seems…………..and it’s got to…………..stop!

A vomit of dots………………………….!

There is something called an ellipsis. It consists of three periods, never more than three, and it has specific uses. Separating sentences is not one of them. A sentence ends with a period. (There are some exceptions.) The next sentence starts with a capital letter.

This post is a public service. I don’t want to see anyone regurgitating dots ever again!

There will be consequences. It could get ugly.

* * * *

* Famous line from the 1976 movie Network.