author’s note

i wrote a bunch today, but haven’t published because i’m in the middle of writing it.

as i was lying in bed this morning, i thought about how what the survivors would have to say would then be parlayed into a courtroom scene, so it seemed i might as well cut to the courtroom scene instead of continuing to describe what was happening.

i don’t seem to be all that comfortable inside the characters’ heads.  i’m going to have to do more of that in the rewrite.

so when i got to the computer this morning, i laid it out.  laurie.  cindy.  gordon.  then underneath these i put allen.  mom.  judy. for each death.  and then i went and found earlier plot notes about what has to happen next, and divided them up into their respective dead people and put them underneath the sadly departed’s names.  and then i sat allen and mom on the stand and wrote down what they had to say about the defendant’s relationship with the deceased, and how  the lawyer twisted it – or just let them run on because both mom and allen would hang themselves on the stand, never mind helping to hang judy.

and that’s where i left it.  they haven’t gotten around to rick yet.  or bill.  or the serial killings.  or the attempted murder of a strip club full of chocolate-loving dancers and shot-up customers.  that’ll take a few days to get to.

tomorrow i’ll be filling out the testimony and arranging it the way a court would handle it.

but i’m stuck there, because i don’t know how a court would handle it.  for some reason, tho i’ve been called to jury duty once a year for the past ten, i never get picked, so i don’t know how they would handle calling the witnesses for a multiple murder trial.  just once and run them thru all the dead?  or call them for every body?  let me just look it up…

okay, witnesses are only recalled to contradict earlier testimony, so it’s get the guy on the stand, run thru all the deaths, and then excuse him.  that’s going to be overwhelming.

allen has to answer questions about rick, gordon, laurie, and what he saw when judy shot laurie and electrocuted gordon and poisoned cindy.

and mom has to pronounce judgment on judy’s enmity toward her siblings, as well as confirm that she watched her own daughter shoot laurie.

how can i break that up?  does judy testify?  does she comment mentally?  do i sum things up from her viewpoint?

maybe i should leave it broken up this way, into testimony excerpts as if collecting the good bits.

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author’s note

well, i’ve just killed off most of my family.  and it feels accomplished, but not good.  necessary, but not satisfying.  i don’t hate my family, after all.  they’re all fucked up, and have caused me endless trouble, but so what?  i still love them.  they’re my family.  and i’m just like them.

but this means that i’m at the end of my story.  and that’s the problem.

until now the story has pretty much written itself.  and will continue to do so, i suppose.  things tend to do that when you watch them closely.

it’s not that a watched pot never boils.  it’s just that if you’re watching the water heating up, then you can’t say exactly when it starts to boil.  it seems as if it’s almost boiling but not quite for the longest time, even tho the candy thermometer says 212.

i’ve just killed off laurie, and cindy, and gordon.  it was too challenging to figure it out intellectually, so i just sat there and visualized the scene (thus the game of statues) and then figured out what was going thru each character’s head and what they were going to do next.

but i was undecided how to proceed, and so ended up photoshopping a whole bunch of pictures of jim’s nudes for a show he wants to apply for.  and that took all day.  so i thought about what i wanted to do instead.

whose point of view should i write the next part with?  i figured judy, of course, since she’s the one who is most impacted, but on a dog walk, jim suggested that i write what happens next from everybody’s point of view.

that’s just mom, allen, and judy.  sam and dave have already split, everybody else is freshly dead, and the ambulance and police haven’t arrived.

i can write it that way.

there’s judy, holding the gun, standing in the middle of the back yard surrounded by bodies. there’s allen, faced with another crazy woman with the power to hurt him.  there’s mom, most of her children dead, and nobody’s told her about rick yet.

sitting here thinking about it, i’ve got a couple of inconsistencies i’m going to have to deal with in the seond draft, like why mom doesn’t know rick is dead yet.  it’s only the day after, i’m pretty sure, but someone should have called her.  who calls the non-immediate family in a case like that?  and how long would alice have to wait before starting proceedings to get her kids back?  maybe it’s alice’s responsibility to notify everybody else and the cops only mention it, or maybe the ambulance crew, without knowing rick is mom’s kid.

anyway.  after i’m done taking the bodies away and arresting judy, i’ve got to wind everything up, with the investigations and the trial and then however this tale ends up being written (and by whom) – i haven’t figured any of that out, really.  just shadowy hints.

but all i have to do is sit down and visualize the scene, and they’ll show me what happens next.  they’ll repeat their lines until i memorize them, or at least write them down.

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day 3

Chapter Twenty-Seven continued oh when will it end

When we left Cindy and her closest friend Alternate Cindy, they were throwing themselves against Mom’s bedroom door at the end of the hall upstairs, thinking themselves elemental heroines battling the forces of demonic evil.

What was happening in the real world was that Mom was in her bedroom, having her way with Allen, and the snuffling and breathing noises the two Cindies had listened to with horror were mostly being made by Allen.

When the Cindeeze burst thru the door, they saw Mom standing over by Dad’s side of the bed, her arm raised in punishment with a wooden spatula in her hand, her eyes closed and her head back in a posture of extreme emotion.

Kneeling before her, his head in a Richard Nixon mask, his limbs securely bound with cords, was Allen, making vigorous snuffling noises into Mom’s crotch as she left red welts on his ass with the spatula. Both of them were pasty white, flabby, and wrinkled. Both were having one hell of a good time.

Exactly what tableaux one or the other Cindy might have seen will never be known for certain, but it probably wasn’t what was actually going on. That would have been too horrible to witness. Cindy’s brain undoubtedly translated it to something involving dragons and witches, something she could understand and react against. If she’d actually taken in what Mom and Allen were doing, she would have curled up into a little ball and never spoken again. But her severely impaired state was a blessing, and cushioned most of the shock she would otherwise have received.

***

Cindy let out a top-volume shriek that went off the scale down in Ben’s dungeon office. Part of her struggled to find the gun in her bag, while the other part of her charged at Mom with both hands outstretched, her only desire to rip and tear until she came apart.

But Mom had a wooden spatula, and except for a slight delay as she switched her attention, was in an obliging mood, and pretty damned strong.

Allen immediately got in the way as Cindy flailed and Mom whacked. His rubber mask twisted so he couldn’t see anymore, and he was elbowed, kneed, punched, pulled, scratched and stepped on as two women fought it out on top of him. Not a good place to be. Allen tried to defend himself, but he couldn’t fit under the bed, and once he fell over, all he could do was roll over on his front and hope they missed his head and his butt. They didn’t. They got his ear and his eye and his nose, his kidney and his testicles, his instep and his fingers. They even yanked out a couple of handfuls of hair off his back. It was a good thing Cindy misplaced her high heels somewhere.

All this time, Allen could hear Cindy screaming – hysterical, crying and shouting at once. And he could hear Mom answering, her speech low and monotonous, repeating the words of an exorcism ritual she’d seen on the 700 Club. This enraged Cindy all the more, and Allen was kicked and shoved a lot for the next few minutes, while they got louder and more heated and more animated, until Cindy and Mom were shouting and screaming at each other as if they were both really enjoying themselves. But he could hear real pain in both of their voices, and it made him want to get up and just hug them both.

Except he was tied up and they were both beating the shit out of him. It was only a small part of him that wanted to comfort them, anyway, and it died when it was kicked in the head a couple of times.

Poor Allen. He was left in peace for a few moments, as the battle raged in another part of the room, and then Mom was there, ripping off his mask. “Why are you just lying there?” she screamed. “I need help! Get up and save me!”

She was a wreck: her hair stood out around her head in a white halo of thin frizz, and she had bloody scratches on her face and down her neck, and on her shoulders, and her chest, and her arms. And there were bite marks on her hands and forearms. There were fresh red marks that were going to be bruises all over. Mom was crying and furious at the same time. Her eyes popped out, and the tendons of her neck, and her face was red and puffy and there was a gob of spit at the corner of her mouth, and her nose was running.

Allen never loved her more.

He pondered this as he rose groaning to his feet and stumbled down the stairs, following Cindy’s bloody footprints and a trail of damage to walls and furniture thru to the kitchen and out the back door. He loved Mom because she had so much life in her, because she was a feisty old bitch who knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to go after it. She was a challenging woman for sure, but he loved breaking challenging women. And he loved being beaten, too. Granted it was a bit of a conflict, but Allen also loved cognitive dissonance.

***

Judy heard the noise as she came back around from checking the back door. It sounded just like the fights they had when Cindy was a teenager. It was disappointing to hear, because it meant she couldn’t crawl off and go to sleep with all the racket. And having other people over meant dinner and being polite and all that.

She decided to go back to her car and go park at a Walmart for the night.

As she started down the driveway she noticed that the mat had been moved back to the dip at the edge of the carport. Cursing softly, she bent down and grabbed the corner again, and dragged it back onto the driveway to drain. It really belonged on the porch, and she hated to see it getting ruined in the mud. It was one of Frank’s projects…

She stood there in the driveway, missing Frank. The rain picked back up again and she turned for the street, to go home, which was noplace, because home was Frank.

***

While the Cindy twins were upstairs battling the Mom monster, Sam and Dave were setting up shop in the bushes behind the house.

It didn’t take a special microphone to pick up the ruckus in the house, and they scrambled to start recording. It was mostly screaming, tho, with a lot of cursing and rather biblical name-calling.

While they were fine-tuning their focus on the back of the house, Laurie crept in. The space between the bushes was already tight, between them and their stuff, and the trenchcoats really were bulky, and heavy now that they were wet. Laurie, on the other hand, was mostly naked, compared to them, so they felt lucky, and then started bickering about who was going to have to give his coat to the lovely lady. In the end they sat on one coat and let the bushes drip on them while Laurie tried to look stylish in the one they gave her. All this in a little hollow place in the bushes that the kids used to think was tiny even when they were just kids.

Laurie was holding, so they all shared, snorting coke off her fingernail. She took care to jab each of them inside their nostrils, feeling mischievous. She really had no idea what was in the stuff she put on her fingernails, just that the housemom recommended a certain preparation based on something a maybe spy-type told her all hush-hush after too much liquor, and she thought she might want to use it on Gordon one day, and so she’d bought it. So maybe it would work on all these people, or not – who could know? The world wouldn’t miss a one of them, not even Sam and Dave. Hey, we all die, right?

Laurie was still trying to wrest movie references out of the situation, so she’d have something pithy to say. Sex on Mom’s car was one thing – almost art. But crouching in the wet bushes getting dripped on, next to fucking cops who were taking lingering looks up her skirt and making inane conversation while vacuuming up all her coke…

She reached over and snatched the bag from Sam, who tried to look authoritative with a ring of white powder around his nose. She cut off the protest. “And you’re here why?” she demanded. They started babbling but she cut them off again. “I don’t care.” She dipped her little finger into the bag and scooped up a nailfull of bliss, like she was inhaling self-esteem.

She was just deciding to crawl the hell out of the bushes and go back to the car and fuck the stupid revenge scene when Cindy appeared on the back porch, screeching and wailing. They could hear her gnashing her teeth and tearing her hair – Sam pointed it out on the sound meter.

Laurie was horrified. She could see Cindy clearly thru the leaves, her clothes torn, her handbag flapping as she turned looking this way and that and peering into the bushes at them. Cindy was obviously deranged. Dangerous. A wild animal.

Cindy’s hair was stiff around her head, like Mom’s, but it was worse-looking because at least Mom’s hair was white, wispy, halolike: Cindy’s hairdo made a fright wig look chic, even tho it had cost a couple of hundred earlier in the week and would have to be cut real short to repair the torn-out patches. Blood was running down all over her silk suit and her stockings were torn. The blood dripped and pooled on the ground as the rain picked up again.

Laurie snorted in derision.

Cindy heard her.

***

Judy was back at her car. The door was open and she was bending to get in, thinking she needed to throw everything in the car into a bag and sling it into the dumpster. Then she heard screaming in the back yard. She straightened up and shut the door, and went into the back yard the side way, along the bushes. It was raining harder now. It dripped into her eyes and ran down her nose. She began shivering with the cold.

***

Gordon heard the screaming too. He was standing on the other side of the back door by the fence, just out of sight, scratching his ass, which had started to burn a little. The noise sounded like a cat fight. He wavered between appearing suddenly – Gordon to the rescue – and keeping the hell out of the way, and opted for prudence. Laurie could take care of herself. He reached into his pockets for the pause that refreshes, but that evil bitch must have taken it.

The screams fell silent. Suddenly he couldn’t get there fast enough to rescue his stash. He strode out from the shadows and stopped dead when he found himself in the middle of a game of statues.

***

Laurie was sitting on the ground near the bushes, her legs splayed out in front of her, her head lolling. Her arm looked broken.

Sam and Dave peered out from the bushes in shock.

Mom stood in the door in her housecoat, holding a wooden spatula in her fist, enraged.

Allen stood in the yard, naked but for his shoes and socks, his mouth open, his brows knit, his hands out in supplication.

Cindy stood in the middle of the yard, six feet from Laurie, pointing a gun at her, sneering and drooling.

Judy stood in front of Cindy, between her and Laurie, with her hand on the gun.

Gordon considered the tableau. How was he going to turn the situation to his advantage?

***

Allen moved slowly closer, staying out of Cindy’s line of sight.

Sam and Dave retreated into the bushes, looking for the back way out and wondering if they should take their equipment.

Laurie started whining and whimpering, rocking with the pain, more dramatically as she realized she was on show.

Judy and Cindy stood locked together. Judy stared into Cindy’s eyes, searching for her sister inside the freak show. She felt Cindy’s grip loosen, and helped her to lower her shooting arm.

Mom huffed, “I told your father you’d end up like this.” Cindy swung her head to look at Mom, a dazed expression on her face. Judy could feel her tighten up again. Mom stood there waving the spatula, looking superior. “You sicken me. You’re no child of mine.” She clasped a hand to her chest. “After everything I sacrificed for you, you have the gall to attack me.” She swung her hand to point at Cindy. Her mouth was curled up, her face was red, and her wattles shook with rage. “You’re a disgrace to this family. I’ve never been so disgusted by anyone in my life. I wish I’d had an abortion.”

Cindy’s face got ugly. Her body convulsed, and she swung her gun arm up to shoot Mom. Judy held on to it, and they arm wrestled, rocking each other back and forth. Nobody else moved.

Laurie started giggling. “You sound like pigs eating.”

Cindy and Judy paused and looked at each other. Neither of them liked the sound of that. Then the struggle intensified; the gun waved wildly from Mom to Laurie. When it went off, nobody was certain, but it looked like Judy had just finished wrenching it away from Cindy.

The bang hurt everybody’s ears. Both Mom and Laurie fell to the ground and were still. Everybody froze up like statues again.

Cindy and Judy stood there in the middle of the yard looking at each other in wonder.

Allen stood a few steps away and felt warm pee running down his leg.

Sam crouched in the bushes and fought nausea while Dave found his phone and called 911.

Gordon stood and thought about which one to rescue. His mother, or the mother of his child? The one he’d lived with all his life, or the one he was supposed to live with from now on? Which one did he wish dead the most and which the least? The one who he was dependent on, or the one who depended on him?

***

Judy fled around the side of the house, the gun in her hand. She was going to call 911. And Mom’s body was blocking the back door, so she went for the front door. Which was locked. So she came back around and nearly tripped on the doormat, which was back over the dip. Sighing heavily, she moved it out of the way one more time. There was no need for another injury, and she was willing to keep helping just because she should, but it was costing her a lot of patience and energy to keep intervening to put things where they went. And nobody else seemed to be doing anything constructive, so it was just more work for her.

***

Judy’s flight decided Gordon. He ran to Mom’s side and checked her over for bullet wounds. Then he took her hand and patted her face and whispered his concern and devotion while she revived.

Gordon told Allen to see to Laurie until the ambulance got there and gently lifted Mom upright. “Let’s get you to medical attention, Mom,” said Gordon the Perfect Son, wrapping her in his long arms like a spider.

Cindy moved, turning to track Mom’s progress. She followed with halting steps, slowly at first, but then, remembering where she was, she launched herself at Mom’s back, and pulled her to the ground, right out of Gordon’s grasp.

Mom still had the spatula, but it was no good at close quarters so she dropped it. They rolled on the grass, Mom’s housecoat torn and filthy, Cindy’s clothes still ruined from round one. Cindy had her hands around Mom’s neck and was trying to get on top of her so she could put her weight into it. Mom was kicking with her knees and punching, gouging, and tearing with her hands. They sounded inhuman.

Gordon backed away slowly. Maybe he should reconsider throwing his lot in with his Mom. He looked over at Allen, who was staring at the fight, in a trance. He looked at Laurie, who wasn’t moving. He turned to rescue her, his heart full of love and concern, and his foot hit something. Annoyed, he kicked at it, and continued, right into the middle of Frank’s Mat O’Death(tm). Frank’s invention was truly ingenious, because in addition to an electric shock delivered by a series of thin film batteries and capacitors, he had included a special mix of dry chemicals that reacted strongly with water to create even more energy to be stored up and discharged suddenly an available (and soaking wet) ground.

Gordon. Ground. He paused to think about the sound of the words. He paused to listen to something – “You’re grounded!” – that was it. Mom’s voice sung thru his nerves. Mom’s voice from all those years ago, angry and full of God’s vengeance. He never liked when her anger was directed at him. He’d avoided hearing that voice at all costs his entire life; placing anyone, anything between its withering power and his vulnerable little self.

Mom’s voice, strident thru the ages, became static and stretched out, and somehow symbolized the strong feeling coursing thru him. It was a really big rush, like really strong cocaine in his veins, burning toward his heart. He could feel his muscles trembling, and he heard a thrumming in his ears. He bore down and rode it, but it was like an orgasm, when you just can’t concentrate on anything else. He was standing there, arcing back against the wall of the carport, taking the strongest neurochemical surge of his life. It was mystical. He saw a light.

Nobody noticed. Not even when the steam began to rise from his feet. Mom and Cindy were playing on the grass, Allen and Judy were bending over Laurie. Sam and Dave were hauling ass back to their car, trailing bits of equipment behind them. Gordon was getting more and more uncomfortable, and realized that he wasn’t breathing. And that his stomach, formerly queasy, was now feeling like it was boiling. He felt his guts churning and rushing. The zipper of his pants was starting to burn his dick. And now he had a splitting headache. Enough. Time to go sit down. Slowly he peeled himself upright, away from the wall, and tottered off the mat.

His legs collapsed underneath him and he landed against the wall crookedly, sliding slowly over sideways until his forehead rested on the welcome mat, which reached out tentacles and fed on his brain.

***

Cindy and Mom were still tussling half-heartedly, but the fight had gone out of them, and Judy left Allen with Laurie and walked over to break them apart easily. She helped Mom to stand up, then reached for Cindy, who just sat there, crying like she was three years old. She wrapped her arms around Cindy, who sobbed on her shoulders and showed no sign of wanting to get up off the grass.

Judy wasn’t strong enough to lift her, so turned to Mom for help. They gathered Cindy up and moved to go inside with her, but suddenly Cindy broke away and stood glaring at Mom, her face changing from baby to battle hag in an instant. Then it changed again. She wobbled on her feet.

Cindy looked puzzled, like she’d forgotten how to talk. Then she glared daggers at Mom again, and at Judy too, for good measure. Then she laughed, as if she’d just gotten the joke. Then she threw up all over herself, in a gurgling froth that adorned her ruined silk suit with an accent scarf of acid green. When she raised her head, her eyes were bloodshot. Judy got scared. Mom got that disapproving look on her face.

Cindy started talking, and appeared to be speaking in normal sentences that would have made sense if they could hear what she was saying. But she foamed too much, and her words tripped over themselves.

Then she stopped, shrugged, turned on her heel to walk away, and fell over dead.

It rained harder. The wind picked up. It thundered. They heard a siren.

***

Go read chapter 28

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author’s note

i’ve posted two bits of my novel in process, and haven’t had a single hit.  it feels just like it did when i had a radio show in college, at 5 am.  theoretically it’s out there among the people, but it all sounds like snoring to me.  of course, you don’t actually want to read what i’m writing, because it’s pretty nasty shit, especially now at the climax.  and it’s not well written or anything, just a first draft.  but i’m having fun with it, and have no idea how i’m going to get things to happen.

that doesn’t bother me.  if you pay attention to the process, the story writes itself.  just like the physical act of typing.  once it becomes reflexive, i  can shut my eyes and wail away at the keys, and hit the furthest keys accurately, without thought – or as fast as thought.  typing becomes a quantum activity, where it appears instantaneously, out of nowhere.  i don’t recognize the words when i proofread later.

that’s why i’m writing.

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day 2

Chapter Twenty-Seven continued

Judy drove around until she ran out of gas, and got thoroughly drenched walking back to the gas station, where she bought a 40 and put enough gas into a quart bottle of coke to make it to the nearest gas station next to a liquor store. She got gas while she was there, and then hunched over to see the gentlemen about a drink.

One of the benefits of her now temporarily-abandoned method of organization was that she kept the debit card in her pocket at all times, along with a pen, her keys and her ‘wallet’ – dozens of scribbled-on stickies stacked together and held with a spring clip. She felt proud of herself, standing there dripping and disheveled in line at the liquor store; she was in charge of her reality, not a victim. She could choose the path forward for herself, instead of running whatever dismal program everyone in her family had always told her was her future.

She sat in the car, still in the parking lot, sipping her whisky and rolling a joint, the rain drumming on the roof and running in mindless runnels down the windshield. What about creating her own karma, then? Just what kind of path forward could she envision? If she ignored all the depressing lessons involved in growing up in such a family, what was left? Where was that bright, chipper girl whose 5th grade face shone thru the years from the class photo on her fridge? Before the mental beatings, the incessant teasing, the emotional torture that left her such a cripple.

But what was so bad about how she was raised, really? She wasn’t beaten, or unduly punished, or raised with wacko religious teachings, or molested by her parents. She had all these nightmare visions of her youth, but they were memories of her reactions to things that nobody else remembered after all this time. Times when she felt humiliated and stupid. The feelings so overpowered her that she went around feeling ashamed all the time – just to be proactive, just to dull the pain of others’ opinions thru repetition.
She lived like a craven thing, with wide eyes and shivery skin, hiding under things and scuttling about in the shadows. And she did it to herself, because she was certain everybody thought she was a useless lump of humanity, a waste of breath.

It took a surprising amount of liquor on an empty stomach to get her going, but eventually Judy worked herself around to a good indignant state where the question wasn’t what kind of path forward could she envision, but what kind of blow she could strike for freedom from the demons of her family ties. She should kill them all.

With a silent peanut gallery, she could go forward in peace, without her parents and siblings taunting and harping on her many problems. Without the voices, the memories, the self-serving advice, she would be free to react to situations with her own intelligence and curiosity, bravely rather than as if her hand were going to be bitten off. She could be as intrepid as her daydreams. She could get a job, meet new people, learn to live on her own. She had years to live; she was only 50-something…55, 56? Another 20 years, 30 years maybe. She could live a whole lifetime in 30 years. And having learned a bunch of lessons, it wouldn’t be nearly as messy as the abortion of a life she’d been leading.

But hey, she could do all that without killing anybody. And the fantasy was as far as it would get, because Judy was a powderpuff. She lived in a fantasy world that had only gotten deeper and more intransigent since Frank died, and really couldn’t function very well in the ordinary world. She was a mid-50s, unemployed, freshly widowed, and now homeless alcoholic pothead with personal hygiene issues and DSM-IV approved mental ailments. Nobody else in the whole wide world shared Judy’s vision of herself and her potential, or thought that she was capable of creating her karma.

Besides, the matrisiblingcidal solution is like the geographic solution – it rarely works because you carry your family baggage with you wherever you go. They’re in your head and in your habits, and like Obi-Wan, your family only becomes more powerful after death. They are, arguably, the most powerful memes there are.

Okay, that and two bucks’ll buy a cup of coffee, which Judy could use. And some food at the gas station, right there in front of her. So she clambered out of the car, wove her way to the hot dog counter and loaded up one with everything, part of everything ending up all over the counter, and Judy trying loudly to clean it up before being shooed to the checkout. They escorted her to the restroom later, when she’d finished her hot dog and coffee out in the car and needed to pee.

She returned to the car after attempting to straighten up a bit in the restroom, and began driving aimlessly once again. But she was a little more unsteady after lunch (all the msg in the hotdog, no doubt), and it was a dreary day, so she pulled over in a sheltered spot down the street from Mom’s house, and sat picking her teeth with a safety pin she kept on her lapel. Mom’s house looked so comfortable. It always had. It was always a secure, warm place where everybody had a space they could retreat to.

But it wasn’t Judy’s house anymore. It wasn’t any of their house. Only Mom. And they weren’t welcome back. She really just wanted to go back to being a kid again; nothing complicated. Just Mom and Dad, and all her brothers and sisters, and they’d all know better this time, and be a loving family, and not so fucked up. Then everything would be alright.

Everything revolved around Mom. And Mom wanted it that way. That way she controlled everything that they did. Nobody would believe how intense Mom’s attention was when they were growing up. And how manipulative she was, getting her way every time, no matter what. Judy used to have nightmares that she was going someplace special and had forgotten something Mom then called everyone’s attention to. Like she was out in public in just her underwear, especially that silly undershirt she always had to wear so her little nipples wouldn’t show, because she was fat. For years that undershirt dream haunted her.

She hated it when she grew breasts because Mom got even more hysterical about the way she looked. As if she could change how she looked. Other girls anxiously learned about makeup and other lies, but Judy stolidly remained Judy, and couldn’t see why you should try to improve on what you’d been given.

Everyone else snickered and followed fashion, but Judy stuck to her principles, and in the days since Frank died, she dressed even more uniquely than usual. And she smelled. And now that her home was in her car, everything smelled. But at least she had a change of clothes in the car. Lots of clothes, towels, old papers, trash, food containers, empty bottles and cans. and a whole garbage bag full of old clothes in the trunk, ready for the thrift store. Well, not any more. The trunk was now her wardrobe. She’d get around to cleaning the trash out of the back seat tomorrow, and make it really livable.

Considering her meager resources – a car full of junk – Judy still felt hopeful for the future. She had learned a bunch of new habits and had a lot more control over her evil thoughts now, even if her grief was heavy at times. After this little bout with alcohol was done, after she’d had enough of mourning, in a week or two, she would come out of it, find a place to live, get a job, straighten herself out, and move on with her life. Maybe she would move to somewhere else, but not until she proved to herself that she could survive all by her lonesome.

Except for Mom, who would never be satisfied, no matter what. The pathways in Judy’s brain were such ruts that she couldn’t go three flashes of thought without circling back to Mom, feeling a painful throb in her soul every time. Like a lie bump on your tongue, and you have to work up your courage to bite it off.

So she proceeded to torture herself with the fact that she was just like her mother. Especially as the eldest child; she got the largest dose of Mom at the beginning of her run as great mother goddess.

Judy had done her research. Castaneda said that women have holes in their middles after they give birth, and a sorceress had to steal back her missing substance from her children. She combined this with the idea of goddesses that eat their children, and decided that Mom was a psychic vampire. And that no matter how far Judy might run, Mom had her hooks in Judy’s aura and would feed off her as long as she was alive.

So Mom had to die. She kept coming back to that. It’s just that Judy wasn’t going to be the one to do it. She knew she didn’t have the heart to kill Mom, even tho Mom had pretty surely killed Frank. That alone should send Judy into a rage blind enough to stick something sharp into Mom’s eyes. But why bother? Judy was just like Mom, so Mom would haunt Judy the rest of her life, as Judy came to resemble her more and more. Thirty years from now, Judy would be worse than Mom.

But if Judy was like Mom, then Mom was like Judy. And Judy was her own worst enemy, so why not leave Mom alone to screw her own life up?

Except that Mom really didn’t seem to be screwing her life up. She seemed to be right in the middle of a nice, comfortable old age in a nice comfortable old house, with a fresh young victim willing to let her manipulate and abuse him to her heart’s content.

While Judy went thru a dark night of the soul that might well last the rest of her life. Homeless, wet, smelly, drunk, and depressed. Not depressed; angry. Depressed with an attitude. Snarky depression, sitting and muttering to herself in a dark smelly wet beat up old car in her old fucking neighborhood with nowhere to go, while all her relatives partied and cavorted and didn’t give a damn that she was alone in the world.

After a good cry, Judy rolled another joint and had a couple of whisky chasers. Then the rain slackened a bit, and she decided to see if the lock on the sliding door was still broken, because if it was, she was going to crawl into bed in her old room and attempt to turn the clock back all night in her sleep.

She got out of the car, stepping into a puddle and soaking her left shoe. It squelched as she walked to the driveway. She limped up the drive to the carport and noticed the doormat lying in the mud. Snorting disapproval for something out of place, she picked it up by the edge and tugged it back onto the driveway. Intending to put it back on the porch where it belonged, it was so heavy she decided to leave it there and let it drain. The puddle she took the mat out of was brown and ooky, and looked deep. Somebody could have broken an ankle on the mat, sitting over that hole like that.

Judy was a good person. She tried to think of others, tried to be the unknown hand that was always doing nice things for strangers. She went out of her way to help whenever she could. How could life turn out so shitty when she was always trying to be good? Did anybody ever notice? Did it benefit her in any way to be good? No. It benefited them, it meant she was quiet and never made any trouble and never demanded to get her way for once.

This was what she’d been thinking about before, how she was thru doing things because people expected her to. She was going to make her own karma from now on, decide to do things because they were good for her, or just because she wanted to do them. Freedom.
To do what, tho? Freedom to kill Mom for killing Frank? What would that benefit her?

No, fuck killing Mom, fuck being angry with her and blaming everything on her, even if a good case could be made. Blaming Mom just made Judy a victim, and fuck that.

Nope, the kind of karma she was going to create right now was to do a nice thing for someone without being asked, and go find a warm bed in her mother’s house to spend a wet and sorrowful night.

***

Sam and Dave noticed Cindy’s car, as well as Gordon’s, and even Judy’s, when they entered the neighborhood. Rick’s car wasn’t there, but that wasn’t surprising, because Rick was freshly dead and his widow was still negotiating to get her children back. Their new informant Ben was over there lending a hand, and promised to turn in a report.

They were there because a fair number of their secreted GPS devices had converged in a known location. But this time they were prepared. They had parabolic mics, infrared cameras, and lots of stakeout drugs, as well as standard issue trenchcoats to keep the rain off, and a whole bale of paper towels for when they couldn’t.

After Judy stalked past they decided they should move into place closer to the action and prepared themselves properly, saluting Gordon as they finished off a bag of marching powder they’d found while organizing things. The rain had slacked off a little, so they made their move, Dave snickering when Sam stepped into a puddle beside the car, Sam whacking him on the shoulder when Dave slammed the trunk getting the equipment out. “Like anyone’s going to hear,” snarled Dave.

But Judy heard the trunk slam, and the wet thwack of Sam’s slap. And so did Gordon and Laurie, who had rolled off each other, and were actively avoiding Judy behind Mom’s car.

Judy scuttled off across the front yard, crouching and keeping close to the bushes as she made her way around to the back porch. Feeling safe, Laurie knelt down and started going down on Gordon, who leaned back on the car and rolled his head from side to side with pleasure.

Out of the corners of his eyes Gordon saw Sam and Dave struggle by with armloads of gear, heading for the back yard. Somehow they avoided being fried as they turned the corner; maybe Frank’s invention didn’t work.

Gordon finished quickly, before the distraction got to be too much, and left Laurie wiping her mouth with the back of her hands. She’d scratched his ass while he was coming; really dug her nails in. She checked to see if her manicure was still perfect.

Gordon was annoyed to see the mat o’death sitting on the driveway. What the fuck. Damn that Judy anyway. He prodded it with his foot but it didn’t go off. He lifted it by the corner. Everything was still attached. The little light was still on. So he put it back over the puddle and stood admiring the placement. It had to work.

***

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day 1

Chapter Twenty-Seven continued

Gordon and Laurie ran out of movie dialog halfway to Mom’s house. Gordon was feeling kind of queasy in his stomach, and Laurie’s throat was hoarse from screaming at him about his evil mother. He couldn’t think with all the noise, but once she settled down, he was faced with a mind blank of any plans. He tried to think. Laurie tried to irritate him doing her nails. The nail polish had a funny smell, but Gordon only noticed the volatile organics, inhaling deeply to get a hit.

How to kill Mom was the issue. How precisely. Like all his siblings, Gordon was long on resentment, but had little follow-thru. If he could wake up out of a fog to find his mother dead and purple beneath his clutched hands, he would be okay with that. But having to actually take the action himself was rather distasteful. After all, he loved his mother, and didn’t want to see her suffer. So maybe if he closed his eyes…

Frank had the right idea. Gordon had long suspected that Frank was behind a bunch of the recent accidents at Mom’s house, and he’d slyly confirmed his suspicions at the big dinner at Mom’s, when he’d asked probing questions about the various hazards Frank’d been working on. It seems Frank was tireless in his efforts to do Mom in, and nobody ever noticed. Too bad he hadn’t hit the jackpot before he died, Gordon mused.

But maybe he – Gordon the Good – could help out, posthumously. Frank had innocently pointed out a few little solutions to some of the problems around Mom’s house, just waiting to be triggered. Besides the structural insufficiencies Frank had helped along, there were various devices – The Exploding Tea Kettle(tm), the Electrode Foot Spa(tm), the Gas-Chamber Facial Steamer(tm).

But the Welcome Mat of Death(tm) seemed to be the most immediately useful device, and Gordon whipped up a quick scheme as they were turning into the neighborhood. It had been sitting on the front porch for several years, and hadn’t gone off simply because it had never gotten wet. The best laid plans…So the first thing Gordon did after he parked the car was to grab it up off the porch, and walk it around to the carport, where he laid it right on top of the dip between the driveway and the path to the back yard. Everybody always took the little shortcut, and with all the rain it was a puddle of water that the mat just barely covered. And this was great, because it meant the bottom of the mat – and its electrical connections and batteries – were not just wet but really wet, and anybody stepping on the mat would be fried. Frank would be proud.

It was the best he could come up with on the spur of the moment, and it meant carefully steering Mom over the mat, when she might not want to go outside, in that direction, in the rain, at night. But Gordon the Mesmerizer had the power to make anybody bend to his will, and his mother was the biggest sap of all when it came to her baby’s will. So it was settled, and he had only to arrange the outcome. Piece of cake. He stood in the carport and watched the rain fall on the welcome mat, and felt around in his pockets for something to celebrate with.

As for Laurie, her plan was to scratch the old bat’s eye’s out. Mom’s kids had each had that impulse in turn, but abandoned it because it was obviously just a revenge fantasy, without any practicality. A blind Mom would make their lives infinitely worse when she came to live with the perpetrator for the rest of their days. But Laurie didn’t have that worry. Because she had poison-tipped fingernails. It gave her a certain level of warm satisfaction to scoop up coke and watch Gordon inhale deeply from the tip of her little finger. She made sure to scratch his cheek as he threw his head back and vacuumed his nostrils, and gave him a challenging look when he complained. She searched for a movie reference, but nothing occurred to her.

They stood there in the carport, waiting aimlessly. He put his arm around her and she leaned into it, making them both stagger. They moved over to Mom’s car and stood propped against it, cuddling. Gordon reached for a feel and Laurie let him, responding more as she remembered where she was and what they were going to do. Pretty soon they were fucking on the hood of Mom’s minivan, as much in the shadows as two white skinned humping creatures can be.

***

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day 1 of nanowrimo

yessir, it’s november the first, and i spent all day reading a book about memes while waiting not to be selected for a jury panel.  made more money just sitting there than i have in awhile, too.

but i didn’t write anything, and it’s supposed to average 2000 words a day in order to make 50,000.  i have real doubts about my chances this year, but i’ve done nanowrimo for a bunch of years now, and usually manage to pull the words out of my ass somehow.

in the past few months, jim and i have read all the chapters i wrote the last time i worked on this novel, and i’ve had it in the back of my mind what had to happen.  there’s a whole lot of things.

the two cindies are about to assault mom and allen, gordon and laurie are prowling around the house, judy is almost there, sam and dave need to get their asses over to the scene, and pretty much everybody has to die.

this year i have a different set of circumstances under which to write the climax to this novel.  first time was all bare boned.  to get all the way to the climax, i concentrated on just getting the various threads straight.  like setting up a loom.  i left all the embroidery, all the filling-out of the patterns for the second draft.  it reads more like a filmscript than a novel (tho not much like a screenplay at that).  this time, however, i have only a short climax to cover, and 50,000 words to cover it in, and that’s exactly in contrast to the first part.  and i have no idea how to fill that much space at this stage.

i could slow it all down and get as deeply into their heads as possible at this point.  all the thoughts.  all the childhood traumas.  the really deep and true reasons for matricide.

or i could continue my slapstick pace and just get all the bits written down so i can move on.

a few days’ work at most.

hah.  that’s what i say whenever i start a project.  i consistently underestimate by at least twice, and sometimes much more, the time it’s going to take to finish.  like the two dolphins i was commissioned to paint.  i figured i could have it all done in two months, and didn’t it take four.  and what about the third dolphin, which was supposed to take a couple of weeks.  it took a month and a half.  and cleaning the attic for a studio visit.  that was supposed to be done by thursday of that week, and it took almost a full month.

i’m not sure i could write a lot of inner head stuff for these characters at this point.  it sure would be a strange thing to sit here for eight hours a day and drum out.  like jack nicholson in the shining.

anyway, i’m going to read the last chapter i posted, and see where i need to start tomorrow.

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