For the next 5 days my first book “Crossing” will be available for free on Kindle. It’s a short noirish fever dream filled with love, death, and violations of reality taking place in Baltimore, MD.
Any reviews or feedback would be awesome. I hope you enjoy!
There was once a glass coffin in the center of a lost woods, although how a woods can get lost is a strange question. Once a day the coffin would sing and all the animals would come to listen. One day a boy and girl were walking along the edge of the woods and heard the singing, which somehow calmed the animals down enough so that they did not attack, assuming of course that there were some bears and alligators amongst the animals listening to the coffin. The girl was immediately enamored with the singing and asked the boy to open the lid to the coffin so she could see what was producing the sound. As soon as the boy opened the lid the animals pushed him inside and the girl saw that it was not a coffin, but the entrance to a deep hole. She grabbed the boy’s hand, but he was too heavy and slipped away.
Sasha wasn’t sure what the moral of her story was, but liked that the animals pushed the little boy in the hole. She assumed the little girl battled off the animals and escaped, although questioned if she would bother to come back because the woods was lost, so was probably prone to wandering about trying to find its way somewhere, making it doubly difficult to find again, apart from the singing of course, which was probably some yet to be classified giant ground mole with a taste for little boys. The right thing to do would be to get the police, but upon finding the woods missing, they would assume the little girl had eaten the little boy and imagined the woods and singing coffin so was obviously insane and fit for a strait jacket, which she would wear well because she was an exceptionally pretty little girl.
There are clowns in the walls
More than a few
They shake and scratch
Apparently coming for you
Unnamed by Ringling
Tortured by Barnum
Murdered by Bailey
Buried in the walls of a lodge on the mountain
Shadows out the window
Shadows on the walls
Moving through the halls
Maybe a trapeze artist or two
Footsteps on the roof
Hollow walls sealed suspiciously well
A great tomb on the mountain
North Fork Mountain Inn: really unpleasant experience. Don’t go there. Overpriced, lame. Owners wouldn’t blink an eye if you disappeared into the woods. In fact they’d probably raid your cabin refrigerator and serve your food for dinner at 45$ a plate. I wouldn’t have been surprised to find a Motel Hell-like field of heads somewhere in the forest.
There is a single mindedness about hospitality that can be pleasantly numbing. The only way to survive is to make people happy. Not just customers (guests) unfortunately; managers, fellow servers and cooks all need to view you favorably or you will perish; not die necessarily, but you certainly won’t make any money. Talk to an experienced server and ask them if they’re “on” at the moment. If they’re still in the field, the inevitable answer will be, “yes”. The state of “on” can make it difficult to interact with people you know should they happen into your section or rotation, but after a while your style takes over and you address them as if you are an intermediary between the person they know and the person who is bringing them drinks.
Some people are quicker to learn how to employ the layers of “on”, these people generally become bartenders. You’re essentially an actor, or a prostitute (who is also an actor of sorts); you generate a persona that yields the highest net income per customer interaction. There are lots of servers; the last I saw hospitality was the number three employer behind government and medicine, so much of this information is probably already known or at least understood on some level.
Once you’ve undertaken concurrent sixteen to twenty hour shifts during times of high volume, you have changed; maybe not PST (could be depending on where you work), but definitely the feeling of having passed through a gauntlet. You are certainly not really you again until you’ve had a few days off.
Morals are constantly tested as well. Do you tell the truth, or do you lie. You quickly learn that lying is the best way to go 95% of the time, which is added to the “on” persona that eventually bleeds into your nonworking self; one eventually becoming indistinguishable from the other. Maybe you don’t work in a meat grinder though. Maybe you work for a sleepy mom and pop restaurant whose owners love you and give you semi-managerial responsibilities in these lean times. They might tell you that people can no longer take their credit card tips at the end of the night because of tax reasons. They tell you that you can’t take any tips home and you need to turn everything in to them so it can be added to your pay check, and then you show up one day and the locks have been changed; mom and pop are gone and are drinking your money somewhere in Texas. Coworkers who you repeatedly assured would receive their money call you a few times a day. Mom and pop have changed their number and likely their identities. What now?
What now? Work for corporate restaurants as a mercenary server; viewing your job as that of an independent contractor hired to push a product until a better opportunity presents itself. View your former coworkers you may wait on with the cold indifference that you might regard a squeegee man at a traffic light. You are “on”, they are your marks, your only goal is to act in such a way that will cause them to give you their money and come back again to give you more of their money. Of course, it would be great to have a drink after your shift is over, but you know, it’ll probably be late and you have to open tomorrow morning. Work sucks, you have bills to pay etc… Wow thank you so much for the 100% tip, you just saved my whole day. You’ll totally stop by the restaurant they work at on your day off and return the generosity. But you won’t. You’ll keep the money and give away another little piece of your soul to keep it. In the end, when and if you’ve escaped the industry, you won’t remember these things, and if you do it will be so much later that no one else will remember them either; these and countless other acts of extreme moral ambiguity undertaken by hospitality industry employees (assuming you’ve undertaken most of them) emerge from your memory as your “off” persona comes back to the fore. The question becomes; did you survive the industry or are you now so “on” that you don’t even know what it is anymore?
Portfolio submitted, letter of intent mildly intimidating, references incomplete and pending, resume passable, maybe yes, maybe no; work will continue regardless. Books to write, things to build, skills to learn, etc… Because these camp counselors aren’t decapitating themselves, the man in the trash chute needs to be addressed before he is compacted and she has to throw herself out a window sometime in the near future, at least before the final assault on the asteroid base, and certainly before Corrine flees to France to escape the murderous Heather who has been instructed by their employer to eliminate her at any cost.
Rereading earlier drafts supplies the answer to all of the scene’s problems. A pack of zombie (feral?) robots obviously breaks through the police lines late in the scene adding the random element that was missing. Yes, robot butlers seemingly got the boot earlier, but Phillip favors the chaos and fear that would be generated by rusted crazed robots overrunning the SWAT team over uninteresting replicants that simply serve to make Sasha seem nigh invulnerable.
Rescene: Sasha wakes to the sound of movement downstairs. She puts on her mask and looks over the upstairs railing and sees five members of a SWAT unit quietly searching the house. Eduardo pretends to be asleep on the couch, but fingers the trigger of a shotgun. The house is completely surrounded by the police and Flannan tanks mentioned earlier. Phillip moves to an earlier point in the book and adds that George’s apartment is in a bad neighborhood which adds believability to what’s about to occur. Sasha hides behind a door as two men in black body armor move quietly up the stairs.
There is some noise from outside. The infiltrators stop and listen to their earpiece radios. Gun fire and screaming from street. One of the cops runs to the front door to tries and close it but is tackled and has a rusted arm repeatedly plunged into his chest. The other members of the Swat team come to help but are similarly overrun. Eduardo shoots the robots that have entered the house while Sasha runs to the basement to retrieve the CEO. Bob blocks the front door as many hands pull him back and forth.
Real-life Sasha has been meeting Phillip after work for drinks almost two nights a week now; giving him levels of anxiety that he didn’t know were possible. He has successfully dodged having her over to his apartment by repeatedly citing his brother’s lifestyle as the main deterrent, but he knows he can’t avoid the shame of his poverty forever. Eventually she will want to see where he lives no matter how disgusting he describes Edward’s habits. Edward, incidentally and unsurprisingly has not yet found a job and offers an unending critique of Phillip’s failure so far to sleep with Sasha. General lack of experience with intimacy was the most likely reason for Phillip’s clumsy approach. He had made it to her apartment twice, but both times resulted in only partial nudity and while fun, was somewhat unfulfilling.
On several occasions she had mentioned an ex-boyfriend who she was apparently still friends with; a situation which Phillip found concerning simply because of the English involved. A boy who is a friend is a boyfriend of sorts and an ex-boyfriend implies that this friend who happened to be a boy was not acceptable in some way and making them an ex-friend who happened to be a boy, added intimacy or not, which should preclude any future friendship of any sort with this person. Phillip also acknowledged the possibility that he attributed the lack of sex thus far to lingering feelings for this ex and was more than slightly bitter about it. His name was Vinnie and she described him as a “bad boy” type. He was apparently an occasional male model with a significant heroin problem which Phillip said sounded really awesome, but actually not at all.