Women

*Le Gasp* The Start of a Novel? At Long Last? Maybe…

A little background. This is an idea I’ve been kicking around as a prequel to this idea. I decided to start it first because…well…it came first. I have no idea how far I’ll take it. I know how all the events transpire. The only issue is that this is my first foray into fiction writing in eight (or so) years. I’m putting this up and out there to see if it’s a decent start.

If you happen by the site – whether on accident or on purpose – lemme know what you think.

Thief

Laerem was stuck in a supply duct.

Not the most dignified of locations, especially with another woman’s hindquarters mere inches from one’s brow.  Her “partner” had ordered them to stay very still. Night drones were heard down an adjacent corridor. Had her tormentor/accomplice done her homework, she would’ve known that supply drones weren’t armed – nor equipped with alarms. That didn’t stop the left-eye-patched upperclassmen – bald save for a raven-colored tassel-tail – from halting their progress.

As to what progress that might be, even Laerem didn’t know. The blue-haired cadet was the victim of trite blackmail. One moment, she was on a tour of the Razhti Metanautics Muesum; the next, she was a wannabe terrorist. And all over a holograph…

*****

Blood trickled down her chin as she took the blow. Strands of her long, aqua mane matted her sweat-drenched brow and clouded her vision. She only knew the number of attackers by the silhouettes. Brave bunch, this trio – clocking a girl in broad daylight. Had it been any other day, she would’ve had to mull over who was out for her hide. It was, however, not just any day. The anniversary of her arrival to the Royal Fleet Academy Annex was known by all – the first native Razhti recruit, ever.

“Got something to say, bluebitch?” came the innovative challenge from the lead, stout silhouette

“Not really,” she said after spitting a molar. She hated having to grow new ones, painful as all hell.

“What about apologizing?” one of the hench-shadows suggested – rather forcibly by a boot-push to the shoulder.

“For?”

“For killing Telakni!” the lead shadow retorted.

He followed that up with a swift kick to her abdomen. Laerem doubled over, more for show than out of pain. Of course, it still hurt. Like a bitch, even. However, the four impacts to her person prior to that sad excuse for a gut-shot hurt far more. Anything after was child’s play, and she would know, having taken beatings as a child also.

Wiping the strands of hair from her colorless eyes, she finally got a good look at her “brave” assailants. The lead: Bortan, a short but solid specimen of stupidity – Cadet, Junior-Grade like her. He was known for having quick reflexes and a temper to boot. None too bright, but capable of surprising feats of force. His only real weakness was his vision – figuratively and literally – he was shortsighted and nearsighted. Parents hadn’t footed the bill for ocular correction.

The two henchies were far more capable than their stubby superior. Gromahd was a lanky but intelligent tactical cadet, destined for Core Fleet fame. The plain subordinate to Bortan’s left – Ashai – was a Fringe Noble; his status as a future Defender of the Kingdom almost guaranteed. Their blood was bluer than Laerem’s hair. What they were doing taking orders from a low-born ground-pounder-to-be made no sense. Perhaps they were all united in their universal hatred of the natives.

“Listen, boys,” she began with emphasis. “Can we discuss this another time? Classes end in an hour. I’m sure we can have a meaningful debate then.”

That attempt at diplomacy earned her a throat grapple. Two shaky fists firmed their way around her slender neck. The grip wasn’t tight enough, though. Ashai seemed unsure of what he was doing. Just like a Noble, never knowing how to get their hands dirty. He did have enough strength and resolve to pull her up to eye-level.  As Ashai held her, Bortan grabbed a fistful of hair and forced her gaze away – from her “choker” to him.

“No, we’ll talk now,” seethed the low-born leader. “We’ve been waiting a year for this…discussion.”

Bortan released his grip from her hair.

“Ash, release her,” he ordered.

Ashai gladly loosened his fingers. Laerem fell back to her knees. She caught a glint of red and silver from the corner of her right eye. Finally, the moment she’d been waiting for. Bortan was through with the theatrics. The proceedings were far too cliché for her to take them too seriously. Granted, being the pummelee wasn’t all that fun, but it was a means to an end. Eventually, attackers tired of bravado and went for the blade – either the one in their pants or the one in their hilt. Lucky for her, these three hadn’t figured out the former.

In his right hand, Bortan held a blade. Not just any blade; a curved Shiqaal hunter’s knife with cat-eyed jewels in the hilt. The blade itself was cast in a crimson alloy known only to form on asteroids…on the other side of the galaxy. In non-humanoid territory. How a commoner like Bortan got a hold of such a rare artifact, Laerem could only guess. Probably stolen, she thought.

Bortan motioned to his two lackeys to hold one arm each. She wasn’t putting up a fight as they brought her back to her feet, but she assumed the lead Luddite wanted to make it look good. Laerem attempted to look as scared as possible as Bortan brought the blade over his head in a wholly stupid sacrificial stance. Before the blade came down…she smiled.

A little known secret about Razhti humans – other than the curious origin of their blue hair – was their dexterity. They were capable of amazing and improbable acts of physical grace, particularly the women. This made them expert dancers and even more adept lovers.  Razhti courtesans, male and female, were renowned throughout the Kingdom. These boys should have guessed that a Rhazti girl would possess some of these traits.

Apparently, they didn’t. Bortan’s blade only cut air, and ended its downward swath with a clank to solid ground. Bewildered, he looked up. The blue-haired girl was above her attackers, poised in mid-flip over their heads. If he had kept his eyes open he would’ve noticed the back-flip, but now he stared at her exposed upside-down back and the muffled faces of his two high-status henchman.

Laerem completed her flip behind her two grapplers. Their grips had loosened once the knife started coming down. The lax restraint on her arms gave her the window she needed. One casual leap up and backward had turned the tide in her favor. Now behind her restrainers, she palmed both boys in the back – pushing them forward into Bortan. They collapsed like sports pins.

A dull ring signified that Bortan dropped his knife in the ensuing tumble. Laerem claimed it for herself.  “Spoils of victory,” she said.

A spray of heat whizzed past her hair. She felt a burning sensation across her left temple. Whipping around, Laerem found herself staring into the distant barrel of a pulse gun. In the hands of Gromahd, whom she thought had remained unusually passive during the scuffle. This time, his hands didn’t shake. And unlike Ashai, his grip on the gun was tight and resolute – his gaze, steel.

“Y-you know those are illegal on Annex grounds.” She fumbled her words.

“Don’t care,” was Gromahd’s tight reply.

“Who was Telakni to you, anyway?”

“My father.”

“Shit,” she said with a sigh.

As Laerem exhaled in defeat, a flash emanated from behind her. Warm yet cold on her back, she felt and heard the sound of electric cackle. The smell of ozone reached her nostrils, sizzling in her nasals. Gromahd’s face paled, as did the two other boys who still struggled to correct themselves. Another flash and a long, white bolt struck Gromahd square in the chest, launching him backward. He struck a wall then fell forward – smoke pluming from his back. The arc of energy had seared clean through.

Speechless, Bortan and Ashai collected themselves and made with the swiftest retreat Laerem had ever seen. With good reason.

“His piss-shooter was barely legal,” said a tenor female voice behind her.

Laerem turned around slowly, coming face-to-face with a girl slightly taller and a year older than she. A faux-leather eye-patch with an unknown sigil adorned her left eye. A single phase-scar also ran down the left side of her face like a clean, bird talon’s cut. Her head was shaved bare, save for one long, top-knotted tail of space-black hair – braided for the first half, free-flowing for the rest. Other than the scars, warrior cue, and thin-lipped expression, she was quite attractive.

The hard-faced teen hoisted a bulky, beige rifle behind her shoulders. “Now this,” she motioned to the hand-cannon behind her. “Is illegal.”

Words tried to form in Laerem’s open mouth, but they wouldn’t come.

“Just so you know,” the raven-tailed girl continued. “CP drones’ll be on this place in a matter of minutes.”

“B-but…I didn’t do anything,” Laerem sputtered. “Surveillance will show I was the one attacked!”

The other girl let the rifle fall to her side, “Yeah. About that. See the camera?”

Laerem looked to where she was pointing.

“I was just outta range of its field of vision,” she said. “Still am. And all those two other boys saw was light.”

“You mean-”

“Campus drones will think you fired the bolt.”

“And you’ll correct them, right?” Laerem asked.

“Yeah. About that, too.” The girl pulled out a hexagonal contraption from her legging. “Holocam with sound dampener.”

She clicked the side of the device. A holographic movie of the bolt attack replayed from her viewpoint. However, the footage made it look like the energy discharged from the crimson blade Laerem now held. The girl played the holo again in slow motion.  The effect was flawless.

“Nice blade ya got there,” she said, replacing the disk in her pocket. “Shiqaal design, if I’m not mistaken. Y’know, some of those hunter knives have been known to act in a projectile capacity.”

Laerem looked at the hunter’s knife but said nothing.

“Not that one, of course. Too small. But reputation is a remarkable thing.”

“Is this the part where you blackmail me?” Laerem asked.

“Persuade, actually.”

“To do what?”

“Join me on a museum tour.”

“I have class in ten minutes,” Laerem said.

“History of the Pirate King: The Early Years,” the girl countered. “Yes, I know your schedule. And considering you’re covered in blood, and kinda/sorta killed a kid, I think it can wait.”

Laerem sighed again, “What museum?”

“Metanautics.”

“Why?”

“Tell ya later.” She winked

“Whatever.”

The Razhti walked to the tasseled girl’s side. She returned Laerem’s acquiescence with a pleased – if wry – grin. And with that, she led the way, swinging the guilty rifle behind her.

“By the way, name’s Lenika,” she said, extending a hand. “Lenika Andrys. Most call me Leni.”

Laerem didn’t return the favor.

Leni shrugged, “Suit yourself, Laerem Praedopf.”

Quicker than the Razhti realized, she’d received a kiss on the cheek from her coercer.

“Cheer up. This’ll be fun.”

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Saturday, February 19th, 2011 Prose No Comments

Weeks Gone By

Either the Horn of Heimdall is a-blowin’, the Four Horsemen are drawing nigh, or swine have taken flight…I know not. But this weekend-work-saddled lout had a fairly decent couple o’ weeks. And busy. Lord, has it been busy. My metabolism (and wallet) haven’t been keeping up so well. Writing an in-depth expose on ’em would take far more effort and time than I’m willing to muster. Plus, what fun would it be if it made any sense? So here’re a few tidbits and observations made from the last ten days or so.

Let’s begin.

(1) While getting gas, friends and I noticed the beginnings of what we thought was genetically impossible. A species cross-breed, if you will. Emo hair, girly pants, hoodie…all there. However, said aqua blue pants were sagged to about waist length, just enough to expose boxer shorts!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is something worse than a polar/grizzly cross, and it is in a neighborhood near you. Thou hath been warned(-eth?).

(2) Ground Kontrol in downtown Portland used to be one of the coolest places on Earth. An 80s-style arcade that served beer, what can top that? We also learned that Tuesday nights was Rock Band night. Think stage, two widescreen televisions, and a fog machine to boot. It’s like karaoke for your inner headbanger.

Four of us arrived to partake. We had our band name – Manwich – and we brought our rock faces. Well, as much as one can bring rock faces while bespectacled for a video game. One of us had the idea to use karaoke rules when signing up for songs. It seemed sensible enough; put all your cards on the table and let DJ Wannabe sort it out. About three songs in, and we were up. We absolutely killed at Nine Inch Nails’ “Hand that Feeds”, nary a silent geek in the house.

Our second song…

Oh wait, we didn’t get a fucking second song!

Dunno if they were just playing favorites or if we just came across as a bunch of heckling douches, but other “bands” went up an average of three times. Aside from filling in spots individually, collectively we only went up as Manwich…the one time. And we even tipped.

So, screw you, Ground Kontrol. You are not worthy of the awesome might that is Manwich!

Following that veritable “burn”, we decided to take our band-ing back to an apartment. On the way in, we noticed the most paradoxical pro-life bumper sticker. Ever.

It read:

If it isn’t a baby, then you aren’t pregnant.

Wait…what?

What were they describing, a tumor? Oversized parasite? Kuato from Total Recall?

I was at a loss, and halfway tempted to leave a turd on the hood of the car with a little sign that said: “Not a baby.”

(3) Ladies and gentlemen, I think I need help. My tea obsession has reached critical mass. I spent the better part of two days – two separate errands – hunting down new things to try. First on the list was a tea I’d read about on the review site I contribute to. It was called milk oolong. Apparently, there’s an oolong tea that is picked and cultivated at a certain time of year, from a certain altitude, at a certain temperature. The resulting liquor has a vaguely milky/creamy flavor to it.

I could’ve easily purchased the stuff online, but I’m the stubborn sort and decided to hunt it down locally first. The closest thing to a local version was the Milk-Scented Kinsen Oolong put out by Stash Tea. However, I wasn’t sure if it was the same stuff. Lucky for me, their homebase is literally a five-minute jaunt from where I live. Alas, the shopkeepers had no idea either. I was discouraged.

To make up for it, though, they let me participate in the tea tasting they were having, and let me walk away with a sample of the milk-scented stuff. Hopefully it’d live up.

Well, it didn’t. Aside from a mild hint of creaminess, it tasted like an ordinary oolong, which in turn tastes like a dirt-smoke version of a green tea. In my opinion, anyway.

Tea Quest # 2 was an herbal tea I’d read about (again on the review site) called Greek Mountain Shepherd’s Tea. On Mount Olympus, there is a type of shrub called Sideritis syriaca (or ironwort), and the locals have used it as a tea for hundreds of years. Preparing it called for steeping 15g of whole shrubs and boiling – not steeping – ’em for ten minutes. Not only was this something I hadn’t heard of, but it wasn’t prepared as other herbal teas were. Sounded like something I had to try.

Funny thing, though.

None of the Greeks I knew had heard of the stuff.

I did some calling around to Greek delis. Neither place had any deliveries. I went to the Tao of Tea store in S.E. Portland. They said they had a sample at one point, and would be getting more, but ran out. Blast!

Looks like online shopping time. *le sigh*

Tea Quest # 3 was hunting down a bamboo whisk. During the winter storm months, I developed a liking for matcha – in essence, a finely pulverized, powered green tea. Unlike other teas, where you simply steep the leaves, matcha uses the entire leave for consumption. The powder is like…well…green hot chocolate, only better for you. One simply pours hot water in and let’s the powder take.

I was missing an important tool for matcha preparation, that being the aforementioned bamboo whisk. It was required for mixing the powder into the water better, leading to a frothier brew. Before, I usually settled with a fork or straw to do my stirring. Not the same.

After perusing the H-Mart and Uwajimaya, I finally found one for $14. That shit ain’t cheap. Next was finding…well…matcha. Dumbshit “moi” forgot to pick some up while at the Tao of Tea store. Hurray for thinking ahead.

Happy ending, though, the matcha came out perfect.

Not that any of you coffee drinkers really care.

(4) I have this friend – see – we shall call her…Catalyst. Cat, for short. Both are quite fitting, I assure you.

Cat zapped off a group text wondering who’d want in on some Harvey’s Comedy Club action. As of yet, I had a few “tentative” plans, but nothing solid. Plus, I hadn’t seen her in months. Long overdue face-time was a must.

I got there surprisingly early, she and her ride arrived a few minutes later. We b.s.’d for a bit in the lounge before, then moseyed in for the main acts. Let’s just say, the comedy was “off” that night. The first guy looked like a cancer patient and seemed keenly aware that he was dying (not literally) on stage. The second guy wasn’t much better, a cracked-out Mexican who looked vaguely like Jack Black from Nacho Libre. Sounded like him, too. I was waiting for him to talk about his “stretchy-pants” at any moment. Alas, never came to pass.

The true entertainment wasn’t the acts, it was – as always – Catalyst. Picture if you will, a film noir femme fatale with the inner child of a Chucky doll. If you can somehow fathom that image, then you have some idea of the person I’m referring to. As friends go, always a good time.

Case in point:

Cat can clang shots of vodka without any problem. The softer stuff, though, hits her far quicker. White wine was the culprit this time. It hit her a little too hard, too fast. Wasn’t her fault, though. The blond wife of a friend of hers did the honors of smoothing out her buzzing head with a neck massage. Poor Cat never left that woman’s bosom for the rest of the night.

And occasionally looked at the wide-eyed husband to utter a purr-like, “Can I keep her?”

Conversations ranged from blow-up dolls, to “fish tacos with chicks”, to…well…I don’t quite recall. No, I was never drunk, I just seriously can’t fathom what else was discussed at the moment. She’s probably even reading this. And I’ll probably be shot. With a hamster.

At least I’ll die giggling.

(5) I’m just going to have to accept the fact that I can’t hold my liquor anymore. Not a damn thing. Beer, wine, and – heaven forbid – the harder stuff. I can’t seem to stand it anymore. Aside from only being able to drive on one beer only, I can’t seem to stand the taste of it anymore. Well, ‘cept for beer. Good beer, anyway.

Examples:

I was the fifth wheel for a friend’s double-date birthday party. We ended up at Huber’s, and we noticed that absinthe was on the list of drinks. That perked our interests a bit. Granted, it was probably watered down compared to its heartier Hungarian cousin, but at least it would offer some idea as to the taste. I’d been curious about it for years.

As I informed several people since, the stuff tasted like the minted, pale arse of a stripper named Licorice. It was foul to the tongue-touch. I barely made it through two sips before I passed it down the table…which was then quickly imbibed by our designated driver.

Smart.

A couple of days later, I had a friend over for movies and sammiches; a female friend. She brought the wine, I made the sammiches. For the record, I make a mean sammich. Can’t cook worth a damn, but I make a great pot o’ tea and my sammiches are nigh on unmatched. Okay, that’s probably speaking a bit too glibly, yet that’s what I’ve been told. Moving on…

She brought over a $40 bottle of Barbera – a highly-potent, highly-acidic Italian red wine. I’d never tried the stuff, but I had a good history with Italian reds; Sangiovese being my absolute favorite. Beyond that, I’m more of a beer guy, and as we’ve all learned…not a lot of beer.

The movie we agreed one was Bottle Shock, an indie flick about the Napa Valley wineries in the 70s. Seemed fitting enough. We made it through that one and thought it “meh”. I was two glasses in at this point. She suggested I choose a second flick, and I delved into my old movie box.

Shaun of the Dead.

Perfect!

We made it about halfway through before a piercing headache stabbed me through the temples, followed by instant bodily fatigue. She asked if I was getting tired, and I said “no”. Then I felt…”the gurgles.” You know “the gurgles”. That feeling that all is not well in the Land of Bowel.

At 12:30, with the movie incomplete, I said we had to call it a night and sent her on her way. Nothing happened. And off I went to put my head in the toilet. Two glasses, that’s all. Didn’t even get a buzz off the stuff…just instant pukey-face.

Whee!

Conclusion

I haven’t been this active in awhile. Aside from my awesome vacation down south, things’d been a wee bit stressful. It was kind of a nice change of pace from the work-sleep-pray-for-instant-death grind of yestermonths. Pitfalls and pratfalls et al. The weeks ahead promise cupcakes, a second Coraline viewing (best movie EVER!), a night of town-painting, and hopefully more tea questing to come.

On occasion, one just needs a reminder that regardless of the near-misses, embarrassments, and frivolous activities…life really isn’t all that bad. And the parts that are bad, well, they’re the stuff comedy is made of. Laugh and others laugh with you.

You thought this would be a Valentine’s Day entry, didn’t you?

Well, I may be a tea-drinkin’, lightweight, bespectacled, dough-y, geeky manchild…

But I still have brass ones.

Er…okay…maybe copper.

Zinc?

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Friday, February 13th, 2009 Musings 1 Comment

“Brunch with Phantoms” – A Novel Synopsis

Flashback to around the same time last year, I was bit of a jaded prick to be around. The year prior had left me a bit of a bitter husk of a geek. The culprits were a series of people I’d associated with online that turned out to be less than they seemed. Much less. They didn’t even exist.

People had gone through the trouble of not only creating fake personae online, but creating complicated backstories to them. It was like an RPG, but some fuckhead forgot to tell me I was a player or provide me with the necessary d20s. What’s worse is that it isn’t the first time I ran across forgeries. Over the course of ten years, the tally was well with in the double-digits. 06-07 simply took the cake for Most Amount of Fake Fucks. At the end of those exhausting episodes, I came up with the perfect name for them.

Either I was just stupid or gullible, I couldn’t decide which. Worse off, I wasn’t entirely sure how I could justify the time spent courting these mythical maidens. A buddy of mine was equally as jaded, having encountered a couple himself. What could posses someone to do that? And how can one redeem themselves for getting involved with them. Then I had it.

I’d write about them!

In October of ’07, Brunch with Phantoms was concocted. The first time I came up with the idea, I test-drove the pitch with another female friend over whiskey-infused tea. (I don’t recommend it.) She seemed to like it. Then I spoke of it to others. It was different than my other ideas. It didn’t involve zombies, kung fu strippers, spaceships, or space fungi named Fred.

What did I do after that? I sat on it for a year. It gathered dust in the back of my mind as everyday life distracted me. Blogs gained a foothold over my writing output. Stories came a distant second. The ideas kept coming, but none really bit hard enough to get me moving. When I concocted an idea called Life to a Tea, the “phantom women” also demanded to be heard once more.

I listened to them.

Premise

Raymond Elkins plans a gathering with six women he has known for the past year. Most don’t know of each other. None know the reason for the meet-and-greet. He gathers all of them at his favorite Victorian-style tea place for brunch. A couple of them are the brunch-ish sort. The rest, not so much. Over the course of the noon hour – as the six trickle in – they relate stories of how they know the host and/or how they relate to each other. As they do, their stories unfold.

Main Characters

Raymond Elkins:

Age: 24

He is the protagonist, and basically like the author. A few differences, though, are prevalent. He’s not a sci-fi fan, for one. Truth be told, he’s more “average” than “geek”. He is 24 and a recent college graduate. Some have told him he’s a gifted poet, but he chooses to ignore this as a viable road of discovery. Personality wise, he’s reserved, overly cautious, cynical, and analytical. However, he has been praised for having a penchant for self-sacrifice, loyalty, and a dry sense of wit. Against his wishes, he’s also the proverbial “glue” to his offbeat circle of friends. He has two roommates, Clara Parks and Samir Ali Khan.

Samuel Mallory:

Age: 24

An old high school friend of Ray’s – a closet tech nerd who hides behind a “pretty boy” veneer. He comes across as smug, self-centered, and smarmy. In reality, once the douche-y facade subsides, he can be quite charismatic. He is currently in school, earning an Masters in Business. On the side, he runs a homespun travel agency website. Due to his longstanding friendship with the protagonist, both exhibit a sibling-like rivalry. Raymond, though, appears to be unaware of the competition. Oftentimes, it involves women.

Clara Parks:

Age: 23

Clara can best be described as a recovering wild child, but a very skeptical one. Where most of her ilk have their heads in the clouds, here nimbus is particularly dark. She is shrewd, calculating, but surprisingly aloof. She also has more walls up than a barge bulkhead. Once someone reaches her mushy interior persona, though, they’ll never leave. Her devotion to her friends is without equal. That especially goes for her best friend, a dopey pet St. Bernard named Egan. (Yes, after the Ghost Buster.) By night, she is a goth club cage dancer; by day, a nursing student. She has known Ray and Sam since high school, but didn’t consider them friends until after.

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: Sam and Clara are not based on anyone in particular. The characters were created roughly ten years ago for another set of stories, along with Ray. However, the roles they fill in this book are in substitution of actual people.)

The Phantom Women

Oasis Rousseau:

Age: 22

Oasis is an enigma. At 22, a college graduate, a teacher, a multiple homeowner, an accomplished cook, and an Internet radio phenom. If ever the title of “Renaissance Woman” applied to a single person, it would be her. She is the very embodiment of selflessness and self-sacrifice. Her sense of humor could best be described as slapstick and esoteric. While she may come across as innocent and naive, in reality she is more worldly than the average twentysomething-er. Within her tiny traditional frame, beats the heart of a liberal forward thinker. Oasis abhors her affluent upbringing and her strict father, yet adores all those close to her. If someone has a story to tell, she’ll shake off everyone else to hear how it ends. She’s also a bit of a clean-freak. She owns two beagles: Virgina and Woolf.

Origin: The girl that Oasis is based on I encountered on Myspace in January of ’06. For one outlandish reason or another, meetings got postponed by her. In April of that year, I suspected she was a fake. After some pleading and angry retorts from a “friend” of hers, I recanted and re-added her. It was on-and-off ever since. I finally stopped writing in April of ’08. However, recently, I received a birthday e-mail from her. I’m almost 75% certain she doesn’t exist. Even though her supposed hippie fiance is spread all over Google. Maybe that’s fake too. I’m not certain.

Madison “Maddie” Ayres:

Age: 25

The direct opposite of Oasis, Maddie is uncouth, ill-tempered, unsophisticated, and crass. Some might even say she’s simplistic. Despite her obvious chainsmoking outward presence, she can show a surprising amount of sharpness. How she and Oasis became best friends is a mystery. She has difficulty holding jobs, goes through men like toilet paper (she uses them), and has an odd obsession with sandwiches. She is also fiercely protective of Oasis, sometimes even taking on the role of bodyguard. Well, when she’s not passed out drunk.

Origin: Maddie is based directly on Oasis’s real right-hand woman. Believe it or not, I talked with this one more than I did Oasis, which is why I put the Oasis story from her point of view most of the time. I finally proved her lack of existence when I typed in her old e-mail address into Facebook, it came up with a “Lauren Chayne” from Salt Lake City or something. Not the person I was talking to.

Mireille Bristow:

Age: 24

Transplanted from Quebec, Canada, this half-Irish ex-pat stems from a rich upbringing. Shirking her duties as heir to a resort chain, she moved to the U.S. to pursue a career as a classical pianist. She eventually shrugged it off to study Law. When not immersed in legal theory, she updates a blog about unique beverages. To the untrained eye, she appears docile, polite, and amiable. Only the last two are true. Behind the primped smile lies a feisty female, a patient one at that. Her temper may be a slow burn, but when it shows, it leaves a mark.

Origin: Mireille is actually a fusion of four different phantom women – an 18-year-old French woman I encountered back in ’96 (but was probably, in reality, much younger), a 20-year-old hypochondriac I e-met in ’98, a Canadian I “iCourted” in ’07, and a beer fan I chatted with in ’07 as well. I never knew the four of them well enough to make them separate characters, so I stuck ’em in a blender set on puree. And, thus, Mireille was conceived.

Pamela Laird:

Age: 23

Pam came from a close-knit family, one that chose to remain distinctly urban and uptown. When she was old enough, she rebelled from this; choosing a life of solitude in the country. Okay, not exactly country. She still remained within spitting distance of the city, but just shy of the urban growth boundary. She took her trust fund and purchased a small cottage on an acre plot of land, content to remain a hermit. Part of this maneuver was to stave off the hustle and hassle of a fast-paced lifestyle, the other was her health. Her lungs were weak; pulmonary fibrosis. Stress, anxiety, pollution, cigarette smoke; all prevented her from maintaining a normal social life. She puts on a strong front – that of a solitary figure – but she yearns for more. Her relationships are often one-sided, investing herself more than her partner. She is a freelance web designer and telecommutes.

Origin: This one pissed me off the most. She actually surfaced the year after I met the Oasis-basis (hey, that rhymed!). Over the course of a few months, she cozeyed up to my real friends in an attempt to gain favor. Reasons she used for not meeting up ranged from sick family members to incurable diseases. Finally, after a brief hiatus, I said I would go down to visit her…in Klamath Falls. The address she gave me was to a trailer park/golf course, and she left a voicemail (voice disguised to act like a friend) saying she wouldn’t be making it. $200 trip!

Oh well, I got to see Crater Lake out of the deal.

Friday Spencer:

Age: 23

Born Freya Spencer, this stubborn redhead decided to change her name as an April Fools Day prank on her parents. Unfortunately for her, the name stuck. As a young girl, she was a bit of a tomboy; unrefined and underdeveloped. She didn’t come into her own physically until late in high school, by then, though, she was too far gone. Like “one of the boys”, she dated women. It wasn’t until college that she decided that men weren’t half-bad either. She also couldn’t decide which she preferred. As a result, her relationships were often shallow and open. She partied hard, but kept to herself. Wine flowed freely, but she never freed herself completely. Her true love was culinary pursuits, and she sharpened her skills (and knives) to become a highly-honed poissonier. She found her soulmate in an exact opposite, a woman with her “free love” attitude…but without the braggart. Friday is unorganized, boyish, prone to carousal (of either genders), but capable of unparalleled focus and determination.

Candice Fane:

Age: 26

Friday’s live-in “girlfriend”, a wedding planner by trade. While she wears the moniker of a practicing bisexual, her preference lies with women. She identifies herself as a “lipstick”. Where Friday is loud and rambunctious, Candice is calm and collected. She is also the one who cleans up after Friday’s messes, both within and without the household. Overnight prison fees, notwithstanding. She tolerates their open relationship, but hopes that Friday will come around to a more exclusive longterm arrangement. Occasionally, out of spite, she will find her way into the arms of another woman, but with strict guidelines and timetables – dating by dayplanner. Only Friday is exempt from her Rolodex relationship approach.

Origin: Both Friday and Candice have the same origin story. I encountered Friday in August of ’07. It was a random Myspace add. She seemed fun, cute, and quirky. My favorite! She was also really named after a day of the week, hence the moniker. I was introduced to her “girlfriend” around the same time, as well as friends of friends. One of them was a Canadian (1/4th the basis for Mireille). About three months in, I got an e-mail from the real Canadian stating the one I had on my friends list was a fake. It turns out she was a popular blogger in Vancouver. The day the Canadian’s profile vanished, so did Friday, Candice, and the rest of their friends.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across the Candice and Friday templates again. Their stories were slightly different, their star signs were changed, and so were their ages. Now they’re from Washington, DC.

Yeesh.

Tacey Jetters:

Age: 22

A recent graduate from nursing school, Tacey quickly landed a lucrative RN placement at a skilled neonatal facility. She is bright, often cheerful, and demonstrates a remarkable work ethic. Behind the staunch professionalism lies a dark vulnerability, however. A history of abuse looms in the shadows of her psyche. Also present is a family history of paranoid schizophrenia. She gravitates towards domineering and abusive men since that’s all she’s known. If she enters a relationship where none of these traits are present, she subconsciously invents a reason. The delusion of an abusive ex hunting her sometimes manifests. She is in denial of her fragile mental state.

Origin: I never dealt with this one personally. That “honor” goes to a friend of mine, which is why she’s a Sam story. The excuse she used for skirting a meet-up with said friend was an abusive ex. That and later pics she forwarded to him were shady at best. Horrible photoshopping. Using a bit of tracking software, my friend was able to determine that said woman was actually a 35-year-old mother of two in Estecada, OR.

Basic Outline

Prelude: “The Dual-ing Ms”

Setting: Victorian-style Tearoom

– featuring Maddie and Mireille

First Shade: “Human Soup”

Subject: A dinner party thrown by Friday and Candice

– featuring Ray, Sam, Mireille, Tacey, Clara, Friday and Candice.

Interlude: “The String-Along Quartet”

Setting: Tearoom

– featuring Mireille, Maddie…and the arrival of Candice and Friday

Second Shade: “A Woman Scorned”

Subject: Sam and Tacey’s relationship

– featuring Sam, Tacey, Clara and Ray

Interlude: “Five Cards, No Stud”

Setting: Tearoom

– featuring Mireille, Maddie, Friday, Candice…and now Pamela

Third Shade: “Turn a Cheek, Kiss the Other”

Subject: Pamela and Ray’s relationship

– featuring Ray, Pamela, Sam and Clara

Interlude: “Six Degrees of Celebration”

Setting: Tearoom

– featuring Mireille, Maddie, Friday, Candice, Pamela…and finally Oasis

Last Shade: “The Delivered One”

Subject: Ray and Oasis’s relationship

– featuring Ray, Oasis, and Maddie

Postlude: “As You Will It”

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Saturday, November 29th, 2008 Prose No Comments

An Ode to Geek Chicks

AN ODE TO GEEK CHICKS

There exists in rare doses,
Those cut from an ornate fabric so priceless,
That to utter the name or title
Would barely cover the grace.

Women etched from the finest marble
Who know what it means to speak
In a language invented
From the mind of a novelist.

Feminine figures fused with scholars
Who drink from a chalice reserved
For those oft considered
Outcasts of the norm.

Girls that change roles,
Estrogen in combat,
To the mind’s eye
Nothing dares meet its grandeur.

One who can outwit
A fictional creature
With nary a sweat as the
Die is cast in their favor.

Maidens of the stars
Who dream in novas
As vessels take flight
For parts unknown in the vast.

Virtual combatants swathed
In clothes reserved for men,
Spectacles donned
And opposable thumbs ready.

Oh, so rare a breed
To the public eye, yet
Existing and thriving
Beyond me…still shrouded.

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Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 Poetry No Comments

Illusory

ILLUSORY

Irradiant,
Upon the shoreline
Before the rise
Of the sun.
Who goes there?

Incandescent,
Upon the streets
Before the noon glow
Of the sky.
Whom do I see?

Iridescent,
Upon reeds of grass
Before the afternoon fade
Of overcast clouds.
Who is she?

Illuminated,
Upon the foliage
Before stars take reign
Of the darkened shroud.
Why is she here?

Illusory,
Upon the mind
Before sleep grabs hold
Of the weary-eyed man.
Was she even real?

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Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 Poetry 1 Comment

Gynophobia

GYNOPHOBIA

Drenched in sweat
As she approaches.
A gulp…
A yelp…
A whimper…

Silence exits the maw
As she twirls hair strands.
A blink…
A twitch…
A mumble…

Words form in the mind,
But no verbal palate constructs.
A shake…
A tick…
A quiver…

She gives the motion for
“Come hither” with one lithe finger.
A trip…
A step…
A stumble…

I make a B-line for the bathroom
Head down, eyes ahead, pace quick.
A sigh…
A curse…
A what-if…

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Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 Poetry No Comments

Random Access No. 4: “Pants!”

Click to Enlarge

Artwork Provided by Jason Norman

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Thursday, November 13th, 2008 Webcomics No Comments

I work for tea money.

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