Story Time

The thing is, writing a novel is hard.  Like, really hard.  I’ve written 5.  Not 5 good ones,  mind you.  Good ones must be really, super hard to write.  When I finished my last one, I decided to go ahead and take a couple of creative writing classes, and now I know just how not good my last novel was.  So that feels nice.

One day, the lovely Mrs. Grumpy says to me, “You should write stuff for kids.”  So the other day, after I decided to take a break from trying to gather up the emotional strength needed to start a complete re-write of my last book, I thought I’d give it a go, this writing for kids thing.  Below is what I came up with.  Enjoy.


Squirrel Takes The Lead

Possum ran over and grabbed Squirrel’s hopscotch stone, which had just landed in the “10” square, and threw it over the hedge.

“Stop it, Possum!”  Squirrel said.

But Possum didn’t stop.  He kicked Rabbit’s stone, and Raccoon’s too.

“Possum!” they all cried.  But Possum just smiled.

So Squirrel and Rabbit and Raccoon ran off.  Possum was mean, but they were fast.

They ran to their favorite tree and stopped to rest.  Rabbit started singing her favorite song.  Raccoon and Squirrel joined in.

A few minutes later, Possum came down the path and started singing too.  But he sang a different song, and he sang it way too loudly!

“Stop it, Possum!”  Squirrel said.

But Possum sang even louder.

“Possum!” Rabbit and Raccoon cried out together.

But Possum just smiled.

So Rabbit and Raccoon and Squirrel ran off again, this time to the creek.  They dove in and laughed.  The grabbed great scoopfuls of mud and caked it on themselves, making sure they didn’t miss a spot.

Just then, Possum came out from behind a tree.  “Whatcha doin’?” he asked.

“Playing ‘Predator,'” Squirrel said.

“It’s my favorite movie!” Raccoon said.

Possum stuck out his tongue and blew a raspberry.  “‘Commando’ was better,” he said.

“Possum!” screamed Rabbit and Squirrel and Raccoon.  And they ran off again.

Possum caught up to them as they waited to cross the road that divided the woods.

“Even ‘Kindergarten Cop’ was better than ‘Predator,'” he said with a smile.

Rabbit and Squirrel and Raccoon looked both ways, and when it was clear, they started across the road.  This time, Possum kept up.

“Heck,” Possum said.  “At least play ‘Terminator!'”

Squirrel turned suddenly and threw herself at Possum, grabbing him by the throat.  “Shut up, you punk-ass Possum!” she screamed.

Possum did as possums do.  He froze in his tracks and fell over in the middle of the road.

“I’m going to play,” Squirrel said to Rabbit and Raccoon.

A truck rumbled around the bend in the road.

“We can’t just leave him,” Raccoon said, pointing at the truck heading toward them.

“I’m going to play,” Squirrel said coldly.

And that is exactly what she did.

The End

Not too shabby for a first try, don’t you think?

Toy Story 4

We open on the interior of a house.  Party noises emanate from the distance.  Camera pans from the empty family room up the stairs.  Party noise grows louder.  Camera rounds the corner into a child’s room where toys are dancing and drinking and eating and begins to center on two toys talking in the corner, a GI Joe, drunk, and a chubby, androgynous, vaguely humanoid fur-covered creature.

GI Joe: “Man, this is the life!”  Throws arm around furry creature.  “I could get used to this!”

Furry creature nods with a slight frown.  Camera pans up to a framed photo on the dresser.  It shows a family of 3 including a young boy, age 4.  Camera zooms in on boy then the screen begins to shake.  Camera pans out.  The boy is flanked by his parents, strapped into an airplane seat, the plane is bucking wildly and screams fill the cabin.

Fade to black.

Fade in.  A woman is tearfully tossing toys into a cardboard box.  Camera pans out and we see it is the little boys room.  Woman picks box up and leaves, turning the light out as she goes.  The furry creature is hidden in the top of the closet with the GI Joe and a few other toys.

Furry creature:  “Oh, yeah.  I could get REAL used to this.”  Furry creature smiles an evil smile.

The furry creature then turns to the other toys and praises himself for being smart enough to hide from the woman.  Now they are free, he proclaims, no more playing dead when humans come around.  And then he realizes that’s the secret to everything.  No more people means freedom for all toys.  His gospel slowly spreads throughout the toy community and that’s how it all starts.

We see toys around the globe slipping rat poison in their people’s coffee and cutting brake lines, setting the skateboard at the top of the stairs and spreading vaseline on the tub floor.  Clips from news programs are talking about the sharp uptick in accidental deaths around the globe.

Soon, a small band of toys try to stem the tide and save their people, but the promise of freedom proves too much for most toys and the rebellion is quickly squashed.  Cut to the furry creature overseeing the fiery destruction of a mob of these “traitors” as he calls him.

Switch to Woody and the gang.  They’ve been returned to Andy’s mom after the mysterious death of the little girl Andy gave them to at the end of Toy Story 3.  They are discussing in hushed tones their suspicions of the other toys and how they murdered the girl.  They are glad to be out of the house and amongst themselves, the only toys they know they cantrust.  Word of how traitors were being dealt with had circulated quickly.

Andy’s mom, flush with worry about her son, now a senior in college, Skypes him early one morning to check on him.  Woody happens to be in the room when she does.  The computer screens snaps on and we see Andy, laying in bed, hair tussled and messy, a thin line of dried drool staining his cheek and forming a discolored ring on his pillowcase.  The angle suggests he left his laptop on his bedside stand.  Andy isn’t moving.  His mom calls his name, gently at first, then with increasing urgency, until finally shouting, “Andy!”

Andy sits up in shock, exposing the naked girl laying in bed beside him, a tattoo of a water lily adorning her back.  She turns over and sees Andy’s mom, pulls the sheets up hurriedly and rolls out of bed.

“Hold on, Mom!” Andy yells from out of frame.  The girl frantically gets dressed, grabs her backpack and flings it over her shoulder as she runs out of the room.  When she does, a purple blur falls out and onto Andy’s bed.  After a few minutes of yelling at an obviously hungover Andy, his mom finally says she “can’t do this right now” and clicks “End.”  Just as she does, Woody sees that the purple blur is the same kind of furry toy as the ringleader.  As the screen closes, an evil grin crosses its face.

Woody alerts the other toys to the danger Andy is in and they set off to rescue him.  They have a long way to go and between hiding from humans and roving gangs of bad toys, the going is slow.  At one point they are cornered by a large mob of toys, and in order to prove they aren’t part of the resistance, they have to take part in the murder of a family of five.  The mob blocks all the exits from the family’s house, and as he flicks the Zippo lighter to life, Buzz says, “For Andy” and holds the flame to the gasoline soaked curtains.  The dinosaur sheds and tear, hiding his face from the other toys.

While all this is going on, dissension appears amongst the bad toys when the electronic toys realize they need humans to manufacture batteries and replacement parts.  They bring their concerns to the furry creature but he dismisses them.  Soon, the electronic toys align themselves against the the bad toys and a civil war erupts.

This is the distraction Woody and the gang need to complete their journey.  They arrive at Andy’s apartment in time to see the purple furball trying to start an electrical fire but rubbing to ends of a frayed extension cord together.  The sparks are landing on Andy’s pile of dirty laundry.  The toys search for an entrance into the apartment and find that in his latest drunken stupor, Andy has left a window open.  It was the one he had thrown up out of earlier.  Mr. Potato Head discovers this by slipping in the vomit.  The toys make their way in and gang tackle the furball before he can start the fire.

“You might stop me, but you can’t stop us all!” he yells.

“Maybe,” Woody says, “but right now, you’re the only one here.”

And with that, the gang descends upon him.  The camera pans back and the furball begins to scream, Woody and the gang move in, ripping the furball to shreds, chunks of purple and stuffing fly about the room, and slowly, ever so slowly, the screams give way to silence.  The final scene is slinky dog’s face, a tuft of purple fur still hanging from his teeth and the camera zooms in on his cold, emotionless eyes.

Bust A Move

Listen up, Clydes, I gotta real nice tale for ya, hear.   I spent too much time trying to give the dames what they say they want, and I’m here to tell, they don’t know what they want.  None of ’em.  They’ll tell ya one thing, and soon as ya give it to ’em, Boom! they’re out!  While I’m jumpin’ and pawin’ like a puppy going after a chew toy, she’s trying to find the cat who just pissed on the bed.

I get a call from Chicago Tim,.  He’s not from Chicago.  We call him that on account of how much time he spends with Big Lou’s wife.  Big Lou IS from Chicago and we all reckon that’ll be where Tim’s body gets found if Big Lou catches wind.  Seems ole Tim has whipped up a shindig at some dive down by the docks.  What the Hell, it’s not like I got clients beating down the door to give me money.  Bill collector’s the only man comes ’round anymore.  I get down there toot sweet and the place is just lousy with hoochie-coochers.  One walks by me with a set of gams on her that’d make Chuck Lindbergh park that plane of his for good just to get a peek.  Which is what I’m doing.  But I don’t even make it up to her knees before she gets scooped up by some GI home on leave.

The next day I get called in to see the big cheese.  I’m not worried, not this time.   He owes me for not ratting him out to his wife when she hired me to tail him.  She suspected he was out on the town with that floozy from Mac’s Tavern.  She was right, but I ain’t got no death wish.  So now he throws me a bone whenever his old lady goes to visit a friend in Chicago.  Thankfully, it’s not the same bone he throws the floozy.  This bone’s an open bar at his latest soiree.  I like that bone.  Six drinks in and I decide a bite is in order.  Eight drinks in and I’m on my third trip down the buffet line.  The band starts up and people are swinging.  Not me, I’ve eaten enough grub to make my belt re-think its career choice.  It’s just then I see a dame making her way across the room, as blonde as a field of sunflowers and twice as pretty.  Something told me if went traipsing through that field, I’d find plenty of bees waiting to sting me.  She pulls up next to me and asks if I’d like to cut a rug.  Before I can answer, she takes the plate out of my hand.  “Come on, fatso,” she says as she pats my overstuffed belly

I’ve tracked down a hundred a dames in my time.  I’ve never failed to find one for a client.  For me, though, that’s not in the cards.  My last bender had me telling Chicago Tim maybe I should just ship out, find a mountain top like one of them Dolly Llamas.  Tim slurred something about a light at the end of the tunnel.  Least, I think that’s what he said.  With my luck, that light’s attached to something big, ugly and belching.  Like the dame sitting by me at Mac’s.  I should go around to Tim’s, haven’t seen him since before the soiree at Big Lou’s.

I figure I better get out of here before the steam engine next to me starts looking good.  The theater down the street has a show about to start.  Might be a gas, and the darkness will be good for the hangover that’s creeping up on me like cheetah stalking an injured gazelle at the watering hole.  I plop down at the end of row like a sack of flour dropped by a baker at the end of a long day.  That’s when I see her.  She was six feet of gorgeous and wore that yellow dress like an over-filled sausage plumping in all the right places.  Kosher or not, I think the rabbi would understand.  She says, “Hello, come sit next to me you fine fellow.”  And up I go.  I’ll look for Chicago Tim tomorrow.  If I had to guess, he’d be just as dead then as he is right now.

This whole berg is crawling with dames, for what that’s worth.  Every Joe on every corner thinkin’ they’re Morey Amsterdam, as if that’s gonna get ’em somewhere.  And for everyone one of them, there’s a dozen Betty’s turning ’em away.  Ain’t none of them lookin’ to walk on a date.  No money, no car, living off Uncle Sam’s pension from the war.  That’s no way to pull a bird.  Not these birds, anyway.  They’re all searching for a way out of here, waiting for opportunity to start knocking, and opportunity damn sure don’t look like any of these bums.  Maybe ya used to be something, before you shipped back from the Philippines, where you could stroll own the beach with a C-note and dames’d be on you like dung beetles on a fresh pile.

The phone call was from Harry Blackwell.  Did two tours in the South Pacific with that crazy bastard.  His brother’s getting hitched up and I’m invited.  Anything to get out of Dodge for a few.  Days here drag by like a cockroach pulling a ham biscuit across the diner floor. 

I couldn’t be more out of place in this monkey suit.  You can take the neanderthal out of the saber-toothed tiger skin, but he’s still a neanderthal.  The bride walks past, nine kinds of brunette trouble, with legs that go all the way up, just like I like ’em, swishing down the aisle like a koi making its away across the pond.  But this fish is already on the hook, and tonight, she’ll be in someone else’s frying pan.  I shake the thought and blink the dame out of my head.  A bridesmaid, red, long, and dangerous, gives me the eye.  I smile back.  I’m not stupid.  At the reception, she slinks up to me.  I like it when they slink.  I ask if she wants to dance, she smiles and drops her room key in my drink before slinking back off.  The drink’s ruined, but this time, I don’t mind so much.

I could move here, I think on the elevator ride.  Nothin’ keeping me back home.  ‘Cept maybe Tim.   And there’s no way he survived that last trip to Chicago with the big cheese’s lady.
This here’s a jam for all the fellas
Tryin to do what those ladies tell us
Get shot down cause ya over-zealous
Play hard to get females get jealous

Okay smarty go to a party

Girls are scantily clad and showin body
A chick walks by you wish you could sex her But you’re standing on the wall like you was Poindexter

Next day’s function high class luncheon

Food is served, and you’re stone-cold munchin
Music comes on people start to dance

But then you ate so much you nearly split your pants

A girl starts walking guys start gawking
Sits down next to you and starts talking
Says she wants to dance cause she likes to groove

So come on fatso and just bust a move

You’re on a mission and your wishin
Someone could cure your lonely condition Lookin for love in all the wrong places
No fine girls just ugly faces

Some frustration first inclination Is to become a monk and leave the situation
But every dark tunnel has a light of hope

So don’t hang yourself with a celibate rope

Your movie’s showin, so you’re goin

Could care less about the five you’re blowin Theater gets dark just to start the show
Then ya spot a fine woman sittin in your row
She’s dressed in yellow, she says “Hello, Come sit next to me you fine fellow.”
You run over there without a second to lose
And what comes next hey bust a move

In this city ladies look pretty

Guys tell jokes so they can seem witty

Tell a funny joke just to get some play

Then you try to make a move and she says, “No way” Girls are fakin goodness sakin They want a man who brings home the bacon Got no money and you got no car
Then you got no woman and there you are
Some girls are sadistic, materialistic
Lookin for a man makes them opportunistic They’re lyin on a beach perpetrating a tan
So that a brother with the money can be their man
So on the beach you’re strollin real high rollin
Everything you have is yours and not stolen
A girl runs up with somethin to prove

So don’t just stand there bust a move

Your best friend Harry has a brother Larry

In five days from now he’s gonna marry

He’s hopin you can make it there if you can Cause in the ceremony you’ll be the best man

You say neat-o, check your libido

And roll to the church in your new tuxedo

The bride walks down just to start the wedding
And there’s one more girl you won’t be getting
So you start thinkin then you start blinking
A bridesmaid looks and thinks that you’re winking

She thinks your kinda cute so she winks back And now your feelin really fine cause the girl is stacked
Reception’s jumpin bass is pumpin
Look at the girl and your heart starts thumpin
Says she wants to dance to a different groove Now you know what to do G bust a move

Otter Toast Fan Bouncing Trap

Same agent had another flash fiction contest, this one using Otter, Toast, Fan, Bouncing, and Trap.  Didn’t win this one either.  If I could give one piece of advice to teenage me, or to any teenage boy who’s afraid to ask a girl out because of the fear of rejection, I’d say to write a story, then try to get it published.  You get over rejection real fucking quick.

“See you this afternoon,” Otter’s wife said.

“Good bye, dear,” Otter replied. “I love you.”

Down the path she went, her tail bouncing behind her. It was no coincidence the bounce had returned right after Beaver moved in upstream. Otter was not a fan of Beaver.

Maybe her love wasn’t real. Maybe it never had been. But Otter’s was. And so was his trap. Soon they’ll be caught in the rubble of Beaver’s dam, waiting for the flames to take them. In ten minutes, they’ll both be toast.

Oooh, Otter thought, toast sounds delicious!

Punch, scar, beach, send, Ken

A literary agent ran a flash fiction contest on her blog.  Deal was, write a story under 100 words using punch, scar, beach, send, and Ken.  Below is my entry.  I didn’t win, but you know all these anonymous, online, write-a story-in-the-comments-section-of-a-blog contests are all just popularity contests.

Anyway, enjoy!

Just one punch. One brutal, staggering punch. The kind that comes from a deep, dark fury. Enough to send that bastard Ken stumbling down the beach. He had it coming, though, didn’t he? A just reward for the emotional scar Jimmy now carried from watching Ken grope his mother. No one treats Jimmy’s mom like that.

You are so fucking lucky, Jimmy thought, that I’m only 2 years old.

Soon, Ken. Soon.