My "New Weird" Story

On Jeff Vandermeer's blog, Ecstatic Days, he's put up a "New Weird" contest in honor of the "New Weird" anthology that he and his wife, Ann, edited and has just been released. The winner gets a boatload of swag. This is my entry:

One thing you notice about Stretch is his beard. It’s huge. Alan Moore huge. Hagrid huge. I’d go so far as to say Mad Monk huge. The first thing you notice about Stretch is his straining against the brick column near the reference desk. The third thing you notice about him is that he is homeless. I work at the downtown library in a fairly metropolitan, Southern city. And like a lot of centralized libraries across the country, we have a fairly sizable homeless population. They vary in degrees of strangeness from mildly strange—talking to oneself—to dangerously so—one pulled a knife on a co-worker once. Stretch was in the mildly strange category; a harmless, homeless man who occasionally braced himself against a wall.

He didn’t just jump up and start pushing on it, either, he had a ritual. He would stand before the support column, about the middle of the building, and stare up at it about halfway, then after a few seconds, he would thrust his hands forward and lean against the column with all his might. Then a few seconds later, he’d stop, relax and go back to the chair he’d been sitting in or leave the building entirely. This didn’t happen every day or even at the same time of day, but it did happen frequently enough that we all noticed. Most of my co-workers just took it in stride and considered him another casualty of a de-regulated mental health industry. I, on the other hand, just knew there had to be some better explanation for his behavior than that.

One evening my wife and I were in what is termed the “Old City,” a gentrified part of downtown where many new bars and restaurants opened, replacing former industrial and dilapidated retail businesses. It was spring and we were sitting on the “patio” of a chicken wings joint, polishing off a plate of sweet and spicy, when I saw him. He was standing in front of a lamppost across the street from us, just staring at it. Then he leaned into it like he did the support column at work. I tapped my wife and pointed at him; she’d heard the stories. I told her that I was going to find out why he did that and, over my wife’s protests, I hopped over the wrought-iron fence around the patio and strode toward him. He just finished when I got up to him.

“Excuse me, “ I said. He started then turned his shaggy self toward me. “I don’t mean to bother you, but I’ve seen you at the library doing what you just did to that lamppost and I’ve got to ask: why?”

He looked at me for a few moments then cleared his throat.

“Sometimes I see things about to fall, so I try to stop them.” And then he walked away. I told my wife that and she just called him crazy. Maybe he was, but then again maybe he was a seer or a prophet? To see something falling that isn’t, one might have to be a little crazy. All I know is that our 45 year-old building hasn’t crushed us, yet.


I do miss good ole K.V.

I am:
Kurt Vonnegut
For years, this unique creator of absurd and haunting tales denied that he had anything to do with science fiction.

Which science fiction writer are you?

This April will mark one year since the world lost the wonderful and acerbic imagination and presence that was Kurt Vonnegut. K.V., along with Harlan Ellison and Ray Bradbury, got me through the rough times that are known as high school. Were it not for their writings, I would've taken high school much more seriously than is healthy and may have ended up either as a suicide statistic or the Ur-Columbine shooter, not a good thing. Also the three of them are to blame for making me want to be a writer as well, (there I said it, I want to be a...writer. Oh, lawd hep me!)

My favorites of K.V's works have to be Breakfast of Champions, (the very first one I ever read and you always remember your first), Cat's Cradle, and Welcome to the Monkey House. Those are at least the ones I go back to time and again, but I have to say you really can't go wrong with anything the man wrote. So it goes.


Read for January

To start, I'd like to begin by listing what I've read during the past month. January saw really only one thing I began and finished in that month: The Iron Dragon's Daughter by Michael Swanwick. I've been a fan of Mr. Swanwick's for some time now, especially his short stories, but have never gotten around to this 1993 "Hard Fantasy" novel of his. Turns out, January saw the publication of the sort-of sequel to it, The Dragons of Babel and Swanwick was going to be appearing at Chattacon, in Chattanooga, later in the month, so now seemed like as good a time as any to read what turned out to be a mind-blowing book. Check out the above links to learn more.


This is my book/writing blog. My friend, the YA writer Alan Gratz, once said that he was not a slow reader, but a deliberate one. I liked that and am borrowing the phrase from him without his permission, but with credit where credit's due.

And like reading, my posting will be deliberate as well, that is to say I'll do it when I feel like it.