Monday, May 24, 2010

ruby, part 3

to begin at the beginning click here

to be continued

Saturday, May 22, 2010

hap dixon in the case of the dark tunnel: chapter 1, a stout chum

by jason gusmann

visuals by rhoda penmarq

Hap Dixon in the Case of the Dark Tunnel

Chapter One: A Stout Chum

Her legs are thin and her dress is black; the picture above the sofa's cracked.

Mom is no longer in the picture in the brown wooden frame.

No blonde hair, no blue dress, no devil mask.

There is only blue sky and a russet tree.

Aunt Cindy sits on the left side of the green sofa in her short black dress.

She has short black hair and long white legs.

Her long white legs are crossed at the knee.

Her suspended white right foot shakes incessantly.

The black high-heeled shoe that dangles from it shakes along.

Bodie the dog sits on the orange rug near the green sofa watching Aunt Cindy's white right foot and her black high-heeled shoe.

Aunt Cindy watches Bodie and ashes her long white cigarette on the orange rug.

Bodie watches the ash descend, then turns his attention back to Aunt Cindy’s shaking foot and shoe.

Dad sits on the right side of the green sofa eating a TV dinner which sits upon a tan TV tray.

Hap Dixon sits between Dad and Aunt Cindy eating a TV dinner which sits upon another tan TV tray.

Dad and Hap Dixon watch the television in the big brown console.

The television is off.

What’s on for tonight, Hap? asks Dad.

Hap swallows what he is chewing.

I think I’ll probably just do some homework.

Aunt Cindy sighs.

Bodie growls at Aunt Cindy.

Maybe I’ll take Bodie for a walk first, though, Hap adds.

Sounds good, Hap! says Dad as he pushes his TV tray back and gets up.

Hap follows Dad, glancing back at Aunt Cindy.

I’ll just grab a light fall jacket first.

Aunt Cindy glares at Hap, again ashes her long white cigarette onto the orange rug.

Bodie follows Hap up the staircase behind the wall which abuts the big, brown console television.

Hap walks into his bedroom, which is sizable for a boy his age.

Hap sits on his bed, which rests against a sky blue wall with an oxblood red pennant on it that reads BASEBALL.

Hap’s bed is neatly made.

Hap sighs, Bodie, I just don’t know what to make of Aunt Cindy sometimes.

Bodie whines.

I know you don’t like her either, boy, but we’ve just got to make the best of it.

Hap grabs his fall jacket and springs to his feet.

Now, let’s go for that walk, boy!

Bodie wags his tail and barks happily.

Hap bounds down the stairs and Bodie follows.

Dad pauses lighting his pipe to say to Hap, Why don’t you stop by Yardley Shaw’s while you are out?

Hap replies, Sure, Dad, that’s a swell idea!

Dad wags his finger at them as they leave the house, Don’t be too late, though, Hap - it’s already getting dark.

We won’t, Dad! Hap calls over his shoulder.

Dad waves to Hap and Bodie while Aunt Cindy, still seated on the green sofa, takes off her black high-heeled shoes.

Hap and Bodie half-run, half-walk down the block until they see a stout young man in a navy blue polo shirt and plaid shorts waving to them from his front yard.

Hi Yardley! calls Hap.

Hello chum! calls Yardley Shaw back to Hap.

And there’s my Bodie dog!

Bodie quickly pads up to Yardley and jumps up on him, nearly knocking the stout fellow over.

Whoa there, Bodie!

Yardley reaches into his plaid shorts and pulls out a sweet for Bodie.

So what are you pals doing, painting the town red?

Hap bashfully kicks the ground.

No, Yardley, we’re just going for a walk.

Suddenly, Hap snaps his fingers.

Hey! I just had a swell idea.

Do you think it’s dark enough to use your telescope?

Yardley squints into the deepening dusk.

I think it just might be, Hap!

Oh boy! exclaims Hap.

This will be fun!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

the clown, chapter 3: the mill burned down

to begin at the beginning, click here

words by genghis and rhoda

pictures by rhoda

"she's a reporter."
billy freed squinted at geraldine through his dark glasses. "from the local paper?" he lowered the tent flap and came into the tent.
"right now i'm freelancing," geraldine told him. "trying to sell to places like the all-world journal. but i was with the minsk times before."
billy made a show of scratching his head.

"minsk - where's that? somehere between peoria and cairo. illinois?"
"no, it's in -"
"ha ha, we know where it is, don't we joe? listen, there's no friendlier people than the belarussians anyhere, except maybe in mongolia, wouldn't you say?"

"i'd have to agree," said uncle joe. "but don't forget the people in uruguay, especialy way in the backlands."
"i see you gentlemen are true citizens of the world," geraldine noted politely.
"that's right. say, did you ever go too mimi's in minsk? i remember they had great pelmeni and chips. and the buraki was pretty good, too."

"oh yes, i used to go to mimi's all the time."

"what was the name of that accordion player there? the one with the cork leg?"
"mike, of course! so he's still there?"
"last i heard, he was carrying on."

"great. well, what exactly can we do for you?"
"she's doing a story on the clown," uncle joe told billy.
"the clown!"

geraldine had the impression billy wasn't as surprised as he pretended to be, but smiled politely. "i'm attempting to do a story on the clown," she told him.
"and you've been filling her in?" billy asked uncle joe.
joe shrugged. "as best i can."
"did you tell her about the manuscript?"

"no, i forgot all about it. i thought you gave it to that detective in liberia."

"no, he mailed it back to me. i'm pretty sure i still have it somewhere."
"what is it?" geraldine asked. "some kind of confession?"
"no, it looks like stuff he just made up. a made up story, you know?

but this detective in monrovia, he thought it contained psychographic clues or some such."
"you mean it's a novel?"

"it's a made up story."
"well, can i look at it?"
"you can have it, if i can find it."

geraldine had planned to drive the rental car back to heidi's place in the north woods, but decided to turn it in and take the bus instead, so that she could read the clown's manuscript on the way.
the man at the ticket window at the bus station scratched his head when she told him her destination.

"we don't have a bus that goes that far." he looked at geraldine suspiciously.

"not too many folks want to go that far north."
"well, then, just give me a ticket for as far north as you go."
"and then what?"
"well, " geraldine answered patiently. "i will either get a rental car or call someone to pick me up. how much is the ticket, please?"

"i'm pretty sure there ain't no rental car place up there. couldn't swear to it, but i don't think there is. why not just rent a car here, the place is just next door."
"i know, i just came from there."
"pretty sure there's no rental car up there."

"then i'll have to call for a ride, won't i?"
"get there pretty late."
"my friend won't mind if i wake her up."
"must be nice to have a friend like that."
"yes, it is."

"if i woke my wife up to pick me up in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, she'd like to blow my head off with a shotgun."

geraldine took her wallet out of her handbag. as she did, the clown's yellow manuscript popped a little way out of the bag.
"you know, cell phones don't always work so good up there."
"i've never had any problems. how much is the ticket, please?"

"three hundred and forty-one dollars and twenty-nine cents including tax."
"paying cash, huh? are you a criminal?"

"hey, you're not very friendly, are you? with the one word answers."
"i'm sorry. i've had a long day, i'm a little tired."
"hey, the circus is in town, you know. if you need to relax and unwind, you could do worse than go see the circus."
"i've just come from there."
"pretty good, huh?'

"yes, it was. an excellent balance of authenticity and professionalism, i thought."

the ticket seller's eye fell on the clown's manuscript sticking out of geraldine's bag.
"what's that you got there? that looks like some pretty old paper."
"yes, i suppose it might be." geraldine stuck the manuscript down more securely into the bag.

"i haven't seen paper that old since i don't know when.

the mill burned down a long time ago that made that paper." the man handed geraldine her ticket.
"thank you. when is the bus due?"
"about an hour. it ain't always on time, though. don't get all in an uproar if it ain't on time."
"i won't."
"it's never early though. that's one thing you got to say for it, it's never early."

geraldine got a can of diet mountain dew and a bag of fritos out of the machines. she settled down in the corner of the bus station to read the manuscript of the clown's made up story.

the story was on lined yellow paper, mostly in various colored pens (or pencils?) but with some typing. some of the pages had writing or typing on both sides. a few sentences and paragraphs had been blacked out or typed over with x's.

death of a clown.

happy the clown was dying. in the rain by the side of the road lit a cigarette. joe wayne in a mist of stars was in charge of the circus, because bakunin was away with the chimp chasing folding dust.

wayne pulled his chair a little closer to the door of the trailer. the clown was lying on a golden cot that almost filled the space in front of the door, so there wasn't much room to get in or out or see the rockets.
the rain was washing the night air clean as a plate in mrs miller's boarding house.
"julie," mumbled the clown. "julie."

wayne flicked ashes out the door.
"julie - is julie there?"

"i don't know who julie is, happy. there's nobody named julie in the circus. and there's nobody here but me and you."
"that's just what i called her, it wasn't her real name. i don't think."

"oh. i see."
rockets across a single blue star in the waiting silence.

red sparks and orange ribbons.
"she was wonderful."
"but you didn't know her name."
"and she didn't know mine."

"just a girl you saw once?"
"i saw her all the time. they called her rockets and the star jumped up the rain across the highway. but they didn't know what they were talking about."

"give a dog a bad name and hang him," wayne agreed. "or give a bad hang a good girl and raindrops."
once upon a time there was a beautiful young princess

and then the wanderer came to a high hill
"relax, happy. look out the window. out the door. see the
stars. one of them is your star."

"they are all my stars."

"that's a good attitude."
a booming voice in the darkness in the mud. "wayne! wayne!"

wayne didn't answer. the voice kept calling, fading away and then coming closer. kropotkin, the chief roustabout, crossed the shaft of dim light from the trailer. wayne lit a new cigarette from his old one and snapped the old one out the door.

the clown fell sleep. his breathing was fading and misfiring across a gray and white rocket rainbow.
kropotkin watched wayne's glowing cigarette butt fall at his feet. he went over to the trailer.
raindrops bounced off his hat.

"where you been, wayne? the place is falling apart."
"i've been sitting here with happy. he's dying."

"it's real this time. he's had it."

xxxxxxxxx . at this point the manuscript was heavily x'd and blacked out. geraldine folded it to mark her spot and put it back in her bag. she took a sip of diet mountain dew and looked out the station window.

the bus was pulling in.

chapter 4: the headliner