Novels, Short Stories

Ever the perfectionist with my writing, many of my stories are novels that are either unfinished or were modified into short stories. Check back on this page often to see what kind of exciting, erotic, bizarre, heart-wrenching, hilarious and dangerous rantings I present. This is a page that I can divorce myself from journalistic writing and can really delve into self-absorbed, subjective work!

 “’Classic.’ A book which people praise and don’t read.”
-Mark Twain

cropped-crankfever.jpgexcerpt

 

He was up before the buzzer went off. Minutes to spare until that screeching metal noise that would come from the little alarm clock calling him to revelry. At least he wouldn’t have to slam his fist on it or throw it across the room. In hazy fashion, fidgeted under the covers, reached over someone laying next to him and turned the clock’s switch off before collapsing his arm over whoever was laying next to him. Kip was up, sort of, head spinning and bleery-eyed, trying to collect his bearings. He managed to see that it was 4:46am—14 minutes before he planned on waking up. But why did he have to get up? What was his job today?

How the hell did last night turn out?

He muttered “Fuck” as he lay in bed trying to keep his eyes open and focus on what he needed to do. Something about an article he promised the bicycle magazine two weeks ago. This time, Kip didn’t get an advance so the thought of eating and paying a few bills was critical. But he could barely move a muscle laying there in bed. It must have been another crazy night. He rubbed his eyes and they burned from whatever was obviously on his hands. What the fuck was on his hands? Hot sauce? Cleaning agent? Suddenly, he sprung to life. He threw off the covers, leaped out of bed and raced to the bathroom. He realized he was naked but didn’t remember how he got in bed or what he did prior to crashing.

Kip went to the sink and turned on the cold water which he threw on his face repeatidly, trying to put out the immense burning in his eyes. The cold water stung his face as it brought him more to his senses and eased his tingling eyes. He looked into the mirror stained with soap, toothpaste and dirt at his face and almost didn’t believe what he saw: cheeks and eyes swollen red, bloodshot pupils unable to focus. Oh, brother, he thought, this won’t do. I can’t go out looking like this. He lay back down.

As he layed there minutes from wake-up time, he tried to imagine what he did last night. He saw the bottle on the dresser, two-thirds empty and knew that’s where he started. In the pre-dawn darkness, he knew it was a fifth of something but not sure what exactly. Probably Whiskey, but could have been vodka because he recently switched to the clear liquor since he generally didn’t feel as sick the morning after. Either way, much was consumed in some kind of fashion last night. Same as every night lately, he thought. There was probably a meth pipe on the coffee table that he and his bedmate were hitting in between martinis. Bedmate? Who was this person laying next to him? Damn, it’d better be a woman, he was thinking.

He rolled over to face the person laying next to him and lifted the covers. The streetlight offered a enough light through the open vertical blinds on the bedroom window to get somewhat of an idea who this silhouette figure was. Whoever it was was snoring lightly as they lay on their side. He traced her contoured torso with his right hand, smooth naked skin, warm to the touch and saw the tattoo on her right shoulder. Though he couldn’t make out the details of the tattoo, he knew instantly it was Meredith.

She must have come over last night out of boredom, pity for him, or just to have a good time. It seems it was an evening of debauchery and excess. He lay there and stared at her for what seemed like hours. The sheet went up to her hips, and he could tell she was naked, too, as he got a glimpse of her ass-crack. Her black, normally lively hair was matted and messed: he could tell that from the lowlight. The tattoo on her should seemed to take life each time she breathed, like some centurion poised to attack an intruder. Either way, Meredith was out cold, almost lifeless. He leaned over, brushed a lock of hair from her face and kissed her on her cheek. As he did this, Meredith groaned half asleep, but rolled over to face him with eyes closed and threw her arm around him before heaving a breath back to a deeper sleep. His head was whirling from a night of hard drinking, drugs and general excess. But he forced himself to get up.

Kip pulled himself together so he could prepare for his assignment. He looked out of his bedroom window which offered an eastward view of a sky slightly emanating early dawn light. The silhouette of nearby McCauley Ridge darkened the backdrop of the rest of the town. The ridge that stood as mighty as Thor marked the last outpost before the continent was spliced in two. A man could hike beyond the creek at the ridgeline’s base, travel through the dry pines on the hillsides and climb the boulder outcroppings that litter the high area and reach the 5,200 feet peak where he could get two different perspectives on life. Look east and see history already unraveled; look west and envision things to come. Kip made it a point to see both sides of the coin every time he hiked to the top.

It’s gonna be a warm, dry day today, Kip thought. It had been an unseasonably warm autumn so far and it was mid-October. Throughout the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies, snowfall had been lower than usual the past few winters. Any rainfall that hit the region was in the form of quick-moving thunderstorms that washed away almost quickly as they came. The conditions prompted forecasters and forest service officials to elevate forest fire danger from yellow to red. The forest service ranked fire danger risks from low, moderate and severe and had colors for the signs throughout most public forests in the country: Blue meant low risk while red meant high. Every road entrance into Springer National Forest which surrounds Rockdale was status red.

Kip threw on a pair of pants he found on the floor next to the bed, but forgot about underwear and walked out into the kitchen. In the hallway he kicked a bare foot on what felt like hard glass. It was a bottle that slammed against the wall with a loud thump at this early, predawn hour and the pain shot through his toe and up his leg. He wandered if the noise would rattle Meredith awake, but then thought if he barely was able to drag his ass out of bed at this hour after a night of partying, she sure as hell wouldn’t wake up for gunfire in the street.

Cursing at the pain in his foot, he hobbled into to kitchen to make coffee. He turned on the light—a neon institutional-looking light with the plastic cover that would kill any buzz on a happening Saturday night anywhere. Dishes were piled in the sink while empty beer bottles, cigarette packs and food scraps covered the breakfast nook that partitioned the kitchen from the living room. His head was throbbing badly for water, then coffee, so he could function in a sober world today. Just get through today. One thing at a time. I have a job to do today and I have to do it well if I want to salvage my reputation and get paid, Kip thought. Deal with Meredith later. She can hang out until she comes to.

He grabbed the coffeepot and noticed a clear liquid in it. Before dumping it down the sink, he thought it best to see what was in there. He smelled, but couldn’t really tell. Best to taste, he thought. Nothing toxic emanated from it, so he took a tiny drink. He spit out the liquid without swallowing any and wiped his mouth. Sake. Somebody apparently thought it best to serve warm sake by running it through the coffeepot. His coffeepot. One of the few items he cherished and refused to be without. More so than any bottle, drug or woman. He dumped the Sake out, rinsed it and filled it with water to make his coffee. Talk about total blackouts. No way in a million years would Kip get so wasted as to run sake through a coffee maker.

He managed to scoop out enough coffee for a full pot. That way he’d have enough for a cup now and put the rest into a thermos to take on the road.  As he pushed the brew button,  Kip felt he needed something to ease his jitters so he could to shower, get dressed and be on the road by 5:30. He had 20 minutes to spare. He walked down the dark hallway and back into the bedroom to fetch the bottle of whatever. He found the bottle on the dresser and tried to get a closer look at what it was: vodka. Ok, Kip thought. He opened it, took a long gulp and immediately felt his nerves calm. Now he could relax while he looked for some clothes to wear.

“What are you doing, Kip?” Meredith said, groggy, barely coherent.

“Go back to sleep, darlin’” he said. “I have to go over to Carson Canyon to cover the race.”

Kip heard Meredith mumble something as she rolled over facing the window and fell back asleep. He sighed, and went into the bathroom for a shower. He stepped into the shower and turned on the water. The first few seconds felt like painful daggers of ice on his back, head and chest. Gradually the stream turned into warm pellets of zen as he tried to wash himself of another night of bad decision-making.

He’d been clean for six months, going to 12-Step meetings and staying busy. While in the shower, Kip started to piece together the last couple weeks. Work was starting to pick up briefly before slowing down. It was a week prior that after getting a query letter for an assignment rejected, he decided to have a drink at the Old Mill saloon. It’s not like he was smoking meth or snorting coke or anything; just a harmless drink to take the edge off.

Kip remembered sitting on a barstool and flirting with Regina, the young tattooed blonde working when he felt an object jab him between his shoulders.

“Give me all your money, punk-ass bitch, or I’ll shoot you!” came the familiar-sounding voice.

After a moment of shock and without turning to face the voice, Kip answered the threat.

“Geese, I’m kinda broke, partner. Just got another rejection notice, but I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday.”

“Bang! You’re dead!”

Kip then realized he was just jabbing his fingers into his upper back.

“You’re hilarious, man. Fucking hitman, you!” Kip said.

He turned around and shook hands with Willie James, dealer to the local hot shots, celebrities and those of means. Willie usually didn’t come off like a crazed, trigger-happy drug dealer in the city, but rather a genuine rancher type who’s family influence in the state goes back generations. Always wearing tight Wrangler jeans with a belt buckle that had a ram on it, cowboy boots and T-shirt, he was an educated rancher with a narcotic side business and influence to maintain it free from the law. He was only in his mid-20s and already was worth 2 million by many estimates.

Seeing Willie was all Kip needed. Bad idea to come into the bar for a drink. But the thermometer was pushing 100 outside, he edgy from having an assignment rejected and wanted to relax. Being approaching by a well-known meth dealer was not conducive to staying clean and getting assignments. He knew how the rest of that day went: ended up taking a couple hits off the pipe he shared with Willie in the bar bathroom; going outside with him to the nearby ATM and forking over 40 bucks for some powder—just enough to keep him feeling good for the next day or two; then sharing his good fortune with Regina, the hot 23 year old working the bar, as he snorted powder off her tanned smooth stomach and her off his chest; which culminated with a two-day meth-induced sex binge. In a small town, often all a man needs to hook up with a young attractive woman is party favors and a smile.

Kip tried to forget about those couple of days because he had more pressing matters to concern himself with presently. He rinsed off, dried off and grabbed some aspirin out of the medicine cabinet. He found an empty bottle of generic pain reliever. Shit! Maybe he had some aspirin in his pickup. Then he thought Meredith probably carried around in her bag something that would take the pain away: valium, vicodin or at the very least PMS pills. Those things packed enough punch to numb a cougar, he thought. Cougar. A lively, successful and stunning beauty of 28, she would make one hell of a cougar in a few years time, he thought.

She only called Kip when her dating life was in a slump and needed a jolt and comforting that only he could offer. It was then that they brought the bad qualities out in each other. They’d go on meth binges that lasted a weekend, sometimes a week. Sure they had a history in another time when things were opportunistic, but circumstances have changed. The two had some kind of symbiotic relationship where they needed each other yet should have avoided each other.

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