Thursday, February 07, 2002

As promised, the first part of the Veenbruehner Saga. Untitled as of yet, though Sun Sweat and Stardust in the Moonlight has a nice ring to it.

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The tequila glowed golden on the bar in front of me, oily and evil in the dim light. Sun sweat. Or maybe something even worse. I didn't want to think about that. I just needed a drink real bad, so I grabbed the shot glass, licked the salt off the back of my thumb and knocked the wicked liquor down. I sucked on the lime wedge while the sun rose in my stomach. Oh, what a beautiful morning!

I was already late getting home. She was going to raise Holy Hell. Screw it. I needed a drink real bad, like I said. Real bad. She was just going to have to wait.

The thing about tequila is that its purpose in the Universe is to attract weirdness. Open the Cuervo and let the games begin! This time was no exception.

I don't remember seeing him come in or sit down, he was just there on the stool next to mine. He looked like some kind of gnome, short, under five feet tall, round, balding, glasses with lenses so thick I could see the magnification from where I was. He didn't look at me, just hooked a finger at the barmaid. When she got close enough, he spoke.

"What he said."

That was all. He poked a thumb in my direction so she would know who he meant, and she got to work on a shot just like the one currently eroding my gastric lining. When it came, he never hesitated, just knocked it back. He sat sucking the lime wedge in deep contemplation, then shuddered with a deep-body motion that came from somewhere in the vicinity of his toes. He dropped the rind into the shot glass and looked in my direction.

""Ever been abducted by aliens?"

His voice was surprisingly deep for one of his stature. No end of surprises tonight. I looked at him with what must have been a profound stupidity and tried to get something, anything, to come into my mind. I was mesmerized by this apparition. He sighed and hooked his finger again.

"Two more."

And indicated the space in front of me and the space in front of him. The shots appeared as if by magic, and the spell was broken.

We imbibed the evil cactus juice in silence. I finally got up the courage to speak.

"I don't think so. The alien thing, I mean."

"You might not remember. They're pretty good at covering their tracks. You have the look, though, and I'm seldom wrong."

He spoke with a faint accent that I couldn't quite place. Vaguely Eastern European, I guessed, for lack of any better ideas.

"Rostock Veenbruehner. I'm a researcher. I investigate sightings and abductions and such."

Oh. my. He stuck out his hand, and I shook it.

"Dean Lamont. Computer tech."

"Are you psychic?"

What? The weirdness magnet was really cranking tonight. On the other hand ....

I thought back to the day I had just finished. I was at a client's office, a local shyster, trying to figure out why his printer didn't work. Nothing that I was trying was helping, so I was going to take it to the shop. You know, do some voodoo, sacrifice a goat, maybe a virgin...

Just kidding, of course, though some of my customers had thoughts in those directions, I think. Anyway, I unhooked the data cable and the damned thing just started printing! Scared me so bad, I jumped and almost knocked it off its stand.

It clattered and whirred and clunked and fed paper -- it was an old dot-matrix dinosaur. I peeped at the output. Garbage, though it looked like a picture might be forming. The top of a circle, like the top of a head, only rounder. If those were eyes, they were going to be huge. I pulled the plug before it could get any further. I suddenly didn't want to know. The printer was now sitting in a closet in my office. I had a feeling that it was going to be "unrepairable". Main logic board obviously fried. Time for a new one.

Maybe it wasn't just the tequila, after all.

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Meanwhile, the job hunt continues. Started work on my cookbook last night, tentative title: The Best Revenge: Practical Low-Cholesterol Diabetic Gourmet Cooking For Normal People. Or something like that.

Also got a little restart on "Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet". New concept of the story that has really captured my imagination. Got to let it ferment a little bit longer, though, because I still have one crit that I owe that I have got to get out, and "A Time To Every Purpose" needs revision, too.

Monday, February 04, 2002

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. -- Hebrews 11:1

Three weeks ago last night, I lost faith in myself. My hopes and dreams lost their substance and became ashes, my faith in the future became dust, and both blew away in a violent storm. I was left standing neck-deep in a reeking swamp. There was nothing in sight but murky water and mud, snakes and sawgrass, quicksand and alligators, and I could see no way out. The horizon was obscured by mist filled with ghosts and dread.

Three weeks later, I have worked my out to only waist-deep. Though my faith is still gone, I know that it is out there somewhere. One step at a time, one day at a time, I am moving toward it. When I get there, what a glorious feeling it will be to put on that armor and stride confidently out of this Slough of Despond and into the sunlight beyond! It is a long, steep, rocky road ahead, but I keep my eyes focused one step ahead and just take one more step today, one more step tomorrow, and the sun will shine on me again, one day.

I feel better for having said that. Thank you for listening.

Spent all weekend thinking about "Though You Sins Be As Scarlet". I am seeing a lot of possibilities in the idea. Basically, what if the conversion is successful? Wouldn't he become a missionary to the undead in much the same way as the Apostle Paul? This is becoming a very exciting idea and one I am going to pursue. I am also seeing some other pre-existing ideas beginning to converge with this one and even more possibilities opening up.

I'll keep thinking about this while I work on my crits, Jen and Peggy both have stories up that I need to crit.