“If I do not write to empty my mind, I go mad.” ~
Joey Cardona takes two steps down off the sidewalk, opens the door into the dimly lit Barlow’s Beer Stop. He steps inside, pauses, and takes a deep breath savoring the fragrance of stale beer, burnt pizza, along with several other disgusting odors. The only other person in Barlow’s at 10:30 in the morning is Skinny. Skinny’s the bartender and he’s not so skinny. Three months ago, Skinny did the stomach stapling thing. At the time, he weighed three-hundred-ten pounds. Now, he’s a svelte two-hundred-ninety pounds, which is not so skinny.
“Yo, Skinny, you got two cold bottles of Bud?” hollers Joey from the doorway.
Skinny looks away from the TV and rotates toward the door, “We’re not open til 11, Joey.”
“Come on, man. The door is open. That means you got to be open, because if you was closed, the door would be closed. See where I’m going?”
Skinny thinks, yah, you’re going straight over the cliff and you don’t even know it. He says, “I can’t sell you anything because of the laws, but you can come in. You look like hell. You needs a haircut and if that’s a grunge, it don’t look too good neither.”
“Man, I need a beer, Skinny. I can’t help it, Skinny. I thought Sunny was the one and then she tosses me out for no good reason. The last two weeks been like a hangover that won’t go away. Know what I mean? Anyway, Nate is going to meet me any minute. One of the bottles is for him.
“Whatever. I told you, she wasn’t your type.”
“She got this way of messing with my brain that makes me not know what I’m doing.”
“I’ll slide em down. Whistle when you’re ready.”
“I shoulda listened to ya when you warned me about Sunny, Skinny,” says Joey whistling and sticking his hand on the bar, palm facing Skinny at the other end of the bar.
Skinnyslides a bottle down the length of the bar watching slide softly into Joey’s open hand. The second bottle comes in with a rough landing but Joey’s left hand saves it from tipping over. A tad of beer splashes on the bar.
Joey hollers, “Thanks, Skinny. I got it.” Joey stands up, pulls up his stained maybe white, maybe grey t-shirt, sticks his hand inside his t-shirt, bends over and wipes the spill with his t-shirt.
“Tanks, Joey. Like I said, I can’t take no money for the beers. Consider them on the house,” says Skinny
“I owe ya, Skinny,” Joey gives Skinny the bartender a thumbs up and carries his beers to a booth as far back as the next county, sets the beers down, and slides into the booth. He takes a long swing from one of the bottles, closes his eyes, and enjoys the rush of cold beer traveling toward his stomach. Joey opens his eyes thinking a cold beer is one of the best things in life. He wipes his lips on his bare arm, burps, and stares at a poster of a topless woman on the wall behind Skinny. The topless woman starts Joey’s brain to reminiscing about how he got himself caught up with Sunny and how she ruined his life.
“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” ~
Don’t use unnecessary instances of “which,” “as,” “with,” and “while;” use modifiers instead.
Two example: 1. Change the sentence, “I drove down the freeway, which made me feel carsick” suffers from the “which.” TO: “I drove down the freeway, feeling carsick.” Example 2: “The teacher cleaned her desk while listening to The Beatles.” TO: “The teacher cleaned her desk, listening to The Beatles.”
“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.” ~
Vinnie’s mom and dad stand side by side looking out the kitchen window toward the backyard. Vinnie’s dad has an ice cream bar in his hand. Vinnie’s mom is sipping cucumber, ginger, and lemon water from an infuser bottle.
She glances over at Vinnie’s dad as he sinks his teeth into the ice cream bar. “You know how many calories are in that bar?”
Vinnie’s dad turns a bit toward Vinnie’s mom and smiles, nodding his head no.
Vinnie’s mom says, “At least two-hundred-fifty. Do you want love handles?”
Vinnie’s dad says, “I have fast metabolism. I think Vinnie gets it from me. BTW, check out Vinnie and his friends their tossing a frisbee and talking. They don’t have a care in the world.”
Vinnie’s mom takes the ice cream bar from Vinnie’s dad and takes a bite. “I saved you thirty calories. Vinnie’s up to something, I promise you, he’s up to something.” Vinnie’s mom turns from the window and walks lazily toward the fridge.
“Have a little faith in our son, Marti. He’s with Joey, Larry, and Sara and they’re tossing a frisbee. Vinnie’s pretty good at tossing it. Oh oh, he sailed it into the Zeller’s yard. Larry and Joey are giving him ten fingers. He’s over the fence. Is this the week the Zeller’s go to the beach?”
“I think Vinnie’s tossing ripe peaches from the Zeller’s peach tree over the fence. One, two, three, four, five, six. Larry is tossing a rope over the fence to Vinnie. Vinnie’s like one of the commandos we see in in a movie, he’s using the rope to scale the fence. He’s back in the yard.”
Vinnie’s mom is next to Vinnie’s dad, “Al, do something. Vinnie’s turning in a thief.”
“Can I wait until his friends go home?”
“I think I’m part of the problem.”
“Dear God, you’re both going to be sharing a cell,” says Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie’s mom and dad stand side by side watching Vinnie and his friends eat ripe peaches from the Zeller’s peach tree. Vinnie’s mom shakes her head. She says, “Al, what story did you tell Vinnie?”
“Remember last week, when you left me alone with Vinnie?”
“Hold on, don’t pin Vinnie’s peach caper on me,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“But Marti, you’re so much better with Vinnie than me. I don’t make a connection between what I tell him and how Vinnie interprets what I say,” says Vinnie’s dad.
“That’s true, Al. Tell me you didn’t tell him another story of Mike and you when you were growing up.”
“We went out to Sonic and . . .”
“You went to Sonic! You know what I think about their food.”
“Vinnie convinced me it was the right choice,” pleads Vinnie’s dad.
“Al, he’s an eight-year-old.
“He’s going to be nine soon. It was the night you decided we needed to detox our systems and we had cabbage soup.”
Before Vinnie’s mom responds, Vinnie comes busting in through the deck door, “Mom, Dad I’ve got some ripe peaches for you. They’re the best peaches ever.”
“Vincent. You know stealing is wrong. You’re going to have to tell Mr. Zeller you stole his peaches and ask him what chores you can to do to pay him back,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“But, Mom,” Vinnie pleads.
“Don’t but, Mom, me, Vincent. You know you were wrong.”
“Mr. Zeller called over the fence and said he had too many peaches and asked us if we wanted some. When the frisbee went over the fence, it was the perfect time get the frisbee and the peaches. Mr. Zeller handed me the peaches when I threw them over the fence.”
Vinnie’s dad says, “Did you tell Mr. Zeller thank you?”
“Un huh. Am I in trouble?”
Vinnie mom says, “I jumped to conclusions, Vinnie. I apologize.”
“No problem, Mom. Will you call Del’s and order a take out pizza for my friends and me?” asks Vinnie as he heads out the door.
Vinnie hollers to his friends, “My Mom is going to order pizza for us.”
Joey, Larry, and Sara begin chanting, “Vinnie, Vinnie, Vinnie.”
“Does it ever end, Al,” says Vinnie’s mom wearily.
“Afraid not. Okay if I order two pizzas with pepperoni?”
“Sweet Mother of God, this is the longest summer ever. I’m desperate, I need inspiration.”
Vinnie’s dad glances over at Vinnie’s mom. He says, “Be careful what you pray for. Your prayers might be answered.”
“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” ~ Cyril Connolly