Breaking up is hard to do

Another Richard section from my novel, Impossible Monsters, for your reading pleasure.


The first of two conversations leading to us breaking up:

I’m at the botanical gardens killing time, it’s around two and it’s cold but I’m sitting on a bench outside anyway and watching my breath leave me, watching it go everywhere but back in me like it’s some sentient thing.  Wispy smoke plumes.  I’m sitting here with a notepad and a disposable fountain pen I purchased at this paper store in High Street called Pulp or something, I think, a pack of four pens—two black, one blue, and one purple, of all colors.  Sitting here thinking about lots of things for what’s already seemed like a long time, but it probably hasn’t been.  Been thinking about my dissertation, my family back home, where to go drinking tonight, the party, etcetera, how I’ll look in the sweater I borrowed from Toby when I finally wear it, then my cell rings, surprising me.  I stand and look at it and recognize Jen’s number which makes me smile.

“Hi, baby,” I say.

“Hi…Rich,” she says, somberly, slowly.

“God, I’m glad you called.  Had a pretty cool day today.”


“Wait, you okay?”

She sighs loud, dramatically, then silence.  I wander into one of the greenhouses at this point, one that was supposed to represent a tropical, rainforesty climate, the closest to me, and I’m met with such a gust of thick and damp humidity that it’s startling.

Continue reading Breaking up is hard to do

‘Impossible Monsters’ excerpt du jour: “Anthony”

Another day, another excerpt from my currently-seeking-publication novel Impossible Monsters. Again, I present to you the lovable curmudgeon, Anthony.



Three in the afternoon and it’s sunny out and sitting at a Starbucks on High Street with my sunglasses on.  Head feels clear for once, no pain in my body, anywhere.  Finally.  Scratching on a notepad, sitting in the upper level at a table that extends across the large window that looks down onto the street.  Leering at those unlucky enough to fall into my line of sight.  Sucking on an iced coffee and picking at a piece of cake that looked good but once I bit into it I was instantly turned off by the cranberries.  Thinking about a lot of things.  There’s a pub across from the place called Will-O-The-Wisp which sounds familiar but I can’t remember if I’ve been there or not.  Next to the pub is a paper store called Pulp which makes me think of the song “Common People” which makes me think of the line “She told me that her Dad was loaded / I said ‘In that case I’ll have a rum and coca-cola’” which makes me smile.  Today, I think, will be good.  Decide my goal for the day will be to get caught up on homework.  To get so far ahead I won’t fall behind again.  Just can’t, I reason.  Look down at the notepad and see that I’ve been doodling the whole time I’ve been daydreaming and there are little screaming stickmen all over the paper but no stickwomen.  There’s a stickman tied to what looks like a cross and supposedly I’ve drawn flames around him.  Talk about a way to go.  This makes me smile again.

Look back outside and see a boy I met at a party during welcome week named Felix, Austrian or Australian, I can’t remember.  Austrian, I think.  His English was impeccable and we talked to each other a bit at the pub we were at but I don’t remember which pub it was.  He wore a rugby-type shirt that night, I remember.  Dark blue.  Studies engineering, is nineteen like me.  Long blonde hair combed back and he really could be a model.  I remember calling Deirdre about him, actually.  Tilt the sunglasses up and rest them on my forehead and watch him talk to a scraggly and witchy looking girl with wild bushy hair.  He’s wearing tight jeans and ankle boots and a button down shirt tucked in and he looks very GQ.  He’s carrying a satchel bag, leather.  Find myself beaming and just studying the way he interacts with her, the way he looks past her while she groans on about whatever it is she’s groaning on about.  The way he takes his left boot and itches the back of his right leg with it, then repeats it with the right itching the left.  Boredom.  Could recognize it anywhere.  Practically leaning over the thin table with my nose almost on the glass looking down and suddenly he looks up and sees me.  Cups a hand over his eyes like a visor and sees me but it takes a second for him to realize he knows me from somewhere and when he does he smiles real big and I remember I liked that his teeth were so white.  He waves a bit then holds up a finger to tell me he’ll be a minute and I just sort of wave back and slink back into my seat, unsure if that was the reaction I was going for.  Look around behind me and see only a few tables filled with students, the rest empty and stained with coffee spills.  Adjust my clothes.  Peer back down and they’re still talking.  Foot starts tapping of its own accord and I start doodling again and find myself drawing a stickman with an axe chopping the head off another stickman and then a family of stickmen crying nearby with lines coming out from their heads representing their anguish.  Smile.  Feel a buzz in my pocket, jolting me stiff.  Take my phone out and don’t recognize the number but know it’s from Chicago so I answer.

Continue reading ‘Impossible Monsters’ excerpt du jour: “Anthony”

Weekly Friday novel pimping! Hoorah!

Why not, right? Short little chapter I quite like from my novel Impossible Monsters. Enjoy.


It’s kinda cold outside and Beatriz and I are walking down Medard Road which runs past the dorms and down a steep hill that overlooks a nice little area of Wellington before it curves, goes past some pretty decent-looking houses, and dead-ends into Bexley Hill. I managed to track down her dorm room number from Mora, called her to apologize for my behavior at the party, I think really just to make us both feel better about everything, and ended up asking her to take a walk.  I met her by the road and she had a small Spanish-English dictionary with her, which was pretty adorable, and I smiled when I saw it, which caused her to blush.

“I…am sorry.  My Eenglish is…not very good,” she said, bashful, sexy, holding the book up.  I don’t remember her English being particularly bad last night.

“No, it’s fine…I like this,” I said back, then we started walking, not really saying anything, just exchanging lots of awkward smiles mostly.  Now we’re down the hill right past the curve and there’s this old church with dark stones, grass in front of it, surrounding it, a small stone wall lining the sidewalk made up of similar dark stones and we’re sitting on the wall.  I’m thumbing through the dictionary, asking about my pronunciation of random Spanish words which makes her smile and look away, and she’s wearing this hoodie and some jeans and some tennis shoes that makes her look very American for some reason.  I’m wearing a tight sweater and favorite jeans, and I removed my green army jacket earlier so she could look at me, so I could show her my body again, just to make sure she knows.

“I’m glad you wanted to come with me,” I say.

“Yes,” she says, nodding.

“Listen, I think what happened, last night, is something…well, we were drunk, right?” I say and she looks at me, processing what I just said, so I add, “Borrecho, si?”

“Ah, borracho.  Yes, very,” she says, the R’s rolling off her tongue and hanging between us before they disappear.

I look out to the road and watch a few cars drive by, a small Indian family out for a walk, a stray cat that’s really dirty and mangy.  I look back to her and she’s looking up toward the sky, studying the tree that’s hanging over us, the branches already bare, the bark like peeling slate.  “I think you’re very beautiful,” I say.

“Hmm…thanks.  You are also…very handsome,” she says and I smile.

“I don’t think we’re bad people, you know?” I say and pause to look in the dictionary, then, “That I’m…uh, mal hombre, right?”

“No, no.  We were…just drunk, yes?”

“Yes,” I say, she’s looking at me.  “You really are very beautiful.  Do you miss your boyfriend?”

“Uh…yes, sometimes.”

“What’s his name?”

“Hector.  He’s a good man.”

“My girlfriend’s name is…Jennifer.  Jen, I call her.  I met her at…a friend’s wedding, actually.”


“Is this weird I’m telling you this after…you know?”

“I…do not understand.”

“Um, after last night,” I say slowly, gesturing with my hands.  “I mean, after what happened between us.”

“Ah, yes…yes.  No, is good to know.”

“I agree.  You know, I never…cheated before, on her.  On Jen.  Cheat?” I say, making sure she understands.

“Yes, I have not cheated too.”

“Well, at least we’re on the same page.  Uh, I mean, we’re…the same?”

Yes,” she says, looking at me again.  “We are the same.”

I hear what sounds like a car accident echo from somewhere, not sure which direction, so I look around quick and just listen, waiting.  Nothing happens, nothing right away, anyway, and I see the Indian family walk by again, retracing their steps, then three birds flirting across the street in the branches of another bare tree, then look back to Beatriz and catch her watching me, studying me, just looking at my body in a way that I think I understand.

“I think,” I say, smiling at her, making a conscious effort to articulate like a translator might, pausing, then, “I think that you and I will be very good friends, yes?”

“Maybe…is possible,” she says, smirking.  “Nothing is impossible.”

“True,” I say.  “Nothing is impossible.”


Been a while, so figured I’d post another sample chapter from my novel, Impossible Monsters. It’s pretty self-explanatory…I think.  Still trying to get this published. *ahem* 🙂


I decide after Jill and I have dinner at her flat and smoke an enormous joint that I need to call Tyler, a conversation I’m not particularly looking forward to.  I leave and she’s not happy, but I tell her I have homework and we kiss a little bit standing by her door.  She tries to grab my crotch to entice me to stay, pleading with that crooked smile.  I leave anyway.  Walking back from Hugh Catanach Hall I cross the pedestrian bridge that extends over a Warwick Road, high brick walls on both sides of the road, old walls with old vines on them.  Cars speeding, later afternoon almost dusk.  Stop on the center of the bridge after I pass a black boy that looks familiar.  Tall, striking, shaved head, stubble.  He’s walking and flirting with a chubby American girl who looks at me for an uncomfortable amount of time.  Nondescript.  Standing there I take a cigarette from my jacket pocket that I borrowed from Jill and light it with a Bic lighter I stole from Alex when I was buying some more Vicodin from him yesterday.  He tried getting me to stay…again.  Light it, inhale.  Feel good.  I turn to my right and study the bridge as it disappears into a thick bunch of trees, the leaves barely hanging now.  The direction I will eventually head.  Beyond the trees Hammond Student Village, a rugby field and a hockey field, separated by a flimsy partition made from a black tarp.  The library somewhere even further back.  I take a deep hit of the cigarette and feel the smoke bury itself so deep in me it may not come out.  Burns, a pain I deserve.  Striking hot.  Study the lighter, black plastic casing, rub my finger over thumbwheel slowly then ignite a small red flame that I proceed to blow out.  I do this two more times as I formulate what I will say to Tyler even though it doesn’t really matter anyway.  A couple of boys pass, boys I saw at a club during Orientation week although I can’t remember any more details.  I just remember them dancing closely.  Whispering.  Their eyes.  They study me, I can feel it, and I just look down at the cars drive by.  Cue a gust of wind, my hair blowing.  My North Face jacket keeping me warm and looking very cool.  Imagine they check me out as I pose which makes me smile.  Need to be more stoned.  Once I’m alone again I take out my cell and unfold the piece of paper I wrote the number down on and call it.  The rings sound distant like they are traveling far underground, through dirty wires buried like the smoke still in my lungs, the smoke I keep there.  The burning I keep there.  That I deserve.

Continue reading More IMPOSSIBLE MONSTERS pimping! Joy!

The pomposity of tenure

It’s that time again, friends! What time? Time to post another chapter from my novel, Impossible Monsters, of course! Por que? Por que no!?

Okay, all silliness aside, this chapter again focuses on one of the central characters, Richard, as he goes to meet with one of his professors, Bernard Nesbitt, to talk about his future (or lack thereof) in academia.  I quite like Bernard, and almost wish he showed up in the book more than once, but I think this chapter does a fine job in showcasing his rather strong personality, and I think if he were to show up again, it might be too much.

And, if you like what you read, check out my book of short stories available for purchase on Lulu right here.



Wednesday, about eleven-thirty in the morning, gray sky peppered with grayer clouds, drips of rain that came in hurried storms always at points when I had just dried off, the bus running five minutes late, and I’m wearing a white oxford shirt with a blue veeneck sweater over it and my black wool coat—even though it’s not that cold out—and some skinny jeans and these new loafer-type shoes I bought from a clothing store called Hartevelt’s, some Dutch superchain that caters to the casually chic—they cost me about £40, not too bad—and I’m sitting in Bernard Nesbitt’s office, watching his bulbous frame fumble a small electric water boiler on top of a small mosaic table decorated with long-leafed ivies that twirl down to the floor.  The room is lined with bookshelves, like actually lined, and where there is no longer room on the actual shelves he’s managed to place more books atop the old ones, lying them flat and stacking them tall, also placing the largest of his tomes on the very top of the oak-looking bookcases looking like they could teeter and fall off and kill a man at any moment, and I’m seated right below such a book and can just make out the scraped lettering on the scraped binding that reads Mind-Mapping for Creativity.  I realize at this moment, even though I’ve only been in this country for less than three months, that everything here is done over tea or coffee, usually tea, and it’s funny but sad, kinda.  The moment I walked in the office, even though it’s November and still not that cold, Bernard complained about the freeze as he called it, and like clockwork asked me if I’d like some tea because he was going to put some on.  I replied yes then wondered if Englishmen only drink tea when someone else is around, it doesn’t seem like a solitary drink because you’re always being told “I was just about to put some tea on” when you walk into a room but you never actually see cups of half-finished tea in their hands…weird.  He’s humming a tune now and the organized list of bullet points I had memorized and was going to race through with him is leaving me quickly all because of this…stupid tea.  He turns, finally, placing a small cup of steaming gray water in front of me at the edge of his overworked and paper-soaked desk, retreating back to his comfy chair across from me, the weight of his swollen body causing the thing to groan.  He takes a sip without even testing its hotness.  The porcelain cup is decorated with red lines that make a nonsense pattern and it’s hot in my hand as I try to sip.  The large window behind Bernard’s desk has no blinds and overlooks a courtyard between two of the buildings, I think the library and Fenn Hall, where I don’t have any classes.  He sips again.  He’s wearing a blazer the color of peanut butter, some gray slacks and a white oxford like me.  He’s notably bald.

Continue reading The pomposity of tenure