Sunday, November 11, 2007

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego-Strategy 11 – BLOG
Current mood: semi-wistful
Category: semi-wistful Life

I’m sixteen and blogging.  It’s late at night when the house seems creepy, even though it’s the house I grew up in, with the thick lilac bushes lining the sidewalk, and the ivy that crawls further up the brick facing every spring, and the hilly field grass beyond the barn that makes my bare legs itch when I walk through it. 

The screen is glowing like a lantern in the basement — where my latest fort is set up. It’s a cool fort, nothing like the ones I built when I was a little kid.  This one has real walls and furniture and a file cabinet, where I keep records of all my cases. 

I’m adding details to the ongoing mystery blog that I write everyday — my subscriptions are up to 7,523 — when I hear just the littlest creak.  It’s not a creak like the house is settling, or the wind is rustling, or my dad’s getting a midnight snack.  It’s a creak like there’s somebody inside the cellar, close to my fort, and their sneaker is just damp enough from the field grass to creak on the freshly painted cement.

I click the screen off in silence, the image of the words “Are You Really In Love?  take the love test and find out” still glowing in my sight, even though I close my eyes to try to get them to adjust to the dark fast. 

The creak repeats, closer now.

My hands are shaking, but I remind myself that a good detective has to face adversity.  And I’ve planned for just such an occurrence. Planned for YEARS.

I flip three switches near the door to my fort, starting with the one that if there was enough light I’d see the word “SIREN” etched right below.  A wail fills the cellar as I flip the second switch marked “STROBE”.  Disco lighting floods the room as I flip the third and final switch marked “NET”.  I grab for my cell and dial the sheriff’s office (which I’ve programmed into speed dial for just such an occasion.)

Later, when they’ve printed and booked the cat burglar, after they’ve done an expose in our town’s newspaper titled “Boy Sleuth Nabs Crook In Detective’s Snare”, I calmly type up the results of the case and print a hard copy for my case files. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.     



Currently   listening :
  A Christmas to   Remember
  By Amy Grant
  Release date: 18 September, 2007     

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego Strategy 10 – ANKLE
Current mood: sorta silly
Category: sorta silly Life

I’m twenty-eight and I busted my ankle.  It hurts like hell. No grand dramatic story I can tell anyone: I sat on the toilet too long and my whole leg fell asleep.  When I stood up, I pitched over onto the floor, with my ankle twisted miserably beneath.  I tell the doctor “I tripped in the bathroom”.  “Were you drunk?” he asks. 

While I’m laid up for five days (no pressure on the foot, says the doctor), I spend too much time watching TV. I see old Star Treks, old Law & Orders, old I Love Lucys.  Then I pop on the local news.

They are showing pics of a guy who robbed the credit union up near the lake.  It’s a fuzzy picture from the bank’s security camera, but I recognize my landlord who lives downstairs from me — who also watches the local news.

I hear creaking up the front stairs and a knocking on my door.  “Hey Greg,” my landlord yells.  “Whatcha doin’?”  I mute the TV, hoping he can’t hear it from the hall.   He knows I hurt my ankle; he knows I’m on crutches; he knows I can’t run.

“I’m just watching The Wizard of Oz!” I yell through the door, hopping on one foot toward the bookcase. 

“I thought that was on last night,” he says.  I can almost hear the wheels of his mind turning through the too-thin wood of the cheap door.

“Oh, they play that stuff again and again on cable,” I say, grabbing my biggest book, the full edition of Lord of the Rings — all three books in one. 

“I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” he says. I hear the master key in the doorknob.

I hobble back to the doorway and raise the book high.  The door swings open and I bring the full volume — The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King — down on his thieving skull.  He drops to the floor unconscious, the silver metal of a kitchen knife clattering next to his body. 

The 911 operator commends me.  The hunky police detective tells me I’m foolishly brave.  But I just want to get back to my recliner and get my foot elevated ’cause it’s starting to throb.   

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  I Am Sam – Music   from and Inspired by the Motion Picture
  By Various Artists
  Release date: 08 January, 2002     

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Current mood: utterly goofy
Category: utterly goofy Life

I’m ninteen and the drinking age is changing to twenty-one tomorrow.  My friends and I head to the liquor store to stock up — since it will be two more years before we can legally drink again. 

I hit the vodka aisle while they wander toward the Jim Beam, Southern Comfort, and Bicardi.  While I’m back there, I hear a scream and a crash up near the front of the store.  I look around the Absolut cardboard cut-out of a hunky skiier sipping his screwdriver (made with Absolut) in front of a cardboard fireplace with some hot cardboard chick.  Near the cash register, there’s a short guy with a nylon stocking over his face.  He’s got a black pistol in his hand, and he’s pointing it at the clerk, an older guy who always smells like cigar smoke. 

He screams at all my friends to lie on the floor, but he doesn’t see me.  I grab a smaller bottle of Smirnoff (.5L) and sneak up the side aisle, the one near the coolers of boxed wine.

He shouts at the clerk to stuff all the money into a black satchel that he’s brought with him.  He keeps glancing around and waving the pistol, and although I don’t know a thing about guns, I imagine that it’s a semi-automatic, something that will “riddle me with bullets” like in a Raymond Chandler novel. 

In a single moment, several things happen at once:

The front door swings open, ringing the bell hanging just above the hinge.  It’s two college-age girls. 

My high-school best friend (the one I secret have a crush on) shouts at them to get out.

The gun man fires once toward the girls, missing them completely, but shattering the large glass display window that explodes into a billion pieces.  The crook pivots, aiming the gun at my best friend. 

I’ve seen all this happen, but my body is in motion without me thinking about it.  I’m climbing the cases of local New York wines, yelling at the top of my lungs like something out of Platoon, and I whip the Smirnoff bottle at the perp’s nylon-covered skull.

Later, when the police and ambulance lights are flashing at frantic intervals in the parking lot, when the cops are talking to each of us, writing furiously on their triplicate forms, when radios are buzzing with static and barking orders from some unseen dispatcher, I watch them haul the crook away on a stretcher, his head still bleeding from the force of my well-aimed blow. 

The girls, the clerk, the cops are all praising me — but it’s the full-body, never-ending hug from my best friend that makes my heart race. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  Buffy The Vampire   Slayer: The Album (1999 Television Series)
  By Various Artists – Soundtracks
  Release date: 19 October, 1999     

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego Strategy 8 – HALLOWEEN
Current mood: A little tipsy
Category: A little tipsy Life

I’m forty-one and hosting an Open Mic at Writers & Books.  People are crowding out the door to hear the speakers. 

A hush falls over the crowd as I approach the podium.  I drop a pin.  The crowd listens.  I snap my fingers.  The crowd looks bored.  I read my latest work. 

The crowd applauds.

After it’s all over, the guy in the back row — the one who had funny hair bumps and weird glasses — tells me he really likes my work and wants to publish me.  Can  I send him some more stuff?

I can.

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  Pure Disco  
  By Various Artists
  Release date: 08 October, 1996     

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego Strategy 7 — OLD
Current mood: Wistful Without Cause
Category: Wistful Without Cause Life

I’m seventy-nine and sitting near the canal.  It’s not an offical park, it’s a private place along the canal path, quiet and serene.  The afternoon breeze is kicking up just enough to make the tree branches make that wonderful wordless chanting.  The sunlight is bouncing off the ripples of the water in ways that poets would describe in phrases like:

Sunlight danced across my soul, or

The ribbed edges of life shine their glimpses of
Both silvern past and cerulean future

I’m having a good day — remembering most things that I like to remember — and my aches and pains seem a little less. 

A teenage boy comes by on a bike.  His hair is scruffy in the Han-Solo style that has come and gone so many times in my life.  He’s got a bookbag wedged behind the bike seat.

He stops, looks at me, pulls a book from the bag, and approaches.  I see that it’s one of my books.

“Is this you?” he asks, pointing at the picture of me back when I was forty-something, back when I first knew I was destined to be as bald as my father. 

“Yeah, it’s me,” I say.

“Cool,” he says, and sits in the grass next to me. 

We talk and talk as the wind and the sunshine and the water continue their business. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  Hymns of the 49th   Parallel
  By k.d. lang
  Release date: 27 July, 2004     

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego Strategy 6 — BUFFY
Current mood: out in the ozone
Category: out in the ozone Life

I’m thirty-something, feeling bad that I never watched the show Thirty                         Something yet.  I’ve got a cold — kind of miserable — and it’s snowing again.  I hear a huge crash outside my front door, so I grab my sweatshirt — the one from high school that is worn out but I just don’t want to get rid of — and run outside. 

There’s a Mazda plowed into the tree in front of my house.  I pull open the door, and can’t believe it — packed inside the car are a bunch of people from Buffy, The Vampire Slayer fame including Joss Whedon, Nicholas Brendan, and David Boreanaz.  They’re a little banged up, so I pile them into my four-wheel drive, rush them to the hospital.  I insist on waiting for them to all get checked out.  They’re okay, but by now, all the hotels in town are booked up due to the storm, so I offer to put them up at my house. 

We make oatmeal cookies, chocolate martinis, and have a crazy, unplanned guy slumber party. 

Afterwards, when the Mazda is repaired and we’re all back in our own cities, Joss offers to support my writing efforts and helps me get my book published.

 For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  Buffy the Vampire   Slayer – Once More, with Feeling
  By Various Artists
  Release date: 24 September, 2002     

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego Strategy 5 — PEPPER
Current mood: Adrenalinistic
Category: Adrenalinistic Life

I’m twelve, and I’m watching TV on Saturday night.  Nobody else is awake.  I’m watching Doctor Who.  It’s dark and raining. 

I hear the crashes of thunder.  Every time lightning fashes outside the window, a fuzzy line shoots across the TV screen. 

Doctor Who is racing to escape the Daleks when the biggest flash yet explodes in the room.  All the lights go out and the hair on my arms stands straight up.  I see something through the West window — sparks on the metal barn roof outside.

I pick up the phone — but it’s dead.  So I run outside.  The rain isn’t coming down just in sheets — more like waves crashing against a cliff head.  I don’t need the heat lightning cutting jagged slits across the sky to see the blackened tree stump and the huge limb — half the tree — that lies across the field next to the barn.  That’s when I hear the crying.  It’s quiet, but it cuts through the pounding rain.

I approach.  It’s the neighbor’s pony, Pepper, who somehow got out of her corral, somehow got across the road, somehow got under our tree limb.  I run to her, yanking at the downed branch, but it’s heavy.  It’s half a tree, for God’s sake. 

Pepper whines when she seems me and tries to break free, but she’s almost crushed under the weight.  I run to the barn, grab a four-by-four from the stack next to the Christmas decorations and run back to the field.  Getting leverage against the nearby well-pipe, I pit my back against the four-by-four and push with my legs. 

With a loud yelp! Pepper breaks free from underneath the limb.  I slump to the ground and she comes over to lick my face, which is already soaking wet from the rain.   

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  Amy Grant Greatest   Hits 1986-2004
  By Amy Grant
  Release date: 20 February, 2007     

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego Strategy 4 — FIGHT
Current mood: ehhhhhh
Category: ehhhhhh Life

I am like thirty and it’s dark in the house, because the days are getting shorter, and I live by myself, so I am kind of lonely.  I put on my coat (just the light autumn coat with the cool pockets everywhere, not the big winter parka that I’ll have to wear in another two months) and take a walk through my city neighborhood. 

I’m walking up Park Ave. alone and I spot some movement in the bushes at the corner of Barrington.  I think about ignoring it, but I hear somebody make a muffled cry, so I rush over.  Some guy is leaning over a younger kid.  I see a knife. 

My heart is racing like you’d see on TV, but like I’ve always imagined, I explode with fury at the perp.  I kick the knife with one swift jolt and even though I’ve never been in a fight, I smack the guy three times in the jaw.  He drops.  I use my light autumn coat to tie his hands behind his back while the kid phones the cops on my Treo.  

The mayor calls me up to the podium to receive an award for citizenship and Reader’s Digest tells my story under a feature called “people who make a difference”.

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  Spring Awakening   (2006 Original Broadway Cast)
  By Duncan Sheik
  Release date: 12 December, 2006     

Monday, October 22, 2007

The NERVOUS STOMACH Series: Ego Strategy 3 — ALIENS
Current mood: nearly total fantasy land
Category: nearly total fantasy land Life

I don’t know what freakin’ age I am, but I’m sitting in the movie theater and it’s a great flick like Aliens or The X-Files and I’ve already seen it a couple of times, but it was only a matinee so I could afford it, and who is sitting in the row in front of me but Sigourney Weaver (or Gillian Anderson, depending on whether it was actually Aliens or The X-Files.)  There’s nobody else in the theater because of the huge snowstorm outside, and after the movie Sigourney’s (or Gillian’s) Saab gets stuck in the multiplex’s parking lot, so I offer (in my Jeep) to give her a ride home.  Turns out she’s staying at a hotel in town, so I offer to have her over to my apt. to hang out, which she does. 

We make microwave popcorn, mix White Russians, and end up watching old Carol Burnett re-runs that I have on DVD.  The snowstorm shuts the city down, so she hangs for a day or two at my apt., and we end up becoming life-long friends. 

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  Come on Now Social  
  By Indigo Girls
  Release date: 28 September, 1999     

Monday, October 22, 2007

Current mood: autumnal
Category: autumnal Life

..I am twenty-seven years old, walking down the highway past my high school.  I’m just in town visiting for Thanksgiving, and it’s a nice break from all the frenetic dynamics of family to walk in the November sunshine. 

I look at the high school building — as I always do when I’m in town — remembering the guys and the Camera Club and Special Developer 64.  The leaves cascade across the lawn in crumpled piles, reminding me that nothing is permanent; that my high school time is past; that loneliness is the provenance of maturity. 

All that’s going on inside my head when I see the dark puffs of smoke wafting slowly from the window of the new gym — the one they sent me a newsletter about last month. 

I race across the grass, crunching leaves indiscriminately.  I use the statue of some dead guy (which I grab from the visitor’s parking circle) to break the glass on the double entranceway doors.  My adrenaline is pumping.  Smoke is just beginning to gather in the main corridor when I pull down the “In-case-of-fire, pull-down” switch.  I grab the extinguisher from it’s little hallway locker and rush into the gym.  Flames are just starting to lick the edge of the ping-pong tables in the corner as I rush forward.

The husky firemen all pose with me for a picture after it’s all over.  The school principal gives me one of those framed awards, for being a valued alumnus.  They re-dedicate the new gym, adding my name above the front door in foot-high letters.

For FUN, I put my stuff at
For SERIOUS, I put my stuff at 
I invite you to visit my stuff.


Currently   listening :
  Altar Boyz (2005   Original Off-Broadway Cast)
  By Gary Adler
  Release date: 17 May, 2005