joegoda: (chethead)
[personal profile] joegoda
I've been beating my head against the wall for a few days. Even though I had said, time and time again, that I was going to write this Nano, after having missed the last 3 for reasons that may become clear, and may not. I even said I had a story, and I do, sort of, but it's stuck in my head, floating around like that bit of spider web that seems to never touch down and hovers just out of reach.

I mean, I don't even have a character name in mind. Old names, yes. Old plots, sure. Things I've started on, but those aren't fair and sort of against the nano rules. But the mind, she is blank. Empty of things like fantasy lines and mysteries to be solved and crimes to be punished and pretty damn well most anything else except for what I finally decided to write about. Something incredibly boring to most folks who walk the realm of fantasy and mystery and spies and magic. I'm going to write about real life. I'm going to write about my oldest and dearest friend. I'm going to write about anger. My anger. Not your anger, not my brother's anger, not my wife's anger... my anger.

I'm thinking I've been needing to do this for a long, long time. I'm thinking that it's a cathartic thing, and, who knows... maybe I'll be able to write about the fuzzy bunnies and maybe bring Bags and Pockets and Grizelda back to life. Doubtful, though... See, that's one of the things that makes me angry, and I'm sure it's gonna make an appearance in the book.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to piss folks off. I'm pretty sure that it might even separate friends. Now, I'm going to try to make sure that those living are not make squickish by this. I might change the names to protect those I'm talking about, but they'll know, and more than likely those that know them will know. So, I may make passing reference to them so that the events that affected me will not point to or include them.

I'm going to try, any way...

On second thought... maybe I will write a story. A semi non fictional story about a guy who, one day, just wakes up angry. Angry at the world. Angry at his parents. Angry at the jobs that fired him and the people behind it. Angry at things done and not done.

I think I'll title it "An angry man" and see where it goes. Maybe it'll be funny. Maybe it'll be sad. Maybe it'll be both of those things. Maybe I'll even make it all the way through this Nano and hit the 50,000 word mark. Let me get started and see where it goes.

The sun broke through the narrow slats of his morning window. Wooden blinds, painted some ungodly dark green by the previous owners of the house, split the hopeful rays of happy light into broken horizontal death rays. One of these rays fell upon his face, slap across his eyes, and waited, waited, waited for his alarm clock to signal the beginning of another drudgery.

John Akins was just a man. Ordinary to the point of being one of those footnotes that read "He was a quiet neighbor".
There wasn't much else to be said about his nature and that pretty much summed it up. He wasn't tall, he wasn't handsome in the 'makes heads turn' sort of way, he wasn't loud or obnoxious. He was just ordinary.

He worked at a hardware store. The sort of store that, as it had for the last fifty years, sold nuts, bolts, screws, paint... all those things that your grandfather's hardware store sold. It didn't sell rugs or tents or things that could be got at the local dollar store. It sold hardware. And that's all.

John's alarm, one of those nine dollar jobs that screeched out it's voice in a crackly electronic imitation of a harpy, cried "Blarp! Blarp! Blarp!" at the top of electronic lungs to let him know it was TIME TO WAKE UP, DAMMIT!

He flashed out one pale arm, snake like from underneath his mound of blankets and slapped the offending beast on the top of it's squat little body, rendering it speechless, at least for the next eleven minutes.

He rubbed what remained of sleep from his eyes and when done, slowly opened them to glare at the clock with it's evil red numbers that reminded him that it was "8:00"... now "8:01 - get a move on slacker".

The hardware store opened at 9 am. An hour was more than enough time to wake, nibble something or other tasteless breakfast bar and make the short three mile trip to spend the next 8 hours greeting customers in a warm, soft baritone voice and advising them that if they needed anything, anything at all, all they had to do was ask.

He rarely made small talk. He wasn't even sure if he knew how anymore. His customers would say about him, "He was friendly, though not overly friendly, helpful, but not intrusive, and he knew his job." And it was true. He left them to their own ends and only checked with them if they seemed to be lost, lacking direction, like tourists in a new town.

The day was mid-summer and it had just started to get hot, with a promise to get hotter and a wink to maybe cool off at nightfall. It was a day exactly like his last marriage.

John swung his legs over the bed and let them dangle. They didn't quite reach the floor, and that was okay, but a bit annoying. He had brought the bed from his mother's house, where she didn't need it anymore.

His mother inconveniently slipped one night on the way to get her last beer of the evening from her tiny apartment refrigerator. As she hit the ground, the locks on her walker snapped and the metal legs wrapped around her body, fracturing the osteoporosis weakened vertebrae that housed the nerves that worked her arms and legs, rendering her immobile.

She lay on the floor for eleven hours. Her help alert button was on her dresser in the bedroom. She never carried it with her, so there was nobody to hear her cries for help. A neighbor boy, an angelic lad who talked to her, helped her carry her groceries, helped her do her laundry, arrived in the morning to see if she was all right that she was discovered. She lived the rest of her life in a nursing home, a talking head.

She still drank, as John and his brother Will, would buy her whiskey and bring it to her. She still smoked, as the attendants at the nursing home would make daily runs for all the patients and would bring her a pack, or if she could afford it, a carton of her Viceroy cigarettes. She was still funny, telling old, bad jokes that she could remember, or making bitingly sarcastic remarks about whoever happened to be on the incessant television. She was still their mom. She just couldn't run or walk like she used to.

She was that way up until the last few years of her life. Then, as time moved on and she realized that she would never, ever be able to walk the hills of home again, she faded, like wallpaper in the bright sun. Her jokes became fewer, her biting remarks dissipated and Betty Ann Akins crawled inside of herself to await the knock of Mr. Bones, who would gently and finally shuffle her off this mortal coil. Mr. Bones showed up ten years later, on October 31st. It was the same day that Harry Houdini died, and proved that Mrs. Akins still had a sense of the dramatic.

John drove a large rental truck to pick up her furniture and any other belonging that he could carry back to his tiny apartment. All the dreams and hopes that his mother had boxed away in pictures and letters and notes and books were shoved, unceremoniously, into this hulking truck of a thing and ushered six hundred miles away to exist with someone else.

That was years ago, before his first divorce, before his second marriage, before the alarm clock Blarped on this sunny, sunny day.

John Akins woke up that day. And he woke up angry.

What he was angry about, had there been anyone around to ask him, was anybody's guess. John himself wasn't sure what he was angry about. He was just angry. He had been angry for years, it seemed. It was how he knew it was time to get out of bed and that sleep would be nowhere near to making an encore appearance. He would lay in bed thinking angry thoughts about betrayal, dishonor, injustice. These would be his morning coffee, his bagel, his eggiemuffin.

This is not to say that John wandered around being mean to people. Quite the opposite, in fact. Oh, his wife and he had the occasional tiff, where words would fly and the air would sometimes turn quite a dark shade of blue and John would always, always end up being the one to apologize. In general, John was a nice fellow to every stranger he met. He was sometimes just as nice to his friends, who all considered John a sarcastic son of a bitch but a guy to have at their backs if they needed someone.

He didn't always go to the cookouts. He didn't always show up at parties. He wasn't always there to paint a house or move a door or re-brick a sidewalk. He was not a good pet sitter. Not the most dependable, in some ways, was John. But he was loyal to a fault and would be there for a shoulder to talk to or to raise a toast to those passed on, or to offer a bit of money if one was short. Not the best of friends, but a good friend, nonetheless.

On this illuminated day, with his wife off at her physical therapy job which started at dark thirty, John woke angrier than normal. He was so angry that he didn't recognize it at first and instead figured it was going to be just another day. A good day. A day when things all worked out all right, because, in truth, they all did.

He didn't shower that morning, because he showered at night. When he lived alone, after his divorce from his first wife and living in his tiny apartment stuffed with the memories and furniture of his mother, he would shower in the morning. He did this because night was unsettling in his apartment. While taking a shower at night, he could hear all manner of things going on in the apartment above him, or next to him or even outside. He stopped taking showers at night because it was easier to keep an eye on the night world and all it contained if he stayed where he could keep an eye on it. It's not that he didn't trust the other denizens of his apartment building. In fact, he trusted them implicitly to be exactly what they were. Denizens. The world moved on and it wasn't always kind or nice.

Now, after his second marriage, he lived in a large, one story house on a cul-de-sac. He knew the house was safe because he had taken measures to make it so. This was his house, or rather as his wife would say 'our' house. And his job, as he saw it, was to keep his family safe and secure. It was that safety that enabled John to shower at night, so his morning would be filled with waking up, rather than lathering up.

On this day, bright and full of portents, he dressed in his khaki cargo pants and red shirt that sported the logo of the store where he worked. He had a name tag which he would snap on right before heading out the door. The name tag hung on a hook next to his keys, so he wouldn't forget it. Lesson learned from past experience. Never forget the name tag.

He tied the laces on his favorite shoes, a pair of white walking shoes that his wife had bought just for him, because she knew he liked to walk and hike in the nearby hills. She bought them at a store that she proclaimed to be 'the only place to buy shoes' and he didn't argue with her. His wife was a strong woman, solid and opinionated and she, like him, had a mind that was hard to change.

He washed his face with Thieves oil hand soap that perched next to the Q-tips and cotton balls on the lavatory and dried his hands and face on a towel that was his and his alone. It was made explicitly clear to him that he had his towel and his wife had hers and he was never to use her towel. It was a thing she had. Once he was certain that his hands and his face and his beard were dry enough, he went to his morning coffee.

He had programmed the black coffee maker to brew two hours earlier. He did this because he liked the idea of having his coffee ready for him in the morning. Brewed, if not already poured, and since there was nobody to pour it for him, he figured pre-brewed wold be the next best thing. The coffee maker was a gift from his wife. She hadn't liked the old coffee maker because it didn't agree with her decor. The new one was black and sleek with chrome buttons and a digital display that not only told you what time and day it was, but also the temperature of the coffee, so you wouldn't burn yourself. The old coffee maker was a 9.99 special at the local wally world and had served him well for thirteen years. The new one came from somewhere else, probably off planet. The instruction manual, which he had to read to begin to understand the coffee maker's arcane workings, came in four languages. English, French, Spanish and Japanese. Or maybe Chinese. He didn't know. English was what he was familiar with, though he occasionally dreamed of speaking Italian.

He poured himself a cup of his pre-brewed coffee, noting that it still wasn't as good as fresh beans ground and gently washing in not quite boiling water. He had drunk coffee once that was so smooth and so right that his palate had never let him forget it. His mind, however was not that sharp, and would not let him remember where he had drunk that miraculous cup.

John had memory issues, you see. At the time of his mother's trip - her fractured spine and all, he was in the process of breaking up with his wife, his girl friend, losing his job, and a few other issues that took his blood pressure through the roof and gave him a stroke. A small stroke. Tiny really. Miniscule to the point of being laughable.

What that stroke gave John wasn't as good as new running shoes or a coffee maker that told you the temperature of water. What John got from the stroke was a two-handed gift.

On one hand, when John was stressed, or when too many bright lights would hit his eyes or if the day was a bit too long or if he was over tired or just because, a process called and Optic Migraine would show up in his brain.

On the other hand, it shredded his mind so that he couldn't remember most things after thirty minutes had passed. He could sometimes remember that thing, that conversation days later, in most cases, if it was important enough and carried enough impression.

John's Optic Migraines wouldn't come with pain, only discomfort. They would take their imaginary long fingered talons and rip long tears from his vision, making the world appear as if seen through horizontal window blinds, quite like the ones in his bedroom. They would make it hard for John to focus on the world as it came rushing at him. He could do and concentrate on ONE thing at a time, and only one, for the duration of the migraine. Said duration being between twenty and forty minutes and always ended with a tiredness that penetrated his brain.

John's memory issues were such that every single day, he had to remind himself how to do simple things. How to tie his shoes. Which way to turn a screw. How to wipe his butt. That may be a funny thing, forgetting how to wipe one's butt, but it's a complex maneuver, requiring balance and the ability to see without seeing, and he had to relearn it every so often, because he would forget. On a positive note, if he was angry at something someone had said, he would generally forget it within thirty minutes, unless it was a thing that carried importance and impression. Those took a bit longer, say a day, maybe two, and then even those would be lost in the caverns of John's mind.

Most things he had no trouble with. How to drive a car. How to type on a computer. His name. To wear his name tag. His wife's name (though, truth be told, he had to remind himself of that from time to time). There were just a few, simple, specific things that he either had to remind himself how to to or relearn the process from discovery.

These were things he never discussed with even his closest of friends. To him, they were just too weird and not things to be believed. They were things open to ridicule or worse, to pity. John, was, for all intents and purposes, a very proud man.

Well, day one ends with 2544 words under my belt. Let's see what tomorrow brings, shall we?
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