Monthly Archives: February 2017

Fogy Lovers

This was a story that I wrote from today’s writing prompts in the Midtown Writer’s Group. I like how it turned out.

midtownwritersgroup

Author’s Note: This story is a bit of a stretch assignment for me. I rarely venture into erotic fiction, but today’s characters and writing prompts led me in that direction. I’ve italicized the writing prompts so you can follow the glide path of the story. Please judge kindly – Thanks.

You would think that investing your life in a neighborhood or community for 27 years would get you somewhere, but with the recent string of drug arrests made, Vidalia’s home value plummeted. It was time to sell the house and move to a condo, but to even get a reasonable price, the house needed repairs.

Out of the fog, there emerged a balding man with a tool belt and a toolbox. He wasn’t much to look at, so he went largely unnoticed. He performed maintenance at the low income high rise, but with so many tenants returning to prison…

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Poisonous Snakes Frozen in the Mountain

Last night, I had a dream where I was travelling with the Top Gear guys, excuse me “Grand Tour” guys: Jeremy, James and Richard. We were in a mountainous region and I think I was working as part of the camera crew, like a grip or something. I was holding reflectors and carrying battery packs while they were being filmed for various segments in the morning. We were either in the Alps or the Pyrenees. It was late spring and it was sunny and pleasant. By the afternoon, shooting had wrapped for the day and I was free to go for a walk along the mountainside.

I climbed one of the mountains up to the snowline. As I got closer to the snow line, I began to notice lots and lots of what I thought were dead snakes. I carefully stepped around them to get closer to the ice and snow of a melting glacier. I could hear the melting babble of a nearby brook as the glacier melted beneath the warm sun, the gorgeous blue sky and a couple of stray white whispy clouds.

The glacier was fascinating. Snakes were frozen inside of the ice. Lots of snakes. Big snakes and small snakes. As the glacier melted, tails and heads and various parts of snakes emerged from the ice, all seemingly dead.

As it happens, I like snakes. I looked around and I began to realize that most of these snakes were poisonous. Most were asps or rattlesnakes, but there were also a few coral snakes. I even saw an anaconda frozen in the glacier.

As I studied the snakes in the ice, I saw some stray movement out of the corner of my eye. First the tail of one snake, then another, started wriggling in the ice, trying to free themselves. I looked down the mountain and some of the snakes were slowly starting to move. It was time to get out of there. I carefully crept my way around the awakening poisonous snakes and, once clear, I started running down the mountain towards the chalet. Running down the mountain, I turned and to my horror, the snakes were chasing me!

I reached the chalet and climbed the stairs to the deck. A coral snake and a few asps were still behind me and climbing the stairs. On the deck there were 3 white poofy Maltese or Pomeranian dogs barking and jumping towards the snakes. I tried to open the sliding door to get in to the chalet, but it was stuck. The little dogs were going ballistic on the snakes and were holding them successfully at bay for a time. Little by little the sliding door was cracking open. That was when I got bit twice – once on my right ankle and once on my left knee. It was painful, but I was panicking to get in and hardly noticed.

I made it in, but I was struggling to the close the door. I was panting and my breath was short. I was starting to sweat. I collapsed on the floor and one of the asps got in. Someone from housekeeping noticed me, grabbed a broom and brushed the snake outside, but not before it bit me on the right shoulder. The person with the broom got the door shut. One of the dogs had made it back inside and started licking my face. I could hear the other dogs barking. My heart was pounding and I was struggling to breathe.

“Stay calm. I’m getting help,” the housekeeper guy said. I could feel my blood thickening and my heart struggling to pump the blood syrup though my body. My mind travelled back to the image of all those snakes in the ice, wriggling to get free and that’s when I woke up.

The Revolution Will Be Built With Questions

These are ______ times. Some of my friends are filled with joy and optimism, while aggravated by the dire apocalyptic prophecy and protest of the majority of the rest of my friends. It is very polarizing with neutrality, consensus and dialogue being hard to come by.

 

I share in the belief that we are entering an apocalyptic period for mankind, where our environmental protections are dismantled, our ability to collectively work for the benefit of our families and community will be hampered, our education and economic power will be stripped from us by those entrenched in power, and everything we hope to accomplish and work hard towards will be dashed to pieces by great forces beyond our control, such as our government or the changing climate. For the first time since I was a toddler, we could have nuclear war. Woe upon us all.

I discovered my own powerlessness when I protested against the impending Iraq War back in 2003, knowing that the evidence for war was falsified and that the wool was being pulled over the eyes of the nation and that global sympathy for 9/11 was going to be squandered pointlessly for a personal vendetta in the middle east. A new generation is just now coming to this realization as the United States swings back the pendulum to, whatever this is. This is their Iraq War moment and they are just now coming to terms with their own powerlessness, whether it was the loss of Bernie Sanders or the election of Donald Trump as the leader of the world.

 

Powerless does not mean hopeless. Donald Trump won because he saw and understood things differently from how urban liberals do, myself included. The institutions that we established to understand and manage the world are disintegrating, the founding premises forgotten and challenged. Donald Trump is the wind that knocks down the sheds, scattering tools, debris and seed across the farm in the aftermath of a political tornado.

 

If protest doesn’t work and political engagement doesn’t work, what is left?

 

Let me take you back to a similar time – the 5th Century BCE in Athens. Athens was an amazing city and had successfully defeated the armies of Persia with the help of other Greek city states, such as Sparta. However, after the successful defense against Persia, Athens was defeated by Sparta, leading to significant political upheaval. Not to give away any spoilers for those of you who haven’t read Plato, but there is this guy named Socrates and he asks a lot of questions. Ultimately, in the end, Socrates starts a movement and ends up being brought on trial for “corrupting the city’s youth” with his teachings. He is condemned to death, which turns him into a martyr and modern philosophy, knowledge and, eventually, science is born. One could draw parallels between the Peloponnesian War and the cold war; the defeat of Athens by Sparta to the War on Terror.

 

Where am I going with this? My point is that the best challenge to our current period of facts, alternative facts and fake news is to ask questions. It is really easy to declare something wrong, whip up a bunch of emotion and move on, but the real trick isn’t convincing yourself or your disciples that you are right. You need to convince your opponent. In order to do that, you need to embark on the premise that your opponent believes what they say. Next, draw them out with questions. Break things down to smaller pieces or take the factoid on a journey and see if you arrive at similar conclusions. Ask the why, what, who and how.

In reading Plato, you discover that Socrates uses his question as a tool. He doesn’t just say, “You’re wrong,” but asks, “What do you mean by that? Is that like this other thing?” and so forth. You can guide your questions to a conclusion. Leading questions. Direct examination questions. Cross-examination questions. True or false questions. This forces all involved to look closer at what is going on and arrive at better knowledge. So spend more time asking questions once you get tired of protesting and advocating.

 

As an aside: When I first read Plato, I didn’t like Socrates. I thought he was a jerk. He just kept destroying people and they things they believed in. Nevertheless, Socrates definitely opened my eyes to the power of his tool – the question.