Sunday, February 8, 2009

A New Story! A New Story!

Behold! My very first attempt at drawing a dinosaur. This was back in the days when Gregory Paul was suggesting that small theropods may have been feathered and everyone formed a circle around him, pointing and hooting and saying, "Get a horse! It'll never fly!"

I had my doubts but I wanted to try drawing one.

I came upstairs this morning with every intention of continuing the skeletal diagrams for my Psitaccosaurus neimongoliensis. Instead, I wrote a new short story.

For the last while we've had some critter -- either squirrels or raccoons -- stockpiling chunks of concrete on the roof outside my studio. I've joked to my music buddy that someone's trying to make the jump to a paleolithic culture.

This came up in conversation with the new writer's group on Thursday and it dawned on my that I've written two stories with the same characters and setting that used other whimsical SF notions -- I think of the series partially as a dumping ground for those kinds of stray thoughts. I've mentioned this in my blog at other times.

Well, this morning my narrative function made the little ping noise that mean's a story is ready to write.

These stories are old-school short fiction. This one in particular had John Collier and Saki whispering in my ear while I worked.

Here's a taste. I'll let you know when it finds a home.
Procyon habilis

Like I said, I always get into trouble at Gary’s.

I sighed loudly enough to let Gary know that I was doing him a favor and got up.

“Hoss, this is Heather. Heather, my man the Hoss,” Gary said.

I smiled and nodded. “Heather.”

Heather smiled back – big worried eyes and a thin tight smile -- and reached her hand up. “Hoss,” she said.

I took her hand gently – I’m always wary of using a firm grip – and kept my eyes on her face as we shook. Her dress was cut low and I couldn’t help but imagine myself falling face first into her pillowy cleavage. Poof.

I scooted into the booth. The scuffed leather-covered padding on the bench was thin and the space between the table and the walls was narrower than I found comfortable and Heather and I were entirely too close to one another.

When I looked up I caught Gary staring at her. “I’ll have your drinks in a second,” he said, and went back to the bar.

Heather picked up her glass and licked at the salt on the rim, looked at me as though inspecting a piece of livestock. The silence went on forever, so long that I actually jumped when she spoke up.

“So you got any kids?” she asked.

“Nah,” I said. “I love ‘em but I can never finish a whole one.”

Heather giggled. I wasn’t sure she was really amused – she seemed worried. “Maybe that’s what I should do with mine, just put him in the oven.”

“Kids are great,” I said, “I used to work at a day care center when I was in high school. I love kids, I’m pretty good with them, but I just don’t want any of my own.”

Gary set our drinks down on the table; another margarita, my stout, and a double of something amber.

“I know you like your whiskey,” he said to me. “Since the lady’s paying I figured I’d give you a taste out of my private bottle.” He looked hard at Heather as he spoke and his statement sounded obscene – I’d like to give you a taste out of my private bottle.

“Well, thanks to both of you,” I said, and Gary pulled away reluctantly.

Heather lifted her glass. “To kids.”

“To the health of your boy,” I said, and we clinked glasses. There was something about this whiskey, something richer than usual, and I realized that it wasn’t watered.

Then Heather scrambled for her purse, sniffing loudly. Her eyes shone with tears as she pulled out a Kleenex and dabbed at her face. “I just don’t know what I’m going to do with him, Hoss.”

I took another gulp before I spoke. “What’s wrong?”

“He’s… Jason’s in with a bad crowd,” she said.

“You mean like a gang?”

She shook her head. “No. Well, sort of.” And then she laughed through the tears and the sound made me think of ripped cloth.

“What do you mean?”

Heather blew her nose and wiped at her lip for long seconds before she replied. “They’re raccoons.”

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