Prose

Happy Birthday Jack Kerouac

On March 12, 1922, Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts (which is home to a surprising number of famous figures). Kerouac had a tough start; his older brother Gerard died when little Jack was just 4, his father was an alcoholic and his parents struggled financially amidst the Great Depression. Focusing on the positives in his life, reading and sports, Kerouac earned a football scholarship to Columbia University. Football didn’t pay off when Kerouac broke his leg early in his freshman year, but gaining exposure to the life and culture of New York as a 17 year old proved to be the catharsis for his free-spirited literary career. Kerouac dropped out of Columbia and spent the next 17 years travelling and writing under the influence of sex, drugs and jazz. He came into fame in 1957 when his novel On the Road, a somewhat fictionalized account of his travels supposedly written on a single 120-foot scroll in three weeks, fell into the hands of eager readers.

Historically, Kerouac is credited as one of the fathers of the Beat Generation along with Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. The culture of the day is a subject in and of itself, but it’s his ideas on writing that I’m interested in. (more…)

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The Girl: As Observed from Inside the Refrigerator

Day One: Been empty over a week. Turned to Cold, stinks like Clorox. Hear girl’s voice, she’ll be the one, but it’s dark.

Day Two: Lights on. Girl hefts case of Miller Lite on the bottom shelf, slides it in, grit from floor now on cardboard case, screeches on glass shelf. Later, beer joined by two slices of pepperoni in grease-stained Luigi’s box.

Day Three: Lights on. Holding door open with foot. Then, carton of eggs, gallon of milk, Coca-Cola. Is taking forever. Open, closed, open, closed. Then, chocolate diet shakes, fat free yogurt. Veggies – celery, carrots, cherry tomatoes. Something gross, comes in brick form. Weird.

Day Three/Four: Lights on, dark kitchen. Grabs Coca-Cola, wearing flannel pants.

Day Eleven: Lights on, grabs last chocolate diet shake. Celery smells rancid. Weird brick never used, starting to ooze.

Day Twelve: Milk expired, didn’t drink past handle.

Day Fifteen: Lights on, dark kitchen. Grabs Coca-Cola, wearing flannel pants.

Day Ninety-Five: Lights on, Chinese take-out leftovers. Hear guy’s voice. Later, TV blaring, Chinese eaten.

Day One-Hundred-Two: Lights on, leftover Reuben and fries. Hear guy’s voice. Later, radio blaring, grabs Reuben from container, fries spill, left two dead under Crisper drawer.

Day One-Hundred-Nine: Lights on, leftover Shrimp Scampi. Hear guy’s voice. Later, smiling, grabs Coca-Cola. Later, smiling, grabs Scampi.

Day One-Hundred-Ten: Lights on, naked, grabs cheese. Lights on, adds 7 eggs & half-drunk orange juice. Lights on, adds slimy opened bacon pack. Later, flannel pants, grabs Coca-Cola.

Day One-Hundred-Eighteen: Lights on, he grabs Coca-Cola.

Day Two-Hundred-Six: Lights on forever, tossed all food. Found dead fries. Wiped shelves. Left one Coca-Cola, jar of pickles.

Day Two-Hundred-Seven: Lights on, shopping trip. Lots of frozen food. Can’t tell.

Day Two-Hundred-Fifty-One: Lights on, leftover pepperoni from Luigi’s, garlic bread.

Day Two-Hundred-Fifty-Two: Lights on, takes bite of garlic bread, puts back.

Day Two-Hundred-Sixty: Lights on, leftover fried chicken, eats piece while putting away.

Day Two-Hundred-Ninety-One: Lights on, shoots Reddi-Whip in mouth, puts back.

Day Three-Hundred: Lights on, shopping trip. More chocolate diet shakes. More veggies. Diet Coke. No weird brick.

Day Three-Hundred-Eight: Lights on, he adds Coca-Cola.

Day Three-Hundred-Fifteen: Lights on, she grabs Diet Coke.

Day Three-Hundred-Sixty-Four: Lights on, tosses everything. Wipes shelves. Wipes light. Looks closely at light. Later, he wipes
shelves again.

Day Three-Hundred-Sixty-Five. Dark. All day.

98 x 98 Challenge: Hot & Cold

Microfiction Challenge: 100 words or less

I wanted to write a microfiction piece to submit to Microfiction Monday (yesterday…) and had the idea of using the word cold, because, honestly, it’s literally freezing in Wisconsin! When I finished, I felt like I only told half of a story, so I added “Hot.” I’m curious which is better, or if anyone else is up to the challenge!

Cold

“I’m cold,” he said. He crooked his elbow around my arms—dug his hand between my breasts. He twined his leg over my knee and tucked his heel under my ankle. His face he buried deep in my hair except for his noisy right nostril. His torso pressed skin to skin on my back. I sniffed loudly and shifted my weight. My shoulders pinched in, my arm dangled off the bed, and my head tilted up over his arm, layered with my pillow. I rested, still. He matched my breathing, exhaling warm on the back of my neck.

Hot

“I’m hot,” I said. He pressed the back of his hand to my forehead, shaking off his fingers in mocking as though he’d been burned. My feet and palms were clammy and damp, my sheets and t-shirt and hair clung to my skin. My brain stung and swelled in my skull, my nerves in knots behind my eyes, my limbs heavy and stiff about me. I kicked my comforter, flipped my pillow, rolled over. He brought me a cold glass of water. I sent two chilled gulps down my throat, drenching my dry mouth and cooling my chest.

A Sample Chapter of My Novel

1962

The first time Pop brought Amy to open the bakery was the first time she remembered waking before sunrise.

“Come on, Miss Amelia,” Pop said, as he squeezed her little shoulder over the thick, pink quilt she slept under.
She sat up in bed, her pink striped pajamas pulled up and twisted around her little torso. Pop turned on the lamp next to her bed.

“Get dressed, Peanut. I’ll wait downstairs.”

Amy crawled out of her covers and looked down on Lawrence Avenue from her second story window above the Lincoln Square Post Office. The street was so different without any people on the sidewalk or motors humming, no sunlight glaring in from the windows across the street. (more…)

Terry & Lisa – 2

Terry stared at the barbecued chicken legs roasting on the grill, glistening with thick brown sauce, charred just so near the bones while the hot, tangy smoke surrounded him.

“So Terry, how are ya holding up at Schmidt’s?” Mike asked, interrupting his view by prodding at the chicken with a pair of long barbeque tongs.

“Oh, it’s good. Same old shit.” He took a long gulp from his sweaty bottle of beer.

“Yep, we got it good, don’t we?” Mike grinned as he looked down at the chicken. Mike had Terry by eight or nine years and eighty or ninety pounds. On couples night he always wore large Hawaiian shirts that draped over his round shoulders like a muumuu, with long, loose khaki bottoms that could hardly be described as shorts because they only exposed a few inches of ankle above the Velcro-bound sandals. (more…)

Terry & Lisa – 1

Lisa ran the plump tip of her middle finger all the way around the plate, gliding through the cream cheese mixture to make a perfect ring a half inch inside the edge. Then she sucked her finger clean, just like her mom used to, lips puckered out and away so she didn’t ruin her make up. After a sprinkling of dried parsley flakes, the lid of the “Dip & Go” covered the crab dip and she popped it in the fridge.

Her one-month-to-go belly couldn’t be covered by her pink terry bath robe anymore, as it would gradually peep out from under the belt, tied tight at the band of her bra. At home that didn’t matter, and she smiled when she caught the bump’s reflection in the window of the stove.

“Terry?” she called out softly to the man lying on the couch. Legs crossed, shoes on, he laid with his eyes closed but kept his brows and forehead scrunched tight. “Baby?” She leaned over and softly combed her nails through the curly blonde hairs on his arm.
(more…)