My story “Kiss Off” is now live at Emprise Review.

My story “Kiss Off” is now live at Emprise Review.

How do these things happen, I often wonder. Maybe I was issued a challenge, maybe I was just listening to Pandora one day and an old Violent Femmes song came on and I thought “Damn, this is a good song.” As I nodded my head and started to recite the lyrics, these classic alternative indie lyrics from many years ago, I also thought, “This would make a good story.” Here are the original lyrics, in their entirety with the part that I stole from in bold:

I need someone a person to talk to
Someone who’d care to love
Could it be you could it be you
Situation gets rough then I start to panic
It’s not enough it’s just a habit
Hey kid you’re sick well darling this is it
You can all just kiss off into the air
Behind my back I can see them stare
They’ll hurt me bad but I won’t mind
They’ll hurt me bad they do it all the time
Yeah yeah they do it all the time
Yeah yeah they do it all the time
Yeah yeah they do it all the time
Yeah yeah they do it all the time
I hope you know this will go down
On your permanent record
Oh yeah well don’t get so distressed
Did I happen to mention that I’m impressed
I take one one one cause you left me and
Two two two for my family and
3 3 3 for my heartache and
4 4 4 for my headaches and
5 5 5 for my lonely and
6 6 6 for my sorrow and
7 7 for no tomorrow and
8 8 I forget what 8 was for and
9 9 9 for a lost god and
10 10 10 10 for everything everything everything everything
You can all just kiss off into the air
Behind my back I can see them stare
They’ll hurt me bad but I won’t mind
They’ll hurt me bad they do it all the time
Yeah yeah,yeah they do it all the time
Yeah yeah,yeah they do it all the time
Do it all the time
Do it all the time
Do it all the time time time
Yeah yeah they do it all the time

This whole song resonates with me, it always has. It’s a story of angst, of the world not being fair, of the bullshit and violence and randomness that not only shadows our youth, but the adult world as well. The opening lines of this song, they haunt me to this day. “I need someone, a person to talk to, someone who’d care to love. Could it be you?” Isn’t that what we all say, we all want? Sure it is.

So, I took the ten parts and tried to imagine a scene where a man who is falling apart, he says these things to himself, he is talking to himself. He’s talking to the world. He has talked himself into ending it all, but maybe, at the end of it, when the lights are fading and he feels that maybe there is something left to cling to, he tries to change his situation. He won’t be the victim yet once again. But, as it often is in life, maybe it’s too late. I hope you enjoy “Kiss Off.”

Thank you, Amber Sparks for always supporting my work and for taking this story at Emprise Review. If you didn’t know it, I’ll tell you now that not only is Amber a great editor, but one hell of an author as well. Also, thanks to Patrick McAllaster for his excellent editing too, he caught some things that got by me.

There is more excellent fiction in this issue by Amye Archer, Joe Kapitan, Jon Morgan Davies, Marko Fong, Steven R. Gowin, Todd McKie, Brian Mihok, Garrett Socol, and Angela Woodward. Check it out when you get a second.

My review of Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill is now live up at The Nervous Breakdown.

Maybe you’ve never heard of Frank Bill. Well, open them damn ears, son. I just went to the release party for Crimes in Southern Indiana down in Corydon, Indiana. Yes, I dragged Chris Deal, Livius Nedin and Robb Olson with me. Yes, there was a fifty foot sign that said HELL IS REAL about halfway down. YES, it was pouring rain as we entered Corydon, not a cloud in the sky, exploded dear parts on the side of the road. I can’t say I was shocked. Frank is a great guy, and one hell of an author. This is a visceral collection of gritty stories. And anybody that can pull Donald Ray Pollock, Matthew McBride, Scott Phillips, Jedediah Ayers and Kyle Minor to his reading, well, he must be doing something right. Read my review over at TNB for all of the details.

Cemetery Dance – stories, contests and things that go bump in the night.

So, my buddies over at Cemetery Dance are having a contest. They’re giving away a lot of books. Why not help them get the word out about one of my favorite presses. Sure, I published a story “Stillness” in Shivers VI with some hacks named Stephen King and Peter Straub. So what? I’ve been buying books from these guys for years – beautiful signed, limited editions. Magazines with work by some of the best in the business. And they couldn’t be nicer people. Brian James Freeman has been a great friend, supporter of my work, and generous editor and author. Richard Chizmar is a fantastic editor with a real eye for talent (see what I did there?). Norman Prentiss is a great editor and writer as well. Support one of the best indie horror presses around.

My review of Short Bus by Brian Allen Carr is live at The Nervous Breakdown.

My review of the short story collection, Short Bus by Brian Allen Carr is now live at The Nervous Breakdown. This is a wild bunch of stories set along the Texas and Mexico border. Carr takes the essence of wanderlust mixes it with the desert heat and tosses in a bit of failure with just a pinch of heartbreak to create a compelling volume of work. Head over to The Nervous Breakdown for the full review. Good stuff.