Lifting a Curse (Part 3)

Yesterday I woke up early, thinking about the upcoming appointment with my Hex’nmeisterin. I reviewed the last few days’ events to make sure I was ready. I packed everything up in a duffle bag, filled my day with purposeless motion and a late nap, and then finally took off after dinner for the WalMart agreed upon with the Messenger.

I was strangely loathe to speed, and ended up pulling into the parking lot later than expected, though still on time. I parked way out in a row with little cars, lined up with the entry to Outdoor Living. Several rows over, under some trees, there were a number of pickup trucks and old sedans with a bunch of teenagers milling about. The smell of tobacco and the sound of carefree laughter drifted over on the wind. It took me back thirty plus years, to happier days, which was a small but welcome blessing.

This part about going to the bathroom to await the call was weird, but after the long drive, worked out pretty well. I took a leak, washed my hands, and then went into a stall to wait. Since this wasn’t travel on the low-low, I had my smart phone with me, and spent some time catching up on emails. Finally, my phone rang, and the Messenger told me to exit by the grocery area and stand there.

A brown Dodge pickup rolled up as I stepped outside, the passenger window rolled down. “Finnegan?”

I nodded, “Messenger?”

He smiled, “You can call me Isaac. Hop in. Let’s get the supplies from your car.”

Once we transferred the bag, we drove on a bit in companionable silence. “So you’re not going to blindfold me?”

Isaac laughed, “No! Why would you ask that?”

“Well, because you’re driving me to see the Hex’nmeisterin. I assumed it was some kind of secret. Like you couldn’t give me the address or something.”

“No, it’s not like that. The Hex’nmeisterin doesn’t want visitors chust dropping by. It’s invitation only. And she finds people respect her wishes if they have not been invited directly to her place.”

I nodded. That made sense in an old-fashioned way.

In less than 15 minutes we were there, the clouds up high glowing pink while twilight gathered down below. Gravel crunched under the tires as we slowly made our way up the driveway.

The Messenger smiled at me, and patted me on the shoulder. He said, “Go on inside. No need to knock. Now, have heart. Your troubles will soon be over. I’ll wait here.”

I did as he said, and walked into a simple kitchen illuminated by candles. The Hex’nmeisterin was at the table, facing the door, her lips moving as she read to herself. I stood respectfully a moment, waiting with my fedora in my hand.

She finally looked up, “You are Finnegan?”

I nodded, finding it hard to say anything, feeling for all the world like a naughty school kid sent to the principal’s office.

“Have a seat, and tell me your troubles.”

The words came out haltingly at first, but then picked up steam. The Hex’nmeisterin mostly listened, uncannily intent, but would ask follow up questions about timing, location, and dates. She was clearly paying attention, but not just to the surface, but to something below. As I mentioned different specific days, she would consult a battered leather-bound manual full of tables and charts, and make small notes in a newer leather-bound book.

After perhaps half an hour of talking, she had heard enough. She abruptly interrupted, and asked to see the items I had gathered for the breaking of the curse. She inspected each Mason jar carefully and grunted, “I like that you put everything in a jar. It shows the proper respect for the power. And it seems somehow more fitting.”

I blushed at the compliment and mumbled my thanks.

“Now for the mementoes.”

Those were in an age-mellowed wooden cigar box. She opened the lid and carefully inspected the contents without touching them. She smiled and nodded in satisfaction, and pushed the box back over to me.

“Follow me,” she said as she stood up, turned away, grabbed a lantern, and walked out the back door. I quickly grabbed everything and put it all back in the duffle bag, striding double-time to catch up with the Hex’nmeisterin. The sun was completely down now, although the glow of the moon was starting to show against the clouds and in snatches between the trees. Cicadas and katydids were buzzing and chirping, the occasional sound of a bullfrog breaking through the cacophany. We headed out to an old barn. As she opened the door, a wave of heat hit me, along with the smell of smoke. We went to a wooden picnic table nearby, and I set down the duffle bag.

“Pick up some stones, and put them in a pile right here,” pointing to a spot on the table. Bemused, I complied.

“Now pick up another handful, and put them here, however many feel right,” pointing to another spot. I complied. “Now another one, here,” and this went on for some time, until there were sixteen groups of stones.

“Your knife has tasted blood?”

I thought about it a bit, “It was my Dad’s. I’m not sure.”

“The you need to cut yourself. Not a lot, just a little slice.”

I shook my head, not sure whether to be impressed or annoyed, and knicked my left arm against the bone. In a few seconds, blood welled up.

“Now use the tip of the knife to pull stones away from this first group in twos.”

“Pardon?”

“So take the knife, and push two stones from the group. Like this,” taking my hand and sweeping away two stones, “Now you do that until there is either one, or two, stones left.”

“Am I supposed to be counting the stones?”

“No,” she said, smiling, “Chust push ’em away by two until there is either one, or two, left.”

In a moment, I was done, and said, “Two left.”

She took a note, and said, “Now the next pile,” and this went on until all sixteen piles were down to either one, or two stones.

She drew up a chart that looked like dominoes of some sort, and then went on to draw some rows below those, and fill out a complicated chart that was a diamond inscribed inside of a square, with a bunch of lines breaking it up into twelve parts; eight of which were triangles and four of which were diamonds. She filled each one with the domino symbols, which were basically four lines with either one or two dots. She would periodically sigh, or laugh, or shake her head, or cluck her tongue. It was a very impressive series of calculations, but I had no idea where the dots and triangles and diamonds were coming from.

Finally, she said, “This confirms what I thought when you showed me what you brought.”

I waited in expectant silence.

“The objects you brought from the lady adversaries were ephemeral, and passing. A hair and dead flowers. Yet the object you brought from the male adversary was metal. And even though it was old and rusty, it was still strong and did what it had been set to do thirty years ago.”

“So he’s the culprit?!?”

“Indeed he is,” she replied, nodding her head gravely, “And a powerful curse it is that he has placed upon you.”

“What do we do to break it?”

“Let’s go into the barn, and I’ll show you.” The Hex’nmeisterin grabbed her lantern, and we went in. The heat had died down a bit, but it was still stuffy, and soon sweat started on my brown and under my clothes. I looked around, and there were curtains hanging up from the rafters to the right and the left. The heat seemed to be coming from the left. The Hex’nmeisterin walked over to the right, and pulled the sheet to the side, revealing a small altar with a simple cross above it. She did the same to the left, and I jumped in surprise as she revealed a small cast iron Franklin stove that was wrought in the shape of a monstrous Baphomet. Red light glowed from the eyes and thin lines of smoke streamed from the nostrils as well as up the chimney pipe.

She led me to the simple altar, although I couldn’t help but keep looking back at the Baphomet. That motherfuc7er looked ready to attack. She had me open the Gideon’s Bible up to Psalm 109, and then copy it out line by line onto a piece of vellum. When I was done, she said, “Kneel before the altar and read the Psalm, like you mean it.” And I did so, with all my heart poured into it, asking the Good Lord to take away this persecution and turn it upon its author.

“Now we go to Baphomet,” she said, and picked up the vellum that I had so carefully written. She rolled it up, opened up the door to the Baphomet stove, and threw the paper in, intoning, “Oh mighty Baphomet, nothing pleases you more than mischief. Wreak mischief upon Finnegan’s tormentor in the same measure as he is trying to wreak it upon Finnegan!”

She led me back to the altar, and pulled my shotglass out of the cigar box. A bottle of homemade hooch appeared out of nowhere, and she filled the shotglass, “Drink to your health, and to freedom from torment.”

I raised the glass, and complied, “To my health, and to freedom from torment!” It was some kind of homemade distilled liquor, strong with a hint of fruit, and it burned on the way down.

She filled the glass again, and said, “Pour a libation on the floor before Baphomet, to the malady and torment of your enemy.” And I did as I was told.

The Hex’nmeisterin pointed at the rosary and asked, “So you’re Catholic?”

“I am.”

“Do you go to Church?”

“For weddings and funerals. Baptisms. Sometimes at Christmas, or Easter. And now and again when the mood strikes me,” I said, a bit embarrassed, “Oh, and also, if I’m in the slammer, I’ll go to the chapel there on Sunday. Doesn’t matter if it’s Catholic or not.”

The Hex’nmeisterin smiled, “So, you are not completely blameless in the matter of this curse, or in the matter of your enmities. You are motivated by greed, lust, anger, gluttony in liquor. And you’re slothful. If I catalogued the seven deadly sins, you’d have eight or nine of them.”

I hung my head in shame, unable to argue, and she continued, “So I suggest you go find a priest and offer your confession. Especially confess the sins that have generated this enmity with these three. Oh, and don’t forget apostasy, since you don’t go to Church regularly. Now take off your shirt.”

“Beg your pardon?!?” I asked, sure I had misheard.

“Your shirt,” she said with slow and careful enunciation, “Take it off.”
.
I unbuttoned it, and following her gesture, hung it up on a peg.

“Your priest can free your soul of the weight of your sins, performing a spiritual service. But you also need temporal relief from your sins. And it would be just like a priest to let you wallow in the misery you have caused. I intend to expunge the guilt and punishment you have earned here on earth.”

She reached into the cigar box and pulled out my belt. It was black leather, supple and faded after all these years, and it made a sharp cracking sound as she doubled it up and pulled the ends, “I see you are covered in scars on your body. I trust you can hold still as I administer thirteen lashes?”

“I can, if it will end this torment!”

“Then kneel before Baphomet, and put your hands behind your head. It will probably be easier if you link your fingers together.”

She administered the lashes, shouting my crimes at me between blows, “And THIS ONE is for your greed!”, “And THAT ONE is for tearing apart your family!” “That’s for abandoning your children!” On and on it went, the truth of her indictments hurting worse than the cuts and welts that were forming on my back. As a matter of pride, I never cried out, never flinched, never tried to protect my back. Just let her rain the blows upon me.

When she was done, my back was wet from a mixture of sweat and blood. As I put on my shirt, I knew it was ruined. That made me sad, because it was a cowboy shirt embroidered with a steer skull that my sister Mary had bought for me when we were on a trip out to Wyoming a few years back.

I winced a little at the pain, and joked, “So what now? Do I go and sin no more?”

She shook her head, and said, “Maybe your priest will tell you that. But I tell you to go and be no more the fool. You have made enemies unnecessarily, accumulating ill will throughout the decades, across several continents. And now that you’ve settled down in one place, you’ve nowhere else to go unless you run from your troubles again. But something tells me you can’t do that no more?”

“True,” I agreed, “I have fourteen children that I’ve been a horrible father to. I’m trying to make it up to them, by being here for them until they are grown.”

“Then think long and hard on how you live, and how you have made enemies. As for the man, I would recommend avoiding him, and leaving him to the power of the Psalm and the malice of Baphomet. As for the women, you would do well to try to make things right again with them. Barring that, at least turn away their hate. Both have it in their power to harm you.”

We went back to her kitchen, and I gladly gave the Hex’nmeisterin gold and silver ingots in payment for her work breaking the curse and setting me back on the right path. That woman had a spiritual gift, and it was something else to watch her confidently use the objects I had brought to bring me to see the truth. She was almost like a jazz musician, just riffing along with whatever the spirit world brought her.

It wasn’t even ten o’clock when Isaac collected me and drove me back to the WalMart parking lot. I considered going in for some Red Bull and beef jerky, but figured the bloody shirt would attract attention. There was a McDonald’s in the parking lot, so I went to the drive-through instead. Got two double cheeseburgers, pickles only, an unsweet ice tea, and then on the spur of the moment, an Oreo McFlurry. Figured I deserved it after all the pain of being cured of the curse.

And home I drove, the full moon now fairly high in the sky, guiding me home to scotch straight up, a hot shower, a warm bed, and facing a tomorrow with my curse broken and a better life before me.

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Sincerely,

Finnegan

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Small Celebration

Creepers,

Hey, I am gonna post this and then take a day off. While dicking around in my WordPress stats and insights, I noticed that my opus minutus, “Resisting Arrest”, was post number 1001.

It’s hard to believe that someone as irresponsible, reckless and impulsive as Finnegan himself has actually puked out that many posts!

No doubt it’s traditional to write some Deep Insights or even meaningful, thought-provoking Words of Wisdom when such a milestone has been achieved. But you all know me, it’s best to leave all that fine word-mongering to the philosophers amongst us and crack open a fresh bottle of The Macallan.

Slainte, my friends. See you no earlier than Saturday.

Sincerely,

Finnegan

Another Lamentation

Creepers,

As some of you know, I am trying to get a novel published. At least those of you who actually read my stuff. And I’m not talking about those of you who just click “like” on whatever few lines show up in your WordPress feed before you move on to the next schmuck.

And as you know, it’s not been going well. I haven’t had this much rejection since the 7th grade dance. And I’ve not just been sending in drafts, I’ve actually stalked some agents on the Internet and even gone to Manhattan to sit around some of the finer bars and “accidentally” bump into the agents. And I’m not so crass as to run around with a manila envelope, either, and thrust it at them while they try to talk to their friend Donna from Accounting. I try to make nice, pour a few drinks in them, show some interest in what they have to say, and spring it on them back at my Air BNB. At least that’s the general plan for those in that 35-45 age range, decent dye job on the greys and all. Even a few hours of ol’ Finnegan’s company hasn’t gotten me an agent.

All that aside, I am just completely confused by what goes into getting a book published. Let me tell you the latest puzzlement. On a recent trip of mine, I ended up listening to a Jason Bourne book on CD. Yeah, I know, I could just do Audible, but I’ve sworn off the smart phones. They’re loaded with spyware, and they’re the prosecutor’s best friend. But anyway, it was “The Bourne Dominion”, by Eric Lustbader. Read by Jeremy Davidson, and produced by Hachette Audio. I provide this information, not because you give a sh1t, but because this probably now qualifies as a book review as well as a lamentation, thereby building my street cred as a serious literary figure.

Overall, the book was entertaining, and it kept me from going completely batsh1t on a 13 hour ride. When I got to {CITY REDACTED}, I was on the last CD, and drove around a bit to listen to the end. Even though I had to piss like a racehorse. So I liked the book, a lot, but it sure had some WTF moments. The first when was a character was explaining how a secret society, the Severus Domna, brought together East and West, blah blah blah. But this person erroneously said that Iranians were Sunni, and most Arabs Shia. I’ve got reading glasses, but I don’t yet need hearing aids, so I’m pretty sure that was what was said.

Next, a female character had scars on her delivered by a margay that was protecting its young. What is a margay, you may ask? Per Wikipedia, it is an EIGHT POINT EIGHT POUND OCELOT* that inhabits South and Central America. Now, this vicious mauling took place in Colombia, so the location is at least plausible. But there are twelve pound feral cats in my neighborhood, and few of them could maul a squirrel or large rabbit, much less a grown woman.

Next it turns out that the woman who was mauled, who by all appearances was a young native woman, is actually a blond Swede who uses wash-out hair color, skin bronzer and has a temporary tattoo on her ear. And it seems her long-term lover somehow did not notice. I’ve heard of sweat-proof bronzer before, but I mean did he never see her shower? Never get it on with her and at least occasionally get some friction on? And they lived in a jungle…where do you get a never-ending supply of hair color, bronzer and fake tattoos in the middle of a jungle?!?! And how does the character speak English with a slight Swedish accent, but not speak Spanish with a slight Swedish accent?

At that point I just totally WILLED myself to have a willing suspension of disbelief, as the alternative was listening to the radio and changing the station every 5 minutes from country to revival to bad hip-hop. The reward was listening to Jason Bourne beat numerous Russians and secret agents to a pulp, while the Secretary of Defense is being seduced by one of the triplet sisters of the Swede who fought a Margay (don’t ask), and Severus Domna is trying to destroy America’s only source of rare earths, and…..so on. It did make sense at the time. And yes, Jason Bourne did save everyone’s ass in the end.

But I ask you, what the h3ll is going on with the editing process? Obviously Eric Lustbader is a wildly successful author, has published 47 more books than I have, and I couldn’t hold his jock strap. But wouldn’t someone at some point have suggested a panther rather than a margay? Or checked Wikipedia for the main religion of Iran?

There may be a lesson here, but damned if I know what it is.

And here endeth my lamentation.

Sincerely,

Finnegan

*For my international readers, the translation into metric is FOUR KILOGRAM OCELOT.

p.s. Lustbader, if you’re reading this, no offense meant.  I’d be willing to discuss this over coffee with you next time I’m in the city.

What’s in a Name?

Creepers,

So this past year or so I’ve been puking out Six Word Stories, and need your help with something. And that is, the effect of using names. This is a non-trivial question, when it comes to such a literary form. Does the use of a name draw you in? Is it a throw-away? Distract you? Make you wonder about the protagonist’s backstory?

So here’s a specific, to help you weigh in. From February 27:

“Erica didn’t reciprocate Jocko’s heart-rending confession.”

It could also have been said:

“She didn’t reciprocate his heart-rending confession.”

“Erica didn’t reciprocate his heart-rending confession.”

“She didn’t reciprocate Jocko’s heart-rending confession.”

It makes quite a difference, changing the details of up to one third of the story. Yet it is essentially the same tale of alienation, unreciprocated feelings, shift in the balance of power, a changing relationship, and possibly rupture between two people. So does it matter?

And what if the names or social implications of the names were different?

“Manuela didn’t reciprocate Roberto’s heart-rending confession.”

“Jackson didn’t reciprocate Gunney’s heart-rending confession.”

“Elke didn’t reciprocate Ludwig’s heart-rending confession.”

“Imani didn’t reciprocate Adongo’s heart-rending confession.”

“Miho-chan didn’t reciprocate Tanaka-san’s heart-rending confession.”

…and so on.

Does the use of names associated with a certain ethnic group, nation, or profession change the focus from the events to the group, nation or profession?

And last, this was a woman not reciprocating a man’s feelings. I have no doubt it is a much different story if the roles were reversed. Or if the characters were of the same sex. Everyone has pretty much been in each of those positions once, and it would be hard not to project that experience into the events. Since it was a very different experience for the reader each time, the story would be different.

So please let me know what you think. I tend to go with my instinct and use personal pronouns and proper names when appropriate. It doesn’t seem to affect the number of “likes” or comments much. But as I keep working these, it would be great to have feedback on what you think of the use of names.

Thank you in advance for the dozens of comments, likes, reposts, and links back to your high-traffic sites.
Sincerely,

Finnegan

Dreams of Summers Postponed

Creepers,

I’m still working on my writing style, having trouble finding my niche. I’ve previously posted some imitation Hemingway.

See links below.

https://finnegandaley.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/to-half-and-half-not/

https://finnegandaley.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/upon-returning-bad-hemingway-2/

Now it’s on to some bad imitation Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Enjoy.

*********************************************************

Dreams of Summers Postponed

A storm was brewing within the bowels of Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli as he breakfasted on anisette and plantain, inconsolably thinking of the unrequited love of Violante Garbanzo. His mother loudly catalogued the many things she needed to purchase in the market, and pointedly lamented that she would be gone for hours. As she climbed into the sedan carried by a troop of four dour-faced Indians, she instructed Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli to check on the new maid, Maria, to ensure she was cleaning the chambers upstairs and not idling.

Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli stood up from his breakfast, and as usual left a bite of plantains for the iguana that guarded the kitchen. He went to his laboratory and desultorily lubricated his astrolabe with the oil of radish he had bought from the itinerant Portuguese merchant, Simao Carvalho. Upon deciding that his bowels would not move that morning, he resolved to inspect the Maria’s work, then write a love letter to Violante Garbanzo.

He found the maid in his room, happily humming to herself as she cleaned. She was standing on his bed reaching high with her feather duster to clear the top of his painting of the eruption of Vesuvius, her short tunic tucked into her girtle, exposing her girlish curves. With a start, she turned, and exclaimed, “Don Machiavelli! You startled me!”

“Maria,” he nodded in greeting. He paused, and added, “Have you no underwear?”

“Yes, Don Machiavelli, but today is Tuesday, and my grandmother is doing the wash.”

Maria stepped down from the bed, and pulled the mop from the bucket. She began to clean her side of the room, bending far forward to reach beneath the bed. As she got on her knees to wring the mop into the bucket, her tunic reached the floor, wetting the edges.

“This is my only clean tunic until the wash is dry!” she cried, and hastily stood up to take it off. She hung it carefully over the chair of Don Claudio Rapahelo Machiavelli’s writing desk, and returned to work. “I will be done soon,” she added, and proceeded to make quick work of the floor, now there was no danger of soiling her clothes.

When she finished, she said “Don Machiavelli, I will need to fluff your sheets. Your mother wishes for you to sleep comfortably, for she knows you have been suffering insomnia these hot nights. Can you get into bed?”

“Certainly,” Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli replied, climbing into bed and laying on his back, thinking of Violante Garbanzo.

Maria was quite surprised. “Do you sleep in your laboratory clothes then? No wonder you have insomnia.”

“Of course not,” Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli responded, “I sleep in my underwear.”

“Then please get in your underwear so you can be comfortable.”

As Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli undressed, Maria took his laboratory clothes and carefully hung them in the wardrobe. He laid back in the bed, and Maria ruffed his sheets in the air, and laid them carefully over his body, starting at his feet and bringing them up to his chest several inches at a time. She straightened them out and patted them flat on his body.

“Are you comfortable?”

Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli thought a moment and said no.

“It’s too hot in these summer months,” Maria responded, and quickly pulled the covers off. She thought a moment, and said, “There is always a night breeze. Close your eyes.” Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli complied, and he felt Maria leaning in over his belly. She gently blew through pursed lips across his stomach, up to his chest, down his right leg, and up his left leg. Her breath had the fresh smell of camellias and lightly fermented cane liquor.

“Are you comfortable now, Don Machiavelli?”

“That’s better,” Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli assented, for the cool air made him think of nights watching outside the window of Violante Garbanzo.

Maria thought a little longer, then suggested “When you sleep, you dream. And dreams come to you as light as a feather.”

She sat on the bed next to him, and ran the feather duster slowly and lightly across his torso and legs. After several moments, she asked, “Are you comfortable now, Don Machiavelli?”

After a pause to think, Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli answered, “Perhaps.”

Maria said, “As I sit on the edge of the bed, it leans to one side and perhaps you are anxious you will fall off.” She climbed over him and lay next to him. After a moment, she said, “Perhaps dreams come to you not as a feather, but as a hand of the divine.” She lightly stroked his face and massaged his scalp. As he relaxed, she proceeded to knead the muscles of his chest and thighs.

After twenty minutes, she said, “Don Machiavelli, they say you are a great writer of love letters. Can you tell me what you write? For I am but a lonely and unmarried woman who lives with her grandmother, and I want to learn very much about the love of a man for a woman.”

Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli thought of Violante Garbanzo, and he began to declaim upon the loveliness of first love, and the torments of desire, and how sweet love makes a guava taste, and the thousands of things he had learned through his years of love from afar.

Maria nestled against him, and said earnestly, “Don Machiavelli, you must learn to whisper these things into an ear, for the way to a woman’s heart is from the words she hears, not the words she reads. We will learn together.”

And so Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli redoubled his efforts, pouring a torrent of impassioned phrases into Maria, a jumble of poetry he had written and fine words from the finest writers of Old and New Spain, rounded out with Shakespeare and Donne.

After the storm of words died out and they lay in silence, Maria asked, “And when does a man give a woman kisses, Don Machiavelli?”

“When the woman is ready,” Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli answered solemnly.

“And how does the man know?” Maria asked, stroking his chest and breathing swiftly with the excitement of this new information.

“Love tells him,” was Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli’s assured reply, content in the knowledge that he would recognize the signs when he was alone with Violante Garbanzo.

They lay in bed in silence until the bells tolled for noon-time Mass, and Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli stood up and congratulated Maria on her good work in his room that day. She begged him to promise her that he would instruct her further in the arts of love, at least on Tuesday when his mother was at the market. Don Claudio Raphaelo Machiavelli, inspired by the practice, whole-heartedly agreed, and provided discourses to his eager pupil on the theme every Tuesday until the season of the rains began.

***********************************************

That’s it for now; GGM is a new found author crush for me, and I hope this little work did him some justice.

Sincerely,

Finnegan

Favor For Finnegan

Creepers,

As we approach Thanksgiving and the long slide into the holidays, agents everywhere are going to close up shop, leaving the hapless yet earnest intern from Cincinnati in charge of answering the phone and telling people their precious tome is Under Consideration. While the agents swap snarky stories over drinks at the White Horse Tavern or Kettle of Fish about the worst submissions of the year, their slush pile will be growing to the point where they will ponder the cleansing aspects of arson that first morning back in January.

You gotta help jump-start me for the new year. Some of you are new followers, some of you are long time fans, and I appreciate all you do. However, the comments are few and far between on my draft books. It’s the tyranny of WordPress, most likely. The latest keeps popping up in the feed, and it’s quick to savor the eye candy and “Like” a story, because there’s more to read, while getting your own stories and points across. Not to mention your own comments to moderate. And if you don’t check out the banner the first time you check out a site, it’s not likely you’ll come back.

Let’s face it, you’re probably reading this due to dissatisfaction with your job, your family, your friends, your life. Getting on WordPress is an escape, an outlet. This is my offer; a chance to escape into becoming part of a Literary Moment, where a dishevelled and lost soul in the twilight of his later middle age is unexpectedly propelled onto the New York Times Bestseller list and becomes the scary uncle no one from the establishment wants to make eye contact with at all the finer cocktail parties in Manhattan. Wearing an inappropriately large gold chain over a silk Armani t-shirt, and a bespoke leather blazer from Impero, I promise to continue my offensive ways while conducting erudite-sounding discussions about the meaning of it all with an eclectic assortment of failed playwrights and other men’s trophy wives. People will be talking about this for years. And when I finally pass away, I will leave strict instructions to my executors to provide a lurid and horrifying fable that will thrill and delight the public for years, even if I simply have a massive coronary while watching a Cleveland team in the playoffs.

So here is what I am asking. RIGHT AFTER READING THIS, click the links below to get to my project, and let me know what you think. I do promise to take all advice kindly and to the maximum extent possible, because this authorousness is well beyond my natural abilities. It won’t be like Wikipedia, where you can change the d@mn thing as you go, but it will be literary crowd-sourcing at its finest. We’ll make the grade together. I’ll make my millions, and you will be able to say you knew me when and helped me get there.

https://finnegandaley.wordpress.com/the-project/

https://finnegandaley.wordpress.com/step-one-choose-the-book/
Most Sincere Thanks in Advance,
Finnegan

Finneganapolis 500

Creepers,

So WordPress shocked me the other day by letting me know I had made by 500th post. I try to look back and imagine what I would have thought if you had told me back in January of 2015 where this blog would be today. There are a few inescapable conclusions.

First, I would be in utter shock that I am still plugging away with maybe 5 of you target audience members reading this on a regular basis. My most conservative estimates had my audience in the 50,000-60,000 range at this point, and the guys from Audible would be waiting to speak to me in the foyer while PJ O’Rourke would be finishing up his interview over Macanudos and single malt Islay. My site would be professionally run by some discount PR firm from Bangalore. I love you guys (and by this, I mean you five), but for f*ck’s sake make like loaves and fish and multiply already. Go out and get me some more followers. It’s completely unfair that I’m doing all the work around here.

Second, I would be surprised at the volume of 500 stories. Back in 2015 I wrote rambling vignettes about how it was settling in to life on my heavily armed compound in the US South. So I would have thought maybe 100 stories would be out there at the most. Fifty years from now, hipster college kids may be combing through those for quotes to get tattooed in banners around their biceps. But for now, they stand largely unread, mostly as a gold mine to re-post occasionally when I’m on a bender or low-low trip to Sub-Saharan Africa. The whole Six Word Story thing was a godsend, one that makes my tepid output at least moderately respectable. It may be window dressing, but at least I’m dressing the window.

Third, this whole blogging thing is fun. I never thought I’d say this, as my general notion of fun involves danger, the ability to quickly calculate odds, a reasonable volume of ethanol, and at least one member of the fairer sex. But sitting down and putting my thoughts down to writing, and getting responses back, is more enjoyable than I thought it ever would be. While my march to fame and fortune is looking ever more exorable, it’s still a march I still intend to make to its bitter end. Might as well enjoy the company as I go. And for that, the pleasure of your companionship, I do offer my sincere thanks.

Sincerely,

Finnegan