Joe McCarthy at the Aleph Cafe or, A New Book Release

There’s nothing like waking up to the sound of two kittens defying gravity in your bedroom before sunrise as they try to pinpoint the source of scratching coming from outside. So, here I am. It’s after 6:30 AM and by now the kittens have fallen asleep again. This is a horrible segue, but I have a new book out, Aleph Cafe: Stories. It’s my first story collection. Many of the stories appeared elsewhere first. A few others are new. Here’s the back cover copy:

“Among the stories in the this collection, a man with his marriage in trouble, meets the ghost of a famous writer in a cafe and gets over writer’s block; a gambler with a knack for losing can’t stay dead for long, much to the chagrin of his bookie in 1920s New Jersey; a boy recalls watching a neighbor play chess against a stranger who just may be the devil come to collect the old man’s soul; against her family’s wishes, a young girl climbs the tallest tree in her town, glimpses a fairyland, and pays the ultimate price; and a teen girl divides her time between being institutionalized and navigating her new neighborhood where she learns a heartbreaking lesson about people moving on in life.”

Another book coming down the road is my semi-autobiographical novel Rejoice for the Dead. Once upon a time, as the fella says, it existed as a slightly different work, typed, one copy only, that was thrown out by an ex. Looking back, it was the best thing really. The new improved version is much better.

I don’t have much else this morning, owing to the events in Washington DC a couple of days ago. What happened at the Capitol Building is unconscionable, something that scarred America for good. If you made it this far and support the deplorables who perpetrated these crimes then you can stop reading now.

There are plenty of maxims and quotes one might use here. Instead, I will say this: while that orange-skinned psychopath in the White House certainly enticed his cult following to storm America’s house, the mindset in earnest began during the era of McCarthyism when intelligence became suspect and intellectualism looked up with suspicion. I’m sure the ghost of Joe McCarthy creamed in his spectral shorts.

Alas, democracy, though fragile, will endure. The beat goes on. In the interim, do check out my latest work. It’s full of stories that will take you away from this present reality and provide the break you need.

8 Stephen-King-Inspired Short Stories I Intend to Write (Or Die Trying)

Like many people, I grew up reading Stephen King. Then I went to college where my literature professors pooh-poohed the Master of the Macabre. Still, I hold King in high regard because he was a part of my adolescence as much as Journey and Jordache Jeans were. Now, I’m older. I rarely listen to Journey, and I no longer wear Jordache Jeans. I am a writer which explains my aversion to fashion as well as bands that should have retired long ago. One difficulty in being a writer, at least for me, is that there just isn’t enough time to get down on paper all the stories that create a tempest in my head 24-7-365. So, I’m starting lists. The following is one such list: eight short stories inspired by Stephen King that I intend to write one day.

1. The Thing In the Basement: A tale concerning a man named Dale Cobb who returns to his elderly parents’ home to find an old bicycle behind the furnace. Dale’s parents are hoarders. They have kept all of his belongings, including the old bicycle upon which a much younger Dale nearly killed himself several times. After reliving four such near-death episodes in flashback, the adult Dale takes the bicycle out for a ride. Since it’s a King-inspired story, it will, inevitably, be Dale’s last bike ride.

 2. Floor 666: High-powered art dealer Roland Joyce finally leases the office space he’s always wanted, but he’s not the only tenant on his floor. Across the hall from Joyce’s practice is an export firm: INRI, LTD. Joyce thinks he knows who runs the mysterious export firm, and he’s not about to be upstaged by the Jewish carpenter across the hall.

 3. Bareback Tough Guys: The afterlife is hard, even for literary greats Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mailer. This is a tale about what happens when bitter men let love lead the way. This one will be a tough sell, what with all the ensuing depravity borne from pent-up frustrations.  

 4. Clean-Up in Aisle 9: Did I mention the man-love tryst between Hemingway and Mailer in the afterlife takes place inside a supermarket at night? Well, it does. Linoleum, as it turns out, is a natural stimulant for the dead. This tale would be Part II of Bareback Tough Guys. Each morning Randy Wentzer, the supermarket manager, gets to work early to find a mysterious substance in aisle 9. Naturally, he blames his lethargic overnight shift employees for the ectoplasmic bio-hazard.  

 5. Luck Be A Lizard Tonight: Joe Flagstaff, a degenerate gambler, meets a mysterious woman who gives him an invite to a high-stakes card game. When Flagstaff arrives at the address the woman gave him, he soon discovers that the players are all out of this world. No one plays for money. What’s at stake is Flagstaff worthless life, and one of the aliens at the table has taken a particular shine to the human player.

 6. Balls to the Wall: German heavy metal stars Eisen Hog visit an old castle in Bavaria for a photo shoot only to find a ghostly festival in-progress. Before the night is over, Eisen Hog members must dance the Schuhplattler or face an eternity among the castle’s ghostly inhabitants. Sharing in a rich tradition of folk dance would seem an honor, but not for these metal heads. They couldn’t slap their own shoes if their lives depended on it.

 7. Southie-pocalypse: An army facility is compromised by home-grown terrorists. In the wake of the attack, a manufactured virus seeps from its damaged container and spreads across country. Before long, even the most well-articulated, intelligent people turn into wicked igits.

 8. A Prickly Pear: A fruit vendor unwittingly sells an exotic fruit rumored to contain natural aphrodisiacs that is grown on land that was once a potter’s field where the criminally insane were buried. Before long, customers discover that the pears shoot poisonous darts into their mouths. Hilarity ensues.
 

%d bloggers like this: