These are various short stories I have written over the years finally finding a home. Some have grown from kernels I nurtured over time, some from nuggets of real-life that I put a “what if?” twist on, and some have come full-blown into existence from that magnificent large intestine of creativity, the subconscious. (Actually, that was gross. Ew.)
Before each, I give a short introduction of the genesis of the story to shed a little light on the process and the different roads each story may or may not have taken in being born.
I hope you enjoy them. I sure enjoyed writing them.
I wandered in one night and found my father-in-law watching 8 SECONDS, the biopic of rodeo legend Lane Frost, who died in his final ride, starring Luke Perry in the lead role. I kind of laughed and inwardly scoffed at the movie; I’d never watched or wanted to. (It actually turned out to be pretty decent.) But as I sat and idly passed the time watching the film until my daughter’s bedtime, I started paying attention and my mind wandered into that so-small-you-could-almost-miss-it crack in reality that Rod Serling was always talking about.
The image of an old, washed-up cowboy, nearing the end of his trail standing in a darkened arena, facing down a bull possessed by a demon hit me square in the brain pan and wouldn’t let me go for the next twenty-four hours (That scene actually remains in the story). The next night, I sat down and wrote the first draft of The Last Ride of Charlie Daggett, originally titled “The Devil Rides.”
I didn’t know much (and still don’t) about the professional rodeo, but as I began to research rodeo cowboys, I had to admit that anybody who’d climb onto the back of six-hundred pounds of beef and dodge horns the size of rhino tusks has solid brass ones.
Even if the bulls aren’t possessed by a minion of Satan.
This story began as a cathartic (I hate that word, but there it is) exercise in blowing off steam after my “employer” at the bookstore verbally body-checked me for being three minutes late.
Needless to say, the rest of the day was a sour one, so I built a story instead of going Vesuvius. It was a world where the fecal matter had hit the air-circulation device and in the aftermath, corporate jagoffs had basically taken over everything. In this nightmare reality, everyone worked for “the company,” a faceless, soulless entity that rationed out basic foodstuffs and necessities as “salaries,” but also “docked their pay” when they showed up even a minute late, no matter what they went through to get there.
I jotted down everything in my head at lunch (God forbid if it’s on the clock), then later wrote out the story and edited it several times, and RAT RACE was the result. It was one-part Orwell and three-parts Mad Max–at least that’s how my wife described it.
I wanted to experiment with economy–to use a short, curt writing style to try to make the action quick, the dialogue clipped, and the plot as linear and straightforward as possible to lend speed and a sense of urgency to the story—two things pointed out by my “manager.” Some of Richard Matheson’s earlier work was like that, and pretty much all of Raymond Chandler’s. Basically, I wanted a story where I could trim the fat and see how much meat I could keep on the bone.
But mostly it was a big, honkin’ middle finger to snotty bosses everywhere.