As I’ve gotten older I’ve been finding inspiration in new places. When I was younger and playing a lot more roleplaying games than was probably healthy I would flip through the phone book for character names. The names are often all I needed to craft a fully realized background.
In recent years, I find someone in the bar or restaurant I’m at and I make up a little story about them. Whether or not the story matches closely to their actual life is irrelevant. It was just a thought experiment to help me write better. I had a hard time pulling those ideas out when I sat down at home to write and that brings us to what I’ve been doing lately. Last week I pulled a series of phrases and crafted a short story out of those phrases. It’s not exactly cut up style, but I have found recently that when I’m stuck with where to go I can look at a phrase within the context of the story I’m writing and give it a new meaning. I have found it to be incredibly helpful.
Below is a new piece of flash fiction I wrote using a few phrases I lifted from twitter. It is an original piece apart from the handful of words I used for inspiration.
Criminal turned actor, people called him Jack. Criminal turned actor read well on paper like maybe he turned his life around. “That’s the sound of Thunder.” He said as he lit the blunt.
We were standing next to a bench next to a large gothic church. There were people nearby, all of them focused on their own strangeness. This is where the refuse sleeps, out on these benches. During the day, it is teeming with performers and fortune tellers, but the night was for the unwashed stinking reprobates. My tribe as much as I hated it.
The criminal turned actor said, “Smoke of this blunt for it is my body, drink of this forty for it is my blood.” Jack’s face cracked into a smile, “Is it raining or just moisting?” He looked at the sky in a wistful way. I shrugged unsure of the answer. I hadn’t felt any rain, but the rain came and went with mysterious stealth in this part of the world. He extended the blunt to me. The joint cherry cracked gently as its blazing core decimated the paper. I focused on the smoke rising from it, took the joint and pulled it to my lips. I inhaled deeply and remembered I shouldn’t take such large hits, but it was an old habit.
Jack kept smiled, I couldn’t look at him when I was high. I turned to the others. A homeless man mumbled to himself as I drew in the sweet smoke, “I been here for forty years! Right here! I got them dirty motherfuckers. I got them dirty motherfuckers and I’ll kick your ass! You fucker. I been her forty years. I’ll be here after your gone. You don’t know shit, motherfucker.” The bum’s name was Kermit, like the frog. I knew him. He was my future. I could see it in his wrinkled dry apple face.
“Drink of this forty.” He smiled again.
I finished the phrase, “It is your blood.” He nodded. “I’m going to go.”
He nodded as I tipped the bottle back. The sick sweet beer was warm. I coughed as it washed the back of my throat. “Do you want company?” Jack looked interested in personal time. I told him before I wasn’t interested, but he still tried when we were together.
“Sure.” I responded.
We walked to the river’s edge and stood on the beach passing the bottle between us. The joint was already finished and the effects were starting to fully present themselves. I felt the plush sensation of THC hitting my nerve endings and I felt my face smiling.
There was a snap in the distance as if a firecracker were set off somewhere. “That’s a gun.” Said Jack. He turned to the bank and ran up.
I followed. “Why are we running towards the gunshots?” I asked still grinning.
“Could be something worth seeing.” His eyes sparkled. They were mostly balls of shadow, but there was the tiniest reflection running along the rim of his iris.
I smiled back, couldn’t help myself and for an endless moment I reconsidered his intentions. Another crack broke the spell of darkness and another. “We should get out of here.” I said.
“Okay.” He nodded and we turned back to the lower ground of the beach. I shifted and fell in the loose sand. I felt Jack’s posture change next to me. I picked myself up and saw his back was to me. I was about to speak, but the forty fell from his hand and his body shifted uneasily and he fell forward just to his knees. I moved closer unsure and unwilling to believe what I knew was happening. I stood for a moment and then reached to him. My hand grabbed his shoulder. I couldn’t get any closer.
Another firecracker and I dropped to the ground. Jack still knelt beside me, hadn’t moved. I got to my knees and grabbed at his shoulders, “Stop it.” He said, almost too quiet. He turned to me and I could see what had happened, what I knew had happened. In the yellow sodium light, I was spared the grisly details, but I knew his right eye was gone.
The story ends abruptly because I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to continue it or not. I kind of like ending things this way even if I never pick it up again.
Thank you for reading, and please feel free to submit stories I would love to post more.