Saturday, December 18, 2010

Letter from a friend

A friend of mine (finally) read Bad Attitude (when did I publish that, 2007?) and wrote me this little review. I like hearing what people think of my books, whether they like it or not (as in this case.) Anyway, I thought I would share it with you:

I just wanted to tell you that I read your book “Bad attitude”. And…
Well, you really are too much of a communist. I always knew it, you non-catholic, false Irish!
No seriously, that wasn’t my (main) point. But I’ve got to tell you honestly:
Yes I read it but I’ve got to tell you that I wasn’t really content with it (not that I HAVE to be satisfied of it, I’m fully aware that you didn’t write a book for me). I did really prefer “Game Quest”. Maybe I missed something but this one was a bit too straightforward: always in the store, few characters, too much of a good vs evil plot and a very unappealing main character.
What a punk he was, though I have to admit Tom was also an appealing hatred magnet and I’m always for anything that’s against Future Shop.
Anyways, I wanted to tell you that I read it and that I did have a good time reading it but that I was a bit disappointed because you really rocked my world with “Game Quest” and not so much this time.
If there was some kind of superb irony about it, please tell me.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A little Christmas procrastination

Produced this semi-story. Like most things I write it will probably never go anywhere, or grow much beyond this. But who knows? It was fun writing it anyway, enjoy.

For the Children (not for children)

Santa’s arm tumbled out of bed before he did, knocking over a half-finished and flat-for-days glass of pepto-bismal to the floor. Somewhere in the house the Claus’ cat pricked one ear back and the sound of water trickling off the bedside table stirred yesterday’s breath from deep within the mountain buried beneath the avalanche of St Nick’s beard. Mrs. Claus was nowhere to be seen, but the tale-tale sounds and smells wafting up the stairs foretold her presence in the kitchen, baking as usual. Yet one more day where the sweet fragrance of desert wafted into his nostrils well before he’d even contemplated breakfast...a smell that aroused him due to years of its association with, well, you know...that early morning feeling.

St Nick rubbed his face and didn’t bother to turn towards the clock. He couldn’t face it and had it permanently turned away from the bed. He hadn’t looked at it since last Christmas. Or a few months after. However long ago that was.

It took much effort to roll his hefty frame into the upright position and place his feet – almost – on the floor. The upright pressure on his noggin was the unneeded reminder that he’d been drinking again last night. Guilt radiated out through his toes and he just sat on the bed for minutes, starring at the wood slat wall and a crude painting some kid – Walter or Charlie or something – had left him for Christmas one year. Maybe 30 years ago now. He wondered what happened to that kid. What did he wish for Christmas now? Did he have his own kids? He’d never know. The Dungeon Green kept that.

Mrs Claus, on days when she was irritated, would leave the evidence of the previous night’s debauchery lying around for Santa to clean up in the morning. An empty beer can here, a lukewarm tumbler of brandy there. She was not irritated this morning, he could tell as he slowly took himself down the stairs to the living room. His heart sank at the thought of her cleaning up after him for his favourite morning hangover cure was to take quick sip of the leftover hair of the dog. And then another, if it fancied him. Until he felt better and was waking up the next morning again in search of a cure.

Luckily she’d missed a martini glass he’d absentmindedly left behind the easy chair. The olives were gone, and it was a bit of a stretch to reach down and pick it up, but as he raised with it pinched between his nimble fingers the smell, like sweet ambrosia, of warm gin and dry vermouth caressed his nostrils. He licked his chops, put the glass to his lips and then thought about the children. He struggled for a moment with the rim on his lips...but guilt and the children won, for the first time in months and he put the martini glass down on the hope chest.

Stumbling into the kitchen he found Mrs Claus, fat as ever, bent over the oven in apron strings and oven mitts. For a brief moment he pictured her with just those two articles of clothing, and hair still bedraggled, tumbling down around her shoulders and not up in that asexual bow she insisted on wearing. (Ostensibly to keep it from catching fire, but really!) But stood up with a tray full of cookies and the fantasy was gone (a fantasy was all it could ever hope to be) and he gave her a kiss on the cheek. She paused he duties for a moment, smiled and continued while Santa went to the island sink and poured himself a healthy glass of water.

“You going to the toy mine’s today dear?” she asked, dusting something on the fresh batch.

Was this a trick question? Did she want him to carry something down? Or a subtle-reminder that it was blankity-blank days until Christmas. 5? 4? He had no idea. It was really close. Really, really, terrifyingly close and he hadn’t done anything. He was going to miss it this year. That was it. It was going to be cancelled. Those Christmas day powers the Dungeon Green gave him were spectacular...but they couldn’t save the holiday season from how bad he’d butchered it this year.

Santa mumbled something approximating a yes.

“That’ll be nice. I’m sure the elves will appreciate it.”

Santa laughed to himself. Appreciate it? What world did she live in? The elves were happy about everything. They lived in a lightless cavern, for Christ sakes, clanging and banging all day and night, endlessly singing cheery songs over and over, sweating and breaking their fingers to make toys for other people. And they never complained. Appreciation denoted a change in mood. The elves were too satisfied with anything to appreciate anything. Thank god for that, though. At least some children would get some toys.

But he’d been avoiding it for months. He hadn’t been down there since July. He was going to get his shit together. Today. For the children. He had to at least try. He took a long look at that foreboding wooden door at the back of the kitchen that led down into the caves. Then he looked at the lovely white archway leading back into the living room and that last sip of yesterday’s martini. He thought of the children, he thought of Walter or Charlie or whatever that kid’s name was. He thought of how few days he had and how it would just be easier to just wing it. And then he headed for the washroom.