One More Weblog in the Blogosphere -- Why?

One More Weblog in the Blogosphere -- Why?

My name is Steven Doyle (although I usually write under the pen name Manuel Royal). For a while, in the late summer of 2011, I got paid to write a fiction column for an online newspaper, the Smyrna-Vinings Patch (owned by AOL).

Essentially it was a loosely-plotted serialized novel, in the great tradition of Charles Dickens and Armistead Maupin (but without the use of talent), set in the area of Vinings, Georgia (just outside Atlanta), where I live.

The column was called "Welcome to Smyrnings" (the name being a combination of the towns of Smyrna and Vinings). It lasted nine brief weeks; eighteen installments. At least half a dozen people I know about read it at some point.

Then I parted ways with AOL. I thought that was it for the column, which seemed a shame, since I'd done some of my better work there (admittedly, it's a low bar). Unfortunately, since AOL owns every word published on its sites, I can't do anything with the 35,000 words of column on the Patch.

However, someone close to me requested more installments (or episodes, or what-have-you) for special occasions; she liked the characters. My ego couldn't resist such a request. So, I've done a few, and as I do more, I'll put them here, starting with Episode 019.

A note on the title: SPLAND of the SPLOST would make sense if one had read, in the old column on the Patch, Episode 12: SPLAND of the SPLOST. It's not terribly significant to the overall story (except insomuch as it reflects the occasionally-used theme of little adventures happening in mundane circumstances).

Anyway -- if you happen to be one of my six loyal readers, and you'd be interested in seeing further misadventures of my hapless characters, please start with 019: Week End. (The blog software automatically puts the most recent post at the top, but you can click on any post in the archive.)

Or start wherever you'd like. It's a free blogosphere, for Pete's sake. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

019 Week End

October 2011

October is late summer, in the latitude of Smyrnings.  It was midday, the last Saturday of the month, two days before Hallowe'en.

Martian Fighting Machine, aka Marty, had burrowed deep into the pile of mingled oak, maple, apple and birch leaves.  It was warm down in there.  Marty's stomach was full of lasagna; he was actually too full to curl up.  He stretched out, groaning deeply and farting a little, and was snoring within a minute.

Caliban was crouched down among the leaves under the hammock that hung between the apple tree and the birch.  His eyes were glued to a spot below the apple tree, where his prey had appeared before.  He'd stay there until it came back.

Above him, the hammock swung lazily, weighted down with Shane Bledsoe and Parmelia Mobley. 

"He's getting his winter coat."

Shane wedged his hand between his belly and Parmelia's, and thence under the elastic waistband of  her jeans.  "Are you getting your winter coat?  Ha!  No undies."

"You always seem surprised."

"I love that you don't wear them."

"Happy to be of service."

Is she really?  It was hard to tell, with Parmie.  But -- "Yeah, you feel happy.  Feels like you're getting real happy."

"Is that what it feels like?"

"I think you like this a little, Baby."

Parmie sighed; something between a sigh and a groan, really.  "Absolutely ... not.  I'm a nice girl."

"You want me to stop?"

"No, I ... didn't say that."  She wiggled around in the hammock until she was on her back and could open her legs.

She was lying on top of Shane, and kind of squishing him, but he wasn't going to ask her to move.  And she was getting that breathy hesitation in her voice; he loved that.

Twenty feet away, under the oak, a field mouse was wrestling acorns into its burrow.  Born in the spring, it was grown now and could compete with the chipmunk that had eaten two of its siblings.

The chipmunk, busy with its own winter storage chores, popped its head up out of its burrow among the apple tree roots.

Caliban leapt up with the abruptness of a furry orange Jack-in-the-box.  His head rammed into the hammock at its lowest point; Shane felt the impact on his tailbone.

"Dang it, cat!"  Shane watched Caliban race off around the corner of the house.  He whispered in Parmelia's ear, "Cat hit me in the ass."

"Whatever!  Shut up and don't stop."  She had both feet hanging off the sides of the hammock.  "Wait!  Stop a second."

"You're the boss." 

Parmelia looked up through the branches, at the upstairs windows.  "You're sure the house is empty?"

"Yeah, Wishes is out with his auntie, and the girls went to the movies.  You want to go in the house?"

"No, I just want to get these off."  Parmie drew her legs up -- Wow, she is really squishing me -- and worked her jeans down over her hips and over her sneakers.

"There!"  She dropped the jeans on the ground.

"You want me to take off my pants too?"

"Not yet.  Just get back to work."  She drew her feet up, bending her knees and letting gravity open her thighs.

"I don't know if I want to now.  Forgot what I was doing."

"You forgot, huh?"

"I lost my train of thought."  Shane put his hands behind his head.

"Doesn't bother me, I'll just use you for furniture and get myself off."

"Good, I want you to."

"Good, I will."

"Good, I'll watch."

"Can you see what I'm doing?"

He couldn't.  "Not from this angle.  I just see that big dragon on your tee shirt."

"Yeah, Ronnie got me that shirt at Dragon*Con."

"Super."  Shane scootched up on the hammock, until Parmie's head was on his chest.  "Ah, now I see what you're doing there.  Very nice."

"Glad you approve."

"Yeah, Baby.  Yeah.  I could give you a couple of pointers, though."

"Oh, shut up."

"Talk about Ronnie some more."

Parmelia swung herself off the hammock, and smacked Shane on the forehead.  "Off with your pants!"

* * *

The movie wasn't great, but Ronnie would have been happy to spend two hours looking at a blank screen, as long as she was holding Cherie's hand.

As usual, they sat in the back row.  That was convenient, in case Ronnie was overcome by one of her frequent urges to confirm that Cherie wasn't wearing a bra.  She knew for a fact Cherie owned at least one bra, because she'd given it to her on their one-month anniversary.  A month was two weeks longer than any relationship she'd had before.

She leaned over and whispered in Cherie's ear.  "I'm actually finding the furniture in that house more interesting than the dialogue."

Cherie whispered back, "I know, right?"  She'd fallen in love with that Americanism and was using it a lot lately.  "That's a trestle table.  My mum had one like that, back home."

Ronnie had a thought.  "Beamish, I've a thought."

"Tell it to me, Babcock."

"Later, okay?"  Ronnie hated when people made noise at the movies.  For most of her life she'd had no trouble keeping quiet, because she went by herself.

She forgot her thought until they were driving home.  They'd been talking about one of the movie trailers they'd seen, for a psychological suspense thriller called Slugbug.  Cherie said, "When it comes out, we should ring up Scrappy the Squirrel and ask him to take us!"

"Scrappy's afraid of Volkswagens."

"Right-o, that's the idea.  He'll arrive with visions of orgiastic sexual goings-on in his head, but he'll go home in tears."

"Cry himself to sleep and have bad dreams."

"Wracked by bad dreams, all night long."

"Oh, I don't know, Beamish.  No need to be cruel."

"You got to kick him in the danglies."

Scrappy the Squirrel was their name for Lamar Carmichael.  Lamar wasn't the most admirable human being, but in an odd way he'd brought Ronnie and Cherie together, and Ronnie didn't have the heart to wish him ill.

She remembered her thought then, and got Cherie to turn her ancient Tercel (Loretta) around and head for Home Depot.

In the power tool section, they spent a while trying to guess which of the other female customers were gay or bisexual, or any variation thereon.

The morning after her first night with Cherie, she'd looked in the mirror and said, "Guess I'm a big ol' lesbian now."  She sounded like an idiot to herself.  Cherie told her not to worry about labels, but Ronnie'd gotten her teeth into the subject and started researching.

She'd printed out pages of specialized nomenclature and descriptions of all sorts of sexual orientations and preferences.  And Shane had rattled off literally dozens of terms she'd never heard before.  He was like an idiot savant of vulgarity.

Cherie wasn't great with tools; she let Ronnie take the lead in the Home Depot.  (Ronnie rather enjoyed the reversal of the roles they tended to take in bed.)

"This is what we need."  Ronnie picked out a Rotozip; she'd been thinking of getting one for months, and was glad to have a project that called for such a tool.

But -- "Damn, we'll have to wait on the wood."

"No worries, I'll put the back seat down and we can take it in Loretta."

"I don't think Loretta can handle that much wood.  I'll borrow Aardvark's truck."

Out in the parking lot, Ronnie pointed out a very tall, stick thin older man in a long coat.  He was a few rows past where Loretta was parked, his back to them.  She could see he was agitated, waving his arms like a spastic mime.  He reminded her of a scarecrow.

"Man, that guy flaps his arms around like a scarecrow."

"So, scarecrows flap their arms around then?"

"They do in America, Babe.  They dance and sing, too."

"I saw that movie.  That Wicked Witch, Margaret Hamilton, do you reckon she had that green makeup on all over?"

"I don't know, but that's just the sort of thing Shane would say.  Oh, look!  It's Aardvark!"

As they approached him from behind, the flapping scarecrow had moved, revealing the much shorter Darryl "Aardvark" Willitt, leaning back, his arms folded, calmly looking up at him.

Aardvark was leaning against a panel truck emblazoned with a pattern of diagonal lines and the words SHAKES GUTTERAGE.  To Ronnie's eye, it looked like a stencil with Krylon fluorescent spray paint.  Red-orange?  No; Cerise.

They could hear the scarecrow now.  He sounded like he'd just had dental work.

"Keep your goddamn mitts outta m'gutters!"

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