I may have noted recently my displeasure or unhappiness at having to "get through" these holidays, and it's a battle. But I apologize if I freaked any of you out about that. I have a place to be today, and yesterday...I began writing a new, mad piece.
I've been working on this in my mind and through too many pages of sketches and storylines for two years. I hope it doesn't take that long to finish it.
I can't tell you too much about this, because I don't know how it's going to come out. But the story began from hours and miles of driving in total darkness, and listening to Joe Jackson's amazing Fast Forward CD.
So...here are the bashed out, first two pages of Part I, "Christmas in New York."
Times Square; this place was the center of New York City, mostly in the minds of those who’d never lived or been there. The place where dreams focused, for people who believed that old song, the one about making it there, and then propelling oneself further into the world.
Christmas Eve, around the gigantic tree, bedecked with hundreds of ornaments, a thousand lights or more were revelers, celebrants of the holiday season, with lip service to the child supposedly born on this night, but more to the gayer, less serious aspects.
Lights flashed across the sky, from the skyscrapers, the billboards and the windows of shops still open. Smaller and less noticed ones flickered as well, from the cameras of tourists taking selfies to broadcast to family and friends back home where they were. Others jammed the sidewalks and streets, partying from club to bar and then the next, and still more hitting those places with last-minute and impulse buys to be had.
There too, the music: holiday sounds, from the traditional to contemporary, the voices of those at Mass and other more staid events, remembering what they were taught about the so-called Holy Night. The overproduced, glitzy versions of schmaltzy songs about winter wonderlands, a reindeer with an improbable nose, and of course Saint Nicholas; no one here seemed to remember the roots of these things, the Pagan Gods and Goddesses that bore these children.
A word to the wise to those less experienced was: when in New York, one dressed and acted as though they lived there. The aim was not fall prey to the pickpockets, scammers and grifters that plied the city streets, in search of an easy mark.
Amid the well-dressed and heeled, those of the middle and working classes walked, rushed and jostled for position in these streets, as they did all around the world. The chill of December was felt more by these folk, but they accepted cold and this time of year as a part of life. Their breath fogged like smoke or vapor; it rose and dissipated with millions more on this grand night.
And within all these, were the ones that no one noticed, or would admit, even to themselves existed.
The ragged creature shuffled along the sidewalk, her feet taking in the freezing walk through her battered sneakers. They didn’t even feel as though they were on her feet, these numb to near frostbite. That mattered nothing to her; at least they no longer hurt.
She was surprised she felt anything at all. Cold had set in weeks before, and never left her. The thin clothing inside of the wool coat, still not one for this weather, did nothing to protect her from the elements. Her gloves, the fingers torn or cut away by a previous owner weren’t much help, but she flexed her hands and fingers as much as possible to keep some feeling. It gave her something to do with her hands, and to focus on.
Her jeans had seen better years, and the wool cap could not keep the long, matted rat’s nest of black hair from being seen. Down over her shoulders it bounced, and looked more like dreadlocks.
If anyone chose to look at this thin, gaunt urchin, one might see a face. Thin and long, the jawline was not completely square, but decently formed. Skin, pale from exposure; a Caucasian but not through and through, because it would have taken a very close look to see there might be a little more in this girl’s lineage.
The eyes were a liquid blue, the black lashes long, even under the body’s duress. The nose, thin, not too large or too small, and the lips too seemed correct for a female that one might draw a picture of. She was not beautiful by the standards of the day, but she was not ugly, either, apart from her current disposition.
The wind blew down these streets as the girl walked through, unable to find any protection from the buildings, the numerous vehicles or the people who stormed along; they paid no heed to this child, and she did not stop or bother them.
There was no point. As the wind again tore through her, she drew her thin jacket, most of the buttons long gone about her, and kept on. The clouds had thickened throughout the day, she’d noticed, and there was almost no sun from this morning. A winter storm was coming; the first flakes had already begun to fall, glinting with the colors of the Christmas and city lights, and floated down like confetti. They already had begun to collect on the parked cars, SUVs, trucks and taxicabs that lined the block; it would be a bad night.
Again, it didn’t matter. She kept walking, but her head came up slightly. Leaned against a brick wall, alongside one of the high end stores, she saw a man. Barely able to stand, in a rough looking jacket and clothes nearly as pathetic as her own, he held out a used McDonald’s cup, asking for spare change. There were few takers.
She looked at him as she came abreast of him: he was black, probably in his twenties, but the live he led made him look forty. Sharp features, in the cheekbones, the prominent nose, damaged teeth behind his lips; his brown eyes stared at this strange one that walked past him.
No words were exchanged, but the two nodded. They understood one another.
Well, what do you think? It is a dark, odd beginning, no? The book is tentatively entitled, Times Best Remembered, and I'll explain that in further detail when we finally get there.
I did this the other day:
I made a road trip from Harrisburg to Valley Forge, with a short stopover in Newtown Square, right near a former workplace. My goals were to hit every rest stop on the PA Turnpike, where I left "gifts" of my books.
Yes, it is a cost, but a write off. Here now, my books for free, in hand to those I hope will read them, like them, and expand the base.
The deck is stacked against us indie authors, it's rigged. Big bookstores won't stock you, indie bookstores won't stock you. They stock what they know they can sell.
How it is...we must make ourselves visible, and obnoxious. I aim to.
So anyway, let me know if you like that. It's a good story; might be the best thing I've done.
The best work is the one you have not yet written.