Evidently there are lots of mysteries to solve in Ventura County.
And look! There’s Scooby in the window! Hope he lets me drive…
My short-short “Heads of the Line” has been published in Word Riot. My commentary follows.
http://www.wordriot.org/archives/7084 (print version)
As it turned out, I was unable to attend college my first fall after high school. My status as an unemancipated minor made me ineligible for the financial aid I’d been expecting, which necessitated a quick – by which I mean long, arduous, and painful – change of plans. I did eventually land a minimum-wage job at a bakery, and being now a veritable miser with money, by the following spring I had three hundred dollars saved. I decided to invest this massive sum in a trip to Alaska, where I had been assured by all manner of people who had never been there that you could earn colossal columns of cash working in the canneries. “Big money!” and “Signing bonus!” and “Free room and board!” the newspaper ads all promised. What they didn’t tell you, of course, was that the people who earned the “signing bonuses” and “free room and board” were those who went to work on the boats themselves – and that the reason they made “big money” was because the living conditions were horrible, the job was tough and scary as hell, and they worked twenty hours a day whenever there was a catch. I opted for the more palatable version, which was not actually a cannery, but a fish packing plant –several notches further down on the dirty jobs scale.
It wasn’t a bad job, all things considered. Yes, you worked fourteen hour days whenever there was a delivery, but since that was when you made your overtime pay, nobody complained too much about that. And yes, your feet and hands were constantly cold and cramped – it was months before I could comfortably hold a hairbrush again, and it took more than a year for all of the feeling to finally come back into my fingertips. On the plus side, you got to camp for free on site, and my particular facility even had an indoor bathroom and hot showers – a true rarity in those parts. To help pass the time, they cranked up the radio on the plant’s loudspeakers and let us listen to it all day – the unfortunate part being that the only station that came in clearly only played Top 40. Can you even begin to guess how many times a day a Top 40 radio station plays the same songs? So many that eventually you adapt and learn to enjoy it. You have to. Otherwise you go crazy!
I never got my big money – in fact, shortly before I was due to come home, my station wagon died, and I ended up having to spend what seemed like an eternity of days riding a bus all the way back to California. I wound up with forty bucks in my pocket and the satisfaction of knowing that even if I never travelled again, at least I’d been to Alaska, which is so unbelievably worth seeing that I’m not even going to begin to talk about it now. And a good thing, too, because here we are, twenty years later, and I’ve yet to have the chance to go again. It’s the one place I want to make sure I revisit while I can still travel, which is why I’m making it the primary destination for my road trip this summer, during which I’ll be drafting my second memoir, The Long Road Home.
I don’t think I’m going to go searching for employment, though. Somehow I think I may be past the age for factory work, particularly when it involves fourteen-hour days, Top 40 radio, and thousands of pounds of bloody, frozen fish. But who knows – perhaps when I get up there I’ll be inspired to try it, for old time’s sake.
Just don’t put me on the header.
“Heads of the Line” is one of the stories featured in my autobiographical short story and essay collection Stories from My Memory-Shelf: Fiction and Essays from My Past (only $2.99 Kindle, $6.99 paperback). To learn more about it, please visit the book’s webpage or subscribe to my newsletter.
Literary humor magazine “Back Hair Advocate” is running a contest for poems or flash fiction written in Pig Latin. Come on, you know you’ve already got a bunch of them written – all you need to do is submit one!
My erotic short story “Morning After” has been published in Erotic Review Magazine:
The inspiration from this story came from my second novel, Just the Three of Us: An Erotic Romantic Comedy for the Commitment-Challenged. The style of this piece differs somewhat from that of my novel – the humor here is more restrained – but it’s very much in the same vein. Frankly, I was delighted to revisit the concept because I really, really enjoyed writing that book. I love the characters, I love the setup, I even love the rather silly premise that three friends could just “happen” to fall in love in almost exactly the way that two friends might. In fact, I liked it so much that I’m halfway through writing the sequel. Plus I wrote this story. And then I got the idea for another short story called “Avalanche!” in which three friends… well, you get the drift.
The funny thing is, I never would have thought I’d find the whole threesome concept so intriguing. And honestly, I’m not sure that I really do. For me it’s not threesomes in general, but more this particular threesome that’s so endlessly amusing. Of course, maybe that’s how it starts. Maybe it always begins with plain old monogamous, monamorous folks who, by chance, meet the two other people who make the perfect corners on that kind of triangle. One day you’re hanging out with your best friends – the next you’re in love. It could happen to you!
Okay, probably not. But don’t discount the idea entirely, because you never know. And if it does happen, and it does work out, would you let me know? I could use another idea for a sequel…
You can also read “Morning After” in my recently released collection of erotic short short stories To All the Penises I’ve Ever Known: Erotic Shorts by Lori Schafer, only $0.99 in digital formats on Amazon (Universal Link), Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, ITunes, and Lulu. Large print paperback is only $5.99!
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Our everyday behaviors are the reason we’re getting nowhere on climate change.
Now, I love my Nikon. I really do. I have had it for 8 years now, and I refused to add to the pile of e-waste. But, sometime this year, or the next, I shall upgrade. Anyway, this is not about my Nikon.
This is the month of the Roza, and I was in Jama Masjid early one morning, to take some photos, and to wolf down some fabulous nehari curry. Therefore, the chai has been replaced by curry!
A few days later, I was at a conference, in which the French Minister of something or the other spoke about climate change, and the need for us to take drastic action. He had to leave relatively quickly, because he had to meet our Prime Minister, and then a bunch of well meaning senior and well-respected dudes proceeded to engage the audience in a round table debate…
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My short-short “Fog Line” has been published on Every Writer’s Resource:
“Fog Line” is one of my odder travel stories. I was actually somewhat surprised that I was able to get it published it as an individual piece, because the concept of vehicular profiling seemed to go straight over a lot of reader’s heads. In fact, the first editorial team that reviewed it responded with some rather biting criticism, including the comment “All that and he didn’t even ask for a date?? Where’s the story?!”
I loved that Dodge Van, I truly did, but, ancient and unusual as it was, it was a veritable magnet for attention from law enforcement. In my freshman year of college, I worked graveyard loading trucks for a shipping company, which meant driving home at four o’clock in the morning five days a week. I once got pulled over three nights in a row, with a new excuse from a different police officer every time. At least that sheriff in North Dakota was nice – and honest – about it. But then, he seemed to be motivated more by curiosity than suspicion.
Maybe it didn’t make for the most relatable story, but if nothing else, at least I learned what a fog line was.
“Fog Line” is one of the stories featured in my autobiographical short story and essay collection Stories from My Memory-Shelf: Fiction and Essays from My Past (only $2.99 Kindle, $6.99 paperback). To learn more about it, please visit the book’s webpage or subscribe to my newsletter.