A song for YOU, my darling dear readers! With all of my heart. And lungs. And maybe an earlobe.
And now, A story for you! Well, stories. Let me explain:
See, my blog partners (from www.threegnomes.com) and I are in the midst of posting original Halloween short stories on our blog. My day was Friday, and my story can be found here. When I wrote it, I wrote another one at the same time with the same basic ending, but a completely different story-line and voice. I went back and forth between them, writing, and couldn't decide which one I wanted to post. So I decided to post the children's story on Gnomes, and the humorous piece here.
You don't have to read it. Either of them. In fact, I'm kind of skeered to have anyone read them. But I figure, it's good for me to throw my little babies up there and let people fling mud at them. NOT THAT I WOULD DO THAT TO MY REAL BABIES (Don't be calling DCFS on me.) But I need to get thicker skin. So here it is. And if you read the other one, here they are. Feel free to comment. BUT DON'T SAY ANYTHING MEAN. Or at least say the mean things nicely, okay? And thank you for being kind and reading it if you do. If you don't, thank you for being kind. I'm sure you are.
Um. Have a nice day.
Off the Page
By Janiel Miller
Hate the stuff. Especially if it doesn’t belong to me.
And now a very long, thin, dangling strand glistens right above my cheek. It is swamp-green. And if it touches my skin, I’m pretty sure I'm going to go up in steaming acid-smoke.
I hunch back as far as I can into the space beneath the reference desk. Stupid duck-spit town. If it were bigger, the library’d be bigger. And if the library were bigger, they’d need a bigger desk for the chief-librarian. And if they had that, parts of me wouldn’t be sticking out ready to get acid-slimed by the thing perched above me on the desk.
Yeah. That thing.
It weighs about a trillion tons. I know this because the legs of the desk under which I am hiding are starting to crush like aluminum foil. Which makes sense, since the thing chasing me resembles nothing so much as an enormous pile of orange and tan rocks. With tiny piggy eyes somewhere near the top, and a little cave full of stalactites for a mouth. Stalagmites. Both. Whatever. Either way I can’t stay under this desk. I am about to be Flat Stanley-ed.
Ever read that book? Flat Stanley? No? Shame. You should have. It would give you a perfect visual of what I am going to look like in two seconds if Big Bubba up there keeps standing where he is, searching for the Little Snack That Got Away. I can’t believe he can’t smell me. My Mitchum For Women failed ages ago. Which is only fair. I’m a guy.
You know, none of this would have happened if I had just been smart and taken that entry level job at Morton, Schneider, Schneider, and Butz. I could have been organizing someone’s pearl onions and parsley instead of trying to find some way to distract Slobber Face long enough for me to get out of here.
Which, hmm. A pencil. Right there on the floor in front of me. Might work. I pick up the little gnawed-on Number 2 and consider where I can chuck it so the beast above will hear it land. Don’t want it to end up anywhere near me, obviously. Definitely not where the Librarian would be sitting if this joint were open and she were on the job.
So I opt for the only other opening I see; a narrow slit between the floor and the bottom of the thick metal that serves as the front of the reference desk. It’s not much, but if I can get the pencil to make some noise on the tile floor beyond, maybe I can buy a sec to scram to a more open space. Then I can figure out how to bring this guy down.
I pinch the pencil between my thumb and forefinger; take a few little practice swings, you know, to get some momentum. Then I flick my wrist. The little yellow projectile hits the desk wall with a ping, and falls back to the floor beside me. Yeah. And this is why I didn’t go pro in . . . pretty much any sport.
All right. I can do this. I pick up the pencil and try again. This time it skitters through the opening and across the floor. I hear it go, clicking along toward the Discontinued Books For Sale table. Then I hear it roll a few inches, and stop. Come on, big guy. Go investigate.
The long line of spittle swings a bit in the desk opening near my face, but that’s about it. Captain Ugly growls and starts stomping his feet. The desk drops a few inches, bumping into my head. I am probably going to have to just make a run for it. Awesome.
The desk crumples again and Slobber Face yowls something. It almost sounds like my name: “KKKKKuuuuurrrrtttttiiiisss!”
That’s weird. Never had a booker say my name before. I mean not any of the brainless ones. The intelligent escapees—especially the princesses trapped in towers and the piratical lunatic bad-guys—always want to know what I’m called. But the critters? Never. They just try to eat me and get out of the Library.
Hoookay. Here we go. For good measure I take off my shoe—nice technical walking shoe that I am testing out before I go on that trip to Patagonia. After I earn enough money to go on that trip to Patagonia—so, I rip the shoe off of my foot (it’s a stupid plan, but it’s all I got) then lean out and throw it right at where I think Ugly’s face would be. Hope it hurts. Or at least stops him for a second. Then I hurtle out from under the desk and take a pretty good leap over the barrier, catching my foot and sprawling like a hero across the entrance floor.
Ugly Slobber Face shrieks and makes some sort of crashing noise. I look back as I try to get up and place at least a book cart between us, and see him slamming his huge rocky paws together. I think he’s clapping. And my shoe is hanging off his ear. Or what is probably his ear. Nice.
The creature throws back his head like he’s going to scream—or laugh—again, when the desk finally crumples and throws him into a rock heap behind it. He grunts and struggles, and I take that moment to streak back past him into the Young Adult section so I can find the stupid comic book he leapt out of and try to get him back in. At least I think it’s a comic book;The Fantastic Four. He looks like the rock dude. Although not nearly as smart. They never are, with half their brains left on the pages of the books or periodicals they came from. Don’t even get me started on Disney princesses.
I hear some sort of crashing sound behind me as I scramble down row upon row of books about werewolves and vampires. I have to get to the Graphic Novels at the back before Ugly untangles himself from the desk. If I don’t get him re-booked before morning he’ll be free to roam our little town until the next nightfall. And this place is weird enough without Goblin Valley coming to life and wandering down the sidewalks.
A stack of romantic Zombies trips me up and I go down on my face. Ahhhh man. Severe rug burn. I get up on all fours and feel for blood. Someone must have been in the process of shelving these books when the Library closed tonight. Stupid undead. Stupid Librarian. If she did her job right I wouldn’t have to do mine. Most of these guys wouldn’t leap off the pages if their books were shelved correctly. They like to stick to their own genre, literary characters—at least in this town. Gonna have to come back and clean up when I’m done with Big Ugly back there.
Of course, if I did my job right, I could jump and run without falling down. And I wouldn’t have spent my life dreaming about writing. Which means I wouldn’t have lived in the Library, and no one would have found out that I’m the one dude the bookers will listen to long enough to get re-booked. Annnnnd . . . I probably would have been like everybody else in Eden and thought the Librarian was in the first stages of dementia when she started babbling about what was happening in here at night.
When I hear the rock pile swinging his way through the cheap metal shelving our town council shelled out a cool buck seventy-nine for, I growl, pull myself all the way up and wonder for the billionth time why I took this job. M. S. S. & Butz would have paid a lot more, even for a skinny legal assistant.
Well. If I’m perfectly honest, this gig is way more interesting. And to those who know what I do, I’m a bit of a hero. I guess I like that.
The shelf next to me starts to wobble back and forth, and books from the top rain all over my head, which seriously hurts. Yeah. This is interesting like a concussion is interesting. I look back and there’s my pal, swinging the bookshelf around, grinning like he’s doing something brilliant. Stupid sedimentary gravel pit. I gotta get out of here.
I start running again, turn left, and it’s just a straight shot to the end. If I can find the mag and get Slobber Face to see himself in it, everything will be copacetic. I might even be able to hit The Garden of Eatin’ Bar and Grill afterward—the only place still open this late. Or early, I should say—and see if there are any women there who haven’t turned me down for a date more than three times.
Cripe! I jump. I can feel Rock-Thing’s breath on my neck. He is right behind me. Whoa, he’s fast.
But I’m faster. And to prove it I pour on some speed, hit the end of the main aisle, and slam around the corner before he can grab me with his rocky arm-things. Then it’s just a matter of finding the right stack for Fantastic Four. I scan as I speed-walk down the row. And move faster when I hear Ugly hit the wall behind me.
“Avengers, Batman, Captain America . . . “ I read the series titles aloud. “Daredevil, Fant—here we go. Fantastic Four.”
I grab a magazine from the center of the stack and whip around holding it in front of me like a crucifix right as Slobber Face stomps up and starts raising his arms.
“Hah!” I flip through the pages and hope there’s a picture of The Thing on one of them. I’m having a hard time holding still. “There you are! That’s where you’re supposed to be. Now get back inside.”
Thing stares at me for a moment. Then he leans in to peer at the magazine in my shaking hand. I must be tired.
He blinks and waggles his head, throwing spittle all over the books and me. Dude. I hate saliva. But on the up side, I did not go up in acid smoke.
“What?” I say. I am really, really tired. This guy almost crushed me, you know. “Stop being a pain in the keester and get in there.”
He shakes his head again, giving me another shower of slobber. Slobber! Wait. The Thing is a pile of rocks. Not a slimy pile of rocks. Which means this . . . isn’t The Thing.
A smile spreads across Ugly’s face, showing all of his stabbing teeth. He raises his hands toward me again and I brace myself for impact. I’m thinking about how the newspaper article will say, “A lame young pre-law student, who spent his summer working at the local library instead of looking for internships, was found dead in a pile of comic books”, when a rocky hand presses my chest and pushes me slowly to the ground. Ugly leans in, breathing hot and wet all over me, then he opens his mouth and says, in a voice like a rock crusher,
“Taaaaggg. Youuuu’rrrrre IT!”
The pile of rocks jumps over me and barrels out the emergency exit in the back wall, heading into downtown Eden. Over which the morning sun has just started to rise.
And I am left lying here alone, amid all the super heroes.
Sooo. Eating at Eatin’ is out then.
I get up. Dust myself off. And head out the door.
It. Is. On.
Hey all! Happy 3 Days Before Halloween!
In celebration of this auspicious day, I'd like to send you on over to Challenging the Gnome to read a Halloween short story called Gargoyle that I've got posted there. We three Gnomies (Maegan, Russo, and I) each accepted a challenge and wrote a short story for Halloween. Russo posted hers yesterday, Maegan's goes up on Monday, and mine hits the internet today. If you're interested in reading it, please click here.
I'm totally nervous. Its the first original piece of fiction that I've thrown out there for the world to read. Or at least the 180 followers and 30 actual readers that we have. It's kind of giving me palpatations. But I'm also a little excited. Because it makes me look like an actual writer.
So, okay. Go on and read it. If you like. Did I mention that my original short story called Gargoyle can be found here? It can.
Thanks, peeps! You're all grand!
Sculpture by my cousin-in-law, Kraig Varner (www.kraigvarner.com)
My daughter shares her opinion of her mother's hair and her father's beard. I don't know if I should post this picture. I must never have looked in a mirror in the 1990's.
When my husband was courting me–which, incidentally, he never officially did because we were just friends. JUST FRIENDS. SERIOUSLY. Just friends who got engaged, but whatev. Just friends because I had one of those *angelic choirs singing in dulcet tones* AhhhhhhhhhAHHHHHHHHHHHHHahhhhhhhh *end angelic choirs singing*-types of experiences when we met. You know, the kind where you think you've met each other before, and it's comforting in a freaky sort of way because that probably means this is IT. And you've just been dumped so you don't want this to be IT. So you tell your future husband that as ballroom dance partners on the university (back up) team, you probably shouldn't date. And then he says–waaaay too quickly–"Okay." But what you thought he was going to say was, "What?! No! Only if you insist! I guess we can just be partners and not date. *weep*". And so then you pretty much want to smack him every time he asks you to do something as JUST FRIENDS.
Er . . . what was I saying?
Oh yeah, when my husband wasn't dating me, he took me to see a really great old flick for Halloween called "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken." Have you seen it? You should. It stars Don Knotts. And if that doesn't talk you into it then how 'bout this: it also stars a haunted old mansion, a creepy gardener, a beautiful woman with a beefy arrogant lummox-like boyfriend, the painting of a woman who keeps winding up with garden sheers stabbed into her ample bosom, and an organ that plays by itself. Most of which Don Knotts agrees to hang out with over night in order to prove to the Lummox Boyfriend and the Beautiful Girl, and the Whole Town While We're At It, that he ain't no wimpy, useless, also-ran. With hopes to get the girl in the end.
I am telling you, this is a great movie. We first saw it at the university cinema, where everyone had seen it 50 times, and so they would scream out advice to Mr. Knotts, but he never heard them. And then the girls in the audience would shriek with terror every time the organ would start playing its creepy music. And the guys in the audience would pretend to shriek whenever the gardener showed up. And everybody cheered in the end when . . . .*Not going to spoil it*
If I was irritated by my future fiancé's much-too-quick response to the assertion that we should just be friends and not date, it was sort of fixed by watching him get such a kick out of an old Don Knotts flick. I mean, clearly my man had a soft spot for the sweet old things in life. And that meant he'd probably do pretty well with kids. And me. If I could ever bring him around to seeing me as more than the Fall-Back-Date dance partner in his life.
Well I did. He had known it all along and was just being a dork. So we got married and had kids, and then showed them "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken."
It completely freaked them out. Not romantic at. all. And they wouldn't watch it for years.
But that's okay. In the end of our story the great big lummox (my hub) did get the girl (me). And he didn't even have to sleep in a haunted house to do it. He just had to get a little bit of the Don Knotts in him and notice what he was missing.
And my kids? They've come around. We're all watching Don Knotts this year for Halloween as a family. No one scared. No one being goofy about the girl they're with. And everybody screaming advice to Mr. Chicken.
I guess this means we've arrived.
Now, you tell me. If this little dude showed up at your door on Halloween dressed like a pumpkin, and he just stood there smiling at you and not saying anything, even though his mother had spent a week teaching him to say "Trick or Treat," wouldn't you just dump your entire candy bowl into his bag?
And then if this cutie patootie woke up Halloween morning and told you that instead of being a witch like always, she was going to be a Pretty Pink Fairy, so you dressed her up in layers of pink tulle and gauze and made her a crown and gave her a wand, and then she came home from pre-school and announced that she was not a Pretty Pink Fairy after all; she was a Not Very Nice Pink Fairy instead, and by lunch she was a Mean Pink Fairy, and by afternoon snack she was a Bad Pink Fairy, and by evening she was knocking on doors dressed as a Witch–wouldn't you think she was totally hilarious?
I'm right there with you.
Of course, if this chicklet–who looks like an ad for Yo Ho O's Cereal–started running about making everyone walk the plank, speaking with Arrrrs and Matey's, and refusing to wear a coat over her costume even though it was snowing, so you had to layer her up with many pairs of long underwear and tights and turtlenecks and little knit gloves, wouldn't you just love to take her around the lily-livered neighborhood to plunder candy?
And finally, if this little munchkin turned around and you found that he had a lightening-bolt scar drawn onto his forehead with eyebrow pencil, and he'd been wearing jeans but he'd herked on them, and there'd been a cape but he kept twisting it around backward trying to get it off, and the Harry Potter glasses? They'd been chewed until their little pipe-cleaner selves no longer resembled anything so much as a soggy caterpillar, wouldn't you hug the stuffing out of him?
Yep. And I did.
That was then. This is now. My little Halloweenies are all growed up. Mostly. And they don't really look like this any more, except reminiscently in a few facial expressions and a bit around the eyebrows. But that personality you see their in their eyes and in their posture? That's ALL there. And will be for many Halloweens to come.