Buried Treasure On My Phone

June 14, 2017

No. This does not count towards NaNoWriMo.

But it’s still pretty neat.

I have a Windowsphone – Lumia 950XL – I am very partial to. It works as a phone and when I get home, it’s my laptop (that is only a recent development, mind you). Additionally I have a Microsoft smartwatch paired to it – Microsoft Band 2. Between those two items, I manage most of my day. What I need now is a Surface 4 or a Surface laptop, and I will be good to go.

But this is not about all that. This is about what I found on my phone when taking pictures off of it for work.

Now, I know it’s my document. I checked.

Capture

And I had to read it several times because I do not remember writing it. It sounds good. Better than good. Sounds like another novel, actually. Why the female lead had white hair and violet eyes I can only attribute to looking at too many Cosplay girls.

Thinking back on it now, the notes here suggest I was strongly influenced by Harry Crews’s “Celebration” – a seriously good novel by a seriously under-rated author. I may have to re-read it (or maybe get the audio book – my crush on Kate Mulgrew is almost up).

Vastly successful business owner divorces his wife. No kids. It was a business venture. When he was married, she kept him happy and made him look good. They shook hands and parted ways and it didn’t really matter to him.

Now he has no idea what to do.

He sets himself up in his own little bachelor pad. And it’s the ultimate bachelor pad. His pad. All of the things that he loves is all in one place. Pool table. Computers. Video games. Excellent little bar. Even has beer on tap. He has a custom kitchen built and he starts inviting all of his friends over for parties and he ends up being the chef for all of them. He ends up having a great time cooking. He decides to get a job.

He applies for a line cook job at a café in a small trendy town. To my mind, it’s something like Cookstown or maybe King city.

I remember that he found the place by accident. It was winter and he went into a snowbank and when he tried to get signal to make a call, he dropped the phone in the snow. He walks until he finds a nice clean place and he asks for a large bowl of uncooked rice and a cup of coffee. A pretty girl with short, white hair serves him and he likes her at first sight. I want to say she had violet eyes.

He gets the job and starts to work and parties less with his friends. He works lot of hours and makes some new friends. He ends up going to an after work party he was invited to and has a good time. There’s a pool, there’s food, there’s booze and lots of people. He bumps into the girl again with the short white hair and they start to kiss. A lot. As things get hot and heavy (and this part, this dialogue, I remember really well).

“How old are you?” she askes him.

“Forty five,” he answers.

“How old do you think I am?”

“I don’t know. Twenty six?”

“Twenty five, actually. Today is my birthday. And we are partying at my parent’s house.”

They decide just to be friends.

“Running friends,” she tells him. And her friends start to laugh.

“Why running friends?” He’s thinking now he has to buy a jogging outfit.

“Because when I call, you better come running,” she answers and all her friends start to laugh. He almost asks why he would want to come running and then he thinks better of it. She wants to be that kind of friend. But I think he has a real interest in her because as their friendship develops and he becomes a better chef. He talks about his vasectomy.

“I’ve got enough money,” he tells her. “I can get it reversed.”

“I want more kids,” she says. “But do you want more kids? Why would you get a vasectomy if you don’t have any kids? It must mean you don’t want kids.”

“I didn’t want kids with my wife. That’s why I got it.”

And then there’s another scene with him piggy packing a mulatto child that is hers. He’s babysitting while she is finishing her shift. He got dropped off by a babysitter and her parents aren’t available. She never mentioned a child before and he seems okay with it. They whole time they are spending time it never comes up. She’s always managed to keep him out of the way. The boy is pretty clever, too. He won’t even give up his real name. So our hero decides to call him “Cool”.

The dream ended after that. But I think that’s the makings of a pretty good story.


WCYR NaNoWriMo “Bad Guy”

June 13, 2017

1, 532 words. Tonight.

11, 100 total. In total.

Wowsers.

I broke with the narrative. Well, I’m building my A story now – the one that is my ‘ticking clock’ so to speak (I even put in the imagery of a stopwatch to boot – how clever am I?). The bad guy is over the top, but I like that. I just let him get out of control.

Talking more about the writing. I have to keep going. If I take a day off, the characters start to feel less like people and more like characters. Yeah, sounds silly. But true. Plus, I don’t want to lose the momentum.

Now, I warn you, I’m not sure what is going to go down tomorrow. I may or may not write. I will try to write 500 words on my lunch to type up tomorrow night – and that is my plan (it’s in my Outlook calendar, actually – don’t judge me) but I won’t admonish myself if I don’t.

If I don’t write the day after, though, that means I’m just a poseur piece of shit. That’s harsh, I know, but it’s motivational, too.

I’m happy to share what I’ve written, just not right now. Good night, folks.


WCYR NaNoWriMo “Limerick”

June 12, 2017

1125 words. Well, 1572 words if you count this post.

Holy shit. Thought I would never make it.

Couldn’t write on Sunday. Just couldn’t. So, instead, I pushed myself to work around the house. Raked the lawn front and back, dug out underneath the tree at the curb, filled it with soil, then dug out the flower garden along the side of the house for my wife to be able to plant flowers. I kept my headphones on the whole time, listening to every song on my phone at random, using my MS Band to skip the ones that didn’t fit my mood.

Before I went out, I split a chicken, rubbed it with my poultry spice blend then wrapped it tight in cellophane to put into the fridge while I worked. By the time I was done, it was nice and ready. I slow cooked that, along with some beef tenderloins and some baked potatoes, along with some sautéed peppers to put with the beef and the chicken. Oh, I also made steam broccoli topped with a red onion and bacon balsamic vinaigrette. A very tasty Sunday dinner after a busy Sunday morning and afternoon.

I did all that and thought about writing. I put out the notebook, the pen, looked at them, and then went and did something else. I argued with myself, saying that I had done a good job. What was the point of continuing? I was halfway to my goal and it wasn’t even halfway through the month yet. I looked at my chart and patted myself on the back. Good work. Now, you can rest. Besides, it’s not work anyway, right? Work was the next morning.

That’s my pattern, I thought. I go for a couple of weeks, tell myself job well done, and then leave it be until I am so miserable and so inconsolable and snappy to my kids and my wife, that I have to go to my notebook and just write for the sake of writing to feel sane again. No story there. Just writing to get it out. And then the story comes out of it, and the outlines and the drafts and the spreadsheets and the excitement and then I pat myself on the back, tell myself I’m doing a great job and deserve some time off.

Well, fuck that action, folks. This bastard is getting written, come hell or high water. “Ulysses” it won’t be. I doubt it will even be as good as “Horton Hears a Who”. But it will be done, by Christ.

Again, not posting the words. Take my word for it. Those fucking 1125 words may as well have been written in blood.


WCYR NaNoWriMo – “Theatre”

June 10, 2017

1925 words. Making up for lost time.

The way I figure it, if I can wake up at 4:00AM for I have to do, I can wake up for 5:00AM for what I love to do. So, this Saturday morning, I woke up for 6:30AM and started to write. Yeah, it isn’t 5:00AM, but I was sleeping so well and this week has been horrible for sleep. If my “Microsoft Band 2” is to be believed (and it’s a Microsoft product, folks, so it is beyond reproach) I slept an average of 4:45 minutes a night this week. An extra hour or so felt positively decadent.

A month ago I was in Houston at a “Managing For Results” training session. They profiled each of us using a DiSC Assessment . The moderators explained how the assessment works, they gave us our assessment on second last day. I felt liberated. I really did. I told the moderator as much and he took me at my word. I think he saw I was about to cry.

It explained a lot about me I already knew but was told it was wrong to be that way. And a stranger with a series of scientific tests verified it.

I think I was maybe nine or ten. I saw a car model I wanted to make.

I loved cars. I would trace them from the “Buy and Sell” or “Auto Trader” magazine and then design my own. No desire to work on them, but I would stand there and hand Dad tools or hold his ‘trouble light’ while he tried to keep our vehicles on the road. But I hated working on them. Loathed it.

Dad had tried to make me into a ‘real boy’ by signing me up for sports, taking me with him when he went to work (he owned a carpentry and landscaping company – but he did most of the work – and when he was good, he was really, really good but when he was bad, he was horrible), and getting me away from my books or my computer (a Commodore 64 or early, early PC – the strongest memory I have is my cousin giving me a book on programming and I played with ‘BASIC’ programming, trying to make ‘Mr. Bojangles’ walk across the screen).

But, that car model. 1964 Mustang Shelby. Blue with white racing stripes. I wanted to buy the model and all of the paints. I wanted to buy the files and the tools. I wanted to cut out each piece, sand it down, paint it as close to real as possible, and then take my time to assemble it. It would be amazing. I would have my very own miniature car that I could open up and see all of the parts, like I could get into it and drive away. I imagined all of the things I could do in that car, the adventures. I loved the detail and I loved the creativity.

Dad didn’t like that. He didn’t see the point. To him, that was a waste of time. And as such, I should consider it a waste of time. He was the guy in charge, so I did as I was told. And continued to do as I was told, on and on. I would fight against that, my instincts telling me to do so, but eventually, after being so tired of fighting, I just gave up. It was easier to be a victim, to do what I was told.

I watch my kids grow up and see how different they are from one another. When either of them wants to do something, I ask them to justify it. To tell me why. I want to understand what they are doing and help them to find the best way to meet their needs. My daughter wants a boatload of pencils and pens and notebooks because she wants to draw. All I ask, is that she draws. Not think about it. She draws. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just finish what you start, critique it without being getting down on yourself, and then make the next one better. The same goes for everything she does.

I look at what she creates and it makes me proud. It’s what we make that matters, not how much we make.

And, when that little test showed me, that DiSC assessment, is what I already knew, I felt like I was coming out of the sharp turn in a NASCAR race, ready to drop the hammer.

So, yeah, that’s what made it easy for me to get up this morning and write. Because it is what I love to do.

I’m not going to post the contents of my current narrative. Too many words in my post as it is!


WCYR NaNoWriMo – “Friends”

June 7, 2017

870 words. Not my regular 1,000, but more than my commitment for 500.

The narrative continues. That makes me happy. The story is taking shape in my head. I’m not ashamed to say that some of the situations are lifted right out of my own adolescence, but as the story develops, the characters are breaking away. They are actually helping me weave threads through the story that I didn’t know were there.

I’m avoiding writing notes about the story through the day. That’s a big one for me. Usually, I would write about the story, talking myself through it. And then when it came to actually write, I couldn’t do it. I felt like the story was too prepped, too structured. Like I couldn’t walk around naked in my own house, if that makes any measure of sense. Not that I do when the kids are home, but you get the idea.

Oh! One thing I will say. I’ve finished “Star Wars:Thrawn” (amazing work by Timothy Zahn) and Trump’s biography (frightening, depressed shit). And now I’m on Justin Trudeau’s “Common Ground” and Kate Mulgrew’s autobiography “Born with Teeth.”

I’ve always admired Justin’s father – I’ll never forget the way his father stepped down. And, well, I’ve always liked Kate Mulgrew. But now, I’m kinda crushing on her. I am thinking she will be the model for my story’s love interest. And the girl in my story had red hair before I even started Kate Mulgrew’s autobiography. The planets are aligning, I tell you.

So, here’s my 870 words and it’s 10:47PM – about 17 minutes off my planned time. Had to skip taking out the garbage to do it. Means I have to do it in the morning.

=============================================================================

Friends

                “Your name’s Ted, right?” The twin in the car said.

                He didn’t correct her. Ted sounded about right.

                “My name’s Peggy. I’m friends with Wally, too.”

                Teddy nodded and forced a smile. “He told me about you.”

                “Oh? He talks about me? What does he say?” She leaned a little it over the front bench seat.

                The driver spoke up. “My name’s Hiroshi. My friend’s call me Roach.”

                Of course they do.

                “Hey.”

                “Hey.”

                Ted reached out and executed an upside down handshake like they’d been doing it since first grade. He felt satisfied.

                This is good.

                “He’s my boyfriend.”

                “I hope you two are very happy together.”

                Teddy and Roach locked eyes in the rearview mirror and they shared a smile. Peggy looked back and forth between them.

                “Have you two met before? In the same class or something.”

                “Or something,” Roach said.

                “What’s that supposed to mean?” She said, swatting Roach.

                “Never met the man before.”

                “I don’t even go to your school.”

                “How did you get into the theatre?”

                “How’d you know I was at the rehearsal?”

                “Wally told me.”

                “What else did he tell you?”

                “Why did you want to go to the rehearsal in the first place?”

                “I didn’t. He made me.”

                “Peggy,” Roach said, trying to get her attention. She perched her head on the backs of her hands as they rested on the back of the front bench seat. She looked at him as if he were the most curious creature ever to visit her planet. She had honey blonde hair and green eyes and didn’t seem real.

                Her planet, indeed. What colour were the skies on her world, anyway, he wanted to ask her.

                “Why did he make you? How could he make you?”

                “How does anyone make anyone do anything? He’s my best friend. I felt …. Compelled.”

                “He said I was his best friend,” she said, pouting a little.

                “You’ll have to take that up with him.”

                Roach caught his eye again. He felt very comfortable with Roach already. Teddy thought he could get used to his girlfriend, but he could never get used to how she got distracted.

                “Uh, Peggy,” Ted said. “I think Roach’s got something to say.”

                “Oh? Sorry, honey.”

                Honey. Seemed to be a word that made her feel mature, like it would be a handful of mortar that would seal their relationship into something that would last forever.

                Stop it.

                “Your sister is doing that thing again.”

                “Oh? Right.”

                She squinted to see her sister making stylized gestures through the back window of the Dodge. Ted just looked at Roach, waiting for him to explain what they were doing.

                “Sign language,” he said.

                “Her sister is deaf?”

                Ted pursed his lips and nodded like it made sense – Peggy probably gabbed her sister’s ear off in utero. Roach sensed Ted’s conclusion and laughed.

                “It’s nothing like that. It’s just something they do. It’s one of four or five languages they know.”

                That stopped him. Now he was the one who heard wrong.

                “For real. They learned sign language for their parents on road trips, signing messages back and forth.”

                The plan was to go to the theatre and check the times, then go out for a bite to eat before the movie. Ted couldn’t be sure if what they used was actual ASL or some variant unique to them. He remembered reading an article about identical twins developing a language only they understood.

                He sat in the muddle of the back bench seat, one foot on the middle hump and wished he had time to get change. He didn’t want her to see him like this – in clothes that weren’t even his. Like he had to wear someone else’s handmedowns to school.

                Her.

                He didn’t know her name. How the hell could he be in love with a girl and not know her name? He wanted a smoke. He wanted to go home.

                “He wants to talk to you,” Peggy said.

                “I don’t even know him.”

                “Wally, wants to talk to you,” she explained.

                They met away from the cars, away from the curb, close to the school. Wally bummed Ted a smoke without protest.

                “I told them I want one before we went anywhere. Said you had smokes and I didn’t.”

                “Smooth.”

                “Yeah.”

                After a few puffs, Wally said, “He’s not her boyfriend. Just a guy. He’s in the play, actually. I asked.”

                “Doesn’t matter to me,” Teddy said. “Why’d you go asking that?”

                “Thought you might want to know. If you want to back out, now’s the time.”

                “I know,” then Ted said. “Peggy has a boyfriend.”

                Wally said he knew.

                “Roach is a good guy. We have math together. Tracy has a boyfriend.”

                Tracy was the other twin. Okay.

                “His name is Rory. Kirkwood, I think. He’s the pitcher on the softball team.”

                “You should know,” Ted said. “After all, you are her best friend.”

                Wally ground his smoke out under his heel. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

                Teddy shook his head and flicked his butt towards the school, the tip still glowing when it hit the ground. “Nothing. Let’s go and see what your James Bond can do in a real movie”


WCYR NaNoWriMo – “Unsaid”

June 6, 2017

Whew.

1176 words. And I wasn’t sure I would get them in. I took the day off work for a doctor’s appointment and to get my tires done, but it’s funny how a day can get full in a hurry. But I did have fun.

My wife was reminded that she’s married to a big kid, though. Examples from our trip to Walt-Mart include, but are not limited to:

  • Buying toothbrushes and me examining the sonic and electric brushes and marvelling at the prices, pointing out that she could make friends with the vibrating sonic one and then when one of them didn’t work, I thought it was voice activated so I yelled ‘BRUSH ON’ louder and louder until she lead me away.
  • Riding the cart on the backs of her heels. By accident.
  • Walking through the produce section before leaving, picking up a vegetable and asking her “Sure you don’t want a ‘LEEK’ before we leave? It’s a long ride home.”
  • Getting a running start in the parking lot and riding the shopping cart all the way to the van, almost flipping it in the process.

But, after that and many more adventures through the day, she had to take them to the eye doctor. While it was my job to make the kid’s lunches for tomorrow (I will do that, you know), I elected to take the hour or so to write my thousand words. Well, 1176 words.

I’m very happy with the progress so far. I might get 30 000 words before the end of the month at this pace. I’m figuring that this might be 45 000 words or so when I’m done.

===========================================================================

Unsaid

Teddy spoke after they got out of sight of Ace’s house. Even then, he checked over his shoulder to be sure, his hand pushed all the way into his pockets. He needed to get back into his own clothes. He put his head back down.

“Wonder if they’ve been and gone,” Teddy asked.

He looked up when he spoke.

“Don’t know. Not wearing a watch. I didn’t see a clock on the wall.”

“Over the entranceway,” Teddy said. “From the kitchen to the front hall. Ceramic mushroom. Yellow stem, brown cap, orange underneath. The hands and numbers made of brass. The second hand just ticked in place. The clock said eleven fifteen. Batteries needed replacing and Ace probably didn’t notice.” Teddy shrugged. “Or he didn’t care.”

“What?”

“You got a smoke?”

“Yeah, sure, it’s a DuMaurier.”

“I’ll live.”

He gestured for Wally to hand one over.

“Why don’t you smoke one that your friend, Ace, gave you? He is your friend, right? The kind of guy you can trust?”

“Not funny, man.”

“I wasn’t making a joke.”

“I’ll buy you a pack when we get to a store, okay? Lemme have a smoke.”

“Oh, yeah. From your donations.”

“Our donations,” Teddy said.

They continued to walk as they talked, the long row of townhouses morphing into blocks of six townhouses together, then semi-detached homes. They took a shortcut between two houses, wire mesh gates and tall hedges on either side for privacy. On the other side was a public schoolyard, grass burnt from being cut too short by superintendents that didn’t want to cut it too often, with patches of hard packed dirt where the kids congregated. Wally’s house was on the other side of the school.

“You know what? Never mind.”

Wally stopped in the middle of the field. Teddy didn’t notice until a dozen steps later.

“Are you going to talk about this? Any of this?”

“What are you talking about? It’s just a smoke and you’re making a big deal out of it. You want me to quit bumming off you? Fine. Done.” Teddy turned to go.

“Fuck,” Wally said, fishing the pack from the breast pocket of his vest, digging his Zippo from the lighter pouch of his jeans, then walking to hand them to Teddy. “Here.”

Teddy lit up, clacked the lit shut, nodded thank you, handed the Zippo back. He walked on. Wally followed.

“You’ve seen where I live,” Teddy said. “It’s not exactly ‘Leave it to Beaver’. None of this should be a shock to you.”

“Is Ace your dad?”

Teddy shrugged. “He told me as much and he was around a lot in the first years. Grade four or five. Maybe six.”

“Well, at least it’s your dad giving you weed, then.”

“Weed? I thought it was an oregano cigarette.”

“C’mon, man.”

“Seriously. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. He gave me about a hundred bucks worth of weed in those twelve joints. Maybe more. He was pretty quick.”

“I’ve always thought you rolled joints? What’s with that machine.”

“Ace always dared to be different.”

The townhouses with shared driveways and narrow swaths of lawn – barely more than ten feet long and three feet wide – were on the side of the shortcut. There were more upscale units, that were only six homes put together, instead of the long, Mobius strip of homes where they bumped into Ace. Now, after having passed through the schoolyard, with its portables, faded paint of a hopscotch pitch and foursquare area, and onto the other side, they were greeted by tall, mature maple trees with dark red leaves. The long branches reached across the sidewalk felt comforting. The ones that went out over onto the street didn’t interfere with the passing cars. They seemed to be almost caring. Teddy found it hard to classify.

Teddy couldn’t pick out the smallest house because they all looked so massive and they were all hidden beneath larger, more mature oaks and maple trees that provided good shade in the summertime but, he guessed, a horrible plague of ‘helicopters’ in the fall. That wouldn’t be a worry. He bet Wally’s dad paid someone to clean them up. His parents wouldn’t think to offer the work to Wally and Wally wouldn’t think to suggest it.

“What do you want to do now? We can still go to the movies.”

“Yeah.”

He thought the houses all looked the same, even though he knew that they were different. He couldn’t remember what Wally’s house looked like or which way to go. He seemed to be waiting for him to make up his mind, the way he was looking up and down the street. The townhouses were easier for him to tell apart somehow. For him, he could tell which one of the townhouses was his home because it would have been his home. And wherever that was, it was better than the alternative.

“You listening to me, man?”

“Yeah.”

What Teddy wanted more than anything now was to smoke cigarettes and do nothing. Wally wouldn’t care. So long as there was music. Too much Coke wasn’t good for his complexion, but fuck it. He didn’t care at this point. He wondered if Wally’s parents had a liquor cabinet. If they did, Wally would complain it was locked. That didn’t concern him – it wouldn’t have amounted to much of one. Locks on those were more of a warning than anything preventative. Easier to have none in the house at all. And sometimes, that didn’t even help.

“You listening to me, man?” Wally said for a third time.

“What? I was thinking.”

“Well, open your eyes. Our chariots await.”

At the curb, not far away, were two cars. A baby-blue K-Car and a red, Peugeot station wagon. One twin drove the station wagon, the other was sticking her head out of the driver side of the Dodge pushing the driver forward.

“Hey guys!”

Teddy didn’t know them well enough to tell them apart. The both hand long, honey blonde hair with bangs and big blue eyes. They smiled what he thought were impossibly huge smiles with bright white teeth and they never, ever seemed to be in a bad mood. Had Ace met them, he would have asked if they were Mormons or something. Maybe Latter Day Saints.

Teddy shook his head to clear it.

The actress from the play drove the K-Car and he walked towards it. As he got to the door, he saw someone get into the passenger side and lean in to give her a peck on the cheek. She recoiled a little but Teddy couldn’t tell if it was staged. As he stood there, the one twin leaned far out the winder and hugged Wally, almost falling out and driving the actress forward into the steering wheel.

The Dodge’s horn broke the spell.

“I’ll ride with them,” Teddy said, walking towards the wagon.

Wally stopped him just as he grabbed the door handle. “Dude, you may want to introduce yourself before piling into someone’s car.”

 


WCYR NaNoWriMo – “Trust”

June 5, 2017

1057 words.

I actually had a little under 1000, but I thought I could write just a few more sentences to get me over the 1000 mark. I hand wrote them and then keyed them into Word and now I am pasting them here. I think that will be my pattern for this month. Write by hand every chance I get through the day, save the pages to type the first chance I get.

I was up for 5:00AM – late start for me, actually. I prefer getting up for 4:00AM if I can. 4:30AM at the latest. I showered, shaved, wondered about the rash developing on my cheeks and the bridge of my nose, went and got my glasses from the bedroom. As I went, Mulligan, our formerly fat little bastard (we cut down on his food and he’s thinned out and we’ve likely extended his life another 5 years – he’s already 14 or 15 years old as it is) meowed fit to beat the band. At least, fit for me to beat him. He’s loud when he’s hungry.

I went into the bedroom for my glasses.

“I thought you were going to feed the cat before you showered?” My wife lay still on the bed, her voice coming ominously from a hair enshrouded pillow.

Oh, shit. I had said that, hadn’t I? I keep a rigid schedule in MS Outlook and MS To-Do and I neglected to change ‘feed cat‘ to after ‘shower‘ and before ‘writing 500 words‘.

“Sorry. I’ll do it tomorrow.”

“Love you. Have a good day at work.”

I kissed the top of her head. “Love you, too.”

“Honey, you’re crushing my arm.”

Oh, shit. Need to be more careful.

“Love you,” I said and went to feed the cat.

Then I scribbled out a few hundred words before work. Then a few hundred more before a meeting. Then a few hundred more waiting for a meeting. Then a few hundred more after the meeting, along with a few thumb-typed emails ( I have ‘Blackberry thumbs’). And as I ate my lunch, I typed and did light editing. And now, sadly, after my copypasta (do you see what I did there? Clever, eh?) I must go to work.

=========================================================================

Trust

                “Remember doing this for me and your mom when you were a kid?”

Teddy nodded. “Yeah, and when money got better I would hop the wall and get you smokes from the convenience store.”

“Black Cat number 7s,” he said. “Now that was a smoke. What are you smoking these days?”

“Players King Size.”

Ace nodded. “Not bad. I’m smoking home rolled, basically Players without a filter. I bet your girlfriend there is smoking DuMaurier.”

“Fuck you,” Wally said.

Ace laughed. Teddy nodded. Ace laughed harder.

“Why’d you get down the machine? Fall back on hard times?”

Ace stopped laughing.

“Not exactly,” Ace said.

He pinched tobacco from the tin and took some ‘rubbed oregano’ from the Ziploc baggie on the table, combining it all together so that there was a reasonably visual confirmation of a decent ‘spice’ to tobacco ratio. He chambered a filterless white tube in the machine, pinching off the end and then, using the winding handle on the machine, packed the tobacco mixture into the tube. Instant cigarette.

He talked while he made them, assembling the smokes in a smooth, one piece flow. No failures. No interruptions. The finished product went into a metal cigar case with a decorative stone cover, the stone the colour of blueberry swirl icecream.

“So, you didn’t know I was here, eh? Your Mom would tell you. You don’t think she knows I’m here? Oh, she knows. Just not exactly where, is all. I sent her letters. Not the kind you send in the mail. You know how it works, boy.”

Ace cut his eyes over to Wally. “When you want a letter to be read, you hand deliver it and make sure that the guy hand delivering it doesn’t leave until its read.”

“Who’s to say they won’t lie?” Wally looked over at his friend. He wanted him to speak up and defend his mom. He didn’t know what to defend her from, but it sounded like this guy Ace was saying she had been lying to Teddy. Wally just didn’t know about what.

“You’re a brave little injun, aren’t you?” Ace said, looking from Teddy to Wally. “Sticking up for your friend like that. But anyway, in my line of work. You trust people. When you don’t, there’s consequences.”

He finished six cigarettes, which was one level of the case filled. There was another row to go. As he started those, he told a story.

“I was so strung out on coke and weed and booze what I decided I’d had enough. I mailed one of those letters – one of those special delivery ones I already told you about – and sent it to one of my bosses. All it said was ‘I’m out’. Along with my name. They called me Bundy. My nickname. Get it?”

Wally didn’t confirm where the nickname could have come from. Ace continued.

“I don’t go by that no more. I much prefer Ace. Right, boy?”

Teddy didn’t move.

“Anyway, when they found me, I was standing by my window. I was living in a hotel bar. Over the bar. My window looked out over the back alley. I was standing by my window with my bedsheet tied in a noose around my neck, the other end attached to my bed. I was that close to hanging myself, but they stopped me.

“I was so high. I didn’t give a fuck. See, there was a leak in my organization.”

“A leak?” Wally asked. He continued to look over to Teddy for some kind of confirmation of all of the things he was hearing. Teddy kept his head down the whole time Ace talked.

“A fucking smitch, kid. And they thought it was me. Nothing I could do. I felt like I let them down by making them think that of me. So, I went and got as much blow as I could and got ready to roll.”

“To kill yourself?” Still nothing.

“I had a bad habit, kid. And they thought I was talking to the pigs so that I could keep that habit. When you do what I did for a living, you were supposed to sell it. Not use it. And there were other people that were using that wanted to make it look like I was the one who the rat. I ain’t no fucking rat.

“Anyway, whether it was good luck or back luck, they stopped me and untied me and brought me back to the clubhouse. And I ain’t talking about no Cub Scout clubhouse, boy.”

Teddy didn’t move.

“They were cooking dinner in the garage, drinking beer and smoking. Cigarettes, that is.

“And they all stop when they sees me and they ask what was I thinking. Why didn’t I just come to them if I was having trouble. They would help. That’s when I grabbed the butcher knife.”

Wally recoiled. Teddy didn’t budge.

“I told them to take the butcher knife from my hands and cut off my hand, then and there. I put my hand on the table. If I flinched, I told them, that means I was a snitch and deserved a fuck a lot more than just having my hand cut off and they could do what they would with me. If I didn’t flinch, they would have my hand to God that I would never betray them.”

“Holy fuck.”

“So, you ask me how I know this boy’s mother knows I’m in town? It’s because someone I trust told me so.”

All in all, Ace had rolled up twelve perfect little filterless cigarettes. He clacked the case shut and handed it to Teddy.

“This is for you,” Ace said. “You should be able t osell them for decent cash. The money from the cut you gave me should more than pay for itself. Two, maybe three times over. You’re a good salesman. You were the one that made it so I got big bucks when we pulled the same scam you and your girlfriend were running just now.”

“Stop calling me his girlfriend.”

Ace ignored Wally. “Once you sell these, if you want, you can come back for more. I’ll give you a good price.”

He winked at Wally and leaned in to Teddy and clapped him hard on the shoulder. “You know you can trust me on that, right, boy?”