November Ponderings

Look, I know I haven’t posted much on the ol’ Don’t worry, chums. It’s gonna be alright. See, I’ve been spending some time with my pal and yours, Chuggie. I’m deep into the next book. DEEP. When will it be ready? Soon.

Oh, but sitting on all the fanciness is driving me insane! I wish to show you a sketch of the cover, but the finished cover is going to rock so hard that I couldn’t in good conscience spoil it like that. I wish to share tiny excerpts, but that’s even worse. So what are we left with? For starters, THIS:

How can I follow up a picture of Jordy angrily devouring a duckling? I can’t, can I? But if I don’t try, this post will feel incomplete. So here are some things that have rattled in my brain recently, beginning with something current.

-Something’s happening right now. I don’t like it. I can’t change it. All I can do is watch. It’s football related. Oh, and there’s another thing exactly like that that’s baby related.  Well, he’s up. Looks like this post is over.

-Baby eyes are silver in the infrared baby video monitor. When he stares blankly at the camera lens, that’s one of his many techniques for stealing your soul.

-Eli Manning can’t grow a mustache. The New York Giants play their games in New Jersey. I haven’t verified it, but I feel like they practice in New Jersey, too.

-You know who CAN grow a mustache? Me. I haven’t had the handlebars out for a while. Might be time to bring those back. And moon boots. And Saved by the Bell. Wow, it hurt my brain just THINKING of that last one. Actually typing it gave me a seizure. Now I don’t feel good. Learn from my folly.

-Shoveled the driveway today. It was the first driveway shoveling of the season. Just think, in 7 or 8 short months, I’ll be able to put the snow shovel back in the garage rafters where it belongs. But let’s be honest, I’ll probably just leave it leaned up against the house all summer.

-It was the squirrels, not I, who broke the truce.

-Two football players hurt on the same play… Makes me think having THREE players hurt on the same play is an inevitability. Then four, then five, then… Someday, all 22 players on the field will be hurt on the same play. I’ll be so pissed if that doesn’t happen in my lifetime.

-Cannibalism isn’t right for everyone, but it’s probably right for YOU.

-This afternoon there was a little doe eating the pumpkin that I splatted behind my house at the mouth of the “Nature Trail.” Any other year, we would have had venison for supper tonight. Instead, it was the doe who ate supper courtesy of ME.  Don’t worry, though. I’m not getting soft on deer. I’m getting tough on pumpkins.

-None of these musings have been particularly entertaining. Maybe I’m tired. I should go to bed soon and then get up at 4am to write Chuggie stuff.

-Here’s a picture of a monkey.

Ditch Men

Here’s a piece of flash fiction I did last month. Maybe it’ll hold you over until I have some bigger news to share.

Ditch Men by Brent Michael Kelley

“Don’t look at the ditch men!” was the old saying. Not that anyone believed in them. Maybe a hundred years ago, back before electricity and decent car headlights, folks might have. Ghostly men by the side of the road? It was for kids. Still, driving the long, empty stretch of Highway 64 late at night and all alone, I couldn’t help but think about them. There wasn’t much else to keep me awake after the radio stations all went to static. I was so tired.

They were supposed to be these guys that appeared in the ditch. Ditch men, see? They’d just pop up and scare you. BOOGA-BOOGA! It was such an old ghost story, though. I was sure spooky men standing in the ditch were a lot scarier back when 64 was a little road through the big woods and everyone drove a Model T.

The thought made me laugh mid-gulp, and I snarfed some energy drink right out my nose. It burned, I swerved, and then I laughed more. I leaned over to get a napkin out of the glove box, and I… saw something… just a glimpse…

I told myself it was nothing, just a trick of the light from a hi-beam reflecting off a speed limit sign or something. My own stupid imagination playing tricks on me, for sure. What was I, five years old? A few miles further, I saw another shape in the ditch, but I refused to look at it. Instead, I sped up.

Every quarter of a mile or so, it reappeared and I re-ignored it. Soon I had to look, just to silence that childish fear. Nothing to see, really, just an extra dark shape with a lighter shape on top. A blur as I sped past. It was quickly left behind.

Another came, and I squinted into the darkness of the ditch. Maybe it was a man, but it also could have been a stump. Or a fence post. Or anything. I couldn’t tell, and then it was behind me. I slowed down for the next one – came all the way to a stop – then reversed in an arc to get it in my headlights.

It took a moment for my brain to register what I saw, but there in my headlights was… a ditch man. Tall, shadowy, white-faced and grinning. Orange pinpricks of light glowed at the centers of his oil-black eyes. The orange grew bright, and I felt a sick chill. I blinked, and he seemed to have gotten closer.

Tires screeched as I stomped the gas. My mouth hung open, but I could barely breathe.

Every fifty yards or so I saw that pair of glowing eyes in the ditch. Then there were two pair. Then three. Then five. They came every thirty yards… every twenty!

I put the pedal down.

The ditch men whipped by faster and faster, getting closer to the road… up on the shoulder! Faster and faster… they were on the white line!

A truck tire in the road! I hit it. I lost control. I don’t remember the crash itself, but I landed twenty feet or so from my upside down car, barely able to move.

And now I’m in the ditch.

So are they.

Every time I close my eyes, the ditch men come closer until I open them again.

As I lay here holding my eyes open with shaking, bloody fingers, I can hear them whispering and cackling. They can’t wait for me to blink again. They can’t wait to make me a ditch man, too.