I plunged my Buck knife into the deer carving out a piece of meat for my dog to eat. Lady’s golden tail wagged as she laid on her front paws setting to work on the offering. I shot three arrows straight into the lungs and heart of the creature like I was taught. It came down easy as it was just a big refrigerator box on which I had drawn a stag looking figure with a Sharpie. My dog didn’t mind chewing the cardboard to play along.
She was a great dog and we ran around the forest for years together as explorers, hunters, treasure seekers, fishermen and woodland settlers. Even as I write this I can still imagine what it was like to wrap myself around her giant frame and bury my face in that comforting golden fur. Silent and strong she never strayed from my side. I can still smell her special flea and tick collar mixed with tomato sauce. We took more than one bath together bathed in that thick red anti skunk smell remedy.
When I was twelve I was in the thick of budding adolescence high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our five acre property was heavily forested with Oak, Fir, Cedar and Ponderosa Pine trees. I remember telling my parents –
“I’m never living in the woods. I’m outta here to the city as soon as I can.”
Of course what I didn’t realize at the time was that the adventures I had as a boy would run way deeper than teenage rebellion ever could. As an adult the only place I find peace and tranquility is among the swooshes of wind swept bows, the trickling of streams and the gentle songs of visiting birds.
I’ll be seeking refuge in the forested woodlands wherever I am for the rest of my life.
Danny Machal April 20th, 2015
A small boy adjusted the straps on his backpack as a strange man’s voice lingered in the air.
Looking down the street pensively for his school bus he wondered aloud, “Where does his power come from?”
“From you. He takes a little bit of you while you are sleeping,” the voice echoed.
“That’s stupid,” he snorted seeing the bright yellow bus roof down the road.
He tried to step forward but his feet had sank into the ground. Ankles clenched in a vice of sand he struggled and screamed for help as grit filled his mouth.
“Is it?” he heard.
I used to dream. I used to dream so vividly I half expected Red Forman was going to invade my mind and declare it an “Unauthorized thought process” like he did to Raiden in the movie Fortress (1992). I don’t dream that way anymore for a long list of reasons. -D
What are your dreams like?
Danny Machal April 18th, 2015
The second thanksgiving I had for my twelfth or thirteenth birthday was my most memorable and favorite childhood meal.
Mother asked me, “What do you want for your birthday dinner?”
I half jokingly said, “Thanksgiving.”
She didn’t seem to get the joke (I was hopeful she wouldn’t anyway) and before I knew it things were in full swing a few days before my birthday. A giant iced butterball was thawing in our extra fridge and my father was putting together all the ingredients to make home made croissants. They did it that way. Dad always did the baking and Mom did most of the heavy stuff. Even in home repairs it was my Mom we bought the tool box for.
Thanksgiving was always a standard spread. I can’t think of anytime that we deviated from the normal recipe list:
The ritual never changed either and on my Birthday it was no different. My Mom would wake up at like 5am to put the turkey on. The lettuce was soaked in salt water and a whole loaf of bread was torn apart into a big stainless steel bowl for the stuffing. They were like that though (my parents). They were both from the old school and things rarely changed. Much of that was passed down to me.
In many ways my upbringing was very a traditional “Leave it to Beaver” when it came to the way our home life was conducted and the values I was taught. Some of the biggest pet peeves I have (and my little family unit can attest to this) is table manners and having dinner together at the table almost everyday.
The meal went off as most thanksgivings do. We ate our faces off and it was glorious. I can’t even remember what the present were or if we had cake but damn do I remember delicious turkey and dressing.
Danny Machal April 17th, 2015
French feverishly worked with leathery gnarled tips poking out of her brown ‘hand me down’ finger-less gloves. The night air was ice chilled but this client was paying double as long as she did her work here -tonight.
Among the crumbling concrete buildings and trash cluttered streets glowing under bright flickering yellow neon lights she sat quietly. The city of Metroplex’s citizens were trained in one trade skill since birth. They would perform this one craft until the age of thirty. They were all masters by then and there wasn’t much else they could know so most just kept on doing it. It was all random. French got lucky as she was a knitter and not a sewage pipe shit scraper.
With wrinkled brow and old green eyes she stared down trained on the clacking wooden needles. Pulling this and looping that. At least she assumed they were clacking. She couldn’t hear them anymore. Here with these familiar worn grooves in the wood and plying her trade is where she found her transcendence among the youthful urbanites that plunged Metroplex into filth and chaos.
Bright and blood red was the yarn she was working with tonight and the little sweater was nearly complete. It was beautiful and fit for a toddler. The client said they would meet her here soon.
* * *
“Give me that bottle Jorn. You always drink half of it before I even get a taste. You are a girl you aren’t supposed to drink so much.”
“You offered and it helps my artistic vibe. I am a painter after all,” she took another swig. “How many credits was thing anyway? It tastes awful.”
“Not awful enough apparently and it was as many credits as I can spare on a carpenters salary. This is as romantic as I get.”
They did this on Saturday nights. It was standard procedure to haunt the Cyberdeliah, listen to fast hard electro music and trade credits for a bagged bottle of mystery booze. From there Jorn and Chek would wander around the park kicking over trash cans and getting drunk enough to not feel the cold.
Chek zipped up a grey faux leather jacket up to his chin. A thin silver chain hung down his thigh and bounced against his black skinny jeans as he walked alongside Jorn. She shuffled closer to him and the leather straps that hung from her old biker jacket flowed in the breeze. She held out the stained brown bagged bottle toward him.
“Here. You look like you need a little antifreeze,” she winked at him as a glint of light bounced off her jet black cropped hair.
He smiled and took the bottle quickly leaning in to kiss her lips before she could pull away. A kiss from Jorn was all the antifreeze he ever needed.
* * *
Chek’s lips felt warm against hers and she felt the old familiar tingle in her belly as she pushed back. Reaching down to tangle her colorful paint stained fingers with his she felt the rough texture of callouses built from years of hard labor. They were rough and strong but gentle. Always gentle with her. Many times she felt she didn’t deserve him. He was much too good for her.
They walked quietly up a small illuminated path hand in hand their heavy booted footfalls on the concrete thudded a warning to anyone ahead of them that there would be trouble coming if they wanted it. The city was a bit off in the distance but the glow of the night life escaped no corner of this sector for miles. To them it was a beautiful anarchy. The leadership was young but still they clung to the old ways.
Chek took a pull from the brown bag and suddenly came to a halt. She looked quizzically at his eyes which had grown to the large size she had only seen when he was ready to fight. Instinctively she thumbed the front pocket of her jacket where she kept the blade. Whipping her head around to take a count of how many there were she brandished the familiar weapon flicking it open quietly.
But she only saw an old woman. She folded the blade closed and stuffed it back into her pocket.
“Chek it is just an old lady. Doing what?” she whispered and squinted to focus her eyes. “Knitting.”
The bottle exploded into a hundred pieces as Chek spiked it onto the concrete. The booze inside quickly soaked the paper and began running out onto the filthy foot path. Jorn stepped back in surprise.
“Baby?” she was confused and began to get scared. ‘Was he that drunk already?’
Chek fell to his knees and began to sob uncontrollably. She knelt beside him and put her arm around his shoulders. Mucus ran from his nose in long strands as his tear ducks poured out droplets of agony on to the ground in a torrential storm of emotion and pain.
The old woman didn’t even notice his wailing as she smiled to herself holding the small blood red sweater up to the light pleased with her craftsmanship.
Chek looked up and saw the completed sweater in full view now. This only made him wail louder and cry harder. Jorn held her body against his. The trembling of whatever torment spell he was in shook them both violently. She clung tight to him feeling every thud of his heart and pulse of his seizing muscles waiting for it to pass but something had torn her man open. This was a wound that ran deep. This was something he had clearly never shared with her.
Danny Machal April 16th, 2015
My old writing teacher impressed upon us to write what we mean.
“Don’t be afraid to be direct and forward in your writing.”
Take this phrase:
“Weak writing never takes a position.”
“It seems like most of the writing these days is really weak and not opinionated in the slightest.”
That one asshole friend you have generates the same amount of rage as a smug author. But you have to respect it. Confidence levels will bleed through anything you create. There is just no way around that.
Painter. Bold colors or safe soft colors?
Programmer. Simple procedural reused code or innovative optimized Objects?
Ice Sculptor. Another castle or a giant detailed omnipotent dragon prepared to smote down anyone brave enough to catch the cold icy stare?
However, balance must be had in all things. You can’t write an entire volume of direct statements or there would be no harmony to your prose. The beauty of written language has and always be the ability to weave a magickal tale that your readers will never forget.
That is all for today. Be strong and don’t let yourself be pulled in any one direction when it comes to your craft. Keep to your own road. People will respect you for that in the end and you will have created something to be proud of.
Danny Machal April 15th, 2015