Parenthood

“Bad Parents” – Chuck Wendig’s Weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. TRIGGER WARNING

Just in under the deadline, here is my story for Chuck Wendig’s challenge from this past week. A story about “Bad Parents”, 1000 words or less.

This is not the story I originally intended to tell. That one I wrote, rewrote, rewrote again, and then finally deleted. I’m not ready to tell that one yet.

This one is dark, very dark. I give you fair warning now that it is about child abuse, murder, and such like things. If this is the kind of thing that upsets you, skip this one.

No one ever tells you about the smell. The movies, the shows, they make it look almost…glamorous, when you shoot someone. A bang, a puff of smoke, a bright light, a splatter of pretty crimson that paints the wall like that abstract painter guy…Jackson-something. Mom always liked his stuff. I didn’t get it. The smell is terrible. Like copper and shit and sewage. Maybe it’s different if you shoot them somewhere other than the balls and lower stomach?

Christ. I can hear him still. I wish he’d die but I don’t have the stomach or the will to shoot him again. And maybe…maybe I kind of want him to suffer, even if each groan that escapes his lips makes me feel like vomiting. Even through the door, I can hear him dragging himself across the floor croaking a strange, strangled, gurgling noise like some sort of sick frog. Disgusting. Bleeding and shitting all over the floor, no doubt. Mom is going to be so pissed off.

After all, he is…was…her husband.

I look down at the gun in my hand and I wonder how many bullets I have left. I never really learned about them. I mean, I knew the basics, but I didn’t even know how to load or reload or whatever you are supposed to do with them. I do know you point the dangerous end and you flip the safety thing and you pull the trigger. And not the button that makes the bullet-thingy fall out. I guess TV is good for something after all, huh? There’s always that ditzy girl who points the gun and presses the wrong button. Or gets reminded the safety is on. Dumb!

I wonder if I should shoot her too. Mom, I mean. Part of me screams at the idea, revolts. Another…not so much.

She let it happen, after all. She had to have known. No…she did know. I can’t make excuses for her. She knew. I told her. I told her what he was doing, how he was touching me…there. I feel sick again, just thinking about it. Have to force myself to stop. She knew, but she didn’t do anything about it. He was husband number three, after all, and she wasn’t getting any younger. She said that all the time.

So she put up with the shit. The laziness. The yelling. The name calling. The slaps, the punches, the bruises. The way he looked at me, her daughter. She listened when he lied and when he locked himself in my room she bought that the door must have “accidently” locked itself. When I would find any excuse I could to be with her, she said I was just too clingy. Seperation Anxiety? Really Mom?

I didn’t tell her at first. I was scared. Scared that he’d hurt me worse, hurt her worse. He threatened that he would. Said that if I told he would beat the shit out of her, break her, make sure no other man would ever want to be with her again. Did I want that? Huh, sweetie? You want your mom to have to earn her living lying on her back for ten dollars a pop, cause she sure as hell wouldn’t make more than that when he got finished with her.

But then one day she found me. Crying. Rocking. She took me in her arms and she rocked with me and she asked me.

“Cass, sweety? Is there something wrong?”
And I felt warm. Safe. I told her.

I still feel the sting of her hand. The bruises have faded but I still feel each punch. My hair still hurts when it remembers her dragging me through the hall, screaming and calling me a liar, a whore, a filthy little tempter. It was my fault, see. I shouldn’t dress like such a slut. She burned my makeup and my music and most of my heart that day.

“Casssss.”

What’s left of my heart plummets. He moans out again.

“Casssssss…c…c…call…..9…”

He stops, coughing. I hear something thick and wet splatter against the wood floor, and something in me snaps.

I open the door.

He’s right there. The smell is even worse now. The floor doesn’t look like a pretty painting. It looks horrible. Dark. Brownish. I gag. He looks up at me. Kind of looks like one of those monsters, zombies. I don’t know…I don’t like those shows. Too gory. He reaches out his hand.

“Cass…sw…sweetie…”

There is a pop, a shockingly loud pop and a ringing in my ears before I even realize I’ve shot him. There is a strange, gurgling rattle, and then he’s quiet. The only sound is the ringing in my ears.

I close the door. I cry. I can’t help it. God, what am I going to do? I sit there, at the door. I sit there for a long time.

And then I hear it. Keys in the lock. Mom is home. I look down. How many bullets are left?

I don’t know.

Maybe just one.

My hands tremble. I am so fucked. So, so fucked. The door begins to open. For a moment, it really is just like the movies. Everything is slow, deliberate. I look at the gun and I think, yes, maybe there’s just one more bullet left.

I raise my arm. The gun is so, so heavy. Heavier than I thought it would be. The door swings wider. I sit straighter. Proper. Ladylike. She walks in all fake smiles and empty cheer and an arm full of crap. She looks at me.

“Cass, sweetie? Is there something wrong?”

I smile. I press the gun beneath my chin, and I wonder.

Will she believe me now?

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Awesome Mural by C.E. Coburn!

I am so stoked! I commissioned the insanely talented C. E. Coburn to help design a mural that I’m painting on the wall of the bedroom my two 8 year old boys share this weekend. The idea was to take the boys, turn them into chibi-style cartton characters, and put in similarly designed caricatures of five each of their favorite cartoon characters. This is the black and white line drawing of the result (sorry for the pixelation, but I had to shrink it a lot to fit here). I’ll also take a pic once we have it painted, in color, on the wall!

muralsmall

 

 

There are some things I can no longer excuse… (TRIGGER WARNING: Child Abuse)

Alright, folks. Time for a more serious posting. This one is about someone that I never met, but who has, regardless, had a tremendous impact on my life. She was one of the founders of the living history/medieval group that I am part of, and an incredibly influential writer of science fiction and fantasy. Her name was Marion Zimmer Bradley.

And she was a child molester.

I have known for a long time that MZB was surrounded by controversy. Her husband, Walter Breen, was a reprehensible man who fairly openly molested young boys, a fact that Marion was both aware of and covered for, countless times. As a survivor of sexual abuse myself, I found her excuses to be despicable…but I always found a way to empathize with, if not accept, her position. She said in one of the depositions for his trials to one of the prosecutors, “Clearly, you have never been in love.” That spoke to me. I know too well what it is like to love someone enough to excuse their wickedness, to want to make believe it didn’t happen and to, no matter how wrong it is to do so, want to brush that part of them under a rug and pretend it doesn’t exist.

Then, a couple weeks ago, something happened. Moira Greyland, MZB’s daughter with her monster of a husband, spoke up. She told the world that, horrible as he was…MZB was worse. She had abused Moira since she was three years old, up until she was twelve. She beat her, strangled her, and attempted to drown her for refusing to be her own mother’s lover. It is a horrid, sickening thing to read about, but I read it because the truth is more important than my discomfort. Now, I have to question all that time I spent silently excusing MZB’s actions. I have to gag at how often I mentioned, almost proudly, that she had named and helped found my medieval group.

There are those who will say that we should separate the art from the artist. That these terrible crimes in no way taint the artistic works of the person who committed them. Alas, I am not so able to separate my emotions on this matter. When I was a young boy, I was sexually abused by a teenage cousin. The memories of that stick with me to this day, and it took many years to get over the feelings of anxiety they caused in me. So maybe I am just too emotionally swayed by this to forgive the art of the artist. Thing is, a monster may make beautiful art, but I still wouldn’t have it hanging in my living room.

So tonight, I am going to throw out the books I own that are by MZB. Granted, I wasn’t a huge fan, but I do have some of her anthologies. I will also never buy anything that her estate profits from; her children were disowned, and the money from her estate supports her life-partner/secretary, who also had a hand in covering up the abuses of Breen and MZB. I don’t expect everyone I know will do this. I’m not asking them to. But it’s something I must do.

Here are some links for those who want to read more about this mess.

http://deirdre.net/marion-zimmer-bradley-its-worse-than-i-knew/

http://www.sff.net/people/stephen.goldin/mzb/

A tale of two fathers…

Today has been a rough day. My stepson, whom I adore, is away with his father for three weeks. And as I expected, my wife’s ex and his wife are playing games with us. Despite an agreement that we are allowed to call every night to speak briefly to our son, they ignore calls, texts, and when they do respond (rarely) promising to call back later, they never follow through. We have spoken to him a total of 18 seconds in the last week. My stepdaughter, who we all joke is really some time-switched bio child of mine, as our personalities are so alike, had to work a double shift today because her work fired one of their staff and she has been tasked to fill in. I got to see her for all of ten minutes this morning. My oldest bio son was able to share breakfast with me, before having to run off for a week on a Scout’s summer camp trip. I’ll see him briefly next Saturday before he goes off for another week with his mom for her summer visitation. My youngest bio son remained, but I had to spend most the day away from him, as I was helping my elderly father-in-law, with a wicked heart condition, do some emergency repairs on my wife’s childhood home…which they are selling.

But the roughest part of the day was the realization that, for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a father to call today.

I am a man who was blessed with two dads. My stepdad, David, will always be the person I think of most as “Dad”. He raised me, taught me so much about life, and loved me like I was his own. He passed away just over four years ago, after losing his battle with esophageal cancer. My bio dad, Roger…well, as a child, I barely knew him. He was an alcoholic and a career Navy man. When he wasn’t out at see, he was drunk. But he turned his life around, and as an adult, we got to know each other all over again, and I am not ashamed to say how proud I am of the man that he became. All of us, me and my siblings and my mother, felt this way.

He passed this last January.

I’ll be honest…I don’t have a lot of heart for words tonight. I had thought to do some writing with a child-free evening ahead of me. Instead, I have been low, sad, and sleepy. But…my dads would have wanted me to write something, and I felt terrible not doing so. So here I am. I am going to end this piece with the toughest words I have ever had to write in all my life. The first I wrote myself, the second, I collaborated with my siblings. The obituaries of my fathers.

***

My stepfather:

P01 David W. Ruth, USN (Ret.)

Warner Robins – Known as “Jackhammer” to his friends and co-workers, David Whitney Ruth died at the age of 63 on Sunday, February 21, 2010, after a hard-fought battle with cancer. He passed in the peace of his home with Rosemary, his loving wife of twenty-seven years, at his side.

Born in Bisbee, Arizona, to David L. and Cora W. Ruth on August 18, 1946, David was the eldest of three sons. He graduated from Bisbee High School in 1965, and soon thereafter joined the United States Navy. It was while serving that he met Rosemary, whom he married on August 27, 1983.

A combat veteran of the Vietnam War, David retired from the Navy in 1985 after twenty years of proud service, having attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer 1st Class. Subsequently, he continued to serve his country as a Civil Servant first at Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and then at Robins Air Force Base, where he transferred in 2000 and from which he retired in 2008 due to illness.

An extraordinarily creative man, David had a lifelong passion for woodworking, metalworking, and machining, as well as love of the art of calligraphy. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, swimming, was an avid reader as well as a motorcycle enthusiast and collector. However, of all his passions, none was greater than that for his family, to whom he was absolutely dedicated.

He will forever live in the hearts of his wife, Rosemary; children, Joseph, David, Mark, Julia, Shauna and Michelle, along with their significant others; eighteen grandchildren; brothers, Charles (known as “Bill”), and Jeffery; numerous nieces and nephews; lifelong friend, Ed Liest, and many other close friends and associates. His parents, David and Cora Ruth, and his ex-wife, Sandy, predeceased him.

At the request of the deceased, there will be no public service. In lieu of flowers or other memorials, the family respectfully requests that any such considerations be given to a local hospice organization. The family wishes to express special thanks and appreciation to the staff and caregivers of the Heart of Georgia Hospice.

***

My bio father:

Norfolk, VA:  Roger Paul Baron, died peacefully January 4, 2014 in the presence and prayers of family and friends. He was born September 27, 1943, in Manteno, Illinois, to the late Grace Ross Baron and Orville Baron. Enlisting at the age of 17, Roger spent 30 years of honored military service in the Navy, rising to the rank of Command Master Chief and serving in both the Cuban Missile Crisis and Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

He made his home in the Hampton Roads area for the remainder of his life and was fiercely passionate about family, friendship, and helping those around him, especially those in the recovery community. He was a beloved Father, Grandfather, Son and Friend and leaves a legacy of service and a family strongly rooted in the foundation he helped to build for them.

He loved and is survived by his four children and their spouses: Joseph Patrick Baron (Jennifer), Julia Lynn Escobar (Joseph Wang), Mark Ross Baron (Myndee), and Michelle Kay Henry (Joe); and grandchildren Kevin Baron, Cameron Baron, Hailey Escobar, Katherine Escobar, Emily Escobar, Jaden Baron, Riley Baron, Elijah Sebboy, Robert Lindsey, Anslea Bell, Xander Mann, Adam Wang, his ex-wife Rosemary Ruth and his long-time friend of more than 50 years, Jim Driver.

He is preceded in death by his older brother David Baron and also survived by younger brother Michael Baron.

The family would like to give extraordinary thanks and appreciation to Takeisha Bishop, Raina West and all the Hospice caregivers for their compassion and consummate care and tremendous assistance which will forever be appreciated.

There will be no graveside service. Condolences may be offered to the family at (funeral home website link).  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Roger’s name to the Wounded Warriors Project at http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/.

This one may be rough for some of you to read (Triggers: Cancer, kids, life)

Before I begin this post, I want to make it clear that I don’t want this blog to seem to have taken a sudden turn for sadness. It has been a rough few days, but I am, truly, doing quite well despite of it. Sometimes, though, a touch of sadder memories is a good thing, that helps us appreciate the things we have. I’ve got a story I have been thinking of writing for here for a while, and though it has its harder moments, I hope you’ll read it through to the end. Unlike most of my work here, this piece is absolutely non-fiction.

I remember it clearly, the day my son was diagnosed with cancer.

I was working two jobs at the time, trying to make ends meet while paying a ridiculously high amount of child support; don’t get me wrong, I begrudge my children nothing, and would give every cent to see them well-cared for, but even the judge who passed the support balance commented that he thought it was ludicrously high and did not know how I was going to live on the remainder. Well, truth be told, I couldn’t. So I found myself, a career professional, in need of a second job, one that would be flexible with hours and let me bring in just enought to ensure that me and my wife and step-kids kept a roof over our heads, while ensuring my bio-kids kept one over theirs.

So I took a job delivering pizzas. It wasn’t a bad job, but it was rough, hot work in the middle of summer, and when I wasn’t hurrying about town dropping off pies, I was in the back room, washing dishes in scalding hot water and sweating like mad. I was in the washroom when my phone buzzed. The manager did NOT allow calls while at work, but I glanced down, saw it was my ex, and due to our rather combatative divorce, we never called each other unless it was something to do with the boys. I went to my manager, explained the situation, and he was unusually understanding in giving me the time to step outside and return her call.

I apologized for missing her call, and asked what was up. She explained that Riley, our then five year old, was running a fever again, and that she was taking him to the med stop, as it was Sunday and our normal pediatrician wasn’t open. Riley’s regular illnesses had been a point of contention for several months at that point. My ex invariably blamed me, saying he always came back from my house sick, and I invariably blamed her, saying he always came to my house sick. It was always passed off as a cold or allergies or whatever the bug of the week was that was going around. I told her that was fine, and to call and let me know when she found out what was going on. She agreed, and I returned to the dish pit.

A couple hours passed. I was scheduled that night to work from 5:30 till midnight, though that typically meant I’d actually be there till 1 or later with post-evening clean up. She had called right as I had started my shift, and I was beginning to get a bit irked that she hadn’t called back yet. Finally, though, my phone rang, and again I cleared a break and went outside to take it.

She told me they were on their way to the Children’s Hospital.

Instantly, my nerves were on end. I asked her why, my voice slightly a tremble. She said that the med stop had taken some blood samples and that they didn’t think their equipment was reading it right, but to be on the safe side, they wanted her to take him to the Children’s Hospital and have them check him out. She was irritated at how vague they had been, and I was worried about it, but there wasn’t much to do. She promised to keep me updated, and I went back to work.

Worry consumed me for the rest of the evening. My stomach knotted up, my heartbeat pounded furiously. I made a few mistakes, got chewed out. I apologized profusely, and though he was irritated, my manager was fairly understanding. Unfortunately, we’d already had another driver call out, so he couldn’t afford to send me home. I worked the rest of the night in a mood of underlying doubt and worry. At 1:30AM, I was finally off. I called my ex immediately, and she told me that they had taken blood, but that the lab wouldn’t be able to process it for a while and that for now, they were just waiting in a hospital room. I asked if she needed anything, and she said no.

I remember, clearly, the difference in her voice at that moment. Her normal tone of underlying anger was absent, replaced by worry, stress. For a moment, we were no longer a messily divorced couple – we were parents, sharing mutual concern for our child together. She promised to call me as soon as anything came up. I thanked her, sincerely, absent of paranoia or anger or doubt at her word. I went home and went to bed, as I had to be up in about five hours for my day job.

I’d been asleep for two and half hours when my phone rang. I had barely been able to get to sleep, and the sleep I did get was fitful and unsettled. The buzz of my phone had me up with a start. I answered it.

The line was silent.

I said my ex’s name, afraid we’d lost the connection. Faintly, I heard sobbing. I said her name again, panicked.

“What’s going on? Are you there?”

“Well,” she said, her voice wavering between sob and sound, “they know it’s not a virus. They’re just trying to figure out what kind of cancer her has.”

I don’t know that words can fully capture the absolute devastation that those words can deliver to a parent. The best I can manage seems clumsy and no where near strong enough to convey the feeling, but I will try. Initially, it felt very much like someone had just slammed me in the chest with a sledgehammer. Pain, actual physical pain, wracked my body, and the wind was knocked out of me. I had trouble breathing.

“What?”

“Cancer,” she said, and then broke into unbridled sobs of anguish. Unwanted, unbidden, mine joined hers. My wife woke with the sound, and joined us.

The week following was a roller-coaster of emotions. Tests upon tests were performed, and finally, they came to us with the “good” news. Riley had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, type Pre B. Of all the cancers that strike in childhood, it was considered the “best” to have. At his age, it was highly treatable, with a large chance of being beaten back permanently. It didn’t make the process easier, the emotions less painful, but it was a glimmer of hope. He had a great team of doctors, who explained that treatment for leukemia had come so far in the last ten years, and that it was going to be tough and he couldn’t promise anything but there was hope.

***

It has been three years now since we found Riley’s cancer. The stuff that was hardest in the beginning became strangely routine. The monthly lumbar punctures, the chemo, the regular bouts of neutropenia where we had to scrub everything in the house with Lysol, wear masks, and keep away even the most well meaning friends and family. It all became part of normal, daily life. We had some stumbles, some real scares. Once, his liver began to go into failure, but we caught it quickly and changed the course of his treatment. Another time, his brain began swelling, but again, the docs caught it and we changed paths again. Now, we are only six months away from being done with his treatment, hopefully forever.

There have been blessings and losses along the way. Some of the children we got to know during his treatment weren’t so lucky. Some didn’t respond as well as he did. Others did wonderfully, like Riley. My ex and I became more understanding with each other, work a little bit better with each other.

So there it is. I don’t know why I felt I needed to tell it here, but I did. I think, perhaps, because Riley is one of the many reasons I need to write. I don’t want to leave him a legacy of his father being bitter at his mom, who never tried to live up to his potential, his dreams. I want Riley to see in me an example, a man who dreams and reaches to accomplish them. I want him to see that, just like his cancer, he can overcome the obstacles that life places in his path, and do what truly makes him happy.

And so, I’ll write. For Riley. For all my children.

For me.

Sorry for the melancholy…

Yesterday, clearly, I was in a bit of a melancholy mood. I don’t get into these often, but I have had a stressful past couple of days. I do have some excellent friends, all of whom did their best to try and distract and relieve as many of those stresses as they could, and for that, I am truly grateful. And yes, that includes you, my friends here who wrote me or commented to make sure all was well. It is. Pains of the past can sometimes flare and remind us of where we stumbled, but eventually, they too fade into the obscurity of willfully ignored memories.

Today, alas, has had stresses of its own. I sent my step-son (I use the term only for clarification here; in everyday life, he’s my boy and I’m his daddy) to go spend the next three weeks with his biological father. A man who never calls, never writes. Sees him once a year at best. A man who escaped by water-muddying and shit-flinging a prison sentence for something horrible, but for which I have no doubts he is guilty. And damn, was that hard. I love him…he’s my littlest boy, whether he was spawned from my genes or not, and knowing that he didn’t really want to go made it that much harder. When he climbed into said douchebag’s parent’s vehicle, he yelled out, “I’ll miss you daddy! I can’t wait to come home and play with you!”

The feels, man…the feels. My eyes water even just typing this.

But things will be ok. I’m going to spend some time over the next couple of weekends helping my wife clean and redecorate his room. I’m going to draw a mural on his wall, with him as a character amongst all of his favorite super-heroes and friends. We’ll paint it all up, and have that for him to come home to. I’m going to finally fix his home computer, so he can play his favorite PBS Kids games.

And I’m going to miss the hell out of him.

Can’t wait till you come home and play with me too, buddy.

My Busy, Geeky, No-Writing-but-Lots-of-Writing-Related-Things Weekend

I am beginning to realize that weekends are really tough to get writing time into. The problem is that my weekends are always so packed – I have a kajillion things going on and the weekends are the only time I get to do them. Finding even fifteen minutes to sit down and write can be incredibly difficult, as a lot of the time I’m not even home to be able to do so, or if I am home, I barely have time to breathe, let alone break out the laptop and write. That said, I still did things that I consider writing related, so that counts, right?

My weekend started out Friday evening. Thankfully, I had a chance to pound out a story for Chuck Wendig’s weekly challenge, and I am really pleased with the tale that came out of it. Then, off to meet one of my best friends in the world, whom I haven’t seen in person for over four years. It was my first chance to meet his awesome, beautiful wife, and their little baby boy, who I have to say may well be the cutest baby boy on the planet. He is seriously going to break some hearts with his bright blue eyes and broad, perfect smile. We had dinner, and then eventually retired back to their hotel, where my buddy and I hung out in the lobby, drank homebrew, and cracked up the night staff with our hilarious banter.

One of the things we talked about was, can you guess it? Writing! My buddy happens to be a writer too, in fact, you can find his WordPress blog here. As we hung out, we discussed our various projects, and the idea of writing “what you know”. I was telling him how I was really enjoying exploring different genres with some of the challenges I’ve been doing here, and how interesting I found it that I could draw from my own life and past to make passable attempts at most any genre. And while my own choice in fiction tends towards sci-fi and fantasy (to include urban fantasy and the like), it can be a real joy to explore more “real life” drama as well. I don’t know that we got to the bottom of anything (other than a few bottles of homebrew), but it was a great night. I finally got home around two in the morning, and crashed out.

Saturday was crazy busy. I got up, made breakfast for my wife and youngest son (stepson, for the record, but I don’t consider either of my stepkids as any different from my biokids, so from here forth, he’ll be called my son). Chow consumed, I dove into project number one – repairing my suit of armour.

Yep, you read that right. My suit of armour.

Y’see, one of my many facets of geekery is an intense love of history, and historical re-creation. Note, that isn’t historical reenactment, as my particular group of history nerds doesn’t actually reenact any particular event, but instead attempt to recreate aspects of life in the middle ages through experience and experimentation.

Really, that’s just a flowery way of saying we like to dress up on armour and beat the hell out of each other with sticks. May as well be honest, right? And beat the hell out of each other we do – full force, full contact, unscripted combat. It’s fast, it’s strenuous, it’s often painful, but most of all it’s fun. Glorious, maddeningly crazy fun. But that fun comes with a price – beyond the bruises and occasional bone breaks that can happen when you let a bunch of big dudes swing 1.5″ thick sticks at your body, the armour you wear takes quite a beating, and every once in a while, you have to do some maintenance. And, since I’ve lost, oh, 63 lbs or so since the last time I did this, I spent my Saturday morning through afternoon grinding out rivets, cutting leather, fixing straps, punching holes, and pounding out dents in my 14 gauge stainless steel armour, and resizing bits of it so that my now much skinnier self could fight in it again. Saturday early evening, I made dinner for the fam, and then prepared for writing related task number two – running a long-overdue promised role-playing game session for some friends who helped me move.

Image

(Me, prior to losing 63 lbs, in my armour)

For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, role-playing games are often called, collectively, D&D. It’s a misconception, for though D&D *is* a role-playing game, not all RPGs are D&D. The one that I tend to run is called Pathfinder, and though it has its roots thoroughly entrenched in the body of a past edition of D&D, it is its own beast entirely. I’m not going to go into the details of how these games work, save to paint a very broad picture. Essentially, it is interactive story-telling. One person, usually called the DM (for Dungeon Master, from the days when RPGs were basically board games with a lot of rules) tells a story, and the other people playing each take the part of one single character within the world of that story. As the DM describes a situation, the players choose how their characters react to it, and the DM adjusts the outcome of the story based on those actions.

Now, I’ve been running these games for almost thirty years. I’ve become pretty masterful at thinking on the fly, adjusting stories to fit the crazy antics of my players, and making it all come out like I had planned for it in the first place. I honestly feel that gaming helps make me a better writer, as I am used to rolling with the weird punches that characters like to throw at me. And likewise, being a writer makes me a better gamer, because I am able to take what the players come up with and weave it into the tale I want to tell almost seamlessly, resulting in a night of fun, excitement, and a lot of laughs. We played from about 9:00 PM till just after 3:00 AM Sunday morning. It was a blast.

Sunday, up at 9:30, despite my lack of sleep. A quick breakfast for the wee one, then my eldest son and I loaded up my armour and gear in the car, ran a few errands, and went to Sunday fighting practice. It has been a LONG time since I went to a practice. About a year and half ago, I tore my left ACL during a fight, and haven’t been back in armour since. My ortho doc said that the only way I could return to fighting without getting knee surgery would be to drop a lot of weight and wear knee braces any time I fought. The story of my weight-loss journey is one for another post, but suffice to say, I have since lost 63 lbs (and still losing!) and yesterday, stepped onto the field in the best shape I have been in a very long time.

It showed. At the risk of sounding immodest, I did not fight like someone who hasn’t picked up a sword and shield in over a year. I held my own against one of the best fighters in our area, hell, in our “kingdom”. He killed me twice over many hard rounds of combat. I killed him once. When we retired from the field, he was huffing and puffing and I was still pretty damned fresh. It was a great feeling, and I rode the high off the adrenaline and exercise buzz all day. And I got to get a little misty eyed seeing my eldest son, now 15, fully suited in armour for the first time. He has been watching me fight and build armour since he was a two year old, so it was both awesome and sappy to see him out there, wearing the first helmet I ever built, ugly as it is (but functional!) and swinging a sword like a grown man. Awesomeness, indeed!

Sunday evening, home, with friends visiting. We cooked, we made kick ass mojitos, we drank, we told stories around a fire. The night finally ended somewhere after midnight, and though I thought briefly of writing this up then, I was exhausted, physically and mentally, and more than a little buzzed from those mojitos.

So there you have it, my friends. My weekend, packed as hell with activities. Only a bit of writing done, but lots of writing worthy experiences. I think I’m cool with that.

That’s my boy… :)

My eldest son, 15, was inspired by the idea of a 50 word story, based off yesterday’s flash fiction.  His is less diary, more driven by the word count. He sent me this last night, and I have to say, I’m impressed…but then, perhaps ’tis just a father’s pride.  His story:

 

50 times. 100 divided by two. Square root of 2500. What to do?

I run as fast as I can, touch the 50th button.

Drop!

I flew 50 floors up, down, around the room. Where is X?

“Jaden, wake up! What does X equal ?” asked Ms. L.

“50!” I say.