There should be more people out here than there is.
No matter, as the rental chariot of the day, one Ford Fiesta, slides into a parking space in front of Paradise Grill. Immediately the smell of salt rushes up my nose and through my skull, making the center of my scalp tingle.
Bob unloads, overexcited to be out of the house and in a public place. His black nose busies nudging bush branches as I and my proven co-captain journey towards the deck.
Bummer. The grill is closed.
We find my favorite two Adirondack chairs vacant over to the right. She pulls out her pack of smokes while I wrangle my dog to at least try to stay in the vicinity. I let go of his lead and let him visit with the people making the short climb up the side wall to reach the deck we’re on. Cloudy night makes the full moon a full smear up and to the left of us. The Gulf of Mexico lap lap laps in quick tempo as the tide shifts out. The water is a soft grey, perfectly reflecting the clouds above it, creating a silvery soft vortex opened only to us three, a portal of infinite possibility.
I sigh. “I wanted to do something to commemorate this day, but the grill is closed.” I smack my own forehead. “We drove right past that Circle K. I coulda stopped and picked up some beers before we made it down!” I stay looking at her. In her amiable style, she says, “No worries,” and I assume it’s because we still have a whole ‘nother cigarette to burn. I shimmy forward on my long seat and straighten up to announce, “Come on. Before we get comfortable. Everyone back to the car.”
The Circle K has a long faced woman working the counter tonight. This is such an important day, a successful day; today I got rid of that last bit of trash. Consciously amending my sobriety clause, I wind past the salty snacks and to the double door coolers.
We’re doing it. We’re gonna have an alcoholic beverage, because that’s what you do when you succeed; you raise a glass and you let yourself be giddy. My eyes scan the options and I frown. No Dos Equis.
There it is.
“If you’re gonna fall off the wagon, do it with Sam,” I proclaim as I lift the sixer off its shelf. That’s when I notice the wine case. Shoot! I saunter over and see it’s the bring-a-bottle-to-a-dinner-party variety. I figure one cannot go wrong with a Chateau St Michelle Riesling if it’s already chilled in the case. She grabs the bottle while I return the stock. “I think it’s a cork. Yeah, it’s a cork,” she says fiddling with the top. “We’re gonna need a bottle opener.”
“No we’re not, we still have the tool bag.” The tool bag. One of the things I told her to keep up with when we loaded the car. ‘Be familiar with this bag; it’s going on our trip.’ She pointed out I was missing needle-nosed pliers. Add to travel list.
“We have a flat head screwdriver and a hammer.” Over the top of the bottle she’s holding, I mimic the screwdriver in my left, the hammer in my right, and one focused hit to the head. “Bottle opener.”
Although we should probably add a corkscrew bottle opener to the tool bag. Add to travel list.
The twenty dollar bill in my wallet turned out to be a ten dollar bill, so back to the original plan. We head back to the beach; this time, over to the long bench overlooking the south part of the deck. The tide had carried out some more. I use my key chain opener to serve our beers. We toast to our great day, clink necks, and enjoy the deep amber…
Three years ago, I discovered and fell in love with Chan Wook Park. Not familiar? He’s the director of Oldboy, Mr. Vengeance, and Lady Vengeance, a powerful revenge trilogy that I find, alongside many other movie fans, exemplifies the consummate redemption tale. Yes, I’m including Tarantino’s Kill Bill volumes, and you guys know how much I love Kill Bill.
Imagine my elation when I noted my Netflix queue was repopulated with Lady Vengeance! Hit A then A again on the Xbox controller aaand…
Love this movie. Gorgeously shot, beautiful sets, Vivaldi stitched into the operatic story, with a flash presentation that offered me several moments of, wow, I wasn’t ready for that! Here’s a director after my heart: he celebrates friendships and femininity amongst the criminally dispositioned as well as mocks the sensationalism of religion and the superficiality of broadcast media.
Powerful scenes abound in this movie, and they could only be conveyed by the strength of all the actors; I mean, everyone was invested in the wickedness of his or her role. The one scene where Geum-Ja is alone, smoking in the salon chair and laughing mad gave me an ohhh I’ve been there moment. There’s another scene with a dog licking the barrel of a gun, which forces you to wander into your dark self and confirm your position on the matter. And Jenny, oh boy. Jenny is SO the daughter I’d have if I’d let men make decisions for me. Not gonna get all meta about Lady Vengeance or the rest of the trilogy; I’m sure there’s plenty of blogs that have covered it all ad nauseum. I’m sharing with you why it matters to me.
Like any good artist, if you’re gonna approach a medium or a technique you’re not familiar with, you gotta study the masters. When I happened across Chan’s work, I was studying contemporary writing techniques, particularly this avant garde styling called “flash fiction.” Chan Wook-park helped style my work to relay intensity with grace. I applied it to my schooling, and the results, along with some nods to Chan, you’ll find in I Blew Up Juarez.
So are you for or against revenge? I now find revenge to be futile. It is a projection of righteousness and the dominion of absolutists who believe in Right and Wrong. Revenge is an aspect of emotion, and emotion is ruled by Ego. I strive to be ruled by Logic.
Have you executed revenge? Many moons ago and during the time when my ego defined my existence. Along with my art studies I picked up the works of Sun Tzu, Confucius and the Baghavad-Gita, and honed my living philosophy to attenuate the rationale for revenge. Now I find it ephemeral, pleasing only to the ego, like a one-night stand or the last cigarette in your pack. Once it’s done it’s done and you’re left empty and wanting, so why bother?
However, I understand revenge. I sympathize with those who have also committed revenge. Artistically, I absolutely plan to exact a revenge tale in the other Johnny books. I can’t deny how enjoyable a solidly executed redemption tale is to read or watch.
Hands steepled, staring intently towards the wall, I too, assumed the form of our beloved high functioning sociopath as I mulled over what went wrong.
Wrong, wrong, did it go wrong? Is it wrong? What’s wrong? Could it be not wrong? Nothing wrong? What’s wrong? Is it wrong? Did it go wrong? Wrong!
You get it. It’s ART. Like an Escher tessellation, stare at it too long and you’ll see something different entirely. And when it’s completed art, you definitely cannot revisit it. It’s out there. It’s DONE. To analyze after the fact is bad juu juu.
But what if it’s wrong?
Here’s what I decided to do…
Book’s been out officially since 4 April, that makes 80 days as of this post date. Technically, I’m coming premature on my decision, but, (this the part where I release the steeple to point the definitive index finger) fuck it, it’s my book.
What had happened was, ([CHORUS]: And then, riiight!) I went through a publisher to release I Blew Up Juarez. In the T minus 1 hour of wrapping up production, right at the all-systems-go point, she decides not to associate with this work. Demonstrating complete lack of professionalism, she wanted her company logo emblazoned across the cover artwork, and I said no, so she got butthurt and pulled out. Infuriating, considering I compromised artistic license, time, and patience to meet the publisher’s needs.
Since it’s release, my astute readers are pointing out the wide, gaping hole in the lemniscate-like track that is this fast paced story, a true sin in the literary world: you do NOT introduce a character without validating his/her purpose. This is Composition 1000, and I’m looking terrible! The fifteen chapters omitted during production were initially agreed to be more for Book 3 than this book, that’s why they were out, but she should’ve caught the dangling character.
Technically it’s the publisher’s fault but since now I am the publisher, well, I’m making an executive decision.
…I shall publish an epilogue to I Blew Up Juarez for release this holiday season. With my impeccable discipline and (hopefully) people leaving me the fuck alone while I work, the fifteen chapters that were omitted in the story will be provided in full splendor, and, with deft styling, will bridge Book 2 to Book 3 handsomely.
*SIGH* Now that feels right.
And here’s the gift that keeps on giving: all of you who have purchased a copy of I Blew Up Juarez from me since its release to today (Eastern Standard Time, don’t get cheeky) will get [WT]The Epilogue FOR FREE! Why? Because you fuckin’ rock.
And now we DANCE!
As in ‘go’, as in ‘green light’…clean ups on every page. Especially check out my I Blew Up Juarez tab…did I answer your questions satisfactorily? Think I covered ‘what is the book about?’ and ‘where can I find it?’ as succinctly as possible. And please do Like the page, but only if you mean it ;)
You know how you look at a thing too long you don’t know if you’re done? I’ve updated two of my Pages, “All About Von” and “Make Contact”. Well if you could just dance through those, offer edits where necessary, so I can stop looking at this, I’d really appreciate it!
Going to walk away and shower while you do that. Maybe eat lunch. Yeah, lunch…
For my art, I prefer to be paid food first, then cash, then weed. So when a fellow poet and dear friend sent me this text, I was too happy to oblige:
In an ironically super useful way, this project aligned with a current project I’m doing for a horror anthology; the main character volunteers at a hospice! This commission would be good practice in translating my terror into fantasy, like I’m trying to do with Millie.
When I poet, I first deliver a freestyle, then I apply the technical aspects, and finish with honing and planing the poem to its essence. Well…the commissioner’s time schedule and mine weren’t in sync, so I hadn’t gotten to the technical phase when she asked for the poem. Guiltily, I scrambled to clean up the freestyle and submitted it. I emphasized it wasn’t my best work and, had I managed my time better, her patient would have his poem.
Deep down I was saddened, knowing that meant I was out a meal. You guys know how much food means to me; it felt like I was dumped by a wonderful potential mate.
But then I get a text saying, he loved it! She had read him my rough draft after all! For someone who doesn’t enjoy violence or darkness she enjoyed the story. I appreciated hearing that, especially because she’s an artist who fairly critiques. So, I got my commission in the form of a great lunch at Community Cafe on Central Ave and I have another satisfied customer. Huzzah!
Here’s the commissioned product, very rough and yes, I could do better:
And for a bonus, the song I used to get into the mood: