More Flash Fiction

About 13 or 14 years ago I learned of the Elmira web site and my Great-Great Grandfather Hiram’s grave. I had known my Great-Great Grandfather was a Confederate soldier and he had died in a prison up North. That was all I knew until my cousin filled in the details by pointing me to the Elmira web site that listed all the prisoners that were held there and their fate. I was moved by my Great-Great Grandfather’s story to write this Flash Fiction story that follows. If you want to know more about the Elmira prison, there are links at the end.

Grave 2558

The sweat stung the cut above his eye, mixed with his blood and dripped off his brow, staining his soiled cotton shirt. He sat, legs extended straight out, on the cold brick floor, his back stiffening against the stone wall. How long had he been unconscious? It didn’t matter. He hadn’t broken. He told them nothing. They weren’t going to break him. He was a proud Confederate soldier from the great state of Mississippi. The secrets of the Confederacy, at least those a Private of Company E, Powers’ Regiment of the Mississippi Calvary were privy to, were still secrets. Col. Powers would be proud of him. Damn Yankees.

He recollected it had been ’bout six months since his capture at Ft. Adams on the banks of the Mississippi River. What a stupid bet to make, riding his horse, the fastest in Adams County, into the midst of Yankee looters in an attempt to take back tobacco that rightfully belonged to the good folks of that town. Where were his buddies when that troop of Yankees surrounded him? Snickering in the woods he imagined. Damn Yankees.

Since then, he’d been removed from Mississippi via boat to a federal prison in New York. A prison the Yankees called Elmira. He thought Elmira sounded like a nice enough name for a girl but not a prison. This wasn’t a nice prison. The guards showed contempt for all things Confederate. Periodic beatings continued until the prisoner either died or sickness took him. There were no doctors for Confederate prisoners. This was war. Damn Yankees.

The New York winter had been severe. Being from Mississippi, he’d never experienced cold like that. Barefoot and clothed only in the ragged pants and shirt he’d been wearing since the start of the war, he had lost a few toes off his feet and damn near lost a hand. He had made it through the winter by the grace of God and he welcomed the warmth of Spring. He was hot now, with fever, and a constant cough of mucus. His chest felt like the Devil was squeezing his lungs every time he drew breath. Damn Yankees.

He closed his eyes and dreamed of a warm Mississippi breeze coming off the river. He smelled the magnolia blossoms on Pleasant Hill Plantation. He felt the gentle sway of a boat while fishing on Lake Mary. He was back in Buffalo Mississippi, north of Woodville, on his land with Martha and their two sons. They weren’t her boys, but she loved them just the same. She was sewing in her rocker, and he could hear the boys playing in the holler.

Sweat stung the cut above his eye again, returning him to Elmira. He drew a deep breath and his chest ignited like a powder keg. He grunted in pain and coughed violently. He gasped; his lungs would not draw air. He had no strength left to rise from the floor and seek help. No energy to yell for a guard. He leaned his head back against the wall and looked up through the barred window at a sliver of morning sunlight shining its way through the darkness. He had one last thought… Damn Yankees.

“What ye got there Private?” asked the captain of the guard.

“Prisoner number 2558 succumbed to pneumonia this morning sir. Takin’ him down to the graveyard.”

“Another Johnny Reb gone to his maker, eh? Mark the date April 5, 1865. Damn shame too.”

“How’s a dead Rebel a damn shame sir?”

“They say General Grant’s got Lee in a bind down in Virginny. ‘Spect him to surrender in the next day or two. War’ll be over then. He’d be let go then. Damn shame.”

The Capture of Hiram Sturgeon

Elmira Prison Camp 1864-1865

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Vinyl of the Month – Purple Rain by Prince and the Revolution

I didn’t start out a Prince fan. I think the first time I heard of him was a video of Little Red Corvette on MTv. (Remember when MTv played music videos? Now it’s a shitty reality TV channel.) I didn’t think much of Prince, just another pop song that was somewhat catchy and I secretly liked it.

Two years later, summer of 1984, out comes this movie called Purple Rain. It was all the rage on MTv and the news. I was in my second to last semester of college (graduate December 1984) and my girlfriend (now wife) had moved from Texas to Mississippi to live with me the final year. We decided to go see the movie because we had heard some of the songs on the radio. We stood in a long line to get into the theater, a theater that just happened to be where I saw my first indoor movie as a 2nd grader. the movie was Green Slime and it scared the shit out of me. I own the Blu-ray now and it is humorous re-watching it.

We watched the movie and it was good. I enjoyed it and surprisingly I enjoyed the music too. Purple Rain, the song, was a pretty powerful scene and song. I wanted to no more about Prince. I found out that he was a multi-instrumentalist and he could wail on the guitar. I became a Prince fan. And then I found out all these other hit songs he had written and given to other people (Sinéad O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U), and he created, was songwriter, produced and recorded all the instruments for The Time (Morris Day and the Time) albums. Amazing, the guy was a genius.

So I bought the Purple Rain album. It was released a month before the movie in June 1984 but I bought it later after seeing the movie. I want to say sometime in August. I believe the album won a couple of Grammy awards. Who can sit still when the song “Let’s Go Crazy” comes on. Does Purple Rain bring back memories to you? Every time I am back in the city where I went to school I point out to my kids the building where their Mom and Dad stood in line to see Purple Rain (and also the Green Slime movie). The building is a lazer tag place now.

I want to also recognize that the Greatest Super-Bowl Half-time Show has to be 2007 Prince performing Purple Rain in the rain. It was emotional. Simply amazing.

So, for bringing up some very wonderful memories from a simpler and uncomplicated time of my life, I wanted to share Purple Rain by Prince and the Revolution as Vinyl of the Month.

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Flash Fiction

Flash fiction is a genre of fiction, defined as a very short story. While there is no set word count that separates flash fiction from more traditional short stories, flash fiction stories can be as short as a few words. Flash fiction is also known as sudden fiction, short-short stories, microfiction, or microstories.

Sometime around 2010 I got into Flash Fiction. I even bought a book on the genre. It’s around here somewhere. I also frequented a website where you could post your Flash Fiction. Before there were all these sub-generes of Flash Fiction it was just called Flash Fiction and the site had a 55 word limit. I submitted a few things but this fifty-four word one I considered my best and it got some nice comments.

Bobby’s crude taunts and threats continued to torment me days later.  His words wound deeper than any stick or stone ever could.  Had I the courage then, a swift right hook could have soothed the pain.  The finality of a blunt instrument to the head and a shallow grave gave some measure of consolation.

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My Book that’s not a book…yet

I’m working on one of my new years resolutions. I’m working on my book. I’ve got a story, I’ve got a protagonist and antagonist. And I think it’s got an interesting premise. Maybe I’ll get the courage up and share that with the general population soon. I haven’t even shared it with loved ones. It’s sort of a Sci-Fi story but leans towards and action/adventure.

The question I’m asking myself is – do I flesh it all out, outline the plot and then get down to writing during NaNoWriMo? Or do I just get the high level points (which I kinda have) down and just start writing. Try to complete it in 3 months.

I’ve been participating in a 7 day writing challenge to write 1000 words per day. To do that I have been participating in online sprint writing sessions. These run 5 minutes a piece, and I’ve found I can write 1000 words in 30 minutes. But those 1000 words will need major rework. I find when I do these sprints that are stream of conscious, I basically tell the story and don’t show. To get 1000 words that quick you need around 200 words per 5 minutes and that means not so much character dialogue. So its me, as the narrator, “telling” the story. Not showing through character actions But it has let me capture some interesting additions to the story that I had not thought of initially. So maybe there is some use there.

So if I go forth with this current idea and spend 3 months writing it, I’ll put together a first draft of my memoir during NaNoWriMo. Yes, my memoir. That seems like an easy, straight forward story once I come up with a premise I like.

So New Years resolution #4 is underway and I think I’m going to do it this year. Oh, and I’m still writing in my journal at least every other day if not daily. It’s good therapy and one day perhaps my kids will read it after I’m gone and understand what was going on with me during this time of my life. My journal along with my memoir will give them a somewhat complete perspective of their father. Something I wish my Dad had done.

Alright enough philosophical meanderings. Interested in hearing my premise?

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Creative Fear

This post is off the cuff, unplanned.

I’m a creative person. But I’m not. I come up with a good idea for a book, I work on the book, I create a premise, I create a 3 Act overview outline, I read books on writing, I download helpful templates for writing, I watched oodles of YouTube videos promising I can do it. And then I get scared.

The Perfectionist in me steps forward and asks in an angry voice, “What the hell do you think you’re doing? You’re not a writer, or an artist, or a comic book creator, or a songwriter. What do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m creating.”, I timidly respond.

“You’re friends and family are going to laugh at what you are trying to create. It’s not good enough. You’re wasting your time. You’ll never be a writer, or an artist or a songwriter. There is no money in creating. Stop this nonsense.”

“Maybe you’re right, what was I thinking.” So I push that creative person back into the closet and let the responsible, dependable Adult step forward.

The responsible, dependable Adult goes to a boring non-creative job, makes good money and shares that money with family and friends in need. Many depend on responsible, dependable Adult. Adult works with people who take life and work seriously. These people drain the life out of him. Work succubus. Adult wishes for a day when he didn’t have to be responsible and dependable for anyone but himself, and his wife of course.

I’m a creative person. Really, I am. Just let me out of this closet.

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Vinyl of the Month – The Partridge Family Album by The Partridge Family

Before there was my undying fandom that is KISS, before Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and many other rock and metal bands that I now listen to (that includes Slipknot), there was The Partridge Family. Well actually there was the Monkees and the Banana Splits, but I never owned their albums until much later.

I bought 45s as a kid and I owned a number of Partridge Family 45s before their album. I still have those 45’s and the song I Think I Love You was and still is a favorite. And of course I was glued to the TV whenever the show came on. It ran for 4 seasons (1970-1974) but I only watched the first two before my family moved from St. Louis Missouri to the island of Puerto Rico where there was no ABC, NBC or CBS, at least not in English.

When I got the chance I bought The Partridge Family Album (released 1970). I bought both their albums actually. The second one being called Up to Date (released 1971). Sadly, I only have the first still in my possession, I think I donated the second album in a rash decision to burn disco albums. I didn’t own any disco albums (Buddha forbid at the time) so I sacrificed Up to Date.

The Partridge Family Album always elicits fond memories of the two years spent in St. Louis. Days of traipsing to school in the snow, playing street hockey and trying to ice skate on frozen ponds. My parents bought me hockey skates BUT being from Mississippi they had no clue the skates needed sharpening. I had a helluva time trying to skate. Many, many years later as an adult I got skates, got them sharpened correctly and played in adult hockey leagues for years.

But I digress and keep jumping down history holes. So many memories listening to The Partridge Family Album that I chose it as this month’s Vinyl of the Month. Were you a Partridge Family fan?

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Still Journaling

Is journaling a word? It tells me I’m spelling it wrong but doesn’t offer a corrected version. Anyway I’m still writing in my diary (2023 resolution #1), maybe not every day but at least every other day. My life is pretty boring and repetitive, which I like. Lately there has been some drama with my oldest son but otherwise my day is:

  1. wake up around 7:30
  2. brush teeth, take shower
  3. get dressed
  4. is it Wednesday? then I’m working from home, go login to work
  5. not Wednesday? eat some breakfast while logged into work at the kitchen table
  6. pack up back pack with work laptop, lunch etc.
  7. drive to work – no traffic = 25 minutes, shit traffic = 35-45 minutes
  8. work
  9. eat lunch around 12:30, usually a Marie Callendar’s microwaveable meal, and read a digital comic
  10. work some more
  11. can i leave early and beat the rush hour traffic? leave around 3:45-4:00
  12. get home and log back into work and finish out the day in home office around 5:45
  13. can’t leave early? leave work around 6:00-6:30 because traffic doesn’t start disbursing until after 6:00
  14. eat dinner while reading a digital comic. is it Taco Tuesday? Eat tacos from homemade, taco bell or taco bueno. Otherwise we eat from other fast food joints.
  15. catch up on TV shows via Hulu, HBO Max, Prime, Disney and YouTube TV.
  16. If I remember, write in journal (diary)
  17. go up to bed
  18. change into sleep clothes and brush teeth
  19. read book in bed – at the moment reading The Write Structure by Joe bunting (a novel writing principles book)
  20. go to sleep around midnight
  21. Repeat

So there you go, a day in the life of…. Somewhere in there I’ve been working on my novel (2023 resolution #4). The Write Structure has actually helped a bunch in organizing my idea. It’s going to take another month or so at my current rate to ge the book outlined out (I’m a Plotter) and then I’ll need to decide if I want to write it or wait until NaNoWriMo. We’ll see. I may get brave and share my premise here soon. I’ll definitely need to blog my progress.

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Recent Toy Photography

One of my goals in 2023 (feels weird to say that) is to get more Toy Photography work done. These were taken in December 2022 but this is the start of a whole series using these Joy Toy 1/18 figures and sets. Four shots of Mech Pilot and Mech Suit from my Threat Neutralization Team (T.N.T.) comic book idea. Working on that too. To see more, hit up my Instagram site.

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Happy Birthday Elvis

You would’ve been 88.

Yeah that’s me.
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I’ve gone and started a journal again (see Resolution #1). I bought a blank book and have written my thoughts and comments for the last two days. Its a bit freeing although my arm is hurting from writing so much. I get going and sometimes have to just say “that’s enough”. I got a lot on my mind I guess.

I was going through some old composition notebooks I found in a drawer and one was my last time attempt at keeping a journal. I started on January 1, 2020 and made it to January 18, 2020 before giving up. I’ll see if I can beat that this year.

In that journal I had written 7 Resolutions for 2020. they were:

  1. Write in a journal
  2. Lose 72 lbs by 10/10/2020 (my birthday)
  3. Record 4 songs – 1 song per quarter
  4. Sell off excess comic books, guitars, toys and start to unclutter
  5. Plan for retirement by staying out of debt
  6. Do NaNoWriMo an complete 11/30/2022
  7. Get studio set up and have on paying client by 12/31/2020

Well obviously I didn’t complete any of these in 2020 because many of them show up now for 2022. For the record 2020 was the year of the C-word and the world locked itself down and I was in quarantine twice for possible infection (I wasn’t) and my son was in ICU for 3 days etc. So it was a rough year and hard to do #4 and #7. And #6… well I had planned on it (even blogged about here whether to do it or not) but didn’t participate. Maybe this year.

So I’m doing the journal thing. Next resolution to work on is the book thing. At least get my plot outlined and everything set and fully participate in NaNoWriMo this year. Or finish my comic book script and find an artist (sadly I can’t draw to the level I need this to be) to realize my dream of publishing a comic book. Or fire up the recording studio equipment and start working on song 1 of my 4 song album coming out in December.

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