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It is a whirlwind in here

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August 2015

Loser Story From Beer Mat Contest

Willing to do anything in my damn fool endeavour to improve the state of literature in the world, I entered a beer mat contest. The prize in the contest was to have your short story  printed on a beer mat. Oh, there was also money and gift coupons involved, but my main desire was to get printed on a beer mat. Alas, it did not happen.  But here is the story anyway. Have a brew while you read it.

drink a lot

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Flash Flash Flash

Green flash – nine dash – dark green in dark room, four flash – minus dash – three flash – six dash – eight then tight then eight. The operator shoves his chair back in fear, things happen too quickly to be surprised. Red left light followed by yellow left light glow beside the numbers, reflect the band of a wristwatch. Eight flash two race one plus one point – decimal moving across the board, hunting. Fingers, hand, wristwatch reach for the never used phone.
Second and third red left lights glow off the face of the Operator as his lips open before the mouthpiece.

“Get the General and the Director down here fast.”

“But they’re both asleep.” A thin voice in his ear.

“No time – no time. Hurry.”

His hand replaces the phone, but his eyes never leave the wild numbers before him, doubling and now tripling. Four two flash seven one three dash six six six pause blank plus plus racing decimal three three three three. He takes a fast look around the dim room to see yellow and red lights glimmering from every corner, and the flashing green of disappearing numbers.

His eyes return to his own board. There is a constant series of tiny clicks as the green numbers race from right to left, bottom to top. He moves a sweaty palm across his leg and gapes. Minus minus minus eight zero four three eight zero four three pause eight pause plus pause zero four three three click click click click.

Quadrupling now, simultaneous right to left and bottom to top, green numbers racing click click click click. He notices that right red and right yellow lights have come on, quickly followed by the second set. The sound of the flicking numbers makes him think of chicken claws scratching in gravel. He notices his hands shaking, and dimly remembers one lecture where the odds were given of such a thing happening, the smug humour of his instructor. Six six 44 flash two seven 55 click nine two 77 plus 333 point 2864 flash minus flash minus eight seven three three zero.

“My God, they’re in fives now.”

They were moving like green waves across a dark sea now, sextupling in a rush from the base of the screen. Seven two 2941 flash four one 3384 pause nine zero 7766 click click minus three four 0827.

“More warning lights are on now, Sir.”

“It’s the same with every terminal,” said the Director as he looks over to the General.

“I presume you activated the breaking system.”

“Yes, Sir.” The operator does not look behind him as he answers. “When the triples started. All it did was blow out the switch lights.” His face – like the others – is bathed in a confused glow of green, yellow and red.

“The last warning lights just came on.”

“We can see that!” snapped the Director.

The room has never had so much light in it, yet the green numbers do not seem subdued. Four two 8601, nine five 7350, one one 4499 plus flash four eight 1632 click click.

Green flash, red light and yellow, number after number, 472210 flash 992136 pause 886221 race pause flash green 220011 flash click click click.

“Sounds like hens scratching,” says the General.

The Director took in his breath with a groan. “They’re turning octal,” he said.

The green numbers moved constantly now, covering the whole face of the screen. Click click flash plus 12345678 flash 87654321 pause 20199465 click minus flash 22446688 race click 11335577 green 88990011 click.

“They’re grouping,” said the Operator. “They’re forming patterns.” His voice was no longer scared, but resigned.

The red and yellow warning lights began to shatter, small pops of sound followed by falling glass. Green flickers raced 11223344 slight pause 55667788 flash green wave 99001122 minus flash 33445566 click click

“It’s turning cyclical,” said the Director.

click flash green rush 77889900 pause plus click 00000000 minus flash flash click 00000000 click click 00000000

“What a way to end,” mumbled the General.

Jesus On The Water – With Cross

To be fair, he went out of his way to tell me he was not Jesus.

It was nearly the first thing he said. But he looked like Jesus. Well – you know – he looked like the depictions of Jesus by all the people who have never seen Him. And it doesn’t matter that, as far as I know, there is not one indication in the Bible of what Jesus looked like. Except that is kind of odd. Tall, short, plump, long face – you’d think there would be something. But he looked like what we accept Jesus looked like.

He was standing on the boardwalk of Halifax harbour. It was late evening in the off season. There were few passerbys, either Samaritans or Levites or priests.

And he smelled like Jesus. That is, he smelled like Jesus if Jesus had partaken of a lot of that water he had turned to wine for the wedding. A lot of it. I suppose Jesus would have been as cheerful, too.

“Look!” He pointed toward a dock jutting into the water. “Crosses.”

I turned to look.

“One.” He started counting. “Two. Three!” He sounded pleased. “Four.” He sounded disappointed.

If you looked with forethought, you could decipher some large crosses among the wooden posts and boards which made the docks. Not that I’m sure I could point them out to anyone else.

He said that crosses were important. 

I did not argue.

He said that people look down on the disadvantaged.

I did not argue.

He said that people called them names and that they were really as good as anyone else and why did people make fun of them and keep avoiding them.

I could have answered, but I did not.

“Can ya help me out?” This is where he again told me he was not Jesus. He said that I might as well call him Mike. He pointed at the crosses again. “Ya gotta believe.”

I helped him out.

I said: “Here you go, Mike.”

He burst into laughter.

Kafka And Fame

(Charles University – Prague)

There are rumours (none of them started by me) that Kafka had direct dealings with Einstein, Joyce, and even Hitler.

The first two are more than possible. Einstein taught at Charles University when Kafka was a student there. Joyce was in Prague when Kafka lived there. It is quite probable they travelled in the same literary circles. Went to the same coffee houses (which Kafka frequented). Attended the same readings, or literary events, or even book stores.

The Hitler connection is far more tenuous, but based on fact. Hitler was treated, in Munich, by a doctor who had dealt with Kafka’s family in Prague. And Kafka did visit Munich in the right time frame. Kafka did, after all, predict Hitler’s world as much as he did the Communists.

Although I have, in my novel about Kafka,  “filled in” his missing diaries, I never give him such speculative encounters – tempting though it was. All events in my Kafka novel are based on detailed research from his own writings, writings of his friends, and multiple biographies.

I have written one short story that is totally speculative, where Kafka is encouraged to meet “the Austrian with the tiny mustache”, so as to kill him and stop an impending terrible war. And save his sisters from the camps.  But that doesn’t  happen in my fiction, either.

DE

Not Ready for Prime Time Characters / Spear Carriers

My onion novel, CHINA LILY, spans decades. My main family, the Cannaras, travel the globe (of their time, which is the Fourteen hundreds). Lots of time on ships. Lots of time on horseback.

In their distant locations, over their diverse times, they meet different people. These people fill the chapters they are in, but then they are gone. They are really secondary characters to the novel, but nothing could be accomplished without them. In their own time frame, they are front-and-center.

This same situation happened in my *thriller*. The time frame was much different (squeezed into a few days). And the location was in the same city, until near the end. But the nature of the immediacy, the surprising twists of plot, and the intense action called upon the use of many secondary characters. They were figuratively press-ganged into action. They did their bit and were not called upon again. Louie-the-dog was to be a secondary character with a ‘walk on’ part. He stayed.

 I am having a growing fascination for these secondary characters. They have to be developed within paragraphs instead of chapters. Their dialogue and thoughts have to be concise and unique from the start. They possess a freedom of action the main characters do not have. They are not loaded down with baggage. They are a challenge to write and difficult to rein in. They are generally saucy, and rarely ponder their lot. Yet they must be real and not just plot devices. They have to be taken at face value and accepted quickly. They must stand out in the background.

Secondary characters are a challenge to write and a thrill to create. Each and every one of them excite me.

Hmmmm …  a novel of only secondary characters  … hmmmm…

DE

“Fifth Business” by Robertson Davis

Reading From: “The Elephant Talks To God”

kafkaestblog

Here I can be heard giving a brief reading from my book of short stories, “The Elephant Talks To God”.

http://www.authorsaloud.com/prose/estey.html

The book itself:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Elephant-Talks-Dale-Estey/dp/0864924593

DE

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Perhaps my creative stream is bubbling away

Perhaps my creative stream is bubbling away.

Live Reading From: “The Elephant Talks To God”

Tracked down to my own apartment, I give a sample reading from my book of short stories, “The Elephant Talks To God”. And I explain the genesis of the book. Gotta say, it might have been more entertaining to emote some of the Elephant’s poetry.

http://www.authorsaloud.com/prose/estey.html

The book itself:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Elephant-Talks-Dale-Estey/dp/0864924593

DE

WHEN THE GOVERNMENT HATES YOU

Regardless of whether it is fascist, communist or capitalist, all governments hate Franz Kafka.

Kafka, despite his reputation as a depressing malcontent, was an honest humanist. He didn’t belabour the philosophy, he just lived the life. Two stories from his real life stand out which show his basic decency. These are told by other people, for Kafka did not blow his own horn. However, I suspect he did not even think he had done anything special.    

When Kafka first met Oskar Baum, who became a lifelong friend, he bowed his head when he shook hands. This was the formal custom of the day. Oskar felt Kafka’s hair graze his head, which was the only way he could tell that Kafka bowed, because Oskar was blind. To Kafka, the fact that the other man was sightless was no reason not to treat him with the full dignity he would express to any other.      

Later in life, Kafka worked as a lawyer for the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia in Prague. This organization was an odd blend of a government and private insurance ‘company’, that paid benefits to injured workers. Although Kafka’s main job was as an administrator, he did sometimes find himself representing the Institute in a court of law.  

On one occasion, he was acting against a worker who was refused benefits for an injury. Kafka believed the worker deserved his benefits, but he would do no less than his best to win the case. His solution was to, from his own pocket, hire an excellent lawyer for the worker. Kafka put forward the best case he could, yet lost. He was greatly pleased.

DE

The Bluenose

 A number of years ago, I was seated on a bench in Halifax, watching a cruise ship prepare to leave.  I had noted a tall-masted sailing boat pass, but was more immersed in the huge ship leaving port. Suddenly a man was at my back, asking me to move so I would not get struck in the head.

I turned to see the sailing boat – The Bluenose – coming alongside. It edged toward the dock, closer and closer, and then a crew member on the bow shouted to me.  He asked if I would grab a rope when it was thrown. I agreed, happy to do so. I immediately  had the bow line in my hands and at my feet.

They shouted down to me and asked that I put it over the ‘second’ post. This proved to be quite a chore for something thicker than my arm and heavy in weight.  It took a couple of minutes, but I slipped it over. I jumped back. It was a taut rope indeed.

DE

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