Now I’ve been mired in academia most of my short and horrible life. So, when I talk about writing I picture myself sitting in a room with a fancy smoking jacket surrounded by the classics. The pauses that I take are either when I take a puff from my pipe or making the stuffy I’m classically trained in the classiest of classics sound. Which, if you didn’t know, is the simple sound of ‘mah hah, indeed’.
This isn’t an article to discuss what is Literary and what does I guess other. Instead, I just want to talk about a story that I’ve read recently that goes along the lines of The Ginger Collect and our aesthetic. Which by the way, if you haven’t checked out issue four yet, why the hell are you reading this garbage from the trashman Stan? Click on some links and read some real work with real solid talent. Solid isn’t the right word. They’d used to use that word when they’d talk about my weight. “Nah, he’s not fat he’s just so solid.” What the fuck does that even mean? Let’s rephrase and say that I want you to go over and look at some strange and weird work that’ll take you on a trip.
Most of my literary discussions start right after the third bottle of the trusty Stella Artois (this beer isn’t costly but when I say it, it sounds fancy. Just tingles right on the tongue. Go ahead and say it. I’ll wait) and there’s not much going on with Netflix or the video game scene at that moment. I always lean back in my computer chair and start talking to Frank about how I just absolutely enjoy a good short story. Frank, acclimated to the sound of my voice, will respond with a few meows and then fall asleep in my lap. Frank is my cat. I drunk talk writing to my sleeping cat. It’s okay. I’m fine. Don’t touch me.
But recently I just finished The Skeleton Crew by an author named Stephen King. You may have heard of him. He’s a pretty big deal in certain circles. This collection came out in 1985 and some of you may be wondering why it took so long for me to read it. Well, first off, I wasn’t born until 1983 so that means that I was roughly two years old when this collection was published unto the masses. Secondly, after coming of age, I was told by numerous academics to avoid the King altogether because he wasn’t literary (mah ha, indeed!) so I did what they told me because surely, they know what they’re talking about.
Boy was I wrong.
One of the short stories that I found touching and fitting for my kind of taste was titled Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut. In this story, there isn’t a lot of weird supernatural stuff being thrown right at you at the first and it’s just a simple story that slowly, just like Mrs. Todd’s shortcuts takes you down a rabbit hole. Slowly, the supernatural side keeps appearing until at the end it’s all there and done. But it was one of those stories that made me feel good for the main character. Mostly, King is pigeonholed as this crazy guy that writes fucked up things and sells it to fucked up people. And though there are some things that I’ve read by him that are TOTALLY FUCKED up, I don’t think they’re for fucked up people.
They’re for people like you and I. That like to talk a walk somewhere else for a while. We read because we want to be pushed and prodded. We want our reality to be questioned. And that’s why I read things like Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut or the entirety of short story collection. I want to be able to read more things like that out there. Hell, I want to write things like that. And the one thing that I believed in all my years in higher education that I learned when dealing with writing, I do believe that reading is the main tool for being a better writer.
This one was different in all those aspects. The main character is in the first-person perspective, but the real main character would be that of Homer Buckland, an aged groundskeeper for the late Mrs. Todd and her remarried husband. It seems to be something like one of those cut and dry murder stories where the groundsman is about to let the audience in on a small secret that will damn the husband, but it doesn’t fly that way.
Instead, we listen to Homer tell us numerous interactions with Mrs. Todd with the first being only a few harmless things until, that is, he gets into her car and she takes him on a ‘shortcut’ to some other place. During that first excursion and ride, we’re introduced to the other side of the story and gives us enough to keep going. And I was afraid to read on to find something horrible had happened to the woman, but it never says, and the mystery is kept intact until the very end.
The ending is carefully constructed just like the rest of the short. If you want a feel good but still strange story, then check this one out. Hell, give yourself a shot at something like this too my brothers and sisters. See what you come up with.
Also, I’m always struggling with ideas of my own because you know, struggling writer with no muse blah blah blah. Sometimes I come across ideas that I think would work wonders but I never can start. Most of the time I just lurk on reddit’s writing prompts page and copy some down in the GOING TO FAIL AT DOING THIS column in my current journal. So I figured I’d share one that I like but I know I could do nothing with. I’ll leave you with it and then start another conversation with my cats. Until then, stay weird.
Writing Prompt: You just blinked while looking in the mirror and your reflection freaks out.