HEUER LOST AND FOUND: THE EXCERPT

“Come with me, and I will show you worlds.”

 

At last, HEUER LOST AND FOUND is ready to go with presales beginning March 26 to the launch on April 23rd on Amazon. It’s been a long, exciting journey marked with encouragement and a lot of learning. I’ve made so many friends along the way, so much so that I owe this space and the people that help fill it a special nod all their own. In the coming days, I’ll be talking up my ladies in the Brooklin 7, my incredible sister and authorly inspiration Cryssa Bazos, and long time friends Gilda Heinrich Rousseau and Suzanne Fairbrass Stacey. I will also pay homage to the crew at the Wine Rack, the guys on the Canadian Poncho Car site, and the amazing staff at the Pickering Metro; all of whom make stepping out the door an adventure. Thank you. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Solstice Publishing, it’s staff—who are also writers—and the amazing authors I’ve grown close to as a member of the Solstice Family. All in due time. Today, is for every person I’ve spoken to who expressed interest in HEUER LOST AND FOUND. I owe you an excerpt.

Chapter Two

Two Weeks Ago

The house, like the man who lived in it, was remarkable: a 1950s clapboard-brick number with a metal garage door that needed serious painting. Likewise, the windows, which had been replaced once in the Seventies under some home improvement program, then never again. They were wooden and they were cracked, allowing wasps and other insects inside.

This was of little consequence to him.

The neighbors, whom Heuer prodigiously ignored, would stare at the place. Greek, Italian, and house proud, they found the man’s disdain for his own home objectionable. He could see it on their faces when he looked out at them through dirty windows.

To hell with them.

If the neighbors disapproved of the moss green roof with its tar shingles that habitually blew off, then let moet_champagne_partythem replace it. Money didn’t fall from the sky and if it did, he wouldn’t spend it on improvements to please strangers.

They were insects.

And yet there were times when Jürgen Heuer was forced to compromise. Money, he learned, could solve just about anything. But not where the willful and the pernicious were concerned. These, once singled out, required special attention.

Alfons Vermiglia, the Genovese neighbor next door, had taken great offense to his acacia tree, a towering twenty-five foot behemoth that had grown from a cutting given to him by a lodge brother. The acacia was esteemed in Masonic lore appearing often in ritual, rendering it so much more than just mere tree. In practical terms, it provided relief, offering shade on hot days to the little things beneath it. And it bloomed semi-annually, whimsically releasing a preponderance of white petals that carried on the wind mystical scent—the same found in sacred incense and parfums.

What horseshit.

It was a dirty son of a bitch of a tree that dropped its leaves continuously from spring to fall, shedding tiny branches from its diffident margins. These were covered in nasty little thorns that damaged vinyl pool liners and soft feet alike. They also did a pretty amazing job of clogging Alfons’ pool filter, turning his twenty-five hundred gallon toy pool green overnight.

This chemistry compromised the neighbor’s pleasure and it heightened his passions, blinding Alfons to the true nature of his enemy. He crossed over onto Heuer’s property and drove copper nails into the root system. It was an old trick, Byzantine in its treachery; the copper would kill the tree slowly over time leading no one to suspect foul play.

weird vistaBut Heuer was cagey and suspicious by nature, so when the tree displayed signs of failure, he knew where to look.

The acacia recovered and Alfons said nothing. Heuer planted aralia—the “Devil’s Walking Stick”—along the fence line and this served as an even thornier reminder that he knew. And if there was any doubt at all, he went further by coating his neighbor’s corkscrew hazel with a generous dose of Wipe Out.

Intrusive neighbors and their misplaced curiosities were, by turns, annoying and amusing and their interest, though unwanted, did not go unappreciated. The Greeks on the other side of him weren’t combative in the least and they offered gardening advice whenever they caught him out of doors. The man, Panos, talked politics and cars, and expressed interest in the vehicle that sat shrouded and silent on Heuer’s driveway. He spoke long and colorfully about the glory days of Detroit muscle cars and how it all got bungled and bargained away.

Detroit GTO“They sacrificed an industry to please a bunch of big mouths in Hollywood,” Panos would rant in complete disregard for history: Al Gore and Global Warming didn’t kill the GTO; the OPEC oil crisis did. But there was no point in telling him that.

Panos was an armchair car guy and incurable conspiracy theorist. He also kept to his side of the fence, unlike his wife, Stavroula, who was driven by natural instinct. Not content to leave an unmarried man alone, she routinely crossed Heuer’s weedy lawn, banging on the door with offers of food and a good housecleaning.

Heuer had no trouble accepting her cooking. But he declined her brush and broom. Was it kindness, or was she trying to see inside? He suspected the latter.

No one was ever seen entering Heuer’s house and while this piqued public interest, he never gave in, not even to those who were kind to him. He liked Panos and Stavroula and he regretted poisoning their cat.

But not enough to let them in to his home.

Others on the street had less contact with him. Canvassers at election time would disturb him, in spite of the lawn sign warning the solicitous away. That this didn’t apply to neighbor kids brave enough to pedal cookies and magazine subscriptions in spite of the sign, was a testament, perhaps, to some residual soft spot in his heart that endured.

Even so, he knew that people talked about him and, frankly, he had trouble accounting for their fascination. Short, curt, bespectacled, he courted an ethos that favored enforced detachment. When people got close enough to hear him speak, they detected a trace of an accent. Now faded after years of U.S. residency, his speech still bore the unmistakable patterns of someone undeniably foreign. Elaborate, overwrought and heavy on the adverbs, he spoke very much like his neighbors. Yet the distance between them was incalculable…

***

Day 1: Post Mortem

Heuer shook his head, finding it especially odd that he would think of such things at this particular moment. The circumstances, after all, were beyond peculiar. Coming out of thick, dense fog, standing upright, looking wildly around, and having difficulty comprehending, the last thing that should trouble him was human relations.

The man on the floor would have agreed, had he not lacked the resources to speak.

Heuer canvassed his surroundings. The room, still dark, the shades drawn, and the plants Stavroula forced on him, wilted and dry, bespoke of an unqualified sadness. His computer, left on and unattended, buzzed pointlessly in the corner, its screen saver, a multi-colored Spirograph montage, interspersed with translucent images of faceless Bond girls, twisting ad infinitum for an audience of none.

Back StairWhat happened here?

The bottle of Johnnie Black lay open and empty on the bedroom floor, along with a pack of Marlboro’s, gifts from an old friend. The desk chair lay on its side, toppled, in keeping with the rest of the room. His bed sheets were twisted, the pillows on the floor, and there were stains on the walls; strange residues deposited over time representing neglect and a desire to tell.

He looked down at his hands. They kept changing; the veins, wavy, rose and fell like pots of worms.

Trippy.

There was no evidence of eating, however, and this was really weird, for it was in this room that Heuer lived. Flat screens, mounted on the ceiling and on the desktop, kept him in line with the world outside in ways that papers could not. Screens blasted twenty-four and seven with their talking heads and CNN, whereas papers were flat and dirty, suitable only for the bottoms of bird cages. He cancelled the dailies first and then the weeklies, seeing no value whatever in printed words.

Pictures were another matter. Several in paint and charcoal and sepia covered the walls and floors. He loved them all, and he stared at them for hours when he pondered. His beer fridge, humidor, and model rocket collection completed him; housing the things he loved, all within perfect reach.

His senses, though dulled, honed in on a scent, distant yet familiar, coming from inside the room. It was bog-like-foul like a place he’d visited long ago, buried under wood ash. He frowned.

What was the last thing he ate? Did he cook or go for takeout? He wanted to go down to the kitchen to check, but found, to his astonishment, that he could not get past the doorframe into the outer hall.

Nein, das kann nicht sein!—Now this is not right!—he fumed, switching to German. He would do this whenever he encountered static. The spit and sharp of it forced people back because they could not understand what he meant.

Unballing his fists he felt his chest, registering the sensation of “feel”—he could feel “touch,” but he could not locate the beating heart. Consciously knitting his brows, he considered other bodily wants, his legal mind checking and balancing the laws of nature against the laws of the impossible. He could not, for example, feel “hunger” and he wasn’t dying for a drink either.

Was this a mark of passage into the nether? The man on the floor had no comment.

He thought about his bowels and if they needed attention, but that, to his great relief, no longer appeared to matter. Regularity, in recent years, wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. When he was young, he reveled in a good clean out after the morning coffee because it reset his clock and established the tone for the rest of the day. Not so latterly. His prostate had kept its promise, letting him down, enlarging, pressing where it ought naught. Awake most nights, he lost sleep and dreams.

With this in mind, he bounced up and down on the soles of his expensive shoes in an effort to confirm if he was awake or not. Perhaps he was sleepwalking, or heading off to the can for another urinary evacuation that wouldn’t come?

The man on the floor ruled out these options.

He tried the door again, and again, to his dismay, he could not leave.

What to do? What to do?

‘I think, therefore I am,’ went the popular saying, but what good was ‘being’ when one was confined to a bedroom like a rat in a cage?

He struggled to remain calm, just as he became aware of that heavy oppressive feeling one gets before receiving bad news. Pacing back and forth across the ancient floorboards in the house he was born into, he checked for the kinds of incriminating evidence the court of public opinion would hold against him once found. Pornography, loaded handguns, too many candy wrappers all had to be dispatched before someone inevitably broke the door down.

As light turned to dark and day gave over into night, Heuer’s thoughts came faster and faster, in different languages, interspersed with corrugated images, accompanied by generous doses of Seventies rock; a fitting sound track for the old life, now ended.

He fell to his knees. Somewhere in this mélange was something to be grateful for and with time, he was sure, he would figure out what that single, great, thing might be. For now, all he could really do was take comfort in the fact that his death had been perfect.

***

See the first trailer  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3beUBWf2CQ

Definitely see the NEW ONE

Interview Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2yhaXfh-ns

Interview Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoPthI1Hvmo

BUY LINKS:

Preorder Link: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=A.B.%20Funkhauser&search-alias=digital-text&sort=relevancerank

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Heuer-Lost-Found-B-Funkhauser-ebook/dp/B00V6KLAMA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1427367625&sr=1-1&keywords=heuer+lost+and+found

Book Goodies: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00V6KLAMA

Thank you. 🙂

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SOMETHING NEW!

I love a new video, don’t you? What makes it even better for me is that I made it myself and I can’t stop groovin’ to it.

Paranormal mortuary fiction with a touch of gonzo never felt so good! Voila!!

THENCE COMES THE DARKNESS…AND THE LIGHT

My guest blog at author Rachael Stapleton’s Mysterious Ink Spot. Appropriately dubbed “The Treasured and Tipsy Timeslip” the spot asks writers to detail places real and imagined that they have visited or would like to visit. Congrats to my friend Rachael for a cool idea and a truly off planet experience.

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. Only The Shadow knows…Bwahahahahaha.”

For many my age and younger, knowing the origin of the above might be a bit of a stretch: yet I do. Corny? Yes. Hilarious? Absolutely! The quote, or more correctly, the radio program to which this voice over belongs comes from none other than The Shadow, which got its start in pulp fiction and later ran an incredible seventeen years of American radio from 1937 to 1954.

Featuring lurid tales narrated by a supernatural all-seeing being that always knew better than the affected hapless humans it oversaw, The Shadow spoke to me in reruns throughout the Seventies.

What got me was the voice. What hooked me was the medium. Radio, you see, forced me to conjure up images of just where the plays took place. As a ten year old, it was no mean feat, seeing that my world barely extended past the hydro field in summer and the school yard in winter.

“What evil lurks?” I wondered. And was it always in sinister places?

The answer, I found, lived in dreams, and it was to some of these that I return over and over again years after they first played out. That I have recurring dreams—usually in Technicolor—I think speaks to the impact of radio: if given a choice, I would color my dreams no matter how frightening. Somehow, in color, the sinister seems palatable. Even inviting.

PLANET OF THE BATHROOM STALLS
Apes
I could relate to Cornelius’ sensitivity, but I could not get my head around the human “hunt” scene in PLANET OF THE APES. Gross.

I remember finishing a harrowing week of Grade 12 second term exams. Exhausted, relieved and flat out broke, I had no choice but to celebrate my accomplishment with a long sleep. Waking in dreams, I was confronted by a highly stylized ape man in an orange jump suit. He wasn’t Roddy Mcdowall from Planet of the Apes, but a curious hybrid that co-opted equine features in a high cheek-boned, narrow face that embraced intelligence and a promise. The ape did not speak as he took my hand, ushering me over verdant hills backed by brilliant vistas I instantly recognized from the beats out of Sgt. Pepper’s.

We were barely out of the Seventies at this point, so strawberry fields made perfect sense, even if my companion—a behemoth of eight feet or more—could have easily made Poe’s House of Usher his home. I asked him where he was taking me, but the ape said nothing, pulling me along with kind, if not gentle urgency, until, at last, we arrived at our destination: a row of bathroom stalls as orange and shiny as his coveralls. He wanted me to step inside the first one, yet I could not. It was a pay toilet, and I didn’t have a dime.

THE LAKE AND THE DRAGON
Wikimedia Commons 3.0
Wikimedia Commons 3.0

It will be eighteen years this May since my amazing German daddy passed away while on vacation in sunny Florida. His death, completely unexpected, knocked all of us near to him on our collective rear ends. Yet his passing was perfect—at least for him. My dad came from another age, an age currently celebrated on AMC’s Mad Men. Cool, collected and always on top of his game, my pa drank scotch and smoked cigarettes to his end of days: his pockets, when turned out, contained an empty pack of Chesterfields. He smoked his last one. Good on you pa. I missed him in those early days—I still do—yet in the afterburn of the funeral, seeing him again was paramount. It was not long before he visited me in dreams, this time in a lake setting muted with sepia tones save for a cobalt sky and bone bleached trees denuded of their summer leaves. My dad, you see, was renowned for saving the day. And so it came as no surprise when I tipped my fishing boat and fell into the dark water, that he would rescue me from an odd looking creature that reminded me of TV’s H.R. Pufnstuf.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5e9yCB-hiw Confronted by the large yellow beast with his

I didn't mind Puf, but I really dug Witchypoo's ride.
I didn’t mind Puf, but I really dug Witchypoo’s ride.

oversized spots and tousled felt-twist mane, my first impulse was to shoo him away. “Be gone absurd beast with your goggly doll eyes!” Before I could reach him, strong arms overtook me, drawing my close. It was dad in his favorite black and rust hunting jacket, impossibly dry despite the cold water we found ourselves floating in. Pufnstuf, the dragon, opened his soft felt mouth at the sight of dad, as if to frighten him, but my father just laughed, reaching out with one of his short fingers (the rest of it claimed by a band saw in the Fifties) to poke the silly bugger in the eye. Puf retreated beneath the waves. I haven’t been back to the lake lately, nor have I been visited by the large, yellow, felt-mouthed beastie, but I wish it so most terribly. My dad is there, and I’d love to see him again.

THE HOUSE OF USHER AS HOME
maxresdefault.jpg
maxresdefault.jpg

Edgar Allen Poe’s Fall of the House Usher stayed with me if only for the author’s assertion that the cursed family tree ran vertically and without branch. “How strange,” I thought at the time. Yet, when I woke for the first time in an amazing home—high ceilinged and trimmed with thick mahogany baseboards and crown molds—I knew where I was. Imagine a long hall, the plaster walls stained cerulean blue to compliment large crystal chandeliers to mark a white ceiling honeycombed with bowed crossbeams of black and tar. The hall, never ending, opens every thirty feet or so into rooms beautifully decorated from the Age of Empire; each a different color, each recognizable every time I visit because I’ve had this dream before. And never, ever, is there an intersection along the way. It is Usher’s family tree, but I do not fear it. This is not a family tree cursed, but a home filled with history, its rooms lovingly curated by something I have yet to see.

MISTRESS BISCUIT AND HER SHORTBREADS
www.travelmob.com
http://www.travelmob.com

In a similar vein, I have visited the home of Mistress Biscuit many, many times. Each time, it is the same. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The front door opens into a spectacular foyer, shitake monochrome walls accented with glass and chrome backed by sky high windows capped by a vaulting ceiling twenty feet above our heads. I say “our” because the guests are there, wrapped in looks reminiscent of the disco era, but tasteful to one who was there. “Mistress is busy,” the tall, slightly balding fellow in livery informs me. “Would madam care for a swim before chicken?” Don’t mind if I do. Pocketing a couple of sweeties fetched off a silver tray of shortbreads and arugula, I head to the indoor pool where a friend awaits. He is young, wearing a white terry cloth robe. I have no idea who he is.

Trippy, no?
Thank you, Rachael Stapleton, for taking me back…

Adult, unapologetic, and cognizant, I wish you good day. Let’s stay above it.

ABF

For more Rachael, please visit:

www.rachaelstapleton.com

http://rachaelstapleton.blogspot.ca/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Rachael-Stapleton/137831156290570

https://twitter.com/RaquelleJaxson

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7271862.Rachael_Stapleton

Radio Funkhauser, Part Deux

The nascent author discusses funeral parloring, Six Feet Under, lasting friendships and never looking back in part 2 of her first ever radio interview for 102.7 FM Whistle Radio Stouffville. Woot! Woot!

FIRST RADIO INTERVIEW

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a faraway galaxy, I worked in politics. It was an amazing world peopled with amazing speech makers, luminescent scribes, and ambitious policy makers jostling to get the words out.

Which is why there’s a little thing called ‘media training’. Broadly defined, media training encompasses everything from elocution to breathing to physical deportment. Perspiration was a “no, no” — Richard Nixon debating Kennedy back in ’60 cemented that — as was the exclamatory pause “um”. Um was anathema, and as I watched politicians prep from debates, I picked up a thing or two…

Good thing, because it’s my turn now. Last month, I talked up HEUER LOST AND FOUND with Charlene Jones on 102.7 FM Whistle Radio Stoufville. It was a privilege to have been given the opportunity.

“Don’t say “um,” I kept saying to myself, “for cryin’ out loud DON’T.” And I didn’t, thank gawd.

Scheduled to air March 24, I just had to share a “sneak peek”.

The Interview

HEUER LOST AND FOUND available April 23, 2015. Advance orders begin March 26 at Amazon.com.

solstice publishing

The Blog Welcomes Author Malay A. Upadhyay

I’ve only known Malay for a short while, but I can already tell you that this guy thinks DEEP. Like my favorite existentialists, Malay commits his fiction to the belief that individuals have the power to alter their existence but with unusual consequences. What lies beneath the surface is something that we, as human beings, cannot but help to toy with. In Malay’s case what lies beneath, what can be found just behind the curtain, is not one but two or more possible realities. The question always, is which one is the better one?

About the author

Malay A. Upadhyay grew up in the Eastern provinces of paradoxical India. It was a childhood of anomalies – a different spacetime, where he could not understand a friend’s passion for books on one hand even as he wrote for school elocution on the other. Recently back to contemporary Earth, he conceived many of the techno-economic ideas described in his book – Kalki Evian: The Ring of Khaoriphea – at Bocconi University in Milano. His Blog of a Fly subscribes to the elusively effervescent, ephemeral connection among beings across space and time. That is after all, a belief that underlies every piece of literature ever written.

The Book In His Own Words

Every choice we make leads to its own unique consequence. To Cover - Kalki Evianchange the consequence, therefore, one must travel back in time to change the choice. But what if such change, instead of altering our future, simply created another – one that came to exist simultaneously with our world?

This is a story of how one such moment of love led to two parallel futures; a story of how your choices have an impact far beyond the world you know; a phenomenon that we had sensed, and wished for, all along. Set in Italy, while one timeline scales a city of the future where not just people but also things like money evolve, the other cradles itself in an amalgamation of contemporary Europe with ingredients of a new age. Step by step, the story embarks on a journey in a parallel world that we all live in but rarely see.

Q & A

What inspires you to write?

Experiences, and the ideas they generate to understand how things around us function on different levels. I try to learn something every day and what I write intends more to document these than to simply entertain with a good story.

Do you listen to or talk to to your characters? (You aren’t alone 🙂 How do you interact with your characters while you are writing?

Certainly. My characters are a mix of three things: an overview to begin with, an inspiration from people I know, which gives them a shape, and their reactions which begin to unfold in each scene and situation as the story progresses, for it lends a level of detail that you could not have imagined at the beginning.

What advice would you give other writers?

There is no specific rule or method to go about a story. It just needs diligence for as long as it takes to write, and a balance of thought – to ensure that you go with the flow without losing sight of where you are going.

How did you decide to publish your books?* What influenced your to publish with a publisher or go the self-publishing route? 

I researched a bit to understand how the process of submissions works. I was lucky to have found an agent – Emerantia Antonia Parnall-Gilbert of Gilbert Literary Agency – who was receptive of new authors and clearly told me how arduous the path was going to be, and the risks involved therein. I will simply suggest new authors to be patient in their search and analysis of online information, to check how the submission process works with publishers in the country they wish to publish in, and to verify publishers/agents by checking them in any of the renowned literary database.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?*

In the medium-term, I think it will strongly be determined by the digital innovations in place. Whether as a mix of sounds, imagery, weblinks or simply the way books are read, both the phenomenon of internet-of-things and the evolution of mobile gadgets will determine how ebooks change. However, the traditional paperbacks would continue to hold fort, albeit with changes in how they are discovered in online and offline stores.

Do you have any unusual writing habits?

I blog as a Fly. That’s one! The other is my habit of taking incessant notes as and when ideas arrive, most of which happen during a re-enactment of conversations that characters may have in the story.

What inspired the book?

The futuristic ideas for Kalki Evian came to me during my time at Bocconi University in Milano. However, I am more drawn towards subtle romance in any story. That is primarily because I find it to be the most natural form of conduct between characters. It lends the strongest incentives to their actions and gifts a sense of beauty to any plot under any circumstance. It is also what makes the characters human, and the story, regardless the genre, have a soul. That is how the plot took shape.

The Excerpt

Nothing gives me greater joy than being able to shine a light on the work of others. Writing takes time; getting it out there: much more.

Malay A. Upadhyay: Kalki Evian – The Ring of Khaoriphea

To those who ceased to trust their instinct
just because everyone told everyone else
that no one did.

Foreword

Hypothesis #1: Every choice has its own unique
consequence.
This would imply that at any given time, the choice
we make leads us on an entirely different path from the one
that any other would take us on. It is like driving a car. Once
we turn right at any junction, all roads on previous left turns
cease to matter. And that right turn takes us on to a new
junction with a new set of turns, each with its own choice of
left and right, and so on. None in particular is better or
worse. It is just different. And these paths may even meet
later on.

Hypothesis #2: Time travel could be possible at
some time in the infinite future.
Time is a dimension like any other; only somewhat
beyond our understanding. The day we evolve enough to
comprehend exactly how it works, we may be able to travel
in time and return to a junction/event that occurred in the
past – our own, or maybe someone else’s.

If we combine hypothesis #1 and #2, it would
indicate that at least someone may have travelled back in
time to warn Caesar of an oncoming conspiracy, or
persuaded Hitler’s father to allow his son to become an
artist, or simply changed something in their own past. In
each instance, that change would involve going back to an
event, and may result in an altogether different set of affairs
to consequence. In other words, the second path – one
different from that which we took initially – could come
alive.
That said, we do not yet seem aware of any such
changes to our known history. Brutus continues to
exemplify treason rather than honour. Hitler remains the
author of Mein Kampf. And our life remains dotted with
specific, unchanged events just as we remember them.
These two points mean that as a consequence of any
active and influential time travel, one or more parallel
realities must come into existence, somehow unknown to us.

Hypothesis#3: We do not yet know how to time
travel.
That is a gap that exists . . . in common knowledge
as per common beliefs. But then, news from many unknown
corners of this world remains obscure.

Hypothesis#4: The relativistic view of time and
space shows a warping of the spacetime plane, audience to
the disparities in distance and time travelled with changes
in velocity.
General relativity is Einstein’s brainchild, whose
applicability to this case shall be assumed to be
hypothetical.

Malay A. Upadhyay: Kalki Evian – The Ring of Khaoriphea

Chapter 1
“Is this where she falls?”
“Two miles further south.”
“Then,” the former hesitated but asked with hope,
“is this where we save her?”
Wind blew perfectly in accordance with fresh traces
of floating memory that lay in the latter’s mind. The man
smiled. Significantly taller and older than the inquiring
other, he stood with a sparkle in his eyes, unmoved and
unblinking and gazing ahead under the faintest crease of
brows that stood in striking contrast to the amused pair
ordained by one to his right and to the tense pair of a third
who stood behind him, looking up, awaiting a sense of their
plan.
It was pitch dark on a brazen land. Clouds usually
decorated the sky at this time of the year but they had
arrived today in galore, witness to a moment of particular
significance that bore a perfect sense only to the one who
had stood there without a twitch of muscle for over an hour.
Metal cape was a rather unusual coat to adorn those heavy
shoulders, but he wore it as if he had journeyed from a
battlefield. The younger, chubby individual who
accompanied him – Bree was his name – would have
vouched that he had. The graphene, fashionably
complimented his neatly combed silver hair. Uniform white
stubble graced his cheeks, save for three short creases on the
upper end of his cheekbones. Together, it all directed one’s
focus to his sharp eyes that he relied upon to speak out more
than words could. Even under the dark shade of that
evening, his face glowed not through a visible shine but
through a perceptual radiance. Drizzle marked their borders,
illustrating the elder’s stern body language, with his hands
neatly folded at the back and fingers clasping on to each
other. Two in particular seemed to gently toy with a ring on
one of his thumbs. Bree’s younger pair of shoulders,
meanwhile, heaved under his heavy breathing. They bowed
smoothly on to fleshy arms that hung parallel to his thick
legs positioned with utmost care to stand beside but half-astep
behind the pair in boots – as if to conform to the latter’s
authority.
As the first drops began to trickle from above, the
metal-clad almost allowed himself to smile again – one
fairly invisible to any who could see him. For, the sound of
rain had been perfectly tuned to a faint rumble on the metal
rails far in the distance, reflecting a coherence that was
nothing short of little verifications that he belonged there in
that moment.
The third – a doctor and the one with the questions
initially – had heard the rumble too. He tried to stab his sight
through the darkness to find its source. The effort had
brought about a spark of excitement from within his
exhausted body. His shoulders were straighter, the dressing
sharp. Only a little pouch hung across on a thread-like string
and repeatedly bounced off the waist in constant attempts to
fly under the wind.
The little smile on the elder’s face waned amidst
continuing sounds of those drops on metal as he spoke,
unflinching still, “Any issues?”
The task that the doctor had been sent for not many
moments ago had drained sufficient proportion of his
energy. He quickly gathered his breath to reply, despite
having had enough time since his arrival, as if all air had
stalled in his lungs during the anxious moments that had
recently passed. “The information was precise. I reached
just in time to warn them. Such carelessness . . .”
“It wasn’t beyond the norm, doc,” Bree spoke with
an almost juvenile amusement, “It was an inevitable
consequence of a long chain of cause and effect that
perceivably began with a pack of milk.”
“Milk?”
“Yes, and some superstition.”
“I believe that is simply a misnomer for
carelessness,” the doctor quipped.
“It is one for precisely the opposite. Whether
superstitions have any viable meaning is trivial. They are
always true – not because they work but because they make
us believe they do. It’s a belief that often runs stronger than
even any other faith. In this case, it was one that pertained to
spilt milk – a bad omen in these parts of the world. But that
story is quite unworthy of this moment and is rather
irrelevant.”
“How can it not be relevant, Bree?”
“Because subtle chains of cause and effect are too
complex to decipher for an individual mind. There lies no
beginning to such stories, no matter how many millennia
one traverses back in time. The only matter of relevance
then is to know that life is always, and exclusively, what it
turns out to be . . . nothing more, nothing less and certainly
nothing different.”
“That explains your persistent sense of adventure,”
the doctor replied in an implied jest under a very serious
face. “What’s with the tweed cap?”
“My sense of adventure needs props, much like your
little pouch” Bree replied, contrasting his comfort in the
situation with the other’s panic.
Two large bags lay almost kissing his wet feet. The
doctor pointed at them, “I prefer mine to those!”
“Aah, yes. I would help if I could, doc. Sorry to
spoil an otherwise perfect evening . . .”
It was then that the heavy voice intervened once
more. “Perfection is a matter of perception,” the elder said,
“and there’s much left in this evening. She’s here.”
The other two looked out into the distance. A yellow
ball of light shone hazily through the heavy curtain of rain
in the dark but was intensified by a deafening horn riding on
a sudden screeching on rails that stabbed through the space.
A red light in that area was never part of the itinerary for the
train but that order stood defiant, facing the speeding frame
of metal and forcing it to apply its brakes, perhaps unaware
of the catastrophe that may follow for the souls seated
inside. The distance, though, had worked in the train’s
favour as the driver sprung into action the instant the red
light had come into view. The screech was unsubmissive,
the shock unavoidable, but the tracks lay embedded within a
slight cavernous stretch on the land. As short hills rose on
either side of the tracks, the slopes might just cushion the
near-fatal consequence that was soon to be. And so the train
slid more than sped in those last few hundred metres with a
wave of scream and confusion rippling along her entire
length. The last few coaches bounced off but followed
helplessly under the dual force of a roaring engine in front
and the waves of elevated earth on the sides. Things rattled,
tilted, inverted, shook, bounced and broke – all within the
perceived parameters, all except one.
“Make the call,” was the command. Bree sprung into
action. He closed in the fingers on his left hand and gently
rubbed the tips of the three-fingered glove he was wearing,
with his thumb. As the tips illuminated under the charge, it
seemed to the doctor as if light had stuck itself to them, for
the thin spot of illumination stretched in between as the
fingers moved away. Soon, the gluey spot of light turned
into a ray between his forefinger and the little one. It
broadened to produce a thin film on his palm, which
immediately came alive with embedded blue lights. Bree
tapped on the virtual phone.
The three scanned past the rough muddy terrain
under the leadership of the pair of feet that seemed to
outline two steps in advance, a finality of objective as to
where they intended to land. As the three approached the
only coach with a door thrown open, the anticipation on the
doctor’s face gave way to a flush of subdued panic.
Secluded from the air of shock that prevailed around the
train, someone lay unconscious, stained in red.
The victim was pulled to the other side of the slope
as his rescuers got down to business; two inspecting the
immediate wounds while the other stared at his bloodsmeared
face.
“You knew he would fall out?” the doctor asked in
haste.
“Yes,” the elder replied, his eyes fixed on what lay
before him.
“How? What of the others?”
He asked with a calm blink of those eyes, “What
would you say, Bree?”
The man climbed a few feet on the slope and began
to scan the coaches with his naked eye. At length, he replied
with eyes strained on those opaque walls, “Injuries
sustained throughout but I see a conglomeration at only two
places, both in the dismounted coaches. No deaths though,
just urgent movements and significant shock.”
“How long is it before the others arrive?”
“Half an hour for the emergency services; quarter
more for the media. In two, the area should be swarming.”
“Are we in position?”
Sweat was beginning to work its way, softening the
crisp hair of the one nursing the body. The doctor’s words
then, were those of unparalleled concern, “His heart beats
slow.”
“But beats still . . .”
“Yes. But did you check him? Is it him?”
“To every detail,” was the definitive reply. The mass
of metal heaved with the elder’s shoulders as he bent over
the body and analysed it comprehensively with a blank stare
that defied any form of indifference it may have been
ordinarily reserved for. This one belonged to a trance. The
body lay spread out with one palm clenched on to nothing in
particular. The man held something in his fist, something
that had been dear enough to have extracted every inch of
endurance in him to keep it within his grasp even through
the painful – and seemingly endless – course of his fall from
the train. The elder looked at that fist as though he could
conjure the invisible piece in his own imagination. “Hope,”
he uttered softly and blinked. The name had proclaimed
itself louder in its rarity.
He stood up and spoke, with the usual heaviness
back in his voice, “Prepare the cart.” The doctor pulled one
of the bags and dropped inside a miniature stretch of metal
wound on two small rods. He placed the bag on the ground,
stretched it wide, and began tapping on his wrist band.
Streaks of blue shone and faded where he touched it, and the
bag began to twirl from within. Inside, sand-like particles
ran over each other as they encapsulated the little piece he
had dropped inside. Once the rendering was complete, he
took out the object, poured more of the particles, and tapped
a few more times. Gradually, more and more particles
joined in to form a large replica of the tiny object.
The doctor then turned back to the other sack and
dropped another piece. The routine followed and out came a
flat board. He then placed it near the body, and stuck a
charge underneath. It slid seamlessly and activated itself.
Another push and the two boards stuck together as the air
was sucked out from between them. He then dug into his
pouch to extract a metal frame that he attached under the
contraption. A few wrist-taps later, it lit blue immediately
and the light spread along the borders of the board as the
entire mass began to float few inches above the ground.
He looked up once done. Bree was smiling. The
doctor guessed, “Electro-permanent magnets, I suppose.”
The reply was almost instant and familiarly amused,
“Not bad for an expert in biology.”
“The problem when you focus too much on one
subject,” the doctor countered, “is that you lose your grip on
the rest.”
“Unless the rest begin to converge . . .”
Bree had left a cryptic possibility free to implant
itself in the other’s mind and was aided conveniently by the
elder’s interruption to march forward.
The two men pressed charges near their torso while
the doctor climbed on his contraption. With soles lifted
inches above, the three began to move with the body. Many
minutes passed before they came by a small instalment, few
miles away from the railroad and everything else. The site
of commotion had been left far behind and only ghostly
whispers of the breeze continued, sans the drops of rain and
their clinks on metal. The doctor questioned, all thoughts
relegated in the face of a larger lump in his throat, “You
took a risk.”
It was as if the metal-clad elder had been
anticipating it. His words nearly overrode those of the
doctor’s, “One that saved some two hundred lives; perhaps
more.”
“You facilitated one accident to prevent another.”
“It was a necessary risk.”
“Enough to justify this?”
The reply came almost immediately once again, but
the voice was far gentler and had come from behind them.
“Any act has its consequence. Every act changes the world.”
Those broad shoulders turned to face the source of
the sound with an unmistakable constriction in the pair of
eyes above, as if in attempts to fashion a smile. A woman,
dressed in a silhouette sharply accentuated by a short cloak
that covered her head, came towards the three from around a
little tent. She was nearly as old as the elder but carried a
significantly warmer gaze. Her hair was wavy and grey and
seemed to rest on her shoulders with the softest touch,
fashioned with streaks of silver in the front locks.
She looked at the body that lay on the board, and
sighed. A welcoming look then followed on to the man who
sat upon it. The doctor ignored the warmth of that attention
that lay bestowed through seconds of concern. He addressed
the elder again, though with slight hesitancy, “I can’t . . .
just . . .”
“What happened?” Bree asked as if charged with
managing the doctor’s conundrums for the evening.
“Nothing,” came the desolate reply, followed by a
more professional concern, “A hospital would have been
more appropriate . . .”
“That wouldn’t be necessary. We can trust each
other on this,” replied the elder. His words were calm but
bore a striking directive towards haste.
“How . . .” an argument attempted to ensue but
gulped itself down its bearer’s throat, switching instead to a
taunt, “Are you really willing to watch this lad die?”
The elder did not speak. His eyes expressed a
strange concoction of pain and calm as he was helplessly
diverted to the lifeless body that lay in front. That entrapped
chunk of oxygen in his lungs was measured immediately by
the recently arrived. She spoke on his behalf, with a smile
that was an answer in itself, “Of course not. That is why we
have you here.”
“But how do you know I will save him?”
“Because if you had not already done that, we would
still be human.”

Chapter 2
The eyes opened gradually. Light had not entered
them for an age, or at least the brain had ceased to process it
so. Any part of the world, then, should have been a beautiful
vision to come across, but all he saw were streaks of blue
running across in mid-air against a plain white background.
Everything was hazy except these sharp blue characters, and
a crystal clear voice of a woman, as if programmed to
initialize the moment he woke up.
“Welcome. Default settings now active. Visuals
confirmed. Data status, basic. Volume level: aligning . . .
aligning . . . aligning. Saved. Thank you. Your world is at
your service.”
The streaks and the sounds faded as the background
came into clearer view – a lone glass frame stood on a white
stretch of the wall, with the words: One hand washes the
other; both get clean. His pupils narrowed in trying to read
it carefully, and immediately, little edges appeared out of
nowhere to focus on the text. There they waited, and
shivered with the confused movement of his pupils.
Fidgeting to get the little blue edges away from his sight, he
shook his head and blinked as he moved. The visuals
hanging in mid-air twitched, lost focus and tried to target
something else on that otherwise bland wall. He resisted but
to no avail and then held his eyes static on the frame,
waiting. Nothing happened. With eyes beginning to burn, he
blinked once more with a perplexed gaze fixed at the wall.
The projection of little edges joined together over the frame
and gently faded away to display a copy of that text in blue,
somewhere in the empty space, followed instantly by the
words: Curaçaon proverb. Origin: Former Caribbean. He
blinked again, and they disappeared.
“I’ve been waiting to see them. . .” It was a different
voice, equally gentle but so much sweeter. He held still,
expecting to see another series of obstructions, until
footsteps sounded somewhere to his left. He turned to find
white flat-soled shoes crisscrossing their way to him,
carrying slender legs that rose up to partially visible fingers
holding a tray, followed higher by a sparkling white shirt
sprinkled towards the top with fluffy locks of hair bouncing
around a young slyly smiling face. Their eyes met, and the
books would have spoken of an emotional concordance. But
the blue edges appeared again. Unable to draw his sight
away, he quickly blinked. The projections displayed one
line of text after another: Friuli, Fridgeon. F, 25.
Permissions denied. Possibly 1st.
“Fri-uli-,” he muttered.
“Those eyes,” she interrupted matter-of-factly, “I’ve
been waiting to see them.”
“Huh?”
“Although now the perplexity seems equally
catchy.”
“Uh-I’m . . . sorry,” he said with weak, broken
voice, continually blinking and shaking his head to ward off
the information displayed.
“You will get used to it. If you want it stopped, just
tell it so.”
“Tell what? Tell whom?”
“Your brain. The password’s right beside you.”
He turned to his right. A table lay at about his height
with a little white card embossed with an alphanumeric code
that was barely visible. He strained once again as the edges
appeared, and managed to read out the letters: QIn45.
Nothing happened.
She corrected him, “It is one word. They confused
with the caps. Sorry for that.”
He uttered it accordingly. The edges disappeared and
nothing followed, drawing his eyes to move all around the
room as if they had been let loose to absorb his
surroundings. They stood wide open in anticipation of the
source of what he had just seen. He fell back on his pillow,
already exhausted under the stress.
“You should rest,” Friuli spoke, smiling still. “Or
you won’t be able to handle it.”
“Handle what?” He enquired.
She waited, looking directly into his eyes, letting
him absorb her tease of curiosity, and then answered, “What
we have done to your world.”
The pupils changed shapes again. He was nervous.
“You?”
“We the people, Qin. Welcome back, and good
morning.”
She walked out and the room fell back to a white
stretch of space. He rose to look at himself, strapped and
bandaged in a long robe. But there was no plaster, stitches
or even pain. How long had he been there? The simplicity of
that query dragged his thoughts back to the dreadful night.
Nothing came back perfectly but in his blur, he remembered
a sudden shock, a muscular effort, a short flight, a series of
scratchy rollovers, and a determined fist. Attempts to think
further strained his nerves as exhaustion overtook a bit
more. Sleep dawned and he closed his eyes with troubled
relief. The images came back in view, but differently so: a
girl breathing heavily . . . he saw himself scream and run
away . . . a train came into view shortly after, and with it
came a feeling of uncontrollable rage. And then there was
shock, a muscular effort, a short flight, a series of scratchy
rollovers, and that determined fist.
It felt chillier and the surface his skin touched felt
rougher than it appeared. He woke again and quickly got off
his bed. His feet dragged and stumbled on their way to the
wash basin. The water was a respite but felt nearly numb
when it splashed against his face. He looked up in some
irritation to find a long stretch of glass, in the centre of
which stood a man many years older than him.
“Wh-,” he jerked back in surprise. “Who are you?”
he asked, feeling misled into believing it was glass. But the
figure mimicked him to produce an unwelcomed realization.
He looked down at his arms, closely and in disbelief. They
looked larger, and older. He tried to take a closer look at his
reflection. It was him, much older than he could remember.
His fingers slowly crawled towards the mirror but the
moment he touched the glass, more words rolled out, this
time displayed firmly over his own reflection, without a
sound: Welcome. Four more words appeared beneath as he
half-muttered what he saw: News, Weather, Sport,
Emergency. But by the time he pronounced the first of
those, the characters disappeared and were replaced by a
statement in bold: Etna wakes up, and puts everything else
to sleep, followed by more texts highlighting the headings
of various articles on the day. He nervously read them while
trying to shake away the text on glass until he found a little
series of icons beneath. He tried each with different results.
A familiar voice read out the text at one, one translated it all
in different languages, one changed the pattern of the text, a
fourth stuck to his fingers and ran along as they moved,
highlighting all text that came in its way, while another
switched to a different screen that began to ask for his
identification. With his head splitting, he drew away and
shouted, “Stop it!”
Everything vanished, and he stood there, alone, in
silence and decades older than he remembered. “The card,”
he thought, and uttered, “Qin45.” A beep sounded as he
took a deep breath, focussed on his reflection and blinked.
Texts appeared again, seemingly in mid-air, but they had no
mirror image. He strained further until he noticed little blue
streaks on the reflection of his pupil. The image was
startling, but his focus was immediately drawn away on to
the text itself: Permissions denied. He tried again, to a
similar result.
He would have screamed again, this time to an
audience extending far beyond the bounds of his room. But
with those very first steps that went backwards without any
direction or intent, carrying a lost mind and a panicking
body, the sweeter voice returned, “I told you to rest.”
He turned in anger to face the face he could not help
being intrigued at. He fought the diversion and addressed
her sharply, the intensity of his voice increasing with each
word, ‘Rest?! You tell me where I am. You tell me RIGHT
NOW!”
“Anger won’t help you, Qin,” she spoke softer still.
“You know this better than most people. Nor would
restlessness, or even solitude.”
The last word hit him as hard as his confusion had,
for it ran on inconvenient memories that came back
distinctly. He breathed again and asked, simply but sternly,
“Where am I?”
“I would tell you right now, but please spare a
thought to this: you are alive. And if you can remember
anything, it was quite unlikely.”
He did realize the fact, for if nothing else, he did
remember an excruciating pain that he had shut his eyes
amidst. He remembered, if nothing else, that more painful
had been his final regret that had stormed out from within
all illusions of uncertainty and righteousness, as he lay in
seclusion, smeared in his own blood and clenching on to
what felt most dear in that moment. I didn’t see, he had
thought as his grip had tightened over a ring. And then, it
had all gone blank.
The nervousness marginally waned as the breathing
normalized but he was restless still when he asked, “Why do
you keep calling me that?”
“Calling you what?”
“Qin, you said.”
“Aah, but that is what we have had registered here.
Is that not right?”
Qin thought for a while but could not explain his
agitation under the severe headache. He exclaimed in agony,
“I . . . don’t know.”
Friuli enquired, “Do you remember anything?”
“Only vaguely. Bits and pieces, but it’s too
difficult.”
“It will come back. You need rest.”
“What is all this, these screens? And what the hell is
on my eye?”
“So you activated it again?” she asked, walking up
to help him back to his bed.
“I had,” he said guiltily, feeling much easier with her
very first touch. “. . . switched it off.” He continued, as he
looked at the smooth stretch of her fair skin, “Couldn’t take
it.”
“You have been in a coma for quite a while, Qin.
Things have changed as they always do with time. So it is
not that the world is upside down now but as you can see,
there have been a few developments. What you see are
automated projections designed to assist you with any
information you need in real time. Some you can switch off
while others are ingrained in the objects.”
“But why on my eye?”
“On your eye is nothing spectacular. Most have it.
As to why we put you in such a shock with it, I extend both
my apologies and my sympathy. These were orders,
intended to help you accommodate with what has come to
be. Quite naturally, you wouldn’t have allowed the
implantation once you woke up, given that you are still,”
she hesitated, “a bit old school.”
“This thing is implanted?!” He asked with a sudden
high pitch.
“Well, of course it is. Is it really that bad a thing,
considering how bad your eye was after that fall?”
“H-how bad was it?”
Friuli gave a gentle smile as she tucked the sheets
around him, never taking her eyes away from his. She
whispered, pointing to the whiteness of the entire room,
“Let’s just say all white is better than all black.”
He knew panic would not help things. He was just
too oblivious at the moment. Friuli walked around his bed,
setting the table straight, replenishing it with fresh water and
taking a good look at everything else.
“The water-,” Qin said, under subtle hiccups,
“doesn’t taste . . . very well. It doesn’t taste at all actually.”
“Well, I guess it’s absolutely pure then! I’ll put that
on record for the maintenance staff,” she mused, and spoke
with greater sincerity, “Sleep Qin. Get your energy back.”
As she approached the door, he interrupted again,
almost shaking in his voice, “Quite a while,’ you said. How
long is that?”
Friuli stopped to take a heavy breath. Few seconds
passed in silence before she answered with a decisive effort,
“Twenty three years.”

Thanks for stopping by.

For More Malay, look here:

Blog: http://kalkievian.com/earth

Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/kalkievian

Twitter: http://twitter.com/kalkievian

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Link to Book at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24919828-kalki-evian?ac=1

Link to Print Book at Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kalki-evian-malay-upadhyay/1121223836?ean=9781625261885

Link To Author Page On Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/malayupadhyay

Link to Author Page on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/malayupadhyay

LIGHT BULB NOT INCLUDED

Where I come from, Hydro electric power is at a premium. That’s because environmentally conscious legislators stick handled some ballyhoo through our august house of parliament mandating the use of high cost mercury filled light bulbs. These, said to last forever,—(they don’t)—force tremendous savings, resulting in surpluses that the aforementioned legislators give away to our neighbors so that the status quo is maintained and we can enjoy higher prices.

Bully for us. There’s always a silver lining.

While others bitch and moan over the obvious injustice—my Sensy Burner™ for example has been without tiny bulb since the kibosh on luminescents—good hearted optimists like me embrace the darkness. And a good thing too: Darkness, like paint stripper, takes away everything cracked and peeling.

Every year around my birthday, I meet up with my old friend The Muse for a little vin rouge and a lie or two. I love these meetings, especially since they date back some thirty odd years.

Muse and I have had our fair share of triumphs and failures that include, but are not limited to, expanding waistlines and thinning hair. None of these matter, because in the afterglow of what is time, space and many, many vintages, neither he nor I change.

If anything, we travel backward.

“You haven’t changed a bit,” one of us says each year, usually after the first bottle.

“I know, eh? Funny how that is.”

Sometimes, after rehashing an old tale with plenty of add-on embellishments compensating for faltering memories, one of us will start eating out of the other’s plate without any thought to the patrons sitting next to us. We can do this, we tell ourselves, because the grey hair and lined faces that announce us on arrival gradually fade as the hours wear on.

Youth, you see, has a way of getting away with things that time and sober thought cancel out. It’s true every time; this year was no exception:

“Madame? Monsieur?” the concerned wait staff interjects once the peas start rolling onto the floor. “I must give you a caution. We here at M**ton’s take the utmost pride in the atmosphere we present and we rely on our patrons to do the same.”

Muse clears his throat before blowing the pretty little table candle out. “There,” he says, affecting invisibility. “No one can catch us now.”

It’s not until the next morning when I wake up safe and sound in my own bed that I realize that I’ve time traveled backward. “How did I get here?” I ask my husband while trying to blot out the natural light that recuts all kinds of crevices into my wise old face.

“The train,” he replies. “Muse piled you on the first one going east.”

“That’s bold,” I comment, before realizing that there could be no other conclusion: neither The Muse nor I could make sense of the e-schedule as posted despite the tinkly lights showing the way.

“Where are you going?” I query my husband who, with keys in hand, makes a bee line for the door. “It’s not even noon yet.”

“Light bulbs,” he says pointedly. “Two out in the family room.”

I laugh as I wave him off.

For as much as I curse the light and the hydro that brings it, there is no escaping the reality of a new day and the bright things it possesses.

THANK YOU, O MUSE. UNTIL NEXT YEAR… AND TO OTHERS: HAPPY ST. PADDY’S DAY!

Adult, unapologetic and cognizant, I wish you good day! Let’s stay above it.

ABF

TAKING THE DAY OFF

Spring is just around the corner my loves, and on the cusp of it and all the promises it carries, there is sun, snow melt and a city calling me out for a walk about. I’m doing it.

Happy Monday, One And All.

Back tomorrow…with a pint or two of the green stuff.

BESTS!

ABF

ON THE EVE OF HER BIRTHDAY, THE AUTHOR TAKES A DAY OFF WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM SOLSTICE

Guest Blogger: A. B. Funkhauser

Posted on March 11, 2015

HERE SHE COMES, MISS AMERICA

In the run up to the release of her debut novel HEUER LOST AND FOUND A.B. Funkhauser copes with the responsibility of really, really getting published…for real.

If I tell my friends one more time that writing picked me and I not it, I’ll probably get tee pee’d. But if casual pranks among friends comes with the territory, I’ll take it, because I mean every word. Over the course of the last twelve weeks, I’ve been asked to talk about everything from “process” to “voice” to “inspiration markers” and I’ve answered as best I can. I wrote, I said, because I felt I had to; I created characters and scenes because they ‘spoke’ to me and I transcribed; and I talked about myself—my hopes, my dreams and my fears—because this is what promotion is and promotion is key regardless of what my parents taught me about modesty and not trumpeting accomplishments.

I had a novel. I pitched it. And Solstice said “yes.” Now I have to sell it. *yikes*

SHAKIN’ LIKE A SPANIEL

With the ‘yes’ came the validation—the idea that maybe I had something decent after all—and with it an in-body experience that gave volcanism a whole new meaning for me. “Here she comes, Miss America” was the first thing that came to mind when I opened Summer Solstice Editor-In-Chief Kathi Sprayberry’s contract offer email last November.

Was this really happening? Will you marry me? Yes! Oh, yes! I will. I do…and then I slobbered like Miss America. For all those years I denounced the phony tears under the big tiara, this was the payback: Her tears were real after all, and so were mine.

SELL, SELL, SELL

I had my publisher, and with it my marching orders. In the space of a few weeks I had a website, a blog, a book trailer and a half century’s worth of tag lines, log lines and elevator pitches that would make Don Draper notice. I belong to “Promote Your Book” sites on Facebook, am mastering the fine art of twitter blasts on requisite Hash Tag Days of The Week, and long to upload THE BOOK onto Goodreads. There isn’t a coffee house in my county that doesn’t know me, and my former embalming instructor is dodging me because he knows I want the alumni list and going after said list is wildly inappropriate. I have compiled lists of local media to acquaint; public libraries with bulletin boards to be pinned, and arts and letters events that I will definitely go to, provided I lose that last five pounds that separate me from my party clothes.

Who knew this adventure would take me to such exciting places?

This weekend, I turn 50, and instead of handing out my shiny new postcards at the monthly breakfast I attend, I will have to entrust them to another to do the deed: my husband insists on spiriting me away to celebrate—sans postcards.

Maybe if we come home early???

Sigh.

ABF

March 11, 2015

A.B. Funkhuaser is a funeral director, wildlife enthusiast and classic car nut living in Ontario, Canada. Her debut novel, Heuer Lost And Found, combines adult, paranormal and dark humor in a fiction set to hit the market April 23, 2015. Presales begin March 26, 2015.

For more on A.B., please visit her at:

www.abfunkhauser.com

www.facebook.com/heuerlostandfound

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004110336663

https://twitter.com/iamfunkhauser

Be sure and check out her book trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3beUBWf2CQ

A visceral journey of two people: one living, one dead.

“Ever closer, ever farther, I will see you again one day, in the good place.”

Unrepentant cooze hound lawyer Jürgen Heuer dies suddenly and unexpectedly in his litter-strewn home. Undiscovered, he rages against god, Nazis, deep fryers and analogous women who disappoint him.

At last found, he is delivered to Weibigand Brothers Funeral Home, a ramshackle establishment peopled with above average eccentrics, including boozy Enid, a former girl friend with serious denial issues. With her help and the help of a wise cracking spirit guide, Heuer will try to move on to the next plane. But before he can do this, he must endure an inept embalming, feral whispers, and Enid’s flawed recollections of their murky past. Is it really worth it?

“Heuer? What kind of a name is that?”

Aside from a word rhyming with “lawyer,” Heuer is a man. German born, a U.S. citizen, he is layered, complicated, bitter and possessed of a really weird sense of humor. Dying alone and seemingly unlamented, he wakes as a preternatural residue, forced to live with his decomposing body over a one week period until he is finally found by a neighbor he despises. “If there’s a hell, it’s right here, and I’m standing in the middle of it.” Following his body to the funeral home, he is relieved to find Enid Krause, funeral director and former lover. Charged with the task of preparing his body for burial, she is less than gracious, declaring his dramatic return after a twenty year absence, unwelcomed and unappreciated. Crestfallen, Heuer doesn’t know what’s worse: dropping dead and not being found, or being found and being insulted.


ALL ROADS LEAD TO RAY’S CAFE

Long ago, before dinosaurs roamed the planet, a young woman sat down at her desk to write. Situated in the darkest corner of the Ontario Legislature and hidden beneath the main staircase in the north wing, the woman, attached to the research unit of the third party, had every prospect before her. They were in third place; they could only go up. Years later, they did. But that’s for another blog. Lady writer-in-waiting had miles to go and a mountain of human experience to conquer before she could get anything near an arc or inciting incident.

Which brings me to Ray’s Cafe in PICKERING, ONTARIO, CANADA. Intimate, homey and tucked away,

As good as it looks.
As good as it looks.

it is a gem in the early stages of pre-discovery. Monochromed with tons of natural light, it sports a large centre fireplace, plenty of comfy seats and croissants to live on to the end of days. I am well acquainted with Ray’s.

How many miles must Ray’s go before an inciting incident of its own brings Toronto and region to its doors? I wondered over a frothy cup of late winter hot chocolate.

I for one rue the day. Ray’s Cafe is MY place; its plush banquettes upholstered in a way such that a writer with laptop can stay all day and not accumulate bottom feeder sores.

Ah, but I’m selfish.

Ray and Melissa welcome me and let me stay. Heck, I can set myself up and read out loud on a stool if I want to. Melissa even let me park my newly printed postcards with book deets and flattering photo of the author on the sideboard near the recyclers. And there are plenty of other business cards to keep mine company.

Thanks Melissa. Thanks Ray.

The secret’s out now. 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/rayscafeespresso

http://rayscafe.ca/about/