Behind the scenes with the “Johnny” series

Do I know where “Johnny” will take us? No I don’t. Not yet but I have some things coming to mind. I want to avoid writing the ending first but I do have an Idea – call it a feeling – what will happen after the brunch scene. I also think I have the target length in words – where I want to be mathematically – predicted at the moment, and I also am starting to get a sense of the tone as well as the Genre of the piece.

I am a great fan of the British crime novel – yet this piece feels more like American Noir than anything else. Well, let’s call it Southwestern Ontario Noir – I’ll really try and localize it without being trite.

I can’t rewrite the piece as I blog so I’ll have to stick with some of the characters and places I’ve already created – but as an experiment it should still work out. Yes, I have taken to writing this elsewhere in a file which will help me with the continuity but it will also help me post larger sections like the one I just wrote today , and I hope you will be happy with that as you will have more anticipation and get involved a bit more – you’ll have a steak in the plot!

Remember I’ve never done anything like this before – it’s entirely an exercise for me to see if I can write something complete over the course of weeks. Yes that’s right – should take about a three weeks to a month if I continue with the longer pieces. And a couple of other caveats: I am going to have to follow the male sexism a bit further – fast car beer drinking Johnny and all – but there will either be consequences – always are in Noir and I’ve already started by bringing Johnny up from troubled background and wealth in a Chappiquiddick/ Kennedy sort of way, or I’ll try to change this a bit and insert some liberal democratic credibility. You’ll just have to wait on that one.

The second Caveat is I may get tired and try to short cut – that’s what I am trying to avoid more than anything, especially around closure. I’d rather keep things open and unfolding as much as possible. Call me on it if you think I am wavering.

The last thing to realize is that once I’m done I will have a full draft short story. That’s the beginning of the process I guess, so what you read shouldn’t be the end all in terms of structure especially, but I am having fun with it for now.

Thanks for listening and keep up with Johnny. Oh – I would certainly change the title with the final draft – maybe sooner. If you think of anything you would like me to call the peace – and don’t say crap – drop me a note through my about & contact page e-mail: spevpro@yahoo.ca

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Series: Johnny #5

“Gonna dance with my baby till the night is through, On Saturday night, Saturday night. Tell her all the little things I’m gonna do, On Saturday night, Saturday Night,” Johnny sang.

“Where the hell did you hear that from?” I asked.

“One of Marty’s albums, the Bay City Rollers; Some glam rock band from Scotland in the 70’s; I bug him about it– you should see his hair back then. At least he had some I guess.”  Johnny was 32 and had been raised by his uncle Marty after his parents split when he was in high school. I guess his mother couldn’t handle the breakup when Johnny’s father fucked off. They were both in their late thirties and mid-life crisis started young. Too much responsibility, though you’d think they had done most of the work getting him to that age. Johnny still sees his mother – don’t get me wrong. Out of their family though, Marty was the closest to Johnny over the years and it just made sense. Marty was also the youngest, having Maria – Johnny’s Mom – and Brian, both older. If you did the math Marty would have been around 15 when he was supposed to have had Johnny, so they were closer in age than most parents, which made it difficult through the rebellious teen years. I guess this was what Johnny’s birth mom and dad saw coming – their youth finally over.  

“Come on,” I said, “He could have only been around 12 or 13 back then.”

“Yeah, he probably started going bald in high school.” Johnny replied. He and Marty now lived up on the hill in Alliston – what we call the hill but it’s more like a plateau of plantation-like homes. Admittedly Johnny’s wasn’t the stateliest but Marty was a local real estate lawyer and Johnny never wanted for anything that I can remember including this two year old GT convertible – a 30th birthday present – that I was now driving fast out of town.

St. Johnston was only fourteen minutes away if you drove over the speed limit but today the weekenders were ought. Not quite Sunday traffic, but slow enough with the occasional farm vehicle that I could only put the car to the test when I overtook.

Roberta lived just on the outside of St. John’s as it was called locally. Another small town of dusty intersection and single gas station, with heavy machinery repair, like so many others in the Southwest. Roberta’s place seemed quiet as we pulled into the driveway. She had horses: 8 or 10 of them depending on who was boarding and the 40 acres of half bush and Carolinian woods was the ideal trail camp for spoiled city pre-teens following a dream.  Saturday’s the parents were usually parked with their BMW’s and Lexus 4-wheell drive SUV’s by the stables driveway – half a block away but there was only one car parked there today and that was Jenny’s Jeep Laredo.

Series: Johnny #4

Who the hell would go to the brewery for lunch – especially without checking in with his other half first and I told him so. “No matter,” he said, “I have an in.” I guess these things while scheduled, are fairly exclusive.  Especially as the so-called tour ends up in the brewer’s loft which I found out is well stocked with about a dozen different brands and Johnny’s “in” was the Brew Master himself who didn’t care much for the regulation four ounce sample with a six sample maximum when he gave the tours to ‘private guests,’ and we didn’t pay the $10 tour price either.

“Live life large,” Johnny toasted. He was sounding more and more like a wreck every day and while this may have worked in college, it was far from the recent history of late night shooter bars or even after work cocktails – which still happened from time to time. On the other hand I wasn’t there to judge him. I had done my fair share but seemed to have learned the lesson a bit faster than he had.

“One more dark ale, and that’s it,” Johnny said as he held up two fingers to Glen the Brew Master. And even Glen did a double take. Yes, I would get the keys and drive and would turn away from the last eight ounce, only to watch Johnny gulp down half the draft I left sitting at the bar. Instinct said something had changed in Johnny and I was determined to find out what. But not at the moment, we had agreed to meet the girls early that afternoon and I wanted to put some distance between the hops and this friend of mine lest we both got our asses kicked. 15 minutes later we were headed out of town to Roberta’s place, wind in our hair, tunes on the radio – and an open road.

Update – About & Contact

I’ve added an e-mail addy in the About tab so you can send me comments and suggestions. I’d like to here from you, really I would!

Blogging isn’t at all like social media. you put something out there and it doesn’t come back. With FB, this only happened a few times and I got the point – it probably sucked. Now, nothing really comes back but I have had a few people say they have read this stuff and want me to keep going so send something encouraging as well. PLEASE! It’s the only way I’ll know if I am going in the right directions so be honest HHHHAAAHHHAAA – again please do so! At the very least drop me a line at my facebook page – you don’t have to be public about it. I’m going to find a way to write something because I want to practice this craft and be able to write for longer periods on some of the stories you have seen here. If I can get that far then I can continue to find my voice – or change, doesn’t matter.

Why did I start playing the guitar at 44? Well, because all through my life I looked at other people doing things and said to myself, if only I could do that. I’ve worked with musicians for years and always envied the sounds they created – it was way over my head in ability. Then one day, I met a musician who told me he had only been playing for a little over two years. Now he could bang out a tune pretty well from my perspective and I wanted to get involved somehow in what I was doing, so I eventually took the plunge and bought a cheap practice guitar.

All I did was the math and told myself if I played enough – like mostly every day – I would be able to play the thing in a couple of years. That’s not so bad now is it. And so what about the age. Unless I get bad arthritis I should be good until I’m 60. Tell me something you are doing that involves a certain amount of skill that you have been doing for 15 (44 yrs old when I started plus another 15 years or so) years.

So I am taking the same approach with writing for now. I’ve always wanted to be a writer – and been so close to writing whether it be prose, plays, or journalism, and now I get to dabble in it like a weekend cottager at least, but more if I keep it going. I’ll start off with the essay and work up to the short story or play and then who knows. I just need to keep going and you can help. Don’t think you don’t play a role. 

So now you know how you can help me. I want to help you by giving you something daily that you can smile at, ponder, or even just blow off, but I want to give it anyway. You’re feedback is urgent!

Every time I hear a guitar based song I reach for my axe

That’s a good sign no? Mean’s I’m still interested. I thought I was waning a little over the winter. It’ll be close to a year soon since I picked up a guitar for the first time and admittedly I’m not as far along as I wanted to be. See, the guitar is weather dependent for me. It takes its place by the ashtray and coffee mug in the workshop. That’s where I can wail away with the amp or struggle through an acoustic chord transition over and over. Trouble is, it’s cold in the winter even with the heater on – not to mention coming home from a day of work in the winter is as depressing as hell. Not the coming home bit, technically it’s the dreariness and darkness that prevents creativity. It’s dam oppressive.

Now, with spring nearly here and better weather, I feel like I’m hitting my stride a bit. I’m concentrating more on those transitions. I’m pulling lessons off you tube every day and even though I don’t have the tempo, it’s a lot of fun knowing the chords to some of my most favourite guitar tunes. Should I tell you? Well here’s a short list – lots more when I think about it: Hotel California, Ohio, Have You Ever Seen the Rain, Let it be, Yesterday, and on, and on. There’s a lot of southern rock I guess.

 I wonder if I can get into the bedroom right now where I left my acoustic and sneak out before I wake my wife.

Knowing Woosie

 

#Winning

I know what Charlie Sheen meant when he winged about winning. Go read my first post on learning badass and you’ll start to get the picture. I’m finding it’s harder than I thought. I won a few times today but I also didn’t – quite.

First it was the shoes I had in for repair and picked up yesterday. I wore them for the first time today thinking man, this is great – I have, finally after like two years of staring at the grubby leather slats, got them repaired. Just some heavy buffing and…oh, oh, a new heal piece where the others had worn.

I’m trying to deliberate if the new heal pieces are made of harder rubber or that I am just not familiar enough wearing them to know what they should feel like. Come on, that’s not winning. I know there is something different with them; something not quite right.

Then there’s the guitar. It’s my big acoustic electric which I just like to look at. I got it at a sneak of a deal almost a year ago and haven’t played it too much since last summer because one of the strings broke and I replaced it – then the string broke again.

This time I took my beloved guitar into a high end shop – not where I bought it – and right away one of the guys at the service desk told me he thought the frets were too high in two places and there was something wrong with the “saddle” where the strings go into at the bottom.  Off course the ‘expert’ would have to look at it in a couple of days when he’s back, but you get the picture. I’m deliberating on taking the guitar back to the place where I bought it

But I am afraid. I am afraid of winning because it will cut out a piece of me to do so. Will they take a complaint at the shoe repair for unsatisfactory heel replacement? What about the belt I bought at the same time. I haven’t worn it yet but what if it doesn’t stand up to wear as promised. Did they mention a guarantee? I don’t remember now. Maybe if I don’t wear the belt as often I told myself as I scrutinized it for flaws. It was a custom measure but now it feels like it is too big – I worry. What if I continue to loose weight?

Then there’s the guitar: I really know, like, and respect the owner of the store where I bought it. Is it under warranty still? When did I buy it? Oh, I’m afraid to look into my wallet where I should have kept the receipt. I remember him saying he’d give me a year warranty on it. But then there’s the cold weather I may have played it in, I can’t remember how much I did. I have another guitar I have been using in and out the workshop and in the cold all winter – and it’s doing just fine. I may have done this with my broken guitar but probably not – I worry. What if I ask the opinion of the repair guy? My wife is ‘suggesting’ I go and talk to the owner of the place I bought it and let him know I’m not happy with my broken guitar, but I don’t know – I’ll make him feel bad. More importantly I’ll make me feel bad too. I’m feeling bad just thinking about it!

Wow – how do I go from Charlie Sheen to a puddle of Jell-o on the floor? I can’t even decide on a name for it – woosie, spineless, I don’t know, all of them. It’s just a general fear that eats away if I let it. Fortunately life is full of moments in time where one failure can be quickly erased as yesterday’s news. It’s up there with forgetting pain. The mind has the ability to NOT remember the last time you were a woosie, and allow you to do it all over again even though if you thought about it for half a second you would be ashamed. So how do I protect myself? How do I build a woosie shield!

The only thing I can come up with on the spur of the moment is to establish boundaries. But that’s not right either. You can’t just say I don’t want to or have to deal with conflict. Maybe that’s the key here. I’m not actually dealing with conflict; I am dealing with the fear of conflict. Conflict hasn’t even happened yet. I am not going to be a woos, I am not going to be a woos, I am not…wtf?

I could also come out and promote woosieness. Sort of like a self help – no, that would mean there is a problem and I don’t want to accept that.  I’m talking about acknowledging woosiness and embracing it. I have other qualities. I could even raise funds to support research into woosieness, after all, it’s a freeking pandemic I think. “Watch out – there’s another Woosie, don’t look him in the eye” kinda thing.

Then there’s the first elected woosie campaign for parliament. We woosie’s need representation in government – especially if we are a majority! The rights of the woosie must be protected. It would be a landslide win.

Somehow these don’t seem to fit what I need. Well, maybe nothing does right now and I have to hit the books on the subject again, this isn’t getting me anywhere after all.  If you have any solutions or advice for me let me know. I’m just going to listen to some sad songs and grab that box of tissue. Woos. Maybe I’ll watch some re-runs of Two-and-a-Half Men for some advice!

Series: Johnny #3

Jenny, and Johnny's Car

“ S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y –Night! S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y – Night, I-I-I-I Just can’t wait, I-I-I-I gotta date,” Not really a hello now was it. 

“Sup Johnny – and it’s not Saturday night yet either.”

“No matter, it will be sometime wone’ it – and we’re gonna’ party, we are gonna’ party,” he rhymed.

“What are you talking about you crazy fool?” I said,

“It’s Jenny’s birthday man – remember?”

“Yeh? So? We are going to that opening tonight – they’re not usually bustin’ loose at openings.”

“Not the way I see it – we are in – we’re the ones who make it man…make it make it, shake and bake it.” I know it was his way of poking me in ribs but he could also be annoying at times as he spun off into whatever music or pop-culture vein he wanted – it was a constant barrage of verbal spew sometimes – but that was in a way entertaining. It kept it lively, and it did drive itself on having fun. Problem was you never really saw a serious side; always something going on; always something.

“Ah – fucking hell that’s cold,” I could hear the water in the background and realized he had stepped into the shower with the phone still at his ear.” Gotta’ go; your place in half an hour.”