Excerpt from a short story

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From a short story I am almost done with.  It might be ready to send out now.  At this point, an eccentric artist/street person is explaining a painting to a friend.

“Yeah”  Was all Chris could manage.  He looked through a few canvases and although he was no art critic, he knew they were good.  He picked up a large one that stood out and propped it on the bookshelf.  There was something about this one that drew the eye in.  It was like no painting he had ever encountered.

Red spoke from behind him and he startled a little.  “Like that one, huh?”  Red said.  “Me too.  Best thing I’ve done.  Did it in one night a few years ago.  Stone, cold sober if you can believe it.”

“It’s so …” Words failed Chris.

“Speaks to you.”  Red answered “I know.  It’s called The Silent Aspirations of Bastard Amber.  Bastard Amber is a color gel used in theater lighting.  It can also be a paint color, and that’s the beautiful thing about it.  It’s a color open to interpretation.”

“Yeah?”  Chris managed, not taking his eyes off the painting.

Red pointed to a place on the picture.  “Here’s the Bastard Amber.  And here and here and back here.  And you step back and look at this painting as a whole and it’s us.  It’s me and you and, like the people, man.  And we’re back there like the Bastard Amber and we are open to interpretation man because that’s what life is.  And see all of this up here, the big stuff?  It’s all moving around and swirling and huge and dominating and it’s in control.”  Chris glanced at Red.  And in saw the old Red of intellect and passion, of drive and wonder.

Red continued staring at the painting and talking like Chris wasn’t there.  “All this up here, it’s like the government, the corporations, the organizations and all the crap they pile on us the Bastard Amber.  It’s the news and the booze and the dope and the politics and the war and the useless garbage they try to sell us.  They’re pushing us behind and keeping us back.  But look at the Bastard Amber.  Here and here and here.  See what it’s doing?  It’s on the outside and moving up.  The Bastard Amber is saying to all that crap, that garbage; you might be on top now but we are on our way.  And one day.  One day, man.  You’re gonna see us and we won’t be silent no more.  Maybe not in this life.  Maybe in the heaven or nirvana or paradise or whatever you want to call it.  The Bastard Amber is gonna rise and be right up where it belongs.  And all the pain you caused us, it won’t mean nothin no more.  You look, man, you look long enough and you will see.  Here’s your coffee.”

Chris took the cup from Red and the coffee, as promised, was good.

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From latest short story

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This story has had a long life.  Originally written about 2010, I wasn’t satisfied with it and left it alone until recently.  Now, revamped and renamed, it may be ready for submission.  I have no clue where the idea for this one came from, usually there is a prompt of some kind.  So, here is an excerpt.

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Bobby was insistent on seeing his father and she explained Hunter’s condition to him.  Silently she noted that he was expert at acting truly concerned as they joined Hunter on the back porch enjoying iced tea and watching the birds flock to the feeders.  Hunter barely looked up when Bobby sat down in front of him.

“Dad, you have a visitor.”  She said happily.

Hunter looked up at her and smiled.  “Thank you love.”  He said and patted her hand.  He looked blankly at Bobby.  “You another doctor?”  He demanded.

Bobby put his hand on the old man’s knee.  “It’s me dad, Bobby.”

Hunter peered at him distrustfully.  “I don’t need another doctor.  You can’t do anything for me anyway.  You people are just after another payment on your Mercedes.”

Hunter looked bewildered at Sandra.  “Do I have a doctor Bobby?”  He asked.  She made no comment.

“No dad.”  He pleaded. “I’m Bobby, your son.”

Hunter looked at him in irritation.  “I don’t know what you are saying.  I don’t have a son.” He looked up at Sandra again imploring then back at Bobby. “I don’t have any children.  My wife died, we never had children.  State your business young man.”

“You remember me don’t you dad?  I’m Bobby.”  He continued.

“You look like that guy on the news.  Who are you?”  Hunter asked irritated.

“I already told you dad.”  Bobby was also irritated now.

“Stop calling me that.  I want you to leave.”  Hunter turned to Sandra.  “Marion, make him leave now.  He looks like that that man on television.”  He fumbled with the binoculars.  “I’m going to look at my birds.”  He mumbled.  With that Hunter raised the binoculars and ignored everyone else.

Bobby looked at Sandra who gave a shrug of her shoulders.  Sandra followed Bobby back to the front door after promising to bring Hunter a refill on his iced tea.

“I told you.”  She said as Bobby stepped out onto the front porch.

“He’s freaking senile.”  He turned back to her.  “I still don’t get you being here.”

From Short Story in progress

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I like this story but it needs some editing.  It’s too long for one thing.  Needs a bit of tightening up.  Overall, it is worth keeping and I will get it there soon.  

Plot is a happening young writer who fancies himself a Hemmingway, goes out to some crummy neighborhood bars as “research” for his book.  It doesn’t go as planned.

 

He walked on and decided that he would not drink at the next place, only eat.  He didn’t think he could stand more alcohol now.  It was dark and the streetlights were dim causing him to stumble more than once over broken pavement.  Red’s Corner was ahead at a distance, it’s ancient neon sign sputtering on and off.  The footsteps sounded behind him and even though on the edge of panic, he glanced back.

A skinny black man with shining teeth was catching up to him.  He spoke “That’s right, a black man following you.”  He laughed but Jonathan found nothing funny.

Jonathan stopped and turned.  He figured that the other man was a twig and barring a knife or firearm, would be no problem for him to take care of himself should it come to that.  “Help you?”  He asked.

“Don’t get the wrong idea now, brother.”  The man laughed and kept walking.  “I’m a peace loving soul.”

The man caught up to Jonathan and kept his hands in plain view.

“Now them clowns back there?” The man continued “If Jerry hadn’t been there you might be in the back of an ambulance now.  Those boys back there”  The man pointed behind them “they’s trifling.”

Jonathan decided that the man was most likely harmless.  “Thank Jerry for me.”  He said.

“What you out walking for?”  The man asked. “Car break down?”  Only he said car as “cah”.

Jonathan shrugged in reply.

“Oh no.  I know what it is.”  The man laughed “Had a fight with the old lady now you walking.”  He thought it was hilarious. “I know how it is.  Them women can be rough.”

Jonathan shrugged again and walked on.  The man kept pace with him.

In his novel, this scene was an entire chapter of banter about women meant to show the contrast and commonalities in male and female relationships across the black and white spectrum.

“Going to a friend’s place on Troy Avenue.  Crashing for the night.”  Jonathan offered.

“That’s it.”  The man agreed. “Give her some cool down time.  Don’t you give in and call her now.  Let her go on wondering where you are.”

Jonathan chuckled.  “Thought I would hit some of the bars along the way.”

“I see.  Uh huh.  They’s a good liquor store up here before Red’s Place.  Other side of the street.”  The man said.

“No.  The bars.  I might go in Red’s, if it isn’t like the last place, that is.”  Jonathan said.

“Red’s Place ain’t nothing like T. J.’s.” The man explained. “T.J.’s, you seen what it was.  I don’t like going in there.  Too many trifling fools.  Not Red’s it’s a regular place.  They don’t mess around.”

“OK.”

The man looked at him out of the corner of his eye. “And they’s white in there, much as black.  Ebony and Ivory.”

“OK.”

“Red’s used to be the bar for the brass works what went out of business.  My daddy used to sit in there with his friends from work.”  He explained. “Brass works been gone twenty-five years at least.”

“I remember the brass works.”  Jonathan said, although he had no idea what the man was talking about.

 

From my newest short fiction

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New story still in the works.  I originally wanted it to be around 1500 words but think it will end up about 2200 after all.  This is a piece from the end.

 

Red was gone when Chris arrived.  He showed his city credentials and talked with Police officers.  There was little to be done.  He ventured into the apartment and looked around.  It was essentially the same. 

“Friend of yours?”  He heard a man’s voice behind him.

“Yeah.  And I am a city inspector.  Landlord?”  Chris turned around.

“Uh huh.  Gary Pace, Pace Enterprises.”  The man was a slumlord and looked the part and now he was wary of Chris.

“This place is a real shit hole, you know?”  Chris said.

“Yeah.  I’m having it taken down.  I wasn’t hardly charging the guy anything, he watched the place for me.  He begged me to stay while I was figuring out what to do with the building.  He could have got all of this junk out of here.”

“So could you.  Could have fixed the gas before it killed someone.”  Chris turned back to the room.

“You don’t need to break my balls, pal.  Don’t no one know what happened here.  I’m letting my lawyer handle it.”  The man said. 

“You should.”  Chris gestured to the bookshelves.  “What about his stuff?  You have a family contact for him?”

“Nah man.  He didn’t sign anything.  I got his name and cash for the rent.  He drops it at my office every month.  I pay utilities.”

“Taking it down?  When?”  Chris asked.

“Soon, brother, soon.”  The man said.

Chris turned back to the room, put his hands on hips, and sighed.  “I’ll come back with my truck and load what I can.  The junk stays.  You want any of this?”

“Maybe a painting.  I like his paintings.  He gave me one once.”  The landlord said.  “Look, I’m sorry about your friend.  I liked the guy.  I was doing him a favor letting him stay here for almost nothing, he was living in his truck.”

Chris thought a moment, then spotted La Bohème on the shelves and picked it up.  “Bohemian.”  He chuckled to himself.

“What’s that?”  The landlord asked.

“Bohemian.  It’s what he called himself when I saw him last.” Chris started making his way through the refuse of the narrow passageway and back to his car.

“Sure.”  The man answered behind him.

Chris tossed La Bohème on the next seat, then drove home to get his pickup truck.

Shadowed Solitude republished by Literally Stories today

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https://literallystories2014.com/2016/04/22/shadowed-solitude-by-donald-baker/

Literally Stories republished the story Shadowed Solitude which originally came out in 2013 with The Huffington Post.  This isn’t what I consider one of my strongest pieces and one day, when I get ready to compile a short story collection, I will rewrite it.

Literally Stories is a great group of people to deal with.  This is the second of my pieces they picked up.  They are very encouraging and complementary, I can’t thank them enough.

Literally Stories to republish Shadowed Solitude

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Today I received the email we all want:

Dear Donald,
 
I am very pleased to inform you that your short story, Shadowed Solitude, will be published on Literally Stories at 06.00am GMT on Friday 22.04.16.

Kind regards
Hugh Cron on behalf of Literally Stories


Shadowed Solitude was originally published in the fall of 2013 by The Huffington Post / Fiction 50 section.  I have no idea what happened, my guess an error, but for some reason when they posted it they put it in with stories that had been posted months before.  So it was buried.  On top of that they closed the comments on old stories, so I have no idea what readers thought or if they even noticed it.

I submitted to Literally Stories as they are one of the few who will publish reprints.

That makes five of my short stories that have been picked up since 01/2016, when I got laid off from work and put more effort into it.  On top of that, I finished my novel and got it sent off to a few publishers.

Now, my next goal is to make money.  All I want is one dollar, so I can say I am a paid writer.