I have been lazy. The blog has been slow. Thank Nick for kicking me about it.
To apologize, I will tell you about something I have been up to:
I wrote a little (tiny!) story called Portability. It is called that because I picked a word at random. I picked a word at random because that was the theme for the first week of the Metafilter Writer’s Group, which has just lately sprung into existence.
We’re writing on a given theme each week. 500ish words max. I hope to keep with it. I figure it’s like writing a novel, but without the continunity or the going crazy. Whee!
More posts coming with greater frequency and regularity, I [fingers crossed] promise.
Archeologist’s update, January 11 2017: reviewing old blog entries, and the original link for this story is dead. Internet Archive had a cache, so I’m copying the text of the story in full below for safe keeping.
“Portability, son. You got to be portable. You see this?”
Granther held up the stump. I saw it; I’d seen it. Never a day goes by.
“Portable. Mobile. You got to keep your assets liquid. You hear me well.”
I heard it; I had heard it. Never a day, since I’d moved in two years back. Granther was seventy-nine, thin and hale. Last in our line, besides me. He’d outlived my father, my mother, his other son. At fifteen, I hadn’t known what to make of him, and at seventeen I’d given up trying.
“Day comes, you’re gonna have to make a hard choice fast.”
“I know, pa, you’ve told me—“
He set down the butcher knife, next to the half-flayed ham, and looked at me. “Don’t you tell me what you know, son. You don’t know nothin’ is what you know. Think I’m a tired old fool, long of tooth, always repeating myself, dontcha?”
I bit my lip. Cold hard diamond eyes, unmeetable.
“Dontcha? Answer me, boy.”
“You’ve told me this like fifty times, Granther.”
“Yuh, and you ain’t learned nothin’. Soft, is what. Butter that bread, now.”
It was the cheapest butter and the cheapest bread. Standard MO. Granther didn’t trust banks, didn’t trust “health food quacks”, didn’t trust anything that wasn’t good common sense as of 1950 or so. None of that newfangled three-bucks-a-loaf multigrain shit, thankyouverymuch.
The butter was cold—I hadn’t left it out ahead of time. It tore up the bread. I cursed under my breath, and Granther brought his one hand across my face before I could think to wince.
“You watch your tongue, son.” Eyes like mineral deposits. My cheek burned. I finished the bread.
Awake still. The TV had been off for an hour. Granther had put himself to bed—I could hear him snoring. I snuck out to the backyard.
I eased open the shed door open, grabbed the shovel, went to work. Quiet as I could, looking over at the house, ears pounding in the suburban quiet. He didn’t trust banks. Kept his money liquid. Got to be portable. Hear me well. I’d found the map in an old journal: a loose drawing of the backyard, X marks the spot. I just wanted to find his cache, pocket it, and get moving. I’d have an hours-long headstart.
I dug slow and quiet. I’d seen Granther use a shovel. He made it look like no trouble, one-handed and all. Chuck, stomp, lever, toss. Quick, sure movements. Army man—shot his own hand off at the wrist when it got trapped in rubble in Europe, 1944—and he never lost his form.
The shovel hit wood with a wet crunch. It sounded like his money box was rotting. I reached down and pulled, and cheap wood came away in my hand. I reached in again and came up with a skull.
“That woman was tying me down, son. God rest her.”
His carbon eyes, staring down at me.
“Got to stay mobile, boy. Hear me well.”