# writing

## A difficult week

This has been a very difficult week for me, not because yesterday marked exactly two months since my mother’s death or even the ubiquitous Mother’s Day displays springing up in all the stores or ads for specials at local restaurants shoved into my tiny apartment mailbox – no, it’s hard because, well, I can’t explain why.

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s summer in Florida and the oppressive humidity is starting to get to me. Maybe it’s that the weekend thunderstorms are causing my arm/shoulder to hurt again. Maybe it’s that I’ve been stuck with terrible heartburn all week which makes me not want to eat so anything I force myself to eat only makes said heartburn worse. I can’t see a doctor about any of this because I don’t have insurance anymore (which apparently can’t be fixed until the exchange opens up again in December).

Perhaps, it’s the fact that I finally submitted my manuscript to another editor and have no idea whether they will praise it or tear me to shreds like my last two (which was why I waited a full year to submit it to another editor). Though part of me knows that it’s the waiting for their assessment that’s harder than anything they might say, the rest of me dreads any kind of feedback at all (though I know my work needs it).

Or I could just be bored. You wouldn’t think someone who covers theme parks for a living would get bored… but then again, I could be lonely too, but dating is probably the one thing scarier than anything my editor could possibly say to me. In fact, I should probably quit writing now, as I just realized: It was way too familiar blog posts about ableism and discrimination first thing in the morning that started this trend (thankfully, April is now over, so I should be seeing a lot less of them)… but the approach of Mother’s Day probably isn’t helping matters.

## Photo: When did THIS happen?

No, seriously, the last time I checked I had about 206 followers!

## Fiction: Mouseland (part 1)

Michael was surprised to see the tall blonde sitting on his sofa. He hadn’t told Matthew to recruit anyone, but there he was with one anyway. Suddenly, the boy stood up, turned to him, but before he could say anything Matthew chimed “Welcome home, master.”

“What the hell did you do to Maddy,” he said ignoring the interruption. “He doesn’t even recognize his own damned name anymore.”

“I didn’t ‘hurt’ him if that’s what you mean. Hell, the very fact that you’re standing here is proof of that. C’mon, do you really think he’d drag one of his ‘friends’ here if I was? Oh and you can quit calling him that – particularly since his name is ‘Matthew’ now and he’s not a fan of stupid nicknames anyway.”

“First off, ‘Maddy’ isn’t a ‘stupid nickname’ – it’s how he pronounced his name in kindergarten. Second, what the hell was wrong with the name ‘Madison,’ anyway?”

“You mean besides being pretentious? It’s also a reminder of his life before meeting me, the life he himself asked, nay, pleaded with me to erase just as I have with countless – okay, six – others. And I’m more than happy to do the same with you almost as much as Matthew here will be to have the company.”

“Michael,” the pretty, blonde headed girl said entering her ex’s apartment. “You left this at… Ah, damn it, not ANOTHER one!”

“Damn it, Claire,” he said. “Must you barge in on me EVERY time I try to induct someone? It kills the mood and instantly stops any progress I – sorry – we’ve made…”

Matthew dutifully – and without prompting from either of them – clasped his friend’s hand as soon as his master broke eye contact with his newest subject.

“So just leave whatever it is on the counter and I’ll get it when we’re finished. Now, I apologize for the interruption, do you want to continue… or would you rather quit for the time being?”

Claire goes to leave, and as she does the boy looks directly at her and drones “continue” with a flat yet oddly defiant tone…

“I see you’re as reliable as ever,” the ginger haired sophomore said. “Let me guess, you’re waiting for your supposedly ‘better’ half?”

“Yeah,” Daniel said sitting on the sofa next to the door.

“Ugh,” Claire said entering the dormitory. “You know I hate ‘volunteering’ at these stupid events. I don’t know why I let you talk me into helping you.”

“Because you LOVE me and would do ANYTHING to make me happy,” her short, raven haired boyfriend answered.

“Don’t try to pull that crap on me. You know full well that hypno shit doesn’t work on me. God knows Michael tried it enough times…”

“Ah, Daniel,” his RA said appearing from around the corner. “There you are, we just finished setting up the event room. We should be ready to start in a few minutes.”

“Good, that means I can LEAVE.”

“Claire, wait…Damn it, she’s gone.”

It didn’t take Madix all that long to get acclimated to his new home. His “master’s” bedroom was on the left when you came into the apartment and theirs was on the right, both rooms were approximately the same size and each had their own small bathroom. Michael hadn’t replaced the furniture after his previous roommate moved out, but he kept the posters in place giving the otherwise empty room a somewhat “lived-in” feel.

“Where do you sleep?”

Matthew points downward and Madix looks at him like he’s “kidding.”

He wasn’t.

“C’mon, he has to have a mattress or something here for you?”

“There’s a blanket in the closet…”

“Okay, I see that… but, um, where are your clothes?”

“You’re looking at them.”

“I see…well… at least, closet space won’t be a problem…”

“Ugh,” Daniel said. “I swear these closets get smaller and smaller with every event.”

“No,” the Resident Assistant said. “It just seems that way. Well, it’s okay, we’re going to have to organize it again later. Thanks for assisting with clean-up, you two were a big help today.”

“We aim to please,” Scott said. “We’ll be sure to send you the pictures once we upload them to Brendan’s website.”

“I’m sure they’ll look great in our newsletter too,” she replied (though she had no clue who this “Brandon” character was). “Which I still haven’t gotten around to writing yet… well, whatever, I’m sure you have other things to do on a Thursday night than go through worthless floor gossip and half-assed ‘announcements.’”

“Thanks for reminding me, I forgot all about my staff meeting at the paper.”

“Besides, if we weren’t helping you, we would probably be feeding the homeless or reading to sick kids at the hospital.”

“Yeah, there’s never a dull moment with Captain Hero, here.”

“You know we went shopping this afternoon.”

“YOU did anyway.”

“No, WE did; laundry’s tomorrow and in twenty minutes, I’m going to start making his dinner.”

“Well, of course, you’ll help me.”

“I guess – I mean: anything to make our ‘master’ happy.”

“Better, but I suppose if you really don’t want to help, there’s an X-Box in the living room. Eh, just as well, kitchen’s too small for two people anyway.

“In the meantime,” he said stripping off his belt and tossing it in the corner. “If you REALLY want to be helpful, there’s another little matter that could use your attention…”

Madix didn’t mind doing laundry as much as he thought he would. It was a fascinating show of motion and colors, and it was worth every quarter he put into the machine.

“You know,” Matthew said appearing behind him. “We’re not the first ones in this apartment to be tranced.”

“Really,” he replied distractedly.

“Yep, our master used to ‘serve’ someone named ‘Master Brendan’ until they had a falling out sometime before I met him. Apparently, I was his first recruit as a ‘free agent’ and I think I turned out quite well. Wouldn’t you agree?”

“Yes,” he said mesmerized by the endless cycle of clothes tumbling together and seemingly melding into each other. “But I wonder…”

“What?”

“Well…” he said as the buzzer woke up from his mini trance. “He may be out of this Brandon guy’s control, but do his triggers still work…?”

Michael sat at the last remaining table inside the campus coffee shop, when he opened his backpack to get his laptop out; a bunch of brochures fell out: The Magic Kingdom, EPCOT Center, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

“How did these get in here?”

“I think you know,” Claire said taking the seat across from him. “A certain someone – or someones – is trying to tell you something. Apparently, they’ve figured out that subtlety doesn’t work on you.”

“They did seem unusually subservient this morning, and kept saying weird things like ‘your dream is our desire,’ ‘we wish we could do more for you,’ and that my smile ‘meant the world’ to them.”

“I see you remain as impervious to hints as ever.”

“What is THAT supposed to mean?”

“It means the only way they could make their wants any clearer is if they wished you a ‘magical day.’”

“Hey, those were Madix’s last words to me as I left this morning.”

“Good God, you really are hopeless.”

“I know what you’ve been doing to him,” Claire said entering her ex’s apartment. “HE doesn’t, but I do.”

“We have no idea what you’re talking about,” Matthew said.

“We would never hurt our dear master,” Madix continued.

“Oh,” she said flashing the brochures in their faces. “Then where did THESE come from?”

“Nothing wrong with dropping a few hints here and there.”

“You mean ‘hints’ like ‘your wish is our desire,’ ‘your smile means the world to us,’ and ‘have a magical day?’ You know full well he’s impervious to such subtlety… but he wasn’t supposed to ‘catch’ them, was he? They were simply plants so he would come up with the idea ‘on his own.’”

“Don’t you dare… wait a second,” she said walking up to him and staring him in the eyes. “One thing I learned from dating two tranced guys in the past year is they can’t snap at anyone when they’re ‘under.’”

“Okay,” he said with a shrug. “So I can’t be hypnotized, but HE sure as hell can. In fact, it’s ridiculously easy to do and he’s never aware of it – particularly if we do it together. We just drop a little ‘suggestion’ here and there about how much he ‘loves’ us and ‘can’t live without us’ and BAM we’re never homeless again.”

“Yeah,” Madix continued casually. “All I have to do in return is act dumb and make out with him while Matthew cooks, cleans and sucks his dick. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me. Now the only question is: are you going to rat me out or not?”

“Why? Rats like you – who give their fellow rodents a bad name – are usually smart enough to cover their own tracks. You’ve probably already ‘programmed’ him not to believe anything I tell him anyway.”

“And they say ‘blondes are dumb.’ Now go bother someone else, we’ve got laundry and grocery shopping to do. Oh, and let’s not forget graduation trips to plan,” he said practically pushing her out the door. “Cuz we’re going to Disney… and you are not.”

“Really,” she said blocking the door with her foot. “If I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that Michael is a good boy and good boys know who their friends are and you clearly aren’t one of them. See you in Mouse-land, loser.”

He locks the door behind her, waits until he hears the elevator ding and said: “Gah, she’s such a nuisance, a cute nuisance, but a nuisance nonetheless…”

Claire parked her blue Honda Civic in the “Red” lot and walked over to the long brick building on the western edge of campus. The closer she got the worse she felt, but she knew the longer she put it off the harder it would become.

She walked past the counter, not bothering to return the greeting from the girl at the reception desk. She pressed the button for the elevator and steeled herself for what would be one of the most difficult conversations she would have in recent memory.

Finally, she gets to the fifth floor and knocks on the door at the end of the hall – the one with the balloons floating happily into the sunset.

“Daniel,” she said as he opened the door. “There’s something I need to tell you…”

“Guys,” Michael said excitedly. “I’ve got some good news…and some bad news for you.”

The two followers (now wearing matching Mickey Mouse T-shirts) look at him anxiously, but say nothing.

“The GOOD news is my sister is coming by for the weekend. The BAD news is I’ll be spending the most of my time with her instead of you…which from your perspective is probably another ‘good’ as it gives you some down time. Anyway, we’re leaving for dinner in about an hour so you don’t need to worry about cooking for me. Heck, you should probably go out yourselves.”

“That’s not necessary,” Matthew said. “We enjoy pleasing our master – AND his family.”

“No, you deserve it with all the time you spend cramped up in here. Money’s on the counter, I’m going to take a shower and get dressed.”

“Well,” Madix said pocketing the envelope as Michael disappeared into the bedroom. “If you’re not going…”

Shortly after Claire left, Scott approached Daniel’s still open door. But before he could say a word, Daniel put his finger to the ginger haired boy’s lips and said “shush.”

Daniel didn’t need to say anything, Scott knew intrinsically what he was feeling and was more than willing to let him cry on his shoulder – in fact, he desperately wanted him too. However, Daniel was determined to keep a strong face for his friend, after all this was his problem not theirs.

As Scott stood in the doorway trying to find a way to comfort Daniel, a darker voice echoed in the back of his mind: “‘…and if someone – ANYONE – tries to hurt him…’”

## Fiction: Mouseland (part 2)

Scott and Madix arrived at the bar at the same time. They had never met each other, but they felt an instant camaraderie. In fact, it quickly became apparent that they shared more than a sour mood – particularly when a certain blonde haired girl in a green shirt strode into their hole-in-the-wall completely oblivious to their presence.

However, they weren’t the only ones to see her enter. A dark haired boy about Daniel’s height with light brown skin and a bright replica soccer jersey sat alone at the table next to theirs staring at her with a mix of bitterness and lust.

“Hehe, okay, blondie, come to papi.”

“That can be arranged,” Scott said pulling up a chair next to him as if they’d been friends for years. “She is single…broke up with her boyfriend just this afternoon. It’s tragic really…”

“But not for you…” Madix continued taking the seat across from his ginger-headed cohort. “No, this is an opportunity – YOUR opportunity – and we’re more than happy to help you achieve it.”

“After all, we LOVE helping people. It’s what we do…”

“I know,” Michael said. “He seemed almost disappointed about not getting to cook anything for us.”

“Well, it sounds like you’re lucky to have him. I wish MY roommate would offer to cook meals for me.”

“Oh, I’m sure that could be arranged…”

“Heck,” she continued barely hearing her younger brother’s comment. “Regardless of how good or bad he cooks, it would be still cheaper than eating here AND we’d probably be getting better service.”

“You don’t know the half of it. Excuse me, waiter? Damn. Excuse me, could we? Fuck. What the hell do we have to do to get another glass of water around here?”

“I don’t know, but it’ll probably cost more than you’ve more than you’ve got on you.”

“Yes, Carlos,” Scott said. “If you want to succeed, you have to picture in your mind what success looks like.”

“Just close your eyes, relax and picture yourself alone on a deserted beach with her as the sun sets behind you.”

“Breathe deeply. Focus.”

“Imagine her luscious breasts hanging in front of you like low hanging fruit. They’re so tantalizing you want to touch them.”

Carlos lifts his hands off the table as if trying to grab them, and Madix takes a piece of peeling plastic from the side of the table, pulls it back slightly and releases it with a SNAP causing their friend to wince in pain even though it was nowhere close to hitting him.

“We said you ‘WANT to touch them’ not you could. Do you want to continue this exercise or not?”

“…Yes, sirs…”

“Then you need to dig deeper and focus harder on your objective!”

“Ignore everything else around you except the sound of our voices. We will guide you to your objective…”

Michael didn’t see the man at the end of the bar with the grey shirt. Hell, he could barely see his own waiter, so it didn’t come as a surprise that he didn’t see the man vanish into thin air either.

Except he didn’t “vanish,” he stood in the corner of the bar near the kitchen as if waiting to use the nearby restrooms. Then a young man in a black waiter’s uniform brushed past him, and he grabbed his arm.

“Who’s serving that table over there,” he said before his captive could protest, “the one by the window?”

“I don’t know,” the server said irritably. “And I don’t care either.”

Suddenly, the mysterious man holds his hand in front of the server’s face and quickly snaps his fingers just out of his peripheral vision.

“Who’s serving that table over there?”

“I…am…sir,” he said flatly.

“Much better, now get to work. You’ve got customers to serve, oh,” he said with a devious smile, “and one more thing…”

All Claire wanted was a few drinks to help her forget her day. Unfortunately, all her friends wanted to do was ask her about Daniel, and, as much as she hated lying to her friends, there was no way she could answer their questions honestly without giving away his “secret” (and thus implying that she was somehow complicit in it).

“Look, I need…I don’t know what I need just something…different – something he can’t give me. Does that make any sense to you?”

“Everyone needs to finds themselves at some point, I guess now it’s your turn.”

“You really think so?”

“Yes, go out, explore the world, meet new people and eventually you’ll find exactly what you were looking for…”

“Sure,” she said skeptically. “Like the perfect guy for me is just going to come striding in out of nowhere and offer me a drink…”

“Water,” Will asked holding a pitcher in his hands.

“Yes please,” Rachel said, and he dutifully refills both glasses.

It might have been his imagination, but Michael thought for sure his server was slowly spelling out “MIC…” as he refilled his glass.

“Did you say something?”

“No,” said continuing his song under his breath. “You… real… soon…”

“I thought for sure I heard you say something. Ah, never mind, thank you.”

Carlos steels his nerves as he approaches the front of the bar and walks up to Claire who’s leaning against the counter talking to some friends.

“Hi, can I get you a drink?”

“Get lost, pig.”

He turns around dejectedly and after three steps nearly collides into his new friends.

“Well,” Madix said. “That didn’t go well, did it?”

“Fortunately, Carlos is a strong boy, a resilient boy and most importantly Carlos is a GOOD boy…”

“Carlos…is…a…good…boy…”

“Yes, he is,” Scott said patting his shoulder reassuringly. “And good boys like you ALWAYS have a ‘Plan B.’ Don’t they, Carlos?”

“This isn’t the first time you’ve been rejected by a member of the ‘fairer sex,’ is it?”

“No…sir…”

“Well,” Scott said. “As my father likes to say ‘anyone who rejects you, isn’t worthy of your time anyway.’ Would you agree with that?”

“Yes…sir…”

“Maybe, you should consider switching sides. You’ve always gotten along better with boys anyway, haven’t you?”

He thinks for a moment and then slowly says “yes” as if a light just went off in his head.

“That was the problem all along, you were gay – and always have been – you just never wanted to ADMIT it until just now.”

“Yes…I was always gay…couldn’t admit it until now…”

“And in fact, you love us, don’t you? It’s okay, you know we will never harm you just as we know you will never harm us, would you?”

“NEVER…sir,” he replied as if that was the dumbest question he’d ever heard.

“In fact, you want to make us HAPPY, don’t you?”

“YES,” he said deliriously.

“It’s all you want. It’s what you dream about at night…”

“And the first thing you think about when you wake up, and you would do anything in the entire world to achieve that, wouldn’t you?”

“Absolutely anything,” he beamed. “Because, Carlos is a good boy…”

“Yes,” Madix said kissing him on top of the head causing him to blush embarrassedly. “Yes, he is…and we love him to death…”

Now…it’s…time…to…say…goodbye,” Will sang picking up Michael’s check and taking it over to the register.

To… all… our… company… That leaves us with two choices: you can go back to being the snooty server ignoring his customers…or…you can continue serving me. Remember, Will is good boy.”

“Will…wants…to…serve…you…sir.”

“See, I knew you’d make the right decision. Good boys ALWAYS do. Now… go deliver their change. I’ve got other plans for you…”

“Good evening, Claire,” a vaguely familiar voice said as she approached her car.

“Who are you, and what are you doing out here?”

“Just getting a little air, that bar was getting a little stuffy.”

He took a step towards her, and she instinctively took one backwards only to collide into a second person standing immediately behind her.

She tries to scream, but a hand comes up from behind her and covers her mouth. Suddenly, she felt a sharp, pressure across the front of her neck and she fell instantly to the ground.

“He’s my friend,” he said crouching down and lifting her barely conscious head up by the hair. “‘…And ANYONE who tries to hurt him…’ Well, I think you can guess the rest…” he said letting her head fall back onto the ground.

“Good-bye, Ms. Parson. You were nothing more than a nuisance anyway. A cute nuisance, but still a nuisance.”

He takes her keys and throws them to his accomplice, “The blue Honda Civic on the corner, I think you know what to do with it.”

“Yes…sir…”

Michael came back from dropping his sister off at her hotel to find his followers sitting on the sofa in the same matching Mickey Mouse T-shirts they were wearing when he left.

“You’re not going to believe this,” he said excitedly. “My sister was scheduled to go to Disney World next week with her friends… but they dropped out and she doesn’t want to go alone so she offered to let me and two friends stay in her villa for five days. Isn’t that awesome?”

“That’s very generous of her, master.”

“Now the only problem is finding two people worthy of going with me – and, of course, the ONLY option I could come up was the two of you.”

“If you wish, master,” Madix said. “After all, we are very grateful for any opportunity to please you – regardless of where it is…”

“Wow,” Scott said. “You’re looking resilient for someone who just lost his girlfriend. What are you doing up so late anyway?”

“Brendan wasn’t happy with the photos from today’s project so I’m planning another one for tom…,” he looks at his watch and continues, “well, today actually. You can join me if you want, I’ll need someone to take photos anyway. Besides, as my mom always said: ‘any girl who would dump you wasn’t worthy of your time anyway.’”

“A wise woman, she and my dad would probably get along. Well, anyway, I’m going to bed. If you need anything – ANYTHING at all – just let me know. You know where to find me, good night, Daniel.”

“Good Night, Scott,” he said with a tired smile. “You’re a good friend…”

“Thank you,” he said blushing. “You have no idea what that means to me…”

One week later, the three of them arrive at their resort. Michael had given instructions on how they were not to make his meals (as they “came with the room”), address him as “master” or act in an obviously subservient manner. In fact, when they got to the room, the first thing he did was dismiss his “friends” for the afternoon and laid down for a nap.

“Well, they certainly didn’t skimp on the pool,” Madix said. “God, it’s huge…”

“And crowded too, where are we going to put our stuff down? I don’t see a single open chair.”

“You can use mine,” a bespectacled young man said approaching them. He looks Matthew in the eyes and suddenly his own went blank. “My name is Dave…and I serve Master Brendan…My parents don’t know … but my brother does… I’ll move my stuff onto his chair…”

“Ahem,” Madix said. “I’m here too.”

“He can’t see or hear you in this state,” Matthew said flatly. “But I can introduce you if you want…”

He turns the mousy haired boy towards Madix and as he does so the young blonde is momentarily blinded by a bright flash of light. He then stares blankly into Dave’s eyes transfixed by the image of the sunlight dancing on the water reflecting off the window behind him directly onto Dave’s glasses.

“The light,” Madix said, his voice getting slower and flatter as he talked. “…It’s so beautiful…how it shimmers…moving with the waves…”

Matthew slowly raises his fingers up and quickly snaps them just out of Madix’s peripheral vision causing his head to fall limply onto his friend’s shoulder.

He kisses the top of the boy’s head and whispers: “Madix is a good boy, and always will be. Now open your eyes and meet Dave…”

“Well, that was a fun trip, wasn’t it,” Michael said as they exited the elevator.

“Yes, it was very nice of your sister to pay for it for us.”

“I know, she’s full of surprises, but at least we don’t have to worry about any more of those happening any time soon. Could you get the door for me? My hands are full.”

“Yes, master,” Matthew said.

He opened the door, and he and Madix came in to find Carlos and Will sitting patiently on the sofa, their faces lighting up when they recognized their respective masters.

“Welcome home, sir,” they said simultaneously…

## Fiction: Children of Wax: Part 1

“The hottest day of the year,” Wes said. “And, of course, the A/C decides to give out. I swear, by the end of the day, we won’t have a museum – we’ll have a giant pool of wax. I don’t want to be the one who has to clean that up.”

“Neither do I,” Jake replied drolly. “Did you ever hear back from that college you applied to?”

“WE applied to, and, yes, I’ve got the envelope in my bag…I can open it now. I’m sensing good news.”

“Let’s hope so.”

“‘Dear applicant,’” he began as Jake cringed. “Must be one of those ‘form letters’ I keep hearing about… ‘Thank you for your interest in our school. We re…gret t-to in…form you that…’”

“It’s okay,” Jake said putting his hand on his fiancé’s shoulder reassuringly.

“No,” he said rebuffing said hand. “It’s not. We were supposed to go t-together, and now… and now, we can’t. Just go. Check the galleries, make s-sure nothings melted yet…”

Jake Norway went through the galleries (normally Wes’ job) straightening wigs and repositioning dummies. He knew his fiancé would tell him they “looked sad” for some reason, but he’s been working there long enough to know that was usually the result of either a slid wig, misaligned eye…or the viewer’s imagination (like Wes with his silly paranormal “reality” shows).

As he was evaluating the Appalachia scene (the one directly behind Rodney’s), he heard the restroom door slam loudly. Fine, nothing strange about that, he’d be out in a minute or so…but he wasn’t. However, he did hear an unfamiliar voice shout his name from that general area – despite the fact that the museum hadn’t actually opened yet. Spooky, but more than likely just his imagination…

He got into the gallery where Daniel was and heard his name called again, but in a much louder, more urgent voice. He then, having finished his tour, checked the restroom next to the curator’s office to see an unconscious Wes sprawled on the floor holding a pocket knife in his hands as blood spurted from his wrists…

Oh right, he pulled his cell phone out and frantically dialed 9-11, hoping it wasn’t too late…

While the doctors were still treating Wes, Jake returned to work the next day to find that his replacements had set up a bunch of fans in the museum (even though fans do not actually “cool” air, they just move it around). There was a large, relatively new oscillating fan in the lobby and several older, smaller fans set up in the individual galleries plugged in the loose, aging outlets.

“Idiots,” he said seeing the ragged extension cords (that looked like the rats had been chewing on them) duct taped to the floor. This was an obvious fire hazard, but he couldn’t leave to replace them as he was the only one working there that day. He probably didn’t want to see the job they did cleaning up the restroom.

He continued his inspection, noting that he thought some of the figures in the first room seemed worried. “Happy,” “sad,” or “angry” were common interpretations, but “worry” was new to him. Bah, he was probably just projecting his own feelings on some lifeless pile of wax.

He goes back to the lobby and checks his e-mail to find an ominous looking message from the park owner…

Wes woke up sometime later to find himself standing rigid and immobile on a small platform in the museum lobby across from where Jacob and some other dude was sitting. Was that Kenny from the go-kart track or Brice from the putt-putt course or…it didn’t matter, he was probably dead anyway.

Then he realized, the reason he was awake now – the ring on his left hand was gone, and he just saw the smug little shit (no older than Rodney or Sara) leave the museum with his mom. That bastard was definitely going to pay for that, and as much as the others tried to dissuade him, he decided to follow him around the 3rd rate park – making damn sure the punk thief saw him.

Finally around 11pm, as said thief was playing an online game, his system suddenly shuts off and he could see the reflection of a certain red-haired boy lying on his bed in the black monitor holding the power cord in his left hand.

“You know what I want. You may as well give it to me – call it an even exchange.”

“Absolutely not,” the boy shouted. “This PC cost my parents $8500, this ring will pawn for less than$200.”

“It’s not about money, my fiancé saved up for months on a part-time minimum wage to buy this ring for me. Frankly, you can’t put a price on love.”

“Damned straight…err, not straight. Augh, it doesn’t matter, boy knows a good thing when he sees it.”

“I don’t care about you. I want my power cord back. NOW!”

“Phillip Ryan Thatcher,” his mother said sharply as she entered the room. “What the hell are you carrying on about? Your father and I are trying to sleep. Now go to bed before I bring your father in here.”

“Go on, tell her. It’ll be fun.”

“No,” Phillip said (to Wes).

“Don’t talk back to me, young man. You do not want your father up here.”

Suddenly, there was a noise of loud footsteps on the stairs.

“That’s it,” she continued. “You’re really in trouble now…”

The footsteps stop a few feet from the boy’s door, but neither of him nor his mother saw anyone come in leaving both vaguely unsettled.

“George,” Phillip’s mom blurted as he (unbeknownst to her) stepped into the doorway.

“Dang it,” the fair skinned boy with shaggy brown hair and a dirty grey uniform shouted in his thick Southern accent. “For the last time, my name isn’t… you can see me?

“Um, yeah, and your little thief here can see me so you may as well tell me.”

“I am not a thief.”

“What was that,” his mom asked sharply.

“My name isn’t ‘George.’ It’s Jonah.”

“George? Jonah? They are kinda close.”

“Jonah,” Phillip asked. “I like it.”

“We were half-right,” his mother added.

“Not the point, the point is your antics woke everyone up.”

“HIS antics,” Wes said pointing to his left. “He’s the one who stole my engagement ring off my finger. Wants to pawn it for \$200.”

“I did not ‘steal’ anything. He’s a fucking mannequin. What the fuck does he need an ‘engagement ring’ for anyway?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Jonah said. “You can bet that if someone stole one of my possessions that I’d be mad too.”

“You’d better not have!”

“Like I care what some 60-year-old thinks.”

“Six-TEEN!! I’m SIXTEEN not 60. Stop making me older than I am.”

“TEEN,” Wes said. “He’s three years older than you are.”

“He’s sixteen? I thought he was supposed to be some grizzled old vet.”

“Don’t you dare mock his service.”

“I did not ‘mock’ his service.”

“His uniform is grey, but his hair is dark brown. Give it a good cutting, and he’d look damned sexy. Don’t worry, kid, as you’ve probably heard by now, I’m already engaged…”

“Who are you talking to,” Phillip’s mother said. “I said nothing about his service. I swear boy, I love you, but you’re starting to worry me here.”

“You mean like this kinda service,” Jonah said closing the boy’s dresser drawer loudly and tossing the ring to Wes who catches it making them both visible for a moment.

“Thanks, Jonah,” he said sliding it onto his finger. He turns to Phillip’s mother, bowed and continued: “Sorry for the interruption, Ma’am. Oh, and Jonah…”

“Hi,” he said waving awkwardly as he realized they could see him, but, for the life – err, afterlife – of him he couldn’t think of a single thing to say after that. Thankfully, he didn’t need to as Wes continued:

“You’re more than welcome to visit me in the park if you need me.”

And with that, Wes disappeared triumphantly followed shortly by a slightly embarrassed Jonah who quietly shut the door behind them passing Phillip’s father on the stairs…

Several days later, Wes stood guard as his former colleagues sat down for their weekly staff meeting. The first item on the docket (which his former fiancé had no interest in entertaining) was “strange occurrences” around the museum/park.

“Well,” Jacob said skeptically. “There’s only one fair way to settle this. We need to bring in fair, impartial outside observers.”

“You mean like those paranormal investigators I saw on TV,” Kenny asked (didn’t he work rides?).

“I was thinking more along the lines of scientific investigators…”

“Oh, come on,” Brice said (the mini golf course wasn’t good enough for him?). “It would create buzz for the park – plus, wasn’t Wes a huge fan of that show?”

“Um, yeah,” Kenny chimed. “It’ll be a fitting tribute. You should totally call them after the meeting.”

“Fine,” Jacob sighed as he looked up and thought he saw Wes’s statue smiling at him cheesily. “Compile a list of anything suspicious or ‘paranormal’ that you think the so-called ‘ghosts’ did around the museum and/or park and I’ll present it to them IF they come.”

As the TAPS team entered the aging amusement park, a young employee with caramel skin handed Dave Tango a map, imploring him to “enjoy his stay.”

“Hey, thanks.”

“Hey, Dave,” Steve Gonsalves asked. “Who are you talking to back there?”

“The employee over there, the one who gave me this map.”

“What ‘employee,’ the park is closed today?”

He motions to where the young man was standing, “what the..? He was JUST here a moment ago.”

“Your imagination is acting up on you again, Dave.”

“Then where’d I get this map from,” he said showing it him. Steve grabs it from it his hands impatiently.

“Hey, wait, there’s two here,” he said handing the one back to Tango before opening his own to find a large drawing of a spider tucked into the inside of the brochure with the word “Boo” written below it.

“Nothing, Jay.”

“Good, catch up, we’re trying to find this ‘museum’ place.”

“My map says it should be around the corner to the right.”

“When did you get a map,” Co-founder Grant Wilson asked. “We didn’t get a map. Did we, Jay?”

“Oh come on, I couldn’t possibly be the only person to see him standing there!”

“So, around this way… and to the right,” Jay said ignoring Tango’s outburst. “Looks like some kind of food court and…it should be right…around…THERE! Looks like your map was right, Tango.”

“Um, thanks, Jay.”

“Let’s get inside,” he said opening the door and practically pushing them inside. “You two can go first.”

“Yeah,” Grant agreed half-jokingly. “Keep you two from causing any more trouble.”

“Um, guys,” Tango said peering into the main gallery. “This is him.”

“What?”

“The kid I saw at the entrance.”

“Oh, yeah,” Jacob said. “That reminds me of something I was going to tell you anyway. He was one of our last arrivals, and I still remember the first thing Wes said when we unboxed him was ‘doesn’t he look like he should be standing at the gate-’”

“‘…Handing out maps,’” Tango continued holding up his for the group to see. None of them noticing the boy in question smiling subtly (…except the cameraman who happened to pan up during the exchange).

“Um, yes,” Jacob said awkwardly. “He then insisted on leaving a pen and notebook in the room while we went out to the floor. When we came back, there was writing in it. No clue how it got there, but it wasn’t any of our handwritings.”

“Interesting…,” Jay said.

“Wait, do you still have this notebook,” Grant asked.

“In the desk drawer, I can get it if you want.”

“Please do,” Jay said. “It would be a great help.”

“Do you mind if we take it with us,” Grant asked.

“Why,” Jacob asked. “It’s only two pages.”

“Still. Anything you could give us would be a big help towards our investigation.”

“Whatever, you can have it. Now, if you follow me, I’ll introduce you to them personally. This is the main gallery, the expansive Virginia Beach scene on the left, the manor house scene on the right and the models from both of these scenes are in the notebook.”

“What about the kid on the raft,” Jay asked of the relatively small endcap.

“Huck here is just a mannequin, but around the corner is our Appalachian scene leading into the Hollywood and Ole’ West dioramas.”

“So, anything reported back here,” Steve asked wondering if his cords would reach this far back.

“Nope, but the next room where our newest model, which was apparently part of some planned robotic display give some visitors ‘weird feelings,’ yet none of the reporters say they were ‘scared’ or ‘intimidated’ by it.”

“So, he’s not bothering anyone,” Jay asked.

“No, but if you follow me,” Jacob said leading them through the archway to the lobby. “I can show you the rest of the park…”

## Fiction: Children of Wax: Part 2

Later, as the two lead investigators entered the main gallery, there was a loud knock on the museum door.

“DA FRICK,” Wes shouted.

“Hey, that’s MY line,” Grant shouted back.

“You two,” Wes said pointing to the two younger spirits. “Keep them busy. I’ll see what they want.”

“Right,” they said smiling mischievously.

“‘Keep them busy,’” Grant said testily. “What are we five?”

“Well,” Jay conceded. “At least, we know how many we’re dealing with now.”

“Oh,” Wes said pointing to the older boy. “…And make sure they don’t follow me.”

“Yessir,” he said pounding “Shave & a Haircut” onto the wall behind him as Wes left and the other two pounded their response simultaneously on each side of the wide doorway on the opposite side of the room.

“Actually,” Jay said moderately impressed. “That’s not bad… but can you do it again?”

“Jonah,” Wes asked incredulously. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“You said ‘if I ever needed anything’…”

“I didn’t mean TONIGHT! Can’t you see we’ve got a film crew here?”

“I didn’t choose to have my house burn down, and I sure as hell didn’t make my way all the way out here just to go back and haunt some ruined shell.”

“Okay, fine, just calm down, and I’ll see what I can do for you doing the scene change. Just stay there, and don’t interfere with production – that’s MY job. So, yeah, just – just stay there and I’ll be back shortly. Okay?”

“Okay…I guess.”

“Good, I shouldn’t be long in there. I promise.”

“Hey, Jay,” Steve said into his radio.

“Yeah, Steve”

“Is everything all right where you are? We thought we heard arguing near your location.”

“Possible, we had some knocking outside the building a while ago. Could you two come by and do a perimeter check?”

“Um, sure, no problem”

Meanwhile, Wes comes back inside and signals to the older boy to come over: “Just him,” he whispers. “You two keep going.”

The blonde headed boy approached Wes, pulling on the back of Grant’s jacket as he passed.

“What the…someone just pulled on my jacket. If that was you, could you give me another sign of your presence – like pulling on mine or Jay’s clothes?”

“We got a kid outside,” Wes explained. “…But I don’t want to distract too much from your fun here.”

“Gah,” Grant said as Riley tried to pants him. “I said ‘pull ON’ not ‘DOWN.’”

“They must really like you, Grant,” Jay quipped as he and their cameramen laughed.

“Great, you’ve had your fun at MY expense. Now can you try pulling on JAY’s clothes?”

“I just want to get him into the storeroom without being seen or heard. The problem is: I’m probably going to need your help to do it…”

“Hey, there you are,” Tango said entering the museum.

“We finished the tour of the perimeter,” Steve continued. “…And there was nothing unusual there.”

“We’ll check the tapes later,” Jay said. “Now you two go change the digis, and we’ll go check out the ‘Midway’ area.”

“Good,” Wes said as they left. “Now’s our chance. Get in here now, you should be safe here in case they co…”

“Who’s that,” Jonah asked pointing to a broken mannequin (non-human) in the corner.

“Unlike these two here,” Wes said nodding towards Riley and Sara. “He doesn’t have an ‘official’ name, but I always called him ‘Johnny Reb’ since he was in our Southern scene.”

“Works for me…”

“He does kinda look like you,” Riley said tilting his head slightly.

“Well,” Wes said. “That was easier than I thought… and, now, if only we had room for him somewhere…”

“How about that slot across from Daniel,” Sara asked. “He always looks so lonely over there by himself.”

“I always kinda felt bad for him,” Riley added. “As he’s essentially left out of everything.”

“I guess it’s settled then,” Wes said. “Assuming we can find an extra outfit back here…”

“Hey, guys,” Jay said into his radio. “It’s about that time. Time to wrap up and get some sleep.”

So, while the two Lead Investigators were off collecting digis, Tango and Kris Williams were off working in the now brightly lit museum.

“I know it’s gonna sound weird,” Tango said handing her a coil of wire he’d stripped off the otherwise pristine floor.

“I know,” she said with a cheeky smile as their cameraman laughed. “And, that’s why you love you.”

“Not me, I mean this room. It’s, um, different. I’m not sure how, but something seems a bit… off he…AUGH!”

“What?”

“I swear someone just tapped me on the shoul… hmm,” he said turning around quickly. “Wait…when did he – err, it – get here?”

“You mean he wasn’t there on your tour?”

“Um, no.”

“Are you sure? It’s not like he could just walk out here on his own.”

“Yes, I’m ‘sure.’ It definitely was-”

“What’s going on in here,” Grant asked entering the back gallery. “I’m not going to have to separate you two, am I?”

“Oh, thank God you’re here. We have a question for you…”

“So,” Jacob asked skeptically as he sat down next to the small monitor the producers set up for them. “Find anything ‘paranormal?’”

“Well,” Jay said. “We’ve actually found a few things. Almost all of it here, the rest of the park was absolutely quiet.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, we can show it to you now, get your opinion on it. Maybe you know something we don’t.”

“Possibly.”

“Anyway,” Grant said. “This is a video of Jay and I exploring this gallery over here.”

They play the footage of them entering the gallery and a loud knocking on the door which startles both of them.

“See if you recognize this voice.” Jay said. “He clearly was expecting that as much as we were.”

“DA FRICK” Wes shouted.

“I should. He was my fiancé, and a huge fan of yours I might add.”

“Um, thanks, I guess. Wait, did you say ‘fiancé,’” Grant asked.

“Yep, and he’s standing right behind your little monitor.”

“You mean like he was real – not a mannequin – a REAL person?”

“Yep, as were Riley, Sara, Rodney and Chad.”

“So, you know their names then,” Jay said.

“I should. I work here…”

“Hey, that’s MY line,” Grant shouted as Jay resumed the tape

“You two,” Wes shouted.

“That would probably be Riley and Sara, they are the two newest additions. One of your colleagues claims to have met him on the way into the park.”

“Right, Dave Tango, yes,” Jay said resuming the tape. “Good memory.”

“Keep them busy,” Wes continued.

“‘Keep them busy,’” Grant said testily. “What are we five?”

“At least,” Jay conceded. “We know how many we’re dealing with here.”

“…And keep them from following me.”

“That would probably be Chad, the blonde kid dressed as the lifeguard. He’s the oldest one here at 19, and the default ‘protector’ of the younger ones.”

“Yeah,” Jay nodded. “That makes sense. The rest of this doesn’t, so we’ll skip it for now, and move onto the next clip…”

“What the…someone just pulled on my jacket. If that was you, could you give me another sign of your presence – like pulling on mine or Jay’s clothes?”

“Gah,” Grant continued as some unseen force tried to pants him. “I said ‘pull ON’ not ‘DOWN.’”

“Any ideas who could have done that,” Jay asked.

“Not really. However, since that notebook I showed you was presumably written by Riley, I’d say he was the most likely culprit.”

“They must really like you, Grant,” Jay quipped as he and their cameramen laughed.

“Great, you’ve had your fun at MY expense. Now can you try pulling on JAY’s clothes?”

“Of course not,” Jacob said. “It was a distraction. Not sure from what, but they clearly didn’t want you interfering with it.”

“We have ONE idea,” Jay said getting up, signaling his camera guy over and heading over to the back gallery. “Not sure how we could have missed it, but this figure definitely wasn’t there when we started this investigation.”

“Sure, as heck wasn’t MY doing. I’d never let a model out on the floor with an outfit like that…”

“So, what does that mean,” Jacob asked as they sat back down at the folding table the producers set up for them in the lobby. “Is the park ‘haunted’ or not?”

“I can’t speak for the rest of the park,” Grant said conciliatorily.

“But,” Jay continued. “We think this museum area is defin…”

“Nurse! NURSE,” Jake shouted as Wes slowly opened his eyes to find himself in a hospital room. “Come quickly. He’s moving. He’s opened his eyes.”

“Augh.”

“Shush, you’ll be alright. The doctor said you were lucky, you should have lost twice the amount of blood you did.”

“Dan…yule…”

“Daniel? The robo-”

“Actually, he hates that word… anyway, he slammed the door when he realized what I was… doing, s-sorry…”

“It’s okay. Don’t try to talk.”

“…And immediately starting shouting… your name and then talking to me… holding my arms tightly to prevent… b- blood from coming out until… you got to the door… What happened to him… anyway?”

“Well, you see, it’s a bit complicated.”

“Really?”

“Yes. You see, the park was sold to some outside developer who plans on demolishing it to build ‘vacation condos’ along the lake.”

“What?”

“Sorry, I haven’t even gotten to the ‘strange’ part – or parts – yet…”

“Heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure are all normal. I’ll alert the doctor of the news.”

“Thank you, Phillip,” Jake said. “As I was saying, the strange part – the first part of it anyway – was that someone moved the broken ‘Johnny’ fr…”

“Jonah.”

“YOU gave him that name.”

“I’ve since been corrected.”

“Anyway, the ‘model,’ as you call them, was moved back on the floor for whatever reason. No clue why, it just was. The second and arguably more important is that since they couldn’t fix the A/C, they plugged in fans all over the gallery.”

“But… fans just move air around.”

“Exactly, and since they were as old as the wiring here…”

“What,” he asked with a weak laugh. “The building caught fire or something?”

“Yes,” he said annoyed at having his story stolen from him. “…But, when the firefighters arrived, they found five fully intact figures on a bench outside the building.”

“Five?”

“Yes, five – Chad, Joh- sorry ‘Jonah,’ Riley, Rodney and Sara –”

“Um, yeah, I was getting to that…”

Two weeks later, Joey and company enter the third-rate theme park in the middle of nowhere. Near the entrance, they saw a blonde-headed boy stocking maps in various languages for what was probably the last time. When he saw them, he sighed, took three off the top of his box and handed them to the trio.

“Sorry to bother you,” Joey said. “My name is Joey Westin, and I’m looking for my brother. I’m told we was in one of your attractions.”

“A lot of people work on rides here,” Jake said.

“Actually, I said ‘IN one of your attractions.’ I know it’s gonna sound ‘weird,’ but he was my hero and I’ve been trying to find him since he was, um-”

“Robo-OW,” Jimmy said.

“What did I tell you about using that word?”

“Sorry.”

“Anyway, his name is – or was – Daniel, and I was going to say broke his leg…”

“You don’t mean Daniel the, um… animatronic from our museum?”

“Possibly. Last I heard from him, he had just failed his qualification exam for the fire department for not rescuing enough ‘dummies’ from their simulated fire. So, anyway, if you can tell me where he is…”

“I’d love to,” Jake said closing his box. “But, the museum burned down two weeks ago. There were no ‘humans’ inside – living ones anyway – but the fire department said when they went inside there was a boy dressed as one of them who apparently said, ‘THIS time, I did get all of them,’ before disappearing in a ‘column of light.’”

“Trust me,” Andrew said. “We’re more than familiar with that column.”

“…Or, at least, HE is.”

“So,” Joey said. “If you could tell me where he is, that would be a great help to us.”

“You see, when they pushed into the building, they found a charred body blocking the back entry to our main gallery. The second one of them touched him, he fell apart. I-I’m sorry…”

“Thank you anyway,” Joey said turning away disappointedly.

“Wait,” Jake called. “He was a hero. He saved my fiancé’s life, and all of the known ‘human’ figures in the museum.

“Oh, and I know it’s not much,” he continued, reaching into his pocket and handing Joey a shiny golden badge. “…But they found this is in what little remained of him…”

Joey pins the badge on his shirt, and his body starts glowing faintly. He looks up, smiles and says: “Thanks, Danny, but I’m nowhere near done yet…”

## Commentary: What not to post

Some site called “Thrillist” posted a story this morning titled: Things no self-respecting adult should be doing on Facebook.

Posting “chain” statuses – I don’t give a fuck how badly “Tweety\Tinkerbell\Random Fucking Butterfly wants to fly,” I’m not sharing your stupid schmaltzy graphic. Same goes for “I want to see this photo of my kid holding a(n) Autism\Cerebral Palsy\Childhood Leukemia awareness sign on EVERY wall on Facebook” or pretty much any other picture that tells me to “Hit LIKE and SHARE if you agree. :D”

Being an annoyingly over-enthusiastic, semi-delusional sports fan – GOOOOOO C-A-N-E-S cuz we’re #1 and it’s ALL about The ||_||

Posting pictures and/or bragging about drinking/drug use – Father was a RAGING alcoholic so I learned THAT lesson pretty early on (and then was forced into rehab which never believed I never drank anything and thus I was labeled as a “liar\in denial” for the length of my stay)

… and then apologizing for it the next day – I NEVER got an apology for the awful things dad did when he was drunk (as it was always – ALWAYS – MY fault). Other people prescribe to the same philosophy as my likes to say “no-one mistreats you for ‘no reason’ – you obviously GAVE them a reason otherwise they wouldn’t have acted like that! Gah, grow up and take some responsibility for YOUR actions!”

Sending multiple invites to your art show/improv show/band’s gig – Did I mention I have a FB page for this blog? Facebook.com/lifeintheuncannyvalley

Treating your profile like your personal blog – Soo yeah, they want me to log onto WordPress and write a 10-15 word post? I have tried turning “overly long” FB posts into blog posts before, and it never works.

Friending people you don’t actually know – One of the things I took away from my disasterous Chicago trip is we don’t “actually know” ANYONE.

Sending out a million invites to Farmville – But Zynga said if I post it on my wall, my friends WILL help me out. They didn’t. They don’t. They never fucking will. That’s one of the reasons I quit my FB\mobile gaming blog.

Bragging excessively\Bragging Humbly – This is blog “will NEVER have any fuking followers, ur a pethatic LOSER and no-one will tek ur fuking joke of a blog srsly!”

Posting cryptic messages or lyrics that nobody gets – I hate having to guess what people are posting about just for them to say “oh no, nuthin lik that I was listening to music while I was on FB lolz”

Selfies, of any variety – Not on THIS blog. I’ve seen how mine come out, and you don’t want to.

Going on rambling, incoherent political rants – I USED to post stuff like that here (and considered starting a spin-off blog for that kind of material), but I realized that’s not the point of this blog. If I ever figure out what the point of this blog IS, I’ll let you know.

Talking bad about your job (past or present) – The ONLY outside jobs I ever had was a 30-day stint at McDonalds, sweeping floors at Benchmark Young Adult School and a freelance gig at The Miami Hurricane. Literally, every other job I had was self-employed.

Posting cheesy motivational statuses/pictures – Fuck you. That’s the reason I created this blog’s Facebook page in the first place.

Giving a shit about relationship statuses – Nope, but people REALLY hate when you assume they’re still married to their ex. They also hate that you know their “relationship status” at all – even though they’re the ones posting about it.

Desperately begging for someone to hang out with you – That was how I got to Chicago, and I think I mentioned how well THAT went. Now if people want to hang out with me (ha), they can do so. If not, their loss.

Annoyingly self-promoting – Did I mention I have a FB page for this blog? Facebook.com/lifeintheuncannyvalley

Blocking your relatives – Believe me after what happened at Bay Lake Towers (and the resulting fallout from it), I strongly considered it, but then only proving THEIR point. They are more than free to “block” me, I don’t gaf.

Oversharing – I can’t stand “wow, look at this steak I made for dinner” posts or when people get into overly detailed posts about their sex lives as I really don’t need to read that.

A couple things they forgot:

Clickbait – It seems like every page I subscribe to is loaded with headlines like: “This picture looks normal, but look closer!” “Everything seemed normal until the doctor found THIS – MY HEART JUST BROKE!” and “They didn’t suspect anything unusual until THIS happened – SHOCKING!

Not to brag, but you won’t find shit like that on my page. Annoying demotivating memes and depressing cartoons? Yes. Clickbait? No.

Angry\Libelous posts – I’ve been the victim of quite a few of these – often because they are pissed off at something they did to me but are outright lying about it so that everyone can see what an asshole I allegedly was to them (correcting the record makes me look like an even bigger asshole, not correcting it only confirms it – it’s a lose-lose) or something that has absolutely NOTHING to do with me, but again  blamed on me anyway cuz I obviously and this is “karma” for that.

Basically, the lesson is: Don’t post anything on Facebook, don’t friend anyone, and delete your account.

## Editorial: On writing

I have been working on a story every day for almost a month now (I know, I’m “supposed” to finish writing a book in a month, but I’ve only got about 11 pages and no title). It’s missing some “world building” sections about rules and whatnot, but for the moment I think I have a good(ish) start.

I have three projects that are somewhere between half and 2/3 finished but no idea where I’m going with them (the endings I have… just the chapters leading up to them are missing). I considered turning part of one of those books into either a short story or a play (or both), but, unfortunately, I realized the rest of the story wouldn’t work as well on stage.

I have a few abandoned projects. I miss the one about the museum as I was having fun with it…until I realized my protagonist was an unlikable dick – and he was based on me (I interned at a museum when I was at UM). Maybe that’s why my fictional bf from that story is the protagonist in this month’s story… or maybe I just like writing idiots.

Whatever, I need to get back to work. I have photos to edit, and maybe when I’m done I’ll come up with a good idea for one of my stories…

## Random ramblings

I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking about this blog lately – particularly how many of my posts don’t seem to match my own stated theme.

For instance, while the shots of Disney landscapes are pretty and add substance to my claims of this being a “photography” blog, do they really belong here or should I find someplace else to post these shots and even then I still have to ask: just Disney, theme parks in general or would I post any kind of photos I want? Heck, I still remember my Photography professor at UM telling me in her pleasant English accent: “the best thing you could do for photography is to put your camera down and NEVER pick it up again.”

I’ve already decided that my political thoughts have no place here, but I’m not sure if I should spin them off into a separate blog or not – particularly since they have the “page views” to match their substance. Also, like the photo thing, I can’t find a clever name that wasn’t already taken… or, more aptly, a free one that I actually like. I also considered writing a weekly\biweekly column, but I don’t know of a single publication – including The News-Item – that would print unsolicited, unsubstantiated and largely uninformed drivel on a regular basis from someone who’s called nearly every presidential election wrong since 2000 (believe me, Dick Morris wasn’t the only one caught off guard by Obama’s reelection).

I also strongly considered “restarting” my FB\mobile gaming blog, but this time the hurdle is legal as that was created under the umbrella of Park\Mosher Media (just like my art\theatre blog) – a company I founded in 2011 after two years of unemployment but whose name expired in 2014. It was this (and a 13” snow storm in February of that year) that finally pushed me to move to Florida permanently. Ultimately, to borrow a term from the theme park industry, the blog is SBNO (Standing But Not Operational) and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future…

Do I continue posting those silly memes on Sunday? Probably not, but  should I delete the ones I’ve already posted? Should I post more about UM (it’s already one of my banner photos, even though said photo isn’t mine)? The aforementioned News-Item suspended their RSS feed a while back 😦 , but I still get news from Baltimore area blogs, should I post about that or just focus on events in Florida?

UPDATE: Yahoo has just announced that they will be closing their Games division in May. This site was the third leg of my coverage triad (the other two being Android and Facebook) for SSG. I do have some stories I’ve been working on on\off since January, but this news pretty much cements my decision not to restart that blog. (3/13/2016)

## Things I miss about Baltimore

Obviously, my recent trip back to Baltimore for the Maryland Film Festival didn’t go as well as I had hoped. It did remind me of some of the reasons I left Charm City so in that regard it wasn’t a total loss. However, for the sake of fairness, I’ve decided to compile a brief list of some of the things I miss about Baltimore.

• Walkability – I could walk from my apartment in Bolton Hill to movies/theatre in Station North or restaurants on Charles Street. Not to mention coffee shops at both ends of UB and Light Rail/Circulator to downtown/1st Mariner Arena – sorry, “Royal Farms Arena” – and a quick walk to Metro Subway to get to the zoo.
• Landmark Harbor East – Okay, so it was super expensive (like everything else in the neighborhood) and a pain to get to from Bolton Hill, but it was newer, cleaner and in far better condition than The Charles – plus they had a wider variety of indie/mainstream films (Orlando theaters only show mainstream movies).
• Station North – Sure the already sketchy area has lost some of its artistic cache when two of its biggest draws – Everyman and Single Carrot theatres – moved out (the former to downtown and the latter to Remington), but this area is constantly growing and changing from the Maryland Film Festival to Annex’s “Chicken Box” to the upcoming Motor House theatre complex and the energy that comes from having both MICA and the Baltimore School of Design as neighborhood anchors.
• Inner Harbor – Dining at Harborplace, coffee at the Barnes & Noble and movies at the Science Center – all without the crowds usually associated with downtown tourist traps. Okay, the National Aquarium is usually crazy but otherwise it’s pretty quiet…except immediately after an Orioles game.
• Entertainment/Events – Pick a weekend and there is bound to be SOMETHING going on there somewhere – from daytime events SoWeBo Arts Festival and Olde Tyme Christmas to nighttime entertainment like “Final Fridays” and “Constellation Thursdays.” It was my JOB to cover them – all of them…which was why I had no life.
• Connectivity – Like the first point on this list, Baltimore is easily assessable to other cities on the East Coast like D.C, NYC and Philadelphia via its convenient downtown Amtrak station. Going beyond the Eastern Seaboard? The city’s Light Rail line connects directly with BWI airport making getting into and out of the city a snap.