Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday with Michael

    It was a Thursday in which I decided to pay Michael Yarrington a long overdue visit.  I had stayed away for several years and was beginning to feel something akin to guilt over my absence.  Emotionally prepared for the destination, I set off down the twisting, winding road.


    The scenery along the way was familiar, similar to going home again.  Almost immediately I passed a dirt road with a devilish name.  Just a bit further on was an old cemetery of forgotten headstones.  Lots of recent memories swirled warmly around me at these sights, still so fresh in my mind.


    Suddenly, a concert stadium loomed ahead, like an ancient monument randomly placed in the middle of nowhere.  A reminder of a different time and place, making me blush from whispered words.  I hurried by the massive structure, with the echo of bubblegum pop music in my ears and the lingering taste of powdered doughnuts in my grinning mouth.


    A flume of dark smoke billowing from behind an impressive hill caught my eye.  I stopped for a second as four individuals reached the summit.  Not wanting to leer at the commencing romance amongst the destruction, I continued on with my Thursday excursion.


    For a moment I thought I missed a turn or was hopelessly lost, until I spotted a gazebo surrounded by neatly trimmed shrubbery.  The beautiful structure took me back to a flood of creativity, and then I saw the axe protruding from the gazebo's floor.  Its sharpness glinting in the sunlight reminded me of the editing I should have been doing instead of visiting Michael, but I had forsaken him long enough.  Editing words could wait.


    I reached a business district of sorts.  There stood an intimidating sanitarium, or a mental hospital.  The specific designation was a bit confusing.  To my right was a coffee shop, but I couldn't tell if it was long since abandoned.  The ghostly sound of alternative music drifted in the air combined with a flat clanking of a rusty bell.  The duality of the businesses hinted that I was drawing nearer to my destination, and the remains of a radio station confirmed it.


    A neon sign of call letters lay shattered on the ground.  Two brick walls were partially standing among piles upon piles of rubble.  I couldn't believe that this was all that was left of KSMY, but I knew Michael would know something about what happened.  I imagined him being quite devastated over his loss.


    Putting aside the shock and dismay over the tragic sight, I pushed on, soon finding myself in a sparsely populated residential area.  Four houses were situated close together, with last names clearly marked on signs.  Names that Michael had shared with me in a creative frenzy of answering machines, addiction, charcoal, and deceptive stability.  Names which predominately inspired this Thursday visit.


Richardson.  Wright.  Mitchell.  Foster. 


    Soon after passing the quartet of homes, I reached the end of the twisting, winding road and laid eyes on the house of Yarrington.  Two, maybe three stories high, with a forgotten look, it is an intimidating and slightly creepy dwelling, especially for one man.  I took a deep breath, walked up the crooked sidewalk, and rang the doorbell.  The door creaked open and I was greeted by severe disappointment, dressed only in a robe.


    "Oh, it's you."


    "Were you expecting someone else?"


    "The liquor lady," Michael answered and then rolled his bloodshot eyes, fully opening the door, "but since you're here."


    I stepped inside and paused as my eyes adjusted to the changing light.  A few low wattage bulbs gave off a murky illumination, casting the surroundings in a sepia tone hue.  Claustrophobic and depressing, the sight provided insight into Michael's current mental state.


    "Be it ever so humble..." Michael uttered with bored sarcasm as he shut out any remaining natural light.  "Let us retire to the kitchen.  It is the best room for friendly chit chat, plus I need a refill."  He clinked the ice in his empty glass and proceeded to lead the way.


    The kitchen seemed a bit brighter, possibly from the white appliances reflecting the low watts.  I took a seat as he refilled his glass with something brown, offering me water, which I accepted.  Being a gracious host, he brought our drinks to the table, along with a bottle for his refills, and for several minutes we sat in uncomfortable silence, sipping our respective drinks, until I just couldn't take it any longer.


    "How are things, Michael?"


    "I take it you've seen what's left of KSMY."


    His wry smile, plus dry delivery, equaled only one conclusion in my mind.  "What did you do?"


    "I blew it up," he answered with the same look and manner.  "Well, I only meant to burn it down, but Bernie forgot to disconnect the gas."


    "Where is Bernie?  Is he okay?"


    "Don't worry.  My ex-manager is fine and doing whatever the hell it is he does when he's not being my manager."  Michael poured himself another and rolled his eyes, "Probably off somewhere obsessively playing his Barry Manilow records over and over."


    The professional relationship between Michael Yarrington and Bernie Cartwright is a long and complicated affair.  Why Bernie has tolerated Michael's crap for all these years is beyond me, and probably something only they can understand.  Relieved to hear Bernie was okay, I asked the next logical question.




    "No one was listening anymore, so I was done," he shrugged his shoulders and downed his drink, "but enough about me.  How is your e-book serial doing?  I haven't noticed your name on any bestseller lists."


    This was Michael Yarrington in all his vicious glory.  He knew exactly how to casually plunge a verbal dagger and then give it a twist, but he also knew his words were driving the point home, this time.  I completely understood his feeling of being done and the temptation of tearing down all that was built, though I would never take it to such literal, physical extremes.


    "It's fine," I gave my pat answer and then used the moment to direct the conversation to the topic that inspired this visit.  "Speaking of my writing, I need to ask you a favor."


    "Of course you require something from me," Michael remarked as he refilled his drink.  "What can I possibly do for you now?"


    Purposely ignoring his passive aggressiveness, I expressed my desire, "I want your permission to write a novelization of P.I."


    "P.I.  Is that what the cool kids are calling it these days?"


    "That is what I'm calling it, because I'm not even sure if I can use the title since you borrowed it from a song."


    "That I did..."  For a moment his expression softened, undoubtedly lost in fond memories of the 79 episodes of his audio soap opera parody.  Then his current bored, sarcastic look returned with a vengeance, "Why ask for my permission to adapt P.I. when you freely bastardized it four years ago?"


    "Well, that short story was just for select family and friends," I explained my earlier transgression, "but now I want to reimagine the first season as a serial for my blog."


    He stared at me with inscrutable eyes.  Uncertain what his response would be, I attempted to alleviate any concerns by elaborating on a few of my ideas.  Michael needed to know that I wasn't planning to alter P.I. so much as to leave it unrecognizable. 


    "Write it."




    "Completely.  Maybe it's time for the world to meet David, Sara, Larry, and Buffy."


    "Don't forget Zack, because you know I can't resist writing emotionally damaged characters."


    A moment of silence seeped in as Michael Yarrington, nearly smiling, stared proudly into my soul, understanding my essence.  "Now, get out of here before I change my mind or before the liquor lady arrives.  Whichever comes first."


    We stood up and he escorted me through the dimness to the front door.  As I opened it, momentarily blinding us with sunlight, he stopped me.


    "John, if I were you, I would throw caution to the wind and call P.I. by its full name.  If someone raises a stink, it could draw attention to your other writings."


    I nodded, appreciating his input.  It reminded me of how he used to be.  A blitzkrieg in his personal and professional choices, and a steamroller should anyone get in his way.  Looking at the intoxicated, robe-clad man before me, I offered my own advice.


    "Michael, if I were you, I would look into podcasts."


    There it was.  A spark igniting a fire in his bloodshot eyes, burning through him.  He nodded and I took my leave.  As I walked down the crooked sidewalk, I imagined him on the phone with Bernie, apologizing for nearly blowing him up, and then plotting to resurrect KSMY with new technology.  


    Yes, Michael Yarrington would be back to his typical arrogant, insufferable, jerky, take-no-prisoners self in no time.  I found this notion strangely comforting as I started on my journey home.  Passing the houses of Foster, Mitchell, Wright, and Richardson, I imagined the many chapters waiting to be written, while visions of corn popped in my head.




Be well and Freak Out,

Monday, December 1, 2014

4 days...(a mini-journal)


(Wednesday, November 26, 2014)

I am keeping this mini-journal to stay sane during my offline time and as a reminder of what life can be like outside of social media.  Perhaps I'll learn something deep and thought-provoking about myself, but probably not.


DAY  1

(Thursday, November 27, 2014)

Every so often I randomly take a 24 hour sabbatical from social media, so one day offline wasn't too difficult.  Honestly, I did spend last year's Thanksgiving weekend offline, but that was different.  At that point in time I didn't have a device in which to connect to Wi-Fi, so it was easy to accept.  I simply didn't have a choice.  Now the temptation to connect is hanging above me.  I could have grabbed my device (~snicker~) on my way over to my father's and loitered outside my favorite Wi-Fi hotspot, but I didn't.  Though I now find myself wondering if a canine friend in Omaha had a filling holiday meal, and if Texas experienced a very pink Thanksgiving.

What did I do with the time I typically spend online, besides eating with family and taking a really awesome nap?  Well, I did not do any editing, which I feel a bit guilty over.  However, I began writing a short story.  I'm not sure if the tale will end up on this blog, but we shall see.  The thrill of immersing myself in a fictional world, other than social media, was enough, at least for today.

DAY  2

(Friday, November 28, 2014)

A second day offline draws to a close.  Once again, I must confess that every so often I have taken two days off, but during those times I cheated a bit.  I would often pop on and quietly look around to keep up with what was going on.  Maybe respond to any personal messages.  Not today!  Even though the freak summer-like temperatures should have tempted me to sit outside, maybe under the Tweeting Tree, and lose myself in the world of social media, I didn't experience an overwhelming urge.  However, I did catch myself curious to know if the Swedish & English bear brothers were reunited, and if Tennessee had theorized everything yet, but these will hopefully be happy surprises come Monday!

I managed to take a leisurely long walk and accomplish some editing today.  I'm approximately halfway finished with word chopping and rearranging, so there is much to feel satisfied about, but so much more to go.  My short story kept drawing me away, which is fine.  At least I'm being distracted by a productive project.  There is something about this story that has me all knowing grins and maniacal chuckles.  I'm beginning to believe it will eventually find its place on my blog, even if no one understands the journey but the deranged author.  

In film news, my sister and I revisited the 1972 classic Blacula.  To be honest, I find it one of the more entertaining versions of the Dracula legend.


DAY  3

(Saturday, November 29, 2014)

A third day offline but not completely out of touch with the outside world.  I called to hear about wild New York turkeys, but had to leave a message.  Still feeling the itch to talk, I phoned a friend who is smart enough to avoid social media all together.  She knows there are benefits to being connected, but she also hears about the negative aspects.  I respect and appreciate her off-the-grid decision, and she respects why I joined the seemingly endless digital conversation.  My friend and I had a great time catching up, with topics ranging from Dark Excursions to zombies to British telly to malaria.

I spent more time on editing today, partly because a napping cat on my lap prevented me from reaching my short story.  Though I did eventually make some progress on my literary journey, pausing as I rang the doorbell.  My plan is to focus more on writing tomorrow as I do some laundry.

The temperature was once again freakishly summer-like, which may explain my desire to talk to another living human person, whom I don't see or speak with often.  As a third day ends, I wonder if M & J continue to feel the glam and sing the blues.  Plus, I can't wait to read what a fellow feline pet parent from Omaha thought of Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever!  I was rather entertained by the whole thing.

In other film news, my sister and I watched the 1973 lethargic yawn fest Scream, Blacula, Scream for the first time.  Doesn't hold a candle to the first one, but we had not expected it to.


DAY  4

(Sunday, November 30, 2014)

Did the Stove Top Stuffing Queen experience a tasty Thanksgiving?  Were the kittens painted on Wednesday?  Whose cookies have the cookie thief taken?  Did Mr. Dimples post any new shots?  Are there any new videos from Australia?  Has Chadwick finally found love?

Those are a sampling of questions that were running through my head this morning.  I had to resist the incredibly strong urge to locate a Wi-Fi source and find the answers to my online queries by distracting myself with a relative phone call, writing, laundry, and writing about laundry.  Maybe my resolve weakened on this fourth day or perhaps I simply miss the wonderfully strange and eclectic folk I call friends, whether they are from real life or reside strictly online.

As this final full day offline draws to a close, I wonder what I'll find when I log back on tomorrow.  Will there be absolute chaos or ordered calm?  I won't know until then, but for now I can only speculate what a Lincolnite thought of Once Upon A Time, and if a relative from an isle of grand will continue watching The Walking Dead.  Both shows had a jaw-dropping moment or two.



(Monday, December 1, 2014)

Did I learn anything from my self-induced exile from the internet and social media?  Perhaps nothing earth-shattering, but I learned a couple of things.

I learned that I can spend time offline and still find emotional fulfillment.  That being said, I also learned that the connections I've made online are important to me.  The wonderfully strange and eclectic folk expand my world view and make me feel like I found my ancient tribe through modern methods.  Plus, the fellow writers I have interacted with help to keep me motivated and focused.

Will I ever again spend such a large amount of time offline?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  It was a nice break from what had become the norm and I accomplished a few things, but I'm back online now.  Let the interactions begin...

Be well, Readers, and Freak On,


P.S. You can find me on…

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

4 days...

I am going to take four days off of being online.

The physical reason for this decision is my favorite Wi-Fi hangout will be closed Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Sure, there are other hotspots I could visit, but I figured I should use this time to shake the digital noise out of my head.

The emotional reason for this decision is sometimes the internet and, more specifically, social media can be overwhelming, underwhelming, or something in between.  I've been on various sites for less than two years, so I vividly recall a time before I was a slave to checking for interactions.

I'm not sure how I'll utilize the time I typically spend online.  Hopefully catch up on editing.  A print edition of my e-book serial will be released into the general population, sooner or later.  I may also watch a few movies in my queue or possibly write something amazing.  Who knows, maybe I'll make a real life friend who doesn't live 65 or more miles away.  Considering I suck at real life stuff, this is seriously unlikely, but ya' never know.

I will miss visiting my various and varied online and real life friends over the next four days, but I believe my temporary absence from social media will be a healthy choice.  At least it will give me an opportunity to focus on something else for a while.

Be well, Readers, and Freak Out (until Monday),


Friday, November 14, 2014

Written Yesterday, To Be Sent Tomorrow, Today

This poem from a couple of years ago sums up my week quite nicely.
(The following was inspired by Kim, who was not the only one having a nonlinear moment.)
Yesterday the librarian said today would be Friday
Meaning today is Friday and yesterday was Thursday
But, according to a letter I typed, I was certain yesterday was Wednesday
Meaning today is Thursday, not Wednesday or Tuesday
Now I don't know if tomorrow was yesterday, or yesterday is today, or if today will be two days away
These multiple days are causing my mind to sway
Perhaps it ultimately doesn't matter the name of the day
As long as you celebrate it in your own unique way
John L. Harmon
Be well, Readers, and Freak Out,

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Now serving 41...

Another year begins and it is not even January 1st.

In the past 12 months...

I wrapped up Darkening Sturgeons.

Wrote various short stories, from sci-fi to supernatural to a western.

Dabbled in some audio/video poetry.

Spiffed up my e-book serial and have slowly been preparing a print edition.

There are two things I have learned, even when shadowed by visceral self-doubt...

1) Keep expanding.  In other words, be open to new experiences.

2) Keep going.  In other words, you truly cannot predict what is waiting around the corner.

My New Year resolution is to remember these very important lessons, especially when that hollow feeling dares to envelop my soul.

Be well and Freak Out,
(older but probably not wiser)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Devils Gulch Rd.


    Jacob Spitzer, a wiry crop farmer of 49, is no stranger to hateful bitterness.  His emotional temperament is of the volatile type which focuses on one incident, clinging to it, and mulling it over again and again.  The memory will become something larger and more fictional than the original incident until action must be taken.  This is why he now finds himself waiting on gravel and dirt.

    Garrett Randall, a barrel-chested oil baron of 51, is no stranger to the envy of others.  His emotional temperament is of the type which never forgives a slight to his person.  Even a small, flippant remark cuts deep, but if the slight is an inflammatory accusation against his moral structure, then action must be taken.  This is why he now finds himself stepping onto gravel and dirt.

    It was 25 years ago when two friends sat down for an amiable game of cards.  Both men were newly established within the farming community of the area, Spitzer with several acres of crop land and Randall with a nearly equal amount of land for cattle rearing.  As the night and the game wore on, the betting increased alongside the liquor consumption.  It soon became apparent to both players who was on a winning streak and who was on the losing end.

    Randall should have gratefully accepted his winnings and called it a night, but the liquor enhanced the thrill of the game.  Spitzer should have gracefully accepted his losings and called it a night, but the liquor impaired his better judgment.  Even after betting and losing all of his coin, Spitzer suggested one final hand, offering up an acre of land which had proven useless in growing crops.  Randall eagerly agreed and commenced shuffling and distributing the cards.

    Garrett Randall walked away that night with intoxicated bravado and an extra acre of land for his cattle.  Jacob Spitzer walked away that night with less land and an inkling of intoxicated suspicions.  While their friendship wasn't completely damaged by this outcome, the two men slowly began to drift their separate ways, only meeting by occasional chance.  The damage wasn't complete until Randall, while excavating an area for a man-made pond, struck oil and proceeded to collect wealth beyond dreams from this newly won acre.  It was then the suspicions of underhanded dealing Spitzer had experienced after the card game developed into an intense grudge.

    Jacob Spitzer nursed this grudge day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year until he finally cracked under the strain.  With little warning, and even less ceremony, he accused Randall of being a nefarious cheat and challenged the oil baron to a duel.  Randall, with his temperament, couldn't let this offensive accusation pass, readily agreeing to the challenge.  The time and place were quickly arranged, leading both men to the gravel and dirt road where they now stand.

    No words are exchanged in the heat of the late morning.  Sweat clings to furrowed brows as tense hands wait.  Wait for the agreed upon signal to draw and put an end to what each man considers to be an unforgivable situation.  Just when animosity is about to break its silent restraint, it happens.  The ringing of the noon bell from a nearby town echoes across the fields and two former friends fire all their contempt at one another.

    Two long days pass before the remains of Jacob Spitzer and Garrett Randall are discovered among the gravel and dirt.  Local knowledge of the men, accompanied by the pistols clutched in dead hands, sufficiently answer all questions.  The residents of the nearby town stop to mourn, but soon go about their daily lives, occasionally shaking their heads and remarking how nothing good ever happens on Devils Gulch Rd.

Be Well, Readers, and Freak Out,


Monday, October 20, 2014

sky / ground

The sky mourns for no one
The ground tells no lies
We traverse the middle 
With closed and open eyes

For the audio/visual experience, click VINE
For another poem experience, click SHADOW
Be well, Readers, and Freak Out,

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I decided to release one more sample chapter of my e-book serial.  Out of the 90 chapters that comprise Dark Excursions, this one may be my favorite.

Here you will experience a potentially tense meeting between a young heiress and a one-armed gardener…two longtime friends possibly set adrift after a night of startling revelations...

Chapter 64

We now take you to the gazebo...

    Cheryl Van Der Van observes her longtime friend sitting stoically, only a pair of tossed aside gardening shears for company.  His feet are spread evenly apart, his one hand clutching a leg.  No discernible expression can be found as he gazes off into the distance.

    She gingerly steps closer to the gazebo, unsure of what his response will be.  More has changed in the last twenty-four hours than in the four months she had been away.

    "Good morning, Dinkel," she nervously greets with a sincere smile.

    He responds with caution, unsure if Anapola spoke the truth over her daughter’s concern, "Good morning, Cheryl."

    "May I join you?"

    "You don't have to ask," Dinkel states, feeling at ease with her politeness.  "After all, it is your gazebo."

    Cheryl, sensing his comfort, enters the structure.  "Technically, it was my father's."

    "He built it for you."

    "That’s what my mother has always told me."  She walks across to where Dinkel is seated.  Along the way, a particular area of the wooden floor creaks and gives a bit, but she pays it little mind, "I know that Father would sometimes use this place to meditate."

    "I remember seeing him here a few times, all drawn up in thought."  Dinkel looks around at the neatly trimmed shrubs, "I can see why.  It’s peaceful."

    She calmly situates herself beside him.  No words are exchanged as they completely absorb the bucolic surroundings.  Fresh air carries the pleasant aroma of flowers and the soft songs of faraway birds.  The warm sun caresses the shrubs, bringing with it the promise of life.

    "Are you mad at me?" Dinkel gently breaks the serenity.  He continues looking forward, afraid to see her expression.

    "For what?" she asks for clarification, not facing him for the same reason.

    Dinkel barely wants an answer, but he needs to know, "For keeping the truth about your father's death from you."

    "You were following Mother’s impossibly tyrannical demands.  I can't be mad at you for that, Dinkel."

    "I just wish I would have handled things better."

    She knows precisely what he means.  "Are you angry with me for telling Crop the truth?"

    “No,” Dinkel shakes his head.  “You did what I couldn't."

    Silence trickles back in, collecting and reshuffling their thoughts.  No more talk of the deception involved in the untimely death of Charles Van Der Van, at least for today.  There is something far more current to discuss, even though time already seems to be making the subject irrelevant.

    "Why Crop?" Cheryl faces him, needing to see his expression.  "Why did you fall in love with him?"

    Dinkel turns, not afraid to look at her, "You know how easy he makes it, Cheryl."

    She sees it in her friend's blue eyes: a look of adoration for the man.  "Why didn't you write to me about the relationship?"

    He sees it in his friend's hazel eyes: a glimmer of sadness for her lost first love.  "You had been in love with him, Cheryl.  I felt like I was betraying you."

    "Mother betrayed me with Crop.  You were just following your heart."

    "It doesn't matter now," he chuckles hollowly.  "You and I have both lost him."

    "But...are you still in love with him?" Cheryl asks without spite.

    "Yes.  Are you?"

    "No.  Crop Hoppins may be suave..."

    "Handsome..." Dinkel adds, causing a sedate interpolation.





    "But he is my past," Cheryl concludes. 

    "I guess he's my past, too."  Dinkel gazes languidly at nothing specific.

    Cheryl follows his gaze, hating to see him so lost.  "A friend once told me that regret slowly and silently destroys everything."

    "Your friend would be right."

    She nods in agreement, "We can't change the past, Dinkel, but we can be strong and diligently face the future."

    "Tennis," he states, thinking about tomorrow’s full game.

    "My father's company," she avows, contemplating the Van Der Van legacy.

    Dinkel holds out his one hand, initiating the old game.  Cheryl instinctively reaches out to slap it, but this time he doesn't move away.  The friends join hands with a loud clap, praying that neither time nor circumstance will ever tear their bond asunder.

 Copyright 2013,  John L. Harmon

For further information on this e-book (available for Amazon Kindle and other Kindle App-compatible devices) please click on one of the following Amazon links…

US    UK    CA    AU

FR    DE    ES    IT

JP    BR    IN    MX   NL

Don't forget to read Chapters 12 & 32 and excerpts from the fourth set...

Be well, Readers, and Freak Out,


P.S.  Click WHIP to read about the excursion behind Dark Excursions.