Captain Trips

I’m standing in the post office and the guy behind me is having a fit. There’s no one at the desk and he’s in a hurry. I say, “I rang the little bell, someone should be out shortly.” This is a small town/rural post office where we actually know the folks who work there and don’t hate them for being Federal employees. They seem to work hard and they’re friendly and one even thinks he’s a stand-up comic.

“Is it the stand-up comic guy working today?” the man behind me asks. And then he does a dramatic shiver. Comedy Guy has never made me shiver.

“I’m not sure who it is today,” I say. I repeat that I rang the bell and someone should be out shortly.

“I can’t wait long,” the man behind me says. “I feel awful.” He gives another big shiver, and I realize he’s not shivering because he’s afraid of Comedy Postal Guy. He’s got chills.

He says, “I don’t know what happened, man. I was at work and I felt fine and then all of a sudden I got these awful chills and my bones ache –”

I smile a tight polite smile. “Really?” I say. “That’s just terrible.”

Inside I’m shrieking: What the hell are you doing in the damn Post Office then?! Get away from me!

I begin to suspect the postal worker on duty is in back monitoring the video feed of what’s going on in the lobby and is now deliberately not coming out. And I don’t blame him or her.

“I keep getting the shakes, too,” the guy behind me says. “It’s like I’ve got DT’s. I mean, I never had them, but it’s what I think it would be like. You know?”

AGH! No! No, I don’t know! And I don’t want to know! Get away from me! Oh dear Lord, did I touch anything he touched?! DID I?!

“Maybe you should just go home and come back here when you feel better,” I say out loud.

“Can’t,” he mutters, and he reaches past me and starts banging on the little bell.

Oh my God, I touched that bell! Do I have his germs? No, wait, I touched it first, so I’m okay. Calm down. Breathe. 

And then the worst thought comes into my head: We live near a huge military installation, where all manner of deadly things are tested. And at least half the people in this county work there. I ask him where he works, and of course, he mentions the name of that very military installation.

ACK!!! CAPTAIN TRIPS! CAPTAIN TRIPS! I gotta get out of here! No, it’s worse than that! Why does he NEED to be in the post office if he’s this sick?! Oh holy crap, it’s not The Stand – it’s Twelve Monkeys!!! “The thing mutates! We live underground! The world belongs to the dogs and cats now!”

And as the Comedy Postal Guy comes out from the back of the post office, I shout, “I just remembered somewhere else I have to be!” And I run out of the post office and pour most of a bottle of hand sanitizer all over my hands when I get to the car.

Only after I get home does it occur to me that the guy behind me might’ve just wanted to get ahead of me in line and made up the whole thing. He and Comedy Postal Guy are probably still laughing.

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Is This a Crime?

Walking While Stupid

Because it should be.

I’m coming off the exit ramp from a very busy highway. You know, one of those roads where people go real real fast?! And it kind of curves too, so you don’t really see anything coming at you until the last minute. But see, it’s a freakin’ exit ramp, okay? So there really shouldn’t be something coming at you.

And yet there is.

It’s a STUPID WOMAN on a Cell Phone. So stupid, she deserves capital letters. Because STUPID WOMAN is not only strolling up the exit ramp to the highway while chattering away on a cell phone, she is also pushing a baby carriage. One-handed.

All I can think is: Why??? There is absolutely no reason for her to be here. Behind her, off of the ramp, is a state road that has these crazy things called sidewalks. They are just fab for walking babies in carriages, let me tell you. Cars rarely drive onto them. Also a short distance behind her is a shopping center. It has sidewalks too. And a park with a walking trail and a playground. If getting fresh air for the baby is your goal, any of these would be a better choice than heading for the Interstate.

But Lynn, you say, maybe her car is back there on the Interstate and it broke down.

Seriously? Did you really just say that? Because I briefly did think that before I realized there were NO broken down cars by the side of the highway I’d just come off of. And anyway, would you load the kid in the stroller and head back and forth on the highway while waiting for AAA? I thought not.

I narrowly miss her as I come off the ramp and expect her to give me a nasty look. But she doesn’t. And that’s even more alarming than the nasty look would have been. Because she didn’t even notice me. She’s in her own little cell phone world, ranting about some perceived problem in her life that isn’t going to seem like much of a problem at all when that 18-wheeler behind me comes whipping onto this curving exit ramp.

A New Beginning. Or maybe just a slow fade.

As I said in the last post at my old blog, I’m making some changes this year. I’ve got the rights back to the two books I published with The Wild Rose Press and plan to republish them with new covers. This should end the whole pesky “lesbian porn” issue. It seems a number of friends and acquaintances were quite spooked by the original cover of Thirty-Nine Again, not just because the couple were undressed and in a slightly risque pose. No, the fact is, lots of folks thought that guy on top of the blonde chick wasn’t really a guy at all. He looked pretty manly to me, but clearly I wasn’t considering the effects of bad lighting, aging eyes, eyes too vain to wear their glasses, and the dreaded over-active imagination. Hence, the belief that a nifty little chick lit suspense novel was actually some sort of lesbian erotica – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Still, the next cover will definitely be somewhat more tame.

But what’s to come after I re-release the first two novels?

To be honest, I have no clue. Many friends are urging me to get back to writing fiction and to self-publish my works. I like that with self-publishing, I can choose my own covers and schedule my book release dates at a time convenient to me. But I have to confess, this whole self-publishing e-book thing does take a bit of the shine off of publishing for me. I bought a Kindle, but I still have difficulty seeing e-books as “real” books. In the world of self-publishing (or indie publishing, as it’s more fashionably called now) I’ve discovered some wildly talented authors – James Everington, I’m looking at you. But I’ve discovered that an alarming number of people with no knowledge of spelling, grammar, or the most basic storytelling techniques have decided they want to be authors – or at least be able to call themselves “authors.” I worry that these hacks and self-deluded hipsters are going to give self-publishing a bad name. Oh wait – it already had a bad name in traditional print publishing.

Still, e-books and indie publishing could mark a fresh start for the entire industry, so I hope we don’t wind up awash in badly written third-rate fiction. And I definitely don’t want to contribute to the pile of third-rate stuff.

My friends who’ve jumped on the indie bandwagon are urging me to “hurry up” and get some new stories written and get them out there – as if the most critical component of a story is the speed at which it’s written. I’ve always been pretty fast at writing news stories; but fiction, not so much. I understand what my friends are saying: they fear the big names are swooping into the e-book market now and will soon be crowding out the lesser-known indie authors who launched this new wave. And they’re probably quite right. But I have to be who I am, and who I am is just not fast.

So I’m hoping to find the time to write some new fiction this year, and I’m planning to self-publish it if I do. But I’m going to take my time – something I know the Internet gods really hate. The stories will come when they come, and if they come, I’ll definitely share them with you. But I’m not going to scramble to put together some formulaic fiction I don’t enjoy just so I can follow the Pied Piper of Instant Gratification. I’m going to sit back and take my time with this thing called living, and if I find a story worth writing down, that’s cool. If not, I’m beginning to think that’s cool too. As my hairdresser says, It’s all good.