The Last Drop

The following piece started life as an exericise in mood, atmosphere, and tone.

I’m waiting for some first readers to get back to me on it. One first reader offered, “I got a sickening chill when I got to the end.”

Hurray! I won!

Let me know what you think.


The Last Drop


People use to come from miles around to watch my father pour gas. He could pour gas through the eye of a needle into a siphon-tank without spilling a drop. They’d come, their near empty gas cans on the back of their buckboards, the cans braced all around so they wouldn’t fall over, spill, slosh around.

There were special gas pouring days back then and dad was the only one in our country who had a license to pour.

It was a wondrous thing to watch. He’d put one can on the ground in front of him, walk around it a few times, maybe put his hands on his hips or cross them over his chest and lift one hand to stroke the stubble on his chin, considering. Real difficult pours, he’d get down on his knees and hands, put his head down at ground level, looking around the can, checking for balance; would the can teeter as it filled? Would it slide as it neared full?

Then he’d start with a single, small, drop. A “test drop,” he’d call it. Everybody held their breath. He’d check the neck of the can after the test drop, make sure there was no spillage.

Warm days were the worst. Everybody’d have to stand back lest the fumes got inhaled. Couldn’t have that. Other pourers weren’t as careful as my dad. The fumes would escape and everybody’d have to go see the magistrate, explain what happened. Why weren’t proper precautions taken? My father never had to face that, never had to worry about asking the community to make a decision; make them decide what value would this person bring us? Is their contribution moving forward worth the gasoline fumes now resting in their lungs, in their blood? We can extract the fumes, reconstitute the gasoline, but the person would die.


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The Grand Ture

The following piece has been in my unfinished pile since April 1991 (and probably predates that by a few months). It’s gone from 5,000 words to its present ~775. The core idea has remained throughout, it’s framing and presenting it properly that’s taken me years to figure out.

I’m waiting for some first readers to get back to me on it. Let me know what you think.


The Grand Ture


Mace stepped out of his tractor and into the early August heat of the Boston blast zone. He listened for the ocean. It shouldn’t be too far away. Much of Boston was landfill and the bombs – the big ones hidden for years in abandoned buildings – caused the sea to reclaim its own. The stench of The Charles entered him like swallowed bile and he watched the waves come up from the east, from the Atlantic, as if the ocean pushed The Charles’ filth back, refused it, said, “No thanks, those bodies and wrecks are yours, keep them to yourself. I don’t need them.”

The young girl’s voice called him from the bunker. “Hello? I’m not going to open the door until you tell me who you are.”

Mace lifted his service pack out of the tractor, strapped it on his back, and tightened its belt around his narrow waist.

“Hello? Can you hear me?”

Just inside the tractor’s door, on the right and only visible when the door’s pneumatics opened it fully, rested like a high-resolution mezuza; a photograph of a little girl, her arms raised and waiting to be lifted in someone’s arms, her eyes and smile open and wide, her blonde hair caught in some wind.

Mace’s fingers went from his lips to the photograph and he tapped the door to close.

“Hello? I know you’re out there. Who are you? Answer me!”


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Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. Non-protected posts (there are several) are available to everyone. Enjoy!

The Shadow’s Project Limited’s Terry Melia Interviews Joseph Carrabis

Gifted author Terry Melia interviewed me recently as part of The Shadow’s Project Limited‘s author interview series.

All cards on the table, Terry’s Tales from the Greenhills is an amazing novel and how Terry and I got in touch. We knew each other via Twitter, I enjoyed our interactions, and decided to give his book a go.

Strongly recommended.

Terry contacted me a while back about being interviewed. As my The Augmented Man was re-released by Sixth Element Publishing, I said “oh…well…if i have to…PLEASE DEAR GOD YES OH PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE!”

You can watch the video below or on YouTube.

Enjoy.

“Owen and Jessica” now on The Yard: Crime Blog

Subscribers may remember Owen and Jessica from previous posts. It’s a flash piece and always got laughs and applause when I read it publicly. I shopped it around, got lots of excellent comments from editors (who always asked to see more of my work) and no bites until this week.

 
Owen and Jessica was a fun, quick write that required little editing.

Blood gathered in the whorls of his thumb. He stared at it and chuckled before licking it clean.

 
It came out pretty much fully formed.

That’s an author’s way of saying “It only took twelve rewrites.” Most of the rewrites were for timing and tension; change a word here or there. One major (and important, me thinks) edit came late to the game; I added the third and fourth paragraphs from the bottom, from “He stood over…” to “…didn’t fit.”

Let me know what you think.

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Enjoy!

Litcon 2021 World Building Panel with Science fiction, fantasy, alt-history, steampunk, YA science fantasy, speculative fiction, dystopia, and military science fiction authors F. Stephan, Geoff Genge, Claudia Blood, Theresa Halvorsen, C.G. Hatton, and Liz Tuckwell

 
Enjoy the panel discussion. Information on the participants is below.

 
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