Drink to Me

I’m going to plead a remodeling project and the tricky install of an A/C unit, but I am a little short of hours at the moment. So here’s a piece of flash fiction for my time slot. Hope you enjoy. The illustration has nothing at all to do with it. I just like to remind myself every now and then that the book exists.

 

 

 

 

Drink to Me

“’Drink to me only with thine eyes’ said the Bard. Metaphorically it’s a lovely thought, but he didn’t mean a word of it.”

“Neither do you,” she said. “That’s your third stout.”

“No need to count, my love,” he said. “They used to do that for tax purposes, you know. Count the number of inns and alehouses and taverns. That latter is derived from the Roman word taberna, which meant—”

She shut him down. “A retail shop of some sort. Yes, I know. What I don’t know is why, when you’re in your cups, you feel the need to mansplain so much.”

He shrugged. “Could be worse. Some people are mean drunks.”

“That is mean. Or at least annoying. I was the classics major, not you.”

“Or right. I forgot.”

“Which is another thing. Drink makes you forgetful.”

“Which is entirely the point, at the risk of mansplaining again. ‘The world is too much with me.’ A little forgetfulness is a blessing. I’ll also point out that this only occurs until the immediate effects wear off. Studies show that moderate drinking helps maintain cognitive function as we age. Or as the old saying goes, ‘A man’s a fool to drink before the age of forty…and a fool if he doesn’t afterward.’”

“Worth a try,” she said, pouring herself another glass of zinfandel.

“That’s your third,” he said.

“’No need to count, my love.’ And if you bring up alehouses and obscure Latin words again, I’m cutting you off.”

“You say I’m in my cups but I’m merely pleasantly buzzed. Stone drunk is off the table. I learned my lesson in college.”

“Likely the only one you did learn. But I assume you’re referring to the Belinda Barrows incident? Making out with your best friend’s girl? Not cool.”

“The blessing there is I don’t remember any of it.”

“Maybe, but it’s not as if you didn’t hear about it. As I understand it, the entire episode was repeated to you in lurid detail at least once a week until you graduated. If we’d been dating at the time, I’d have killed you. You’re lucky Kurt let you off with a warning, and only because you were drunk.”

“Luckily I wised up and went after you.”

“That was almost a compliment. So color me almost flattered. Besides, you never wised up. You only developed a little taste. I mean, Belinda? Seriously?”

“That wasn’t the tequila shooters. I plead hormones. I mean, back when I had them. ‘In the spring, a young man’s fancy’ and all that.”

“You also tend to quote poetry, though you barely read it and don’t write it, and if it wasn’t one you had to memorize in English Lit, fuggedaboudit.”

“I already did. The stout is working.”

-The End-

©2020 Richard Parks. All Rights Reserved.

Update and Upward

Finished Chapter 3 of The Seventh Law of Power and am well into Chapter 4. Marta has to destroy a cursed immortal monster with the help of a snarky raven and a dead girl. It’s almost—but not quite—like doing it alone. Except at this point she has five of the seven laws, which means she’s never alone, or at least a long way from helpless.

Wrote another Yamada story last week. A flash piece that I’m probably not going to expand, since I rather like it the way it is. Likely I’ll fit it into the collection when I’m ready to do that. Aside from that there are two more full length Yamada stories in the pipeline. Assuming they’re both published as I intend, it’ll be a year before both will be free to republish, so the Yamada collection is at least a year off. I’m planning ahead.

Pretty good considering I had to go into the hospital on Friday for a minor procedure…which took two days of prep. Let’s just say everything’s fine and I’m glad I did it but I’m also very glad it’s over.

 

Confession Time

I am a writer, so it should go without saying that I’m a reader. Show me a writer who didn’t start as a reader and I’ll show you someone painting by numbers and connecting the dots.

On the other hand, or foot, or whatever—there’s more than one kind of reader. Most true readers start as the voracious sort, and I certainly did. Once I learned that those black ink spots meant something, there was no stopping me. Storybooks, philosophy, cereal boxes, whatever. Put it in front of me and I’d read it. I wouldn’t always understand it, mind, but at the time this hardly mattered.

That’s fairly common among readers. Later, after that initial insane rush, we start to specialize…or drift, depending on your point of view. We start to recognize that certain forms “speak” to us more. It may be a phase, it may be lifelong. I started with books and later moved to an intense affair with comics when I had a bit more discretionary income and could, you know, acquire things that weren’t already in the family library. I came into that about the time Jack Kirby moved to DC and started the New Gods series. But all good and bad things come to an end, and if you’re lucky, new good things appear (and bad, whether  you’re lucky or not) and by college I was back to books. LOTR and The Earthsea (at the time) Trilogy. Fritz Leiber, Clark Ashton Smith and those echoes of the pulp era. HPL, REH.

And then…well, my true bent manifested. Turns out I am a butterfly. I go to whatever catches my attention. I am not focused. Some readers make it a point to, say, read the Romantics and ignore everything else until they’re done, then move on. I can’t do that. I go back, I go forward. I read collections and novels by current writers. I go back to things I’ve missed. Bear in mind, this is for pleasure. There’s also writerly research, which is another subject entirely. It can be and often is pleasurable, but that’s not the reason you go there. You need to know about something and try to find out what you don’t know. You go where you think that information is.

Just another way of saying I am haphazard in the extreme. For instance, I’ve managed to read ULYSSES, but not FINNEGAN’S WAKE. I’ve read Eddison’s THE WORM OUROBOROS but not Morris’ THE WELL AT WORLD’S END. You get the idea.

So the confession part. I, a fantasist, have never read George Macdonald. At all. This is something I feel a sharp need to address. So I’ve acquired copies of THE GOLDEN KEY and PHANTASTES.

Which, at the very minimum, will tell me what, if anything I’ve missed. Other than, you know, almost everything.

Up Your Nose, COVID

Lucky me. I got my first COVID-19 test on Friday and I have to take another one tomorrow. Not, I hasten to add, because I or anyone else thinks I have the virus, it’s just unfortunate scheduling. I’ve got a medical test on Wednesday that requires I test clear for the virus before I take it. I also have a routine procedure a few days later which also requires a clear test. Can’t they use the same test since it’s within such a short time frame? Ummm….no. I need a separate test for each one.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure, let me tell you how it goes: they take a swab that looks about a foot long and put it up your nose as far as it’ll go, both nostrils. It’s not actually painful (or wasn’t for me). It is, however, unpleasant. Not nearly as unpleasant as getting the virus, but not something I look forward to. I sneezed continually for a couple of minutes afterwards, fortunately not until after I’d left the testing station, because if I’d had the virus I’d have been spreading it. A lot.

Wear your masks, people. It’s not a political statement. It’s just common f&&king sense.

 

Progress Report and Some Minor Rebranding

Since one or two of you expressed interest, I’ll start off with a brief progress report on the 4th (and I think final) book in the Laws of Power series, working title The Seventh Law of Power. I mean, there are seven laws total and Marta’s looking for number 6 and 7. Once she finds the 7th, well, the point of the whole thing will finally be made manifest. And there will be a point, I promise. That’s the plan. A lot is going to depend on how the next few sections go. As it stands, I’m approaching the end of Chapter 3. Marta’s getting a new servant with a lot of baggage. About 200 years of it.

And Tymon the Black is coming out of the retirement he was never really in.

I still plan to post at least a few opening chapters along the way, but not until I’m far enough along that I know I won’t be doing major cuts/rethinks to the first few.

Other Business.

I really don’t like the word “rebranding,” as it implies I’m a brand. Which I’m not, for yay or alas. But every now and then revisions must be made, and not just in stories. One of my earlier books, The Ghost War, only has one review, and it’s a crappy one, mostly because the reader looked at the cover, assumed it was something in my Yamada series, and was disappointed. While a quick scan of the description should have knocked that idea down, to be fair I see the point. While I think it was a very nice and evocative cover, some of the armor being worn certainly shows a far east influence. Here was the original cover:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I changed it to something which still fit the story (the main character soul-casts into a raven’s body at several points) but couldn’t possibly be mistaken for a Yamada story at first glance, like so. This isn’t about which cover any of us might prefer. The point is if the cover was misleading anyone, it needed changing, so I did. Here’s the new one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem, if not solved, perhaps prevented from propagating. Here’s the thing though—I’m still showing what I still think is a pretty decent book (while I was cleaning up the text for the re-release, I read a few scenes I didn’t even remember writing, and thought “Dang, this guy can write. Ego? A little.). And yet here it sits with one 2 star review. Not very enticing.

So here’s the request: Anyone who’s read the book but never left a review, would you consider it? I’m not asking for anything more than an honest review, but at least this time let it not be about the cover. That would be a pleasant change.