Spooky Chris Episode 4 – A Short Story

Decided to read one of the short stories to be included in a future book. Groove on this.

If you wanna buy any of my publushed books you can find them on Amazon. Just look up Chris Ringler.

Anniversaries

As 2019 dawns it brings with it two big anniversaries for me and two signposts in my writing.

My first book Back From Nothing was released in 1999.

I was a kid then, in more ways than one, and to have a book out was something I never imagined happening. I have gone into the story about it all but really, without the support of my folks, especially my mom, and without her investment in me and my writing, it never would have seen the light of day. I tried traditional publishing first, months and years and never got anywhere so I went the road I’d rather have not taken with subsidized publishing. I cant say I regret that path though because in all those years I never found any luck with traditional publishing. Even after all these years. Thankfully the market changed and opened up to allow people like me in, but it took a long time for that to happen. For the first few years after BFN was published I did everything I could to promote it. I did comic cons and took it with me. I made up chapbooks to keep pushing new work out. I created blogs and websites. I did readings. It got hard, promoting something that aged quickly – I put the book together in the late ’90’s so the stories weren’t new when they reached the public – but I never stopped believing in what I was doing and the path I had carved out.

The one regret I have, I suppose, is that all of the files for that book were from a word processor and are long, long gone so whatever exists of the book exists. Not that I expect to sell out, but it’s sad to think that if I did the book would just be…gone.

The book isn’t perfect. Far from it. It features the first writing from when I really got serious about things but it has some great ideas and is raw in a lot of ways but I love it for that. I went for it with those stories and just wrote and a lot of people don’t do that. It’s an imperfect book but that’s what makes it beautiful and it’s twenty years old this year.

Wow.

 

In 2009 I was still promoting BFN at shows but I had reached a point of frustration where I needed to do something else. I had never stopped writing and had gotten some stories published in a magazine and in an anthology but I hadn’t progressed. I remember being at the Motor City Comic Con and my table was next to a guy selling one book, a huge fiction book about a superhero that he was selling for $25. He barely had a set up but was able to pitch the heck out of the book and his charisma sold it for people. I watched stunned as he sold dozens of books. I asked who he went through and he said he’d put it out himself and like that lightning struck me and I knew what I had to do. I immediately started looking into self publishing. What you have to remember is that before that time it would cost hundreds and thousands of dollars to put your own book out and it still held the mark of Vanity Publishing, the notion that if you were to put your own work out then it meant it wasn’t good enough for a publisher. We know a little better now. The times changed. Self Publishing costs came down, big companies got into things, and slowly we have gotten more acceptance. Telling an author that their work, if it’s self produced/published is no good or lesser than anything with a traditional publisher is to tell all artsits that unless someone tells them their work is good that it’s no good. Some of it was protecting the status quo but some of it was concern for lesser works flooding the market.

The market got flooded.

It’s a bit chaotic.

So be it.

Better that more voices are heard than less.

Better that more people get the opportunity to pursue their dreams than less.

Traditional publishing got languid and lazy and there had to be an alternative.

There is.

When I put This Beautiful Darkness out I hadn’t known if I’d ever get a chance to put another book out. My fire for writing, while low, had never died, and I found a way. The stories found a way. I still remember the reveal party I held, proud to be able to show my friends, family, and loved ones the new baby I had put together. And this book was a better reflection of where I was as a writer and where I was going. I finally had something else to promote and to sell and to build from.

I haven’t looked back.

Now I do.

It’s been ten years and wow, over a dozen more books written and released. Since then I have written novels, fantasies, children’s books, and none of it would have come to be if I had given up. None of it would have happened if I had not found self publishing. That gave me the opportunity to experiment and to play.

In honor of this anniversary I am putting a new version of This Beautiful Darkness out. Reformatted and with a new cover and new story added to it. I am not sure that the book and its anniversary would matter to anyone but me but it does matter.

Both books matter.

So much.

If I died today those are part of my legacy.

They are part of who I was and who I am.

I am not sure what this year holds but I want it to be special and I am working on making it that way already.

this beautiful darkness 10th anniversary cover re-size

 

…c…

RoadKill – a novel

A million years ago, back when I was still a kid that had never even thought about writing more than occasionally and certainly never had thought about putting a book out, I wrote a story called Roadkill. In my mind it was a novella but in reality it was probably just a long short story. I was in my mid-teens and had handwritten the story in a spiral-bound notebook. I thought I had written a great story. It was about two friends who had a bad habit of running animals down with a car. Things escalated when things with the boys went awry and the end was a bit of comeuppance from Mother Nature.

Ah, but that book was never meant to be.

Continue reading “RoadKill – a novel”

The Line – a story

Creepy story about one-sided infatuation of the nastiest kind. Fair warning if that’s a trigger for you. 

 

The Line

 

It was her smile.

That was what first drew me to her.

That partial smile that seemed to say more than words could ever hope to.

It was a moment.

An instant.

It was enough.

Enough to carve itself into my heart.

And here we are.

Me standing on her doorstep, ready to make a fool of myself.

 

We met at the grocery store. I was there to pick up some dinner when she got in line behind me. I wasn’t in a hurry and stepped aside to let her go ahead of me. She had more items but for me, chivalry never died. She was short, blonde, I guess you’d say a little chubby, though I liked ladies with a little health on their bones, it makes them look like real women, ya know? She had tattoos down her arms and while I don’t really care for tattoos her smile won me over, starting in her brown eyes and pouring down over her face until it pooled at her lips. I smiled back and nodded and let the kid at the register ring her up. I resisted the urge to stare at the short skirt and what it barely hid and instead looked at the left bra strap that stuck out bright and red from her white tank top. I felt a smile form and it remained when I got up to the register jockey, who was also smiling. He nodded towards the young woman and smiled as he started nodding.

 

“Damn. Am I right?” His smile widened and as his grew, mine shrank. I put the microwave dinner down on the conveyor belt and looked around and, seeing no one, leaned towards the kid, who couldn’t have been eighteen.

I smiled.

I reached forward and grabbed the kid’s hand in my own and started squeezing, and squeezing, and squeezing and the harder I squeezed the wider my smile got until he cried out. Once he did that the girl that was supposed to be register jockeying at the next register over stopped doting on the asshole kid standing in line and rushed over and I quit the scene and beat it out of there, content that I had made my point.

Manners matter.

I didn’t go back into the grocery store.

I didn’t like their lax hiring practices and rudeness.

I started parking in their parking lot just the same though, taking my work breaks and lunches there and even my off hours and making a point to keep an eye on things just because.

I am a bachelor, my last, uh, relationship, having ended abruptly a few weeks earlier and I needed a hobby so the young lady became that hobby, I suppose. That smile, that smile she gave me meant something. I knew it did so I wanted to make sure that we met again. There was one night I decided to follow the register jockey home just to, you know, see that he got home safely. Wed had a conversation about manners.

I’ll leave it at that.

Then it was back to her.

The young lady had been on my mind since I saw her that first time. She was with me like an infection and no matter how hard I itched at it, closing my eyes at night and thinking of her, concentrating on her as if she were a piece of my furniture to be possessed, but it wasn’t the same.

Her.

I wanted her.

I saw her again three weeks after that first time. I was halfway through a beer, listening to talk radio and laughing to myself every time I saw that loud mouth kid hobble out for a smoke break in his leg cast. Accidents. Shame they happen so often.

Accidents.

She looked different this time, not done up, more like beat up. Scrubby. Wearing those goddamn yoga pants that too many women wear these days and a half shirt and covered in sweat. She had walked there and she was only in long enough to grab a water from what I could tell and then she was out again, earbuds in and walking off down the street.

My hands got itchy on seeing her.

My heart started to race.

I started my car and decided to follow her, to make sure she got home safely.

There’d been some nasty business a few weeks back with a girl, a teenager, just a few blocks from the girl’s home.

Nasty business.

I didn’t want to see the same happen to this one.

No.

Not this one.

The sun was setting and traffic was light so I slow-rolled it to keep up with her without her seeing. No reason to spook her. Besides, dad always told me that a good deed that hit the air carried the scent of an old turd. So low and slow, like good cooking, that was how I let this trail simmer.

When she went into a familiar apartment building I peeled off and headed for home. I had taken the last of my vacation keeping an eye on the store and needed the job so I went home and went right to bed. I thought of her as I started nodding off, the faint smile fading as I thought about how she had looked today.

It wasn’t going to cut it.

No.

I didn’t get a chance to see her for several days. Work was calling me early and keeping me late, though I did keep tabs on her. I worry, as I said, for a young woman such as her. Another local girl had been picked up, well, about eight months ago and had disappeared. Just gone. There was fear that she wasn’t the only one and that there was trafficking in the area. I wasn’t sure about all that, just that there were sharks out there and if a young woman didn’t have someone looking out for her that they might just disappear into the deep, deep waters of the night.

When I did get a chance to see her I saw her with someone, a man, older than her, and dressing to impress. Trying to hard if you asked me. I didn’t like the look of him so I followed them from her apartment to a bar, then a restaurant, then the movies. The bar was a dive. The restaurant was too expensive. The movie was stupid. I saw what he was doing and knew she was probably still buzzed. I saw how his hand moved from her shoulder, to her hip, then lower. Her laughter and smile had dried up by the time they returned to her apartment building and when he tried to make a move and she slapped him he grabbed her wrist for a moment, just a moment, but she raised her hand again and he let her go and she left in a hurry and went inside.

Good girl.

The man stayed in his car, parked at the curb for about twenty minutes after that before he finally put it into gear and started to drive away.

He didn’t live far.

Not far at all.

And he left his door unlocked when he got home.

He should be more careful.

There’re sharks out and he had swum out a little too deep.

 

The next day I called in sick and went by her apartment early and followed her to her job. An office job. Nothing special but work was work. Nobody knew that better than me. I stayed through to her lunch, which she took in her car, on her phone tap-tap-tapping away and not eating.
She should eat.

She could use some weight on her.

All that running she does has slimmed her up.

Her bones don’t look good on her.

When she went back in I left to run an errand and made sure I had dropped the flowers onto her doorstep before she would be home. I hid in the stairwell and watched as she got them, frowning, dropping them onto the hall floor before slamming her door.

I guess she didn’t like flowers much.

The infection that she was was starting to get out of control.

She was all I thought about.

I liked her all made up for work.

She was pretty.

Like I had seen her that first time.

When she was home, just home by herself, she was a slob.

I had seen her go out for snacks or take out and it disgusted me.

She could be so pretty if she’d try.

I would have to set her straight.

I looked at the calendar back at the house and circled a date.

That was the day I’d introduce myself.

That day.

I practiced what I’d say.

I picked out what I’d wear.

I got my supplies together into a plastic bag.

I even went to her apartment a few times to get over the nerves.

It was the night before I was going to go finally make her mine when something happened.

I was at the movies just wasting time, watching something to get my mind off of her and the counter girl was so nice, so sweet, and she looked so, I dunno how to say it, fresh, that it was as if I had never seen the other girl.

It was as if the infection was gone, the fever dream had cleared and I saw the other woman as the disgusting slob she was.

She was nothing like this girl.

This…Wendy.

No.

Wendy was different.

You could tell. She even gave me a large pop without charging, a wry wink shared between us when she did.

She was a little young, that’s what they’d say, but age means nothing to the heart.

I know that it may not work, that she may not feel the same but, that’s love.

It’s about making a fool of yourself.

It’s about deciding if you are ready to cross that line and when you do, knowing that whatever happens next is up to you.

Standing on someone’s doorstep, heart in hand, and making a fool of yourself.

After that…it’s up to fate.

I suppose I should break it to the other girl easy, let her know I have moved on.

Then, well then, I suppose I’d have to circle a date on the calendar and pick out what I was going to say to Miss Wendy.

Love.

It really does do the heart good, doesn’t it?

…c…