What’s Up Wednesday: Checking Myself Into Rehab

First off, let me explain. No, I haven’t fallen victim to drink or drugs. It’s not that kind of rehab I need. It’s something much, much worse for a writer.

The truth is, for the last couple of years, I haven’t been writing. This isn’t something easy for someone who claims to be a writer to admit. In fact, I’ve been lying about it because if I’m not writing, I’m just a fraud. Which, since I’ve resorted to lying about it, I guess I am anyway.

Sure, I’ve scribbled a few lines here and there. I’ve even written a few pieces of flash that weren’t worth showing to the world, but for the most part, I having written anything worthwhile.

I could blame this on any number of things. My struggles with anxiety and depression, twenty-four hours a day access to entertainment via Netflix, Hulu, etc., the fact that I lost one of my best friends over the summer, (Although that’s unfair to him. My troubles started long before his passing and he was never anything but encouraging.) or just sheer laziness.

All of these are true to some extent, but after much soul searching, I’ve come to realize that they’re all just an excuse. I thought long and hard about those glory days when I could hardly stop my fingers from moving across the keyboard. What’s missing from the equation?

The answer? Reading. Looking at the past few years, I hate to admit it, but I’ve only read a handful of books. I, the kid who used to always carry around a battered old paperback. The one who used to get in trouble in math class for reading during the lesson (but not too much because whenever the teacher would try to surprise me with a question, I always knew the answer.) The guy who, when he didn’t have a new book to read and couldn’t get to the library, would re-read one of his favorites until the cover fell off and it started bleeding pages. The one who often had several books in strategic places around the house, all of which I was reading at the same time.

I’ve always been a big believer in this. I don’t know how I got so far off track.

Once upon a time, I even filmed a YouTube video on the importance of reading for writers. Looking back, I think I was mostly talking to myself. Especially looking at the view count.

Truth be told, I think the biggest reason I stopped reading was the advent of unlimited entertainment at my fingertips. When I was younger and the internet was in its infancy, if I got bored, I would pick up a book. Or, barring that, I would make up a story to entertain myself. It wasn’t long before I started writing them down. Especially once smart phones came out, I became a screen addict.

So what’s the solution? I think that’s obvious. I need to become the voracious reader I used to be. Instead of taking my phone with me to the bathroom, I need to take a book. I need to make sure I always have my kindle in my man purse.

In case I find myself with only my phone, I need to make sure I always have a book on there just in case.

Now I’m not saying I’m going to follow the advice of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and kill my television. I still enjoy watching some TV and I believe there is value in visual entertainment. What I am going to do though, is stop turning it on unless there’s something I actually want to watch.

To this end, I think I’m going to start posting weekly on what books I’m reading. I might even give soft reviews, but don’t expect me to just shred someone else’s work. I’m a big believer in karma and I rarely just don’t like a book. Currently I’m reading Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King. I’m on the last story, A Good Marriage, so I’m already deciding on what’s next.

Here’s hoping that a couple of weeks of solid reading will start the words flowing again. In the meantime, I’m going to be moving my office to a more remote part of the house so I’m ready to go when my muse returns.

I’ll see you next week with an update and possibly a tour of my new (albeit temporary) writing space. I’ll explain more then.

What’s Up Wednesday: Revenant

Okay. The title was a bit overdramatic. I didn’t actually return from the dead. It just feels like it. 

As you may know, for the last year or two, I’ve been dealing with some major mental health issues. I’ve had issues with anxiety and depression for most of my life, but I’m only now actually dealing with them. For the first time in forever I’m starting to feel like myself… Sometimes.

It’s still an uphill battle. Some days, I wake up filled with motivation and the will to get things done. Others, I just don’t. So far the latter still outnumber the former, but it’s getting better all the time. 

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I’ve gotten any writing done lately. Still, I did finally get my office back in order and ready for me to get my work done. I’ve even gotten most of my house clean so I’m out of ways to procrastinate. Mostly.

I’m also looking to get away from one of the biggest outside influences on my mental health. My job. I won’t go into details other than to say that while it was a great job and gave me the ability to write while on the clock, things have changed for the worse.  

I know I’ve talked about it in the past, but I’m finally taking steps to start making money freelance writing. While my first love and ultimate goal is to make a living from my fiction, for the time being, I think it’s time to put my skill with words to work for me. I’ve been taking some online courses to learn marketing and business management. I’ve also picked up a couple of books suggested by Reddit on the subject of freelancing. If I can match my current income (which shouldn’t be hard) with freelancing, I’ll be free to do something I’ve always wanted to do. Travel. 

And that brings us to the next update. 

The Writer Wagon

I’ve mentioned it in the past, but I’m finally ready to start work on my 99 Chevy Astro van.


My goal is to turn it into a camper van. Basically sort of a mini RV. 

Step one is to clean the inside thoroughly. The previous owner was a cowboy who used it to get to rodeos. As you can imagine, the inside is pretty filthy. I’m going to scrub the hard parts and take a carpet cleaner to the soft ones.

The next step is the bed. This is a small van, so I’m planning on  rear bench seat that folds out to a full size bed. When it’s in bed-mode, it’s going to take up most of the back. Once I have the bed figured out, then it’ll be time to plan everything else around it.

Ultimately, I’m hoping to take it to writing conferences and eventually on a book tour. I’m also designing it to be a mobile office for when I want to just get away into the mountains to commune with nature and get some writing done.

I’m really looking forward to the freedom the freelance life and The Writer Wagon will give me. I have a dear friend in the hospital in California and I would love to go visit him and be there until he recovers, but my current job doesn’t allow for vacation time. Much less an open-ended leave. If I were freelancing, I could take the wagon and still work while I’m on the road. 

Don’t worry. I’m not giving up on my fiction. This is just to bring in money until I can make a living from my books. I’m actully looking forward to getting back to work. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to read over my current projects to get back in touch with the stories.

I suppose that’s about it for now. I’ll be posting updates on The Writer Wagon when I have something to share. I’m also considering starting a couple of blogs on various topics. One of which will be on dealing with mental health issues.

I’m not sure when I’ll post another WUW. I suppose when there’s something to report.

Fiction Friday: the Mongers, Part 7

“Alright, Old Man. Where’s our truck?”

“Truck? Oh. You mean that death mobile you used to shoot up a buncha’ my folk? Ain’t seen her.”

Butch stepped forward, pulling his pistol and cocking it.  

“I’m not playing with you. Me and my men want our truck back now.”

“Now, now. No need to get testy. Why don’t ya’ put that thing away and set a spell so we can talk?”

As he said this, a small child in ragged clothing appeared as if out of nowhere with another chair and placed it across from the old man and disappeared as fast as she’d appeared.

“I don’t want to sit. I want to get what’s mine and get out of here. If you give it up now, we’ll leave peacefully. Otherwise, my boys are going to come rolling in here and wipe you out.”

“Your boys.” The old man said in a wheezing laugh. “Ain’t but the five of ya. Not even armed that well either. Now my people? We may not have guns, but we got numbers.”

Butch looked at him uneasily.

“That’s right. We seen ya’ coming a mile away. Now think about it. If we had your truck, do ya’ really think we’d let you get so close? Hell. If we took the damn thing, don’t ya’ think we’d have come in and wiped out everyone in that school by now? Probably woulda’ slit a few throats while we was stealin’ her too.”

Butch’s arm dropped just a hair.

“Now why don’t ya’ have a seat so we can jaw. Call your boys in. They’ll wanna’ hear this too.”

Butch waved for Nutcase who approached warily. As he waited, four more chairs were brought out. Bear and Gut eyed the flimsy chairs uneasily and chose to stand.

“Yeah, Boss?” Nutcase said.

“I need you and Bear to run and go get Rat. Might as well bring the bikes up too.”

“But where’s the truck?”

“Never mind that now. Just do as I ask and this gentleman will explain once you’re back.”

Nut gave the old man another wary glance, but then he and Bear were off. Butch sat in the chair across from the old man.

“Okay. So start talking.” Butch demanded.

“If ya’ don’t mind, I’d rather just go through all this the once. Meantime, can I interest y’all in a drink?”  

Without waiting for a reply, the old man gave a whistle. Almost immediately, an elderly woman came bustling out with a bottle and handed it to the old man who pulled the cork and sniffed whatever was inside with pleasure. He made as if to take a drink, then stopped.

“Where are my manners?” He asked, shaking his head and holding out the bottle to Butch.

Butch eyed the bottle, but didn’t take it.  

“Well, I guess I can’t blame you for bein’ cautious.” The old man said, and took the first drink before offering it to Butch again.

Butch took the bottle and sniffed. It smelled like paint thinner.

“What is it?”

“I just call it hooch. M’own private recipe. Don’t bother askin’ what’s in it cause I ain’t tellin. Besides, you prob’ly don’t wanna know anyway.” He gave another of his dry, wheezy laughs.

Butch still didn’t trust the old man, but there was something about him that was impossible not to like. He took a tentative swig or the hooch. It was surprisingly smooth considering how it smelled. He took a bigger drink before handing the bottle to Gut.

Gut upended the bottle and began drinking. Butch finally elbowed him in the ribs, causing him to spray a fine mist of hooch into the air.  

“You want to save some for everyone else?” Butch asked.

“Sorry.” Gut said sheepishly. “That’s some good stuff.”

“No worries. I got plenty more in the cave.” He gave another whistle and the elderly lady came back out with three more bottles.  

Just as she headed back to the cave, Butch heard the sound of approaching motorcycles. Bear and Nut rode slowly behind Rat, who was on the lead bike and wobbling dangerously. Butch had forgotten he wasn’t a rider. He held his breath as Rat approached a large boulder as if he were aiming for it before swerving and missing it by inches. His breath escaped in a loud bellowing laugh.

Finally, the bikes were parked and the five of them sat together as they watched the old man as he started a campfire against the gathering dusk. Two more sturdy chairs had been brought out for Bear and Gut.

Once the fire was blazing brightly, the old man sat back in his own well-worn chair.

“Now then. I suppose introductions are in order.” He said as he uncorked another bottle of hooch. “Name’s Dan, but most folks around here call me Smokey. Some o’ the younguns have taken to callin’ me Old Smokey. They love singin’ that damn song at me too.” He took a swig of hooch and passed the bottle to Butch who introduced himself. He then took a swig and passed the bottle to Bear, who did the same.

And so it went, each man introducing himself, then passing the bottle. Finally, Rat introduced himself and made to pass the bottle back to Smokey.

“Ya ain’t gonna’ take a drink?”

“I don’t drink, sir.” Rat said.

“Hmph’ Not sure I can trust a man sittin’ round my fire who refuses to drink with me.” Smokey said, eyeing him suspiciously.  Butch cleared his throat and nodded to Rat who begrudgingly took a small sip.

“There now. That’s better.” Smokey said, relieving Rat of the bottle. “Now then. As I was tellin’ ol’ Butch here. I do believe Y’all got snookered.”

What’s up Wednesday Rides Again: Anxiety, Defeat, And the Long Road Home

First off, I’ll spare you all the usual groveling and the possibly false promises to do better this time. For the record, I really am trying to establish a regular blogging schedule. To be perfectly honest, I’ve come to miss my weekly confessional. I think it really does help to do a weekly purge of some of the thoughts running around my head. Let’s just call this my own little digital pensieve. Yes, I’m a nerd. You should know this by now.


As for where I’ve been, I’ll cover that in the meat of the post, along with a bunch of other stuff. Speaking of which…

Where I’ve Been

You may have already guessed this, but my latest unplanned hiatus had everything to do with my old nemesis, Crippling Anxiety. Now for what brought it about this time.

As you may already know, I’d planned to go to this year’s Thrillerfest & Pitchfest in NYC. I was really excited to go. Partly because one of my literary heroes is going to be there, George R. R. Martin. Mister Game Of Thrones himself. I was really hoping to get a chance to talk to him and pick his brain.

More importantly, I was looking forward to showing up to pitchfest with a dynamite manuscript and having all the agents fighting over me, putting me on the path to becoming someone else’s literary hero. (Shut up. It’s my fantasy and I’ll dream it how I want.)

Unfortunately, finances being what they are, I was going to have to do my trip on a shoestring. That’s when I came up with an oh so brilliant plan. Rather than pay a fortune for a hotel and airfare, I would take the van my mom had given me and turn it into a camper which I would then drive to New York, park it somewhere away from Manhattan (probably Brooklyn), and use it in lieu of a hotel room.

And that’s where the trouble started.

ww.justinmkelly.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/IMG_9058.jpg”> The Van. I was thinking of calling it The Writer Wagon[/caption]
You s

You see, I’ve only ever been to New York twice. The first time was a school trip when I was in middle school, and the second was a couple of years ago and I never left Manhattan. I’d planned to park in one of the other boroughs and take the train into the city. the problem was, not having actually been there, I could find out where I was allowed to park, but I couldn’t figure out where I should park.

I had no idea what was a bad neighborhood and what was a good one. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Harlem is actually somewhat high class now. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time trying to plan my trip. The more I tried to come up with a plan, the more anxious I became. Add to this the fact that I was going to be on an extremely tight time schedule. I was going to have to leave as soon as I got off work two days before and figured I would arrive well after dark. Then I would need to find a branch of my gym, take a shower, then find a decent place to park so I could be up bright and early the next morning to pitch my book. Needless to say, that’s where mean ol’ Mr. Anxiety crept back in.

The more anxious I became about planning the trip, the more I began to neglect the whole reason I was going in the first place. I wasn’t writing. The more I failed to write, the more anxious I began to feel. The more anxious I got, the more I couldn’t write. And so on, and so on.

Still, once the snow melted, I decided it was time to start work on the van. The first thing I did was remove all the back seats to make room for my bed. Next, I took it for a little spin to see how it felt to drive it. I figured I’d take it to the grocery store and back. nothing major. Besides, you can fit a lot of groceries in an empty van. Everything was going fine until I got about three blocks away from my house and the van stalled. If I were still in my twenties, I would have pushed it the rest of the way, but sadly, I’m twice that and I’m just not the strong young bull I used to be. I ended up paying sixty dollars to have it towed three blocks, but there was a blizzard coming in and I needed to get it home. At least the tow truck driver gave me some insight as to the problem. It appears to be a problem with the fuel pump.

By the end of the day, I was thoroughly exhausted and questioning everything. I thought I might be able to afford a plane ticket and a hotel and did some research. With the money I had and perhaps a small loan, I discovered I would still be able to make the trip.

That’s when I did the other math.

When I’m writing regularly, I can average about a thousand words a day. I have had two or even three thousand word days, but those are a rarity. Still, I figured on a thousand a day as my goal. Then I counted up how many days I had left until my deadline. My heart sank. If I managed to meet my goal of a thousand words a day, I figured I could probably just reach my word count goal for the book just in time by the skin of my teeth. This would leave me with a very rough first draft to show agents. Unacceptable. Add to this the fact that lately I’ve been lucky to eke out five hundred words a day and I was completely sunk.

For a brief moment I considered going anyway just for the experience, but quickly threw that idea out the window. It would be silly and a waste to spend all that money just to show up empty handed. So, as much as it pained me to admit defeat, I made the wiser choice to save my money for next year when I plan to have multiple manuscripts to shop around.

Once I’d made my decision, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. While I’m still a bit disappointed I won’t be going this year, I’m already looking forward to next year and having all those agents fighting over me.

I gave myself two weeks to relax and not worry about writing, but that time is up. It’s still going to be a long road back to where I once was as a writer, but I’m ready to start the trek home five hundred words at a time.

And that’s where I should end this week’s update. I still have a lot to tell you, but I suppose I should save some for later. I’ll see you next week. Until then…

Don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

You can now help support my writing on Patreon

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

Also, Amazon apparently now considers me an influencer, which means that they basically gave me my own Amazon store where I can recommend products. I do get a cut of anything you buy when you click my link. Unless you’d rather all your money go to a faceless corporation.  🙂 You can find my influencer page here. https://www.amazon.com/shop/justinmkellywriter

Writing Office Tour

I thought you might like a look around the room where I spend most of my free time coming up with stories to entertain you guys.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

You can now help support my writing on Patreon

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

I’ve also reopened my Amazon merch store, Scribe’s Station where I sell writing and book related T-Shirts.

Explaining My Absence

Just a video I posted on my YouTube channel explaining where I’ve been for the last couple of months.

As always, don’t forget to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

You can now help support my writing on Patreon

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

What’s Up Wednesday. Written On Thursday, Posted On Friday: Festival Of Books

Hey guys. I’m late again. I had planned to write a post yesterday right after I finished mowing my lawn. Unfortunately, while mowing I discovered a wasp nest in the worst possible way. I ran over it with my mower. Between the noise of the mower and the loud nineties music, I didn’t even realize what was happening at first. Once I did, my first thought was to jump in a lake or river to escape. Unfortunately, my house is at least a mile away from the nearest river. Instead, I ran for the safety of my house, swatting them all the way. Needless to say, I didn’t feel much up to posting after being attacked. Now, on to the meat of this post.

This weekend is the annual South Dakota Festival Of Books. It’s an event that trades off between Deadwood, SD and somewhere on the eastern side of the state every other year. Shannon and I, being book people, look forward to going every year it’s in Deadwood. Once I’ve got a couple of books to sell, I’m planning on making the trip east as well.

Every year, the festival attracts several fairly big-name authors. I wouldn’t consider any of them household names, but they’re still pretty well known authors who take time out of their busy schedules to teach classes for authors and other lovers of the printed word. I’m particularly looking forward to Sandra Brannan’s talk on Time Management for Writers, both because we consider her a personal friend and because I really need to learn to manage my time better.

Our absolute favorite part of the festival, however, is just walking around the exhibitor’s hall and meeting other authors as we add to our collection of autographed books.

Its a small collection so far, but its growing quickly.

It’s always great to connect with other authors who are on my level. I’ve made some great friends at this event over the years.

This year, I will also be doing what I can to invite more local writers to The Black Hills Writer’s Group. I feel bad that attendance has fallen so drastically during my time as Vice President, even though I’m told it happens sometimes. So I’m going to be handing out as many cards as I can to hopefully drive up membership.

So that’s really about it for today. I’m hoping to shoot some video or maybe even go live for a bit on my Facebook or Instagram page, so watch out for that.

Sadly, since I’m going to be very busy tomorrow, I probably won’t be posting a Flash Fiction Friday, but you never know.

Anyway, I’ll see you next week if not sooner.

Remember to stalk me online.

www.justinmkelly.com

Check me out on Facebook

On Twitter @JustinMKelly1

My Amazon page, in case you want to read more

On Goodreads

And on YouTube

I also post a copy of this blog on Tumblr

And, of course, please buy my debut short story, Blood Moon

Flash Fiction Friday Number 14: Spare

Okay guys. I’m finally back. My back still isn’t 100%, but I’m afraid it’s about as good as it’s going to get, at least without lost of strenuous work and possibly surgery. Anyway, I feel better than I have in quite awhile.

I’m declaring today the first day of Halloween season since today is the first day it’s really felt like Autumn. I know we still have another week until it’s officially Fall, but it seems everyone I know around here can feel the change of the season in their bones.

Today’s story isn’t a true flash piece since the upper limit of flash is 1000 words, and this one comes in at 1482, but I just couldn’t cut it down much more. Anyway, enjoy.

I call this one…

Spare

When my twin brother Dave died, it was like half of me had been cut out and discarded. We’d always had a special bond. I don’t mean we shared some sort of telepathy, although I could usually sense his emotions and he mine, even when we were nowhere near each other. I just mean that we were very close to each other.

Even after we moved out of our parents house and into our own separate lives, I usually ended my day with a call from him where we would catch each other up on our lives. At the end of every call, he would always sign off with “Talk to you tomorrow, Spare.”

That was his nickname for me. Spare. Since he was born first by a few minutes, he would always joke that he was the original, and I was just there to provide him with spare parts if he needed a transplant. If only I could have given him those spare parts after his accident, but there was no hope of saving him. He died from the car crash before they could even get him out of the wreck.

For months after, I wandered listlessly. I stopped going to work and started going to the bar. At first, my wife was as understanding as she could be. She knew how close Dave and I had been. She did her level best to be understanding, but after a few months, I could tell her patience was wearing thin. I just couldn’t find it in me to care. I think she was on the verge of kicking me out of the house when it happened.

I was sitting at Tiny’s, about to raise another shot of whiskey to my lips, when I heard a voice ask me if I hadn’t had enough. I looked around, the full shot glass grasped in my trembling hand. It wasn’t just any random voice. It was Dave.

I searched the bar with my eyes, hoping to see him even though I knew it wasn’t possible. We had buried Dave. I’d been the one to throw the first handful of dirt on his casket. There was no way Dave could be talking to me. Then I heard him again.

“Come on, Spare. What are you doing? You have a beautiful wife at home who loves you. Yet you’re sitting at a bar, spending her hard-earned money. For what? Are you trying to kill yourself so we can be together again? That’s just dumb. I’m here. You can put the drink down.”

I slowly realized that I wasn’t actually hearing him. He was in my head.

“Dave?” I asked.

“Shh. You don’t have to speak. Just think it and I’ll hear it. You don’t want people thinking you’re crazier than they already do.”

“But how are you here?”

“I don’t know. I just sensed you needed me and here I am. But the bad news is, I’m gonna need a little more practice at this. Just this little conversation is exhausting. I’m going to have to get some rest. You should too. Put the drink down, settle your tab, go home, and beg your wife for forgiveness. Oh, and don’t mention the fact that I’m in your head. Not even to her.”

“Okay Dave, goodnight.”

“Talk to you tomorrow, Spare.”

Hearing those words again, even in my head, gave me a chill. I never thought I’d hear them again. I quickly took his advice. Cindy was clearly dubious about my claims that I’d reform. Understandably, considering I was still very drunk. The next day, despite my hangover, I woke up early, put on my best suit, and set out to get my job back.

Unfortunately, the school had heard about my bender, and decided I shouldn’t be working with children.

As the weeks went by, I began to understand that word of my drinking had gotten around to the other schools in town as well. Nobody would hire me.

At least Dave was getting stronger. There were some days that I had to ask him to stop talking to me just so I could think.

One day, as I was resigning myself to flipping burgers while one of my former students lorded over me as my manager, Dave came up with a plan.

“Why don’t you look for something in the tech industry?”

“Because I was an English major. I don’t know anything about that stuff.”

“Yeah, but I do. Just let me take over during the interview. We’ll get the job. I promise.”

“Let you take over? How am I supposed to even do that?”

“Just let go. I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Okay, that’s great. But let’s say you get us the job. What am I supposed to do when I’m expected to actually do the work?”

“Right. You should probably let me take over then too. We’ll just call it a time-share. Hey, you’re getting the longer end of the stick. I do all the work, you get to enjoy the off time with our, I mean your, wife.”

His little slip should have raised a red flag. But he was my brother. I quickly agreed to his plan. Letting him take control took a little practice, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. To tell the truth, it was kind of nice.  I could let my mind wander while Dave did all the heavy lifting. I even started working on that book I’d always planned to write. Only in my head, of course. I couldn’t actually write it while Dave was using my body.

True to his word, Dave got us the job. I was a little envious when we got our first check. It was enormous compared to my piddly teacher’s salary. Needless to say, even though Cindy was concerned about my sudden career change, that first check made her a believer.

It seemed we had the perfect arrangement. True to his word, Dave did all the work, then I took over in the evening to spend time with my wife. Then one morning everything changed. I was in the bathroom shaving when I felt Cindy’s arms wrap around me.

“Thank you.” She said.

“For what?”

“For last night. I was beginning to think you weren’t attracted to me anymore. Thank you for showing me I still turn you on.”

A pit settled into my stomach as I began to understand what had happened. The truth was, I had been avoiding sex with her because that was one thing I didn’t want to share with Dave. Apparently, Dave had other ideas.

“DAVE!” I screamed inside my head.

I could feel his reluctance to answer. Understandable, since I was trying to figure out a way to punch him without hurting myself.

“Look. I’m sorry bro.” He said, somewhat sheepishly. “It’s just that you were completely neglecting this beautiful woman.”

“You know damned well why I was avoiding sex.”

“What, because you didn’t want to share her? I’ve got news for you, we are sharing her. Besides, did you notice the look in her eyes every time you refused to touch her? You might have straightened up, but we were still losing her. I just did what needed to be done.”

“No. You did what you’ve always wanted to do.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about. All our lives, you’ve gotten the best of everything. Better job, more money, nicer car. Cindy is the one thing that I had that you couldn’t. She chose me and it ate you up inside. Admit it.”

“Okay, fine. I admit it. You never deserved her. I deserved to have her, not you. You’re just the spare!”

I was stunned speechless. He’d never called me that like he really meant it. Now he was dead serious.

“What did you say?” I finally stammered.

“You heard me. You’re nothing. You’ve always been nothing. Just my spare.”

“That’s it. I’m telling her everything.” I said through angry tears.

“Go ahead.” He said, mockingly.

I opened my mouth to do just that. At least I tried to. I couldn’t make my mouth move. Dave started to chuckle. I tried to turn to her, to reach out to her. To do anything at all. All the while, Dave’s laughter rose.

“It’s okay, Spare. She never would have believed you anyway. Probably would have thrown you in the nuthouse where you belong. Unfortunately, I would’ve had to join you. I can’t have that. I’ve got big plans in store for the wife and I.”

Unable to do anything else, I began to scream inside our head, loud enough to make Dave wince.

“What’s wrong?” Cindy asked.

“Hmm? Oh, nothing. Just thinking about my brother.” I felt my mouth say.

“You still miss him. Don’t you?”

“I’m getting over it.” Dave said, as he smiled into the mirror and resumed shaving.

.     .     .

And there you have it. Like I said, I’ve declared this the official start of Halloween season, so I thought I’d kick it off with something at least moderately scary. I feel like this one needs to be made into a longer story. I’d like to do a much slower burn with Dave taking things over, but as long as it’s been since I’ve posted a story, I felt like I owed it to you to get something out.

Author’s edit: Even though this story was still written on Friday, it just wasn’t ready to be published until Saturday. Hey, give me a break. I’m still trying to get back on the horse.

Anyway, that’s it for today. I’ll see you on What’s Up Wednesday.

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