Flash Fiction Friday Number 16: A Portrait In Red

Hey guys. It’s that time of the week again. This week’s offering comes with a warning. Parts of this story are somewhat gruesome. So if you’re the squeamish type, particularly when it comes to blood, you might want to look away. For the rest of you, I present…

A Portrait In Red

An out of breath Anton looked around at his now trashed studio and smiled angrily. Broken paintings lay everywhere. The entire room was spattered with a galaxy of color radiating out from a sun of smashed paint tubes.

“There. Much more fitting for a trash artist like me.” He said to nobody in particular.

Anton turned to the one survivor. A blank canvas supported by his trusty easel. The easel he’d bought in a junk shop eons ago. He’d tried all sorts of fancy new easels, but always came back to this one. Sometimes he thought that maybe the easel was the true source of his talent.

“What talent?” He said to the trashed room.

The critics had hated his work. One had described him as another piece of street trash pretending to be an artist. Another had simply called his work forgettable.

Anton looked down at his right hand which still clutched the large kitchen knife he’d used to slash his paintings. He approached the blank canvas.

“I’ll show them. I’ll give them something to remember.”

He drew the knife up his left wrist, severing the artery. The first gout of blood spattered the pristine white canvas and he laughed maniacally. Knowing his time was limited, he snatched up the first brush to hand, dipped it in the freely flowing blood and got to work.

He painted frantically. Only pausing for a moment at a time to glance at the mirror before attacking the canvas once again.

Finally it was done. He stumbled back from his painting to admire his work. The vibrant red was already fading to a dull brown, but it remained an almost perfect self-portrait. Then the painting began to blur, finally becoming completely black along with the rest of his studio.

When Anton awoke, he was staring at his still trashed studio, although the angle was a bit funny. He couldn’t tell if he’d been out for minutes, hours, or days. He tried to look at his watch, but found he couldn’t move.

“Great, idiot. You didn’t kill yourself, you just somehow managed to paralyze yourself.” Anton thought to himself once he discovered his lips wouldn’t move.

Then he saw it. Laying on the floor was a large lump that vaguely resembled him. He realized he was looking at his own dead body. Was he a ghost? Why couldn’t he move?

Just then, the door to the studio flew open and his agent, Kathy, breezed in, followed by her weaselly assistant, Kyle.

“Anton? Are you home? I do hope you’re not still sulking over a few bad reviews.”

Kathy paused, taking in the carnage.

“Ugh. What’s that smell?” Kyle asked.

Kathy strolled over to the lump on the floor, surveying his dead body.

“Oh, Andy. What have you done?”

“Who?” Kyle asked.

“Anton. Andy was his real name. He thought Anton sounded more artistic.”

“I’m over here.” Anton tried to say, thinking it as hard as he could.

Karen turned, as if she’d heard him, and walked over, staring him right in the face. Kyle followed.

“Ugh. What the hell is that?” Kyle asked, wrinkling his nose.

“His last statement. One final middle finger to the art world.”

It was then that Anton realized what had happened. He was trapped  in his own self-portrait.

“Should we get rid of it?”

“Are you crazy? Call the gallery. Let them know we need the space for another auction as soon as possible.”

“For one painting? What are we going to fill with?”

“Look around.” Karen said. “This room’s filled with paintings.”

“Destroyed paintings that nobody liked a week ago. Should I at least have them repaired?”

“Oh heavens no. Leave them as they are. Those art snobs may not have liked them before, but now they’re filled with the artist’s dying rage. They eat that crap up. And this monstrosity will be the jewel in the crown. Thank you Andy. You’ve just made me a very rich woman.” Karen said, laughing.

Anton was forced to watch as the cops came and the coroner loaded up his body. As his landlord sneaked in and raided his private possessions. And finally, as his paintings were repaired with strips of duct tape and loaded up before he was finally snatched up and put in the crate with the rest of them.

The auction went well. Anton watched in an amazed sort of rage as people paid thousands of dollars for paintings he hadn’t been able to get five for just a few weeks before.

Anton was bought for an ungodly amount and hung on the bedroom wall of an elderly art collector who liked to wander his house naked.

.     .     .

So that’s it for this week. I know some of you might not find the ending very scary, but I can’t think of many things more scary than that. Anyway, I hope you liked it. I’ll see you next week with another Flash Fiction Friday.

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

 

What’s Up Wednesday: A Breakdown, Home Free, & Bookapalooza

Hey guys. I guess it’s that time again where I tell you about my week.

To be honest, the few days between my last post and the weekend were relatively uneventful. I worked, I tried unsuccessfully to get the house clean, and I worked again.

Then on Saturday, we started the day by haunting our house for Halloween. Due to a death in the family a year ago, we didn’t do much to celebrate our favorite holiday, so I was determined to be prepared for it this year. We hung up all of our decorations, including several decals which were meant to stick to the wall, but are already peeling off. Still, we got the house relatively spooky.

After that, it being possibly one of the last truly gorgeous days of the year, I jumped on the new bike to take it for a good test ride. Since my old bike just wasn’t good at keeping up, I jumped on the freeway and really let her rip. Since Shannon and my mom read this blog, I won’t say how fast I got it up to, but I chickened out before coming anywhere near its top speed.

Once I got into Sturgis, I took it to the parts shop both to show it off and look at accessories. It’s nice having a bike made within the past twenty years. You can actually still get parts for it.

After spending time at the parts shop, I decided to take the long way home via Vanocker Canyon, a beautiful ride through the black hills.

As I was leaving Sturgis, my speedometer stopped working. Now if I had been smart, I would have taken it to a friend’s house and left it there until I could arrange a trailer to take it home, but I wasn’t about to let a little mechanical trouble ruin my day, so on up the canyon I went. (Yes, I’m stupid sometimes.) I was absolutely loving the way the new bike took the turns. I felt much braver on this one than on my old bike because it sits lower and has a heavier, more stable base.

Then, about ten miles in, the engine started to sputter. Again, I should have turned around and nursed it back to town, but I didn’t. I hoped it was just a hiccup that would even out, but it didn’t. After about another mile, it died completely. I coasted as far as I could and then sat there on the side of the road for a few minutes, begging it to start, but I was getting absolutely nothing at all from the starter switch. I called Shannon to ask her to get ahold of a friend of ours who could rescue me with his trailer. Luckily I had just enough signal to make the call. I was told it would be about forty-five minutes. Luckily he was available to come to the rescue at all.

As I waited, I got a brilliant idea. I would turn around and push it back up the hill I had just coasted down. Beyond that hill was a ten percent grade for a good couple of miles. I figured if I could get it rolling fast enough, I might just be able to pop-start it. It took me what seemed like forever, but I finally crested the hill pushing my beast and jumped on. After catching my breath, I let go of the brake and began to coast. I started going faster and faster. I still had no speedometer, but I felt like I must be going at least the posted speed. I popped it into gear and let go of the clutch. The engine felt like it revved to life. I squeezed the clutch lever back in, hoping to heat the engine running, but nothing. Again and again I tried, but no luck. My new baby was well and truly dead.

Finally, the ten-percent grade leveled out and once again I found myself on the side of the road. Unfortunately, while I was a little closer to town, I didn’t have any shade in my new location. I probably should have just stayed put. I did have several people stop and ask if I needed help, but I told them I was good. Sitting there waiting, I came to the conclusion that since I knew for a fact the battery had a full charge when I left the house, there must be something wrong with the charging system.

At least I got a little laugh while I waited when a big bad biker passed me on his Harley blasting the new T-Swift song.

Not too long after, the cavalry arrived. I still can’t thank him enough. I’m not sure what I would have done otherwise. We got the bike loaded up fairly quickly considering how heavy it is, and he drove me home.

With the bike stored safely in the garage for another day, I quickly bathed and dressed to go see Home Free.

They were absolutely amazing to watch, even if our typically choice seats were ruined due to the venue adding extra folding chairs right in front of us.

Still, it was an amazing show.

After the show, we went to the dinner we were forced to miss due to my mechanical mishap.

On Sunday, it was time for one of my favorite days of the year. The day which we’ve come to call bookapalooza. It’s the day that Shannon, my librarian girlfriend, has to spend her yearly budget. It’s so much fun to walk into a bookstore and buy several hundred dollars worth of books. I had meant to get a picture of them all, but I forgot. Unfortunately, my brilliant idea to push my bike the day before got my back hurting again. Luckily it’s not as bad as it was.

And really, that’s about been my week. I’m still trying to get into a regular writing schedule, but it seems there’s always something I need to do. Thankfully, the hotel is starting to calm down so I can start getting some writing done there at least. I’m almost looking forward to winter because then people won’t expect me to leave the house so much. I said ALMOST, nature. Don’t make with the snow just yet.

Oh yes, one more exciting thing. My brother has decided to take me to Ireland for my birthday in February, so I’m thrilled at the thought of seeing the motherland. Hopefully it doesn’t take too long for my passport renewal to go through.

Well, that’s about it. I’m still working on that Halloween story for you guys. It’s jut not coming out quite the way I want it so far. Hopefully it’ll be out before the 31st. But hey, if it’s not, I can just say I’m imitating the Simpsons.

I’ll see you guys soon.

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

 

 

What’s Up Wednesday: Finally Healed & A New Set Of Wheels

Hey guys. I know I’ve promised this before, but I think I’m actually back this time. You see, something amazing has happened this week. I’ve experienced the first couple of pain-free days I’ve had in months. Sure, the back will twinge a little if I move wrong or try to pick up something I shouldn’t, but over all, I’m feeling pretty much back to normal.

As usual, the South Dakota Festival Of Books was a blast. First of all, I think Deadwood is one of the prettiest towns in the Black Hills. Not to mention the fact that it’s always fun to get together with fellow book lovers and authors. Not only did I get to see friends like Sandra Brannan, Anne Charles and Adrian Ludens, I got to meet many more new friends and some potential connections for book cover artists. We added a few volumes to our autographed copies shelf. Hopefully I’ll have a book to sell myself the next time it comes around.

I’ve been submitting more short stories for publication, but no bites so far. To be fair, I’m doing things a little backward and starting at the top of the list and working my way down. No sense selling a story for peanuts when one of the big names might want to actually pay for it. Besides, I’m getting a little old for that starting at the bottom stuff. I’m looking forward to the day I can report my first sale to you. I’m confident my writing is up to par, it’s just that competition is so fierce for even the non-paying markets.

I do have to confess that work on the novels isn’t going as smoothly as I had hoped it would. I would give excuses as to why, but they all come down to the same evil word that has plagued artists from the dawn of time. PROCRASTINATION. I can’t help but look at the amount of work involved in even finishing a first draft and think, “I just don’t have it in me tonight/today. I’ll do it tomorrow.” Then I sit around and binge Netflix.

The good news is, I’m almost caught up on Supernatural. Of course, the new season starts this month.

The bad news is July and Thrillerfest/Pitchfest will be here before I know it. I don’t want to go empty handed again.

In personal news, I finally got myself a new bike and it’s a monster straight from the gates of hell. Of course I mean that in the best possible way.

I went from this rather anemic ’83 vt500.

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To this beastly ’02 VTX 1800.

vtx1800 medium

It’s hard to tell from a picture, but this thing is a beast. If you don’t believe me, there are plenty of videos on YouTube of them eating Harleys alive. I actually have to be careful about how hard I twist the throttle, because the torque makes me feel like I’m going to slide off the back. I love it. It’s also much more comfortable than my little 500. My legs are out in front of me instead of tucked under like they are on the 500.

That’s not to say I’m not going to still ride the 500. The 1800 obviously doesn’t get nearly the gas mileage the 500 does, so I’m probably going to use the 500 for running around town and to work and back during the summer. Except for during Sturgis. I can’t wait to show this monster off to all the Harley guys.

Unfortunately, last night was the first freeze, so riding season is just about over. Still, I wouldn’t have gotten such a great deal otherwise.

That’s about it for this week. I’ll hopefully be back next week with another update. I’m also working on something spooky to post for a FFF sometime in the month of October, so keep an eye out for that.

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

 

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

What’s Up Wednesday: I Want It All, And I Want It Now!!!

I’m back for real this time. At least I think I am unless I have another setback. But I really feel that I’m not just able, but eager to get back to work. There are even times when I don’t feel any discomfort in my back at all. It’s probably time to give yoga a serious try.

Anyway, now to the regularly scheduled post.

Based on the title, you might be assuming that I’ve been listening to a lot of Queen lately. Particularly this song.

While Queen is one of my favorite bands of all time, that just isn’t the case. Actually, I’ve been on an 80’s glam/hair rock kick for pretty much the past month. Although I guess you could technically put Queen in that group, (if you’re a dick,) but I’m talking about bands more like Poison and Motley Crue.

Anyway, the point is, I haven’t been listening to Queen lately. In fact, I hadn’t heard “I Want It All” in months. That just happens to be the song that plays on an endless loop in my head whenever my brain is trying to tell me it’s time to really grind. I’m finally feeling good enough that all I want to do is sit down in my office and put some serious words on the page.

It’s a good thing I’m feeling this way, because as of yesterday we are ten months away from Thrillerfest 2018, and more importantly, Pitchfest. I have every intention of actually having something finished by then. Hopefully multiple somethings. I am going to have a manuscript that, when an agent says yes, I can send off right away instead of having to make excuses as to why it isn’t ready like I did in 2016. We’ll call that one a trial run. Practice.

Now before you get too excited, keep in mind that this blog post is the first bit of actual writing I’ve done all week. I know it’s still a form of procrastination, but I just had to get my office back in order. Most of the last month has been spent flat on my back on the couch in there bingeing Supernatural. Needless to say, it was a disaster. I’m proud to say that, as of yesterday, I’ve gotten it back in ship shape and I’m ready to get to work. Now I just have to talk myself into spending my time at the hotel as productive as I plan to be while at home.

I have to. Especially since I’m considering adding yet another project to my inbox. I’ve never tried to write a murder mystery, but I’ve read plenty and I have a great main character in mind. Any murder/mystery/police-procedural fans out there?

Now for a bit of bad news. As much as I know you guys seem to like them, I can’t promise to put out a Flash Fiction Friday every week. (Not that I really made good on that promise anyway.) Don’t get me wrong. I will try to write them as often as possible, but I have to really focus on getting my novels and longer shorts done so I can submit them.

I think I’m going to give journaling a go yet again. I’ve tried it several times over the years, but I’ve never been able to stick with it. I’m considering making it part of my writing time each day. Jut a little warm up while I drink my “morning” coffee to get the brain working. I have an awesome leather-bound journal that’s just going to waste. I might as well use it.

I’ll probably put my daily word count in it just to keep me honest.

I know it’s probably too early in my career to even think about this. I’m not sure I even have “fans”. But I’m considering tarting a Patreon page. Would anyone be interested in supporting me? If so, what kind of rewards would you like to see? I’m thinking maybe exclusive access to short stories months before they’re seen anywhere else. Maybe a free signed copy of my book when it comes out, but I’m open to suggestions. I hate to seem like a greedy bastard, but the money sure would help and it would give me more time to write. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Anyway, I think that’s about all I’ve got for you this week. I’m probably forgetting loads of stuff, but there’s always next week.

I will try to put something up on Friday. Just don’t hate me if I don’t get around to it.

I realize that even though I may want it now, it’s going to take some time. Still, wanting it now means that I need to do my damnedest to get it done as soon as possible.

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

What’s Up Whenever: Fighting The Pain

So I’m still dealing with this stupid back injury.

Not me, but an accurate representation of what I look like when I sit down to write.

I keep hoping that it’ll get better and I can get back to work, but it seems that just when I think it’s healing, I have some sort of setback and end up in pain again. It’s really frustrating. I want to start working again, but the pain keeps my brain from functioning properly.

That being said, today I feel like I might actually be pulling out of it.

(Knocks on head firmly.)

There’s still a little stiffness in my lower back and I think the nerve is still trapped, but yesterday was the first day I’ve slept really well in a long time because I wasn’t in too much pain. As you probably noticed, I missed FFF once again. That’s because I had a bit of a setback and found myself in pain again so I wasn’t able to even think up a story, much less write one.

The good news is, now that I can think, I have an idea for a story. Well, I don’t actually know what the story is just yet, but I have a great opening scene in my head. Look for it to drop tomorrow, gods willing.

Tomorrow and Saturday, I will be attending the Great American Book Festival.

The Great American Book Festival, Rapid City, South Dakota. The region’s largest book festival, brought to you by Literary Classics, an organization dedicated to promoting excellence in literature since 2010. Labor Day Weekend, Main Street Square, Downtown Rapid City, SD

Friday is sort of a mini writer’s conference followed by a pub crawl, then Saturday is open to the public. It should be a lot of fun. I’ll take my camera so that hopefully I can get at least a little footage.

I’ve been neglecting my YouTube channel as of late. I want to start doing writing advice on it once a week, but I also have another idea for videos. I was thinking that maybe once a week, I would record myself reading one of my FFF stories. Would you be interested in seeing something like that? Please let me know in the comments.

Most of my time the past week has been devoted to resting and trying to heal, so unless you want to hear me babble about the three seasons of “Supernatural” I’ve binged while flat on my back, that’s about all I’ve got for you today.

I’m pretty confident that I’ll have a story for you tomorrow so stay tuned for that.

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

What’s Up Thursday: Rejection

What’s up, guys. It’s Thursday.

I know I’m a day late this week. That’s because yesterday kind of sucked.

Before I get into that, let me tell you about the week that led up to yesterday.

First off, I missed Flash Fiction Friday yet again. I have no real excuse, other than the fact that y back was still hurting a bit, but that’s not really an excuse, it was down to a dull throb at that point. The fact of the matter is, I just got lazy. I didn’t really have the energy to do much of anything. Injury can really wear you out.

Over the weekend, Shannon and I almost got caught up on Doctor Who. we still have three episodes to go, but should be able to knock those out this weekend. Hopefully we’ll also have time to binge at least part of AHS Roanoke as well.

Monday,  I actually felt mostly better. Well, at least I could walk. I still felt as if someone was sticking a knife in my lower back and twisting it, but it was the kind of hurt that tells you you’re on the mend. I felt so much better in fact, that after I got off work, while waiting for the celestial festivities, I decided to catch up on the housework I hadn’t been able to do for the previous month. This proved to be a mistake. By the time I finished, my back was screaming. But hey, at least the house was semi-clean. I then went outside and read while I waited to watch the eclipse through my trusty welding mask.

Tuesday, I attended the August meeting of the Black Hills Writer’s Group. We spent most of the meeting discussing the future of the group. I think we made some positive steps. If you happen to be a writer in the black hills area, Check us out at http://blackhillswritersgroup.org

And that brings us to Wednesday. I suppose I should start at the beginning. I got off work ready for my physical therapy appointment which would hopefully help me fix my back for good. On the way there, I took a wrong turn and found myself in suburban hell. It really was a nice looking residential area. The only problem was, for the life of me, I could not find my way out of it. I kept expecting to come out onto a main road, but it took quite awhile to find my out of it. What’s worse, it seemed like every street went uphill at a fairly sharp grade. I can’t imagine how much winters must suck. Anyway, from the constant climbing and the fact that it’s been a while since I’ve checked my coolant levels, my suv started to overheat.

I finally found my way out of my private hell and found the PT office without overheating. I filled out my paperwork and sat down to wait. While I waited, I decided to check my e-mail. When I opened the app, I was excited to see a response for two of the stories I had submitted for publication. As you might have guessed, they were both rejections. Now I know getting rejected is part of the process, but it still felt like, well, rejection.

As I was still processing this information, I was taken back into an exam room and told the doctor would be in shortly. I waited patiently, and after a few minutes, the door opens, but it isn’t the doctor. It’s one of the receptionists to tell me that my insurance won’t cover the two to three hundred dollar bill for my visit. They would however put the cost toward my deductible. Translation, unless something major happens to me in the next couple of months, I would have to pay for it myself. Instead, I chose to walk out and find the exact same stretches and exercises on YouTube.

Needless to say, by the time I got home, I was pretty angry and disheartened and just didn’t have it in me to write a blog. I hope you can forgive me. Hopefully next week will go smoother. Now, I have to find new markets to send my orphaned stories to. Hopefully I’ll see you on Friday.

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

 

What’s Up Wednesday: Working Through The Pain

Well, I’m back.

I wish I could say that everything was back to normal, but I’d be lying.

For those of you who don’t know, I threw out my back once again. It seems like I do it at least once every summer. This time I did it while moving a refrigerator. The worst part is, that was only a minor strain. Unfortunately, as I was trying to stretch it out, I managed to pinch my sciatic nerve. After that, I could barely walk. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to take time off, and to be honest, I was going to be miserable either way, so I decided to get paid for being miserable. That being said, I spent more than one night in tears from the pain.

My back still hurts. I can’t sleep because I can’t find a position that doesn’t hurt. If I’m on my feet for more than a couple of minutes, my leg starts to cramp.

Still, the pain has lessened to the point where I can actually think when I’m sitting in front of my computer, something that was utterly impossible last week, so thank god for small miracles as they say.

Unfortunately, I missed most of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this year. Other than Halloween, it’s probably my favorite event of the year. If you don’t know what Sturgis is, imagine a sleepy little South Dakota town being suddenly overrun with hundreds-of-thousands of bikers from all over the world. That happens the first full week of August every year and it’s a great party. I usually spend as much time as possible up there. Sadly, this year I spent most of the week flat on my back wishing the pain away. At least I finally made it up there on Saturday.

Video Evidence That I Was There

 

Okay, enough bellyaching. Now that I can actually think straight, it’s back to writing. I’m hoping to have a few things ready to publish very soon. Not that I’m in it strictly for the money, but I have a certain monthly amount that I would like my writing to bring in that would make my life much easier and I think I’d be much more productive.

Anyway, that’s your update on me for the week. I’m already working on my piece for Friday, so be sure to check in for that.

As always, I’d love to answer your questions. I’d prefer they be on writing, but I can take a shot at any life questions you might have. Just don’t blame me for the outcome.

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 13: Lucky Day

Hey guys. Sorry for being a day late this week. This being the thirteenth installment of Flash Fitction Friday, I wanted to do something on the theme of luck. Of course the first thing I thought of when I thought of luck was gambling. Unfortunately, I haven’t spent much time in casinos, so this one took a little more research than usual. Anyway, I call this one…

Lucky Day

“Let it Ride!” He shouted once again, earning him cheers from the crowd gathered around to watch and an eye roll from the boxman.

Jake couldn’t believe his luck. Not that he didn’t believe in it. He’d had more than his fair share. It was just that in his case, it was usually bad.

Jake shook the dice and let them roll from his fingers. He didn’t even bother to look as they bounced along the green felt.

“Seven.” Called the stickman, almost sounding bored.

He hadn’t thought much of it when he’d put a dollar in the old lady’s cup that morning. Just trying to do what he could to help. He’d even tried to wave away the crumpled little card she’d handed him in return, but something in her eyes had made him take the well-used fortune card. ‘It’s your lucky day.’ The faded ink promised.

“Yeah, thanks.” He’d said hollowly. Jake hadn’t had a truly lucky day in his entire life.

Jake made no move to retrieve his growing pile of chips. The stickman sighed and pushed the dice back to him. He was just about to throw them when the pit boss grabbed his arm. Jake smiled as they weighed and measured the dice yet again. He laughed as one of the Casino goons patted him down looking for any sort of cheating device. Of course, he found none.

Even after verifying the dice were legit, the pit boss produced a fresh set and slapped them into Jake’s hand with a wicked smile as the crowd jeered. Jake returned it with his own heartfelt one as he turned his back to the table and tossed the fresh dice over his shoulder.

“Eleven.” The stickman yelled.

The pit boss turned visibly red. Jake knew he was pressing his luck. Not so much with the dice, he knew his luck was solid there. The casino’s patience, however, was probably running out. Looking at his towering stack of chips, Jake knew he must be close to breaking the bank.

“Come on, Jake. Don’t you think you’ve won enough?” His friend Eddie asked, looking nervously at the pit boss who was now accompanied by three goons.

“Just a couple more rolls, then I’ll stop. I promise. It’s just nice to know what it’s like to be lucky for once.”

“I really think…” Eddie started.

“Okay, fine. Just one more, then I’m done.” He raised his voice so the crowd could hear. “Okay folks, last roll. All or nothing.”

The crowd cheered. Jake did a final little dance with the dice, spun around and threw them. He smiled as they came to a rest, sure of his victory.

“Snakeeyes. Craps!” Shouted the stickman.

Jake stood in stunned silence, trying to process what was happening as the stickman began raking in Jake’s towering pile of chips and the crowd melted away, including the gorgeous blonde who had been at his shoulder all night. He took the card out of his pocket and looked at it. ‘Not all that glitters is gold.’ It now read. He grabbed Eddie by the shoulder.

“What time is it?” Jake demanded.

Eddie fumbled with his phone for a moment.

“Just past midnight.”

Jake couldn’t help but laugh. Lady luck was sure as hell punctual.

“I guess that’s why they don’t have clocks in casinos.” Jake chuckled.

“Man Jake. All that money, just gone like that. You could have been rich. I mean, I guess technically you were rich for a little while. Now it’s all gone.”

“Eddie, I’m unlucky, not an idiot.” Jake said, reaching into his pocket and producing a handful of orange chips, each worth a thousand dollars. He flipped one to Eddie. “Come on. Let’s go cash out.”

.     .     .

So that’s it for this week. I wish it weren’t the case, but I can definitely relate to our protagonist.

I’ll see you again next Wednesday with another edition of What’s Up Wednesday. I still want to start answering your questions, so please send them to me at any of these places.

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 .

What’s Up Wednesday: Gremlin Attack!!!

Hey guys.

You might have noticed that I didn’t post anything last week. That’s because, to be perfectly honest, it’s been one hell of  a week.

Like most of the country, we’ve been suffering from a killer heat wave. I think today was the first day below ninety in weeks and we’ve had several hundred plus days.

This is where the gremlins come in.

I thought my whiskey decanter was getting a little low.

So far this summer, I’ve already had to fix my refrigerator. Then my water heater broke. I called a plumber to fix it, but I just didn’t have the money to have him fix it properly, so he did what he could to get it working again with the caveat that his fix might not last.

Then, on one of the hottest days of the summer, our beloved air conditioner broke. Technically, it still worked. It would just blow a breaker every time the compressor tried to come on. Now, to be fair, after a little research, I discovered that the unit was made in either ’83 or ’84. (About the time the Gremlins movie came out, actually. Coincidence?) Still, it came at the worst possible time. We were hoping it would last us through the summer so that we could install central air next spring.

Unfortunately, our dreams of sinful central air were dashed by the demise of our wall unit. We decided we couldn’t go the rest of the summer without air conditioning, so we scrambled to find a suitable replacement.

While we waited for the new air conditioner to arrive, guess what. That’s right, our water heater went out again. Luckily, I have the internet. With the help of Google and YouTube, I figured out how to install a new pilot light assembly and found one for thirty dollars as opposed the the hundred and fifty the plumber wanted to charge me just for the part.

Unfortunately, this too had to be ordered.

What with the house being a sweltering oven, and not being able to get properly clean, I just couldn’t keep my mind on creating stories. Not to mention, I was concentrating on researching home repairs. A wise man once said, if you’re going to own a home, either make enough money to hire a handyman or learn to be one yourself. (I’m not sure if that man was me or someone I heard it from.)

The new air conditioner arrived last Thursday and with the help of my younger, much stronger cousin, we got it in without too much trouble, so the weekend was nice and cool in our home.

Then on Saturday, I got to move two refrigerators. My father-in-law’s fridge has been broken for a while. We have been looking for a decent used one that we could afford and finally found one, but the clock was ticking to get it before someone else claimed it. We got the old one out of the house and put the new one in fairly easily. It was only when I was lifting the old one into the truck that I felt a twinge in my back.

The part for the water heater arrived on Monday, but I was too sore and broken to put it in until Tuesday. Luckily, once I finally got to it, it was a fairly easy install. Getting up off the floor when I was done was actually the hardest part. So now we have hot water again and my back is thanking my mom for installing a whirlpool bath when she owned the house.

So that’s been my week. We have cool air and hot water again and I’m praying the gremlins leave us alone for a while. I knew when we bought the house that things were going to break on occasion. I just didn’t expect everything to break at once. I wonder if you can get a house sized gremlin bell.

So that’s about it for this week. Provided nothing else breaks, I’ll post a new story on Friday.

As always, check me out 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 .

More is coming soon, as long as things quit breaking.