Free short stories about Generation End

Archive for the ‘Surface Children’ Category

WATCHING CAROL SPIN

watching-carol-spin

This is my second last story about Carol. It starts off quite simply, and it ends quite simply. It starts at South Bank, during an evening, a Wednesday, with the both of us in a large Ferris wheel. I’d been with Carol since the night before, and during that time I’d made her breakfast and she’d helped me buy some shoes and we’d explored the art gallery and taken photos around the place and all that other bullshit.

“You know there’s a story in my book about this Ferris wheel.” We were right at the top when I told her this. “It was about me and an ex girlfriend, who’s kind of now a friend.”

“I don’t care about your ex girlfriends who are kind of now your friends.”

“Look out at the city,” I quickly changed the subject, peering out the window. “A hundred years from now it’ll be a completely different scene.”

“Every second is a completely different scene.”

“Have you ever considered the importance of it all? I mean, how significant are we really in this universe? We put ourselves on these pedestals, but who gave us the right to do so?”

“I think it’s all so magnificent,” Carol said, leaning against my shoulder. “I have a body and a mind that lets me be completely detached to the complexities of this universe and dedicate an entire second, an entire hour and even an entire day to simply being with you – even if I know I’ll never get this time back again. Isn’t it all so magnificent, Dean?”

The both of us were drunk on each other.

We left the Ferris wheel and entered a restaurant. For a while, she bothered me because she’d be tapping away at her phone without telling me what she was doing. In the end, I found out she was making sure there was enough money in her bank account so she could secretly pay for both of our meals.

We returned to my place and drank, and drank, and drank. She picked up my phone, deleted some photos and put on Spotify. She put on Regina Spektor, Samson, and she spun around before tripping over. I watched her, laughing, drinking, and she stood up and slurred something I’ll never, ever remember, and if I could transport myself back to that moment just to watch her again, I’d probably do it, but then I guess there’s something awfully taboo about longing for something clearly owned by the past. Carol brushed her teeth, and so did I, and she showered, and so did I, and she smiled, and so did I.

 

_

Book I’m thinking of reading: Infinite Jest

 

Book Recommendations / Book Suggestions

These books have shaped me in one way or another. In a way, these books may shape you, too. So read them at your own risk.

Norwegian Wood

book recommendation - Norwegian Wood Haruki Murakami

By Haruki Murakami. I read this when I was freshly dumped and overseas, on my own. Murakami writes a lot of weird shit, but Norwegian Wood seems to be one of his most grounded books. My favourite part of the book is near the end, with the woman and the guitar.

Read Norwegian Wood.

Ham on Rye

book recommendation - Ham on Rye Charles Bukowski

By Charles Bukowski. I was a bit of a stranger to Bukowski until I stumbled into another book of his, Women. The first chapter of this book was what seduced me, and the hilarious chapter about the woman in the swimming pool kept me going.

Read Ham on Rye.

1984

book recommendation -1985 by george orwell

Soviet Russia for Dummies.

Read 1984.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (not the movie)

book recommendation - Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseJonathan Safran Foer

By Jonathan Safran Foer. I read this book when I was a little younger and couldn’t let go of it. The story of the grandparents and the way the words spill to form something else completely made me fall in love with the art of love itself. I wonder if he’ll ever write another book.

Glamorama

book recommendation - Glamorama Bret Easton Ellis

The first book I’ve read by Bret Easton Ellis. What an age to read it, too – I read it when I was twelve.

Read Glamorama.

Watchmen

book recommendation - The Watchmen Alan Moore Dave Gibbons

By Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I’ve read plenty of graphic novels, but this is the only one I can clearly remember. My favourite part? Dr. Manhattan’s part.

Read Watchmen.

The Little Prince

book recommendation - The Little Prince

I know, it’s such a typical book to like. The rose, as irritating as she was, is my favourite character. An ex-girlfriend of mine wrote her own version of the Little Prince once and gave it to me as a present. I still have it, but don’t tell her that.

Read The Little Prince, and then watch the book get butchered into a cartoon.

The Rules of Attraction

book recommendation - Rules of Attraction Bret Easton Ellis

Also by Bret Easton Ellis. I watched the movie first (and, after reading it, prefer it slightly over the book). I was eighteen or something, and I was drunk, and some friends invited me to the movies to watch it. The first scene with the vomiting sobered me up, and the snow teardrop near the end got me drunk all over again. After the movie we drove to along the highway and the car broke down so we sat in the darkness of the car, talking about things I’ll no longer remember. We probably spoke about books. I really don’t know. The memory might not even be real.

Have a read of The Rules of Attraction, or watch the movie.

If you want to talk more about books or recommend any of your own, you can also add me on Goodreads.

Surface Children is now out on iBookstore and Barnes & Noble

surface-children-short-stories-now-on-iBooks

Here’s some news, people. My book of short stories, Surface Children, is now out on the iBookstore for people with Apple devices, as well as other bookstores such as Barnes&Noble.

Download it here for iBooks and here for Barnes&Noble.

THE GIRL WHO WANTS ME TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY

Sara - the girl who wants me to make a lot of moneyIt’s been a while, hasn’t it? I suppose I haven’t posted in some time because I’ve fallen into the trap of working, and of boxing, and of reading a fuckload of books, and of promoting Surface Children, and of writing for a magazine. I also started doing things that writers shouldn’t do: I lessened the drinking, I began reading books on investment, I wore polo shirts. If I was in a movie, you could say that I was in the montage period of the movie where I finally decide to get my shit together. But what I can promise you is this: things have gotten better and things have gotten nowhere at the same time.

I met Sara during a group dinner. She looked good and she looked like she wasn’t trouble, which was the type of girl I needed at the time, so for a while, I ignored her and went about talking to other people. Eventually, I said hi. She told me that she works in medical research, and I told her that I write books and work in a job that’s so much more self-centred than medical research. She didn’t laugh, but she still gave me her number.

The next day, she messaged me:

“I bought your book online.”

“Fuck,” I said. “Really?”

“You write a lot of weird stuff. I mainly read personal development books.”

We went out to dinner and we talked about things and once in a while I’d remember the things that happened a few months ago and I’d become sad.

Sara’s a year younger than I am and she’s part Egyptian part Chinese or something. She was strange and great to look at. Her makeup was conservative and her jewellery was conservative and what she said, for the most part anyway, was pretty conservative. Her cheeks seemed to have this permanent rosiness to them that made her glow. She lived fifteen minutes away from me and has only ever had one job in her entire life.

After drinking tea for a while Sara lowered her voice, leant forward and told me that she did a lot of study on semen, and said that men actually ejaculate a lot of abnormal semen.

“That’s great to hear,” I said.

“Is it really great to hear?”

“It’s funny how semen is this magical ingredient that creates human beings, and us men, we shoot it everywhere: faces, stomachs, floors, fuckin’ everywhere…”

“Don’t forget inside socks.”

“Now that’s just crude.”

The truth was, Sara hated her job. What she really wanted to get into was real estate. She told me that she didn’t want to work anymore, that she just wanted to start a business in property. She had three properties already, and she was thinking of her fourth. Her next goal was to buy a BMW because she promised herself she’d buy a BMW outright before she turned thirty. I had no idea what I was getting into and she probably had no idea what she was getting into either. For the first time in my life I felt like one of those adults I used to despise: I had a 9-5, I went on dinner dates and talked about property investment, I had a book on Warren Buffet, I said the word “crude” in conversations, I pretended to understand wine. Had I grown the hell up… or was this all a lie?

I dropped her to her home, and during the drive to her home I told her that I liked her – she said nothing, but she smiled. I drove home and watched Eraserhead on my couch before dropping the remote and falling into a deep and normal sleep where I probably dreamt about flying or something typical like that.

A POINTLESS THEORY ABOUT LOVE

Ariel with bearThings weren’t going so well for Ariel and I so she flew us both to Melbourne for two days. We caught the SkyBus to our hotel and checked in and when we dropped our bags on the carpet we looked at each other and laughed for no reason; she said she was tired, but the day was never coming back again so we better make the most of it. I told her that days do happen again, that they happen again and again and again, that in fact I had the exact same Wednesday last week. She didn’t reply. I lay on the bed as she walked into the shower and just watched the ceiling for a while before sitting back up to stare at the TV.

We left the hotel, entered Little Collins Street, bought a few expensive pizzas.

“You know what I like about Melbourne?” she asked me.

“What?”

“The people,” she smiled.

“The hell you on about? We haven’t spoken to one person yet.”

We visited a few places I’d been to before: the library, a gallery, a tourist information centre, the QV building, Off Ya Tree, some side streets with graffiti, about a thousand Pie Faces; we met a busker who had a sign in front of him that said, JUST THE TIP, I SWEAR, and he told us that a feminist threatened him for an hour because the sign contained a joke about rape. We returned to the tourist information centre and considered booking a tour to see the penguins, but changed our mind. We went to a café: she ordered a cup of mocha and I ordered wine.

“Are you happy?” she asked me.

“Are you?”

“Right now, I’m happy.”

Like always, we spoke about our dreams. She told me about the properties she was going to have all over the world and I told her about the airplanes I was going to have. She told me that she wanted Gucci bags, Dolce & Gabbana bags, a room full of shoes. I told her that I wanted to like, build a school or something, for you know, for where the poor people live. She told me that she was going to buy a unit for her aunt and a bunch of units for her cousins. I told her about swimming with a ukulele in a large swimming pool, about a large bed, about stress-free sex, blue skies, dark skies, the sun going up and down and left and right, stars falling like thumbtacks and how in the future, when I walk into any store, I’ll no longer look at price tags. Then she told me about how her boss was still threatening her for only taking on a small number of clients because of me, that she used up a large portion of her savings for this trip. Her forehead creased, she slouched, she looked into her drink. I told her that she shouldn’t have flown us here. I also told her that I wasn’t working anymore. I said, “We just have to win the lotto and we can get out of this mess.” And she put her hand on mine and told me to never put my hope in easy money.

It was evening by the time we finished and there were buskers everywhere. They danced, they sang, they played the guitar. After eating at this Vietnamese restaurant that Bill Clinton had apparently once eaten in we went for a walk and found this crowded rooftop bar and ordered wine. “Congratulations, Dean,” Ariel said, raising her glass to me, and I asked, “Why?” and she said, “For publishing your first book. I’m so proud of you.” We drank some more, but by ten we were no longer in the mood. We stumbled back to the hotel room. I threw her on the bed and took her shoes off. I took off mine. I lay next to her and we looked at each other. I was tired and the wine had made me drowsy. She asked me if I still had the bear and the ring she gave me, and I told her that I did. “My bear is in my purse and I’m wearing my ring. Where did you place yours?” When I didn’t reply she asked me if I was seeing other girls now to get back at her for everything she was doing with her clients and I told her that I wasn’t. A tear fell out of her eye. She pushed my hand away, pulled a tissue out of her purse. She wiped her eyes. “We’re going to have to end this,” she mumbled. “What?” was all I could ask her before eventually closing my eyes and falling asleep to dream about something I no longer remember. The bear was in my room. The ring was in my pocket.

 

***

 

NEWS: My book of short stories, Surface Children, is now available on Amazon.

Check it out here.

HOW TO WRITE A BOOK AND NOT GET PUBLISHED

Rejection letter - Generation End

When I remember myself and when I remember my life it will all be portrayed in black and white. It won’t be in HD or 3D and it’ll be lower than low budget; the screen quality will be a little fuzzy and sometimes you’ll have to bang the screen to see it properly. A lot of the scenes, the scenes that weren’t really integral to the plot anyway, will be edited out. But they’ll still leave some repetitive bits and pieces in there to make it look kind of indie, like the scenes of me driving for hours, or the scenes of me just staring at the ceiling, or the scenes of me chucking a shit.

I’ve written about four or five novels, all unpublished and all repeatedly rejected by publishers and literary agents. For money, I’ve taken up a whole range of jobs.  I’ve delivered pizzas. I’ve worked in a butcher shop, a sushi shop, a noodle shop; I’ve worked as a copywriter for a major corporation. I hated them all.

Someone, I forgot who, once told me to keep writing books even if no one’s reading them. There’s a lot about what I do that I don’t often tell you about. In between all of my moments of love and loss and all that other shit are hours and hours of me sitting in front of a laptop, typing, or hours and hours of me writing things on napkins while I’m out, or several evenings when I tell people I can’t join them because I have to stay home to write or edit or work on a cover letter for a literary agent. Although I write about a lot of depressing things, I have to remain optimistic. Heartache may serve as fantastic fertiliser for good work, but all artists need optimism, no matter how unattractive it may be – our lives literally depend on it. Surface Children is the first “book” I’ll be publishing on my own. I know I keep saying this, but it’s almost done.

Anyway I only had one source of income and I fucked it up. I lost my only client – the two women who were paying me good money to write for them every week. Apparently I’d been missing all of my deadlines and had been drunkenly texting one of them, the one with the bigger ears, at four in the morning too often. They fired me via email.

“Ariel?”

“Yeah?”

“Did I wake you up?”

“You did,” she said softly. She was quiet for a while and I pictured her lying there with her eyes still closed. Eventually: “What time is it?”

“How the hell should I know?”

“Are you still coming by the bar tonight?”

I looked downwards, at me knee. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll see you tonight.”

I picked my car keys up and drove to a shopping centre. I walked to an ATM and checked my account balance: there wasn’t much left. I just stared at the screen, at the numbers and the pixels, until someone behind me cleared their throat. I withdrew three hundred dollars to pay for Ariel for the evening and sat down in the food court somewhere and did nothing.

“Hey, stranger.”

I looked up. It was the girl from the clothing store, Jamie. “Hey.”

She looked at the empty table in front of me. “Having fun not eating lunch?”

“You can join me if you want.”

“My break’s nearly over,” she said, but sat down in front of me anyway. “You look sad.”

“Who doesn’t?”

“You’re not working today?”

I crossed my arms. “I don’t think I’m cut for work. I don’t like people baiting me with money to dictate how I spend the rest of my life.”

“You’re going to have to support a family with that mindset one day.”

I didn’t reply.

“You should start your own business,” she said finally.

“Want to have a drink with me?”

She looked at her watch. “Come get me at five? We can like, drink then.”

I drove to some kind of RSL club, went to the pokies and lost ten dollars. I went to the bar and ordered a house red, followed by a whiskey dry, followed by another house red. I drove home, went online and looked at job listings. I closed the window and went to the Centrelink website and started writing an application for income support but closed the window again. I read a book, threw it against the wall, picked it up, threw it against the wall again. I fell asleep, woke up and drove to the shopping centre and picked Jamie up at five forty. We drove, slowly, to some place near the city that she heard about. We had dinner, we had lots of drinks. In the parking lot she told me that she was going to pass out soon, and I turned my phone off, and, while looking outside my windscreen, she said, “It’s funny. It’s funny how, like, you can only see the stars when it’s dark outside,” and I put a sleeping pill in her mouth before taking one for myself and we both fell asleep in my car.

 

**

SOME NEWS: I’ve almost completed editing my book of short stories, Surface Children. If you haven’t already done so, subscribe now to receive three free stories and be one of the first to find out of its release.