Sunday, December 29, 2013

Merry Dishmas!!

       It’s been a stressful holiday season for me internet.  The shopping/wrapping/shipping cycle was finished about half an hour before the first Christmas Eve party.  In between all the usual time demands, my fiancĂ©e and I looked for a new apartment, my sister visited with her kids, both of my parents got the flu (not at the same time) and I forfeited a ton of sleep and time to myself.

          One of the odd consequences of that last thing?  The dishes piled up a couple of times in my sink last week.  This is really unusual for a few reasons.  One, my kitchen is super tiny, so other than coffee and cereal, I rarely cook or eat at home.  Second, I usually wash my dishes the minute I’m through with them.  It takes just a couple of minutes to wash one bowl, cup, and spoon and I like my kitchen a certain way.  But running to different stores, the post office, and a couple of apartment buildings in the same day, makes certain chores take a back seat.

          So twice this week I had twenty minutes of washing up to do, and while I was doing it, I realized I missed it.  I used to live in a giant Victorian house in Brighton with four other people, all on different schedules, all less likely to do dishes than me.  So to make morning coffee (or to just be able to find the space to clean the coffee pot) I routinely did thirty minutes of other people’s washing up every morning.  It bothered me only occasionally (finding a prized glass crushed under the melee of dishes that could have been stacked and stabilized with a moment’s thought will do that) but it was a great mental cleanser.  Every morning I would be up before everyone else, and spend half an hour mining order out of their chaos.  And every morning I would feel a small calm glow of accomplishment from it.  I hadn’t had that buzz or the quiet it stemmed from, in a long time, maybe close to a year.

          So I guess that tiny hidden bit of joy is something I’d like to relate and possibly pass on to you, oh three readers of this blog.  Now that the holiday season is finally waning, ask yourself what fun productive thing you haven’t done in a while.  The moment obligation doesn’t intrude, go do it.  Let me know if you find the same neglected joy I found.  Call that joy my gift to you.  Merry Dishmas, internet, and have a happier New Year.



·        As always, I welcome comments to this post or others on this blog.  You can comment here.  If you enjoy tweeting, I’m @TheSagest there, or if you’re old fashioned, you can mail me at
·        For those of you paying attention (all one of you): no I didn’t work on the book this month.  It’s not that I didn’t have any time at all, although it feels that way.  I’m just prioritizing family, future living conditions, and not collapsing over what is essentially a vanity project.  It’s probably the right thing to do.
·        This post was mulled over the last week, and it was quicker to compose than the others here so far.  I did use my Neil Young station on Pandora to make the writing easier.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Letter to Enter the Haggis

Hey readers (all three of you),
        One of my favorite bands is doing a concept album, songs inspired by stories of fans.  To be considered you have to write them a letter and send it in through the actual post.  I've got a bunch of stories.  I've started with the best one.  This post is just a cut & paste of the letter, more or less.  Read and enjoy it, if you can.

Friday, November 1, 2013

All Hallow's Read Entry: The Last Minutes' Meeting

The Last Minutes’ Meeting

By Kevin S. Mahoney

          The where wasn’t important.  They all met in a room.  It could have been an unused classroom, a church basement, or a rehearsal space.  There were chairs, a podium, and a microphone.  Four walls, a ceiling, a floor- there was even a way out.  Were there windows?  There seemed to be, but they didn’t open, and staring into them revealed nothing.  It was always black outside, no light or sign of movement.  It was just where they were.

          The people at each meeting varied.  There were lots of teenagers.  There were some adults.  Occasionally, a small child joined them.  Those were the hardest to deal with.  No one knew what to tell little Billy or Jill when they came to their first meeting, any more than they knew what to tell each other.  They were here, until they weren’t, and so they talked amongst themselves.  And every meeting started the same way.

          “Hello,” the slight woman would begin, “my name is Pamela.  I was murdered, just like all of you.  I was beheaded by a machete.  Do we have any new people here tonight?”  No one knew why she started every meeting.  It felt like something she had been doing for years, but of course no one could remember how long they’d been where they were.  Maybe it was something about her; she seemed prissy yet caring, the kind of wife and mother who would shriek top volume at you to take your muddy shoes off before you came inside, then hug you tightly as she served dinner.

          Silence inevitably followed.  The first timers didn’t like hearing it stated so baldly like that, and had to take stock.  The regulars were glancing around, spotting the new meat, always hoping to find a regular missing.  People did go from that place, but how and when were as big a mystery as where they all were and why they were there.

          The new meat would speak then, each in their turn.  Many never saw it coming, whatever it was.  One minute they were in the attic, then a brief moment of blackness, then here they were.  Some remembered what they were doing when their time was up.  You could always tell the teenagers who were indisposed at their critical moment.  They appeared in pairs, and most had the newfound decency to blush, before taking their turn.

          A small percentage of people had stories to tell.  They were the ones who had tried and failed.  How or who they failed varied widely.  Some died in battle against impossible monsters.  Some tried to run, but were caught.  Many fell down the stairs to their doom, high heels splintered in their rush to flee.  It was depressing.  No one came to the meeting a victor.  In a way, they were comparing different flavors of mortal misery.

          Yet, between themselves they learned things.  There were commonalities.  Certain places and times recurred.  Lots of people were doing similar distracting things when their lives were stolen from them.  No one seemed to have brought their drugs or booze along with them, but if given the chance, no one who went to one of those meetings would ever bother with either again.  Sex and death as two sides to the same coin were discussed over and over.  There were a lot of teens there; sex would have been a major interest in any case.

          The most interesting person there was Nancy.  Nancy swore up and down she knew what had happened to her.  Her father had stabbed her in the abdomen.  But to hear her tell it, it wasn’t her father at all.  It was a monster, in a dream.  She claimed to have beaten the monster years before, but he had returned, had killed again, and had gotten her at last.

          It sounded like wish fulfillment, or a crazy conspiracy theory, but parts of it checked out.  Some of the new meat that arrived after Nancy swore they knew him, that he had killed them too.  But Nancy swore she had mortally wounded the guy when she died.  It was confusing.

          Lots of things got jumbled up.  You wouldn’t believe how many of us were killed by a big man in a mask.  Some swore he had a kitchen knife, others were sure his blade was bigger than that.  The mask was different too, according to who told what story.  Some swore it looked like that old Bruin, Cheevers.  Others were sure it was something floppier, like Nixon without the big nose and all white, with eyes like empty fishbowls.  Either way, no one could stop him or escape.

          Escape is what it always came down to in the end.  Once the new members were talked out, it was always the same debate.  Why were we here?  What was keeping us?  Surely no higher power would delay us, seemingly indefinitely, forming a company united in suffering.  There had to be a way out for all of us, not just the odd soul slipping away between meetings, like a bill sliding behind the stove to be forgotten.

          Jeff and Sandra (died in the middle of “the act”, impaled by the same spear) finally figured it out.  They were arguing when the revelation came.  Some of the couples continued their relationships, as well as could be managed, death doing the parting and all. 

          “It can’t be the sex,” she said, “if that were all it was, every teenager in creation would be here.”

          “How many of them were killed in the middle of it?” he asked.  “It can’t be many.”

          “No,” she countered, “but lots of the other teens here weren’t having sex.  None of the adults were when they died.  And they’re here.  And we’re from different places, snuffed different ways, yet we’re all just as trapped.”

          “I’d snuff you, he said, “If it meant some peace and quiet, let alone an end to these meetings.  It’s horrible, going over the last minutes of each other’s lives.”

          A thunderstruck silence fell at that.  Most were shamed by the idea.  The last thing most people remembered was their murder, or the events that led up to it.  Sandra’s eyes gleamed, full of an unhealthy realization.

          “None of them.  None of them are here.” 

          She drove the front leg of her chair through Jeff’s face before anyone could move to stop her.  There was a wet thud as he went down, like someone had dropped a glazed ham onto the linoleum.  When the furor subsided, we noticed Sandra was truly gone.  Her solution occurred to the smarter ones amongst us with sickening speed.  The members of the Last Minutes turned on one another.  The successful aggressors vanished as the bodies piled up in the anonymous room.  It was a room for victims.  It had no room to spare for monsters.

          Battle is chaos.  Perhaps there were an odd number of people at our last get together.  I may have simply been overlooked somehow.  When the blood fog cleared, I was unharmed and alone, with no one to kill- no way out.  But my chair is at the ready.  Someone will come, sooner or later.




This story was the union of a few ideas.  The odd unconventional slant on familiar tropes (horror movie victims) was influenced by Penn Jillette’s new project Bad Penn and a few of the stories in Nika Harper’s new book, Echoes of Old Souls.  Interested readers can still fund the movie and buy the book, respectively.

 The fuel for this story, my second in less than twenty-four hours, was Guatemala Antigua from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.  My girl got me this stuff, and it kicks so much caffeinated ass.

 The music used to keep your humble author clicking happily away was his Cranberries station on Pandora.  You may be able to listen in here.

 Technically, I published this about two hours late.  I know the calendar says it’s November at midnight, but that depends on both the time zone of the reader and the appropriate definition of the word evening.  The sun ain’t up yet!

Feel free to comment folks, but don’t sweat my lack of computer savvy yet.  I’m still learning the Blogger interface.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Zero Note, with Rockets and Chicken Pox

Greetings internet!

        I have had the itch to write recently after doing a bit of work for Boston's Weekly Dig, here and here.  I needed a platform to post things on my own, and as much as my computer likes looking at tumblr, it won't let me post to it there, no matter how many times I hit my browser and/or laptop with a hammer.  So I will be posting here and crosslinking it with my happy fun twitter feed @TheSagest.  Posts here will be mentioned there.  So if you're a fan of me in short form, maybe I can earn your attention in the long form.

          For those of you curious as to where this is going, I have an idea for an #AllHallowsRead story that I hope to put up before 11/1/13, then maybe I'll blog about my attempts to finish a long dormant mystery novel during #NaNoWriMo.  I might post old chapters, talk about my struggles with where I left it, and let you the world know how the new struggle goes.  Interspersed with that, could be any sort of update I feel might be fun to read, from reactions to TV and movies, to chili recipes, to thoughts on things that need to come out.  So like they used to say in the papers, watch this space!

         I remember the first time I couldn't write something.  I was either in kindergarten or first grade.  It was late winter/early spring.  I managed to get the chicken pox either right before or just after spring vacation.  So I missed a week of school on top of a week off of school.  When I came back (finally) scarred and not so itchy, there were all these new papers on the wall.

        The work in question was pretty typical for our age group.  There was a generic space scene taking up maybe two thirds of the page, with lines for a descriptive sentence or two to one side.  I remember a rocket ship, with portholes and fins, a cratered surface.  I don't think there was an alien, but I bet there was a shooting star (The More You Know tm).  T he kids who weren't an itchy fevered mess that week got to color in the scene, and then describe what happened... in their own words.  And I missed out. 

        I remember gawking at the work on the wall and feeling angry and cheated.  Somehow there was a school assignment that I thought would be fun (except the coloring part- adult Kevin hates the very notion of coloring something in to be critiqued, motor skill improvement be damned.  Kid Kevin thought it was a worse chore than penmanship.) and there was nothing I could do about it.  Of course adult me realizes that if I'd bothered to ask my teacher (Mrs. Lincoff or Mrs. Bouton) if I could participate, another blank copy would have been mimeoed, and all would have been well.  But there was something very intimidating about seeing all my classmates completed work already on the wall.  It felt like there was a contest and I'd missed the entry deadline.  So I read the work of the other kids, and suffered in silence.  I have thought about that wall, and the opportunity I missed, for going on thirty years.  This blog is an attempt to prevent that from ever happening again. 

        I have stories to tell.  I have things to share.  Now we both know where to find them.


This blog post was written while listening to my Warren Zevon station on Pandora.  In theory, you can listen in here.

The photo I'm using for the moment was taken this summer at an event celebrating the return of the Twinkie.  Yes, I look like a huge dork in it.  I don't mind looking like a huge dork for free Twinkies.

The coffee that fueled this post (and the whole blog subscription process) was Charleston Coffee Roasters's Signature Blend.

If you read this far, and leave a comment, please don't comment about how you got tumblr to work on your PC.  This blog is my workaround.