Welcome! To Flowers on the Fence Country! Because special moments of life come unexpectedly, highlighted in bright spots of color. Join me in my special moments, the moments when I gather fresh flowers, in this writer's personal blog that celebrates the little moments in life that are, in fact, the big moments. It's dedicated to the memory of a friend who shared with the world the Flowers on The Fence which I now share with all of you. For Gloria. With love.
Shadow.Light.Light.Shadow.Not my usual welcome to Flowers on the Fence Country, you say?Not my usual Flowers on the Fence, either.I usually come out with the Southern charm set at full blast.None of that’s fake, you know.It’s real.It’s part of me.But like everybody else, I have other – personas.Entities.Bits and pieces of – darkness.Some folks are naturally drawn to the light.I draw a lot of ‘em.But some folks—well, they’re just naturally drawn to the dark.To the shadows.Now, this might come as a shock to y’all, but I draw a lot of those folks, too.Folks from the shadows.Like my next guest.He’s got a name of course.We all know him as Graeme Smith.But guess what?I first met him in a bar in Vladivostok.Using his real name.Shadow.Jack Shadow. You don't see him coming. You don't notice he's moving. But he's moving all right. Closer....closer.....can you see him moving closer?
Photo Used With Permission of Owner
Lady Gail. Or, as I know her, ‘what do you mean, you want me to guest on your blog, you crazy woman you?’
Maybe I’ll stick with Lady Gail. It’s shorter, and who knows when we might end up in a letter crisis. Like the oil thing, but with fewer nodding donkeys.
I first met Lady Gail (of course, that’s not her real name. If I told you her real name, she’d have to kill me. Again.) in a bar in Vladivostok. She’d just assosinat…. ossisanot…. ass-toss-er-isked…. er, she’d just pink-slipped the head of the local Origami Association. Well, more red-slipped really. Sawn off shotguns can be like that. Just another busy day at the office for an international assassin and patchwork quilting consultant. Anyway, she’d slipped in for a Vodka Moretini. The sort that says ‘hold the glass and give me the bottle – I might get into an argument’.
Anyway, we were getting along just fine until her cell phone rang. It was her next contract. Those cell phones have great screens these days, don’t they? Mind you, I take a lousy photograph, and this one was no better. But after a madcap pursuit across the Alps (we had to get them moved over to Vladivostok – the air fare would have been madness) and a Seqway chase through the sewers of Milan, we ended up at the Rickenbacker Falls. But since neither of us could play the guitar, Lady Gail just used her cell to order some more Moretinis.
She hasn’t tried to kill me since then. Well, not too often, at least. You see, she hates unfinished jobs. So there was the time in my favorite little café on the banks of the River Seine. I mean, I know she doesn’t think small, but blowing the river bank and flooding Paris so her trained sharks could swim along the Ave Victoria to get me was a little… but no matter. I was in Texas at the time, so what’s the wrong Paris between friends.
Of course, we all know what happened after that. Lady Gail’s Nobel Prize for Flower Arranging. With extra cyanide-tipped poison ivy. I always thought the cyanide was an original touch. And it got rid of the Lithuanian judge rather elegantly. That’ll teach him to ‘nul point’. Even in Lithuanian. Then there was my… um… But we mustn’t forget Lady Gail’s perfect 27.9 in the Olympic Vodka drinking. And my… er… Oh! And Lady Gail becoming President of Western Antarctica! And my… er… Right! Yes! My being invited to guest on her blog!
This is me – Graeme Smith. Writer of comic fantasy. Well, it is if you laugh when you read it :-). And this, I’m told, is the part where I’m supposed to try to talk you into buying my book. A, like, whole book. Wot I wrote.
Ain’t gonna :-P.
Actually, I’m not going to because I can’t. Not yet. ‘A Comedy of Terrors’ doesn’t come out until July. If you want to take a look at that, or the Prologue at least, you can wander by http://www.graeme-smith.net/content/comedy-terrors-sample. But you can do that later. If you want to :-). For now – for now, if I could, I’d like to get your help.
You see, some time ago I decided to write about something. Or rather, someone. I wanted to write something with a main character who had absolutely no redeeming or sympathetic characteristics whatsoever. And then to… but that would be telling. So anyway. I tried.
Apparently I failed :-P.
See, some people who’ve seen him think he’s funny. Amusing. So he has at least one redeeming characteristic :-P. But here it is. The Question. Well – not The Question. Jack hasn’t got to that yet. But a Question. Take a read, and then – would you like to read more? Is it worth carrying on with?
Don’t worry. You can say whatever you want. Right here. In the Comments. So go on. Be brave. This is a Fence. Don’t sit on it – be a Flower.
A Flower on the Fence.
PROLOGUE: LEAD GUITAR IN A LEAD ZEPPELIN
The name don't matter none.
Jack Shadow. ShadowJack. Like the lady said in the song, the name don't matter none, 'cause it's all the same. I do my job right, you ain’t never heard of me. Never met me. And them as do meet me - mostly they don’t tell anyone.
If it can hurt you, I likely used it some time. I'm the guy you passed in the street, the guy you never saw. Maybe I bummed a cigarette. Maybe I dropped some change in your tin. Maybe you were my friend. Maybe I killed you.
Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard ‘em. Every one of ‘em. They all start out the same. The jokes. " See... this guy walks into a bar...". Well, that's not me. That guy, I mean. The guy who walked into a bar. I'm the guy who walked out. No. It's not amnesia. Or at least they don't say it is. I've no mysterious past I'm running to find. Near as anyone knows, I don't have a past at all. Near as anyone knows - or admits to. I don't walk round a corner, and some guy from a car shoots at me because long ago I - well, sure. Guys shoot at me. Hell, women too. But not for long ago. Mostly for last week. Where 'last week' is just about any week you choose.
No, I just walked out of a bar. That's what they tell me, the Dragon.
The Dragon? Look it up. It’s all out there. ‘Order of the Dragon. Hell, ‘Sárkány Lovagrend’ if you speak Hungarian. Which I don’t. Yup, the Internet’s a wonderful thing. Guy who had the idea was Dragon. The Dragon loved it so much, they gave him a Special Commendation. I know that for a fact. They sent me to deliver it. The Commendation.
See, you can’t have good ideas being talked about. Ever.
Mind, I said it was out there, about the Dragon. Never said it was true. It isn’t. None of it. That’s the Dragon way too.
Oh, they looked, the Dragon. They really looked for me. Me before the bar, that is. And there isn't much the Dragon can't find if they want to. But there it is. One day, I walked out of a bar. Were there piles of dead bodies behind me? A stacked deck I was dealing, or one I was dealt? I don't know. I walked out of the damn place. I never walked back in. Just - just away.
But they were waiting, and they took me. The Dragon. They tell me they do that a lot. Wait. ‘Til the time a beat of a gnat's wing can topple an empire. Me? I guess I'm a gnat.
I walked out of a bar. The rest - the rest will be history. Some day. Not that I'll be in it. Nobody remembers the gnats. Not if they did their job right.
What's a gnat? It's like they say. If you gotta ask, I can't tell you. But maybe a story would help. Not that it ever happened of course. You comfy? Of course you are. I took care of that.
As airships go, it flew like a lump of lead. That might have had something to do with me shooting the Captain and both deck crew, and locking the hydrogen release valves wide open.
The ship had taken off with some big-ass ceremony. A guy with more money than sense had paid some guy with more sense than money to try to do what the Hindenberg had told people not to do. So the guy with no money had done some thinking, then some other guys did some making. Now the guy with no money had money and the guy with lots of money had an airship. Big-ass airship, big-ass launch ceremony. So with all the smoke and mirrors, it hadn't been hard to get on board. The flight from London to New York meant the blimp had to go real high, to catch the jet stream. I figured there'd be time.
OK. So you're thinking the big shot, right? Hell, no. He had the smarts to think maybe being on the maiden voyage wasn't such a hot idea. So he'd got on with all the cameras flashing and then sneaked off out the back. Left some dumb look-alike stand-in with the reporters to make happy faces and tell them funny stories. No. There was a band on board, to keep things poppin'. The Dragon wanted to make sure the bass player never made it to New York.
Why? Damned if I know. They don't say, and I don't ask. It's a job, that's all. Just another job. That's the Dragon. Some say it's all about the balance. Some say it's the harmony. Some say Dragon’s just a bunch of mean sons of bitches out to rule the world. ‘Course, most of them as say that won’t say it any more.
Me? I say it's just a big pot, and sometimes it needs stirring. Nobody needs to tell the spoon nothin'. I'm a spoon.
So I did what needed doing, and now the ship wasn't going anywhere but down. Along the way, some people got brave. So they got dead. No big. At least it was quick for them. But the chute I had was only good at low altitude and the damn ship was dropping real slow. Time to kill. So there I was. Sliding down the sky jammin' real bad 'Nobody's fault but mine' on a dead guy's axe, ‘til I could pop a window and open my chute.
Real bad? Hell. I never said I could play.
That's what it's like in the Dragon. Sure, they tell you you’re a hero. Saving the world. And if you believe it, what do you get? Well, you get to play bad lead guitar in a lead zeppelin.
I ain’t no hero. Like I said. I'm a gnat.
So there it is. Let's try that joke again. See, this guy walks out of a bar...
I can tell you're wondering. Why we here, you and me? Why we talking? Why am I telling you all this?
Well, see, every job needs that moment. The moment you bang the side of the pinball machine and rock the ball, without ringing tilt. A distraction. So. Consider yourself distracted. But don't take it personal. It's just a job. I'll make it quick.