Spider In the Darkness

“If there is a God he’s a great loathsome spider in the darkness.”
John Fowles, The Collector

Louise Bourgeois, Spider

The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, New Orleans Museum of Art

spide_w
(Click for full size version on Flickr)

There is a spider living inside the driver’s side rear view mirror on my car. It’s a modern, streamlined plastic capsule that holds, in addition to the mirror, the mechanism for remote adjusting of the view, so there’s plenty of room. Since the mirror moves, there’s a gap around it, so the spider can easily slip in and out. It is pretty much ideal for a spider to live in.

When I say he lives there, I mean he spends the day there. At night he spins a web between the mirror and my driver’s side window. He must catch plenty to eat, because when I first noticed him, he was a tiny little arachnid-ette but now he’s a big fat Shelob-ish thing. I don’t see the spider every day, but it isn’t rare.

You see, the problem is, being a spider, he hasn’t figured out the whole car thing. I notice the spider when I drive to work – he is next to my face, after all, on the other side of the glass but right there. I guess some days, maybe the days I’m running late to work (usually) he takes down his insect-trap and retreats inside the mirror assembly before I come out and start the car. But if I’m early or he’s late he gets caught out there, on his web, while I drive down the road. These are residential streets so I don’t go much faster than forty – but that’s a lot of wind for a spider in a web. He swings and flails and hangs on for dear life.

Does a spider feel pain? Does a spider get dizzy? He must not because he was caught in a certain configuration this morning such that he started to spin in the wind hanging on a strand of web behind the mirror. When I say spin I mean spin. Like a tiny top on a string round and round extremely fast. A little pea sized arachnid blur – his legs held together, disappearing with the speed. But when I came to a stop sign he calmly set about his business of tidying up his web until I took off again – then he spun some more.

That’s the funny thing, during my ragged commute he alternates between swinging or spinning wildly in the wind when I’m moving to working his web remnants at stop signs or red lights. He has a mysterious spider purpose in arranging what’s left of his nightly web. I don’t know why he can’t simply let it go… he’s going to make a new one each night anyway. At any rate – usually about halfway to my work – I’ll stop for a minute and he’ll calmly move up the web and disappear behind the mirror to do spider things the rest of the day.

I don’t know what to do. I can’t really rescue him – and I’m a little afraid of him. But one day soon I won’t be going to work, but will have to drive somewhere on the highway. There’s a difference in the spider world between a forty mile per hour wind and one going, say, eighty.

It’s Got Eight Cylinders; Uses Them All

It’s got a Lincoln motor and it’s really souped up.
That Model A Vitimix makes it look like a pup.
It’s got eight cylinders; uses them all.
It’s got overdrive, just won’t stall.
—-Charlie Ryan (also Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen), Hot Rod Lincoln

Car Show, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Fade Away And Radiate

Ooh baby, watchful lines vibrate soft in brainwave time.
Silver pictures move so slow.
Golden tubes faintly glow.
Electric faces seem to merge.
Hidden voices mock your words.
Fade away and radiate.
—-Blondie, Fade Away and Radiate
radiator

Car Show, Texas

Pinstripe

“Civilised life, you know, is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us.”
J.G. Ballard

Pinstripe on Hood, Car Show, Dallas, Texas

I remember in my youth, swimming in a lake somewhere (little fish kept nibbling at me). I was moving along a dock towards the sandy bit of slope they called a beach. There were some girls up on the dock and I could hear them talking. One said, “Yeah, I know he’s not good lookin’ and I don’t like him at all… but I’m going out with him anyway… he has such a nice car.”

I still remember that and, as I get older, I wonder if she might have been on to something.

Nanowrimo Day Seven

Ultimate goal – 50,000 words.
Daily goal – 1,667 words
Goal total so far – 11,669 words

Words written today – 1,865

Words written so far – 10,854 words
Words to goal – -824

“Sometimes I wish for falling
Wish for the release
Wish for falling through the air
To give me some relief
Because falling’s not the problem
When I’m falling I’m in peace
It’s only when I hit the ground
It causes all the grief”
― Florence Welch

Trinity River in the Fall,
Dallas, Texas

As I committed the other day I am doing Nanowrimo – the National Novel Writing Month this November – writing a 50,000 word (small) novel in a month. Not necessary a good novel, or even a readable novel, but one of 50K words.

Well it happened. I skipped a day. There is no day six.

It was inevitable, I had been too busy, missed too much sleep. I came home from work, actually had planned on what to write but I made the mistake of pausing a bit – watched the first half of the Kansas Basketball game (college basketball is my sport – KU is my team, I did go to school there) and when I stretched out for a second at halftime, to rest my eyes… suddenly it was morning, time to go to work.

Missed a day, no big deal. Went from a bit ahead to a good piece behind. The important thing is to never skip two days in a row. So on day seven I was able to pound out some words. They came easily, I had time to put a firm vision in my head. When I’ve done that, I can write as fast as I can type. Didn’t finish the scene – which is a good thing – it gives me a good place to start tomorrow.

The weekend is coming soon, will have to catch up then, get out ahead a bit.

What I wrote today was more conversations between Craig and Odette.

Snippet of what I wrote:

“I’ll tell you what,” said Odette. “I’ll make a deal with you… I’ll give you something… a gift.”

“Really? What?”

“Don’t get excited bucko – it’s not anything big.”

“Not something expensive.”

“Not worth a nickel. But rare nonetheless.”

“Now you have made me curious.”

“OK, here’s the thing. First, you don’t know me so you don’t really know whether I can give you this gift. But, if you did know me, knew me well you’d know that it isn’t only possible, it’s a gift I can give easily. Understand?”

“Not at all,” replied Craig.

“Never mind. This is my gift. I give you permission. Permission to say anything to me, anything at all. You can ask me any question at all. Since I don’t know the question, I can’t promise I’ll answer it in any particular way. I can’t promise if I’ll answer at all – there are unanswerable questions. I can’t even promise I’ll tell the truth if I answer, though I do promise to try not to lie, if possible. What I do promise is not to judge you in any way. You can ask anything, and I mean anything, without me getting upset.”

“OK.”

“I’m not done. You can ask me to do anything. Anything at all. Again, since I don’t know what you will ask I can’t promise that I’ll do what you ask, only that I won’t judge you, I won’t get upset that you asked. For example, you could ask me to jump out of the moving car right now… and I wouldn’t do it. I’d just say ‘no,’ but I wouldn’t get all pissed about you asking me to kill myself. OK?”

“OK,” was all Craig could think to say.

“Now, here’s the hardest part. You’re afraid to tell me why you wanted the car. I give you permission to tell me, tell me, again, anything, and I won’t judge you. This is hard, because I don’t know what you are going to say, but I promise I won’t get mad or won’t judge you in any way.”

“Now that is impossible. I can say anything?”

“It’s not only possible, it’s not too hard. Notice, I’m not giving you any permission to do anything, that’s something that would be impossible. But permission to say anything? All that takes is a tough skin, and I have the toughest. After all, sticks and stones….”

“I’ve always thought that old saw to be a complete lie.”

Odette ignored him.

“This is a valuable gift. Think about it. There is a person in your life now that you can ask any question, ask any favor, or tell anything to without fear.”

“OK,” Craig said again, overwhelmed.

 

Nanowrimo Day Five

Ultimate goal – 50,000 words.
Daily goal – 1,667 words
Goal total so far – 8,335 words

Words written today – 1,880

Words written so far – 8,980 words
Words to goal – +645

 

“Horns sounded from the trapped vehicles on the motorway, a despairing chorus.”
― J.G. Ballard, Crash

1957 Thunderbird

As I committed the other day I am doing Nanowrimo – the National Novel Writing Month this November – writing a 50,000 word (small) novel in a month. Not necessary a good novel, or even a readable novel, but one of 50K words.

Another tough day – was at work for twelve hours and really too tired and shook up to do any writing.

I did it anyway.

Decided on a way to bring Craig, my anti-hero, and Odette, the girl, together.

Snippet of what I wrote:

He called Meridian’s car salesman and negotiated an offer. It was high, but Craig was able to get him down a bit, mostly in order not to raise suspicion. It never looked good to appear too eager.

“I told you that price would become an object.”

“Just want things to be fair, that price is still high enough. One more thing, I’m going to pay in cash.”

“Cash? That’s nuts. Nobody has that amount of cash hanging around.”

“My client does.”

“So does mine. Cash will be fine. What did you say your client did out in California?”

“I didn’t say.”

“Fair enough.”

And that was that. He put together the proper amount and drove it halfway, meeting the dealer at a designated crossroads in the middle of nowhere. The paperwork was signed on the hood of Craig’s rental.

“Well, that’s that,” said Meridian’s agent. “Are you sure you don’t want to put half down and the rest on delivery? That’s how we usually do it.”

“Nope, this is fine.”

“Guess you trust us.”

“Of course, I know where you work, I know where you live, I know where your wife works, I know where your kids go to school.”

A quick, strong shiver went up and down the agent. He had worked for Prime Meridian for a couple decades and knew the kind of man he was dealing with. He walked back to his SUV, opened the back, raised the floor, and put the case of cash in the back, carefully hiding in the space the spare tire used to be. He put everything back the way it was.

Nanowrimo Day Two

Ultimate goal – 50,000 words.
Daily goal – 1,667 words
Goal total so far – 3,334 words

Words written today – 1,885 words
Words written so far – 3,570 words
Words to goal – +236

“Living with a whore–even the best whore in the world–isn’t a bed of roses.”
― Henry Miller

Running of the bulls, New Orleans, Louisiana

As I committed the other day, I am doing Nanowrimo – the National Novel Writing Month this November – writing a 50,000 word (small) novel in a month. Not necessary a good novel, or even a readable novel, but one of 50K words.

The second day of Nano, November 2, I was supposed to have a flex day off of work and I figured I’d get some serious writing done. But, as often happens, I had to go into work, teach a couple of classes, and get a reclaim shipment out – so I worked a little more than a full day – though I was able to slip out over lunch and hit the early voting.

I didn’t get my writing in until late in the day, but I did get it in. My inspiration for today was a bumper sticker I saw while I was stuck in traffic on my home from work a couple weeks ago. The sticker said, “I Love Crack Whores” – with a big red heart where the word “Love” is. It struck me as so strange that someone would put something like that on their truck, so I wrote it down in my little book of writing inspiration.

In keeping with the idea of Nanowrimo (putting words on the paper without worry – maybe trying some experimentation) I decided to make today’s work a long dialog between two characters, Odette and Bernard, stuck behind a truck like the one I saw. An extended riff in dialog form on the phrase, “I Love Crack Whores.” I was able to hit today’s word count without much trouble… it was sort of fun.

Here’s a snip of what I wrote.

“I knew a crack whore once. A very good friend of mine.”

“What? I didn’t know you lived in that sort of neighborhood. “

“I didn’t. Bad things happen everywhere. This was a long time ago.”

“Who? How?”

“A girl I knew since I was a little kid. She only lived a block away from me. But her family life was awful. Her dad was knifed in prison once. I never saw her mother sober and she had this creepy big brother that scared the shit out of everyone and his friends were worse. So she spent a lot of time at my house. To get away. “

“So how did she end up a crack whore?”

“Well, it was easier than you’d think. She wasn’t very good looking, this moon shaped face, and with eyes so far apart they almost looked like they were on stalks. Straight on, she looked like she didn’t have a nose but from the side it was like stair steps.”

“Jeez, poor girl.”

“Yeah, she never thought any boys would like her. So when she was old enough – or almost old enough, she started sleeping around. In high school. She would go with anybody that showed any interest at all and would do anything they wanted. The stories were wild.”

“So she was loose, that doesn’t make her a whore.”

“Well, no. But what she told me was that one night, she was really broke, needed to buy some new shoes or something really bad, and asked some boy, some rich boy, for a loan. No big deal for the kid, ‘chump change’ she said he told her, he gave her the cash. She thought it was a good thing, it made her happy, she bought the shoes. But then the next one, some other boy, gave her money up front. It seems the rich kid let it slip he had given her money, and everyone thought that was the business.”

“God, and she went along.”

“Yeah, I guess she did. I told her to stop it and she said she needed the cash, the boys seemed to think it was cool, nobody cared about her anyway. “

“What about the crack?”

“Well, she had the cash, she didn’t give a shit about anything. It was a spiral. The usual. Weed, then hash, pills, speed, and finally hitting the crack pipe. “

“How old was she then?”

“Junior year. Really sad.”

“Christ that sucks. Do you know what happened to her? Is she dead?”

“Oh no. Not at all. She ran away from home and that helped. Must have been really fucked up over there when becoming a homeless crack whore was an improvement. But I guess she hit rock bottom and came back up. Turns out she was a lesbian. Never knew it. Went to Law School, passed the bar. Now she’s a hotshot in Kansas City real estate. We’re friends on Facebook. She’s really into fitness. Got married a year ago, now that she can. Still awful ugly though.”