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A few months ago, my good friend – and extraordinary quilter — Abigail Kokai produced the first-ever fan art for my book, Punch-Up! I’ve seen this piece from its conception to conclusion and have been amazed by every stitch.
I am extremely proud and pleased to share this piece with you.
Abby describes her piece and process: Punch Up 15″ x 21″ October 2008 Technique: Photo iron transfer image, layered netting, printed and solid sheers with fabric placed as graphic elements placed behind image. Machine quilted, hand embellished with ribbon, black glass beads and letter beads. Spray painted and hand stitched accent outlines around image. Please visit Abby’s website — abigailkokai.carbonmade.com – and shower her with your admiration and praise. And, I guess if we can’t get the book published, we can always make Abby quilt all 260 pages! Your friend (and part-time lover),
Quilted and embellished adaptation of an illustration by David Brame, for the comic Punch-Up, written by Frank Cvetkovic.
Boom Boom Storm Cloud
Abby describes her piece and process:
Punch Up 15″ x 21″ October 2008
Technique: Photo iron transfer image, layered netting, printed and solid sheers with fabric placed as graphic elements placed behind image. Machine quilted, hand embellished with ribbon, black glass beads and letter beads. Spray painted and hand stitched accent outlines around image.
Please visit Abby’s website — abigailkokai.carbonmade.com – and shower her with your admiration and praise.
And, I guess if we can’t get the book published, we can always make Abby quilt all 260 pages!
Your friend (and part-time lover),
Late last week, I emailed my proposal for Punch-Up to several of my friends, for proofreading purposes and so that they might too be able to bask in the glory and genius that is me and whatnot.
I received any email over the weekend from my good friend Justin Shady, who was one of the folks I sent my proposal to. Justin has had a decent number of books published over at Image Comics (Heaven, LLC., Bad Ideas, The Roberts, and the upcoming all-ages book, Missing The Boat, out January 28th –go buy it!), so I figured he would be one of the best people to go to for advice.
In he email, he told me to call him and he would give me his opinion of my proposal. I got a hold of Shady a little after eight o’clock last night,while I was still over at Abby’s with Michael, and this is what he said:
I have a strong proposal. I have a strong story. I have a strong writing style. And I have a really fucking strong artist.
But our book isn’t going to be picked up.
He told me that my book – rounding out at 260 pages – was too long and Image would never go for it. He told me that Heaven, LLC. was much longer when he originally pitched it and he had to fight to get the 144 pages that the book ended up topping out as.
144 pages. That would mean I would have to cut out, like, half of my book. There goes any characterization, character development, the carefully-constructed love story all out the window.
Or I could try and release it as single issues and collect it into a graphic novel later — if our book actually sold – but the reason I went with the OGN format was so you would have to wait a year to read one complete story. Also, most new series don’t last three issues before they wither and die away. But, as an OGN, you have an entire story in one book; a book that would definitely sell better that way than as a monthly.
And to turn the book into a monthly now would mean I would have to rewrite the entire fucking thing!
We talked about other publishers I could submit the book to. He told me that length-wise, my book should go to Top Shelf, who published a nearly 600 page book called Blankets. However, Top Shelf doesn’t exactly deal with the “guy who gets beaten up for money” genre. They’re a little too high class for that kind of thing.
So I have an Image Comics story in a Top Shelf Comics-sized book and neither company is likely to touch us.
Justin told me that he would email his editor over at Image Shadowline and get her opinion on the subject. He asked, “If someone who had never done a book before pitched a 260-page OGN to you, what would your initial reaction be?”
And her reply was: “It would be rejected.”
I’m still going to send my proposal to Image and Top Shelf and – what the hell – Oni Press, too. Couldn’t hurt.
And if they all turn us down, I’ll send to a few other smaller publishing companies. And if they turn us down, then, fuck it. We’ll make it a webcomic or apply for a Xeric grant or sell my immortal soul to the fucking Devil himself.
This is my fucking book and you will read it one way or another!
Your friend (and part-time lover),
Boom Boom Storm Cloud
PS – Yeah, I know I sounded all determined and kick-ass up there – and I meant everything I said about submitting the book and resubmitting and the deal with the Devil and whatnot – but, just between you and me?, yeah, I’m really fucking nervous and scared about this rejection shit. I just want to tell stories. All I’ve ever wanted to do was tell stories.
Work lets out at six o’clock, not a moment too soon.
After a mishap, trying to toss some old newspaper in the recycling bin only to find it completely frozen shut, I somehow find myself back in the library with my co-workers again, getting ready to lock up and leave for the night. The building locked and secured, we make our way to the parking lot, saying our “goodbyes” and “have a nice weekends”. I unlock my car, get in, revving my engine a few times trying to get the car to warm up a bit; the weather outside is in the frigid single digits, so that doesn’t seem like a likely outcome.
I pull out of the parking lot and make my way home. I take side streets the entire way since rush hour on the freeways – on a Friday night, no less – is murder. But that’s okay; I turn on my CD player and Augusten Burroughs tells my about his horrible childhood. I feel a bit better about my own.
I pull into my apartment building’s parking lot a little after six thirty. I stay in my car a few moment longer, to get to the chapter break in the book-on-CD. The CD flips from track 11 to track 12 and I shut off my car, collect my messenger bag, and head towards my apartment.
I unlock the door, step inside and throw my bag onto the dining room table. The puppy whines excitedly and does her little potty dance. I grab her lease and collar and attach it to her as I open the door to her crate. We go for a quick walk outside, so she can empty her bladder, and then it’s back inside so I can empty mine.
I change into some warm pajama pants and a sweatshirt, fill the pups food and water bowls, and sit down in my comfy chair, turning on the last disc of the fourth season of The Office. After an episode or two, I head to the fridge and grab a couple slices of leftover pizza and a can of Kroger-brand lemon lime soda.
If you ever want to make me happy, a slice or two of a good vegetarian pizza is surely the way to go.
I watch another episode before the pup lets me know that she has to go out again. I reattach her to her leash, wrapping the other end around my hand twice, and then we head out the door.
We don’t get too far out before the pup takes care of her business. I pick it up in a little plastic baggy and we set out for the dumpster, where I toss it in. The pup still has quite a bit of energy left so we continue walking.
We walk around the entire building, stopping every so often so the pup can sniff around or stick her face into the snow; looking very much like Tony Montana at the end of Scarface when she pulls out. After another twenty minutes or so, the cold has gotten into my lungs and it burns. The pup is shivering, but she wants to continue on. I persuade her to go back inside instead.
We cross the parking lot, heading back towards our apartment. The parking lot is pretty well plowed, as are the sidewalks, however, the spaces around the cars have drifts of snow upwards of a foot and a half.
We walk through the lot, practically hugging the parked cars, until we get to the shoveled sidewalk. The pup stops to jump through snowdrifts in between two cars on my right.
Out of nowhere, the snow in front of me so illuminated so brightly it’s almost blinded. My shadow is cast across the ground and quickly starts to shrink. I turn my head to the left and a bright light shines in my eyes for the briefest of moments and then I am violently thrown forward and to ground, to the sound of screeching tires, spinning slightly as I go down.
I open my eyes and I realize I’m face down in snow, but I don’t know for how long. Several seconds, I surmise. I plant my hands on the ground and push until my head is out of the snow. Pain shoots through my shoulder and back. My puppy playfully licks snow off of my face.
I’m not sure what exactly just happened.
I look up and see a red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape stopped about twenty feet away. I almost expect the driver to throw it in reverse and finish the job off. Instead, the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape peels out, spraying slush from beneath it’s back tires, thick light grayish exhaust discharges from underneath.
I try to catch even one of the numbers from the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape’s license plate, but my eyes can’t focus. I realize that my glasses have been knocked off and I search the ground, finding them a few feet away. I put them on, hoping to still catch that license plate, but the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape is already long gone and my glasses are too covered in dirty slush to see anyway.
The puppy dances around me happily – “Daddy’s playing in the snow, too!” – as I try to stand up and I count myself lucky at least that I didn’t let go of the leash when I went down; as bad as I feel right now, I don’t think I could have chased after her.
Back on my feet, I look around as we walk back to the apartment – snowdrifts be damned – and, true to form, no one in the area comes out to see if I’m okay.
Ah, life in the ghetto.
I close and lock the door to my apartment, drop the pup’s leash – not even bothering to take it off of her – and collapse onto couch, with my gloves, scarf, hat and shoes still on.
I lay there for several minutes, before reaching over and picking up my cell phone off of the coffee table. I feel a stress and pain as I reach for it. I open the phone and dial the number for the police. The dispatcher tells me that a patrol car should be there within twenty to twenty-five minutes, of course, it doesn’t take nearly that long.
Forty-five minutes later, there’s a knock on my door. I put the pup in her crate and open the door. I explain to the officer what happened and even take him outside to where it happened. He tells me that a red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape isn’t much to go on and, without a license plate number – or even a partial license plate number – there’s little he can do. I told him that I figured as much, but wanted to report it anyway.
The officer gets back in his patrol car and I head back inside myself. The officer sits in his car for about ten more minutes – doing paper work, I suppose — before leaving Tim Horton’s, I think to myself.
I take off my shoes, scarf, gloves, hat, and hoodie and ease myself down into my comfy chair. My warm pajama pants have dried, since falling in the snow, but my knees are still wet. I pull up my pant legs and find my knees scraped and bloodied. I go to the bedroom to change my clothes.
I throw the clothes I was wearing into a laundry basket, then head to the bathroom to clean and dress the wounds on my knees. I turn and look at my back in the bathroom mirror. Already, it is covered in black and blue bruises. I return to the bedroom and pull on another pair of warm pajama pants and a faded old sweatshirt.
It’s after ten o’clock, closer to ten thirty, and I realize that the last two hours have exhausted me. I turn out the lights in the living room. The puppy, who was sleeping on the couch, wakes up, yawns, and follows me – quickly passing me – into the bedroom.
I take off my glasses and place them on the dresser. I plug my cell phone into its charger. I climb into bed. The pup has already curled up underneath the covers. I turn off the light and I sleep.
That night, I dream about fireworks, although, I imagine that’s mostly because of the pain in my back and shoulder.
At 6:02 AM, I roll over – waking briefly to eye the clock – and deciding that it is, in fact, 6:02 AM, my head nestles back down into my pillow again for what seems like seconds, but what is actually fifty-six minutes.
At 6:58, I feel a tongue gently pass through my lips and after a second, I remember that I don’t have a girlfriend and open my eyes, finding my puppy laying down on my chest, her nose to mine.
Almost immediately after, at 7:00 AM my alarm – my annoying little alarm, designed to shriek louder and louder until you either A) wake up and hit the “off” button or B) bash the damned thing against the wall over and over again until it resembles something that could pass more as modern art than as a functioning clock and, then, fall back to sleep – goes off.
This morning, regrettably, I choose option A.
I slowly, ever so slowly, sit up in bed – my head feels as though it were filled with concrete instead of blood and bone and tissue, my back and shoulder stiff and aching – and slump back over, under the tremendous weight of my head, to the opposite side of my bed. The puppy, finding this incredibly amusing, jumped back onto the bed, dancing around me with her little tail wagging.
Placing my hands on the bed, I push myself back into a sitting position and, once I get the hang of that, feel adventurous enough to attempt standing.
Like baby Bambi, it take a few tries to get into a fully vertical stance and, even when I am, my knees shake and my legs felt like jelly, my whole equilibrium off.
Several minutes pass by the time I finally stand up. The pup looks up at me as she finishes peeing on the bedroom carpet. I spray the wet spot with some carpet cleaner and head into the bathroom for a shower.
I feel a lot more stiff and sore today than I did yesterday and the bruises on my back are much more vibrant in color. It hurts when I stand. It hurts when I sit. I hurts when I rotate my shoulder or pick up anything heavier than a pillow.
I stand under the hot shower, letting the streams of water massage my back, until the water runs cold. And then I stand under it for a bit longer.
I dry off and change into fresh, warm clothes. I make my way into the kitchen, grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge and the dog food from atop the counter, and fill the pup’s food bowls; knowing full well that she won’t eat it until either A) she’s starving, later tonight, or B) I mix in a hot dog or two. Afterwards, I decide on a bowl of oatmeal for myself, strawberries and cream.
I settle into my comfy chair and eat, watching the last episode and some commentary on the fourth season of The Office. I pause only to wash my bowl, when I finish eating, and then I begin to write; nothing much, mind you, a page or two of prose.
Just before eleven, I send a text to a few friends, letting them know of the previous night’s events. “Got hit by a pick-up truck while walking the pup last night. Well, more like clipped. Pup’s fine. I just got some bruises and a little soreness in my back.”
Almost immediately after I send the text, I get a phone call from my friend Tom, who live in DC. He asks if I’m okay and, after a few minutes of questions and answers, he tries to make me feel better by saying whoever hit me likely worked for someone higher up who was trying stop Punch-Up, my book, from ever coming out and, having failed this, ended up falling through a trapdoor into some sort of James Bond-ian deathtrap.
I realize he’s only trying to cheer me up, but laughing – which I’m doing a lot of, as we talk – hurts and a part of me wonders if he’s only trying to finish me off.
We hang up and I call Abby, who called while I was on the phone with Tom.
I repeat much of the same conversation I had with Tom, then, Abby and I talk about her job and how she has the hots for this guy who may be working with her soon. I advise her to – quote – hit that. And, then, somehow, we get on the subject of her parents’ sex lives, both before and after marriage. We make plans to meet up with Michael on Monday – since she usually has Mondays off, I have a three-day weekend due to MLK Day, and Michael is unemployed… I mean, a freelance artist – for a movie day.
I move to the couch, wrap a blanket around myself and the pup, and read a couple chapters of a comic called The Goon. I finish the book and retrieve two volumes of another comic, called Nextwave, a book so ridiculous it never fails to make me feel good.
Around three o’clock I get a text from my friend Nonnie. “Glad to hear you’re not dead. Try to use this as a learning experience. And remember: Batman would’ve jumped on to the truck and jabbed the driver in the throat.”
I laugh until my ribs hurt, wondering if Nonnie is in cahoots with Tom and the driver of the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape.
I suddenly remember that we’re running low on dog food and are completely out of hot dogs and other dog treats and, I think to myself, the pup is probably going to want to eat again before to long. Feeling somewhat adventurous, I put on my hoodie, hat gloves, scarf, and shoes, put the pup in her crate, and leave the apartment. Driving in my conditions is fairly easy, although getting in and out of the car proves to be more than I bargained for.
I arrive at Target within about twenty minutes and, inside the store, make my way to the pet aisle. The particular brand of food that I usually buy for the pup is, of course, on the top shelf and I have to stretch and stand on my toes to reach it. This sends a spasm of pain throughout my body. I reach again, grabbing the dog food bag. One more time and I pull the eight pound bag off the shelf. I lose my grip on it and it falls. I catch it before it even comes close to hitting the ground, but not with out painful consequences. I quickly put the bag in my cart, snag two small packages of dog treats, and exit the pet aisle.
I wander around Target aimlessly for a bit. I look in the sports department, contemplating buying a bike come spring. I make my way towards the audio/visual department and browse through the DVDs, deciding to buy two bargain bin movies: O Brother, Where Art Thou? and The Full Monty.
I check out and head back to my car.
While I’m out, I think, I should stop at the grocery store and pick up a few essentials. And fifteen minutes later, I’m entering a Kroger that’s not too far from my apartment. I roam up and down the aisles, lazily picking up various items and putting them in my cart. I check out. Return to my car. Drive home. Put groceries away. I walk the pup.
I place two hot dogs in the microwave and, a minute later, on top of the dog food she didn’t eat this morning. She gobbles down the entire thing, as I refresh her water bowl.
I change back into my warm pajama pants and collapse on the couch. I am exhausted. I feel deflated, like a balloon several days later, hovering only a foot and a half about the ground, waiting to be popped and thrown away.
I decide that A) I’m hungry, B) dinner is a must, and C) pasta sounds good. But, when I get into the kitchen, I decide that D) pasta requires several minutes standing over the stove, stirring, and several more minutes over the sink, washing dishes. Instead, I opt for another bowl of oatmeal, apples and cinnamon, which takes only two minutes on high.
I watch The Full Monty as I eat, remembering how funny this movie is and thinking that this would count as irrefutable proof, to my dad, that I am gay.
When the movie is over, I wash the bowl and put it in the dish drain. I sit back down in my comfy chair, open my iTunes and play Belle & Sebastian’s The BBC Sessions, and continue working on character sheets for my next original graphic novel, I Think I Love My Wife.
Just before six thirty, I get a phone call from Kevin, my old roommate and someone who was one of my closest friends. Kevin got married to my other good friend, Jody, a year and a half ago, and moved over a hundred miles away. We haven’t kept in close contact for about a year, ever since a rather unpleasant incident occurred, so I’m a little surprised when he calls and tell me that he and Jody are in town for the weekend and that they were inviting me out to dinner with them and a few other friends of ours at Thurman’s, a restaurant in the German Village.
I turn down Kevin’s offer, telling him that I had already ate, keeping the information about the incident with the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape to myself, figuring that he and Jody will learn about it soon enough from Abby or Michael, who will joining them for dinner. Part of me really does want to go to dinner with them, but another part of me is weary of getting both too close and possibly hurt again.
A third part of me is still too sore to move and that’s the part that ultimately wins out. I stay home and continue to write.
At roughly a quarter to eight, I exchange a few text messages with Michael and then get a phone call from Nonnie. We talk about the incident with the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape and then we talk shop, comparing books that each of us are working on. We talk for a little over an hour before Nonnie tells me that he has to get going.
It’s nine o’clock and I decide that now is as good a time as any to take the pup out one last time before bed.
We come in about ten minutes later and I finish both writing and Belle & Sebastian’s The BBC Sessions. Halfway between a cover of “The Boys Are Back In Town”, I decide that what little I’ve done today has really worn me out and the pup looks like she is about to fall asleep any moment as well, so we turn in for the night.
I double check that I’ve locked the front door and turned off the lamp in the living room, before heading into the bedroom. I charge my phone and take off my glasses, placing them on the dresser, before getting into bed. I can hear a radio commercial coming from my upstairs neighbor’s apartment. He’s listening to “Ohio’s Best Rock”.
After a moment, the ad is over and AC/DC informs me that they can do dirty deeds for me at a surprisingly reasonable rate. Aerosmith comes on next and sings me to sleep.
That night, I have an odd dream.
I enter what looks like a cross between a mall, a movie theater, and an amusement park with my friend Jason. I’m fairly sure we’re there to see a movie, however, the building is vast and palace-like. Outside, there is an amusement park log ride, in which a man-made river starts outside the entrance to the building and travels downhill towards the parking lot.
We walk down a hallway and into a theater. There is no stadium seating, like in most theaters, just rows of seats at a slight incline as it gets further away from the front stage. It looks as if someone with money transformed a high school gymnasium into an auditorium for plays and concerts, where they also sometimes show movies.
We take a seat towards the far right, next to the exit. We sit and talk for a few moments, before the movie starts. There is a couple – what looks like a husband, sitting in front of me, and a wife, in front of Jason – sitting silently in front of us. Every few minutes they turn and whisper to each other. Something bothers me about the woman; she looks familiar.
The couple stands up and starts to turn around, grabbing pamphlets out of her purse. The start to pass out these brochures to people sitting around them – I never do see what the pamphlets are about – and that’s when I figure out where I know this woman from.
Her name – for the purpose of this writing – is Kelly, and she and I used to date, sort of, back in high school. I haven’t seen her or had any sort of communication with her in nearly ten years now, though, I heard secondhand that she did get married a few years back.
She recognizes me right away and we act surprised to see each other and embrace. She introduces me to her husband and I introduce her to my friend. We small talk for a bit, catching up, and then she tells me that she’s glad she ran into me, actually. She has a favor to ask of me. I say, “Sure.” and “What can I do for you?”
Kelly tells me about how she and her husband have been married for close to five years now and how, in those five years, they’ve tried to have children but couldn’t conceive. She tells me that they’ve seen doctors – so many doctors – but they still have problems. She tells me that she wants me to impregnate her so she can have a baby.
I think it over.
“Well,” I say and then immediately bolt towards the exit, running down the hall and outside. I can’t get away fast enough. I run through a line of people, pushing them out of my way as I go, and jump into the next log-shaped car floating up and down in the man-made river. I push the car down the track, slapping away the hands of angry people waiting their turn in line, and plummet down the waterfall, creating an enormous splash as I reach the bottom.
The cart floats lazily along through the river until the bottom catches on something underwater and comes to a complete stop. A log-shaped car goes over the waterfall behind me, creating the same gigantic splash mine did, and rams into the back of my car. Everyone in that car and I are knocked into the water. I feel a little dazed but start swimming for the far end of the pool anyway.
I pull myself out of the pool, my clothes heavy with water. I jog towards the parking lot, dripping the entire way, my shoes making that horrid “squish, squish, squish” sound. I find my car, wring as much water as I can out of my clothes, and drive off as quickly as I can.
As I get onto the highway, I feel relieved and happily assume that Jason probably stayed behind to help Kelly and her husband with their little dilemma.
I wake up early on Sunday morning – for some reason, I have trouble sleeping and end up tossing a turning all night – although, I lay in bed until sometime after seven.
I’m very sore and very stiff. Every move I make hurts. I try stretching, trying to loosen up a little, but it hurts too much and I end up stopping after some fifteen minutes or so.
I try to put on my hoodie, to take the dog outside, but I can’t move in the correct way to do so. I put the leash on the dog and take her outside, wearing only the pajama pants and sweatshirt I wore to bed, a pair of gloves, a scarf and my hat.
It is a quick walk this morning. No time to wander about and smell the roses.
I microwave a couple of hot dogs, when we come back in, and mix it in with the puppy’s food. Then, I make the last pack in a box of oatmeal for myself, blueberries and cream. I put on O Brother, Where Art Thou? – probably my favorite Coen Brothers film – as I eat.
When the film is over, I’m still feeing stiff so I lay down on the couch and pull my laptop – now a gut-top – onto my chest and pick up where I left off last night on my character sheets, while listening to Of Montreal’s The Sundlantic Twins.
Around twelve o’clock, I call my friend Jason. We talk for a bit, about the incident with the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape, work, and comics.
I try reading for a while – Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen’s Nextwave, Vol. 1 – but end up feeling worn out and tired. The puppy is already sleeping at my feet and I figure that she has the right idea. I pull a blanket over the two of us and we nap for about two or three hours.
When I wake up, I decide that I really do need to get some work done and sit down at the computer again. I write but don’t get much accomplished and am somewhat relieved when my phone rings. It’s my friend Steph and we talk for twenty minutes or so, catching up.
I turn on the TV after a while and catch the end of Jackie Chan’s Who Am I? And I wonder the same thing: “Who are you, dude? You used to make good movies.”
Feeling sluggish and achy, I sit through Everybody Hates Chris, and two episode of The Drew Carey Show. At some point during a commercial break, I fix dinner for the pup and, tired of oatmeal, I make myself a bowl of generic Kroger-brand Honey Nut Toasted Oats for dinner.
Abby calls me a little after seven and fills me in on the events of the previous night’s dinner and club-hopping that I missed out on.
As soon as I hang up with Abby, I call my friend Tom, interrupting his studies to get a little perspective on I problem that’s been bugging me.
Tom and I talk until a little after nine-thirty and then I let him get back to his books. I read a couple of more chapters of Nextwave and then the pup and I head off to bed.
That night, I have another odd dream.
In my dream, I get a phone call from my friend and Punch-Up artist, David Brame. He tells me that he, Michael, Abby and a few other friends are meeting up to hang out. He gives me directions and I tell him I’ll meet them there in a bit.
I stop at a corner store, to buy something to drink before meeting up with the others, and, as I leave the store, I notice a police cruiser parked in the lot next to the store. I look at the cruiser and then back at my car and decide that the cruiser is a much better car than my own. So I get in and drive off, leaving my own car in its parking space.
I follow Dave’s directions and they lead me to my grandmother’s old house. I enter the house, but no one is home. I decide to explore the house and find that everything is just as it was before my grandmother had died. As I come down the stairs, another police cruiser pulls up outside of the house, its light’s flashing, siren blaring.
The police officer enters the house, gun drawn and tells me that I’m under arrest for stealing a police vehicle. I tell him that I didn’t do it, it wasn’t me. I’m not lying to the officer. The memory of stealing a police cruiser no longer exists to me. I block it out. As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t steal the car. It must have been there before I arrived.
I’m handcuffed anyway and, instead of taking me to prison, the officer takes me to my parents house. It’s late at night and, for some reason, no one is home. We wait in the living room for them, making small talk, I’m still handcuffed, and, sometime around four or five-thirty in the morning, my folks come home. The officer takes them aside and they talk. I can not hear what they are saying, but I know that nothing good can come from this.
I wake up before anything ever happens.
Since winter started, the pup has been letting me sleep in a bit. I think it has something to do with the fact that when she wakes up, it’s still dark, so she goes back to sleep.
And that’s okay with me.
We wake up sometime after eight o’clock which, I know doesn’t sound like sleeping in to most people but, to me, it is quite awesome.
I sit up in bed and a sharp pain shoots through my right shoulder, like someone stuck a knife in and then started to twist. It hurts like hell and I think that it might be an aftereffect of getting hit by the red – possibly brown – pick-up truck shape. I’ve been in two other car accidents before Friday night, one as a driver and one as a passenger – neither of them my fault – and, in both cases, I felt fine for the most part on the day of the accident; it wasn’t until a few days later that I started to really feel any discomfort and sore.
I throw on my hoodie and gloves, put the pup’s leash on her, and took her for a quick walk.
When we get back, I make a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast – strawberries and cream – and put on a French film by Luc Besson that Michael recommended to me, called Angel-A. It takes place in Paris, it’s in black and white, and it’s everything I could ever want in a film. I make a note to add it to my Amazon DVD Wish-List.
After the film is over, I think to myself that I need to buy Michael some Chipotle for recommending it to me. But then I think that he never reads my blog, so he’ll never read this anyway and I’ll never have to pay up.
I wash my breakfast bowl, then turn on Chappelle’s Show: The Lost Episodes, and start to write.
Around one-thirty, I called Michael and made a game plan to meet up at Abby’s later for a movie day. A little while later, I feed the pup, put her in her crate, packed up my computer, and gathered the trash. I’m just getting ready to leave when someone knocks on my door. It’s my neighbor, the Taxi.
Sometimes, I give people nicknames based on what they use me as.
Anyway, the Taxi – who, admittedly, has had her share of health problems lately – tells me that she needs to go to her sister’s house so she could get her medicine. I tell her that I have to go meet friends of mine is a few minutes and she tells me it won’t take long, it’s just around the corner. Honest.
I tell her again that I really can’t, I have to meet friends at three o’clock, and I close the door. A few minutes later, I head out to my car and the Taxi is waiting at my passenger’s side door. I tell her I really have go and she offers me twenty dollars.
Well, I mean, twenty bucks is twenty bucks, right?
We get in the car and pull out onto the road. She tells me her sister’s house is not to far, just a few miles down Livingston. Fifteen minutes later, we turn off of Livingston and travel another ten minutes before we finally get to her sister’s house. As we drive, I get two calls from Michael, wondering where I am, but I silence them.
We pull into the driveway and the Taxi gets out, telling me that I should come in with her. I say that I’d rather just wait in the car, but she says to come in. I tell her that I have to make a phone call and she says just come on in when I’m done.
I call Michael, but he doesn’t answer. I leave a voicemail. I call Abby next, because I figure she and Michael are together. She answers and I fill her in on my current situation. I tell her I should be at her place at four o’clock. She calls me a bitch and then puts Michael on so he can call me a bitch.
I hang up and the Taxi is standing in at the front door, waving at me to come on. I get out of my car and walk towards the house. The Taxi goes inside and, a few moments later, I follow. I open the door and step inside the Taxi’s sister’s house.
Except it’s not the Taxi’s sister’s house.
It’s her drug dealer’s. I look around and there are three angry and dangerous-looking men in the house. There are little bags of marijuana and crack littered all over the living room. There is a small scale on the coffee table, white powder spilled all over and around it.
Of course, this is all kind of hard to see, what with the gun pressed against my face and all.
The Taxi says this isn’t really necessary, she knows me and I’m – quote – “cool”. The man holding the gun to my head tells her that he doesn’t care; she may know me, but he doesn’t. He keeps the gun trained on me for the rest of the business transaction, which – amazingly – takes over twenty minutes!
I mean, it you’re not getting you crack in under twenty minutes, I suggest you talk to your dealers boss.
We leave the house and get back in the car. The Taxi tells me that she needs to make a few other stops, to the corner convenience store, then to her daughter’s house, and so on.
Hey, whatever you want lady. You’re the one with gun-totting drug dealers. And I’m pretty sure they know where you live and you kind of live next door to me, so…
We stop at the corner store, her daughter’s house and wherever else the Taxi wanted to go. Finally, I drop her off at her apartment and she throws a balled up twenty dollar bill at me, as if I am some common whore.
Which I suppose I am.
I drive away as quickly as I can and make it over to Abby’s around four-thirty and tell them of the day’s adventures. The make fun of me for six hours. We put on a couple of films, Phantasm III followed by The Wackness. Michael draws, Abby sews, and I write this.
Long story short: I could think of better ways to have spent my three-day weekend.
Your friend (and part-time lover),
Boom Boom Storm Cloud
So today is my kind of, sort of not really birthday.
No, I wasn’t originally born on January 16 but, one year ago today, I was kind of born again, although, not in that creepy Christian way! (I’ll spare you the gory details.)
All I’ll say is: Where the fuck are my goddamned presents?!?!
Your friend (and part-time lover),
Boom Boom Storm Cloud
I was about five years old when I first heard the infamous words that would change my life forever: “‘I Dig A Pygmy’ by Charles Hawtrey and the Deaf-Aids. Phase One, in which Doris gets her oats.” The folksy, acoustic sound of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s “Two of Us” quickly trails.
My dad has just put on Let It Be by The Beatles – the first record I can remember ever listening to — and I am blown away. My music cherry: popped.
I can’t remember why this album in particular was played that day. My dad told me, later in life, that he was never really a die hard fan; he had only bought the few Beatles albums he owned because he thought “they’d be worth something some day.” So I can only guess it was my constant nagging to look through his dusty old record collection — more for the large funny pictures of men and women with long shaggy hair and beards, dressed in odd sixties and seventies fashion – that made my dad finally take out the worn black album with portraits of four long-haired men, thin white spider web cracks running along the edges of the faded cardboard covers, aging them that much more. The words “Let It Be” ran along the top of the album and I remember thinking that maybe it was a warning.
My dad slid the glossy black record out of its cover; a shiny green apple sticker on one side of it, the apple halved on the other. He slowly, almost intimately, slipped the record onto the record player, a task that appeared to be some kind of ritual to him, and I knew that I was in for – what I would call now, but didn’t have the words for at the time – a religious experience. A spiritual awakening.
“Two of Us” ends and the loud, bellowing guitars start “Dig A Pony”. It startles me and I think, for a moment, that this song scares me a bit and I lift the needle off of the record and skip to the next track, “Across The Universe.”
George Harrison’s guitar strums poignantly as John Lennon’s voice starts to sing “Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup.” I have no idea what this means, but it doesn’t matter. The song speaks to me in ways that nothing else ever has. John continues to chant “Jai guru deva om/Nothing’s going to change my world” and I wish so hard for that to be true for me, too.
The song ends and I immediately pick up the needle and place it back at the beginning. I close my eyes, thinking to myself that this is what it must be like to talk to God.
I listen to “Across The Universe” several more times and, after the second or third time through, my dad throws me an enormous pair of headphones and tells me that, if I’m going to keep listening to the same song over and over, I’m going to have to wear these so I don’t drive everyone else crazy.
So that’s where I sit, Indian-style on the cold basement floor, next to my dad’s old record player, listening to God preach to me through giant headphones that keep slipping off my head.
After a few more listens, the record jumps to the next track – “I Me Mine” – and I am awakened by sleazy-sounding guitar riffs that they play on those TV shows and movies I’m not allowed to watch. I consider turning it off or going back to “Across The Universe” again, but my father has since left the basement – and I was wearing the headphones, so no one could hear me if I listened to it anyway – so I decide to live dangerously and listen on. The song cuts from George Harrison’s sorrowful, anguished lyrics to the guitar-infused chorus and back again.
And as soon as it ends, the phrase “like a rolling stone” is repeated, louder and louder – the start of the playful “Dig It” – and, less than a minute later, ends with a devilish Lennon announcing “That was ‘Can You Dig It?’ by Georgie Wood, and now we’d like to do ‘Hark, The Angels Come.’”
Almost church-like piano music fills my ear, followed directly by Paul McCartney’s angelic voice. “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom. Let it be.” The song is so beautiful that I start to cry and have no idea why. If “Across The Universe” is like talking to God, I think to myself, “Let It Be” must be what it’s like to talk to God’s mother or wife.
“Let It Be” fades out and is quickly replaced with Lennon and McCartney’s short but raucous “Maggie Mae”, a traditional Liverpoolian folk song. It’s harsh and rowdy compared to the comforting and reassuring “Let It Be”. I decide I don’t like this song. At least not right now, I don’t, I tell myself; maybe I’ll like it more in a few years, when I can drink beer to it.
From that day on, The Beatles and I were inseparable. I would constantly pester my parents to play “the apple record” and, when they got tired of it, I learned how to put it on myself and everyday after school, I would sneak downstairs to the basement, plug in my headphones, put on Side A of Let It Be, sit under the stairs – so no one would see me – reading my dad’s old Archie comics and Mad Magazines and listen to my friends.
Hell, it wasn’t until months later that I learned that A) there was a Side B to the album, complete with five more songs – I had only ever heard the first seven on Side A – and B) that my dad actually owned more records by these guys, including Beatles For Sale, Help!, Rubber Soul, and Magical Mystery Tour.
My love of The Beatles – and with music, in general – was born on those afternoons after school, hidden away in the basement. And, of course, The Beatles were merely a gateway band; they opened the doors that led me to, well, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Guess Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Pink Floyd, all of them readily available and for my listening pleasure.
Music was my drug of choice. “I learned it from you, Dad. I learned it from watching you!”
My love affair with music was a long and winding road, filled with hundreds – thousands — of other bands and albums that I listened to and loved over the years, but, for me, it always leads back to The Beatles.
I was about eight or nine years old, when I found out that John Lennon – my favorite Beatle – had been assassinated outside his apartment building, ten years prior. Two years before I was even born. I cried for several days, but, ultimately, I think it just made him seem more God-like to me.
The Beatles were responsible for certain friendships in high school and even a relationship in college, as I had taken one of my father’s old record players – and all of my favorite albums – with me.
When the record player stopped working, I both reluctant and eagerly set off to buy back my albums on CD.
And I was completely lost when someone broke into my car, one horrible night, and stole my CD wallet – with half of my albums in it – out of my trunk. Eventually, I sold the other half of my CD music collection and switched to digital, but I never really got back any of the old stuff I used to have and my world remained Beatles-less for quite some time.
Until last night, when I finally finished downloading just about every Beatles album – complete with rare live recordings – over two gigs worth of music. I upload it all to my Tunes, hit play, and, all of a sudden, I’m five years old once more; listening to it all over again, for the first time, hoping that nothing’s gonna change my world.
Your friend (and part-time lover),
Boom Boom Storm Cloud
So the pup and I created this game that’s kind of like tag, except not exactly like tag. It’s called Gas Tag.
THE RULES OF GAS TAG: The game begins — usually after the pup has eaten a meal, although, the game’s play is not limited to just after dinnertime; Gas Tag can be played anywhere, at anytime. — when the pup sits on or near me, whenever she has horrid gas. I move from one couch to the other, to avoid said horrid gas. She, not wanting to sit alone, follows me with her horrid gas. I move to the chair. Again, she follows. Couch to couch, chair to chair, room to room: she follows. When we go for a car ride, we play the travel version; although, that one’s a little harder to play, since there’s nowhere to move away to.
There is no real winner or an end to the game, and the pup is always “it”.
It’s not a good game or even a fun game.
Hell, it isn’t really a game at all. Not really.
But it’s a hell of a lot easier to think of it in those parameters than the reality that I’m trapped in a fairly small apartment — with the windows and door locked up tight, since it’s so cold outside — with a little 24-hour methane gas factory.
Feel free to play Gas Tag with your gaseous pets or friends.
Your friend (and part-time lover)
Boom Boom Storm Cloud
Every year around this time, like most folk, I make a list of resolutions and goals that I have absolutely no intention of keeping.
This year, however, I’m thinking of taking a completely radical approach to my list: I plan on keeping all (most) (well, some) (um… a few) (like one or two) (OK, none) of my promises.
First of all, I’d like to make the same resolution I make every year: I, Frank Cvetkovic, being of sound body and mind, vow to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
With that out of the way, here are some of my goals for 2009. I would like to:
* find a publisher for Punch-Up. So far, [Punch-Up artist] David Brame and I are considering at Image Comics as our first choice. I’m checking into Oni, Dark Horse, Slave Labor Graphics, AiT/Planet Lar, as well as a few other smaller publishers as backups. I would also like to get Punch-Up published, printed, and on bookshelves by the end of the year, but that could be an unrealistic goal, depending on how quickly David can draw and if we get picked up.
* finish another graphic novel script. I have two started write now — El Burrito Y El Dia de Los Muertos and I Think I Love My Wife – and I would like finish at least one of them by the end of the year and line up an artist for Wife (as I already have one for El Burrito.).
* push a few of my artist friends *coughcough*MichaelJames*cough* to illustrate some scripts that I had written, so we can print up some mini-comics for SPACE in April, as we had planned.
* find a publisher for Icarus, the children’s book I wrote.
* kick Adobe Illustrator’s ass. Or, y’know, actually learn how to use the program.
* learn to speak French. I’ve always loved French culture and, over the past several years, I’ve become quite a fan of a lot of their movies, music, and comics.
* start drawing again. It’s been a while since I’ve seriously drawn anything other than random sketches. I doubt I’ll try doing commissions again. If I start drawing, I think it will be just for me.
* keep a daily sketch journal. A friend of mine and a few comic artists/bloggers I admire have kept and posted entries from their sketch journals online and it’s an exercise that I think I – and my writing — could really benefit from. Also, it would force me to keep up with my illustration work.
* lose two, possibly three good friends to out-of-state grad schools. (This one should be pretty easy.)
* take a vacation from work – not counting visiting the folks in Cleveland or traveling to Chicago to work the comic convention — and actually go somewhere. (This may be the one that I actually have trouble with.)
And, now, here are some of my more unrealistic goals for 2009. I would like to:
* add another wild emotion to the fold and bump up my bipolar disorder to a tripolar disorder. Not sure which one just yet. Maybe horniness. That has a nice ring to it. Manic-depressive-horniness disorder.
* learn to drive on the left side of the street, like they do in England.
* teach the pup how to use the toilet, like real people, so I don’t have to wake up at 5:30 in the frickin’ AM to take her outside to piss.
* kick Adobe Illustrator’s ass. Or, y’know, actually learn how to use the program.
* take part in a hostage negotiation. Either side. I’m not picky.
So what’s your 2009 lookin’ like?
Your friend (and part-time lover),
Boom Boom Storm Cloud