Thoughts about Ghost Story and Burnt Bridges

I had a call yesterday from my Father.  He asked if I was doing ok and if anything was bothering me.  Figuring he was talking about my day job, I said everything was fine.  He told me he was just making sure given my writing on “Burnt Bridges”.  I laughed and reassured him everything was fine and that it was just another writing exercise.

This moment did offer a chance to let you why I wrote what I did and what ked me to do it in the first place.  It also allows me the chance to compare “Ghost Story” and “Burnt Bridges”

Let’s start with “Ghost Story”.

The idea for “Ghost Story” came from ,expectedly enough, “Ghost Hunters”.  My wife and I enjoy the show very much and have watched it for years.  (Her more than me due to writing workshops and blogging.)

There is one episode that really caught my attention.  I can’t tell you the episode number, year, or name because I just don’t know; but it’s the episode that has Meatloaf appearing in it for the first time.  (LOL The singer, not the food.)  They were investigating a house on an island that one a contest.  The part that stood out for me is that the spirit or ghost that was haunting it was a priest.  I found that very strange.  If anyone has a direct line to heaven, I’d expect it to be a priest.  So why was this guy still hanging around?

That opened up the proverbial can of questions I always had about ghosts:

What do they see? What do they feel?  Do they experience time?  Have their habits and viewpoints changed while hanging around?  Can they communicate with the ghosts/spirits of animals?  If so, what do the animal spirits think and say?

I thought about these question for maybe half a day before they got pushed to the back burner by other random thoughts and questions.  It wasn’t until I saw that building in El Jo Bean that the idea came back to me.  I figured other people had the same questions so I’d write a story about it and have someone answer them.

I also wanted a nice story. Most ghost stories are of the horror genre and except for “Casper” I can’t think of any friendly ghost movie being made recently.  (Recent means the last five or six years, so the movie, “Ghost” doesn’t qualify.  Now that I think of it, “Casper” might not either.)

So with a general idea, I started to write.  I had the generalities in mind but let the story form on itself.  I never expected it to go as long as it did.  If anything, I figured it’d go two parts.

The response to it was surprising.  You guys really liked it.  That was cool.  I’m very glad that you had fun getting into it.  I liked that as much as writing it.

When Ida faded into the sunrise, I ended the story. She answered all the questions, so I felt it was complete.

I had multiple requests for more.

I felt that meant you wanted another story.  But what to write?  I had just finished a happy ghost story, could I do dark?  I did mention that I would try to venture there more this year, so why not?

I wanted to mix it up a little as well.  Not make it just a horror story but a detective story as well.  I’ve seen so many mysteries on TV since I can recall and wanted to see if I could write that style and make it believable.

I used Angle Heart as my basis.  For those that have never heard of it, Angel Heart was a disastrous movie made in 1987 starring Lisa Bonet and Mickey Rourke.  (This was my first viewing of a movie starring him, so I had no idea how weird disturbing it would be.)  That movie pretty much killed Lisa’s career and was the rallying cry for a new rating higher than “R”.  (Many thought it should’ve been rated “X”.)

But that’s not why I chose it.  I picked it because of the character Mickey played and the way the plot twisted and shocked you at the end.  I wanted to see if I could do that as well, without the sex scenes.

So I started to write.  Again I had just a general idea.  I’d let the characters lead the way.  The one thing I noticed right away is that it was much harder to throw in the “ghost” part into the plot.  It was always there, but it was completely different than before.

Instead of being up front and out in the open, it was almost hidden.  Subtle and withdrawn.  Many times I was afraid I’d lose that whole part completely.  It took a lot of effort to get it noticed at all.

I liked how it turned out though.  It’s so ambiguous and argument could be made that there was never a ghost haunting Frank at all.  Maybe it was his subconscious distorting his perspective of things.  Maybe the wiring was faulty in his ghetto apartment.  Maybe his rub down car was just prone to not starting and shorts in the radio caused it to randomly flip stations.  Or maybe not.

That part was fun.

The massive amount of swearing?  Well, he was a jerk and alcoholic. It was just part of his character.  He was as crappy as his surroundings and fun to write about.  I’d hate to meet someone like that in real life, but they make for a great anti-hero character.

I also liked how the ending happened.  There were a lot of questions.

Did he really see a ghost?  Was he led to his death or did he do it himself?  Was it the guilt that caused him to do what he did?  Was it the drinking?  Or was it something else?  Is he the father?  Did he even know about the baby?  What do you think?

I left it vague so you could come up with your own answers.  Some stories need to be like that, I think.

What I didn’t think is how long this one would be.  Over 5,000 words! I never saw that coming.  I figured I’d knock this one out in the same size as Ghost Story.  Boy was I wrong there.  (It’s also why I broke it up and posted different things in between.  I didn’t want everyone here to think this site was going totally dark and gloomy.)  I never expected it to be the size it became. (I have to ask, have you had this happen to you as well?  You start writing with a general idea of how long the project’s going to be and have it just take on a life of it’s own?)

I’m glad I did it, but I’m also glad it’s done.  I have other posts and projects begging to be put on screen.  Now they’ll get their chance.  For those who are worried that it’ll be yet another story, fear not.  I have some nice travel posts that I want to talk about, so we’ll be gong back to the travel side again for a while.

For everyone that went with me on this story ride, thank you.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Creative writing is something I enjoy and I will be posting more stories in the future.  In the meantime there are so many different things screaming for attention right now it’s almost unreal.  I have thoughts, comments, and pictures I want to get out.

Brighter posts are about to happen.  I think you’ll enjoy them.

The puppies of war.

“Here.  You’re gonna need this.” Jason said as he hands me a heavy winter hoodie.

“Thanks.”  I reply, zipping up the jacket.

“Don’t forget the mask.”  Jason continued, “You want to put it on after you pull the hood up.  It keeps the hood from flopping off.”

The mask crooked my glasses, but I didn’t notice.  It was 91 degrees outside and I was wearing late fall/almost winter cloths and getting ready for my first assault.

Welcome to the world of Air-soft.  Unless you’ve been in another country for the last five years, you know that Air-soft is a less vibrant version of paint ball.  It’s supposed to be less painful too.  Instead of firing dime sized plastic balls of paint, Air soft fires a hollow pellet that is only 6 millimeters in diameter (smaller than an eraser on the end of a pencil).  It’s supposed to be less painful, but I had to question that after seeing some of the “battle wounds” my coworkers showed off on the Mondays following a Saturday excursion.

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It was my coworkers that dragged me into this in the first place.  Like all things, it started with just two guys showing off their hardware and talking about good times.  Before I knew it, everyone but me was playing and most had their own guns.

The guns they chose aren’t what I’d call cheap either.  You can find entry level handguns starting at under $10, but the guys at work averaged their purchases at over $120.  To me that’s a huge investment, given that I’ve never played before.  (Plus the fact I have a $100 bike that I bought two years ago silently collecting dust in the garage.)

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My coworkers don’t seem to have this problem though.  They are fully enthused with this hobby.  They spend hours prepping the field next to one of their houses by cutting paths, building berms, and setting up objects to be used as cover.  They even went so far as to gather up a few unwanted sheds and put them together to use as a “shoot house” that one team would defend while the other would attack.

I was reluctant to join in the fun.  I honestly could see no reason to run around in the hot Florida sun just to get shot at.  But then, I quit running around at full sprint after high school.  A relaxing hike is more my speed.

Reluctant or not, my coworkers made sure that I at least tried the sport before knocking it.  Jason suggested that I could just watch them play and then decide if I wanted to join in.

Right.

Seeing how badly they wanted me there, I couldn’t refuse.  Besides they were right.  It wasn’t as if they were asking me to go sky diving or swimming with sharks, they just wanted to play an old fashioned war game.  It wasn’t going to kill me.

So I went along and brought my camera.  I can see good potential blogging material when it’s staring me right in the face. I watched as they got ready to play.  I was impressed with the concerns of safety.  They wore heavy clothing to absorb the impact of the pellets and had spent extra to get the upgraded face masks that also covered the ears. Then I moved to a better vantage point as they broke up into teams and started to play.  It was three against two. 

The two were hunkered inside the shoot house while the other three tried to assault it and take command. 

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The ones inside had the advantage.  The multi-shed “shoot house” was placed on an empty house pad that was raised four to six feet above the surrounding ground.   Not only did those attacking the house have to run across the woods to cover, but they also had to charge up that incline to get into the house.  Those inside the house had better cover from a front attack and the advantage of higher ground.

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Some of the attacking force did well and made it into the multi-shed house before getting shot.  None ever did take the house though.  I think the attacking team was “killed” five times before they called the round over.

Then it was my turn.  Jason asked if I wanted to be in the house or attack it.  I went for the attack.  Jason, Lou Jr. and I would attack while Matt and George would defend the stronghold.

I can’t prove it, but I think the guys took it easy on me.  I made it all the way up to the incline before I got hit.

“Ow!  I’m hit!”  I yelled as I felt a sharp sting on my chin.  Matt had got me with a very lucky shot for that pellet either threaded its way through one of the breathing slats on the mask, or I had held my head at just the right angle to let the flying pellet come up under the mask.

Matt stood roughly six feet away from me and was apologizing.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t think you were so close.”

I told him not to worry about it.  Playing air-soft is like playing hockey.  You don’t apologize for slamming the other player into the boards.  It’s part of the game.  Same with Air-soft.  Getting shot is part of the game.  He apologized even more after he found out the pellet had drawn blood.  (400 feet per second at only 6 feet away will do that.)  Again I told him that it’s part of the game.

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I did that part fairly well that day.  The goggles stopped one pellet from hitting me between the eyes.  George rained a hail of pellets over the cover I used and hit me multiple times on my upper forehead.  (My wife just chuckled and said; “Uh-huh” when I told her I hardly felt those hits.)  I also took a good hit on the upper thigh.  That one I felt.  It didn’t cut me, but it stung.  By the end of the round I was sweating and tired.

The guys took a break to rehydrate and reload.  Everyone was drenched in sweat.  91 degrees and wearing heavy hoodies and blue jeans will do that.  The guys decided to do a free for all with no teams.  I declined that opportunity.  I did take the time to talk to Lou Jr. and find out more about the game. 

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There is way more to it than I ever realized.  The hundred plus dollar amount the guys had spent was barely entry level money for the hard core group.  Evidently some rifles cost up to the thousand dollars!  And there are modifications and accessories galore.  From high powered batteries, to different sized pellets, to scopes and laser sights, there are many ways to expand on the airsoft sport.

I never asked if there was an official team or club, but I bet there is.

What I can say is that it was fun and I had a good time playing.  I just wish the guys would do it on cooler days, like January.

Oh. and for all those who have read this and are begging for the expected here you go.

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WOLVERINES!

Taking a break to Ketchup

It’s been a while since I’ve joined Michele and Mel with their legendary “Ketchup” challenges.  I’ve missed joining in their antics and their latest is perfect for the season.

In Ketchup #18 the dynamic duo asks for a recommendation for summer reading.  There’s quite a few on my bookshelves worth listing, but most of my favorites come in series.  Its summer and I don’t want you spending all those warm days buried in a pile of books.  My book of choice this summer is the classic, “Lonesome Dove”.

 

Lonesome Dove is a story about two retired Texas Rangers who decide to have one last adventure by moving to Montana.  Along the way they encounter many challenges and discover great truths.

If you like  classic westerns, you’ll love Lonesome Dove; my choice for the summer.

Saddle Up.

olddognewtits.com

If you’d like to get your hands on a copy or download a Kindle version, I’ve included a link to Amazon below.

Lonesome Dove through Amazon