Archive for the Lit Category

The introduction to an unfinished short story…

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Callie played the Calliope atop of the steamboat Queenie seven days a week and she was the considered by all to be the finest woman in town. In every way, to everyone.

She was wealthy. Her family was old money and owned properties all over St. Anna Louise and there were statues to her great, great grandfather and great her Uncles. Her grandmother was an activist and her cousins were lawyers and doctors and politicians. She made plenty of her own money through various consulting gigs and smart real estate investing and some modeling and, being an only child, had a large sum coming her way after her folks passed. After she achieved a comfortable wealth, she built a modest house outside St. Anna Louise and took in pets no one wanted anymore. Then she hit it quite big in the lottery one week too.

She was fit. Born with a naturally comely and strong frame of bones, she went on to first become a black belt in karate, then a survivalist, then a yogi, then a marathon runner. It was rumored around St. Anna Louise that she spent two years in a remote mountain temple learning rare fighting techniques from monks of an unknown order.

She was smart. She was only 32 but had a law degree, a PhD in philosophy and was a Rhodes Scholar. She had three volumes of poetry published, two short stories accepted by the New Yorker and two patents. She had published papers in numerous journals on subjects of ethical law. She was an accomplished dancer, ballet, modern and interpretive. And of course, she was a concert pianist, her first and true love.

And, she was beautiful. 5’10″ with perfect pale skin, arching feet, calves with a golden ratio, sculpted thighs, a chiseled tummy, firm d cup breasts with nipples that pointed straight out through three layers of garment, straight thrown back shoulders, sky high cheekbones, ice blue eyes and curly red hair that fell in ringlets down to her ass.

She also volunteered one day a week at the SPCA.

No Middle Name

“I was self important.

The one thing that sticks out when reading these pieces of poetry and prose is they are written by a young man who feels as though his view is unique and important. And, from what I recall of myself at the time, that’s precisely what I thought I was. It’s okay, it was my 20s.”

OleBuckarooJustCover

“When Ray signed the six-month lease on his one-bedroom apartment in Bunker Springs, the management company pitched the place to him as being “in a convenient location” and “budget-smart” and the neighborhood as a “hidden treasure.” They failed to mention it was in the midst of an underground sex district.
They did take pets though.”

I first got the idea for The Ole Buckaroo while chatting with fellow artists
on Jackson Square. It was a slow Sunday morning and everyone was a bit
bored. I remember asking Lidia, “Have you ever heard of an Ole
Buckaroo?” and then began describing the scene in the story in a
stream-of-conciousness way. I kept it in my head and turned it over in my
mind at stop lights or in line at the bank and thought I could get a short
story out of it. It is indeed smutty. And certainly rated NC-17 even by my
liberal scale. But regardless of the low brow the subject matter, I am
pleased with it because it represents the 40 year old writer I am. No longer
a self important bad, sad, poet, I instead wrote something that had a
natural narrative, characters and plot. I think it is the best piece of literature
I have eever written. So who cares if it is vulgar, rude, crude, dirty, filthy,
salacious, coarse, obscene, lewd, and pornographic?
I hope you enjoy it. -Varg

Buy the Print Edition here (ships in 2- 10 days).

For the Kindle edition: click here.

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They made it back to the square with a dozen barrels of sweet wine and corn whiskey. Some powerful fireworks. Some drugs and pharmacy items. The captain also donated some tools and textiles to the town, mostly linens and baskets, some mosquito repellent, freon, a few guns, motors, basic items they could keep or trade.

“Any trouble?” asked Mr. Rex.

“Just tardiness” replied Andre.

“Why did he say he was late?”

“Said he fought some picaroons at Old Delta.”

“He get any?”

“A few. He said they could tell something was up. Probably felt the pressure in their ears. He also said some fellas from Empire came up to the boat looking to trade some old nets and machine parts.”

“What did they look like?”

“Skin and bones.”

“And the town?”

“Said it was smaller. Some of the out buildings sunk a little more. Nobody living in them anymore. No women or kids. A few old men and less of them than last time.”

Rex thought for a second. Empire was his first camp in the free country. Back before he was appointed the title of Mr. Rex in Care Forgot. Even though he wasn’t born there. Nobody cared that he about that. What they cared most for was wits and soul and he was full f both. Most in the settlement now were dissidents rather than natives. Gave up on the other side and settled themselves instead of the land.

Rex was familiar with the drillers down there. They sustained themselves on fishing, farming, trapping and trade from their long levied islands. Since he went North the farms had gone from flooding every Summer and Spring to flooding all the time. And the stubborn people sdown there either scattered or suffered. So much animosity had built up between them and the real country that staying was the only option they felt they had.

“Ghosts,” Mr. Rex said. “…after all they have seen. After what they have gone through. It’s man against God down there now. Their levees are undermined and breaking apart. Their houseboats floating away. They are ghosts and perhaps soon we will be too.”

Andre knew Rex meant the storm. All the instruments and the satellite feeds suggested a surge higher than the levees, pushing up the old dead river, over the levees and, into the fortification.

“It’s Independence day chief. Let’s have a drink” he said.

A serialized short story mostly written in 2007 / 2008 and finally serialized here after a few years have past…

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Andre stood atop the Poland levee, trying to find the barge. Mosquitos were eating him up and niether the torches nor Ms. Mary’s oils was keeping them off.

“Goddamn skeeters!” Giles screamed, slapping himself on the face and neck. “These mahfuckers gettin’ worse and worse!” Then he lit another bottle rocket.

Andre agreed about the bugs but knew anything he said about them would encourage more of Giles’ chatter. He had endured more than he could stand. The late barge made it longer. The mosquitos made it worse.

“This capn’s jerkin’ our chains man! They ain’t comin’! They aint riskin’ it for our trade. They aint got the heart neither.”

Up the river, the houses were lighting up with warm amber glows. Careworn villagers were coming out to their screened porches and visiting with neighbors, and Andre could see by their body language that they too were wondering when the barge would get there. There was a nervous energy among them, as they looked down river at the small group of makeshift stevedores that gathered to unload the barge.

Andre was concerned about the barge. Perhaps the inbred idiot Giles was right. The captain was afraid he wouldn’t make it here and back. It was more than a night’s travel up to the Control Structure and the celebration wouldn’t wait.

Giles lit a bouquet of Roman candles. He was ready. The fireworks were the beginning of his celebration.  These moments were why he endured season after season. He had seen too much. His family had been here since the beginning of it all and he was the only one left. He believed in the spirit of the land and was well aware of it sinking beneath his feet. He told Andre once his family drove a totem so far into the alluvial silt they hit bedrock and that it was some sort of divine decree of his birthright here on this “new” land.

The top of the totem is still above water on their frontage plot upriver so he claimed.

Andre didn’t care much for his conversation but respected the blood, even if they started going crazy a hundred years back. His inane personality passed down from generation to generation and got worse copy after copy.

A horn blew twice, paused, and as Andre listened intently, blew a third time. The barge was coming into the crescent.

“Let’s go,” said Andre.

There seems to be a recent connection to dystopia in the South Louisiana aether. It makes its way through the collective consciousness of our region with artistic endeavors like Beasts of the Southern Wild and Moira Crone’s novel The Not Yet‘. Perhaps the humidity hastens the invisible conduits of thought from person to person?

That film and novel got me thinking a short story I wrote back when I first started blogging. It was meant to be a serial series here on The Chicory. It was called “The Independence Day Sermon of Jasper Theriot” and was about a ragged group of New Orleans die-hards who after the oil crash, a series of storms and the sea level rise, huddle on levee encampments, salvage scrap and drill for the last remnants of oil around the area to run their city. Their spiritual leader was a weird fella named Jasper Theriot.

I remember what I was thinking at the time it was written. I was thinking that no matter what, New Orleans was doomed. Like the wounded, vulnerable member of the pack, it wouldn’t last. It was too improbable. I connected the exuberance of the culture and its relentless, hypnotizing fascination with celebration, death and rebirth with an unconscious acceptance by each and every person who walked on this alluvial silt that New Orleans, like our singular lives, was temporary. So do what you can, while you can. Live, love, revel and rejoice because the darkness is almost upon us. Define the negative space with your joys and happiness.

I recall telling a neighbor about the story and he thought it would make a great film so I ditched the serial idea and began trying to piece together a larger, more sprawling story with him. He thought it would be intriguing to make it a third incarnation of the “Heart of Darkness” story wherein an outsider comes into the makeshift encampment to kill Jasper due to his inciting the country to revolt from the safe confines of the no-longer-sovereign city of New Orleans. The story grew from there and several more characters came into creation but then, like so many long-term art projects, it faded away for one reason or the next.

I held on to “The Independence Day Sermon of Jasper Theriot” film idea but my friendship with the neighbor also faded and, since he had some sort of creative ownership over the whole “Heart of Darkness” idea, the story kind of remained tied to that.

Inspired by what I saw in Beasts of the Southern Wild and by what I have head of “The Not Yet” (haven’t read it but am anxious to get to Octavia books and get a copy) I feel compelled to follow through on my original plan and post the story here in its serial form.

That said, I will also feel compelled to make a few edits along the way. There is no better editor than your future self you know!

I’ll begin posting it next week. The word count of the document is about 3600 words making it a decent length for a short story. Less than a novella, more than “flash fiction.” I’ll know after it is all said and done how much I edited it by comparing word counts before and after. It’s an exciting exercise for me actually, fascinated as I am with the continuing interaction between people’s past, present and future selves. How the past self helps and hurts the future self for example.

Anyway, if anyone feels like taking the time to see a sneak preview, I will post a short list of character traits I wrote out as I tried to establish who Jasper Theriot was. So I pictured him and his history in my head and wrote out this list to sort of provide a constitution for me to reference as I wrote about him. It’s actually a bit hysterical.

The Truths of Jasper Theriot

Jasper only wears Earth tones.
Japser is often seen chewing on stems of herbs.
Jasper listens to everyone’s story.
Jasper accepts everyone except those who reject him or his loved ones.
Jasper has many loved ones.
Jasper has self actualized.
Jasper is 6′ 4″.
Jaasper never issues an order.
Jasper never makes a decision.
Jasper was born in an unidentified Acadiana Parish.
Jasper’s hair is silver.
Japser is not afraid of death.
Jasper never mourns.
Jasper doesn’t hold government in contempt, only it’s failures.
Jasper likes young, creole women.
Jasper has been shot three times and stabbed once.
Jasper is known for elaborate costumes on appropriate occasions.
Jasper has a large tatoo that reads “Farewell to Flesh.”
Jasper’s closest confidant is Bruh Andre.
Jasper’s eyes are pale blue.
Jasper reads only text books.
Jasper does not do drugs (without a spiritual reason).
Jasper was chosen by his people, he did not choose them.
Jasper is a creature of the night and sleeps through the morning.
Jasper killed an oil executive in self defense.
Jasper is fascinated with geneology.
Jasper swims in the river for excercise.
Jasper can identify more than a hundred species of butterfly.
Jasper is suspect of social sciences, particularly historians.
Jasper’s home is equipped with many weather instruments.
All the women Jasper ever loved are dead.
Jasper will never trust someone who has been proved to be a liar.
Japser has no family.
Jasper was known to hitchhike on highways.
Jasper keeps up with friends on the other side.
Jasper calls his closest friends “cousin.”
Jasper has never driven a car.
As a child, Jasper was terrified of church.
Jasper does not believe in destiny.
Jasper sometimes feels effected by Universes vast and miniscule.
Jasper doesn’t wear sunglasses.
Jasper loves the pipe organ.
Jasper’s is a relentless journal keeper.
Jasper is a relentless letter writer.
Jasper has jumped from many bridges.
Jasper looks at you when he is talking to you.
Jasper loves farce.
When Jasper smiles, his eyes come close to shutting.
Jasper is left handed.