On with the show!
This Week's Question: Where and When Did You Learn to Write?
Funny you should ask. Me, I was walking down a dark alley late one night, looking to score. I'd been trembling all day, needing a fix bad. A friend of a friend of a brother of a girl I knew told me this was the place to get what I wanted. I hoped he wasn't wrong . . .
Out of the gloom stepped a kid I recognized. He was older, one of the eighth-grade "bad boys" from school, the ones moms warn you to stay away from.
He grabbed my shoulder. I tried to run. He held firm.
"I got whatcha want, kid," he whispered.
"You do?" I said, ceasing my struggle. Clearly he was aware of my addiction, knew it demanded to be fed.
"Yep," he said. "Anything you want."
I blinked. "How?" I said. "The cops put the hammer down. I couldn't find it at any price."
The kid smiled.
"I got connections," he said.
"Anyone I know?"
He made a fist of his hammy little fingers. "Whatchu gonna do, go to them direct and cut me out?" he barked. "That ain't wise, Gertrude."
I shook my head. "I'd never go around you. Just wondering if I knew your suppliers, is all."
He softened, appearing to believe me. "Miriam Webster's my main guy," he said. "Know him?"
I shook my head. "I'm only second grade. Haven't been around much."
"Well," the kid said, "Ol' Web's a good guy. When he's not spoutin' talk I don't unnerstand." He pulled open his raincoat.
His gold tooth flashed in the sodium vapor lights. "That's right, kid," he said. "Them's is verbs."
" 'Them's is' is redundant," I managed to gasp. I couldn't stop staring. "You have adjectives. Nouns. Modifiers. And . . . and . . ." I couldn't say it.
He laughed, knowing. "Dangling participles," he said. "Put that in your pipe and smoke it."
I shoved my hand in my pocket, brought out all my milk money. "I'll take everything," I said, trying to keep my voice from quavering.
He snatched the money, then stared over the tops of his Man From UNCLE spy glasses. "You're not gonna overdose, are ya?" he demanded. "That'd make me look bad--"
"No," I promised, holding my right hand in Scout's Honor. "I'll be careful."
He nodded and gave me all the words he had.
"Plenty more where those came from, too," he said with a wink. "See ya next time, kid."
"I-I don't know if I can afford to come back . . ."
"You'll find the money. Words are an addiction ya can't beat." He hawked and spat, then melted back into the shadow of the alleyway.
Clutching my precious words--my God, there was even a gerund!--I ran home. Poured them into the big metal typewriter my folks had bought me for Christmas. (That's me and the typewriter at the top of the page, with me dressed in fashionable Kennedy-era bow tie, white shirt and Hush Puppies.) Started banging the keys. The first sentence gathered from the words I'd worked so hard to buy:
"It was a dark and gloomy night . . ."
And that's how I learned to write.
In other news that caught my eye this week:
Monsters Under the Bed
An artist thought: Hey, what if I took children's sketches and rendered them realistically? And thus a nifty site was born. Check it out at: http://www.elezea.com/2011/12/realistic-childrens-paintings/
Blimey! They're Musical Limeys!
The good blokes and blokettes on the British warship HMS Ocean will be home in time for Christmas.
That wasn't a certainty. Way back early this year, they were told they'd be away for seven weeks, to participate in naval exercises with other nations' ships. But like Gilligan's S.S. Minnow and its fabled three-hour tour ". . . yes, a three-hour tour . . ." the ship was diverted to Libya, and thence to other war operations. Total time away from home: 225 days, with 176 of them at sea. Everyone was gloomy, figuring, Santa at sea this year. Ho-ho-effin-ho.
But the Christmas gods smiled upon them, and they found out they'd be back in Jolly Olde on December 9: tomorrow. So they put together a video to celebrate their good fortune and that they'd be spending the holidays with loved ones after all. Here it is, set to Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You." It's bright, whimsical, and full of joy, so I wanted to share it with you here:
Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy December to those who don't.
About Yr. Hmbl. Corrsp.
His latest is Torn Apart, a finalist for the Thriller Award for Best Novel and a Suspense Magazine Book of the Year.
Shane, whose last name is improbably pronounced YER-kee, spent 25 years as a newspaper editor, most prominently at the Chicago Sun-Times, before jumping into crime fiction. An original member of International Thriller Writers, he was chairman of the ThrillerFest literary festival in New York and founding director of its agent-author matching program, AgentFest. His novels—available in print and e-books—are in translation worldwide, and his national bestselling debut, Blown Away, was named Best First Mystery in 2006 by RT Book Reviews. He lives in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, the home of world-famous detective Dick Tracy, with whom Shane shares no resemblance except steely jaw and manly visage.
Check him out at http://www.shanegericke.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.