Creedence Clearwater Revival—Down on the Corner
Chip and Charles are hanging around Chip’s basement man cave. Chip’s parsonage sat on the edge of a sinkhole and, because of the drop in grade, actually had a walkout basement, unlike the vast majority of Florida houses. The room opened out to a patio underneath the first-floor deck, and thus was partially lit with natural light. The two were sitting across from each other on parallel couches. Between them was a table Chip had made out of an ancient wooden high-tension wire spool upon which he had painted the red N of Nebraska football. On the table are a couple of beers, a basket of Doritos, and a bowl of melted Velveeta, Chip’s favorite snack food, which Charles can barely stomach. The modest flat panel TV is showing a NASCAR race with the sound off. Continue reading “9. Tell the devil you can freeze hell”
Chip and Charles are hanging around Chip’s basement man cave, each on his own couch as usual. On the table between the couches are a couple of beers, a basket of Doritos, and a bowl of melted Velveeta, Chip’s favorite snack food, which Charles can barely stomach. The modest flat panel TV is showing a NASCAR race with the sound off.
Charles has brought the first draft of his Aleister chapter and Chip is intently reading. As always, Chip doesn’t quite know what to do, so he starts wandering around the basement. Everything is Nebraska-themed: the Big Red N throw rug, the football posters and framed pictures of Chip in his lineman’s uniform, the cups and glasses on the dry bar in the corner, even the treads on the stairs to the first-floor feature red Ns.
Continue reading “11. You’ve got to change your underwear, baby, before I start loving you.”
Charles met Steve not long after meeting Edie. One evening Charles was walking by the Mary Reed Building and heard Mozart’s “Rondo alla Turca” being played faster than he had ever heard it before. Curious, he found the piano practice room and stood at the door watching Steve tearing up the keyboard. Steve finished the piece, looked around, and saw Charles watching.
“Wow,” Charles said. “You have some real chops!”
“Naw. I got short fingers and can barely span an octave.”
“Well, you make up for it with speed and fire.” Charles played bass in a jazz band on campus. He had thought their keyboardist was pretty talented, but Steve blew him away.
Continue reading “12. The piano sounds like a cannonball / And the microphone smells like a beard”
J. Geils Band—So Sharp
Charles is working on a draft of a new blog post. He’s not sure where he’ll post it and not at all sure it will be received positively wherever he posts it. This one’s hot, he thinks. I need to talk with Chip about this before I post it. He texts Chip, who says, “Come on over to my office.” Chip throws on his jacket and walks across the street to Chip’s office.
“’Sup, your Dudeness?” Chip asks when Rita ushers Charles into the office.
“I’ve written this blog post about the interactions of really smart people, especially those who are eternally the smartest guys in the room.”
Chip replies, “Or gals?”
Continue reading “13. She’s so sharp, sharper than cheese”
Atlanta Rhythm Section—So Into You
Edie and Charles went to an amusement park and got on a Ferris wheel ride where the cabs spun on their long axes. Partway into the ride, Edie couldn’t take the disorientation and said, “I’m going to barf.”
Charles grabbed the wheel that controlled the spinning of the cab and constantly cranked it to keep the cab upright throughout the rest of the ride. His arms and shoulders were on fire as he struggled as the ride continued for what seemed like forever. Throughout the rest of the ride, Edie howled, “I’m gonna barf! Oh, my God, I’m gonna barf!” Continue reading “14. I am so into you, I can’t get to know the nurse”
Kamelot—Sacrimony (Angel Of Afterlife)
Charles is dreaming.
He meets Sigourney Weaver secretly in the back of a cruddy coffee shop, far away from the windows. They are involved in some sort of illicit undertaking, a plot, a heist, or something similar, and they quickly leave the shop, then walk the streets quickly, aimlessly.
Finally, in a large gathering in a roomy house, Sigourney takes Charles and another plot member each by the hand and winks, leading them into a corner of the huge living room, which is dominated by a king-sized canopied bed. She means to take them both to bed, but there are children all around in the living room, clamoring for autographs from Sigourney the star. Continue reading “14. The truth is lost and maybe never to be found / Like the shadows of my panty line”
Jeannie D’Arcy, wearing a long wrap-around skirt, a white peasant blouse, jeans jacket and desert combat boots, walked into the coffee shop and ordered a soy salted caramel mocha. She also grabbed a packaged vegan blueberry banana muffin. Impatiently, she sat down in a booth to eat the muffin and flipped open her iPad, settling it into the groove of her Bluetooth keyboard.
That damn Harlon, she thought, as she gathered her wavy auburn hair into a ponytail. Son of a bitch is on my last nerve. Continue reading “15. Blow up the world with strange magic – Trial”
At four o’clock, Jeannie packed up her stuff and got ready to walk back to her car. As she got up to go, she realized her right ankle hurt. Bending over to examine it, she saw a little cut that still bled a little. OK, that’s pretty freaky! That’s where Lady Zhurong nipped me with her sword! Jeannie’s brain seemed to lock for a moment. What . . . the . . . fuck, she thought. She shook her head and shivered. There’s no fucking way, no fucking way. I must have scratched it on the edge of the booth or something. She hurried out of the café onto Hayes Street and headed south.
She’d parked on the bottom level of the underground garage in a remote corner because she figured she might have to change in her car. She got into the car and dug around in the suitcase in the back seat to get her slinky sequined black dress and her black heels. She pulled the dress over her head and wriggled out of her peasant blouse. Then she squirmed to get the dress over her long skirt, which she then pulled off. Ditching the combat boots and grabbing her black purse (which contained her little black Remington RM380), she strapped on her heels. Finding her makeup bag, she did her lips and lashes in the rear view and patted on a little powder. Continue reading “16. Blow up the world with strange magic – Apprentice”
Weeks went by, with Jeannie still living with Juston. They kept separate beds but spent most of their spare time together. Juston told Jeannie more about Chaos Magick, and even had a few mage friends over for dinner. Jeannie went to Magic Universe drafts but didn’t play any games, afraid that she might inadvertently use her magic to win. MacAllan got the federal contract, and Juston hired Jeannie to be the AI team lead.
Both of them were at a loss as to how Jeannie could control her power. Jeannie, for her part, was so paranoid about accidentally using magic, that she carefully examined all her reactions to other people, hoping to tamp down her emotions. When stressful situations came up at work or with other people, Juston would helpfully whisper or text her, “Foolish Chaplain says chill.” Continue reading “17. Blow up the world with strange magic – Acquisition”
In the weeks following, Jeannie spent a great deal of time pondering the problem of broadcasting her power. It’s not like it’s a radio message, she thought. I can’t, for example, just take over the AMEBA array to broadcast healing worldwide. I need something with greater reach.
One day, Jeannie asked George, a co-worker, about some classified technology that she thought could help the project. Continue reading “18. Blow up the world with strange magic – Mastery”