Lingering Questions About the Drunk One-Legged Man

LegIt was after 9 o’clock on a weekday when a drunk one-legged man knocked on my door.

Let me begin by saying that my house is not in a particularly busy neighborhood. This is not any major city; it is a middle-class suburb. The kind of neighborhood, where you see the same old couple walking their dog at the same time every single night. Like clockwork. Everyone living near us is so familiar that my wife and I have given them nicknames. Nicknames I dare not mention here.

On the night of the one-legged man, my wife was out, and my son and I were watching Lord of the Rings (his recent obsession, which shows how much we are kin), my young daughter already fast asleep upstairs.

Typically, a door like ours does not get knocked on very often. I remember once during our first few weeks in the house when the knock came from some Seventh-Day Adventists. I told them that I was somewhere between atheist and agnostic. You would have thought they had won the lottery. They were so excited to meet me. Finally, I had to tell them I wasn’t interested and shut the door.

So this, in this neighborhood and at this time, was odd. The knock was loud and quick and both my son and I jumped. Even our dog, who is usually so aware of everything seemed surprised. I told my son, to go back to watching the movie, held my dog back and opened the door.

There was a white truck running in my driveway and the one-legged man was standing on my porch, hunched over like he was having trouble with his balance. There was no cane. His hair was disheveled and his clothes were filthy. His shirt was an old t-shirt, that was probably white once, but now yellow. I was never able to make out the image on it, and I did spend a few minutes squinting at it. He was wearing sweat shorts, so it was easy to see his artificial and metallic right leg going down to his tennis shoes. The man was so drunk I was not certain he could even see me.

“Is Julie in?” He asked.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know a Julie.”

He looked confused. “Julie lives here.”

Now my wife (not named Julie) and I have been in our house for almost ten years, and we did not buy it from someone named Julie. She was Cindi or Cynthia or some other kind of peepy C name. So this man was somewhere out of the distant past… Assuming, of course, a Julie even lived at my house at one time. Continue reading

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“Don’t Change Your Plans” by Ben Folds Five

Elf EarsMusic has always been very important to me. Many times when I look back at a time or a memory, a song will sneak in before an image. I thought it would be interesting to look back at people and moments by tapping into this quirk. This is the first in what I am thinking of calling my “With Music” series.

She had elf ears.

People confuse elf ears with vulcan ears, but that is just not fair. Vulcan ears (Spock) look out  of place for a reason; they are alien, different. The old Star Trek was filled with this. Want something to look alien? Accent something that we are not used to. But elf ears are different. They are an extension of nature, they embrace the face, accenting, like a playful cursive twist at the end of a letter. They can remind more of a vine slowing stretching just that little bit farther up.

I first saw her at a writing table. It was being held at a local museum and everyone else there isn’t worth mentioning or remembering. Cruel to say, I know, but by then I had attended enough writing tables (thanks to colleges and bookstores and libraries) so that people fell more into categories than something flesh and blood. There was the guy who wants to be Stephen King (a little creepy and always stares a little too much), the older woman wanting to write a nice romance (I always feel there is hidden heartbreak there), the angry youth (who may or may not share poetry, but would always share their annoyance through expressions), the man with the mustache who is writing a thriller (there is always a man with a mustache who is writing an action thriller) and etc., etc., etc.

Writing tables like that, including the one with the young woman with the elf ears, was one of the reasons I was moving to Los Angeles. I had attended a lot of them while living in Grand Rapids, hoping one would give me some kind of sign of what to do next in my life and writing career. Frankly, by then I had been waiting enough. That is what my life felt like up until that moment, one long wait.

I had waited through college, waited through part of grad school, and now waited while counting down to when I was to leave in December for the University of Southern California. Sunny Los Angeles… where I was certain all my writing dreams would come true and everyone would recognize me for the genius I was sure I was. Continue reading

The Stony Hue of a January Morn

January1 of 3

there is
no beauty
in a January snow
and
it conveys
no possibilities-

January cold
does not touch your nose
or tickle your skin-
it begins in your bones
deep in your marrows
then slinks out
like a death
never letting go-

there is a limit
in our cold, cold steps
and each could be the fated last
but we trudge
trudge
trudge forward
never running
forever counting down-

the sun is lost
baked red, hidden away-
the gray clouds will not free it
trapped like an animal
in a dark covered cave
waiting and growling deep-

when the world ends
it will look like a January morn-
quiet-
soulless-
colorless-
void-
and no amount of breath will bring it back- Continue reading

Buy Books for Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

If you enjoy my blog or my books why not consider sharing the love with other readers? I promise that they have each been painstakingly constructed to fit in stockings and under trees…

A Jane Austen Daydream

A Jane Austen DaydreamAll her heroines find love in the end–but is there love waiting for Jane?

Jane Austen spends her days writing and matchmaking in the small countryside village of Steventon, until a ball at Godmersham Park propels her into a new world where she yearns for a romance of her own. But whether her heart will settle on a young lawyer, a clever Reverend, a wealthy childhood friend, or a mysterious stranger is anyone’s guess.

Written in the style of Jane herself, this novel ponders the question faced by many devoted readers over the years–did she ever find love? Weaving fact with fiction, it re-imagines her life, using her own stories to fill in the gaps left by history and showing that all of us–to a greater or lesser degree–are head over heels for Jane.

You can find it in the following formats:

  • Print version for $13.25 on Amazon (here)
  • eBook for Kindle for only $3.99 (here)
  • The NEW audiobook on Audible.com (here) or iTunes

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, CoverThe cursed and foreboding McGregor Castle is the most terrifying and haunted location in all of the British Empire. Only a brave (or foolish) soul would consider visiting it, let alone staying within its walls for five days. In other words, a perfect dare for a man like Maximilian Standforth!

Maximilian Standforth, famed playboy aristocrat and private detective, is a genius with dangerous tastes. With Bob (his trusty carriage driver, biographer, and bodyguard) and Maggie Collins (actress, spy, and maid) by his side, Maximilian will experience horrors and madness unlike any seen before. For it is at McGregor Castle that the team will discover more than they ever could imagine in this very experimental and genre-breaking thriller.

You can find it in the following formats:

  • In print for just $9.49 via Amazon (here)
  • An eBook for Kindle at the low prices of $3.99 (here)

My Problem With Doors

My Problem With DoorsJacob is lost in time.

He has been that way ever since he was a child for doors don’t work for him like they do for the rest of us. A door can take him to the past or the future, into any house, into any country. This  is Jacob’s plea for help.

This novel is an unpredictable adventure filled with thrills, romance, horror, and even the occasional cameo from historical figures like Lord Byron and Jack the Ripper.

It is available as:

  • Print for $15.75 on Amazon (here)
  • A NEW eBook edition(!) with an exclusive afterword for just $9.99 on Kindle (here)

Megan

MeganThis is the story of Megan Wane.

To me and you, she is just a normal worker in a drab office, but in her imagination there exists an entire world, one she has escaped into ever since she was a child. It is the land of Prosperity and it is filled with dragons, castles, trolls, moon people, and wizards, And in Prosperity, Megan is a princess and a super hero.

This is the story of her worst day and how Prosperity saved the real her.

It is out now as:

  • Print for $15.95 on Amazon (here)
  • A NEW eBook edition including an exclusive preface by the author (me). It is $9.99 for Kindle (here)

Me Stuff

Me Stuff, front coverThieves, psychics, evil poets, mad men, car companies, literary greats, tornadoes, models, vasectomies, bankers, children, Satanists, princesses, truckers, comics, rock stars, strippers, superheroes…

This is a new collection of some of the most popular blogposts from this very site! Made for both the fan and the newbie, this book has something for everyone… Well, except for those who don’t like entertaining stories. This book can’t help those people.

You can find it as:

  • In print for just $8.99 via Amazon (here)
  • As an eBook for only $3.99 for Kindle (here)

Flashback Monday: “Cereal, Milk, and a Bank Loan” from ME STUFF

Bag of MoneyFor today’s Flashback Monday, I’m diving back into my experience in banking. Well, a bank at a grocery store, which to me still seems a weird idea. But this article has bank robbers, psychics, strippers, everything you could want in a story about high finance… or grocery financing.

This is the seventh installment in my doing these Flashback Mondays. You can check out the others installments here, herehere, here, here. and here. They are all included in my new book ME STUFF. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of my banking misadventures:

I own a copy of The Satanic Bible because of my time working at a bank.

Let me begin by pointing out that this was not a normal bank. For some reason, the higher-ups in the banking world (who I always like to imagine as fat pigs in suits with cigars) thought it would be a good idea to have a bank in a grocery store. Really? Okay, sure. This grocery store was also in the heart of a more struggling community, so the idea of a bank being in that store in that area made the entire experience that much odder.  Sometimes it would leave me feeling like we were taunting the more struggling citizens (those shopping with food stamps). Not for you…

No one that knows me would have argued that banking is the best career choice for me. Yes, I enjoy interacting with people and customer service to a certain extent, but numbers are not my thing. The one time I had ever (ever!) needed a tutor was for a beginning college course in Accounting. I remember the tutor having a hard time explaining something to me and so she would talk slower and slower as if it was the speed of her explanation that was the problem. For all I know that tutor is still sitting someplace trying to finish that sentence.

I was in grad school at the time (working towards a master’s in English Literature), and the job worked around my busy classroom schedule, so I couldn’t say no, no matter how off this position was for me.  It almost made me feel like I had a secret identity. At school I was in cool t-shirts and hoodies, talking about Virginia Woolf and William Shakespeare; at work, I was a business professional talking about mortgages. I was the English major’s version of Clark Kent.Me Stuff, front cover

This article was presented in two parts on the site; the first part can be found here, and the second here. Or, better yet, you can grab a copy of ME STUFF which contains 40 editorials like this one and it is super cheap-o.

The eBook version of the book is only $1.99 (here on Amazon) and in print for only $8.99 (here on Amazon).

Flashback Monday: “The Night I Stopped Being a Model” from ME STUFF

ModelsThis is the fourth entry in Flashback Monday (you can check out the other entries here, here, and here). Each of these posts are part of my new collection ME STUFF.

Today, I am sharing “The Night I Stopped Being a Model” which includes everything from lingerie to Max Headroom.

Here is a bit from the beginning:

From around the age of 8 to about 13, I was a model. Yes, I once worked it.

Before anyone gets overwhelmed by images of catwalks, raining money, national commercials, and maybe bulimia, this was all local stuff; the work was not even unionized. And, to be honest, even locally I was not very popular. My brother was the popular one. He even had an agent before me. He is six-years younger than me, did a lot of local theater and had cute long curly hair.  He played the camera, I stared dumbly at it.

So in a way, I was the twofer. “If you need an older brother for the cute kid, we have one ready for you!”

The first ad, I ever did was for a holiday commercial for Meijer. It was around GI Joe action figures, and for some reason they had me and this other boy dress in matching camouflage (because boys did that, coordinate their clothing with their toys). And for about 15 minutes, this stranger and I played with army toys on the ground (that was turned into less than five seconds on TV). Knowing me as a kid (and now), the image of me dressed like that playing with that kind of toy is kind of hilarious. That’s acting, that is!

You can read the rest of the article here.Me Stuff, front cover

Or, even better, you can grab a copy of ME STUFF which contains 40 editorials like this one and it is super cheap-o. The eBook version of the book is only $1.99 (here on Amazon) and in print for only $8.99 (here on Amazon).

Only a few days left to win an autographed copy of ME STUFF (the new book)!

On July 15, two readers will win an autographed copy of my new book, ME STUFF. Have you signed up yet? What are you waiting for?  Click on the link below; it is just calling to you, man!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Me Stuff by Scott D. Southard

Me Stuff

by Scott D. Southard

Giveaway ends July 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

ME STUFF is a collection of 40 personal and fun posts from this site. Here is the description from the back cover:

Thieves, psychics, evil poets, mad men, car companies, literary greats, tornadoes, models, vasectomies, bankers, children, Satanists, princesses, truckers, comics, rock stars, strippers, superheroes…

Me Stuff is a collection of some of the most popular blogposts from Scott Southard’s writing site “The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard.” Made for both the fan and the newbie, Me Stuff has something for everyone… Well, except for those who don’t like entertaining stories. This book can’t help those people.

Since I created it for my followers on this site, I made it extra-affordable, only $1.99 as an eBook (here) and $8.99 in print (here).  If you want to know more first (kick the literary tires), I shared an excerpt from the book recently, this link. It is called “Poisoning the Genius.” It’s about that awkward moment we all have experienced… when you poison a professor who is also a literary legend.  (Oh wait, was that just me?)

Good luck to all of the entries!

Flashback Monday: “Poisoning the Genius” from ME STUFF

poison-symbol1Last week, a brand spanking new book collecting forty of my posts from this site was released! To commemorate the release of ME STUFF, I’m going to be sharing some of the posts that made the cut in the book each Monday. I’m really proud of the book  and I hope you will check it out.

Here is the beginning of one of the works, “Poisoning the Genius”:

I want to say this at the start and I want it be clear to all who read this that I had no intention of killing my professor.

However, I’m certain if things had turned out worse that fateful night, some of my fellow students would have sold me down the river. I can picture them even today, accusingly pointing their finger across the courtroom at me. “There he is! That is the man who did it! That is the monster!”

The funny thing is there is actually a precedence for poisoning teachers in my family. Back when my grandmother was a principal at monthly meetings one of the heavier set teachers used to eat all of the snacks before the other teachers had a chance. My grandmother, being my grandmother, decided that she was going to send a “subtle” message to that teacher.

At the next full staff meeting, my grandmother brought in “special” brownies. Oh, they were fine. Perfectly fine… except for the biggest piece which was filled to the brim with laxatives.

That teacher called in sick the next day.

You can read the rest of the post on this site here. OR, better yet, you can grab a copy of ME STUFF. The eBook version of the book is only $1.99 (here on Amazon) and in print for only $8.99 (here on Amazon).

But wait, that’s not all!  Two lucky readers on GoodReads.com will win an autographed copy of the book. Here is the info below. Enter today!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Me Stuff by Scott D. Southard

Me Stuff

by Scott D. Southard

Giveaway ends July 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Cereal, Milk, and a Bank Loan (Part 1)

Bag of MoneyI own a copy of The Satanic Bible because of my time working at a bank.

Let me begin by pointing out that this was not a normal bank. For some reason, the higher-ups in the banking world (who I always like to imagine as fat pigs in suits with cigars) thought it would be a good idea to have a bank in a grocery store. Really? Okay, sure. This grocery store was also in the heart of a more struggling community, so the idea of a bank being in that store in that area made the entire experience that much odder.  Sometimes it would leave me feeling like we were taunting the more struggling citizens (those shopping with food stamps). Not for you…

No one that knows me would have argued that banking is the best career choice for me. Yes, I enjoy interacting with people and customer service to a certain extent, but numbers are not my thing. The one time I had ever (ever!) needed a tutor was for a beginning college course in Accounting. I remember the tutor having a hard time explaining something to me and so she would talk slower and slower as if it was the speed of her explanation that was the problem. For all I know that tutor is still sitting someplace trying to finish that sentence.

I was in grad school at the time (working towards a master’s in English Literature), and the job worked around my busy classroom schedule, so I couldn’t say no, no matter how off this position was for me.  It almost made me feel like I had a secret identity. At school I was in cool t-shirts and hoodies, talking about Virginia Woolf and William Shakespeare; at work, I was a business professional talking about mortgages. I was the English major’s version of Clark Kent.

Being in a grocery store, the bank looked more like a pharmacy, with one back office and a long counter. But instead of pills we were pushing financial obligations and long-term debt.  We were there to open accounts, sell the services of the bank. We were the front line of a financial war, and the shoppers walking around were the targets. Our weapons were free rulers and pens and other minor office supplies with our logo on them. It was also my job every thirty minutes or so to wander around those grocery aisles, interrupting strangers who were in the middle of shopping.  Honestly, it all felt so very rude and I hated it.

“Hi, I noticed you are buying groceries. Would you like a free notepad for your grocery list? No… Okay… Well, I’m with the bank over there and we are offering a new special on an equity loan… And… I’m sorry for bothering you.”

I said sorry a lot when I was on that job. Continue reading

My Lost Years in Trucking (Part 2)

full moonThis is part 2, part 1 can be found here.

We were the shadow people.

The lost boys and girls. The six of us who worked third shift were not invited to meetings or parties. No one sung Happy Birthday to us or bought us a cake. We were the forgotten souls that haunted the trucking halls after everyone went home. Yes, I know what it is like to be a ghost.

There was a certain level of mad freedom that came with working this late shift. For all of the rules were nonexistent for us. They disappeared in a poof of smoke once the day people left to continue their real lives.

  • No internet? Sure (until the boss left).
  • No music? Of course (until the last car drove away).
  • Scheduled breaks and lunches? Yes (whatever).

Before I began this job I used to consider myself a good worker, trustworthy. But when thrown in an occupation I had no interest in, I seemed to be a lot more questionable than I ever imagined myself to be. It seems I am somewhat a rebel. James Dean. Marlon Brando. Go figure.

We did have a supervisor, but we rarely saw him. There was a good reason for this actually. He was having an affair at the time and checking in with us was one of his excuses for meeting up with his mistress. I never had to answer a call and make an excuse to his wife (who, by the way, was home with a baby), but other employees did. If I did ever get his wife on the phone, I am almost a hundred percent sure I would have told her.

The mistress was a secretary from the day shift, and oddly in that office this affair was not too surprising for me the longer I was there. Right from the first day sitting with Marian I could sense the amount of flirting going on around. In many ways it was like an uninhibited high school. No teachers or parents here to tell you no! And we night owls knew everyone’s secrets. Continue reading