CURIOUS

adjective    1 eager to learn or know, inquisitive;    
2 arousing or exciting speculation, interest, or attention through being inexplicably unusual; 
3 a blog by Kris "skinnyk" Morron

2/25/21

I’ve been doing this for four days. No breaks, no one has come to rescue me. I’ve been here, at my desk writing. Writing and writing and writing. I cannot stop. 


This all started as a challenge put forth by another writer. He challenged a small group of creators, including yours truly, to work through the weekend. We all wanted to see what we could accomplish if we cleared our schedules and gave ourselves much-needed time to ply our trades. The challenge seemed motivating and being the curious man I am, I thought I would give it a go. 

My hand is cramped, my mind is foggy, my clothes are soiled. I am disgusting and yet I cannot stop. I keep slashing black scars into this parchment as if it had wronged me. The story I began in the early hours of Saturday has long since faded into memory. As Tuesday comes to a close, I am writing because I am possessed or haunted, it’s hard to tell at this point. 

Things began innocently enough. Saturday was a very productive day. I made a pot of tea and laid out enough biscuits to last the weekend. The day before, I had gone to the shop and purchased some new paper and my favorite pens. Before I began, I organized my writing space so that I would be comfortable and to reduce the number of distractions. And by all accounts, I succeeded. After an hour of warm-up gibberish, a story came to me. Ink poured onto the page with little effort, and I was high off the fumes of inspiration. Time was no longer a construct that existed in my space. I was lost in my inner world and the story guided my hand. It was all so easy. But I was being deceived.

It was in the early hours of Sunday morning that I began to realize I had not stopped for quite some time; in fact, I wasn’t even sure what time it was. The tea had long grown cold and the biscuits were nearly gone, consumed with little consideration for their flavor, merely for the acquisition of energy to keep going. As I rose to use the loo in those early morning hours my body rebelled. I had grown stiff as a board and my joints cracked as I stretched my legs, released the tension from my fingers, and turned my head. As I sat upon the pot, the siren song sang loudly in my ear. Ideas continued to flood my mind. I needed to return. 

I can hardly remember the next day. I never parted the shades to let in any light. Maybe it was cloudy, and the day seemed like an extension of the night. It’s all a blur, but the writing continued. Ideas kept coming. Any time I felt the urge to stop, to go make some tea, to eat a real meal the story pulled me back. I didn’t want to forget anything. I would not neglect the muse that was speaking through me.

I was supposed to go to work on Monday, but I didn’t even know when Sunday ended and Monday began. I was no longer living in my apartment. I had transported myself to wherever it was that I was writing about. Oh, the pain I experienced that day. I fought through it and kept going. The ideas were incredible. The dialogue, like nothing I had ever written. This was it. I was writing my masterpiece. And then came the knock.

That good-for-nothing Mr. Pillims was asking for a cup of sugar. He was always baking something and always borrowing ingredients from me rather than going to the market. Usually, I didn’t mind as he typically shared his delectable creations with me as a means of payment. Well, Monday was the wrong day for him to come calling. I tried to ignore him at first, but he was persistent. His knocking became louder and his calls more desperate. “Please, I know you’re there. All I need is a bit of sugar. Tasty cakes for the lone writer. It will be worth it, I promise.”

I begrudgingly rose from my desk to a chorus of cracks and pops, limped to the kitchen to grab the sugar, limped to the door, thrust the whole bag into his arms, and slammed the door. I said not a word, gave him as little time as I could, but the damage had been done. The muse had left.

To be continued…

2/22/21

“This is it. Today is the first day of your new life.” Daniel stood at the mirror in his bathroom giving himself a last-minute look over before he had to leave. Everything seemed in order. He shaved for the first time in a few weeks and by some miracle, not a single nick. His old suit was dry-cleaned and pressed and looked as good as it did on the first day he wore it, his mom’s wedding day. The knot of his tie was perfect, with just the right amount of dimple underneath it. “You’re lookin’ good and feelin’ it. This is gonna happen for you. You’re gonna get this job.”

Daniel ran up the stairs that led from his basement apartment to his parent’s kitchen. His mom was by the coffee machine waiting for him with a to-go cup of coffee in her hand. “My baby is lookin’ sharp this mornin’!”

“Thanks, Ma.”

Don was sitting at the table, reading the paper and sipping on his own cup of joe. He folded down one side of the paper to reveal an inquisitive look and a raised eyebrow. “How you feeling, Daniel?”

“I’m good. I’m good.”

“You got this. We practiced. You’re right for the job.” Don wasn’t an overly enthusiastic guy—very practical—so every little movement was meant to convey something. He gave Daniel a half-smile and a slight nod of approval. “Now, go hit a home run.”

“Thanks, you g…”

Daniel’s mom, cut him off mid-sentence, thrust the mug in his hand, and pushed him towards the door. “You gotta go. Don’t want you missin’ the bus today. You got this, baby.” She kissed him on the cheek as he threw on his tan trench coat and plaid scarf. “Love you.”

“Love you too, Momma.”

 


Daniel had been following the weather for the last few days. It had been an unusually cold spring and every forecast predicted that today was going to be right in line with the rest, cold and windy. As he walked down the driveway, Daniel quickly noticed the forecasters had been wrong. It was a warm and partly cloudy April morning. Daniel and his mom had moved into Don’s house after the wedding. The neighborhood was filled with people who drove into the city for work. Hardly anyone took the bus this far out in the ‘burbs, except for Daniel so he was used to the quiet streets he was walking down.

Daniel found this time to be a gift, an opportunity to dream and let his mind wander. He often found himself thinking about what he wanted to do with his life or the person he would like to meet and have a relationship with. Every once in a while, he would allow his inner child to emerge and daydream about fantastic worlds that were hidden amongst the banality of suburban life. Not one block from his home, almost on cue, Daniel noticed something unusual on the sidewalk ahead of him. 

As he approached, he saw some words written in pink chalk. Each step brought the message closer and more in focus, “HEY YOU”. Daniel stopped so that his toes pointed at the two words and took a moment to tilt his head in curiosity. Right above the text was a rather long arrow pointing to more pink words written on the sidewalk across the street on the next block ahead of him. 

It was in the direction Daniel needed to go to catch the bus, so he decided to see what came next. He took purposeful steps towards the next message and was interested in seeing what it said. “DO YOU LIKE PIRATES?”. After Daniel read the odd question he looked up and all around. The streets were quiet; he was alone in this little game. Another arrow was drawn above the words and Daniel could see the next message about 100 feet away, awaiting his gaze.

“HOW ABOUT TREASURE?” Another arrow. Another 100 feet. 

“YAR ALMOST THERE!” There was another arrow, only this one led to one that pointed around a corner. It wasn’t the exact route Daniel usually took to get to the bus stop, but he knew the neighborhood well enough to know that if he turned the corner and followed the arrow he would still get to the bus on time, so he continued to play along. 

Once he rounded the corner, he noticed an arrow that was pointing at a tree. When Daniel got to the small maple, he noticed someone had drawn a chalk arrow from the base of the tree up to about knee height. The tip of the arrow was pointing at a little nook. Daniel noticed something reflecting the morning light in his direction. He crouched down as he used to when he played catcher on Don’s softball team. Crammed in the crack he found a golden coin. 

“What the…” A little surprised by what he had found, Daniel extended his fingers and hesitantly pulled out a Sacagawea dollar. “Huh. A fool's bounty I guess.” As the thought crossed his mind, he noticed a small piece of paper had been put in the crack behind the coin. Daniel removed the piece of hand-made paper and unfolded it. Upon the parchment he found a short note written in an old-school looking style of calligraphy, “THIS HERE’S A COIN, BUT YAR TREASURE LIES AHEAD, MATEY.”

Daniel didn’t have much time to contemplate the message as he heard the bus pull up to the stop before his and he wasn’t about to miss the bus and be late for his interview. He stuffed the coin and note in his pocket and ran to the bus stop, getting there just in time. The sense of relief he felt upon sitting in his seat pushed the coin to the back of his thoughts and he began to mentally prepare for the interview.


 

The moment Daniel stepped into the office he knew he wasn’t going to get the job. It’s not like the interview didn’t go well. All the preparation paid off and he left feeling like all the effort he and Don had put in to get ready had been worthwhile, but he just fell deep down they weren’t going to hire him. The interview was too brief and the interactions between him and the people interviewing him didn’t feel natural. As he was leaving, Daniel looked around at the people sitting at their desks, hard at work. They looked miserable. No one was talking to each other, no smiles, no one even looked up to see who the potential new guy was. 

As he boarded the elevator to descend back down to the exit, Daniel tried to reassure himself that after seeing the work environment, not getting the job was for the better. Regardless, it was another interview (the fifth in the last two weeks) and still no work. He couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed as he exited the building and stepped onto the plaza outside. He didn’t have any more interviews planned for the day so there was little purpose to his gait. Daniel looked around and took in his surroundings. People were busily walking around, talking with others, and looking important. Everyone was moving about except one man sitting on the edge of a cement wall that bordered a green park-like area that was likely used by employees so they could eat lunch outside on nice days like today.

“Hey, can you spare some change?” The man on the wall was looking right at Daniel. Daniel couldn’t help but think that he had been singled out because of how out-of-place he looked amongst the employed. “The guy over there is selling hot dogs; two for a dollar. Can you spare some change so I can eat?”

Daniel felt some empathy for the man talking to him. He’d been living in Don’s basement for a year now because he was having such a difficult time finding a job. “Tell you what, I’m pretty hungry and a hot dog sounds great. You wanna have lunch with me?”

A relieved smile broke across the man’s face as he walked towards Daniel. “If you’re buyin’, I’m in.”

Daniel extended his hand to the approaching man as he asked, “What’s your name?”

“William. William Kidd.”

“Like the pirate?”

William chuckled as he delivered his well-worn reply to the question he’d been asked countless times before, “My parents were overly enthusiastic Charles Laughton fans and not very creative when it came to names.”

“Well. I can relate. My mother named me Daniel after the guy in the Bible.”

William's lips parted in a broad, kindly smile as he took Daniel’s hand and replied, “Pleasure to meet you, Daniel. Welcome to the lion’s den.”

The two men approached the hot dog stand and were greeted by a very enthusiastic vendor. “Hello, my friends! Today’s special, two dogs for a dollar.”

Daniel held up two fingers as he ordered, “Sounds great.” As the dogs were being lifted from the hot dog bathhouse and placed upon bright white pillowy buns, Daniel reached into his pocket to grab his wallet. As his fingers entered, he felt the cold sides of the golden dollar first. Instead of grabbing the leather bifold, he grabbed the gold coin instead. Having had forgotten about the treasure he found earlier that day; Daniel held the coin up to look at it in a bit of wonderment. 

His focus on the coin was quickly broken by the vendor’s inquiry, “you want any ketchup or mustard on these?”

“Uh, yeah. Sorry. I’ll take some mustard. How about you, William?”

“I’ll take a stripe of both, thank you.”

The condiments were distributed, the dogs were wrapped, and Daniel flipped the coin to the vendor to complete the transaction. “Where’s a good place to sit around here?”

“I always like eating on the bench under the trees over where I was sitting. That alright with you, Daniel?”

“Sounds great.” 

Both men carried their dogs to a table that was being warmed by the late morning sun. As they ate, they had a pleasant conversation about why Daniel was there and how his interview went. All-in-all, both men were enjoying their meal when all of the sudden William shouted to a man walking into the building wearing what was clearly a very expensive suit.

“Hey, Jerry! How are you doing? It’s me! Don’t you remember me? William?” The man was surprised by the shouting and briefly looked over. As soon as he recognized William he immediately looked away and quickened his pace.

“Who’s that?”

“That was my old boss. I used to be a janitor in that building there. 15 years of cleaning their shit and all-of-the-sudden they couldn’t afford to pay me anymore. Guess they couldn’t afford to give up any of their expensive suits and fancy cars.”

“I’m sorry, William.”

“I don’t want your pity, I’m fine. Most days I pick up odd jobs, enough to get by. On days when I’m not workin’, I like to come down here and make those assholes feel uncomfortable.”

Both men laughed and enjoyed the rest of their hot dogs in silence. Daniel took in the moment. The sun felt great on his face. The hot dog was fine. He was really enjoying William’s company. After the unsuccessful interview, this moment felt like a gift. Though Daniel still needed to find a job, he wasn’t worried about it. His time with William was pleasantly reassuring that everything might not go as planned, but that he would be alright. Daniel let out a small chuckle.

“What’s that all about, brother?”

“The most extraordinary thing happened this morning. If I told you about it, you likely wouldn’t believe it.”

“You can keep your secrets. I don’t mind.”

“Thank you, William. Yar a good man.”

2/17/21

 

Són sits alone. It is quiet inside his cave. The noises that populate the world outside have no place in here when he is communing with the Force. He can sense the Force outside, but out there it is wild; it does not abide by any rules. Here, in this most ancient of Jedi sites, Són can focus the Force like the green kyber crystal focuses energy in his saber. He reaches out and the electricity of the Force hums around him. Tiny rocks and insects slowly rise a few inches off the ground. Behind his eyelids, he can see the green glow of the Force. He always sees it as a green mist that surrounds him. To his knowledge, he is the only Jedi that can sense the Force in this way. The electric mist fills the room and tethers him to all of the life that surrounds him. His mind opens. 

 

When Són reaches this state, his connection to the Force branches out across the galaxy like arteries that branch out from his heart and veins that bring the energy back to him. It is an intergalactic communication system, but unlike a comlink, there are no words, only emotions, and on the rarest of occasions images. While Són can connect with the Force this way anywhere, this cave, the Cave of Kibor always allows him to reach a little further. The most vivid images he has received have come from meditations he has had here. Today will be no exception.

 

It happens the same way each time. The green mist vibrates with emotions. Today he feels fear. The fear comes from a small point in the room. That area pulses and a circle of chaos, of unstable particles, emerges and violently ripples. Without any sense of reason or predictability, the center of the circle sucks in like a vortex and a window into another place slowly opens up like an aperture letting more light into a room. Són sees a dense forest. He sees a young girl in the late end of the first quarter of her life running, looking over her shoulder when there is nothing on the path that might trip her up. 

 

At first, Són cannot sense what pursues her, he can only sense her fear, but without warning, the forest foliage becomes darker. The branches, leaves, vines, all of the vegetation blocks out the sun, and the jungle becomes ominously still. The girl runs, but the claustrophobic forest slows her advance and soon she is clawing at a wall of green. Small vines that have grown into the most intricate and sturdy of nets rip under her fingers but do not yield a way forward. With a strange sense of intention, the darkness creeps in further. The girl stops. All of the sudden, Són feels it, the dark side of the Force. It feels aggressive, yet still obscure. No one is wielding the dark side of the Force, it is just there, like a minute virus, invisible to the eye, waiting to ensnare a victim. This girl is its target. 

 

The dark side advances on the girl. She can feel it. She turns slowly to face the ghost that approaches. It advances on her. She falls to her knees. For a brief moment, she looks up with her blue eyes at a small break in the canopy. A pinpoint of light shines down on her face, but before she can truly appreciate it, the light is covered up. She closes her eyes and bows her head to the ground. The dark side is upon her. Her body goes limp and then all is quiet.

 

Són waits in anxious curiosity to see what happens next and the moment stretches out like an eternity. Without reason or warning, the girl's body spasms, vibrating like an earthquake lives inside of her. Her face contorts and her mouth opens as she silently screams in agony and despair. She stops. She slowly raises her head and looks straight at Són. Her eyes open and the irises that were as blue as the oceans of Naboo just a moment ago are now yellow and red and black. 

She stands slowly. Her fingers bend into claw-like shapes and begin to crackle with electricity. Her skin is now a pale blue as if she were dead. She raises her chin and lets out a terrifyingly silent scream and the forest egg that has housed her transformation lights up like a plasma globe. Lightning shoots randomly from her hands to the foliage around her. Then, in an instant, she can sense Són and looks right at him. She lifts a hand and throws lightning at him, only, instead of being hit, the lightning shuts the window in his mind’s eye. The vision is over. The green mist recedes. The Force dissipates, but Són is left with an overpowering sense of dread. He must report to Master Yoda.

February 16th, 2021

May Bell sat in her favorite chair. It was big, pillowy, and ugly as hell, but it swiveled so she could look around her room, through the windows, and out into the hall. She always kept her door open. She loved getting unexpected visits from strangers. There seemed to be a lot of strangers coming to call these days. She couldn’t remember the last time a friend or family member stopped by. May quietly reassured herself, “Well, when you live to 104, I suppose you outlive your friends and family. I’ll just keep keeping my door open and I’ll make some new friends.”

 

May Bell’s chair had been working overtime that day. Between breakfast and lunch, a number of people had come to call. There was the new nurse. He was a nice young man, though May could see he’d lived some life even though he was… May was never good with remembering numbers. Well, he was young. Long hair, some of them funny-looking glasses May always saw the kids wearing on the TV. His uniform was a little disheveled, must have been in a hurry this morning. First days are full of anxiety. May felt sympathy for the young man. 

 

May also met her new neighbor. He was a spry young man at only 85 years old (May got a good chuckle out of that thought). She couldn’t quite figure why a man with so much energy and whit would need to live in Greenbriar Acres, but she thought he was cute and didn’t much care for thinking about the why, and thoroughly enjoyed his stopping by. 

 

A nice young lady came to call. May had had a very nice conversation with her over a cup of coffee (always black), though she couldn’t figure why her visitor looked so sad. Throughout her life, May Bell was the type of person that always wanted to cheer people up. Even at 104, she thought life was too short for moping. She had a good number of jokes she liked to tell when she saw someone who needed some cheering up. She told the one about the man pissing on the bar, which usually kills. The nice young lady briefly laughed and smiled and the rest of the conversation from that point on was pleasant and her coffee never got cold. 

 

The lady had brought May Bell a present. May was never really comfortable opening presents around other people and ask if she could open it later in the afternoon. The young lady seemed a little disappointed, but accepted May’s request. Hours later, the box was still leaning on the table within arms-reach of May’s Lay-Z-Boy. Seeing as the hall had gone quiet and it was too hot outside for any of the birds to be out, now seemed as good a time as ever to see what was inside.

 

The box was about 4 feet long and relatively flat, maybe 8 inches thick. It was a tattered old box, wrapped with fake alligator skin leather and covered in stickers with the names of cities from around the world on them. There were some brass latches that had clearly been well maintained. Unlike the rest of the box, they looked as good as new. The sun came through May’s window and reflected off of the lacquer, sending flashes of golden light across the room and directly into her eyes, blinding her for just a moment. 

 

Two quick snaps cut through the hum of May’s air conditioner as the latches anxiously opened. May slowly opened the lid to reveal a beautiful acoustic guitar. Now, this guitar was by no means new, but the color of the finish was spectacular. Yellow in the center of the guitar faded into a dark red finish that shaded the outer edges. The strings looked as good as new and when she ran her fingers across them, they sang gloriously in a familiar harmony. May took the guitar out of the box, gently put its butt on the ground next to her throne, and rested the neck on the armrest so she could take the box off her lap and put it on the floor in front of her. After picking up the guitar and preparing to play with it, any passer-by would have thought she was a street musician playing for donations.

 

Curiosity sparked in May’s brain and her fingers gently moved across the strings. As they vibrated, she could feel the course of the sound waves through her, like a warm embrace. She closed her eyes to fully embrace the sound and without any sense of intention the fingers on her left hand simultaneously pressed strings to the fingerboard and her right hand began to move her fingers up and down. Each moment brought a new chord, and soon May wasn’t just strumming, she was picking. The sound engulfed May and her room might as well have melted away. The Blues carried her to another place, another time. 

She was sitting on the porch of the house she grew up in. She could smell the lilacs that crowded in front of her stage. She could see her old neighbors looking up at her from the sidewalk as she began to mumble some words. Smiles broke across their faces. Her foot started to stamp out the beat on the old wood planks, dust rising with every thump. The sun shone through the trees and the leaves focused the light as though there were a hundred little spotlights shining down on her. The wind grabbed the music she was making and carried it around the neighborhood. A crowd began to form. Joy lifted May’s spirit and that happiness uplifted everyone around. Hollers came from the crowd as she belted out the next verse. “Sing it, May!” “A-MEN!” “Sing it, girl.” 

 

Thump. Thump. Thump. Strings vibrate with electricity. The Blues. Sing the Blues and troubles will melt away. Bend the E string to make the guitar cry and moan. Thump. Thump. Thump. Feel the pulse beat through the floor, chugging like a train rolling down the tracks. All this singing has dried vocal cords causing them to crack, but there is beauty in the flaw, emotion overflows and the audience is moved. The strings begin to cut into the tips of the fingers because callouses have not been formed yet. They begin to bleed, and the song begins to fade. The thumping fades. The sound of her voice fades. The hollers fade. The smell of lilacs fades.

 

May Bell opened her eyes. She was back in her room, sitting on her pillowed throne. The air conditioner hummed beside her. She carefully bent over and put the guitar back in its case. Clicked the brass latches and slowly rotated her chair so she could look out the window again. She hummed a tune while she rocked her chair gently to the beat. Where had she heard that song before? A hummingbird flew by her window. Curious. Curious indeed.

February 15th, 2021
 
 “Is that tanker breathing?” John wasn't sure what he was seeing, but it truly looked like it was. Sitting at a stoplight, listening to "Rumble" for the third time that morning (something about it, he just couldn't stop), late for work because of all this damn snow. There it is in front of him. Slowly rising and falling as if it were propped up by lungs instead of shocks. Up and down, in and out. He begins to breathe with it. It slows him down. It calms his curious mind. The world around him disappears. 

Strumming guitar. Pounding upright bass. Hot and heavy, dragging the drums with it. “What is this?” John wonders silently. In and out, up and down. John takes his hands off the wheel and rubs his palms on his jeans to check in with reality. He looks up and sees the tanker still calmly inhaling and exhaling. Hole-punched speakers distort the sound of the guitar and all of a sudden the tanker and the pulse of the music are in sync. The guitar vibrates with aggression and even as it fades out it haunts. 

Red lights fade. Wheels turn. The breathing stops. Like a runner who has stopped to catch their breath, the race beckons, and the runner must keep going. The tanker must keep going. John must keep going. Breathe.