• Endless Joke
    Endless Joke
    by David Antrobus

    Here's that writers' manual you were reaching and scrambling for. You know the one: filled with juicy writing tidbits and dripping with pop cultural snark and smartassery. Ew. Not an attractive look. But effective. And by the end, you'll either want to kiss me or kill me. With extreme prejudice. Go on. You know you want to.

  • Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    by David Antrobus

    Please click on the above thumbnail to buy my short, intense nonfiction book featuring 9/11 and trauma. It's less than the price of a cup of coffee... and contains fewer calories. Although, unlike most caffeine boosts, it might make you cry.

  • Music Speaks
    Music Speaks
    by LB Clark

    My story "Solo" appears in this excellent music charity anthology, Music Speaks. It is an odd hybrid of the darkly comic and the eerily apocalyptic... with a musical theme. Aw, rather than me explain it, just read it. Okay, uh, please?

  • First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    by Sybil Wilen, P. J. Ruce, Jeffrey McDonald, John Page, Susan Burdorf, Christina Gavi, David Alexander, Joanna Parypinski, Jack Flynn, Graeme Edwardson, David Antrobus, Jason Bailey, Xavier Axelson

    My story "Unquiet Slumbers" appears in the zombie anthology First Time Dead, Volume 3. It spills blood, gore and genuine tears of sorrow. Anyway, buy this stellar anthology and judge for yourself.

  • Seasons
    by David Antrobus, Edward Lorn, JD Mader, Jo-Anne Teal

    Four stories, four writers, four seasons. Characters broken by life, although not necessarily beaten. Are the seasons reminders of our growth or a glimpse of our slow decay?

  • Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited

    I have two stories in this delightful compendium of every 2012 winner of their Flash Fiction Challenge—one a nasty little horror short, the other an amusing misadventure of Og the caveman, his first appearance.

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Entries in Jack Kerouac (4)



"The only truth is music." — Jack Kerouac

Here beneath the strip mall sign, by some nameless roadside, I want to tell you something, whisper it even. You are not an adjective; you are the full noun. You are majesty. 

Cue faraway hillside banjo jank.

This urgent child now, this sparrow hawk. Quietly edging past the darkest of holy hours, suspended in dwarfland, in tens of millions cowed and streaming SoCal dreams, old strings droning like worlds of doom, pale draped bronze things nude as headlines, the hidden corners articulated, the lost so close to (yet endlessly far from) being found. This is how it is now.

Drop into a mandolin pizzicato. 

I succumbed to a ten-dollar haircut at the ramshackle mall. It felt like being sheared. By a shepherd with voluminous breasts and wildly uneven mascara. Now I run my fingers up my skull through tiny spines against the grain. Feels sorta fine. Scratch my itch with a loose grip then wish you'd kissed me there. You contrary winsome fucking bitch. (I'll always be here.)

Yo. Yo. Arpeggiate this

I'm sorry. So often I stray. I promise I'll be better.

Ahead of low skies, a cellist sweeps her sorrow like the final sigil after a flood, a godawful flare of rainbow. Will you hear that? Are you friendly, are you kin? Does this oily tide recede beyond the rocks? Is it choked, retching with our dead? Expectant, we are here now. Reading a book and lost in a wood. Waiting for what? Drop your instinctive pretense and stop, then listen. 

Verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus outro.

Hooded by a caul of accumulated ice. Silent night. That arbitrary melody. That Indiana sawgrass. Those veiled amphibian eyes. Miss Sarajevo. The first Noël. Hoarse and lost adagios. Throaty requiems for all. Dig deep, my sister, my glorious amigo, make this a worthy dirge, our celebratory hands clasped like prayer flags first held aloft then whipped unforeseen by balmy leeward gales. 

"Look to windward." All gathered and aghast.

A fjord song, echoing past the headwaters, into the wailing abysm.

O please. Not now. Let me hear their harrowing threnody. So defenseless. Divested of all, of everything. My heart. My queer, my derelict, my tumbledown heart, don't quit on me now. Don't you dare, don't you ever fucking dare protect me.


Something Bad

“These dangers arrive quickly, just like death” — Marina Abramovic

Loss is a thing that once strayed and now lurches haltingly westward. It shuns its own footprints, ignores the dry dirty blizzard of its shedding skin, stifles with a great grey trembling paw its own desolate cries.

Don’t ever ignore what we were: combatants, companions. Custodians of conundrums. Siblings of stealth. Cryptic co-sponsors in a game without rules. Comrades. Compañeros.

The blue velvet night, the aquarium night, draws itself back for the raw abraded morning. Infected. Throbbing. Pulsing with ill-health. Gauze in a motel window still as a shroud, something lurking and medical.

The dawning truth of last night’s Chinese food scattered like a crime scene: sickly cardboard, spilled noodles, the scarlet provocation of congealed sweet-sour sauce, that fortune cookie message I thought I tossed in the trash. “Something bad is headed your way.” You ever see a fortune like that before? Yeah, me either.

The day struggles to wake, and off to the west gaunt towers of fine steel bone blink red for the airplanes like hangovers. Things no longer welcomed but necessary.

Me. You. Boy. Girl. Mojave jawline, Death Valley confluence.

Trucks pass on the interstate, insensate and tidal.

Why’d you leave? Who was the last to breathe? Why can’t I erase the name Melanie even from my dreams?

Fragments of words catch on the sodium lights, flame out, fall, all your breathless, dismal confessionals. Every confab obliterated, refashioned. I can fake amnesia better than anyone. Fake it until it’s real, so I never have to see the arc of a hunting knife flinging a bloodmist, can never hear the ragged shriek of someone who manages to track, to apprehend, without ever intending to, the lurker now wearing their own dreadful face.

Those ominous, luminous words: “Don’t leave me.” About as terrible as any three words could be. 

Deathly. Dancin’ with the ones that brung us. Let me walk you out soon. Come close and say it. What are the ardent things within us that cleave so hard to all this?

Later that evening, I hear a girl singing, comin’ around the corner. I mean barely singing. Tracing the edge of some abandoned tune while the sun skulks lower in a cardiac sky. All those reds returning to blue, the lowered pulse of the industrial night, the ceaseless, remorseless turn of the earth.

Right when I think I’ll see her, the world blinks like a giant eye, and I don’t see her.

I don’t ever see her.



Natural Born

So once again, I contributed to (and contaminated) Mader's Friday festival of felicitous flash fiction, which is well worth your time either as reader or writer (or both, of course), but the piece I wrote seemed to want to grow into something a little beyond their parameters (as lax and liberal as they are). Mindful that I didn't distract or syphon readers away from there, I asked politely if I could extend it on my own blog, to which I received the equivalent of "shut the fuck up, and if you don't, we'll cut you." So here is a fuller version. Yet it still isn't finished, and if I had the time I'd consider this the beginning of a beautiful friendship, a novella or even novel featuring this dubiously lovable and murderous duo.


He was a three hundred and fifty pound trucker from Telluride and she was an amputee from a mining town in British Columbia with a penchant for black metal, NASCAR, and munchkin cats. Both were tattooed in deep homage to monarch butterflies and graphic car wreck fetishism respectively. They would ride the interstates in their big rig (technically his, but mi casa es tu casa) listening to homemade audiobooks they'd record at all-night truck stops—Faulkner, Steinbeck, Kerouac, Welty—his suppressed-rage basso profundo and her scratchy bourbon-and-Camel-lite burr unexpectedly complementary and at times wild-electric sunset accessories. 

Sometimes they would bicker over music (he loved sixties girl groups the best), so if you were both privileged and star-crossed enough to have been riding along, you might have heard the Ronettes followed by Darkthrone, the authentically murderous might of Mayhem preceding the estrogen-drenched exuberance of Martha and the Vandellas, punctuated by a firecracker string of choice insults hurled with the briefest of smiles. Joy and savagery. Love and nihilism.

In many ways, they were the perfect couple. Connoisseurs of chaos, arbiters of havoc. 

She lost her right leg to a dirt bike accident in her teens. Not her entire leg; she still had six or seven inches of femur wormily rounded to a scar-tissue knoll, not entirely dissimilar to a reduced corn dog. Sometimes, while he drove and she allowed herself to be splayed naked beside him, she would let him massage its truncated end and try to imagine it was a gargantuan penis throbbing with some indecipherable need.  

And sometimes, with their victims, it would become a weapon. 

His girth, allied with and likely the result of the largely sedentary lifestyle and trans-fat-and-white-sugar diet of a long-distance truck driver, was a slow death sentence, and he knew it. All the more reason to satisfy appetites in the here and now. Never defer certain specific pleasures. It became a principal tenet of their peculiar faith. 

They were a cult of two, dealing almost exclusively in warped love, dark loyalty, arch skepticism, and wanton homicide. 

"Baby, how long till we eat?" she asked, her pinkie lost inside her ear in a forlorn attempt to kill a maddening itch, black-painted nail scoring the drum. 

Their regimen was strict, she knew, yet still she asked. 

"A little more than two hours, my love."

"Aw. Fu-uck." She could bestow precisely as many syllables on the word fuck as she desired. 

"Easy on the cussing, my sweetest Jezebel." 

This elicited a crooked smile and a raised eyebrow. Conflicted, seductive, tentative. 

"Sorry. You know how I get when my gut thinks my throat's cut." 

"You could always gnaw on James." 

Oddly, she'd forgotten about James, the last hitchhiker whose doomed trajectory had intersected with their own grisly arc. He'd been a fighter and had nearly gotten away. Which happened far too often. 

She explained it thusly: "We're natural born lovers, honey. The killing part don't come natural, just something we tacked on later."



Ten Endings

I want to talk about endings. How important they are, obviously; but more because I simply want to share some of my favourites. A lazy post, in a way, but perhaps a fun or enjoyable one. I love a well-crafted passage of writing, wherever it occurs in a book, and most who love language would probably concur. Yet more satisfying and occasionally beautiful still are those final lines of a novel that both summon and summarize the themes and rhythms of the entire narrative in a handful of incredibly wrought, startling, sorrowful exquisite, elegiac sentences.

Some quotes stand alone, gorgeous synecdoches; others require the full context of the preceding novel. No matter. Beauty is beauty, and in my own writing I use these as perhaps unattainable benchmarks for how I want my language to develop and move throughout a piece. I say unattainable, because for me a sublime failure is still more interesting than a bland success. If I had written anything even approaching the brilliance of any of these, I might just retire happy… or not. Yeah, probably not. I offer these without commentary or void even of my usual lame attempts at humour. Savour them and please add your own favourites in the comments section.

(It ought to go without saying, really, but here there be spoilers!)

1. “Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.” — J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

2. “Then there are more and more endings: the sixth, the 53rd, the 131st, the 9,435th ending, endings going faster and faster, more and more endings, faster and faster until this book is having 186,000 endings per second.” — Richard Brautigan, A Confederate General from Big Sur

3. “Everything had gone right with me since he had died, but how I wished there existed someone to whom I could say that I was sorry.” — Graham Greene, The Quiet American

4. “We were alone with the quiet day, and his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped.” — Henry James, The Turn of the Screw

5. “He fits himself around her, her silk pyjamas, her scent, her warmth, her beloved form, and draws closer to her. Blindly, he kisses her nape. There’s always this, is one of his remaining thoughts. And then: there’s only this. And at last, faintly, falling: this day’s over.” — Ian McEwan, Saturday

6. “Listen. Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember. Think of the vine that curls from the small square plot that was once my heart. That is the only marker you need. Move on. Walk forward into the light.” — Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

7. “So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.” — Jack Kerouac, On The Road

8. “I lingered round them, under that benign sky;  watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.” — Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

9. “Hill House itself, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.” — Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

10. “It had ceased raining in the night and he walked out on the road and called for the dog. He called and called. Standing in that inexplicable darkness. Where there was no sound anywhere save only the wind. After a while he sat in the road. He took off his hat and placed it on the tarmac before him and he bowed his head and held his face in his hands and wept. He sat there for a long time and after a while the east did gray and after a while the right and godmade sun did rise, once again, for all and without distinction.” — Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing

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A version of this post appeared on Indies Unlimited on February 24, 2012. also writes for Indies Unlimited and BlergPop. Be sure to check out his work there if you like what you read here.