What I Recall
I think I remember the day I wrote this flash fiction piece, entitled "How Some People like Their Eggs," forthcoming in HFR's issue #45. The wind was a wounded llama. I leaned in. I leaned. I started running toward the only hill in Muncie, Indiana. The hill is located in McCulloch Park and all of Muncie uses it for sledding, riding bikes down, disc golf (Hole # 14, a 400 + foot laser shot to a basket guarded by a copse of tulip poplars. I should know; I helped install the course.), Soap Box Derby contests (talk about Americana!), and one night some drunk teenager raced his car up the hill, jumped the top, shredded away the fencing (still missing even today. The city is broke so said fuck it), and crashed into a giant oak tree. Now you see why insurance for teens costs two arms, a leg, and a spleen. The teen lived, BTW. He came away from that incident (I refuse the term accident, since he meant to jump the hill. He longed to leap that hill in a car ever since he was an impressionable seven year old addicted to Dukes of Hazzard.) with a six-inch angry gash on his ankle, a fractured clavicle, a concussion, six months probation, and a bill from the city for five thousand dollars. (I can say for a fact he has not and will not pay the bill.) I play disc golf with the teen. His name is Nate and he drinks these little bottles of Shiraz while we play. One day he got so drunk he emptied out all the Frisbees from his bag and tried to poleaxe a Canada goose. I told him to stop. I told him, “Nathan, that goose is an animal just like us. Life’s tough enough without going out and making love to bad karma.” Nate stopped. I like that about Nate: he will reconsider things, if you catch him in time. I don’t even eat eggs, BTW. I think eating eggs is Spam milkshake crazy. Which means really crazy, I guess, with a glossy residue of regret.
That day I used the only peak in Muncie to do hill work. My quads went all guillotined photograph. My lungs folded, unfolded sweet. Running Tip for you! When running hills (and you should run hills regularly, if you are ferocious about running like me): take small steps, roll your shoulders to relax, drive your arms, lift your knees, and when really knackered, go for your inspirational mantra. You have a mantra, right? Mine is Let the festivities begin! Let the festivities begin! But that’s just me.
Writing tip for you! The physical is connected to the intellectual the way a potato is connected to crying. Or something. [I just looked out my kitchen window, into my backyard, and a squirrel leapt from a tree branch, for a telephone wire, missed the wire, fell to the ground, hunched there stunned for a second, then ran off and scrambled up a nearby walnut tree. So animals make mistakes, just like us. For some reason, it made me feel good, a little spark right now, a little crackle and glow like Cher, though I’m sure the squirrel is sulking somewhere embarrassed.] What I mean to say is that every writer should exercise at least once a day, even if it’s something simple, like chair-tossing, or push-up bets. You do know about push-up bets, right? You phone your friend. You say, “I bet you 1000 push-ups that Oprah Winfrey gives something shiny away on her show tomorrow.”
Then you watch the show. Etc. The winner of the bet calls the loser whenever they want and demands, “Do 50 push-ups right now” and the loser has to drop down—wherever, whenever, whatever—and do the push-ups, until the 1000 bet is paid.
Push-ups are basically awesome, just in general.
But I digress.
I ran back home, checked my mail (two lit mags, two bills, a magazine from an online gambling site [they wrapped this in black plastic, which made me feel creepy], a letter asking me to attend a nearby Catholic church, a flyer from a dentist, a magazine selling knives wholesale), petted my hyper dog, flipped the oven onto pre-heat 400, grabbed a cold can of beer, drank the beer in the shower (I find it annoying when the shower spray gets in the can, thus diluting my excellence), dried off, put on a T-shirt (this one read: D.H. LAWRENCE IS A WHORE) and boxers, and made Nacho Recipe # 49. I am obsessed with nachos, as anyone who knows me can verify. I once ate nachos for 41 straight days. I currently have 285 recipes for nachos in my synapses. # 49 is Tequila Surprise Nachos. You do this:
1.) Broil corn tortilla chips.
2.) Add a layer of Wisconsin cheese, shredded.
3.) Add pickled jalapeno slices.
4.) Add one mound Lemon-Pepper cole slaw.
5.) Drink three shots of tequila.
After the nachos I thought about napping but I have never taken a nap in my adult life, so changed the channel of my thought TV. I read a book by Deb Olin Unferth. In the book she had a flash fiction about composers and their lives and language playing around, jumping swimsuits into large spaces, empty pockets waking up alone in Kansas, all of that. So I immediately ripped off the structure (to the best of my ability) and wrote the draft of, “How Some People like Their Eggs.”
Writing Tip! The entire world is a structure, a scaffolding. Grab onto everything. Write to it! Rip something off the walls. John Mcphee once wrote an essay about oranges and the structure of the essay was an orange slowly unpeeling. Like that, I guess. There’s this one French dude (Perec, look it up) who wrote an entire novel without once using the letter e. If I met this man, I would either slap or pray to him, or both.
But I digress.
I don’t remember much else about that particular day. So. Off to my Treadmill Room to run on my treadmill until my knees sing the song of the taffy-haired girl I once met in North Carolina at a Cape Hatteras KOA campground. I’d give up five years of my life now to return to that storm-gusty day (salty lips, words, water, alive and tugging real like a dynamo, or maybe riptide). Then a shower, a beer (Yes, I am a man of routine), a lazy drive downtown to a Mexican place for nachos. Fact: I will drink one Dos Equis draft the size of my head. Which is the size of a rainstorm in Lincoln, Nebraska. Or the small hope of a salamander sighing. Something.
Writing Tip! Attack everything from a slant! Like a flashlight in the hands of a gospel singer during a thunderstorm, or the way a sailboat tacks into the wind (it goes sideways to get forward, no?).
[The squirrel is back. He’s eyeing my birdfeeder the way I want you to eye the blank, white, rumpled, stooped highway shoulders and sheets of the page.
But I do indeed digress.]
Sean Lovelace blogs at seanlovelace.com. He has a new flash fiction collection coming out soon by Rose Metal Press. The title story is "How Some People like Their Eggs," which you will read in the next issue of HFR. If you like/dislike his writing, maybe pick up the flash collection. [If you'd like to pre-order HFR's next issue, send an email to HFR@asu.edu]