Word count – 6,300
The first story in this anthology, Jerusalem’s Lot, acts as a prelude to King’s second novel, ‘Salem’s Lot, and One More For the Road is somewhat of a suffix to that novel.
What this piece has going for it over Jerusalem’s Lot is that it takes a more modern approach to the storytelling, and that in itself is immediately a tick in the pro column. The narrative style of that first companion piece is one of the main reasons that I could not recommend it.
You don’t need to have read ‘Salem’s Lot (and certainly not the other short story in this collection) to get or enjoy this piece. Ultimately, this is a straightforward vampire tale, but familiarity does help to flesh out the world. One More For the Road gets a pass, but it’s a very thin recommendation.
I thought about coming on here and trying to bring a little levity to this coronaviral situation, but at the point of writing there has been over 180,000 diagnosed cases and more than 7,000 deaths as a result of this, and those numbers are increasing all the time and rapidly. So I don’t feel much like cracking wise.
Disneyland is closed; pubs in Ireland are closed, (over St. Patrick’s Day, no less); concerts all over the world have been cancelled. Hell, many cities are off limits and a growing number of countries are locked down entirely. Businesses and governments have not gone to these lengths for shits an’ gigs, or without serious consideration. This is not a drill, people. This is the real deal.
There is enough rice and pasta for everyone. Bread and milk is plentiful if we all just buy what we need and not encourage stupidity by manufacturing a shortage. You really don’t need all of those Ibuprofen or paracetamol, and all those cereals and biscuits are not going to help either.
Remember, there are those who can’t get to the stores as often or as readily as many of us can, and a lot of us are being selfish with our purchasing and leaving shelves empty for those who really need it or are simply trying to buy a regular supply for their household.
Most of us have jobs we need, and all of us have people we care about. So let’s try to stay safe and stay smart in this unclear time.
… and let’s not be this person.
Word count – 2,300
The Man Who Loved Flowers follows a smiling young man as he walks the streets of New York carrying a bunch of flowers, and it focuses primarily on the reactions of those around him as he passes by.
This is a simple tale of misinterpretation, and how things are not always as they seem on the surface. The story does take a darker turn in the final third – putting this into more familiar King territory – but to say anything further would be to spoil it for those who have not read it.
Because The Man Who Loved Flowers is fairly brief, King doesn’t have the time to dilute it with his usual shenanigans – a trait he is unfortunately guilty of on many occasions – and this is one of the best things on offer in this collection.
I’ve written a few flash pieces this month, all to fairly strict deadlines, but that is as much of a challenge as the writing process itself.
Row Boat Resuscitation is a dramatic tale about a sinking ship… although I’m not married to that title. Filling in the Blanks is fiction, but it does take a lot from my experience with my grandma. And Maternity Test is about a teenager’s prospect of meeting his mother for the first time. They are all very short, but they each offer a good platform to jump from.
I’ve started another short piece as well, which will see conclusion over the next couple of days, so I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes.
I also got word that More of a Wednesday Girl – a short story I wrote last year – has been shortlisted in a contest that I had all but forgotten about, which is a nice end to the month. It’s been far too long since I had any competition success, so fingers crossed there.
Word count – 4,800
This is Stephen King doing what he does best – urban horror, without any supernatural or demonic bent. There are no monsters under the bed, and nothing in the closet. This is just… stuff that can happen.
It’s a simple story about the relationship between a brother and a sister, how it ebbs and flows over the course of their lives, and about one particular incident that has defined them. It’s emotional and engaging in its simplicity.
King is prone to both falling down and rambling when he tries to wrap up a story, but this is impactful and stops before he finds something else less meaningful to say. The Last Rung on the Ladder is just damn good storytelling, and without a doubt, the first great story in the collection.
I had my operation yesterday – a polypectomy along with a side of septoplasty. It went well, by all accounts, but after three hours under the knife and a further two in recovery I was ready for a nap.
Just before I went under I was thinking about that Simpsons episode when Homer has to get a heart bypass, and just before his eyes close he hears his surgeon, Dr. Nick say, “what the hell is that?” It was funny in the context of that show, but not sure how I’d have felt if my guy had said it too.
The surgeon came to see me after I had woken from the anaesthetic and explained that I had lost a lot of blood during the procedure, and they also discovered I had an infection as well, which slowed things down a little.
All the polyps are gone (for now, as it is possible they will come back) but my nose is currently sore to touch and still filled with blood, so I just have to be careful when I’m cleaning it. Bending is also a problem as it encourages blood flow, so I’m trying to relax for a few days.
I have an extra couple of days off work so fingers crossed I’ll be back on the wagon by Wednesday and fully recovered a couple of weeks after that.
I have nasal polyps, which is what is stopping me from being able to breathe properly through my nose. It has also completely eliminated my sense of smell, and likely affected my ability to taste as well.
I went to the hospital today for what they called a pre-op assessment, which was basically the nurse asking me a whole lot of questions, and me saying no to almost all of them. I guess it’s them covering their ass while trying to protect mine.
She gave me a forest-worth of pamphlets to read before the operation and told me to make sure the underwear that I wore next week was cotton. Why? I have no idea, and I felt that it was too stupid a question to ask, so I didn’t. I don’t think I own any other kind, to be honest. Do people wear polyester pants?
I had a thumping headache and all the inane questions were not making it go away. She explained what it was I was getting done and I nodded like I knew what she was talking about. Ultimately, once they knock me out, they could tar and feather me and I won’t be able to do anything about it… but I have to trust them.
I’ve been advised that in all likelihood it will not be a permanent fix, and that I will have to get it done again at some point. It could last a year, or it may last for a decade – they just don’t know.
The only thing left to do, is to get it done.