Progress Report (as of September 14, 2017.)

Spending some of my week’s vacation typing and writing. The typing mainly being the longer story “The Wrong Side of the Tracks,” which is partly-finished in handwritten chunks in my notebook. As I type I’ve filled in a few sections that need to be filled in. I have about 1800 words typed-up now. I figure I may have about 500 words still written, and can finish the story by next week, well ahead of its end of the month deadline. I’m also making headway on “Glimpses of the Moon,” the flash fiction story that’s also due Sept. 30th. Needs 500 words and I’m more than halfway there. (I didn’t think it was going to go this easy but it has!) Also, the weekly story for Monday Flash Fics. is in progress and should be done this weekend. Phew!

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Seeing the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Here’s my Queer SciFi column for this month, my report on my trip to watch the Eclipse last month. Special thanks to J. Scott Coatsworth for help with the picture, and for permission to use the column here!

https://queerscifi.com/jeff-baker-boogieman-in-lavender-7/#comment-201388

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Tubbing for Monday Flash Fics, Sept. 11, 2017

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                                           The Man In The Tub

                                                  By Jeff Baker

 

            “O Solo Mio! Hey, a little higher! Yeah! Scrub right there! That’s it!” the man in the tub said.

            “Hey,” Chris said. “Is this all you bought me for? Scrubbing your back?”

            “Rented, not bought,” the man replied.

            “Oh yeah, there’s a big difference,” Chris muttered to himself as he scrubbed the man’s back.

            “The ears get the ears,” the man said.”

            “Yessir!” Chris said, lathering up the washrag. He had to admit, this was a lot better than what most of the guys who rented him put him through, Washing a guy’s back and ears probably ranked as a three on the demeaning servitude scale. Forced sex with somebody who didn’t wash was probably down around ten. At least this guy bathed.

            “So, how long have you been in this, anyway?” the man in the tub asked.

            “You mean working out of Resources?” Chris asked. “About three years.”

            “No, not that,” the man asked. “I mean, how long have you been…”

            “In Involuntary Servitude?” Chris asked. That was the polite 23rd Century term for it. “Eight-and-a-half years, since I was nineteen. Got picked up for burglary. Tribunal said since I had no respect for other people’s property, I should become property myself.”

            Stupid personal questions were right around nine or ten too, Chris thought.

            “That’s got to suck,” the man said. “Hey, wash my butt crack while you’re at it, okay?”

            “Yessir,” Chris said as the man in the tub leaned forward. Chris realized the guy had no sense of irony as he rinsed and lathered the washrag again.

            “So, what are your plans for the future?” the man in the tub asked as Chris scrubbed.

            Chris hadn’t thought of himself as having anything like a future.

            “I’m just gonna take it as it…gets here,” he said.

            The man laughed. “Good one,” he said.

            “I mean, let’s face it, this isn’t how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.”

            “Scrubbing complete strangers, you mean?” the man asked.

            “Yeah,” Chris said.

            As the conversation went on as Chris kept scrubbing, he realized it had been a long time since he’d really talked to somebody like this without fear of consequences. Then the man in the tub reached up and kissed Chris.

            “And don’t forget to wash between my toes,” the man said.

            When Chris walked back to the Resources compound that night, the office had a message for him.

            “That guy who rented you today? He just bought you. Paid with his card. You’re his now, kid.”

            Chris sighed. Oh, well. There were worse places. He’d been in a few of them. They handed Chris a receipt and a note.

            “Make sure he gets the receipt. Oh, and the note is a message. Came for you.”

            As Chris walked out of the office, he unfolded the note which read:

            When you get back, I can scrub you down.

            Chris was grinning as he headed back to the man in the tub.

                                        —end—

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The meeting will come to order…(Monday Flash Fics for September 4, 2017 by Jeff Baker.)

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The Chair Will Now Read The Minutes of the Last Meeting

By Jeff Baker

 

“All right. All right,” she said, over the hubbub. She looked out over the assembled crowd in the wan moonlight under the trees in the park. “The monthly meeting will come to order.” She banged her bronze gavel against the bronze podium, rustled her bronze skirts and glared at one of the crowd. “Mister Murdock. Put the paper down and join us please.”

“I can’t,” the bronze man holding the bronze paper said. “It’s attached to my fingers. And I’m not Mr. Murdock, they never did a statue of him. Not even a bust. I’m Everyman.”

“Nonetheless, please pay attention. The Moon won’t be up that long. I’ll mark you as here.”

“I’m here, representing the Civil War Memorial,” said a stone figure raising his hand.

“The Sailor,” the Chairwoman said. “Nice to see you again.”

“My turn in the rotation,” he replied. “The Cavalryman and the Army Man send their regards. They remain on duty this month.”

“Good to hear,” she said. “None of the wooden carvings made it this month, I take it?”

“They are rooted to the ground, remember?” said a bronze pioneer woman.

“Oh, that’s right,” the Chairwoman said. “Now, moving quickly does anyone…”

There was a rattling and a burst of laughter as a little bronze girl in her wagon rushed past, pushed by a giggling young man in a fireman’s outfit, followed by several bronze children and dogs.

“Order! Order!” the Chairwoman said, rapping her gavel with a series of clangs. “None of this during the meeting! You’re an adult, you should know better!” This last was addressed to the fireman.

“Oh, this is the only fun I get to have!” the fireman said, tilting his hat back. “Remember, I’m the memorial to the fallen firefighters.”

“So you are,” she said. “But please, play somewhere else if you must—oh, wait! Before you go, have you heard from your twin?”

The Minuteman statue in Riverside Park dated back to 1920. The artist who had cast the bronze Firefighter’s Memorial had copied the face and build of the young stone Minuteman. The 1920’s model supposedly had been a student from the College and had been paid fifteen dollars for posing.

“The Minuteman never leaves his post,” the young fireman said.

“Marked not present,” the Chairwoman said, scribbling in the bronze book with a bronze pen. “Does anyone know of anyone else who is not present?”

“What about the Keeper?” someone called out.

“The big Indian never shows up,” someone else said.

“They call them Native Americans these days,” said the Fireman.

“How would you know about ‘these days?’” asked the Pioneer Woman.

“I was only cast three years ago,” he replied.

The Chairwoman sighed. It wasn’t a bad thing that not everybody showed up. The modern sculptures were no help, and the big steel bison by the river had charged the crowd the only time he’d attended a meeting.

“Before we get down to the business of the evening’s gathering…” she began.

“We’ll play a game of Statues,” called out the bronze Jester from the theater. Even the Chairwoman joined in the laughter that followed from bronze and stone throats. When the laughter died down, she cleared her throat and went on.

“The Chair will now read the minutes of the last meeting.”

 

—end—

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The Fireman’s Memorial is fictional, but the other statues, bronze and stone, can be found in my hometown of Wichita, Kansas. Including the Keeper of the Plains by Native Artist Blackbear Bosin. I have included a picture of the statue that really inspired this story!

 

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I Gotta Be Out Of My Mind Dept.

Okay. So far this week I’ve made progress. Just sat down and wrote the weekly flash fiction for Monday (easy, because I took the picture and already had the story in my head!) Also did about a page on “The Wrong Side of the Tracks,” a story that’s due Sept. 30. So far I have about 1500+ words and I only need 1000 at least. (It’s actually a follow-up to one of the Monday Flash stories. Never waste good background.) Typed and edited my QSF blog post for next month (yaaaay!) and I want to get busy on something I’m submitting to a YA podcast after the first of the year.

But I gotta be out of my mind: I’ve started another short-short sci-fi story I’m calling “Glimpses of the Moon,” which is also due at the end of September! (If I can’t place it I have another market for it anyway!) And I’m resuming work on a Christmas story I started last December (December is not the time to submit Christmas stories, September is!) for a Holiday anthology I just found out about which is also due in a few weeks. About 4000 plus words I think. I’m calling it “And Ma in Her Kerchief and I in My Cap.” I may well wind up with an entire collection of stories with titles from that poem, having done “The Moon on the Breast of the New-Fallen Snow.” and “Not a Creature Was Stirring,” neither of them placed yet.

And I actually have about four stories out there, including the recently-submitted “After School,” which may take about 3 years to get accepted/rejected from the anthology. And I have at least three acceptances for physical, real-world print anthologies, one of which may be out in a month or so, the others I haven’t heard from yet. But, considering I already have been published three times in 2017, I’m not going to complain!

 

———-Jeff Baker, August 29, 2017cropped-mike2.jpg

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Story for Monday Flsh Fics, August 28, 2017; “Corn Maiden.”

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Corn Maiden

By Jeff Baker

 

“Don’t drop me, dammit!” she said, trying to pull her hands from the two men walking her on the crosswalk.

“Hold on,” Mac said. “Just ‘till we cross the street.”

“I’ve crossed streets before,” she snapped. “I remember before they were paved!”

“Take it easy,” Sam said. “We’re just trying to help.”

“A lot of help you are,” she said. “At least put my feet down so I can actually walk!”

“Well, okay,” Sam said. “But we’re still holding on to both hands.”

The little girl who-was-not-a-little-girl grumbled something in an ancient tongue.

Mac sighed. If it wasn’t for love.

Jeremy “Mac” McCabe and Samuel Oldtree had met at the annual Native Coalition on Understanding Myth and Legend three years ago. That was before Mac found out that some legends weren’t just legends. Corn Maiden, for example; she supposedly became a young woman and aged into an old one over the year before repeating the process. Corn Maiden was Sam’s great-great-something Aunt. This year the annual transformation had gone a little extreme and she’d become a toddler.

“I have to be careful of eclipses,” she’d explained. “It threw me off.”

Sam and Mac had promised the family that they would look after her for a month or so until she at least looked old enough to be on her own.  Having a toddler goddess dancing out in the prairie moonlight would have caused a commotion and someone would have called the authorities. Legends shouldn’t be arrested. Once they were in the diner, Mac thought she’d calm down. No such luck.

“We’re ordering corn,” she said to the server who was taking their order. “And fry bread. With butter.”

“She’s been studying our culture,” Sam explained.

“I AM your culture God dammit!” Corn Maiden said. “I’m the one who showed your people how to make…”

“We’ll just have two of the lunch special,” Sam said hastily. “And a kid’s meal. Thanks. That’ll be all.”

Mac wondered why a Native goddess swore exactly like a white Protestant guy whose lawn mower wouldn’t start.

“I should forbid the corn crop from growing this year,” Corn Maiden grumbled when the server left.

“You do,” Mac said, “and I have two words for you; Day Care!”

“You wouldn’t!” Corn Maiden said shocked. Mac glared. She sat back in her chair.

Sam smiled to himself. They might make it through the next couple of months yet. Anyway, you had to know how to talk to kids.

 

—end—

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“Hark, Hark!” Monday Flash Fiction for August 21, 2017, by Jeff Baker.

20882822_10155561526404787_3569638578185123216_nAuthor’s Note: I’ll be off watching the eclipse Monday, so enjoy this way early! —-jeff

                                      Hark, Hark, the Dogs Do Bark

                                                     By Jeff Baker

 

            He heard the dogs again, yelping, barking, whining. When Raymond Nash was younger, he might have worried about burglars in the neighborhood. Now, he reassured himself he had set security before he went to bed and rolled over in the covers and blankets, imagining wolves cavorting in the snow.

            By daylight, the neighborhood looked like a set for a ‘50’s T.V. show. 1228 Elmwood Drive looked exactly like 1231 just across the street. Well-kept houses, fresh-mowed grass, middle-aged men already mowing their weekend lawns. Nash wondered about the dogs he’d heard-did they run through neighborhoods in packs? Were they even local? He doubted it. He hadn’t noticed any dogs, not even any being walked in the evening. Nonetheless, he drove slowly down the street, turning on to 25th street and then the highway. Dogs were forgotten.

            He stayed up late that night as he was off-work the next day. He was crawling into bed when he heard the dogs again. He checked the alarm clock; 11:35.

            “Somebody needs to call Animal Control,” he grumbled as his head hit the pillow.

            Nash was standing in his backyard, surveying his mangy lawn with its patches of dirt when he saw one of his neighbors glancing over the hedge.

            “Coming with us tonight?” the man asked.

            “Uh, don’t think so,” Nash replied. None of anybody’s damn business what he did, even if he did nothing. Watched T.V. and ate after work, maybe had a beer. No social life. He went back inside.

            Dogs invaded his dreams.

            Monday after work Nash was standing on his porch in the dusk sipping a beer when the neighbor wandered over and started chatting.

            “Love to have you,” the neighbor said. “You really should join up.”

            “Join up to what?” Nash said. This guy was too old to be in a gang.

            “Basically a neighborhood society,” the neighbor said. “We patrol the neighborhood at night. We make sure that all is well.”

            “Like a neighborhood watch,” Nash said. “You aren’t burning crosses are you?”

            The neighbor laughed. “Heavens no! We don’t even knock anything over. Tell you what; you look around and see if you find anything different. If you do you may be ready to join.”

            Then the man walked off.

            Lying in bed, listening to the dogs, Nash wasn’t sure what the man had meant. The next evening, he walked down the sidewalk in the cool of dusk. Nondescript neighborhood he thought. Lawns, flowers, cars, kids, backyard fences, swing sets. Wait. He walked back along the sidewalk, looking carefully. There were no backyard fences. And no sign of dogs, no tell-tale holes in yards, no “presents.” He looked up at the sky.

            That night, Nash woke up to the sound of barking. He hadn’t remembered getting in bed. He did remember making sure the back door to the porch was open and that the porch screen was unlatched. The barking grew louder. He hopped off the bed, a long way down suddenly and ran across the floor towards the open doors, panting with excitement, furniture towering over him in the darkened house. He bounded out the door onto the porch and out the screen door announcing his arrival with a series of barks and howls. He heard the barking in welcome response and wagged his tail. He stared into the night, hearing night birds and other animals and smelling them as well.

            For tonight, at least, he was running with the pack.

 

                                                  —end—

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