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a novel by Shane R. Schuch

a novel by Shane R. Schuch

His embarrassment faded. (Pages 148-164)

Victor was in the bookstore, just scribbling, scribbling, scribbling. He had dinner plans with his aging mother, and he was about to be late, but he just kept on scribbling, ignoring time as if it had ceased to exist.

Marlene Connelly, his mother, was sixty-three years old and dying, again. She was a widow and listlessly bored.

Boredom was a major problem for humans.

They just couldn’t seem to find a cure for it. No matter what they did, or where they went, or what they invented, or filled their homes with, they stayed perpetually bored. It was a human disease.

They couldn’t cure themselves.

They were a lot like me.

I’m still searching for a cure: a sunrise, a sunset, a phantom. I am eternally bored and alone, maybe that’s the only human part left of me. Maybe it’s the strongest part of me and it’s not willing to let go.

Maybe I’m the cure for humanity.

Anyhow…

Victor had blown his mother off three times within the last month due to overworking himself and erasing time with his scribbling hand. He could feel death coming, swerving in and out of the bitter marrow of his sweating bones. His bones were telling him that he needn’t keep his mother waiting long.

She didn’t have long.

She had the cancer.

Again.

It, the cancer, had come once before, tried to eat Marlene alive and failed. She had beaten it while in her 40’s, but now it was back and more pissed off than ever. Now, it was back to finish the job.

This horrifying fact made Victor’s gut burn with sorrow and guilt. His mother was all he had left in his ever-shrinking world. Without her, he would have no one else, beside himself.

He would have me.

But, he didn’t know that then.

Victor felt rushed and impatient, ignoring time, but that was nothing new. When he was late, his gut would just burn a bit brighter and a bit hotter, especially when plans were made, especially when it came to plans with his cancerous mother.

Victor had his cellular phone set to silent as he scribbled, scribbled, scribbled. He expected for it to ring any second, and it would be his mother, triple checking that he was going to make it to dinner on time.

This is what she did.

She would call, and call, and call.

Mothers loved to call their kids.

No more.

By the way, Cellular Phones were a new and fancy technology back in the 1990’s. They were these portable tiny bits of microchips and metal soldered together, and housed in a plastic shell that would allow people to make calls from anywhere in the world to anywhere else in the world.

Amazing.

If you don’t know what a microchip is, don’t worry.

You’ll never need to know, oh dear and sweet future phantom reader, ever again.

Look, Listen: Victor recalled a voicemail message he listened to earlier that morning while he was sipping coffee with milk. Voicemail was the cellular phones memory that would listen to the sender then could speak and mimic that sender’s tone and dialect without a flaw. Victor pressed a few buttons and put the phone to his ear. This is what he heard.

“Hello pumpkin,” crackled the voicemail. The voicemail’s tone sounded just like his mother’s. “I wanted to make sure our plans were still on for tonight. You know how much I love our visits.” Her aging voice was teensy-weensy and as smoothly sweet as an orange creamsicle.

“I’ve made reservations at Cassis,” she paused, “your favorite. I know how much you love your French food. Is 7 o’clock okay?” She said this through shown teeth. Victor could tell she was smiling.

Somehow, she was always smiling.

Even when the Doctors told her the cancer was back and more pissed off than ever, she was smiling.

They, the humans, used to say that laughter is the best medicine, so I suppose smiling would be the next best.

Me, and my tangents…

“I’m so excited,” she said. “I just can’t wait to see my sweet, sweet boy and to talk all about your column, which I’ve been reading. I actually went and picked up a Kurt Vonnegut novel because of an article you wrote, you know. It’s called Timequake.” She took in a deep breath and licked her dry lips then said, “But, more importantly, I want to know how your novel is coming along. I know you said you thought you may be nearing the end.”

This embarrassed Victor. He loathed speaking about his work and himself. He wasn’t fond on being the center of attention.

Never had been.

At his birthday parties as a child, with all his family and friends gathered around wearing silly and colorful dunce-caps, blowing noise makers made of growing paper tubes and plastic lungs, smiling like fools, Victor would cry and cry as they would sing happy birthday in his honor.

“Happy Birthday to you…” they would sing in different keys.

Cue the waterworks.

Victor was fine with speaking about his job, about the column, but when it came to his artwork, he didn’t care to talk about it. Victor’s cheeks and neck wore patches of flush red continents, the skin of his globe. He grew warm and clammy just thinking about going over the book. Listening to the voicemail speak and mimic his mother so well, he began to sweat.

“You know,” she said, “your father would be so proud of you. I know he’s up in Heaven, just so proud of his one and only son.” She was smiling. “He always told me that: how proud he was of you and your art.” There was a pause. “He told me before he died that he should have told you that more often. He hoped you would have become a military man, an engineer like him, but he sure was proud of your artwork.” Then she said, “I know he is looking down on you, just smiling and as proud as could be.” She got stuck in a memory as a tear rolled down her cheek, but Victor didn’t know that. He just knew that she was perpetually smiling.

Marlene rambled on for a moment as Victor got stuck in a daydream. He pictured his father in Heaven, a floating, wavy mass.

Like me.

Victor had a realization. For years now, he had been trying to make a dead man proud, more so than himself. That’s what this was all about. As he sipped his morning coffee, he thought abut all the years his father scoffed at his artwork and job choices, all of them in the arts: culinary, visual, back to culinary, literary. Victor thought it was strictly impossible for a military engineer father to have been proud of his son’s art. They had that part of their brain ripped out by drill sergeants and platoon leaders. It was embedded in his military mind; he couldn’t like art, couldn’t have a son in the arts, the boy might as well be a faggot! Victor’s thoughts ran wild with visions of his military father.

“And, is mom telling the truth: that in his dying days he told her how proud he was of my art?” he said in the monologue of his mind. “Was he really proud of me?” Victor mumbled out loud this time. That’s when the daydream shattered into a billion sleepy particles, and Victor’s attention leapt back to his rambling mother.

“Okay,” she said, “call me and let me know.” She was so excited. “I’m so excited. See you soon and I love you, my talented novelist!” she said. “Mwauh!” smooched the recorder. She had sent him a kiss. Victor grinned.

“I love you too, mom,” he said to the thin air and one nosy ghost.

The first worst day of his life.

If you didn’t know already, every thought that passed through the sponge in Victor’s think-tank would be excreted through his fingertips that controlled a pen housing ink and would etch its way into the microscopic fibers of the blank page.

To him, the words weren’t just words.

To him, this was a spiritual occurrence.

To him, it was the voice of his soul, singing angelic notes that only he could transpose. At times, somewhere in his dark-side, he considered the paper to be Satan and the ink to be his soul, and they were dancing.

They were making a deal.

So, the day Victor left the cafe without his beat-to-hell journal, his masterpiece, his soul, would be the beginning of the end with no more angels singing lulling songs that only he could transpose. It was the beginning of a sort of death inside of him, so he reverted to the dark-side of thinking.

In those dark ways of thought, Victor felt as if the deal had gone wrong, and Satan had pulled a fast one on him, had danced with another; Satan left him with a soiled diaper instead of a promised masterpiece and that’s exactly how Victor felt in his churning gut; queasy and foul like a swollen, flabby, shit-filled diaper.

Call it distraction, but Victor had let his guard down. The guard in his mind was like an impenetrable force of barbed wire and castle walls, complete will a monster filled mote, and protecting his masterpiece was their only goal.

Well, all of those barriers count for nothing if the guard on duty is snoozing or is seduced away by some pretty little thing. And, basically, that’s what happened: it was a failure to protect his greatest investment that created a shit storm in his mind and life that made Hurricane Andrew look like a calm breeze.

Hurricane Andrew was a massive and perfect storm that came through Florida in the early 1990’s, and destroyed the lower tip of that narrow, muggy state with one great huff and puff. It blew thousands of houses down, destroyed businesses, and took the lives of sixty-five poor souls. The penis of America had just received a botched circumcision.

So, Here’s how it happened: the first worst day of Victor’s life.

Victor was already late for dinner with his mother. He was late because he ignored time as he scribbled words vehemently. He made time go poof. He knew that time would inevitably come back, and would bite him in the ass. It did so just as he realized where time had gone since he ignored its invisible existence. It had gone to 10 minutes after 6 o’clock. It was time to get up and go.

In Victor’s frantic haste, he began to slide his books off of the petite circular table and into his arms when an accident occurred just outside the bookstore with a thunderous clashing of metal. The sound of collision broke the airwaves with a screech and crash. Victor couldn’t help but watch the twisted scene outside as his mind kept racing to get his shit together and go.

His mother.

His stuff.

Being late.

The crash.

Being late.

His mother.

A whirlwind of clumsiness…

As Victor curiously watched the people get out from their cars, rubbing their heads and necks, he placed his books in his bag, not noticing his beat-to-hell journal lying there on the table, screaming, begging and pleading to be picked up like a babe wanting its mother.

We can blame his terrible peripheral vision, or his thick, black frame glasses for hiding his journal from sigh, or his stubby fingers, or we can blame the real cause, the real culprit.

And the culprit was fate.

You can’t fuck with fate.

What will be will be.

Still staring at the crash, Victor threw his brown leather bag over his shoulder, and frantically glanced at his wristwatch as his baby was silently screaming from the circular table, desperate for attention. He still didn’t notice it their.

“Damn!” he said out loud, disturbing a few readers reading and students studying as they sneered in his direction. “Really?” Victor booed. “I’m really the distraction here?” he said quizzically as he pointed outside to the fender bender. They scoffed and went back to burying their noses in their paper and ink.

Victor looked at the crash as the people involved began to bicker and blame one another for the wreck. Victor looked again at his watch. He mumbled softly, to himself this time, “Ah,” he sighed, “I’m supposed to be there already.” His cancerous mother was waiting, and time wasn’t waiting or her.

Victor loathed being rushed.

And Marlene didn’t have much time.

This was a bad combination for Victor’s racing brain.

Victor, frantically thinking he had everything in place and still unwillingly staring at the mangled scene outside, moved clumsily toward the front of the store, still staring at the crash with every step, and tripped over his own two feet as he fell hard into the chest of a man who was slithering through the doors of the bookstore.

“So sorry!” Victor said nervously through the thumping sound of collision. “Pardon me!”

“No worries,” grinned the man.

Why was he grinning?

And, like a flash, Victor was gone: dissolved into a speck in a crowd of other dissolving specks, all in a race to nowhere. He had made an orphan of his soul, abandoned it there on that cafe table.

In this story of mine, mistakes will be made and Victor had just made a dozy.

To make the best of things.

I’ve made many a dozy in my day.

It’s part of life… and death.

Here is a poem I wrote on the subject of folly:

  Wet from birth, you came to life, bound by your construction.

  All your ways and characters traits were babies, too, in function.

  You grew so tall and then evolved into a wondrous creature.

  You couldn’t help but fuck it up. This, too: a built in feature.

  You could not run, could not hide this clumsy part inside you.

  You tried to make the best of things, cause that’s all you could do.

 

The world is over and there is no one to blame, really.

You could blame God, but I wouldn’t advise.

He made you to make mistakes.

And, you made them.

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Print-On-Demand Paperback Version of Dreamers and Thieves is now available.

I discovered Lulu.com and I fell in love with the fact that I could load my novel for free and have print-on-demand service for a minimal service fee. Granted, the base price for each novel is a bit pricey, but the fact remains: I can physically hold a paperback copy of my own novel; something I’ve wanted to do since I first began writing the old bastard. This is quite thrilling, to say the least.

With marketing campaigns, some authors make a name for themselves quickly, or at least get reader’s attention. For a guy like me, a working chef and family man, the funds are not available. My marketing campaign is word of mouth; talking to my friends and family and trying not to annoy people via Facebook and Twitter. I ask that people take a moment to see what two years of hard work is about for me, what I did within that time frame, what popped out of my brain onto page.

I hope more people take the time. I hope people read my novel. It’s not about fame for me; it never was. It’s about sharing a form of art that is endless, as far as growth goes. It’s about knowing people have read my work, whether they hated or loved it, or maybe just liked it a little bit or want to sing praises. To me, it’s truly about making something and not being terrified of sharing that thing, no matter how ugly or beautiful.

a novel by Shane R. Schuch

a novel by Shane R. Schuch

I love my novel, yet I hate the bastard. I think it’s lousy. I think it’s littered with flaws, no matter how much I rewrote and edited it. I also think there may be potential in my writing. I just need a little feedback. I want people to read my little bastard. I just want to know.

If you’re interested in picking up a copy, here is the link: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/ShaneRichardSchuch

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Fictitious Characters: not so fictitious?

I know that in my first published novel, Dreamers and Thieves, I began with made up people. As I grew to know them a little more, with each passing line that trickled its way out of my mind, I realized who they were in my life. These people, these insignificant souls that I made a life for in some far off Parallel Universe that we call Fiction, were people that I knew. Some of them were even me.

Most of them were me.

How narcissistic am I, really?

I would type and the characters would say, “I’m going to do this now. You better had like it.” I would reply, “That’s fine by me.” I would type and the characters would say, “Remember that time, that one time, when you made a bad decision? Yeah, I’m going to do that now. I’m going to be just like you.” I would reply, “I wouldn’t do that, if I were you.” But, they were me, and they did anyway. It’s in the book. It’s in all the wibbly-wobbly emotions that flare up in my characters; their strengths and weaknesses (mostly weaknesses) all blazing through the vail for all to see and know.

Those are my emotions. They were forged in the fire of my insignificant soul.

Maybe I am Fiction?

Parallel universe.

As they took hold of the life that so closely resembled mine, they began to do things that not even I would do, or only what an evil version of myself would do. Parallel Universe. I would shriek with terror at the thought of really doing those awful things, would gasp with fright at the consequences of such actions. “Not in real life,” I would say. “No way.”

Not in real life.

Thank God, or whatever, for Fiction. I live there now.

So do you.

Anyhow.

Most of the characters were me, as it turns out. Maybe that’s why I was, and still am, a little reserved on how I feel about people reading it. I’m vulnerable now. You’re going to read it and love it, or hate it, or like me or hate me. Personally, I don’t really give two-shits what anyone thinks of me, but the way I see it, I’m standing naked in Time Square and I’m available for all to know and see, right down to the frank and beans. Basically, writing this book was a sort of stripping of layers. I am naked now.

Mental images.

If you read it, maybe you’ll see what I mean. Maybe you won’t. Though you don’t know me, I sense that you will. I sense that you will come to know me, and other people that have flip-flopped into or out of mu life, through my characters, my writing; my insignificant stories made up of insignificant people living in some Parallel Universe called Fiction.

I live there now.

So do you.

Be well.

~S.R.S.

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Follow up novel? So soon?

Yes.

I strike while the irons hot, and the iron is smoldering.

Well, not really, but I’ve had some ideas in my head since about halfway through Dreamers and Thieves. I started a couple, but soon realized that diving into several passionate writing projects of such length was foolish behavior. I let the ideas rest, let them simmer. Now basically, I’ve got some tasty starts to a follow up to Dreamers and Thieves.

I’ve had a lot of best friends. It’s usually just one guy, and he and I are pals. We brainstorm on everything, build up dreams for the future, ways to do something we love and still manage to pay the bills. Sheesh, it sounds like we’re dating.

What’s weird is that I’m a gemini, and I seem to always have a twin every time a new chapter opens in the script of my life. Just as a new one enters, and older one moves, or gets a different job in a different restaurant, or has a new girlfriend and it’s going fantastically. There is always some inevitable circumstance that creates this game of trade with my best friends. With that said, I’ve had an idea for years now about a story wrapped around two best friends with social quirks and manic emotions, trouble with women and money, hating their jobs and overall quality of life. There is a looming divorce created by an affair with a college pothead, a toddler moved away with mommy, and a battle with medication and the world of psychiatry.

You get the picture I’m painting. Don’t you?

All that said, the story is really about this friendship, these best friends, that happened by accident in middle school. The irony is this: in this world, there are no accidents. So what’s the story really about?

I’m ranting.

Anyhow.

It is loosely based off of events in my own life; a certain era, a time-stamp in the fabric of my life, whatever it may be or become. And the best friend to the protagonist is a collage of all of my best friends. It’s going to get interesting.

But, then there are all of these other ideas forming, storms brewing, cauldrons bubbling; ready to froth over. I’m at a crossroads made of ink stains and the alphabet; I don’t know which way to go. The good news: the stories write themselves anyhow. Like I’ve previously stated: I just show up. The story does the rest.

Some people may hate these visions of creative overflow that occurs in the jelly of my mind. As a musician for 18 years now, a songwriter/audio engineer, I learned how to keep the juices flowing. I learned to let go. I learned to become a pole of energy that absorbed energy around me and turned it into song. In this case, a novel.

I know, I know. I sound like some trippy-stoner spiritualist type; dropping Molly by the bottle full, smoking herbs to enhance the euphoria, worshipping Hunter S. Thompson as I pull energy from the cosmos, recreating Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in the cinema of my blissed-out mind. That’s not what I mean, at all.

I’m just a receptor to the energy around me. It funnels through into various forms of art. This is why art is important: it is spiritual. It is from something else.

Ranting again. Sorry.

But, writers never apologize, so I take it back.

Not everything is good that pops out of my brain. I keep it simple: as in life, you’ve got to keep the good stuff, and throw away the trash. Some of these ideas I have could quite possibly be heaping, sopping wet piles of daycare trash, but I won’t know till I invest a little time into watering the seeds of their story.

We shall see.

I better get to watering my seeds.

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“What’s your favorite part of your own novel?”

That’s like asking me if I like seeing or hearing better. That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child. That’s like asking me to choose who lives and dies.

For me, answering these questions is just not possible.

I can not pick out my favorite part. The truth is, as with most music and art I’ve made, I think its poor. I’m still putting it out there, but it’s so not possible for me to have made it any better. I mean, I spent countless hours, months rewriting and harping over every line. Still, there are errors, and even as I read it today, I’d have written things differently now. But at some point, you’ve gotta say enough is enough, and put it out there. That’s what I did with my music. And somehow, I made fans. Fans turned into friends and life got interesting.

But, thats a whole different story.

I stand by this work. I have never been comfortable with anything I’ve ever made, but that doesn’t mean that people won’t enjoy it for what it is. And, exactly what is it?

You’ll have to be the judge of that.

So, what’s my favorite part?

No.

What’s your favorite part?

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You know that book I started, posted chapters on a blog about, almost didn’t finish, and didn’t post anything about on the blog for months: It has been published.

That is a very long Headline.

I do apologize for that.

With that said, there was truth in that long-winded headline: I did finish the novel. I believe I jotted down the time and date of completion, but the numbers escape me now, and I’m being lazy. It is now 1:30 am, I’m on the couch, Portlandia is on in the quiet background hiss of my living room, and I’m hypnotized by my computer screen once again. My daughter is asleep in bed, my fiance, who is pregnant with our second little miracle is with our first little miracle in Michigan for a few weeks, and I’m unable to sleep normally. So I write.

I write.

And now, I’m updating. It’s not so much writing as it is reporting. In honor of reporting, I’m letting you all know, whoever you are, wherever you are, that the book I had been trudging through is now complete. It has been carefully examined, assessed for errors, bad writing and the like, rewritten over and over again, and is now available for purchase. More importantly, it’s out there for people to read. I’d like that. Maybe you will read it. Maybe you will think about reading it, or maybe you will think about thinking about reading it.

Maybe.

DREAMERS&THEIVES

The point is this: it’s out there. It’s free from the imaginative birth canal of my mind; the place in my head that these ideas come from. It is a birth of sorts: Something did come to life in my mind and leaked its way into the world via my fingertips to computer keys that were mingling with microchips and LCD screens, and I gave it a name.

Dreamers and Thieves.

The story made me do it.

It had to be called that, just like it had to be written, but not by me; by a sadistic lump in my brain that partnered with my fingertips. I gave little resistance to my minds efforts of creation, so now I am an author of a real life book.

Real life.

You know, it was quite an intoxicating event, to began and end a book. I almost didn’t make it to the end. About halfway through, after it’s several rewrites, I began to stagger, though I knew exactly where I wanted the story to go. I was treading water, looking at the other side, but not sure if I had what it takes to make it there. It was sink or swim. So I swam, and I reached the other side. How I did it was this: I would swim with lust of paper and ink as I poured through every line, over-thinking what I read, scratched it, rewrote it, loved it, hated it, and moved on to the next line till I said, “Fuck it.” Not literally, but in a sense, I began to just enjoy writing again.

I had fun with it.

The second half of this book is more fun to me, though it’s the most dramatic. But, that’s not what this is about; me ranting about the process of my book coming to life. It’s about the fact that it exists and you can read it, love it, hate it, share it, delete it, do anything you want with it.

In honor of a long winded headline, and now long winded announcement of rather bad reporting, I leave you with this long winded goodbye.

Goodbye.

So long.

And, till next time you hear from me, I hope you read my novel, think about reading my novel, or think about thinking about reading my novel. Be well.

Be well.

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Fish food.

Fish food. (Chapter 42)

Listen up: Charles had a disease too. His disease: he felt entitled and always had. Many Americans suffered from the same disease all the way till their extinction. It’s tragic, really.

Charles felt robbed of a normal childhood when, at the age of 8, his parents were killed in a deep sea fishing trip whilst in Bermuda. They had gone to renew their wedding vows, something they planned to do every five years of their marriage.

They only got to do it twice.

The day after their second renewal, they were fish food.

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