25
Jan
2014

RECIRCULATING FACE | Hideous Bounty

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08
Oct
2013

ORION | Hideous Bounty

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25
Sep
2013

‘Z’s Trinity’ featured in Cabildo Quarterly No. 4 | Wing & Fly

My “Z’s Trinity” short story, part of my recent Triumph of the Ape collection, is also featured in the latest issue of the Belchertown, Mass.-based Cabildo Quarterly. Click through the image above to read the broadsheet online and/or download.

Another story featured in my Triumph of the Ape collection of shorts, available for order via this page, is out there for your reading pleasure in the Michael Fournier edited/collected broadsheet Cabildo Quarterly, inspired in part, Fournier has graciously said, by T2H. The story stems from two of several brushes with death by firearm over my time in Chicago, round about year 2004, I’d guess, the great and wonderful Susannah Felts having gotten me into treading air on a rotating rubber surface fitted to a machine at the Logan Square YMCA, the experience of sweating heavily on said machine and an anonymous male walking casually into the workout room to declare/interrogate: “Is anybody in here a doctor?” Turns out a couple hotheads got into on the basketball court in the Y and one left out the back door, came back with a pistol to settle the score successfully.

A couple days or weeks or less later, Susannah and I got stranded at the Hollywood Grill at Ashland and North Ave. early early early one morning on the way home from a bachelorette party night for her former sister-in-law for which I was to have served as the ride-home chauffeur. Over 3 a.m. plates of whatever beautifully greasy slop was served up that night, our waitress happened to ask if we’d parked in their then-brand-new mini-parking garage along Ashland.

We had.

Bad news: “You won’t be able to get your car for a while,” she said. “It’s a crime scene.”

Someone had been shot.

Then, well, the return round 9 a.m. to pick up the car, ensuing paranoid anticipation of strike three, a drunk psycho who lived across the alley behind our apartment, angry heads backlit in windows across Walton St. in front of it, release through writing, as it were. You can read it in Cabildo online or download the issue pdf here. Or: Write me and I’ll send you a copy: todd [at] the2ndhand.com.

Likewise goes for new Triumph postcards I cooked up recently, compliant with postal regulations (yes, you can mail them) and wonderfully printed via Modern Postcard. As Jerome Ludwig said recently of postcards, surely not the first such person: “the original text message.” If you’re up for handing around small stacks in your town, let me know and I’ll mail you a cache. There’s a brief excerpt from “The Stupidist Manifesto” on the the front side, more or less blank on the back. Looking pretty good, eh?:

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06
Sep
2013

ANIMA | Hideous Bounty

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13
Aug
2013

‘Death in Hammond’ excerpt from Ape at Vol 1. Brooklyn | Wing & Fly

Another story from my short-story collection is on the web, this one at the Vol. 1 Brooklyn online venue. It’s “Death in Hammond,” from the latter part of the collection — the night on which the piece is set is loosely based on an old friend’s bachelor party, which did in fact involve a sighting of Keanu Reeves at a Chicago steakhouse, where none were too attentive, in fact, and courses were set for only marginally floating casinos, where momentous things would happen, no doubt. I hope you enjoy.

Print copies of the book, following the successful Kickstarter run, are available. You can order here.

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07
Aug
2013

MASKED MAN | Hideous Bounty

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30
Jul
2013

THE UPTURNED CORNERS OF HER MOUTH, by Philip Brunetti

Brunetti commands a special section in our 10th-anniversary anthology, released in 2011, All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10.

 

“There is something that I must say. That I want to do this to you, the clown lips. That’s my only goal now — is that you let me paint the clown lips. You will always be sad. You will always feel broken without me. But please, let me paint the clown lips.”

She said nothing. What could she say? She backed off a little bit. We were in my dressing room. I was a nobody but I had a dressing room. I can’t even say how I ended up there, in the dressing room. It had a broken wooden chair, a slipshod greasy mirror and blown-out track lights. A single sad bulb dangled from a wire, 40 watts. There was also a desk, a coat rack, and Marla. That was her name.

“Marla I’m a depraved man,” I went on. “I have no idea why you ended up with me or what you see in me. But this is the last tango, the last dress rehearsal for us. After this, I’ll leave forever and you’ll stay with the upturned clown lips. Do you understand that that’s what I want? That I just want you to have those upturned clown’s lips and I’ll be satisfied for eternity.”

Marla said nothing.

Forty-five minutes later we were in the tattoo parlor down the block. A poorly lit street corner was outside the plate-glass window. We sat in ink-stained, strawberry-red seats with metal armrests. The armrests felt cold. There was a man there with a tattoo needle. He was dabbing on a piece of paper — testing it out. The ink dripped. He ignored us for a while. Then he turned to us and said, ‘Next.’

‘Marla,’ I said. I told the man that Marla was a clown. That she and I were in showbiz. That we were the greatest partnership since—Brangelina. The man waited for me to shut up. Then I said, ‘Listen, it’s over. Marla will be suicidal from here on out. I want you to tat some clown lips on her. I want you to red-band her lips but put the upturned corners at each end. That’s most important: the upturned corners. If you don’t tat the upturned corners on her lips, Marla may die.”

“That what you want?” he said, turning to Marla, who said nothing. She stayed sitting in her seat. She looked like a girl who’d had a grapefruit mashed into her face, sour and damp.

“Get up,” I said. Marla got up.

“Listen, man,” the tattoo guy said. “This doesn’t seem consensual. I mean, it doesn’t seem like her idea. Anyway, she’s got to sign a waiver.”

“She’ll sign it,” I said.

“I’ll sign it,” Marla said. “I like clown lips.”

He did the tattoo. Halfway through I went across the street and drank a beer. When I came back, Marla had the clown lips but they weren’t ruby red — they were baboon’s-ass blue. It was magnificent.

“That’s better,” I said. “That’s better than I could ever have asked for.”

“I’m a genius,” the tattoo man said.

“So you are,” I said. “And so is Marla.”

We were all looking in the mirror. Then Marla took a needle from the counter and jabbed me in the eye. It plunged in straightaway like a bee stinger into a bare butt. I screamed a little and dripped some blood around. “Motherfucker,” I said. I dropped into one of the red chairs. The tattoo guy stood there looking at me. Marla stood beside him and put the needle back on the counter. There was some blood on it. “Motherfucker,” I said again.

Marla picked up the needle again. I looked her in the eye — with my good eye. Then the tattoo guy came over with some balled-up paper towel. I took the ball from him and pressed it into my eye socket.

“I’ll call 911,” he said.

“No,” I said.

“No,” Marla said.

She came over and sat in the opposite red chair. She reached out and took the paper ball from my hand and pushed the ball into the socket lightly. Then with a little more force. I grunted. The tattoo man sat down on a high stool behind the counter and lit a cigarette. I looked at Marla’s bright blue lips, the upturned corners of her mouth. She was smiling.

 

PREGNANT MONSTERS

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22
Jul
2013

TEAR, by Quincy Rhoads

Now he tended to cry. He did not cry much as a child. From an early age, he was taught to suck it up. Boys don’t do that, his grandmother told him. So he swallowed the hot knots of emotion when he skinned his knee, when both index fingers were cut by the metal spool of streamers whilst decorating for the anniversary party, when his grade school crush did not give him a creased cardstock valentine.

He cried in his late twenties, but not in his tweens or teens. In his tweens or teens he felt the emotion, a fracas of rage and despair, eat away at his throat. He laid in bed for hours in the dark. He asked for death.

He cried he cried he cried. In adulthood, or at least when he felt that he had reached adulthood, when his responsible decisions outnumbered the irresponsible, he began to cry. He cried when he received the new wallet, he cried when he did not get accepted into the grad school of his choice, he cried when he thought of his wife.

He cried when he thought of his childhood, his grandmother, his father; he cried when he couldn’t explain why he resented his mother, teachers, friends; he cried when he felt alone, miserable, empty; he cried.

It’s so beautiful, he said one afternoon, watching a groundhog run its awkward back-heavy run through the empty lot across the street from the porch, tear tracks across his high cheeks.

 

SPIT VALVE, a choose-yr-own-adventure

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28
Jun
2013

THE HOT DOG KING | Hideous Bounty

The “Hideous Bounty” series is produced by Indiana-based ceramicist Andrew Davis. For installments from 2008-10, see the Bounty archive at THE2NDHAND’s old site.

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02
Jun
2013

More reads close to home, audio from Mike Willis, yours truly | Wing & Fly

Susannah Felts’ 2008 novel was a Nashville portrait of the artist on the tail end of high school. More about it here.

Upcoming Tuesday, June 4, at Fat Bottom Brewery over on Main here in East Nashville, after my own appearance there two weeks back with songwriter and friend Mike Willis, my wife and erstwhile T2H collaborator, weather poet and general conscience and voice of reason, Susannah Felts, shares the mic with songwriter Joshua Payne in what marks the 15th installment of the East Side Storytelling series. Susannah’s been hard at work on several things, not least of which is a novel in progress that tells the story of a Nashville-bred folk-rock singer come back (of sorts) to her hometown after the death of her father to find a man of a character decidedly different than the one she thought she knew. Great story — told with considerable depth of character (anyone who’s seen Susannah’s work up close knows what I mean) and outsize good humor. Also, though, expect her to talk a little about a project with which she’s recently made initial strides toward making a reality: Nashville Story Studio. For now, she’s offering a series of workshops built upon years of workshop leading as a prof at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, at Watkins here in Nashville and also independently here since we moved from Birmingham in 2009. Long-term goal is a fully-fledged literary center here in Guitar Town. Interested? I know I am, but I’m partial to the lady’s efforts, to say the least. Check out the upcoming workshop series via the NSS website, and I’ve placed a link on the top nav here at the T2H txt site as well.

Come out and see her at the event Tuesday, Fat Bottom, 900 East Main Street, Nashville, 7 p.m. sharp.

Hear the full audio of the hour-long May 2013 East Side Storytelling event featuring Todd Dills and Nashville-based songwriter Mike Willis via this link.

For my own part, the Kickstarter effort ongoing to raise funds for a big printing of Triumph of the Ape, my shorts collection, proceeds — if you haven’t laid down reservations for a copy, you can do it with a $12 pledge here. At the East Side Storytelling event May 21 I read a slightly cut version of the first story in the book, “The Color of Magic.” The story was originally penned in 2007, prompted by Jonathan Messinger’s erstwhile (second use of that word in this post — I always liked its nostalgic character, unlike other certain vulgarities, like the word mulch) Dollar Store reading series and a growing sense within my bowels and brain that life was taking a turn. Down in Alabama, where Susannah and I had just moved, there was quite a bit of talk about father- and motherhood, about life sustainability and keys to happiness and there was also a trip to visit some friends in Vicksburg with all manner of psychedelic potentials if not realities…. The story, first published in 2009 in Birmingham-based Red Mountain Review, interrogates some of these things. Follow this link to listen to the audio from the event, also featuring the one and only Mike Willis of the Cumberland Collective. About halfway through the set, we read/play alternate versions of a story/song we performed a sort of hands-off collaboration on, “Don’t Tempt the River.”  My portion of the piece originally appeared in this fictional collaboration between myself, C.T. Ballentine and Henry Ronan-Daniell. Enjoy.

A-and oh finally, my S.C. brother sends along this classic Waylon album cover along with a note to this effect: “Man, just grow your hair out a little more and find a leather vest and a big-ass belt buckle, you’ve got yr Halloween costume.” Did Hank really do it this way?

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