My short story RIGHTEOUS made the nomination list for the Bram Stoker Award for Short Fiction. Even though I've been through the process six times before, it's always kind of interesting that people care enough about my writing to read it and vote on it. Especially this story, which is one that was a catharsis for me as I wrote it. I can remember penning the final few pages in Sandy, Utah, in a hotel room. With all my time in the military it was difficult for me to write a story about a father who is stalking the man who recruited his son, the same son who never made it back from Iraq. RIGHTEOUS is a story about PTSD. It's a story about a thing called Secondary PTSD. It's also a story about guilt, both shared and individual, both human and that of our nation. It's a story about America's love of war. And of course it's a story about an insane father who talks to his dog. And of course, because it's a story written by me, the dog talks back.
Here's a very small sampling--
Five sentences changed my life forever.Yes, I’ll marry you, is how Susan changed my life.It’s a boy, is how a wide-hipped, chippy-eyed nurse changed my life.Metastasized means that your wife’s breast cancer has spread to her lymph nodes is how the medical community gave up trying to save Susan and changed my life.On behalf of a grateful nation, I present this flag as a token of our appreciation for the faithful and selfless service of your loved one for this country, is how a straight-faced Uncle Sam socked me in the heart.Then one night I was three sheets to the wind with a bottle of Cutty Sark and Pulp Fiction blasting on television. When Samuel L. Jackson screamed the words from Ezekial 25:17, I sat up and was beset by a moment of clarity as he talked about the path of a righteous man. Then he said the words that started me on this path of the righteous man.
“Blessed is he who in the name of charity and goodwill shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”And always, as Mutt is eager to point out my errors. Those are seven sentences, Dude.“But they are seven good sentences,” I offer.Mutt thinks for a moment, then nods. They are. Especially for an asshat.
Thanks to John Skipp for editing the Psychos anthology and for letting me be a part of it.