Be Near Me

It’s a gray Monday, and I have a lot to do today before I return to work tomorrow. Yesterday was a complete waste of a day; I did manage to reread the first half of the first draft of the Scotty novel and spent some time reading/editing “Don’t Look Down”; not really sure how it needs to be fixed but am going to try to get that taken care of today. I need to run an errand at some point, and I must go to the gym today. But I need to get past the schedule I always am stubbornly stuck with; I’ve always done errands/gym around elevenish/noon; which is insane. There’s no required schedule as such; I can do errands or go to the gym at any time I please. So, yes, I am going to  work my way through things this morning, and try not to waste my time with social media, the way I always do.

It really is a time suck.

I’m not sure why I had such low energy yesterday; whether it was the gloom or the cold or whatever; but I had intended to go to the gym yesterday and run the errands. Instead I found myself listless and drained of all energy; I had to force myself to make lunch yesterday afternoon. I spent most of the day lying in bed reading–although I did managed to muster the energy to come downstairs and watch The Ritual on Netflix around eight o’clock last night. I feel better today so obviously the low-energy was something my body insisted on; it’s just been a long time since I’ve had such a day where I couldn’t force myself to do anything. I usually just brush all that aside and make myself do things. It didn’t work yesterday, alas.

I suppose the best thing to do is just accept that it was something my body needed and be done with it.

I also read some some short stories yesterday. First up was  “Taking Care of Business,” by Craig Ferguson, In Sunlight or in Shadow

The Reverend Jefferson T. Adams, beloved and respected minister of this parish for over fifty years, pulled deeply on the long fragile Jamaican-style reefer and held the smoke deep in his lungs. There was no sensation of getting high anymore, or indeed panic or paranoia or any of the other unpleasantness. No sensation at all really but he enjoyed the ritual.

He listened to the music from outside the church. It was too nice a day to go inside. Cold and still with a high milky cataract of cloud diffusing the sunlight enough to flatter the landscape, softening the edges and blanching out the imperfections like an old actor’s headshot.

The sea was guilty and quiet, like it had just eaten.

This is a poignant and sad story, about a minister who is dying from cancer and smoking medical marijuana with an old friend every day as his life fades away from him. The two old men talk about things, reveal secrets to each other they’ve kept hidden away from the world their entire lives, and finally, as every story about death must, it ends with the death of the reverend, but it’s not sad, it’s kind of poignant and beautiful. Craig Ferguson is an actor/comedian/writer; he was on The Drew Carey Show and later hosted The Late Show (or something like that); I was pleased to see he is also quite talented as a writer.

Next up was “Guilt-Edged Blonde” by Ross Macdonald, from The Archer Files.

A man was waiting for me at the gate at the edge of the runway. He didn’t look like the man I’d expected to meet. He wore a stained tan windbreaker, baggy slacks, a hat as squashed and dubious as his face. He must have been forty years old, to judge by the gray in his hair and the lines around his eyes. His eyes were dark and evasive, moving here and there as if to avoid getting hurt. He had been hurt often and badly, I guessed.

“You Archer?”

I’d taken a long break from reading Macdonald’s short stories; while I appreciate and quite like his hard-boiled style, sometimes though it becomes a bit much to deal with, and in the short stories, that is particularly obvious and somehow more difficult to deal with. I do love the way the stories twist and turn and become something far different than they start as; this story has Archer hired as a bodyguard, only to arrive to meet with his client who’s already been murdered, and a blonde woman is seen fleeing the scene. The client had basically been a mob accountant and stole money from them; and was worried they were going to come after him. However, the story has nothing to do with how it’s set up, and it’s quite a twisty and strange tale. This is one of the stronger Archer short stories, but…again, a little of that hardbitten, hard-boiled, macho straight man sensibility goes a long way in my book; so it’ll probably be a while before I return to The Archer Files. I don’t to make it sound like I don’t like Macdonald and these stories…I do. Reading a Macdonald novel is a bit different. Most of the Archer novels are short and they move so quickly you’re so wrapped up in the story–and the focus is on the story more so than the style; the short stories, oddly enough, because they are short the style is more apparent than in the novels. I’m not entirely sure if that makes sense, but I think it does, even if I can’t seem to put it into words properly.

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