Frantic urgency pushed his failing memory into action. Who was the young woman in the faded photograph? The pictures were placed strategically to help him remember things and people from his past. Why couldn’t he remember this woman? She was in many of the pictures. For a long moment, he stared at the small, pale face inside the brunette bob. She wore a cloche hat and a fluffy shawl. “Who are you?” he wondered aloud. Then louder: “Am I supposed to know you?” “Dad?” “Albert! Be a good boy. Tell me who she is and I promise not to forget this time.” “That’s your wife, dad. My mom.” He waited and watched, hoping to see a glimmer of recognition in his father’s face. “You remembered her yesterday. You told me she used to…” The old man raised his hand and waved his son quiet. “I can’t remember.” Albert took his dad’s hand. “I know.”
The teenager’s scream momentarily filled the bedroom like an expanding marshmallow. Everyone watching felt the electric shock of pain as the bone snapped. Then, with a plop, the finger fell to the hardwood floor. And just like that, for those who paid to watch a live amputation, the show was over. But, the act was captured on four devices and uploaded for an online audience who would pay to watch it again and again if they so desired.
“How many online now?” Adam asked, holding a fluffy, red-stained towel around his throbbing hand. “Thirteen thousand watched it live.” Mary chimed. “And it’s going up.” “Donations? I want to know how much money. I can’t see the screen.” “O.K. O.K.” She said quietly. “It’s over eighty thousand. Eighty-one, now. No, eighty-two…” “Yes!” He had done it. Cut his own finger off for money and it was worth it. “That pays off my student loans and mom’s house with some left over.” “A bunch left over it looks like to me,” Mary commented as she watched the donations cross the hundred thousand mark.
Adam felt a wave of dizziness passed through him as he laid back in the chair. “You think I’ll need to put t in ice for the hospital?” “Yeah, for sure.” “O.K. Let’s just go. Maybe they can sew it back on if we get there in time.”
I have been revisiting my past by watching old cartoons. I found out quickly that I still enjoy the Hanna Barbara characters, but the Loony Tunes episodes fall flat. Eventually, I began to remember some old favorites like the Thunder Cats, Blackstar, He-Man, Silver Hawks, and Smurfs. That’s when I landed on a website that hosts enough cartoons to keep me and anyone busy for years.
So, I come to the reason for this post.
Last night I was watching “G.I. Joe: Operation Dragonfire” which is a two season series that aired in 1989. In the Episode “Kindergarten Commandos” (Season 2: Episode 5) one of the Joe’s pulls out a cellphone with a camera. You will see it for yourself at 3:33, if you can believe that.
Yeah, I know… I know. They rub the truth in our faces and dare us to question them.
I couldn’t believe how much it looked like the cameras we have today. It’s placement on the cellphone is right on and it makes me wonder just how much farther ahead technology is than we know? I’m sure we have no idea unless they give us hints like this.
The official release of the first camera phone was in 2002, but some say it was 2000. No matter which is accurate, someone knew about them and gave it to the G.I. Joe’s in 1989.
Take a look at the screenshot for yourself. The video link is above.
Jack’s first day in the apartment was a new lease on life. He
wasn’t sure what he wanted to do first. But it was an answer to his
prayers, and, yes, Jack was now a praying man. God wasn’t always on
constant call when it came to Jack’s old life. However, since he
began his life after drugs, he was in constant communication with the
man upstairs. But, this was more than Jack could have asked for. He
never knew gigs like this existed. The idea of “cup runneth over”
truly had a meaning now, and Jack felt like a human being for the
first time in years. But, Jack was logical. He knew that it wasn’t
all God. Jack owed a special thanks to Adam, the man he met while in
the county rehab.
Adam was a preacher of sorts, who spent time with addicts and gave
them hope. But Adam was much more than a counselor to Jack. Adam was
a guiding light and a mentor. He helped Jack and gave him a chance to
work at the church and prove himself as a carpenter, which had been
instrumental in getting the job at the apartment complex.
He thanked Adam as he sat alone for the first time in a long time,
with his dinner on his lap, and thanked God for his apartment, which
was on the fourth floor of the Wartzburg Building. It was only a
small, cheap, four-room cracker box, but he lifted his head toward
the roof, as if he could see into heaven, and asked God to come into
his home. It was a quick prayer, just something to bless his food and
to invite good spirits to his new place. But he knew it was
important, because he didn’t want to forget about all the good
things that had been happening to him lately, nor did he want to
forget what drugs had done to him.
Before he left the rehab center, he thought that he’d be happy
out in the real world, away from the clinic and all the church
meetings, away from all the drug addicts and the whiners. But, he
wasn’t. Over time, he’d come to like working for the church and
he liked the few friends he’d made while living at the halfway
house. He liked that his life was on a new path, but he was more
afraid everyday. Afraid that he’ d mess everything up now that
temptation was at every turn.
What he felt then was suffocation. Anytime he thought about
running into old friends or what he was going to do if he started
wanting a hit, a panic quickly closed in on him and crushed his
goodness. His ideas of a good life and of the spirit who he’d
prayed for began to wilt as if something didn’t want him to have a
good, new life.
Imagine how much our perception has changed in the last five years. Most of us have seen undeniable Mandela effects. We’ve faced the reality of our childhood memories being wrong, contemplated the obvious changes to the past, noted things we know that are now different, and we just write it off as a thing that happens now. Accepted it as if it’s not that strange anymore.
The past is changing right before our eyes and the future is changing by the decisions we make. So, why is it so hard to grasp that NOW is just as flexible?
You can change the future right?
The past is changing right? Atleast, something is changing it.So, think about it. There is a way to change your situation, your role, your everything.
People say and we read: Become who you want to be, become the greatest version of yourself, visualize what you want and you will attract it.
These are true and they work. But I want to add or change one thing:
Be who you want to be… Right Now.
You want to be a writer? Then, get a pen and write. Publishing doesn’t make you a writer, writing does. You want to be a director? Then, shoot a movie. Use a VHS camera. Use your phone. Be the director you imagine yourself being. You want to be a musician. Get the instrument and play it. You’re not going to be good at it. But, your not supposed to be. You’re just supposed to be at it.
It’s an honor to showcase poet Michael Dickel in the first ever Fiction Weekly Spotlight. I thank him for the faith he’s showing by participating and placing his good name in my hands. I also thank him for his wonderful work, not only as a writer and poet, but as a teacher and historian. He does more than entertain his readers. He uses his gift of writing and storytelling to document our world and the many different people and places in it.
He chooses to document our present condition and put in writing the lives of the people affected by it and how it effects the lives of others. His journalistic poetry and storytelling makes me aware that he is here with us, but somehow outside looking in, which brings me directly to his book:
“War Surrounds Us,” a poetry collection he wrote during the Israel-Hamas conflict in the summer of 2014. The poems evoke a resistance to the violence all around, and make acute observations of its effects on family and daily life – from the provocations before, through the disruptions of rockets falling on Jerusalem and devastating loss of human life during attacks on Gaza, and past the line of failed cease fires to an uneasy truce.
A Bit of Biography for Dr. Dickel
grew up outside of Chicago, where he began writing young. His first
recognition came as a co-winner of the Glen Ellyn Jr. High School
Poetry Contest; early poems appeared in the Glenbard West literary
magazine, Early Wine, of which he became one of the editorial
triumvirate in his Junior Year. He moved to Minnesota before his
Senior year, graduating high school in St. Louis Park and continuing
for a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He continued to write during
a decade of working in various youth work, counseling, and other
psych-related jobs. He married and his first child was born also
during that decade.He returned to graduate school, where he obtained
a master’s degree in creative writing (with dual foci on poetry and
fiction) and a doctorate in literature. His second daughter was born
during his studies. He taught literature, creative writing, and
composition (academic writing), and directed two writing centers in
the next phase of his life, also divorcing. A little over ten years
ago, he moved to Jerusalem, Israel, re-married, and had two more
children. In Israel, Michael mostly writes, but also teaches English
(mostly language, but also other courses, which have included media
literacy, literature, academic writing, and creative writing).
While individual creative works started appearing in small presses from 1987, his first book didn’t come out until after he moved to Israel, The World Behind It, Chaos…(WV? eBook Press, Chicago, 2009). He self-published his second poetry book, Midwest / Mid-East (Lulu 2012). His third collection of poetry, War Surrounds Us (2015), and first collection of flash fiction, The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden (2016), came out from a micro press project with his friend and fellow poet, Gary Lundy—Is a Rose Press (Montana and Minnesota). His most recent poetry book is a chapbook, Breakfast at the End of Capitalism (Locofo Chaps, an imprint of Moria Poetry, Illinois). Along the way, his work has been translated into several languages, he is an active organizer with 100 Thousand Poets for Change, and has organized readings and literary events on three continents. Michael also has served as a literary editor—from the book review section of The Minnesota Daily in the 1990s, to online and print journals, to his current position as contributing editor of The BeZine.
“Writing well means never having to say, ‘I guess you had to be there.’ ” — Jef Mallett
No matter, how much I want to place Dr. Dickel’s work into a box and neatly describe him as a Poet Journalist, the words of Edwin Arlington Robinson come to mind:
“Poetry has two outstanding characteristics. One is that it is undefinable. The other is that it is eventually unmistakable.” — Edwin Arlington Robinson, winner of the the First Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
From the dawn of communication, many have put verse to words, capturing our imagination by describing fictitious and fantastical worlds, incredulous cities, and impossible deeds of men and women born by gods. But, it’s few who dare to lay on page the efforts and actions of the modern man and outline for better or worse his plight or privilege.
I say few because out of the nearly 8 billion people living today, the number is quite insignificant. So, when writers like Michael Dickel write poetry and stories in a way that humanity can get a get a clear glimpse of itself, I believe we should seek out their words and read them until they become truly unmistakable.
What to expect in 2019:
Finishing Line Press has agreed to publish Nothing Remembers, a collection of poetry by Michael Dickel (editor / publisher of this blogZine). Coming in Summer 2019…
A Submission Call:
If you do more than enjoy great stories and poetry, you might like to submit to Michael Dickel’s Blogzine Meta/ Phor(e) /Play.
Fiction Weekly is more than a small online library of my stories. At least, it will be. New writers and their original content will soon be showcased each week. Whether it be stories, poetry, music, or video the weekly spotlight will reach out to writers and artist of all camps and offer them a platform worthy of their craft. Together, we will entertain the visitors and share our audiences
Fiction Weekly will also link writers to resources and website, such as Ralan and Fiction War, that will broaden their submission targets and further their online reach.
I am very optimistic about how much can be accomplished through the self-publishing avenues. Sites such as Amazon, Smashwords, and Wattpad could possibly be the launch pads many of us have been searching for.
Of course, there are literary services all writers need from time to time, such as editing, graphic design, and ghost-writing. Fiction Weekly will begin adding links to connect the artists and writers.
I believe everything can be accomplished when time and energy is applied appropriately. Potential is in everything and we only have to act with intention to make our desires a reality. Nothing is just going to happen. We must always be making the “happening” Now.
“Our ideas are only the blueprints of our dreams. It’s the combination of our intention, emotions, and actions that create the steady platform and solid materials of which our reality is made.”
This is not a story for the young readers. It details the great evil people will commit for their love of money. This is a dark tale of a friend stabbing another friend in the back. Dark sexual perversion, pure evil, gruesome deaths, unabashed hatred, treachery, and greed is what “Corporate Friends” explores.
When you purchase a copy of “Corporate Friends” you are supporting my dreams and the continuation of free short stories on Fiction Weekly. Thank you for your visit and for reading. Even if you don’t buy the book, I truly appreciate you for being here.
My dad told my mother that it was not the right time in his life; that everything was happening too fast and he wanted to wait a few more years. So, when she started crying, he knew he had her convinced. They went together.
The small office was in a house on South Laughter Street, right downtown next to the municipal swimming pool.
Outside, a few feet from the road, was a white sign with red and blue letters, sticking out of the lawn like a cheap campaign slogan. Written in Old English font, fading in the sun, the first line was written in red:
“Cash only!” —
The second in blue:
“Your privacy is our priority.”
S. Laughter Street Clinic.”
Mother cried when she read it.
Inside a man took them into a surgical theatre and asked my mother to relax and lay on the table. My father didn’t want to stay in the room, but the doctor ordered him to stay with her and hold her hand.
“Murder is not easy, Mr. Frente.” He put on plastic gloves. “Your wife will need you to support her and take some of the blame once she realizes what she’s done. To stand at the morning mirror tomorrow, alone and before God, will not be like it was this morning. I hope you understand that.”
My mother started crying again.
“Why do you cry?” The doctor asked perplexed.
She said nothing, sobbing.
“Why is she crying?” He asked my father.
My father looked at my mother. “She doesn’t want to be a murderess.”
“Do you blame her?”
“No, but we can’t have a child now. We’re not ready. There’s too much at stake. My job, the money. There’s just to much to do before…”
The doctor nodded his head and went to his cabinet where he brought back a bible. Inside he had a page marked. “will you please read from the highlighted area before we begin?”
Pushing the bible away from him, he yelled. “What’s this?”
“Just read the last rights. At least you can do that much.”
“No. I will not. Now, you have the money. So, do your job, will you?”
“I’m afraid you don’t understand. sir. I’m not going to do it. I’m going to explain the instruments to you and you are going to do it. Anyone can do it once they are shown how.”
“What?” He couldn’t stand it anymore. “I paid you to do it. What do you think? I’m no doctor.”
“You don’t need a doctor. Doctors are for healing people. You need a clean room, clean instruments, and secret place to commit murder, which I have provided for you. You need me to stay quiet once you are finished killing this child and, since you have paid me very well to do so, I will. But I am not a murderer. No amount of money could persuade me to kill an innocent child.”
My mother was off the table and through the door before my father could reply. She did not return to the car, but instead called a taxi and only left the S. Laughter Street Clinic when it arrived.
She divorced my father and has never seen him again.
The first entry in my journal is this: my mother was convinced to have an abortion, but in the end it didn’t matter. I was still born.