Thursday, August 16, 2018

Don Travis: MoonPie Davis

Don Travis: MoonPie Davis: dontravis.com blog post #298 Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons I got 93 page views from Japan in one day on last week’s “Holly and the ...

MoonPie Davis

dontravis.com blog post #298

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
I got 93 page views from Japan in one day on last week’s “Holly and the Gang.” A couple of times a year, I get a thousand or so hits from Israel. I wonder what prompts folks from a particular country or region to decide to look at my blog. They tell me it’s the keywords I attach to my posts, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out the proper ones to use… except for two or three times a year, apparently.

This week we’ll go for a short, short story a little different from last week’s.

*****
MOONPIE DAVIS
          MoonPie Davis… that was what everybody called me, even the grownups—including my parents. I think most folks forgot my real name was Monroe. I pretty much lost that moniker at the swimming pool back when I was ten. When I came out of the water, my swimming trunks—an oversized hand-me-down from my older brother—slipped down over my buttocks. Naturally, everybody in town heard I’d mooned half the population, so I became Moon. That morphed into Moonie. Cynthia Swearingen added the p because I think she was sweet on me at the time… not so much now. But the p remained. Now I was Nickeltown’s MoonPie.
          Nickeltown was about as far back in the sticks as you could get. Heck, we couldn’t even claim to be a one light town, we didn’t have any traffic lights at all. I can only think of two stop signs inside the berg’s limits. Twenty-seven of us kids graduated from high school this past May. Now it was the final summer before going off to college or hunting down a permanent job, and I found it stressful.
          Alfie Summers was my best friend forever. We’d grown up together, gotten in trouble together, jerked off together once, graduated together. He was leaving for school in Texas in a few weeks, and I was going to miss him like crazy.
          Wanda Sparks was my girlfriend. We’d also grown up together and graduated together… and I wished we’d jerked off together—or the equivalent thereof. She was heading to New Mexico for her higher education, also in a few weeks.
          My life was being rent apart. I was heading for Arkansas to college where I didn’t know a soul and where no one understood me the way these two did. I wasted a week mooning around—what did you expect with a name like MoonPie? That was another thing, I’d have to get used to answering to Monroe again.
          As the time to leave for college neared, I reached the conclusion the remaining days didn’t have enough time for both my friends. I would have to make a choice. Alfie was comfortable and interesting and exciting to be around. Wanda was, too. But in a different way. Unfortunately, they didn’t get along with one another well enough for us to buddy around. It only recently dawned on me why this was. They vied for my attention. Made me feel squirrelly when I understood that. Who would fight over MoonPie Davis? These two, I guess. But it was one or the other, that much was clear.
          I took a day off from both of them to figure out my dilemma. It was a miserable day. Like I’d deprived myself of oxygen or something. Worse, it was a harbinger for days to come when neither of them would even be in the same state with me. As the endless day wore on, I tried to decide which one I missed the most. The answer was, both of them. Alfie made me laugh, challenged me at ball and chess and in the swimming pool. Wanda made me feel funny inside. I liked putting my arm around her shoulder in the movie and drawing her close. She smelled good. Felt good.
          When I boiled it down in my mind, it came down to sex. I’d graduated from high school and hadn’t had any yet. Arrested development, some would say, although I’m convinced half the guys who crowed over making it with their girls were bullshitters. If not, then most of the girls in this bible belt town were sluts, and that was hard to swallow.
          Nonetheless, that’s what all this came down to. I preferred Alfie’s company but craved what Wanda guarded. Guarded. That’s exactly what she did. Guarded her virginity. Was she gonna give in and invite me to participate? Not likely. For the rest of the summer, I’d go home at night aching and unfulfilled. Now, on the other hand, I was pretty sure I could talk Alfie out of his pants again. Wasn’t the same, but it was something.
          That made my decision much easier.

*****
Well, did MoonPie make the right decision? Hard to say. One route might be right for some, and the other way might be right for others. That’s what makes the world go round, folks. Hope you enjoyed my musings.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it.

If you would like to drop me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to the Lovely Pines, programmed for release on August 28 (which is coming up fast):



Abaddon’s Locusts is scheduled for release on January 22, 2019. I’m about 60 percent of the way through the first draft of The Voxlightner Scandal.

See you next week.

Don

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Holly and the Gang

dontravis.com blog post #296
  
Courtesy of Public Domain Pictures
I received a lot of page views on last week’s post about rain in New Mexico. Most of the hits were from outside the US. For the week, the most viewers came from Ukraine, followed by Russia, China, and Canada. Domestic viewers came in fifth. I thought that was interesting enough to share.

This week, let’s go for a short, short story called “Holly and the Gang.” Hope you like it.

*****
HOLLY AND THE GANG

          I don’t know why I think of it as Holly and the gang. By rights, it should be Holly’s gang. Gang’s not quite right, either. Can four kids—including Holly—make up a gang? According to some of the neighbors, the answer is yes.
          It started off with me’n Joey Staller some six years back. We were next door neighbors; me eight and him just barely nine. Carlos Hills started hanging around, so we included him even though he lived two streets over from us. Then Holly and her family moved into a house down at the end of the block. At first, we didn’t know what to make of her, but she was such a tomboy it wasn’t long before she fit right in. That’s probably when we earned the reputation as a gang.
          Holly was lots bolder than the rest of us. Except maybe for Joey. He was all for making mischief, but I’d been able to put a halter on him most of the time. But when Holly came along, it was two against one. Carlos always went with the flow.
          First, it was mailboxes. Not stealing, mind you. Just knocking them over and running like hell before someone came out and dusted our britches. Then it was letting air out of tires. Not puncturing them, just deflating them. No harm done, right? Not till old Mr. Harcourt two doors down didn’t know the difference between deflating and a flat and tried to change his tire on a sloping driveway, ending up on his butt when the jack collapsed. Pretty soon, it was like every day was Halloween. Trick or treat time, except we didn’t give our victims any option.
          Of course, we got caught a time or two and earned grounding for a week or a switching… or both. But led by Holly, we didn’t let such temporary setbacks bother us.
          Holly was a buddy, a pal, just like the other guys… until the day I noticed bumps beneath her grass-stained sweatshirt. Joey saw them, too, and spent a lot of time staring at them. Holly wouldn’t go skinny dipping anymore after that. Other things changed, too. Joey, my lifelong pal, started going squirrelly on me. If Holly whispered something in my ear, he’d puff up and demand to know what secret she’d shared, sometimes threatening to flatten my nose for me.
          “Pauly, you tell me what she said, or I’ll bust your chops.”
          “Go ask Holly. If she wants you to know, she’ll tell you.”
          “I’m asking you.”
          Somehow something always seemed to come up to prevent bloodshed. Most of the time what she whispered was something as innocuous as “Someday I’d like to live in California,” or “I saw Harry Knox kiss Eloise Randall.” Nothings. But if she whispered them in my ear, they were just for me, right?
           It got so that I started finding other things to do besides hang out with my buds, but inevitably, Holly would show up at my door with the other two behind her and call me out to go to a show or on a hike or something. I’d usually give in, but something was changing, and I didn’t know why. Heck, if Joey would just go away, everything would be fine again.
          The day that thought hit me between the eyes, I wandered off from the others and sat down with my back against an oak at the edge of the park. What was going on? Joey was my best… my oldest friend. How could I think about him that way?
          For the life of me, I couldn’t say why, but that was the first time I really tried to figure things out. Joey had been at my side forever. He’d saved me from bullies a bunch of times. Now he was one. Why?
          Another bolt from the blue. Holly. It was because of Holly. Those bumps I’d noticed a year ago were grapefruits now… little ones, anyway. But not hard like the fruit. Whenever she leaned in to whisper one of her “secrets” they pressed softly against my arm. OMG! For a guy who was school smart, I must be the dumbest ass in town. Joey was sweet on her. Not like a buddy… like a boyfriend. Geez, I didn’t even think of Holly that way. I sort of liked Margaret Hillcrest. She was a blonde and a girl, not a pal from the neighborhood.
          With my new understanding, I managed to cool things off and go along more or less the way we always had. Until my fourteenth birthday, that is. That evening, when we gathered as usual for some hijinks we hadn’t yet decided, Holly promptly christened my birthday with a kiss.
          That was the day Joey delivered on his long-threatened promise to punch me out.
          That was also the day the gang broke up.

*****
When things are perfect, why do they always have to change? Carefree childhood days morph into adolescent uncertainties and conflict. One of the hardest lessons to learn is that “life goes on.” And the older you get the harder that reality is to accept. I hope this little story reminded you of something in your youth.


Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it.

If you would like to drop me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to the Lovely Pines, which is programmed for release on August 28:



Abaddon’s Locusts is scheduled for release on January 22, 2019. I’m working hard on The Voxlightner Scandal.

See you next week.

Don

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

New Mexico Rain—the Lord’s Plaything

dontravis.com blog post #296

Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
After last week’s homage to the upcoming The Lovely Pines, a couple of hearty thunderstorms turned my thoughts to rain in New Mexico.

As regular readers know, I was born and raised in southeastern Oklahoma and grew up with weather fronts that moved in overnight to dominate the skies for the entire day, spoiling outdoor plans and darkening moods. I’ve spent nights in storm cellars because the elements were so threatening. I’ve experienced rain in Texas and California and Colorado and Arkansas and Germany and Hong Kong, as well as other places I’ve forgotten. In each locale, rain seemed natural to the scheme of things. Inevitable. Something to be endured.

To me, rain in New Mexico is different. It’s the Lord’s plaything. And you may interpret “Lord” any way you wish: as nature, as fate, whatever. But for the purposes of this piece, He is my Master, my Higher Power.

Plaything? How so? When I see heaps of ominous gray storm clouds to the west that would have sent me to that Oklahoma storm cellar, I merely wonder if it will reach us. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t, depending upon His whim. A man can stand directly beneath such roiling banks and never get wet even though it is obvious water is dropping on his head. Virga, they call it. Precipitation falling from the sky that evaporates before reaching the ground. If that isn’t a teasing Lord, I don’t know what it is. Sometimes I see gray curtains of pelting rain in the distance and prepare for a drubbing, but it never happens. I look again, and the skies are clearing with spears of laughing sunlight penetrating white fluffy clouds. Mischievous behavior at the least.

At times, unexpected lightning strikes so close that I rush to turn off and unplug my computer. Strange, I don’t take the same precaution with the TV. Is it because that, as a writer, my computer is crucial to my continued existence? The television set? Not so much, although I’ve occasionally spent interminable evenings trying to read with one eye glued to a set that proudly proclaimed: “No Signal.”

Albuquerque parents teach their children to watch the mountains as they play in the arroyos—natural dry waterways that claim any child’s attention and imagination. Paved arroyos attract roller skaters and boarders. Rocky-sided ones become private playgrounds for children safe from adult eyes. But it can rain miles away in the Sandias without a cloud worrying an Albuquerque sky and send unexpected torrents of muddy water on it’s headlong and uncontrolled race straight downhill to the Rio Grande, an ever-thirsty river, turning these ravines into death traps for the unwary.

Rain is fast-moving in New Mexico. It comes and it goes, usually in a matter of minutes. If I have something planned, I simply wait half an hour before going to do it. Sometimes the drops fall softly, dampening the dry dust as if the Lord is sad and weeping for His people. A hearty rain signifies contentment and pleasure. A pelting one, beating angrily against the Earth, sometimes driven sideways by limb-breaking gusts of hurricanic winds, warns of His displeasure.

Come to think of it. New Mexico rainfall is not my Lord’s plaything. It is His voice. So listen well.


*****
Perhaps some psychiatrist out there can enlighten me on why things appearing on these pages find birth in my mind. That might make for an interesting post.

I hope you enjoyed my mindless musings.

Now my modified mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it.

If you would like to drop me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to the Lovely Pines, which is programmed for release on August 28:

Abaddon’s Locusts is wrapped and waiting for release on January 22, 2019. I’m working on the new book, The Voxlightner Scandal. Its publication date has not been determined.

See you next week.

Don

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Don Travis: The Lovely Pines—Release date August28, 2018

Don Travis: The Lovely Pines—Release date August28, 2018: dontravis.com blog post #295     After that incredibly flattering post by Ben Brock last week, it’s back to Earth time today. Thanks, B...

The Lovely Pines—Release date August28, 2018

dontravis.com blog post #295
  
After that incredibly flattering post by Ben Brock last week, it’s back to Earth time today. Thanks, Ben, for your sentiments.

Inasmuch as The Lovely Pines is scheduled for release on the 28th of next month, it is probably time to give you a little more of that book. Last November, I posted a portion of Chapter 2. The very pastoral scene I picked for this blog post comes in Chapter 3.

Our protagonist, BJ Vinson, has been hired to investigate a seemingly senseless break-in at the Lovely Pines Winery and Vineyard, but as the weekend approaches, his life companion, Paul Barton, is intent on some R&R. BJ happily complies. I chose the following 600 or so words because they showcase a portion of my great adopted state… New Mexico.

*****
Maria Fanning, Artist
THE LOVELY PINES

          I resumed my task before the computer screen and spent most of the rest of the day checking out the staff of the winery. By the time I got home, Paul was standing at the door waiting for me, looking expectant.
          “What?” I asked. Whatever it was, he could have it. His special brand of combining his juvenile side with the adult man could charm me out of just about anything. Anytime. Anywhere.
          “I have tomorrow off.”
          “No studying?”
          “Got home early today and did it already. Can we do something special?”
          “What, go to the C&W and line dance?”
          He grinned broadly. “No, really special. You know what I want to do?”
          “What?”
        “Drive up to Los Alamos and spend the night in a motel. And then get up early the next morning and play the municipal golf course.”
          “Okay. It’s an easy drive. Let’s do it.”
          “Second request?”
          “I’m in a generous mood.”
       “Can we come back through Jemez Springs Sunday? I want to spend a little while at Valles Caldera.”
        That was a request easy to grant. The Valles Caldera is an almost fourteen-mile wide volcanic caldera in the Jemez Mountains between Jemez Springs and Los Alamos. The broad grasslands and rugged volcanic peaks made up one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. The almost 100,000 acres comprising the National Preserve formerly known as Baca Location Number 1 have a fascinating history.
          “Done. Let me throw some duds in a bag. I assume you’ve already packed yours.”
        He flashed that devastating grin again. “Yours too. If you go relieve your bladder, we can get started. Maybe they’ll serve us a late dinner at the North Road Inn.” I knew the B and B was one of his favorite spots to rest his head for the night.
          I slipped into more comfortable traveling clothes while he loaded the Impala with our bags and gear. My pulse quickened at the thought of having him to myself for the next twenty-four hours. He crawled behind the wheel without asking. That was all right. I was content to watch him rather than the roads.


        We got into the Atomic City—or as it was otherwise known, The Town that Never Was—perched on the Pajarito Plateau too late for dinner at the North Road, but we stopped at the Blue Window Bistro, where Paul convinced me to join him for a duck BLT. Dubious at first, I soon found breast of duck went well with bacon.
         Later in our comfortable room at North Road, he headed straight for the shower, saying he wanted to make an early night of it so we could hit the golf course at first light the next morning. Yeah, right. I no sooner joined him in bed after my own bath than he launched his assault on my body. And a long and vigorous and loving onslaught it was too. I knew well before it was over that getting up early was going to be difficult.
          Paul beat me on the broad fairways of the front nine at the Los Alamos County Golf Course and literally trounced me on the narrow tee boxes built right into the evergreen forest surrounding the back nine. As I usually took him by a stroke or two, I blamed the bedroom calisthenics of the night before for the rout.
          Sunday afternoon found us sitting in the tall grass beside the tiny Jemez River staring out over a great spread of grassland, listening to water trickle by and the flutter of wings and call of wild birds. Small creatures stirred in the nearby weeds. The odd volcanic bubble known as Cerro la Jara—or more fondly, Little la Jara—sat at our left, rising off the vast meadow like a miniature mountain with trees crowning the top. The vast hulk of Redondo Peak loomed in the distance. Paul leaned against me comfortably, adding the final ingredient to total peace and contentment. His touch and the aroma of gramma grass and weeds and wildflowers even quelled my urge to recite the colored history of our environment.

*****
I am often criticized for “wasting” so many words on the environment instead of my characters. Sorry, but New Mexico is one of my characters. One of the stars, in fact. So indulge me and enjoy the word pictures I try to paint.

On the other hand, if I’m boring you, let me know.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

If you would like to drop me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to City of Rocks, my most recent book.


The Lovely Pines appears on DSP Publication’s upcoming releases page:  http://www.dsppublications.com/books/upcoming-releases-c

Abaddon’s Locusts is wrapped and waiting for release on January 22, 2019. I’m sitting on 45,000 words or so of the new book, The Voxlightner Scandal, and adding more each day. Its publication date as yet undetermined.

See you next week.

Don

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

When Fiction Becomes Nonfiction: I’m a Triathlete (A Repost from Ben A. Brock)

dontravis.comblog post #294

 The following post on B. A. Brock Books (www.babrockbooks.com) dated July 9 and reposted on Facebook hit me right between the eyes! I knew that I wanted to share this powerful story with my readers and asked if I could repost. Ben graciously gave me permission. I am proud to pass on his story:

*****

 

WHEN FICTION BECOMES NONFICTION: I’M A TRIATHLETE


Jul 09, 2018 by B. A. Brock in Blog Post

I didn't drown






!




ALTHOUGH I’M a voracious reader, it may come as a slight surprise that my adventures into triathlons started with a fiction novel. Two years ago, after two of my operations, I read a Mystery/Thriller by Don Travis, called The Zozobra Incident. It attracted me because it promised to be a hard-boiled mystery with an openly gay protagonist, something I hadn’t read before but is very much in my wheelhouse. The book delivered everything it promised, and more, but I wasn’t anticipating the lasting effect it would have on me and my life.


Ominously, the course
started with a hill












BJ Vinson, our protagonist, is a law enforcement officer who was heroically injured in the line of duty, now retired from the force and working as a confidential investigator. He’s nearly middle age, lost his parents in a tragic accident, has a strong work ethic, is daring and intelligent, and is gay. Until I read The Zozobra Incident, I’d never met a protagonist of BJ’s ilk. I especially hadn’t realized how much I’d been pining for a role model, someone I could relate to and look up to on this level. I gobbled up the next BJ Vinson mystery, and the next, and am currently not-so-patiently awaiting the fourth (The Lovely Pines, which comes out at the end of August).

OMG, It's Hot!

There are many differences between BJ’s life and mine, but I felt a closeness to him–which should wholeheartedly be ascribed to Travis’s skill as a writer–and I wanted to feel closer. Because BJ was injured in the leg, he regularly swims for exercise. I reasoned it’s fairly normal for runners to have a secondary aerobic exercise they use as a cross training tool, plus it was something simple I could do in order to feel closer to my hero, so after I recovered from my surgeries I enrolled in a swim class. That swim class led to me swimming three days per week, and because I got acclimated to running and swimming in the same workout schedule, I figured if I wanted to do a triathlon all I had to add
was the cycling piece. Which led me to signing up for my first race.

I trained for a year, vigorously for four months. Every day I spent hours either lifting, swimming, cycling, running, or doing a combination of all four. In my state of exhaustion, I admittedly didn’t spend much time thinking of BJ, of what he might think of all this. I also didn’t see much of my husband. But finally, this last Saturday, at Henry Hagg Lake in scenic (and hilly) Forest Grove, I finished my first Olympic distance triathlon. I am now a marathoner and a triathlete.

Ben the Marathoner and
Triathlete












And I have Don Travis and his character to thank for that.

Thank you, Don and BJ. Without you, none of this would have been possible. To those authors who inspire countless of others, thank you and keep writing. Not everyone may thank you in a blog post, but know your words have changed people’s lives–you make the world a better place.
Love,
Ben

Here’s my Review of The Zozobra Incident by Don Travis. (At the bottom should be suggestion links to other books in the series.) Also, anyone notice that awesome medal and matching T shirt? Totally rad.

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About the author B. A. Brock

B. A. Brock has lived most of his life in the Pacific Northwest. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in 2007 at Portland State University--which he mostly uses to contemplate how we can achieve a civilization more closely aligned with Star Trek. When not writing, Brock spends his time reading/reviewing novels, training for marathons, and bemoaning the fact that the world has yet to make a decent gluten free donut.

*****

Thank you, Ben. What else can I say. Just… thank you. Awesome. Rad. Read him at www.babrockbooks.com


If readers would like to drop me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to City of Rocks, my most recent book.


The next book in the BJ Vinson Mystery Series, The Lovely Pines is scheduled for release on August 28 of this year. It appears on DSP Publication’s upcoming releases page:  http://www.dsppublications.com/books/upcoming-releases-c

Abaddon’s Locusts follows on January 22, 2019. AND I have recently signed a contract for the sixth book in the series called THE VOXLIGHTNER SCANDAL. Publication date as yet undetermined.

See you next week.

Don

New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.