Sunday, October 19, 2014

In Which I Compose a Fifth Potential Fifteen-Second Script for Sam Trammell

Last weekend, I composed then posted four potential fifteen-second scripts I'd written for Sam Trammell. I've gotten no further. I haven't decided on a script, and I haven't sent that script to the man in question. I considered emailing all four then letting him pick. He'd probably pick #4. I don't know. Maybe. I have no idea. This is an example of a writer taking everything she writes seriously, even an outgoing phone message for a celebrity to record for her. You know. Sigh. Decisions. Revisions.

Potential Script #5:

Hi, this is Sam Trammell. I played a man who could shift into a dog on a show called True Blood. Coincidentally, Alana wrote a story collection called Dog Men. I can't wait to receive my personally autographed copy then read it. Please leave a message after the howl. Thanks. (Howl.)


Saturday, October 11, 2014

In Which I Compose Four Potential Fifteen-Second Scripts for Sam Trammell, Also Known as Outgoing Phone Messages

Yes, I'm writing a fifteen-second script, also known as an outgoing phone message, which Sam Trammell will deliver, word-for-word, into my phone. Actually, I'm not sure how his message will get from his mouth to my phone. Will he call my number? Will I answer? Will I hear him say "Shit" before he hangs up? Will he continue to call until I don't answer then record the message?

Unanswered questions.

A mystery.

My son says, "Mom, he won't call your phone; he'll call the voice mail service, whatever." Oh, right.

Potential Script #1)
Hi, this is Sam Trammell. Alana can't come to the phone right now because she's watching Season 2 of True Blood again. (Sigh.) She really needs to cut back on the TV, or she'll never finish her second novel, which I, for one, am dying to read. Leave a message after the wolf howl. Thanks. (Howl.)

Potential Script #2)
Hi, this is Sam Trammell. Would you believe I gave up my career as an actor to become Alana's personal assistant? It all started when she replaced John Irving as my favorite writer. Her book, Dog Men, was so good I wept. Please leave a message after I finish weeping again. Thanks. (Weeping.)

Potential Script #3)
Hi, this is Sam Trammell. I'm never going to offer to record another outgoing phone message for Alana again. She wanted me to howl, weep, and lie. I'm a talented actor. And Alana is a talented writer. In fact, John Irving doesn't hold a candle to Alana's literary talent. That is not a lie.

Potential Script #4)
Hi, this is Sam Trammell. Alana spent three days writing this outgoing phone message and all she came up with was, "I don't know what to write for Sam Trammell." In other words, she was struck dumb by writer's block. I'm sure she'll recover soon then get back to completing her second novel. I'm rooting for you, Alana!


Sam Trammell

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

You Keep On Keeping On

Dear Alana Noel Voth,

Sincere thanks for sending us "Born Again" for consideration. Your work impressed the editorial staff with its impressive portrayal of the interactions and motivations of children. Their characterization is authentic and truly childlike in that they think in the simple complexities of innocents exploring their world. Though not selected for publication, the piece makes us hope we'll see more of your writing in the near future.


The Editors (The Missouri Review)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Joker's Gay Son (Draft 5)

At eighteen, Afton was on billboards for Abercrombie and Fitch. He stood shirtless in front of stores and middle-aged women stopped to take their pictures with him. The women smiled for the cameras. Afton smiled for their husbands. Maybe villainy was contagious. Maybe love was.
Every morning, Afton listened to “Cats in the Cradle” while exfoliating his face. At night, he stalked Jack Nicholson at parties. Jack turned on him one night.
“Stop tailing me, kid.”
“I wish Heath Ledger was here,” Afton said then burst into tears.
Two bouncers lifted the boy by his arms then hauled him out of the party.
“Which one of you wants to play my Daddy?” Afton asked as he propelled his feet, dangling. “Hehe. Haha.” He hadn’t perfected the laughter.
A week before, the Scarecrow had told Afton, “You’re too effeminate for a villain’s son.” Afton’s father was effeminate if you considered the face make up and clothing. The Scarecrow hadn’t meant “effeminate.” He’d meant weak. At night, Afton lay alone in bed, shivering. He saw his father’s shadow climb the walls. Memories of his laughter took the place of a hug.
After the bouncers tossed Afton onto the driveway, he stood, smoothed his suit, then showed them the bird. “Hey!” he screamed. “I have a million followers on Twitter.” His handle was @wickeddandy. A million followers weren’t enough. His wicked side was lacking.
A car with tinted windows pulled into the driveway. The passenger door swung open. Afton heard a young man’s voice. “Get in.” The inside of the car smelled like Tommy Hilfiger cologne. Afton smoothed his hair. The young man in the driver’s seat was handsome and stoic. He hit the gas pedal, then the car peeled out of the driveway. Afton worked on his laughter.
“Wow, you have any idea how you sound doing that?” Robin asked.
“Maniacal and wicked?”
 “Uh, sorry. More like a giggling lamb. Maybe the maniacal and wicked thing doesn’t suit you,” Robin said as he maneuvered the car into traffic. “I think you should join our side.”  
“I’m already gay,” Afton said.
Robin’s attempt to remain stoic behind his blush was endearing. “I mean work with us as a good guy.”
“I’m already a model for Abercrombie and Fitch,” Afton said.
Robin laid his hand on Afton’s leg. “Come on. I’m serious.”
Afton’s leg tingled. “What does your boss say?” he asked.  
“Well, he . . . thing is . . . I haven’t exactly . . . I don’t know,” Robin said.
Afton moved his leg away. He missed the warmth of Robin’s touch, the pressure. “It will never work,” he said then slipped a nail file from his pocket.
“Why not?” Robin steered the car into a parking lot of the police station.
Afton gulped. “Reason number one, this place triggers my panic disorder.”
“You’re imagining things,” Robin said then got out of the car.  When he came around to open Afton’s door, the villain’s son didn’t budge. Robin said, “Come on. Relax. Trust me.”
Afton counted to three, slipped the nail file away, then got out. They climbed to the roof of the police station where Afton stood back, feeling too hot in his suit. “Is that the Bat Signal?” he asked. When Robin nodded, he said, “You’re not going to turn it on, are you?”
“Of course not. That’s for emergencies and stuff. Seriously though, he’s a nice guy.”
“He’s your lover,” Afton said.
“Actually, that was a different Robin. I’m interested in someone else.”
“Who?” Afton asked.
“I don’t know. Say it.”
Robin asked another question instead. “How did you come out to your father?”
“Over the phone,” Afton said.
“What did he say?”
“Why so serious, son? The original definition of gay is happy.”
“So . . . he . . . took it pretty well then. He wouldn't have any of your boyfriends executed or anything, right?"
“I have to tell him everything over the phone,” Afton said.
Robin took a step closer.
“He’s a jet setter,” Afton said.
Robin got closer still.
“A super villain,” Afton continued.  “An enigma.”  
The super hero’s sidekick pushed his mouth against Afton’s. Their kiss was passionate. The villain’s son swooned before he remembered and found the nail file in his pocket then plunged it into Robin’s neck. The super hero’s sidekick staggered backwards.
“Why?” he asked.
Afton didn’t look at the slain hero, the boy who would have loved him. He shoved Robin backward over the edge. SPLAT! Afton ducked then peeked through his hands at the sky. No big bat swooped in to avenge his dead bird. No police rushed from the building. Afton sighed with relief then made his escape. Wait until Dad hears this, he thought. He had to tell him on Skype.
“Dad, I kissedImeanstabbedthenshovedRobinofftheroofofthepolicestation. I killed him. Dad . . .” Afton exhaled a breath. “Will you come home now?”
Inside the monitor, The Joker clapped his hands. “Oh, my dear boy, my wicked little dandy. You got the bird at last, and I’m so proud of you. Now, I’ve got a big, bad bat to kill.”
“But, Dad . . .” Afton stopped then began to shiver.
A shadow climbed the wall. His father’s laughter took the place of a hug. 

                     ©Alana Noël Voth
                             875 words 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Think of the Ride

One night when I was twenty, I sat at a boy’s feet. He’d rolled his Camaro when he was sixteen and never walked again. I knelt on the floor at the feet of this boy in a wheelchair and complained about my father at break neck speed. Myfatherthismyfatherthatmygoddamnfather . . .
The boy in the wheelchair leaned forward to touch my face. “Want to know what I do when I can’t get high enough?” he asked.
“What?” I wanted to know. “What do you do?”
“I drink bottles of cough syrup,” he said. “That shit will make you fly.”
I’d tried to fly once, the summer of 1980. I was thirteen, and my attempt began with a bicycle, my grandmother’s 1940 Schwinn. I told the boy in the wheelchair I was trying to outrun my father. He was irrational and mean and always breathing down my neck, and I wanted to escape him. The bike was heavy. I pushed it to the top of the steepest hill I could find then surveyed the drop. I got a tickle in my stomach.
My brother hovered behind me. “Get on,” I told him, making fists around the handlebars.
“Maybe we shouldn’t,” he said gazing down the hill, the long drop.
“Come on, think of the ride,” I said.
My brother climbed on back. I don’t recall pushing off. I don’t remember building speed. I don’t remember wind in my face or tears in my eyes or screaming. I don’t remember the ride at all. My brother jumped off within seconds of take-off and knocked the bike sideways—me with it. The bike and I made the rest of the trip down the hill alone, although I don’t remember. My face hit the pavement so hard my right eye swelled to the size of a golf ball. The pavement also shaved most the skin off my left arm and leg. I must have lied at the bottom of the hill motionless until my brother arrived. Insert him asking, “You alright, sis?”
I saw him through one eye and tasted blood. My body felt on fire since most of it was embedded with gravel. He lifted the bike off me, but first I had to untangle my feet. I limped up the hill beside my brother. Apparently, a car stopped and the people inside offered us a ride, but my brother said no. We didn’t accept rides from strangers. We continued through the neighborhood until I saw my grandfather’s El Camino. Mostly what I saw was my father’s face. He leapt from the car, took me in his arms, then lifted me.
In the emergency room I wailed, “Am I ugly?” at least five times and couldn’t keep my hands away from my face, that enormous eyeball. I wailed until a nurse hooked me to an IV.  
At this point, the boy in the wheelchair leaned forward to touch my face again.
“What?” I asked, gulping. “You think I’m vain?”
“No,” he said. “I think you got what you wanted.”
             His legs were gazelle-thin, his smile the most wistful I’d ever seen.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Excerpt from "Dog Men"

Photograph by Robb Todd. Picture used with permission.

When Tally woke, she had no idea where she was and stared through the windshield, trying to orientate herself. The Ellis brothers’ cabin rose like a castle against the trees.
“Amber?” she said, nudging her friend. “Look.”
Amber stirred beside her then said, “What happened? Did I pass out or what?”
“We fell asleep,” Tally said. “Look.” She pointed out the window.
Amber appeared unimpressed. 
Cannon brought the truck to a stop beside another inside a double garage. When he turned off the engine, the truck went still. The light in the garage blinked off. Tally smelled gasoline, pine cones, and wet dog. When Cannon opened his door, the cab light came on. He got out of the truck then Amber scooted out past him. He peered inside the cab.
“Coming?” he asked his brother.
“In a minute,” Justin said.
Cannon slammed the door shut. Amber was already inside. He followed her calling, “Hey, sweetheart. Don’t go too far. Sweetheart, come here, I’ve got something to show you.”
The garage went quiet except for a steady tick from the truck. Tally sat still but her heart raced inside her chest. Suddenly, she was terrified. She was alone with Justin Ellis.
“You really going to New York?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. It was something they’d talked about in high school, talked about obsessively, getting away from their sad, single mothers and the trailer park, making it all the way to some place like New York—joyful, glamorous, and diverse.  
“I wish you wouldn’t,” Justin said.
Tally snuck a look at him. “You don’t?”
“I wish you’d stay. You know, here with me. I can picture you my girlfriend.”
Tally stole another look at him. “You can?”
“Yeah.” Justin turned to face her. “Will you do me a favor, Tally? Please don’t say no.”
 Tally gulped. “What is it?”
“Could you hang that pretty necklace of yours on the rearview mirror?”
Tally stared in his eyes with the lashes as long as a girl’s. “Why?” she asked, her voice barely a whisper.
“Trust me,” he said, and his smile was so convincing and sweet and sexy, Tally removed the necklace then draped the chain over the rearview mirror. The heart swung back and forth. She wanted to make him happy. 
“It was just a dumb plan we made in high school,” Tally said.
Justin wrapped his arms around her then traced her neck with his fingertips. He brushed his mouth across her cheek leaving a trail of tingles. When he kissed her on her mouth, it wasn’t like kissing Amber, someone she’d known forever and loved. It was like kissing someone from a dream she was dying to impress but wasn’t sure she could trust.
Tally pulled away, lips tingling like she’d just eaten cinnamon candy.
“Am I going too fast?” Justin asked.
Tally wasn’t sure.  “Can we go inside? I’m thirsty.”
Justin opened his door then got out before turning to offer his hand. Tally took it and could have sworn hair in his palm tickled hers. He was so polite, so nice to her. Inside, he led her into a kitchen. She saw an island stove, a black refrigerator, and several pots and pans dangling from the wall on hooks. “Where’s Amber?” she asked.
“Probably in the other room with Cannon. What can I get you to drink?”
“Whatever you have,” she said noticing a set of keys on the counter, probably Cannon’s keys to the truck. Where was Amber? Justin took a couple beers from the refrigerator then asked Tally if she wanted a glass. She shrugged and said, “If you want,” then heard a noise from the other room and crossed the kitchen to a door. Hopefully, she’d find her best friend in there. Maybe she’d find her making out with Cannon. Tally opened the door.
The room was full of dead animals.  Cannon crouched in front of a fireplace while Amber stood several feet away, arms crossed, staring at something that looked like a badger. The creature bared its teeth at her. She turned on Cannon. “What’s all this, trophies?”
Cannon smiled.
Amber didn’t smile back. “I’m not going to fuck you,” she said.  
Justin spoke behind Tally, making her jump. “Everything okay, Cannon?”
Cannon stood to his full height in front of the fireplace while Amber moved further into the room then halted beside a stuffed mountain lion, lips pulled back in a useless snarl.
“Killed that bitch with my bare hands,” Cannon said.
Amber met Tally’s eyes across the room. “Having fun?” she mouthed.
Tally nodded and smiled then shrugged. She felt her smile wane. She felt guilty all of a sudden, like it was her fault her friend was here, and her friend was unhappy.
Cannon removed the silver ring from his finger than placed it on the fireplace mantle.
“What are you going to do, Cannon?” Justin leapt in front of Tally, blocking her view.
Tally poked her head around Justin. “Amber?” she called. “Where are you?”
Both Amber and Cannon were gone.
Justin swung around, forcing a smile. “Hey, how about that beer?” He took Tally’s hand, and she felt hair tickling her palm again so turned their hands over, trying to see. Justin pulled his hand away. Tally stepped back. Was that wet dog smell coming from him?
“I need to find Amber,” she said.
“Why?” Justin asked. “Cannon will find her. He’ll take care of it.”
“What do you mean?” Tally looked over her shoulder, wishing Amber would reappear. 
“You know,” Justin said. “She was kind of a bitch to him.”
Tally took another step backward. “Don’t talk about my friend like that. She doesn’t like him, okay, so what? Does she have to like him? Does she even have to like guys?”
Justin advanced toward her. Tally hurried across the room. He caught up at a doorway leading down some stairs. “Tally, I’m sorry.”
Tally looked at him. “Listen, she came here as a favor to me, you know because we’re best friends, and we love each other, and friends do stuff like that.”
Justin lifted an arm so it stretched in front of her then pressed his hand to the frame of the door. “Do you like me, Tally?” He breathed heavy. A dog smell came off him in waves.

From the story, "Dog Men" by Alana Noël Voth
©Alana Noël Voth

"Dog Men" is the title story of my collection, forthcoming this fall from Tiny Hardcore Press