Welcome

Welcome to my blog.
Since I have taken A Wolf's Paradise offline in hopes of it going into publication, I will be changing the scope of my blog.

I am now going to try and provide a forum if you will, for all things writing. Friends that would like to throw out short-stories, interviews, reviews, etc, etc.

Let me know what you've got, I'm willing to help in any way that I can.

Cheers, Mates!

JRH

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Bit of Good News

Well everyone, I'm afraid this isn't going to be the normal post that you're used to for Wednesday. Instead of the continuation of A Wolf's Paradise, I have an announcement to make. No I'm not stopping the blog, just turning it in a new direction.

You see recently I have had publishing interest in A Wolf's Paradise, Woo-Hoo, and with that interest I have been advised to stop publishing chapter by chapter on the internet.

However, I do plan to keep the blog going with writing updates on the progress of Wolf, short stories, author interviews, and so on. I urge you to check in once and a while and follow my progress, and to also see what else is going with friends and colleagues of mine in the literary world.

Thank you so much for all of your support since this thing got started!!!

Have a great week,

JRH

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chapter Three - Part Four...Time To Grow Up Kid

  Maintaining eye contact with me, Mr. Jennings walked directly over to my desk. Leaning down and in, close to my ear so the other kids wouldn’t overhear him, he softly whispered, “Mr. D would like you to accompany him to his office.”

  Apparently the teachers couldn’t pronounce Mr. D’s name either. “What’s this all about Mr. Jennings,” I asked warily.

  “I think you’d better let Mr. D tell you that son,” his voice quavering ever so slightly. When he called me son, I started to wonder what the heck was going on.
 
  Seeing that I wasn’t going to get anything out of the usually loquacious Mr. Jennings, I got up and started the long walk down the green mile, towards Mr. D and the doom that awaited me. As I slowly dragged my suddenly leaden feet through the classroom, I could feel the entire classroom staring at me, as well as hearing the little sniggers and snide comments coming from my supposed friends. I couldn’t just let their derision go, so I twisted my head slowly around like a cobra, appraising the rogues gallery that was my class, and gave them the most withering stare that I could manufacture. It didn’t really have much effect though, but what the hell, it made me feel better.

  Three things happened next, and if you ever asked me if I thought they were possible, I probably would have stared at you like a third eye had just grown out of your forehead, things like this just didn’t happen.

  First, when I had finally finished my funeral march across the classroom floor to Mr. D and my impending doom, he didn’t say a word to me; which wasn’t the odd part. He could probably stare at a prisoner for days without uttering a word, until you’d finally just crack, turning into a blubbering wreck; you’d confess like some God forsaken sinner to all the bad things you’d done in your life, whether you’d done them or not, all the while just hoping to get those terrible glasses to stop staring through you, stripping your soul bare, leaving you with an empty, hollow feeling inside.

 Nope, this is how the first one went down... When we stepped out into the hall he did speak to me, and it scared the crap out of me, not because of what he said, no, it was the way in which he said it. Laying one of his enormous hands on my shoulder, causing a cold shudder to run through my body, all the way from head to my toes, Mr. D spoke to me with a solicitude that I didn’t think the big man was capable of.

“I want you to come with me son,” was all he said.

  Believe it or not, I swear that I noticed the same small quaver in his voice that I had heard when Mr. Jennings told me I was to accompany Mr. D to the office; and he called me son as well. I was starting to get a really bad feeling in my guts; my illusions of the giant school principal were crashing down all around me. If the great man whom I thought was unflappable in any situation was showing signs of emotion, then surely the apocalypse couldn’t be far behind.

   I wanted to know what was going on, but I didn’t, if you know what I mean? I knew that I hadn’t done anything wrong, so whatever he had to tell me I was sure couldn’t be good news. In the end my curiosity got the better of me and I squeaked out a question. “Um, Mr. D, could you please tell me what’s going on, I don’t think that I did anything wrong today.”

  He looked down at me and said, “I think we should probably wait until we get to my office Max, ok?”

  I nodded in agreement, while shaking my head in disbelief at the same time. What the hell was going on here that he couldn’t at least give me some inclination of where this was all heading, and he knows my first name, whoa… not good, not good at all.

  We finally made it to the office where Ms. Hoover was waiting to greet us, and that’s where the second sign of the apocalypse reared its ugly little head. Not only did Ms. Hoover not even look up from whatever she was doing, to give me her usual sardonic half-smile. Mr. D ushered me straight into his office, bypassing the chair and it’s 15 minutes of hunched over, splinterrific-pain, ‘OH GOD,’ what have I done?

  Mr. D offered me a seat in front of his desk, which I immediately took for fear of passing out if I waited to long to sit. The air around me seemed unusually thick all of a sudden, and I was having some trouble breathing. My skin was awash with the sensation of a million needles poking into me all at once, and I felt really dizzy. I don’t think I’d ever been this nervous in all my life to receive the news that was about to be handed down.

  To make things worse, Mr. D didn’t go straight to his seat to give it to me. He walked over to his office window and just stared out at some unknown object off in the distance for a minute or two. It had the feel of a man trying to collect his thoughts before he could speak, or a man who just plain didn’t know what to say. I’ll tell you what though, it wasn’t doing my nerves any good, but I knew better than to push the man.

  I didn’t think it would be possible for me to be any more nervous than I was, but when Mr. D finally took his seat behind the desk, I was a lot more nervous. You see, Mr. D seemed to shrink a little bit when he sat down in his chair, his shoulders were slumped, he leaned forward a bit and placed his elbows on the desk, and he lowered his head into his hands, then ran his fingers through his hair. It kind of felt like he was nervous to tell me whatever he had to tell me, which an hour ago would have seemed impossible, and that’s when it happened, the third sign.

  With his hands still on top of his head, Mr. D inclined his head up, as he did so his hands lowered to the frames of his glasses pulling them off as his head came up and he looked at me for the first time without the glasses on. It was then that I saw the torture and pain in his eyes, they were the eyes of a man who would rather be anywhere but here, bloodshot and red around the edges like he’d been crying recently, and then he spoke.

  “Son, I don’t know of any good way to give news like this, and believe me I’ve been trying to think of one, so I’m just going to tell you and hopefully you won’t resent me later for being so blunt. The truth is that there’s been an accident involving your folks.” He gave me a moment to digest this.

  Reading the answer all over his face, I still asked, “Are they ok, what happened?” My body was now starting to shake.

   Taking another moment to collect himself, Mr. D took in a deep breath and gave it to me straight, “They were on the interstate access road this morning after they dropped you off. Apparently they were just getting to the point where the speed limit increases to 55 mph, and it starts to go uphill, when a car traveling in the opposite direction at a high rate of speed crossed the center line and moved directly into your parent’s path. He hit them head on Max, and knocked their car over the embankment and into the river.” I could see the tears starting to form in his eyes, even through the blur that was fogging my vision.

  He got up from his desk and started walking around it towards me, “they never had a chance son, I’m so sorry,” his voice straining to get the words out.

  I just sat there in utter disbelief of what had just been laid on me, all I could do was shake my head back and forth while uttering no over and over again. Could it have been only a couple of hours ago, that my parents had dropped me off at school, smiling and waving goodbye, telling me to have a great day? Hot tears were burning their way down my cheeks and I was blowing snot-bubbles out of my nose. This just couldn’t be, not my kind, gentle, loving parents, and that was when it really hit me. “I’m all alone Mr. D,” I spluttered.

  I never thought the big man could move so fast, but he was around his desk in a flash, picking me up out of my chair ever so gently, just like he was my father taking me out of my crib after a morning nap. He wrapped me up in a gigantic bear-hug, and I just let it all go at once, my body wracked with sobs. “What am I going to do?”

  “Lets not worry about that right now, son.” At that moment Mr. D was all the family I had in the world. 

I hope you all enjoyed this weeks offering.
As always, I appreciate any input you have.
Tell your friends, and have a great week! 
JRH

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Good Stuff!

Hey everybody, while you are all eagerly awaiting the next installment of A Wolf's Paradise; check out the links to some of my friends blogs. If you love good horror writing as I do, and everything else that goes with it, you will not be disappointed. And once again, the newest post will be up and running tomorrow.

Thanks,
JRH

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chapter Three - Part Three... Me and Mr. D

  At 10:36 that morning I was enduring another one of Mr. Jennings extremely boring lectures on the socioeconomic impacts of new technology on indigenous cultures. Schools in VT didn’t have the luxury of air conditioning, and the early May heat wave was having its way with me. I was more or less drifting off into space in a heat induced coma, dreaming of the sweet sounds of the bell ‘O’ freedom at 2:19 this afternoon. As I was gazing at those unknown spaces, I happened to see the schools principal walk up to our classroom’s door and stop.

  I remember thinking that it was odd to see Mr. D at the door, he usually wouldn’t be bothered to come snatch a kid out of class for deviant behavior, whoever was in trouble must’ve really screwed up big-time to get a personal escort from the big cheese himself. I’d had the pleasure of sitting on the receiving end of his enormous desk before, and believe me, that was intimidating enough. 
 
  We called him Mr. D mostly because nobody could pronounce Dziubek right, it was a Polish name or something, but nobody ever would have dared to pick on Mr. D about that. You see, Mr. D was a big dude, and not just because we were kids, he was a Big dude. He was every bit of 6’ 5” tall, and I’m guessing that he probably tipped the scales at well over 250lbs, and he wore a kick-ass handlebar moustache.

  To add to the overall threatening appearance of the school principal, Mr. D wore these suits with really blocky shoulders and narrow waistlines, making him look even bigger than he was, kind of like a super-villain out of a Batman comic book. He also wore cowboy boots, adding another two inches of height to his already towering frame.  The piece de resistance was his glasses; Mr. D wore these glasses with big square lenses and brushed chrome frames, which in itself wasn’t very intimidating; the fact that they were darkly tinted so that you couldn’t see his eyes, not to mention the fact that he never took them off…, that was intimidating, very intimidating.

  If you’d had the pleasure of your presence being requested at the principal's office, it wasn’t just a quick in and out with a slap on the hand and a stern, “don’t do it again.” Oh no, you got the full POW treatment from Mr. D. You’d walk into the office, only to be greeted with a grunt from Mr. D’s ancient secretary, Ms. Hoover, 800 years old and never been married, now there’s a shock! When you try to picture Ms. Hoover, just think Old Crone, it works for me. Ms. Hoover’s wrinkles had wrinkles.

  After the grunted greeting, Ms. Hoover would point with her hairy, wart infested chin towards the most uncomfortable chair ever devised by man which sat right beside Mr. D’s office door, his door was always closed. I don’t know where he found this chair, and I’m not sure if it was even legal to use in a school, unless the state school board had loosened its stance on cruel and unusual punishment, and the use of torture device’s in school.

  “The Chair,” as it was affectionately known was absolutely horrible, it was made entirely out of wood, but not just any wood, it was made from the hardest wood known to man and it was rough hewn, which meant it still had plenty of splinters to share with bad little boy's and girl's butts. Maybe it was stolen from a giant’s castle, or Mr. D’s house as it was just too tall for a kid to sit in. Kids would have to back up to it and place the heels of their hands on the seat, all the while risking a splinter or two, and then hoist themselves up. It didn’t stop there though, whoever had spawned this creation also made the front of the seat higher than the back, and the seatback itself leaned forward, so as you were sitting there folded in the middle, it felt as if this cruel chair were trying to eat you.

  Mr. D knew if you were in the chair too, because he would always give you time to think about your crimes while sitting in this chair. The standard wait time was usually around ten minutes, but if your misdeed was of an extra grievous nature, you could expect to spend up to fifteen or twenty minutes being devoured by “the chair.”

  When he thought you had stewed for long enough he would buzz Ms. Hoover’s desk to let her know that he was ready for your sentencing to begin. At the sound of the buzzer, Ms. Hoover would slowly look over at the accused and smile, which was her way of letting you know that Mr. D was ready. At this point you would hobble bent over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame to the Mr. D’s door and knock. After ten seconds or so you would hear one word uttered from within.

 “Come,” the voice would say, sounding like it had just gargled a handful of razor blades.

  That was the other thing about Mr. D, his voice only had one volume, but it was a deep, low rumble of a voice, sort of like a grizzly bear who had just been woken from a nap, it wasn’t a voice you really wanted to be mad at you.

  So now this scary mountain of a man was at our classroom door, about to grab some unsuspecting schlub out of their seat and drag them from the painful droning of Mr. Jennings lecture, which in itself wouldn’t be all that bad, but sitting across the desk from Mr. D, that was bad.

  With a gentleness I didn’t think he could effect, Mr. D gently rapped on the door. Looking mildly annoyed, Mr. Jennings ceased his ramblings, but when he saw who was at the door, he immediately went to answer it. After a brief conference with their backs to the classroom, they turned in unison and together they both stared directly at me with worried looks on both their faces.

  “Oh Shit,” slithered out from between my clenched teeth. 


Make sure to check in next Wednesday for the latest in Max's journey! I really do value your opinions, so please tell me what you think. If you like what you're reading tell all your friends. 

Cheers Mates, I raise my glass to you all! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chapter Three- Part Two...My worst day!

  You see, I’ve lived here my entire life, and I’ve seen a lot of thing’s change over the years, and mostly it’s not a good kind of change. It’s kind of sad when the innocence of your youth is torn from your hands by the sound of gunshots followed by cars racing off down unknown streets in the middle of the night. When I was younger it didn’t seem like such a bad place, I don’t know that it was any better, maybe it was just that I was looking at with a child’s eyes. When you’re a kid you don’t see the flaws, all you see are the summers with no end, best friends forever, and parents that won’t let you stay up late enough to watch all the good TV shows.

  Yeah, well all the sunny days of chasing the clouds away, were stolen from me when I was eleven, this is how it went down; you see my parents could only afford one car when I was growing up so we would all carpool together in the morning. It was actually pretty nice, we all got to see each other on our way before the day actually started, you know. Me and Dad could talk about the big game that was on TV the night before, Mom could remind Dad to pick up some milk on the way home, family stuff, the things you always take for granted, and we didn’t know it at the time, but we were actually being environmentally conscious by only driving one car.

  On May 14th, 2006, a day like any other day, we all piled into the car together and hit the road. Dad would drive because he had the farthest commute to work, and they would drop me at school first, and then Dad would bring Mom to her job, Mom worked for the state over in Montpelier. Every day we’d pull up in front of my school, I’d lean forward over the front seat of our car, and we’d all sort of do a group hug; Me with my arms around my parent’s necks, and the two of them sandwiching my cheeks with a kiss. I didn’t care; I really loved my parents and didn’t particularly give a crap if anyone saw us, besides I was pretty big, even at eleven and could intimidate most of the other kids at school. I remembered thinking as I got out of the car and said goodbye to my Mom and Dad, this is going to be an awesome day, the sun was bright and it was an unusually warm day for mid May.
   
  May 14th turned out to be the worst day of my young life. I didn’t know it then, but when I smiled and waved goodbye to my parents that morning it would be the last time that I ever saw them alive. 

Check in next Wednesday as the saga continues...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chapter Three...Beginnings

Beginnings

Chapter Three


"The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet."
Lau Tzu

 

  Hi my name is Max Soluski, the root of the name being Solus which means "alone" in Latin, you might find that interesting after I’ve blathered on for a little bit longer. I’ve spent my entire life in the backwoods towns of a place called Central VT. The Barre-Montpelier area to be more specific, and no it’s not pronounced bar; it’s more like bury, which coincidentally is how I feel living here, buried. Most people who have never been to VT before, outside of New Englander’s, think that VT is in Canada, it’s not, it’s that tiny speck on the map in between NY and NH, Canada is above us. Yes people, the school systems are failing us everywhere.

  A friend of mine told me once that the mountains here have a way of closing in around you, making it even harder to get out. One of my favorite singers, Steve Earl once wrote a song that had a line in it, “Won’t nothing bring you down, like your home town.” They were both right on cue, at least to my way of thinking; most days I feel like I’m a prisoner here waiting to be exonerated for my crimes so I can get the hell on.

    It’s hard to live somewhere that you don’t want to be, especially when you don’t feel like you belong there, or you feel like you’re an outsider. Not having any family or friends, and being shipped from one strangers house to another, time after time kind of makes you feel like an outsider. It’s not that I think that I’m better than the next guy, I just feel like there’s more for me out there beyond the shadow of the mountains. I need wide open spaces; I want to be able to see for hundreds of miles without a mountain obstructing my view. I guess I have claustrophobia on a grand scale, it’s statewide, ha-ha. 

Check back soon for the next post!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chapter Two, Part Four

 Joey glanced over at the Sheriff, “So what’s the plan boss?”

  “It’s like I said before son, we gotta put him down. There’s definitely something not right with this fella, and I’m not going to take a chance on him getting those teeth into somebody.”

  Without saying another word Sheriff Brown raised his rifle to his shoulder and took aim, as he did so the wolf turned his head and looked into the hardware store’s front window. It was almost as if he was trying to see who the Sheriff was aiming his rifle at. Turning his massive head back around, he stared once more at the Sheriff, and then he started to walk towards him.
  
  His eyebrows were arched up almost in a quizzical sort of way, as if he were trying to say, “Hey Sheriff, how ya doing? Awfully nice day don’t you think, oh and why the hell are you pointing that nasty looking gun at me?”

  Sheriff John Brown didn’t need any more of an excuse than that, when he saw the wolf start moving towards him. Steadying himself, he took aim directly at the great wolf’s chest. For a moment time seemed to slow down, sounds were muffled around him, ever so briefly he felt like he was inside a vacuum and all the air in the immediate area had been sucked out. He took a deep breath and fired; everything that he had felt a moment ago exploded at the same moment the hammer on his gun struck the round. The report of his rifle seemed even louder than normal, maybe it was because a deathly quiet had befallen the whole town in the moments just before he took the shot.

  The shot from the Sheriff’s big hunting rifle had an immediate effect, the big wolf stopped like he had just run into an invisible wall. He stopped, but he didn’t fall, he looked down at the blackened hole in his fur that was starting to bleed, and then he looked back up at the Sheriff with a look that was part shock and part disbelief. He raised his giant head and howled half-heartedly, and then with a shudder he fell over on his side and didn’t move.

  “Is it dead Sheriff?” asked someone who was watching from nearby.

  “I reckon it is, but I suppose we should have a look see, eh Joey?”

  Shouldering his rifle with the sling, Sheriff Brown drew his service revolver. Being a small town, the Sheriff didn’t feel the need for too much firepower and that’s why he carried a five shot .38 caliber police special, instead of Springfield 1911 .45 caliber auto jobby, there just wasn’t a need for that kind of stopping power here in Bettles.

  Holding their pistols out in front of themselves in a two handed shooters-stance, the two men advanced on the wolf. When they were close enough the Sheriff reached out with the toe of his boot and gently nudged the animal in the ribs. Seeing no signs of life he got a little closer, and then slowly knelt down beside it.

  “Damn it Sheriff, would you please be careful,” whispered Deputy Joey.

  “Don’t worry buddy,” exhaled the Sheriff, “I think he’s gone.”

  At that moment the wolf raised its head up a couple of inches off the street and looked directly into the Sheriff’s mirrored sunglasses. Joey jumped back, barely suppressing the shriek that tried to jump out of his throat. The Sheriff fell directly back onto his butt. After holding the Sheriff in its sight for a moment, the wolf gently laid his head back on the ground closing his eyes as he did so, and with one last rumble the giant timber wolf exhaled his last breath.  

In the next installment we meet Max. Check it out!
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