Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Clara’s Being in the Box

A reader requested a ghost story for Halloween. At The Lunatic Assylum we aim to please. Here is "Clara's Being in the Box," first published October 2012 at Fiction and Verse, a now defunct online magazine. (The Lunatic Assylum was not the cause.) The short story survives. I hope you enjoy it.

Clara’s Being in the Box
Timothy Hurley
Would she see him? Clara wondered aloud to Abigail as the two walked onto the stage.  It was all red velvet Victorian elegance, Clara's acting dream come true.
“He appears only if your performance is exceptional or dreadful,”  Abigail said, soothing Clara’s shoulder. But that gesture didn’t stop the tremble in Clara's fingers or the twitch of her eyelid.  “Edgar Wallingford saw him eight times before he became so unnerved he committed suicide.  I saw him twice.  Both times I heard applause.  I was so relieved.”
“Will I recognize him?  My first performance here.  I’m petrified.”
“If he appears, it occurs in act one, in the box, stage left.  It’s locked.  No one has been in there since the murder.  He’s tall, craggy, with tangled beard, and he wears a long black coat and top hat.  When he looked in my eyes, his sadness was like an iceberg.  Sometime in the third act, you—only you—hear applause or a pistol shot rings out.  You mustn’t let on you hear it.  Eleanor Wolcott saw him during her debut and walked off terrified in the first act.”
“Oh, Abigail help me in the final scene.  I’m so frightened I might just faint.”
“I’ll be with you, dear.  Just watch my eyes.”
In act one Clara quaked, although the script did not call for it.  She walked stage right and turned to Abigail.  As she did this, she glanced at the box and thought she saw a black flash of movement.  Her eyes found Abigail’s at center stage and inquired if Abigail had seen it.  But Abigail continued her lines, her eyes unrevealing.  During intermission Clara rushed to her.
“Did you see him?” Clara said.   She was out of breath. 
“No, did you?”
“I couldn’t be certain.  It was just a flicker.  I thought I saw a hand, a coat.
“Only one actor sees him during a performance,” Abigail said. 
“I’m not sure, just a flash,” Clara said.  As the curtain went up on the last act, her breath came in tiny gasps and her heart pounded as if ready to leave her chest.
Clara could not force herself to look up.  A cough in the orchestra sounded like a canon in Clara’s ears.  The smell of her make-up became an irritating distraction.  She quieted her fidgeting hands and took Abigail’s in hers.  They stared at each other for the full minute of silence that the script called for.  She could tolerate the stillness in the audience and the ringing in her head no longer.  She closed her eyes and stepped center stage to deliver her final line.

At first Clara just supposed she heard.  Then she was certain. From stage left the definite, mounting reverberation of strong hands slapping together.  She turned from Abigail to steal a glance at the box and observed the back of a tall man in a black coat and top hat leaving the box through the open door. The stage went dark and applause thundered in the theater.  Clara heard only the echoing sound of hands colliding together in the locked box, stage left.

Thanks for reading. Until then.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Off Campus Interviews Timothy Hurley

Ari King, 49er fan
Today Ari King, author of What’s Next: Conversations about College, Graduation, and the Next Step interviewed Timothy Hurley at the BBox radio studio in Brooklyn.
Timothy Hurley, author, chief loony at The Lunatic Assylum

At the appointed hour I left my secret writing place in Brooklyn Heights and walked down to Fulton Ferry Landing.

I briefly paid homage to George Washington and his American patriots who skedaddled from that site in rowboats in America’s Dunkirk in 1776.
Timothy's trip through DUMBO was not this harrowing.

From there I found my way past Grimaldi’s Pizza. The line was short and I was tempted to stay. Instead I continued to Front St., under the Brooklyn Bridge, under the Manhattan Bridge and to the studio in DUMBO (DownUnderManhattanBridgeOverpass). Not far from Wallobout Bay where the British prison ships housed captured Americans and where La Bagel Delight now sells great bagels.
The British prison ships did not serve bagels.

I shook hands with Ari, and recalled how we met. We were in the elevator together at the Clark St. Subway Station. He was wearing his trademark SF 49ers jacket (He’s a fanatic fan.), and I called out, “Go Niners!” (a very unNew-York thing to do). We talked, learned we had a San Francisco connection, later had coffee on Montague St., and boom, here we are at a radio station.
Not Timothy at the BBox studio

We had a good time doing forty-one minutes in interview, which his editor will chop down to thirty minutes. We talked about college, careers, San Francisco in the 60s, and New York in the present. And of course, his book and my book, Shortstack, funny stories. The interview will air and be on the BBox radio and Off Campus websites. Stay tuned for an interview link in late November.

After the interview I made my way back to Montague St for lunch at Lassen and Henings. Now it’s back to editing my latest short story, The Ghost on the Barstool. Another day at The Lunatic Assylum.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Great St. Paul Write-Off

Chaunce Stanton and Timothy Hurley plotting Write Fight

While in St. Paul at the Twin Cities Book Fest, I was minding my own business, talking to readers about my funny book, when Chaunce Stanton, seated next to me pushing his novel (Blank Slate Boarding House for Creatives, 4.2 stars magic mystery novel) had the flash that we should engage in a writing competition.
Not Stanton and Hurley, but close

Members of the Google Plus community, Literary Agents Hate Kittens (of which I am a member) provided nouns, verbs and adjectives. 
Kitten thinking about verbs

Because adverbs have been persona non grata in literature since the Victorian age, he did not include them.
Queen Victoria banning adverbs

Attendees at the book fest were invited to vote for one noun, one verb, and one adjective. Eighty voters selected the words: Monocle, Procrastinate, Wobbly.
Chaunce and I wrote stories and both were posted without author attribution on his website with a voting poll. The voting is going on now, and readers of The Lunatic Assylum may following this LINK to read the stories and vote.
Plenty of nouns, verbs, and adjectives. But they chose Monocle, Procrastinate, Wobbly

The winner will not be paying for the Jameson’s or vodka martinis when next we two writers are sitting at the same table. That might not be real soon, as we drank up all the whiskey and vodka in Minnesota, and they will need time to replenish.
Not the actual source of Jameson's or Martinis

But you can read and vote now. Please do.

Thanks for reading. Next time? Til then.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Loonies Escape

The loony escaped The Lunatic Assylum, not unlike the escape from Cuckoo’s Nest.
Preparing to fly
Off I flew to Minneapolis-St. Paul from Newark. Met by St. Paul author, Chaunce Stanton (Blank Slate Boarding House for Creatives),
Two authors loose in St. Paul
I was whisked in his Volvo to Stanton House. There I received the royal treatment in spite of being a New York writer. We ate raw kale from the garden, drank beet kvass made by his gracious wife, Naomi, and imbibed Stanton’s own infused vodka, and visited with Stanton’s good friend Erin.
At Twin Cities Book, before official opening
The objective was the Twin Cities Book Fest. There we met fellow writers and many readers looking for books.
What ex-governors do in Minnesota
Jesse Ventura was conspicuously present, as was Delia Ephron, among others, all promoting their respective books. Lines for Jesse were a bit longer than the lines at our table. But we encountered many people and networked with writers as we were supposed to do. And we sold some books.
St. Paul Cathedral
Jesse Ventura's former employer
Also on the visit were a walking tour of Downtown St. Paul, the St. Paul Cathedral (large, impressive the way European cathedrals are impressive), the Minnesota State Capitol, and a visit to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s boyhood home and statue.
Two authors conferring, one bronzed
Not the least important were trips out for walleye sandwiches at the Tavern on Grand and pulled pork sandwiches at Black Dog Café (site of the writing of Blank Slate) where I met Sara Remke, owner and delightful person. She had the excellent taste to accept the gift of my book, Shortstack—signed.
Author of Shortstack and Sara Remke
To show my gratitude for a flight well done on my return trip I gifted my book to the pilot and flight attendant. Both said they needed something to read on layover and were happy.
Pilots like to read Shortstack.
St. Paul: I gave it two thumbs up. Chaunce said come back in January and we’ll do it all again. Let’s see. January. I could be busy in Brooklyn.
not really St. Paul, Minnesota in July

Thanks for reading. Tune in tomorrow for the Write Fight, the writing competition between writers Chaunce Stanton and Timothy Hurley that was born at the Twin Cities Book Fest.