I want to write a story about my history with Coca-Cola–something for a health/wellness hippy magazine. How does someone get to the point where they consumer six to ten cokes a day without even thinking twice about it… for over two decades? I’ve tried on and off to “cut down” but it wasn’t until I decided to quit the habit entirely that I started having some success.
In the name of full disclosure: Somedays, I will have a Coke Zero. However, I’m quitting that too.
I now drink a lot of tea. My favorite is this one: Sweet Leaf Tea Lemon & Lime Unsweet. Available at Whole Foods, made in Austin.
This story has drama, comedy, romance, horror, and a triumph of the human spirit (orchestral score by John Williams). Hippy magazine editors, be ready for me.
A new month and a new short story. I wrote this one with a deep respect for Oxford American magazine and a fondness for small Texas towns. I might submit it to OA for publication, if they don’t mind that a few of you read it “via email” first. Thank you to all my subscribers for your patronage. Not a member? For only $10, you too can join the fun. Here’s a preview of this month’s story:
“Escaping Venus Texas” by David Hopkins
Eileen always thought the rats would eat the cockroaches—or that the presence of cockroaches would indicate an absence of rats. Imagine her displeasure when both proliferated and partnered together. During the year she lived with Chad, the cockroaches appeared on the walls, the floor and the ceiling. Eileen used Glamour with Reese Witherspoon on the cover. The Happy Issue. She rolled the magazine into a baton. An optimistic headline faced outward: “301 things to put you in a good mood fast.” 1… 2… 3… she crushed three cockroaches that evening. But it was the appearance of the rat that made her decide to leave Chad.
The rat was in the kitchen. The rat did not scurry when it saw Eileen. It was not afraid of Eileen. This bothered her.
“Go!” She waved her arms above her head. “Get out of here!”
The rat turned toward Eileen and sniffed the air. The gesture said, “Make me.” Read more →
Since going over the cliff as a full-time freelance writer, I haven’t had as much time to devote to comics. If Quick still existed, I would definitely continue WE’VE NEVER MET (read the saga on my published works page, scroll down). However, beyond that, I’ve needed to focus my work on words without pictures. That doesn’t mean I’m not still thinking longingly about comics. I just have to be a little more patient and strategic about the comic book projects I take on. Here’s one: Brent Schoonover and I put together a story called PETITION TO THE GODS.
Brent included a sneak peek on his beautifully re-designed website. Take a look: http://brentschoonover.com/work/petition-to-the-gods/ It’s about as dark a story as you’re ever going to read. You might not imagine it coming from me since I can’t stomach most horror films. Who knew I had it in me?
If you’re a publisher and you’re reading this, and you’re not a wimp, you should publish PETITION TO THE GODS. Hey there. Wink. http://brentschoonover.com/work/petition-to-the-gods/
This story takes place in Venus, Texas. The September short story (coming soon) also takes place in Venus. It might be my favorite small town.
The Short Story of the Month Club ventures into its third month. This time, I’m dabbling with parody and writing about comic book conventions. We have 128 subscribers. For only $10, you can join the fun. Here’s a preview of this month’s story:
“Lolito” by David Hopkins
Lolito, bane of my existence, pain in my ass. My sin, my suffering. Lo-lee-toe: the tip of the spine shudders taking a trip of three vertebrae downward to tap, at three. Lo. Lee. Toe.
He was Toe, plain Toe, at the live art show, standing five feet ten in combat boots. He was Toto in his oversized Kevin-Smith jean shorts. He was Lee at school. He was Lorenzo on the dotted line. But at my booth, at every damn comic book convention, he was always Lolito.
As Vladimir Nabokov once wrote, “You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.”
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what all geeks and nerds, the misinformed, simple and noble, envied: I had my own booth to sell my comics. I had a base of operations.
He invaded that base on a continual basis. Read more →
The Short Story of the Month Club continues. We have 125 subscribers. You’re welcome to join them. Here’s a preview of this month’s story:
“The Lucky Buck Poetry Club” by David Hopkins
Don was not disappointed; he was devastated. The roof of their bar, the Lucky Buck, caved in by the weight of last night’s snow. Don sat in his pickup truck, staring at the wreckage. The snow on the roof, which melted and re-froze into a heavier block of ice, exploited a weakness in the tired structure, broke through and everything gave way. The hole was massive. More snow drifted in.
Don kept his truck running, and stepped outside. The cold left him breathless. He gasped and zipped his coat to his chin. Don took a step towards the bar and then slipped on a patch of the icy sidewalk. The salt did little to melt anything. Don regained his balance and made it to the door. It was locked. There was a note posted inside the small window: BAR CLOSED. CAN YOU GUESS WHY? No doubt written by Sally who arrived earlier that morning. Don rested his head against the entrance. He could hear the creaking of the Pabst Blue Ribbon sign above him. Read more →
D Magazine has another issue available. (Amazing how that happens every month…) This one includes my story The Good Fortune of Bad Kids Go to Hell:
How two Dallas boys moved to Los Angeles and made a movie the hard way. If not for the story itself, you must check it out because of the amazing photo by Elizabeth Lavin. I love it.
Next to the Angelika in Mockingbird Station, a secret side door leads to a nightclub used for special events. A red carpet unrolled at its doorstep in March after the new horror comedy Bad Kids Go to Hell had a private screening. Inside, the room pulsed with music, but no one danced—save for one guy. He was all over the place. A few girls in tight dresses swayed to the beat, which was all their attire would allow. The DJ performed his task in an animated fashion to disguise the simplicity of his job. Everyone else shifted through the dark room, moving from one conversation cluster to another on a seven-minute rotation. Speaking over the noise, they talked politely about the movie they had just seen. “I think it’s going to be a huge hit. I really do.” “I just loved it.”
At the entrance, filmmakers Matthew Spradlin and Barry Wernick stood on the red carpet, framed by a Bad Kids backdrop. It was their movie and their night. Both had their arms around a star from the film while the cameras flashed. (One actor had been in Degrassi and White Oleander; the other was a pretty girl who had played bit parts in a smattering of lesser-known films.) Spradlin and Wernick each wore a mischievous smile—as if they had planned everything to go precisely this way.
The Short Story of the Month Club has begun! We have 123 subscribers, and we’re always happy for more people join. Here’s a preview of this month’s story:
“If You Could Be” by David Hopkins
Angela and I dated five years ago. I can’t remember who stopped calling. Probably me. Fantasy Football and my post-college career demanded more time than I would ever admit. Commuting left me useless at the end of the day, and the responsibility of a career created this counter balancing force of sloth. I had enough energy to watch Sportscenter and drift through the Internet on my laptop. That was it. Discarded pizza boxes, DVDs, fast food wrappers, and unopened junk mail spiraled across my living room, originating from my couch like the Fibonacci sequence. Yeah, I flaked on dates.
In time, I acclimated to my job. I cleaned my apartment. I learned to cook meals for one. I sold my futon and bought real furniture. Life became a manageable process, not as daunting as people had always warned. If Angela and I had started dating in the summer, it would have been different. Read more →
The May issue of D Magazine is now available online. It includes my story about CitySquare’s LAW Center (click here, read, and enjoy).
Charles Johnson has a knack for finding students in need. During his 15 years as a security worker at North Dallas High School, he has taken in 39 teenagers who had nowhere else to go. He allows them to stay at his Oak Cliff home, where he lives with his mother. He’s a man of simple means who believes in helping others. One morning, he found one of his most recent tenants.
Ariel came to the United States from Honduras. He joined his sister and her 2-year-old daughter. His sister was deported after stealing food to feed them. Scared and alone, Ariel started looking for help. When Johnson saw him, he could tell he was hungry and in trouble. Ariel barely spoke English, but he tried his best to explain the situation. He had come here to escape a drug gang that had killed two family members. The gang shot up their house and was looking for him. Ariel was going to be sent back, which meant certain death.
Johnson doesn’t make much money. What little he earns goes to cover the cost of caring for his students. He didn’t know how he could afford an attorney. Johnson first went to a large law firm. They were sympathetic but couldn’t immediately take the case. To keep Ariel in the country, a family court first needed to award Johnson conservatorship, which required written permission from the parents in Honduras. But Johnson couldn’t find them, and the order needed to be issued before Ariel turned 18, only days away.
I have been fortunate to work with the talented Gigi Cavenago on OUTLAW TERRITORY, VOL. 3. He posted some pages from our short story “Judge Roy Bean” on his site. Thus, I thought it would be fine to re-post the pages here… Read more →
Ever so often, someone is brave enough to ask for my opinion on something they’ve written. I’m a curmudgeony (yes, that a word) Creative Writing teacher — and not the cute kind of curmudgeon either. My mind is trained to not like what you’ve written. Not out of spite, but just because there is so much crap out there. Something magnificent, by definition, must be rare. If someone hands me a script, I will always try to read it. Usually, I don’t finish. That, in itself, should be taken as a sign. However, if I do finish it, my notes may not be kind, but they will be sincere. If the notes are cruel, be encouraged. It means I care, and I really want this story to be good. Read more →