The Fourth

It’s technically 1:20am, though my mind says 12:20. Which is still late. I want to keep editing. In three days I’m halfway through my editor notes. By January or February I will be published. Like, late December is possible. And I want to keep editing, but my nephew will come down to the basement at 7am and go, “Uncle Paul? Come play with me.” And I’ll already be a hot mess from a lack of sleep along with a biopsy.

Did you know biopsies hurt? I am betting other areas hurt more, but still. I took two steps out of the clinic and it felt like someone was repeatedly jabbing me with freshly heated needles. Yeah, so the cancer thing is still on the table. I will know late next week. I thought it was becoming a bright pink, signifying scarring. Doc was not as certain, so a cute nurse shot drugs in me, numbed me up, and then he scraped. She bandaged me. I’ll take it. In some circles, it was a date.

Anyway, weekend is filled with board games and drinking, along with two short stints with my niece and nephew, and a little monster hunting. My brother and I took down a few beasts, which was good times. Hope your fourth is rocking, that you’re reading something good, and stuff. Health? Yeah. I’m praying for a lack of biopsies in your life, no matter how cute the nurse or doctor.



Morality of War

Charles spat, sitting on the rock in the middle of the battlefield. The fight was finished, they won or so people said, and Charles was just too tired to tend to the corpses and soon to be corpses. The youths could do that, along with the peasants at the nearby village.

He spat blood, which trickled down from a wound on his lip. There was a cut over his eye, as well, leaking down his temple and cheek, a gift from some forgotten punch at the wrong end of a lobster glove. It was slight consolation that the man was likely dead.

A boy sat by Charles. His name was Ricken, and he was nearly twenty. The boy fought like a demon, though he was naive, unable to keep his head after a mug or two, and most certainly unwitting to a woman’s body. Saving himself for his betrothed he’d say when they went to a new town and the women went to him.

Ricken said, “Sir Charles, do you need assistance? I can help you off the field.”

Charles spat again, “Nah, boy.” He surveyed the bloody field, watching the people work over the goods. “I just like to remain in the moment. Remember the people lost.”

“Our people? Your friends?” The boy sat down on the ground. The blood was going to seep into his britches, but he’d realize that soon enough.

“Nah, boy.” He pointed to a corpse. The man wore red, when Charles’ leather was green. “That man there, you think he has a family back home?”

Ricken shrugged, “He was the enemy. Does it matter? One more bastard who will be poorly trained and thrown in as fodder.”

“Watch your mouth, boy. You could have been that man’s bastard.”

“No. I’m not on their side. I’m not in their country.”

Charles nodded and thought for a few moments. Ricken wasn’t special. Charles was once that way, but then he lost a lot of friends. Something just clicked when he came home to see three boys suddenly without a dad. He pointed to a man in green, “What of him? He left a bastard.”

“He’s a peasant. They rut whatever they can get in. Little better than dogs, but harder to train and less disciplined.”

“For a religious boy, you’re a right prick, Ricken.” The man grinned, then laughed. “I was like you once. Remember, everyone you killed, they’re fighting for the same reason we are.”

“Horse shit.”

Charles laughed harder, “Why are you fighting, boy?”

“For the honor of our kingdom, because they attacked us, and for the good of the faith.”

“So are they. Hell, they’re not even heretics. They read the same damned book we do. They hear the same old men give the same crusty message, something from thousand years back. There is a shifting line in the sand, and when we were conscripted, we happened to be on this side.” He stood, using his flamberge as support. “Toby over there,” he pointed to a man in his early thirties, carrying bodies, “his village is now on the other side. His family needs to swear allegiance to the other bugger on a throne, while he guts and kills on this side. When he goes home, he’ll strip his armor, wear peasant’s clothes, and pretend this never happened.”

“He’s a traitor,” the boy exclaimed. The enthusiasm was giving Charles a headache.

“To whom? His king a thousand miles away sitting on a throne made of fresh wood, with velvet under his ass? He’s a good king, make no mistake, but the man does not know Toby. He knows me because I’ve killed a good many in his service. He is a good and just man, I do like him, but he doesn’t know Toby. Toby doesn’t know him. You know who Toby knows?” The boy, wide eyed, shook his head. “Toby knows his wife and three kids. So is it better to be a traitor to his family or to his king, according to the faith.”

“I…I don’t know,” he stuttered. Something was breaking behind his eyes.

“Book says to hell with kings. Says love and family. I would pick family every time, and I consider the king my friend.” He slapped Ricken on the back. “You should be dragging corpses, though. Get to work.”

Good news is it’s probably not lethal

In January the world’s biggest pimple and his brother adorned my forehead. This was due to a sugar binge. In time, they popped, like Mount St. Helen, leaving craters in my otherwise imperfect forehead. Once upon a time that section was a part of my hairline. Good old days.

They persisted. Tried cream, attempted an antibacterial, tried a stronger antibacterial, went back to cream. I went to the doctor, he prescribed stuff, told me it might be cancerous, but more likely just inflamed. Then he sent me to a dermatologist.

“Chances are it’s eczema. Come back in two weeks and we’ll check again. If it’s cancer, it’s probably a weak cancer, nothing that will kill you. It’s fine.”

I feel sometimes doctors forget that we are not steeped in the waters of medicine. They forget the cancer propaganda, that it all kills. That it all eats you until you are nothing and die. Telling me I might have it, but it’s not a bad type, is not a comfort. I understand that all which will happen is something akin to a skin graph, and the skin can’t be any worse than what’s already there. Maybe I’ll ask for a model donor or something. Most flawless patch of skin I have. But either way, it’s still terrifying. It’s not comforting.

But hey, at least it’s not lethal.

Why Sony Rocked E3

I’m stunned. Truly stunned. “Microsoft won E3,” the masses say.

“Why?” I shout, confused.

“Because of backwards compatibility. Because Sony didn’t announce they can connect to USB or external hard drives. Because No Man’s Sky will end up on Xbox!”

Shocked, stunned, I lost my mind. I whirled into an empty abyss. At this juncture, how many people actually care about backwards compatibility? With all these amazing current gen games out, how many hours do you have to burn? With the capability of current systems, you’re really happy that Microsoft burned time figuring out how to play games from the last gen? I’m happy the PS4 can never become backwards compatible because they moved in a different direction, because they took leaps ahead of where they were.

PS4 can now attach the USB and externals. I know, you just pooped yourself with glee. Get some toilet paper and new shorts. I have to admit, I didn’t even realize this was a thing until two weeks ago. I have a computer and figured out how to hook it up to my TV a long time ago.

This last one was really perplexing. All that’s happened is Microsoft said they’d love to see No Man’s Sky on the Xbox One. I’m sure Sony would love to see the new Tomb Raider on PS4, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Sony has kept a very strong vibe of loving on the indies. Microsoft has had a tendency to burn bridges. Now that No Man’s Sky looks stellar, it’s really easy for them to say, “We love you guys!”

There were also comments that it’s lame Shenmue III needs to be funded by the fans. They asked for $2 million. Think on that. What’s the last expansive RPG you saw made for $2 mil? The second one was $72 million. The strategy is not to have fans pay for the game. It’s to ensure beforehand that there’s enough interest to justify it. It’s also telling us the game is $40, as for a $39 donation, we get the digital version. You mean if I pledge my love for the game, I can get it $20 cheaper than most new releases? Shoot me in the left nut, that’s a great deal.

Why was I excited? Horizon looked unbelievably amazing. It’s also an exclusive. They announced FF7 remake, which is a temporary exclusive. They finally wrangled Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Uncharted 4 will no doubt be mind blowing in how it pushes the system, which is exclusive. Last Guardian, which has been long awaited. Hitman and Street Fighter exclusives.

Also, how flipping epic is it they’re setting up a station where you purchase the TV programs you want to watch. You like Cartoon Network? Add it. You like Showtime, add it. I mean…how cool is that? I’ve been waiting for this a good long while. AMC and HBO are on it? I’m buying them. They are the only two reasons I want cable, and I will not pay $120+ to get them.

Anyway, Microsoft had a good showing. Was impressed with their VR. But I’m still giddy I went with Sony this gen.

Almost Adulting

Paul: I feel like passing out because I botched up my blood sugar by eating twelve Reese’s cups.

Dana: What has you so depressed?

Paul: My ability to purchase chocolate because I’m an adult and my inability to not eat everything in one sitting because I’m a child.

Adulting is hard. The struggle is real. I need to stop purchasing snack foods. Except celery.

The Shackles of Anger

Chained in a dungeon deep under ground, kneeling in filth on a moss covered stone floor, I was restrained by rage. Wrought iron manacles clasped around my throat and wrists. They restrained thighs and ankles. I knelt there, knees raw, neck thick with vulgarity. Even in the black of my cell, my vision was crimson, infused with a fury I could not quench, control, or understand. Perhaps the shackles were the make of someone else, but I donned them, loathing the world every day.

Then one day a bird chirped, waking me from the peace of slumber, the only time internal tantrums did not fill me. I could see the sun, and it was warm on my face. The shackles were shed, scattered across the stones, and I was no longer restrained. I was freed on that morning when I walked out of the open cell. God be good, God be graceful, a cell I shall never return to, nor set eyes upon, again.

Depression is a Strange Mistress

Depression is a strange mistress. You can push her away, distract yourself, but then someone says a turn of phrase. You return home, alone, the lights off and the darkness consuming. You read the right book, or watch the wrong movie. Her arms wrap around you and you’re reminded she hasn’t moved on, she hasn’t left or abandoned you when it feels like everyone else has. You may allow her cold administrations without a fight. You may struggle, beg her to leave until you’re in tears. But she is dominating and she knows you better than anyone, and in time you succumb. Even in the happiest of moments, you succumb. Because Depression is a strange mistress.