August Full Moon Story: Denny Goes to Heaven

Here’s a new story for this month’s full moon. This is a long one, clocking in at over 12,000 words. I hope you like it!

Denny Goes to Heaven

This is another Denny story (see last month’s Denny Hitches a Ride), which takes place in my Abdera, Florida universe, but this one has more depth to it, and reveals a little more about swamp ape culture. Denny is a swamp ape, one of the clan of cryptid apes that include yeti, sasquatch, big foots, etc. Denny is also a ‘shaver’ a derogatory term used by the apes for someone who passes in human society by keeping themselves more-or-less groomed to be acceptable to humans.

I love stories where the characters end up in Hell, but it seems like stories where characters end up in Heaven are under-represented. I think this is because Heaven sounds boring. What do angels do in paradise all day? This story takes a look at the idea of paradise, and finds that maybe it’s not as awesome as it sounds.

Denny Goes to Heaven

“Angels are dicks.” Denny nursed a beer at the El Diablo Bar and Grill in the heart of a hot and humid Wednesday afternoon.

“Give ‘em a break, Denny. They’re dead.” Tomas sat at the end of the bar smoking a cigarette and doing something with his smart phone. The bar was dimly lit and quiet. Denny was the only customer and Tomas the only staff. The front door stood open to let in the bright Florida sunlight, and catch whatever breeze might accidentally slip inside. “You’d probably be partying all the time too if you were dead and became an angel.”

“First of all, I’ll probably never become an angel, second, I don’t like to party, and third, why the fuck did they have to move into my trailer park?” Denny had already been through this with Boris, Tomas’s father who had opened the bar for lunch, but had yet to exhaust his complaints with Tomas. Boris left after the brief lunch rush to run errands, leaving Tomas behind to pour Denny’s beer and listen to his tales of woe.

“Being an angel is better than being the other thing. Besides, you party all the time, Denny. And why wouldn’t angels move here? It’s beautiful here.” Tomas had known Denny since he was a child. He grew up in this bar. For as long as he could remember Denny had been a regular. He was almost like an uncle. An abnormally large, shaggy uncle.

“Drinking beer and smoking pot is not the same thing as partying, Tomas. These guys are doing fucking karaoke all fucking night.” Denny finished his beer and contemplated ordering another.

“Yeah, but they sing like angels.”

Denny had to give him that. Apparently becoming an angel made you the best possible version of yourself. Whether or not you could sing in life, you could sing as an angel. You were also transformed into the most beautiful version of you possible. The big mystery was why they were back on Earth. Not even the angels knew. They were plenty unhappy about it, so they said, but it was hard to tell from their non-stop carousing and fornicating. They were used to Heavenly indulgences and most weren’t interested in giving them up just because they were back on Earth.

Denny decided against another beer. He’d been drinking out too much lately to avoid the angels and money was getting tight. He paid Tomas and shambled his way to his shitty Toyota truck. He was too large to fit inside his truck with the seats in place, so he’d removed the truck seats and replaced them with a simple bench. Even with the seat removed he could barely squeeze himself inside.

Denny stood six foot six, slouched. Average height for a swamp ape. Denny was a shaver, a derogatory term used by swamp apes, yetis, bigfoot and their ilk for those who kept their hair trimmed so they could pass among the humans. When harassed by his cousins Denny would hold up a closed fist and intone solemnly while slowly opening his fingers to reveal an empty palm. “Here in my hand is how many fucks I give.”


Full Moon Story for July: Denny Hitches a Ride

In autumn 2014 I was fishing around for a story to write for that year’s NaNoWriMo. I knew I wanted to write a story with mythological creatures in a contemporary setting, but I didn’t want to write about vampires or werewolves.

When it was the swamp ape’s time to be considered I had a vision of the character and a name. Denny. Big hairy guy with a gap-toothed smile. In that moment I realized all giant ape cryptids were part of the same species. And, with some judicious shaving and hair-cutting, some of the great apes passed in human society.

I wrote a short novel about Denny in 2014, and from that sprang the world of Abdera, Florida. I wanted my own cities with magical histories mingled in with Florida’s mundane cities.

In 2015, when I was writing a lot of short stories I returned to Abdera and to Denny. One Denny story, “Denny Hitches a Ride,” is the one posted this full moon, and I think I might post “Denny Goes to Heaven” next month. I’ll have to pull it out and take a look at it.

An Unhaunted House,” posted earlier this year, takes place in the same world, though in a different fictional Florida city.

Here is “Denny Hitches a Ride.” Hope you enjoy it!

The drive west was hot. Denny sat in the back of a battered pale green ‘67 Chevy truck. The wind blew through his long hair, which was good, but there wasn’t a cloud in the August sky and it was brutal under the burning Florida sun, sitting uncomfortably on top of the scalding metal of the truck. The bed of the truck still reeked of the bales of marijuana it had been hauling, which wasn’t so bad. It had been used most recently to transport the bales from a small marina outside Miami to Daytona Beach where Denny had been spending the weekend with his cousin Stink.

Denny was hitchhiking back home to Abdera on the gulf side of Florida, and Reedy said he’d give him a ride as far as Kissimmee. Reedy pretended Denny didn’t sit up front because of his size, but they both knew Reedy wouldn’t allow a black man or an Indian to share the same cab. Reedy wasn’t exactly sure what Denny was, but he sure as hell wasn’t white.

Reedy pulled over when they got just south of Kissimmee on the Old Tampa Highway. Reedy leaned out the window and told Denny not to take any wooden nickels, laughed at his joke, and drove away. Denny said nothing. After a few moments he flipped off the dwindling back of the truck. He turned around to face traffic and stuck out his thumb.

He started walking backwards. Like most of his clan Denny was a gifted walker. If he had to he’d walk the rest of the way home. He sincerely hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

He’d trudged backwards for nearly ten miles when the cherry-red Cadillac convertible with a creamy white interior pulled over. Denny smiled. It was perfect timing. A bank of black clouds were moving in from the southwest. Before long a thunderstorm would be washing over the highway tarmac.

Inside the caddy was a young woman wearing a tie-dyed scarf holding her hair in place.

“Hey, big fella. Want a ride?”

Denny considered leaping over the door, but instead opened the passenger-side door and eased his six foot six inch two hundred and eighty pound frame onto the white leather seats.

“Thanks. This is one sweet ride,” said Denny admiringly.

“What’s your name?”


“Hi, Denny. My name’s Cherry. Where ya headed?”


“Hey! Me too.” She pulled out onto the highway. Denny noticed she did not use the mirror or look behind her. He was pretty sure he heard the squeal of brakes, but refused to look back. “Except I got to stop over at my brother’s house first. Wanna come with? Then I can take you all the way to Abdera.”

“Sure. It beats walking.”

Read the rest here.

Full Moon Fail

June’s full moon came and went with no story.

For some reason my brain decided to take a month off. Weirdly, this did not lead to depression or despair. It’s been a great month, but for whatever random, inexplicable reason I haven’t felt any compulsion to write or post. And, I didn’t feel guilty or anxious about not writing. This is unusual.

I’m going to accept that for what it was, whatever it was, and skip this month’s Full Moon Story.

I got some writing and research done today, so perhaps the drought has passed.

Third of the Way

The goal is 90,000 to 100,000 words and today I passed the 30,000 mark. Yay!

I’m behind where I wanted to be at this time, but I’m happy to see that I am persisting.

At this point, however, it’s clear that abundant re-writing and editing will be necessary. So, what I’m doing now is really creating material to re-write. It’s a bunch of clay to shape.

Full Moon Story: The Night Parade

It’s another full moon and time for a new story. This month it’s “The Night Parade.”

You’ve never seen anything like the night parade, and you probably never want to.

The Night Parade

Lily knelt and listened intently. She’d never seen anyone around the building and felt confident it was abandoned, but she’d learned the hard way you can’t be too careful living on the streets.

The police had been hanging around her usual sleeping place under the bridge. She didn’t stick around long enough to find out why. She scoped out this abandoned building weeks ago for just such an emergency. She couldn’t tell exactly what it might have been in the past. Some sort of business, maybe a neighborhood bar or small restaurant. The fact that it wasn’t raining, it was a full moon, that she’d located this place previously, and that she’d seen the cops before they’d seen her was all good fortune. She’d had worse nights. Much worse.

Read the rest here.

Writing Update

The transition has worked. I’ve reduced my internet browsing time and increased my time spent writing. I’ve been adding words regularly to the novel-in-progress, and written a few flash pieces based on random prompts.

I expect the next couple of weeks, at least, to be productive.

This Wednesday is the next full moon story. The story is written and needs to be edited over today and tomorrow and will be ready to go.

Fresh Remember’d: Kirk Drift by Erin Horakova is hands down one of the best things I’ve read in a long time. It’s a little long, but a close reading (and re-reading) pays off. While it’s an essay about how we mis-remember Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise (played by William Shatner in the original series), it’s also about cultural memory and how our current reality distorts our memory of the past. Kirk is not really the womanizer, eager to bed every sexy alien, that we remember. So, why do we mis-remember him? Why can we not see what is plainly in front of us?

“With the exception of Lester, all Kirk’s relationships that we’re aware of seem to have ended amicably. He and the women involved have often kept up communication to some extent, despite the impediments caused by interstellar travel (Wallace, Marcus). The relationships all seem to have been of some duration, and characterised by fairly serious involvement on both parts. They were distinctly emotional affairs, and no one accuses Kirk of having “womanised” during them. They all involved competent people drawn to demanding, intellectually stimulating fields—usually science—and the service of something greater than themselves—almost universally Starfleet.”


I also read this Alan Moore interview last week, which addresses issues of progress and place, and the influence of place on creativity.

“a common misapprehension regarding writers is that they have an idea and then they write it down, whereas this is not my experience when it comes to writing. Ideas are usually generated by the act of writing itself.”


And, thanks to Maria Haskins, I have these “18 superb speculative fiction short stories” stories queued up to read this month.

Our Current Situation: Transition Time

I think I have the hyperventilation under control. My panic has subsided. The future still looks grim and uncertain, but I have a better grasp on Our Current Situation. At least, how things came to be this way. I’m still all out of solutions.

However, re-posting links has become tedious instead of educational, so I’m stopping.

For the next four months I’m turning my attention to writing. Here are the goals for this blog for this summer —

-A new story posted every full moon;

-A record of all the books I’m reading in 2017;

-Tracking the word count on the novel-in-progress (see Writing Project Progress in the right-hand column);

-Linking to author interviews, short stories, reviews, and stuff about the craft of writing;

-Regularly posting short-short stories, flash fiction, prose poetry, and other odds and ends I compose as exercises;

-Updates on my New Year’s Resolution of staying in tune with the moon;

-Posting whatever the hell else catches my attention or motivates me to write something.

Above all, this has to be a fun space for me or it’s not really worth the time. In a recent interview Stephen Graham Jones answers a question about how he manages to be so prolific.

“For me, if the novel’s real, then it’s always fast. If it’s slow, then that means I’m having to force it, that it’s not happening on its own, and, man, writing, it shouldn’t be work, should it? It’s playing with dragons. It’s not mowing the lawn. It’s hiding from the world. Let’s keep it fun, I say. Let’s make it an escape. I’ll build my fort, you build yours, and tomorrow we can trade.”

So. For the next few months I’m building forts, playing with words, and having fun.

Moonlight landscape with Hadleigh Church by John Constable after Rubens 1796
Oil on Canvas
(Private Collection)

Our Current Situation: Trump and the Moon

MOON MINING: I wouldn’t mind seeing a greater human presence on the moon. If I ran the zoo we’d be building an observatory on the far side of the moon right now. Or, we might be dropping remote-controlled robots that people on Earth could manipulate through the web. Could it be that our current administration might encourage NASA to initiate a moon mission sooner rather than later?

Motherboard reports that “the transition team asked for an update on NASA’s efforts to survey the Moon for valuable minerals and gases using resource-prospector drones.” NASA is amenable to the idea and responded with several projects it has in the works to accomplish more moon research.

“NASA envisions a future in which low Earth orbit is largely the domain of commercial activity while NASA leads its international and commercial partners in the human exploration of deep space,” the agency wrote in its response to the Trump teams’ inquiry.

Maybe the jobless coal miners can get jobs mining asteroids. The future!


MOON ORBITING: NASA also recently reported that it is interested in building a “crew tended spaceport in lunar orbit,” aka a Deep Space Gateway.

“This deep space gateway would have a power bus, a small habitat to extend crew time, docking capability, an airlock, and serviced by logistics modules to enable research. The propulsion system on the gateway mainly uses high power electric propulsion for station keeping and the ability to transfer among a family of orbits in the lunar vicinity.”

Kind of like the ISS, but orbiting the moon and allowing crew to prep before a lunar landing, or before venturing deeper into space to the asteroids or to Mars.


MOON TOURISM: SpaceX claims it will fly two tourists around the moon in 2018.

“We are excited to announce that SpaceX has been approached to fly two private citizens on a trip around the Moon late next year. They have already paid a significant deposit to do a Moon mission.”


MOON HATING: Sam Kriss writes in The Atlantic “Why the Patriarchy Hates the Moon.” He uses the Cold War plans by the US and the USSR (independently) to nuke the moon as a launching pad to explore the moon as “as an object of fear, hate, and distrust.”

“In the early modern witch-hunts, an emerging capitalism’s great war against its women, the nexus of the witch’s unbearable powers was held to lie somewhere in the web of connections between the body, the menstrual cycle, and the moon above us. The Malleus Maleficarum, the great and hideous Catholic treatise against witchcraft, insists that demonic powers are “deeply affected by certain phases of the Moon.” And in most of Mediterranean traditions that congealed into the ideologies of the west, lunar deities tend to be female.”


MOON DESTROYING: Bob and David have the technology to blow up the moon.


EDITORIAL: When I was young we went to the moon. As a child I assumed this was the new normal. I imagined I would come of age in a world that progressively gained greater purchase in the void. To some degree that has happened. The International Space Station is so common-place it’s rarely newsworthy.

As I’ve grown I’ve lost much of my youthful idealism about NASA. I was taught that it was a benign entity, separate from the war machine, but of course, that’s not the case. I also have a deeper appreciation now of human misery and am more sympathetic to the arguments that spending money on healthcare maybe should be a higher priority than sending spaceships into the Oort cloud. I continue to argue for the value of pure research, but I understand the situation is more complicated than I once believed.

I have mixed feelings about a Trump administration success in near space. I’d love for moon trips to be a regular thing in years to come! That would be a signal that my childhood fantasies can come true. But, knowing how such a thing came to pass might forever ruin the taste of that victory. On the other hand, we’d have people living on the fucking moon!

Sunday Spectacle: Out of Obscurity

OBSCURE FLORIDA: Atlas Obscura has quite a Florida presence. They have the two-headed gator that’s in front of (one of) my favorite drinking establishments.

They have recent (and not so recent) posts about Jack Kerouac’s St. Petersburg house being for sale (to the right buyer), St. Augustine’s Treasury Street (built to foil thieves), our local Hindu temple (weirdly out-of-place in suburban neighborhood), the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters, and lots of other Florida weirdness.

NOTE: The sculpture of the two-headed alligator was installed by Urban Art Attack.


FEARLESS BACKSTORY: Fearless Girl is a provocative symbol of women taking public space AND a cheesy PR campaign. Charging Bull is a symbol of Wall Street AND guerrilla art. Greg Fallis adds some history and context to the Fearless Girl/Charging Bull debate sparked by the bull’s creator, Arturo Di Modica.

“In effect, Fearless Girl has appropriated the strength and power of Charging Bull. Of course Di Modica is outraged by that. A global investment firm has used a global advertising firm to create a faux work of guerrilla art to subvert and change the meaning of his actual work of guerrilla art. That would piss off any artist.”


BIG EEL: I had no idea there was such a thing as illegal eel distribution. Apparently there are nefarious eel distribution rings at work in our nation. Fortunately, the Justice Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are on top of it.

“This plea was the result of “Operation Broken Glass,” a multi-jurisdiction U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) investigation into the illegal trafficking of American eels. To date, the investigation has resulted in guilty pleas for eleven individuals whose combined conduct resulted in the illegal trafficking of more than $2.75 million worth of elvers [juvenile eels].”


FREE WATER: Huh. A apparatus that pulls water right out of the air. And already a functioning prototype.

“…a water harvester that uses only ambient sunlight to pull liters of water out of the air each day in conditions as low as 20 percent humidity…”


WORK: I recently re-listened to ‘Broken English’. Don’t know why it’s been so long since I listened to it last. Here’s Marianne Faithfull covering ‘Working Class Hero’ by John Lennon.

Working Class Hero
John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band

As soon as you’re born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool
Till you’re so fucking crazy you can’t follow their rules
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty-odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you’re so clever and classless and free
But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There’s room at the top they’re telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me

Our Current Situation: Resist

SE HABLA ESPAÑOL: Guess who is moving south of the border? American business!

“After Donald Trump’s election, the flow of manufacturers setting up shop south of the border dwindled to a trickle. Ford Motor Co. and Carrier Corp., caught in Trump’s Twitter crosshairs, scrapped plans to move jobs to Mexico in two very public examples of the slowdown.

“But now the pace is picking back up.”


RESISTANCE SCHOOL: The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on Resistance School and gives a shout-out to Tampa.

“Some faculty members also tuned in. Among them was Aaron D. Walker, an assistant professor of communication at Florida’s University of Tampa.

“Since the inauguration, Mr. Walker said he’d seen activism swell in the Tampa area, particularly among people who weren’t previously activists and therefore didn’t have a good grasp of best practices.”

If nothing else, the readings are worth reading or re-reading or re-re-reading.

Readings for Session One

Readings for Session Two

Session three and four readings have yet to be posted.

“[T]he school’s purpose is not just fighting Mr. Trump’s agenda, Ms. Seervai said. “Resistance School is about much more than one man,” she said. ‘What we’re doing is equipping people to think about their progressive values and take actions to defend them.'”

Check out the Resistance School.


GOOD JOB, TAMPA BAY TIMES!: Our local paper did some good reporting on the disparity between black people being shot by police and white people being shot by police. Spoiler Alert! Black people are shot a lot more often.

Why Cops Shoot

Unarmed. Not wearing a seatbelt. Running away. Police are more likely to shoot If you’re black (though, I am not a fan of the weird animation for moving through this story.)

CJR reports on the story.

“The Times’ graphic argument leads readers to back a custom database of the 827 police shootings that took place in the state between 2009 and 2014. Each shooting is summarized, mapped, and linked to shootings with which it shares characteristics—whether a victim was armed, or complied with officers, or fled.”

MORE LOCAL PAPER GOODNESS!: Congratulations to Laura Reiley, food critic at the Tampa Bay Times for her Pulitzer nomination! Her biggest hit last year was a story about the deceptions surround local food sourcing. From Farm to Fable.

The 2017 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Criticism: Laura Reiley of Tampa Bay Times

For lively restaurant reviews, including a series that took on the false claims of the farm-to-table movement and prompted statewide investigations.


THE TRASH OF WAR: For reasons that in retrospect seem completely random I wondered earlier this week about what happens to the trash generated by the US military. Turns out there was an interesting story on this topic in the New Republic last November.

The Things They Burned

“Everything—all the trash of the war—was thrown in a burn pit, soaked with jet fuel, and torched. There were hundreds of open-air garbage dumps, spread out across Afghanistan and Iraq, right next to encampments where American soldiers lived and worked, ate and slept. The pits burned day and night, many of them around the clock, seven days a week. There were backyard-size pits lit by patrols of a few dozen men, and massive, industrial-size pits designed to incinerate the endless stream of waste produced by U.S. military bases. Camp Speicher, in Iraq, produced so much trash that it had to operate seven burn pits simultaneously. At the height of the surge, according to the Military Times, Joint Base Balad was churning out three times more garbage than Juneau, Alaska, which had a comparable population. Balad’s pit, situated in the northwest corner of the base, spanned ten acres and burned more than 200 tons of trash a day.”

And then, because we love our troops so much, we let them breathe in these noxious, toxic, cancerous fumes, let the ash cover them and everything they owned and the places they lived, and then rejected their claim for treatment. We. Are. The. Best!

“On its public health web page, the VA has posted a terse, official statement about burn pits. “At this time,” it reads, “research does not show evidence of long-term health problems from exposure to burn pits.”

“This statement is untrue, in the way that official statements are often untrue: not because it contains an outright lie, but because it twists the meaning of everyday words like research and evidence.As the VA knows, there has, in fact, been significant research into burn pits by reputable scientists at established academic institutions, who have published their findings in major, peer-reviewed publications. And that research strongly suggests that long-term health problems among veterans may well have been caused by exposure to burn pits.”

Apparently, this was a big scandal in 2010, but I wasn’t paying attention. (And, poking around the Internet and various news sites, it’s been reported on continuously for more than a decade.)

The use of burn pits was limited in 2009, but the practice continues.


THE THINGS THEY POKED: Fortunately, the VA and DOD have found a solution. Stick pins in soldiers. Take that, cancer!

“But use of the technique [battlefield acupuncture], once practiced by fewer than a 100 military doctors across the services, is rapidly expanding through a vigorous training program supported by DOD and the VA.” – source

“Dr. Seuss monsters”: The quackery that is “battlefield acupuncture” continues to metastasize


MOONSHOT: Since my New Year’s Resolution was to get in tune with the moon I think I’ll do a special edition of Our Current Situation next week about Trump and the Moon.


The 2017 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Editorial Cartooning: Jen Sorensen, freelance cartoonist