It’s Complicated

“I’m stuffed, man.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Rocky swung out of the dumpster and sat down on the curb next to his friend before finishing his cheese paper.

 

“That’s gross.”

 

“What’s gross?”

 

“You are. Eatin’ that crap.”

 

Rocky glared at Lamont. “First of all,  you do not know me to talk to me like that.”

 

Then he swept his arm back to the dumpster while doing a horrible curtsy.

 

“Besides, we are eating out of a dumpster, your highness, everything we are eating is crap.”

 

They both laughed and nodded as they finished up their dinner.

 

Lamont scanned the parking lot. “Where’s your old lady?” he asked.

 

Unfazed, Rocky answered. “She’s over by the taco place. She mixes up ‘whatever’ for the kids and calls it ‘chili’.”

 

Lamont nodded. “We gotta get past this.”

 

A cold wind kicked up some leaves in the parking lot.

 

“Hope so.” whispered Rocky

 

The back door of the restaurant swung open and out came the bar music along with one of the kids from the restaurant. Rocky and Lamont stepped behind the landscaping hedge and watched the restaurant kid wrestle some more garbage from his trash barrel up onto the dumpster pile. They kept low and waited until he was done dancing the barrel back into the restaurant. They listened for the door to slam and the quiet to return before they hit the dumpster again to stuff what they could find into a couple of old “to go” bags. “Take Out Again” bags was Rocky’s label for them.

 

“Where’s your old lady?” Rocky asked.

 

Lamont nibbled on a fry. “Not sure. Maybe her Mom’s.”

 

Rocky stopped digging and stared as he washed some apple slices in an iced tea cup.

 

“It ain’t much” Lamont said. “We just got some issues, you know.”

 

“Holler if you need help, man.”

 

“I will Rock Man, but, look around, we are eating out of a dumpster for real. That ain’t right. Just take care of the babies. We’re good.”

 

“Where you heading tonight?”

 

“I don’t know – that wind is cold though. Maybe I’ll stop by Trixie’s trailer.”

 

“You are slick.”

 

“Naw, I’m just resourceful, baby.”

 

“Stop by my place tomorrow, ok?”

 

“All right. Later. Take care of those twins now, ok?

 

 

Rocky listened to the murder of crows fussing nearby the next morning. The twins were wrestling and somersaulting with each other near the foot of his bed. He felt the chill in the air as he watched the kids. “Winter’s coming” he thought and then shivered thinking how he would provide for Rhonda and the kids with the Witch of November arriving soon.

 

Rhonda stood at the foot of the bed. “That loser is here again.” she whispered.

 

Rocky sat up and rubbed his eyes. “Why are you always harshing on Lamont?”

 

“He’s a loser.”

 

“No he’s not.”

 

“Yes he is. He’s a snake. A weasel. I do not want him around my kids.”

 

“Will you stop? He’s out there playing with them right now.”

 

Horrified, she ran outside and called the twins over to her. The kids protested and begged to play with Uncle Lamont. He picked up one and held hands with the other one as all three walked over to Mom.

 

“Rockin’ Rhonda,” he hissed,  “how you been, Baby?”

 

“Get away from me Lamont. And stay away from my damn kids.”

 

Lamont held his cap in both hands.

 

“Rhonda, words cannot express how much you and the twins mean to me and Lucy.” His eyes glistened, “Especially since we have not been blessed with our own all these years.”

 

“Damn, Rhonda. Leave the guy alone.” Rocky stood in the doorway and rubbed his forehead.

 

“I don’t want him around here, dammit!”

 

Rocky was about to respond when Lamont interrupted. “I got a tip on something.”

 

Rocky motioned for Rhonda to leave and then offered Lamont a seat. “A ‘tip’? What kind of ‘tip’?”

 

Rhonda stayed in the room and crossed her arms while the kids played outside.

 

“The kids want Halloween costumes for tonight.” she murmured.

 

Rocky shot back, “They already got some damn masks.”

 

He nodded for Lamont to continue.

 

“Chickens.”

 

“Chickens?”

 

“Chickens. And Eggs.”

 

“Chickens and eggs?”

 

“Yep. Annnnnd, pie.”

 

“Pie?”

 

“Pumpkin pies.”

 

“Bullshit.”

 

“I’m for real.”

 

“For real?”

 

“Real, Babyyyy!” Lamont laughed.

 

Rhonda tapped her foot. “Where?”

 

Lamont sniffed, “I’ll show you where.”

 

“Rocky, he’s lying.”

 

“Why would he lie?”

 

“I don’t know, he just is. I’m just sayin’.”

 

“You’re just sayin’.”

 

“Look, I just need some help carrying all that stuff. I also need a lookout. I came to you ’cause I know you need it.”

 

Lamont nodded to the kids playing outside.

 

“Fresh chicken.” Rocky said aloud.

 

“I don’t know.” said Rhonda.

 

“Eggs too.”

 

“And pie.”

 

“Beats the dumpsters.”

 

“What if we get caught?” Rhonda was not sure.

 

“No one to catch us. It’s that farm by the bridge. They have the apple festival thing. Are you in or not?”

 

“They have apples?”

 

Lamont nodded back to Rhonda. “Lots of them.”, he said matter-of-factly. “I can’t tell you more until we’re official partners.”

 

“The twins want to ‘trick or treat’ tonight.” Rhonda said to Rocky.

 

“Take them. Then get someone to watch them after they’re done,” interrupted Lamont “we can do this and you’ll be back home before they wake up.”

 

Rocky and Rhonda stared at each other.

“It’s no different than when we hit the dumpsters!”, wailed Lamont. “The people won’t be home tonight and they’re taking the dog with them – tonight’s the night.”

 

“Where’s your old lady?”, Rocky asked.

 

“That’s why I need you guys to do this. Lucy’s at her Mom’s.”

 

“It’s complicated.” he added.

Everyone agreed to meet at the bridge after the twins were done trick-or-treating. Lamont showed up a few minutes after Rocky and Rhonda.

 

Lamont shared his plan:

Rocky and Lamont would wait across the old highway from the henhouse. Rhonda would wait in the wooded area behind the farmhouse for their signal before showing up at the henhouse with the plastic bags for the eggs and chickens. If things were to go awry, the plan was for her to go back to the kids immediately. Rocky and Lamont were to cross the highway and stroll right into the henhouse before picking out the fattest chickens and the freshest eggs. Eggs were to be placed in Rhonda’s plastic bags after a couple of plump, broken-necked hens lined the bottoms. Everyone will then carry as much as they can back across the highway to the bridge where everything would be divided up and enjoyed. No dumpster diving on Halloween!

Rocky sat on the bridge rail and watched two crows pulling stringy innerds from a pathetic little squirrel.

 

“Poor bastard.”

 

Lamont looked over, “Just nature, baby. Everybody’s got to eat.”

 

Rocky kept watching, “Looks like he never had a chance.”

 

“He made his choices Rock Man”, we got to get moving.”

 

The two partners made their way to the edge of the highway.

 

 

Rhonda could see them on the side of the road. “No dogs, so far.” she thought. Everything was still. She shivered in the cold night. “This is crazy.”

 

 

The artist wanted to get home at a decent hour. The show was so-so. The interstate would probably be safer, but the highway is faster. Damn deer are all over the place at night. He figured he’d run the risk anyway. He cranked up the comedians on his satellite radio.

 

 

Rocky saw the van coming and pulled back into the bushes. “No dogs.”, he said to Lamont.

 

Lamont watched the van get closer. “Once this guy goes by, let’s cross.”, he whispered.

 

Rocky heard Lamont say something, “What?’, he turned to Lamont.

 

 

Lucy was near the dog house feeding dumpster scraps to “Killer”, the farm’s dog from a “Take Out Again” bag. She watched the highway and the farm house at the same time. No lights in the farm house. Lights coming down the highway. Another scrap through the chicken wire and she started to push up on the pin holding Killer’s pen door in place. “Any minute now, Killer”, she thought as she watched the lights.

 

 

The artist saw something out of the corner of his right eye, and veered a bit to the left. “What the hell?”, he said out loud.

 

He felt a bump on the right side of the van near the front tire. Nothing serious, but he certainly hit something.

 

“Don’t want to stop out here in the middle of no where.” he thought and glanced at the St. Christopher magnet on his dash.

 

 

Rhonda watched the lights on the road from the woods behind the house. She saw the lights move suddenly, then continue on their way down the road before she heard the dog barking. Something wasn’t right, she was confused.

 

 

Rocky was laying on the highway. No pain. Just a black sky and pure confusion. Lamont’s face filled his field of vision. Was Lamont wearing a Zorro mask? Happy Halloween. He could see Lamont looking his body all up and down. He tried to move and couldn’t. Couldn’t speak. So tired and cold.

 

 

Rhonda stood by the tree holding the “Take Out Again” bags. It was Lucy zig-zagging toward her. The dog was chasing her up the hill. The van went by to her left. She ran instinctively to her right in the dark; Lucy flew past her up the hill. Rhonda felt the dog pull her down to the cold mud as Lucy kept running. Rhonda called out and Lucy never looked back. Lights came on in the farm house. Someone stood on the porch calling for Killer. They could hear him growling and thrashing. He came down the hill later,

 

much later.

 

 

Rocky still could not move. He could see the back of Lamont’s neck in his left side. “He’s eating me!” Rocky thought as he tried to move. Lamont kept eating the soft tissue and organs in Rocky’s abdomen. It was getting harder to breathe.

 

Rocky eventually figured out Lamont pushed him into the van and muttered, “Why?”

 

“Because I’m resourceful”, replied Lamont.

 

He stuck his bloody face near Rocky’s. Rocky again noticed he had a mask on similar to his own.

 

“Happy Halloween”, Lamont chuckled.

 

Rocky kept trying to get one more breath. He saw his Dad waving and offering him an apple by a creek.

 

He waved back.

 

 

Lucy’s Mom’s place was up the hill from the farm house. She sat in front and waited. “It’s not my fault,” she thought “it’s not my fault”. Lucy’s Mom brought out the dishes and sat next to her daughter.

 

 

The road crew was always busy on Halloween. Lime green vests and litter sticks. There were always plenty of beer cans and fast food wrappers. The worst was the occasional urine-filled soda bottle. Once in a great while someone would find a body of some sort. Human bodies were never good. Find one of those along the road and your day is completely lost forever.

 

“Only 3 more days” thought Caillou. “3 more days of this crap and I’m done. The judge better not forget to sign this off this time.” He prodded and poked with his litter stick as he walked along the highway.

 

Caillou preferred to walk with his thoughts rather than other people. He found his thoughts easier to deal with than other people – especially when sobriety and all it’s demands were happening. He came up on a large raccoon carcass with half it’s side eaten away.

 

“God damn! That is nasty.” he thought as he stepped over the rancid heap. “If it were summer instead of damn near winter, that bitch would be stinking to high heaven.”

 

He looked up the road and saw some of the other litterwalkers had stopped to watch a weasel with a black mask running alongside two baby raccoons as they crossed the highway and darted up the hill. Caillou watched and then looked down at the carcass again.

 

“Three more days”, he repeated as he walked along looking for litter. The Witch of November winds were kicking up all morning. He stopped to bundle up better and then looked up the hill.

 

“That’s just not right.” he said as he quickly sipped some homemade from his flask and continued walking down the road – shaking his head slowly.

 

“No damn way that’s right.”

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Free Short Story: “It’s Complicated”

“I’m stuffed, man.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Rocky swung out of the dumpster and sat down on the curb next to his friend before finishing his cheese paper.

“That’s gross.”

“What’s gross?”

“You are. Eatin’ that crap.”

Rocky glared at Lamont. “First of all,  you do not know me to talk to me like that.”

Then he swept his arm back to the dumpster while doing a horrible curtsy.

“Besides, we are eating out of a dumpster, your highness, everything we are eating is crap.”

They both laughed and nodded as they finished up their dinner.

Lamont scanned the parking lot. “Where’s your old lady?” he asked.

Unfazed, Rocky answered. “She’s over by the taco place. She mixes up ‘whatever’ for the kids and calls it ‘chili’.”

Lamont nodded. “We gotta get past this.”

A cold wind kicked up some leaves in the parking lot.

“Hope so.” whispered Rocky

The back door of the restaurant swung open and out came the bar music along with one of the kids from the restaurant. Rocky and Lamont stepped behind the landscaping hedge and watched the restaurant kid wrestle some more garbage from his trash barrel up onto the dumpster pile. They kept low and waited until he was done dancing the barrel back into the restaurant. They listened for the door to slam and the quiet to return before they hit the dumpster again to stuff what they could find into a couple of old “to go” bags. “Take Out Again” bags was Rocky’s label for them.

“Where’s your old lady?” Rocky asked.

Lamont nibbled on a fry. “Not sure.
Maybe her Mom’s.”

Rocky stopped digging and stared as he washed some apple slices in an iced tea cup.

“It ain’t much” Lamont said. “We just got some issues, you know.”

“Holler if you need help, man.”

“I will Rock Man, but, look around, we are eating out of a dumpster for real. That ain’t right. Just take care of the babies. We’re good.”

“Where you heading tonight?”

“I don’t know – that wind is cold though. Maybe I’ll stop by Trixie’s trailer.”

“You are slick.”

“Naw, I’m just resourceful, baby.”

“Stop by my place tomorrow, ok?”

“All right. Later. Take care of those twins now, ok?

Rocky listened to the murder of crows fussing nearby the next morning. The twins were wrestling and somersaulting with each other near the foot of his bed. He felt the chill in the air as he watched the kids. “Winter’s coming” he thought and then shivered thinking how he would provide for Rhonda and the kids with the Witch of November arriving soon.

Rhonda stood at the foot of the bed. “That loser is here again.” she whispered.

Rocky sat up and rubbed his eyes. “Why are you always harshing on Lamont?”

“He’s a loser.”

“No he’s not.”

“Yes he is. He’s a snake. A weasel. I do not want him around my kids.”

“Will you stop? He’s out there playing with them right now.”

Horrified, she ran outside and called the twins over to her. The kids protested and begged to play with Uncle Lamont. He picked up one and held hands with the other one as all three walked over to Mom.

“Rockin’ Rhonda,” he hissed,  “how you been, Baby?”

“Get away from me Lamont. And stay away from my damn kids.”

Lamont held his cap in both hands.

“Rhonda, words cannot express how much you and the twins mean to me and Lucy.” His eyes glistened, “Especially since we have not been blessed with our own all these years.”

“Damn, Rhonda. Leave the guy alone.” Rocky stood in the doorway and rubbed his forehead.

“I don’t want him around here, dammit!”

Rocky was about to respond when Lamont interrupted. “I got a tip on something.”

Rocky motioned for Rhonda to leave and then offered Lamont a seat. “A ‘tip’? What kind of ‘tip’?”

Rhonda stayed in the room and crossed her arms while the kids played outside.

“The kids want Halloween costumes for tonight.” she murmured.

Rocky shot back, “They already got some damn masks.”

He nodded for Lamont to continue.

“Chickens.”

“Chickens?”

“Chickens. And Eggs.”

“Chickens and eggs?”

“Yep. Annnnnd, pie.”

“Pie?”

“Pumpkin pies.”

“Bullshit.”

“I’m for real.”

“For real?”

“Real, Babyyyy!” Lamont laughed.

Rhonda tapped her foot. “Where?”

Lamont sniffed, “I’ll show you where.”

“Rocky, he’s lying.”

“Why would he lie?”

“I don’t know, he just is. I’m just sayin’.”

“You’re just sayin’.”

“Look, I just need some help carrying all that stuff. I also need a lookout. I came to you ’cause I know you need it.”

Lamont nodded to the kids playing outside.

“Fresh chicken.” Rocky said aloud.

“I don’t know.” said Rhonda.

“Eggs too.”

“And pie.”

“Beats the dumpsters.”

“What if we get caught?” Rhonda was not sure.

“No one to catch us. It’s that farm by the bridge. They have the apple festival thing. Are you in or not?”

“They have apples?”

Lamont nodded back to Rhonda. “Lots of them.”, he said matter-of-factly. “I can’t tell you more until we’re official partners.”

“The twins want to ‘trick or treat’ tonight.” Rhonda said to Rocky.

“Take them. Then get someone to watch them after they’re done,” interrupted Lamont “we can do this and you’ll be back home before they wake up.”

Rocky and Rhonda stared at each other.
“It’s no different than when we hit the dumpsters!”, wailed Lamont. “The people won’t be home tonight and they’re taking the dog with them – tonight’s the night.”

“Where’s your old lady?”, Rocky asked.

“That’s why I need you guys to do this. Lucy’s at her Mom’s.”

“It’s complicated.” he added.

Everyone agreed to meet at the bridge after the twins were done trick-or-treating. Lamont showed up a few minutes after Rocky and Rhonda.

Lamont shared his plan: 
Rocky and Lamont would wait across the old highway from the henhouse. Rhonda would wait in the wooded area behind the farmhouse for their signal before showing up at the henhouse with the plastic bags for the eggs and chickens. If things were to go awry, the plan was for her to go back to the kids immediately. Rocky and Lamont were to cross the highway and stroll right into the henhouse before picking out the fattest chickens and the freshest eggs. Eggs were to be placed in Rhonda’s plastic bags after a couple of plump, broken-necked hens lined the bottoms. Everyone will then carry as much as they can back across the highway to the bridge where everything would be divided up and enjoyed. No dumpster diving on Halloween!

Rocky sat on the bridge rail and watched two crows pulling stringy innerds from a pathetic little squirrel.

“Poor bastard.”

Lamont looked over, “Just nature, baby. Everybody’s got to eat.”

Rocky kept watching, “Looks like he never had a chance.”

“He made his choices Rock Man”, we got to get moving.”

The two partners made their way to the edge of the highway.

Rhonda could see them on the side of the road. “No dogs, so far.” she thought. Everything was still. She shivered in the cold night. “This is crazy.”

The artist wanted to get home at a decent hour. The show was so-so. The interstate would probably be safer, but the highway is faster. Damn deer are all over the place at night. He figured he’d run the risk anyway. He cranked up the comedians on his satellite radio.

Rocky saw the van coming and pulled back into the bushes. “No dogs.”, he said to Lamont.

Lamont watched the van get closer. “Once this guy goes by, let’s cross.”, he whispered.

Rocky heard Lamont say something, “What?’, he turned to Lamont.

Lucy was near the dog house feeding dumpster scraps to “Killer”, the farm’s dog from a “Take Out Again” bag. She watched the highway and the farm house at the same time. No lights in the farm house. Lights coming down the highway. Another scrap through the chicken wire and she started to push up on the pin holding Killer’s pen door in place. “Any minute now, Killer”, she thought as she watched the lights.

The artist saw something out of the corner of his right eye, and veered a bit to the left. “What the hell?”, he said out loud.

He felt a bump on the right side of the van near the front tire. Nothing serious, but he certainly hit something.

“Don’t want to stop out here in the middle of no where.” he thought and glanced at the St. Christopher magnet on his dash.

Rhonda watched the lights on the road from the woods behind the house. She saw the lights move suddenly, then continue on their way down the road before she heard the dog barking. Something wasn’t right, she was confused.

Rocky was laying on the highway. No pain. Just a black sky and pure confusion. Lamont’s face filled his field of vision. Was Lamont wearing a Zorro mask? Happy Halloween. He could see Lamont looking his body all up and down. He tried to move and couldn’t. Couldn’t speak. So tired and cold.

Rhonda stood by the tree holding the “Take Out Again” bags. It was Lucy zig-zagging toward her. The dog was chasing her up the hill. The van went by to her left. She ran instinctively to her right in the dark; Lucy flew past her up the hill. Rhonda felt the dog pull her down to the cold mud as Lucy kept running. Rhonda called out and Lucy never looked back. Lights came on in the farm house. Someone stood on the porch calling for Killer. They could hear him growling and thrashing. He came down the hill later,

much later.

Rocky still could not move. He could see the back of Lamont’s neck in his left side. “He’s eating me!” Rocky thought as he tried to move. Lamont kept eating the soft tissue and organs in Rocky’s abdomen. It was getting harder to breathe.

Rocky eventually figured out Lamont pushed him into the van and muttered, “Why?”

“Because I’m resourceful”, replied Lamont.

He stuck his bloody face near Rocky’s. Rocky again noticed he had a mask on similar to his own.

“Happy Halloween”, Lamont chuckled.

Rocky kept trying to get one more breath. He saw his Dad waving and offering him an apple by a creek.

He waved back.

Lucy’s Mom’s place was up the hill from the farm house. She sat in front and waited. “It’s not my fault,” she thought “it’s not my fault”. Lucy’s Mom brought out the dishes and sat next to her daughter.

The road crew was always busy on Halloween. Lime green vests and litter sticks. There were always plenty of beer cans and fast food wrappers. The worst was the occasional urine-filled soda bottle. Once in a great while someone would find a body of some sort. Human bodies were never good. Find one of those along the road and your day is completely lost forever.

“Only 3 more days” thought Caillou. “3 more days of this crap and I’m done. The judge better not forget to sign this off this time.” He prodded and poked with his litter stick as he walked along the highway.

Caillou preferred to walk with his thoughts rather than other people. He found his thoughts easier to deal with than other people – especially when sobriety and all it’s demands were happening. He came up on a large raccoon carcass with half it’s side eaten away.

“God damn! That is nasty.” he thought as he stepped over the rancid heap. “If it were summer instead of damn near winter, that bitch would be stinking to high heaven.”

He looked up the road and saw some of the other litterwalkers had stopped to watch a weasel with a black mask running alongside two baby raccoons as they crossed the highway and darted up the hill. Caillou watched and then looked down at the carcass again.

“Three more days”, he repeated as he walked along looking for litter. The Witch of November winds were kicking up all morning. He stopped to bundle up better and then looked up the hill.

“That’s just not right.” he said as he quickly sipped some homemade from his flask and continued walking down the road – shaking his head slowly.

“No damn way that’s right.”
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I Got This

I am still a smoker even though I have not touched one of those delicious little wraps of tobacco goodness in 15 years. I am a drag away from a pack a day and I always will be.

I am not saying I just enjoyed smoking, I am saying it was part of me. I could do the “French inhale” when I was 14. I could twirl a lit cigarette around all my fingers without spilling one flake of ash. I used to work on my bikes and cars with one smoke-filled eye closed and a three-inch ash hanging off the filter while talking to someone in mid-drag all without missing a beat or looking too stupid. 

Yes, at 24 I stained my teeth yellow, my lungs were perhaps a dusty marble gray and kissing me had to be slightly better than kissing an ashtray (with a beard) – but who cared? I could sit with my smoker buddies at a dive bar in Lincoln, Nebraska and flip a cigarette end-over-end from my sternum to my nose before catching it in my lips and lighting up with a wink. It didn’t always work for me like it did for Dean Martin. In fact, when it didn’t work, I looked like a complete idiot. But when it did work . . . it really, really, really did. Just about every other roundheeled sweetheart across the bar would thunder over to see if I would “do that thing you just did again”.

Smoking was a great prop for guys like me who wanted to remind people that we were in fact bad guys. My friends were the same. One of my best friends used to hold a cigarette in his teeth while laughing his ass off in between the shots of tequila and the kamikazes we loved oh so well. It was all part of the package. We knew smoking was bad, but we did it anyway because it’s who we were then and now.

I quit when my kids were small and never went back. But I am still a smoker.

Why did I quit?
 
It was time.

Simple as that. I had a family to raise and a business to run. I certainly did not need any props to let people know who or what I am, so I caved to Big Brother and quit.

But, here’s the secret . . . I will be 55 next year and if I make it 30 years past that birthday – I will be smoking again. I’ll be smoking so much, Keith Richards will be commenting on how much I smoke. (Yes, he’ll still be alive in 30 years.) If I don’t make it to 85, who cares? I have often said I was flabbergasted to make it past 25. All I have to do is make it 30 more years.

I got this.

Just like being a smoker, I am a writer and a painter among other jobs and labels we all have in our lives. I think it has something to do with a genetic code. Just like anti-parallel strands of DNA, my career as an artist also twists and turns all while insisting on having a sense of purpose and direction.

I have not been posting much writing this past year and I want to bring all of you: old friends, new friends, collectors, followers, enemies, lurkers, forehead-slappers, family members, haters, and any permutation thereof – up to date with what I have been doing and plan to do. If you are a collector or a fan, this will be great news. If you are an enemy, you won’t like this turn of events whatsoever.

An artist I admire said to me in a bar in Louisville, KY one night: 

“Has it ever occurred to you that you may be a better writer than an artist?”

Well, frankly, no it had not and still does not – but I do write a lot.

That same weekend, two artists I admire even more (a husband/wife team worthy of much more attention than they receive in the art world) loudly encouraged me to keep on keeping on over the loud music, Mexican food, and multiple shots of Pappy Van Winkle we were relishing.

I used to post a lot of writing under both my name and my pen name on various and sundry art-related websites much to the ultimate chagrin of an old Crone in North Carolina, an even older crone in Oregon, a lizard in Texas, and a manipulative Texan in Iowa. I also have the honor of getting banned from 3 arts organizations because some little “toes-ies” not only got stepped on – but were sledgehammered and deservedly. Over the past year or so, I have pulled back on posting my ideas and perspectives. Many of you have asked in person as well as in writing what has been happening and why.

First of all, I actually have been writing. A lot. Much of it is tangled up in submissions, edits, and re-writes. It will take about another year or so for things to shake out and make sense. In the meantime, I will post a short story for you, (yes, even for you) on Halloween. It will be posted on my website, my old essay site, and on Medium. It’s a present for all of you. Look for it on the 31st. You will also get the annual Christmas essay this year. Hopefully I will be able to think of something in time.

Where is this going?

I just received my acceptance for a little art show that takes place in the Union on the University of Iowa campus. I have been participating there for about 15 years and will probably continue for as long as they will stoop so low as to have me. It’s a quirky little show run by some students from their Fine Arts Council. Most years are so-so, and some years are incredible in terms of sales. It’s always just a nice weekend to sell some paintings and go out for drinks in a college town at Christmas time. I’ll be there this December, and I hope you will be there as well.

image

That being said, shows are going to be cut back in 2016 and I will be much more selective than in the past. Too many shows have become festivals with “something for everyone” gimmicks and consequently have devolved into craft fairs. I do not know if it’s because of the economy, politics, or technology. I don’t think it matters. I do understand the push the market is making in order to send me to other venues and I embrace it. My career as an artist is on the cusp of elevating and improving more than I imagined back when I graduated and started selling at street fairs.

I am going to spend even more time writing. I am scrambling to get a book out in time for all of you to buy for yourselves and everyone you love, have loved, and will love for Christmas this year. I am hoping against all odds that I will be selling signed copies in my booth at the Thieves’ Market in December.

More writing means less painting. Less painting means better painting. Better painting, in theory, means more value. More value means more sales of more significant work. My goal as an artist is to sell better work to you, my patrons – rather than putting out trinkets and decorative “smalls” just to make a booth fee at a street show.

I will continue to paint, but I will no longer do smaller works. Ideally, my minimums will be 18×24’s, maybe 16×20’s. My plan is to do fewer, but better, more significant paintings as I transition to more writing and illustrating. I will no longer do custom paintings any smaller than 30×30 and even that will be a rare occurrence. This will all begin November 2015.

Many people – too many people, have expressed disappointment and even resentment because I have held back on making prints of my work available. I am now offering prints of my previously sold paintings in select sizes via my site on fineartamerica.com (http://www.fineartamerica.com/art/all/john+stillmunks/all). I am even offering shirts with paintings printed on them until Christmas on the site as a peace offering to those of you who were a bit upset with me.

I am not stopping as an artist by any means. I will continue painting better and more significant work for my patrons as opposed to painting whatever I can in order to fill the booth for the next show. I am also stepping up and writing more for those who enjoy what I do and for those who do not yet know how much they will love what I do. It is going to take about 12-18 months to make this transition go the way I want it. It's going to be a blast and I want you all on to enjoy it with me.

In order to facilitate this metamorphosis, I am throwing in another component. I will return to nursing school in December of 2015. For those of you that do not know, I dropped out of nursing school to go to art school many years ago. The reasons I am going back to school are personal, but I want to stress that working as a nurse is not replacing my work as an artist by any means. It is in fact complementing my plans for future paintings and writing in the short term as well as over the next 30 years – before I start smoking again, that is.

Being an artist, writer, and nurse is as much of my being as it is to be a smoker, or a parent, spouse, uncle, etc. My plan is to be the best there is at not one, but all of these things. An old friend of many years recently said the world is my oyster  – and it turns out that is probably true. When I was 18, I had no idea things would have turned out so well at 55 personally and professionally – so far. I would never have believed that I would ever be in a position to even be an artist, not to mention being able to make the decision to evolve and improve as an artist rather than embrace mediocrity and half-assity. (Yeah, that's a word.)

I only have somewhere between one day and about 30 years to contribute all I can to the art world, I hope you will agree that it is time to step things up. I trust as a supporters of my work, all of you will enjoy the ride along with me. If you are a non-supporter or sworn enemy of what I do – I look forward to dragging and kicking you along the same path.

It's time.

I got this.

-Munks
October 2015

Select Paintings on T-Shirts until Christmas.

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Yep, I’ve never done this before, and I am only doing it for Christmas. 

Lots of people mention to me at the shows how they admired a painting and/or regretted their decision to buy something else from someone else.

I am posting opportunities on Fine Art America  (.com) to buy prints of sold paintings here:  http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/john-stillmunks.html?tab=artwork

. . . and t-shirts featuring my paintings for you to adorn your beautiful selves are here until Christmas:

http://pixels.com/art/all/john+stillmunks/tshirts

I am not going to get rich off these shirts by any means whatsoever,  but you will have throngs of people admiring your chest every time you put one on to show the world your good taste.

More paintings will be added over the next few weeks. Have fun choosing yours!

http://pixels.com/art/all/john+stillmunks/tshirts

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http://fineartamerica.com/art/all/john+stillmunks/all

I’ve spent this afternoon watching my mighty Broncos while setting up the new marketplace for people to view and buy paintings as well as prints from Fine Art America.

Please take a look:  http://fineartamerica.com/art/all/john+stillmunks/all

More will be added all week. This is a great way to obtain work that you haven’t seen or maybe missed before.

http://fineartamerica.com/art/all/john+stillmunks/all

Ostrich Eggs

Painted ostrich eggs (among other new works) will be at the Rockbrook Art Fair in Omaha, NE this weekend.

Booth 17C – near the food court.

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#art, #ArtLovers, #artist, #buyart, #paintings, #painting, #artforsale, #Stillmunks, #Munks, #fineart, #artfairs