These dreams are killing me, figuratively

After escaping the sinking ship, those that read yesterday’s post will know what I’m talking about,  I started thinking about the helicopter episode.

I think it had to do with the aches and pains I acquired spending an hour out in the garden trying to defeat the weeds and failing.

How did I get in that helicopter?

It’s like watching an episode of some series or other where you see the main character trapped in an exploding car, and right after the starting credits, it says ‘two days earlier’.

So, two days earlier,

 

Someone once told me it was not a good idea to ask your commander out to dinner.  Not a date, just the fact you’d like to get to know her better.

Yes, my commanding officer was a woman.

I thought the dinner went well, we found some common ground, ice hockey, and baseball, albeit barracking for different teams.  

Then, the next day when I went into ‘the office’, the operations officer called me aside.

“Who’d did you piss off?”

Good question, had I, and who?

And asked, “Who?”

“The Commanding Officer.  She asked me to put you on patrol, nothing ever happens, and it’s as boring as shit.”

Usually, I was in the front line, what they called in the army, cannon fodder.  Some said I had a death wish.

I shrugged.  “No doubt she has her reasons.  I could think of worse assignments.”

“Well, till then you’re on standby.  Make the most of it.”

 

This will no doubt change when I think about it some more.

Stay tuned.

 

© Charles Heath 2018

“The Devil You Don’t”, a surprise, a shock, a near death experience

http://amzn.to/2o7ZtxZ

John Pennington’s life is in the doldrums.  Looking for new opportunities, prevaricating about getting married, the only joy on the horizon was an upcoming visit to his grandmother in Sorrento, Italy.

Suddenly he is left at the check-in counter with a message on his phone telling him the marriage is off, and the relationship is over.

If only he hadn’t promised a friend he would do a favor for him in Rome.

At the first stop, Geneva, he has a chance encounter with Zoe, an intriguing woman who captures his imagination from the moment she boards the Savoire, and his life ventures into uncharted territory in more ways than one.

That ‘favor’ for his friend suddenly becomes a life-changing event, and when Zoe, the woman who he knows is too good to be true, reappears, danger and death follows.

Shot at, lied to, seduced, and drawn into a world where nothing is what it seems, John is dragged into an adrenaline-charged undertaking, where he may have been wiser to stay with the ‘devil you know’ rather than opt for the ‘devil you don’t’.

 

newdevilcvr3

And then I woke up

One minute I was sitting out in my office, working on some tweets, and the next I woke up, staring at a black screen.

I thought we’d lost power.

No, I’d been asleep for a long time.

To be honest, I’m worn out.  It’s the end of the year and when it’s supposed to be a time to relax, go on holidays, do something else, I find life is getting more and more hectic.

Yes, I’m going on holiday, but it will be a time when I’m subconsciously looking for new locales for stories, the people, the places, what goes on, all different to my usual humdrum.

So, not a holiday in the true sense of the word.

What put me into this trance-like state was writing the next line, yep, it was as simple as that.  I stopped at a particular point where I had something else to say, and it just felt like the train had come to the end of the track, out there, in the middle of nowhere.

I wrote that line in my mind, and it sounded good, much the same as we sometimes say something in our mind before we speak, and when we finally do, it sounded better in my head than out loud.

Perhaps I’m losing my touch.

Perhaps that ability to sum up everything I want to say in less than 200 characters is beginning to desert me, and old age and decrepitude is setting in.

Which reminds me, pills before bed.

Perhaps I’m just tired and it’s time to go to bed.

I keep putting it off because sometimes I can’t go to sleep and I’m just lying there staring at the ceiling, sometimes the cinema of my dreams.

I imagine I’m somewhere else, someone else, doing something else.

But not in a helicopter.  Not tonight.

Tonight it’s a sinking ship.

Gotta run!

 

That helicopter story that kept me awake

Or part of it anyway.

 

So, there I was, hanging half out of the helicopter, shooting a handgun at a truck speeding along a dirt track.

I know, what’s the effective range of a handgun?

The sound of the rotors was still deafening even with the earphones on and as I run out of bullets and was reaching for another clip, I heard a voice crackle in my ears.

“Some fool’s got a rocket launcher.”

That fool was trying to lean out the passenger side of the truck and aim the launcher at the helicopter.

The bucking and swaying of the vehicle nearly tipped him out onto the roadside, but something managed to anchor him, and he was taking aim.

“Now would be the time to peel away,” I said, not knowing if the pilot could hear me.

Our course didn’t deviate, so perhaps he hadn’t.

I calculated the distance between the helicopter and the ground, and the speed we were traveling.  Fast.  Short drop.  Quick landing.  Very painful.

In that moment I saw the rocket leave the launcher, I let go.

There was that instant where you feel disembodied and floating on air.  The same as that few seconds in free fall, just before pulling the rip cord of a parachute.

I hit the ground a rolled, not that I thought it would do much good, and the stopped, just before I lost consciousness.  Somewhere in front of me, there was a huge explosion, and then nothing.

Last thought, I hope the helicopter didn’t land on me.

 

© Charles Heath 2018

The thing about ‘must read’ lists

And that is, you don’t have to read any of the books on it.

Who really cares if you do or if you don’t?

It’s just a list of books that a particular writer, journalist, or editor puts together simply because they liked them and think you might also.

Of course, this doesn’t work if all you read is comics or romance books like Mills and Boon.  Hey, that’s fine.  You’re reading and this is one of the most important aspects of life, to read, and sometimes, to learn.

I know that my life changed dramatically when I read books, lots of different sorts of books.  I’ve never recommended anyone read the dry, dusty tomes about neurosis for psychiatry, or a history of the Roman Empire simply because of it something I was interested in after I saw the film, Ben Hur.

In a similar manner when we go to school, the curriculum sometimes dictates we read certain books, whether this is to give us an understanding of life centuries before, or that there is some deeper, more sinister, meaning to it all, but some of those books I had to read, back then, the meaning was lost on me.

Should I not read them?  I know most of the kids in the class didn’t because they considered reading a waste of time.  There were more important things to do like chase girls and play a sport.  And torment the teachers.  From what I hear, little has changed.

But the point here is, in my case, I’m just giving you the drum on what I read to improve my literary understand, and perhaps in a small way, help with my writing.  After all, writers must read, particularly in their genre so they have some idea of what readers want.

‘Must read’ is an unfortunate and often misused heading.  We do it all the time.  Ten films you ‘must see’, ten things you ‘must have’, ten places you ‘must go’ usually before you die.

It amuses me to see books with 1000 somethings in them before you die.  I will no doubt be well and truly dead before I get halfway through those lists if I actually took any notice of them.

But, what’s more interesting is that I like to see how many I haven’t done, which is probably the reason why we buy the book, usually off the sale table.

Just one of many reading lists – part 3

Everyone, it seems, will publish what they call the top 100 books that you should read. Some are voted on, some belong to the opinion of the editor of the book review section of a newspaper, and, as you know, there are a lot of newspapers, a lot of editors, and a lot of opinions.

I’m not a newspaper, I’m not an editor, but I have a list, based on personal experience, and many, many years of reading.

It’s in no particular order.

41.  The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as a host of other Sherlock Holmes stories

42.  The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad, one of Conrad’s later political novels, set in London in 1886 and deals with anarchism and espionage.  In those days spies were called anarchists.

43.  The Ipcress File by Len Deighton, introducing us to Harry Palmer, who was personified by Michael Caine and led to Horse Under Water, and Funeral in Berlin.  More of Len Deighton later on in the list

44.  The Remorseful Day by Colin Dexter introducing the somewhat enigmatic detective, Morse, his first name not revealed for a long time but oddly, Endeavour.  John Thaw brought him to life

45.  Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, hard to pronounce and even harder to read, but perhaps worth it in the end.  By the time I read this I was wishing for a Russian writer had could use an economy of words

46.  Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak wasn’t it.  A vast and lengthy dissertation on lost love, I felt very sad for Zhivago in the end.  I saw a stage play of the same name, and I’m sorry, but it’s a few hours of my life I will never get back

47.  Casino Royale, the first of the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming.  I have to say these are among my favorite spy books.  I must say I preferred the new James Bond in Casino Royale, though Sean Connery still rules!

48.  The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsythe, a fascinating story about an assassin

49.  Anything written by John Le Carre, but in particular, the George Smiley collection.  Finally unmasking his nemesis the Russian spymaster made it all so satisfying.

50.  The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlam, inspiring a long series by both Ludlam and Eric Lustbader makes entertaining reading, but the first, the man who did not know who or what he really was, was excellent.  Matt Damon didn’t harm his persona either.

51.  Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers, whose detective is Lord Peter Whimsey, a 1933 mystery novel that’s eighth in the series

52.  Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith.  You have to admit that his Russian detective Arkady Renko is up against it when his investigation goes in a direction that uncovers corruption and dishonest in his superiors

53.  The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler, a semi-autobiographical novel written between 1987 and 1884, and published in 1903.  The story of the Pontifex family.

54.  Howards End by E. M. Forster, first published in 1910, is an interesting insight into the behavior of the, and between the classes, with the Schlegels acting as the catalyst.

55.  Washington Square by Henry James, originally published as a serial, and covers the conflict between daughter and father.  I must say I prefer The Ambassadors to Washington Square.

56.  Ulysses by James Joyce, a day in the life of an ordinary man, Leopold Bloom, why could it not be the 7th June rather than the 16th, for obvious reasons

57.  The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley is a view of society at the end of the Victorian period through the eyes of a young boy.  I read this while still at school and had no clue why, but later, when I read it again, I understood the meaning

58.  Atonement by Ian McEwan, I saw the film and then read the book.  Never a good idea.  Basically, a young girl makes a bad mistake and tries to atone for it.

59.  Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, the War and Peace of Americal novels, and as long by comparison.  The only book written by Mitchell, and the second most read book by Americans.  The film was interesting but awfully long.

60.  The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, with a man with severe burns and the effect he had on three others.  Colin Firth is villain one day and hero the next, this time in the cinematic version, an out and out cad.

More to come…

 

I’m supposed to be winding down!

It’s late at night and I just watched the start of a James Bond movie.

Not the sort of thing to be doing just before going to bed.  I watched the start, typically one of the best parts of the film, and then turned it off.

Then, while trying to switch my mind off so that I could get some sleep, it started running a hundred different scenarios that I might use in a story.

The catchy start, the sort that drags the reader into the book with a bang, high action, with bullets, grenades, a rocket launcher, maybe, a car or a helicopter chase, and a lot of death and mayhem.

Soldiers would tell you this is a typical day in a war zone, with real people, and innocent people as casualties.

Certain police forces would tell you this is what it’s like going up against drug cartels and organized crime.

Spy stories always make good reading and sometimes better movies because it is not something er, on average, equate with reality.  We have a hero, we have innocent people being saved, and the bad guys always lose.

Well, most of the time.  Sometimes they may be allowed to have a small win until the next book in the series.

It’s escapist entertainment, something that takes us away from the daily drudge.

Yes, I can see the beginnings of a story, helicopters, bullets, cars, danger.

Let me get back to you, I have to write this down before I lose it.