Scribble: The Resistor and The Capacitor

24 07 2010

Note: This is an old scrap I came across. Still seemed interesting.

They started to come to every meeting—Bermudez and Putterman—like a couple, but they never sat next to each other. Bermudez always seated himself next to the coffee, Putterman near the door or sometimes facing a bank of windows to the clear.

Putterman was the Resistor. He stayed quiet for long stretches looking bored, blankly staring out to the clear with a slight and tired mien and, just as the room seemed to coalesce around an idea, he’d start furrowing and arching his eyebrows, and those of us who knew knew to deflate a little, back off our enthusiasm for—here it comes—that withering epithet. Fresh-faced executives or exasperated believers may then parry and push but that would set him off to his inexhaustible rally of tricks.

Putterman came to life as a wall, an undulating, flexing brick barrier swelling to resistance like a sea storm clenching to crush brave and hapless boats. Once he even got up and paced the conference room, jabbing and then chopping the air like a Roman orator, pausing at the end of the table and addressing the CEO directly. I wanted simultaneously to stand up and applause and catch him in a running tackle, but when he got to the coffee machine, Bermudez held his hand up like a kid in 5th grade, and everyone stopped shouting, and Putterman pursed his lips.


The Secret on My Mind

6 09 2009

Another scribble:

Dear Alex,

I have a secret. Actually it’s not really a secret, since a lot of guys here on the inside do know about it, all the guards and wardens and docs and, therefore, also practically every one in my block, but actually beyond that I think this information is surprisingly not real well-known. Maybe on account of me being a straight up guy and careful with others’ shit. Anyhow, I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about how I look. I’m 5’11”, 200 lbs. at the last weigh-in. I’ve got light-brown skin — so light that I’ve got red freckles around my nose. I laughed when you wrote that you looked like a kid version of Conan O’Brien in your letter ’cause my friends used to call me “Irish” when I was your age. One of the guards tapes Conan O’Brien and plays it in the rec room. Anyhow, I also got this Afro. You know what that is? I don’t know if kids around you still sport those things. I let my hair grow kind of long and then shape it back with a razor so it looks like I got this black foam ball on my head. Except my hair is not super tightly kinked, so it’s more like a mound of cotton candy on my head. It was kind of a thing back in the day. Here’s the thing — there’s a reason why I always, always have my hair this way. It’s ’cause I have a nail sticking out of my head. If you shaved my scalp, you’d see it sticking out maybe half-an-inch honest-to-Jesus. But my hair being as it is, you really wouldn’t be the wiser.

My dad did that, Alex.

So here’s the problem

4 09 2009

Another quick scribble.

Jonas could tell before Tasker said a word that the colonel was not a geek. It wasn’t his clean-shaven appearance or militaristic bearing — plenty of the crack cybersecurity experts are coming nowadays from within the ranks of an Armed Forces keen on keeping a step ahead of technology than its rivals both far and near. It wasn’t even his age, though Jonas certainly couldn’t recall any eminent wizards who looked like Tasker.

It was his scan; the Colonel looked at the personnel rather than the equipment. He lacked the shifty-eyed curiosity of a true geek. He was, instead, a bureaucrat, or middle manager.

“You say one of your own machines is doing this?”

“Sort of,” Jonas explained. “One of the crucial ways we track new activity is by having an array of machines that we call honeypots. They’re completely vulnerable machines, you see, with no firewalls or protective software. We use them to attract as much malicious activity as possible. Their sole purpose is to get swarmed with infections so we can see what new menaces are making their way around networks.”

The Colonel cut him short. “So what happened at 0400 this morning?”

“Well,” Jonas said, “they all started, one after another, sneezing.”

Scribble: Deadly Vows

29 07 2009

I’ve started re-attending my writer’s group now that the school year’s over. Here’s a scribble I made from our last meeting:

It was her lips and tongue that bled first and not from gashes cleft and gaping nor even from the sores that soon appeared, but the crimson droplets arriving like an annunciation, like a stigmata, the kiss of Christ blessing the holy crusade of the United States of America. She didn’t know, of course, that it was from the war time effort until half a decade later, as the other girls in her line fell sick with her, passing each other in wheelchairs in hospital hallways — the old gang, the Wildcats of Westbrook, the fountain clique, and the Spirit committee — now a nunnery effacing in their sublimated loves. A venomous glowworm that dug into their marrow and hollowed their bones, slithered down their gullets with a little slip of spit and paint, neon-green — a color that seemed otherworldly, as if it came from behind a far-off star through the slipstream of pulpy fiction. The girls were told to keep their brushes sharp and wet as they painted on the numbers on their dials, the hand-lettered timepieces to their boyfriends, husbands, lovers in future perfect, shining, twinkling, winking even in the blackest of nights by their licks of radium.

Directions for the Dead

30 10 2008

skull (cropped)

It may be a while, you know,
Before you find anything out at all.
You might just wait a long, long time.
Is that a kind of hell?
No, it is annoying but it is not

Hell. Hell, hell
Would be having every consequence
At logical extremes
slingshotted to your face.

Hell is a result.
Hell is finding out for sure again and again.
What you have is a blessing,
A mystery — a suspen
********************sion. That is

A kind of heaven,
Yes? Heavens no, heaven
Is also a result,

One final fall upwards,
A crescending denouement,
The soft sighing tingle of sleep
At the end of a heavy day,
A long purring stretch,
Fists in the air.

Scribbles: The Gift

31 12 2007

When Melanie saw the box she cried. Andy was grinning from ear to ear, and he stepped back a full step, swinging his arms out, and lowered himself to one knee. When he had practiced the night before, he kept finding himself too awkwardly close to the sofa, so he shifted his eyes around now to check that he had appropriate positioning.

Melanie quivered and shuddered but hadn’t opened the box, so Andy got back up again, gently took it from her hands, and lowered himself down to the other knee, since the floor was hardwood.

He flipped the top of the box open and began, “Melanie Soo-Jin Lee, I would be honored if you would spend the rest of your life with me… as my wife.”

The Christmas tree blinked its looping signal of relentless joy, the colored lights irradiating the room with spots of holiday bloom. To Andy, the plastic star at the top of the tree seemed like a little angel, winking at him above Melanie’s heaving shoulders.

“Oh, Andy, I… I can’t. I can’t.”

Melanie threw herself on the couch, her face smothered in the crook of her arm, her silk pajamas splayed across the coarse, pilling cushions.

Andy turned to look in the box, gazing in to see if the ring looked wrong. But it twinkled, with brilliant clarity, like nothing else in the room did.

Take what you need from history

13 11 2007

Another scribble, this time from the prompt: “Take what you need from history and get the hell out.”

Marie’s genealogical quest took a distinctly perverse turn then, as she set out not just to uncover the truth about the Lavigne past but to photoshop it. Her research took on a frantic, urgent quality as she scoured the records, haunted the archives, filled out numerous forms and letters to embassies to requisition documents. And even as she inched down the murky, gravelly anthill of her family’s past, she began to pave it smooth with a meticulous fiction. She snipped out masked portions of pictures and recontextualized them with new captions. She gave new occupations, moved residences over to the next island, fiddled with timelines to gloss over unfortunate coincidences.

And then she began to smudge even people out of existence, gray shadows that stood silently, disturbingly behind the towering ancestors at the foreground. For of course how could she admit that the ground Pierre Latrouse Lavigne of legend, her direct great great great grandfather and seed of the family fortune, was one of the largest slave traders of the Haitian colonies?