Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Ride the Storyline Express – with Booger Boy

In Don't Read This - It's Personal, Random Posts, Ride the Storyline Express, Uncategorized, Writing - Novel Chapter Posts, Writing - Short Story Posts, Writing - Understanding Style and Technique on March 28, 2010 at 5:01 am

I wrote a piece about beating Writer’s Block by riding public transportation.  So many stories, so many lives passing by in front of your eyes.

If you missed the first story, here’s a link:


As mentioned in my first piece, help out fellow writers and post what you see along the way of your day.  Things at work, people on the train, or overheard conversations of someone on a cell phone.  All ideas for writers traveling that lonely stretch of writer’s block.  SHARE THE RIDE.  Add a link to your story under comments or simply tag your own story with Ride the Storyline Express.  We’ll find you.

Here’s another happening along the mikidemillion route:

I laugh when I see ads from city hall urging the masses to use public transportation.  Save energy.  Save the environment.  Save money.

Here’s a tip to city governments everywhere – the best advertisement to keep people off public transportation is to have them try public transportation.  No amount of advertising dollars can reverse that trend.  Am I the only one who understands this?

Don’t get me wrong.  I love riding the bus.  There are things that occur on the bus a writer couldn’t imagine possible without seeing it first.  Humanity.  That’s what I see.  humanity.

Sometimes I’ll get off a standing-room-only bus before my regular stop and catch one of the crosstown buses with seats available.  It’s inconvenient, but more than makes up for elbows in the face and backpacks gouging into the side for a miserable thirty minutes or more.  Most of the time I can expect the crosstown bus to provide a leisurely ride.  But this time was not to be a most-of-the-time ride.

It was a half-empty bus.  The sideways seat benches at the front, long enough for five people each, were occupied by a single person on the right-hand side.  I sat two seats back in the regular, front-facing seats.  The moment the man walked up the bus steps I knew something was wrong.

He jerked and stumbled to the empty sideways bench.  He practically slid across the plastic seating, partially lying on it with his legs kicking at the other end.

oh great.  a drunk.

All this and the bus hadn’t moved yet.

He managed somehow to sit upright as the bus pulled away.  Then I saw it.  How could I have missed that?  I was too busy willing him not to fall to the floor.   He had the longest, slimiest green booger I’ve ever seen.  Hanging from his nose.  I mean, this thing had a life of its own.  It swayed with the rhythm of the bus.  Must have been three inches long.  And the guy sat, head hanging, oblivious of this thing coming out of his nose.

Would he sniff it back in?  You know that sound.  ugh.  I almost threw up thinking about it.

There’s a joke about it, even.  You ask, “What’s green and goes backward?”  then answer with a swift sniff backwards.  It doesn’t have the same impact if you don’t have a cold.

It was pea green in color, the color of soup.  I’ve never seen snot that looked like that.  It hung on for the next three blocks.  I couldn’t look in his direction without wanting to gag.  I had to watch out the window.  But I knew it was there, swinging back and forth, keeping time with the hand straps above the seats.  I had to close my eyes, afraid I might catch a glimpse of that solid, slippery green thing from the corner of my eye.  It made me sick.

I heard the bump and opened my eyes.  Booger boy was on the floor of the bus.  Just laying there, like it was the most natural thing to do.  I did not have the stomach to look at his face.  Two people got on the bus and, very politely, stepped past him.  The bus driver continued down the street.

Are you kidding me?  I leaned forward in my seat to say something.  The lady from the opposite bench had already stepped over him to speak to the driver.  People stared, the lady pointed at him, and the bus driver kept driving but turned around every so often to look at the guy on the ground.

Then the guy began flailing like a fish in the bottom of a boat.   His arms and legs flopped in all directions.

“Sir!” the bus driver said.  She looked back at him as she drove.

“Sir!” she said again.

Booger boy rolled over and back again.  He began grunting and slapped the floor with his hands.

The bus driver stopped the bus.  She stood near her driver’s seat and looked at him for a long while, then reached into a compartment and, very slowly, pulled on some ivory colored rubber gloves.  Maybe that booger was still there, hanging on.  I wasn’t about to look.

A man with two small children came to her rescue.  He held the man’s arms and the bus driver held his legs.   In a calm voice the man instructed the guy and the driver what to do.  Soon the guy lay still and the driver called an ambulance.

Behind us another bus pulled up at the same time the ambulance arrived.   I really wanted to stay and find out what the medical experts thought was wrong with him.  Maybe he wasn’t drunk after all.  But what could it be except that?

Can a person have a seizure after drinking too much alcohol?  And, how can a booger defy the laws of gravity for so long?  Things I would have never thought about if I hadn’t taken the bus.

Have a story to share?  I know this stuff doesn’t only happen to me.  Come on, get out that keyboard and tell us your travel stories!  Maybe it will steer someone away from that hard road known as writer’s block.

The Taking of the Square – 2nd Section

In Random Posts, The Taking of the Square, Uncategorized, Writing - Novel Chapter Posts, Writing - Short Story Posts, Writing - Work in Progress on March 27, 2010 at 5:55 pm

The Taking of the Square by mikidemillion



Link to 1st Story Section:



Adam jumps off his bicycle.  It leans and tips, left to the laws of gravity.  Maddie grabs for a handlebar but is too late.  Metal, bike chain and aluminum crash to the street pavement inches from the girl who’d circled back from halfway up the block.  She screams, swerving her bike, then pushes hard with her heels backward on the pedals.  Bike tires squeal until the front frame of the bike lifts slightly and she comes to a full stop in the middle of the road.  She glares at Maddie and raises her hands in the air.

“What’s going on?” the girl says.

Maddie steps off to the side of her own bike and  rolls it to the grass.  She drops it, swivels, and leans forward, reaching for Adam’s bike.  “Why don’t you just leave?”

Metal rakes the cement.  Maddie winces at the death rattle of Adam’s bike.  The scraping sound tingles her nerve endings.

“Go!” Maddie shouts at the girl who doesn’t move from the middle of the road.

Those girls do not belong here, outside of class, trying to lure Adam away.  They don’t understand the mysteries of old man Johnson’s garage and the rocketship.   They cannot understand the feeling not knowing the whereabouts of Ranger and what it means to Adam.   Finding his dog is something she and Adam have to do.  Those girls do not belong here.

Behind her a wobbly sound and loud pounding begins.  She glances around.  Adam is beating the Johnson garage door with his fists.

“Where’s my dog?” he yells at the door, over and over again.  The door tilts back from the top of its runners and sways a little forward at the bottom from the impact of every fist.  The door shudders with sound.

Adam looks back when Maddie approaches.  His mouth tight, he turns then yells at the door again. And again.   Louder each time.  Maddie raps on the door, timid at first, but seeing Adam’s eyes forces her hand into a ball for a hard knock.  So hard her hand feels sore and she has to stop.  Adam drops both hands to his side, like he’s resting.

The audible click of a latch from behind the door raises the hair on Maddie’s arms.  Adam and Maddie glance at one another and step back.

In the same instant, the screen door of the Johnson house opens.  Maddie leans back to peer around Adam.  A young girl holds the screen door half open, watching them from the house porch.  Without turning around she shouts “Mom, get out here.”

Adam slaps his palm on the garage door, as if willing it to open.

“That’s TG,” Maddie tells Adam, keeping her voice low.

Adam looks, his palm still pressed against the garage door.

“That’s Teagee?”

Maddie shushes him, the girl doesn’t know they call her that.

The girl is big.  Not fat big, but two heads taller than most kids her age.  She’s taller than both Adam and Maddie and two years younger.  She’s not skinny either.  Just big.  For a kid.

Toilet girl.  Everyone who lives within twelve blocks knows the story.  Her mother, the heaviest woman in the neighborhood, couldn’t get out of the bathroom in time and the girl was born in the toilet.  Adam, who’d moved to town half a year ago, had been told the story and he called the daughter what the other kids called her.  Maybe he hadn’t made the connection.

The screen door coils stretch.  The girl opens the door wider and her mother’s head appears.  “What are you kids doing?”

Adam runs to her and mounts the porch steps.  “Please, ma’am, I think my dog is inside your garage.”

Mrs. Johnson’s face wrinkles, her eyebrows lift.  She pushes her daughter forward.  “Go ask your father.”

Adam steps out of the way for the girl to descend the two cement stairs.

“You kids stay here,” Mrs. Johnson tells Adam.  She doesn’t look happy.  Adam motions to Maddie and she moves to his side when the Johnson girl passes by.  Time slows, seconds roll like boulders, minutes pass.

Maddie remembers something and digs in her pocket.  “Here,” she says to Adam and drops her lucky rock into his hand.  A side door of the garage creaks open.

NEXT TIME:  Is Ranger in the garage?  Will the lucky rock work?  What the heck is going on in that garage?

Writer’s Block? Ride the Storyline Express!

In Random Posts, Uncategorized, Writing - Novel Chapter Posts, Writing - Short Story Posts, Writing - Understanding Style and Technique on March 21, 2010 at 7:23 pm

When I tag-surf WordPress I see at least one writer a day blogging about the dreaded Writer’s Block.  Now, I’m not saying it’s an easy thing to get out of or even think there’s a quick solution for it.  I sympathize.  Writing is hard work, but not writing is agony.  I get it.  As I read these painful posts, I always think those writers must not be bus riders.  Buses are rolling, rollicking storylines on wheels.

We can help fellow writers who don’t have the luxury of riding a storyline express.  We can share glimpses of mass transit humanity.  SHARE THE RIDE.  Write your most memorable mobile experiences to share with others who find it hard to get their motors running.  Help a fellow writer today.  Use these real adventures and tales for story ideas and inspiration.

Write your own version or simply comment here  Go ahead.  Tag your story with RIDE THE STORYLINE EXPRESS.  We’ll find you.  Or, include a map to your route, just add a link to the comment section here.

Oops, gotta go.  The Storyline Express is now boarding.

Here’s a story that happened this week on the mikidemillion route:

There are times I sit in the back of the bus, away from the little old ladies who use the front seats as a daily meet-up session to shout out across the aisle every life detail that occurred in the 24 hours since the previous morning’s bus ride. I like to read books on the bus, when I can keep my eyes open, and in back I’m far away from them.  There is no story material in front seat chatter.  Believe me.  Unless you are researching laundry detergent or charting how smart and cute grandchildren can be.  It is like a big wrestling match up there, the WWF of Words.  Lots of boasting, loud and long speeches, over-talking someone who’d been over-talking someone else.  Nothing of substance, except to close family and friends of the constant chatter.

St. Patrick’s Day was one of those days I was hiding away in the back.  The bus wasn’t crowded.  I sat in the back seat reading an Annie Dillard book.  When the bus stopped for passengers I glanced up to see a young guy take a seat nearby.  I noticed him because he was wearing knee length shorts.  And he had a white plastic covering over his right hand, from wrist to the start of his fingers, like a half glove that left his fingers free.  I went back to reading my book.  Then I heard the pop of a can tab.  I smiled.  It sounded like when someone pops open a beer can.  It’s a different sound than the sugar bubbles of soda.  It has more of a whoosh and a softer crunch when the metal tab releases and pushes back inside the can.  What a thought.  Food or coffee wasn’t allowed on the bus.  It was a silly thought that not only was someone drinking something openly on the bus but that the person was drinking beer.

I peered over my book to the guy in shorts.  He held a silver can with red lettering.  Budweiser?  No way.  It must be some new energy drink.  He was holding it in his left hand.  Everyone could see it.  He placed it on the floor so he could rearrange his back pack on the floor near his feet.  Yep.  It was definitely Budweiser.  Now I was worried it was going to tip over.  No person in his right mind leaves a can of anything on the bus floor.  People with wide sneakers holding onto bus straps or poles cannot assume they’ll be upright after every bus lunge or lurch.  I waited for what seemed like a full minute.  Waited for it to tip.  The guy grabbed for it and sucked it down, holding the can vertical for a long time before he lowered his arm and sat back in his seat.  I breathed out, not realizing I’d been holding my breath the whole time.

wow.  I thought.  just wow.  That guy doesn’t care who sees him.  7:00am and popping a beer in the back of bus.  That’s bold.  The guy is fearless.  I mean, really, how awesome it would be to sit on a city bus, pop open a beer at the top of hill, and drink in the sunrise from the back window of a moving bus with foamy beer on your face and in y0ur belly.  wow.  What a guy.

Then he balanced the beer can on his palm, reached up to the open window, and tossed the can out the window of the moving bus.  I wondered, did I just see that? but I heard the can rattling on the road behind us.  Yep.  It had really happened.

“Not cool, man,” a man sitting in the opposite seat told the guy.

“You didn’t like that?” the guy says.

“Not cool.  Put it in your backpack and throw it away later.”

The guy doesn’t say anything more and reaches into his backpack and pulls out another beer.  He pops it open and drinks it down.

By this time, all the other riders around him couldn’t help but smile and laugh when we looked at one another, like what the heck?  I couldn’t stop laughing to myself, it was like being in a real-life Cheech and Chong movie.  I kept seeing in my mind the bus rolling along with a beer can flying out the back window every other block.  I imagined the faces of people driving cars behind this party bus.  Then I looked at the guy’s face for the first time.  Everything else about him looked normal, his clothes were clean, a Gap style, new white sneakers but his face, there was something not quite right in his expression.  Not a drunken appearance.  No red face, no red eyes.  There was something about his eyes, how they had a soft droop but I wasn’t sure if it was from the alcohol.  It was like he wasn’t there.  Beer or no beer.  And I knew it was more than him having a few on St. Paddy’s Day.  It was more than him living his young life as an alcoholic.  There was something else there no amount of beer or blackouts could obliterate.  Don’t ask me what.  There are no words to describe it.

I got off the next block, it was my stop.  After walking half a block, I noticed a cop car heading to the corner behind me.  I looked back and there was a red medical van the fire department sends out on calls.  All were arriving at the bus stop I’d just left.  It was the end of the line for Budweiser guy and his backpack of beer.

I think of that guy and wonder what happened to him.  And so many others I’ve encountered.  Share your bus stories.  Or travel stories.  Maybe it will get some of our fellow writers quickly past that rough section of neighborhood known as writer’s block.

The Taking of the Square

In Random Posts, The Taking of the Square, Uncategorized, Writing - Novel Chapter Posts, Writing - Short Story Posts, Writing - Work in Progress on March 13, 2010 at 9:51 pm

The Taking of the Square by mikidemillion



Maddie lies on her side, her cheek presses against warm sidewalk.  The neighborhood sounds different with one ear cupped to the ground.

The skin of her face wobbles, ever so slight, then a low rumble, deep underground, follows.  It soon morphs into a car sound, passing by on Elm Street.

Maddie closes her eyes, soothed to sleepiness by sun on her face and gentle bumps from concrete-covered earth.  Another car approaches.  The clink of a bike chain, louder and louder, overpowers her uncovered ear.  Maddie sits then leans back at once when a chocolate, panting Labrador nuzzles her shoulder.  She smiles.

“Hey, I was still playing that,” she tells her friend.

“You were lying down.  You weren’t playing anything,” Adam says, dropping the handlebar of his bike.  Tilted low already, the bike clatters onto its side and covers the pink chalked outline of a misshapen hop-scotch game spread over three sidewalk squares.

Maddie guides the dog away from her face.

“Ranger, get over here,” Adam says.  Ranger leaps backward.

“Can’t you see my rock on square five?”  Maddie points down at the bike.

“You were over there, nowhere near the rock.”


“So, how was I to know?  You didn’t look like you were doing anything.”  Adam stays next to his bike, grabbing onto a handle, as if to move it.  “What were you doing?” he says, emphasizing were.

“Trying to get through three-sies with my lucky rock.”

“Not that, I mean – “  he pauses. “I just rode past old man Johnson’s garage and he’s in there.”

“Working on the – “


Maddie walks over and picks up the used piece of chalk near Adam’s foot.  He pulls his bicycle higher so she can reach under for her lucky rock.  She slips it into the pocket of her jeans.

It’s no secret old man Johnson’s been building a rocket ship in his garage.  He’s been working on it for years.  Although she’d never seen it, even as a ten-year-old Maddie knew it was strange that an adult thought he could fly into outer space after slapping together odds and ends from the junkyard.

She’d mentioned it to Adam soon after he’d moved to the neighborhood.  From the moment Maddie said it, Adam was on a quest to peek into old man Johnson’s dark garage.  He must have assumed Maddie wanted to see what was in there as much as he did, seeking her out before every attempt.

“He’s got some kind of tin hat on,” Adam whispers.  They are seated on grass at the side of the road in front of the Johnson house.

Adam rotates his bike chain, tapping on it and shaking it.  His shoulders hunch while his eyes stay on the lower half of the wooden garage door a distance away from them.  The garage is deep in the interior of the yard, beside the house and partially hidden by a gigantic tree on its other end.  Maddie pats Ranger’s back.  Her bike lay on the slope of the ditch, close to the edge of Johnson’s dirt driveway.

The garage door, opened to the height of Maddie’s knees, reveals a dirty cement floor underneath, spotted in light where the afternoon sun creeps in.  Johnson’s black boots appear on the sunny cement and disappear backwards into the dark.  Maddie flattens her palms to the ground, ready to push fast, get on her feet and run.  Two squirrels high-tail down the tree and onto the edge of the garage floor cement.  Their sudden high-pitched chattering makes Maddie nearly spring up but she freezes.  From behind, Johnson has bent for something on the garage floor.  Big, black work gloves grope the ground.  There is a silver flash when his head hits sunlight and then it’s gone.

Adam pushes a finger into Maddie’s side.  “Told you,” he mouths.

“Let’s go.”  Maddie says it quick.  She wanted to say let’s get the heck out of here now before Johnson sees us.  Then she has another chilling thought.  What if he’s looking at them now, hidden by the darkness inside that garage?

A loud clatter brings Maddie to her feet.  A tool, like a wrench, flys across the garage floor.  The squirrels race for safety.  Maddie reaches for the handlebars of her bike.  A chain rattle sounds behind her.  Maddie presses hand to beating heart.

“What are you doing?” a voice demands.

Maddie’s hand drops and she breathes out, sinking her shoulders.  She glances at Adam.  His arms had stiffened to a fighting stance.  His chest lowers then relaxes.  He looks at Maddie.  Smiling, he shakes his head back and forth ever so slightly.  Maddie grins agreement.

“Fixing my bike chain,” Adam says to the two girls, classmates from Truman Elementary.  They’d stopped on the roadside, holding onto bicycles, one foot anchored to the ground and the other resting on a bike pedal.  Both giggled in an annoying cutesy style of laughter.  Neither one looked in Maddie’s direction.

“Want to go to the playground?  There’s a big four-square game going on.”  The girl, Sharon, asks Adam.  Her teeth glint in sunlight.  She smooths her hair back behind her ears.

“Sure,” Adam says without hesitation.

If he’d punched Maddie in the gut it would have hurt less.  Was he really going to abandon her and go off with these girls?  Maddie stares at the ground.  There is no way she’s going to acknowledge their victory.  She pulls her bike to the road and points it in the opposite direction.

Adam rolls his bike off the grass, “Hey, Mad, you coming?”

“No, you go,” she says.

He doesn’t even protest.

Maddie presses down on her bike pedal.  Maybe she should go play four-square just to try to beat those girls at their own game.  She’s a good enough player, sometimes dominating the Server Square, or King position.  But, right now, she doesn’t feel like playing anything.

“Maddie!” Adam calls to her.  Her heart lifts.  She stops her bike and looks back.

Adam’s bike is turned in her direction.  He glides closer, pushing forward with his feet from the ground.  Facing her, in front of old man Johnson’s, he skids to a halt and says, “Where’s Ranger?”

They both turn at once to the Johnson yard.  Near the bottom of the garage door there is a flash of silver then bang, it closes with such force the door shakes and rattles.

They look at each other, neither speaks.  Adam’s eyes have a  helpless look that makes Maddie turn away.  For the first time, Maddie is determined to find out what’s behind that door.  No matter how scared she might be.

NEXT TIME: Will Maddie and Adam discover the secret rocketship?  Will they find Ranger?  What about those other girls?  Find out, next time!