Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

SNHU MFA Summer Residency (Part 3): PMS and the Oklahoma Kid (and Polar Bears) ...


Some wake up on a fine summer’s day and see inspiration all around them; the beautiful blue sky, the ocean’s waves breaking on the rocks, the smell of the sea, the sound of a (fuckin’) foghorn ... and then there are some (our Stephanie Milligan) who wake up, observe nature and all its raw wonder and are inspired to write poetry ...

plural male stressors
pulse moving slow
pulpy milky sediment
pancake maple syrup
pale mourning siblings
proud mom story
porn mangles senses
promise multiple sins
predict malefic sunbursts
pedophile meet satan
please more sex
protect moral status
pillow muffles screams
pirates must sail
prevent mass suicide
primitive maggot species
plot makes sense

The Oklahoma Kid ... Daniel Mitchell and I met at registration our first day in the program ... we hung out from time to time and he told me some very funny stories about a more rural life than I’m used to, teaching kids and living in Alaska (where an 8 foot Moose scared the shit out of him in the middle of the night when it walked across his Alaskan porch).

Daniel also found his way down to the dock just about every morning to jump in the frigid waters off Shutter Island with the Shutter Island Polar Bears. Here’s his story, The Polar Bear Shuffle:

Day 1:

The first morning on Star Island I wake to the sun slashing through my window, the room far too bright, and decide, “OK. This is crazy, but I’m doing it anyway.” On my bathing suit the hula girls laugh. My flip-flops squeaking at each stride, towel at port arms, I walk out on the porch, and everyone stares. They’ve all got that expression you reserve for whack-jobs at Wal-Mart as I cross the porch and head for the ocean. Even the air is too cold for this, and I only keep moving because they’re watching, waiting to sneer when I fail.

I crunch down the gravel beach, lose the t-shirt and towel, drop the flops, and step in. I look down as I wade through bejeweled bits of broken shells, like broken dreams. The crystal waves rise with each step and I forget the watchers. This isn’t for them any more. This is for me, my own personal baptism.

Day 2:

The alarm croons jazz, and I think, “This is stupid. It serves no purpose. You’re pounding your pride. Just go back to sleep,” and notice I’m already dressed and reaching for the door.

The hula girls are less mocking this morning, a bit uncertain, as I join the gathering crowd. Our cheerleaders, the Polarettes, wrapped in jackets and jeans toot happily on their kazoos, as we pause for a picture on the gangplank, and a chant builds below me,

“We are the Polar Bears.
We swim anywheres.
We’re coooool.”

I dive in second with all the grace of a dead seal and manage three minutes before the intense pain in my now tiny testicles, threatening to crack like ice cubes, overcomes me, and I flee gasping.

Day 3:

“This is stupid. This is stupid. This is stupid.” I chant as I stumble down the stairs, late, chasing the happily chatting Bears down the pier. This time I wait my turn among the crowd, veined hands clapping, voices swelling as each new splash resounds. Some enter singly and some in groups holding hands, smiles for one and all. I do my dead seal dive, my walnuts soon to be peanuts, wincing in anticipation. I make it longer this time. One minute, two, four, eight, and the pain goes away. Suddenly I’m warm. I wonder briefly if this is the first sign of hypothermia, or someone’s bladder just let go. Either way, it’s a beautiful thing.

Graying voices all around me now the pure cries of children as we frolic in the waves. Before I know it, I’m welcomed in and extend my feet to join the synchronized star of silliness, soles touching as we turn. Souls touching as we turn.

“We are the Polar Bears.
We swim anywheres.

The Drive Home ... Charlie & Mae, soaked to the core, loaded up the Volvo and headed south on I-95 for New Jersey. It was a fairly quick trip and thoroughly enjoyable except for one misdirection (a sign for McDonald’s that left us driving around New Hampshire/Massachusetts for an extra half hour) ... fortunately for moi, I had Mae along for the ride ... all of us in the program (the 12-step anger management program, that is) know Mae as a very calming influence ... and that came in handy when we stopped to ask some guy in a truck where the McDonald’s was ... half an hour later, it went something like this.

“The fuck is this place?” I said.

“The fuck do I know?”
Mae said. “I don’t live this shit state.”

“I was gonna say excuse my French, but I’m glad you let loose, Mae. You seemed bottled up about something since we left Portsmouth.”

“Fuck you, Charlie.”

“That’s what I’m talking about.”

No, no, no ... of course it didn’t go like that. The F-words (a few MF words and the like) were all mine ... and just about when I thought I might play bumper cars with a few foreigners (New Hampshire/Massachusetts drivers), Mae actually did calm me down.

Okay, so she spiked my coffee with Valium, but I did find her prayers soothing. I even remember one of them.

“Oh, please, Lord ... help me calm this crazy white man before he runs us into the back of a tractor trailer.”

Mae is a sweetheart ... and I got to meet her wonderful husband, Chan, when we made it to Casa Stella safe and sound ... and no sooner did she plead with me not to show Chan (a drummer himself) my drum room, I ran him upstairs to visit those bad boys. Mae has been telling Chan drums won’t fit in their house and I showed him how they fit for a 315 pounder (and I have about 150 pounds on Chan so you know his kit will fit even easier).

Drummer’s stick together ...

One-liners about the Pelicans (the kids who worked on Shutter Island):

I have two in my pocket. Don’t tell anyone.

When you push her make sure she doesn’t break an ankle. Make sure she breaks her neck.

I’m just going to put on my strap-on.

It sounds like a choir of drag queens.

This two finger thing is amazing!

The Jersey Connection ... Back to Me and Mae (or Mae and Me) ... sometimes when I’m driving I like to play ”make believe”. Admit it, you all do it. You know how when you slap the top of the hood like Kojak used to do it and make police siren sounds as you drive a little faster? For some reason, after getting lost looking for McDonald’s, I thought “we need to make up some time” ... and because French Fries had been on my mind, I thought, French Connection ... except there were two Jerseyites in the car so it couldn’t be French ... although Mae did seem a bit confused when I called her Popeye a few times ...

We’re winding down the Summer Residency posts and I haven’t been able to find Ken Butler. If anyone has his email address, etc., please have him contact me.

Two Guys on all they missed while on Shutter Island ...

“You hear, that jackass died?” one guy said.

“Which jackass?” the other guys said.

“I don’t know, one of the jackasses. You know, those morons try to kill themselves and film it.”


“Forgetaboutit. You hear about Weiner?”

“Oscar Mayer?”



“The fuck you talkin’ about?”

“You started it.”

“How about Bulger?”


“Yeah, they finally bagged him. Only took them sixteen years.”

“Because they couldn’t catch a cold without a rat, the FBI.”


“Huh? No, just the one. One jackass.”

“The fuck you talkin’ about?”


No, no, no ... don’t forgetabout it ...