Friday, October 20, 2006

"A Town Full of Holes"

Although "A Town Full of Holes" was my fourth published story, it was not the fourth one written. It was actually the second (technically the third if you count "A Tiny Decision", but it was never published due mostly to the fact that it was horrible).

That is one of the frustrating situations you find yourself in as a writer. You spend all this time on first writing the story, then finding a suitable publication. Then, if you’re lucky enough to get a response at all, it’s usually a rejection. After several re-submissions you finally score. Someone gives you the big OK. You frame the acceptance letter, celebrate with some Starbucks, and then you wait ... and wait ... and wait.

"A Town Full of Holes" was accepted by Midnight Times in April of 2004, but wasn’t actually published until January of 2005. Three month after that it was published again in a magazine called Seasons in the Night.

Writer’s Market had Midnight Times mislabeled as a print magazine, but it is really a webzine. I didn’t find this out until the editor, Jay Manning, sent me an e-mail saying that he was interested in my story. I prefer print magazines (my own personal prejudice) but I agreed to let him publish the story. One of the best decisions of my life.

Midnight Times is an excellent publication, full of talented writers and wonderful stories. Normally I would paste my story here, but I want to encourage you to visit Midnight Times. So, if you would like to read "A Town Full of Holes," go to or click on the link to the left. It will be in the archives; Winter 2005, issue #8.

An interesting side note (or maybe not): I originally wrote "A Town Full of Holes" for a contest. I stayed up all night so that I could make the deadline. At somewhere around 5:30 A.M. I finished. I was pleased with myself. I liked the story; felt that it had poured from me with very little trouble. I went to save the file, but my exercise in sleep deprivation had caused my brain and my hand to go all Jekyll and Hyde. Instead of clicking save, I clicked exit.

Now fully awake, I rushed to reopen the file, praying the whole time that I had hit save somewhere close to the end. I hadn’t.

The story was just a few words shy of 4,000. When I reopened the file, there were only 2,000 words. I spent the rest of the day (luckily I didn’t have to work) rewriting those lost 2,000 words. And that second time was nowhere near as smooth as the first.

They say that a bought lesson is the best kind, and I believe it. I am now a habitual saver.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Good-bye to a Great Friend

Her name was Annie. Her hair was soft and black. Her eyes were brown and full of kindness. It didn't matter to me that she walked on all fours, had a big nose, and wagged her tail everytime she saw me.

My wife and I weren't looking for a dog when we found Annie. We went to Petsmart that day to buy fish food. It was Saturday - the day they truck in the strays from a nearby shelter. We turned down the aisle and there she was.

Annie was a Schipperke (little sheperd). I had never heard of that breed before. She looked like a black fox to me. Neither her ears nor her tail had been clipped, and there was a bit of red in her fur. Later we would discover that this branded her as imperfect. Nothing was further from the truth.

There was one thing wrong with her, we discovered. She limped on her left rear leg. We were told she had an infected toe - nothing serious. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Our vet informed us that Annie's hip was dislocated and that she needed an expensive surgury to correct it. Man, had the dog only a couple of days, and already she was costing us! The shelter told us they would take Annie back and give us a refund if we wanted.

We knew what would happen if she went back. A date with a needle. We couldn't stand the thought of that. But we didn't have the money for the surgury.

My wife started calling around, seeking for any kind of finacial aid we could get. A couple of days later we received a phone call from the shelter. Because we were willing to keep Annie despite her injury, they decided to cover the cost of the surgury.

Annie was good as new. For four years she filled our lives with ineffible joy. From the way she would stand on your feet and lean on you so you'd have to stay and pet her, to the way she would grunt when you rubbed her ears, to her mistrust of squirrels ... I could go on forever.

And she never complained; never gave us any grief. She was by far the best dog I have ever known.

A couple of months ago Annie stopped eating. She weighed twenty pounds at her heaviest, but quickly dropped down to sixteen. That may not seem bad, but you lose 20% of your body weight and we'll talk. A blood test told us two things. Annie was older than we thought (five to eight years older), and her kidneys were no longer functioning like they should.

Our time was short.

We didn't want to put her to sleep. My wife and I agreed, we’d do it if we had to, but we hoped we wouldn’t have to.

Last Saturday Annie had a bad day. She had trouble walking, but what made it worse was that when she saw you, she’d wag her tail. Her eyes were as bright as ever. Her mind was there, but her body was just not holding out.

My wife held Annie on her lap, crying, and asked Annie what we should do. She didn’t seem in pain. No whining, nothing. Always a wag, though. We knew she wasn’t going to answer us, but we were wrong.

The next day, October 8th, Annie had a better day. She was walking fine. She drank some water, even ate some ham (it was the only thing she would eat at this point). My wife let her outside to sit in the sun. I went to check on her a few hours later.

Annie had dug herself a little hole under the deck stairs years ago. She loved to lay there in the cool dirt. That’s where I found her. I called her name. When she didn’t wag her tail I knew.

Annie - ever faithful, never complaining, always loving - gave us our answer. She spared us from having to make the decision.

She still looked like she was asleep. I buried her under the trees where she guarded against an army of squirrels - protecting us perhaps.

I have never felt so heartbroken over the loss of a pet. She was a wonderful friend, and I am thankful for every day of the four years we were blessed with her.

So if someday you are reading a story by me, and you come across a little black dog that looks more like a fox; one that is intelligent, loving and faithful - everything a dog is supposed to be - know that it is the spirit of Annie.

And know this: No matter how well I portray her, I could never give her justice.

Thank you, Annie. I love you.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

"The Fire Lady"

"The Fire Lady" was published in Fighting Chance, Winter 2004 Issue.

It is one of three Flash Fiction stories (under 1,000 words) that I have attempted. I feel more comfortable in longer stories. It is hard - at least for me - to develop characters, plot and keep the story going in so few words.

I don't feel this is my best work, but the story still holds a certain charm for me. The young boy Tom reminds me of one of my nephews - an imagination better than any book or movie. This same nephew seems to remind both of my sisters and my mother of how I used to be - and hopefully still am.

The Fire Lady
Gabriel Beyers

Tom and Andy stood in the alley beside the general store and watched the train go by. The long chain of boxcars slithered down the tracks like some giant, poorly built mechanical snake.

"What d’you s’pose is in those cars, Tom?" Andy asked. He looked down at Tom; a small four year old boy with deep brown eyes that were out of place next to his blonde hair.

"Lots of different stuff," Tom replied. He looked up at the tall man beside him and smiled. Andy had a head full of long stringy red hair that was always falling into his eye (a mean dog took one of his eyes when he was young). Andy’s skin was ghost white — but that was hard to see under the thick layer of grime that covered him.

Tom didn’t care that Andy was dirty, or that he only had one eye. Andy was his best friend.

"What kinda different stuff?" Andy asked.

Suddenly a clap of thunder exploded in the sky, and Andy felt the wave roll over his body. Tom began to look around frantically. His lips were quivering as he tried to speak. "Something is happening. Something bad."

"What do you mean bad?"

Before Andy got his answer another clap of thunder roared above. The sound was deafening and the blast wave was so strong it knocked Andy and Tom off their feet. The sky came alive with a moment of rippling fire, then the town’s lights were extinguished.