Posted in Writings

Messages – Convenient Incidents (40/84)

The Incense Salesman
And the Wind Continues to Blow

Messages

Gill is about to close out Buyify when a little red circle in the top left corner of the screen catches his eye. In addition to being an ecommerce platform, Buyify is also a social networking website; moguls (that’s what the users are called) have profiles where they can post status updates and advertisements for new products or sales, a friends and competitors list to keep tabs on their close and closer ones, and, perhaps most importantly of all, a virtual mailbox for sending and receiving private messages. This morning, Gill has two messages clogging up his inbox. His pulse picks up just looking at them, and he begins to salivate.

The first message is from his Father. It reads:

Child,
I just wanted to thank you for being so, so helpful in the police investigation last night. In case you forgot – or, in your specifically delusional case, you thought you were dreaming – my house was broken into and robbed, and you slept through the entire thing. Fortunately, the bastard didn’t steal anything of real value, just a bunch of toys and knickknacks from your childhood, but still, that doesn’t make it right. Because you were asleep, the guy got away and the cops had no leads to go on, so I’m assigning the project to you. I want you to investigate my house and find evidence: a strand of hair, a dried pile of spittle, a clue of any kind, and if you can’t? Well, I won’t be surprised in the slightest.
You know what? Don’t even fucking bother, you’d probably just fall asleep during your search or turn in one of your own hairs, because that’s the kind of man you are. A failure of a man, one who will never have success no matter how hard he tries. I’ve tried with you, Gill, I really have – the fact that I even referred to you by your name just now should tell you exactly how hard I’ve tried – but you’re a lost cause. There’s not even hope that you’ll become someone’s trophy husband one day, because you’re not a trophy. All you are, Gill, is a Goddamned consolation ribbon given to the untalented kids who still have the guts to perform at their talent shows. Untalented kids just like you, that is, except you don’t even have any guts, you only performed because I fucking made you. You’re a fucking disgrace.
By the way, your rack of consolation ribbons was among the things stolen. No great loss, in my opinion, and as far as you’re concerned, my opinion is fact. No; my opinion is LAW.
You disappoint me,
Bill Milligan

After wiping the tears from his eyes with the neck of his white tee, Gill presses the blue save button and stores his Father’s latest correspondence with all the rest so he can go back and read them one day. On the inside, Gill doesn’t think he’s a total lost cause, he still has some semblance of hope about his future, but he also knows how smart his Father Bill is. Not just anyone could have developed Buyify, and the fact that Mister Bill Milligan was able to singlehandedly swindle the software’s sole developer out of the company without paying a cent in lawyer fees just speaks on the man’s intelligence; if and when the day comes where Gill realizes how much of a failure he really is, he wants to have this archive of emails to remind him why he is the way he is, to keep him anchored in reality, to give him a way to know that it’s not all just a bad dream.

The second message is from a Buyify user named Smells, of the firm Smells Inc. It reads:

Jil1,
Hrll0 they’re, iMsitr Gi1l Bootless! Mi nmae is Sm3llz, amd I an am djincense salismen. I wuz luokngi ay tuor syte nad its perty guud! Du yoo wnat two trie s3lli7g my djincense butnres? I cn synd yew a fr3e s4mp1e! Jsut rpley me yur adres nd I wi l l s3nd i+ 3 yiu.
Live,
Smlels

Although the message is hard to read because of the apparent learning defect of its sender, Gill doesn’t waste a single second – like Father always said: When an opportunity presents itself, you better as hell jump onto it, because they’re quick like a jackalope and, in your case, Gill, a lot smarter than you are. A lot smarter than you’ll ever be. He types up a quick reply to this Smells, taking care to proofread his writing so Smells can maybe learn from his example, and then hits the send button. The whoosh sound brings a smile to Gill’s face, the first in days, and within seconds he gets another message in his inbox. It’s from his Father, and it reads:

P.S. I will not be coming home for a few days, as the rage I feel towards you has convinced me to stay out of the state. You don’t need to know where I am, and I doubt the burglar will come back – hitting homes twice in a row is not part of his pattern.
Unless he makes it so, starting with my house. If he comes, try not to sleep through it this time, hm?

Gill’s smile widens. He debates pulling up an adult video site to treat himself to something special this morning, to celebrate his Father’s absence and his upcoming success as a seller of incense products, but ultimately decides against it. Once the money starts rolling in, Gill will be able to hire his own actors and actresses to make videos just for him, videos that won’t be seen by anybody else. It’ll be worth the wait.

After opening the adult video website anyway – just to look at the thumbnails; don’t worry, Gill isn’t that depraved – Gill’s smile widens to the droopy lobes of his ears. With the cuffs of his pants pulled up around his mid-calves, Gill walks downstairs to get himself some breakfast.


Hello Commons, this has been the fourth subchapter of the eighth story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.

Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.

Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Dreaming – Convenient Incidents (39/84)

The Incense Salesman
And the Wind Continues to Blow

Dreaming

Hazy vision and a dull pounding inside his head bring Gill to a waking state. He didn’t sleep very well last night – well, that’s not true. He was sleeping deeply for quite a few hours before the lights and sirens woke him up, and even then Gill was half convinced he was still dreaming. It’s sometimes hard for the Milligan heir to differentiate between waking reality and his own dreaming reality, no matter how dreamy the dream may be; one time, Gill dreamed he and his nonexistent family were all out on Monksville on his Father’s ocean boat, and when he woke, he mistook the sweat he was coated in for the residual spray from the waves. Of course, when Gill asked his Father what time they got in last night, he was made perfectly aware of how ridiculous he was to even so much as think it was real – ocean vessels aren’t allowed on Monksville, of course he it happened in a dream.

“Do you think I’m dreaming right now, Father?” Gill asked, and was answered with a heartfelt, “If you were dreaming you’d be a lot more successful, now wouldn’t you?”

But last night, when his bedroom filled with flashing red and blue lights and the siren pierced his ears like an arrow through thin metal, that was no dream. At first Gill thought he had imagined himself some sort of twisted disco party; the only thing missing was all the females from his old high school he never got a chance to dance with. They almost always show up in Gill’s dreams, disco or not, and rarely are they wearing anything but parka coats.

Had Gill asked them to dance way back when, they probably would have obliged, but he was always too afraid. Gill has never exactly been a lady’s man – when Gill got the talk, it was delivered in drunken slurs from his first Stepmom on the night before her and Gill’s Father’s divorce. She told Gill it was wrong for men to look at women, that if a man so much as thinks about a woman’s (and I quote), “… luscious, supple breasts, her firm, tight ass, her delicious, glistening [you get the idea], then he is headed straight to Hell, and with each further dirty thought he allows himself to entertain he shaves off another minute of his life and another two centimeters of his dirty, filthy Peter!” She was a troubled woman; in her suicide note, mailed to Bill Milligan half a decade following their divorce, it was revealed that she was raised by a questionable band of Gypsy nuns who gave her a similar treatment that Catholic priests give to choir boys. She also thanked him (sincerely thanked him) for never touching her, even when she begged him to. That’s about all you need to know about Bill Milligan, although it’s more than Gill himself knows.

Sitting up on the edge of his bed, Gill reaches out blindly for the water bottle he left on his nightstand last night. He finds it by way of knocking it down, and the sound of the glugging reminds Gill that he didn’t replace the cap. ‘You need to replace the cap, Gill. You’re stupid. So unsuccessful and stupid.’ He waddles out of his room and down the hall to the bathroom to grab a towel. On the way back, Gill momentarily stops at the door and closes his eyes, as to focus his ears.

The air is still; nobody is walking around downstairs, nobody is watching the television. That’s good.

Gill returns to his room and throws the towel on the wet spot in his carpet, stomping it down with his feet to soak up all the water. That done, he moseys on over to his desk and turns on his computer to check if he had any sales last night.

As the son of Bill Milligan, Gill was one of the first mogul-to-bes to start a business and open up his own store on Buyify. His company is called Gill Bottles, and through it, Gill sells old glass bottles – beer, soda, milk, you name it – that he finds buried in the leaves while out exploring the woods behind the pond on Fricker. According to the owner of the auction hall across the dam, there’s a big market out there for antique glass bottles (so long as they’re in good condition), and Gill’s bottles are pristine – no scratches, no unsightly cracks or chips, and every time he finds a new one, he always takes it into the bath with him and scrubs all the dirt off by hand. He puts all of his effort, all the effort in the world into selling his bottles; but yet, like all the other days since he opened this store back in high school, Gill has no sales. Zip, zero, zilch. On the upside, Gill knows that this can’t possibly be a dream. Like his Father said: if he was dreaming, he’d be a lot more successful, now wouldn’t he?


Hello Commons, this has been the third subchapter of the eighth story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.

Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.

Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

The Pattern – Convenient Incidents (38/84)

The Incense Salesman
And the Wind Continues to Blow

The Pattern

The first robbery occurred on White Road. It targeted the smallest house, the one owned by a single man and his twentysomething son who weren’t at home at the time of the robbery because they were out doing this or that – they wouldn’t specify exactly where they were, partly because they wanted to see if the local police force would accuse them of robbing their own house, which they did, probably just because the men in question were both African American. Treeburg is a very Caucasian town, you see; hell, one neighborhood off the back end of Stonetown Road was colonized by a gaggle of German families who flocked to the states around the 1950s, and if that doesn’t do some explaining for you, then you need to get your head checked.

Nothing of any real value was stolen, mostly just knickknacks, artsy decor pieces, and action figures from the twentysomething’s collection in the basement – unboxed action figures specifically, the ones of lower value. At first the dad and son wished they had been home so they could have dealt with the robber themselves, but after the second robbery, they changed their tune and decided to be thankful.

The second robbery occurred in a house on Fricker Drive a few weeks after the first robbery went down. There was just one guy living there at the time, a man in his mid-twenties who took care of the house for his parents in exchange for room and board. The parents – and the guy’s little brother – all moved to Boca a few years back, and when their Treeburg boy wouldn’t answer their phone calls, they started calling the neighbors. Only one guy answered their calls – that guy being Mister Williamson, the one who owns the majority of the houses on Fricker Drive – and when he went over to check on the boy, Mister Williamson found that he had been deceased for quite a few days. Or weeks, but probably days; Williamson is a head doctor, and even though the boy died from blunt force trauma to his head, Williamson couldn’t make an accurate analysis. Williamson is a very sensitive human, you see, and the smell inside the house made him wish the robber got him instead. He couldn’t bear to spend much time wafting it in.

On the bright side, the victim likely didn’t feel any pain, as (according to the certified examiners) he was taking a dip in a deep brown bottle when he had his run-in with the robber; but, it was still a tragedy, a tragedy only made more uncomfortable by Mister Williamson’s subsequent attempts to buy up that house over the phone. The family did end up selling it to him – they couldn’t bear to come back to the place where their son died (along with his lack of ambition), plus they didn’t want to spontaneously interrupt their lives just to come clean out whatever junk their failure of a son left behind. But I’m beginning to digress.

Again, nothing of any real value was stolen during the second robbery (aside from the young man’s life); only decor pieces and the random mancave stuff the guy had scattered around the house. At the time of the second robbery, this detail was seen as a simple string of coincidences, a string which the detectives assigned to the case adamantly refused to weave into a pattern because of the inconsistencies prevalent in the cases, namely that one robbery involved a murder and the other didn’t – the burglars were clearly different perpetrators with different motives. However, when the pattern was seemingly repeated in the third robbery, the one that happened tonight in the first house on Barnstatter Path where all the police officers are gathered, they decided it couldn’t hurt to look at all the potential possibilities.

Normally such a police presence isn’t called for in Treeburg no matter what crime is committed, especially for a simple break and entry, but this is the Milligan household that was broken into and entered, home to Bill Milligan, the founder and proprietor of Buyify, the world’s leading ecommerce/social network platform. Moguls from all over the world set up profiles with Buyify to keep tabs on one another and run businesses which they all buy and sell from each other, and Bill Milligan gets a cut of every transaction, no matter how many zeroes are involved – and there are often a lot of zeroes involved. Stated simply, Bill Milligan has pull in this small town, and now that the robber’s existence has affected him directly, he wants the perp bagged, tagged, and roasted in an oven like the turkey he is. This means the police want the robber bagged and tagged as soon as possible; unfortunately, that’s not going to happen tonight because they only have one witness to question: Gill Milligan, the only Milligan offspring and the legal heir to the Buyify throne, and he slept right through the invasion. That means he had nothing to offer the officers but disappointment, and so the robber got off free again.

Now, with all that said and out of the way, the actual story can begin.


Hello Commons, this has been the second subchapter of the eighth story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.

Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.

Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Barnstatter Path – Convenient Incidents (37/84)

The Incense Salesman
And the Wind Continues to Blow

Barnstatter Path

Barnstatter Path, the last old-fashioned unpaved dirt road in all of Treeburg, is normally a quiet stretch of woodlands. Located at the midpoint of a steep hill that’ll make a half-marathon runner feel crippled with exhaustion just driving up it, it’s neighbored above by one White Road – home to a slew of unimaginably wealthy and successful African American families and a single token house of Native Americans who hit the jackpot when they bought the local watering hole and renovated the basement speakeasy into a casino – and below by one Fricker Drive, a pond-butted stretch of bumpy asphalt along which more than half the houses are owned by one dude because all the families keep moving away.

Across the street from the pond, asphalt gives way to dirt and Fricker’s end becomes Barnstatter’s halfway point. This junction is far wider than the rest of either road and rarely traveled, so the locals like to use it as a parking lot of sorts. At one point, Fricker’s pond was the local hotspot and block parties were held there every weekend, but these days it’s more the forest beyond the pond that attracts the foot traffic. One dude – the older son of the first family to evacuate Fricker Drive – was just crazy enough to carve out an absolute snake’s nest of trailways through the whole forest around Fricker Drive before he mysteriously disappeared one day while hiking alone back there, and now that he’s gone, everyone else in the area feels comfortable enough to walk on his trails. Normally there’s plenty of room to park by the pond without worrying about getting your paintjob scraped by the swinging open of someone else’s car door; normally, it’s the perfect place to hike because the only sounds are birds chirping and tree frogs meeping right back; normally, the first neighborhoods on the left after crossing over the Monksville Dam are a beautifully pleasant place to live, laugh, love, and if you’re fortunate enough, to do all three.

Normally, that is, but not as of late, and especially not tonight. Lately there’s been a flagrant string of break-ins on this side of the Monksville Dam, the latest of which went down just now. Half the town’s police cars are currently parked beside the pond at the end of Fricker; the other half of them are parked along the front half of Barnstatter Path in a long single file line leading to the Milligan house, the home of the wealthiest family in all of Treeburg.


Hello Commons, this has been the first subchapter of the eighth story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.

Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.

Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Last Wishes – Convenient Incidents (36/84)

The Incense Salesman
Being Liam

Last Wishes

At the end of a wonderful day off spent mingling with his beloved wife, who was only a girlfriend when he first got hired by Liam, Marty returns to the last house on Thisroad Street – number 123, the one at the end of the cul-de-sac – to find the air inside icy and chilled, as if old boy Liam turned the air conditioner too low. But that’s impossible, Liam can hardly get out of bed (thank God for the winning combo of a catheter and a colostomy bag, thank Him and praise Him), he couldn’t have reached the thermostat.

It’s at this moment that Marty realizes he forgot to give Liam his pills. He nearly trips over the stair chair on his way upstairs.

The door to Liam’s bedroom – the same bedroom with the same bed he slept in as a kid, because that’s what he insisted on, the old kook – is cracked open. Marty busts in with enough force to almost knock the door off its hinges, and he finds exactly what he was afraid he would, that very thing which he’s been expecting for years: Liam somehow managed to get himself into his scooter, probably in an attempt to get out into the bathroom where Marty keeps the pills, possibly so he could make a new video, and passed away on the way there. Then Marty notices the camera on the old man’s lap, and he can’t help but spare a sad smile – even after all these years, Liam was still doing the one thing he loved: Being Liam. Liam got to keep Being Liam all the way until the end.

Letting the camcorder fall to the floor, Marty lifts the eighty-pound cadaver, which is stuck in an awful slump because of the rigor mortis, out of the scooter and carries him downstairs, sitting him down on the dusty living room couch Marty took the liberty of covering with plastic about five years ago. He gets on the phone and calls the myriad of doctors Liam would occasionally see, then the funeral home, and lastly, the accountant. He arranges for a car to come in one hour, which should give him plenty of time to get Liam all cleaned up. After the body’s gone, Marty will pack up his stuff and probably head straight for his own house – after taking a shower, that is – and let the accountant settle the rest.

Marty draws a warm bath in the master bathroom, then goes upstairs to fetch Liam’s camcorder. Liam wasn’t a man of many last wishes; in fact, he only had one: to be buried with the tool of his trade, that which allowed him to keep on Being Liam. It fell under the desk, and as he stands back up, Marty notices a curious scorch mark next to Liam’s keyboard. There’s a box of matches in the top drawer, too… it appears as if Liam had tried to start a fire.

‘Maybe he was trying to make a smoke signal,’ Marty thinks to himself with a slightly guilty smile as he runs a finger through the soot. Curiously enough, it comes up without leaving a trace. ‘Huh, that’s weird.’ Marty brushes the black dust into the garbage (and throws the box of matches in there too, just for the hell of it) and then takes out the trash. By then the bath is full, and as Marty carries Liam in through the door, the white light of the bathroom engulfs their form like sunlight on an old camcorder’s viewfinder.


Hello Commons, this has been the last subchapter of the seventh story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.

Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.

Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

A Wish – Convenient Incidents (35/84)

The Incense Salesman
Being Liam

A Wish

Liam spends his whole life posting his Being Liam videos, just like he wished for. He graduates high school with Cs and Ds in all of his classes, just barely skating by. He never goes to college like his parents want, nay, implore him to, instead getting himself a job sweeping the floors a couple days a week in one of the warehouses in the Treeburg industrial park down the road from the Monksville Reservoir. The job is part time and it doesn’t pay much, but it gets him by well enough – Liam never accumulates many bills, as his trusty camcorder and desktop computer miraculously stand up to the test of time and pass it with flying colors, which is more than Liam could do on his own tests. He never gets any views on his videos either, not even on the memorial projects he puts together when his parents eventually pass through the veil, and nobody else ever leaves any comments wanting to be Liam’s YouTube friend.

When his parents died, they left Liam the house and a very fat life insurance payout, which Liam used to hire an accountant who remotely takes care of all of his bills for him. Liam shops online, having his groceries, toiletries, clothing, and everything else he might need delivered to his doorstep, and he makes a brand-new Being Liam video every single day.

Until, that is, the day comes when he feels too weak to get out of bed. He makes two videos the next day to compensate.

Never one to get much exercise, Liam’s physical health began to deteriorate in his forties. By the time he was fifty he had to use a cane, and when year fifty-five came around the number of canes doubled. By sixty he was unable to hold himself up, even with the canes, and so he had to resort to a scooter and a stair chair. Liam eventually wound up hiring a hospice nurse named Marty, and the guy stayed with old boy Liam for about two decades longer than he thought he would have to, but he never quit. Liam’s a bit of an eccentric, always making his little videos, but the guy pays well enough. He’s the definition of a minimalist, and so his parents’ life insurance fortune hardly has a dent in it by the time his eighty-fifth birthday rolls around. Liam gives Marty the morning off that day as a birthday gift (Liam and Marty share the same birthday, that’s why Liam picked him), and for the first time in years, he has the strength to get himself out of bed and into his scooter. With the house to himself, Liam scoots over to his desk and wrestles open the top drawer to get his video camera out of the lock box, and that’s when his memory kicks into gear: he still has the other incense cone from all those years ago. He still has a wish left.

Liam sets the camcorder on his lap and takes out the burner and the leftover box. He places the burner on the desk (although drops is more accurate) and, with a hand as still as a chihuahua in the cold, Liam eventually manages to get the cone to stand up in the depression. It’s a lot straighter than the other one; unlike the trout in Liam’s trousers, which never got much use over the course of his life, the cone stands tall and proud, reaching for the ceiling with its rounded, unbroken tip. How it lasted through the years is beyond Liam, but perhaps it doesn’t matter. Even though he can’t pee the bed anymore because of the catheter his nurse insisted he get, there’s no reason for Liam to stress, and so with great effort, he strikes a match (he keeps the box in his top drawer now, next to the lockbox, as the old coffee cup cabinet is now full of paper towels and other flammables) and lights the incense.

A few minutes pass and nothing happens, but then Liam bears witness to that which he missed all those years ago when he ran outside to fetch his camcorder from the pond that’s since been filled in and turned into a memorial flower garden for his late mom and dad. The smoke swirls and twirls into itself, the whitish gray haze thickening until it forms a solid pale gray ball. The ball grows in size, morphing into the form of a cut human torso which sprouts a pair of muscular arms out of the side and a smaller pair of stubby, handless arms out of the front (ah, to find oneself Being Liam). From the shoulders grows a head, and from the head flows a sleek torrent of dark blue hair with alternating strips of gold, light blue, and dark blue ornaments capping the ends. A bird with light blue feathers forms on the woman’s head, and when she opens her eyes and stares down at the ancient, scooterbound Liam, he feels things which he has never felt before.

Then, she speaks, her voice a red velvet cake.

“State your name, boy.”

“Liam,” states Liam through toothless gums.

“Liam,” repeats the djinn, folding her strong shoulder arms in front of her stubby chest arms. “Very well. In burning the cone, you have awoken me; in order to return to rest, I must grant you a wish. Choose your words care–”

This time around, Liam just doesn’t have the energy, nor the youthful exuberance, to cut the djinn off.

“–fully, for you shall have your wish granted, your highest desires fulfilled, but it shall cost you the price of your undying soul. And unlike my husband, I mean to collect.”

The eyes of the pale blue bird open. They glow redder than a blood moon, a color Liam has never seen before.

Again, Liam does not hesitate. “I wish for my youth, genie. That is all I have ever lost, and all I could ever want.”

The lady djinn offers a sinister smirk. “Very well, Liam.” She snaps her fingers and Liam closes his eyes, as he wants to avoid the spark show, but when he opens them, the cone is still smoking, the ghoulish djinn is still floating on the incense smoke, and the bird on her head is standing up on two feet. Liam is still ancient, his bones still brittle, his muscles still weak.

“I don’t feel any different, Missus Genie,” he says, looking at his wrinkled, arthritic hands.

The djinn’s smile morphs into an evil grimace, spreading from cheek to cheek like a plague of locusts over Egypt. “You have wished yet again for something you already had, foolish mortal. Age is a mindstate, youth nothing more than an attitude, and as a creative – though a belligerently unsuccessful one, I must say; in your wish for Being Liam, you were cursed to stay the same, never to evolve, nor to change your name – your mind has remained as young as it was the day you were born.”

“N…no…” is all Liam can manage, as his breath is growing short. He didn’t take his pills, his nurse left for his birthday day off before he thought of giving Liam his pills, and it’s all coming crashing down.

The bird on the pharaoh’s head spans its powdery teal wings and bellows a hiss from its beak. It takes flight, and the last thing Liam sees is the bird’s piercing ruby red eyes as the winged fiend dives straight for the center of his forehead.


Hello Commons, this has been the fifth subchapter of the seventh story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.

Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.

Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

The Free Sample – Convenient Incidents (34/84)

The Incense Salesman
Being Liam

The Free Sample

There’s still no reply when Liam checks his messages first thing in the morning, but that’s okay. He tells himself over and over that it’s okay, that Smells didn’t get murdered by crooks breaking into his house, that Smells is still alive and not sick or dying, that he’ll get back to Liam really, really soon.

Liam checks his messages again after setting up his camera to stare at the pond all day, but there’s still no reply.

Liam checks his messages on his cell phone during study hall (even though he’s not supposed to use his phone in school, but everyone else uses their phones and the teacher doesn’t care so if nobody’s going to enforce the rules then why stress about it? No peeing the bed for Liam, not anymore, plus, it’s almost summer anyway, who cares?), but there’s still no reply.

Liam checks the messages on his way home from the bus stop, but there’s still no reply. There is, however, a package waiting for him on his front steps when he gets to his house at the end of the cul-de-sac. It’s addressed to Liam, Being Liam specifically, and there’s no return address. No label, either, but Liam doesn’t sweat the small stuff, he’s trying to stress less these days, no more peeing the bed for Liam, so he takes his package up to his room and opens it, not even thinking to check on his camera in the back yard.

Inside the package are two wooden disks, each with a piece of soapstone in the middle. The stones are hard to describe as far as the colors go – Liam is color deficient and they just look blueish to him – but one is definitely paler than the other. Both stones have flower petals carved into them, and four little holes equally spaced around a cylindrical depression in the middle of the petals where the seeds would be if they were sunflower petals. Liam takes out the disks and notices a little bundle packed beneath them.

Upon closer inspection, Liam sees that this bundle is actually two boxes of Egyptian Musk incense cones wrapped in a note. The boxes bear the busts of two pharaohs facing each other, one male with gold jewelry around his neck and a blue and golden ornament falling from his head, and the other a lady with a pale blue bird laying on top of her dark blue hair which ends in alternating strips of golden, light blue, and dark blue ornaments. The note reads, in writing that looks like the pen was gripped by a claw:

Laim,
Surry I cudent answre, my cumpooter broked. Bet tzat’s ohkay, I hupe yew enjoi yeur fr33 djincense s4mpl3z!
Frum,
Smells

“Awh,” Liam says as a sad but accepting smile spreads across his face. “I’m sorry your computer broke too, Smells. I’ll miss ya, buddy.” Then, as little tears fall down his cheek, “Thank you for the free sample.”

Liam runs downstairs and takes the box of matches out of the cabinet where his folks keep the coffee cups and filters and stuff, then runs right back up to his bedroom, excited to burn his free incense samples. When he opens the first box though, there’s only one cone inside.

“Huh, that’s weird.”

What’s weirder: there’s only one cone inside the other box as well. Liam chocks it up to being a free sample and decides not to stress himself out. He takes the paler of the two disks – ‘Incense burners,’ he corrects himself – and pops one of the cones into the depression. It doesn’t stand perfectly straight up – in fact, it almost resembles the Leaning Tower of Pisa – but Liam lights it anyway, and the smell is… all right. It’s not amazing, but he can learn to enjoy it like an acquired taste, he guesses… maybe he should open a window.

Liam opens the window facing the back yard, and that’s when he remembers his time-lapse video. He glides down the stairs like a flying squirrel through the air and runs outside, and thankfully his camera is still there. Liam decides he has plenty of footage for the time-lapse and takes the camera back inside.

And that’s when he meets the djinn.

Its lower body has no legs, it simply drifts into form from the smoke of the burning incense cone. Its torso is jacked and cut like a sculpture of granite. Its skin is a dead, pale gray, its hair is black, and it wears a thin gold crown from which falls a blue and gold ornament, just like the male pharaoh on the incense cone box.

“State your name, boy,” bellows the djinn in a voice deeper than a hole dug to China, and Liam almost drops to his knees, but his hold on his camera keeps him upright. If only there was a way to capture an image of this incredible metaphysical being, to share its existence with the world… but nothing comes to Liam’s mind, and so he merely states his name.

“Liam,” repeats the mighty djinn, folding his bulging arms. “Very well. In burning the cone, you have awoken me; in order to return to rest, I must grant you a wish. Choose your words care–”

There is zero hesitation. “I wish to keep Being Liam!”

The djinn pauses. “Ex… excuse me?”

“My YouTube channel, Being Liam! I want to keep posting my videos my whole life, I don’t want anything to stop me. That’s what I wish for, Mister Genie. To keep Being Liam all the way to the end.”

The djinn doesn’t even smile – it’s never been this easy. Then again, the human is never this young, nor is its voice ever this high in pitch. “Very well, Liam.” With a snap of his mighty fingers, the djinn disappears and the incense cone instantaneously burns down to the soapstone. The soapstone – and the rest of the burner – then ignites in a shower of sparks like someone lit the tip of a triple-dipped sparkler, forcing Liam to shield his eyes. The sparks land on Liam’s floor, his bed, his computer and keyboard, they even land on Liam himself, but he is not burned, not even tickled. There is simply a scorch mark on his desk where the burner once sat, a scorch mark that blows away without the need for a gust of wind, leaving not a single trace.

At least, that’s how it seems until Liam remembers he left his window open. Feeling no different at all, Liam closes his window and plugs his camera into the computer to start the brief editing process for his time-lapse video. It doesn’t take much, just a quick speed-up in Windows Movie Maker, and as the final product is being rendered and exported, he thinks of the second burner and box. Liam thinks of all the possibilities, all the different things he could wish for… and then locks the back half of his free sample into the lock box in his drawer. He’s got time to decide yet, and besides, he already wished for the one thing he could ever want: to keep Being Liam.


Hello Commons, this has been the fourth subchapter of the seventh story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.

Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.

Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

YouTube Friends – Convenient Incidents (33/84)

The Incense Salesman
Being Liam

YouTube Friends

Mom’s garlic kale salad and mac’n’chicken casserole are to die for tonight, just like every night she cooks them up – they are her signature dishes, after all – and Liam eats himself two helpings of each to replenish himself after all that hard work. Dad and mom get to washing the dishes and Liam carries his plate and fork to the sink to help, but then he’s right upstairs to finally do his work for the day. He helped his dad, he helped his mom, and now it’s time to help himself.

Liam rips the footage from his camera and uploads it straight to YouTube – why even bother editing it? He’s a genius, plain and simple, and every video he puts together is perfecto from the get-go; besides, it’s getting late – at this point, editing would just be wasting time.

While he’s waiting out the processing process, Liam notices a little red circle next to the bell icon in the top right corner of the screen.

“A notification…?” he wonders out loud, having never gotten one before. He clicks the bell and then, screaming at the top of his lungs, Liam announces, “SOMEONE LEFT ME A COMMENT! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” to his empty bedroom. He doesn’t even read the whole thing, but rather clicks the link and goes straight to his video to read the comment like he was a Little Liam. It’s on his seventy-third video (he keeps track in his head and remembers exactly what he did for every one of his videos, a sign of genius), a clip of him going to a park and watching other kids fly kites. The comment, from a user named Smells, reads:

Kool vidoe! Wanma b3 YouToob frienbs?

“Awh,” Liam says to himself, “he must be a challenged Little Liam who doesn’t know how to spell right. He’s putting himself out there just like I’m doing with my Being Liam videos, that’s so wholesome!” Not knowing how right he is, Liam replies back:

Yeah, let’s be YouTube friends! I’ll send you a message right now!

And so Liam does send this Smells a message, and to his utter and inexpressible ecstasy, he gets a reply in a matter of minutes! Being Liam and Smells go on to message each other back and forth all night, talking about memes and movies and the video games Liam wants to start recording himself playing for his channel. Their conversation continues on into the next day, then the next day, then the next day, they keep in constant communication for days that turn into days that turn into even more days. Liam keeps putting out his really great Being Liam videos every day, and although they never get any views (not even the old kite video had any views, even though Smells had to have watched it in order to comment on it – must be because of YouTube’s broken algorithm or something) Liam and Smells keep on talking about absolutely nothing at all, never getting to know each other, never sharing any information about themselves.

Until, one day, Smells reveals that he’s a salesman. The exact message reads:

Hay, byw, I seIl djincense burneys. Wood yew liek a fr3e sample?

Liam is taken aback by the unbridled kindness and generosity of Smells, so much so that he actually touches a hand to his chest. He replies back:

Definitely! Thank you, Smells! My address is 123 Thisroad Street, Wanaque NJ 07478. When should I expect them?

But Liam doesn’t get an answer, not within the five-minute window all the other messages arrived in. So he sits patiently and waits for five more minutes, but those five minutes turn into ten, into twenty, into a whole hour. Liam decides not to think about it, stressing always makes him pee the bed and he wants to not pee the bed anymore (almost as bad as he wants to keep Being Liam), so he gets back to posting today’s video. Coincidentally enough, today’s clip was a return trip to the Monksville Dam – Liam shot it from the other side of the bridge as last time so he could take his walk in the opposite direction. He still hasn’t gotten any views on any of his videos, but that’s all right, that just means he has to up his game, which he is. Hence the swap in sideage.

Liam sits up at his computer for hours waiting for a reply from Smells, but it never comes. When the clock strikes 9:00 (a very late night for our Liam), he decides he’d better get to bed. Smells probably just fell asleep on the keyboard. ‘That Smells, he’s such a character.’ He’ll probably get back to Liam tomorrow. Besides, Liam needs to get up early so he can set up his camera to do a time-lapse of his dad’s pond. He likes to do one of these every week; they’re Liam’s favorite videos to make because he helped build the pond, so technically it’s his pond too, which he makes sure to mention twice – at the beginning before the time starts lapsing and at the end after the time unlapses – in every one of the time-lapse videos.

After checking his empty inbox one last time, Liam powers off his computer, stashes his video camera in his special lockbox he keeps in his top desk drawer, and then hits the hay. Much to his mom’s surprise (and relief), Liam doesn’t pee the bed that night.


Hello Commons, this has been the third subchapter of the seventh story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.

Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.

Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Video Games – Convenient Incidents (32/84)

The Incense Salesman
Being Liam

Video Games

‘Oh no…’ Liam thinks to himself from the back seat as his mom’s car rolls to a stop in the driveway. ‘He’s out there again. He’s not gonna let me keep Being Liam.’

Liam’s dad waves to his wife and son with a smile on his face, then gets right back to work.

“I’mnotgonnahelphim…” Liam mumbles to himself, stroking the camera in his lap as though it is a cat.

“What a great idea, Liam!” whistles Liam’s mom who clearly has cotton swabs stuffed in her earholes. “I’m sure your father will appreciate you helping him.” She gets out of the car before Liam can protest and heads inside to get Liam’s bedding washed. She’s not sure why Liam is still wetting the bed at fourteen years old, but lots of other kids probably do. Their mothers are probably just as mortified about it as she is, that’s why none of them will admit it whenever she brings it up at the weekly book club.

When his mom goes inside, Liam releases a groan the likes of which a mother bison giving birth couldn’t even manage. He gets no sympathy from the interior of the vehicle. Leaving his precious camcorder underneath the back seat (so no hoodlums can steal it while he’s out working), Liam pours himself out of the car and drags his feet over to the edge of their front yard where the grass turns to forest. His dad is working with some five-gallon pails. Liam leaves a clear set of tracks in the grass behind him.

“Hidad…” Liam mumbles, his lips hardly moving at all.

“Well hey there, sport! Come to give your ol’ dad a helping hand?”

“Iguess…” Liam mumbles, wishing he had just kept his big mouth shut so he could get his new video online and play his video games.

“I appreciate that, buddy! So look,” as he gestures to the pails and the stream of river rocks running parallel to the road. “These have been over here since we moved in, and they just drive me and your mother insane. I’m gonna use them to build a pond with a little river and a waterfall in the backyard, but we have to move ‘em all back there first.” He stands up and slaps some of the mud off the knees of his work jeans. “One bucket’s already full, I’m gonna carry it yonder. They’re probably too heavy for you, so you just fill ‘em on up with the smooth rocks – don’t worry about the jagged ones, you can just leave ‘em or toss ‘em off into the woods or somethin’ – and I’ll be the ferry. Does that sound good?”

Liam doesn’t confirm nor deny this, he just starts picking the smooth rocks out of the muddy gully and limply tossing them into the empty pail. It’s hard, but his dad manages to smile.

“Thank you, son. Be right back!”

After thirty seconds, Liam thinks to himself, ‘Wow, it’s a lot harder to move rocks in real life than it is in video games,’ but he keeps on plugging along. Because he’s Liam, because he’s Being Liam, and so he’s gonna give it his best shot, whatever he’s doing. Even though it’s keeping him from uploading today’s video, he’s going to give it his best shot.

Liam and his dad get about ten buckets of rocks moved from the gully in the front yard to the pile in the backyard, then call it quits. It’s about dinner time anyway, they can get the rest of the rocks tomorrow. Or the next day, or the next day – the pond is a side project, nowhere near as important as Liam’s daily upload, so he doesn’t pay it any more thoughts after the work is done. After fishing his camera out of the car, Liam runs inside and stashes it in his room, then washes up for dinner.


Hello Commons, this has been the second subchapter of the seventh story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.

Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.

Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~

Posted in Writings

Little Liams – Convenient Incidents (31/84)

The Incense Salesman
Being Liam

Little Liams

A dark silhouette with a big round head and hunched up shoulders dominates the camcorder’s viewfinder. Brilliant white light fills in the gaps around its form, and no matter how many times he hits the focus button, the lighting just doesn’t change. Then, he turns so his back is facing the water – that is, away from the sun – and the color fills in like winter turning to spring.

“There we go, good golly!” hums Liam. Then, to all the Little Liams around him, “Well thanks for coming out today, everyone! I finally got it focused, we’re going to start rolling in just a bit!”

Nobody acknowledges Liam. He takes this as a sign of respect and starts the countdown in his head.

‘Ten, nine, eight… five… threetwoone let’s go!’ and hits the record button.

“Hello, my Little Liams! This is your buddy Liam, and you’re watching Being Liam, the best YouTube channel in the whole wide world! Today we’re at the illustrated Monksville Dam,” the word illustrated pronounced as if he was trying to say the word illustrious but took a wrong turn. He turns the camera to the right so it’s facing the sun again and the picture gets completely washed out. “That’s the bridge there, it dams off the Monksville Reservoir over in Treeburg, and as you can see, it’s just so glorious! I can’t believe this beautiful sceneryic place to be is just a short twenty-five-minute drive up the county road from my place in Wanaque!”

Liam does a slow sweep to the left, capturing a streetlight, the high concrete barrier which prevents the sadder folks from easily jumping off and plummeting down the one hundred feet into the lower Wanaque Reservoir on the other side of the dam, another streetlight, then the little grassy patch on the side of the road with a few bushes, a plaque commemorating the Monksville Reservoir and Dam, and a flagpole, and then the parking lot, which currently hosts four motorcycles for every car parked.

There are three cars parked, one of which belongs to Liam’s mom, who locked her doors the moment Liam hopped out.

“As you can see, my Little Liams,” Liam gushes into the lens of his camcorder, spraying only a tiny bit of spittle, “a whole lotta guys and gals came out for the big video shoot today! It means the world to me that so many of my Little Liams support my YouTube channel, that so many support me Being Liam. Let’s say hi!”

Liam turns his camera to face the parking lot, where all the bikers are congregated. He waves at them, though the camcorder doesn’t capture it, and seven of the bikers flip him the bird.

“Wow! Tough crowd!” Liam squeals with glee. He’s happy just to get their attention. “Thanks for the interviews, guys!”

After the interviews, Liam power walks down to the opposite end of the dam and back, the camera capturing each labored huff and puff to escape the mucous-lined passageway that is his throat. He’s a terribly self-conscious dude, our Liam, and he’s sure some viewers are going to think he’s a smoker, but that’s all right. After all, at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what Liam thinks about himself, and Liam knows he doesn’t smoke. Liam’s out here Being Liam, and that’s what’s important.

“Well, my Little Liams, thank you for joining me for today’s Being Liam video! I hope you guys enjoyed Being Liam with me, because I sure enjoyed it myself. See you all tomorrow!”

With today’s video shoot wrapped, Liam slaps the viewfinder closed and heads towards the parking lot where his mom is waiting to take him home. Another successful day of Being Liam.


Hello Commons, this has been the first subchapter of the seventh story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.

Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.

Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here.

Be well Commons~