Happy New Year!

As we prepare for the annual ritual of replacing our wall calendars, I’d like to thank all of you for continuing to follow my blog. For my fellow bloggers, I hope 2013 has been successful, and that 365 days from now you’ll be able to look back on an even more productive year.

I also want to acknowledge reaching a personal milestone in 2013 — posting every day of the year. I still have no idea where this blog will lead me, but I now feel that writing here is much like eating: I can’t imagine going a day without it, and try to enjoy the activity each time instead of seeing it as a burdensome obligation.

I won’t go into details of my plans for 2014, other than to say my current, unfortunate experiment (sorry, Claude and Fraud) will end very soon, and I’ll be returning to my novel in a big way. I hope you enjoy reading what I create as much as I know I’ll enjoy creating it!

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Claude and Fraud Do Something 2B

The next evening, Claude entered the apartment he shared with Fraud. Claude was wearing his beige jacket, but he was not wearing the hood that didn’t fit his head properly.

“What happened to your hood?” asked Fraud, looking up at Claude from where he was sitting in his green corduroy recliner, his extended legs crossed and resting on the  matching ottoman.

“I removed it,” answered Claude, “because it did not fit my head properly. I am now wearing this wool stocking cap.”

Fraud nodded. “It seems to fit your head properly.”

“Yes, it does,” said Claude, removing the wool stocking cap, his hair reaching up as static electricity crackled above him. “Why aren’t you reading your newspaper?” asked Claude, pointing to a newspaper wrapped in plastic and lying next to Fraud’s green corduroy recliner.

“Because,” replied Fraud, “I’m trying to think of what we can do next.”

Claude and Fraud Do Something 2A

“Do you, also, think this is a good party?” Maude asked Logarithm.

Logarithm shook her head. “I actually don’t care whether this is a good party or not. I only raised my right hand because I realized that CLAUDE AND FRAUD were finally able to DO SOMETHING!”

“What?” said Claude.

“Cool,” said Fraud.

“Please explain,” said Maude.

“There was no DRAMA when this party started,” explained Logarithm. “It was BORING — people just SITTING and TALKING
about NOTHING IMPORTANT.  But when SHELLEY said she did NOT think it was a GOOD PARTY, we HAD . . .” Logarithm looked invitingly around the room.

Jeff’s roommate said “Suspense!”

Jeff, the sister of Jeff’s roommate, said “Controversy!”

The Other said “Tension!”

“Exactly!” exclaimed Logarithm. “And Maude’S BRILLIANT solution to the PROBLEM gave the proper ENDING to this little DRAMA!”

“But if I came up with the solution,” protested Maude, “what makes you say that Claude and Fraud have finally done something?”

“Because,” explained Logarithm, “if Claude and Fraud had not tried to PARTICIPATE in your spontaneous creation of the mind earlier this week, you would not have told The Other that you had met them. And if Claude and Fraud had not GONE with you to the coffee shop, you would not have told them they were going to host this party. And if Claude and Fraud did not LIVE in this apartment, there would have been no place for this party to HAPPEN!”

“You could have had the party somewhere else,” said Fraud.

“Be quiet!” hissed Claude.

“Ah, but the party would not have been the same if it were somewhere else,” explained Maude. “We may not have had the same people at this party if it were somewhere else. Which means we may not have had the drama that we experienced, tonight, in your apartment.”

“Face it,” said Logarithm, turning to Claude and Fraud with a smile. “Because of who you are and the choices you have made — tonight, you were finally able to DO SOMETHING!”

“Hooray!” everyone shouted at exactly the same time. Then they celebrated Claude and Fraud doing something by dancing again, and at the end of the night they all agreed that it was a good party, even though nobody could tell Shelley who would win the election.

Claude and Fraud Do Something 1Z

“Who do you think will win the election?” Claude asked The Other.

“I don’t know,” said The Other, so they all ate popcorn and drank beer and listened to music until the doorbell rang again. This time Fraud opened the door. “Hello Jeff,” said Fraud to Jeff, who was standing outside the door. He was with Jeff, his roommate, and Jeff, who worked with Jeff, and Jeff, her sister. And after they had come in more people arrived and before long there were so many people in the apartment that two people had to sit on the ottoman which matched Fraud’s green corduroy recliner.

An hour later, Jeff said “I think this is a good party.”

“I agree,” said The Other.

“What does everyone else think?” asked Maude. “Everyone who thinks this is a good party, raise your right hand. Everyone who does not think this is a good party, raise your left hand.”

Hands went up. Maude counted 12 right hands and 3 left hands.  “But wait,” he said, “there are only 14 people here. Why then do I count 15 hands?”

“Because Jeff voted twice!” said The Other, pointing to Jeff, who still had both hands in the air.

“Oh, all right,” said Jeff, blushing. He put his left hand down.

“Thank you, Jeff. That means only two people — Shelley and Logarithm — do not think this is a good party. Can I ask you two why you think this way?”

“Because,” said Shelley, “nobody is dancing. I don’t like parties if there isn’t any dancing.”

“Well then,” said Maude, “let’s dance!” They turned up the music and everyone danced. First they played a fast song and they all danced in the middle of the room, then they played another fast song and they formed a dance line and they danced as a group. Then they played a slow song and everyone chose a partner and they danced slow, then they played another fast song which was really long and they all danced in the middle of the room until everyone (even The Other) fell to the floor exhausted.

“Do you change your vote now?” Maude asked Shelley.

“Yes,” she said, throwing his right hand into the air.  And at exactly the same moment, Logarithm raised her right hand too.

Claude and Fraud Do Something 1Y

“Come in — the party’s just about to begin,” said Claude at precisely 7:54 that Friday evening, as he opened the door to the apartment he shared with Fraud. Outside the door were a middle-aged man with a receding hairline, and a teenaged girl with spiked hair.

“Hello, Shelly and Sherry,” said Maude, standing behind Claude. Maude remembered they had volunteered to participate in the spontaneous creation of the mind she had tried to organize the other evening in the parking lot of the bank, which was once again closed.

“Hello Maud,” said Shelly.

“No, it’s pronounced Maude,” replied Maude. “And is your name pronounced Shelly or Shelley?”

“Shelly,” said Shelly.

“It rhymes with Jelly, or Belly,” explained Sherry.

“Where’s Fraud?” asked Shelly, looking around the room. “I’d heard that he is usually sitting in his green corduroy chair with matching ottoman and reading his newspaper.” Shelly pointed to the green corduroy chair with matching ottoman. Fraud was not there. A newspaper lay on the ottoman.

“He’s in the bathroom,” said Claude.

“Hello, Shelly. Hello, Sherry,” said Fraud, coming out of the bathroom.

“Hello, Fraud,” said everyone in the room at exactly the same time. Claude then smiled broadly and said, “Let the party begin!”

They ate some chips and drank beer and talked about the election. “Who do you think will win?” asked Shelly.  “I don’t know,” said Fraud. She asked Sherry and Claude and Maude, but they didn’t know either. Then Claude made some popcorn and the doorbell rang and Fraud opened the door and The Other came in.

“Hello,” said everyone to The Other.

“Hello everyone,” said The Other.

Claude and Fraud Do Something 1X

“What makes you think we didn’t already have plans to do something Friday night?” asked Claude, sounding indignant as he stared back at Maude, who spelled her name Maud but pronounced it as Maude.

“What were you planning on doing?” asked Fraud.

“I don’t know,” replied Claude. “The reality is that I did not have plans to do anything Friday evening. And neither did Fraud.” Claude leaned forward, raised the index finger of his right hand above the center of the table where he, Fraud, and Maude were sitting, and continued speaking. “But here is the point. Whatever plan we came up with, for whatever it was that we would do, would be something that we did. This party at our apartment — that is something you have done.” He lowered his index finger, and pointed it towards Maude. “You — you have stolen our ability to do something!”

“But I haven’t done anything,” replied Maude. “I’ve just made a plan for Friday evening. Planning and doing are not the same thing. You can plan to do something, but since nothing ever works as planned, you can’t really say that anything has been done until your plan is completed. So it really doesn’t matter that I’ve made a plan for you and Fraud to do something Friday evening, because when Friday evening comes, that plan won’t matter any  more — you and Fraud will then have the opportunity to do something.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” replied Claude, shaking his head.

“But I do,” said Fraud, as he rose from his stool and sang:

Something is planned, but nothing is done
Until somebody works under the sun;
It’s like baking a cake, but only less fun
Like tying your shoes, or shooting a gun

Claude and Fraud Do Something 1W

“Hello,” said Maude to her phone. “Yes. No. OK, I’ll let Claude and Fraud know. Thank you. Goodbye.” Maude then lowered the phone from her air, and pressed its surface.

“What are you going to let us know?” asked Fraud.

Maude smiled. “You and Claude are hosting a party at your apartment. Friday, tomorrow night.”

Claude’s eyes widened in surprise. Since he did not have to ask when or where, he asked, “Why? How?”

“I sent a text message to a friend when Officer Bartleby stopped our spontaneous creation of the mind this evening,” explained Maude, who spelled her name Maud but pronounced it as Maude. “I mentioned that there were two men named Claude and Fraud with me, and then he sent a reply that he thought he knew you.”

She turned to Claude. “He asked me if one of you had a beige jacket with a hood that didn’t fit his head properly. I said yes, and he said that was Claude. Then I asked him if Fraud liked to read newspapers, and he said yes. Then he asked me what the two of you were doing, and I said they were actually looking for something to do now that our spontaneous creation of the mind was canceled. That was when he called me, which is when you heard me say Hello, and asked if I thought it was a good idea for you two to host a party at your apartment, which is when you heard me say Yes.”

“But then you said No,” observed Claude. “Why did you say that?”

“Because my friend asked if I the two of you were planning to do something Friday.”

Claude and Fraud Do Something 1V

Claude sat down on his stool abruptly, and rubbed a hand back through his scalp. “This is insane. Every time we’re about to do something, or we think of something to do, another thing happens, and we still do nothing and can’t think of what else to do.”

Maude, who spelled her name Maud but pronounced it as Maude, laid a hand on Claude’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, Fraud. Something will be done soon.”

“I’m Claude,” said Claude.

Maude turned, pointed to Fraud. “But he’s — ”

“No, I’m Fraud,” said Fraud.

Maude darted her gaze back and forth between Claude and Fraud, confusion on her face, like a straight man in a vaudeville act having been hit with a cream pie. “But when we were about to begin our spontaneous creation of the mind in the parking lot of the bank, you said — ” she pointed to Fraud — “that you were both named Claude.”

“Yes,” said Fraud.

“But why?” said Maude, the confusion on her face giving way to a look of determination, the straight man wiping the cream from his eyes and demanding an explanation for the affront.

“Because you had asked us to play roles for your spontaneous creation of the mind,” explained Fraud. “And I thought that if I was going to play someone who wasn’t me, it would be more effective for me to be called by a different name.”

“Ah,” said Maude, sounding impressed.

“Oh,” said Claude, sounding depressed.

Suddenly, music was heard, coming from the direction of Maude’s pocket. Listen as the wind blows from across the great divide. Maude reached into her pocket, retrieved her phone, pressed its smooth surface, and raised it to her ear.

Claude and Fraud Do Something 1U

[Another week, another writing challenge from The Daily Post. One of the options for this challenge is to write “a character study of one person, told through snapshots of their December 23rds.” As usual, I’m working this in to the flow of my current project.]

“Perhaps we should go back to our apartment,” said Fraud to Claude.

Claude shook his head. “I don’t think that is a good idea. You’ll just sit back in your green corduroy recliner, put your feet on the matching ottoman, and read your newspaper.”

“What’s wrong with that?” asked Fraud.

Claude rolled his eyes. “Because every evening when I arrive at the apartment and take off my beige jacket with the hood that doesn’t fit my head properly, that’s what I see you doing.”

Maude, who spelled her name Maud but pronounced it as Maude, interrupted. “Every evening?”

“Yes!” insisted Claude. “Every evening since last December 23.”

Maude looked confused. “What happened last December 23?”

“There was no newspaper delivery that day,” explained Claude. “There was a big snowstorm the previous evening, and everything was shut down the next day.”

“So what did you do on that day?” asked Maude, turning to Fraud.

“The same thing I do every December 23,” explained Fraud.

Claude blinked, then glanced at a wall calendar he remembered seeing when they had walked in to the coffee shop. The date on the calendar was December 22. Claude stared back at Fraud. “You actually do something every December 23?” Fraud nodded. “I didn’t know that.”

“We’ve only shared an apartment for a year and a half,” explained Fraud. “Last December 23 was the snowstorm, so it was a coincidence that you didn’t see me doing what I normally do on that day.”

“But why December 23?” asked Maude.

“Because it’s two days before Christmas.”

Maude shook her head. “But what — ”

“Who cares?” interrupted Claude. “What I want to know, what is really important, is — ” Claude stood up from his stool, leaned over the table towards Fraud — “what is it that you do every December 23? What are you going to do tomorrow?”

Fraud smiled. “I am going to do nothing. Every year, on December 23, I’m going to take the day off from reading the newspaper.”

Claude and Fraud Do Something 1T

The woman in the green apron smiled nervously at Claude and Fraud. “Is there anything else I can do for you?” she asked.

Claude shook his head. “I’m afraid not. You see, our objective tonight is to do something, not having someone do something for us.”

The woman in the green apron took a step back. “Oh . . . kay.”

Fraud raised his coffee mug. “You could get me a refill.”

“Certainly!” exclaimed the woman in the green apron, stepping forward and grabbing the coffee mug from Fraud’s hands, before turning and sprinting away from their table. A moment later, Claude and Fraud were joined by Maude, who spelled her name Maud but pronounced it as Maude.

“What have you been doing?” asked Claude. Maude had entered the coffee shop with Claude and Fraud, but had excused herself as soon as they had found an empty table and removed their jackets.

Maude sighed heavily. “I’ve been asking people to participate in our spontaneous creation of the mind, but can’t find anyone who is interested.”

“You want to do it here?” asked Claude. Maude nodded. “But won’t Officer Bartleby object?” asked Fraud. He pointed to a corner of the coffee shop, where Officer Bartleby was sitting. He raised his coffee mug in their direction.

“Officer Bartleby only stopped our spontaneous creation of the mind because the police department received a complaint from the owners of the bank,” replied Maude. “I know the owner of The Nervous Dog, and have initiated several spontaneous creations of the mind here, so I don’t think we’ll have any trouble.”

“Great!” said Claude. “When do we start?”

Maude shook her head. “Unfortunately, we can’t. We need at least six people for this spontaneous creation of the mind. All the people from the bank parking lot have gone home, and none of the people in this shop want to participate.”

“I’ll participate,” said Officer Bartleby, raising his coffee mug again.

“But that makes only four people,” said Maude. “Our spontaneous creation of the mind cannot start with only four.”