Zippo, from Zombie Bits

I have a virtual notebook that I use for ideas, bits of writing that aren’t fully fleshed out stories. I realize that the zombie thing is over-played, but there’s something about a zombie apocalypse that makes me want to write about it (not live it).


He kept playing with a zippo lighter. Flipping it over, under, around his fingers. It was mesmerizing, hypnotic. Flicking it open but stopping at the last second; he never lit it.
“Does it still work?” Serena asked.
He paused. Got that look we all get at times when we remember a close call with the undead.
“Don’t know. Don’t think so,” he paused and she thought that would be all he said. He leaned over and showed it to her. It was plain silver, but had the initials, “M.C.” with a heart. “It was my wife’s. It was the first gift I got her, back when we started dating, as teenagers.” He barked out a sound that could’ve been a laugh. “She took such good care of this thing. Said every time she used it, she’d think of me. We were married as soon as we were legal. Would’ve been twenty years if… If this hadn’t happened.”
Serena didn’t say a word. She knew what was coming.
“They got her, early, two of those fucks got into our house and they, well, I woke up and they were on her. Didn’t even notice me in the same bed. And I… I knew what had to be done, but even though I bashed those two fucks’ heads in, I couldn’t do that to her.” He shuddered a sigh, but he was on a tangent. It was as if he’d forgotten Serena was there; had forgotten the other survivors in the bunker. It was like a poison that he had to get out. “She was unconscious, or dead, I don’t know. I tied her to our bed. I poured gasoline I’d siphoned from one of our cars around the bed. I couldn’t, oh, god, I couldn’t pour it on her. I picked up the lighter — this lighter,” he held it up, “And I bent over to give my Marcy, MY Marcy, my love, one last kiss. I must’ve had my eyes closed because I heard this growl and jumped back just as she lunged for me but the ropes held her back. I lit the lighter and touched it to the rug… She was struggling by then, thrashing, her eyes had that film and she was growling and I watched the flames get closer to the bed…”
“That’s when we showed up,” Jim came over and put an arm around the guy. “Me and Mikey see the door open and smell the flames. We run upstairs and find this guy about to jump into the flames.”
“What reason do I have to live without her?” He mumbled, and resumed doing his Zippo tricks. “None.”

[Taken from my old writer’s group blog, originally published 23 February 2015]

Blessed Be,
D.K. Stevens


PTSD: Some Photo Illustrations

PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a term that was originally designated for troops coming home from war. When I sought help at Safe Horizon, a place that treats people who have been abused, I was still dealing with the fact that I had been, well, abused. I thought I simply had bad taste in males, and my son’s dad was simply an arse. Who stalked me. And hacked into my private accounts. And followed me wherever I went. Etc.
I was given a (rather long) questionnaire, which I figured would result in my being told I was slightly paranoid. Instead, I was diagnosed as having PTSD.
I argued that was something only a veteran could have. I was wrong.
The following images are in no particular order as I had trouble posting them here — order became less important than simply posting the images.

Continue reading “PTSD: Some Photo Illustrations”

Coitus Interruptus: 2013 Best European Fiction

So I found the 2013 Best European Fiction, edited by Aleksandar Hemon (ISBN: 978-1-56478-792-7) at the library. I thought it would be a good read. I planned to start at the beginning, but flipping through the pages, I saw, “Of One Mind”, by Mike McCormack. The mention of a young son is what caught my attention. But then I got to the end. And my first thought was, “Coitus Interruptus”. I searched for possible missing pages, but there were none.
I read on. “Before the Breakup”, from Slovakia, by Balla. About something that appears behind the tv. I think.
“Memory Cultivation Salon”, by Zehra Çirak, translated from the German, written in Turkey. About blowing smaller smoke rings thru a larger one and a woman whose best kiss was (I think) her first.
And so on.
As I read, I became confused. Surly this wasn’t the Best of anything, much less European Fiction. There are millions and millions of writers in Europe! Search some blogs and I’m sure one can find a much better sampling.
I was reminded of those embarrassing Americans who feel that if they simply scream English at a non-English speaker, the person will nod in understanding, “Ah, da, sí, yes, I did not understand the English when you were speaking like a normal, sane human. But now that you are screaming in my face, well, maybe it’s the droplets of your spittle dripping down my cheek, but I understand you completely!”
So maybe these stories were good, even great, in their native language. Maybe the publisher accidentally left off the endings. Having translated some of my poetry from English to Spanish, I know how hard it can be: you can’t translate literally for poetry (or fiction, I guess); using idiomatic phrases can change not just the meaning, but the overall feeling of the piece. What is a translator to do?
First of all, start with a good piece of writing. A great one, even, since it will lose something in the translation.
Next, find someone who is truly bilingual (or multilingual): someone who can read, write, speak, and think in both languages with equal ease. Out of your group of bilinguals (or multilinguals), choose the most creative — the writers. (I am in no way saying that writing is the most creative of the arts. But if one is looking for a translator for writing…)
Next, have the translator meet with the writer to discuss the piece to be translated. The translator will get a feeling for what the writer was going for. And, finally, have the translator discuss the translation with the writer.
I realize that with certain writers — Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, George R. R. Martin — one simply needs to translate and publish. But with “The Best European Fiction “, I think the writers can spare a few hours to make sure the translation is done well.
Unfortunately, that was not the case with this collection.
Skim it. Or skip it.

Blessed Be,
D.K. Stevens

A Quick Guide To British Currency

If, like me, you enjoy British writers, tv shows, movies, etc, you’ll eventually come across monetary terms. We’ve all heard of Pounds, Shillings, and other terms like, “ha’ penny”, but what do they mean?
This isn’t a modern day guide to how many dollars to the pound, or vice-versa, but it should clear up some confusion.
I hope.

Blessed Be,
D.K. Stevens