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Being a Woman for Men

I’m currently offering WordPress installation, copywriting, and logo creation for businesses of all sizes. I’ll also modify the theme of your choice. My latest project is the WordPress website for Ethan Banville’s Being a Woman for Men podcast. Created and hosted by Ethan Banville, the Being a Woman for Men podcast examines the obstacles that women have faced in both their lives and careers.

Being a Woman for Men

Blog: STD Awareness Month

April is STD Awareness Month, and now more than ever, STDs are preventable. There are steps each of us can take to minimize the long-term consequences of these infections, but vigilance is key.

Read more at www.mylabbox.com.

Music: The Oneirologist

Check out the Bandcamp page for my music project, The Oneirologist, here.

Animation: Norma & Margie

Want to watch a cartoon?

Check out my latest animated short, Norma & Margie:

Prose Fiction: Red Envelope

From the journal of Mike Hallissey:

Friday, November 25th, 1998
“You know Sir, with you moving in so early, we didn’t have time to repaint it,” said the middle-aged Chinese man with the Mexican accent. Robert Chang opened the door to No. 38, the last available rental at Edgemont Manor.

The studio apartment consisted of two rooms. Three if you counted the booth-sized bathroom. I walked into the main room: off-white walls, baby blue trim, mint green wall-to-wall mint carpet. Yellowed Venetian blinds hung over two small windows on the far wall. A brown futon sat beneath the windows, folded into a couch.

”Looks fine,“ I said, taking a whiff of Lysol as I walked in.

I sat my cardboard box of worldly possessions on the futon, and took the move-in form from my new apartment manager.

“You can do anything you want, as long as it looks like this when you leave.”

He smiled at his wit as I signed the bottom: Michael Hallissey, November 25th, 1998.

“Not a problem,” I said as I smiled back.

“Here’s your key, Sir. See you on the first.”

I took the key and shook his hand, noticing the leather vest under his charcoal gray tweed sports coat. He smiled one more time and left me to my new home.

I looked around as I heard Robert’s Harley take off. At least it was clean. Next to the main room was a small closet. I sat my box in the closet next to a hammer and a gallon of paint someone hadleft there, then I took out some clothes for my job interview tomorrow afternoon. I hung them on the shower rod in the faded blue bathroom.

Next I checked out the kitchen: the same off-white as the main room, with a small table at one end, where I’d probably write in the mornings. A refrigerator, sink, and stove sat at the other end of the kitchen. The refrigerator was beige, clean, and a little scratched around the door. The tiles behind the sink’s faucets were painted black – with a brush – and the cabinets above and underneath brick red.

A small pile of mail sat on the sink’s counter, addressed to the previous tenant: Kevin O’Neil, No. 38, 1716 North Edgemont Street, Los Angeles, CA 90027. On top of the pile sat a red envelope.

I tossed most of the mail – mostly bills – into the black Rubbermaid wastebasket in the kitchen. I held onto the red envelope, too light to contain a card. The return address read Echo Park, a few neighborhoods away.

I threw it back onto the counter and walked out of the apartment, looking to try the Indian restaurant I saw on the bus ride over, maybe some grocery shopping.

Saturday, November 26th, 1998
Having a few White Russians at Ye Olde Rustic Roome tonight was surreal, but it didn’t distract me from the fact that I had yet to find a job. It turned out that Dona at Little Sicily (“It’s like Donna, but only one N”) only had positions for bussers. A busser couldn’t afford an apartment in Los Feliz. Even my apartment.

I walked Hollywood Boulevard, homeward bound. Every passing car seemed to be a Range Rover pulsating Los Feliz with Gangsta Rap. On the corner of Hollywood and Edgemont stood a Mexican woman with a hotdog cart, so I bought myself a jumbo wrapped in bacon with grilled onions and mustard. Across the street it was closing time at Cuchi Cuchi Salsa-teque and the Saturday night crowd was pouring out. A short guy in black stormed out hand-in-hand with some mamacita in a Lycra dress and go-go boots, followed by a bigger guy who was shouting at the chick. About ten yards from the club the guy in black turned and hit the bigger guy in the side of the head. I finished my hot dog as the two salsa kings beat the living shit out of each other, then walked up the street to Edgemont Manor.

I walked into the Edgemont and made my way to No. 38, barely surviving the stairs bathed in fluorescent track lighting. Inside the apartment I turned on my only light, an adjustable desk lamp…a souvenir from my month-long stay on Larry’s couch. I threw my jacket on the futon and walked into the kitchen, still hungry.
After examining my day-old back o’groceries, I decided on Ramen noodles with a little Spaghetti sauce. Anything else was beyond my fermented dexterity. As I waited for my boiling noodles to reach a consistency softer than plastic, my eyes fell on the red envelope from Echo Park.

I picked it up, looked it over again.

Post marked yesterday, to someone long gone.

What the fuck.

I opened it.

Might be a good read for bedtime masturbation.

Kevin,
I’m hoping by the time this letter reaches you, you will be back in my life already, and there won’t be a reason for writing in the first place. Not much has happened since we last spoke, just thirty days of Home Depot and sporadic band practice.

We finally got the new paint shipment I told you about yesterday. I think Sashay red is what you’re thinking of for the studio. If you want, I’ll use my discount to pick up a few gallons.

…I know this is a cheesy way to get your attention, but I’m at the end of my rope. I just want you to know that I was upset before, but now I realize that anyone in a relationship for the long haul gets bruised now and then, and I want to be in for the long haul with you. I’m sorry I yelled at you – honest.

Thea

So much for masturbation.

I wolfed down my Ramen and passed out in my clothes.

Sunday, November 27th, 1998
Recovery.

Monday, November 28th, 1998
Spent the afternoon applying to more chain restaurants in Los Feliz, and picked up some dinner at Pollo Dorado across the street from the Edgemont.

When I walked into the apartment building, the door to the manager’s office was open. Robert was hanging a painting above his desk. A painting of his motorcycle, with a Salvador Dali sky and melting cacti.

“That’s quite a painting,“ I said, catching his attention.

“Oh, hello, Mr. Hallissey. Thanks; it’s one of mine. How’s No. 38 going?”

“It’s ok. I found some mail. Do you have a forwarding address for the previous tenant?”

“Afraid not. Mr. O’Neil split without any notice. Probably in late October.”

“Late October?”

“Yep. He didn’t pay October’s rent, so after a few letters, I paid No.38 a visit on the first of November. No Mr. O’Neil. Just some odds and ends and the furniture that was there when he moved in.”

“Well, you can expect better from me.”

I walked up the stairs to the studio and let myself in. At my feet lay another red envelope from Echo Park. I tossed it on the futon, put my food in the fridge, and took a shower. Under the water I tried to think of other ways an aspiring writer could support himself. One of the record stores on Vermont? The library on Hillhurst, tending the computers of the Leonardo DiCaprio wing?

I got out, toweled off, and got dressed, hatching a plan for the evening. Something involving the shiny parts of LA, not the LA I had been experiencing for the past two days. I decided to call Jenny. An assistant to a casting director for “erotic thrillers.”

I walked out of No.38 and gave Jenny a call on the payphone in the Edgemont’s lobby. She picked up on the third ring. I could hear practiced moaning in the background.

“Hello?”

“How’s work?”

“Not bad. A few good ones.”

“Any of them give you sweaty kitty?”

“Not that good.”

“Doing anything tonight?”

“Not yet.”

“Want to hang out?”

“Yeah. I’ll stop by when I’m done.”

I hung up and went back upstairs to eat my Pollo Dorado while I waited for Jenny. I walked into the kitchen and turned on the oven, pleasantly surprised to see the light beside the temperature dial brighten. While I waited for the oven to heat up, I noticed that the paint on the tiles and cabinets was fresh. Guess this was supposed to be the start of Kevin and Thea’s redecorating. I threw my dinner in the oven and grabbed my Ralph’s bag to put away the remaining groceries. I opened the cabinets above the sink. A small bucket of Kwikset cement sat on the second shelf next to a tin of Acetone paint thinner. More leftovers. I put them on the floor beside the fridge and replaced them with my cornucopia of pasta and instant coffees.

I ate while reading a copy of the LA Weekly, looking for something to do. I made it all the way to the personals; Jenny still hadn’t shown up. A chopper flew over my apartment as its spotlight slid over the building across Edgemont Street.

I decided to write a little. I grabbed my notebook and sat on the futon. A half-hour dragged by as I stared at the blank page, the chopper still haunting my neighborhood.

I walked over to the counter in the kitchen and picked up the red envelope, thinking it might inspire me.

Kevin,
I’m just writing to remind you about Monday at Spaceland. We’ll probably go on at 9pm. I just got my bass back from Guitar Center. The intonation’s good, but the grounding’s still buzzy.

I’m really hoping you’ll make it to see the show. I would get to see you, but you wouldn’t be pressured to talk about us. I wish we could put “us” behind us already. I know now that if I had been better to you, things wouldn’t have turned out the way that they did. I’m ready to be a better girlfriend to you. But I understand that you may not be ready to talk. Just come to my show. You said you would before everything went wrong.

Love,
Thea

A horn outside caught my attention. I peeked out the window. Jenny’s red Cabriolet convertible idled in front of the Edgemont, double-parked.

I grabbed my jacket, ran downstairs and out the Edgemont’s front door. I jumped into the Cabriolet.

“What happened?” Jenny said.

“I thought you were coming up.”

“And how would I get inside? Call you?”

“So where are we going tonight?” I changed the subject.

“Don’t know. Any ideas?”

“You ever been to Spaceland?”

Tuesday, November 29th, 1998
When I woke up the roof of my mouth felt ready to shed its skin; the price you pay for a night of beer and bummed cigarettes. As I went to the bathroom I reviewed the two things I had learned at Spaceland: One- Thea was no longer a member of the Kriss Bliss band, and Two – No matter how much liquor is involved, you can’t bang a girl you used to bang in college if you told all your dorm buddies you banged her in the ass.

After a cup of instant coffee I walked around my neighborhood. I ran out of restaurants to apply to, so I said fuck it and walked down to the Vista, a renovated movie theatre with Egyptian décor. I had that heard the Vista wasn’t busy during the day, and air-conditioned, which would be a welcome change. They were still showing “At dawn they scream“, but I didn’t end up seeing the movie. Instead I answered the “Help Wanted” sign on the side of the ticket booth.

The teenager in the booth brought me to a woman in her late twenties dressed in thrift store chic and turquoise jewelry. Her name was Heidi; she was the general manager. Chubby cheeks and bubbly demeanor betrayed her authority. By the end of my ten-minute interview I knew enough about her to write a small book. Or at least a Wicca zine.

She gave me a maroon vest and told me I could start tomorrow night if I wanted. I told her I would, thanked her for the job and headed home.

As I entered the Edgemont and walked up the stairs to No. 38, I wondered if my luck would hold up. Maybe I could write something decent today, now that I wasn’t obsessing over finding a job.

I opened the door to my studio. In between a Penny Saver flyer and a postcard for a comic book convention was another red envelope.

I had wondered why Thea didn’t play last night, but an explanation probably wouldn’t come in the mail for a couple of days. All I really knew was that she wanted to get back together with her boyfriend, some dick who moved out without telling her. I wanted to tell Thea the truth. It would hurt, but wasn’t this worse?

Once again there was no street listed on the envelope’s return address. No postmark this time, either. Just Echo Park. Maybe this time she included her phone number – “this is my number; remember, you piece of shit?” It was worth a shot. She deserved to be with someone that would treat her right, not that asshole.

I opened the red envelope.

Kevin,
I can’t believe that after everything I’ve done to get your attention, you still ignore me. Can’t you see that I love you? I know it was wrong to lie about still being in the band, but you have no idea what trying to be with you has cost me. I was fired from Home Depot for stealing all that shit for your place. All that paint so you could make it “warm.” Wasn’t it warm enough already? All those skanky bitches coming over when I’m not there?

But I was willing to forgive you, to put it past us and chalk it up to miscommunication. Maybe if we got back together under the label of a relationship, not just the love behind it that really counts, you would actually treat it like a relationship.

I know we talked about us when we got together a month ago, but I still don’t understand what you did, and I have to make you understand what I’ve done.

When we got together that night, I knew we were going to argue, even though I brought over a bottle of wine and all dressed up for you. I knew you were going to pull your crap about how all relationships are different because all people are different so you can’t expect the same thing from everyone. And I knew if I started getting upset, getting “dramatic”, you would go in your bathroom and take a hit from that stupid little bong you keep beside the toilet. But this time I had the answer. It was right in front of me, waiting, as you hid like a coward.

The answer was in that bottle of paint thinner.

I added just enough to your wine.

That’s why you choked when you finally left the bathroom and took a sip of wine to wash away your cottonmouth.

The answer was in the hammer.

That’s why the toilet was the last thing you saw when you ran to the bathroom to vomit.

The answer was in all that cement and paint I used on the cabinet underneath the sink.

Now you could stay in your apartment forever, and we could start over the right way.

Kevin, you know that real love is more than labels like “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”, beyond the stupid people we hang out with, beyond the world we suffer to live in… even beyond the bodies we momentarily reside in.

The answer was to separate you from all of these things so we could start over.

Now all you have to do is come to me, now that everything else is out of the way. I’ll wait forever – because love is forever – but do I really have to, after all I’ve done for you?

Thea

This had to be some crazy-ass form of venting, her way of getting over this guy, right? Kill your cheating asshole scum boyfriend and get together with his ghost after you’ve hidden the leftovers? Come on.

Just to prove to myself that this was all a bunch of bullshit, I walked into the kitchen, squatted in front of the sink and gave the cabinet door underneath a good tug.

Stuck.

I gave it another tug, and another after that. By the fifth tug I got the door open, breaking off the inside clasp.

The clasp was stuck in a wall of cement.

Which really didn’t mean shit. Just fleshing out the fantasy with real details from the real world. She knew this fucking shack inside out from the redecorating.

I grabbed the hammer on the floor in my closet. I sat down in front of the sink and started bashing away at the cement with the hammer. Half an hour later I had my answer.

Kevin O’Neil stared out at me through a single green eye.

January 1st, 1999
“They completely redid the whole place. You can’t even tell anyone ever lived here,” said the skinny Indian woman with Frosted Hair. Betty Bindi, my new apartment manager, opened the door to No. 111, 1820 N. Whitley Avenue, Hollywood, CA, 90028.

I followed Betty Bindi into the white living room; pretty big, considering the apartment only cost $650 a month. At the far end of the living room were a single large window and a small table, where I sat my box of worldly possessions and bag o’groceries.

“I still can’t believe that’s all you have,” Betty Bindi said as she looked over my bag and handed me the movie-in form.

“Well, I’ll be sending for my computer. Probably put it on that table.”

I signed the form and exchanged it for the set of house keys in her hand.

“Just make sure you let us know before you do any painting or anything like that.”

“Will do,” I said, as I grimaced and tried to shit the Edgemont out of my head.

Betty Bindi walked out, shutting the door behind her.

I took a look around as I heard Betty Bindi chatting with an elderly woman down the hall. She was right; not a single sign of wear and tear. I walked back to my cardboard box and fished out my maroon movie vest. The Vista had made the temporary return to Larry’s couch a little more bearable, as I waited for the police to close their investigation.

I hung the vest up in the bathroom and walked back through the living room toward the kitchen, grabbing my bag of groceries along the way. In the kitchen I took my groceries out of the bag and stored them on the shelves above the sink, wondering all the while if my new apartment was anything like the last one.

I took a deep breath, squatted down in front of the sink, and quickly opened the cabinet doors underneath.

Empty. No sign of fucked-up shit whatsoever.

I laughed at myself for even considering it, and walked back to my living room.

To the left of the front door was an envelope, pushed aside when Betty Bindi let me in. A letter addressed to a previous tenant, Daniel Mosley. But this was in a plain white envelope. And it wasn’t from Echo Park; it was from El Monte. The handwriting wasn’t even the same.

I opened it.

Michael,
You probably weren’t expecting a letter from me, but I had to write you one more time and thank you for all your help. When I finally remedied my situation with Kevin, I had no idea what to do when the police would investigate. But then I came up with the letters. I had hoped someone would see those red envelopes and open one up. So I wrote the first couple and kept an eye on the Edgemont. A couple of days later you moved in.

But just because you moved in didn’t mean you were reading other people’s mail, so I thought I’d write that I’d be playing at Spaceland. When you showed up, I knew I had a chance. Sure enough, you found Kevin, and when the police investigated, they thought you were the one who did it, some nut who lived in a shithouse apartment and wrote letters to himself. But they didn’t have any real evidence, so they dropped the case. It all went exactly as I had planned, and I had plenty of time to move away and start my life over, asshole-free.

So thank you for throwing the police off… I just need one more thing, one small favor – and that’s for you to keep quiet about this. You had to explain yourself to the police, but that’s it. I need you to put all this behind you, like I did. I could mention that I would have to visit you if my new life got threatened, but I know that’s not necessary. Thank you for being there for me.

Love,
Thea

The End.

Illustration: Turnip Head

Turnip Head

Concept Art by me for a project on www.hitRECord.org.

Illustration: Judo Heirs Tribute Skate Graphic

Judo Heirs Tribute Skate Graphic

Judo Heirs Tribute Skate Graphic by me.

Comic-con 2011: Spotlight on Terry Moore

Terry Moore ran the show when it came to his Comic-Con spotlight panel, sharing news on “Rachel Rising,” “Strangers in Paradise” and an “Echo” feature film.

Click here to read the article.

Click here to read my other comics-related articles.

Wondercon 2011: Archaia Comics presents 2011 and beyond

At Wondercon Archaia Comics sat down with fans to discuss the “Immortals” anthology, “The Dark Crystal,” Jim Henson’s “A Tale of Sand,” “Mr. Murder is Dead,” and more.

Click here to read the article.

Click here to read my other comics-related articles.

Antony Johnston’s From Comics to Consoles


Photo by Charlie Chu

Deadspace writer Antony Johnston gave a talk at GDC last month on the similarities (and differences) between writing for games and comics.

Anyone who wants to write for games should give it a listen.

Click here to go to the video.