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“Grateful for the Chance to Read Such High-Quality Work”

Yeah, a fairly stock rejection letter, but one takes encouragement where it’s offered.

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Featured image photo credit: Sparkzy on VisualHunt.com


All material, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved.



Best paired with a Strawberry Daiquiri, the saddest cocktail ever.


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The Ravishing Corpse

A Prairie Anxiety

Prologue

I was a writer who drank.

Then I was a drinker who wrote.

Now I’m a drunk who thinks about writing. 

The Book of Ethan says, “You have to mine your own life. It’s the only way you’re gonna stumble on anything real.” There’s a mama racoon resident in my dumpster brain. I met her under my veranda. She showed me her drained teats and protruding rib cage. Her name is Rhonda and we share what we find. Not all of it is fresh but we’ve raised two healthy litters.

All my procrastination is exhausting—trying to divine what needs to be told; weigh what I feel like telling. We can know it all. I should ask the salamander tattoo on my forearm for advice, but it has never said anything of use.

I want to fix this, to get all my edges neat and clean. Scrape away the ugliness. But it’s easier to derail the truth, limiting it to unintended switches to hoary branch lines or just some minor juddering on the rails. Then last night, confused and anxious, I hurled a locomotive and thirty cars of Saskatchewan potash into Little Llama daycare. An anatomically precise sexual abuse doll and a brace of hamsters were killed. 

It’s so late in the day. So late.

I’m a laggard, staring at the sun—a fading taunt on the horizon. I slouch in this comfortable chair—MacBook Pro burning my thighs a half pint of Buffalo Trace stretching my bladder—facing my limitations. A drunkard watching Mars chase the Moon.

The Moon floats to my triple-paned living room window and we have a whispered conversation while the tides of the Indian Ocean and South China Sea reverse and roar tsunamis toward the coasts of every country in Asia.

“…”

“…”

“…”

The Moon is shameless and unselfconscious of the acne craters, impact scars, and mountainous cysts that cover their face. They blackmail me with the lives of billions of people.

I piss myself. A relief. A prod.

This is a confession?

It comes too soon.

It’s a memoir. A plea for attention?

A speculation? A faux investigation, because I’m the culpable one?

Only I know it all. 

Soon, everyone will know. I’m not sure I have it all down or know what’s real or what’s imagined or manifested and for some of it I only know what I’ve been told. Some of it hasn’t happened and will not happen if I don’t follow the Moon’s injunction.

Maybe you’ve heard this all before, crickets chirping before a thunder boomer. Maybe it’s happened to you. Maybe I did it. Maybe I’m doing it right now. Maybe I did it tomorrow.

Call me a monster, a root-rich hank of your hair wound through my shaking fist.

Every action an effect lacking a clockwork cause.

But pretend it’s all new even if it’s not. It’s not hard, we only think we know. Everything is hindsight and time makes a hash of memory; it’s not a fundamental ticking nor a flashbulb moment, so only extrapolations and lies endure. 

So this is a confession.

It’s up to me; you won’t hear this from someone else.

Only from me.

From me.

Me.

Too goddamn late.


A previous version of this prologue is included in The Ravishing Corpse, which made the long list of the 2020 annual 3-Day Novel Contest.
Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved.



Best paired with a soldier of Buffalo Trace in the backseat of a Ford Escort


Reprint and reproduction rights for this story are available for purchase. Contact me for more information on Anthologies, Course Packs, Reading Comprehension Exams, Translations, and Dramatic Adaptations


Photo credit: Hannes Mauerer on Visualhunt.com



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We’ve Burned

We’ve burned the furniture and started on the books. Luckily there’s a small library within our palisade. The fuel trucks are still smouldering in what the map calls terra nullius. The UN is no help. We were able to clear the orphanage. The toddlers thought it a big game but the infants are not okay. Yesterday we had to repel a scavenger group near the East Gate—I think they were Australians—and one woman was helicoptered out in the night. Something’s not right, but the agent offered coupon codes for our trouble. So glad we chose the tinned goods and wild game option. The pool was not as advertised. We’ll be home Tuesday afternoon. So sorry you couldn’t come with. Next year we’ll do something family friendly—maybe Guernica or Sarajevo.


Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved.


This story won the third prize in the 14th Annual Geist Postcard Story Contest.
It first appeared in Geist issue 109.

This story was submitted, and rejected, for consideration for the 2022 Fractured Lit Reprint Prize judged by Meg Pokrass. Read the rejection letter!



Best paired with Столичная, icebox cold.


Reprint and reproduction rights for this story are available for purchase. Contact me for more information on Anthologies, Course Packs, Reading Comprehension Exams, Translations, and Dramatic Adaptations


All material, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved.


Image copyright © Photo credit: christian kurz on Visualhuntom, used under Creative Commons 2.0 licence



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Scenes From a Spiteful Business

I. Pressure

start in midair, say, on a plane
the change in your ears as you descend–the pressure–is the
weight of the air
it is laid out in the barometric formula, which is
constant,
unerring, and explains, too, the freezing drizzle
that pelts the taxi’s windows on the drive from the airport, the cabby
lamenting the goal line fumble
that cost his team a spot in the final–they just couldn’t handle the pressure–you in the back seat, shivering, sour-breathed and
damp,
wishing you’d brought an umbrella, whispering under your breath,
just drive, just shut up and drive

II. Force

it was once called the badger game
a man would meet a stranger in a
coffee
shop and be offered an envelope of photographs–the man and a woman,
a woman and the man–this man’s wife never needs to know if certain timely
payments were made
your client wants nothing but an end, wishes to
pretend it’s as tidy as cutting in on a couple dancing a saraband in Cario or
another pulsing city
the man in question–his haircut and the knot in his
tie both
too tight–says, there is no evidence to support that claim treats you
like you’re the boy who always spoils it for others but his eyes,
litmus blue ruins, confess he is a man who has lain in the wrong bed
for too
long the sheets still warm to the husband’s palm

III. Release

you spend most of your work hours slouched in your car
a thermos of coffee,
a bottle to piss in, a camera on the passenger seat
your boredom is mute,
unlike your kitchen faucet, which complains in irregular beats
the ice in your glass does not work by inertia, it reaches out cold tendrils
to gather in the whiskey’s heat, much as the mind collects memories
(ice is the
truest archive of the past–consider the soot and seeds at the heart of
retreating
glaciers–we cannot beguile ice)
the bartender places a fresh tumbler in
front of you and looks at the man in the corner the
ice clicks against your teeth
you left your offering on his table
later he will insist
he was only seeking shelter


A version of this poem won the Contemporary Verse 2 2003 2-Day Poem Contest.
It first appeared on the Contemporary Verse 2 website.
Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved.



Best paired with Wild Turkey 101 sipped from a pocket flask.


Reprint and reproduction rights for this story are available for purchase. Contact me for more information on Anthologies, Course Packs, Reading Comprehension Exams, Translations, and Dramatic Adaptations


Photo credit: crowt59 on Visualhunt / CC BY





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The Ravishing Corpse on 2020 3-Day Novel Long-list

One of thirteen long-listed entries

This week Anvil Press announced the long-list for the 2020 3-Day Novel Contest.

There were over two hundred entries and my novel The Ravishing Corpse made the cut along with twelve other novels.

You can see the complete long-list here and learn what happens next.

The Ravishing Corpse synopsis:

Nikki only wants what’s best for Jason. She’s a domestic goddess. She earns. And she’s helping him finish a “true crime novel” based on a local unsolved murder. She’s sacrificed so much for Jason. But he’s killed her. He’s certain he did. But soon they’re living in a fieldstone house on the acreage where his grandfather murdered a man. In addition to adding new tricks to their already vigorous sex life, Nikki starts sending Jason on late-night “missions” to forewarn women who are soon to be killed by their partners, women who are indiscernible from Jason’s past lovers.

As Jason comes to grips with his romantic and sexual past, seeks out women in danger, and works to outwit the Vampires investigating Nikki’s murder, he discovers ex-dead Nikki has been enacting her own agenda for revenge.

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All material, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved.


Photo credit:  dMadPhoto on VisualHunt


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Of average vanity

Todd Besant is a publisher, editor, reader, writer, occasional author, introvert, secret blogger, stargazer, freethinker, powerlifter, kitchen dancer, podcast enthusiast, and car singer.

He is overly fond of fine pencils, cool notebooks, pocket knives, waxed canvas shoulder bags, Moscot eyeglasses, coffee, bourbon, flat caps, clothing for shorter men, manipedis, and men’s grooming products–especially pomades, face balms, and under eye treatments. Todd is of average vanity, that is, very.

Todd is taller online, inordinately puzzled, comprehensively skeptical, increasingly alarmed, and as analogue as possible under the circumstances. His creativity is informed and driven by an avalanche of failure. Todd’s favourite words are louche, bare, frowsy, oubliette, chemise, thicket, snug, bristle, mound, abandon, frisson, and restraint.

He is the descendant of colonialist settlers and lives on Turtle Island on Treaty 1 Land that is the territories of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Lakota, Inuit, and Dene Peoples, and on the Traditional Homeland of the Métis Nation, in Winnipeg, MB, an inflexible colonial city mired in the still damp clay bed of a proglacial lake created during the Holocene Glacial Retreat.

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This blog is written and produced on Turtle Island in Winnipeg, MB, on Treaty 1 Land that is the territories of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Lakota, Inuit, and Dene peoples, and is the Traditional Homeland of the Métis Nation. All material, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved. Header photo credit: darkday. on VisualHunt.com