Scattered

Hi folks! Your friendly neighborhood insanity writer continues his reinvention as a songwriter. My latest shows that I’ve finally found a use for all my aborted writing projects! Enjoy!

SCATTERED by Don Britt 

A screenplay partly written

Is scattered all around

A scrawl of notes now beckon

From their place down on the ground

 

And by the sheets of music

Is a story halfway penned

A tale of Morocco

Of bazaars and mystic men

 

A Chicago cop in New Orleans

She hunts her partner’s killer

On pages strewn about my desk

She stars in my new thriller

 

If fantasy you would prefer

A boy wizard would be king

If his uncle doesn’t kill him first

In 12th century Beijing

 

There are unfinished symphonies

Great poems scarce begun

Things just conceived half shuffle

Out into the Sun

 

And scamper back at our behest

From fear or lack of drive

The things that die before they’re born

Doom this man alive

 

To living death and worse than that

For even death is queer

It says that you were living once

In some sunlight dear

 

Songs and plays and epic tales

Where empires rise and fall

Fill pages, hard drives and the books

Half written on my wall

 

If horror is your poison

There’s a tale of Slave Lake

A place of calm and sweet repose

Til the Summer of ’88

 

The shuffle of this pen across

The page here on this night

Makes me wonder if I have

The drive to make it right

 

I’ll finish this here melody

A song for you I’ll sing

From a poet’s anguished heart

This verse at least will ring

 

A Chicago cop in New Orleans

She hunts her partner’s killer

On pages strewn about my desk

She stars in my new thriller

 

If fantasy you would prefer

A boy wizard would be king

If his uncle doesn’t kill him first

In 12th century Beijing

 

Songs and plays and epic tales

Where empires rise and fall

Fill pages, hard drives and the books

Half written on my wall

 

If horror is your poison

There’s a tale of Slave Lake

A place of calm and sweet repose

Til the Summer of ’88

 

(c) Don Britt 2014
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Here’s a 4 minute audio excerpt from my novel CAMBRIAN. You can read the whole novel for free by clicking the link on the right.

http://www.24novels.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Cam-Ridge.mp3


RETOOLING

Future

Remember that Simpsons episode where Bart became the ‘I Didn’t Do It’ kid? He finally realizes his dream of working on the Krusty the Clown show. Things go terribly wrong when Bart accidentally knocks over a vase, causing a cataclysmic string of events that tears the whole set down. ‘I didn’t do it,’ says Bart, as the camera and Krusty both glare at him. Wrap is called and everybody walks away from the demolished set as the announcer proclaims the show ‘Closed for Retooling’.

That pretty much sums up the summer of 2014 for me. I had my most formative staring contest with the abyss yet this summer, as my brother lay dying and as I tried and failed to get my father out of a mouse infested hell in Cape Breton. But out of adversity comes opportunity, some asshole once said. As my last post explained I had an insight in my brother’s last days. The fact that I’ve spent my life spurning my musical talent, the only talent in the Arts for which I’ve ever been rewarded. With money. Honest to goodness money.

SO I’m spending some time retooling. I’m writing some songs, which means I’m also doing some poetry. An odd thing that. After drowning in a sea of prose for twenty years I’m hangin out with verse. It’s quite a revision process I don’t mind telling you, when you’re the manuscript and you’re putting yourself under the knife. The goal is to reinvent myself as a performing artist, a singer/songwriter and a story teller too.

It’s a daunting prospect, to stoop and build my life with worn out tools, well into my forties. But there is one great consolation. I have nowhere to go but up. And I can’t possibly do any worse financially. A new father of quintuplets, when asked if he was concerned about the financial problems he might have, summed it up nicely – “How can you have any financial problems when you don’t have any money?”

Here’s one of my new songs. Well it sort of has to be, as I don’t have any old ones. I call this BIRTHING GROUND. Which is where I find myself these days. Enjoy!

REINVENTION

1292(The spot where my brother’s ashes were poured, Mira River, Cape Breton Island)

 

REINVENTION

Hi. Your friendly neighborhood insanity writer here. Fresh off a deathwatch in the Maritimes. My brother and only sibling Edward died in Nova Scotia, with bowel cancer. He was ten years my senior. And he moved out of the house when he was Eighteen. We were roommates in recent weeks for the first time since I was eight.

 

My brother had a tough life. He was bipolar. A psychiatrist who cared for him said Edward was unusual in that his manic spells were extremely protracted. A fact that tore friends and family apart, put him afoul of the law a number of times, and eventually left him burnt out, fried by these brutally long highs.

 

Edward never stayed on his medication. He once explained why. “Imagine a life of amazing technicolors, one where you saw parts of the spectrum other people couldn’t. Your own Oz sorta thing, only better. Then someone comes along and says ‘Here, take these pills.’ And when you do all the colors go away, and you’re left rotting in shades of gray.”

 

I told him I sympathized. But at the time there was a warrant for his arrest, and I thought that was what really mattered. My brother disagreed. There were only those colors that only he could see.

 

We got to spend the last three weeks of his life together. A gift from on high. At the end his mental illness, which had morphed into paranoid delusions, simply left him. I had my old brother back. The one I worshipped as a kid. The guy who saved my life once. The eternal optimist, who believed we will escape our earthly cradle and reach the stars.

 

I talked to staff about this odd absence of the demons that plagued him. They nodded, and said it was not unusual. Although studies on the matter are lacking (the mix of mental and terminal illnesses would make for a tricky double blind) I was told that people often even out in their final days. From where I sat it seemed as though the thing that possessed him looked around at a house that was falling down and said, ‘That’s it. I’m out o’ here.’

 

Sleep was elusive on the lonely night watches. I wandered off to the cafeteria and played a piano there, songs that were big hits with my music students this past year. Hall of Fame, Counting Stars, Demons and Daylight. I chucked in ‘To Love Somebody’ at no extra charge, because it’s a damn good tune.

 

And I came to a realization as I sat there and played. I realized that I, the self proclaimed insanity writer, have been living a tired old definition of insanity for decades now. The one about doing the same thing endlessly, in hopes of a different result.

 

I’ve always resented music. In the world of the Arts it is the one area where people have told me I have talent. And the only area in the art world that has led to remuneration. I worked in musical theater in my college days. In the fulness of time I became a private teacher. A successful one. I have 56 students, and schools let me in to ply my trade.

 

But none of it mattered to me. Only my words did. I’ve written four novels, twenty-five novellas, a handful of shorts. Some nifty Tales in 20 Tweets too. My failures in pitching my product left me bitter. Hell, I’ve been an asshole about it. (After a school concert this Spring a mother came up with gracious words of affirmation. I shrugged and said, “I’m a frustrated writer. No one cares about that part of me.”)

 

All this coursed through my mind as I sat playing in a hospital cafeteria, down the hall from the room where my brother lay dying. I thought about my online persona, the insanity writer (the Neo to my real life Mister Anderson) and I saw the simple truth, at long last.

 

I stopped playing and stared at my hands. “It really is insane,” I muttered. “Hating this part of me. Resenting my music. Instead of accepting it for the gift it is.”

 

I am a writer. I am also a musician. All my life I saw those aspects as incompatible. It took my brother’s death to make me realize that they are not. Both are parts of me that I should honor and cherish. What’s more, they are parts of me that are fully capable of working together.

 

In the wake of Edward’s death, back in my Cape Breton homestead, I wrote a couple songs. Then I returned to the West and wrote some more. Here’s one, a hard core Celtic offering called ARISE: 

 

 

And so from death I have found new life. One where things are integrated, with the different aspects of me working together for the first time, well, ever.

 

Am I a songwriter? Was I meant to be that all along? Have I drowned myself in a sea of prose, when I was supposed to be giving myself over to verse? 

I don’t know. But there’s one way to find out.

The only way that any artist can.

THE CUNNING OF MAN

Gandalf

THE CUNNING OF MAN

A Tale in 20 Tweets by DJ Britt

 

1 I tried my hand at pipe smoking in the wake of my brother’s death. I strolled around the yard of my Cape Breton home and puffed away.

 

2 Our neighbour laughed on seeing me. “You’re smoking a pipe?” I held up the pipe and nodded, as there seemed no point in denying it.

 

3 “I’m like a little kid trying to be like his father,” I said. Our neighbour laughed, which proves I’m a witty fellow.

 

4 It was a welcome distraction. Hell anything is. Bowel cancer was a hard vigil for me. Dying from it much harder on my brother.

 

5 And now my elderly parents are looking at moving, as they can no longer maintain our Cape Breton home.

 

6 All these endings moved me to write a song. Check out my ballad I ONCE WAS HERE:

7 I slipped into fantasy as I meandered around the grounds I grew up on, puffing away. I imagined our home as a place in Middle Earth.

 

8 Gandalf the Grey comes by at the head of his party of elves, a dwarf and hobbits. We give them lodging for the night.

 

9 In the morning the party has itchy feet. They are anxious to resume their quest. But I presume to make a request of the great wizard.

 

10 I approach him as he readies his saddle, puffing on his pipe and muttering to himself. “Pardon me Gandalf sir,” I say.

 

11 “Huh?” he mutters, not looking up from his task. “I was wondering if you could do me a favor?” “What’s that?” he says, around his pipe.

 

12 “I was wondering if you could teach me the proper way to smoke one of those.” Gandalf looks up. Everyone else in the party freezes.

 

13 The wizard’s eyes twinkle with laughter. “A grand idea.” The dwarf curses and stomps off. A few in the party protest, but it’s too late.

 

14 Gandalf and I head off to a quiet corner of the yard, a pastoral scene with a nice bench. He produces a spare pipe and makes a gift of it.

 

15 We light up and start chatting, with Gandalf giving tips along the way. About cupping the pot to heat it, and not puffing out the flame.

 

16 The party stares at us with various degrees of glower on their faces. All save an elf, who watches with a sly smile.

 

17 The dwarf kicks at the ground and curses again. The elf shakes his head. “You should enjoy this.” “What’s to enjoy?” the dwarf growls. “We’re farting the day away.”

 

18 “This is what gives the humans their power,” the elf says. The dwarf nods ruefully. “He’s forming an alliance.”

 

19 “Yes. This town’s enemies will have to reckon with Gandalf The Grey, all because that mortal is having a smoke with him today.”

 

20 The elf turns to the dwarf as Gandalf laughs at something I say. “And that, my stout friend, is the cunning of man.”

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Here’s a 4 minute audio excerpt from my novel CAMBRIAN. You can read the whole novel for free by clicking the link on the right.

http://www.24novels.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Cam-Ridge.mp3


OUT ON THE MIRA

1292My brother wanted to come home to our Island home of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Today, after a fashion, he did, as I poured his ashes into the beautiful (and much sung) Mira river, and the current rushed them away into the Atlantic.

With apologies it will be one more week before I settle back into my Tales in Twenty Tweets. See you next Saturday.

 

IN MEMORY

EdwardIn loving memory of my brother Edward Charles Britt (April 18, 1959 – July 18, 2014). An eternal optimist, who believed We’ll reach the stars.

Tales in 20 Tweets will resume next week.

TWEET THIRTEEN, pt. 5

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TWEET THIRTEEN continues today. Scroll down to find the previous installments. New entries are posted every Saturday, first live on Twitter at 1230 PM Eastern then here on my site. Enjoy!

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1 Sonia drove the Crown Royal down the deserted gravel road past a rippling field of blue wheat, wafting in the afternoon breeze.

 

2 “Flax,” Kine said, without looking up from his iPad. Sonia threw the redhead a bewildered look. “How’d ya know I was wondering that?”

 

3 “Your brow always furrows when you don’t know the name of something. And there’s nothing else out here to look at.”

 

4 “You didn’t even look at me.” Kine smirked. “I got awesome peripheral vision. Great for ogling the ladies.”

 

5 “Oh. So I’m being ogled now.” “Don’t let it go to your head,” Kine said. Up ahead a red pickup was parked on the side of the road.

 

6 A teenager sat behind the wheel, yapping away on his cell. From his plaid shirt and suspenders Sonia guessed this was their first Hutterite.

 

7 They stopped and chatted without getting out. The affable kid told them they were just two miles shy of the Hendricks farm.

 

8 They drove on. “You know,” said Kine, “before this case I thought Hutterites were like the Amish. Sorta freaked by technology.”

 

9 “Except when used in reality TV shows you mean.” Kine ignored her and read from his iPad.

 

10 “’Hutterites use computers and internet for keeping in contact with their friends, relatives and meeting people outside the colony.’”

 

11 He looked to Sonia. ‘It says there’s a citation needed.” “I’ll get right on that.” Soon they pulled up before a dilapidated farmhouse.

 

12 “Odd,” Sonia said, taking in the peeling white paint on the house. Kine read her mind. “Two years without their daughter might explain that.”

 

13 Mr. And Mrs. Hendricks looked as run down as their house. Although only 45 they could pass for 60. Both looked frail and world weary.

 

14 Soon they were all settled in a living room with worn plaid furniture. “We’ve been a mess since your call,” Mrs. Hendricks said.

 

15 “Relieved,” her husband said. “And horrified. I mean, thank heavens Claire’s safe. But . . . she was just living with a man?”

 

16 He broke down and cried for a bit, as his wife tried to get him to pull it together. Sonia had the impression that Claire was Daddy’s girl.

 

17 “It seems just yesterday she was on my knee every evening, listening to the Bible stories,” he said. ‘Bingo,’ thought Sonia.

 

18 Mrs. Hendricks shook her head. “I still see her room that morning. The bed all made. And I knew. I went right to her stash of books.”

 

19 She shrugged. “They were gone. Like she was.” “The books,” Mr. Hendricks said, despairing. “I told you Helen. How many times?

 

20 “Those books came right from the Tree of Knowledge. And where does she end up? With a professor.” He spat the last word, as though it tasted like cod liver oil. TO BE CONTINUED

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Here’s a 4 minute audio excerpt from my novel CAMBRIAN. You can read the whole novel for free by clicking the link on the right.

http://www.24novels.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Cam-Ridge.mp3


TWEET THIRTEEN, PT. 4

13

1 Sonia walked into the living room of her townhouse with cup of cocoa in hand, across the bars of streetlight cast by the venetian blinds.

 

2 She paused on the way to the couch and frowned in the direction of the hallway. On a mother’s instinct she padded down to Colton’s room.

 

3 The door to her 7 year old’s room was open a crack, as always. Colton slept with a pensive expression in the soft glow of his nightlight.

 

4 Brody flashed through her mind. He had always slept in that same pensive way. Colton looked more and more like his dad every day.

 

5 Sonia ran a hand over the dark brown skin of her belly, and over the knife scar there. ‘I hope you’re someone’s prison bitch,’ she thought.

 

6 She returned to the living room, thinking how a mother’s instincts were so often wrong. So many false positives when it came to danger.

 

7 ‘Logical,’ she thought, as she settled on the black leather sofa and stared at and through the TV, which was off, as she sipped her drink.

 

8 Her mind’s eye projected an images on that screen. The first was Claire Hendricks, with her cropped blond hair and tear stained face.

 

9 She saw her partner’s bewildered expression. ‘Hutterite?’ And Claire’s rueful head shake. ‘I’m a Hutterleft.’

 

10 Next up was the beer guzzling Freison, and the one thing he said that resonated, the thing that pulsed with the light of relevant truth.

 

11 “That man only had eyes for Claire.”

 

12 Sonia got up and started prowling like a panther. In the theater of her mind she saw the university president.

 

13 ‘I think it was a Rommel,’ Lyons said. ‘I think Daniel was forced to kill himself.’

 

14 Her free hand dropped below her half shirt, back to the scar, as she thought of the severed power line at Bennett’s farmhouse.

 

15 “Cut with an axe,” she whispered. She went to the window and looked out, but only saw the axe marks on that wall.

 

16 Her eyes widened. They always did when the clicks came. “Because the people love the darkness,” she said.

 

17 She snatched the phone so quick it seemed to fly there. The speed dial of numbers, the click, and Patrick Kine’s sleep filled “Yeah?”

 

18 “Up for a road trip?” A bewildered pause. “At 4 A.M.?” Sonia smirked. “No silly. I’d never wake the nanny at this hour.”

 

19 “Oh to be a Nanny,” said Kine, yawning. “What’d you have in mind?”

 

20 “Iowa,” she said. TO BE CONTINUED

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Here’s a 4 minute audio excerpt from my novel CAMBRIAN. You can read the whole novel for free by clicking the link on the right.

http://www.24novels.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Cam-Ridge.mp3


TWEET THIRTEEN, PT. 3

13

 

My detective story TWEET THIRTEEN continues today. You can read the previous installments here: part 1: http://bit.ly/1iuDdbX part 2: http://bit.ly/1lXAc3d

 

Here’s part 3:

 

1 Sonia and Kine headed uphill on the university campus, upstream against the flow of students on a morning with a low gray sky.

 

2 The redheaded cop looked back at a tall brunette in shorts. He shook his head. “Eyes front Detective,” Sonia said with a smirk.

 

3 “Aye aye. So what do we hope to find here?” Sonia nodded up ahead, to a kid wearing a black armband with the number 13. “That,” she said.

 

4 Francis Whitehead wasn’t old enough to be in university, but was. Just 16, he was the winner of the Anderson-Gosling prize in mathematics.

 

5 Bennett’s intro English was the pimple faced blond’s required bone toss to the Arts. “Bennett was right,” he said, gesturing to his armband.

 

6 “About what?” asked Sonia. “About our idols. About everything we worship that we’ll have to surrender, if we ever hope to escape our cradle.”

 

7 “Cradle?” from Kine. “Earth,” Whitehead said. “The professor was always dreaming of the stars, and what we’ll have to do to get there.”

 

8 “Know him outside of class?” Sonia asked. “No. Not at all.” He pursed his lips thoughtfully. “But talk to Walt Freison. Dalton House.”

 

9 Soon they were in a dorm room with Freison, a lanky sophomore with dark hair and piercing green eyes, surrounded by empty beer bottles.

 

10 “Might want to go easy on those son,” Kine said. “Metabolisms slow. Beer bellies emerge.” Freison grinned sheepishly. “I promise I won’t.”

 

11 When asked why he thought they were pointed his way Freison just shrugged. “Easy. I’m gay. Bennett was a great friend to the community.”

 

12 Kine jotted on his notepad. “Was he, uh, a member of the community?” Freison chuckled. “No. That man only had eyes for Claire.”

 

13 Freison quietened a moment. “His brother was gay. Died with AIDS. The professor fund raised, helped with counselling. Great guy.”

 

14 Finally they arrived at the university president’s office. Wilfred Lyons was 50, balding and portly, but with quick smooth movements.

 

15 Lyons sized things up quickly. “What you have is an apparent murder-suicide but with only one victim.

 

16 “Evidence of foul play, with power and phones cut, but no question that Daniel pulled the trigger after leaving a rather quixotic note.”

 

17 “You think he wrote that tweet?” Kine asked. “It’s consistent. A mutual friend in the philosophy department called Dan a Born Again Nihilist.

 

18 “Daniel was like an evangelist in condemning materialism, hedonism, all the ways we insulate ourselves from life.

 

19 “He was known to give spontaneous lectures on the evils of the X Box.” “Okay,” said Sonia. “But was he suicidal?”

 

20 “No. Absolutely not. He was a man of passion. For words. For life. I think it was a Rommel. I think Daniel was forced to kill himself.”
___________________________________-
BVI

My audio book, the detective story AN EXERCISE IN WISHFUL THINKING, is my gift to you. PLAYING TIME 2.5 HOURS. Click the link to find it:

http://www.24novels.com/2014/03/17/an-excersize-in-wishful-thinking-audio/


Tweet Thirteen, pt. 2

13

This week continues my tale TWEET THIRTEEN. You can read part 1 here: http://bit.ly/1iuDdbX

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TWEET THIRTEEN pt. 2

1 The slender blond was a live in student of Daniel Bennett’s. Claire Hutchins, just 20, was from Iowa. Good Hutterite stock.

 

2 They spoke on the veranda, amid the chirp of crickets. “Hutterite?” Kine said, surprised.

 

3 Claire, who had gathered herself as the detectives checked out the scene, gave her head a rueful shake. “I’m a Hutterleft.”

 

4 Her story seemed simple enough. A girl with a voraciously inquisitive mind, who liked the boys and hated the rules.

 

5 A cousin smuggled books into the community for her. She loved sci-fi. Arthur C. Clarke, Bradbury, Asimov. They transported her.

 

6 Then she read Huxley and Orwell, and was transported in a whole new way. She was struck by these tales, so foreign yet so familiar.

 

7 Claire wanted to explore that world. And one night she simply did. She was gone 5 hours by milking time. She hitchhiked to freedom.

 

8 Her first ride was an old guy in a pick up. “The grass ain’t greener out here.” Claire thought of ANIMAL FARM. “I know. It’s run by pigs.”

 

9 On the interstate she was picked up by a trucker en route to Chicago. Claire doubled over laughing. When asked why she said “Hog Town.”

 

10 By noon she was on the University of Chicago campus. Some Fine Arts students gave her lunch. By supper she had a place to stay.

 

11 A well heeled gal from Maine had a place off campus. That night Claire cleaned, did laundry, and politely rebuffed the girl’s advances.

 

12 Claire wove tales her roommate loved to hear. There are no end of lesbians hiding in Hutterite closets, no end of groping in the barns.

 

13 In fact most girls back home were as boy crazy as Claire was. Although Claire loved the mind games most, wrapping boys around her finger.

 

14 A propensity that would serve her well when she sat in on an English class, and met the dashing Daniel Bennett.

 

15 Claire asked tons of questions on Orwell. The class was 18th century English lit. “Talk to Henry,” Bennett said. “He’s our Orwell guy.”

 

16 His rebuffs were an incredible turn on to Claire. She left the class determined to climb this Everest, and win this brilliant man.

 

17 She spent the night reading Alexander Pope. The next day she quoted chunks of THE RAPE OF THE LOCK to the professor from memory.

 

18 “How long you been reading Pope?” asked Bennett. She started to lie. “Yesterday,” Bennett said. “Don’t you find the language difficult?”

 

19 Claire, who had swaths of the King James Bible locked in her head, just shrugged. “Not really.”

 

20 Bennett arranged for her to article his course. Within a month she moved into the farmhouse where the professor would blow out his brains.

________________________
BVI

My audio book, the detective story AN EXERCISE IN WISHFUL THINKING, is my gift to you. PLAYING TIME 2.5 HOURS. Click the link to find it:

http://www.24novels.com/2014/03/17/an-excersize-in-wishful-thinking-audio/


Support my Insanity

Don's the madman who wrote 24 3-Day novels in one year, all live online. His madness continues with free audio books (in the audio menu) and the all new TALES IN TWENTY #TWEETS (#T20T). If you enjoy the content please consider a donation, to help the insanity continue unabated!

AUDIO SAMPLE

An excerpt from my story THE REDEMPTION OF WILBUR BLAKE was read on the CBC national radio program AS IT HAPPENS, which is also heard across the States on NPR. Part One follows. The rest of the story, and other audio books, can be found by clicking on the audio menu above my blogs. Enjoy:

SAMPLE

CAMBRIAN now on SCRIBD

You can read my horror novel Cambrian absolutely free on Scribd, the Netflix of books. But you don't need a Scribd subscription to read it. Click on the cover for a direct link to Cambrian.