Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New novel concept

Starting a new novel concept. Going a bit deeper into the realm of fantasy than I ever have before, so it should be interesting, but we'll see how it pans out. For now, enjoy the first 5 pages, packed with gunslingery goodness. And by goodness, I mean stuff I wrote when tired and haven't even read back over yet.


It was late evening and the setting desert sun bled light the color of faraway dying leaves into the sky. In the town of Khalish, a single stranger sat at the weekly meeting, his features hidden almost entirely by his sand-worn traveler's mantle and hood. Only his eyes showed, and they were expressionless, emotionless, yet sharp. The townsfolk hardly noticed, however, filing in around him in the circular room of the town hall. As he leaned against the wall only yards from the exit, the locals pushed and fought for seats on the rings of carved stone benches surrounding the little open circle at the middle of the room. Standing there was the man they all came to see, the town's unopposed chief, shaman, healer, and guardian. From the tattoos running up and down his aged skin, the stranger could tell he was an accomplished and powerful mage.

He's got a “Band of Jygalis on each bicep, the stranger observed silently, that means he's got plenty of strength in those old bones. The “Rising Serpent” on his right wrist means he's got potent poison spells...and that he's right handed. And the “Eyes of Oasis” on his forehead mean he's an illusionist. The stranger slowly, calmly, put a hand into a pocket in his mantle and kept his eyes on the man in the center. The dry skin of his hand met the small piece of lashwood he had cut from a bush before he'd reached the desert, the blade-like thorns threatening to tear into him if he pressed against it any harder.

The dull roar of the townspeople died down instantly as the Chief raised his head and looked out at them. For a brief moment, his eyes met the stranger's. A normal man's eyes would've missed the minute smirk that graced the lips of the Chief for that instant. A normal man wouldn't have even read anything into such a small, almost imperceptible sign. But the stranger was anything but a normal man, and he knew exactly what that little insignificant smirk meant. He pressed the back of his hand against the lashwood feeling the intense sting as the thorns pierced into his flesh. He was ready for what would inevitably come.

For a moment, before the Chief began to speak, the stranger recalled a time when he wasn't so prepared. Still in training, he had run into a master illusionist who had used him like a puppet. To him, the living dead were invading, coming in hordes for his juicy living meat. In reality, the zombies he was attempting to kill were average citizens of the city of Leddick, and, were his Master not there to cut the magical strings that bound him, he would've slaughtered the whole town. Under his coverings, he smiled to himself— he'd come a long way since then.

In the silence of the gathering, the Chief cleared his throat, then produced a long, ornate golden pipe. Packing it with some esoteric blend of tobacco and narcotics, he produced a small flame from his index fingertip. Lighting the pipe, he took a single long drag and then exhaled, shooting an impossibly long and dense stream of smoke out into his audience. Starting already, the stranger thought, a little impatient, aren't we? The audience shared none of the same skepticism, however, and they ooh-ed and aah-ed as the fictional smoke filled the room. To them, it was real as could be; they could smell it, feel the heat of it on their skin, felt their lungs burn slightly as they breathed it in.

“People!” the Chief began, his loud voice thundering through the crowd,” MY people! I come to you today, as I do at the end of every month, with a lesson. My people, it has been a fruitful year for us, and in the days to come, we can only hope to enjoy such bounty. In the last month, the trade route between the great green North and the Trade City Lakhas connected our humble land with the great wealth and influence of the world. Truly, this is a great and amazing thing! Now, like never before, we people of Khalish have access to things many of you have never seen, never before even dreamt of. Wellstones, holding vast supplies of magical energy, medicines and clothing made from the exotic plants and animals of the forests to the north, tools made from the powerful metals mined from the towering mountains of the east, and more now pass by our doorsteps.”

As he spoke and gestured with his hands, the smoke began to swirl around him. Slowly but surely, the smoke began to take shape until it formed a model of Khalish, itself, sprawling just above the head of the Chief. In his model, small figures moved about happily, and caravans of camels marched through, leaving behind boxes that burst apart when touched by the smoke-people, swirling about them and making them larger and more jubilant.

“This, my friends, my family, my people, is most assuredly a cause for great joy. But...I would not be standing here before you if stories ended so simply. No, my people, these joys, these wonders, they are great things, but they must be used carefully. You see, hidden here in the desert, we have suffer the pains of seclusion from the world, but we have also enjoyed the benefits of seclusion. While the rest of the world suffered injustices, prejudices, wars, and the like, we have always been a family, a collection of people entirely at peace with one another. But now we, too, are a part of the world, and we must be careful that the poisons of the world outside of Khalish do not taint our beloved home,” he said, the citizens of his smoke village being strangled and consumed by the boxes left by the caravan. The crowd gasped and whispered amongst themselves. The stranger watched in silence, the pain in his hand keeping his perceptions of reality and of the illusion equal but separate.

“Allow me to tell you a story, my children, of a people that lived long before any of us. They lived before Karak set foot upon our world, forming the desert we call home. They were known as the Akiri, and they lived thousands of years before any of us were born. The archeologists of the world are just now learning about them, but they are people we have long known about. The great spires that still stand in the desert that we use as way points were theirs long ago, the pieces of strange green glass that we still find in shards were theirs, and the only surviving ruin of their once apparently great civilization, Djarah, sits in the middle of this desert of ours. But where have they gone?”

The smoke dispersed and formed itself into single figures constructing an even larger city than the mock Khalish. This one had massive spires, and as the figures built, color flooded into the smoke, filling the city they built.

“The Akiri, from what little remains of them, were obviously a a people with power and knowledge vastly superior to our own. And yet, they are gone now, their greatness left to become no more than grains of sand blowing about in the wind.”

The color faded from the smoke city and it and its inhabitants collapsed, leaving only the slowly expanding cloud of smoke.

“But then, how are we to last? If we are to believe smarter, stronger people were eventually destroyed and forgotten, then how can we hope to escape the same fate? The answer lies in the Akiri's power, itself. You see, my children, Djarah shows the fate that befell the Akiri. The last true remnant of their culture is a temple, in which a massive painting depicts the people of the Akiri cities praying for an angel of death, who comes and rains crimson lightening upon them as they rejoice. Do you get it, children? Do you understand? The Akiri destroyed themselves, not by accident, but on purpose! They intentionally used their immense power to wipe themselves completely off of the scrolls of history. But why? Because they knew they had become corrupt and wished that no one that would come after them would make the same mistakes! That, my children, is the evil power of the wonders that now pass by us. Power poisons the good man, strength corrupts the just! You must now be ever watchful for the burning claws of the world's greed and lust for more power, more strength sinking into our fair city. You may think it cannot happen, that our humble village has not the value to gain the attention of those in the great cities that sit on thrones of greed to come for us, but you are naive!”

The smoke began to swirl around the Chief faster and faster as he spoke with more and more fire and passion. The townspeople were lost in the illusion, completely swept up by the force of his spell and they were seconds away from leaping out of their seats in a frenzy.

“You see, my dearest sons and daughters, there is already a dog of some government here to claim what is yours for his masters! He sits amongst you, waiting for his chance to sell you all for a profit! He has not learned from the mistakes of our forefathers, the Akiri, but instead rushes to the same bitter fate!”

The smoke swirled faster now, forming a single rushing cloud that spun rapidly around the Chief as if it were a living thing. The stranger's free hand inched slowly to his waist, seeing what was coming and knowing just how quickly he could respond to it. Sure enough the Chief threw his hands into the air in a wild shout, his whole body trembling, before dropping a single arm in an accusing point at the stranger.

“It is him my children! HE is the filthy vermin that seeks to poison our homes! HE is the death of the Akiri! HE is the death of us, lest we be the death of him first!”

The smoke broke free of the rings it spun, flying directly for the stranger as the crowd in front of him became a frenzied mob, scrambling to their feet. Had he been unprepared like he was in Leddick, the smoke would've blinded him and the mob would've gotten to him. They would've torn at him and beat him until he bled to death, then they'd have buried him out in the sand. There his story would've ended. But he was not unprepared. He had learned from Leddick; that was his gift. He always learned.

His free right hand moved to the holster at his waist and gripped the solid grip of his weapon, pulling it free and leveling it at the closest member of the mob in half a second. It was fast, but not perfect. Lucian had always had the best of them all when it came to his work with their weapon. His draw was so fast you could hardly see it, and he could shoot a fly from across the room before most could even see it. His talent was a seed that, in time, could perhaps even have grown to match their Master, who could have shot just the wing of that same fly off. But that was not how their story had gone.

His left hand came free of the pocket of his mantle and, without a moment of hesitation, quickly yet methodically, it fanned the hammer of the large revolver in his right. Six deafening cracks echoed through the room, and six streaks of white hot flame flashed out of the barrel. The angry streams of flame moved faster than even the stranger's trained eye could see, burning fist-sized holes through the ranks of the brainwashed masses. Without thinking, his hands and feet moved, opening the cylinder of his gun and emptying the spent and smoking casings as he dashed out of the room out into the night.

The mob was dead on his heels as he reached the door, but by the time he was under the stars, his gun had another round in it, and he slammed the cylinder back in. Whirling around, he fired again, the shell burying solidly in the chest of the woman at the front of his attackers. Moments earlier, she had been foaming at the mouth, baying for blood. Now, for only an instant, the illusion faded and her expression filled with sadness. What seemed like ages ago, the stranger would've felt sorry for her right then and there in the moment bitter, painful reality flooded back to her— her last second alive. He'd have hesitated, then, and probably gotten himself killed, or at least too hurt to move on, which was almost worse. But he'd come too far in his journey for that. He'd learned better. He didn't so much as blink at the sight of her anguish.

When her instant of clarity ended, the shell erupted inside of her. She was killed almost instantly as the magic stored within the tiny, yet potent wellstone inside of the bullet released its energy, sending great spears and shocks of ice tearing through her body until they broke free. The bloody ice blocked the path of his other pursuers momentarily, but both he and they knew there was another exit, and he wasn't leaving without preparations. No, there was no retreat for either side of this fight out in the brutal desert night. But in his few seconds of hard-earned reprieve, the stranger ran his hand through his pouch, realizing how low he was on ammunition.

Fifteen type 1's, three type 4's, and one type 5 left, huh?...No...that can't be right. I should still have more than that.

That's when he felt the sting. He had gotten cocky, picking himself out of the easy first layer of the illusion without ever even looking for the second. He focused on the faint whisps of pain he could still feel in his real hand as the illusory citizens of Khalish escaped the town hall and made a mad dash for him.

Come on! Come on, you slow bastard! Move your real hand! Feel the real pain! COME ON!

Deep inside, his subconscious listened to his cries, and the pain of the lashwood raking across his torn and bloodied skin became all too real. The real sensation brought the real world back with it, and all at once the world became a blur of two realities, one actual, one fictional, each with it's own distinct attack on his senses. His eyes saw both the enraged townsfolk reaching him, grabbing for his clothes, his face, his anything, and the inside of the hall, something metal glinting in the torchlight headed his way.

Blade. Move or die, rook.

Again, his body listened. This time, there was no need to force it. This time, the voice in his head was not simply his own, but a combination of his and something else. It was the voice of a lifetime of training, studying. It was the voice of a man who had lived his entire life on the razor's edge between life and death. It was a voice of authority, of knowledge, cold, unwavering, and calm. It was his voice, but it was also his Master's. His body listened without question to that voice; the one he called the Killer.

As the knife clinked off the wall behind him in the real world, the stranger's legs threw him into a roll. As he righted himself, his gun was already drawn and aimed at the source, but it had already fled, the cloak of the Khalish Chief fluttering out the door.

“So! You managed to defeat both of my illusions? Your reputation is not unwarranted. Your kind are truly something else!” His voice echoed in the hall, though his body was already outside. The stranger stood and listened, checking his body for any real damage. “For a souldead bastard, you certainly are capable of some amazing things. I saw into your dreams...a weapon that allows even your cursed kind to use magic? Interesting! Very interesting! But I know all of your tricks now, and I still have many more up my sleeve. You were a fool not to run while you had the chance!”

As the Chief's cackling echoed throughout the room, the stranger stood, checked his gun, and then looked out over the sleeping crowd still seated in front of him. He wondered if they were sharing his illusion or if they had their own, but he knew it didn't matter either way. One way or another, their beloved Chief was about to die at his hand, and they certainly wouldn't love him for that.

Outside, the Chief stood in the center of town, waiting with a devilish grin on his wrinkled face. Three days earlier, as the stranger had first set foot in Khalish, he knew who and what this man was. He was an agent of the Kingdom of Ali'sat, sent to this seemingly insignificant town to use his talents to seamlessly replace their old leader. By doing so, the Kingdom would gain a vital resting point for their legion of trade caravans as they made their way along the Burning Path, the infinitely dangerous primary trade route between North and South. He'd seen it three times already on his journey, and this was the second time he had been identified by the Ali'sati agent as a threat. This would be the second time he would have to make an enemy of the very land he was walking into.

For a moment, the Chief and the stranger stood in the dim light from the torches hanging outside of the stone houses, staring at each other. The stranger took a deep breath, letting the Killer take more and more control of his mind, his body relaxing yet ready to move without a hint of hesitation.

Aim with your mind. Never mistake your gun for your weapon, child. Your weapon is your mind. Perceive your opponent with not just your eyes, but all of your senses. In this world, even the sharpest eyes can be fooled by the wave of a mage's hand, but your perception extends far beyond your sight. Kill without hesitation. In this world, child, you are amongst the cursed, and there will be few who would hesitate to kill you. Give them the same, or die.

In an instant, the barrel of the stranger's revolver erupted, the deafening crack of a gunshot echoing throughout the sleeping town. Against a normal man, the lance of pure heat that blazed forth from his weapon would've meant instant death. Against this trained agent of the Ali'sati, the stream of lightening-quick flames met the dull, translucent green of his barrier, and it fought against it until it burnt out into nothingness. The Chief, cackled madly, raising his hands in a sweeping motion, sending a wave of sand at the stranger as if it were water. For him, against a normal man, the wave would've been too massive to avoid, burying the stranger in the cold sand, asphyxiating him. The stranger, too, was no normal man, however, and his second shot connected directly with the deadly wave, bursting on impact.

The explosion blew open enough of a hole, and the stranger was already moving at full speed, throwing himself at the weak point in the wave. Bursting through, he rolled, aimed, and fanned the revolver's hammer. Three bullets made contact with the illusionist's barrier like rocks thrown at a hanging curtain, slowing to a halt inches from his face before they exploded, forming massive jagged flowers of ice that crashed to the sand at his feet.

“One shot left in that weapon of yours! What magic can you hope to throw at me? I know your game, and no magic someone like you could throw at me could possibly break my barri—“

The last crack of gunfire silenced the Chief's gloating, and the sanguine splash of his blood splashed against the sand only moments before his body collapsed on top of it. The stranger stood and holstered his gun, brushing the sand out of his mantle before cautiously examining the body of his foe. It was no illusion, the man was dead.

He had been right about a few things. The stranger's weapon was designed to activate and fire bullets made out of specially refined and charged pieces of wellstone, allowing even someone souldead to use magical power in combat. He was also right in that, as a powerful mage, his magic rejection barrier was likely more than most anything the stranger could fire at him. He, however, didn't realize that the gun could also be loaded with simple metal bullets.

Aim with your mind. That is your true weapon...

The Chief's dwelling was simple at first, matching most others in the town in both size and design. What lied underneath, however, is what the stranger was after. Hidden beneath a trapdoor under his bed was an extra room carved right into the bedrock. Here was all of the evidence of his position within the Ali'sati government; a uniform, letters from his superiors detailing his orders, his new identity, a complete dossier on the man he was replacing and every other citizen of Khalish, and more. Most importantly, there were maps of the desert, including ones detailing the locations of not only the great spires that dotted the landscape, but the stranger's destination: Djarah, the lost temple of the Akiri.

As he collected the maps, he noticed the totem of symbol covered wellstone in the corner of the room. It was the central lynchpin that held the web of illusion over the town in place. By destroying it, the townspeople would be freed from its sway. They would realize that their government had killed their leader and installed one of their own, all to brainwash them into accepting the establishment of a trade route that would drastically change their lives. He knew it was the only moral choice, that it wasn't right to leave an entire town under the sway of a dead man's magic. He knew that they would revile him as a murderer and that the Ali'sati would only support them in that belief.

But he left it be, and left the town of Khalish behind. To him, it was a simple choice between making enemies of the people of a single desert village, as opposed to making enemies of one of the most powerful nations in the world. Morality wasn't something he ever felt like he could bother with. To him, there was only his goal.

He could still remember the cold spring morning where his Master gather all of his children around a bonfire. It was their graduation ceremony, marking their transition from being no more than weak, ignorant children and members of a minority that was loathed by society into the fledgling stages of something more. It was on that night that the five of them were given their first guns, officially making them gunslinger novices. It was also on that night that their Master gave each of them their most vital lesson. Pulling each child aside, he told them, in no uncertain terms, what their true weapon, the power that went beyond the gun in their hand, was.

“Aim with your mind,” he had said, the glow of the towering fire dividing his stern face into vibrant orange light and dim shadow. “That is your true weapon. Amongst all of my children, you have the greatest mind, the greatest intuition. That is where your true strength lies, and because of this, you, child, have the most potential. But in you, too, is a lack of heart. You strive so desperately for what you feel you must do that you care not for others. You would use any means to reach your goals, and that makes you cold. This is where your greatest weakness lies, and, because of this, your story is one of loneliness.”

At the time, he didn't believe his Master. After all, he was one of five novices under a man that was seemingly capable of anything. He would always have these people, this family at his side. But he was wrong. Four years later, the Imperial Army marched on their home with orders to arrest his Master. He surrendered willingly, and was carried off in chains to be executed. Days later, the soldiers returned with orders to capture anyone who remained, killing anyone who resisted. He and his fellow students fled, scattering like falling leaves in the wind. He had seen none of them since.

But the man the Ustian Empire announced was Isaac Desgarro, his Master and adoptive father, the man they executed, was not Isaac Desgarro. Had the real Isaac escaped and been replaced to sate the public? Was he involved with the government somehow? One thing was for certain: Somewhere, he was alive. And one of his gunslingers was going to find him at any cost.

Days of Discordia, chapters 1 and 2

This was something I started working on last semester as a lark. Every time my friends and I would get together, eventually, given enough time, alcohol, or both, we'd start telling stories about the summer of '09. Between just Tyler, Greg, and I, we had enough material that the stories rarely ever got tired, and so, one day, I decided to start writing them down. This is that chronicle, titled "Days of Discordia: One Man's Tales of Dark Times and the Friends They Make"


Chapter 1: A necessary introduction

I might be wrong, but I think it’s a safe assumption to make that pretty much every group of friends around my age works in more or less the same way. You get together in one place or another every now and again, you screw around, you tell jokes, and you tell stories. And, as I’m sure is the case with most people, with my group of friends, the stories are more often than not the funniest part of the whole experience and everyone’s got a few stories attached to them that get told time and time again just because they’re funny as hell. For example, we bring up the story about how our friend Tom once told an entire joke one poker night just so he could mention that he can touch his dick to his asshole all the time because that’s just who Tom is. We still haven’t stopped making fun of another friend for the fact that he’s drunkenly screwed two chicks without condoms (well, we do it less after we made him swear an oath to bag up from now on). And Tyler still cracks me up when he says that the first time he kissed one of his exes, he used the line, “Your face…is close to my face.”

That’s the thing: These stories aren’t just things we’ve done or things that have happened to us, they’re who we are. Tom is the kind of guy who would hear a joke about touching one’s dick to his asshole and would instantly have to go try it. TP is a damn smart kid, but he can learn lessons awful slow sometimes. And Tyler may be one of the most well spoken and intelligent people I know, but he is absolutely terrible with words from time to time.

Therein is part of the point of this little collection of stories. What you’re about to read is in no way fictional, it holds very little exaggeration, and nothing has been added for shock or entertainment value. These are no fish tales meant to impress. This is an account of the summer had by a couple of guys and yours truly, a story made of stories that explain a lot of things about us. Who are we? Why does knowing us matter even a little? Nobody, and it doesn’t. But hopefully, you’ll get a kick out of reading it all just the same, and maybe you’ll learn a bit too.

After all, part of a good story is having a point you’re supposed to be able to glean and think about. It’s my/our hope that by reading our tales, you gain a bit of wisdom to help you in your own lives. Because, really, while parts of these stories are ridiculous, the situations that caused them and the people in them are not. We’re just a handful of average people, just like the majority of people that’ll pick this up.

Chapter 2: Creating the Trifecta

My friends and I have this theory: You can have as many friends as you want, but you’re always going to have friends that are closer and more vital than others. With these friends, the optimal group size is always three. With three people, you have size enough to get multiple opinions and have the talents of extra people, but you don’t have anyone that isn’t necessary, there’s no having that one friend that just doesn’t really fit, and there’s no need for a leader position because every member is equally vital for any plan to go off without a hitch. Thus, the theory requires the creation of the Trifecta, the group made of your two closest friends and the two people you trust the most. My Trifecta consists of myself, Greg Reince, and Tyler Kuisti.

I met Greg Reince in our sophomore year of high school. The two of us had the same Honors English II class. There’s really nothing special about how we met, and if anything, it’s only remarkable for how completely and totally unremarkable it was. The two of us sat next to each other one day, I saw he was wearing a UCLA hat and we proceeded to just run through like a checklist of similar interests.
You’re from Southern California? Me too…
You like UCLA and not USC (which would totally be a deal breaker)? Good…
You’re into planes and flight? Okay, I think we’re friends now.

From that point forward, Greg and I were more or less instantly good friends.
I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Greg is just a universally likable kind of guy. Honestly, I’ve never met anyone that didn’t agree that he’s a great guy, nor is Greg ever really pissed at anyone. The best way I can think of to explain Greg is with a video game metaphor.

Growing up, one of my favorite games was called Harvest Moon. If you’ve never played it, it’s a game that, much reminiscent of The Sims and the like, is a game that should not be fun to play, only taken to a unique extreme. Whereas playing The Sims gives one the feeling of being a god, toying with the lives of lives of lesser beings at your whim (‘cause let’s be honest, pretty much everyone has deleted the ladder to the pool and watched them drown or trapped them in a room without a door and watched them panic, piss themselves, and then starve), Harvest Moon gives you no such omnipotent satisfaction. No, in Harvest Moon you control one character, and your goal is to make a successful farm, make everyone in your town like you, get married, and spit out a baby. And this entails everything you’d think it would: sowing seeds, watering, buying and caring for animals, harvesting, collecting milk, eggs, and the like, talking to everyone in town, giving girls presents, etc. It’s like Farmville… just not fucking terrible.

But the game isn’t slow and daunting like real farming, because then it’d be as boring as it sounds. Oh no, one minute in real time is an hour in game time, and there are only about half as many hours in a Harvest Moon day as in a real one. So every day, your little farmer wakes up, eats his breakfast, checks the weather…and then proceeds to work his ass off at breakneck speeds until he gets enough done to justify sleep or passes out from exhaustion wherever he may be. And this was every fucking day.

For like three years.

And is your overworked, overstressed little protagonist ever depressed? Nope. Does he ever complain or refuse to do things? Only when he’s so tired and physically exhausted he’s one hoe-swing away from collapsing, and even then it’s only a way of saying, “Watch it jackass, if I pass out, I’ll wake up late and won’t be able to get as much work done.”

I have this idea that anyone can be content in pretty much any circumstance. I’ve met single moms who work all day every day just to scrape by in jobs they hate that were totally content with life. My grandpa lived in a nursing home for years after having a stroke doctors said should’ve killed him, getting around on a wheelchair with a diminished ability to speak, and he was still pretty content with things most of the time. My mom works two jobs, gets home, does every chore around the house from cooking to laundry, gets a handful of hours of sleep a night, and is still pretty happy with things for the most part. At the same time, I’ve known countless people who have perfectly good and easy lives that bitch and moan and are always depressed. Happiness and contentedness are things that anyone can have at really any time, you just have to be mentally ready and willing to just be happy.

Harvest Moon Man, then, is the embodiment of this idea. His life sucks a whole lot of ass when the game starts. He gets dropped off with a one room house, an old run down farm, and a town of strangers and told to make it all perfect or go home in shame. He then works harder than most real people could for the duration of the game to make it happen, and is perfectly content the whole time. He’s set in his routine, he has his work to do and his goal to reach, and that’s all he needs.

Greg Reince is Harvest Moon Man. That boy works himself to the bone every day in school, in his job, and in his internship. He studies constantly, gets stellar grades, maintains an ever growing number of friendships, etc. And he’s rarely ever depressed, he seldom complains about anything, and in five years of friendship, I’ve only ever seen him well and truly pissed maybe once or twice. He makes friends more easily than anyone I’ve ever known, and there are always a handful of girls into him. At the end of the day, he knows who he is and what he wants, and he’s got the work he needs to do to get to the goals he has set for himself, and that’s all he needs.

Tyler Kuisti, however, is a very different sort of man.

I met Tyler one week into my freshman year of college. I had gotten a call from Greg earlier that week saying he planned on going home that weekend because it was a three day weekend and, as brand new freshmen, we were all a little homesick. He offered me a ride back home if I wanted it, and I gladly accepted, already missing the comforts of a summer that had ended and my home. A few days later, when we were planning things out, he mentioned we were getting driven up by two friends of his, and I was totally fine with that. To be perfectly honest, I had left high school with a lot of friends whose company I thoroughly enjoyed and had entered college to find an intellectual wasteland, filled mostly with people I couldn’t stand. My hope was that, if they were people Greg could enjoy, they might just be people I could too.
My hope was half fulfilled. On the one hand, I met Lindsay Oden then. From the moment we met, I couldn’t help but notice the signs of an overwhelming douchebaggery that lurked just beneath his exterior. I couldn’t put my finger on it yet, but something about him was annoying, like every word he said had the distinct edge of I-think-I’m-better-than-you. On the other hand, I met Tyler. I knew from about 15 minutes into the hour and a half ride home that Tyler and I were of a very similar sort. My introduction to him came in the form of a story told to Greg and I about how Tyler had once gotten peer-pressured into trying to power slide around a corner in the snow. He dropped the e-brake to his Neon, the car spun sideways…and then just kept going the direction it had been heading, wheels spinning pointlessly. The Neon ran up a snow berm, gutting its undercarriage, leaving shattered bits and pieces of its intestines and a stream of the orange Kool-Aid colored transmission fluid in its wake. At this point, the car was nearly totaled without showing any overt signs, and Tyler had a choice to make: call for help and just leave the car where it was or limp home in his wrecked car and wait for his dad, a mechanic, to get home.

He chose option B and managed to make it home. His dad got home later, checked the car out and told Tyler he was damn lucky the deathtrap he’d driven home hadn’t exploded halfway. They called and make the insurance claim, but Tyler realized he couldn’t tell the insurance company that he had wrecked his car because the guy sitting next to him had dared him to try to slide around a corner in the dead of winter. Instead, he tells them there had only been one other person, TP, in the car, and that they had hit some black ice while driving home, slid, and the car had wrecked. After offering this far less costly story, he hangs up, dials TP, and establishes the story with him. Sure enough, the insurance company calls TP the second Tyler hangs up, and they get away with it.

Here was what I had been looking for in the Palouse, someone with, for better or worse, a lot of sense and a brilliant mind. As we talked, I was sure that was who Tyler Kuisti was; from the way he talked and the stories he told, you could tell the boy had a brilliant mind. But at the same time, I could see a piece of myself in him, the sort of apathetic reluctance to take the hard road in anything but what interests him, despite the capability to do well on that road in most situations. You can tell he knows it too, and part of him laments being that way, part of him wishes he could be a Harvest Moon Man. But he’s not. Tyler is a man of a whole lot of potential, but a real drought of Give-a-Fuck who lets the weight of his world rest heavy on his shoulders.

And I think that’s the essence of Tyler Kuisti. As easily one of the smartest kids I’ve ever known, Tyler would have no problem with being a 4.0 student, landing a great career, and getting loaded. But because the steps to get there and stay there would be entirely uninteresting to him and wholly unsatisfying, he goes down a different track. Because, in his eyes, you can have your down times (as being smart naturally lends itself to being a bit morose a bit more often), but if you’re not enjoying life on the whole, if you’re not happy and having a good time or working towards that, there’s no point.

When I was talking to him and trying to ameliorate some of his concerns about his future awhile back, I had to bring up the Harvest Moon metaphor for him. I said we both knew that, Greg, were he to be dropped into that world, would do exactly what the game expected of him. He’d work his ass off day and night until he had his wife and kid, his successful farm, and the adoration of all the townsfolk. And what’s more, he’d be happy doing it. Then I asked him what he’d do if he were dropped into the Harvest Moon world. His response: “I’d probably plant just enough crops to make money so I could sit in the bar all night with my handful of friends and hit on the skanky bar chick.”

So those are my two. That is the Trifecta I was dealt by the steady hands of fate. At the time where all three of us started hanging out, though we all had the gut feeling we’d be good friends for a good long while, we had no idea we were the Trifecta. We were just friends, hanging out once or twice a week to play poker and shoot the shit.

Playing Catch-up

It strikes me that I haven't actually posted anything new to this in awhile, and that bothers me. Before I got a job, my goal was three updates a week, because I planned on writing as much as possible. After I got a job, I still planned on writing as much as possible, but with working 36 hours a week and having plenty of other responsibilities as well, that definitely doesn't add up to three worthy stories or bits of writing a week. Such is life, I suppose, but I still feel bad. After all, I need to sate my loyal audience (all...what, three of you?). so, in that effort, here's a bunch of shit I've already done to keep you all interested.