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Saturday, July 30, 2022

Terror Dome: A Short Story (Part 2)

    Jake combed each aisle and could barely find the items that he came to the store to buy. It was slim pickings at best―all the milk was dated and was about to expire in a few days, and the store didn’t have the deli meat that he normally bought. However, he was able to get a 12-pack case of Pepsi, bread, and eggs and got some essentials like toilet paper, paper towels, cocoa butter lotion, and toothpaste. The checkout lines weren’t long at all, and he was at the cash register in no time. When he reached the cashier, he noticed that there was only a credit card machine and not a cash register at the front of the checkout counter belt. He also noticed that all of the other lines were strictly automated, and the customers were scanning and bagging their own groceries.

    “Y’all don’t take cash anymore?” Jake asked.

    “Nope, just debit and credit cards,” the lady cashier answered.

    “When did this happen?”

    “They swapped out all of the cash registers earlier last week.”

    Jake pulled out his debit card and inserted it into the credit card machine. He then typed in his PIN and got his receipt.

    “Have a good day,” the cashier said.

    “Thanks, you do the same.”

    He left the store and strolled back home with three plastic bags in one hand and the case of Pepsi in the other. He was still reeling over seeing his girlfriend Leah kissing that other guy and was pissed over the fact that he had just spent nearly a hundred dollars on the few grocery items he had bought. It took him fifteen minutes to get home, and he put away his stuff before heading out to his friend Mike’s apartment. His phone rang before he could get out the front door.

    “Hey, what’s up, Brian?”

    “Can you pick up a case of beer on your way over here?”

    “Yeah, what y’all drinking?”

    “Budweiser is cool.”

    “Alright, later.

    “Later.”

    He quickly locked his front door behind him and hopped in his 2024 black Chevy Camaro with tinted windows and chrome rims that was parked in front of his house. There was a liquor store a block from Cottage Grove Avenue on 87th Street, so he parked in front of the store and went inside. There were a stack of 24-pack of Budweiser on sale for $34.99, so he grabbed one and walked toward the front of the store to pay for it. He then pulled out two, crisp twenty-dollar bills from his pocket and handed them to the cashier.

    “Debit or credit only,” the cashier said.

    “Huh?” Jake was stunned. “You don’t accept cash anymore?”

    “Where have you been? There was a major announcement on the news last week that all cash will no longer be in circulation by the end of the year. I got the jump on switching out my two cash registers for these two credit card terminals a couple of days ago.”

    “Damn, I knew that the Federal Reserve was gonna do away with cash soon, but I didn’t expect it to be this soon, though.”

    “Yeah, you better spend your cash and coins asap before it’s too late. Everybody’s starting to switch over, and soon you won’t be able to use cash anywhere.”

    “I see.”

    Jake inserted his chipped debit card, and the cashier handed him his receipt moments later.

    “Take care,” the cashier said.

    “You, too.”

    He quickly hopped back in his car and drove off. He knew that change was on the horizon but was out of the loop because he hadn’t kept up with the news lately or noticed the subtle transgressions of his ex against him for that matter. He was too wrapped up in work as an associate attorney for a law firm in the West Loop to pay close attention to anything. He took Stony Island Avenue to Hyde Park and was parked in front of Mike’s apartment on 57th and Stony Island before the parking spaces began to be filled. Mike buzzed him in a few minutes later, and he took the stairs up to the second floor of the apartment complex. Mike had left the door slightly ajar.

    “What’s up Mike?” Jake gave him some dap.

    “Nothing much,” Mike answered. “Where were you earlier?”

    “I wasn’t feelin’ it today,” Jake answered, giving Brian dap as well. “Besides, my ankle is still sore from the last time we played.”

    “But that was three weeks ago,” Mike said.

    “He’s getting old,” Brian joked. “Those old bones don’t heal like they used to.”

    “Whatever, man,” Jake said. “So, where’s everybody?”

    “They all said they got shit to do, so it’s just the three of us,” Brian answered.

    “Well, I wish you would’ve said something, bro…I would’ve bought a 12-pack instead.”

    “Damn, cheap ass,” Brian said. “You can afford it, big time.”

    “This shit ain’t cheap, man,” Jake said. “That goddamn engagement ring set a brutha back.”

    “Did you propose yet?” Mike asked.

    “Nah…”

    “Why not?” Mike asked.

    “We broke up last night,” Jake answered solemnly.

    “Are you okay?” Mike asked.

    “Nah, but I will be,” Jake answered. “I really don’t have the time or the luxury to feel sorry for myself.”

    “Yeah, but that shit still has to hurt, bro,” Mike added. “You two were together for a while.”

Leah Jordan

    “Yeah, three long years,” Jake said. “I tried my best to make her happy, but nothing I did was ever good enough.”

    “Maybe it’s for the best, Jake,” Brian said.

    “Yeah, it is…I saw her earlier today at Jewel with another dude. I saw them in the parking lot, and they kissed right in front of me.”

    “Damn, did they see you?” Mike asked.

    “Nah, they drove off and never saw me.”

    “You should’ve confronted her ass,” Brian said.

    “For what?” Mike asked. “She ultimately did your ass a favor, Jake.”

    “I know,” Jake said.
 
    “What time does the Bulls game start?” Brian asked, changing the subject.
 
    “At two o’clock, I think,” Mike answered.

    Jake ripped the cardboard case open and grabbed a beer and asked, “Y’all want one?”

    “Yes, pass me one,” Mike answered, “and I’ll put some in the freezer.”

    Jake handed Mike two beers, and Mike handed one to Brian before he grabbed a handful of the bottles and put them in the freezer.

    “Can I get a glass of ice?” Jake asked.

    “Me, too,” Brian said.

    “I got you,” Mike answered them.

    “You want a slice of pizza, Jake?” Mike asked.

    “Yeah, as long as it’s cheese,” Jake answered.

    “We bought you a medium,” Brian added.

    “Cool, I’ll get it,” Jake said.

    Mike came back to the living room of his diminutive, one-bedroom apartment and turned on the television. The pregame broadcast for the Bulls vs. Pacers first-round playoff game was on.

    “Good, the pregame is on,” Mike said.

    Jake took a bite of his cheese pizza slice and said, “You know I only paid $35 for this case of beer…it’s on sale at the liquor store off 87th and Cottage.”

    “Yeah? I paid $50 the last time I bought a case a beer,” Mike said.

    “Everything’s so damn high,” Brian added.

    “And nobody’s accepting cash anymore either,” Jake said.

    “Yeah, that’s crazy,” Mike said.

    “I don’t carry cash no more anyway,” Brian said. “What y’all gonna do when they make it mandatory to get chipped?”

    “I don’t know,” Mike said, “I don’t know. I guess I thought it wouldn’t happened in our lifetime, but it’s right here in our faces.”

    “What about you, Jake?” Brian asked curiously.

    “I’m not doing that shit,” Jake answered.

    “How you gonna eat?”

    "It's deeper than just being able to eat, man. Don't you know that they want to hijack your brain and know all of your inner thoughts like in the movie Minority Report?"

    "Come on, man, that shit ain't nothing but a movie. You watch too much goddamn TV, Jake."

    “Well, I’m not worried anyway…the Lord got me.”

    “Ugh, there you go with the Lord got me shit…you really think you’re special, don’t you?”

    “What’s your problem, man?!”

    “When it all goes down, you gonna cave in just like everybody else.”

    “Just chill out, Brian, alright?” Mike implored him.

    “I didn’t take the jab, so what makes you think that I’m gonna take the chip, huh?!” Jake asked curtly and directed his question at Brian.

    “Man, you’re stupid…I lost a lot of family members because of COVID, and you just march around like you’re invincible and shit.”

    “It’s my choice to refuse a jab or a goddamn chip, so what you’re saying right now doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot to me, Brian!”

    “You’re probably one of the main people who spreading this shit!”

    “I said chill out, dammit!” Mike shouted.

    “I’m chill, Mike,” Jake said calmly, “and I’m out.”

    “Yeah, get your punk ass outta here,” Brian scoffed. “I don’t know why I even invited you over here anyway.”

    “Enjoy the beer, man,” Jake gave Mike a hug and dap, and he motioned toward the door and left.

    Jake stood by his car for a moment and thought about how he just lost his girl and best friend in less than a twenty-four-hour span. He then shook his head and said to himself, “I can’t believe Brian came at me like that…shit, what more can happen to me right now?”

    He then hopped in his car and sped off toward 57th Street before he made a right turn at the light and another right onto Cornell Drive.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

What Genre Should a New Author Choose to Write In?

    The first book that I wrote was of the nonfiction genre, and the subject that I wrote about was Little League Baseball. It was a subject that was near and dear to me as I noticed the decline of children playing baseball in my community sometime in the mid-nineties. I did my research and came to several conclusions as to why Little League Baseball disappeared in inner-city Chicago, and the paperback book that I wrote was about fifty pages long. I had a book signing and the whole nine yards, but I realized early on that writing nonfiction wasn’t a good fit for me. I also soon discovered that writing fiction came naturally to me, and I’ve been doing so ever since. I took the two topics that captivated me the most (crime dramas and sports) and wrote a three-part fictional series about them. An author should start off writing about themes that he/she has a keen interest in before diving into subjects that may require more extensive research because the goal is to establish oneself as a prolific writer and build a following as quickly as possible.

Fiction Genres

    Many authors may be faced with the same dilemma that I experienced fifteen years ago and finding a niche in the right genre isn’t always an easy task. I categorized myself as an urban fiction writer, but I’ve quickly recognized that my books overlap several different genres. So, what can an author do in this situation? Even though my books have an element of crime, romance, and mystery in addition to urban life themes; I still classify myself as an urban fiction writer because of the settings and plots of my stories. I belong to a group of writers who summarize the urban experience through varying writing styles on Amazon, and we all have a friendly competition taking place to garner the pool of readers of that genre. It’s an author’s job to find the group of writers they identify with the most and become a trailblazer within that group.

    In conclusion, authors must first identify themselves as either a nonfiction or fiction author. My objective was still the same once I discovered the type of writer I wanted to be, but instead of taking a direct approach in delivering my message, I’ve adopted a more allegorical method in communicating to my readers via writing fictional narratives.

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Sunday, July 24, 2022

My Ultimate Goal as a Writer

    Different authors have multiple reasons for writing books―some authors do it for the love of writing without money being the focal point while most others dream of being a best-selling author selling millions of books. I choose a different path because the Lord led me in the direction of being an author, so I wasn’t solely driven on making money from writing books even though it’s still at the top of the list of reasons why I’ve dedicated so much time into my craft. I knew that I wanted to be my own boss at some capacity, but prior to 2005, being a writer was the furthest thing from my mind.

    There are three reasons why I’ve built my writing platform to what it is today. My immediate goals as a writer were the be a positive influence to those who read my books as well as subscribe to my blog, create a stream of income that will allow me to be independent of the rat race, and help new authors who may desire to embark on the same path that I chose.

 Being a Beacon of Light to Others.

    It’s my passion that my writings inspire people―I must end each book with a positive message regardless of the negative themes associated with the stories that I tell. For example, many of my books are of the urban fiction genre where drug dealing, illicit sex, and murder are glorified, but my job is to show what the end result of those bad choices can produce. If I don’t teach others with the gift that the Lord has given me, I’ve failed my assignment as an author.

 Making a Living as an Author.

    My goal as a writer wasn’t to become rich―I merely want to replace the income that I currently make as a paralegal with the income that I earn as an author. Supplementing my income by writing books is great, but I want to ultimately quit my job and write full-time in the near future. And while landing a book deal and receiving a royalty advance is also great, I enjoy the freedom of being a self-published author and calling my own shots.

 Helping Aspiring Authors.

    There wasn’t much of a road map when I started writing in 2005―I got bumped and bruised along the way as I learned something from each one of the mistakes I’d made. In hindsight, I wish that I knew then what I know now because it would’ve saved me a lot of time and pain. I created my blog mainly to promote my work, but I also want to help new authors avoid some of the difficulties that I experienced. I share what I’ve learned in writing as well as marketing to my reading audience on my blog, and my mantra is to reach one, teach one.

    Like anything in life, an author must know the real reason why he or she writes, or else failure is imminent. I truly believe that inspiring people through writing is my main purpose in life, and the fact that I earn money doing so is a bonus.

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     I can remember how excited I was like it were yesterday when my first book titled What Happened to Little League Baseball in the Inner ...