Steve Grogan is an ongoing contributor to Writer to Writers. He has published several short stories on the site, which can be found on the main page under the heading “Steve Grogan’s fiction.” He has had several poems and short stories published over the years, some of which are available on Amazon. (See the announcement at the end of this post.)
He is the writer and creator of the ongoing, zombie, post-apocalyptic, Romero-meets-Dungeons-and-Dragons webcomic REDemption. Alternatively, Steve describes the comic by saying, “It is to zombie fiction what KILL BILL was to kung fu movies: everything I love about the genre housed under one roof and mixed with my voice.”
My horror movie consumption continued into high school, and my pessimism reached its apex. Every day I thought about committing suicide.
To be fair, this animosity wasn’t just aimed inward. I hated my peers as much as I hated myself. The jock and cheerleader cliques pissed me off more than any others. They were an airheaded lot, foolishly preoccupied with physical perfection and superficial beauty, so concerned with fashion they were too blind to see how shallow they were.
Even the people who were against the norm (the punks, the artsy freaks, the role-playing kids) had ideals which I could not understand or accept. Punks were too anarchistic. Art students were always dropping acid or smoking weed or doing even harder drugs.
And then we come to the role-playing kids.
Although this group was more like me than any other clique (because they favored using their imaginations over vegetating in front of the television or sweating up a storm on the basketball court), they were social misfits without redemption.
At first it seemed like they were the group I truly belonged with. However, it soon became clear that the world’s reaction to their awkwardness had injured their social skills. They did not know how to get along with people; they kept their distance because they were scared. It was so much easier for them to be sarcastic dicks than to open up to gain a friend. Before long I abandoned this group, and once again I was on my own. I couldn’t bring myself to maintain the company of people who were even more socially awkward than I was because I actually wanted to IMPROVE my social skills. How would I do that if I were hanging around people who had no idea what that even meant?
Not only could I not make any male friends, but there was also a serious lack of interaction with females. No girls ever looked my way unless they found me so repulsive that they had to study the deformity that is my face.
This lack of contact with the opposite sex made my peers assume I was gay, which I found odd and infuriating. How could I help that no females wanted me? And why did that automatically mean I was gay?
Those girls may not have bothered with me during the day, but at night when I masturbated, I had them ALL in my bed. They sucked my cock, I licked their clits, I fucked their hot snatches, and then with some patience and a lot of lubricant I had my way with their tight virgin assholes too. No act was off limits or too demeaning. They all gave me what I asked of them and begged for more.
My writing skills really began to develop at this time. (By now we are talking about my sophomore year.) This was because I had been exposed to a book called The Stranger by Albert Camus, and it opened my eyes as to how limited my literary world was. After this I encountered all sorts of works like Naked Lunch by Williams S. Burroughs and “The Wasteland” by T.S. Eliot. Gone were the days when I thought Stephen King was the actual king of all things literary. (No offense to him, but let’s be honest: his work doesn’t put too much of a strain on the brain cells.)
Soon I was writing in a form that was a combination of all the works I had read, yet also possessed strong elements of my own voice. Every English teacher I had was amazed at the quantum leap in quality that my writing took once I expanded my knowledge outside the horror genre.
Their praise was wonderful, but I could not thoroughly enjoy it. After all, the only reason I had earned it was because I was sitting alone in my room writing instead of hanging out with friends or jamming my tongue down a girlfriend’s throat.
My junior year was the same story: no friends, no girlfriend, no one in whom I could confide, still an outsider watching horror movies and masturbating my life away.
Verbal confrontations still pursued me. I knew if I were to stand up to my assailants, things would get physical. Having never been in a fight, I was unsure how I would handle myself. Surely the only result would be my physical humiliation. With all the other degrading things on my plate, I did not want that to happen.
I started badgering Mother to let me learn a martial art. In the summer of 1993 she relented, and I started to learn judo.
I found myself inserted into a new environment: a place where respect was the first word on everyone’s tongue. The only one who didn’t display this quality was the head Sensei. He seemed to be a laid-back man when I first met him. Gradually his behavior chipped away at this facade. Sensei was arrogant, mocking other styles while promoting judo. He also revealed himself to be a sexist pig, not to mention impatient with new students.
Perhaps the most humorous of these faults was his tendency to ridicule other styles, claiming they didn’t work and that only judo was street effective. And why did his boasting strike me as being so hilarious? Because the judo he taught would work in only one place: a judo tournament. Instead of a martial art, what I was learning was actually a martial sport.
It wasn’t long after I had this realization that I left judo, but not before earning a yellow belt. In the grand scheme of things this was no great achievement because yellow is only one step above white. Still, it was nice to feel proud of myself for a change.
My senior year of high school saw my literary skills put to use quite often. In class I wrote more poetry than notes. By this time, I had read Ulysses by James Joyce and Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, so I was trying to emulate what they had done. I was also reading up on martial arts, and Bruce Lee’s writings (as well as articles on him) were my main focal point.
I learned that Bruce’s only teacher was a gentleman named Yip Man, who taught a fighting system which focused more on speed than power. That system was called Wing Chun Kung Fu. I was dying to get into another martial art, and I wanted it to be Wing Chun, but at the time I couldn’t find anyone who taught it.
I wound up attending a school that claimed to train Tai Chi and Kung Fu. This place also proved to be a letdown because what they taught was something called Wushu, a flashy and acrobatic “fighting” style which can be used in combat only if you want to diffuse the situation by making your opponents laugh.
By June of 1994 I quit that school. At the time I remembered thinking, “Well, that’s that. My martial art training is over.”
I had no idea what was just around the corner.
If you like what you have read and would like to purchase this serialized novel as one complete PDF, then please send $2 to Steve via PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, don’t forget to check out his other writing at the following links below:
Author: Redemption Comics
Steve Grogan was born in the often-filmed city of Troy, NY. He has written in a variety of formats (novels, short stories, poems, screen and stage plays, blogs/articles) and genres (horror, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, drama).
Steve is also a father, a boyfriend, a musician, a fitness fanatic, and a martial artist. He has been studying Wing Chun Kung Fu since 1995, and he maintains a blog/YouTube channel that describe his training habits, epiphanies, and advancement. It also candidly discusses his stumbling blocks, such as his struggle with nutrition and mental health issues.
He is no relation to the New England Patriots quarterback from the 1980’s.