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.”
October 7, 2008
The next morning, I went online and ordered a new television. After that I put on some tunes and signed in to work. I had a stereo with a tray that could hold five CDs at a time. To get creative, I decided to put in a disc from different decades of rock. My audio time travel included the 1950s (Buddy Holly’s Greatest Hits), 1960s (Magical Mystery Tour), 1970s (Quadrophenia), 1980s (Zen Arcade), and 1990s (Siamese Dream). Can’t help but love a job where you can listen to tunes all day.
That’s what I thought when I started out, but as my choice for the 1960s got to its closing track (“All You Need is Love”), I felt an unexpected dose of anger building up in my gut. Why? Because of that fucker John Lennon. Here’s a guy who sang his heart into songs like “All You Need is Love.” Sat in bed for a week for peace and love. Preached non-stop about all the typical flowery happy lovey dovey hippy bullshit, and yet he abandoned his first son Julian. How can a man go in public and tell us to love everyone when he neglects his own son? And you want to talk about adding insult to injury: when Sean Lennon was born, John took five years off from music to raise him. The guy damn near retired for his second son. Was he on a guilt trip, devoting all the attention to Sean because he gave none to Julian? Once he felt the need to be such a great father, he should have given Julian a call. Let him in on some attention too.
That’s why as a person I admire Paul McCartney a hell of a lot more than Lennon. From what I’ve read, it seems like Paul gave Julian more father-like attention than good old John even dreamed of. They only thing you could say favorably about John in this situation is, “Well, at least he didn’t beat Julian.” But we’ll never have any way of knowing if he would have done that because Johnny boy didn’t stick around long enough to prove what kind of dad he would have been!
The fact of the matter is this: people put John Lennon on a pedestal like he was a god, but in truth he could be just as much of a bastard as anyone else. And you know the funny part? John himself would probably agree with that assessment.
Angry little diatribe aside, my day was business as usual. I worked as late as I could, which was 8PM. That’s when Value Scripts’ main servers started their overnight maintenance. And why not work so late? After all, it’s not like I could go anywhere. And luckily for me, Value Scripts had just reinstated overtime; I needed the extra work to refund the money I’d just spent on a new television.
Come to think of it, there was a lot that I wanted to buy. Most of it was in the form of entertainment like books, movies, and music, while other items were necessary like food, cleaning supplies, and hygiene supplies. I made two lists: one for the things I needed, and one for things I wanted.
To my surprise the longest list of all turned out to be books that I’d always wanted to read but never got around to. At long last I would have time to devour Stephen King’s massive seven volume Dark Tower series. There were several other horror authors I’d meant to read over the years but never got around to like Jack Ketchum, Joe R. Lansdale, David J. Schow, and Rex Miller. And I can’t forget that there were books from authors I already liked but just hadn’t had the time to read, like Clive Barker’s Imajica, Weaveworld, and the two Abarat books. On the literary side of things, there were the books of Thomas Pynchon, the stream-of-consciousness masterpiece Ulysses, and a very fat three-volume set of books by Marcel Proust called Remembrance of Things Past. And who could forget one of the biggest epics of all time: Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace?
I had been longing to read all books for years. Now the only things in my life that would interrupt my reading were working, eating, using the bathroom, and sleeping. You could think of me as Burgess Meredith’s character from that old Twilight Zone episode “Time Enough at Last,” with one major difference: I didn’t need glasses to read, so there was nothing that could screw up my plans of broadening my literary horizons. Unless of course I got canned by Value Scripts but, if that happened, I’d have much bigger problems on my hands than the inability to afford books.
I signed in to Amazon to look up prices for the titles on my book list and possibly order a few. One of the items recommended to me was the book Private Parts by Howard Stern. Yet another book I’d never read but meant to, although I have watched the movie several times. Stern has always had such a polarizing effect on people, and I have no idea why. Anyone could find the same kind of humor in hundreds, maybe even thousands, of other places, but no one even batted an eye at those sources. For some reason the Moral Police focused all their attention exclusively on him. Whenever the debate over freedom of speech flares up, the MPs look for someone to hang their side of the debate on. (Isn’t it funny that “moral police” and “military police” share the same abbreviation?) They look for the most outrageous person they can find, someone who violates as many of the rules of their moral code as possible, and use them as the main example why speech shouldn’t be so free. Howard Stern has been their “go to” guy for nearly two decades.
I became a Stern fan in early 1994. The memory of that day is still very clear to me. It was a school day, and I had to get up at 6:30 like always. Instead of setting my clock to wake me up with the alarm, I’d accidentally set it to “radio.” That was the first morning I ever heard Stern’s voice. Off the top of my head I can’t remember what they were talking about, but they had automatically gained my interest. On the way to school I listened to Stern’s show instead of my usual play list of early 1990s grunge bands. By the time I got dropped off at school, I was a Howard Stern fan.
From that point on I listened to him every day. Sometimes I would keep his show playing even after class had started. One day Stern said something so outrageous that I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. My teacher asked me what was so funny. When I would not give an answer that satisfied her, she sent me to the principal’s office. Then it was his turn to ask the same question. Again, I insisted it was nothing, I’d just randomly thought of something funny that happened at home and couldn’t help laughing out loud. He let me off with a warning and sent me back to class. That was the closest I’d ever come to getting in any kind of trouble in school, and I was damn glad to avoid it because there is no telling what kind of hell would be waiting for me at home if mom knew I listened to Howard Stern all the time.
The show was supposed to run from six to ten, but they very rarely ended on time. When O.J. Simpson was on trial for murder, the show ran until noon just about every day.
A lot of people think the show lost steam once the Simpson trial ended. For me, the quality didn’t change until Stern and his first wife Allison got a divorce. Howard was way too bitter after that, and his downtrodden spirit hung over the entire show like a dark cloud. His mood lightened up once he started dating Beth Ostrosky, and for a while it was as entertaining as the old days. Not long after that, he went to Sirius, and I haven’t heard him since, so I don’t know what the quality is like anymore.
Then again, you know what? It’d be easy enough to find out. I’m going to add Sirius to my list of things to get.
If you like what you have read and would like to purchase this serialized novel as one complete PDF, then please send $3.50 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.