Happy Hal-idays!

It looks like I’ll have a white Christmas tomorrow as snow fell hard today, covering the dirt piles, rebar, and concrete blankets in our construction-zone yard.  It hasn’t felt like Christmas here yet as we haven’t had a tree up until today and very few decorations out.  This December has been even busier than usual, but the snow brought with it a peace and calm, and finally, finally, I feel ready for tomorrow.  But, once again, I didn’t plan ahead to prepare any sort of holiday post full of cheer and goodwill.  Of course, I don’t usually write much cheer and goodwill, that doesn’t quite fit the genre.

War, torture, assassinations, arms trafficking, organized crime, child abuse:  these are the dark, difficult subjects I usually write about.  I write about them because it gives voice to the anger they fuel in me.  But spending so much time steeped in research and writing about such things requires that I also nurture a healthy sense of humor for the sake of my sanity.

My favorite writing buddies, my sisters, help me out with that a lot.  Awhile back, we got started laughing over a name.  I asked them to help me name a character in my novel who is an actor playing a detective in a hot new prime time cop show, and one of the first suggestions was Hal.  Which really made me laugh.  It also resulted in a series of back-and-forth messages between me and my sisters, heckling each other and cracking puns using the name Hal.  In the end, the challenge was made to name a character Hal in each of our works in progress.  (Yes, there is now a Hal in The Compass Code, but I doubt every reader will find him.)

This challenge resulted in me writing a silly scene that has no place in my novel, but does involve some of my characters.  I call it The Hal Scene.  I don’t generally find it useful to utilize writing exercises or prompts to write scenes that will never be part of my novel or it’s immense back story.  I’ve always found that to be a frustrating endeavor.  It feels like wasted time to me.  I want to write what I’m going to use.  But, once in a while, I’ll get an inspiration, and I just have to “waste” the time it takes to put the words down on the page.  The Hal scene is one such moment.

Since it’s Christmas, and because I’m well into a third draft of The Compass Code (with chapters!), and because I’ve never shared any of my fictional work outside of a small group of people and I have to get over the fear, I’ve decided to share The Hal Scene with my readers.  Just for fun.

I have to warn though, this scene does not reflect the tone of The Compass Code at all.  I didn’t write this scene with any intention of ever plugging it into the novel.  I wrote it to make myself and my sisters laugh.  So, dear readers of this post, please don’t expect so much humor from my novel, because the novel really is about war, assassinations, torture, etc.

It’s said that laughter is the best medicine, and I believe it.  So, I hope this silly scene brings some smiles and laughs to my readers this holiday season.  May the Christmas holiday and the New Year bring you much laughter, joy and peace.

So, without further ado…

(Except, please note, this post contains adult language.)

The Hal Scene

              Seth Miller burst into the barracks whooping and yelling, startling everyone awake.  It was so early it was still dark outside and several of the men threw pillows at him as he danced a jig between the bunks.

“What the fuck is wrong with you, man?  You wasted?”  Turner growled.

“It’s a boy!” Seth yelled.  “I knew it.  It’s a boy!”

With that, none of them could resist his unbridled joy and he ran around the room giving high fives and fist bumps while they all congratulated him.  Bulldog jumped from his bunk and grabbed Seth into a bear hug.

“That’s great, man,” he said as he released Seth.  “You guys are so blessed.”

Jack offered his fist, and Seth cracked his own against it.  Turner rolled out of his bunk grudgingly, and put an arm around Seth’s shoulders while clapping him on the back.

“Way to go, Daddy-o.”

Since they would have to be up shortly anyway, they got dressed and ready for their morning run.  When the men found Lt Davies and Sgt Rodriguez, Seth shared his news again.  His excitement energized the team as they took off running.

“You guys name him yet?” Bulldog asked.

“We haven’t talked about names yet.”

“What?  Man, you gotta think about this now.  This is a huge responsibility, dude.  This kid’s gotta live his entire life with whatever you pick!”

“Shit, man, this is too much responsibility for Lite-beer here,” Turner said.  “We better come up with something to help him out.”

“Name him Tyler,” Lt Davies called out.  “It’s a good, strong name.”

“No way.  If you’re gonna name him after the L-tee, name him Davy,” Rodriguez suggested.  “Now that’s a good strong name, like Davy Crockett.”

“Nah, name him Phil,” Turner said.

“Dude, are you kidding me?”  Rodriguez shot back.  “Juan.  Now that’s a name.”

“Call him Jaime,” Jack said.  “Jaime will love it.”

The suggestions kept coming as they finished their run in the growing morning light.  When they hit the range, they didn’t stop, each trying to out-do the others as they took turns pulling the trigger.

“How ’bout Clint?” Turner asked as he squeezed his trigger.




Down the line it went until it was Bulldog’s turn to take aim.  Everyone waited with anticipation as he had yet to suggest a single name.  He savored the moment, taking a couple deep breaths before easing the trigger back.  The bullet pinged against the target and Bulldog turned to the group with a triumphant smile.

“Hal,” he said.

“What?” they all cried.

“What the Hal kind of name is that, man?”

“Oh, Hal no!”

“What?  It’s a great name,” Bulldog protested in a serious tone.  “It’s short for Harold, man.  Means power, a leader, a ruler.  Dude, come on!”

They were all silent for a moment, staring at Bulldog with surprise at his earnest expression, before bursting with peals of laughter.

“You need Hal-p, man.”

“It was my Grandpa’s name.  He was one tough dude.”

“No doubt.  With a name like that, he’d have to be.”

“Yeah, y’all are real funny,” Bulldog grumbled.

“Hal-arious,” Jack said, a sly grin on his face, before pulling the trigger.


Happy Hal-idays!

Creepy Christmas To All…

Well, since tomorrow is Christmas, and I don’t have an amazing, inspirational Christmas-y sort of piece to post, I’ve decided to dig into the very, very ancient archive for a little holiday fun.

A really long time ago (as in, back in high school), I was given the assignment of writing and compiling some poetry (not my area of expertise, to say the least), for a class full of highly competitive and talented writers.  I muddled my way through some terrible rhymes and exaggerated prose to complete the assignment, with few redeemable results.  On this eve of Christmas, I am pathetically resorting to sharing one of these attempts at poetic profundity in an effort to spread some holiday cheer with as little effort as possible .  (Hey, I’ve got Santa duty, so cut me some slack.)

So, Merry Christmas, and here you go, my very own parody of the much-loved, classic Christmas poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas.  A tale which, at the time that I wrote this I was unaware, has inspired many fun parodies.

Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas

by Katie Aguilera

Twas the night before Christmas and all through my box,

not a creature was stirring, not even the lice in my locks.

My stockings were hung on a string so high,

in the hopes that by morning they would be dry.

I shivered and shook in my rags so thin,

while ice cubes formed in my bottle of gin.

My mutt in her blanket and I in my coat,

thoughts of Christmas a lump in my throat.

Out in the alley I heard a soft mutter,

so I sprang from my box and looked in the gutter.

Along the curb I flew like a flash,

tore open the dumpster, and threw out the trash.

The moon through the smog cast an eerie shadow,

upon the garbage still left below.

Turning my head, I gave a sudden start,

for behind me were eight sewer rats and a tiny shopping cart.

With a little round driver so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Tick.

Dirtier than pigs his coursers they came,

and he whistled and shouted and called them by name.

On Smasher, on Cancer, on Packer, on Virus,

on Bomber, on Stupid, on Blunder, and Dufus.

To the center of the street to the edge of a crack,

now dash away, dash away, and upon their rumps a good whack.

And as newspapers before the wild wind scatter,

they mounted the sky with a rattle and a clatter.

So, up to my box the coursers they flew,

with a sleigh full of eggs, and wiggly St. Tick too.

And then in a blink with a little rodent leap,

they clambered on cardboard and fell in a heap.

I sank to my knees and into my box shoved my head,

and through a split-seam dropped St. Tick to my bed.

A thick suit of fur his body did boast,

torn, no doubt, from his last unlucky host.

A bundle of eggs he had flung on his back,

and he looked like a spider just opening her sack.

His eyes how they glinted, his feet how they tickled,

and with a sly smirk he chuckled and giggled.

His antennae curled and twisted in a way so droll,

and upon my bed he crept like a troll.

A stub of a toothpick lodged in his teeth,

a hint of tick-beard upon his chin underneath.

He had a bloated round belly and a tiny puffed face,

and he dashed to and fro at a fierce insect pace.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old beetle,

but I knew that his bite was like the prick of a needle.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

and I knew I had something terrible to dread.

He gave not a squeal but went straight to his work,

scattering his eggs with a twist and a jerk.

And laying his stick-leg aside of his nose,

and giving a twitch up the cardboard he rose.

He hopped to his sleigh and to his team gave a scream,

and away they all flew to the next stop in his scheme.

But I heard him exclaim as they drove out of sight,

Creepy Christmas to all, and to all a crawly good night!