On writing “The Death of R&J,” “Selling the Fishing Camp” and “Josephine and the Tiger”

Mud Flat Press co-owner Alec Clayton has two short stories and a short novel excerpt in Mud Flat Shorts (mostly fiction). Here’s Alec musing on the writing of these stories:

I didn’t plan it this way, but all three of these stories are about death, yet they are not without a lot of laughs.

The Death of R&J: It was 2018, a November evening. I got a call in the night from someone I didn’t know. Normally I would not answer such a call, but you know how sometimes you just have a feeling. I answered. It was my identical twin’s stepson, Gilbert. He told me Bill had died during the night. The funeral was in a few days in the little town of Goesbeck, Texas. I flew to Memphis where my sister and her daughter picked me up. The next day we drove to Goesbeck. At the funeral home, I met my brother’s wife and her children, some of whom freaked out when they first saw me, thinking I was my brother’s ghost. Yeah, that was weird but not totally unexpected. Everybody was telling twin stories—crazy tales about us fooling people who couldn’t tell us apart and other things only twins can do. “The Death of R&J” is a barely fictionalized story about the funeral with a couple of bizarre twists.

Selling the Fishing Camp: An unnamed first-person narrator tells about trying to sell a fishing camp once owned by his parents. The camp was on a bayou in Mississippi that flowed into the Pascagoula River, which flowed into the Gulf of Mexico. While showing the camp to a potential buyer, he begins to reminisce about adventures on the bayou he thought he had put out of his mind. Based on—you know… more fiction than memory.

Josephine and the Tiger: This is the opening chapter of a novel in progress. It is ridiculously short (this chapter, not the novel) and, I hope, ridiculously funny despite being a tragic story. The unpublished novel is titled Spawn: The Descendants of the Pirate Pegleg Josiah Johnson. The notorious pirate did his pirating in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico and fathered many children with a whorehouse madame in New Orleans. Most of their descendants now live in Washington state, and every summer they get together for a weekend retreat on Orcas Island for family drama at its most dysfunctional.

Watch this space for more musings from the many writers of Mud Flat Shorts (mostly fiction).

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