Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sittin' In: "Buzz" by Samuel Snoek-Brown, as based on the song "Omens and Portents I - The Driver" by Earth

It's only fitting that Sam Snoek-Brown stepped up to the plate to sit in on this week's OBCBYL, as I spent a fair amount of my time away from this project reading/editing/mocking/feedbacking the stories in a collection he recently finished. (Ten years of work, but a hell of an anthology so far and only getting better. Butthole Surfers fans, stay on the lookout.) He whipped up a killer little short short about Earth's "Omen's & Portents I - The Driver" and I did some Gordon Lish style heavy-editing to it--with Sam's consent, of course.

I'll be back next week with a story based on "Code Blue" by TSOL, but for now, enjoy Sam's story (and check out his blogs).

(Also, for anyone else interested, the list of songs featured in this post still stands if anyone would like to do a story for OBCBYL in the future. I'll always take time off if it shows up.)



There had been thunder, flat as a hand, driving in the storm behind Ray, and it had reminded him of earlier, the click and the pounce and the silence. He’d left shortly afterward and had been in the old Ford for some time, almost nine hours since, with the promise of Texas hills ahead of him.

He wasn’t sure he could sleep or if he deserved it anywhere except behind the wheel. When he saw a rest stop up ahead, he felt like he’d found a church. He didn’t need confession, he just needed sanctuary. For now, sleep. Forgiveness would come later or not at all.

He parked his car and dozed in a driving position, his head leaned back against the seat. When he woke, he did so in a flash, gripping the air with all fingers. He blinked and looked at his hands, remembering the way the white noise we all hear every day—the hum of lightbulbs and refrigerators—grew louder in his head, like a bright pang of reverb, and then snapped off in an echo.

A door opened and closed behind him. Ray sat up and cranked the car. The sun had just stuck up over the hills as the starter whined and quit. He scooted forward in his seat and turned the key again. Nothing else happened. He tried the radio. Static. Silence. Again.

He thought about the car that woke him, but when he turned in his seat to find it he saw it was a state trooper’s. He squinted his eyes and saw the seats were empty. He pulled on the door handle and eased out of his car, left his door open. Stubby cedar trees dropped down a slope behind the rest stop. A tangle of barbed wire outlined the woods.

“Can I help you?” the trooper asked from the restroom doorway, a paper towel still in his hands.
Ray swallowed and blurted out, “Battery’s dead.”

“Don’t you worry none,” the trooper said. “Got some cables, I’ll give you a jump.”

As they stood between the open hoods, the trooper’s engine running and Ray’s battery charging, the trooper said, “Arizona plates? You drive all this way by yourself?”

“My wife,” he said. He had left her on the floor, head broken and limp as a single plum in a plastic bag. Her neck turned purple before he even made it out the door. Ray felt, but did not hear, the slight crunch of her throat in his hands, like a beetle under his foot. “She’s back home.”

The trooper nodded, said, “Shoot, I wish sometimes I could get away myself.”

Ray’s stomach churned. Blood throbbed in his brain, bile jumped into his throat and burned. Sweat poured from his messy, oily hair and dripped all down his arms. When he opened his mouth, he vomited in a spray that splattered the trooper’s pants and car. Ray himself fell down alongside the vomit, and nearly beat it to the ground. The trooper jumped back and cussed, then said, “Listen, sir, no offense, but you been drinking?”

Ray coughed twice, gripped the trooper’s shoulder, and pulled himself up to his knees. “No sir, I’ve just been driving all night to get here.”

“Well, I feel a little woozy after a double night shift m’self. I guess that and the heat must of done it to you.”

Ray nodded along, anything to explain himself. The tropper insisted Ray not drive just yet and offered to take him the twenty miles into town and back. Ray was in no position to decline, though he tried faintly to do so.

As they stood there waiting for the battery to finish charging, Ray stared at the shotgun perched between the front two seats. The trooper spoke into the microphone clipped to his epaulette, and he was writing something, then he opened the back door for Ray.

They pulled out from the rest stop, the sky behind the car, back west, roiling dark and thick. Little flashes jumped in the clouds and the trooper said, “It’s something, ain’t it? It’s all one system, I think. Pretty sure it started east of California, just inside Arizona. You must of been just ahead of it the whole way.”

Ray thought of his wife eyes bulged in their sockets, the vessels an absurd red. The living room furniture lay in ruins around her. Two flies moving through the dust mites.

It was so silent then.


Earth is a band that used to play really loud, heavy-as-fuck power drone music until guitarist/leader Dylan Carlson took too many drugs (and then stopped taking drugs). Then all the songs became like the background music to a western made in Hell. One time, while listening to Earth 2, I thought my brain stopped working. It was that awesome. This song is from the 2008 album The Bees Made Honey In the Lion's Skull, which I played one time for a girlfriend who said, five minutes into the first song, "So it's pretty much just this for 45 minutes?"

Samuel Snoek-Brown is a Texan living in the Middle East. He owns over 400 bolo-ties. He has been known to write short fiction, with his most well-known story being "Orgasm In French." He put out a poetry chapbook as an undergrad. I think one dude bought it (collector's item, bro). Due to "a few" streaks of grey in his hair, he refers to himself as "the Anderson Cooper of literary fiction." Here's a link to some of his stories, all of which should be required reading for any writer worth their weight in free trade coffee and black berets. He runs a blog about smiley faces and I'm pretty sure I saw him wearing a Rusted Root shirt once. Everything else about him is unknown.

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Code Blue" by TSOL, as suggested by writer Matt Baker.


  1. Thank you Sam for the story - I'm seeing it and feeling it - and for introducing me to Earth. Its like the sound of time and matter slowing down and expanding into space.

  2. Hey, alienalchemy -- I'm just now seeing this comment! Thanks for the thanks. That's super-cool! I had fun writing this piece, but honestly, we both get to thank Ryan Werner for sending Earth our way, because I hadn't heard them before this story. You describe their sound exactly as I would though; I was an easy convert to these guys!