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'49 was a Bad Year by ZiBaricon
'49 was a Bad Year
Whoop, did an illustration for the short stories I did with Boyer. If you're interested, they're in three parts:

NOIR SHORT: '49 was a Bad Year
NOIR SHORT: '49 was a Bad Year Part II
NOIR SHORT: '49 was a Bad Year Part III

WARNING: The story does contain self-harm and alcoholism, so if you're not comfortable with that, don't read it.
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AHAHA! I finished draft 2 for Noir! Final word count: 91,548!
Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: strong language)
Why can’t we ever have normal faculty meetings?

Stepping in from the harsh cold, I stomped the snow off my feet. I could already hear the crash of pins and bowling balls across the room, along with the chattering of my fellow coworkers. With a sigh, I went up the stairs. Christmas garland wrapped itself around the handrails, despite January already being half over—as if the holiday wasn’t already gluttonous on time.

I should’ve just came late, I thought. At least I’d bypass this small talk before we actually get to business. Making my way towards the bar—Stop that! Just get the damn shoes and be done with it!

Making my way towards the shoe counter, I watched all the professors mingle—squabbling over points, clinking glasses together, and yammering on about their winter break.

Slipping on the rentals, it wasn’t long before someone was on my case. Erickson crouched down, meeting my eyes with a mouthful of chips and a dished caked in salsa.

“Boyer! I’ve been waiting for you!”

“What now?”

“Try this! Tell me how authentic it tastes!”

Tilting my head, I eyed the sauce. My sinuses squirmed at the mere smell of it. “I’m not eating that.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t eat spicy food.” Laces tied, I got back on my feet.

“But you know what real salsa tastes like, right?”

“As opposed to what? Counterfeit salsa?”

“You know what I mean! Just try it!”

“No—”

“Willy!” Is that a headache coming on? That twiggy prick Sampson wandered over, still insisting on that full suit with that cheap smile. Did he not understand casual wear?

“Can you believe this guy?” said Erickson. “Won’t eat spicy food!”

“You should make those pumpkin bars next time! I’m sure he’s got the sweet tooth for that!” Grin widening, he jabbed me in the stomach. Before I could act upon my desire to snap that pencil neck of his, Sampson wrapped an arm around me and yanked me towards the bowling alley.

“What did you do on your break?” he asked.

“Nothing of importance.”

“Come on! How was the family?”

“I didn’t see anyone.”

“You can’t just not do anything on the holidays!” Sitting near the scorekeeping table were Turner and Mullins. Turner eyed us, fingers drumming against his thigh while Mullins stared off into space, oblivious of our arrival entirely.

“It’s fine—”

“Didn’t even celebrate New Years?”

“No—”

“Come on! It’s finally good ol’ ‘54! A perfect chance at a fresh start!” Pulling up a chair, Sampson peered at the score pad. “Didn’t you two get started?”

“Why didn’t you grab Erickson?” asked Turner. Of course those two had to sit evenly on the damn bench. No matter what spot I pick, I’m huddled up next to someone.

“Willy’s a better bowler.”

“No one’s taking this shit seriously. Pick someone less weird!”

“I already invited him!” The twig grabbed his ball.

Turner groaned, sprawling himself onto more of the bench with his gangling limbs. I took my chances near Mullins, who only then came back to reality. She grinned at me, her bug-eyes swiveling around in her oversized head.

“Good evening!” she said. “I’m glad you could join us!”

“It wasn’t voluntary.”

“How was your birthday?”

My insides frosted over. How does she know my birthday? I’ve never told anyone! She must know more than she’s letting on—that’s ridiculous! There’s no way she does! Lucky guess? Must be—no, she sounds confident! Who is she working for? Why is she doing this? Is she toying with me—

“Mr. Boyer?”

“How did you know that?”

“Know what?”

“That I just had a birthday!”

She waved her hand, rolling her eyes. “You’re such a Capricorn.”

“Huh?”

“Your sign. You just scream Capricorn.”

I stared. “That’s the most arbitrary reason I’ve ever heard.”

“As your kind would say.”

“Myra! It’s your turn!” Sampson jotted down his spare.

She stood up, wandering over to the lane. As she selected her bowling ball, there was that nagging feeling that I was being watched. It was only when Turner coughed did I notice him much closer than he was before.

“What do you want?” I asked.

“You weren’t even watching her bend over!”

“Why would I?”

He leaned in. “Do you like girls?”

If this isn’t a loaded question, then I don’t know what is. “Sure.”

“‘Sure’?”

“What the hell are you getting at?”

He flicked my hair—my curls rested halfway down my back now. “What kind of man lets their hair get that long? There’s something wrong with you!”

“I’m sure there’s a good reason he grows it out!” Sampson said behind a forced grin, eyes darting away from the topic.

“Like what?” Somehow, I don’t think, “It keeps me from screaming at my reflection,” is the answer they’re looking for.

I groaned. “How uneducated do you have to be to not realize that it’s part of my culture?”

The prying bastard paused, glancing at Sampson for confirmation. Met with a shrug, he turned back to me. “It’s—I knew that! It’s just strange is all!”

“Lay off the damn pills,” I said. “They’re warping your mind.”

“They’re for my heart!”

Glaring at the snickering twig, Turner folded his arms and fumed. Mullins returned to her seat, exasperated at the split pins she left behind.

“Your turn, Mr. Boyer.”

Giving myself distance from the conversation, I staked out a ball—one with holes big enough to accommodate my gloves. Five years already, and not a soul knows anything of what I’ve done. Either I lucked out or everyone I’ve met has loose change for brains.

I walked to the isle. How long will this last? Someone must’ve figured this out by now. Was it just a matter of finding me? I don’t want to run again—I never knew stability could be so comforting.

The ball rolled down the lane. Kind of wish I had someone to at least talk to—Don’t be dense! That’s what got you in this mess in the first place!

Strike.

Keep to yourself—it’s safer.
NOIR SHORT: '49 was a Bad Year Part III
Part 1: NOIR SHORT: '49 was a Bad Year
Part 2: NOIR SHORT: '49 was a Bad Year Part II

That's it for this short! I'll keep making others with the rest of the Noir cast, though I'll do more Boyer if there's a demand for it.

If you'd like to see more Noir content, check out the blog here: beckkeep.com/
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Mature Content Filter is On
(Contains: strong language)
This is killing my back.

I sat up, spine cracking. Even through the blankets, the hardwood floor sent chills all through me. A month in a new apartment, and I still couldn’t afford a damn mattress. Rain pelted against the glass, the low rumbling of thunder acting as my alarm clock.

How pointless, I thought. Not a single call. At this rate, I’ll be homeless by November—Someone has to call! I’ve applied for everything thrown at me! What’s wrong? Is it my resume? Shuffling through my small pile of belongings, I pulled out a sheet. Utterly bare. 30 years old and nothing to show for it—not that I never worked, mind you. It was just the fact my previous occupation wasn’t exactly glamorous.

Still, plenty of what I applied for didn’t require work experience. There was no reason I saw that I couldn’t at least get an interview. Mouth dry, I got to my feet and stumbled out to the kitchen.

I turned the knob, leaning down to drink straight from the faucet. The lack of anything was growing tiresome—no cookware, no furniture, not even the option to turn on the radiators if I wanted to make my money last.

The one exception to that rule I made was food—no more starving. I refused to go another day with hunger pains or trash picking. Couldn’t afford to get caught shoplifting out here, especially on the run. Opening the cupboard, I reached for a can of chickpeas.

Knock knock.

I ignored the door. Probably that damn neighbor again—

Ring.

The telephone! Scrambling over to it, I grabbed the receiver—Wait, now. Let it ring twice. Don’t make them think you’re desperate. Once it chimed again, I picked up.

“Hello?”

“Hello, is this William Boyer?”

“It is.” Still not used to that name.

“This is Grogerstone University calling about your application.”

Wh—huh? “Yes?”

“Would you be able to come in tomorrow for an interview?”

Wait— “Sure, what time?”

“How does one o’clock work for you?”

“Fine. Would you like me to bring anything?”

“No, just show up with appropriate attire. If you have any questions, please call. Have a good day, sir.”

“Bye.”

I lost my appetite. Grogerstone University? I applied for that on a whim! I didn’t think they of all people would call back! My fingers tugged at my hair. I don’t even have teaching credentials! Are they really hurting that much for a professor?

Maybe they didn’t look at the resume—No, they must’ve. My phone number’s on there. Are they out of their minds? This has to be a joke. Where’s that liquor—

Stop it. This might be a real offer! I could finally get that mattress—Shit! I only have until tomorrow to not look like a complete madman! Glancing down to my wrapped-up hands, they still stung from the other night.

Not able to let this strange opportunity slip by, I rushed to the bathroom. Facing the opened medicine cabinet, I grabbed onto the swinging door. Stop being a fussy bastard and look. I flipped it shut, facing the mirror.

“You look just like—”

“SHUT UP!”

Err—That wasn’t meant to be out loud. Already off to a fine start at being normal. I tilted my head, examining all that needed to be done.

The stubble has to go. Just have to grab some shaving cream and a razor—Is that a good idea? Based on personal history—How else am I going to shave without a razor? Can’t snip it short enough with scissors. Just get rid of it before the interview!

I took a deep breath—plink. What the hell was that? A stray button laid in the sink. My eyes trailed down. Son of a bitch. My shirt found itself a new gap—admittedly a tighter fit now than I remembered. It exposed a patch of my stomach, hairy and swollen. Perfect! I don’t just look like a demented bird, but now a fat one too! I’m fucking disgusting!

There’s no way they’ll take me seriously! No matter what I do, there’s always going to be something wrong. I should just save myself the embarrassment—

Money. Need the money. This is the only call in a month! Who knows if anyone else will be dumb enough to consider me! I have to take it—

I’m not a professor and I’m not in my right mind! I’m barely a real person! I’m—

Wait.

No one misses me. I wouldn’t miss me. Why can’t I just disappear in more ways than one? Just fade out of existence and become someone different. A clean slate. Someone better. Someone smarter! Someone worthwhile! Rushing out of the bathroom, I donned my shoes and flew out the door.

Someone else!

By the time I returned home, the street lights were lit up. Shaking the rain off me, I hauled my newly aquired supplies and hiked up the stairs. No wonder the rent was so low—five flights of stairs was agonizing! By the time I reached the sixth story, my legs burned.

When I slid the key into the lock, a voice shouted to me.

“HEY! There you are!”

I turned to face a mess of gray hair. Plump as she was shrill, the elderly woman trotted towards me. That’s the one that keeps knocking on the door!

“Deary me, you’re an elusive one!”

“You don’t know the half of it.”

“Sorry?”

“Nothing. What do you want?”

She held out her hand. “We haven’t met yet. I’m your neighbor! You can call me Maggie.”

“Hi.”

There was a pause. Not taking a hint, she reached over and grabbed my hand. Squeezing, the woman shook it. That took all of my willpower to keep myself from shouting, pain shooting through me.

“Gloves, but no coat?”

“It’s at the dry cleaner’s.” I yanked my hand back.

“Oh! Of course! So, what brings you to our little neck of the woods?” Please, please, please stop talking to me.

“Work.”

“What kind of work?”

“Teaching.”

“Where?”

“I’m not sure yet. I have an interview tomorrow.”

“Aw, you really are new around here, aren’t you? Good luck with your interview!” She patted my arm, trying to catch glimpses at my bags—nosy old woman!

“If you don’t mind, I should sleep—”

“Dear, you have a button missing.” Dammit!

“I know, I’m—”

“Would you like me to sew it back on?” Behind her, more curious seniors poked their heads out from what I presumed to be her place. The whole lot of them watched.

“No, I’m fine—”

“Come over to my apartment and I’ll patch it up! You can meet some of the other girls here—”

“I don’t need—”

“It’ll be quick! I just need your shirt.” She walked down the hall, leading the way.

Deadbolt turned, doorknob locked, chain in place. I’m not getting shirtless in front of a cribbage party! I could still hear them chattering outside, exchanging conspiracy theories. Hard to make out the words from their hushed tones, but I at least heard, “What a strange lad! Did you see his nose?”

Getting back to business, I ripped open my bags and dug through my purchases. I threw my new attire on, brushing it smooth and fussing with the cuffs. Who am I kidding? Look at all this wasted money. Why did I do this? With a sigh, I trudged to the bathroom to face the deed I had done.

The man in the reflection was not someone I recognized. Between the new button-up, vest, and tie, I didn’t look pudgy—enough slack to thin my figure out. Everything else downwards also matched in color, adding to the surreal look of professionalism.

Though a dumb thought earlier, I started to like the round spectacles I found—small enough to see over them so not to suffer a headache, yet somehow made me look smarter. At the very least, more educated—quite a feat for someone that didn’t pass grade school!

The best part was the gloves. Honestly, I just bought them so I didn’t have to explain the bandages during the interview, but seeing them on me gave a weird feeling. A good one, but certainly not anything I was used to. How to describe it? Powerful. In control. No longer did I get that sinking pang of worthlessness upon seeing my hands, but instead a surge of moxie.

When I stood in front of Grogerstone the next day, clean shaven and sporting my new look, I somehow felt at ease. I don’t know why—I was still grossly under qualified for the job, yet my head didn’t spew so much bile. Still a few comments, but so many others faded to the back of my mind. Checking the time, I went up the stone steps.

I am William Boyer.
NOIR SHORT: '49 was a Bad Year Part II
Part 1: NOIR SHORT: '49 was a Bad Year
Part 3: NOIR SHORT: '49 was a Bad Year Part III

I got a lot of good feedback on the previous one across various websites, so I decided to make this one a three-parter! If you'd like to see more Noir content, check out the blog here: beckkeep.com/
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Hellooooo!

Since I finally decided on a pen name, I've set up social media for that Noir novel I'm working on! First draft done and halfway through second! Aiming to get it to a literary agent sometime next year when it's complete.

Once published, you will find the book under the name Beck Keep (Beck to keep my gender ambiguous because haha, woman can't write thrillers and Keep because Burg means "Castle," and apparently there's a fictional character that uses the pen name Castle already so I picked a word relating to it).

If you're interested in following the latest updates of my book, I've got a Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook set up as Beck Keep! A personal website will be at beckkeep.com but I need a wait a day before I can get it up there (it'll be the Tumblr account set on its own site). I'll edit this when that's ready.

IT'S GETTING THERE!

Edit: Got beckkeep.com working!

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:icontheskull31:
TheSkull31 Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2015  Student General Artist
Hey, Beck. First of all, I want to congratulate you for surpassing the 100,000 view mark. Second, quick question because I use Skype: do you and Rick Skype?
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:iconzibaricon:
ZiBaricon Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2015  Professional General Artist
Thank you!

I actually don't really get use Skype, to be honest—neither does Rick. We're kind of social recluses that way.
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:icontheskull31:
TheSkull31 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2015  Student General Artist
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:iconkibalover028:
kibalover028 Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2014  Student Writer
Thankyou for joining:iconlove-writing:. I hope you enjoy our group:)
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:icontffangirl2011:
TFFanGirl2011 Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Hey, i heard you got married. Congrates.
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:iconzibaricon:
ZiBaricon Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thank you!
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:icontheskull31:
TheSkull31 Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014  Student General Artist
Hey there, Rebecca. Number one fan of A Loonatic's Tale here. Would you like to check out this song that I wrote? It's called "Riley's Rap" and it's dedicated to your comic, A Loonatic's Tale.
theskull31.deviantart.com/art/…
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:iconzibaricon:
ZiBaricon Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2014  Professional General Artist
Oh, cool!  I'll go check it out!
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:icontheskull31:
TheSkull31 Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2014  Student General Artist
Awesome.
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:iconjinx-chan11:
Jinx-chan11 Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
Hi my name is jinx and i really love your artwork and style..sorry i am very shy talking to people
0////0
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