Most authors never really talk about anything “behind-the-scenes” about their work, but I wanted to take the opportunity to do just that. As most folks know my novella, A Summer of Guiltless Sex” was my collaboration with my real-life muse, Dirk. His idea…his characters.. his story… I wrote it… I’m the one that is credited (by his insistence because he said he can’t write a lick), but it was very much a Dirk and “Doc” goodie.
It was also the fastest piece of writing I’ve ever done because he made it so easy to visualize who these people were and what this story was actually about. The title is what we called, “the fantasy spark.” We all have a reason we go into any venture and with our characters the spark was the idea that they could have one season of fun without any of the drama. And it was our tongue-in-cheek way of having fun by making ya’ll think it was nothing but sexual fluff. But we wanted to do something more… we wanted you to know these guys, Bill and Ted..(yes we named them that on purpose because of the Adventure thingie..lol) We wanted you to see they were just like me and you… they were just normal guys who were trying to piece their lives together.. and find meaning in a meaningless world… AND that was what the story is truly about.. discovery… Discovering who you are… and more important… WHO you can be… and WHAT you can do…
Dirk is so proud of this book that he reads each and every email we get about it…and insists on answering them with me. I’m proud of it because in essence there is a little bit of both of us in this book.. We were looking for meaning in a meaningless world…and we discovered a friendship that did just that….
When you read it…think about all those wonderful people that are in your life..or that were in your life… that changed everything in the way you saw things…That’s your Bill and Ted….

A SUMMER OF GUILTLESS SEX By DAN SKINNER : https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D903HXE



I’m gonna quote Dirk’s mom (a lawyer) here because this says pretty much everything: “I hope when they impeach this imposter President it’s public, harrowing and humiliating. I hope the tentacles of his misdeeds drag every one in his administration down to drown with him. I hope the sinking ship takes that whole souless alien GOP party with it. And when they start over I hope they realize that religion has NO place in politics and say, “tax the churches until they shut their mouths once and for all!”

Dirk’s First Date Advice

TDMvolume4Dirk is in Houston with his Mom and Grandmama this week for some family stuff and was all excited about the new guy (Jake) at the gym asking me to his place for coffee. He’s had his eye on Jake almost from the beginning because he’s a beautiful bodybuilder with a headful of dark black hair and a sweet face.
DIRK: You ought to get a king-sized can of shaving cream and new razors and shave each other in the shower!!
DOC: Dirk, it’s a first date!
DIRK: Yeah, maybe coffee is the way to go…

Our latest Misadventures:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XCZX2KZ


ANGER By Dan Skinner

When things were going smoothly in my life; when I was under the false illusion that things were hunky dory, I became a lazy man enjoying the comforts. I ate good, rich foods, I drank wine and I indulged in all the fine luxuries of someone enjoying his life. I had an extended period of this type of unchallenged paradise… ten years in fact… enough years to take a fit man and turn him into a bloated, self-indulgent slob who avoided looking in the mirror. That was what life was about; right? Enjoying it?
When jeans quit fitting, I start buying sweats and pants without belts and larger, looser shirts. I angled myself in the mirror when I stepped out of the shower to not notice so much of the overhanging gut and the legs that had taken on the girth of tree trunks. If I felt a moment of anxiety about the creature I was becoming… I poured myself another luxurious glass of wine and let it melt my concerns into an homogenous blur as I tuned in to something on Netflix and sprawled on the sofa with my snacks.
But beneath this blur was the realization that my “good life” was turning me into something I didn’t recognize. I’d been a fit person my whole life. A bodybuilder at one time in my early twenties. People had always said I was “beautiful”. That was their word. For a time I basked in it; actually thought it was a gift eternal and nothing I could do would take it away. I’d deluded myself in the daily routine of middle-class comfort.
Of course, all paradises are fiction. It’s only a matter of time before reality can’t be blocked by a third or fourth glass of wine and a gigantic slab of blood-soaked prime rib. Life goes wrong. That’s what Life does. There are no perpetually calm oceans or sunny days or temperate Blue Lagoon breezes. Storms blow in… things get uprooted… the calm is gone and you are left standing with raw reality the way I was when my comfortable life suddenly came to an end. I had to look in the mirror for the first time in years and evaluate what the “good easy life” had done to me. The overweight man in the mirror that no one would call “beautiful”. Not only my comfortable life was gone, but I’d allowed it to gradually drain away the essence of who I was along with it.
I remember the moment very clearly because I was talking aloud to myself as I looked down at a slovenly middle-aged man I didn’t recognize. “What the fuck have I done?” I said. I repeated it over and over like the horror of the realization would lessen with the sound of my voice. It didn’t.
And I became ANGRY. Not at my situation that had forced me to finally see myself for what I’d became, but at myself for allowing the comfort of that situation to feed on me as I fed on it.
Now my comfortable life was gone…. and “I” was too. This was unacceptable. I seethed with rage. I would not have this. This would not be me. This would not be my life. I would not look in the mirror and see this creature. I would NOT live in this horrible thing I’d turned into.
The situation became so untenable I began immediately tossing out all the things of “comfort” that had robbed me of me: the rich foods, the alcohol, the weekends on the sofa doing nothing but watching television. I slowly began working out. I was in such bad shape a trainer/friend came by every night and we started by taking midnight walks around the neighborhood to get me used to exercise again. And it was defeating. DEFEATING! I’d grown so out of shape my legs rubbed together and chafed when I walked. It hurt like hell and made me cry which in turn made me even angrier. I put bandages on the blisters….and then I walked EVEN further.  The next night….even further… the night after that…MORE. My anger compelled me to attack what I did not like and change it.
As the weight began to come off, I began to jog with him. Then we’d meet at the park and do calisthenics. I gradually began seeing muscles reappear underneath the dwindling layers of fat.
When I was forced to move and my trainer could no longer join me, it didn’t lessen my resolve. All I had to do was look in the mirror and my loathing refreshed itself enough to drive me out the door and onto the tracks, running. I go to where I could run a mile nonstop. Then a mile and a half… and in a year, five miles. The year after that I was running ten miles or more a day. I had dropped over fifty pounds. I had gone down four sizes in pants. My face had returned… the jawline I remembered. I ran a half marathon that year.
Four years later I can tell you that I was running fifteen miles a day without hardly sweating. I was back down to a weight I hadn’t seen since high school. I looked younger again. But more than that I felt like myself again. I didn’t feel like a slug or someone sliding into the obscurity of middle age sightless and unseen by those around me. I look in the mirror and it’s WOW!
The first point of this is the storm that wreaked havoc in my life that took all my comforts away… that made me ANGRY… made me do something about what I did not like in my life. It made me fight. It made me change…. and I accomplished something that I had thought was impossible.
The second point of this is the majority of us are all feeling this despair of a similar defeat with a new and most vile administration threatening us. I don’t know how many times I have seen people start sentences discussing it with phrases like “I’m afraid of…” or “what I fear is”… and then expressing how impossible the situation feels. After all, we had a halcyon eight years of Obama and we thought our perfect little Paradise would sail smoothly on after him. But the storm moved in and along with it the shock….. and the anger…..
Anger is a tool. Use it… I did…. Nothing is impossible…We will be victorious!

First Glimpse of Ryan (from the gay romance, Memorizing You)

I  knew  how  different  I  was.  I  was  made  aware  of  it  every  day  that  my  dad  asked  me  if  I  had  a  girlfriend  yet.  I’d  made  up  a  million  responses  to  that   question,  but  I  was  getting  tired  of  it.  More  than  that,  I  was  getting  tired  of   knowing  that  I  would  never  have  a  response  to  it.  To  avoid  the  question  I  took  to   running  during  dinnertime,  or  booking  a  lawn  job  just  so  I  didn’t  have  to  sit  at   the  table  and  be  faced  with  devising  another  answer  to  the  unanswerable  query.   The  world  just  was  not  constructed  for  a  person  like  me  to  fit  in.  I  wasn’t  bad-­‐‑ looking.  I  had  a  nice  face.  Pleasant  features.  No  acne.  Blue  eyes.  Decent  body.   Surely  someone  out  there  had  to  be  looking  at  me  the  way  I  looked  at  others.   Somebody  out  there  had  to  want  me  the  way  I  desired  others.  Were  they  out   there  looking  at  me  but  going  through  what  I  was?  Not  being  able  to  do  anything   about  it?  It  was  frustrating.

I  heard  my  classmates  talking  about  sex  all  the  time  and  I  felt  left  out.  The   only  guy  untouched  by  human  hands.  I  sat  on  the  sidelines  as  the  football  team   practiced.  Their  field  was  in  the  middle  of  the  track  I  ran.  From  the  bleachers  I’d   watch  this  parade  of  masculinity,  half  in  shirts,  half  skins  as  they  ran  and   grappled  each  other  to  the  ground  in  what  looked  like  a  sex  dance  to  me.  They’d   get  up,  pat  each  other’s  ass,  and  go  back  at  it  once  again.  All  of  it  so  seemingly   normal  to  them.  But  to  me,  it  was  a  personification  of  sexuality.  My  eyes  viewed   the  world  with  a  different  perspective.

On  one  particular  day  there  was  a  guy  sitting  on  the  bench  I’d  not  seen   before.  A  new  face.  He  was  just  another  one  of  those  joes  like  me.  Ordinary   enough  to  pass  by  on  the  street  without  a  glance.  Short  blond  hair,  a  lithe  but  not   consequential  torso,  but  with  the  most  extraordinary  muscular  legs.  They  looked   disproportionate  to  his  body.  Thighs  that  looked  impossible  to  squeeze  into  his   training  shorts.

I  would  watch  part  of  the  practice,  but  inevitably  my  gaze  would  drift  back   to  him.  He  seemed  uncomfortable;  like  he  didn’t  want  to  be  there.  Distracted  enough  to  look  almost  everywhere  but  the  field.  He  either  wanted  to  be  in  the   game  very  badly,  or  to  not  be  there  at  all.  I  could  only  guess  by  his  body   language.

There  was  a  scuffle  among  two  of  the  players  that  brought  the  coach  in  to   intercede.  Macho  yelling  from  all  sides  for  a  few  moments  before  the  shrill  bleat   of  whistle  pierced  the  noise  and  brought  it  all  to  quiet.  The  hoarse  voice  of  the   coach  began  the  reprimand  as  I  returned  my  attention  to  the  guy  on  the  bench.   He  stared  at  me.  Straight  at  me.  There  was  no  one  else  around.  I  was  the  only   person  seated  on  the  bleachers.  His  hand  raised  from  his  lap  in  a  small  wave.  I   made  a  small,  indecisive  wave  back  and  then  sat  there  in  the  strangeness  of  the   moment.  I  had  no  clue  what  just  happened  or  why.



Memorizing You By Dan Skinner: https://www.amazon.com/Memorizing-You-Dan-Skinner-ebook/dp/B00DUXS4Z2/

What was your “first time” like? (from Memorizing You By Dan Skinner)

my“You  guys  have  a  fun  night!”  his  mom  called  after  us  as  I  followed  him   across  the  field.

“What  kind  of  surprise?”   I  said,  straining  to  see  ahead  in  through  the   encroaching  twilight.  Just  barely  viewable  halfway  across,  I  made  out  a  shape   that  looked  like…a  tent.  A  campsite.  A  ring  of  rocks  with  a  small  fire  burning  in   it.  A  stack  of  wood  next  to  it.

“What  the  hey?”  I  was  amused  by  the  idea.  Reading  scary  stories  by  a   campfire.

“I  thought  you’d  like  that,”  he  said,  running  ahead  of  me  toward  the  tent.

I  ran  to  catch  up  and  was  surprised  that  it  was  a  good  sized  tent  with  a   lantern,  a  stash  of  graham  crackers,  marshmallows  and  chocolate  for  s’mores,  a   couple  of  thermos  of  grape  Kool-­‐‑Aid,  some  pretzels,  and  chips.

The  fire  had  been  started  earlier  and  had  dwindled  down.  Ryan  threw  two   more  small  logs  on  it  to  rekindle  it.

“There’s  gonna  be  a  full  moon  tonight.  That’ll  make  it  even  better.”  The  guy   was  something  else.  Who  would  have  thought  of  turning  a  study  time  of  Edgar   Allan  Poe  into  a  campfire  side  story?

Darkness  fell  fast,  and  from  where  we  were  situated  we  couldn’t  even  see   the  lights  of  his  house.  Only  our  campsite  and  the   canopy   of  stars  in  the   cloudless  night.  We  pulled  the  sleeping  bags  from  the  tent  around  the  fire,  and   propped  the  lantern  on  the  outside  of  the  tent.

I  started  with  The  Facts  in  the  Case  of  M.  Valdemar.  The  story  of  a  dying  man   being  hypnotized  and  still  able  to  communicate  after  he  was  dead.  Ryan  listened   intently,  only  breaking  the  discourse  when  he  didn’t  understand  the  meaning  of   a  word.

Next  I  read  The  Fall  of  The  House  of  Usher,  then,  The  Masque  of  Red   Death,  and  finally,  The  Tell-­‐‑Tale  Heart.

Ryan  looked  at  me  after  the  last  sentence  and  said,  “Wow,  that  Poe  was  one   sick  puppy.  He  shoulda  been  in  a  home.”

“Yes,  but  he  was  probably  a  greater  influence  to  the  modern  writers  of   horror  and  suspense  than  any  other  writer.  He  was  more  readable  than  the   others.  The  terror  was  more  realistic.  That’s  why  he’s  so  important.”

In  the  flames  of  the  fire  I  could  see  he  was  looking  at  me  with  what   appeared,  to  my  eyes,  to  be  admiration.

“How  do  you  know  all  of  this  stuff?”  he  asked.  “Are  you  like  some  whiz-­‐‑kid   genius?”

“I  just  like  to  read,”  I  answered.  “Never  made  a  lot  of  friends;  wasn’t  good  at   sports  much.  So,  I  read.”

“Well,  good  for  me,”  he  said.  “I  get  a  tutor  and  a  running  buddy  all  rolled   into  one.”

He  made  s’mores  and  we  ate  them  watching  the  full  moon  rise  high  in  the   starry  night.  There  was  no  doubt  he  was  a  true  nature  boy.  He  loved  everything   about  being  outdoors.  He  sat  bow-­‐‑legged  in  the  semi-­‐‑darkness  listening  to  the   sounds  of  the  night  like  they  were  a  song  being  sung  for  him.

I  cannot  lie.  I  was  captivated  by  his  raw  beauty.  His  blue  eyes  shone  in  the   lunar  light.  The  curve  of  his  head  with  its  close-­‐‑cropped  blond  hair  made  me   think  of  an  imposing  Roman  statue  of  a  conquering  hero.  The  masculine   inclination  of  his  nose  from  a  square  forehead,  the  slope  of  cheekbone  to  a  strong   block  of  chin,  both  alluring  and  majestic.

“Such  a  beautiful  night,”  he  commented,  his  eyes  still  fixed  on  the  moon.   “People  lose  sight  of  how  beautiful  the  world  is  that  we  live  in  by  sitting  in  front   of  the  boob  tube  every  night.”

I  stared  at  the  curve  of  his  back,  the  full  bicep  as  he  raised  his  s’more  and  ate.   The  blond  hair  on  his  legs  gleamed  in  the  duo  of  light.

He  turned  to  look  at  me,  orange  embers  catching  his  face  again.  “Where  do   you  plan  to  go  after  high  school?  Which  college?”

I  explained  to  him  how  it  was  unlikely  I’d  be  able  to  attend  any  college.  Our   family  didn’t  have  the  finances.  That  I’d  probably  decide  on  a  trade  and  go  to  a   school  for  that.

“You  already  have  a  trade  that’s  making  money.  Why  not  just  build  on   that?”

“You  mean,  mowing  lawns?”  I’d  never  thought  of  it  as  anything  but  a  school   boy’s  way  of  making  cash.  Not  a  lifetime  profession.

“Why  not?  Everybody  needs  their  lawns  mowed.  There’s  apartment   complexes  and  office  buildings;  all  kinds  of  places  that  would  probably  pay   regularly  to  have  their  lawns  mowed.  You  just  get  more  clients,  hire  more  high   school  guys  who  want  to  make  extra  cash,  and  build  the  business  up  as  big  as   you  can.”  He  looked  back  up  at  the  moon.  “You  make  your  own  mulch,  sell  that   service;  do  shrubbery  trimming.  There’s  all  kinds  of  ways  to  make  money  with   that  stuff.”

Looking  back  now  on  how  easily  someone’s  words  would  end  up  shaping   the  course  of  my  life,  you’d  wonder  about  things  like  providence.  Retiring  after   forty  years  of  a  very  successful  lawn  care  business,  made  these  moments  shine   like  fate  was  a  gold  lamp  lighting  the  way.

The  moon  was  waning  when  we  carried  our  sleeping  bags  back  into  the  tent,   turned  off  the  lantern  and  listened  to  the  sounds  of  the  night.  My  mind  raced   with  uncoordinated  thoughts,  lying  so  close  to  him.  It  was  exciting  and   frightening.  But  I’d  not  make  a  fool  of  myself.  I  saw  what  it  looked  like  to  be  on   the  other  end  of  someone  who  doesn’t  feel  the  same  way.  The  image  of  Rosemary’s  face  was  always  there  to  remind  me.

“So  what  was  your  first  time  like?”  His  voice  came  from  the  shadows,   backlit  by  an  expiring  campfire.   It  was  odd  that  he  should  ask  that  as  I  remembered  the  pained  expression  of   the  girl  I  rejected.  “It’s  not  worth  talking  about,”  I  said  after  a  long  pause.

“That’s  why  you  were  running  that  first  day  I  saw  you,  isn’t  it?  That’s  why   you  were  angry.”

I  debated  whether  I  wanted  to  answer  it,  and  then  gave  in.  Maybe  I  would   learn  courage  from  him.  “Yeah.  I  hurt  someone  I  didn’t  mean  to  hurt.”

I  heard  him  shift.  His  profile  disappeared  as  he  turned  to  look  at  me.  He  was   in  darkness.  I  couldn’t  even  see  his  eyes.


I  tried  to  think  of  some  way  to  answer  that  question  that  didn’t  make  me   look  worse  than  I  felt  I  was.  “I  made  someone  believe  I  was  interested  in  them   when  I  wasn’t.  I…was  using  them.”

“Why?”   I  didn’t  want  to  explain  it.

I  didn’t  want  to  touch  the  subject  at  all.   “It’s  complicated.”

His  sigh  was  prolonged.  “Ah.  My  most  popular  answer  when  my  folks  ask     me  why  I’m  not  dating.”

So  many  moments  passed  I  thought  he’d  fallen  asleep.  I  could  hear  his   breathing.  The  night  sounds.  The  last  crackles  of  the  embers  in  the  campfire.

“It’s  hard  to  want  to  fit  in  and  not  be  able  to,”  his  voice  came  barely  above  a   whisper.  “They  make  us  feel  like  it’s  easier  to  lie  than  be  truthful.  Easier  to  hide   than  be  seen.  Make  us  feel  like  we  did  something  wrong  to  not  be  like  them.  Like   we  made  a  conscious  choice.”

It  seemed  I  was  breaking  down  inside.  It  wasn’t  out  of  self-­‐‑pity,  but  out  of  the  realization  of  the  helplessness  of  the  situation.  My  throat  was  stifling  me,  but   I  found  a  voice.  Small  as  it  was.  “I  didn’t  choose  it,”  I  said.  “It  was  just  there  one   day.”

I  couldn’t  believe  I’d  made  the  admission  to  him.  As  the  words  came  out  of   me,  I  felt  anchors  fall  away.  I  could  breathe  again.  I  could  sense  coolness  in  the   night  air  again.

I  heard  him  laugh.  “Sort  of  like  Mozart  when  he  could  play  the  piano  at   seven?”

I  could  feel  the  smile  curve  my  lips.  “More  like  Rudolf  having  a  red  nose.   How  the  hell  did  that  get  there?”

He  snickered  into  his  hands.  “So  true,”  he  snorted.  “They  think  it’s   like  we  chose  a  jacket  to  wear.”

It  was  astonishing  how  much  freer  I  felt  having  admitted  my  secret  to  him.   When  we  settled  down  from  laughing  at  ourselves,  the  silence  pressed  on  us   again.

“You  have  to  apologize  to  your  friend,”  he  told  me.  “You  can’t  let  her  go  on   thinking  it  was  something  she  did.  She’ll  carry  that  forever.”

I  knew  he  was  right.  I  hoped  I  got  the  opportunity  to  do  that.  It  wasn’t   something  I  wanted  to  carry  with  myself  either.  I  lay  there  listening  to  his  light   snoring  for  an  hour.  I  wanted  to  absorb  every  moment  of  this  night.  I  knew  it   was  special.  I  wanted  to  keep  it  locked  away  inside  me  forever  just  the  way  it   was.  When  I  closed  my  eyes  to  sleep,  I  thought  of  how  he’d  glowed  like  a  jewel   in  the  light  of  the  campfire.  The  way  the  flames  carved  him  against  the  darkness.   The  very  shape  of  his  head.  The  smudges  of  chocolate  and  marshmallows  on  his   fingers  and  lips.  How  the  hair  on  his  legs  looked  like  filaments  of  gold.  When  I   was  certain  my  heart  had  painted  the  canvas  in  my  memory…I  fell  asleep.

Memorizing You By Dan Skinner : https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DUXS4Z2



Is there a SUPERHUMAN inside us?

dna2It was no surprise that by the age of nine Robert Lindell Seuthers had a large menagerie rivaling the best zoos. It functioned as a sanctuary on his mother’s sprawling almost 700-acre Maine estate—a veritable landlocked Noah’s Ark. There were videos online of the young boy overseeing the building of the facilities that would be home to over a hundred animals. There were dozens of clips of him giving tours to children from nearby hospitals. He’d established a love of nature at an early age. It wasn’t just a study to him; it was a part of his everyday life. By the time the mini-zoo was completed, Seuthers was thirteen.

In his restlessness, Geoff pulled up several web links on his phone to study his newfound hero. He lingered over the face of the fragile-looking nine-year-old boy with the highly inquisitive eyes. He wondered what it felt like to live inside the head of someone so brilliant. Was there ever a time when he had the real innocence of a child, or did his strange wisdom rob him of the simple joys in his formative years? Was he always a small body waiting to catch up with an adult mind?

Whatever the differences there may have been, it didn’t show on the young countenance surrounded by his animals. He not only delighted in their presence, he loved them all, and it showed. Thinking him someone who would have a zoo/sanctuary solely for entertainment was an underestimation of his intelligence. Seuthers studied everything.

Analyzing him was like following a trail of video breadcrumbs. His entire life: thoughts, accomplishments, amusements, and beliefs were a matter of public record. Video record. If Geoff had a question about him, it was simply a matter of finding the video that held the answer. There were hundreds of them. His fans had tried to organize and archive them by subject matter or age. But the undertaking wasn’t yet complete. His following was immense, comparable to that of a rock star. All one had to do to learn how people of all ages revered him was to scroll through the endless comments beneath each video. Geoff had never seen a genius fan club, but he could understand it with this particular man. He was fascinating.

He was intrigued by the sanctuary and began clicking through the videos archived under that label. He stumbled on one that didn’t just chronicle the animals or new building additions. It was the eighteen-year-old Seuthers conducting a tour of college-age biology students through the facility. They followed him with the starry-eyed look of true admirers. Here was one of their own —already a billionaire inventor. To broke, Ramen-eating college students, he was their rock star.

“It’s an absurd vanity for man to believe he is the capstone of evolution. We live in mere increments of some eighty years and assume that our vision encompasses the dead end of a process of adaptation that takes hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of years. Evolution is a slow and microscopic tinkerer. It’s not something we can witness in a short spectrum of observation. It’s pure, unadulterated arrogance to think that we’ve stopped evolving, that we cannot become something different or greater than what we are at present. We are constantly adapting.” He turned to look at the small gathering of students. “Does anyone know how we can prove that to be true on a small scale which we can see right this very instant?”

Heads turned, eyes all looking at each other, but no raise of hands.

He took a lip balm from his pocket, uncapped it, and smoothed it over his lips. “Chapped lips. We discovered that if we continually use a lip balm, our lips begin assuming they have enough moisture and thus, stop manufacturing it. We get addicted to lip balm because our lips have adapted to our use of it. The only way we can actually un-chap our lips is to quit using it.” He capped it and returned the lip balm to his pocket. “The same can be said of eye drops and nasal spray. The body is continuously in various stages of adaptation to our environment. We discovered that truth years ago with antibiotic use. If we take one particular antibiotic too often, our body acclimates itself to it and it is no longer effective. That’s how we learned to rotate antibiotics in serious illnesses. The truth is, in evolutionary terms, we’re an unfinished blueprint. We still have no idea where our DNA will take us over time, but this—” He made an exaggerated gesture encompassing his whole torso, “is not a finished product by any means.”

He walked them to the small wooded area where two gray wolves slept. “This is Romy and Abe. They are gray wolves. Most of you know wolves have a sense of smell one hundred times more sensitive than humans do. They can sniff out another animal from almost two miles away. It’s not only the way they locate prey, but their highly developed defense mechanism to detect predators.” He turned back to his audience. “Let’s just suppose some things for a moment, because I’m one of those weirdoes who likes to ponder the ‘what if’s in life. Let’s cast an eye on one of the rules of natural selection. The very heart of it, in fact: the survival of the species. Competition for survival is the same with all life in that the creatures with the most advantageous traits are more likely to survive. Each species, like our gray wolves with their highly evolved sense of smell, have their own unique defense mechanisms because of their position in the food chain. The species above and below them on this chain of dominance would all possess their own brand of defense, whether sight, claws, teeth, or size. These traits maintain what we know as a natural balance.” He held up a finger. “Now, we know our position in this food chain and why we’re there. Intelligence. We’ve been able to out-think and out-smart to secure our dominance by creating external defenses: guns, bows and arrows, traps, et cetera. But,” he smiled coyly. “What would happen if that balance were upset? What if there was a failure of technology and man was thrown back into the wild without his weapons and forced to rely on nothing but his wiles? Would evolution change the way we continued to develop? Give us the same mechanisms as other species to allow us to compete with nature and maintain our dominance? Could we possibly acquire the same sense of smell as these wolves? If so, how would that change us? A human with the capability to smell both predator and prey from two miles away?”

“It’d definitely be hard to sneak up on someone,” one of the students offered.
“Practically impossible,” Seuthers agreed. “Boggles the imagination to consider what mankind could be and do because of one sense evolving to a higher state. It changes almost everything. But let us take this game of evolutionary what if a few steps further. Each creature, as I said, has its own brand of defense mechanism: for example, the gazelle has its speed, the armadillo, its armor, the snake its venomous fangs, the chameleon can blend into its background, the seemingly innocuous opossum: the ability to see in the dark.” He walked them to a nearby gulley where two porcupines were munching on a discarded pumpkin. “The quills of the porcupine. Harmless little creature until you try to grab or bite the thing.”

The video panned the faces of the students. They were entranced by the young, now handsome genius and his mental challenges.

“What if man were in a position where he needed these protective devices? A skin like armor, immense speed, the ability to make ourselves unseen to the enemy, the ability to see in the dark? How different would our society be if man had any or all of these?”

“He’d be Batman!” one young man shouted out jokingly.

Seuthers smiled. “Batman is a human who uses weapons. That makes him ordinary. We’re talking Superman territory. Built-in or innate traits that elevate man to a higher degree of invincibility than the ordinary flesh and blood human.”

“A superhero!” “A superhuman. A hero is made so by his or her deeds. Humans are made by genes. The possibilities are infinite. The underlying question is this: if technology were to fail us, say an enormous sunspot were to erupt and EMP us into the dark ages, how would you fend for yourself? How would you shelter and protect yourself? How would you safeguard yourself when the civilized part of civilization was lost? That is a frightening question because mankind as a whole has become dependent on external means to maintain his superiority. We’re no longer creatures savvy to the wild. We’re weak and lazy, and for the most part very unintelligent in spite of ourselves. We have no survival skills. We depend on others to bring our food to us and put it in stores for us to buy and cook. We depend on automobiles and planes and trains to get us to our destinations. How many of us could walk on foot across the city we live in?”

“I don’t even like walking up the stairs to the museum,” a young female voice piped in. “Exactly,” Seuthers said. “The possibility that there could come a time when man would need to continue his evolutionary adaptation may be more real than any of us think. It’s time for us to quit believing that we are the crowning achievement of evolution and realize it would only take one cataclysmic disaster to throw us back onto the bottom rung in nature to start all over again. It wouldn’t take long for us to discover who could survive by adapting.”
At the end of the video, Geoff sat silently, contemplating what he’d just heard. He touched the hairs on his arm thoughtfully. Two words remained with him: “Unfinished blueprint.”

an excerpt from the novel XPERIMENT by Dan Skinner: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B019UUUTY2



The Fantasy of a Young artist-boy

daveskinnydipperHe recognized the McHenrys’ truck by the particular chug-chug-clunk sound of its motor. His heart did a song and dance knowing what the sound of that vehicle meant. Either Rory or Dale or both of them had come to cool themselves off in the pond. Even the thought of the teenager brought the now welcome stiffness to his pajama pants.

He listened for a few minutes. The sound of only one truck door opening and slamming. He rose and knelt in front of his window to peer between the silo and the line of oaks that blocked the view of the road and field where the truck was parked. He could see the single darting beam of a flashlight making its way toward the pond. The figure was still too far away to tell who it was, and his heartbeat choked him in anticipation. Fireflies danced like miniature amber lanterns in the deep blue night. The singing insects of summer were alive with a new song, masking the crunch of footfalls on dry grass. Zac picked up the miniature binoculars and held them in front of his eyes, focusing until he found the dark figure moving toward the pond. At last he was beyond the trees moving toward the silo. He was tall. Long, light hair swayed at his shoulders beneath a cowboy hat. Rory. His breath caught.

Once he passed the silo Zac could see him clearly. He had the flashlight in one hand and a bottle of either beer or soda in the other. He paused at the edge of the pond and sat the two things he carried on the ground. He peeled himself out of his pullover T. He kicked off his shoes, removed his socks, rolled them in a ball and stuffed them inside one of the shoes. Zac’s pulse was thick in his throat as he watched him unsnap and unzip his jeans and slip out of them. His naked body glowed like blue marble in the warm moonlight. Even deep in shadow his stature was like a work of art. It was because of the sublime perfection of men like this that songs were written, legends born, dreams fulfilled or hearts broken. Beauty, not blood made princes of this sort.

Zac was breathing so heavily it fogged the lenses of the small binoculars. He looked down the edge of bushes that separated the pond from the Weston backyard. Sheets were still strung on a clothesline waving in the light breeze. Down there was where he needed to be. He pushed his feet into his soft slippers. In a hollow house he had to make as little noise as possible. He knew every floorboard that squeaked and once past his bedroom door, he tiptoed a hopscotch pattern over them to get to the stairs. He walked down these close to the wall where the boards were less worn, stronger and more quiet. At the bottom he listened. He was safe. His parents still slept soundly.

On the back porch the breeze caught his hair and billowed through his loose pajamas. The night was cool and pleasant. The moon was just bright enough to illuminate a path between the wind-tossed sheets to the cover of the bushes at the edge of the yard. He made his way to these, and then carefully, pulling back branches, found a spot of bare earth where he could sit and observe the pond unseen by anyone.

Rory was naked, seated on his discarded jeans, close enough to the pond to have his feet dangling in the water’s edge. Zac could see his toes wriggling upward, forming luminous ripples. He was leaning back sipping from the bottle. His silhouette was rimmed with pale light making his skin look like deep blue silk occasionally dotted with firefly glitter of perspiration. He was humming a tune that was familiar but unnamable. A hand skimmed down over his chest and abdomen and rested comfortably just below his navel in the nest of hair. Zac studied him like he was the sculpted work of a master on display in a museum. Every contour where light found a hollow was more beautiful than the previous.

He finished his drink, set the bottle down, rose and stretched wide and luxuriously, allowing the breeze to find its way over and around his naked flesh. His long hair whipped like a flag in one direction until he tucked it behind his ears and slowly waded into the pond. Then he dived in deep and the wave plumes showed that he aimed toward its center. A moment later he came up, wiping his wet hair backwards away from his face. It was in that precise moment, as he stood wet and gleaming in the light of the summer night, that Zac envisioned what he was to him. He was the embodiment of love. A real-life Cupid. A God of Desire. Not the fairy tale version of the chubby little boy with wings, but the slender, glorious young man. Clouds moved high behind him in the dark starlit sky giving him the appearance of having lustrous, ever-changing wings. The vision enthralled the younger boy.

He watched him for more than an hour doing nothing special, but making each second feel momentous to Zac. It was like his mind was preserving each movement as if it were a vital brushstroke on canvas. He had nothing to compare what he was feeling against. It was new and wild and filled him to the brim. He was possessed by it.

The Art of the Heart By Dan Skinner: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LBGT882




eyedinosaurabThey rode in silence for a few moments, Geoff watching the low clouds in an overcast sky scud ahead of them.

“You don’t believe bad people can change their ways; do you?” Trying to read the man was difficult, but here and there, Geoff thought he was catching glimpses.

The anvil jaw clinched a bit. “We’re not talking about boys playing hooky or stealing cigarettes. It doesn’t take much thinking to do things like that. These are minds that lie awake at night plotting ways to destroy lives, circumvent people’s rights, harm the helpless, and make victims of all of us. There’s a difference between a crook and a psychotic. These people have diseased minds. You know what you do with a disease, a tumor, a cancer? You cut it out. You don’t let it fester and grow, allowing it to infect the whole body. They aren’t going to go away; the problems aren’t going to resolve themselves because they have some magnificent soul-cleansing epiphany. They believe they’ve already had their epiphany and it wasn’t a good one. We all have to learn that we can’t run away from a problem. It must be resolved.”

They parked a couple blocks away from the warehouse and approached it on foot. It was a long, low structure on the river, directly in front of the docks. There was nothing eye-catching about it. There were two garage doors at either end with loading docks butting up to them. There were only a few windows on the lower level. It looked reasonably well maintained but virtually abandoned like most of the buildings on the street.

The river moved swiftly beyond the building, wide and muddy, ice chunks in its flow.

They entered through a side door; the lock was easily jimmied. The interior smelled of disuse and the river. “Are you sure they use this building?” Geoff wondered as he looked around. It was empty.
“Middle room is where it meets the wharf dock and the unloading is done,” he said. “They use the south end door for loading because it’s hidden by the other buildings. There were fresh tire tracks frozen in the mud just outside it, which means something was delivered shortly before the snowfall.”

They trod softly on the unvarnished plank floor. Little illumination shone through the grimy windows, but Geoff could see DiMarco’s scowl. Something weighed heavily on his mind.

The central room was larger than the first two. A square of barred light from a skylight brightened the middle but cast deeper shadows at its fringes. The first thing Geoff noticed was a man on a chair in the square of light. His legs were tied to the chair, wrapped with coarse brown rope. His hands had been bound behind him. A brown burlap bag covered his face. His head was bowed as if asleep. His presence startled Geoff.

“What’s going on? I thought you said we weren’t going to do anything to do them for a while?”

Unflinching gold eyes fell on him. The seriousness etched on the planes of his face made him look fearsome. “It’s not one of them,” he replied icily.

Geoff didn’t want to belabor the point, but he could smell the man’s evil. He wasn’t certain what the detective’s motives were in denying that fact, but his own senses didn’t lie. Before he could address it, the detective pushed him into the shadows at the back of the room and held a finger in front of his lips silencing him.

Stepping forward, he announced himself loudly. “I’m back!”

The man’s head snapped up. There was mumbling from inside the sack. DiMarco snatched the cloth bag, revealing the man underneath it. He was blindfolded and gagged. Geoff found something inordinately familiar about the figure. He was overweight, the bulbous stretch of gut in the flannel shirt hanging low over the groin of the blue work pants. The sparse dark hair was greasy and salted with gray. His chin and drooping jowls were peppered with gray whiskers.

The detective stepped back into the darkness of the corner and removed his coat, tossing it to the floor with his cap and sunglasses. He strolled the perimeter just outside the square of light.

“I’ll bet you’re getting a bit cramped after sitting there all night?”

The head bobbed slowly.

Geoff recognized the smell: the sickly blend of alcohol, sweat, and filth. He’d never forget that combination of smells. The recognition alarmed him.

DiMarco met his eyes at that moment. Geoff’s mother’s boyfriend, his rapist, was tied to that chair. “Some things need to be resolved, you understand? They don’t go away with time; the violence doesn’t fade with age, the scars don’t smooth over. They just have to be dealt with,” he said, yanking the blindfold and gag from the man.

The ugly countenance that had haunted every one of his nightmares was revealed, fat, squalid, and red-eyed, squinting against the sudden light. He swallowed hard, looking confused and terrified.

“I… I don’t know what this is about, young man.” His voice shaking, breath visible in the frosty air. “I think you’ve made a mistake. You’ve got to be looking for someone else. I don’t know you and I don’t know what you want. I haven’t got any money.”

DiMarco continued skirting the shadows. He unbuttoned his shirt, tossed it to the floor while Geoff watched.

“In 1984, at the age of thirty, you were arrested for accosting a twelve-year-old boy, the son of your neighbor in Austin, Texas. The charges were dropped because the family suddenly moved out of town. You were suspected of threatening them… although nothing could be proven….”

The bugging eyes tried to follow the voice. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You have the wrong person. That wasn’t me.”

DiMarco kicked his shoes off into the corner with his second pass behind the man. “In 1986 two teenaged boys were sexually assaulted in a rest stop just outside Lawrenceville, Mississippi. They identified you as their attacker. One claimed you raped him. The charges were dropped when your attorney discovered they had misdemeanor arrests for drug possession and petty theft.”

Sweat beaded on the man’s forehead in spite of the chilly temperature in the room. “All circumstantial bullshit. Nothing anyone could prove. The kids were fucking punks, you know what I mean?”

“You do realize an innocent man just emphatically says he’s innocent, while a guilty one claims the evidence against him is circumstantial; don’t you?”

His laughter was nervous. “You’re just trying to trick me into saying something. I have nothing to say. What you’re doing is illegal. It’s harassment. I can sue you for this. I demand you let me go and we can solve this like gentlemen.”

The detective’s pants fell into the square of light just in front of the man in the chair. He looked at them with surprise and befuddlement.

“In 1990 you were living in Augusta, Georgia. Your neighbor had a ten-year-old son who was savagely raped. You were the only suspect, but nothing could be proved because the boy was beaten so badly he went into a coma. When he awakened, he couldn’t remember anything.” The circling continued.
Geoff had been so intent on watching his rapist’s face that he’d hardly noticed the striptease the detective was performing until a naked leg briefly stepped into the light. It was no longer human. It was long and curved, wolf-like, covered in sleek black fur. The foot now a wide paw with long ebony claws.

“It wasn’t me.” The predictable response.

“From 1991 until 2001 there’s a whole series of rapes of underage boys all along your delivery routes throughout three states. In fact, each incident corresponds exactly with a time you were in that location. Investigators have suspected you’re a serial rapist for a long time, but you’re very shrewd about staying one step ahead of their grasp. Most of the boys refused to press charges because they were afraid of being exposed as gay to their families. It seems you found a method to assure your victims’ silence.”

This time there was only a smirk; an impatient shaking of his head.

“In 2011 you moved in with a woman and her son, the Markham family, where you repeatedly raped and threatened the boy, who was also underage. There were whispers all through the town that something bad was going on in that house, but again, you got lucky when no one said a thing. You were able to continue assaulting this boy—”

“All lies!” he spat indignantly. “Everyone in that town knew that boy was trouble; not right in the head. Even his mother knew he was disturbed; didn’t know what to do with him. He was a liar, made things up. I never did one thing to that boy; I treated him like my own son.”

“You’re a liar!” The words had flown from Geoff’s mouth, brimming with more rage than he’d ever felt in a single moment.

The sound of the accusing voice shook the man. Color drained, eyes strained to find him beyond the light. Gradually, after repeatedly clearing his throat, he mustered a trembling voice. “Geoffy, is that you?”

He hated that he’d always called him that. He could see the malevolent slivers of the eyes of his colleague as he walked behind the man.

“I forgot to mention I brought a friend along,” DiMarco said, sounding strangely distorted. He never stopped pacing.

The man tried laughing. It sounded more like a croak. “That’s nice. Real nice. I’ve been worried about you, Geoffy. Your mom and I have been worried about you.”

“You raped him.” DiMarco didn’t mince words. Hearing them made Geoff flinch, but the effect on the man in the chair was far worse. He looked stricken.
His lips twitched. “No. No, I didn’t. That’s untrue. Tell him, Geoffy. You know I always took care of you. I mean, I was the guy who put food on your plate when your mom couldn’t. I was the one who paid the bills so you had a house to live in. I’m the guy who still takes care of your mother. She depends on me.”

Geoff seethed. He would have no more of these lies. “You know what you did!”

“Everyone has to answer for their deeds,” the detective’s peculiar voice announced, dragging nails along the wall. The sound was like the squall of a banshee. It had the desired effect on the bound man: he cringed.

“No. It wasn’t like that,” he protested, rocking in the chair. “He knew he was different. He was gay and he used that against me. He came after me. It was the other way around.”

It required all Geoff’s restraint to not violently pounce on him. He held his position. “You’re a lying sack of shit!”

The man would no longer look in his direction. He was seeking the man walking around him. “It’s not like what he told you. Trust me. He’s not right in the head. He-he seduced me. He’s nothing but an ugly little boy who no one else would pay attention to. It was all his doing. I didn’t want anything to do with it. You have to believe me.”

“You’re a pig.”

“He-he would lay there in his underwear trying to bait me. I tried not to look, but he wouldn’t leave me alone. He took baths in front of me; pissed in front of me. He did everything he could to get my attention. A man only has so much willpower.”

Geoff could feel a turning coming on, did what he had to do to curtail it: held his temper; stayed calm. “I wanted nothing to do with you. I couldn’t stand you. The sight of you made me sick. You forced yourself on me.”

“Listen to him. All that craft and artfulness. Trying to persuade you with his words. But look at him. He’s a pathetic, ugly ragged piece of bone even a dog wouldn’t want. All he could think of was getting a real man.”

Geoff stepped into the light, his shadow looming over the bound figure. Words stuck in the man’s throat. Mouth gaped; tongue fell paralyzed. He blinked like he believed his sight was betraying him.

“Geoffy, is that you?” He gulped hard. “You-you’re so different….”

“I used to lie awake at night thinking of ways I could kill you,” he spat the words. “But I didn’t want to trade one prison for another.” He could feel the hairs beginning to stand on his arms. He drew a breath to steady himself. “You stole the innocence of my childhood. That’s not something I can get back; nothing an ‘I’m sorry’ can remedy.”

He was looking around for the detective again, trying to find an ally. “See what I mean? This is what I was telling you. He’s unstable. Dangerous.”

“Shut the fuck up you worthless piece of garbage!” Geoff shouted over him. The sound shook the walls of the building; made the man in the chair fall back, silent.

Floorboards creaked under the weight of what was walking behind the man. Its silhouette towered taller than the dock doors.

“There was no one lower than you….”

The man found a sudden surge of indignant courage. “Fuck you. Fuck you, Geoff Markham. Eat me!”

Geoff could see the mouth open behind the man. Large white teeth shimmered beneath black lips.

He grinned. “I don’t have the stomach for you,” he said, looking at the repulsive memory tied to the chair one last time. “But he does….” He pointed to the thing stepping out of the darkness.

The thing which had been walking on hind legs dropped down onto all fours in the square of winter gray from the skylight. It was huge, primal-looking, covered in dark fur, spine arched high. Lungs puffed its ribcage, the noise coming from its snout in gusts. Saliva dripped from the rows of daggers in its mouth. Gold eyes fastened on the prey, stepping slowly closer.

The man jumped in the chair, pushing it back several inches as a parched scream greeted the thing moving toward him. “Jesus Fucking Christ!” Were his last words before half the meat of his throat was torn away and the air gasped from him in what would be his final scream.

XPERIMENT  The Novel By Dan Skinner:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B019UUUTY2