The Artist

January 27th, 2014

Artwork by Neil Aschliman

Impressing Marla was like sucking his own dick, something Paulo didn’t really think was possible, but he would keep trying at it until he either broke his neck–or succeeded. Fortunately for Paulo, he was more talented with a welding torch than he was flexible. Who said that glorious day would never come when he would move her?  Today could be the day, he thought with his grease-stained hand wrapped around the cool, brass door knob, but then he wondered if he was just a fool in love. Lost in the moment of hesitation, he let his fingers slip away from the handle and tugged the key loose, courage retreating. His eyes flickered up the length of darkened art gallery corridor, to the paneled ceiling above him, and then to his feet.

“Never mind,” he told her, cursing his chronic self-doubt and the weight of Marla’s eye’s that ultimately forced his own back up.  His heart always fluttered when their eyes met.

I am a cliche.

“I want to see this piece,” she said. “Paulo. I’ve never seen you so excited.”

“I just,” he said, fumbling for the right words. “Your sculptures, they are really amazing.”

“Chicken bones and wire, Paulo,” she said dismissively, “But thank you.”

If you don’t try this now, you won’t have another chance.

The thought paralyzed him and he focused first on her pale hands and then the dark wool skirt that the hands rested upon. He wanted to push that skirt up over her slender thighs–past her delicate hips. Staring, he imagined her hands atop his, guides helping him climb her skin.  When he lifted his eye to her face, he caught her frowning.

“It’s late,” she said, breaking the silence. “Perhaps you could show me some other time. I have to be somewhere soon.”

Because that was the deal with Marla. She was important and always had somewhere to be, unlike Paulo, who never had anywhere to be.  Her rigid posture and her constant glancing at her watch telegraphed her thoughts: I’m better than this. I’m better than him.

Quickly, he stabbed the key back into the lock and twisted hard, acting out of fear that his only opportunity was slipping away.  Much like the moment, his opus wouldn’t last forever.

“It will just take a second,” he said and pushed the door open. “I promise. Just a second.  I want you to see…since you’ve been such an inspiration to me.”

“I’m flattered,” she said, but Paulo didn’t believe her. “That means a lot.”

He stepped into the dark studio trying to not be mad at her for feigning understanding and gratitude.  He didn’t want to be angry with Marla, but was having a difficult time quelling the urge to slap her.  She followed behind him and he took a deep breath, expelling it slowly and the frustration with it. Once she was inside with him, he closed door, submerging the studio into complete darkness.

“What is that smell, Paulo?”

“Just another second,” he said and fumbled on the floor, cursing under his breath until he found the plastic remote.  He pressed the power button.

Beside him, Marla gasped and at the sound Paolo’s sullen features came to life with a rare grin, the smile nearly splitting lips that were chapped from hours of toiling in the wind and rain the night before.

“I…” she spoke but her voice faltered.

He turned and admired her expression, her face frozen in a mask of awe, eyes wide and her mouth a silent ‘o.’  Just as he had always pictured her.

Marla’s lips were a perfect circle.

“The dirt,” he pointed at the piles of brown earth spread across a mattress-sized, illuminated box.”That is the real dirt. I saved some.”

Above the dirt piles, hanging from a black, metal frame that reached to the ceiling was his masterpiece.  The vulture, it’s likeness intentionally crude,  was welded from rusted strips of metal that Paulo had found at a nearby scrap yard. The beast clutched a rotting cadaver in it’s large talons, funeral clothes shredded to soiled rags by Paulo’s own skilled hands.  The body had been so stiff when he’d unearthed it that he had to break bones and sever muscle to create the effect of limp hanging. The work had been overwhelming, but he considered himself lucky for finding a body in the right state of decay on the first try.  He inhaled through his nose, pleased that the smell of his vomit and sweat had all but faded away.

“It’s not real,” Marla said and he took it as complement, self-doubt fading for the first time in his life.  He turned to her, sure their first kiss was imminent, but she was backing away with her hands covering her mouth. Marla was revolted and Paulo struggled to comprehend what was happening, but he could not.

“Your chicken bones inspired me to do this,” he said in a last ditch effort to make her understand, he didn’t want to be angry with her again, but if she didn’t understand… “I call it Dead Scavenge Dead.”

She screamed, the note long and warbling.

Paolo put his hands over his ears.


New Post on–Post Gig Low Down

January 26th, 2014

Post Gig Low Down–Parallel Wine Bistro 1.24.2014–

New post on

January 24th, 2014

Goodbye, Crouton Mountain–fight the fight to get fit on

Starting Over

January 21st, 2014

It’s a devilishly cold January night and I’m listening to the wind howl outside. In the orange glow of the parking lot lamps, the wind throws the snow in all directions. I’m thinking hard while I watch the flakes. Hell, I’ve been thinking hard for months now. And after digging around old podcast files, old stories–items from my imagination scattered about as much as the snow whipping by my window–I’ve come to a final conclusion. I’m starting over. It’s high bloody time. For twelve months, really more than that, I was mired in the shit of existence. 2013 was the longest year of my life.

I survived a divorce.

I learned (mostly) how to live without seeing my girls every day.

But through the pain and sleepless nights, somehow I have discovered how to live again.

I’m back at the beginning in a lot of ways. My subscriber numbers have dwindled from tens of thousands to mere hundreds. My current works are as scattered as my thoughts. All that being said, my drive to create and put something out there for even one person to enjoy is fully renewed. I still have many stories to tell and I know in my heart that people will listen–if even just a few of them. The biggest question for starting over, at least in my case, is where to begin. I have three novels on the shelf and many more short stories. I have an entire Fiction in Five series waiting to be podcasted. I have #MUG. It is as much exhilarating as is intimidating.

The bottom line is that I will make it happen, come hell, high water…or snow. There is no better time than right now. I have all the support in the world to do this and I’m done making excuses. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So stay tuned to Things are going to get lively.

I’m back, people.

Day 2: Walmart of the Future

November 6th, 2012

Could you really imagine a future without Walmart? That was the impetus for an unlikely scene this morning. Walmart and restroom sponge-bathing.  Saucy stuff. I cooked up another batch of words today and getting them onto the page was a little easier than yesterday.  Though, my plan for an early morning start almost backfired. There was some chaos and some near-disappointment.  Bottom line is I just need to wake up thirty minutes earlier.  I’m happy to report that my socks match but I’m not wearing any under wear so it’s pretty much a draw.  I still had enough time to get the words in before the whistle blew. Just barely.  The real problem was–I could have easily kept going.  Now that I’m a day in on the new project, the gears are really spinning.  This is heartening because I didn’t think I’d still be able to make all the wacky connections that us writerly folk make.  There is hope!


New project word count: 1000

Filling the Page

November 5th, 2012

In recent months, I’ve been telling friends and family that I don’t feel like a writer anymore.  A writer writes, after all, that just hasn’t been happening–sorry to say.   Sometimes, life throws us a curve and sometimes that curve ball hits us directly in the face, breaking a cheekbone and sending a few teeth flying to the asphalt. My money-maker has seen better days. Despite the universe’s intentions to slow me down, I have resolved to not give up. To that end, I got up early this morning (thank you time change!) and sat down in front keyboard. I’m not going to lie, it’d been so long since I’d assumed the ‘writer’s pose’ I was a little uncomfortable.  I immediately began to think of ways I cold procrastinate. Was I still hungry? Maybe I needed some caffeine first.  Drop and gimme twenty!  Yeah–I can be clever when it comes to killing time. But then I spoke one simple phrase.

“I *will* write.”  

I had no clear notion of what I was going to write, but just that I had no choice.  I stood at the crossroads of now and never. Never meant giving up and to my core I didn’t want to do that.   Suddenly, my fingers were moving and, there was poor, sweaty Arnie digging his own grave trying to figure out if he was going to be eating dirt or seeing the sun rise again.  The timer was set for thirty minutes–I didn’t want to over-extend myself–and for thirty minutes I wrote.  I wasn’t concerned about plot. I wasn’t concerned about grammar.  It was about filling the page. The end result was a scene that didn’t suck and rediscovery of an almost forgotten feeling of exhilaration.   Bottom line. Even if your cheek is stinging from fate’s left hook,  don’t give up on your passions.  They will ultimately get you through the mess.

My goal here at is daily entries that will chronicle my journey back to being a writer.  It all starts here.

New Project word count: 500.

New headshot

October 25th, 2012

photo credit Shaleigh Comerford.


Live at the Virginia Wine Factory 1.6.2011

January 4th, 2012

A Brief Letter to 2011

December 27th, 2011

2011—you were an interesting year.

You brought good, you brought bad, and you brought a lot in between.  In surviving you, I learned quite a bit.  I learned that I’m a lot more courageous than I ever would have imagined. I learned that the love that surrounds me is genuine.   I made new relationships. I lost a few—some harder to see go than others.  2011–there was thick and there was thin and through it all, I learned what friendship really means.  I learned the true strength of family.

You were a year of creativity. I made huge strides in my music. I wrote some of my best songs while you raged or cooed around me.  I watched my band evolve and grow into something more magnificent than I would have thought possible.   Though I did not make as much fiction writing progress as I would have liked, I still put to paper a handful of short stories and saw the release of my novella (and one of my personal favorites) Eden.  A total wash? Not by any stretch.

2011—your best gift to me was the ever-dazzling miracle of my daughters. You gave me the time to watch them grow, to watch them discover themselves, and ultimately discover the world around them.  I learned that I am a good father, a lucky man, and at times, somewhat of a pushover.

I’m ready to leave you behind, my dear 2011.   Where you were a year of change, I’m now ready for a year of progress and that’s exactly what 2012 is going to be.

-Phil Rossi

EDEN Chart Rush 12.8.2011

December 6th, 2011

EDEN is coming:

The tree is beautiful and they call her Eden. Her branches reach for the stars. But this tree does not sprout from the dirt. Eden fills the sky, high in orbit above the blue expanse of Uranus. Eden changes humanity’s very concept of extraterrestrial life. Dr. Malcolm Green is sent to Eden to audit a science team studying this extraordinary tree from the dark confines of space station Lola. But with unexplainable accidents plaguing the team, tensions are mounting between scientists and custodial staff. From the second he sets foot on Lola, Malcolm’s own future is in jeopardy. He soon finds that love, friendship, and his own mortality tremble like a leaf at the sound of Eden’s call. 

RUSH the charts on Amazon on 12.8.2011

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