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Sunday, July 27, 2014

An open letter to Dr. Brian May, CBE

Just about anyone who knows me also knows that I am a huge Queen fan.  As an American, this is a bit of an oddity.  Ask most Americans and they will tell you the Freddie Mercury was the lead singer, he died of AIDS, and that they wrote "Bohemian Rhapsody."  A few more will also recognize that they wrote "We Will Rock You," "We Are The Champions," "I Want It All," "Somebody to Love," and, if you're lucky, "Another One Bites the Dust."  They'll know plenty of other songs, they just have no idea Queen wrote them.  On the other hand, I listen to their solo albums.  When I went to see them in Chicago a few weeks ago, I was hoping to hear "No One But You (Only the Good die Young)" and "C-lebrity."

Of course, as we were walking outside the concert hall hours before the concert, I walked past a man taking a smoke (who then ducked inside), a man that looked suspiciously like Roger Taylor (drummer/songwriter/vocalist).  I have learned that Brian May (guitarist/songwriter/vocalist) banned smoking from the venues, and that Roger Taylor smokes.  The more I think back on it, the more I realize that I *walked past Roger Taylor* and I did not even say, "Hi!"  Great first impression.

But I'm not here to try to prove my fandom or one-up another Queen fan.  Frankly, I think everyone should listen to more Queen - particularly those of my generation and younger.  I know there are bigger fans than me, and frankly I would love to have some long conversations with them so I can learn more myself.

This all being said, I have longed to write a letter to Brian May.  Every member of Queen was important.  Every member wrote at least one chart-topping song.  Every one had a degree.  But for me, Brian May has become an inspiration.


Dr. Brian May, CBE,

Thank you.  Thank you for the truly divine music.  Thank you for building the Red Special at the age of 17.  Thank you for being an inspiration.  But most of all, thank you for being a role model that is worthy of aspiring to.

One of the reasons I picked up the guitar was so that I could play like you.  The second song I ever learned to play was "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."  My brother wanted me to play it for his wedding along with some other friends.  I learned every part so that I could teach it to them, but, sadly, I was the only one that could play the parts or practiced it.  More recently, I have been teaching myself "Last Horizon."  Sadly, I do not have the time to dedicate to the craft that is necessary to reach a professional level, at least not anytime soon.  But I am still inspired by what you have achieved and use your example to fuel my own passions.

However, what has impressed itself upon me the most is your personal life.  After battling depression, you have gone on to earn your doctorate, record two solo albums and a soundtrack, reform Queen, record a new Queen album, become an activist, play for a variety of artists, and be appointed a CBE (Commander of the most Excellent Order of the British Empire).  You have had mistakes in your past, but you conquered them and have continued to strive to make the best of yourself.  This is what I truly aspire to do.  To be the best person I can be.

I am currently a stay-at-home dad and writer in his 30s with arthritic knees and an expertise in practically nothing.  But I may have 40, 50, 60 years ahead of me.  Arthritis be damned!  I must strive to be the best dad and writer that I can be!  I must be the best husband I can be!  And I must be the best person that I can be, even if I make mistakes from time to time.

So thank you, Doctor.  Thank you for being someone worthy of being looked up to in a time when decent role models are so few and far between.  I hope that my own children can look up to your example as well, or that I can be become such an example to them.

Spencer Hixon

Friday, July 25, 2014

Genetic Ownership

"James was more than a good husband and good father, he was a good man…"  Jacqueline said as she stood in front of the small crowd all dressed in black.  Her smile was serene and empty, as was the smile on everyone's faces.  Everyone's, that is, except for the young woman's in the front row.  The black veil she had one could not hide the pain, the fear, the fits of sobbing that made everyone nervous.
"Sara, shhh!  You can't let them hear you!" said the boy next to her in a hoarse whisper.
"I know…" she whispered back.  "I… can't help it!"  She shrank back and leaned into the boy.
At the pulpit, Jacqueline continued.  "I was so proud of my husband when he spearheaded the Epigenetic Futures initiative, which has changed our world, our way of life."  She looked down at her children with that same serene smile, despite the fact that her daughter continued to sob.
In the back of the church, one of the large doors opened just enough for two men to walk in.  They wore black suits with black ties, but their suits sported an emblem on the arm.  "EFC" was emblazoned across it.  The men remained in the back of the church.  The entire the congregation looked back at them, and there was even a pause in the eulogy, but the interruption was brief.
"Sara, you need to be quiet!"  her brother reiterated.  "They're here!"
Sara clung to her brother's arm tightly.  "I can't…"
"Every hardship in life leads to changes in our epigenetic code, which affects future generations.  With that in mind, we decided to eliminate pain, famine, disease, and even sorrow from our genes.  We wanted to create a happier, healthier society.  We did it for our children."  Jacqueline noticed the men stand up and walk down the aisle towards the sobbing Sara.  She cleared her throat and looked down at Sara.  "So we must be strong, be happy.  We must celebrate James' life and move on."
The men walked right up to the front row.  One of them put his hand on Sara's shoulder, making the girl jump in her seat and let out another sob.
"Wh-what do you want with my sister?" her brother asked.
"This young woman is damaging the future genetic code.  Please let go of her so we can take her in."
He held on tighter to her.
"What is going on?" Jacqueline asked and came down from the pulpit.  "Who are you?  What are you doing with my kids?"
The men turned their attention to the woman.  "EFC, ma'am.  We're here to protect our property."
Although she knew very well what the men meant, she still needed to confirm.  "What do you mean 'your property?'"
"The genetic code, ma'am.  Now please stay out of our way."  The man who was not speaking pulled the boy away from his sister.  Someone in the audience stood up, but he didn't dare move.  Everyone understand what would happen if they interfered.
Despite knowing, Jacqueline moved down from the pulpit.  "No, you can't take Sara!  She just lost her father!  She's only a kid!"  She rushed to defend her daughter, but one of the men got in her way.
"Ma'am, please calm down." he said, but soon the boy was tugging at him as well.  Without a word, he pushed Jacqueline to the ground and picked the struggling boy up.
"Michael!" Jacqueline cried.  In moments, both of her children were being taken away.  But when the men made it to the door, they were greeted by an usher who stepped in their way.  Several other members of the congregation stood up and approached them.
The men found themselves backing away, only to be surrounded by the entire congregation.  The usher, a man who looked like he might be more at home on a motorcycle than in a church, folded his arms over his chest.  "Put the kiddies down."
The agents did as they were told.  One of them put his hand into his jacket, as if to pull for a weapon, but the other stopped him.  "We will be keeping an eye on all of you."  He turned to his partner.  "Come on, let's not make this into a public relations fiasco."  With that, they walked past the usher and left the church.
Jacqueline got off the floor, her face streaming with black tears as the children ran into her arms.  After a moment, she stood up, wiped some of the mascara off her face, and faced the crowd.

"I think it's time we took back our future.  For our children."

Friday, July 18, 2014


"Your turn with the kid, huh?" I asked the young man as he sat on the park bench.  I couldn't really help myself; he looked about my age, didn’t have on a ring, and had the kind of face that would make George Clooney jealous.  Plus, the smile on his face as he watched the kids run around the playground- it was contagious.
"What?  Oh, no.  Every day is my turn.  I'm a stay-at-home parent."  It was one of those questions you realize you never should have asked, but only after the fact.  I'd never felt so embarrassed.  I just wanted to crawl into a shell and hide, but he didn't look offended.  In fact, his smile had turned towards me.
"Oh, oh I'm sorry!  I didn't mean…" I stammered and let my bangs hide my face.  "It's just, I've never seen you at the playground before.  I'm Linda."
He turned his gaze back to the kids, but scooted over on the bench and patted the seat next to him.  "Well, I'm new to the area.  I'm Andre.  I've just been looking for some good places to take my daughter."
The first thing I noticed sitting next to him was how good he smelled.  I could have been imagining it, of course, but something about him just drew me in.  I looked back to my own daughter and waved with a bright smile, then watched as her golden locks bounced with each joyful but awkward toddler step she took.  "So what does your wife do?" I asked.
He leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees.  "Well, my ex-wife doesn't do much.  She's not really in the picture.  I'm just lucky that I can work at home at night."  His gaze turned back to look over at me, even check me out.  The way his eyes lingered made me feel so sexy, so wanted.  It was strange feeling like that here with my kid, but I suppose the Fates never did care about such silly things as circumstances.  "What about you?  What does your husband do?"
"Oh, no, there's no husband.  John died a few years ago."  The moment I said those words, I felt I was opening too much to this stranger.  He was just so easy to talk to that everything I'd been bottling up wanted to flood out.  I had to bite my tongue to keep the tide at bay.
"I'm sorry to hear that."  There was a moment of silence between us,  a moment I wanted to fill, but I let the laughter of children do that for me.  "So how old is yours?"
"Oh, she's about 4."
"Really?  Mine's about that age, too!  Maybe we should arrange a play date some time."
My heart jumped in my chest.  "Um, sure!  I'd like that.  Which one is yours?"
"She's the blond one on the slide there."  He pointed to a kid.  My kid.
"Wh-which one?  Climbing up the back?"
"No, she's just down it now.  She has on the green shirt."  Again, he was pointing to my child, my precious Sara.
"A-are you sure?"
"Oh yes, that's Mary all aright.  Where's yours?" he asked.
"What is this?  Are you trying to take my Sara?"  I was mortified and sprang to my feet to get some distance on him.
"I don't know what you're talking about."  He tried to play the fool, the innocent one, but all the pieces were fitting together.
I put myself between him and the kids.  "Single dad, new to the area, hanging out around playgrounds?  Who are you really?  Stay away from our kids!"  I raised my voice, creating a scene that made all the other mothers raise their faces from their phones and look our way.
"Hey, I don't know what you're getting at.  I came here with my daughter.  I'm not after anyone's kids."  He glanced around nervously, obviously feeling the eyes of all the other mothers bearing down on him.
"If you don't leave now, I'm going to call the cops!"  At this point, even the kids had stopped playing.  I backed up, moving towards Sara.  I couldn't believe I had been attracted to such a predator.
"Mary!  Come here.  I think it's time we leave."  He stood up and started towards the playground, but I made sure to stay in his way.
"Don't you dare!" I called out.
"Andre?  What's wrong?" one of the other mothers asked and stepped towards him.  I didn't recognize her either.
"This woman thinks I'm stalking our kids," he said.
"That's ridiculous."  She turned to me, her heavily made-up face contorting in accusation.  "Who do you think you are?  I invited Andre here because his kid hasn't had a chance to make any friends yet."
I looked around at the other parents.  "I don't believe you.  Did anyone else here see this man come with a girl?"  My heart froze when several mothers stepped forward to join him.
He squatted.  "Mary, come here."  In moments Sara ran to him and threw her arms around his neck so he could lift her.  "See, Linda?  This is not your daughter."
I stepped back and stumbled on part of the playground, falling to my rear on the rubber surface.  "S-Sara?"
Sara looked at me like she didn't know me.  It was the same look she had on her face when John died.  It was a look that had been burned into my heart.  After the flash of lights, the crunch of metal and bone, the screaming, the impact, after the world fell on its head, that was the last look I had seen in her face before I lost consciousness.  Before I lost everything.
"Ma'am?"  It was a woman's voice that roused me.  She knelt next to me in the playground.  "Are you OK?  You were screaming."
I stared at her and then Andre in disbelief.
"Sara… is gone, isn't she?" she asked.
All I could do was throw myself into her arms, sobbing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I'm back!

An unplanned hiatus?!  What is wrong with me?!

Well, it is what it is.  I needed a little break from the blog.  I've been working on my novel, and let me tell you, I am getting such glowing critiques it makes me blush!  We'll see how long those last, though.  This next chapter I'm revising is a tough one and needs a substantial rewrite.

But I did manage to finish a short story.  I'm rather proud of this one!  However, I'm still working on it, and this time I want to look into having some revisions.  So, I'm making a general call out.  Anyone interested in proof-reading a short story?  If so, contact me on facebook.

I don't know if my stories are really any good.  I mean, I get good reviews generally, when I get them, but I rarely win any contests (or even get close, it seems).  It makes me not want to submit to anymore contests, even though I know that I can only win them by joining them.  That being said, I think I am going to try to participate in a few again... free ones this time.