Thursday, June 3, 2010

Carrie Clevenger - You Oughta Know

Austin, Texas, U.S.A.
Blogging at Mindspeak 

You want mysterious?
Look that word up in the dictionary and there's Carrie Clevenger staring back at ya.
She's as mysterious as her stories.
And yet she's as open as a proverbial book. 
As opinionated as an evangelist preacher.
As in your face as any of those rappers I see on TV. You know, before I can get the G.D. clickerbox and turn said TV off.
All I know about Carrie is what Carrie wants to share.
And that is not nearly enough.
Her writing is so damned good that you can't help but want to know her better. Her opinionated tweets make you want to be on her side. 
Her energy is enormous, like a gathering thunderstorm on a baking hot day when ice melts in a moment and you know you're in for a big one.
I'm not afraid to say she intimidates me.
I always feel silly next to her. Mindless. Foolish. Like a girl.
Her backbone must be rigid iron with the strength of her convictions. She seems to be the type of person who would be in the front line of a protest rally. Or the buddy in a bar fight who has your back. Or a soldier whose gun is always loaded, whose mind is sharp, who has the wherewithal to send the screaming enemy back to the bloody hole from whence it sprang.
And yet there is a softness inside her. There has to be. An enormous sensitivity that enables her to be the writer she is.
I can't tell you much about Carrie.
I wish I could.
I can only say this - Carrie Clevenger writes plenty good.

Damned Nazis
by Carrie Clevenger

That old devil moon peered over my shoulder as I leaned back against my bird, reading a naughty rag in the milky glow. I picked up smoking from the boys in England, got a tattoo visiting some old Red-light district down in Singapore and worked on not being a square.

Andy became Andrew Callahan, and I landed behind the controls of that sweet Grace, my Wildcat P-40. We bonded over whiskey sours and sweet serenades by Ella and Doris. Dean and Frankie drifted over her wings and I dozed lightly, careful not to line my cheek with marks from her rivets. The Staff Sergeant often came in and chided me soundly for staying in there with her. She didn't want to be alone, I told him. He smirked and told me to get my ass to bed.

I did just that one night and hardly put out the light in the shared bathroom when I heard sirens. Air-strike sirens. I rushed out in a towel to a flurry of activity: America's boys, all in various stages of undress and disorientation fluttered around, hollering like it was Blitzkrieg outside. Far as I knew, it could've been.

I dove onto my bunk and tore my uniform from the locker, throwing it on like automatic. We became an assembly line, handing out M1s and everybody shouting orders 'til the Staff Sergeant came in and made the orders for us.

“Gentlemen! We are under fire, and it is unknown what side they are on. I want each and every one of you to arm yourself and take them out as quickly and cleanly as possible, do you understand?”

A unanimous shout of “Yes sir!” answered him and he saluted smartly and disappeared.

Plastic Man, my bunkmate, named for his kooky way of sitting in Mess Hall, shouldered up to me.

“You think we're gonna die?” His Creole accent shined through clearly in his fright. His doe-dark eyes were wide and then the lights went out, leaving me looking into those big googly things like he was my girl and we were parked. I rolled back from him.

A volley of shots erupted outside the high windows of the barracks and every one of us hit the floor, doing that slow crawl along the baseboards, one after another, like a big ol snake to reach the screen door that stood open in the wake of the Staff Sergeant's visit.

The sharp crack of anti-aircraft artillery. We thought better of going Out There, where it wasn't safe, but for all we knew, this whole roof would come down on our heads. I cursed and grabbed the doorsill, pulling to my feet, the whole squadron following my example.

The shots were dying down, and overheard was a criss-crossed network of planes, the stiff spotlights illuminating that broken cross on the underwing.

Flares stunned the wounded sky into semi-light long enough to see the big-creeping black zeppelin maneuvering into position.

“What are they doing with a frikin' zeppelin?”

His surprise was justified. The last zeppelin was supposed to be straight-up dismantled back five-six years ago, yet here it was, silent except for the little propellers.

“Shoot it down!” The shouts echoed throughout the camp, and I glanced skyward. It was fishy—this big, slow thing overhead and how in nine hells did it pass under radar?

The Embargo. No. “No,” I said, under my breath then ran towards the line where shells were being loaded again. The twin barrels wheeled around to face the cloud-obscuring damn thing and then, it was all over.


The massive quake of explosion shook the sky, the ground, and took out half the boys around me. I scrambled under a Jeep, backwards, like a rabbit. Dazed, I watched the landscape change from past taps to bed to a field of fire. The hydrogen in the big blimp ignited, and rained fire as the screeching-deflating balloon came crashing to the ground.

Plastic Man scurried past me, and I reached out, calling to him, but he couldn't hear. Half his face was gone. I blinked in momentary confusion, and then I saw them.

They were men. Were. Whatever era they'd been human was now over before that shuffling gait like a broken-legged dog wasn't right. Wasn't normal, as far as I could see. They fell out on the field like cockroaches, some dressed in tatters, uniforms aflame from the big attack just moments before.

They spread out, shoulders lopsided, arms dangling and attacked our boys, the ones left over. Snarling and tearing. I heard it all. I clutched my helmet and said a little prayer before grabbing my M1 to join in the fight.

The dead lay scattered and torn, leaving me looking for signs of life in faces I'd grown to care for. I called for Skip and Plastic Man and feared making any more sound. The strange soldiers dropped off by the Nazis were ambling up the hill, towards the barracks—and me.

I fell back behind a line of trucks discarded by the blast; some on their sides. A dirty boy dropped in next to me, and I caught my breath. It was Skip.

“Where are the others?” I shouted over the hellish din.

“Dead, sir,” he said, nursing his wounded arm. In the dark, I couldn't see what'd happened to it. Or him.

“What in the hell are those things?” I asked, and faced Skip, his eyes big as an owl's in the fires of the wreckage.

“Zombies, sir,” he answered solemnly. I frowned. “Zombies?”

Skip pulled a worn comic book from his back pocket, replete with poorly-inked images of walking corpses, arms outstretched, their eyes red and calling for brains in a vicious bestial snarl.

“Those are funnies, Skip,” I snapped back, but I compared the images with the real-life scene set before us, and they weren't a damn bit funny.

“Keep it,” Skip said, “And shoot them square between the eyes. You gotta destroy the brain.”

He rose slowly, and I caught a full view of his face: sallow and lined, his eyes bloodshot as hell. The injured arm he was cradling flashed into stark-reality as he put the pistol to his head.

“Better step back,” he said in a strange voice as he looked down at me. “Don't wanna get any on ya.”

“What are you doing?!” I jumped up to stop him from putting standard-issue ammunition in his skull, but he pulled the trigger. My ascent turned sideways and I twisted out of the fallout-range of his splattered brains, crawling in the grass like big maggots, seeking something else to cling to.

I glanced at the comic book he gave me, the face of a zombie printed in pink and gray leering at me from the cover. It'd become a survival manual.

Thanks, Carrie.
This one's for you because Alanis Morrisette reminds me of you in so many ways. You look like her and you have her same ballsy take-no-prisoners attitude. This song was my anthem when my husband destroyed our marriage. I used to scream it at the top of my lungs, over and over; it was my confidante, my therapist, my best friend.
This is definitely a dish best served loud.


  1. This was an incredibly touching tribute. I don't deserve such praise. [blush]

  2. Great tribute to Carrie. Loved it and what a piece, Ms. Carrie. A genuine ode to Americana and I love your twisted take on the war. Diggin' your style more and more.

  3. wonderful. I don't know you as well as cathy, but a lot of what she wrote about you seems bang on the mark.

    Keep inspiring us all

    marc nash

  4. At first I thought the tribute was the story written by Carrie! And I thought, Wow, true, but how self-serving. Dur.

    This is a head-long rush of a war story. Really well done.

  5. Great story, great tribute, great song. Peace...

  6. Terrific story, Carrie, and a great write-up, as well.

  7. For not knowing Carrie, you nailed her (at least the Carrie I notice too).

    Carrie, you always take a story and turn it inside out then spin it a few times and it surprises me and makes me smile, even if I get covered in visceral goo. Very glad I stopped by today.

  8. Awesome story, Carrie! You take an idea, twist it this way and that, and hand it back wrapped in a writer-ly package that captivates...and inspires!

    Cathy, loved your intro to Carrie, and the song!

  9. Carrie's an excellent writer! Great story.

    Thanks Cathy for posting this.

  10. Zombies used as zombie weapons. Now that's got to be the definition of evil.

    Really cool story! I really liked the comic book tie in.

  11. oops. that should read
    Zombies used as Nazi weapons.

  12. Thanks everyone. You've all made me smile today. Marisa - I see a reference in there somewhere. Can't imagine WHO, lol.

    Also, would like to introduce Gary Corby, a friend in Australia who is going to be the next big thing. Check him out at

    Still, you guys are great. This feels like a birthday party. I'm quite surprised. <3

  13. Carrie does seem larger than her writing and her tweets. Definitely a gal I'd want on my side in any battle! (Especially one with Zombies!) Love the story, love Carrie!

    And well said, Cathy :-)

  14. Well, I'm a bit late to the party, but so glad I didn't miss it completely. Great tribute, Cathy.

    And wow, what a great story, Carrie. I love Andrew's voice and the sheer horror of the piece. Just when you think war couldn't get any worse...

    Excellent as always.

  15. Beautiful tribute, Cathy. You've said it all for us. We want more Carrie!

    (Carrie amazing story)

  16. Awesome story Carrie, as if there were ever a doubt. And a fitting tribute to an amazing writer.

  17. OMG Carrie is a force of nature, always slipping in the half step to the odd side making her writes intriguing and beguiling. Great expose and fine tale from C2 as usual!

  18. The praise is absolutely deserved, Carrie. This is a dead on tribute. Your writing is tight and you are super cool. Someday, I want to go on a road trip with you.

  19. Fantastic story, Carrie. Great descriptions and excellent voice from the narator.

  20. Carrie: some excellent details in this piece. The last two paragraphs especially pack a wallop.

    Cathy: The thunderstorm comparison is very cool. No one has mentioned the image. Did you make it melt like that? Her hair reminds me of the oil in the gulf, which, from a certain point of view is actually beautiful. Since Carrie writes so much about the horrors of life it's somehow fitting.

  21. Mark - yeah, I did some photoshop painting on Carrie, thanks for mentioning it. I loves me some photoshop. I actually "liquified" it, trying to make Carrie's already dramatic pix more so.
    Thanks to everybody for dropping by. Makes me happy and Carrie, too.

  22. Great tribute, Cathy and I am wild about Carrie's writing. I believe she spent her last life as a man in WWII because she channels him so well!

  23. I forgot to mention that I love what you did to Carrie's photo. It's awesome!

  24. You guys are like family to me now. I love you.

  25. The foreshadowing with the zeppelin was great, and then the zombies... Nicely done!


  26. "We bonded over whiskey sours and sweet serenades by Ella and Doris. Dean and Frankie drifted over her wings ... " Yowza Carrie -- you always take us right into a time zone and then when the music and the proper booze is washin' over you zombie and zing and zeppelin our skies'eyes with true message you're creating ... and how prolifically you create!

    I'm in the back seat of that Thelma & Louise car with you and Pamila asking about radio station switches and knowin' with the two of you we're always "There" yet.

    Hello and welcome Gary who I'll be huntin' up the more ...

    Cathy! So glad you sang your song loud at the time you needed to - What a superb homage your opener and humble warm closing bookended around our Carrie. You nailed so many ways of the knowing of her prismatic ways - ah, the buddy in the bar-fight? You ever shoot pool with this classy cool-take-no-crap lass? But your liquidization of the photo is the ONLY presentation Ms Clevenger should be putting out there from now on. Brilliant and Brava both of you classy dames. ~ Absolutely*Kate

  27. Oh you did a great job capturing Carrie for us Cathy! Loved Carrie's story too!

  28. War is hell, and Carrie yanked us by the arms and carried us right down to its flaming bowels. Great job, Carrie, and great intro, Cathy.

  29. Great story and a well deserved tribute.

  30. Ah, you have wonderful taste....her stuff is visiting her blog.


  31. Wow! Wonderful tribute and great story. Carrie, yes you do deserve it, every word. Your blog is a constant source of inspiration and wonderment to me how your writing can be THAT good ALL of the time. :D

  32. You guys are so, so nice to me. Thanks for your support, love, and kindness.

  33. Carrie, I have to say you and Cathy make a great team. I love your writing and Cathy's gusto.

  34. Half his face was gone. I blinked in momentary confusion, and then I saw them.

    This had me in tears.

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    This κind of clever work and reporting!
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