John Kingston

John Kingston resides in Seattle, Washington. His novel, The Portraits of Gods, was released in January 2015 by Anaphora Literary Press.

Apr 202014
Mug Shot

The author as “Corey Brown”

Without even trying, I tend to be attracted to literary and film characters that, like me, share a nihilistic view of life and morality. Pretty ironic, given the fact that my day job requires me to uphold and enforce laws enacted from a bunch of handed-down, subjective truths. Perhaps it’s a bit of the Preacher’s Kid Syndrome in me, but there’s a part of me that envies those pesky trickster figures that get everyone all up in a twitter. You need ‘em to challenge the status quo; to point out the ideological hypocrisies of personal values. But above all, they’re just a heck of a lot more interesting to have around.

Back in my undercover days, I had one of the most succinct, albeit brief, conversations about this very topic with the unlikeliest of persons: a coke addict. For the past month, I’d been meeting “Ken” (not his real name) in his sad, flat apartment where, beneath the seizure-inducing flicker of a dying fluorescent light, I’d hand him $160 in exchange for an 8-ball of cocaine. Quick and simple. In-and-out. Continue reading »

Mar 242014

writers-blockWhile in the throes of my most recent bout of writer’s block, I made the following observations:

  1. Dee Wallace is disproportionately represented in the number of movies we keep on hand at our vacation cabin.
  2. I have a difficult time wrapping up conversations.
  3. Every time I go shopping in a department store I become irrationally paranoid that people think I’m there to shoplift.

On the surface these things may seem unrelated to the condition of writer’s block, but upon further scrutiny, it would appear as if, somewhere along the way, my psyche might have gotten short-changed on balls. Continue reading »

Mar 032014

manuscript_250px_2Six years…and that’s not counting the revisions. Entire residential subdivisions have sprung up around you in less time. New sections of interstate have been constructed. National monuments refaced. Six years ago, you helped elect a new President and have since come to regret it. Six years ago you had no children. Now, you have two. In six years, the few wily strands of gray hair you once had have spread across your head like tundra. Dictators have been deposed. Big-name celebrities have died. And all along, you’ve sat right there at that chair, staring out past the blinking cursor of your computer screen through a window as the seasons have paraded past. Continue reading »

Feb 192014




The man sitting across the aisle from me openly peruses a Penthouse, which, for some reason, no one seems to take note of but me. I’m cradling a coffee and watching the day gather in the east. The image of my face appears in the window, ghostlike against the blur of the rolling landscape. Every so often another train will pass in the opposite direction; the indistinct faces of other passengers flashing quickly before me like grainy celluloid images. People with identities and dreams and triumphs and losses and stories all their own who’ll appear before me in a flash then vanish forever, as I to them. Continue reading »

Feb 102014

Flamenco PaintingThe middle-aged woman with the raccoon mascara sidles closer. Dragging from a slender cigarette, she mentions casually that she was the inspiration for Gretchen. “You know,” she says with a dusky voice that pierces the smoke in this place, “…James Michener?” She says she likes the way I play the piano before remarking on my accent. “You’re American.”

I counter that I’m Canadian.

“Oh, you sound like an American.” Continue reading »

Jan 242014

chuck-norris-uzisI must have been around ten when my amazing ability to withstand a human punch first surfaced. I’d been walking home from school when I passed a group of older kids shooting hoops in the park. Looking back, I can see how my appearance might have chummed the waters just a tad. Tight, noisy, friction-generating corduroy pants, Michael Jackson Thriller jacket, and wearing one of those skinny leather ties from Chess King. I also had a sweet, prepubescent obliviousness to the way my hair looked; pot roast-brown and sculpted into a lush helmet[1]. I must have sensed trouble for when I glanced back I saw them all huddled together. Mumbling. Conspiring. Home was a block away; I could make out the slope of our hill from where I stood. But just as I began to pick up the pace, one of the kids—a lanky, olive-skinned kid with pimples like smashed cherries—shouted the classic line that for eons all creatures great and small have uttered as a segue to a butt-stomping: Continue reading »

Jan 132014

DSC_0056To know in a way mortality could never award how rhythmic and intertwined the dance of night and day was. To know the Darwinistic injustice of a jay-raided nest and hear the first hymn of autumn as it roared across the valley and cry in happy sadness with the stars at night. If some period of servitude was required from all who die, and if the grand design required one to ache from the sting of life’s missteps, then let it happen here. For every meadow was its own village, every weed and sprig its own prefecture.                      

                                  –The Portraits of Gods (excerpt)

Emerging from a week spent alone in the solitude of our cabin is like stepping out from a dark theater into the bright day. Traffic lights blare like neon. Storefront windows reflect the sun like a thousand mirrors. The people on the street glance at you in passing as if sensing your struggle to readjust. When I stop for fuel, I make idle chatter with the guy at the pump next to mine and my voice sounds tinny from its underuse.

In solitude, you see life through a different filter. It’s the catalyst for creativity. Everything is stripped down. Empirical. Shedding the fear of being judged, the taint of seeking acceptance, you get to be yourself; so much so that you feel almost fraudulent when you consider the person you are when you’re with others.

There’s a transformation that takes over when I’m alone. The funny, self-deprecating guy you might encounter in social gatherings is gone, replaced by a man whom I suspect—and hope—is my essential self. Genuine. Calm. Perceptive to every nuance of my existence. Accepting in knowing that everything I see will outlast me.

Campfires by night. Hiking by day. Sitting out in a golden meadow where dragonflies dip and rise over the reeds in a summer dance. Clothing-optional dips in our lake. The truth is, I’m a better man—and writer—because of it. For as long as you don’t equate periods of being alone with sadness, the inner peace you feel from a bit of solitude makes you realize that in life, there is nothing more to wish for.

Dec 052013

If you’ve ever spent time in a morgue—and let’s face it, we all will some day—then you’ll remark on just how spic-and-span everything looks. Scrubbed, ivory-colored, tiled walls and gleaming linoleum. Shiny stainless steel pans and scales hanging everywhere you look. Ultraviolet bug lights making periodic ZAP sounds beneath the soft hiss of constantly flowing positive air. And then there’s the VIP seat. Continue reading »

Dec 022013

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI was willing to ignore the phantom reek of rotted yams and insecticide that I had narrowed down to the kitchen cabinets. And those jokers from the halfway house next door weren’t so bad once you got to know ’em. Located along Flint’s Second Street, nestled comfily at downtown’s outskirts between such wholesome-sounding streets as Chase and Asylum, I had found a place to call my very own. I was 18…and, so far, I was liking it. Continue reading »

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