Tag Archives: fiction

From a Project (9/7/13)

From a short story in progress (Crude pre first draft, reader is warnedl):

There was something cold in his touch. I felt death in his grip, and whether it was just the cold creek water rushing by or the final fading moments of his heartbeats friction, I couldn’t tell, but there was no warmth to be found in the man. I thought all this in the flash of a lightning bolt, as my eyes frizzled up like a furious photograph being taken, and I looked on the black and white negative of the storm water before me. Where in God’s name had this poor bastard come from?
The lightning was gone, I was blind, and only the thunderous roar of the chocolate milk colored water was my reality. He was flying by, the rapids taking him, the river some two or three miles down the way was hungry. I acted on a cocktail of reaction and instinct as I yanked backward, trying to free the man from the grasp of the creek. I felt him spin around in liquid fluidity, closer to me, close enough to think I had him, to think I was winning. I dragged him up the sandy little pull off at the edge of the drive just below the big orange outside light and electric pole, the transformer buzzing all the way to the ground. I fell back, planted my feet on the loose ground, dug my ass in, and yanked with all the strength I had.
It did so little good. I had him, but the trouble was, he woke up or came to a fright and all of a sudden he had me. There are few things more dangerous than a cornered animal, in fear for its life. And that’s all any of us amount to in the end, cornered animals, all of us in some level of realization to our own grand demise. He gripped my hand hard then, only the coldness remained, but the death was still in question. He yanked back all of a sudden, I thought then it was fright but in the days after I wondered about that.
By ass started scooting, my feet lost their grip and before I knew it I was sliding toward the raging water. I felt my heart tumble like a fallen gymnast, all in ugly slow motion, first it was excited, and then it was free falling, and now it was hitting the hard floor of my stomach and leaving me in the grips of an ugly nausea and horror. I was heading for the goddamned water and heading fast. I remember thinking, the whole time, my family won’t even know I’m gone for God knows how long. Rachel is in there right now, scared shitless and rounding the kids up, not even thinking I’d be so damned dumb as to get close to this water but here I am, and heading straight for it.

Advertisements

The Hanging

The young man gazed into the eyes of the condemned man standing on the back of the wagon, hands tied behind his back, his sagging gut hanging over his black belt, his beard grandfatherly—black with splotches of white, and though not very long, it was thick and heavy. The young man looked earnestly into the condemned man’s eyes, wondering if he truly had it within himself to go through with what was about to take place before him.

Two other men climbed up on the wagon beside the condemned man, one was holding the long noose end of the rope that had already been secured to a high branch in the tree that might have been pretty in a different setting. The other man had some cloth he was wrapping around the prisoner’s neck—comforting the dying.

The young man thought for some long moments, what must it feel like to be there, in that other one’s position? Hands behind your back, the fast pace of your heart racing to its final great rhythms, it’s sad sad song a funeral march to the solution of the greatest mystery in humanity: what comes after? What strength did it take in a man to not buck, to not resist, to not break free and run as far and fast as one could when standing in such a position as the big man before him. How was it he didn’t look more frightened? Especially if he were guilty of even half of which the others had claimed.

The young man looked about the crowd he was standing in. He considered their faces, who they were when they weren’t executioners, and practitioners of death? He saw John Clemmens, the saddleback doctor that went around to at least three counties in rain, shine, or snow, and was happy to be paid in a hot meal. Standing not far from him was the motherly Sunday school teacher Marion Rutless, or Mrs. Rutless as so many in the community had known her—she had always been the surest figure of posterity, regality, and Christianity before. And yet here she was, in the death mob. Across the way, just opposite where the young man stood, were more faces, prominent figures, good men, good women, and even some children.

At their epicenter the death roll was drumming down. There was a hushed silence to the crowd, it was heavy, making its own darker atmosphere that contrasted the grey but happy day they stood in. Cold air cut through their mass, making more than a few hands grip shoulders, rub vigorously, or to just stand mule strong and shiver. It was really about to happen, the young man thought. They were really going to go through with it.

He watched, not helping himself, gazing deep into those brown eyes of the condemned wondering what secrets they held. Yet he was afraid to look for too long, what if the man’s essence, the man’s evil (if what they said were true), or some other piece or part of the man’s being stuck to the young man once the wagon was rolled away and he was left to kick? What if corruption of soul was a contagion worse than fevers, chills, or other such sicknesses?

“Our father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name…” the condemned man began to pray.

“To hell with you! Should’a been praying long time ago!” one of the onlookers said. He shook his fist and spat brown tobacco on the ugly dirt at his worn out boots.

“…thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” the condemned man prayed.

Mrs. Rutless looked down, her head slowly, methodically, ticked like a shaky handed time piece. She was having some internal conflict for what everyone in the crowd knew was at their doorstep. Some leaned in, their eyes hungry for the lust of death and snuffing out of life, others leaned back, eyes wide, shock filled, unsure.

“Fess your sins before your community, and God a’mighty?” one of the men standing at the side of the condemned man’s sides asked.

“I do not fear death, I am too great for death, too great for all of you,” The prisoner said, his great belly shaking as he made his bold claims, and once his eyes quivered with nervous uncertainty. “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”

The two men at the prisoner’s side had hopped down off the wagon and went to the horse at its front.

“…I shall fear…”

One of the men slapped the horse hard and yelled, it took off with a damning speed. The wagon rolled out beneath the prisoner’s feet, throwing him off balance and leaving him with a great drop. For one long horrible drawn out moment he hung frozen in the air, an angel in heaven just prior to rebellion and being cast out. And then he plummeted in sickly sweet fluidity until the rope caught, gave a jerk and yanked him just slightly back up. There was a devilish snapping sound that went through the cold steadfast crowd.

The young man had never turned away. He felt sick with himself for being in the audience, for standing still watching, for saying nothing, doing nothing. Where once a man stood, now there was only the reminder of a life that had been, swinging from the tree like a twisted Christmas ornament in Hell. The prisoner was unnaturally still, no feet kicking, no hint of life, not even when the rope gave way and broke.

The crowd gasped and stepped back. The great man lay lifeless at the foot of the little hill beside the tree.

“Leave ‘em be,” said one of the men that had been on the wagon before. “If he still got life, let it leak out of him slow. Maybe there’ll be some justice in his suffering here before them Hell fires take his rotten soul.”

“Amen,” someone said in the crowd.

They stood together as one body, one group for long moments, simply watching. The air thick and heavy with what they had done. Death clung to each of them in a black tarry presence that was not physical and yet was completely undeniable. They stood together even as the day grew colder and a great snow started to fall.

Finally they broke, not all at once, but one at a time, and scattered back to the lives they had put on hold to see to the death of the one that had sinned against their community. Life would go on, or so the many in that crowd had thought.


Modeling Monday – Write like Steinbeck

Not even a full mile down the road, maybe a smidge more, the Kentucky river rolls through a low laying flood plain. When it’s the summer the fields there are wild and untamed, a happy lively wild place, a garden for the animals to come and eat. But there are other times when the river runs a deep ugly brown, painting the air with a muddy scent, and roaring its mighty voice as the damn is overtaken and the waters rage on. At first the water stays in its domain, the banks holding the brown majesty of the flood to its confines, but soon enough the water spills over and fills the little valley with a hungry need for expansion. When I was a boy, there were two old houses in the valley, never lived in, not for times longer than my short life can remember have those houses seen real habitation. But for those of us that lived near the river, we’d go to the high place the road took you and look down on that valley and measure the rising river’s fury against how far the waters had risen against the house. One time, I saw the waters go so high as the roof.

We were somewhat fortunate where I grew up, the river was far enough away to never reach us, and the hills provided a safety net enough to guarantee the water there would never come so far. Fortunate enough, which is not the same as saying I never saw a flood around the house. I saw several when the little creek that wound out behind and below my family home could take no more rain. Sometimes the bridge up the road would get clogged with debris. The water would back up and finally push over top and come down the road, which was a terrifying sight. Or, the water would simply rise and rise and soon enough poor over the rock fence out back and fill the yard. Flash floods are speedy demons, sometimes giving very little warning, and in no time, a family can be completely shut off from all the civilized world beyond, left looking to one another wondering, will this be the one to take our little home?


Just a lil fragment from a work in progress

The old beat up car ran down the sun drenched double lane highway at nearly 80 mph. On one side of the lonesome and hellish hot road was a long line of prisoners chained to one another, pick axes in hand, chiseling away at a nowhere job given to them by the decree of one judge or another. Jake tried not to look at them, and it was getting easier to do so with each passing year that Old Duke Henderson had taken the reign of his big war horse he called, “Order in the midst of chaos.”
What Jake wouldn’t be able to ignore were the telephone poles coming up, once upon a time the only messages they carried were on their wires. Now, their messages were darker, bloodier, and carried in the bounded pierced and beaten bodies of whatever unlucky soul got more than a chain gang punishment. This was the way of the world, and the reason Jake who once preached tolerance and kindness to many, now packed a forty five and a never ending thirst for whiskey. 


On the Run

Bonnie and Clyde infront a Ford V-8 Català: Bo...

Bonnie and Clyde (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An Exercise:

(Scene)

Jake sat on the couch, listening to Annette finish with the other man upstairs. He looked at the tattered frayed arms of the couch, then he played with the off centered little button barely hanging on. That was him, wasn’t it, he thought, barely hanging on. The same hand that played with the button was the same hand that wore the ring, the promise, the lie.

Annette came to a finish and not long after Jake heard a door open upstairs. The quiet, satisfied footsteps of his wife came pattering on the creaking boards toward the steps. She stopped a while, and then continued. Soon he could see her figure descending the stairs. She looked at him, and though she looked amused, she never smiled. Her eyes were a wrestling match of beauty and contempt as they bore in on him.

“I’m gonna kill that sumbitch,” Jake said.

“You couldn’t kill a half dead cockroach Jake,” Annette said, walking toward him, “let alone a stone built outhouse like that man upstairs.”

Jake pulled the snub nose from his pocket and toyed with it. Annette looked at it, and again gave the half cocked amused look Jake had fallen for.

“I’m gonna kill him, and then,” he couldn’t bring himself to say it.

“And then?” Annette asked, sitting in the old warn out chair across from the couch. She lit a smoke and held it like someone of fashion and class. Jake thought she had neither.

“And then I’m gonna burn this no good shack down and we can get going with our lives.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you,” she said.

“What?” Jake asked. His jaw threatened to swing loose at its hinge, as a roaring nausea threatened to swell in his stomach.

“You couldn’t pull the trigger back there Jakey, what makes you think you could now?” she said, she took a long draw on her cigarette and then, “we might’ve been caught if it weren’t for Sam stepping in.”

“Sam,” Jake said, and then he grimaced, “What’s Sam ever really done for you? For us?”

“He got me off three times for starts,” Annette said. Jake’s eye twitched, she saw, and then she finally did grin. “The third one was weak, don’t feel so bad, but the first two were out of this world.”

“Is that all that counts? Him making you happy? We’re married for Christ’s sake!”

“We’re crooks Jakey, outlaws like Bonnie and fucking Clyde. We don’t play by rules anymore,” she said, finishing her smoke going for another.

“We were just bank robbers till Sam came into the picture,” Jake said, finally laying down the gun beside him. “We can still have a life.”

“WE don’t have anything Jake, you’re just a farmer’s son with an imagination,” she said, “but Sam is real. He’s got what it takes to give me what I need. You, you’re just the one I had to marry to get out of momma and daddy’s house. Don’t you get that?”

“I’m gonna kill that sumbitch,” Jake said, his eye twitching again.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Road Trip to Hell and (Hopefully) Back!

Español: Paisaje desolador, muestra de la orog...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In June I’m going on a trip. The place is a somewhat distant and hazy land of both joy, and sorrow. I’m more than excited to ride the rides, take a few pictures, buy a few drinks and see the sights. I’ve heard from others that have been there (some having made a career of travelling to and from that place) that it can be quite a lovely location. From others I’ve heard to pack military grade survival gear. Though I’m sure many of the crowd would advise against taking any assault weapons, this place can be dangerous, but mostly because we bring the danger there our self and not so much because it is a dangerous place.

So just where the hell am I going?

To the land of novel writing. Head to forehand. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there before, I’ve seen the sights, taken the pictures, bought the farm, grew a crop, and thought myself hot shit as I walked those streets. I’ve written a few novels in fact. Each novel from the days of long ago, are still at some degree of shit, and carefully hidden away in one metaphorical trunk or another (however one is floating about the net, immortal and deformed for all the world to see).

What’s worse about this trip? I plan to see as much as I can in a single month. That’s right, a novel in a month. Like Christmas in July, there’s now a novel writing challenge in June, I happened upon it by mistake. Junowrimo was a chance discovery of mine, the rules are simple enough, the challenge clear, the call to action haunting.

You see, recently I posted on here a short bit of practice called “Into Hades” it seems to be my most popular piece. I probably shouldn’t have posted it because it’s too close to the novel I intend to write. Oh well. At the time of playing around with that scene I wasn’t in the least thinking about the novel in the back of my mind, I was just having fun, painting images, watching the movie in my head. After I finished it, I leaned back and felt the full weight of what I’d done. I had breathed life into the skeletal remains of an old story begging to be

reborn.

And so, here I am now, with an old story itching to come to surface, begging to be written anew. That combined with my chance encounter with Junowrimo has pushed me to the precipice of my own personal abyss. I plan to take a dive and grow wings on the way down, if none will come, hey, I hear the abyss is pretty deep so I should have time to say a few things along the way, right?

Wrapping this semi rant all up, what’s this have to do with Haunted Axiom? Well, as I journey along the path TO the writing month ahead, I have every intention to explore some preparation issues related to novel writing. I want very badly (for myself as much as for my readers) to share some tips I’ve picked up, lessons I’ve learned, exercises I’m doing to stretch the old limbs, and whatever else comes to mind that may help us.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Old man at the Bar (Exercise)

Exercise:

Use a place with a group of people to observe. Write a single scene inspired by this group. Bring them to life, and imagine out the details.

 

Old man at the Bar

He stood in the corner of the room, blanketed in equal measures of shadow and mystery. His ball cap hid an old fat pair of fluffy black headphones from easy view. In one hand he held a mug bigger than his knobbed and worn down hand looked able to hold. In his other hand he held a nearly empty pitcher of cheap yellow beer with all the foam threatening to dry up. He stood statue still, transfixed perhaps by all the youth that surrounded him.

The birthday girls and soon to be bride walked by him with a wrinkled nose. It wasn’t clear if they did this because of a smell they both detected coming off the man—he didn’t look very clean despite his perfectly ironed clothing, all bright and free from visible dirt or stain. They giggled to each other and darted furtive glances back at the odd man, saying all they needed about how highly they valued his worth as a person from their damning cold glances.

The man by the jukebox didn’t seem to mind. His eyes rolled about in a slow methodical way. Each young face fell under his ancient gaze at least once or twice as his hands went about the busy work of refilling his mug. The statue still persona of the old man broke up for a few good drinks of his warming beer. Beer fuzz stuck to his chin and upper lip before popping away, leaving only a thin line of drool behind as testament to their existence. His eyes remained ever watchful. The young people that surrounded him on all sides hummed with a bee like electricity, charged up and primed, and giving off a sneaky aura of threat as though they were always ready to sting and hurt.

Three rowdy looking young men came in the door of the bar, talking loudly about all the wonders of their young and ignorant lives. The odd man lowered his mug and let his eyes roll to them. He sized them up and in his fastest move yet, he looked away. His head followed his eyes and with more speed than one could guess the old man capable of pulling off, he walked with rat like worry and speed to the opposite side of the bar, far away from where he had been, and even farther from the door and the young men walking in.

He was just in time leaving too. The three young men who had came in didn’t bother with ordering their brew first—their smell and loud way of carrying themselves suggested they’d already had their share and more. The young men headed straight for the jukebox and fumbled with change along the way. The clang of coins on solid oak floorboards was barely detectable, but two eyes followed the glint of light each fat quarter and paper thin dime caught as they fell to the floor. Each coin reminded the old man of shooting stars, and wishes that had never bothered coming true.

Loud songs came out of the jukebox not long after the young men made their selections and headed to the long skinny bar. They walked up, tried to out order each other, as if the liquor they ordered gave proof to their being more manly than the other. Old eyes watched them from the corner, sizing them up, putting each careful tick of their drunken idiot movement away to some special part of a long and well worn memory.

The music became deafening, screaming out ugly anthems of new generations and the old man found his own headphones almost inadequate to compete with it. He twirled the dial on his old walkman and cranked good old Hank Williams as high as he could. The old man grinned a little possum grin as he found himself slipping away to a long ago youth he himself once had, and a girl with blue eyes and the prettiest blonde locks he’d ever seen. They’d danced often to this very tune, using the loneliness of the music as justification to cling tighter than ever to one another. But summers pass away, and golden locks turn gray, blue eyes dim to ugly ashen familiarity and they too soon vanish from the earth. The old man’s grin slipped off his face, giving birth instead to a slight tremor in one hand a big plop of tear down one cheek.

He made one fatal error. He closed his eyes and lowered his guard. Just one moment is all it took. But in life, chaos only requires a single unwatched moment to slip in and bring hell with it.


%d bloggers like this: