Tag Archives: Writing Prompt

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?

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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.

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