My Words, My World

First drafts – A few pages in the large wilderness of the world of writing

Archive for the tag “Violence”

The end of his tether

He’d often wondered about his tether and the end of it.  Until he picked up a dictionary only a week before he hadn’t known what a tether even was.  Now he knew and now he thought he’d reached the end of it.

He was glad it was winter.   He didn’t mind the cold and the snow and, in happier times, he’d always been an enthusiastic skier.  In happier times.  Yes, he thought, he didn’t mind the winter with its snowy peaks, white crystal frosted fields and the smell of mulled wine in the market square and steaming paper cups warming hands in the cold.

He looked out of a window to the outhouse.  The cold.  The cold was good.  It killed off many of the pests that hung around in warmer climates or even down in the valley, although now other pests had found him and disturbed his peace.  Footprints and a strange indent in the snow crossed the yard, as if a sack of firewood had been dragged.  Yes, he’d reached the end of his tether, and the bodies mounted up in the outhouse.

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I’ll just close my eyes a while

Ah, at last.  I’ve finally written something fictional, it seems ages since the last one.  Thanks to Morgen Bailey and her Story Writing Exercises I found myself writing this at half past midnight, using the keywords:  need, leave, Nebraska, pick, song.  I went slightly over the 15 minute limit – 17 to be exact.  Then I left it, went to bed and came back to touch it up this morning.  So, thanks for that Morgen.  Great exercise!  So, let’s see how this little 550-worder stands up in the warm light of a summer morning shall we?

  ***

My back is sore, my legs cramped and my coat can’t be pulled any more tightly around me. My breath fogs and my fingers and toes seem to have left me for warmer climes, but my ribs, hard against the hard cold wood, jolting and jerking, are the worst.

I’d taken a beating before leaving Summer Creek. Panning for gold in them hills can make you feel like a king, but it can make others feel like killing you, make them envious. I’d gotten away as best I could I suppose, considering the kicking I got. Still, I kept my gold, or most of it. They only found a few nuggets and the rest was well-hidden. It was the gold I’d promised not to touch: Janie’s gold. The gold I wanted to win Janie back with, the gold I need to win Janie back. As I move I can hear her letter rustle in my coat pocket, a crinkled reminder of a love gone bad, and a love now gone.

The hell was she doing in Nebraska anyhow? What, or rather who made her leave? I knew the answer to that; she couldn’t live alone for long, she needed company and preferable the male-type. The Lincoln postmark was the first thing I saw when I received the letter, two months ago now. It made my heart sink, then I panned just that little bit harder, worked just that little bit longer to bring her some gold from the Black Hills, to get her to come back to St. Louis. I’m a fool, I know but this is no fool’s gold in my possession. She’ll see that, when we meet. I still can’t believe she’s gone even now. I can think of nothing else as I sit, freezing my ass in this slow, empty cattle wagon, shunting and bumping through the South Dakota night.

I lay my head back, close my eyes and listen to the movement over the tracks, each cross-tie and rail joint out to get me. I’m sure I can taste blood now; punctured lung? Could be, 6 pairs of boots can do damage to a man already weakened with a broken heart. I begin to hum an old song; The ship that never returned, one of our camp side favourites. Billy would take that banjo from the sackcloth and pick like an Appalachian angel. Billy. Billy bust flat this autumn, running up debts and making enemies. They took his banjo, then they took Billy. Mountain justice. No one said anything, we all had debts but most of us were panning enough for our need; except Billy.

All this gold weighing down my pocket and I’ve not eaten in almost a week; feels like my stomach is touching my backbone: it probably is. At least I’ve Janie’s gold, hidden good. I would write her a letter or a note but my fingers couldn’t hold a pencil. I’ll just sit here all quiet. I wish there was at least a cow for company.

I feel so weak, so tired, it’s getting colder. I can taste the blood good now, getting stronger with every jolt of the train. I think I’ll just close my eyes a bit. I know I shouldn’t but just for a short while, I’m so tired. And so damned cold.

StoryADay May 2014 (day 2) – My fridge, my end?

I know, I’m late but there was no way of doing this yesterday, work gets in the way sometimes. “Magnetic words” – that took some thought and alas…this is all I came up with. Roll on to Day 3

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I can feel my heartbeat, my temples are thumping; a bit like the sound of a washing machine on slow spin at the end of its cycle. My stomach cramps, or rather alternates between cramps and butterflies that flutter by. I need to step away, I need to get a grip. What is going on?

I woke up, splashed my face and made my way to the kitchen, no changes from my usual Sunday morning habit of making myself a pot of tea and preparing a plate of digestive biscuits and placing both on the little coffee table, spreading out and opening a book. This morning however I awoke early; thunder trounced my head and lightning tried to sear its way through the blinds and the rain hammered on anything it touch. A perfect day for reading, I thought, pouring the first cup from the pot. Then, without taking either opening a book or switching on my laptop, I step over to the fridge.

I, now, you, why, see, kill

It’s been a week now. Last Sunday morning I awoke, made my tea and started to read when a whispering noise made me look up from my book. I didn’t see anything; at first. The words, they rearranged themselves, on their own. There’s no one else here except me. There hasn’t been since last Saturday, except now I think she’s come back. Or she sees why I did or else…I’m going to see why she will.

Sound Travels

In the cold January air flame and smoke disappear

but the sound goes on forever. 

The pistol crack; the victim’s gasp,

dead before his wide-eyed head smashes against the pavement;

the screams of the passers-by;

the shouting policemen holding them back;

the wailing ambulance;

the knock, apologetic, on the door;

the crying, desperate,

left without a husband and father;

the monotone of the priest;

the 12 clicking heels take the coffin;

the sobs of the veiled

and the final, definite scraping of soil,

thrown from shovel to grave. 

The shot was still ringing out.

The Train Window

I was still breathing deeply and out of breath as the train left Milan and entered the countryside.  My heart was beating like a hammer on an anvil.  Did I really just witness someone killed?  Did I really see those men take a life?  Did those men see me as I ran for the safety of people and the station?  I was too far away to do something and hopefully to far away to be considered a witness, at least by those men.  Who were they?  What had the dead man done?  I relax into my seat, breathing under control and look out of the train window.

The flat, still-green farmlands speed by my view at about a 100 miles per hour; la Frecciarossa – the Red Arrow – is the train taking me across the northern Italian plain.  The vineyards; with vines now stripped of their fruit and displaying their autumnal dress.  Shades of green, red, yellow and brown fill my view: The window view.  Like the mother whose son has upped and left home, bearing the weight of the grapes is now a memory for the vine, which will soon be bare for the coming winter.

The low pylon wires running parallel to the track, powering the great train on its way, keep me company but spoil my view of the pale blue sky, slowly suffocating under fat, moist, grey clouds from the east.

The tilled earth of the northern plain, the soil, freshly turned, contrasting with the green, showing brown but somehow…clean.  The appearance of a hard job done well, of a tidy desk left in its place after a day at the office.  For the farmer it is his desk.  Where is that farmer now?  Enjoying the fruits of his labours?  Probably not; it’s a little early to get on the wine but I appreciate his spotless fields.

Now I’ve left the fields and entered a town.  Grey, monotonous concrete destroys any view I might have had.  It’s strange how grey feels so dismal, especially concrete, even in the sunshine.  If I can’t see out the window then I prefer the black of night, at least I can use my imagination.  God forbid it rain; there’s nothing more depressing than a miserable, wet winter’s day, with the light failing early and the concrete, sodden and cold, both to the touch and eye.  But it ends.

The fields have returned.  In the sunshine the fields come to life, even in the autumn.  The sunshine brings animation, inspiration, motivation even.  Motivation to keep moving; to follow the sun.  To not allow the autumn sun to set forever on another year and be followed with a violent sadness by the arrival of winter.  The sunlight flickers continuously from the flashing shade of the pylons and I shield my eyes.  Then relief comes as the train enters a tunnel, if I remember rightly it’s a long one.  I continue to stare out of the window.  The train roars through and I can’t hear myself think, so I don’t: I just stare, waiting. 

It’s then I notice in the window a shape behind me, blacker than the tunnel wall.  A man; standing…also waiting.  In the reflection is that a knife I see in his hand?

Diner

I recently submitted a piece to the quarterly The First Line, for the fall edition.  This time round the piece was rejected – no worries.  I found the site by accident one evening, and I wrote the story upon seeing the first line – which has never happened.  It was a great exercise and so I’ll put it on here, simply for that fact, to remind me I can do it.  I’m glad I tried and, after all, rejection is one step away from acceptance.  Anyway, here goes:

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A light snow was falling as Charlie Reardon left the diner and made his way down Madison Street.  The cheeseburger, fries and large coke were weighing heavy on his stomach and for one queasy moment he thought he would throw everything back up.  Leaning against an old Camaro he took a series of deep breaths, letting his head clear a little before moving on.

“Get your hands of the car man”.

Charlie lifted his hands and turned toward the voice.

“You heard him, get your hands off the car”.

“They are off” mumbled Charlie.

“What you say boy?” came the reply.  He turned toward this voice, to his left.  A fist crashed into the right side of his head, whilst another hit him just above the kidneys.  Feeling his legs give way he was spun round and a forehead was planted in his face.  His world turned black.

 

“Hey pal, are you OK”?  A light push on his shoulder.  “Hey buddy, can you hear me”?  The voice slowly filtered through to Charlie’s semiconscious brain.  “Jeez, this guy’s taken a hell of a beating.  Say Sam, should we call the cops or an ambulance”?

“No way, leave him Steve, we could be next.  What if they’re watching him?  I wanna go get the beers and run man, this stuff disturbs me.  Let’s get outta here”.

Steve looked up and down the dark street, seeing no one but now fear started to slowly knot his stomach.

“Sam, what if he…”

“Forget it buddy, it could be us”.

Looking down at the prone body Steve got to his feet.

“I guess you’re right man”, through gritted teeth as he fell into step with his friend.

 

Charlie lifted his face from the wet asphalt, feeling a sharp tearing pain as if the skin were still stuck to it.  He tried to open his eyes but only the left one responded.  The pain above his right temple seared through his head when he tried to move, and, giving it up as a bad idea he laid back down, feeling the snow fall in his ear. Somewhere a siren wailed, fading into the distance.

“Not coming for me then boys” he thought.  The pain in his head intensified.  He could feel unconsciousness slowly wash over him.

The snow started getting heavier.  Charlie couldn’t feel it.

 

“Look mama, is that man drunk”?  The kid’s whiney voice cut through the evening street sounds.

“If he doesn’t get up soon he’ll catch his death in this” said the kid’s mother, looking up at the sky as large flakes of snow descended upon them.  “Speaking of which, we’d better get you inside little man” she continued, tugging the boy’s arm as he continued to watch the man lying in the road.

“Shouldn’t we help him Mom”? the kid asked.  “In Sunday School they told us about a good Sama…Sama…Sama’ton.  Shouldn’t we be like him Mom?”

“Not if the man’s drunk, junior” she replied.  “Drunk people can be mean honey”.

“What if he’s dying Mom?”  His nasally whine was beginning to grate on his mother’s nerves.

She stood by her son and looked closer at the body.  She couldn’t see blood, which, she thought, was a blessing.  However this then strengthened her view that the man had been on a drunk and had come to harm because of it.

“Well go inside honey, and we’ll call an ambulance.  Is that good enough for my little Samaritan?”

“I guess so Mom” he replied, letting out a sigh as they turned for home.

The got through the door and the boy’s mother, true to her word, called an ambulance immediately, before taking off their coats and shoes.

“It’s out of our hands now” she said, feeling relieved but concerned at the same time.  She laid newspaper down by the door and placed their shoes upon it.  Urging her son to go and “get his ‘jamas on” she made her way to the kitchen.  She thought about having a glass of wine then remembered the man outside.  She poured some water into the kettle, deciding on a cup of tea instead.  The ambulance, its siren shredding the night air, arrived.

 

A light snow was falling as Charlie Reardon left the diner and made his way down Madison Street.  Surprisingly, he felt extremely light, almost as if he hadn’t eaten.  As he continued along the sidewalk he saw an ambulance parked against the curb.  A crowd stood round something, or someone lying in the road.

The Main Course

He made everyone look up from their meal, both female and male.  He wasn’t good looking; far from it but he had a certain something.  He was dressed in a blue shark-skin suit, and, strangely, a claret shirt.  It wasn’t this sartorial stew that drew attention though.

His face was fairly pointed and his mouth, unsmiling, seemed a little deformed, as if it had little in common with the rest of his face.  Whatever it was, it had an effect.  People stopped eating to watch him walk by; although his walk also was a little unnatural.  He seemed to glide instead of taking steps.  He was sat at a table toward the dimly lit rear of the restaurant.  He scanned the restaurant, his eyes like black marble holding the gaze of the other people till, one by one, they dropped theirs.

The Maître d’ availed himself immediately.  He arrived at the table; flicking a quick hand across the tablecloth and removing two almost invisible specks of something in one go.

“I feel carnivorous this evening”, said the man.  “I think a plate of bresaola will do me for starters.  I’ll make my mind up on the main course as I chew.”  The Maître d’ nodded.

“A bottle of sparkling water also,” he said, “I like the way those bubbles go to my head.”  Once again the Maître d’ nodded and, avoiding the seated man’s eyes, made his way to the kitchen.  He sent a waiter with the bottle of water.

The restaurant noise resumed its previous level.  Couples enjoying a romantic for two, a rose placed between them.  Business associates enjoying heated debates over targets hit and missed.  Ernest salesmen continuing their sales pitch between forkfuls of tagliatelle.

The order arrived.  Placing the plate of cured meat in front of the man, the waiter, no doubt briefed by the Maître d’, asked if he’d considered his main course.

“Still thinking,” said the man.  He hinted at a smile, allowing a glimpse of that strange mouth.  The waiter felt a small shiver run down his back but couldn’t put his finger on why it should be.  Returning a professional smile, honed during 25 years’ service, he made his way from the table.

The discussion at a table of hard-nosed marketing execs started getting heated; a little too much wine or possibly after-dinner cognac getting the better of two of them and the argument promised to get out of hand.

The man polished off the starter in less than a minute, all the while keeping his eye on events in the restaurant.  The Maître d’ was standing at the table, imploring calm with his hands held outwards but to little avail.  The shouting reached a crescendo, one of the men, with a fat sweating face and cheeks flush from the booze, was now on his feet and waving his arms around, occasionally pointing a shaking hand at one of his colleagues; a crew-cut kid with the face and neck of a bulldog.

“You’re just an overblown tele-salesman,” shouted the sweating man.  “You’ve seen nothing!  We’ve been through the mill, busting our ass studying what we do.  You arrive, make 50 phone calls and hit a lucky.  What do you know about market analytics or product lifecycle?  You just kiss the right ass in the right place and think you’re God’s gift.”

Crew-cut raised himself out of his seat and leant over the table.  Then there came the sound of breaking glass.

“Shit!”

Mr. Waving Arms held his hand to his cheek, blood seeping through his fingers.  Grabbing a serviette to hold against the man’s face the Maître d’ led him by the arm, pointing to the men’s service area.  As he quickly returned to the table of still-arguing marketing execs, the man in the shark skin suit, alone in the semi-dark, smiled to himself, revealing a huge set of triangular teeth.  He breathed in the smell of blood, and glided from his chair.

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