Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Exerpt from Walk With Me Into the Darkness

Excerpt from latest work. Working Titles:

Dark Woods

Henry and the Whore

Walk with me Into the Darkness

Dirt Don't Talk


~~~~

1

Away from the Light



"Daddy?"

Henry James Jacoby touched his father's boot and said the word again. He could barely reach the boot it was up so high, and when he touched it, his father rocked gently back and forth, suspended by his neck from a doubled-up length of baling twine wrapping the crossbeam rafter in his father's workshop. His father swung next to an overturned wooden ladder, stained with paint and grease and mud caked at the bottom. His pants were damp and smelled of urine mixed into the musky reek of shit and a decomposing body.

Henry righted the ladder and pushed it closer to his father and climbed up and twisted his father around so he could see him and poked his father's chest. Hard and cool as the concrete floor beneath the ladder.

"Daddy."

His father's tongue had exploded from his mouth. So had his eyes from his skull. The man's face was the color of an over-ripe plum, puffed with pungent juices. His lips snarled back in rage or fear. The twine dug a deep bloody rut into his neck, and his fingers clutched near his cheeks at something not there. What hair remained on his father's barren scalp stood out in a cobwebbed mess. The bloated thing hanging by the rope looked nothing at all like Daddy.

Henry leapt off the ladder and climbed on top of his father's workbench so he could reach a machete tacked between the coping saw and the rip saw and the myriad chisels and screwdrivers and wrenches and wood clamps. He tipped over a coffee can full of nails and screws and jumped off the bench.

Henry climbed the ladder with the machete and faced the bloated thing at the end of the rope. The creak of the ladder matched the creak of the bailing twine twisting against the rafter.

Standing on the top step of the ladder and balancing himself against his father, Henry hacked at the rope with three quick machete chops before his father slapped to the concrete floor. The ladder tipped and clattered, and Henry fell with him and landed on his father's chest. It was as if Daddy had dived beneath Henry to catch him. Henry fished out his father's pocket knife and cut off the rope from his father's neck and laid there for a while, his head on his father's belly.

He didn't look at his father's face again, but chose to stare at his boots, scuffed and brown from hard days in the pasture. They were just like Henry's boots, only bigger.

***

The workshop steamed in the summer heat, baking him and his father laying on the floor, and it was after dark when the smell overtook Henry. He recognized the smell. It was the sweet-musty scent of all things dead. Dead calves smelled that way. Dead squirrels and rabbits, too. He'd seen a dead horse once, and when they shoved the corpse into a pit, the horse had expelled a long gaseous blow from its ass, so fierce that they all ran away from it, his father and the man who'd hired his father to do the digging and the other man's daughter, who owned the horse. The girl ran, too, even though she'd cried and thrown herself on the dead horse's neck just minutes before.

Henry felt his father's belly beneath his head. It was tight with that stench, the dead gas so nauseating he'd vomit when it violated his nose. He never wanted to smell it again, not ever. The Death Gas.

Sweating in the summer heat, Henry threw open the shop doors, the double doors that slid on tracks so wide a tractor could fit, and stepped into the pasture. He stood there with his hands on his hips looking at the night sky and the empty black hole of the new moon. None of the stars said a word, and he didn't ask them any questions. Henry and the stars just stared at each other for a while.

***


1 comment:

Creative Larceny said...

Great opening. I was hooked.

But the phrase "Daddy" made me think a small child had found his father, something I thought for a while, until I read he jumped down to grab a machete. The son didn't seem particularly emotional either, which was odd to me.

Sentences like "His pants were damp and smelled of urine mixed into the musky reek of shit and a decomposing body." and "His father's tongue had exploded from his mouth. So had his eyes from his skull. The man's face was the color of an over-ripe plum, puffed with pungent juices." are more tell than show, and it may be nicer to find those thing out from the son's perspective.