The Game Of Inches

So far, the novel goes. I think it even goes well, but right now, I’m really just looking for it to tumble forward to some kind of conclusion. I’m 30k deep, and today was a 3k day, which isn’t terrible given that I’m doing other work (secret video game, 4th draft of film script, development on Mirrors, etc.).

I think the biggest happy spot here is that, I’m enjoying the writing process. I dunno what it was, but it used to be that sitting down and banging out a novel terrified me. It gave me this sick feeling in my stomach. Some gross uncertainty nipped at my heels. Not so, at least not on this one. I’m comfortable with what it is and where it’s going. It’s now just about the journey to get there. Here’s hoping.

Anyway. For now, an excerpt. Enjoy. Or don’t. I’m pro-choice.

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The trailer park reminds Harriet of a graveyard. Singlewides and doublewides. Gray and white boxes. All lined up, one after the other. They’re like silent headstones, she thinks. Rows of tombs, each marked with dead flowers—mostly marigolds, which if she recalls, are flowers associated with the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico, serving as ofrendas for the departed. This is a place of death, she decides. The people here are technically alive, but that’s as far as it goes, isn’t it?

Frankie just looks uncomfortable.

Harriet knocks on the door of the doublewide.

A human mountain—his flesh a frozen, tattooed landslide, answers the door.

Fat Dude. More specifically, naked Fat Dude. Two fingers splinted.

His frame fills the trailer door. Ink of a fire-breathing serpent encircles his belly button crater, linked with another serpent, whose scaled body slinks down Fat Dude’s flabby thigh and coils inward so that—

Frankie blanches.

“Oh, Jesus, God,” he mumbles, shielding his eyes. The second snake winds its way around the shaft of Fat Dude’s erect penis. The penis is the size and shape of a beer can.

“What?” Fat Dude asks, pissed.

Frankie wrinkles his nose. “Man. You got your dick inked?”

“You lookin’ at my dick?”

“Well, it’s right fuckin’ there!” Frankie yells, pointing at it. “It’s like a cucumber. A sea cucumber. I think it’s looking at me, to be honest with you.”

Fat Dude growls, “It’ll spit in your mouth if you don’t quit flappin’ your lips.”

“Oh, real nice.”

Harriet decides that she has no time for this cock-waving swordfight, and recognizes that if she lets it go much further, it’ll descend into a carnival of barking half-wits.

“We need to ask you a question,” Harriet interrupts.

“I don’t answer questions from dykes and dagos,” Fat Dude says, proud of himself.

“Fuck you, fatsauce!” Frankie says, stepping up.

Fat Dude reaches out with his left hand—the one with unsplinted fingers—as if to grab Frankie’s lower jaw and rip it off his head. It never gets that far.

Harriet sighs, and darts in with a fast-hand, pinching one of Fat Dude’s testicles between her small fingers. She squeezes like she’s trying to unscrew a sparrow’s head. The mountainous man yelps like a kicked puppy, and swings a meaty paw at Harriet’s face. She knows it’s coming, because Fat Dude telegraphs his movements so far in advance, he might as well send an e-mail. She merely leans backward, and Fat Dude’s hand cracks into the moldering doorjamb of his own trailer. His index and middle finger bend backward in a way that’s wholly not natural, and they crack like sticks breaking under a heavy foot. He howls.

Harriet finds this terribly satisfying.

She lets go of Fat Dude’s empurpled nut, and shoulders him backward.

It’s now possible to see the rest of the trailer—the mound of dirty dishes collecting flies, the couch with fabric so rough it could grate cheese, the bathroom door that’s actually just a strip of accordion plastic pulled taut and latched with a rusty hook. A real palace.

A cot sits against the back wall, bowed deep like a smile from what Harriet presumed was Fat Dude’s tremendous bulk. At present, a skinny girl, maybe 18, maybe younger, sits watching the whole thing unfold with abject disinterest. Heavy, heroin-lidded eyes barely follow the action. She holds up a blanket as if to feign modesty, but one tiny tit pokes out the top with a cigar-butt nipple standing at attention; a fact to which the girl seems oblivious.

“Hold his head,” Harriet commands.

Frankie grabs his head, and slams it down against a carpet crusted with various food and other biological stains. He rubs Fat Dude’s pale pumpkin head across it.

“Lift his head.”

Head’s back up, and Harriet thrusts a photo under his nose. Fat Dude’s watering eyes try to focus on it.

“This man’s name is Ashley Gaynes,” Harriet explains. It’s a photo of Ashley at a party, laughing, a cup of something that might be beer in his hands. He and everyone else stand bathed in the glow of red Christmas lights. “A bartender across town said you might know him.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Fat Dude mewls. “I know him. You shoulda just showed me the picture to begin with, I woulda rolled on that little asshole like it weren’t nothing. He’s the one who broke my other fingers.”

“Gonna be tough to jerk off now,” Frankie says, grinning ear to ear. He looks down, and Harriet sees that, surprisingly, Fat Dude is still sporting a stubby, stocky boner. Frankie’s grin evaporates. “Oh.”

“He have a metal suitcase with him?” Harriet asks.

“No. No suitcase. Just some blonde bitch.”

“Blonde?”

“Blonde like white blonde, like beach sands—a dye job.”

Harriet nods to Frankie, who lets go of Fat Dude’s face. It booms into the floor like the boulder tumbling after Indiana Jones.

“That’s all for now,” Harriet says. “Thank you for your time.”

“Fuck you people,” he whimpers.

Clucking her tongue, Harriet whips the tip of her boot into Fat Dude’s mouth, shattering the teeth. He rolls over, coughing, blood bubbling up over his lower lip.

“Let’s go,” she says to Frankie, who follows after, chuckling.

© 2009 Chuck Wendig

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