Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Caroline, Part 2 (Fiction)

(Just joining us? Back to Part 1)

       David circled into the lobby. A young man, probably in college, stood behind a mammoth desk--a period piece as he had informed David at check in.
       "And how is your room, sir?"
       "Amazing," David said. "You've done some impressive work here."
       "Thank you, sir. We take a great deal of pride in the restorations."
       "I can see that," David said, and as if to prove he really could, he paused to absorb all of the craftsman touches.
       The doors to the summer night swept open and two couples strolled into the lobby. Laughing quietly, they crossed the center of the room to a doorway on the other side. David watched them. A strange thread of unreality wound through their hushed tones.
       "We have a lot of weddings here," the clerk said. "A lot of receptions."
       "I understand why. I don't think I've seen a better spot."
       A puff of outside air from the doors overtook David. Sweet honeysuckle. So potent, it left a taste.
       David wandered toward a wall of dark windows. Outside, huge maple trees cast deeper shadows than the surrounding night.
       "For the guests?" David asked, pointing to a small alcove. A Morris chair reclined among several cabinets of bookshelves.
       "Help yourself, sir."
       David scanned the titles. The old leaded glass in the doors of the cabinets smeared the print.
       "We're careful to stock books from the height of the inn's popularity," the clerk said. "Before radio and television, we hosted many orations and literary meetings. A steady stream of writers and artists sat in these same chairs from 1900 through the early thirties when the inn closed."
       David glanced up at the brown and white photographs framed over the bookcases. Men in casuals hats. Sun gushing in the windows. A speaker he didn't recognize.
       He clicked the latch and released the stale air of a cabinet. A row of small magazines caught his attention. [The Philistine]. He took the nearest.
       "Those are delightful," the clerk said. "I've read many myself. Essays. Diatribes. The advertisements are the best. The public was much more literate back then, don't you think?"
       David stopped on one for [Anheuser-Busch's Malt-Nutrine]. The clerk wasn't kidding. David recalled that advertisements are written for 6th grade reading level. On those pages, David saw advanced placement English. Maybe even college credit.
       "Wow," David said. "This wouldn't stand a chance now. I see millions of thumbs flipping to the next channel."
       "Kind of sad, isn't it?"
       "Yes," David said, suddenly experiencing true sadness. "It is."
       He closed the tiny magazine and returned it to it's protected place. When the glass was resealed, he felt safer. Things like that cabinet were traps. They could steal a piece of the person. Drown them in a lost age. Some souls forever harmonize with a time other than their own.
       "Is there anywhere I might get a night cap?" David asked.
       "Well, we have a small lounge through the dining room, then to the left. But we're a bit understaffed this evening, sir," the clerk said. "The bartender is with the wedding party at the back of the inn."
       David nodded.
       "Let me do this for you, though. I'll call back and ask the bartender to come to the lounge for a few minutes. Let him get you set up, then you can relax in the quiet. I'll check in on you later."
       David smiled. "Thank you. I really appreciate that. Through the dining room and to the left?"
       The clerk already had the phone in his hand. "Yes, towards the front of the inn. And be sure to look at the cocktail list. We've resurrected a few of the old mixes. Prohibition killed some of the flair back then, I'm afraid."
       David moved to the same doors where the couples had disappeared. "Thanks again. You have a good evening," David said.
       "And to you, sir."
       God, David thought, I could die in a place like this.

On to Part 3


32 comments:

Kelly Parra said...

Hmm, interesting, as if he's stepped into another time. Okay, give me more! ;D

Jess Riley said...

Wow, you evoke a definite mood here...very visual writing. Bravo. :)

anne said...

Very well done. I am now waiting for the time warp to do weird things to him (and me), and dreading the Shining-esque development.

jason evans said...

Kelly, yes, that's what I'm trying to get across. :)

Jess, thank you! It is really a treat for me when I manage to inspire a mood in a piece of writing.

Anne, alright, I'm going to break my rules here in order to let you off the hook a little. This story is not going to be horror. As much as a love The Shining, I'm not going to conjure the Grady girls. I just didn't want the horror buffs to be disappointed (those of you who have been with me for a while know that I do write horror once in a while. Check out "Will-'o-the-Wisp" in my index if you want to see how I handle horror). Now, I'm not promising I won't try to creep you out just a little....

beadinggalinMS said...

Very nice! :)

I am going to check out Will-'o-the-Wisp.

R.J. Baker said...

Well written but,

"Where's the beef?"

serenity said...

Very nice!

I'll be checking back to see more.

jason evans said...

BeadinggalinMS, let me know what you think of Will-'o-the-Wisp.

R.J., it's on the grill and will be served up shortly. Maybe this restaurant is a little slow....

Serenty, thank you for the visit! I look forward to seeing you back.

Bernita said...

Delicately done, Jason.

Autumn Storm said...

Jason, you have real talent! Really like the vocab choices you make, lends the perfect ambience (well, in my humble opinion :). Looking forward to Part III.

PS I'm kind of taking a break from posting, have been for a while.

jason evans said...

Bernita, :) Pacing this kind of story isn't easy.

Autumn Storm, thank you for the compliments! I hope you won't be taking a break for too long. ;)

Terri said...

I will check out "Will-'o-the-Wisp" myself. You always leave me wanting to read more!

Terri said...

Oh Wow, I just read "Will-'o-the-Wisp" - loved it!!!

beadinggalinMS said...

Me too on Will-'o-the-Whisp!! Love it!

jason evans said...

Terri and BeadinggalinMS, you folks are really too good to me! Glad you enjoyed it. Given the market and my own growth, I think I'm drifting more mainstream these days, but a good horror story now and again gets the pulse going!

mermaid said...

Nicely set. Great attention to detail. You really get into the mind of the character. It makes me wonder if I "forever harmonize with a time" other than my own. Hmmm...

Kara Alison said...

I love that he called his business statistics crap. You had me at that, but you've held on since then.

"So, will he die in a place like this?" she thought....

Jeff said...

I'm following along. :)

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

"God, David thought, I could die in a place like this."

LOVE this last line. Also, love the details, makes feel I'm right there in the hotel.

jason evans said...

Mermaid, thanks for the comment on character. And harmonizing with another time, that's me, definitely.

Kara, ah, sensitive to clues are we? ;) We shall see.

Jeff, always glad to have you.

Dana, thanks for visiting! Welcome to The Clarity of Night. I'm glad that the setting is getting across well. I spend a good deal of effort on that.... Hope to see you back!

jason evans said...

Since no one mentioned the embedded links, I'm thinking the text color is not standing out enough. I'm adding brackets to set them off. You can read the same ad that David is reading in the story!

R.J. Baker said...

Can a fella get a drink around here?

Shesawriter said...

Very nice. I love the way you paint a scene.

Tanya

jason evans said...

R.J., sure, you can have a drink with the star of our show in the next part.

Tanya, thank you for the compliment!

beadinggalinMS said...

AAAHH Jason thanks for pointing out the embeded links. I was raised near St. Louis and even lived there about 20 yrs ago sooo it was heart warming seeing the Anheuser-Busch add. Thank you for giving me a feeling of "home". Does that make sense?? :)

Robin Caroll said...

I like the time shift...that's just IMHO! Very well done@

R.J. Baker said...

Jason, just bustin' your chops about the restuarant statement. That was a superb come back BTW.

Geeze, these women coddle and coo...

They flog and bloody me. I better crank up the volume.

Sarah said...

"Things like that cabinet were traps. They could steal a piece of the person. Drown them in a lost age. Some souls forever harmonize with a time other than their own."

I love this idea and how you've articulated it. Do I sense a little foreshadowing here?

jason evans said...

BeadinggalinMS, I'm glad it was meaningful for you. I thought the visuals were a nice touch. I never expected someone to have a personal connection, though. :)

Robin, thanks! I always appreciate opinions, positive or negative.

R.J., I knew you were just messing with me. I do understand that this story doesn't have any big hooks up front. The excerpt I posted before the story was intended to give me a little space to build atmosphere. As for your other comment, you're on your own! I almost deleted it for your own protection. Getting bloodied is hard, but I've seen a lot of honest help and attention on your site. Silence and declining visits are the true sign that you're way off base.

Sarah, that idea is true for me. As for foreshadowing, yes, a little, but perhaps not in the way you might think....

R.J. Baker said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply I am not thankful of any critism. I appreciate ever person that visits and especially those that leave comments, even harsh ones.

I just haven't read that many published short stories where the hook isn't somewhere close to the beginning.

The mood and setting is very well written but what pulls the reader into the story and what keeps them turning the page? That's the struggle. I write in a different genre so maybe it doesn't apply in yours. But thank you for your comments.

Chemical Billy said...

"I can see that," David said, and as if to prove he really could, he paused to absorb all of the craftsman touches.

This made me laugh, jason. That last line about dying here, it begs some sort of satisfaction...

jason evans said...

Chemical Billy, thanks! Some sort of satisfaction?? Oh, something's a brewin', don't worry. I hope it will be satisfying!