Monday, February 25, 2008

Entry #44

Walden's
by John McAuley


"Man, what the hell you doing living way out here? I bet the town's only hooker's still a virgin."

"Earl, that joke's as old as dinosaur shit."

Earl's a good guy and was a good partner for the six months we worked together. But he talks a lot. Not like Carl. Me and Carl could go a whole shift and be comfortable hardly saying a word to each other. We always knew who was going to drive, answer the radio...all Carl said when the round went through his bulletproof vest was, "Damn..."

Earl finished his drink and shook my hand, "Take care of yourself, I'll call you sometime and maybe we can go for a beer at that little bar you've been talking about," he said, before heading back down to Atlanta.

I doubt there are any hookers in Jellico; but there are two churches and Walden's bar. I like going to Walden's in mid-afternoon. It's peaceful, mostly old farmers sipping on cheap beer, talking about the weather and stock car racing. I've been going there long enough now that they nod at me when I walk in. Makes me feel like I'm socialising.

But Walden's is closed on Sunday's and I don't attend church. So I listen to baseball on the radio and drink until suppertime. Through my window I look at the field; there's only one tree out there. It's the quietest partner I've ever had.

20 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

You knocked my socks off, John. It must be February in Michigan to write such a lonely piece. It just hums with it.

BernardL said...

Absorbing piece, not everyone wants company.

Beth said...

Agreed. What I like about your writing John is that the characters feel like a slice of Americana, no bullshit.

Sarah Hina said...

I like the authentically rural feel to this piece. Your characterization is excellent and rings true.

Very low-key, but evocative, piece of writing here. Really enjoyed it.

Jaye Wells said...

For a quiet piece it sure says a lot. Nice job.

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

This is a very evocative, almost thought provoking piece. I really enjoyed the "cleanness" of the story, it's fundamental simplicity, it makes the tale very powerful. Definitely one of my favourites.

Rob said...

I know how this guy feels. Great job, very strong voice throughout this piece.

DBA Lehane said...

Superb! Raymond Carver reborn!

paisley said...

now that is solitude.... very well written....

sandra seamans said...

I read this last night and tried to put down my thoughts and couldn't. I woke up this morning wondering if he'd wind up killing himself. Haunting story.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words. And Sandra, I wanted to take a different route than, " Retired cop eats his gun over death of partner," so you can assume he lives out the rest of his days..quietly..unless I need him for something else of course:)
John McAuley

sandra seamans said...

I'm glad he's going to hang around, John. I'd really enjoy reading more about this man.

Remiman said...

John,
A beer, some friendly folk, and a tree;
Damn, life can't get simpler than that.
I'll shut up now. ;)
rel

JLB said...

This is a great piece - your character speaks with a unique, clear voice.

bluesugarpoet said...

I love the characterization in this piece; in particular, I like how he continually tethers himself to a partner. His work was his life; that certainly wouldn't stop just because he retired. It reminds me of my dad who relates everything to printing. We can't walk by a brochure without him commenting on the stock of the paper or the type of finish, lol.

SzélsőFa said...

It feels sad and lonely somehow.

ChristineEldin said...

You totally captured small-town USA. I love this one!
Being alone doesn't equate with being lonely. Nice job with this one.

Aerin said...

"they nod to me when I walk in...makes me feel like I am socializing"

And he's so pleased with himself about that! Incredible characterization!

jason evans said...

Extremely skilled character development, and wonderful touches of flavor and character. You have a very natural way of creating a tangible, real world. Highest marks.

Congratulations on the honorable mention!!

Aine said...

What a heartwarming portrayal of small town life. I love how the character values simplicity. And, to echo Christine: "being alone doesn't equate with being lonely."

Thanks for sharing this!