Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Entry #56

by Steven J. McDermott

Parked under the power pole I still wonder what I did wrong. Why the fuck was the transformer hot? I used to come here only on the anniversary of Jess's death. Now, it's becoming addictive.

Even with the klieg lights blazing night to day his wire cutters had glowed, then went molten, melting his gloves, before his flannel shirt flamed, burning up from the cuff, while he jittered--no harder than if he'd been running a jackhammer, really--until the transformer blew, all arcing wires and shrapnel, including the biggest chunk, which was Jess, launched from the cherry picker to bounce from the truck's roof to the pavement while the snapping wires tossed sparks.

CPR? Yeah, right. Ever burnt a piece of toast?

For years I'd dodged up side roads to avoid passing this stretch of highway, but three years ago I started returning to the power pole more frequently, every couple of months at least. Another rookie linesman had joined our crew; the first FNG they'd trusted us with since Jess's death. Chris, who'd been in Nam like me, chided the rookie continuously about being a Fucking New Guy, but I couldn't; Jess had been the last FNG, the guy I'd crispy-crittered by . . . how the fuck I don't know.

Six nights running now I've parked here, ticking down to the decade since Jess died, and I am so fucking scared. Of what I'll do, and what I won't.

[Steven J. McDermott is the editor of Storyglossia.]


Jade L Blackwater said...

I really like the touch of mystery around your narrator! Well done.

Anonymous said...

Wow! And I thought he was just feeling sad because his friend died! Loved the way you turned it around and showed us he was the killer. Excellent!

Lisa Jordan said...

The anguish of his guilt is apparent through the vivid recalling of the night the death happened. Great job!

Bhaswati said...

Powerful, vivid, dark. Very well done, indeed.

Anonymous said...

It is all summed up in the last sentence...as it should be. Good voice & characterization.

writingblind said...

I agree, that last line is what brings it home. Very nice.

Fran Piper said...

The variety in the pacing in this story is excellent. You also manage to mingle vivid description with an authentic voice.

Great work!

Anonymous said...

Steven, guilt and doubt...so powerful. The accident was well portrayed. Some great sparkles of description in there! High marks for pacing and entertainment.