Friday, May 30, 2008


Sounds in the apartment hallway poked through the shroud of Richard's sleep.

There was a voice, rumbling and hot.

And pounding.

Pounding on a door.

It muffled a screech within.

Richard rolled. The sounds stirred dream colors. Dark, dripping reds and diseased mutations of green. He pushed the covers and gave them a kick. He squirmed away from the terror squeezing his belly.

A memory moved in the depths of his brain. Under his dream.

Something huge and vital and taken for granted. Like suddenly becoming aware of your liver, and its tireless transformation of your own pollution.

He imagined dark shapes on his old bed sheets. Snoopy with his food bowl. Snoopy sleeping on his red doghouse.

He wanted to scream for his mother.

So much, to scream.

But his mother was already screaming.

And the pounding shook the entire house.

"Open the fucking door!"

Richard flashed open his eyes. His rodeo heart thrashed in his chest.

"I have to take a piss! You fucking bitch!"

The high pitched reply dissolved.

As he woke, pieces of reality slapped back into his consciousness. He was in bed. In Philadelphia. Work tomorrow would suck because his asshole neighbors were drunk again.

The enormous, subterranean fear faded back into his viscera before he got a very good look it.

"Come on! Open the fucking door!"

Nice. Who in the building would call the police this time?

Richard rearranged himself in the bed. Folded his arms behind his head.

He spied the old clock ticking in the glow of his annoying clock radio.

He managed to relax, but couldn't completely shake the irrational fear that his mother was still screaming.

(I'm sad to say, and a bit embarrassed, that blog writing often competes with work on my novel. However, my creativity here has done amazing things for me, so I have no plans to stop. Once in a while, though, I think I can bring the two together. When a scene can stand on its own as a vignette, I may share small excerpts from my work in progress, So This Fish Walks Into a Cemetery. You know, kill two birds with one stone and all....)


Unknown said...

I liked the simple alliteration of 'Richard rolled'. This piece bears a striking resemblance to a short story I wrote many years ago, inspired by my sister living next door to a psychotic family in a rundown apartment building. Aah, the memories.

Chris Eldin said...

I do hope you'll share more!!

I liked "Richard rolled" also. But I felt this sentence was overwritten--didn't feel like your style: Dark, dripping reds and diseased mutations of green. (FWIW!)

Really enjoy your pacing. You're very good at that.

Are you seeking comments when you post these, or just sharing?

Bernita said...

"a voice rumbling and hot"
I like that.

Scott said...

It's easy to see the poetic influence of your words, almost as if this were itself a poem. Loved some of those word choices. Without thinking about it, the words "rodeo heart" gallaped before me (Corny I know!).

Sarah Hina said...

Like suddenly becoming aware of your liver, and its tireless transformation of your own pollution. The internalized shock that comes with a dark recognition. This nails it.

There is a convergence here of something nameless and ancient with some things small and merely tired. In night, the demarcations are harder to find. His boyhood sheets, and the innocence they promise, are badly soiled.

I'm glad you let us take a peek, Jason. Maybe more in the future? :)

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Well the thing about sharing an excerpt is that you create a desire for us to read more!!! ;o)

Geraldine said...

Good luck with the novel Jason and thanks for the 'sneak peeks' along the way that you are sharing! Well done.

Anonymous said...

I thought you captured the blurring between deep sleep and waking, especially when its some shitbag noisy next door neighbour responsible. That slight scariness when you can't initially make sense of it all. Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

EOH, those sound like fun times. ;) Aine once had an apartment under a college couple who had the most pathetic fights day after day after day.

Chris, comments are always welcome! This passage is written a little differently to evoke the feeling of half-wakefulness. I liked the line you mentioned, but it gives me pause whenever something takes a reader out of the scene.

Bernita, thank you!

Paisley, taken care of.

Scott, I liked my little "rodeo" adjective invention there (or is it an appositive?). As for the poetry influence, I brought it to bear more heavily in this passage to build that sense of quasi-reality in the middle of the night.

Sarah, There is a convergence here of something nameless and ancient with some things small and merely tired. In night, the demarcations are harder to find. His boyhood sheets, and the innocence they promise, are badly soiled... That is stunningly accurate. This novel is very much about the emergence of the past. An overwhelming past.

Ello, I hope so!! If not, I need to make some adjustments.

Geraldine, thank you! Showing some material live and getting reactions is wonderful for the writing process.

Aggie, perfect! I hoped that the language and style would create that feel. It stands apart from the regular scenes.

Bridget Jones said...

Have GOT to read the book when it's done. This is great stuff, as you darn well know....

Liane Spicer said...

Lovely imagery. I too found 'rodeo heart' wonderfully effective, as well as the liver analogy.

I suspect 'Fish' will find its way on to my wish list when it's published...

Anonymous said...

Bridget Jones, thanks for the smile. :) It would be such a honor to put the book in your hands.

Wordtryst, what a rush that would be! Thank you for the kind words. =)

FANCY said...

Why kill the bird when you can eat vegetables...*LOL*...Keep doing your work it's great...:)

SzélsőFa said...

I liked this very, very much, Jason.
The shattered colors and other distorted perceptions Richard experiences captures quite well how someone half-awake, half-asleep would understand the world around him.
I too, often see shattered colored glasses when something wakes me up suddenly. Perhaps that's why I liked it so very much.

I know it's not that kind of writing, but I'd like to read further on :) Perhaps, I wll read the complete book once it is out :)

Vesper said...

A very good piece, Jason, very intense. And the photo, too, I find it fascinating (time is an obsession of mine).

I was wondering for a while if your writing was not too intense sometimes to sustain it like that for a whole novel. I hope you understand what I mean. It's not a criticism. :-) Every sentence is very strong, very beautiful in its association of words, sometimes even too beautiful or too powerful for the reader to absorb them without pause. Each makes me feel something very strongly. For a vignette, it's perfect. For a longer story, I wonder...

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Fancy, thanks! (I've never heard that saying before. I love learning about the little phrases from other cultures.)

Szelsofa, I'm glad it resonated with your own experiences! This selection sits in the midst of normal, lighter passages. It's meant to be dark and jarring.

Vesper, you are absolutely correct. This level of writing can't work for an entire novel. This passage is written in this intense style for a purpose. It's meant to be a change-up, to hit the reader with a sudden intensity. I do like approaching novel writing like waves--cycles of build and release on your way to the grand climax. The reason why I chose this kind of passage for the blog is for the reason you say. Powerful, condensed writing fits the internet format well. Long, calmer passages approapriate for a novel seem unweildy on an a blog. That said, I do want to bring the intensity of this format to novel writing. Just not sustained. To use it for impact.