Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Entry #225

Hovering Over Walden's
by John McAuley

"...wasn't like we caught him and shot him. But I hope the flames of hell burn up through every bullet hole in him for what he did to Carl."

Earl had a way with dramatic phrases. A preachers son. And a good cop in the time we rode together after Carl got killed.

"I appreciate you driving all the way up from Atlanta to tell me in person Earl."

"No problem. Just wanted to see how you're doing." He didn't mention having the local sheriff check on me last week when I quit answering my phone. " So you still going to Walden's bar early in the day and listening to old men talk about tractors?"


"Find a girlfriend yet?"


"Thought this town was so small the only hooker's still a virgin."

"Not any more."

"Hah, that's more like your smartass old self."

When Beth asked if I was going back to work I shrugged and handed her a beer. We sat on my front porch and listened to the radio. During a commercial I stared at the solitary tree over on the west ridge. I'd told Beth that tree was my quietest partner since Carl. For the third time today an eagle swooped low over the bare branches. If eagles can carry away the souls of the dead I wish they could carry off the guilt of the living.


Laurel said...

Wow. What happened to Carl?

Great voice(s) here and really effective POV switch.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Heh. Nice. And subtle.

Bernita said...

I'm left with the feeling he's going to hang himself on that tree some day.
Excessive survivor guilt.

Mahesh Sindbandge said...

I agree with Bernita..

Now this i can call a piece of story that leaves reader wondering what could have happened. For the 2nd time i felt why word limit is just 250 ;)

All the best :)


Aniket Thakkar said...

I have faith in Beth. She'll pull him out. It takes time... and a lot of beer.

Well written.

sandra seamans said...

Glad to see your cop is still living in Walden, John. It's nice when a writer revisits a character you know. Hope we'll be seeing more of him.

ollwen said...

Brilliant. Love how the dialogue entertains and carries the narrative so well.

laughingwolf said...

me too, what bernita said...

DILLIGAF said...

I'm with Aniket.

'Alcohol. The cause of...and solution to all of lifes problems' Homer Simpson

Great writing and loved the switch.

Anonymous said...


Something I Would Keep

Going to the bar to listen to old men talk about tractors - nice detail, but also quite effective

Something I Might Tweak

I don't think you need the dividing line. It's not a POV switch from earlier, is it? Same narrator? It just reads as exposition, character development.

Preeti said...

Lovely characterization. Made me think and ponder. i am also wondering what happened to Carl.

James R. Tomlinson said...

Whenever I see the name Earl, I think of the Dixie Chicks. Your flash has a tonal quality to it, something that matches a DC song.

Deb Smythe said...

Nice job of developing the MC through setting and dialogue. And in so few words.

Anonymous said...

I felt I wish they could carry off the guilt of the living is a tremendous line!

JaneyV said...

A satisfying glimpse into survivor's guilt. I like how you have him play along with Earl even though he clearly isn't his old self.

I hope that Aniket is right and, for once, Bernita is wrong...

Craig said...

I love all those little details you included. It makes all those characters seem so real.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate all the kind words and insightful comments.

Sandra-Glad you liked it. It was partly due to a comment from you that I brought him back for another visit.

Aerin-Yeah, about ten mins. after I hit "send" I realised the transistion between scenes wasn't as smooth as it should have been.

Four Dinners-I actually have that saying taped just above my 'puter monitor.

Bernita-I can say for sure he won't hang himself from the tree but other than that I don't know what will happen to him. As worn out as the- heavy drinking troubled cop with a murdered partner- theme has become, there's just something about this character...
All the best,
John McAuley

Rachel Green said...

God piece. I wonder if the eagle was Carl

PJD said...

Glad to see the author's comments... I was going to say that for maybe the second time in 223 reads I disagreed with Bernita. It was clear to me that he wasn't ever going to hang himself--he thinks about it but somehow thinks that would be a coward's way out, not the right way to deal with the guilt, not the right way to finish Carl's story. For me, the girl has nothing to do with the hanging issue... first, he grappled with that and overcame it. Then he took another step and got a girlfriend. This is a progression from a depth of despair back into a semblance of normalcy. Nicely written.

And I LOVE the virgin line.

catvibe said...

I also thought of the Dixie Chicks song here. Funny. This was fun to read. Loved the tone. The dialogue gives a good description of the town and I just get the feeling it's somewhere in the mid-west or something. Nice job.

Kartik said...

I think the narrator will pull through.. +1 with Pete's comments