Sunday, July 17, 2011

Entry #46

The Day I Helped Günter Rhodes Find His Way, I Found Myself
by James R. Tomlinson

Günter Rhodes got popsicled.

"Hey Gunny-Boy," Jones said. "Ready for some more pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey?"

I said, "Leave him be." I unhitched my belt.

Günter arrived last Tuesday. No matter how hard he tried he smelled fresh, like the leather interior of a brand new Chrysler. "I've already went for a spin," I said to Jones. "Drives real good."

Jones kicked rocks.

I'd been abused myself—by my stepfather. "Name's Hightower," I said. There was terror in his eyes, reflective pools of Hell. I offered my hand. I tried to pull him back to the here and now.

He didn't know who to trust. Trust is an empty swing-set void of momentum. "You okay?" I asked.

He was unresponsive ... yet breathing ... that had to count for something, for some form of redemption.

Or not.

"Günter," I said. "Talk to me." I told him he was no worse than the rest of us.

He said he was innocent, that he didn't do the things they'd said he'd done.

I knew better. I know harm is self-inflicted—we do it to ourselves. I told him not to think about innocence. I said, "We're all criminals in here, start playing the part."

He said he couldn't.

I believed him.

I slid the belt off my waist. I said, "Then let me help you," and when I did, I found myself.


Catherine Vibert said...

Your work life has allowed you to be inside the mind of a killer in a way that most would never know. Creepy but most excellent, as usual.

pegjet said...

After Catvibe...what do you do for work?

This is one of the best titles ever. Who wouldn't want to read this?

And I did. Wow. This is a contender.

Anonymous said...

Peg - J. works (worked?) for the correctional system. Plus he's an insane and brilliant writer.

Still, this pushed my edge a little bit. Creepy creepy creepy. Which isn't to say it's not well-written, which, of course, it is.

Catrina said...

Creepy? Yes. Fresh, interesting prose? God, yes. So many good things going on here. I'm not 100% what you mean by "popsicled," but I like it.

I also really loved this line: "Trust is an empty swing-set void of momentum."

Excellent, excellent, excellent.

Precie said...

Always good to see you here, JR, although I'm afraid that, if I'm reading this accurately, the narrator finding himself isn't really a positive the bigger picture. As always, excellent dialogue and voice.

Aniket Thakkar said...

Pete and you, should be banned from participating, to give others a fair chance. :)

You always come up with such brilliant pieces in these contests, J.R. Like others said, this is creepy good.

Anonymous said...

Catrina - you may not want to know what popsicled means. I'm just saying.

Aimee Laine said...

Although I'm confused at the last line, that's probably because my experiences just don't match the narrators... because I can picture the scene really well. It's wonderfully clear. :) Well done!

Joni said...

This has a serious "ew" factor, but I can't deny that I'm drawn to it. The voice is spot on and there are some true gem metaphors. Fantastic writing.

Catrina said...

@Aerin, I was actually referring to the verbing of the noun, use of language, etc. Figured "being popcicled" couldn't be a positive thing. =)

jrthumbprints said...

Due to being "forced" out of my home, I've been pretty much "internet-less" these past few months. Still, I'm hoping to read each flash, comment, and of course vote. Thanks everyone for your reactions to my flash as well.

Precie said...

I hope all is well, JR.

fairyhedgehog said...

I was a bit confused by this as to who had done bad things to whom. At first, I thought they were all in a foster home or similar for abused children, then it seems that they are the abusers. I realise that people are often both as abuse begets abuse. The ending was particularly chilling.

Unknown said...

Being popsicled...put on in dead, going to hell? Excellently done!

Dottie :)

bluesugarpoet said...

Wonderfully creepy as ever, J.R. - especially since I know there has to be a real life inspiration to this. I love how your pieces have that macabre twist at the end. Glad you had enough internet access to post this! ~ Jana

Old Kitty said...

Wow. I feel tense, repelled, scared and really dirty! I feel sorry for all these men. They are damaged and nasty but damaged!

Wow! Take care

Jade L Blackwater said...

As always, well-written with a clear, audible voice. The emotions are immediate, if disturbing.

Hope things get better at home soon for you!

PJD said...

JR, you have given us a deep and chilling look into this guy's personality. Now that I understand what's gone on (it took me several readings), my only quibble is a pronoun antecedent:

Jones kicked rocks.

I'd been abused myself—by my stepfather. "Name's Hightower," I said. There was terror in his eyes, reflective pools of Hell. I offered my hand. I tried to pull him back to the here and now.

He didn't know who to trust. Trust is an empty swing-set void of momentum. "You okay?" I asked.

With "... in his eyes" the most recent male character is Jones. I wasn't sure here who had the terror in his eyes, or where Jones had gone after he kicked rocks. Unless "kicked rocks" is code for "left the scene." Which I'm thinking now it might be.

In any case, wowzers this is one bad dude.

Richard Levangie said...

I think the writing has some rough sections but, overall, this is a terrific entry. Chilling, honest, and real.

Michele Zugnoni said...

Such evocative language. I found myself pulled into the piece.

Thank you for sharing!

jrthumbprints said...

P.D., "kicked rocks" does indeed mean Jones left the scene. Nothing like a little prison slang to spice-up the flash. Thanks for your constructive criticism. I'm trying to read all the entries in alpha-order; I'm on the B's right now. Hopefully, I'll have read them all by Sunday night.

Katherine Tomlinson said...

Dark. Tough. Uncompromising. Unforgettable.

JaneyV said...

JR - your flash pieces are always uncompromising. Your window into the psyche of the damaged and abusive criminals in this piece was deeply disturbing. The fact that your MC felt that raping Günter was somehow helping him makes me despair.

As to the writing itself JR, very well done. You managed to achieve a very complex characterization in very few words. Your MC was both sympathetic and utterly repulsive. That takes some doing.

rocky wing said...

i felt tense from the start of this and this feeling only increased throughout. one of my favorites for sure. the fact that hightower thought he was helping, shows that his words are true, that he really did find himself. it makes me wonder what he thought he was before this moment. misunderstood, innocent, was he playing the part? was he drawn to gunter because he felt a bit like him?

pegjet said...

Congratulations on the Honorable Mention. I was happy to see your story in the Top Ten.

Anonymous said...

A hard reality in this very skillfully written piece. The memory of it will remain. A high scorer!

Congratulations on the honorable mention!