Archive for the ‘The Corner’Category

The Corner: Chapter Six

Chapter Six

In the week after Barnesville had its brush with TERROR the local media had a field day with it. Partly because nothing else particularly thrilling was going on in the world and partly because no one could figure out the point of it. Was it a political statement? Was it just a random act of vandalism? Was it a warning of things to come? Could the Good Chief look any more harried and irritated? It had taken a couple of days but all of the affected areas had been cleaned, and now that it had been scrubbed out of sight it was mostly out of mind for those who had jobs other than TV ratings or finding out who was responsible.

Or if you were Johnny Wicker.

Johnny thought it was the funniest fucking thing he had ever seen and he laughed and carried on about it so many times that the Good Chief brought him into the police station for questioning.

“Ah, he ain’t got shit an he knows it,” Johnny said that evening at Sandy’s. “Just like always, he wants to bring me in and be the big man, try an make it look like he’s doin’ shit, but he’s got his head so far up his own ass he’s deaf an blind.”

We were sitting at one of the back tables, and since Johnny had guided me back there when we got there I hoped he was looking to talk about my other criminal enterprise.

“Anyway,” he lowered his voice, hunched over his fifth or sixth beer, “I been talkin’ to some people about what you said. You figure anything else out yet ‘bout it?”

“Yeah, I’ve got a couple more details worked out, but we’re going to need supplies and shit like that. I haven’t made up a full list yet.”

“Well shit, man, you better get to gettin’. We’ve got just a little over a month before the whole festival thing happens, and after that we’re gonna have to wait a whole other year. I don’t know about you, but I bills to pay fucker.”

“Yeah, I know. Look, how many guys do you think we can get? I mean, I’m new at this, but the more guys we get involved the more it’s going cost us, right? Splitting the take and all that.”

“Splittin’ the take. Listen to you, tryin’ to sound like a goddamn pro. Yeah, that’s usually how it works. I mean, I’m still tryin’ to figure out how you get all that shit when you’ve got crowds of people everywhere.”

“That, strangely, I have worked out.” Hopefully.
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03

12 2011

The Corner: Chapter Five

Chapter Five

I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that Greg Marshall turned out the way he did. Granted, if I had a Dad like the Good Chief I’d be a complete fuck-up too. Growing up in a small town where your Dad is the chief of police would be bad enough, and that plus him being a holier than thou Bible-thumper must do wonders for your popularity. Young Gregory soon found a way around that stigma by doing things to prove he was cool, like vandalism and selling drugs.

Hence, G-Rock.

I’d imagine it’s the kind of thing that can make family dinner a little awkward. “Gee son, how was your day at school” “Well, don’t you remember Dad? You caught me with a dime bag during a random locker search.”

Since graduating a couple of years ago he and his two minions moved into one of the houses on the outskirts of town so as to expand on their criminal activities. They didn’t bother with having jobs or doing anything to account for they made their living and it was only a matter of time before they caught the attention of the Sheriff’s Office or the State Police. At that point Daddy won’t be able to turn a blind eye to it anymore.

It’s funny. You’d think that the Good Chief was enough of a hypocrite that he’d want a little cut of his son’s operation. No, he was above all of that. He’d rather take $100s to forget about speeding tickets and make sure that the flag was protected from gays than dip into sinfulness like that.

I’m sure Greg was as thrilled at the notion of driving his father nuts with a stunt like this as I was. After watching the Good Chief argue with camera crews and refuse to give any statements, I headed home to send my regards to G-Rock and congratulate him on a job well done. My high had been lessened a bit my the Good Chief’s thoughtless forgetfulness but it had been replaced by the high of my first attempt at organized chaos going so smoothly.

When I decided to get this whole thing started I’d figured the internet would probably be the best way to get in touch with Greg, and finding him online had turned out to be no trouble at all. Greg loved pimping himself out on the various social networking sites and included plenty of thinly veiled references to his misspent youth and current money-making enterprises.

Once I found him I created a generic email account, set up a mostly empty profile and sent him a message. It took a little doing, but I finally got a response

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26

11 2011

The Corner: Chapter Four

Chapter Four

I woke up that morning in my hallway. My pants were around my ankles and for a minute I thought I’d wet myself. I wasn’t mad or grossed out, just filled with the resigned disappointment you get when you realize you’re a grown adult that’s pissed on himself. There’s nothing you can do other than just look down and go “Well, I thought I was better than that. Guess not.” It’s a bizarre mix of humbling and liberating.

I realized that I hadn’t pissed myself and had a dim recollection of finally making my way home, loosening my pants and trying to walk my way out of them. Not a high degree of difficulty when you’re sober, but when you’re as drunk as I was it requires a level of dexterity only found in your Olympic athletes. What I’d mistaken for piss was in fact the moisture my pants and legs hand picked up from crawling around in the woods in the middle of the night.

I stepped out of my pants with an ease that would’ve put my drunken self to shame and looked around for the package I’d brought home last night. Rather, the package I hoped I’d remembered to bring home and not just leave in the woods. Or by the side of the road.

I didn’t get frantic when it wasn’t in the hallway. Nor when it wasn’t by the couch. Or in the kitchen. Or the bathroom. Okay, that’s a lie. Checking the bathroom was desperate, panicked mayhem. So was the tearing through piles of incredibly dirty clothes on the bedroom floor. I may have just been in my boxers and a t-shirt, but I was burning up with that sudden, frantic fever you get when things began to spiral out of control. I hadn’t felt this way, since . . . well, that just made things hotter.

I squatted down on a pile of clothes, trying to put myself back into that gibbering, gleeful drunken state I was in on the way home. It had been a while since I had felt that happy, and I had no idea what I would’ve done. Not remembering was new, and it filled me with a sick unease that it’d started just as I was setting everything in motion.

I looked up at the door across the hall from mine.

I wouldn’t have, would I? There couldn’t be enough liquor, could there be?
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05

11 2011

The Corner: Chapter Three

Chapter Three

Johnny stared at me and then burst into raucous peals of laughter. “Oh shit. Oh shit, son, that’s gotta be the funniest damn thing you ever said.” For some reason there was a wave of relief that washed over me as I watched him laugh and carry on.

“I’m serious,” I said softly. “Keep your voice down and we can talk about it later.” I’d been worried about how to bring him into the plan and having him laugh about it as opposed to dismiss it out of hand made me feel hopeful.

The last of his chuckling was drowned in a wash of beer. “C’mon, how’s a guy like you, a pizza-throwin’ college boy, gonna come up with something like that?”

“Because I’m smart.”

He stopped, glass halfway to the table.

“So what the fuck does that make me, huh?”
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29

10 2011

The Corner: Chapter Two

Chapter Two

I’d settled into my post-Corner life quite nicely. Waking up early is 10am. Late is dusk. I got the house in the divorce, which managed to be amicable since we didn’t have to see each other. You’ve got to love no fault divorce laws. The place has seen better days, but haven’t we all?

I try not to spend too much time in the house, which doesn’t have as much to do with the smell or the mess as you’d think. It was cute little place once upon a time and I remember how absolutely bursting with pride I was the day we bought it. I had a wife, I had a daughter, and now I owned property like a real-life grownup. I’d never thought it was going to happen, but then one day, there I was. Homeowner.

Now I take a perverse pleasure with how my outlook has begun to affect my surroundings. What once was a symbol of responsibility and stability is now a monument to giving up. It’s a small two bedroom, but it may as well just have one since there’s one room I never go near anymore. That’s a little difficult since her door is right across from my bedroom, always there and smiling at me with fairy stickers and “Monica” screaming at me in big, puffy sticker letters with soul-destroying cheerfulness.

Most nights I sleep on the couch. And by sleep I mean “drunkenly pass out.”
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21

10 2011

The Corner: Chapter One

I’ve decided to kick the dust off of here and start working on (in addition to everything else) a novel I’d started a couple of years ago and then sort of let languish. I started thinking about it again the other day and I remembered how much I really liked the idea and how I wanted to pick it back up again. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the nature of creative work on the internet and my expectations for it. The more I ponder it the more I realize that the work is the reward, nothing else. While making a living writing stuff remains my goal, for now I just want to have more things out there. I’ve had a mini-explosion of people this past weekend reading SHADOW OF THE PAST and while it made me feel great it also hit home that as it stands right now that’s all that’s out there of mine.

So let’s change that. THE ROBOZOIC AGE is still being worked on (and I’m very pleased with how it’s turning out), but since prose fiction is one man band I decided to keep working on this next novel, called THE CORNER, and publish it serially for free here. THE CORNER isn’t a supernatural or a horror story, but a small-town noir tale of crime and revenge that asks “What happens to a man when he loses everything good in his life and what lengths will he go to try find peace in his broken life?” At this point I’m thinking we’ll see new chapters every week.

So without further ado, THE CORNER
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20

10 2011