Thursday, April 10, 2008

stories are important

I've been working on this and have almost given up on the idea of making it any less bad. I hope you enjoy your time with my tale and let me know what you would change. I put this shit up for you to read and the main way for me to get any better is for someone, anyone to help me out. A writer is no one without a reader.

High thoughts in low times.

by Redmond Wallace

My bedroom’s getting wet, the young woman said.

Fraid that won’t be all, her father replied. He walked back to the truck to get his binoculars, dragging his left leg behind him. A bullet shattered his hip in Kuwait and the operation shortened his left leg an inch.

He looked at the far side of the bloated river. It had rained for a week and the sun was finally coming through.

Looks like Fowley lost his dock,

His daughter watched the water creep up the side of her house. She had tried to get everything but her mind had not been working right since she had left Memphis. She bemoaned the quilt her great-grandmother had given her. I was probably worrying about the damn T.V.

It ain’t easy not knowing. That’s the whole fucking problem with life. You know what you should have done after you didn’t. It’s just dumb luck or the good Lord when you get anything right in this forsaken place.

How you doing Mr. Sykes, Mumps Black asked. He lived in Old Joe and was dry.

I’ve been better.

You’re here and many people ain’t.

I guess I can be thankful I get a chance to rebuild all that shit.

You always hated that house.

They watched the water come up through his daughter’s car.

How’s she doing? That’s a whole lot of living for anyone to bear.

They say its better than dying but we could be wrong. Maybe that’s why ain’t nobody come back from there.

Please don’t be true. They heard Typhus’s daughter cry out.

Pappa, I think.. I can’t remember…I left my photo album on the table. I was grabbing it to make sure it got in your truck and then I forgot cause I was thinking about something or other and I don’t care since those pictures is from when Jalen was a baby. Them were the pictures I look at when I want to… She looked at Mumps. They all knew she left Memphis to get away from drugs and the men who carried them but she could not talk about it with such a decent fellow around. You know what I’m saying Daddy.

The water ain’t that high on your place yet and the rain stopped. We may have something to be thankful for. Besides, you might have put them pictures some place safe. It could have been one of those subconscious things.

Typhus was not much for consoling words. He had stopped drinking whiskey and his insanity of yore had died down but he could never understand his daughter.

Y’all want to come up and stay at my place tonight. We can stay in the garage and June Lynn can sleep inside. I’m sure my wife would welcome the company. You ain’t gonna get nothing done here but watching until that river comes back down. We just went to the store so I got plenty of beer drink and I got some backstraps left from a deer Victoria shot in the fall.

What if some of those fools from town come and try to take folks’ stuff down here like they did down in New Orleans. I aim to shoot them if they do. I ain’t got much left and I’d prefer not to lose it too.

Mumps looked at the boats and tractors scattered around the high ground. The sun burned comfortably in the distance and the washed blue sky made the river sound less angry. Small streams rilled down the stone hills in the gullies worn by the torrents of earlier.

You’ve gotta get out of here and not worry for a few hours. I know you need to get off that bum leg of yours.

It sounds nice.

I’ll go ask Coby and Fran if they’ll keep an eye out. June walked up the road to where a small house overlooked the flooded valley. She was scared of going to town because she knew that all she wanted was clear the pain. The dope dealer would give it to her in the name of kindness when they both knew it was a trick. There were so few people in town and they all knew each other’s story, or at least, thought they did. Going with Mumps would be bad but she could not stop herself

Hi June Lynn.

Hey Mr. Coby. Mumps was trying to stay in town with him but daddy’s all bothered that some dumb kids are gonna come down here and take the only things we got out of that damn house. I was wondering if y’all can make sure nothing foolish happens.

Mr. Coby stepped through his screen door with a cigarette in his mouth, wearing a pair of cut off slacks, holding a revolver. I ain’t letting nobody touch nothing down here that don’t belong to them.

You ain’t going to shoot nobody are you?

That’s up to them.

Well, don’t go hurting someone on account of what I got piled up. Typhus might tell you different but he’s a damned fool.

You go get you some rest and we’ll clean this mess up in a day or so. They say he river’s gonna drop faster than an elephant shit when it comes around to it.

Thank y’all. Thanks Mrs. Fran.

June climbed into the passenger’s side of her dad’s truck without seeing how much further the river had come. There ain’t a drat thing I could do but be more upset, she told herself.

They rode to town, stopping at the store for cigarettes and a book for June Lynn to read. She never read before but since she came back from Memphis and left Jalen in Jonesboro with his aunt and uncle she found she could forget about getting high while she was caught in words. The store had a library that was two bookcases of dusty paperbacks and an Encyclopedia Britannica from the 70s. Most of the pictures were missing from when kids used them for school projects but it housed the greater body of knowledge for Galatia for some time.

After finding a haggard copy of Little Women, they drove down the gray asphalt to a place in a bowl below the top of one of the eroded Ozarks, once mighty now a land of mythical hillbillies and forest dwellers.

Behind the endless nights of rain, an early spring day gusted in. Colors dormant through the long and evil season reappeared. The first down tendrils of green were shooting from the soiled covered rock. June Lynn checked herself in a compact prior to hopping out of the truck to see Mrs.Victoria Black.

I’m sorry to hear about y’all’s place. It always seems like bad luck follows folks that is already trying to get back up.

You look lovely Mrs. Black.

I like your shoes.

I had to change into something besides those muddy boots I was wearing earlier. Everything is all junked up down there.

Three sat in the garage while Mumps busied himself with the grill.

Mrs. Black smoked a long cigarette. Typhus opened another can of beer.

You were right, Mumps, I needed to get out of that place and sit in this nice garage of yours.

It ain’t done yet. I’m hoping to get most of the junk upstairs and move my shop into here. Damn fuel is getting outrageous and it’d be a lot better if I didn’t have to drive 30 miles every time I wanted to get something done. I tell you what, some son of a bitch is making a lot of money while them boys are dying. It ain’t right.

I don’t know if nothing’s right about politics. I stopped voting after I got back from Kuwait. It don’t make a damn what we think. Folks is gonna run as ragged and we can’t do a damn thing about it. I know I’m supposed to stand up for myself but I got a screwed up hip from doing that and I’m tired. It’s enough to worry about how I’m gonna live another day, much less all these rich people problems they got us fighting for.

I’m gonna go for a walk. All this talk of fighting and whatnot ain’t causing me to forget about water in my bedroom.

June Lynn picked up her book and stepped through the door closest to the old house. She had taken to finding a quiet spot in the valley to read her books. The fresh breeze lifting off of the talking river would pass past her as she would sit on a sand pile among a stand of cane. Away from the grim sounds of the city and the cat calling dealers and the glittering stench, she could wrap herself in the comfort of another story and the sounds of a world without people.

She walked up the driveway and turned left, away from town. She knew the road well for the McKenzies lived down the way and Carlton went to school with her. His mobile home appeared through the naked trees and she could tell that Carlton was no different from when she last saw him. The same cars were in the same state of disembowelment.

Get in here you dumb shit. Momma Mckenzie yelled at an old pit-bull mix that yelped when smacked it with the backside of her hand.

June could smell the sick and alluring smell of cyrstal cooking in the shed.

You think June’s gonna be all right out there. That damn MckNezie boy ain’t up to no good and she looks awful wore down.

I don’t know Mumps. She’s got her mother’s strength but I ain’t sure if the drugs is stronger’n that or not. I won’t lie. I’m worried but she’s a grown woman and she’s got to face this on her own. I’ve got, or did, a place for her to stay but that’s about all I can do.

June Lynn stepped behind a thick trunked Chestnut and eyed the comings of goings of the house she knew well. Carlton was in a fit, darting from the shed, searching through heaps of alternators, wheels, bolts, grills, bikes, junk and more junk for whatever it was to attack his newest problem.

He had always been a tinkerer but when he was hopped, jacked, and twisted he hell bent on diabolique invention of useless proportion. He made match-fired boats, smoke proof pipes, magnificently efficient can holders. He would someday make the machine that would save humanity, he swore.

Muttering and scowling, he pulled bits of wire out of the part pile.

She had little sense that this was going on. A hung-over smog of chemical need was pressing in upon her world. All she wanted was to feel right.

She turned and sat down. The ground was soft of moss and mud. A car roared in the distance and birds twittled around. She sat and thought how much she wanted to flick a lighter and feel herself evaporate.

And the world proceeded with its boring talk of tequila and basketball. The news of lives under duress was not anything worth a damn to the people avoiding a world falling apart. What should they care in a time with doomsday devices and explosive plagues? They lost themselves in a digitized space with stories of happiness and fictional depravity.

A family on vacation from Kansas City drove to the original house of Gallatia on its open purchase well above the river bounding through the trailers. The son pulled out his new camera, feeling something for the hillbillies’ homes but mostly he was a spectator in the dramatics of Nature.

You could get a boat for real cheap of you wanted to go swimming.

I bet you could just wait down river and catch one.

We have a boat, Carl, what would we do with someone else’s. Besides, they look like they use theirs more than we ever do.

The tired man sat with the husband and wife, chewing his food.

That’s a damn fine piece if meat. I wish you hadn’t wasted it on me.

The Lord has blessed us through the kindness of others and I only hope to return the favor.

Well, I appreciate it and I’m sure June will be thrilled at her plate whenever she gets back. I hope it ain’t too long from now. I’m tired.

I don’t imagine you slept much last night.

I tried to lay down for a minute but that rain kept banging away on the roof, reminding me it was coming for me. I just went ahead and made a pot of coffee and did the best I could. I think June slept okay but she’s been doing a lot of that since she got back.

You’re supposed to rest when your sick and she had a spiritual ailment. I’m worried. Should we go look for her?

She’s a grown woman and I told her that I think me and her momma did a pretty good job raising her. She should know how to make a few good choices now and again. If she don’t… then maybe I wasn’t the father I should have been.

She could taste the glass, feel the smoke, hear the burn as she watched the blue sky drain to red. Flickering shadows swung over the street, bats dancing in the darkness. The tree frogs set to clamoring and she watched a possum scample down the embankment on the near side of the asphalt that turned blue in the light of a new night.

How sad and funny you are.

Her voice startled her. With so much going on in her head, she forgot that she lived in the world with the possum, the Mckenzies, and her father. The possum stopped at her voice, looked up, and scooted a few yards until it found a chicken bone. It sniffed and picked at the decaying animal, hoping that it was still edible.

June admired the efficiency of the animal and its rich coat as it cracked the bone in bits. Her stomach ached at the sound of food.

I wonder if they ate all the deer. She asked the marsupial.

June stood up, frightening the animal to run down the road with half the bone between its teeth, brushed the dirt from her jeans, and walked back to find her father snoring and a wrapped plate in the refrigerator.

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