June 09, 2005


The lovely Christina has once again started another project. She calls this "Take Two," and here's the concept: A brief scenario or sketch is presented, then interpreted by each of the writers who, in turn, write a short story based on the sketch that is not to exceed 1,000 words.

This week's fellow participants and their stories:

Dash from The Boiling Point offers "Surviving In The Projects."
Guy S from Snugg Harbor submits "Tadpole."
Joe from Cadillac Tight gives us "Alex's story."
Konstantin from Dystropia presents "Broken Glass."

Some great versions of the starting sketch, with a few twists!

The scenario: A group of kids are playing a pick up game. The ball flies over the fence into the forbidden lands. The smallest child is "elected" to squeeze through a couple of loose boards in the fence. With apprehension, the child goes to retrieve the ball.

Simple, right? Uh, no. For being as reserved with words as I am, I sure as hell put alot on the paper! Took forever to shorten it up, and a suggestion from Christina, but ....
here it goes...

June 10, 2005

Fear. It culls the weak from the strong. Exposes the cowards and the brave. Fear can destroy, and it doesn't just affect the one who fears; it can have an effect on those surrounding them. As I've found recently, my family is an example of the last.

I'm named after an uncle that I've never met. He died in a fiery accident when he was eighteen. I've never heard ill spoken of him as he was a local hero.

Marc seemed to have the world in the palm of his hand at the time of his death. While a great running back, he was known as the fiercest linebacker in the conference, and several large schools had offerred him a full ride. Folks say that he played like a man possessed. Perhaps they were more correct than they could realize.

After my mother's funeral last week, I was going through her belongings when I found a letter stashed inside an old family Bible. My grandmother's. The letter was worn and tear stained, and when I carefully opened it, I read the words of my former uncle.

Dear Mom,

I'm sorry, and I owe you an explanation. John's been telling me that I need to talk to you for a long time now, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Do you remember that guy who got beat to death at the Dover house? Just a few months before John's accident? I'm the one who did it.

We had been playing ball with the Denoto twins, Bodway, Ski, and Brayton. Bout the time for us to go home, Paluski smacked the ball a good one, and over the fence it went. Right by the Dover house. Us kids were scared to death of the place because we thought it was haunted. And when you told us to keep away from there, we knew. We had all seen the lights and the shape that stood by the windows.

Well, the other guys took off. I made John go get it. He fit the easiest through the fence. He didn't want to go, but it was our ball, and we didn't want a whippin, so I finally got him to go. When he couldn't find it right away, I went to help. I started to look around on the backside of the house when John yelled that he found the ball, but he was stuck under the porch. Then he started screaming.

I ran around the corner, and saw a huge guy holding John. I had my bat, and I ran at him and hit him. I think it was in the side. He made a weird squealing hiss, and I really got scared. I started to swing like crazy. Next thing I knew, I was in the house, and he was on the floor. He had finally stopped that hissing noise. He didn't make any noise at all. John and I ran, and hid the bat in the cupola on top of the barn.

John later told me that he thought the guy was trying to help him, but just scared him when he picked him up. And then we found out who he was, and that he was dead. We wanted to tell someone, but we were too scared. John almost did. That's how he had the accident. We started fighting about it and I knocked him out of the haymow. I didn't mean to do it.

John has been bugging me every night to tell you. I can't stand it anymore. He looks deader and sadder each night. Now you know. I'm sorry, Mom. Really sorry.

Please forgive me.


Folding the letter back up, tucking it back in the Bible, I felt sick. It became clear in that instant that Marc had not had an "accident." The town hero, the man I tried to emulate, overwhelmed by guilt, had offed himself.

I thought of the stories that the old timers told. The man he had beaten to death was a nephew of the Dovers, a mute, and may have been a little slow. Some of the townspeople looked after him, and tried to keep him from the public eye. Fear of those that are different often leads to hatred, and they had hoped to protect him.

I thought of Marc's onus of fear and guilt. It had continued to grow. John's accident? He broke his neck when he was knocked out of the barn by Marc. 10 years old, he was. Imagine Marc's mind; 13 years old and dealing with two murders, one of them your little brother.

My grandmother, and later my mother, had known. Why had they kept silent? They were afraid. But fear takes it's toll. My grandmother died only five years after Marc passed. I was only two at the time, my grandma unknown. She was 44, but she looked well into her sixties. It must have been hard to keep that secret.

In some ways, I hold Marc responsible for her death, too, but she's the one who chose to carry the load in his stead. I can understand her silence. Our family didn't have much, but we were well known and respected in our community. She was afraid to lose everything.

As for me, I've been indecisive. I feel as if I should get this out in the open, but I, too, have a reputation at stake. I am now the mayor of this town. Another one of the family giving in to fear.

Since my discovery, John visits me in the darkness of night, and all those other moments when I am alone with my thoughts. He says nothing, but in his eyes I see his silent reproach.

Posted by That 1 Guy at June 9, 2005 11:09 PM | TrackBack