My good friend and writing buddy, Amber West, issued a challenge. It goes like this:
1. Go to page 77 of your current MS.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines (sentences or paragraphs) and post them as they’re written.
4. Tag 7 writers and let them know.
Like her, I’m going to ignore #4. And like her, the thought of this makes me slightly ill. So, if you’re a writer, please don’t leave us hanging. Link up and join us! (If you’re not up to page 77, just chose another section).
By way of distracting you after you’ve read my clip (Hey! Look over there!), don’t miss the most excellent musical interlude following my fiction outtake. Because really… how often do you get to hear “Beat It” played on an accordian?
Greg waits for an answer. The others watch, tense, yet relieved they don’t need to say anything. They wear bravado like they’ll wear their uniforms, a fabric that itches and begs to be torn off. But the exposure of the tearing, of the ridicule, of jail-time, of joining those guitar-strumming, druggies… could they?
I shrug. “Any of you ever handled a gun?”
“Sure, at the range.” “Yeah, man, grew up hunting.” “Isn’t that what boot camp is for?”
The guys shift weight, trying to look unconcerned. One blew a low, long whistle at the mini-skirted co-eds walking past. I look along with the rest, appreciating the view. It breaks the tension and buys me more time. Another offers us all a smoke, shaking the cigarettes free down the opening. My old man smokes, so I don’t.
“What about you, Bobby? Ever fired a weapon?”
I decide to play cool. “Once. I held a piece and made like I was threatened. I was just a kid.” I trail off and the guys whistle again, distracted.
The scene runs through my mind like yesterday’s matinee. I was 13. He was drunk and ripping up the house again. But this time, when he yanked open his desk drawer, it was empty. He reared back, cursing, and lunged towards mom. This was his typical move, to beat his self-loathing into her. Once, he’d put her in the hospital for a week. He usually stopped after he fired a bullet, shocking himself sane. If you look behind any picture on the wall, you’ll find holes. This time, without this punctuation, he cornered her for round two. I yelled at him to stop, but he spun around and caught my head on the side with his fist. I fell backwards against the wall, feeling blood from the corner of my eye. Mom screamed and he turn back to her, pinning her head back with one giant hand and squaring himself to punch her again. His back was to me, so I crawled around to the corner then dizzily stood and raced to my room, pulling his gun from between my mattresses. It felt smooth and heavy and final. I took a deep breath, heard another punch land and a grunt as mom slid down. Back in the living room, I tried to stand tall, ignoring the trickle of blood down my face. I extended my arm and said his name as calmly as I could. “Hey, Carl!” And I cocked the gun.