Monday, February 6, 2012

Writing Sample: "Mr. Cleo"

I normally wouldn't do three posts in a row with samples of my writing, but I thought this story deserved to be posted on my blog.  Like most of my writing samples, this came out of a 10-word prompt at the Creative Copy Challenge -- today's.  These are pieces I put together as improvised as possible, just to keep my creative juices flowing  (my more 'serious' and refined pieces I send out for consideration of publication -- should any ever get published, I'll of course link you to them so you may read them at the publisher's site).

But the CC challenge prompts are fun to do, even when they turn out a little...  different, like today's.

The words from today were:

  1. Fidget
  2. Carnal
  3. Floodgates
  4. Ensconced – To settle (oneself) securely or comfortably; To place or conceal in a secure place
  5. Gaseous
  6. Alacrity – Cheerful willingness; eagerness
  7. Callipygian – pertaining to or having finely developed buttocks
  8. Taco 
  9. Grouch
  10. Foreskin

 I'm not sure how these words led to today's story.  It's edgy and dark at first but evolves into a bit of a dog story...   For 1,100 words that came up off-the-cuff and spur-of-the-moment, I think it has some promise.

Feel free to tell me what do you think -- comments and feedback are always welcome.


Jonas stood on the cracked concrete of the patio slab, watching his young son and daughter play with a scampering dog that had wandered into the yard.  The sun was bright and a gentle breeze came from the west, blowing away the stench of the tire factory up the road -- a vile, gaseous haze that normally blanketed the run-down trailer park that Jonas now called home. 
He shut his eyes and looked up, breathing deeply. The giddy laughter of the kids, the playful yip of the lab-mix stray, the fresh breeze, and the sun's warmth on his face made Jonas smile.  It was almost enough to make him forget the dark hatred and rage which dominated him, festering and simmering, deeply ensconced in his heart.
Almost.  But not quite.
He opened his eyes and looked at the kids, watching them run, and thought of their mother, making the familiar floodgates open up, blurring his vision and bringing a deluge of disgusting images and vile emotions.
The bitch.  He knew what she was up to.
While the kids were here with him on one of the few visitations Karen had actually allowed to take place, she was probably off on a carnal escapade with her worthless loser, riding him so often she might as well be his second foreskin.
It wasn't enough that she'd taken everything Jonas had in the divorce.  He just knew she was going to leave too; run off with her new bastard in a fit of slutty alacrity, taking the kids as she happily followed the jerk from one dead-end job to the next.
Jonas clenched his fists and swore it would never happen.
Jonas looked down and saw seven-year-old Stephanie smiling up at him, her younger brother Jeffrey behind her, and the dog lying in the grass, panting in the shade next to the rusty trailer.
"Are we going to eat lunch soon?" Stephanie said.
"We're hung-gery," Jeffery added in his toddler diction.
"Sure," Jonas said.  "I've got the stuff in the fridge.  How about we have an all-you-can-eat family taco-fest?"
Stephanie smiled and nodded.  Jeffery clapped his hands and yelled, "Yay, I love tat-cos!"
"Well, go on in and get washed up and we'll get busy cooking."
"What about Cleo?" Stephanie said. 
"Cleo?" Jonas said. 
Stephanie pointed to the dog.  Jonas didn't think it looked like a Cleo.  For one thing it was male, but it was also scruffy and distinctly non-regal as it licked itself noisily.  
"Can we keep him?" Stephanie asked, her eyes pleading.
"Please?" Jeffery added.  "Keep him?"
Jonas could feel himself start to fidget -- his right foot shuffled a loose piece of concrete while he avoided the gaze of the kids. It was going to be hard enough to do what needed to be done without including some innocent dog.  Karen wouldn't care about the damn dog, and all that mattered was paying her back, making her hurt as much as he'd been hurt.
But he had to tell the kids something and he didn't want to be a grouch about it.  He needed to keep them calm and everything light and happy.
"We'll see," he lied.  "He may belong to someone in the park and will go on home, but if he's still here after lunch then we'll think about it.  Now get inside and wash up."
The kids ran over to pet the dog one last time, then climbed the cinderblock steps and went into the trailer.  Jonas exhaled heavily and leaned over, putting hands on his knees as his heart raced.  He was losing his resolve.
Then another image of Karen popped into his head.  Jonas pictured her callipygian figure swaying as she wiggled on her knees, her head bouncing up and down in the loser's lap.  The blood surged into Jonas's head, blinding his vision and steeling his heart.
Damn her, it had to be done.
He stood up and walked towards the metal shed that leaned, bent and dented, at the back of the lot.  Inside was the gasoline.
"You shouldn't do it."
Startled, Jonas whirled, looking to see where the voice had come from.  It was male, deep, and firm, but calm, and seemed to come from every direction.  No-one was in sight.  The trailer door was shut and the kids were inside, and Jonas couldn't see another person in any of the lots around him.
The only living thing in sight was the dirty black dog which sat at his feet, looking up at him.
"Don't do it," the voice said again.  The dog licked his chops and looked intently at Jonas.
"Who said that?" Jonas said, looking to his sides and then gazing down at the dog. "You?"
The dog whined lightly and stood up, wagging its tail slowly.
"It's not right," the voice said.  "You don't want to hurt them -- you're not that kind of a guy.  You're just messed up with grief and anger."
The dog's mouth didn't move, but his eyes never left Jonas.
"What?" Jonas said.  His chest felt constricted; it was hard to pull breath into his lungs. 
"Forget what you were thinking," the voice said. "Let go of the anger.  This is no way to deal with it.  Things will get better -- trust me."  The dog stood up on his hind legs and put his front paws on Jonas's chest.  "Put it behind you.  Let it go." 
Jonas's vision narrowed and his head throbbed.  He felt like the wind had picked up and was swirling in around him, but the grass and the dog's fur did not move.  Then there was a flash of light and Jonas collapsed to the ground, blackness sweeping in to swallow him.
He came to with the dog licking his face.  He heard the door on the trailer slam.
"Dad!" Stephanie called.  "Are you alright?"  She and Jeffery ran up to him as he pushed himself up to a sitting position.  The dog yipped and wagged its tail briskly.
Jonas looked at the faces of his two children, then at the panting dog.  It seemed to be smiling.  For some reason, Jonas found himself smiling too.  He couldn't remember the last time he felt so at ease.
"Yes," he said, "I'm fine.  I think I must have blacked out for a while."  He paused.  "For a long while..."  Then he reached out and grabbed the kids and pulled them close in a tight hug.  "But I'm back now."  He let them go and looked at their smiling faces.  "C'mon, let's go have those tacos."
He stood up. The kids giggled and the dog yipped again.
"Yeah, you too," Jonas said, looking down at the black dog, its mouth open and tongue flopping out sideways. "Looks like you've found yourself a home, Mr. Cleo."

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