Sunday, January 03, 2016

A Work In Progress

This isn't the opening to the novel I'm currently working on. It's a novella I started a few years ago and shelved to work on The Dead Sheriff, The Dead Earth books and some other stuff. I like the story and hope to finish it in 2016. Feel free to leave feedback in the comments section. This is the first page and a half of what is a 45 page manuscript. So far.

Dale Hewitt heard the sounds the first night he lived in the house.
            This was after the moving men left in the truck that spewed vile blue smoke like a rolling factory, and after his old friend Brody had finished the last slice of pizza before hitting the road. Brody gave him a man hug, patting Dale on the back and bumping shoulders. Brody belched, then departed, trailing the odor of pepperoni and banana peppers as he went out the door.
            Dale cleaned up in the kitchen (actually, he tossed the pizza box and the paper plates and the empty cans of Mountain Dew; cleaning the kitchen would commence after he unpacked the kitchen) and stood for a long time staring out of the small window above the sink. The unfamiliar backyard was barely visible through Dale’s reflection. In the twilight shadows, he made out the shape of a big maple tree and the beginning of the hill that climbed to the sky.
            He felt like crying.
            He wasn’t sure why, but he didn’t have to search far for reasons: the impending divorce, the events that led to the end of his marriage, moving back to his father’s house. Okay, technically he hadn’t moved back anywhere. Dale didn’t grow up in the house and had only visited a handful of times since his dad sold the old place and moved here a couple of years back. The house sat empty for almost six months after his father passed away and now Dale stood in his father’s kitchen, looking at his father’s backyard and feeling untethered from everyone and everything.
            It was a notion he would have embraced when he was 18. At 38, it produced tightness in his chest and the early tickle of a panic attack. His doctor had given him a prescription for Alprazolam, but the bottle was stowed away in a suitcase or his duffle. Dale leaned on the sink and closed his eyes. Taking deep, slow breaths, he tried to break down the reasons for his anxiety.
            That’s easy. You’ve never been alone.
            It was true. He had moved from his parents’ house—the one he actually grew up in—to the dorm at WVU. He met Renee in his sophomore year and they became inseparable. The marriage was the day after graduation, and they moved into a crappy little apartment in Morgantown, while he snapped up all the substitute teaching gigs he could find and she started part-time as a dental hygienist.  After he got on full-time at the elementary school, they saved up the down payment and moved into a small two bedroom home in an old and quiet neighborhood. It was a great time in their lives. Dale had never been happier than in those early years, struggling to meet the mortgage and having candlelight dinners of cheeseburgers from Dairy Queen. Life was so good then that Dale even half-joked to Renee one night about waiting for the other shoe to drop. She wasn’t amused.


Matt Cowan said...

Excellent as always, Mark. I like the set up and want to know what it is he's hearing in the house and what happened to end his marriage. There are hints that the theme of someone dealing with loneliness for the first will play a big part. Perhaps learning secrets in the house of a father he rarely spent time with, as we'll. There's a lot of different ways it can go, and I'd love to read the whole thing when it's ready.

Mark Justice said...

Thanks again, Matt. As I said in the post, I really hope to get back to this soon. I like the story and it also introduces a character that may be recurring.