Friday, September 17, 2010

A Little Ghost Rock

Hey, all. How about a taste of the novel? Here's the first couple of pages. This is, of course, copyright 2010, Sean Craven, etc. As if I had to say.

Lemme know if it works. I'm feeling the fear. Yes, this is a bit pathetic, but right now that's where I'm at. I have worked so hard on this that it's lost all meaning and I have no judgment and I want to get it the hell off my plate. So I can write my sleazy unicorn princess novel.

Gracious Lifestyles of the Golden West
Ghost Rock

San Costas was a California paradise, bikini-clad and fragrant with coconut oil, and it made my ass tired. Coming back from the afternoon run to the post office, downtown was packed. I took little steps through the crowd, white plastic bin held in front of me. It was filled with mail addressed to Sharpe’s, the department store where I worked as a janitor. It was hot late autumn, the sky full of sun, so a lot of people were tourists, here for the boardwalk and the surfing. Others were students from the university. Everyone was pretty. I felt like a slum on legs.

As I crossed the street, I heard a young woman’s voice – voices? – raised in song. It caught me, made me feel short of breath. It was one voice singing two notes, or two voices harmonizing with inhuman perfection. The voice grew louder, the air thick and too clear, as though I was embedded in glass. I couldn’t see who was singing; traffic blocked my vision. I stepped up onto the curb and set the basket down. My hands shook so badly I might have dropped it.

I stared down at the mail in the bin as every sound but the voice grew distant, dug my thumbs into the hollows between jaw and ears, felt an itch burn and vanish as something inside shifted with an intimate gurgle, drained down the back of my throat, made me cough.

Once I got back to work, I went to Deirdre’s office to tell her what had happened. “It was intense. Total vertigo. I thought I was gonna pitch over into traffic.” We were in the shadowy narrow end of the display department in the basement at Sharpe’s. I leaned against a pillar made out of concrete and redwood gone black with age. Deirdre’s drafting lamp lit up a row of decorated coffee cans that held hundreds of felt-tip pens. “You know how it is when you’re on a long drive and you’ve been doing a slow rise and all of a sudden your ears pop?”

“And you realize you haven’t heard anything clearly for miles.” Deirdre snapped her nicotine gum. She didn’t smoke at work. Dressed in a pair of black-and-white check clamdiggers and a vintage Star Wars T-shirt, she was neither thick nor thin. Her build was a reminder that regular girl was a damned good idea. With her pale skin and freckles she looked as though she’d been carved out of vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with cinnamon. We’d been friends for three years, shared a house for more than a year, and it still killed me to look at her.

I pushed off the pillar. “Exactly. My ears are still real freaky. I swear, I feel like I’ve never heard anything before in my life.” I grabbed my hands behind my back and stretched until my shoulders cut loose with a pair of nice gristly pops. I could hear the meatiness, the flow from muscle to tendon to bone. It was a new sense, sight and touch at once. “It’s like there’s some sound under everything else, and I keep listening for it. It’s gonna drive me nuts.”

“Matt, why didn’t you go and see who was singing?”

“I wanted to, but when I checked the clock on the bank I was twenty minutes late. I’ll go look for her after work. Speaking of which.” I lifted the lid of Deirdre’s garbage can. A multicolored wad of construction paper gave off fumes from Spray-Mount. I sealed the lid carefully. “’fore I take off, what’s up with Lulu?”

Deirdre spun in her chair. “I haven’t heard anything since she told James she was in Berkeley. She should be here by now.” She dropped her voice, put a sexy huskiness in her tone. “You’ll like her. She’s cute.”

Whenever she told me about a new woman in our circle of acquaintance, Deirdre always said, ‘She’s cute,’ in that eager tone, cheering me on, letting me know she had faith in me, that it was time to give a hundred and ten per cent. So as not to let down the team. I just wish I knew what the fuck she expected me to do. “I’m looking forward to meeting her.”

“Thanks for being cool with her staying.”

“It’s your and James’s house,” I said. If Lulu was as cute as Deirdre said, this was going to be fucking torture. She’d be sleeping in the living room, sharing my bathroom… “Y’all can do what you want.”

“You pay rent, you get a say.” Deirdre stopped fidgeting. “Matt, I really am worried about her. I can’t get her cell. And she gets into some flakey stuff sometimes. Jesus, you should have seen her last boyfriend.”

“Well, that was back in Chicago, right?” Lulu and Deirdre had met when Deirdre studied sculpture at the Chicago Art Institute. Lulu was a composer and electronic musician from Tennessee. Given this information, my mind constructed a composite of Wendy Carlos and Dolly Parton, a brilliant artist with a sweet nature and a figure ripe enough to be a little silly. She made an excellent imaginary potential girlfriend. “Listen, you can’t do anything but wait. She said she’s coming.”


robp said...

You realize, of course, that only an insane person would try to rip this off and continue your book. Oh, wait, this isn't the crazy part. Someone could conceivably write something sane with this as the beginning. It just wouldn't be nearly as good as what you've written.

EFKelley said...

Should I expect that we'll be seeing the finished product in Vegas? Hoping so. Go go!

Sean Craven said...

Heh. Rob, one of my minor obsessions is the idea that while I've tried hard to do something genuinely mind-roasting, I've wound up writing an absolutely standard coming-of-age story. But now that I think of it, it does get a little nutsy down the line.

Eric, hopefully I'll be done by then. I'll want to do a plot session for the next novel, which right now looks like it'll be a worked-up version of my wall story from Viable Paradise.

Basically, I came up with a mess of scenes I am just itching to write, and the conscious part of my mind is saying, "You have a Shakespeare-influenced romantic fantasy with dragons and unicorns and princes and princesses and power politics and rich people having lots of kinky sex, and it's a story you actually want to write. This situation sounds like a series of checks waiting to arrive in the mail."

Might have to use a pseudonym for that one, because it will be pure-D trash. Turns out technical virgins work on unicorns. This shit's going to be hilarious.

Sean Craven said...

The princess is a psychotic badass, the prince is a greasy fop with a snake up his nose, and both of their families are impatiently waiting for them to kill their spouse.

It will be love that fucks everything up...