Saturday, January 28, 2006

Home for our Meteors- Part 2 chapter 2

Chapter 2

I wake up curled around Catherine on the hood of the car. We’re fully clothed, body next to body just keeping each other warm. The first thing I hear is a tractor engine not far away, the next is Catherine breathing deeply sucking in the ice morning air. Opening my eyes that blur with the morning sun, and sparkle as they see sunshine against the dewy grass, and the vulgar dazzle against the slightly frosted car. Everything is too bright, I try to close my eyes again but the light shines through and my lids are red. I rub them as if that will darken what they can see, I look down at the bonnet; pull my jumper over my face. This is ridiculous I sit up and stare straight ahead, let my eyes face their morning foe, I look across the fields, in the distance a couple of farm houses, workers beginning their day. A few hundred yards from the farm, are a couple dozen caravans, silhouetted figures are making their way from one to another. Men and women, from where I’m sitting they look young, in their mid twenties maybe, occasionally an older figure can be made out. They’re all well wrapped up in thick coats, hats and scarves. All in all about fifty of them, and some walk in groups, some head alone, many are smoking but even the ones that aren’t leave a trail of grey clouds behind them. Eventually it seems they are all standing outside the farm, a man steps out of the main building and all attention is paid to him. I reach for Catherine’s ciggerettes, release a little tension with a violent shiver, and turn to look inside the car. Stephen is sitting in the passenger seat, hands pressed against the radiator, I press a palm against the bonnet and wonder what Stephen thinks he’s warming his hands against if the engine hasn’t been turned off. He looks up, smiles and gives me a little wave. Sliding off the bonnet, I light up and spot our empty bottle sticking neck first into a haystack about fifteen feet away from the car. I walk around to the passenger side as Stephen winds down the window.

“You have to turn the engine on,” I shout at him, over the top of the Breeders Cannonball.
“The radio’s working,” he points the car stereo in case I wasn’t sure which radio he meant. “Doesn’t that mean the engine is on?”

“No, if the engine had been on me and Catherine would have been burnt along our arms.” I offer him a cig; he takes one and offers me a can of beer. I wave it off. “I think I’ll do some driving today,”

“You don’t know how to drive,” He offers the can once more; I take it, pop it open and take a swig.

“I was driving last night,”

“You were? When I didn’t see you.”

“When you and Catherine were in the back,”

“Fuck yeah, sorry my head went blank. Shit that was fun, we went to an Indian restaurant, god that curry was good.” He smiles remembering the Chicken Korma he thinks he had.

“Yeah it was good,” the beer tastes good, clearing the filth from my mouth, clearing my head of any morning blues. I open up the passenger side, and motion for him to get out. “Lets take a walk up to the farm. See if they’ll let use their bathroom,”

“Don’t be stupid Daniel, they’ll take one look at us and chase us of with an air rifle.” He gets out of the car anyway as he speaks, “Beside you can just take a dump in the field, try to drop one on top of an old cow shit, so you don’t make any extra mess.”

“Right, good thinking, how long have you been up?” he looks wired already, and I don’t think it’s earlier the seven or eight.

“Not long a couple of hours, some fucking tractor rode by, noisy bastard woke me up from a really sweet dream.” Somehow Stephen still manages to look genuinely upset by the most ridiculous things, he was once caught shoplifting a Bob Dylan box set, and when the store released him he stayed miserable for days because the box set didn’t include Blonde on Blonde. He’s my friend, and I love him, but he is something of an idiot at times. This clearly being one of them, obviously I’m hung over and a little miserable but the last thing I want to hear is the dream he was having before the owner of the land we’re currently trespassing on rudely woke him up with his tractor.

He closes the car door and then leans his back against it, head tipped back so it’s touching the roof, I can see up his nostrils as he blows smoke rings that hover up above him, one, two, in a minute there are a dozen all floating inches above him, weaving in and out of one another. I watch them, he watches them, he might be controlling them, they don’t fade away, and they don’t touch skins and break into nothing.

“Are you watching this?” He asks like a kid with a new card trick. “What the fuck is going on?” He sounds like a kid whose cards are bursting into flames as he deals them.

“It’s the wind.” I turn away, and walk to the nearest fence, clamber over it and find a cow shit to piss on. It’s clear now that the fields that directly surround us are for grazing, the one I’m hoping to use as a toilet is by the road we turned off last night, and by it’s roadside fence are a ten or eleven cows standing, moving occasionally, eating some grass. They must have been here all night, but I don’t remember hearing them. In the other direction, a steep incline begins, 3 or 4 acres before it turns down. Roughly at the top parallel to this stretch of grass, dirt and hay, is the farmhouse. The workers have disappeared now, I assume over the other side of the farm, which consists of five buildings, one main house, a small cottage, three mammoth storage buildings which are probably used for milking, slaughtering and family gatherings. There’s a smaller building to the left of all of this, it looks like it was abandoned the runt of the litter, but a chimney sends smoke into the air. I don’t know what that building could be for. I find an old stale cow shit, and pull my dick out to take a piss.

As I piss onto the dark brown circle that has been turning white in the days before we
came here, I hear Catherine wake up, she lets out a large moan, and the sound of her bones cracking as she stretches catches the attention of my cow friends far off in the corner of this field. Most turn back to what they were doing before Catherine’s arm snapped into it’s waking place, but two train their gaze upon me. I smile back, and then I wave, I shake the final drops of piss from my penis, and zip myself up. The cows keep watching me, maybe they weren’t interested in my sex, and maybe they want to be friends. I watch them and they watch me, I think of all the cereal I’ve had, I think of my father barbequing his burgers last summer. He’d gotten drunk, knocked the barbeque over, it had landed on the can of gasoline he’d used to start the damn thing. The fire had been put out eventually but not before we’d lost Mum’s rose garden and half an elm tree. Of course these two cows don’t know this, they don’t even know I’ve been pissing on what could be their shit. The one nearest to me seems to shake his head and turn his head in disgust, as if he can see who I am, as if just by watching the way I urinate he knows my unlovable and don’t value his life or anyone else’s. He knows I’m wasting my life, he thinks I’m a degenerate the fucker has judged me without really knowing me. He stands in a field and eats grass all day, but he knows I’m worthless. He has that knowledge, nothing can take that away. I’m powerful but he knows my secrets. His friend however is clueless, he even begins to walk towards me, slow stupid steps, and I’m half thinking he’s going to fall over, when I hear Catherine call my name.

“Danny you dumb bastard get over here.” She yells, I turn and see she and Stephen have also made a new friend, only their friend is unlikely to ever be my fathers dinner, he drives a tractor for gods sake.

“What?” I walk over, my friends and a farmer watch me stumble over to the fence, and knowing they’re watching I climb carefully over it.

I reach the car, and the three of them are positively silent, “Hi” I say half extending my hand to shake, “Sorry” I wipe the piss off my hand and onto my jeans. Then offer my hand once more, he still ignores it. He’s younger then I’d have imagined a farmer to be, thirty-two, thirty-three at the most, his hairline receding slightly but otherwise thick bushy hair. His eyes dark, go deep into the back of his head, I wonder if he’s ever shown fear. I wonder if I could make that happen.

“This is Mark, Mark this is our friend Daniel. He had a little too much to drink last night, both my boys did, so you’ll forgive them for being so quiet.” Catherine is breathless, just woken up after smoking too much, but she’s making it charming and polite. Mark smiles down at her; he’s at least 6ft 5 and almost as broad.

“Don’t worry about it sweetheart, boys will be boys,” he speaks his clichés in the deepest heaviest voice I’ve ever heard like the echo of a baritone at the bottom of a mass grave. “I hope you were driving, wouldn’t want you kids to have gotten in an accident.”

Stephen decides to join in, “Nah Danny was driving me and Catherine were fucking in the backseat,”

Mark turns to this strange beautiful boy, blinks twice and laughs like the two barrel shot guns blowing your jaw down to Senegal. Stephen lets out a little chuckle, tilts his head to the side, and gives Mark a certain smile, which will fool him into selling his farm for a poem written on the back of betting slip.

“Fucking in the back seat, He was driving,” Mark is almost doubled over, and then points at me, “He was driving, that kid couldn’t reach the pedals.” I smile, sigh and go to the car looking for cigarettes.

“That’s fucking priceless, what’s your name? Stephen right?”

“Stephen yeah.”

“Oh god Stephen you funny fucker.”

“Only when I do it in the back of a car.”

“OH GOD OH GOD, Stop it you’re killing me,” Mark clamps one of his giant hands onto Stephen’s shoulders, his knuckle almost as big as my friends skull. I look over at Catherine who is watching me; she rolls her eyes and shrugs. And Mark’s laughter roars on as I unlock the boot of the car. Inside are our three bags, supposedly carrying everything we’re going to ever need but actually mostly filled with clothes. Squeezed between in the gaps between our belongings are four bags from the off licence, one with five bottles of whiskey, one with four bottles of vodka, and the other two with six bottles of gut rot wine, I reach into the whiskey bag and feel around the bottom for a pack of cigs, I find a carton of ten Dorchester. I unwrap them, shove the plastic wrapper back in the bag, and open up my pack. I’ll buy some tobacco in the next town we reach. I pop a cig in my mouth and slam the trunk down.

“Daniel, we’ve got some jobs.” Catherine has left chuckles and the charming jester, and is standing a few feet away from me, “We’ve got some jobs and a place to stay.”

“What!” I light up and look her straight in the eyes; part of me wants to know what the hell she’s talking about the other if she can remember last night.

“Mark needs some more workers, he pays 150 each for the week and we get a caravan for free.” She’s smiling as he says this, she’s also drinking from a can of beer.

“We don’t need to work yet, we’ve got enough to last a few weeks at least, don’t we?” I assumed she brought more money then I did, and that Stephen emptied his dad’s wallet and the caravan site’s safe.

“Nah, not unless you’ve got more then I guessed. Me and Stephen have got two hundred between us,” she shrugs “How much have you got?”

I breathe in deeply and head for the front of the car, “Mark, what kind of work will we be doing?”

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We’re shown to our home for the next week or so by Mark’s wife, a tall blond woman in her forties, whose teeth are as yellow as mine will one day be, and has a paper back stuffed in each of her four pockets. Apparently she works in the farm’s office, working on the accounts. On our way up to the farm Mark confided in Stephen that his wife, Dawn had recently miscarried for the third time in 18 months and the seventh time in 4 years, that she suffering from a sadness right now, which means she can’t get much done, other then read. I quite like her, she doesn’t talk much on the walk from the farm to the caravan, and when she does it comes out as if it’s her dying words. When she says “The pump with the yellow handle is for the hot water, if you lift it up until it clicks, well it’ll make the whole thing a lot easier.” Sound like the most important thing in the world, and despite being hung over and maybe still drunk, I really do want to listen to everything she has to say about water pumps.

The caravans are laid out in sloppy rows, supposedly in fives, but because the wind is strong as it comes from the seas many caravans have rolled out of position, so there are rows of threes, fours and fives. Dawn walked us to the final caravan, furthest away from the farm, all it’s windows were boarded up with steel shutters, “to stop the wind breaking the glass and the glass scraping your skin off as your sleep” she tells us this as she drinks from a ‘I love cats’ coffee cup.

“So, the middle key is for the middle lock, and the blue key for the blue lock.” she instructs.

“..And the red key is for the red lock” Catherine interrupts.

“That’s right yeah. Not everybody gets that. Anyway, if you need anything, erm well someone usually does a food run in the evening, so you could catch a lift,” she sighs, and when she does her whole body seems to collapse, “Mark’s probably told you all of this, right?” she looks at each of us in turn.

“Kind of.” I give a weak smile, “But thanks anyway,”

She nods, and turns to go, handing the caravan keys to Stephen as she goes.

I watch her walk away and suddenly find myself jogging to catch her up, I can feel my friends watching me. “Wait up, hi excuse me Mandy? Mandy?” I call out her name until I’m walking alongside her, and she stops.

“Yeah what’s up honey?” she asks and my mind goes blank, I’ve no idea what I’m doing.

“What are you reading?” I indicate to the book in the bottom left pocket.

“Nothing honey, I ain’t reading nothing today.” She taps me on the cheek and walks towards her home. I stand there my shoes sinking a little in the mud, my feet getting damp, my head is going cloudy, and the sun is back in my eyes. I feel like I’ve been spat on. Looking around at all the caravans which although deserted have all been made into homes by people I’m going to meet. I want to burn each home down, then comfort to people who have lost their possessions. There are times when I think there is something wrong. I mean, something so wrong that I can’t see it yet. Something that’s beyond rotten, beyond my love for Stephen and Catherine, and the stupid things we have done and I’m sure will do again soon. Something so certain it could be called evil that it could destroy anything. If I want to find it I need to carry on searching a place to put my love, somewhere to dispose of it. Then I can take it on, fight whatever it is, destroy so I am free, or I could lie down and let it win. In one ear I hear Mandy slam her office door close, and in the other I hear my name being called out by Stephen. My feet are wet and my shoes are sinking in the mud. I have something that could be called evil. I have a lot of love. I start work tomorrow, so today I will drink, laugh and play with my friends. I will chase these thoughts from my head. They make no sense, and until they do why should I entertain them with a fake performance. On the day things become clearer I will act. Until then I shall carry on, as I have before, through my whole life, smiling, fucking, walking, killing, drinking, loving, dancing and being Daniel. Whatever that really means. I am somebody’s son, and someday someone will be mine.

I lift my feet out of the mud, and walk towards the caravan, I hear Catherine inside, opening and closing cupboards. Stephen stands outside watching me come closer.

“What the fuck are you playing at?” he asks, “Are you hitting on the bosses wife? You know that’s more my style?”

I smile, and reach for the can of beer in his hand, “Nah, I was just asking if I could borrow something to read,” I’m about to go inside the caravan when Catherine comes out.

“Oh, so what did you get?” Stephen asks. “I don’t see a book.”

“She said to come and pick something out later,” I answer him before finishing off his beer in a few quick gulps.

“Danny go get the bloody car, drive it over here.” Catherine pretty much yells.

“Sure,” I turn back away from them both. “There’s no need to shout.”

“Sorry babes.” She shouts after me, “I think I’m going deaf, I can’t hear out my left ear, must have got it filled with water last night.”

As I get further away from them, Daniel tells her it didn’t rain. Catherine asks him to have a look in her ear; he says he wants to look elsewhere. I hear them kiss, I hear Catherine pull him inside the caravan. I hear the door of my new home slam shut.

I reach the car, which has not been defecated on by cows, or ripped to shreds by the wind coming from the North Sea. I fetch a bottle of whiskey from the boot, and sit down in the drivers seat. I pop a cassette in, something loud, which doesn’t blow my mind so much as wipes it clean, as I twist the cap of the bottle and take a quick sip. Light a cigarette, I’ve smoked plenty but these things are so weak it doesn’t feel like I’ve smoked any. Looking up at the farmhouse I see Mandy in her office window, not looking at me, not looking at anything other then out into the day. She sees something much bleaker then I do, she sees the death of family, the death of her family before it was born. She sees her life passing her by. Her young husband running off with a young farm hand, or throwing Mandy into the guest room and letting the farm hand take her side of the bed. Mandy is not a woman; she’s a reader and a breeder, nothing more nothing less. To everyone, she is a woman who was trained to be a woman back when they were only cooks and cleaners, a woman whose only job was to raise a family. This is how people see her; this is how she sees herself, most of the time. Now having lost another child before it could breath she is teaching herself something else, it’s in her eyes, it’s in the way she speaks, and if we had touched I would have felt it with more clarity. Mandy is learning to hate, to despise everything and everyone, she’s pulling away from the world so it can’t hurt her no more. If she watched day time TV she’d be told to take some evening classes, but she’s too smart for that shit, there’s nothing she needs to know anymore. She has been alive for forty years, she has laughed and she has cried, but only now is she finally emptying herself of any hope. Like a domesticated cat set free in the wild with wisdom and powers she’s only beginning to understand, for a while she will be defensive, like she is now, but soon she will attack, taking note of the way other do it. She will attack, she will use her hate. I see we could be friends. We could help one another, where that help takes us unknown, but we are the same. I wonder if there are others like us. Then she closes her curtains, and I think about sex. I drink deeply from my bottle, take a long drag from my cigarette, and imagine my friends fucking in their new bed.

The whiskey warms my throat as I close my eyes, and the music of three guitars hits me like a meteor, taking me into our new home, where I have yet to be welcomed. Where Stephen stands naked by the oven, drinking from a can of Carlsberg super brew, his cock slowly going hard, as in bed Catherine peels off her clothes. His eyes run their way up and down her chubby legs, as she lets her jeans fall to the floor. She stares at his cock as it bobs up and down; she sticks her hand underneath her underwear and sees his dick rise. I wonder what it would taste like if I could run my tongue a long it tonight. Catherine laughs loudly and shakes her head, she removes her hand and takes off her t-shirt, Stephen nods his head and takes his cock in hand, she shakes her head and he reluctantly releases, Neither one of them speak, watching each other bodies protect each others bodies from the damage they could do to themselves. She offers a hand and he takes it, their fingers wrap around one another, she uses him to pull her up, until they stand face to face. He removes her bra with one hand so they stand naked, inches apart. I take another long drink, and let my body feel warm. It’s not being touched by anybody but it’s the closest I’ll get for a while. For a second I think of Christian and what it felt like when he felt asleep next to me. How I’d run my fingers along his body, until he woke with a hard on, and he’d push my head down. Another drink, and my friends are now just an inch apart, their arms by their side, they just look into one another’s eyes. The only thing connecting them is Stephen’s hard penis pushing against Catherine’s thigh. I bring the cigarette to my lips and as I do they both lean in for a kiss, softly, just a taste as they both reach out, letting go of whatever hatred that might surround them. Catherine takes Stephen’s head in her hands, and he does the same, they both hold on tight. They kiss again deeper longer, neither one will let go.

I open my eyes, and take another drink; the guitars begin to fade out. I see Christian’s body, I see the two girls whose names I don’t want to remember. I see my sisters on Christmas day, I see my parents. I see the girl I did not kill. I see Mandy’s children fully-grown and happy, running around a forest of fire, heading towards the cottage where I am buried in the garden. I see my friends fall onto the bed and fuck. I put the lid back on the bottle, and take a drag from my cigarette.


Blogger sb said...

You've split up your dialogue a bit more! You shine at dialogue, Wally.

You startle with sentences like this one: "Mark clamps one of his giant hands onto Stephen’s shoulders, his knuckle almost as big as my friends skull."

I think I'm finally getting a sense of what you're doing. But where are you taking these characters? Sometimes they chew up scenery or you chew up scenery. This is stuff you can fix in other drafts but you might want to think about what lessons or what ordinary or extraordinary events these characters will experience that will change them from better to worse or worse to better. Who is the antagonist?

Do you have some idea of where they will end up? As one-shots, these chapters prove you're a talented writer.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Sam Spid said...

Seriously... as with the previous chapters, it's getting much more focused and the characters are becoming much more separate. Also, the language here is a lot tighter. Love the pissing on a cowpat image!

I am also curious to know how you're feeling about this piece, Wally? Are you happy with how it's shaping up? Is there anything about it that you're not happy with? Is it doing what you wanted it to do?

10:37 AM  
Blogger wally said...

Milly, I think it's fair to say that my concept of better or worse change for the characters maybe different to your own. This may stem from what we've said about morality, it may be something else either way for me it's not as black and white, and I don't expeect the story to end in a place where the reader or myself can say well these folks are happy now, or they are sad now, or they are one specific thing at all.

In my mind they all the three main characters are their own and each others antagonists, any change will essentially come from themselves even if it is driven by the actions they perform and the actions performed towards them.

I've actually spent this sunday, thinking more about the stories future course, and for the first time see a handful of paths to take the narrative down. I may choose one of them I may choose several, we'll see, but it's certainly developing a focus in my mind.

Grace- I am reasonably pleased with the way it's going, I didn't have any real doubts about the characters, as they're very real people to me and have been for a while. I knew who they were, and where they'd been what I wasn't sure about was where they were going. As I say above that's becoming a little clearer.

Also and I'm sure you both will disagree with me, I'm content that the opening chapters are a little muddier then the more recent ones. It's pleasing to here that they started off as somewhat identical and only now are being read as different people. This may not have been an utterly concious effort on my part, but it's certainly something I believe to have more realisim. These kids have spent a lot of time together, and have learnt to replicate one another, so when you meet them for the first time they do seem terribly similar, and only by spending time do their differences become apparent. I think this is true in life, espeucially with people of a young age.

Honestly the main thing I'm disappointed are more to do with my own lack of skills as a writer. The prose is often repetitive, and I tend to either meander or get bogged down. Some of the incidental images I come up with are overused and obnoxious, possibly obvious. When I'm setting the scene, trying to paint a picture of the place I'm not always able to give the correct details which would enable a reader to see where they are. Like Milly has said the characters do tend to chew up the scenary and that's because I'm more comfortable and more interested in them.

As for whether the story is doing what I want it to, well, erm kinda, I set off with the idea of just exploring these three characters and hoping to help them gain some understanding of themselves and their place in the world. I seemed to have drifted off into something a tad more mystical perhaps, certainly a sense of otherness which at first I suspected was just away for me to explain to the reader what was going on in my characters heads. Now I see it has been in their heads but now it's begining to play a part in their world.

Thanks so much for the encouragement guys, it really does help. As I've already begun using your past advice, and incoperating it into what I right, if you have anymore thoughts and suggestions. I am sure to take them on board.

Also should I continue to post the chapters up? If so should try and post in 3-6 thousand word blocks? Or just go chapter by chapter? Whatever is easiest for you to read, I'm happy either way.

8:30 PM  
Blogger sb said...

Yo, writing your story y'know, you should go as quick as you can and finish it and put it away for a while so you can go back and edit with a fresh sense of what is good and what isn't. No worry bout the sentences or repetition!

It's up to you how you want to put the chapters! I'm fine readin' it this way

12:41 PM  

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