Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Work

I've been recently inspired to re-do a lot of Book One. A lot of stuff I'll keep, a lot of stuff I'll just ditch outright, and a lot of stuff I'll add...especially back-story (which Book One was lacking).

Here's a sample of what I've recently done:

It seemed like it had only been yesterday that he drove up this winding dirt road with his father. But that had been many years ago. He looked up the slope of the hill, through the trees, to the log building in the distance. A chill crept down his spine. Could this be the first real sign of progress? Would he get lucky today?

He drove up to the diminutive parking lot and stopped his car. As he got out, he looked around. There was a booth nearby that wasn't there when he visited in the 80's. The sign posted on it indicated that he was to pay his entry fee there. He walked up to the booth and looked through the open window. An older lady sat inside. She looked up.

"Welcome to Orgonon. Are you here to just visit, or did you want the tour?"

"Um…just visit for now," Henry replied. "I might get the tour later."

"All right. Have you ever been here before?"

"Ages ago. I was just a kid."

"Oh," she said with a smile. "Well, then, welcome back." She grabbed a brochure off of a stack and handed it to Henry. "There's a list of tour times in there…" She pointed to a schedule in the upper right corner. "and a map of the premises. You can pretty much go wherever you want, but don't disturb Patrick."

"Huh?" Henry looked at the lady with some confusion.

"He used to work with William Washington, ages ago. Mr. Washington passed on some time ago, but old Pat, for some reason, won't quit. He's easily over a hundred, and he's been here all summer, for the most part. He just sits over there…" She gestured towards a path. "…And does nothing. I swear, I don't know why. Walks up the road in the morning…walks down the road at night. Strangest damn thing. Never talks to anyone, either. Don't think he has, really, for twenty years."

"Twenty years? He's been doing this for twenty years?"

"Nah, darlin'. He's only been making this daily trek this summer. Started doing it around the end of May, not too long after we opened up for the season."

Henry had the oddest sensation at the back of his mind. "Maybe he's waiting for someone."

The woman shrugged. "Maybe. Don't know who. His family's either dead or moved away. None of his old colleagues are still alive."

"And he talks to nobody?"

"Nope. People have tried. He just sits on the bench, looking out over the mountains. You're welcome to try, but don't expect much of a response."

Henry nodded to the older lady, paid the fee and thanked her. He then walked straightaway to the path.

The footpath was just wide enough for a person to walk down, and still be brushed upon by the fir fronds. The air was cool and quiet. It was already mid-afternoon. The trip from Orton to Rangeley took longer than he had remembered. It had been about twenty years, so time must have skewed his recollection.

After walking through the thicket for a few minutes, it opened up to a small clearing. The clearing overlooked the mountains to the west. In the clearing was a huge old device that Henry remembered from his childhood. It supposedly controlled the weather once. Henry could see why the government would want to suppress that kind of technology. They probably figured real havoc could be wreaked with that kind of device. Supposedly, it once worked, but the government forced the institute to dismantle part of it and fill it with grout.

Next to the weather device was a bench, and on the bench sat a very old man. He sat, hunched over, and stared blankly into the distance. He wore brown pants and a tan shirt, as wrinkled as his skin. A few wisps of white hair floated in the breeze. His glasses were thick-rimmed and black. The man never so much as acknowledged Henry's arrival.

Henry stood there, fixated on the elderly man, for a good half-minute. Then, to not appear rude, Henry walked up and introduced himself. "Hello, sir…my name is Henry Gusman."

The old man didn't even so much as give Henry a glance.

"Uhm…" Henry dug a toe in the dirt and looked around. "…Beautiful afternoon, eh?"


Henry cleared his throat. This was getting uncomfortable. "I hear you come here often? I used to visit here…many years ago."

The man said nothing. The man didn't even twitch in acknowledgment. For all Henry knew, this could be a very life-like statue. Only the shallow breathing gave away that the man was even alive.

"Uh…I'm really sorry to have bothered you. I'm not sure why I did. Please excuse me." Feeling disappointed, he turned to head back down the path. Perhaps there would be more clues within the institute? But if all the knowledge of the technology he was seeking was long ago confiscated, he wouldn't find too much within the building.

"Wait…" A voice croaked from behind him. Henry stopped dead in his tracks and slowly turned around. The old man was now looking intently at Henry.


"Call me Pat," he replied. His voice was barely more than a hoarse whisper.

"Nice to meet you, Pat," Henry said as he walked back up to the old man.

"Likewise." Pat grunted. "I suspect the lady in the booth told you quite a yarn about me."

"A bit. Said you've been visiting the institute all summer."

"Yup. Felt compelled. Guess it's coz I'm on my way out. Gonna be pushin' up daisies soon." Pat grunted again. "One hundred four years old, this past July."

"Wow. Congratulations. May I?" Henry gestured at an empty spot on the bench.


Henry took a seat next to Pat.

"Sorry if I was so aloof…never really felt the need to talk much, I guess."

"It's all right," Henry responded.

"Every day I've come up here, unless the weather was really bad. Bring my lunch. Sat and ate and looked out over the valley. It's quite beautiful here. Nothing like New Jersey…"

Henry nodded. "Born and raised in Maine. I've only left the state for work or for the military."

Pat shifted his posture, and for a moment, Henry thought he saw a look of disgust on his face. "Sorry, don't mind me. Not much of one for government types. If you've been here before, I'm sure you know why."

"I do. And I find it unfair what the government did to Mr. Reich and his work."

"Mmm." Pat grunted again. The two sat in silence for a while. The silence was on the verge of becoming uncomfortable when Pat said, "I guess you're as good a guy as any. And I am on my way out as it is…" He turned slowly to the brown bag next to him. Henry figured he was going to share his lunch with him, until Pat pulled out a neatly folded bundle of papers. With a shaking arm, he handed them to Henry.

Henry swallowed and took the papers from him. He opened them up.

"There's some newer stuff in there…after everything happened," Pat explained.

I guess, Henry thought to himself. The diagrams and text were remarkably familiar. One part caught his eye almost immediately: small version of the AG synchrotron generator will reverse polarity of normal helium electrons. The one to one ratio of normal helium electrons to the antimatter form of helium electrons (positrons) will cause a high-powered explosion resulting in vast amounts of energy…

Henry swallowed again. Hard. He looked at the old man, who was staring right back at him. "I hope you can use it," Pat said with a little more timbre in his voice. Pat then sighed and turned back to the view of the mountains.

" you," Henry managed to stammer out.

Pat shrugged, and sighed again.

The two sat in silence for a little while, then Henry asked, "Do you mind if I stay here for a little while longer?"

Pat shrugged again. "It's good to have the company," he croaked.

They sat and watched the sun sink ever lower in the sky in silence for what seemed like hours. Henry's mind was reeling. After three months of fret and worry, he finally had the technology in his hands. He thought about the papers in his hands briefly, and noticed he was clutching the papers very tightly. Henry glanced at his watch, and saw that it was getting close to six in the evening.

"Well, Pat…I should get going. Thank you again. You have no idea what this means to me."

Pat remained silent. Henry looked at the old man, figuring he must have gone back into his silent vigil, but then noticed his eyes were closed. Feeling a bit of a creep going up his spine, he then noticed that the man wasn't even breathing. Henry quickly checked Pat for a pulse, and slowly withdrew when he felt none.

I guess he was waiting for me, Henry thought, as his body suddenly became covered in goose bumps. "I don't know if you can really hear me or not," Henry said lowly, "but I really am thankful for this. Bless you, sir."

With that, Henry turned to head down the path and tell the booth attendant that Pat needed attention.


Blogger ahickpoet said...

This is a compelling beginning, and I'm already into the story. I'd like to have more physical detail and action during the dialogue, where the dialogue is attached to an action of the character rather than a struggle for a different way to say "said." I also stumbled a bit when you say that the knowledge of the technology had been confiscated. You can confiscate documentation of knowledge, or technology, but not knowledge itself.

Thanks for sharing this.

3:35 PM, May 14, 2008  
Blogger xanadian said...

2 very good points. Thanks for the input!

5:50 PM, May 14, 2008  
Blogger r louis scott said...

I notice that you seem to get a Hemingway-esque sort of thing going with your word choices and the repetition of those words. Have you ever used a tape recorder to read your story into and then play back? Believe me, it will make some things really pop out at you.

I think the latter part of this flows better than the first part. You have a more comfortable and natural exchange of dialogue and better pacing between speech and descriptive phrases. Keep at it!


10:25 PM, May 14, 2008  
Blogger xanadian said...

Nope, never used a tape recorder, but I'll give it a shot.

I think my style might come from the fact that I used to read a lot of Hemingway back in the day. And I have cats. Lots of cats.


9:00 AM, May 15, 2008  
Blogger R. A. Baker said...

I stumbled across your site, and read some of the earlier postings, regarding some of your publisher struggles after getting your first novel out. I'm glad to hear that you are still writing. It can be discouraging at times, but keep it up! I look forward to seeing more of your work in print.

6:12 PM, June 01, 2008  

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