What if?: A submission via e-mail

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A submission via e-mail

I received an impressive piece from blogger Irrelephant in response to the headline exercise. Don't be shy readers and lurkers. Make sure you let your comments all hang out now. ;-)
Paul, I'm leaving your notes off for now, I think it's more fun to read the story on its own without your explanation. I'll post my thoughts later after I let this settle, but you are quite the master of the metaphor!

Oh and if you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out Daniel's story below.

Reed's Chance to Let It All Hang Out

Reed's hand stole around his back like a thief, slipped gently around the hidden blade, fingers crept around the worn leather-wrapped handle and squeezed, squeezed as a lover does his mate's hand. His footsteps echoed dully around the alley as the sun cast it's yellow rectangle at the mouth of the alley. Occasionally an errant shaft of light would slip through broken windows as he walked, but this far down they seemed to lose their enthusiasm, so that by the time they reached the garbage cans and empty boxes and trash they sulked, hid, were ashamed of their brightness and strove to hide it. He walked on, barely noticing the shafts of light, his pace regular, relaxed. He strolled, at his ease, his long legs shortening the distance easily, his hand tucked casually into his jean's waistband, a dark-haired youth out for a lazy afternoon's walk.

The end of the alley loomed in front of him, a tall canyon formed by a pair of looming buildings. They both stood empty, their exposed flanks dark and wet like horses that had been run too long, too far, their every surface spattered with mud, garbage, and the flickering green bodies of flies. The way out, the light at the end of Reed's tunnel was bright, filled with light and energy and motion, vastly unlike the dark, barely quiescent alley; the street was a golden spaniel leaping in the sun, a ribald counterpoint to the alley's bare-ribbed piebald mongrel sleeping the heat of the day away.

The length and height of the alley magnified the noises of the cars moving up and down Main St., the shush of their tires a constant background counterpoint to the flashes of colour they revealed. They dazzled his eyes, each colour as sharp as a shard of broken glass, strobing their steely glare in his eyes as each candy-losenge shape darted by the thin opening; flicker flashes in his eyes, instants caught forever in his mind: a child nursing at a red sippy-cup, a bored teenage girl resting her head against the glass window, an elderly man in a suit purposely hunched over the wheel, headed to some vitally important encounter. One after the other, a solid wall of profusion, noise, colour, chrome and glass. Movement, aimless purpose, engine noises rattling broken glass like monkeys at their cage bars.

His old canvas All Stars were quiet on the rough concrete of the pavement, each footfall swallowed up into the cathedral-heights, buried by the echoes from the street. He didn't even pause as he walked through stagnant water, old newspapers, small white morsels of pigeon filth; his step was unhurried but purposeful--he knew where he was going. He was headed to the end of the alley, there to be framed between the looming buildings, their broken glass windows watched like eyesockets in soot-greyed skulls, the rustle of pigeon wings their only reponse to his presence. And it was there for him when he arrived, framed in light, the goal so long sought, the sun making of him a young god, striking highlights off his dark hair, off his bright blue eyes. Now he would have his chance, and no one, not a soul who saw him in that triumphal moment would ever forget him. All eyes turned toward him in that frozen instant.

Tires squealed regret on the pavement as he raised the blade.


Blogger Nancy Dancehall said...

"Occasionally an errant shaft of light would slip through broken windows as he walked, but this far down they seemed to lose their enthusiasm, so that by the time they reached the garbage cans and empty boxes and trash they sulked, hid, were ashamed of their brightness and strove to hide it."
I love this description. And it mirrors the character so well.

I'd take one of the 'looms' out of the next paragraph. The spaniel/mongrel comparison is great.

"small white morsels of pigeon filth;" Great!

And a great job of tying in the last line.
I absolutely love this piece.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Irrelephant said...

Thank you, Nancy dear! I know, I really need to find a good thesaurus, but they seem to be mostly extinct these days.


Sorry, I know your proclivity for puns and wordplay. *S* I AM bad about that, though, re-using a good word too much. I strive to exorcise it but it always sneaks up at inopportune moments and bites me in the arse.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

actually my comment is going to run counter to nancy's.

The description of the alley is marvelous. I have even felt like I have been in such a furtive place by this description.

But it doesn't mirror the character. It sets the character apart. HIs environment is scattered. His demeanor is relaxed and easy.

This is cool. Reminds me of Unforgiven where the protagnist maintains his cool in a gunfight and because of it survives. but this piece seemed to take a different direction.

I love the metaphor of the street vs. the alley- spaniel vs. mongrel. The only part that was hard to swallow was the verbiage of " bare-ribbed piebald mongrel" - I like to read things outloud to get a feel for them and this didn't flow... trying saying it 5 times fast...lol

10:05 PM  
Blogger Giovanna said...

I found myself wondering what the flickers he saw were; were they things from his life? Or just the world around him?

This was really good, well written and paced. There was a nice build up of suspense, to the point where in horror you realize what he is going to do.

I have to admit though, as beautiful as the last line is, it got lost on me. I feel foolish about it too. What did the onlookers/cars have to regret? Or was it more of a screech of horror or recoil at the fact that they "saw him in that triumphal moment" and "would [never] forget him?"

5:05 PM  
Blogger Irrelephant said...

It's the surrealist in me, trying to make inanimate objects more than they really are, no longer tools but living, thinking, breathing things. Channeling Rimbaud I suppose!

Daniel--I was trying to portray Reed as relaxed, confident in his decision, past the worrying, therefore his easy pace. The 'piebald' bit? I just didn't want to use the word "mangy." *s*

And you'll notice that I didn't get into what Reed did at the street--he raised the knife, then your mind fills in what he did next. That's the interesting part for you as reader, asking yourself what the next step for Reed actually WAS. Murder? Self-mutilation? Suicide? Had he just finished his first metalworking project in class?

6:14 PM  

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