Gary Clark busted! He used to go gay*

The founder of Tom Green County, where this story takes place.   * (play incriminating video. I know enough of Gary Clark, however, to know that if her were gay, there would be no closet in Texas big enough to hold him, not even in Tom Green County.  Read further to find out why he …

The founder of Tom Green County, where this story takes place.

 

* (play incriminating video. I know enough of Gary Clark, however, to know that if her were gay, there would be no closet in Texas big enough to hold him, not even in Tom Green County.  Read further to find out why he was really busted!)

Literati!

Stefanie Alison and Julie Mark Cohen have shamed Gary Clark into a confession and redemptive action.  The confession?  The prologue he submitted into our contest, Once Upon a Time, was not a prologue at all, but a first chapter.  The penance?  He has created a fo’ real prologue for your entertainment and chance at redemption.

Time for you to enter the contest yourselves, oh Literati linguists.  Here is how to achieve fortune and fame, and maybe even a date with the editor-in-chief (moi)at the McDonald’s of his choice. (dutch)

http://www.awordwithyoupress.com/2014/03/20/once-upon-a-time-our-new-contest/

Here is cowboy and keeper-of-the-bull-formerly-known-as-Bob’s act of redemption: the prologue to

Santa Fe Trek 

by Gary Clark

Travis heard the steel gate slam behind him and a brass key rattled in the lock.

“Judge’ll be here next week, kid,” the sheriff said. “You don’t give me no trouble and we’ll get along just fine.” He stared at Travis, raised his right eyebrow then patted the Colt .45 on his right hip.

Travis nodded.

Walking toward the staircase, the sheriff’s heavy boots raised dust off the creaking floor. He stopped at the top of the stairs and tore May, June, and July off the Hartford Mutual calendar. Then, trudging down to his office, the wooden stairs wheezed and groaned under his huge belly. At the bottom of the stairs, a door squeak opened and slammed shut.

Travis was alone in the sweltering cellblock. The calendar showed August, 1918.

He took off his sweat soaked shirt, wiped his boyish face and looked around the cellblock. Thick iron bars divided the room into four cells with a walkway down the center – two cells on his side, two on the other side, four dust-caked windows with two steel bars in each, one window in each cell, all nailed shut.

He coughed in the stale, stifling air. The same air that had been in the cell block since it was built forty years before. The air reeked from the sweat and blood and fear of every cattle rustler, bank robber, and quick-draw murderer that had ever been held there. Travis’s smell blended into the mixture.

Rubbing the dust off his window with the heel of his fist, he stared out past the bars of the Tom Green County Jail. He watched a farm family on a buckboard loaded with commodities from the mercantile roll down the dusty street. A man and woman dressed in patched and threadbare clothes sat on the bench on the buckboard. Their skin, leathered from years of hard work in the hot west Texas sun, showed them to be older than their true age. Six barefoot, stair-step boys in patched overalls and no shirts bounced along on the back of the buckboard, dug anxiously through the boxes looking for sweet treats buried somewhere among the bare necessities.

When the buckboard rolled past Miss Charlotte’s Saloon, Travis’ eyes shifted to another farm wagon parked in front of the saloon. On the wagon, three young boys in overalls and wide brim straw hats sat at attention just as Travis and his brothers had done years before. By their tyrannical father’s command, the young boys waited in silence, staring straight forward into the blistering heat. Neither of them moved. They knew too well the consequences of disobedience.

Travis shook his head and looked up at the ceiling, “Help them. Lord. I’ve been there and I know where their lives are goin’.”

Then the smallest of the boys turned and spoke to his older brothers. They ignored him and held their straightforward stare. The young boy turned and surveyed the front of the saloon.

Travis sucked in a deep breath and beat the heels of his fists against the bars in his jail cell window, “No,” he yelled out to the young boy when he jumped down from the wagon. The boy spat on the boardwalk, cocked his head, stuck his thumbs in his pockets and strutted boldly between the swinging saloon gates.

 

13 comments

  1. Parisianne Modert says:

    When one reads Gary Clark’s writings, one is assured of rich descriptives with equal emotions which speak to the author’s heritage and Texas plains experiences. “Santa Fe Trek”, here in prologue, is a restless animal stalking while caged in and a human pleading to a young boy not to live as he, the condemned, has lived his own life. This prologue allows us an entrance into a world, August 1918, none of us have experienced, but will certainly capture our interest to understand. I sense a backstage rehearsal in this scene with the swinging saloon gates being an entrance through the curtains to begin Chapter 1. Very well written, moving, expressive and showing us how a prologue can be Gary. I remain a devoted fan of your writings for which “Santa Fe Trek” increased my admiration of your talent.

  2. You know what? This is a damn if you do, damn if you don’t. The women folk said your other entry was too long, but, as far as intrigue, and pre-plot development, your first entry has it hands down. Their valid points of drag on and on is valid to a point. After that, I don’t know. Look at Parisianne”s, and Kenneth’s. Even Thorn’s is too long (The prologue, I mean). So there you have it. One thing I do know is, your story’s gonna be damn good.

    • Glclark says:

      Brother Stang, this new non-entry was just some fun to show Julie and Stars that I love ’em and respect their ‘stand-up’ way of doing critiques. Sometimes we all need our ugly babies pointed at and being told that they need a diaper change (publisher talk for “This STINKS). I love those ladies and even though I don’t read at a high enough level to understand what their stories are about sometimes, I know they’re good. (and YES, we really do still move our lips when we read down here).
      I think we all get tired sometimes of the glowing praise that is poured like chocolate sauce all over a mediocre entry into any number of contests. It sometimes stings a bit when we get a friend/s who cares enough about us to give us legitimate, honest, well intentioned, “This is what I see about your writing and something that you might consider changing”, critique. It takes courage to offer suggestions like that to a writer friend.
      But back to this entry…………that little sucker jumped off the wagon and is about to poke a stick in a hornet’s nest. Santa Fe Trek is a good story and I’m about half through writing it.
      Buddy and Snug is about three chapters into the novel and it’s gonna be good to – my usual heavy character development and emotional crisis.

    • I stand strong in my womenfolkness… and I was one of the folks that said his last entry was just fine, length be danged. And fo da rekkid I too think that his story is gonna be awesomesauce on fries.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      I never said Gary’s first entry was too long at all Michael, so not all of us womenfolk think so. Please keep in mind people that I am both a fan of Gary Clark’s writing and my own femininity. My reasoning on the length not being the important factor is that I read and have read literature of many ages. I refuse to restrict myself to 21st century, publish what will sell or perish mentality nor what might be suggested in current college graduate courses of modern literature. I believe Roy Rogers once sang, “Don’t fence me in…” which when applied to a prologue means the value is in the content more than the structure and that is no bull. The value of a prologue in this contest is to introduce us to where each story truly begins, give us insights as to where it might lead us without giving away the story’s mystique and prepare us to open our minds to another “Once Upon A Time” story.

      I believe the time for critique which takes aim of line item, which phrase should come first or editing concerns are better left to beta testing groups before publishing. The bull riders are out of the pen, so let them ride their own ride whether they are Gary Clark or any of the rest of us. Bull rides are like prologues with some being shorter and some longer, but all belong in the rodeo.

  3. Julie Mark Cohen says:

    Gary,
    I love you, too. Please keep the love circulating and kindly offer constructive criticism — positive and negative — for my Prologue (currently in-progress).

    This post is much more like a prologue, me thinks. You snared my attention and kept it throughout. I know where the story is taking place, have an idea about the era, know a little bit about the previous actions (well, Travis was thrown into the pokey), and have some foreshadowing to ponder. Good stuff.

    I’m wondering about the importance of the sheriff in the story? You spent a lot of time describing him, but not so much on Travis. That is, I can picture the porky sheriff, but not Travis.

    Please note: Mr. Sully, bless his pointed, oops thorned, head, encouraged me to continue offering detailed crits as my time permits. Please don’t take anything that I say as gospel — I’m still trying to become a better critic and will likely never reach my goal. I hope to learn something from my efforts and, maybe, just maybe, be lucky enough to share a tidbit that has some value to the author.

    The below is for your consideration, to take or toss as you wish. Most of my comments are with respect to grammar — consistency, shortening and tightening — hopefully, without changing the Texas tone of your story.

    — –

    Travis heard the steel gate slam behind him and a brass key rattled in the lock.
    >> This reads awkwardly to me: “Travis… heard a brass key rattled in the lock.” Suggestion: Either connect the above so that both actions are heard by Travis or use two sentences. Here’s what I mean:
    >> Travis heard the steel gate slam behind him and a brass key rattle in the lock. ((“Rattled” seems to be the wrong tense?))
    >> Travis heard the steel gate slam behind him. A brass key rattled in the lock.

    [paragraphs snipped]

    Walking toward the staircase, the sheriff’s heavy boots raised dust off the creaking floor. He stopped at the top of the stairs and tore May, June, and July off the Hartford Mutual calendar. Then, trudging down to his office, the wooden stairs wheezed and groaned under his huge belly. At the bottom of the stairs, a door squeak opened and slammed shut.
    Travis was alone in the sweltering cellblock. The calendar showed August, 1918.

    >> The sheriff is more than his huge belly (I hope!). Above, a suggestion:
    >> groaned under his huge belly à groaned from the (moving) weight (or heft?) of his huge belly

    He took off his sweat soaked shirt, wiped his boyish face and looked around the cellblock. Thick iron bars divided the room into four cells with a walkway down the center – two cells on his side, two on the other side, four dust-caked windows with two steel bars in each, one window in each cell, all nailed shut.

    >> Above, how about: sweat soaked à sweat-soaked

    >> Above, I think that you can shorten and tighten the description of the cellblock. Perhaps: remove – “two cells on his side, two on the other side” because there’s no loss of meaning in doing so.
    >> A walkway down the center divided the room into two plus two thick-ironed cells, each with dust-caked, two-barred windows nailed shut.

    He coughed in the stale, stifling air. The same air that had been in the cell block since it was built forty years before. The air reeked from the sweat and blood and fear of every cattle rustler, bank robber, and quick-draw murderer that had ever been held there. Travis’s smell blended into the mixture.

    >> Suggestion above:
    >> He coughed in the stale, stifling air. The same air à He coughed in the stale, stifling air, the same air

    >> Maybe…
    >> Travis’s smell blended into the mixture. à Travis’ smell was indiscernible from the rest.

    Rubbing the dust off his window with the heel of his fist, he stared out past the bars of the Tom Green County Jail.
    [part of paragraph snipped]
    Six barefoot, stair-step boys in patched overalls and no shirts bounced along on the back of the buckboard, dug anxiously through the boxes looking for sweet treats buried somewhere among the bare necessities.

    >> Upon re-reading, I know that you shifted back to Travis, but here’s a suggestion:
    >> he stared à Travis stared

    >> Above, I’m unfamiliar with “stair-step boys.” Please advise: what are they?
    >> Above, suggestion:
    >> buckboard, dug anxiously à buckboard and dug anxiously…. or… buckboard. They dug anxiously…
    (I’ve been placing adverbs before verbs (i.e., anxiously dug), per a voice left in my head from my 10th grade English teacher. Just my preference now.)

    When the buckboard rolled past Miss Charlotte’s Saloon, Travis’ eyes shifted to another farm wagon parked in front of the saloon. On the wagon, three young boys in overalls and wide brim straw hats sat at attention just as Travis and his brothers had done years before. By their tyrannical father’s command, the young boys waited in silence, staring straight forward into the blistering heat. Neither of them moved. They knew too well the consequences of disobedience.

    >> Above, the repetition of “saloon”…
    >> A suggestion: parked in front of the saloon à parked in front of the establishment

    >> Above, suggestion: the young boys waited in silence à they waited in silence

    >> Above, neither implies “two,” but you have three boys. Maybe, staring straight-forward, motionless into the blistering heat.

    >> Above, you introduced a POV in the last sentence. Do you want to get into the boys’ heads?
    >> Maybe, clearly obedient, staring straight-forward, motionless into the blistering heat.

    [end snipped]

  4. I appreciate you making the changes for the sake of the readers. I really do. And I appreciate your ability to know the story so well that you can easily draw us in from totally different eyes. My lead characters hardly ever do what I want. Not only that, I like the way you draw the reader in through their nose. The description of Travis’ captivity through the framework of scent was awesome.

    That said, my petulant love of your writings stands… perhaps I have a crush on your talent??? I completely disagree that the last submission could not be a prologue. But between the two, I have to own that this “fits” more as a prologue according to best practices. Knowing what I’ve already read, this seems like a great teaser for the 2nd perspective. Or, if the novel were a series of vignettes from the perspectives of the main characters, or the town… who knows… write on my creative sibling… write on.

  5. Mike Casper says:

    Ah, Mr. Clark, you took me on a journey from my hotel room in Los Angeles (down comforter, thermostat on 68, flat screen blaring FOX NEWS) to a hot, dusty west Texas jail cell circa 1918 in just a few dozen lines. Booooyyaaaaa!

    Heads up, folks, the Cowboy’s back!

  6. Diane Cresswell says:

    Ok Cowboy had to drop in to see what this contest has been about. Been busy, but curiosity has won out. I like the beginning of this story. I sat here musing a bit on just where you could be going with it and where it would end up. Knowing you… I figured it was going to be a rip snortin’ yarn that would take us up and down and through the valleys of whatever kingdom come you created. i admit i liked the first one also – more grit to it, but this one with a bit of chewing tobacco or licorice stick might turn out right nice. Good to read your stories again.

  7. Uh… my head is still ringing from watching the lad jump down and stroll towards for his beating. I too, know exactly what is going to happen next. Wonderful gut hook there, the youngest and cockiest children always take it in the nose I suppose.

    Still, there promise of that young strength is always a draw. The juxtaposition of ruined young man and his fear for a boy lends an easy look into the heart of our protagonist, and the hook set so gently I hardly noticed it. Very skillful presentation of a scenario promising blood and heartache right up front. How else can our noble cowboy rise to his most impressive nobility; indeed how can anyone ?
    Lovely start.

    Fond regards

    Shawna

  8. Uh… my head is still ringing from watching the lad jump down and stroll towards for his beating. I too, know exactly what is going to happen next. Wonderful gut hook there, the youngest and cockiest children always take it in the nose I suppose.

    Still, the promise of that young courage is always a draw. The juxtaposition of ruined young man and his fear for a boy lends an easy look into the heart of our protagonist, and the hook set so gently I hardly noticed it. Very skillful presentation of a scenario promising blood and heartache right up front. How else can our noble cowboy rise to his most impressive nobility; indeed how can anyone ?
    Lovely start.

    Fond regards

    Shawna

  9. geez.

    No edit key. Apologies to all and sundry. Poor vision, graceless fingers and dyslexia make me look silly when I can’t edit 🙂

    Please pardon my clumsy typos ect. I only edit my real work.

Comments are closed.