Don Maker: No good deed unpublished

(here Vanna White from another lifetime spins the wheel of misfortune) Literati! Have you not yet entered our contest Once Upon a Time? Win fame, fortune and the adulation of all your favorite genders by sending in the prologue to your work in progress. Here is that magic portal of possibilities! http://www.awordwithyoupress.com/2014/03/20/once-upon-a-time-our-new-contest/ Don Maker, who …

(here Vanna White from another lifetime spins the wheel of misfortune)

Literati!

Have you not yet entered our contest Once Upon a Time? Win fame, fortune and the adulation of all your favorite genders by sending in the prologue to your work in progress. Here is that magic portal of possibilities!

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

Don Maker, who entered the first of our forty or fifty contests years ago to get published in The Coffeeshop Chronicles for his efforts has now come back with a damsel-in-distress tale and inspired heroics!

Here is

The Grindstone

by Don Maker

Frank Lerner tripped on the doorsill and sprawled onto the ground outside the bar. He landed flat on his butt, jarring his spine. His mouth gaped open as his head snapped back. A million tiny spotlights blazed against a black curtain. Embarrassed at his clumsiness, Frank’s mouth twisted to the side as he sucked in the cool, fresh air. Too bad the beautiful nights of the Arizona summer could not make up for the days, which sucked the life from your body while it seared your skin. No wonder so many people hated the desert. Yet, no matter where he went or what he tried, he kept returning to this small, god-forsaken town. He found that ironic, even though he knew the reason. He shook his head to straighten out his jumbled thoughts, then pushed himself to his feet.

Frank fumbled with the pack of cigarettes in his pocket and fished one out. I drink too much. He lit the cigarette and stared at the match, breathing lightly through his open mouth, until the flame was close to his fingers. I smoke too much. He took a deep drag, held the fumes in his lungs, then released them in a pale cloud.

This is a waste of life. I have no one. I belong no where. I have to figure out a way to change it.

Frank moved one halting step at a time over the uneven tarmac as he turned to make his way back to the dive he was renting down the street. He reached the corner of the bar when a man’s voice came from the alley.

“You whore!” the voice yelled. “Heroine whore!”

Frank turned toward the voice. Thirty feet away, a man loomed above a much smaller figure sitting on the ground. The man was bent over, elbows resting on his knees. Like a rattler striking, he pulled his right arm back and gave the figure on the ground a violent smack across the face. A sharp cry of pain was followed by the sobbing of a woman.

“What the hell you think you’re doing?” the man yelled again.

Without thinking, Frank stepped towards the couple. The man raised his arm to strike the woman again.

“Stop!” Frank ordered.

He moved closer as the man straightened up and looked at him. In the bright moonlight, Frank saw a disdainful look on the man’s face. He seemed to have been drinking as well, but perhaps not as much. Frank automatically straightened his shoulders and raised his head as he approached.

“What the hell you want?” the man snarled. “This is none’a your business.”

“I’ll let the lady decide that. Leave her alone.”

The man laughed, a deep sound like the guttural snarl of a bear and the barking of a large dog at the same time. His sneer bared a few dark teeth.

“This ain’t no lady. This here’s a snow queen, a white horse bitch.” He whirled and smacked the woman across the face again. The movement was so sudden she’d had no time to raise her hands to protect herself. “Ain’t you, bitch!” he shouted.

All his current self-disgust, all his frustration at all the perceived injustices in the world, and all the anger of his drunken rage, focused on this one man. Frank stepped to within a few feet, his fists balled and his arms tensed.

“I told you t’leave her alone!”

The man slowly straightened up again. He stood a few inches taller than Frank, and probably weighed in the mid two-hundreds, but he looked soft, flabby. Frank tried to stop his slight swaying. The man’s sneer returned, more contemptuous than before.

“Why, you stupid little shit—”

Frank hit him with all his strength. The blow lifted the man into the air. On the other side of the alley ran a low sidewalk. The back of man’s head caught the curb right on its crown. He lay there stunned, jerkily trying to move his hand to reach the back of his injured head. Frank stood over him for a moment, his fists still clenched and ready for the fight, but the man just lay there moaning.

Frank turned toward the woman. She was silent, staring with wide eyes at the two men. He reached down to take the woman’s hand.

“C’mon, lady. I’ll take you home.”

“Get away from me!” she screamed. “You hit my husband, you bastard!”

The woman scrambled over to hold the man’s head in her lap. She stroked his hair and cooed softly at him. She held her hand up and stared at it, then looked back at Frank. Her hand was covered with blood. “You animal!” she screamed. “You hurt him!”

Stunned, Frank stood still for a moment as the woman comforted her husband. Then he slowly shook his head. The world was obviously far too complicated for him to figure it out. He turned, staggered, caught his balance, and then stumbled away.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=5kBxb-NmxNc

12 comments

  1. russ shor says:

    Great descriptions and plot twist..Stand up guy gets knocked down.. And, of course, I’d read on. if you don;t mind an edit suggestion, the next to last paragraph is unnessary..

    • Don Maker says:

      Russ, thanks so much for commenting! While I certainly welcome suggestions, I’ll let you in on a little secret — that next to last paragraph is one of the keys of the novel. I hope you do read the novel (when it’s published, of course) and see why that tiny point is so important. Cheers.

  2. Katie Evans says:

    I really enjoyed the recurring theme of animal characteristics in describing the “bad” guy and even his wife (she “coos,” rather than some other describer), and then she turns it around calling poor Frank an animal.
    I’ll be interested to read the rest when you publish!

  3. Parisianne Modert says:

    Don Maker’s Prologue to his novel “The Grindstone?” brings us instantly into the scene he draws upon as if we have time traveled falling outward through swinging doors into the west. From this beginning we realize that the man on the ground is not us, but a character who seems to return to the same small town, the same situation of drinking and smoking too much. The scene is expanded by a woman who is trouble, but as it is written, “No good dead goes unpunished”

    I am intrigued by the clue in Mr. Marker’s response of the significance of the next to last paragraph. Is this a murder trial plain and simple of defending a wife from her husband’s abuse? i doubt it. Is this a time repeating science fiction story of changing a little each time to escape one’s misdirected fate? This I do suspect, but am not sure. Could there be time travel? I suppose so, but that’s what a teaser of a prologue does, does it not? While this is not my kind of story normally, I am curious enough to read on if allowed to find out what happens next.

    • Don Maker says:

      Parisianne, I certainly hope the novel lives up to the prologue, and that you indeed honor me by reading the rest of the novel.

  4. Unlikely hero’s come in all shapes and sizes. Here the loser equalizes the universe with a bit of boozy chivalry. Perfect for the novel to come. Gritty, sandy, infected with the right thing and the twisted outcome. Nice.

    • Don Maker says:

      Thanks Michael, hope you enjoy the rest of the story. Yes, Frank is definitely a bit gritty. Cheers, Don

  5. Eli Fang says:

    The whiskey drankin’ knight in rusted armor stumbles onto the page . . . and learns the first lesson: no good deed goes unpunished. I look forward to reading about Frank’s future encounters with life’s harsh realities.

  6. Classic small town domestic incident and the noble damaged male to the rescue, ending with the female turning rattlesnake on her rescuer. This all too average event happens all the time, and as an ex-battered wife I understand it all too well. The female thanks the rescuer, and dies at the hands of a vindictive bullying git later, for accepting the rescue. She turns on the attacker and maybe won’t collect the entire balance of her lover’s misplaced rage later, or maybe will anyway.

    A poignant slice of poor living and sure to hook a large audience, since the appeal goes both to lookie-lou types who have never experienced that kind of life, as well as the survivors of the same.

    Credible balance of morose and lost, spiced with the crippled morality that lingers so often in hopeless alcoholics, like not-quite-gone specters that linger and wail in the unconscious.

    Great hook there, very skillful!

    Fond regards,

    Shawna

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