Old stuff

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! Mine was tasty, with much lazing about. Started in on season 4 of The Sopranos. Such a great show, though I have to admit the first season was a bit slow (probably would have made a great 2 hour movie). It really picks up after that. Hang on, that’s the year 2001 calling, asking for my opinion back. Perhaps next week I’ll post about this other great show I discovered called MASH.

I don’t have much to post at the moment. I’m working to finish up my secret Santa story for my writing group, due this Saturday. Just so I’m not neglecting this place, I thought I’d dig through the old “My Documents” file and see what’s what.

I found this little number, file name “shaws faust”. I believe I was in the grueling Great Books program at UNT and we’d just read Goethe’s Faust. It’s a fantastic work (at least the first portion), and it apparently inspired some ideas. I ambitiously set out to write a sort of modern version of the story, with some regular nobody in place of Faust. I’d guess this was written about 7 years ago, probably one of the last things I worked on before I took a hiatus from writing. Yeesh. It’s pretty messy, but I still kinda dig the idea, so maybe this is something I’ll pick up again sometime. Why they’re hanging out on a mountain in the first bit is any body’s guess. And yes, it does end mid-sentence. I’m sure you’ll all be biting your nails to find out what Laura does when he answers the door.

[shaws faust — Untitled]

Shaw made the mistake—again—of looking down as a few chips of stone clattered along the side of the mountain. The loose rock skipped and bounced a few hundred feet, then disappeared into the mist that besieged the base of the mountain. Shaw had only a vague fear of falling; the wind whipping across his body, tearing at his coat and stealing his breath, pretty much kept him plastered to the stone wall. The ledge on which he stood was solid, and extended about a foot from the wall. Shaw shivered as the rocks vanished from sight, then looked up toward the snowy cap.

“Remind me again why we’re here,” Shaw shouted.

“Don’t look at me,” Dave, his companion on this excursion from life, said from a few meters behind. “You’re the one who burned his own house down.”

“Shit,” Shaw muttered, and he continued to creep up the trail.

****

Dave stood just behind Shaw as the house burst into flames. Shaw jumped, startled at how fast a simple match had consumed his childhood home. He looked back at Dave, who smiled. Twin columns of smoke rose from a cigarette held behind Dave’s back and rose up to curl about either side of his head.

“What did you do, douse the entire house in gasoline?” Shaw asked. Heat from the house, though a full yard away, was making him sweat only seconds after the blaze started.

“Gasoline is for amateurs,” Dave said with a cluck of his tongue. “Too easy to spot by anyone investigating. No, this was my own special brew.”

The flames rose defiantly toward the stars. Curiously, the fire stuttered and fell at a certain height, never getting any higher no matter how hot it raged. It was as though there was a barrier that even Dave’s fires couldn’t breach. Dave glared at the stars for a moment, then took a long drag from his cigarette. After a moment, he flicked the butt into the inferno.

“We’d best be off then,” he said. “Bonfire like this won’t go unnoticed for long.”

****

Shaw’s parents were killed some two seconds after their plane, a 727 carrying them back from San Francisco to Dallas, slammed into the side of the Rocky Mountains. The plane was off course, trying to fly around a storm that had cropped up over Nevada. Inexplicably, the storm changed course, as though it had it out for the aging airliner. Buffeted by fierce winds, blinded by rain and cloud, the overwhelmed pilots didn’t see the mountain until it was too late.

As a teenager, with a youthful exuberance that his son would never have believed possible from the old man, Shaw’s father had enjoyed getting drunk and crushing beer cans underfoot. There was little else to do where he grew up. Thirty some odd years later his 727 did its impression of one of those beer cans against the side of the mountain.

“No, sir, there was no malfunction,” the woman from the airline said, her voice crackling somewhat over the phone. “The plane was fine, and we believe the pilots did everything they could. The mountain just…got in the way.”

“It got in the way?” Shaw said. He felt his world fall apart word by word. On his parents’ television he watched helicopters circle a mile long trench that the flaming airplane had created down the side of the Rocky Mountains.

“It sort of falls into the ‘Act of God’ category, sir.”

Shaw was speechless. The airline rep sat in uncomfortable silence for a moment, then returned to her script.

“Southwest Airlines offers its condolences, sir. As a gesture of sympathy we’d like to offer you three hundred frequent flyer miles good for any destination in the continental United States.”

“Great. I can fly to Austin,” Shaw said, and he dropped the phone to its cradle. It was an old phone, and the bell chimed as the handset rattled into place. Before the chime had finished trailing off there was a knock at the door.

As Shaw descended the stairs of his parents home, he realized for the first time how big and empty his childhood home was. His footsteps echoed in the halls. He could hear every tick of the clock above the mantel. Without his parents, it was just a building. The fireplace was cold, filled only with a few ashes that had been half heartedly stirred by Shaw’s father the night before he and his wife had departed for their annual vacation. There were dirty dishes in the sink, crusted with tomato sauce and dry noodles, their last meal at home. Shaw wondered if his mother would haunt this house until he did the dishes, her last unfinished business on this earth.

Shaw opened the door as his visitor was knocking again. His best friend, Laura