Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Beginning 433

We hid quietly. Like attic mice we peeked, terrified, down through our slatted bathroom ceiling, as we had most afternoons that summer. The small area where the plaster had fallen out provided the peephole.

“Why’s Daddy do that, Rudy?” Claire trembled.

“I dunno. Shhh.” I put my hand over her mouth, and glanced over at Lizzanne.

We stared, mortified, as the scene unfolded. It was always the same: Daddy gave Buddy, the oldest of us children, a list of chores this morning before he went to work. The chores were to be finished when Daddy got home. On a beautiful summer day, what thirteen-year-old boy could be expected to scrub kitchen floors, clean the garage and rake leaves? There were butterflies and dragonflies to chase, and lizards to catch. We had bicycles to ride and great live oak trees with dipping limbs, which summoned us to climb.

When Daddy left, Buddy glanced up at us peeping down at him, and I saw that glint in his eye that said, "Sorry, Rudy, but I can't be expected to live up to Daddy's high expectations." As soon as the car rumbled off the long, gravel driveway and onto highway forty-two, Buddy ran out the back door on his way down to Hunters Pond. The empty, lonely slam of the screen door was like the clang of prison bars.

I rolled onto my back next to Lizzanne and looked up at the alternating stripes of pink insulation and brown roof joists. "Today?" Claire poked me.

I shook my head. "No," I said to the stale, attic air. "It looks like Buddy won't get the chores done again. Daddy's gonna keep us locked up here another week."

Lizzanne sobbed quietly next to me as I watched a daddy longlegs creep across the pink insulation.

Opening: Luke.....Continuation: Anonymous


Evil Editor said...

The vote was 3 for the chosen one, two for the butt crack, and one for the underwear. Not much of a turnout.

Unchosen continuations:

* * *

Teddy could barely stand to see himself in the mirror as he washed his hands. He didn't care what the others did; he wasn't like the others. He was talented; famous. Books had been written about him; he'd been on TV; kids loved him. It didn't matter what convention said, he just couldn't go out into the woods -- not for that. He just hoped the cubs would never find out...


There was a whole world of nature outside our door, and we wanted to be part of it. How could all of this have just happened? How could it all be just an accident, like Mr. Bartleby told us? We really believed there had to be a God. Until we all saw Daddy wearing Mommy's make-up and bra and panties.


The two women in bikinis waited in the kitchen. Daddy inspected the floor again.

"It's plenty clean!" he said. "Now, you two know what to do, right?"

"Yeah," said the blonde. She snapped her gum, which was the kind of thing we should be doing, instead of watching the kitchen while Daddy worked.

"And after this," Daddy continued, "we go to the garage for the oil change scene, and then out to the backyard for the grass."

"Whatever", said the brunette. "You gonna get a real man in here this time, or we still gotta do your kid?"


We never told Father what we had seen that day; but we remained friends through High School and often speculated about it. It made no sense, and was so unlike the man we knew our Daddy to be. What would possess him to try and fix the faucet himself, when one of the Mexicans from outside Home Depot would do a better job for only five bucks and a bottle of Corona?


But none of that explained his ritual in the bathroom, his back to the mirror, his hands gripping his work trousers, his neck twisted round like an owl searching for mice; perhaps for attic mice?

It was only later, when we were grown up with responsibilities of our own, that we learned about our father's obsession. Our father, master plumber in all but his own home, took very seriously the exact amount of butt crack to show each day.


Anonymous said...

We stared, mortified, as the scene unfolded. suggests that what follows would be a description of the unfolding scene; but it takes us back to activities that morning.

If what they're watching is Buddy getting a whupping for not doing the chores, and they've watched that happen most afternoons that summer, I'd suggest Buddy is perhaps a slow learner.

Dave Fragments said...

This opening creeped me out. The children are looking down into a bathroom at their father doing something that makes them stare.

I think that before anyone reads the entire big chunk of paragraph 4 that starts with "Daddy gave Buddy," that you have to describe the events going on below the children.

Robin S. said...

I had a hard time making a choice to vote for on this continutaion, because the scene as it's set made me sad, and feel pensive.

Wasn't there a story about kids stuck up in an attic? I didn't read it - but I think it was Flowers in the Attic. Anyway, that's the feeling this gives me.

I think it's well written, and I want to know more, and yet I'm worried about what "more" is. I'd say the author did his job.

My assumption is, information on what "more" is - follows shortly.

none said...

I'm not sure about "We hid quietly". Not because it's a ly word and you've exceeded your ration, but because hiding kinda implies quietly. So it feels redundant. I'd be tempted to cut the sentence explaining the peephole; it's a lot of words for something not very important.

Perhaps you could show the kids are terrified rather than telling us? It doesn't have much impact, especially with the somewhat leisurely exposition.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I looked this one over several times when it was waiting for continuations. I had a hard time really reading it. Sounds like it will be really good then. Brings up a lot of crap for me and that's just the beginning.

Good work. Not that I'd read any further though. Creeps me out a bit too much. And I read for escape and entertainment a lot more than for horror and such.

Chris Eldin said...

I liked the first three paragraphs. By the fourth paragraph, I wanted to see and hear the conversation between Daddy and Buddy. This sets the tone for your story, it seems, and you've condensed it to a few sentences of telling. I want to know how Daddy handed the paper to Buddy. What did he say? What was Buddy's reaction? I want to know their body language, etc.

I like this though.
Good luck.